19th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral say whether any further consideration has been given to the building of .homes for telephone linemen in the various towns in which the district head quarters are located? If not, will the Postmaster-General cause further investigations to be made on this subject, in order that the many married men employed on this important work may be able to live with their wives and families near their places of work?
Senator COOPER.^1 shall bring the honorable senator’s questions to the notice of the Postmaster-General. I hope to be able to furnish a considered reply at an early date.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral agree to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-47, to provide for the establishment of an Australian economic council, to consist of the Commonwealth Statistician and an economist from each of the six States, for the purpose of devising methods for the collection and compilation of information which will permit the basic wage to be adjusted automatically according to the prosperity of the industries of Australia which are - (a) below average prosperity : (b) of average prosperity ; and (c) above average prosperity? In view of the fact that the basic wage in -Australia will soon be increased by £1 a week on the ground of prosperity, will the Minister, should hia reply to the previous question be in the affirmative, agree or arrange to transfer to such a council the control of that section of the Statistician’s Branch nf the Department of the Treasury, which deals with the retail prices index numbers, “ C “ series - al] items- - in order ,to prevent increases granted by the industrial court on the ground of prosperity from being subsequently absorbed in and registered as higher living costs? Will the Minister, for the purpose of extirpating an absurdity, consider . amending the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, so that the declarations of the industrial court in respect of the basic wage shall operate and have the force of law as from an appointed date and before awards of the court have been varied to agree with such declarations?
– The last portion of the honorable senator’s question seems to suggest that this Parliament might pass a law which would declare that a decision of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court should operate at some point of time before the particular award to which it is applicable is made by the court. I should think that the Parliament had no power to do that. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the only body which can deal with the general question of wages is the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. It does that by making awards of its own, and this Parliament has no control over it as to the form that those awards should take. The honorable senator’s question is somewhat lengthy but I gather that the first part of it suggests some dissatisfaction with the present method of measuring fluctuations in the basic wage by reference to the “ C “ series index, and that it then suggests some alternative method by which that might be done. In reply to that portion of the question, I inform the honorable senator that the present method was very closely examined by the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in the course of recent proceedings before it, and a great deal of attention was paid to the “ C “ series index. If honorable senators examine the judgments of the court - particularly the judgment of the two learned judges who awarded the increase in the basic wage - they will see that, despite the closest examination of the method which is at present employed, it is felt by the court, and, I think, also by trade union advocates before the court, that it is undesirable to alter the present method.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he has seen a statement by Mr. J. A. Ferguson, federal president of the Australian Labour party, to the effect that the answer. of that party to the appeal of the Prime Minister for full production would be in the negative ? Will the Minister request the Prime Minister to take steps to counteract the effects of that deplorable statement in order to convince the public that under-production is one of the chief causes of rising prices?
– I did read with some dismay and disappointment a statement attributed to the federal president of the once great Australian Labour party. What attitude the Prime Minister proposes to take in regard to the matter I am not in a position, at this moment, to indicate. However, as the honorable senator has indicated, it is- a matter of great regret that a person occupying a responsible position should adopt such an irresponsible attitude. Incidentally, I understand that he is the same gentleman who recently presided at a conference of the Australian Labour party executive, as a result of which honorable senators opposite were given instructions to abandon their opposition to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Trade and Customs by pointing out that, in contrast to the pernicious statement of the president of the Australian Labour party executive, Mr. Ferguson, when he appeared on a public platform in association with Senator MoKenna in Sydney last night, is the report of a recent delegation of British trade unionists to the United States of America which states ‘ that a rising standard of living can only be ensured through increasing industrial productivity or output per man-hour. Will the Minister consider offering facilities to Australian trade unions to send a delegation to the United States of America and the United Kingdom in the hope that Australian trade unionists will be induced to share the enlightened opinions of their fellow workers abroad, rather than continue to rely upon the dismal, depressing and reactionary outlook of people like Mr. Ferguson?
– I have sufficient faith and confidence in my fellow Australians to believe that Mr. Ferguson does not truly represent the great Australian trade union movement. I am sure that Australian trade unionists generally regard their obligation to their country as far transcending any mistaken loyalty they may have to a man who is putting them on the wrong track. I think that much good could be done by trade unionists in Great Britain, the United States of America, Australia and the other dominions getting .together. I am sure that the workers realize as we do the tremendous responsibility that rests on the shoulders of the industrial movement.
– Does the Minister for Trade and Customs not think that it would have been much more gracious if, before replying to the question by Senator Wright, he had read the full text of what Mr. Ferguson had said instead of making an attack on him?
– I was not aware that I had made an attack on Mr. Ferguson. I do not think Mr. Ferguson will deny the statement that has been attributed to him in the newspapers. My remarks were directed not so much to that proposition as to the blatant confession of every Opposition senator yesterday from Senator McKenna to the lowliest honorable senator opposite that members of the Labour party had changed their attitude to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill on the floor of this Senate under instructions. After making that statement Opposition senators then proceeded to endeavour to demonstrate that they had had no change of heart in regard to the measure and that they still believed it to be iniquitous, but that they had changed their tactics because a higher voice had directed them to do so.
-As the Minister’s reply indicates that he considers the lack of production to be wholly due to the employees, will he inform the Senate whether the Government has made, or intends to make, any approach to employers in order to obtain increased production by improvement of facilities generally ?
– The ^ point raised by the honorable senator is very well taken. The Minister for Labour and National Service has had many conferences with representatives of both employees and employers. As the result of his tactful and skilful handling of a delicate situation, the position has already considerably improved. I am happy to say, too, that employeremployee relationships have also considerably improved.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, by saying that during the last few weeks honorable members on this side of the House have directed to Ministers a number of questions in relation to the shortage of coal, steel and houses, and putting value back into the £1. In reply to those questions, Ministers have said we shall see a great improvement of the position as soon as the Communist Party Dissolution Bill is passed. I ask the Minister whether, now that that bill is about to be passed, he can give us any idea when we can expect an improvement of production .and value to be put back into the £1?
– In these uncertain days, nothing is certain. The honorable senator has said that the Communist Party Dissolution Bill is about to be passed, but for all we know, the master may speak again and other instructions may be issued. Honorable senators opposite have already indicated that they are not free agents in this matter and that, gladly, humbly and soullessly, they do what they are told to do by their outside master. It would assist the Government to put value back into the £1 if the Opposition were to ask Mr. Ferguson to change his attitude and withdraw his gratuitous statement that he will not co-operate with the Prime Minister to achieve increased production.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is a fact that, according to figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician, 14,149,451 lb. of powdered milk, valued at £1,220,512, was exported from Australia in 1948-49, and 23,865,000 lb., valued at £1,955,665, in 1949-50? If this be so, will the Minister review this large-scale exportation of a product that is so urgently needed in isolated districts of Australia ?
– The matter to which the honorable senator has referred is the responsibility of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, and I shall cause the information contained in the question to be referred to him for his attention.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Supply aware that there is a great shortage of tinned fruit and powdered milk in Western Australia? Is the shortage caused by the export of these commodities to overseas countries, from which exporters receive higher prices than they receive in Australia? Will the Minister request his colleague to review the system of issuing export licenses in order to ensure that the home market shall .be adequately supplied with these commodities? If the cause of the shortage is a lack of tinplate, will the Minister request his colleague to make representations to the Minister for Supply in the United Kingdom Government, who allocates Britain’s exportable surplus of this material?
– I agree that there is a shortage of tinplate in. this country, but the Minister for Supply is now engaged in negotiations for increased imports of ‘this commodity from both soft and hard currency areas. I assure the honorable senator that quantities of tinplate sufficient to meet the needs of Australian industries will ‘be imported.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform the Senate whether it is true that, for some months past, applicants for telephones have been informed by the Postal Department that, in the event of their applications being successful - which is very seldom - the telephone line to their premises may be duplicated in order to provide a telephone service to other applicants nearby as well? If so, will the Minister consider issuing a regulation to compel people who have telephones installed in their private homes to share the facility with other persons in the vicinity? Alternatively, will he take steps to introduce legislation to compel telephone subscribers who do not use their telephones extensively to share them with other people who have been unable to obtain telephones ?
– I gather from the honorable senator’s question that he desires legislation to be introduced to compel persons who have telephones installed in their homes to share that facility with other persons. I have been assured by the Postmaster-General that his department has no intention to interfere with the privacy of telephoneservices already installed. However, if a subscriber consents, the Postal Department is prepared to convert his line intoa party line, in order to provide a service to another person as well. Although 1 do not think that the Postmaster-General would favour the introduction of arbitrary legislation to compel persons to share their private telephones with other persons, I shall convey the honorable senator’s remarks to the PostmasterGeneral for consideration.
– The Minister has apparently misunderstood the question. I endeavoured to point out that, for some months past, applicants for telephones have been informed by the Postal Department that if their applications are successful they must be prepared to share the telephone service with other people, if the department considers that that is necessary. Why should such a condition, which has not been imposed on members of the community who are fortunate enough to have telephones installed already, be imposed on people who are now seeking telephones?
– I think that the honorable senator has been wrongly informed. Many thousands of people throughout Australia are now being provided with telephones. Although new telephone subscribers are not compelled to share the service with other persons, where applications for telephones have been received from neighbours, and they are willing to share the service, the Postal Department agrees to that being done. I shall refer this matter to the PostmasterGeneral and request him to furnish the honorable senator with a reply direct.
– Persons employed in lighthouses under the control of the Commonwealth do not receive overtime payment until they have worked 56 hours in a week. In view of the importance and arduous nature of their work, it is desirable that their conditions be improved. Can the Minister for Trade and Customs give an assurance that any benefits which may be granted to them will be retrospective to the time when the 40- hour week became general throughout Australia?
-1 have no personal knowledge of the matter mentioned by .the honorable senator. . However, if he will put his question on the notice-paper, or will discuss the matter with me in my office, I shall be glad to have inquiries made, and to prepare an answer to his question.
– It is the practice, 1 understand, for invalid pensioners, upon reaching the age of 65, to be automatically transferred to the age pension list. However, if an allowance has been paid to an invalid pensioner in respect of his wife, that allowance ceases upon his transfer to the age pension list. Will the Minister for Social Services see that, when transfers of the kind are made, any allowances paid in respect of wives shall not be withheld or delayed?
– I have no knowledge of the procedure referred to by the honorable senator, and I ask him, therefore, to place his question on the noticepaper. I had not heard previously that when an invalid pensioner was transferred to the age pension list he lost the benefit of any allowance payable in respect of his wife. I can hardly believe that that is the practice, because it would be contrary to the way in which the pensions schemes are administered. Perhaps the honorable senator has been referring to a specific cose that can be remedied.
– It may be an oversight.
– If the honorable senator will supply me with particulars, F shall look into the matter.
– Will the Minister for Social Services take into consideration the possibility of refunding to age and invalid pensioners as from the 1st October, 1950, all moneys that have been expended by them on medicines?
– I am afraid that I cannot give such an undertaking. I see no reason why the date suggested should have been selected by the honorable senator. We are hopeful - we can make no promises - that a scheme will be in operation during November under which age and invalid pensioners and their families will be provided with a free medical and pharmaceutical service. These benefits will represent a substantial pecuniary value which, in addition to the increased rate of pension, will confer great benefits on pensioners. In my opinion this assistance is long overdue. I cannot see any logical reason for making the provision of these additional benefits retrospective for a month.
– Will the Minister for Social Services take such action as he can to accelerate the completion of the rehabilitation centre situated at Melville, Western Australia? Is the Minister aware that construction of the first and second stages of the project, which was approved by the Labour Government, has now been completed and that the construction of .the third stage is held up pending the provision of the requisite funds ? Is the honorable senator also aware that a very efficient medical and other staff is doing excellent work at the centre which has rehabilitated many pensioners, and enabled them to return to work, that the staff has operated under great difficulties and that a great deal of equipment is wasting at the centre? Will the Minister inform the Senate whether provision of sufficient money to complete the centre has been approved by his department or whether it is likely to be provided at an early date?
– The honorable senator’s information regarding the rehabilitation centre at Melville, Western Australia, is quite different from that which is in my possession. I have been trying very hard to go to Western Australia in order to examine the centre. J am informed that the centre has only recently been completed, that it is providing a very efficient service, and that its work is well thought of throughout Western Australia. I am not aware of any deficiencies in the services which it provides. As soon as I am able to do so, I shall visit Western Australia and examine the centre personally.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether, in view of the fact that the pensions of exservicemen and women are to be increased, it is Hs intention to exclude unemployment and sickness benefits when computing pensions?
– Full details of the Government’s intentions regarding repatriation benefits will be given when the relevant legislation is before the Senate, which I hope will be at an early date.
– On the opening day of the present sessional period, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation whether any of the private airways companies operating in Australia were indebted to the Commonwealth for any services supplied such as air route or other charges, and if so, what companies were so indebted and for what amount. So far, I have not received an answer to my question, and I should like the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation to tell me now when I may expect & reply.
– In the absence of the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation I am not in a position to provide the information that the honorable senator seeks, but I shall take the matter up with the Minister when he returns and ascertain whether an answer can be provided at an early date.
– Several questions have been asked in this chamber to-day about matters that come within the purview of the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport, who is absent from the chamber. As the Labour party has called the Government’s bluff by giving way on the “ commo “ bill, I should like to know from the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport is now away conferring with the “ commo “ leaders about the Government’s next move to protect them ?
– I can quite understand the feelings of shame of honorable senators opposite resulting from their instruction to abandon their rigid stand against the Communist Party Dissolution Bill and I have no doubt that the Opposition will now do its best todistract attention from that measure. I assure the honorable senator, however,, that the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport is engaged on most important, work.
– In view of the expected rise of the price of tobacco, especially imported tobacco and cigarettes,, can the Minister for Trade and Customs give an assurance that the market for the Australian article is being developed in every possible way ? Can the Minister inform the Senate what quantity of Australian tobacco is consumed in Australia and what quantity is exported overseas?
– Answering first the latter part of the honorable senator’s question, I am not aware that Australian tobacco is exported. Of the total quantity of cigarette and pipe tobacco consumed in this country, approximately 10 per cent, is supplied by Australian tobacco-growers. I assure the honorable senator that if he visits the tobacco-growing areas of Queensland and other parts of Australia he will find that under the benign assistance afforded to the industry by the present Government, and because of the prospects of obtaining decent returns, the tobaccogrowing industry is flourishing.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer by stating that a report has recently been presented . on the subject of subsistence payments to Australian prisoners of war. A suggestion was contained in the minority report that responsibility for such payments lies on the governments which held our soldiers captive rather than on the Australian Government. Will the Government therefore consider approaching the relevant foreign governments to obtain reparations out of which these subsistence payments can be met?
– The Government considered that possibility but it decided that the more practicable course would be to take immediate steps to provide funds from the coffers of .the Australian Treasury to cover any particular needs which may arise rather than wait for the payment of moneys which may or may not be forthcoming from enemy countries.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs seen the reported statement of Mr. Finnan, New South Wales Prices Minister, that the six States, after working together for two years, have now reached the stage where State control is completely impotent to carry out what its name implies, and that only one body - the Australian Government - can effectively control prices? In view of the urgent need to maintain a reasonable prices structure, will the Minister consider the reintroduction of Commonwealth prices control to salvage what is left of the purchasing value of the £1?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred. One would not need to be a Premier or a Minister of a State to know that price fixation in itself offers no solution of any problem. On many occasions I have endeavoured to impress on honorable senators opposite that the first steps in the restoration of the value of the £1 are improved production, better work and better results. In our attempts to achieve those desirable objectives we have looked in vain for assistance from honorable senators opposite. With regard to price-fixing, the honorable senator does not indicate by his question precisely what Mr. Finnan means. Does he mean that he intends to abandon the whole federal system of prices control as we know it and hand it over to the Australian Government ? Does he imply that it is necessary to peg wages, profits, and investments? The question asked by the honorable senator is one that i9 not really capable of being answered because I do not know, and I am sure nobody else knows, the precise implication of the terms used.- We know that under Labour party government in New South Wales and Queensland the administration of the system has not been completely successful, but at the present time one of the powers that Mr. Finnan is apparently trying to hand over is merely the power to mark a ticket on a commodity. That is not prices control.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer if he will ascertain particulars of the quantity of steel exported from Australia during the period the 1st January to the 30th September, 1950, by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and other exporters? Will the Minister also ascertain to what countries the steel was exported and the nature of such exports ?
– I shall cause inquiries to be made in order to obtain the necessary information and I shall then supply it to the honorable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
Will the Minister endeavour to make available to North Queensland a greater proportion of steel supplies than is at present allocated?
– The Minister for Supply has furnished the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The Australian Government has no control over the production or distribution of steel supplies and is therefore not in a position to take action towards increasing the allocation of steel supplies to any particular State or part of a State. In respect of Queensland, the State Co-ordinator-General allocates the steel delivered to that State on his appraisal of the relative importance of Queensland users. The shortage of steel which North Queensland is suffering, in common with ‘ other States, is largely due to man-power shortage and industrial stoppages, together with non-delivery from Newcastle owing to the slow turn-round of ships and industrial stoppages there.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers to the questions asked by the honorable senator : -
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
The Government has adopted the recommendations contained in the reports of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, and copies of the reports are expected shortly to be available from the printer.
Debate resumed from the 17th October (vide page 853), on motion by Senator O’ Sullivan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– At the conclusion of the proceedings last night, I was speaking in support of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. I. should like to 3ay again that I am completely surprised at the attitude adopted by the members of the Australian Labour party in this chamber. After months and months of discussion, we now learn that they have been directed by their executive, which consists of twelve members, to abandon their opposition to the measure. One member of that executive, Senator Aylett, is present in this chamber.
A suggestion has been made that the Government is very gloomy because it cannot have an election. That is true. The Government wished to fight the issue of communism on the hustings, and it is not afraid of this legislation. It knows that when the Communist party is dissolved there will be greater production. It believes that the Communist party in Australia is connected with the Communist party in Russia, and that the whole Communist organization is endeavouring to gain control of the world. Australia to-day, through its trade union movement, is largely directed by Communists. If we examine production we shall find that under the rule of the Australian Labour Government production fell to the lowest point it has ever reached.
– I do not believe that the honorable senator knows anything about the matter.
– Production of steel by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited was at 64 per cent, of its capacity when this Government took office. To-day, because of a little control and. better administration by the Government, its . production has increased to approximately 80 per cent. But that is not enough. “We believe that, when the Commonwealth has power to deal with the Communists, production will increase progressively and that eventually the Australian people will have all the goods that they need. Lack of production in this country is due to the activities of Communists, and when those Communists have been brought under control we shall be able to look forward to an era of great prosperity. At the present time, owing to the high export prices that are being obtained for wool and wheat, there is moi-e money in this country than there are goods available. Consequently there has been a general increase of prices. But it must not be assumed that, under the administration of this Government, prices have increased to a greater degree than they did under the administration of the Chifley Government. Since 1946 prices have been increasing by approximately 9 per cent, a year, and the rate of increase during the last six months has not been greater than that.
We on this side of the chamber are amazed that honorable senators opposite have had the cheek to speak as they have done when they are proposing to crawl down on this bill. Their attitude has not been consistent. At one time, they said they would oppose the bill. Yesterday,
Senator McKenna said that every Labour senator would vote for the bill. He claimed that the Opposition was united, but, shortly afterwards, Senator Morrow said that he would never vote for it. We shall see what happens this afternoon. The whip has been cracked. On Monday, Senator Aylett and his confederates instructed the members of the Labour party in this Parliament to vote for the bill; but to-day Senator Aylett may tell them that they must oppose it. It is possible that the next, honorable senator opposite to rise will say, “ We have changed our minds. We shall oppose the bill “. We on this side of the chamber do not know which way the Opposition is going to jump, and we do not care very much, because we know that this measure is in the best interests of Australia.
The members of the Government parties put the interests of this country before their own interests, but, from what I have seen in this chamber since I have been a member of the Parliament. I have formed the opinion that members of the Labour party put the interests of their party before the interests of their country. 1 am sorry to say that, but I believe it to be true. Honorable senators opposite are controlled by the federal executive of the Labour party, and they dance to its tune. No one on this side of the chamber receives instructions from an outside body as to how he shall vote or what he shall say. The members of the Opposition, like parrots, have risen one after the other and made almost the same speech. I have no doubt that from now until 6 p.m. or 10 p.m. honorable senators opposite will rise to say that they oppose the bill, but when the vote is taken they will vote for it. They will do so because Senator Aylett has said that they must. Doubtless, the members of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party decided originally to oppose the bill because they did not want the Communist party or the Communist leaders of trade unions, of whom they are afraid, to give them a thrashing, but now that their executive has told them to vote for the bill, they will do so. They will take it and like it. We on this sida of the chamber announced six months ago that we should vote for this bill, and we have not changed our minds since then. We have not crawled from one side to the other. Senator Ward is opposed to the bill.
– Yes, I am.
– Notwithstanding that, he is going to vote for it.
– No, I am not.
– I challenge the Opposition to call for a division on this motion. I do not think they will do so, but, if they do, I believe that Senator Ward will vote for the bill. He will do so because Senator Aylett, a member of the executive of the Labour party, has told him to do so, and he knows that if be does not obey, he will be finished politically, because Senator Aylett will ensure that he will not receive the endorsement of the Labour party again. I know now why the federal executive of the Labour party has included a senator in its ranks. Senator Aylett has been placed in this chamber, as a member of the executive, to keep an eye on honorable senators opposite. He watches them. I have often wondered why he has remained in his seat throughout debates in this chamber. The reason is that he has to keep an eye on his “ stooges “. I suppose he tells the federal executive how they behave, and if they do not act in the way in which he says they should, they are “ out “.
This bill is designed solely to protect Australia. It has been presented to the Parliament only for security reasons. Australians are now fighting Communists in Korea, no th withstanding that the Labour party does not believe in sending Australian forces outside this country to protect its integrity, and that during the last three or four years the Communist party has been disrupting industry in Australia.
– Why does not the Government deal with the Communists?
– We propose to deal with them. In Australia, and, indeed, throughout the world, considerable disruption of industry has been caused by members of the Communist party. When Labour was in office it did not have the stamina to ban the Communist party in this country, with the result that it has got out of hand. Of course I realize that the reason that the former Government could not do very much about the Communist menace was because some of its members, who now sit in Opposition in this chamber, have supported the Communist party, and have spoken from the same platform as Communists.
– I deny that I have spoken from the Communist platform.
– Nobody has ever suggested that Senator Nash would have sufficient stamina to get up and speak with the Communists. He would not be seen with them. However, some honorable senators opposite have done so.
– Can the honorable senator prove what he is saying?
– I can prove my statement. It will be remembered that Senator Morrow spoke from the same platform as the “ Red “ Dean not very long ago.
– Is the “ Red “ Dean a member of the Communist party?
– He is a Communist, and I suggest that the honorable senator who has just interjected should be known as the “ red “ senator.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! Senator Scott should continue his speech without replying to interjections.
– I rarely interject when other honorable senators are speaking, and I expect them to give me a fair hearing.
Senator Grant. - -From the point of view of interjecting, the honorable senator is worse than I am.
– In Russia, by means of forced labour and the use of concentration camps, the Communists have achieved great production. At the same time they have disrupted industry in many countries throughout the world, with the object, ultimately, of gaining control of the world. The parties in office have decided to oust the Communists from this country before they oust us. That is why the bill before the chamber was introduced. Of course we know that “ it is not the wish of honorable senators opposite that the bill should become law. We know very well that if they had the courage of their convictions they would vote against it.
Although not one member of the Opposition has spoken in favour of the measure, when the vote is taken every member of the Australian Labour party in this chamber will vote in favour of it because, unless Senator Aylett has changed his mind, they will obey the instructions that they have received from their masters.
– Senator Aylett is a dictator.
– Although I might change my mind, fools never alter their opinions.
– We know that honorable senators opposite have spoken against the bill. However, if they are prepared to pluck up sufficient courage to disobey their masters and vote against the bill, we are prepared to have a double dissolution immediately, in order to allow the people of Australia to decide whether they want communism to be permitted to continue, or whether they want Australia to be a free land. The people are very solidly behind the Government in this matter. I am convinced that 80 per cent, of them support the Government’s intention to ban the Communists. Furthermore, I am convinced that some members of the Opposition - if not all of them - secretly believe that the Communist party should be banned.
– What nonsense ! We have already agreed that the Communist party should be banned.
– Not one member of the Opposition has spoken in favour of the bill.
– We have even suggested amendments to the bill.
– The amendments to which the honorable senator refers were intended by the Opposition to make the bill ineffective, so that honorable senators opposite would be able to look after the comrades. The Government will have the bill in the form that it wants it. After all, we have to administer it. Of course the Opposition, with its superior numbers in this chamber, could knock it back, but I do not consider that honorable senators opposite have the courage to do so.’ I support the bill in its entirety. In the interests of the Australian people, and Australia generally, I sincerely hope that Senator Aylett will instruct honorable senators opposite to vote for the bill.
– I never expected, when the Opposition decided to permit the Government to have this bill, that that decision would cause so much confusion and attract so much abuse from Government senators, because they have been craving for this measure for many months. Senator Scott has plainly shown that the Government is more concerned about the possibility of a double dissolution than with preventing sabotage that is being committed by members of the Communist party. I regret that .Senator Vincent is absent from the chamber, because I am about to reply to some of the discourteous and untruthful remarks that he made, and which could not be substantiated. After Senator Vincent had come to the conclusion that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan), the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) and Senator Wright - the three lawyers on the Government side of the chamber - were not capable of answering the submissions that were made by Senator McKenna, he endeavoured to come to their rescue by filling the breach. Honorable senators did not expect that Senator Vincent, at least in his maiden speech, would release a barrage of abuse of the Opposition that he could not substantiate. Notwithstanding the honorable senator’s lamentable speech, however, he was extended the usual courtesy that is accorded by the Senate to honorable senators when making their first speech in this chamber. He said that this was the most important measure that had ever been brought before the Parliament. Its importance, he said, was heightened by the conditions of modern warfare, and because a foreign power - and he named Russia as the power - had a fifth column and a spy ring operating on its behalf in Australia, and attempting to sabotage the defence of the country. That was a bold statement to make, and if it be true, every member of the Government from the Prime Minister down, should be ashamed that nothing has been done to break the spy ring, and to prevent the sabotage. I am sure that if the people believed that Senator Vincent’s remarks were true, they would welcome the opportunity to pass judgment upon the Government, and to condemn it.
The honorable senator has claimed that a spy ring is operating in Australia, and that the Government knows it, but he went on to say that nothing could be done about it because the Communist Party Dissolution Bill had not been passed. Members of the Opposition have pointed out repeatedly that in the Crimes Act and in the Defence Act there are provisions under which action could have been taken against subversive elements. There was no Communist Party Dissolution Act in force during the war, but the Labour Government was able to deal effectively with subversive elements under existing legislation. Even after the war was over, the Labour Government acted against the Communists. Some honorable senators opposite have said that the Labour Government never did anything to curb the activities of Communists. As a matter of fact, the Labour Government was the only one that ever took action against members of the Communist party. It proceeded against those who made subversive statements, and some of them are serving sentences in gaol to-day. The present Government claims that Communists are making subversive statements and acting in a manner prejudicial to the country, but it has not had the courage to act against them. I challenge honorable senators opposite to mention any action’ taken by the Government against those who have engaged in subversive activities during the ten months that the Government has been in office.
The Government has made certain statements about the Communist menace, and it must know whether those statements are true or not. I do not say that they are not true. Indeed, I believe that there is a certain amount of truth in some of them, and that makes the inaction of the Government all the more blameworthy. There has been talk of traitors, but surely the worst traitor is the man who knows that his country is being sabotaged from within, who has power to stop it, and yet does nothing.
Senator Vincent also said that the bill was in accordance with the principles of British justice. I notice that the honorable senator has not the courage to come back and take his place in the chamber. He knows full well that his remarks were untrue, and could not be substantiated. The honorable senator said it was nonsense to assert that a person charged with engaging, or being likely to engage, in subversive activities, would be denied under this legislation the right to defend himself, but I maintain that this legislation does, in fact, deny that right. The Australian Government and other allied governments gave a far better deal to Japanese war criminals than it is now proposed to give to Australians who may be declared under this legislation. The Japanese war criminals were charged before a properly constituted tribunal, they had the right to engage counsel to defend them, and the prosecution was required to prove the charges. We know that, under the onus of proof provision in the bill, the accuser is not required to prove his charge. Senator Vincent said that the evidence upon which a declaration was based would be published in the Gazette. Did any one ever hear a more stupid statement from any person, whether a member of the Parliament or an outsider? As a matter of fact, all that would appear in the Gazette is the name of the person who is declared to be a Communist, or a fellow traveller of Communists, or a person who has engaged in, or is likely at some time in the future to engage in, subversive activities prejudicial to the defence of the Commonwealth. No evidence whatever would be published.
I take this opportunity to correct Senator Wright, notwithstanding his legal training, and I refer to the clause in the hill which he was not game to read. When he was speaking, I asked him to quote the clause, but he skipped it in typical lawyer fashion. In the bill, clauses 1 to 4 inclusive deal with the declaration of Communists and Communist organizations. To that part of the bill we take no exception. We come now to the man who is not a member of the Communist party, but who may be declared to be a fellow traveller, or to have been engaged in, or to be likely at some time in the distant future to engage in activities prejudicial to the defence of the Com- monwealth. Against the charge that he might at some time in the future engage in activities subversive to the defence of the Commonwealth, he will be given no right of appeal at all. By a public notice in the Gazette he can be branded a traitor to his country, but he is to be given no right of appeal.
– That is not true.
– It is true. No one can point to any part of the bill that gives such a person a right of appeal.
– Is this the way the honorable senator spoke to the Australian Labour party executive?
– If the honorable senator would read the bill he might know something of its contents. In the meantime, let him be more respectful of the opinions of other honorable senators who have read and studied the measure. It will take much more than the abuse by honorable senators opposite to put me off what I have to say. I have risen primarily to correct some of the ‘ misstatements that have been made by honorable senators opposite. The Opposition has been abused and misrepresented because it has decided to call the Government’s bluff by permitting the passage of this measure. The Government would have preferred, of course, to have an election at which honorable senators opposite could raise all the old bogies in an endeavour to frighten the people of this country into returning them to office. In legislation already upon our statute-book there is ample authority for the Government to do all that it seeks to do under this measure, but of course the Government has not the courage to act at all. Honorable senators opposite know that, when tb.it- billhas been passed, they will no longer be able to blame the Labour Opposition for the Government’s failure to implement its election promises to put value back into the £1, to abolish all controls, and to arrest inflation. Every time reference has been made to those matters in the ten months that the Government has been in office, the Opposition has been told that the Government cannot fulfil its election promises until the Communist Party Dissolution Bill has been passed.
This measure is the rack on which honorable senators opposite have hung their hats ever since they were returned to office. By removing that rack the Opposition has put the Government on a spot, because it is now faced with the task of implementing its election promises or being thoroughly discredited. Senator Wright said that he had never deen such dishonesty as he saw now in the reversal of the attitude of the Opposition to this bill.
– The Opposition has pocketed its principles.
– The honorable senator should search his own conscience before criticizing any one else. The Opposition, against which he has laid a charge of dishonesty, was elected by the people of this country and has a right to state its views in this Parliament. How can the Opposition be fairly charged with being dishonest merely because it has endeavoured to improve a malicious and obnoxious measure? This bill, in its original form, was not fit even to be printed. It now includes 40 or 50 amendments, some made at the instigation of the Opposition, and others by the. Government itself. Most of those amendments would not have been made had it not been for the vigilance of the Opposition in this chamber and in the House of Representatives. The bill, in its original form, was ill-considered. The Government itself made nineteen amendments in the House of Representatives and sixteen in the Senate, yet because the Opposition has improved the measure, Senator Wright claims that we, on this side of the chamber, are dishonest.
– The honorable senator is critical of the bill, but he will vote for it just the same.
– Obviously Senator Gorton, Senator Wright, and their colleagues are so humiliated at the prospect of the passage of this measure that they do not know what to say. Hitherto we have been told that if thi? hill were passed everything in the garden would be lovely; now, we are being accused of running away. At least we have done our best to improve the measure.
Senator Wright said that the Senate was about to see the shameful specracle of the Opposition voting for the bill. My reply is that if it is shameful for the Opposition to vote for the bill, it was even more shameful for the Government to introduce it. We have not heard any condemnation of the bill from Senator Wright in spite of his claim that for the Opposition to vote for it is shameful. He made a lamentable speech in an endeavour to defend the obnoxious clauses of the measure, but he did not condemn it outright.
– We have not said that the bill is a violation of justice. That is the Opposition’s criticism, yet the Opposition is going to vote for the bill.
– I repeat that if it is shameful for anybody to support the bill, it must have been even more shameful, and therefore a violation of justice on the Government’s part, to introduce it. If what honorable senators opposite have said about the urgency of this measure is true, and our defence measures are in fact being sabotaged, the Government is to be condemned for its complete inactivity in the ten months that it has been in office. We have repeatedly heard the accusation that there are spies and saboteurs of a foreign country in this country. If that charge be true, then Ministers of this Government should hang their heads in shame for having permitted such a state of affairs to continue.
Honorable senators opposite chide the Opposition for allegedly complying with outside instructions.
– That is true.
– We have only the word of honorable senators opposite for that. At least we have a right to express our opinions in this Parliament without being expelled from our party. That is more than the Liberal and Australian Country parties can claim at the present time. In yesterday’s press we read that the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Charles Russell) had had the audacity to disagree with the policy of the Australian Country party in relation to the revaluation of the £1. In to-day’s press, we were informed that the leader of the party, the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), had informed Mr. Russell that he is no longer a member of the party and that he will never get back into it again.
– He did not say that.
– That statement was attributed to the right honorable gentleman by the newspapers, and although he has had ample time to deny it, he has not done so. Members of the anti-Labour parties are not permitted to express their own opinions about matters of such importance without risk of expulsion. On the contrary members of the Labour party may express their own opinion on any subject. They have expressed very candid opinions about this bill. Indeed, as individual members of the Opposition they would be recreant to the trust reposed in them by the electors if they did not do so. This bill is the Government’s baby. The Government hoped that the Labour party would strangle it at birth. The Labour party, however, decided to throw the baby back into the lap of the Government, to let the Government nurse it, and see if it can rear the child to become a healthy adult. I have very grave doubts of the success of its venture. When this measure is placed on the statute-book the Government will be faced with problems in earnest for it has failed to provide the requisite machinery to enable it to implement this legislation.
The Australian Labour party is a united party the policy and platform of which is printed and widely distributed throughout Australia. The members of that party are not ashamed of its policy and platform. But what of the parties opposite? I have never seen in print the platform and policy of the Liberal and Australian Country parties. In the joint statement of policy issued by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the present Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) they told the electors that if they were returned to office, they would ban the Communist party. We were prepared to allow a bill to pass which would permit them to achieve that objective. They rejected our offer. They also said that they would put value back into the fi and prevent inflation, but they have done nothing to honour that promise.
They said, too, that they would abolish controls. Now they have told us that they propose to impose controls that have never before been imposed in this country. They said that they would continue the payment of subsidies as a means of keeping prices down. They wiped out some of the subsidies previously paid by the Labour Government, and now they propose to introduce others. They said that they would stabilize the economy of this country, and that they would introduce a national health scheme. What have they done to honour those promises ? The Government which they lead has done nothing to stabilize our economy. It has wiped out the health scheme that was instituted by the Labour Government and failed to replace it by one of its own devising. They said that they would reduce taxes. Now, we are told that taxes are to be increased. They said that they would increase production, facilitate the rapid turn-round of ships in our ports, and bring about peace in industry. Their Government has done none of those things. I defy honorable senators opposite to name one promise to the electors that the Government has fulfilled.
– Child endowment for the first child.
– The leaders of the Government parties promised to pay the mothers of Australia ten shillings a week for the first child.
– That is a lie.
– The mothers of Australia have had to be content with 5s. In the speech which Senator Mattner has just made on this bill he said -
The business of the Parliament is being run by an outside body not responsible -to the Parliament.
– That is correct.
– The honorable senator has the audacity to say, “ That is correct “. Has he forgotten that at the instigation of the Opposition in this Parliament nearly 50 amendments were made in obnoxious legislation that was introduced by this Government? No member of the’ Australian Labour party is dominated by an outside body. Far from being an outside body, the federal executive of the great Australian Labour party, which is part, and parcel of that party, is charged with the responsibility of denning matters of policy from time to time during the interval that elapses between triennial federal conferences of the party. The Government parties also hold federal conferences, though for what purpose I do not know. Are they held for the purpose of showmanship, or in order to determine matters of policy? The Australian Country party, like the Australian Labour party, has a federal executive. Does the federal executive of the Australian Country party meet for the purpose of showmanship, or press publicity, or does it in fact determine the policy of the party from time to time during the interval that elapses between federal conferences of that party? From the north of Queensland to the south of Tasmania and from the east coast to the west coast of Australia the Australian Labour party maintains a united front. Its members adhere to a common policy and do not “ rat “ on one another as do the members of the anti-Labour parties. A member of the Australian Labour party may frankly state his views in relation to any matter of policy without being thrown out of the party and prevented from rejoining it. I leave it at that. Senator Mattner’s tirade of abuse, is not worthy of further reply.
Speaking of Opposition senators, Senator Scott said that they had opposed every clause of the Australian Communist Party Dissolution Bill. That statement is completely untrue. The Opposition agreed to the passage of the first four clauses of the bill which would give to the Government all the powers it needed to ban the Communist party and to confiscate its property, to remove Communists from executive positions in the trade unions, and. to debar them from employment in the Public Service. The Australian Labour party also agreed to the imposition of such sanctions as the Government considered to be essential.
– But not power to touch the Communists.
– The honorable senator, by his interjection, shows his gross ignorance of this subject. I have already said that the Opposition agreed to the first four clauses of the bill which would give to the Government all the powers it needed to ban the Communist party and confiscate its property, to prevent Communists from holding executive positions in the trade unions, and to debar them from employment in the Public Service. In view of that, does Senator Scott still maintain his claim that the Opposition refused to permit the Government to touch the Communists? The honorable senator then made the most amazing statement that the members of the Australian Labour party put party before country.
– Hear, hear ! I meant that, too.
– The honorable senator’s knowledge of history is limited or his memory is so short that he has forgotten that when this country was passing through the greatest crisis in its history, and when an enemy was about to invade it, the present Prime Minister and the present Treasurer asked the Labour party to take charge of its affairs, and to lift it out of the mire into which they had plunged it. The members of the Labour party put country before party and, with a minority in both Houses of the Parliament, they carried on the government of the country until a general election could be held. In its hour of need the present Prime Minister “ ratted “ on his job.
– The honorable senator should read what Mr. Churchill has had to say about the Prime Minister.
– I am not at all interested in what Mr. Churchill may say about him now. I know what Mr. Churchill said about him then. “We accept the challenge that has been thrown down by honorable senators opposite in relation to this bill. I am bitterly opposed to the ‘Communist party. I have no doubt that there are many Communists who would cut my throat at this very minute if they could do so. Communists have brutally attacked many members of -the Australian Labour party and have almost kicked them to death because of their bitter antagonism towards them. Honorable senators opposite have said that we are afraid of the Communists.. The Labour Government demonstrated its fearless disregard of the threats of the Communists by gaoling those who made statements that were seditious or were likely to prejudice the safety or defence of this country. This Government has never been game to take similar action. What attempt has the Government made to -bring about peace on the coal-fields and thus keep the wheels of transport moving in this country? Have any members of the Government gone out among the industrial workers and endeavoured to preserve peace in industry as we have done? No, not one. When the Labour Government was in office, we confronted the Communists face to face on the public platform, very often risking our lives in doing so because we did not know whether or not the Communists would use machine guns against us as they threatened to do. During the general coal strike, in company with a State Attorney-General, I visited the coal-fields, and attended a meeting at which an appeal was made to the miners to resume work. Four policemen were present at the meeting when we arrived. Notwithstanding the fact that we had been warned beforehand that the Communists intended to attack us, the Minister asked the policemen to go away. When we addressed the men, and told them the facts, they turned against the Communists and came over on our side. If the members of the Government had the courage of their convictions they would not be faced with the problems that confront them in industry to-day.
The members of the Government are more concerned about consolidating their position in the event of a general election than in getting on with the business of the country. During the ten months in which this Government has been in office, apart from the bill which provided for the payment of child endowment in respect of the first child, it has not introduced one constructive piece of legislation.
– What about the Communist Party Dissolution Bill?
– The introduction of that bill was unnecessary, because the Government already possessed sufficient powers under the Crimes Act and the Defence Act effectively to deal with SU)Dversive elements in the community. The passage of this hill will not extend the powers of the Government to rid the country of the Communist menace. We have opposed certain clauses of the bill because we regard them to be unnecessary and unjustifiable. The Attorney-General accepted some of the suggestions that we made for the improvement of the bill. Indeed, the Government incorporated many of them in its own amendments. We were solely concerned with the improvement of the provisions of what we regarded as an unnecessary and obnoxious measure, because we realized the difficulties that would confront the Government in its attempt to implement them. The Opposition has done everything possible to incorporate improvements in this bill, and it now says to the Government, “It is your baby; you take it and nurse it, rear it, and make it work if you can
– For the past two weeks honorable senators have listened to a discussion of the merits and demerits of this bill. On occasions, personalities have been indulged in rather than discussion of the measure before the chamber. I feel that the Opposition is more to be pitied than blamed, and I do not intend to rub into its wounds any more salt than is really necessary. It has suggested so many times that the Government should put value into the £1 that it has almost become the Labour party battle cry. I suggest that if the people of Australia require an example of the wastage of value of the £1 the proceedings in this chamber during the past fortnight provide it. Not only during the past week have we been subjected to the same tirade day after day, but months ago all the phases that have been discussed here were dealt with to such an extent that the country was entitled to believe that the Communist Party Dissolution Bill would not be made law until after there had been an election. Notwithstanding the fact that the Opposition vied with the Government in complete and total condemnation of Communists and all they represent, honorable senators opposite still continue to condemn the bill almost completely. They say that not only is it wrong in principle, but also that it is wrong in justice, wrong in the effects it will have, and totally opposed to the principles of British justice, yet we have been informed that the Opposition does not now intend to oppose the bill.
I remind honorable senators that if they read the recital of the bill they will see that little more could be said about the individuals to whom it applies. 1 excuse the members of the Opposition for their attitude of last week, but 1 should have thought that the time of the country would not be further wasted and that the bill. would now be allowed to pass. But for some unknown reason if has become necessary for them to endeavour to disclose to somebody their hope that the day will come when they will again be in power and will be in a position to remove this legislation from the statute-book. What else can there be behind a promise of that nature, other than the suggestion to an organization they have already admitted is subversive, that whatever that organization does in the meantime this legislation will be repealed if the Australian Labour party again assumes power? That was a very dangerous and a very ill-advised statement to be made by the responsible Opposition in this Parliament. Responsibility rests not only on the Government but also on the members of the Opposition. If they do not intend to oppose the bill, why do they not say that it is necessary legislation, that they support it and will endeavour to see that it is allowed to operate? Instead of that, they have forecast all the dire consequences that they expect to follow the introduction of the bill, although they support all its provisions’ with the exception of two. The last speaker, Senator Aylett, has indicated what terrible people they are, and how he ran the gauntlet, imbued himself with some extra heroism and faced them on the platform.
I remind honorable senators that this Aft is introduced under defence conditions. Men of this country to-day are braving elements much more terrifying than an executive body. They expect something more of the legislators of their country than that they should sit here for months arguing and criticizing one another for most of the time instead of enacting legislation to promote a con stant and even flow of essential materials. The members of the Government in this chamber are behind those men, but unfortunately, in many respects, some honorable senators opposite are too far behind.
It has been stated that for some four and a half months the rate of production has not been such as to make for the wellbeing of the nation. In reply I say that for a considerably longer period this Government has been faced by an Opposition which has attempted at every turn to frustrate and delay legislation designed for the improvement of conditions, the uplifting of values and, to use ‘ :i popular phrase, the return of value to the £1. Personally, I prefer to say, “ To provide more goods for the £1 we have to spend “. Unless wo obtain continuity of production and a greater volume of it I. do not know how we can expect greater value in the currency. 1 am sure that the Opposition acknowledges that fact. Yet we find responsible leaders telling the people of this nation that they will do nothing to contribute to the wellbeing of the country by improving methods and continuity of production of the essentials of life.
It has been said, perhaps not with a great sense of responsibility, that this Government had no mandate to introduce the Communist Party Dissolution Bill.” More particularly, the challenge was made that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) did not tell the people that the bill would contain a provision as to onus of proof. I suggest that no member of this chamber has ever heard any Prime Minister recite the whole of a bill prior to its introduction. It is suggested that there is ample power under other laws of the country, and particularly under the Crimes Act, to deal with Communists. We all know that there are ample powers to deal with people after they have committed a crime, but there is a distinct difference between providing punishment for a crime and providing the means of preventing the commission . of a crime.. I should like to suggest to honorable senators an illustration on which they could decide for themselves whether a man should hang or not. Would it be any consolation to the people of this country to read in the morning paper that a ship had been blown up and its crew killed, that the authorities knew who was responsible, and that he was to be put up against a wall and shot? What consolation would that be to the community or to the dear ones of those who had been lost at sea? Is it not preferable that we take measures to prevent such things from occurring, rather than that we should as it were shut the stable door after the horse has gone? I feel that the level of debate on this legislation in some respects has fallen below the standard we should endeavour to set in this chamber. I wish, as far as possible, to keep strictly to discussion of the bill, but I trust I shall not be blamed if I refer to statements .that have been made by honorable senators opposite and suggestions that have been implied in their remarks during this debate. The delaying tactics that the Labour party has used in relation to this measure have encouraged the Communists more than any other section of the community. If there are any people in this land who feel joyful at the delay that has occurred and the promise that has been made by the Labour party, it is the Communists, whose objectives are entirely opposed to the best interests of Australia. Nobody with any sense will suggest that this measure will* prevent ‘ Communists from thinking, but it will enable the Government at least to prevent them from inspiring and organizing activities that can lead only to the destruction of our way of life.
The promise made by the Labour party to repeal this measure was probably in the nature of a mistake, because I do not think that even the Communists will believe it. Honorable senators opposite have said some very hard things about them, and some of them have told us of the action that Communists have taken against them. Therefore, I see no reason why the Communists should believe that there is a possibility that the measure will he repealed by the Labour party, but the promise that has been made may cause some of them, especially the fellowtravellers, to hope that, if the Labour party were returned to power, things would be made easier for them and some provisions would be deleted from the legislation. One honorable senator opposite said that the Opposition gave us the bill after removing its teeth. When I heard that remark made, I could only think how true it was. Does the Opposition blame us for not wanting the measure after its teeth had been extracted and not replaced even by false ones?
It is interesting, and sometimes amusing, when honorable senators opposite talk of having fought communism all their lives. In view of the age of ‘ some of them, that is obviously untrue. Communists have not been active in this country for even half the life span of some of those who have made statements of that kind.
– When did the Communists begin their activities in this country ?
– They commenced operations in Australia approximately in 1921. When some people talk of their fight against communism, I sometimes wonder what they mean by “fight”. There are many people who are not appreciative of the fact that many thousands of our finest men laid down their lives so that we might retain our way of life as a British country. They laid down their lives, not for any political party, but for Australia, and their sacrifice has imposed upon us a responsibility to ensure that our way of life shall continue to be based upon British traditions and not upon policies dictated by a foreign power.
One honorable senator opposite criticized the proposed procedure under which notification that a person has been declared will be published in the Gazette. He asked, “ Of what use will that announcement be? Only 2 per cent, of the population read the Gazette “. Other members of the Opposition have argued that if a man were declared under this measure,- the declaration would be published to the world and the stigma of it would attach to him for the rest of his life. If a declaration is to be announced in a document read by only 2 per cent, of the population, that argument cannot be maintained. In any event, it cannot be used reasonably to support the contention that men should not be declared. It would be equally sensible to say that a man who committed a crime should not bo arrested and charged. Under the provisions of this hill, a man will be declared, net arrested and charged, and then he will have the same opportunity to establish his innocence as has a man charged with a criminal offence.
The delaying tactics of the Opposition have doubtless been much appreciated’ by some Communists and fellow travellers. By now, many of them may have left the sinking ship. If that has occurred, it may pay some dividends. It is common ground that the individuals against whom this bill is directed are not great in number, as numbers go, and that they rely for their success upon people less thoughtful than themselves who are sometimes unaware of what they are associated with. I do not believe that honorable senators opposite have any sympathy with the persons who are Communists in the fullest sense of the word and who are condemned in the preamble to the bill. The Opposition has concurred in the preamble, and, in those circumstances, it should throw its weight behind the Government and help to make this measure effective. It would have been more graceful and much more to the credit of the members of the Opposition if they had said that the circumstances under which they opposed the bill had changed, and, therefore, that they would assist the Government to give effect to a measure that is considered by most responsible persons to be one of the essentials - only one of them - in restoring a reasonable balance in this country. Transport hold-ups may not affect Sydney oi- Canberra very much, but they affect very seriously the outposts of this country, which rely upon those means of transport for the provision of their every-day requirements. I cannot understand” the attitude adopted by the Opposition. It agrees that Communists do all the things referred to in the preamble to the bill, but it will not contribute in any way to the implementation of the measure, which lias been discussed for many months in this chamber and in the House of Representatives and for which the Government received a mandate in December of last year. Although most honorable senators opposite maintain that the Government has no mandate for the measure, one of them recently was reasonable and generous enough to say, “ Although the policy of our party is opposed to that of the Government, you have a mandate and we shall help you to give effect to the legislation “. That honorable senator is not present in the chamber now. The remark to which I have referred is recorded in Hansard. I suggest to the members of the Opposition that, as members of a responsible political party, they cannot stand on the sideline and say, “ Regardless of what occurs, the baby is yours. The more trouble you have, the better it will be for us “. That would be thinking only politically.
Those who imagine that the administration of this bill will run like clockwork are deluding themselves. The Communists will use every possible effort to see that it does not. Every failure to acknowledge -the seriousness of .the situation will assist the Communist cause and make the task of the Government more difficult ; but the job will be done. I have no fears about the final threat, because it was obviously made without sufficient prior thought. I refer to the threat that possibly Moscow would take this matter to the United Nations. Although I have referred to that statement as a threat, I should like the Opposition to indicate whether it was intended as a threat, a promise, or a hope. To my mind, that is the climax of the matter. The Government has met the Opposition on an even basis. Honorable senators opposite know what the people need, they know what their masters have said, and they admit that the bill must go through; yet they hope that some foreign country will take this matter up with the United Nations. I had expected that Senator McKenna would make a more worthy statement. However, if Russia were to take this matter up with the United Nations that would be the day ! I thank the chamber for its indulgence, and I remind the Opposition that after this bill becomes law - with its support - honorable senators opposite are morally bound to support the Government’s efforts to implement it.
– Senator Simmonds has stated that if the present Opposition should again become the government of this country, it would repeal this legislation. I challenge his authority for making those statements, and I am curious to know his reason for making them. The Australian Labour party has made no such assertion. What has been announced is that if the Opposition again becomes the Government of this country it will insert in the legislation the amendments that it has desired to insert, but which the Government has refused to accept.
– That is the same thing.
– It is not the same thing. That interjection is indicative of the camouflage that has been resorted to by supporters of the Government throughout the debate. I challenge honorable senators opposite to prove that the Government could give effect to this measure immediately by dissolving the Communist party and organizations that are affiliated with the Communist party. As honorable senators are aware, the Government has amended the bill in the light of criticisms that have been made by the Opposition. It has not accepted three points that the Opposition considered to be essential in the interests of the Australian democratic way of life. The Government claims that it was given a mandate for this legislation on the 10th December last. Eoi- the last three months it has had the power to ban the Communists. Although honorable senators opposite have repeatedly claimed that this measure was urgently necessary in the interests of the people of this country, due to their procrastination the bill has not yet been passed by the Senate. I commend to honorable senators an article that was published in to-day’s Melbourne Age, headed, “ Labour’s Collapse - Question Marks on the Anti-Bed Legislation “. In the centre of the article there is a photograph of the Minister for Labour and National Service and Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt). I draw attention particularly to the following portion of the article: -
There is an element in Cabinet which believes that the best way to handle the new powers given by the anti-Red bill is to use thom more as a threat than to rush in and use them blindly. It is claimed that if this line is acted upon it would not be necessary to interfere too severely in union affairs.
And then, in heavier type, this observation appears -
The Government would be in possession of reserve powers against Communist trade union leaders and would use them only if such leaders persist in pursuing the Communist party line inside the unions.
I direct the attention of honorable senators particularly to the concluding paragraph, which reads -
In the light of past experience many senior Government members claim that repressive legislation is most effective when it is not used.
I do not know whether this is an authoritative statement or not, but evidently it has been made by a responsible person associated with the Government. Although honorable senators opposite have asserted that the Opposition has delayed the passage of this legislation for six months, and that honorable senators on this side of the chamber are friends of the ‘Communists, as is implied in the newspaper article that I have just read, the entire proposal was only a smoke-screen. Senator Simmonds should reflect on the opinion that is expressed in the newspaper article to which I have referred, in order to be in a position to decide whether there is any sincerity in the Government’s alleged desire to implement this legislation immediately.. As the article indicates, certain senior member? of the Government admitted that it is repressive legislation, not based on democratic ideals. It is indeed extraordinary that such a statement should be made following the lengthy debate that has taken place in the Senate, and particularly in view of the continued assertions of supporters of the Government that it is imperative and urgent that this legislation should become law. However, since they became aware of the changed attitude of the Opposition they have endeavoured to prolong the discussion. The Government has put up speakers on this subject one for one with the Opposition. It is evident that there is some “ funny “ business involved. Apparently the Government does not want the legislation so urgently after all. As Sena.tor McKenna intimated in this chamber yesterday, so far as we are concerned, the Government can have the bill. Yet supporters of the Government keep rising one after the other in order to prolong the discussion.
– Apparently ‘ the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) is not prepared to do so.
– Why does not the honorable senator move that the question be put?
– It is not competent for me to do so, but when I conclude my remarks the Government can do as it likes. No responsible Minister has spoken in connexion with the matter this week. I do not know whether the Government has a particular reason for putting up all the party “ hacks “ to speak. I do not use that term disrespectfully, because we are only party hacks on this side of the chamber. Responsible Ministers have sat in .their places and said nothing beyond making occasional interjections. This shows that there is a great deal of hypocrisy in connexion with the matter now before the chamber. It is apparent to me that the Government is completely nonplussed because of the changed attitude of the Opposition. It does not know how to commence implementing the legislation alleged .to be so urgently required. Already the Government has had ten months to do something of a practical character to combat communism in this country by application of the existing laws, but has not done so. Honorable senators opposite have merely talked. They have endeavoured to give the people of Australia the impression that the Australian Labour party is an obstructive party and that honorable senators on this side of the chamber are preventing the Government from giving effect to the mandate that it claims was given to it by the people last December. There has been considerable procrastination by honorable senators opposite. Although they had power three months ago to ban the Communist party they were afraid to do so because of the probable consequences. Honorable, senators opposite know full well that industrial upheavals and industrial, unrest generally would accompany .their efforts to implement the bill. It is no wonder that the soft pedal is being applied. In the light of past experience, many senior Government spokesmen claim that repressive legislation is most effective when it is not used. This legislation will be a test of the Government’s sincerity. We know, of course, that the Government had ample power under existing legislation to act against the Communists, but it was not prepared to do so. This legislation is the Government’s baby, and the Government must accept responsibility for it. The Labour party says, “ Go ahead; it is your legislation, and you must administer it”. The Government has refused to be guided by the principles of democracy, or of British justice, and has refused to accept amendments to the bill proposed by the Opposition. In spite of that, we now say that the Government can have its bill. For the last six months, we fought the Government on the principle of British justice, not because we desired merely to thwart the Government. We were always prepared to accept the preamble to the bill, and to give the Government the right to dissolve the Communist party, to confiscate and liquidate its assets, and to appropriate any remaining balance for the benefit of the Treasury. We were also prepared to give the Government power to deal with associations that might be declared unlawful. We know, of course, that the real purpose of the Government in introducing this legislation was to create mass hysteria, to engender fear in the minds of the people, so that they would be prepared to believe that the Communists were the cause of all our national ills. There have been many industrial dislocations in Australia since the present Government has been in office, and the Government has asserted that some of them were Communistinspired, but it did nothing about the matter.
– The Government invoked the Crimes Act to deal with the “rolling” strikes on the waterfront.
– The Government has done nothing but talk. There is now in progress a railway strike which the Government claims was instigated by the Communists, but what is the Government doing about it? A State government, which represents the same parties as those which support the present Commonwealth Government, passed an Essential Services (Emergency) Act, under which it proposed to take action against certain elements in the community, hut it did not have the courage to have the act proclaimed. All this talk about dealing with communism is just so much hypocrisy. Section 30j of the Crimes Act contains the following passage : -
If at any time the Governor-General is of opinion that there exists in Australia a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, he may make a Proclamation to that effect, which Proclamation shall be and remain in operation for the purposes of this section until it is revoked.
The Government has never acted under that provision of the Crimes Act. When the present bill was first introduced, we told the Government that there was no need for the measure, because there was full power under the Crimes Act to deal with subversive activities, but the Government was so convinced of the political value of its anti-Communist propaganda, it was so eager to create hysteria in the minds of the public with the help of the newspapers, that it refused to listen to anything we said. The parties that now form the Government did not tell the people before the last election that under the anti-Communist legislation a person could be declared without having the right to defend himself.
– He will have that right.
– No ; he will not. He will be declared first.
– And a murderer is charged before he can state his defence.
– The honorable senator is now trying to make a comparison with criminal law, but no comparison exists. Under this legislation, the Government may, after the matter has been investigated by a committee, declare that a person has been engaging in subversive activity, or that he is working in the interests of a foreign power, or that he is acting in a manner prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth, or that he is, or has been, advocating the overthrow by violence of legally constituted government; but before he is declared, he will be given no chance to utter a single word in his own defence.
– But still the honorable senator is going to vote for the bill?
– I am.
– Hear, hear.’
– I do not want the honorable senator’s applause. I will vote for the bill in accordance with the decision of the Australian Labour party.
– The honorable senator is out of step with his party.
– The Labour party, through its duly constituted executive body, has made a decision, and I, as a true and loyal supporter of the party, intend to abide by its terms. In that, I am different from honorable senators opposite, who take their instructions from secret juntas, such as business combines and organizations of that kind. We do not forget the days when letters were sent out by certain political organizations telling people what they should contribute to a fund to bring about the defeat of the Socialist-Communist Labour party, as it was called. Honorable senators opposite are still serving the interests that were responsible for making such demands.
– We serve the interests of all the people.
– If honorable senators opposite were concerned about the interests of the people, they would accept the amendments proposed by the Labour party to this bill, because those amendments are founded on the principles of British justice. The Labour party did not oppose the proposal of the Government to ban the Communist party.
– The Labour Opposition amended the bill so as to make it unworkable.
– The Government claims that the Communists are responsible for all our troubles, whether economic, industrial or international. I agree with Senator Aylett when he asked why, if communism is such a menace, the Government has done nothing about it during the last ten months. The Government has even gone so far as to blame the Communists for its failure to redeem its. election promise to restore value to the £1. It is obvious that the Government has used this legislation to create a fear complex in the minds of the people, and with the help of the press, it has succeeded. It should not be forgotten, however, that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself, in response to press clamour, amended the original bill. ‘ I feel sure that some honorable senators opposite have forgotten the terms of the bill as it was first introduced into this Parliament. What did the right honorable gentleman say at that time ? He said that he would not alter the bill even by so much as the dotting of an “ i “ or the crossing of a “ t “. However, as the result of the efforts of the Opposition in the House of Representatives the bill was considerably amended in that chamber. Subsequently, after an honest, effective, and genuine attack had been made upon the measure in this chamber by the Opposition, the Government was obliged to accept further amendments.
– That is . fair enough.
– The honorable senator and his colleagues have been arguing for the last ten months that for the Opposition to have a majority in this chamber is unfair. Apparently they believe that the Senate should be merely an echo of the House of Representatives. We have discredited that argument entirely. We claim that we have rights as an Opposition, and one of those rights is to ensure that any legislation that comes before us shall not be repulsive to a democratic people. The Opposition has done its best to put its ideas about this legislation fairly before the Government. The Government has refused to give way on certain points that the Opposition considers to be important. The Government has camouflaged the real issue by stating that if the Opposition’s proposals were accepted the bill would become ineffective. I do not believe that for one minute. The Government has sought authority to dissolve the Communist party of Australia. Already it has power to do that. It has sought also power to confiscate the funds of the Communist party. That power, too, has been conceded. The Government has already been authorized to dissolve unlawful organizations. Therefore, the principles of the bill have not been interfered with in any way by the Opposition. That is something that the Government might well think over. There are many lawyers in this chamber - perhaps too many.
– And a lot of bush lawyers.
– I agree with that. I shall leave it to the lawyers to untangle the problems with which the Government will be confronted when it endeavours to administer this legislation. I am only a layman, but I defy any one to deny that the principles of this bill have been challenged by the Opposition. I am confident that even the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) will not attempt to deny that. The Opposition has altered the bill in some respects, but the fact remains that the Government already has power to dissolve the Communist party and to do the other things for which it claims to have a mandate from the people of this country. This measure is vastly different from the original Communist Party Dissolution Bill introduced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) earlier this year. The Opposition was able to point to many anomalies in the original legislation. Unfortunately, the Government has remained adamant on three other amendments that the Opposition has sought. We are prepared to accept that situation. In so doing we are acting in accordance with the considered opinion of the Australian Labour movement,, expressed through its authoritative head. Surely no one will deny the right of the Labour movement to make such an expression of opinion.
– Why have a Parliament at all?
– That is a ridiculous question. The Parliament is the place where laws are made. ,
– And it is necessary in a democracy.
– Of course it is, but there is nothing to prevent political parties from having their own ideas about democracy. What is wrong with a party in the Parliament endeavouring to give effect to its ideas? That is how progress is made in a democracy. The present Government is composed of two political parties, one of which would be happy to see the other out of existence so that the Government could become a united body instead of a divided one, but the antiLabour forces can govern only by collaborating.
Senator Wright has much to say in this chamber and I have no doubt that he regards his utterances as profound. He is the new oracle of the Senate, but I am sure that even he, himself, does not believe some of Hie things that he says in this chamber. For instance, he said yesterday that Labour -was afraid of the verdict of the people. A similar charge has been made by other honorable senators opposite. If we are afraid of the verdict of the people on the Communist issue, it is because of the misleading propaganda that the present Government parties have been able to instil into the minds of many people. I am speaking for myself when I say that I know that, as the result of the propaganda campaign of the Government parties both before the 1949 elections and since that time, the general public has not had a chance to consider both sides of the question.
– The Opposition will not give the public a chance.
– It is not a matter of giving the public a chance. The antiLabour parties have stacked the cards; now they can reshuffle them. It is their task to give effect to this legislation.
– Who made up the minds of Opposition senators for them?
– I have already said that I am not ashamed of the Opposition’s action. The Australian Labour party is a Common wealth -wide organization. It is the biggest political party in this country. Being a democratic party, its members have the right to express their opinions on policy issues. When the party reaches a. decision, however, the whole of the Australian Labour movement is bound by that decision, politically and industrially. I for one shall loyally abide by decisions of the Australian Labour party–
– The honorable senator will vote- for the bill?
– I have never disputed that. I have already pointed out that the first words spoken by Senator McKenna in this debate were, in effect, ““We have agreed to change our minds. You can have the Communist Party Dissolution Bill “. Honorable senators opposite were dumbfounded by the announcement, and began to wonder immediately how they could get themselves out of the difficulty in which they had been placed by Labour’s decision. They are now confronted by the problem of fulfilling their election promises. Again I remind the Senate of the newspaper report which stated that senior Government members had claimed that repressive legislation was more effective when it was not used. Government supporters, despite all their talk, have no intention to give effect to the bill. I shall be interested, indeed, to see what action is taken when the bill becomes law.
Sitting suspended from, 5.57 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, I had stated, in reply to an interjection that I would vote for this bill. I wish to amend that statement by saying that I shall not, oppose the passage of the bill. Senator Vincent made his maiden contribution to the debates in this Senate when he spoke on this measure. I regret that he chose such an occasion on which to deliver his maiden speech because I believe that he could have chosen a more appropriate subject for his initial address and could have done himself more justice than he did on this occasion. The honorable senator set himself up as a leader of the legal profession and threw out many challenges to his legal confreres. That he knew very little about his subject became more apparent as his speech progressed. The honorable senator loudly proclaimed that nothing in the bill would prevent a declared person from giving evidence in his own defence.
– How many Opposition senators accepted his challenge?
– I, for one, did so. Theoretically Senator Vincent may be right, but the practical effect of the provision is that a suspected person is regarded as guilty before he has been given an opportunity to prove his innocence. Every suspected person should be given an opportunity to prove his innocence before he is declared. A declared person is stigmatized as one who has engaged in subversive activities, is a danger to the community, is endeavouring to upset the laws of the Commonwealth, is a menace to the safety and defence of this country and is an agent of an enemy country. No one can claim that the placing of such a stigma on a person without first giving him an opportunity to counter the charges made against him is in accordance with the principles of British justice. In extolling the virtues of this legislation Senator Vincent completely overlooked the fact that under its provisions an innocent person may be wrongfully declared. Why should the principles of natural and British justice be departed from in this measure? Why should a suspected person not be given an opportunity to answer the accusations made against him before he is declared? We have been told that a special committee is to be appointed to scrutinize all the evidence adduced in support of the issue of a declaration. I believe that the Prime Minister recently stated, in effect, that he would personally scrutinize the evidence relating to persons who were likely to be declared under this legislation. The committee is to consist of three persons who now occupy very responsible positions and of two other persons to be appointed by the GovernorGeneral. We have not been told who these additional appointees will be. I hazard a guess that the committee will perform merely a cursory function and that the evidence brought before it will be taken at its face value and accepted without confirmation. Despite the assurance of the Prime Minister and despite the importance of the positions of the people who have been chosen to sit on this committee, I fear that injustices will occur. The whole concept of this bill is a negation of the principle of British justice that a person shall be deemed to be innocent until he has been found guilty. Although we have not been told that a declared person will prima facie be deemed to be guilty and treated, as such, it is clear from the preamble of the bill that such a person will be so treated. Senator Vincent did not tell us that persons in certain named and unnamed industries may be declared simply because they have made efforts to improve the conditions of employment of the workers who are engaged in those industries.
– That is not correct.
– In my view it is an outstanding possibility. Government supporters loudly complain that all our industrial unrest is caused by the Communists. Even when industrial disturbances have occurred as the result of the decision of the majority of the workers in the industry concerned, honorable senators opposite have cried, “ This is another eff ort of the Communists “. Senator Vincent has described the bill as the most important measure that has ever been brought before this Parliament. All I can say in answer to that statement is that it -must be excused on the ground of the honorable senator’s inexperience.
Senator Mattner told us the biblical story about the cock which crowed three times before a great betrayal, and referred to the decision that had been made by twelve men on Monday last, which he described as a great betrayal of the Labour movement. He referred, of course, to the twelve members of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party. I do not agree that they betrayed the Labour movement.
– The honorable senator does not agree with their decision?
– It was a wise decision. All of them voted in accordance with instructions that they had’ received from their State executives, which they represented. In considering what policy the party would adopt, they took into account the decisions of the official Labour movement in the. States which they represented. Some of them were opposed to this measure ; others favoured it. Ultimately, they reached the decision which is now known to the members of this chamber. When those who should know better refer to the federal executive of the Australian Labour party as an outside body which dictates to the parliamentary Labour party, it is incumbent upon me to inform them that as a rule the Australian Labour party holds federal conferences every three years at which every State is represented. The decisions made by federal conferences with respect to policy, platform and industrial matters are binding on the whole of the political and industrial Labour movement throughout the Commonwealth, and decisions made by the triennial federal conference represent the will of the Labour movement as a whole. The official report of the proceedings of the 1948 federal conference of the Australian Labour party, which was held in Canberra sets out the rules which the delegates to the conference were to observe. They provide, among other things, that only business that has been remitted by a State conference, State executive, federal executive, interstate women’s executive, or the Federal Parliamentary Labour party shall be placed on the agenda paper. I draw the attention of honorable senators to that rule so that there may he no misunderstanding about the matters which a federal conference may consider. The rules also provide that on questions affecting members of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party the decisions of the conference shall be final. The rule states -
Pending consideration by the federal conference, the rule of the Federal Executive shall be binding.
As a loyal member of the party, I consider it to be my duty to place these facts before those honorable senators who apparently know nothing of the organization of the party.
Senator Mattner has accused the Opposition of casting a mantle of protection over the Communist party. To show the official attitude of Labour towards communism, I shall quote further from the report of the Eighteenth Triennial Conference of the Australian Labour party. Under the heading “ Repudiation of the Communist Party”, the report states -
Conference reaffirms its repudiation of the methods and principles of the Communist party and the decisions of previous conferences that between the Communist party and the Labour party there are such basic hostility and differences that no Communist can be a member of the “Labour party. No Communist auxiliary or subsidiary can be associated with the Labour party in any activity, and no Labour party branch or member can co-operate with the Communist party.
Conference further declares that the policy and actions nl the Communist party demonstrate that that party’s methods and objects aim at the destruction of the democratic way of life of the Australian people and the establishment in its place of a totalitarian form of Government which would destroy our exist- ing democratic institutions and the personal liberty of the Australian people. We therefore declare that the Australian Labour party, through its branches, affiliations and members, must carry on an increasing campaign directed at destroying the influence of the Communist party wherever such exists throughout Australia.
That declaration is clear and unambiguous. It represents the considered view of the Labour party in conference assembled, and it has been accepted throughout the length and ‘breadth of Australia by all members of the party. These excerpts from an official document issued by the party prove that the accusation that we are casting a mantle of protection over the Communist party is entirely incorrect. The Labour party is the only political party in this country that has ever fought the Communists. It has not waged a sham fight. _ Speaking about the possibilities of this bill, because although much has been said in its favour it is not yet law, I have here a letter dated the 2nd October, written to me by a person in “Western Australia. I do not wish to give the person’s name, nor do I wish to give his address, because to do so might do him further injury. However, I am quite prepared to allow any member of this chamber to inspect the letter should he desire to do so. I do not know this gentleman personally, but he wrote to me in the following terms: -
Last week a friend of mine came into my boot shop and informed me that, in accordance with some anti-red pledge which she had signed as a member of the Women’s Auxiliary of the E.S.L., she had ceased to deal with me. ‘ Having heard rumours before, I was not too surprised, but I asked a few questions and it appeared that somebody had told somebody else that I had been seen handing out Communist pamphlets, presumably at election time. Asked to substantiate this, she could not, and in order to entice her informer out into the open I offered to pay any charitable cause f 10 if that informer could prove the charge. So far there has been no apparent rush to help n deserving cause, a fact which sneaks for itself.
That has happened prior to this bill becoming law. It indicates what possibilities there are when it does become law.
– That has no connexion at all with the bill.
– The honorable senator is very dense if he cannot see the connexion. There we have a person pointing out that his business was being interfered with because one person had told another that he was a friend of the Communist party. I do not understand how the honorable senator can possibly say that this is not connected with this bill.
– That sort of thing has been going on for over twenty years.
– I say merely that as such a thing is happening before this bill becomes law, I wonder what will happen when the pimps, perjurers, liars and those who have a grudge against some one else go along to a security officer and say certain things about that other person. Obviously, the person involved will bc declared under this legislation. I leave that thought with honorable senators.
I should like to refer to a remark by Senator Scott. In a very forthright way the honorable senator told us last night that so far as he was concerned he would have voted for this bill six months ago and that he would vote for it again.
– Hear, hear !
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator’ say that, because, as I pointed out to the Senate earlier, when this bill was originally introduced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in, another place it was an entirely different bill from what it is to-day. It contained implications much more severe than those in the bill we have before us at this moment. It is only as the result of action by the Opposition in the House of Representatives and in this chamber that the measure is in its present form. Yet Senator Scott loudly proclaims that he would have voted for it six months ago and that he would still vote for it.
– It was not in its present form six months ago.
– Apparently the honorable senator is a person who would vote for anything as long as he considered he was on the right side. If a person is prepared to vote for a bill of such a character and to make such a song about it, he is not very concerned about democracy in this country, nor is he concerned about natural and British justice. That is all I per sonally wish to see provided for by this bill and that is all that the Australian Labour party has ever asked for. But the Government is not ready to make available that justice. It indicates that this bill, as it now stands, is to become the law. If anything is done to it in the direction requested by the Opposition, the Government says it will make the bill ineffective. It says it does not agree with the amendments suggested by the Opposition because a mandate, which has been so often mentioned during this debate, was given to it at the last general elections. [Extension of time granted.] That mandate was to dissolve the Australian Communist party, seize its funds and realize them, pay the balance to the Commonwealth Treasury, and dissolve organizations declared unlawful. I again submit that the Australian Labour party has agreed, right from the very commencement, with that objective and has never endeavoured to prevent the Government from enacting legislation to implement it. But the Opposition has taken very strong exception, unfortunately without success so far, to the failure of the Government to incorporate in this legislation the three principles of British justice to which I have referred.
– I do not propose at this stage to follow the many meanderings of the members of the Opposition in their approach to this bill in the course of the debate. Least of all do I propose to deal with the various inconsistent views which have been placed before the Senate by Senator Nash, but at least that honorable senator was very frank. He told us that he was afraid to vote against this bill, and in stating that on his own behalf he was, I believe, expressing the true mind of the Opposition in relation to this bill at this stage. The members of the Opposition have been instructed not to oppose this bill, and that is the sole reason why they will not call for a division or seek to amend it as, at previous stages of the debate, they declared they would do. I confess that I am puzzled that, they should be concerned to express at great length every conceivable reason why they should vote against this measure. I can only’ draw the conclusion that they have conceived it necessary to do that in order that there should be on record, for certain persons to see, the fact that at any rate in their speeches they opposed this bill. Who are the people who will derive satisfaction from the views which have been expressed by members of the Opposition in the course of this debate?
– All democrats.
– I suggest that the only people who can possibly derive satisfaction from the expression of those opinions are those Communists and fellow-travellers whose support the Opposition members desire to retain in the future. There can be no other explanation for their conduct in the course of the debate on this measure. As a matter of fact, the Opposition on this occasion has displayed its true colours in relation to this legislation. It is quite clear that at least a majority of the Labour party is opposed to the bill, hook, line and sinker. That is its true attitude.
– It is a fascist bill.
– I invite any member of the Opposition to point to a single word of approval of any portion of the bill, which has been expressed by one of them during the debate on this occasion, despite the fact that the whole of the H are sitting there and saying they intend to vote for this bill, or that they will not vote against it. All their speeches have been directed to criticism of every part of it.
– We would expect, better from the honorable senator.
– I confess that that is not quite the attitude that the Labour party in the Senate expressed when the bill was before us last time. On that occasion the attitude was, in effect, “We are generally in approval of this bill. We desire to have it amended in certain par.ticulars, but not in particulars that go to the fundamentals of the bill. We wish to insert certain amendments that are intended to improve the bill “. The Labour party sought at that stage, I suggest, to convey to the public that they were in favour of the principles of the bill, but that they wished merely to insert, those few amendments. Now, when they have been instructed by the committee of twelve not to oppose the measure - and T will have something to say about that later on - it is most desirable that they should get on the record for the benefit of Communists and fellow travellers material to show that their voices really did not go with their votes and that what they actually meant was that they were opposed to the bill. They do that so that at some future time, when they are questioned about it, they may be able to say, “ Comrade, this is what I said. Never mind what I did - this is what I said when the bill was before the Senate on the second occasion “.
Let us examine some of the statements that have been made in the course of this debate. We have been told that the measure offends against the fundamental principles of natural justice.
Opposition senator interjecting,*
– I am very pleased to hear honorable senators opposite saying, “ Hear, hear ! “ We have been told that, the bill offends against the fundamental principles of British justice, that it is a totalitarian measure, that it is designed to establish a nazi-fascist state-
– Of course it is !
– I am also very glad to hear the honorable senator say that. We have been told last of all, but surely not least from the point of view of a Labour party that, believes in the principles of trade unionism, that this is a deliberate plan to destroy the trade union movement.
– That is what I really believe.
– I am very interested to hear that. All those criticisms, if the person who utters them believes them to be true, are serious criticisms that go to the fundamentals of the bill and constitute a. perfectly sound reason for voting against the measure. There is no escape from that position. It is wrong for a man to come into a House of Parliament and say, “I believe that this bill fundamentally offends against the principles of natural and British justice, but I shall vote for it because twelve men outside the Parliament have instructed, me to do so. Because they have instructed me to do so. T shall throw away the chance that T have to protect the fundamental principles of British justice, in which I believe.” That is the case which the Labour party has presented. Honorable senators opposite do not say now, “We are going to amend this bill in order to protect trade unionists and the fundamental principles of British justice”. Far from it. They say, “We are going to vote for the bill “. Indeed, the position is worse than that. The 34 honorable senators who sit on the Opposition benches have it within their power to give the Australian electors an opportunity to protect tl] e high principles to which they have given expression. They are the only persons who at this moment can give the Australian, people that opportunity, but they are not prepared to do so. They are not prepared to stand up for the principles that they have expounded or to give the Australian people an opportunity to express their view on these matters which, they say. are of tremendous importance.
– The Government does not like carrying the baby now, does it?
– We are quite prepared to carry the baby, but I am sure the Australian people would derive some satisfaction from the knowledge that their elected representatives in the Parliament who belong to the Labour party would extend whatever assistance they could to the Government in the implementation of this measure.
– It has got the Government thinking, has it?
– If Senator Fraser can derive any satisfaction from that, he is entitled to it.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has said that the Government cannot implement the measure.
– We are quite prepared to undertake its implementation and we shall do so. Let there be no mistake about that. I am prepared to admit that it may not be an easy task, but I am perfectly certain that when we undertake it we shall have the support of the vast majority of the Australian people and, what is more, of the vast majority of trade unionists in this coun try. We know it is useless to come into the Senate and say to the representatives of the Labour party, “It is up to you to extend what assistance you can to the Government in the implementation of this measure “. We cannot get any satisfaction in that regard from the members of the Labour party in this chamber, but I have the utmost confidence that the vast majority of the trade unionists of this country will cheer us on our way when we begin this undertaking. They will recognize that we are engaged in an undertaking that is very largely designed to restore to them the freedom from communism that they seek and to restore to this country freedom from an evil from which it has suffered for many years.
Honorable senators opposite have said that, while they obey the dictation of an outside body-
– It is not an outside body.
– Let there be no confusion about our terms. I mean a body outside this Parliament. Honorable senators opposite have said that, while they obey a body outside this P Parliament
– In the same way as members of the Liberal party do.
– That is quite untrue. Honorable senators opposite seek .to justify their attitude by telling us that the body that they obey is a democratically elected body within their own party organization. That is not an answer to the criticism. I do not care how democratically elected the central executive of the Labour party is. That has nothing to do with the problem with which we are concerned. The 34 honorable senators who sit opposite were elected to the Parliament to represent the people of this community. As members of the Parliament, they are not paid by the Labour party - at least, I hope not. They are paid by the Australian public to serve the community by expressing and giving effect to their true views in relation to legislation presented to the Parliament. I suggest that it is a complete negation of every principle of democracy for a body of men that owes service to the community and is paid to render it to come into this chamber and say, “ We shall not give effect to our beliefs in this matter. We shall do precisely what we are told to do by a body that is in no way responsible to this community “.
– The AttorneyGeneral is sham fighting.
– There is no sham fight about this. I am attempting to analyse the position that faces the people of this country as a result of the attitude that the Labour party has adopted to this measure. I say deliberately that there could be no greater danger to the democratic institutions of this country than to have in a House of the Parliament 34 honorable senators, who represent, as they say, approximately 50 per cent, of the electors - or pretend to represent them - and who are paid to serve the community, but who, in fact, serve another body.
I shall deal now with the onus of proof provisions about which we have had many discussions in this chamber and about which a great deal of misrepresentation is still indulged in by members of the Labour party. I have said time and time again, and I repeat it now, that there is no criminal offence created by this bill in respect of which the ordinary onus of proof does not lie upon the Crown. Even in proceedings when a person declared under this measure applies to a court to set aside the declaration, the onus of proof will be upon the Crown, provided the declared person is prepared to go into the witness-box.
– And be crossexamined.
– That is quite true.
– We have heard .all this. Why does not the Government allow the bill to be passed and put it into operation ?
– I think that Ministers, at any rate, are entitled to give expression to their sincere views in regard to this measure. We have put up with a great display of insincerity. Surely the views that have been held consistently by ns all the way through are entitled to some expression. We have not reached the stage when the only persons who can have a say in this chamber are the members of the Opposition.
In dealing with the onus of proof provisions, I have always said that, even in prosecutions for criminal offences, it is quite usual in English law for provision to be made to throw the onus of proof upon the person charged in a case where the facts are peculiarly within his knowledge. One cannot imagine an instance in which the facts would be more peculiarly within the knowledge of the person concerned than an allegation that a man is a Communist. He, of all people in the world, would be most likely to be able to establish the falsity of the allegation, because the facts would be peculiarly within his knowledge. I discovered to-day a very good authority for the proposition that I have maintained all the way through and which has been contested vigorously by Senator McKenna. During the war, the Labour party sponsored a measure called the Black Marketing Act. It contained a section that is not uncommon in legislation of this kind. It reads as follows : -
Every person who, at the time of the commission of the offence, was a director, officer or servant actively concerned in the conduct of the business of the body corporate shall be deemed guilty of the offence unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge and that he used all due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence or of offences of the same character.
In other words, when an offence was committed by a corporation, the directors, officers, or servants of the corporation, actively concerned in the conduct of the business, were to be liable for the offence unless they could prove their innocence. The onus of proof was placed upon them. It is true that that measure was passed during the war. We may be close to war now - perhaps a little closer than when we considered this bill the first time. In any event, so far as the Government parties are concerned, we are engaged in a war against the Communists. When the Black Marketing Act 1942, was before the House of Representatives in the form of a bill, a question in relation to that clause was directed to the then AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt). As reported in Hansard, volume 172, at page 1,000, following some debate, the then member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly), speaking in committee, said -
The Attorney-General’s answer means an innocent person will not he called upon to prove his innocence.
The Attorney-General replied -
Only where the circumstances are peculiarly within his own knowledge.
In other words, the justification made “by the then Attorney-General for the clause to which I have referred was not that it was a war measure, but that these were circumstances in which knowledge of the facts was peculiarly within the possession of the person charged, and therefore it was consistent with British justice, and, presumably, consistent with natural justice, that the onus of proof in regard to those matters should be placed upon the person charged. That happened to be a charge which, under the act, if it were prosecuted by indictment, was subject to a penalty of not less than one year’s imprisonment. That is my answer to the suggestions that have been made by the Opposition that the Government is violating the great fundamental principle of the onus of proof.
The Government is pleased that the bill is to become law, and that we shall be able to get on with the business. I do not deny for a minute that the implementation of this bill will not be altogether an easy task. We recognize that we are engaged against a crafty and clever foe. In the struggle I have no doubt that he will resort to every device that he can think of in order to defeat the attainment by the Government of the ends that it seeks to attain. I have no doubt that those persons who desire to thwart our efforts will, to say the least, derive encouragement from members of the Australian Labour party, who are only too ready to laugh and chide us about the possible difficulties that we may encounter. The Communists will get great satisfaction from such conduct, and they will also get great satisfaction from those members of the Australian Labour party who stand back and say, “ We are going to wash our hands of all this business. It is the Government’s responsibility, and we will just sit on one side, and watch it get into a mess “. I do not believe for a moment that the great majority of the Australian people would get any satisfaction from that attitude. I have no doubt that the vast majority of the Australian trade unionists will readily co-operate with the Government in its efforts to eradicate this evil. I think that the political Labour party in this chamber and in the House of Representatives has completely misjudged the attitude of decent, honest Australian trade unionists who, I am certain, will wish the Government every success in its effort to eradicate this evil from our community.
– The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) is whistling in the dark.
– The honorable senator who has just interjected is whistling all the time, so far as I can make out. We invite and seek the aid of every one in the community in our undertaking. We are determined to see the struggle through to the bitter end. We are determined that these bodies shall be eradicated from our community, and I have no doubt whatever that we will have the support and co-operation of the vast majority of the people that the Opposition misrepresent in this chamber.
– The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) has treated the Senate to the type of exhibition that is usually made by the lawyer members of the Government. It was a perfect exhibition of a police court lawyer bullying in a court.
– Do not be offensive.
– He challenged any member of the Opposition to prove that a member of the Australian Labour party in this chamber had supported any clause of the bill. I point out that the Opposition has never opposed the principles of the bill. What honorable senators on this side of the chamber have opposed was interference with the ordinary processes of law that have been applied in every British community for centuries past. The Minister stated that he is confident that the bill would have the support of the majority of the Australian people, including the vast majority of the trade unionists of this country. I remind the Senate that in May last the Australian Council of Trades Onions, at a conference, requested the Opposition in this chamber to oppose the bill. The Attorney-General stated that, provided a declared person elected to go into the witness-box, the Crown would bear the onus of proof. That is the usual legal method of putting something aside. The Minister knows very well that there is more involved than that. In the first place, the declared person would not know what was charged against him. His first knowledge of the matter would be a notification in the Commonwealth Gazette that he had been declared. The Minister stated that in connexion with criminal offences the onus of proof rests on the Crown. He knows that that is incorrect,
– It is perfectly correct.
– A declared person will have to go into the witness-box and submit to cross-examination, -without knowing what he is accused of, and who his accusers are.
– Although a charge has not been laid against him.
– He will have to do that at the will of the Government.
– That is simply nonsense. +
– I remind the Senate that the Opposition has not delayed the passage of legislation to dissolve the Australian Communist party as a living entity, to appoint a receiver to deal with that party’s assets, and to expropriate the party’s property to the Commonwealth. The Government could have had that power more than three months ago. The Government could also have had the power to follow Communists into other organizations. It could have had power to dissolve such organizations and expropriate their property. The Executive could have been authorized to declare publicly certain individuals, whereupon those individuals would have been precluded from holding office in a trade union or in the Public Service. The Government has sought to justify its attitude in this matter^ by levelling the most serious accusations possible against the Communist party. No more serious charge than that of treason could be preferred against, anybody.
– The Leader of theOpposition has not voted against that provision.
– The AttorneyGeneral, as a result of his extensiveexperience, has an advantage over mein debate. However, I did not interrupt him when he was speaking, and I should be glad if he would extend the sameconsideration to me. I repeat that no more serious charge than a charge of treason could be made against an individual or an organization. I point out that revolutionary activity, which seeks to overthrow established government by force, sabotage and treason, are crimes within the meaning of the Crimes Act. The Government already had adequate power in this connexion. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his policy speech said that, if elected to office, the anti-Labour Government would extend the provisions of the Crimes Act. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) told the people before the election that the onus of proof was to be placed upon the accused, and that he would be denied the right of trial by jury. Senator Gorton questioned the correctness of the statement that the Labour party had all along been willing to pass this legislation in a form that would enable the Communist party to be effectively banned, but we maintain that the bill, as originally amended at the instance of the Opposition, would have enabled the Government to do everything that it claims it wants to do. Of course, it now seems perfectly clear that the Government does not really want this legislation at all. The statement of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has already been referred to in this debate, but it is worth repeating. The statement, which was published in the Melbourne Age on the 18th October, is as follows: -
There is an element in Cabinet which believes that the best way to handle the new powers given by the anti-Red hill is to use them more as a threat than to rush in and use them blindly.
It is claimed that if this line is acted upon it would not be necessary to interfere too severely in union affairs.
The Government would be in possession of /reserve powers’ against Communist trade union leaders and would use them only if such leaders persist in pursuing the Communist party line inside the unions. lu the light of part experience many senior Government members claim that repressive legislation is most effective when it is not used.
Thus, even before the bill is passed, a responsible Minister of the Crown, who will have a good deal to do with administering the legislation, is getting out from under. It is clear that the Government does not intend to enforce the legislation. The Attorney-General referred to a statement made by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) a few years ago. I have here a statement made by the Prime Minister on the 1st May, 1947, in the House of Representatives. It is as follows : -
One reason why I have repeatedly expressed the view that the Communists should be dealt with in the open is that I have complete confidence in the basic sanity of our people. If we deal with these people we shall defeat them, but we cannot deal with them openly unless their operations are known, unless they themselves are known.
Every one will agree that the active Communists are well known to the Government, just as they are to officers of the security service, and to every person who takes an active interest in public affairs. The Government, which is always bleating about the danger of communism, has provided passports for known Communists to travel abroad to attend a conference, and has placed all facilities at their disposal.
Senator Gorton quoted a part of clause 5 of the bill, but, he conveniently omitted to read all of the clause. Mention is made in the clause of registered organizations, but the honorable senator did not refer to such unregistered organizations, as trades and labour councils, and the Australian Council of Trades Unions; yet those organizations could be dealt with under this legislation just as- if they were Communist bodies. Senator Vincent, although he has been in this chamber only a little while, presumed to doubt whether the Opposition was expressing its own opinions on this bill. He was somewhat vague, but I gained the impression that he was suggesting that the Opposition was expressing the opinions of the Communist party. I assure him that the Australian Labour party has fought the Communists just as vigorously as has any one else. The honorable senator said that the Opposition was trying to frighten the people about the onus of proof provision in the bill, and he claimed that that provision was in accordance with the principles of British justice. No criminal charge was involved, he said, in declaring a man under the legislation, and he added that the declared person would be given 28 days in which to prepare his defence. The point is that the declared person will not know what he is charged with, nor who has brought the charge against him. Senator Vincent went on to refer to the principles of justice mentioned by Senator McKenna, and tried to show that those principles would’ not be violated by the procedure contemplated in this measure. The first principle of British justice is that no man shall be punished without trial, but Senator Vincent just, waved that aside, saying that no principle of justice was involved. The fact is that, under this legislation, a man may be declared without trial, not only on the ground that he is a Communist, but also on the ground that he is a traitor; and against a declaration on the second ground he will have no right of appeal. Perhaps the Government does not believe that it is a serious matter to declare a man a Communist or a traitor to his country, but in a country town or a city suburb who will employ a man once he has been declared? The man may be married, and have a family. He may own his home, but once he is declared he will have to move away to another town or another suburb in order to seek employment.
The bill also provides that a man may be declared without being given particulars of what is alleged against him. He will be required to go into a witnessbox, give evidence, and bring witnesses to give evidence in his favour, but they must give their evidence without knowing the basis for the charge, or who hi? accusers are. The accused person will not be allowed to hear the charge against him, or to face his accusers and crossexamine them. It is an elementary principle of justice that a person charged with an offence should be faced with his accusers, who are required to substantiate the charge, and that applies whether the accused person appears on summons or under arrest. It is provided that a person may be declared without being given an opportunity to be heard or to produce witnesses in his defence, and without appearing for trial before an impartial tribunal. He will be charged on the evidence of secret agents, and will be convicted without knowing what is the charge against him. Only one side of the case will be heard by a committee sitting in secret, and taking evidence from secret agents. Such evidence can lead to a declaration, which automatically becomes a conviction. Once a person is gazetted, he will be practically convicted.
Senator Vincent said that he agreed with every word of what Senator McKenna said about the principles of British justice, and then added that Senator McKenna had not said which of those principles were violated by this legislation. He also said that Senator McKenna had made a fatal mistake in that the principles of justice ennunciated by him were all principles of criminal law, which had nothing to do with the bill. Well, the courts, in practice, have applied those principles even in such a matter as an appeal by a member against expulsion from a club. I quote from Halsbury’s Laws of England, volume 4, page 493 - 909. It is also necessary that a power oi expulsion should be exercised in good faith for the benefit of the club, and not from any indirect or improper motive. 910. The principles of natural justice must also be observed in exercising a power of expulsion, unless it .plainly appears, on the true -construction of the rules, that the power was intended to be absolute.
The principles of natural justice must also be observed even in the expulsion of a club member !
Under this bill, a person who is charged with treason - the gravest crime that can be charged in this country - has not even the recourse of law that is open to an ordinary club member who has been expelled. How can honorable senators opposite claim that the principles of British justice are not being violated?
Senator Wright moaned and bleated about what the Labour party had done. If the honorable senator supports his leaders, he should be pleased rather than disappointed that the bill is now to be passed; but perhaps he is disappointed at the Labour party’s action in giving to the Government an opportunity to fulfil its electional promises and, like the Minister for Labour and National Service, is waiting to get out from under. Senator Wright’s references to Senator McKenna should be treated with the utmost contempt. Every member of this chamber, regardless of his party affiliations, will agree that Senator McKenna is an unright man, who always endeavours to be courteous and respectful to his fellow senators. Senator Wright’s attack, made during Senator McKenna’s absence from the chamber, was outrageous.
– I said that Senator McKenna had pocketed his principles, as all Opposition senators have.
– The honorable senator’s attack, made in his usual style, violated all the tenets of good taste and honour. I was surprised indeed that a man of Senator Wright’s background should have revealed himself to be so lacking in culture. I leave the matter at that.
Senator Mattner said that rank and file members of the Labour party were sore because they were being denied the right to fight this bill. Again I say that the decision was made by the Australian Labour party and that it will be observed by all members of the party. The honorable senator also claimed that nothing in the bill was contrary to British justice. I have dealt adequately with that point. We are told that should an innocent man be declared, he need only go into the witness-box and say, “I am not a Communist “, and there the matter will end. That is entirely incorrect. Senator Mattner also said that prosperity for all in this country would bring grief to the Labour party. That, too, is quite wrong, because no party has fought more for prosperity than has the Labour party. We have always fought for full employment. The Government’s idea of prosperity, is to have a pool of unemployed so_ that if an employer is not satisfied with the services of one man, he can readily get another. Under such a system, of course, there is work for the big and strong, but none for the weak.
Senator Simmonds could not make up his mind whether the Opposition had condemned the bill completely or not. He said that should Labour be returned to office at some future election, it would remove this bill from the statute-book. We have never suggested that. I assume that the honorable senator’s remark was based on the statement by the President of the Australian Labour party that Labour, if elected to office, would insert in the legislation the amendments that the Government is now refusing to accept. That does not mean that Labour will repeal this legislation. The honorable senator said further that members of the Opposition had announced their intention to do nothing to improve production in this country. I say quite frankly to honorable senators opposite that they are gravely mistaken if they believe that the passage of this measure will improve production. I am sure that most of them know that in their hearts. Already there is ample evidence of the effect that the passage of this measure will have upon industry. There is more dislocation in industry to-day than there has been at any time since this Government assumed office.
– And the Opposition thinks that is great.
– ‘That remark is quite uncalled for. The honorable senator should at least have the good manners to listen. If he does not agree with what I am saying, he will have an opportunity later to emphasize his own view. I repeat that instead of improving production, the passage of this measure will lead to industrial dislocation throughout the Commonwealth. Whether trade union officials are moderate Labour men, militants, or ‘Communists, they have been elected by the rank and file of union members, and to remove them from office under the provisions of this legislation will be to cause disputation and dislocation in industry. Already there are stoppages of work at Newcastle, Yesterday, fifteen mines were idle. At six of them at least the stoppage of work was a protest against this measure. Three others were idle for industrial reasons; but there, too, the Communists may be at work. There will be a continuation of industrial strife when this bill becomes law. “When I say that, I am guided principally by the statement of the Minister for Labour and National Service published in the Melbourne Age to-day. Again I warn the Government not to interfere with the elected representatives of the trade unions if it wants to preserve peace in industry. The best way to ensure better production is to guarantee to the workers a better share of the wealth that they produce. Every day in the press we read of increases of from 20 per cent, up to 60 per cent, in company profits. It is only human nature that the workers should expect to share in that prosperity. I regret that it has been necessary for me to speak as I have done, but I have said what I believe.
– But the honorable senator will not vote as he believes.
– The honorable senator is a Labour renegade, and should be one of the last to criticize members of the party to which he once belonged. However, if he sticks his chin out, I shall be only too pleased to hit it. No one could be more enthusiastic than I am about securing increased production in this country, because it is in increased production that the salvation of our economy lies. However, production cannot be increased by forcing men to bend their backs more quickly. Something else is required. I am looking to the Government to tell the employers of this country that they will have to improve industrial technique and extend mechanization. I read the other day a press statement by the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) that he expected improved production in the coal-mining industry as a result of this Government’s efforts to extend mechanization. The foundations of mechanization in the coal mines were laid years ago, when the- Chifley Government, in collaboration with the Labour Government in New South Wales, ^ appointed the Joint Coal Board, which was under my administration. Until our mines are fully mechanized, production cannot be increased very much. Similarly, only by the mechanization of industry generally can greater output be ensured, But concurrently with greater production there must be a more equitable distribution of the wealth that industry produces. I regret that so much heat has been engendered in this debate. False accusations have been thrown across this chamber. I do not suggest. that the Opposition is entirely blameless in that connexion, but there is no justification for so much heat on the part of honorable senators opposite. I sincerely believe that unless production is increased in this country, and something is done to arrent inflation, not only the Government;, but also the people of Australia are in tor a. very bad time.
– Before proceeding with the theme that I have in mind, I propose to reply to what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) has described as one df the false accusations that has been thrown across this chamber. Both he and Senator Nash have sought to place in the mouth of my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), statements which they must know to be untrue. I make that statement deliberately, because both of them misquoted a newspaper report, a copy of which I have in front of me. By no stretch of the imagination can any one honestly attribute to the Minister for Labour and National Service the statements which the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Nash sought to attribute to him.
– -I rise to order. I resent the imputation that I read the newspaper report incorrectly. It is not fair for the Minister to question the accuracy of my reading of it.
– If the Leader of the Opposition will allow me to continue, I shall prove that he is wrong.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! The Leader of the Opposition in the course of his speech quoted an extract from a report as it was published in a newspaper. The Minister for Social Services has said that the statements contained in the newspaper extract are incorrect. That is only hi statement of opinion.
– The Minister hassaid that I did not read the extract correctly.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - If the Minister considers Chat the statement was incorrectly read, he should have madea personal explanation when the Leader of the Opposition had concluded his speech.
– 1 rise to order. If the Leader of the Opposition objects to the statement of the Minister for Social Services that he misread the quotation he should make a personal explanation after the Minister has concluded his speech.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The Leader of the Opposition may make a personal explanation after the Minister has concluded his speech, and, if necessary, he may re-read the extract.
– I shall do so.
– Both the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Nash quoted an extract from a report which appeared in the Melbourne Age of today’s date, headed “ Labour’s Collapse. Question marks on the Anti-Red legislation by the Age Canberra correspondent “. The report contains in inverted commas a verbatim record of a statement that was made by the Minister for Labour and National Service in the House of Representatives yesterday. At the conclusion of the Minister’s statement there appears the usual political speculation by the Canberra correspondent’ of the newspaper, who expresses his views upon what certain members of the Cabinet think and what the Government is likely to do in certain contingencies. The Leader of the Opposition and Senator Nash have assumed that that speculation is the view of the Minister for Labour and National Service, whereas it most obviously is not. A little careful thought on their part would have prevented them from making such a serious error. I thought that that matter was sufficiently serious to justify me in bringing it to the notice of the Senate. The Leader of the Opposition has inferred from his reading of the extract that the
Minister had expressed the view that the Government will not proceed to act under the provisions of this measure when it becomes law. That is not correct. This Government would not introduce legislation without assuming all the responsibilities that follow from its passage.
In the comparatively brief time in which I intend to address the Senate, I propose first to trace the early history of this legislation. Perspective sometimes lends wider vision to one who is looking at a particular problem. The subject upon which this legislation is grounded was a very pertinent issue during the general election campaign in 1949. It was debated on every platform throughout the Commonwealth and the Government gained a decisive electoral victory because of its stand in relation to it. In conformity with that victory the Government introduced legislation to give effect to the representations which had been made to the people during the course of the general election campaign. The legislation was debated at very great length in this chamber and in another place. Asthe result of that debate and of the representations that were made to the Government from outside the Houses of Parliament the Government made a series of amendments to the legislation in the hope that the bill would represent the consensus of opinion of this Parliament on a matter which was of grave national importance. The Government approached the problem in a responsible and temperate manner. It did its utmost to give evidence of its sincere desire to place upon the statute-book legislation which would be accepted by all sections of the Australian people. The fact that the Government was prepared to amend the legislation in order to overcome difficulties that arose as the debate proceeded gave the people added confidence in the Government. The people realized that it did not approach this great matter in any arbitrary fashion. That confidence will increase after this bill becomes law and the Government undertakes in a temperate manner the responsibilities that flow from its passage. Against the background of the manner in which the bill was introduced, the manner in which the Government accepted amendments to it, and the manner in which the Opposition sought to make further amendments which, in the opinion of the Government, would have emasculated the bill, this debate is an extraordinary one. This legislation has now come before us for a second time from the House of Representatives. If it were rejected by the Senate it would provide a basis upon which the people would be asked to express their views. That situation having been reached, the controlling authority of the Australian Labour party directed the parliamentary representatives of that party to cease their opposition to its passage. The members of the Labour party have bowed to the rule of the federal executive of the party and have now indicated that in the final analysis they will not oppose it. At no time while I have been present in the chamber has any Opposition senator said that he believes in the wisdom of the ruling of the executive of his party. Not one honorable senator opposite has said that he believes it to be in the best interests of the people of Australia which, of course, should be the paramount consideration. I do not recollect seeing any Opposition senator stand in his place and say that he believed that it would be a good thing for this bill to become law. On the contrary every honorable senator opposite who has spoken on the bill has continued to attack it. If my recollection is correct, Senator McKenna even went to the length of saying that he believed the Government should be ashamed of it. The Opposition, which as one man was bitterly opposed to the bill, now proposes to vote for it.
– That is not correct. Senator SPOOLER.- No political party can justify such a course of action and no nation can have confidence in a political party which adopts such a role. Over and over again Opposition senators have stated that only the Labour party can fight communism. I reply to that statement by saying that at the last general election the people gave conclusive evidence that they did not trust the Labour party to fight communism and, as is usual, the people were right. No political party can be trusted to fight anything if it is not prepared to uphold the principles in which it professes to believe. We have on our hands probably one of the gravest problems that has so far confronted the Australian community. We have to destroy permanently the power of the Communists in this country, because that power goes right to the heart of our industrial disputes and problems. That power, when it rests in the hands of members of the Communist party, is in very evil hands. I believe that when we consider this legislation we should do so in a spirit not only of steadfastness but also of moderation, because no great problem can be solved or overcome when an approach is made to it in heat and in excited circumstances. I believe that under this legislation we shall go a long way on the path to restoring stable economic conditions to Australia, and that those conditions can not be attained unless we break the power of communism. I believe, too, that the Labour party has failed to break the power of communism and that it is not playing honestly with the people of Australia when it does not record its vote upon this measure in accordance ‘ with its principles.
– The ball will be at the Government’s feet to-night. We shall see how it is kicked.
– During this debate there has been much discussion concerning the great principles of British justice. I should like to find, on either side of the Senate, a lawyer to develop this theme, because he would be better qualified to do so than I am, but I believe that justice is founded always upon good sense and common sense, upon upright dealings, and upon legislation passed by the parliaments of the country. I think that it is wrong and that it is a species of irresponsibility for a political party during the course of a debate, repeatedly to mouth sentiments about British justice, and at the same time not be prepared to accept its responsibilities to act according to its conscience and to place upon the statute-book legislation upon which justice and court decisions are founded.
– The Opposition could not do that. The Government would not accept its amendments.
– The Opposition has its opportunity to do so. It can reject this legislation and let the issue go to the people.
– That would not be getting us anywhere.
– It would be acting in accordance with its principles. As far as the Government is concerned, it is pleased to get the legislation.
– The honorable senator is the first member of the Government to say so.
– I repeat that statement and I do not make it in any irresponsible manner, because I can foresee the responsibilities that will follow in the administration of this legislation. What the members of the Opposition do in regard to their principles is a matter between each one of them and his conscience, but it is of great public importance and a matter which the people of Australia should consider in the months ahead that the Opposition has said, during the course of the debate, that the Government can expect no assistance from it upon such a grave national problem as that which has to be surmounted by this legislation. The members of the Opposition have said, in effect, “We will give you no assistance in this problem”.
– That is not correct.
– I do not believe it to be incorrect. I will take it a step further and say that when honorable senator after honorable senator of the Opposition criticizes this legislation, it can be fairly stated that not only does that indicate that the Opposition will not assist the Government in this grave national problem, but that it would be glad to see the Government fail in its task. I should like to think myself wrong in that statement, but I can only say that that is the abiding impression left with me as a result of this debate.
May I outline briefly what the legislation contemplates? It may be summarized into four objectives. First, it aims at the dissolution of the Communist party.
– The Opposition has never objected to that, has it?
– It aims at the Governor-General - acting, of course, nominally on behalf of the Government - declaring as an unlawful association any body of persons, except a trade union. That is an exception deliberately made, so that it throws back the lie to those on the Opposition side of the chamber who have said in the course of the debate that the legislation is aimed at trade unions.
– No honorable senator on this side of the chamber has ever alleged that a trade union would be covered by the legislation.
– It has been stated that this legislation is an attack on the trade unions. The Government very carefully exempted trade unions from that category. The bill further provides that certain associations affiliated with the Communist party, of which a majority of members are Communists, or of which a majority of the committee of management are Communists, or which support communism, may be dealt with in the same way as the Communist party will be dealt with.
– The Australian Council of Trades Unions and the Sydney Trades and Labour Council would be covered by it.
– I am only a junior member of the Cabinet, but I shall now give the Leader of the Opposition an undertaking on behalf of the Government that neither the Australian Council of Trades Unions nor the Sydney Trades and Labour Council will be declared, and in giving that undertaking, I do not think I am taking any risk.
– I endorse entirely the honorable senator’s undertaking.
– The measure also provides that where the GovernorGeneral considers any body of persons to be an unlawful association, that body may be dissolved in the same way as the Communist party is dissolved.
I now come to the provision, which has been debated at so much length in this chamber, that when the Governor-General - of course, again acting at the request of the Government - declares a person to be a Communist, that person suffers the following disabilities : He is not eligible for employment by the Commonwealth or an authority of the Commonwealth, nor is he eligible to hold office in certain industrial organizations. The industrial organizations that are affected are limited, because they must be engaged in an industry vital to the security and defence of Australia.
The purposes of the legislation are stated in simple terms. I believe the bill provides a formula which every member of Parliament should be prepared to support. I confess to a feeling of impatience when I hear discussion at such length upon this onus of proof clause, which must be viewed against the background of what is involved in the interests of Australia.. I am no lawyer, but I cannot see that there is so much difference between the procedure that is proposed under this bill and the ordinary case in which a citizen is charged with some offence. The fine lines of demarcation that are drawn leave me completely unimpressed. I believe that the position may be stated shortly in these terms: That a person may be declared a Communist ; if he accepts that declaration, or in the vernacular, he pleads guilty and does not appeal, that is the end of it; if he appeals, he has the rights that he would have in ordinary circumstances.
As I have said earlier, I have no doubt that there will be difficulties in the administration of this legislation. There are big issues involved, and the Communist organizations in Australia are powerful vested interests. Unfortunately, Communists have the capacity to lead otherwise good Australians along wrong pathways. One of the greatest regrets I feel at the tenor of the debate is that there have been constant attacks upon the bona fides of the Government regarding this legislation. I believe that no legislation of greater importance has been introduced in this Parliament for many a long day. I have the utmost confidence in the Prime Minister of this country and in my confreres in the Cabinet, and I know that this legislation will not be implemented in any hasty fashion, in any harsh way, or with any victimization. I believe that it will be implemented in a manner of which every right-thinking Australian will approve. I believe that prompt and effective action will be taken, but that there will be no action against an individual or an association to which any reasonable Australian could take exception.
– I agree with the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) that this has been an extraordinary debate. Honorable senators opposite have made some extraordinary statements. The Minister for Social Services was the first member of the Government to express his pleasure at the fact that the bill is likely to become law.
– The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) did so before the Minister for Social Services.
– As far as I am aware, the Attorney-General did nothing of the kind.
– He certainly did.
- Senator Wright certainly did not express his pleasure at the fact that the bill is likely to become law. Honorable senators opposite who spoke in this debate devoted most of the time that they occupied in addressing the Senate to criticizing the Opposition because it has decided to agree to the passage of the bill. One would have thought that, instead of upbraiding the Opposition for that decision they would congratulate it. If they desire so earnestly that the bill be passed, they should be pleased that, according to their views, honorable senators on this side of the chamber have seen the light and agreed to withdraw their opposition to the measure.
The Minister for Social Services took strong exception to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) reading an extract, from the Melbourne Age, in which a correspondent suggested that when this bill was passed, the Government would soft-pedal on it. Honorable senators opposite should not be thin-skinned. Since this bill was introduced into the Parliament some months ago, they have attempted to link the Labour party with the Communist party. Prom the time when the Communist party was established in this country, members of the present Government parties have endeavoured to prove that the Labour party is part and parcel of it. They have used those tactics almost from the foundation of the Labour movement. I have studied the history of the movement, and I know of the misrepresentations of its policy and objectives that have been made repeatedly. At genera] elections, members of the present Government parties suggest, as did their predecessors, that the Labour party stands for all things that are evil and is likely to cause the downfall of this country. Every one who runs may read the constitution of the Labour party. It is well known that the party is opposed to the Communist party, which is a contender for the leadership of the working class in Australia, but while the Labour party retains its leadership the Communist party cannot come to the forefront.
The Minister for Social Services rendered good service by tracing the history of this measure, and I intend to trace it more fully than he did. There are many people who wonder why the Labour party, believing this bill to be an iniquitous bill, believing that it infringes the fundamental principles of British justice and believing that it is the negation of many things for which the party stands, agreed to one clause of the bill. The Labour party is a democratic party. Australia is a democracy, and I hope that it will continue to be so after this bill becomes law. A general election was held on the 10th December of last year, and the people then had the right to choose the government of this country. This bill was one of the issues that was placed fairly and squarely before the people on that occasion. There had been industrial turmoil in Australia, and it was suggested that the Communist party was engaged in an industrial conspiracy against Australia. The Labour party was asked, “ Will you- ban the Communist party ? “ Answering truthfully, it said, “ We do not believe in banning a political party, although we disagree with the philosophy that it expounds “. That was true democracy. The present Government parties told the people that if. they were returned to power they would ban the Communist party, and at the polls the people of Australia gave them a mandate to do so. The members of the Labour party, believing in the principles of democracy, agreed that the Government had that mandate. I do not know whether the Government parties won the election on the Communist issue, or whether the electors were influenced by their undertaking to abolish petrol rationing and their fallacious promise to put value back into the £1, but I do not know that the people returned them with a majority in what is called the popular house.
When the Government introduced this measure, the members of the Australian Labour party, knowing that the Government parties had been successful at the polls, said, “ You have a right to introduce it, but we shall endeavour, by all means at our disposal, to induce you to amend it and bring it more into conformity with the principles of British justice “. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in introducing the bill, stated that the Government would take the bill, the whole bill and nothing but the bill. His attitude was that the Government, fresh from its victory at the polls, would accept no amendments. I remind honorable senators opposite who have accused the Labour party of giving the Communist party time to go underground, that possibly the Communists believed that the Government parties were parties of action and that they would immediately exercise the authority given to them by the people, but the bill was not introduced into the Parliament until six months after the general election, and the Communists were given an opportunity to make their arrangements.
What has happened in the meantime? We have described this bill as an obnoxious measure, but is it the bill that was originally introduced into the House of Representatives? Did the Government refuse to accept any amendments? Let me remind honorable senators opposite and others who have suggested that the Labour party should not have opposed this measure of one important amendment, amongst 40, that has been made to it. It was originally proposed to establish in this country a body of men who would have authority to enter the residence of any person, even by force, without a warrant and to search and destroy. Where is that provision to-day? Is it still in the bill? It is not. Thanks to the Opposition, which fought the provision tenaciously, and thanks to the outcry that arose outside the Parliament, the Government was forced to amend the bill. It saw that it had misjudged the Australian people, and it ran for cover. Not one Australian newspaper supported its contention that the provision to which I have referred was desirable. An amendment was accepted, and the clause was withdrawn. An examination of the bill in the form in which it left the Senate on the last occasion showed that clause after clause had been amended by the Senate and the House of Representatives. The bill before us to-day, although obnoxious in every way, has been amended as a result of the fight that was waged by the Labour party when the measure was before this chamber previously.
Honorable senators opposite have taken exception to the fact that, although we oppose some clauses of the measure, we shall allow it to become law. The outside body to which reference has been made, in addition to suggesting that the party should allow the bill to become law, intimated that members of the party could criticize obnoxious clauses, and 1 am pleased that honorable senators on this side of the chamber have done so. Some people in this country who have been clamouring for the bill to be passed may rue the day when it is placed on the statute-book. They have been led astray by honeyed words such as those uttered to-night by the Attorney-General. Too many people in this country believe that the things that have happened elsewhere could not happen here. I remind the Senate and the people of Australia that this bill was introduced during a wave of hysteria against communism and the Comunist party. A cold war was being fought in Europe, and people who had vivid recollections of two great conflicts within 25 years and who feared the possibility of another conflict taking place in Europe were obsessed by the idea that the Communists should be banned, because communism is linked up with the Soviet Union. Too many people, carried away by such sentiments, did not study the provisions of the bill critically, believing that what I have pointed out could not happen in Australia. I trust that the assertions of the AttorneyGeneral and the Minister for Social Services that we have been misreading this bill are true, that it shall not menace trade unionism, and that young men who believe that the conditions of the workers should be improved, will not be declared “for voicing their opinions. . For very many years I was associated with the industrial movement in this country, and I know what has happened since the Communist party began to make its presence felt in Australia. Almost every young man who has protested against harsh conditions in industry has been termed “ a young Commo. “. Whenever demands have been made for improved conditions in industry many people have asserted that but for the Communist party those demands would not have been made. The Russian Revolution took place in 1917, before there was a Communist in this country. That is only a very short while ago, in terms of the history of the working classes to improve their conditions. Everybody who has read the history of the industrial movement knows that whenever attempts have been made by the workers to improve their conditions, other sections of the community have alleged that their efforts were the work of agitators and malcontents. It has been claimed by the Government that this bill has been introduced for the purpose of inducing greater production in this country. I hope, therefore, that whenever the trade unions make claims for better working conditions, the Government will not allege that they are infringing the various cla_uses of this bill, and that, therefore, action must be taken against them.
As honorable senators know, the present upheaval by railway employees in Victoria is likely to extend. Some people have suggested that the trouble has been Communist-inspired. However, I arn in a position to assure the Senate that the industrial struggle that has led up to the present situation was not Communistinspired. The cause of the trouble has been a sore point with railway employees for many years. There was considerable agitation about it when I was associated with the railway men. The trouble arose in this way: Railway employees, expecting to be required to work only a reasonable shift, and consequently not taking any food to work with them, have been required to remain on duty for many hours beyond the time that they had expected to finish work. Arrangements that they had made to spend the evening with their wives and families were suddenly upset. On the days immediately following they would be booked on short shifts, or not assigned any work at all. At the end of their pay period they would find that although they had been required at times to work for excessively long periods, in effect, because of the subsequent short shifts and lost days, they had worked for single time. Ultimately the matter was brought to the head by the railway guards refusing to work until the matter was rectified. The agreement between the employees and the Railways Commissioners was not ratified by the conciliation commissioner. It is therefore apparent that the present strike was not Communist-inspired, and that the trouble should have been rectified long ago. .People are prone to suggest that all of the unrest in the industrial movement in this country can be laid at the doorstep of the Communist party. I contend that this bill will not result in a better understanding between the employers and the workers. The provisions of the bill will not stimulate production. Senator Grant and Senator Morrow have already pointed out the difficulties with which the Government will probably be confronted in attempting to achieve its objective.
The Government believes that it has a mandate to implement this measure. In view of the continued efforts of the Opposition to induce the Government to amend the bill, one would have thought that if honorable senators opposite were reasonable they would have accepted the final amendment that was moved by the Opposition. I refer to the amendment to preserve the principles of British justice and the ordinary processes of law in relation to Communists. I remind the Senate that those processes of law are guaranteed to the worst criminals in the land. We have even given the Japanese war criminals a greater measure of fairness than is contained in this bill. We thought, in view of the earlier speeches of Government senators, that they would be amenable to reason. Instead, however, they have argued that if a declared person appeals to the court he should then go into the witness-box and take the oath, whereupon the onus of proof would revert to the Crown. I think honorable senators will agree that an expert interpretation of the provisions of this bill has’ been placed before the Senate by Senator McKenna, and before the House of Representatives by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). Time and time again they have drawn attention to the fact that, under this bill, two classes of people may be declared, that is, a person who is a Communist and is likely to engage in subversive activities, and the person who is not a Communist but is likely to commit subversive acts. How is it possible to tell whether a person is going to commit a crime? Tet the Government refuses to grant to the latter class of person the right of appeal.
There was much criticism of the definition of “ Communist “ in the original bill.. That definition has not been altered. No motion was moved to amend the definition ‘because, as honorable senators will agree, it is ‘most difficult to frame a clearer definition of “ Communist “. Owing to the complexities of the English language, it is very difficult to define “ Communist “. Many words in our language, although pronounced similarly, have different meanings. Attention has already been drawn to the fact that, according to the definition in the bill, a person who advocated the principles of Marx or Lenin could be declared. I remind the Senate that many things other than revolution were advocated by both Marx and Lenin. For instance, they advocated industrial reforms such as a shorter working week, and a basic wage, as well as other reforms that the Government parties now include in their policy planks. No member of this chamber, including the many rabid conservatives and supporters of ‘the Australian Country party, could prove that they were not Communists, according to the legal interpretation of the definition in the bill. Honorable senators opposite may laugh, but I maintain that, having regard to the definition of a Communist as it appears in the bill, not one of them could prove that he is not a Communist. Last night, some honorable senators began to laugh when Senator Morrow said that a numb- ber of his friends were, opposed to this bill. We remember that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when he was introducing the bill, made a slighting reference to Senator Morrow, for which he could have bitten his tongue out a moment later, and honorable senators opposite laughed because they assumed that Senator Morrow’s friends would be found amongst the Communists. However, it is well known that honorable senators opposite have not been averse to securing the votes of Communists at election time, and a man can have no better friend than the one who votes to put him into this Parliament. In his speech last night, Senator Morrow quoted the opinions of many eminent persons who had expressed their opposition to this bill.
– Senator Wright’s brother was among them.
– That is so. It will not be amiss if I mention one or two other eminent persons who have expressed opposition to the bill. I remind honorable senators that Professor Walter Murdoch, who contributes a column each Saturday evening to the Melbourne Herald, said that it would be possible to declare the Prime Minister himself as a Communist under the definition of “ Communist “ in the bill. We know that no fewer than 23 professors of the Sydney University, men who by no stretch of imagination could be regarded as Communists, wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald protesting against the passage of this measure. I hope that Australia will still be a democracy even after the bill becomes law, and that we shall have reason to admit that we have been wrong regarding the measure.
I propose now to say something about a matter which has greatly interested honorable senators opposite, namely, the acceptance by members of the Opposition in the Senate of a direction from the federal executive of the Australian Labour party. The Attorney-General waxed very indignant that we, the elected representatives of the people, should have acted as we did. Listening to him, one might be pardoned for believing that the Attorney-General and his colleagues are free agents, that they had got here on their own initiative, and by virtue of their own ability, because the people picked them out as something above the ordinary. On a previous occasion, the Attorney-General was a member of this Senate for a period of three years and ten months. He served his party well, and was an able exponent of Liberal policy. When he sought re-election, who decided that he should play third fiddle, and appear on the party ticket after Sir Frank Beaurepaire and Mr. Moss? Did the Attorney-General say on that occasion, “Although I am already a senator, I am so generous that I will place myself in third position so that SirFrank Beaurepaire, who has never been in politics before, and Mr. Moss may be elected before me”? I hardly imagine that to be so, since the placing of the candidates must have had the effect of causing the honorable senator to lose his. seat if there had been a swing away from his . party. I ask honorable senators from Queensland, who decided that SenatorFoll should no longer be endorsed as a Liberal candidate, although he was an outstanding senator, and had served his country and his party in the Senate for many years ? He just quietly disappeared from the political arena. Was it at his own request? I have an idea that it was not so. As a matter of fact, he lodged a writ for libel against certain persons in connexion with the occurrences of that time. I ask honorable senators opposite, who decided that the late ex-senator R. D. Elliott, of Victoria, should retire from the Liberal team? Did he pass out quietly, and decide that he would be an independent? No. There was some power behind the throne which exercised a decision in the matter. Who decided that the Cain Government in Victoria should be denied supply to carry on the administration? Was it the Legislative Assembly of the Victorian Parliament, the House that usually makes and unmakes governments? No, it was an unseen power, the great financial institutions operating from Collins-street, which acted through their representatives in theUpper House, that House which has at last been reformed after 50 years of agitation by the Labour party.
– Come back to the bill.
– Honorable senators opposite do not like it. They were quite ready to charge members of the Labour party with obeying the decisions of outsiders, but they are very sensitive when reminded that they themselves are also controlled by outsiders.
– That is a deliberate lie!
– Order! I point, out to Senator Mattner that he must not use such expressions in the Senate.
– Honorable senators opposite did not hesitate to give it to us, but now they cannot take it.
– The Labour party was afraid to go to the country.
– Honorable senators opposite said that we obeyed the dictates of an outside authority. At least, those who made the decision which we accepted are members of the Labour party. We know who they are, and the people of Australia know who they are, and the nature of their association with the party. They have sprung from the ranks of the party, and the people know that they now constitute the supreme governing authority in the Labour movement. But are honorable senators opposite prepared to name those who direct their actions? Who knows the names of the consultative council of the Liberal party in Sydney?
– There is no such body.
– Has . it gone into smoke because it was afraid of being declared a subversive organization?
– There is no consultative council of the Liberal party.
– I ask Senator McCallum to keep quiet.
– You ask me to keep quiet when a misstatement has been made.
– I have never taken action against an honorable senator during the seven years I have been in the chair, but I will take it to-night if need be. I do not want to put any one out of the chamber, but honorable senators must obey the Chair. There is no need to become heated. Every honorable senator has a right to speak, and to be heard in silence. As I pointed out yesterday, honorable senators should curb their anger when another honorable senator, in thecourseofhisspeech, getsundertheir political skin.
– No one is getting under my political skin.
– Order! Senator McCallum, you are inviting me to take drastic action. I appeal to honorable senators to be reasonable. I am not a martinet, and I have stood for a good deal when, perhaps, I should have called for order. I do not mind an interjection if it is intelligent or humorous, but continuous noise is not welcome to any speaker, and certainly does nothing to enhance the prestige of the Senate.
– I regret that honorable senators opposite are not able to take what they have been so liberally handing out during the last few days. They were quite prepared to utter cheap gibes at our expense, and those gibes have been repeated by the mouthpieces of the Government outside the Parliament, including the newspapers, which have supported the Government through thick and thin. The press has misrepresented the attitude of the Labour party towards thisbill.
– In what way?
– In every way. We on this side of the chamber take no exception to the decision of the governing body of the Labour movement that, having criticized the iniquities of the bill and having been successful in securing many amendments of it, we should allow the bill to pass back to its sponsors to make of it what they will; yet we have been subjected to the cheap jibes of honorable senators opposite who have talked about outside direction. I only wish that I were in a position to give to the Senate figures showing the number of men and women who endorsed the selection of the Labour candidates for the Senate elections. Honorable senators opposite, on the other hand, were selected in a little back room by half a dozen people; yet they talk about democracy! This bill will become law. We have made our protest. There has been a suggestion that, should Labour be returned to office at some future date, it will remove this measure from the statute-book, but I remind the Senate that a clause in the bill gives the Government power to do thai by proclamation. No act of Parliament is required. Why then has the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made a great song about the fighting of the next elections on the “Red” bill? Both the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) and the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) have referred to-night to the great difficulties that will confront the Government in implementing this measure. They have pleaded for sympathy. Ever since the introduction of this bill the attitude of Government supporters to it has been one of hypocrisy, cant, and humbug. They misled the people about the effectiveness of the bill. Were honorable senators opposite being honest to-night when they spoke of the extreme difficulty that would be encountered in implementing that measure?
– Who said that?
– Both the Minister for Social Services and the Attorney-General said that the Government would have extreme difficulty.
– I do not think they used those words.
– They did. The honorable senator could not have been listening. To make the bill look innocent the Government inserted a clause providing for the repeal of the measure by proclamation. Good people who are opposed to atheistic communism and to everything that they have been led to believe communism stands for have been induced to accept the measure in the belief that the Government will not continue to exercise the power that is contained in it. The Government came to power by fraud and trickery, but the people of Australia will see through it. The Government has failed to honour its election promises, and it will go down. It has not succeeded in anything. What excuse has it to offer? The Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) said recently that his medical benefits scheme had been delayed by the Senate. Has that scheme ever been brought up for discussion in this chamber? It has not. The right honorable gentleman reminded me of the Minister for Fuel. Shipping and Transport, who, if he deigns to answer a question at all, invariably says that if it were not forthe “ CommA “ in this country everything would be all right. The poor old “ Commo “ has been thoroughly exploited by the Government.
Sitting here watching the faces of honorable senators opposite when they learned that this bill would become law, it was clear to me that they realized that their lifebuoy had vanished. The Communist Party Dissolution Bill was the lifebuoy on which they had relied to keep them afloat. They were safe so long as they could blame the Communists for everything, and associate the Labour party with the Communists. They hoped that, by continuing such tactics, they could divert attention from the Government’s inability to deal with the great problems with which it is now confronted. The Opposition leaves the bill to the Government. Honorable senators opposite will now have an opportunity to implement this legislation, and so honour at least one of their election promises. I believe, however, that they will be no more successful with this measure than they have been with their efforts to arrest inflation and to put value back into the £1. In conclusion, I say, “You have asked for the baby; we hand it to you. Do your best
– Over a month ago-
– I rise to order. I understood that the practice in this chamber was to alternate the call between Opposition and Government senators. Senator Hannaford is on your list,’ Mr. President, and is ready to speak.
– That is not a point of order. The practice is as the honorable senator has stated, and I have always endeavoured to adhere to it. I think I can claim to have a reputation for fairness with honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. Whilst the Deputy President was in the chair, the Minister for Social Services spoke in place of Senator Hannaford. Senator Sheehan then spoke and the next speaker on my list is Senator Cooke. Therefore, when Senator Cooke rose I called him. Had I seen Senator Hannaford no doubt I would have called him.
– Some months ago the Senate dealt with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. The Opposition agreed with everything in that bill for which the Government had a mandate. The bill as returned to another place gave the Government power to ban the Communist party, to dispose of its funds, to put in a receiver and to deal with subsidiary bodies. It also contained many other provisions with which the Opposition did not agree, but which it conceded because it believed that the Government had received a mandate from the people about those matters. The Opposition in this chamber amended the bill to bring the matter of dealing with suspected Communists more into line with the principles of British justice. We were determined that the rule of law should prevail. The Opposition agrees with the Government that communism should be destroyed, but it does not agree with the methods by which the Government in this bill proposes to deal with the Communists. There are better methods of eradicating this evil than the method prescribed by the bill. The record of the Liberal and Country parties in connexion with communism is contained in a long story of sordid political dishonesty. In 1925 the then Prime Minister Mr. Bruce, speaking about communism, said -
I appeal to my fellow citizens to support and assist me in destroying this viper (communism) which has raised its head in our midst.
He also said -
The Government is determined to defeat the nefarious designs of the extremist, and armed with a mandate of the people will take all necessary steps to accomplish this end.
Those statements were made a quarter of a century ago. Since then the parties now in office have acted in connexion with communism with calculated sordid political dishonesty, until at last that has culminated in this bill which is a disgrace to the parties initiating it. Moreover, the initial bill contained a clause which should never have been put into it. I propose to read that clause to show how vicious, rotten and totalitarian it would have been in its application.
– Order ! In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department - Defence - M. G. Maroney. National Development - R. D. Pratten.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 61.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 68.
Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 60.
Superannuation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules I960, No. 69.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 October 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1950/19501018_senate_19_209/>.