23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read, prayers.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is h& aware, that a. second Sydney finance, company which had approved- loans amounting, to £240,000 for home building will, now be unable to finance these loans because of the Commonwealth Government’s recent, credit restrictions? ls he. aware that as a result of the Government’s panic economic measures the home-building industry- is facing a grave crisis and that tragic repercussions will be felt throughout Australia? In the face of these irrefutable facts, what remedial action does the Government propose, to take?
– I read the newspaper report relating to this matter,, but J did. not regard the. company’s decision as being conclusive. I am inclined to suggest to the honorable senator and to others that they wait a while to see the net result of the Government’s policy. I do not accept the view that there will be disaster or any great difficulties in the home-building industry. I have in mind comparatively small homes. We should suspend judgment and wait and’ see what happens. I shall be surprised indeed if there is a setback in the building of the ordinary homeas distinct from large blocks- of flats and activities of that kind’.
– Has the Minister for National Development read the press report of the strong criticism by the- Labour Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Reece, and other Tasmanian. political leaders-,, of the attitude of the- Australian Labour Party members in the Senate, with particular reference, to the senators from Tasmania,, who. criticized the agreement- which will enable a great -expansion in the production of aluminium, in northern Tasmania? Is it not obvious that everyone in Tasmania is thrilled at the prospect of the great industrial activity that will stem from this Government’s action?
Senator- SPOONER. - I have received a copy of the newspaper report but I am sorry, to. say; that I have not had a chance to read it>. 1 subscribe entirely to the view that th& completion of this transaction, must be rated- as. one of. the greatest industrial developments that has occured’ in Tasmania. I think it will- open- the door for magnificent progress in- the aluminium industry in that State-
– My question tothe. Minister for Nacional Development also relates to the: aluminium industry in. Tasmania.. Is the Minister not aware that the Opposition was completely in favour of the- expansion of the industry in that State and that its objection, was directed, among other things, to. the importation of overseas interests in a dominating way into this industry? Is the Minister not aware that the Opposition’s objection was directed also to the Commonwealth Government’s action in, negotiating with only one company without giving Australian interests an opportunity to tender for the undertaking, on without, even arranging for some proper competition between overseas, interests?
– I do not agree- with the- proposition that the Australian Labour Party in the Senate supported’ this proposal. The whole- of the speeches of the Opposition during the second-reading’ debate contained critical, comment. In my view the net result of the Labour Party’s contribution to the debate, was a. criticism- of the proposal, but it? did’ not then- vote- against the proposal. I believe that the Labour Party voted as it did on the motion for the second-reading of the bill through lack of courage and in an endeavour to, have il both ways. The answer to the criticism that Senator McKenna now makes was. given fully during the. second-reading debate. The- view I hold is that it would: not be’ possible to. obtain this expansion without overseas capital being invested in the industry. Thatis one- of the bases on which we approachedthe matter, and I make no apology, fordealing with the company with, which the deal was consummated, because- 1 have. con.fidence that it willi carry out the: development in Tasmania that is inherent in the whole proposal.
– My question, is addressed to. the Minister for Customs and. Excise. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to a statement attributed in to-day’s press to Mr. Rylah, the Chief Secretary of Victoria, when he was speaking yesterday to a delegation from British book publishers? Has he noticed that these publishers said that the existing Commonwealth censorship control was adequate for all imported books and that the States should abide by the expert and mature decisions of the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board? Did he notice, further, that Mr. Rylah said he thought the Commonwealth Customs censorship of books was of very doubtful validity? Has the Minister any views on the question of the validity of Commonwealth censorship? If he has any doubts, is there any way in which he thinks those doubts can be resolved?
– The honorable senator is aware that I have attempted to arrange a conference between the Commonwealth and the States. I can now advise the Senate that the State of New South Wales has agreed to attend the conference. My department is arranging the agenda and the time of the conference, which I hope will take place in the new year. The honorable senator referred to decisions of the Literature Censorship Board. I should like to point out to the Senate that the board is an advisory body only; the decision in these matters lies with the Minister. Having made that aspect clear, I may say that we do not talk about banning or censoring; The department has the power to prohibit imports, and the section of the Customs Act dealing with prohibited imports is used for this purpose. No power of censorship is vested in the Federal Government by the Australian Constitution. The only power we have is the power in the Customs Act to prohibit imports. I should not like to comment further on the matters that the honorable senator has raised. Without question, they will be threshed out at this conference which, as we can now see, will take place. I propose to leave the matter at that until the conference has been held.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Has the Minister noticed a report in this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ to the effect that the Minister for Mines in Western Australia has stated that a licence has been granted for the export of 500 tons of iron ore from the Scott River deposits in the south-west of Western Australia?
– What is the name of the river?
– Scott River. The ore is to be exported to Japan, Germany and,. 1 think, the United States of America for the purpose of obtaining metallurgical information on ways and means of upgrading the ore. Can the Minister inform me whether the Commonwealth Government, through the Bureau of Mineral Resources, will obtain access to the information gained as a result of the export of this ore to those countries in which the tests will be made?
– I shall be asking for leave of the Senate later in this morning’s proceedings to make a statement on this matter, and I should like to defer answering the question until I make that statement.
Prices of Houses
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. In view of the high prices being asked for houses in Canberra, which exceed by 25 per cent, or 50 per cent, the prices of houses of similar construction in Western’ Australia, will the Minister for the Interior have made an actuarial survey of the factors which are causing such inflated prices in the Australian Capital Territory with a view to bringing home-ownership in the Territory within the reach of the average worker?
– I am not informed as to the actual cost of houses in the Australian Capital Territory, but I should say that probably there is some difference between a house here and one in Western Australia.
– There is a difference in the cost.
– I should say that there is a difference in the cost, because access to timber is probably, easier in Western Australia than in the National Capital. I am quite sure that when contracts for the construction of houses in Canberra are being let, the Territory authorities accept the lowest tender provided that they are assured that the houses will be well built and that good materials will be used. I shall convey the honorable senator’s question to my colleague.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. It is as follows: - In view of the fact that at the present time the Commonwealth Government rents premises for its departments in at least 21 different buildings in Adelaide, and in view of the fact that several large office buildings either are under construction or are to be constructed in the near future in that city, does not the Minister consider it advisable in the interests of efficiency and the convenience of the general public to review the whole departmental set-up in Adelaide and to endeavour to group the Commonwealth’s main offices in the space available in one of these large modern buildings?
– I think that this matter was raised a short time ago. I remember an answer being given to the effect that it was considered that sufficient rented space for the Commonwealth’s needs has been obtained in Adelaide and that in other cities the Commonwealth has not been able to rent sufficient space to meet its needs and has therefore had to construct its own office buildings. I think that the present would probably be a rather bad time for the Commonwealth to construct office buildings in a city where the Government did not actually need the additional space because it could rent sufficient office accommodation. I think that the Minister for the Interior will agree with me that at the present time, while we are trying to economize on buildings, the Government would be unwise to construct new office buildings in any part of Australia unless there was an urgent need for additional office space for the Commonwealth’s purposes and such space could not be rented.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation give a progress report on the building of the Hobart Repatriation Hospital? How much money has been spent and is there any planned work still to be completed?
– The repatriation hospital at Hobart is being built according to plan. It is expected that the work will be finished this year. From memory, I cannot tell the honorable senator the total expenditure so far. I think it is of the order of £200,000, but I ask him not to tie me down to that figure. The work is going on, and, so far as I know, it will be completed on time. There was some difficulty with the foundations owing to the rock formation, and this caused a slight delay, but I understand that the difficulty has been overcome and that fairly good progress is being made.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether he will endeavour to obtain from his colleague before the Senate rises next week, an answer to question No. 16 standing in my name on the notice-paper. The question relates to whaling.
– The answer is, “ Yes “.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is he aware that the Prime Minister’s recent statement at Horsham, in Victoria - that the Liberal Party is at its danger point - has given rise to wide comment amongst Government members, who claim that the statement was inspired by resentment of criticism of the Government’s economic measures?
– I do not know of any criticism of the Prime Minister by members of the Liberal Party. Indeed, I am. sure that I speak for 100 per cent, of the members of the Liberal Party when I say that they have supreme confidence in the Prime Minister. I am sure also that I speak for 100 per cent, of the members of the Australian Labour Party when I say that they wish that they had as good a leader.
– I ask the Minister for National Development: Is it a fact that the value of oil imports into Australia is currently running at the rate of approximately £A.200,000,000 per annum? Does this mean that it is of urgent and vital importance that oil should be discovered in Australia at the earliest possible moment? Has the whole of the oil drilling subsidy of approximately £1,500,000 been allocated for this year? Is it a fact that some companies are expected to wait for periods of up to six and seven months before being granted a share of this subsidy?
– I agree with the honorable senator’s statement that it is urgent that we find oil in Australia. I think he has quoted a wrong figure for the total value of oil imports. The oil search subsidy scheme is working very satisfactorily. All the funds available are committed until the end of June of next year. I should not like to say offhand whether there is a waiting period for subsidy payments. Our policy is to pay an oil drilling subsidy only in certain circumstances. Applicants are required to qualify for it. There is not a general subsidization of the cost of drilling for oil. The various applications have to be considered, technical inquiries have to be made, and so on. I do not think there is a waiting list, but I am not sure on that point.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. Has he seen a statement, reported as having been made by Sir William Hudson, that the electricity to be generated by the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority will be sold at a price that will subsidize the irrigation water to the Murray and Murrumbidgee areas? Does the Minister agree with that statement? If he does, I ask: Why are the costs not more widely distributed over the whole of the Snowy Mountains project? Further, in view of the cost of electricity as a factor in the processing of alumina to aluminium, has any investigation been made into the economics of using electricity from the Snowy Mountains scheme for aluminium smelting to make it possible for large-scale aluminium smelters to operate in Australia with electricity supplied from the Snowy Mountains scheme?
– I reply to Senator O’Byrne in this way: The whole concept of the Snowy Mountains scheme was to charge the entire cost of it against the cost of producing power, giving the water for irrigation free at the boundaries of the Snowy Mountains scheme. That was the basis on which the scheme was conceived - to give water free of cost for irrigation purposes and to charge the cost against power. It is hardly fair to say that that is a subsidy in respect of the water, because that was the policy decided nationally at the time in the belief, as events are proving now, that power could be produced competitively even though it carried the cost of the irrigation scheme.
On the second aspect, as to whether power from the scheme could be used for an aluminium smelter, the answer is, “ Yes “. I made inquiries about costs, of course; but then one comes back again to the basic concept of the scheme. I remind Senator O’Byrne that the basic concept of the Snowy Mountains scheme was to produce peak-load power, which is so much more advantageous coming from a hydro-electric scheme. We would have to change the whole basis of the scheme to provide baseload power for an aluminium industry, and I do not think that that would be justified. I do not know that the Snowy Mountains scheme, committed as it is to providing water free of cost for irrigation, could reasonably be expected to compete with other sources of base-load power, remembering how important costs are for aluminium production and how strong the competition is to provide such power.
– My question to the Minister for National Development relates to the search for oil in Australia. The Minister will no doubt have read certain reports in the press recently, some of which are conflicting, relating to a report which is to be made to and published by the Government on oil exploration conducted by certain French technicians. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether this report will be made available to the Senate before Parliament rises?
– I am not sure that I can promise that. I am endeavouring to get a Cabinet decision on the matter as soon as is practicable. Whether I can do so in the - I hope - short time before the Senate rises, I am not sure.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
Minister for Social Services has supplied the following reply: - 1 and 2. The Department of Social Services provides hearing aids free of cost to pensioners and beneficiaries who are accepted for treatment and training under the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service. The Commonwealth Department of Health makes similar provision for school children who require hearing aids and the Repatriation Commission for war widows and certain classes of ex-servicemen. Apart from these instances the view of successive Commonwealth governments has been that the provision of hearing aids and the replacement of batteries is more properly a function of the State governments and voluntary welfare agencies.
– by leave - The statement I am about to make concerns the export of iron ore and the Government’s new incentive policy to encourage discovery. The Commonwealth Government has decided to permit the export of iron ore from Australia on a carefully controlled and limited basis, which will ensure that iron ore reserves considered essential for Australia’s industrial future are conserved. The new policy is expected to provide a stimulous to the discovery of new deposits and the more detailed investigation of known deposits. The State Premiers have been informed of this change in the Commonwealth’s policy.
Since 1938 there has been an embargo upon the export of iron ore from Australia. This policy was adopted because, on the information then available, Australia’s iron ore reserves were believed to be small. In 1959 the Bureau of Mineral Resources of the Department of National Development completed a comprehensive review of Australia’s known and potential reserves. After giving careful consideration to this review and contrasting the situation now with what it was believed to be in 1938, the Government has decided that future supplies to our iron and steel industry will not be prejudiced if limited exports from certain deposits are allowed. The management of our iron ore resources to protect Australia’s own industrial future is paramount in the Government’s approach to the question. Under the new policy we will continue to prohibit the export of iron ore from the three regions which contain most of our demonstrated reserves of iron ore. As in 1938, conservation is the keynote of our policy, but we have now coupled with it an incentive for exploration.
The Government hopes that the modification of the control will aid our foreign exchange reserves through the export opportunities that exist, but at the same time the new policy is very much directed towards encouraging exploration and investigation in the expectation that, after allowing for the exports that would be permitted, a net increase in known reserves of ore would result.
Exports will be strictly controlled and will be subject to a limitation as to the period over which exports may be made, or as to the quantity to be exported, or, if necessary, both. However, so that exploration may be encouraged, these limits will take into account the point that interested1 persons or firms should have reasonablescope to amortize essential expenditures and make reasonable profits. The Government considers that there could well be advantages in the long term for Australia if as. much as possible of our ore were exported in processed form instead of as ore, and if exports were carried in Australian ships. These possibilities will be examined.
The review made by the Bureau of Mineral Resources has shown that the situation has substantially changed since 1938. An official estimate of our iron ore reserves made in 1940 was 259,000,000 tons, whereas in 1959 they were estimated by the Bureau of Mineral Resources to be 3b8,000,000 tons. Thus, although approximately 50,000,000 tons of ore have been mined since 1940, reserves have increased by more than 100,000,000 tons.
In 1938 no deposits of economic significance were known other than those included in the estimate of resources, and the prospect of future discoveries being made appeared poor. To-day there are several deposits known, in addition to those included in the estimates, which give promise of being substantial, and there are other developments likely to lead to relatively large supplies of ore being available from sources not included in the estimates.
In recent years, there have been discoveries of iron deposits at Constance Range in Queensland, Roper Bar in the Northern Territory, and Bungalbin in Western Australia, and indications are that the Savage River deposits in north-west Tasmania are much larger than was earlier thought. Although much work has yet to be done to prove these deposits and to assess their economic worth, their discovery is a heartening sign that further investigation may add greatly to our proved reserves.
Experimental work at the pilot plant stage, now being conducted by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited into benefication of ironbearing jaspilites in South Australia, offers promise of success that may result in large quantities of this material becoming available for use in the Australian steel industry.
We believe that the new policy opens the way to -
The details of the new arrangements, which will be promulgated shortly, are -
Application for permission to export should be made to the Secretary, Department of National Development, G.P.O. Box 10, Canberra.
I lay on the table of the Senate the following paper: -
Exports of Iron Ore - Ministerial Statement dated 2nd December, 1960.
– I move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Monday, 5th December, at 2.15 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That Orders of the Day Nos. 1 and 2, Govern ment business, be postponed until after consideration of Order of the Day No. 7.
– It is unusual for the Opposition to oppose a motion of this kind proposed at the instance of the Government-
– I rise to order, Mr. President. I submit that this motion is not subject to debate in the Senate.
– Order! No debate is allowed onthis motion.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 1st December (vide page 1932), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved by way of amendment -
Leave out all words after “ That “, insert “ the bill be withdrawn and redrafted because it fails to repeal objectionable features of the Crimes Act. including political and industrial offences and the death penalty, and because it fails -
to preserve the rule of law and the principles of natural justice in trials for serious offences;
to achieve certainty and precision in the definition of these offences;
to ensure the application of long established rules excluding evidence of the character of an accused person on trial for these offences;and
to guarantee freedom to do anything in good faith of a substantially religious or humanitarian character “.
– Perhaps not surprisingly, I had concluded my remarks when the debate was interrupted last night. I ‘have read the list of 42 amendments which have been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), and it serves to fortify my view that, substantially, the bill is one for consideration in committee. Therefore, I reserve my remarks on those amendments until the committee stages.
.- This is a very important bill because it affects civil rights and the future security of this country. For that reason I am sorry that it should have been guillotined in another place, and I express the hope that it will not receive similar treatment here in spite of what I feel was a rather unfortunate attempt last evening to prevent Senator Vincent from completing his remarks.
There is no justification for rushing the discussion on this measure because, as was pointed out by Senator McKenna, legislation of this kind was promised by the Government as long ago as 1949, while, in the report of the Petrov commission which was submitted in 1955, one finds references to the fact that the law of Australia, according to the judges who sat on the commission, was inadequate to combat espionage, particularly in time of peace. The Australian Democratic Labour Party does not accept any responsibility for the delay - it was suggested that all parties were responsible to some degree - because the Australian Democratic Labour Party has been urging since 1955 that the Australian law relating to espionage and treason should be brought up to date. As an example of the unsatisfactory situation, I shall read a comment made by the judges in their report. They said -
Espionage by that name is not an offence known to the law. Under the common law, if a person obtained a secret document from an official he could be charged only with larceny of the paper.
In the United Kingdom, the Official Secrets Act was passed in 1911. That Act operated in Australia until the Commonwealth Parliament enacted, in the Crimes Act of 1914, the provisions of the Act of the United Kingdom. In 1920 the Parliament of the United Kingdom amended the Act of 1911, making, inter alia, drastic changes as to the onus of proof in respect of offences under the principal Act. None of the amendments made in the United Kingdom Act of 1920 have been adopted in Australia.
It appears that we lag behind, so far as our espionage laws are concerned, and this measure to a big extent is an attempt to bring those laws up to date. My party has continually referred to the fact that the law on this question was unsatisfactory, and I suppose the most notable occasion on which we said that was when the Soviet Embassy was re-opened in Canberra. Both Senator Cole and I made the point very strongly that, as in the Petrov commission it had been shown that espionage was actively carried on from the embassy, it was necessary with the reopening of the embassy to take proper measures in this regard. I am glad that the Government is taking action on this question, and I believe that this action is by no means before its time.
There has been a lot of exaggeration about the present bill. There seems to be a kind of mentality which holds the view that if you attempt to do anything at all on these lines you should be immediately accused of making Australia a police state. I do not propose to indulge in any of that exaggeration. I read a statement made by the Federal President of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. Chamberlain, in which he expressed the view that 80 per cent, of the bill was unobjectionable; his objections were to the remaining 20 per cent. We have had Senator McKenna make the position clear that his party has no quarrel with the bulk of the provisions in the bill. I think that that is a reasonable and a sensible point of view.
I, along with other members, have received a considerable volume of representation from organizations of all kinds. I welcome this because I think that is part of the democratic process. We have had representations from churches, civil liberty bodies and trade unions. As I say, I welcome this, because I think it contri butes to our understanding and to our consideration of the measure before us. Some reference has been made to the representations of the Presbyterian Church. I think that a church has every right to make representations just as other people have every right to disagree with the representations, if they think fit. I would be sorry to think that there would ever be a time in this community when any one could suggest that the churches did not have the same right as other organized bodies to express their views in measures placed before the Parliament.
Some representations made to us were of a character that we could properly receive and consider; some were foolish, some were exaggerated, and some came from tainted sources. But I was particularly impressed with the representation that I received from the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia. The Union had very sensibly, in order to assist it in preparing its views on the bill, asked for opinion from eminent counsel. I propose to read, as a common sense point of view from a trade union, the concluding remarks of the report which it forwarded to a number of members. This opinion is a legal opinion signed by two eminent counsel. The passage to which I refer reads -
It appears to us that in general the proposed amending Act can be fairly claimed to be a genuine attempt to reform and bring up to date the Crimes Act, and to tighten up provisions against treacherous activities, sabotage, espionage etc., in a way that cannot be said to be unnecessary in the light of recent events and the current situation.
There is no reason for believing that any part of the proposed Act is especially directed at trade union activities, although it does proceed on the assumption that trade union officials and members have the same obligations of loyalty to the State as other citizens.
There is not in our view any reasonable basis for general opposition by a trade union to the proposed Act as a whole, but there is reason for seeking amendments to particular provisions for the reasons which we have given.
There was condemnation from Senator Vincent, which I think he justified, of the representations of one trade union, the Building Workers’ Industrial Union, which made representations that were completely biased and exaggerated. I am, therefore, pleased to show that another section of the trade union movement has obtained legal advice and has prepared its views on amendments to the bill which it thinks are necessary in the interests of free speech. 1 am pleased to pay tribute to the fact that this union has put forward its views so sensibly, without exaggeration and in a way which would commend itself to any member.
It is the intention of the Democratic Labour Party to vote for the second reading of this bill. We have read the proposed amendment to be moved by Senator McKenna. In effect, it suggests that the bill be withdrawn and redrafted. We think that, as the Government had, in another place, to a certain extent already withdrawn the bill or considerable sections of it and prepared amendments to it, it is rather gilding the lily to suggest that it should be withdrawn again. Our attitude is that it will probably be timesaving and more efficient to vote for the second reading and then to support amendments which we believe will improve the bill or will take out of the bill provisions with which we disagree. I intend to refer at a later stage to some of the amendments which we think are necessary.
In all the representations that we received, I was unfavorably impressed by one type. That was the form of representation which featured the attendance in King’s Hall of large bodies of people who claimed to represent all kinds of organizations without producing any evidence that they did. When I was an official of the Labour Party, it frequently happened that gentlemen walked into our office and informed us that they wished to make representations because they represented a certain union, a certain workshop, a certain factory, a shop committee or some organization. As a party, we had an v: flexible rule that we would not receive representations from any persons on a union basis unless they produced evidence from the union that they were authorized to represent that body. One day, when I was in King’s Hall, I was accosted by a person who said that he wished to make representations to me because he represented 250 workers at a certain place. I said, “ Has the union authorized you to come here and represent those persons? “ He said, “ No, it was the shop committee “. I declined to receive his representations.
I want to make it clear that I always recognize the rights of individuals or persons in a group to approach me and make representations, but I will not receive any representations from persons who claim to represent a complete union or sections of a union unless they produce to me a letter from the secretary of the union saying that they are authorized to put the union’s point of view. The Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia acted in the proper way. I received a telephone call from the office of the Victorian branch of that union to the effect that certain members of the union would be in Canberra on a particular day and that they desired to put certain representations to me. I was available on that day and I received them. They put their case courteously and I was in no doubt that they were bona fide. I think that every trade union will agree that that is the proper way hi which representations should be made on a union basis.
On one occasion, because people claimed to have come a long distance, I received persons who said that they were putting the views of a union. A day or two later, I heard from another group who said they wanted to see me in order to put the union’s views. When I returned to Melbourne, I received a telephone call to the effect that another group wanted to see me in order to put the union’s view. The union in question was the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia. I wish to make it clear that I am prepared to receive representations, but I will not receive them on the basis of approaches by two, three, four, five or six different groups. If a union wants to make representations, its federal body can appoint some person or persons to communicate with the person to whom representations are to be made and to make those representations on a proper basis. If things are not done in an orderly way, the person who receives the representations may be told by those making the representations that they are putting the views of the union, whereas in fact they may have no association with the union or may not have been authorized to represent its views. They may be a minority and they may have no power to express views on behalf of the union. 1 therefore complete my consideration of this point by saying that I hope that the trade union movement will insist that if representations are made in future they are made in an orderly manner and that the persons who make them and who claim to represent the union have with them evidence in writing that they are so authorized.
The only other thing that I want to say about the matter is that I think one would at times be more sympathetic to representations if one could feel that the trade union movement was acting as firmly as it should act in order to preserve civil rights. In the last couple of years, we have had the instance of Mr. Virgil Morgan being put off the Hobart Trades Hall Council because he happened to accept candidature for Parliament as a representative of the Australian Democratic Labour Party. I have been a delegate to a trades hall council which has always prided itself on accepting Australian Labour Party men, Liberals, Communists and anarchists - representatives of any shade of political belief - and I think that the trade unions in Hobart let the side down when they adopted the attitude that they would victimize a man because he had stood for Parliament on behalf of a party that they did not like.
We have had the case of the Hurseys, with which I shall not deal further now. We have had the case of two men in Western Australia who were deprived of office in their union because they gave out party tickets on election day on behalf of a Democratic Labour Party candidate. We have had the instance of people being suspended by the Melbourne Trades Hall Council on charges of which they were give no notice. They were not permitted to appear at the hearing at which they were charged and at which their suspension was recommended without their even knowing that they had been charged. On the occasion of the recent visit to this country of unionists from Communist China, we saw the spectacle of an attack on the right of free and peaceful picketing, which has been recognized in this country for years. I hope that the trade union movement will jealously guard the reputation that it has always had for respecting civil rights - for respecting the rights of people to disagree, and the rights of minorities.
Senator Vincent yesterday mentioned representations made by the Building Workers Industrial Union and suggested that it was somewhat remarkable that Communists came here and asked us to defend human rights. He said that Mr. Chandler, the secretary of the Victorian branch of that organization, was a Communist. I understand that that is not true now. He was, but he has since joined the Australian Labour Party. I have referred to Mr. Chandler before. He is the gentleman who some years ago rigged the ballots of his trade union to keep out people opposed to him. He did this to such an extent that the Chifley Government introduced the first legislation to provide for clean union ballots. Mr. Chandler is the same gentleman whose victimization of people opposed to him in his union caused the Chifley Government to introduce legislation to prevent the victimization of trade unionists. It could be, of course, that Mr. Chandler has now been converted to the cause of human rights. It seems most remarkable for him to be making representations to members of this Parliament against interference with the ordinary human rights of the individual.
I come now to the attitude of the Australian Democratic Labour Party to this bill. We think it is a committee bill. We do not propose to say a great deal at this stage about the views that we hold. We propose to vote for the second reading, because we believe that the bill contains provisions which are essential if the Australian laws relating to espionage and treason are to be brought up to date. But in committee we shall vote against certain clauses and we shall support certain amendments designed to ensure that freedom of speech is maintained. I do not propose to discuss at this stage the clauses about which we are concerned, except to mention a typical example. We shall certainly vote against the provision which will permit the known character of a person charged to be used against him.
– The honorable senator and his colleague may be able to change their minds during the debate.
– I do not think that we shall change our minds on that issue in the way that the Minister envisages, because we feel strongly about this provision. We think it is the kind of thing which is better out of the law. We shall support other amendments on the ground that we consider it necessary to ensure in a bill of this kind that there shall be no unnecessary interference with human rights. We realize that strong provisions are often necessary in a measure of this kind. I point out that there were very strong provisions in a similar measure introduced by the Chifley Government - the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act 1947. That act was very strongly phrased, and I believe that it was designed to meet an emergency when certain people proposed to sabotage the efforts of the Labour Government to initiate a certain defence installation. I therefore simply say that we will give our views on a number of the provisions of this bill when it rs being discussed in committee. We will strongly oppose that provision which allows an accused’s known character to be used against him.
I believe that the discussion of this bill in the press, in various organizations and elsewhere has been of great value. I have not been impressed by some of the statements that have been made. I noticed that the secretary of a branch of the Communist Party in one State plaintively said that when the Communist Party is attacked in any country, that is the first assault on democracy. For the Communist Party to suggest that it is in the vanguard of the defence of human rights is almost the ultimate stage of hypocrisy. In view of all the talk that we have heard, let me say that the great safeguard of the people against any assault upon their rights is the ballot-box. In a country where the people still have the right to turn out a government after a three-year period the people’s rights are safe. That does not mean that it is not necessary, when a measure of this nature is brought forward, for it to be scrutinized closely and carefully, nor does it mean that provisions which are not as they should be should not be attacked and that suggestions should not be made for the improvement of particular clauses. But ultimately the defence of the people’s rights rests in the hands of the people, and I believe that, while the present democratic system persists in this country, the people can be depended upon to defend their rights. Acts of parliament and constitutions are very good, but they do not ensure liberty. If one were to read the Constitution of the Soviet Union, one would see that it contains excellent provisions for the preservation of the human rights of the Russian people, but there is one thing wrong with that Constitution. It is not carried out!
I believe that the majority of the provisions of the bill are desirable and necessary. Everybody on both sides of the Senate has admitted that, but there are differences of opinion about the effect of certain clauses. There is a feeling that some clauses could be improved to make it crystal clear that no attack upon human rights is intended. We propose to approach this bill in a critical way. We will support everything that is necessary to ensure, within reason, the future security of this country. We will vote for the motion for the second reading of the bill, but we will oppose some of the clauses and we will support amendments designed to improve others. That is the attitude which the Australian Democratic Labour Party adopts to the bill.
.- It is always unpleasant to contemplate criminal legislation but, unfortunately, criminal legislation in both the State and the Federal sphere is an unpleasant necessity. If anything is necessary to underline the importance of the present approach to this matter, it is the impotence of the Federal Government, after the disclosures made by the Petrov commission, to take any criminal proceedings. That commission disclosed many facts, which, to the man in the street - to the average Australian - rather smacked of betrayal, sedition or treachery, yet, so ineffective were our laws at the time, that prosecutions could not even be launched. I congratulate the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) on the care which he has taken to ensure that the nation’s security will be maintained, without sacrificing the inalienable rights of individual liberty.
It is good to know that the Opposition concedes the necessity for some security measures. It is probably true to say that most of the clauses of the bill are not opposed by the Labour Party. In the past, the Labour Party had an honourable record in connexion with Australia’s security. In fact, it was a Labour Administration which set up our first security service, and I think that everyone in Australia is indebted to it for that. I do not think that we should be so unfair as to deny the Labour Party the credit for that action.
However, it is idle to deny that there has been much criticism of the bill. I think that that criticism falls broadly into three categories. The loudest and the most clamant critics have been the Communists, the fellow travellers, the pink professors and a whole barrage of front organizations, whose concern and solicitude for individual freedom is really touching. The pamphlet issued by the Building Workers’ Industrial Union is a real gem of humbug and hypocrisy. I remember being buttonholed in King’s Hall a few weeks ago by a lady who told me that she was a member of the Union of Australian Women - another front organization. She said to me, “ I want you to know, senator, that, as a housewife, I am worried about the Crimes Bill.” One has only to state it to show how false and hypocritical is that type of opposition to the measure. I said, “ What worries you about the Crimes Bill? Are you likely to take part in any treasonable activities against the nation “? She replied, “ Oh, no, but I think it is a terrible thing.” That was about the only reason I could get out of her for her worry.
As I have said, I think there are three classes of criticism of the measure. Not all of the criticism is hypocritical, not all of it is in the vein of humbug and not all of it was without some substance, at all events before certain amendments were made to the measure. I think there are some - I want to make it clear that there are only some - members of the Opposition who arc only too glad on many occasions to join in a unity ticket with their Communist pals, objecting to the security measures propounded by the Government.
Another class of objection to the measure comes from members of the legal profession, from certain newspaper editors, from some church bodies and from some public organizations - from people who have a genuine love of freedom and who are genuinely concerned about the maintenance of the rights of the individual. But on the facts as I see them, or as I have ascertained them, I believe that those critics have based their statements on two mistakes. First, I think there was a mistake of fact, in that they were unaware of the precise contents of the proposed legislation. Secondly, there was a mistake of law - a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of what the proposed provisions involve.
As previous speakers have said, this is a bill which calls for intensive work in committee. I do not challenge that statement, but I think that a brief reference to some of the main headings of the bill is inescapable, even at the second-reading stage. Perhaps the most dramatic statement in the bill is under the general subdivisions of clause 24, which deals with treason. Treason, bluntly, is punishable by death. Treason means the encompassing of the death of the King or an assault or an attack upon the Sovereign or upon his consort or his eldest children, or, in some subsequent English statutes, against the counsellors of the King. It was always regarded as the most heinous of crimes and was punishable by death. There are, of course, other definitions of the bill - to instigate armed invasion; to assist by any means - and those words “ by any means “ will doubtless be discussed at length before this debate is over - a public enemy. Those actions are made crimes by this legislation if they are done with intent, as I am reminded. I do not think any one in this chamber would be opposed to provisions such as that.
Proposed new section 24 (1.) (b), I might note in passing, does not appear to protect the Queen’s husband. It protects the King’s wife, but does not protect the Queen’s husband, unless the application of the Acts Interpretation Act is broad enough to cover it. I have some doubt about that, and it might be a matter for the Minister in charge of the bill to see whether that is an accidental omission from the wording of proposed new section 24 (1.) (b). I have the greatest respect for the Minister in charge of the bill, and I feel that he can reassure us on this point. As my friend, Senator Vincent, points out, Charles I. had ideas about being able to look after himself, but that scoundrel Cromwell put an end to that. “ Scoundrel “ I said, and “ scoundrel.” I mean.
– I rise to order. The honorable senator is referring to a person who was once a member of the House of Commons, and I do not think he should refer to him as a scoundrel.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! There is. no substance in the point of order.
– I am sorry if my friend takes umbrage, but I cannot withdraw that appellation as applied to Cromwell. I am not one of those who believe that history is continually repeating itself, but I do believe that even in the middle of the twentieth century we can perhaps gain some guidance - not dictation - by having a look at what the ancients thought on some of the things which we regard, in the middle of the twentieth century, as treason.
I have in my hand the Theodosian Code of ancient Rome, which deals with the question of treason. It included, of course, encompassing the death of the Emperor or Empress, the taking up of arms against the Roman Empire, or any of the things which we in modern times regard as treason. I point out that high treason, away back in the times of the Theodosian Code, was so serious a charge that even senators were not protected from it. In the course of investigations it was common, under that code, for members of the community to submit to torture so that evidence, whether given for the prosecution or for the defence, could be elucidated or brought forward. Senators were compelled to submit to torture with cords, in the case of high treason. The reason why I direct attention to that fact is that for most other crimes in the whole of the Theodosian calendar, senators were immune from prosecution; but. treason was so fundamental in the affairs of the State that senators were subject to the law just the same as any one else. In those days a slave could not accuse his master of anything but treason. If he did, he was immediately burned in the flames; but he was allowed to accuse his master of high treason, and the slave who was able to adduce evidence of high treason against his master was freed on the spot by a grateful emperor or his grateful officers. That is all’ I wish to say about Theodosius at the moment, but I think it is enough, to show that 2,000; years ago the crime which we are putting into our statute-book now in calm, dispassionate and factual legal terms was regarded with the greatest abhorrence by the early legislators.
I believe it is necessary for the comfort of those worried souls who thronged King’s Halt so recently and who were in such distress about the provisions of this legislation, that we refer to the penal code of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, so that those people who respect so much the spiritual homeland of their philosophy will be greatly relieved to know that this Crimes Bill is just like a little fairy story when compared with the treason provisions of the Soviet Union. Article 1 (1)-1 (4) of the Soviet code - I shall not read it in its entirety - states -
Treason to the fatherland, i.e., any act done by a Soviet citizen to the prejudice of the military strength of the U.S.S.R., of its independence as a state, or of the inviolability of its territory -
That is reasonable enough, and I do not think any of us would think that remarkable; but it gets a little grimmer. Treason is also -
The betrayal of any military or state secret, passing over to the enemy -
And no one could object to that - - taking flight across the frontier by air or otherwise is punishable with the supreme measure of criminal punishment - death by shooting -
And this is an interesting commentary on the way the socialists value property - - confiscation of the whole of the offender’s property - by the state. So, even the unfortunate widow is deprived of her inheritance. Article 1 (3) provides -
If a person in military employ takes flight across the frontier by air or otherwise, any member of his family who is of full age and who assists him in preparations for or in committing the treason, or who, having knowledge of it, fails to bring it to the knowledge of the authorities, is liable to deprivation of liberty for a period of from five to ten years and confiscation of the whole of his property.
Some people may justify that, but look at the final provision -
Any other member of the traitor’s family who is of full age and was living with or dependent on him at the time when the crime was committed, is liable to deprivation of electoral rights and exile to remote regions of Siberia for five years.
That is the sort of nonsense that passes for law in the country which has inspired those people who made such a tumult in our King’s Hall recently.
– Not all of them.
– The correction is well made - not all of them, but very many of them, the most vocal, the noisiest, and the most empty-headed. That is the philosophy which was driving them along.
If we pass to the provisions in the bill in regard to treachery we come to clause 24 AB (3.), which relates to character evidence and the method of proving intent or purpose when an act is done. Great criticism has been levelled at this provision, because it is not a usual provision in our legislation. Before we condemn this sort of thing out of hand, as my friend Senator McManus apparently is prepared to do, it is desirable to look at two things. Let us look, first, at the mischief or evil for meeting which the legislation is designed and, secondly, at existing law using similar provisions which appear to be working without causing injustice. It is true, I think, that in this half of the twentieth century, in dealing with the enemy, communism, we are dealing with a form of treachery with which earlier empires, kingdoms, principalities and powers had never to contend. In the past, when a man betrayed his country and went over to the enemy, he knew what he was doing. There was no question about it. He knew it and so did the whole nation. When one nation attacked another or went to war with another it was unable, except in very rare instances, to rely on a hotbed of traitors in the opposing country paralysing its industry and doing what was possible by sabotage and other forms of activity to render its military effort nugatory. Now, probably for the first time in human history, we have men such as Nunn-May, Fuchs, Pontecorvo, Maclean, and Burgess, who defect to the enemy. Whilst we have not any doubt as to what we call them and what their act amounts to, it is conceivable that they may be acting in what appears to them to be good faith. This makes this evil philosophy all the more dangerous.
Accordingly, this narrow-drafted provision deals with proof of the state of a man’s mind, and use is made of a form of words that is not customary. It is wrong to say, as most of the critics have said, that the commission of an offence is proved merely by proving a man’s character. One has only to read the words of the clause to see that that is sheer nonsense. The act has to be proved by the Crown beyond a reasonable doubt. Actual liability for the act must be established. The doing of the act is a fact which must be shown. Then, in certain circumstances, the intention of a man or woman may be proved by relevant evidence of his or her known character - not by somebody guessing at what that character is, but by sworn evidence. Relevance is a critical issue. This is a matter on which most of the genuine, sincere critics have brought their fire to bear. I dismiss the Communist criticism for what it is worth. Zelitch, in “ Soviet Administration of Criminal Law “, states -
Unlike our own system with its elaborate body of law of evidence, Soviet jurisprudence knows of no rules, worth the name, on evidence; the court is, therefore, not hampered in its attempt to elicit everything the witness may know.
The same authority goes on to state -
The witness, provided he is not the defendant, must under pain of punishment answer any question put to him by those having the right to examine, if such question tends to establish any material fact necessary for the determination of the case, including matters touching upon the character of the defendant. Irrelevancy is the only ground upon which the presiding judge, whose duty it is to direct the trial in the proper manner, may exclude certain evidence.
In other words, they just do not have a rule book, and their ideas of relevance are exemplified in Doctor Zelitch’s reference to a rape case -
In one of the trials which the writer attended, where a person was charged with rape, a number of girls had testified without any objection as to the fact that the present defendant once attempted to rape them, or had done so, though those acts were not charged against him at this particular trial.
I think that we can forget about Communist ideas of what is fair play in criminal trials.
Jus gentium is the fountain whence our own law derives. The cases determined in our own courts by impartial judges, who are steeped in respect, admiration and love for our Haw, -give -us some assistance ;on this. I refer to the case ‘Of Stirland .v. Director of Public ‘Prosecutions, which was ^decided in the -House of Lords -in 1944. I read not from the actua’l report, tout from “ Cockle’s Cases and ‘Statutes on Evidence “ at page 264-
Under the Criminal Evidence .Act, 189.8, crossexamination by the prosecution as ‘to a -prisoner’s antecedents is allowed ‘in prescribed -circumstances. Such .-antecedents may include .previous .-charges, ‘but the words “ been charged with any offence “ mean “ brought before .a criminal court,” and do not extend to accusations which have not led to a prosecution. The judge ‘has a discretion ‘to exclude questions which may be unduly prejudicial.
The prisoner ‘was accused of forgery, and ‘gave evidence ‘Of his .own ,good .character…..
It has always been the case in our ‘law, ever since a -defendant was enabled to give evidence in his own behalf, ‘that if he gave evidence of ‘his ‘own ,good character the prosecution was entitled to impugn that and to give evidence of bad character. Except in relation to certain statutory provisions, that was normally the only case in which it -was permitted. “The amplification of nhat principle in the case which “I have just cited is .interesting. .Cockle states -
The prisoner . . . gave evidence o’f His own good .character, including his .-good .record .with -a previous employer. He also called a witness to say ‘he had never been “charge’d” before. He was -then cross-examined as to -whether ‘that employer ‘had -suspected and questioned Kim ‘about a suggested ‘forgery. ‘It -was -hel’d that the question was ‘improper “and should -have been disallowed, but that no ‘miscarriage of justice -had occurred.
The actual decision Ms o’f .no interest -.in this debate.
The Court of- Criminal Appeal in England in 1955,^01’ considering the,case of Regina w Clark, -also examined the <problem.
Under the Criminal Evidence Act, 1898, an imputation on -a -witness for ‘the prosecution puts in “issue the character of the accused. To allege that -police -officers have ^ concocted a -confession by ‘the accused .’is <such an imputation, 10 ‘as ito make admissible ‘evidence df the ‘accused’s -previous convictions.
The accused and .other .men were .charged with house-breaking and larceny. A, police officer proved a -written confession -signed “by ‘the accused. ‘The witness was cross-examined to show that “the statement had been dictated by a chief inspector to ti constable, ‘that -‘it -was -untrue, ‘and ‘that the accused had signed :it ‘because .he Teas frightened. The accused -gave, evidence, to .the -same -.effect. .He was cross-examined as to .previous convictions, and was found guilty. ‘His appeal was dismissed.
The ‘ effect of the case us simply this: In the course of giving ‘his evidence the “accused made a statement. He did not say that the police were rogues, vagabonds or scoundrels. ‘He sard that they did something. If that something “is a reflection on the character of the police witnesses, it is .quite open, even in a criminal prosecution, for the accused .to ‘be asked questions in -relation to his .character. I think it is -the opinion of most lawyers that once such questions have .been .asked a heavy blow “has been struck at the .defence. The question .of evidence as to character is not quite as unknown as many experts would have us believe.
The people who .have .made the .most fuss about .the admission of evidence as to character are the -Communists. J cannot help ; but again make one or two references to the Soviet criminal code to show ,how hypocritical .are the -objections which these people .raise to .this legislation. Article .6 of the Soviet. criminal code provides - , Every act or omission is (considered socially dangerous-
That is :a euphemism If or the word crime - which is directed against the Soviet -regime, or which -.violates the .order >of things (established ;b the workers’ and; peasants’ ,authority fm .the .period of transition to a .Communist regime.
It is interesting to .note -that -under this -code the penalty for ‘cold., premeditated murder, where -the murderer :takes -.advantage :of ,the helplessness of (the .victim tor of ;the dependence of :.the ^victim -upon him - sin other words, murder with a,number of aggravating circumstances - =is ten “years” -loss of -liberty
- ‘ls ‘that in the Soviet criminal -code?
– Yes. When you come .to something really serious, such as an offence associated with .the .dislocation of the transport ‘industry “by workers, .the penalty is .death by shooting.
– Is that .in .-the . code?
– Tes. I will give the honorable senator the article numbers later.
– Y.ou have only a minute .and .a. half to go.
– J .think I am capable of watching the clock without ‘the help1 of Senator O’Flaherty: ! know that this- is- very disturbing to> some of the illusions which the honorable senator may harbour about the workers’ paradise, but in the interests- of truth- and- justice I think 1 should state these things. Article 58 (2) of the Soviet code provides that aiding in any manner whatsoever a foreign government in certain circumstances is a socially dangerous act. Notice that there is no necessity te have an– intention to- help the foreign government. In a subsequent provision - to which I shall have pleasure in referring Senator O’Flaherty - we find that the fact’ of an’ intention is expressly excluded. It does not matter what you intended; it is what you- did that matters.
– What do they do to you in that case?
-. - There are so many cases in which the penalty is death by shooting, that I lost count of them.
– Are you quoting the Russian law as a pattern, for Australia?
– I would be the last to suggest that this code should be a pattern for Australia. I am quoting it to show the arrant humbug and nonsense of so many of the critics of this legislation - not all of them, but a large proportion of them. The source from which they draw philosophical support is permeated with this sort of rubbish.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Mr. Deputy President, when the sitting was suspended I had almost concluded my remarks. Before I do so, I wish to refer to one or two points in relation to intention. As I have submitted earlier, very many of the people who object to the proof of intention, as set out in clause 24 and the following subclauses, are people who follow a criminal code in which some very interesting provisions appear. Article 10 (a) of the Soviet criminal code provides that a socially dangerous act is punishable, even if the defendant acted- carelessly; that is, if he did not foresee the results of his act although he ought to have foreseen them, or if he light-mindedly hoped to avert such consequences. I wonder what sort of uproar would have occurred in our community if the Government had drafted a provision which even: remotely.1 resembled that Soviet, provision-. Article. 47 (b) of the same code provides, that the. commission of a crime which might, have caused- harm to the. interests, of. the State or of the toilers; is- punishable, even though the crime was not specifically directed, against either the State or the toilers..
A good deal has been said on the question of a proclaimed country and the circumstances in. which the Parliament might say that a country should be proclaimed. Article 58 (1) of the same code reads -
In virtue of the international solidarity of the interests of all toilers, such acts are also considered counter-revolutionary if directed against any other toilers’ State, even if that State does not form- part of the Union of Soviet. Socialist Republics.
The bill contains certain provisions in relation to coinage. In the days of Theodosius, the punishment for crimes against the currency was death by burning. Article 59 (8)- of the Russian criminal code provides death by shooting as the punishment for people who sell currency. That puts the Russians roughly two thousand years behind the times.
Mr. Deputy President, my time has expired. I shall vote for the second reading of the bill. I hope that when the bill has passed the committee and thirdreading stages, Australia will have a security code which will give it adequate protection, without interfering with the liberty of the individual.
.- Mr.. Deputy President, the debate on this bill so far has centred upon the provisions contained- in the various proposed amendments. It has been a Roman holiday for the legal men, up to this stage. But, at the same time, not one of them has seen fit to submit to the Senate facts which would really justify the introduction of the legislation. In making that statement, I am fully aware that every country in the world has legislation to safeguard its security and that an examination of such legislation would disclose that it was drafted in anticipation of certain happenings which could possibly occur within those countries.
I wish to refer briefly to an incident which occurred in this chamber yesterday afternoon- after Senator Vincent had spoken for a solid hour, lt was only 60 minutes, Mr. Deputy President, but to many of us on this side of the chamber it seemed like 60 hours. He had us completely asphyxiated, but he went on emitting his fury. We disagreed with his being granted an extension of time solely because of absolute boredom. This is the evidence that 1 want to submit on this matter. He admitted that he did not warm up until he had been speaking for an hour. I should say that for that hour he was as cold as a corpse fresh from the Antarctic. He continued his speech and kept us totally uninterested in the debate. We are the champions of free speech. We allowed him to continue. We did not object to his being granted an extension of time just for the purpose of stopping him or preventing him from saying anything he intended to say about the Australian Labour Party or the stands it has taken at different times. We objected merely because, to use an expression of the street, we were fed up to the neck with listening to him.
Although he covered much legal ground, he failed to submit one fact which would warrant the introduction of this legislation. I know that when a government is introducing legislation of this nature it does not rely upon its own resources in the formulation of the legislation; it obtains copies of the legislation of other countries and from that legislation drafts a bill which suits its own purpose. Senator Vincent mentioned that in 1911 the United Kingdom saw fit to introduce special legislation to protect it against the disclosure of official secrets. He said that Canada copied that legislation; then New Zealand did so; and now we are copying it also. That only goes to show that the Government is more or less a copycat when it comes to introducing security legislation. It finds out what legislation exists in other countries.
Let me put the matter in its proper perspective in this way: A country’s security legislation depends, first of all, on the political situation within that country; secondly, on its geographical situation; and thirdly, on its accessibility. Those are the factors that are considered. Let us see how Australia measures up on those three matters. Australia is an island continent. Actually, we did not have any security legislation until 1914 because it was not found necessary to introduce such legislation. We have had federation since 9th July, 1900, when the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act became law. From that time right up until 1914 we got along without any security legislation at all.
– That is not true. The States had such legislation.
– They did not have security legislation such as was introduced in 1914. Of course, they had criminal codes.
– I listened to your rubbish yesterday. I was waiting for facts to be submitted this morning. I expected somebody to quote statistics and point out how many proceedings have been taken for treason in Australia. I failed to hear any information at all on that matter or other matters, particularly sabotage. I intend to say something about that matter later.
I am a member of the Australian Labour Party and I propose to say something about the performance of unionists during the last war. I happened to be in a man-power position at that time, so I know what the labour situation was throughout the Commonwealth and I know the record of the Australian labour force throughout the war.
– We know what the record is, too.
– I know, but the honorable senator should quibble afterwards, if he wishes to do so. He should not interrupt me now.
I have noted that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) complained in the other place that people did not seem to trust him when he suggested the introduction of certain legislation. He said that he had interviewed various bodies and had received deputations regarding this bill, and that he was surprised at the degree of distrust of him that had been displayed. It is probable that those deputations and other bodies would have displayed distrust of any other person who happened to hold the portfolio of AttorneyGeneral and who had introduced a measure of this kind. I suggest, Mr. President, that the people have no cause for great confidence in Sir Garfield Barwick, after the introduction of his serve-yourself divorce law. He piloted that measure through the House of Representatives and we subsequently dealt with it in this chamber. His performance in relation to the Crimes Bill does not make for confidence in him, either.
I have no doubt that this bill will be passed by the Senate and that it will become the law of the Commonwealth for a number of years, good or bad as it may be, but let us consider the rather peculiar circumstances that have surrounded it so far. I think I am correct in saying that 38 members of the House of Representatives spoke in the secondreading debate. Sir Garfield Barwick then decided to amend his bill, and he submitted 21 amendments. I do not know how the nineteen members of his own p~- party who had spoken in support of the HU ;;p to that stage felt, or whether they will be prepared to trust him in the future. In effect, he permitted them to speak in support of the bill and then said, “ It is not worth while continuing with it as it is. We shall amend it.” He proceeded to amend it in committee. What confidence can those nineteen members of his own party have in him, after he treated them in that manner? However, Mr. President, that is by the way. There are other matters that have to be considered.
We on this side of the chamber and, I have no doubt, honorable senators opposite also, believe in the rule of law. If we drive a car across an intersection against the red light, we expect to be stopped by a police officer, summoned, charged before a lower court and fined. We expect those things to happen, and we accept them. We also accept without very much demur the decisions of the courts. If I break into a warehouse, shoot a watchman and steal some goods, I can expect, if I am detected, to be arrested and charged before a lower court and later tried by a judge and jury. If I am sentenced to a term of imprisonment, I will have very little indeed to grumble about, because, once again, the whole process was a part of our rule of law. It was my party, Mr. President, which fought in the other place to have provision made for trial by a judge and jury in respect of nearly all the offences covered by this bill..
– That, of course, is completely untrue. It is a false statement.
– Very good. I shall correct it, then. Let me put it this way: In respect of sabotage involving goods worth less than £50, the proceedings may be conducted before a magistrate, but all other offences - and Sir Garfield Barwick agreed to an amendment to this effect - are indictable offences and the offender must be tried before a judge and jury. That is what we of the Labour Party stand for.
It is very easy to create an offence by introducing a bill or amending an act. By the use of words in legislation, certain actions may be turned into offences against the law. You can go further, if you wish, and provide heavy penalties for the commission of those offences. That has been done in this bill. 1 am aware that even the worst crimes are easy to commit, but because of the law-making facilities that a parliament possesses, it is also easy for it to create offences. No Australian worth his salt would commit treason, treachery or espionage, breach the official secrets provisions or commit an act of sabotage. My attitude is that a person who is guilty of espionage deserves suitable punishment, after a proper trial. I have no objection at all to that process. We on this side of the chamber do not countenance the commission of treason, treachery, espionage or sabotage by any member of the community.
I remind honorable senators that in 1940 there was an acute shortage of labour throughout the Commonwealth. Labour was scarce on the wharfs for the loading and unloading of ships, and it was necessary to send out a call for volunteers. Men were recruited from teaching staffs in the various cities, from clerical staffs, from shops and from the public service. They worked at all hours of the night on the wharfs and performed their ordinary duties during the day-time. They also worked at the week-ends. Yet, Mr. President, no whisper of complaint was heard from anyone to suggest that those men were of doubtful character. There was no suggestion that they might commit sabotage, nor was a single complaint made that sabotage had in fact been committed. So far as espionage is concerned, surely they had ample opportunity to spy on the movement on ships;, but’ again, there was no complaint from any one that, espionage had been committed.
I’ am- making: these comments; Mr. President, because L regard some of the provisions of this bill’ as an assault upon the character of the Australian working people and as a- slight: on their great performances in past years. I know of my own knowledge that during the war there was a serious shortage of. labour in essential industries. For instance, there was a shortage of manpower for munitions factories, aircraft factories, the transport industry, hospitals and food processing establishments. It was common practice to allot men and women of all ages for work in those industries and establishments. Retired tradesmen, were called back from their retirement and asked to work in factories, which they did without demur. They were glad to do so as an expression of their loyalty. Most of the trades associated with the engineering industry had to be diluted; that is to say, persons with only a very slight knowledge of engineering processes were admitted to the industry and were trained by journeymen. Fitting and turning, boilermaking, carpentry, plumbing and various other trades were diluted during the war, with the consent of the trade unions of the Commonwealth. I know that, was so, because I dealt with the problem of trade dilutees in Queensland. There was no scheme in operation whereby any one of those persons could be screened. There was no way of ascertaining whether those people were loyal Australians or not. They were admitted, simply because they were willing to undertake the work, to engineering shops that were performing work for the Commonwealth Government, shops where delicate machinery was installed. They took their places in those shops and worked in them throughout the period of the war. I want to reiterate that a suggestion was never made by any one that those men committed sabotage, although they had a full opportunity to do so because they worked under less supervision than do men at the present time.
I wish to submit further evidence of the great loyalty of the Australian working people. In 1940, the basic wage in the Commonwealth was £4 9s. a week and at the. end of- the1 war in- 1945 it: was £4 17s. a- week. That’ is, the basic wage- increased by only a- few shillings a week between 1940 and 1945j when; as I mentioned’ a while ago, there was an acute shortage- of labour in every, industry in the Commonwealth. Yet the wages of the whole of the Australian, labour force were virtually pegged throughout that period. Those men could have held the country to ransom in order to gain increases of wages. It is to their credit that they did not do so. Notwithstanding all that, the Government proposes to level at them the kind of legislation that is now before us, which makes it appear that they are a body of saboteurs, a body, of workmen who cannot be trusted.
I come now to another point. I mentioned a while ago that it is a very easy matter to insert provisions in legislation making the commission of certain things a crime. I have in mind the desirability of amending the Crimes Act by inserting a provision that a Minister of the Crown shall be guilty of a crime unless he relieves unemployment which exists in certain parts of the Commonwealth. When a Minister has the power to relieve unemployment but does not do so, I think that that is a crime with which he should1 be charged. Look at what the Government is doing at the present time. Its supporters are talking about the provisions of the legislation that is before us. I point out that the Government, by its social services legislation, is inciting disloyalty. As from 1st July, 1945, under the then social services legislation, the sum of £3 5s. a week was payable to an unemployed man, and £2 7s. 6d. a week to his wife - a total of £5 12s. 6d. a week.
– When was that?
– On 1st July, 1945. Those rates have not since been amended.
– That is wrong.
– You tell the workers that your own legislation is wrong. I am quoting it.
– The amount was £2 a week in 1945, and we increased it in 1952.
– You are thinking of something else. You are thinking of the age pension.
– You were talking, about the unemployment benefit. :j
- Senator Scott will have an opportunity when he is speaking later during the debate .on. this .bill to tell .me where he thinks I am wrong. I was pointing out ‘that it should be a crime at ‘the present ‘time for any government to pay such -a -small amount of ‘unemployment benefit. If -a person is unemployed for five or six months of the year-
– What did you say the unemployment ‘benefit was in 1945?
Senator -BENN. - The Tate of unemployment benefit was fixed fifteen ;years ago. The honorable senator .-may /make his own inquiries >in the Library.
– 1 ‘want you to ‘give me the information.
– You will get it later on.
– Senator (Benn said that an amount of £3 5s. a week was payable to an unemployed man, and £2 7s. 6d. to his wife.
– :lt .is incorrect, of course! :Senator BENN.-Senator Scott will:hav.e an opportunity later .to get up ;and prove that my statement was incorrect. I should like to know what the ‘Government intends to :do ;about ‘this matter. I know .that this Government will <not :do ;any,thing to relieve the ; plight of unemployed persons an Queensland tat the present ?time. That amounts to a criminal .act. When we took at the basic wage-
– -In Victoria and “New South Wales-
– I .remind .Senator .Scott, who is interjecting -again, ,that .this Government has .enough .trouble on its hands .in relation .to the sales tax legislation. I suggest to .him .that he should not ,go .looking for .any further trouble in that regard. I am making the point that many people in Queensland “have been unemployed for several months and they w’ill probably not get ‘work until we’ll into 1961. This Government .does not intend to “improve -their lot. Does . the Government expect that body of people .to .continue to be loyal to this country? I .contend that .certain things in this country should have been corrected - substantially corrected - before the Government brought, in any legislation o’f ‘this :kind.
Nothing .has been said by any speaker during .this debate which .satisfies me .that this legislation is warranted (at the ,-present time. >It -is completely -unwarranted at the present .time. There -are -other things - far -more .important to the welfare and the security ..of Australia - to be .corrected.
Senator -Sir : NEIL O’SULLIVAN (Queensland) :[2.435. - I shall not ‘go into great detail in relation to this bill because it .has already -.been .debated at -.considerable -length and .in ;some instances with great skill in -another .place. I intend to support the measure, -chiefly .on. the basis of the old Roman .maxim that .the security of the people - the .security .of the State - is the first .and paramount .law. It is quite obvious that .if .the institutions that guarantee our way ;of .life are attacked, our very .existence as a freedom-loving people living in a free country .is .also under attack. Therefore, .subject to the basic rule of law that .a person who .is charged with an offence has the. right to be .tried according to the rule of law .by a ..judge and jury, I am -of .the opinion that the Executive must he clothed with such authority as .it considers to be necessary in order to preserve the ,rule of law. lt .is a remarkable thing that .those who are trying to subvert the -rule of law .are the ones who appeal to the institutions which .guarantee the rule of Jaw w”hen they .feel that their nefarious activities are “being in any way impaired or restricted. If the Executive, having these powers, exercises them arbitrarily, wantonly, or cruelly, there are two great things to bear in -mind: The ‘sanction- ‘the verdict of the people- ‘at the ensuing election, ‘and the deterrent - the ‘possibility of “the people -so voting.
– And *the ^courts that administer :the law.
– -Yes. In any .issue such as -this -‘there must be :room for -bona Hide -doubts and disagreements. Some doubts might arise on emo tional grounds, some on academic -grounds, and some .because there has been a Jack of proper understanding and appreciation of what the .bill is aiming at. But -apart from these -bona fide objections, tit is a , notorious fact that the .most vocal objections .against this .measure have ‘been raised -by -the Communists. Well, ‘Mr. .-Deputy President, .to the extent that the Communists may -feel incommoded by the provisions of this bill, 1 am greatly solaced and comforted; because if this measure has the effect in any way at all of restricting, curbing or curtailing activities of those who are pledged to overthrow our way of life, and destroy our institutions in the interests of an alien country, I shall be very pleased indeed.
Just as, for the purpose of our external protection and safety, it is necessary not only for Australia, but for every freedomloving country as well, to possess a navy, an army and an air force to protect itself against outside aggression, so it is necessary for our Executive to have readily available means to protect us internally from internal subversion and treachery. There is little doubt, in my view, that the fact that our powerful friends and allies have nuclear and atomic weapons - not for the purpose of aggression but to enable them to strike a devastating retaliatory blow in the event of them being attacked - has kept the free world safe from Communist aggression. So I feel that the fact that the Executive has in its power strong measures whereby immediate, prompt and effective action can be taken against those who wish either to betray or destroy us in the interests of another country will dissuade those evil-minded people from putting their desires into effect.
The mere fact that people have firearms in their homes for their own protection does not mean that they will shoot everybody who comes within their sight; but the knowledge that a householder is efficiently armed and is capable of using the arms is likely to have a strong deterrent effect upon robbers or thieves who might be disposed to raid the house. This measure will provide the Executive with effective means not only to deter, but also to punish severely those who are out to do us ill.
There is not the slightest doubt that no innocent, well-disposed person will be prejudiced by this legislation. The only people who need fear it - and even they need fear it only under the rule of law - are those who have ill intent towards us and our interests. Under this law, it would be quite impossible for an innocent person without evil intent to be prejudiced, and I remind the Senate that evil intent is an element in any major offence described in the measure.
In conclusion I wish to refer to one or two points that have been raised by Senator Benn. He said that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) had accepted 21 amendments in another place. In my opinion, that is all to the credit of the Attorney-General. I remember the time when we were only three in Opposition and we were taunted across the chamber to this effect: “You can talk as long as you like; we have the numbers and we will take no amendments “. The amendments that were accepted by the Attorney-General in another place are not amendments that go fundamentally to the basis of the bill. They are really a spelling-out of what is inherent in the bill; more an explanation than an alteration of the fundamental provisions of the bill.
Senator Benn claimed that it was easy to drift into a crime. I do not know what Senator Benn’s capacity is in that regard, but an offence cannot be sheeted home under this bill unless there is evil and criminal intent; so nobody can drift into a crime in the context of this measure casually or carelessly. The evil intent must be there and it must be established by rule of law before a judge and jury.
– I wish to refer to some of the statements that have been made by Senator Vincent, who spoke on the bill last night. By implication, Senator Vincent accused the Australian Labour Party and its members of being Communists. He also accused us of not wanting this law or any law in respect of treason. The amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) does not mean that we believe there should be no law in respect of the crimes covered by the Commonwealth Crimes Act. What we say is that the law, as drafted, is bad and that it should be withdrawn and re-drafted to put it in a shape that will be acceptable to the Australian electorate. It is useless for the Government to suggest that the bill, as it stands, is acceptable to the electorate. No doubt any repressive measure would be acceptable to Senator Vincent, who laughs at that statement, but such measures are not acceptable to the democratic members of the Australian Labour Party. Speaking in the debate last night, Senator Vincent said -
It is astonishing to me that Australia is one of the few countries that has not an adequate law relating to treason. I should think that it is probably the only democratic country that has not an adequate law with respect to treason and offences of which treason or treasonable associations are an element . . . People have complained about the introduction of this measure.
It is true that the people have complained about the bill. When it was introduced, it was a very bad measure. The AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) has endeavoured to make it acceptable to the Australian electorate, but, even in its amended form, it is still not acceptable to the Australian Labour Party and the 2,000,000 voters that this party represents. Under the known character provisions a person may be convicted of a crime merely on the circumstances and on his known character. There is no need to prove an offence at all. Speaking last night, Senator Vincent had this to say when referring to the Building Workers’ Industrial Union of Australia - and it is very pertinent - , . the Victorian State secretary, Mr. Chandler, a notorious Communist.
I had a telegram from Mr. Chandler which I propose to read to the Senate. It is in the following terms: -
Statement made to Senate re Crimes Act that I am a Communist is a lie. I am an A.L.P member and attend A.L.P. conferences.
Judging by that telegram, people are allowed to run around the country branding other people as Communists when in fact they are not Communists. The danger is that under this bill a person may be convicted on his known character. Senator Vincent’s purpose in being here is to make laws that are equitable but instead he spends his time making untrue statements about other people.
I well remember that some ten years ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) branded certain people in this country as Communists. Subsequently he had to withdraw the list of names that he had given.
– He withdrew two names.
– He withdrew more than two. He withdrew them after seven days under pressure from the trade union movement. People are being branded and their character is being assassinated. This bill is designed to provide for conviction not for an offence but by reason of known character. About eighteen months ago the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) made a statement in this Senate about Mr. Chamberlain, secretary of the Western Australian branch of the Australian Labour Party. Senator Paltridge knew at the time that there was no substance in his allegations. I know where he got his information. Although he knew that there was no substance in his allegations, he has not yet had the decency to withdraw them. In another place the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) also branded Mr. Chamberlain as a Communist. The remarks passed by Senator Paltridge and Mr. Wentworth are recorded in “ Hansard “.
Itf we on this side of the chamber adopted the tactics used by Government supporters we could brand every honorable senator opposite as a fascist. But we do not stoop to those tactics. To convict a person by reason only of his known character is very dangerous indeed. The bill before the Senate is designed to prevent sabotage. The only people referred to in this chamber as saboteurs are the Communists. But. I remind the Senate that other people in this country are saboteurs. They have shown their fangs in the last twelve months. They are the people who caused the greatest war this world has ever known. They were fascists. Many people on the other side of the chamber were pleased to welcome the Russians who were shedding their blood to assist us in our fight against fascism. When the Russians were shedding their blood to assist our cause we called them brothers and allies. We thought they were good people. When Nazi signs and slogans were being painted on footpaths and the walls of Jewish churches in Melbourne, what was the first reaction of Mr. Menzies? He blamed the Communist Party. But the leader of the Jewish community in Melbourne corrected our Prime Minister, who hastily withdrew his allegations. Everything was blamed on the Communists.
– You prefer the Communists to the Democratic Labour Party, do you not?
– I certainly prefer them to the honorable senator. Senator Vincent said that the rule of law is preserved in this bill, but certain provisions in the bill with respect to espionage and breaches of official secrets place the onus of proof on the person charged. Sub-sections (5.) and (6.) of proposed new section 79 provide that a person shall be guilty of an indictable offence if he receives any sketch, plan, &c, knowing that it had been communicated to him -
A charge is laid and the accused person must prove his innocence. That is a complete departure from the principles of British justice. Other provisions in the bill affect the every-day lives of the people - their political and industrial lives, their freedom of speech and their right to criticize the Government and its policy. Many of their every-day acts become punishable unless they are done in good faith. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) was forced to insert the provision which safeguards people who act in good faith. But who is to be the judge of whether an act is done in good faith during a time of emotional stress? So-called subversive acts are committed as a rule during a time of emotional stress and who is to judge whether they have been done in good faith?
Another provision in the bill would appeal to the people in control of a police state. I refer to the provision that forces a wife to inform on her husband and children to inform on their parents. Is that provision consistent with our concept of British law? It certainly is consistent with fascist law. The informer was the greatest weapon Hitler had. Himmler was the man who used it.
– What has this to do with the bill?
– The honorable senator will have an opportunity to deal with this aspect of the bill during the committee stages.
One may ask why legislation of this nature is introduced at this time. Since I have been in this Senate the Government has claimed to be very proud of its record in foreign affairs, despite the fact that when Mr. Menzies spoke at the United Nations he obtained the support of only four other nations. The Government is proud of the efficiency of its security service. I do not know anything about the security service. I do not know whether it is efficient. I do not know anybody who knows whether it is efficient. It has never taken any action as a result of its efficiency.
The Government is very proud of the way in which it administers the affairs of this country, despite the fact that there is a great deal of adverse feeling towards it at the present time.
– Inspired by the Communists.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that the sales tax legislation is inspired by the Communists? What rot! The Government is proud of its record of industrial peace. It continually refers to its record. It claims that every strike that occurs is an act of sabotage or subversion instigated by some Communist-controlled union. The Government is proud of its economic policy, but nobody else is proud of it at the moment. The Government does not have the courage to go ahead with the sales tax legislation that is now before the Senate. This morning Government supporters talked about the Government measuring up to its responsibilities, but it has run for cover and has sought an adjournment of the debate on the sales tax measure.
What is the history of events leading up to the introduction of the Crimes Bill? In 1950 the Government introduced the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. But the measure was rejected by the High Court. The Government then submitted proposals to the country by way of referendum, but the people of Australia rejected them. Then we had the Petrov royal commission in 1954. Despite the fact that Senator Vincent referred extensively to the findings of that commission, I believe it was a political stunt. It kept this Government in office. In 1959 the telephone communications tapping bill was introduced - another repressive measure. When Mr. Menzies returned from overseas in 1953 he said, “ We will have war within three years “. None of those things warranted the introduction of the legislation we are now debating.
– But your party agrees that we should have some ‘legislation.
– I agree. I am not opposing proper legislation.
– You are. You are opposing any amendment of the existing legislation.
– None of the happenings to which 1 referred a moment ago warranted the introduction of legislation of this nature. But something is happening to warrant the introduction of such a measure, and one is entitled to ascertain what it is. lt seems to me that this bill has been introduced as a political stunt - as an election issue in 1961 to entrap the Australian Labour Party. But unfortunately the bill has backfired on the Government and, although we now ask for the measure to be withdrawn and redrafted, to a certain extent the Government has been forced to redraft it. But it has not redrafted the bill sufficiently. There may be another reason why this legislation has been introduced. It was not so long ago that the AttorneyGeneral was elected to the Parliament. I remind the Senate that he was the legal advocate for the Commonwealth before the High Court when the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was thrown out. It is quite logical to assume that the AttorneyGeneral is suffering from a fit of pique and that he wants to have the Communist Party dissolution legislation placed on the statutebook through the back door. They may be two reasons why this legislation has been submitted to the Parliament at this time.
– If this bill is passed, will it prevent you from having meetings on the Esplanade, in Perth?
– If the honorable senator thinks that those meetings are subversive - I have no doubt that she does - it would have that effect. This measure has been introduced ostensibly to protect democracy. But I say quite frankly that democracy and freedom are worth protecting only if in fact we have a democracy and there is freedom. If this legislation is placed on the statute-book, it is quite possible that we no longer shall have a free democracy.
Let me read to the Senate the following report of a statement that was made by the Attorney-General at the end of October during a television discussion: -
Sir Garfield said that he had expected considerable opposition from those people in the community who might like to indulge in some of the activities which the bill prescribed.
That is a clear statement from the Attorney-General to the effect that any one who opposed the legislation - at that time the original bill had not been amended; it was really bad - was a person who wanted to commit treason, treachery, sabotage or espionage, or to breach the official secrets of this country. From that statement made by the Attorney-General we get an idea of what is intended in the introduction of this legislation.
Who are the people who oppose the legislation? Let me quote the following passage from a leading article in a Sydney newspaper: -
Here are proposals that threaten a way of life built upon the blood of martyrs, and the corpses of tyrants.
Here are amendments that strike at fundamental British justice, that erode our right to stand up as proud, free people and say what we feel and think, when and where we like.
Here are clauses that have caused disquiet among all classes of people - lawyers, churchmen, unionists, writers, politicians, businessmen.
– That sounds like the “ Sydney Morning Herald “.
– It is not from the “ Sydney Morning Herald “.
– What newspaper is it?
– It is from the “Daily Mirror”. In the “Daily News” of Western Australia there has been published an article entitled “ Hitler’s Spirit in Canada “. Let us not forget that there has been an upsurge of nazism and fascism throughout the world. Such movements have been active in England, America and Australia, and there is again a neo-fascist party in Germany. On top of all that, this legislation has been introduced in Australia.
-Is the “Daily News” a Communist newspaper?
– I should think it would be one of the most reactionary papers in Australia. There is a newspaper monopoly in Western Australia. The “West Australian “ is the morning newspaper and the “ Daily News “ is the afternoon newspaper; they are owned by the one company.
The Senate can see why the Australian Labour Party is disturbed about this legislation. We propose to move a number of amendments to put the bill in a condition which we think should make it acceptable to the Australian electorate. As this measure is more suited to discussion at the committee stage, I do not propose to take up the time of the Senate any further now. I shall deal with the bill extensively at the committee stage. I emphasize that the provisions to which I have directed attention are bad. We have in this community people who are prepared to come into this chamber and assassinate the character of others without having one shred of evidence to support their remarks.
– Since this debate commenced yesterday we lave listened to a number of speeches by honorable senators, including four by senators who are legal men. The implications of treachery, disloyalty and so on have, been canvassed right back to the time of Theodosius. We have been taken back through the period of Oliver Cromwell, and there has been considerable discussion on the criminal code of the Soviet Union. I propose to say a few words only in regard to the general implications of this legislation as they appeal to the layman.
I commence by referring to the attitude of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), who has been the subject of criticism by certain honorable senators. When he was being criticized I could, not help thinking that if, having introduced the measure, he had stood pat on its provisions, if he had1 refused to listen to any criticism nf them or to take any notice of representations that had been made to him or the Government, and if he had forced the measure through both Houses of Parliament, he might well have attracted just as much criticism as he has already received.
– Would you have supported it in its original form?
– I would have supported the measure in its original form. I agree with Senator Vincent when he says that the amendments that were introduced by Sir Garfield Barwick were not changes of substance. They make the bill more explicit; they clarify a lot of doubts that were in the minds of various people about some of its provisions. Whilst it may not be good politics to introduce a measure on 8th September and not to proceed with it until towards the end of October, surely it is of the essence of democracy that it should be allowed to lie on the stocks long enough for criticism of it to crystallize, and that as a result of that criticism, the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, should be able to introduce amendments in an attempt to resolve any misgivings. So, at long last, this delicate measure which is construed by some people as affecting the rights and liberties of the people of this Commonwealth has come before the Senate.
Sir.ce Senator Benn said that Senator Vincent had not introduced one fact to support a reasonable case for this legislation to be introduced,, let me, in passing, pay a tribute to the masterly analysis of this measure by Senator Vincent in this chamber yesterday. He dealt with the bill in a way that should, be entirely convincing to any one who had any doubts about it. However, if the people of this Commonwealth, apart from those who are- subservient to, the Soviet Government, still have doubts about this legislation, surely those doubts will be resolved by the findings of the three learned judges who sat on the Petrov royal commission. These findings alone constitute a valid reason for this measure.. In quoting from the report of the Petrov commission, Senator Vincent said - . . it seems that the law of Australia is inadequate to combat espionage, particularly in time of peace.
That is the opinion of three learned judges. The report continued -
It is beyond our power and duty under the Letters Patent to make recommendations regarding alteration of the law, but it is our duty to consider the law in order to report whether there has been any unlawful communication of information or documents to Soviet agents. That is the only head of illegality with which we are concerned under the Letters Patent. . . . Espionage by that name is not an offence known to the law. Under the common law, if a person obtained a secret document from an official he could be charged only with the larceny of the paper.
I submit that that, surely, at this point of time, is a valid reason- for the introduction of legislation aimed at protecting the rights and liberties of the people of this Commonwealth. Senator Benn contended that because of the insularity of Australia and because Australia was not at war - if
Senator Benn did not add that, at least it was said by Mr. Calwell - there was no need for this legislation. Let me say this: The free world is at war. It is a different kind of war from the shooting war of 1939-45. It is a war which is more intense and more subtle than ever before. It is a war for the captivity of the minds of men or of sufficient men in any particular country to bring that country under the worst tyranny ever known to mankind. The person who does not realize that inescapable fact is simply living in a world of his own and is not looking outside it.
Conditions have changed so completely since the last war ended that it is unthinkable that the people of the Commonwealth should be unprotected against the weapons of subversion, espionage, treachery and sabotage. It is strange that there are people in this country - thank goodness that they are in the minority - who seem resolutely to turn their backs upon the very things that threaten their freedom, and -concentrate instead upon imaginary threats that they see in the efforts of this central government to arm itself with weapons adequate to protect the Commonwealth internally. Senator Cant said something about conviction on the known character of the accused. Section 78 (2.) of the act of 1914 which was introduced by the Fisher Labour Government reads as follows in relation to “ espionage and other activities “:-
On a prosecution under this section it shall not be necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of any particular act tending to show a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the Commonwealth or any part of the King’s Dominions, and, notwithstanding that no such act is proved against him, he may be convicted, if from the circumstances of the case, or his conduct, or his known character as proved, it appears that his purpose was a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the Commonwealth or any part of the King’s Dominions;
Since the Crimes Act was passed by the Fisher Labour Government, nearly 50 years ago, we have had at least three Labour Governments but they have done nothing whatever about that clause, which the Opposition now regards as being so undesirable that it should not be included in the present measure. I can go further than that: Senator Benn said to-day that this measure was an affront to the trade unions. There is an amazing similarity between his words and those which were used by the late Matthew Charlton, then Leader of the Opposition, when amendments to the act were introduced by the Brue-Page Government in 1926. Mr. Charlton moved -
That all the words after “ That “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof - “ this House is of opinion that the bill should be withdrawn, with a view to re-drafting, so as to eliminate the obnoxious clauses -
This is in 1926!- referring to industrial disputes, as such clauses associated with the Crimes Act are a unwarranted affront to the great bodies of organized labour.
I repeat, that was the view of Mr. Charlton in 1926. Senator Benn says the same thing to-day. Nothing whatever has been done by the successive Labour governments which have held office in the Commonwealth since 1926 in order to remove those “ obnoxious clauses “ from the statute-book which Labour Party spokesmen in 1926 regarded as an affront to the Australian trade union movement. They were left in the bill. Nothing was done about them.
There is an amazing similarity between the amendment moved in 1926 and the amendment which was moved in another place, and which has also been moved in this place by Senator McKenna. If, in 1926, the Labour Party regarded those particular provisions as obnoxious, as an affront to the people whom the Labour Party represents and if, after having itself been in office a number of times since 1926, the Labour Party was prepared to allow those provisions to remain on the statutebook without making any effort whatever to repeal them, surely it can be said that the attitude that the Labour Party adopted in 1926 was just so much humbug - and, I repeat, was an attitude similar to the attitude that the Labour Party is adopting to-day in regard to this present measure.
I do not propose to say much more concerning the measure, but I do think that we have to be conscious of the times in which we live. As Senator Vincent pointed out, this measure is not necessarily aimed at the Communists. It is aimed at those people - any of them - who have any subversive intent directed against the security of this Commonwealth. A lot of the criticism that has been levelled at the measure has been constructive. A lot of it has been absolutely irresponsible - criticism that cannot be substantiated in any way, shape or form. I refer to criticism such as that of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) when he said that the objective of the measure was to turn Australia into a police state. I suggest that any one who thinks along those lines - should very definitely be psycho-analysed.
– What about yourself?
– I think I would come out of that test just as well as the honorable senator would if I were submitted to it. Senator Hannan had a good deal to say about the criminal code of the Soviet about the criminal code of the Soviet Union. One need not go beyond this country to find out just how the masters of Russia treat the liberties - what we would regard as ordinary, everyday liberties - of the people of Russia.
Just a few weeks ago I was amazed by what happened at a rally at Burnie which was held in protest against this Crimes Bill. In case any honorable senator does not know it, Burnie is on the north-west coast of Tasmania. You, Mr. Acting Deputy President, have been there. At Burnie there was held a march in protest against the bill. Senator McKenna was there. He spoke for some time and made some extraordinary statements. He even went right back to 1914 in order to criticize the way in which the original legislation was introduced. He said that it had received scant consideration by the Parliament of that day, and contended that the whole of the legislation should be overhauled now. He criticized the amendments made to the legislation in 1926. But, of course, he completely ignored the fact that Labour governments - governments of his own party - had had ample opportunity since 1926 to remove a lot of the features of the legislation which he to-day - perhaps due to a conversion on his part - regards as so completely obnoxious. He delivered hrs speech and went. But after he had gone the Communists took possession of the platform. They cried aloud to high heaven about the liberty of the individual. There was a man there from Melbourne. I forget his name, but he was an organizer for the waterside workers. I think Senator McManus would know his name, but I have forgotten it. He was a member of the Communist Party, and he was on this same platform. I believe that there were present also members of the Burnie branch of the Communist Party. There were representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation among the spokesmen who fulminated about the liberties of the individual - the very same people who denied these fundamental liberties to some of the members of their own organization. I refer to the Hursey case, a case concerning men who were hounded out of their employment because they refused to pay a levy to a political party in which they did not believe. The men who did that to the Hurseys were on that platform, on that Sunday at Burnie, fulminating about the liberty of the individual. It would make one laugh. I can understand the Communists not wanting this legislation. They want to use the freedom that we enjoy in this country to undermine that very freedom, and introduce in its place what I believe to be one of the worst forms of tyranny that this world has ever known.
It is a strange commentary on human nature that these people pose as socialists. The Soviet Union dubs itself the “ Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”. By comparison, American big business pales into insignificance, because in the Soviet Union all the capitalists have been rolled into one big capitalist. The world has never seen anything like it in the way of big business - and this particular big business is also the lawmaker, the policeman, and everything else.
– And the executioner.
– Yes, and the executioner. Yet the Soviet Union calls itself the “ Union of Soviet Socialist Republics “, and the greatest weapons that Russia’s Communist masters can use against the free world are espionage, treachery and treason. They depend almost entirely upon subversive activity in order to try to overthrow the established government of any country on which they have designs. That is the world in which we live to-day. It is just beyond my comprehension that there are responsible members of this Parliament who cannot see any reason why this bill should be introduced and who cannot, in effect, see any reason why the Commonwealth should be armed with adequate power to counter the activities of such people.
– Are there such persons?
– Senator Benn said to-day that he could not see any reason why this bill should be introduced, and I think Senator Cant said the same thing. Senator Cant suggested a sinister reason. Such a suggestion is always made. A sinister reason was suggested for the introduction of the telephone communications tapping legislation. He termed that a repressive measure, but I have not heard of any one being repressed by that legislation. The average, decent Australian who wants to live his own life and be loyal to his country has nothing whatever to fear from this measure or from the telephone communications tapping measure. That is exactly the position.
I deplore much of the criticism of the bill, most of which has been ill-informed. I repeat that I find it difficult to understand how, when any attempt is made by the Government to safeguard the liberties of the people and to arm the Commonwealth with powers with which nearly every other country in the world is armed and which are already law in most of the States, some persons can see in that attempt something sinister and some encroachment upon the rights and liberties of the people. That is beyond my comprehension. I commend the Government for acting in this manner and, without any hesitation, I support the bill.
– In speaking on this measure and in supporting the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), I say at the outset that we members of the Australian Labour Party yield to none in our regard for the safety of Australia and the necessity for the government to have complete responsibility for safeguarding the interests of the country, and the machinery available to enable it to do so. That statement is borne out by the fact that, as Senator Lillico said, the original Crimes Act was introduced by a Labour government in 1914. I should like Senator Lillico to remember that at that time our federal system of government was in its infancy and Australia was on the threshhold of the First World War. I think the fact that the legislation was introduced rather hurriedly gave rise to many of its defects.
The honorable senator also criticized the Australian Labour Party because since 1926, when the amendments to the Crimes Act were introduced by the Bruce-Page Government, the leaders of the Labour Party have done nothing to correct the anomalies in the act. I remind Senator Lillico that the Labour Party was in office for only about ten or eleven of those intervening 34 years. In the first two years, the Scullin Government was engaged in the vital task of trying to remedy the Australian economic situation during the depression. Five of the remaining eight years during which the Labour Party was in office in the 1940’s were actually war years and the other three years were immediate post-war years. The Curtin Government and the Chifley Government found that their legislative plates were pretty full and they were more concerned with preserving and maintaining the very existence of the country. Although I understand some attention had been given by the Chifley Government to amendments to the Crimes Act, that Government had other much more important problems to deal with. The Labour Government’s handling of those problems made it possible for the post-war period to be successfully negotiated and the 1,000,000 people who had been in the armed forces to be successfully re-absorbed into private industry without any apparent dislocation of our national life. That was a very big undertaking.
Senator Lillico should also remember that for six of the ten or eleven years Labour governments were in office, they did not have a majority in both Houses. So, most of the time was spent in trying to get legislation accepted by the Senate when the majority of senators were of a different political colour from the majority in the lower House. I am not making those statements as excuses; I am just stating them as facts.
From hearing this measure discussed in the Senate and in another place, I think that its real target, as stressed by supporters of the Government, is the Communists. I have no leanings towards communism. I have no time for Communists. I would like to pack them all up and ship them back to Russia where they would have to work hard. I do not hold any brief for them at all. I object to anybody, who wishes to be derogatory of people on this : side of the chamber, always associating the Labour Party with communism and calling members of the Labour Party Communists just because we do not happen to agree with that person’s point of view. There is nothing as easy as smearing a person in that way. It is very easy to call a person a Communist, but no matter what he does afterwards to remove that smear, some of the dirt necessarily sticks. I should like to see embodied in the Crimes Act, if we have to have a Crimes Act, a provision making it an offence to vilify people in that way. I can think of nothing worse than being called a Communist, because it is alien to every thought I have, my religion, my upbringing and my beliefs. The people who call us Communists because we oppose some clauses of this bill are the ones who should be indicted under the bill.
When this bill was first introduced, the Prime Minister (Mfr. Menzies) and other members of the Government in another place acclaimed it as a bill par excellence which had been introduced by the very brilliant Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), who is regarded as one of the ablest exponents of the law in Australia. They accepted it in toto and no word’s were too extravagant to use to heap praise upon it. Yet, within a very short time, because of the public clamour that arose immediately the full provisions of the bill became known, the Attorney-General introduced many amendments to the measure just a week or so ago. I do not take that as a sign of weakness on the part of the AttorneyGeneral. I think it indicates strength. After due deliberation of all facets of this bill and the many amendments circulated by the Labour Party, which had1 received support from legal luminaries outside the Parliament as well as various religious and political bodies and people who generally are not well-disposed towards the Labour Party, the Attorney-General realized the furore that had been aroused by the bill. That gave him reason for thought and an opportunity to amend the bill without losing face. I do not regard the fact that he made his further amendments to the bill as a sign of weakness; I congratulate him on doing so. Although we still do not like the bill, it is a much better measure than it was when it was originally introduced in the House of Representatives.
The Government has said that the measure is an urgent one, but I think that it is rather an affront, Mr. Acting Deputy President, to bring it into the Senate at this late stage of the sittings of the Parliament. The current sessional period has already lasted for seventeen weeks. As I have said, it is an affront to the Senate to bring before it at this stage a bril of such magnitude, the discussion of which involves so much research and about the provisions of which there is so much public resentment and both reasoned and unreasoned criticism. Many people have become fed up with it and in fact do not even know whether the bill is now even substantially the same as the measure that was introduced originally. If there is the urgency that the Government suggests, the bill should have been introduced in the Senate immediately after it was first introduced in the House of Representatives, having allowed, of course, the usual time for the various parties to discuss it. Instead, it was left on the stocks for some time, and now we are having a special sitting and the debate is being rushed through at the end of the sessional period.
I think, Sir, that it would have been much more honest for the Government simply to have called this bill the Anti-Communist Bill. I do not think that anybody, on either side of the chamber, would oppose in any way protection by the Government of the ordinary security of the country. We on this side are as interested in the preservation of the security of Australia as are the supporters of the Government. That has been proved over the years. Of course, we differ in our approach to this legislation. I think that Senator Lillico really hit the nail on the head when he said that the principal enemies against whom the bill is directed are the Communists. We all know what happened when the Government introduced legislation to deal with communism about ten years ago. Some honorable senators now in the chamber were not here at that time, but I can remember quite well the night that the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was introduced in the House of Representatives. It was quite a gay little performance. The first night of a film in Hollywood could not have received more publicity or had a more gracious setting. Every microphone in the country was linked with Canberra when the initial speeches were made.
In the course of the debate that night, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) named four or five people as being Communists. I know that people often say things in the heat of debate which, on sober reflection, they would prefer not to have said and which would not have been said if they had had time to reflect. But that is not an excuse that a Prime Minister may advance. He has at his command advice from the security service, from political advisers and from other sources. Like Caesar’s wife, he must be above reproach. When he makes a statement, there is behind it all the force that his Prime Ministerial status gives it:. The Prime Minister, in naming those people as Communists, did a great deal of harm. It was not until the following day - the following week in two cases - that a retraction was made. The point is that, on the night on which his comments were made, practically every radio in Australia was tuned to Canberra. There had been a special announcement beforehand that the Prime Minister’s speech was to be made that night.
When the retraction was made, after a great deal of protest from the people concerned, from trade unions and from the Labour movement, the proceedings of the House of Representatives were not even being broadcast. Very few people knew that the retraction had been made. The persons concerned, once they had been smeared by so important a person as the Prime Minister, remained smeared in the eyes of many people because they did not know that the retraction had been made. That is the worst feature of repressive legislation. It is terribly easy to smear, but all the dry-cleaning in the world cannot remove the marks that pitch makes when it is carelessly applied.
The same comments may be made of the Petrov royal commission, Mr. Acting Deputy President. As we know, the Communist Party Dissolution Act was frustrated. It was declared unconstitutional - not by the Labour Party, but by six judges of the High Court of Australia who could not, in any sense, be described as members of the Labour Party. The people of Australia, through a referendum, declared themselves against the proposal, not because a majority of the people are Communists or have Communist sympathies, but merely because Australians as a whole prefer to have their enemies where they can see them. They do not want their enemies to be driven underground, nor do they want people to be smeared or wrongly declared to be Communists. In any event, the Communist Party Dissolution Act smacked to them of the Hitlerian practice of outlawing certain groups of people. In Hitler Germany, it will be remembered, the Jewish people were so treated, and later, religious groups were similarly treated. The people of Australia did not know that the same kind of thing might not spread to this country. I know that many people who were vigorously opposed to communism, as I am, were also opposed to the attempt to outlaw the Communist Party of Australia on that occasion.
Some years after the frustration of the Communist Party Dissolution Act, the Petrov commission was appointed to inquire into espionage. I think that it is about time that some of the facts of the establishment of that commission were made public. Here again, we saw the same kind of setting as that in which the legislation to outlaw the Communist Party had been introduced. There was almost a first-night-at-the-opera setting for the announcement of the appointment of the royal commission. I do not know whether or not you remember the occasion, Sir, but it was the first and only time in my eighteen years in the Senate that this chamber had sat during Easter week. The Parliament was recalled on the Monday before Easter. It was said that there would not be very much business to transact. The Leader of the Australian Labour Party had had for some time an engagement to attend a big function in Sydney, at which he was to be guest of honour. Suddenly, the Parliament was called together for that day. He remained in Canberra until half-past six, and not a word was spoken about the bombshell that was to be exploded at 8 o’clock. It was not until after his aircraft had left Canberra that we were told that a very important revelation was to be made at 8 o’clock that night.
Frantic efforts were made to have the announcement postponed for an hour or two until the leader of the Labour Party could return to Canberra. It was intended to charter a special plane to bring him back from Sydney. But the announcement could not be postponed. It was too important. Then, at 8 o’clock came the dramatic announcement of the defection of a member of the Russian Embassy. It was said that it had come as a great surprise to the Prime Minister and the members of his Cabinet when the man concerned had sought asylum that afternoon and had brought with him secret information which involved quite a number of important people. The members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, irrespective of party, thought that if an espionage ring were operating in Australia, every assistance should be given to prevent further activities by it. We of the Australian Labour Party do not approve of treachery, either. The party, and individual members of it, have worked and fought too hard to bring the nation through difficult times to allow it to be destroyed by a gang of saboteurs.
So, Sir, we accepted the statement made that night. It was decided to appoint a royal commission. But by morning the tensions of the previous night had begun to subside a little. It seemed to be rather a fortuitous circumstance that the disclosures should be made only a few weeks before a general election. The timing seemed to be terribly important to the Government. It seemed rather as though Saint Peter were on the side of the Liberals - I do not know whether that is so or not. In any case, as the leader of the Labour Party said that morning, the party would support the Government in its attempts to get to the heart of the matter and would also support any moves that were taken to counter treacherous activities. So the royal commission came into being.
We know what happened. The commission met for one day - the 9th May, I think it was. It had a grand opening at the Albert Hall. People were clamouring for seats; they could get in only by invitation. The red carpets were out - the scene was like that at the first night of an opera - for the opening of the great Royal Commission on Espionage. The opening addresses were delivered, in which people’s names were mentioned and quite a lot of smearing was done. Then the whole thing folded up until after the election. But the people had in their minds the idea that themembers of the Labour Party were involved in this treacherous business, and their doubts were not resolved until the royal commission really got under way some months later. That is why we feel a little bit sceptical about the whole affair. During, that time some people’s whole lives were broken. Their reputations were torn to shreds, and although subsequently they were proved innocent in the courts of law - they were acquitted of the charges made against them - these things were made public in the press of Australia. The press had a great party, a real Roman holiday, at the expense of the unfortunate people against whom allegations were made.
It came as a terrific shock to me when certain statements were made about one: woman. I had irrefutable proof that they were not true. I was able to produceevidence to show that she could not possibly be guilty of the charges made against her. But for nineteen months she suffered terrific privation, and even to this day, despite the fact that she was subsequently acquitted: by three French courts and reinstated in her post in the Diplomatic Service, there remains upon her the indelible mark caused’ by her dreadful experiences.
The Government, by this bill, will beable to charge a person without bothering, to find out whether the evidence is true. That is what we are afraid of.
– Where is the provision, in this bill for that?
– That is the whole point of our opposition to this bill. Wewant people to be given a decent trial in which all the usages of British justice areemployed. We want people who break thelaw to be prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. We do not want people who could be innocent to suffer in any way because of anti-British practices which* may be involved. Therefore, the amendment which Senator McKenna has submitted on behalf of the Labour Party–
– There is no clausethat allows anybody to be declared.
– When we get intothe committee stage, we will go into this matter, because we know that this is mainly a committee bill. I feel that the general’ tenor of the whole debate on this bill has. been such as to try to place the Labour Party in a position of disadvantage on the side of the Communists. 1 do not agree with the battalions of people who came here just to protest against the Crimes Act. They were perfectly free to do so, if they Wanted to, but I doubt whether their coming here influenced anybody’s thinking on the matter, because I think we all are sufficiently intelligent to be able to discuss this matter without having to be coerced into doing so.
– I think it is a pity that purposeful sections of the public do not come here more often.
Senator TANGNEY__ I am glad that people do come here, but I disagree with their coming as a pressure group.
– Quite so.
– I disagree with their attempting to pressurize or intimidate members of Parliament. I like to see members of the public come here, but I do not believe they should do so in order to try to force members of Parliament to make a decision one way or the other against their own judgment. I do not think that any member of this chamber Or of the other place would be coerced by such pressure groups.
The fact that so many thousands of people came here - I believe that many of them lost a day’s pay and paid their own expenses - and that the newspapers, which are very seldom on the side of the Labour Party, contained so many protests, on political, religious and other grounds, should bring home to the AttorneyGeneral the fact that this bill is not the perfect measure that he at first suggested it was. The factors I have mentioned, combined with the fact that the Labour Party’s circularized amendments were given to the Attorney-General, influenced him to amend the bill to the extent that it was amended in the other place. The measure that is now before us is very different from the bill that was originally introduced in the House of Representatives. I would have been much more satisfied if the Attorney-General had introduced the bill in the other place but left its further consideration until later. Then, at the beginning of next year the Senate could have viewed it much more dispas sionately. I do not think there is a sudden emergency which necessitates the rapid passage of this bdi. It is just twelve months since we came here and sat all day and all night, and on a Saturday as well, in order to deal with the uniform divorce bill, which was passed into law as the Matrimonial Causes Act. That measure came to us in the last few days of the sittings last year. What has happened? It has been on the stocks for twelve months. It will be proclaimed at the beginning of next year - some fourteen months after it was described as urgent business when it was before the Senate.
For the life of me, I cannot see why the Crimes Bill could not have been delayed. Better attention could have been given to it by honorable senators during the autumn sittings next year. I do not think there would have been any risk, any danger to the Sovereign, or any danger to any of our great institutions if that had been done. Furthermore, that would have assured the people that the Government did not want to hurry this legislation through the Senate. I think that the Senate has been treated cavalierly by the Government in connexion with this important measure. Therefore, I should like to register a protest that the legislation has been brought before this chamber at such a late stage of the sittings.
While I support the amendment that has been moved by Senator McKenna, I say that we agree that any government, including the Government in charge of this business, has the right and the responsibility to place sufficient laws on its statutebook to guarantee the safety and the integrity of the nation’s leaders. Where we differ is in relation to the merit of some of the amendments that are being made to the Crimes Act. I do not like the title of the bill. It is the sort of title that scares people. Although this is only a minor matter, I believe that if the measure had been called a national security bill, or something of that kind, it would have received a great deal more support from the general public. Many people do not understand the provisions of the Crimes Bill. I feel that as a. Labour government originally introduced a security measure of this kind and the Chifley Labour Government established the security service, it cannot be held that the members of the Labour Party are insensible of the security of this country. We are indeed conscious of it. Where we differ from the Government is in relation to the method by which it is to be achieved.
.- It is amazing to hear advanced during this second-reading debate on the Crimes Bill a suggestion that we should be reluctant to enact a law specifying what constitutes a crime. It is also amazing to find that there are those who associate with this bill all the prejudices and propaganda that stem from “ isms “. In the federal sphere, Parliament has a very specific but narrow jurisdiction to see to the safety of the Commonwealth Constitution, to see that there are sound laws for the security of the Commonwealth, and that there are appropriate penal laws incidental to the various powers of legislation that the Commonwealth has in respect of customs, excise, taxation and things of that sort. But there does not belong to the Commonwealth Parliament a general power to legislate in respect of crime. It is because of that fact perhaps that the idea of making a criminal code for the Commonwealth within its own particular powers seems novel to federal Parliamentarians.
In the State field, however, as the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has shown, three of the States have put their criminal laws in the form of criminal codes. In the other three States, there has existed by inheritance from England, a body of criminal law, sometimes amended by statute, that enacts for State purposes most of the things that are in the federal law. I would think that a member of this Parliament would have a poor opinion of the Government parties who prevail by majority in this Parliament, if the Government delayed any longer to strengthen suitably the criminal law that should make secure the Commonwealth Constitution and the security of the Commonwealth itself.
In my view, there are two compelling reasons why this bill has been introduced. First of all, the growth of dominion status since the original Crimes Act was passed into the statute book in 1914, has produced an entirely different conception of the Commonwealth’s duty in regard to this sort of legislation. In 1914, nobody seriously contemplated the Sovereign being present, in person, in Australia. Nobody conceded to the Commonwealth then power to legislate for treasonable activity committed outside Australia. But with the adoption of the Statute of Westminster, extra-territorial jurisdiction is acknowledged to belong to this Commonwealth, and that being the situation, the Commonwealth holds an equal status in external affairs with all the other Dominions of the British Commonwealth and even with the United Kingdom, lt now has a duty, as has been pointed out by our Attorney-General, to pass laws that will suitably protect this nation against activity taking place beyond our shores.
The other matter that makes this legislation imperative is the matter that is referred to in the report of the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia, which has become known as the Petrov commission. That commission was presided over by three of the most distinguished Supreme Court judges in Australia - Mr. Justice Owen, Mr. Justice Philp and Mr. Justice Ligertwood. The status of those three judges in the legal profession is such as to command the utmost respect. Having examined facts which had constituted a challenge to the security of the country, they went on as lawyers and judges to examine the application of the law to those facts, and they pointed out that our security legislation in their opinion was inadequate to protect the country properly against espionage and sabotage. Far from becoming excited and suspicious about the reasons for this bill at this stage, I am one of those who, like Senator McManus, bearing in mind the reminders that have gone out to the Government both from this side and from his party from time to time, have been expecting the judges’ recommendations to take the form of legislation. Hence this bill.
While on that matter may I say that 1 regret very much some of the inferences that stem from the speech of Senator Tangney this afternoon. I believe that in her references to the Royal Commission on Espionage and to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, she has conveyed a misleading impression of the analogous nature of this bill. Without examining the bill in detail as we have promised we will in committee - everybody is no doubt looking forward to that discussion - I believe that to suggest that any punishment can be imposed for an offence under the bill, except by verdict of a court, is a mistake. In the cases of major crimes, the court must be constituted by judge and jury. There is a marked distinction between that and certain provisions in the Communist Party Dissolution Bill that enabled Executive declaration to prejudice rights of employment on the part of persons declared. I think it is due to the legislature and the country, which may be interested in this, to point out that this bill distinguishes itself from the Communist Party Dissolution Bill in a marked degree. It recognizes the rule of law and provides that it shall be administered only by the courts which habitually administer our criminal law.
Reflections have been made on the Petrov commission. It is always regrettable if a person who has undergone the prejudice of a public prosecution and secured an acquittal has to suffer as a result. In my judgment, that person is entitled to be regarded as innocent; but it would be a sad state of affairs if the public prosecutor were prohibited from instituting criminal prosecutions except in cases where the jury was guaranteed to return a verdict of guilty. The processes of trial must be applied in cases where the verdict is “ guilty “ as well as in cases where the verdict is “ not guilty “. Everybody should realize that the protection that is given under Australian or British justice will ensure a fair trial for the accused under this bill as it does under the general law.
I regret, especially as it emanated from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), himself a member of the legal profession, the animadversion he made regarding the Attorney-General. He insinuated that there were deficiences in the original bill simply because the Attorney-General has been judicial enough and democratic enough to listen to and consider representations that have been made for improvement of the bill. In case of doubt he included clauses by way of amendment in order to remove any possible anxiety.
It is most heartening to find Sir Garfield Barwick, who would be entitled to expect complete acceptance of his opinion, bringing to the bills that he handles a readiness to consider the points of view of other people and to accept any reasonable proposition by way of amendment. He does not hold the fantastic belief that, because a bill comes from the Parliamentary Draftsman and is laid on the table with the collective approval of the Government and for the approval of the legislature, the perspicacity of the public cannot suggest some improvement. Last night, the Labour Party, through its leader, adopted an unctuous attitude and1 claimed that the series of amendments that it circulated on Thursday of the week before last was published by Sir Garfield Barwick on the following Saturday. The truth is that as soon as Sir Garfield Barwick returned to Australia and was apprised of various points of view he said that he had been considering those matters and would accept amendments to the bill in various respects. For some time he had been giving thoughtful consideration to amending the bill. It is ridiculous for the Opposition to seek to make some miserable point from the fact that it circulated its proposed amendments to the bill before Sir Garfield Barwick, announced his amendments. I deal with this matter only because T think that a man who acknowledges the true function of Parliament should, be presented to the public in a favorable light. Sir Garfield. Barwick has acknowledged the true function of Parliament by amending the bill in certain respects.
Honorable senators have referred to sections of the public that have taken an interest in this bill. Some sections of the public have approached the bill with disparagement and others, I regret to say, with prejudice. Although I have received deputations, I have not been troubled by anybody in King’s Hall. I regretted the conduct of some people who gathered in King’s Hall, not for the. purpose ot advancing real argument and information for the legitimate persuasion of members of Parliament, but to indulge in propaganda. There has been a most lively and creditable interest in this bill on the part of the press, members of the public contributing through, the press and otherwise, and public bodies, not disregarding the industrial movement. I received a deputation in Hobart from the Hobart branch of the Waterside Workers’ Federation. I respect the outlook of the members of that deputation who felt that this legislation, in view of the nature of the industry in which they worked, might lead to incidents in time of war. They felt that they were entitled to an assurance that the law would be justly expressed before any conduct on their part was made a criminal act. While it is important that we should have a law that is strong enough to guarantee the security of this nation and its defence against treacherous or treasonable activity, at the same time doing justice to the individual, we do not want to get back to the dictatorial days of Theodosius or the Tudors. Thank Goodness we have come a long way in the conception of treason and treasonable activity since those days. We now bring to the laws that guard the security of the nation a much more just appreciation of the way in which the individual should be tried and of the description of the offence for which he should be condemned as a traitor.
To my way of thinking the bill deals with three important crimes - treason, treachery and sabotage, lt is an appalling pity that the critics of this legislation have not recognized that the criminal codes of the States contain a provision relating to treason almost precisely the same as the provision incorporated in this bill. Dealing with treachery, a good example of Sir Garfield Barwick’s modified outlook is the fact that he has relegated the old conception of treason to the subordinate crime of treachery, which is now punishable not by death but by a term of imprisonment not exceeding fifteen years. The new conception of treason recognizes that national boundaries are losing their significance, and that national interests are merging into those of proclaimed countries, demanding respect not merely for our own Constitution and our own government but respect also for the constitution and government of such countries. Sir Garfield Barwick was sufficiently judicious to seek to have the provision in relation to proclaimed countries ratified not by the Executive but by both Houses of the Parliament. That is a recognition by the author of this legislation of the function of the Parliament in guarding the defence of this country.
I propose to refer briefly to the crime of sabotage. The wealth of material in relation to this provision of the bill challenges a most thoughtful discussion in the com mittee stage. Sabotage refers not merely to damage to an article but also to damage to an article that is in a prohibited place and used for a defence purpose. The article may be used for manufacturing apparatus of war or by the defence forces of the nation. Damage in that sense can occur in a very wide field. Doing damage in those circumstances is made a crime only if it is done for a purpose that is intended to be prejudicial to the safety and defence of the Commonwealth. The criminal purpose is the gravamen of the charge. Then, not relying upon the ordinary law, we go on to prove that criminal purpose and we add a specific provision which reads -
On a prosecution under this section it is not necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of a particular act tending to show a purpose intended to be prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth and, notwithstanding that such an act is not proved against him, he may be convicted if, from the circumstances of the case, from his conduct or from his known character as proved, it appears that his purpose was a purpose intended to be prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth.
Sir Garfield Barwick has introduced amendments which make it clear that the character there referred to must be relevant to the charge. He has introduced a provision to the effect that the judge shall reject evidence of character unless he thinks that it is evidentially fit, that it outweighs the prejudice that it would cause to the accused. Sir Garfield has introduced a provision which makes it mandatory for the presiding judge to direct the jury that the evidence of character must be considered only in relation to the purpose.
Notwithstanding that, the introduction of this provision which enables you to give evidence of a person’s known character as proved as the basis of evidence of his treacherous - I use the term “ treacherous “ for want of a better term - or criminal intent excites some thoughts. Although the provision has been copied from a United Kingdom act of 1911, and from a particular provision in our own Crimes Act of 1914, and although I understand it has been copied in Canada and New Zealand in succeeding years, as far as I know there has been no judicial discussion of the use of it. In those circumstances, these precedents of legislative adoption elsewhere should not be copied blindly by this Parliament. In my view, the Senate will do itself great credit if it probes the full use to which that provision may be put, or the abuse to which it may be subjected.
I welcome the introduction of this bill to the Senate. I hope it will be passed. I join with Senator Tangney when she says that there is no occasion for haste or for ill consideration. I have had no indication that Ihe Senate will not be given the fullest opportunity to debate it. I support the motion for the second reading of the bill.
.- I listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks of Senator Wright. I am pleased that, in his concluding remarks, he suggested that the bill should not be hurried through the Parliament but that it should receive very serious consideration. I agree entirely with that suggestion, because so far this bill has had a somewhat chequered career, lt was introduced in another place some time ago by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). I understand, Mr. Deputy President, that originally the Government had not intended that the bill should be debated before the next session in the new year, so that it might be thoroughly understood by the people. Or was the reason the fact that the Attorney-General was booked to proceed to another very important gathering, the United Nations General Assembly, where he was to be Australia’s chief spokesman? We know that there were certain developments at the United Nations which necessitated Sir Garfield being relieved of the position to which he had been assigned by the Government. Despite the assurances that had been given to the Parliament that he would be a most capable representative for Australia, it was found necessary for the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to go to New York. Sir Garfield was then relegated to the role of a back-bencher at that assembly. Although the United Nations is still in session and is dealing with very important matters, Australia’s chief spokesman and her emergency chief spokesman are now back here. So the bill appears to have been brought on somewhat sooner than was expected.
Senator Wright said that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) had suggested that the bill had been amended rather belatedly, and he took exception to what Senator McKenna had said. There is no need for me to defend Senator McKenna, because he can look after himself very well indeed. But let me say that the fears expressed about the ramifications of the bill bewildered quite a number of people in addition to those of us who sit on this side of the chamber. Sir Garfield Barwick is undoubtedly one of Australia’s leading counsel. I do not intend to dispute what Senator Wright has said about him. But the fact remains that when he returned to Australia he expressed astonishment at the fact that so many people had not accepted the bill in the form in which he had introduced it in another place. So sure was he of himself and that what he said was the last word and was beyond dispute that he was amazed to learn so many people had expressed disappointment with and had fears about the provisions contained in the measure.
Those who were afraid of the measure, and who suggested that it was badly drafted and that the Parliament should be very careful about it, included a crosssection of the whole of our Australian community. The criticism was not confined, as has been suggested by Senator Vincent and one or two others, to people who are members of the industrial movement. It was not confined to those who have been described as being Communists or fellow-travellers. The fears that were expressed existed in the minds of people who by no stretch of imagination could be described as being traitors, saboteurs, or people who would be likely to commit an offence against the Commonwealth. Those who expressed fear included eminent people - clergymen of all denominations and many lawyers who are as able to interpret and expound the law as is either Sir Garfield Barwick or Senator Wright. They were all afraid of what was written in this bill and they are still afraid of many of the clauses, even after they have been amended.
These people include newspaper editors who, by no stretch of the imagination, could be said to condone communism, sabotage or treason, or to lean towards the industrial movement when it is tempted to take industrial action. This is the atmosphere in which this measure has come before the people of Australia. Even though it has been suggested that, now that the bill has been amended in another place, it is a better bill than when it was introduced by the Attorney-General, there are still people who view it with alarm. For that reason, I agree with Senator Wright when he says that it needs further consideration.
Why is there apprehension in the industrial movement? Why have all the trade unions, whether right wing or left wing, taken exception to this Crimes Bill? It is because the clauses, as they now stand, still give great justification for apprehension. When one considers the punitive legislation which has been introduced since the advent of this Government, the trade unions are justified in fearing this measure. Under the law of this country, as interpreted by judges, for the first time in our history it is now a punishable offence for a worker, no matter what his conscience may dictate, to refuse to work on a Sunday. Right down the years it had been held that if a worker had a religious scruple against being employed on a Sunday he could refuse to work.
– Or on a Saturday if he was a Seventh Day Adventist.
– Yes. The Seventh Day Adventist would be entitled to refuse to work on a Saturday. To-day the right to refuse to work because of religious beliefs no longer exists and the man who tries to exercise it can be punished.
– What happened in court recently? Men were punished for refusing to work on a Sunday. In my long association with industry no worker was ordered to work on the Sabbath. He was asked whether he would mind coming to work. He had the choice either of attending or of refraining.
Under existing punitive legislation, if a stop-work meeting is held at the decision either of officials or of a union as a corporate body, the organization concerned can be punished. Section 30j of the Crimes Act reads as follows: -
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 Stales, 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.
– That is not in the bill before the Senate. It is in the original act.
– The GovernorGeneral has those powers.
– Under the original act.
– And he will have them under this bill. That is the sort of legislation that we have. We have a lively recollection of what has happened in the past. We have a lively recollection of how it was intended to deport certain people from this country. So, it is only natural that the industrial movement should fear the consequences of this legislation. In view of our existing law, what rights have the workers left to them other than to withhold their labour power in order to better their conditions?
– They have the conciliation commissioners and the arbitration courts.
– Yes. Conciliation commissioners and arbitration courts for the worker who sells his labour but no conciliation commissioners or arbitration courts for the employer - for the master in industry.
– Nor for the speculator.
– No. No arbitration court for those who cause the inflation about which the Government is so apprehensive. No conciliation and arbitration for the get-rich-quick people; but there is conciliation and arbitration for the worker.
– And for the employer.
– Yes. But after an employer has had to disgorge a few more shillings to his workers he does not have to go to an arbitration court or any other tribunal and ask whether he can increase his prices in order to recoup himself and rob the worker of his increase in wages. So I say that there is every reason why this bill should be very carefully analysed. The Opposition has made it clear that it supports a security act. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted;, debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 4.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 December 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1960/19601202_senate_23_s18/>.