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Tuesday, 22 November 1960


Mr MENZIES (Kooyong) (Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs) .- Mr. Chairman-


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - He has been dragged into it at last.


Mr MENZIES - Not dragged in, but drawn in, because I had the very great advantage outside the chamber of hearing the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), and then, partly inside and partly outside the chamber, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). This is a provision of the bill that has attracted, I venture to say, more uninformed attack than any other provision of it. Therefore I think it proper that I should say a few words about it. T am not intervening to relieve the AttorneyGeneral.


Mr Curtin - Not much.


Mr MENZIES - The Attorney-General will never need to be relieved against attacks by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith.


Mr Curtin - Just as he did at the United Nations - and you did, too.


The CHAIRMAN - Order!


Mr MENZIES - I gather that the highly informed member for KingsfordSmith objects to my speaking. Is that so?


Mr Curtin - I do not even enjoy it.


Mr MENZIES - I just want to make it clear to other people, if not to him, that I am going to speak on this matter because I said something about it in a public speech, and what I said about it has been taken up since in another quarter, which, I regret to observe, was the Presbyterian General Assembly of Victoria.


Mr Whitlam - They are not so simple.


Mr MENZIES - Indeed, on this oces* sion they were dangerously simple. They were misled. Not having read the bill, and not having read the speech of my colleague, they were misled into accepting some of the fantasies .that have been put to the committee within the last half-hour.


Mr Ward - Everybody is not as simple-


Mr MENZIES - If you would like to hear what I have to say, that will be O.K. I just want to say this: In the bill as it stands there is a definition of an act of sabotage. An act of sabotage, let me remind the committee, means the destruction, damage or impairment, for a purpose prejudicial or intended to be prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth, of an article as denned; that is to say, the destruction of something for a purpose that has to be established.


Mr Cairns - Or impairment.


Mr MENZIES - I shall just confine myself to destruction for the purpose of simplicity. Sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 24ab says that a person who carries out an act of sabotage shall be guilty of an indictable offence. I have not heard anybody suggest that that is not right. I have not heard anybody on the Opposition side say that sabotage should not, if established, be considered a serious offence. Therefore one may assume that even members of the Opposition believe that this new statutory offence of sabotage should, if established, carry with it severe penalties.


Mr Cairns - Not your offence.


Mr MENZIES - If you do not mind, 1 just want to put my own case. I have heard you speak many times, but I still do not understand what your case is.


Mr Cairns - Don't you like interjections?


Mr MENZIES - The honorable member for Yarra would like to have all sabotage merchants let free.


Mr Ward - What rubbish!


Mr MENZIES - And we all know that to be so.


Mr Cairns - Mr. Chairman, I claim to have been grossly misrepresented by the Prime Minister.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member for Yarra may rise at the end of the Prime Minister's speech and make a personal explanation.


Mr Cairns - It was more than a misrepresentation. It was an offensive remark, and I ask for it to be withdrawn without any further messing around.


Mr Whitlam - If it is an offensive remark it should be withdrawn immediately.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! It is not an unparliamentary expression.


Mr Ward - I ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether it is permissible for a member of the Opposition, when the Prime Minister makes a reference to one of our colleagues which we regard as completely offensive, to ask for it to be withdrawn, as has been the practice in this Parliament for a very long time.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member for East Sydney cannot have it withdrawn. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) is the only one who can make that request.


Mr Cairns - I have asked quite clearly for it to be withdrawn. It is offensive, lt implies that I am on the side of saboteurs. It is completely offensive, and I ask for it to be withdrawn.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! It is not unparliamentary. The honorable member is merely canvassing my ruling.


Mr Cairns - Then what is the procedure, Mr. Chairman?


The CHAIRMAN - Order! I call the Prime Minister.


Mr Ward - Let the greatest saboteur in the country have his say, and we will have ours.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! I name the honorable member for East Sydney.


Mr L R Johnson - But he used the same expression as that used by the Prime Minister.


The CHAIRMAN - If the honorable member for East Sydney apologizes he may remain in the chamber.


Mr Ward - I do so, Mr. Chairman, and I ask you to call on the Prime Minister to withdraw his remark.


Mr Cairns - On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: You have given a ruling in relation to the honorable member for East Sydney, who made a remark that you asked him to withdraw. He used the same expression as that used by the Prime Minister in referring to me, but you have not asked the Prime Minister to withdraw.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! It was not the same remark.


Mr Stewart - I raise a point of order, Mr. Chairman. Standing Order No. 78 says -

All imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.


The CHAIRMAN - The Chair will judge, as we go along, whether particular remarks come within those categories.


Mr MENZIES - Proposed new subsection (3.) says -

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 prejudicial.

What is overlooked by the critics of the provision is that there are two things that have to be established; first, the performance of an act, which is the act of sabotage, putting all questions of intention on one side. The first thing that has to be shown is the act. Then there must be proof of the intention. This proposed subsection deals with the question whether you must prove an act which proves an intention, in addition to proving the final act.

I would have thought that this was as clear as it could be. But, so that there will be no confusion, the Attorney-General has circulated an amendment which gives to the judge at the trial the responsibility of telling the jury either that the connexion is so remote that the evidence cannot be accepted, or that the evidence is such that the jury should not attach undue weight to it. The whole point of this matter, if I may show it by a homely illustration, is this: Suppose there is a workshop in which highly secret work related to the defence of the country is being done. Suppose that it is engaged in the production of some very refined piece of machinery, some very accurate instrument which may turn out to be of tremendous importance to the safety and defence of the country. Suppose that when this fine piece of mechanism is almost completed a man working in the place goes up top and drops a heavy spanner into it, literally destroying it.


Mr Griffiths - What do you mean by dropping a spanner? You know nothing about working in a factory.


Mr MENZIES - I just give this illustration because I am speaking about this matter as a person who has an interest in the safety of Australia. Suppose that happened, and suppose that act was proved.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! The Prime Minister's time has expired.

Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) proposed -

That the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) be granted an extension of time.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We have only up to 8.50 p.m. on proposed new section 24ab. Give us an equal chance! Why take all the time the Prime Minister wants? The Prime Minister would not take the time in blackguarding other honorable members and not allow a reply. The Prime Minister would not want to take it. I am sure that he would not blackguard other honorable members and refuse them an opportunity to reply. The Prime Minister would not take the time. Are you afraid of a reply?


The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are you afraid of a reply?


The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member will be named unless he sits down.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Prime Minister: Will he exercise his time and deprive other honorable members of their opportunities?


Mr Menzies - Certainly! The Opposition has had the last two speeches. All I want is one.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are you afraid--


The CHAIRMAN - Order! I name the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Could anything be more disgraceful than the Prime Minister of Australia refusing the Opposition the right to reply!


The CHAIRMAN - Order! I have named the honorable member for EdenMonaro.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I apologize and withdraw. I apologize to the Chair.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! The question is, "That the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) be granted an extension of time ".


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Surely he will not take it.


The CHAIRMAN - I have put to the committee the question, "That the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) be granted an extension of time ". Those of that opinion say "Aye"; to the contrary "No"; I think the "Ayes" have it.

Opposition Members. - The " Noes " have it.


The CHAIRMAN - Is a division required?


Mr Whitlam - Yes.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the Prime Minister of Australia take up the time of the committee without giving an opportunity to reply to his blackguardly statements against Opposition members?


The CHAIRMAN - There are many precedents for it - with respect to other Prime Ministers, too.

Question put -

That the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) be: granted an extension of time.







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