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Wednesday, 23 November 1960


Mr JESS (La Trobe) .- The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) mentioned that people coming back from abroad have talked about the spy fever that was apparent in various parts of the world. The honorable member says that he would not like to see this imported into Australia. We could fairly ask the honorable member what it is that he does want to import into Australia at a time like the present. The honorable member went on to say that our defence forces and, 1 presume, our defence equipment, should be thrown open to the widest scrutiny by any person. That is what he said, but I do not think he intended to say that. If he had thought about it, I do not believe he would have made such a silly remark.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has frequently spoken about the Labour Opposition acting on behalf of the trade union movement in putting forward various amendments to this bill, many of which seem to have been given little thought by members of the Opposition, and about which few arguments have been presented by those members. In these matters I, in company with all other laymen, no matter on which side of the Parliament they sit. have to decide which of the opinions put forward by those who know their law should be accepted. It appears that there is a little confusion on the Labour side. Many honorable members representing Victorian electorates would have seen the television programme, " Meet the Press " last Sunday, when Mr. James Coull, secretary of the Victorian branch of the Federated Liquor Trades Union, and, I presume, a trade unionist, was interviewed.

He was asked, "Are you aware that in the Soviet Union sabotage, treason, subversion and espionage are punishable by death? ". He said that he realized that. The further question was put to him, " In the event of a government that you supported being elected in Australia, would you feel that such a penalty should be provided for those offences?". He said, " Most emphatically, yes ". He was then asked, " Why are you and your union or unionists against the imposition of these penalties at the present time?". His reply was that the capitalist governments - so-called - should not have these powers, but that when the workers united and a workers' government was in power, any one who rose against that government in any manner should receive the extreme penalty.

According to one section of the amendments moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, it is proposed that all private premises on which defence work is being carried out should be declared prohibited places. I often wonder whether he would like - I know he would not, but perhaps some members of his party would - to see signs erected at such places, saying, "Bombs here", "Suitable for bomb", or something of the sort, which would, of course, make things very easy for persons with subversive intentions. It would be quite ridiculous.

Idonot intend to bore my friend, the honorable member for Wills, by indulging in one of my reading epics, but I want to direct his attention to the report of the International Commission of Jurists on Tibet. J have heard the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and various other honorable members opposite say that it is rubbish to suggest that in these days war is not declared. Apparently he believes that the diplomats still come along in their striped pants and swallowtail coats and give a week's notice that war is going to be declared. If honorable members who hold those views would care to read this report they will discover what can happen and why the Government is taking action to ensure such things will not happen here. This is the report of the International Commission of Jurists on genocide practised by the Chinese communists in Tibet, in which the commission spoke of the taking of thousands of young children from Tibet to China, and of many other atrocities that were committed without any declaration of war ever having been made. I am prepared to see that this sort of thing does not happen to the people of Australia and that they always have the protection of the law, the judiciary and juries, and that our democratic way of life is retained.


Mr Whitlam - The honorable member wants to adopt the Chinese laws.


Mr JESS - On the contrary, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I want to see this country safe. I agree with this bill. And so does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, but he has not the courage to admit it.







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