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Wednesday, 27 November 1935

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) . - I support the amendment moved by my Leader (SenatorCollings). We strongly object to the provision which enables a prosecution to be launched against any person on the word of an informer. Speaking with some knowledge of the extreme schools of political thought, I contend that special legislation is not required to deal with any political organization in this country. Unless a person interrogated answers questions " truly and fully ", he is likely to be taken into custody. The word " fully " has a very wide meaning. A man may give all the information he has in his posesssion and yet the prospect may remain that he will be adjudged guilty of an offence in not telling all that his accuser, or his informer, thinks he knows. I am very pleased that paragraph b of proposed sub-section 2 will be amended. This paragraph refers to any person who without just cause "refuses or fails to furnish information required in pursuance of this section ". A man may do his utmost to give all the information he has in his posesssion and yet fail to satisfy this provision. He would again be at the mercy of his accuser. Generally speaking, this clause goes too far. Those who have taken any trouble to study the various associations connected with schools of extreme political thought know that there is no need for this legislation. It is very interesting to hear supporters of the Government say that this legislation will benefit the unions. The unions do not want it. In his innocence, one honorable senator remarked that the big unions were not against this legislation. My experience indicates to me that they are against it.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - How many unions have seen it?

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - Quite a large number. No union has asked for this legislation. I should like to know who asked for it? I do not think any honorable senator asked for it or thought it was necessary. However, supporters of the Government naturally feel inclined to support it in the belief that some day it may be very valuable, in the event of the Labour party adopting an extreme attitude on any particular issue. It may happen that the Labour party may take a firm stand on a vital political issue in the future, and under this legislation be declared an unlawful association. The whole bill is unnecessary. In any case, this proposed new section, particularly the paragraphs I have mentioned, should be re-cast.

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