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Thursday, 22 July 1920

Mr RYAN (West Sydnev) .- After the great fight for freedom by our gallant soldiers abroad, it is strange that we should hear the Prime Minister pleading for the continuance in operation of an Act which abrogates Magna Charta and the Habeas Corpus Act, and takes away trial by jury. I cannot understand how the supporters of the Government can justify their attitude to the War Precautions Act. It was interesting to hear the reasons put. forward by the Prime Minister for 'the passing of the Act, and to hear those given by members for allowing it to pass. It is interesting, also, to know their confidence in the then head of the Government, the Honorable Andrew Fisher: But I say that no honorable member believed, when the measure was passed,, that it would continue in force for at least eighteen months after the actual conclusion of hostilities. Goodness knows how much longer it may operate if the Ministerialists and the members of the Corner party allow it to do so. Under the Act, the Government has not only the power to deport, but possesses also a general power of legislation to which, before I sit down, I shall briefly refer. But I should like, first, to draw attention, as the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Tudor) has done, to section ,2, which shows clearly and definitely that it was the intention of Parliament that the Act should remain in operation during the continuance of the state of war, and no longer. Section 2 provided that the end of the war would be indicated by the issue of a' proclamation by the GovernorGeneral in Council. The only power intended to be given to the Governor-General in Council by that sub-section was that of actually defining the time when the state of war ended, and the necessity for continuing the drastic powers that the Act conferred upon the Executive Government no longer existed. Some honorable members sitting on this side opposed the provisions of the original Act, but all honorable members of this party opposed entirely the amending Act of 1918,. which extended the War Precautions Act for a period of three months after the termination of the war, or until the 31st July, 1919, whichever date was the later. So that it cannot be said that any member sitting upon this side is responsible for the extension of the War Precautions Act, which gives the Executive the autocratic powers they are exercising to-day.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - If the amending Act had not been passed the original Act would still have been in operation.

Mr RYAN - The Minister of the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) says that even without the amending Act the state of war would continue until the GovernorGeneral in Council issued a proclamation to the effect that the war was ended. A proclamation in regard to the termination of the war with Germany has been issued. It is admitted that hostilities with Austro-Hungary have ceased, and peace with that country exists, but on a technicality that the end of the state of war with that country has not been proclaimed, the '.Government put forward the contention that they are enabled to do all the un-British things that are now being done under cover of the powers contained in the War Precautions Act. I invite the attention of honorable members and the public to the manner in * which a superior Court of the United States of America deals with the matter of deportation. I shall, state the facts of a particular case as referred to in the New Republic in order to show how the Supreme Court of that great Commonwealth of the West regards the infringement of the rights of the individual. A man named Jackson, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, one of the " reds,'' and an alien, was arrested and ordered by the Bureau of Information to be deported. But in his behalf an application was made to the Supreme Court, the protector of the Constitution, for a writ of habeas corpus. It is almost bracing to read the judgment of the Court. The Court ordered Jackson to be released, not on any ground personal to him, but 'on the broader ground that the whole method of seizure, trial, and deportation without due process violated the Constitution of the United States -of America. To the argument, supported by a passing dictum of the Supreme Court in an early case, that the constitutional guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizure do not apply to aliens, Judge Bourquin replied emphatically -

To say you shall be exposed to unreasonable searches and seizure without warrant, and deprived of the due process Congress prescribes in deportation, because you are' an alien, is to say you are an alien because so found upon evidence secured by unreasonable searches and seizure and in' proceedings without the due process Congress has prescribed - a vicious circle and a grave danger to all, citizens as well as aliens. It invokes the age-long methods of tyranny to convict by unlawful means because you are guilty, and to condemn as guilty because you are convicted by unlawful means. It is impossible that by the dictum aforesaid the Supreme Court intends to or will sanction so dangerous and tyrannical a construction of the Constitution, virtually legalizing outrageous, cruel, and horrifying raiding, mobbing, and lynching like that at bar, in which both citizen and alien are sacrificed.

The Declaration of Independence, the writings of the fathers of our country, the Revolution, the Constitution and Union - all were inspired to overthrow the like governmental tyranny. They are yet 'living, vital, potential forces to safeguard all domiciled in the country, alien as well as citizen.

The Judge made some further observations, directed not to the particular case, but to a wider audience, and they are even more illuminating than are those passages I have already read -

The alien who advocates the doctrines revealed in the case is a far less danger to this country than are the parties who, in violation of law and order, of humanity and justice, have brought him to- deportation. They are the spirit of intolerance incarnate, and the most alarming manifestation in America to-day. Thoughtful men who love this country and its institutions see more danger in' them and in their practices, and the government by hysteria that they stimulate, than in the miserable, baited "Beds" that are the ostensible occasion of them all.

Those are words that members sitting on the front Ministerial bench might we'll take to heart. Judge Bourquin practically says to those honorable gentlemen that there is a greater danger in them and their practices, and in the government of hysteria that they stimulate, than are the ostensible occasions of them all, "'the miserable baited reds." He added -

The people may confidently assume that, even an, the "reds," they, too, in time will pass, and the nation still live.

These are comments that are very proper to he read in this Chamber, because, according to this paper, they emanated from? a Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States of America when dealing with the case of a despised alien, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, and one of the "reds," who was hounded from pillar to post, and finally ordered to be deported. The case produced the truly magnificent sentiments and eloquent judgment I have read. I am sorry that I have not a longer time in which to deal with that aspect of the matter; but there is another matter which I desire to mention, and that is the manner in which the Government are using the War Precautions Act for legislative purposes. On the 7th July this year, the Government issued a new regulation which abrogates a regulation made in March, 1918, in regard to shipping. Regulation 21 of 1918 provided " that all expenditure involved in the execution of these regulations shall be defrayed out of revenue derived from the operations of the vessels controlled by the Committee, and no charge shall be made on the. Consolidated Revenue Fund in respect of that expenditure," Yet, on the' 7th July, the Government, without reference to Parliament, or without even laying the regulation on the table, legislated to repeal the old regulation, and to authorize the money that they had lost on the operation of the ships to be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Without asking honorable members to say yea or nay, they made this legislation, in order, I suppose, that the Treasurer may get the .shipping accounts past the AuditorGeneral. When the Estimates are before us, we may or may not have an opportunity of discussing the matter. Money, apparently, has been lost on the- requisitioning of ships. Although large profits have been allowed by the present Government to go into the maw of the profiteering concerns which operate the ships on our coast and overseas, are the taxpayers of this country to be asked to pay out of the Consolidated Revenue the losses incurred by the holding up of the ships during the strike? This action was taken under the War Precautions Act, that was supposed to he passed in order to save the nation in a time of great danger.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon J M Chanter - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

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