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Friday, 30 October 1931

Mr BRENNAN (Batman) (AttorneyGeneral) . - Questions have been directed to me from time to time from different parts of the House on the subject of unlawful associations. I have been asked to take certain action in respect of persons alleged to be acting unlawfully, and underlying the questions has been a suggestion that the Government possesses certain latent powers which it is unwilling to exercise, but which should be exercised in the preservation of order and the suppression of disorder. Special reference has been made to two bodies, the Communist party and the New Guard.

It seems, desirable, therefore, to set out the legal position for the information of honorable members. The Crimes Act 1914-28 provides as follows - omitting those parts which are not immediately relevant to the subject under consideration : - "s.30a. - (1.) The following are hereby declared to be unlawful associations: -

(a)   any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, which by its constitution or propaganda or otherwise advocates or encourages -

(i)   . . .

(ii)   the overthrow by force or violence of the established Government of the Commonwealth or of a State or of any other civilized country or of organized government ;

(iii)   . . .

(b)   . . .(2.) Any branch or committee of an unlawful association and any institution or school conducted under the authority or apparent authority of an unlawful association shall, for the purposes of this act, be deemed to be an unlawful association."

It will be seen that these provisions describe what an unlawful association is in the eye of the law. But there is nowhere any provision of law which enables the Government by proclamation or otherwise to denounce an unlawful association as such. An unlawful association has no kind of corporate existence recognized by law by virtue of which it could be made a party to legal proceedings, apart from proceedings against an individual. Under the Unlawful Associations Act 1916-19 - a wartime measure aimed at the I.W.W. - the Governor-General had power to declare any association which advocatedor encouraged the taking or endangering of human life to be an unlawful association. This act expired six months after the end of the war. The following provisions of the Crimes Act, however, have persona) application, and may be applied to various kinds of offenders and offences in one way or another related to unlawful associations : - " 30b. Any member over eighteen years of age and any person who -occupied or acts in any office, or position in or of an unlawful association, or who acts as its representative or as a teacher in any such school is liable to imprisonment for one year.

S.   30c. Any person who by speech, or writing, advocates or encourages the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of a State, or of any other civilized country of organized government, is guilty of anoffence, and if not born in Australia liable to two years imprisonment and to deportation.

S.   30d. Persons contributing or soliciting contributions to an unlawful association are liable to six months imprisonment.

For the purposes of this section, the printer of any paper, &c., containing any solicitation of subscriptions or contributions of money or goods for an unlawful association shall be deemed to solicit contributions. 30e. No book. &c., issued by or on behalf or in the interests of an unlawful association shall be transmitted through the post or registered as a newspaper. 30f. Persons printing, selling or exposing for sale any such book are liable to six months' imprisonment. 30g. Goods and chattels of an unlawful association and books, &c., issued by or on behalf of or in the interests of an unlawful association shall be forfeited to the King."

These provisions were inserted in the Crimes Act in 1926, but no prosecutions have been launched under these powers.

There is a Communist party in Australia. It's name is The Communist Party of Australia, and it declares itself to be the Australian section of the Communist International. Article IV of the Constitution declares its objective to be as follows: -

Its purpose is the education and organization of the workers for the overthrow of the capitalist state; establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat; abolition of the capitalist system, and the development of the Communist society.

The meaning of the words " the dictatorship of the proletariat"isexpoundedin the A.B.C. of Communism, an authoritative text book, described as a popular exposition of the programme of the Communist party of Russia, by N. Bucharin, one of the acknowledged leaders of the Soviet, and E. Preobraschensky, at pages 90 and 91 in these terms -

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