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Thursday, 30 April 1942


Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) .- One hundred years or so ago, the people of France began a revolution in the name of " Liberty, Equality, Fraternity". Before the revolution had been in progress for more than a few years, there was no liberty left in France; and before it had gone many more years the monarchy was restored; that ended equality. As a consequence there was no fraternity left in the French nation for' several subsequent generations. We started in this war as a democracy, determined to preserve democracy above all else. The longer the war lasts, the less democratic becomes our form of government, and the less regard do we pay to the spirit and the principles of democracy.

I disagree with these regulations; 1 disagree with the whole of their construction. Unlike the right honorable member for Kooyong, I cannot .find in them anything to praise. Not only am I opposed to their form, but I shall also bc opposed to any application of them. The speeches delivered by honorable members on both sides of the House indicate that there are very few people in this Parliament who really ca(Mr. Anthony) quite openly said that there was a lot to admire in totalitarianism, and he was not ashamed, in effect, to see a democracy become totalitarian in the exercise of certain powers. If ever there was an example of unconscious humour, surely it was provided by the honorable member .saying that he wanted to preserve democracy by making the Government as powerful as is Hitler's Government.


Mr Anthony - For the prosecution of the war.


Mr CALWELL - Of course, for the prosecution of the war. That is the excuse which justifies everything. While the two governments of which the honorable member for Richmond was a member were in -power, no attempt was made to take such far-reaching powers as have been taken under Statutory Rule No. 77. It remained for a Labour government to go the absolute limit in this direction.


Mr Rankin - The Japanese are a lot nearer now than they were then.


Mr CALWELL - That ds true, but even so there is no need for the taking of such extensive powers. The. right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) told us very plainly what could be done under these regulations. So far as the outside Labour movement is concerned, and I maintain, a very close connexion with it, I have not found any section of workers prepared to defend Statutory li u le No. 77, or even to accept it. There is general hostility to it because of the traditional attitude of the Labour movement to such matters.


Mr Beck - Is not the honorable member going to vote in accordance with the wishes of his electors?


Mr CALWELL - There are some questions which only an enemy would ask, and only a fool would answer. There are other questions which only a fool would ask, and a wise man would not answer. The honorable member's question is a mixture of the two kinds. In true Asquithian fashion, I ask the honorable member to wait and see. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) expressed the fear that thu Government would, under cover of these regulations, inject some socialism into the economic structure. I give the honorable member, and any others who may be concerned, all the assurance they may need that this Government will never inject any socialism into the economic structure, nor will it do anything to disturb the existing order, except with the concurrence of the Opposition.


Mr Archie Cameron - ls the honorable member assuring me that Eddie Ward is a conservative?


Mr CALWELL - I cannot understand by what crude syllogism the honorable member arrives at the conclusion that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) is in any way conservative. The Minister has made his position very clear. He says that he will not apply Statutory Rule No. 77 to the workers. and that if it be applied to them, it will split the 1. abour movement. The Prime Minister has said that it will be applied with all the impartiality which the Leader of the Opposition could wish. As things stand nt present, there is no clash between the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Prime Minister, but the time may come when there will bc one There is no need to anticipate the clash; let us wait until it occurs. I have a pretty fair idea what will happen if the clash takes place, but I am prepared to wait. Members of the Opposition hope that the clash will occur to-morrow, or even to-night. They are trying to fan the flames of dispute in order to bring the clash about as soon as possible.

I believe that the nationalization of the coal-mines in New South Wales would provide a solution of the difficulties encountered in that State. There is a good deal that is wrong with the coal-mining industry in New South Wales. Despite various attempts to solve the difficulties, the trouble persists there. On the other hand, in the State coal-mine at Wonthaggi, there has been no stoppage for many months, and production was never higher than at present. I suggest that if all the mines in New South Wales, including that of Lithgow, were brought under the ownership and control of the Commonwealth Government, no further difficulty would be experienced.


Mr Archie Cameron - That was not the experience in connexion with the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers.

Mi-. CALWELL. - The Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, which was established by a Labour government, was sold out by an anti-Labour government to the White Star Company, of which Lord Kylsant was the head. Afterwards, he went to gaol for forging balance-sheets, and the people of Australia have never been paid for the ships. If that is the sort of deal which commends itself to the honorable member for Barker all I can say is that he is slipping.


Mr Rankin - And the maritime unions sabotaged the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers.


Mr CALWELL - It is true that there was some trouble' between the Line and the Seamens Union, and it is equally true that the then leader of the union was one Thomas Walsh. He was then a supporter of the Labour party. A little later he became one of the foundation members of the Communist party of Australia. Later still he was expelled from the Communist party, and then he became a United Australia party organizer in

New South Wales. After that he sold himself to the Japanese. With his wife he took a trip to Japan, and they have been in the pay of the Japanese Government ever since. That is the sad story of one of those who helped to sabotage the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, but that is no argument against State ownership of ships. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will establish another ship- ping line. It would be better for the primary producers in the Bendigo electorate if such a line were in operation. However, it is true that this Government will not introduce regulations to nationalize the coal-mines. Members of the Opposition may rest peacefully to-night so far as that is concerned. There will be no such thing as the nationalization of banking, or of transport, or of the munitions industry. The Government will stick to the good old cost-plus system, and we shall continue to allow the profiteer to rob us, though perhaps not quite to the ,>-ame degree as before. Nevertheless, we shall not take the profit out of the munitions industry. I recognize that nothing I can say is likely to affect the present issue. There is an overwhelming number in this House to support Statutory Rule No. 77. Despite what they say, ex-Ministers are itching to get back to power, so that they may have the administration of the regulations now under consideration. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and the right honorable member for Kooyong lacked the moral courage to introduce such regulations when they were members of the Government. They are glad that this Government brought them in, and the honorable member for Warringah has said that, once the regulations are in force, no effective control will exist over their administration. I have no doubt that he hopes to become once more Minister for the Army, or to fill some other high ministerial post. He assured me, by interjection, that when he became a Minister again, he would administer the regulations with absolute impartiality.


Mr Spender - I said that if the Opposition got into power it would exercise these powers with more impar- tiality than, has been shown by the Labour Government.


Mr CALWELL - I stand corrected, and the correction suits me very well. J hope the honorable member will administer the regulations with the same degree of impartiality as he exercised in the making of promotions in the Army when he was Minister. I trust that he will be, as impartial as when he promoted himself to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. So far as the Labour Government is concerned, a power outside this House will express itself in due course. When it does, no matter what the House may do regarding the regulations, that power inherent in the Labour movement will demand an alteration of them in order to make them more democratic.


Mr Spender - That is the real government, and the power behind the throne.


Mr CALWELL - It expresses the real wish of the Labour movement. If it were noi for the power of the Labour movement, no one on this side of the chamber would -be gracing these legislative halls. In my opinion, the regulations are most extraordinary. I have no conception of the mental processes that took place in the head of their author before they were formulated.


Mr Archie Cameron - Who was the author?


Mr CALWELL - The regulations were prepared by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), and I am certain that he drafted them in a moment of panic. No democrat in his right senses would ever forge such a weapon to be used some day, unfortunately, by the agents of reaction who now sit on the Opposition benches of this chamber. Bad as that position is, an even worse one was recently created. (Viti) the Attorney-General in Washington, no Minister seems to have any knowledge of Statutory Rule No. 77. No one is able to explain precisely what it means, or why it was drafted. So far as I am aware, no similar regulation has been promulgated in Great Britain or in any other of the Dominions. We in Australia always seem to be extraordinarily sensitive to the need for doing things that are not. done in other countries. We somerimes overreach ourselves. Perhaps the reason is that, as the Parliament is so small, it is possible for the Executive to dominate the Parliament and form an inner cabinet to dominate Cabinet itself. In that way, power is eventually concentrated in the hands of a few people. I repeat that the Menzies and Fadden Governments managed to administer the country without such wide powers, and no argument has been adduced by any speaker to controvert the contentions of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn). The burden of his complaint against the regulations was that they can have only a one-sided application. They can be used only against the workers, because property is protected by the Constitution. In that ea.se, it is useless to talk about impartial administration. The workers do not need that proof of a militaristic outlook on the part of the government to force them to toil. The Minister for Labour and National Service achieved excellent results when he visited the coal-fields, and if trouble does arise out of misunderstandings, it would be infinitely better for other Ministers, instead of sharing with one another the splendid isolation of Canberra to go to the scenes of the disputes and arrange a settlement.


Mr Rankin - Does the honorable member favour the despatch of a delegation to the Melbourne wharfs?


Mr CALWELL - At the moment the position on the Melbourne waterfront is quite satisfactory.


Mr Rankin - Because the soldiers are doing the work.


Mr CALWELL - That is not correct. Accompanied by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan), the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), I visited an American camp at Seymour and we discussed with an American General the position on the wharfs. Wie heard a good deal about the trouble that existed on the waterfront. The following day the Minister for the Army, accompanied by American officers, visited the wharfs, where he met representatives of the shipowners, unions and stevedoring companies, and plans have already been formulated to obviate a good deal of the trouble. Unfortunately, trouble has occurred, but the problem was tackled quickly and I have not the slightest doubt that ways and means will be found to prevent delay in unloading vessels which arrive in the principal port of Australia with much-needed equipment from America. 1 was conscious of my responsibility to help in order that the job might be tackled satisfactorily and expeditiously.


Mr Rankin - ls the honorable member aware that American ships sailed from Australia without a cargo of wool because the men would not work during the day?


Mr CALWELL - I am aware that a good deal of justifiable criticism was levelled, but the position is being handled in such a way that no cause for complaint will exist in future. It did not require the application of Statutory Rule No. 77 to overcome the difficulty. At no time are regulations of this kind required to rectify the matters about which there might be complaints.

The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition agreed that the regulations are necessary and desirable. Naturally, I disagree with both of them. I agree, with the honorable member for Bourke that the position should never have arisen. There was never any need for the regulations. I am rather intrigued by the attitude of honorable members opposite, if I might presume to be intrigued by anything that they do. Their friends in the Senate strenuously opposed these regulations, but in this chamber honorable members opposite speak with divers tongues, as they usually do - a. modern tower of Babel - and some of them support the regulations, whilst others quarrel about the form of them. Then again, some honorable members opposite have remained silent while wailing to =ee what happens. At the la?t moment, they will make up their minds whether they will follow the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) or the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies). As usual, the right honorable member for Kooyong will probably win.


Mr Rankin - 1 think that they are following the example of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service.


Mr CALWELL - I shall await with interest to see whom the honorable member for Bendigo will follow.

When this subject was discussed a few weeks ago on a formal motion for the adjournment of the House, the Prime Minister stated that he had received from The Labour movement authority to do what he has done, and he quoted a resolution of the special federal conference of the Australian Labour party held in June, 1940. The right honorable gentleman declared that the conference agreed that the entire resources of Australia in man-power and in materials should be placed at the disposal of the Government. I contend that the resolution did not give him any power which, by the wildest stretch -of the imagination, would justify the imposition of such regulations upon a democratic country. The relevant portion of the resolution stated -

The entire resources of Australia (which includes all productive and financial organization) to be under the control of the Commonwealth Government for national service in the urgent and adequate defence of Australia and the prosecution of the war.

The resolution did not empower Ministers to delegate authority to unnamed persons, who, in turn, may delegate authority to others. There was nothing in the resolution to suggest that power could be delegated orally or in writing at the discretion of the Minister. Now that the regulations have been hammered and smashed in this chamber and when the Labour movement outside has had an opportunity to express its views about them, I have no doubt that very vital changes will be made in them. Any changes will bc for the better, but the complete abolition of the regulations is the main desideratum.







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