Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 29 November 1944

Mr MORGAN (Reid) .-Some months ago I had occasion to refer to the construction of a building at. Bankstown by a man named Fitzpatrick, and in endeavouring to bring the matter to a head I became involved in a brush with the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman). In view of the high esteem in which I held the Minister, J regretted that incident very much; but I knew that certain influences were at work which tended to compromise him in that matter. In fact, overtures had been made to me with the object of deflecting roe from my duty in the matter, and that was followed up by threats to i ii v political future. The delay in the policing of relevant regulations embarrassed me as the representative in this Parliament of that district, because the matter had been brought to my notice by local people and members of branches of l lie Labour party; whilst the boastful attitude adopted by the individual concerned was creating the impression, which was entirely unwarranted, that he enjoyed immunity so far as the enforcement of the regulations was concerned. In consequence, a situation arose in th«> district which was intolerable to me as iti? representative in this Parliament, and also as a supporter of the Government, particularly as I had been asked to support applications for permits to build homes on behalf of persons who were living in deplorable conditions. Some of (hern were living in brick kilns, and others in fowl houses. Only this week the circumstances of a family of twelve persons living in a 14-ft. tent in the same district were brought to my notice. Honorable members will appreciate the invidious position in which I was placed in relation to this matter. The only way in which we can get people to put up with the restrictions and sacrifices imposed on them to-day owing to war conditions is by ensuring that everybody shall be treated equally under the law, and no favours extended to any individual, no matter how wealthy or privileged he may appear to he. My attitude in that matter has since been vindicated, because this individual was convicted on two counts of having committed breaches of the National Security Regulations.

But a more serious aspect than the breaking of the building regulations is the matter of the source of the materials used in the structure. I received information - I did not disclose it to the House at the time - relating to the source of certain materials. I realized that proceedings of a serious nature would probably be instituted against this individual, and I was anxious not to prejudice the case. Therefore, I handed the information to the proper authorities. I realized also that any delay would prejudice the proceedings, because certain of the property involved was movable, and evidence could be destroyed. Commonwealth authorities who are responsible for policing the building regulations, and officials of the Bankstown Council, who are charged with the supervision of building construction, may be examined regarding the source of those materials. I should like to be informed why the proceedings have been obstructed and delayed, and I trust that the Minister will fully inquire into this aspect.

The other matter has been referred to the War Expenditure Committee for inquiry, and also to the Crown Law authorities, and I understand that a report from the committee has been submitted to the Attorney-General. I have no doubt that the right honorable gentleman will act in this matter as promptly as he did in the other. Three months had elapsed before the case came before the Attorney-General, after I had submitted it to the Department of War Organization of Industry, but the right honorable gentleman, within 24 hours, instituted proceedings. I am confident that he will act just as promptly on the report of the War Expenditure Committee. However, nearly twelve months have passed since I first directed the attention of the authorities to this occurrence. I touch upon the matter this evening only because I desire to make a personal explanation about my own position. Prior to the previous proceedings, I was informed that attempts would be made to undermine me politically in my constituency. Since -the proceedings were launched, a definite campaign has been organized against me, and I feel bound to refer to it in this chamber. As a part of the campaign to undermine me, poisonous propaganda has been circulated by this individual in my electorate, and a lying and scurrilous letter signed by him has been sent to the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman), the secretary of the New South Wales Executive of the Australian Labour party, which is the governing body of the movement in New South Wales, and the secretary of the Reid Electoral Council. These letters have also circulated in this House and throughout industries in my constituency. I was not aware of what was happening until some time later, when a loyal supporter directed my attention to it. The letter imputed all kinds of motives to me, and I cannot permit it to pass unchallenged. This individual has attempted to intimidate me in the performance of my duties to my constituents and to this House, but I am not deterred by his efforts. Others are associated with this campaign because the letter itself was prepared by a skilled hand. Although this gentleman may possess sonic native shrewdness, he has not the ability to produce the phrases which occurred in the letter. Obviously, a very subtle and skilful hand is behind it. I have some idea of the identity of the author, but, as proceedings are pending, I shall not disclose it. I am handicapped to a certain degree in not being able to give the whole of the details, but I hope, at a later stage, when the proceedings have been completed, to refer to them and to the attitude of some of the persons associated with this individual in trying to obstruct the course of justice. It is an offence to aid and abet a wrongdoer, and any one doing so may be guilty of being an accessory after the fact. Some of the people who are associated with this individual in his activities, or who are trying to cover their tracks, should know better and may receive their deserts.

I must refer to one phase of the matter which greatly concerns me. Certain phrases which occur in that letter relate to material which I gave some time ago in strict confidence to security officers of the Commonwealth. That information could have been handed to this individual only by some one associated with the Security Section. That i3 a serious offence.

Mr HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - A. leakage from the Security Section?

Mr MORGAN - I exonerate the present Director of Security, because I am sure that he would not approve of the handing out of this information. Incidentally, I gave the information to the Security Service during the regime of a previous government. When the AttorneyGeneral is investigating this matter, he should seek to elicit how this individual is able to circulate a letter in the manner which I have described, and to include in it confidential matters relating to security which should not be used for political purposes. This individual stated to the press, and also in this letter, that, bo was one of my political supporters. To that assertion I give the lie direct. To my knowledge, he has never supported or financed me politically. In fact, I understood that he supported (mother organization whose activities are more in keeping with his reputation. In is 11 v event, whether he was my supporter or not, he is not immune from the law. That sort of thing does not "go down" in Australia, although it might "go down" in other countries. The Labour movement, of which I am a member, would not stand for anything of that nature. I am confident that the Attorney-General will expedite this matter which already has been long delayed, and see that the channels of justice in this country remain clear and unpolluted.

Suggest corrections