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Thursday, 11 April 1946

Mr RANKIN (Bendigo) .- -I -direct, attention to the demand that is being made upon the relatives of servicemen who died in captivity in Malaya and Siam two years or more ago, for the return of the allotments that have been paid in the intervening period.. I have personal "knowledge of several cases of the kind. A widow whose only asset is a home is being caused a great deal .of ' mental worry. This action is most unjust, and it would be a graceful gesture if the Government were immediately to relieve the minds of these people by assuring them that they will no longer be worried. "There must be thousands of eases of the kind throughout Australia.

Recently, a Mr. Massey made a statement in regard to the quality of Australian tobacco leaf, and the Minister, in -a half-hearted reply, attempted to defend it. The Government lost a golden opportunity to establish the tobacco industry in Australia during the war. It had men appraising leaf who were associated with the British-American Tobacco Company Limited, one of the monopolies which it criticizes publicly but supports privately. These persons set out deliberately to ensure that the Australian tobacco industry would have been destroyed when the war was over. Their method was to appraise the poorer class mahogany leaf at almost the same price as the first class lemon coloured leaf which can be produced in Australia, particularly in the Gunbower district. I took a deputation to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), to whom samples of leaf were shown and drew from him the admission that it was equal to any he had seen in Australia. Experts said that it was quite suitable for the manufacture of cigarettes and even cigars. The growers were deliberately crushed out. It was impossible for them to survive when they received the same price as the man who produced mahogany leaf, because the better class leaf is a much lighter crop. The growth of mahogany leaf was encouraged because it was known that the demand was for lighter tobacco, which alone would be purchased when the wai' was over. I hope that the Government will get some men who understand the industry - not those who are associated with the British- American Tobacco Company Limited, but those who really belong to the industry and have its interests -at heart - to see whether something can be clone to place the industry on its feet before it is too late.

In this morning's press, it is reported that Senator Donald' Grant has been invited by the Government to accompany the Australian delegation to the Peace Conference, where he will act as adviser to the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt).

Mr Menzies - On matters of law I presume.

Mr RANKIN - That is not stated in the report. This news will be heard with amazement by the patriotic people of Australia.

Mr Frost - Why?

Mr RANKIN - Because of his record.

Mr Frost - What is his record?

Mr RANKIN - I shall give it. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 21st November, 1916, the following report appeared : -

At the Central Criminal Court, Sydney, the hearing was commenced of the charges of conspiracy preferred against twelve members of the I.W.W. Organization.

The .accused included Donald Grant, 27, Scotland. The indictment was that between March 1st and October 1st, 1910, they conspired, combined., confederated and agreed together maliciously to set fire to certain warehouses, store-houses, shops, &c. ; that between March 28th and August 4th, 1910, they conspired to pervert the course of justice by unlawful means to procure the release from gaol of Tom Barker before the termination nf his sentence. The third charge was one of conspiring to incite sedition.

The following is from the Sydney Morning Herald of the 24th November, 1916 :-

Frederick Philip Brown, who said he was present at a public meeting in Broken Hill, gave evidence that Grant declared he was a rebel and objected to £2 10s. a week while King George got £40,000. Grant, according to Brown, said also, ''that passing conscription is one thing and putting a gun1' on your shoulder is another. I shall never carry arms as long v.s I live. I would not shoot a capitalist, and would rather go to gaol than give my carcase to the enemy ". On 1st December, 1916. Grant, with six others, was convicted on all .three charges.

Grant, in a statement, said he may have been guilty of sedition, but he had never in any way acted in such a manner as would lead the jury to believe he had been guilty of seditious conspiracy.

I invite the House to note Grant's admission that he may have been guilty of sedition. I also invite the House to take particular notice of the remarks of Mr. Justice Pring, when sentencing the man. He said -

You are members of an association which T do not hesitate to .state, after the revelations in this case, is an association of criminals of the very worst type and a hot-bed of crime.

Yet one of the men whom the judge castigated in this way is to go to the Peace Conference as adviser to the Australian delegation. Five years later, in May, 1921, the Sydney press reported a May Day meeting held in the Sydney Domain. According to the Sydney Morning Herald -

A portion of the Union Jack was placed on the end of a pole and burned; the rest of it was torn to shreds, strewn on the ground and trampled on. Mr. Donald Grant made an appeal for funds' for the Brookfield Memorial.

On the same evening,' a meeting of socialists was held in the Sydney Town Hall, and the Sydney Morning Herald published the following reference to the incident : -

Mr. DonaldGrant, one of the released twelve I.W.W. men, referred to1 the scene in the

Domain and expressed pleasure at what had occurred.

The Daily Telegraph report described what had happened at both meetings, and went on to say -

Donald Grant declared that 00,000 Australian soldiers had died in the war. He was glad they had died. They went away to the war and died : they should have known better.

It is imperative that men who go abroad as members of Australian delegations - -

Mr Holloway - I rise to a point of order. I doubt whether we have any right to discuss the personal record of a member of the Senate.

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