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Thursday, 2 June 1949

Mr MCBRIDE (WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - They live in a dream world.

Mr RYAN - They believe that the phantasies which please them are real. They are far removed from the realities of life. The honorable member for Herbert has spoken at some length about communism, and I agree with many of the views that he has expressed. However, he has also criticized the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, and derided our promise to deal with communism when we return to office after the next election. It is well known to the whole country, if not to the honorable member himself, that we have decided to ban the Communist party. The honorable member believes that the Communist party should not be banned, because he considers that such an act would merely strengthen them. I have heard that argument many times. Some members on this side of the House hold that view, and, I have no doubt, some members of the Labour party also share that belief. I understand that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) himself is of opinion that the Communist party should not be banned. At least he has not taken any action against that organization. After having carefully considered the whole subject, I have come to the conclusion that banning the Communist party will deprive that organization of a great deal of its strength and its power to disseminate propaganda. The argument against banning the Communist party is that such an act will drive the organization underground. That view is weakened by the fact that the real leaders of the Communist party are already underground. The Communists who are the nominal leaders are not those who really matter.

Mr Fuller - Those who want to get rid of rabbits must dig them out.

Mr RYAN - They can also poison rabbits. The real leaders of the Communist party are unknown, and whether the Communist party is banned or not, those people will remain in charge of the organization.

Members of the Opposition have repeatedly attacked "the Government because it employs well known and notorious Communists. The honorable member for Herbert has pointed out, in reply, that Communists are employed in many other avenues, including industry, banks, and the Army and Navy. That is perfectly true. The object of banning the Communist party is not to deprive a human being of his means of livelihood but to prevent him from endangering the safety of this country. He should not be allowed to work in places where he is able to learn defence secrets, and to influence those people who have the conduct of important affairs here. Members of the Opposition are concerned about the employment of Communists, not in unimportant organizations, but in such concerns as the Post Office and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

Mr Burke - What about the employment of Communists in State education departments ?

Mr RYAN - We are equally opposed to the employment of Communists in schools where they may use their opportunity to inflict anti-social views on our children. However, I propose to deal with the remarks made by the honorable member for Herbert, who began his speech by defending the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell). That Minister certainly needs a great deal of defence. He is a living example of a "split personality". He is at once a "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". As "Dr. Jekyll" he administers the Department of Immigration very ably, although even his administration of that department has not been free from serious criticism. But in the main he has done a good joh in endeavouring to bring large numbers of migrants to this unpopulated country. When the Minister enters this chamber he throws off the mantle of "Dr. Jekyll" and becomes a devilish " Mr. Hyde ". During my membership of the Parliament I have taken part in a large number of debates and have listened to countless speeches, and when I listened to the contribution to the Supply debate that he made last night I felt that it would have been far better left unsaid. I have often wondered to whom I should give the prize for misstatement in the House, and I confess that I have been undecided as to whom it should be awarded. However, after listening to the Minister last night, I have no doubt whatever that the laureate should go to him. His contribution was a veritable tour de force of buffoonery, and was characterized by the grossest misstatements, not only concerning the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) but also concerning the other matters to which he referred. Take, for example, his remarks about Communism and members of the Liberal party. The Minister looked straight at members of the Opposition and accused them of having done nothing to suppress communism. In his extravagant efforts to make a case against us he referred to political events that occurred in 1928, and even so long ago as 1921. Then he proceeded to contrast our alleged inactivity with the splendid efforts to defeat communism of the Government led by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). Since the Minister chose, to refer particularly to the part played by the Prime Minister in suppressing communism, I invite honorable members to ask themselves honestly just what the Prime Minister has done to deal with the menace of communism.

After years of hesitation he was at last prodded and pushed, largely by the Opposition parties, the trade unions and other bodies, into taking some action against them. What did he do? The net result of his efforts was the prosecution of one or two Communists, not for a breach of the Commonwealth Crimes Act or for some offence connected with their attempts to disrupt industry, but for n breach of the ordinary common law of the realm by which all citizens are bound. The Minister for Information accused the Liberal party of being unwilling to attack communism. That allegation was very ably disposed of by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) in his speech last night, and it is not necessary for me to repeat his remarks. The action taken by the Liberal party to deal with the Communist menace is well known, and we have explained very clearly the action that we propose to take when our party is returned to power. I regret that the Minister is not present in the chamber at the moment because I should like him to be here while I deal with some of the absurd allegations that he made concerning the Liberal party's attitude towards socialism. Honorable members will recall that the Minister alleged that we were socialists. I say to him now : " If we are socialists why not come across the floor of the House and join us?" He would certainly find himself in better political company than be is at present. The Minister referred to certain State enterprises that are conducted by Liberal governments in some States, and he sought to establish from that fact that we were socialists. I often wonder where the honorable gentleman obtained his ideas on political thought, and just how much he understands of the principles of liberalism. His conception of Liberal policy seems to be synonymous with that which was entertained in the seventies of last century, when the Liberals of England advocated a policy of laisser-faire.

Mr Conelan - That policy pretty well characterizes the Liberal party to-day.

Mr RYAN - It is obvious that the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) is of the same state of mind as is the Minister. Apparently neither of them realizes that political thought has moved on since the 'seventies, that people generally are more enlightened to-day, and that the old conception of liberalism is about as discredited as are the socialist principles which the Australian Labour party is trying to implement to-day. If the Prime Minister and his socialist followers are capable of learning from experience - which I doubt - they ought to realize that the socialist principles which they are espousing are as outmoded as is the doctrine of laisserfaire. No honorable member on this side of the House now believes in the application of the cruder principles of laisser-faire. We believe in free enterprise, which does not exclude the operation of State enterprises, which have operated in this country for many years under both Labour and non-Labour administrations. State enterprises have been extended and will be extended still further. Enterprises such as the coal mines in South Australia and the electricity undertaking in Victoria are examples of the efficient and prosperous operation of State enterprises under nonLabour governments. However, the difference between members of the Liberal party and members of the Labour party is that the former do not want to stifle all enterprise in favour of the States, whereas the latter are most anxious to do so. Honorable members opposite are obsessed by the idea that they must bring every undertaking under the control of the State.

Mr Conelan - That is absolutely untrue.

Mr RYAN - Why, the platform of the Australian Labour party has as one of its foremost planks the nationalization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. A few days ago I read an article in a local newspaper that had been written by the prospective Labour candidate for the electorate of Deakin, in which he wrote, "I am a believer in free enterprise ". Would any sensible person in the community suggest that honorable members opposite believe in free enterprise? The difference between members of the Liberal party and those of the Australian Labour party is that we believe in free enterprise and initiative as the backbone of our economy whilst they advocate that all enterprise should be socialized. It is clear, therefore, that when the Minister for Information asserted that members of the Liberal party were socialists, he was merely indulging in buffoonery. He certainly provoked a great deal of laughter in supporters of the Government by his sallies,, although I could not perceive any real reason for amusement in many of the absurdly exaggerated statements that he made. In fact, I thought that for a Minister his conduct was unbecoming, and detracted from the dignity of the Parliament. I have referred to the Minister for Information at some length because last night I was appalled by his misstatements, to put it mildly, and the very stupid deductions that he tried to make from them. The honorable gentleman is not the only offender. During the course of this debate I have listened- to some good and reasoned speeches by honorable members opposite. I have not agreed with their remarks, but at least they have provided food for thought. However, the majority of the speeches that have been made by Government supporters were full of misstatements of what the Labour party has done. Almost every honorable member opposite who has spoken has told us of the wonderful things that the Government has done. Their remarks are reminiscent of those that were made by the Prime Minister when he talked of the " golden age ". Perhaps the right honorable gentleman is beginning to realize that the gold is really gilt, and that the gilt is beginning to wear off rapidly.

Mr Chifley -. - I am one who never loses faith in the future of this country.

Mr RYAN - The right honorable gentleman really cannot believe everything that he says. He has too much common sense for that. Surely the Government is aware of the true position in this country. When we talk to our constituents and other people, do we find happiness, contentment, and all the things that make life worth living? Wherever I go, I find nothing but a sense of frustration and ill-being. People are nervous and fearful of the present and the future. In Melbourne there is practically no gas and electricity is available only at odd moments. Housewives in Melbourne never know whether they will be able to get a tram to take them to the shops or when their milk or bread will be delivered. They freeze because they cannot heat their houses. Those are not exaggerations but statements of fact, as every one who lives in Melbourne knows. The same kind of thing is happening in Sydney, where the electricity shortage is causing unemployment. Those are the conditions that obtain in what the Government regards as a prosperous and happy country. We are reverting to the conditions that existed in the middle of last century, when people lived in houses with leaky roofs and used rooms that were badly lit because there were not proper lights to use. To-day, the roofs of many houses in Australia are leaking because the materials to repair them cannot be obtained, and during electricity black-outs makeshift lighting appliances are used. The difference between the present time and the middle of last century is that 100 years ago the highest possible level of production was being maintained, whereas to-day we arc only scratching the surface of our productive capacity. The blame for that lies largely, but not entirely, upon this Government. Figures have been produced by the Government which show that the production of timber, tiles, cement, coal, and other materials has increased. It is true that the manufacture of many articles has increased by 5 per cent, or 10 per cent., but between 1939 and a few months ago the number of persons in private employment rose from 1,325,200 to 1,S27,300. Although employment has increased by 38 per cent, and, in addition, hundreds of modern machines which are in use now were not available in 1939, the production of some articles has increased only slightly or has actually decreased. The Government has acted wrongly by not giving the people an encouragement to produce. That is not surprising, because its policy is based on the old socialist doctrine that there should be the greatest possible equality of income and that the cake should be divided among all. No thought ever has been given to increasing the size of the cake so that the people may have more to share out among them. What positive action has the Government taken to increase production? Last night I heard honorable members opposite talk of the schemes that the Government has in mind. The Snowy Mountains project is one of them. That scheme is only in the blue-print stage and will not materialize for years. I do not propose to argue now whether the scheme for the production of aluminium in Tasmania is a good or a bad one, but we are still as far from producing aluminium in Tasmania as we were four or five years ago. Such schemes may be useful ten or fifteen years hence, but we need increased production now. We require a government that will give a lead to the people. If production is to be increased, the people must have incentives and discipline. That is recognized in the United Kingdom, where the Government is more advanced socialistically than is this Government. Mr. Horner, a Communist and the general secretary of the Mineworkers Union, has made the following statement: -

Miners will not dig more coal until they are given sufficient financial enticement.

In the journal of the Amalgamated En'gineering Union, one of the largest and most influential trade unions in the world, the following statement appeared : -

We shall get increased production -when we satisfy the people generally that it is worth their while to work hard. The ordinary man needs a kick or a carrot.

This Government is providing neither kicks nor carrots. We are living on the wealth that has been accumulated over the years, and that wealth is dwindling. I fear that unless some positive action is taken, the chances of achieving real prosperity in this country will vanish.

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