Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 26 March 1957

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) .- Notwithstanding the consanguinity between the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and myself, I am bound to say to him that I believe his performance this evening was indifferent. If our common ancestor could have gazed upon his acting this evening, he would have drawn him to one side and said to him kindly, but nevertheless firmly, " Leslie, you require further practice ". For 25 minutes, the honorable member posed, postured, and gestured. He became historical, and then hysterical, and finally he became histrionic and tried to bring pathos into his argument. If I were sitting on the other side of the House, I should be ashamed to mention the word " home-ownership ". I remind the House, as I remind the country, that Mr. Dedman, the former Labour member for Corio, is on record as having said that he did not believe in home-ownership because it would only make people little capitalists. This evening, the honorable member for Parkes referred to what he described, no doubt with a profound sense of humour, as the impartial committee presided over by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). The honorable member for East Sydney, in his time, has played many roles, some of them famous, and some of them not quite so famous. The House will recall that for some years now he has been playing the role of the darling of Darlinghurst. We have previously seen him in the roles of the champion of Cairo, and the marionette of Moscow, and now we have seen him in the role of the hoopoe of housing. One can imagine how impartial the committee must have been. One can almost visualize the honorable member for East Sydney, after having listened to advice, and to evidence presented to the committee, turning to his colleagues and saying, " 1 hope to blazes that the conclusions we reached some three weeks ago will be established ".

Mr Ward - Do not spare me, skeeter.

Mr KILLEN - The poor old gentleman! When I came into this House, 1 was cautioned and told that the honorable member for East Sydney was a rather tough sort of person.

Mr Ward - The honorable member should not believe it.

Mr KILLEN - If the House will pardon an expression of quasi-levity, may I tell the honorable member that, in the Barcoo country of Queensland, he would not be regarded as respectable crow bait.

Does not the Opposition believe that the States have a clear responsibility in the matter of housing? It is all very fine to say, as the honorable member for Parkes did this evening, "I am a unificationist. I believe that all power should reside in the Commonwealth ". Under the existing federal system the States surely have responsibilities in the matter of housing. The subject of housing has been canvassed in the House for some days now, and I do not propose to weary honorable members greatly this evening by retracing the various manifestations of the housing issue that have been presented to it. However, I do appeal to the Government and to the Parliament on behalf of Queensland. The honorable member for Parkes said that representatives of the building industry came to Canberra and endeavoured to obtain finance in order to avoid the dismissal of approximately 400 men.

Mr Curtin - At their own expense.

Mr KILLEN - They came here at union expense. There may be a subtle difference, and 1 think it is certainly a significant one. I appeal to the Government this evening to make £300,000 available to Queensland, not for the sake of the Queensland Government, but for the sake of the 400 men concerned. I make that appeal on the understanding that the allocation be contingent on the Queensland Government's agreeing to the appointment of a royal commission to investigate all the affairs arid methods of the Queensland Housing Commission.

I make six charges against the Queensland Government concerning housing. I charge it, first, with bungling in its budgeting. I charge it, secondly, with gross carelessness, and, thirdly, with inefficiency in administration. My colleague, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight), has for some time been trying to establish publicly the existence of that inefficiency.

Mr Bryant - The honorable member cannot even add up.

Mr KILLEN - I am coming to the remaining three charges. I might say that I added the honorable member up five minutes after 1 first saw him. The honorable member for Lilley has been endeavouring to condition public opinion and public responsibility to the shocking state of affairs concerning the Zillmere housing scheme.' If any one wants evidence of inefficiency in administration, he has only to examine the shocking state of affairs there to find an abundance of it.

My fourth charge is that successive Labour governments in Queensland have consistently opposed co-operative housing. My fifth charge is that the Queensland Government very definitely favours State landlordism. It believes in the socialist concept that by controlling rental homes the government is able to control the people who live in them. My sixth and final charge, which is directly linked with the fifth charge, is that there is every reason to. believe that a substantial element of political intimidation has been evident in the administration of the Queensland Housing Commission. The attitude of State Labour governments throughout Australia is on this occasion exemplified in the matter of housing. They are opposed to the acceptance of responsibility. They are only too willing to accept power, but on every possible occasion they divest themselves of responsibility.

That brings me to a matter that was mentioned this evening, I thought quite charitably, by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who is Leader of the House. He referred to the fact that a censure motion presupposes the possibility that those presenting it will become the government. Disturbing and grisly as the fact may be, members of the Opposition - all of them, not only the few who are now in the House - are Her Majesty's alternative government. That is a most disturbing fact, but it must be faced.

Mr Ward - Put some ginger into it!

Mr KILLEN - I shall put more than ginger into the honorable member by the time I finish this evening. The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), who appears to be taking some interest in my remarks, intrigues me greatly. I understand that on one occasion he presented the appearance of one about to commit apostasy, and I have even heard it said that he is something in the nature of an apostolic character. He may be an Iscariotorian but I think that is unkind to Judas, who at least had the intestinal fortitude to go out and hang himself. On the other side of the House, believe it or not, sits Her Majesty's alternative government.

As the Minister for Labour and National Service pointed out, the various fragments, sections and segments of the Australian Labour party decided at the Brisbane conference to present to the people of Australia a new product, which was in fact only an ostensibly new product dressed up in a fresh wrapping, lt is called democratic socialism. I cannot this evening canvass all the aspects of democratic socialism, but I certainly propose to canvass one or two that I believe warrant it. I invite the honorable member for East Sydney to give some thought to this, if he is capable of giving objective thought to any one other than himself. What do Opposition members mean by socialism? What do they mean by the establishment of a socialist society? Do they agree with Professor

G.   D. H. Cole's statement? In "Problems of a Socialist Government ", he wrote -

Socialism involves the complete transference of all major industrial operations to public ownership and socialist control.

In other words, socialism is not a question of nationalizing a few specially selected industries, but of changing the entire basis on which industry as a whole is conducted at present. That was written by one of the leading advocates of socialism living to-day, Professor G. D. H. Cole. Does the honorable member for East Sydney agree with these words of Mr. Herbert Morrison in " Dare We Look Ahead "?

The aim of socialism would be to touch that basis of society, to alter it, to revolutionise it by subscribing public collective ownership not merely for economic undertakings here and there but extending the principle of public ownership to land and economic undertakings to such a point that the nation is in all essentials the master, the director of the means whereby the nation lives.

Does the honorable member for East Sydney agree with that?

Mr Ward - You have distorted it. Quote it correctly.

Mr KILLEN - Do honorable members opposite agree with the view expressed by Mr. E. F. Wise, in " Problems of a Socialist Government ", which I should imagine in the normal course of events would have been encountered by every student of socialism and every person on a nodding acquaintance with socialist practices?

Mr. Wise,wrote ;

The first objective of a socialist government, as soon as it attains office, should be the capture of administrative and economic power. Wilh this in view it should proceed methodically and rapidly to eliminate private ownership from the leading industries and services of the country. And it should transfer them to communal ownership in such a manner that there can be no return to private ownership. It must be made impossible for any succeeding government by mere repeal of legislation or other means ever to attempt to reconstruct the capitalist system. We must make such an omelette that it is impossible for the eggs to get back into their shells.

This House, and indeed the country, will be familiar with that metaphor, because the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) who is deputy Leader of the Opposition has, on one of two occasions, referred to scrambling eggs. The dominant characteristic of a socialist society is the fact that the state is in supreme control. Every form of economic activity conducted within the state and every form of social activity conducted within the state are subject to state control and to state direction. For example, -does the honorable member for East Sydney not agree that the direction of labour is an essential characteristic in a socialistic society?

Mr Ward - J do not agree. It is rubbish.

Mr KILLEN - If the honorable member denies it let him deny the right honorable member for Barton, who mis-leads the Opposition with such great accomplishment. In .1942 the right honorable gentleman said that the right of the individual to choose his own employment was only one of the freedoms that the Australian people must forgo in the interests of the state. Two years later the honorable gentleman repeated the same sentiment when he declared -

To-day with the enormous development of industry and industrial organization corporate control and finance, there is no longer a full right in every person to choose his own vocation in life.

That was the right honorable member for Barton. He was in community and communion with the late Sir Stafford Cripps, who declared -

No country in the world, so far as I know, has yet succeeded in carrying through a planned economy without conscription of labour.

This direction of labour is not a myth used by simple-minded people like myself to try to curry political support. I read for the information of the House this excerpt taken from the Attlee Government's 1949 Control of Engagement Order -

Q.   What happens if 1 take a job without going to the Exchange?

A.   Both you and the employer may be prosecuted and each of you is liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to £100 or imprisonment for anything up to three months or both fine and imprisonment.

That direction of labour is part and parcel of the socialist concept and it is part and parcel of the policy propounded by the right honorable member for Barton and the honorable member for East Sydney.

To proceed further to show the shocking contradiction in terms between " democratic " and " socialism ", may I turn to one or two submissions which I will have time only to sketch?

Mr Ward - What point are you making?

Mr KILLEN - If I were to point the point to the sharpest possible point, I do not think it would penetrate the honorable member's intellectual neutrality. My first submission is that socialism would mean the end of democratic government. The late Professor Laski, an admirer of the right honorable member for Barton and, indeed, a very close colleague of his when he was alive, had this to say in " Democracy and Crisis " -

I believe that the attainment of power by the Labour Party in the normal electoral fashion must result in a radical transformation of parliamentary government. Such an administration could not. if it sought to be effective, accept the present forms of its procedure. It would have to take vast powers, and legislate under them by ordinance and decree; it would have to suspend the classic formulae of normal opposition.

Dr Evatt - Who wrote this?

Mr KILLEN - It was written by Professor Laski, who, as the right honorable gentleman knows well, wrote the foreword to his book, " The King and his Dominion Governors ".

Dr Evatt - A very good foreword.

Mr KILLEN - Yes, and Professor Laski continues in his book " Democracy in Crisis " -

Sooner or later a change in popular opinion will put the party of challenge into power; and if their opponents cannot reconcile themselves to the resumption of the egalitarian movement, there is no alternative but the suspension of constitutional government.

I would remind this House that a not dissimilar sentiment was expressed by a former member of this House, Mr. Scullin, when, in 1921, he said that a supreme' economic council would really lake the place of our Parliament of to-day.

The second point I want to mention is the fact that once again the nature of socialism is such that there can be no question of democratic considerations impinging upon its operation. I turn again to a socialist of no mean accomplishment, the late Sir Stafford Cripps, writing in " Problems of a Socialist Government " -

From the moment when the Government takes control rapid and effective action must be possible in every sphere of the national life. The Government's first step will be to call Parliament together at the earliest moment and place before it an Emergency Powers Bill to be passed through all stages on the first day. This bill will be wide enough in its terms to allow all that will be immediately necessary to be done by ministerial orders.

Here is the punch line for the edification of the honorable member for East Sydney -

These orders must be incapable of challenge' in the courts or in any way except the House of Commons.

I ask the House to contrast that statement with this declaration made by the right honorable member for Barton, in 1942, in this Parliament, referring to a constitutional amendment that he was proposing - 1 desire to make it perfectly clear that the amendment I propose will give the decision to Parliament itself, and no person will be able to challenge the validity of Parliament's decision.

I ask the house to note, in particular, the substance of the right honorable member for Barton's point. If a socialist government had secured that amendment, then the whole federalist system in this country would have been destroyed. We would have had bank nationalization and nationalization of medical services, and the various services mentioned by the Minister for Labour and National Service this evening would have all been destroyed. Private enterprise would have been snuffed out.

The last manifestation of socialism to which I want to refer this evening is something which, no doubt, will not represent the views of every honorable gentleman sitting on the opposite side of this House. But there can be no doubt at all that it represents pure socialist theory and pure socialist practice. Socialism postulaes many far-reaching changes, but, more significant than that, I submit that socialism also postulates the establishment of a republic. . To suport that contention, I rely once again on the writings of the late Professor Laski, who declared -

There is no reason to doubt that the prerogatives of the King seem to men of eminence and experience in politics above all a means of delaying the coming of Socialism.

Professor Laski wrote that in his work, " Parliamentary Government in England ". Once again the right honorable member for Barton has found much in common with Professor Laski because in his work, " The Kin» and H*s Dominion Governors ", which is a magnificent treatise and a superb example of historical and constitutional research, the right honorable gentleman set out to try to reduce to a statutory form the reserve powers of the Crown and of the Governor-General. He said -

Surely it is wrong to assume that the GovernorGeneral for the time being will always be a mere tool in the hands of the dominant party.

Later in his book - I am not destroying the sense of what he had to say by giving only excerpts - he declared -

If given command over the parliamentary position there is no saying to what lengths certain persons may not be prepared to go in the exercise of legislative power.

The right honorable gentleman in his book also said -

All this seems to suggest the desirability of some authoritative definition of the reserve powers, preferably in statute form.

His colleague, the late Professor Laski, said -

The mere fact that we do not know the limits of the Royal power, that it can remain to be invoked, on one side or the other, in the twilight zone of crisis, sufficiently indicates the difficulties of the position.

I submit that the whole concept of socialism brings before the people of any country upon which it may be imposed changes far reaching in their nature. In British democracies, it postulates the establishment of a republic, because, unless the reserve powers of the Crown, which are not defined in statutory form but which are known to exist, can be destroyed, no socialist theoretician worth his salt would declare that he could put into effect his socialist policy. I repeat that democracy and socialism are a shocking and ridiculous combination of terms. Democracy means power for the people; socialism means power for the State and for a few. Long ago, maybe, the socialists had as their battle cry " Liberty, e nudity, fraternity ". But to-day their battle cry is " Priority, mediocrity, austerity ".

This is a magnificent country. We have a continent to conquer and we require enterprise, initiative and the will to get things done. None of those ingredients can be found within the policies of democratic socialism.

Suggest corrections