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
Thursday, 17 November 1960


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), who is a lawyer, quoted from volume 10 of " Halsbury's Laws of England " at page 560. He quoted a small portion which he thought would suit his argument, and he took it out of context.I propose to read the quotation in full. It is -

Direct and constructive levying of war. The levying of war may be of two kinds: - (1) express and direct, as raising war against the Sovereign or her forces, or with a view to surprise or injure the Sovereign's person, or to imprison her or to force her to remove any of her ministers or counsellors, and the like; or (2) constructive, as when there is a rising for some general public purpose, as to effect an alteration of the law, or to alter religion established by law, or to throw down all enclosures, or to open all prisons, or to pull down all meeting-houses. A person who takes part in any such acts, even though he had not previously any formed intention of taking part in them, is guilty of treason.

If large numbers are assembled with a treasonable purpose, it is the purpose of the assembly which constitutes treason and distinguishes it from riot. Thus a rising to maintain a private claim or right, or to destroy particular enclosures or to remove private nuisances, or to break prisons in order to release particular persons (unless those persons are imprisoned for treason), or to destroy the machinery of a particular trade, does not amount to a levying of war within the meaning of the statute.

I shall quotes note(s) at the foot of the page. It refers to the quotation that I have given, particularly to the portion ending with the words " is guilty of treason ". The note is intended to make the legal principles clear.

It says this -

The principles underlying such decisions as are cited in notes (m), (o), supra, are ill defined and the law of treason enunciated has according to Sir James Stephen been unduly stretched; see 2 Stephen's History of the Criminal Law 271. See also Luders' Law Tracts, " Constructive Treason ". The principle that riot may constitute treason was established by R. V. Dammaree (1710), 15 State Tr. 521, but the same reasoning is found in 3 Co. Inst. 9, where cases in the reign of Elizabeth I. are cited. For the offences of treason felony, riot and malicious damage, see pp. 565, 587, 874, post.

I was amused to hear the hollow laughs of the lawyers opposite when I was unable to interpret an abbreviation. I doubt whether they would be able to do so, either.

I wish now to read from another book that I have been studying for some time. It is " Kenny's Outlines of Criminal Law ", the 17th edition published in 1958 by the Cambridge University Press. At Page 365, the following statement appears: -

War ', here, is not limited to the true ' war ' of international law, but will include any forcible disturbance that is produced by a considerable number of persons, and is directed at some purpose which is not of a private but of a ' general ' character /, e.g. to release the prisoners in all the gaols. It is not essential that the offenders should be in military array or be armed with military weapons.

This bill goes even further than the cases referred to here. The bill proposes to introduce a law which will make it an offence to do anything preparatory to the levying of war. " Levying of war " is a term that could be applied to a general strike throughout the whole of Australia, such as the maritime strike. Let us suppose that the unions decided to strike in protest against this present savage piece of legislation, and let us suppose that the Australian Council of Trade Unions and all the unions of Australia decided that, as from to-morrow morning, they would completely paralyse all industry so that there were be no electric light, no trams, trains or motor buses and there would not be a single moving thing anywhere in Australia. All hospitals would be closed and everything would be completely paralysed. Such action would come within the definition of " levying war " that I have given and would be an act of treason for which the persons who took part in it would be liable to the penalty suggested here, which is death.


Mr Freeth - You have overlooked proposed new section 24 (1.) (f).


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No, I have taken full account of that provision. As a matter of fact, it makes the position even worse and at a later stage we propose to move that it be omitted, as I shall explain when we come to it. We propose that it be omitted altogether.

I put it to the committee that not only would the unionists who participated in the general strike against the savage provisions of this bill be guilty of treason punishable by death - each and every one of them - but the union secretaries who attended the meetings, or who wrote out the resolution, or who were members of the steering committee which formulated the resolution which led to the general strike, would also be guilty of treason. The bill goes beyond the levying of war and says that any person who does anything preparatory to levying war is guilty of treason. This would include the writing of an article in a union journal - this has already happened - expressing the opinion that all members of the trade union movement should rise in rebellion against this measure and refuse to sell their labour until this savage piece of legislation is withdrawn. A person writing such an article in a union newspaper inciting people to do these things would be guilty of an act of treason punishable by death. Can any one justify this kind of legislation? Of course not!

It is nonsense to say that the provision is introduced in order to protect the Queen and because, when Prince Charles comes to Australia, he might be shot. Is the Government arguing that when Prince Charles comes to Australia some Australian may shoot him, and that there is quite a chance that one of the State governments will be so unpatriotic and treasonable that it will not be prepared to prosecute? What an absurdity! Does anybody suggest that any person could shoot another in this country without being dealt with by the law, irrespective of the State in which he lives? It is all nonsense to talk about this amendment being necessary for the purpose of protecting the Sovereign, as if the Sovereign has no protection now. Such an argument should never be put up seriously by any government.

The real reason for this reference to the Sovereign is that it is the sugar coating of the bitter pill. It is put in in order to make the proposition look reasonable, to lull the people into believing that the Government seeks merely to protect Prince Charles when he comes to Australia in a few years' time because, without the provision, there would be a real possibility that some Australian would .shoot him and some State government would refuse to prosecute the person who committed the offence. But tucked away in the corner of this clause which contains the provision which we all support and the contingency which every Australian would lay down his life to prevent, are these vicious provisions which are aimed at the right of the trade union movement, by general strike, to alter the law - something which it has every right to do.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN

Order! The honorable member's time has expired.







Suggest corrections