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Thursday, 17 November 1960


Mr UREN (Reid) .- This is the first amendment in reference to treason, treachery, sabotage and espionage. Any person who can add two and two together knows that this bill is designed to tighten up the Crimes Act for the extension of the cold war policy of the Government. We know that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) at the United Nations General Assembly recently, extended the cold war policy in the international field, and of course he got his instruction to tighten up the internal cold war policy of the Government. The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) quoted extracts from a report on a royal commission on communism held in Victoria in 1950. I remind honorable members that the people of Australia were asked to say in a referendum whether the Communist Party would be outlawed in Australia. The people decided that it would not be outlawed and that the Communist Party had its democratic rights just as have any other political party which functions within the Constitution of Australia.

We know that the Government is trying to bring in the Communist Party Dissolution Bill through the back door, but we on this side of the chamber understand the struggle of the working people of Australia to face these issues. We understand their struggle and we represent a truly Australian field of thought. We stand for civil liberties and freedom for all people in Australia. Therefore, we are fighting the obnoxious provisions of this bill.

At eleven minutes past 5 o'clock this afternoon, the Attorney-General said, " The Labour Party has made a deal with someone that this bill has to be opposed at all stages". The Attorney-General nods approval. He agrees that that was what he said. Later, in an interjection, the honorable gentleman said, "The Communists began the agitation against this bill ". He has closed his eyes to the fact that learned gentlemen like Mr. John Kerr, Q.C. opposed the bill. Does anybody suggest that Mr. Kerr, Q.C, has Communist tendencies? He is a great local advocate and an anti-Communist within the trade union struggle. Sir John Latham has criticized the bill. Is he pro-Communist? The bill has been opposed and criticized by Professor Geoffrey Sawyer, Professor Julius Stone and the Presbyterian Church. A letter that has been sent by the AttorneyGeneral to the Presbyterian Church is being brushed aside because it has not proved to the satisfaction of the Church that there are sufficient safeguards in relation to the measure. The Methodist Church and the Quakers have criticized the bill. There has been wide criticism of the attack made on civil liberties and freedoms by these amendments to the Crimes Act. An amendment which has been presented by the AttorneyGeneral is designed to insert in proposed section 24 (1.) a new paragraph. The proposed sub-section will read -

A person who -

(d)   assists by any means whatever, with intent to assist, an enemy -

(i)   at war with the Commonwealth, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared; shall be guilty of an indictable offence, called treason, and liable to punishment of death.

That is quite clear. Government supporters have approved of this extension of the cold war. The honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) said, "We are at war with Russia " but he sells his wool to Russia. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) sends wool to Russia and China, but he and his colleague say, " We are at war with China and Russia ". The Opposition has made it quite clear that we encourage people to trade with those countries, but we do not want hypocrisy. We would not say, " Trade with them ", one moment and then say, " We are at war with them ". Things were said about certain capitalist institutions which did that during the 1914-18 war.

We know that honorable members on the Government side are great advocates of the preservation of the status quo. I make no reference to the Attorney-General's knowledge of the law. I acknowledge his knowledge. He knows the law. He is the representative of the big money interests. I am well aware of that. Earlier he made a sneering interjection at the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). May I direct the attention of the Attorney-General to the fact that the honorable member for Parkes served this country well in the First World War as a soldier. The AttorneyGeneral should look at his own record of war service. It is all very well to make accusations against a famous son of our country, the honorable member for Parkes. He served this country with distinction in the First World War and in the Second World War, and fought for the liberties of all Australians. He has been a battler for the under-dog at all times, but men like the Attorney-General sneer and cast innuendoes at the honorable member. During the war, the Attorney-General was the representative of big business. He was their mouthpiece while the honorable member for Parkes was fighting for justice and liberty.

I have referred to the amendment presented by the Attorney-General with reference to persons assisting an enemy at war with the Commonwealth whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared. I direct the attention of honorable members to a statement by the Professor of International Law at Sydney University, Professor Julius Stone published in the " Sydney Morning Herald " of 1st November. Professor Stone was replying to certain statements made by the AttorneyGeneral when he returned from the United Nations General Assembly. Professor Stone said that the Attorney-General had clarified some matters but left three " difficulties ". Referring to these difficulties, Professor Stone stated -

The second relates to the definition of " enemy " and the third relates to the definition of " war ".

It remains essential that a more precise definition of the term "enemy" be used in the treason provisions of the bill.

In law, whether international or national, the word " enemy " is quite ambiguous. It can mean an enemy State, an enemy national or a person of any nationality who lives in enemy territory.

This bill is too vague in many respects. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has expressed the Opposition's viewpoint on this matter. We on this side fully support the attitude that has been expressed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. We will fight the issue, clause for clause. I hope the Attorney-General has had a look at himself whilst he has been outside the chamber and that he will not continue to gag the debate as he did earlier to-day. I hope he will allow free discussion so that we may express our point of view. I know that eventually the Government will force the bill through, but at least it should recognize our right to express the point of view of the workers. Otherwise, we shall see how much freedom really exists under this Government and the type of government it is. Trade union delegations, representing many thousands of workers, have come to Parliament House and entered King's Hall to interview parliamentarians. While they have been here, security personnel have mingled amongst them. We know security officers are suspicious and that they are trying to find out who is Schmidt the spy, who is a Communist, and who is a radical.

THE CHAIRMAN.- Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

Motion (by Mr. Freeth) put -

That the question be now put -







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