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Tuesday, 22 November 1960

Mr BRYANT (Wills) .- This proposed new section is the greatest possible proof one could have that the bill is in reality a prosecutor's measure; that it is designed deliberately to make prosecution easy and to remove protection from the defendant. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has moved that the words " or sabotage " be deleted. I submit that is a most valid amendment. This provision is also symbolic of the imprecision which characterizes the whole bill.

We could have no greater proof that " sabotage " is indefinable and undefined or that this measure contains no protection whatsoever, than the definition of " sabotage " contained in the dictionary which is on the table of this chamber. That dictionary says that the word " sabotage " probably originated from the use of heavy wooden sabots - or shoes - to kick and injure persons or property. The meanings given are -

(a)   Tampering with, infliction of damage upon, persons, machinery or other property of employers in connexion with trade disputes;

(b)   Action other than violence intended to cause injury to a business.

Accepting these meanings as definitions of the word, clearly one can argue that this provision is particularly directed at trade unions and their activities. But the situation is even worse than that. The AttorneyGeneral does not know what he means by " sabotage " and we do not know what he means by it. In fact, nobody knows exactly what is meant by " sabotage " in this measure and there is no reason why any law of this Parliament should use terms of such imprecision. For that reason, I support the amendment proposed by the

Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and I oppose the provisions of this bill.

As the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) pointed out, this is an emotional term. " Treachery " is an emotional term. In what way is treachery different from treason? As far as I can see from reading the bill, treachery is an act against any country which is proclaimed - one of this country's friends for the moment. What countries could they be? There could be trouble in the Middle East, perhaps between Israel and the Arabic nations. Perhaps our oil supplies from the Middle East would be menaced and passions would be aroused in Australia. Perhaps fearing industrial action here to aid one side or the other, the Government would proclaim all countries involved. The proposed measure therefore constitutes a menace to legitimate political and industrial action and for that reason this Parliament should reject the provision, first because of its general tenor and secondly because of the use of the word " sabotage ". I shall be pleased indeed if the Attorney-General can give us a precise definition of the term " sabotage " and thus remove from it the emotional content and the atmosphere that I find associated with it when I turn to the definition contained in the dictionary which lies on the table of this chamber and which ought to be the logical repository of definitions for a parliamentary body.

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