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
Tuesday, 22 November 1960


Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Leader of the Opposition) . - i move -

That the following new clause be inserted in the bill:- " 26a. Sections thirtyj to thirty r (inclusive) of the principal act are repealed.".

The purpose of this amendment is to repeal sections 30j and 30k of the Crimes Act 1914-1959 which were inserted in. 1926. Section 30j reads - (1.) If at any time the Governor-General is of the opinion that there exists in Australia a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, he may make a Proclamation to that effect, which Proclamation shall be and remain in operation for the purposes of this section until it is revoked. (2.) Any person who, during the operation of such Proclamation, takes part in or continues, or incites to, urges; aids or encourages the taking part in, or continuance of, a lockout or strike -

(a)   in relation to employment in or in connexion with the transport of goods or the conveyance of passengers in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States; or

(b)   in relation to employment in or in connexion with the provision of any public service by the Commonwealth or by any Department or public authority under the Commonwealth, shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for any period not exceeding one year, and in addition (if he was not born in Australia)to deportation by order of the Attorney-General as provided in this Act.

Sub-section (3.) gives the definition of an employee, an. employer, a lock-out and a strike. Section 30k of the act reads -

Whoever, by violence to the person or property of another person, or by spoken or written threat or intimidation of any kind to whomsoever directed, or, without reasonable cause or excuse, by boycott or threat of boycott of person or property -

(a)   obstructs or hinders the provision of any public service by the Commonwealth or by any Department or public authority under the Commonwealth;

(b)   compels or induces any person employed in or in connexion with the provision of any public service by the Commonwealth or by any Department or public authority under the Commonwealth to surrender or depart from his employment;

(c)   prevents any person from offering- or accepting employment in or in connexion with the provision of any public service by the Commonwealth or by any Department or public authority under the Commonwealth;

(d)   obstructs or hinders the transport of goods. or the conveyance of passengers in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States;

(e)   compels or induces any person employed in or in connexion with the transport of goods or the conveyance of passengers in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States to surrender or depart from his employment; or

(f)   prevents any person from offering or accepting employment in or in connexion with the transport of goods or the conveyance of passengers in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, shall be guilty of an offence.

Penalty: Imprisonment for one year.

Under these- two sections, the BrucePage Government took power to inflict penalties that were not known at that time in legislation in any other part of the Commonwealth. This legislation was panic legislation. It was framed by the then Attorney-General, later Sir John Latham and Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, who, paradoxically enough, is now a critic of this Crimes Bill. He has lived long enough to see the foolishness of the repressive legislation of which he was tha author as Attorney-General in the Bruce-Page- Government: That legislation was put on the statute-book at the time of the British seamen's strike. This strike was inspired by Communists in Great. Britain among British seamen in Australian waters and not anywhere else; - not even in United Kingdom waters - and- it immobilized the whole of British shipping. The Australian working class of the time supported the British- seamen in their protestation and in their strike.

The Opposition has always felt that these provisions should have been taken out of the acf. It is easy for the Government to chide us for not having proposed the repeal of the legislation when we were a government. We had a lot of other things to do at that time. We thought; in any case, that these sections were dead letters. Perhaps we should have repealed them, museum pieces though they were. The very fact that the Government has introduced other legislation which, in our view, is equal in draconian severity to this legislation is a reason, not only for our opposition to the clauses that we have already opposed; but for the repeal; of the sections in the. act- of 1925,

Proclamations under these provisions have been issued on only about' three occasions, if my memory serves me rightly. If ai piece of legislation has been used only three times during its 35 years on the statute-book it ought to be repealed. It was used once in 1926 when Walsh and'' Johnson were arrested and threatened with deportation. There was a famous appeal to the High Court of Australia when the present Chief Justice of New South Wales made his name by having the High' Court determine the issue as to when a migrant ceases to be a migrant. That learned gentleman, formerly the leader- of the Labour Party and Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs in the Chifley and Curtin Governments; won a victory in the High Court which, to the- public mind, -seemed to render section 30 J inoperable.

There is no justification for keeping that section in existence any longer. If a serious situation arose at any time the Government could pass special legislation. In 1949, when the Chifley Government had to face a certain situation, it passed special legislation of limited duration and when the crisis passed the legislation went off' the statute-book. In our view, that is the- way to deal with a situation of the sort that arose in 1949 and in 1925-26. We do not think that the statute-book should be cluttered up- with unnecessary provisions that are never used - provisions which are supposed to be a deterrent but which are really provocative in their intent, which are only irritant, and which, in the minds of quite a lot of workers can be interpreted merely as meaning, that an anti-Labour government is so class-conscious that it is determined to use the power of the State against the worker, no matter how legitimate his case may be and no matter how incensed' he may feel when he goes on strike in the pursuance of an objective which he thinks is just, such as the improvement of his conditions or wages. ft was not a revolutionary movement in 1926, following the 1925 strike, that impelled the workers of Australia to strike in sympathy with the British seamen. It was the spirit of mateship. It was evidence of working-class solidarity. The Government of the day which had been returned to power at the general election of 1925 acted savagely and repressively. We think that these provisions ought now to be struck from- the statute-book.







Suggest corrections