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Wednesday, 23 November 1960


Mr CAIRNS (Yarra) .- Mr. Temporary Chairman,one can see quite easily how known character comes in. The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) began by implying that the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) wanted to import something sinister from overseas, and he ended by accusing the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of not having the courage to do certain things. Here we have an advocate of known character. He has a reputation that I should not like to see attaching to any one. His remarks are indecent and irresponsible. They are typical of the kind of thing that stands behind the whole of the Government's propositions with respect to known character. We see this sort of thing every day of the week. We saw it here last evening. This Government's respected Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), offended by an interjection, replied to it by saying that I want to see all saboteurs left free. That was an irresponsible and offensive remark which is quite capable of influencing the attitude of this Government in everything it does under the terms of this measure. The Government has based its position primarily on known character. All Government supporters in this place have done that. They start from a self-righteous position of superiority which is impossible to believe until it is seen. I am quite sure that the people of Australia do not know the Government as we see it here day after day. Government supporters continually assume that those who disagree with them have a character which would bring them under the provisions of this bill.


Mr Anderson - On a point of order: To what clause of the bill is the honorable member for Yarra addressing his remarks?


Mr CAIRNS - We are discussing the provisions of the bill which will have the effect of defining prohibited places. We say that people who could commit offences in relation to those places should know what the law is. That is precisely the matter which is before the committee at present, and I want to make that point clear. The Government, which will go to some trouble to make known what is a prohibited place in relation to public property, is not willing to accept the Opposition's amendment, which would make the same thing clear with respect to private property.


Mr Whitlam - The same procedure should apply in respect of both kinds of places.


Mr CAIRNS - We want to have exactly the same procedure applied in respect of both kinds of places. But here, as with everything else, the Government wants to throw the net as wide as it can, so that when the occasion arises it will be able to catch any one that it wants to catch in its net.

The position is that under proposed new section 78 of the principal act, it will be an offence to be in or near or to approach a prohibited place. That expression embraces a very wide range of places. It embraces, first of all, certain public places which have relation to defence and to the Services, and also a wide range of private places - private property and factories within which may be made goods which could be used by the defence forces. All these places can be prohibited places. What we are asking is that a clear definition of such places be given, because the kind of person who is likely to fall into the Government's net is the kind of person who has a political character to which the Government objects, taking as it does a narrow, conservative point of view.

In the " Sydney Morning Herald " only this morning, there was an article - presumably by Professor Julius Stone1 - in which this statement appears -

Bad political character proved by what a man is alleged to have been and to have said and done leads inevitably to guilt by association, which is the essence of McCarthyism.

This measure has its foundation firmly in McCarthyism. Definitions in other provisions, such as this definition of the places which shall be prohibited places, are so wide that no one can be sure what is the first ingredient of an offence. As a result, any one can be put in the position of having committed the first ingredient of an offence, the second ingredient of which can be proved by establishing known character. In to-day's " Sydney Morning Herald ", we have an article, presumably, as I said, by a professor of international law and jurisprudence, who points out in his own-


Mr Snedden - On a point of order: The honorable member for Yarra, in putting his argument, says that the first ingredient of the offence relates to prohibited places and the second to known character. The provision of the bill with which we are now dealing contains no reference whatever to known character. Therefore, by way of a point of order, I suggest to the chair-







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