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Thursday, 13 April 1961


Mr CHRESBY (Griffith) (12:33 PM) .I will not dwell on the speech of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) because I am sure that his remarks must have been a very great blow to a great many of his colleagues. I shall leave him to their tender mercies, trusting that they will quieten him and see that he does not embarrass them again in the future.

A great deal has been said about the Australian Labour Party and its attitude towards communism. A claim made by a member of the party during a debate in Brisbane recently with the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) was that every member of the Labour Party pledged that he was not a member of the Communist Party. The Labour Party claims that that pledge is a guarantee that there are no Communists within the Labour Party. Although it may be true that members of the Labour Party sign pledges stating that they are not members of the Communist Party, there is nothing in those pledges to prevent the persons who sign them from espousing and supporting Communist philosophy. That is a completely different matter. That is something that the Labour Party has never been able to overcome.

On 22nd March last, during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House, I made a statement in which I claimed that the former Leader of the Labour Party, Dr. Evatt, had endeavoured to turn Australia into a republic. I referred to the Statute of Westminster. When I resumed my seat the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) received the call and said -

I know the honorable gentleman's great interest in legal matters -


Mr Haylen - I rise to order. Is it a fact that under the Standing Orders no reflection may be cast on members of the judiciary?


Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member will not be in order if he reflects on any member of the judiciary.


Mr CHRESBY - I was not reflecting on a member of the judiciary. I was merely citing historical facts. In his speech on 22nd March last, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said -

I know the honorable gentleman's great interest in legal matters, but I must say with all respect to him that T think his understanding of that statute-

That is, the Statute of Westminster - is astray.....

To prove his point the Deputy Leader of the Opposition proceeded to refer to sections 8 and 9 of the statute. To-night I wish to direct the attention of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to a work entitled "The King and His Dominion Governors ". That is an authority on constitutional law, written in 1936 by the then Mr. Justice Evatt of the High Court of Australia. On page 295, Mr. Justice Evatt said -

Whatever political justification there was for the action taken, in fact the Legislature of Newfoundland surrendered powers which, according to ordinary notions of modern constitutional practice in political democracies, belonged to the citizens of that State. This illustrates again the special, and perhaps a dangerous feature of the Statute of Westminster which I refer to elsewhere.

On page 298, Mr. Justice Evatt said - lt will therefore have to be considered by the Dominion peoples-

In this document he refers to Australia as a dominion - whether special safeguards are not required to prevent a complacent Parliament from surrendering constitutional powers by the method permitted by sec. 4 of the Statute of Westminster and without the specific consent or authority of the Dominion people concerned.

The South Australian Attorney-General at that time said -

The effect of the adoption of the Statute of Westminster by the Commonwealth Parliament is to give that Parliament the legal right to secede from the Empire, and to become legally independent of His Majesty the King and the British Parliament, by taking the appropriate legislative steps without any necessity to have the concurrence of any State Parliament, and without any State Parliament which disagrees.

The Statute of Westminster was the beginning of the end of the British Empire.

The following report appeared in the daily press of 2nd November, 1948 -

Replying to a question at a Bristol meeting . . Sir Stafford Cripps said he adhered to a statement he made in 193S that it was essential to socialism that the British Empire should be liquidated. " That is what we have done in the case of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon," he added.

In 1933, Sir Stafford Cripps wrote a preface to a book entitled, " Problems of a Socialist Government ". He also wrote an article in that book entitled. " Can Socialism Come by Constitutional Means? " I am referring to these matters in order to demonstrate that the intention was to ratify the Statute of Westminster and rush through a referendum in order to force the States to surrender certain powers to the Commonwealth because the requisite powers for the introduction of complete socialism in Australia rest within the several States, not within the Commonwealth Constitution. Once Labour gets the powers into the Constitution, it could cut the ties and become a republic without consulting the people. The article by Sir Stafford Cripps entitled " Can Socialism Come by Constitutional Means? " shows the line that was being taken by the Labour Party in the United Kingdom. And Dr. Evatt, who was at the time Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour Party in this Parliament, was trying to follow out the principles laid down by the British Labour Party. Those principles were enunciated by Sir Stafford Cripps in these terms -

Tt is of no use in this examination to minimize the difficulties with which such a change is surrounded. In the past we have been accustomed to see the conflict between Party and Party fought out with varying degrees of bitterness and intensity. In these major political battles the fight has ranged around specific topics of apparent importance . but always upon the understanding that, whatever Party succeeded, the fundamental capitalist structure of society would be preserved. The Labour Party is not now concerned so much with some particular political orientation of capitalist society as with the change from capitalism to socialism. Continuity of policy - even in fundamentals - can find no place in a socialist programme. lt is this complete severance with all traditional theories of government, this determination lo seize power from the ruling class and transfer il as a whole that differentiates the present political struggle from all those that have gone before.

In this article, Sir Stafford Cripps referred also to the intentions of the government of which he was a member. It was obvious that Dr. Evatt, who, as I have said, was at the time Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour Party in this Parliament, was trying to follow the same principles. The account of what the Labour Government in the United Kingdom wanted to do, as given at page 43 of this book, was as follows: -

The Government's first step will be to call Parliament together at the earliest moment and place before it an Emergency Powers Bill to be passed through all its stages in one day. This Bill will be wide enough in its terms to allow all that will be immediately necessary to be done by ministerial orders.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.







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