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Thursday, 25 November 1965


Mr JESS (La Trobe) .- Mr. Speaker,this is the first occasion on which 1 have taken part in a Grievance debate in this House. I consider that I must rise on this occasion. For a fortnight I have waited for somebody in this chamber to direct attention to certain remarks that were made at a Communist front meeting by a leading and distinguished member of the Parliament who sits on the other side of the House, but so far I have heard no mention of the matter. I realise that this could perhaps be taken by people outside this place as an indication that the Government parties accept this sort of thing as quite normal and as something about which they should not be concerned. The remarks that I wish to refer to were reported in the " Age " of Monday, 15th November, and in the " Sun " of that day. They were reported also in the " Guardian ", the Communist Newspaper, of 18th November. I have waited for a fortnight to see whether the remarks would be denied and to see whether any question of misrepresentation would be raised in this House, but there has been silence.

The remarks to which I take exception, and to which I think the country should take exception, were passed by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) at a meeting at the Richmond Town Hall where he spoke on 14th November. The report states that at that meeting, at which was discussed Australia's involvement in the Vietnam war, the honorable member for Yarra said -

If freedom in Australia was lost, it would be the result of the anti-Communists . . .

If that means that those who defend Australia and the freedoms in Australia are pro-Communist, I should like to know whether this is also the view of honorable members on the other side of the chamber. The honorable member stated clearly that the freedom of Australia would be lost by the anti-Communists and, therefore, if one opposes Communism in Australia one is placing the freedom of Australia in jeopardy. A little later he said that the Returned Servicemens League, the wealthy, the conservatives and the established were those who formed the threat to Australia. I do not mind him talking about the Liberal Party of Australia and I do not mind him having these views of the Liberal Party, but when he attacks the R.S.L. I think he should be answered. I should think that the R.S.L., far from having a majority in favour of the conservative Liberal Party in Australia, would have a majority of genuine Labour men; but when a man like the honorable member for Yarra, who is on the executive of the Australian Labour Party, can come forward and say these things I think they should be denied in this House, at least by some.

I do not deny to the honorable member for Yarra the right to oppose the Government's policy. This is a right that we have in Australia. This we can do and this should be allowed to continue in circumstances when we are not officially at declared war. But I want to ask: Is it necessary to go to Communist front organisations on every occasion? Is it necessary for these meetings to be advertised in the Communist dailies throughout Australia? Furthermore, is it necessary to attack always those people whom the Communists are most assuredly against? I may well be asked how I can say that this organisation is a Communist front organisation. I have not time to read it, because ten minutes is very short, but honorable members know of an article in a pamphlet called "The Melbourne Peace Movement " which was sent to them. The article sets out information about the Communist front technique of the Australian and New Zealand Peace Corps. The article was written by an honours graduate in political science of the Melbourne University, a member of the A.L.P. and a member of the " Dissent " editorial board.


Mr Cleaver - Who published it?


Mr JESS - The pamphlet was published by the " Dissent " Trust in January 1964. A further meeting has just been advertised in the " Guardian ". For this meeting they will be taking the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne and folk singers will provide entertainment. They are now going for the young people. This meeting will be under the guise of a folk singers' festival; but it is being sponsored by the Victorian Branch of the Labour Party and Communist front organisations. I offer 10 dollars to the person who can guess who will be the main speaker at this meeting on Vietnam. It is to be the honorable member for Yarra. In another place the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) listed that from 1948-







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