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Wednesday, 27 November 1935

Senator COLLINGS (QUEENSLAND) . - If the discussion of this clause has done no more than give the committee an opportunity to listen to Senator Lynch, it has been worth while. I am astounded that a good Irishman like the honorable senator, with the knowledge of all the wonderful history of his illustrious country, should be found championing that portion of this proposed new section which I wish to have deleted. The retention of the words which I seek to have removed from the clause will give to the Government an opportunity to create a squad of Pigotts and Careys - Senator Lynch knows to what I refer - to go round this country and rope in those persons who in any way have rubbed shoulders with people belonging to what are termed unlawful associations. Apparently, Senator Lynch has not read the proposed section, and therefore I propose to read it for his information -

If a police, stipendiary, or special magistrate is satisfied by information upon oath laid before him by any person duly authorized by the Attorney-General -

Any scoundrel in the community whom t he Attorney-General chooses may lay the information; it does not say " any person of reputable character ". that any person has in his possession or custody any documents relating to an unlawful association -

I do not take exception to action directed against an unlawful association, although when I asked that Eric Campbell and the New Guard should be -dealt with, the Senate merely smiled and went on its way. If a savage clause is necessary to deal with one kind of organization, why not go the whole hog and deal with all associations, including those of the kind led by Oswald Mosley, Hitler, and Mussolini? Communist organizations appear to be regarded differently by the Government at different times, for, while they are the subject of savage legislation, strangely enough, the Government does not object to taking a deposit of £25 from a Communist candidate for Parliament, who receives less than a certain proportion of the votes cast. A Communist may appeal to the electors and if, by some stroke of fortune - or perhaps of misfortune - he receives sufficient votes to be elected, he may take his place in this Parliament. If the clause were merely directed against unlawful association, the Opposition would say " Good luck to it ". I remind the Government that it has tried several times to deal with unlawful associations, but has failed each time. Several attempts have been made to deport certain persons, but when the tests came, the Government found that it could not deport them. The Opposition objects, not to unlawful associations being dealt with, but to roping in unfortunate individuals who are covered by the plain, simple English words " or has knowledge or information relating to such an association ". Those words might refer to me, for I have knowledge of certain organizations. Although I have no connexion with any unlawful associations, and am active in my opposition to them, under this bill I may be called upon to give information regarding them. That is all right. If called upon to do so, I shall give any information in my possession; but if I do not answer truly and fully to the satisfaction of the individual who is conducting the inquisitorial investigation, I can be held to be guilty of a misdemeanour and be brought within the scope of this legislation. The onus of proof is cast on the accused individual - a procedure which is subversive of what we are pleased to call British justice. I do not know that British justice is . any better than the Australian justice for which I am striving. The placing of the onus on the accused individual is a most savage form of legislation, and I cannot understand how good Australian senators can sanction it. Least of all can I understand Senator Lynch approving of a bill of this character.

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