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Wednesday, 10 April 1957

Mr KILLEN - Is that an "Ah" of anticipation or surprise? I mentioned one evening last week that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was showing himself in a rather novel role, and revealing the unusual characteristic of sensitivity. Again this evening he has displayed this rather surprising characteristic, which none of us knew that he possessed. He complained of great injustice heaped upon him in the past concerning the witnesses before the Petrov royal commission. He alleged at the time, and repeated again this evening, that Petrov was a worthless individual. To try to bolster up his case tonight he referred - to use a euphemistic phrase - to the odd domestic habits of Mr. Petrov. Then - and I do not know whether he spoke in envy or disgust - he mentioned the fact that Mr. Petrov had been caught wandering around Surfer's Paradise without his trousers. He could have been going for a swim!

The simple truth of the matter is that the purpose of the exercise of the honorable member for East Sydney this evening was to endeavour to discredit still further the character of Vladimir Petrov and, as a consequence, bring the Petrov royal commission and its findings into disrepute, convincing the Australian people that, after all, the royal commission was, as one honorable gentleman sitting in the red corner some moments ago said, a " conspiracy ". Let us face the facts:. What the honorable member for East Sydney has said this evening and what he has been saying in this Parliament even since the unfortunate day when more than 50 per cent, of the people of East Sydney were so bereft of responsibility as to vote for him, has been said in an attempt to build up in this country an atmosphere, a system, under which opposition to any form of communism will not and cannot be tolerated. That was the purpose of bis exercise this evening. I believe that when the full history of Petrov's defection is written, it will show that we are indebted to Petrov, lt ill-becomes the honorable member for East Sydney now to try to ridicule him and to discredit him.

This evening, the honorable member for East Sydney has gone a step further in endeavouring to discourage any future defections from the Soviet Union. The Soviet empire of despotism has been built up in the main by sabotage, by subversion and by underground activity. The Western Powers, to win the cold war, depend in no small measure upon defections from the Soviet Union. But, of course, the honorable member for East Sydney does not want that. Moscow does not want it and the Soviet-soaked soul of the honorable member for East Sydney is in communion with the Kremlin on this occasion.

I say with a sense of responsibility to the honorable member for East Sydney that Moscow regards him as a refrigerator in the cold war. Whenever an effort is made to oppose communism, the honorable member endeavours feverishly to ice it up. He tries by his action to achieve a chilling effect upon sound, decent national sentiment. What did the commissioners who heard the evidence say about Mr. Petrov? This is interesting. They said -

Petrov's reputation was attacked and the suggestion was made that we should not believe him because, it was said, he occasionally drank to excess and he and Bialoguski had been concerned in black-marketing duty-free liquor got on the Soviet Embassy frank.

The first allegation is irrevelant; it is absurd to suggest that a man who occasionally got drunk should not be believed.

That is not an unreasonable view to take. With respect, I submit that if we were to apply the argument put forward by the honorable member for East Sydney this evening, a lot of people who support the Labour party could not be believed. The commissioners also said -

We feel that in the final result we should find, and we do find, that the Petrovs are witnesses of truth.

We also found their accuracy to be of a high order, which is not surprising seeing that they had long training in a service which demanded accuracy.

Once again, the honorable member for East Sydney has, by inference, this evening attacked the three commissioners who presided over the Royal Commission on Espionage. I have said before in this Parliament, and I repeat it again this evening - it may be tedious and discomforting for some honorable gentlemen opposite, but I believe it has to be dinned into their minds - that the honorable member for East Sydney is out to shut up any person who stands against Communist activity. His tactics are quite simple. If he can silence them by smearing, he will do so. If he can halt them by hectoring, he will do so. If he can inhibit them by insult, he will do so. But at all costs, he must shut them up.

If the honorable member for East Sydney is so concerned with public morality and the proprieties of life, I suggest to him that he closely scrutinize the ranks of the Australian Labour party, because it is being heavily rumoured at this moment that a prominent member of the party has recently changed his name and that the same gentleman was at one time a member of the Communist party. If the honorable member for East Sydney is so concerned about these issues, let him clean up his own house, let him put his own house in order and let him wipe away the great mat of heavy red dust that hangs over the Australian Labour party to-day.

I shall mention now a matter that no doubt will interest the honorable member. I have in my hand a copy of " Pravda " of 3rd March. The leading article is devoted to - I give honorable gentlemen one guess - democratic socialism. I intend to run a competition. I intend to take translations from this leading article on democratic socialism, and to take statements by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), the honorable member for Hindmarsh, Mr. Clyde Cameron) and Dr. John Burton from " The Light Glows Brighter ", and from his recent booklet, " Labour In Transition ". I shall throw them in one after the other and then invite honorable gentlemen to decide from which source these excerpts come. I propose to give a prize for the first accurate entry that I receive.

I conclude by saying that the whole attitude of the honorable member for East Sydney since he came into this Parliament has simply been to try to silence by threats, intimidation, smearing, hectoring and all the rest of it, any one who stands against his miserable and contemptible political theories. Moreover, he will do anything at all to silence those people who are prepared to stand up against Moscow and who stand for those things in Australia that are good, sound, decent and, above all, honest.

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