Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 26 April 1972
Page: 1348

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) (Attorney-General) - I do not know why such an attack was launched by Senator Murphy in this adjournment debate. It may be that the attention which was drawn to the Standing Orders changed the course of the allegations he was going to make. I do not know. It is curious that this matter was raised on an Australian Broadcasting Commission programme this evening and that pre-warning was given of the fact that this debate would take place. It raises the interesting question, I might say, of who manipulates whom between the ABC, or some people in the ABC, and the Australian Labor Party. I must say that I myself do not know most of the persons who were mentioned by Senator Murphy and by Senator O'Byrne this evening, but I do know of them by repute. One thing which characterises them is that they are all articulate, academic people who are dedicated to the resistance of communism in this country. On the record they have written and spoken intelligently, sensibly and acceptably against various facets of communism and how it is permeating Australian society. I would have thought that for that if for nothing else, in the sense of the tone in which they have conducted their debate, they ought to have the applause and praise of all Australians.

It is a ridiculous assertion to suggest that a body which is concerned with Australia's defence, the maintenance of Australia's freedom and the alerting of the people of Australia to the menace of communism should in some way be regarded as manipulating democracy. I do not know the details of the scurrilous document to which reference has been made. I do not advert at all to the smears or suggested innuendoes which have been raised. I leave those. But I am concerned - very concerned - with the general allegation which Senator Murphy has raised in premise, that is, that the nation ought to be alerted to the fact that there are groups in this community which will seek to manipulate the democratic processes for ends of which Australia would not approve. I think we have seen examples of how this is done.

I am grateful to the Labor Party for having raised this matter because, instead of referring to anonymous documents, instead of referring to those people who have said something but who are not prepared to put their name to it and instead of using this place as the means by which to defame, slander and denigrate people outside the Parliament who do not have the opportunity that members of Parliament have of saying what they would like to say in this place, we should look at the record of one organisation which has manipulated democracy in this country, which has been declared by a very well known and established Australian organisation to have so manipulated democracy and which has, when certain political advantages have been achieved, and the cloak has been removed, told us that it has not manipulated democracy in the way in which the original condemnation had it. May I refer, Mr President, to what was said in 1967 by Mr Whitlam, who is still the Leader of the Opposition. Speaking at the Victorian State Conference of the Australian Labor Party, he said:

The people of Victoria have just shown they prefer Bolte ... to Labor under its present management. The Victorian Executive included an influential handful of men who had flouted ALP policy on unity tickets, organised or led political strikes in defiance of the ACTU, disregarded and repudiated Party and ACTU policy on the manning of ships to Vietnam and organised demonstrations against the Trades Hall Council Executive. It is disgraceful that these men should be on the ALP Executive which can appear to influence Federal policies and selections. 1 will exercise my right to repudiate such men as I believe disloyal to the ALP, disruptive of its electoral prospects and destructive of all the ALP stands for.

Mr President,in saying that I am not casting reflections upon members of Parliament or senators who may have been members of the ALP Executive at that time but who are now members of the Federal Houses of Parliament. Shortly after that, an incident occurred on the Federal Executive of the ALP when one man with a lot more courage than his fellows said that efforts would be made to silence him at the next meeting of the Federal Executive of the ALP. He said: Friends of the communists on the Federal Executive will try to silence me'. Of course, there are some people on the ALP Executive who were not prepared to sit with such a person. To defend that person Mr Whitlam resigned his leadership. He scraped back by only 6 votes when there was a vote of the Caucus. On that occasion, of course, he was maintaining an attitude consistent with the view that he had expressed to the 1967 conference. I suppose Mr Whitlam felt that discretion was his better course because following that he had little to say until 1970. In that year there was a meeting of the Federal Executive which decided to pull one of the greatest confidence tricks that Australian political history has seen. That was to dismiss the Executive on the basis that it was influenced by a group called the Trade Union Defence Committee, which -

Senator Little - Mostly members of the Communist Party.

Senator GREENWOOD - I heard Senator Little's interjection. I am not able to say whether most of its members were members of the Communist Party. But it is common knowledge that the significant unions in the Trade Union Defence Committee were controlled by the Communist Party and were exercising a very significant influence throughout the whole of the Labor movement in Victoria. One can only suppose that there must have been truth in that allegation. Otherwise, why would the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party in 1970 decide to disband the Victorian Branch on the basis that this Trade Union Defence Committee had exericised an undue influence. The Executive's decision was:

The Federal Executive finds that the Trade Union Defence Committee has been permitted to dominate the Victorian Branch and the Victorian Executive. But it finds no evidence that any person who has taken part in the compilation of the TUDC ticket at the Australian Labor Party Victorian conference was not a member of the Australian Labor Party.

That was a very significant decision because it implied, firstly, that these influences about which Mr Whitlam had spoken in 1967 did have a control and an influence in the Victorian Branch of the ALP and, therefore, they ought to be removed from that control. I have said that this was a confidence trick. It was a confidence trick for 2 reasons. Firstly, after the so-called reform branch held its first meeting, who was appointed as president of the new organisations but the person who had been the president of the old organisation. I think it is fair to quote what the man himself felt about this matter. In the 'Age' of 17th May 1971 Mr Crawford said:

Federal intervention in the Victorian Branch 8 months ago was an attempt to bring about a change in the personalities controlling the branch.

The advantage which has come from intervention is that it has caused a lot of structural changes, but we have the same personalities. Victoria is getting the best of both worlds. 1 can only suppose that this is an indication that this organisation, which previously had manipulated the Victorian Branch, which had caused such an unfortunate image for the Australian Labor Party throughout Australia, was still in control of that organisation in Victoria. One might suppose that this was also vindicated by the decision of the Federal Conference of that Party which was held in 1971. With a relatively minimum amount of publicity it overruled the decision of the Federal Executive that this Trade Union Defence Committee had in fact exercised such control. So the whole exercise is one in which the public was sought to be fooled by the reform of the Victorian Branch of the ALP. But at the next conference meeting, rather quietly, they repudiated the decision which was made at the Federal Executive meeting. We still find in control in Victoria the people who were in fact controlling the Branch and influencing it before the intervention took place.

If the record is of no conviction, one can only look at what has happened. We have had from Mr Crawford the rather infamous call to mutiny, which we all remember, when a meeting of which he was the chairman called upon the troops in Vietnam to mutiny. We have had the latter day statement from Mr Whitlam when he advised all those national servicemen who were serving in Vietnam that they should not fight any longer if they conscientiously felt that way. We have had instances in more recent times involving Dr J. F. Cairns in which he has called upon those who support the North Vietnamese to go into the street in protest. More recently still we have had the decision of the Victorian ALP conference, nol declaring policy but merely expressing an attitude that it fell that North Vietnam ought to win and that it drew encouragement from the success of North Vietnamese. This represents the same continuing pro-communist attitude which was exhibited by elements in the ALP in the days when the Trade Union Defence Committee was acknowledge to be influencing - in fact controlling - the ALP. The general attitudes and policies are the same as they were before.

Does this not illustrate that within the Australian Labor Party is a group of communist in trade union officials and other sympathisers of communist officials who are using the Australian Labor Party for their own purposes? Why is Senator Murphy not concerned with that? After all, if the newspapers are to be believed, he was a strong defender of the Trade Union Defence Committee at one stage. If, on the basis of the premise which he put forward tonight, he is really concerned that the people of Australia ought to be alerted to those who would manipulate democratic processes for ends which are not in accordance with those which Australians favour, the people of Australia should be informed. I am prepared to inform them. But is Senator Murphy or anybody in the ALP prepared to come out and condemn the communist influence within that Party? Is any Opposition senator prepared to come out and challenge what was done by the Victorian Executive ALP conference a couple of weeks ago? When I say 'challenge', I do not mean challenge on the basis that they do not have a right to declare policy; I mean a challenge on the merits of what they said, because I believe that within the Australian Labor Party there is a substantial influence-

Senator O'Byrne - I rise to order. It is your usual custom, Mr President, to keep honourable senators on the same subject during the debate on the adjournment motion. I suggest that Senator Greenwood is on an entirely different subject. I woUld like him either to speak to the subject that was raised or refer to it again on a separate occasion.

The PRESIDENT - Order! I will nol be instructed on the conduct of the debate. Senator Greenwood began speaking on a subject; perhaps he could return to it.

Senator GREENWOOD - I am grateful for the indulgence of the Senate. I started on the basis that Senator Murphy raised, that we ought to be concerned about influences which would manipulate the democratic processes. I think that I have illustrated, possibly straying a little from the direct path on occasions and not dealing exactly with the matters which Senator Murphy raised, but returning to the same point, that we ought to be concerned about these influences which manipulate democratic processes. Above all, the Australian people ought to be aware of the shadow influences behind the Australian Labor Party, those influences which called for support for the North Vietnamese, those influences which seek to develop political strikes for ends which are identical with the ends which the communists support, those general policies in which elements in the ALP and the communists find no reason to disagree. These are facts which ought to be made public. I welcome the opportunity which Senator Murphy has presented to be able to make these points. I would only say in respect of Mr Cairns, because the comment has been made, that I know and his colleagues know that he is a person who supports the Liberal Party, who supports democracy, who believes in freedom and who opposes communism. I do not believe that people who have those beliefs are unworthy of the support of the people of Australia.

Suggest corrections