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Thursday, 4 April 1957

Mr WIGHT (Lilley) .- -For all that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) might deplore the fact that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) spoke on this subject to-night, the honorable member for Bendigo has not denied that the central trades committee did decide, after giving full consideration to the special problems associated with the Hungarian refugees, that it would have been virtually impossible for these people, lucky as they were to escape with their lives in the face of Russian guns - many of their comrades lost their lives - to think to search through their papers for a document to bring to Australia to enable them to obtain a job in the engineering field.

Mr Clarey - I accept that statement.

Mr WIGHT - The honorable gentleman accepts that. He cannot deny that the executive of the Amalgamated Engineering Union was responsible for a complete reversal of that decision. He cannot deny that that executive at the moment is made up of Stone, who is a left-wing Labour man, Hennessy, who is a Communist, and Wilson, who is also a Communist. If two out of three members of the executive of the union are Communists, we can easily understand why the union decided that it would completely change the determination of the central trades committee, because naturally the Communists are antagonistic to new Australians who have fled from Communist countries. Any new Australian who stays in this country will be determined to fight communism in the trade unions, if he becomes a member of a union. And that is why the Australian Labour party has altered its own policy on compulsory trade unionism, to ensure that new Australians are kept out. New Australians in the trade union movement would be opposed to Communists.

Can the honorable member deny that the Australian Labour party, the new Evatt Labour party - it is a new Labour party - has fought against every section of the trade union movement and every section of the Australian Labour party itself which has at any time raised its hand in opposition to communism? What is the situation in Queensland at the moment? Mr. Gair, the Premier, is a Labour Premier; but Mr. Gair is anti-Communist, and so he, like all the other people in the Labour party who have any antagonism towards communism, is being destroyed by the new Evatt Labour party. I suggest that the new Australians in this country are quite familiar with the tactics that have been employed by the Labour party. That is clearly evident from a letter which I have received from a new Australian living in Queensland, who makes a very special reference to the recent Australian Labour party conference in Brisbane. I should like to read extracts from that letter -

At the time of the top ALP conference in Brisbane a certain decision was reached by those-

Mr Riordan Mr. Riordaninterjecting,

Mr WIGHT - The honorable member has not enough intelligence to think of an interjection, so he takes one from the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin). The letter continues- a certain decision was reached by those in conference to the effect that Labour propaganda should he carried right to the homes of European migrants through pamphlets, literature, &c, plus people who speak foreign languages. This in itself is a preposterous idea, not only on account of the moral turpitude of the party in question who for years have tried to harass and frustrate anti-Red migrants and now have dramatically turned coat only to catch the vote, but apart from the moral point of view it is also a pretty hopeless proposition with migrant* such as Germans, Hungarians, Estonians, Czechs. Poles, &c, who all feel that they have a score to settle with the Communists and will fight an> organization that even tolerates communism.

Mr Riordan - -Is that signed. "Yours sincerely, Ken."?

Mr WIGHT - The honorable member is doing a lot of interjecting. I remind him that when the Anti-Communist Labour party was formed from within the Australian Labour party he was one who sat on the fence, who stayed away from meetings of caucus, and who was frightened to face his own people. He was one man who could not make up his mind which side of the Labour party he would join and he tossed a coin to find which side was going to win. Now he is trying to establish himself with his friends.

Mr Riordan - I rise to order. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) has made references which are personally offensive to me. He informed the House that I sat on the fence. He made reference to certain things which, he says, transpired in caucus. I do not know from where the honorable member got the information, unless he got it from the Leader of the Liberal party in the Queensland Parliament. As the statement made by the honorable member is personally offensive to me, I ask that it be withdrawn. I have been a member of the Australian Labour party in this Parliament for 21 years.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member for Lilley has imputed improper motives to the honorable member for Kennedy, and I ask him to withdraw his remarks.

Mr WIGHT - They were meant to be offensive, but I withdraw them. However, Mr. Speaker, the honorable member certainly was not in Canberra - he was in Brisbane - at the time that caucus was meeting on this issue and when the Anti-Communist Labour party broke away from the Australian Labour party. He can make up his mind about whether that is offensive. 1 should like to go on with the contents of this letter, which reads -

The other point in the Australian Labour party's discussions was a proposed non-insistence on compulsory unionism. European migrants are natural!} disinclined to join any union, but if they have they will soon find out who is Communist and make things difficult for him. 1 fully agree with this new Australian cai this point -

The Labour idea is to keep them out, because then new Australians can in no way interfere, with the result o£ union ballots and the unions will be is red as ever.

Now, those are the views of a new Australian, and they represent the views of not only one new Australian but also the great majority of new Australians in this country. Many of those people were brought out here when Mr. Chifley was Prime Minister and when the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) was the Minister for Immigration and had initiated our virile immigration policy. But the Labour party has now changed its immigration policy. It is now opposed to people coming to Australia because members of the Labour party see in new Australian tradesmen a threat to the trade union movement and to the red control that is sought by the new Labour party in this country.

I wish to conclude my remarks by saying that the point brought forward by the honorable member for Mackellar to-night should not be lost sight of. These Hungarian workers are entitled to earn a living in this country, and entitled to give their families a chance of living in decent conditions. The Labour party claims that it represents the workers, but it is supporting the attitude of the Australian Engineering Union, which is denying those people the opportunity to pass a trade test. There is no suggestion that these Hungarian workers are not capable of doing the work that they seek to obtain. Their capability or incapability to do that work can be readily proved by submitting them to a trade test. But the Labour party is supporting the action of the Communist executive of the Australian Engineering Union in depriving these men of the opportunity to prove their capability for the work and their right to be employed under award rates and conditions fixed by the industrial courts. I support the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Mackellar and the Minister for Labour and National Service.

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