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Wednesday, 15 May 1957

Mr EDMONDS (Herbert) . - I, too, regret speaking on the adjournment at this late hour. I do so reluctantly. However, having regard to some of the assertions that were made during an adjournment debate last week, I feel that I would be failing in my duty as a Queensland member of the Labour party if I did not make some observations.


Mr Osborne - Yes, which party?

Mr EDMONDS - When the Leader of House and the Minister for Air have sufficient decency to let me proceed, I shall do so. Last week, certain honorable members from Queensland made speeches on the adjournment in connexion with the dispute now current in the Labour party in that State. I have no hesitation in admitting, of course, that that dispute occurred. The Queensland members of the Labour party decided that it was not the business of this Parliament to discuss that dispute, because it was completely irrelevant to the business of, and had nothing to do with, the National Parliament. Because of that decision, those of us on this side of the House representing Queensland electorates took no part in the debate. It is a pity - and this is not a reflection on the Chair in any way - that this National Parliament is permitted to be a place where dirty linen can be washed by any political party. For the reason I have stated, Labour party members from Queensland kept out of the debate.

I want to make some reference, not to the speech of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), who appears in this House as the sole anti-Communist, but to the speech of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce). The honorable member, for Capricornia made some most extraordinary statements last week about the president of the Labour party in Queensland, Mr. Bukowski. I am' a member of the Queensland central executive. I would expect that at least Government members on the front bench would have some decency, because to me this matter is vitally important. It is just as important to me to-day as a similar situation was to many of those members - not all of them, not the hillbilly boys who have just come into it - when they were faced with it in 1941. To me, it is a matter of vital importance. It is a reflection on the intelligence of honorable members when statements such as those made by the honorable member for Capricornia last week are made by men elected to this Parliament. For example, the honorable member accused Mr. Bukowski of being a member of the Mackay branch of the Comm'unist party in 1942. Let me tell honorable members that Mr. Bukowski was not in Mackay in 1 942. He was in Bundaberg, in the central district, in 1942 and had not been in Mackay for a considerable period. Whether a person can live in Bundaberg and be a member of the Communist party in Mackay, only the honorable member for Capricornia can say.

The accusation was made by the honorable member for Capricornia against the President of the Australian Labour party in Queensland that he was a member of the Mackay branch of the Communist party in 1942. I point out that Mr. Bukowski's son was fighting and was killed in action at Kokoda while the honorable member for Capricornia was a conscientious objector. Mr. Bukowski and his son, who was killed fighting for this country, have nothing to fear in comparison with the honorable member for Capricornia, who sits back now and sneers, smears and sniggles.

As to the dispute in Queensland, let me say this: If I did not observe the Standing Orders, I would find myself outside; and, if I did it often enough, I would find myself permanently outside. If the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) had not said the things he did, would he be sitting in the back benches or would he be sitting on the front bench to-night? Who put him on the back bench? He is only one example of what can be done when any one bucks the machine. What happened in Queensland was that somebody decided that he would not observe the rules of the Labour party, and he got what he deserved. Any man who is not prepared to be loyal and observe the rules of his party, no matter what party it is, deserves to be put out of it.

That is exactly what happened in Queensland. Mr. Bukowski did not put Gair out; he is only one member of the Queensland central executive. I am another member of the Queensland central executive. Because Gair refused to accept, obey and conform to the rules of the Australian Labour party, he found himself out - and it was not Bukowski solely who put him out.

I put it in all sincerity to members of this House that when matters of this kind are introduced and discussed here, the least we should be able to expect is that people will be honest, decent and truthful in their approach. But the honorable member for Capricornia comes here and, without any compunction, brands anybody he does not like as a Communist. I wish to tell the House that in 1942 Bukowski was a member of the Mineral Resources Committee. This was at the time when his only son was prepared to give his life for his country. In case the honorable member for Capricornia is confused about names, I point out that I am speaking about Bukowski, not Buluski. Mr. Bukowski was fighting Communists, and not with lip-service. He did not come into a sanctuary in order to attack the character of a man and not be game enough to say the same thing in the open where this man could defend himself. He was out on the job with other members of the trade union movement fighting Communists, not with his lips but with his fists. He took the physical risks that union officials took in their fight against communism at that time.

I know that I get a little " het up " about this matter, Mr. Speaker, but I find it nauseating when honorable members come into this House time and time again, assail the characters of men and accuse them of being Communists because they disagree with them politically.

How many times have we heard this great member for Capricornia, who has been offered a portfolio in a NicklinMorris government - God help Queensland if the honorable member is to be a Minister in the next Cabinet-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

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