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Tuesday, 22 November 1960

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) .- I move -

In proposed section 24aa, sub-section (1.), omit " or sabotage. ".

The word " sabotage " is not defined in this proposed new section. It is useful to recall a passage between the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) on this very subject. We are familiar with the special pleading of the Minister for Labour and National Service: We know that he is frequently short on facts; it is a pity that in this instance he was short on law. The Leader of the Opposition stated -

Proposed new section 24aa would treat as treachery ... an attempt to overthrow the Constitution of the Commonwealth by sabotage, but sabotage is not defined.

The Minister interjected -

Have a look at proposed new section 24ab.

The Leader of the Opposition said -

I will come to proposed new section 24ab in due course.

When the Minister spoke, he said -

I come now to the second objection, that relating to sabotage. Clause 24ab is the relevant provision. To illustrate the confusion in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition, I mention that he first made the astonishing statement that there was no definition of " sabotage ". Later he corrected himself and referred to what " sabotage " actually meant as set out in clause 24ab.

What the Leader of the Opposition said is perfectly correct. There is no definition of " sabotage " in proposed new section 24aa which deals with treachery. It is quite plain that the definition of " sabotage " in proposed new section 24ab which carries the marginal note " Sabotage ", relates to that section alone. Indeed, the very first words of the section are, " In this section, ' act of sabotage. ' means . . . " Sabotage is included here in the comprehensive spirit in which the AttorneyGeneral has ransacked the criminal legislation of all the English-speaking countries to find something that could be made a fresh crime.It is true that the word " sabotage " is used in the same sentence as this in section 30a of the principal act, where it is one of the ingredients of the propaganda which qualifies an association to be declared unlawful, in Part Ha. But there is no definition of sabotage there, either, and it is pretty plain from reading section 30a that sabotage there refers to a course of conduct. Sabotage in the proposed new section refers probably to a single act.

We certainly believe that it should be a crime to do anything with intent to overthrow the Constitution by revolution or to overthrow by force or violence the established government of the Commonwealth or a State, but we believe that sabotage is too indefinite a term to import in that connexion. It need not be force or violence; it certainly need not amount to revolution. It is an undefined term. It does not occur, as. far as I am aware, in any State act in Australia. It does not occur, as far as L am. aware, in any British act. It does not occur, as far as I am. aware, in: any. Commonwealth- act other than in section 30a of the Crimes Act, and proposed new section 24ab imported by this> bill. We believe that there is no need for it in this proposed- section. If sabotage in a defined sense is committed, it comes within the penalties imposed by proposed new section 24ab, and they can amount to imprisonment for fifteen years. We think that sabotage; properly defined, is a crime and is adequately punished', in the subsequent section. We see no need, to put in anundefined new term: in. this new offence 06 treachery.

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