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Tuesday, 22 November 1960

Mr CASH (Stirling) - The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) referred to the political behaviour of a particular section of the community and the effect of those proposed amendments on that section. Remembering many of the speeches of the honorable member for Yarra, I wonder what section of the community he has in mind. I recall that one section of our community, the Communist Party, is pledged to the overthrow of the Constitution of this Commonwealth and is strongly protesting against the amendments proposed by this measure.

The amendments before the committee assume real importance when one refers back to the findings of the Victorian royal commission on communism. The commission's report stated amongst other things that the aims and objects of the Communist Party in Australia are to overthrow the State, to smash the existing State machine, to introduce socialism by expropriating the present ownership of the means of production and distribution - which, of course, is what the Labour Party calls nationalization - and, ultimately, to introduce communism throughout the land. I remind the committee of the High Court judgment which ruled against the validity of the Communist Party Dissolution Act and which disclosed grave defects in the power of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, in time of peace, to protect this nation against treacherous agents acting for a foreign power - agents who are quick to invoke,, either themselves or through their spokesmen, the names of freedom and justice whilst working to engineer the destruction of the foundations upon which freedom and justice rest.

Dr. Evattmade this statement

From the point of view of the Australian Labour Party, it is a fundamental proposition that any person who attempts to endanger in any way the internal security or defence of the country can be, and should be dealt with under the laws contained in the Crimes Act. ... If the existing criminal law needs strengthening in these respects, the Labour Party will support amendments to it.

The present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) had this to say -

There are also sections of the original act, the Crimes Act 1914-1959, which the Opposition believes should be revised by the Parliament. . . . The clauses of the present bill ... to which the Opposition takes the strongest possible exception . . . are provisions which deal with . . the offences which the bill calls treason, treachery, sabotage.

Dr. Evattmust have considered that there were weaknesses in the Crimes Act, because this committee will recall that when Communist threats were made to hold up work on the guided missiles testing range, the then Labour Government secured the passage of the Approved Defence Projects Act which prescribed penalties for any boycott of defence projects. It will also be recalled (hat when the Communist Party attempted to sabotage production in this country by fomenting a general coal strike in 1949, the then Labour Government secured the passage of the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act. The Opposition has expressed opposition to this and other amendments to the existing Crimes Act. It is interesting that in no speech on these amendments has any speaker for the Labour Party spoken out against communism in Australia or used the danger of communism in support of any argument he has presented on these amendments. Let us again examine section 24aa, which states -

A person shall not do any act or thing in an attempt to overthrow the Constitution of the Commonwealth by revolution or sabotage-

We are reminded at once of the aims of the Communist Party of Australia, as outlined by the royal commission on communism. Is it any wonder that at this very moment, and indeed since the amendments were first announced, the Communist Party has been organizing a supreme effort to defeat the amendments which are now before the committee? Are we surprised to see the amendments attacked by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) and his ghost writer, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns)? We have further proof of their efforts to sabotage this bill. All honorable members will recall that certain Labour members were sooling the Communists onto Government members right here in King's Hall in this Parliament House, only a few weeks ago. The Communists were protesting against the very amendment we are now discussing. In reference to these protests I quote from the Communist " Tribune " of Wednesday, 9th November, when it referred to these protest delegations in the following terms: -

There were rank and file members of both the Australian Labour Party and the Communist Party. On reaching Parliament House the deputations divided into 12 working groups. These groups, assisted by a number of Labour members, including the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths), the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and others set out to interview Government party representatives.

What the " Tribune " really meant was that the Communists set out to waylay members of this Parliament in King's Hall and it is a tragic thought for this country that they were assisted by Labour members of this Parliament. We know that the rank and file of Labour Party members opposite are opposed to communism, but there are others, as we all know, who are always plugging, the Communist line. They have been most vocal against these amendments. But many honorable members opposite are glad that the gag has been used by the Government. Some of the Labour members who have not spoken are in favour of all the amendments put forward by the Attorney-General, and no wonder, because these amendments will ease the minds of all freedom-loving people and will result in a sound piece of legisation that will be Australia's Rock' of Gibraltar for the future security of this nation.

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