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Thursday, 13 April 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT (Higgins) (Treasurer) . - I move -

That the House do now adjourn.

I take this opportunity to clarify one or two matters which the forms of the House prevented me from making fully known last night. By way of interjection, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) charged me with having misstated the position of Mr. Chamberlain, the federal secretary of the Australian Labour Party, in respect of a reported account of an interview with Mr. Chamberlain which had appeared in the " New York Times ". It is not clear to me whether the interview was on 27th February or whether the report appeared in the " New York Times " on that date.

Anyhow, the passage from the report of the interview with Mr. Chamberlain which I quoted in good faith in this House some time ago, knowing that the " New York Times " is a reputable newspaper and that Mr. Homer Bigart is recognized as a very competent and reputable reporter, who has been awarded a Pulitzer prize for accurate reporting, I understand, was in these terms-

He (Mr. Chamberlain) could not see why the United States, now that it has a new Administration, should have any qualms about letting Taiwan go to Communist China. Face could be saved by quietly fomenting a revolution in Taiwan against Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, he suggested. The United States did this in Seoul to get rid of Syngman Rhee and it could do it in Taipei, said Mr. Chamberlain seriously.

That was my quotation from the " New York Times " report. The Sydney " Daily Telegraph " included that particular passage in its issue on 1st March, 1961.

Yesterday I was told that Mr. Chamberlain had denied the accuracy of that report. I asked whether some evidence of that could be supplied to me and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has given me a copy of a letter dated 3rd March, written by Mr. Chamberlain to the " Daily Telegraph " newspaper. I quote the following relevant portion from it - . . I have not been correctly reported by the New York Times correspondent, H. Bigart

I informed Mr. Bigart that the policy of the Labour Party had been, for some years, to advocate the recognition of mainland China, which would make a real contribution to world peace. I said that I felt that during the first period of office of President Kennedy this would also become the policy of the U.S.A.

I went on to say that the impact of world events would change thinking on this question in the same way that events in Korea had changed the thinking of America towards Syngman Rhee.

I also said that in my view there was no basic difference between Chiang Kai shek and Syngman Rhee.

That is the end of the letter. If Mr. Chamberlain's version is to be accepted - I have merely given the House the facts - apparently this reputable reporter has done a think-piece about fomenting revolution in Formosa, as he claims Mr. Chamberlain sard the Americans had done in Korea. I have put the facts. To me they are not tremendously important, but I wanted to deal fairly with the matter since it had been raised.

The more important point is that, so far as I am aware, there has been no denial at any time by the federal president of the A.L.P., Mr. Stout, of the statement that I made last night that at the Victorian Labour Party conference in 1960 he went on record -as saying that he voted for the Communist Party in preference to the Liberal Party and the Democratic Labour Party. The current federal president of the A.L.P. prefers to vote for the Communist Party rather than the Australian parties represented in this Parliament. I think honorable gentlemen opposite will agree that it is no secret that Mr. Stout, the same federal president of the A.L.P., is a very staunch advocate of the right of the trade unions to use unity tickets if they wish to do so.

Mr Calwell - No, he is not.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - Does the Leader of the Opposition seriously tell me that Mr. Stout has not argued vigorously in recent years for the view, for which the State executive of the Victorian Labour Party has persistently contended, that there shall be no interference by the political movement with , the manner in which union elections are held? What my namesake, who sat in this place, said on this matter, has been quoted. That has been repeatedly put forward as the view of the Victorian executive. The Leader of the Opposition was going into the Victorian executive to try to clean up the situation, but he discovered that the odds were against him and he made a retreat from Moscow, which I have no doubt he was very glad to do at the time.

I am putting it to honorable gentlemen opposite that both their federal president and federal secretary in recent years have been active supporters of the view that the unions should have the right to conduct their elections as they wish. I am giving that as my understanding of the facts. We have a situation in which the official policy of the party is not the policy held by the federal president and the federal secretary. I have here in my hand an issue of the official journal of the Australian Workers Union, numerically the largest union in Australia and, I think, historically the oldest. In this recent issue of 10th April it is made quite clear that unless this matter of unity tickets is satisfactorily resolved, at least the Queensland branch - it was in that State that the Australian

Workers Union had and, for all I know, still has its greatest strengths - will not reaffiliate with the A.L.P. I quote the following words from the front page - honorable gentlemen opposite may check it if they wish -

This practice has already distorted A.L.P. policy in the States, particularly in Victoria, and any ' attempt to make it easier for Communists to employ this method of drawing the life-blood from the A.L.P. would mean, almost certainly, that the Queensland Branch of the Australian Workers' Union would not proceed further with its approach to re-affiliate with the Queensland Branch of the Australian Labour Party - a step which would probably receive the backing and co-operation of other branches of the Union by their withdrawal from the A.LJ*.

Time will not permit me to deal with this matter elaborately.

The point I was trying to make last night is that the A.L.P., by virtue of its constitution and structure, has found itself saddled with this Communist alliance, whether it likes it or not. The penetration has been going on. We know that unions, great in numerical and financial strength, are under the control of Communists. There will be no denial of that. Will honorable gentlemen opposite deny that those unions are affiliated with the A.L.P., that they pay capitation fees for their membership into the funds of the A.L.P., and that their members have the right to participate in ballots for the election of honorable gentlemen opposite? In the Australian Workers Union, from whose journal I have just quoted - I am not saying that it is a Communist union, of course - it is well known that the practice is to issue a union ticket year by year and attached to the union ticket is a voting coupon. It is the widely known practice of the union official to tear off the voting coupon as he hands the ticket to the member who has made himself financial for that year. With those tickets in his pocket he can go along and exercise that number of votes when a ballot is held for the election of officers.

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