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Thursday, 29 September 1949


Mr SHEEHAN (COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He did not have an opportunity to provide proof because the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) took advantage of the forms of the House to waste a good deal of the Minister's time. The Minister was attempting to explain Labour's socialization objective and the declaration that has gone with that objective ever since 1921. [Quorum formed.] The tactics employed by the honorable member for Wentworth during the speech of the Minister for Works and Housing will make the people suspicious of the Opposition because the use of such tactics arises from the fact that the Opposition is afraid to have the complete declaration made familiar to the people. Actually the socialization objective and the accompanying declaration have received no publicity whatever from any one opposed to the Labour party. Instead, our opponents are always producing spurious arguments against the objective. The objective is the " socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange ". The declaration on that objective was carried at the conference of the Australian Labour party in 1921, and was re-affirmed at the triennial conference of the party that was held in Canberra recently as last year. Here are the exact words of the declaration -

That the Australian Labour Party proposes Collective Ownership for the purpose of preventing exploitation, and to whatever extent maybe necessary for that purpose;

That wherever private ownership is a means of exploitation it is opposed by the Party; but,

That the Party does not seek to abolish private ownership, even of any of the instruments of production, where such instrument is utilized by its owner in a socially useful manner and without exploitation.

Because the Opposition fears that objective and regards the declaration as an attempt to explain the objective away, I shall ask honorable members opposite this: Do the Leader of the Opposition and his party believe in exploitation? Do they believe that the owners of any instruments of production should be' allowed to utilize them in anything but a socially useful manner, that is to say, as a means of exploitation? The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr.. Blain) said that in a speech at Newcastle this week, a Catholic divine, Dr. Ryan had spoken against socialism and had said that it would lead to the abolition of private enterprise. I think that Dr. Ryan would certainly speak in defence of private ownership, but not in defence of monopolists. The Labour party declaration on the socialization objective is also in defence of private ownership, where there is no exploitation. I shall quote a clear-cut statement by Archbishop Mannix, of Melbourne, of what he considers that the Labour party's objectivemeans. I read the following extract from the Advocate, Melbourne: - "We are hearing much about the plank in the Labour platform for the nationalization of production, distribution and exchange ", said Dr. Mannix. " But nobody seems to have remembered that when the plank was inserted in the Labour platform it was carried against a strong minority ... On the following day the same conference, by a majority, gave an interpretation of that plank, which differs little, if at all, from the pronouncement made by the bishops in the pamphlet that was circulated last Sunday. " The strange thing," continued His Grace, " is that the opponents of the Australian Labour party assert that it is the policy of thatparty to nationalize everything from the banks down to the smallest shop in Brunswick. But what to my mind is stranger still is that the Labour party has never made the least reference to the official interpretation which might easily satisfy even the most exacting Catholic Actionist."

According to another report, Archbishop Mannix said -

Might I trespass on you for a moment to refer to something quite new to me that I read in the News Weekly last week. Probably I should have been better informed. We are hearing much about the plank in the Labour platform for the nationalization of production, distribution and exchange. But nobody seems to have remembered that when the plank was inserted in the Labour platform it was carried against a strong minority. There was a great deal of heart-burning and heartsearching in the minds of those at that conference who put the new plank into the Labour platform. On the following day the same conference, by a majority, gave an interpretation of that plank, which differs little, if at all, from the pronouncement made by the bishops in the pamphlet that was circulated last Sunday. In this interpretation it was set out by the Labour conference that nationalization did not mean opposition to private property or that all production, distribution and exchange should be nationalized. It was made clear that only those things which otherwise would be exploited, to the injury of the community, should be nationalized. As far as I can see, this is exactly what the bishops in the pamphlet have set out. The strange thing is that opponents of the Australian Labour party assert that it is the policy of that party to nationalize everything from the banks down to the smallest shop in Brunswick. But what to my mind is stranger still is that the Labour party has never made the least reference to the official interpretation which might easily satisfy even the most exacting Catholic Actionist. I assume that what I read in the News Weekly is a correct narrative.


Mr Holloway - When was that statement made?


Mr SHEEHAN - The report from which I just read was published in the Advocate on the 23rd September of last year. Members of the Liberal party pretend to believe, and they seek by specious arguments to lead the people to believe, that the Australian Labour party, because of its objective is allied with the Communist party. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Australian Labour party hates and detests communism. It will have no truck with Communists. It not only spurns the Communists' sneaking pretence to align themselves on the side of the workers, but also opposes Communists politically, in the trade unions and in every field of social activity.


Mr Harrison - I rise to order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I should like you to rule, first, whether the honorable member himself wrote the speech he is reading; and, secondly, whether he is in order in reading it.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Sheehy - The honorable member has not raised a point of order. Honorable members in all parts of the chamber frequently read from copious notes and quote from newspaper articles, and that practice is followed more generally in budget debates.


Mr SHEEHAN - The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) is a little confused because honorable members on this side will no longer sit back and "take" the Opposition's spurious attacks upon the Labour party's objective. Supporters of the Labour party rarely get an opportunity to explain the party's attitude towards the Communist party, and when we do so, the newspapers refuse to give publicity to our statements. Two conferences of the Labour party have been held recently, the first having been the federal triennial conference and the second the conference of the New South Wales branch of the party. Both of those conferences carried resolutions condemning the Communist party, but neither of the resolutions was published in the newspapers. Therefore, I take this opportunity to read them for the benefit of honorable members opposite. The following resolution was carried at the eighteenth triennial Federal conference of the Labour party which was held at Canberra on the 27th September of last year : -

The conference reaffirms its repudiation of the methods and principles of the Communist party and the decisions of previous conferences that" between the Communist party and the Labour party there is such basic hostility and differences that no Communist can be a member of the Labour party. No Communist auxiliary or subsidiary can be associated with the Labour party in any activity and no Labour party branch or member can co-operate with the Communist party.

2.   The conference further declares that the policy and the actions of the Communist party demonstrate that that party's methods and objects aim at the destruction of the democratic way of life of the Australian people and the establishment in its place of a totalitarian form of government which would destroy our existing democratic institutions and the personal liberty of the Australian people. We therefore declare that the Australian Labour party, through its branches, affiliations and members must carry on an increasing campaign directed at destroying the influence of the Communist party wherever such exists throughout Australia.

3.   We affirm that the Labour movement offers the most effective and safest method of preserving democratic liberties, or protecting and improving workers' living standards, and we -

(a)   Congratulate those sections of the Labour movement who are carrying on a persistent and determined campaign against Com munist influence in their respective organizations; and

(b)   In order that the menace of the Communist party might be understood by all, we recommend to the Executive that it prepare and issue a report on the workings and policies of the Com munist party in Australia.

At present two by-elections are being held in New South Wales ; one in a country electorate and the other in a metropolitan electorate. Although the Communist party has nominated a candidate in each instances, neither the Liberal party nor the Australian Country party has done so. Probably they realize that they would suffer the same fate as they suffered in the two by-elections recently held in Queensland. However, there is a fight on in those two current byelections, and the Labour party alone has been left to fight the Communists in each of them. I shall now read the resolution relating to communism that was passed at the last annual conference of the New South Wales branch of the Labour party -

The conference declares that now is the time for a more determined drive by Labour people for democratic ideals and against Communist intrigue and infiltration. Regardless of past failures the Communist party will intensify its demands to force political strikes on the Australian people. We can, therefore, expect a continuation of the campaign of sabotage against Labour governments. Labour should anticipate these inspired attempts to create discontent in industry which could easily result in the slowing down and hampering of production, on which our national prosperity and the welfare of our people depend. Labour can also expect increased attempts in efforts to infiltrate and destroy the Labour movement from within. Therefore, Labour party members in association with properly constituted Australian Labour party industrial groups by exercising maximum influence on the job, through their trade unions and in defence of working-class standards, could play a decisive part in countering this Communist conspiracy.

We declare that now is the time for all Labour people to combine on a sustained campaign against Communist intrigue, infiltration and interference with trade union rights. We instruct the incoming executive to issue a continuous supply of literature, and to use all methods of propaganda to expose the tactics of communism. We state emphatically, that the members of the Labour party have shown their capacity to deal with the danger of communism by open attack more successfully than by the 'imposition of a ban which would drive the Communists underground, or by the introduction of legal measures which could interfere with trade union rights. We believe that the law airit now stands provides adequate safeguards, and that increased legislative powers could easily tend to create a sense of false security, whereas we require Labour party members to play an increasingly active part inside and within the rules of their respective trade unions, in the belief that an aroused and active trade union movement is our best safeguard. This conference acknowledges our movement as progressive, powerful and inspiring, and we record with pride the achievements of Labour, including a policy of full employment, and its programme of industrial and social reform as a further effective means of combating communism.


Mr Harrison - In other words, use words but not action.


Mr SHEEHAN - The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison 1 has heard what the conference declared.

Honorable members interjecting,







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