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Wednesday, 19 October 1949


Mr TURNBULL (Wimmera) . - The States suffered great losses from the coal strike and the Australian Government must recompense them for their losses. I agree with the bill in that respect. Many people in the community who suffered grave losses in the strike can never be recompensed. I represent an important wheat-growing constituency. The wheat-farmers lost heavily because of the strike. The

International Wheat Agreement came into force on the 1st August when the coal strike was at its height. Before the 1st August, wheat was worth 3s. a bushel more than it was worth after that date. The coal strike prevented the shipment of large quantities of wheat. Had that wheat been shipped, it would have returned 3s. a bushel more than it eventually returned. Therefore, the wheatgrowers lost 3s. a bushel on all the wheat which was held up at ports. I asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) whether the farmers would be recompensed for that loss, but the Minister said " Certainly not ! ". I realize that the wheat-growers are only one section of the primary producers, but, owing to fortuitous circumstances, their losses from the coal strike were especially heavy. Things would not be so bad if the payment of this money to the States would do away altogether with communistic interferences with industry. But it will not do so. For too long, members of the Government said in this chamber that communism was nothing to be afraid of, and asked what a few Communists could do. They also pointed out how poorly the Communists polled at general elections. But the Communist is not anxious to win seats in Parliament. His main object, as the agent of a foreign power, is to disrupt industry. He made a great success of it in the coal strike. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) have claimed in speeches that the Government had a great victory over the Communists in the coal strike, but I cannot see any victory for the Government when we have to pay £8,000,000 to the States to compensate them for their losses, when millions of pounds were lost by all sections of the community and when the Communists are as strong as ever. Ever 9ince I have been a member of the House of Representatives, I have said that communism should be banned, but the Communists are still at work and they will disrupt industry again before long. During the strike, some Communists were put in gaol. They were later released. I listened to the news session of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in which their release was announced. The commentator said that six of the eight men who had been released had immediately returned to their posts as secretaries or as other leading officials of the trade unions. He then said : " Mr. Healy and Mr. Roach have gone for a short holiday, after which they will return to control " - those were the words used, and they meant." control of the unions". While the Communists have control of the unions, we shall always have strikes, shortages of production and all the evils that are in line with the Communist doctrine. I favour the payment of this money, but I regret the circumstances that make its payment necessary. I am sure that we have not seen the end of the working of the Communists, and that we shall not see the end until we have a government strong enough to ban the Communist party. The Prime Minister has said, on countless occasions, " If you ban the Communists, you drive them underground ". But, while they are a ' legal association, nothing can be done with them. We have asked the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron) whether he will disconnect the telephones in certain buildings occupied by the Communists. His answer is " No, we cannot do that, for the Communist party is a legal organization, and, therefore, we cannot touch it". That is perfectly true, but I cannot understand why we should allow in this country the legal existence of an organization that practices such treason in disrupting industry, as necessitates the payment of this money and causes huge financial loss to the community. The Government should strike at the root of the trouble. I am a man who moves about the country and talk with people, and many think as I do. Until we have a government strong enough to take action against the Communists, we shall continue to experience the disruption of industry and we shall have little chance of getting the production that we need.







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