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Thursday, 12 May 1960

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) . - I move -

That, in the opinion of this House, the truth about certain recent incidents in the Latrobe Valley should be ascertained and made public.

I find myself in full agreement with the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) that there have been deliberate stalling tactics on the part of the Opposition to prevent a full discussion of this matter. I am glad that the Leader of the House has offered to extend the time for this debate so that the Opposition will have a full opportunity to reply.

The House may ask why a small incident of this character should assume national im portance. I put the answer on three grounds: First, the Communist attempt to get control of the power supplies of Victoria by controlling the Central Gippsland Trades and Labour Council is a matter of consequence. Power is a key industry.

Secondly, I say that this matter is important because it is an example of the infiltration - or rather the re-infiltration - of the Communists into the Labour Party. This is a matter of national importance. I think the Premier of Queensland, earlier this week, using words, perhaps more colourful than I would, referred to Labour as a prostrate giant through whose body the red ants crawl at will. Indeed, a senior spokesman for the Labour Party, only a few days ago, said that he would rather support the Communists than the Australian Democratic Labour Party. This shows the extent to which opportunist and party considerations blind the members of the Labour Party, even to the extent that they will indulge in near treason - because supporting the Communists or associating with the Communists is near treason.

A third reason why I consider that this is a matter of importance is that there has been calculated deception by senior members of the A.L.P., which I will detail in a moment, to cover up their association with Communists and to cover up the success which Communists have had inside the Labour movement. I have spoken of the Communist attempt to gain control of the power supplies of Victoria. This is not an isolated attempt. I have here an industrial journal published in the United Kingdom only last month which speaks of a shop stewards' unofficial committee controlled by Communists who are endeavouring to get control of the British power system. So, this is part of a world-wide Communist plot.

Let me say something about the background at Yallourn. Honorable members will know that some nine or ten years ago the Communists succeeded in getting control of the Central Gippsland Trades and Labour Council. They were thrown out of that control by a concerted attempt by the right wing of Labour. But since 1956 it has been no longer respectable to be right wing in Labour. The Trades Hall in Melbourne, aided very largely by a man called Brebner, has been conducting a continuous and vicious campaign against the Central Gippsland Trades and Labour Council and has been endeavouring to sabotage what that council has been doing.

Let me now come to some particular matters which I will take in order of date. The first date is 29th June, 1959. At that time a unity ticket was being run by certain elements in the Australian Labour Party and the Communists for the ironworkers' elections in the Gippsland area. I shall read now from a pamphlet produced by the Federated Ironworkers Association itself -

The list of candidates just announced by the Returning Officer of the F.I.A. for the Yallourn Sub-Branch elections, reveals that despite the decision of our Union, and despite the policy of the A.L.P., members of the Labour Party in our Union have joined with the Communists and are unashamedly standing on a unity ticket. This " unity " ticket was " arranged " at a meeting in Moe, of Communists and Labourites on June 29th. The meeting was chaired by Lennie McLeod (a member of the A.L.P.) and Charlie Powling, wellknown Communist, was present and negotiated to share the ticket. (McLeod has nominated for President. Powling has nominated for VicePresident.)

Both were defeated. The information in this case comes, I believe, from a man called Taylor who is not an anti-Communist. I understand that he was present at the meeting and that he spoke rather indiscreetly. The meeting was held at McLeod's house. He is an Australian Labour Party man - so-called - and he has been prominent, as I will show, in recent events in the past few weeks in respect of this last election at Yallourn. He was secretly arranging with Communists and holding meetings at his house with Communists concerning a unity ticket. They were defeated at that time, and they thought that more subtle tactics were necessary.

The next date to which I want to come is 2nd March, 1960. On that date, the Central Gippsland Trades and Labour Council, through its secretary, Mr. Orr, wrote a letter to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). This letter says, in part - . . an all-out effort is being made by an organized force of Communists and so-called Labour men to take control of the Central Gippsland T.LC. . . . Failure by you to intervene can be taken as a refusal to take notice of a grave development - the seizure by the Communists of the means to control Victorian power supplies.

That was sent to the Leader of the Opposition on 2nd March. He must have received it because, later in that month, at Maryvale, Mr. Brebner, who is closely associated with him, was showing roneoed copies of that letter to people in Maryvale. But the Leader of the Opposition himself did not make any reply. He stood mute. He did nothing. He let things take their course.

The next date to which 1 come is 17th March, 1960. On that date a conference was held in Gippsland at the R.S.L. hall. This was a unity conference at which Communists and Labour men were present. This was a significant date. It coincided with one of the visits of the Melbourne Trades Hall Committee to Yallourn in order to bring pressure to bear to destroy the right wing in the Central Gippsland Trades and Labour Council in favour of the left wing and the Communists. I have here a statutory declaration by a Mr. Devlin, which reads as follows: -

I was present at Yallourn on March 17th when officers of the Central Gippsland T.L.C. met the officials of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council.

Melbourne officials arrived in three cars. The first contained Messrs. Llytleton (President), Brown and McNolty and a Mr. Tom Wright who is not an official of the Melbourne Council. T. Wright is Federal President' of the Sheet Metal Workers Union and is well-known as the Communist boss at A.C-T.U. congresses.

Llytleton, Brown and McNolty left Wright seated in the- back seat of the car and moved some 25 yards away to the library hall where the meeting was to take place. The second car then arrived containing V. Stout and Halliday. Mr. Stout spoke briefly to Llytleton, Brown and McNolty and then went to the car containing Wright who was still seated discreetly in the back seat. Stout then conferred with Wright for some ten minutes. The meeting then commenced. During the rest of the day Wright was sighted only once, about 2 p.m. he was observed walking down a side street away from the meeting place.

Here is a statutory declaration that a leading Communist was taken down by Mr. Stout and conferences were occurring, at any rate outside the meeting place. I do not know whether they occurred inside the meeting place or not. This is a dreadful thing. But 1 have told only part of the story. Let me read a second statutory declaration by a man called Orr. In this case it is not such a good declaration because it recounts a conversation he had with another person. I will read it to the House so that honorable members may judge its significance in the light of other things to which I will direct attention. Here is the declaration -

1.   On Monday, March 21st I was approached by a Mr. R. Shaw who is a delegate of the Amalgamated Engineering Union on the Central Gippsland Trades and Labor Council. He showed me a handwritten ticket which contained the names of a number of delegates on the Central Gippsland T.L.C.

2.   The ticket read as follows President A. Horsburgh; Vice Presidents P. Akers, D. Finn; Secretary G. Wragg; Assistant Secretary H. Gardiner; Treasurer F. Jobson; Executive Bell, Jenkins, Rawlings, Roche.

3.   Shaw stated to me that this ticket had been decided upon at a meeting of Communists and A.L.P. supporters held on March 17th at the R.S.L. Library Hall Yallourn. He (Shaw) then told me that this meeting had decided to nominate S. Armstrong a wellknown Communist for the Returning Officers position.

4.   On Tuesday 22nd in the afternoon,I was again informed by R. Shaw that A. Horsburgh had finally decided not to stand.

5.   On the night of Tuesday 22nd at the T.L.C. meeting it was seen by me that the information given to me by Shaw on the previous day was generally correct. When nominations were called that night for Returning Officer S. Armstrong was nominated for this position as the candidate for the Communist-A.L.P. " Unity " team. P. Akers was nominated for Vice-President; G. Wragg for Secretary; F. Jobson for Treasurer and Bell, Jenkins, Rawlings, Roche, for Executive Committee.

6.   I wish to state also that I was informed by R. Shaw that the following people were present at the Unity Meeting on March 17th. S. Armstrong (Communist); S. (W.) Nowak (A.L.P.); F. Jobson (A.L.P.); G. Wragg (A.L.P.); L. McLeod (A.L.P.).

I ask for leave to table this declaration.

Mr Calwell - No.

Mr WENTWORTH - Is leave refused?

Mr Calwell - Yes.

Mr WENTWORTH - I ask for leave to table also copies of the letter sent to Mr. Calwell by Mr. Orr. Is leave given?

Mr Calwell - No.

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