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Wednesday, 24 August 1960


Mr ASTON (Phillip) (12:20 PM) .- I apologize for speaking at this late hour, but I believe that the attitude of the Australian Labour Party towards all kinds of levies should be disclosed. When the levies that the Waterside Workers Federation tried to impose on the Hurseys were discussed in the Parliament, members of the Labour Party displayed a great reluctance to debate the matter. They have also shown a great reluctance to debate the subject of unity tickets. Just a few weeks ago I challenged the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who is seated in the chamber, and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who has just come in, to state where they stood on the matter of unity tickets.

We now find that the Australian Council of Trade Unions proposes a levy on unionists. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke, he did not say a word about the subject. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who is a senior member of the Labour Party executive, followed the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), but he did not make any reference to the levies. As usual, the honorable member tried to digress from the theme of the debate. He commenced by referring to a levy on wool-growers. What a contrast there is between a levy imposed on wool-growers and a levy imposed on the unionists of Australia to bring people into this country from Communist countries for an ulterior purpose. I ask honorable members opposite: Was that the attitude of the Labour Party ten, fifteen or twenty years ago? Of course, it was not.


Mr Pollard - Mind your own business.


Mr ASTON - I will mind my own business. The honorable member for Moreton has raised a matter that is of great importance to the Australian worker. The Australian workers are supposed to support the Labour Party, but we find that they repeatedly return a Liberal-Country Party Government to the treasury bench. I believe they do it because the Labour Party and its members are suspect.

The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) said that we continually drag in the red bogy. Let us look at the red bogy and see in just what way honorable members opposite subscribe to communism. No one can deny that the peace conference that was held in this country recently was Communist inspired, was Communist run, and at the same time was aided and abetted by members of the Labour Party. What have honorable members opposite done? Only last week they elected to the executive of their party a man who will be a member of the Cabinet should Labour regain the treasury bench. They elected a man who has left-wing views, who is a socialist, who aided and abetted the holding of the peace conference and who assisted in welcoming delegates to it. That man is the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). He undoubtedly is a left-wing man and is a Communist sympathiser.

I remind the House that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) is at present in Japan attending a peace conference, to which reference was made to-day by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when replying to a question. What has happened in Japan should be a lesson to right-wing members of the Labour Party and should have a sobering effect upon them. Mao Tse-tung sent to all the delegates to the conference a telegram congratulating them upon their efforts to attend.

Let us return to the matter of levies on unionists. In this chamber last night were two German people who came to Australia as representatives of the German trade union movement. They were brought into the chamber by the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay). Their only claim to fame in this country is the reference to them in the " Tribune " and the " Guardian ". They are Mrs. Gertrud Worner and Mr. G. Waterstaradt. To-night three members of the Opposition attended a dinner that was given in their honour. The imposition of these levies upon Australian unionists is obnoxious, and I wish to congratulate those trade unions which have had the guts to disobey the instruction, or not to conform with the edict of the A.C.T.U., four of the members of which are known Communists and five of whom always support the Communist cause. On this occasion the Australian trade unionists have woken up to the Labour Party and to the A.C.T.U. I appeal to the trade unionists of this country not to pay this levy, which has been imposed for the purpose of bringing to this country Communists from overseas to aid and abet not only the Labour Party but also the Communists who are white-anting Australia and are a blot upon this community.

I direct the attention of honorable members to a statement in the " Tribune " to the effect that these persons, Mrs. Worner and M.r. Waterstaradt. were welcomed to Canberra by the president of the Plasterers Union. Members of the Building Workers Industrial Union in Canberra, and of the Plasterers Union, have been levied 10s. a quarter to pay for the visit of these Communists to Australia. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to indicate where he stands on this matter. I ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who is a notorious fence-sitter, whether he is prepared to indicate in this chamber his attitude to it. Does he support the imposition of these levies, or does he not? I believe we will find that the Leader of the Opposition will do as he usually does, and as he did in relation to the subject of unity tickets, and will say that he is not disturbed by it. Let me tell him that the people of Australia are disturbed about the unity ticket issue. Let me remind the honorable member of what his predecessor, to whom so many honorable members opposite gave their allegiance, said on the unity ticket issue. A report in the " Daily Telegraph " of 8th May reads-

The Labour leader, Dr. Evatt, to-day told the A.L.P. Federal Executive that it must grasp the nettle of unity tickets. Communist infiltration might destroy the Labour Party if the tickets continued.

I say to honorable members opposite and to the people of Australia that if the Labour Party does not take action against unity tickets, not only will it continue on the road to destruction but also immeasurable harm will be caused to the people of Australia and to the great trade union movement which this rabble of a party is reputed to represent.


Mr Calwell - What do you think of Sid Einfeld's chances?


Mr ASTON - I do not want to bring sectarian issues into politics as the Leader of the Opposition has just done, and as he did during a broadcast recently. 1 think it is absolutely despicable of the Leader of the Opposition, whose party could form the alternative government of this country, to introduce the names of religious people into debate by way of innuendo. Not only can he not refrain on this occasion; in the great debate on television last Sunday evening, he could not keep to the great financial issues, but again had to drag in Santamaria and the angel of death. Is this a .....rt. hl attitude for the Leader of the Opposition to adopt? I believe that the Australian people think it is not.







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