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Wednesday, 7 September 1960

Mr WARD (East Sydney)

Whilst I recognize that the subjects already raised in this debate are most important, they are not nearly as important as the growing menace of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. It has been said that we have a democratic form of government, and for many years we did not need a secret service. Everybody knows the circumstances in which such a service was established by a Labour government. Pressure was exerted from overseas and the action was forced on the Labour government of the day. But Labour recognized the dangers and took the precaution of putting the organization under the control of a judge, a civil authority. Since this Government has been in office, the control of the organization has been changed and it has now become a semi-military body. It has developed into a secret political police force and it is a real threat to the democratic way of life that we have enjoyed.

Each year, the Budget Papers show that this organization is becoming more expensive. We are not given any details of the organization, the number of employees in it or the salaries which they receive; we merely get a bald statement of the total cost! The items dealing with this organization are hidden away in the miscellaneous items of the Budget Papers. In doing this, I believe that the Government hoped that the item would not be noticed until the opportunity to discuss it had passed. However, we find that this year the Security Service will cost approximately £92,000 more than it did last year.

Mr Turnbull - On a point of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. If this is in the miscellaneous items, is that not the place where it should be discussed?


Order! The subject raised by the honorable member is under the administration of the Prime Minister.

Mr Turnbull - I was only taking what the honorable member had said himself.

Mr WARD - The honorable member only wanted to delay me, because he hopes there will not be very much said about this secret organization.

Mr Turnbull - Nothing was further from my mind.

Mr WARD - In actual fact, there is real danger to democratic government in this country, because we not only have the establishment and development of a secret police force but we also have in control of the Government a gentleman who, on his past record, would not hesitate to set up a dictatorship and destroy democratic government, if he thought the circumstances warranted doing so. I shall quote from " Hansard " so that we will have complete accuracy. Yesterday I asked the Prime

Minister (Mr. Menzies) a question regarding a statement made by SirJohn Latham, who is a former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and a former antiLabour leader in this Parliament. Sir John Latham revealed that in 1940 he had proposed the setting up of a six-man committee. Parliament was to be closed and democratic government destroyed. We would be governed by this dictatorial committee, of which Sir John Latham was to be a member and of which the Prime Minister approved. When I asked him the question, he replied -

The honorable member for East Sydney is inviting me to look up the records of twenty years ago in order to add to his knowledge of modern history.I really do not consider that to be part of my duty at this stage of my life.

It is rather significant that the Prime Minister did not deny what Sir John Latham said. Does any one believe that there was any possibility of the Prime Minister having forgotten such an incident? He would not have to look up any records; it is fresh in his memory that the suggestion was to set up a dictatorship in Australia. Here we have the paraphernalia. We have a secret police force and we have a Prime Minister who has admitted that at one stage in our history he was prepared to eliminate entirely our democratic government.

Mr Buchanan - I rise on a point of order. Is the honorable member for East Sydney in order in continuing with this tedious repetition, wasting the time of the committee?


Order! There is no substance in the point of order.

Mr WARD - Let me deal with some of the criticism of the activities of this organization. Time will not permit me in this debate to go through the whole of the evidence available to show the malpractice engaged in by this organization and the wrongful use it has made of its authority. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), who is in one respect responsible for the activities of the Security Service, said that, although he was the responsible Minister, he refused to answer any questions about the organization or to give any details regarding its activities. I think the people of Australia want to know something of what the Security Service is doing.

We have the much publicized incident that has been mentioned in the Parliament on a number of occasions. I refer to the matter of Professor Gluckman. I think the Security Service is behind the rejection of his application for permission to enter the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. It is perfectly true that the Administrator of the Territory made the order, but I believe that he did so on directions from the Security Service in Australia. We are now in rather a strange position. Here is a professor, a renowned scientist and scholar from overseas, who was invited to visit Australia by the authorities controlling the Australian National University. He is allowed to enter Australia. But if he is a security risk in New Guinea, as is now hinted by the Government - the statements made about this matter have not been very specific - why is he allowed to enter Australia? Is he not a security risk in Australia just as much as he would be in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? It seems to me most extraordinary that this gentleman is permitted to enter Australia on the invitation of the authorities controlling the Australian National University and then, without any reason being given, is refused permission to enter the Territory. Even part of the antiLabour press that has backed this dictatorial Government for so long is now becoming alarmed at what is happening. We want to know something more about this matter. However, as certain action is shortly to be taken by the Opposition to ventilate this matter fully, I do not propose to take my remarks any further on this occasion.

I shall relate to the committee another extraordinary activity in which the Security Service has been engaged. A young man, in response to a newspaper advertisement, recently applied for a position as a legal officer in the Attorney-General's Department. His application was held up for some weeks. There were several interviews--

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.

Mr WARD - Before the suspension of the sitting I was dealing with the growth of this force known as the " security service ", and the real threat it was becoming to democratic government in Australia. I made some reference to the case of Professor Gluckman, and I then proceeded to deal with a later incident concerning the activities of this organization. As I have only about six minutes left in which to speak 1 propose now to give some details of this case, which I believe should be immediately ventilated in this Parliament and investigated by the Government.

I refer to the case of a young chap who applied, in response to a newspaper advertisement, for a position in the AttorneyGeneral's Department. The applications were invited in March this year. The vacancy was for a legal officer. The applications were under consideration for approximately ten weeks. In that time the applicants - certainly this one at least - were interviewed on several occasions. The man whose case I am discussing was the successful applicant. He was appointed to the position. I want to make it quite clear that the position to which he was appointed - and the man himself admits this - was definitely a position in which security was involved. The man himself makes no equivocation about that.

This man was attached to what was, or is, known as the " advising section " of the Attorney-General's Department, as a Grade 1 legal officer. His was only a temporary appointment. He started on 2nd June, 1960, and he was assured that if he applied himself to his duties and proved to be an efficient officer he could expect a continuation of his employment, and also expect that eventually he would be made a permanent officer. However, after having worked in the position for about ten weeks, handling security files, many, according to him, of the greatest importance, and having been so successfully applying himself to his duties that he was recommended for promotion by his immediate superior, without warning at all he received a note delivered by a messenger on 24th August - some ten weeks after his appointment, I repeat - informing him that his employment had ended. He was given no reason for this interruption to his employment. He sought an interview with the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), but the AttorneyGeneral refused to see him, and sent word through his secretary to the man concerned that he was to see Mr. Ewens, the acting secretary of the department. He saw Mr.

Ewens, and Mr. Ewens told him that his employment had been terminated for security reasons based on a security report.

Now, if this man was a security risk he should not for ten weeks have been allowed to handle security files of the utmost importance. The man asked Mr. Ewens whether any charge was to be preferred against him, whether any action was to be taken under the Crimes Act for any breach of trust. He was assured that there was nothing wrong with his work, but that his dismissal was based on this security report.

At no time was this man asked whether he was a member of the Communist Party or had previously been a member. Had he been asked this, he would have honestly answered the question, because some of his co-employees in the Attorney-General's Department, whom he had known in his university days, knew that he had been associated with the Communist Party. He joined that party in 1947, and in 1956 he ran as a candidate for State Parliament. He was expelled from the Communist Party in November, 1956, after he had written an article critical of the suppression by the Australian Communist Party of Mr. Khrushchev's denunciation of the Stalin regime. On this type of flimsy evidence this man was dismissed from the department with a smear on him.

I do not know what sort of a security service it is that takes such action after applications for a position had been considered for ten weeks, after an applicant had been interviewed several times, and after that applicant had succeeded in getting the position and had for ten weeks handled official files of the greatest importance from the stand-point of security. After working for ten weeks handling these important security files, without there being any question of his having committed a breach of trust in his position, the security service declares that, for security reasons, he is an unfit person to be employed in this department.

What sort of tyranny are we building up in this country? It is a well-known fact that reports are made on public servants, without their knowledge, and that these reports are made available to their immediate superiors and may prevent men from securing promotion. Many are dismissed from the Public Service on the basis of security reports, and are never advised of the reasons, nor are they given the right to answer those who may traduce them or besmirch their records.

I think it is about time that the people of this country demanded that something be done about this security service, which is not a security service in the sense that its members are engaged exclusively in protecting the security of this country. Nobody would object if they were. But since this Government has had control of affairs in Australia this has become nothing but a political police force. As I said earlier, the man leading the Government to-day has dictatorial tendencies, as he showed in 1940.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock - Order! The honorable gentleman's time has expired.

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