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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 12. June 15, 1950

How to Save Democracy

page 3

How to Save Democracy

... in one easy lesson

Our Free Press has given its customary one-eyed story of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill recently introduced in the Australian parliament by the Menzies Government. The side they do not publicise is the mass protest against the Bill from student, trade union, religious and other circles. We reprint these statements from copies of Australian university and union papers over the last few weeks:

Rev. Frank Hartley (Methodist, one of the five Victoria clergymen who accompanied the protest delegation to Canberra on April 27):

"I know there are people of all shades of opinion alive to the fact that it is the Communists today, and after they are suppressed, tomorrow it is the Jews, and then the trade unions will be split in two and then it will be the Church—and then war." Freethought Society, Melbourne University:

"We protest emphatically against the threatened ban on the Australian Communist Party. Such action is an infringement of the basic liberties which are essential to the development and progress of society..."—(Farrago, 22/3/50.)

Professor Wright (Physiology, Melbourne) :

Referring to the clause in the Bill which makes a branded "Communist" responsible for proving his innocence) :

"When you abolish an organisation and accuse a person of being a member of it, how on earth can anyone prove that one is not a member? The only person who can show the accused to be innocent is the recording officer of that organisation. But the organisation having been abolished, the accused's only way of proving his innocence is abolished."—(To the M.U. Political Science Society, 11/5/50.)

Professor Maxwell (English, Melbourne) :

"The only way to combat an ideogy you don't like is to practise its best ideals. The bad ones will fade away."—(Ibid.)—(The Labour, Labour Party and Liberal Clubs of M.U. have come out in opposition.)

Mrs. Jessie Street (graduate of Sydney University, wife of the Chief Justice and Lieut-Governor of New South Wales, former Labour Parliamentary candidate, president of N.S.W. Peace Council):

"I have been asked to comment on the Bill

"I wish to recall the great bravery and self-sacrifice displayed by the men and women of all races in World War II, waged by the United Nations against the Axis Powers of the Anti-Comintern Pact.

"I also recall the democratic enthusiasm aroused among all peoples of the United Nations by the promise that after the war they would enjoy liberty, equality, independence, selfgovernment and rising standards of living.

"How many lives were gladly given that these great liberties should be enjoyed by all peoples! When the U.N. was formed, these promises—all of them—were included in the U.N. Charter.

"What happened? Those who claim equality for men and women, or equal treatment for white and coloured races are called Communists! Those who support Independence and equality for the peoples of all countries are called Communists!

"Those who work for rising living standards for the people are called Communists! Those who seek to guard our precious heritage of democratic rights and civil liberties are called Communists!

" ... Is the U.N. Charter a Communist document?

"A Bill is before the Commonwealth Partliament which aims to deprive Australians of the democratic liberties and civil rights which have been won in countless bloody struggles since the time of Magna Carta.

"Furthermore the foundation principle of British justice, that a person is innocent till he is proved guilty, is to be sacrificed."—(Tribune, 6/5/50.)

Mrs. E. Madeleine Wood, B.A. (widow of the late Professor G. Arnold Wood, History, Sydney; her son is well-known to many V.U.C. students):

"I wish to support the statements of Mrs. Jessie Street about the Anti-Communist Bill. . . .

"The Bill violates not only the individual clauses, but the whole spirit of the United Nations Charter which all members of Parliament are pledged to support. . . .

"How can any man or women have freedom from fear' when, 'on information received,' he may at any time, with no reason being given, be denounced as a Communist?

"Some of us have worked actively for peace. . . . Are we to be denounced and jailed for subversive activity if we venture to criticise our leaders for not strenuously seeking the greatest common measure of agreement with the leaders of other nations, rather than exaggerating differences of opinion, and thus stirring up suspicion and hatred?"—(Tribune, 13/5/50.)

Mr. A. E. Monk (president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions):

"It is obvious that this Bill is designed to pave the way for attacks on the whole trade union movement.

. . . It is the first step to fascism."—(Tribune, 17/5/50.)

Mr. J. Healy (secretary, Australian Waterside Workers' Federation):

"Whatever one's opinions of the Communist Party or of Communists, this Bill provides no boundaries; its boundaries of action depend entirely upon the whims of the administrators."—(Circular to his unions, May, 1950.)

Police state

These parts of the Bill have not yet hit the pages of the New Zealand press:
1."In this Act . . .'Communist' means a person who supports or advocates the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of Communism as expounded by Marx and Lenin."
2."The Governor-General may, by instrument published in the Gazette, declare any body of persons to be an unlawful association" if "he is satisfied that a majority of the members, or a majority of the committee . . . were at any time after May 10, 1948, members of the Australian Communist Party" or that it "supports or advocates or supported or advocated the objectives, etc., of Communism" or that "its policy is directed or influenced by persons who were members of the A.C.P."
3.Anyone remaining a member of an illegal organisation is liable to five years imprisonment. The onus of proof in this clause as in the last is with the accused (individual or organisation).
4.Section 20—"An authorised person shall at all times have full and free access to, and may, if need be by force and with such assistance as is necessary, break open, enter and search, any house, premises or place in which he suspects that there is any property of, or documents or papers relating to, an unlawful association, and may search any person found in the house, premises or place, and may take possession of, remove or impound any property, books (including documents or papers) in the house, premises or place which the authorised person is satisfied belong to that association."


By an emergency decree of February 5, 1933, during the farcical Reichstag Fire Trial, all the printing establishments and buildings owned by the Communist Party throughout Germany were expropriated by the German Government under the new Chancellor Hitler. The same procedure was applied next day to the newspapers of the Social-Democratic Party. Then came the banning of the militant Miners' and Metalworkers' Unions, the Red Sports organisations, Left Writers and Artists' Leagues, International Workers' Relief. Then the League for the Protection of Motherhood, the Association of Social and Political Organisations, the League for Human Rights, and the German Peace Society were outlawed. On May 2 the remaining unions and the Social Democratic Party were dissolved. . . .

The story from there on is well-known. . . . Pogroms of Jews, Liberals, Christians, everyone with decent ideals. . . .—(See "The Hitler Terror," Gollancz, 1933.)

In view of this excursion into not very ancient history, the following quotations may be of interest:

"If you and I were Germans . . . we would not be critical of the leadership (Hitler's) that has produced such results."

R. G. Menzies, 19/9/1938.

"Democracies cannot maintain their place in the world unless they are provided with leadership as inspiring as that of the dictator countries."

—R G. Menzies, 24/10/1938.

Hitler . . . Belsen . . . Gestapo terror . . . Lidice . . . inspiring?? Menzies . . . ????