Australian Communist Party, 1944
Source: Pamphlet authorised by the Central Committee, Australian Communist Party, 695 George Street, Sydney, NSW, 1945. Newsletter Printery, 21 Ross Street, Forest Lodge,
Transcription, mark-up: Steve Painter
J.B. Miles, general secretary, Australian Communist Party
The speeches reproduced in this pamphlet are two of the most important, ever delivered in any Australian parliament. They represent something new in Australian parliamentary history, giving as they do the viewpoint of Fred Paterson, MLA for Bowen (Queensland), the first Communist member to be elected to an Australian parliament.
The first speech was delivered on October 11, 1944, during the debate on supply (the financial statement of the public accounts of Queensland). The second is Comrade Paterson’s maiden speech, dated August 23, 1944, given during the address-in-reply. The speeches have been edited and abridged.
I have a special interest in the election of our comrade F.W. Paterson to the Queensland parliament. At least twenty years have passed since Fred returned from Britain and joined the Brisbane branch of our party. I was secretary of the brunch.
The organisation in Brisbane and throughout Queensland and other states was then very small. Comrade Paterson during the years played an important part in carrying the message of Communism into many parts of Queensland and in winning to our party many of those who today lead our extensive organisation in Queensland.
The two speeches reprinted in this pamphlet are good examples of the Communist view that parliament can be a forum from which to expose the evils of capitalism and expound the immediate and long-range program of the Communist Party.
In his advocacy of allied unity our MP in parliamentary language indicts the anti-Soviet enemies of unity whether of the opposition or the Labor Party right wing.
In his statement of the case for socialism, Comrade Paterson underlines the Labor Party’s acceptance of this objective and expresses the conviction that socialists in the Labor Party will endorse his views.
In these speeches, in simple language is presented the Communist program, the unity of labour and the labour alliance with the farmers and middle classes, which is essential for realisation of our objectives.
Very timely is the Inclusion of the Communist view on soldier preference.
These speeches are well worth wide circulation. They will win new adherents to the Communist Party. I advise our propagandists to study these speeches from the viewpoint of the presentation or the case and the language used. Comrade Paterson is a popular speaker and at the same time an effective speaker for our party.
The election of Fred Paterson in April 1944 as member for Bowen in the Queensland Legislative Assembly marks a turning point in the parliamentary history of Australia.
For the first time, the voice of scientific socialism rings out in an Australian parliament, pointing the way onward for the workers, toiling farmers and town middle class.
Paterson is in every way fitted to be the pioneer in parliamentary struggles for the powerful Australian Communist Party.
Born at Gladstone, Central Queensland, of working class parents, this brilliant scholar, returned soldier, outstanding barrister and splendid citizen has been tested in the struggle on behalf of the useful people, and has proved himself worthy of the great cause to which he has dedicated his life.
Elected in 1939 as alderman of the Townsville City Council, the first Communist alderman in Australia, Fred Paterson lifted municipal politics to higher levels, developed new forms of struggle and, leading the city council, rallied the people of Townsville into a united body in the solution of their problems.
It was on the solid ground of good work done that Paterson contested and won the seat of Bowen under the well-deserved title of “champion of the useful people”.
His parliamentary work is already of a high order. From all over Queensland tributes are being paid to his work, indicating that in the future the useful people will expect and demand representatives in parliament of the type of the first Communist member. In forthcoming elections, the Communist Party will, as a result of its struggles on behalf of the mass of the people, and greatly assisted by the example of Paterson in parliament, go on to greater parliament victories in keeping with its victories in other spheres of work.
Speech of October 11, 1944
The treasurer has presented to this parliament a financial statement of the public accounts of this state.
In addition, the treasurer has placed before parliament a detailed plan of post-war reconstruction involving the expenditure of some £50 million. It is that part of the treasurer’s speech I propose to discuss.
The proposed plan of post-war reconstruction as set out in the treasurer’s speech includes the following works: public buildings, housing, roads, streets; bridges and drainage, harbours, port and river works, forestry development, irrigation, water conservation, water supply and sewerage works, railway works, electrification works, rural assistance and development, mine development, and maintenance of roads, railways and other public assets. I do not intend to criticise the plan, so far as it goes, in the treasurer’s speech. But that does not mean we should be satisfied with the financial statement. My main criticism of the speech is that it does not go far enough; it is far too orthodox; it fails to take into account the new situation and the new problems that confront us; it omits the most important problems of all — it fails to enumerate fully the steps we must take to develop in an orderly manner the material resources of this state, without which let me say quite clearly no government can guarantee its people a steady increase in their material and cultural conditions.
Production and distribution, as far as the post-war reconstruction plan goes, are still to be left at the mercy of the banks and the big monopolists, whose aim is to make profit. Surely every genuine representative of the labour movement will agree that the continuation of capitalist class control will necessarily mean a return to the old order of things. We do not need to have a very good memory to be able to recall what this means. We all have experienced in our own lifetime at least two great crises and depressions. We know exactly what this means to the vast majority of our people. We know what it means to the workers in unemployment, in money prices to the farmers and in the misery and wretchedness it entails for the vast mass of the working people.
We have experienced also the fact that when production and distribution lie at the mercy of bankers and big monopolists, we get centralised production and the congregation of the population in the big cities. It is no good talking about the need for decentralisation and building up rural industry unless we are willing to get at the very root of the evil. We have only to take our own experience in this state. I happen to be the representative of the Bowen electorate, and I happen to be a native-born boy of Gladstone, so I am connected by birth and membership of this assembly with two of the finest ports in the commonwealth. I think every unbiased person must agree that neither of those two towns has ever received justice. The reason why they have not received justice is that vested interests have played far too important a part in the economic life of this country. The reason Bowen and Gladstone were not developed was that vested interests derived too great a profit from the concentration of industry in the big capital cities.
Why have we not developed the iron and steel industry? In 1917 the Labor government did one of the finest things in Labor’s early history. After taking the reins of office it set up it Royal Commission to go into the question of establishing an iron and steel industry in this state. That report still exists, and is available to any honourable member who is desirous of taking the trouble to read it. That report set out that the time was ripe in 1917 — 27 years ago for establishing a state iron and steel industry.
So satisfied was the then government with the report that it actually introduced legislation for establishing this industry, which passed through this house, which at that time was the Lower House. The Legislative Council existed at that time, but that council is not in existence now, and that was 20 years ago.
Why have the necessary steps not been taken? I suggest in all sincerity that the reason is that vested interests have been too powerful up to the present. The great iron and steel monopolists represented by the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited have determined ilia their profit should not be interfered with.
Not only have we no iron and steel industry, but we have no copper refining or copper smelting industry in Queensland. There are splendid fields of copper in the north-west. Again this is because of the enormous economic and political power of the great millionaires of the Mount Lyell copper refining and smelting company in Tasmania.
And I could go on. Why, for instance, have we not developed secondary textile industries in this state to any large extent? A few weeks ago I read a report issued by the chairman of the Cotton Board, in which he showed clearly the enormous opportunities in this state, and for that matter in other states, for the development of secondary textile industries. There is an enormous internal market waiting to be satisfied.
But if we are to deal with that matter we must be prepared to take our courage into our own hands and establish our own state industries, because private enterprise will not do it for us unless - judging by the thesis of the honourable member for Windsor, who by the way, is a splendid representative for the class he represents - the government give it all the help it requires to enable it to establish those industries. It must always be understood, however, that private enterprise is to reap the profit, but the government is expected to carry the baby the moment there is a crisis or a depression. That is not any conception of how this state or any country should be run.
It is on this basis that I voice my criticism of the financial statement. My criticism is not directed against the treasurer personally because we know that when a treasurer delivers a financial statement he merely does so on behalf of his government. So that when I criticise this aspect of the financial statement, my criticism is directed against the policy of the government that allows this state of affairs to exist.
After all, I think every genuine representative of the labour movement will agree with me when I say that the greatest ideal of the labour movement is socialisation. Last night I picked up in my home the 1936 platform of the Australian Labor Party, which had been passed at a convention in Adelaide. At its very head it sets out the Labor objective of socialisation of industry, distribution and exchange. So that when I speak as I do today there is no reason why I should feel that the genuine representatives of the Labor movement will be opposed to what I say.
I believe from the very bottom of my heart that all who genuinely believe in socialisation, and nobody should be a member of the Australian Labor Party unless he does, should agree with me wholeheartedly when I suggest that the financial statement has failed, or is weak, in that it does not deal with the great problem that confronts us today, the organisation of our industry, our distribution and exchange in an orderly way in the direction of socialisation.
The Communist Party contends that the government must be prepared to exercise most vigorous and far-reaching control, because it will be fatal to allow the old system of capitalism to operate for any needless time after the end of this war. In this way, and in this way alone, can the government lay the very foundation for a happy and prosperous people. In a word, we must be prepared to go boldly forward along the path to socialisation, which is the objective not only of the Communist Party but of the Australian Labor Party.
As the first step, we must be prepared to nationalise the banks, monopolies and big industrial and commercial companies.
I am satisfied that there are a number of men in this committee who are genuinely anxious to abolish hunger and want. I am satisfied that there are a number of men in this committee who are honestly striving to destroy conditions of poverty and economic security, but — and I say this with all sincerity — it needs more than simply being sincere in our desire to achieve these noble ends. We must have a clear understanding of the causes of poverty, want and economic insecurity. We must have a clear understanding of the causes of the maldistribution of industry and the lack of industrial development in our rural areas. Above all, we must have a clear understanding of the measures to be taken to rectify the position.
We can no longer content ourselves with attempting to solve political problems in what I might call the old political superstitious manner. When I use the word superstitious I use it in its literal sense, without any connection at all with religion. We must face up to these problems in a scientific manner and deal with them.
What then, I ask, is the cause of poverty and economic insecurity? Why do we have boom periods when there is plenty of employment, high wages and contentment, followed by crises and depression? Can any sensible person in this country suggest for one moment that in the great crisis that took control of this continent of ours in 1929 our people went without milk because many of our cows ceased to produce milk? Can anyone suggest that they went without fruit because our fruit trees ceased to bear fruit? And can anyone suggest that we went without manufactured goods because our machinery ceased to turn and our artisans had lost their skill? Not on your life.
That crisis was the inevitable result of what we know as the capitalist system.
The Communist Party boldly asserts that the basic cause of social and economic problems are to be found in our present system of society that we call capitalism, that is, a system in which the financial institutions and most of the means of production are in the hands of a relatively small number of people, a system in which production is carried on primarily for profit and in which when profit ceases production ceases, whether or not the people require what is being produced. It is a system under which production is carried on at the will of individual capitalist groups and not in accordance with a national plan based on the resources of the country and the needs of its people.
For example, some years ago I made a personal examination of a list of directorates of the main companies in this country and I discovered that of 62-odd bank directors, there were 41 men, and that those 41 men could be traced on the board of directors of all the other main companies in this country. If you examine the list of directors of the insurance companies, the shipping companies, mining companies, rubber companies, textile companies, breweries - it does not matter what you examine in the way of big companies - there you will find one or more, in fact many, of the names of these 41 bank directors.
The Communist Party has pointed out for borne time that the system of capitalism as we know it today has changed into what is now properly called finance capital - that is, a system in which the banks are closely interwoven with big industries. The Communist Party, therefore, contends that if the great social and economic problems that have caused so much hardship and suffering in years gone by are to be solved, they must be solved by a change in the social system. We believe that this great problem shall never be solved so long as capitalism endures.
We realise that reforms and improvements can be won from time to time within the present system through the organised political and industrial action of the people, but we contend that no final solution can be won unless we change the whole social system from top to bottom, unless we change from the private capitalist system for profit to the social co-operative system of production for use; in other words production and distribution must not be left dependent the blind forces of capitalism.
To bring this great change in the economic structure of society, that is, to achieve this great economic revolution, the Communist Party suggests that there must be in power a government that in deed and not just in words represents the vast majority of the people, the useful people in this country, the working class, the working farmer and members of the middle class.
One of the first tasks of this government will be to bring under their control the banks and other financial institutions, the land, big factories, mines, transport system and trade with other countries. The only government that can do this task will be one that arises from the labour movement and works closely in contact with the organised workers and the organisations of the working people. The labour movement consists of the trades unions, the ALP and the Australian Communist Party.
The government, based on the trade unions, the organised workers, the working farmers and the working people, that is a government arising from the labour movement itself, would have as one of its first tasks taking over the banks, monopolies and other big industrial concerns in order that production and distribution of goods might be carried out with efficiency and in the interests of the people. In other words, production and distribution would be developed in an orderly manner so that our people could enjoy a steadily rising standard in material and cultural conditions. Primary and secondary industries would be assisted and developed and this development would take place under a method best fitted to preserve a proper balance between primary and secondary industries.
While I am on this point, I am reminded of a speech delivered by the leader of the opposition on the address in reply. He stressed the need for the establishment of a proper balance between primary and secondary industries. I thoroughly agree with him, but I want to point out to him that if he really wants to get that proper balance established, he will need to make a serious investigation, not into his own mind, but into the financial and economic interests of the great forces that back the Country Party he leads today.
Mr Macdonald: Rubbish.
Mr Brand: The Country Party is backed by the small farmers in Queensland.
Mr Paterson: I think the honourable member confuses the fact that some small farmers back the Country Party with his wish that they all did, but that is contrary to the facts.
As I have already said, there is need for this new government to establish a proper balance between our primary and secondary industries. We also state that under this government, industries would be decentralised and the old separation between city and country interests will be broken down. That is because vested interests will have no say in determining whether an iron and steel industry should be established in this state, whether a copper refining industry should be established in north-west Queensland, or where cattle grown and fattened in the west would be marketed or killed, because the government’s concern would be to take over an industry and run it in the interests of the people.
I can quite understand some people asking what about the money and the functions? I believe that is it good question. A considerable amount of confusion exists in the minds of many as to the role money plays in society. Some people think that all you have to do to solve the economic and money problem is to print money and keep on printing it, and everything will be satisfactory.
I, for one, as a member of the Communist Party, suggest that is absurd. We have only to realise the position as it exists today in Australia. Everyone knows that no matter how much money you issue by the printing press you could not produce an extra gun or an extra tank, or an extra plane, or produce an extra bushel of wheat or maize, unless you have available resources of manpower and materials. In other words, while the money problem is an important one — I will deal with that before I conclude - it is necessarily secondary to the question of production. On the basis of production we get the amount of goods and services at our disposal. Once we have the goods and services there is the question of the creation and issue of money: therefore, that is a secondary matter.
Mr Edwards:To get production you must get service.
Mr Paterson: I quite agree with the honourable member.
There are others, however, who make an equally foolish mistake in believing that the present financial system is sound. The Communist Party rejects that belief. The present financial system is obviously part and parcel of the capitalist system, and any objection we take to capitalism in the sphere of production we must take to capitalism in the sphere of exchange also.
We believe that once you deal with the question of production, once you solve the problem of planned production in the interests of the people, this country would be in a position to control the creation and issue of money on the basis of the amount of goods produced and the amount of services at the disposal of the people. It is for that reason that when we speak about the nationalisation of industry, we always speak of the nationalisation of the banking system, because we believe that the two must go hand in build.
Let us deal with some of the ideas of people who think that you can solve the whole problem simply by fiddling with finance. They tell us that the last crisis was caused by the banks and by the banks alone. There can be no doubt that banks can aggravate a crisis, that they can hasten a crisis, and that they can help to bring a crisis to its end more quickly, but they cannot by themselves create a crisis.
Let us take what happened in Australia in the Great Depression. Many employees of the Broken Hill Proprietary could not get work and as a result poverty and misery reigned among the company’s factory employees. The Broken Hill company’s factories and workshops were not working full-time. Strangely enough, a number of directors of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited were also directors of the banks. Would it not be absurd to suggest that the Broken Hill Proprietary directors one day held a meeting and decided that because of a shortage of finance they would write to the bank for accommodation to provide work, and that later the bank’s directors, including some of the Broken Hill Proprietary’s directors one day held a meeting and considered the application written by themselves, and turned down their own request.
That is what it means. Similarly, the directors of the CSR company are also directors of the banks; when I made my investigations, three out of five were directors of banks. Would it not be absurd to suggest that the cause of any depression in the sugar industry was due to the fact that the banks controlled by the same men would not issue credit to the company? The two go hand in hand.
I have some sympathy for those who honestly think the problem can be solved by some financial measure, but I do suggest that to assist to solve it those people must be willing to unite with all political parties and organisations that are determined to nationalise and ultimately socialise industry. The true position is this: it is only under socialism that money will cease to be our master and become our servant.
A government member: Money is capital.
Mr Paterson: Money is not capital. I do not propose to spend part of my hour in dealing with the economics of money and capital. Money can be transformed into capital, but it is absurd to suggest that the £1/5/- I have in my pocket is capital. Money can be transformed into capital; it can also be used for securing the transfer of goods as a medium of exchange. You can have capital without any money at all. If all the money in Australia tomorrow should disappear by the wave of a magic wand the capital of CSR and Broken Hill Proprietary Limited would still exist.
Under socialism the government will be the sole owner and controller of the financial institutions; it will have the sole power to create and issue money, whether that money exists in its metallic form or token form such a £1 note, or in credit form, such as a bill of exchange or a cheque, as we know it. Money will be created and issued on the basis of the amount of goods and services produced in society. This money will be distributed among people in salaries and wages and income on the basis of the amount of work performed and the quality of the work performed, or on the basis of the amount or the quality of services rendered.
I know that some will say: “Yes, the Communist Party is merely advocating the Labor Party platform, but it believes in revolution and the Labor Party does not.”
Revolution in itself is neither a violent thing nor a nonviolent thing; that depends entirely upon the circumstances. A revolution is a complete change in the economic bases of society. The question does arise, however: how will this complete change be achieved? Will it involve the use of violence or not? That, the Communist Party asserts, will depend partly on the strength of the organisation of the banker-capitalist class that will be deposed, and partly on the strength and organisation of the government and the unions and other people’s organisations that will support the aim to achieve socialism.
It is a strange thing that the people who suggest you should not use force against the banking and capitalist class never complain when a state uses the police force to baton down the unemployed during a period of depression. If to uphold the law under a capitalist system you can use violence and force in the shape of batoning a worker’s head, is it wrong when a socialist government takes control to use a baton on the banker’s or the capitalist’s head if he attempts forcibly to resist the law?
Mr Maher: That is dangerous talk.
Mr Paterson: It may be dangerous talk but it is sensible talk and that is all that matters; and it is correct talk. The honourable member for West Moreton never suggested it was dangerous talk to send the police out to baton the unemployed during the period of depression. He would not suggest it was dangerous talk to put soldiers into the coal mines. That suggestion would not produce coal but it would produce untold misery and violence.
Here in this country we have the right to go to the poll but in Czarist Russia they did not have the right to go to the poll. Under the Czarist rule there was no democratic system such as we have here. We have a democratic constitution under the capitalist system of society, and if a government constituted of representatives of the labour movement is elected by the majority of the people, has not that government the full right to make the laws of this land in accordance with its socialistic objective, and to use its armed force or police force, and its judges, to deal with those who oppose socialism and endeavour to sabotage it, in order to compel them to keep the law?
Mr Pie: And that is freedom?
Let me deal with some of these bogies, and the first is that under socialism all property is abolished. That is a lie. All property is not abolished. The form of property abolished is that in the hands of the banks and the monopolies, but personal property for use is not abolished, because the aim of socialism is to increase the personal property available to the highest possible point. We desire to see the maximum amount of personal property in existence, so that people will be able to enjoy the highest standard of living.
There are others who suggest that all people will be reduced to the one level. That also is a lie. Those who take the trouble to read the writings of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Stalin and Lenin, will realise that it is a lie. Today I merely propose to quote one extract from the report of Joseph Stalin to the 17th congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in January 1934:
By equality Marxism means, not equality in personal requirements and personal life, but the abolition of classes, ie (a) the equal emancipation of all toilers from exploitation after the capitalists have been overthrown and expropriated, (b) the equal abolition for all of private property in the means of production after they have been transformed into the property of the whole society, (c) the equal duty of all to work according to their ability and the equal right of all toilers to receive according to the amount of work they have done (socialist society), (d) the equal duty of all to work according to their ability and the equal right of all toilers to receive according to their requirements (communist society). And Marxism starts out with the assumption that people’s tastes and requirements are not, and cannot be, equal in quality or in quantity, either in the period of socialism or in the period of communism.
That is the Marxian conception of equality.
Marxism has not recognised, nor does it recognise, any other equality.
To draw from this the conclusion that socialism calls for equality, for the levelling of the requirements of the members of society, for the levelling of their tastes and of their personal lives, that according to Marxism all should wear the same clothes and eat the same dishes and to the same quantity - means talking banalities and slandering Marxism.”
The next suggestion is that the government will confiscate the farms and selections of the working farmers and selectors and the shops and factories of small owners. As a matter of fact, socialism will confiscate the large farms and factories controlled by those who do not work in them or do not do any work in connection with them). If it happens to be a large pastoral financial company that owns a large farm or station, that property would be taken over, but not the farm of a person who works his farm. We will encourage the development of co-operative farms or collective farms to the full and the use of mechanisation in order to bring the efficiency of the primary producer to the highest possible point.
They tell you that under socialism the government will regiment the people. Are the employees of the post office in this country regimented? Would any person suggest that school teachers in this state are regimented? But the postal department and the teaching department are under government control.
Mr L.J. Barnes: They can go to a private enterprise job if they wish.
Mr Paterson: I quite agree with the honourable member, but as the capitalist system goes on, the number of employers they can choose is gradually diminishing. As monopoly spreads, so is the number of employers relatively reduced. What satisfaction would it be for a man who had given the greater part of his life to school teaching in the service of the state, when a depression takes place that causes considerable retrenchment, to know that at the age of 59 he has the opportunity of getting a job in an iron foundry or on a wharf or something like that?
Some of our opponents may say, “What about Russia?” and immediately proceed to quote from anti-Soviet books and pamphlets without attempting to make any critical examination of the source of information with a view to ascertaining whether they are reliable.
This afternoon I have not time to deal with all these matters, but merely with one or two. The honourable member for Cairns speaks without malice and this afternoon I propose to reply to him in the same way. He said that there were no birth-rate figures for Russia since 1929. All the honourable member has to do is to walk into the Parliamentary Library, take down the Commonwealth Year Book for 1935, and on page 568 he will find a table that gives the birth rate for the year 1932, which shows that the birth rate in the Soviet Union was 42.7 per 1000 of mean population in 1932 as compared with 16.4 for Australia in the year 1934.
Incidentally, on page 530 he will find figures for the natural increase, that is, the excess of births over deaths. He will find that whereas in Australia those figures decreased from 16.7 in the period 1909-13 to 8.8 in 1930-34, in European Russia — which is the only figure given — they increased from 15.8 in 1909-13 to 22.3 in 1926-27. The point I wish to stress is that the Year Book contains figures for 1932.
The honourable member for Bundaberg, Mr F.J. Barnes, made an attack on the Soviet Union but I do not propose to deal with all he said because my time is limited. He said that in 1938 Russia had one person in every 429 attending a university and Australia had one in every 60. I subsequently asked the Secretary for Public Instruction for the figures and he gave them to me. His reply showed that in 1938 the number attending universities in Australia was 12,126, which works out at one for every 572 of our population. And the honourable member for Bundaberg had the cheek to say it was one in 60.
The honourable member for Kennedy, Mr Jesson, apparently discovered that I had discovered a flaw in the honourable member for Bundaberg’s figures, and he proceeded to go one better. He quoted the figures for the Soviet Union when Russia had a population of 193,000,000. The only time she ever had that population was in 1940 after she had absorbed the Baltic States, Eastern Poland, and Bessarabia.
He quoted the number of college and university students as 450,000, or one to every 429. He said that Australia, with a total population of 7,000,000, bad 115,627 attending colleges and universities, which worked out at one in 60, but he made the mistake of including in his figures all those who attend secondary technical colleges.
If he had only taken the trouble to read the Statesman’s Year Book, which is in this library, he would have found that in the year 1940 there were 716 universities and technical colleges of university status. The students in these number over 650,000, not 450,000 as the honourable member for Kennedy states. The number of students in technical secondary schools is also given, but it gives 650,000 for those attending universities and technical colleges with university status, not technical colleges with secondary school status.
Mr Jesson: It does not matter; the comparisons are still there.
Mr Paterson: Except that they are incorrect, but that would not matter to the honourable member.
The honourable member for Mirani, Mr Walsh, adopted different tactics. He admitted that the Soviet had made progress, although he did refer to the statistics quoted by the honourable member for Kennedy. He said that he would be a foolish man who would argue against the statement that the Soviets have done a good job for Russia, and I agree that he would be a foolish man.
But the honourable member for Mirani was much more clever. He then went on to launch a bitter attack against the Soviet Union on the ground that she was only looking after her own interest.
Mr Walsh : And that is true.
Mr Paterson: It is strange that he did not suggest that the United States was only looking after her own interests. I remember that the treasurer made the pertinent interjection when he said that it was the duty of any government to look after the interests of its own people. The important point is that in war every country primarily looks after its own interests. Even though it goes outside its own boundaries it primarily looks after its own interests.
The attitude adopted by the honourable member for Mirani is a very dangerous one because he went on then to ask: “Why does not Russia open a second front?” At first sight that seems very sound but at present we have three leaders of the three great Allied nations, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and Prime Minister Stalin, and they met at Teheran and decided on the strategy of beating Hitler first.
The prime minister of this country, who is the representative of the Labor Party in Australia, has accepted that strategy. Their desire is to beat Hitler first. If it could be suggested for a single moment that Russia was not pulling her weight and therefore she should do something else on another front, the argument would be cogent but I do not think even the honourable member for Mirani (Mr Walsh) would suggest that she was not pulling her weight.
Mr Kerr: Will Russia fight Japan after Germany is beaten?
Mr Paterson: I do not mind discussing any of these questions with the honourable member in public debate, but I have only an hour to make my speech here. I ask, “Why did the honourable member for Mirani make this attack on the Soviet?” Is the Soviet any different from any other great allied nation in this respect? Every sensible Australian knows that the United States, like Russia, did not come into this war until she was attacked. It would be doing a great disservice to anyone to rise on the floor of this chamber and bitterly attack the United States of America on that ground.
The honourable member for Mirani (Mr Walsh) launched a vicious attack on the Aid to Russia Committee, but only next day as I walked along Queen Street I saw a number of good Brisbane women collecting for the war orphans of China. Does the honourable gentleman suggest that these people were disloyal and that they should not have been assisting the war orphans of China? Was Mrs Churchill acting wrongly when she took a leading part in organising medical aid for the Soviet Union? Does the honourable member for Mirani suggest that the people who work in CUSA are anti-Australian because CUSA provides for American forces as well as for Australians? Because it is the Soviet Union, the honourable member for Mirani, who represents the reactionary section inside the [Labor Party] caucus and is leader of that section, makes this bitter attack on the Soviet Union.
The Aid to Russia Committee consisted of men and women of all political parties, and these people were eager to assist the general cause. Was Mr McKell, the Labor premier of New South Wales, wrong, and was Mr Eddie Ward, the federal Labor minister, wrong in supporting Medical Aid to Russia? Does he suggest that because we have had admiration for the Soviet Union we cannot have admiration for Australia too? Apparently that is the idea in the narrow mind of the honourable member for Mirani. Surely we can admire Allied soldiers, we can admire the American soldiers and the British soldiers, without in any way being disloyal to Australia.
The honourable member for Mirani cunningly suggested that because we express admiration for the Red Army we therefore have no admiration for the deeds of our Australian boys who went through the Owen Stanleys and along the Kokoda trail.
As a matter of fact, it is a strange thing that when the Communist Party in Collinsville last year organised Christmas hampers for the troops in New Guinea the only political party, the only organisation, that would not come in, was the ALP at Collinsville.
The suggestion that we were not concerned about the Kokoda boys would only emanate from a mind so bitterly opposed to socialism as to need some vent for his foul hatred and hostility. Surely as sensible Australians we can have an intense admiration for the heroic deeds and sacrifices of members of all the allied forces.
I have stressed these points because I realise how necessary it is to expose, not only in this chamber but also to the people outside, who are the real enemies of Allied unity. And, remember, this is not the first occasion that hostility to Allied unity has expressed itself in the form of an ultra-Australia First patriotism. Has the honourable member for Mirani never heard of the Teheran Conference, and never heard of its decisions?
It is not so very long ago that the honourable member for Mirani gave valuable assistance to the enemies of the labour movement in the referendum campaign by his attack on the commonwealth government for the appointment of Colonel Richards to a high position as commonwealth transport officer in this state. The opposition to the referendum was able to use that.
This man, who is supposed to be a loyal representative of the Australian Labor Party, was conspicuous by his absence from his electorate, where he should have been fighting for a Yes vote. Why was he not up there in the same way as the honourable member for Mackay, the honourable member for Herbert, and the honourable member for Townsville — apart from the fact that the honourable member for Mundingburra and I were in the North helping to get a Yes vote?
I would remind the honourable gentleman that where there is great unity between the militant section of the Labor Party and the Communist Party there the Yes vote was highest. In North Queensland, where you might expect a No vote, the Yes vote was high. There was a Yes vote in the Bowen electorate and in the Herbert electorate, where the Communists are strong. We also got a Yes vote in Townsville.
My time is short, and I shall have to omit much that I intended to deal with. However, I propose to reply to a personal attack that was made on me by the honourable member for Mirani. I do not wish to indulge in personalities except in self-defence — when I am attacked I must defend myself. The honourable member for Mirani raised the issue.
He suggested that Mr Fallon was loyal and that I was not — because Mr Fallon’s son was training in the Air Force in 1936 and 1937 and lost his life during the course of his training; and because, he said, I was decrying the need for military preparation in Australia at the time.
I regret to have to raise this incident, as I regret having to raise any matter that involves the mention of the death of any man’s son, whether I am opposed to that man politically or not. My remarks are not directed towards Mr Fallon’s son and I regret his name has to come into the matter.
What are the facts? In 1937 1 addressed a public meeting at Townsville, and exposed the Tanaka memorandum, which sets out in detail the Japanese plans for the invasion of the Pacific, and urged advance preparations against possible Japanese invasion. In April, 1938, at a special meeting of the Returned Soldiers’ League called at Townsville, I advocated the formation and organisation of a people’s army to resist a possible Japanese invasion. You will find that recorded in the minutes of the league.
Let me deal now with Mr Fallon’s part. He is supposed to have been more loyal than I was. Let us hear what this man had to say. In the Daily Standard of August 29, 1935, when the British Empire was on the verge of war with Italy, Mr Fallon made a special visit to the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, and moved a motion urging that if war was declared the trade unions of this state should declare a general strike and refuse to go overseas to fight. Was that because Italy was the possible enemy and had to be attacked? That is not all. Since this war broke out — and I quote from The Worker of September 4, 1939, which will show whether Mr Fallon is a man more loyal than I am. He said: “Our first duty is to Australia …”
Mr Walsh: Hear, hear.
Mr Paterson: The Minister for Transport says “Hear, hear! ” Mr Fallon went on and “and it behooves the working people of this country to refuse to further impoverish the commonwealth by active participation in a European war; it behooves them to refuse to offer up their bodies and the well-being of their loved ones by volunteering to fight on foreign soil. ”
This is the man to whom the honourable gentleman looks for leadership!
I am making my appeal to the genuine representatives of the labour movement inside the Labor Party, and I realise there are some. I realise, too, that their numbers are growing. It is because of that I make this genuine appeal. There is in the Labor caucus at the present time a reactionary section, a section who would like to get control in order to further their reactionary backward schemes. They exist in this state and in the caucus and the honourable member for Mirani is one of the ringleaders of this faction.
It will be the task of the labour movement of this state to advocate, through the unions, through the genuine elements of the ALP, the linking up of the Communist Party, and all progressives to go hand in hand with the best elements in the Labor Party to establish the maximum unity in this state and in this country, in order that we may go forward to achieve the great idea of both the Labor Party and the Communist Party. That ideal, which is written in black and white in both our platforms, is the establishment of a socialist Australia and the defeat of all reactionaries, no matter from what quarter they come.
The first and most vital problem confronting us today still remains the task of defeating Japan and her Fascist allies in the shortest possible time. The commonwealth government of Australia is entrusted with the responsibility of organising the people of the commonwealth to achieve that great objective and I shall give my fullest support to the state government so long as it is prepared to offer its co-operation and assistance to the commonwealth government in the achievement of that objective. That does not mean that we must accept blindly and uncritically everything that the commonwealth government does, but it does mean that if we are satisfied that what the commonwealth government is doing is necessary and efficient for the successful prosecution of the war then our co-operation arid assistance must be absolutely wholehearted and unstinting. When we do criticise it we must not criticise for the purpose of gaining a personal, political or party advantage but on the contrary our criticism should be of a constructive nature for the purpose of helping in their war effort. In other words we are free to criticise bungling, waste, and inefficiency, but we should offer constructive proposals for the elimination of these evils.
The war, however, is not the only issue that confronts us. It is true that the war is the dominant issue and it is true that everything else must be subordinated to the needs of the war. But even in the midst of war the Communist Party contends that plans must be made to ensure that when Fascism is beaten and victory is won we shall, never again return to the old order of things. No decent Australian expects our brave men and women to risk their lives to restore the old order of hunger and want; no decent Australian expects them to risk their lives to restore the old order of poverty and economic insecurity; and certainly no decent Australian expects them to risk their lives to make this country a paradise for a few hundred, or a few thousand greedy, selfish millionaire families. This may be the aim of the selfish minority but it is certainly not the aim of the vast majority of Australians.
What our people most ardently desire is a new Queensland and a new Australia, a Queensland and an Australia based on the principles of the Atlantic Charter, the principles of freedom from want and freedom from fear, a Queensland and an Australia in which every man and woman will be able to live a useful, happy and contented life; to live in a bright, comfortable and well-furnished home, and if they so desire, to marry, settle down and bring up a family of happy, healthy and joyful children. This is the Queensland and the Australia for which our young men arid women are risking their lives. This is the Queensland and Australia the Communist Party is fighting for today. We want a country here in which there will not be one single boy or girl who will ever go cold because his father or mother is unable to buy him warm clothing or warm bed-clothing, a Queensland and an Australia where no single boy or girl will ever hunger because his parents are unable to buy good food, a Queensland and an Australia in which every boy and gill will be able to get medical and dental attention and will be able if they have the merit and ability to go from the first grade, or first class in primary school to the highest degree in our university. The Communist Party therefore places before this I house for its consideration it program of post-war reconstruction, which is designed to use the resources of the state to the full for the purpose of improving the material conditions of our people and raising their education and culture to the highest possible level.
I realise that the time at my disposal in speaking to the address in reply is limited, therefore I am compelled to touch on only the more significant parts of this program, but I do wish to stress that our immediate aim is to improve the material conditions of our people and to raise their education and culture to the highest possible level. I am not going to attempt to reply to some of the silly and foolish statements made about Communism other than to say that the people making them were either dishonest or have never read any Communist literature.
Our program provides first of all that every able-bodied citizen, both brain and manual, shall be guaranteed full-time useful work. Secondly, it asks for a substantial improvement in wages arid working conditions, particularly for the workers in the lower paid industries. Thirdly, it asks for a reduction in the hours of labour to enable the working class to reap to the full advantages of the introduction of machinery and other labour-saving devices. As a first step to this call we ask for the introduction, as soon as the war is ended, of a 40-hour week. Fourthly, it asks for paid annual holidays for all workers with a minimum of two weeks each year. Fifthly, it asks for the universal adoption of the principle of equal pay for the sexes.
Let me comment on one or two of these proposals. The first asks that every able-bodied citizen shall be guaranteed full-time useful work. We say useful work because there has been a tendency in the past for governments to be satisfied with simply providing work of any kind whether useful or not. We find in time of depression or of crisis that is so, although everyone knows that this country has an abundance of useful work waiting to be done. Schools and hospitals need to be built. We require more teachers and more nurses. We need irrigation, water supply and electrification schemes extended into the country. We need to build houses. We need agricultural implements and manufactured goods, which are essential for the welfare of our people. Therefore, the Communist Party says that full-time work must be of a useful kind. Secondly, we ask that this useful work be provided for every able-bodied citizen, and not just for some.
Here I must join issue with those who are honestly or dishonestly making use of the returned soldier for political purposes by saying they believe in preference to returned soldiers. I know of no more hypocritical slogan than the one used by anybody who claims to stand in this house as the representative of great commercial concerns, or the banks or our major industries, because for over 10 years I was the only returned soldier barrister practising in North Queensland, and notwithstanding this advocacy by these people, I have never yet been given a brief by any commercial or wholesale company or capitalist institution.
The advocacy of preference to returned soldiers is an admission by the people who advocate it that they are satisfied that the world our fighting men and women are to come back to will be a world or an Australia or a Queensland where there will not be jobs for all. They are going to set returned-soldier father against civilian son; they are going to turn the returned-soldier son against the civilian father; they are going to turn returned-soldier brother against civilian brother. That is what will happen if they adopt this policy. The commonwealth government decided for reasons best known to itself and for reasons that have worked well up to the present — that certain members of the community should take up arms and defend this country and others should be retained to work in essential war industries and on the land. Is it fair to suggest that those the government decided should be available to defend this country under arms should get a preference over others who were equally willing to fight but were prevented from doing so because the government decided they were better employed in essential war industries?
Furthermore, it means this: there may be three sons in a family, the youngest is too young to go to the war, the second is engaged in essential industry, and the oldest goes to the war. When the war is over and he comes back he will either have to compete with and be given a job in preference to his younger brother, or if not his younger brother then to the civilian brothers of some of his mates who fought on the battlefront; he may have to compete with and take a job away front his own brother who has been in an essential industry, or take a job away from the brother of one of his mates who fought with him and risked his life. That is what this issue means. I am satisfied that many of those who advocate it have never yet thought out the true consequences or the implications of this policy. The soldiers are not fighting to return to a country where the jobs will be so few that the only way they can get a living is to cast out or beat those who stayed behind to work in essential industry, or those who were too young to go. Our men are fighting to come back to an Australia and to a Queensland where there will be work for those who fought, and for those who stayed back and worked, and for those who were too young to fight because it was their fortune, good or bad, that they were born at an age that prevented them from being of military age during the war.
We Communists believe that work for all without any advantage to anyone is the best solution. In order to meet the special conditions of the returned soldiers — and there are special conditions — we Communists believe this government should co-operate fully with the commonwealth government for the purpose of maintaining and extending the best possible repatriation scheme. We Communists are determined that the pages of Australian history shall never again be darkened by the disgraceful events that blackened our history after the last war. We are determined that land sharks and real-estate racketeers shall not be able to fatten on the life-blood of the returned soldier by inflating the prices of land the soldiers are expected to settle on. We are determined, as far as lies in our power, to resist to the utmost any state of affairs that will mean that these returned men will be forced to tramp the roads or jump the rattler looking vainly for jobs that do not exist. If my friends opposite really want to help the returned soldier, let them give full support to a program of post-war reconstruction that will avoid all the evils from which this country suffered after the last war.
For the farmer our program demands the provision of a reasonable living income and the elimination of the need to exploit child labour by maintaining and extending the system of guaranteed prices for all primary products and by extending the contract system to cover the purchase of all civilian requirements of essential foods and the requirements of secondary industries for raw materials. Secondly, our party is determined that this increased income for the farmer shall not be eaten up in interest and other charges, which usually go into the pockets of the idle rich. The second proposal we put forward therefore, is that the government should amend its legislation dealing with the Agricultural Bank and other relevant legislation, fixing 2 per cent as the maximum rate of interest to be charged on all loans, whether secured by mortgages, crop liens or any other form of security.
We Communists realise that man does not live by bread alone, so we have inscribed on our banner the mottos: “A sound mind in a healthy body.”” To ensure that our people develop healthy bodies, the Communist Party’s program demands the most vigorous development and extension of the state government’s health and social services and housing scheme in conjunction and co-operation with the commonwealth government wherever possible. In regard to the housing scheme the aim of the state government must be to provide every family with a comfortable and well-furnished home irrespective of its income. This means the elimination of all slums and congested areas. To achieve this, the state’s housing scheme must be planned and organised on the following basis:
1. The government must exercise rigorous control over all sales and prices of land and over the price of all building materials and furniture.
2. Homes must be built by the government both for rental and for purchase on long terms. The rate of interest must in no case exceed 2 per cent. The rent to be charged must in no case exceed one-eighth of the family’s income.
In developing and extending the health and social services the government must pay particular attention to the following:
1. The provision of an absolutely free maternity service for all mothers requiring it.
2. The provision of a statewide network of child-care centres, children’s playgrounds, day nurseries and kindergartens.
3. The forumulation and application of research plans covering diet, tuberculosis, cancer, venereal disease, rheumatism and allied diseases.
4. The training at the expense of the state of a sufficient number of doctors, dentists and other workers to staff these institutions.
5. The improvement of the conditions of hospital staffs, particularly nurses and domestics.
6. The nationalisation of the drug and other medical supply industries.
To ensure the development in all citizens of a sound and well-trained mind, the Communist Party’s program provides for a radical change in the educational system. Thus our post-war program
1. Free education at all stages with adequate facilities for continued education of the youth and the adult.
2. Raising the school-leaving age to 16 years.
3. Training of sufficient teachers to reduce the size of classes in schools to a maximum of 30.
4. Adequate financial assistance so that every boy and girl of the required ability can pass right up to the highest rung of the educational ladder without imposing any financial burden on his or her family.
5. Free medical and dental treatment and inspection for all children.
6. The widest development of a free library system.
To enlarge on one or two of these matters, first of all I will take the demand for absolutely free education. Yesterday the honourable member for Baroona quite rightly asked that the government see that the examination fee for the university junior examination and certain other fees be abolished — that these examinations be absolutely free. The Communist Party supports that proposal but goes further. We say that it should cost no family anything to educate its children. There should be no cost for a No I or No 2 primer, or for any book; no cost for exercise books, in fact, no cost for anything at all connected with education in our primary and secondary schools or in the university.
This is the only way by which we can guarantee that this state will get the best ability made available to the community, and, heaven knows, we shall require the best ability to grapple with the problems of post-war reconstruction.
We must insist that as far as this state is concerned merit and not wealth shall be the determining factor as to how far a person can go in the educational sphere. With regard to smaller classes in schools, of course we realise that at present there is a very serious shortage of manpower, but even in pre-war days large classes were prevalent in many of our schools. This is unfair to both the teacher and the children. It is absolutely impossible for any teacher to give adequate instruction or education to boys and girls in a class of 50 or 60 at the one time.
As to the granting of adequate financial assistance, we contend that it is the right of every boy and girl with the required ability to be able to go right up to the highest rung of the educational ladder. No financial burden should be imposed upon the family to enable the child to do that. That means that not only must all education be free but that the government should make such provision as will ensure that the family will receive a certain financial endowment or a financial grant so that it will not be the loser when the child reaches the age when normally he or she would go to work and supplement the family income.
This is a brief outline of the program the Communist Party places before the people. As I have stated already, it is designed to improve the material conditions of our people, and to raise their education and culture to the highest possible level. It is a program for the useful people, for, so far as I am concerned in this house, I represent and stand clearly for one class and one class only — the useful people in the community, not the useless parasites who batten on their lifeblood.
The Communist Party’s program is a program of progress, it is a program every decent Australian can support, but it must be made very clear at the outset that it is a program that cannot be realised unless the government is willing to intervene and exercise vigorous and far-reaching control over the main centres of capitalist production and distribution, which by their very nature are solely concerned with making profits.
The Communist Party rejects the contention that it is the function of government to act, as it were, merely as an ambulance brigade; that is, to allow capitalist industry to rob and plunder the people during periods of boom and be expected in a period of crisis and depression, a depression that has been brought on by capitalist industry itself, to come to its aid and provide relief with all sorts of public works.
In place of this unscientific conception the Communist Party demands that the government intervene vigorously in the management and control of profit-making industry so that the productive forces of the country may be used less and less for the profit of the few and more and more for the benefit of the many.
What then are the measures the Communist Party proposes? The time at my disposal is too short to enable me to deal with these adequately and I must content myself today with merely outlining our proposals. The first and most essential is the nationalisation of all banks and financial institutions. The second is the nationalisation of all big monopolies. The third is government and co-operative production and marketing of all agricultural implements, fertilisers, and similar things. The fourth is the conversion of all surplus war industries and annexes to the production of food, clothing, machinery and other commodities necessary for consumption or for production.
In primary industries the government must give more aid to farmers to enable them to increase productivity and to place agriculture on a more stable basis. Measures for this purpose must include the development and extension, with governmental aid, of local and central machinery depots, government and co-operative organisation of fodder conservation on a statewide basis, the development and extension of irrigation, water supply and electrification schemes as part and parcel of a statewide plan of production, the development and extension of municipal and co-operative wholesale and retail marketing with the complete elimination of private merchants and middlemen, the provision of cold storage and canning and dehydration facilities to absorb surplus produce in times of glut.
At the same time, the government must take steps to ensure that industry develops in accordance with a plan of decentralisation. In this connection the government should start right away with the establishment of a government sugar refinery in North Queensland, with the granting of financial aid to cane farmers supplying proprietary sugar mills to enable them to convert them to co-operative concerns, with the zoning of the beef industry to ensure that where practicable all cattle are killed at the meatworks nearest their place of fattening, with the establishment of an iron and steel industry in Bowen based on the coalfields of Collinsville and Scottville, and with the establishment of an industry to use to the fullest extent the by-products of the coal, iron and steel industries.
We do not claim that these measures will solve all our post-war problems, but we do claim that they will constitute a big step forward. The measures as they stand are only what may be termed the kernel of the solution. To deal with the problem realistically, these forms must be given a truly democratic, a truly peoples’ context.
For example, the men and women employed in, and the men and women in charge of, these organisations must be able and honest. They must not be mere party-political hacks or agents of banks or big business. They must be mean and women inspired and animated with the high and noble ideal of service to the community. Socialism, however, the Communist Party contends, is the final solution and socialism is the objective of the Australian Communist Party.
The economic foundation of the socialist system of economy is social ownership and control of the banks, the factories, and all means of social production and distribution. Under socialism the economic life of the country is determined and directed by a national plan for the purpose of increasing the material wealth and steadily raising the material and cultural level of the people. Under socialism, work is the obligation of and a matter of honour to every able-bodied citizen in accordance with the principle “He who does not work, neither shall he eat.”
The only exceptions to this rule are those who are too old to work, those who are too young to work or those who through sickness or accident are unable to work. Under socialism the principle is realised, “From each according to his ability to each according to the work performed.”
Thus socialism is in accordance with the highest and noblest traditions and ideals of mankind. But socialism cannot be imposed upon the people by a minority. It is a movement in the interests of the vast majority and will come into existence only when a majority of the people want it and are organised sufficiently to obtain and maintain it.
The Communist Party makes no secret of the fact that it stands for a socialist Australia, an Australia that can be constructed by the working class in alliance with other exploited sections of the people, namely, the farmers and middle classes; an Australia in which the degrading spectacle of man’s exploitation of man has no place, where all work for the good of all, where the function of the machine is to release man from labour and not to make a profit for the owners of the machine, where man freed from labour is at liberty to follow cultural pursuits, where the fear of want is banished and the law of the forest is at last no more.
1.In fact, the two speeches appear to have been edited into one text, as there is no obvious indication where one speech ends and the other begins.
2.The Post-war Reconstruction and Democratic Rights Referendum, 1944, which was intended to refer some powers from the states to the commonwealth as a wartime and immediate post-war measure. The proposals were defeated at a referendum on August 19, 1944.