Constitutional Barriers to
By ERIC D. BUTLER
Political thinking is at such a low ebb in this
and other British countries that constitutional safeguards of individuals'
rights, evolved over hundreds of years, are being destroyed without
most people realising what is taking place. The mere mention of the
usually conjures up in the minds of many people a picture of lawyers
arguing about dry technical legal matters of no importance to the ordinary
individual - or beyond his understanding.
The tragedy of these critical times is that the individual does not
understand that the question of individual rights and in-dependence
is directly connected with the idea of a Constitution of some description.
An even greater tragedy is the fact that the small minority which has
some understanding of the issue has little or no knowledge of the nature
and the source of the attack against the Constitutional safeguards
of the individual's rights and independence.
THE PURPOSE OF A CONSTITUTION
is a Constitution? Most human activities are governed by the idea of
a Constitution; the idea that it is necessary to define in advance
relationships which individuals can observe. It is also necessary to
lay down the relationships between various groups and individuals.
No game can be played in the absence of some rules.
And it is generally essential to have umpires to ensure that all players
observe the rules. Business companies have their articles of association.
It will be noted that the rules of our traditional British games, such
as cricket, are very rarely changed. They have been evolved over a
long period of time, and embody the experiences of the past. They have
been slowly modified in the light of experience, and have been in the
nature of an organic growth. We are not forever attempting to change
The articles of association of most companies are made comparatively
difficult to alter. Experience has proved the danger of "snap" decisions,
which can result in a successful organisation being irreparably damaged.
Constitutional safeguards of all types of organisations have usually
been designed to ensure that, before any changes are made, there can
be an exhaustive examination of what is proposed. There can be no stability
if a Constitution can be altered comparatively easily, perhaps by a
small number of power-lusters temporarily stampeding electors.
The necessity of stability in all forms of human associations is essential.
The greatest genuine progress is made when there is the greatest stability.
All political and economic crises, most of which are carefully manufactured,
provide ideal conditions for attacks upon Constitional safeguards.
For years before the war the controllers of Soviet Russia openly preached
that an "imperialist" struggle was essential for the furtherance of
their policies. "Stabiity permits a continuous growth based upon Tradition".
The enemies of our way of life, and surely it is obvious that they
are becoming more menacing every day, want to destroy all Constitutional
safeguards of stability; they want chaos and confusion in order that
they can impose their ideas upon the community. One important aspect
of the war being waged against us, an aspect overlooked by most people,
is the clever attack upon the idea of a tradition. Such has been the
corrupting influence of unscrupulous propaganda that a great number
of people who like to be thought "progressive"
consider any policy based upon tradition either "old fashioned," or,
worse still, "reactionary." Tradition is simply the accumulated experiences
of the past. A community which forgets its traditions has lost its
bearings, and is at the mercy of the various types of power-lusters
whose activities are wrecking Western Civilization.
See The Real Communist Menace, pages 13 and 14, on this point.
Even in the most primitive communities the old men of the tribe pass
on to the young men the various foik lore and tribal laws, which embody
the past experiences of the tribe. This is the cultural heritage, without
which no community could survive. Those who sneer at people basing
their policies upon the experiences of the past are themselves dominated
by an idea as old as Mankind: the idea that some men should have complete
control over the lives of all other men.
RIGHTS, CONSTITUTIONAL SAFEGUARDS
The central theme of the history
of the English-speaking world can be written around the persistent
attempts to evolve a Constitution which would prevent Governments,
or any other groups from having too much power over individuals. Because
of their Christian philosophy and innate spirit of individualism, our
forefathers worked and gave their lives to limit the powers of Governments
and to guarantee the individual certain fundamental rights which were
inviolate. The growth of the British Constitution, the basis of all
Constitutions throughout the English-speaking world, derives from the
idea of individual rights.
The basis is the individual.
The fundamental idea of the British Constitution was the protection
of the sovereignty of the individual. That profound political document,
Magna Carta, which we teach our children about in the schools, but
never read, dealt in detail with this question of individual sovereignty.
The evolving of a system of Common Law, which was superior to Kings,
parliaments and all other institutions, was essential f or the protection
of the individual. The English-Speaking communities, alone of the
civilised world, are based on the principle of Common Law, that "all
persons, officials, no less than private individuals, are equal before
the law, are judged by the same tribunals, and are subject to the
However, the fact must be faced that the days when the
individual knew what his rights were, and could enter the
Courts to ensure that neither Governments, officials, nor
any group or individual interfered with those rights, are
rapidly passing. The fact that the same technique is being
used to destroy the Common Law in every English-Speaking
country is definite evidence that the attack is coming from
a common source. As far back as 1929, Lord Hewart, one-time
Lord Chief Justice of England, exposed the menace in his
great book. "The New Despotism." Lord Hewart wrote:
"A mass of evidence establishes the fact that there is
in existence a persistent and well-contrived system, intending
to produce, and in practice producing, a despotic power which
at one and the same time places Government departments beyond
the sovereignty of parliament and beyond the jurisdiction
of the Courts."The "persistent and well-contrived system" has
been considerably advanced since Lord Hewart wrote his book, "The
The swollen bureaucratic departments in this country, with their
never-ending stream of regulations and decrees, and the increasing
assaults upon the Federal Constitution, provide such menacing evidence
of the "New Despotism" in Australia that all liberty-loving
citizens must immediately unite to resist it.Our written Federal
Constitution, like the American Constitution, was based upon principles
established in the evolving of the British Constitution. Those people
who talk about our "horse-and-buggy" Constitution are a menace to
our way of life; they cast doubt upon fundamental principles of individual
associations which have not been altered one iota by the fact that
we now have motor cars to travel in instead of buggies. In fact,
because of the vastly increased power which scientific developments
permit a small number of individuals to have over entire communities,
it is more essential than ever that the fundamental principles of
human associations, learned so painfully by the trials and errors
of our forefathers, be clearly re-stated, and their observance insisted
upon. If we are going to allow power-lusters and their dupes to persuade
us that we should forget and ignore the accumulated political experience
of a thousand years, there is indeed no hope for our way of life.
Salvation depends upon sufficient people grasping the real issues
at stake. They are fundamentally the same as those faced by the Barons
and Churchmen when they confronted King John with Magna Carta at
Runnymede in 1215.
THE MENACE OF CENTRALISED POWER
last century, the great English historian, Lord Acton, made the profound
"All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."The
British Constitution was evolved in order to deal with this menace;
the menace of any one man or group of men having too much power.
It was not only necessary to limit the powers of Governments; it
was essential that political power be decentralised by local Governments.
A great many people who want to destroy the Federal Constitution
and local Government in Australia argue that, as there is only
one Government in Great Britain, one central Government should
be sufficient for Australia. These people completely ignore such
local governing institutions in Great Britain as the County Councils,
which, although now being destroyed by the same influences destroying
local Government in Australia, have had powers as great as those
of our State Governments. For example, they controlled their own
police and education.
Local Government is a part of the British tradition. The famous Constitutional
authority, Sir Ed. Creasy, writing in his "History of the English
"The practice of our nation for centuries establishes the rule
that, except for matters of direct general and imperial interest,
centralisation is unconstitutional."
Not only does local Government mean decentralised political power,
it ensures that the individual has a much more effective control
of his political representatives than he has when Government is highly
centralised. The more centralised Government becomes, and the more
powers taken by the central Government, the greater the possibility
of members of Parliament using the excuse of over-work to delegate
power to bureaucrats, who, governing by regulations and decrees which
have the force of law, can destroy the Constitutional safeguards
of the individual's rights. In reply to a deputation which urged
greater powers to the Federal Government at the expense of local
Government, President Calvin Coolidge of the United States of America
said in 1926:
"No method of procedure has ever been devised by which liberty
could be divorced from self-government. No plan of centralisation
has ever been adopted which did not result in bureaucracy, tyranny,
inflexibility, reaction and decline. . . Unless bureaucracy is
constantly resisted it breaks down representative Government, and
It is the one element in our institutions that sets up the pretence
of having authority over everybody and being responsible to nobody." Every
further centralisation of political power automatically creates
conditions which provide the totalitarians with the excuse that
it is "inevitable" that more of the Constitutional safeguards of
the individual's rights be destroyed. Note how artificial shortages
created by high taxation and other controls are used to justify
permanent Federal price control. If we are to have individual rights
and genuine independence in this country, rights and independence
protected by a Constitution which functions and is effective, all
Governments in Australia, particularly the Central Government,
have got to be compelled to disgorge the great powers they now
possess. Not only must the present drive towards centralisation
be stopped; a vigorous policy of decentralisation is essential.
The more genuinely decentralised Government is, the greater degree
of self-determination individuals have over matters essentially
local and peculiar to themselves.
THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT
major part of the totalitarian policy is to further the idea that
Government is an end in itself. This is a comparatively modern
idea in British countries. "Social security" and other plausible
schemes are simply devices to make more and more individuals dependent
upon Governments, and were originated by the same groups striving
to destroy all Constitutional barriers to complete control of the
Another totalitarian idea is that which asserts that once a Government
is elected, it is "anti-democratic" that it should be restrained
in any way by Upper Houses, the Crown, or any other Constitutional
limitations. "It is nowadays the common doctrine of the Constitutional
lawyers and of the politicians, who like the sense of power and especially
of absolute power (which corrupts absolutely), not only that the
Legislature has the last word in law making, a doctrine which is
as old as Augustine and even as old as the hills, but also that its
power in law making is absolute and arbitrary. Parliament is not
limited by the principle of the natural law, that is to say the ordinary
moral law, nor is it limited by the law of God. In the realm of England,
according to this doctrine, men now hold their lives on a lease not
from God but from the State."
(Richard O'Sullivan, K.C., in the English journal, "Nineteenth Century,"
May, 1947.) Those whose policies are still based upon a Christian
philosophy must reject completely the idea that their lives are at
the mercy of an omnipotent Government. If Governments are to be omnipotent,
with no limits to their powers, they could "legally" have people
put to death. This has already happened in many European countries,
while in Great Britain the Attorney-General of the British Socialist
Government, Sir Hartley Shawcross, epitomises the totalitarian conception
of law and the Constitution by claiming that the powers granted to
the Government by the Constitution
"depended entirely on convenience and expediency."
(London "Times," July 22, 1947.) As a result of their 1945 election
victory, the British Socialists claim that a majority in the House
of Commons gives them the right to do as they like for five years,
although anyone with even the most elementary knowledge of the British
Constitution must know that it is Trinitarian, and was evolved for
the purpose of limiting the power of the Commons. Our forefathers
realised the menace of all power being in one set of hands; thus
the House of Lords and the Crown maintaining a state of balance -
and the Common Law over all. In his great classic, "Law and Orders," Professor
C. K. Allen writes
"that the position in the Middle Ages was the converse
of that which exists to-day . . . . all enacted law was subordinate
in the last resort to a supreme, over-riding, Common Law-" The
steady destruction of the influence of the House of Lords
and the Crown, together with the replacing of the Common
Law by bureaucratic lawlessness, has permitted the British
Socialists to proceed to impose upon the British people the
very National Socialism they went to war to destroy. This
is merely following closely the program marked out by the
famous pro-Communist, Professor Harold Laski, who, writing
in his book, "Democracy in Crisis," published in 1933,
said that the filrst task of a newly elected Socialist Government
would be to "take vast powers and legislate under them by
ordinance and decree" and "suspend the classic formulae of
normal opposition."Sir Stafford Cripps, who has been termed
the Economic Dictator of Great Britain, wrote in his book, "Can
Socialism Come by Constitutional Means?", that "The Government's
first step will be to call Parliament together and place
before it an Emergency Powers Bill, to be passed through
all its stages on the first day. This bill will be wide enough
in its terms to allow all that will be immediately necessary
to be done by Ministerial orders. These orders must be incapable
of challenge in the courts or in any way except in the House
of Commons." In a moment of candor Dr. Goebbels once said
that the Nazis merely used the democratic voting system to
obtain office; having office they then "legally" proceeded
to ensure that they had no effective opposition.
It was this very menace that the British Constitution with the House
of Lords and the Crown as a barrier to policies overriding the liberties
of the people, was designed to meet.
The British people have got to take steps to clear away the debris
choking their Constitution in order that once again will it effectively
protect the individual from the arbitrary acts of the Government
The first essential is obviously a restatement and clarification
of those great principles which our forefathers proved so essential
to individual liberty and independence.
Australians can learn a lot from the British Revolution now taking
place. The most obvious lesson is the fact that the written Federal
Constitution in this country has imposed greater effective limitations
upon the Canberra totalitarians than an unwritten British Constitution
has imposed upon Professor Laski and his associates.
Sir Stafford Cripps would find that the Federal Constitution strictly
limits the scope for Ministerial orders "incapable of challenge in
the Courts." Thus the persistent attempts to whittle away the Federal
Constitution as a preliminary to destroying it completely. In considering
the legitimate function of Government, it is essential that it be
realised that British Constitutional developments have always conceived
of the powers of Government as being a grant from individuals to
the Government for the purpose of clearly defined tasks. The modern
totalitarian idea of Governments actually governing the people and
passing a never-ending stream of laws to restrict their activities
and liberties is alien to genuine British tradition.
has been wisely said that the best governed communities are the least
Government should be merely an instrument,
with strictly limited and defined powers, through which individuals
can lay down general rules, the clearer and simpler the better, which
they deem necessary to govern their associations for their particular
areas. The genuine British idea of Government is that it should be
a coordinating factor, preserving the rules decided by electors and
ensuring that no group upset the balance of the community by obtaining
too much power over individuals.
The function of Government is not to take over and direct activities
in the community. Neither is it the function of Government to provide
the individual with "security" from the cradle to the grave. Government
should be used by electors to lay down rules under which the individual
can provide his own security in free association with his fellows.
Some form of Government is required for, say, a community to decide
upon traffic laws for the purpose of governing transport activities.
It will be noted that such laws are not an interference with freedom
of action; they make for greater freedom of action with a minimum
Once the community has decided through Government that all shall
travel on the left-hand side of the road, etc., the function of
Government is to make certain that this rule is observed. The rule
applies equally to all road transport, including Government vehicles.
The totalitarian idea of Government is that not only should it
police the rules of the road, but should arbitrarily tell the users
of the roads when they can travel, where they can travel or, worse
still, create a Government Monopoly of all road transport and prevent
any private transport whatever. The foregoing should briefly indicate
what are the legitimate functions of Government and what are not.
LAW AND CHRISTIANITY
It is interesting to note that John C.
Miller, in his very able commentary on the "Origins of the American
Revolution," shows how the American Revolution was a revolt
against the very idea of Government being imposed upon us today:
"In rejecting natural law, Englishmen also denied the
colonists' contention that there were metes and bounds to
the authority of Parliament."
The authority of Parliament was, in their opinion, unlimited,
and the supremacy of Parliament had come to mean to Englishmen
an uncontrolled and uncontrollable authority. Indeed, the
divine right of kings had been succeeded by the divine right
of Parliament . . .
It was the refusal of Americans to bow before the new divinity
which precipitated the American Revolution." Natural or Common
Law derived directly from the "climate of opinion"
created by the Medieval Christian Church. The destruction of the
Common Law and the fostering of the idea of omnipotent Governments
are a deadly menace to the basic principles of Christianity.
Cannot professing Christians realise that by rallying to cleanse
and preserve our Constitution they are defending their Christian
Faith? Writing of the totalitarian idea of concentrating all power
in the hands of an Omnipotent Government, Sir Henry Slessor has
"The offence to religion in all this is that the notion of man
as an immortal and invaluable soul being lost, those in authority
become increasingly tempted to treat the humble as mere mechanical
parts of a 'planned society' . . . In such a condition, Law,
whose purpose is the protection of the individual, may well be
forgotten and regarded as superfluous."
(Sword of the Spirit," England, November, 1944.)
(Sir Henry Slessor has also said: "The future of the Common Law
is plainly much more than a matter for lawyers.")
WRITTEN FEDERAL CONSTITUTION
In considering the value of our
written Federal Constitution, it is essential to grasp that it
was a grant of special powers from the States to the Federal Government.
Those who framed this Constitution attempted to embody in it what
their forefathers had learned about Governments over centuries.
They realized the menace of centralised Government, particularly
in a vast country like Australia. The people of the States were
only persuaded to vote for Federation on the understanding that
State sovereignties would be protected. Speaking at the Federal
Convention in 1891, Sir Henry Parkes made the issue clear in the
"I think it is in the highest degree desirable that we
should satisfy the mind of each of the colonies that we have
no intention to cripple their rights, to diminish their authority
It is therefore proposed by this first condition of mine
to satisfy them that neither their territorial rights nor
their powers of legislation for the well-being of their own
country will be interfered with in any way that can impair
the security of those rights, and the efficiency of their
legislative powers." Propaganda against the Federal Constitution
has been so successful that large numbers of people say unthinkingly
that Federation was designed to abolish the States. So far
from this being the case, the
"Fathers of Federation" actually made provision in the Federal
Constitution (Chapter VI) for the creation of new States.
No sooner had the Federal Government been created than excuses
were made for the purpose of strengthening it at the expense
of the States, thus proving the truth of the great Lord Bryce's
statement that the tendency of Governments is to increase their
powers. This is particularly true of Central Governments.
FEDERAL PARTIES HAVE ATTACKED CONSTITUTION
In order to understand
the real nature of the growing assaults upon the Federal Constitution,
it is first essential that we recall that all Federal Governments,
Labor and non-Labor, have been responsible for expanding the
powers of the Central Government at the expense of local Government.
The destruction of the British Constitution had started long
before the present Socialist regime obtained power.
A study of all revolutions proves beyond dispute that it is
the first stage of the revolution which is most difficult.
Once the first steps have been taken and momentum established,
it is comparatively easy to increase the momentum. In order
to establish momentum, it is first essential to minimise the
opposition of responsible members of the community by infiltrating
and using professing anti-Socialist Governments.
Having been used to initiate a policy of centralisation, the "moderates"
are progressively forced to adopt more and more centralisation,
or give way to those who are more ruthless and determined.
No mere change in politicians will halt the growing destruction
of Constitutional safeguards. The very fact that all Federal
Governments have increased the powers of the ever-growing bureaucracy
and attacked the Constitution, is definite proof that what
is termed a "change of Government" is not really a change at
With Government becoming more and more centralised and attempting
to direct and control the activities of the community the elected
politicians become more and more dependent upon the permanent
officials and economic "advisers." As Mr. L. S. Amery remarks
in his "Thoughts on the Constitution":
"What we call a change of Government is in fact only a
change in the small, if important, element which is required
to direct the general policy, while recruiting for it Parliamentary
and public support, or at least acquiescence."
A "change in Government" merely means a change in arguments
to gain public support for a central policy which, while it
may be advanced by different methods, does not change. It can
be seen that the important issue confronting us goes far beyond
This is not the place to discuss the pros and cons of Party
Politics, but it is beyond dispute that they are not a barrier
between the people and totalitarianism. Only a permanent effective
Constitution can safeguard individual rights. What is required,
therefore, is a "Defend the Constitution" Campaign,
in which all sections of the community can take part. Party
politicians who are genuinely in favour of individual rights
free from interference by any Government, should readily take
part in all moves to defend all aspects of our Constitution.
Starting from this basis, electors can soon discover who are
genuine opponents of totalitarianism-i.e., centralisation and
government by an irresponsible bureaucracy-and those who are
THE NATURE OF TOTALITARIANISM
essence of totalitarianism, irrespective of whether it is labeled
Socialism or any other "ism," is the creation of the Monopoly State -
the centrally "planned economy." A "planned economy" conceives
of all political, economic, and financial power being in the
hands of one central group, who decide all policy. To the extent
that local governing bodies are maintained, it is merely to
administer the central policy. Now, it is obvious that if a
centrally "planned economy" is to be successful from the point
of view of those imposing it, it is absolutely essential that
there be no power of contracting out for individuals who don't
like the policy. Thus all resources and all Governments must
be controlled by the central planners.
As the British idea
of a Constitution, whether written or unwritten, is a barrier
to the Monopoly State,
it must be destroyed.
Bank nationalisation is merely
one of a long series of attacks upon the Federal Constitution,
which is a barrier to totalitarianism in Australia. Unfortunately
this tact has been nearly obscured by the largely irrelevant
welter of controversy concerning bank nationalisation as
an end in itself rather than a means to an end. Remembering
that all Federal Governments have supported centralisation,
we can now pass to a brief examination of the source and
nature of the totalitarian attack.
SOURCE OF ATTACK ON
In 1946 Professor Harold Laski
visited Stalin, after which he made the significant statement
that the British and the Russians are merely following two
distinct roads to the same objective. As a leading instructor
at the Socialist-cum-Communist London School of Economics,
established by the Fabian Socialists and financed liberally
by the German-Jewish financier, Sir Ernest Cassel, and whose
students are now entrenched as "economic advisers" to all
types of Governments throughout the British Empire, or as
lecturers in Universities, it is essential that we pay attention
to what this pro-Communist says. When Lord Haldane, who said
that his "spiritual home" was in Germany, was asked why his
friend Cassel had financed the London School of Economics,
he said that the school was established
"to raise and train the bureaucracy of the future Socialist
(Professor Morgan, K.C., "Quarterly Review," Jan., 1929.) All
Federal Governments in recent years have been "advised" by
products of the London School of Economics, or by those contaminated
by its doctrines, while the Universities turn out more and
more Socialists and Communists, who are only too keen to advance
the idea of central planning. Now, it is a matter of history
that the Fabian Socialists in Great Britain took most of their
ideas from Germany, where the policy of centralisation was
considerably advanced by Bismarck and the Socialists. It will
be recalled that Karl Marx, a German Jew, said that the British
were too "stupid" to make their own revolution, and therefore
foreigners must make it for them. Bearing in mind Laski's statement
made after seeing Stalin, it is obvious that a special technique
had to be devised to destroy the British Constitutional safeguards.
The fundamental objective was the same as that desired by the
Communists; there was merely a difference of method. Whereas
the Communists believe in seizing power, the Fabians believed
in using electoral methods.
In order to advance their ideas, they, like the Communists,
developed the technique of infiltration. This technique has
been described by Mr. G. B. Shaw, a prominent member of the
"Our propaganda is chiefly one of permeating - we urged our
members to join the Liberal and Radical Associations in their
district, or if they preferred it, the Conservative Associations
- we permeated the party organisations and pulled all the
wires we could lay our hands on with the utmost adroitness
and energy, and we succeeded so well that in 1888 we gained
the solid advantage of a progressive majority full of ideas
that would never have come into their heads had not the Fabians
put them there."
THE NEW DESPOTISM
Socialists were the forerunners of the present British Socialist
created the London School of Economics in 1921, and had it
staffed largely with aliens.
Speaking at the Fabian International Bureau's Conference on
March 15 1942, the chief speaker said: ". . . There is not
much difference between the basic economic techniques of Socialism
This significant statement sheds considerable light upon the
present plight of the British Empire. Mr. and Mrs. Webb, credited
with being partly responsible for the present Russian Constitution,
were two of the leading spirits amongst the Fabians. The historian,
Elie Halery, writes: "I can still hear Sidney Webb explaining
to me that the future belonged to the great administrative
nations, where the officials govern and the police keep order."In
order to reach the totalitarian future desired by the Fabians,
responsible Government had to be destroyed. What was simpler
than the technique of persuading Parliament to pass Enabling
Acts giving officials the authority to make rules and regulations
having the force of law? Even after Lord Hewart had denounced
the "New Despotism" in 1929, and stated that
"What is needed is to re-assert in grim earnest, the Sovereignty
of Parliament and the Rule of Law,"
Professor Laski wrote as follows under the heading "Labour
and the Constitution":
"The necessity and value of delegated legislation . . and
its extension is inevitable if the process of socialisation
is not to be wrecked by the normal methods of obstruction
which existing parliamentary procedure sanctions."
("New Statesman," September 10, 1932.) Laski is also author
of the following statement:
"There is no reason to doubt that the prerogative of the
King seems to men of eminence and experience in politics above
all the means of delaying the coming of Socialism."
This is an open attack upon one of the main pillars of
the British Constitution. Laski and his associates stand
for the Monopoly State, in spite of the fact that our forefathers
insisted upon the great Bill of Rights, one of the landmarks
of British Constitutional development, in order that they
could directly petition the King in order to permit an undesired
law to be altered or reconsidered. Writing in the "Social
Justice Review" (U.S.A.) of December, 1944, Laski lamented
the defeat of the 1944 Referendum in Australia. He made the
following interesting admission:
"Once there has been a division of powers under a Federal
system, it takes something like a political or economic earthquake
to change the categories of the division."
FRONT IN AUSTRALIA
At this point it is of importance
that we recall that in 1936 Dr. H. V. Evatt published a book
"The King and His Dominion Governors." In the preface
to this book, Dr. Evatt writes:
"I am also under obligation to Professor Laski of the
London School of Economics . . .
for much encouragement and advice."
Speaking at Canberra on October 1, 1942, in urging the necessity
of greater powers for the Central Government, Dr. Evatt said
: "I desire to make it perfectly clear that the amendment
[to the Constitution] I propose will give the decision to Parliament
itself, and no person will be able to challenge the validity
of Parliament's decision." Here was a blatant attack upon
the very foundations of our Constitutional safeguards. Dr.
Evatt was, of course, merely echoing the Fabians. He was certainly
not ignorant of the totalitarian idea he was advancing, because
he wrote in his book, "The King and His Dominion Governors," that
"Parliament is the Parliament for the time being only, and
it does not necessarily reflect the will of the electorate
for all purposes and at all times. . By way of illustration
it will be remembered that the Newfoundland Act, 1933 . .
. took away from the people of Newfoundland important rights
of self-government, at the request not of the electors, but
of the Parliament for the time being."
It should be obvious to even the most politically illiterate,
that if once a Government is elected to office it is free to
do as it likes for three or more years, without electors having
any right of redress, there is tyranny. Backed up by Socialist
and Communist economic advisers, the principal one being Dr.
H. C. Coombs, of the London School of Economics, Dr. Evatt
launched the first offensive to establish complete tyranny
in this country when he attempted to persuade the State Governments
to transfer to the Federal Government enormous powers without
the necessity of a Referendum.
Although some of the State Governments, particularly the Upper
Houses, wanted a serious curtailment of the powers before agreeing
to any transfer, it was the Upper House of Tasmania which proved
beyond dispute the necessity of responsible Upper Houses, not
for preventing all Government legislation from being passed,
but to ensure that it is carefully considered before being
passed, and, if necessary, to force the House of Assembly to
take any particular issue to the electors for their ratification.
The Tasmania Upper House said that the Tasmanian House of Assembly,
which was willing to grant the powers sought by Dr. Evatt,
had no mandate from the people to pursue such a policy. The
attitude of the Tasmanian Upper House forced the 1944 Referendum,
at which the electors of Tasmania voted overwhelmingly against
what their House of Assembly had proposed, thus providing a
striking example of the value of the British Constitutional
idea of an Upper House.This does not necessarily mean that
there is no case for a reform of Upper Houses in Australian
States. But they are an integral part of the British idea of
a Constitution, and have their proper role to play. Elected
by the most responsible elements in the community, they make
for stability and prevent "snap" decisions which could create
irreparable damage in the community.
The totalitarians hate stability.
As Professor Laski admitted, an "economic earthquake" is essential.
AND ECONOMIC PLANNING
It was the "economic earthquake" of
the Great Depression which coincided with the creation in Great
Britain of another Fabian Socialist offshoot, Political and
Economic Planning (P.E.P.). This organisation was secretly
launched in 1931, and was controlled by a curious combination
of Big Business representatives, a Director of the Bank of
England. and well-known Socialists.
In April, 1933, it started issuing a series of broadsheets
bearing the title "Planning." The first few issues contained
"You may use, without acknowledgment, anything which appears
in this broadsheet, on the understanding that the broadsheet
and the group are not publicly mentioned, either in writing
Here was the infiltration technique again.
The result was the apparent spontaneous appearance of articles
from different quarters advocating a "planned economy."
The British "Conservative" Party was so successfully
infiltrated that it laid many of the foundations upon which
the present Socialist regime is building. The British "Conservatives" advanced
the P.E.P. idea of Planning Boards to control primary production,
electricity, etc. Similar ideas were propagated in Australia,
the Lyons' Government, no doubt on the advice of its economic "experts," attacking
the Federal Constitution under the guise of the Orderly Marketing
Referendum in 1937.
During this Referendum many members of the present Federal
Labor Government exhorted the electors to resist any attacks
upon the Constitution. They said that a weakening of the Constitution
would lead to Fascism. And yet a few years later they were
themselves attacking the Constitution, proving, as we have
previously noted, that changing politicians does not necessarily
mean a change of Government.
SERVICE" PLAN IN AUSTRALIA
Undoubtedly the first major
success in getting a non-Labor Government in Australia to advance
a Socialist policy was the attempt by the Lyons' Government
to introduce their National Insurance scheme. Long before the
Fabian Socialists brought the idea to Great Britain, the technique
of gaining control of the individual by a compulsory national
insurance scheme had been successfully applied in Germany.
Bismarck had once termed it putting a golden chain around
the necks of the workers. Once the basic idea was introduced
into the English-speaking world, it didn't matter very much
to the sponsors how many arguments there were about the actual
financing of various schemes. Such controversies had the
effect of once again creating the impression that the demand
for various "Social Security" schemes in all parts of the
English-speaking world were spontaneous; they camouflaged
the source of the idea; also the real nature, which, briefly
is designed to take the individual's purchasing power off
him by compulsion and only permit him to get some of it back
if he submits to detailed control by officials.
The economic insecurity of some of the people is used as
an excuse to bring everyone under bureaucratic control. In
his book, "The New Despotism," Lord Hewart specifically
refers to the British Health Insurance Act as an example
of modern tyranny and the destruction of Common Law by the
arbitrary acts of bureaucrats.
In spite of this a non-Labor Government brought English "experts"
to Australia to impose the same tyranny upon Australians.
Although there was such a wave of public indignation, aided
by Labor Members of Parliament - they merely objected to
the method of financing, not the idea - that the Lyons' Government
had to drop the scheme; the election of a Labor Government
revived the idea under the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits
Act of 1944, again proving that a change of politicians does
not mean a change of Government. Any person who has studied
the Gestapo clauses in the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits
Act, and the granting of enormous powers to officials, can
be nothing but appalled that such an Act could be passed
in our Federal Parliament. The compulsory national insurance
idea was given great prominence with the publication of Sir
William Beveridge's famous scheme during the war years. In
lauding this scheme, the "capitalist" press in this and other
British countries did not mention that Sir William had been
a prominent member of the staff of the London School of Economics,
and was on record as saying that the British people must
be prepared to go "half way to Moscow." The most obnoxious
control clauses in Sir William's scheme were, of course,
carefully kept away from the public. These clauses revealed
that "social security" was the bait to persuade the individual
to submit to control by officials. The present non-Labor
Parties are, of course, "sold" on the Socialist compulsory
insurance idea, merely attempting to get support for it by
better arguments than their "opponents."
Not only did the Liberal Party led by Mr. Menzies advocate
compulsory insurance at the 1946 Federal Elections; Mr. Menzies
supported Dr. Evatt's Referendum, conducted with the elections,
for permanent power over "Social Services" for the Commonwealth
Government, thus making a "Yes" vote certain. This opened
the way for a further attack upon individual rights, the
extension of bureaucratic dictatorship and the consequent
destruction of the Common Law.
If, of course, Government is to become more and more centralised,
and is to control all activities in the community by the
creation of a Monopoly of resources and "social service" schemes
which place the individual at the mercy of officials, no
Constitutional safeguards of any description are possible.
The totalitarians know this.
What, then, is to be done to defeat
the menace threatening us?
It may be argued that we need greater written Constitutional
safeguards to restrict the powers of the Central Government
and to protect local Government. It can be taken for granted
that no Federal Government will sponsor any changes to
the Federal Constitution which would limit the Federal
Government's powers. Such constitutional changes will have
to be forced upon the Federal Government by a non-party
and non-sectional campaign by electors who have thoroughly
imbibed the political wisdom accumulated by their forefathers.
But no worth-while Constitutional Convention could take
place while there is such an appalling lack of knowledge
on Constitutional safeguards. The first essential is for
responsible members of the community to give a lead by
first obtaining a thorough understanding of fundamental
Constitutional principles, as a prelude to encouraging
their fellows to discuss them. The fundamental issue is
merely common sense. No game can be successfully played
unless players thoroughly understand the rules of the game
and obey them. Society also needs rules, rules which, if
generally respected and obeyed, ensure that individuals
in free association can make provision for their own independence,
knowing in advance exactly what the "rules of the game" are
and how they will affect them.
The rules must strictly
limit and define the power of Government to the absolute
minimum commensurate with the legitimate function of Government.
The rules having been laid down, it is then essential
to protect them by resisting any attempts to break them or
by-pass them. The League of Rights exists to foster a more
widespread understanding of our traditional British Constitutional
safeguards as a preliminary to making them effective. No
Constitution can survive in the absence of an enlightened
public opinion. Such opinion must be immediately fostered.
Undoubtedly the most urgent task of all is to rally the entire
community to defend the existing Federal Constitution, which
stands as a barrier to the policies of the totalitarians.
The Identity and methods of the totalitarians attacking our
Federal Constitution must be exposed. Persistent educational
work is urgently required to make the community "Constitution
conscious." Every policy which helps the totalitarians in
their attacks upon the Constitution must be exposed and opposed.
Having successfully defended the present Constitution and
engendered a more widespread understanding of Constitutional
safeguards, positive steps can then be taken to frame a new
Bill of Rights, which will guarantee that there shall be
that British and Christian society in which
"they shall sit every man under his own vine
and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid."