"BATTLES" IN BRUNSWICK.
LAW TO BE AMENDED.
"Communists Entitled to Speak."
Bitter protests at the manner in which the chief commissioner of police (Major-
General T. A. Blamey) was "preventing free speech and breaking up street meet- ings" in Brunswich were made by members of a deputation from the Brunswick Coun- cil to the Chief Secreatary (Mr. Macfarlan) yesterday.
"Without any discretion, mounted troopers drove men, women, and children off the footpaths in Sydney road into the path of traffic on Friday nights," said Coun- cillor B. Wylie. "I have seen this many times myself, and strongly object to it. If the police are out to check communism their actions are actually creating Com- munists and spreading communism."
The mayor of Brunswick (Councillor H. J. Kingshott) said that even councillors had been driven off the footpaths by mounted constables on Friday nights. "The street where men usually try to speak is Phoenix street," he said. "This at night is a blind street as the railway gates are locked at night, and completely block it. There are no residences in it, and the idea that a small crowd around a speaker is ob- structing the traffic is an absolute bogy.
The people of Brunswick are complaining bitterly at the action of the chief commis- sioner of police in this matter." Councillor Kingshott added that in the recent Boroon- dara by-election, men of every shade of
political opinion had spoken in the streets,
but no action had been taken by the police, yet free speech was denied in Brunswick.
Councillor G. Hooper, a former mayor:
—"I would like to know if there is one law for Brunswick and another for the rest of Victoria. Every Friday night we see 60 constables and six to nine mounted troopers in Brunswick, and we have the spectacle of a battle in the streets. Some of our best citizens are gettting knocked down and injured."
"Communists Not Outlaws."
The town clerk (Mr. McGregor Dawson)
—I dissociate myself from any complaint about the chief commissioner of police. I do object, however, to decent people being driven off the footpath. Deputation after deputation has waited on the council and asked it to preserve the right of free speech. I believe that since Communists
have not been declared outlaws they have the same right to speak as anybody else. I fearlessly say that a short time ago, when there were 3,000 unemployed in Brunswick, and the Government allowed £500 a month toward the provision of food for their wives and families, the foundations of communism were laid. Communism has undoubtedly grown, but not to an alarming
Mr J. Jewell, M.L.A., who introduced the deputation stressed the fact that the happenings in Brunswick on Friday nights had very had effects on trade, many shop- keepers having to remove the goods on dis- play outside and shut their doors early.
Mr. Macfarlan agreed that the present position in Brunswich was highly undesir- able. "I agree that shoppers are being in- convenienced, and I have seen Phoenix street, and can see nothing wrong with it as a place for speaking," he said. "The law at present says that you must not obstruct the footpath in any way, and in many inter-
views Major General Blamey has told me that all he has done has been to enforce the law, and neither myself nor anybody else can instruct him to disregard it. So far as Boroondara is concerned, there was an election there, and Major-General Blamey has told me that when an election is on he "puts his telescope to his blind
eye," so to speak. Whether this is logical
is, of course, debatable.
"We have decided to amend the law re- garding street meetings, and I have sub- mitted to the Attorney General (Mr.
Menzies) my ideas of an amendment which he will criticise and return. We hope that Parliament will deal with it quickly. I am endeavouring to have the amendment separated from the general amendments to the Police Offences Act. The present con- ditions cannot congtinue. There is nothing illegal about communism so long as Com- munists express their views without ex- citing anybody to violence. They are as much entitled to express their views as Sunday school teachers or Salvationists."