8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present, for the information of honorable members, the second General Papers Index, being the index to papers presented to both Houses during the period 1910-19, the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Parliaments, and to certain papers not formally presented.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act - (Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1921, Nos. 183, 184, 185.
New Guinea Act-Ordinances of 1921 -
No. 13- Customs Tariff (Amendment).
No. 14 - Intoxicating Liquors (No. 2),
No. 15 - Business Tax (Amount).
No. 16 - Treasury.
No. 17- Appropriation, 1921-22.
Papua- Ordinance of 1921- No. 5- Trust Fund Advances.
Public Service . Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1921, No. 152.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has any information as to the names or number of the Powers that have been invited by the President of the United States of America to attend the Washington Disarmament Conference? Secondly, whether he has any information as to the subjects to be discussed at the said Conference?
– In reply to the honorable gentleman I have to say that I have some information, which came to hand yesterday, as to the names of the Powers, or some of them, that have been invited by the President of the United States of America to attend the Washington Disarmament Conference. In reply to the honorable gentleman’s second question, concerning the subjects to be dis-. cussed, I have some information as to those subjects, but it is not exclusive.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to make a statement as to the intention of the Government on the subject of the representation of Australia at the Washington Disarmament Conference?
– I shall make a statement to-morrow as soon as’ the House meets of the policy of the Government in, regard to that matter.
Mr. GREGORY, on behalf of the Public Works Committee, presented reports from the Committee on the proposed erection of offices for the Taxation and! other Commonwealth Departments in Sydney, and on the erection of automatic telephone exchanges at Ascot Yale and North Melbourne, Victoria.
Ordered to be printed.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he has noticed in the press the statement that the Government of New Zealand have made what appear to be giltedged arrangements for supplies of sugar for the Dominion for. the coming twelve mouths. Can he give the House any information concerning arrangements for supplies of sugar to Australian consumers during the same period ?
– All I can say is that this year’s crop promises to provide ample supplies to meet the whole of Australia’s requirements until the next crop is harvested in 1923.
– At what price?
– At the ruling price - 6d. per lb.
– New Zealand is getting sugar at 4¾d. per lb.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether there is any likelihood of a discussion taking place in this House between now and Christmas concerning the proposed Federal Convention?
– As soon as the House is in a position to deal with the question of the Convention a Bill will be brought down.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he can announce any policy to deal with the unemployment amongst returned soldiers, as evidenced by the corporate action of the Association of Unemployed Soldiers ? The right honorable gentleman might be good enough at the same time to make a reply to the letter which I addressed to him in regard to a deputation on the matter.
– The soldiers of Australia are quite capable of putting their views before the Government and before
Mie. Whenever they so desire, it will ibo a very simple matter for them to see me. There is no need of intervention. They are citizens of this country.
War Service Homes in Country Districts.
– I ask (the Assistant Minister for Repatriation, in view of the success of the recent loan, whether he can give any information as to when the building of War Service Homes will be continued, or in some cases commenced, outside the metropolitan areas?
– I recently dealt with this question in another form in answer to a question by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath). Building operations are in progress in all the States. A financial allocation has just taken place of the funds available for the present financial year. To answer the honorable member’s question now would be to anticipate ‘ one which appears on the notice-paper in the name of the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cameron). If the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) will listen to the reply to that question be will obtain the’ information he desires.
– I ask the Minister for Home and Territories if he can inform the House when, if ever, the various necessary Commissioners will be appointed to redistribute the Federal Electoral Divisions ?
– The personnel of the Redistribution Commission has been selected, but the convenience of the various State Governments must be consulted in the appointment of the State representatives on the Commission. I have been in communication with the State Governments on the matter and have obtained replies from four of them. I am awaiting replies from the other two.
Erection of Hostel and Convention Hall
– I ask the Minister for Works and Railways if he remembers the promise which was made by the Prime Minister at the beginning of this year that two halls and a hostel would be erected at Canberra, and to say whether it is his intention to carry out that promise or not.
– The matter to which the honorable gentleman refers was considered and specially referred to the Federal Capital .Advisory Committee. It was subsequently ‘considered by the Cabinet and, later, was dealt with in the final report of the Federal Capital Advisory Committee.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the trip across Australia by aeroplane, which is being undertaken by Mr. Francis Birtles, is being made at the request and at the expense of the Commonwealth Government.
– I am informed that it is not. I noticed the statement appearing in the press, that Mr. Birtles was going across Australia by aeroplane. I was speaking, of the matter only a few minutes ago, and I expressed the opinion that it is most extraordinary that a man should act as a special correspondent supplying information to the press at the same time that he was ostensibly carrying out a Government mission.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been called to the fact that a postman temporarily employed has been discharged because it was found that he had six children ?
– I have not heard anything of the case.
– In view of the fact thatthe Estimates for the current year include a provision of £6,000,000 for defence, will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House whether Cabinet has considered the manufacture of explosives, as stated by the Minister on 7th July (vide Hansard, page 9820). If the factory at Maribyrnong is closed down distress will be caused to the employees, and this country may be left without explosives for defence purposes.
– So f ar as I know, the Government have not given any further consideration to this matter.
Alleged Flogging of Natives
– Abouta week ago the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), who was then Acting. Prime Minister, was: reported to have said that he was having: an. inquiry made into the allegations concerning the flogging of natives in German New Guinea. Has suchinquiry been made? If so, by whom, and was it held in open Court or in camera?
– I know nothing of any such inquiry. I dare not incur any further expense in connexion with a matter like that.
– Did the right honorable gentleman make any statement about allegations regarding the flogging of natives ?
– If I made any statement at all it was to discountenance the reports in the press as having emanated from interested sources - namely, from disgruntled men who have been discharged from the Service.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways; upon notice -
Whether he will have a statement prepared and tabled showing definite details of expenditure on Naval Bases, works and establishments included in the amount of £179,500 shown on page 398 of the Loan Estimates for. the year 1921-22?
Mr-. GROOM. - The answersto the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice-
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. The Ministerhas no personal knowledge as to the extent of unemployment at Lithgow, but he has no doubt that a number of men arc now badly circumstanced owing to the necessity of reducing the staff at the Small Arms Factory.
It is not possible for the Defence Department to provide further employment for such men; as a matter of fact, reductions in staff have been universal throughout the Department for some time past.
The matter of unemployment is one which it is considered falls appropriately within the jurisdiction of the State Governments, but as far as returned soldiers are concerned, the Commonwealth Government, as intimated in reply to a question by the honorable member for Hindmarsh last week, is in communication with the States in connexion with the employment of returned soldiers in Australia.
asked the Post master-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What amounts as commission were paid to Messrs. James Bell and Company, J. Darling and Sons, L. Dreyfus and Son, and Dalgety and Company, respectively, from 1915 to June, 1921, for handling and marketing Australian products?
– The amount of commission paid in London on oversea sales to the firms named according to latest advices is £261,800. The amount paid to the individual firms is not known. Handling charges are paid by the State organizations. These services do not affect the operations of the Australian Wheat Board, which is not supplied with particulars of payments made.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Whether the Minister will state how the moneys available during the present financial year for War Service Homes will bo allotted amongst the various States?
– Funds for the provision of homes under the War Service Homes Act will, subject to approved applications, be allotted to each State during the present financial year on an enlistment basis. At a recent conference of Deputy Commissioners I gave special instructions that country construction should be pushed ahead.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
In accordance with the terms of bequest and directions of the executors, the amount available will be devoted to the education of children of members of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Forces who served on active service abroad in the war recently waged against Germany and her allies, who -
The trustees are now engaged in preparing the necessary details in order to give effect to the object in view, and hope being able, at an early date, to announce the form of procedure necessary in order that those who are eligible may receive educational assistance.
– On Friday last the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asked me questions concerningthe delayed settlement in certain War Service Homes transactions. I have sinceascertained that in the cases of Webb and Hopkins, the money was made available by the Deputy Crown Solicitor on the 23rd ultimo, and that settlement has been; fixed for Tuesday, the 4th instant. In Bromhead’s case, as anticipated, this is an old system title, and the requisitions made to the vendor on the title have not yet been complied with.
– (By leave.) - Word has just come to hand that the Hon. John Storey, Premier of New South Wales, has died, and although it is not usual for this House to take cognisance of the decease of members of StateParliaments, the circumstances are such that we ought not to hesitate to create a precedent. For the last thirty-three years or more I have known John Storey intimately. I was in close association with him for more than a quarter of a century. I met him frequently at conferences and other gatherings of the Labour movement, and although since the unfortunate schism which developed out of the events of 1916, he and I have been opposed on political questions, I have always, like every other man who knew him intimately, been pleased beyond measure to call him my friend. It seems but yesterday that I wished him bon vat/age on his departure for Ms recent tour to England, and coming, as I do, quite fresh from that environment - perhaps the most difficult in the world - I think I ought to say that there he earned the golden opinions of all sorts and conditions of men. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales spoke of him in most kindly and even affectionate terms, and members of all parties in Great Britain who had listened to him were impressed by his intense earnestness and sincerity. His health for a long while, as honorable members well know, had been most unsatisfactory, and while he was in England he was compelled to rest for some time, but it was hoped that the voyage to the Old Country and back again would give him a new lease of life. That hope has unhappily not been realized. This sterling upright man has gone from among us after devoting his life to the service of his country. He compelled the respect of all sections. There are wide differences of political opinion in the State of New South “Wales, but I venture to say that there is not one citizen of the State who reads the unutterably sad news of its Premier’s death, but will be most profoundly moved, and will share in the overwhelming sorrow that his wife, family, and intimate friends must feel at his loss. On the spur of the moment, we cannot perhaps do justice to his memory, but the verdict of his fellow citizens, matured by the passage of time, will do so, and he will be seen to stand out as a man who served hia country with a single-minded devotedness that left no room for criticism. Political opponents he had in abundance, but personal enemies he had none. I regret, beyond the power of mere words to express, that this honorable man, this earnest worker for the cause of the people, has been taken away. I shall always feel when I return to New South Wales, where I have spent the greater part of my life, that there is a familiar and dear face missing. As long as I have known the Labour movement, and been a fighter in the political arena in Australia, John Storey has been one of the foremost figures. At every conference, in every public movement, during the whole of my long career, he has been in the vanguard. In the earliest* days of the movement with which I was so long associated he was a tireless worker. During the last few years he and I have not been able to see eye to eye, but that fact has not in the slightest degree affected our friendship. The public life of Australia is the poorer for his death. John Storey has gone, and a gap has been made that cannot be readily filled. It has been said that movements are everything, and men are nothing, but there is in such a sweeping statement a fallacy too obvious to need rebuttal. No movement can be superior to the characters of the men who lead and compose it. He was a man of upright character. A man of whom it can be said that any cause he espoused was richer and better for hi3 support. On behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth, and of this Parliament, I express profoundest regret at his death. I tender to the Parliament of New South Wales our sincerest sympathy; but in particular jio I tender to his widow - whom it was my privilege to know - and to his family the very deepest sympathy. I hope that the esteem in which the late honorable gentleman was held by all sorts and conditions of- men may soften, in some measure, the sharp edge of their sorrow. The honorable gentleman was not a member of this Parliament, and so we cannot express our regret and our sympathy in a formal resolution, as will be proper for the Parliament of New South Wales. But, to the bereaved family, to the citizens of that State, and to the members of the New South Wales Parliament, let me say, on behalf of the Commonwealth, that we will not take second place to any in the expression of our sincere sorrow, and in our testimony to the sterling qualities of the man who, to-day, has been taken from us.
.- (By leave.) - It is with feelings of very deep regret that I rise to indorse the utterances of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). It is my lot to have to express the ‘sorrow of the Australian Labour party over the loss which that party and its members have sustained by the death of our beloved comrade, the Premier of New South Wales. I - like the Prime Minister - knew the late Mr. John Storey for very many years. When I was a member of the New South Wales Parliament we were close personal friends, and we remained so throughout. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Storey recently, but it was with feelings of great concern that I heard of his illness. I was hoping, just as was the Prime Minister, that the late honorable gentleman’s trip abroad would have restored him to health. However, fate has willed otherwise. The Labour movement has sustained the loss of a very able exponent, one who stood in the front rank,, one who - again I support the words of the Prime Minister - was straightforward and conscientious, a man whose word was his bond. Irrespective of party feelings, every man will admit that h© could always depend upon John Storey doing what he considered absolutely right according to his lights. The Labour movement, I repeat, has sustained a very severe loss. It does seem hard that our cause should have been called upon to pay such heavy toll in these latter days. It has been our unhappy lot, almost frequently of late, to have to pay tribute to the sterling qualities of such men and to sorrow over the departure of loved comrades and able leaders in the Labour movement. I can only state’ that our movement deeply regrets the death of the Premier of New South Wales. I cannot add that his loss will be irreparable-for that statement cannot truly apply to any man. But I do say that the iata Mr. Storey has left a gap in the public life of his State and of this country which will not be easily filled. There are few men of his calibre to-day. He was a native of Australia. His whole thought was for the well-being and the general advancement of his fellow-men. It is, indeed, unfortunate that one of his great standing and so widely useful a public character should have been cut off in the prime of his life. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the widow and children; I join with the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister with respect to the bereaved family. I hope that the knowledge that their loved one was held in such high respect throughout Australia, and even - as the Prime Minister has said - in the Old Country, where he created such a favorable impression during his recent ‘visit, will afford them some solace in their hour of trial, and will assist them to bear the great blow which has fallen.
. - (By leave.) - I associate myself with’ the leaders of the other parties in this House in paying a tribute of respect to the memory of the late Mr. Storey, Pre mier of New South Wales. Like both of the other speakers, I have had. the pleasure and privilege of personal friendshipwith Mr. Storey. It is to be deeply regretted that - practically in the prime of life, with his powers developed probably to the full, and just after having attained a public position which would have permitted him to translate his ideals into practice - he should have been cut off. He died really at his post, worn with toil in his country’s cause. New South Wales has lost a very able statesman, aud the country districts of that Stated - I refer especially to the north coast of New South Wales - have lost a true friendand advocate. His knowledge of the New South Wales country districts was extensive. The political record of the late Premier was absolutely clean. He spent practically the whole of his life in politics, and I believe that the least taint of suspicion, could never have been attached either to his motives or his actions. Though many men differed from him in political opinion, yet every one recognised his absolute honesty, the sterling character of the man. The whole of New South Wales is sorrowing over the loss sustained by Mr. Storey’s death. On behalf of my colleagues, I sincerely join in the expressions of condolence with the widow and children.
.- As one who was associated with the late Mr. Storey for practically the whole of his life, I desire to join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), and the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page), in their expressions of sympathy at the passing of the late honorable gentleman. I was first associated with him at school, and again in the workshop, and when he was called to represent the people in Parliament his advent to public life was marked by one of those generous actions which were always characteristic of him. During a selection ballot, one of his political opponents was unable to’ obtain the necessary signature to complete his nomination form, and John Storey was the man who came forward and signed the nomination paper of his opponent. That characteristic has been stamped upon him during the whole of his public life. I am “deeply grieved to learn of his death, because it is indeed a loss to the country when such’ men are cut off on the threshold of a long, useful, public career. The late John Storey was one whom it was an honour to know, and was one whom all sections of the community, including princes and proletariat, delighted to call ‘ ‘ Honest John.” The late Mr. Storey has gone down to his grave bearing the genuine respect of the people and upon his tombstone could well be inscribed the words, “Honest John. He nobly did his duty as a public man.”
– Although there is no motion before the House, I think I should be meeting the wishes of honorable members if I asked them to rise in their places as a mark of respect to the deceased gentleman.
Honorable members rose accordingly.
Status of Dominions - Empire’s Foreign Policy - Anglo-Japanese Treaty - The Pacific Problem - Disarmament Conference - Constitutional Conference - Reparation - Communication by Air, Land, and Sea, including Wireless - Immigration - British Indians - Empire Patents - Nationality - New Hebrides.
– I desire to make a statement–
– Before leave is granted I desire to submit a question.
– I cannot allow a question to be asked at this juncture.
– I merely desired to ascertain whether the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) will conclude his statement with a motion, so that honorable members may have an opportunity of debating the whole ofthe matters to which he refers.
– I shall conclude with a motion.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Prime Minister have leave to make a statement?
– I shall move that certain papers be printed, and on that motion a discussion can take place. It will be within the recollection of honorable members that I made a statement to the House on Friday last, covering that portion of the work of the Im perial Conference which related to foreign affairs, various Imperial matters, and the suggested Constitutional Conference, which I referred to in my statement to the House before leaving Australia. At the conclusion of my speech I mentioned that there were a number of matters that time did not permit me then to deal with, and that, with the permission of the House, I proposed to make a statement in regard to these matters to-day. Perhaps it would be well that, atthe outset, I should state what these matters are. They are - reparation ; communication by land, air, and sea, including wireless telegraphy and telephony; immigration, so far as it was dealt with at the Conference; the position of British Indians within the Empire; Empire patents; nationality; and the condominium in the New Hebrides.’ I shall devote the greater part of the time at my disposal to setting out the position in regard to reparation and communications. A brief summary of the events leading up to the position of the reparation question as it stood when the Imperial Conference met is, perhaps, necessary in order that honorable members may better appreciate the. precise nature of the problems with which the Conference had to deal. I must take honorable members for a moment back to the pre-armistice days, and remind them that peace was made on the basis of President Wilson’s fourteen points.
– That was the last we heard of them.
– Those fourteen points precluded the exaction by way of indemnity from Germany of the cost of the war.
– That is a good joke.
– As a result, various Commissions, Conferences, and Councils have, in their turn, shaped the reparation position as it now stands. The Allies did not have before them a clean slate, and so were unable to consider reparations on their merits. They had to consider reparations as limited by President Wilson’s fourteen points. After the armistice a Committee appointed by the British Government, of which I was the Chairman, was appointed to inquire into the question of indemnities. It made its report to the Government in due course, and’ I shall not weary honorable members with the decisions of that Committee, or of any of the subsequent Commissions and Conferences that met to discuss this matter, until I come to the final recommendation which was adopted. When the Peace Conference was assembled it appointed a Reparation Commission on which all the Powers had representation. I was the Chairman of the British delegation, and the Vice-Chairman of the Commission. This Commission sat for many months, and finally made .a report to the Council of Four. I shall not touch upon this subject further than to say that the Council of Four, in their wisdom, drafted the articles relating to reparations embodied in the Treaty of Versailles, to which we were signatories. It has to be noted that the Treaty of Versailles did not fix the total amount which Germany had to pay. That is a fundamental fact which I want honorable members to bear in mind. The Council appointed a Reparation Commission, to whom it intrusted the task of attempting to compute what amount Germany ought to pay under the several categories. Meanwhile the Treaty of Versailles required Germany to pay, by May, 1921, as a first instalment, the sum of £1,000,000,000 sterling; The Treaty was signed, the Conference disbanded, and the members of the Reparation Commission began their work. A body of opinion, growing stronger every day, demanded the fixation of the amount. It was felt that until this was determined reconstruction in Germany would be impossible, and conditions in Europe could never become normal. An unlimited obligation is one which no nation can bear, and still devote the whole of its attention to the business before it. The people of a nation must know where they stand. This position was at length recognised, and various attempts were made to fix the amount of Germany’s liability. There followed a series of Conferences, beginning at San Remo, at which the representatives of all the Great Powers were present, to consider those outstanding questions which the Treaty of Versailles had left unsettled. The San Remo Conference recommended that the matter be discussed and settled at the Spa Conference. Before the Spa Conference took place a Conference of the Allied Governments was held at Boulogne, where a scheme, was prepared for the eventual discharge of Germany’s liability. The Spa Conference, being occupied .with the pressing questions of disarmament and coal deliveries, did not consider the question of reparations. The matter was then remitted by the Great Powers to the Brussels Conference of Experts to determine what, in fact, was to be the amount to be paid by Germany in cash or kind. This Conference made its recommendation, which was, however, incomplete, as it proposed to postpone for future settlement the fixing of the total amount to foe paid by Germany. This brings us to the meeting of the Supreme Council in Paris on 24th January of this year. That body rejected the recommendation of the Brussels Conference, and itself made certain other recommendations. The Supreme Council met again in London on the 2nd March, when German delegates attended and submitted counter-proposals which were hopelessly inadequate. On the 7th March lie German Government definitely rejected the Paris proposals; whereupon the Supreme Council, rightly determining that there must be finality as to the amount Germany should be called upon to pay, decided to impose the sanctions, using the term in its legal connotation. Dusseldorf and the ports south of the Ruhr were at once occupied, steps were taken to collect 50 per cent, of the sale price of all German” exports to Allied Countries, and to seize the proceeds of German Customs in the occupied territories, and Customs barriers were established upon the Rhine. Them the Reparation Commission, in accordance with the Treaty, fixed’ Germany’s total liability at 132 milliards of gold marks, the equivalent of £6,600,000,000. On 26th April of this year Germany made fresh proposals to the Supreme Council in London, which body, on 30th April, declared them to be inadequate, and on the. 5th May an ultimatum was sent to the German Government to declare their readiness to carry out their obligations as defined by the Reparations Commission. The Reparations Commission’s demands, which are now definitely accepted by Germany, are as follow : -
The German Government to issue bonds of three series to represent this liability, carrying interest at 5 per cent., and with a 1 per cent. cumulative sinking fund : -
Payment to be made by Germany as follows : -
German Government as security for the service of the bonds. These revenues to comprise the Customs (including proceeds of 25 per cent. export tax) or any other alternative revenues proposed by German Government and approved by Committee of Guarantees (consisting of representatives of Allied Governments represented on Separation Commission, the United States of America, if the latter so desire, and in due course three other Powers), which will supervise monies derived from assigned revenues without possessing any right to interfere in German administration.
The ultimatum having been presented to the German Government, the demands of the Allies were unconditionally accepted on the 11th May, and on the 20th June, when the Imperial Conference met, Germany had already taken the following measures : -
The German Government had generally complied with the preliminary requirements of the Reparation Commission’s decisions. The amount that Germany had to . pay had been fixed, and she had done all that was required of her up to that time. Now I come to a point that will interest honorable members more than general observations on arrangements which were outside our scope, and which we could not have modified, no matter how closely we had been informed of them. The amount fixed to be paid by Germany was to be an aggregate payment to the whole of the Allied and Associated Powers, and the allocation of this payment amongst the various belligerents had to be determined. This was a difficult problem, because it was necessary to take into consideration the circumstances of each belligerent. Germany, under the Treaty, was required to pay for all damage done to civilians by land, sea, or air. It followed, therefore, that those countries which had suffered direct destruction of property by the war were entitled to very much. morel than countries like Great Britain and Australia, that had escaped such destruction. The destruction of property, apart from shipping, sustained by Great Britain, was inconsiderable. In the case of France and Belgium, on the other hand, the damage was almost incalculable. The other claims fell under the headings of pensions, separation allowances, damage to shipping, and damage to civil persons.
It was agreed by the Allies to allot to the British. Empire 22 per cent, of the amount paid by Germany; to- France, 52 per cent.; Italy, 10 per cent.; Belgium, 8 per cent.; Japan, .75 per cent.; Portugal, .75 per cent. ; and the other Powers, 6.5 per <rent. between them. The British Government was asked by the Dominions to suggest a basis for the distribution among the parts of the Empire of the 22 per cent, that had been allotted as its share of the indemnity, and it was supplied by the Dominions Governments with particulars of their war expenditure not excluded by exPresident Wilson’s fourteen points.. At the Peace Conference I had claimed an indemnity of £454,000,000 on behalf of Australia. The greater_ portion, of that claim had relation to what may be termed the cost of the war. That claim was ruled out except so far as it included the capitalized value of pensions, separation allowances, actual losses of snipping, and the Eke. The same ruling applied also to Great Britain’s claim. The cost of the war to Great Britain was, roughly speaking, £6,000,000,000, but, as the total amount of indemnity available for all the belligerents is £6,600,000,000, it is obvious that if the British Empire receives 22 per cent, of that sum, it cannot get, at the outside, more than £1,452,000,000. For the distribution of the Empire’s share of the indemnity between Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, India, New Zealand, and Australia, six tables, which varied considerably because compiled on different bases, were prepared, but the basis finally proposed gave to Australia 4.04 per cent, of the 22 per cent. There was a, long discussion upon this proposal, for each of the Dominions - as honorable members can quite understand - and Great Britain, too, had excellent reasons for urging an adjustment on a basis favorable to itself. Ultimately I was successful in getting Australia’s share increased from 4.04 to £63,162,000, or 4.35 per cent., which gave us exactly the same proportion as Canada, and, on the whole, I think we may accept that as satisfactory. Canada, of course, had raised more troops than Australia. -She has a population of about 8,500,000, and if a -certain basis had been accepted would have been entitled’ to considerably more than the sum I haw mentioned. The total amount claimed by the Allies is 132,000,000,000 gold marks, of which the British Empire is to get 22 per cent., or 29,040,000,000 gold marks. Australia’s share of this, viz., 4.35 per cent., is 1,263,240,000 gold marks, which, allowing 20 gold marks to the £1, equals £63,162,000. The present depreciation of the German currency must, of course, be left out of consideration, because the indemnity is to be paid in gold marks. What matters is the appreciation or depreciation of the gold sovereign. Taking the present depreciation of the sovereign into account, and converting at 15 gold marks to the £1, Australia’s share is equal to £84,216,000. Therefore, the difference between the 4.04 per cent, originally arranged for and the 4.’35 per cent, which I obtained is £6,001,600.
When the armistice was concluded, Germany was occupied by the Allied troops, and under the Treaty which provided for the payment by Germany of the cost of maintaining the armies of occupation, the only troops to be paid for were those actually in that country. As it happened, there were very few Australian soldiers in Germany, so that when I reached England the allocation of thi?, payment to the different parts of the Empire was as follows: - Great Britain was to receive £14,684,000; Canada, £1,383,000; New Zealand, £622,000; and Australia, £1,000. I need hardly tell honorable members that that arrangement did not appear to me satisfactory, and I felt that it would not be satisfactory to them. I, therefore^ pressed with considerable emphasis the view that it was the business of a soldier to go where he was sent; and that it was a mere accident that the Australian soldiers had not been drafted into Germany, where, it must be understood, there was no danger whatever at that time, the war being over. The Commonwealth had, of course, to maintain its troops abroad, and these were stationed mainly in Northern Belgium and in France, and all within a very few miles of the ‘German bonder. But as they were not actually in Germany, the amount allocated to us was, as I have said, only £1,000. I said it would be fairer to make the allocation proportionate to the number of troops in Europe from each part of the Empire - that is to say, in France, Belgium, and Germany. That would have given Great Britain, £14,366,000; Canada, £1,212,000; New Zealand, £162,000; and Australia, £950,000. Naturally, this alternative allocation did riot appeal so strongly to my colleagues at the Conference as to myself. After a discussion extending over some days, and as a result of negotiations, of which I need not further speak, it was agreed that Great Britain should receive £14,050,000; Canada, £1,297,000; New Zealand, £507,000; and Australia, £835,000. The net result of this agreement is that we get £834,000 more than we would otherwise have obtained in respect of the army of occupation.
I have already spoken of the further gain in the indemnity proper, amounting to £6,000,000. But there is a very great distinction to be drawn between these two items. He would be ‘a bold man who would venture to say how much of this indemnity Germany will be paying in ten years from now. Although I have sometimes, emulating the prophet Elijah, essayed flights into the. upper air, in this instance I prefer to walk on firm ground, and .content myself with saying that I do not know - nor does any other living man- know - how much of this amount Germany will pay. But I direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that the allocation of the cost of the armies of occupation is on quite a different footing. In that case, it is not what is to be, but what actually is. As a result of the decisions that were arrived at, there is now lying to our credit in respect of the allocation of the cost of the armies, of occupation £835,000 in cash. With that I leave this matter, feeling perfectly confident that honorable members will approve of what has been done.
With regard to the corpus of reparation, I can only say that, whatever the belligerents get, we shall get our share in the increased proportion to which I have referred. Whatever the total may be, the increase in our share, which was agreed to, is a distinct gain to Australia. However much the total amount may be cut down, the increase in the proportion which we shall receive remains.
I wish only to say one word more before I turn from this subject. It is impossible to deal this afternoon with the economic effect of the payment of indem nities by Germany to the Allied countries. Whether it will be good or bad remains to be seen, but there is one position which, this Parliament will have to face. It will have to decide ‘whether Germany is to be allowed to send her goods here. At the present’ time Australia is the only country in the world which does not trade with Germany. France trades with (Germany, but we do not. I make no reflection on any other country, nor do I claim any particular credit for the position which Australia has taken up ; but, as a matter of fact, we are the only people in the world who are saying the same thing now that we said during the war. That may be wrong or it may be right. There are two points which I ask honorable members to consider. Nothing is more certain than that if we maintain our present attitude, as time goes on German goods will trickle in through other channels. The other j>oint, of course, is that we ! ha,v to sell our own goods. There has been -no embargo on the sale of our goods te> Germany, and, of course, as honorable members are aware, ‘Germany has bought, and is buying, our wool. Naturally, there can be no hope of that return to normal conditions which the world longs for so earnestly unless, and until, Russia and Central Europe are able to produce and to dispose of their wealth. Honorable members will have an opportunity to express their opinions on these problems, and I shall no doubt be able to gather what their views may be.
– Is it not ,a fact that German goods are already coming into Australia through other channels ?
– I cannot say. I have said that, in all human probability, they will come through. The honorable member says they are coming through. All I can say in reply to the honorable member’s interjection is that we have the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) here; let him give the information.
I turn from the question of reparation to that of communication, by sea, by land, by air, and by wireless telegraphy and telephony. In dealing with this matter before the Conference, I pointed out its importance at some length. I said -
The matter with which I shall deal as shortly as possible is one of the greatest importance to the Empire. Its ramifications ‘ are very wide. First of all, I lay it .down that the vital need of the Empire .to-day is close communication between each Dominion and Britain, and among the Dominions themselves. -This is necessary for political, strategical and commercial reasons. A short statement of the position in which we find ourselves to-day may be permitted. The British Empire is made up of a group of nations distributed widely over the face of the earth, and just at the time when the people of these nations find themselves in need of closer association, when, indeed, rapid and efficient means of communication are essential to their very existence as an Empire, applied science and technical knowledge have placed within their grasp means by which they can communicate with each other, not only with greater ease, but at far less expense than hitherto was possible.
The question of communications is not limited to any one avenue. We have to consider communication by sea, by the air, by land where this is necessary for Inter-Empire purposes, and by cable and by wireless telegraphy and telephony. I propose, therefore, to consider the question briefly in all its aspects. First, perhaps^ it would be well that I should emphasize its importance, particularly in its direct application to the purposes which have brought us. together at this Conference. We are to discuss the principles upon which the foreign policy of the Empire is to be governed, and to devise means that will give an opportunity for the Dominions overseas to apply those principles to definite questions as they arise which were formerly decided by Great Britain alone. As things stand now, the share of the Dominions in determining foreign policy cannot be a substantial one. Yet their status under the League of Nations and their liability to be involved in war arising out of foreign policy make it imperative that their voice should be heard. Conferences between the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and the various Dominions ought to be regular and frequent, but this is not now possible. Australia and New Zealand cannot send their Prime Ministers to Britain for six months every year, and no less time will suffice for a visit.
If this Empire is to work together, if it is to develop its great resources, if it is to take advantage of the tremendous possibilities of trade and of the profit that can come out of close cooperation between the various parts, if it is to be assured of that complete security which the strength of this Empire, rightly directed, can assure, if a citizen of the most remote part is to feel he has an equal voice in the government of this Empire with those at its heart, then we must have some means other than we have now of enabling the voice of the Dominions to be heard. I venture to say that one of the best assurances we can have, something that will help us very materially anyhow iii this matter, is improved communications.
Now consider the position from the point of view of those remoter Dominions which Mr. Massey and myself represent. I have said that these Imperial Conferences are the only machinery at present in existence for Empire Government, and for dealing with Empire affairs. If they are to be of any use they must be held frequently. Neither in those tilings that have been done, nor those things that are to bo done, can Dominion Ministers have any real controlling influence unless they meet very frequently, and, at least, yearly. Mr. Massey can speak for himself, but it is certain that the representative of Australia cannot attend, here yearly unless some means are found by which we can lessen the distance by shortening the time that attendance here now involves. At present it means six months. Clearly, wecannot spend six months out of every year away from our own countries.
Then I turned to the question of wireless, telegraphy and telephony, and I said -
It is essential if our voice in the counsels of the Empire is to be a real one, and not a shadow, that the various parts of the Empire should have means insuring constant and speedy ‘communication with each other. Thisis compassable, and I venture to predict that the day is not far distant when the PrimeMinisters pf the various Dominions will be in* wireless telegraphic and telephonic communication with each other, and I know of no other means, nor can I conceive of any, through) which a real participation by the Dominions in Empire affairs is possible. I do not suggest for a moment that this would do- away with the necessity for personal consultations; such as this Conference affords. But it would, enable the principles agreed to on foreign* policy or Imperial matters agreed to at theseConferences to be applied by the whole Empire and not merely by Britain, as at present. An up-to-date wireless installation which would: enable the Prime Minister of Britain and thePrime Ministers of other portions of the Empire to be in consultation on every important Imperial question would not impair those selfgoverning rights upon which the Dominions areso jealously insistent, and at the same timowould enable the voice of the Empire, as distinguished from that of Britain, to be heard.. The present position may be shortly stated - cases I do not deny may be cited to the contrary - but for all practical purposes the Dominions are told of things when they are done, and when nothing remains for them but to accept. As things now stand, this is in most, cases inevitable, because questions of foreign policy must be decided without delay. Yet it is unsatisfactory. I do not suggest for onemoment that by any means at our disposal it would be possible to have that close consultation between the representatives of the variousparts of this Empire which exists between members of a Cabinet composed of members of the same Parliament in the same country, but I do say that it would be an immense strideforward if the present cable system, which is very far from adequate, were thus improved.
Referring to the importance of wireless communication in its relation to the press, I said -
Look at the press here and note the very: restricted space that is available for such, trivial affairs as Imperial matters. What &o you see about Australia or India?
The press services that are concerned insupplying Australia with news spend tens of thousands of pounds in order to supply us with/ that meagre stream from which we slake our thirst. The British papers, on the other band, get information >from Australia about wild dogs and strikes, as if strikes did not occur elsewhere.
The answer to all this is that newspapers cannot afford to do more than they are doing. I heard the other day that a column of news is sent from America to a Canadian paper at, I think, 19 or 20 dollars. They pour out the news, not at 7i’d.- or 9d. per word, but probably at one-twentieth of the price which is charged for every line or word that is sent from here to Australia.
A Committee was appointed under the Chairmanship of Mr. Winston Churchill to deal in detail with this problem of communication in all its various aspects by sea, by air, and by improved cable and wireless services. This Committee had before it a scheme which is known as the Norman Wireless Scheme. Speaking of the work of the Committee, Sir Henry Norman said at the Conference -
This Committee reported on 3rd June last, and its recommendations in the fewest words were that the Empire should be linked together wirelessly by 2,000 mile geographical steps; that the transmitting system should be that employing thermionic valves; that a technical Commission should be appointed to design the type of Imperial station to be erected; and that while Imperial communications should be undertaken by the Governments of the Empire, communications with, foreign countries should be allowed to be /undertaken, under suitable licences, by commercial companies. By this means the evils of monopoly, on the <me hand, were avoided, and the benefits of (competition and healthy rivalry, on the other hand, were secured.
That was the wireless scheme, to which I shall refer in detail. I ask; honorable members to note what the position is, because I must invite them to detach themselves sufficiently from those fascinating domestic questions which from time to time engage their flagging attention, to consider adequately these matters which, after all, are of some importance to this country, and to the Empire. Shortly put, Sir Henry Norman’s scheme is this:
There is to be an Imperial wireless chain throughout the Empire, or through certain portions of the Empire, composed of links 2,000 geographical miles in length. Stations are to be established at Oxford, Cairo, Poona, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia. There are also to be stations at Nairobi and Wyndhoek, in Africa. The capital cost of the scheme is estimated at £1,243,000, and Australia’s share of the initial cost is to be £185,000. The annual charges for Australia are estimated at £60,000, the estimated revenue at £40,000, and .the estimated annual loss £20,000. Australia is to meet £185,000 of the initial cost and an estimated annual loss of £20,000, which the members of the Committee say will diminish as time goes on. Honorable members, when they hear of an estimated loss that is to become less each year, will, of course, recall the fact that they have heard something not altogether unlike that before. The objections to this scheme, as I see it, are these : It would be impossible to communicate direct with Great Britain or Canada, or South Africa or the East - that is .to say, China. If one link in the chain were broken, unless under favorable atmospheric conditions, the virtue of the scheme would be destroyed, because the scheme is based upon the assumption that rapidity and reliability are to be obtained by relays over distances of 2,000 geographical miles. Another objection is that the messages must be sent in relays. A message sent from Australia to Great Britain must go first to Darwin, thence to Singapore, thence to Poona, thence to Cairo, and finally to Oxford. Naturally messages will be received at Singapore from other places than Australia, because Singapore is one of the great commercial centres of the East, and it will itself have messages to send to Great Britain. Our messages will come behind those others. When they reach Poona there will be the Indian messages, followed by the Singapore messages, and behind them the Australian messages. At Cairo there will be the Egyptian messages, the Indian messages, the Singapore messages, and the Australian messages. Naturally, if there is a jamb of business on the chain, that station which is the furthest outpost of the scheme will fare the worst. Then we have to consider the fact that we shall not be able to communicate direct with Great Britain. We in Australia are not uninterested in what is being done in Singapore or in India or Egypt, but we desire to know more than anything else what is being done in Great Britain, the heart of the Empire. Now under this scheme we Cannot know directly what is being done in Britain, or in Canada, or in Africa, or in the United States of America. Nor can we send direct messages to the Ear East, which, is our natural market, second, only to that which we have in Europe, and particularly in Great Britain. It appears to me, therefore, that the scheme, on the face of it, is not satisfactory from that point of view. As to the financial aspect, of the total revenue Australia would take one-fifth. As an Australian message passed through Singapore, one-fifth of its cost would be paid to that station, another fifth to Poona, another to Cairo, and another to Great Britain. That would diminish our revenue, whereas if we had a scheme for direct communication with England, without these relays, we should retain whatever revenue it produced. I repeat that under the Norman scheme we should lose £20,000 a year, and we should not be getting what we want, namely, the ability to speak direct with Great Britain and the world. I ask honorable members to follow me while I point out to them the present position of wireless telegraphy in this country. It is most unsatisfactory. “We have had wireless telegraphy in the Commonwealth for some time, yet the scheme is still carried on at a loss, as the following statement from the Secretary to the Postmaster-General’s Department, under date of 1st October, shows: -
With regard to the telephonic request received this morning for information showing the loss on working the wireless branch of this Department, I have the honour to inform you that figures showing the loss on a commercial basis for 1920-21 have not yet been compiled, and this Department has no record of the revenue and expenditure during the period prior to 1st July, 1920, when wireless was under the control of the Navy. The following, however, shows the actual revenue collected and the working and capital expenditure during 1920-21 : -
Those . figures show a net loss of £57,686 on the year’s working, and they do not represent the whole of the story. We are asked now to incur a loss of a further £20,000 under the Norman scheme. It is because of these facts that I was not amongst the most cordial supporters of the Norman Committee’s suggestion, and I asked the Prime Minister of Great Britain to give this House’ an opportunity of putting itself in touch with Britain in the best way it thought fit, either by the Norman scheme, or by someother method. If this House prefers tofall in with the rest of the Empire, and accept the Norman scheme, it can do so; if, on the other hand, honorable membersprefer some other scheme they are free to adopt it. . In discussing this question before the Imperial Committee, I said that a proposal had been made, but not yet considered by the Government, which, would enable us to communicate direct with Great Britain. It would involve the. Commonwealth in a capital expenditure of £500,000, but we should have the controlling interest, as under the AngloPersian Oil Company’s agreement, and weshould get an assured return of 10 per cent., namely ‘£50,000 per annum. The private company promoting this schemewould take over the existing service, on which we now lose approximately £60,000- per annum. This proposal has been madeby Amalgamated Wireless of Australasia. The cost of all messages would be reduced by one third of the present price,, and as cable charges were reduced, wireless charges would decrease pari passu. The House has to choose between these two schemes. I do not expect it to do so now. We shall have to discuss these matters as definite proposals, and honorable members must have time to consider them. I repeat that the scheme put forward by Amalgamated Wireless would involve an initial capital expenditure of £500,000, it would insure a definite return of £50,000 per annum, it would wipe out our present net loss of approximately £60,000 a year, and absolve us from the additional loss of £20,000 a year that would be involved by the acceptance of the Norman scheme. Moreover, it would put us into direct touch with the world. We should be able to communicate direct with Britain, America-, and Africa. There would be- none of the disadvantages inseparable from- the! relay system. The scheme would be operated by a private company, but the Commonwealth would have the right of resumption in times of peace under certain conditions, and, of course, the right of unconditional resumption in time of war. I do not put- forward this scheme as one that has received the indorsement of the Government, but I mention it in order that the House may not say that it has not had an oppor- s tunity of deciding what it should do.
Parliament may do what it pleases, but I think it should certainly do something to place Australia in touch with the world by wireless telegraphy. Our present position, I repeat, is most unsatisfactory. Australia is a remote outpost of the Empire. New3 comes to us in a most meagre stream. We cannot advertise ourselves, nor can we be in that close and intimate touch with Great Britain that our strategic circumstances demand. Even the Emden very nearly succeeded in isolating us completely during the “war. Owing to Britain’s control of the sea, Germany would have been completely cut” off from the world but for wireless telegraphy. We know how much public opinion governs the world. We know that during the war Germany always put out her views, and every day news from Germany was picked up in this country. At the present time messages from Lyons and Bordeaux can be read here, but we oan send no message in return. As a people we live by selling our produce in the markets of the world. Honorable members who live in this place may think that because they meet each other every day, and talk with each other, the world is conscious of their existence; but it is not. The world is not conscious of the existence of any nation that does not from the housetops proclaim itself daily. Nations, like traders, must advertise or perish, and I say deliberately that it is a menace to the British Empire that every day there goes out to the newly-awakened East - the millions of malleable minds of the Orient - a flood- of news from) a source that is not British, giving them a concept, not only of American news, but of world news, that reaches them, not through the megaphone of Great Britain, but through quite another medium. We cannot ignore the world’s opinion. The people who live in this country, and never leave it, can have no knowledge of what life in Great Britain is, nor have the people in Great Britain any idea of what life in Australia is. Lord Northcliffe came to Australia the other day. If any man ought, to have known enough about this country before coming here, he ought. But what are the facts 1 Every day during my various visits to England I have seen that glaring travesty of Australian news which finds a place in the press of Great Britain. I have seen those stories about Australia and wild dogs. If I had not known otherwise, I should have thought Australia was the last place on God’s earth to which I should turn my feet. But all this is due to the fact that there is an embargo upon the circulation of Australian news which the British press finds it almost impossible to lift. The cable rates are excessive. The Conference was unanimous in its support of the establishment of tl wireless group throughout the Empire, and I hope that this Parliament, in the interests of the Commonwealth as well as those of the Empire, will adopt some scheme of wireless communication.
– Is there any means of securing secrecy in wireless messages ?
– Probably there is not ; but if the honorable member had had as much experience as I have had of the other system, he would begin to doubt whether there was much secrecy in that either. There are a hundred reasons why w.e should - not do anything hurriedly in the matter of wireless communication, the chief one being that the world has only partially emerged from a condition of semi-barbarism; but France, America, and Italy are already taking steps in this direction, and we know that Germany, a nation which with all its faults has maintained its prestige for resolute purpose, was able to do a great deal during the war by means of wireless telegraphy. In fact it was once able to convert a defeat into a victory. At sea it lost the Jutland fight, but it afterwards won it by its wireless propaganda, and it will be a long time before a number of people can be persuaded that the Germans did not win that battle. It would have been a fine thing for Great Britain had she been able to flood the world with the truth. I shall say no more on this subject beyond expressing the hope that the House will decide to adopt some scheme of wireless telegraphy which will give Australia an advantage strategically, will enable it to keep in close touch with Great Britain, and will give it a much-needed advertisement. The Imperial Conference was unanimous in its resolutions upon the point.
I come now to the question of communication by air. The following is an extract from my remarks upon “this subject at the Imperial Conference: -
Now turn from the sca to the air. Here is the last element which man has conquered. That which was before a mere dream or a plaything, has become now a great factor in human progress, and in moulding the affairs of nations, both in peace and in war. I do not propose in this general review to attempt to deal in detail with any one of these phases of wireless communication, of steamship communication, or air communication, but I do say that the Conference ought to consider the general question of communications in relation to the political, the commercial, and the national affairs of the Empire as a whole. It is said that airships are now capable - subject to adequate provision of mooring masts on suitable sites - of making the journey between here and Australia. It is a practical proposition. It is not for me to speak on this matter when expert opinion is available, but I think I am safe in saying that airships can reduce the journey to something like ten days. Am I right? - (Sir Frederick Sykes. - Yes, that is right.) - I hope, sir, you will not think that I am contending that* an airship service is a complete and efficient substitute for a faster steam-ship service. It is not. We are confronted with a manysided problem. All those things which I have mentioned - wireless communication, faster steam-ship communication, air-ships - all those things have relation to the same problem; they tend to bind the different parts of the Empire closer together. They make it a more profitable thing for every citizen in every part of the Empire to be a citizen of this Empire. We should not forget, or allow others to forget, that it is not only a very glorious thing, but a very profitable thing, to be a citizen of this Empire. And it can be made still more profitable.
Honorable members are probably aware that during the war considerable strides were made in aerial navigation, not only with aeroplanes, but also with machines lighter than air. It is well known- that German Zeppelins were most active during the war, and that at the close of the war one definite fact had emerged from the cloud of uncertainty, namely, that man had conquered the air, and that it was now possible to fly. The airship has many advantages over the aeroplane. It has also many disadvantages. Sir Ross Smith, whom I consulted, says that aeroplanes are superior to airships over short distances, but that air-ships aTe undoubtedly preferable for long distances, and, indeed, are the only means by which they can be undertaken. The position, when the Dominion Premiers reached England, was that a number of air-ships the British Government had built during the war and all their attendant paraphernalia, sheds, and what-not, estimated to have cost on the aggregate £40,000,000, were to be scrapped on the 1st August unless before that date an offer had been made for the aerodromes. At the Conference Mr. Lloyd George leaned very strongly towards any proposal which would bring the different parts of the Empire closer together. The weakness of the Empire is the fact that it is scattered over the face of the earth; and if Australia is to have anything more than a mere nominal share in foreign policy, which, after all, dominates, and must continue to dominate our domestic circumstances, the distance which separates us from Great Britain must be bridged. When Mr. Massey and I are obliged to go to London it means six months’ absence from our posts. It is true that on this occasion I have not been absent for more than five months, but, broadly speaking, a visit takes six months. It is,” therefore, very obvious that frequent Imperial Conferences are impossible. The position of Canada is quite different. Its Premier can reach London within a week. If Australia were where Canada is, its resources would speak for themselves in such clamant tones that we should not need to talk about a policy of immigration; rather should .we be erecting barriers to keep people out. It is very necessary that we should endeavour to shorten the distance between here and Great Britain. Honorable members are perhaps not aware that steam-ship communication is less rapid to-day than it was twenty- five years ago. We speak of this world being a world of progress, but Conservatives may take what comfort they ‘can from the fact that our steamers are slower now than at the end of the last century. I do not pretend that an airship service would be a substitute for a more speedy steam-ship service, but I claim that the advantages to be gained by bringing Australia within ten or twelve days of Europe are so overwhelming that this country would be most unenterprising and shortsighted if it did not do everything possible to achieve that object. I do not say that it can be achieved, but certainly its prospect of achievement is far brighter than those prospects that unrolled themselves before Stephenson and
Edison. There are at present in Britain four airships fit to make a long distance flight. All doubts as to their capacityhave been dispelled by the experience gained during the war. I cannot detain the House to treat the matter with that wealth of detail which it deserves, but abundant evidence convinced me that here was an opportunity that meant a great deal to Australia, and that I ought to tell this Parliament so, and throw upon honorable members the onus of deciding whether they would seize it or not. I shall put the matter before the House very briefly, leaving, if necessary, the details for consideration on some subsequent occasion. Let me first tell honorable members of a wonderful invention that revolutionized airship flying during the war. At first, in order to. bring an airship down at night, and put it into a shed, which had to be done, the services of 400 or 500 men were required. The sheds, of course, are of tremendous size commensurate with the immense size of the airships. Now, however, the airship is not put into a shed at night, but is moored to a mast about 250 feet high, with a stairway in it, after the style of the Eiffel Tower. By means of a hook and a winch airships can be moored’ to these masts iu exactly the same way and as easily and as safely as ships can. be moored in a harbor. The ships come to the mooring masts, and are attached to them. They are then wound on the drum or winch, and they swing round on a swivel so that, whichever way the wind may be blowing, the vessels are nose cm. The effect of the employment of this apparatus is that, until the gas in its envelope has become exhausted, an airship can continue in flight from mooring post to mooring post. The radius of its journeying depends entirely, of course, upon the cubic capacity of its air bags and the quantity of petrol carried. That latter consideration provides the real economic factor. The more petrol a boat carries the fewer must be the number of its passengers, and the lighter the weight of the luggage conveyed. The consideration of these two points provides an economic distance of flight which, roughly, is 2,000 miles. The whole question was considered at great length, and, as I have just indicated, a committee of experts was appointed. Air Marshal Trenchard was the chief of these; General Sykes was another, and Sir Ross Smith, was another. I had the advantage of the closest association with the late Commander Maitland, who was probably the most expert and most daring air-ship navigator in the world. It was his firm conviction that an air service to Australia was possible, and that nothing stood in the way of the consummation of such a project but the a ctual ‘erection of mooring posts at suitable distances, together with the provision at those bases of appliances and stores of petrol and gas for refilling the balloon chambers. The period occupied in making a journey from Great Britain to Australia, it was stated, would be somewhere between eight and twelve days. Twelve days might be regarded as an outside estimate, while eight days would be, perhaps, a rather optimistic one; General Sykes stated that nine days would be about a reasonable period of time. Mention was made of the point that an air-ship would be about thirty hours in the air to six hours moored to a mast. I do not suggest that those would be the actual periods of flight and of mooring, but that they would represent the ratio. The accommodation for passengers would be exactly the same as in a train. There is a sorb of Pullman car - hung beneath the envelope of the air-ship. I desire to say a word or two concerning the .RS8. The destruction of that great vessel was an appalling disaster. Some honorable members may say that the tragedy must be regarded as the end of air-ship flight. They, should not forget, however, that there is no secure nook in all the world in which death cannot find a man. If the peoples of this earth had stood still, or even hesitant, because some had fallen by the wayside, we should still be living in the stone age. In the story of the locomotive, and of the steam-ship, and of the motor car, one can recall many appalling disasters. Yet men have gone on. I do not hesitate to say that, arising from the dreadful fact of the sinking of the Titanic, the world learned something which would never have been learned in any other way. ‘ In the loss of tho R38 something has been learned which needed to be known in order that air-ship flight might be placed on a sound foundation. I have no hesitation in stating, therefore, that this project is one which deserves the consideration of
Parliament. Shortly, it is this: The report was . considered, as I have : said, by an expert Committee. Its members took the view that, with, the number of air-ships at disposal, nothing more than a merely experimental service was possible. It is this practical demonstration of the possibility of maintaining an airship service’ between Great Britain and Australia that I am asking Parliament to consider. In my opinion it is possible. This can only be demonstrated By practical experiment; and, in order that the experiment may be undertaken, it is necessary that the Governments of the Empire should support it. It is not for one moment suggested that, with the four ships which Great Britain now possesses, it would be feasible to run a regular service. Clearly it would not be. For that purpose probably ten or twelve air-ships would be required. That number in commission would guarantee a fortnightlv service to Australia, New Zealand, Egypt and South Africa. However, with the four vessels now in the possession of Great Britain it is possible to proceed with experimental stages, the vessels to. travel first to Cairo, then to Poona or Karachi, thence to Singapore and to Australia. This is what Captain Guest said at the Conference: -
We ‘ would give you the first link complete, and beyond that, wherever we got the advantage of help. For example, by South Africa putting up a mooring mast, or Mombasa putting up one, or Ceylon, or even Australia commencing operations, we should soon begin to be able to give demonstrational flights beyond Egypt.
Captain Guest proceeded : -
For between £30,000 and £50,000 we could give you a ship safely landed in Australia in such a condition and with such facilities that it could be refilled and sent back to England again. It would be a demonstration flight.
asked, “ Is this one flight?” and Captain Guest replied, “Yes.” He stated, at first, that it would be one trip. Afterwards, he . corrected that reply, and said that such an expenditure would suffice for two trips. He continued-: -
You would have the advantage of the machinery we are establishing in the two-year period, which means, of course, the facilities of Egypt and so forth. It would be an additional £50,000 to give you a demonstration flight to Australia in the two-year period.
Australia would ‘be required to erect a mooring mast or two - one in the north and another -somewhere in the southern part of the Commonwealth. The whole amount of money necessary for this scheme may be roughly stated to be a quarter of a million sterling, so far as Australia is concerned. That expenditure would enable these experiments to be carried on over a two-year period. The other Governments, including Great Britain, would co-operate. It was suggested that this Government should invite public subscriptions of funds. I am reluctant to do that; but the people of this country should have an opportunity, irrespective of that being afforded this Parliament, of saying definitely whether they will have anything to do with the scheme. I proposeto give the people that opportunity. I am now putting the project before Parliament, because, at- my very earnest intervention, the British Prime Minister (Mr. Lloyd George) was good enough to -give instructions ‘for the suspension of the order for scrapping these air-ships until the Commonwealth Parliament had . had an opportunity to discuss the wholequestion. The matter thus becomes one on which this Legislature must come to a decision. Parliament may decide. that nothing should be done. Whatever is decided upon, some answer must be given very shortly. It must be understood and remembered that this Government and people recognise the importance of aerial flight to Australia. The Government gave £10,000 to encourage an aeroplane flight around half the world to this country; and when Sir Ross Smith and Sir Keith Smith arrived in Australia, and when, later, Lieutenants Parer and Macintosh emulated their great feat, the airmen received abundant evidences that the Australian people not only admired their courage and enterprise, but were keenly alive to the national importance of those flights. The Government are starting an aerial mail service in the north-west portion of Australia. And, in view of cur isolation, and the enormous advantages which an airship service will give Australia, I do not hesitate to recommend Parliament to give its serious consideration to the project placed before us. What we shall do is a matter for the Parliament itself to decide. But this House will not censure me, I think, for having brought the whole scheme before it. It is for Parliament also to decide as- to- the, wireless proposition. Honorable members have been given what no other Parliament, in the Empire secured. This Legislature- hasan option; ‘the- others have accepted the Norman, scheme;
As- regards the report of the Imperial Shipping Committee on. bills’ of lading; it was decided to adopt the following resolution : -
The Conference approves the recommendations made in the report of the- Imperial Shipping Committee on the limitation’, of. shipowners” liability by clauses, iir bill’s. Of lading;, and- recommends- the- various- Governments- represented at the Conference- to- introduce uniform legislation- on the lines laid down by the Committee.
A resolution - was- also- adopted to the effecf that, pending: the constitution- of 7 a permanent. Committee on. Shipping, the existing- Imperial. Shipping- Committee should continue its’ inqiairiesi The> representatives of His Majesty’s Government and. the Governments of New Zealand and India were, ready to agr.ee to a. wider resolution! recommending the constitution under- Royal Charter’of ‘a- permanent Committee to carry out the duties1 specified in the report of tlie Imperial. Shipping- Committee, dated 3rd June, namely: -
The- representative of Canada, however, did not agree to this wider resolution-, and. the representatives’ of tha.- Commonwealth of Australia and. the Union of South Africa reserved the- matter for’ further consideration. The position aa regards rebates’ was” discussed, and; strong: repmsentataonsrwere, made1 by’Bominidn Minis* fcers- in. regard to-ity. but no? resolution, was passed’, it’ being.” understood that the matter is! at’ present’ under, consideration’ by the Imperial Shipping Committee.
With respect to the matter- of- an improved steam-ship service;, may I be permitted to quote, from my remarks to the. Conference: -
I say most emphatically that I2j-to’ I* knots: an- hour for Inter-Empire steam-ship- communication will1 not do: It’ is a standing -reflection- upon our- Imperial common sense. It- is a-, menace to our- Imperial’ interests: Ofcou-rsej I do not know whether if will pay the compamieffto increase their speed’; but’ I’ am certain that it- will not pay tlie Empire to-be’ satisfied with” the service as it stands. Whai? do you know of Australia? What does the average Englishman, know of Australia?” He knows- very much, less of it than- he does1 of Canada; and’ this is1largely because of the distance separating. Aus* tralia from. England.. When: people select a> field for migration or emigration, why do somany go to the United States of America-?’ Because it’ is near at’ Hand. Our: voice in- thecounsels of. the: Empire;, our influence, the- development of our mighty heritage, all are in? fluenced by this fact that we are remote fromi the centre of the Empire; and* unnecessarily remote. There isf no reason- at all other islian’ dividends’; I admit’ that- that i’s< a reason, and* a-, substantial one. But there is’ no other- reason why Mr. Massey and. I should not get homoin four, weeks by- steam-ship: As things’- are, we cannot got home under six weeks. I, therefore, propose to ask the. Conference to consider the question of an improved steam-ship service. It- is’ a matter which vitally affects all’ thecountries which we represent. I recognisei all’ the difficulties; we: know- them quite as well asLord Inchcape. But we . are here as. guardians > and’ trustees, of the. Empire, and we have to ask ourselves not whether it is- profitable for the great- steamship- companies’ to- improve their, services, but whether it is- safe and. profitable- for- the Empire-, to leave them where they are. This wide-flung: Empire - a world within’ a’ world - depends- for its very existence- on theunity of the whole. Not one part - not even Britain - could stand alone now, whatever’ might have been true, before the war. We depend upon each other. Does not common pru-. dence, as well’ as. wisdom, dictate tfte.policy thatwe should endeavour to get as. close to oneanother as is humanly . possible?
With respect to the subject of the position of British Indians in the Empire, the- following- resolution was adopted by the Conference.: -
The Conference; while: re-affirming the re’solution of the. ‘ Imperial War Conference of” 1918, that each community of the British Com-, mon wealth should, enjoy complete control’ of the composition of its- own population, by means, of restriction on immigration: from- any of. the other communities, recognises that there is’ an incongruity between the- position of” India- as^W equal member of the British Empire, and: the existence of disabilities upon British Indians’ lawfully domiciled- ihr someother, parts of the Ejmpire. Tlie. Conference accordingly is of the opinion, that, in tlie interests of tlie solidarity of the- British- Cdm> moiuvealth,. it is desirable that’ the rightist of such Indians to citizenship should be recognised. The representatives of South Africa regret their- inability to accept this resolution, in view of the exceptional circumstances of the greater part of the Union. The representatives of India, while expressing their appreciation of the acceptance of the resolution recorded above, feel bound to place on record their profound concern at the position of Indians in South Africa, and their’ hope that, by negotiation between the Governments of India and of South Africa, some way can be found as soon as may be, to reach a more satisfactory position.
A memorandum prepared in the Board of Trade on the demand for an Empire Patent was considered by a special Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the following recommendation, which, was concurred in by the main Conference, was agreed to: -
The Committee recommends that a Conference of representatives of the Patent Offices of His Majesty’s Dominions shall be held in London at an early date to consider the practicability of instituting a system of granting Patents which should be valid throughout the British Empire.
A memorandum prepared in the Home Office with reference to the nationality of children of British parents born abroad, which memorandum will be included in a Blue-Book to be issued shortly, was considered by a special Committee under the Chairmanship of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Committee adopted the following resolution, which was finally approved by the main Conference : -
The Committee, having considered the memorandum prepared in the Home Office regarding the nationality of the children born abroad of British parents, commends the principle of the proposals contained therein fo the favorable consideration of the Governments of the Dominions and India.
I shall deal very shortly with the subject of Empire settlement and immigration. I do not propose to deal with immigration other than upon the basis of general principles, because I intend to take an early opportunity to bring before the people the policy of the Government in regard to this matter. Here and now I am concerned only with what the Imperial Conference did in regard to what was termed “migration.” I think that that word provides a very sound distinction. It has to do with the movement of the citizens of the Empire from one part to another of the Empire itself. A great many Conferences were held, and the decisions are set out in the form of a resolution as follows: -
The Conference having satisfied itself that the proposals embodied in the report of the Conference on State-aided Empire settlement are sound in principle, and that the several Dominions are prepared, subject to parliamentary sanction and to the necessary financial arrangements being made, to co-operate effectively with the United Kingdom in the development of schemes based on ‘those proposals, but adapted to the particular circumstances and conditions of each Dominion, approves the aforesaid report.
The South African representatives wish to make it clear that the limited field for white labour in South Africa will preclude cooperation by the Union Government on the lines contemplated by the other Dominions.
The Conference expresses the hope that the Government of the United Kingdom will, at the earliest possible moment, secure the necessary powers to enable it to carry out its part in any schemes of co-operation which may subsequently be agreed on, preferably in the form of an Act which will make clear that the policy of co-operation now adopted is intended to be permanent.
Tie Conference recommends to the Governments of the several Dominions that they should consider how far their existing legislation on the subject of land settlement, soldier settlement, and immigration may require any modification or expansion in order to secure effective co-operation, and should work out, for discussion with the Government of the United Kingdom, such proposals as may appear to them most practicable and best suited to their interests and circumstances.
Shortly, the position is this: The British Government are willing to provide means, up to £2,000,000, for settling ex-British soldiers on the land. The condition is that the Dominions shall grant £200 to each soldier to whom Great Britain has advanced this sum, in addition to passage money, which is covered by other arrangements now in force, and whatever is necessary to settle British ex-soldiers on the land. The various Dominions expressed their assent subject to the qualifications set out in the resolution, and, shortly, the position of Australia in regard to the matter is that, subject to financial considerations, we shall be most happy to fall in with the proposal.
Honorable members will know that much dissatisfaction has existed in relation to the Condominium form of government in the New Hebrides, which is in the hands , of the representatives of (Trance and Britain. Australia is also an interested party. Time will not permit lengthy treatment, but the position is. most unsatisfactory. Before I went away, representations were made to me by different people, who were anxious that I should bring this matter before the British Government, which I did. The question was discussed at some length, and Mr. Churchill expressed his willingness to do’ everything possible to meet the views of the various parties who had put their complaints before line, and in a lesser degree before my friend and colleague, the Prime Minister of New Zealand (Mr. Massey). The matter was discussed by a Special Committee under the Chairmanship of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The position is generally known to honorable members.- New Hebrides is administered by the British and French Governments. Australia has particular interests, not only in regard to its trade, but in regard to the employment of native labour there. The joint administration has been very unsatisfactory. Just before, the war a conference was arranged by representatives of the British and French Governments to draw up a scheme for the better working of the group. These suggestions were embodied in a protocol, but the war intervened, and the matter has been held up ever since. The Conference decided to ratify this protocol, which provided for the setting up of a joint Court, better treatment of natives, and a general improvement in the administration. The Conference discussed the possible purchase of the group, but no definite conclusions were reached. I was authorized to see a representative of the French Government on my way through Paris, and this I did. The British Government had expressed their readiness to ratify the convention, and I waited upon the French Minister for the Colonies, and expressed my views - I hope fairly enough - and he expressed himself most anxious to meet us in every way. .He Said that Franco and Great Britain had taken- the necessary steps a few days previously to ratify the new convention, which, in the opinion of the French Minister for the Colonies, will have the effect of considerably improving the conditions in the New Hebrides, which at present are, as I have said, most unsatisfactory in relation to land tenure, labour ordinances and regulations, and police administration. Before I left France, I asked the French Minister to give me a letter so that I could state to this Parliament, and through this Parliament to the country, what the attitude of France would be if it were found that the convention did not affect the improvements anticipated. The French Minister for the Colonies said he would do so., and in a communication which I have . received from him, he said that I had expressed the desire, in the course of my visit, that I should have from his Department some information as to the intention of his Government regarding the amelioration of the conditions under the present regime in the New Hebrides. He said that he had been instructed to inform me that the British Government had just agreed, as a result of the requests of my Government, immediately to ratify the Convention of the 6th August, 1914. This Convention, which had not been in force owing to the war, he thought would have a most important effect in ameliorating the conditions under the regime of the Condominium, notably in regard to the uniformity of land laws, the regulation of labour, and the organiza-tion of the police. He further said that the French Government would press forward with vigour all the new arrangements that have been agreed upon, with the firm hope that notable progress would result, and that, if it were found later on, in the light of experience, that this is not so, it will be prepared to examine any new suggestions that may bethought desirable.
I have detained honorable members for a. long while. I have not covered the whole of the ground that was traversed by the Conference, but I have done what was -possible. Honorable members now know everything of importance the Conference dealt with, and I think it will be generally admitted that no time was wasted. A great deal of work was done. Cordiality and frankness marked the proceedings, and the recognition of the equal interests of the different parts of the Empire in these great questions augurs most hopefully for the future. The Conference was most fortunate in having as its President the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Lloyd George), who is a most extraordinary man. When I tell honorable members that we had, I think, thirty-five sittings^ - that there were several other sittings in addition at which only Prime Ministers met - and that every one of these was presided over by Mr.
Lloyd George, they will begin to understand something of what manner of man he is, and how very much the success of the late Conference is due to his unremitting attention, his tact, and his wonderful capacity for dealing with his fellow-men. At the time the Conference began its sittings, and , for some weeks thereafter, the coal strike in Great Britain, was still raging, and there was also that other great question which engrossed the minds of all men - the Irish question. These vital questions, to say nothing of the economic problems arising out of the war, unemployment, trade and financial crises compelled his closest attention. Yet, despite all his onerous, his crushing responsibilities, Mr. Lloyd George gave to the Imperial Conference day after day for nearly two months counsel, leadership, and aid. I fear honorable members do not, indeed, they cannot know, what this meant to a man upon whose shoulders the task of leading Britain during these dark days has fallen. There were wide differences of opinion between his colleagues from different parts of the Empire. Ihave never met a man who, by temperament and quality, was so admirably fitted for dealing with his fellowmen as Mr. Lloyd George. For the success which attended that Imperial Conference we owe him a great deal, and I cannot conclude without expressing my very great sense of appreciation of what he was able to do.
I have put before the House in a general way everything that has been done, and. J invite honorable members to tell me . if in any instance . 1 have done wrong. I shall not go so far as toi ask them, or expect them, to tell me where I have done right. I trust honorable members will, in those matters that require action and decision, express such -opinions as will enable the Government to know what steps . to take in order that we may act promptly. The following . are the . conclusions arrived at by the Conference : -
On theunderstanding -that the cost involved will be in . the region of£1,800 per month, they recommend that, pending . such consideration, the existing material, bo far as useful for the development of Imperial air communications, should bc retained.
The above scheme was accepted by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, subject to giving full freedom of action to Australia to decide the method in . which Australia will cooperate.
The Conference approves the recommendation made in the report of the Imperial Shipping Committee on the limitation of ship-owners’ liability by clauses in bills of lading, and recommends the various Governments represented at the Conference to introduce uniform legislation on the lines laid down by the Committee.
A resolution was also adopted to the effect that, pending the constitution of a permanent Committee on shipping, the existing Imperial Shipping Committee should continue its inquiries.
The duties specified in the report of the Imperial Shipping Committee, dated 3rd June, were: -
The position as regards rebates was discussed, and strong representations were made by Dominion Prime Ministers in regard to it, but no resolution was passed, it being understood that the matter is at present under consideration by the Imperial Shipping Committee.
That the Radio Research Board be tasked to investigate the subjectof -wireless telephony, and to report on its development, whether Government or private.
That the Postmaster-General -shall supply to the Governments of the Dominions and . India technical reports showing its position and possibilities.
The Committee agrees with the resolution passed at the Second Imperial Press Conference held at Ottawa in 1920, that any assistance given by the Governments of the Empire towards the reduction of rates for press services by wireless and cable should appear specificailly in the estimates of public expenditure,: and should be so directed as not to affect the quality of the news service supplied, or the freedom of the newspapers so served.
The Committee is in full sympathy with the object of reducing rates, both by cable and wireless, for press messages, and recommends the most favorable examination by the Governments concerned of any practical proposals to this end.
Position of British Indians in the Empire. “The following resolution was adopted: -
The Conference, while reaffirming the resolution of the Imperial War Conference of 1918, that each community of the British Commonwealth should enjoy complete control of the composition of its own population by means of restriction on immigration from any of the other communities, recognises that there is an incongruity between the position of India as an equal member of the British Empire and the existence of disabilities upon British Indians lawfully domiciled in some other part of the Empire. The Conference accordingly is of the opinion that in tlie in- terests of the solidarity of the British Commonwealth it is desirable that the rights of such Indians to citizenship should be recognised.
The representatives of South Africa regret their inability to accept this resolution in view of the exceptional circumstances of the greater part of the Union.
The representatives of India, while expressing their appreciation of the acceptance of the resolution recorded above, feel bound to place -on record their profound concern at the position of Indians in South Africa, and their hope that by negotiation between the Governments -of India and of South Africa some way can be found, as . soon as may be, to reach a more satisfactory position.
Empire Settlement and Migration. The following resolution was adopted by the Conference: -
The Conference, having satisfied itself that the proposals embodied in the report of the Conference on State Aided Empire Settlement are sound in principle, and that the several Dominions are prepared, subject to parliamentary sanction and to the necessary financial arrangements being made, to co-operate effectively with the United Kingdom in the development of schemes based on these proposals, but adapted to the particular circumstances and conditions of each Dominion, approves the aforesaid report.
The South African representatives wish to -make it clear that the limited field for white labour in South Africa will preclude cooperation by the Union Government on the lines contemplated by the other Dominions.
Empire Patents. The following recommendation was concurred in by the main Conference: -
The Committee recommends that a Conference of representatives of the Patent Offices of His Majesty’s Dominions shall be held in London at an early date to consider the practicability of instituting a system of granting patents which should be valid throughout the British Empire.
Nationality. The following resolution was approved by the main Conference and adopted: -
The Committee, having considered the memorandum prepared in the Home Office regarding the nationality of the children born abroad of British parents, commends the principle of the proposals contained therein to the favorable consideration of the Governments of the Dominions and India.
I move -
That certain resolutions of the Imperial Conference with regard to War Reparations, &c, be printed.
– The statement made by the Prime Minister is an addition to his remarks of last week. I should like to know where we stand. I have no desire” to take part in two debates upon what, after all, is really one subject. The Prime Minister has only given an account of his stewardship at the Imperial Conference, and has committed this country to nothing. Is it not possible to discuss now the whole of the subjects mentioned by the Prime Minister on Friday and this afternoon?
– I think so.
– The House is at liberty to discuss all the matters mentioned by the Prime Minister.
– May I suggest that the whole of the statement be printed as a parliamentary paper in order that honorable members may have the statement made last Friday and that delivered this afternoon in one document?
– I think that the convenience of honorable members will be met by the whole of the statement appearing in Hansard. However, I leave the matter to the House.
That the debate upon the motion for the printing of the Resolutions be proceeded with concurrently with the debate upon the motion moved on Friday last for the printing of the Ministerial Statement with reference to the Imperial Conference.
Debate resumed from 30th . September (vide page 11645), on motion by Mr.
That the statement be printed.
.- The Prime Minister has given the House a very lengthy account of his stewardship in connexion with the proceedings at the Imperial Conference. I realize that this is not a party question. It is really a national question, and it is my intention to deal with it as such; but I may be permitted to suggest that the position would have been much easier for honorable members had the Prime Minister condensed his remarks ofFriday last and included in one statement a report of all the subjects that were dealt with at the Conference. This could easily have been done, because the Prime Minister’s speech on Friday last, shorn of its adornments, dealt with only about three important subjects. When the Prime Minister was on the eve of his departure for the Imperial Conference we were assured that it was absolutely necessary for Australia to be represented at that gathering, in order that our views concerning the Anglo-Japanese Treaty and other matters vital to the welfare of Australia should be stated. It was especially urged that nothing should be done in the new Treaty that would endanger our relations with the people in the United States of America. We have now had a report of that Conference. I venture to say . it must have struck honorablemembers as more than passing strange that, though the main purpose of the Conference was to deal with the AngloJapanese Treaty, after it had been, dealing with business for several days it was suddenly found that the Treaty was stilt in existence and was not likely to expire. This was a remarkable position, in view of the statement made prior to the departure of the Prime Minister that, inconsequence of Great Britain and Japan having informed the League of Nationsthat the Treaty then in existence did not come within the Covenant of the League, the British law authorities held that there had been a denunciation of the Treaty in accordance with Article 6 of* that document. Now Article 6 states -
The present agreement shall come into effect immediately after the date of its signature,, and remain in force for ten years from that date. In case neither of the High Contracting Parties should have notified twelve months before the expiration of the said ten years, theintention of terminating it, it shall remainbinding until the expiration of one year from the day on which either of the High Contracting Parties shall have denounced it. But if, when the date fixed for its expiration arrives* either Ally is engaged in war, the Allianceshall, ipso facto, continue until peace is concluded.
That provision is very definite. I cannot understand how it could have been held that there had been denunciation of the Treaty. At all events, the JapaneseGovernment do not hold that view. Theonly people who believed that the Treaty had been denounced were members of theBritish Government, on the advice, I presume, of their Law Officers. Therefore,the Conference was convened, so we were told, to deal with the position that had arisen, but we have now been informed by the Prime Minister that some of the Dominion representatives at the Conference also believed that the Treaty was still in existence. In consequence of thisdivision of opinion, the matter was submitted for the opinion of Lord Haldane, who held that there had been nodenunciation of the Treaty, thus supporting the Japanese contention. It wasremarkable that the British Government should have taken up the position that the Treaty had been denounced, and that this was one of the principal reasons for the Conference. The Treaty has not expired, and will not expire until the necessary notice has been given. It is just as- well to make this quite clear to honorable members. The subject of the greatest moment to the people of Australia was not in question at all, and there was no meed to have a Conference to discuss it.
– That is hardly correct. The honorable member .will remember that the British Foreign Secretary and the Japanese Ambassador intimated that the Treaty was not in conformity with the League of Nations Covenant.
– If the honorable member for Balaclava will take the trouble to peruse the Prime Minister’s statement, he will find that what I am saying is correct.
– I have done so, and I Shave also read what Lord Curzon has said <on the subject.
– That is a different thing.
– There was necessity for (consideration as to the form.
– The position in regard to this matter is quite clear. As the “honorable member for Balaclava knows, *he view was held that the notification as ito the form -of the Treaty was, in effect, a denunciation of it.
– Not a denunciation, but a desire to bring it in conformity with the Covenant.
– Exactly, and, in the opinion of the Crown law authorities an Great Britain, there had been a denunciation of the Treaty.
– The Law Officers -did think it was tantamount to a denunciation.
– I have already said that. They advised the British Government that the Treaty must lapse, and upon that opinion, I think, it was decided -.to hold the Conference.
– We never heard of that legal opinion until the Prime Minister spoke the other day.
– We may not have heard of it; but does the honorable member believe for a moment that the British Government would have placed this question on the agenda paper without having had an opinion upon it ?
– No; I do not think they would.
– There is no doubt that the British Government were guided by this opinion, and it was only after fur ther advice had been sought that it was found there was no need for the renewal of the Treaty at all.
– To the best of my recollection, the Prime Minister, prior to leaving Australia, said that the Treaty could not be denounced except upon twelve months’ notice.
– Just so; but it was believed that notification to the League of Nations that it was not in conformity with the League Covenant was, in effect, denunciation of the Treaty itself.
– I think the Prime Minister, the late member for West Syd- ‘ ney (Mr. Ryan), and the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) drew attention to the fact at the time.
– If honorable members will take the trouble to peruse the Prime Minister’s statement they will find that what I am saying is absolutely correct. As far as that aspect of the Imperial Conference was concerned nothing was done. We are in the same position as if the Conference had not been held. The Anglo- Japanese Treaty, by far the most important question proposed to be dealt with, has not been touched.
Having said so much, I come now to the question of naval defence. This matter was fully discussed in this House, because of what might happen in the Pacific. We were desirous that nothing should be done that would interfere in any way with our relations with the people of the -United States of America. We felt that we should be careful that in the renewal of the Anglo- Japanese Treaty we should do nothing to which the United States could take exception, and which might be detrimental to peace in the Pacific. The Prime Minister said that the question of naval defence would be brought before the House for consideration before the country would be committed to anything definite. Of course, he could not very well commit Australia to any expenditure, because Parliament must first vote the money. Naval defence could not be dealt with. It was deferred because the AngloJapanese Treaty was still in existence. Those were, the two main questions to be considered, and so far as they are concerned we might as well have had no Conference.
– Do you say that the failure to deal with Empire defence was due to the want of agreement on the Anglo-Japanese Treaty?
– According to the Prime Minister’s statement, the question of naval defence in the Pacific wasdef erred, not altogether because of the Anglo- Japanese Treaty, but also because of the Washington Conference, with which I shall deal later.
– If the Treasurer will take the trouble to- peruse the speech of the Prime- Minister, he will find that it is so.
– It was deferred because some of the other Dominions would not foot the bill.
– That is not in accord with the statement of the Prime Minister, by which we must be guided.
– It was stated in the press cables.
– We have to.be guided, not by what we read in the press, but by the report of our representative.
– Evidently there are two voices. Ministers do not sing in accord.
– That is so. Good work was done in connexion’ with the constitutional question. We were afraid, when it was listed on the agenda paper, that it might be leading to what we may call Imperialism. Most of the people of Australia do not want anything of that kind. It is pleasing to know that, after full consideration it was decided that there was no need to interfere with the present constitutional arrangements.
– The Prime Minister did not prove that any one wanted a change. He built up a man of straw.
– He showed that there was considerable discussion on the subject, and it was demonstrated that our unwritten Constitution served the purpose of the government of the Empire, and that to put anything down in writing which would be binding might lead, at sometime, to the disintegration of the Empire. I think he was right in that respect.
– Who proposed to do that? Was it proposed?
-Unfortunately, we do not know anything at all as to that. The Conference was held in secret. The only information we have about it is that given by the Prime Minister himself, and he has told us that he cannot furnish an account of what was done or said by others, or state what voting took place, be cause the proceedings were confidential. It is regrettable that in national- affairs there is so much secrecy. We should ‘be taken more into the confidence of those whom we trust to- represent us at such Conferences. There has been too much secret diplomacy. I was hoping that, with , the termination of . the war, we would see the end of such secret negotiations, but we are now no better off. In the report of the Prime Minister we were told what he said and did, but we have no information as to what was said or done by the other representatives. We are informed that the representatives of other Dominions will go before their respective Parliaments and state what they did. Therefore, if we have a mind to piece together their various reports, we may ascertain what really occurred. The Prime Minister of New Zealand (Mr. Massey) has said that very little was achieved at the Conference. He supported the view which I am putting. The questions which have been spoken of to-day are certainly matters concerning the Empire,, but they are not of vital importance now, because they must come up again in some specific form, such as a Bill. I agree with Mr. Massey that nothing of very great importance- to the Empire was finalized. I am not going totake up much time in dealing with the report made by the Prime Minister today. He has dealt with a number of matters, and there is no necessity to discuss them at present, for the resolutions of the Conference bind us to nothing. Moreover, they will have to’ come before us again^ and it will then befor honorable members to deal with them in accordance with what they consider the best interests of the country. I agree with the Prime Minister when he says it is quite a- matter of doubt as to how much Germany will pay. We know we are to receive a certain proportion of . thesum contributed. The Prime Minister successfully exerted his influence to get Australia’s share increased from 4.04’ per cent, of ‘the total amount of indemnity allotted to the British Empire - namely; 22 per cent, of the whole payment to theAllies - which was at first suggested, . to 4.35 per cent., and this may mean aj. considerable advantage to Australia.
– If we get it..
– Yea; the whole thin? is problematical. All we can do is to await events. The Prime Minister claims that, in consequence of his advocacy of our rights, he was instrumental in having the payment for the army of occupation increased from ,£1,000 to £835,000. That was good work, and I hope the Treasurer has the £835,000 in his pocket.
– I hope we shall receive it, but, if we do not, Great Britain will take it towards the liquidation of our debt.
– The Prime Minister touched on immigration, and said that nothing definite had been determined. X take it, from his statement, that anything which may emanate from the Conference in regard to an immigration scheme will be brought before the House for consideration, and that Parliament will then have a full opportunity to deal with the matter. I wish to devote most of my time, on this occasion, to the consideration of the position in which we find ourselves, in consequence of what I might term the insufficient efforts being made by leading public men throughout the world - I am not speaking of any particular man - to bring about disarmament. At the termination of the war, the League of Nations was established. It’ was considered that its establishment would lead to the adoption of some method of settling international disputes without recourse to arms. When the League was proposed by the ex-President of the United States (Mr. Wilson), it was claimed that it waa necessary to strike while the iron was hot, because, once peace was signed, without any provision being made for such a League, the proposal would be forgotten, and there would then be no hope of bringing about disarmament. Most of us agreed that that was the time to make provision for bringing the League into existence. Everybody appeared well disposed towards the project. I do not think we had any warmer admirer of it than the Treasurer; but I am sorry to say that the Prime Minister, and the member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), too, appear now to be throwing cold water on the scheme. The League is only a skeleton. It requires the breath of life to be put into it, and that can be done only by leading public men throughout the world making up their minds that it must be a living thing, and that it must achieve the purpose which President Wilson had in, mind when he introduced it. Unless that ia done, the League will soon be a thing of the past, and war will be upon us, perhaps, before we realize it. Instead of making extra provision for defence, public men should be doing their best to reduce defence expenditure, and should turn their attention to measures whereby war can be prevented. I wish to make the position of members on this side of the House quite clear.- We are favorable to steps being taken to give effect to the Covenant of the League of Nations to bring about disarmament, so that there may be world-peace. We stand for that principle. I venture to say that every member of the House stands for it also, and that the people of this country came to the conclusion, after the war, that every possible step should be taken to prevent a repetition of that awful tragedy.
– Do you seriously say that Great Britain should disarm, whether other nations do so or not?
– I am not saying that. I do not want words to be put into my mouth. I desire to deal with the matter as I see it. It is an important question, and not a party one. When the subject was being discussed by the Prime Minister I did not interject, because J wished to give him every opportunity to put his case. In such a matter we ought to do that. My contention is that everything possible is not being done for the purpose of galvanizing this League into life. I charge our own Prime Minister with responsibility in this direction. He has thrown cold water on the League of Nations. It has been sitting from time to time. Its membership now embraces many more nations than when it was first brought into being. This plainly shows that tlie feeling of .the great majority of the nations of the world is that every possible effort should be made to bring about universal peace. To that end they have put their signatures to this Covenant of the League of Nations. The League has held Conferences from time to time, one of which is still sitting. The people of Australia have been looking forward to it as a means of getting away from the burden of armaments and huge expenditure on defence. The people hoped that after the war this money would be spent on some more desirable object, such as the increasing of production and the finding of employment for the workless. All aspirations are in -that direction. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was in Great Britain he deputed - or so it was alleged - Mr. Shepherd to represent Australia at the Conference of the Assembly of the League at Geneva. The representation of Australia on the League ought not to be a party matter. Was it a fair thing to appoint Mr. Shepherd to represent this country at such an important assemblage? I am not going to say anything about Mr. Shepherd’s qualifications, but our representative ought to be a man who has had some experience in public life, and is & representative man. You can pick np men of a kind anywhere, but are they the men who would give the best possible service to this country? Are they responsible to anybody in this country? Is Mr. Shepherd so responsible? He is responsible only to himself. I say without any hesitation that it was an insult to the League of Nations to appoint Mr. Shepherd. The people of Australia are not behind the Prime Minister or the Government, whichever made the appointment. Senator Gardiner made a complaint in the Senate about his appointment, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), speaking in Great Britain, stigmatized his remarks as “piffle.” Senator Millen said, in the first place, that he! knew nothing of the appointment which had been made by the Prime Minister. Subsequently, a further statement was made that Mr. Shepherd had been appointed by the Government.- Overnight, the Government had taken the responsibility of making the appointment, and, said Senator Millen, “ accepts it.” The responsibility for the appointment passed to and fro between the Government and the Prime Minister.
– The Acting Prime Minister never explained that to us, did he?
– We have never heard anything about it in this Chamber. It matters not to the people of Australia whether it was the Prime Minister or the Government that made the appointment, but the fact remains that the Government is responsible for it. It cannot escape from that responsibility. It found that there was a very strong opposition to the appointment throughout Australia, and that almost every leading journal condemned it.
– The newspapers attack the Government for everything.
– They have a perfect right to attack the Government for doing a thing like this. For making this appointment you deserve all the condemnation that can be heaped upon you.
– And more.
– After the Government had found that the feeling was so strong in the country, it appointed Captain Bruce, against whom I have nothing to say, I believe he will do the best he possibly can. The action of the Government in appointing him shows that .it was on the horns of a dilemma, and had to look for a representative other than Mr. Shepherd.
– It shows how lightly they treated the idea of the League of Nations.
– It shows what little importance they attach to the work of the League. The war, notwithstanding what it cost in valuable lives and treasure to the British Empire and other countries, is in danger of being forgotten, while the League of Nations is to be allowed to perish. The Government says, in effect, ‘ ‘ Let us go in for something else, and never mind the securing of the future peace of the world.” I can put no other construction upon its actions. The Government is not in accord with the views of the people. The people are against war; they believe that everything possible should be done to bring about disarmament so as to insure the future peace of the world. I ask honorable members, in all seriousness, what hope can we have for future peace if leading public men connected with different countries think that because of their outstanding position they have a right to dictate that other conferences subsidiary to this one should be held? What can possibly happen. if such men have a dominating influence? Can we hope for the future peace of the world if we do not endeavour to get within the fold of the League every nation of the world, and if we do not attempt to make the representatives of other countries feel that their interests are common with ours in regard to disarmament? Do we think that certain nations, because of their great warlike power, and because, perhaps, of their big populations, should ride rough-shod over the smaller nations ? If we are going to take up that attitude, we can look forward to war for all time. The League should embrace every nation of the world. I think there are now fifty signatories to the Covenant of the League. If you are going to ignore the large majority of these, and to act on your own initiative, what will it mean? Failure will be stamped on every move you make if you do not take into your confidence every other nation. Let the nations feel that their interests are common with yours, and that your object is to bring about disarmament so as to prevent a repetition of the conflagration we suffered from recently. If we do not do that there can be no hope of success. We find in Australia that our own representative public men - and I am very much afraid that Mr. Lloyd George is not too favorably disposed towards the League either - are all cooling off.- It is a regrettable thing. We find our late enemy, Germany, asking to get into the League. She is told that if she conforms to certain requirements her position will be considered, and that probably she will be admitted. It would be a good thing if all thecountries of the world were admitted to the League, and particularly if they would go there with the object of preventing war, of saving life, and of avoiding useless expenditure on armaments. The present position is regrettable, and I feel it to the quick, because throughout the world it was thought that when the war was over an effort would be made to prevent further wars. Today we are not trying to prevent wars as we ought. The door that was opened to us, and through which we might have walked to get the co-operation of the other nations, is being slammed by leading public men. They do not denounce the League, but they are so coldly disposed towards it that they are quietly killing it. The representative of Great Britain on the League, Lord Robert Cecil, is a man who has had public experience; he stands very high in the, nation’s affairs. The same may be said of the representatives of the other countries that have sent leading men, with experience in public life, to represent them. They are trying to keep the League alive. But we are sending as our representative a man who has had no experience in public life, except in the carrying out of secretarial duties around this chamber. He is not a man who should be picked for a position of this kind. From observation of him, I would say that he is ill -fitted to act as a representative of the people of this country in such, an important matter. We members of the Opposition pin our faith to the possibility of the League of Nations being placed in a position that will bring about disarmament, and prevent future wars. . There may be some small parts of the Covenant of the League that are not acceptable to all nations. America stood out of the League, unfortunately. It is regrettable that, after President Wilson had done such good work in bringing the League into being, the American nation withdrew. Even if there are matters in this Covenant dealing with immigration, or with any other subject to which America objects, that country should still come in and seek to rectify them. There has been a desire expressed by most of the nations who are parties to the Covenant that the League should discuss it with a view to removing anything objectionable, and arriving at a common basis for the expression of their aspirations.What is it that the League of Nations stands for? The Covenant states that the object of the League are- -
To promote International co-operation and to achieve International peace and security - by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war; by the prescription of open, just, and honorable relations between nations; by the firm establishment of the understandings of International law as the actual rule of conduct among Governments; and by the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another.
The nations agreed to this Covenant. What I have read really sets out the principles of the League. Every one will admit that those principles are admirable. Article 8 of the Covenant says: -
The members of the League recognise that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligation.
What could, you have better than that? Could anything be drafted to meet the position more satisfactorily? I say it could not. The object is the maintenance of peace by the reduction of armaments and by common action in regard to international obligations. We have our public men to-day turning this prospect aside and talcing no notice of it, as if it were not worth the paper it was written on.
– I have not seen the members of your party doing much propaganda in connexion with it.
– We have been doing little else for some time. We have spoken about it every time the Estimates have been before the House. Article 11 of the Covenant says that -
Any war or threat of war, whether immediately affecting any of the members of the League or not, is hereby declared a matter of concern to the whole League, and the League shall take any action that may be deemed wise and’ effectual to safeguard the peace of nations’.
That article is exactly what is required. There is no reason why it should not be given effect to, and yet nothing is being done. I turn to another article of the Covenant of the League of Nations which is of very great importance. I refer to Article 23, which reads -
Subject to and in accordance with the provisions of International Conventions existing or hereafter to be agreed upon, the members of the League -
will endeavour to secure and maintain fair and humane conditions of labour for men, women, and . children, both in their own countries and in all countries to which their commercial and industrial relations extend, and for that purpose will establish and maintain the necessary international organization ;
undertake to secure just treatment of the native inhabitants of territories under their control;
will intrust the League with the general supervision for the execution of” agreements with regard to the traffic in women and children, and the traffic in opium and other dangerous drugs;
will intrust the League with the gene ral supervision of the trade in arms and ammunition with countries in which the control of this traffic is necessary in the common interest;
will make provision to secure and maintain freedom of communications and transit and equitable treatment for the commerce of all Members of the League-. In this connexion the special interests of the regions devastated during the war of 1914-18 shall be borne in mind; .
will endeavour to take ‘steps in matters of international concern for the prevention and control of disease.
Those interested in the Labour movement throughout the world are deeply concerned to give effect to the provisions of that important article. The Covenant of the League makes provision for disarmament to secure the peace of the world, and also for the betterment of the conditions of workers throughout the world, and yet no effort whatever is being made by our leading public men to breathe the breath of life into that Covenant.
– Because it pays too much regard to the worker.
– There may be something in the suggestion of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) that the articles of the Covenant of the League of Nations are altogether too liberal for some people. The only way in which disarmament may be brought about, and the peace of the world secured, is by people throughout the world realizing that we are all brothers and sisters endeavouring to do our best in the time we must spend here to improve our conditions and make life worth living.
– Is the honorable member not impressed with the work done by the Conference of the League at Geneva as showing the extent to which the Government have been at fault in failing to appoint a proper representative of Australia to attend the meetings of the Assembly ?
– I was about to point out that the Geneva Conference of the Assembly of the League have done good work. Although the Prime Minister has said that the Geneva Conference’ was not of much importance, I find that it has been announced from Geneva that when the general Assembly of the League of Nations was opened, forty-eight nations were represented, whereas only forty-one attended the first Conference of the Assembly. The Assembly of the League of Nations has been dealing with matters of very . grave importance. I find the following statement made concerning the work donethere: -
The League of Nations’ Commission on disarmament has adopted Lord Robert Cecil’s report on disarmament, which the Assembly will be asked to consider at the end of the week. It is expected that the report will constitute the League’s programme on this matter, and when approved by next year’s Assembly will be presented in the form of an International Treaty, which all the nations will be asked to sign. Lord
Robert Cecil’s report proposes the summoning of an International Conference in 1922, to deal with the control of the private manufacture and traffic in armaments, and also proposes a renewal of the request that all nations should agree to no increases in their naval and military midgets for. the next two years over their budgets for the current year.
In spite’ of what is taking place at the Conference of the League of Nations^ only last week we were asked by the Government to consent to an increase in the expenditure on our armaments. I have quoted a declaration of the intention of the League of Nations, which the Prime Minister informs us is not dealing with any matter of importance. It is clear that it has dealt with the most important business ever considered by any body of men. It is dealing with the question of disarmament, and is asking the different nations not to propose any increased expenditure for the next two years on armaments, pending the holding of a future Conference to deal with the whole question. In spite of this, Australia, with her comparatively small population is being asked to spend a good deal more on defence than we spent last year. The quotations I have made show that, despite what the Prime Minister may say to the contrary, the business done by the Assembly of the League of Nations is of the first and utmost importance. It is clear that the Assembly of the League is engaged in doing the work which every one desires shall be done. I have, I think, shown how vitally necessary it is that we should have proper representation at the Conferences of the League. In view of what. I have quoted, I ask honorable members to say whether they think a man like Mr. Shepherd could adequately represent Australia on the question of disarmament and the amount of money to be spent on munitions of war. It is not a question of his ability or qualifications, but of whether he could take the responsibility upon his shoulders as Secretary to the High Commissioner’s Department of making any statement on behalf of the Government of Australia that would be worthy of the consideration of the Conference.
– He would have as much authority as the Prime Minister would permit to any other member of the Government.
– Then the other members of the Government could not have much authority. I am satisfied that the Prime Minister would not give Mr. Shepherd authority to commit the Government in any way on the question of disarmament. If the Prime Minister himself, or some responsible member of the Government, like the Treasurer, Sir Joseph Cook, were representing Australia at the Conference of the League, he would be able to say, “ I shall submit the matter to the Cabinet, and will cable asking members of the Government to agree to your proposal.” No representative would commit his country on so important a question on the spur of the moment, but a responsible representative of Australia could get into touch with the Cabinet in order to learn whether they approved of a certain proposal, and could act accordingly. Mr. Shepherd is not in a position to do anything of that kind, and, therefore, I repeat that his appointment to represent Australia at the Conference of the Assembly of the League of Nations was a reflection on this country and really an insult to the League of Nations itself.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8.15 p.m.
– I have already said that it is desirable that the delegation to the League of Nations should be representative of all parties. The opinion of the Labour party is that it is not sufficient for the party in power to be represented. In many countries the parliamentary Opposition represents a strong minority of the people, and in order to foster that spirit of co-operation which is necessary to make a success of the League, all parties should be invited to send representatives.-
For the rest of the time at my disposal I shall deal with the representation, of Australia at the Washington Conference. During the discussion that took place prior to the Prime Minister’s departure for England, grave fear was expressed as to what might be the position of Great Britain under the Anglo-Japanese Treaty if war occurred between Japan and the United States of America. We were then’ afraid that Great Britain might be drawn into such a dispute, but that possibility seems to have been satisfactorily disposed of. Article 4 of the 1911 Treaty reads -
Should either high contracting party to the Treaty of general arbitration conclude a Treaty of general arbitration with a third Power, it is agreed that nothing in this agreement shall entail upon such contracting party an obligation to go to war with the Power with whom such Treaty of arbitration is in force.
The Prime Minister, in the course of his speech on Friday, made it clear that there is no danger in that direction. He said -
At that time Lord Grey was endeavouring to negotiate a Treaty of arbitration with America, but this was rejected by the United States Senate. In September, 1914, however, Lord Grey succeeded in concluding a Treaty entitled “With regard to Establishment of a Peace Commission,” under the terms of which all disputes between the contracting parties - Great Britain and the United States of America: - were to be referred to a Special Investigation Commission. Although not in terms an arbitration Treaty, it is in effect equivalent thereto, and the then Government of Great Britain accordingly informed the Japanese Government that the “ Peace Commission “ was regarded by them as equivalent to an arbitration Treaty, and that the conditions prescribed by Article 4 of the Treaty of 1911 applied. The Japanese Government accepted the interpretation without demur, and Article 4 has since been applied, thus precluding the possibility of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty leading to war between the United States of America and Britain.
The atmosphere in that direction is clear, and that is something for which we should be thankful.
– According to the Prime Minister’s statement there never was any danger of that kind.
– But we were led to believe that there was.
– That is so, and I am taking this opportunity of making the position clear. A good deal of feeling exists in regard to the representation of Australia at the forthcoiming Disarmament Conference at Washington. It must be admitted by all that that international gathering is fraught with great possibilities to Australia, because it will deal with matters affecting the Pacific, and anything affecting the Pacific must affect Australia. Therefore, there should be representation of Australia at the Conference, and I desire to make clear my opinion that there should be representation from both sides of the Chamber.
– What about the representation of three sides? ,
– There should be representation of all parties. This is not an idea that has suddenly occurred to me. Honorable members may recollect that when we received the first intimation of the proposed Disarmament Conference inWashington I asked the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) whether he would be prepared to recommend that all parties in this House should be represented there, and he. replied in the negative. Even at that time I realized the importance of this Conference and how necessary it was that Australia should be represented.
– Does the honorable member think that the Washington Conference can succeed any better than the League of Nations is succeeding in regard to the reduction of armaments?
– I have already stated my position to the House. I pin my faith to the League of Nations, but that would not justify me in ignoring any other Conference. The Prime Ministei was asked by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) to-day what nations would be represented at the Washington Conference, and he replied that he did not know. The fact remains, however, that a Conference is to be held, at which important Powers are to be represented, and the deliberations of this Conference may open the way for America to enter the League of Nations. So far the United States of America has objected, for certain reasons, to join the League. Those objections may be placed before the Washington Conference, and it is quite possible that the discussion of them may induce America to see the error of her ways.
– The chief objection of the United States of America was that the British Dominions had separate representation in the League.
– That objection may be discussed, and America may see her error. But whether or not we prefer the League of Nations, we must deal with the circumstances as they exist. That Conference is to be held whether we like it or not. -I ask honorable members to again peruse the Prime Minister’s speech on Friday. He said that he suggested, in London, that a conference on disarmament should be held, and so that there may be no misunderstanding, I shall quote his own words -
I urged the Conference to set an example to the world by calling upon the nations - particularly America and Japan - to meet and discuss the abolition of armaments.
Note those words, “ particularly America and Japan,” which show that the Prime Minister recognised that those; were the most important nations, and that he ignored all the other nations in the League. He continued -
Addressing the Prime Ministerof Britain, I said, “ Speak, therefore, on behalf of this gathering of Prime Ministers. Let us give the world, weary of war, and staggering beneath its crushing burden, a lead. Invite the United States of America, Japan, and France to meet us. We cannot hope that the world will beat its sword into a ploughshare, but at any rate it can stop building more ships. Let us stop. this naval construction, and naval expenditure ‘ other than that necessary for the maintenance of existing units, without prejudice to what may be agreed upon hereafter. If the world resolves to stop making any further preparations for war, everything is possible; until that step is taken we are only beating the air.”
That was the Prime Minister’s advice in England. I ask honorable members whether, in the Estimates that.have been sub- … mitted to this Chamber, the Government are preparing for disarmament or further armament. The Prime Minister emphasized in his statement that he made that suggestion in London three weeks before the President of the United States of America convened the Disarmament Conference. The inference is that the Prime Minister was the originator of the Conference, and that it has been convened in consequence of his suggestion. No other construction can be placed, upon his statement. If that inference be correct, how can we reconcile it with the present vacillation, of the Government in regard to this important matter? Why do they not give a lead to the country upon the question of whether or not Australia is to be represented at that Conference. There was never a gathering of greater importance, and yet when everything that is vital to Australia is in the balance, the Government are’ dumb and inactive. The Prime Minister told us that after President Harding had agreed to convene the Disarmament Conference, he proposed that the British Prime Minister should suggest to the President a preliminary Conference in regard to Pacific problems in order to clear the way for the greater question of disarmament. He pointed out that if the Disarmament Conference was to be a success, it was absolutely necessary that Pacific problems should first be dealt with, plainly showing that, in his opinion, Pacific questions must play an important part at the Washington gathering. For some reason best known to himself, President Harding would not agree to a preliminary Conference, but the main Conference on disarmament is to be held. British representatives are to attend it. We understand that President Harding does not recognise the British Dominions as separate entities, and claims that whoever represents the British Government must speak for the whole British Empire. The result will be that Mr. Bonar Law and other British statesmen will be looking after the interests of Australia as part of the Empire. I have nothing to say against Mr. Bonar Law - he is a very capable man - but I doubt whether he is sufficiently conversant with Australian affairs to qualify him to represent us at this important Conference.
– What man outside of’ Australia is qualified?
– I agree with the honorable member. What do British statesmen know about the White Australia ideal - an important question that must be discussed at the Washington Conference? Can we imagine a Conference between America, Japan, and Great Britain, at which the White Australia ideal will not be discussed, and if it is discussed, are those who represent Great Britain to decide this important matter without Australia, having a say?
– They will not decide it. .
– No; but suppose that they make certain representations to the British Government, and that the British Government accept them? Let no one think that there is anything disloyal in what I am about to say, but does any honorable member think that those who will represent the British Government know sufficient about Australia to qualify them to deal with our circumstances and ideals?
– I do not think that they would deal with them without reference to Australia.
– They may refer to Australia, but will they accept Australia’s representations? I am finding no fault with Mr. Bonar Law and the other British representatives, but if we had direct representation of all parties in this Parliament, . they would be able to place before the Conference, or the British delegates to the Conference, the Australian point of view. They would be able to clear the atmosphere, and, help to bring about a satisfactory understanding with the different nations that might lead to disarmament.
– If our representatives could agree.
– Delegates from the different sides always enter a conference with different views, and it is only by discussion in conference that agreement is reached. Without direct representation of the Commonwealth, Australia’s position cannot be adequately dealt with. Therefore, I’ say that there can be no doubt that the Commonwealth should be represented at this most important Conference. We do not know whether or not the Government have done anything to secure Australian representation; we do not know whether or not they have even consulted the British Government upon the subject, but if our Government cannot prevail upon President Harding, through the British Cabinet, to allow Australia to be represented, we should at least have somebody in Washington to act in a consultative and advisory capacity. Representatives from both sides of this House should be sent to Washington to advise Mr. Bonar Law. He and his colleagues will require to discuss matters between themselves outside the Conference, and the Australian view can be placed before them in that way. In any case Australian representatives should proceed to Washington. The Conference is too serious to be ignored. In a previous debate in this Chamber, honorable members unanimously urged that it was necessary for us to be heard in regard to these matters, so that Australian interests and the White Australia ideal might be protected. Over and again the Prime Minister has pointed out, as he pointed out the other day, the menace of the large population in Japan looking for room for expansion, and how necessary, it is for Australia to be watchful that everything is satisfactory to ourselves [Extension of time granted.] I shall not encroach upon the privilege extended to me by honorable members. I merely wish to finalize the position as I see it. ‘
– Do you not think that you, as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, should ask the Government to give, a definite pronouncement upon the Washington Conference issue?
– I have asked for it, and have been promised it to-morrow.
I am sorry the Prime Minister is not in the chamber. In justice to him, I may say that he apologized before the adjournment for his absence, saying that he would be away on a matter of business. Whether that excuse also applies to the present moment I cannot say, but I think that upon a matter of this importance heshould be in his place; so that he might become conversant with the opinions of honorable members upon such an important issue. I feel that he has been throwing cold water upon the Washington Conference, just as he tried to throw cold water on the League of Nations by the appointment of Mr. Shepherd.
– He has been throwing cold water on it all along.
– I quite agree with the honorable member for Perth (Mr. “Fowler). As a matter of fact, it was the Prime Minister himself who recommended the holding of a Conference between Great Britain, America, and China for the purpose of bringing aboutdisarmament, and now President Harding ha3 brought about such a Conference, one would have thought that he who first suggested it would do all he could to make it a success. But what has he done ? He has made no statement to this House upon it. I have been promised one from him to-morrow, after he has the benefit of hearing the debate here and the views of honorable members upon the question. But a Government dealing with national questions should not lag behind and await a lead from the Opposition. It should be prepared to take up the reins to look after the country’s interests and to bring suggestions before honorable members. It is more than passing strange that the Prime Minister should return from London and coolly sit down as if he intended that we should take no part in the Washington Conference, when Australia is crying aloud for representation there, and if the Government do not take action immediately to do the best that is possible in the interests of the Commonwealth this House will have to send them about their business.
– I regret, with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is not in his place when an important debate of this nature is in progress. One would almost think, after hearing his report of the recent Imperial Conference, that perhaps he carried out his mission on the other side of the world in a somewhat similar’ fashion.. While I congratulate him on his safe arrival back from his journey to the heart of the Empire and upon his improved health, I regret that I cannot congratulate him upon the report he has given of what transpired at the London Conference. As the right honorable gentleman traversed Australia from Fremantle on his return one noticed a marked reticence on his part in all his communications to the press.
– You do not think that he should have said anything until he said it in this chamber ?
Dr.EARLE PAGE.- But in view of the fact that the speech he delivered in this House last Friday consisted practically of a summary of newspaper reports as to matters which had been common knowledge in. Australia for weeks, one realizes the reason, why he gave nothing to the press; it was because he intended to say nothing either to the press of Australia or to the Parliament of Australia, of what transpired at the Conference. The gathering he attended was of momentous importance to Australia, and surely there is much that we ought to hear about it! His silence and secrecy have done more disservice to the cause of Imperial unity than anything else that has taken, place since the war ended. After all is boiled down, Imperial unity depends entirely upon sentiment.
– Where is the Prime Minister now? If he is attending a Cabinet meeting, it is no! time for such a meeting.
– When we are debating such an important subject there certainly should be more than one Minister in the chamber. Before the right honorable gentleman went to the Imperial Conference he declaimed against discussion of any kind upon the question of dealing with a Constitution- setting out the relationship of the Dominions to the Motherland, but I am afraid his report of the proceedings at the Conference will do more to disrupt the Imperial relationship than would any attempt on the part of outsiders to discuss the’ position, because how can we create an Imperial” public opinion or atmosphere or standard of Imperial conduct if each Dominion Prime Minister is simply to return to his own Parliament and retail the speeches he delivered in London? In such circumstances we could only proceed in a piece-meal way, and form an opinion by getting newspapers and Hansard from Canada, South Africa and New Zealand at long intervals after our Prime Minister had spoken and piece the fragments together in order to see exactly what took place in London. Was the Conference a success? Its success or failure can be judged by the test our Prime Minister himself proposed at the opening of the proceedings, as to whether it had found a practical and sure way of bridging the’ apparently impassable chasm which divided the autonomous parts of the Empire from taking action in matters affecting all. He said -
It is essential we must do something if the Conference is not to be a magnificent flare of dying illumination.
Has there been any result? Is there one word in either of the speeches delivered by the Prime Minister in this House dealing with that aspect of the case?. He also said in London -
There is no alternative to a solid Empire expressing a concerted view. If no settled Empire defence scheme is settled on the usefulness of the Conference will have vanished.
What was done in that direction? The present position of the Washington delegation eloquently testifies to how little was done. Indeed there is an entire absence of frankness regarding the whole position. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, the Imperial Conference discussed this matter for days. Did it come to the conclusion that Australia’s representation was vital ? Did it say that there should be some Australian representation as part of the British delegation, or was it suggested that because of the important relationship of the Commonwealth to Pacific questions representatives from this country should advise the delegation? No indication- has been given to us by the Prime Minister or his Government, as to what Australia’s attitude was in this matter. Does the absence of a lead from the Imperial Conference mean that in its view no Australian delegation is necessary at Washington? That seems to be the only conclusion that one can form, and, indeed, it seems to be the conclusion the’
Prime Minister nas himself drawn or wishes us to draw.
– It is a fallacious conclusion.
– It is the only conclusion one can draw from the facts. We are still waiting for some definition of the position of the Imperial Conference, some clear understanding of the new status which our Prime Minister defined in the terms of Mr. Lloyd George, and which has been demonstrated to have arisen by reason of the acts to which each of the Governments of the Dominions has subscribed.
– I want to know what that new status is.
– Every one wishes to know what it is. Every one wishes to have some precise and clear-cut idea of it. In ordinary business dealings strict business makes for long friendships. If, in entering into a partnership of any sort, there is a thorough discussion and a proper understanding of the proposed activities the partnership is about to engage in, the agreement itself can be put away in a drawer and never looked at again; but if the partnership is brought about in such a way that the position is imperfectly understood, there is continual trouble, and a dissolution eventually follows. We have misunderstandings already of the attitude! of the other Dominions as to representation in the League of Nations Assembly, and it seems to me that the whole truth has not been given to Australia as it should have been. Why should that not have been done? We are not asking for a written constitution in regard to the Imperial relationship, but for a proper discussion of the matter, and especially for a deliverance in this Parliament of the views expressed by the various Prime Ministers of the Dominions, so that we may know exactly where the other Dominions stand upon this question. The British Empire is like an electro magnet working in a heap of iron. When the current runs through strongly the magnet holds the whole mass together. During the war, when the sentiment of the people of the Empire was made white hot . they were attracted and held well together, but every one knows that there are ebbs and flows of national feeling, and that at times the current flowing through is weak, and at other times it is inter rupted. There have been times in the history of the British Empire when it has seemed as if that current was about to be absolutely interrupted. Fifty or sixty years ago there was a party in power in Great Britain which was anxious to bring about the separation of all Colonial Dependencies. It regarded them as-
– Burdens, and a nuisance.
– Yes; there was a distinct body of opinion of that nature, and it is not beyond reason to think that within the next few years we may conceivably have a Labour party in power in Great Britain more concerned in social and industrial questions than in the maintenance of the Empire.
– There is quite a lot in that direction to be concerned about.
– That is quite understandable, and what is immediately discernible to the eye may be of more concern than matters mote remote, but, nevertheless, equally as important. At any rate, the misunderstandings of which I speak will arise, and cause interruptions to the current, or, at least, cause it to flow weakly through the Empire magnet, and it is therefore necessary that we should have some method whereby we can remove! them in order to keep the Empire a coherent whole rather than incur the risk of its disintegration. It is absolutely necessary to have a clear conception of the method by which misunderstandings may be overcome when they arise. What we need, apparently, is some central Imperial switchboard which will transfer current from a specific source of strength to any part where it may be weak, thus providing by a proper distribution against unexpected interruptions. From what I have been able to learn from the reports which have been made available concerning the views expressed by the Prime Ministers and other Dominion representatives at the Conference, it would appear that all the delegates did not display the strong faith of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth that all is well without anything being required to be done at all. The opinions of General Smuts, for example, seemed to suggest actual doubt. When one considers the problems confronting the Empire, one is bound to be seized of the necessity of doing something more than is being done at present. I may cite, for instance, the question of the causes of war. The Commonwealth Government of which the Prime Minister was at that time a member, though not its leader - I refer to the period of the outbreak of the great war - laid it down, through the then Prime Minister, that no War would occur in future in which Australia would not have some say, and, further, that Australia would never again be caught unprepared. But wars of the future may be precipitated just as suddenly as was the European war, and the necessity for rapid decision on the part of Australia may be just as urgent. Future conflicts may be due, not to European embroilments, but to some trouble arising out of or about the Pacific; may be due for example, to the actions of Australia with respect to the Mandated Islands, and arising possibly from the exclusion of aliens from these Territories, from this continent, or from our treatment of their coloured people. Some such cause may give rise to another international crisis. The only way in which we can hope to learn how and where the other Dominions stand is to be placed in possession of a full and frank statement, not only of what our own Prime Minister said and did at the Conference, but of the views of the other Dominion representatives. We should be informed of details of the arguments advanced by the Prime Ministers of Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand, setting out, as they did, the opinions and aspirations of the peoples of the other Dominions. And even though the Prime Minister has spoken more than once and at length, I urge that he should take the opportunity to speak again, giving honorable members full and complete particulars concerning where the leaders of the other Dominions stand. While there is peace to-day, there may be war in the near future; it may steal upon the world again like a thief in the night, and, unhappily, - we have yet noi solution of the problem of how to arrive at a concerted decision on the question of war. Apparently, indeed, a satisfactory solution is at present beyond the capacities of the statesmen who were at the Conference’ to suggest. “There is only one way of ever arriving at a, solution - that is by giving the fullest publicity to the doings of these “Imperial Conferences. There should be full public knowledge of the proceedings and of the actual agenda papers. All the facts should be given concerning the views, intentions, aspirations, and ideals of the Dominions. This Parliament is entitled not only to learn the arguments advanced by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, but also to be made familiar with the pros and cons of all the Conference debates. The Prime Minister has remarked that there was a sharp division between the representatives of ‘Canada and of Australia upon certain matters having to do with defence and immigration. To be informed of the mere fact that there was a division of opinion which could be described as sharp is not sufficient. This Parliament has a right to know why there should have been so marked a division, and to learn the details upon which the clash of opinion occurred. By being provided with all the facts, members of the Commonwealth Parliament would possibly get to understand the viewpoints of the people of the sister Dominions, ‘ and thus an opportunity might be afforded for arriving at a solution of the difficulties upon this problem and others which created diversities of opinion. The Prime Minister has missed an opportunity of assisting towards such a solution, in this instance, perhaps, by his unwarranted reticence. I recall that, after the war, it was stated that open diplomacy was to be the international policy of the future. Whether or not such procedure has been put into practice is another matter; (but, if that was the ideal to be aimed at in respect of international affairs, surely there might be expected something like frankness and candour in dealing with the internal affairs of what is, after all, a great family circle. May I be permitted to refer, in this regard, to the matter of our representation at Assemblies of the League of Nations ? Honorable members have not yet been given a thorough insight concerning where Australia stands in this matter; there has been no scope afforded for an exhaustive discussion of the subject. I cannot find, in all the numerous reports and papers through which I have searched, anything definite concerning the attitude at this Conference of the various Dominions. The only points which have been brought home to me, so far, are that Mr. Meighan is optimistic, that Mr. Hughes is pessimistic, and that
Mr Massey is half.and.half upon the subject of the League. This Parliament, however, desires to know the reasons for the views held and expressed by each of these Prime Ministers. The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth should report to Parliament specifically where he himself stands. In his appointment of the Acting High. Commissioner (Mr. Shepherd) to the current Assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva, does the Prime Minister consider that he was really representing Australian opinion, or was his action in this respect to be taken as merely an insult to the League of Nations, in that he should have appointed, as representative of the Commonwealth, one who ‘had had no political experience and who had held no public office for any length of time? Was the appointment an expression merely of the Prime Minister’s personal contempt for the League?
– Every self-governing Dominion was represented by its High Commissioner or by its Acting High Commissioner.
– Whatever may have been the motive of the Prime Minister* - whether it was just a matter of impish mischief on his part, or whether the appointment of Mr. Shepherd was made with a general purpose of displaying Australia’s alleged feelings towards the League of Nations - I am bound to put on record at this stage that there is a considerable body of public opinion in Australia which resents the attitude of the Prime Minister. The public are grateful that the presence in England of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) permitted . his subsequent . appointment as a representative ofthe Commonwealth at Geneva, thusenabling this country to be adequately represented in the deliberations of the Assembly.
May Iref er briefly to the questions involved in the whole matter of the Pacific? We know that thisproblem, generally, teems with difficulties. It is a most complex and, at the same time, a most vital matter to Australia. Before his departur-e for England, I passed encomiums upon the Prime Minister because of the work he had done at the Peace Conference in securing such terms as he succeeded in getting with respectto the mandated territories of the Pacific. Butto-day it is necessary that we should be made acquainted with the opinions and attitude generally of the other Dominions. We should be informed, for example, concerning the views which may be held by them as to our methods of dealing with those Pacific Islands, and with their inhabitants. There may be strong opinions respecting the attitude of Australia as a country having a policy of exclusion of all but -white people. There may be criticism of our policy - holding such ideals as we do - in endeavouring to govern the mandated islands which, for many years to come, must continue to be the habitations of considerable coloured populations - alien peoples whom we prevent from entering Australia, and whose products we debar with a high. Tariff wall. What are the opinions of Canada, and of the other Dominions, upon this question? The subject is well worth discussing, and requires, the fullest light of publicity. It is one . which ought to receive careful attention as an Imperial matter. ‘ Consideration, full and open, might well be given upon the point whether Australia really is the best guardian of the mandated . territories, or whether distant Britainwould not be the better qualified to control the islands of the Pacific, being detached from the problems actually arising, and having, in any case, the advantage of greater official experience in handling such problems. We should be placed in a position to secure the benefit of the advice and suggestions of the other Dominions, and to have those opinions fully and clearly stated.
Concerning the matter of intraImperial relationship, I must pay tribute to the work of the Prime Minister, as it has been outlined. Every one must have been pleased to learn of the fight conducted by the representative of the Commonwealth for more adequate wireless communication. The Prime Minister aims at a great ideal, and if, some day, it should be possible -for the Prime Ministers of the Dominions and of the Mother Country, to talk as directly and readily over their wireless telephones as one can converse between one office and another in the City of Melbourne, theremay thus have been solved the great question of Imperial control.
As for . the question of trading with Germany, one is given to understand that a resumption is not yet in operation. But why not? Is it simply because the-
Commonwealth Government have not thought it advisable that Australia should resume trade relationships up to the present? During the past year or two, one has seen in this country a great variety of goods which appear to be identical with those made in Germany, and imported to Australia before the war. They have been, and are, being sold in this country under some other label of origin. But why should this absurd situation be maintained? Why should the Government carry on the vendetta? The war is won and over. Peace terms have been/drafted.
I was rather interested to learn of the “enormous” sum of money which the Prime Minister has been able to secure for Australia in respect of ‘payment by Germany for the upkeep of those Australian troops who were stationed, at the close of the war, not only in German territory, but in other parts of Europe. Itwould appear that the Commonwealth was to have received, by way of recompense for the cost of those troops among the army of occupation, the trifling sum of £1,000. That amount, however, was to have been paid, I take it, because of specific arrangementsmade. The question arises of who made the arrangements in the first place. Was not the Commonwealth Administration responsible for the inadequacy of the terms? And, to that extent, should there not be criticism rather than praise of the Prime Minister for having failed to secure a more satisfactory result ?
With respect to immigration, I am glad that at last we are beginning to think and act comprehensively. It was certain that we would never get anywhere by bringing out new settlers haphazard, and permitting them to become footsore by walking the streets of Australian cities looking for jobs.-‘ I maintain that there should be broad, comprehensive schemes to provide for judicious selection and proper supervision and care upon arrival in this country. I have previously outlined schemes for adequate immigration. The programme of the Federal Country party embraces such projects, and, until a plan of operations has been properly conceived, put into operation, and carried on along big and continuous lines - providing for real and true cooperation between the Commonwealth and States - can there be any real success in this regard? The Commonwealth should have control of the matter of the selection and financing of immigrants ; the State Governments should be given the task of providing quickly for their absorption and satisfactory settlement. Only by such co-operation can we hope for a “huge influx of population such as the climate and natural resources of Australia warrant.
Regarding the matter of cheaper cables, such provision has been obviously necessary for very many years. It is time that not merely the Imperial Conference, but the Governments of the Dominions themselves, got busy, and made it possible, not only for the big daily newspapers to secure an abundant news service, but for small country newspapers to secure cable services at reasonable rates to enable their readers to become fully acquainted with the’ conditions prevailing in other parts of the world. It is only by the fullest publicity and most intimate knowledge that the people can become acquainted with what is happening in the other Dominions. The foreign relations established by each Dominion, and by the Old Country, should be known not merely to their own people, but the others should be informed as to our conditions,so that we could establish an Imperial public opinion and standard of Imperial conduct, which would be -the means of keeping this Empire united and powerful for many centuries to come. One of the functions should be the provision of an Imperial Bureau of Information, which could be subsidized by the various Governments, and which could provide the Inter-Dominion and international information which the people desire. Definite and reliable information - not like that from our immigration bureau in England - should be placed before the peoples of the various countries.* It is remarkable that at a time when several million exservice men in England are anxious to emigrate to this country nothing of any consequence is being done.
Regarding the question of foreign relations, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has shown us that there was no necessity for him to rush home to the Imperial Conference to participate in the discussion on the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, because the Treaty continues in operation until either contracting party gives notice of a desire that it should terminate.- That view was submitted to the Prime Minister before he left Australia, and some day the secret history of the calling of this Conference will make interesting reading. I would like to know who made the discovery, after all the delegates, especially the Australian, had arrived, that there was no need to discuss the renewal of the Treaty. There is no need to add to what has already been said regarding the relations between Japan, America, Australia, and China, and the necessity for securing better terms in connexion with the renewal of the Treaty; but I am rather disappointed at the report submitted by the right honorable gentleman concerning what was to be one of the most important topics to be dealt with at the recent Imperial Conference. Every one agrees that naval defence is the girder and guarantee of such a wide flung Empire as the British Empire, and it must be the main bulwark of an island continent such as Australia. I would like to hear the opinions expressed by the representatives of various other Dominions, especially in regard to this naval defence policy. The decisions at the Disarmament Conference will perhaps determine the size of the fleets, but the Imperial Conference discussions should have led to some definite conclusions as to the particular quotas to be allocated to each Dominion. We should be informed whether territorial considerations received due weight in providing the different quotas for the several Dominions on a population basis, or what common denominator was chosen.
The general desire in Australia is in the direction of disarmament. It is the economic ideal, and the Defence Estimates annually presented in every country makes every one strongly desire disarmament. The disarmament of Germany has proved of incalculable benefit commercially and industrially, and this is beginning to be realized throughout the world, and nowhere more than in Germany. I am glad to see that in Japan there is an indication that apparently the bellicose spirit only exists in the minds of the military officials who desire to aggrandize their positions. In the Transpacific of August last there is an article dealing with the question as it affects commercial Japan. It reads:
Interest of Japanese business circles in disarmament solidified toward the end of June into a movement on the part of the Osaka
Chamber of Commerce, and this movement culminated before the close of the month in a resolution by the Tokyo Conference of the leading eight Chambers of Commerce of the Empire calling on the Government to conclude an agreement with the other Powers bo that peace might be guaranteed, and the energy and resources of the country be devoted to the advancement of industry. The resolution was not passed,, however, without considerable opposition on the ground that the Chambers of Commerce should confine their activities outside the realm of politics. Viscount Shibusawa, who has repeatedly spoken in favour of limitation of armaments, took an active part in the discussion of the Tokyo Conference. The Chambers of Commerce taking part in the Conference were those of Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nagoya, Okayama, and Moki-
Shimonoseki. The resolution was as follows: -
Whereas, now that the League of Nations has become an accomplished fact, and the limitation of armaments has become the subject of serious consideration and discussion in all countries;
Be it resolved, that it is the urgent business of Japan, which has always stood for the upholding of justice and humanity, and the maintenance of peace throughout the world, to conclude a proper agreement with the Powers regarding disarmament so that international peace may be guaranteed, and that more energy may be devoted to the development of industries.
The Osaka Chamber of Commerce, representing the leading industrial community of Japan, had come to Tokyo prepared and determined. The movement had been inaugurated by the Osaka Chamber by the passing of a resolution similar to, but even more strongly worded than the one adopted in Tokyo. This resolution was submitted to the Conference along with another and similar one, with the result that after Committee consideration and redrafting the resolution quoted above, was presented to the Conference, and, after a heated debate, passed. It was reported that the other Chambers of Commerce of the country besides the “big eight” would be urged to pass the same or a similar resolution.
The Tokyo Conference also passed a resolution opposing the Government’s policy in regard to the gold standard for Dairen. Further resolutions dealt with the readjustment of taxation (discussed under “ Finance “ in our “ Finance-Commerce-Industry “ section ) , the creation of a bureau on ways and means for the development of trade, and the proposal to participate in the International Congress of. Chambers of Commerce in London”.
As one of the leading spirits in the disarmament movement in Japan, Viscount Shibusawa’s views are of interest. At a recent meeting of the American-Japan Society in Tokyo, the Viscount said:- “As for the folly of regarding armaments as an insurance for safety, the unprecedented catastrophe from which the world is just now partly emerging, demonstrates this beyond the possibility of any doubt. The leading nations must now get together and agree upon a general limitation of armament. “ The prospect for curtailment is exceedingly good, but in considering this subject it is well, forus to remember the old saying, that in doing a journey of 100 miles one must consider the ninetieth as the half-way mark of the trip. There still remains a mountain of work to be done by those desiring disarmament.”
With, that warning I think every one will agree. We are nowhere near the ninetieth mile, yet the Australian attitude is known throughout the world. We desire to cease spending money on battleships and military forces, if we can possibly do so. We are inhabiting a continent of 3,000,000 square miles with a population of 5,500,000, which is less than two inhabitants to each square mile, and our waste spaces make us the Achilles heel of the Empire. It is to be hoped that this Conference will reach some agreement which will prevent any increase in naval expenditure, and if a plan of disarmament can be rendered practicable and definite, it will require some authority to supervise the arrangements. This seems to be the proper work for the League of Nations, if it can be made a virile body. We do not wish to encounter the difficulties which Great Britain experienced in 1910, when the German scare perturbed the whole of England by the disclosure of the fact that Germany was laying down more keels than had originally been decided upon.
As regards the Washington Conference I desire to discuss the exact position of the Federal Country party, especially in view of the fact that certain newspapers endeavoured some months ago to define the attitude of the party. Before the Prime Minister left for Great Britain we definitely assured him that we would not unduly embarrass his Government if their action was such that they should not be embarrassed. That promise Was carried out in a most generous spirit. Although we are thoroughly in accord! with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) as regards the necessity for Australia being represented at Washington, whether as part and ‘parcel of the Imperial delegation or not, we feel that the ultimate basis of agreement will be the force that other nations can bring to bear. It seems to us to be highly necessary that, if the business of Australia is to be successfully carried on, we should not have a peripatetic Prime Minister, travelling from delegation to delegation, and leaving us a Ministry in suspended animation when matters of the gravest importance are being considered. We were always being told that certain questions would be dealt with when the Prime Minister returned; but whether the right honorable gentleman is here or not it is the duty of the Government to make proper provision for Australian representation abroad when it is necessary. The Government should be capable of exercising authority and coming to soma decision in’ his absence, and whether it was the Prime Minister or some one else who had been selected to represent us we would have been satisfied with the decision arrived at so long as some finality was arrived at. If the Imperial Conference has in any degree fulfilled expectations, Imperial statesmen should bo thoroughly au fait with the problems that will affect Australia and the other Dominions at the Disarmament Conference. We are certain that the Disarmament Conference will have, in the British delegation, some one who is conversant with Australian ideals, if the Prime Minister has put the position clearly before the Conference. If Mr. J ustice Isaacs were included in the British delegation he would be able to utilize his knowledge of Australian affairs, and would be able to place his long political experience at the disposal of the delegates..
– Does not the honorable member think that some one answerable to this Parliament should be selected?
– I am prepared to discuss the) matter on the notice of motion which I have on the notice-paper if the opportunity occurs.
– Is the gun loaded?
– I do not wish honorable members to misunderstand me. I have two notices of motion. I have on the business-paper a notice of motion dealing with the whole question of external representation. So far as our representation at the Washington Conference is concerned, I should like to state the opinion which I and my colleagues hold, but before doing so I desire to say that I differ entirely from the view expressed by the Prime Minister as to the value of a preliminary conference on Pacific questions. It is arguable whether a preliminary conference would lead to any good at all. On the contrary, it wight easily be the means of stirring up a great deal of bad blood, and perhaps result in the withdrawal of the proposal to hold the Washington Conference at all. The entire discussion should be centred in the one Conference, and Australia should be represented.
– How would you overcome the difficulty, seeing that we have not been invited ?
– That is a matter upon which, I think, we might expect a fuller statement from the Leader of the Government. It seems to me that we have been defrauded of our just rights in not receiving information regarding this matter. We should know why the Imperial Conference did not take a stand on this subject, which is of such vital importance to Australia, and insist upon some representation in the delegation.
As regards the representation of Australia in London and abroad, the time has come, when some alteration of the present system should be made. During the past eleven or twelve years, High Commissioners, men of distinction, and who have served Australia well in the political arena, colleagues of some of the gentlemen who held office in former Governments, ‘have occupied the post of High Commissioner, but for the past six years, since the present Prime Minister has been in office, I think a computation would show that for almost half that time he has really been out of Australia representing the Commonwealth in some way or other, notwithstanding that we have had as High Commissioner in London, a gentleman who was Prime Minister in a Government of which the present Prime Minister was Attorney-General, and who, one would have thought, would have proved a satisfactory medium of communication with the Imperial Government.
– Order! The honorable member must confine himself to a discussion, of the matters contained in the Prime Minister’s statement.
– Then, Mr. Speaker, I will deal with the question of the representation of Australia at the Washington Conference, and to be in order I shall quote again from the wellknown authority referred to -
It may safely be predicted that if the Dominion representatives are to have only such control of or intelligence of foreign politics in their relation to the Empire as they can pick up once in four years at a very much overcrowded Conference, they are not likely to benefit the Empire very much. Nothing but the close following of the trend of politics abroad can be useful to a Government.
It seems to me that that is exactly the position as regards Australia. In 1891 Sir Charles Tupper suggested that a resident Minister should be appointed to deal with matters of this nature, and in 1912 Mr. Harcourt suggested that a resident Minister would be found to be the most satisfactory means of communication with the Imperial Government. Since then Canada has adopted that principle. The Imperial Government offered, as regards the London representation of Australia, to vary the present system in any way the Dominion Government might think desirable. Strange to say, no matter who is appointed as High Commissioner, almost immediately, for some means or other-
-Order ! The honorable gentleman must not discuss that matter.
– The Dominion Governments soon began to mistrust their representatives abroad, and during the last six years, notwithstanding that Australia’s representation in London is costjug from £60,000 to £70,000 a year, Mr. Watt, Sir Joseph Cook, Senator Pearce, Senator E. D. Millen, and Mr. Shepherd, together with the Prime Minister on numerous occasions, have been forced to proceed to London to represent the Commonwealth.
– Do not forget Mr. McAnderson. He also was sent over to organize the London office.
– I find I have not Mr. McAnderson’s name on my list, but probably he ought to be included among the resident Ministers who have been sent to London to look after the business of the Commonwealth there. The reason for this, I think, is obvious. It is an axiom of political economy that direct discussion between Ministers of the Crown is more effective than any amount of correspondence. It is easy to see why this should be so, and it seems to me that if we adopt this system and secure for the resident Minister in London an emolument equal to the amount received by Ministers of State, we would open up a satisfactory channel of communication between the Commonwealth and the Imperial Government.
– I again remind the honorable member that he is not discussing the Ministerial statement.
– Is it not a fact that the honorable member’s party prevented the Prime Minis’ter from going to “Washington. Did they not tell him to come back and take his gruel?
– We did not say that. In my opinion, Australia should - if the Government have not deferred action until too late - be represented at the Washington Conference by a Minister of the Crown, who would be able to bring back to this Parliament a report of some value. and on lines quite different from the report presented by the Prime Minister on Friday and this afternoon. ‘
.- Judging by occasional ebullitions of feeling to-night there appears to be some danger of an importation into this debate of the old party spirit. I agree at once with the Leader of the: Opposition (Mr. Charlton), who discountenanced anything of that kind, and I indorse thoroughly his statement that the issues we are engaged upon just now transcend party issues. They rise a long way above the struggles and decisions that usually separate us. Whatever party is in power or whoever leads the Government, the questions that were introduced for discussion on Friday and to-day strike into the very roots of Australia’s being now and in the future. It would be very unfortunate, therefore, if other honorable members continued, along the lines of the observations that have fallen from the lips of the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) . There may be occasions to criticise the actions of the Government or its head, but so far as possible criticism of that nature should be kept out of this debate, and if I follow for a few moments on the lines which I have set for myself I shall do well.
I think, reading the history of past Imperial Conferences, gatherings of the kind from which the Prime Minister has just returned, it will be admitted that they have always proved beneficial to the
Empire and its constituent parts. At those earlier Conferences statesmen of the Empire met to consider common problems, but in recent years the gatherings have assumed an intimacy of touch and spirit which former Conferences lacked. It is quite clear to any one who has visited the Old Country or discoursed with representatives of other Dominions that we have totally different points of view on ‘many fundamental questions throughout _ this Empire, and that the only way to harmonize these differing objectives is to assemble around the Council table and talk about them with the utmost frankness.- The Prime Minister, I think, is right in saying that whatever else this Conference achieved, however we may be disappointed with the decisions registered, or the lack of them1, the advance made on this occasion was a marked one. I agree that it represents a substantial advantage to Australia, and probably to Canada and the other Dominions, as well as to, the Mother Country itself. But when we have acknowledged all that, I think we ought to say candidly that that is practically all that was done. It seemed to me, as I read daily the cable communications from the other end of the world, when the Conference was taking place, and as I listened on Friday and to-day to the speech of the right honorable the Prime Minister, that this Conference was, from every other standard, practically resultless. We cannot blame, if blame there be, any person who took part in that gathering. It was clearly overshadowed by two great events of world-wide importance - one of peculiar significance to the Anglo’-Celtic race whose whole origin is in the British Empire, and the other to the well-wishers of humanity wherever they live. The first event was the attempt at Irish reconciliation, and from this Conference which the Prime Minister attended were drawn some of the ablest representatives from the Homeland or the Dominions in an endeavour to build a bridge between the rest of the United Kingdom and the disturbed Irish people. Every person in Australia, I venture to think, prayed that success would attend their efforts to draw together the sundered members of the United Kingdom, in Great Britain and Ireland. Since the Conference terminated there appears tol be a probability that another meeting’ will take place, either in Scotland or England, and a number of the misunderstandings having been cleared away, we may now hope for an effective settlement of the Irish question. I cannot imagine that the Prime Minister of Great Britain, or any of his colleagues, could continue to pay sustained attention, or give earnest consideration, to even the problems of the Empire which the Dominion representatives were considering, while that great event was moving on the stage. The other circumstance which frustrated the hopes, and rendered in some degree unnecessary the deliberations of the Conference, was the issue of an invitation by the- new President of the United States of America to a Conference to be held in Washington shortly. To be quite fair to whoever spoke for Great Britain and her Dominions, the position plainly was, that after preliminary conversations on foreign policy, on Empire defence, and on the Anglo- Japanese alliance, this invitation reached the assembled statesmen of the Empire. Could they have gone on and settled, as they proposed to settle before they were apprised of this Conference, the problems they had gathered to consider? Clearly no. This invitation went right into the centre of their gathering. Foreign policy was to be determined by relationships which were largely conditioned by the armaments question. The Anglo- Japanese problem, a phase of foreign policy, was trenched on by the invitation of President Harding, and the problem of defence for the Empire on land and sea was as intimately related to the proposed gathering. So it was perfectly clear that whatever else the delegates did, they could not continue to the point of finality the discussion of any of the questions they were considering. While we are endeavouring to pierce the veil of mystery that has unfortunately shrouded the Conference, wo must acknowledge that those were the conditions that would have faced anybody speaking for the British Dominions or the Home land at that Conference. I think that, rather than regret it at all, wo should congratulate ourselves upon it. It is a far bigger thing for the representatives of the Empire to have helped towards the solution of the Irish problem, and to have participated in the consideration of disarmament, than even to have understood one another to the point of finality on foreign policy in other directions, and upon the Anglo- Japanese alliance.
The point to which I wish to direct special attention, not so much in terms of criticism or complaint as in terms of inquiry, is the methods adopted by the Conference, which have been referred to by the Prime Minister himself, by the Acting Leader of the Opposition, and by the Leader of the Country party. I felt it my duty, in endeavouring to ascertain what was being done while the Prime Minister was away, to ask the acting head of the Government some questions about publicity. I had hoped that, whatever for the time being might veil that Conference, when the Prime Minister returned, we would have the whole book opened, and would be able to understand - so far as it is permissible to allow foreign nations to know our objectives at this critical stage - all that happened at the Conference. There is one question for example, about which, I think, we ought to have got the whole argument, and regarding which the Conference, if wise, would have requested the delegates to throw the book wide open ; that is, the constitutional issues of the Empire. That would have involved no disclosures likely to be injurious or disastrous to the British people, and would have encouraged Empire education, Empire conscience, and public spirit on a new plane. What apparently happened was .this : - and if I am wrong, perhaps some member of the Government will correct me at a later stage. The members of the Conference assembled as a British Cabinet, that is to say, a Cabinet of the Empire, and I suppose they followed the ordinary practices of a Cabinet. The debate was free and easy, and probably conversational. There was no record of proceedings, and probably no Hansard report was kept. If that be so–
– That is not so.
– Then we should have been given more information.
– Of that you must complain to the Conference itself.
– I am speaking of the Conference itself, and of no particular delegate. I can understand the Prime Minister saying, “I am only permitted to tell you what views I put. I am not permitted tes tell you what arguments I replied to, or what was the attitude of any other part of the British Dominions.” It is perfectly plain that one cannot gather the full story by these methods. What was to stop the Conference - I do not mean the Prime Minister of Australia - from saying to its members, “ The people for whom you speak, and the Parliaments you represent, will expect from you a full story of our deliberations so far as it is safe to give it, and on certain things no question of reticence need embarrass you.” Why could not the’ Prime Minister have told us the whole story where the foreign interests of the Empire were not in danger ?
– I have told you my side of the story. It is for the gentlemen who represented the other parts of the Empire to tell you theirs. I may not do so.
– That may be perfectly true, but the student of Empire affairs in Canada., Australia, or elsewhere should not be under any necessity to hunt through the Hansards of all the Parliaments of the Empire to piece together this disjointed story of a subject that affects the very lives of the people. I could not imagine, when I heard the Prime Minister speak on the constitutional question, on which he and I may have some differences of opinion - although I am not sure on that point - what argument he was answering. For example, was there anybody at the Conference who proposed a written Constitution for the British Empire? I should be surprised to hear that any Parliament, or responsible speaker representative of a Parliament of this Empire, actually proposed a black and white bond of .agreement defining obligations, duties, and powers between the Mother Country and her Dominions.
– The inference “to be drawn from the Prime Minister’s statement is that it was proposed.
– It’ clearly is that. We cannot understand this issue, or think on right lines, without knowing if that is so, and if so, what was the basis of the argument, and who urged it. I profoundly respect the culture and constitutional knowledge of the leaders of all the Dominions of Great Britain. If we were told, for example, that General Smuts had strongly urged a certain line of constitutional thought, it would surely be worthy of very careful consideration. -If, on the other hand, we were informed that the Prime Minister of Canada had urged a certain course, we ought to know the arguments behind it, whether they were sound or fallacious, in order to guide us in these important deliberations. The Prime Minister was able to say’ that his views prevailed in relation to the Constitutional Conference which was contemplated for 1922 or 1923. He claimed in one of his tabled utterances credit for that. I believe we do not need any larger powers in these Dominions than we now enjoy. We have the absolute full status of manhood. We have sufficient independence to satisfy the most extreme and radical thinker, and we have, if we are wise, that spirit of interdependence which will hold us together.
– And desire to keep it, too.
– Yes, on all sides. I do not believe in striving for greater recognition of the Dominions, if it is going to strain the partnership; I think that unless there is the utmost prudence on the part of Dominion leaders in the exercise of our new powers, there is danger. I would like to see a Conference, not writing a Constitution, but defining what the new powers mean, so as to lead to their uniform exercise by the Dominions. We are’ represented on the Assembly of the League of Nations, and we have direct contact with the secretariat of the League. Are we sure that Canada, is using these new-found powers in the same way as Australia? We know nothing about that. It is an important matter, and the Prime Minister, unfortunately, in both of the speeches made by him in this House, has indicated that it is dangerous even to consider those new found powers.
– You evidently did not hear me. What I said was that unless we exercised our powers with wide restraint, it would be impossible to keep the Empire together.
– I am glad to hear the Prime Minister say that. I have always voiced the same opinion in other words.
– That is the right way to say it.
– I think I could improve upon it if I had time. But are all the other Dominion representatives, who spoke for their respective parts, of the same view ? Judging by utterances we have had at different times, there is a danger of some of them taking a different conception of their opportunities and powers from that of Australia.- That was the reason why I thought a constitutional discussion would be useful. The Prime Minister said it would not occur, but it did occur in London, although we were not able to express our views to guide the right honorable gentleman before he left for England.
– It would be almost impossible to arrive at common methods of interpretation.
– I think not. Take, for example, the representation on the League. Surely it could be agreed by the Dominions that, before their views were placed on record by the League, a family British Conference should be held to see how the views of the various Dominions could be reconciled. It might, be that Australia’s view would not coincide with that of South Africa, and we might have the presentation of two distinct views from two different parts of the Empire, both of them, perhaps, quite out of accord with that of the Home centre. All I want is a discussion as to the use of these powers before we wire Geneva our views on any of the great questions that may bring friction or rupture between ourselves and other people. Great Britain and the other Dominions should be told exactly what our views are, and from a family conference by wire or tongue there should arise a uniform opinion.
– It is not possible for rupture to occur.
– I think otherwise. All depends on the moderation that may rule in the councils of the Empire, whether these powers are safe or not. I shall leave that question, and say that I hope ;in future Conferences other methods, and publicity within lines of safety, will be sanctioned, so that the whole of the Dominions of the Empire may know exactly what attitude their delegates take, and the reasons that impel them to certain decisions.
I refer now to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Mention has been made to night by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), of the discovery that was made about the termination of the agreement, and the burden of his statement was that there was really no occasion to have a Conference to consider this matter at all, he being under the impression that the Treaty or Alliance would have expired, as it had been denounced. Before the right honorable the Prime Minister left Australia he published and presented to this House a paper from which he has quoted to-day. It gave the various forms of the agreement that had been arrived at, right up to the last one, and it concluded with the document signed by the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain and the Japanese Ambassador in London. This was signed at Spa, on the 8th July, 1920. If one reads that paper, which was addressed to the Secretariat of the League, one now wonders why it was suggested that it was a denunciation of the Treaty.
– Japan held that it was not a denunciation of the Treaty.
– The point the honorable gentleman must see is this, that the British Crown Law officers so advised, and on their advice the British Government acted. They notified us, and it is not for us to question their action in a matter in which they are the principals. They said, “As a matter of fact, it will expire.”
– I regret to say that the Prime Minister did not hear the argument advanced by the Acting Leader of the Opposition, to which I am referring. We were not told before the Prime Minister left Australia that the British Crown Law authorities had so advised.
– I was informed when I spoke here of the attitude of the British Government, which attitude they took upon the advice of their Crown Law officers.
– When you returned?
– No, before I departed.
– I expressed the opinion, and I think the right honorable the Prime Minister concurred in my view, that unless this Treaty was specifically denounced it lasted indefinitely, and if denounced it lasted for twelve months after the denunciation.
– And I think I said it had been denounced.
– I did not get that. But putting that matter aside for a minute, one still wonders at the view of the Crown Law authorities of Great Britain. Here was. a declaration signed by Lord Curzon and Baron Chinda, in that the respective Governments had come ta the conclusion that the Anglo-Japanese agreement of the 13th July, 191.1, now existing between the two countries, though in harmony with the spirit of the Covenant of the League of Nations,’ was not, entirely consistent with the letter of the Covenant, which both earnestly desired toi respect. They accordingly “have the honour jointly to inform the League that they recognise the principle that if the said agreement be continued after July, 1921, it must be in a form which is not inconsistent with the Covenant.”
– It was the words “ if it be continued after July, 192:1,” that led the Crown Law officers to ask, “ “Why were these words used unless it Was meant that this notice was required under Article 6?” I do not agree with them. I agree with you. But that is their view.
– A curious feature of this is that if one reads the article itself it does not require a joint denunciation. It provides for separate denunciation. That is to say, England could say to Japan, “We give you twelve months’ notice of termination,” and then, at the end of twelve months, the Treaty would expire unless continued in some form. Japan might do the same, but there is no provision for joint representation to any body suggesting an alteration of form. It was only the form of the Treaty that was not consistent with the covenant; but the honorable gentleman who is acting as Deputy Leader of the Opposition has suggested that we never should have had consideration of this question at this stage at all.
– If it had not been for the British Crown Law opinion, which was subsequently upset by a further opinion, it would not have been , a subject for the agenda paper at the’ Conference at all.
– Why not?
– Because the Treaty would not have been in existence1.
– It is always the last word from the highest authority that determines what is the law on any point. Apparently Lord Birkenhead made up his mind that this was not a denunciation. The Lord High Chancellor is the last legal resort of the British Government, and to him the Government made its appeal.
– There must be a Court to which the parties can go to settle a question of law.
– There is no Court of international jurisdiction that could determine this point, unless the League is functioning in that direction.
– Purely a fake.
– I do not regard it as a fake. I cannot understand why honorable gentlemen opposite suggest that this was a pretext for the Conference.
– Does the honorable gentleman not consider that in view of the fact that the authority he has just quoted is the highest in Great Britain, Ohe Government should have appealed to it before taking it for granted and announcing publicly that there was a denunciation of the Treaty by Japan.
– I think- the practice in Great Britain is for the Government, in ordinary matters, to get its law from the Solicitor-General, or the AttorneyGeneral, and for all practical purposes their opinions guide it. But in a matter of high Imperial concern or of international concern, surely they do wisely to appeal to the man who, elevated on the Woolsack, is considered to be removed for the time being from all contact with politics.
– Why did they not appeal to him before making the decision ?
– Because that is not the practice. That is the only reason that oan be given.
– That shows that the British Government is not infallible. I venture to think that the conversations that have already taken place as a result of this conference on the- AngloJapanese question, and the specific relations of these two countries, have not been wasted on the British family. It has been a gain to us if the Prime Minister has put his views to the British authorities as trenchantly as we are accustomed to hear them expressed on the White Australia issue, the Navy issue, our relationship generally io the south-east corner of Asia, and the. reason for our racial and economic policy. I am rather glad that these views will be allowed to sink into the minds of the people of Great Britain, that the tree will not be expected to fruit at once. If later on a conference after that at Washington is to consider this question, I think the statesmen of the Empire will be better able to assess Australia’s right to insist upon its racial policy. The greatest importance, however, of this discussion does not centre in the question of denunciation or con?tinuance of the Treaty, but hangs upon what, to me, is a discovery of the greatest possible value - the acknowledgment, the proclamation for the first time, as far as we in Australia knew, of the Treaty with America, carried through by Earl Grey, I understand, before he left office in 1914. I do not think the Prime Minister himself even knew about that Treaty when he left Australia.
– The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), I think, mentioned it. However, I was familiar with it. I am bound to say that I did not appreciate to as full an extent as I did when I came ito regard the matter as a whole, the bearing which it had on the view that was put very strongly in this House of the danger of the AngloJapanese Treaty in regard to our relations with America.
– It is ito us welcome news, irrespective of party, and it will be of immense comfort to the people of Australia to think that “we can renew the Japanese Treaty, if it be agreed to do it, in a form consonant with the requirements of the Covenant of the League, without in any way antagonizing our relations with the great white republic of the west. When j the Prime Minister left Australia, honor- able members in all parts of the Chamber said, “ Renew the alliance if it can be done agreeably to the conscience and Views of the United States of America.” The Treaty concluded in 1914 apparently removes every prospect of misunderstanding, and would not lead us, if the requirements of the Japanese Treaty became instant, into a military organization or campaign against America.
– By God, I think not !
– That is the point. I read in the newspapers before the Prime Minister departed for London the fear expressed that this Treaty might eventually embroil us with America, and that if Great Britain had to stand by her obligations to Japan we might be called upon to fight America. But we know exactly what Australia’s views on that subject are. The discovery of this_ later Treaty removes the prospect or possibility of any complications like that.
– If there were complications there would be no fighting.
– I quite agree with the honorable gentleman. Australia’s view would be instinctively and instantly registered as it was as to the partnership with the Motherland on the outbreak of war. The consideration of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty, apparently, has been postponed until after the Washington Conference.
– It is not postponed. Unless either party gives twelve months’ notice it will continue to run.
– Even with Article II. in it.
– The declaration of Lord Curzon and Baron Chinda still stands, and the two nations must, if they desire to conform to the letter of the Covenant, consider at an early date an alteration of the form of the Treaty.
– That has been an instruction to the representatives of Great Britain on the Supreme Council, and they are making arrangements to carry it out.
– I take it that if there is an alteration without further Conferences Australia will, at least, be consulted as to the alteration of form.
– What I meant was that the Treaty would be brought into harmony with the League of Nations Covenant. That will not embarrass or affect us in any way.
– If that be so, may I ask the tight honorable gentleman if the Treaty, if so altered, would be placed in the same position as to duration as the present Treaty is in?
– It will be in all other respects in exactly the same position as it is in to-day .-
– That means an automatic renewal, without any objectionable phrases or features.
– It does not mean a. renewal. It means that it will run on subject to the provision of a year’s notice of denunciation, and the question of giving that notice is postponed until after the Washington Disarmament Conference has concluded its deliberations.
– That is from my point of view quite satisfactory, and I think I must modify what I. said .at the start about the Conference being quite resultless, because, if that has been decided, the Anglo-Japanese situation^ as it bears on our present generation, is practically settled with apparently the concurrence of America, because of the existence of the 1914 Treaty.
– Perhaps I have misapprehended the right honorable gentleman. America has not been consulted in this matter at all. What I said was, first, that the form of the Treaty would be amended to comply with the requirements of the Covenant of the League Of Nations, and secondly, that the question of notice of denunciation, if that is to be given,awaits the conclusion of the deliberations of the Washington Disarmament Conference.
– If I apprehend that explanation aright, there must be further discussion to see whether America agrees.
– There must be further discussion.
– As to that no date, no place, and no form are settled, but we shall hear about it later on.
– I apprehend that that is one of the matters that will be dis.cussed between the Powers concerned.
– As to the Washington Disarmament Conference, what I have to say may be reduced to a very few words. I think that the Prime Minister at some stage - when he makes his statement, which I think ought to-be this week-
– I shall make it tomorrow.
– I think that the right honorable gentleman will be wisely advised if he shows us, so far as he may do so, the correspondence between himself and the Imperial Government on this question. If he does not care to make it public by laying it on the table of the House, I think that honorable members, irrespective of party, are sufficiently interested in the matter to endeavour to see exactly where we stand. I think I understand why no invitation was given to the Dominions, and it is because America has not altered her traditional attitude expressed by President Wilson, and re-affirmed by President Harding, that the British Empire is one entity to the other nations of the world. Putting aside arguments in connexion with the repre sentation of the Dominions, British representatives have been invited as America has invited those of other nations, and the fact that the Dominions have not received an invitation should not prevent us being at Washington. I am sure I am right, although I have no advice and have had no consultation, when I say that the almost unanimous view of Australia so far as we are able to interpret it is that a responsible Minister should be at Washington during the holding of that Conference. We cannot “ butt in “ by inviting ourselves, and America has not sent us an invitation; but we can at least say this to Great Britain, “ We think that the Dominions which border on the Pacific should be at your side in Washington when you are talking about this question.” I do not care whether we are going into that Conference to be consulted or not,- but I want the aims and the policies of the Dominions to colour British representation at that Conference. I am sure that if the Prime Minister cares to set aside any question of dignity - if that be a difficulty in his mind - what I suggest can be achieved, and I urge the right honorable gentleman to consider the matter from that point of view.
– What is in the right honorable gentleman’s mind is that we should make such representations as he has spoken of to the British Government?
– Yes. If I were in the right honorable gentleman’s position, I should say, “ The unanimous view of the people and Parliament of Australia is that Australia’s policy should be registered at Washington. As a Dominion, we are not invited to the Conference, but we think you should assemble an Empire delegation to confer together at Washington, and particularly that you should .invite those Dominions whose lands border on the Pacific.” I think that if that were said, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and, possibly, South Africa, would be invited to form a delegation to meet the British delegation at Washington, there to confer together as a family party. What does it matter if the words of Great Britain are spoken through the lips of Mr. Arthur Balfour or Mr. Bonar Law? I mean to say that what I suggest would be much better than not being -at Washington at all. It is better that our views should be indirectly represented if they cannot be put directly.
– It wouldcreate an Australian atmosphere.
– Quite so. The Prime Minister knows well what that means. He was for nearly twelve months in touch with the Peace Conference. He was not always in the Peace Conference, but he found ways of filtering his views into the minds of those who spoke for Great Britain.
– Of . course we had what were, in effect, Cabinet meetings nearly every day, in which we told Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Balfour our views, and our composite views were, after discussion, submitted in the Conference.
– Well, let us have such consultations again. We were not invited to Versailles or Paris any more than we have, been invited to Washington.
– The right honorable gentleman will allow me to suggest that, if he will wait until I make my statement to-morrow, it will be open to him, if it is unsatisfactory, to press that or any view. I hope to make a statement which I am sure will beof interest to honorable members. I entirely agree with the honorable gentleman, but I ask him to let the matter rest at that for the present.
– Very well, if that be the view of the Prime Minister, I do not desire to stress the matter further at present. It has been for the last few weeks in my mind the only question worth thinking about. I say that as one who does not expect that complete military or naval disarmament will follow the Washington Conference.I agree with the Prime Minister that before we can resolve upon any substantial reduction or limitation of armaments we must endeavour to remove the causes for the creation of those armaments. But whether it be one or half-a-dozen Conferences that will lead to this, it is a consummation so devoutly to be, wished that Australia’s views, which are in but one direction, and that ‘is in favour of disarmament, should be heard wherever possible. I would go further, and say, and this is not for the guidance of the right honorable the Prime Minister, but for the information of the Acting Leader of the Opposition, that I am in favour of representatives of all parties going to such a Conference.
– I have urged that.
– They would express completely the views of Australia. There would be no question then of whether the Prime Minister did just the right thing or not, because there would be three men who could’ give expression to views which would be representative of the triangular party position which we find in the Commonwealth Parliament.
I have only one word more to say, and it is that I think that the Acting Leader of the Opposition was scarcely fair in some of his references to the League of Nations. It is true that the Prime Minister has not been very cordial in some of his expressions about the League. He has confessed himself as sceptical about it. But the Acting Leader of the Opposition put me with the Prime Minister as one who has done nothing to help the League, if indeed I had not opposed it. My view on the subject has been uniformly the same. I regard the League of Nations as something to pray for, to hope for, and to work for all we can. But when I saw that America, notwithstanding the important part she played in initiating the League, for political reasons did not join it, I then said that our hopes were frustrated for the time being, but not necessarily for all time! The League cannotflourish and function with power unless America is a member of it. If conditions change in America, and she should decide to join the League, I think that that would go further than anything else to secure peace in this world and justice to the small nations.
– I do not think that America will join it. The people of that country believe that America should be governed by Americans only.
– The honorable member may be right. Let us, however, hope that this implement, which came from the most exalted brains of the world, and had only the altruistic desire to improve and render safer the conditions of mankind regardless of colour or place, will grow into manhood, though it may be going through a very difficult period of babyhood. That is all that I desire to say, and I conclude by expressing the hope ‘ that the feeling of the House will be to endeavour to carry this debate through to the end without the slightest suspicion of party spirit or party criticism.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Blakeley) adjourned.
House adjourned at 9.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 October 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19211005_reps_8_97/>.