9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he can give any information as to when the WheatPools will be finalized?
– Advice has been received from the High Commissi oner’s Office to the effect that the audited Wheat Board Accounts were posted from London on the28th June. The documents will shortly be available here, and the Pools will then be finalized as expeditiously as possible.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Is it a fact that Mr. Lucas, Chairman of the Expropriation Board, and technical adviser to the Commonwealth onmatters appertaining to New Guinea, has resigned?
– No. Mr. Lucas is at present in England on business connected with the Expropriation Board.
Mr. Percy Hunter
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– Yesterday the honor able member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) asked the following questions: -
I promised the information would be obtained, and am now able to furnish the following replies. -
The following papers were presented : -
Shipping Committee (Imperial) - Report on the economic size and speed of vessels trading between the United Kingdom and Australia, and on the subsidies necessary to maintain speeds in excess of the economic speed.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1923, No. 72.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 97.
Subjects listed fob Discussion.
Debate resumed from 30th July (vide page 1801), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the papers be printed.
.- I desire to add a few words to the debate on foreign policy and the other matters to be discussed at the Imperial and Economic Conferences, concerning which a good deal has been said by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), and also by the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes). The matters under review are of paramount importance to Australia and as such demand the careful consideration of every member of this House. I must say that I was extremely disappointed that the Prime Minister in introducing the subject so carefully refrained from announcing any decision or offering even an opinion on the many important questions involved, with the exception perhaps of one or two. The right honorable gentleman’s remarks left honorable members to draw inferences from the very careful language in which they were expressed. I was reminded by what he said of Henry Lawson’s Middleton’s Roustabout. “ Hadn’t any opinion. Hadn’t any ideas “. If it be true that language is given us to conceal our thoughts he made an admirable use of it to effectively conceal whatever ideas he may have with regard to many of the important matters he will discuss at theImperial Conference. I make an exception of the subject of Empire defence. Yet even on this subject the right honorable gentleman appeared not to be too sure, but he was inclined towards the establishment of a resident Minister in London with, if hon orable members so desire, a small secretariat. I do not believe that the people of Australia would tolerate any such system of Imperial defence as has been suggested. Even if the Government occupying the Treasury bench in 1923 entered into an arrangement under which Australia should make contributions of large sums of money to the British Navy, it is very doubtful indeed that any succeeding Government would carry on such an agreement. In view of public opinion, and the jealous regard which Australians have for their country, and their abhorrence of any semblance even of interference in our affairs by Great Britain, I am satisfied that no Government could successfully appeal to the electors on such a scheme. If we contributed to an Empire scheme it would mean that we would be completely at the mercy of Great Britain so far as men, boats, munitions and so on are concerned. I am extremely doubtful whether the traditions and glamour of the British navy would be acceptable to the people of Australia. If a squadron of the British Navy comes to Australia it must be given some power, and ultimately its mission to defend Australia must find expression in this Chamber. If there were to be true cooperation with a squadron of the British Navy in Australian waters, the naval commanders would have the right to advise us, and supported by the Government to ask Parliament to do certain things. Ultimately the influence of the British Government would, through the medium of the British Navy, manifest itself in the Commonwealth Parliament. But that is a minor objection to the scheme. I believe that Australians are equal to the task of defending Australia, and we should not depend upon other people to do the job for us. My leader stated the policy of the party to which I belong - we are quite prepared to accept the responsibility of the defence of Australia; we are quite prepared to adequately defend Australia
– In what way?
– By means of submarines, an air force and the provision of munitions and all equipment necessary for the defence of the Commonwealth. That statement of our policy has been made deliberately. To be handicapped or interfered with by any nation, Great Britain or any other, would be abhorrent to the Australian people; at least that is our summing up of the Australian pyschology. Apparently the Prime Minister has made up his mind that he will advocate an Imperial defence scheme for the whole Empire.
– I said the very opposite.
– To an even greater extent than I suspected the right honorable gentleman has employed the spoken word as a means to conceal his thoughts. The right honorable gentleman said that he would favour a system of Imperial defence. If I have misinterpreted his vague and nebulous language I am sorry; but the leader of this House should declare beyond all possibility of doubt what his policy is in this regard. I quite appreciate his circumstances and the natural diffidence arising therefrom. He is a young man, with little or no political experience. He is very studious, no doubt ; but in practical politics he is almost/ a novice, and one gentleman remarked to me that the Prime Minister on entering the Imperial Conference will be like a youth going into a den of thieves. I do not know that 1 would go so far as to apply that language to the Imperial Conference, but it is certain that he will encounter the mature minds of the British Empire, and, if one may offer him a friendly word of warning, it is to be careful of his steps, for he has a long way to go. Referring to Imperial defence, the Prime Minister said -
If the Empire in these altered circumstances is to continue and maintain that unity which characterized it in the Great War, -and which is essential to its future, it is imperative that there should be closer consultation between Great Britain and the Dominions, and that we should agree upon a common foreign policy and scheme of defence.
If that does not mean that the Prime Minister is willing to agree to an Empire scheme pf defence, what does it mean ? 1 sincerely hope that when he rises to reply be will not employ his gift of language to further conceal his thoughts upon this question. He said also that in order to bring about co-ordination and unit)’ of Empire it is desirable that the Conferences shall be held more frequently. If the unity of the British Empire depends upon closer coordination and consultation by means of Conferences, a resident Minister, or a secretariat, it is impossible of realization. I believe that unity can be main tained without such conferences, Ministers, or secretariats. Up to date the conferences have yielded no benefits, and personally I do not think that any good can come out of them. We, who are so far removed from the centre of world politics, cannot presume to understand the many complex problems which come before the British Government for review and decision. An Australian Minister sent to London to try to understand them would be. overwhelmed. In any case, he could do nothing. He might report to his Government by cable and letter, but if he thought it necessary to return to Australia and place the circumstances of an international problem more fully before the Government and Parliament, by the time he arrived here the situation would have completely changed, and his information would be out of date. Furthermore, Australia cannot afford to be entangled in the diplomatic relations of Great Britain and other nations. We are too far away from the heart of the Empire to be consulted in all these matters, or to accept any responsibility for anything that Great Britain may do. Whilst I am antagonistic to the identification of Australia with British foreign policy, I would take a more favorable view of the proposal if I were satisfied that the h’elm of the British ship of State was controlled wisely and sanely in the interests of the people of Great Britain. But at present it is obvious that Great Britain is unfortunate in her choice of a Government. Her position is much the same as that of Australia. Just as the Government now in office in the Commonwealth is a continuation of the previous Government, so is the present British Government a continuation of the preceding Cabinet which made so many mistakes. In regard to foreign policy, the Prime Minister has said, in effect, that once a definite foreign policy has been laid down after consultation with the Dominions at the more frequent Conferences that, he suggests, Great Britain shall not depart from it without first consulting the Dominions. On the face of it, such a proposal is absurd, and one can hardly believe that the Prime Minister was serious when -he made it. How ridiculous would be the position if, after the Imperial Conference had arrived at a decision in regard to the relations of the
Empire with, say, Russia, and the Prime Minister had returned to Australia, a new situation cropped up which demanded immediate decision; obviously no one in Australia could be in a position to judge whether the policy should be altered or not. If any doubt existed as to whether there should be an alteration of policy, inevitably there would be a refusal to alter it. If the Australian representative refused to grant permission to alter the policy, I can imagine the British Government saying, “ We are sorry, Australia, but this is our job, and we are going on with it.” They would- be quite justified in doing so. To argue that there must be a settled policy for which Australia and the other Dominions will be responsible, is so much bosh; it would be entirely impracticable. Then there is the proposal to have a small secretariat. I like that qualification “ small.” I can quite imagine its growth, with its fledgling ambassadors and its embryo diplo-1 mats, with their secretaries, typists, and other employees. If we had such an establishment in London, the probability is that it would be necesasry to make some provision outside London. But if we had a large staff, confining the whole of its attention to obtaining information and communicating it to the Australian Government, how could- that help us in Australia? It would be a very interesting and fascinating . pastime for the staff te watch the moves that were made by the European diplomats, so far as those moves were allowed to be seen, but nothing- of a practical nature could be expected to result. We have had experience of the workings of secret diplomacy in Australia. We know quite well that in the past the British Government have instructed the Australian Government to keep secret certain -documents. After those documents have been made public the opinion of the majority of honorable members in this House has been that they could have been published immediately on their arrival in Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) referred to the secretariat, to the resident Minister, and to half-a-dozen other matters, usually concluding his remarks with the statement, “ I shall be interested to know what honorable members think in regard to this particular matter.” Doubtless the right honorable gentleman would be interested to- learn our views regarding these matters. We, however, would be far more in terested to learn what. he thinks. Having initiated the debate, the right honorable gentleman might have given a lead to the people of Australia, and stated the conclusions at which he had arrived after careful and mature deliberation. I personally will be very interested to know what the right honorable gentleman thinks of the proposal to have a resident Minister in London. I will be even more interested if he states concretely his attitude towards a scheme of Imperial defence. I feel sure that the House and the country will be glad to have his opinions in regard to these very important questions. On only two subjects has the Prime Minister expressed definite opinions, and on one of those he has contradicted a statement which I have made. They are the scheme of Empire defence contribution and the establishment of the Singapore Base. He has apparently made up his mind that the establishment of a base at Singapore is a good move, and it is evidently his intention to approve of it when he goes overseas. I have nothing to say in opposition to the establishment by Great Britain of a base at Singapore. I know, however, that if Australia approves of ifc, or advocates it, she will be expected to contribute a small portion of the initial cost and the subsequent cost of upkeep. I am not prepared to help in establishing that base or in maintaining it. The defence of Australia, in my opinion, should be carried on in Australia by Australians. It was very interesting to listen to the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) yesterday, in a manner akin to Satan reproving Sin, criticising the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) because of his Imperialism. It was one of the most humorous situations that has developed of late years. The ex-Prime Minister, with his whirlwind Imperialism, with his characteristically grotesque figures of speech, and his wide-flung arms, careered around Australia like a hurricane, and with the aid of thunder and lightning called upon Heaven to witness his zeal for and his love of the great British Empire. When the pupil in a small, weak, futile manner attempted to emulate the tutor, the tutor, in the person of the ex-Prime- Minister, became petulant and, it would appear, a little jealous because of the progress made by the pupil in his Imperialistic jingoism. When the
Prime Minister has been to London, mixed with the people there, returned to Australia, and had a little more criticism directed at him, he will realize that by following his late chief on the road to Imperialism he will not be acceptable to the people of Australia, and he will discreetly drop that role. It is amusing to hear the right honorable member for North Sydney criticising the action of the Government in closing the House during the Prime Minister’s absence in England. I am opposed to the. closing of the House. I realize, however, that the ex-Prime Minister, instead of closing the doors of the House, closed the mouths of the members of his Government and exacted from his supporters and from the members of the Country party the promise that they would not by any act or deed embarrass the Government while he was absent from Australia engaged in the business of Empire building. The Government did not introduce a Bill, they did not pass a resolution, without first cabling their chief at Downing-street - “By your leave, sir, we would like to introduce a Bill to-morrow morning.” The ex-Prime Minister governed this country from Downingstreet, with the concurrence and the aid of his Ministers and supporters. What is the difference between the present Prime Minister closing Parliament and the ex-Prime Minister going to London under such circumstances as he did ? There is absolutely no difference whatever, and there is very little to choose between them in their methods. The Imperial Conference, no doubt, will discuss the question of reparation, the Peace Treaty, and the necessity or otherwise of its revision, and will inevitably be confronted with the crisis in the Ruhr. The “ mad dog “ of Europe was let loose in 1914, and there is very little difference between that “ mad dog “ and the “ mad dog “ of 1923. The position which France occupies to-day and the position which Germany occupied in 1914 are practically the same. Whether Europe, including Great Britain, is to stand by and see something worse than the 1914 crisis precipitated remains to be seen. Great Britain and all the European nations have a very great responsibility, and while I am ready to admit the difficulty in getting information at so great a distance, what information we do get from our different schools of thought leads us to believe that Europe is on the brink of a chasm, and is so chilled with the thought that it is absolutely helpless to help itself. It appears as though the French nation had acted illegally in its interpretation of the reparation provision of the Peace Treaty. It is hard to say whether that is so or not, bub undoubtedly there is a great body of public opinion in Germany, France, and England that France has so acted. However that may be, the fact remains that Europe is on the brink of another war with regard to the Ruhr. What the outcome will be I do not know; but I suggest that a Conference, international in character, and not wholly confined to those nations which signed the Treaty, should be called to discuss the Ruhr crisis. This is not a question of pro-Germany or pro-France; it is a question of pro-civilization. Shall Europe again suffer the slaughter of 1914-18 ?
– Is that not what France is striving to stop ?
– France is striving to stop it, and so is Germany ; indeed, the whole of Europe will tell us that it is striving to stop it. But the trouble is that though there has been this striving for four years, the crisis every day becomes more acute. If, after four years striving to prevent trouble, war, and bloodshed, we are only at the present stage, it does not say much for the value of the striving. It does at least point to the fact, from my point of view at all events, that the methods used to bring about peace in Europe have dismally failed. An attitude of benevolent neutrality is, in my opinion, wrong. Germany has “ gone on strike,” whilst France is determined to get her reparations. It will be acknowledged that once a nation goes “ on strike,” it is impossible to make that nation do what the French nation is demanding of Germany. One is almost led to believe that this is not a question of reparation, but one of annexation. There are large standing armies on the Ruhr, including the coloured mercenaries of France, with arrangements for the comfort of the latter that are a scandal. But the League of Nations stands idly by watching white women intermingling with these black troops. Belgium and Britain also have their armies on the Ruhr, and until comparatively recently, so had America. The fact that the French Government is. compelled to employ coloured mercenaries to do police work in German territory, does not say much, for that Government. Personally, I think that France is out for annexation rather than reparation; at any rate, that is how the position appears to me from what I have read. In Kyne’s work on the revision of the Treaty, and the economic consequences df it, it is stated that in France’s claim £90 per acre is put down as the amount necessary to put the land in order, and the whole works out at £3,700 for each house ruined by the Germans. Kyne is quite frank, I might say brutally frank, in his condemnation of the way in which the damage is estimated. It would appear that the Peace Treaty has failed to the extent that it has not been able to end the crisis.
– Has the honorable member read what is to be said on the other side ? Has he read Tardieu’s work ?
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to make his own speech. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has not many ideas at the present time, and no doubt he will be glad if the honorable member can give him a few from that point of view. The Peace Treaty was based on Germany’s capacity to pay. Germany contended that she could not pay the sum fixed, although it was less than it was thought she could pay. The fact remains that Germany has refused to pay, and a crisis has arisen. Under such circumstances nothing but trouble can come to Germany, to France, to Britain, and the whole of the European nations. Up to date, the attitude of the British Government has been one of weak futility;, it is waiting to ‘ see the blaze going fully before it is prepared to take a hand. They are now busily engaged in writing notes to each other. The only -way in which a solution of the problem may be reached is to summon immediately an international conference of the countries concerned in the Treaty, and also those which are not concerned in it, particularly Russia and America.
International trade has become chaotic. Probably it would be more correct to say that it has simply stopped. I am not so much concerned about the position of the commercial houses of Europe as I am concerned about the unfortunate condition of the workers. Their position has been caused by the blundering and bungling brought about by the mad mili tarism and commercialism of those who are in control of the destinies of Europe. Millions of workers in Europe are starving to-day because of the incapacity of the so-called statesmen of that Continent. In England alone 1,500,000 people are out of work. Practically tlie same condition prevails in Germany, Belgium, and France. If the Imperial Conference could agree on some basis to end the present crisis, it would be by far the most important Conference ever held, or ever likely to be held, so far as one can see. Unless something is done quickly, this crisis will end in the breaking down of our present systems of government. Some people may welcome that, and say, “ God speed the. day. May it come to-morrow. Let the revolution come on.” Personally I do not believe that a form of society based upon violence will be as lasting as a change brought about by evolution. The responsibility for the present deplorable condition rests upon the European Governments. Up to date the only constructive proposals that have been made have come from the Labour party of Great Britain and the Socialists of France and Germany. A comparison of the policies of these three bodies, and also that of the Belgian Socialists, reveals that there is hardly any difference in their views on the Ruhr question. The workers are not divided, but are in practically complete agreement. For three years the British Labour party in the House of Commons has been doing everything possible to solve the extraordinary difficulty that has arisen. So earnest and sincere has that party been that public opinion in England is gradually coming to accept its views on the Ruhr question. In the last divisions taken in the House of Commons on this matter many members of other parties voted with the Labour party.
Last year we had an exhibition of the incompetence of the British Government. We also had an apt illustration of blind faith by a man on the other side of the world in a man on this side of the world. We all know of that extraordinary message from Mr. Lloyd George in which he asked the highly academic question whether, in the event of the British Government sending troops to the Near East, Australia would also send troops there. That question wa3 cabled to all the Dominions, but, so far as we can learn, there was neither parliamentary nor Cabinet consultation before the British Prime Minister sent it out. The Prime Minister of Canada, unlike the then Australian Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes), wisely replied that Parliament must be consulted before he could answer it. The answer sent from New Zealand was as Imperialistic as the greatest Jingo could have desired, or even as our present or late Prime Minister could have wished. Mr. Massey said: “ Rightly or wrongly, we will send troops if you do.” The Prime Minister of Australia, like the Prime Minister of Great Britain, did not consult his colleagues before despatching his reply. He immediately pledged millions of money, and the life and blood of Australia. We had to depend upon the sagacity and wisdom of one man to determine such a question. Even the present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) characterized the affair as most unfortunate, but while he said that, he also said that the attitude taken up by his late colleague was quite proper. He added that probably the promptness of the answer averted war. I am at a loss to understand the process of reasoning adopted by the Prime Minister. He must have performed some strange mental gymnastics before he arrived at his decision. Does he forget that Canada gave a completely different answer ? If it is logical to say that our answer averted war, would it not be just as logical to say that Canada’s answer should have caused war because there was no unity in the British Empire? It was a ridiculous proposition to set up. The Canadian Prime Minister made a declaration which I commend to the present and future Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth. In all humility, I say that our Prime Minister will do well, when he goes to the Imperial Conference, to bear in mind the following words of Mr. W. L. Mackenzie, the Prime Minister of Canada, in connexion with this particular matter : -
There must be a full recognition of the supremacy of Parliament, particularly with regard to matters which may involve participation in overseas wars. It is for Parliament to decide whether it should participate in wars in other parts of the world, and it is not right for any individual, or any group of individuals, to take any step which might limit .the powers of Parliament in a matter which is of such great concern to the people of our country.
If the ex-Prime Minister had a proper conception of his responsibilities, he would never have done what he did. It was only just a fluke that he did not thrust Australia into participation in a war in the Near East, which would have been a war between two Allies fighting by proxy - Britain, supporting Greece with money and munitions, and France subsidizing and supporting Turkey with munitions. The ex-Prime Minister pledged Australia to go into that conflict. I say, now, to the present Prime Minister, that if, when he attends the Imperial Conference, he will bear in mind and take heed of the words I have quoted from Premier Mackenzie, of Canada, he will not go far wrong. The opinions held by the British Labour party are far stronger than those I have enunciated here to-day. As one may not be in a position to judge just what is going on in Great Britain, he must go to the sources from which he considers he will obtain correct information, and I propose to quote Mr. Ben Tillett, a Labour member of the British House of Commons, in an address to the Transport Workers’ Union Conference recently. He said -
We are on the verge of war. After visiting the Ruhr, I. am convinced that, unless the French evacuate Germany in a few weeks, it would be .better for the world if Germany had won the war.
That is a very strong statement by a responsible member of the British Labour party, and a man who is honoured, not only by the party to which he belongs, but by the people of Great Britain generally. He went’ on to say -
Our statesmen are now trying to burke the issue. We have got one of the strongest possible men as Prime Minister; but, however strong he may be, unless be is backed by the working, classes to resist (War, he will be dragged in by diplomacy. If we are to be saved from war, we must save both Germany and France. Nothing but war, or the threat of war, will take France out of Germany. The workers must realize their responsibility, and they must call on the French and German workers to join them and prevent war.
Once again the workers are asked to save Europe from war. They failed to do so in 1914; but, since that time, they have learned a very bitter lesson indeed. The people who precipitated war in 1914 are no longer strutting the stage of European politics. They have lost either their crowns, their heads, or their jobs. Further participation in war will see quite a lot more crowns, heads, and statesmen withdrawn from the political arena, and that is as it should be.
In conclusion, I believe that there should be no contribution by Australia to’ any scheme of Empire defence, and that this country should not be committed to any war overseas without consultation with the people. I am of opinion that the Imperial Conference should immediately call an international conference, to include nations outside the Verseilles Treaty, to deal with the reparations question and the Ruhr crisis, and to deal especially with the extension of the Washington Treaty on disarmament, and so far as it is possible to endeavour to do away with secret diplomacy. I believe that the extension of the Washington Disarmament Treaty, the bringing of the diplomatic business into the open, and an international conference to deal . with reparations would entirely eliminate the present possibility of war in Europe. None of us, desires war, but if there is a war we shall be inevitably drawn into it. The present absolute dislocation of trade and commerce, and the attendant starvation, misery, poverty, and want, and degradation of millions of workers are features of which we must take cognisance. If the Imperial Conference achieves all or any of the objects I have set down it will have served its purpose, and will have done noble work.
.- The discussion upon which the House is now engaged differs very greatly from those usually conducted in this chamber, because it cannot lead to a conclusion or resolution setting out a definite line of policy. That must necessarily be so, because the Prime Minister is going as a representative of this Parliament and people into a conference. One cannot go into a conference with absolutely fixed and immovable ideas, if it is to be a conference in spirit as well as in name. It is, however, for this reason expedient that the Prime Minister should hear expressions of opinion from members of this House on as many aspects as possible of the important questions with which he will have to deal. It may not be that these opinions will always coincide with his own, or that they will represent the views even of a majority of the people, but they should have some influence in determining his action and helping him to come to decisions which, having been arrived at in the Conference and brought back to us in Australia, will meet with the general approval of the people at large. A very tempting field of discussion lies open before us. There are intensely important and interesting subjects included in the agenda papers of the Imperial and Economic Conferences. There is no one who takes a deep interest in the affairs of the world but will find in some of these topics questions with which he would like to deal. However, to deal with the whole of the subjects listed would weary the House, and result only in ineffectiveness, so I do not: propose to roam at large over the agend’a papers, or to deal particularly with those subjects which have engaged the attention of those who have already taken part in the debate. The questions of foreign relations and defence have’ been dealt with by most of the speakers from different points of view, and on those questions J wish only to say that with the general principle which the Prime Minister has enunciated I entirely agree. The methods by which that principle is to, be carried out may be open to some modification, and I presume, that the very object of the Conference is to arrive at a method adequate for all circumstances and agreeable to all parties concerned.
Among the topics on the agenda papers is one which, to my mind, is of very great importance, and it is that which deals with trade relations. It has hardly been touched upon so far in the debate, yet, believing as I do that underneath all questions of foreign relations and all questions of defence we reach a bed-rock of economic questions, I regard this as one of the most important matters to which the House can address itself. I agree entirely with what the Prime Minister said as to the desirability of developing and strengthening Empire trade, but I regret to say * that I do not agree with the right honorable gentleman in the method he proposes to bring that about.
– Because the honorable member is a Free Trader.
– To say that because a man’s opinions may lie in the direction of Free Trade, he is therefore not to be listened to, is, I submit, neither fair nor wise. It may be that we have heard too much of Protection, jus* as honorable members opposite would allege that we have heard too much about war. Perhaps it is as well that we should have other voices sounding in our ears, ana listen to other counsels which may lead us to safety. To properly understand the question of Empire reciprocal trade, we must look back a little to the efforts which have been made to bring it about. My principal objection to the proposal of the Prime Minister with regard to the establishment of what we call Imperial preference is that it has been tried, and it has failed.
– That is no reason why it should not be tried again.
– If we look into the matter and try to find out why it has failed we may perhaps arrive at a better understanding of the whole question. I want to put facts before honorable members, not in any self-righteous or dictatorial spirit, but because I believe that honorable members should give attention to them. If the facts are not brought before them their judgment on this important matter will not be full, rounded and complete. The first step towards the establishment of Imperial reciprocal trade was the Conference convened at Ottawa by the Canadian Government in 1894. It was attended by delegates from the Cape Colony, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and New Zealand. Tasmania and Western Australia were not represented, but one of the Victorian delegates was given power to vote for Tasmania. That Conference was convened because of the acute trade depression throughout the world, which was affecting Canada and Australia especially, and it was hoped to promote trade between the different parts of the Empire, and at the same time discuss Empire cable services. When the delegates assembled they were confronted, to their surprise, by a request to discuss Imperial preference. They had not been warned that that item was on the agenda, and they had not been instructed upon it by their respective Governments. The result of a close division was the approval of a motion in favour of Imperial preferential trade, but that was possibly due to the peculiar arrangements for voting. Tasmania’s vote was in the hands of a Victorian representative, although Tas mania at that time was decidedly Free Trade in sentiment, whilst Western Australia, whose interests were probably similar to those of Tasmania, was not represented at all. It is highly probable that, had the full nature of the Conference been understood before the delegates departed for Ottawa, the resolution in favour of preference would not have been carried. Canada had inaugurated a Protective fiscal policy in 1879, but the growing revulsion against it culminated in 1893 in a huge Free Trade Convention led by Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The Canadian election in 1896 resulted in the rejection of the Government which had been responsible for the preferential, trade resolution at the Conference, and a Government headed by Sir Wilfrid Laurier came into power. In 1897 the Laurier Government introduced a new Tariff, which was clearly a great betrayal of the people, inasmuch as 70 per cent, of the old duties were reimposed, and duties were removed from the remaining items representing goods which came only from Great Britain. Thus a one-sided preference was given to Great Britain. Strangely enough, that Tariff was hailed at the time as a step towards Free Trade, but as one writer said, “ A more astute stroke of party politics has never been devised. It meant, as is now apparent, the betrayal of the Free Trade policy of Canada.” The full nature of the move was not revealed until later, end even when Sir Wilfrid Laurier went to London in 1897 he was greeted by the Free Trade leaders as one of the great men in their movement. Of course when they realized what he had actually done their opinions changed. The endeavour is always made to convey to the people at large an impression that preference is a reduction of duties, and is therefore a step towards Free Trade. Truly, in this matter, the hand was the hand of Esau, but the voice was the voice of Jacob. Only time revealed the deception which had been practised; it was then found that Canada was committed to a Protectionist policy in opposition to the wishes of the people who had elected the Government that had introduced the new Tariff. What was the outcome of the Ottawa Conference? Were Canada and Australia sincere in their professed desire for Imperial trade preference? They were the two brightest jewels in the Imperial crown. What evidence did they give that they were prepared to translate their faith into works! The Prime Minister said last week that preference had never been given a proper trial, because it had never been supported by the pressure of circumstances. But the Ottawa Conference was held in circumstances that were produced by economic pressure, and if there be any virtue in the principle of preference, special reasons for its adoption existed then. From 1894 to 1901 nothing was done by the Australian colonies to make a reciprocal trade agreement with Canada. When in 1901 the colonies became joined in the Commonwealth the negotiations were continued, and still no treaty was made. Twenty-two years after the formation of the Commonwealth, and nearly thirty years after the Ottawa Conference, we are still without a preferential trade treaty with Canada. There has been much talk, there have been rivers of ink, statesmen representing the different Dominions have met and discussed the matter, scores of despatches have passed to and fro, but no reciprocal treaty with Canada has eventuated. It is very pertinent to consider why such a treaty is so difficult of accomplishment. The answer is disclosed by tracing this proposal throughout its history. At the Colonial Conference in 1902, Mr. Chamberlain, who was then beginning to formulate his ideas of tariff reform, proposed a policy of trade preference within the Empire. His proposal was rejected by the representatives of the oversea Dominions; but they agreed that the colonies should give preference to the United Kingdom “ so far as their circumstances permit.” The debates show that that qualification was inserted because it committed the colonies to nothing. The colonial delegates, however, urged that the United Kingdom should grant preference to the products of the colonies, and that recommendation was made without any qualification or promise of reciprocity. At the Colonial Conference of 1907 the resolutions of the 1902 Conference were confirmed. Mr. Deakin was the representative of the Commonwealth in 1907, and he spoke very eloquently on the subject of Imperial trade preference. What was the general result ? Preferential trade was considered acceptable only in so far as it did not interfere with the policy of Protection. It is very interesting to note what was done by the Commonwealth Government after Mr. Deakin’s return to Australia. In that same year, 1907, the Australian Tariff was amended, the duties were increased, and a preference was granted to Great Britain only. Of the hundreds of items in the schedule there was not one in respect of which the duty on goods of British origin was reduced. There was an all-round increase of duties, and although they were increased to a greater extent against other countries, generally speaking, ‘when the preference to Great Britain was deducted, the new duties upon British goods were higher than were the old duties without preference, so that the net result was to increase the Tariff wall against British trade. Little wonder that the London Times became very indignant, and stated that “ Mr. Deakin’s Imperial preference was in many cases almost derisory.” One is tempted to wonder whether Mr. Deakin spoke at the Colonial Conference in London with his tongue in his cheek, because a most extraordinary thing happened in connexion with the introduction of the new Tariff. Notwithstanding the enthusiasm of the Commonwealth Government for the granting of preference to the United Kingdom, the Tariff was completed, and issued to the Customs officials throughout the Commonwealth, before the discovery was made, at the last minute that the preferential Tariff had been forgotten. Thereupon telegrams were despatched throughout Australia instructing that preference should be given to certain British goods by increasing the duties against the goods from other countries. Thus the preference cry was uses only for the purpose of increasing the Tariff barrier. That incident showed what little sincerity there was in the proposal to give preference to British goods. Mr. Fisher, the Prime Minister of Australia in 1910, said -
No reciprocal treaty would be acceptable to Australia that did not give ample protection. He was certain that Canada would not agree to reciprocity of any kind that didnot conserve completely the interests of Canada, and the attitude of Australia would be the same. That put the matter in a nutshell.
Sir William Lyne said, in 1911 ;
I do not think it is possible to secure reciprocity with Canada for some years to come. The Canadians produce little that we really require, and we cannot afford to allow them to compete with our local manufacturers.
In 1915, a conference of the Chambers of Commerce of - Australia was held at Hobart, and Empire reciprocal trade was discussed. The conference recommended to the Federal Government the resumption of negotiations with Canada and New Zealand for the establishment of preferential trade with - note this qualification - “ due regard to the protection of the individual States.” There is no need to multiply these instances. The same story runs throughout the discussion of preferential trade. Always the attitude of statesmen has been that if preference conflicts with Protection, preference must give way. That explains why to-day there is no treaty between Canada and Australia. I suggest that Australia is only making a pretence of reciprocity. “We are playing the game on the principle of “ heads I win, tails you lose.” The talk about Empire service in this matter is, so far as the Protectionists are concerned, merely lip service. They are not animated by any spirit of Empire service ; they are concerned only with considerations of personal gain. That is the reason why for years none of the States which took part in the Ottawa Conference effected treaties among themselves. I know perfectly well that one or two almost comical attempts were made to establish reciprocal treaties. I am quite justified in saying, however, that that which took place was nothing short of ridiculous, and disclosed how absolutely insincere the whole business was. It is true that reciprocal treaties were established between Australia and South Africa in 1906, and between Australia and New Zealand in 1922. The reason we were willing to establish those treaties was that those countries bought more from us than we did from them, and we gained whatever advantage was to be gained from reciprocity. There is already an indication that the South African people are a little restive under this condition of affairs. They recognise that they have been given the worse side of the bargain. That feeling has been accentuated by the treatment of the recent importation of maize from South Africa; and I think it is more than likely that the South African treaty will not very long endure. The New Zealand treaty was established only last year, and has not had time to show its real character. Unquestionably, however, the same result will be manifested there. To contend that the people of this country are clamouring, as with one voice, for preference, is one of the oddest delusions to which a responsible man could give utterance. The people of this country do not understand what is involved in preference. They have not studied the question. They have had catch-words rammed down their throats by the press and by public speakers, and though sincerely believing preference to be a good thing, they do not understand its real nature.
– Does not the honorable member admit that the Colonial Office in England is seized of the true facts of the position?
– I do not admit anything of the sort. It is very instructive to analyze the sources from which the statements are coming in Great Britain. One body calls itself “ The Tariff Commission.” One would think, from the name, that it is a body publicly established by the Government of Great Britain to study and report on Tariff questions. It is nothing of the kind. This so-called Tariff Commission is a self-styled and self -constituted body, which represents the interests of the old Tariff Reform League in Great Britain, but has no official standing, and no official authority. It is true that there are Ministers in England who talk in this way, but there is no great body of British opinion holding similar views. It is represented from this end that we are chagrined at the results accruing from our noble efforts to maintain the solidarity of the Empire. Our efforts in that direction have consisted of a steady refusal to lower our duties against the Empire. Figures have been quoted regarding the amount of preference granted by us to Great Britain and by Great Britain to us. It has been stated that the preference granted by Australia to Great Britain amounts to £8,750,000, while the preference granted by the United Kingdom to Australia amounts to only £75,000.
– I did not know that they gave us any preference. They claim to be a Free Trade country, and say that they do not require preference. ‘
– They do give us preference. There is not an item on the British Tariff on which preference is not given.
– To whom?
– It may be given to anybody with whom they enter into commercial treaties. It is available to the Empire. These figures regarding the relative volume of preference are quite correct. I ask honorable members, however, to follow me in a v short analysis of the figures relating to trade. The total trade from the United Kingdom- to Australia amounts to £76,800,000. If we deduct from that the foodstuffs, &c, which would hardly be liable to the imposition of preferential duties, we have a net importation of £72,000,000. If I remember rightly, that is the figure which was quoted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). The trade from Australia to the United Kingdom totals” £66,500,000, of which foodstuffs represent £36,700,000, and raw materials for manufactures £28,000,000, leaving a balance of a little over £1,000,000, representing goods which could be subject to preferential treatment. If a preference of £8,750,000 is given on the total British trade of £72,000,000, the proportional amount given to Australia on a little over’ £1,000,000 would be about £120,000. We already have a preference of £75,000, and there does not appear to be a very large margin for increased preference. The only, way in which increased preference could be given would obviously be by taxing the £65,500,000 worth of food and raw materials which go from Australia to Great Britain.
– Those goods enter Great Britain free, do they not ?
– Tes. If further preference is to be given by Great Britain it can be done only by the imposition of a duty on that £65,500,000 worth of goods. If preference were given, and no duty was imposed on our goods, it would be necessary to impose a duty on foodstuffs from other nations. It is not likely that the wise heads in Great Britain will be cajoled into adopting such a suicidal policy. It is to be regretted that the impression should be given that the people of Australia are pressing upon the Mother Country what appears to me, at any rate, to be a selfish and short-sighted method of avoiding the results of our own policy. Trade cannot be established under conditions which confer an advantage on one side only. We apparently want a preference which gives us an advantage without any corresponding advantage accruing to the Mother Country; we want an advantage which can be gained only by taxing the food and raw materials which go towards the building up of the manufacturing industries of Great Britain. If we- think that we are going to persuade the wise and experienced politicians of Great Britain. to do any such thing, I venture to suggest that we are indulging in “the pastime which, in my youth, was described as “teaching your grandmother to suck eggs.” I am particularly surprised at the attitude of the Labour party in supporting any such policy. Fortunately the position is thoroughly recognised by the Labour party in Great Britain, and it may be relied upon to oppose the proposals. I should like to read two resolutions which I think are of very great importance. One resolution was carried at the Bradford Conference of the Labour party in 1904, by 956,000 votes to 26,000 votes. It declared that -
Protection lias not benefited the workman in any part of the world, and that it will do nothing in England to relieve the unemployed, improve wages, or return the people to the land; but ‘that, on the other hand, it will enable the landlord classes to ‘exact a heavier toll than ever from the labour of the nation, and encourage the growth of trusts and other forms of -monopoly in private hands.
– Protection built up America. 1
– It did not. Nothing is - more fallacious than the argument which is commonly used that protection built up America. America was built up by her exceptional internal conditions. Although Protectionist in one direction, she was absolutely Free Trade in another. That was exemplified by the fact that in no less than ten successive years America imported 1,000,000 people per annum, a total of 10,000,000 people in the ten years. That had a more profound effect upon the economic development of America than the establishment of a Protective policy. The Labour Conference which was held at Edinburgh in June, 1922, passed this - resolution -
This Labour Conference is of opinion that Free Trade between nations is essential for the prosperity and peace of the world, and any departure from the principles of Free Trade would be detrimental to the best interests of the working classes! This Conference, therefore, urges the Parliamentary Labour party to oppose any system of preferential or Protective duties, and to support any Bill repealing the Safeguarding of Industries Act, or any other legislation of a Protective character.
The reason for the superficial adherence of certain people to this principle of preferential trade is that they do not understand the question, and that the appeal to them is based upon the desirability of being loyal to the Empire. To my mind, that is one of the most mischievous and insidious arguments which could be used. We have often heard that the devil is a good hand at quoting Holy Writ. This is an illustration of that assumption. In Australia we hear repeatedly the cry that we must do this in order to strengthen the Empire; while in England the counter-cry is used that the Dominions must be treated better than foreigners. So the attempt is made to draw a picture showing that without this preferential trade we would be false to our loyalty and to our ideals in relation to the Empire. Such a statement is well calculated to make a strong appeal to the majority of the people, who have not been able to study the question for themselves. The people are quick to respond when it is made to appear that they are being asked to* consolidate the advantages gained from the recent war. A call is being made upon that loyalty which sanctified their sacrifices in that great struggle. That is not a fair appeal to make; I would be almost justified in - saying to the people, “ Be suspicious of this alleged Imperial doctrine; you may, instead of strengthening the Empire, be actually imperilling it; to satisfy the commercial interests of certain sections, you are running the risk of destroying those very ideals for which you have poured out your blood and treasure.” These are severe words, and I use them with a due sense of gravity and responsibility. I sincerely and honestly’ believe them to be true, and therefore I must try to justify them.
I have said that we first heard of preference in 1894. That was only in connexion with Australia itself, but the idea of preference is as old as human history itself. It has been applied in all ages and by every nation which has tried to get special advantages for itself. Great
Britain practised it for a long time, and it was at the bottom of all the great trade wars of the 17th and 18th centuries, when England was muddling her way along towards a sound and sane method of colonial policy, and learning by experience that great wisdom which has enabled her to build’ up the most wonderful imperial State in the world. Bub she made mistakes, and nearly all through attempting to apply the principle of preferential trade. It was through this that she almost lost India, and through it that she quite lost America. She was always mixed up during those- two centuries in intrigues and quarrels based on commerce. The introduction of the more liberal policy of Free Trade into Great Britain eighty years ago made a wonderful change. From then on England based all her interests and international relations on the policy of the “ open door.” The great expansion of the Victorian era was based on that policy. The idea then was equality of opportunity, the “ open door,” and free trading. It is perfectly true that that policy brought Britain great wealth, but it is also true that it enriched those with whom Britain dealt. That very wealth was a proof of confidence, and increased trust given to Great Britain by the other nations of the world.
– Like the opium trade in China !
– I know that England made blunders and committed sins. Has any nation or man done otherwise! Can any individual’ claim to be free of fault ? Of course, England has made mistakes! Are we going to place the opium trade of China against the glorious records of England in establishing liberty on earth? England has profited by her mistakes. It is increased trade and increased confidence and trust that has made Great Britain the great market exchange, and the centre of commerce of the world. A self-contained Empire would reverse all that Britain has gained in confidence and good -will during the past 100 years. The Empire has been built on that trust and good-will, and in spite of all her faults, and all the superficial criticisms levelled at her from time to time, Britain to-day is the most trusted and respected nation on the face of the earth. Let me quote the sayings of two men, who can speak with more authority than I. They speak from different points of view. The first is John Burns, the great Labour leader in England. He said -
The day on which Empire means a thing of Tariffs, and trafficking in bribes, subsidies,and doles, a mutualty destructive arrangement then begins.
Then a South African politician, Mr. Fremantle, used a very striking and expressive phrase -
Preference required them to show their love for the Empire by blowing its brains out.
I should like to say a few further words about the idea of a self-contained and self-sufficing Empire. It is quite true, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) said, that we are the second-best customer of Great Britain. I submit, however, that that does not” adequately represent the whole position. Although we may be the second largest individual customer, where does Great Britain get most of her goods? In approximate figures, Great Britain imports 80 per cent, from foreign countries, and only 20 per cent, from British Possessions, while 63 per cent, of her exportsare to foreign countries, and only 37 per cent, to British.
– What year are those figures for?
– I must apologize. I had intended putting the year opposite the figures, but omitted to do so. The Colonies at present can, supply only about one-quarter of Britain’s food requirements, and about one-third of her raw material. Can an attempt be made to divert that great foreign trade from its present natural channels into Empire channels without raising complaints, grievances, and misunderstandings, which will be a fruitful source of trouble with other nations with which Great Britain ii dealing ? . Will it not raise questions which may threaten even the stability of the Empire? I was very much struck with the following remarks made by Sir Robert Gibson, president of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures: -
If Australia set up prohibitive Tariff walls which prevented international trading, it would spell disaster.
If we want to see where this will lead us, with its selfish indifference to world duties and responsibilities, look to. America and to France, and read the history of the Peace Treaty. Are we going to trade only with the Home Country, and disregard all the complicated commercial interests which have been built up between us and other countries? If so, we ought to have regard to what has happened to other nations of the earth. The pages of history, after all, ought to be the text-book of the statesman, and we can there read the evil results of such a foolish policy. Some mention has been made of the fact that England has been already made somewhat protective. But that measure of Protection was introduced as a necessity of the war, and only to raise revenue; and it is recognised that it is doing the Homeland much harm. Personally,I believe that that small measure of Protection will not long survive; indeed, in some quarters it is regarded as the Brutus’ stab administered to Britain by Mr. Lloyd George. On this matter I desire to particularly address the Labour party, which claims to be the greatest organization working for international peace. I can readily understand how such an international organization can be used as a force to that end. I cannot but admire the party that pursues such an ideal; but I ask the members of the party whether they have realized how much our economic policy will interfere’ with its realization.
– The honorable member’s admiration for the Labour party does not go very far !
Mr.MANN. - That is for me to say, and not for the honorable member. I notice that the honorable member immediately begins to squirm when I suggest that his practice is not according to his theory. An international organization for peace, such as the Labour party of Australia talks of, cannot succeed so long as it ignores the importance of the economic question. The Labour parties of England, Germany, France, Belgium, and Austria are all strongly Free Trade. How is the Australian Labour party to co-operate with the worthy object of stopping war, if it continues the most fruitful sources of war ? I could not help listening with admiration to the ideals of the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Charlton) when, dealing with defence matters, he said that we ought to treat other nations of the earth as “ brothers and sisters.” That is a very lofty ideal, and I am not one who laughs at such ideals, simply because they may seem to be “ over our heads.” It is only by trying to reach a lofty ideal - by “ bitching our waggon to a star “ - that we can get anywhere. -But what is the use of talking about treating other nations as “ brothers and sisters,” so long as economically we decline” to have anything to do with them. When we talk of disarmament there must be economic disarmament. It is of no use our imposing duties and entering into treaties which have the effect of shutting out the goods and labour of other nations, and treating the people of those nations as inferior to ourselves. It is thus we create all those elements of discord and disagreement which eventually lead to war. Commercial selfishness and isolation have been the most fruitful sources of war. They have created resentment and retaliation, and underneath the surface were the most potent of influences behind the last great war. Professor Gide, of the French Institute of Laws, writes these words in the Economist -
All statesmen hope for the advent of the League of Nations, but very few of them seem to realize that it will be impossible if a narrow Protectionism insists on maintaining watertight compartments in commercial relations, and keeping up perpetual subjects of conflict arising out of the selfishness of the various States.
It is these economic questions which are behind all the trouble of to-day, and which were, behind the trouble of 1914. I agree to some extent with the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) when he says that it was economic questions which prevented as good a peace as we could have wished. It was racial hatred and personal, selfish interests which prevented the carrying out of some fine ideals when attempts were made to realize in 1914.
– The spirit of hate !
– And where is that spirit manifested more than in the economic world? I agree that that spirit of hate is as much manifested by economic attacks on other nations as by the building up of armies, inasmuch as it creates the causes of war.
– We disagree about that.
– Of course we disagree. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition remarked the other day that a man never agrees with an analogy which is against him. We say we wish to find markets in the East for ( our goods. How do we suppose those markets will be found if we create an Imperial preference ? Surely the opposite must result if such a preference is created. Honorable members will understand this simple proposition: that if we sell our goods to Japan we are not really paid for those goods direct from Japan. The goods are paid for from London. London is the great exchange mart. Japan pays us for our goods by selling goods to London. Commerce is a complicated system of interchanging goods between one country and another. The majority of our importations are paid for from London.
– It is a matter of credit.
– It is the interchange of goods. How can we expect to be paid for goods we send to Japan if we have granted a preferential Tariff to Great Britain which excludes Japanese ‘ goods from the markets of England ?
– We do not do that.
– We do. That will be the effect of confining our trade to the Empire. We speak sometimes with pride of Australia having been born into nationhood. Australia has been so born, and has gained a great status. I feel that while we are proud of our status we do not accept our responsibilities. We think more of our privileges than we do of our responsibilities. It should be remembered that, having become a member of the family of nations, we must accept the responsibilities of such a relationship. We should not say, “ We are independent. We will go on our own. We will fight for our own interests, and pursue our own course.” An individual who is a member of a family cannot take that course, nor can we as a member of the family of nations. Let me illustrate my point. A lad grows up from adolescence to manhood, and goes out into the world with a desire to pursue his own course. He thinks he knows more than his father, and that it is a fine thing to be indepen-dent, and free to act upon his own judgment. His father may desire to advise him, but the young man is wilful and wayward. If the father is a wise man he will say, “Well, he must learn for himself. That is the only way in which he can find his feet and develop his character.” That seems to me to be the position of Australia. We must learn to find our feet. Although the Mother Country . is much wiser than we are on many matters, and probably regrets sometimes the course that we -take, she says to us,’ in effect, “ You must go your own way and learn from your own experience.” It is a case of “Dree his ain weird.” Because Britain adopts such a course, surely we have no right to be disrespectful to her. Let us look at the case of the young man again. Supposing that, in addition to being wilful and wayward, he turned round and tried to advise his father. I think that would amount to something very close to impertinence. It would be so on the part of Australia if she attempted to advise the Mother Land. The fact is that the producing power of our world Empire is so colossal that nothing less than world’s markets will suffice. Wo should not tie ourselves down and restrict ourselves to narrow channels. If we do that, we shall hamper our own growth; arid also the growth of the Empire. Preference, as some one has well said, is a loaded gun, and the gun is none the less loaded because the fact appears to be little known. The British people have not succumbed to the lure of preference, and that, I believe, is a tribute to the soundness of their political instincts. The only way for us to strengthen the Empire’s trade, and for us to take up a strong and profitable place among the nations without incurring danger, is by recognising the principles which make for an unhampered interchange of commerce between nation and nation. It is no use for us to talk about preference when every step “we have taken in granting preference ‘ has meant the raising of pre-existing duties. We must lower the panels of the fence which separates us from other nations. We must recognise that our duty among the peoples of the world is one of service. Mutual peace and prosperity will be gained only by a mutual supplying of each other’s needs. Trade has been well said to be the life-blood of the nation. If you ligature a part of the body, so that the flow of blood to that portion is stopped, it will become gangrened and die. When we try to block and hamper trade, and prevent the introduction of goods from other countries by systems of preference or Protection - which, by our method of interpretation, mean the same thing - it is no exaggeration to say that we might as well send our gunboats out to sink the ships that are bringing the goods from foreign countries to our shores. To do that would be a distinct act of war. The imposition of a Tariff, admittedly for the purpose of preventing the introduction to this country of goods from a foreign country, is, in my opinion, no less an act of war, although it is nibre covert and not so easily recognised.
.- I was very glad to hear the useful contribution to the debate just mad© by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), for the reason that I had come to the conclusion that the silence of honorable gentlemen opposite indicated that they had nothing to say wheal asked why sentence should not b© passed upon them. I must conclude that this is so with respect to the great majority of honorable members on the Ministerial side. While the speech of the honorable member for Perth on Imperial trade was interesting, I cannot go so far as to say I agree with him; but I do not propose to follow him in discussing that aspect pf the business before us. I propose to take advantage of this motion to make a few observations by way of criticism upon the policy outlined in the speeches of the leaders of the Ministerial side of the House. The motion before us is, “ That the agenda-paper for the Imperial Conference be printed.” On that motion, I take it that we are free to traverse, within certain limits, every one of the matters of importance with which the Conference has to deal. While I am free to do that, I do not propose fully to exercise my freedom. In order to gain a true perspective of the subordinate position in which the Imperial Conference places this Parliament, and incidentally this country, in so far as this country is affected by the views of the present Government, it is perhaps wise to make a brief survey of our recent political history. This House met, after the elections of December last, on the 8th March. It adjourned on the 15th March, after herculean efforts on the part of the Government extending over eight working days. We. gathered* from the Prime Minister that the adjournment was necessary because the Government had no policy. I am quite prepared to believe him. A programme might have been expected, because the Government of which the present Prime Minister was a member made a colourable pretence of presenting a programme to the electors before the last elections. That appears to have been a delusion, however. Really there was no programme. No doubt, the situation was influenced by the fact that the political pole-axe fell so heavily upon the Nationalist party at the elections, and that they found it necessary to send the ship of State into dry dock for repairs to be effected, and to equip it with a new programme. After three months of profound deliberation, the Government prepared a policy with which it was so well satisfied, and which it regarded with such complaisance, that we were assured, when the House met on the 14th June, that it could be debated and decided in the space of ten weeks. The great work goes on. The truth is, however, that the venue of Australia’s jurisdiction, to adopt a legal phrase, has been shifted from Australia to England, and the personnel of the deliberative assembly has also been changed. That assembly is no longer to be composed of the chosen representatives of the Australian people, but it, is to be composed of certain distinguished, but, to me> largely unknown, members of the British community abroad. To this condition of affairs we have become accustomed, if not altogether resigned. The Prime Minister, in his speech upon this motion, said nicely the things which we have heard frequently, and I venture to say that if comparisons were not odious, and I were permitted to make a comparison between the Prime Minister and his more or less lamented predecessor, I should be inclined to say that they afford a very pretty contrast as a pair of pleasing platitudinarians. Amongst the silly conceits which have been ventilated in the course of this debate up to the present time, is the idea that Australia has achieved in some mysterious way an enlarged and improved status. She is now, so Ave are told, a nation amongst nations. She is now, so we have been informed, over and over again, a partner in the Commonwealth of free nations of the British Empire, and she is, so we are led to’ believe!, something which, until recent times, she was not. The real truth of the matter is that when the present right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. ~W. M. Hughes) went abroad, he shrieked himself into dizzy prominence amongst some exalted persons on the other side of the world. Then, as one might be driven to make a choice between hanging an angry cat and throwing it a bone, the right honorable gentleman was politely invited to set his seal and signature to certain legal documents believed to be in some way at least remotely associated with world peace. Having so affixed his name and seal, speaking metaphorically, he rose to the top of the highest steeple, and again shrieked that he had won for Australia a new and improved status. He said so himself, and one would suppose that he ought to know, because we gathered from the speech which he made yesterday that he knows all things. Strange to say, Australia’s position, both on the map and in her international relations, remains, notwithstanding the right honorable member for North Sydney, quite unchanged. The truth is, of course, that Australia has all these powers and this status, or at least she is capable of having them. The truth, is that inherent in the Australian Commonwealth is the capacity to be a nation, and there is none to deny her that right. But there should be something more in connexion with this matter than the broad after-dinner expansiveness of these gentlemen opposite, who are constantly tickling our ears with phrases that they have shown no attempt to translate into facts. Even Mr. Bonar Law, the late “Prime Minister of England, went so far as to declare that not only was Australia in the true sense a self-governing Dominion, but that if at any time she wished to end the Imperial relationship, which she now has with Great ‘ Britain, there was nobody in Great Britain who would seriously dare to say her nay. That is really the sane view of the British statesmen themselves in regard to Australia’s position. There is no limit therefore to Australia’s right of self-government. Her position is not defined by any written instrument, but nobody would for a moment presume to advocate a veto in England of any act of legislation passed by this Parliament concerning the Australian people. Of course, while we ourselves declare that we are part of the
Empire; that the head of the Empire is in Great Britain; and that we are one nation, we cannot expect our sister nations in other parts of the world to regard us as being an independent nation, as we do not declare so much for ourselves. But the point I make is that the only limitations imposed upon Australia’s rights and duties as a nation are those which we impose upon ourselves, and especially, for the moment, the limitations which are imposed on her rights and powers by honorable gentlemen on the opposite side of the. House. They mouth these phrases. They say we are a self-governing Dominion. They declare that we have absolute power. The right honorable member for North Sydney yesterday demanded what had we to ask for, since we have everything that we should have. Incidentally, may I say that that gentleman, having got everything he could ask for, on one occasion demanded something more, and was prepared to make a holocaust of the bodies of Australian people. But let that pass. What have we to ask for that we ‘ have not already? I agree with the right honorable member that there is nothing; but I would like to mention just one or two points for his consideration and that of those on the other side of the House who think with him. Complete autonomy implies, of course, selfgovernment, and self-government implies the power to defend one’s self, or at least it implies the will and the courage to try to defend one’s self. It implies that high moral courage which for principle is ready to take its life into its hands. But these gentlemen opposite, suffering as they do from political palsy, are affected by “ the craven fear of being great.” Having claimed all the privileges of nationhood, they basely shirk the first obligations, the elementary duties of a nation, the first and greatest of which is to protect its own fireside. From the right honorable member for North Sydney we learn, and have learned in scores of speeches, that we cannot defend ourselves. From the right honorable gentleman who leads the Government at present we have learned that it would paralyze Australia’s development to defend herself. < Incidentally, I may remark that we gave 60,000 lives, permitted some 200,000 to be maimed, and provided altogether some 400,000 fighters, and £400,000,000 for the purpose of defending France, and Belgium, and other parts of the world outside Australia. Even if we, as the right honorable gentleman said, paralyzed our Australian development, at least we should have the satisfaction of knowing that we had in a practical way asserted our nationhood. I certainly agree with the right honorable gentleman to the extent that doubtless if we defended Australia as he would have us defend it, it would paralyze the development of the Commonwealth. But our ideas of defence and his do not run on similar lines. Let us for a moment put these gentlemen upon the dissecting table, and ask ourselves what is the logical con-_ sequence of this doctrine of despair - that we cannot defend ourselves? In a speech delivered only a few days ago to, I think, a returned soldiers association, the Prime Minister is reported as having said, “ We have nailed the policy of White Australia to the mast, and we will not pull it down.” Naturally, that sentiment was cheered as we on this side would be disposed to cheer it. But how does the right honorable gentleman venture to declan that we have nailed the policy of White Australia to the mast, and will not pull it down, when in the same breath he declares that we cannot defend ourselves How does he propose to maintain the policy of White Australia in the last resort? Is it mere boastf fulness ? Is it mere empty, idle talk intended merely to tickle the ears of those to whom it is addressed, or is there any seriousness in his public declaration that we have nailed the White Australia policy to the mast, and will not pull it down? Surely the right honorable gentleman must see that in the last resort he has to depend on somebody outside Australia to support the policy oi a White Australia. Naturally, he would turn to the centre of the Empire for support. Having declared that we cannot defend ourselves, having advertised to the world that we cannot defend ourselves - lest, perhaps, some should think that in some given circumstances we could defend ourselves - having made this public declaration, he must have in mind some idea as to the way in which we are to be defended in the last resort. He employs the naval metaphor of nailing our colours to the mast, and says that we will not pull them down, and I apprehend that in the last resort he proposes to turn to Great Britain for support if the policy of a White Australia is challenged. Has the right honorable gentleman any guarantee that Great Britain believes in the White Australia policy? I can assure him that there is very strong evidence to the contrary. I do not believe that there is any party in the British House of Commons to-day, perhaps not even the Labour party there, which would pledge itself to support the policy of a White Australia by force of arms. That being so, how does the Prime Minister propose in the last resort to keep these colours flying ? Having invited people to tread on the tail of his coat, how does he propose to protect the coat that is to be trodden on ? Perhaps, as an Imperialist, he may successfully invoke the aid of Sirdar and Sikh, of the black troops of India, to uphold our White Australia policy. If you are an Imperialist, you must be a true Imperialist, and remember that the greatest part of the Empire’s population is coloured. Surely the right honorable member, who knows the weight and majesty of British arms, has not forgotten how great a part has been played in Empire development by black troops. Therefore, I suggest to the right honorable gentleman that, if he wants to go further afield, perhaps he will get support for the White Australia policy from the Senegalese troops, now operating in theRuhr, as the servants of our ally, France. At all events, whether white troops or black troops are to be employed, I ask the honorable member to tell the House how he proposes, in the last resort, to preserve the White Australia policy which he sovauntingly says is nailed to the mast, and will be defended at all costs, when he has already declared that we are dependent for our safety upon the arms of a country external to Australia. We arrive, then, at this result : that the maintenance of a cherished principle depends upon assistance from a nation which has no sympathy with that principle. This is not the time to discuss in detail the method by which I would propose to defend Australia.
– Tell us your views.
– If I am asked to comment upon Australia’s defence from the point of view of one who has been more than once twitted with being a paci ficist - a somewhat militant one, may be - I reply that our strongest defence is in the propaganda of peace. I would say, “Withdraw those war makers who, in various departments, and in the name of diplomacy, propagate the seeds of war.” Those who ask me what is my policy of defence I refer to the wreckage of the Austrian Empire. I ask them to search amongst the debris, and there they will field an old placard, battered and broken, which bears the legend, “ Preparedness for war is the greatest guarantee of peace.” I ask them to turn to the stricken and chastened remnants of the Imperialism of Germany, the greatest military nation that the world has ever seen, the nation which inculcated the spirit of preparedness, which worshipped the God of War, and whose belief in the force of arms was as a religion. Where are the German people to-day, and where is the greatness that they thought to win by force of arms? Gone! Those who think and speak in terms of war will get the thing to which their minds have become attuned; and those who think and argue in terms of peace will progress, to some extent, at any rate, toward the achievement of the ideals of which they think, for which they yearn, and in which they believe. I ask those who criticise and sneer at the policy of pacificism whether they imagine that that policy could make a more dreadful bungle of international affairs than has the policy of militarism. How much worse couldI do with my policy than honorable gentlemen opposite have done with theirs? They have strewn the world with dead bones; they have left everywhere the wreckage of their folly and vindictiveness; and they have piled countless millions of pounds of debt upon the shoulders of suffering humanity. That is their record. Such a crime cannot be charged against pacificism. The Prime Minister is reported to have said, at the public meeting to which I have already referred, that it had been hoped that the war would have the effect of stabilizing the equilibrium of nations, but it had had no such effect; the nations were further from stabilization now than they had been before the war. If a comment be needed upon that kind of militaristic cant to which we listened from the hon- orable member for Wentwortb. (Mr. Marks), on Friday last, it is contained in that admission by the Prime Minister. The honorable member, for whom per.sonally I have very great respect, told us that a navy created by the expenditure of £20,000,000 would be useless to defend us against the power of Japan. And having made that declaration, which, possibly, was quite correct, he went on to show how we must develop some new arm - we must infest the seas with, submarines, a new instrument of Beelzebub, for the protection of Australia in Australian waters. He spoke of, his experience with the Japanese people, and how he told the wily diplomats in Japan “not to tell him too much.”’ He spoke like “ an innocent abroad.” As though they were likely to tell him anything they did not wish him to know! But one thing had impressed him very much. He said that he had had the honour of an introduction to some of the Japanese war makers, or diplomats - after all, the terms are interchangeable - and they said, in_ regard to the White Australia policy, “ What about it ?” and the honorable member for Wentworth replied, “Well, what about it?” And now I, in my capacity as a layman and a pacifist, have a right to say to the honorable member, “Well, what about it?” So we all may be agreed up to that point. But the honorable member really supplied the answer to his own query. Vibrant with emotion, he told us to beware of the spread of Bolshevism in Japan, and in a more marked spirit of Christian resignation, he spoke of the growth of trade unionism. There is a rising industrial movement in Japan which ultimately will mean its liberation, and these facts, he said, are a great impediment to the militarist ambitions of Japan beyond her own boundaries. A very striking and very useful declaration! The trade unionists and the Bolshevists are to save Japan and the world from the operations of the militarists, and the honorable member might well be included amongst the latter. He said that we should by various technical means, which he indicated from the storehouse of his vast experience, prepare to defend Australia against probable attack by the Japanese. Japan, he said, is only a few days’ sail from Australia - I have heard that said before - and ,the Com monwealth is almost devoid of population. The honorable member quoted some startling and astounding figures to show the rapid birthrate amongst the Japanese people, and the density of population per square mile. Then he turned shudderingly to the map of Australia, and said, “ Look at our vast empty spaces. How can we hope to hold a country of this magnitude while it remains practically unpopulated.” In other words, just as some honorable members invite . some other nation to attack us by publicly declaring that we cannot defend ourselves, so the honorable member for Wentworth addresses himself to the teeming millions in the East, and says, “ We cannot morally hold this country unless we have an overflowing population. In our present condition, you would be morally justified in making an attack upon us.” That is an invitation to the attacker. ‘If honorable members opposite were paid agents provocateurs of the enemy, they could not do more to endanger the position of Australia than they do by their defence propaganda. Let us, as Australians, claiming to have some right to hold this country, examine for a moment Australia’s view-point in contrast with that of the Japanese. Instead of constantly supplying foreign nations with reasons why they should attack us, would it not be becoming for us. to occasionally suggest reasons why they should not? Anything I say in criticism of Japan is not directed against the Japanese people as a whole. I believe they are peaceful. I believe we are in no danger of attack from them. - They are friendly to us, and under any sane Australian Government would become more so from day to day. They would realize our ideals, as we attempt to realize theirs, and, instead of being constantly regarded as the potential enemy at tha gate, they would be regarded as friendly neighbours, which they have proved themselves to be in the past. Therefore, I address my criticism not to my friends of the Japanese nation, but to those diplomats and warmakers to whom the honorable member for Wentworth said, “ What about it?” I would like to suggest to them a few ‘facts. This ‘continent of Australia has been here for long ages. It was competent for the Chinese or the Japanese to possess themselves of it. It was much nearer to them than it “was to the pioneers of Celtic and British origin, who came overseas to colonize it. The White Australia policy is a flower of very recent growth. During many centuries, before thu advent of Captain Cook, the Chinese or the Japanese might have entrenched themselves in Australia, but they did not discover the country, and they did not colonize it. They did not go into, the bowels of the earth to develop its limitless mineral resources. They “did not cultivate its farm lands and , open up its broad pasture lands. They did not provide the daring, exploring spirits who, taking’ their lives in their hands, went into the heart of Australia and made it a white man’s country. They did not, I may add for the special edification of honorable members opposite, provide any of the 400,000 men who went away sincerely believing - although they were grossly misled - that they were going to fight to make the world safe for Democracy. These things were done not by the diplomats of Japan, but by the Celtic-British stock to which I have referred. There are no other people in the world who have a claim at all to this country. There certainly are no people in the world who have a claim’ to it at ali comparable with the claim of those who at present effectively occupy it. It is geographically an immense area. There would have been no parallel in history had Australia . been able, in the short space of one hundred years, to fill this empty continent with an effective working population. I remind honorable members opposite, as I do the Japanese diplomats, that the birth rate in Australia is not the worst in the world ; and if the birth rate in Japan is very much greater, I suggest for the consideration of honorable members that the value placed upon human life by the Australian people is greater than that which is placed upon it in Japan. I suggest, also, for the consideration of the House, that even, though our population increases less rapidly, we make better provision mentally, morally, and industrially for our people than is made in any other part of the world. I say these things, not in any spirit of disrespect for the Japanese people, but with the best of good feeling toward them. I speak with feelings of intense resent- ment against this notion which is being fostered by the diplomats and war-maker3 to whom I have referred, that there is some moral right in them, if you please, to attack this Commonwealth. Of course, I shall be met with the query, “Granting your right to occupy Australia, how are you going to defend it if attacked?” I have already said that there is not. the slightest evidence of an intention on the. part of anybody to ‘attack us, and that our greatest security lies- in the propagation of a peaceful policy. If we are to be invaded without cause or excuse by some foreign Power, and if fight we must, I scarcely think that there is in this Commonwealth one person who would not bo prepared to spring to arms to repel such an invasion of his hearth and home. I say that as one who confesses to having shown himself as little desirous of shouldering a gun as, probably, any one in this Commonwealth. I do not pretend to be a fighting man. If there were neither excuse nor reason for an invasion of this country, if we were, in truth, a peaceful people, if” every man in this country were satisfied that there was no ulterior motive in a war which was being waged concerning us, if we had nothing, to gain from such a war but safety and self-respect, if it were an honest defence of hearth and home, I venture to say that there is sufficient spirit in the Australian people, young, and old, to rise as one man to defend their own country. It is asked, “What could you do?” This policy of impotence! These propagandists of despair, who tell us that we can do nothing ! The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) told this House what the Boers had done to repel an iniquitous invasion of their country. The right honorable gentleman (Mr. Bruce), from his place in this House; attempted to draw learned distinctions, and to show that the Boers, with their thousands, could, defend themselves, while we with our millions and our isolation, could not defend ourselves. He did not make out a very convincing case. The truth is that even a comparatively small nation, even a comparatively poor nation - if you will - when it is fighting for its own home in its own country, the geography of which it understands as no foreigner can, the climate of which, it has become accustomed to as no foreigner has, becomes imbued with a new and giant strength. Above all, it is inspired by the justice of its cause; and as justice has a way, in the eternal order of things, of triumphing, so men fighting for a just and a great cause, and in defence of their own hearths and homes in their own country, will triumph, where baser millions, fighting for an unworthy principle, will perish and go down. The French are in occupation of the Ruhr. The French are to-day the greatest military nation in the world. The Germans are disarmed. The French are losing, and the Germans are winning every day, by a policy merely of ,passive resistance. As the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) said, in this matter it is not a question of being either pro-French or pro-German; it is a question merely of the folly of these extravagant ‘military operations. One could give other examples, if one had the time, of a small nation fighting on its own soil for a high principle and for nationhood. I dismiss that aspect of the matter for a moment by saying that these gentlemen fail to understand the’ spirit of the Australian people when they give it out to the world that we must associate ourselves with foreign wars, foreign politics, and foreign diplomacy, because we cannot defend ourselves. As a great English divine once said, when speaking on this subject of. Peace and War, it would be better that we should go down, it would be better that we should pursue our policy even to the point of crucifixion, than that we should associate ourselves with miserable wars of depredation and squalid attempts to gain victories of mere might over right, such as we have witnessed so often on the other side of the water. It would be better for us to cultivate a .pure Australian nationhood, a really pacific and self-reliant Australian nationhood, even, if it exposed us to all the dangers some people say it would, than that we should, by a craven entanglement in foreign policy, expose ourselves to the dangers of a catastrophe such as that which afflicted us during the years 1914 to 1918. I firmly believe that the greatest contribution we can make to the peace of the world is to secure the peace of Australia. Conversely, I believe that our meddling in foreign affairs will expose us to a thousand shafts from all the world over. These gentlemen rush into details. They say that, in order to cement the bonds of Empire, we must attend the Imperial Conferences. The right honorable member for “North Sydney ‘ (Mr. W. M. Hughes) said yesterday, “ I arranged that. We have the right to go at any time.” That right honorable gentleman would have had the right to go, but that Australia treated him in a way which left it impracticable for him to do so. We have always enjoyed, in recent years, the right to attend these Imperial Conferences, and speak for the Empire. We may speak as one part of it. But, after all, the right honorable gentleman (Mr. Bruce), although a great man, is not a super man. He will, be one among many, and I fear that his will be a very small voice - not “ the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” but the voice of one piping in Downingstreet. Then it is suggested that we should send a Minister, if you please, to sit with the British Cabinet, if they will have him - which/ 1 venture to suggest, is not likely. We must first politely ask them if they will be good enough to have one of us - a Minister attaching himself to, but not empowered to exercise any effective vote or voice in connexion with Imperial affairs; a kind of “ listener-in “ at the Cabinet meetings of Great Britain. If something more than a footman, and something- less than an orderly, is required, I hope that we shall equip him with knee breeches and a powdered wig. When the equipment was ready, what self-respecting Australian would accept the job at any price? I would not.
– The Government are sure to offer it to the honorable member !
– They are about as likely to offer it to me as they are to offer it to the honorable member. If they do offer it to the honorable member I hope that he will hold it down longer than he did his last office. If I may be pardoned for using the first-personal pronoun, I may say that I am not a Little Australian, and I do not see that we should be precluded from expressing our views in connexion with world affairs. I think that we should take an intelligent interest in the affairs of the world,. an’d where we see great wrongs being perpetrated we should express -our opinion regarding such’ action. That does not mean that when an excitable , Prime Minister on the other side of the water, on the eve of his dismissal, sends a message to an excitable Prime Minister in Australia, on the eve of his dismissal, these two excitable Prime Ministers, on the eve of their joint dismissal, shall be able to sink this Commonwealth in bloody war and slaughter, as was proposed in connexion with’ the trouble in the Near East. For that reason I welcome most profoundly the declaration made by the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Charlton) on behalf of the party. It is a declaration, in the first place, of our spirit of affection and kinship with our brothers on the other side of the water. It makes, as on its face it says, for the peace of the whole world by securing the peace of Australia. Finally, it declares that Australia believes she can best serve the world’s peace by dissociating herself from foreign affairs overseas, and from meddling in wars of the beginning of which she knows nothing, of the cause of which she is ignorant, and as to the outcome of which she is utterly in the dark. The declaration of our Leader entirely sums up these views. Our policy is in the interests of peace - the world’s peace; but we begin by doing our job at home. Our policy is one of friendship to our brothers across the seas, and I guarantee that the Labour party of Great Britain would be the very first to” applaud and vote for the declaration ‘if it were crystallized in the form of a motion. Our policy makes also, and above all, for our self-respect. I say, “ over and above all,” because our self-respect is greater than our safety, for which also it makes. The policy of the Ministry is to make us, not only understrappers, but insolent understrappers at that, demanding truculently something which we are not able, as we declare at the same time, to maintain or to hold. There is a League of Nations; and here I may say that I heard the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) make a pertinent interjection the other day, when he referred to it as the League of “ some nations.” The Prime Minister asked whether we could depend upon the League of Nations. No; the League of Nations will do great things, but it cannot do everything. And it cannot do everything because it was founded in folly. “Were it founded in wisdom, in the spirit which animated Woodrow Wilson - to give him his just due, though he weakened in the end in his great task - it would have been a great instrument for good, and it might have achieved in full “measure the peace of the world. “Will the Washington Conference achieve the peace of the world?” the Prime Minister asks. Noi, it will not, for the very reason that the men who went to Washington had been associated with the war-making business all their lives, and regarded the situation from the point of view of those whose idea of peace making was to drive as hard a bargain as possible. Even we, ourselves, sent our own petty war-maker to Washington to establish the peace of the world. In his own small sphere in Australia he had done as much as anybody could to promote war and warlike feeling and ill-will here. He was the chosen emissary of the Common- 1 wealth to inculcate in the Washington Conference the doctrines of peace. From that Conference we excluded some of the greatest Powers. We excluded the great Austrian and German Empires, the representatives of which, above all, should have been in a position to discuss the basis of a’ permanent peace. We excluded Russia because, forsooth, Russia had lately thrown off the odious yoke of the Czarists, and was struggling in her own way to establish free institutions on her own soil. In our own pleasant style, we, who had applauded the Czar, and called him “Little Father “ when he was fighting on our side, and who fretted very little about him when he was overthrown, refused to allow the representatives of Russia to sit with us at Washington. Therefore, there was no spirit of peace in that Conference - no permanent peace could possibly come out of it, because we sent war-makers to talk peace while they thought in terms of war. If .we had sent men who thought in terms of peace, and believed in peace, we might have got peace; but there can be no peace on a policy of make-believe. Why has the Versailles Treaty proved a failure? Why is it that Germany has failed to make good her reparations? Why is France struggling in the Ruhr to get by force that which she has failed to get by any other means? Why is it that the whole financial world is distraught at the present moment ? I verily believe the reason is that the’ Versailles Treaty was founded on fraud ? because its terms were a violation of all the principles for which we set out to fight in the Great War. That, in my opinion, is the whole trouble. I appeal to the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) and others not to be too hard on France in her occupation of the Ruhr. France is merely doing what we promised to support her in doing in connexion with the Treaty. At the time when we were going to put the Kaiser on his trial, when we were going to exact the last ounce from the German people, we were ready to support France in everything she is now demanding. The difficulty of our position is due to the fact that we are now “backing out”; and because the British people find the French attempt impracticable, they are beginning, in a greater or. less measure, to condemn the French people’ for making it. Sane men knew it was impracticable at the beginning, and, at the same time, knew that the Treaty was. as I have described it, in violation of every principle for which the war was fought. The first thing we have to do is to teach ourselves. “ Man know thyself.” We have to bear in mind some of the eternal principles that should animate man in relation to man, and nation in relation to nation. In other words, lot us infuse into our dealings with other people a greater measure of common honesty; let us drop hypocrisy. It has been said of me more than once that .1 have a good word for every country but my own. That has been false whenever it lias been said. I have many good words to say for this country. I am a strong believer in its future, and in the character of its inhabitants. But I regard with the greatest suspicion, and with intense sorrow and disappointment, the lead that the people of this country are getting, especially in relation to their dealings with the peoples of other nations. Let us have the courage to do the right thing: that is a principle worth understanding. Let us have the courage to stand upon our own moral strength. Do not believe, as was urged during the war, that we may suspend the Ten Commandments on the ground of expediency. Would any honest man declare to-day that the very things which subserve war in every part of the world are in consonance with the first principles that should animate man in relation to his fellow man ? Lying in the name of Democracy? Cheating in the name of military necessity? Stealing in the name of acquiring territory from a vanquished foe? It is impossible. Let us try a little common honesty. That is the message which I rose this afternoon to deliver to the House.
.- We have listened to a marvellously eloquent speech from the honorable member for Batman (Mr, Brennan). I always enjoy a speech of that gentleman, because of his eloquence and because of his marvellous phrasing. . But when one comes to ask what, in plain, simple language, is the meaning of it all, one is somewhat at a loss. The honorable member covered a large, extent of territory, but it is very difficult to know where he is. He is here, he is there; he is everywhere, and he is nowhere - as he, himself, would say.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has asked the House to give him the benefit of its views on certain definite questions, the main one, as I take it, being - What is the attitude of Australia to-day with regard to the advisability of continuing the Imperial’ tie ? That is a question of the utmost importance because on the answer depends the answers to two other questions - What is our attitude in regard to foreign policy, and also in regard to defence?
– Unfortunately, it is not a question of a tie at all.
– I am not going into refinements, such as were attempted by the honorable member for Batman, as to th,e real nature of the present tie between, the Mother Country and the Dominions. A. tie of some kind exists. There is no difficulty in ascertaining the attitude of the party to which I belong. The Nationalist position is clear, definite and unequivocal. -We say that with the privileges of membership of the British family of nations we admit and accept also its responsibilities, and we are prepared to shoulder its obligations. That, in a word, is the attitude that the Nationalists have adopted. We claim that we represent the view of the greatbulk of the enlightened Australian opinion to-day. What is the attitude of the Labour party on the same question? I listened, as I always do, with respect, to the speech ‘ delivered by the honorable member who leads that party in this House. I listened carefully, and tried to ascertain what the attitude of his party was. I found the greatest difficulty in doing so, because when he referred to the Imperial tie and the attitude of Australia towards the Empire he was timid, apologetic and equivocal.
– He was definite.
– He was not definite; he was very indefinite. The honorable gentleman said, “ It is well that the attitude of this party should be made clear and definite.” I agree with him. It is well that every representative man should make clear his attitude on this question. It was of the utmost importance that the Leader of the Labour party should place the view of his party clearly before the House.
– I made our party’s position clearer than your Leader made the position of your party.
– I propose to attempt to help the honorable member to elucidate this position, and to help him to answer the question, What is the attitude of the Labour party to-day? In order to do that it is necessary to inquire into the history of this party on this question. I call the attention of the House to the attitude of the Labour party on the Imperial position in 1914. At the outbreak of the war, in that year, the Liberal party was in power, and it was challenged by the Labour party. The critical position in which the country found itself demanded a precise statement of the attitude of the different parties in regard to the war. On the eve of an appeal to the electors of Australia at that time the Labour party issued a manifesto which was signed by Mr. Andrew Fisher, Leader of the ‘party, and Mr. David Watkins, who is identical with the honorable member for Newcastle to-day. I think that that honorable member is respected and beloved by all who know him. The manifesto was issued over the signature of these two men who at that time represented what, I believe I am right in saying, was the best in the Labour party. 1 shall quote two sentences from it. W« find these words, “ Our interests and our very existence are bound up with those of the Empire.” A little, later on are these words, “ In war there are no parties so far as the defence of the Commonwealth and Empire are concerned.” The manifesto claimed ‘ credit for the Labour party because of the fact that at the outbreak of war Australia was able to send an Expeditionary Force overseas to fight the battles of the Empire. It pointed out that it was because of the work done by the Labour party, when it was in power in 1910, that it was possible for Australia to send a fighting force abroad. It also stated that had Australia not been prepared at that time to do what she was doing, nothing but disaster could have befallen ‘ her. Those statements set out in clear and unmistakable terms, in black and white, the attitude of the Labour party at thattime. It was pointed out that Australia’s very life depended upon the Empire. It was’ also stated that Australia was prepared to do everything within her power to defend the Empire, and that she would see the war through. Credit was claimed for that.
– And you were hostile to us then, as you are now.
– I was not. I have never been hostile to Labour. I am hostile to what in Labour I believe deserves opposition. I shall have something more to say about .that a little later on. At present I am tracing the history of the Labour party on the matter of our Imperial relations. It is most important. The next thing we find is that the people of Australia, having considered the appeal made by the Labour party, returned that party to power with a substantial majority over the Liberal party. The Labour party took office and prosecuted the war with the utmost vigour and the greatest success until 1917.
– Did not the Liberal party stand for the same thing as the Labour party?
– Of course it did., In 1917 there was that historic breakaway when the members of the Labour party who held these views passed over and took their stand with the Liberal party, and formed the Nationalist party. The Nationalist party holds those views to-day. The Labour party which, in 1914, was returned to power with a substantial majority, lost its majority in 1917, and also lost its hold as a party upon the people of Australia.
– We obtained the majority this time whether we lost it then or not. We won nearly all the Senate seats.
– The Labour party lost its hold upon the people of Australia in 1917. Dissension has since entered its ranks.
– The dissension was on the conscription question.
– Since that time the Labour party has been torn by internal dissension.
– And is there harmony on the other side?
– The honorable member for Fawkner is entitled to be heard in silence.
– I generally give honorable members a respectful hearing when they are addressing the House, though occasionally making an interjection by way of a question or two. Since 1917 dissensions have entered the Labour party. They have had a fight, for instance, over the introduction of the Communists element. The party has been in trouble ever since 1917. I propose to show the reason why. Had the Labour party pursued the even tenor of the way it had been pursuing prior to 1917, it would probably have been in power to-day. It has, however, lost its power, and lost its influence with the people of Australia. The Communists sought to get into touch with, and to control, the party, and the party resented it. There is no question about that. A very bitter and strenuous fight occurred only recently about whether the Communists should be allowed to affiliate with the Labour party. I understand that the Opposition was led by the honorable member for Darling (Mr.Blakeley). He said that the Communists could not function alongside the Labour party; they must come to it. Mr. Stein, delegate of the railway men, I believe, pointed out that the objects of Labour and the objects of the Communists were diametrically opposed. I understand that, by the casting vote of the president of the Congress, the Communists were allowed to affiliate with Labour.
– That is either a silly or a malicious lie.
– The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) knows that the use of the word “lie” is not permitted in a parliamentary discussion. He must withdraw it.
– I withdraw the word, Mr. Speaker, but I must say that the honorable member is totally wrong in his facts.
– If that is so, I am sorry. I was certainly under the impression that they were as I stated then. I gained my impression from the accounts that appeared in the press. I understood that the Communists were permitted to affiliate with the Labour party on the casting vote of the president of the Congress.
– That is not so.
– This contact with the Communists accounts for an element of weakness in the Labour party to-day on the question of our Imperial connexions. Many of the rank and file of Labour claim to be Socialists. This is a source of weakness. I believe the people of Australia are soundly Imperial at heart. They are British. How is it that the Socialists in the ranks of Labour are an element of weakness in that party? I have a Socialistic catechism that, I suppose, is taught “to children. One of the ‘ questions in the catechism is : “ Can a boy Socialist be a boy scout?”The answer is “No.” The next question is, “Why can a boy Socialist not be a boy scout?” The answer is, “Because a boy scout must salute the Union Jack.” The next question is, “Why should a boy Socialist not salute the Union Jack?” The answer is, “Because the Union Jack is the emblem of oppression and slavery.” I make these remarks because it is of the utmost importance that the Prime Minister should know the views of all honorable members on this question. I am trying to show why it is that the views expressed by members of the Labour party in this House are uncertain and equivocal. The catechism goes on to say that Monarchy and Socialism or Empire and Socialism are incompatible and inconceivable. It also says that a Socialist knows no national distinctions, and that progressive and enlightened people should not be segregated into nations, and that there should be no national distinctions. They are true cosmopolitans. In the text-book of the Co>mmunists I find this, amongst other things -
Thou shalt not bo a patriot because a patriot is an international blackleg.
I am trying to point out that the Labour party, which at one time was a solid, homogeneous party, is to-day merely a conglomeration.
– Like the present Ministry.
– There may be said to be some distant family likeness in this regard, but in any case I say that the Labour party to-day has no homogeneity. It is merely a conglomeration. That accounts for its uncertain ‘voice on a great question like that of the Imperial con’nexion
– There is no election coming off immediately.
– No, but the Prime Minister is going Home, and he wants to know what the mind of Australia is in this matter. I say that during this debate he has had no assistance from the Labour party. I have listened most carefully to -every honorable member who has spoken from the opposite side; because I wished to find out what actually is the attitude of individual members opposite on these great questions, and I say that hot one single speaker from the other side has given a clear, definite, and distinct statement of his attitude in regard to’ these matters.
– What about the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes). Did he make himself clear?
– I am not concerned with that right honorable gentleman at present. I say that honorable members on this side ‘ have expressed views that were clear, distinct and understandable.
Now with regard to the question of foreign policy, if honorable members of the Labour party do not believe that the Imperial connexion should be continued, I can quite understand them saying, “ We do not desire any connexion with the Home Country at all. We want to mind our own business here in Australia, and we do not want to have any say in the policy of Great Britain, foreign or otherwise. We want to mind our own business, and desire that every country outside Australia should mind its own business.” Our attitude on this side is as clear and distinct in regard to this as in regard to other questions. We say that while we accept the responsibilities of the Imperial connexion we think we ought to have, some say in laying down the broad lines on which the foreign policy of the Empire shall proceed. We also say that in regard to questions that may lead to war, or which may ultimately lead to war, the Dominions ought to be consulted as such questions emerge. They should be kept in touch with those questions as they develop. That is a fair thing to ask, and I, think it will be readily conceded. We have been told by the right honorable member for North Sydney that we have always had that consideration. If so, well and good. We think it fair that we should have it, and the Prime Minister when he goes Home will see that that principle is acted upon and continued. What is the position of the Labour party in regard to this ? As I have already said, they claim that they do not want to have any say in matters of foreign policy. I have been struck by the extraordinary position which some of them take up. They have invited us to consider what almost happened last year when we were nearly precipitated into another bloody war through the spasmodic, irresponsible action of the British Prime Minister, and similar action on the part of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth at the time. If it is once admitted that our connexion with the Empire makes us liable to participation in any war that Great Britain may enter upon, is it not only common sense to demand that we should have some say in regard to an incident such as that complained of, which occurred towards the end of last year? The Prime Minister says, “ Is it not well that we should, by being consulted iri regard to a matter of that kind, be in a position to prevent its recurrence ? “ That is the very reason why we desire to have some say in the foreign policy of Great Britain. We do not want to be consulted at every turn or in regard to every detail. Let me say that in a matter of that kind, which might involve tremendous issues to the whole of the Empire, no steps should be taken without consultation beforehand with the Dominions. The incident referred to is a good illustration of the necessity for the Dominions being kept in touch with matters by the Home authorities.
Now I come to the question of defence, which is, after all, the great question for us to consider. The position on this side is again clear, definite, and distinct. The Prime Minister has been charged with being indefinite in regard to this matter. What we say is that Australia is prepared to defend herself in the sense that, as part of the Empire, she is prepared to provide means for defending Australian shores, but those means must be used in conjunction with the Imperial Forces. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asked whether Great Britain should not be satisfied ifwe in Australia provided for the defence of Australia, which is one-third of the Empire. I should think she would, in the sense I have suggested; but does the honorable gentleman mean to say that he is prepared to defend Australia, without cooperation with any other part of the British Empire? Does he mean that, should we be drawn into a war in which Great Britain and other parts of the Empire are engaged, we. are willing to undertake the defence of Australia without any assistance from Great Britain or any co-operation with her ? That seems to me to be the height of folly. Here we have had the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) to-night saying that we can defend ourselves “ on our own.” He objects to people saying that we are unable to defend ourselves. But I say, without the slightest fear of successful contradiction, that, without the co-operation of the other parts of the Empire, we are absolutely incapable of defending Australia. I thinkwe can say that Ave are all genuine Australians here, and,if so, are we to be one in this, that we are prepared to defend Australia? If so, is it to be Imperial defence or Australian defence pure and simple, or no defence at all? Our position on this side, I repeat, is that it must be defence in co-operation with the rest ofthe Empire. We are prepared, as I have said, to provide the means for the defence of Australia so long as it is used in co-operation and co-ordination with the rest of the Empire. Are honorable members on the other side prepared to make common cause with us in that? Not one single speechwhich has been delivered from the Labour side in this debate makes that position clear. They do not say that they are going to act in con junction with the Empire. There has been a kind of implication in all their speeches that they have nothing to dowith foreign policy andwill not look to Great Britain. In the event of Australia being attacked, they will defend themselves. If that is so, they should say so in plain and simple language. They ought to say, “We do notwant any participationin the framing of Great Britain’s foreign policy. We are involved in a certain sensewith Great Britain, and if we do become embroiled we still stand upon our own feet, and unaided Ave shall defend ourown shores, or, as the honorable member for Batman said, Our own hearths and homes.’ “ If that is the attitude of the Labour party, they should say so in plain, unmistakable language. Onewould think, listening to the brave words of the honorable member for Batman on the question of defence, that he is prepared to take his stand here on the continent of Australia as a true Australian ; but that he is not prepared to lift a single finger to defend Australia by force. Hewill depend upon the justice, the equity, and the reasonableness, not only of the inhabitants of Australia, but also of the people who, at any time, might menace our shores.
– Who is going to attack us at the present time?
– That is a very pertinent question, and helps me to emphasize my point. The honorable member asks who is likely to attack us. The implication in his question is that, as no one is likely to attack us, preparation against attack is absolutely useless and unnecessary. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) said practically the same thing. He said, “ Preparedness for war is only provocative of war.” If that were so, the natural inference would be that we need not prepare forwar.
– History proves it.
– That only emphasizes my argument as against the honorable member’s. He says that preparedness for Avar provokes war, and in the next breath he says that he is willing to spend millions of the Australian people’s money in preparation against attack. Is there any member of the Labour party willing to take his stand alongside the honorable member for Batman and say, “ We are going to depend upon the eternal principles of justice and equity. No more force for us. We have already beaten our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks, and put them into the’ museum as relics of a bygone barbarous age “ ?
– The honorable member for Batman said that he would shoulder a gun to defend this country.
– Yes ; the honorable member did say so, and therein lies his inconsistency. If a man has unbounded faith in the principles of justice and equity, he should depend on them throughout.
– That is the honorable member’s first line of defence.
– I see; and in the event of the principles of justice and equity not prevailing, the honorable member has a blunderbuss in the back room with which to blow out the brains of his assailants. It seems absurd on the face of it. As practical common-sense men we have to ask ourselves which policy we shall adopt. In 1914 the Labour party indicated that the defence of the Empire and the defence of the Commonwealth were indissolubly linked. ‘ Shall we say to the Prime Minister, “ You may go to England and assure the Mother Country that the people of Australia are willing to do their fair share in co-operation with her in the defence of not only the Commonwealth, but also the Empire at large?”
– What is meant by a fair share?
– I am not an expert. I am not fit to express an opinion on the most expert way of defending Australia. I do not claim to have the technical knowledge which would qualify me to decide the relative merits of battleships, aeroplanes and submarines.
– Ask the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks).
– The honorable member for Wentworth has made a special study of these problems and ia therefore competent to express an opinion upon them. 1, as a layman, am dealing only with principles, and I leave the application of them to men who are experts in naval defence. The indefinite attitude of honorable members opposite on the question of defence is capable of ex planation. Has there been any public pronouncement by Official Labour in regard to defence ? Yes. That war is a cruel and barbarous way of settling international disputes was declared by the Labour Congress in Brisbane in 1921. The Conference resolved that international disputes should be settled by an international Court of Arbitration “ clothed with power to enforce its awards.”
– What is wrong with that?
– What does it mean ?
– What does a police force mean ?
– How will an international court of justice get police enough to coerce a nation like France, for instance?
– If other nations were* supporting the international court, would it not then have sufficient power?
– If all the nations were agreed there would be no need for such a court. The Labour party has suggested an international, court of arbitration, but I have never heard any honorable member attempt to describe how such a scheme could be carried into effect. At the Labour Congress m Sydney in August last year a Council of Action was appointed.
– Another bogy!
– No, unless that Council of Action was intended to be only a bogy, but I understood that the Labour party was serious in that proposal.
– Was that the decision of the Official Labour party ?
– It was the decision of the Australian Labour Congress.
– That was not the Official Labour party.
-Order! I warn honorable members that if they will persist in these interjections, I shall take such corrective measures as the Chair is authorized to take.
– I am sorry to have caused so much feeling amongst honorable members opposite, but it seems that I was in error in regarding the decisions of that Congress as representing the policy of the Labour party. I understood that the Congress spoke for the Labour party, but I am informed by interjection that it did not. Again it is difficult to know where the Labour party stands. Congress appointed a Council of Action, and issued a manifesto to Labour, in which it was made unmistakably clear that in the event of Australia being threatened with participation in “another imperialistic war,” the Council of Action would take steps to paralyze key industries.
– That is right.
– And so would make it impossible for Australia to do her fair share in the war.
– It is a pity all the workers of the world would not do that.
– Possibly. .. On other occasions I have suggested that the workers throughout the world have the remedy in their own hands. If they would make common cause, and absolutely refuse to participate in any industry that was directly or indirectly engaged in preparing for war, war would become impossible. But they will not do that. Therefore, we must consider the world, not as it should be. but as it is, and inasmuch as the workers of the world will not make common cause, inasmuch as it is impossible to get them to stand in line in respect of. these matters, or indeed, matters of any kind, it is our bounden duty to declare that we shall provide for our defence in a reasonable way in conjunction with the Mother Country. Upon the general question of war or peace we are on common ground. We all abominate war. But some honorable members opposite are so uncharitable that they impute bad motives to honorable members on this side of the House and elsewhere.
– The honorable member does that, too.
– I believe I do, and it is because I and the honorable member and others do impute such motives, and say bitter things to one another, that quarrels arise. So it is with nations, and until human nature changes, war will bo inevitable. Some honorable members of the Opposition talk as if it were possible, in the present state of the world, to eliminate war. Some wars are necessary and justifiable.
– We were told that the last war was to end war. .
– Everybody hoped that it would end war; but nobody could guarantee that it would. The mere fact that it did not end war proves the futility of such an aspiration. It is impossible for anybody to say that any war will end war. I am at one with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) in believing that no permanent good can. come to humanity through the exercise: of force. There are sensitive souls in our midst, and in every country, who are opposed to war in any circumstances, and 1 can understand their attitude towards defence. They say, “We do not believe in killing a fellow being in any circumstances, and no matter what happens, even though our country he invaded, even though we have to perish, Ave shall not lift a hand to harm a human being.” The philosophy of such people is very aptly expressed by lines which Lowell put into the mouth of one of his characters in The Biglow Papers -
Ez fer war, I call it murder,
There you hev it plain an’ flat;
I don’t want to go no f urther
Than my Testy ment fer that;
God hez sed so plump an’ fairly,
It’s ez long ez it is broad,
An’ you gut to git up airly
Ef you want to take in God.
Taint your eppyletts an’ feathers,
Make the thing a grain more right;
Taint afollerin’ your bell-wethers
Will excuse ye in His sight;
Ef you take a sword an’ dror it,
An’ go stick a feller thru,
Guv-ment aint to answer for it,
God ‘ll send the bill to you.
We all feel that there is something eternally wrong in force and killing. And yet there is such a thing as a noble war. Take the War of Secession in America in 1861 . That great American poet of Democracy, Walt Whitman, said that that war was the most immortal proof of Democracy ever vouchsafed to the world in any age, old or new. He described how the American people entered the Union; how, below the surface of national life, there formed a hard-pan of national union-will, which in the majority refused to be tampered with or argued against. And then came that volcanic upheaval of the nation after the firing upon the flag at Charleston. That, said Walt Whitman, presented the greatest spectacle of progress and Democracy ever vouchsafed to the world. The American people felt that a great principle was at stake. They did not fight for self-aggrandisement, yet families were divided upon an. issue that seemed to them vital. Walt Whitman, who served in the hospitals during the war, and saw a great deal of misery and suffering, declared, in Specimen Days in America, that it was a great thing to have lived through such an experience. He told how he saw in one hospital ward a young soldier, and in another ward that soldier’s brother. Both had been mortally wounded in the same battle, and after four years of estrangement, they had come together to die, one fighting for the north, and one for the south - both splendid fellow’s. As Walt Whitman says, each died for what he considered to be a great cause.
– One of them must have been wrong.
– We are all fallible, and no doubt there was something wrong somewhere which made that war inevitable. There, is, however, such a thing as a noble war,and there is such a thing as , an ignoble peace. I join with my friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) in praying to Almighty God that peace may come to this distracted world of ours. Let me quote the words of a man for whom I have a tremendous admiration, and to whom, as a teacher, I am greatly, indebted - John Ruskin. No one can accuse John Ruskin of blood-thirstiness or of believing in the use of force. Yet he said with regard to peace, “ You can win it, or buy it. You can win it by resistance to evil; you can buy it by compromise with evil. You can buy it with silenced consciences, with broken vows, with lying words, and base connivances; while you sit at your serene hearth counting your pretty Protestant beads, which are flat and of gold, instead of round and of ebony, as the monks’ ones were, muttering to yourself the while, ‘ Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” That is not the kind of peace we want ; we want only that peace which comes from the triumph of principle. Therefore, I say again, I am with my friend the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) and my friend the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) in saying that we ought to do everything we can to spread the gospel of good will, kindliness, brotherliness, and charity.
– At the point of a gun? Mr. MAXWELL.- Not at the point of a gun. Until you change the spirit of a man, it does not matter whether he has a gun in his hand or not.You can disarm every man in the community, but if they still have in their hearts the spirit of hate, the spirit of greed, where are you? There is the possibility of war at every turn. There are many ways of killing an enemy, but the most effective way that I know is to make him a friend. That is what we ought to set about doing. I suggest, as a parting word to my honorable friends here and elsewhere, that in setting out on our crusade to preach the gospel of peace, we ought to begin “ at Jerusalem “ - that is, here and now.
Sitting suspended from 6.24. to8 p.m.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
.- Just before the dinner adjournment we had a somewhat impassioned address by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), and I congratulate him on a very forceful and eloquent utterance, full of enthusiasm. He is also to be congratulated on his performance of the remarkable feat of saying two opposite things in almost the same breath. First, he chided the Opposition for not giving assistance to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in the great mission he is supposed to have in England. He said that the Prime Minister is going Home - probably he meant that the right honorable gentleman was leaving home - and he wished to know the mind of Parliament. I was wondering what help the Prime Minister had received from his own side to guide him in the work he has undertaken. The Prime Minister himself made a speech in which ho told us nothing, but left everything to the imagination, though it is true he did ask for guidance. It is also true that some honorable members opposite have made speeches in the course of this debate. The honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) made a notable contribution yesterday, but I am not sure that it assisted the Prime Minister; indeed, I have some doubt whether the honorable member for North Sydney intended to give any assistance. It was a revelation to us to get the inside knowledge that the honorable member for
North Sydney possesses about the farce of Imperial Conferences. With the aid of that inside knowledge he convinced us that there never was anything to be done at those Conferences, and that there never will be. The present Prime Minister, new to Parliament, suddenly found himself head of the Government, and he looked round for a policy. He required a domestic policy and a foreign policy; so he gathered the State Premiers together in search of the former, but in vain, and now he is going on a trip of 12,000 miles in search of a foreign policy, to be supplied by the other Stanley. As I have said, the honorable member chides the Labour party for not coming to the rescue of the Prime Minister. ,We on this side are quite new to questions of foreign affairs. Our party and policy are not concerned with the foreign affairs of other countries; but one would have thought that honorable members opposite who are concerned about them would have- rendered what assistance is necessary. The exPrime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) who ought to be in a position to do something in the way of assisting, hindered instead of helping the present Prime Minister. Then the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) rose to throw the light of his wisdom on the great work that the Prime Minister has undertaken. Those who heard that honorable gentleman know how much assistance he gave. He uttered not a word about defence or those other great questions that fill the mind of the present Prime Minister, but simply repeated the speech he has made every time he has spoken in this House on the old worn-out theme of Free Trade. If he referred to anything on the subjects to come before the Imperial Conference or the Economic Conference, it was to tell the Prime Minister that instead of going to England to carry out that which he wishes he had better stop in Australia. We may take it, therefore, that the honorable member for Perth in no way “ filled the bill.” Then rose the honorable member for Fawkner in all his glory, and how did he acquit himself? How did he assist the Government? I confess that if it were not an Imperial Conference that the Prime Minister was going to, but a Socialistic Conference, the first half of the honorable member for Fawkner’s speech might have been to the point, and afforded some mental food for the right honorable gentleman. But it would not have been true to label; on the contrary, it would have been very much mislabelled “mental food.” Practically everything the honorable member said about the Labour party was a misstatement of facts. He had the temerity to describe the party on this side as a conglomeration. That is a curious word te come from the Government side of the House. I see sitting in front of me the two tails of one body. Only one of these tails is permitted to wag,” and when that tail wags itself 12,000 miles away the other is to be stopped altogether by the closing of Parliament. Yet, it is by honorable members opposite that we on this side hear ourselves described as a conglomeration. The Labour party is the only party that is definite, and not a conglomeration. We came back from the elections the largest party in Australia, and the members of the present composite party, who went out fighting one another for all they were worth, are now joined together. Yet they have the effrontery to call us a conglomeration. The speech of the honorable member for Fawkner was a marvellous composition, which must have reminded him of his youthful days, when he used to be given a meal of haggis. I wish to congratulate the honorable member on the wonderful picture he presented. Metaphorically, he stood in his place brandishing in one hand a sword dripping with the blood of the enemy, and in the other holding aloft the commandment, “ Thou shalt not kill.” He reconciled his attitude with ‘that wonderful skill that comes of long practice. With enthusiasm he uttered the cry that the world should be getting ready for war, and the next moment he declared that war was murder. He left it to the House to take its choice; if they did not like the sword he offered it the commandment. It was a marvellous balancing feat that would have done credit to the greatest acrobat that ever appeared. Yet it was an attitude consistent with what we observe on the part of honorable gentlemen opposite, which is like the diplomatic letters they ‘ receive from war mongers. During the last few weeks, I have spent a little leisure time in reading the public documents ‘which preceded the great war. and which were subsequently published in the British White Book. Any one reading those documents, without any knowledge of what has happened since, would be convinced that every one of the diplomats who wrote them had only one burning desire, and that was to prevent war. Yet, somehow, in spite of all, the war happened. The marvellous hypocrisy of secret diplomacy has been revealed by other documents and subsequent events.
The honorable member for Fawkner proceeded to give a description or historical review of the Labour party. “He would find it very much more difficult to give an accurate historical review of his own party, because it is much less straightforward. The honorable gentleman told us that the Labour party was all right until 1917, when trouble arose, and the split took place. It is quite true that Labour then went out of office; but I ask the honorable member, and others opposite, where are the renegades to-day who si,lit the Labour party? What did they suffer at the hands of the people of Australia at the elections? I say to honorable members opposite that .they have done, perhaps in a lesser degree, to the party to which they pledged themselves what those members did who split the Labour, party ; and probably the same fate awaits them.
– You mean the Country party ?
– I mean the Country party, which went out to destroy Nationalism, and- came in to- keep it in office. The honorable member for Fawkner quoted from an alleged Socialistic catechism he has discovered somewhere. Are we on this side to be judged by every utterance and every word written by all who choose to call themselves Labourites or Socialists? I am prepared to accept such judgment, if my honorable friends opposite will make themselves responsible for every word written and said for their side of politics. Will they take responsibility, for example, for the famous utterance of one of their own paid official organizers, who, not so many years ago, declared that marriage was a luxury - that employers of labour should be expected to maintain only the workman, and not his wife and children? Will they take responsibility for Barwell’s bible of black labour? I place it against that socialistic catechism which I know nothing about. Will the party opposite stand for all the actions of capitalists? Will they agree with all that is done in the name of the capitalistic movements and capitalistic Governments of the world ? Will they stand by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s operations in Fiji at present ? Yet they come to this House with a document that we do not own, and raise it against our party. That is not the test of Labour. The true test of Labour lies in its official programme and records. If definite statements of what the Labour party stands for are desired they will be made by the accredited leaders of the Labour movement, and not by other people. There was nothing indefinite or equivocal about the statement, made by the Leader of this party on the question before us. The honorable member for Fawkner asked what was wrong with Labour in 1916. Let me tell him why our party split. It occurred because our party stood against an atrocious conspiracy that was hatched by the ex-Prime Minister of this country after he returned from a trip such as the present Prime Minister is about to take. The exPrime Minister had entered the environment that he said yesterday was foreign to all Australian ideals. When he got back from that influence of the blue-room and other similar places, he tried to foist upon the people of this country something that was absolutely foreign to the ideals of the Australian Labour party. Because we stood against him there was a split in this party. When the history of that period is written without bias it will stand to the everlasting credit of the Labour movement that it was the one political body in the Commonwealth which remained true to Australian Democracy, and true to the principles of freedom and liberty, in that it resisted an attempt to impose upon Australia Prussian militarism in the form of conscription. That is where the Labour party stood in 1916. The growing strength of this party to-day is an evidence that the people generally are waking up to the fact that we were right in the stand we took.
– What about the Perth Conference?
– I was one of the delegates who represented this State at the Perth Conference. It makes me proud of our record as a party when. I remember the stand that was taken at the Perth Conference. What did we stand for? Not for the lying statements that were made respecting our resolutions, but for the principle of peace by negotiation. We indorsed the decision of four State Conferences. Our resolution was for peace by negotiation, and not for peace at any price, as was so falsely said. We desired peace on a definite basis. We drew up that basis, and published it to the world. When the “ Fourteen Points,” enunciated by President Wilson, were made public, it was found that they were almost identical with our basis for peace which was published six months before. When the end of the war came the Armistice and Peace Treaty were agreed to on the basis of the “ Fourteen points “ for which we had stood eighteen months previously. In that eighteen months about 4,000,000 men were added to the dead, and about 15,000,000 added to the maimed, broken, and maddened. The peace came practically on our terms eighteen months after we had formulated them.
– The difference was that we were on top then, and the Germans were on top when your basis of settlement was announced.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. We went to the country on two by-elections after our basis for peace was formulated. We issued the same manifesto on both occasions. On one occasion our terms were criticised by gentlemen like the honorable member who interjected. It was said then : “ Now the Germans are on the run you want peace by negotiation to save them.” On the other occasion we issued the same manifesto, and it was said of us, “Now the Germans are on top, you ‘want peace by negotiation to give them the victory.” The two by-elections to which I refer were those for the Grampians and Flinders Divisions. As a matter of fact, we wanted peace to save human lives from being slaughtered. Why did we take the stand we did in 1917? Because by that time we had learned many things that previously we had not known. We had received information of those secret treaties that were entered into before war was declared - treaties which were not made known even to the British Cabinet.’ Those treaties provided that the war must continue even after overtures came from Germany and Austria, until Italy could be given Trentino France Alsace-Lorraine, Russia a warm port in the south, and Britain certain influence in Mesopotamia. All that while the men of Australia were being told from recruiting platforms all over the country that they were to go across the seas to defend little bleeding Belgium, and that they were fighting for principles which would make the world safe for Democracy. They were told, also, that this was a war to end war. We had learned by the publication of those treaties, however, that the war must be fought until one country could grab this territory, and another country grab the other territory. Ultimately, the peace which was signed was based on the fourteen points laid down by President Wilson. I believe that the Versailles Treaty which followed will go down in history as one of the worst huckstering, haggling, sordid pieces of bargaining ever made in the history of the world. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) repeated statement after statement that was made by the Prime Minister. Instead of giving the Prime Minister a lead as to his own views, he simply said ditto to everything. The honorable member for Fawkner said our connexion with the Empire rendered us liable to attack, and the Prime Minister used the words, “ When Britain is. at war, Australia is at war.” To my mind, the statements mean the same thing. Both the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Fawkner presented a choice to the people of Australia. I do not agree with their statement of the choice our people have. They said that either we must stand within the Empire, and thus consent to be dragged at its heels in every European war, or else we must get right out of the Empire. In effect, they said we must get right into every war that Britain is engaged in, or we must cut the painter. I wish to put my position on this matter clearly and unequivocally before honorable members. I believe that statements such as those made last week by the Prime Minister, and those made to-day by the honorable member for Fawkner, will lead to the disintegration of the Empire.
– That is rubbish!
– It is not rubbish. It is sound common sense ; and if the honorable member knew anything about history he would realize it.
– He knows nothing about history, but he is a good judge of rubbish.
– I was glad to hear this afternoon the emphasis laid by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) on the fact that Britain makes no attempt to impose restrictions upon Australia. The attempts to impose restrictions upon this country are made by Imperialistic gentlemen such as the honorable members to whom I have referred. The Prime Minister and the honorable member for Fawkner gave us a choice of only two things : either we could remain in the Empire, and thus be dragged by the heels into every European war, or else we must get out of the Empire altogether.
– Are we to remain part of the Empire, or are we to get out ?
– If the honorable member wantsto air his views let him do it, and not sit in silence behind the Government. I shall state my views in such a way that honorable members will have no doubt where I stand. The silken ties of kinship that have bound us to the people of the British Isles have endured for many years. I hope they will continue to endure. I want those ties of kinship and friendship to grow as the years roll on. I want the feelings of friendship between ourselves and the British Isles to increase, and I want our friendship with the people of other countries to increase, until we realize a truly fraternal feeling with the people throughout the world. I warn the Prime Minister, and other swashbuckling Imperialists, that the Australian Democracy will stand by the silken ties of kinship that have endured for so long, but will not consent to the cast-iron bonds of Imperialism which such people endeavour to place upon her. The silken ties of kinship will last, but the iron bands of Imperialism will break. Because I do not wish to lose our friendship and kinship with the people of the British Isles, but rather wish to strengthen the ties which bind us, not in apolitical sense, but in the sense of true friendship, I suggest that we should lay all the emphasis we can upon the danger of endeavouring to fasten the iron bands of Imperialism upon this country. The Prime Minister said that while we accepted the responsibility of partnership in the Empire we also demanded some voice in the formulation of foreign policy. The honorable member for Fawkner said ditto to that, but he did not attempt to say how this voice could be obtained.
– He was more vague than the Prime Minister.
– Much more so, because the Prime Minister did throw out a hint as to what he would like, and he asked our opinion upon it. I propose to oblige him with my opinion. He asked for the views of honorable members on the question of a resident Minister in London, who would have such status that he would get all the information available on matters of foreign policy. Does the right honorable the Prime Minister think that such a Minister could get into the secret conclaves of the diplomats, and gain information that would be of any service to us ? He does not answer. He has not a word to say.
– Did you notice that one of the papers said the idea was so stupid that it could only have emanated from Dr. Earle Page.
– I did not see that statement, but if I had seen it I would not have believed it, because that tail would not have dared to wag so much. However, the Prime Minister does not appear to know. He, unfortunately, has found himself in an important position, and he does not know anything about its responsibility. He was given a Prime Minister’s commission, and he said, “ I wonder what I ought to do with this bally thing.” He does not know at all, and he is going across the sea to find out all aboutit. He tried hisbest to find out what he should do from the six Premiers of the States, and they turned him down, though five of them should have treated him as a pal. He is going abroad now to learn from Mr. Stanley Baldwin how to solve his problem. If the right honorable gentleman believes that an Australian Minister resident in London will be given a look into the proceedings of secret diplomacy in Britain, and will be told what was not told to more than three members of the British Cabinet, all I have to say is that before he leaves the shores of Australia he ought to be provided with a nurse to take him by the hand. Such innocence is really touching. As the honorable member for Batman (Mr. ‘Brennan) said, the right honorable gentleman will be an example of an “innocent abroad.” Then the honorable gentleman seemed to be of opinion that a biennial Conference will assist in solving all problems. I have read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’* but it was not so fantastic as this, which might perhaps be called “A Midwinter’s Day Dream.” It is certainly foolish enough for any dream. I .return to the honorable member for Fawkner, who told us with force and emphasis ‘that we are absolutely incapable of defending Australia, a statement which was received by every member sitting behind him with loud cheers. Truly, they are wonderful Australians on the other side. -I venture to say that one might” search the records of any National Parliament in the world, and he would not find another such declaration as that. He would not get such a declaration from any people who - call themselves a nation. I think that honorable members opposite should hide their diminished heads if they call Australia a nation, and speak about it in that way. It was a craven declaration. I do not pretend to be a military expert, and the Lord forbid I ever should be one, but I say as a general statement of fact that during the last war Australia did defend herself from any danger that threatened her in the Pacific, and, having done that, she transferred her Navy to the North Sea to defend Great Britain. On top of that, she sent 400,000 of the best of the Army to defend France, Belgium, and other countries. Yet we are told that- Australia cannot defend herself. It is a craven declaration and a false statement. The honorable member for Fawkner twits the Leader of this party and the honorable member for Batman with inconsistency, in that they are pacifists who stand for non-preparation and at the same time speak of preparing to defend Australia. That is only one more of the misrepresentations which the honorable member and others indulge in against honorable members on this side. There was no suggestion from this side inconsistent wilh a policy of defence for Australia. Some one asked what our attitude is. It was laid down definitely and clearly by the. Leader of this party. The details of Australian defence do not arise in this debate. The question we have to consider now is what stand we shall take on the subjects which are listed on the agenda of the Imperial Conference. Our stand is a clear and definite one. It is against militarism. So far as we can abolish it in this country it shall go. We ‘ would spread the doctrine of peace at home as well as abroad. We make the honest declaration made by the Leader of the Labour party to the world, that we stand against the invasion of any other country, whilst we will resist invasion of this country. The honorable member for Fawkner said that we should do our fair share in the defence of the Empire. He twitted honorable members on this side with giving no light or leading to the Prime Minister, but when he was .asked what he thought our . fair share should be, he said, “I do not know. I am not in a position to say.” He was not in a position even to give a general statement ; but there was one honorable member opposite who muttered in an undertone a suggestion to the honorable member that he might make the declaration which Mr. Fisher made - “ The last man and the last shilling.” I want the Prime Minister to say, does he stand for that? I want honorable members opposite generally to say, are they prepared to stand fort that? The sentiment was probably uttered in the first instance as a rhetorical phrase, but now we are come down to hard facts, and are asked for a policy to place before the people of Great Britain and the other Dominions of the Empire; and I ask honorable members opposite, are they going to stand for that in view of the changed circumstances which we are facing to-day? The honorable member for Fawkner said, “I do not know.” That is the way in which he assists the Prime Minister after charging honorable members on this side with being indefinite. What is our fair share, and what should be Australia’s part in any war in which the Empire is engaged ? It was laid down by the Leader of the party on. this side. Our fair share is to defend Australia. The honorable member for Fawkner talked about Official Labour and its utterances, and he quoted, in his opinion, some awful things. He told us that we had said that war is barbarous. Is it not barbarous ? Is there a man in this Chamber who will say that it is not barbarous ? There is not one.
– But if-
– Never, mind “ifs.” Let the honorable member make a speech and answer yes, or no. Is war barbarous? Will the honorable member answer that? Honorable members opposite are silent when I ask them to say whether war is barbarous or not.
-Yes, it is barbarous.
– Yes; and our party said so, and what is there wrong with that statement? The honorable member for Fawkner twitted us with desiring to substitute international arbitration and the decisions of international courts for war. He laughed at that. He thought it so funny. There is nothing funny about it. We do not believe in people running about the streets armed with pistols shooting one another, but we do believe in the force of the policeman. International arbitration is sneered at, but those who do the sneering are not in earnest when they talk peace. If there were any real earnestness in the professed desire for the success of the League of Nations, we should never have another war to look forward to. With earnestness and sincerity our suggestion is practicable and sane, and it is only because there is no sincerity and earnestness oh the part of the Governments that subscribe to the League of Nations that we are now talking about preparation for the next war. Then we had a confession from the honorable member for Fawkner. He quoted a trade union declaration to stand for the prevention of war by throwing down tools. He confessed that Labour was the only hope if the workers would make common cause to prevent war, but he said that they would not do so. Every time that an attempt was made by the workers to make common cause for international peace they were sternly and strongly resisted by the capitalist forces which honorable members opposite stand for. We have had some wonderfully fine examples of workers standing for the common cause of peace. We had the example of Dr. Liebnicht, in Germany, who was shot because he believed in peace. The capitalistic Governments and Imperialists in all countries shoot down the workers when they make common cause with their fellows in other countries. We had the case ofRosa Luxemburg, who was done to death by the people because of the propaganda of the Imperialist and capitalist press. There was Jaures, in France, and others in other countries, who at the instance of capitalists and Imperialists were killed, jailed or transported because they strove for what the honorable member for Fawkner twits the workers with not attempting todo. The Prime Minister talked the other day about the defence of Australia from attack, and expressed great anxiety for the defence of cities on our coast-line, yet no provision has been made against any such attack. We have not one fortification with a gun that can carry half the distance of guns to be found on modern battleships.
– The honorable member is hard to please. He is now asking for means of defence.
– But honorable members opposite will not provide means’ for the defence of Australia. They want battleships for Empire defence, instead of fortifications for Australian defence. The Prime Minister talks of the new status of Australia. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) dealt with this, and I will not repeat what he said ; but I should like to remind honorable members that only last week, or the week before, we had some evidence of that new status in this House. When the Defence Bills were introduced, we had wonderful evidence of it. Where is the Air Defence Bill now ? It is up in the air, hanging between Heaven and earth like Mahomet’s coffin. These are the gentlemen who talk of Australia’s new status. The Prime Minister told us of the unfortunate action of the ex-Prime Minister of England (Mr. Lloyd George), which brought Australia to the brink of war. He did not say anything more of it than that it was “ unfortunate.” He did not say a word to condemn it, or to prevent such a thing happening in the future. He did not mention that when he goes to the Imperial Conference he will tell people over there that such a thing should never occur again. No, he said that it was for Australia to stand by her obligations to the Empire. No matter what bungling order was given Australia was to be plunged into war to stand by a British Prime Minister tottering on his last political legs. Then the right honorable gentleman said that the promptness of our action probably averted war. That is but the babbling of a babe in the wood. It was the attitude of the British Labour party in expressing public opinion in Great Britain, and of the Australian Labour party in expressing public opinion here, and. of the Canadian Government in expressing the public opinion of Canada, that saved us from another war. It was the people who talk so much about war who led us to the brink of war only last year, and we are now being asked to send an innocent Prime Minister from Australia to see whether he can solve all these problems in London.
What was it that led to the Near East crisis? It was that British and French capitalists were playing one against the other, one playing for Turkey and the other for Greece. If honorable members will look up public documents, they will find that Greece in 1921, depending on British support, resumed hostilities against the Turks and overran Asia Minor. She appeared to be so successful that Mr. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of England, made a public declaration that Greece > was entitled to more than the Sevres Treaty gave her. But when the Greek débâcle came, and Turkey was triumphant, we were told by the Australian Prime Minister of the clay that it was our duty to go to the aid of Greece because Turkey was breaking the Treaty of Sevres. When the Greeks were successful, Lloyd George declared that they should get more than was given them by the Sevres Treaty. Then the tide turned, and in December, 1922, Gounaris sent an S.O.S. message to Lord Curzon, “ Cannot maintain army in Asia Minor; money and munitions wanted.” A reply was sent back, “Hold on.” Gounaris floated’ a forced loan, and Greece carried on. Months passed by. Meanwhile Turkey was reinforced with war material from France and Italy. In July, 1922, Lloyd George sent a message to the Greek Government advising them to hold on for another winter, and in the August following he made a speech in the House of Commons which was so favorable to the Greeks that it was published in Army Orders to the troops to encourage them.
Later, the Greek army was routed, and a desperate appeal was made to Britain to arrange an armistice, Greece agreeing to the evacuation’ of Asia Minor. Lloyd George sent back a remarkable letter, which was published in the Daily Express, and has never been contradicted. In it, he said -
The Greek Government should avoid the mistake made by the Germans in November, 1918, namely, concluding an armistice on abject terms of panic.
The result of the conclusion of the armistice in 1918, on abject terms of panic, was the Versailles Treaty, which is quoted to-day by France as her justification for occupying the Buhr Valley. We were told that the last great war was to end war, but, as was well said by somebody, it was ended with a peace to end peace; and I might add that the British Empire was on the brink of a new war to end the old . war. The smouldering embers of all the troubles in Europe today are fed, not by the passions of the people, but, to a large extent, by Mosul oil and Buhr coal, and such is the combustibility of those materials that we are in danger of a conflagration at any moment. What a sordid struggle was witnessed at Lausanne recently, when French diplomatists were playing against the British diplomatists. Imperialism and Capitalism, which are almost synonymous terms, were represented at the Conference table, _ and Standard Oil, represented by the American diplomats, was an interested spectator. One honest gesture would sweep away all this hypocrisy and these bargainings that lead to war. What nation will make that, one honest, clean gesture? Are we to take part in those subtle and sordid intrigues that lead to war? If so, what part shall we play? If an Australian innocent is sent into these Conferences, he will be treated like a. child, and the part of Australia will be to sacrifice the clean, honest lives of its men in a dishonest capitalistic intrigue.
President Harding said -
The League .of Nations is linked with the Peace Treaty, making it the enforcing agency of the victor. An international association for permanent peace must be conceived solely as an instrument of justice unassociated with yesterday’s passions.
We are told that the French are occupying the Ruhr Valley because they cannot get reparations from Germany. I do not believe that reparations have everything to do -with the occupation. I do not believe that that movement by the French nation is due to fear or hate on ‘the part of the French people. Those reasons are advanced for consumption by the public. If one reads aright the international press, and the news translated from French and German newspapers, the occupation of the Ruhr Valley is due almost entirely to the disagreement of French and German capitalists over the formation of a huge coal and iron trust. There are two capitalistic groups, the leaders on the German side being Stinnes, Krupp, and Thyssen, and on the French side Louchier, Schneider andWendel. I learned, from reading some of these translations, that simultaneously with the sending of French troops to the Ruhr, the French “iron kings’” invited the group, headed by Hugo Stinnes, to join them in a combine. They met and disagreed in regard to terms. Had they agreed on the terms, probably the French troops would have been withdrawn. This statement by Stinnes was published in the Rhenish Westphalian Periodical of 20th January, 1923 -
We cannot form a concern with Louchier in which Louchier will have 60 per cent, and Stinnes 40 per cent.
Stinnes wanted the partnership to be on a “fifty -fifty” basis, and because he was offered only a 40 per cent, interest, the military trouble in the Ruhr continued. While the jingo press are howling, and inducing the French people to sing “ Vive la France,” and the Germans to sing “Forward Fatherland,” Stinnes and Louchier are haggling as to whether one shall have 50 per cent, or 40 per cent. When they do arrive at a settlement one crushing combine will control the whole of the natural wealth in the Ruhr. Valley. A capitalistic game of chess is being played, and the pawns are maimed men, starved women,and strangled babes. These will be the “glories” of the next struggle, as they were the “ glories “ of the last war. Those gentlemen who prate of their love of peace and their adherence to the ten commandments are the same as those who stood on the platforms and talked of the glories of war. If there is one phrase that should never be uttered, it is “ The glory of war.” Yet it is repeated again and again. In the school-books and ‘the newspapers little children are taught to believe in the glories of war. Open the glory-box and see what it contains. You will see the glory of the last war- 9,000,000 dead, 30,000,000 maimed and broken. I have visited Mont Park Asylum and have seen some of the finest specimens of Australian young manhood who had lost their reason because they had participated in the “glories” of war!
– Whom has the honorable member heard speak of the glories of war?
Mr.SCULLLN.- The glories of war have always been preached by people like the honorable member.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– We speak of the horrors of war.
– No ; the honorable member speaks of its “glories.” We on this side . have the courage to deny the glories of war. It is our duty, not to be talking so much of the next war and how it is to be fought, but to consider how we shall consummate that general peace for which 60,000 Australian men laid down their lives, and for which 9,000,000 men of all nations died. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) spoke of those things which Labour parties do, and the principles for which they stand, the horrors of Bolshevism, the evils of Socialism, and the terrors of Communism, but I remind him, that for the horrors of those four years of war - bloodshed and destruction, maimed and broken men, and the sacrifice of millions of lives - no responsibility can be charged to any Labour Government in any part of the world. All the blame canbe laid at the door of capitalistic Governments that were carrying on secret intrigues, and working along those lines that surely lead to war. The greed of capitalism, and the endeavour to invest surplus capital in other parts of the world, bring about a clash of international interests, and then the expropriated and exploited workers are sooled on to do the fighting. We in Australia, so far removed from the centre of world politics, cannot control these things. We cannot go into the intrigues of Europe and change its ways, but we can, in our own country, in our own day, and in our own generation, do something to bring about reform. “We can put our own house in. order. “We can strive to preserve peace in. Australia; we can lead the way with an honest gesture which other nations may follow. By developing our own country we hope to make it safe for our own people. We wish to extend the hand of friendship and sympathy to the peoples, of all lands, and to acknowledge our kinship with Britons across the seas, but politically, militarily, and diplomatically we shall mind our own business.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) is deserving of the thanks of Australia for having afforded this House a better opportunity than it has ever had before of discussing vital problems affecting the nation’s very existence. This debate is fuller than any that have previously occurred upon the agenda of an Imperial Conference. We are dealing with problems of peace and war, and foreign policy that leads to war or determines peace. Australia does not want war; we require peace, and I believe there are few Australians indeed who in any sense desire war. No Australian speaks of the “glory of war.” I hope that all Australians recognise that it is a glorious thing for a man to risk his life in the horrors of Avar for the sake of his country, but appreciation of such heroism is very different from extolling the glories of war. War has been tried throughout the history of mankind, and has failed, and the world knows that it has failed. That is the conviction of all reasoning men and women, and one of the principal objects of human endeavour to-day is to prevent
Avar. I shall read to the House an extract from a newspaper, which, though it may not be approved by all sections here, which fairly states, with, perhaps, some very slight exaggeration, the modern idea of war. ‘The Manchester Guardian says -
To most sober, matter-of-fact people, the Great War and its results have made it clear that the survival of everything which we most value in England and in Europe depends now on the non-recurrence of war. The illusion that war can be a means of national profit is dead. The illusion that Avar is a school of character is dead. The illusion’ that war permanently tightens comradeship within a nation is dead. War as a means to anything great, noble, or precious, beyond its own immediate objects of escaping violent conquest by others, is as bankrupt before the world as fire or plague. The only common-sense policy is to enrol the forces of sanity and decency in ali nations in a joint endeavour to get the world out of its foolish and wicked old dream about war’s nobility and utility. Probably an enormous number of people, certainly most exsoldiers, have got hold of some of this truth.
That, I believe, expresses what is becoming amongst thinking people the general opinion concerning Avar. We have to deal
Avith facts as we find them, and it’ is useless to attempt to evade a fact which one does not like- by referring to it as a policy with which it is possible to agree or disagree. Australia is. and must continue to be, a part of the British commonwealth of nations. That is not a matter which I intend to waste the time of the House in arguing. I assume it not only as a matter of common sense, but from the point of view of self-interest, national duty, and national pride. I am proud to belong to the race of England, the one country in Europe which, having seen the war through, is standing up to its obligations to the last penny. I listen with impatience to any. apologies that are offered for the connexion of Australia with the British Empire. That is something of which we should be proud. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) spoke of the White Australia policy, and asked what party in the House of Commons would support it. My honorable friend therein showed that he had not begun to have a glimmering of an idea of the principles that underlie the British commonwealth of nations. Surely he should have learned by this time that Great Britain does not presume to sit in judgment upon our policy ; our self-government,, our autonomy, is a real thing, and we govern ourselves without asking the leave of any party, whether it be in a majority or in a minority, in the British Parliament. That is one of the things which other nations find it difficult to understand. - In the eighteenth century it was not understood by Great Britain, and, as a result, America was lost to the British commonwealth of nations. In the nineteenth century it became understood to a certain extent, and in the twentieth century it has become fully understood. We know that we do not need to ask Britain to inquire into the details of our White Australia policy, because the
British Commonwealth of Nations is, notwithstanding many theories to the contrary, a real and a practical thing. It is within that commonwealth that Australia can best find her freedom, her security, and her peace. The connexion with the Empire is not a fetter binding Australia; it gives to Australia an added freedom, an added liberty, and an added power. The British Empire to-day is, perhaps, the greatest force in the world for peace. We would do well to stand alongside our brothers in seeking to attain the objects which the Empire now has in view.
I take it as a fact that when the British Empire is at war we in Australia are at war. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) spoke of that as a “ policy.” A policy is a proposal to do something, but a fact is a fact, and one “cannot get rid of it by describing it as a policy. It simply is a fact that when ‘the British Empire is at war we are at war, as we are a part of the Empire, and must necessarily be a belligerent. It is quite useless for us to say that we do not approve of this fact, it is in the light of that fact that the issues before us have to be determined.
It is, however, a policy of Australia - a policy which I believe Australia is determined to maintain; and as far as I am concerned, I shall do that which in me lies in order to maintain it - that Australia shall have the fullest control of her own Defence Forces, whether naval, military, or air. With that policy I am in entire and cordial agreement. I believe that each Dominion makes the best contribution to the well-being of the whole Empire when she manages her own affairs according’ to her own ideas. But though we have - and must have - full control of our own affairs, I hope that it is going to be an intelligent control, and that we are going to exercise it always, with the fact fully in view that when our forces operate they will operate in conjunction with forces from the other portions of the Empire. For us to determine that we shall organize our forces - whether naval, military, or air - upon the lines on which the forces from the other parts of the Empire are organized, is in no way to surrender any of our autonomy ; it is merely a demonstration of the manner in which we choose to exercise our right of self-govern- ment. As long as each portion of the Empire determines how far the co-operation is to go, it is fully master in its own house.
It has been said by the honorable member for Batman that pacifism is a more noble aim than the other which he thinks he sees in possession of the world to-day. With some of the ideas - as distinct from the practicability of those ideas - of the honorable member I have no quarrel. ‘ But what is the use of being a pacifist yourself if the other fellow will not be a pacifist as well? It is surely obvious enough that ( as soon as pacifisms - in the sense meant to be conveyed by the honorable member -is established all round, and all people are decent and reasonable, there will be no excuse, and certainly no necessity, for anybody to be other than a pacifist. I repeat, if the other fellow will not be a pacifist, what is one to do?
– Sit down and let him cut your throat.
– There is only one common-sense’ answer. The honorable member for Batman appeared to me to lose sight of reality in some portions of his speech. He went out of his way to speak of an ideal state of affairs which was to be brought about by the joint action of the trade unions and Bolshevism. The Bolshevist Government is the only non-capitalist Government in existence at the. present time. It is the Government which maintains the greatest army upon the face of the earth, the Government which controls an unfortunate land of devastation, disease, misery, and death. It is a Government which is conducting wars, to some extent in Europe, and certainly in Asia. Yet this poor, unfortunate country is looked to by the honorable member as the saviour of the world. There was at one time the hope that Russia would do something in the way of the education of its children. That was the one bright spot in an otherwise’ dark and dreary picture. Now, Lunacharsky, Commissary for Education, has published a report in which he regretfully admits that the number of schools and pupils is less than it was under the Czarist regime. Russia is the land of conscription, not only for military service, but for ordinary labour; the land in which men are driven to work by soldiers with bayonets when they sit down to wipe their brows. It is to this land that the honorable member for Batman looks for a lead in the direction of peace.
Something has been said of the League of Nations. I am as strong a friend of the League of Nations as any honorable member in this House. I venture to assert that I have spent more time in advocating the objects of the League of Nations than has any other member of this House. I have been doing it at every available opportunity for a considerable time. I do it because I believe that in the League of Nations- lies the hope of humanity and the future of civilization. When I hear honorable members on both sides of the House say that the League of Nations may do some good in the future, but that it has not yet done any good, I think they are overstressing the fact that the League must walk before it can learn to run. .1 would that I had the opportunity to let some honorable members know what the League of Nations’ has already done, how much it has already saved Europe; how great areas in Europe are still standing up economically and socially because of the work of the League, even under the difficult conditions that exist at the present time. Let me mention one fact out of the many, which I could bring before honorable members, not Sn regard to the political activities of the League, but in regard to its humanitarian activities. At the conclusion of the war there were many prisoners of war in Russia and Siberia. It. was impossible to get them back because Russia would not allow any of the nations of the world to send their representatives info that country, and there were . restrictions on people leaving Russia. even when they had the means. Dr.. Nansen was appointed by the League of Nations to deal, with this problem, and he succeeded in returning to their homes no fewer that 427,000 Russian prisoners of war, many of whom had been ,away for five and six years. He returned them to their families at an expense of about fi per head. Had the League of Nations done nothing else than make that contribution to the sum of human happiness, its existence would be fully justified.
But there is much else that the League ‘ of Nations has done. As honorable mem bers have already said, the League depends for its activity, its power, and its usefulness, upon the support of the peoples of the world. Only if the League is supported by the moral sense of the world can it be a success. No sensible person pretends that the League is perfect. I regret to hear the League referred to as a union of the capitalist nations, and as a mere engine for carrying out an unjust Treaty of Peace. Those comments only do evil work, and have no good results. There are now in the League no fewer than fifty-two nations of the world; and it is the desire of those nations that the few nations which are still outside shall themselves become members. Everybody wants to get the United States, Russia, Germany, and Turkey in at the earliest possible opportunity. Honorable members can, if they desire, refer to these nations as capitalist nations ; but that does not do away with the fact that that is the material with which we have to work. Are we to cease striving for peace until all the nations have accepted some particular political doctrine? Are we to cease our efforts towards peace until the Socialists have obtained power in all the countries of the world ? From. a practical point of view, the adoption of such an idea in the past would have stopped all endeavour and all effort in the direction of attaining peace. The League of Nations requires and demands our very strongest support.
With a very few exceptions, it appears to be admitted by honorable members sitting on both sides of this House that it is the duty of any Government to recognise its responsibility in providing for the defence of the country it governs. It is no good shutting our eyes to facts. We have to make provision for the defence of our country. Naturally, in that connexion, the eyes of all Australians look towards the Pacific. A great many rather vague statements have been made to the effect that the centre of gravity of the world has shifted to the Pacific. There are, however, facts which show that the Pacific to-day occupies a place in world economy which it never occupied before. It is in the Pacific that the great navies of the world are to-day, not in the Atlantic. Honorable members have heard something from the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) of the great naval expansion which, within the limits of the Washington Treaty, is being made by Japan. One naturally asks what is the object. Where is the necessity for this great naval armament and tremendous expenditure on defence preparations? It is useless to adopt the attitude of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), who, apparently, believes in the pacific intentions of every Government but the Government of Australia and the Governments of the British Empire. The honorable member is perfectly prepared to give the fullest -credit for pacific intentions to Japan, but never to the Government of Australia ; and that is a position I find it very difficult to understand. This matter of defence is still of prime importance to this country. At the present time the defence of Australia is in a condition far from satisfactory. Whether we consider the Navy, with its ships and personnel reduced to a minimum, or the Army reduced almost out of existence and no definite policy before it, or the Air Force with its officers holding purely temporary positions,, we see that the defence of Australia is not at present proceeding on any considered lines of policy. Honorable members on all sides who agree as to the necessity for defence, must admit that unless there is a definite line of policy we are running the greatest risks. Either we must have no defence at all, or we should have a system of defence which is well adapted and intelligently devised for securing the objects for which we stand. That is the meaning, I take it, of a policy of defence; and that policy appears to be now lacking. In Australia, there were certain defensive Forces, and, in consequence of the Washington Conference, certain reductions have been made. These reductions, however, do not appear to have been on any considered plan, and there is little regard to the future in the case of all three arms of defence. It is to be hoped that the Prime Minister will utilize the opportunity for obtaining the best advice, in consultation’ with highlyskilled experts, who will doubtless be available to him in England.
I now desire to say a few words on the subject of foreign affairs. It may seem a platitude, but let me venture to observe that it is impossible to draw a distinction between classes of facts in foreign affairs, and to say that some are important to Australia, while others are not. It requires but little experience to realize that a telegram, even from so outlandish a place as Archangel, may have to be regarded from an Australian point of view, owing to the fact that foreign complications have a habit of spreading. We should all remember how the- last war began with the assassination of an. Austrian archduke in a town of Bosnia, which’ was practically unknown to Australians before that day. That assassination was the exciting cause; I am not saying it was the whole cause of the war. But that event, as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has said, ultimately resulted in the loss of no less than 60,000 of Australia’s bes,t lives. We cannot afford to say that we are only concerned with matters in the Pacific, for we cannot tell what the result may be of an apparently insignificent event; any element in foreign affairs may be of profound importance to Australia’.
Then it is true that consultation between the representatives of the Dominions and the “United Kingdom is the only method of endeavouring to arrive at that unity of foreign policy which alone - can lead to satisfactory results. Here let me say a few words in reference to the Chanak incident of last year. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) yesterday suggested that some cables should be placed before the House by the Prime Minister, cables which, apparently, the honorable member had not thought it desirable to produce when he himself was in a position to produce them. But in the Canadian House of Commons something has been said of the circumstances of the Chanak appeal - that international S.O.S., as it has been called. The Prime Minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, in the Canadian House of Commons, on tha 1st February last, made this statement: -
May I say, an reference to this despatch, that this was the first and only intimation which the Government had received from the British Government of a situation in the Near East which had reached a critical stage and’ in respect of which there was reason to anticipate the necessity of making any kind of appeal ‘for military assistance f I want it to be clearly understood that nothing in the way of an official communication respecting a critical situation in the Near East was received. Dy our Government from the British Government prior to our receipt of the particular despatch of which I have just given the substance.
I hope that the Prime Minister will saydefinitely and decidedly that this method of conducting foreign affairs is not satisfactory to the Dominions. It does not place a Dominion Prime Minister, a Dominion Ministry or Parliament, or a Dominion people in a fair position. To spring such an appeal without warning upon a Dominion Government is not even to pretend to consult it on foreign affairs. I hope the Prime Minister will take the opportunity to say that, if there are to be such occurrences, a very grave strain will be placed on the bonds of Empire, however those bonds may be described.
Any dealing with foreign affairs is dangerous, and worse than useless unless it is with knowledge. It is very difficult on this side of the world to get accurate and exact knowledge of foreign affairs to such a degree, and in such manner, as to render the opinion, of Australia, sent from Australia, of avail at a time of crisis. But this Parliament has a responsibility for the safety of Australia, and’ it is fe Parliament to see that the best is done under the conditions as they exist. Is the best being done at the present time? The best is not being done, ‘ because practically nothing is being done at all. .It is known that communications are sent direct between the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Prime Minister of Australia, and doubtless some of these are for ‘the eyes of the Prime Minister alone. What I desire to point out is that there is no staff in the Prime Minister’s Department to handle anyquestion of foreign affairs. It is quite impossible for a busy Prime Minister, dealing as he does with all matters of policy that concern the Commonwealth, to make himself, not an expert, but even moderately well informed on matters of foreign affairs, so as to be qualified to discharge a responsible . duty in that domain. One man would possibly be sufficient for such a staff as I suggest, but there should be at least one officer to receive and collate material coming to hand, so that there may be some source of ready and accurate information.
There is one other matter in regard to which I desire to renew a suggestion I have already made during my short term in this House. At present questions of foreign affairs, apparently in this Parliament as in the last, so far as one can judge, are for one man and one man alone to deal with. That is not a safe position. There will not always be the same political party on the Government benches, and I again suggest the formation of a committee on foreign affairs, as is the practice in many Parliaments of the world. Such committees are chosen from members of the Legislature for the purpose of obtaining information and reporting to the House, or, if it is desired, to the Ministry. This is necessary in order that members may have an opportunity of getting into touch with realities. Let us look at the position when a Government goes out of office; for whatever may be the hopes and fears of honorable members, Governments do sometimes go out of office. A new Government is formed from the other side, and in many matters the incoming Ministers naturally have a good deal of difficulty in dealing with administrative details. So far as our internal Departments are concerned that is a necessary incident which we can suffer. In the case of foreign affairs, however, it is necessary there should be continuity of information and understanding. I do not sit on the Opposition side of the House, but sitting where I do, I should object strongly to any suggestion that there is anything improper or dangerous in inviting members of the Opposition to sit with members of the Government side on such a committee. As I have said, this is done in other Parliaments, and it suggests itself to me as a proper method which, at least, might be tried.
The Prime Minister has spoken of a resident Minister in London as a possible means of solving the difficulty which arises from the present imperfect facilities for communication and consultation. To me there appear to be very grave practical difficulties in carrying out that idea. It is very unlikely that any member of this House would accept such a position. He would be away from Australia for at least a year, a fact which his constituents might resent; and changing the Minister at intervals of a year would not conduce to satisfactory information or continuity of policy. This proposal for a Minister resident in London was adopted at the Imperial Conference in 1918 at which we were represented by the right honorable the member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes). It is merely a question of whether Australia shall take advantage’ of the offer, which is still open. I suggest that she should not take advantage of it, for reasons which have already been placed before honorable members. I believe we can work more effectively in present conditions, through the members of this House and through the Prime Minister’s Department, in the manner I have suggested. It would be a good thing if Australians could be attached to the staffs of the British Embassy in some of the more important centres of the world. That could be arranged. It would provide Australia with a fund of information which might be of immense value to us.
The next matter with which I propose to deal I approach with some hesitation. It is all very well talking about foreign policy and our responsibilities and duties. I ask whether we are prepared to accept any responsibility in foreign policy? Have we any contribution to make to the present-day problems of foreign policy?
I intend to run a risk by saying something about one of the most difficult and intricate problems upon the political plane that confronts the world to-day. I refer to the problem of reparations and to the Ruhr Valley question. I ask the Prime Minister also to run a risk by taking up a decided attitude upon these questions. I shall place before honorable members reasons why I am taking a stand on these matters. My first reason is that Australia is to some degree responsible, in a manner which I shall endeavour to indicate, for the reparation provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. Australia herself thus owes some reparation to Europe for the share she had in creating the problem. We all know what the effect of these reparation provisions has been on the world. .The Treaty of Versailles is not such a bad Treaty. .It solved a great many problems respecting territory, economic and social conditions. It drew up the boundaries of the new countries that had to be defined. It provided for the protection of the minorities which were necessarily left in Europe.
Th.e Treaty as a whole has worked very well. It is the reparation provisions that have been the curse. They are the fatal dowry which the Versailles Treaty has given to Europe. We all know what effect they have had upon our own commerce, because they have resulted in the shutting down of the markets of central Europe. Thus they are accountable in part for the fact that we to-day are unable to find markets for our products. I suggest to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) therefore that this is a matter upon which he is- entitled to express the views of Australia in a very definite manner. As matters stand to-day it appears that there is a risk of permanent hatred being engendered in Europe, and of the old position of Alsace-Lorraine being magnified a thousand times.
I approach the reparation problem from the ‘ point of view that Germany must make reparation. It is a question of amount and method. I do not propose to argue this point. I doubt whether any argument upon it is required in this House. The question is “ What amount of money should be paid.” The Allies claim that the sum of £6,600,000,000 sterling shall be paid in gold marks by Germany. Germany ;.s passively resisting all attempts to exact payment of the amount. One of the reasons why, is that she is naturally unwilling to pay. Another reason - and though I say it with shame, I do not hesitate to say it - is that the reparations provisions of the Treaty are infected with a radical dishonesty. I wish it to be understood that I am expressing my own view on this matter. I express it strongly because I feel ashamed of what has been done. I do not quarrel with honorable gentlemen who may hold other opinions. I shall give reasons for my views. This is the biggest problem in the world today, and if we have a contribution to make towards its settlement we should make it.
When the Armistice was signed, it contained special terms about reparations. The correspondence previous to the signing of the Armistice was conducted, largely by wireless between President Wilson and the Germans. It resulted in bringing the Germans to the position that they would agree to the fourteen points stated by President Wilson as the actual terms of peace. The Allies were not satisfied with the terms of the fourteen points in regard to the restoration of territory. The Allies accordingly stated in their answer to President Wilson’s Note, dated 5 th November -
Further, in- the conditions of peace laid down in his address to Congress on 8th January, 1918, the President declared that the invaded territories must be restored, as well as evacuated and freed, and the Allied Governments feel that no doubt ought to be allowed to exist as to what this provision implies.
Now we come to the words which are responsible for the woe and misery in Europe to-day. They are -
By that they understand that compensation will bc made by Germany for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allies and their property by the aggression of Germany by land, or by sea, or from the air.
The Allies, it is clear, therefore understood that compensation was to be made by Germany for all damage done to the civilian population and to their properties by German aggression. Before that term was brought in, the only condition relating to restoration in the correspondence between President Wilson and the Germans had reference to the restoration of territory and land damage. Of course, there was very little land damage caused in Great Britain, but there was a great deal of marine damage, and that alteration in the words was therefore made. There had been a very great discussion throughout Great Britain and the world for some years before that correspondence took place between President Wilson and the Germans about the basis on which indemnities should be sought from Germany. There had been a growing feeling that Germany should be required to make reparation for the civilian damage done, but that she should not be required to pay the whole cost of the war, because it was generally recognised that that would be quite an impossible thing for Germany to do. The provision of the pre-Armistice agreement which I have quoted was generally understood to decide that the payments to be made by Germany were to cover the damage done to civilian populations and their property, and that it left out all questions of the cost of the war.
At the time the Armistice was agreed upon, tho right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), who was then Prime Minister of the
Commonwealth, was in London, and he addressed a meeting, which was reported in the London press of 15th November. In his remarks he strongly objected to the failure to consult the Dominions before the terms of peace had been arranged. There was some argument as to whether terms of peace had actually been arranged. The right honorable the Prime Minister argued very strongly indeed that there could be no doubt that the actual terms of peace had been arranged and that we were bound and limited by them. The Prime Minister passed on .to develop this argument. He went on to refer to statements that had been made that Germany should be required to pay the cost of the war. I shall now quote from the report of his speech in the London Globe of 15th November, 1918. ‘ He said -
We see, then, from these facts that there was plain talk of indemnities - both in money and in kind.
Honorable members should realize that the true meaning of indemnify is to render or keep harmless or unharmed, that is to say, the position is to be as it was before the damage was suffered. Mr. Hughes went on -
But the peace terms do not provide for indemnities as distinguished from reparation for damage done.
Mr. Hughes also remarked ;
These terms do not provide for indemnities as distinguished from compensation. They give to Belgium and France what they want; they give to Australia nothing. We have spent nearly ?300,000,000 sterling on the war; our annual obligations for pensions and repatriation will amount to millions more, and we will get nothing.
I agree with the right honorable member for North Sydney in these views which were expressed in London; but these were not’ the views for which he argued at” Paris a few weeks later. The true meaning of these words is that the Allies undertook to claim only for the repair of physical damage done, and for damage done to the civilian populations by Germany.
What was the position in England at that time? An election was immediately decided upon. Lord Northcliffe conducted a vigorous campaign along two lines. The first was that Germany should pay the full cost of the war, and the other was, “ Hang the Kaiser.” Mr. Lloyd George had a great deal of difficulty upon both points. He knew, as a practical man, how difficult it would be to hang the Kaiser. He knew, also, that probably it would not do much good if the Kaiser were hanged unless he had had a proper trial. Mr. Lloyd George knew, further, that it would be very difficult to give the Kaiser a proper trial. He was dragged up to the point of agreement by Lord Northcliffe only with a great deal of difficulty. The proposition that Germany should pay the full cost of the war was also one on which Mr. Lloyd George had to be dragged up to. the point of agreement. He pointed out in his election speeches that the cost of the war was then estimated at £24,000,000,000, and he said that before the war Germany’s whole wealth had been estimated by experts at between £15,000,000,000 and £20,000,000,000. The whole of the wealth of the land and mines and forests of Germany had been estimated before the war at less than the cost of the war. Accordingly it was ridiculous to ask Germany to pay the whole cost of the war. It was mere foolishness. It might have been a good thing as a catch-cry, but it was only an irresponsible catch-cry.
Something had to be done, however, so Mr. Lloyd George set up what he described as a Committee of Experts to consider German finance, for the purpose of determining what Germany could pay. The Chairman of the Committee of Experts on German finances was the right honorable member for North Sydney. I doi not know whether any report of that Committee’s deliberations has been published, but in a speech which will be found in the London Times of 12th December, 1918, which honorable members can look up for themselves, Mr. Lloyd George made these remarks about the Committee of Experts on German finance -
The Committee has reported, and has said, first, that Germany is much wealthier than the officials of the Government think.
There is a great deal of light and guidance in that. He went on to say -
Secondly, the Committee also report that her capacity to pay will go a pretty long way.
Then ho said himself -
It is proper to demand the whole cost of the war, but we should not exact it in such a way as to harm ourselves - the receiver - more than the payer. The Committee believes that this can be done.
On a report like that Mr. Lloyd George said he was in favour of demanding all the costs of the war from Germany.
Then the scene of the argument was shifted to Paris, and it was carried on between the two sides, one side being led chiefly by Great Britain and France, contending that all the costs of the war should be demanded, and America contending that the agreement between the Allies meant that only reparations for damage done to civilian populations and their property could be claimed. On the basis of all costs of the war, the British Empire would get a great deal more than it would receive on the basis of physical damage. On the basis of physical damage, France would get a much larger sum proportionately, but of a smaller total amount. There were many political difficulties about this. Mr. Lloyd. George and M. Clemenceau had held out such hopes to their people .that they did not feel themselves able to go before their Parliaments with a fixed amount for reparations, and so the sum was left unfixed. The sum for physical damage, according to such estimates as it was possible to make, would have been £2,500,000,000 or £3,000,000,000. What was to be done? They had, for political purposes, to ask for more than that. That is the point to which I am coming, and why I say that, in my opinion, the terms are not fair. An enormous sum was added as the capital value of pensions and separation allowances to allied soldiers and dependants. That raised the sum demanded of Germany from, let us say, £3,000,000,000 to £6,600,000,000. It is that which, so far as I can see, is creating the present impossible position, because Germany would be paying off that amount for ever. The inclusion of pensions and separation allowances was justified by the argument that the soldier became a civilian at the end of the war, and, therefore, damage done to a soldier was damage done to the civilian population of the Allies. I say that argument is unworthy of us, and the amount claimed for pensions and separation allowance ought to be abandoned. If it were abandoned, there would be a better chance of arriving at a definite settlement of this terrible reparations problem.
– Did not President Wilson agree to those terms?
– All the Allies agreed to those terms. I am not alone in my view when I say that, in agreeing to those terms, the Allies departed from the agreement they had made before the Armistice. If the claim for pensions and separation allowance was struck out from the amount claimed for reparations, a manageable sum would be left, and there would be some chance of handling it, whilst France would get proportionately much the larger share. We need not think that we are going to get much out of it if things go on as they are going at present. In the first three months of the occupation of the Ruhr, the amount of coal received by France was equal only to the amount received in one day before the occupation. On the present basis we cannot expect that we will get anything out of it with our claim to 1 per cent, of the whole sum. I know that this matter has to be considered in connexion with international debts, and that there are many aspects of it, but I do suggest that we might), even at this late stage, say that we will not claim those sums, which, I suggest, upon a fair reading of the words written by ourselves to express our own ideas and not forced upon us by any one else, are not covered by those words. If this claim were abandoned it would be an action which would do a great deal to restore confidence and good faith in the world.
It is, of course, far easier to remain silent and not deal with these thorny problems, and I have no doubt that some honorable members will think that it is impertinent that I should have spoken on this subject, and it were better to have left it alone. But I consider that if we are to have anything to say on foreign policy at all we should deal with the matter seriously and reasonably, and do our best. I am not speaking on this matter as though I were a great authority, and necessarily right. I am merely submitting my opinion for the consideration of the House, and particularly of the Prime Minister, because I think it would be not so much a fine thing as a decent and an honorable thing to give up this claim, which should never have been made, and the injustice and bad faith of which is one of the things that is rankling in Germany and elsewhere to-day. It is not a question of affording to be just. We should be just -without hesitation, hut we could also afford to be generous, and if we were generous we would be acting in our own interests. The way in which things are going on at present threatens disaster, not only to Europe, but to the world. I have said something of the effect which has already been produced in Australia by the unfortunate- condition of affairs in Europe. It might be that our Prime Minister by pressing this point of view, if he agrees with it - and I dp not’ know that he does, because I admit that it is a highly debatable matter - might make a difference, and it would be a fine thing if an Australian going to Europe could really make some contribution towards a remedy for the misery and distress of a devastated world.
.- Much has been said about the League of Nations, and the influence! that body has had on the peace of the world. T am of opinion that, great as the League of Nations undoubtedly is, we have an instrument for the preservation of peace much nearer to our hand in a union of the English-speaking peoples of the world. The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) said that at present fifty-two nations are members of the League of Nations. That in itself constitutes a very great difficulty in the carrying out of the work of that body. Were we to bring about a union of the English-speaking peoples of the world, and by that I do not mean a political union, but an understanding between the Anglo-Saxon peoples of the world, to tell the rest of the world that war must cease, war must necessarily cease, for the English speaking peoples of the world are’ sufficiently powerful financially and from a military and naval stand-point, to insist that their word shall be law. Recently a book has been published by an American, Mr. Clinto Stoddard Burr, entitled America’s Race Heritage. Unfortunately I have not been able to secure a copy of the book, and I am indebted to last week’s number of Stead’s Review for such information as I have been able to obtain concerning it. In his” book, Mr. Burr deals with the race elements’ as they are to be found in the United States of America to-day. He presents two tables, one showing the admixture of races in 1790, and the other as they existed in 1920. ‘ !
– Is the honorable . member quoting from the Australian Stead’s Review?
– The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) takes some exception to’ my authority, but I would remind him that the tables quoted are reprints from Mr. Burr’s book. I quote the following : -
Mr. Burr’s first summary, that for 1790, a year after the beginning of the nation in its present form. The following table showingthe racial stocks making up our population settles a good many questions that are a subject of racial propaganda now. In 1790 there were 2,605,699 English-Welsh, 221,502 Scotch, mostly Scotch-Irish,61,534 Irish, mostly Protestants, 170,407 Germans, mostly Protestants, 78,959 Dutch, 17,619 French, mostly Huguenots, 10,664 others. The most significant feature of this table is that America’s greatest gain from immigration up to the time of the Civil War was English. So much emphasis is laid in all discussions of immigration on the exodus that took place in the forties and fifties, Ireland and Germany, that another fact usually escapes observation, that is, that the departures from England itself, in the same period, were greater than from either of these countries. The modern period of immigration is that from1860 to 1920. In this sixty years the immigrants from Ireland were slightly more numerous than those from England, and those from Germany much more so.. What, then, are the elements which make up the American white population to-day? Mr. Burr’s final summary, showing the industrial stock for 1920. is as follows: -
Races with a contribution less than 1,000,000 omitted from tabulation above.
Of the 95,000,000 white people in the United States at present, therefore, 45,500,000 are of English descent. The present population of England is about 32,500,000; in other words, there are 13,000,000 more people of English origin in the United States than in England itself. But this is not the most pertinent fact brought out by Mr. Burr’s exhaustive researches. From the broad standpoint of ethnology, Englishmen, Scotchmen, Irishmen, Germans, French (at least northern French), Dutch and Scandinavians, form a compact, homogeneous race. Differing as they may in language and religion, we do not have to go back many ages in history to find them all members of the same ethnic family. Between their descendants to-day there is really no consciousness of racial dissimilarities or antagonisms. There are differences, of course, between an Englishman, a Scotchman, an Irishman and a German; but the differences are not deep-lying; they are rather artificial, the product of external circumstances; the distinctions do not reside in the germ-plasm, and there are no essential bars to the amalgamation of all these strains into the integrated people. Compared with the Mediterranean and Oriental races, the English, Scotch, Irish, German and Scandinavian are ethnic brothers. Probably the most stimulating fact brought out by Mr. Burr is that this group makes up 80 per cent, of the American population to-day. He thus shows that America is not a hopeless mixture of alien peoples; but that the overwhelming majority of the population belongs to a single racial group - and that a group which stands in the forefront of civilization. So long as the proportion is maintained as it is, there is no danger of that “ mongrelization “ which has caused the decay of so many nations. A people made up of the mingling of English, . Scotch, Irish, Germans and Scandinavians will not be a “ mongrel race,” but one that is of pure and homogeneous stock. This, then, is “America’s race heritage”; it is a noble one, and its preservation is the greatest obligation that rests upon the American nation.
The American people recognise that their chief responsibility lies in converting those who are aliens to them into true American citizens. The census of 1910 disclosed that there were no fewer than 5,516,000 people in the United States of America who could neither read nor write. That fact meant little or nothing to “ the man in the street “ ; probably it escaped his notice. But when the registrants came forward for the first selective draft under conscription - and with the exception of the people of Great Britain, the Americans were the only English-speaking people to accept conscription - it was found that 700,000 men were unable to sign their names. That brought home to the American people the danger of having in their midst such a large percentage of men who, being unable to write even their names, were probably unable to read. The army commanders realized the impracticability of having in the ranks large numbers of men who could not clearly understand the orders given to them, and would, therefore, be a menace to themselves and to their fellows. From that time forward, the American people accepted the obligation of seeing that those people who came to them from overseas were properly educated. To that end the Boards of Education in the principal American cities established night-schools. Those schools are financed by the citizens. Honorable members may not be aware that the State, as such, takes little interest in education beyond seeing that a certain amount of instruction is available to the boys and girls; it leaves to the counties and cities the duty of establishing such educational institutions as they deem fit. When we remember that immigrants were pouring into the United States of America at the rate of about 1,000,000 per annum for a decade prior to the war, we realize the enormous task that confronts the school teachers of that country, and that they have already done so much speaks volumes for their efficiency and enthusiasm. I stated at the outset of my remarks that the greatest influence for insuring world peace would be the closer co-operation of the English-speaking people. John Quincey Adams,’ who was one of the signatories of - the treaty signed at Ghent, at the conclusion of the British- American War in 1814, said : ‘ We have closed the doors of the Temple of Janus. May they remain, closed for 100 years.” One hundred and nine years have elapsed since that pious wish was uttered, and, during that time, Britain and America /have been at peace, notwithstanding that they have had many differences of opinion. The two peoples have much in common. Our language and literature are theirs, and that fact has been a great aid in bringing the people together. But identity of language is not without its drawbacks, for anything said in Britain or Australia in disparagement of Americans may be read by them, just as we may read anything opposed to the British people that is said in America. Including Alaska, the boundary line between America and Canada extends over nearly 4,000 miles; yet along its whole extent is not to be found one soldier or vessel of war. There is nothing to show where one country ends and the .other begins. When a dispute arose over the boundary between Maine, in the United States of America, and the province of New Brunswick, in Canada, war might easily have arisen, but, although much was at stake, both parties realized that they had far more to lose by going to war than by being deprived of some of the territory they coveted, and so the trouble was amicably adjusted. So, too, when the Oregon boundary was in dispute, throughout the United States the cry ran like wildfire, “ 54.40, or fight.”’ The Americans wanted’ the boundary fixed at a certain latitude, but the Canadians, backed by the British, were just as anxious to secure a greater portion of the wonderfully rich territory of Oregon than the Americans were willing to hand over. Ultimately each side gave way, and the issue was settled by compromise. The common sense of the British-speaking people came to the rescue, and both nations realized that they had more to gain by peaceful settlement than by war. The Alaska boundary also was settled amicably, as were the disputes over the fisheries of Nova Scotia and Behri’ng Straits. In regard to the Venezuela dispute, Britain took a stand which was regarded . by Americans as challenging the Monroe doctrine. President Cleveland and his Secretary of State (Mr. Olney) sent to Britain a sharp note, which, had it been sent to any other country, might have provoked war. The British people knew very little about Venezuela, and could not understand why the American people made so much fuss about it. While the discussion was proceeding, the Jamieson raid occurred, and the British people were incited to a high pitch of indignation by the letter of congratulation sent by the Kaiser to President Kruger. Then followed the Americo-Spanish war.1 All wrangling between Britain and America was. forgotten, and the British people stood solidly behind the United States of America. That war was no sooner ended than the South African war broke out. But the Americans had not forgotten the attitude of Great Britain during the Americo-Spanish war, and they held aloof. I may remind the House that, after Admiral Dewey captured Manila without firing a shot, he awakened ohe morning to find a powerful squadron of German warships lying between his fleet and the shore. The commander of the British squadron which was also in the harbor gave the order to- pull up anchor. He steamed in between the German and the American fleets, and dropped his anchor. When Dewey spoke to him afterwards, he said, “Blood is thicker than water.” That has been the sentiment which has pervaded the American and the English peoples during the last 109 years, and has helped to maintain peace between those two great peoples. I deprecate the expression in this House, in the Australian press, or on the public streets of this country, of any view which would tend to prevent the building up ot friendship between these peoples. There is another phase with which I wanted to deal, but I shall have an opportunity in discussing on the Budget the appointment of a Commissioner to America. I regard that as one of the most important things we have to do. The Englishman is placed at a disadvantage when he visits America. Leading Englishmen have to be very careful what they say and how they say it, because in America there is a certain element of distrust towards Britain. That is not to be wondered at. The Irish element in America has always been more or less troublesome. On a percentage basis it is not very big, but it is compact. The average Irishman takes a keen interest in the politics of his country. It has been said on many occasions that the Irish people govern every country except their own. In America that is very largely true ; they take a very keen interest in the political life of the nation. The Disestablishment Bill of 1S69, and the Home Rule Bill introduced by Mr. Gladstone in 1886, demonstrated to the Irish people in America that the people of England were not, as a whole, opposed” to Ireland, and had no desire to keep her down. So, of late years, we find that the old-time attitude towards Great Britain is changing. It still exists to some extent, however. It was my good fortune to spend seven or eight years in America, and I learned to know the” people* It is a very fine nation. No people in the world, unless it be the French, have a greater love for their country than have the Americans. The words of their National Anthem show what their country means to .them. A large percentage of the people is comprised of those who were denied all rights and privileges in their native land, and, when they went to America, they realized for the first time what it was to be the masters of their souls and the rulers of their destinies. No wonder, then, that they have learned to love that country. The Americans are an altruistic people. Honorable members will recall the fact that during the Boxer rebellion the Americans, with certain of the European nations and the Japanese, marched upon Pekin. “When the nations which had acted in concert demanded an indemnity from China, America was the only nation which turned to China and said, “ We will accept this money, but we will hand it back to you on condition that you spend the whole of it in educating your young men and women.” The average Englishman is more or less a suspect in America. Australians, however, stand in a different relation altogether to the American people, who regard us as being a nation which is passing through a stage through which they have passed. They feel that they have more in common with the people of Australia than with the people of Great Britain. For that reason an Australian can go to America and express views which would be accepted by the American people as coming from a friend ; whereas if an Englishman were to say the same things the Americans would be apt to resent it. The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) and others have said that the political centre of the world is rapidly changing, though it has not yet changed completely, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. On the shores of the Pacific Ocean, the Americans, the Canadians, the New Zealanders, and ourselves, are the sole representatives of the Englishspeaking people. It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to do all that we can to foster, friendly relations with the great nation of America. I suppose no Englishman and few Americans understand the American people better than did the late Viscount Bryce. Speaking about the feeling of friendship that existed between the American and the British people, he said -
This feeling has grown immensely stronger within the last half century, as any one whose recollection extends that far back can testify. It is a guarantee of unbroken peace for the future. May not that sense of an unbreakable peace have effects going beyond the two nations whom it blesses? They understand one another. The material interests that unite them are greater than ever before, the pride nf friendships more numerous, the reciprocal knowledge of one another more complete. Are they not naturally fitted to act together whenever their efforts can be jointly put forth on behalf of international justice and peace, confirming by their influence the good which their example has already done? They have given the finest example ever seen in history of an undefended frontier along which each people has trusted to the good faith of the other that it would create no naval armaments; and this very absence of armaments has itself helped to prevent hostile demonstrations. Neither of them has ever questioned the sanctity of treaties, or denied that States are bound by the moral law.
Be that as it may, it is, to those who are saddened by the calamities which the year i 914 has brought upon Europe, a consoling thought that the century of peace, which has raised the English-speaking peoples from 40,000,000 to 160,000,000, has created among those peoples a sense of kindliness and goodwill which was never seen before, and which is the surest pledge of .their future prosperity and progress, as well as of the maintenance of a perpetual friendship between them.
.- The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) made a very interesting speech. I agree with him to a great extent, but I entirely disagree with his concluding remarks, in which he said that the reparations should be confined to losses which were of a physical nature, and that we should not exact reparations on account of pensions and other necessary provision for our soldiers. I do not think he will find that there is in Australia much sympathy with that view. I was disappointed with what has been said in reference to preference; particularly the remarks of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann). The right honorable member for North Sydney surprised me when he appeared to put a damper on the possibilities in regard to preference. I always thought that he was warmly enthusiastic on that question. The honorable member for Perth went a very great deal further. He quite eclipsed the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), and expressed a view which was held possibly fifty years ago. According to him, we have no possibility of obtaining preference, and we do not deserve to get it. He evidently thinks that we ought not to presume to mention preference in any direction unless it is suggested to us first by the Imperial authorities. He referred to Mr. Deakin’s first propaganda, and said that Mr. Deakin would not for a moment have suggested a preference except in our own interests. He said that Mr. Deakin would not press preference on the Imperial authorities, but that he made a tour of the English provinces in order to convert the people to the idea of preference. Since then, however, there has been a great change in sentiment, largely due to the war and subsequent events. From what can be gathered from the press reports of the utterances of responsible British Ministers^ there has also been a change, particularly in the attitude of the Colonial Office, where there has grown up a distinct sympathy in favour of Dominion credits and a self-contained Empire. I know that it is not necessary to press this point on the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), who is a confirmed believer in the principle of preference, and preference is the very breath of our existence to-day. We cannot expand our productiveness without it. If we do not have British preference we shall have to negotiate preference with some other parts of the world, or see an end of productive enterprise in this country. Altogether I feel certain there is an encouraging feeling in the United’ Kingdom, and throughout the Dominions, in favour of Empire preference. The policy of migration in the United Kingdom today is based on that principle, combined with a desire to transfer the surplus population of the Old Country to the’ Dominions.
– It is not surplus, but unwanted, population.
– That is not so. There was a time in the United Kingdom when the prevailing idea was the necessity for the “ cheap loaf,” but conditions have altered. England has become a great manufacturing nation, and, in consequence of the half-insolvent, or even more than half-insolvent condition of Central Europe, the pinch has been felt, and there is not the wherewithal to employ the present population. We in Australia are among Britain’s very best customers, and it is Australia, of all the Dominions, which may expect sympathetic consideration for any request for preference. Quite apart from immigration, we may anticipate great productive expansion in. Australia in the next few years, and, as I say, the policy of Great Britain is to transfer her surplus population, thus preserving her full strength of defence within the Empire. Is it not reasonable to suppose that under the altered conditions Britain is prepared to give us privileges that we have never enjoyed before? It is true that Australia grows only 3 per cent, or 4 per cent, of the wheat of the world, but our export surplus is a very considerable proportion of the exported wheat. Some of the largest wheat countries have rapidly increasing populations, and are nearing the time when they will require all their crop for their own consumption. On the other hand, Australia will not reach that point for the next fifty or one hundred years. It would be better for the British working man to pay a small duty on wheat, which would be of enormous benefit to Australia, and make an infinitesimal difference to the price of his loaf. England would receive a growing volume of business from Australia in English manufactures, and thus make its conditions better for the artisan.
– An increase of1s. per bushel in wheat means a difference of1/4d. a lb. in the price of bread.
– The idea of the cheap loaf is completely exploded in England. However, I am not so persistent in regard to wheat, because if we have to take a lower price to-day than we have received during six or seven years past we may still get orders at a living rate. We shall always be in a sound position in regard to wool, but, so far as wheat, dairy produce, fruit, and many other products are concerned, if we do not get a preference that secures us future markets, we shall see ruin and chaos in Australia.
– There is reciprocity with Canada.
– I desire reciprocity with Canada and other countries, but we have a right to expect the most generous consideration from the United Kingdom. My own opinion is that if the facts are placed properly before the English people we shall not find much difficulty. There has been difficulty before, particularly in the Colonial Office, but recently there are evidences of encouragement from Australia. Altogether, I do not think a more golden opportunity was ever presented. A greater stumbling-block than that presented by the British Government and the British people is the large trusts and distributing companies. How is it that American meat gets into the Home markets to the exclusion of our product? We must remember that the great American Meat Trust has very close relations with the Argentine cattle trade, and that millions of British capital are invested in productive enterprises in those countries.
– If the trusts squeeze us out, they will make us “ pay through the nose.”
– It is common knowledge that recently the American Meat Trust spent large sums of money in destroying a company operating in Australia. They have spent millions to bring another big company under their operations, but they have not succeeded. If they had succeeded then it would have been a case of God help Australia, because this country would have been entirely at their mercy. These powerful financial trusts control the supply of foodstuffs and provisions generally to the people of the United Kingdom, and it can easily be understood that they would do their level best to hold back the Imperial Government from extending to us or to any other Dominion the preference which we have a right to expect. If we cannot get that preference through the Government we must organize and specialize our industries.
– Let us have solidarity.
– That flamboyant stuff will never get us anywhere except to black ruin. We must organize and specialize and our Government must take a hand in helping to get our products before the consumers of Great Britain.
– Does not the honorable member think a change of “Government would be of some use?
– Yes, with the honorable member for East Sydney as Prime Minister! Honorable members should look at this question seriously. We must do something with the big developmental works that we have in hand, otherwise black ruin will stare us in the face. We must seize time by the forelock and adopt some method for taking our productions from the fields and placing them before the consumers on the other side of the world. If the Imperial Government will not help us we must help ourselves. I am certain that our Prime Minister is the best man to represent our interests in the Old World, and I have unbounded confidence that he will be successful beyond our most sanguine expectations.
Debate (on motion by Mr. F. McDonald) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.49 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 July 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1923/19230731_reps_9_104/>.