9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chairat 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following Bills of 1923 reported : -
Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Bill.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill.
Post and Telegraph ‘Rates Bill.
Post and Telegraph Bill.
War ServiceHomes Bill.
Advances to Settlers Bill.
River Murray Waters Bill.
Sulphur Bounty Bill.
Customs Tariff Bill.
Shale Oil Bounty Bill.
Special Annuity Bill.
Tariff Board Bill.
Income Tax Bill.
Income Tax Assessment Bill.
Income Tax Collection Bill.
Land Tax Assessment Bill.
Taxation of Loans Bill.
Agreements Validation Bill.
Wheat Fool Advances Bill.
Air Force Bill.
War Precautions Act Repeal Bill.
– -I have to announce the receipt of the following correspondence in connexion with the resolution passed on the 6th August last with reference to the death of the President of the United States of America, Mr. Warren G. Harding: -
Memorandum to the Honorable the Speaker of the Houseof Representatives.
The Governor-General forwards, herewith, to the Speaker ofthe House of Representatives, a cop.v of a letter dated 12th October, 1923, which was received by the British Ambassador at
Washington from the Secretary of the Department of State, Washington, on the subject of the resolutions of theSenate and the House of Representatives relating to thedeath of the late President of the United States of America, and referred to in the Governor-General’s memorandum of 27th August last.
Forester, Governor-General .
With the Compliments of the British Embassy at Washington. 15th October, 1923.
Reference. - Melbourne despatch of 27th August, 1923.
His Excellency the Right Hon. Lord Forster, P.O., G.C.M.G.. Governor-General and CommanderinChief of the Commonwealth of Australia, Melbourne, Australia.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your note No. 865 of 5th October, 1923, with which you were so good as to transmit, at the request of His Excellency the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, two sets of extracts from the records of the Australian Parliament signed by the President of the Australian Senate and by the Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives and containing resolutions relating to the death of the late President Harding.
Thanking you for your good offices in bringing the resolutions to the knowledge of this Government, I shall be grateful if you will kindly assure the Governor-General that these evidences of the friendly regard which the legislative bodies of the Commonwealth of Australia entertained for the late President are most highly appreciated by the President and the Government of the United States.
I have directed that one set of the resolutions, together with your note, be deposited in the permanent archives of the Department of State for preservation, and 1 am forwarding the other set to Mrs. Harding, who doubtless will be no less appreciative of the friendly sympathy of the Australian Commonwealth.”
Accept, Sir, the renewed assurances of my high consideration.
– I have to announce that I have received two letters, one from the President of the Rockefeller Foundation,New York, and the other from the General Director of the International Health Board of America, acknowledging the vote of thanks passed by this House on the 25th August last for the asssistance given by the Rockefeller Foundation to the Health Board of the Australian Commonwealth.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act- Finance 1922-23 - The Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1923. accompanied by the Report of the AuditorGeneral.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Report of the Repatriation Commission for the year ending 30th June, 1923.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Commonwealth Bank of Australia - Aggregate Balancesheet and. Statement of the Liabilities and Assets of the Note Issue Department; together with the Auditor-General’s Reports thereon -
At 30th June, 1923.
At 31st December, 1923.
Norfolk Island - Report of the Administrator for the year ended 30th June, 1923.
Postmaster-General’s Department - Thirteenth Annual Report 1922-23.
River Murray (Waters Act - River Murray Commission - Report for year 1922-23.
Sugar Purchases by the Commonwealth through Mr. W. E. Davies in September and October, 1920 - Royal Commission - Report bv the Commissioner (Sir E. F. Mitchell)* 27th September, 1923.
War Service Homes Commissioner and the Government of the State of Tasmania - Memorandum of an arrangement between.
War Service Homes Commissioner - Joinery supplied to, in March, 1920 - Royal Commission - Report bv the Commissioner (Mr. II. H. Henchman),” 19th September, 1923.
Ordered to be printed.
Advances to Settlers Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 206.
Air Force Act and Defence Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 154, 199.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act -
Determinations and variations oi Determinations, by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 38 of 1923 - Line Inspectors’ Association.
No. 39 of 1923 - Commonwealth Medical Quarantine Officers’ Association.
No. 40 of 1923 - Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 41 of 1923 - Meat Inspectors’ Association.
No. 42 of 1923 - Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
No. 43 of 1923. - Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 44 of 1923. - Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 45 of 1923. - Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 40 of 1923 - Arms, Explosives, and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; Amalgamated Engineering Union; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
No. 47 of 1923 - Postal Sorters’ Union of Australia.
No. 48 of 1923 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 49 of 1923 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 50 of 1923- Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 51 of 1923- Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
No. 52 of 1923 - Australian’ Postal Linemen’s Union.
No. 53 of 1923 - ‘Line Inspectors’ Association.
No. : 54 of 1923 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 55 of 1923 - Arms, Explosives, and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia ; Amalgamated Engineering Union; and Australasian ‘Society of Engineers.
No. 50 of 1923 - Arms, Explosives, and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 57 of 1923 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
No.58of 1923 - Australian Letter Carriers”’ Association.
No. 59 of 1923- Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Audit Act -
Transfers of Amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - “Financial Year 1922-23- Dated 8th October, 1923.
Financial year 1923-24- Dated- 4th October, 1923. 14th November, . 1923. 28th November, 1923. 20th December., 1923. 16th January, 1924. 26th February, 1924. 13th March, 1924.
Regulations Amended -
Statutory “Rules 1923, No. 211.
Statutory Rules 1924, No. 3.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act -
Statutory Rules 1923,, Nos. 101, 112, 113,
127, 129, 136, 165,194, 195.
Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 8, 18, 21, 25.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Regulations Amended- ‘Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 2, 32.
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1923.
Customs Act -
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 91. 92, 119. 132, 148, 166, 193, 205.
Statutory Rules 1924, No. 20.
Proclamation relating to the Prohibition of the Exportation (except under certain conditions.) of -
Animals and ‘Skins (dated 5th December. 1923).
Birds and the Plumage, Skins, and Eggs thereof (dated 5th . December, 1923).
Cinematograp’h Films, depicting . unlawful assemblies, riots, . &c. (dated jDfch November, 1923).
Proclamation -.(.dated . 5th September, 1923) prohibiting the ‘Exportation of Seeds and Maize contained in Second-hand ‘Bags.
Proclamation (dated 21st November, 1923) revoking Proclamation . (issued : 20th Deicember, 1919) which prohibited the Ex: portation of -Cinematograph Films.
Deceased Soldiers’ Estates Act- rRegulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1924, No. 10.
Defence Act -
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 107, 115, 159r 162, 163, 170, 171, 172, 173, 179, 198, 200,:201.
Statutory Rules -1924, Nos. 9, 11, 12.
Royal MilitaryCollege- Eepor,t for 1922-23,
Electoral . Act (Commonwealth) and Electoral Act (State of Victoria) - Regulations relating -to Joint Electoral Rolls an the “State of” Victoria- Statutory Rules 1924, No. 37.
Excise Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1923, No. 150.
Statutory Rules 1924, “Nos. IB, 26, 32.
High Court Procedure Act - Rules of Court - Rules re Sittings - Dated 24bh October,. 19.23.
Immigration Act - Retiu-n for 1923.
Income Tax Assessment Act -
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules ‘1923, . Nos. 130, 176,. 177, 197.
Statutory Rules 1924, No. 23.
Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act- sSta&p- nient setting out particulars relating toapprov.al given for the use of . imported materials in the manufacture of products, upon which bounty may be paid.
Lands . Acquisition Act -
Land acquired “under, at -
Adelaide, South Australia - For Defencepurposes.
Belmore, New South Wales- : For Postal purposes.
Brinkworth, South Australia - ‘For Postal purposes.
Carnarvon, Western Australia - For Customs purposes.
Chelsea,” Victoria - iFor Postal purposes.
Cummins, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Dalwallinu, . Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Eclipse Island, near Albany, WesternAustralia - iFor Xighthouse purposes.
Erskineville, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Goomari, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Goroke, Victoria. - Fox Postal purposes.
Hampton, Victoria/ - For Postal purposes.
Heyfie’ld, Victoria - Tor Pastad ipurposes.
Kondinin, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Koorda, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Lake Boga, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Lilydale, Tasmania - For Postal purposes.
Liverpool, New South Wales - 1’or l>eFence purposes.
Mildura, Victoria - . For Postal purposes.
Mundubbcra, ‘Queensland - !Pot Postal purposes.
Northam, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Nyah West, Victoria- -Tor Postal p.uriposes.
Peninsula, Seitth, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Rose Park, South Australia- For Postal purposes.
Roseville, New South. Wales - For Postal purposes.
Sariua, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Toowong; Queenshnid! - For Pbstal purposes.
Wentworthiville, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
West Adelaide, South Australia- For Postal purposes’.
Yarrain.m, Queensland’ - For Postal, purposes.,
Heat Export Bounties Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 125.
Nationality Act - Return for year 1923.
Naval- Defence Act -
Naval Financial Regulations - Statutory Rules 1924. No. 34.
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1923, Nos-. 128, 160, 161, 202. 203, 208, 209, 210.
Statutory Ifcules 1924, Nos. 13*. 1.0,. 17,. 35. New Guinea Act -
Ordinances of 1923-
No. 31- Re-appropriation,. 1921-22.
No. 32- Land (No. 3).
No. 33 - Expropriation (No. 2).
No. 34- Mining, (No. 2).
No. 35 - Interpretation and Amendments Incorporation-.
No. 36 - Laws Repeal and Adopting..
No. 37- Supply (No. 3) 1923-24.
No. 3S- Business Titx. (Amount).
No. 39: - Companies.
No. 40 - Public Service (.No; 3)-.
No. 41- Supplv (iNo.. 4) 1923-24.
No. 42- Mining (No. 3).
No. 43- Supply (No. 5) 1923-24.
No. 44- Mining (No-. 4).
Ordinances of 1924 -
No. 1 - Laws Repeal and Adopting.
No. 2- - Native Labour.
No. 3 - Town Boundaries.
No. 4 - District Courts.
No; 5 - Companies.
No:6- SuppLy (No. 6) 1923-24.
No. 7- Land.
No. 8- Supply (No. 7) 1923-24.
Norfolk Island’ Act-
Ordinances of 1923: -
No: 6 - Melaneaian Mission Lands (No. 2).
No. 7 - Slaughtering.
No.8 - Administration.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and
Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1923’ -
No. 12- Health.
No. 13 - Darwin T6wn Council (No. 3).
No. 14 - Slaughtering:
No. 15 - Contracts:.
No. 16 - Brands-.
No. 17- Dbg.
No.18 - Government Hospital’s.
No. 19 - Dihgc Destruction.
No. 20 - Police and Police Offences.
Not 21 - Workmen’s Compensation.
Ordinances ofi 1924 -
No.1 - Opium. Smoking Prohibition.
No.2 - Slaughtering.
No. 3 - Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement).
No. 4 - Workmen’s- Compensation.
No. 5- Health.
No.6 - PoisonB.
No. 7 - Tin Dredging.
Northern1 Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory Crown Lands Act 1890 (South Australia”) - Proclamation resuming Reserve in the- Hundred of Bagot, Northern Territory.
Papua; Act -
Ordinances- of 1923 -
No. 4 - British New Guinea Development Company Limited.
No. 5 - Customs (Export) Tariff.
No. 6 - Supply, 1923-24.
No. 7 - Pearl, Pearl-shell, and Bechedeiner.
No. 8 - Registration of Firms.
No.9 - Navigation.
No. 10 - Dangerous Drugs.
No. 11 - Supplementary Appropriation (,No> 2)… 1922,23-.
No. 12 - Appropriation’,. 1923-24.
No. 14 - Companies;
No. 15 - Customs- (.Export) Tariff (No. 2,),
No. 16 - Maintenance- (Dudera (Facilities for Enforcement) .
Ordinances of 1924 -
No. 1 - Mineral Oil and Coal-.
No. 2- Mineral” Oil and Coal (No. 2 )
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations
Statutory Rules. 1923, Nos. 116’, 117, 118, 122,. 123,. 143,. 144, 157, 158) L78-, 191, 192.
Statutory Rules 1924,. Nos. 4, 5, 0, 14, 15, 22, 41, 42, 43’, 44.
Public Service. Act -
List of Permanent Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service,, as on. 30th June, 1923.
Appointments - Department of -
N.. P. P. Webbe.
Drs. P. J. Campbell, R. Y. Mathew, and E. A. Richards.
Dr. R. W. Cilento, L. E. Cooling, and Dr. A. I-I.. Baldwin,
Home said Territories -
Dr. W. 0;. Duffield”.
Trade and. Customs: -
Works and Railways -
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 126, 137, 138, MS’, 140, 168, 190’i- 207, 2 IE
Statutory Rules 1924, No. 7.
Railways Act - By-law No. 27.
Seat of Government Acceptance- Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Ordinances of- 1923 -
No. 7 - Leases.
No. 8 - iSeat of Government Railway.
No. 9 - Trespass on Commonwealth Lands (No. 2).
No. 10 - Trespass) on Commonwealth Lands (No. 2).
Shale Oil Bounty Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1923, No. 140.
Sulphur Bounty Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 149.
Superannuation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 167.
Trading with the Enemy Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory” Rules 1923, No. 189.
Treaties; of Peace (Austria and Bulgaria) Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 152. 153.183. 184, 185, 186, 187,188.
Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 27,28.
Treaty of Peace Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1924, No. 31.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1923. Nos. 151,180, 181, 182.
Statutory Rules 1924. No. 46.
Treatv of Peace (Hungary) Act - Regula tions-Statutory Rules1924, No. 29.
War Service Homes Act -
Land acquired under, in -
New South Wales, at - Bega, Coogce, East Maitland, Nowra, Richmond, Rose Bay, Waleha, Waverley, Wollongong, Yass.
Declaration by War Service Homes Commissioner of the Revocation of Notification of the Acquisition of Land, Richmond, New South Wales.
War-time Profits Tax Assessment Act - Rules -Statutory Rules 1923, No. 142.
Construction ofships for the Lighthouse Service.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether any decision has yet been arrived at in reference to the- construction of ships for lighthouse services, and whether or not they arc to be constructed at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard.
– I have to inform the honorable member that a tender has been accepted for the construction of two lighthouse steamers, and that the lowest successful tender received was from the Commonwealth Shipping’ Board. Cockatoo Island. That should please the honorable member, who has been very persistent in pressing this matter.
– Having regard to the necessity for the wire netting which the Commonwealthhas generously made available to settlers being placed speedily in their hands, in order to check the ravages of rabbits in Western Australia and other States, will the Minister for Trade and Customs give the House an assurance that he will urge the distribution of the material as quickly as possible ?
– I am impressing upon the State Governments the necessity for expediting the issue of the wire netting to the settlers for whom it is intended. I have communicated with the Governments of several States from which no applications have been received. Application forms have been sent out, but I remind the honorable member, that the expeditious distribution of the wire netting rests with the State Governments. All that the Commonwealth Government has to do is to concur in the applications and provide the money with which to purchase the netting.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement recently published in the press that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is in receipt of numerous communications from the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and that the Imperial Prime Minister consulted the Leader of the Opposition before arriving ata decision in regard to the Singapore Naval Base? Are direct communications from the Prime Minister of Great Britain to the Leader of the Opposition in the Commonwealth Parliament in accordance with constitutional procedure? If not, does the Prime Minister of Australia intend to take any action to protest against the adoption of that course?
– I saw the report to which the honorable gentleman has referred, but I did not for one moment believe that it could have any foundation in fact. I have met Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, and I am confident- that he would never officially communicate with any political leader other than the head of the Government in any self-governing Dominion. Besides, our party relations here are not such that they can interfere with the Australian attitude of all parties on all external public questions. Whatever our party differences in Australia we have no official cognisanceof parties outside the Commonwealth. I am so confident that Mr. Ramsay
Macdonald would not adopt tlie course that has been suggested, and that the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament (Mr. Charlton) would not acquiesce in it were it adopted, but would insist that all official communications from the Government of Great Britain should be sent to the head of the Government of the Commonwealth, that I attach no importance to the newspaper report.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. It has been my pleasant custom to carry on a very useful correspondence with certain gentlemen who are now members of the British Cabinet, including the Prime Minister (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), in the spirit of one pacifist to another, and as one holding views similar to those held by the distinguished gentlemen who have now come into their own.
– Great minds think alike.
– After the state ment which has been made to-day by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) concerning the proper channel through which correspondence of this kind should go, I shall make it my business to see that all such letters are placed in the hands of the head of the Commonwealth Government. This Course will, I think, be of great advantage to the Ministry and the country generally.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House of the total dost of the Australian Delegation to the Imperial and Economic Conferences?
– I hope to be in a position to do so in the course of a few days. The fullest information will be given to the House when it is available.
– Has the Prime Minister noticed a newspaper report that a certain Dr. Biederwolf, an itinerant foreigner, has made certain statements from a public platform in Sydney, impugning the character and behaviour of the womenfolk of Australia? Will the right honorable gentleman take whatever steps may be necessary to prevent such insults being publicly offered in Australia to our people by perambulating preachers anxious for notoriety ?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member has referred, but I have sufficient knowledge of the men of Australia to leave to them the responsibility for seeing that such statements are not repeated.
– On 12th July last, this House, by thirty-seven votes to twelve, adopted the following motion, which I had submitted: -
That His Excellency the Governor-General be respectfully requested to summon the first meeting of the Tenth Parliament at the Federal Capital, Canberra.
I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether that resolution has been conveyed to His Excellency the Governor-General ?
– I am not familiar with the records relating to the matter, but I shall consult them, and report to the House at a later stage.
– If there is truth in the published report that the Treasurer is responsible for delaying the finalization bf the arrangements for the unification of Federal and State electoral rolls in New South Wales, will he inform the House of the reasons for his attitude?.
– The answer to the honorable gentleman’s question is in the negative.
– When the Prime Minister was in England recently - I am informed that he was there - did he ascertain whether or not the Amalgamated Wireless Company had secured the erection of those reciprocal stations in Britain which it had to get erected under the agreement it made with the Commonwealth Government? If the company has not done so, and seeing that the time for so doing has been extended several times, does the right honorable gentleman intend to cancel the agreement?
– I think the honorable gentleman will agree that these questions might very well have been placed on the notice-paper, because they are not urgent. In order to satisfy him at once the answer to both questions is “ No.” Thecompany has not obtained a licence yet, and at present the Government do not propose to take action to cancel the agreement’.
– When can the House expect a report from the Commission which was appointed by the Prime Minister prior to his departure for England to make a report regarding expropriated properties in the Mandated Territories?
– I understand that the report was expected two or three weeks ago,, but it has not yet come to hand. It should be received any day now.
Head-Hunting A llegations.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories been called to a report that appeared in the London Graphic of8th December last, which contains an account of Captain Hurley’s recent exploration in NewGuinea. The report reads -
The victims of a head-hunting raid.. when taken alive, are placed in screened structures, which are so jealously regarded by them that few dare to approach them. In order that the unfortunate wretches can by no possibility escape unaided, their legs and arms are cruelly broken. The following morning, the victims are brought to slaughter,” after which their bodies are cut up and seasoned with minced . cocoanut, preparatory to being put into the pot for a cannibal feast. As has been said, the “ Sambios “ arc not alone in this hideous custom. In war time, especially, it was widely, if not universally, practised on the island, and must still be prevalent in those wild regions where the influence of civilization has not yet penetrated. The “ Sambios “ are located 250 miles upthe . Fly River in our Territory.
Willthe Minister for Home and Territories look Into this matter, so that an early contradiction may be made if the statement be untrue?
– In the absence of the Minister representing the Minister for Homo and Territories, I will undertake to bring the ‘honorable member’s question under the notice of the ‘Minister.
Remission of Duties
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs place upon the table of the House all the papers in connexion with the remission of certain duties on the materials required for the construction of the North Shore bridge?
– Yes, I shall be pleased to give the fullest information.
Proposed Transfer to Repatriation Board
– Can the Treasurer tell us whether it is a fact -that the oldage and invalid pensioners of Australia are tobe handed over to. the tender mercies of the . Repatriation Board? If so, can hegive any reason for such a decision ?
– If the honorable member will wait, the Government policy on this matter will be announced later.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he can tell us how many more years we shall have to wait for . a statement of Government policy, seeing -that it is about, twelve months since we had one ?
– I suggestto the honorable member that he should guess again.
Report by Prime Minister.
– In the speech which the Prime Minister intends -tomake to the House on the Imperial ‘Conference, does he propose to make a general report under cover of a motion ? Will a specific motion be submitted to . the House before we rise for the Easter adjournment?
– I propose to snake a statement, and to propose to the House a motion dealing with the matters which will not be subject to subsequent legislative action, or will arise in connexion with the Estimates or other “financial proposals of the Government. The only matters “that are really in that category are ‘those -of foreign relations, defence, ratification and signature of trearties, Imperial preference, and the Economic Committee. With regard to those matters the Government proposes to move a motion.
– Prior to the Easter adjournment ?
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories lay on the table of the House allthe papers relating to the charges laid against Messrs. Cousins and Euston in connexion with alleged breaches of the Electoral Act during the last Federal elections ?
Mr.STEWART. - I will bring the request under the notice of the Minister for Home and Territories with a view to doing . as the honorable member desires.
Subsidy to Mr. Francis Birtles
– Can the Prime Minister tell us whether it is a fact that the Commonwealth Government intends to subsidize Mr. Francis Birtles up to an amount of £2,000, and to place two aeroplanes at his disposal with the object of his ‘making an exploration of Central Australia? If so, will the Prime Minister give the House an assurance that the matter will be placed before honorable members before a final decision is reached ?
– I have no knowledge of any suggestion such as that mentioned by the honorable member. I can assure him that any decision will be placed before the House for ratification, but I cannot give him an assurance that the Government will do nothing in . the ordinary administration if funds are provided for the particular purpose.
– Has the attention of the Prime Ministerbeen directed to criticism made in the British House of Commons concerning the employment of Chinese labour at Nauru, and will he insure the maintenance ofthe White Australia principle at that island by the employment of white labour?
– Might I point out to the honorable member that questions without notice are asked on matters so urgent as to warrant an immediate reply. I suggest to the honorable member that he does not appreciate the grave importance of the question he has asked, and that he should pay it the compliment of putting it on the notice-paper.
Christmas Holiday Pay
– Referring to the action of the Commonwealth Shipping Board in depriving workmen at Cockatoo Island Dockyard of their Christmas holiday pay, will the Prime Minister take steps to instruct the Board to pay those workmen for such holidays in the same way as the Government paid the “ top dogs “ in all Departments ?
– I have no knowledge of what happened to the “ top dogs,” but I shall certainly look into the matter.
– For the information of the public and the press, will the Treasurer inform the House of the amount of money that he has received under the War Gratuity Loan?
– All the amounts have not yet ‘been received, but as soon as the figures are to hand I shall inform the honorable member of them.
– Did the New South Wales State Government officially refuse permission to burn publicly war bonds in Martin Place, Sydney?
– I have no official knowledge of any such refusal.
– I wish to question the Minister for Defence in his capacity of Admiral of the Australian Fleet. It is proposed to sink H.M.A.S. Australia, and I wish to know from the Admiral of the Australian Fleet whether he is going to follow the best traditions of -the British Navy and ‘of the Britishmercantile marine by sticking to the ship and going down with it?
– I shall refer the matter to the Admiral, and I am sure that the best traditions of the British Navy will be followed on the occasion of the sinking of H.M.A.S. Australia.
Group Settlement in Australia.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Whether he will give full particulars of each tender for the locomotives about to be purchased?
– When certain negotiations have been finalized it is proposed to lay the papers on the table of the Library.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
It is desirable to add that the advances and fixed deposits have been greatly reduced, as shown in the following table: -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
On the sinking of H.M.A.S. Australia off Sydney Heads next month -
Service in Sydney and employees at Cockatoo Dockyard and at Garden Island Naval Establishment be granted the necessary leave to witness this event?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Howse with regard to the Spahlinger cure for tuberculosis is available?
– No report has yet been received from Sir Neville Howse.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– No recent application by Mr. Tom Mann for a passport has been received . from the Imperial authorities.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice - .
– Preliminary meetings of the Committee have been held, which were devoted to the consideration of its powers and responsibilities and to the discussion of certain cases. Now that Parliament has resumed sitting steps will be taken to convene an early meeting of the Committee to enable them to deal with specific cases which are awaiting their attention.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Mr. MANN ashed’ the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What was the amount of sulphuric acid produced, and the amount of bounty paid thereon since the passing of the Sulphur Bounty Actlast year ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Bounty is paid on the sulphur equivalent of the sulphuric acid produced, calculated on a prescribed formula. Quantity of sulphur thus produced,, 2,501,426 tons; amount of bounty paid; £5,628 4s.
Division of Per Capita Payments
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the special advantages accruing to certain of the States comprising the Commonwealth and the. heavy losses accruing to Western Australia owing to the operations of the Tariff, will he favorably consider the ap- pointment of on expert Commission to. investigate and report to the Parliament as to the effect of the Tariff’ on the finances and resources of” the several States, so that an equitably division- of. the per capita payments, or such otherfinancial assistance as may be made by the Commonwealth to the States, may be made with equity and justice to all the States?
– The suggestion of the honorable gentleman will receive the full consideration of the Government.
asked the Minister for Trade and. Customs, upon notice -
– The in formation is being obtained. export OF apples.
asked the Minister for Trade and’ Customs, upon notice - 1 Is it a fact that his Department gazetted regulations providing for the export of apples from. Australia?.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The, answers to. the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What steps, if any, have been taken with a view to the conversion of Victoria Barracks Sydney, into a residential area?
– A conference was held between the Minister for Home and Territories, Senator Pearce, the Minister for Works of New South Wales, Mr. Ball, and myself in reference to this matter. The whole “ question was fully discussed, and the views of both Governments considered. As an outcome of this conference steps are being taken to ascertain what accommodation would be required by the Department, and whether suitable sites are available.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether any decision has yetbeen reached regarding : -
The extension of the provisions of the Superannuation Act to all members of the permanent forces.
Increased pay and improved conditions of service for members of the permanent naval and military forces ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s’ question is as follows: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will take steps to secure the earmarking for returned soldier-settlers of the money authorized to be advanced to the several States for the purchase of wire netting?
– The object of the Advances to Settlers Act is to assist needy settlers. Returned soldiers, who may be needy settlers, will, of course, participate. The distribution was fixed by Parliament to be left in the hand’s, of State Governments, who either recommend or decline to do so.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Mr. BRUCE (for Mr. Atkinson).The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Barrier “Daily Truth” Messages - Mail Letter-boxes - Lakemba Post Office - Applications for Telephones.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– In reply to questions 1 and 3, inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as soon as possible. 2. No.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the now regulations regarding the expediting of the delivery of mails, and the large number of letter-boxes required, willhe take steps to supply same of standard quality and sizes, or take steps to sec that the people are supplied with boxes of a reasonable standard at a fair charge?
– The Department is not in a position to undertake the supply of letter-boxes to the public, and it is not the intention to insist that a certain type of box shall be installed. It is required, however, that the box provided shall be so designed as to enable mail matter to be expeditiously deposited therein. The printed notice which will shortly be issued to those persons who will be required to provide letter-boxes contains a diagram of a suitable box,, and information as to where a box of that type can be obtained, and the cost, will be furnished to persons’ making inquiries.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the PostmasierGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will supply a return showing -
– The information asked for is being prepared, and a reply will be furnished as early as possible.
– I ask leave to make a statement with regard to matters arising out of the Imperial Conference and Economic Conference of 1923.
– Before leave is granted I should like to have a clear understanding with regard to the question which I asked the Prime Minister earlier in the day. His answer was not as clear as I would like it to be. I asked him if he intended to make his report under cover of resolutions which he now proposes to submit, and further, would a specific resolution covering the Conference proposals be placed before honorable members before the House rises for the Easter adjournment. His answer on this subject was not quite clear to me.
– I am sorry I did not make myself quite clear to the honorable, member. What I wished to convey to him. was that the statement would be made on leave to introduce the resolutions without notice, and that the resolutions, would deal- with questions which would not subsequently come up for consideration in this House at all. Those questions cover foreign relations, negotiation, signature and ratification of treaties, defence, Imperial preference, and the Imperial Economic Committee. After I have made this statement I shall submit a motion for the printing of the paper. This will give honorable members an opportunity for a general discussion upon subjects arising out of the Imperial Conference, and particularly upon foreign relations, ratification and signature of treaties and defence.
– The Prime Minister will ask the House by means of specific resolutions to deal with certain proposals ?
– That is what the Government propose to do.
– Prior to leaving Australia as its representative at the Imperial and Economic Conferences, I gave an undertaking to this House that it would be called together as soon as possible after my return in order that I might present a report upon my actions while away, and enable the House to consider the questions raised at the Conference. The meeting of the House within three weeks of my return, I think carries out my undertaking to the fullest possible extent. It is now my task to outline the subjects considered at the two Conferences, and to indicate to honorable members the attitude I took as the representative of Australia. The task on this occasion is a simpler and an easier one than it has been in connexion with previous Imperial Conferences, because on the present occasion there has been very much greater publicity given to the proceedings. The whole of the proceedings of the Economic Conference were published within two or three days. I have no doubt, therefore, that honorable members are generally familiar with everything that took place at that Conference. With regard to the Imperial Conference, publicity was given to all matters other than those which were of such a character- as to make it impossible that publicity should be given to them. . They concerned foreign relations and defence, and honorable members will agree that the Conference could not survey the world’s position, and discuss, as representatives of the different parts of the Empire, questions affecting foreign nations, and immediately give full publicity to the discussion. That might have had an unfortunate effect on the world’s peace, which we all so much desire to promote. So far as was possible, however, full publicity was given to the work of die Imperial Conference. In this respect there had been a great and a desirable advance upon previous Conferences. We cannot hope to gain true authority for an Imperial Conference, or any similar body, unless the whole of the people know what it is doing, and understand its actions.” I think that the course followed in this instance will add materially to the prestige and position of the Imperial Conference. It is impossible for me, within the limits of any single speech to cover the whole of the questions which were under discussion, and it is not necessary that I should attempt to do so, because a great number of them will come up for subsequent consideration by this House, either when legislation has to be introduced, or during the annual consideration pf our finances. To-day, therefore, I propose to confine myself solely to those questions which will not be the subject-matter of future discussion in this House.
At the outset there are one or two observations of a general character which I desire to make with regard to the Conferences I attended. Imperial Conferences are held in order to enable the representatives of tlie different parts of the Empire to meet and .consider questions of mutual interest. Some people appear to have a little difficulty in’ understanding that there should be any questions of mutual interest to Britain and the great self-governing Dominions of the Empire, but the briefest consideration should enable us to realize that these must ever arise, if only by reason of th*.< fact that internationally we are one people. The people of Britain and of the self-governing British Dominions are, in the eyes of other nations, one and indivisible. So long as we remain in that position, it is inevitable that there will be questions of mutual interest which will necessitate some form of consultation. Many suggestions have been made as to the form of consultation which should be adopted. We have heard of Imperial Parliaments and of Imperial Cabinets. I am glad to- be able to say, from my observations while away, that neither in Great Britain nor in any of the British Dominions is there any substantial body of opinion in favour of either Imperial Parliaments or Imperial Cabinets. Such institutions are, of course, quite repugnant to us in Australia, and we would never willingly assent to anything of that character. From my observations, I believe that the views we hold on this subject are now held generally in Great Britain and in the other oversea Dominions of the Empire. The Imperial Conference is at present the method by which we secure the consultation necessary for the different parts of the Empire. It is, I think, working as well as a body of its character can be expected to work. From my observation of it, and from the information I obtained from representatives of other oversea Dominions, I am of the opinion that the Imperial Conference is the most satisfactory means by which we can secure the necessary consultation. The strength of the Imperial Conference lies in the fact that it is purely a consultative body. The representatives of the different parts of the Empire meet to discuss questions of mutual interest, but have no authority whatever to bind the self-governing Dominions they represent. The recommendations of the Conference, however, because of the nature of its discussions and the representative status of its members, should carry great weight, but they are not binding upon any -part of the Empire until they have received the sanction of its Parliament and people. I stress this point, because I understand that I have been accused by a distinguished member of this House of expressing an entirely different view. I can assure honorable members that any such statement is quite contrary to fact. After the change of Government took place in Great Britain, suggestions were made by many newspapers in Great Britain, and by one, if not two, of the representatives of the oversea Dominions, that the new British Government was bound to give effect to the proposals of the Conference. I was the first of the oversea Dominions’ representatives to absolutely repudiate that idea, and to say that we would not support any such contention, as it was quite opposed to our view of the character and authority of the Imperial Conference. I felt that I must clear away the suggestion that I held the view that either Great Britain or Australia was bound by the recommendations of the Conference. I never expressed any opinion of the kind.
With regard to the Imperial Conference, and the way in which it works, I shall net delay the House. I wish only to say that at the last Conference the number of representatives present was increased by one - by the inclusion of the representative of the Irish Free State. It is tobe hoped that the presence of the representative of the Irish Free State at a gathering of this character of representatives of free peoples fully alive to their rights, may be an augury for a brighter and happier future for that country, whose circumstances have so long been tragic.
Before I deal with concrete matters, one point which I desire to stress is the fundamental basis of the whole of the discussions which took place. After we had met and had reviewed the world’s circumstances as we saw them, it was deemed essential, in the interests of Great Britain and the Dominions, and the whole world that the British Empire should act as one and united. That was the fundamental basis of the discussions at the Imperial Conference. I, as thu representative of Australia, subscribed to that view. In doing so I believed that I was representing the views of an overwhelming majority of the people of this country. Having taken that attitude as Australia’s representative, and now having come back to make my report to Parliament, I suggest that if there are any honorable members who dissent from that view, and do not believe that it is fundamental and vital to the interests of our country that the British Empire should continue, and that we should remain a part of it, they, in fairness to this House, to their constituents, and to the whole of the people of Australia, should make their position abundantly clear during the course of this discussion .
– The matter ha3 never been in doubt in this country.
– One other point to which I wish to refer in connexion with the Imperial Conference is the necessity for the holding of such Conferences at as frequent intervals as possible. It would be desirable that a Conference should be held every year, but for the fact that the different parts of the Empire are scattered over the seven seas. They should certainly be held at least every two years. It is important that there should be more continuity between the holding of these Conferences. At the present time a secretariat is really brought into being for each Imperial Conference. It is a secretariat responsible to the Conference as a whole, but responsible also to a British Department. That places the great self-governing Dominions of the Empire in a wrong position. They should have a secretariat responsible, not to the
British Government, or to any British Department, but to the whole of the selfgoverning parts of the Empire. We have a very admirable example of what is required in the War Graves Commission, which is functioning at the present time. That body is not responsible to any one part of the Empire. It draws its finances and personnel from all parts of the Empire, and is responsible to the Prime Ministers of every one of the self-governing Dominions and of Great Britain. That is a better position, and one which 1 suggest would be more appropriate to the prestige and position of each of “ the self-governing Dominions represented at an Imperial Conference. It would further have the advantage that it would give continuity between such Conferences, so that on subjects discussed and questions raised there would be continuity between the proceedings of successive Conferences, and one would not have to begin again something which had reached a definite stage as the result of the proceedings of an earlier Conference. I believe there is some prospect that in the near future a secretariat of that character, entirely free of control and interference by any British Department, will be established. At the last Conference the time was not quite ripe for such a development, but the indications were that very soon some such change would be brought about.
– What would be the size of the secretariat?
-It would be quite a small body, consisting probably of one representative from each of the Dominions. I have said that it is for any honorable member who dissents from my view regarding the necessity, in the interests of Australia, for the continuance of the British Empire, to express his opinion. I suggest, also, that in the discussion of this subject honorable members should ‘ bear in mind that questions of foreign relations and finance are on a different plane from the ordinary matters that concern party politicians. During the whole period of my absence, I endeavoured to forget that I belonged to any party, and I tried to state the opinion of the Australian people as a whole. In the. speech I am making to-day I am again trying to maintain that attitude, and I ask honorable members who address themselves to the motion to follow that lead by keeping these questions of transcendental importance above all considerations of party politics and party advantage.
The first subject with which I shall deal is Foreign Affairs. Prior to my departure from Australia, I made it perfectly clear that I proposed to state, when in Great Britain, that Australia desired to be consulted upon all matters affecting the Empire’s foreign policy. At the outset, it is fundamentally necessary to discover whether, when I made that claim, I wa3 representing the view of the Australian people. I believe that is their view. At any rate, it was clearly the view of this Parliament .before I departed for London. I left room for no conceivable doubt regarding the attitude I would adopt, and what I said was indorsed by this House. If, however, any honorable members consider that I have misrepresented Australian opinion, it is their duty to explain to the country not only why they do not agree with my contention, but also how they propose that Australia should avoid, incurring the obligations resulting from a misguided foreign policy that might be pursued by Great Britain. The first reason I gave for Australia’s desire to be consulted in regard to foreign policy was that we are a peaceloving people, and wish to exert all our influence for peace. I pointed out that we live in a new country, separated by many thousands of miles from the ancient hatreds and strife which have marred European civilization through the centuries; and I suggested that possibly we look at these matters from a point of view different from that of those who have ever lived in the atmosphere of suspicion and hatred which prevails in Europe. Furthermore, we made great sacrifices in the late war in trying to insure that in future the nations of the world should be able to live at peace with one another. Having that end so’ much at heart we were desirous that our voice should be heard and our influence felt in the determination of the foreign policy of the commonwealth of British communities, whose influence for peace is greater than that of any other nation in the world. Apart from those high moral grounds, I emphasized, also, the obligations which might be imposed upon us as a consequence of a misguided British foreign policy. To the Imperial Conference I explained very fully that Australia became embroiled in the late -war because of a treaty guaranteeing the .integrity of Belgium - a document of the existence of which probably not halfadozen persons in the Commonwealth were previously aware. I said that we were determined not to remain in a position where we could become involved in another war, in which we might have to sacrifice everything, without a full knowledge of the circumstances that had brought it upon us. It may be contended that we could free ourselves from any obligations that might arise as the result of Great Britain’s foreign policy. With that contention I cannot agree; it appears to me to be founded upon a misconception of the existing relations of the British Empire. It is perfectly true that inside the Empire each Dominion is absolutely free and independent. If there is any liberty of action which we have not got, and really desire, we have only to ask for it, and it will be granted to us. But, internationally, Australia is not free and independent. During my travels abroad I conversed with many foreigners, including Frenchmen, Belgians, and Italians, and I did not meet one who had even the vaguest conception of the idea that the peoples of the several Dominions were separate nations, each entitled to follow the path of its own choice with absolute freedom and independence. To all foreign nations the British Empire is one and indivisible, and it is useless for us to hope that in the event of hostilities arising as a result of a misguided British foreign policy, the Australian people could stand aside and say that they had no part in the quarrel. Tt is perfectly true that we claim for this Parliament the right to Heclare whether Australia is or is not at war, and theoretically that claim is soundly based ; but in practice we must have regard to the view that would be taken by any nation with which Great Britain might be in conflict. If that nation were in a position to strike a blow at Australia, which is the brightest gem in the British crown, it would not hesitate to do so in order to injure the might and prestige of the Empire. There is also our large overseas trade to be guarded. Do honorable members think that any foreign nation which was at war with Great Britain would honour our claim to neutrality if we were shipping overseas goods that were of advantage to Great Britain % Not for a moment would it listen to such a claim. But another attitude might be adopted by Britain’s enemy, and that would be even more disastrous to Australia and the Empire. If the enemy obtained command of our seas, and its ships appeared o£E our harbors, we might say, “ You can do us no harm; we are neutral.” The foreigner might reply, “We will recognise your neutrality, but you must allow us to enter your harbors to see that Great Britain derives no advantages from its kinship to you.” Do honorable members think that a proud people, such as the Australians are, “would for a moment consent to such a demand? We would not listen to it. Therefore, we cannot avoid the obligations that devolve upon us while we remain inside the British Empire, as it is constituted to-day. Any honorable member who holds that we could avoid them must explain to the people of this country that the only course we could adopt to that end would be to get out of the British Empire. So long as we are part of the Empire we cannot escape our responsibilities. If’ any honorable member says that Australia has no concern in Britain’s foreign policy, and that to ask that Australia should have a voice in the framing of it is Imperialism run mad, I ask him to be honest and explain to the people that we cannot avoid the consequences of our membership unless we get outside the Empire. And if any honorable gentleman thinks that Australia should leave the Empire let him say so, and let us know exactly where we stand. It is necessary that I should explain this position very carefully, because I have been making certain claims on behalf of Australia. I wish to let the House know exactly what I have been saying, so that honorable members may have the opportunity of saying whether I was right or wrong.
Having claimed the right to be consulted in regard to foreign policy, we have to consider how we. can be consulted, and what action we can take to give effect to the views we hold. The framing of a general policy is quite practicable when an Imperial Conference is sitting.
The assembled representatives of all parts of the Empire can consult together and arrive at the general lines of a foreign policy, which they can submit to their respective Parliaments for indorsement. But . Imperial Conferences are not always in session, and out of that fact difficulty arises. The framing of a foreign policy on general lines was exhaustively discussed at the Conference from which I have just returned, and it was discussed immediately we met because we were confronted with all the problems which the world is facing to-day. Peace seemed almost further away from the ‘world than ever. Every nation seemed to be piling up armaments, and a serious economic situation faced almost every country. Naturally, we directed our minds to these problems to see whether there was anything that Ave could do by expressing our collective and united voice to aid in promoting the world’s peace. As a result of our discussion, we were all agreed upon the basic principle which should govern the Empire’s foreign policy. That basic principle was the promotion and maintenance of the peace of the world. The method by which the Conference believed this could best be accomplished was to maintain a united British Empire and the closest possible relationship between the great English-speaking nations of the world, and to give the greatest possible support to the League of Nations, thus insuring its power and prestige in the world. With these views I do not think any honorable gentleman here will in any way disagree. I assure them that these were the underlying ideas of the whole discussion upon the Empire’s foreign policy. In addition to discussing these general principles, it was necessary for us to consider the world’s problems as they are to-day, and to see what was the proper course” for us to pursue with regard to them. All these questions were dealt with in an exhaustive statement which was made by the Foreign Secretary. That statement was really a summary of the world happenings since the last Conference met in 1921. It dealt with tha great outstanding world problems, and it was very fully debated. Parts of it were immediately published in the press. That was a very pleasing precedent; I believe it was the first occasion on which any part of the Foreign Minister’s statement to an Im- perial Conference had been published. Some parts of it, of course, could not be published. Those parts dealt with our relations with other nations, which, naturally, we had to discuss and consider with the utmost frankness. At times things were said the publication of which would not have tended to a closer relationship with some of the nations of the world. In addition to tlie statement which was made by the Foreign Secretary, and -part of which was published, there was also the resume contained in the printed state- ment that has been handed to honorable members. I propose now to amplify that statement to some extent with regard to one or two of the larger questions which occupy the international sphere to-day.
I shall deal first with reparations and the occupation of the Ruhr. No problem is standing so much in the way of insur-ing peace to Europe and the restoration of the economic situation as the question of reparations and the present occupation by the French of tlie Ruhr. These matters were fully debated from every angle. All the members of the Conference tried to contribute something to the discussion of the course to be adopted with a view to ending a situation which nobody can regard with anything but the gravestmisgivings. The difficulty of the question, of course, is that it is based on the reparation provisions of the Versailles Treaty. It is also complicated because the Allies themselves have never been able to cometo a real agreement on the capacity of Germany to pay. I will briefly outline to the House the history of the reparations question. In January, 1921,. a Conference was held in Paris at which representatives of the Allies came to the conclusion that Germany could pay £11,300,000,000 in reparations. The amount was to be payable in forty-two annuities, beginning with £100,000,000 a year and rising gradually to £300,000,000 a year. A’t the end of April, 1921,. a Reparations Commission, which had been intrusted with, the task of determining Germany’s capacity to pay, made a finding that the amount was £6^600,000,000. I ask honorable members to consider the difference between the January and the April figures. On 5th May, 1921, a schedule of payments was submitted to a Conference in London, and was agreed to by Germany, so that at that time we appeared to have reached a basis for reparations which was acceptable to Germany. For some time Germany made the stipulated payments, but towards the end of 1921 and early in 1922 difficulties arose, and the Reparations Commission granted a partial moratorium to Germany. Germany was not prepared to accept that, but claimed a full moratorium until the end of 1924. During the whole of 1922 arguments and discussions continued about whether there should bc a moratorium, and, if so, for what period. In December, 1922, Germany having failed to make her payments, the Reparations Commission reported her for voluntary default in meeting her reparation obligations. The Commission was required to do this under the Treaty. That was the most critical period in the whole situation. In January, 1923, a conference of representatives of the Allies was held in Paris to try to find some way out of the difficulty. At that time the British and French representatives took totally different views of the situation. Mr. Bonar Law, representing Great Britain, made a proposal that the total reparation payments should be reduced from £6,600,000,000 to £2,500,000,000, and he undertook that if that were accepted Great Britain would cancel the war debts owing to her by France and Italy. Unfortunately, that proposal was not accepted. France maintained that Germany should pay to the full, and that she was entitled to no further consideration. She also proposed that the Ruhr should be occupied by the Allies. From this proposal Great Britain entirely dissented. She would not agree to be a party to it. France, however, decided t3 occupy the Ruhr jointly with Belgium, and at the beginning those two nations had a very half-hearted assistance from Italy. The Ruhr was occupied. Italy very soon afterwards withdrew. Great Britain was now faced with a very difficult and delicate situation. She totally disapproved of the action taken in the Ruhr. She had, as a matter of fact, been inforced by her legal advisers that under the terms of the Versailles Treaty there was no power to take such action. She put that view to France. If she had taken up a definite line of action and had tried to insist on what she believed to be the correct interpretation of the Versailles Treaty, and if she had insisted that
France should not occupy the Ruhr, she would have had no means by which she could enforce her will or decision. Such action would merely have meant the breaking of the entente between Britain and France and the withdrawal of Britain from Europe, which would have been left to its own fate. As far as the British Empire is concerned, I am by no means sure that that would not have been the best course, but even if it had been the best course for us, it would not have helped Europe out of her distressing situation, and would not have tended to promote the peace of Europe generally. The attitude that Great Britain took up was that she would remain neutral, and that she would exercise what pressure she could to try to induce France to recede from her attitude with a view to having another inquiry into the capacity of Germany to pay. The whole situation was considerably complicated because under the direction, or at the instigation, of the German Government the whole of the occupied portion of the Ruhr was cast into a state of passive resistance. That enormously increased the difficulties. That was the situation when the Conference met in October of last year. After considering the question we very soon came to the conclusion that it was impossible to achieve any really satisfactory solution of the difficulty unless the Government of the United States of America would join in any action that was taken. In December of 1922 the American Secretary of State had made some overtures and had suggested that there should be a further inquiry as to Germany’s capacity to pay. Nothing came of those proposals at the time, but as a consequence of the discussion at the Imperial Conference, America was again asked whether she was prepared to take part in such an inquiry. She agreed to do so provided that all the allied nations also took part. France, Italy, and Belgium were approached, and eventually agreed to two Conferences being summoned in which America should participate. One Conference was to inquire into the means of balancing Germany’s budget and methods of stabilizing her currency, and the other was to estimate the amount that Germany should pay, and to discuss the means to be used to bring about a return of capital to Germany. These Conferences were constituted in November last, and it is expected that their reports will very soon be made. Mr. McKenna, who is chairman of one of them, made quite an optimistic speech at a meeting of the Joint Stock Bank of which he is chairman, on theprogress that was being made. That was some little time ago. In discussing the question ofreparations and the occupation of the Ruhr, I ask honorable members to remember that they are dealing with very difficult and very delicate subjects. I also ask them to remember that the present situation has arisen out of the provisions of theVersailles Treaty. To a great extent that Treaty is causing the trouble. It is easy enough to say, “ Tear up the Versailles Treaty and start over again,” but we cannot tear up treaties unless all the signatories are agreeable to that being done. To suggest that the Treaty should be disposed of in that way is to suggest something to which we cannot assent unless all the nations concerned are agreeable, particularly in view of all the suffering and sacrifice caused by the late war to try to establish the sanctity of treaties in the world.
Other questions upon which I propose to touch very lightly concern the situation in the Near and Middle East, and the position in Egypt. I do not think there is much need for me to speak at length in regard to these questions at present. “We all noted with very great satisfaction that we have at last been able to make a treaty with the Kingdom of Turkey. The Treaty of Lausanne will in the very near future be submitted to honorable members of this House for ratification, because we are one of the signatories. In the circumstances I do not think it necessary for me to dwell on the situation in the Near and Middle East at present. That Treaty has certainly relieved the whole position, and affairs in that part of the world certainly look to be more stabilized than at any previous time in the last few years.
The position of Egypt is of the greatest importance to Australia, and honorable gentlemen may wish to have a few words from me about it. By a Commission which was presided over by Lord Milner, and which visited Egypt some three years ago, certain recommendations were made as to the course to be taken with regard to Egyptian aspirations towards national independence. That Commission reported, and as a re sult, a great measure of freedom was given to the Egyptians, who to-day are conducting their own affairs. But certain questions were left unsettled, and it is of serious concern to Australia how those questions, and particularly how one of them, will be settled. The Suez Canal passes through Egyptian territory, but it is a vital trade artery of the whole of the British Empire, and its control especially affects Australia and its defence. I took the strongest line that it was possible for me to take. I entirely sympathized with the aspiration of the Egyptians for the control of their own affairs, but I insisted that, in the interests of Australia, itwas imperative that our communications through the Suez Canal should be safeguarded at all costs, and that no risk should be taken regarding them. In taking that attitude, I was expressing generally, I believe, the views of honorable members of this House and of the people of Australia.
I shall now say a few words concerning Russia. Honorable members will have noted that it is now proposed in Great Britain to grant full recognition to Russia, and that recognition has been interpreted by some as an unconditional recognition. Before leaving England, I discussed the subject with Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, and I discovered that he had no intention of proposing, anything of the sort. It is a very unhappy state of affairs when one of the great nations of the world is practically ostracised by other nations, and it is very desirable that such a position should not continue. But the only basis for Russia’s recognition by other nations is the recognition by Russia of her obligations to other countries, and the giving of the most definite undertaking by Russia not to carry out, in the countries that recognise her, propaganda which is designed to undermine, as it would in the case of Australia, the free institutions that have been established by a democratic people. On those two conditions - the recognition by Russia of her obligations, and an absolute assurance against propaganda in British countries - the British Government is quite firm, and is requiring a definite assent to them as a preliminary to the official recognition of Russia as one of the nations of the world.
The only other country with which I wish to deal is the United States of America. As I have already informed honorable members, the Imperial Conference was clearly of the view that, in order to solve the problem of reparations, and the occupation of the Ruhr, and to insure the peace of the world, it was imperative that the closest co-operation should - exist between Britain and the United States of America. The position is, I think, improving every day, and far more cordial relations have been established during the 1 past year than previously existed. One decision of the Imperial Conference which, I think, will greatly help to cement those cordial realtons, related to the smuggling of liquor off the American coast, just outside American territorial waters. This trade came dangerously near to creating a serious situation because, on the one hand, of the irritation it provoked in America, and on the other, because of American interference with British shipping. The matter was considered by the Conference, and eventually it was agreed that, while. insisting on the 3-mile territorial limit as vital to Britain’s foreign policy, the right of search should be extended in American territorial waters to 12 miles. That met the difficulty of America. The recommendation was accepted, and a treaty to give it effect, that will have to be submitted to this House for ratification, is now being drafted for signature.
I now come to the question of communication and consultation between the British and Dominion Governments on subjects of foreign policy when Imperial Conferences are not sitting. If we were so geographically situated, or our methods of communication were so advanced that the members of these Governments could .at all times have personal consultation, the difficulty would be solved. But at the present moment we cannot obtain that full and absolute consultation which is so desirable. The necessity for consultation arises in this way : A policy which is the
Tight one at the moment may be agreed tto. But circumstances may change, necessitating a different line of action. That is what creates the need for frequent consultation. The practice of consultation was established when the right of direct communication was given by the Prime Minister of Britain to all the Dominions.
An undertaking was given that communications concerning foreign policy would be cabled to. the Dominions and would be supplemented by despatches sent by every mail. That system is now operating, and up to a. certain point is giving satisfactory results. At the present time the Prime Minister of one of the Dominions receives as much information concerning foreign affairs as does a Cabinet Minister in Britain. But there is a difficulty when the atmosphere surrounding a question changes slowly. It is seen - only by the Foreign Secretary possibly - that some change will take place. He discusses the matter with the Prime Minister, and perhaps two or three other Ministers. Eventually the Cabinet considers it. But it may then happen that the Cabinet’s decision must be given at once and that it is too late to consult the Dominions. In that regard, the present method of consultation is weak. Among the suggestions for improving it is the appointment of a Resident Minister. While at Home I examined that suggestion exhaustively, and I found that the difficulties in the way of its adoption were at present insurmountable. There is the difficulty of sparing a Minister of the calibre needed to represent worthily Australian opinion. “ There is also the difficulty that if the Resident Minister expressed any opinion it might be claimed that he had spoken for his Government, and that we might be held not entitled to offer any protest later. I do not believe that the appointment of a Resident Minister in London would be an improvement upon our present arrangements. When Australia has developed more, it may be deemed necessary to have a representative in Britain to deal with foreign affairs, but he would act more as an ambassador than as a Minister or High Commissioner. Sir Robert Garran, who rendered invaluable services while away with me, spent a good deal of his . time in the Foreign Office, gathering information concerning the methods and machinery now operating, and as a result I believe the present system will be improved. I arranged with Mr. Ramsay Macdonald that he should release to Australia for a period of six months, Mr. Alex. Leeper, an Australian, at present employed in the Foreign Office. This officer has had a very distinguished career in the
Foreign Office, and is a son of Dr. Leeper, of Melbourne. I think Mr. Leeper’s presence in Australia -will help to put the foreign office branch of our Prime Minister’s Department on the best possible basis, and will assist us in many of the problems that we have to face. It may also result in some arrangement whereby there will be an increased flow of Australians into the Foreign Office. At present there are only three Australians on the Foreign Office staff. I think that number could be increased. It would be’ a very good opening for men of the type of Rhodes scholars, who would be very useful in putting the Dominion’s views before the Foreign Office. I am sorry that I have had to talk to such length on foreign relations; but the subject is a very important one. The Dominions are to-day demanding the right to be consulted, and we are being consulted. That position will continue, and it is, therefore, right that I should deal with, this question exhaustively. Having put my views before the House and the country, it is necessary that honorable members who differ from me should make their position equally clear, and I ask them to address themselves to this problem particularly. If we do not continue to have consultations with the British Government on questions of foreign policy, we must still accept the consequences of the mistakes that may be made by British Ministers. So long as we are inside the British Empire we cannot free ourselves from the obligations following upon mistakes of British statesmen. If any honorable member thinks that we should not consult on foreign policy with the British Government I ask him to inform the country how, while remaining inside the British Empire, we can evade the obligations that may come to us because of mistakes in Britain’s foreign policy.
The next subject i3 that of defence, which I shall deal with on the basis on which it was discussed at the Imperial Conference. At the Conference I made clear what I had made clear in this House before I left for England. Honorable members will remember the opinions that I expressed in this chamber, and those opinions were repeated by me at the Conference. I took as my starting point the view that we believe in Empire defence as a whole, and that Australia to-day did not desire to provide for her own defence without co-operation with Britain and the British Navy. That is quite a clear and definite statement. It is one to which I direct the attention of honorable members, especially those who disagree with it, and say that we can provide for Australia’s defence unaided. Their view, I submit, is entirely opposed to that expressed by every representative at the Imperial Conference, and entirety opposed also to the view held by members of the present British Cabinet. The British Government believes that Empire defence is an Empire problem. Therefore, I ask thos-> honorable members who may subscribe to the opposite view, and who may not be interested, or do not want to know what our proposals are for Empire defence, to tell this country how they propose, unaided, to insure its safety and guard its integrity. May I suggest to them that they will not make the position clearer, or satisfy the people, if they merely deliver admirable speeches about the League of Nations and the better atmosphere that is coming over the world to render defence unnecessary. The present position is one which we have to face. Those who hold that defence is unnecessary to insure the safety of Australia, and that Australia should strip herself of all means of defence because there is a better feeling coming over the world, or that there is any power in the world, be it the League of Nations or anything else, to insure our defence at the present time should, in fairness to the people, say so. I took a definite stand’ on this question at the Imperial Conference. In regard to the proceedings of that gathering, I want to make it quite clear that the representative of every country at that Conference took the view that Empire defence was a task for the Empire as a whole, and not for the individual nations comprising the Empire. The resolutions of the Conference with regard to defence are set out in a paper which has been placed in honorable members’ hands, and therefore I do not propose to read them in extenso. but I desire to have them recorded in Hansard. They are as follow: -
Subject to this provision, the Conference suggests the following as guiding principles: -
In the application of these principles to the several parts of the Empire concerned, the Conference takes note of: -
The first resolution to which I direct attention affirms, as honorable members will observe, that it is necessary to provide for the adequate defence of the territories and treaties of the several countries comprising the British Empire. This responsibility, it is laid down, must not be shouldered solely by any one part, but by the Empire as a whole. The resolution then goes on to determine how far the different portions of the Empire should be prepared to participate in the Empire defence scheme, and lays down certain guiding principles. The first is that it is the primary responsibility of every country to provide for its own local defence. I direct honorable members’ attention to the word “primary,” and emphasize that it does not mean that any portion of the British Empire must depend entirely upon its own resources for its defence. It means that in the first place each particular country must seek to safeguard its interests in the event of aggression, but that the Empire as a whole will co-operate in the defence of any threatened part. ‘The other resolutions lay down various basic principles and seeks to determine the particular manner in which maritime communications may be safeguarded. This involves, of course, the question of a Naval Base. I direct attention to the principle, laid down by the Conference, that we should have a standard naval defence for the Empire as a whole, equal to that of any other Naval Power in the world. - [Extension of time granted, and standing order 119 suspended.] The next guiding principle that emerges from the Conference resolutions is the vital necessity for the maintenance of the safe passage of our mercantile marine along the great sea routes to the East through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal. Here, again, I stress the importance to Australia of the preservation of that vital artery in our Empire communications. The importance of the other resolutions dealing with the necessity for home defence by means of an Air Force in Great Britain is, I think, obvious to honorable members, because, if disaster overtook the heart of the Empire, the effect would be felt in all the outlying Dominions. The only other point with regard to these resolutions, or, rather, the only one to which I shall refer, is the question of the establishment of the Singapore If aval Base. Prior to my departure for Great Britain, I addressed honorable members at some length on this subject, and I do not intend to repeat what I then said with regard to the view held by the Government as to the impossibility of our undertaking, unaided, the great work of defending Australia. I have no desire to repeat what I said then about the weakness of our 12,000 miles of coastline, and the vulnerability of our principal cities, situated, as they arc, upon our sea-board. Nor do I wish to speak at length again as to the impossibility of our providing the whole of our munitions, which, of course, must be regarded as a fundamental provision in any adequate scheme of home defence. Our sea communications must be kept open if we are to insure a sufficient supply of munitions for our defences in the event of war. For the moment, however, I will leave all these considerations. Honorable members know my views on this subject, and, in the course of the debate that will take place on these resolutions, they may, if they desire, attempt to refute them.
I come now to the question of the Singapore Naval Base. As honorable members know, at the Conference I took the view that the establishment of that base was vital to the maintenance of the. prestige and position of the Empire in the Pacific.
– The British Parliament does not take that view.
– I shall come to that point in a moment or two. From the stand-point of the integrity of Australia, I cannot understand how any one can subscribe to the view that a base in the Pacific is not necessary. It is, perhaps, very understandable that people in Great Britain, living 12,000 miles away,and absorbed with their own immediate problems of defence, should think that a base at Singapore is not necessary. But I direct attention to the fact that the people of the Mother Country, in their concern about their own position, have decided to substantially increase the British Air Force as a protection against attack from the air. That fact, I submit, is highly significant, and should weigh with honorable members in this House. In view of what the British Government have done in this respect, I fail to understand how any one in Australia can hold the view that a base in the Pacific is not necessary for the defence of the Commonwealth.
– The majority of the people of Australia do not think so.
– And they are ready to express that view immediately.
– Order! Honorable members must refrain from interjecting.
– Although I totally disagree with them, I can understand the view-point of those people who, on high moral grounds, oppose the establishment of the Singapore Base. The moral consideration should be applied also to air defence. But while I do not agree with those who think that aeroplanes and submarines would provide an adequate defence for Australia, I do not propose to-day to enter into the argument whether, if there is to be a base at all, it should be at Singapore, or whether, for strategical reasons, it should be established at some port in Australia. Nor do I propose to deal with the question whether a base at Singapore would materially add to the strength of the British Fleet in the Pacific. On this subject I can only say that all the people with whom I have discussed this matter, including members of the present British Government - who, I may add, are not basing their action upon the belief that the Singapore base would not increase the strength of the British Navy, or that the site is not the best one strategically - entirely agree with the view that I am expressing. The British Cabinet have arrived at its decision on very different grounds. Therefore, no practical purpose will be served by my dealing now with the question of the Singapore Base from the strategic stand-point or discussing whether it will add to the strength of the British Navy in the Pacific. Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, in the communication which he made to the House of Commons, and which he had previously made to the various Dominions, made it quite clear that his Government had considered the whole question in its wider relation to the establishment of world peace, and not from the stand-point of naval strategy. He indicated that his Government stood for international co-operation through an enlarged and strengthened
League of Nations, and that their action with regard to the Singapore Base was determined, because they considered that to embark upon the creation of a great naval base at Singapore, would hamper negotiations between the nations, and prove a menace to the establishment of the world’s peace.
From tlie beginning of this discussion this Government has made it perfectly clear to the British Government that it does not for one second question the high motives dictating its policy. “We recognise that it is sincere, and believe that its action will tend to promote the world’s peace. I do not think there is any need for me to declare here what view Australia takes upon international disarmament and the promotion of the world’s peace. We are a peace-loving people. We have shown by our actions in the past that we are determined to leave nothing undone that would be likely to insure the world’s peace. We have supported the League of Nations from its inception. We gave all the support in our power to the Washington Conference, and we have been scrupulously careful to give effect to resolutions which have been carried, tending to promote the world’s peace. Their experience of the late war must have convinced the people of Australia of the ghastly and hideous nature of warfare. On the other hand, we are faced with great problems of development which require the whole of our energy and resources. Certainly the last thing we desire is the building up of armaments at the expense of productive assets to aid in the development of our country. I think’ that it is plain to everyone that our greatest desire is to promote the same ends as those which the Prime Minister of Great Britain has announced are the ends of his Government. But while we recognise the sincerity of the British Government in the action it is taking, and of the views it has expressed, I think we are entitled to demand the admission that we are equally sincere in our belief that the object desired will not be accomplished in the way in which Mr. Ramsay Macdonald’s Government has suggested. The reason for our view is that we believe that in the past the British Empire was the greatest force in the world for the maintenance of peace. The British Empire is the one power that has stood loyally behind the League of Nations,, and the League has been able to achieve what it has achieved only because of the support given to it by the British Empire. We further believe that if the support of the British Empire were withdrawn from it to-morrow, the League of Nations would languish. If the power and prestige of the British Empire were reduced, that would deal a death-blow to the League of Nations. It is unquestionable that while our moral prestige as a nation is high, a great deal of our influence and power has been due to our relative strength compared with that of the other nations of the world. So far as disarmament is concerned, if there were any possible action which could be taken to-day which would lead to a general reduction of armaments, it would do incalculable good to take it. But for the greatest nation in the world, the most peace-loving nation, the nation that has done more than any other to insure the peace of the world, to reduce its strength, and -to place itself in the position that it could not put a capital ship into the Pacific, would not contribute to the world’s peace.- I want to make it very clear that the Government takes the view that what is proposed is not a general reduction of armaments, by the various nations, but one which would render Great Britain weaker than other nations anticipated would be the result of the Washington Treaty. That Treaty represents the greatest advance yet made in international disarmament. But in that Treaty a relative basis was laid down. The relative strength of the three great naval powers - Great Britain, the United States of America, and Japan - was determined by that Treaty on a basis in capital ships of five, five, and three. The Washington Conference anticipated that effect would be given to the views of .the nations concerned. If the Singapore Base is not built, the British Empire cannot in the Pacific give effect to the five, five, three standard laid down by the Washington Treaty. That is the position with which we are faced, and it is one which, in my opinion, is very dangerous to the world’s peace. We have also to remember that the Washington Conference entered into an arrangement for a period only, and not for all time, and that period expires in 1933. All thinking men must agree that the arrangement arrived at by the Washington Conference was brought about because of the relative strength of the Powers concerned. Unfortunately, there has not been a complete change in human nature. We have now to look to the future, and to consider whether, when the Washington Treaty expires, we shall be able to secure its extension if our relative strength in the Pacific is not maintained.
– Does the honorable gentleman think that between now and 1933 nothing will be done to improve the position ?
– I think that a great deal will be done between now and 1933 if we go forward in a way to> inspire confidence in us, and in the League of Nations. That will give ground for hope of further disarmament. There is only one other matter connected with the Singapore Base to which I wish to refer. It is suggested that to build that Base would shatter the confidence of nations, and make it more difficult to enter into arrangements for further disarmament. The Washington Conference was most successful, and brought about the greatest measure of international disarmament ever before achieved in the world, and yet it was perfectly well known to every representative present, that Singapore was deliberately excluded from consideration because Great Britain proposed to fortify that place. There was no one at the Conference who was not aware of that.
– The honorable gentleman cannot prove that fro-many report of the proceedings of the Conference.
– Senator Pearce did not say that in his report on the Conference.
– It is perfectly clear that the fact was well known. If honorable members will read the debates in the British Parliament they will find that the point was raised. It was said, “ This is a breach of the Washington Treaty in spirit if not in fact.” Many gentlemen became positively hysterical on those lines, but, I am glad to say that Mr. Ramsay Macdonald had the courage to say that there was not the slightest foundation for any of those statements.
– But he did not say that the matter was discussed at the Washington Conference.
– No one ever said that it was discussed at that Conference.
– The honorable gentleman inferred that just now.
– No; what I said was that it was perfectly well known to the representatives of every Power that was a signatory to the Washington Treaty that Singapore was excluded, because Great Britain proposed to construct a naval base there.
– That is purely assumption.
– It is nothing of the sort. The fact that it was well known to every one at the Washington Conference did not prevent the nations represented there from entering into an arrangement which was the greatest advance towards international disarmament that has ever been made.
– The only question raised concerned Hawaii, which is over 3,000 miles from Japan, and it was raised by the United States of America.-
– The honorable gentleman has said that the construction of the naval base at Singapore was not discussed at the Washington Conference, and I have agreed with him each time he has said it. But I repeat that it was perfectly well known to the representatives of every power at the Washington Conference that that base was going to be constructed, yet the knowledge of that fact did not in any way hamper the arrangement arrived at. Another point connected with the Singapore base should be referred to, namely, that it has been proposed because it is necessary to the maintenance of capital ships in the Pacific. There are honorable members who say that capital ships have become inefficient, and that their day is over; that aeroplanes and submarines are sufficient for our purpose, and, therefore, a naval base is not required. I assure those who hold that view that after the most exhaustive inquiries I am convinced - as, I think, every one having a knowledge of the facts, must be - that there is not the slightest foundation for that opinion. A committee was appointed by the British Cabinet some few years ago to determine the value of capital ships. All the experts were invited to give evidence before that committee. Amongst those invited was Admiral Sir Percy Scott, who has asserted that the day of the capital ship is over. Admiral Scott, however, did not attend the committee, and his evidence on the subject has never been given. Not one officer who held a senior command in the British Navy during the late war subscribes to the view that the capital ship is obsolete. The expert advisors of the American and Japanese Governments take the same view. I suggest, therefore, that on this occasion we may be spared the reading of copious extracts from newspapers and magazine articles written by naval officers of whom no one ever heard, and whose authority carries no weight. I have given the opinion of naval authorities who may be assumed to have knowledge on the subject. The only other matter with which I think I should deal is the position which will arise in the future with regard to cruisers and submarines in the navies of the world. Australia is entirely dependent upon sea communication, and it is a mistake for us to close our eyes to the facts of the case. The list of effective ships shows the present relative strengths of the different nations in the Pacific to be as follows : -
In April, 1929, the position will be -
I make no comment upon those figures, but they will repay close study by honorable members. So far I have confined my remarks entirely to the subject of Empire defence and some of the problems associated with it. I have not dealt with Australia’s individual defenceand the contribution which this country might be prepared to make towards a general Empire defence scheme. Honorable members may have read that in the cable which I sent to the Imperial Government recently I stated that in the event of that Government reconsidering its decision in regard to the Singapore Naval Base, and proceeding with its construction, the Australian Government would submit to this Parliament the proposal that the Commonwealth should make a substantial contribution towards the cost of the base. But the Imperial Government have decided not to construct the Singapore Base. The Commonwealth Government is of opinion that no action should be taken at this juncture in regard to the provision of naval bases generally. It is possible that the Singapore project will be reconsidered, and ultimately proceeded with. We must wait upon events, and watch how they shape themselves. It will be for us on some subsequent, occasion to indicate what action we consider Australia should take to insure her own defence. Quite apart from the construction of the Singapore Base, the Commonwealth Government has been considering the condition of Australia’s naval unit. Ministers hold the view that the Navy is Australia’s primary arm, and honorable members will recollect that definite action in regard to defence was deferred pending the obtaining of further information from the Imperial Conference. As soon as this House reassembles after Easter, the Government will submit a measure for the appropriation of the surplus which was set aside in the last Budget for defence purposes, with the view to the building of two cruisers, each of 10,000 tons displacement and carrying 8-in. guns, to replace our two obsolete cruisers. When that measure is submitted to the House we shall explain exhaustively the reasons that led to our deciding upon this type of cruiser, and in due course we shall enunciate our whole policy in regard to the naval, military,’ and air forces.
The only other subject dealt with at the Imperial Conference on which I propose to speak to-day, was the negotiation, signature, and ratification of treaties. In the summary of proceedings which honorable members have before them, the conclusions arrived at by a SubCommittee of Prime Ministers are set out in full, and I do not think they call for any extended comment from me. Those decisions have cleared away many difficulties with which we imagined this question to be surrounded, and have allayed many of the anxieties which had hitherto existed. Examination of the facts revealed that the circumstances of some of the Dominions are such that it is imperative that certain negotiations which concern only the one Dominion and a foreign Power should be conducted directly between those two parties, and not through the ordinary Imperial diplomatic channel. A good illustration is the Border Commission representing Canada -arid the United States of America. ‘ Negotiations are constantly taking place between those two countries, and it is obvious that the direct method is the proper one to follow. A similar position obtains in regard to South Africa and its relations with the Portuguese colonies and other neighbouring countries. After full . consideration a basis was laid down by resolution for the action to be taken by the different Dominions when negotiating with foreign countries. Broadly, the understanding is that a Dominion Government may negotiate with a foreign Power in the ordinary way in regard to all questions that affect that Dominion solely. If it is possible that another Dominion may be interested, no action is to be taken until that other Dominion has been consulted. Moreover, in respect of all negotiations that in any conceivable circumstances could lead to war there must be consultation between the different parts of the Empire before action is taken. That arrangement is, I think, reasonable and I recommend honorable members to read carefully the report of the sub-Committee in the papers that have been tabled before they express any views upon the subject. The question of the signature and ratification of treaties also was happily disposed of.
Turning now to the Economic Conference, the questions there dealt with were almost innumerable, but the whole of. the proceedings were published, and are before honorable members. It will be possible, therefore, for any honorable member to pursue any subject in which he is interested, and to get the fullest information in regard to it, from the official record. Upon two of the subjects - Imperial preference and the establishment of an Imperial Economic Committee - I should, I feel, say something, particularly as no subsequent opportunity in the proposal of consequential legislation will be afforded to discuss these matters. Honorable members will understand that Imperial preference as it was dealt with at the Economic Conference related solely to such preferences as Great Britain might be inclined to accord to other parts of the Empire. The Dominions have. already conceded their preferences, and any reciprocal preference would have legislative consequences for Great Britain only. Upon these questions I can almost hope that the House may be unanimous, for all of us must feel that if Great Britain were prepared to extend a preference to Empire produce, we should show ordinary courtesy and gratitude, and say, “ Thank you very much.” Having regard to the fact . that Australia has already given a substantial preference to Great Britain, it would not be very surprising if the latter agreed to take reciprocal action. The actual resolution of the Economic Conference was -
This Imperial Economic Conference, holding that, especially in present circumstances, all possible means should be taken to develop the resources of the Empire and trade between the Empire countries, desires to re-affirm the resolution on the subject of Imperial preference passed by the Imperial War Conference of 1917.
That resolution was subscribed to by every one of the Dominion representatives. The resolution of the Imperial War Conference of 1917 was -
The time has arrived when all possible encouragement should be given to the development of Imperial resources, and especiallyto making the Empire independent of other countries in respect of food supplies, raw materials, and essential industries. With these objects in view, this Conference expresses itself in favour of-
The principle that each part of the Empire, having clue regard to the interests of our Allies, shall give specially favorable treatment and facilities to the produce and manufactures of other parts of the Empire.
Arrangements by which intending emigrants from the United Kingdom may be induced to settle in countries under the British flag.
There we have set out in unmistakable terms the necessity, in the opinion of the representatives at the Economic Conference, for closer Imperial trade relations. There was no divergence of opinion whatever. Every delegate, including the representative of Great Britain, agreed that it was essential to the well-being of the Mother Country, and every part of the Empire, that we should direct our aims and thoughts . towards the promotion of closer Imperial trade relations. I, as Australia’s representative, entirely indorsed . that view, and I certainly subscribed to the contention that, our economic interests are vitally involved in the promotion of Empire trade, and particularly in the stimulation of prosperity in Great Britain and the restoration of her great manufacturing industries. Having arrived at these general principles, we had to consider the methods by which we could promote closer inter-Imperial trade relations. On behalf of Australia
I indicated that we had experience of Tariffs and preferential duties, which appeared to us a very simple and satisfactory method. I pointed out, however, that this question was entirely one of domestic concern to Great Britain, and if the Imperial authorities did not accept the view which we took we would be prepared to examine any other method that might be ‘ suggested. At that time the British Government was prepared, in view of the representations made by the representatives of the Dominions, to grant certain increased preferences, but Ministers were scrupulously careful to say that their pro posals could not go beyond the established fiscal system; they were prepared to propose increases of any existing duties, and even to impose duties on certain minor articles such as canned fish, honey, and lime juice, but, generally speaking, the basis of the proposal was that no new duties should be imposed.. The proposals which the British Government made to the Conference have been summarized in the following statement, which shows also Australia’s exportation to the United Kingdom in the lines affected in 1921-22, and the United Kingdom’s imports in these lines from other countries in 1921 : -
It will be seen that the total importations from other countries into Great Britain for the year 1921 were valued at £24,997,842, and our exportation of these commodities at £2,061,864, so in them particular lines there is a considerable opportunity for the expansion of our trade. If these preferences are availed of, we shall be’ able to help materially in supplying , the requirements of Great Britain. The unfair competition to which Australian producers are subjected in some of these lines should cause even a Free Trader to be prepared to say that some consideration is necessary. Currants, for instance, are obtained principally from Greece and other countries in the Levant, and it is almost incredible that men are working in the currant-growing industry of those countries for from £6 to £10 per annum. It cannot be fair to subject a country such as Australia, which is endeavouring to establish a reasonable standard of living and to give a fair opportunity to its producers, to competition of that character. 1 mention this merely to show that there are reasons besides the widening of our markets for the granting of preference. The summary, I think, sets out the exact proposals of the British Government, but at present I do not propose to’ deal with, the subject exhaustively, because it is only to the question of Imperial preference as a whole that I wish honorable members to direct their attention. As to these preferences, I believe that we shall get a substantial measure of assist- ance when the proposals are submitted to the House of Commons. I discussed this question with the members of the new British Government, with various Liberals, and other members of Parliament, after the recent British election, and the view that most of them held was that, because of their attitude on the hustings, they could not support increases in duty, but where the proposal was to increase a preference under an existing duty they must acquiesce in it.
– Does that mean a decrease of duty as against Australia ?
– No. At present there is a duty of 10s. 6d. a cwt. on dried fruits, and a preference to Dominion produce of one-sixth. Under these proposals the duty will remain at 10s. 6d. per cwt., but Dominion produce will be admitted free. I am of opinion, from conversations I have had with representatives of the Liberal and Labour parties, that these preferences will be agreed to.
– They were agreed to by the late Government, even before the Conference considered them.
– They submitted them to the Conference. The proposed duty of 10s. a cwt. on honey is a new one, and I have grave doubt that it will be agreed to by the British Parliament.
– A duty on apples is also proposed.
– Yes, on raw apples. Generally speaking, it is unlikely that new duties will be imposed, but assistance may be obtained where duties already exist, by increasing the preference. A point I wish to stress is that even assuming that these increased preferences are adopted, that will not be sufficient to maintain our trade with Great Britain. We shall have to organize on proper lines; preference alone will not be sufficient to enable us to hold the trade when we get it. These preferences are really designed to give us an opportunity to enter the market, and to assist us in stabilizing our industries. When that has been done, we should have a reasonable prospect of securing additional markets for our produce. ‘
– Under Government control?
– No. It is the duty of those engaged in an industry producing commodities of this character to organize their activities and finances in order to take advantage of the opportunities pro vided. If that is not done they will lose the markets which are at present open to them. We have heard a good deal concerning over-production. It has been said that there are no markets which can absorb our produce. We can enter the market on the preference afforded if we only organize our industries and submit a first class article. And we shall have to go a long way before our production is such that there will be likely to be a surplus in the markets we are endeavouring to supply. The real trouble will be that we may lose the market, because we cannot meet the demand after the first couple of months.
The other subject on which I want to say a few words is the alternative methods by which the idea of Inter-Empire trade may be realized. Many ways other than by the imposition of Tariff and preferential duties are open. Shipping subsidies, better organization and marketing, better distribution of our products, and a reduction of the marginal spread between wholesalers and retailers are a few. What can be done in the last mentioned direction is shown in the report of the Lithgow Commission. That report disclosed an amazing state of affairs. A study of this and similar documents discloses that a reconstruction of the whole of our methods may ultimately bring about an alteration of the present situation which so adversely affects the. producers in both Great Britain and the Dominions. It is well known that the producer in many instances gets but a small proportion of the amount the consumer pays for goods, and this is placing an intolerable burden upon him. I shall delay the House only long enough to illustrate the position by referring to the beef industry. Some observations were made while I was in Great Britain, which showed that the producer who bred and reared the animals, possibly keeping them for five years, and might then have had to drive them for hundreds of miles to the rail head or the meat works, paying killing, handling, and shipping charges to England, and meat insurance costs as well, received on the average only 3d. per lb. for meat which in the shop round the corner was costing the consumer 9d. per lb. There is something radically wrong in that state of affairs. I suggest that there are many ways in which the problem can be met, and the gulf between producer and consumer bridged. If we can devise means to achieve this we shall give a great fillip to Inter-Imperial trade, even if Britain does not see her way clear to accept Tariffs and the imposition of preferential duties.
I wish now to deal with the suggestion to establish an Economic Committee. When I proposed that in the Conference I said there were many ways in which we may foster trade between different parts of the Empire. The Conference at that stage was emphatic that it was essential that we should foster InterImperial trade. I pointed out that Governments were incompetent to handle such a problem as the one which faced us. They had neither the time nor the opportunity to determine what was the wisest course to pursue. It was necessary that the problem should be examined by some authoritative body which would carry weight in every part of the Empire. The proposal was that the personnel of the Economic Committee should be representative of Great Britain and every part of the Empire, and should be of such a character that Governments would not lightly disregard its determinations. It was felt to be desirable that such a body should be constituted as would make it necessary for every Government to give full consideration to the proposals it made to promote InterEmpire trade. The Economic Committee is essential if we intend to do anything to promote this trade along any line other than the obvious one of preference. I hope that the House of Commons will agree to the appointment of this Committee, and that the Committee will be established. I certainly ask this House to give the matter very full consideration, and to affirm the necessity to establish the Committee.
I thought it only fair to indicate briefly my attitude on the whole question of Inter-Imperial trade, and the reasons which led me to express the views which I made known in Great Britain. The suggestion which has been made out here, but gained very little credence in Great Britain, that I had gone to England to attempt to interfere in questions of British domestic policy, is entirely untrue. I think if the opinion of any of the leading men in Great Britain, whether Conservative, Liberal, or Labour, were obtained, it would be that I was always scrupulously careful when dealing with these questions to say that the decision rested with Britain herself, and that’ we were prepared to accept it. It has been suggested that 1 was responsible for the last election in Great Britain. I say that that suggestion is also quite untrue. An examination of the situation in Great Britain would soon convince anybody that I was not responsible for the election. The point I was endeavouring to make while I was in Britain was that the position which Britain had to face was that the re-establishment of her manufacturing industries, and the re-employment of her people, depended upon the development of the great Dominions and the dependencies of the Crown. I tried to bring it home to the people of Britain that their best chance to regain their old position was to develop the Dominions. Great Britain is essentially a manufacturing country, and she has to depend upon an external market for her manufactures. She must sell her manufactured products in the markets of the world or she will never find employment for her people. Her problem is becoming increasingly difficult. Some people say, “ Let us get back to the good old days before the war.” Those people, apparently, forget what was happening in 1918-1914. In those years, Great Britain was going through one of the most serious periods of her history. Industrial strife was rife, because of unemployment and the difficulty she was experiencing in keeping the wheels of her industries going. Years ago, Great Britain held a unique position; but in the years immediately preceding the war, she did not stand alone as the great manufacturing country of the world. Her position in that respect had been challenged and she was being overhauled by two great competitors. Instead of being the great manufacturing country of the world, she had two competitors in the United States of America and Germany. A comparison of the figures showing the total exports from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Germany, in the years 1S90 and 1912, will show how the situation had altered during that period. . In 1890, the total exports from the United Kingdom amounted to £260,000,000. The figures for Germany were £106,000,000, and for the
United States of America, £176,000,000. In 1912, the figures for the three countries were:- Great Britain, £487,000,000; United States of America, £452,000,000; and Germany, £440,000,000. The competition . was becoming increasingly difficult for Great Britain, and all the time Tariff barriers were being raised higher and higher against her. The position is intensified to-day. Every one of the new nations created by the Versailles Treaty, with a desire to establish its own industries and make itself a great manufacturing nation, adopted a high Tariff, and these Tariffs are ever being raised higher because of the desire of these countries to keep their trade for their own people. As a result, Great Britain’s position in European markets is becoming more difficult. But even if that were not the case, even if we could restore peace in Europe to-morrow, and reestablish her in the position she occupied in 1913, I do not think any one but the most optimistic would suggest that her purchasing power would be any greater to-day than it was then. It is obvious that, with the destruction caused by the war, it would be less. There is also the fact that the war taught the nations the value of . mass production and the need for increasing production. And science is continually making the production per working unit greater than it was before. Britain, notwithstanding the hideous losses of the war, has to-day a population greater than that of pre-war days. Emigration from her shores has practically ceased. The average annual emigration from Great Britain to America in pre-war days was 100,000 persons. To-day America will not accept that number of immigrants, and so Great Britain has an ever-increasing population for which work must be found. There is only one solution of this problem, and that is to create a greater purchasing power in the world. The purchasing power that existed before the war is not sufficient. It must be increased, and the only way in which that can be done is to increase the general wealth of the world by developing the production of new countries such as Australia. As the countries of the world produce greater wealth they will require more services of each other. In this way Great Britain has some hope of finding markets to absorb the produc tion of her industries. If she should sit down and wait for the world to get back to its position in 1913, her problem would never be solved.
– The fact that there is a new Government in Great Britain may assist in solving the problem.
– I trust that it will. Australia’s future is dependent upon the solution of the British problem. Our capacity to find a, market for the surplus production we anticipate, depends on the prosperity of Great Britain. But, while Australia is dependent upon the prosperity of Great Britain, still more is that country dependent upon the prosperity of the Dominions for the creation of that purchasing power which will help to absorb her own production. Great Britain has to look to the development of the Dominions, to the better distribution of the white population of the Empire, and to a gradually increasing production in all its different parts. Those were the lines on which I tried to arouse the consciousness of the people of Great Britain to the situation. It is of vital importance to us to-day that this should be done, because Australia’s prosperity depends upon the way in which Great Britain solves her present difficulties. We have some encouragement in the fact that just now the people of Great Britain are displaying a most intense interest in the development of the Dominions. Before I left London I had several talks with members of the new Labour Government, and I am certain that there is nothing they desire more than to find a really effective policy to govern inter-Empire trade and the general development of the Empire. They all recognise that the future of Great Britain is wrapped up in the future of the various parts of the Empire. They realize that if we can get a better distribution of the Empire’s white population, and develop the wonderful heritage that has come to the British race, we shall solve our respective problems. Because of the sincere attitude of the Labour Ministers with whom I discussed this question I am convinced, as I have already stated, that those persons are wrong who say that the present action of the British Government is due to lack of interest in the Dominions. It may be due to lack of appreciation of the seriousness of the position, or to a thousand and one other reasons, but it is not due to failure of desire- on the part of the members of the British Government to promote better relations within the Empire, or to keep the Empire a united whole. I am convinced that the reason for their inaction in one direction - with which I disagree absolutely - is that they sincerely believe that they are doing something to promote the world’s peace, a matter which they have so much at heart ; but I am absolutely convinced that they are as anxious as any other party in Britain to try to find means by which our mutual interests may be promoted. They do not accept Empire preference on the lines of a Tariff, and they are entitled to their own views in regard to the method to be adopted, but I am certain that they are prepared to cooperate in any scheme put forward for the development of the Empire and its great resources.
– Will the right honorable gentleman touch upon the question of the percentage of British manufacture in goods exported to Australia?
– The honorable member is referring to the provision in our Tariff Act which stipulates that before a preferential duty may operate there must be at least 25 per cent, of British manufacture or British labour in goods imported to Australia, from Great Britain. Before I left for the Imperial Conference a large deputation waited upon me in regard to this question, and I think the honorable member was associated with that deputation. When I was in Great Britain several interested persons put their cases before me, and the Comptroller of Customs, who accompanied me to London, took the opportunity to interview nearly all the .interests concerned throughout Great Britain, and go into the question with them. I understand that he still had further inquiries to make after my departure before he could complete the report on which he was engaged. However, after passing through Canada and America he has just arrived in Australia, and yesterday he informed me that his report was ready. The Government will, therefore, be in a position in the near future to declare its attitude upon this question. I have detained honorable members at very great length, but I have tried to make the position of the Government as clear as possible, and especially our attitude on foreign policy. It is for this House to say definitely whether Australia desires to be consulted on the framing and carrying out of the Empire’s foreign policy, or whether it is to be left entirely in the hands of British statesmen. If we follow the latter course we must consider how we are to free ourselves from the obligations that may be placed upon us through a misguided foreign policy framed by British statesmen alone.
Concerning defence we had to come to the conclusion whether we should affirm the principle of joint defence; whether Australia was prepared to contribute its fair share in its own way, and have its own autonomous naval unit, or whether the time had come to assume the whole burden of defence, and carry it unaided. Regarding Imperial preference, it is for us to say whether we believe in the principle, and whether we are prepared to examine with the British Government and Governments of other parts of the Empire, methods and means by which we can give effect to it.
Before I close I desire to pay a tribute to Senator Wilson for the invaluable services that he is rendering, and has rendered, to Australia, especially during the time he was associated with me at the Imperial and, Economic Conferences. He has made for himself a great place in the regard of the people of Britain, and he has gained a measure of their affection. I worked with him for three months, and I have never worked with a more loyal colleague, or one who was better prepared to do all in his power to promote the nation’s interests. No words of mine can fully express the tribute that I desire to pay to him. I wish to pay a tribute also to my economic advisers at the Economic Conference, Mr. Herbert Brookes, Mr. Reading,- Mr. John Sanderson, and Mr. Young. They gave their help freely and willingly, and rendered the most patriotic service to Australia. It would have been quite impossible for Senator Wilson and me to deal with the work of the Economic Conference had it not been for their help and co-operation, and also the assistance of the members of the staff who accompanied me, and of the members of the staff at Australia House. In many instances they worked day and night. I have heard it suggested that the staff was far too large, but I ask any honorable mem- ber who takes that view to consult with any member of the staff, and ask his view of the situation. I have never seen men harder driven, or faced with such a severe task as that undertaken by the members of the staff that accompanied me to Britain. I certainly render to them my tribute of thanks and appreciation for the services they gave to Australia. I move-
That this House approves of the conclusions of the Imperial Conference, as set out in the Summary of Proceedings, relating to -
– Does the Prime Minister intend to combine all the motions?
– No. Under the first part of the motion the whole field is open, and the others merely require an expression of opinion, but I ask honorable members to address themselves to the whole subject-matter on the first motion.
-I think it would be better if the motions were taken separately. Number 1 ‘ is distinct, and should stand by itself, and No.’s 2 and 3 deal with substantial matters. I submit that the motions should be taken on their merits, because there is very little room for discussion on the first.
– The Government desire to give the fullest opportunity for discussion upon the questions which have been raised, and in order to do that I have moved first for the printing of a document. I have set out the various points to be discussed.
– And the approval of the House is asked ?
– We ask the House to approve of what has been done. It is for honorable members to dissent from any proposal. I have dealt with all the subjects in one speech, and they provide matter for one debate and not three debates. I am prepared to meet the wishes of the Leader of the Opposition in any way possible, provided that we have one debate and not three separate debates upon the various questions involved. I am prepared to amend the motion, if thought necessary, to enable that course to be adopted.
– This is a matter entirely for the House, There is a standing order which enables the House to deal with it, and so does the ancient parliamentary practice. It is not a matter for the decision of the Chair. The House may order any complicated motion to be subdivided and its clauses discussed seriatim if so desired. I suggest, however, that a conference between the party leaders might settle the procedure.
– There are three motions, and I submit that only one of them can be put at a time. I have not the slightest objection to the first motion, and, it being a formal one, there is no reason why we should not dispose of it.
– The question is “ that the motion be agreed to.”
– I think the right honorable gentleman might pay some attention to the suggestion of the Chair. To me, it seems not helping business to take the motion as a whole.
– I should very much like to adopt the suggestion of the Chair by conferring with the Leader of the Opposition, but I must be perfectly frank about the position If these three motions can be submitted separately, having one debate on the first, and tak-. ing a vote . on the others automatically when that debate is finished, I have not the slightest objection to taking separate votes on them; but if it is proposed to debate the second and third motions,- I shall oppose that course. If honorable members will agree to the termination of the debate upon the passing ‘of the first resolution I shall be only too pleased to agree to the separation of the motion into three parts.
– Is it competent for an honorable member to address himself to three separate motions in one speech? There are in this motion three separate clauses, each of which deals with a very important subject. I submit that it is not competent for an honorable member to deal in one speech with those three subjects, and vote upon them en bloc. I am sure that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) must realize that it is not a fair thing to bring forward in one motion three proposals, all containing important, diverse and separate matter; and it is not in accordancewith the procedure of this House. If the first motion were put, it could be disposed of very quickly. Then each of the others could be dealt with separately.
– It is competent under our Standing Orders, and- is in accordance with parliamentary practice, if the House so desires, to take as one the three motions of the Prime Minister. On the other hand, it is competent for the House to order that they be taken separately. It may, perhaps, help a little if I read the Standing Order affecting the question, and a few observations of May in relation to ancient practice. Standing Order 122 is simple and plain. It says -
The House may order a complicated question to be divided
In the Tenth Edition of May, page 271, these words are to be found -
The ancient rule that when a complicated question is proposed to the House, the House may order such question to be divided, is observed in the following manner.
When two or more separate propositions are embodied in a motion or in an amendment, the Speaker calls the attention of the House to the circumstance; and, if objection be taken, he puts the question on such propositions separately, restricting debate to each proposition in its turn; though to this course resort is unfrequent, because it is generally recognised that, if a motion formed of a series of paragraphs is submitted to the House, the question should be proposed on the principal paragraph, which determines the decision ofthe House upon the various proposals contained in the whole motion. If the necessity should arise, separate subjects contained in a motion can be placed seriatim before the House by way of amendment.
It was for that reason that I stated that the matter was one entirely for the House, and suggested a conference between the responsible Leaders of the House.
.- In view of the manner in - which this matter has been presented,I shall not ask for a conference in regard to it. We axe all very pleased to see the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) back in his place, in the enjoyment of good health. We have listened very carefully to his speech, and I think it will be admitted that the Imperial Conference has been a failure. Nothing at all is to be derived by Australia as the result of what took place at that Conference. Practical confirmation has been given of the statements made by members of this party when the
House was closed down for the purpose of permitting the Prime Minister to go abroad. Urgent business relating to the country’s affairs has been neglected, and now we do not find in the statement of the Prime Minister one single thing which is of advantage to Australia. He has given us what has been really a repetition of matter that has appeared in the newspapers during his absence. I have not been able to find in his statement anything to debate; to me, it seems to require no attention from honorable members of this House, and I think that the consensus of opinion outside also will be that there is nothing in it. There is urgent necessity for the work of this country to be carried on in fulfilment of the promises made during the last election. Nearly sixteen months have expired, yet this House has sat for only a few weeks, and has done nothing. We, as an Opposition, desire to deal with the business of the country in a legitimate way, and promote its interests. We are prepared now to place our view on record, and enable the House to come to an immediate decision, in order that the time at our disposal before the Easter adjournment can be utilized in doing useful business which will be for the development of this country. I shall, therefore, content myself with moving -
That in paragraph 2, all the words after “That” be omitted, with a view to inserting the following words: - “ this House approves of the foreign policy of His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain, as indorsed by a majority of the representatives of the British people in the House of Commons; aiming, as such policy does, to bring about good-will between nations and advance the peace of the world.”
– I totally disagree with the statement which has just been made by the Leader of the Opposition that the matters which the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), has brought forward for the consideration of this House, are not vitally important, not merely to Australia, but to the whole Empire. I deprecate the attempt at a cursory reply which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) made. I think that the public of Australia will disapprove of his attempt to belittle the mission of the Prime Minister and the Conference that has just been held. The natters that have been raised by the Prime Minister are of immense importance, affecting not merely the development of Australia, but also the progress and continuance of the British Empire. They are of vital importance, not merely to every one in Australia, but to the people in England, and’ to that 1,500,000 of unemployed who, at the present time, are seeking for work there. Nevertheless, a.t this stage we find that in this Parliament these issues, the most important probably that have ever been raised in this House, are being contemptuously brushed aside, and matters of lesser moment - if one takes long views of national affairs - substituted for them. On a previous occasion, when the then Prime Minister returned from the Imperial Conference, complaints were made of the absence of information concerning the matters dealt with by the Dominions’ representatives at that gathering. On this occasion, I venture to say, the House and the people of Australia are to be congratulated on the full, clear, and candid statement which the Prime Minister lias placed before honorable members this afternoon. He has stated in most definite terms - in my opinion the resolutions of an Imperial Conference have never previously been placed before this House so satisfactorily - the view taken by the Conference concerning the several subjects dealt with by the Conference. Take the question of continuous consultation between the various portions of the Empire and the Mother Country. Time and time again in the press of this country, and from honorable ‘ members, both on the Opposition and Ministerial benches, there have been requests for some better means of keeping the Mother Country and the several Dominions in continuous touch with one another. On this subject the Prime Minister has told us definitely how the present condition may be distinctly improved, and he asks for an expression of opinion from this House. But what do we find ? We find that the Opposition, apparently, have no opinion, or if they have, they dare not give expression to it. This is a remarkable position for members of the Opposition to be placed in. It is the first time in my parliamentary experience that I have, heard of an Opposition with nothing to say about an important subject such as the one I have just mentioned. The Prime Minister has also asked for an expression of honorable members’ views regarding the Empire defence policy, which, after consultation with representatives of the Imperial Government and of the Governments of the other Dominions, he submitted to this House this afternoon. When the then Prime Minister returned from the Imperial Conference in 1921, we were informed that a decision with reference to an Imperial naval defence scheme had been postponed, because the Washington Conference had been convened to discuss the general question of disarmament. Are members of the Opposition, in their fancied security, not worrying at all about this vital problem, now that that postponed decision has been arrived at? Have they nothing to say concerning the quota which the Dominions should provide towards “ an Empire defence scheme? The recent Conference was the first held since the Washington Disarmament Conference, and the Prime Minister, having brought back to Australia a definite defence policy, quite rightly asks for an expression of opinion from this House on the subject. Surely this question is of sufficient importance to justify a full discussion in this House?
– All this will come up for discussion when we are dealing with the Government proposals with regard to the Navy.
– But the Prime Minister, on these resolutions, has asked for an expression of opinion as to whether we are going to continue with the Australian Navy as an efficient unit in the Empire naval defence scheme, and I am trying to point out that a matter of such far-reaching importance really demands full discussion. On the question of foreign relations, the Opposition apparently have no policy. Are members opposite afraid to express their views? We understood that they wanted to discuss separately each resolution submitted by the Prime Minister. Now, apparently, they do not want to discuss any of them. The question of foreign relations is one of the most important that could be discussed in any Dominion Parliament. It is an issue upon which our position should be definitely stated. At the present time the place of the Commonwealth, in its relation to Empire foreign policy, has never been properly defined. This debate would give honorable members an opportunity to place their views on record, and indicate to every other Dominion very plainly where Australia stands.
– What is the Treasurer’s opinion ?
– I suggest that this Parliament should express its opinion. What is our position in the Empire? Honorable members on this side of the House have no doubt where the Government stands. The Government says that this country, being part of the Empire, is necessarily at war if the Empire is at war; but the Opposition has never defined its attitude. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), speaking at Goulburn during the recess, said that if Great Britain went to war Australia would then have to make up its mind, on the general justice of the question, whether it would go to war also. He made that statement, not merely on one, but on several occasions. Do honorable members of the Opposition pretend that Australia can be part of the Empire in peace time, but not when war comes? They may make solemn declarations that this country is not at war, but other nations, if they are at war with Great Britain, will have their own point of view, and will come here and sack our cities, hold us for ransom, and destroy our trade whether we say we arc in the quarrel or not. We have no option but to- take up our position either inside or outside the British Empire. If we are inside, it is surely pertinent to ask. this Parliament to discuss the important question whether Australia should be consulted when decisions have to he made which will involve us in peace or war. Shall we elect to be outside the Empire, and say that we take no responsibility for Great Britain’s decisions? Shall we refuse to fight with the Mother Country if her decision to go to war does not please us ? Australia’s attitude in that matter will have a great deal to do with the development of the Empire and the peace of the world. Have the Opposition no idea as to how we could influence that decision before it was made. If we say that -we have no definite intention of standing “ all in “ with the Mother Country for the defence of the Empire and the upholding of her ideals and traditions, and if we let that idea get abroad in the world, the power of the British Empire, as a factor in the peace of the world, will materially decline. By such action on our part the Empire may be disintegrated, and its constituent parts reduced in prestige. The Prime Minister has made a very definite step forward in the control of our foreign relations. We have been receiving cablegrams on foreign policy from Great Britain since the middle of the war, and yet we have never had a well organized Foreign Office to handle such matters and to keep in continuous touch with the foreign policy of the Mother Country. The Prime Minister has assured us that, within a month or two, we shall have here an Australian, member of the British Foreign Office, who is spoken of in the highest terms by his colleagues, and those who have known him in his official capacity. He will come here and put us on right lines in organizing our Foreign Department. The mandates granted by the League of Nations place an enormous responsibility upon the people of this country. They bring us into touch with foreign nations in a way that did not occur when we were merely’ developing our own continent, and not concerning ourselves with outside problems. There is need for a definite start to be made for the better organization of the department which is concerned with our foreign relations.
– Is the honorable gentleman speaking as Leader of the Country party or as Treasurer of the Commonwealth?
Dr.- EARLE PAGE.- I am speaking as Leader of the Country party, as Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and as one who loves this country and desires to see- it prosper and develop as an integral part of the Empire. I am also speaking as one who hopes to see the British Empire remain the greatest progressive force in the world. We have been asked for an expression of opinion on a matter of vital moment to Australia - the provision of a Naval Base at Singapore. That question involves the peace of the Pacific, and the maintenance of the integrity of the British Empire. It is sure to be raised again in .the British Parliament, because Mr. Ramsay Macdonald has said definitely that the only reason why he is leaving it in abeyance is because it may. interfere with his suggestion for further disarmament. If Parliament allows this motion to go to a vote without debating it, the world will assume that it is not concerned in the peace of the Pacific.
– “Where is your policy?
– The Government has a very definite policy which it has been willing at all times to translate into terms of money and assistance in building the Singapore Base. Unless this base is built British capital ships operating in the Pacific will have no place from which to work. If in 1933, at the end of the ten years pact agreed to at the Washington Conference we have not a fleet in the Pacific, or a base from which a fleet can operate, we shall not be in a very good position to ask for an extension of the period of limited armaments, or for a further reduction of armaments. This question goes to tlie root of Australia’s well-being. It involves the question whether this country will be allowed to develop peacefully, as it has done for the last 130 years, or will have to provide for its own defence as well as its development.
– The honorable gentleman finds the going heavy. ,
– No; but it must bo very unsatisfactory to the Opposition to have it said that they are willing that the whole question of Australia’s defence, the keeping of her Naval Force intact, or its improvement, is left to be decided without a word from them. The Prime Minister has asked for an expression of opinion from honorable members in order that we may know where we stand. He asked for an Expression of opinion on the proposed replacement of the two cruisers, the Sydney and the Melbourne, that are rapidly becoming obsolete, by new and up-to-date 10,000-ton cruisers. That should have brought some reply from the Opposition; they should say whether in their view the cruisers should be built, where they should be built, and the time which their construction should take. Do honorable members opposite, apart from questions raised by the Imperial Conference, possess no opinion at all on the subject of European conditions, German reparations, or French action in the Ruhr ? The European situation involves the question of markets for Australian products, and,, in fact, the future wellbeing and progress of civilization. It is impossible for the rest of the world to progress whilst 200,000,000 of people in Central Europe and in Russia have not returned to normal conditions.
– What about the unemployed in Australia?
– The question of the unemployed in Australia is bound up with the conditions in Europe. One half of a body cannot be gangrenous and the rest remain in health. Owing to depreciated exchanges, and economic conditions generally, in Europe, our industries of every kind may bo subjected to unfair competition. The rest of the Empire is waiting to discover whether the representatives of Australia have any opinions on these matters. The views of the people of this country should find expression in this Chamber. I will come to the question of the actual material position of Australia itself.
– Australia does for a postscript.
– No, the advance of Australia was in the forefront of the Prime Minister’s message to-day. He dealt throughout his address with the well-being and progress of Australia. He has explained in connexion with the Imperial Economic Conference that its resolutions on the subject of Empire preference need only to be carried in the British Parliament, and not in this Parliament, to become effective. He pointed out that the present is the only opportunity likely to be afforded for a long time for the discussion of these matters. The object of- the Imperial Economic Conference, which was first discussed about two years ago, was to try, if possible, to outline an Empire plan of development, to see if it were not possible to secure a better distribution of its white population throughout the Empire, aud by facilitating and expediting the development of new countries and their resources to solve not merely the unemployment problem in Great Britain, but the whole taxation problem in every part of the British Empire, and also to do a great deal to promote the health of the world. At this Conference the question of an Empire plan of development was discussed. Certain resolutions on the subject of preference were carried, and on the attitude of this Parliament at this particular time might easily depend the fate of those preference resolutions in the Imperial Parliament. Yet honorable members opposite do not recognise the psychological moment, and are blind to their duty.
– I rise to a point of order, ls the honorable gentleman in order in saying that honorable members are blind to their duty ?
– Tt is not unparliamentary to suggest that honorable members’ vision is impaired.
– Is the honorable gentleman not aware that the resolutions were proposed by the British Government without respect to the Conference?
– The point is that the preference proposals are to be considered almost in the immediate future in the Imperial Parliament. If in this Parliament by the silence of the Opposition on this important matter, and the expressions of dissent from the proposals elsewhere-
– We have said nothing against preference.
– Honorable members opposite have said nothing for it.
– If honorable members opposite show by their, attitude that the matter is of no concern to them, a false impression may be created in the Imperial Parliament. I must confess to a feeling of intense disappointment at finding that, for the sake of some temporary advantage, there seem to be some honorable members who are unprepared to admit the necessity of Imperial preferences to Australia in . connexion with our currants, raisins, and other dried fruits. At present we have a trade with Great Britain in these commodities amounting in value to something like £2,061,000 per annum. The proposed preferences would give Australia a very distinct advantage in a market totalling in value about £24,997,000 per annum from foreign sources, or about twelve times the value of our present export trade in dried fruits, &c. If we could secure preferences of that magnitude, we should be able to settle successfully many thousands of soldiers in the Murray Valley, and assure to those men a permanent market which would give them a reasonable return for their labour. This would mean that many of the irrigation areas, which, because of the heavy capital cost of their head works, are now more or less a burden both to the people settled on them and to the taxpayers generally, would immediately become profitable. There would then be more purchasers for the goods manufactured in the cities, and the result would be more employment in every branch of industry in the cities, and more active rural settlement under conditions that are easily the best in the world.
– The matter is urgent. Let us have a vote !
– It certainly is an urgent matter; but it is more urgent that we should endeavour to bring to Australia as many as we possibly can of those men who are living on the bread line, or somewhere below it, in Great Britain, so that they may have a reasonable chance of enjoying decent living conditions.
Sitting suspended from 6.29 to S p.m.
– By their silence, the Opposition suggest that this matter is of such little importance as to be not worth discussing. Yet the Imperial Conference arrested the attention, not merely of the British Empire, but of the whole world. Reference to the newspaper publications of practically every country during October and November shows that the attention of all Governments and all people was focussed upon the work being done at the Imperial Conference and Economic Conference. And the efforts of our own Prime Minister received a very fine meed of recognition and admiration even from those who differed from the opinions he expressed. Even those who did not desire to see drawn closer those ties of mutual interest in trade and commerce which strengthen the ties of kinship, tradition, and’ sacrifice, admitted the importance of the Conference to the whole world, and its influence in binding together in a substantial way the units of the great commonwealth of British nations. Now, when the reports of the Conferences are submitted to this Parliament, and an expression of opinion from the representatives of the Australian people is sought, we find those who represent a considerable section of the population absolutely afraid to say a word regarding the Conferences. Are honorable members opposite afraid that they will be taunted with what they have said outside this Parliament regarding these matters? Are they afraid to place their views on record in Hansard? Why do they fear to define their attitude on the question of defence, when not merely the Prime Minister, but also every newspaper throughout the country, is asking them to indicate exactly where they stand? I read this in a newspaper published just after the Leader of the Opposition (Air. Charlton) had completed his tour in South Australia -
Mr. Charlton has been advocating something very like a “cut the painter” policy in regard to the Imperial Navy, and preaching disarma-ment as the best means of insuring the safety of Australia. Mr. Charlton and his friends want a “ White Australia “ - and incidentally they wish to make all possible political capital out of the doctrine- but they are not prepared to provide the means to defend it. Mr. Charlton utters the pacifist cliche that “ every country which prepared for war eventually got it.” lt would bo truer to say that, throughout history, defenceless and passive nations have fallen a prey to their ambitious and predatory neighbours. For a few millions of Australians to set up a title to a vast continent, without taking steps to safeguard it, would be suicidal folly. And even if the Commonwealth were to virtually bankrupt itself in creating an army and a navy, its unaided efforts could not provide a sufficient guarantee against invasion. Without the backing of the British Navy, the Act of Parliament embodying the “ White Australia “ policy would not be worth the paper on which it is printed. Yet Mr. Charlton expresses fear of further “ entanglements “ in British foreign policy, and infers that Australia should not be a party to assisting in the maintenance of the British Navy. If any proof were needed that the Labour party of to-day is not the Labour party of a decade ago, the altitude of the present leaders to defence problems would supply it.
Similar questions are being asked all over Australia, and this Chamber is the place wherein the opinions of honorable members should be placed upon record. But with the ears of the Imperial Parliament, and the Parliaments of all the Dominions, strained to hear what the people of Australia have to say, the Opposition in this House is silent; it is afraid to voice its opinions. We have heard members of the Opposition express cordial approval of the League of Nations; they are asked to-day to define their attitude towards the British Empire’s support of the League. The Prime Minister asked very distinctly that the attitude of this Parliament towards the League should be defined, but honorable members opposite are afraid to state where -they stand. We have before us also the resolutions of the Imperial Economic Conference, and the Prime Minister has pointed out that this is the only opportunity that will be afforded the House to discus’s the resolutions of that Conference, because they do not involve any consequential legislation by this Parliament. They do, however, necessitate not a mere vote by honorable members, but an expression of opinion which will help to guide the Imperial Parliament to a decision in the immediate future. Honorable members opposite, however, say that these matters are of such little importance that they will say not one word about them.
– That is not the position at all.
– In effect, that is what the Leader of the Opposition said. His supporters are afraid to define their attitude in regard to defence, and they say that the economic relationships of the Empire are so insignificant as to be not worth worrying about. Yet those honorable members pretend that they are trying to represent all classes, all industries, and all the productions of Australia. But what is the attitude of other nations towards these problems? We find that they’ are considering with the utmost interest and anxiety the development that may take place throughout the British Empire. The report of the meeting of the British Empire Chamber of Commerce held in New York recently points out that the huge manufacturing industries of the United States of America, the total exports of which even before the war were approximating Great Britain’s export of manufactures, draw 70 per cent, of their raw material from the various portions of the British Empire. Yet men in this House who profess to be anxious to promote the progress of Australia suggest that the economic progress of the Empire is not worth discussion by this Parliament, and they endeavour to make the people of Australia, believe that other questions are of greater importance. This is one of the most important questions that could be debated in this Parliament; it goes to the very root of Australia’s national existence and progress, and even to the very root of the existence and progress of the British Empire. I am surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney), for instance, in whose electorate a huge dam is being constructed with the object of assisting the settlement of a large number of men in the Hume Valley. When that huge work is completed, the water which will be made available will be of great value, not only to many who are now resident in Australia, but also to others who will como from overseas to assist in the development of this great country. This is an occasion on which we should express our opinions, and when not only the representatives of the people of Australia, but also tho representatives of the other Dominions, should let the members of the British Parliament know their views on Empire preference; because preference means that land irrigated can be settled. This is the time for every Australian patriot to say that he indorses the policy which the Prime Minister so strenuously advocated. The Prime Minister has returned from Great Britain with a very definite promise of preferences agreed to by the Economic Conference which were accepted by the Baldwin Government, and which will be submitted to an open vote of the House of Commons by the present Government. At this all-important juncture, when we need support and an open expression of opinion from all sides, the members of the Opposition say that the matter is too trivial, and should be immediately disposed of to enable the House to proceed with other business. In all probability they will hold up the House for days in discussing some subject that is of little concern compared with this all-important issue. This is the psychological moment for them to speak. Their support of proposals such as these would be of some value. But when they are asked to put the claims of their country and those of the Empire above mere party tactics, they are as dumb, driven cattle. They are quite unwilling to say anything on the question of defence or Imperial preference. I am glad this opportunity has come to the people of Australia to see where the Opposition really stand. The people will see that their professions are hollow, because now that they have an opportunity to assist the producers of Australia to find wider markets for their produce they refuse to assist or to even state their attitude. What is the most important problem confronting Australia to-day? It is that of securing markets, and when an opportunity is afforded honorable members opposite to find an outlet for our surplus produce in the Mother Country, they say that the matter is of such trifling importance that it need net be discussed, and that the next business of the Government should be proceeded with. It is petty and mean of them to endeavour to secure a party advantage on this question. I propose to make a quotation showing the importance of the British Empire’s markets. The President of the British Empire Chamber of Commerce, speaking recently at New York, stated -
I propose here to show the importance of the British Empire’s markets and materials, and to a less extent their foreign capital investments to our business structure. Of crude materials for manufacturing (listed hereafter), about 70 per cent, of all we import comes to us from British Empire territory (i exclude wheat and other breadstuffs to the value of about 50 million dollars which we imported in 1921), and the greater part of those imported materials cannot at present be obtained elsewhere. Of our gold imports from 1914 to 1921, totalling about 2j billion dollars, almost the entire amount was produced in British territory. The attached list of imported materials from British territory, showing their percentage of our total imports of those materials, will illustrate our present need of increased British capital investments abroad, if we are not prepared to supply the capital required for the production necessary to furnish our factories with needed materials. Later in this article I will show the various industries and the total value. of their finished product in their relationship, to a very large extent, to the materials we secure from the British Empire.
He then gave a complete list of the raw materials required in their manufacturing industries. The Prime Minister when in England laid down a sound and durable basis to insure that that 70 per cent, of raw materials should not be manufactured into finished products outside the British Empire, but should be used in the development of the Empire. When the British Labour Government, with which honorable members opposite profess to have some sympathy, are faced with the problem of finding employment for approximately a million and a half men, and when the opportunity comes to enable the manufacturing industries of Great Britain to increase , their capacity by utilizing more of the raw materials produced in the Empire, -honorable members opposite do not seize the opportunity to assist, but are like dumb, driven cattle. This is a most remarkable exhibition of Empire and Australian national feeling ever exhibited in this House.
– If the Treasurer will resume his seat he will give us an opportunity.
– I am quite prepared to give the honorable member a chance. The British Labour Government’s attitude is quite different from that of honorable members opposite. They regard this, not as a matter of insignificance, but as one of the utmost importance. The Colonial Secretary (Mr. Thomas), in speaking the other day, admitted that the most urgent problem before the Empire was that of Empire settlement and development. The questions the Prime Minister raised, and on which he invited expressions of opinion, cannot, as he said, be subsequently brought up in this Parliament. It is surely our duty to let the British Government know that the subjects discussed at the Conferences have received our careful attention and due recognition. We should let the British Government know that we recognise that the last British Government was willing to meet us as they were at the beginning of the Conference. When the late Mr. Alfred Deakin, a former Prime Minister, went to Great Britain to advocate Imperial preference, he found the door bolted and barred in his face by the Government of the day. “One finds that although the results at that time were not very promising, the House was willing to discuss the whole question on its merits. On this occasion, when the Prime Minister went Home to Britain-
– Why say “Home”?
– I am not ashamed to refer to the Mother Country as “ Home,” and I am quite prepared to see millions more of British stock come here to assist to develop and defend this great country. I am Australian born, but am willing to recognise the enormous debt of gratitude we owe the country from which came the stock from whom we spring. When the late Mr. Deakin visited Great Britain the Government of the day told us definitely that on the subject of preference the door was bolted and bari,ed Now that there is a chance to get something done, which I. always thought until this moment was the policy subscribed to by every political party and almost everybody in Australia, we find that honorable members opposite consider the matter too insignificant for debate. The thing we have tried to get for so long is almost within our grasp. It is only necessary for the Opposition to stand unitedly with hon orable members on this side of the House to gain for Australia something that will help in the development of this country, and also help to solve the unemployment problem of the Motherland. This is the time and the opportunity for debate, but honorable members on the other side consider tha question to be too insignificant for their attention.
– Why did the Government link the question of militarism with the question of preference? Why not give us separate motions ?
– I have no doubt that we shall get plenty of excuses from honorable members opposite now that their game has been exposed. Members of the Opposition will doubtless jump up in their places and give all sorts of specious reasons why they will not discuss this question of Imperial preference.
– Will the Minister permit me to make one interjection ?
– The Leader of the Opposition will have his opportunity. I shall be only too pleased to hear him and members of his party speak. I want them to speak and let us know where they stand. Despite the bad start the Opposition has made to-night, I hope that they will yet stand up in their place and support the policy of preference that the Prime Minister put before the Imperial Conference. They may have their own ideas in regard to defence and other matters, but I trust that they will stand behind the Prime Minister at this time, when a united expression of opinion’ by the Australian Parliament may carry tremendous weight in the councils of the British Parliament, and may obtain for us the preference which will mean so much to our immediate development.
– Why did the Government tie up in the one motion the subjects of preference, and defence ?
– The subjects are not tied together. The honorable member is one of the most experienced parliamentarians in this House, and knows that he has the right to vote on them separately. Everybody knows that. The questions dealt with in the motion are to be taken in their order, and may be voted on in that order.
– They have to be taken as one.
– Will they be voted on in their order ?
– Yes, they are brought forward in one motion merely to avoid three unnecessary debates 1 urge the members of the Opposition to discuss this question of Imperial preference. They may contribute something of very great value to this debate if they will reconsider the attitude they have adopted, and support the claims of Australia for preference. If they do that, the question can be presented to the Imperial Parliament in its proper light. The people of Australia are undoubtedly in favour of the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister.
– Go to the country and test it.
– I have been all through the country, and have debated this subject in every State of the Commonwealth. I have found the people everywhere to be in favour of it. I have gone into Labour strongholds like Litligow, and also as far away as Western Australia, and the people everywhere are behind the proposition for Imperial preference. They know that it is good for Australia, and good for the British Empire as a whole.
– It is time for honorable members opposite to do the talking. We did all the talking last time.
– I am not surprised to find that the attitude adopted by the Australian Labour party is different from that adopted by the British Labour party, because I find that the Labour party in Australia speaks continually with two voices. I. well remember the debate on Crown leaseholds which took place in this House last session. I find that the opinions expressed by honorable gentlemen opposite were diametrically opposed to the opinions expressed by the Labour Premier of Queensland. While honorable members in this House whose knowledge of grazing is probably limited-
– I am very reluctant to interrupt the speech of my honorable friend, but I ask what have Crown leaseholds to do with the Prime Minister’s trip to England, and the debate on Imperial policy?
) - Strictly speaking, nothing. But they may serve as an illustration.
– I hope to be able to show that 1 am introducing a very apt illustration.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask whether it is competent for the Government to employ claqueurs to applaud from the galleries.
– Silence must be observed in the galleries.
– The applause was in the House.
– Order must also be preserved in the Chamber.
– I propose to give an illustration of the two voices which distinguish the Labour movement in Australia, and the different way in which it conducts itself as compared with the British Labour Government. What took place in this House last session?
– On a point of order. Is the honorable the Treasurer in order in reflecting on a decision of this House last year? Last year the Government desired to remit certain payments on Crown leaseholds.
– It is not in order for any honorable member to reflect on a decision of the House except for the purpose of urging its reversal.
– I applaud the action of this House last year in repealing that iniquitous Act. I hope 1 will bo in order in applauding it. I also applaud the statesmanlike act of the Premier of Queensland-
– The honorable Minister’s time has expired.
– I propose that an extension of time be granted.
– I do not object to an extension of time in this case, but it must not be thought that an extension may be obtained by leave on every occasion. That was not the original intention of the Standing Order. Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable the Treasurer be granted an extension of time?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and honorable members generally, for this consideration.
– We are anxious to give the Treasurer an opportunity to go on.
– I applauded the decision of this Chamber to repeal the Act which provided for the taxation of
Crown leases, and I applauded similar action on the part of the Labour Premier of Queensland when,- a couple of months later, he followed the good example we set, and gave to these same people a retrospective measure, of relief by repealing the Queensland Act. The attitude of honorable members opposite to-day is- quite different from that taken up by the Labour Premier in Queensland towards the meat industry. Whereas the man on the spot and who knew his job realized that it was an industry which was in need of assistance, apparently the sole wish of honorable members was to see that industry stamped out. And again to-night, in the matter of Imperial preference, their attitude is seemingly different from that of the leader of a Labour Government which is on the spot and is cognisant of the proposals that have been indorsed by the Imperial Economic Conference, and are intended to help to solve the problems that confront the Prime Minister of Great Britain to-day. In making that assertion I am fortified by the repeated utterances of members of the British Labour Government. I urge, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has urged, that this matter should be regarded from the point of view of Australian progress and Empire sentiment. Surely it is above party.
– The Government do not wish us to oppose it?
– I want honorable members opposite to express an opinion in favour qf Imperial preference in such a definite way that the reverberation of their expression may be heard in the Imperial Parliament, thus showing to the people of England that the people of Australia are definitely united on this issue.
– You are killing our own industries.
– There speaks one who has apparently not read the resolutions or reports of the Imperial Conference. The preferences asked for at the present time, if granted in Britain, would but serve to increase the demand for Australian products. Nothing is being done that would in any way interfere with the development of Australian manufactures or industries. In fact, all that is being done is that which would be likely to increase Australia’s manufactures and industries. It stands to reason that if we increase ‘the number of prosperous settlers in Australia ‘ the effect spreads in a beneficial circle, providing work in the factories, increasing wages in the cities, and affording increased employment all round. The best basis for the prosperity of a country is an expanding wealth of agriculture. If anything will help to set agriculture in Australia upon a sure base, it is the very preferences brought back by the Prime Minister, and which honorable members are asked to support and indorse.
– And then you would send abroad for locomotives !
– Apparently, the honorable member thinks of others in terms of what is in his own mind. Let him judge by actions, and not by words. To-night honorable members opposite are leaving the public to judge them by their actions, and not by their words. The people will learn that when opportunity came to honorable members opposite to say a word which would help the rural industries of Australia, they remained absolutely dumb. The most important thing facing the people of this country at the present time is the need to secure markets for our products, both in primary and in secondary industries ; because if we can enlarge the market abroad for our primary products, it will give us here a bigger market for our secondary products. I shall quote what the Prime Minister said on the other side of the world in regard to markets, so that his words may be placed! on record in Hansard, and possibly so that the Opposition may be stirred to some display of interest in the welfare of the industries of Australia. The two points he stressed were points which I thought honorable members opposite would have jumped on their feet to stress. I thought that they would be straining at the leash to utter their approval of them .
– Why not give us an opportunity to do so ?
– Honorable members opposite were given every chance to do so. Apparently, now that their game has been exposed, they are anxious to speak. The Prime Minister, speaking at the Imperial Economic Conference, said -
Tlie second point concerns preferences in Government contracts. This is not so big a question, but it is one df very considerable importance to the Dominions generally. On this question the Dominions possibly take a view which might well be considered a little extreme, but they have a very real feeling in the matter. They feel that where it is a question of Government contracts the Dominions .should be entitled to get them, unless the difference in price is so hopeless as to render it impossible; but they think that there should be a very generous margin allowed in order to give the Dominions the fullest opportunity of tendering successfully. Our distances from your markets should also be remembered, so that there should not be too short a period for lodging tenders.
– What authority is the Treasurer quoting ?
– I quote these words of the Prime Minister to show that this is one of the big questions on the other side of the world. Yet apparently there is no honorable member of the Opposition in this Chamber sufficiently courageous to press its urgency on the Imperial Government, or brave enough to claim that Australia should have a preference in British Government meat contracts. I cannot understand the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), who represents a district where sheep and cattle are grown, not saying at once, “ Let us do something to help our meat industry by securing British Army and Navy contracts under a system of preference.” If this Parliament says nothing like that which has been said on the other side of the world, if it regards the matter as too insignificant to talk about, it must stand condemned. The right honorable the Prime Minister also said at the Imperial Conference -
The other problem which we have to consider’ is, of course, a difficult one, and I think it should be stated in this way, that in order to assist the settlement of British migrants in the Dominions, and thus relieve unemployment in Great Britain, and in order to increase the volume of Imperial trade and the purchasing power of the Dominions for British goods, Britain should bc prepared to assist in some way in the marketing of Dominion foodstuffs and agricultural raw materials. I particularly mention foodstuffs and agricultural raw materials for this reason : that these things are what the Dominions produce, and it is their production which will bring about the development of the Dominions. It is no good our passing pious resolutions in favour of better preference to the Dominions and ever dodging the great issue. The issue is there, and it is not the slightest use our trying to avoid it.
That, however, is the attitude of the Opposition to-night. They are trying to evade the issue which has been raised in this House, and which will be debated by the Imperial Parliament in about a month’s time. The right honorable gentleman went on to say -
We must see if there is any way of getting over the difficulties involved, because of the fact that those are the things the Dominions must have a market for if they are to expand and develop. I quite appreciate that, at this stage, I might very well leave the matter, having said that we cannot develop without markets; that these are the things wo want markets for, and that we would like a duty put upon them, with a preference to the Dominions.
– The British Govern- x ment failed to give preference to Australia when they accepted an Argentine meat contract.
– Here is an opportunity for my honorable friends opposite to speak. What did the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) say in England when fighting Australia’s battle ? He told the British investing public that the time had arrived when, in order to keep the British Empire together, they should invest more and more capital in the British Dominions. There is one way to encourage British investors to sink capital in the British Dominions, and that is for the Labour party in this House to take a rational view of Australian defence, and to announce that they stand solidly behind the policy of Imperial preference. British investors, before investing more money in Australia, require an adequate defence policy, and an assurance that they will be able to rely on sure markets for Australian produce, and a good return on their capital. The Prime Minister, speaking not only at the Imperial Conference, but throughout the length and breadth of England, repeatedly drove home these facts. I am glad that the debate has taken this turn, because it gives me an opportunity, which I might not otherwise have had, of putting on record the considered opinion of the whole of the people of Australia, that the Prime Minister, as Australia’s envoy at the Imperial Conference, did magnificent work on behalf of this country. He accomplished great things. He awoke the national conscience of Britain. He took the stand that Imperial preference was as much in the interests of Great Britain as in the interests of the Dominions - that the principle was just as vital to Britain as it was to the Dominions. The Prime Minister has shown himself throughout to be a sound constructive imperial statesman, and has secured for us a permanent place in the Councils of the Empire.
– I cannot help feeling that the people of Australia will experience profound disappointment when to-morrow they learn of the attitude adopted by a section of this House with respect to the important matters that have been brought under our notice to-day by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). I, in common with, I suppose, every honorable member, listened with great interest to the Prime Minister, when, on the eve of his departure for Great Britain, he gave us an outline of the great mission he was about to undertake. I think every one felt that his mission was an exceedingly important one, and those of us who followed with interest his activities at Home, are unanimously of opinion that he carried out his work in the ablest way possible. A few days ago, I had an opportunity of discussing this matter with a member of the Victorian Bar, who has just returned from the Old Country, where he was engaged a month or two ago on a very important case. He told me that he came into contact with many representative men in the Old Country and discussed with them Mr. Bruce’s mission and his method of carrying it out.. This gentleman gave me the names of prominent men with whom he had discussed the subject. In a nut-shell, what he said was that the opinion was unanimous that Mr. Bruce had acted in a very able way in the interests of Australia, and that in the opinion of public men at Home he was a man who> could be absolutely trusted. Mr. Bruce has returned, and I, for one, looked forward with great interest to to-day’s proceedings in the House. I thought that the very importance of the matters with which we had to deal - matters of Imperial concern - would appeal to every honorable member, and that the discussion would be free from all party considerations. I must compliment the Opposition on the tactics they have adopted. I confess that their attitude came as a complete surprise to me. I think we were all taken by surprise; and it will be a matter, no doubt, for selfcongratulation on the part of the members of the Opposition that they have put us in the position in which we now find ourselves. Tha man who is responsible for this state of affairs is the Prime Minister himself. To-day, while dealing with the principle of Imperial integrity, and also that of Imperial defence, he threw out an invitation that was practically a challenge to every member of the House to declare himself on these important matters. I felt that anything might happen. What has happened ? The Opposition have not declared themselves, and I am inclined to think, with the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), that it would be very awkward for some members of the Opposition to declare their attitude towards these subjects. These are perilous times in which we live, and the people of Australia are looking to their public men, to their representatives, to take a clear, definite, and distinct stand on such matters as Imperial integrity and Imperial defence. I know that the people of Australia are absolutely sound on these two great questions, but there are honorable members of this House who are not so sound. The people of Australia feel that never was the necessity so great as it is to-day to draw closer together the bonds of Empire. At Home an extraordinary thing has happened within the last few months : I refer to the advent of the Labour party to power. I suppose if any one had been asked twelve months ago if such a thing were possible, they would have scouted the very idea ; and yet to-day we have Mr. Ramsay Macdonald at the head of the British Government. As an Imperialist, I have not the faintest doubt that the effect of his rule will be to draw the bonds of Empire closer together. Mr. Ramsay Macdonald and the outstanding members of his Cabinet - men like Henderson, Thomas, and Clynes - are absolutely sound on these two questions in which we in Australia are so deeply interested. I am reminded of a message that Mr. Macdonald sent to the people of India two days before he was called to take up the. duties of Prime Minister of Great Britain. He was asked by the London correspondent of the Hindu, a paper published in Madras, to give a message to the people of India. Members of this House who take an interest in Imperial or Indian matters know the conditions obtaining in India to-day - that it is seething with discontent, that there is a strong movement for the separation of India from the Empire. This was the message which Mr. Ramsay Macdonald sent to the people of India : -
I watch, sometimes with no little anxiety, thu progress of affairs in India. During all my political life, I have anchored myself firmly upon the conviction that if progress is to be well rooted, it can only be carried on by. political or constitutional ways. We have seen in our own generation all sorts of revolutionary movements w’hich seemed to be successful, and which have broken contact with the past, but in the end, after much physical suffering and creation of evil tempers and vicious spirit, had to return to pick up the contacts that had been broken, and apply the very principles they had rejected.
I can see no hope if India becomes an arena of struggle between constitutionalism and revolution. No party in Britain will be cowed by threats of force or of policies designed to bring government to a standstill, and if any Indian, sections are under the delusion that it is not so, events will sadly disappoint them. I urge upon all Indians to come near to us rather than stand apart from us, to get at our reason and goodwill. I deplore the evidence of a backward spirit in some sections in Britain, but let none misread causes and effects. When appeal is made to revolutionary methods, whether those methods be passive or active force, reaction towards the opposite extreme is bound to come, and men and parties of the most sincere good-will hustled off the stage whilst the two forms of reaction, that of the right and the left, kick and tear and swear against each other until the failure of both has been demonstrated. The approach and goodwill should be mutual. My appeal there fore is not only to Indians, but to the British constituencies as well.
Those words of the Prime Minister of Great Britain ring absolutely true. They remind me of a passage in Carlyle’s Past and Present that is worth recording. It is this: -
The English Legislature, like the English people, is of slow temper, essentially conservative. In our wildest periods of reform, in the Long Parliament itself, you notice always the invincible instinct to hold fast by the old; to admit the minimum of new; to expand if it be possible, some old method or habit already found, fruitful into new growth for the new need. ‘ It is an instinct worthy of all honour, akin to all strength and all wisdom. The future hereby is not dissevered from the past but based continuously on it, grows with all the vitalities of the past, and is rooted deep down into the beginnings of us.
That sums up Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, a man who stands for the past, who looks to the future to grow out of the past, and to a future that will be based continuously on it. That man and his Government are at the head of affairs in Great Britain to-day. It is to that Government that we look to-day for cooperation in regard to the great affairs of the Empire, and I for one feel sure that we will not look in vain, but that we will receive from the British Government the most sympathetic support and co-operation in those great matters. ““The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to-day delivered, I think, a most interesting speech. It is sneered at by some. We are told, “ The Prime Minister went Home to do great things, and what; has he done?”
– Nothing, and done it well !
– We are told that he has done nothing. It reminds me of the parable, “ Behold there went out a sower to sow.” Some fools would say that if the sower came not back in the evening of his sowing bearing the golden sheaves with him, he had accomplished nothing. Some people look for actual tangible results; unless he brings back something that they can see, something that they can understand, they say he has done nothing. I say that if the Prime Minister had done nothing more than come into contact with the representative men in the Old Country; if he had done nothing more than discuss with them, in close conference, these important questions affecting the Empire and its interests, he would have done a great deal, he would have accomplished a great mission. In the ideas that he has promulgated in the Old Country, even though they have not yet been accepted, he has sown seed from which, in the future, we shall reap a rich harvest, not only in Australia, but also in other Dominions under , the British Crown. I join with the Prime Minister and with the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), in saying that the duty rests upon every man to declare himself without fear and without favour on the important question of Imperial integrity. Each of us should say whether he holds with the Empire. As has been pointed out, if a man is in the Empire he must be of it; if he accepts its privileges, he must accept its responsibilities and obligations. That is the attitude of the Labour party in Great Britain to-day; they believe in Empire defence. So far as I know, there has not been a suggestion from any member of the British Cabinet or of the British Labour party that they should not take their share, not only of the defence of Great Britain, but also of Imperial defence. I believe that they hold, as we in Australia do, and as this resolution of the Imperial Conference defines that there ought to be defensive co-operation: that we should co-operate in defence, each part of the Empire looking first of all to its own defence, and defending itself in such a way that its efforts will lend themselves to coordination and co-operation with those of every _ other part of the Empire. While the Government of Great Britain are sound on the question of Imperial defence, they have disappointed a great many people in Australia by their attitude on the question of a base at Singapore. We are told by some persons that the people of Australia do not believe in a Singapore base, that they do not want it. I should like to test the sincerity of the British Cabinet in regard to that matter.
I rather question their sincerity on it. We, in Australia, believe that it is necessary to the defence of Australia that the. British Fleet should be able to base at Singapore, so that it could co-operate with our Fleet in the Pacific - that a base of that kind is absolutely necessary to the mobility of the Fleet, as without it a Fleet is practically useless. I was immensely impressed, as I have no doubt most people were, when I first read of the attitude of Mr. Macdonald and his Government on this question of the Singapore base. They took up an ethical stand. They said, “ We believe that if, at present, we refrain from defending this strategic point at Singapore, when we approach the other nations on the question of disarmament we shall be able to make out a better case, we shall be able to point to our refraining from making a base at Singapore as evidence of our bona fides, and our desire for world peace.” I, in common with most people, was attracted by that idea. I believe, with the Prime Minister, that there is not a single man or woman in Australia who does not ardently desire world peace. Let us test the attitude of the British Government from the ethical -point of view. I could have accepted that view-point had they been consistent in their attitude with regard to defence in Great Britain. Had the British Cabinet declared their determination not to spend another penny on defence in Great Britain, because that policy would be regarded by their neighbours as a menace, I could have understood their decision concerning the Singapore Naval Base. But what are they doing? They are actually adding to the defence vote in Great Britain, and increasing home defences.
– They reduced the Estimates by £2,500,000.
– They did”, but they have added to defence expenditure . by laying down more cruisers, and” increasing the strength of the Air Force. That policy, I submit, is just as much a menace to their neighbours as the establishment of the Singapore Naval Base would be a menace to those nations in the neighbouring seas. Therefore, I say the British Government have not been consistent. One reason given for this increased expenditure on defence in Great Britain is that it had to be undertaken in order to find employment for her people. Are we to be told by men who profess to be pacifists, who abhor war, and believe that increased defence expenditure may properly be regarded as a menace and an affront to -their neighbours, that increased expenditure on defence in Great Britain is to be incurred because the British Government want to find employment for their people ? Is this the real reason why the pacifist Government of Great Britain are going to spend money in the laying down of additional cruisers? I say that they are not consistent. The British Government should declare their attitude in this matter. If they affirmed that they could not afford money for a naval base at Singapore, or were not going to spend a penny on defence because it would be an affront to their neighbours, I could understand such a stand. But I cannot understand their expenditure of money on defence in Great Britain, and their refusal to do so at Singapore on the score that the lattest scheme would be an affront to neighbours in the Pacific. I think, however, that when the British Government have had time to consider the circumstances that they will realize that in the interest of the Empire, the welfare of which, I believe, they have sincerely at heart, it will be necessary to spend money on the Singapore base. So much for the question cf defence. It is now for us, if we believe in the principle of Imperial integrity, to declare where we stand on this defence question. I have had occasion in this House, when speaking on defence, to call attention to the fact that the attitude of the Australian Labour party, as a party, is most unsatisfactory on this particular question. I discussed the reason for their attitude. I pointed out that there was in the Labour party in Australia an element that was absolutely opposed to defence expenditure in any shape or form ; an element that, hating the very idea of Empire, had no love for the British Empire, and would bring it to naught to-morrow if it had the power. There is that element within the ranks of the Labour party to-day. I am satisfied, however, that at heart and in essence the Labour movement is absolutely loyal ; but, unfortunately, this element, to which I refer, is doing the damage. Only the other day the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour party in New South Wales referred to the challenge of Communism within the ranks of the Labour party. The Communists, we were told, had thrown down an impudent challenge which ought to be taken up by every man who had the interests of Labour at heart. It is this element within its ranks that makes it very hard, indeed, for those of the Labour party who have no sympathy with Communism, and who, I believe, are loyal to the Empire, to do what is reasonable for the defence of Australia. Their attitude may be accounted for by the fact that they depend very largely upon these men for political support. These Communists, it must be remembered, are claiming to be the directing and moulding forces of the Labour movement in Australia, and their presence in the Labour party is responsible for the attitude of Labour within the walls of this Parliament on a great question like defence.
– Hear, hear ! The honorable member has them all listening.
– I am glad to know that, and I am sure honorable members opposite know that there is nothing personal in my remarks on this subject.
– They aro taking them lying down.
– Are we? We are prepared to meet honorable members in the constituencies at any time on this issue.
– I am simply stating what I feel ought to be done to strengthen, not to weaken, the bonds of the Empire. We ought to stand together. Those who do not believe in this Revolutionary Socialism which is being preached within the ranks of the Labour party should put these men in their places, and stand shoulder to shoulder with those who believe not only in the principle of Imperial integrity but in the principle of Imperial defence.
I do not desire to take up the time of the House further, but I would again like to express the hope that honorable members will calmly consider the remarks made by the Prime Minister this afternoon. Every honorable member who listened to his address must acknowledge its reasonableness, the fine spirit in which it was delivered, and the broad outlook taken by the Leader of the Government. It was a closely reasoned speech, and I think it is due to the Prime Minister, on an important issue like this, that honorable members should not only listen to what he may have to say, but also express their opinions upon the questions involved. I conclude by expressing the hope that if the results of the Prime Minister’s mission to England are not tangible at the moment, they will bear fruit in the days to come, and that, as time goes on, we shall see the Empire growing in strength with its component parts standing together in the interests not only of the Empire itself, but of humanity at large.
.- I regret the attitude of the Labour party on this question for more than one reason. The first and personal reason is that I have left in Sydney notes which I had made on the defence question. Therefore, owing to the somewhat clever, but misguided, tactics of honorable members opposite, I am, in a sense, unprepared. But defence is a subject upon which I can speak almost at any time and anywhere. Before I deal with the issue before the House, I wish to express regret at the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and honorable members sitting behind him. He is a man for whom I have the deepest respect, both in the House and outside. Whenever he rises to address the House he is listened to with the greatest respect by every honorable member. It is unfortunate, therefore, that on matters of the gravest importance, affecting not only Empire commerce, but also the safety of the Empire, there is silence on the Opposition benches, where sit men with great natural ability, from whom we might expect to hear something at a time like this. I am sorry they have taken this stand, and I arn sure that before the debate is over they will be a little more sorry than we are. The Labour party, by its attitude, has done - what? It has unfurled a great banner which will be read by the people of Australia. What does that banner say? It says, “ You, the people, can no longer trust our party with the safety of the Empire.” Members of the Opposition may laugh, but the matter is too serious to be thrust aside with a grin.
– Why does the honorable member devote so much attention to us?
– Standing where I do to-night, I can hear- interjections without the aid of the instrument which the Kaiser presented to me, but I wish to assure the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that he will not be able to lead me off the trail by interjections. There has been some reference in the newspapers recently to alleged dissension in the ranks of the two parties which compose the Composite Ministry. I do not know whether those statements are true, but something has happened to-day to consolidate the forces on this side o-f the House. Members of the Opposition will regret their action to-day, as long as they continue to sit in this House, for they have done something to bind together the forces in opposition to them. They have also conveyed to the Prime Minister one of the greatest compliments ever paid to him. In his speech this afternoon he asked the Leader of the Opposition and his party to give their views on certain points, and challenged them to do so. Instead of accepting his invitation they now sit quiet. Why? Is it that they dare not state their opinions? Are they afraid to do so? What is behind their inaction? They have virtually admitted that the points made by the Prime Minister are too strong for them to “ answer. They have said nothing on the defence question, although I have a lurking suspicion that there is more behind their inaction than is apparent. They may be waiting for honorable members on this side of the House to talk, so that towards the end of the debate some of them may be able to speak on the subject. That may or may not be so; but their attitude to-night is a “ smack in the face “ to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been thronging the streets of Melbourne during the past few days to give a great and glorious welcome to the officers and men of our Royal Navy, and to express to them thanks for what they did for the Empire before and during the last war. Members of the Opposition now sit in silence when a proposition is made to strengthen the Empire’s defence by Australia providing two light cruisers. They have uttered not a word of approval or otherwise. The people, when the opportunity comes to them, will give their answer to such tactics. I do not want to repeat one word, if I can avoid it, of the speech which I delivered in this House last June, on my return from Japan. It dealt mainly with the defence of Australia, but I want to summarize it again, and show Australia’s true position. I desire to raise the question whether the Government is acting wisely in spending over £5,000,000 on two ships, and to discuss what should be done in formulating a settled naval programme when the Prime Minister brings down the Bill to deal with “the £2,500,000 reserve. I am expressing only my personal opinion, based on a study of the question for thirty years, plus my naval service, and after having recently travelled through the East. The position in the Pacific may be summed up in the words of the Sydney Morning Herald, some time ago - “ The uncertainty of the nations in the Pacific.” What is that uncertainty? There is the uncertainty between Japan and the United States over the Philippines, and the Japanese in California. Japan’s attitude was explained to me by one of her Ministers, whose views are well worth repeating because they were stated so cleverly that there was practically no answer to them. He said to me, “ The Monroe Doctrine ? Yes, it is a great doctrine ; but I turn to the President of the United States of America, and say to him, ‘ A great doctrine ! A great ideal ! But what means this Monroe Doctrine? It means that the door of America is locked, and the President of the United States of America walks np to it, opens it, and tells the people behind him that they may look through it at the great world beyond. When they step forward, he tells them to move back, and informs them that although they may look, they cannot pass through it. He tells them that they must not take part in anything that happens outside that door.’ That is a great doctrine, Mr. Marks,” and, hitting the table hard, he said, “Yes; but I would also say to the President, ‘ Why have you got the Philippines armed to the teeth within three days of my Yokohama, with your 1.6-in. guns, your 30,000 troops, your air force, your submarines, and your cruisers V Do you blame me for having my great navy ? I do not want any trouble with America, but I must protect myself.” That is the uncertainty today, and it is a very serious one. There is, however, another uncertainty in the Pacific, and that exists between Japan and Australia. It arises because we have pinned our faith to the White Australia doctrine, in which I believe, and for which I ‘would fight and die. But the Japanese, like honorable members opposite, believe in breaking up large estates. They do not favour one man occupying too much land. We have a great country in Australia, with only 5,500,000 people in it. Although we do not fully occupy the country, we refuse to let any one else occupy it. I believe the Japanese have not the slightest intention of attacking us, but their population problem is very serious. They have over 63,000,0^0 people, and an annual birth rate of 770,000. It does not require many more added to the number of births to make 1,000,000 a year. They have, not room to live in their own country, and have nowhere else to go.- They can see great empty spaces in Australia, but they are not allowed to come here. That represents the uncertainty which exists between us and Japan, and, together with the uncertainty between Japan and the United States of America, it creates a situation in the Pacific that may lead to serious trouble. I do not say that it will, but it may.” Are we to stand by and do nothing like honorable members opposite ? These are anxious days. I think we can gather that from the attitude of the Prime Minister to-night. There is no use in wasting words, and I do not propose to do so any longer. The attitude of honorable members of the Opposition forces me to speak as I do.’ What is Australia going to do ? If a base is not built at Singapore are we to have a great naval base at Darwin, on the east coast, or the west coast ot Australia ‘ I say No.” And why ? Because Japan is so powerful in her Navy alone that if we spent £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 upon naval bases and ships solely as a defence against Japan we might just as well cast the money into the ocean, because its expenditure would have no effect whatever. Japan is too far ahead ; we cannot overtake her. What are we to do ? The only thing we can do is to strengthen the Imperial fleet by providing such a- quota or unit of ships as Australia can afford, aDd which can at any time join up anywhere with the great British Navy and form part of a complete and efficient whole. I am proud now to think, though I may appear to be boasting, that in the speech which -I delivered last June, I said that Australia’s minimum defence should be four 10,000- ton post Washington cruisers, six long distance submarines, and the requisite Naval and Military Air Service. Before the Prime Minister left I repeated that to him privately, and now we have had Admiral Field at the banquet given here the other night saying practically the same thing in the same words. The Government, thank God, have come down to this House and recommended the building of two post Washington cruisers. Why do I speak in such terms of confidence about these ships ? _ It is because I have been on them, and know what they are like. They are heavy cruisers, magnificent vessels. They are oil burners, fast, well armed ; they can. keep the seas for weeks, and have free-board enough to stand all seas. They represent the ideal ship, as Admiral Field said, for the protection of trade routes. That is about all we can do. Where are our trade routes?. One is eastwards from Fremantle to Capetown, and the other northwards tothe Suez Canal. It is these cruisers that will protect our trade so long as they areable to do it. On the east coast of Austrafia we can have super-submarines that will frighten off the great enemy ships, that otherwise might come here, whilst the cruisers are protecting our traderoutes. If, and I make the supposition only for argument’s sake, Japan were to attack us, our cruisers could do that only for a certain length of time. The time would arrive when the great submarines and the cruisers would have to get together and join the British Fleet somewhere as best they could because the power of Japan would be too strong for us if we continued to act alone. “With regard to the Singapore dock, I have the very greatest respect for the sincerity of Mr. Ramsay Macdonald’s views. There is a good deal in what he says. What I do not personally like about the Singapore dock proposal is that it is assumed that it will take ten years to build the dock. I remember that the expert advisers of His Majesty’s Imperial Government of to-day, and of Mr. Baldwin’s Government of yesterday have, withoutone exception, advised their Prime Ministers that in the whole outlook of Imperial Naval defence the Singapore dock, in their opinion, is absolutely necessary and vital for the protection of the Empire’s trade routes, and, perhaps, for the safety of the Empire itself. Well, that is enough for me. Every man to his job, and what right have we to say to Beatty, to Jellicoe, to Field, and to all those men who have won their reputations, “ You are wrong, and do not know what you are talking about.” Australia should in this case subscribe towards the building of the dock, if its construction is proceeded with, a sum of £1,000,000, spread over ten years. Its construction would materially help us in Australia, but there is something further behind the proposed Singapore dock. We may flatter ourselves that its construction is proposed for our safety only, but that is not so. There is the great country of India, with something like 500,000,000 of people, to be considered. There is Egypt also to be taken into account. I have letters from friends in the Army in India in which they inform me that that country is seething with sedition. The position there is extremely dangerous, and God knows what may happen. A dock at Singapore is wanted by the Admiralty for the protection of that part of the British Empire and Egypt, as well as for the protection of Australia should anything happen. I say that we should do our share. I compliment the Government upon proposing to go on with the construction of the two cruisers that have been referred to, and I trust that there will not be a delay of twelve months or so in preparing plans and getting the construction of one at least of the cruisers started at. Cockatoo Island dock. In 1920 we had it in evidence given before a Royal Commission, of which the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), the late Hon. T. J. Ryan, and I were members, that no finer body of expert ship-builders are to be found anywhere in the world for the building of warships than those who are employed at the Cockatoo Island dock. The Adelaide was turned out a trifle late, and its construction was somewhat expensive, but th-u was not the fault of the workers at the Cockatoo Island dock. It was caused through the . Admiralty adding as the months went on different parts to the ship’s armament and plating, and certain constructional alterations had to be made. To-day naval officers tell me that the Adelaide can go anywhere, and will be admired by the greatest engineers in th* world as a very fine piece of work in shipbuilding. If an order for one of the cruisers is given to the Cockatoo Island dockyard, I would appeal to the men at the yard to put their hearts into the job, and turn out what will be one of the most modern post- Washington 10,000-ton cruisers in the whole world, so that we may be proud bo look on the ship and claim that she is Australian-built. I congratulate the Government upon making no move for the establishment of a base other than at Singapore. Itwould be a waste of money for two reasons to establish such a base. If the Singapore Base were ultimately proceeded with that would relieve us of great expenditure upon docks in Australia. If we spent millions upon a dock on the east coast or on the north coast, it would be an easy matter for some foreign power to come along and in a few hours help itself to that dock. What we must have, if we build the two 10,000-ton cruisers, is a dock to accommodate them. We may have such a dock in Western Australia. We mus.t make provision for necessary oil supplies, so that they may from time to time fill up their oil bunkers, but we should not lay out more money than we can possibly help in great repairing shops, but should, if possible, make Cockatoo Island dock our centre for repair work. It could be done there. We have at Cockatoo dockyard some of the finest machinery to be found in any part of the world. If we do not keep up the strength of the Royal Navy we may have trouble, because the Navy stands behind the Washington Conference, the Versailles Treaty, and indeed all treaties. If honorable members opposite had visited foreign countries as I have, where one travels hundreds of thousands of miles without seeing the Union Jack, and then suddenly beheld that flag, or the White Ensign fluttering at the stern of one of His Majesty’s ships in foreign waters, they would appreciate what the unseen power of the British Navy means. Up in the East I saw two small cruisers of the “ D “. class, such as we had in Australia, steaming their way through the inland sea of Japan. It was not those two ships that every one thought of, but it was what they represented - the silent might of the British Navy. In conclusion, I would say that that Navy is the police force of the whole world. The Australian people, by their reception of the visiting British Special Service Squadron, have told us legislators that they are proud of that Navy. In other words, they have said, “ Trifle not with it.” They have informed us that we should add to that Navy such a quota of ships as we can afford, and such vessels as would prove efficient at all times and anywhere.
. -Of ten enough, unfortunately, the time of this House is taken up with voluminous remarks on more or less unimportant subjects - subjects which sometimes might almost be called parochial. But to-night the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has given us an opportunity of dealing with great international questions of the utmost importance to Australia and the Empire. Wo have boasted that since the war we have entered the ranks of the nations, and one would have thought that honorable members generally would welcome an opportunity to discuss the momentous issues with which we are bound henceforth to be concerned.. We have been given an opportunity to discuss and in some degree determine our place and part in the Great British Empire. Thank God, the traditions of the British Parliament, and of most Parliaments that have been established on the pattern of the Mother of Parliaments, are of such a nature that when matters of national importance have been brought up for consideration, the Opposition has been willing for the time being to sink personal and party feelings, and to cooperate with His Majesty’s Government in coming to a right and proper decision upon those issues. I regret that that has not been our experience to-night. We often boast of. our traditions, and yet on. this occasion honorable members opposite are not prepared to uphold those traditions. It is astonishing to me that the members of the Opposition in this Parliament, who claim to represent half the people of Australia, have nothing to say on the subjects raised, although they are of vital significance to the people of this country, and of the whole world. Have they no ideas on these matters, or are they too ignorant to contribute to this debate ? Does it mean that they are indifferent to the big issues involved ? It may be that they are afraid to say what they think, or, most unworthy of all, to my mind, it may simply be that they are willing to sacrifice even great principles, such as those at stake, in order to secure a petty party advantage in tactics. It is well that the public should clearly understand the grave dereliction of duty for which honorable members opposite are responsible.
– Pardon me !
– The honorable member should ask for pardon from those whose interests he is here to represent, which he has so wilfully neglected. It may be well briefly to indicate some of the matters dealt with in the papers that have been put into our hands today. One is the relation of the United States of America to the League of Nations. We all well know the history of the Peace Conference, and the great contribution made through America’s late President to the terms of the Treaty that resulted from it. We recollect to what extent the formation of the League was due to the wonderful idealism of the late President Wilson, although many people have said that that idealism went too far. Some have said that his ideals were impracticable, but most of our mistakes have been due, not to setting our ideals too high, but to our failure to endeavour to realize them. When America refused to rally to the support of her great leader and his ideal for the establishment of a
League of Nations, a grave injury was done to the cause of peace and inter.national amity. The Prime Minister has brought back from the Imperial Conference resolutions which suggest the desirability of exerting influence upon America to bring her back to a recognition of her responsibility to other nations. And if we refuse to do what lies in our power to rally the great American Republic to the side of our own Empire in the cause of peace and the world’s prosperity, we are recreant to our duty to ourselves and all mankind. As a distinguished member of this House has been making statements in America which suggest that he scoffs at the idealism responsible for the formation of the League of Nations, it is particularly opportune that this Parliament should express itself very definitely in favour of that humanitarian conception. Honorable members opposite usually pose as the champions of the League of Nations. They are always talking of the possibility of the peace of the world being preserved through such an international body, but to-day, when asked to make some gesture which will help to induce America to return to that co-operation with the other nations which as so necessary to the peace of the world, they have remained silent, saying, in effect, that the matter is not sufficiently important for them to discuss. Have members of the Labour party nothing to say about such great questions as the Ruhr problem, and the economic situation of Europe generally ? Are they content to appear indifferent to those matters ? They seem to say that these problems are so trivial as to be not worth an expression of their opinion.
– Who has said that?
– That is undoubtedly the effect of the Labour party’s attitude. Honorable members opposite must be judged by what they have not said upon these important problems. The League of Nations is undoubtedly the greatest hope of the world. Every one desires to see it strengthened; but from members of the Opposition we are getting no constructive contribution. On other occasions, when a party advantage was to be gained, they were ready enough to stand up as advocates of the League of Nations, but when the opportunity is afforded to do something practical, they do nothing, and say nothing. They stand condemned by their silence. There are other resolutions which have an important bearing upon the status of Australia as a nation amongst nations. Members of the Labour party have repeatedly asserted the right of the Commonwealth to act independently in international affairs, but when an important proposal is made to insure such independence the Labour party can find nothing sufficiently important in it to discuss. If, unfortunately, the Labour party should some day attain power in the Commonwealth Parliament, the attitude of its members towards these important and international questions will assuredly not be forgotten. The people will remember their irresponsibility and unfitness to occupy the Treasury bench, as disclosed by the fact that when vital matters like these were submitted to them for discussion they treated them as of no importance. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is one of the most extraordinary proposals ever submitted to a Parliament. Last year, we listened to honorable members opposite stressing .the grave impropriety of the Commonwealth being dragged at the heels of the British Foreign Office, and acting obediently to any cabled message from the Imperial Government in regard to foreign affairs.
– There has since been a change in the personnel of the British Government.
– That interjection proves that the Imperial policy - of honorable members opposite is dictated by party tactics.
– We support a Government which will strive for peace rather than war.
– Repeatedly, last year, honorable members urged that Australia should not be slavishly bound to the foreign policy of the British Government, but should be better informed upon the subject of foreign relations, so that it might exercise an independent judgment thereon. Yet, to-day, the Leader of the Opposition proposed that this House should express approval of the foreign policy of the present Imperial Government.
– Because it makes for peace.
– The policy has never been stated. The honorable member asks us to act blindly - to accept something the nature of which we do not know.
– At any rate, that policy is not to create a Singapore naval base, and thus menace Japan and Holland.
– The honorable member is endeavouring to prove that the policy of the Labour party in Australia is identical with that of the Labour party in Great Britain. He seeks to run the Empire as a party concern. If the members of the Opposition think that the people of Australia are likely to swallow that, they are greatly mistaken.
– The honorable member has always regarded it as a party question.
– If the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) is of the opinion that it should not be regarded as such, why does he adopt his present attitude ?
– The honorable member should remember that there is a Labour Government in power in Great Britain.
– Some very important matters were dealt with under the heading of “ Foreign Relations.” I have been following the discussion very closely in the reports of the Conference, and, so far as these matters go, I fully support the resolutions as printed in the report, and trust this House will express its warm and hearty approval of the proposals of the Prime Minister. There is really nothing for me to say, because from what I have read of the proposals I am. strongly of the opinion that they should have our support. There are, however, other provisions in the document to which I intend to refer. Among the most important of the matters dealt with under the heading of Defence is the maintenance of the British Empire. The members of the Opposition consider that this is a matter of so little importance that discussion of it is unnecessary. They consider that there is nothing which calls for any expression of opinion on their part. They have no contribution to make to the debate, and no comments to offer on the discussion which has occurred. Are we to assume that the British Empire is of no importance or interest to them? If such is the case, why do they not say so? There have been re marks from time to time from honorable members opposite which have suggested that the British Empire is almost of no importance to them. Why should they not be honest? I venture to say that if the British Empire is of no importance to them, they have forfeited their right to represent a large section of the people of Australia. Any one who had witnessed the demonstrations during the last week or so would not suppose that the people of Australia entertain anything but the deepest feeling of affection, gratitude and devotion towards the British Empire and for all that it has done for them. I heard an honorable member to-night repudiate the idea, that a member of this Parliament should refer to Great Britain as “ Home.”
– Surely the honorable member is an Australian?
– Australia is my home, and I regard Great Britain as also my home, as it is the birth-place of my people and the home of the race which gave us the freedom and liberties which we now enjoy.
– That is cant and humbug.
– An honorable member who can so term the expression of such sentiments is himself a humbug.
– The remark of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) and the reply of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) are both disorderly, and must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw.
– I withdraw and apologize to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports for what I said. The subject, however, is one on which one might be justified in showing a little heat. We would not be in this House, exercising the powers which we enjoy, were it not for the glorious inheritance of liberty which we possess, and which has been handed down to us by the race in that country which we speak of as “ Home.” The necessity for the defence of the British Empire has increased by the action of the Opposition this evening, which discloses their complete indifference to great .issues. Are we to infer that they consider the Empire to be of little importance, and, like the
Russian Communists, .would prefer to see it go down in a welter of blood rather than suffer a class loss ? It would appear that that is their idea. Men who are indifferent to the importance of these great issues are merely endeavouring to hide worse feelings. If such is the case there is a greater necessity for us , who believe that our privileges are sacred, and must be preserved at any cost, to act, not merely for our own sake, but for the benefit of those who are to follow us. “With everything on the question of defence that is recorded in the papers circulated I heartily agree. The resolutions seem to embody what common sense and ordinary statesmanship must dictate. I wish now to refer briefly to the Singapore Base, for in this project our interest at present is undoubtedly centred. I do not profess to be a, technical expert on naval matters. With the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), I believe that the technical advisers and experts in the Navy must be the judges, but it appears to me that whether the base is at Singapore or elsewhere there must be a base from which naval operations in the Pacific could, if necessary, be conducted. Prom all that one can hear it appears that Singapore is the most suitable site, and if the present British Government has abandoned the proposal there are some serious questions which have to be considered. I was glad to learn from the Prime Minister that there is a possibility of the British Government reconsidering the question of the Singapore Base, and if anything which can be said in this House will assist the British Government in altering its decision it is our duty to speak:. There are two questions which I desire to ask, one of which was raised by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). If we consider it necessary to give a lead in regard to international peace and general disarmament, why is the British Air Force being increased ? The second question is this : If Australia is to defend herself, and the scheme suggested by the Government is carried out, must we not have some base from which to operate, either directly or indirectly, naval operations in the Pacific. If the base is established in Australia at Port Darwin as was suggested the other day, and it is made a basis for operations in the Pacific, will the British Government help us to construct it? It is quite obvious that that base would render the establishment of a base at Singapore unnecessary. Therefore, if a base is built in Australia on it will fall the responsibility for the defence, not only of the Pacific and our own particular interests in the Pacific, but also the defence of other parts of the British Empire, particularly India and the East. In these circumstances are we to be expected to bear the whole expense of such a base? I and most honorable members of this House would most cordially agree to contribute towards the cost of the Singapore Base because it will protect our interests, but if the Singapore Base is abandoned, and we build a base in Australia to protect our own and other Imperial interests, arc we to be expected to bear the whole of the expense incurred in building that base ? That is a most important point. If the action of the Imperial Government means, in effect, throwing upon Australia the whole responsibility for defending our- t selves and other parts of the Empire, I believe it is throwing an undue and unwarranted responsibility upon this Dominion. The motives of the Imperial Government are, no doubt, high, and I feel quite sure that that Government is sincere in its actions. One may, however, be perfectly sincere and yet completely mistaken. It would appear that the motives of the Imperial Government ‘ are as unreliable as the high motives expressed by honorable members of the Opposition in this House, because when those motives are translated into practice they lead to neglect of responsibility. That seems to me to be a justifiable expression of opinion. No doubt honorable Ministers must couch their opinions on these matters in careful phrasing. It is quite possible, however, for private members to use language a little stronger than that which Ministers would adopt. That may be the part that we have to play. Fortunately, the responsibility attached to the remarks of private members on international affairs is infinitesimal when compared with the responsibility which is attached to the remarks of a Prime Minister. Therefore, I feel that I can say that, while the action of the Imperial Government with regard to the Singapore Base may have been taken from the highest motives, it is a very short-sighted action, and is inconsistent with their attitude respecting home defence. It may also bear the construction of an endeavour to throw upon the Dominions the responsibility for undertaking work which rightly is not theirs.
I heartily concur in the decision of the Government to construct two light cruisers. The only point on which I have any doubt is where those cruisers should be built. We have recently had evidence of the undue cost of shipbuilding in Australia. The- Fordsdale apparently cost three times as much as it should have done. If we had a similar experience in building a cruiser in Australia, it would be a very serious tiling.
– Do not let us build anything in Australia !
– If we build a cruiser in Australia it may probably be found that, instead of the vessel costing £2,000,000, the expenditure upon it will be nearer £4,000,000. There is ample justification for such a belief. If we pay £4,000,000 to build a cruiser in Australia, we shall be spending on two a sum sufficient to obtain three from Great Britain. In the present state of the public finances that is a serious matter. If we can get three cruisers for the price that two would cost us by building one in Australia it is a matter for very grave consideration by the Government whether we -would be justified in spending the money in Australia.
– Thus speaks the patriot!
– He ought to be kicked out.
– There is very little need, for me to say much on the Economic Conference, because I spoke fully on the subject in this House last year. Honorable members know where I stand, and they know that I do not share the fiscal opinions held by many members on this side of the House. This matter is one of great importance to members of the Opposition. Why did they not give us an amendment on this question? Their amendment only deals with the Imperial Conference. The reason why they did not seek to amend the motion insofar as it deals with the Economic Conference is because they do not wish to disclose that their policy on this matter runs counter to the policy of the British Labour Government. The Australian Labour party is the only Labour party in the world which favours Protectionist principles. While they were very anxious to indicate to the Imperial Government that they favour the foreign policy of that Government right up to the hilt, they do not wish to disclose that they are entirely at variance from the Imperial Government with regard to its commercial policy.
– Where did the honorable member get his information that we are the only Labour party in the world in favour of Protection?
– Although I do not think any great trouble will accrue if these proposals are rejected - there is nothing wrong in my saying that I do not think they will effect the end they have in view - they have been brought in with the intention of doing something to relieve the Huge unemployment in Great Britain. Yet the Labour party in this country express no opinion about them, as if their effect upon the masses of the people at Home, whom they say are starving and unemployed, were a matter of no importance. Whether the measures suggested for the alleviation of the condition of these people are right or wrong is not the question. The fact remains that those who profess to be so sympathetic with the starving and unemployed masses of Great Britain remain silent, and declare that there is no contribution they can make in this debate. Upon this point, also, they stand condemned. . Although there may be some points in these proposals upon which I disagree with the Prime Minister - and he knows that I do so - the fact does not prevent me, and should not prevent any one else who differs from the right honorable gentleman, from paying a meed of admiration to him for his publicspirited work, and for the tremendous energy, great ability, and. whole-hearted sincerity of purpose he has displayed in prosecuting his task in Great Britain. He did what he thought was right. I do not think that he followed the right course in this matter. Nevertheless, I honour him for what he has done. I honour him for his honesty of purpose and strenuousness of effort. ‘ Yet when work of that sort has been done, and the gentleman who has represented Australia has come back after his strenuous work, presented to this Parliament the fruit of his labours, and asked us to discuss his report, deal with it, and advise him, a large section of the Parliament has chosen to remain seated, declaring that there is nothing in the report worthy of discussion. In doing so the Opposition are placing upon the Leader of the Government of Australia and the Leader of this House an indignity which is as undeserved by him as their action is unbecoming to them.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Stewart) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I understand that the Government propose to build two cruisers, and if the newspapers are to be believed, one of them is to be built outside Australia. To my mind, this Parliament, in considering a policy of shipbuilding, whether it be . for mercantile or war-like purposes, has an obligation to perform to many Australian artisans. “When it was decided to build ships in Australia, artisans in the different capitals of the States were invited to proceed to various dockyards and train themselves in the art of shipbuilding ; and many men, accepting this invitation in all good faith, gave up lucrative jobs in order to proceed to localities where the work of constructing ships was to be undertaken. I have nothing to say about Cockatoo Island, where, I suppose, one of these cruisers will be built, but I take this opportunity to point out that all the men in charge of the different departments at Walsh Island, Newcastle, were . sent Home by the Government to learn the art of building warships. There are now on the island men who have been trained in this particular class of work, and if shipbuilding ceases,many will be thrown out of employment, and will be left with partially-paid-for homes, and in those circumstances that always “accompany the Cessation of an industry. There is, therefore, an obligation upon the Commonwealth Parliament to see that not one but two cruisers are built in Australia, and that one is built at Walsh Island, and I trust that the Government will seriously consider the suggestion that as it is Australian money that is to be spent upon the building of these vessels, Australian workmen should be employed upon them.
.- Shipbuilding affects not only those immediately employed in the dockyard, but also a number of industries’ outside too numerous for me to take up the time of the House in mentioning them. There is, however, one industry particularly concerned; I refer to the steel works at Newcastle. Many friends of the Government are shareholders in the Broken Hill Proprietary, having put their money into the industry in the belief that the Government intended to continue the shipbuilding policy inaugurated in Australia during the war. Even the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) in his madness for Free Trade got the surprise of his life when, as a member of a Committee visiting Newcastle, he learned that in Australia we could produce the iron work that is being turned out for the purpose of building ships. I feel that I shall have his support when I ask the Government to pause and consider well before they make any attempt to have cruisers built outside Australia. It has been our desire for many years past to make this country self-contained. Nothing makes an Australian prouder than to see a warship proceeding down Sydney Harbor, about which he can say, “That boat was built in Australia by Australian workmen.” Every one who has inspected the Fordsdale, and knows anything about’ shipbuilding, declares that he has not seen such good workmanship in any other ship that is ploughing the main. I could occupy the time of the House by giving many reasons for having these cruisers built in Australia, but I trust that they will be built out of revenue. When the Labour Government were in power the battle cruiser Australia-, which is to be blown to pieces in a few days, was built out of revenue, and I hope that the same procedure will be adopted when building future war vessels. A certain amount of money should be set aside each year for this purpose, and thus prevent the introduction into this House of Loan Bills providing for the purchase of vessels from Britain. If ships were built in Australia out of revenue moneys, no interest would have to be paid, and the vessels would belong wholly to’ Australia. No nation, except the Japanese, who had two boats built in England, purchase men o’ war from other nations; they build their own vessels. Australia is a nation, and we are proud of it. At the time of Federation I used to shout that fact from the housetops. I ask honorable members to insist on Australia building its own warships. If this is not done it will be a disgrace to this Parliament. I consider the Prime Minister to be not an Australian, but an Englishman, but I hope he will sink his English leanings and work in the interests of Australia.
– I was born in Australia.
– At every opportunity I have endeavoured to build up this country. I want other nations to mind their own business and allow Australia to conduct its own affairs. I cannot understand why the Prime Minister, while in England, did not tell the people of the other side of the world to keep their hands off this Greater Britain in the Southern Seas. I reiterate that the policy of the Government should be to build warships with Australian money, and to own and control an independent Navy.
– In reply to the honorable gentlemen representing Newcastle and East Sydney, 1 say that this discussion is a little premature. We have not yet obtained the authority of this House for the construction of the two cruisers which have been referred to, but I am very pleased to learn that the Government can rely upon the enthusiastic support of these two gentlemen when it proposes their construction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Houseadjourned at 10.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 March 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240327_reps_9_106/>.