9th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker(rt.Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
SUPPLY BILL (No. 2) 1925-1926.
Seizure op Smuggled Jewellery - Tariff Board’s Reports - Geelong Customs House.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether his officers recently seized a considerable quantity of smuggled jewellery in Sydney? If so, what was the value of the jewellery, and how does the department propose todispose of it?
– Some weeks ago a very clever seizure of smuggled jewellery was made by two Customs officers- in Sydney. The smuggler was subsequently prosecuted and fined, and he has since left the country. The jewellery, which is estimated to be worth about £15,000, has been confiscated. Consideration is now being given to the disposal of it. I favour selling it- in London, because the proceeds would form a useful addition to our credit there.
– Will the Minister lay on the table of the House the report of the Tariff Board in regard to the local manufacture of hats?
– I shall include it in the further reports to be placed upon the table.
– Has the Minister laid upon the table the report of the Tariff Board upon the timber industry?
– Not yet.
– This morning I received a letter from the Geelong Chamber of Commerce complaining of the congestion at the Customs House there owing to the considerable increase in imports. About three weeks ago the Minister acceded to a request I then made that additional staff should be sent to Geelong, but the congestion continues. Willthe honorable gentleman see that sufficient staff issent to Geelong to cope with the increased work?
– If the honorable member will forward to me a copyof the letterI shall consult the ComptrollerGeneral regarding the matter, and if further stuff is required at Geelong I shall urge the Public Service Board to take the necessary action.
– I understand that an amount of £2,000 has been placed on the Estimates for the purpose of supplying wireless receiving sets to lighthouses. Will the Minister for Trade and Customs anticipate the decision of Parliament in regard to that item and supply the receiving sets to the lighthousekeepers at once?
– I am under the impression that the amount mentioned was included in the Loan Bill recently passed. If so, I shall get in touch with the proper authority and arrange for the money to be expended immediately.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories whether the notice of the department has been drawn to a letter appearing in yesterday’s Argus, under the heading “ Native Unrest in New Guinea,” and signed “ G. B. Jackson, Rabaul,” in which the following passage occurred : -
Unless some action is taken in the immediate future to make the natives conscious of the authority of those in charge of themthe lives of many Australians will be jeopardized.
I have received private communications of the same tenor, and I ask the Minister to send a radiogram to the Administrator at Rabaul for information as to the exact state of affairs.
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister immediately and furnish a reply as soon as possible.
Debate resumed from 14th August (vide page 1471), upon motion by Sir Littleton Groom -
That the paper be printed.
– I have read -with keen interest the report of the Australian Delegation to the Fifth Assembly of the League of Nations and also the speeches delivered by the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) last month. I express my appreciation of the services rendered by those gentlemen, because I . know that the work at Geneva is strenuous and difficult. When thinking of the progress of the League of Nations I recall some remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) when addressing the Second Assembly in 1921. The right honorable gentleman said that it appeared to him that almost too much had been attempted during the past year. He went on to say -
We are at present in our infancy, and it appears to me we must walk slowly - discreetly. The great objective of theLeague of Nations, as I understand it, is to render war between the nations of the earth more difficult; the subsidiary objective is to endeavour to improve the general conditions of mankind throughout the world.
With regard to the primary objective of rendering war more difficult, it seems to me that very little has been done. To-day the whole world desires peace, and the great difficulty about bringing about disarmament is that some of the nations who desire peace as much as we do are without our portals.
The position to-day is very much as it was in 1921; some of the ‘principal powers are still without the portals of the League. The Attorney-General, when presenting the report of the last delegation, said -
I realize also that the reduction of armaments to be effective must be general; and the United States of America and Germany must be parties to the agreement. We should consider the position of the other great Englishspeaking nation, and endeavour to facilitate its entrance into this arrangement.
The Leader of the Opposition said -
I am an admirer of the League of Nations. I am one who has always advocated it, but 1 con see nothing but failure for it if it is not handled differently.
The honorable gentleman also said that as the League could not succeed because one or two powerful nations remained aloof from it, and the position was hopeless. He added -
It is a waste of money to try to forward the League of Nations so long as big nations remain outside it.
I ventured the opinion in April, 1924, that the League’s greatest disability was the non-inclusion of the United States of America and other powers. The AttorneyGeneral stated that the most pressing question before the Fifth Assembly was the limitation of armaments, and be pointed out that from the very inception of the League that has been regarded as one of its most important problems. The result of the work of the League during the first four years of its existence towards its first and most important objective - the maintenance of world peace - was the draft Treaty of Mutual Assistance agreed to by the Fourth Assembly, and submitted for approval to the Governments of the countries which are members of the League. As honorable members know, it was rejected. The Treaty of Mutual Assistance aimed at strengthening the provisions of article 16 of the Covenant of the League. That article provides -
Should any member of the League resort to war in disregard of its covenants under Articles 12, 13 or 15. it shall ipso facto be deemed tohave committed an act of war against all other members of theLeague, which hereby undertake immediately to subject it to the severanceof all trade or financial relations, the prohibition of all intercourse between their nationals and the nationals of thecovenant-breaking State, and the prevention of all financial, ‘ commercial, or personal intercoursebetween the nationals of the covenant-breaking State and the nationals of any other State, whether a member of the League or not.
It shall be the duty of the Council in such case to recommend to the several Governments concerned what effective military, naval, or air force the members of the League shall severally contribute to the armed forces to be used to protectthe covenants of the League.
The members of the League agree, further, that they will mutually support one another in the financial and economic measures which are taken under this article, in order to minimize the loss and inconvenience resulting from theabove measures, and that they will mutually support one another in resisting any special ‘measures aimed at one of their number by the covenant-breaking State, and that they will take the necessary steps to afford passage through their territory to the forces of any of the members of the League which are cooperating to protect the covenants of Hit League.
Any member of the League which has violated any covenant of the League may lie declared to be no longer a member of the League by a vote of the Council concurred iu by the Representatives of all the other members of the League represented thereon.
The Treaty of Mutual Assistance was based on the underlying idea that if countries can rely, should they be attacked, on the co-operative assistance of all other countries, they will be prepared to reduce their armaments and maintain them at a much lower level than at present. The draft treaty embodied the following principles: - (.1) Should a country be attacked, the other signatories undertook to come immediately to its aid; (2) the Council of the League should declare within four days of the outbreak of hostilities which State had been attacked, and which, consequently, had the right to claim assistance from the other signatories to the treaty, but the decision of the Council must be unanimous; (3) the Council was empowered to determine what countries should be called upon to furnish assistance. The Treaty of Mutual Assistance did not set out to provide any machinery other than that which already exists under the Covenant for the settlement of international disputes. It accepted the existing machinery. Its one object was to facilitate aid to an attacked State from the other members of the international community who are in the best position to furnish it. The Secretary-General of the League of Nations wrote to Lord Curzon, then Foreign Secretary, on 25th October, 1923, forwarding for the consideration of the British Government a copy of the report of the Third Committee of the Assembly on the draft Treaty of Mutual Assistance. There followed almost immediately a change of government in Great Britain, and it was Mr. Ramsay MacDonald who, as Prime’ Minister and Foreign Secretary, replied to the SecretaryGeneral on the 10th July, 1924, rejecting the draft treaty, and stating reasons why “ in the eyes of His Majesty’s Government, it held out no serious prospects of advantage sufficient to compensate the world for the immense complication of international relations it would create.” Honorable members have read in the papers supplied to them the reasons given. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald was Prime Minister when the Fifth Assembly met, and, speaking of the Treaty of Mutual Assistance, he said -
Now let us be quite clear upon one thing. The British Government has not given an adverse report upon the draft Treaty of Mutual Assistance because it is indifferent to the problem of international security. That is not true.
Ho went on to say -
We do not believe that military alliances will bring security. We believe that a military alliance within an agreement for security is like a grain of mustard seed - small to begin with. It in the essential seed of the arrangement, and that seed, with the years, will grow and grow until at last the tree produced from it will overshadow the whole of -the heavens, and we shall be back in exactly the military position in which we found ourselves in 1014.
Many objections were raised to the draft treaty during the discussions at. Geneva in 1924. It was contended, and rightly so, that the obligations to be assumed by each country were left indeterminate, and also that under the terms of the draft treaty it was not possible to determine with certainty, or even to determine at all, which State was the aggressor. Probably that was the most important objection to the draft treaty. At (he last Assembly Mr. MacDonald came fresh from the successful Loudon conference, and, supported by the Prime Minister of France, urged the principle of compulsory arbitration, the final result being the Protocol. When considering this Protocol or any other proposal for the maintenance of world peace, we must remember always that three of the greatest powers remain out of the League of Nations, and that the League is really not the world organization which was contemplated when the Covenant was drawn up and signed. We all agree that everything must be done to develop the machinery of arbitration, conciliation, and judicial settlement of disputes; but until all the great powers are represented at the League meetings, and are prepared to discuss sanctions and warlike obligations, it is doubtful whether this question should be officially approached. That Protocol is based on the principle that the existing machinery for the settlement of international disputes provided by the Covenant of the League of Nations is not adequate, and that the coercive provisions of that Covenant are not sufficiently comprehensive. So far as the settlement of international disputes is concerned, the Protocol is based on compulsory arbitration, which would become the one method of settling all disputes. At present, under the Covenant members of the League of Nations have undertaken to submit only certain classes of disputes to arbitration or judicial settlement. Other classes of disputes, which are regarded as not being suitable for arbitration, go to the Council for investigation and report. There is thus no compulsory arbitration under the Covenant of the League. In order to put the machinery for sanctions into operation the authors of the Protocol have established the criterion, as it were, of an “ act of aggression.” It is maintained in the Protocol that in the event of a State resorting to war without submitting the dispute to arbitration as provided for in the Protocol, or failing to carry out an arbitral award, the Council of the League is empowered to call on other signatory States to apply the economic and military sanctions provided for in article 16 of the Covenant. If the Covenant were taken with the Protocol the existing obligations under article 16 of the Covenant would thus be considerably accentuated and made more onerous. The underlying assumption of the Protocol is the same as that of the Treaty of Mutual Assistance, namely, that when the States have organized a system of mutual co-operation to operate in favour of any one of them th:it may be attacked they will be prepared to reduce their armaments. It is admitted that the Protocol definitely contemplates the assumption of some obligations, and the running of some attendant risks in the interests of world peace by States who seem themselves to be in a position of complete security. Addressing the Council meeting p.t Geneva in March last, Mr. Austen Chamberlain pointed out that His Majesty’s Government saw insuperable objections to signing and ratifying the Protocol as then presented. He again pointed out that the League, as then constituted, was not the League designed by the framers cf the Covenant. He said that it was never supposed that among the States not included in the League would be so many of the powerful nations of the world, and that least of all was it foreseen that one of those States would be the United States of America. It was his view that the economic sanction was entirely changed by the existence of powerful economic communities outside the League. He further pointed out that the Protocol suggested the idea that the vital business of the League was not so much to promote friendly co-operation and reasoned harmony in the management of international politics, as it was to preserve peace by organizing war, and possibly war on a large scale. In concluding his remarks he said -
Since the general provisions of the Covenant cannot be stiffened with advantage, and since the “extreme cases” with which (lie Lea true may have to deal with probably affect nations or groups of nations more nearly than others. His Majesty’s Government conclude that the best way of dealing with the situation is, with the co-operation of the League, to supplement the Covenant, by making special arrangements in order to meet special needs.
Thus it would appear that to-day the Protocol is dead. The proposed security pact and the talk of similar pacts to be drawn up between some of the States of Europe indicate a leaning again towards one of the provisions of the draft Treaty of Mutual Assistance, that of regional agreements within the general agreement. Soon, apparently, the position of the European States will be very much as it was prior to the war, with one great difference, namely, the existence of the League of Nations - which, to my mind, is a great influence towards the peaceful settlement of disputes - and the obligation of members of the League to publish to the world all pacts and agreements entered into by them.
.- Our commitments under the Treaty of Versailles, from which is derived the structure of the League of Nations, must always be regarded as a non-party matter, inasmuch as- they must continue no matter what party happens to be in office in this Commonwealth. Therefore, I approach this question in a non-party spirit. I regret the marked apathy that is displayed in Australia in regard to foreign affairs and the trend of international politics. That apathy is not confined to the general public. - I am sorry to say that it. is shown also by the press and by many of our public men. It may be considered presumptuous on my part to say so; but the great newspapers of Australia devote a considerable amount of their space to ill-considered and, in some instances, ignorant, criticism of our international commitments. I regret the apathy of honorable members of this Parliament in regard ‘ to our responsibilities under the League of Nations. I am speaking without heat or passion, and 1 hope that my criticism in this regard will be taken in the spirit in which it is tendered. This great Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, carrying as it does a tremendous burden of responsibility to this generation, and to generations to come, in regard to questions affecting the peace of the world and disarmament, can find time to discuss subjects of purely parochial consequence - as, for instance, the devotion of an entire day to the discussion of main road construction - and yet thrusts aside the discussion of matters relating to our commitments under the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations. It discusses these questions to-day only as a result of repeated representations to the Government. Speaking again in a nonparty spirit, I maintain that the Government is to be reproached for its failure to apprehend its responsibilities in this regard. The Fifth Assembly of the League of Nations met at Geneva in September of last year for the purpose of seeing if effect could be given to the fundamental principle upon which the’ whole Covenant of the League is based, namely, security, disarmament, and arbitration. As a result, for the first time in history 44 nations, through their representatives, agreed to what is known as the “ Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes.” One of our delegates, my Leader (Mr. Charlton”), who has always been unswerving in his. devotion to the cause of peace, returned to Australia in December, and the other delegate (Sir Littleton Groom) in January. But the Government did not think the matter of sufficient consequence to call Parliament together to consider it, and allowed it to remain in abeyance until a few weeks ago when the delegates submitted their report to Parliament. We are discussing it now because of persistent requests on my part, and on the part of the honorable members for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) and North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), and others. It is positively scandalous that the national parliament of Australia does not give adequate attention to foreign relations. Let us contrast the treatment accorded to this Parliament by the Government with that which has been extended to the Parliaments of Great Britain, Canada, and New Zealand by their respective Governments. The British Parliament discussed the Protocol at great length shortly after the British delegates returned from Geneva, and the Canadian and New Zealand Parliaments gave it very deliberate consideration. The Commonwealth Government, however, ignored this Parliament, and sent a dispatch to the British Government outlining various reasons why the Protocol should be condemned, but not suggesting any amendments. It thus contradicted the attitude of its two delegates to the Assembly of the League, and also to an extent pronouncements of the Prime Minister himself. This action certainly showed a lamentable lack of sense of proportion, to say the least of it. I should like to direct attention to one or two other indications of the neglect of the Government in this matter, and of departures from a recently established practice. In a fit of political benevolence the Government saw fit to invite the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) to attend the Fifth Assembly of the League.
– That course was recommended by a representative of the Government at the previous Assembly.
– The honorable member is right. The Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse), who was a nominee of the Government at the Fourth Assembly of the League, recommended that the Opposition also should be represented on future delegations. I regret that this course was not followed on the present occasion, because we should endeavour to free our delegations from that party spirit which necessarily characterizes most of the debates in this House. It is also essential chat we should strive for continuity of policy in regard to our commitments under the League. Some explanation of why the Government has abandoned the practice is necessary. A3 the matter stands, in the event of a change of Government, the Labour party is freed from any obligation to extend a similar privilege to its opponents when it obtains office. This vexed question is not the concern of Australia alone. The complaint has also been made in Britain by the leaders of various parties and by international publicists and jurists that the British Government sends only representatives of its side in politics. It is regrettable that commitments under the League have become the football of factional bitterness in the different portions of the Empire.
– Our attitude does not differ from that of the other dominions, or of the British Government itself. The Labour Government in Britain adopted the same course.
– I am aware of that, but there was an opportunity for this Government to rise above party politics. I am not discussing this subject in a captious spirit. The Government had an opportunity to set an example to the rest of the world. By a common-sense course of action, it could have kept our treaty obligations out of the field of party politics. I regret . that it should be necessary for me to criticize the action of the British Government; but I think it is little short of a crime that Britain did not send to the present Assembly of the League experts in foreign policy such as Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, as well as the Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Austen Chamberlain). Had this been done, there might have been some prospect of continuity of policy. Unfortunately the whole business has been characterized by such intense party bitterness that one can only conclude that the various Governments are trying to discredit, this effort to bring about international peace. The present Government has also been dilatory in regard to Australia’s obligations as a member of the international labour organization, and it was not until I raised the matter here Thatt he conventions and recommendations from that body were transmitted tothe respective State “ Governments. This international organization has only recently received prominence in the press owing to speeches made by Lord Burnham, one of the visiting press delegates to Aus tralia, who recognizes the importance of the international labour organization of the League of Nations, in bringing about world economic co-operation.’ The work of this organization must necessarily be of great importance to Australia. If we can ensure the observance of an eight-hour day convention in China and Japan, and other low-wage countries, and in this way raise the economic standards of the various coloured peoples of the world, the competition between them and advanced countries like Australia would be, to some extent, equalized. But nothing has been done towards bringing that about. The same thing may be said of the convention of the League of Nations with respect to the traffic in opium and noxious drugs. It was not until 1 had repeatedly brought that matter under the notice of the Government that any action was taken to ratify the convention. Again, there is room for criticism of the Government for its failure to lay down a formula for the guidance of its delegates to the Assembly of the League of Nations. Our representatives attend the Assembly, enter into certain commitments, and, upon their return and owing to pressure from the Government, are compelled to recant, more or less, sentiments which they expressed at Geneva. The attitude ofthe Government is holding up the business of this great international organization. Frequently it is better bo consider questions of this character from a materialistic rather than from an idealistic standpoint if public interest is desired. Accordingly I direct attention to the fact that the cost of the League to Australia is sufficiently great to warrant more serious consideration being given to our commitments in relation to it. Our membership of the League for the five years since the first Assembly has cost: - 1920-21, £68,350; 1921-22, £40.984; 1922-23, £37,470; 1923-24, £34,620; and 1924-25- to date- £20,529. Approximately Australia has paid, in membership fees during the five years of the existence of the League, no less than £200,000. If to that we add the expenses of delegates, the cost to this country has been approximately £250.000, Surely in view of this large expenditure, we should give serious consideration to the work of the League from the financial stand-point, if from no other.I should also like, in passing, to direct attention to our heavy financial obligations under the League. Australia contributes 27 units, whereas other countries, with larger populations, pay less; and I notice, from an examination of the budget of the League, that over 12,000,000 gold francs remain unpaid by the various nations. Why is it that nearly onehalf of the League’s assets are represented by unpaid contributions? Are we not entitled to know what countries are defaulting, and to ask if they are really earnest members of the League or simply claiming paper membership with no intention of standing up to their financial obligations?
I turn now to the Protocol and the security pact which arises out of it. 1 very much regret the statement made by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) and by the press of this country that the Protocol is dead. People who. take that view imply that the League of Nations also is dead.
– This must be the case, because article 8 of the Covenant of the League states - the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety, and the enforcement, by common action, of international obligations.
This crystallizes the prevailing sentiment that great armaments are dangerous to peace, not so much because of their size as of the tendency to increase them. Assembly after Assembly has been attempting to agree upon a basis for a formula to bring about peace that will lead to disarmament. The Prime Minister and others who have studied the fundamental principles of the League will admit that this last document, the Protocol, represents an epoch-making event in the world’s history. It is very gratifying that, after thousands of years of warfare and international hatred, it has been possible for 44 nations of the world to gather at a conference table and accept an agreement calculated to provide for almost every contingency likely to lead to war.
– They also accepted the Treaty of Mutual Assistance.
– That, however, was not received with the same general acclamation . and enthusiasm by the various powers. The point I wish to make is that, by means of this Protocol, the various nations were within reasonable distance of agreement, and that it depended upon the attitude of Great Britain whether or not the Protocol would be ratified. Surely, in the circumstances, it would have been better if, instead of rejecting the Protocol, the British Government and the Commonwealth Government had made some reservations or suggested amendments. Had that been done, the present Assembly of the League might have been able to take a reasonable consideration of the problem and reconcile the different views. Unfortunately, the Protocol was rejected, mainly at the instance of Great Britain. I read with interest the speech delivered by Mr. Austen Chamberlain at the March meeting of the Council of the League. He there stated that in certain circumstances war might be a “ tragic necessity,” and implied a doubt whether the signatory nations of the League would redeem their obligations under the Covenant. His speech was most depressing. In the words of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald - “ The moral leadership of Europe was Britain’s finest asset. Mr. Chamberlain’s speech has wantonly thrown it away.” I cordially endorse Mr. Ramsay MacDonald’s statement. In Mr. Austen Chamberlain’s Declaration to the League Council, there was not a vestige of sympathy with the implied obligations of the British Government to the Covenant.
– The honorable member will agree that no one has worked more strenuously for European peace than Mr. Austen Chamberlain.
– I shall come to that in a moment. I strongly disagree with the attitude taken up by Mr. Austen Chamberlain, as disclosed in his speech to the Council of the League, and with the efforts of the British Government to bring about piecemeal security pacts. Had the Protocol been accepted in an amended form the Assembly would have been able to meet in a spirit of optimism. The world would have been in a better moral condition, and it “is possible that the present dreadful developments in Morocco might have been obviated. I regret very much the attitude of this Government towards its commitments under the League. I regret still more the militaristic policy pursued by France in Morocco at the present time. There is every reason to believe that had the Protocol been given effect,France would not have invaded Morocco with a huge army, and, perhaps, another world conflict would have been averted. No one can foretell the outcome of hostilities in Morocco at the present time.
– The Prime Minister says that the Bolsheviks are causing all this trouble.
– I disagree entirely with the right honorable gentleman in that regard. I recognize that it is a serious matter to criticize the British Government, or, for that matter, the Government of any other country concerning its attitude towards its commitments under the League; but I say that the philosophy of British toryism, as represented by Conservative governments in the Mother Country, the imperialistic trend of foreign policy, and the desire for economic expansion in Irak and Mosul, as well as in other countries, have apparently been responsible for an understanding with France, under which the latter country is to have a free hand in Morocco, and Britain a free hand in Mosul. It is obvious that the forces of secret diplomacy are at work within the ranks of the respective governments. By the silence of the Great Powers of Europe on these great issues, and by the invasion of Morocco by France, they have virtually set aside the Council of the League. Because of these developments I am pessimistic about the future of the League, though I recognize that the reconciliation of European differences by the League in regard to customs, water-ways, and in various other directions, is no mean achievement. In this respect the League has accomplished immeasurable good, but many mistakes have been made, especially in regard to Egypt, Corfu, Silesia, and other countries. These mistakes have been strongly criticized by opponents of the League. However, in spite of all this, I wish the League to continue, because I believe that even in its consultative form it is capable of enormously benefiting mankind. It has brought the nations together. In this respect it has done, in the international world, what conferences do in the industrial world. People who indulge in captious criticism of the League might just as logically criticize conferences in connexion with social activities in Australia, where nothing of a tangible nature may be accomplished, and yet, undoubtedly, a great deal of good may be done by the interchange of opinions. That isthe surest way to remove prejudice and create understanding. I believe that the League of Nations will never be able to function effectively so far as disarmament and the world’s peace is concerned whilst it is dominated by capitalistic nations, because their objective is economic development and expansion, and the active prosecution of this objective is, according to the views of modern publicists and jurists, one of the principal causes of war. The League of Nations exists ‘ in an anaemic and emasculated condition, but we, the democracy of Australia, must assist in preserving and strengthening its structure in the hope that the day is not far distant when the rising tide of democracy will engulf the conservative chancelleries of Europe, and the democratic representatives of the nations will meet at. Geneva in a true spirit of peace. While there are these conflicts between material interests in Europe and the Far East, the dove of peace will continue to find the world covered with the waters of hate and jealousy. The triumph of democracy is our hope. As many have pointed out, it is not formulae we want, but enduring faith. In the first instance, the nations must disarm suspicion, which is bred in the fertile soil of economic greed and imperialist ambition, and is not native in the hearts of the people of the world. I believe we must be prepared to defend Australia, but we should strive to remove the causes of war and the necessity for such preparations. My war experience was limited : but in France I had charge of some German prisoners, and knowing a little of their language, I was able to converse with them. They spoke of theweibes und kinder they had left behind, and told how they, as conscripts, had been hurled into the war by the brutal capitalistic autocracy which brought it about. In the hearts of those German prisoners there was the same spirit of democracy as is in the hearts of other peoples throughout the world.
Their antipathy to war was pronounced. There was nothing in their hearts calculated to produce war. With them there was no question of personal gain, ambition, or greed in the conflict then taking, place. But it is the workers who always suffer, and it is the people who are at all times opposed to war. If we were to hang a few newspaper editors in different countries, whose writings no doubt are directed by the capitalistic interests of the communities in which they function, the possibilities of war would be considerably lessened. So soon as we defeat one enemy, another arises at the instance of the press. Public suspicion and fear are fanned by the press of the world, and that keeps the nations of the world in a state of flux and ferment, and prevents the seed of peace from germinating and growing into a glorious tree. For that reason I hope that, notwithstanding its faults, the League- of Nations will endure, and that it will be recognized that we are committed to it, and for practical reasons cannot withdraw from our obligations under it. We were a signatory to the Treaty of Versailles, and have accepted certain mandates under the treaty in New Guinea and elsewhere. We cannot renounce the League without giving due notice, and if we do, we must also renounce the mandates which have been given to us. These facts must be brought to the recollection of the light-minded critics of the League. I am opposed to abandoning the Le’ague, and I would say as a further criticism that we cannot very well leave the League while the rest of the British Commonwealth of Nations are parties to it. If we were to isolate ourselves in that respect there would be no resultant benefit to us. We have the status of a nation in the counsels of the League. We can play our part in ex- pounding the doctrines of peace, which is a duty we owe to humanity. The great movement with which I am asso- ciated desires to see the world relieved of the oppressive burden of armaments. It desires to see the nations that are now oppressed benefit by autonomous government. It hopes to see the burden of conscription and all that leads to war removed from the shoulders of the working class. In this the League can play its part. But there are some selfish and light-hearted critics who persist in saying, “ Let us pet out of the League altogether.” If we detached ourselves entirely from the foreign policy of Great Britain, and declared a Monroe doctrine for Australia, what would be our position? Some persons compare Australia’s position with that of the United States of America, but there is no analogy between the situations of the two countries. When America affirmed the Monroe doctrine the world was suffering from the awful exhaustion brought about by the Napoleonic wars. In those days the civilized world was limited in extent, and Australia was practically unknown. There were no steamships, no telegraphs or wireless; none of the factors that have since helped to reduce distances and have brought the civilized nations into close contact with each other. America was able to affirm the Monroe doctrine, in consequence of her isolation, and she has been able to maintain it in these times because of her enormous economic strength, wealth, and population. America’s situation and her mixture of populations have rendered it desirable to follow the foreign policy laid down by Washington, and affirmed by the presidents who have succeeded him. Frequent reference has been made to the impossibility of inducing other nations to join the League, and it has been said that the League cannot function effectively while certain nations are not members of it. Russia, because of the attacks made upon her by the capitalistic governments of Europe, is naturally suspicious. She regards the League as a creation of the bourgeoisie, whose objective is opposed to hers. Every thoughtful person who has studied the question knows that Russia, in her own interests, will not co-operate with the League, and will not become a party to its functions. She will not sign the Treaty of Versailles, and unless she signs that treaty she cannot be expected to share the responsibilities of the League.
– There is no necessity for her to sign the Treaty of Versailles.
– By signing the Covenant of the League, Russia, by implication, would agree to respect territorial integrity and various other commitments arising out of the treaty. Germany will not join the League while other nations continue to extend to her discriminatory treatment. The United States of America is prepared to co-operate with the League, but owing to her mixed population and traditional policy, political conditions, and many other factors, is not likely to join the League. Therefore, the League, if it is to continue, must accept its present jurisdiction. lt is uo small thing to say that all the other nations of importance, with the exception of the three I have mentioned, are within the League. If the situation is wisely handled there is no reason why German delegates should not contribute to the deliberations of the’ League. I have expressed these opinions to define my attitude as a member of tho Labour party in relation to Australian commitments under the Covenant, because the subject has never been adequately considered and dealt with so far as I have been able to ascertain. From a material stand-point, disarmament will help us. To-day the press is creating a Japanese scare, and we are talking of building up armaments, armaments such as Australia, with its limited population, is hardly able to provide for. Our chief need is economic development, population as we can absorb it, and the building up of our primary and secondary industries. Increased population will enable us to hold this country more effectively than costly fortifications and cruisers, and to that extent we need the help of the League in bringing about disarmament,’ because with disarmament will come the relief of security. Australia has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by disarmament if territorial jurisdiction as to immigration is respected; and if we are not entangled in further European wars, Australia will be able to expand and develop her industries and increase her population. I believe, as I have definitely stated before, we should continue to be represented in the Assembly of the League of Nations, and that we should recognize our obligations under the Covenant. There has been a good deal of criticism concerning the Protocol, much of which has been ill-informed. Even under present limitations we can use the structure of the League to destroy the suspicion that exists in the minds of a section of our people, particularly in regard to Pacific questions. If we cannot have the Protocol, which is a worldwide document, surely we should seek - and I make this suggestion to the
Government in all seriousness - through the League of Nations or through the British Government, or by direct communication with the United States of America, a Pacific disarmament conference, which would eliminate for all time our unfounded suspicions in regard to the possibility of Japanese aggression.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) suggested a conference in 1923.
– We need more than suggestions. Why has not action been taken in the matter? We should long ago have had a resolution of this Parliament. As a result of the Washington Disarmament Conference of -1921, limitations were imposed on the construction of capital ships, but now there is feverish competition between the United States of America and Japan in cruiser construction. The Washington Treaty provides that each of the signatories shall respect the territorial integrity of the other. The principle of a limitation in the number of capital ships was affirmed, but questions of domestic jurisdiction were specifically reserved and excluded from the terms of this pact. The very question which is causing panic in the minds of many people to-day was excluded. Every effort should be made to convene a further conference, and, if this Government will not act, the party represented by honorable members on this side of the chamber will endeavour to obtain one. At such a conference an effort could be made to settle the vexed question of domestic jurisdiction. I agree with the opinion so ably expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom) that immigration is a matter of domestic jurisdiction, but, from an understanding with Japan and other nations whose interests are in the Pacific, much good would result. Any one who has given the position of Japan any consideration will agree that the real conflict in the Pacific, if there is to be one, will be in regard to concessions in China. We are told that the recent riots in that country were the result of Russian propaganda. Let me read an extract from a book by Roth Williams, a well-known writer on public questions in Europe, who, the Attorney-General will agree, is accepted as one of the authorities on the subject of the League of Nations. Dealing with the Russian situation, and with the Far East, he makes these very pregnant and important remarks : -
The real danger from Russia will be due to her fanning the flames of discontent and revolt that exist in oppressed classes and nationalities in East Europe and throughout the Near Middle and Ear East. The real defence, therefore, is an enlightened social and economic policy, and the granting of autonomy, &c, by East European nations and States with discontented imperial .possessions.
We are told that bolshevik propaganda is responsible for the uprising in China today. When one reads the’ Contemporary Review or other writings that are accepted as impartial criticism of British foreign policy, one finds that the troubles in China are due to the aspirations of the Chinese for self-government and economic emancipation from child slavery, women slavery, and low wages. If the powers of the world, instead of allowing their capitalistic greed to dictate their policy in China and elsewhere, set about the rehabilitation of the country, there would be less danger than exists to-day of a clash in the Pacific. We hear much about Japan from another direction. If there is to be any war in the Pacific, it is more likely to take place between Japan and the United States of America than between Japan and any other country. I have consulted many authorities on international law, such as Professor Charteris, delegates to the Assembly of the League of Nations, and others. They have clearly pointed out that Japan accepts the principle that immigration is a matter of domestic jurisdiction. She acts on that principle in excluding Chinese’ labourers from Japan. The League of Nations regards immigration as a matter of domestic jurisdiction, and has permitted Poland to expel large numbers of Germans. This principle, therefore, has been fairly established. The Com-cil of the League of Nations and the Permanent Court of International Justice have affirmed it. But Japan has insisted upon certain reservations being included in the Protocol, and also in the Covenant of the League originally, because she objects to the policy of the United States in regard to her nationals who are resident there. Only a year or so ago, by a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, Japanese were placed on the same level as negroes and undesirable aliens, and they were forthwith dispossessed of their landed rights in California. Without warning, thousands of them - fruit-growers and others - were dispossessed of their properties, as ineligible to hold land in fee-simple. The result was that the Japanese had to throw their properties on the market. There was a glut ; they had to sell out at a loss; and generally they were badly treated. That caused strained relations between Japan and the United States of America; but if the United States had been more tactful, the friction could have been obviated. Unfortunately, the ill feeling then caused exists to-day. In diplomatic communications with Japan, the President of the United States of America endeavoured to smooth the matter over by implying regret at the undiplomatic action of the American Congress and the Californian legislature. One word more about domestic jurisdiction regarding immigration. I recently read an interesting pamphlet issued by the American Association for International Conciliation. It was written by a Japanese authority, Tsunejiro Miyaoka, who dealt with the position- cf foreign nationals in Japan. He admitted that foreigners were discriminated against in Japan, but it was pointed out that the fault that Japan found with the United States was that she had allowed the Japanese to acquire landed rights in America. Had Japanese migrants been refused those rights in the first instance, the trouble, he said, would never have arisen. Japan to-day prevents foreign nationals from acquiring landed rights.
– I think that that legislation has been altered recently.
– An act in that direction has been passed, but it is only to be brought into operation by proclamation.
– I understand that its operation has been suspended for a considerable time, and for some reason Japan will not put it into effect. That disposes of one of the panic-stricken objections to the Protocol. I’ do not intend to criticize the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) in his absence, but I consider that when he attacked the Protocol he did se without having properly considered it. He spoke of some shadowy body known as the International Court of Justice, and suggested that it did not exist in fact,. although it has been functioning for some years. The signatories to the Convenant of the League who hold mandates are bound to submit certain disputes to the International Court of Justice. If we were to discriminate against labour, under the labour charter of the Treaty of Versailles, Japan or any other country could go to . that court and question our discrimination. Our commitments under the Covenant and under the treaty are very extensive, and are not to be lightly regarded. The criticism against the Protocol in regard to immigration is quite without foundation. In further proof of this statement, I could quote authorities that have been referred to in this debate, such as Sir Cecil Hurst, and the distinct reservations implied in the speeches of delegates at the Assembly of the League when the Protocol was discussed. The Japanese attitude has been largely influenced by the hostility of the “United States of America and the undiplomatic way in which the American objections have been voiced. Lt is interesting to know that 35 States, including .Australia, ratified the Protocol establishing the Permanent Court of International Justice, and that twenty small States accepted the optional clause giving the court compulsory jurisdiction. A striking indication of the change in the moral outlook of Europe is afforded by the fact that of those twenty . States, many are situate! in the Balkan area, which, before tlie war, was regarded as a powder magazine.
I now desire to refer briefly to the European Security Pact. We find that the British Government’ is discussing a regional understanding, to be known as the European Security Pact, between Germany, France, and herself. These discussions were instituted as a result of diplomatic exchanges initiated by Germany with France. This security pact is no concern of ours; it is purely a European document. The Peace Protocol was a world document. lt would have given Australia a measure >%f security, because we should have been parties to it, and could have looked for assistance from the members of the League. But the pact is purely a European arrangement, and I say emphatically that we ought not to be a party to it. For the reason that I have stated, I do not think that any of the dominions will be signatories to it. Herbert
Spender, who is an authority on British imperial policy, points out that the spirit of the Austraiian Labour policy of declining to participate in future wars overseas, except after a decision of the people, exists in the hearts of the Canadians and of the people of other dominions. We dominions cannot, in view of the scantiness of our population and our heavy economic liabilities, lightly accent European responsibilities. Our attitude in that regard is perfectly honest and honorable. Why should we be dragged into a war with Turkey, for instance, or be embroiled in some other localized war in Europe, which might be the result of a clash due to racial or capitalistic prejudice ? If Great Britain wants the security pact, let her give the guarantees. If she so chooses, it is her own concern. The only criticism I crier is that Britain has agreed to secure Germany against France or France against Germany, but no nation is to secure Britain against either of those or any other powers. These pacts are in :he nature of the secret pre-war alliances, and; owing to their limited scope, and the secrecy of the discussions that characterize their formation, they will tend to create a great pan-Asiatic combination between Germany, Russia, China, and Japan. If there is to be a world peril, it will be a direct outcome of the short-sightedness of the European diplomats in their treatment of Germany and other losers in the late war. in allowing such a combination to develop. If world-disarmament has failed - and it seems to have done so temporarily, owing to the rejection of the Protocol - we must evolve some other method of securing world peace. So far as Europe is concerned, security, arbitration, and disarmament comprise the only formula by which the desired result can be achieved. France entertains fears of ultimate German economic and physical superiority, based on numbers and virility, and France is dependent today on a conscript army of many thousands of blacks. France, at present, is an enemy to civilization, because she is arming the black races of the world, civilizing them, and making them a. possible future menace. Therefore, disarmament is a growing problem, and we find that the French and some other nation? will not discuss it unless they can he guaranteed security. Security can be given only by means of international guarantees. For the settlement of disputes they contend that they must have some substitute (or war, and they are prepared to accept arbitration. The attitude of France up to the present time has been insincere in the view of many critics. Whenever there has been an attempt to bring about disarmament, France has been the first to offer her signature, but by her policy to-day she is an enemy to world peace. Her great army of blacks, her squadrons of aeroplanes, her militarist policy in Morocco, and the whole of her actions make her, if anything, a possible enemy to humanity, unless the nations of the world are prepared to keep her to her stated undertakings, and induce her to enter into some pact or arrangement.
– It is not fair to speak of France in that way; it is the ruling classes in France.
– I am glad of that interjection. It supports my original contention that the advance of democracy is theonly force that can prevent future war. When M. Herriot, as Socialist Premier of France, conferred with the Labour Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald), they had no interests in overseas investments in Mesopotamia or anywhere else. They met at a conference table, actuated by a sincere desire to achieve peace, and they laid the foundations for the Peace Protocol. It was the mental attitude towards war that brought the Protocol into being. When Mr. Ramsay MacDonald was defeated at the British elections, what was the repercussion in Germany? She saw a change in the moral attitude of Great Britain, and immediately elected Hindenburg by way of answer to the BaldwinChamberlain challenge. In France there now is an anaemic, compromise government with possibly militarist ambitions, a government that is not socialistic by any stretch of the imagination. That’ confirms my view that the only hope of peace is the triumph of democracy. I took that view when 60,000 of our soldiers, as the result of the brutal necessity of capitalist imperialisms, were crucified on the cross of militarism. Surely that sacrifice should make us work earnestly in the cause of peace ! Humanity still quivers with, the anguish and pain of the last great war, and yet we have people in our midst who talk of war as a “ tragic necessity.” Such talk is an insult to the civilized intelligence of mankind, to the tenets of Christianity, and to the growing impulse in the hearts of the democracies of the world. The attitude of the nations towards disarmament and peace is assisting Russian propaganda, because if there is another war, nothing is more sure than that the resentment of the masses will be so great that a wave of militant communism will pass over Europe. Every man who has studied the subject will agree with that statement, and prominent writers admit that that will be the ultimate result. The powers of Europe have a tremendous responsibility in this regard. And what is our responsibility - we of the democracy? Remembering that Great Britain spent £9,000,000,000 during the war, and that 10,000,000 lives were sacrificed in that holocaust, is it not an insult to the men who died that the nations are now quarrelling about concessions in oil, coal, and iron ? Those are the causes of” war. There is a tendency to forget the sublimity ‘ of the great sacrifice and wartime formulas such as, “ This is a war to end war,” and to accept views like those of the Duke of Northumberland, and The Bound Table and other inspired channels of information, which say, “.Let us reconstruct the whole Covenant of the League.” He and others recognize that the obligations of the Protocol are the obligations of the Covenant. If anything, our obligations under the Protocol have been simplified. It defines them, and makes our commitments in. regard to economic sanctions lighter, because it qualifies them by saying, “ With due regard to geographical situation in relation to armaments.” In that way it has considerably limited Australia’s obligations, and in other respects it has made our position infinitely better than it was.. Even though the Protocol is gone, our obligations will remain under the Covenant. These nationalists - I use the word not in a political, but in a racial sense - are saying, “ Away with the Covenant.” Northumberland of England, a great tory imperialist, has said, “ Let us abolish the Covenant. Let us get back to the good old days when the policy of the mailed fist dominated the affairs of the world.” To do that huge armies are necessary. Surely, if only because of the taxation which the awful cost of armaments to-day necessitates, the people of the world should be eager to answer the call of peace. As compared with £370,000,000 spent on armaments by nineteen nations before the war, over £500,000,000 is being spent on armaments to-day. There are 5,000,000 armed men in Europe at this moment, according to information supplied to the British War Office ; and it would indeed lead one to the bitter conclusion that Germany won the war. Germany’s army is limited to 100,000, and according to the last available information, her expenditure on armaments is limited to1s. a head. Great Britain’s expenditure is, speaking from memory, 58s.10d. per head of the population, and is inconceivably heavier than that of any other nation. The British taxpayer is crying out under the burden, and British seamen are striking because they are on starvation wages, while their nation is spending money on armaments. Armaments can only be obtained by taxation, and in the last resort the workers pay. Can one wonder at the spread of communism? The people will seize upon any political doctrine that promises to relieve them of the tragic necessity for war and the heavy expense of preparing for it. Democracy feels that -
Were half the power that fills the world with terror,
Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
Given to redeem the human mind from error, There were no need of arsenals or forts.
The warrior’s name would be a name abhorred, And every nation that should lift again
Its hand against a brother, on its forehead Would wear for evermore the brand of Cain.
I commend that to my honorable friends opposite.
– There is a large standing army in Russia.
– I do not wish to be drawn into a discussion of that on the present subject; but I point out that the Russian Army was organized because the capitalist imperialisms of Europe attacked Russia, and tried to restrict her right, to choose her own form of government. I am not a communist, and I am not here to defend the philosophy of communism, or to make any comparison regarding it. Every country, from the dawn of civilization, has had the right to select its own form of government; and if Russia has an army to-day, it is due to the constant plotting and planning of European nationalities, which have striven to deny Russia the right to choose her own form of government. No man can be a Christian and defend armaments and warfare. If we accept the fatherhood of God, as expounded by Christianity, we should strive to bring about the brotherhood of man. We can only do that by removing the causes of war. I admit that in the Protocol there are many imperfections. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald and the framers of it admitted that it was imperfect. It is no more infallible than any other human institution or human document, but many of its features merit serious consideration.
– It at least provided for a world conference.
– Its acceptance was conditional upon a world disarmament conference. That was the rock upon which it was built. If this Government and the governments of other parts of the British Empire want to combat what the Prime Minister is pleased to term the “ poisonous doctrines “ of communism, let them strive for peace, and thus eliminate the heavy taxation required for armaments and release money for economic reconstruction. If the Government provides a larger measure of comfort for the workers, and removes unemployment and the pernicious forms of wage slavery existing in certain countries, it will destroy the fertile soil in which communist propaganda is likely to germinate. In passing, I would quote Mr. Lloyd George, who states in a recent book that - ‘
The economic recovery of Europe is seriously retarded by the cost of the new militarism. The old Continent is throwing to the dogs of war,with both hands, the bread that should feed her children. One day those dogs will, in their arrogant savagery, turn upon the children and rend them.
I disagree with those of my honorable friends opposite who have repeatedly affirmed that human nature has not changed. I think that human nature has changed, and is changing, and that the time is not far distant when democracy will triumph in Australia and other countries. It will not be until then that the sword will be beaten into the plough-share, and the spear into the pruning hook, and it will not be until then that the nations will not “learn war any more.”
.- I join with other honorable members in regretting that this important discussion is taking place so late in the session. This is the 11th September, 1925, and we are discussing the report of the Australian delegates to the Assembly of the League of Nations, which met in the beginning of September, 1924. That report bears the date, 15th January, 1925, and it was presented to this House, and ordered to be printed in June of this year. Now, in September, when the Assembly of the League. is again sitting, and when we are again represented in Geneva, we have our first opportunity of expressing views on the important matters which will be under consideration. I venture to suggest to the Government that, in failing to provide earlier facilities for this debate, it has failed to recognize the responsibility it owes to Australia and the League.
– That is a wellmerited protest.
– The work of the League is of very great importance to Australia, both directly and indirectly. Of course, a great deal of the work of the League is concerned with European questions, but it is wrong to assume that Australia has no interest in the solution of such problems. As we all know, the Great War arose out of a distinctly and essentially European question, but it nevertheless involved the whole world. Accordingly, the work of the League, in reducing points of friction in Europe, is of great importance to Australia and to the whole world.
Before speaking of the Protocol and allied matters, I wish to refer to the thirty-fourth meeting of the Council of the League in June last, by way of illustration, as a. means of indicating the current work of the League from week to week, and month to month, and in order thathonorable members may. have some idea of its ordinary every-day work. I selected June because that is the last month for which I have the official report, and I am merely proposing to cite some of the matters which were then dealt with. First, the Council had to consider the reconstruction schemes in Austria and Hungary. Reports from those countries were very good, and arrangements were made for increasing salaries and for the electrification of the railways. Had it not been for the work of the League it must be accepted as a practical certainty that Austria would have fallen into desolation, and national decay, and that a disease of that kind would have spread over a very much larger area than Austria herself. In saving Austria the League has deserved well of the world. Vienna, instead of being a capital city of a country containing a large population, found itself after peace had been declared with a population of about 2,000,000 in a country containing only another 4,000,000. The Austrian Civil . Service was necessarily concentrated in Vienna. It will be readily understood that as Austria became a much smaller country in consequence of the post-war settlement, she did not need anything like such a large civil service as formerly. One of the conditions under which the League of Nations assumed control of Austria was that her civil service should be reduced in accordance with a particular scheme. Since October, 1923, it has been reduced by 74,000 officers. It required a good deal of courage to dismiss that number of . civil servants. A Government would consider the matter for a long while before it would take such an action as that. Notwithstanding that courageous stand by the League, there is less unemployment in Austria to-day than when it assumed control of Austrian affairs, The currency of the country has been stabilized, and once again Austrians have some faith in the future of their country. The successful issue of the League’s work in Austria led Hungary to make application to it to assume control of her finances. The operations of the League in Austria and Hungary have undoubtedly been of the greatest importance not only to Europe, but to the whole world. To illustrate the wide scope of the League’s activities, I. shall refer to several other matters dealt with at the June meeting of the Council. It dealt with the subjects of double taxation and the evasion of payment of taxes. It may be thought that they are not of much importance, but, as a matter of fact, they are of great moment, particularly in Europe. I remember that, on one occasion, some years ago, in the course of my professional work, I was called upon to advise a client who had to pay taxation at the rate of 22s. 6d. in the £1 on his income in a given year. He had a very big income, but he would have been far better off had it been only one-twentieth as large.
– Had he to pay at that rate after the adjustment of the exchange rates ?
– That was irrespective of exchange. He had interests in various countries, and his income was taxed on different bases. It will be realized, therefore, that an understanding of the taxation methods of various countries is of considerable importance. The June meeting of the Council also dealt with the treatment in European countries of various nationals, and a number of questions which affected minorities in different parts of Europe. Among these were minorities in Lithuania; some Hungarians, certain Transylvanians who complained that they had not been fairly treated in Roumania, Slav minorities in Greece, Greek minorities in Turkey, and Turkish minorities in Greece. Prior to the establishment of the League, no means existed of alleviating the distress of minority nationals, and many almost inextricable difficulties arose. Sometimes such matters involved serious national issues. The League has been able ‘ to settle many of these amicably. The same meeting of the Council considered the means to be provided for making investigation into the armaments of Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria. This was necessary in consequence of the cessation of the control previously exercised under the provisions of the Peace Treaty. Questions affecting Danzig and the Ruhr Valley received attention. The Council also dispatched a commissioner to inquire into sleeping sickness in Africa, defined a programme of child welfare work, and appointed a commission to investigate road traffic problems and transportation matters generally. A more or less casual look at the present map of Europe will show that there must be numerous transportation difficulties, for both travellers and merchandise have to cross the frontiers of many countries within comparatively short distances. In a journey equal to that from Melbourne to Brisbane, for instance, it might be necessary to cross half a dozen international boundaries. The League is doing fine service in alleviatingpassport complications, and in eliminating unnecessary customs formalities. I have referred to these matters simply to indicate that its work is not confined to a meeting of the Assembly annually in September, but is going on all through the year.
The continuance of the League is of the greatest importance to Australia, for the particular reason that the system of mandates over territories in the Pacific Ocean is dependent upon its permanence. Japan has mandates over 700 islands - most of them small - in the Pacific, and Australia has mandates over former German New Guinea and Nauru Island. Within the areas held under mandate from the League of Nations there can be no fortifications or naval or military bases. The perpetuation of the mandate system, therefore, will mean that to a large extent the Pacific Ocean will be perpetually denavalized and demilitarized. This is of the greatest possible protection to Australia. Apart altogether from the idealistic sentiments that gather around the League, Australia thus has a very substantial and positive reason for supporting it. If the League should fail, the mandatory system must also necessarily fail. That would inevitably mean that the powers now responsible for the control of the mandated territories would annex them. In the case of Australia, that would mean a new frontier. At present there is a gap of some 4,000 miles between our frontier and that of one of our near neighbours. As the League of Nations is responsible for this verydesirable state of affairs, its maintenance is of supreme importance to Australia from the defence point of view. The expenditure of £250,000 that Australia has incurred in maintaining her membership of the League and in sending her representative to its various Assemblies at Geneva, is altogether insignificant compared with the advantages that she derives from her association with it.
Prior to entering upon a consideration of the actual terms of the Protocol I wish to make this preliminary observation, that it appears to me to be quite wrong to suggest that hostile criticism of ‘ the Protocol, or of any other proposal which emanates from the League, is necessarily hostile criticism of the League itself. It is a serious error to assume that everything that issues from Geneva must be accepted by everybody who supports the League. It would be just as reasonable to suggest that everybody who believes in our system of parliamentary government must necessarily accept without criticism every act that this Parliament passes. That, I am sure, is a proposition that would not commend itself to a large proportion of honorable members. The fullest possible consideration and criticism should be invited of the Protocol and of any other proposal that is made by the League. Those who, for reasons which they regard as sound and sufficient, oppose any of the proposals of the League, should certainly not, therefore, be branded as its enemies.
In order properly to understand the relation of the Protocol to the Covenant of the League it is necessary to go back to the Treaty of Versailles and the proposed Treaty of Guarantee. It will be remembered that the latter involved Great Britain, the United States of America, and France. Under its provisions France expected to obtain a certain degree of security for herself, and to ensure the security of Europe. The proposals in that document were not acceptable to the United States of America. Various nations in Europe do not regard the provisions of the Covenant of the League of Nations which the Peace Treaty contains as sufficiently comprehensive. Undoubtedly, there are notable gaps or fissures in the Covenant. ‘ Its general object is, as far as possible, to prevent war. One of the principal means of achieving this end is international disarmament, which it is proposed to bring about in accordance with Article 8. Disarmament, however, is a very difficult subject to deal with. Lt has troubled the minds of men throughout the period of history, and we do not know for how many hundreds or thousands of years prior to that. In these circumstances, ib would be unreasonable for us to expect to solve the problem at our first or second attempt; or even within a few years. Possibly, it would be inadvisable to force upon the nations of the world even a theoretically perfect scheme of disarmament unless they had a really genuine desire to make it effective. The Protocol has been framed with the object of filling in the gaps or fissures in the Covenant. Speaking generally, the Covenant provides that when a ‘dispute arises between members of the League which is likely to lead to a rupture, it may be referred for investigation to the Permanent Court of International Justice, or to arbitration, or to the Council of the League. But no means is provided to compel the parties to adopt any one of these procedures. The Covenant merely stares that if the matter is not referred to the Court .for judicial settlement, or to arbitration, it shall be submitted to the Council. If it should not be submitted to the Council voluntarily by the parties, there are no express provisions in the Covenant to deal with it, though another party may move the Council to measures of conciliation under article II. Even if it is so submitted, the Council’s decision is only effective if it is unanimous, apart, of course, from the votes of the parties directly concerned. If the Council should fail to reach unanimity, the parties are free to fight, or take any other course they desire. This is the principal gap in the Covenant” which the Protocol was designed to fill. I suggest that it is a matter for grave consideration whether it is desirable to fill that gap by a system of compulsory arbitration such as that which the Protocol seeks to introduce. The Covenant provides that any party who is guilty of a breach of a unanimous recommendation by the council shall be in the position of having broken the Covenant. One may readily see that a unanimous finding against a party carries behind it a great deal of weight and authority, which may very fairly be said to represent the international conscience of the world. If, however, all these matters were sent to arbitration, as is proposed .under the Protocol, then the arbitrators being unknown in advance and chosen as occasion requires for the particular work of arbitration, may arrive at a decision by a casting vote, and it is perfectly plain that such a decision may very well not have the same degree of authority as would the unanimous recommendation of the Council of the League of Nations, of which the four great powers and the representatives of six other nations are members. A unanimous recommendation of such a body would have very great weight, and it would require very extraordinary circumstances to justify any State attempting to stand up against it. In any State there would be a considerable number of people who would object to their State acting against a recommendation so powerfully supported. It must be evident that an award arrived at by a majority of arbitrators could not have the same weight, and could not affect the mind of the world to the same degree, as would the unanimous recommendation of the council.
Certain matters which are generally recognized as suitable for decision by international arbitration are set out in article 13 of the Covenant, which reads -
Disputes as to the interpretation of a treaty, as to any question of international law, as to the existence of any fact which, if established would constitute a breach of any international obligation, or as to the extent and nature of the reparation to be made for any such breach, are declared to be among those which are generally suitable for submission to arbitration or judicial settlement.
These four matters possess a common characteristic, because in each case it is possible to refer to or assume an existing standard of obligation. There is in existence a treaty to be interpreted . or there is in existence a treaty which one party or State claims to have been broken, or there is in existence a treaty that has been broken and admittedly broken, and it is only a question of assessing the damages. All those matters can be dealt with according to an existing standard of obligation. When we, however, pass beyond these disputes to general international troubles, we find that there is not yet any generally recognized standard which a body of arbitrators isable to apply to them. In Australia a decision of the courts is universally accepted by the community, mainly because the courts do not make the laws that they administer. Out of the turmoil and quarrels of Parliament ultimately emerges the law of the land. The judges interpret and apply that law, and, because they confine themselves to their judicial functions, their decisions are accepted without question in a civilized community such as ours, even although they may sometimes be thought to be wrong. It is recognized that it is more important to have order and certainty than to have theoretical perfection. When arbitrators make their own laws, they are apt to get into trouble. We have seen something very like that respecting industrial arbitration, because Parliament has done very little in the way of laying down principles according to which an arbitrator may work. In many cases of international jurisdiction there would be no generally accepted principles at all according to which the arbitrators could work or could be expected to work, and, therefore, before international jurisdiction can be universally applied, it appears to me that we shall have to take other steps, one of the most important being the codification of and general agreement upon rules of international law. It would be difficult to arrive at an effective universal compulsory scheme of arbitration.
– Does not the Protocol propose to codify certain elements of international law?
– I shall say something about that later. I am pointing out that a scheme of universal compulsory arbitration appears to me to be rather in advance of the minds of the peoples of the world. They are really not ready for it. So soon as they realize that vital international issues may be determined by the casting vote of a single arbitrator who is quite unknown, the scheme will not be accepted.
– Would not that be a matter for the decision of a conference at which the representatives of all nations would meet?
– Like the Disarmament Conference?
– I am now dealing with the Protocol as a system in itself. Before resuming my seat, I propose to say something about the attitude which I think the Government should have adopted towards the Protocol.
A great deal of discussion has taken place on domestic jurisdiction, and I should like to take this opportunity to submit to the House some considerations and ideas upon that subject. Article 15 of the Covenant provides that the council shall, if possible, settle any dispute submitted to it. Paragraph 8 contains this important provision -
If the dispute between the parties is claimed by one of them, and is found by the council to arise out of a matter which by international law is solely within the domestic jurisdiction of that party,’ the council shall so report, and shall make no recommendation as to its settlement.
This paragraph is of great importance to Australia. It appears to me that it is looked at in a very superficial manner, and that many Australians consider that, as Australia is a party to the Covenant, they can disagree with other nations on any matter of domestic jurisdiction and still enjoy the protection of the League of Nations. I shall analyze the paragraph to discover its precise meaning. The phrase “ a matter which by international law is solely within the domestic jurisdiction of a party is in itself an undefined phrase. It did not exist in international law before the signature of the Covenant. It appears to be universally agreed that immigration is a matter which by international law falls solely within domestic jurisdiction. It is sometimes said that if a matter out of which a dispute arises is within the domestic jurisdiction of a State, any war on that matter must necessarily be wrong, and be an international crime. I should like honorable members to consider the position for a moment. We all know that wars frequently arise out of the treatment in a foreign country of nationals of one of the belligerents. Let me remind the House that one circumstance which brought about the Boer war was the treatment of the Outlanders in the Transvaal. I do not wish to discuss the theory that all wars are brought about by economic causes and because men want money. Men want money and other things as well, and it is the other things as well as economic causes that bring about war. There is no doubt that the franchise and legislation for a poll tax are essentially domestic matters. It is within the power of the Australian legislature to impose a poll tax on certain nationals, and our courts would uphold such an action. International law recognizes that we have power to do that, and yet it might be most unjust and might well afford proper ground of protest to some other nation. What would happen if we were to provide that every national belonging to a self-conscious, active and powerful power, and engaged in any work in our country, say, in a factory, should be subjected to inspection, and should obey certain rules as to hours of work which applied to the nationals of no other country? That has been done in the case of one country, and is a matter of domestic jurisdiction; our right to do it has not been challenged. It is for us t;o say what factory laws we shall make ; but are we going to contend that this well-armed, active, and powerful nation would have no right to object to such action, and that it could not possibly be a just cause for war ?
– The making of laws in this country would not justify any other nation in going to war with us.
– The solution of the problem is not so simple and easy as the honorable member suggests. What would we do if our own nationals were treated in the same way in a foreign country? A simple and easy solution would not apply in the case of the Germans in Poland, to whom reference has been made, or to the Poles in Germany. One only has to look at an ethnographical map of Europe to ascertain that many domestic questions have an important international bearing. That is the point that I wish to make. I am hot going to say that the passing of domestic legislation would necessarily be- a cause for war. I am pointing out that these matters are likely to cause war. I do not say that they are just causes for war, although many people would, in some circumstances, think so. The phrase “ domestic jurisdiction “ covers what may be called a lot of ugly facts, and we have to look through it at the facts, and must not delude ourselves with the idea that because a matter is held tb be one of domestic jurisdiction it cannot possibly be a cause for war.
– Supposing that questions were submitted to a world’s conference, and it agreed that any nation dealing with a matter of domestic concern could not be deemed an aggressor, would the honorable member contend that under such an agreement a nation passing domestic legislation would not have the protection of the League?
– The effect of such an agreement would be as the Leader of the Opposition suggests.
– - Such a provision is embodied in the Protocol.
– That appears to me to be a paper veil to cover ugly facts. The only question that would be considered would be whether it was a matter of domestic jurisdiction. I am pointing out that a grave injustice may be done in this sphere, and war may break out in consequence.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– The point I was endeavouring to make before the adjournment for lunch was, shortly, that a finding upon a Question of domestic jurisdiction is a decision on a question of legal power, and not a decision on the justice or real nature of a particular policy. There are many policies which, according to international law, a country has full legal power to adopt which would yet almost universally be regarded as unjust. Accordingly, a decision that a dispute arises out of a matter which falls within the domestic jurisdiction of a party according to international law, determines only the question of the legal power, and not the question of moral justice. It has been commonly supposed that the provisions of paragraph 8 of article 15 of the Covenant make it impossible for the question of a White Australia to be raised or discussed before the League of Nations. Upon that I desire, to say a few words. Paragraph 8 of article 15 provides that if a dispute is claimed by one of the parties to be what is called a domestic matter, and is found by the Council to be such a matter, then the Council shall so report, and shall make no recommendation as to the settlement of the dispute. It is obvious that the fact that one party claims that a matter is one within its domestic jurisdiction does not settle the question. The Council has to go on and determine whether or not that claim is well founded. Various heads might be suggested under which a question of domestic jurisdiction might arise. The matter in respect of which the claim is made might be immigration, the franchise, or the question of land holding.
The Council has to go into the question and find out whether it is-a matter which, according to international law, falls within the domestic jurisdiction of one of the parties.
– The Council does not determine that.
– It determines whether the dispute arises out of a matter within the domestic jurisdiction of one of the parties.
– It has to go before the Court of International Justice.
– I am now dealing with the Covenant, and not with the Protocol. If the White Australia question arose, the Council would have to consider the nature of the White Australia policy for the purpose of determining whether or not it was a domestic matter.
– That is under the Covenant.
– Yes.- The provisions of paragraph 8 of article 15 are not affected by the Protocol, which says, in so many words, that paragraph 8 of article 15 shall continue to apply in all proceedings before the Council. Thus so far as proceedings before the Council are concerned, the position is exactly the same under the Protocol as under the Covenant. If a question arose before the Council as to whether the immigration policy of Australia was a matter of domestic jurisdiction, the Council would have to determine that. It has sometimes been argued in Australia that as Great Britain is a permanent member of the Council, her representation will always prevent a. determination adverse to Australia being arrived at, and that therefore we may always rest secure in the belief that our position is effectively safeguarded by the domestic jurisdiction provisions. That is not the case. In the first instance, it is very doubtful whether Great Britain or other nations would think it proper that she should be represented at a sitting of the Council on any matter affecting one of her dominions.
– Or other parties to the dispute either.
– Or other parties to the dispute, as the honorable member suggests. In the Official History of the Peace Conference, published under the auspices of the British Institute of International Affairs, the view is expressed that as a matter of course Great
Britain would not sit at the Council when a dominion matter was brought up, as though she were a disinterested party. Again, when a matter is before the Council for determination, article 5 of the Covenant provides that a decision of the Council shall be taken unanimously. There is a proviso under article 15 shutting out the interested parties, but apart from that all decisions of the Council must be unanimous. According to this, if, say, our immigration policy were brought before the Council any one of three results might follow: First of all, leaving out the interested parties, there might not be a unanimous decision. In that case the matter would go on in the ordinary course; the Council would investigate and report that the claim that it was a matter of domestic jurisdiction had failed, and would proceed to deal with the dispute in the ordinary course. That is one case. Then there might be a unanimous decision that the particular question raised was not a matter of domestic jurisdiction. If there was a unanimous decision to that effect then the inquiry would go on in the ordinary course, and no protection woUld arise from the domestic jurisdiction provisions. The third possibility is that there might be a unanimous decision that the question- raised was a matter of domestic jurisdiction. That would be the most favorable contingency from the general Australian point of view. Let us consider that for a moment. Suppose a question of our immigration policy arises and Australia claims that it is a matter of domestic jurisdiction, and the Council unanimously decides that it is such a matter, what is the result under the Covenant ? Paragraph 8 of article 15 of the Covenant says that the Council shall so report and shall make no recommendation as to its settlement. That is as to the settlement of the dispute. It may be that the view I am submitting is wrong, but I should like to present it for consideration. It has ordinarily been as’sumed, and I think the assumption has been adopted in every discussion on the subject that I have read, that if there is a unanimous finding by the Council that a matter is one of domestic jurisdiction war on that subject is impossible, and is prohibited by the Covenant. Let us examine that. The article says that if the Council finds by a proper decision that it is a domestic matter it shall make no recommendation. What follows if it makes no recommendation? Paragraph 6 of article 15 of the Covenant provides that if the report is unanimously agreed to by the Council then the parties to the Covenant agree that they will not go to war with any party which complies with the recommendation. It is perfectly plain, therefore, that the obligation not to go to war only arises in the case of an inquiry by the Council where it reaches a decision and makes a recommendation. The next clause provides -
If the Council fails to reach a report which is unanimously agreed to by the members thereof, other than the representatives of one or more of the parties to the dispute, the members of the League reserve to themselves the right to take such action as they shall consider necessary for the maintenance* of right and justice.
That is to say, in case the Council fails to reach a unanimous report, the members of the League are free to fight or .not, as they may think fit. That is the real meaning of the words “ reserve to themselves the right to take such action as they shall consider necessary for the maintenance of right and justice.” Under paragraph 8 of article 15, where the Council finds that a matter is one of domestic jurisdiction and makes no recommendation, it is perfectly plain that there is no recommendation of the Council with which any party can comply. There is no recommendation binding on the parties, and, accordingly, the position is that the parties are free to fight. That is the effect of the words of the Covenant. I hope I have made my point clearly. It is a point which so far as I have seen has not been made before - that on the words of the Covenant if the Council finds that a matter is one of domestic jurisdiction, and it makes no recommendation, that means . that it simply drops the matter and leaves the parties free.
– What about article 11, providing that there shall be no threat of war? ‘
– The application of article 11 could not result in a recommendation. I am dealing- with article 15 as it applies to ‘ the subject of domestic jurisdiction. I am pointing out what I think would be the result of these provisions, and that, in my view, Australia has not anything like the protec- tion under them which it is ordinarily believed that she has. There may not be a unanimous decision in favour of our contention that a particular matter is one of domestic jurisdiction. The existence of the British veto if Great Britain- were to sit, has no bearing on this aspect of the matter. If there is any protection under paragraph 8 of article 15 it is afforded by a unanimous affirmative finding. It is obvious that the existence of a veto by one power does not help to bring about a unanimous affirmative finding, so that the British veto has no bearing on the matter, if, indeed, such a veto exists, and I have suggested that it does not exist. The main point I make is that while we might successfully raise the plea of domestic jurisdiction, if there is no recommendation made by the Council, there is nothing to restrict members, of the League from undertaking warlike operations. Under article 11 any war or threat of war is declared a matter of concern to the whole League, and the League shall ‘take any action which may be deemed wise and effectual to safeguard the peace of the nations. Under that any decision would again have to he unanimous. This is regarded as a conciliatory provision. It is distinct from article 15 which, by way of a recommendation of the Council, imposes obligations upon the parties. Under article 11 no obligations are imposed upon the parties according to the ordinary interpretation of the- articles. It is directed to conciliating the parties where the Council is not in a position to impose obligations upon them by virtue of article 15.
This matter of domestic jurisdiction was much discussed when the Protocol was under consideration, and in the report of the First Committee the chairman of the committee expressed a very important opinion. The report was adopted by the Assembly of the League. Of course, we all know that it was adopted at the end of the session, in circumstances of some haste, and perhaps it is not proper to hold all the representatives who were present to a complete acceptance of anything said in the report. Dealing with paragraph 8 of article 15 the report says - .
The provisions of the Protocol in no Ivar infringe the principle, which remains unshaken, that a war undertaken against a State whose exclusive jurisdiction has been formally recognized, is an international crime to be avenged collectively by the signatories to the Protocol. That has been the general view of the meaning of the Covenant. A decision upon a question of local power, that is to say, in regard to a dispute arising out of a matter of domestic jurisdiction, has been thought to determine the justice of the case, and it has been thought that a war undertaken against a State whose exclusive jurisdiction has been formally recognized is an international crime. But upon examination of the Covenant, we find that it does not say so, and, indeed, it could hardly say so, having regard to the fact that the question of whether a matter is or is not domestic is a purely legal one which may have nothing at all to do with the justice or merits of the dispute. Accordingly, Australia cannot safely rely upon the opinion in this draft report that a decision upon a legal question means that the nation in whose favour it has been given is necessarily right in any dispute that has arisen out <>f the manner in which that nation has chosen to exercise its domestic power.
The Protocol sought to amend certain gaps or fissures in the Covenant ; the most obvious is in article 15, paragraph 7, by which, in the absence of a unanimous decision by the Council, the parties are free to “ take such action as they shall consider necessary for the maintenance of right and justice.” The Protocol seeks to amend that provision by making it possible for the Council to enforce arbitration in every instance. In regard to sanctions, and the question of domestic jurisdiction also, a certain tightening up of procedure has been attempted. In substance the Protocol provides for universal compulsory arbitration in all international disputes. The Covenant requires that a dispute must be submitted to either the Court, arbitrators, or the Council; but inquiry by the Council, which is the only procedure to which the parties can be forced by the Covenant, according to its terms, might be resultless by reason of the fact that a unanimous decision could not be reached. The Protocol, therefore, provides that if the Council is unable to reach a unanimous decision, it shall endeavour to persuade the parties to arbitrate. If they agree to that course, they are bound by the award of the arbitrator ; if they do not agree to arbitrate, either party has the right to insist on arbitration, and if neither insists, the Council may enforce arbitration by appointing arbitrators and submitting the case to them. That is the main provision of the Protocol. We all desire to support any system which would offer some prospect of the prevention of aggressive wars, or risk of any war at all, but this system does not sufficiently recognize the realities of the case. Various facts must be considered. Suppose that the Council insisted upon submitting the matter to arbitration, and neither party attended before the arbitrators, or took any interest in the proceedings. In such circumstances it would be difficult for arbitration to be satisfactory. Again, who is to settle the issue for arbitration? Any man who is skilled in drafting, or has had experience in public affairs, will readily realize that sometimes the formula adopted for the definition of an issue profoundly influences the result. We all are familiar with the constant differences of opinion as to whether a particular cessation of industry is a strike or a lock-out. One side may formulate the question for arbitration in this way - “ Is it proper for men who have made an agreement, and knew what they were doing, to break it?” The other side may state the issue in these terms - “Is it fair for employers to take advantage of the necessities of the employees in order to pay an inadequate wage ?”
– Whatever happens, the dispute is always a strike, and never a lock-out.
– That interjection illustrates what I am saying. In the mere statement of the issue there is room for great difference of opinion. One party might say that the issue had been wrongly stated. Therefore, it is very difficult to devise a satisfactory scheme of compulsory arbitration in international affairs.
– Would not the Council decide what was the issue.
– It is often very difficult to say what really is in dispute; one party may use one formula to describe it, and the other party an entirely different formula.
– The Council would stand between the parties.
– If the parties failed to agree upon arbitration, the stating of the issue would devolve upon the Council, and the mere determination of the matter to be submitted to arbitration might go a long way to decide the issue itself. We could have a referendum on almost anything if we could agree as to the question to be submitted.
– That argument would apply to almost every form of arbitration.
– It does not apply to arbitration by agreement of the parties as to the issue to be determined, or to arbitration within a legal system which provides means for defining the issue. There are greater opportunities for compulsory arbitration between citizens because of the control exercised by the courts. It appears to me that in this regard there is in the P.rotocol a very dangerous fissure, and a fault which its wording merely serves to hide.
The attempt in the Protocol to automatically define aggression is a brave effort to deal with a very difficult problem, but to my mind there can be no such automatic definition. Article 10 of the Protocol reads : -
Every State which resorts to war in viola tion of the undertakings contained in the Covenant or in the present Protocol is an aggressor. Violation of the rules laid down for a demilitarized throne shall be held equivalent to resort to war. In the event of hostilities having broken out, any State shall be presumed to be an aggressor unless a decision of the Council, which must he taken unanimously, shall otherwise declare:
If it has to refuse to submit the dispute to the procedure of Pacific settlement provided by articles 13 and 15 of the Covenant, as amplified by the present Protocol, or to comply with a judicial sentence or arbitrational award, or with a unanimous recommendation of the Council . . .
That attempt to define the aggressor automatically does not succeed, because in every instance the definition is dependent upon a preliminary decision of fact. For example, if one party alleges that another is the aggressor because hostilities have broken out, and the second party has refused to comply with an award, there is, plainly, the question of whether the second party has in fact so refused? Only the Council can decide, and its decision must be unanimous.
Accordingly, this provision cannot work automatically. It can work automatically only when a certain set of facts is established, but the existence of any one of the set of facts can be determined only by the Council, which must decide unanimously whether a State has refused to comply with an award, or to submit a dispute to the specific procedure recommended. When the two parties differ as to what is the matter in dispute, it is not easy to determine which of the two has refused to submit the dispute for determination by the specified procedure.
– Has not the Council power to prevent hostilities until the matter under dispute is settled by arbitration ?
– The Council is able to enjoin an armistice, but I am pointing out that the operation of this article 10 of the Protocol is not automatic. The provision can operate automatically only when certain facts exist, and there is often room for difference of opinion as to whether a certain set of facts does exist. Therefore, this supposedly automatic means of determining who is the aggressor does not provide a solution.
– But under that article war. cannot continue; that is the main point.
– That will depend upon the operation of the article. The Council might spend a considerable time in determining whether there has been a refusal to comply with a judicial decision. There is no automatic element in such a proceeding.
– The Council must enjoin an armistice immediately.
– Yes; but it will be seen that the whole of the machinery of the Protocol does not work automatically as is supposed, and therefore it cannot be as effective as.it is thought to be, or confer those advantages which some of its advocates believe it offers.
T am in substantial agreement with what has been said by the AttorneyGeneral and the Leader of the Opposition regarding the effect of the Protocol upon matters of domestic jurisdiction. In that respect the Protocol has been almost completely misunderstood in Australia, and criticized from a wrong point of view. The position, of Australia, in this respect, has not been disadvantageously affected by tha Protocol; in so far as it is affected at all, it is affected advantageously, because the Protocol entitles Australia to obtain from the court a decision on the legal question of domestic jurisdiction, instead of leaving that matter to be determined by the diplomatists on the Council of the League. Accordingly I agree with what has been said as to the effect of those provisions in relation to domestic jurisdiction. If I had the time available, I would show that, in that respect, Australia’s position would not have been prejudiced, even if the Protocol had been adopted.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– May I move for an extension of time?
– I have told the House on many occasions that an extension of time can be granted only by the suspension of the Standing Orders, which must be agreed to by an absolute majority.
Motion (by Mr. Charlton) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the honorable member to conclude his speech.
– I thank honorable members very sincerely for giving me the opportunity to continue. It permits me to- add a few words to what I was saying in regard to article 10 of the Protocol, dealing with questions- affecting domestic jurisdiction. In effect, that provision says that in certain cases States shall be presumed to be aggressors. Presumptions of law and presumptions of fact are well understood in law. Briefly, they mean that from certain facts a conclusion follows irrespective of evidence. That is to say, the conclusion is presumed, and it is unnecessary to give further evidence of it. Article 10 deals only with a presumption of aggression. An amendment moved by the Japanese delegates provided that where there was a refusal to comply with an award recognizing that a matter was within the domestic jurisdiction of a State, the State would only be presumed to be an aggressor if it had not previously submitted the question to judicial procedure. That leaves the fact of aggression to be determined by the Council after evidence as to the existence of the cause, and it is quite wrong to say that an opponent of Australia could avoid all responsibility under this provision of the Protocol by going through the form of submitting the matter in dispute to arbitration. It is quite true that a readiness to submit the matter to arbitration would remove the presumption of aggression, but it would still leave the fact of aggression to be determined on evidence by the Council. What the result would be is best indicated by a supposititious case. If Australia were involved in a difficulty of this kind, and sat quiet and did nothing beyond its own borders, if it were attacked there could be only one finding of fact, namely, that the other party was the aggressor. Therefore, all the provisions of the Protocol against aggressors would apply. I can think of no instance in which Australia would find itself attacking any nation abroad as an aggressor. Accordingly, the Japanese amendment, when properly considered, does not weaken Australia’s position in this regard. The amendment itself appears to me to have been treated with a most unfortunate amount of suspicion, which is to be accounted for to a very large extent by the way in which the news was sent out to us. The cablegrams which we received last September, when this matter was under discussion at Geneva, . were, us we now know, most misleading. It is . very unfortunate that they did not more accurately represent the true position of affairs. I have already tried to do something to improve matters in that respect, so far as an individual can do so, by communicating with the officers of the League; but, of course, it will be recognized that it would be inadvisable for the League to attempt to control the news that is sent out from Geneva. The matter must be left to the sense of responsibility of those who are engaged in supplying the world with news on these important subjects. I have already mentioned the fact that the provisions of paragraph 8 of article 15 of the Covenant relating to domestic jurisdiction are specially preserved in the Protocol, and that Australia is in no wise disadvantaged. I have already shown that the protection which is afforded is not very much.
It would be quite improper of me to take advantage of the liberty extended to me by the House to . continue my remarks by entering fully into a discussion of the many provisions of the Protocol, and what has been said by Mr. Austen Chamberlain and others in regard to it ; but I may indicate what the Government might have done instead of merely turning down the Protocol as impossible and out of the question. I do not think it was possible to accept it absolutely for the reasons I have already indicated, and for other reasons to which I could refer if my time were not limited. But it would have been better if the Commonwealth had acted as Canada did. I invite the attention of the House to the Canadian reply. Canada, having stated its objections to the Protocol, proceeded to say -
That as Canada believes firmly in the submission of international disputes to joint inquiry or arbitration, and has shared in certain notable undertakings in this field, we would be prepared to consider acceptance of tlie compulsory jurisdiction of the Permanent Court in justiciable disputes with certain reservations.
That would have been a proper course for our Government to take. There are disputes of a legal nature, such as those I have already referred to, where there is a standard obligation which has already been recognized - interpretations of treaties, damages for breaches of treaties, and such like - and it appears to me that Australia might very well have tried to persuade the Empire to agree to refer disputes of that class to the decision of the Permanent Court of International .Justice. Reservations could have been made, but I think it would have been advisable to do it for the whole of the Empire. I am not suggesting that Australia should have acted independently in this matter. .Various difficulties of a practical nature might arise which it is better to avoid if possible. Then the Canadian communication proceeded to state that Canada was prepared -
To consider methods of supplementing the provisions of the Covenant for settlement of non-justiciable issues, including the method of joint investigation, reserving ultimate decisions in domestic issues and without undertaking further obligations to enforce decisions in the case of other States.
It appears to me that that was also a useful contribution. It is desirable to have a full international inquiry into disputes in order to avoid misunderstandings and misapprehensions of one kind or another. Even if the nations do not bind themselves to accept the decisions of the inquiring body it is all to the general good to have an inquiry into every case, and as full an inquiry as possible. It may be that if that line of action were examined and extended it would be possible to add certain other classes of disputes to those in regard to which an arbitration agreement might be made. Finally, Canada said -
That Canada would be prepared to take part in any general conference on reduction of armaments which did not involve prior acceptance of Protocol.
I should have been better pleased if the Commonwealth Government had made a definite statement that it was prepared to take part in a conference for a reduction of armaments. As I have already said, disarmament is an” age-long problem. It will not be solved in a few days or a few years. But every opportunity should be taken to explore all the possibilities of its solution. Even if our Government was not able to accept the Protocol - I think it had sound reasons for not doing so, since it is not a good thing to put one’s signature to a thing with which one is not satisfied or which one is not prepared to carry out in substance and in spirit - it might very well have said, “Let a Disarmament Conference take place if possible.” Then, if the other nations had said, “ We will not take part in a Disarmament Conference until the Protocol is accepted,” it. would have been their responsibility. But our Government might at least have gone as far as that. Finally, it appears to me that it would be well for Australia to consider more fully its whole attitude towards the Covenant of the League of Nations, in order that all the obligations we assume under it may be fully realized by the Australian people. Here, again, I refer to the Canadian attitude. Honorable members are aware that article 10 of the Covenant provides that the members of the League undertake to respect and preserve, as against external aggression, the existing political independence and territorial integrity of the members of the League. That means a guarantee of all existing frontiers, and an obligation to fight in their defence. Canada has objected to that obligation, and has said that it is unreal. One cannot help thinking that it is unreal so far as Australia is concerned. Do the people of Australia really mean to say that they are prepared to defend the frontiers of Lithuania, Esthonia, or Finland ?
– The Protocol overcame the difficulties attaching to geographical situation.
– I have given reasons for my inability to accept the Protocol. I am now pointing out that it is useless to undertake unreal obligations. Many of the nations feel that the obligations under article 10 of the Covenant are unreal, and that they are not really meant. To my mind, it is far better to make what you set down on paper correspond with your real intentions. The League of Nations can do most valuable and useful work in the world without pretending to do more than is possible. Yet article 10 attempts to do the impossible, and, therefore, Australia might very well have associated itself with the activities of Canada in seeking the amendment or repeal of that article.
– Of course, Australia has already done so. The matter has come up at the meeting of the Assembly of the League time and again, and every effort has been made to alter article 10
– And a general interpretation of the obligations it imposes has been given.
– I mean to say that the amendment proposed by Canada has apparently sunk into a condition of quiescence, and I am suggesting more energetic action on the part of Australia in that respect. One of the most important, developments of the League of Nations recently has been in the examination and definition of international law. Until we obtain a general consensus of the world upon the large principles of international law, it will be impossible to set up a general arbitration system. There would be no accepted principles to be applied by the arbitrators in the settlement of disputes, and disputes could only be settled according to what the arbitrators thought to be a fair thing. In other words, there would be no principles of law which the arbitrators could apply. Accordingly, the activities ofthe League should be directed to a fuller definition and codification of the principles of international law and to the development of full publicity and inquiry. In all these matters Australia is essentially interested. The League matters a great deal to Australia. The interests of the Commonwealth are bound un with the interests of the world. The peace of Australia depends upon the peace of the world and upon the work which the League is doing abroad. Very little is being done in’ Australia. Fortunately, we do not need it; but what the League is doing abroad is of the greatest concern to the people of Australia. I therefore hope that the League will have the full support of every government in Australia, whether it be from this side of the House or from honorable members who sit opposite. I hope, also, that honorable members will realize that an obligation rests upon them to do all they can to inform the minds of the people upon important matters in which the League is from day to day supplying decisions of great significance to the world.
.- After the very able speech of the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham), there remains very little for me to say. I also compliment .the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) for his contribution to the debate, although I am not in agreement with many of his contentions. His speech was the best I have ever heard him deliver in this House. As regards myself, I have given the Protocol a great deal of thought, because I was within a few hours of Geneva when the Assembly was sitting, and I was waiting patiently from day to day, with certain diplomats and representatives of the press, for the Japanese delegates to make the move which caused so much consternation in diplomatic circles. When I was in Japan in 1923 I discussed the White Australia policy with a member of the Japanese cabinet, who informed me that they intended to raise this issue by devious means at every meeting of the League of Nations. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) may recall that, upon my return from that country, I informed him., in writing, of Japan’s intention. Every praise should be given to the Australian delegation, Sir Littleton Groom, Mr. Charlton, and Sir Joseph Cook, for the very able manner in which, under very difficult circumstances, they represented the Commonwealth at the fifth Assembly, which produced the Protocol as we know it. What of it? At first glance one is disposed to agree with the Chief Justice of Victoria (Sir William Irvine), who, upon his return to Australia three months ago, stated that he had read the Protocol downwards, upwards, across, and upside down, and found it very difficult to give any meaning to it. To a certain extent that is true. As I indicated in a cable message from London last year, the Protocol has its good and its bad points, and anything I may say here to-day is in confirmation of the views I expressed in the cable. I agree with the action taken by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) in voting against a proposal to remove certain activities of the Council of the League to Paris, Rome, or elsewhere in Europe. Undoubtedly it should work in a neutral atmosphere, and where the Assembly holds its meetings. I also agree with him that in matters of domestic jurisdiction the Protocol would give Australia a better sense of security. As the honorable member for Kooyong has said, if the Protocol had been ratified we should have been able to get a final decision on this point from the International Court of Justice. Therefore, the dropping of the Protocol is, in that respect, to be regretted. Honorable members should peruse an excellent article written by the honorable member for Kooyong and published in the Melbourne Argus on the 29th December last, as well as an informative article by A. D. Ellis, published in the same newspaper on the 17th January last. A study of these will inform them of the pros and cons of the Protocol, especially in so far as it affects the policy of a White Australia. Examination of that document suggests that it was not intended to be adopted by the Powers, hut that, on the contrary, it was intended as a “ feeler “ on the question of disarmament, because three very important conditions had to be complied with before it could be adopted. These conditions were - (1) the ratification before 1st May, 1925, by three out of four great Powers - Britain, France, Italy, Japan - and by ten other members of the League ; (2) subject to the successful ratification, as before mentioned, of the agreement of the June conference on armament reduction; (3) the declaration by the Council by a certain date after the
Armament Conference that such had been carried. Failure in respect of any one of these three conditions meant the death of the Protocol, so it really seems as if it was never intended that the Protocol should be ratified by the Powers, but that it was, as I have said, a “feeler” to indicate what the Powers concerned thought about disarmament. A curious and dangerous departure appears to have Deen made Dy encouraging majority instead of unanimous decisions in respect of matters of grave importance, such as are covered by articles 4, 7, and 10. Under article 10 it is possible for a State to be deemed an aggressor by any single member nation of the Council standing aloof, although the( other members of the Council might not wish to deem that nation an aggressor. This is a very dangerous provision, and one which I fear would be likely to have very serious consequences. A perusal of articles 10 and 11 makes it clear that Britain’s position would be quite impossible. Under article 10 the Council may call upon a signatory State to forthwith apply certain sanctions. I disagree with (he Attorney-General and also with Lord Parmoor on the question whether the British Navy would be affected. Article 11 states, infer aiia, that -
Those obligations shall be interpreted ns obliging each of the signatory States to cooperate loyally and effectively in support of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and in resistance to any act of aggression in the degree which its geographical position and its particular situation as regards armaments allow.
They must also provide transport and be responsible for the safety of communications by land and by, sea of the attacked or threatened State. The British Empire is the greatest naval power, and has also the largest mercantile marine, and this obligation, therefore, would fall to a greater extent upon Britain than upon any other power. It is provided, further, that if the parties to the dispute are aggressors within the meaning of article 10, the economic and financial sanctions shall be applied to both of them. Do honorable members realize what this may mean to the British Empire, with its enormous naval and mercantile development? Under another clause we would be recouped for our naval and mercantile expenses. As the Daily Telegraph succinctly put it, “ The men who drafted that clause must have been in cold storage for the past five years, and apparently for got the position Great Britain is in today as a result of the last war.” In considering the Protocol we must not lose sight of the fact that the United States of Amenca is never likely to become a member of the League. I happened to be in America when the Protocol was under consideration, and the only opinions I heard expressed, in business or diplomatic circles, were in opposition to it. An article published in the Chicago Herald Examiner on the 2nd November, 1924, by Professor P. M. Brown, professor of international law at the Princetown University, will give honorable members a very good idea of opinion in the United States of America on the Protocol. The article is headed “ Geneva Protocol is a Direct Menace to America.” Professor Brown states -
If American citizens were unjustly imprisoned, subject to cruel treatment and in grave danger, us bus repeatedly happened in various parts of the world, notably in China, our Government could take no steps to’ secure their immediate protection without the previous consent of the Council of the League.
If conditions in Haiti or elsewhere on this continent should again become chaotic and threaten the lives and interests of many, we could not land troops to restore order and establish confidence without the authorization of the League. The Monroe Doctrine seems to have been completely ignored and thrown into the discard.
If Japan should force an issue over the question of racial discrimination under our immigration laws - a matter hitherto universally regarded as peculiarly within the exclusive right and- power of any nation - and should seize the Philippine Islands as a gage, it would not be* presumed by the Protocol to be an aggressor! The United States alone would be in the wrong!
Such are the main characteristics of this amazing document, which was hastily drafted and adopted in an atmosphere of feverish excitement at the recent meeting of the Assembly of the League. There can be no doubt concerning its fundamental purpose to make of the League a powerful superstate. The method of friendly voluntary conciliation among nations is to he abandoned in favour ot compulsory conciliation!
We are now told by some of the advocates of American membership in the League that the United States’ of America “ cannot afford to remain outside of the League “ for fear that the rest of the world will combine against us. We arc to be coerced into joining the League in order to defend our interests against such a coalition.
If this state of affairs were true it would be a sad commentary on the spirit of the League and an added justification for our policy of political detachment. Fortunately, the United States of America has no reason to fear so base an attitude on the part of other nations - certainly not from our late allies.
We are also told on the authority of Mr. Balderston, correspondent of the New York World, a strong advocate of the League, that -
Beneath the surface of the deep waters of diplomacy in Europe there is a movement afoot to relegate the United States of America to a secondary position in the yet unborn arms parleys of the nations.
The World has obtained a secret memorandum circulated to a few leading representatives now in Geneva, which states with frankness - since the document was never intended to reach American eyes - the reasons why the United States of America should not be permitted to take the initiative, as desired by Mr. Coolidge. - [New York World, 29th September, 1!)24.]
In other words this momentous document was rushed through the Assembly partly for the. purpose of attempting to restore the” waning prestige of the League, and partly for the purpose of preventing the United States of America from taking the lead in summoning a world conference on disarmament similar to the Washington conference. More constraint, more opportunism, more petty politics!
Fortunately, there is but slight chance that this Protocol will ever come into force. It must be ratified by “a majority of the permanent members of the Council “ - the great powers, namely - of whom England ‘ has already indicated reservations on the subject of compulsory arbitration, and others are apparently wavering. And even then the final adoption of the Protocol is made to depend upon the success of the international conference for disarmament to l)e called at Geneva on lath June, 1925 (article 21).
In the meantime the League has committed itself in principle to the idea of coercion rather than of voluntary conciliation. It is in a position to make extravagant claims concerning its power to outlaw war. In the meantime the United States of America is precluded from taking any step toward inviting the other nations to a friendly conference to discuss in the peaceful, dispassionate atmosphere of this hemisphere the great problems of international disarmament.
No people have ever given greater proof of their preference for conciliatory methods of adjusting disputes, whether between individuals or nations, than the American people.
No people have a greater repugnance for constraint and coercion. We believe that no’ set of rules, no elaborate machinery will ever bring peace where no good will exists. And we believe that where good will exists there is no need of rigid rules or constraints of any kind.
This is why the American people have reacted so unfavorably to the Geneva Protocol. This is why we have good reason to be thankful that we are not an active party to such questionable proceedings.
This is why we are thankful that the United States of America has preserved its entire liberty of action for the advancement of world peace and for the safeguarding of those very principles that originally inspired the founders of the League of Nations, and which now seem imperilled by the ill-considered acts of sentimentalists and political opportunists.
That, I think, represents the average opinions expressed to me bv leading men in America. As mentioned in the article, the American people first suggested disarmament conferences, but the League of Nations, or the Protocol, prevented further friendly effort on their part. There was a decided objection in every walk of life in America against serious consideration of the provisions of the Protocol. What is to take its place? The position seems to be very much what it was in 1914. I remember making a speech in this chamber in 1920, which brought a good deal of ridicule upon me from most honorable members, the Press and a certain section of the people in Australia, because I was the only dismal pessimist at a time when every one was celebrating peace. I pointed out at the time that there were anxious times ahead, and J do not wish to withdraw one word which I uttered on that occasion. We have only to look at what has happened during the last five years. An effort should be made to bring about a European and a Pacific pact, because the European people, who are naturally obsessed with the great problems before them - there are momentous questions troubling all the’ European nations - have not the time to worry about a country 13,000 miles away. It is really a case of the nations of the Pacific loking after themselves. When I was in Japan in 1923, the Prime Minister (Mr.Bruce) suggested a Pacific conference, and the fact was brought under my notice when addressing the Pan -Pacific Union at Tokio. The suggestion was received in Japan with a good deal of interest and enthusiasm, but in the event of such a conference being con- vened, Japan wished to reserve her right to express the conditions under which such a conference should be called. Nothing has, however, eventuated, with the exception of the action taken by the leaders of the Labour movement in Australia, who have rightly asked their representatives to convene a conference in Sydney in a few weeks’ time, and it is hoped that some good will result. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) very rightly dealt with the question of disarmament from the stand-point of Christianity and the brotherhood of man. I hold very strong views on that aspect of the question, and believe that if the Church were to take a more active part the problem would at least be simplified. It is to be hoped that the Prime Minister, or some other responsible authority, will convene a conference of the Pacific powers, at which international questions can be discussed, and an effort made by interested nations to assist each other, and to ensure so far as is possible disarmament and peace in the Pacific. I am. particularly sorry that a large number of seamen, who took a misguided action on wrong advice, have been imprisoned in Australia. Who are these men? Many were on vessels that carried our troops, and helped to conserve the food of the Empire during the war. I have conversed with several whom I met in Cardiff some time ago, and am surprised at the action of those responsible for their imprisonment. They have not shown that regard for the brotherhood of man which alone can help us to come together and try to overcome our troubles. I think the Government has done right in rejecting the Protocol, first of all on the grounds suggested by the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) and, secondly, because under the Article I have quoted, I think it would be necessary for the British Navy in the event of one of the parties to a dispute being adjudged the aggressor, to do all the dirty work at sea against that power. As America ii not a member of the League, a situation might possibly arise in which that nation could be termed the aggressor, and the British Navy might receive orders from the League to blockade and bombard the American coast. Such a position could easily arise under the Protocol. A still greater absurdity is that it would also be possible, if something cropped up here, and Australia were declared, to be noi] the aggressor, for the British Navy to be ordered to blockade Australian ports. That phase of the question was very ably dealt with in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Burnham’s publication, when I was in England. A Protocol embodying such a condition could not possibly be accepted by tlie Commonwealth; and I am, therefore, clearly of the opinion that the Government did right in rejecting it without calling Parliament .together to discuss it. Something has to take its place. Mr. Austen Chamberlain is doing his best to bring about a European pact, but no European international arrangement can be regarded as satisfactory unless Germany is a party to it. Last year I travelled thousands of miles through Germany, and visited her great cities and factories. Of all the important powers which participated in the Great War, Germany alone is functioning. To use a phrase common amongst sportsmen, Germany is “priceless.” German currency has been stabilized, her artisans are working 60 hours a week, her factories are equipped with the most modern machinery, and, industrially, everything is proceeding satisfactorily. Notwithstanding the fact that Germany was the defeated nation, she is a great fighting power to-day, and no Protocol is worth a continental snap unless Germany is a party to it. So long as Russia, with a population of 130,000,000, is governed by some 400,000 communists, knowing the communists aa I do, I think her co-operation should not be considered. Germany, France, Italy, and Great Britain, and the other signatories, without the assistance of Russia, should be able to ensure international peace in Europe at least for a time. An effort should also be made simultaneously for America, Japan, China, the Dutch, and Australia to arrive at” some arrangement suitable to all in regard to the Pacific. If two pacts such as I have mentioned we’re in operation, the international situation of the world would be much brighter than it appears to be at present. Honorable members may well ask me why I hold the views I do, and why I am so keen on defence. Whatever Australia does should be in co-operation with Great Britain’s scheme for the defence of the British Empire, and our ships should be of a type
Which would enable them to effectively co-operate with those of the Royal Navy should the occasion arise. I do not think thereis going to be any trouble in the Pacific; I never have thought so. I am heartily in favour of the British scheme of defence, which is our best insurance against attack. The British Navy can go anywhere at any time, preserving the great trade routes of our grand and mighty Empire.
.- I congratulate the honorable members who comprised the delegation from Australia to the Fifth Assembly of the League of Nations. There was true co-ordination of effort, and loyal co-operation among them, and they were able to give their best services in dealing with the momentous questions that came under consideration. One cannot fail to appreciate the merit of the contributions that have been made to this debate. Considerable enlightenment has been afforded in regard to matters of international concern and the means suggested for promoting world peace. But I protest against the action of the Government in failing to provide an earlier opportunity than this for the consideration of the report of the delegation to the last Assembly. The report should have been discussed as soon as possible after the return of the delegates, so that Parliament might have directed to some extent the vote and voice of the delegates to the sixth Assembly. The House has been placed in an anomalous position. Surely honorable members do not view with approval the Government’s action in depriving them of their rights in this respect. I hope that when this year’s delegation returns to Australia the government of the day will take the earliest opportunity of affording honorable members time for the discussion of the report. Last year the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) was appointed a member of the delegation, but this year the Government has. without reason, departed from that excellent principle. I claim that the prestige of the Commonwealth suffered in no way owing to a representative of the Opposition being included in the Australian delegation to the Fifth Assembly of the League; rather was it enhanced by the presence of the Leader of the Opposition. Honorable members will admit that both sides of the House should be represented at any international council to which Australiamay desire to send delegates. I believe that the. personnel of the Fifth Assembly was more democratic than it has ever been. The voice of democracy was heard, and the world was advised to adopt peaceful means of settling international disputes. The opinion was emphatic that, instead of having recourse to war, the nations should accept some form of arbitration in determining the destinies of the peoples of the world. International problems are always complex, and governments generally move with extreme caution. I wish that this Government had exercised due care when it forwarded to the British Government an expression of the alleged view of this country concerning the Protocol. Had the Government consulted the delegates of the Fifth Assembly, had it recognized the merit of the Protocol, a reply far different from that given would have been sent. Unfortunately, the Government declared a policy of hostility to the Protocol, and one that, I venture to say, is not endorsed by the majority of the people. I believe that if a vote, of the electors were taken, the great majority would support the Protocol. Owing to cablegrams from Geneva and press comments in Australia, a certain number of the people doubted the wisdom of adopt ing it, and in some quarters a feeling even of hostility was engendered, but this was entirely due to a misconception of the full purpose of the Protocol. 1 hope that in future the press of Australia and elsewhere will recognize its obligation to represent all public issuesfaithfully. A higher standard of morality is needed in the life of nations, particularly as far as the press is concerned.
– The press is unmoral.
– I have said some harsh things concerning the press in the past, and not without justification. I hope that a sense of decency will compel the press to present issues of international moment in their true light, particularly to those nations that are. far removed from the scenes of international disputes and deliberations. At the last Assembly of the League the British nation had a wonderful opportunity to bring about world peace. . Had that cherished ideal been consummated, it would have meant everlasting advantage and blessing to the peoples of the earth; but I find, unfortunately, that secret ( diplomacy again asserts itself in the councils of the nations. The greater Powers of Europe, particularly, instead of showing a candid desire to maintain and strengthen all the avenues that might lead to peace, adopt those forms of- diplomacy that have led the world into hellish experiences and placed nations in bondage. I feel that the British Empire lost a golden opportunity to promote peace when it declined to ratify the Protocol, imperfect as it might have been. That instrument probably could have been moulded so as to meet almost any emergency that might arise in an international conflict. Roth Williams,, author of The League the Protocol, and the Empire,, which has been so aptly quoted by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman), expresses a feeling that is growing up among the nations of the League concerning the attitude of Great Britain. He says -
We have an evil reputation abroad for humbugging, for having tilings both ways, and for pursuing naked self-interest under a cloak of the loftiest morality. These suspicions - again rightly or wrongly, but indubitably - have flamed up again “with redoubled vigor since the advent to power and the first acts of the Conservative Government.
Those are indeed very strong words. If our international reputation is being so seriously impaired by the faults of British statesmen, it is very necessary that we in Australia should assert our views, so that our attitude may not be misunderstood in the counsels of the nations. The author of this book has further expressed the view that throughout Europe the Protocol is being supported by the moderate and progressive parties as a big step forward along the path to peace, and that it is being opposed by the nationalists and militarists for reasons that apply equally well to the Covenant, and, in fact to every attempt to organize peace by international co-operation. If there is any logic in the arguments advanced by honorable members, and by interests in Australia and abroad, that the Protocol does not meet the requirements of the situation, those arguments could, with greater force, be levelled against the Covenant itself. The Protocol has been framed with the idea of eliminating many of the imperfections of the Covenant.
It seems to me that certain great nations, with powers of oppression at their command, are prepared to support the League of Nations only so long aa it does not interfere with their concerns or trespass on some selfish advantage they are endeavouring to seek. We cannot accept a seat on the council of international justice unless we are prepared to live according to the best and highest standards of international justice and equity. Unfortunately, it appears that the British nation has not given that assistance and sympathetic co-operation that it should give in matters affecting international relationships. For that we have the Conservative statesmen of Great Britain to blame. If there is one thing that stands to the credit of Ramsay MacDonald, it is that he endeavoured to create a more cordial relationship between the nations of the earth. He did more in his short term of office to ensure international security and peace than any other government has done. He expressed the loftiest ideals, and yet people complained that he gave too much attention to foreign policy. It is regrettable that the Government that succeeded him undid much useful work commenced by him. His efforts were whole-heartedly supported by members of the great Australian Labour movement. We recognize that if we can secure an agreement among the nations to limit armaments, the money now spent on defence and preparations for defence will be available for promoting the health, learning, and welfare of the people generally. That would bring more permanent and lasting benefit than entering into pacts, treaties, and understandings that are likely ultimately to embroil us in conflicts. It is my sincere hope that this House will definitely declare for the convening of an international Disarmament Conference,’ and give a lead to the nations in expressing a desire to substantially limit armaments and preparations of a warlike character. Unity can be reached only by weakening antagonism and by developing trust and toleration. Some honorable members ‘ opposite say that they are firm believers in the principle of industrial arbitration. They insist that we should settle all our industrial disputes by appeals to constituted authority, and anyone who deigns to express, an opposite view, or to take action involving a cessation of industrial operations, becomes an outlaw of society, and a disrupter of the peace. Such a person is likely to be caught by the long arm of the law and brought before a notorious board, with a view to having his liberty curtailed. He is held to be unworthy to occupy a place in the counsels of the nation, or even to enjoy the privileges of citizenship. The same honorable members, however, are not prepared to accept arbitration for the settlement of international disputes. They contend that the only way to provide for the security of a nation is to have recourse to conflict. It appears to me that the Australian people are bound by the provisions of the Covenant. The learned interpretations we have listened to in this chamber to-day of our position under the Protocol indicate that there is disagreement among those to whom we look for advice. The simple truth is that there was a sincere desire on the part of those who framed the Protocol to overcome the disadvantages, anomalies, and inconsistencies in the Covenant. It is designed to secure the peace of the world and the welfare of the nations, and Australia has nothing to lose by accepting its main principles. We can accept it without those reservations that have created a false impression in the minds of other nations. I ask leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions: Date of Increased Payments - Public Service Classification : Telegraphists - Tariff - Tariff and Town and Country Union: Article in “ Smith’s Weekly/’
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn
Several honorable members have asked questions recently as to the date on which the proposed increase in old-age and invalid pensions will become payable. The Treasurer stated in his budget speech that the Government intended to deal with the matter when it submitted to Parliament its legislative proposals in connexion with the report of the royal commission on national insurance. Cabinet has been giving consideration to that report of the commission, and finds that the subject is so complicated that there must inevitably be considerable delay before a measure relating to it can be submitted to Parliament. If the increase in the old-age and invalid pensions is not to become operative until the Government’s plans are formulated on the subject of national insurance, inevitable and considerable delay must occur. It is undesirable, however, that our old-age and invalid pensioners, who are eagerly anticipating the increase in their pensions, should be disappointed by a long delay. The Government hopes, therefore, to introduce at an early date a bill to provide for the payment of th« increased pensions as from the first payday in October.
– This afternoon I have received a number of telegrams from telegraphists in which complaints are made that they are adversely affected by the - reclassification that has just been made by the Public Service Board. They state that under it they have been reduced, in status, and must ultimately suffer a reduction in salary. They also complain that such restrictions are imposed on them as to make promotion impossible. I have been asked to make an immediate personal inquiry into the matter. Possibly similar requests have been made to other honorable members. I shall be glad if the Prime Minister would communicate with the Public Service Board, and ascertain the exact position. If the position of the telegraphists has been affected as they say, I trust he will take all steps possible to remedy their grievances.
.- Last evening the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) referred to ‘an article that had appeared in a certain weekly newspaper. Unfortunately, soon after he began to speak, I was called outside the chamber to interview the Prime Minister, and I was also debarred from hearing any but the concluding remarks made by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) in reply. I have been closely associated with the Town and Country Union, and I protest against the very grave reflections that have been cast against it. It is doing good work for Australia. Its general object is to reduce the cost of living and the cost of production. By so doing, it believes that it will promote the prosperity of Australia. Whenever tariff proposals are before Parliament, it seems to be customary for certain newspapers to assail the honour and integrity of honorable members who dare to protest against the proposed increased duties. During the tariff debate of 1921, the Industrial Australian, a newspaper which is generally regarded as being most respectable, made very grave reflections upon all who opposed the proposed increased duties. They were denounced as supporters of foreign trade. A paragraph in an article in that paper, which dealt with the tariff schedule then before Parliament, read as follows: -
We are informed that it is supported by a secret organization endowed with an enormous fightingfund, doubtless foreign.
As one who had the honour of leading the attack against the high duties’ then proposed, I wish to say that I had no financial support on that occasion, except that provided by the Country parties of Western Australia and Victoria, and the Chamber of Mines in Western Australia, in regard to the preparation of certain statistical information, and for statistical information only. No outside organization, firm, or person contributed one penny. Not one penny of outside money was donated to assist us in that fight. I challenge those who advocate the imposition of high duties to say that they have never been assisted by contributions from outside sources. I never saw such disgraceful articles published in the press as those which appeared in the Melbourne newspapers at the time the Oodnadatta contract was being held in abeyance. Threats were made at that time that if Ministers and honorable members who supported the Government did not take a particular course, certain action would be taken to destroy the Government. A statement was made by either the President or Vice-President of the Chamber of Manufactures in
New South Wales to the effect that if the Government did not introduce legislation to provide for the imposition of high duties, the chamber would support the Labour party. I have been told, although I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statement, that many large manufacturing concerns make donations annually to the Protectionist organizations of Australia, and to certain political organizations as well.
– The Labour party never gets any of them.
– In that case, some of the manufacturers must tell untruths.
– So far as I know, the Labour party has never had any contributions from those sources.
– I represent a manufacturing constituency, and I have never been supported by a manufacturer.
– The only personal denations for the funds of our party that I have ever received were two of 10s. 6d. each, from a couple of old-age pensioners, and I returned them immediately.
– I have been informed that the manufacturers support both the National and the Labour parties. I know the Leader of the Opposition well enough to he certain that if any person offered him a donation in consideration of his adopting a certain attitude, he would immediately expose him. They would not go to him ; but they would send subscriptions to theorganization. There are few honorable members in this chamber in whose personal honour I have a stronger belief.
– The people of Australia are of the same opinion.
– I trust that the honorable member for Maribyrnong has a similar opinion of the Leader of the Government, and of others on this side of the House. It is quite understandable that manufacturers would feel favorably disposed to any party whose policy was sympathetic to this industry, but there are some people in every organization who would descend to any level to serve their own dirty and greedy ends. I wish to say that I know nothing whatever about the letter that was quoted last night. I have no idea whether it is genuine or whether such a letter was ever written. I am not at all concerned about whether high duties are imposed upon pianos, playerpianos, or other luxuries. I am only concerned about the imposition of “high duties on the necessities of life and of production. I know nothing about the person whose signature appears at. the foot of that letter. A few undesirable people seem to find an entrance into every political organization. I am quite satisfied that Mr. Hagelthorn, with whom I have been closely associated for the last six months, is doing good work for Australia. He devotes an enormous amount of his time to his public duty, and Australia has no better publicspirited man than he. He is doing what he believes to be in the best interests of Australia; that is, he desires to have reduced the cost of living and the cost of production. I believe that the Town and Country Union is serving Australia well, although, of course, a difference of opinion on that matter is quite likely. The writer of the letter published in the newspaper referred to last night stated that he was prepared to give a subscription to the organization if it would support a policy favorable to his business. Any man who would make a statement of that description deserves condemnation. If that is a genuine letter, action ought to be taken against the writer. I think the letter was badly composed, however, tor it speaks about bringing political pressure upon Nationalist members. That seems to me to be quite unwarranted. I utterly repudiate the letter, and I consider that the writer of it ought to be brought to book. I repeat that, in my opinion, the organization that has been attacked is doing clean and good work, which . will ultimately prove to be in the best interests of this country.
– I will have inquiries made into the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson), and will obtain a report from the Public Service Board in regard to the whole position.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 September 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1925/19250911_reps_9_111/>.