10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. SirLittleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I understand that Parliament is expected to rise on the 13th August, and that many important matters have yet to be considered, including the agenda paper for the Assembly of the League of Nations, and that for the Imperial Conference, the States Grants Bill, the duties on petrol, chassis, and tires, and the estimates. I understand also that there is a considerable amount of uncertainty about the ratification by the States of the Main Roads Agreement. New South Wales has already decided not to ratify it, the South Australian Parliament has carried a resolution in opposition to it, and there is also strenuous opposition to it in thu Victorian Parliament, as indicated in the debate which took place yesterday in the Legislative Assembly. In these circumstances I should like to know if the Prime Minister considers it advisable to occupy the time of the House with the Federal Aid Roads Bill before the decision of the States regarding it has been made known. Otherwise, the completion of the business already on the businesspaper will probably involve all-night sittings and the passing of legislation without proper consideration?
– At an early date, I intend to make an announcement in regard to the business the Government proposes to submit for consideration this session. The honorable gentleman’s question is really directed towards the Federal Aid Roads Bill. It is true that reports have appeared in the. press regarding the attitude of certain States towards the agreement covered by that bill, but the Commonwealth Government has received no official communication except from New South Wales, notifying their disapproval of tha agreement. Yesterday the Premier of victoria stated that he had verbally agreed to the proposals made by the Commonwealth, but, as a matter of fact, he has done more than that; he has actually written to the Commonwealth Government expressing the approval of his government. I agree with the honorable member that it is necessary that the attitude of all the States should be ascertained, because the arrangement proposed by the Commonwealth is dependent upon an agreement with the States, to which all but New South Wales have already indicated their willingness to assent. The Commonwealth Government intends to ascertain definitely the present attitude of the States towards its proposals.
– 1 should like, to know- from the Prime Minister whether the case of a former inspector’ of the
Commonwealth Bank, Mr. Mark Young, has been definitely closed, and, if not, whether, in view of the representations that are being made in various periodicals and in the daily press, and of the growing public opinion in favour of a thorough investigation into the matter, he will for the purpose, of allaying public anxiety, and once for all letting the full light of day into it, reopen the case and have an investigation into it made by some disinterested and competent tribunal empowered to take evidence on oath?
– I am not aware of any public anxiety in regard to this matter. I remind the honorable member that the subject was fully discussed in this House on a motion that an inquiry should be held into certain matters upon which Mr. Young had made representations, and it was determined that there should be no public inquiry. Therefore, so far as the Government is concerned, the case is closed.
– Yesterday the Prime Minister said, in reply to a question, that there was no intention to duplicate the plant of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries in Victoria or to establish refineries in other States. That being so, I should like to know what was the object of obtaining the authority of Parliament to increase the capital of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited ?
– The honorable member must have - forgotten the explanation I gave when I introduced the bill, and the debate which took place on it. I explained that, the object of - securing increased capital for the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited was to enable it to come into line with modern developments in connexion ‘with the installation of a bulk system of distribution.
– I should like to know from the Prime Minister if the Government has taken into consideration the necessity of affording secondary education at Canberra, in view of the fact that those officers who will be transferred to the Federal Territory in the near future, are regarding the absence of this facility with considerable concern?
– The provision of secondary education at Canberra has received, and is still receiving, the consideration of the Government.
” For the Term of His Natural Life.”
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that the Australian companies producing picture films have established a studio at Bondi, Sydney, costing over £50,000, for the purpose of making Australian films, and that a cablegram which appeared in the press on Saturday last stated that among the books which the Duke of York is reading prior to leaving for Australia is For the Term of His Natural Life?
– I am not officially aware of either of the alleged facts, but if the honorable member will put his question on the notice-paper I shall furnish him with an answer.
Administrator - Report of Royal Commission
– I should like to know from the Prime Minister if it is a fact that the Administrator of Norfolk Island is returning to Australia, whether he has been recalled, and, if so, whether action in that regard has been taken as the result of the report of the royal commissioner, Mr. Whysall, and when the commissioner’s report will be available?
– I understand that the Administrator of Norfolk Island has actually arrived in Australia, but his return to the Commonwealth was determined upon before the report of the royal commissioner had been received by the Government. There is no connexion between the Administrator’s presence in Australia - he is here on leave - and the commissioner’s report. The report itself was received a week ago by the Government, and is now under consideration. It will be made available at the earliest possible date.
Vacancies on Administrative Staff.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– No request has been received from the company mentioned.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Pooling and Marketing
asked the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
Can he inform the House whether a bill for the pooling and marketing of the pearl shell of Australian producers will be brought in this session ?
– The question of whether legislation to control the oversea marketing of pearl shell will be introduced, and if so, when, will be considered by the Government as soon as the views of the Commonwealth law authorities on the proposal already submitted have been received.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow :: - .
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice-
How often is there a mail service to the lightkeepers and assistant lightkeepers and families at the following lighthouses of the north-west coast of Western Australia, viz.; - (a) Point Cloates, (b) Nor’ West Cape, (c) Cape Leveque ?
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be given as early as possible.
Staffs in England and America.
– On the 23rd July, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked tho following questions: -
I am now in a position to furnish the following replies : -
Butter from New Zealand - Control Board - Dairy Farmers’’ Earnings.
– On the 28th July the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) asked the following questions: -
The answers to the honorable member’s questions, as supplied to me by the Vic torian Section of the Australian Stabilization Committee, are as follow: -
On the 23 st July the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked thefollowing questions: -
To which I replied^ -
Advice has now been received that the board is unable to supply the information because it concerns the private business of its members. I understand that it is the practice of the Department of Trade and Customs not to disclose the names of” importers of particular commodities.
On the 23rd July, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked, the following questions : -
The following are the replies to the honorable member’s questions : -
CQ-opcrativo butter and cheese factories; P. J. Holdenson and H. E. Handbury, representing proprietary butter and cheese factories.
On the 23rd July, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked the following questions: -
The following are the replies to the honorable member’s questions: -
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the consideration of Order of the Day No. 1, Government Business, be postponed until after the consideration of Order of the Day No. 3 and Order of the Day No. 2.
Order of the Day No. 3 (Canned Fruits Export Control Bill) called on.
– Mr. Speaker-
– I rise to a point of order. The motion of the Prime Minister was that consideration of Order of the Day No. 1 be postponed until after consideration of Orders of the Day Nos. 2 and 3. Therefore, I expected that Order of the Day No. 2 would be called on. Because, in the resolution just carried, Order of the Day No. 2 is mentioned after Order of the Day No. 3, you are not necessarily obliged, Mr. Speaker, to call on Order of the Day No. 3 before Order of the Day No. 2. I am pining to hear the speech of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) on the League of Nations. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), who had leave to continue his speech on the second reading of the Canned Fruits Bill, is not present.
– I think that the intention of the Prime Minister was that the House should deal with the Canned Fruits Export Control Bill, then with the- agenda paper of the League of Nations, and, thirdly, with the Federal Aid Roads Bill.
– The Prime Minister expressed his intention in a peculiar way.
– I suggest that to make the position clear, and to regularize the procedure, the motion be put in this form: That the consideration of Orders of the Day Nos. 1 and 2 be postponed until after the consideration of Order of the Day No. 3.
– In my opinion, the motion was correctly worded, and there is no need to regularize the procedure. The motion brings forward the first three items on the business paper in reversed order, No. -3 being now the first to be considered. I regret that the honorable member for Wannon is not present, because the House granted him the privilege of continuing his remarks when the debate should be resumed; but I have no doubt that honorable members will be prepared to allow him to exercise that privilege when he enters the chamber.
– I protest against this altering of the business-paper, which leads to no end of confusion. The Prime Minister, if possible, should give the House, notice of his intentions. It may be that the honorable member for Wannon, glancing at the notice-paper, saw that the Canned Fruits Export Control Bill was listed as Order of the Day No. 3, and considered that he had plenty of time to keep some urgent appointment in the city before he would be called on to continue his remarks. I suggest, in a friendly spirit, that, if possible, adequate notice should, be given respecting the Government’s intention to re-arrange the businesspaper. Any one of us may otherwise find himself at some time in the position of the honorable member for Wannon this morning.
-The motion before the House is “ That the Bill be now road a second time,” and if the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) wishes to speak, I ask him to continue the debate.
– I rise to a point of order. The Prime Minister has stated that he is agreeable to permitting the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) to continue his speech when he enters the chamber. The honorable member has already addressed himself to the bill, and has obtained leave to continue his speech, but as he is not now present, I ask if he can be permitted to do so later.
– With the permission of the House, he might do so.
– Do I understand that, under that ruling, the honorable member for Wannon may make a second-reading speech during the committee stage if he is not here until then?
– No. This is the first occasion that an honorable member, hav ing received permission to continue his remarks on the resumption of a debate, and, not being present then, an attempt has been made to preserve the privilege for him. With the permission of the House, the honorable member for Wannon may continue his speech during the second-reading debate. That question, however, is not now at issue.
– Do I understand, sir, that your ruling is that the question before the House is the second reading of the Canned Fruits Bill?
– I submit that we have not yet postponed Order of the Day No. 2. The motion that was carried by the House was that the consideration of Order of the Day No. 1 be postponed until after consideration of Orders of the Day Nos. 3 and 2. The mere fact that the Prime Minister mentioned Order of the Day No. 3 before Order of the Day No. 2 did not in itself postpone Order of the Day No. 2 after Order of the Day No. 3. There must be a resolution of this House to postpone Order of the Day No. 2 before we can proceed with Order of the Day No. 3. . I submit that the question before the House now must be Order of the Day No. 2.
– The intention of the motion of the Prime Minister was that the order of consideration should be Order of the Day No. 3, and then Orders of the Day No. 2 and No. 1. If honorable members are under any misapprehension, I suggest that the right honorable gentleman should submit a clear and definite motion to the House.
– I quite agree that if the House is under any misapprehension respecting the Government’s intentions, the motion should be submitted in a clearer form; but I do not in any way subscribe to the view that my motion was not correct and clear. As the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) is not present, and should have the opportunity, if he wishes to do so, to continue his remarks on the Canned Fruits Bill, I am quite prepared to substitute for the motion just carried a motion to allow Order of the Day No. 2 to bc proceeded with. I therefore move -
That Order of the Day No. 1, Government! Business, be postponed until after consideration of- Orders of the Day Nos. 2 and 3.
– We are now asked to agree to a motion to alter the order of business without any reason having been given for it. We have already debated the Federal Aid Roads Bill, and to me the
Bar of government seemed to be running along the road in a rather bumpy manner. I want to know whether there has been a puncture or a complete break-down. [ know that some of the bearings have run hot, and there are rumours of serious blow-outs. The Prime Minister sh. uki tell honorable members whether the car lias run off the road or has met with only a temporary mishap. The debates on the -League of Nations agenda-paper and the Canned Fruits Export Control Bill were pushed aside for the Federal Aid Roads Bill, and we have assembled this morning to hear the further debate on that bill. Why does the Government seek to postpone it?
– I desire to inform the Houst that a distinguished visitor, His Excellency the Governor of the State of Victoria (Lord Somers), is within the precincts. With the concurrence of honorable members, I shall invite him to take a seat on the floor of the House.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
His Excellency thereupon entered, and was seated accordingly.
.- I note with satisfaction that, as a result of certain points of order whioh, in our wisdom, we have raised, we have now proceeded backwards along the main roads until we have arrived at the point of commencement. To that extent, the debate has been entirely satisfactory. _ On this Friday morning - Friday mornings are usually devoted to the consideration of especially serious subjects - we should be discussing main roads, and the mere ifact that that subject has been embarrassing the Government is not sufficient reason for the somewhat involved motion Of the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to provide that the consideration of it should be postponed.
The Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) has promised, or threatened, to proceed to the League of Nations, and I, for one, do not wish him to go until he has expressed a considered opinion on the legality of the Government’s proposals relating to main roads.
– He has done that.
– But I wish him to reconsider the subject, because the two opinions already expressed by him are conflicting, and I should accept his third opinion as conclusive.
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss the merits of the Federal Aid Roads Bill until the motion for the postponement of Order of the Day No. i has been disposed of.
– I am carefully avoiding any irregularity of that kind. I am merely saying that it is highly desirable that we should have the final and considered opinion of the Attorney-General regarding the bill. I grant that canned fruit3 are an important subject, and I appreciate the fact that the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) is straining at the leash to give us a speech on the League of Nations; ‘but it must be conceded that we cannot proceed to a satisfactory conclusion on any of these subjects unless the road along which we must travel has been made for us. Therefore, we should discuss main roads. Surely the Prime Minister realizes that there are still a few representative bodies in Australia who have not yet condemned his proposal to tax petrol to provide revenue for constructing main roads, and that if he postpones the question he will, instead of making his own position easier, achieve a disastrous result; for, although these few public bodies and individuals in remote places agree with him, there will be none on his side if the subject does not come up for reconsideration until next week. Let us discuss the matter while he still has a friend or two here and there. We have now satisfactorily secured the rights of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), and allayed the fears of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), who stood in imminent danger of having to make a speech, without preparation, on a subject in which he was deeply interested. I appreciate the fact that the honorable member for Wimmera is improving the shining hour, while I am discussing main roads, by making some notes on canned fruits.
-The subject before the Chair is the postponement of Order of the Day No. 1.
– I can only reiterate my protest; indeed, I would reiterate it further, but that I am familiar with the standing order relating to tedious repetition. Therefore, I shall not reiterate, but merely emphasize my opposition to the postponement of the discussion of main roads. The public mind has been greatly stirred by this question. At this time in our history, when we are proposing to open the Parliament at Canberra, and when, in the discharge of our high functions, we shall be busy entertaining distinguished visitors, we need all our main roads. I do not wish io indulge in any carping criticism as to who should take the high road and who should take the low road. All roads are of more or less importance to the National Parliament. Before the public indignation against the Government’s policy has further developed, the wisdom of this Parliament should be let loose; we should declare ourselves at once, definitely and finally. The practice, which is no doubt traditional with all governments, of holding an ear to the ground to ascertain the nature of public opinion, is to be deprecated. We, in our wisdom - and I think most honorable members will grant our superior wisdom - should direct and control public opinion, not seek to follow it. Therefore, let us, with courage and fortitude, here and now, face this question of main roads. I am not permitted to dis: cuss the merits of the question further than to say that I am opposed to the Government’s policy. I have been a roaduser since I started to go to school in the bush, where I was born, and I have been interested in the development of roads; and the sources of revenue which are tapped for their maintenance, ever since. I am yearning to debate this question. For the moment, the main roads of Australia are a more pressing matter than the League of Nations or canned fruits - two allied questions which are doutbless important in themselves, but are of less immediate importance than main roads. I regret that the terms in which the motion is couched preclude me from discussing main roads. That being so, I merely register my opposition, and, having regard to the pressure of time and other urgent business, J leave the subjeof with some regret, in the hope that what 1 have said will induce the Government to withdraw the motion. I apprehend that the notice-paper represented the considered judgment of the Government up to midnight last night. What has happened since?
– The daily papers have been issued.
– That may have had something to do with it. I hope that in my opposition to this motion I shall have the support of honorable members.
.- I realize that it is sometimes necessary for the Government to make an alteration of the notice-paper, but, in fairness to honorable members, the order of business, as set out on the notice-paper, should be adhered to as far as possible. I intend to speak on the Canned Fruits Export Control Bill, but I am not prepared to do so now. I assumed that the order of business as set out on the business-paper would be observed, and I consequently made no attempt to prepare a speech. On the other hand, I have prepared a speech on the Roads Bill. I knew that the honorable member for Wannon had the floor on the Canned Fruits Export Control Bill. I submit that it is not fair to honorable members to alter the business-paper when importaut matters are being keenly contested. I expected to hear this morning a vigorous speech on the Federal Aid Roads Bill by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), and I am disappointed that I shall not hear him; but I am sure that his speech, when it is delivered, will not lack anything in vigour because it has to be bottled up for the present.
– I agree with the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) that whenever possible the Government should adhere to the order of business as printed on the business-paper; but the honorable member has been a member of the Cabinet, and he knows that it is sometimes necessary to change the order of business. Honorable members generally will agree that, in arranging the business of the House, I try to consider their in- terests. But the Government is in charge of the business, and has the right to vary the order if it so desires. That has been done on many previous occasions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 27th July (vide page 4635), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the paper be printed.
Upon which Mr. Charlton had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added after the word “printed”: - “‘and that in the opinion of this House the Australian delegates should strenuously oppose any attempt to include in the agenda of the Economic Conference questions of domestic concern.”
.- As somewhat of a sailor, I have always been opposed to proceeding to sea on a Friday, because as every one knows voyages commencing on that day are supposed to be attended with misfortune. And, in fact, I am somewhat at a disadvantage this morning, as I did not expect the debate on this motion to be called on, and I have not the notes which I had prepared with me. I am, therefore, indebted to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) for making an excellent speech on a point of order in relation to the Federal Aid Roads Bill, and thus giving me the opportunity to gather together the few observations I have to make on this important subject. When this motion was before the House last week, I remained in the chamber for practically seven hours on end, because I was so interested in the speeches delivered by honorable members. I cordially endorse the remark of the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) that the speech of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) met with his hearty commendation, though like him I do not agree with everything the honorable member for Reid said. His speech seemed to come as a surprise to some honorable members, but it was not a surprise to me, because from many conversations with him I know that he has given a good deal of attention to foreign affairs. With one or two of his points 1 shall deal later.
I have not attended an Assembly of the League of Nations, though during the sittings of the last Assembly, I was within a few miles of Geneva, and in close touch with many of those at the Assembly. In the course of my ten trips round the world, however, I have been in conversation with the leading diplomats of many countries, and am personally acquainted with many persons who have attended the meetings of the League, and have, therefore, been able to obtain their opinion on international matters. It is easy to say that we believe in the League of Nations, but it is important to consider what it actually is, and where it assembles? Its meetings are held practically in the heart of Europe, and it functions in an atmosphere not exactly of war, but of continual preparation for war. If honorable members would study the conditions of the armies and navies of the world to-day, as revealed in publications obtainable in our Library and elsewhere, they would receive a frightful shock. Although the League of Nations is endeavouring to ensure the peace of the world by discussions around the council table, the armed forces of Europe are greater to-day than they were in 1914. From the following figures concerning a branch of defence in which I am especially interested - the Navy - honorable members will gain some idea of the strength of the navies of the world. The number of ships built and in course of construction are -
In addition to those mentioned above there are ‘ also aeroplane carriers and other types. It will, therefore, be seen that it is very difficult for the League of Nations to function effectively in the atmosphere by which it is surrounded. We must also remember that the great powers of Germany, Russia, and the United States are not members of the League. Of course, we all advocate the admission of Germany, and it is almost certain that she will become a member of the League; but America, constituted as she is - -honorable members must get this into their minds - will never join the League. I have had friendly discussions with a number of the leading men of America, and from them have gained the definite . impression that, although Americans will possibly favour the representation of their country in a Court of International Justice, she will’ not joiii the League. America has a population of 116,000,000 people, and is far removed from the turmoil of Europe. She did, however, endeavour to bring the nations together for peaceful purposes hy convening the Washington Disarmament Conference, and much good work was done at the conference, although it has since been undone, to some extent, because so many war vessels, other than capital ships, are now being constructed. However, I shall leave that aspect of the question for a moment, and deal with the economic question, which is causing a good deal of concern. When I was abroad eighteen months ago, I found that the dangerous subject was, as pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition, the question of supply of the world’s raw material. We, in Australia, have no real idea of the importance of this question. If there is anything that is likely to cause talk of war, or actual war, it is the supply of raw materials. For the information of honorable members I quote the following statement from to-day’s Sun Pictorial: -
PEACE AND GOODWILL.
Germany’s New Move. Pact Only Beginning. (Pictorial World Cables.)
London. Thursday. - To safeguard German interests in post-war Europe and to promote understanding between the nations .of Europe, the Association for European Understanding has been formed .by the Germans, says the Berlin correspondent of T7ie Times.
The Association has issued a manifesto declaring that the Locarno Pact had given impetus for the reconciliation of the European people to the Fatherland, and that, whatever might be enacted by the League of Nations at Geneva, the European nations must work out their own salvation.
The creators of the Locarno Pact, says the manifesto, admitted their work was only a beginning.
Every nation would have to unite and work for purposes of active co-operation.
This is the important point -
The 2?ew Order.
If the new order, which must result in allround disarmament, was to be permanent, there must Ibo security that the moral guarantees which replaced those of the military, were not violated by either side.
That aim could only be achieved by a deepening consciousness of peace solidarity and the intertwining of economic interests.
According to the agenda paper of the League of Nations which has been tabled, the report of the preparatory committee for a world’s conference which has considered the economic conditions of the various nations may be discussed, and this discussion would cover the supplies of raw materials and the subject of migration. Although I entirely agree with the sentiment underlying the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I cannot support the amendment, for certain reasons. The issue, however, cannot be sidetracked ; it must be faced. We must remember that any question likely to bring about war can. be considered by the League, and if there are any subjects which are likely to have that result they are the world’s supplies of raw material and migration. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that Australia’s delegates to the League should make it perfectly clear where we stand on these matters and on the White Australia policy. The subject cannot be raised by the Australian delegates at the Assembly of the League; but I think the right honorable member for Balaclava was right when he said that our delegates can voice our opinions before the other delegates of the British Empire who will be at the Assembly. That has a bearing upon the point raised by the honorable member for Reid, that we were not consulted by the British authorities about the Locarno pact. Of course we were not. The right honorable member for Balaclava rightly said that we must never forget that we are part of the British Empire. When supporting the candidature of the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Perkins) at the recent byelection, I found, on arriving at Yass, that the Leader of the Opposition had the previous evening made a lengthy speech to the effect that Australia must not place her finger in the international pie. That remark was applauded; but it gave me the opportunity on the following night to explain that it did not matter a rap whether Australia has its finger in the international pie or not, because, if war were declared from Downing-street, we should be involved equally with all other parts of the Empire five minutes afterwards. When Great Britain is at war, the whole Empire is at war. I do not think the honorable member is foolish enough to believe that Australia would be better out of the Empire than in it. Australia’s security has depended and always Twill depend upon the might of Great Britain and her Navy; but, whatever move may be made on the international chessboard at Downing-street, we are bound by it. That has an important bearing on Australia’s representation in London. I iliave always been of the opinion that our representative in London .should have the status of an ambassador, and the opportunity of consulting and conferring freely with the British authorities. A great compliment was paid me by the Empire Parliamentary Committee . of the House of Commons, of which Lord Burnham is the chairman, when I was asked, during my stay in London, to attend its meetings when the representation of the dominions in London was being considered. Members of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald’s Government were on that committee, before which I “had an opportunity of expressing my views. The members of the committee were practically unanimous that the dominions should have better representation. Australia’s representative in London should be able to visit the Foreign Office every morning, peruse its files, and make extracts from them of anything concerning Australia. He could then keep our Prime Minister in close touch of what was going on, and could convey to the Foreign Office in Loudon the views of the Australian Government on matters of international importance affecting the Commonwealth. That would remove a lot of the trouble referred to by the honorable member for Reid. I trust that the Attorney-General will take a broad hint from the views expressed by the Leader of the Opposition, and will express to the loaders of the British delegation at Geneva Australia’s views on economic questions, on ouv White Australia policy, and concerning migration and the tariff. As I said just now, those questions cannot be side-stepped, as any subject that might lead to war can be considered by -the League. Undoubtedly the subject of migration and the supplies of raw materials, which have occupied the attention of diplomatists during recent years, can be so considered. I had the rather extraordinary experience of discussing the migration question with the Japanese Cabinet in 1923. The Japanese people respect the White Australia policy more than they do the exclusion policy of the United States of America. They recognize that we have always kept a clear line of demarcation, whereas the policy of the United States of America was changed after large numbers of Japanese had migrated to California. But, although Japan respects the White Australia policy, it is clear to any one who has visited that country that that policy is not popular there. Questions affecting migration will necessarily be considered from time to time by the League of Nations, and the sooner we make up our minds regarding them the better it will be for all concerned.
– Surely Australia’s opinion is definite regarding the White Australi a policy ?
– Was not Australia’s position made perfectly clear by a former Prime Minister?
– The world outlook is not particularly hopeful. Conditions cannot continue as they are at present. I find myself in a somewhat difficult position in speaking on this subject this morning, because of the adverse criticism that was given by the press to a speech which I delivered in 1920 or 1921, when I made a forecast regarding the next war. The indications are, however, that I was right rather than wrong. We must do everything possible to break down the tendency towards increased armaments; but how should we start? On my last visit to America banquets were tendered to me at San Francisco and Vancouver, and I had the opportunity to speak to about 500 or 600 persons. During the course of my ‘ speeches I suggested that the nations should be taken seriatim and a schedule prepared showing the area of land under their control, their population and its distribution, their trade routes and the value thereof, and that a decision should be arrived at as to the defensive forces necessary to safeguard their respective interests. To do even so much would result in billions of pounds being saved in warlike expenditure,’ because it would reduce materially the existing forces of certain great powers. The question may well be asked why J apan to-day has one of the finest navies the world has ever seen. I have been on some of her war vessels, and know what they are like. Why has J apan two great battle fleets, which are maintained in a state of high efficiency? The reason is that that nation is afraid of Russia and China; and it is no secret that she has no very great affection for the United States of America, because of the exclusion law which has been in operation in that country. Japan’s massive navy could be reduced considerably by an agreement along the lines that I suggest.’ I do not think that the League of Nations can deal with this matter so long as Germany, the United .States of America, and Russia, arc not members of the League. The time is ripe for another disarmament conference. The . United States of America is only too willing to call another disarmament conference if the nations will attend it. I speak as one possessing knowledge, because I have been behind the scenes. A conference would have been called by the United States of America had it not been for the Locarno Conference. The people of the United States of America resented greatly what took place at Locarno, because the President of that great republic had previously laid all his cards on the table and shown his willingness to call another disarmament conference. Locarno, however, upset his plans. Another conference similar to that held at Washington should be held. It would result in great savings to Britain, and in even greater savings on the part of Japan. If some understanding could be arrived a.t, Japan’s armaments could be- reduced, and that would help the whole Avorld. Throughout Australia there is considerable anxiety as to the aspirations and intentions of Japan. That anxiety is unfounded; there is no cause to fear Japan. The Japanese people have a deep regard for the British Empire and for Australia, a regard which they showed during the Great War, when Japanese vessels escorted the Australian troopships and guarded the whole of the Australian coast. I urge the Prime Minister, while in Great Britain, to do what he can to arrange for another disarmament conference. When I was in Tokio, word arrived that the Australian Prime Minister had suggested that a Pacific Conference on this question should be held. That suggestion was applauded throughout Japan. I, personally, applauded it in a speech which I delivered at the Pan-Pacific Conference at Tokio. I hope that before long another disarmament conference will be held. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) referred to the necessity fcr the Dominion Governments being consulted by the British Government in matters of foreign policy. It does not matter whether they are consulted or not in these matters, because, if England is at war, the Dominions are automatically at war also. In this connexion I desire to read from the Melbourne Argus of the 29th July, the report of a speech which was delivered in the House of Lords by Earl Balfour -
Degree of Responsibility
London, July 28
Lord Parmoor, who was Lord President of the Council in the Labour Ministry, asked in the House of Lords whether the position of the Dominions, in the event of Great Britain becoming a belligerent power, would be discussed nt the Imperial Conference.
The President of the Council (the Earl of Balfour) said that the Prime Minister (Mr. Baldwin) would make a statement upon the conference in the immediate future, and he need not anticipate it. There was little doubt that the date would have to be deferred after 5th October, for the convenience of the dominions. ‘‘Regarding iLord Parm’oor’s Question, he said that the problem would certainly come up at the conference if the dominions desired to discuss it. “ My personal view,” Lord Balfour said, “ is that our relations in this conglomeration of free States are necessarily those of equality. None of us can be above the other. One may have more responsibility than another, one may be closer to the centre of international complications, but all are on an equality. That is the essence of the British Empire. (Cheers.) Little can be gained by discussing the defining degree of responsibility each has to the other. I should say that this country is bound to go to war to defend any part of “ the Empire. Personally, I think that the duties of other parts of the Empire to us are not less than our duties to them, but regarding !the particular conditions under which that great duty should be exercised, nothing can be gained by inventing hard cases beforehand. Our plain duty is to defend the Empire of which we are so important a part.
That duty we shall always carry out, as well as our duty to bring the dominions, into our counsels as far as possible. “There are mechanical difficulties in consultation - difficulties of time and -space which no scientific discoveries -will enable us to eliminate - but we desire to give the dominions full information regarding the motives animating our policy. We desire that the unbreakable ‘bond which unites us shall carry that mutual confidence and constant exchange of ideas and harmony of aims which is the basis and strength of the Empire. How these general maxims will he dealt with ‘by the various elements of the Empire when they come together at the end of October I cannot say; but I am confident that the common political instincts will carry the Empire through all difficulties, and moreover, when the occasion arises, will carry the Empire through its perils and perplexities.”
That very fine speech, which will live in our memories for a long time, answers the statements that have been made by the honorable member for Reid (Ma-. Coleman) regarding the desirability of the dominion governments being consulted on matters of foreign policy. The British Goverment is just as anxious to place before us all that it knows as we are to learn what is going on. I agree heartily with the proposal that we should have in London an Australian ambassador, with the right to examine documents in the Foreign Office, and so to keep Australia well informed on matters of foreign policy. When in England, I came to the conclusion that an Australian ambassador in London was most desirable, and I -informed the Prime Minister to that effect. The League of Nations must continue to function. Already it has accomplished a great deal, especially in the direction of rehabilitating the financial position of some of the Central European powers. It has received one or two serious setbacks; as, for instance, that given to it by the ambassadors who, without consulting the League, prevented war between two countries; it has been side-stepped on occasions; but, nevertheless, it is doing an enormous amount of good. But it will never achieve world peace until the United States of America is a member of the League; and as that country will not join, the League, we must help the League by outside influence. Another disarmament conference should be held at Washington in an atmosphere that is not filled with rumours of war and preparations for war. Only in a neutral, calm atmosphere can these matters be discussed with any hope of success. The present tendency is “for armaments to increase. Europe is not in a healthy state. The collapse of the franc, Germany starving for’ raw materials, Russia but little better, Italy flourishing under a dictator, Japan worried by many things, are matters of great moment, which may have disastrous results. Only to-day, there appeared in the press a statement by Mr. Davis relating to a new association that has been formed to bring about better relations in the Pacific. That is an excellent idea.
– The strained relations between Japan and the United States of America are pregnant with grave possibilities. It is of no use our attempting to disguise that fact. Any person who, in the United States of America, makes a speech against Japan, is regarded as a hero, because he is supporting the policy of exclusion of Japanese. Similarly, any one who in Tokio gives a hard knock to the United States of America, is also regarded as a hero. Unless this state of affairs is altered, there will be trouble. Japan, and the United States of America are wonderful nations. The League of Nations cannot prevent trouble arising between ‘them, because the United States of America is not a member of the League. The only hope that I can see is for either of those two nations to call a conference, with a view to the reduction of armaments. In conclusion, on the question of our representation at Geneva, I want tol say that, while doubtless the League of Nations is the talking-shop of the world, General Smuts, in his book on the League, encouraged the idea, as did Walter Haynes Page in his letters, that getting together is half the battle in overcoming difficulties. The personal touch is what is required. It is rightly complained that in many cases the representatives of the powers are not the best that could be chosen, inasmuch as they are not the heads of their respective nations, having all responsibility upon their shoulders. In that respect it is regrettable that the Prime Minister is not going to Geneva as the head of our nation. As it is impossible for the right honorable gentleman to be there, I think we are sending our next best man in the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham). He has been a great believer in the League of Nations from the beginning. When I visited the Versailles Peace Conference, I saw the honorable gentleman there, and I know that he did wonderfully good work in assisting the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). The Attorney-General knows the atmosphere of Geneva. He is acquainted with a great number of the men he will see at the Assembly of the League, and he certainly knows the outlook of Australia and of this Parliament. He is one of the heads of the bar in Victoria and in Australia, and possesses great legal knowledge, which is so essential at a gathering such as that at which he is to represent this country. In view of all his special qualifications for the position, I say that we are sending the right man to Geneva. I congratulate the honorable gentleman upon his selection, and I wish him the best of luck.
– I do not propose to make a considered and detailed speech on the very important and far-reaching question of the League of Nations. I have been moved by some observations of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) to refer to one or two aspects of the matter which have emerged in clear view in the course of this interesting and important discussion. Before I proceed further, I join with the honorable member in the expression of good will which he uttered, at the close of his address, to the honorable the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham) regarding his mission to the next meeting of the League. Having an intimate knowledge of the honorable gentleman, his attainments, and his history, and setting aside for the moment purely political considerations, may I say that there is no man whom I would prefer to see proceed upon this mission before the honorable gentleman to whom the task has been entrusted. He will bring to bear upon the. performance of his mission ripe knowledge, partly born of his previous experience abroad, but more firmly based upon his sympathy with the objects of the League of Nations. I join wholeheartedly with those who wish him god-speed upon his mission. I join, also, with those who, rightly, have been pleased to congratulate the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) upon his excellent address. Apparently, the honorable member’s speech was rather in the nature of a surprise to those who do not know him as well as I do. I should have regarded the encomiums passed upon him as somewhat patronizing were it not for the fact that, compared with many members of the House, the honorable member has youth to his credit. We are, therefore, perhaps, justified in presuming to congratulate him upon an excellent effort, in which he displayed a broad outlook and sharp intelligence on the vexed subject of foreign affairs. I need make ho apology for venturing to say a few words on a subject which is inextricably bound up with the ideal of world peace, because when peace was an unpopular topic, and when it was barely safe to mention it, even within the comparatively secure walls of this chamber, I ventured, with other members of my party, to make an attempt to keep alive the fires of international goodwill at a time when it appeared that they were doomed to .be extinguished for ever. Without flattering myself at all, I venture to say that until we have developed the courage to talk peace in time of war as well as in time of peace, we shall never have made up our minds definitely to proceed on the right road to the goal of international peace. I remember, some years ago, reading with great pleasure some words of an eminent English divine, Dr. Salter, of the Congregational Church in Britain. I do not pretend to quote him exactly, but he said that the greatest sacrifice that any nation can render to the world and humanity still remains to be made, and that sacrifice is for a nation prepared for war to throw aside its armaments, and, in the interests of humanity, to immolate itself for the sake of peace - for the sake of peace to make a sacrifice at least in faint imitation of the great sacrifice upon which the Christian structure rests. We have heard something of the question whether we can have security before disarmament, or must have disarmament before security. Following on the lines of thought which I have been pursuing, I say that the greatest gesture of peace that could be made would be for a nation such as Britain to throw off its arms in the sight of the world, and invite the world to follow its example. There would be courage and statesmanship. There would be a gesture which even the most belligerent nations of the world would not have the moral courage - to refuse to emulate. I am led more particularly into this discussion by some observations that have been made on the subject of the price of Empire. The honorable member for Reid pointed out, and it is granted on all sides, that when Britain is at war we are at war, and that, says the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), is the price of Empire. The right honorable gentleman said, and the honorable member for Wentworth apparently agrees with liim, that there is no price which is too high to pay for our association, as a oomponent part, with the British Empire. If the contrary means that we should forfeit the regard which, as kindred of one family, the people of this country naturally have for their forbears and the country from which they have come, I would
Bay that that is a sentiment too deeply cherished and too vital to the better side of human nature to be set aside in any circumstances. When any people cease to have regard for the claims and ties of kinship, they have thrown aside the better part of their nature. Therefore, I do not advocate that. But I poiut out to these honorable gentlemen that in all material matters but one Australia is an independent nation. We have insisted upon that. We have insisted upon the recognition of Australia- before the League of Nations as an independent dominion, and one of the family of British nations. There is no one in Australia to-day who would tolerate for a single moment the slightest interference with the right of this country to govern itself according to its own ideals. The purpose of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is to declare before the world that on all questions of purely domestic concern the right of Australia to govern herself is, and must remain, inviolate. The honorable member for Wentworth, although for certain technical reasons he is not supporting the amendment, admits that he is entirely in accord with the sentiment it expresses.
– The honorable member should not misunderstand me. I am in favour of the amendment, but I believe that the Australian delegates should voice their protest in the Council of the British Empire, and not at the League of Nations.
– Quite so. We see from these facts how deeply cherished is the principle of practical independence. On all practical breadandbutter questions we insist upon our absolute right to govern ourselves. There is no school of thought in Great Britain which challenges that right, nor is there any which insists upon the view that if war is declared by the Home Office, Australia is necessarily bound to send troops to take part in that war. The British authorities do not insist upon that as an obligation arising out of our imperial connexion. That is a matter, as the honorable member for Fawkner points out, entirely within our own discretion. But there is a legal result which flows from our imperial connexion which is not in our discretion at all, and is the result pointed to by the honorable member for Reid, namely, that Great Britain being at war, we are, within the view of international law, at war also. To every country with whom Great Britain is at war Australia is at war; we are a belligerent community; our territory is an enemy territory; and our citizens are enemy citizens. It becomes more than a question of law. It becomes a question of fact, having very practical and grave consequences. That is where the real difference arises between honorable members on this side and those who sit opposite. I now make this public declaration - associated as it is with my respect for the imperial sentiment, so far as it rests upon kinship and goodwill - that it is a vital inroad upon Australia’s independence that in time of war she may be cast into the cauldron without her consent and without even the consultation of her people. Against that international condition I strongly protest. The right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), speaking the other day of the Imperial connexion and the price of emnire, declared himself to be an imperialist, and also said that every patriotic citizen of Australia should be an imperialist. Nobody knows better than the right honorable gentleman that a few years ago men of capacity and .undoubted patriotism publicly . supported the view that a condition of absolute independence would be safer and better for Australia. That school of thought is not entirely extinct. There are still on this side honorable members who are sufficiently high spirited and public spirited to express their views fearlessly on all aspects of this question. Eeal patriotism does not call popular catch cries to its aid. The right honorable gentleman is apparently assessing the virtue of patriotism in its relation to Empire rather than in its relation to Australia, which is our special responsibility and care. I am not arguing for the disbandment of the British Empire. Australia enjoys absolute independence except in one respect. You cannot violate those ties of kinship and regard which ought to, and do, bind together people of the same race. But I declare that Australia should not be dragged at the tail of Great Britain or of any other nation into a war in which she has not expressed a willingness to join.
I shall now. deal with the White Australia aspect of the question. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), re-echoing what had previously been said by half a dozen speakers opposite, stated that Australia was absolutely dependent for her existence upon the might of Great Britain. I decline to accept that as a fact. ‘ Such an assertion is unworthy of any honorable member of this Parliament. Not one of us may affirm, and retain his self-respect, that the very existence . of the nation which he claims to be independent and entitled to take its place as a sovereign entity in the League of Nations, is dependent for its existence upon the Mother Country. My repudiation of that statement has its basis in reason and history alike. From what source is an attack upon Australia even thinkable? In the present state of international affairs the only cause that any honorable member opposite can suggest or hint at is an ideal of racial purity known as the policy of a White Australia.
– That is so.
– That, according to honorable members opposite, is the danger which confronts us. In the discussior of the Development and Migration Bill the argument was advanced again and again that unless we populated this country some other country would challenge oir right to hold it. We have been told on more than one occasion that nations which have overcrowded populations may challenge by force of arms our right to hold this country.
– But we will fight for it-
– The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Green) says that we will fight for it. I ask him if he really means that we shall fight for Australia, or hang on to the apron strings of the Mother Country.
– We will fight for it out here irrespective of what help we may get.
– Does the honorable member accept the popular view of his side that our fight will be futile and hopeless if we stand alone?
– If the honorable member for Fawkner is correct, our fight will be hopeless. It is useless to talk about waging an utterly hopeless fight.
– Our efforts -will be fruitless if we stand alone.
– Very well. Then we should not talk about non-interference with our domestic affairs. Other nations are entitled to interfere if we cannot manage those affairs. What right have we to talk about a White Australia if we are not prepared to back up our claim by our own strength? That brings me to the point that, if we cannot defend our policy of a White Australia, upon what ground can we expect Great Britain to support that policy for us ?
– Does the honorable member suggest that Australia can defend it without the aid of Great Britain?
– I do.
– The Prime Minister has said that we can.
– I suggest that by no right - moral, international or legal- - can we call upon Great Britain to unsheathe the sword in defence of the policy of a White Australia, without making her appear utterly ridiculous’ - and worse still, odious - in the eyes of the nations of the world. Does the honorable member recognize what are the constituent parts of the British Empire? Does ho know that hundreds of million? of coloured people go to the making up of that Empire? The white people in our Empire are comparatively insignificant in number compared with the coloured races. According to the arguments of honorable members opposite there is a possibility of our being attacked by a nation whose population is overcrowded, because we are selfishly holding for a handful of people a vast, unused territory of potential wealth. If we are attacked upon that ground we Bhall be called upon to defend an immoral position, and Great Britain’s support of such a position would be ten times more immoral and untenable.
– Would not the honorable member support the White Australia policy?
– I would. I am showing the utter futility of expecting Great Britain to support by force of arms a policy which clashes with Imperial solidarity. If she attempted to send a fleet to Australia to support such a policy, she would incur the odium and contempt of every nation which is a member of the League of Nations. They very naturally would say, “ How can you send your Navy across the seas to defend a policy which leads to the exclusion of coloured people from the vast unused spaces of that island continent, when four-fifths of the population of your own Empire consists of the members of coloured races”? I advance this argument merely to show the utterly absurd and untenable position which honorable members opposite take up when they say that we are unable to defend ourselves, but that, on the contrary, we are entirely dependent upon the British Navy.
– Great Britain would help to defend Australia against an invader whatever might be the cause of that invasion; just as we should fight for Great Britain whatever might be the cause of a war in which she engaged.
– The honorable member is doubtless right. But the question I would put to him is, where does his argument lead him? What position would Great Britain occupy in the eyea of the. nations that comprise the League of Nations if, as he says, she was prepared to defend Australia whatever the reason might be. If it were the maintenance of a White Australia; and if, as honorable members opposite say, Australia was not fully occupied, and was being inadequately developed whilst other nations were congested and jostling for space; the Mother Country would wage the most unpopular war in history if she attempted to unsheathe the sword in our defence.
– I disagree with that argument. If Australia were invaded it would be because one of our jealous neighbours wanted a part of our territory.
– No doubt that would be so; but that does not square with the speeches of the honorable member’s friends and supporters. Their view is that we are not developing Australia as it should be developed.
– Who said that?
– That was the argu ment which was advanced in favour of the Development and Migration Bill. It was said that we should flood this country with subsidized migrants, because we are not at present fully developing its resources.
– The argument was that our ability to defend this country would bo enhanced if we had a greater population.
– I agree with the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse), who, speaking from a military point of view, said that if it came to the mere question of force of arms, it would probably cost us £100,000,000 to defend this country by land, sea, and air, and render it immune from attack from certain nations, such as our friendly neighbour, Japan.
– The Minister computed the probable cost at £50,000,000 a year.
– For ten years - not to render us immune, but merely to enable us to defend ourselves.
– Such an expenditure is utterly impossible for Australia, and could not for a single moment be supported. Therefore, I come to two conclusions - that if the policy of a White Australia is challenged by force of arms we shall be absolutely thrown upon our own resources, and .that, from the military point of view, it would be impracticable for us to attempt to defend ourselves. But, holding sacred, as we do, this ideal of a White Australia, and believing that our racial purity is vital to our national well-being, not only in our own interests, but in the interests of the coloured peoples alien to ourselves! - with whom we are none the less friendly - the greatest measure of security we can adopt is the one indicated, but not outlined, by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) - personal contact and conciliation, out of which grow understandings between nations to which we might add the same developmental defence policy of the Labour party. On our defence estimates - it is not for me to mention them except by way of allusion - nothing is provided for the preparation for peace between us and the nations of the Pacific, or for the establishment of a school of thought which will bring about an understanding with China, Japan, and the other peoples of the world as to the underlying principles of our policy. We hear advocated doctrines of force and militarism, impossible though they are proved to be by the Minister for Defence himself ; we hear it declared that we cannot defend ourselves, and are entirely de- pendent on Great Britain - that is said by men who close their ears to the undoubted logic of fact that we cannot look to Britain to defend a White Australia - but we hear nothing at all about the merits of our real and best basis of security, which consists in establishing an understanding among the nations. Despite the futility of war, men who have the military spirit, and have been born and trained in that atmosphere, still cling to it with a hope that overrides experience, believing that in some inscrutable way out of bloodshed, loss, and devastation can come security.
– The honorable member knows that that is untrue, and that it is a travesty of the position.
– How can the Minister accuse me of untruth when I read it in the policies of governments ? I do not accuse the honorable gentleman of bloodthirstiness, or of glorying in the destruction and miseries occasioned by war, but I accuse those here who uphold the military tradition of following a policy of futility in imitation of countries whose people followed it in the past, and have bled and suffered for it in their millions. The whole world is groaning under a debt which the curse of war has brought on it. Untold millions yet unborn must bear this dreadful debt which our folly has brought on us and on them. Yet we still pursue the. same policy of “ tactics and strategy.” What has become of the strategy of the German Empire, the greatest military nation in the world? She has thrown it all adrift. Germany is said to have lost the war. In God’s name, in what way has she lost the war any more than Great Britain or France has lost it? Certain it is that we have all lost by the war, and even the light of international jealousy fails to show what country was more particularly to blame than another for the curse that came upon us.
– What would be our position to-day if we had lost the war ?
– We all lost the war ; unmistakably, no country gained ‘ by it, or gained anything but death, devastation, and debt. Let us have no misunderstanding about the real facts.
– Would the honorable member rather have had us lose the war in our own way than in Germany’s way ?
– We know that Ger. many, who was defeated, and because of whose defeat civilization is assumed to have been saved, more than any other nation has got rid of the curse of militarism, and is pursuing her industrial development with a greater measure of success than any of the other nations that participated in the war. We know that France, who is assumed to have won the Avar, groaning under her load of debt, can scarcely get one of her citizens to accept the responsibility of governing the country, so embarrassed and so harassed are her people by the dreadful condition which a victorious war has won for them. We know that, never in her history has the condition of Great Britain been worse than it is to-day. We read about the coal strike in England; but it is only a sign of the times - only an incident of the general dSbdcle in the Mother Country as the result of this cursed war.
– There are 1,250,000 unemployed in Great Britain as the result of the war.
– Yes; living upon doles that are being paid, not from the production of Great Britain, but from the money the Government has been able to raise upon the security of the nation. I had hoped that in this year, 1926, people would view history in its correct perspective, and see what is really wanted in the world. What is really wanted in the world is not that persons and nations should enter into a League secretly armed and arming, and with the spirit of fight still in them- but that men should seek peace, believing in .peace; not, like the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie), thinking that one should go to a peace conference with a dagger behind one’s back.
– The honorable member has no right to say that of me.
– That is the kind of sentiment that brings about war.
– Exactly; that is the kind of policy which brings about war; when men say, “ Yes, let us talk peace; but we shall keep our powder dry and a loaded gun behind the back for use in case the peace conference is not a success.” It will be when men will go into a peace conference with their hands open and bare, saying, “ We have come here honestly and frankly, not only with a desire for peace, but also with the belief that peace is a practical policy, and we are ready to take . some risk for so great a prize,” that peace will be realized in the world. But when one attempts to show the futility and the curse of war, and to make an appeal based on the events of the last ten or twelve years, which have brought about nothing but death and devastation in the world, honorable members like the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) interject sneeringly, and suggest that peace is but the dream of the unpractical.
I would fain pay a tribute, though it be a humble one, to the late President of the United States of America (Mr. Woodrow Wilson), who first envisaged the possibility of a League of Nations. In many of the incidents of his life he disappointed me; but those are forgotten in the major fact that he was a man of broad and courageous outlook, who saw the possibility of achieving peace upon lines of peace rather than upon lines of war. It is to his eternal credit that, during the war, he set out the bases upon which international peace might be achieved : and, when confronted with the views of the then Leader of the Australian Government (the Right Hon. William Morris Hughes), and others who spoke and thought with that gentleman, he brushed them contemptuously aside, declaring that he stood for the peace of the world rather than for the special interests of any nation which was a party to the conflict.
I hope that some real good may come from the mission of the Attorney-General. I believe that he will discharge his duties upon the lines of peace with honesty and ability; and, as I said at the beginning, I say in conclusion, I wish him well. My last work is that peace will only be attained by men who realize the futility of war, and by men who go inco a conference with peace in their hearts and the belief that it is worth while to make some real sacrifice in order to rid the world of the canker curse of war.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. During my speech before the dinner adjournment I made reference to the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie). I used the phrase, as fax as I remember, that he represented the school of thought that would go into a conference with a dagger behind its back. I should like it to be clearly understood that I did not intend that phrase to be taken as representative of the honorable member’s personal character, or to imply that he would be either treacherous or cowardly, because my opinion is quite the contrary. I was endeavouring to apply those words fairly to that school of thought that took the view that we should first have security by establishing armaments before we considered disarmament or a conference to bring it about. As the honorable member for Warringah took exception to my words at the time, and as I did not fully realize what, perhaps, they implied to him, I take this opportunity of saying that it was not my intention to make a reflection upon either his courage or his conduct.
– I had not intended to speak on the subject of the League of Nations until the Estimates were under discussion, but this morning, when the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), and also the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), referred particularly to Japan, I thought that this was a suitable time for me to express my views on that nation, since it is one of the leading members of the League of Nations. The League is running a grave risk of having brought before it for consideration matters that are of domestic concern to us, such as immigration and the White Australia policy. People in Australia ar« prone to give lip service to the inviolability of the White Australia policy, but whether they are prepared to act in the field of physical endeavour is another matter. This morning the honorable member for Batman, in reply to an interjection by me, said that he would be prepared to support the White Australia policy. At the time he was talking about war, and its consequences. He implied by his answer that he would support the White Australia policy, not only verbally, but alao physically. In view of his subsequent remarks, I have grave doubt indeed respecting his bona fides in that “direction. During his speech I was . persistently reminded of the reference made last Parliament by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) to certain honorable members who, he said, if an enemy landed in Australia, would immediately mount a soap-box to persuade them to leave these shores. I am afraid that the honorable member for Batman distinctly comes within that category. He represents the school of thought which preaches pacificism run mad. I suggest that when it comes to the poilnt of supporting the White Australia policy by physical force, he will take up the position that he adopted during the recent conflict.
– I wonder what the honorable member is referring to?
– It must be obvious to the? honorable member. If I ventured to probe the matter further, I nromise him that I should not be forced to make a personal explanation as he did respecting the honorable member for Warringah.
– I made a personal explanation entirely of my own volition, because I wished to do the right thing. The honorable member is making an unpleasant innuendo, and has not the pluck to back it up with plain language. I ask him to try to be honest, even if he cannot bo accurate.
– I am trying to be both honest and accurate-. I am sure that no honorable member misunder stands me. The honorable member, this afternoon, gave the impression that he would support the White Australia policy by physical force if need be, but I venture to suggest that in view of his past conduct, if an enemy threatened that policy, he would be one of the first to mount the soap-box to ask it to please retire. It is possible that Ave should help to bring about peace in the world by forgoing our self-respect, and repudiating, to some extent, our White Australia policy. If we say that that policy must be kept inviolate, then we must be prepared to back our opinion with force. During the last Parliament I had occasion to refer to the strong pacifist views of the honorable member for Batman, and although that matter concerns only himself, yet it is rather incongruous and paradoxical that he should make a most bellicose speech in this House when, if it came to the point of supporting his opinions by physical force, he would be found wanting. Throughout the ages the final test of manhood has been the capacity of a person expressing belligerent views to back them with force. At the recent International Labour Conference, Dr. Evatt, a member of the New South Wales Parliament, was instrumental in getting the delegates from other nations to see eye to eye with him in respect of keeping the White Australia policy inviolate. We must realize that that policy is in the forefront of international politics, and that many nations are urging a modification of it. I am convinced that Australia must at some time be prepared to give physical support to it. I speak in no sense as a “Jingoist.” The subject is likely to be discussed at the next meeting of the League of Nations, as is evidenced by the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). He foresees that Australia’s delegation to Geneva will have to be on its guard io prevent any insidious interference with the White Australia policy, as was attempted by Japan last year. It is doubtful whether we can rely absolutely on the League of Nations as a sufficient deterrent to prevent other nations from attempting to assail the White Australia policy. Mr. Charles Evan Hughes, when Secretary of States for the United States in the Harding Administration, speaking on the 16th May, 1923, said, “The League of Nations is a failure as an agency between the nations of the world to enforce peace.” That statement should give us grave concern. If our safety cannot be assured by the League of Nations, we shall have to consider our relations with the nations which constitute the League, particularly on matters of such vital importance to Australia. Our White Australia policy is likely to be assailed only by Japan, as that is the only nation likely to be antagonistic to it. The aim of Japan has been plainly stated by the Japanese themselves, who claim that they will have absolute control in the Pacific. Even in the schoolbooks issued to the senior children there appear over and over again these words, “Japan must be made the mightiest nation in the world.” That is sufficient to show that other nations in the Pacific must prepare for the day when there will inevitably be a trial of strength. Great Britain has_ taken certain steps to safeguard Empire interests by constructing the Singapore Base. If that work is not being proceeded with for that purpose, what object has the British Government in view?
– The honorable member is quite wrong. The statement to which he referred a few moments ago has been denied by the Japanese Government.
– If my assumption is incorrect, why were there such expressions of joy in Japan when the British Government, under the leadership of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, decided to postpone the construction of the Singapore Base? For the information of honorable members, I shall quote the opinions of a few leading authorities to show our position. The late Lord Northcliffe, who was always a keen student of foreign affairs, and able to gauge the situation between the nations, stated in his publication. My Journey Emmd the World, that -
It is quite impossible to rouse these people (the Australians) to realize the imminent danger that threatens them in the Pacific. To-day Australia is menaced almost as we were in 1914, but she has not a single arsenal.
In July, 1923, the Dutch press, in discussing this matter, said - A naval war in the Pacific must be expected.
The Dutch have possessions in the Pacific; Admiral Sir Percy Scott, who was opposed to the construction of the Singapore Naval Base, made this significant statement -
My remarks about the defence of Singapore are equally applicable to Australia; that part, of our dominions has only one prospective enemy, namely, Japan. Australia has been,, and still is, in danger of invasion by that country.
Although Admiral Sir Percy Scott was bprjosed to the construction of the Singaport Base, his statement could not have been of greater significance in support of the’ project. Admiral Beatty said -
Singapore was selected because it covered the approaches to India, the trade and sea communications of the Indian Ocean, because it covers the source of oil supply in Burma and Persia, because it flanks the line of approach to Australia and New Zealand, because labour and material are available and periodical, docking is essential to maintain the speed and endurance of the Fleet.
Another authority, Sir Guy Gaunt, said, “Singapore was an ideal strategic centre.” Admiral Slade, who enthusiastically supported the Singapore Base, said -
The advent of a formidable naval power in the East -
He was referring to Japan, rendered it imperative for Great Britain to maintain a strong naval force in the East. A base at Hong Kong was not enough. Singapore was the ideal dominating point.
Apart from the eminent naval and military authorities I have quoted, I wish now to give the opinion of the Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Salisbury, who, in 1923, said -
The Singapore base is necessary. There is a Power in the East which, may not always be friendly to Great Britain.
The power to which Lord Salisbury was referring was, of course, Japan. If au attack is -made upon Australia, it will not be from the sister Dominions of Canada or New Zealand. The South American Republics are not casting covetous eyes upon Australia. The United States of America is a friendly nation, and we must therefore look to the North-western Pacific - to Japan.
– The honorable member is offering a gratuitous insult to a noble ally.
– A plain statement of fact cannot be regarded as a gratuitous insult. I suppose the greatest modern authority on Japan is Mr. W. M.
McGovern, who not only lived in that country for many years, but speaks the langage of the Japanese people. In dealing with the psychology of the Japanese people in one of his books, he says -
Tlie words written by Gerard with reference to Germany held even more true of Japan: “ Autocracy saw that if it were to retain its hold on Germany, it must lead the nation into a short and successful war. This is no new trick of a ruling and aristocratic class. . . . Whenever the people showed a disposition to demand their rights, autocracies have always turned to war as the ‘best antidote against the spirit of democracy.”
Those remarks concerning Germany are equally applicable to Japan. He continues -
Japan has resoTted to this theory on several occasions - as in 1894, when the Government forced hostilities on China; in 1904, with Russia; in 1910, by the annexation of Korea; in 1916, by the demands on China; and, in 1917, by the Siberian expedition. Take, for example, the first instance, the case of Ito in 1894. He had found it practically impossible to hold his own, or e’ven to keep the Constitution together, and, though a stern follower of the peace-loving Kido and Okubo, he found himself forced to re-awaken the chauvinistic spirit of the nation by provoking the war with China. This move was, for the time being, eminently successful. The Diet had been a mob of raging fanatics, but, on the opening of hostilities, became instantly submissive. The turbulent populace went wild with national enthusiasm, and Ito became the most popular man in the empire. Budgets that had previously been the centre of conflict wore passed without a murmur, and, in consequence, the Ito Ministry remained in power for over four years - an unusually long period in Japan.
As there is a weakening in the power of authority, and the rise of what may be termed the “ serf “ class in Japan, the position becomes serious. Mr. McGovern, who knows more concerning Japan than even the honorable member for “Wentworth (Mr. Marks)-
– I know the honorable member’s remarks will be deeply resented in Japan.
- Mr. McGovern states -
The result of the war was entirely unexpected, and may he said to have como as a severe shock to the nation. From this she has not yet recovered, and it may be that, as a result of it, she will yet swing into the stream of democracy. At present, however, she is the last stronghold of bureaucracy and autocracy, and, as such, must be carefully observed.
In the opinion ^f many eminent men, Japan may some day be our enemy. At least, her actions in the past do not justify us in believing ‘-hat she is particularly friendly towards Australia. A number of diplomatic utterances regarding Japan’s intentions have been broadcast throughout the world; but remembering Japan’s- sudden actions in the past, we must regard the possibilities of the future in the light of history.
– Japan has done nothing to justify the opinion that she looks with unfriendly eyes on Australia.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr- Marks) said that Japan’s preparations were only for purposes of defence. I disagree entirely with that view. I believe that ultimately Japan’s navy will be used for offensive purposes. Her naval personnel has increased by approximately 50 per cent, since 1914. Mr. Hector C. By water, a well-known naval authority, writing in the Observe^ an English journal, of 23rd March, 1924, said -
In no other country has there been so great a volunne of naval shipbuilding since the Washington Conference as in Japan. The following table shows the light cruisers which have been laid down since January, 1922: -
Sendai, 5.570 tons; begun February, 1922.
Jintsu, 5.570 tons; begun August, 1922.
Yubari, 3,100 tons; begun June, 1922.
Kinugasa, Kaho, Aoba, Furutaka, 7,500 tons; begun April, 1923 - January, 1924.
Myoko, 10,000 tons; begun January, 1924. Preparations are in train for starting work on the Naohi, a 10,000-ton cruiser, at Yokosuka, some time before next June; and two more 10,000 ton cruisers have been authorized for building in the fiscal year 1925-26. Within the same period, Japan has begun or ordered 24 destroyers, averaging 1,375 tons; and 22 submarines, with an average displacement of 1,173 tons. In sum, therefore, Japanese naval construction since the Washington Conference embraces 11 light cruisers, 24 destroyers, and 22 submarines - 57 vessels of war, with a total displacement of 145,400 tons.
Another naval authority, Mr. Archibald Hurd, referring to Japan, said -
What has happened is that naval competition has not ceased, in spite of the Washington Treaty, but has taken a new and much cheaper form.
I believe that Japan would not have devoted so large a proportion of her revenue to strengthening her navy unless she intended at some period to challenge what she regards as the view held by other nations, namely, that the Japanese people are inferior to the white races. The White Australia policy is not the result of the belief that the yellow races are inferior to our own; it is based on economic grounds, and also on the belief that an admixture of the white and yellow races is not in the best interests of either race. The children of unions of different European races are not regarded as half-castes, but the position is different in the case of the children of a union of the white and coloured races. Unfortunately the Japanese people regard the migration policy of the United States of America and the White Australia policy as an indication that they are regarded as being inferior to the white races. That is not so.
– It is not that we love Japan less, but that we love Britain more.
– Exactly. The increase in Japan’s air armaments and in her army has been enormous. Before the war, Japan’s merchant shipping placed her sixth among the nations; now she has risen to the third position- That Japan’s intentions are not solely in the direction of defence, is shown by the number of highly coloured pictures and stories which have been published in Japan during recent years. The text-books for her schools contain accounts of mimic battles, in each case the potential enemy being the United States of America ! Many of the stories set before the Japanese children depict the United States of America being invaded by Japan, or vice versa. The decision of Great Britain to build a naval base at Singapore was a clear indication that all was not well in the Pacific. The people of Australia would be blind to their own interests, and we in this Par-
Iliament recreant to our trust, if we failed to heed that warning. There is danger in the Pacific, and we ought to be alive to our responsibility. To show that the White Australia policy is in danger of being undermined by Japan, I shall read an extract from the South China Morning Post of the 10th March, 1924-
A .bitter speech delivered in the House of Peers to-day by Dr. Eigoro Kanatsugi, in which the Upper House legislator dwelt at length on the “ iniquities “ of America in denying to Japanese privileges that are accorded to other aliens. . . .
Dr. Kanatsugi then went on to talk of other outlets for the surplus population of the country, and declared that Japanese could emigrate to Australia, “ for although strong anti-Japanese agitation is prevalent there, an equally strong pro-Japanese movement counterbalances this.” Concluding, he declared that Japan must either develop abroad or perish/
That speech, which was delivered a little over two years ago in the Japanese House of Peers, is worthy of our consideration.
– Where is the South China Morning Post published?
– It is published in Hong Kong. The report also stated that the Japanese Foreign Minister, Baron Matsui, looked with favour on the suggestion of Dr. Kanatsugi, which was for the peaceful penetration of Australia by Japanese in order to undermine the White. Australia policy. This question is likely to arise at the Assembly of the League of Nations. The Japanese or Chinese menace is not a new thing. For many years there has been talk of the “ yellow peril.” A recent Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Hara, the only commoner to rise to the position of Prime Minister of that country, speaking in connexion with the “ yellow peril,” raised the cry of the “ white peril,” thus endeavouring to set nation against ‘ nation. Professor Forel has dealt with this question in his book The Sexual Question. He concludes with these words: -
How is our Aryan race and its civilization to guard against the danger of being passively invaded and exterminated by the alarming fecundity of other human races? One must be blind not to recognize this danger. To estimate it at its proper value, it is not enough to put all “ savages “ and “ barbarians “ into one basket and all “ civilized “ into the other. The question is far more complicated than this. . . . The Chinese, and some other Mongolian races, constitute an imminent danger for the very existence of the white races. These people eat much less than ourselves, are contented with much smaller dwellings, and, in spite of this, produce twice as many children and do twice as much work. . . Possibly, we might make a compact with the Mongols, and the Chinese in particular, which would allow both races to live on the earth without annihilating each other. I am quite convinced that we have more to fear rom their blood and their work than their arms. Some time ago experts in Far-Eastern questions predicted that the world would end by becoming Chinese.
One of the questions raised by the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is whether we in Australia are to have the power to pass laws that we consider necessary for the preservation of the white races heres If that is to become a subject-matter for discussion by the League of Nations, we are in grave danger of losing our birthright. I commend the amendment to the House, because I believe that we -should make it clear to the League of Nations that Australia will not allow any interference by the League in matters which we regard as being of domestic concern, namely, our migration policy and the White Australia policy. Those two policies are inseparable. Australia being an outpost of the white race, we, living us it were under the shadow of the coloured races, should jeopardize our very existence if we failed to take whatever action we considered necessary to keep Australia white. It may be said that my speech is antagonistic to Japan. If to advocate that we should look after our own interests .and maintain this country for ourselves is regarded by any other nation as an affront, I can only conclude that that nation has designs upon us. I have not visited Japan since the Great War, although I paid a couple of visits to that country prior to the outbreak o.f hostilities. I should be pleased to know that there was no. longer justification for the conclusions which were forced upon me during those visits. I point but that the opinions I have quoted this afternoon are those of experts. I should welcome an opportunity to visit Japan, and to see, not only what would be shown to me, but also what I myself desired to see. I state definitely my opinion that, at the present time, Japan has designs on this country. Australia is one of the obstacles to the realization of her dream of supremacy of the Pacific. I believe that the imminence of trouble in the1 Pacific can be established, and that the menace 3f Japan is very real. I shall be pleased to acknowledge my mistake if- I am. shown to be wrong, but all the evidence I have been able to obtain, and some of which I have given’ the House this afternoon, confirms my view that Japan does not look upon Australia with a very friendly eye. I sincerely hope that the Attorney-General, as leader of the Australian delegation to the . League of Nations, will not permit this question to fade into the background. I hope that he will be particularly alert to notice a movement of any description whatever that is calculated to interfere with our domestic concerns, and particularly those of such a national character as our policy of a White Australia.
.- 1 regret very much some of the references which the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) has made to Japan. No instance can be quoted in which Japan has broken a treaty. We ‘cannot point to a* single’ instance in which she has behaved dishonorably, in connexion with a treaty with another nation. Did not Japan, as a loyal ally, do her level best to assist us in the last terrible war? Were not our soldiers, when being transported across tho’ Indian Ocean, given heart of grace when, in the darkness of night, the big grey fighting ships of Japan showed up, and they knew that they could rely upon their protection? I visited Japan during the Russo-Japanese war, and on two occasions Japanese war vessels came within a stone’s throw of the ship on which I travelled, and, finding that ours was a friendly vessel, gave the signal to pass on. From that experience, I can well imagine what our Australian soldiers must have felt when they sighted Japanese war vessels . on their journey across the Indian- Ocean. Japan is the only country that has ever so honoured our race as to ask one of the greatest of our philosophers, Mr. Herbert Spencer, what its laws and procedure should be to enable it to avoid trouble with foreign nations, and particularly with America and England. I should “have liked to quote the letters written by Herbert Spencer to the Japanese who asked for his advice. Theyare, in my opinion, the most important letters ever written by a human hand. They can be found, at page 321 of the Letters of Herbert Spencer, by David Duncan, which can be obtained in the Library, and honorable members would do well to read thom. The advice given by Herbert Spencer to the Japanese nation was that they should sell no land to a foreigner; should permit no foreigner to own shares in their banks, tramway companies, or shipping companies engaged in the Japanese coastal trade; and should keep themselves apart from other nations as far as possible. Spencer knew the ‘ history of foreign missions, and he was aware that missionaries and traders were believed in their own countries when they made reports pf the foreign countries they visited. - He did not trust the good-will of the
British nation, and, desiring that his last days should end in peace, he requested the high Japanese authorities to whom he wrote to keen his letters of advice, secret until he had passed away. The Japanese people honorably fulfilled his request,, and it was not .until he had passed away that Herbert Spencer’s Jotters were given the publicity they deserved. To show how sound Spencer’s judgment was, there appeared in the Times after his death one of the bitterest articles everwritten accusing him of possessing the narrow-minded personality of a Chinese mandarin of the most conservative type. He has passed away, and the greatness of his name remains in spite of the Times or any other- newspaper. I have more than once suggested in (iia House that instead of hurling insults ‘ at a nation that is great in every sense of the word, we should approach its people with the word which is regarded as most sacred -throughout the East, and that is the word “ reciprocity.” We should ask the Japanese in the sacred name of reciprocity to listen to us. We should tell them that if they desire to settle’ in Australia we are willing, provided they tell as how many Australians are settled in Japan. No Australian owns a square inch of land in Japan. We should tell the Japanese that as the population of Japan is thirteen times greater than the population of Australia, they are welcome to thirteen times the quantity of land in Australia that Australians own in Japan. This is the one continent in the world throughout which the same language is talked, spoken and read, and we hold it as a sacred trust for the millions to come after . us. Wo should tell the Japanese that for every Australian settled in Japan we are prepared to welcome the settlement of thirteen’ Japanese in Australia. In my two visits to Japan I met only some ten Australians who were settled there, and three of . them have since left that country. Using the sacred word “ reciprocity,” .we should tell the Japanese that as they have adopted certain measures on the .advice of Herbert Spencer, to safeguard the integrity of their country,, they cannot blame us if we follow, .their splendid, ex-
Dr. Maloney. ample. As imitation is said to’ he ‘ the sincerest form of flattery,- the Japanese cannot help being pleased if we decide to follow in their footsteps. ‘ I hope that the’ Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), who will represent this great white Australia at the Assembly of the League of Nations, will make it plain that Aus traia will in no circumstances permit the White Australia policy, to be ‘ tampered with. I should prefer to see .every man, woman and child in Australia dead rather than lower that flag of ours. It is said that travel is the best form of instruction, and I think it is. . My travels have removed a great fear I had of China and Japan. At one time I entertained almost a dislike of the Chinese, but, as a result of my first contact with the teeming millions of China, I changed my view, and my change of view was confirmed by my. visit to Japan. When I returned I told a gathering of my electors that whereas they had honoured me,, by electing me as a republican, I would from that time forward ‘never advocate that form of government so long as England’s association with Australia was conducted on just and equitable lines. When I went -through the narrow slums of the city of Canton, I wondered, as a medical man, how people could live under’ such conditions as I saw there without the diseases which I expected to find. I came to the conclusion that, if some 400,000,000 of Asiatics could lead fairly healthy lives ‘under such conditions, it needed only an organizer as great as Confucius was as a philosopher, and the whole wor).1! would lie at the feet of China. I am always ready to accord my thanks to a great senator who has passed away. I refer to the late Senator Bakhap, to whom much of my knowledge of the history of China is due. Like the United States of America, China has never invaded other countries. America has never seized territory. She has never occupied the territory of another nation except by obtaining it’ by purchase. If she is delaying a little while in the Philippines, we must remember that it was at the request of England, Prance, and Holland -that she occupied those islands. I -make that statement definitely, upon the authority, of a work published by Governor Harrison, who ruled over the Philippines ‘ for seven years. He holds that they should be given their freedom in the same way that the residents of the Havanas have been given theirs. Luckily for us, China is not an invading nation. It has been civilized for centuries. It used bank notes before they were used by our forbears in England. Therefore, I look to the future with great hope, and with the knowledge that science has made war so terrible that every “nation will weigh the consequences well before embarking upon it. In spite of national hatreds, which must appear to the philosophers a strange faculty in human kind, the knowledge that within 24 hours as large a city as Paris or London could be made almost lifeless and desolate, would make a nation ponder before engaging in war. We in Australia could make a.. great gesture to .the .rest of the world. We led the way iri legislation by our Transfer of Land Act. We were the first of the Englishspeaking people, including’ those of Idle United States of America, which constitute the largest number, to adopt the secret ballot. Why cannot we show to the world that it is not our intention to spend a penny piece on weapons of offence, or on the maintenance of an army and navy that could be used for the invasion of any other country 1 The most destructive means of waging war in the future will be by aircraft. That is the most mobile of all the forces, and it is recognized in military tactics . that mobility is the most important factor. An aeroplane ‘has a range that is unequalled by the most powerful cannon which has been invented. The biggest piece of ordnance of which we have any definite knowledge is the Big Bertha’ which was used to propel shells into Paris from a distance of T5 miles. All aeroplane can operate offensively with greater accuracy than any other weapon of war, and its range is limited only by the distance it. is able to travel. If a fleet approached our shore with the object of attacking us the Admiral would view with trepidation even 100 aeroplanes hovering above him. ‘ A gesture by Australia, such as. I have suggested, must bear’ fruit. If we ‘devoted the .whole oi/.our defence expenditure to the building and manning of aeroplanes, it .would :be >an; indication’ that we had no desire to .invade another country. I welcome the. existence of the League : of Nations, because I believe that it will lay the foundation of a civilization that’ I hope I . shall live to see. But there seems to be creeping into it a desire to give special prominence to the four great nations - Italy, France, Great Britain and Germany. Why should net any nation who wants peace be brought within that comity of nations? No nation should he allowed to join unless it gives proof of its. desire to assist in the maintenance of’ peace. I do not ‘ blame Brazil .or Sweden’ for their opposition to the recognition of the claim by Germany to a superior seat - . on the Council, of the .League than , they . are allowed. - If any one should think that I am harsh hi my view, I ask him: to cast, his memory - back. to. the .formation of the Holy AIM,ance in Europe. That was a .movement the- abject of which was’ to crush anything in the nature of a republic. Even America was threatened. The ‘ Ameri-. cans to-day are grateful for the act that was. later taken by the Russian nation, with sealed . instructions that it would, declare, war on’ any nation which took the step against the . United States of America. That led to the breaking up . of another alliance, which most .people will ‘ agree with me was more unholy than holy. ‘ I .want - the nations that now. - comprise the League to open their .arms in welcome to ‘ any nation which desires, and will pray and work for peace. No nation should, be told “ You’ are . not large enough in population, armaments, or wealth to come in as our equal.” Peace will not be brought about in that way. The religions that are the strongest and most farreaching, and are securing the greatest number of proselytes, are those whose doors are open to every one. I have not entered a Mohammedan mosque- that had a pew. In the religion in which I was reared I did not see a rented pew in any church on the Continent ; they were all open and free. Therefore, let us open - this League. -of Nations, and make the abiding rule, “ Come all ye into thiscomity:of -nations/’ .so that we may <ensure .peace for humanity, and -destroy ‘-the horrors and miseries «f war. -.
[3.25 J. - I have listened ‘with very great attention to what I consider has been the fullest debate on the League of Nations, and matters, associated with the -Assembly of the League, that has taken place since I have been a member of this Parliament. I shall have the honour and the duty of representing Australia at the forthcoming Assembly of the League. I am in possession of the point of view of the House generally .in relation to the matters that have been discussed. There has been a fairly general agreement upon broad outlines. It ‘would be out of place and inadvisable for me to traverse the ground that has been covered by different speakers. It will be my responsibility to deal, to the limit of my opportunity and capacity, with these questions as they present themselves to the Assembly- of the League, and it would, therefore, be unwise to limit any usefulness that I might ‘have at Geneva by premature declarations upon matters that may there be discussed. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has read to the House a cable which was sent to the League of Nations by this Government, setting out its position with regard to the admission of, Germany to the League, and also its views concerning the Council pf the League. The principles there laid down have generally com1mended themselves to honorable members, and it will obviously be my- duty to do all that I can to secure their adoption.
– That will not in any way prevent the United States of America or Russia from obtaining a seat on the Council of the League?
– The communication which was sent dealt only with the immediate question of Germany’s admission. Subject to correction by the Prime Minister, who is present, I think I can say, on behalf of the Government, that, if the United States of America were willing to enter the League, this Government would do everything possible to facilitate that entry. Similarly, if the- great country of Russia were to comply with the conditions that are required preparatory to admission, no opposition would be raised to a recognition of her position among the Powers of the world. Those matters had not arisen at the time the- cablegram was sent, “and do not yet arise.
The’ Prime Minister has referred to disarmament. On that subject also it would be unwise of me to discuss details. All sections of the He-use are agreed upon the desirability of bringing about disarmament; but the majority of honorable members recognize the grave practical difficulties that exist. . A general agreement upon the worthiness of the object does not in itself amount to a conclusion -upon the means that should be adopted’ to bring it .about.’ The questionnaire, portion of which was read by the Prime Minister, shows that this important subject is ‘being approached in a practical manner, having regard to the considerations that influence the policies of nations. It is one that cannot be dealt’ with in an abstract manner ; regard must be ‘paid to the minds and- the wills of the nations .who ‘would: be affected.
There has been a considerable amountof discussion concerning the intervention of the League in what are conceived to be domestic questions. It is, I think, sufficient for me to -say, as I have said in public on many, occasions - I believe I have spoken on the subject of the League of. Nations as often as any one else in Australia - that it would be a profound error for the League to concern itself with purely domestic .questions, not only from the point of view of the League itself, but also from the point of view of the well-being of the world. At the some time, honorable members must have recognized that the difficulty lies in the application of the’ principle. There need be no doubt as. to my personal adherence- to the principle underlying the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) that it is unwise, as a matter of principle, for the League of Nations to interfere in purely domestic questions.
– If the preparatory committee has submitted a report, will the Attorney-General see, through the British delegation, that this- matter is not finally dealt with by the Council before it gets back to the Assembly?
– I think I must allow what I have said to stand, in order not to compromise myself, or, as I have said> previously, to limit my usefulness when I get there.
– I do not want the honorable gentleman to do that.
– May I suggest that often the best work is done with the minimum of sound. Honorable members may not hear much of me while I am away. I have no desire for personal publicity or anything of the kind associated with the enterprise upon which I am being sent abroad, and I think ii would be advisable to confine what I say now to a statement of the general principle that it is desirable that the League should not interfere with questions which are of a purely domestic character, and that my efforts will be directed to the attainment of that object, through what appear to offer themselves as the most suitable channels.
– That is very satisfactory.
– I shall have an opportunity of meeting representatives of other nations, and, I hope, of discussing with them, in friendship and with courtesy, matters of mutual interest. I am, I think, in a position to interpret the general ideas of Australia upon the questions which will arise, and I hope that I can be relied upon to present in a proper manner the Australian viewpoint. I very deeply appreciate the friendly references to myself which have been made from all sides of the HOUSE and the evidences of good will which this debate has disclosed. I shall do my best to deserve the confidence that has been reposed in me by doing my best for my own country, Australia.
– After the very interesting and instructive debate we have had on the agenda-paper for the forthcoming Assembly of the League of Nations, I think honorable members will agree that the representatives of Australia will have clearly in their minds the views of this Parliament upon the very important and grave matters that will come up for consideration. The three outstanding questions to be considered I dealt with in moving that the paper be printed. On the first of these, the admission of Ger many into the League, and the further question as to the composition of the Council, the views expressed by the Commonwealth Government are, I think, generally acceptable to the House and to honorable members individually. There is only one point that I need touch upon now. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman), who made, if I may be permitted to say so, a very interesting and instructive speech, appeared to think that the report of the committee dealt with permanent and non-permanent seats on the Council. So far that committee has merely dealt with the non-permanent seats.
– Quite so.
– It is possible that the committee may now be considering a recommendation in regard to permanent seats, but my references to it were directed towards its report on the nonpermanent seats and the filling of them. As to the permanent seats on the Council, I do not think there need be the slightest apprehension on the part of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) in regard to the position of the United States of America. The covenant of the League refers to the allied and associated powers. The United States of America was one of those powers, so that in the event of that country being prepared to come into the League I do not think there will be the slightest question as to its securing immediately a permanent seat on the Council. I say nothing as to the possibility of America not coming in if it does not obtain a permanent seat on the Council.
During this debate there has been the fullest expression of the Australian view on the subject of disarmament, and the speech of the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) has shown that he has the fullest understanding of the attitude we wish him to adopt in representing Australia at Geneva. With regard to the proposed Economic Conference and the general functioning of the League, it has been made perfectly clear that despite our sympathy with the objects of the League and our desire to see it progress and fulfil an ever-increasing useful purpose in the world, we believe that it would commit a fundamental and grave error if it attempted * to interfere in any way in matters that are of purely domestic concern to its members. We can, however, trust the Attorney-General to use whatever means he may think most advisable to induce the League to adopt a policy of non-interference in domestic questions.
I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that as the object of his amendment has been attained, the amendment might be withdrawn. It has served a useful purpose in leading to the clearest expression of opinion by this Parliament upon the matters to which it refers, and now that the House knows that the Attorney-General fully understands and sympathizes with its wishes, it should, I suggest, leave it to his discretion to decide how best to exercise the powers we are entrusting to him. We should send him away unfettered by any resolution.
Many matters have been touched on in the course of this debate, but as I made a fairly full statement in presenting the paper, I do not think it desirable that I should traverse the whole of the ground covered by th»- discussion. One matter that has been introduced, that of the status of the Dominions, can be dealt with more usefully, I think, when we are considering the agenda-paper for the forthcoming Imperial Conference. Consequently, I do not propose to touch upon it now.
I feel that we can all subscribe to the view that Australia will be worthily represented at the forthcoming Assembly by our delegation under the leadership of the Attorney-General.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– Every member of this House, and the people of Australia, will wish the Attorney-General God speed, trusting that he may be able to carry out his mission in a way that will give satisfaction to himself, do him honour, and bring increased credit and prestige to the Australian nation.
.- As the mover of the amendment, I should like to say that my object in submitting it has been fully achieved. My purpose was to bring before Parliament, and the people generally, the work undertaken by the Economic Preparatory Conference; but, after the statements, of the Prime
Minister and the Attorney-General, I have no desire to put the amendment to a vote of the House. In fact, I think it would ‘be quite unfair on my part to insist on doing so. I have every confidence in the Attorney-General, and I think that every honorable member has confidence in him as a representative of Australia at the forthcoming conference. In the circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Order of Business - Exhibition of Timbers in Queen’s Hall - Canberra : Ornamental Lakes.
– I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
On Tuesday the Canned Fruits Bounty Bill will be dealt with, because the Government desires to have the measure sent to the Senate, by Wednesday next. The Federal Aid Roads Bill also will be proceeded with; but the States Grants Bill will not be considered next week. On Tuesday, too, I shall make a statement about the agenda-paper for the forthcoming Imperial Conference, and move that the paper 3 be printed. If sufficient progress is made with other business, the consideration of the Estimates will also be commenced. Early in the week a bill will be presented to provide for the payment of a bounty on cotton and cotton yarn.
– I wish to refer to the display of timbers in the Queen’s Hall, to-day. I have no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that this exhibition is being held with your approval; jut, with all due respect, I suggest that it is not desirable to encourage such exhibitions. It may be a good thing for this Parliament to do all it can to encourage Australian industries, but I do not think it desirable to allow the Queen’s Hall to be used as an exhibition room for commercial purposes, or as a means of advertising individual firms or- interests. Apart altogether .from the question of infringing the privacy of honorable members - objection to this has been raised on previous occasions, especially during tariff debates - it may lead to a very undesirable precedent, because if one is allowed this privilege, it will be difficult to refuse it to others. I have brought the matter up” so that if, later, any similar requests come before you, Mr. Speaker, you will be able to give consideration to the views of honorable members.
.- While the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) has a perfect right to express his own opinion as to your action, Mr. Speaker, it is also right that you should know the opinions of other members. I agree that the Queen’s Hall should not be used for commercial enterprises, or to enable persons to advertise their businesses, but I think that, in the exercise of your judgment, in this case, you discriminated wisely. If there is one thing that has been neglected in this country, it is an appreciation of our Australian timbers. There has been a prejudice against them, although I regard them as the finest in the world. I am not an expert, but an enthusiast, and I have enthused about Australian timbers for as many years as I have been able to reason. I have always regretted that, in Australia, especially in our public departments, we pass over our beautifully marked timbers, and give preference to imported timbers. I take this opportunity to congratulate you, sir, on your wisdom in permitting the Queen’s Hall to be used for an exhibition of Australian timbers. The industry has been neglected, and the exhibition will give honorable members of this House an opportunity to appreciate our marvellously beautiful timbers.
– I wish to acknowledge the explanation which was made by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) respecting a statement that he made concerning myself, and to say that I accept it in the spirit in which it was given. I did not attach much importance to his reference to a certain school of thought carrying a dagger behind its back. I took it as one of those pleasantries which we bandy from one side of the House to the other, but, so far as I am concerned, no harm has been done.
.- I desire to compliment you, Mr. Speaker, upon giving honorable members the privilege of viewing the very fine exhibition of Australian timber in the Queen’s Hall. I cannot understand why an advanced thinker like the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) has taken up such a conservative attitude. In fact, there are some words in the letters of Herbert Spencer, to which I referred a few minutes ago, which might very well apply to him. There are in the vaults of Parliament House, some 5,000 works of art, many of them very fine gifts, and no artist would ever expect his gifts to be hid in a cellar. The honorable member, I suppose, would take the same line of argument in regard to their display. Why should we hide the beauties of our Australian timber? I am delighted to have seen the splendid samples that are displayed in the Queen’s Hall, and, in my opinion, they should be sent to the United States of America to show that country that, at all events, our dark timbers, especially the figured blackwood, rival its beautiful light-coloured timber known as the bird’s eye maple. Mr. Speaker, in sanctioning the exhibition you have rendered a service, not only to members of Parliament, but also to every one who sees it, and I congratulate you on having acted wisely in the interests of an Australian industry.
– A few days ago I questioned the Prime Minister respecting the recommendation of the Public Works Committee, to delay the construction of lakes at Canberra. An informal meeting was recently held, at which representatives of both Houses of Parliament were present, and they were unanimous that the Public Works Committee, in making its recommendations, was committing a serious mistake. One has only to look at the plan of Canberra to see that the artificial lakes form one of the most attractive portions of the work.
– The whole design was based on the provision of artificial lakes.
– The site was undoubtedly selected, in the first place, for its facilities for beautification. We shall make a big mistake if we delay this work. At the opening of Parliament House, people will attend Canberra from all parts of Australia and abroad, and they will form their impression of the capital from that fleeting visit. Although £70,000 is involved in this work, it seems to me that the House should have an opportunity to discuss the subject before the report is finally adopted. The other day, the Prime Minister was good enough to advise me to take the usual procedure to bring this matter before the House. I have made inquiries from different sources, and I do not seem to get any further. I appeal to the Prime Minister to allow a debate and vote on this important subject.
– I compliment the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) on introducing this subject. T myself have asked several questions in this House regarding the artificial lakes at Canberra. The Public Works Committee has presented its report. It has been ordered to be printed, and that will be the end of the matter unless the Minister decides to authorize the work. The House should have an opportunity to decide whether this work should be delayed. An essential feature of the plan of the Federal city is the artificial lakes, and yet this work is to be delayed although thousands of pounds are being spent on other works there. I have no complaint against the Government, because it has been pushing on with the work of building the Capital. It desires that Canberra shall be an ideal city. I hope that Canberra will not be spoilt by the straggling river known as the Molonglo being allowed to remain as it is when it could easily be formed into a beautiful lake. Therefore, I urge the Prime Minister to give honorable members an opportunity to decide whether the work sh.all be proceeded with.
.– 1 hope that in the Federal Territory nothing will be done to alter the general course of the Mumimbidgee or of the Cotter River, so that the dignity of the Capital may be preserved.
– If the Territory is to be “ dry,” we shall not need the rivers.
– That aspect of the matter should also be considered. As has been said, everything should be done to make Canberra an ideal, if not a real, city. I hope that my view, as a Victorian one, will not be disregarded when further works in the Territory are being considered.
– I wish to inform the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), that, in conjunction with the President, I accept responsibility for the granting of permission for an exhibition of Australian timbers in the Queen’s Hall. The gentleman to whom this privilege was given is well known to members of the Federal Parliament. He has strenuously advocated the use of our beautiful and decorative Australian timbers in our public buildings, and his efforts have also been directed to the general fostering and encouraging of afforestation in Australia. The exhibition is not being made for personal gain or to influence votes on any matter to be discussed in either House. Objections have been made to the use of the Queen’s. Hall with a view to influencing the votes of honorable members, and permission has, on that account, been refused at times by. those iu authority.; but the practice is to permit exhibitions for the encouraging of the use of our natural products. In this instance we have followed precedent. I ask honorable members to inspect the exhibition, and to form their own opinions respecting the wisdom of my action.
Mr. BRUCE (Flinders- Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs) [3.58 1 . - The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) brought the subject of the artificial lakes at Canberra under my notice about a week ago. I then recommended him to follow the ordinary procedure for obtaining the discussion of matters of importance, and I now repeat that advice. His proper course is to give notice of a motion. If he does so, it will become necessary to consider whether an opportunity can be afforded for its discussion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 July 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260730_reps_10_114/>.