House of Representatives
9 October 1935

14th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hoa. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.


Mr. LYONS (Wilmot- Prime Minister) [3.0]. - by leave - I have just received advice of the death on the 4th October last, at Toowoomba, Queensland, of Mr. John Henry Lister, who represented the division of Corio in this House for a period of over twelve years. He was first elected at the general election in 1917, and held the seat until the general election in 1929.

The deceased gentleman was a member of the select committee which, in 1923, was appointed to inquire into the effects of the operation of the Navigation Act upon trade. He was also a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts from January, 1926, until September, 1928.

Although I was not a member of this House during Mr. Lister’s association with it, I know of the zeal with which he applied himself to his duties as the representative of the electors of Corio, who showed their confidence in him by returning him for such a long period.

It is appropriate that I should refer also to the deceased gentleman’s service overseas as a member of the Australian Imperial Forces during the Great War.

Knowing full well that this House will desire to express its appreciation of Mr. Lister’s services to the Commonwealth, and its sympathy with his widow and family, I move -

That this House expresses its regret at the death of Mr. John Henry Lister, a former member for the division of Corio, places on record its appreciation of his public services and tenders to his widow and family its deep sympathy in their bereavement.

Mr. CURTIN (Fremantle) [3.2].- I second with deep regret the motion that has , been moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyon.°). Honorable members who sit on this side of the House are distressed at what to them appears to be the unexpected death of Mr. Lister, whom they understood to be in the very best of health.

We recognize the public services which the deceased gentleman rendered to Australia. Those who sat opposite to him in this House were fully conscious of the zeal and industry which he devoted to the work that fell to his lot. They had many occasions to observe his high conception of what was due by him to this Parliament as one of its members. We share the sympathy which the Prime Minister has expressed with his widow, and deplore the passing of a man who has been a good son to Australia.

Mr. BEASLEY (West Sydney) [3.3].- I associate my colleagues and myself with the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). The news of the death of Mr.- Lister greatly shocked all of us who remembered his association with this Parliament.

The Prime Minister has mentioned the deceased gentleman’s war service. It is more than likely that the effects of that service hastened his passing from among us. We regret exceedingly his sudden death, and join in extending sympathy to his widow and relatives in their sorrow.

Dr. EARLE PAGE (Cowper- Minister for Commerce) [3.4]. - I associate the members of the Country party with the expressions of regret that have been voiced by the Leaders of the other parties in this House.

The death of Mr. Lister came as a very great shock to me, as only two months ago I met him in Toowoomba, and he was then apparently in the best of health. His death is further evidence of the toll that, is taken by public life in this country.

The deceased gentleman’s war service overseas probably contributed to his death at an early age.

During his association with this Parliament, Mr. Lister was distinguished by the vigour of his opinions and the conscientous manner in which he always discharged what he regarded as his duty.

Mr. CASEY (Corio- Treasurer) [3.5]. - I associate myself with the expression of regret at the sudden and unexpected death of Mr. Lister, who represented

Corio in this Parliament for a period of between twelve and thirteen years.

Although I did not have the privilege to know Mr. Lister at all well, I am fully aware of the high regard in which he was held throughout the electorate of Corio, and of the faithful and excellent service which he gave to that electorate. He had very many friends in Geelong and in the constituency generally, and will be remembered with gratitude and affection for his many personal acts of kindness. “With others who have spoken I had believed that the deceased gentleman had before him the prospect of a long and happy life when he ceased to be a member of this Parliament, and was shocked to learn that he was struck down at what ordinarily might be regarded as the middle period of a man’s career. I join in the motion of condolence with his widow and family.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

Motion by Mr. Lyons agreed to -

That Mr. Speaker bc requested to transmit to the widow of the late Mr. Lister, the foregoing resolution, and ti copy of the speeches delivered thereon.

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– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been drawn to criticisms by Sir MacPherson Robertson concerning the lack of efficient aerodromes in Australia? Has the honorable gentleman any comment to make, in view of the national importance of the matter ?

Minister for Defence · WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP

– Having noticed the criticism referred to by the honorable member relating to the nature of the aerodromes in Australia, I asked the Controller of Civil Aviation, who has but just recently returned from a visit to other parts of the world, for his views on the matter, and received the following information : -

Having recently inspected a large proportion of the aerodromes in America. Europe and on the imperial route to Australia, I can say, without hesitation, that the aerodromes in Australia considered as landing grounds are generally superior to those in any country visited during my tour. In fact I saw in America aerodromes in constant and frequent use by large transport aircraft which we would hesitate to license in this country. On the other hand the conveniences and facilities for passengers at the aerodromes in Australia do not compare with those provided in America and Europe where very large sums have been spent in the erection of palatial administrative buildings and hotels. There oan be no question that the Australian policy of spending limited funds available firstly on the essentials of a satisfactory landing ground, is sound, but action is now proposed to improve the facilities for passengers at our main aerodromes. The steps taken to ensure the safety of passengers by the provision of emergency landing grounds along the main air routes in Australia are without question more thorough than those taken in the same direction in any country visited during my tour. In America, the most highly developed country in this regard, the intermediate landing grounds are spaced at intervals from’ DO to 60 miles compared to the 15 mile spacing of landing grounds through unsuitable terrain in Australia. It must be remembered, however, that this close spacing of emergency fields was adopted when single-engined aircraft alonewere in use. With the advent of multipleengined aircraft on our main routes, it is notso necessary in future, to provide emergency grounds at such frequent intervals.

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– As statements werepublished in many sections of the press some time ago that the Government intended to introduce a bill to liberalizethe administration of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, and the bill has not yet been introduced, I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he will consider removing certain obvious anomaliesfrom the present law regarding the disallowance of pensions to ex-soldiers’ wivesand children?


– The Government is now considering the question of includingprovisions to remove anomalies in the bill to amend the Repatriation Act which will shortly be introduced. I shall consider whether amendments can be introduced to the section to which the honorablemember has directed attention.

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The following papers were presented -

Audit Act: - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council -

Financial year 1034.-35. River Murray Waters Act - River Murray

Commission - Report for year 1934-35. Seat of Government Acceptance Act and

Seat of Government (Administration) Act. - Ordinance of 1935 - No. lft - Companies- ( Liquidation ) .

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– In view of the vote cast at the League Council meeting yesterday by Australia’s delegate, is the Prime Minister prepared to indicate the commitments made on behalf of Australia in the event of the application of sanctions against Italy in its present dispute with Abyssinia?Will effect be given to those commitments and, if so, to what amount and extent will Australia be involved ?

Prime Minister · WILMOT, TASMANIA · UAP

– It is intended to resume the discussion early to-day on the motion dealing with the Italo- Abyssinian dispute, and the Minister who has the call from the Chair will outline the position.


– I ask the Minister for Defence whether it is a fact that the members of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve have been served with notices to hold themselves in readiness for service?


– I have no knowledge of anything of the kind having been done.


– Does the Prime Minister think that the stage now reached in the hostilities between Italy and Abyssinia calls for action regarding Australia’s memberbship of the League of Nations?


– Only a little while ago I answered a similar question asked by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr.Beasley). In any case, discussion on this subject will be resumed very shortly.

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– In view of the greatly increased production of barley in Australia, will the Minister for Commerce intimate whether arrangements have yet been made with Belgium to allow the entry of Australian barley into Belgium under satisfactory conditions to us? If not, will he indicate the present position of the negotiations?

Minister for Commerce · COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– Negotiations are now actively proceeding between the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) and the representatives of the Belgian Government.

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– I ask the Minis ter for Trade and Customs whether he is aware that very unfair competition exists at present in the retail grocery trade owing to the 2 per cent. price advantage enjoyed by the chain-store groups over all other retail grocers? If so. has the honorable gentleman taken any steps to remove this unfair advantage? If necessary will the Minister receive a deputation from honorable members with the object of discussing this anomaly?

Minister for Trade and Customs · BALACLAVA, VICTORIA · UAP

– I have already received a deputation from the retail grocers on the subject referred to by the honorable member, and also other matters relating to the sugar industry. The Prime Minister indicated last week that a bill would be introduced shortly to deal with the sugar agreement. I cannot forecast the contents of that measure.

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Second-hand Goods.


– Will the Treasurer inform me whether any refunds of sales tax on second-hand goods have been made in pursuance of the provisions of the Sales Tax Procedure Act, and if so, what amount has been so refunded?


– Certain refunds have been made. I have not seen the figures for the last month or six weeks, but I shall obtain the information the honorable member desires and supply it to him.

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– I ask the Minister for Commerce for information on the present position regarding the recommendation made to the Dairy Produce Export Control Board some time ago by a conference at which the Australian Dairy Council and other dairying organizations were represented, with the object of exporting Australian butter in the future under three registered brands instead of under882 brands as at present ?


– The Australian Dairy Council decided three or four months ago that Australian butter should, in the future, be exported under three brands and it recommended accordingly.


– I wish to know the present position in regard to that recommendation. Have any steps been taken to give effect to it?


– Before the recommendation is put into force it will be discussed by the Dairy Produce Export Control Board.

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– Is the Minister for the Interior in a position to make a statement regarding the negotiations with the Government of South Australia to reach an amicable agreement respecting the proposed construction of the Port Augusta to Red Hill railway? If not, can he say when he will be able to make a statement on the subject?

Minister for the Interior · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · CP

– I am not able to make a statement on the subject to-day, and it is difficult to say when I shall be able to do so.

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Report of Conference - Action by Commonwealth and State Governments.


– Can the Minister for Commerce inform me whether a full report was taken of the proceedings of the Wheat Conference held during the week-end and, if so, whether it will be made available to honorable members?


– Part of the proceedings were held in public and the record taken of those proceedings will be made available, but much of the deliberation of the conference was in committee and that part of the report will not be made available.


– Will the resolutions be made available?


– Yes.


– Can the Minister for Commerce inform the House whether the plan agreed to at the Conference in Canberra last Monday for the assistance of the wheat-growers, will be implemented by the Commonwealth and the States in time for the coming harvest, or will the flour taxbe re-enacted as a means of providing such assistance?


– One of the decisions of the conference was that officers in the Commonwealth Department of Commerce, and officers of the various State governments, should meet in an endeavour to expedite the preparation of legislation so that the scheme can be put into effect this year. It is. not yet known whether this can be done.

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– Is it the opinion of the Government that action should be taken to correct Australia’s unfavorable trade balance overseas as disclosed in the latest report of the Commonwealth Statistician ?


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– Will the Minister for Defence state whether, since the visit overseas of the Controller of Civil Aviation, any arrangements have been made for licensing American aircraft for service in Australia?


– No such arrangements have been made.

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– Is there any truth in the rumour that the Government intends to instruct the Australian Broadcasting Commission to discontinue the broadcasting of racing results?


– I have no knowledge of any such intention.

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– Last week I asked the Minister for the Interior a question regarding the dismissal of men working at Liverpool Military Camp, the suggestion being that they were put off from the Thursday before Easter until the following Monday, so as to avoid giving them holiday pay. The Minister replied that the men had finished the work upon which they were engaged, and that that was why they had been dismissed. In view of the fact that they were subsequently re-engaged, will the Minister make further inquiries in order to learn whether he was misinformed by the officers of his department?


– The men referred to were, 1 understand, engaged for periods of three weeks at a time, and they had completed their allotted period by the date on which they were dismissed. They then remained off until due for reengagement for another period. I have nothing to add to that explanation.

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– Has the Minister for Defence received any further information regarding the progress of investigations arising out of the recent disaster to the Tasmanian air mail plane ?


– Investigations are still proceeding, and everything possible is being done to discover the reason for the accident. The assistance of the Navy is being obtained iu an endeavour to locate additional wreckage, but it seems unlikely that any conclusive explanation will be found for the crash. However, in order to test the airworthiness of machines of the DHS6 type, a conference of experts has been arranged to assist in the investigation at present being conducted. It is proposed that a senior pilot and a senior ground engineer of Qantas Empire Airways, and of Holyman’s Airways, both of which companies operate DH86 machines, will attend the conference, and, in addition, there will attend the conference representatives of De Haviland Aircraft Proprietary Limited, manufacturers of the machines; “Wing-Commander Wackett, an aeronautical engineer with considerable experience; Mr. Leech and Mr. Rennie, lecturers in aeronautics at the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney respectively, whose knowledge may be helpful, and whose assistance may be required in the carrying out of tests; the Director of Technical Services, Royal Australian Air Force ; and a representative of the Air Accidents Committee. The bringing together of so representative a group of experts should satisfy the public that every possible step is being taken to determine beyond doubt the airworthiness of the DH86 type.


– In view of the number of accidents which have occurred recently involving passenger aeroplanes, will the Minister for Defence say whether, in his opinion, the Government should exercise stricter supervision to establish the airworthiness of all kinds of aircraft engaged in the carrying of passengers and mails?


– No possible precautions could be more thorough than those that have been taken in the past to test the airworthiness of machines used for passenger and mail services.

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– Will the Minister who was until recently in charge of war service homes, state how many persons were evicted from war service homes while he was in charge, and how many were prosecuted in the courts?

Minister without portfolio assisting the Minister for Repatriation · MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · CP

– I presume the honorable member has addressed his question to me. If he will ask the Minister now in charge of war service homes, he will be given full particulars.

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– The opportunity given to honorable members to ask questions without notice is to enable them to deal with matters requiring urgent attention. I have taken particular notice of the questions asked without notice to-day, and with the exception of about two, all of them_ could have been placed upon the notice-paper, and a fuller and more accurate reply furnished just one day later.

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Mr. SPEAKER announced having received letters from Lady Lewis and Mrs. Courtenay, thanking the House for its resolutions of sympathy in their bereavement.

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ESTIMATES 1935-1936

Additions, New Works, Buildings, etc.

In committee: Consideration resumed from 3rd October, 1935 (vide page 517).

Proposed vote - Parliament, ?950.

Upon which Mr. Forde had moved by way of amendment -

That the amount be reduced by fi.


.- It has been suggested that, during the construction of the weir at Yarrawonga, facilities should be provided for the transport of stock across the Murray, so as not to interfere with the general traffic over the bridge. I agree with the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen), that this is most desirable, not merely for the convenience of stock-owners, but also for the safety of the other traffic using the existing bridge. The interests of the travelling public should be considered, and the proper time to do this work is while the weir is under construction.

Next I wish to refer briefly to the delay occasioned in connexion with postal works. At the present time, the department is being run strictly on a business basis, and, although that policy is commendable, it should not be carried to such an extent as to become parsimonious. In some country districts, it is essential for the people to have both a convenient post office and a home for the postmaster. The town justifies it and in such localities where a suitable home is not available for the official, the department should consider the provision of a reasonably comfortable dwelling for him.

Minister for Defence · Warringah · UAP

– As Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral in this chamber, I am not in a position to give definite information offhand in reply to the questions raised concerning the administration of the Postal Department; but I have taken a note of the matters mentioned, and they will receive immediate consideration.

The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) spoke about the air services. The limited funds available for this purpose must perforce be spent on national airways, and airways necessary for defence. The money is so spent, but every assistance is rendered to other aerodromes by affording advice, or by giving any other assistance short of the contribution of funds. Where it can be established that aerodromes are of real national value, the department, of course, endeavours, as far as possible, to comply with requests for assistance. It is hoped that with the additional money to be provided under these Estimates, it will be possible to effect considerable improvements to aerodromes and air services generally.

The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) drew attention to the importance of Fishermen’s Bend as a site for a new airport for Melbourne. As the honorable member intimated, I endeavoured to persuade the Victorian Government that a great city like Melbourne, which is destined to be even greater in the future, requires more aerodrome facilities than it now possesses. The accommodation now provided at Essendon is needed, but to meet future requirements another aerodrome is essential., and I think that Fishermen’s Bend is specially suitable for the purpose. I have pointed out to the Victorian authorities that the Commonwealth Government has no desire to filch from them any land in their possession. I have said that they could control the proposed new airport, and erect it under their own supervision, subject to certain Commonwealth requirements; but, so far, our representations have Deen- of no avail. As was remarked by the honorable member for Flinders, a committee consisting of members of the Victorian Parliament has confirmed generally the views that I have expressed. I propose again to take the matter up with the Victorian Government, and endeavour to show that it would be of decided advantage to Victoria to have an additional airport established at Fishermen’s Bend.

Most of the other matters that have been raised can, I think, be dealt with by correspondence, ‘ and replies will be forwarded to the honorable members concerned.


.- The population of Magnetic Island is about 100, and it is steadily increasing, but the island is in urgent need of telephonic communication with Townsville. This work would involve the laying of a cable and a land-line. At the present time, the residents use motor launches when they require to communicate with the mainland. The department should make further inquiries into this matter with a view to improving the means of communication. The island is an important health resort, and large numbers of people in North Queensland would avail themselves of the facilities that it provides if a telephone service were installed.


.- Under the heading Federal Capital

Territory provision is made for expenditure out of revenue and loan fund, on architectural services, engineering services, sundry works and services, and loans for housing to a total amount of nearly £500,000. Included in that amount is the provision of £100,000 towards the cost of developmental work incidental to the transference of staffs to Canberra. I desire to know’ if it is proposed to utilize any of this money for the construction of the administrative building nearby, the foundations of which were laid some years ago. So far as I can see, it would be impossible to provide office accommodation for the large central staffs of the Department of Defence and the Postmaster-General’s Department until such time as this administrative building is completed. The foundations were laid at a cost of £60,000 or £70,000 some years ago from plans prepared by the late Sidney Jones, but since the building project was abandoned they have been exposed to the elements. I should like to know if it is proposed to test these foundations to ascertain if any deterioration has taken place. Along with other honorable members I desire to see this capital city progress, and I am glad to note that the Government intends to proceed with the transference of the central staffs to Canberra. In addition to providing housing and office accommodation for the staffs proposed to be transferred, as the result of the decision to re-establish theRoyal Military College at Duntroon, the Government is also faced with the necessity for providing housing accommodation for the people at present occupying military college properties. Although the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) has, on many occasions, reiterated his statement that it is his desire to transfer to Canberra at the earliest possible moment, all the central staffs, unless the administrative building or some other secretariat is provided it will be impossible to do so.

Minister for the Interior · Gippsland · CP

– Approximately £500,000 is being set aside for various works in the Federal Capital Territory. Of that amount £100,000 is for developmental work designed to enable the larger departments to be transferred to Canberra in due course. A start is being made by the provision of additional water supplies and sewerage mains. The whole of the £100,000 is for developmental work with the ultimate object of making provision for the removal of the central staffs of the departments now located in Melbourne. ft is not proposed to spend any of this money for the construction of office accommo-. dation on the foundations already laid; but before any work is proceeded with on the foundations, it is proposed to have them tested by taking out test cores in order to ascertain to what extent, if any, they need to be strengthened or improved. I can assure the honorable member that every effort is being made by the Government to enable the central staffs of the various departments to be brought to Canberra, and, as I have said, £100,000 of the £500,000 provided in the Works Estimate is to be used in preparation for this purpose.

Question - That the amount proposed to be reduced be so reduced (Mr. Forde’s amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)

AYES: 23

NOES: 31

Majority . . . . 8



Question so resolvedin the negative.

Amendment negatived.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Proposed votes - Prime Minister’s Department, £15,000; Department of the Treasurey, £3,860 ; Attorney-General’s Department, £4,525; Department of the Interior, £294,500; Department of Defence, £970,010; Department of Trade and Customs, £20,855; Department of Health, £25,110 ; Repatriation Department, £36,000 ; Department of Commerce, £26,670 ; Commonwealth Railways, £80,700 ; Postmaster-General’s Department, £1,650,000; Northern Territory, £50,000; Federal Capital Territory. £174,050- agreed to.

Motion (by Mr. Archdale Parkhill) agreed to -

That there be granted to His Majesty to the service of the year 1935-36, for the proposes of Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c, a sum not exceeding £3,352,230.

Resolution reported.

Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.

Resolution of Ways and Means, founded on resolution of Supply, reported and adopted.

page 548


Ordered -

That Mr. Archdale Parkhill and Mr. Casey do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.

Bill brought up by Mr. Archdale Parkhill and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.

page 548


Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed from the 23rd September (vide page 43), on motion by Mr. Lyons) -

That the paper be printed.

Upon which Mr. Beasley had moved, by way of amendment -

That all the words after the word “That” be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ this Parliament records grave concern, and its profound horror at the prospect of a second world war developing out of theconflict of Imperial trading interests, and expresses its unflinching determination not to allow Australia to become involved, under any circumstances, notwithstanding any decision recorded at the League of Nations Council.

It views with alarm the action of the British Admiralty in despatching H.M.A.S. Australia, with an Australian crew, to the war zone, and requests the immediate recall of that vessel to Australian waters under the direct control of the Federal Defence Department.

It formally declares the neutrality of Australia, and instructs the Government to take all necessary steps to preserve such neutrality.

It declares that it will not support the application of sanctions under Article 16 or contribute a quota of military, naval and air force strength to an armed force for such purposes, as such action would involve Australia in war “.

Minister for Commerce · Cowper · CP

– The matter before the House is obviously of the most far-reaching importance, and is causing grave anxiety throughout the world at the present time. It transcends in importance all other international issues, and until it is satisfactorily settled there can be no possible feeling of security. It has been said in some quarters that the Government did not clearly indicate its attitude. The Government considered that the position was so delicate that it should exercise great discretion by limiting its statements to the actual facts and circumstances. At the same time it declared its policy in no uncertain terms; that is, whole-hearted support of the British Government in its continued efforts to secure peace, and to maintain the principles of the League of Nations. There could be no clearer indication of policy than is given by those last words, because they have behind them the full knowledge and responsibility of the obligations underlying the Covenant of the League.

I would remind my honorable friends opposite that more harm may be done at the present time by saying too much than by saying too little. We have already seen how the remarks of the Government and of the Opposition have been closely followed in those parts of the world where the dispute is pivoting, and how they have already received various interpretations.

The statement of the Government did nothing to jeopardize the solid front displayed by the British Commonwealth of

Nations for an undeviating stand for the principles of the League. I fear, however, that the remarks of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) and the Leader of the New South “Wales Labour party (Mr. Beasley) have already caused much criticism and misunderstanding. In fact, they have been repudiated by the Labour parties of practically every country, and even by many sections of the Labour movement in A Australia.

The policy of the Labour party in every country has been that of adherence to the Covenant of the League and the prevention of so-called imperialistic wars by an aggressive and powerful nation against a weak and defenceless one. Yet, in the statements made by the leaders of the parties opposite we have not merely the negation, but also the very repudiation of everything for which Labour has stood in the field of foreign policy.

I gather that these gentlemen claimed that they were speaking on behalf of the Australian Labour party and the New South Wales Labour party. Although I give them credit for the honesty of their motives, I feel that their statements showed grave ignorance and lack of consideration.

Moreover, I seriously doubt that they represent the views of Labour in Australia, for many letters are being received daily by the Government from various Labour organizations, such as the Newcastle Coal-Trimmers; the Newcastle Trades Hall Council; the Central Council of Railway Shop Committee (Croydon Park, New South Wales) ; the Australian Coach-Makers Employees Federation (New South Wales Branch) ; the Hotel, Club, Restaurant, Caterers, Tea-room and Boarding House Employees Union of New South Wales; the United Labourers Protective Society, Wollongong, Port Kembla Branch, Wollongong; the Workers Industrial Union of Australia, Illawarra District, New South Wales; the United Trades and Labour Council of South Australia, Adelaide; the Chullora Signals Branch Shop Committee; the State Relief Workers and Unemployed Movement, Brisbane, Queensland ; and the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and joiners of Australia, New South Wales, forwarding resolutions calling on the Government to take every step, in cooperation with the British Government, to prevent aggressive war, to preserve peace, and even to impose full sanctions.

The acting secretary of the Trades Hall, Mr. D. Cameron, following on the meeting of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council on the 3rd October, is reported to have stated that the Labour movement would be prepared to enforce, where possible, financial and economic sanctions, as distinct from the sanctions provided for under article 16 of the Covenant. This indicates further confusion of thought, as those sanctions are part of article 16.

What, then are we really to believe is the policy of the Labour party? For example, the Labor Daily, of the 26th August, 1935, published the following statement : -

The economic and financial forces represented in the signatories to the pact were so representative of world economic force that by invoking the terms of Article XVI. of the League Covenant on September 4, there should be little difficulty in bringing sufficient pressure to bear upon Mussolini to desist.

Collective economic sanctions are the only possible answer to aggression. “I have always understood that the Labor Daily was supposed to represent the views of official Labour in New South Wales. On all sides there is evidence of divided opinion and contradictory statements, which have landed the party in an impossible position. In fact, the members of it are on the horns of a dilemma. They are against war, yet at the same time they are opposed to the only weapon which has so far been devised to prevent and limit war.

It is also reported that the Labour Government of Tasmania believes that Australia should stand by the League in any development arising out of the Abyssinian dispute, and that abandonment by Australia of the League’s obligations is unthinkable.

From the statements which have been made by honorable members opposite, their case appears to be based on two assumptions which, are not only fallacious, but also unjustified.

The first assumption is that the Commonwealth Government issued instructions to the Australian representative at Geneva, committing Australia “ up to the hilt “ in a war on behalf of so-called imperialistic interests. In fact, this is more than an assumption, as members of the Labour party, both inside and outside this House, have stated that such instructions were given. I say definitely on behalf of the Government that no such instructions have been given, as the questions of the invocation of sanotions, and possible conflict by other than the parties to the dispute, had not arisen when the views of the Commonwealth Government were conveyed to Mr. Bruce. This was clearly indicated in the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons).

The second wrong assumption is that Great Britain is to be involved in war, and that willy-nilly Australia will be dragged into it ‘by the -heels. The responsible spokesmen of Great Britain - I have in mind the Prime Minister, Mr. Baldwin, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Sir Samuel Hoare, and the Minister for League of Nations Affairs, Mr. Anthony Eden - have stated definitely and positively that there is no intention on the part of Great Britain to take any unilateral action in the matter of enforcing the provisions of the Covenant, that the responsibilities in connexion therewith are joint responsibilities, and that the burden must be borne by all. That is the whole meaning of the principle of collective security - to take such combined measures as will deter any aggressor from violating the independence or integrity of a weaker nation, and disturbing the peace of the world. Mr. Baldwin, in a speech which he made last Friday, reiterated this principle of joint responsibility, and declared that the British Government “ had never had any intention of taking isolated action in the dispute “.

Honorable members have doubtless read the British note just published in reply to the question of the French Government as to the attitude of the British Government towards the violation of the Covenant and resort to force in Europe by some European State.

The whole essence of British policy in relation not only to this dispute, but also to all acts of unprovoked aggression, is summarized in the portion of Mr. Baldwin’s speech which reads -

I further took opportunity in the course of ray speech at Geneva to repudiate any suggestion that the attitude of His Majesty’s Govern or. Earle Page. ment had been one of other than unwavering fidelity to the League and all that it stands for, and I drew attention to the fact that the recent response of public opinion in this country showed how completely the nation supported the Government in the full acceptance of the obligations of League membership which was oft proclaimed the keynote of their foreign policy. I added that to suggest’ or insinuate that this policy was for some reason peculiar to the Italian-Abyssinian conflict would be a complete misunderstanding. Nothing could in fact be further from the truth, I said, and I sincerely welcome this opportunity to repeat with full responsibility, that it is to the principles of the League and not to any particular manifestation thereof that the people of this country had demonstrated their adherence. Any other view would at once be an underestimate of British good faith and an imputation upon British sincerity. In conformity with its precise and explicit obligations, I pointed out, and I re-emphasize, that the League stands, and this country stands with it, for collective maintenance of the Covenant in its entirety and particularly for steady and collective resistance to all acts of unprovoked aggression.

Nothing could be more definite than that statement, which, moreover, is an answer to certain propaganda designed to create the impression that the dispute is an Italo-British quarrel over economic interests.

So that honorable members may appreciate, the present position, apart from the course of hostilities, which is fully reported in the press, I shall briefly summarize the information which the Government has received since the. Prime Minister made his statement.

On the 26th September the League Council received the report of the Conciliation Committee, and decided that a committee consisting of all members of the council except the parties to the dispute should commence forthwith the preparation of a report in accordance with paragraph 4, article 15 of the Covenant. It was made clear at the council meeting that this decision would not interfere with attempts to secure, by agreement, bases for negotiation, as conciliation could continue until the very last moment.

The invoking of article 15 meant that, the dispute not having been settled by direct negotiation, conciliation, or other means, the council would proceed to draw up a. report with recommendations. If this report was unanimously adopted, then a party to the dispute resorting to war would, under article 16, be ipso facto deemed to be an aggressor, and the .council would then consider what measures under article 16, relating to sanctions, should bo recommended to State members. If the report was not unanimously adopted, then a party must, to prevent its being deemed an aggressor, wait for at least three months before it resorted to war. Even at the end of this period, other State members could still interfere for the maintenance of right and justice. In any case, once a dispute is before the council, neither side can resort to war within a period of three months.

The outbreak of hostilities on the 2nd October, before this report had been presented, however, affected the normal procedure, and the council was then faced with the responsibility of deciding whether either of the parties had resorted to war in violation of its League obligations, in which case the operation of article 16 relating to sanctions would have to be considered.

The fact must not be overlooked, however, that article 16 does not automatically operate, as an interpretative resolution in October, 1921, provides for coordinated action recommended by the council, and not automatic or individual action. In the present dispute, as the Assembly had been convened for the 9th October, any contemplated action would be the result of agreement in the Assembly and not merely in the Council.

On the 5 th October, the report of the Council Committee was adopted. This report contained a full statement of the case without any concealment of facts. The Committee considered the view submitted by Italy, and, while, indicating that there was some substance in the charges against Abyssinia in regard to slavery and frontier raids, declared that those matters had not previously been brought under the notice of the League, in such a way that they could have been dealt with. Consequently, they could not be relied on as justification for aggressive action.

In view of the altered position brought about by the commencement of hostilities, the report made no recommendation, but laid down that the violation of the Covenant must be brought to an end.

The Italian representatives, in reporting on. the Italian advance, claimed that it was an answer to the Abyssinian mobilization which constituted a threat to I talian colonies. At the same -time, Abyssinia appealed for action by the League under article 16. As a consequence, the Council appointed a Committee of S5x to consider the facts and report whether a breach of the Covenant had been committed.

The report of the Committee of Six was presented to the Council on the morning of Monday, the 7th October, and, after quoting the official communiques showing the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, recorded that Members were not entitled, unless they had complied with the articles of the Covenant, to seek to remedy grievances by war. Measures of security taken by any State within its own borders did not absolve another from its obligations under the Covenant. Consequently, the Committee came to the conclusion that Italy had resorted to war in disregard of its solemn commitments under article 12 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.

The Council met on Monday afternoon to consider this report, and recorded a unanimous vote for its adoption, the parties to the dispute being excepted.

In the meantime, the 1935 General Assembly of the League, which, owing to the gravity of the international situation, was merely adjourned and not terminated, is called to meet again this afternoon, when the reports and decision of the Council in regard to the dispute will be communicated to State Members. Members will express their opinions, and probably a committee will be set up to recommend the measures to be taken for the application of the provisions of article 16 for any political and economic sanctions deemed to be practicable and effective. “What these recommendations will be, the Commonwealth Government does not know, and they will obviously depend on the extent to which League members are prepared to uphold the principles of the League Covenant. That in turn will depend on the attitude of some of the powerful League members towards coercive measures against the aggressor. It can he regarded as definite, however, that nothing will be proposed which will not have the full support of the

League members, or which may be regarded as likely to extend the area of hostilities or the number of participants. Beyond this statement, I feel it inadvisable to venture, as the dispute has reached a vital stage, and there is some ground for the hope that Italy may be satisfied with the vindication of Italian arms, and, after a consolidation of its present position, may he prepared to negotiate for a reasonable settlement, involving concessions on both sides.

Having dealt generally with the present position, I shall comment on one or two matters specifically raised by the amendment. I notice, for example, that the Leader of the New South Wales Labour party stated that a committee set up at Geneva to report on the application of sanctions had reported that the League Covenant is a mass of hopeless inconsistencies and contradictions, and that it would be impossible to apply sanctions of an economic and financial character. No such report was made to the League, as this committee, known as the Committee of Thirteen, is still in session, and some of its sub-committees will not present their reports until the 30th November of this year. It is thus obviously impossible for the main report of the committee to have been yet presented.

Certain views were expressed about the massing of the British Fleet in the Mediterranean and a demand was made for the recall of the Australia. There is no need for me to remind honorable members that the preservation of our trade routes and the safety of the Suez Canal are of paramount importance to this country - probably more so than to any other on account of the necessity to ensure that our products shall reach their main markets. A very few figures will show the value of the Australian trade which passes through the Suez Canal. Last year, 1,995,000 bales of our wool, or 95 per cent, of our exports, and 989,000 tons, or more than 90 per cent, of our total refrigerated cargo were shipped by this route. Surely it is only a matter of common sense and natural precaution that when there is any possibility of the present conflagration extending, Great Britain should take all reasonable measures to ensure the preservation of our imperial arteries. Despite the views of certain honorable gentlemen opposite, even Signor Mussolini and his Government have accepted the British assurances as to the good faith of the naval precautionary steps being taken in the Mediterranean.

The efficacy of the League has also been questioned, especially in connexion with the Chaco and the Manchurian disputes. As to the former, I remind honorable members that the dispute had persisted for almost half a century. Each nation was positive that it was right, and each was determined to fight. When such a position arises no league nor any other human organization can prevent a conflict, but it was largely due to the intervention of the League that hostilities were terminated. Conditions for a stable and lasting peace are now being arranged.

Blame was attributed to the League on account of the Japanese action in Manchuria, but I cannot see how the League could have done more than it did. The report condemning the action taken was adopted unanimously, and the moral censure therein conveyed has been implemented by the refusal of all the members of the League to recognize the independence of Manchukuo, and this nonrecognition still obtains.

No one will deny that the League has not had failures; but it has had many striking successes. I need only mention the efficacy of League methods in the recent dispute between Yugoslavia and Hungary over the assassination of King Alexander at Marseilles; the arrangements for the Saar Plebiscite and the transfer of the Saar to Germany; and the 47 judgments and opinions of the Permanent Court of International Justice, which have disposed of various international disputes, apart from the social and humanitarian activities in which the League is engaged. All these highly important and essential activities require some authoritative central machinery to ensure the smooth and effective cooperation of the nations of the world, a;.d I can conceive of no organization other than the League capable of carrying out matters so essential to the maintenance of international peace and goodwill.

But the present is not the time to review what the League has done. The question is: What is the League going to do in the present dispute? Some honorable members may think the dispute is no concern of ours, but such a dispute, which may precipitate a general conflagration if not soon settled, is of vital concern to Australia and the whole world. Chat is why no effort should be spared to terminate hostilities and settle this particular dispute on reasonable lines. It is also a reason why there should be unanimity by all political parties and all members of the League in support of League principles. Despite what its detractors may say, the League of Nations is the best instrument mankind has yet devised to preserve peace, and to exercise some measure of control and restraint even when peace is threatened or temporarily destroyed, as at present.

Since the Great War, Great Britain - supported by Australia - has sought to preserve and secure world peace by loyal and unswerving support to the League of Nations, by participation in certain instruments for collective security, and by the initiation of a policy of reduction and limitation of armaments. Never has British prestige stood so high in the world as at present. It is the one nation which is regarded by all the small and weak nations at least, as the repository of their hopes for security, and as being completely disinterested in all the peace efforts built up so laboriously within the framework of the League during the lastfifteen years.

At present, when it is so essential for all League members to present a united front in the interests of general peace and to support Great Britain, the Labour party would have Australia withdraw from participation. Nothing, in my opinion, would he more damaging to the name of Australia, or to the cause of peace. Such a doctrine fundamentally impairs the authority and value of the League, strikes a blow at the principle of collective security, and encourages any powerful and ruthless nation deliberately to plan a policy of military aggression against a weak and defenceless one.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. .Forde) stated that two other British dominions had declared their opposition to any participation in the quarrel. Thai is quite incorrect, for all the dominions declared at the recent Assembly meeting at Geneva that they were unanimously with Great Britain in adherence to the principles of the Covenant. The Irish Free State went further, and made an emphatic declaration that it would UBe all its efforts to enforce collective security.

I feel that there is little doubt that the overwhelming majority of Australians are in sympathy with the policy enunciated by the Government in support of the League in common with Great Britain and the rest of the Empire, and now indicated to the world by its recorded vote at Geneva. The Council, by its unanimous decision, has given a lead to all the individual members of the League, and it has renewed hope in a world anxious for the maintenance of right and justice.

It is unthinkable that State Members of the League should now repudiate their obligations, for that would mean the end of the collective system, the complete failure of the League as a political force, the substitution of the law of the jungle for the rule of law, and the enthronement of the doctrine of might over right.

I cannot but feel that the honorable members opposite were sincere in their motives in framing their statement, but I believe they were misguided and took a very shortsighted and narrow view. “We are all in accord in our detestation of the horrors of war, and are of one mind as to the need to exert every endeavour to prevent, not only Australia, but all other countries as well from again being embroiled in war. The methods proposed in the statement of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and set out in the amendment would not only nullify the present efforts to effect a settlement and confine the dispute to the narrowest possible limits, but would also amount to a deliberate repudiation of our obligations and of the peace structure built up for the collective security of mankind.

East Sydney

.- No one will be impressed by the carefully prepared and considered statement just delivered by the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page). The right honorable member commenced his remarks by making certain references to what he termed a difference of opinion in the ranks of Labour regarding the policy that should be pursued on this occasion. I remind him that the alliance made by certain bodies in this country which previously claimed to be working class organizations with this Government in pursuing its war policy is an alliance not with what we might term a Labour organization, but rather with an organization which has opposed Labour in the past, and has also opposed the present anti-Labour Government. I hold in my hand a copy of a letter written on behalf of this organization which this Government previously considered to be an unlawful body and against which it had proposed to take certain action. The officer concerned has requested the Government to take certain action ito see that the will of the League of Nations is imposed upon the combatant nations. One paragraph from the letter forwarded to the Prime Minister by the National Council Against “War and Fascism, asks -

That the British Government take all measures necessary to urge the League of Nations to impose its will on Italian imperialism for the purpose of guaranteeing the complete sovereignty of Abyssinia.

The signature to the letter is as follows : -

For UNITY and SUCCESS in this hour of danger and gravity.

Yours fraternally. (Signed) W. H. Nugent for the National Council.

The letter was addressed to the Right Honorable J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister of Australia. Whatever might be the present relations of the Government with this body, I understand that in the past it has been considered by the Government to be a subsidiary of the Communist party.

It has been made clear in the course of many debates in this chamber that the Government is not following a policy which we determine here. The Prime Minister has awaited instructions from overseas before he would permit any statement to be made on behalf of his Government. We all remember certain circumstances in connexion with our proceedings last week. The Prime Minister undoubtedly was prepared to go so far as to break a promise that he had given to honorable members that this subject would be discussed on Tuesday last, or certainly not later than Wednes- day, and he then allowed obstructive measures to be used by government members to prevent the promised discussion from taking place. We were amazed to discover that, although hostilities had actually commenced on the 2nd October, the Government deliberately prevented any discussion of the subject on the preceding day. The danger to the people of this country is that the present Government, with its Imperialistic outlook, does not believe that the representatives of the Australian people in this Parliament are entitled to determine the policy of this country here. It rather believes that the only policy the Commonwealth Government should pursue is that which is in accordance with instructions received from the British Imperialistic Government. If misleading statements have been made by any one, the charge does not lie against the Leader of the New South Wales Labour party (Mr. Beasley), who made it plain that, in no circumstances, would the party be led to lend itself to the support of another armed conflict overseas. The Prime Minister, however, speaking for the Government, was not nearly so clear or explicit. He said that he had given a guarantee to the British Government that the Government and the people of Australia would support Great Britain “ up to the hilt,” so long as its attitude towards peace remained the same. It was not only members of the Labour party who failed to understand the actual meaning of that statement; other sections of the community were also mystified. Members of this Parliament received circulars the other day containing copies of a leading article published in The Church Standard, taking the Prime Minister to task for not having clearly defined Australia’s attitude.

Some honorable members opposite have stated that, if Great Britain were to declare war, Australia would automatically be at war also. That position is not accepted by members of the Labour party, nor is it accepted by the governments of the other dominions ; and any one who makes such a. statement does so either in ignorance of the constitutional advances recently made in regard to the relations of Great Britain and the dominions, or with the deliberate intention of deceiving the people. The Imperial War Conference of 1917 recognized that the dominions in future were not to be led blindly into conflicts because of action taken by Great Britain, and for the first time it was laid down that .they were entitled to some say in determining foreign policy. The dominions were not consulted in 1914 prior to the declaration of war, but the representatives of some of the dominions at least were determined in 1917 that a similar situation should not arise in the future, and it was resolved that the future organization of the Empire was to be based upon the principle of equality of nationhood. If that means anything at all, it means that the Parliament of this country should have full power to determine, in such an issue as that which now confronts us, what assistance, if any, Australia shall lend to Great Britain, and whether or not it shall become a participant in an armed conflict. This principle was fully recognized by the then Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Robert Borden, who, speaking to members of the British Empire Parliamentary Association on the 21st June, 1918, said -

Wc meet here as Prime Ministers of selfgoverning nations. But we have always lacked the full status of nationhood, because you exercised here so-called trusteeship, under which you undertook to deal with foreign nations on our behalf, and sometimes without consulting us very much. Well, that day has gone by.

In order to realize that this principle has now become fairly generally recognized among the dominions, we have only to recall the occurrences of 1922, when Great Britain was endeavouring to maintain her control of the Dardanelles. At that time, a small British force was confronted at a place called Chanak by a large Turkish force, and the Government of Great Britain was seriously considering embarking upon a war with Turkey in order to hold what it had won during the war just concluded. Feelers were sent out to the dominions in order to ascertain what support might be forthcoming in the event of hostilities being re-opened, but the response was so unsatisfactory from Britain’s point of view that the Government of Great Britain decided, rather than go to war without the help of the dominions, that it would be better to make what terms were possible. Therefore, the Treaty of Lausanne was drawn up, and war was prevented because the dominions were not prepared blindly to follow the lead of the Imperial Government.

The national status of the dominions is now recognized by other nations. When the Locarno Pact was entered into by Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, and Italy, the British dominions were, by article 9, specifically absolved from any responsibility for upholding the terms of the pact, should Great Britain be involved in hostilities in its defence.

The other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations are not rushing so enthusiastically to Britain’s support in the present crisis as is Australia, and none of them has declared that it will support “ up to the hilt “ the policy of the British imperialists. The Prime Minister of Canada^ speaking on the 8th September last, said -

Canada will not be embroiled in any foreign quarrel in which the rights of Canadians are not involved. We have bought and paid for security and peace, and we mean to have them.

The Prime Minister of South Africa said -

No son of South Africa will fire a shot without the people being consulted.

Those are clear and unequivocal statements regarding the attitude of those two countries. On the other hand, the Prime Minister of Australia is not prepared to indicate to the people exactly what our position would be in the event of Great Britain entering the conflict. In order to understand that the Government is using its position to mislead the people in regard to what they have been committed to, it is only necessary to recall that a few days ago, when the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Gander) asked whether there existed constitutional power for the introduction of conscription, and whether it could be imposed on the country without the consent of the people, the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), who rose to answer the question, evaded it altogether, and made a reply which left honorable members just, as much in the clark as they were before. This should be sufficient proof to the people that, if Australia became involved in hostilities in support of Great Britain, the manhood of Australia would be conscripted without their having any say in the matter at all. If honorable members opposite were sincere in their statements that they desire to preserve peace, they would call the Government to task for its failure to ratify the Statute of Westminster. Had that been done, the Parliament of this country would now be equal in every respect to the Parliament of Great Britain. However, so long as imperialist interests remain paramount, Australia will always be in clanger of being dragged into conflicts with other nations. British interests are so widespread - indeed, it is boasted that on the British Empire the sun never sets - that hardly anything can happen anywhere without having some effect upon British investments. When I speak of British interests I really mean the interests of British imperialists and British capitalists. If those interests are encroached upon by other nations, the capitalists and imperialists will, if the people are foolish enough to follow their lead, plunge the country into war for the preservation of their distant property. Therefore, when Australia permits the Government of Great Britain to determine its foreign policy, it is allowing itself to be committed to almost continual conflict with the other imperialist nations of the world.

Many people are asking what the present war is all about, and why it should be any concern of Australia, olof the British Commonwealth of Nations. Great Britain, France and Russia, who are the mainstay of the League of Nations to-day, have indulged in much talk about preserving the independence of Abyssinia, and allowing native races to work out their own destiny. In this respect, France and Britain, at any rate, would do well to examine their own consciences. The area of Africa is approximately 11,500,000 square miles, and the greater part of the continent has been parcelled out among the imperialist nations of Europe. France controls just under 4,000,000 square miles, with a population of 35,500,000, while Great Britain has possession of approximately 3,500,000 square miles, with a population of 4S,000,000. Therefore, if Great Britain and France were sincerely desirous of preserving the independence of native races, they could give a lead to the world by allowing those native races under their own control to work out their own destinies. As a matter of fact, the only independent countries in Africa are Ethiopia, with an area of 350,000 square miles, and a population of about 10,000,000, and Liberia, on the west coast, with an area of 45,000 square miles, and a population of 1,750,000. Abyssinian independence is not an issue in the present crisis, because, no matter what may be the result of the present conflict, the independence of that country has gone. If the group of nations led by Britain and France is successful in its diplomacy, Abyssinia will come under the influence of those nations; if Italy succeeds in its military undertaking, theindependence of Abyssinia will likewise be lost. The truth is that the independence of Abyssinia was lost from the moment when it was first discovered that the country was rich in oil and minerals.

Considering the activities of various governments in the last two or three years, it may be said that the present situation was not sprung suddenly upon either Britain or France. It was long contemplated. Owing to information obtained as the result of secret diplomacy, Great Britain realized that there was every possibility of its imperialistic interests being encroached upon, and of the necessity for it again to go to Avar. Britain never desires to fight a lone battle; it likes to be assured of sufficient allies to guarantee its success. It wants to be certain that, no matter what the cost may be to the various members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, these will blindly follow it, and allow British diplomatists to decide when war shall be waged, and when peace shall be declared. This policy accounts for the visits to Australia of Sir Maurice Hankey, Lord Milne and Lord Sempill. Prior to the last war this country was visited by Admiral Henderson, Lord Kitchener and Sir Ian Hamilton. Sir Maurice Hankey happens to be secretary of the Imperial Defence Committee, and it is remarkable that this committee should have been resuscitated just after his return to Great Britain and his consultation with Senator Sir George

Pearce, then Minister for Defence, and the defence authorities in New Zealand. Although the visitors were supposed to have consulted only on matters relating to the defence of Australia, this Parliament has never had a report regarding what transpired at their conferences.

What is wrong, it may be asked, with the Covenant of the League of Nations? Like the present Government and its election speeches, the League of Nations has a covenant intended merely for outward show. The nations who dominate and control the League have never yet adhered to the Covenant. The League was established and brought into being by the successful nations in the last war, who were anxious, by co-operation, to prevent the vanquished nations from ever being able to recover the spoils of that victory. So- each imperialistic nation, as it found that the League suited its purpose, was prepared to join it. But immediately the objects of the League ceased to suit its purpose, it decided to withdraw. A number of important nations have failed to become members of the League. The United States of America, which was one of the prime movers in the negotiations for its establishment, has never become a member. Japan formerly belonged to the League, but, like Germany, as soon as it found that the League did not suit its purpose, withdrew its support. The Soviet Republic, which roundly condemned the League at its inception, has become a member only recently. I do not blame the Russians for their tactics, for I think that, as diplomats, they have outwitted the other nations. Russia found that when Germany withdrew it had to attach itself to one of the groups of nations, because isolation would probably have meant its destruction, so Russia became a member of the League.

It must be remembered that Italy has been engaged in previous conflicts in Abyssinia. Italy assisted the former Emperor, Menelik, to obtain the throne of Abyssinia, and then went to war with him in an effort to bring about his defeat. On that occasion Britain did not interfere. As a matter of fact in 1906 Britain, Prance and Italy entered into an agreement to preserve one another’s interests. The Abyssinians were not con sulted then, nor are their views considered by the imperialist nations to be of any consequence on this occasion. Representatives of Great Britain, France and Italy met in Paris on the 16th August last. It is understood that Baron Aloisi made certain suggestions as a basis for negotiations, the most important of these being that the United Kingdom and France should recognize Italian economic and political preponderance in Abyssinia. Great Britain and France, while willing to recognize Italy’s economic interests in Abyssinia, did not agree to Italy’s political preponderance, which doubtless would have involved the annexation of a large portion of Abyssinia, and a measure of control over the remainder. So long as Italy was prepared to take only such territory as would not conflict with the interests of Britain and France, those countries regarded the matter as no concern of theirs at all. Senator Sir George Pearce, on the 23rd September last, said -

The Minister for League of Nations Affairs (Mr. Eden) was sent to Rome to sound Signor Mussolini on the proposal that Great Britain might be prepared to cede to Abyssinia the port of Zeila and a narrow quarter through British Somaliland on condition that Abyssinia made certain territorial and economic concessions to Italy.

If Mussolini had agreed to that, Abyssinia would have been compelled to do it because it could not stand against the combined imperialistic powers.

Those who say to-day that we must oppose Italy in this struggle, and impose sanctions in order to prevent it from continuing the conflict, realize that Labour organizations are desirous of preventing the spread of fascism. The Commonwealth Government, speaking for itself and the British Government on many occasions, has welcomed and supported fascism. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), whilst abroad, had an interview with Mussolini, and spoke in Australia in glowing terms of what was being achieved there by fascism. Now we find a peculiar and powerful alliance between the National Council Against War and fascism and the fascist movement, which is said to have been brought into existence to resist the propaganda of communism. The Government says that, in order to bring about the defeat of Italy, all political parties in the community must join forces, yet Mussolini could not have succeeded, and fascism could not have been established on such strong foundations as it has in Italy but for British financial support. This assistance has relieved Italy of 78 per cent, of the debt incurred by it in the last war, thus making fascism possible in Italy, and keeping Mussolini in office.

To show the inconsistency of Britain, I may say that it broke the Covenant of the League itself, because it entered into an agreement with Germany, under which that power was to bring its naval strength to 35 per cent, of that of the British Navy. It is definitely laid down in the Covenant of the League that no nation shall enter into a separate agreement with a nation outside the League, and that the terms of any proposed agreement must first be placed before the League, which shall decide whether the Covenant has been violated. We find that the 35 per cent, arrangement means that the German Navy will be practically equal to the British Navy in the North Sea and superior to any navy in the Baltic, because the proportion agreed to means 35 per cent, of the total tonnage of that navy throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations. Yet Britain was prepared to enter into that agreement, which was signed on the 18th June last, in direct defiance of the Covenant of the League. What was clone against Britain when it broke the Covenant? Did the League apply sanctions or even consider the matter? The reason it did not do so is that it is not a league of nations in the correct sense of the term. It is a league composed of some nations dominated by the imperialistic interests of Great Britain and France.

Reference was made by the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) to the position of China when Japan seized four provinces of that country by the use of armed forces. The League had many conferences and appointed many committees to decide which was then the aggressor nation. The League even thought that Japan was the aggressor.

But what happened? Were sanctions applied against Japan ? They were never even mentioned. To show the inconsistency of the Commonwealth Government, in regard to the Covenant of the League, instead of talking about applying sanctions, it sent Sir John Latham, then a member of this Parliament, to Japan to act as a goodwill missionary, and to encourage trade between Australia and a nation which had violated the Covenant of the League, although at the same time Australia remained a member of the League and expressed a desire to uphold the Covenant. The reason Britain did not desire sanctions to be applied against Japan, was that British diplomats realized that Britain might need Japan in some future conflict with the United States of America, should British interests come into conflict with those of that country.

The Minister made reference to a statement by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), the leader of the party to which I belong, in regard to the committee appointed to consider the application of sanctions. He spoke of a committee of thirteen which had not yet arrived at its finding. But the committee referred to by the honorable member for West Sydney was one appointed by the League of Nations following the violation of the Covenant by Germany, when it decided to rearm. That committee found that it w-ould be impossible to apply sanctions of an economic and financial character. Article 16 of the Covenant of the League is so worded that it shall apply, not only to member nations, but also to non-member nations. If it were decided to apply sanctions to the nations regarded as aggressors, it would mean that, in order to make them effective, Italy would have to be blockaded, and that would involve blockading a nation armed to the teeth in an attempt to prevent supplies reaching it from both member and non-member nations. If Britain interfered with supplies being sent to Italy from the United States of America, it would find itself involved in a world war. Why were no sanctions applied against Germany when it broke the Treaty of Versailles? It is because, since the last war, the United States of America has invested millions in Germany, and if sanctions had been applied against Germany, the interests of American capitalists would have suffered.

I remember reading a recent statement by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who regretted Australia’s small population, and the fact that the birth rate has fallen considerably in the past few years. Yet this right honorable gentleman, who says that if we desire to hold Australia we must increase its population, is prepared to send hundreds of thousands of our men overseas to participate in warlike operations, and thus further deplete the population. Australia should not be called upon to pay the price that participation in such a conflict would involve. If the workers wish to do any fighting, they have means of deciding that point among themselves. Talk about the abolition of slavery in Abyssinia, what of the dole workers on 6s. 6d. a week or a few shillings extra if they have to maintain dependants; what have they to say if they are told that it is necessary to go thousands of miles overseas to fight for the abolition of slavery in some other country? Their view is that of the Labour representatives in this Parliament - if there is to be any fighting to abolish slavery, let it be in this country. There is any amount of it required here. If the workers want to apply economic sanctions to prevent war, they can do what was done in Great Britain in 1920, when the British workers ended the intervention of the armed forces of Imperial Britain against the Russian workers by refusing to load or man transports taking men and supplies to the war zone. I am not in favour of sending materials and supplies to any combatant nation. But the Government does not rest content with saying that Australia shall not supply materials to combatant nations. It says that it will also take steps to prevent anybody else doing so. It is this attitude which will bring us into conflict with other nations. The only way to prevent war, is not by the League of Nations composed of imperialistic interests meeting together and conferring in order to consolidate against competition and preserve their gains through previous conflicts, hut by the workers themselves applying sanctions - refusing to man ships and refusing to convey materials overseas intended for the use of combatant nations.


– The honorable member’s time has expired.

Darling Downs

– In this debate honorable members are called upon to deal with a matter of a very far-reaching character affecting the interests of Australia as a nation. One feels a deep sense of responsibility in dealing with a question of such importance. Last week the issue before the League of Nations was whether it was possible to bring two members of the League into agreement to prevent the outbreak of war, and to arrange for the settlement of their dispute upon terms which were equitable and just. To-day, now that war has broken out, the issue has advanced a stage further; and thu question before the League is by what means the continuance of the conflict can be prevented while at the same time ensuring an equitable settlement of the differences of the parties concerned. As a member of the League of Nations, Australia has to face that position. In becoming a member of the League Australia accepted all the obligations that go with membership of that body. It bound itself by the term? of the Covenant of the League. It participated in the constitution of a permanent court of international justice in order that there might be developed a system of international law binding upon all the nations of the world. It has recently accepted membership on the Council of the League of Nations, thereby taking upon itself the responsibility from which it cannot escape, of deciding issues affecting the members of the League, that come before it. It has also accepted a mandate for the discharge of which it must answer to the League. In addition it has participated in the activities of the League on the social and humanitarian side, and in the setting up of the International Labour Office and attending conferences. In common with other members of the League, Australia is called upon to accept the full responsibility which membership of that body entails. The test is now being applied to us. After having assumed Australian nationhood and claiming membership of the Commonwealth of Nations, is Australia prepared to stand up to its responsibilities as a part of the British Empire and honour its obligations as a member of the League? But a still more serious obligation rests upon the Commonweatlh of Australia. By signing the Covenant Australia declared that it stood for the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another. Furthermore it accepted the principle that when other nations sought to become members of the League they would not be admitted unless they were prepared to abide by the Covenant and give effective guarantees of their sincere intention to observe their international obligations. The obligation to honour all treaties is the first duty resting upon those who signed the Covenant and that principle lies at the bottom of the treaty of the Covenant of the League of Nations. It even goes further. A perusal of the registration of treaties under the League of Nations up to October, 1933, discloses that 3,277 treaties have been entered into between members of the League, and those registered with the League comprise treaties relating to the acceptance of the provisions of the permanent court of international justice, treaties relating to arbitration, treaties affecting trade and commerce and others respecting international relationships. The whole basic worth of these treaties affecting international relationships is the fact that all nations agree to honour them. If that principle did not exist, it would be impossible to have international order throughout the civilized world. The honorable and scrupulous observance of treaties is the principle underlying the conception of the League of Nations and the basis of international order.

Because it has always been the policy of the British nation to honour its obligations and its treaties Great Britain to-day is standing by the League. That principle is as strong in Australia to-day as in any other part of the Empire. We, by our actions, have held ourselves up to the world as willing to uphold the Covenant. We have joined the League of Nations in an attempt to do our part to bring international order throughout the world. The application of the principles of international law throughout the world has only been made possible by the comity of nations. It is inconceivable that we should lag behind when the exercise of our rights and duties as a member of the League is rendered necessary by our participation in the Covenant. That is the way in which Australia should approach the consideration of the present dispute.

It has been said that Australia is not interested in the present dispute ; that it i= no concern of ours and that we should take up an attitude of neutrality or nonparticipation. But Australia has advanced far beyond that stage. It cannot take up an attitude of isolation from the rest of the world. As a nation it must realize its international relationships and live up the principle of the League of Nations. As for the declaration that although a war is taking place between two members of the League, Australia as a member of the League, should not be concerned, the Covenant of the League lays down definitely that “ any war or threat of war whether immediately affecting any members of the League of Nations or not is hereby declared a matter of concern to the whole of the League “. Further, it is also declared in the same article of the Covenant that it is the friendly right of any member of the League to bring under the attention of the Assembly or the Council any circumstances whatever affecting international relations which threaten to disturb international peace or the good understanding between nations upon which peace depends. That is a recognized principle. War in any part of the world is therefore a matter of concern to the rest of the world. Obviously it must be so. When we consider that we have entered into a Covenant, the object of which is to renounce war as an instrument of policy, and to endeavour to get the nations of the world to abandon that barbaric method of settling a dispute by force of arms instead of by justice and right, Australia’s acceptance of its obligations is inescapable. When all nations have entered into the Covenant and two parties to the Covenant are in conflict with each other. can it be said that that is a matter of no concern to Australia? We know, too, that in several minor disputes had it not been for the action of the League of Nations in bringing about a settlement, more serious consequences might have resulted and the disputes may have been far reaching in their effects. It is to the interest of those who desire to see permanent peace in the world to be concerned in the present dispute. As a member of the League and through its instrumentality, we should endeavour to secure peace and justice and fair dealing ‘between the nations in conflict, lt is idle to say that this is a matter outside the interest of Australia. Is it not Australia’s concern as a nation which accepted the Covenant, being anxious to join with other nations in doing away with the horrors of war. At that time Australia was animated by a desire to secure the settlement of international disputes by arbitration and conciliation or by judicial settlement in the permanent court of international justice. That is still the objective of Australia, and that is why it will stand behind the League. As a matter of fact those ideals are to-day practical obligations embodied in a legal agreement into which we have entered. Already 30 disputes of an international character have been placed before the League for settlement, 20 of which came before the Council as the result of action taken under article 11 of the Covenant. The League has certainly had failures as anything created by human beings is bound to have failures; but upon the whole, its efforts in noteworthy instances have been successful. It cannot be asserted that because there have been failures in carrying out these high ideals, we should abandon them altogether. In the present dispute, we should not be guided by those who condemn the League for its failures.

How has Great Britain approached the present dispute? Let us consider Great Britains’s membership of the League from its commencement in 1921, and what has been its attitude up to the present date. From the inception of the League governments of Great Britain have unswervingly stood up to its obligations as a member, never once seeking to take advantage of its membership for material gain or unworthy objects. It went so far as to. accept the principle of the compulsory clauses of the Permanent Court of International Justice. When it accepted that provision of the statute of the court, which Australia also agreed to, Great Britain put itself into this position, that no matter what the question of the interpretation of a treaty or international law might be, it would accept the judgment of that court of fifteen judges, and abide by its decisions. It accepted decisions based upon the principles of justice, and the rule of law, and placed no reliance on its strength as a nation. The smallest nation could invoke the court’s judgment. No matter what party has been in power in Britain, support of the League has been a foremost matter of policy.

When I attended the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1924, I was left with no doubt as to the earnestness of the then Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald), or the then Foreign Secretary (Mr. Henderson) as to their support of the League. That policy of supporting the League is observed by Britain to-day. In the White Paper on defence placed before the British House of Commons last March, the policy of the British Government was set out thus -

The establishment of peace on a permanent footing is the principal aim of British foreign policy. The first and strongest defence of the peoples, territories, cities, overseas trade, and communications of the British Empire is provided by the maintenance of peace. If war can be banished from the world, these vast and world-wide interests will remain free from the dangers of attack, and the great work of civilization and trade will proceed unhampered by the fears that have hindered their progress from the earliest recorded times until to-day. That is why every British Government is bound to use its utmost endeavours to maintain peace.

In recent years the chief methods of the Government of the United Kingdom to pursue the establishment of such peace have been -

  1. By unswerving support of the League of Nations, which His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom regard as essential machinery for promoting the preservation of peace by facilitating and regularizing the means of international co-operation.
  2. By the promotion, in co-operation with other nations, of international instruments designed to produce collective security and a sense of security among the nations. Among the more important mav be mentioned - («) The Briand-Kellogg Pact of 1028 for the renunciation of every signatory of war as an instrument of policy.

    1. The Quadruple Pacific Treaty and the Nine-Power Treaty regarding the Far East, both designed to promote peace in that area and in the Pacific.
    1. The Locarno Treaties, designed, by a system of mutual guarantee, to maintain the peace in those countries of Western Europe, to the situation of which this country has never and can never be indifferent.
    2. Various proposals for increasing security in Eastern Europe and the Danube Basin with special reference to the maintenance of the independence and integrity of Australia. These involve no military commitments, direct or indirect, by this country.
  3. By efforts to promote international understanding in general, and in particular to bring back into the community of nations all the countries which have been enemies in the last war.
  4. The reduction and limitation of international armaments in order to promote the work of pacification and steadily to reduce the means of making war.

England’s policy since the inception of the League has been, and is to-day one for the establishment of permanent peace, and surely that must also be the objective of Australia. Great Britain has asserted over and over again that its sole motive is fidelity to the League of Nations and establishment of the principles of peace in the hope of securing permanent peace. At the present juncture the motive of the British Government is solely that of fidelity to the League.

The Commonwealth Government is to be commended for standing by the League of Nations in an endeavour to secure termination of the Italo-Abyssinian hostilities within the League.

Mr Brennan:

– Nothing has been done so far.


– The settlement of the Italo-Abyssinian dispute must take place as the result of collective action and not that of any one government. Enforcement of the League principles by collective and co-operative action is the principle on which nations must work.

Mr Beasley:

– Can the honorable member explain why sanctions are now to be applied against Italy when they were not applied in the Sino- Japanese conflict?


– I am not concerned with that now. If the Commonwealth is to be true to tho obligations imposed on it by the Covenant of the League, it must co-operate with other nations. Obviously, its first efforts as a member of the League must be to try to bring about peace without sane tions. If sanctions cannot be avoided, however, they must be applied gradually, and not by extreme methods. It is inconceivable to think that responsible nations would not follow that course. I do not believe that members of the Opposition do not support the League of Nations, but the remarks made by some of them might be construed as indicating that they are adverse to it. The conditions of the world to-day are such that it cannot do without an institution such as the League. Mr. Lloyd George, in an article recently, referred to the possibility of Italy leaving the League and said “ thereby the last pretence will disappear of the League being a really effective machine for securing peace through collective action.” But he added “ and the task of creating such a machine will have to be laboriously recommenced “.

Regarding the necessity for the League, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) made a statement in this House when he returned to Australia after having attended the Assembly as an Australian delegate. He sat in that Assembly face to face with men to whom the principles of the League of Nations - security from attack and aggression - are vital. On that occasion he said -

It is easy to criticize the League for its failure to establish peace or evolve a scheme of disarmament; it is easy to jibe and sneer at it because it has been unable to perform miracles, but the League is necessary for the well-being and orderly government of the world. If no League existed, it would be necessary to create it. That is its justification. The world has reached a stage of development where international organization is essential, not only to its well-being, but to its very existence. The problems that confront the world are international in character, and can be solved, not by individual nations, but only by co-operative action.

It has justified its legal existence, and is to-day an integral part of world government.

Attendance at meetings of the League will give to any one experience confirmatory of that statement.

The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) made one or two statements with which I propose to deal. He said that the Council of the League appointed a committee consisting of the representatives of Britain, France, Italy, Canada, the Soviet Union, and seven, smaller nations, to prepare a report regarding what steps should be taken in the future to apply sanctions in terms of article 16 of the Covenant. That committee, consisting of international lawyers, has reported to Geneva that the League Covenant is a mass of hopeless inconsistencies and contradictions, and that it would be impossible to apply sanctions of an economic and financial character. That committee was appointed not for the purpose claimed by the honorable member for West Sydney, but had reference to the unilateral action of one nation. The terms of the appointment of that committee are set out in the Monthly Summary of the League of Nations, which is available to honorable members. It clearly shows that the committee was a body of jurists appointed to consider measures to render the Covenant more effective. According to the journal, the Council -

Requests a committee composed of the following States: - France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Spain, Poland, Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Canada, Chile, Portugal, Turkey, to propose for this purpose measures to render the Covenant more effective in the organization of collective security and to define in particular the economic and financial measures which might be applied, should in the future, a State, whether a member of the League of Nations or not, endanger peace by the unilateral repudiation of its international obligations.

No committee of jurists was appointed to deal with article 16 as the honorable member declared. The sub-committee of jurists appointed by the above committee has presented its report. Honorable members will find it on page 146 of the Monthly Summary of the League of Nations published in June. They will see that the sub-committee dealt with article 11 of the League of Nations Covenant and not article 16. The committee was also concerned with paragraph 4 of article 13.

The only other question referred to was the question of unanimity of the Council.

Slight reference was made to the actions of the League in the Gran Chaco dispute. In that dispute the League acted on the same principles as those on which it had acted previously. The League’s efforts to settle that dispute were noteworthy, and it made every effort to obtain conciliation and settlement. In accordance with League principles a conciliation committee was finally appointed comprising representatives of five American nations. The Argentine Foreign Minister, in reply to a telegram from the Secretary-General of the League, said -

I shall be very pleased to transmit Your Excellency’s much appreciated congratulations to the mediating group. I desire to state, for my part, that the Argentine feels the greatest satisfaction at the attainment of a result that is fully concordant with that of the high ideals of the Geneva institution. The Argentine has been happy ir. the present case to work in furtherance of the League’s most praiseworthy objects. She will continue to follow the same course, conscious of her duty as a member of the League and convinced of the League’s influence for good. The growth of this influence will surely lead to greater efficacy in the League’s action.

A protocol was agreed to by the parties, and a peace conference was to be called for a solution by agreement. In the event of a breakdown, the dispute was to be settled by legal arbitration by the Permanent Court of International Justice, an institution of the League.

One other matter referred to to-day concerned naval armaments, and the naval agreement between Great Britain and Germany. It was said that because of the signing of that agreement Great Britain is not, with clean hands, in the present dispute. The honorable member who made the assertion misunderstands the intention of that agreement. It was pointed out very definitely in the House of Commons by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Baldwin, that -

The primary purpose of the conversations with the representatives of the German Government was to prepare the way for the holding of a general conference on the subject of the limitation of naval armaments. The agreement which has been reached furnishes a fixed point of departure in further discussions, namely, the ultimate inclusion of a general naval treaty.

Regarding the Naval Agreement, Sir Samuel Hoare made the following statement in the House of Commons in May of this year: -

As to the Naval Agreement, I will not recount again the very valid arguments as to why it was wise for the British Government to sign the agreement. The honorable gentleman seems to think that the German programme and its consequences were the result of the agreement. Not at all. The German programme was there already, and all that would have happened if the agreement had not been signed would have been that that programme would eventually have become much greater, and the state of Europe infinitely worse. I believe that, as far as the Naval Agreement is concerned, the general opinion in Europe, including naval agreement, considerable bodies of opinion in France, is coming round to the view that we took, in the circumstances, the only action, and the only wise action, which was possible.

The object of that agreement was to carry out the purposes of the League, and secure a reduction and limitation of armaments. Groat Britain, instead of being condemned, ought to be commended for having given, practical evidence of its sincerity in connexion with the limitation of armaments and its preparedness to continue its observance of the principle already adopted under the Washington Agreement. In the circumstances, I feel that it is our duty to stand by the League, as the Commonwealth Government is doing.

Throughout the world to-day anxiety will be felt concerning the future existence of the League. Are those high principles which had their origin in the last war, and are embodied in the Covenant of the League, to stand and progress, or to be given a setback? Nonparticipation would not assist towards the establishment of permanent peace. I acknowledge the sincerity of honorable members ‘opposite, and their anxiety to achieve that desirable object. I point out, however, that, so far, this is the only practicable effort the world has seen to evolve a scheme for the settlement of international disputes and the establishment of world peace. Before the last war, any advocate of it would have been termed a visionary and a dreamer. If, by any action of ours, we weaken the influence of the League, we shall not prevent imperialistic wars in the future, but on the contrary will provide full scope for them. To-day the only check upon a nation with imperialistic designs is the knowledge that any act of aggression by it would have to be justified before the bar of the conscience of the world. The League is the only organization in existence to-day which can voice the higher conscience of the world in these matters. I plead with my fellow Australians to stand by the principles of the League.

To-day we have security within the British Empire. We may talk of non-participation and of neutrality while we are within that Empire, but without its protection our political independence, integrity and sovereignty might well be in jeopardy. Under the Covenant we have the additional security given by that instrument. What would Australia say in the hour of need if other nations, refusing to recognize their obligations, were to say that the maintenance of the security of Australia was not worth the sacrifice involved? I have sufficient confidence in my friends opposite to realize that they have some sense of international responsibility. I appeal to them to refrain from slightingly discrediting the League. The world is in such a condition that it cannot rely upon destructive action. Every nation has to make a constructive proposal. Great Britain made a constructive proposal when it brought about the Locarno agreement, and suggested other measures for the maintenance of peace. When these organizations that have a high purpose are endangered, let us realize that, with our responsibility, we have also a constructive duty.

The Government is to be commended for the attitude that it has adopted. It cannot be expected to say, without deliberation with other nations, that it will do this or that. All that we can do is, appeal to it to stand by the League of Nations; to make every effort to secure a peaceful settlement of the existing dispute, and, as far as possible, to limit its extension. The Government is under the obligation to inform this Parliament from time to time of what has occurred. I feel that it is my duty to stand by it in the course that it has followed._


.- ;I do not think that any member of this Parliament would overlook the portentous significance of this occasion, or deal without full consideration with the very exacting responsibility that devolves upon all of us to face the situation fairly and candidly, and also to consider it primarily as it affects Australia and Australia’s contribution to the peace of the world.

I had hoped that the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) would have avoided generalization, and made clear just what i3 the Government’s conception of the service which Australia can render to the present difficulties of civilization; but I am forced to say that I regard his speech as unsatisfactory. It consisted of quite a number of generalizations that were obscure, and a recitation of the history of the dispute, the greater part of which was familiar to all of us.

I submit with due deference that the right honorable gentleman avoided the substance of the matter as it concerns this Parliament. His speech, and in part the speech of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom), urged this Parliament to support the League of Nations. I contend that if we are to support the League in anything and everything, we ought to indicate to it the nature of the work which we expect it to undertake, or that which Australia, as a member of the League, is prepared to undertake. The League is not a mere abstraction. Its decisions are made by persons - members of the Assembly. Those members consist definitely and only of the delegates of nations, and their voice should be the voice of the governments of the countries that they represent. What a delegate says should, unquestionably, express the point of view of his government. If what he says leads to an added responsbility being placed on the shoulders of his government, incontestably the nation represented by him should have cognizance, not only of what he says, but also of the resultant consequences to it.

Australia is represented on the League of Nations. It is most essentially a definite part of the organism of the League. In order that our representative may know what we are capable of doing and what we are prepared to do, the Government should now take this Parliament into its confidence in respect of what it has directed its representative to urge, and to advocate. Unless we know that, then wide and vague, generalizations may, according to the view-point of the wisest opinion in Australia, contribute to an imperilling of the League; instead of saving it, we may destroy it. I agree, and I think that my party agrees unreservedly, that we cannot wash our hands of this dispute; we cannot be indifferent to the fate of Abyssinia, or to anything that threatens or jeopardizes the peace of the world, and may by its repercussions profoundly affect our own security. But at the same time, we must have regard to our position, to our circumstances, to the place that we hold in the geography of the world and to what

Ave are capable of doing towards the maintenance of the peace of the world.

It is primarily imperative; that we should never forget that in the great flux and complication of international relationships Australia is but a minor power ; it is a small nation, remote from the great centres of international convulsion. Thus its attitude, with perfect loyalty to the League, certainly consists in a definition of action which it regards as within its competence as a member of the League towards the carrying out of whatever decisions may be made. I would say that, desiring peace for ourselves, we have always to assist every cause that seeks the general peace of the world. I would submit, also, that hitherto Australia has done its very best to promote the success of the League ©f Nations, and to contribute towards that mechanism which ultimately in the history of civilization we hope will be a potent and an effective alternative to the barbaric practice of resort to arms. The truth is, that war has been outlawed by Australia as a member of the League of Nations. This nation has solemnly obligated itself not to resort to war. I put it that that is a very crucial declaration. “We cannot now embark upon a policy that may end in war, without being fully conscious of our responsibility not to participate in war. No generalization which compels this country to accept the responsibility of loyalty to covenants which are not being observed by major powers can be construed as indicative of unwillingness on the part of this country to maintain what it recognizes as its duty in regard to the peace of the world.

I believe it can be acknowledged that the most effective means of preventing war would be a world boycott of an offending nation. That would be, not only a salutary punishment of the nation concerned, but also the most powerful deterrent that the world could possibly invoke. In my opinion, it was on this predicate that article 16 of the Covenant, very broadly, was founded. But I face the facts at the present time, and I say that that postulate is not now a reality. Major nations are out of the League, and a world boycott must be considered as a vain hope and an unworkable policy. Any financial or economic blockade could be only partial. It might be enforced by some nations if it were agreed to by the League; but it would not be enforced by others. Such evidence as there appears to be available at present indicates definitely that the concert of powers which would be essential to the functioning of the League’s peaceful authority, is now unstable, unreliable, and, to an extent, disputative. To fail to recognize this is not only to err in loyalty to the League itself, but also to fail to be a true friend to the League, for it amounts to a refusal to face squarely the weaknesses that have developed in respect to the League’s authority. Australia, should, therefore, I say, decide how far, if at all, its people are to be committed to the obscure implications involved in the enforcement of sanctions. I submit to the Government, with great respect, that by its failure to give a clear and conclusive answer to this question, it has not met the Parliament competently or properly. The Australian people are entitled to know what policy is being applied in their name, and they are certainly entitled to a definite statement, not only as to what is intended, but also as to what the application of sanctions involves. It is imperative that such a statement should be no longer delayed.

The truth of the matter is that silence in respect to what any member of the League intends to do in this situation will make the nation concerned no longer the servant of peace. The time has arrived for candour and honesty. “We can no longer be content with this continual taking of refuge in generalizations about our obligations to the League. In declaring that as things stand at present we have to decide whether or not we shall as a nation embark on the hazardous road which adherence to sanctions implies, I am not conscious that I am in any respect disloyal to the League of Nations. On the contrary, I submit that, for Australia to allow its representative at the League meetings to commit this country to the policy which appears to be involved in the generic term of “ sanctions “j is to expose it to difficulties of a nature which it is impossible to limit, and, indeed, impossible, at present, to describe.

It may quite easily happen that, instead of sanctions deterring Italy, they may, in their very nature, be a real provocation leading to a conflict upon a wider scale, and to a catastrophe greater than anything that the League of Nations is to-day concerned with. The Australian Labour party is, therefore, ready, if the Government is not, to indicate its attitude towards war and sanctions. It declares that, as a world concert in restraint of Italy is not at the present stage of the evolution of the League of Nations attainable, Australia should not resort to warlike acts against any other nation.

Judging for itself, as it has a right to judge, what is the best service it can render to the general peace of the world, it re-affirms its policy of no Australian participation in war. This policy was enunciated by the Acting Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Forde) last week. I say to the Parliament, and through it to the people of Australia, that, because this country is not able to ensure universal peace in consequence of the stern realities that now confront the world, our aim should be the preservation of general peace. This is not intended to mean that we exonerate Italy. I do not exonerate Italy from a breach of the Covenant, nor does the Australian Labour party; but, at the same time, we refuse to impeach all the people of Italy for the acts of a government which the Labour party regards as dictatorial and undemocratic. I venture the opinion that there is a proneness, to too large an extent, to consider the people of a nation responsible for everything that the government of a nation may do. That is one of the things from which the world must emerge. We must exercise a judicial attitude towards the policies of other countries. We say that the League of Nations has within itself the opportunity to continue to bring pressure upon the Italian Government to respect its obligations and to cease war, without committing Australia, as a member of it, to a course of action which is impracticable in its character, having regard to our circumstances, and which, if applied, would not only punish the section of the Italian people responsible for the aggression against Abyssinia, but also all sections of the people of Italy, including the innocent victims of a policy in the making of which they had no say.

Parenthetically, I “may say that, just as the Australian Labour party refuses to impeach the whole of the Italian people for the acts of the Government of Italy, so it will resist any attempt in Australia to punish Italian nationals in this country for things which have been done by the Government of Italy. If we stand for peace and justice we must not permit Italians, now domiciled in Australia, whether naturalized or not, to be made the victims of racial passion or, indeed, of economic reprisals. We must secure to them their rights in this country. Just as we refuse to make war against Italians in Italy, so we must sec to it that Italians in Australia do not have war visited upon them.

Yet it has to be recognized that article 16 of the Covenant of the League, in al] its amplitude, commits Australia, according to commentators who are in a. position to know what it really means, not only to an economic blockade against Italy, but also to the absolute cessation of all relations whatsoever with Italians. The article, in that respect, not only menaces the aggressive nation but also has the effect of inflicting upon the economic life and substance of the people a form of sabotage which, in some respects,, might he regarded as even more barbaric than actual military sanctions. We should not be committed, as a nation, to conduct of that description while, at the same time, we proclaim loudly our adherence to the Pact of Paris, which means, if it means anything in regard to Australia, that this country must not resort to war against other countries. The Pact of Paris means that the people of Australia may not take up arms in any event except in defence of their own position when attacked by an enemy.

The Parliament is entitled to a clear explanation from the Government of what it conceives to be the significance of sanctions in respect of the people of this country. If article 16 of the Covenant is not observed by a concert of the major powers, it can easily become, not a deterrent to the offending nation and therefore a means of limiting the conflict, but the cause of a re-grouping of the powers. We should then have such alliances as would sow seeds of antagonism or cause the growth of menaces so terrific that the mind of man would reel at the seriousness of them.

I regret that there is the necessity to look at this matter factually ; but we must look at the facts. Germany is not a member of the League; Italy is for the present outside the League; the United States of America is not a member of the League; and Japan is not now bound by article 16 of the Covenant. So Japan, Germany, the United States of America, and Italy, are detached from any concert of powers which the League might invoke to enforce sanctions. Is it not conceivable that such a group of nations would defeat every attempt to enforce sanctions? Is there any man who believes that there would not be what I shall describe as blackleg - I might also say bootleg - trading? Any attempt that the League might make to enforce sanctions would be continually menaced by the powers that were not in favour of the imposition of them. The whole truth is that article 16 of the Covenant of the League, insofar as it seeks to restrain countries from resorting to war, depended upon conditions which are now no longer present. Because they are no ‘longer present the Australian Labour party submits that it would be detrimental to Australia, to the British Empire, and to the League of Nations itself, to subject the League to a strain which it would be impossible for it to endure. If this happened the hopes and aspirations of the honorable member for Darling Downs (;Sir Littleton Groom) that the world will ultimately reach a stage in which the nations could effectively pledge themselves definitely to support articles such as those implicit in the Covenant, instead of being brought nearer to realization, would be pushed farther off into the. unknown and distant future.

The League of Nations has had a short history. It was conceived of the dregs of war. It was hoped that it would achieve the purposes which were in the minds and hearts of those who stood behind it. But 1 think it can be truthfully said that, insofar as there is anything wrong with the League to-day, it is simply that the world is not- yet capable of giving effect, in reality, to those high purposes for which it stands.

I return to the Kellogg Pact which, I believe, is of more importance than the impracticable provisions which we have been considering.

Article 1 of the Kellogg Pact reads -

The high contracting parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples, that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.

If that means anything at all it means that even to prevent war a country will not resort to war. It means, further, that whatever steps may be taken in order to punish the aggressor the resort to war is not lawful within the meaning of that article. Article 2 reads -

The high contracting parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be which may arise among them shall never be sought except by pacific means.

I do not propose to examine that language in detail, but it is very striking and clear ; and when we are told of the obligations of the country in respect of covenants associated with peace, let us bear in mind that those articles, carefully drafted and significantly phrased, impose their obligations, too. The utmost that Australia can do to achieve a satisfactory settlement of the difficulty is to make it clear to the nations of the world that in reliance upon those two articles, we will not resort to war, and that we are positively bound to use pacific means for the settlement of the present dispute. For us to be committed behind our backs would be bad, but that event would be more disastrous if it had the effect of involving Australia with countries which are not now members of the League.

I call upon the Government to make our position plain. To the north of us is one great power, while on the east side of the ocean is still another, neither of which can be parties to the imposition of sanctions. For us to embark on a policy which would involve us in obligations not shared by Japan or the United States of America, would be to undertake responsibilties too great for our resources, and too threatening to our future. Even all that I would risk if it could be shown that the imposition of sanctions by the deliberate decision of the Australian Parliament would lessen the prospects of a world war. But, I feel most definitely that, “having regard to the present condition of the League, the enemies that beset it, and the powerful armament rings that have poured out money in an attempt to cripple its activities and frustrate its purposes, it would be a first-class dis-service to Australia, to the British Empire, and to the League itself, for us to take upon our shoulders the herculean task of imposing sanctions upon Italy as a means of settling this dispute. We have to rely on the effect of our voice in contributing to the moral conscience of the world, and in persuading Italy to return to a sense of its obligations. Sooner or later, if our hopesfor peace are to be realized, Italy must once more take its place as a member of that concert of nations whose responsibility it is to maintain the peace of the world. Our present policy must be one of non-participation, while urging the early return of Italy to a realization of its international obligations. We shall be doing a better thing for ourselves, for the people of the world, and for the League of Nations by trying to win Italy back to the League, rather than by seeking to punish that country.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Archdale Parkhill) adjourned.

page 568


Bill returned from Senate without amendment.

page 568


Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed.

Minister for Defence · Warringah · UAP

– One cannot complain of the tone of the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), but I am bound to confess to some disappointment at his conclusions. In my opinion, quite different conclusions could have been reached as the result of his argument. I realize that the seriousness of this matter is such that it behoves us to exercise restraint, and to deal with it in a way least likely to raise bitterness and rancour. That has been the attitude of the British Labour party in the House of Commons, and of similar organizations in other parts of the world. It has also been the attitude of the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Lyons) who has stated quite clearly the position of his government, but has properly refrained from discussing the subject in such a way as to embarrass those who are doing the very thing which the Leader of the Opposition wishes to be done, namely, trying to persuade Italy to take a more generous and pacific view of the present problem. Et is because the Government does not desire to embarrass the Government of Great Britain in its strenuous efforts to obtain a pacific settlement that certain pronouncements have not been made. However, the Prime Minister last Friday made a supplementary declaration to the House which made clear the stand taken by the Commonwealth Government.

The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) made several statements which, if uncontradicted, might give an entirely incorrect and unfair impression of the situation. Indeed, the honorable member’s speech consisted of a collection of statements which he had gathered together from various sources, but which he had not taken the slightest trouble to verify. Consequently, it contained a mass of inaccuracies and misrepresentations, appealing chiefly to party passions on a subject that should be far removed from party. He repeatedly stated that the Government had committed Australia to another world war. The answer to that charge has, I hope, been made translucently clear by the declaration of the Prime Minister that the Government has committed itself and the people of Australia to nothing more than the support of Great Britain in its efforts to prevent war, and to achieve peace. The honorable member further stated that, during the last two years, the Government had been making definite preparations for participation in war. Surely he must know that there is not the slightest justification for an assertion of that kind.

Mr Brennan:

– The Government is making hectic preparations for war. All the munition factories are going full time.


– Any preparations made during the last two years have been primarily with the object of achieving peace, and with providing for the defence of the Commonwealth and its people. The people of Australia are anxious, not that we should engage in war, but that we should make preparations for the adequate defence of the country.

It was also said that Australian youths were likely to be conscripted for service overseas. That assertion also was without justification, for there is not the slightest likelihood of anything of the kind occurring. Another statement was that Mr. Bruce had been given an open mandate to act in Australia’s behalf. The Leader of the Opposition did not say that, but that was one of the extravagant statements uttered by the honorable member for West Sydney, (Mr. Beasley), and it also is without foundation. As stated by the Prime Minister, instructions have been given to Mr. Bruce limiting his authority to the support of Great Britain and the League of Nations.

More than one speaker opposite has declared that Australia has been pledged to war “ up to the hilt “. The honorable member for West Sydney reminded us that another Prime Minister had committed Australia on a previous occasion to the last man and the last shilling, but he omitted to say that it was a Labour Prime Minister who did that. Moreover, he did not finish the quotation from the statement of the present Prime Minister. The words of the Prime Minister were that Australia would support Great Britain up to the hilt in its efforts to prevent war, but it has suited speakers who desire to misrepresent Australia in this matter to leave out his concluding words which put an entirely different construction on the matter.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.


– The honorable member for West Sydney also said that Lord Kitchener, Admiral Henderson, and Sir Ian Hamilton visited Australia to prepare it for the last war, and that recently Sir Maurice Hankey, Lord Milne, and Lord Sempill had visited the Commonwealth to prepare it for the next world war. I shall show how little justification there is for that statement. The honorable member accused She British Prime Minister of misleading the public ‘by stating that those visits had no political significance and were merely in connexion with the centenary celebrations of Melbourne and Victoria. I say definitely that there was no political significance in those visits. Even to-day I am unaware of the purpose of Lord Sempill’s visit, notwithstanding that I made numerous inquiries in order t,o ascertain the reason for it. Lord Sempill did not disclose the reason for his coming here, and at no time did he discuss with me any phase of defence. My impression is that he was concerned with some commercial flying operation. Similarly Lord Milne visited Australia as a guest of the Victorian Centenary Committee. He sought no interview with me as Minister for Defence.

Mr James:

– Was the honorable member Minister for Defence when Lord Milne was here?

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Yes. I had taken over from Senator Sir George Pearce the administration of the Defence Department when these gentlemen were in the Commonwealth. My intercourse with Lord Milne was limited to a few remarks at social gatherings of an unimportant character. In order to show how wide of the mark are the assertions of the honorable member for West Sydney - assertions made without the slightest effort at verification - I shall read a statement published in the Sydney Sun on Monday last, in which Lord Milne is reported to have said - “ Do all possible to see that Britain keeps her hands clean of war and does not poke unnecessarily into other people’s business “ said Field Marshal Lord Milne, who recently visited Australia, when addressing Salonika veterans to-day.

Mr Ward:

– That is the policy of the Labour party.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Reading those words of Lord Milne one would almost think that the honorable member for West Sydney was speaking. The report continued - “ Outside this building in the heart of London,” ho added, “ you see posters -marked War!’. You have seen war and know what it means. Britain is one of tho most prosperous countries in the world. Keep her out of war and keep her prosperous.”

Those are the words of a British Field Marshal who, according to the honorable member, came here for the purpose of promoting war.

The visit of Sir Maurice Hankey was also in connexion with the centenary celebrations, but advantage was taken of his presence in Australia to discuss various matters of mutual concern. He is Secretary of the Imperial Defence Committee, a body which advises Australia on all matters of Imperial and Australian defence. The Government makes no apology for taking advantage of his presence in the Commonwealth to seek his advice and to gam the fullest possible first-hand information on all phases of defence. His advice has been invaluable to the Government in helping to solve some of its most difficult problems. As’ Minister for Defence I can say that Sir Maurice Hankey made no request of the Commonwealth Government, and consequently it had nothing to give or to refuse.

The honorable member for West Sydney also said that the Government boasted that it was spending £8,000,000 on war preparation when it had nothing for the unemployed and could give no practical assistance to the primary producers. That statement contains a number of inaccuracies. In the first place, the Government does not boast of its war preparations, and the statements that it has issued merely contain information as to what is toeing done for the defence of Australia. Secondly, expenditure on defence last year was not a tithe of the amount expended in the relief of unemployment. Moreover, during the last five years more money has been granted to assist the wheat industry alone than has been expended on the defence of the country. The criticism of the honorable member is easily answered. During the regime of the previous Government, defence expenditure was reduced from £4,885.98.7 in 1929-30 to £3,184,836 in 1931-32. The defence services were so starved that only a skeleton was left. The present Government undertook the duty of putting some flesh on the skeleton as soon as finances permitted. It aims at making Australia’s defence effective, believing that otherwise the money expended is wasted.

Australia’s defence scheme is not being materially altered although it has been, and will be, enlarged and made more effective. A large proportion of the new expenditure will be devoted to coast defence, without which Australian coastal cities would be at the mercy of, not only a foreign fleet, but also a single raider. A considerable portion of the proposed new expenditure will be used to expand Australia’s air force, and I imagine that few people will condemn the Government for its policy in that connexion, because without an adequate air force all our other defence expenditure would be in vain. Australia must aim at maintaining a sufficiently large defence organization to enable it to defend its own territory, and the Government will do everything possible to that end. It makes no apology for its efforts to put the defence of Australia on a secure basis.

The honorable member also condemned the Government for allowing H.M.A.S Australia to leave Australian waters, and urged that the vessel be at once recalled. It may be well if I remind the House that many years ago a system of exchange of ships with the Royal Navy was agreed to in order that the Australian Navy might have the opportunity to train with large fleets. Because of financial stringency no exchange took place for some years, but last year the system was again resorted to and H.M.A.S. Australia was exchanged for H.M.S. Sussex. At that time there was no international disturbance; and in any case, participation by H.M.A.S. Australia in the manoeuvres in which the Mediterranean fleet is engaged does not necessarily involve that vessel in war without the consent of the Australian Government. I need not emphasize that unless the Australian naval units get practical training with large fleets they cannot possibly reach that high degree of perfection which is required in modern naval ships. The Australian Navy can get the necessary training only with the

Royal Navy. Ships belonging to the Australian Navy come under the Washington Treaty for the reduction of armaments as part of Britain’s reduced quota. In the fifty 10,000-ton cruisers allowed under that treaty H.M.A.S. Canberra and Australia are included; and unless they can be made available to operate with the main fleets when required the usefulness of those fleets will he strictly limited. These facts should have been known to the honorable member for West Sydney.

The honorable member in defining the attitude of his party said, “ The Government must declare and maintain a policy of absolute isolation and strict neutrality “. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) in stating the policy of the other section of the Labour party this afternoon, made a declaration in similar terms. The object of all parties, and, indeed, of every member, is the avoidance of war; but there is a divergence of opinion as to the means to be employed to that end. The Labour party thinks that war may be avoided in one way, whilst the Government relies upon the efforts of Great Britain, and the attitude adopted by its leaders.

Let us examine the policy of the Labourparty in this connexion. If given effect, it would place Australia at variance with Great Britain, and the self-governing dominions of Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand, as well as with the Irish Free State, which has frequently taken a stand in opposition to Great Britain.

The attitude of the Opposition to the League of Nations remains undisclosed and obscure. For a long time the Labour party has claimed that it supports the League of Nations as the best possible means of settling international disputes, and as the only alternative to war. Its members have taken part in the deliberations of the League, but now the Labour party, while still supporting the League and the policy of collective security for the peace of the world, including Australia, declares that this country must not take any action which might impose on it any responsibility for ensuring that collective security. The question at the moment is not one of war with Italy, or of war between Italy and Abyssinia, but whether the League of Nations is worth anything, and, if so, whether the principles which Labour has advocated for so long are worth defending. Surely the League’s methods are preferable to the rule of tooth and claw. It is well to remember that the League of Nations offers the greatest security obtainable for small nations, and that Australia may some clay need the League’s protection. What have Labour leaders to say of the claim made at Geneva that nations with surplus populations should be entitled to occupy the empty spaces of the world? A proposal that a portion of Australia should be made available to another nation was recently made. The Labour movement is obviously divided in this matter. The views expressed by its leaders in this House are opposed to the publicly announced policy of the British Labour party, and of Labour parties elsewhere in the world. They are opposed also to the declarations of several large unions in Australia, notably the Australian Railways Union and the Miners Union.

Mr James:

– The Minister would do well to give the House the views of the Miners Union.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.The views expressed by Opposition leaders in this House, are also at variance with those of Mr. Collier, the Labour Premier of Western Australia, and of Mr. Ogilvie, the Leader of a Labour government in Tasmania. Sir Norman Angell, a publicist and for many years a Labour member of the House of Commons, referring to the remarks of the honorable member for West Sydney, said -

Those who oppose the sanctions do not appreciate the fact that a fight for the League Covenant is a fight for defence. To say that we will not fight for the law that the settlement of disputes shall not be by the force of one of the litigants, .but we will fight to defend ourselves, means making both the law and effective defence equally impossible, and anarchy and recurrent war equally inevitable.

If it had not been for a desire on the part of the Labour party to resuscitate somebody in New South Wales who is politically inanimate, the attitude of that party in Australia would have been the same as that of the British Labour party. I shall support my statement by submitting extracts from the Labor Daily, published shortly before the honorable member for West Sydney delivered his speech. On the 22nd August last, that journal remarked -

The rape of Abyssinia would represent a direct challenge by Italy to the entire system of collective security that must be met by effective application of economic and financial sanctions.

One of the directors of this newspaper is Mr. Lang, and I understand that the honorable member for West Sydney is also on the board. This newspaper is the organ of the Labour party in New South Wales, and probably the greatest Labour propagandist in Australia. In its issue of tie 23rd August, it stated -

On the other hand it cannot be too strongly emphasized that the Labour movement appreciates the necessity for strong League action to avert war in East Africa. When the League Council assembles on the 4th September at Geneva, it must be prepared to fulfil its obligations in preserving the principle of collective security, which is universally recognized as the only safeguard against a relapse into the hazardous system of armed military alliances that precipitated the crisis of August, 1914.

Article XVI. is based upon the principle of collective action by all members of the League, and, clearly, was never intended to 1» employed as the basis for unilateral action by one imperialist State against another competing imperialist power. Primacy is given throughout its text to “ financial and economic “ measures, and before hot-headed militarists are permitted to stampede the peoples of the world into another fratricidal conflict, it is incumbent upon Geneva to issue an immediate warning to Mussolini that such “ financial and economic “ measures will be promptly invoked if he outrages world opinion by attempting the rape of Abyssinia. . . .

A complete economic blockade of Italy in the event of Mussolini persisting with his plans would, indeed, be a test of the sincerity of all interests at present crying havoc.

It is the test, also, of the Labour party in this House, and, according to that test, that party has not rung true. The Labor Dally continued -

Although the City of London would be called upon to sacrifice Italian rentes, a complete paralysis of international trade with Italy and the withdrawal of all raw materials and foodstuffs should quickly curb the enthusiasm of all parties concerned in the imbroglio. . . .

The Australian Government would be far better engaged in considering means to prevent Australian wool and wheat finding their way into the hands of Italy should she continue to outrage the conscience of civilization. . . . But Australia will join with any and every other people in an. economic blockade to starve the world’s belligerents back to sanity.

In its issue of the 26th August, the Labor Daily, referring to the BriandKellogg Pact obligations, observed -

The economic and. financial forces represented in the signatories to that pact were so representative of world economic forces that, by invoking the terms of Article XVI. of the League Covenant on 4th September, there should be little difficulty in bringing sufficient pressure to bear upon Mussolini to desist . . .

Collective economic sanctions arc the only possible answer to aggression.

This journal boasts of a circulation of 500,000, and this is what it says to the 500,000 voters in New South Wales -

The Australian Government should take immediate steps to sec that no shipments of wool, wheat, meat or metals destined for use by an aggressor nation should be permitted to leave these shores. The Labour party will launch a campaign directed against the warmongers at its meeting in the Australian Hall next Wednesday week - the occasion of the League Council’s sitting - when it will take steps to rally Australian public opinion behind the principles visualized in the Briand-Kellogg Pact.

Yet we find the Labour party in this House going back on every principle enunciated in the Labor Daily, on whose board sit Mr. Lang and the honorable member for West Sydney. The outstanding fact is that nobody desires war. The position of the League of Nations was put clearly by Mr. De Valera, the Premier of the Irish Free State, when he said -

By our own choice, we entered into Covenant obligations.

So did we, and we have heard to-day from the Labour party how it regards those obligations. Mr. De Valera proceeded -

We shall fulfil them in the letter and the spirit-

I commend those sentiments to my friends opposite -

If the sovereignty of the weakest member is not respected, if there is picking and choosing when to apply the law, then the League is useless.

There, Mr. De Valera crystallized the sentiment that might well have been expressed by any true representative of Australia. We should remember that we are part of the British Empire, and as we play our part, and accept our responsibilities, so we should expect similar consideration if Australia stood in need of assistance. The way to keep this country out of the war is to support the efforts which Great Britain, with the assistance of the other dominions, is making in that direction.


.- It was stated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) that the Government had promised to support the British Government “up to the hilt “ so long as it fought for peace. To-day, the Minister for Commerce (Dr Earle Page), speaking on behalf of the Government, went a step further, and said that it had promised to support the British Government up to the hilt in fulfilling the Covenant of the League of Nations. Talk about the goose-step ! First we have the Government declaring itself to be whole-heartedly in favour of peace, and then it announces that step by step - and a military step, too - it will support the British Government up to the hilt for war! To what extent does this pronouncement of the Government involve Australia? These half statements do more harm, and always have done, than telling the people the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We have heard quotations by the Minister for Commerce of the remarks of those who support the attitude of the Government in this issue. But who are they ? Every resolution and every letter that the Government has received and applauded, except the resolution of the South Australian Labour Council, has come directly or indirectly from the Communist party, and I challenge the Minister for Commerce to deny it. Take the Australian Railways Union, which the Government has been castigating on the ground that it is controlled by the Communist party. Then there is the Miners Union which is also said to be controlled by that party. The Communist party itself sent a letter to the Government. I also received a letter from it inviting me to support the Prime Minister, so that there might be a united front on this occasion in order to prepare for the scenes of war. I replied that it would be a nice thing to see in Martin Place the leader of the Communist party and the Leader of the Government (Mr. Lyons) calling for troops to join the colours and fight on this issue. How jubilant the Minister for Commerce was to-day over the Communist party being prepared to support the Government! He was backed up by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill). Those Ministers do not care from what quarter support comes. Whilst on the one hand they have the Crimes Act ready for the Communists, they congratulate them on the other. We have heard the Minister for Defence reading extracts from the Labor Daily. The devil quoting scripture ! The members of mv party do not disagree with any statement made by the Labor Daily. We favour economic sanctions as far as the workers are concerned, but not from imperialistic motives. Does anybody mean to tell me that the British or French Governments would place power in the hands of the workers, and say, “ Not a man, not a ship, not a gun for this war “ ? Of course not. If the workers said “ We will down tools. Not a ship will we man, and not a thing will we make for either side “, would the British Government give that power to the workers. If the waterside workers in Australia cried “ Down tools ! “ the Commonwealth Government would put the Crimes Act into operation and imprison them. The Labor Daily declares that the power of the workers is the only force that can prevent war at the present time. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Archdale Parkhill) informed the House that conscription would not be introduced, but when the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) was asked a question in this connexion, he refused to answer. All Australians are desirous of knowing how far the Government has committed us in this international crisis.

Mr Bernard Corser:

– We could follow the lead of British labour.


– -The great Australian Labour movement has denned its united attitude on this issue in striking terms, signifying that it will take action to see that not a man, nor a ship, nor a gun, nor a shilling from Australia shall contribute to the progress of a war. Honorable members on this side of the House have no uneasiness about their attitude whatever that of the British Labour party may be. Members of the Australian Labour party can lay the true facts of the position before the workers of Australia. Whatever the consequences of my action I am not afraid to tell them that Australian lives are too precious to be lost in a foreign quarrel. Never have I shirked such an issue. In the ChineseJapanese dispute both countries were members of the League of Nations, and the aggressor was proved by a committee appointed by the League to be Japan. In response to a communication from the Geneva Secretariat, Japan bluntly announced that it proposed to penetrate Manchukuo to suppress the brigandage there. On that occasion questions relating to Australia’s attitude towards the parties to the dispute were asked in this House. I shall quote them -


– Having regard to a statement made in the House of Commons yesterday that Japanese aggression in the Far East may become a grave danger to Australia, is the Minister for External Affairs prepared to make a statement to the House of the Government’s attitude in regard to the present trouble between China and Japan?

KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931

– It is inadvisable to make any statement in this Parliament concerning the possibility of aggression by a nation which is now friendly to us. I repeat my statement of yesterday that the Government is doing everything in its power - a very limited power in such matters - to bring about a peaceful settlement of the present unfortunate trouble in the Far East.


– The British Government is reported to have sent to Japan, through the League of Nations, a very strong note of protest. Nevertheless, yesterday members of the House of Commons were informed by the Secretary for Overseas Trade that licences had been issued for the export of arms to Japan in order that it might continue to make war upon China. In these circumstances, I ask the Minister for External Affairs what his attitude will be at the Disarmament Conference ?

KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931

– To the best of my recollection, the cablegram published in the newspapers stated that licences had been issued by the British Government for the export of arms to both China and Japan. A convention for the control of the private manufacture and sale of arms has long been under consideration, but no effective result has yet been achieved. However, it would not be proper for the Commonwealth Government to attempt to dictate to any other government in the Empire regarding action such as that to which the honorable member has referred.

Then, it was not the policy of the Commonwealth Government to interfere, it did not presume to be a party to dictating to Japan, but now it is willing to lend its weight to dictating to Italy, and affirms its resolution to abide by the League Covenant. In July of last year Mr. Stanley Baldwin, Leader of the

British Conservative party, speaking in the House of Commons, said -

There is no such thing us a sanction that will work, that does not mean war, or, in other words, if you are going to adopt a sanction, you must prepare for war.

Contrast Mr. Baldwin’s statement with the miserable utterances of Ministers in this House to-day. First of all we heard the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page). His remarks conveyed the impression that Australia’s adherence to the League was actuated by a desire for peace. Then followed a camouflaged statement by the Minister for Defence. Step by step, I fear, Australia will be led into another tragedy as the result of being “ right up to the hilt “ with Great Britain in this crisis. The Ministers also stated that Australia could not stand aloof while the British Empire was involved. Must Australia always await a lead from Great Britain? Are we in Australia not a self-governing nation? Is not the Commonwealth Government competent of its own initiative to issue a true statement of the facts without awaiting the advice of and permission from the British war cabinet? Itbehoves Australia, which attained its manhood through the sacrifice and suffering of its 400,000 troops who volunteered in the great war, and of the 60,000 of them whose bones bleach on Gallipoli and in Flanders, to assert its nationhood in their name and in the name of the women and children of this country. Let Australia say that it will not be involved in any compact that will lead to war, either in Europe or in Africa. The Minister for Commerce informed the House that the British Government would not take isolated action. That is quite true. The international situation is too complicated for Britain to take unilateral action. I am sure that the ex-Prime Minister of this country, Mr. Hughes, who demanded that Australia should be recognized as a nation because of the sacrifice made by its people, entered into no agreement to involve Australia in another upheaval. Certainly, Great Britain desires to be associated with other countries, but it is my earnest wish that not a man shall leave these shores to fight in a Eureopean or African war.

The Minister for Defence ridiculed the reference made by the honorable mem ber for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) to Lord Kitchener, Sir Ian Hamilton, and other militarists who visited this country before 1914. Will the Minister deny that Lord Kitchener and Sir Ian Hamilton came to Australia in order to organize the Australian defences? And it is equally true that Sir Maurice Hankey came to Australia for the same purpose. And what of Lord Milne and his words the other day? A select committee of the Senate of the United States of America took remarkable evidence concerning the machinations of the warmongers, whose objective was, it declared, “ to deceive the people and keep them in suspense until it is too late to avert a conflict.” Sir Maurice Hankey did not come to Australia merely to pay his compliments to you, Mr. Speaker, or just to view the sights of Melbourne. For my own part, I am sorry, indeed, that the Minister for Defence was not made aware of the purpose of that visit. Apparently his status did not appeal to this important military delegation, and its purpose was conveyed to Sir George Pearce. At any rate, that gentleman later accompanied the delegation to New Zealand, and there the message from the British Government was made known in secret conclave. That these premises are correct is amply proved by the subsequent increased expenditure in Australia on defences.

The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) dealt with the Geneva situation as it stands to-day. My opinion is that the international bargaining for support to invoke sanctions against Italy, in an effort to prevent the forcible annexation of Abyssinia, is prompted by the sudden revelation of the immense economic potentialities, such as oil and platinum, of Ethiopia. This has given rise to one of the most sordid episodes in diplomacy. A few years ago Italy and Abyssinia could have gone to war without raising more than a dignified protest from the League, but the discovery of oil in the interim has placed a different complexion upon the situation. The struggle for the control of oil-fields, so uncompromising in the world’s history, is about to be continued. Persons easily deceived are being told that “ small Abyssinia, a backward black race,” must be saved against the invader ; last time it was on behalf of “ poor little Belgium “ that we intervened. The Minister for Commerce this afternoon voiced the hope that perhaps the victory of Italy at Adowa and other points on the battlefront will open the way for negotiation leading to the cessation of hostilities, and that the three important nations - Britain, France., and Italy - may then divide Abyssinia between them in an equal proportion, thus sharing Abyssinia’s economic resources.


– The Minister for Commerce made no such statement.


– But. that is the implication.


– Suspicion haunts the guilty mind.


– Suspicion is a forerunner of all wars. Sir Stafford Cripps, K.C., an eminent figure of the British Labour party, has stated -

The League has become the tool of the satiated Imperialistic Powers. Mussolini will probably drive a bargain with his fellow members of the International Burglars Union, who have momentarily turned policemen.

Britain and France filling the role of policemen, may be expected to enter into an alliance with the burglar, Italy, and arrange a division of the spoils. This suspicion has culminated in one of the most sordid disputes in the history of international diplomacy. The reply of the British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Sir ‘Samuel Hoare, handed to the French Ambassador in London last week, fully justifies the recent verdict of one of the most eminent of international observers, Mr. Frank H. Simonds, that the Geneva system has relapsed into the old system of balance of power, in which the “ haves “ in the enjoyment of the “ pleasant but precarious “ fruits of the last war are intent upon denying justice to the “ havenots “ under the dubious banner of peace. The Prime Minister, in his statement to the House, said, “ The only assurance I gave to the British Government was that so long as its attitude towards peace continued, I would guarantee that the Government and the people of Australia would stand behind Britain up to the hilt,.” But it is no longer a matter of peace. The issue is definitely one of sanctions and war. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has refused to table the text of the correspondence with Downing-street on the subject, and in the event of any question of interpretation subsequently arising, the people of this country will not know the extent of the culpability of the Government. As the Government has refused to stand up to the issue, Parliament itself must do so, and declare its policy. Sanctions, as Mr. Baldwin has said, mean war. Those who are working for sanctions are working for war. Whether they be Communists or anybody else, they are working for war, a war transferred from Africa to Europe and from Europe to all parts of the world.

Mr Thompson:

– What about the Labor Daily ?


– I am talking about sanctions. As I have stated, we on this side of the House believe, as do workers generally, that there should be no war. If Great Britain is in danger as the result of its present action, we must hand over the implements of war to Great Britain. If Great Britain agrees to apply sanctions in the event of aggression on the part of any country in Europe, as things stand at present Australia is committed to unconditional participation in every European war. The League system cannot end war, because the only weapon it can use either to bring about change or to prevent other nations from attempting it by aggression, is wai- or the threat of war. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) cannot get away from that. If all nations had laid down a policy of economic, financial and other sanctions, I would foe quite prepared to agree with every statement made by the honorable member. But his whole argument falls to the ground because great nations of the world, Germany, Japan and the United States of America, are not members of the League. The honorable member should agree with the members of the Labour party that, so far as this country is concerned, it will not be involved in any war. Mr. Baldwin, speaking in the House of Commons in July, 1934, said-

There is no such thing as a sanction that will work that does not mean war, or, in other words, if you are going to adopt a sanction you must prepare for war.

To use sanctions is to attempt to coerce a sovereign State against its will, and that means war if the power or powers in question resist. In other words, in the last resort the instrument of the League is war. It is not a peace system; it is only a system for making war an instrument of collective instead of national policy. The sanctions provided, for under article 16 presuppose a League of which all the great powers are loyal members, universal disarmament, and a general willingness to submit disputes to third-party investigation and report. “ Collective security “ is what members of the League are driven to fall back upon when the fatal element of State sovereignty has carried three or four great powers outside the League, because they are dissatisfied with the status quo or the prospect of its being altered by the League. “ Collective security “, then, tends to mean little more than a military alliance to prevent the status quo being altered hy war. Sanctions, economic and otherwise, may be effective enough when the great powers are united in coeroing a small power; but when the delinquent is a great power, sanctions spell war of a most formidable kind.

It is beyond us to describe the horrors of such a war upon the human family. Yet the Government seems to treat this matter lightly by saying it proposes to do this and this, and instead of taking the people into its confidence, maintains an attitude of secrecy. In the first place, “ collective security “ tends to become no more than a military combination of the nations whose security and possessions are menaced by powerful nations outside the League. In the second place, “ collective security “ is not a peace system; it is a system for using war or a threat of war as the instrument of collective policy. Like the old alliance system it may simply become an agency for turning every local dispute into a world war, and constitute a greater danger, not only to this country but also to every other country in the world. The danger of a world issue developing into a world war, I believe, was Lord Morley’s fear about the League, when he said that while it might prevent some local wars, it might multiply world wars. Already Europe is a net-work of so-called regional pacts for the maintenance of the status quo, nominally independent of one another, but really part of an indivisible whole through the Covenant and the Locarno Pact. Not peace but liability to war is inherent in any system of “ collective security.”

So far as the members of the Labour party are concerned, we repudiate the vote given by Mr. Bruce last Monday and deplore the fact that Mr. Bruce should be the first to step in and say that Italy is the aggressor nation. Who gave him authority to speak for Australia? Did this Government give him the power to define Australia’s attitude? Ministers say that this Government has never given him that power; but Mr. Bruce has said that he was empowered to say “ Yes “ on behalf of the people of this country.

Mr Fisken:

– Would the honorable member have had him say “ No “?


– I would tell him to mind his own business. If this Government has not authorized Mr. Bruce to speak on its behalf, he has no more right to commit Australia than I have.

Mr Bernard Corser:

– Is the honorable member speaking for the Labour movement ?


– We on this side, unlike the Country party, form a united Opposition, and on this matter our forces cannot be divided. So far as the Labour movement is concerned we adhere to the policy put forward by the Leader of the New South Wales Labour party (Mr. Beasley). In that policy first the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) and then the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) concurred. Thus a’s a united Opposition we call upon the workers of this country to resist with all the power at their disposal an attempt to embroil Australia in this dispute. Honorable members opposite have quoted miners’ resolutions and resolutions passed by other (bodies to prove that there is no unity in the rank and file of the Labour movement in regard to thi3 matter. At Weston in the northern coalfields the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) and I met the miners face to face on this issue and the policy enunciated by the honorable member for Hunter and myself, that the rank and file of the Labour movement was averse from any participation by Australia in this conflict, was endorsed unanimously. Honorable members opposite have received letters from working class organizations on this matter and have brazenly claimed that the Labour movement supports the action of the Government. They will use any weapon in an attempt to divide the forces of Labour, but despite their efforts the Labour movement is solid in its support of the policy of the honorable member for West Sydney as will no doubt be shown to-morrow night at a special meeting of the Labour Council to be held in Sydney, when it will be determined what action the workers will take to carry into effect the policy already adopted by them in opposition to participation in war. Will they say “No goods for Italy or Abyssinia “ ? And if they refuse to man ships carrying such goods how far will the Government go with its economic sanctions? If the workers refuse to man ships carrying food for the combatants on either side, the Government will no doubt cause them to be arrested under some section of the Crimes Act. I support fully the statement made by the leader of my party. On this occasion the Communists are not with us on this side of the House. They are, so the Minister for Commerce declares, with honorable members opposite, who are pleased to have them with them. Our policy is clear and definite. The honorable member for West Sydney is to be congratulated upon his concrete exposition of it and I am pleased to be associated with him.

AttorneyGeneral · Kooyong · UAP

– I had not intended to occupy the time of the House at this stage of the debate, but it seems to me that, having regard to some of the speeches already made, one or two reasoned observations might not be out of place. All honorable members will agree that the issue which underlies this debate is the gravest that any parliament could be called upon to discuss ; and because it is the gravest of all political issues, it is one upon which we must all endeavour to reach, and, if necessary, to express, carefully reasoned views. No passionate statement of the case on this matter can be of much use, whether the passion be manifested on one side or the other. All parties and all members of this House are, I hope, agreed that we must bend all our efforts to the preservation of peace. Every citizen of this country wants peace. This being so, the real problem that confronts this House and the British Empire is to ensure the effective and smooth working of the machinery of peace.

I paid the closest attention to the speeches that have been made in general support of the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and I propose, at the outset, to deal very briefly and in chronological order, with the two principal points which have been put forward by the Opposition. The first point was that made by the mover of the amendment when he said that the only course for Australia to follow was to declare its neutrality. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) also argued for neutrality but his argument - I hope I do no injustice to it - went the length of saying that this country must not, in any circumstances, resort to war.

Mr Ward:

– He did not say that.

Mr Garden:

– I was referring to war outside Australia.


– I feel sure that I have not misrepresented the honorable member. The honorable member for West Sydney did not go quite so far. He said Australia must declare its neutrality in relation to any war existing outside of its boundaries. That, I suggest, is a perfectly accurate and fair statement of the views which he put forward. No doubt it is a very attractive argument to suggest that Australia should keep out of the world’s troubles; to declare definitely that by our own voluntary act we intend to stand aside and take no part in world affairs. Whilst, as I have said, this may, on the face of it, be an attractive proposition, it calls for a reasoned answer, which, I suggest, is not far to seek, when we consider that the Commonwealth is not a detached or independent entity in world affairs; that it is part of the British Empire or, if honorable members prefer the modern jargon, part of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Mr Brennan:

– The British Empire and the British Commonwealth of Nations are two entirely different things.


– If the_ honorable member suggests that there is an arguable variation in the meaning of the term “ British Commonwealth of Nations “ I am quite prepared to meet him on that ground by asking him - What is it that binds together the British Commonwealth of Nations ? (What is it that has not been set aside by the Balfour Declaration of 1926, and the Statute of Westminster? The thing that has not been set aside is our common allegiance to the common Crown. Let me remind my honorable and learned friend that in the preamble to the Commonwealth Constitution it is recited that we have agreed to unite together under the Crown of the United Kingdom. Thus the Crown of the United Kingdom is the Crown of Australia. We have in common one king - the king of the whole British Commonwealth of Nations. Thus we may test the neutrality argument by asking - How is it possible, with, one king who makes peace or war, for the Crown to be at war in relation to Great Britain, and at peace in relation to the Commonwealth of Australia?


– How does the Minister explain article 9 of the Pact of Locarno, which exempts any of the British dominions from any commitments entered into by the British Government?


– Articles 8 and 9 of the Pact of Locarno are quite intelligible on the view which I am developing - a view which I venture to say is accepted by all the British constitutional authorities, with one exception - General Hertzog. I say quite frankly that General Hertzog expresses the view, and his opinion is to be respected, that we have not one but several kings, who happen to coincide in the person of His Majesty King George V. General Smuts holds the contrary view.

I suggest that the possession of great erudition is not necessary to enable people to make up their minds on this simple issue. All they need ask themselves is - How can one king be at peace and at war at the same time? As Professor Berriedale Keith has said in his latest work on this subject- I quote this because, if I may say so, it entirely represents my own considered view - “ For a dominion to declare its neutrality in a war to. which the British Crown is a party would be tantamount to secession “.

Mr Ward:

– The Privy Council has declared that the Statute of Westminster gives the dominions the right to secede.


– I hope that I shall be excused from the necessity for carrying on a recondite legal argument with the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward).

Mr Beasley:

– The Minister is now giving us a display of his superiority complex.


– That, I suggest, is only to be expected in the circumstances.

Mr Beasley:

– Perhaps it is, but the Attorney-General’s sarcasm is uncalled for.


– I shall be very interested, as this debate proceeds, to hear any honorable member opposite quote any respectable authority on this matter in support of views contrary to those which I am putting before the House. I should also be interested to hear any real legal argument on this Question, which transcends mere technicalities and deals essentially with first principles as they affect our constitutional relations with the Mother Country.

Mr Beasley:

– But this may affect human lives.,


– It is because the whole problem affects human lives that I am constrained to ascertain what is meant by some of the views that have been expressed in this debate. The first thing which we should remember is that as a Commonwealth we. cannot be at the same time in the British Commonwealth of Nations and out of it. If we declare our neutrality in a matter that affects Great Britain, and in relation to which Great Britain is at war, we should be prepared to face the consequences. The moment that we declare our neutrality we should be ready, to use a homely metaphor, to paddle our own canoe, and to paddle it carrying a weight of armaments that would threaten to sink it at any moment.

Let. us be clear on this point. Neutrality cuts both ways. If we shrug our shoulders at war problems which vitally affect the Government of Great Britain, if in such circumstances, we refuse to assume any responsibility, why should Great Britain assume a responsibility for Australia? I entirely fail to understand how those who advocate a policy of separatism and independence in relation to certain war problems of tlie Mother Country can also criticize this Government for defence expenditure “which is not one-tenth of the amount that would be necessary if we stood outside the British Commonwealth of Nations. In view of what has been said with regard to the Locarno Pact we must, of course, distinguish between neutrality and non-participation. It is no mere academic distinction. On the contrary, it is a distinction of great moment. It is the responsibility of this Parliament to declare the extent to which Australia shall participate in any war to which the British Commonwealth of Nations is a party.

Between the policy of neutrality and that of non-participation there is a gulf as enormous as that between the views expressed by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and the point of view of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). Let me turn for a moment to the argument of the Leader of the Opposition. I hope I do him no injustice, when I say that, put shortly, his view was this : general support of, and moral pressure through, the organization of the League of Nations - yes; the upholding of the Kellogg Pact - yes ; but war, or anything leading to war - no, because the Kellogg Pact has expressed renunciation of war. I hope that I am doing no injustice to the honorable member in putting, in an extremely cursory way, what I took to be the main point of his speech.

A few days ago the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) addressed a question upon this subject, so it is fitting that I should remind the House of the responsibility which Australia, as a party to that pact, has accepted. Article 1 reads as follows : -

The high contracting parties solemnly declare, in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war foi the solution of international controversies, and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.

If that article stood alone the argument might very ‘well lie that by agreements made subsequent to die Covenant of the League of Nations, we had put it out of the power of any nation to give effect to article 16 in the Covenant. But that is not the whole of the agreement.

After setting out the signatories, the preamble to the Treaty for the Renunciation of War, known commonly as the “ Kellogg Pact,” states -

Deeply sensible of their solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind;

Persuaded that the time has come when a frank renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy should be made to the end that the peaceful and friendly relations now existing between their peoples may be perpetuated ;

Convinced that all changes in their relations with one another should be sought only by pacific means and be the result of a peaceful and orderly process, and that any signatory power which shall hereafter seek to promote its national interests by resort to war should be denied the benefits furnished by this treaty.


– I always thought that the preamble was not part of an act.


– Then the honorable member will be enlightened. These international bargains, conventions or agreements do not spring into existence overnight. The Kellogg Pact was fathered by the United States of America in correspondence which occurred in relation to the draft treaty between the United States of America Charged’Affaires in London and Sir Austin Chamberlain, who then represented the Government of Great Britain, and also the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. The qualification contained in the preamble was referred to and emphasized by documents exchanged between tlie parties setting out their understanding of what the Kellogg Pact meant. A cablegram was sent by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth to the Secretary of State for Dominions Affairs on the 17th July, 1928, before Australia’s signature was attached. He said -

His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia have given most careful consideration to the note of 23rd June last, communicated by the United States Charged Affaires in London to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and to the revised draft treaty which accompanied that note.

They accept the assurance given by Mr. Kellogg that the right of self-defence” of a signatory State will not be impaired in any way by the acceptance of the proposed treaty.

They have observed that in the abovementioned note of 23rd June of the United States Charge-d’Affaires in London it is stated that the preamble of the -revised treaty gives express recognition to the principle that if one signatory Sta.te resorts to war in violation of the treaty the other signatory States will be released from their obligations under the treaty to that State. They accept this declaration that the preamble in this respect is to be taken as a part of the substantive provisions of the treaty itself.

The Commonwealth Government have particularly examined the treaty from the point of view of its relationship to the Covenant of the League of Nations, and in this connexion they have come to the conclusion that it is not inconsistent with the latter instrument.

The Commonwealth accepted the assurance given by the Kellogg Pact that the right of self-defence was not impaired. It has observed the provisions of that pact, because it recognizes the principle that, if one signatory State resorts to war in violation of the treaty, every other signatory State is released from its obligations under the treaty. The Commonwealth accepted the declaration that the preamble in this respect was to be taken as part of the substantive provisions of the treaty itself. The Commonwealth Government, after having particularly examined the treaty from the point of view of its relationship to the Covenant of the League of Nations, came to the conclusion that it was not inconsistent with the latter instrument. That indication was reproduced to the American Charge-d’ Affaires by the British Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, and, after its reception and the clear statement of the sense in which we regarded the Kellogg Pact, we signed it and the United States of America affixed its signature. Of what use is it to say that the effect of the Kellogg Pact is that whenever an international breach has occurred Australia is bound and all other signatories are bound not to resort to war ? On the contrary, we still remain bound in the right circumstances to take all action contemplated in article 16 of the Covenant, if such action is required. I do not propose to say anything- more about these two matters. I just want to say a few words on the main question.

So far I have been refuting what I believe to be fallacious arguments. 1 propose now to give a very brief affirmative statement of the position as I see it.

Mr Brennan:

– That is what we have been waiting for.

Mr Rosevear:

– On behalf of the Government ?


– I have no fear that the Government will repudiate anything that I say on this matter.

Mr Brennan:

– That means that the honorable member is not going to say much.


– If anything I have said establishes anything, our policy in relation to the peace of the world, so long as we remain in the British Commonwealth of Nations, is inextricably bound up with the policy of Great Britain. That, I imagine, does not call for explanation; it brings great comfort to me. Consequently, when we discuss the machinery of peace, we have to discuss it essentially from the point of view of what is the best available means of ensuring peace to the British Empire. I can see only three possible courses for the British Empire to follow; only three possible policies for it to adopt. The first is to do what the Beaverbrook Press in England suggests. Adopt a policy of splendid isolation, a policy of saying to the world : “ We are tired of your squabbles and affairs and are prepared no longer to undertake any responsibilities for your peace. We shall withdraw from your alliances and cease to have anything to do with any form of defences except our own defences in our own territories “. There certainly ia an heroic ring about that policy, but, if it is to be attuned to hard actualities, we must at least understand what it means. It means that if Great Britain is to be splendidly isolated in the world, it must be prepared to defend itself against any collection of nations which might reasonably be expected to engage in hostilities against it. The Empire must be prepared not to disarm, but to reshape its navy on a two-power basis.

Mr Brennan:

– Oh; a two-power basis ?


– Yes. Does the honorable member suggest that Greater Britain should adopt a policy of splendid isolation side by side with a policy of devastating disarmament? if he does, I know of no better answer than that given recently while I was in London by Mr. J. L. Garvin : “ This policy is the very ecstasy of suicide “. We must keep our attention on what is practical, and 1 insist, if that is not too strong a word to use, that honorable members who believe in that policy should face up to the significance of it, and to the fact that it would involve most extensive measures of re-armament and most ruinous pressure of expenditure. The second course open to Greater Britain Ls a policy of selected alliances. We are extremely ill-informed about the modern history of Europe if we do not realize that this age-old and dishonored business of keeping the balance of power by selected alliances has been more productive of war than anything we have ever known.

Honorable members interjecting,


– I am very glad to know that honorable members do not stand for that. It is very refreshing to know that we have such unanimity on the proposition that the old-fashioned alliances are productive of disaster. We come now to the only alternative to “ splendid isolation,” and “ selected alliances “. That alternative is to achieve collective security by endeavouring to get agreements for peace to which all the great powers will be parties.

Mr Ward:

– A great idea.


– There is a good deal more in common between rational men on this matter than they have been disposed to admit even to themselves. Collective security connotes agreements to which all the powers are parties and are prepared to adhere. This leaves only one further proposition. When we have all the great powers in agreement for peace, all must be prepared even to resort to war in order to prevent a defaulter from disturbing the bargain that has been made.

Mr Ward:

– That savours of gangs.


– I cannot bandy words with the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) about gangs because he knows more about gangs than T do.

Mr Beasley:

– The honorable member has defended more gangs than the honorable member for East Sydney knows.

Mr Ward:

– The Melbourne Club gang.


– Order.


– The honorable member makes me sorry that I do not belong to the Melbourne Club. Admittedly the system of collective security cannot be made 100 per cent, effective until all the great powers are prepared to become parties to it and to remain parties to it. It is agreed that the League of Nations falls short of that ideal. The United States of America does not belong to it; Germany is not a member, and neither is Japan. It is perfectly true that there is no man who is conscious of the struggle for peace who does not say “ Let us go on year after year trying to bring Germany and Japan back to membership and to induce America, the father of the League, to own its own son “. This is the nub of the question. Are we to be told that because the League in its present state is not the perfect instrument that we would like, we must throw it overboard; that because the League is not fully grown we must destroy it. To desert the League of Nations because it is not fully grown to-day would be in my opinion a betrayal of the inteersts of the Future. It is the Commonwealth’s individual duty as a nation just as it is the individual duty of any nation that to-day is a party to the League of Nations, to say “ Every effort we can put forward in the direction of ensuring peace through the League of Nations we shall put forward.” The only alternative is that we shall say, “ The League is an imperfect thing and we shall wash our hands of it. Its Covenant is not completely operative, therefore we shall disown it.” Can Australia honestly remain a member of the League of Nations and at the same time deny the obligations of membership?

Mr Brennan:

– No.


– I agree with the honorable member, and consequently Australia has the grim choice between remaining in the League to assist it to grow into the power it ought to be, or resigning its membership and saying that it will have nothing more to do with it. If the latter course is the right one for Australia to adopt, it would also be the right policy for Great Britain, South Africa, and Canada, and, indeed, every other nation belonging to the League to-day to adopt. If that policy be adopted, it will destroy completely the one conspicuous, modern attempt to make the securing of peace the collective responsibility of all the powers. Are we to take that risk or are we to say that we shall retain our membership of the League with a full consciousness of the responsibility which such a declaration involves ?

Batman · UAP

.- The Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) spoke at length on this subject, and quoted the opinions of many persons and authorities without disclosing any opinion of his own, if, in fact, he has one upon this subject. The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) candidly declared his opinion upon the constitutional aspect, but it was unsupported by any authority other than himself. The Minister for Defence, in a characteristic utterance, in the course of which he made play upon an alleged conflict of opinion between different newspapers, referred to the fact that at the beginning of the world war a Labour Prime Minister had pledged Australia’s last man and last shilling in the contest. The Minister said that honorable members on this side of the chamber who had referred to that fact did not disclose that it was a Labour Prime Minister who had made the pledge.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– I said that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) made that statement. I was repeating his words.


– Four and a half years of war and the light which history has shed upon it, its causes and effects have taught something to the members of the Labour party, as well as others. The ignoble origin of war - which could not be freely stated at the time - its futile progress, the disgraceful manoeuvring for front seats at the Peace Conference at Versailles, and the greed with which victors contended for the larger share of the spoils, including the illdisguised annexation of territories in the name of mandates - all these things have been a liberal education to the members of the Labour party, as well as to others, and that is my answer to the Minister for Defence, who thinks that we are ashamed or afraid to mention the unfortunate fact that it was a Labour Prime Minister who pledged Australia to the last men and the last shilling in the waging of that disastrous conflict. To-day the members of the Labour party, and hundreds of thousands of others who are not members, revolt with disgust and abhorrence at the notion of another carnival of horror and human debasement. The Prime Minister - he must not be forgotten when these great guns are booming from the front ministerial bench - .gave the House an assurance that he had not pledged Australia to war. I accept the right honorable gentleman’s assurance subject only to the qualification that I doubt if he fully appreciates what committing Australia to war really means. He may not realize that mere acquiescence in statements made, failure to declare his own positive determination, and subservience to the judgment of others, may at least tend strongly in the direction of committing Australia to another world war. He suggested that he might have committed Australia if he had so wished, but that he forebore and should be praised for his moderation. The central fact is that he has no authority and no moral right to pledge Australia to war, particularly in secret conclave with statesmen meeting in conference beyond the shores of Australia - a. conclave of statesmen not responsible for the maintenance of Australian integrity and safety. He has no commission or mandate from the people of Australia, and he would not dare to compromise his policy by asking for it. Nothing less than a decisive declaration of the whole of the people of Australia could or should pledge this country to war on foreign battlefields. I would resist such a declaration with all the powers of persuasion at my command, and if it were proposed to support such a declaration by conscription, such as was proposed and implemented by the right honorable the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes), when Prime Minister, I would employ not only the powers of persuasion but also physical resistance on the ground that such a policy is a breach of trust on the part of the Government and an act of treachery to its people, amounting as it does to a declaration of war against them. For that reason I should feel bound to advocate physical as well as moral resistance. I trust that nothing that I shall say this evening will be taken as approval of the action of the Italian dictator in Abyssinia. It would be splitting straws to differentiate between his policy and one of cold-blooded assassination. I am not unmindful of the attitude which we ought to adopt so far as our powers extend towards the smaller nations. But I am bound to admit that the traditional policy of imperialism is that which is being followed oy the Italian dictator in Abyssinia. That policy has always proceeded upon the asis that might is right. It received endorsement quite recently in the words of the Prime Minister when he said “ The result of the colonial enterprises of Great Britain, Prance and Italy was that the ancient empire of Ethiopia was deprived of all its sea coast and completely surrounded by the colonies of these three powers”. That statement is characteristic of imperial development. It is the policy of France in Morocco, of Britain in India and in Africa, and as a matter of fact of all other imperialistic countries. These various wrongs, even though multiplied tenfold as they might be, do not make right an invasion vi et armis of another country having its own form a government, primitive as it is, and which is itself a member of the League of Nations, concerning which we hear so much.

I acknowledge that a better distribution of the world’s population is a very serious problem and one in which Australia must be deeply interested. It is a problem which we shall discuss at a more appropriate time, but it does not arise just now. I shall never subscribe to the doctrine that the proper way to civilize and uplift a backward people is the use of modern methods of destruction and torture. Neither will I admit that such a policy necessitates ruthless torture and destruction not only of combatants in the field, but also of noncombatants including women and children. Poison gas and the bayonet cannot be the appropriate instruments of missionary zeal. It was suggested by the right honorable the Prime Minister when he spoke on the 23rd September that none of the Covenants of the League had been broken. It was a very technical point, but it has ceased to apply now. History has marched rapidly since then, but even when the right honorable member spoke 250,000 men were massed on the Ethiopian frontiers, and we had had the expressed declaration of the Italian dictator that he claimed the moral right to exercise military force upon the Ethiopian people in a spirit of vengeance and destruction- - vengeance because he expressly referred to “ wiping out the shame of adowa.” It is shameful that in 1935 any public man should declare that he is justified in massing troops and marching upon practically defenceless towns to destroy their inhabitants because of an alleged insult suffered at the hands of a previous generation 40 years ago. Further comments upon that aspect of the subject do not seem necessary. But deeply as I deplore the fascist policy in Italy and Germany, and in Australia, too, and deeply as I feel the claims of a small and weak nation I still say that our policy must be one of non-participation. The Attorney-General and other honorable members opposite may rest assured that I do not ask Australia to sever its connexion with the League of Nations, or to shirk its obligations under the Covenant of the League. I ask Australia intelligently to understand its obligations, and to apply its understanding in the spirit of thatgreat Englishman, Viscount Cecil, who has declared -

The League is not a super State. Its method is not the method of coercive government, it is the method of consent, and its executive instrument is not force, but public opinion.

The Australian working class movement cannot despise an international organization which recognizes “Australia, a nation “. In fact, the League of Nations recognized “ Australia, a nation “ before Australia recognized itself as a nation. In that respect the League in 1920 acted in advance of the constitutional position which Australia has since won for itself by common consent. Australia has always been a nation in the eyes of the League of Nations.

The League has other aims besides those of international peace, though let us hope that that is its greatest ideal. Every year the Labour movement of Australia has sent delegates to the International Labour organization. Even countries that have left the League, as well as the United States of America, which was never a member of it, are still represented on that organization. It has been rightly said, and I agree, that the League concerns itself with many activitires on a broad human basis. I refer to such matters as the health of the people, intellectual co-operation, traffic in women, traffic in drugs, slavery, child welfare, and the oppression of minorities - such as the Jews, who were driven out of Germany in circumstances of almost unexampled brutality. Labour cannot ignore the benefits of collaboration in these matters, even though, as is the fact, the League has failed to recognize the ultimate objective of the Labour movement of the world, namely, a new and an improved social order. It is only fair to say, too, that the League has to its credit a list of achievements in the settlement of disputes. It has achieved a fair measure of conciliation. It has done good work, which has received far less advertisement than has its failure to achieve success, as usually happens, as well with persons as with- nations. It has set up a Permanent Court of International Justice, composed for the most part, I hope and believe, of fair-minded, highlyinformed men, who have done a service to the world by their decisions upon vexed international questions. Speaking at Geneva when I had the honour to attend the Assembly of the League on the 15th September, 1930, 1 said -

Tlie change of government in Australia is not to be taken as a change of heart in regard to the fundamental object of the League, unless it be that the present administration stands more deeply committed than any of its predecessors to a policy of ultimate disarmament and the outlawing of war.

So far as I know, that is still the policy of the Labour party. I, of course, .admit a great deal of what my friends of the New South Wales Labour party have said with such spirit; but I cannot conceive that we should say that it is in any sense necessary in existing circumstances for us to dissociate ourselves from the work of the League.

That brings me to what should be our attitude in the present trouble. The question should be answered as the AttorneyGeneral sought to answer it, by reference to our constitutional position and to our geographical position as well. Let me remind honorable members that by common consent we are an autonomous community, equal in status with Great Britain, with whose people we are freely associated. The Right Honorable the Prime Minister is well aware of that. He knows that the King is, inter aiia, king of the British dominions beyond the seas.

Let me deal with the Attorney-General in association with some observations made by Admiral Sir Howard Kelly, which were reported in the Melbourne Argus of the 28th September last. In the course of a very long speech that gentleman said -

When any portion of the Empire is at war, the whole Empire is at war. If one side declares war, the other side is at war, in spite of any desires they may have to the contrary. Any nation declaring war against any portion of the Empire declares war against all”

I say that that statement is fundamentally incorrect. It is based on a misconception which dies hard but is none the less a misconception, just as it is entirely a misconception on the part of the Attorney-General to assume that Australia has not the right or the authority te declare war or peace for itself. The King is expressly Emperor of India and of other dependent states. But, as everybody knows, the term “ Empire “ is no longer in any way appropriate to our position as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I should suppose that that fact had now become elementary. In London, at conferences which I have attended, at Geneva, in Australia, in the whole world, Australia has become recognized as a nation, competent to speak for itself upon all questions whatsoever; among others, to declare war or peace.

I challenge the Attorney-General to produce a conclusive authority for the statement that he made. He takes refuge in the fact that the King, who is King of Australia and is advised by Australian Ministers, is also King of Great Britain and of the other dominions), and he asks us how we can have this one lang if we are capable of speaking authoritatively and independently as separate nations. The honorable gentleman is surely endeavouring to take refuge by driving me into a position which I decline to occupy, that of speaking with disrespect of His Majesty the King, or derogating from the authority and the importance of His Majesty’s position, which is held in very high respect by the great majority of the people of this country. Whether the kingship happens to reside in one person., or is distributed over any number of persons, it is nevertheless a fact which I challenge the Attorney-General to controvert, that for all purposes Australia is an independent nation, and as such has the constitutional power, backed by every constitutional authority worth quoting, to declare war or peace and to do anything else that affects the people of Australia.

Mr Menzies:

– Legally speaking, that is nonsense.


– If that be the challenge, let it be met here. I invite the honorable gentleman to produce a letter from London, countersigned by British Ministers, stating that Australia has no authority to remain out of this war. Let us see what he would be game to do in such circumstances; whether, when the test was applied, he would range himself on the side of Mr. Thomas and other British Ministers, or would be found upholding Australia’s right to control its own destiny in all things, and especially in the most important thing that can possibly affect it - the right to declare war or peace.

Mr Menzies:

– I deny Australia’s right to go mad.


– That is purely rhetorical. It is true that, in the past, we have only too light-heartedly allowed others to declare war for us. I venture to assert that this Government would do so again. But that is our complaint ; that is our trouble. But that is not to say that Australia has not the right and the power to take such action for itself. A declaration of non-participation is not only within our rights, but it would be our best contribution to world peace.

Mr Menzies:

– I admitted that it is within our rights.


– So far as we have forfeited our constitutional right to declare war or to make peace, that position has arisen not out of constitutional law, but by reason of “ the craven fear of being great “ which has characterized governments such as that which now occupies the ministerial bench.

I would point out that this is not an unfriendly position to take up towards our friends in Great Britain. They realize that. On the contrary, we accept by such means the responsibility for

Australia, and to that extent relieve Great Britain of such responsibility. We accept that responsibility the more readily in that non-participation in foreign wars is the strongest guarantee that we could give to the world for the maintenance of peace in Australia. On the other hand - I ask the AttorneyGeneral and those who believe with him to note this - all our costs of blood and of treasure have sprung from our interference in old-world conflicts. If only this Government and other administrations which preceded it had divested themselves of their inferiority complex, had realized that the spirit of dependency is different from the spirit of loyalty ; that the shirking of obligations is different from the discharge of them ; that leaning on one’s neighbour or one’s mother does not necessarily mean the loving of one’s neighbour or one’s mother; in a word, that Australia has its own legs to stand on, and its own brain to direct whither those legs shall take it, how much better it would be for Australia.

Non-participation is entirely in accordance with our responsibilities as a member of the League of Nations. That leads me to state what our responsibilities are under that instrument, amended and amplified as it has been. They are set out, but not wholly, in the Covenant. They are set out also in the amendments that have been made to the Covenant and in various agreements to which Australia with other members of the League was a signatory. The Attorney-General has referred to some of them. All these amendments and amplifications were designed to end war, and thus to give effect to Labour policy. They were conceived in the spirit of peace. But the Covenant, which was a part of the Treaty of Versailles, was not conceived in the spirit of peace. There brooded over the conference the spirit of hatred and revenge, and huckstering foi’ territorial profit played its part. It was a war conference, and not a peace conference. The Covenant signed at the close of the war spoke in terms of war rather than of peace ; hence the inclusion of war sanctions out of harmony with modern thought such as we are dealing with to-night. These sanctions were substantially modified by subsequent agreements and pacts. Subse- quent sessions of the League during its operation over the last fifteen years have carried us much further along the road to peace. The Covenant has been expanded and affected, as I have indicated, by various agreements to which Australia is a party. Its terms have been modified and its spirit uplifted, especially, and vitally, by what has been referred to as the Kellogg Pact - the Pact of Paris. By that treaty, war iB finally outlawed, and it was agreed that the settlement of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or origin should never be sought except by pacific means. It is this treaty which is claimed by one authority, Phillip H. Kerr, in his introduction to Mr. Wheeler Bennett’s Renunciation of War to have “ come to be regarded by history as the real beginning of the end of that system of international intercourse, which has deluged Europe in blood every few decades since the fall of the Roman Empire “.

The Attorney-General quoted one clause of that pact. I meant to ask him at the time to quote the second clause, which definitely outlaws war in any circumstances, and informs the world that no means, other than pacific, are to be adopted. Yet the honorable gentleman, an eminent lawyer, in order to overcome the difficulties with which he is confronted on reference to the particularly clear and specific terms of this pact, refers us to the correspondence which took place antecedent to it.

Mr Menzies:

– Be fair; I referred to the preamble.


– It is a new form of legal interpretation to suggest that the preamble is the act. I have always been led to believe that the preamble to an aCt is not part of the act.

Mr Menzies:

– That is new to me.


– It may be; certainly the preamble to an act cannot be quoted in contradiction of the clear terms that follow in the act itself.


– The parties to this agreement agreed that the preamble was part of the bargain.


– The honorable gentleman referred to the correspondence which preceded the pact. My answer to his contentions in that respect is that we should be guided not by the finessing of diplomats, but by the clear and specific terms of the document as adopted, and nothing else. The Kellogg Pact outlaws war and clearly calls upon the signatories to resort only to pacific measures.

Article XVI. of the League of Nations Covenant, reads -

Should any member of the League resort to war in disregard of its Covenants under Articles XII., XIII. and XV. it shall, ipso facto be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other members of the League which hereby undertake immediately to subject it to the severance of all trade or financial relations, the prohibition of all intercourse between their nationals and the nationals of the Covenantbreaking State, and the prevention of all financial, commercial or personal intercourse between the nationals of the Covenant-breaking State and the nationals of any other State, whether a member of the League or not.

It shall be the duty of the council in such case to recommend to the several governments concerned what effective military, naval or air force, the members of the League shall severally contribute to the armed forces to be used to protect the Covenants of the League.

It will be seen that in certain circumstances, in case of rebellion against the League, it becomes the duty of the council to make recommendations as to the extent and the nature of the military and naval forces the nations of the League shall contribute to the armed forces to be used against the rebel. It may be hoped that such a recommendation will never be made or at all events, that it is remote. In any case no member is bound to accept it, and refusal to accept it is the right of every member of the League, under the constitution and rules of the League, without violation of its obligations as a member. Australia is not bound to accept such a recommendation. It has the right to have regard to its own special circumstances, to its own ideals and responsibilities and to its own geographical position, and to remember that it has subscribed to a bond to outlaw- war for ever under all conceivable circumstances, short of the invasion of our country as Abyssinia is being invaded. We are not threatened with invasion; we should so act as to put aside the danger, if not the possibility, of invasion.

Apart from military operations there are what are known as economic sanctions. These, I think, are our immediate danger, because unlike the military sanctions the economic sanctions come into operation at once upon the act of rebellion ou the part of one member of the League. (Leave to continue given.] Taking first the last part of the clause relating to economic sanctions, we observe that in the present trouble in Abyssinia, if economic sanctions were applied against Italy, in the spirit of the Versailles and not the Kellogg pacts, and we were a party to them, we would have to cease all personal communications, including social and business relations, with non-naturalized Italians in this country. We would be required to ostracize them, denying them the ordinary amenities to which ordinary law-abiding, taxpaying persons domiciled in Australia are entitled, whether naturalized or not. We should also have to destroy their business associations, if any, and do violence to their home life, and this notwithstanding that some of them may have contracted marriage with Australian girls some of whom may have become the mothers of Australian children. In spite of all this, we should be required to penalize and even ostracize them. This I personally would never in any circumstances consent to do. Remembering the last war and the vindictive policy of the then Commonwealth Government in allying itself with Italy in order to apply conscription to Italian nationals in this country, after the failure of the attempts to fetter conscription on Australians, I shall never share in (the odium of applying that policy to Italians in this country. It would serve no useful purpose to penalize innocent people in Australia because of the actions of a fascist dictator in Europe. Such a policy will get no support from the Australian Labour party, if I understand the policy of that party.

The same objections apply to the severance of business relations between Australia and Italy as to the application of military sanctions., and are much too strong to be overborne. Such a course would mean the harassing of Italians and possibly persons other than Italians resident in Australia who carry on business with Italy. It would also, as the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Curtin) has pointed out, embarrass and. penalize many people in Italy who groan under a fascist dictatorship, between whom and the

Labour movement of Australia there is much in common. For these reasons, 1 shall not agree to ‘that policy.

The fact that fascist bayonets are apparently directing the course of public opinion in Italy is no more proof that there is not a substantial minority against that form of government in that country than is the existence of the Lyons Government in Australia a proof that there is not a substantial body of public opinion in this country opposed to it. Moreover, the cessation of business relations with, and the penalizing of the’ nationals of a country, cannot be regarded as consistent with our obligations under the Pact of Paris, by which we have undertaken to use no other than pacific means against even a rebel nation, unless at least there is a positive act of war upon us. Unless such circumstances arise, we should not penalize another country by cutting off business relations with it. Surely it is straining international law to suggest that the severance of business relations with another country which has by the hypothesis committed an act of war on us is not tantamount to making war upon it! I submit that we should be making war on any country by cutting off business relations under such circumstances. That I shall never agree to do. The maintenance of peace in this country is our paramount duty as our contribution to the peace of the world. I have no doubt that the view I have outlined would be understood and highly appreciated by our friends in Great Britain. Our isolation from the theatre of war, and the urgent necessity to maintain our own country inviolate, place us in a position entirely different from that of Great Britain. We have no imperial relations, and we desire none. We have no unfriendly neighbours, and we have ample territory. I submit, therefore, that the maintenance of peace in this sector of the world should be our highest ideal. If we discharge our duty to our own people in this regard we shall discharge it, at the same time, to Great Britain, our friends on the other side of the world, the League of Nations, and humanity at large. Therefore, “no sanctions “ and “ non-participation “ should be at once the slogan and the ideal of Australia as a whole.

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– Tlie speech of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has placed before us a view somewhat different from that expressed previously in this debate. We must look at the subject, now, from the angle of our relationship with Great Britain. If I understand the position correctly, the subject originally under our consideration was the attitude that the Commonwealth should adopt in respect to the strained relations in Europe and Africa arising out of the dispute between Italy and Abyssinia. With the object of clarifying the position of Australia a3 viewed hy his supporters, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) moved a certain amendment to the motion for the printing of the paper dealing with this dispute. We have just heard the honorable member for Batman outline what he claims to be the correct constitutional position. In the course of his speech, he contended that His Majesty the King can go a great deal further than the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) considered possible. The Attorney-General submitted that the King could not, at one and the same time, be at war and at peace; but the honorable member for Batman succeeded to the satisfaction of himself if not of other honorable members, in dividing His Majesty up into several kings. He submitted that the King could be at war or at peace, or both at war and at peace at the same time. We have to look at this contention, however, through the eyes of the people of another country which might be opposed to us in war.

Participation in war may be brought about in two ways: We may, by our own deliberate act, declare war on another country. That, I think, is most unlikely to occur. Secondly, we may be embroiled in hostilities by a declaration of war against Great Britain by some other power. I am unable to accept the contention of the honorable member for Batman - a contention which he did not support by the citation of a single authority - that any foreign nation will respect a declaration of neutrality on the part of one member of what people are pleased to call the British Commonwealth of Nations, while other parts of the Empire are at war.

The amendment invites us to agree that this Parliament - views with alarm the action of the British Admiralty in despatching H.M.A.S. Australia, with an Australian crew, to the war zone.

Let us assume, for a moment, that the Empire has become involved in hostilities with another country. Is it conceivable that that country .would accept a simple declaration of neutrality by us and distinguish between the white ensign flying on an Australian warship and the white ensign flying on a British warship? That is a ridiculous idea, and I am surprised that an honorable gentleman with the experience of the honorable member for Batman should ask us to accept it. There can be no doubt whatever that if the British Empire becomes involved in war, all parts of it also will he involved. The only point that would be left for this Parliament to decide in that circumstance would be the degree to which Australia should participate in the war as a member of the Empire. The necessity for such a decision has not yet arisen in this case, The point may be taken that Australian lives and Australian vessels are in danger in the Mediterranean to-day. That is quite possible. But I ask, what are vessels of war constructed for, and why do we engage crews to serve on them if they are not to enter danger zones? Honorable members may take the extreme view that, not only are ships of war exchanged between different parts of the Empire, but so also are officers belonging to other services. They might just as logically bring a motion before the House objecting to Australian soldiers serving on the north-west frontier of India. Sooner or later this matter of the relationship between the Commonwealth of Australia and the rest of the Empire must be clarified, but, in my opinion, the Statute of Westminster, instead of clarifying the position, has only made it more obscure. We cannot maintain the claim that, as members of the British Empire, we have the right to remain at peace while the Empire is at war. We have the right to determine the extent of our participation in any war, but no more.

As a nation, we have no close affinity with Abyssinia, and no real interest in its affairs. With much of what goes on in Abyssinia we, as a civilized people, may not agree; we might like to see many improvements effected in the internal conditions of that country, but that does not justify our interference in its affairs in one way or another. The present dispute, so far as we are concerned, involves something greater than the internal conditions prevailing in Abyssinia. The question before us is Australia’s responsibility, as a member of the League of Nations and of the British Empire, for the maintenance of peace. I have never been a supporter of the League of Nations; indeed, I have been one of its critics, but I believe that in the present dispute the League has come nearer to exercising a pacific influence than in any of the other similar issues that have engaged its attention. Much has been made of the failure of the League in regard to the Manchurian incident. I remind honorable members, however, that the League at no time agreed to apply sanctions to Japan, and so no need arose for action on the part of Australia or of any other member of the League. In any case, the position of Japan in the Ear East is so strong today that I do not think that any combination of powers would be capable of attacking that country successfully. Certainly our own country would be unequal to the task.

We have in this House to-day, in the person of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), a man whose signature is appended to the Covenant of the League of Nations. He has been noticeably silent on the question we are now discussing, and many thinking men would like to hear from him what, in his opinion, the powers really f meant the League of Nations to stand for at the time of its inauguration, and what he thinks of the manner in which the obligations imposed by the Covenant have been discharged by the various nations during the last 15 years.. I hope that this debate will not close before the right honorable member gives to the House the benefit of his views on these matters.

The amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) in effect asks us formally to declare our neutrality in the present conflict, and to state that we shall not support the imposition of sanctions under Article 16 of the Covenant. I remind the honorable member that, in the terms of the Covenant itself, it is necessary for a member of the League to give two years’ notice of its intention to resign. Therefore, we are in honour bound to stand in with the League, and to accept our obligations as members, at least until the expiration of two years from the present time, even if we signify immediately our intention to resign. Australia has a definite economic interest in the present dispute, because the security of our trade might well be threatened by prolonged hostilities in the vicinity of North Africa. It is necessary for us to market our produce overseas, and the shortest route is through the Red Sea, the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. We could not regard lightly the prospect of a hostile power closing that trade route against us.

The Leader of the Opposition, so far as I was able to understand him, advocated a policy of complete inaction, but I cannot imagine the Commonwealth, or any other power for that matter, being able to maintain an attitude of complete indifference to questions of peace and war in other parts of the world. Owing to improvements in the means of communication and transit, the world is tending to become more closely knit, and anything that affects one part of the world must inevitably have its repercussions in all other parts.

The Kellogg Pact has been mentioned during the course of this debate. I have studied that document carefully, and, in my opinion, it means that the signatories of the pact agree to renounce war unless and until one of their number breaks the pact by resorting to war. When that happens the others are released from their obligations under the pact, and are then forced back oh their obligations under Article 16 of the League Covenant. Mention has been made of the fact that four great powers - Japan, the United States of America, Germany and Italy - are not bound by the League of Nations. I see nothing strange in that, hut I cannot agree with the Leader of the Opposition that those four powers are likely to combine to defy any decision in the nature of sanctions which may be arrived at in Geneva. To assume that would be to assume that Japan will retreat from the attitude which it has adopted in regard to the coloured races of the world. It is clear that Japan is taking an active interest in the present Italo-Abyssinian dispute.

During the debate it has been pointed out that “Mr. Bruce, the Australian delegate at Geneva, was the first to cast his vote in favour of declaring Italy guilty of a breach of the Covenant of the League. He did so because the names of the countries are called in alphabetical order. The names of the members of the League are recorded in French, and had Germany been a member of the Council, Allemagne would have been called before Australie. I do not know of any member of the Council of the League which would precede Australia in an alphabetical list.

Sir Donald CAMERON:

– Albania would come before Australia.

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– Albania is not a member of the Council of the League of Nations. Surely no one would suggest that Mr. Bruce has an absolutely free hand to do what he likes at Geneva. Not only must he act on instructions received from the Commonwealth Government; he must also collaborate with other representatives of the British Empire.

The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) referred to the immediate operation of sanctions. I do not see how anything in the nature of sanctions can be applied until agreement has been reached regarding their nature; and only a full assembly of the League can determine that matter. I hope that a Minister will make clear to the House, and to the country, that the High Commissioner acts at Geneva only on instructions from the Commonwealth Government, and has not the right to commit Australia to a course of action of which the Government might not approve.

The honorable member for Batman also spoke of Australia’s attitude to war. I have not noticed any tendency on the part of the citizens of the Commonwealth to indulge in warfare, either as a pastime or as a profession; but I have noticed a general apathy on the part of Australians to the consequences of a policy of isolation. The honorable member said that the Commonwealth has a perfect right at any time to break away from the British Empire, or to engage in war, or to pursue a policy of peace.

Mr Brennan:

– I said that Australia was not part of an empire at all.

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– I disagree with the honorable member. Surely lie has forgotten the fate of many countries which trusted to the goodwill of other nations better armed and more populous. He must know what happened in America when the Spaniards came into conflict with the native inhabitants. It was then a case not of war, but of massacre. It is war only when men more or less similarly trained and equipped are opposed; it is not war when a trained and armed power is opposed to a people without arms.

The honorable member for Batman interjected that Australia is not a part of an empire at all. If what he says were true, and Australia had not behind it the weight of the Empire, this country would find the burden of providing for its own defence beyond its capabilities. It is useless to talk of fighting only when an enemy has landed on our shores.

Mr Brennan:

– In what way is Australia threatened?

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– There are some nations which I would not trust. Complaint has been made to-night regarding happenings in other parts of the world during recent years. One power which has never yet declared war has won several campaigns. It probably won them because it did not declare war. “Wc cannot afford to overlook the weakness of our position. If Australia were an independent country, and no longer a part of the British Empire, there would be good reason to fear invasion by some nation with land insufficient for its growing population.

The Government has said all that it can be expected to say at this stage regarding this dispute. To discuss the matter with absolute frankness would be to risk undesirable consequences. Whilst Ministers may have been justifiably discreet, I think that the Opposition should cease to criticize the Government. Last week members of the Opposition told us that when the House met to-day Australia would be at war, but that statement has been falsified. This country is no nearer being at war today than it was a week ago.

Mr Ward:

– What does article 16 of the Covenant mean?

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– Unless the League agrees to the application of sanctions, which must be denned, there is nothing for this Parliament to discuss. A great disservice is being done to Australia by the declaration that it is being committed to war without the knowledge of the people. What is most needed is a policy of moderation, and an inclination on the part of honorable members on the Opposition side to give the Government credit for being as anxious to assist Britain, to preserve world peace as they claim they would be if they were in power1.


.- The object of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) in submitting his amendment was to avoid Australia’s participation in the and to ascertain to what extent Australia had been committed; but little information has been gleaned regarding the latter aspect of the matter. I heard the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Page), in reply to the speech by the honorable member for West Sydney, say that the Government was hacked up by a number of trade unions. His remarks were amplified by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill), who said that the Miners Federation had declared itself behind the Government to the hilt in the enforcement of sanctions against Italy. That statement is not entirely correct-

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– I merely referred to newspaper reports.


– I have had a lifelong association with the Miners Federation, and I am sure that the rank and file of that organization are definitely against participation in any war beyond the shores of Australia. I have addressed a number of meetings since the Italo-

Abyssinian dispute has arisen, and I can confidently say that the miners support the attitude of the Labour party. The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) probably went a little further than any other Minister when he stated clearly that when Britain was at war, Australia was at war, and that the Government’s signature to any pact committed Australia to the pact and its consequences. This should not be so, because the principle has been established that the people of this country should be consulted before Australia is involved in any war.

The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) declared that there was no need to enforce sanctions against Japan when it took the bit into its mouth and threatened to annex certain provinces of China. Britain at that time was apparently unperturbed, and nothing was said about the application of sanctions. Why did it not then interpose with the same amount of energy as it has shown in the Italo-Abyssinian dispute? I can only assume that British commercial interests are involved to a greater extent now than they were when Japan invaded China. In the first place, the Commonwealth Government said that it would support Britain up to the hilt. Then we were told that it would stand behind Britain so long a? Britain strove for peace. Now, the Government announces that it will support Britain to the hilt while it stands for peace and.’ the observance of the Covenant of the League. We desire to know what the Government means. If it is supporting Great Britain and the League “up to the hilt” what does that imply? To what extent has the Government committed Australia in the international tragedy that is being enacted? We claim that we have the right to know how deeply we are involved in the proposed sanctions. Everybody must admit that the enforcement of sanctions actually means war. The clear and definite statement of Mr. Stanley Baldwin previously quoted was that any nation which enforces sanctions commits an act of war. Applying that pronouncement to the present circumstances, if a barrier is raised by the League in an effort to prevent Italy from conquering Abyssinia, Italy will make an attempt to blow the barriers out of the way, and will be at war with the nations that erected them. This is not a matter that has suddenly developed in the course of the last few months; it has been under consideration for a long time. The Minister for Defence took to task the Leader of the New South Wales Labour party (Mr. Beasley) for having said that the visit of Sir Maurice Hankey carried a military significance. That officer was supposed to have come here for the purpose of attending the Melbourne centenary celebrations, but it is remarkable that the ex-Minister for Defence (Senator Sir George Pearce) proceeded to a conference on defence matters in New Zealand. A secret conclave took place, at which, I understand, Sir Maurice Hankey was present. Prior to the Great War, leading militarists, including Lord Kitchener, came to this country to advise upon the preparation of its defences. Since the visit of Sir Maurice Hankey and others the Commonwealth’s expenditure on defence has been substantially increased. The significance of these facts cannot be overlooked. The enforcement of sanctions would perhaps be easier of accomplishment if all ‘the nations of the world were members of the League. But the United States of America, whose President, Mr. Woodrow Wilson, formulated the plan for the League of Nations, entirely disowned its own creation when Congress was requested to ratify the Covenant. The United States of America refused to be a member, of any international organization likely to involve its people in European quarrels, particularly those resulting from the issue of mandates over German colonies. Two other great powers, namely, Germany and Japan, have withdrawn from , the League, while Italy has practically disqualified itself from membership. To enforce sanctions without the cooperation of these nations who have proved themselves in war would be most difficult. We are aware that they would not be adverse from supplying ammunition to the belligerents. Some honorable members have made much of the contention that Australia cannot retain its freedom without being inside the British Commonwealth of Nations, and without the assistance of Great Britain. A survey of history will show that we are under no great obligation to Great Britain; on the contrary, we have .been involved in many wars in the making of which we had no voice Great Britain has not assisted materially in the rehabilitation of this country in spite of our sacrifice of human lives and huge expenditure on the Great War. We have to go cap in hand begging for the right to share in British markets, whereas other countries which were never involved in war for the protection of Britain, and which repudiated in respect of both the interest and the principal of their loans from Great Britain - I refer particularly to Argentina and Russia - receive more favorable trade agreements than Australia. This reminds me of a cartoon that I saw published in the Daily Guardian. It depicted John Bull with the Union Jack wrapped about his abdomen, negotiating with an Argentinian coolie for a trade agreement in regard to meat and wheat. An Australian soldier, with his family in rags and tatters, was appealing to John Bull for some consideration to enable him to sell his wheat and other commodities. To John Bull he said, “ Can you spare me any time to make a trade agreement?” John Bull replied, “It will be all right for you, Aussie; we shall find something for you to do in the next war “. That summarizes the present position. Britain has need of Australia only in war-time. When Britain is involved in trouble it expects Australia to be drawn into the conflict. The Attorney-General stated that when the British Government declares war, or the King is at war, Australia automatically is at war also. That may be the legal position; if it is, it is altogether wrong. Australia should not become involved in any war. We cannot afford it, and we had a bitter experience of the last war. The amount of money which we expended in that struggle was £853,000,000, and to-day we are still staggering under a huge burden of indebtedness. Approximately £200,000,000 is still owing. Remembering that 60,000 of the flower of Australian manhood lost their lives and 72,000 more were crippled, we should avoid another struggle. The promises made to our soldiers were wilfully and deliberately repudiated in respect of the claims of dependants of men who died on active service. The Premiers plan did not reduce the interest on overseas bonds, purchased for war purposes. This debt was described as an “ honorable contract, not to be repudiated”, but the same plan took no cognizance of life and limb and imposed severe hardships on pensioners. That indicates to me and to everybody else that interest-bearing securities are honorable contracts not to be broken, but human life is merely a secondary consideration.


– Is not payment of interest on Australia’s war debt to Great Britain suspended?


– Yes, but not by British or Australian action. The interest on internal indebtedness was reduced under the Premiers plan from 6 per cent, to 4 per cent. This shows that Australia could repudiate to its own bondholders, but not to overseas bondholders ! We could prune our own social services and particularly war, invalid and old-age pensions, but must not dare to reduce the interest upon the overseas bonds; such an act, we were told, would be “ repudiation.”

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Great Britain remitted the interest due by Australia on the war debt.


– The point I am making is’ that this postponement of interest payments upon portion of our national indebtedness which was incurred as a result of Australia’s participation in the last war was brought about as a result of the concession received by Great Britain under the Hoover moratorium.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– I am aware of that; but Australia also derived advantage from it.


– The Minister says that Australia received some concession from Great Britain.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– I do.


– We got none whatsoever. We will have to pay back every penny we borrowed from Great Britain, whereas Australia is entitled to receive from Great Britain the same consideration as was extended to Argentina, Denmark, Russia, and every other country with which it negotiated trade treaties.


– Order! The honorable member is allowing his remarks to drift apart from the motion and the amendment.


– This war comes about only because of the failure of the world economic conference convened by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, about 1932. That conference was convened in an attempt to bring the peoples of the world to a realization that something must be done to counteract the unfortunate position into which the various countries were drifting as the result of machine production reaching such a high state of efficiency that all wanted to sell and none wanted to buy. But it failed to achieve anything. The representatives of the nations returned to their respective countries and immediately put into operation a policy of extreme economic nationalism, which has resulted in the world being armed to the teeth and every nation being prepared and ready to protect its own interests. To-day, Italy is involved in a war. Seeing that the League of Nations took no action when Japan got away with a war, it thinks it can do the same. Our past experience should be our guide for the future. In the past we have had experience of the rosy promises made to those who went overseas being repudiated. Great Britain has been most persistent in endeavouring to get the League to enforce sanctions., and it is pertinent for us to ask why Great Britain should be so interested. We can come to only one conclusion, that there was some truth in the statements made some time ago by Mr. Rickett, who was negotiating with Abyssinia for the exploitation of its oil strata. I admit that they were subsequently denied, but since that gentleman has returned to England he has definitely stated that the Anglo-American company would finance and continue to exploit those concessions. This statement appeared in the Newcastle Herald of the 10th September - “ I can assure that the Abyssinian concession will be exploited,” said Mr.’F. Rickett to-day. He expressed the belief that the American interests would find a way to cany on. “ The concession will last for 75 years, and even the Hague Court cannot upset it.”

It has also been reported that another concession has been secured by Messrs. Hitchins and Jervis, civil engineers, the London advisers of Mr. Leon Chertok, the representative of American industrial organizations. British capitalists are said to be interested in this group, which was in existence long before the dispute between Italy and Abyssinia had developed to the present stage. The Abyssinian Minister in London, Dr. Martin, wrote to Mr. Chertok on the 19th July last, confirming an option on an offer of 50 years’ concession in consideration for a loan of 1,000,000 or 2,000,000 dollars.

There appears to be a veil of mystery shrouding the reported concessions to the African Development and Exploitation Corporation of approximately one-half of the area of Abyssinia, despite the denials from the State Department at “Washington and the Cabinet Ministers in London. These agreements, if valid, will cut right across the interests in Abyssinia of Italy, France, Germany, and Japan, and the reason for the sudden interest displayed by Great Britain is not far to seek. Oil is playing a very important part in the development of industry and transport in all countries, and the nations involved in this dispute appear to be concerned more about the probable plunder than about international peace or the lives of Abyssinian subjects. The League of Nations was not so much concerned about the lives of the Chinese in the dispute a year or two ago between China and Japan, or the lives of Arabs, who were slaughtered at Damascus. “Why is Great Britain now so much interested in the dispute between Italy and Abysinnia ? Obviously, the purpose is to secure control of the oil resources of that country.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Is there any oil in Abyssinia?


– The anxiety of the various companies to secure concessions suggests that there is. If the League of Nations is really so much concerned about the saving of human lives, it has had many opportunities, since its formation, to take action, but has failed to do anything. As I have already indicated, to commercial interests the ques tion of gain is more sacred than human life. The same propaganda and greed of commercial interests that led Australia into the 1914-lS conflict, when it is all boiled down, will lead us again into war. In 1914-18, it was the plea of protection for little Belgium that involved this country in carnage. Now it is going to be a plea on behalf of another small nation, Abyssinia.

Apart from the oil concessions in Abyssinia that are being sought by rival nations, one other reason for the impending conflict is that callously brutal ring composed of the manufacturers of armaments. It must bc realized that armament manufacturers form an international circle which controls the press of the world and moulds the opinions of the nations. These manufacturers, in pursuance of their profitgrasping policy, create war scares by suggesting that one nation is arming and another is defenceless. The results arc international rivalry in armaments and finally war. Out of the miserable lives that will be sacrificed huge profits will be made by the individuals who control the supply of armaments to the nations. The activities of this huge monopoly have formed the subject of many inquiries. The Congress of the United States of America set up a select committee which, after inquiring deeply i»”‘> the workings of the armaments ring, reached the conclusion that the manufacture of arms and ammunition should be a national function, and not one for private enterprise. The statement made by the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, after having visited the Dardanelles, throws a tragic light on the iniquitous activities of the war-mongering manufacturers of weapons of destruction. Mr. MacDonald expressed his horror at having seen Turkish guns adorned with the brass plates of British armament firms.

Mr White:

– That is wrong.


– It has been definitely established at inquiries. This brings us to the insincerity of the League of Nations. In September, 1921, the League set up an inquiry into the dealings of an armament ring, and published five damning indictments against armament firms. They are as follows : -

  1. That armament firms have attempted to bribe government officials both at home and abroad ;
  2. That armament firms have disseminated false reports concerning military and naval programmes of various countries in order to stimulate armament expenditure;
  3. That armament firms have sought to influence public opinion through the control of newspapers in their own and foreign countries ;
  4. That armament firms have organized international armament rings through which the armament race has been accentuated by playing off one country against another;
  5. That armament firms have organized international armament trusts which have increased the price of armaments sold to governments.

If the League were sincere in professing its desire to ensure world peace, it would have made a recommendation to the governments of the world in agreement with that made by the select committee of the Congress of the United States of America, and recommended the nations to eliminate private enterprise from the manufacture of arms. An international police fore could then have been established to see that the League’s recommendation was given effect. That would have been a gesture making for the peace of the world. But the League of Nations does not desire that. Commercial interests, in their race for markets, are prepared to set nation against nation, and to extract profits from the suffering by selling goods and imp], ments of death. That is a natural corollary of the policy of extreme economic nationalism. Those nations that are without oil-fields are jealous of the Abyssinian oil-fields. We have not had a clear indication ‘ of the Government’s intentions in connexion with this important international dispute. Some may say that we are not prepared to shoulder our share of the responsibility by agreeing to the despatch of forces overseas in an endeavour to secure peace. The attitudes of such countries as Japan and Germany, who are not members of the League, have not yet been disclosed, and it would appear from the information at our disposal that it is a matter not of securing peace but of the exploitation of Abyssinia. I do not intend to be one of those to assist in upholding any longer the present order of society, under which it has been proved that, while living in the midst of plenty, there is so much misery and want. Why should we tinker further with this system by becoming involved in international conflicts, caused by capitalists whose main concern is profits? The Australian Government should say that it does not propose to send any men from Australia to fight on foreign soil. We have paid too dearly in the past, and it should now be our main endeavour to fight for a new social order under which there will be no more plundering, and we shall live and strive for the good of mankind, and not for the destruction of human life. Wars are made at the instigation of armament firms, the members of which are the greatest profit-mongers. They create war scares and persuade the nations to become involved in order that they may derive greater profits. It has been proved by inquiries that guns manufactured by British firms were used in the Great War against the members of Australian and New Zealand forces. Action such as this is taken by a gang of international crooks, the members of which are prepared to sell death-dealing instruments of war to kill their own nationals. Henry Ford said -

The people generally do not want war, but it is forced upon them by scheming munition makers who are looking for enormous profits through the sale of arms. If we could get rid of a hundred men who arc responsible for wars- and there are some of them in this chamber - this world and its people would enjoy peace. The Kellogg Pact renounced war.

This pact was signed on behalf of Australia by the present Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan), therefore we should adhere to it by adopting a policy of “ non-participation “ in any war outside Australia.


– The honorable member has exhausted his time.

Debate (on motion by Sir Donald Cameron) adjourned.

page 596


Assent reported.

House adjourned at 11.19 p.m.

page 597


The following answersto questions were circulated: -

Warservice Homes.

Mr.Gander asked the Minister in charge of War Service Homes, upon, notice -

Did the department offer to do certain repairs to the home of applicant No. J.7172, without cost to the applicant, owing to lack of supervision by the supervising architect?

Was thecost of these repairs charged to the applicant’s account?

Has the amount been refunded?

Mr.Thorby. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

Yes, the implied condition being that the borrower would meet his obligations and continue with the purchaseof the home. The offer was not accepted, and the home reverted to the commission in November, 1924.

Certain repairs were carried out at a cost of£361s. 3d., which was charged to the borrower’s account.

No. The property was sold in August, 1925, and the equityof the borrower paid to him in July, 1920. Nothing further was heard from the borrower until May, 1930, when he requested thepayment of an additional sum, which was subsequently stated at £81.

Mr.Thorby. - On the 25th September last the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) asked the Minister administering War Service Homes the following question, upon notice : -

Will he supply a detailed answer to each of the following questions in respect ofeach of the periods, 1st August, 1932, to 30th September, 1933; 1st August, 1033, to 30th September, 1934; and 1st August, 1934, to 30th September,1935 - (1) How many applications have been made in the courts of New South Wales for ejectment orders against War Service Homes purchasers; (2) how many evictions have been ordered by the court; (3) how many have been carried out; (4) how many war service homes have been surrendered?

I am now able to supply the honorable member with the following particulars: - 1st August, 1932, to 31st July, 1933- (1), 68; (2), 08; (3), nil; (4), 34. 1st August, 1933, to 31st July, 1934- (1), 127; (2), 127; (3), 1; (4), 02. 1st August, 1934, to 30th September, 1935- (1), 121; (2), 121; (3), 3; (4), 89. (N.B. - Where more than one application has been made in respect of a purchaser the figures in item (1) have been increased accordingly. A similar position exists in connexion with item (2).) As to the warrants obtained, 136 were cancelled upon arrangements being entered into by the pur chasers to make suitable payments, whilst 120 related to purchasers who were in a position to forward the required payments, but rather than do so surrendered their homes. The balance of purchasers who surrendered their homes, i.e., 40, were hopelessly involved, with no reasonable prospect of completing the contracts they had entered into. Altogether eleven warrants have not yet expired.



n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

With reference to the inquiry of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) on the 1st instant, regarding the trade of Papua, will he disclose the imports from the United States of America for 1933-34, and the exports to that country from Papua for the same year?

Mr Lyons:

– During 1933-34 the value of the trade between the United States of America and the Territory of Papua was -

Imports into Papua - £30,139 (including - tobacco, £14,490; benzine and other oils, £7,000).

Exports from Papua, £5.820 (natural history specimens) .


Mr Price:

e asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. What was the loss on the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited for the financial years 1933-34 and 1934-35?
  2. Does Commonwealth OilRefineries Limited adhere to the same price as charged by other oil companies?
  3. Will the Prime Minister call for a report from the management of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited to explain the position?
  4. Is the Government satisfied with the recent action of the major oil companies in increasing the price of petrol to consumers by 1d. per gallon for all grades?
Mr Lyons:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. 1933-34, £85,475 13s. 1934-35- The accounts in respect of the financial year 1934-35 have not yet been published, but I am advised by the managing director of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited that it is likely that a substantial loss will be shown. 2 and 3. The Oil Agreement Act of 1920 provides that Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited shall sell its oil products at such prices as are fair and reasonable, and that the technical and commercial management shall be left entirely in the hands of the company. The company has advised that it does not in any circumstances raise its prices unless an increase is justified, and it would not have advanced them if a level had been reached which, in its opinion, allowed a fair and reasonable profit. The company has further advised that the recent increase of1d. per gallon will only result in a small margin of profit.
  2. Having regard to the information in answers 1 to 3, and to the reports of the Royal Commission on Mineral Oils and Petrol, and other products of mineral oils, the Government sees no sufficient ground for any further inquiry.

National Newsservice.

Mr.Archdale Parkhill. - On the 2nd October the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) asked, without notice, a question relating to the news service conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -

As a result of continued complaint by listeners that 7.50 p.m. was too late for the evening news service, the commission recently decided to programme it earlier at 7.15 p.m. Simultaneously the time allotted to the service was extended from five to twenty minutes. This changehas already received the approval of many listeners. It may be pointed out that the commission is bound by agreement with the newspapers with regard to the amountof local news it should broadcast. The limit is five minutes, and may not be exceeded. On the night of the 1st October, owing to pressure of time, several items of local news were omitted from the national news bulletin by announcers on duty. Steps have been taken so that the full amount of local news allowed in the agreement will be broadcast in future. Should it be found necessary to exclude any of the news items from the bulletin, the overseas news only will be affected. The commission’s intention in introducing this extended service is to give Australian listeners a comprehensive and impartial account of events overseas.

Wirelessbroadcasting: National Station at Kalgoorlie.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

l. - On the 3rd October the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) asked, without notice, a question pertaining to the establishment of a national broadcasting station at. Kalgoorlie. I am now in a position to furnish the honorablemember with the following information : -

Unfortunately there are some important matters still outstanding which render it impracticable to acquire a site at present,and it is not possible to say when the new service will be available. There is, however, every reason to expect a settlement within the next few weeks, and the matter will then be dealt with as expeditiously as possible.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 October 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.