House of Representatives
10 October 1935

14th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 627


Mr.CURTIN. - Is the Attorney-

General in a position to make a statement as to whether or not the vacancy in the office of Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia has been filled or is shortly to be filled, and also as to who is to fill it?

Attorney-General · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · UAP

– The vacancy has not yet been filled; hut it is the intention of the Government to fill it at an early date. I am not in a position to announce the name of the appointee.

page 627




– I desire toask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you are aware that a painful accident happened last night to the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy), as the result of slipping down a stairway leading to King’s Hall, which he was obliged to use because the lift was not working, the front entrance to Parliament House had been closed, and the lights had been extinguished. Will you, sir, take steps to have the lift kept in commission and the lighting of the interior of the building maintained for a reasonable period after the adjournment of the House each night?


– Ilearned with regret - in which, I am sure, honorable members share - of the accident to the honorable member for Lang.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !


– It is stated that it occurred through his having to walk down stairs as a result of the failure of a lift to operate, and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) suggests that steps should be taken to see that the lifts are kept in order. I inquired into this matter this morning, and was informed that the failure of the lift on this occasion was due tothe inner collapsible gate not having been closed, as frequently happens. For a time these collapsible gates had not been in operation; subsequently they were brought into use. Honorable members and other persons have since complained. Some have injured their hands in attempting to close them. These complaints caused me to make full inquiries, and my attention was directed to a report from the mechanical engineer on this matter early this year. It is as follows : -

Each year your attention has been directed tothe fact, that the collapsible gates provided for the safety of passengers are left open, and the contacts operating in conjunction with them short circuited to enable the lifts to be operated with the collapsible doors open.

This is entirely opposed not only to safe practice, but to all recognized life regulations throughout Australia.

It need scarcely be pointed out, that, should an accident occur due to this wilful disregard of safety provisions, this department could not support Parliament House authorities.

It appears that previously these gates were so adjusted that it was not necessary to close them when leaving the lift; but the report of the mechanical engineer directed the attention of the authorities to the fact that this state of affairs was opposed to the regulations. It appears that the failure of persons to close that inner gate, as well as the other door, causes a lift to fail.

Mr James:

– The fact that the lights were out was also to blame for the regrettable accident.


– At a certain hour, always well after the House has risen, the lights are extinguished.

HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; LANG LAB from 1931; ALP from 1936

– The lights were out when Mr. Mulcahy fell, not a quarter of an hour after the adjournment.


– I shall make inquiries into that. I understand that the lights are left on for a reasonable time. It cannot be expected that they should be left on all night. In any case, honorable members usually know where the switches are. I repeat that I very much regret the accident. I shall give instructions that the lights are not to be extinguished until a reasonable time has elapsed after the House adjourns; but I know of nothing that can be done with regard to the lifts if members and ethers using them will not close the doors when leaving.



– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is advertising the sale of a book on cricket at the price of ls. ? Will the honorable gentleman indicate the extent to which the commission, which is not subject to taxation, is likely to compete with private publishers, ‘ who are called upon to contribute by this means to the revenues of the Com mon wealth ; also, whether the Government receives from the commission any report which gives an outline of its policy and the extent to which it proposes to compete with private business?

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.The honorable member having been good enough to indicate to me that he proposed to ask this question, I have been able to obtain information upon the subject. The Postal Department is aware of the publication of the cricket brochure referred to. I do not think, however, that any intimation has been given to the Government concerning the department’s proposed activities in that regard. The commission, in the issue of this publication, apparently is acting under the statutory powers conferred upon it by section 17 of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Act 1932, which’ reads as follows : -

For the purpose of the exercise of its powers and functions under this act, the commission may compile, prepare, issue, circulate and distribute, whether gratis or otherwise, in such

Dimmer as it thinks fit, such papers, magazines, periodicals, books, pamphlets, circulars and other literary matter as it think* lit, iri eluding the programme of national broadcasting stations and other stations.


– About a fortnight ago the Minister representing the Postmaster General promised to make inquiries and furnish information regarding the appointment of a general manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, ls he now in a position to make a statement on the matter!

Minister for Defence · WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP

– I understood that the information asked for had already been supplied to the honorable member.

Mr Curtin:

– Will the commission fill (he vacancy; if so, when?


– It will certainly do so, but exactly when is entirely a matter for the commission. 1 shall make inquiries from the PostmasterGeneral, who will ascertain the position from the commission, which acts under statutory powers, and I shall inform the honorable member of the reply either tomorrow or by letter later.

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Minister without portfolio assisting the Minister for Commerce · BATMAN, VICTORIA · UAP

– Last evening the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) took exception in the course of his speech to certain remarks, which he wrongly attributed to me, having relation to the High Commissioner for Australia in London. I immediately asked the honorable gentleman to accept my assurance that during my speech I had not mentioned the name of Mr. Bruce in the connexion mentioned, but he declined to do so, and referred me to the proof of my speech. I have consulted that proof, and find that it confirms my knowledge of the matter, in that it shows that I made no reference whatever to Mr. Bruce. In view of the honorable gentleman’s refusal to accept my word, I now look for a handsome apology from him.

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– Is the Minister for Health aware that at the Canberra Hospital mental cases are housed in the same ward as young children who are suffering from various complaints, making difficult the recovery of those young patients? If the right honorable gentleman has not this knowledge, will he make inquiries into the matter, and provide for additional accommodation elsewhere for the housing of mental cases?


– I am not aware of the circumstances to which the honorable member has referred; but during the course of a visit that I intend to pay to the hospital this afternoon in order to express my sympathy to the honorable member for Lang, I shall inquire into the matter.

page 629




– Is the Minister for Commerce prepared to make a statement regarding the result of the conference recently held at Canberra between Commonwealth and State Ministers and representatives of the wheat industry from all parts of Australia, and to say what assistance, if any, the Government contemplates to give in connexion with the coming harvest?

Minister for Commerce · COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The results of the conference have been published in full in the press. The proposal of the Commonwealth Government providing for a home-consumption price was generally approved, and the State govern meats are now considering the form which the legislation necessary to give effect to the scheme will take.

page 629




– Is the Attorney-General ina position to inform the House whether the view expressed by the Minister for External Affairs (Senator Pearce) that a declaration of war by the United Kingdom automatically implies a declaration of war by all the British dominions is shared by the Prime Ministers of Canada and South Africa?


– The Minister may, of course, reply to the question if he so desires, but as it does not raise a matter of urgency, I do not think that it should be asked at this stage, particularly asthe debate on the Italo-Abyssinian dispute will be resumed in a few moments, when ample opportunity will be afforded for the discussion of the matter.


– I have no objection to saying what I thought I had said yesterday, namely, that the opinion expressed by me yesterdayis to the best of my belief the view of the constitutionalposition. which is shared by the Prime Minister of Canada, but is not shared by the Prime Minister of South Africa.

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– In view of the retirement next mouth of the manager of the Commonwealth Clothing Factory, in Victoria, can the Minister for Defence say whether he intends to callpublicly for applications for the position now or later?


– The matter has not yet received consideration, but as soon as a decision is reached I shall be glad to inform the honorable member of it.

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– Has the Ministerfor the Interior yet completed his report on hisrecent visit to Central Australia and the Northern Territory, and will the information be made available to the House ?

Mr.PATERSON. - Th e Government is now considering certain recommendations which I have made with respect to the Northern Territory, and when it is right and convenient to do so, I shall inform the honorable member regarding the position.

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Return of Minister


– Is the Prime Minister in a position to inform the House when the Minister directing the negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) is expected to return to Australia, and has any decision been reached regarding the proposed treaty with Japan?

Prime Minister · WILMOT, TASMANIA · UAP

– I expect the Minister to return to Australia in the latter part of November. As to the second portion of the question, no decision has been reached. The negotiations are proceeding.

page 629


Alteration op Wavelengths.

Mr.SCHOLFIELD.- Have any steps been taken to adjust the wavelengths of broadcasting stations to make the wireless reception more satisfactory than it now is?


– I understand that the recent re-distribution of wavelengths has considerably improved wireless reception generally. If the honorable member will indicate the particular localities which he has in mind,I shall be glad to bring the matter under the notice of the Postmaster-General, and I am sure that it will be immediately considered.

page 630




– Have the speed boats which were to be provided for the patrol of the northern coast of Australia, particularly to prevent poaching of pearl shell by alien craft, yet been put into commission? If not, when will they be available ?


– The matter is largely in the hands of the Department of the Interior. A suitable boat has been ordered,and the latest advice to hand is that it is expected to ‘be in readiness for service within a few weeks.

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– Have the terms of reference yet been submitted to the royal commission appointed to investigate the monetary and banking systems, and will the Prime Minister give the House an opportunity to decide the scope of the inquiry ?


– The terms of reference were decided by the Cabinet, which must take full responsibility for them, and the commission has been appointed to carry out its investigation within these terms. The Government does not intend to have the matter further discussed in this Parliament. The commission will now proceed with its inquiry on the terms referred to it.


– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he was correctly reported in the press as having made a statement to the conference of the United Australia party in Sydney to the effect that the private banking interests of this country had nothing to fear from the forthcoming inquiry by the Royal

Commission on the Banking and Monetary Systems? If he was correctly reported will the Prime Minister inform honorable members of what his statement meant?


– What I am reported to have said, I said, and what I said I meant. My words were unambiguous. During the election campaign I said very clearly that I was not sure that any great need existed for an investigation into the Australian banking system. I thought that the combination of the Commonwealth Bank and the private trading banks had been working very satisfactorily. I said further that if the people, through the ballot box, expressed a definite wish for such an investigation it would be set up. With the approval of Cabinet, that investigation has now been set up and will be’ carried out.


– Will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of putting Mr. Frank Anstey on the commission ?


– No power was taken to add to the members of the commission.

Mr Gander:

– We shall give the Government that power.


– We do not ask for it.

page 630


page 630




I move -

  1. That, in view of the following facts, namely - (a.) that the people of Australia arc overtaxed without their permission by vote ;

    1. that the estimated wealth of Australia, public and private, is £5,000.000,000 as comparedwith Australia when owned by the aboriginals;
    2. that the people are born, live for a time, and die, without being directly benefited by such wealth;
    3. that the time has arrived when to prevent Fascism andsimilar evils, the people should have the power of control over the Government, it is the opinion of this House that the Referendum. Initiative and Recall should be in- cluded in the CommonwealthConstitution, and in so far as it is necessary togive to the people full powers to initiate legislation the Constitution should be amended.
  2. That, contingent upon the passing of such motion, it be an instruction to the Government oftheday to bring in a bill and take such further action as is necessary to carry into effect this resolution.

I have to thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) for not having urged that I withdraw this motion, and in accord with their forbearance, 1 shall speak for a limited time only. The principle of the initiative, referendum and recall has been before the public for many years. I first took interest in it after my studies i>f Switzerland, more than 50 years ago, and I have used every endeavour to have it adopted in Australia. In fact I have never left a Parliament of which I have been a member without having had placed on the notice-paper a motion similar to that which I have now moved. Whenever divisions have been taken on similar motions moved by me, an astonishingly increasing number of advocates has been present. I know of nothing more pressing than the need that the people should have this right, and at no time other than now, when the horrors of war are threatening, would it be more opportune to institute the system I am advocating. I am one of the many persons in Australia opposed to conflict, and I advocate that the people should have the right to vote whether they should go to wai- or not. If only a vote of the people were taken upon this matter I should be satisfied whether the result favoured the proposal or not, because it would at least record the views of the majority of our citizens. I should then be glad to allow the matter to rest. Honorable members will recollect the vote taken on the conscription issue during the Great War, when the people of Australia were asked to determine whether they should send their sons to the front. The people refused to agree to conscription, and since that time the question has not been raised again in Australia. The Nationalists Association, of which the present United Australia party is the lineal descendent, at one time held the view, and may still hold it, that the principle of the referendum, initiative and recall should be embodied in our Constitution. One of the present leaders of the United .Australia party was at one lime vice-president of the Referendum, Initiative and Recall League in Melbourne. That principle is also advocated by one. of the strongest of our Australian societies, the Australian Natives’ Association, and forms one of the planks of the Australian Labour party’s platform. It3 adoption was advocated from the very first by the Bulletin, and shortly after federation that great newspaper, the Melbourne Age, declared itself in favour of the principle of the referendum, initiative and recall, and has urged its adoption ever since. 1 commend its acceptance to members of the Country party because they, like others, find difficulty in having matters brought before this House and thoroughly discussed. If it were adopted they could compel Parliament to discuss matters which they thought of importance. The principle of the referendum was advocated by both Gladstone and Lord Salisbury, though they did not go so far as to support the initiative’ and recall.

Switzerland, that great little land nestling in the Alps, has achieved a great deal. In that country, people of three different races live in harmony, although the fatherlands from which they have sprung were recently engaged in a terrible war. There, the Frenchman, the German or the Italian will fight for his adopted country against all others. Three different races are able to live at peace with one another because the laws of Switzerland are based on justice and because the people by the use of the initiative, referendum and recall have control of the Parliament. The 37 governments that were signatories to the Geneva Convention paid Switzerland the honour of deciding that the symbol of the Red Cross throughout the world should be the flag of Switzerland with the colours reversed, the red cross on white instead” of the white cross on red. Switzerland is the home of the bureau system, out of which has evolved universal postage, the first parcels post and other services. The Government of Switzerland conceived the idea of bestriding the great continents of Europe and America by sending an agent to establish a branch of the bureau in the United States of America. That enterprise should have been carried out, and had I been a member of the Swiss Parliament, I should have voted for it. The Swiss people had not first been consulted. Immediately the initiative petition was commenced the required, number of names wasobtained, but upon a referendum, the scheme was rejected and the officer was withdrawn from the United States. Switzerland has been called the schoolhouse of Europe; the United States of America has been called the schoolhouse of the American continent, and I hope that Australia will eventually be referred to as the schoolhouse of the world, because it has already given to the world the secret ballot and the famous statute known as the Torrens Act, dealing with land transfers. In a map published by the Melbourne Age it is shown that if the United States of America be divided into two equal parts by a perpendicular line, there is not on the western side one State that has not the referendum, initiative and recall in some shape or form, while on the eastern side which embraces the older settled part of the union, all States but two operate the principle in some form. The principle is strongly supported also by the farmers’ unions throughout America. It may be only because of its recent formation that the Country party in this House has not added the principle to its platform. Out of 45 questions submitted to the vote of the people in the State of Ohio, no less than seventeen related to farmers’ interests. Australia has greater potentialities than Switzerland. That will be understood when I say that the only natural product which Switzerland is able to export is asphalt. All other exports comprise goods which have been manufactured from imported material, a large part of which is utilized by the watchmaking industry. The following list shows the progress of the initiative and referendum in the various States of the United States of America : -

ProgressoftheInitiativeandReferendum in America. 1897. - South Dakota legislature voted to submit an initiative and referendum amendment to constitution. 1898. - The electors of South Dakota adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vote of 23,876 to 16,483. 1899. - Oregon legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.

Utah legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution. 1900. - The electors of Utah adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vote of 19,219 to 7.786. 1901. - Oregon legislature a second time, as requiredby constitution, voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.

Nevada legislature voted to submitreferendum amendment to constitution. 1902. - The electors of Oregon adoptedinitiative and referendum amendment by vote of62,024 to 5,668. 1903. - Nevada legislature a second time, as required by constitution, voted to submit referendumamendment to constitution.

Missouri legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution. 1904. - The electors of Nevada adopted referendum to constitution by vote of 4,393 to 702.

The electors of Missouri defeated initiative and referendum amendment. 1905. - Montana, legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment, to constitution. 1906. - The electors of Oregon adopted supplemental initiative and referendum amendment to constitution by vote’ of 46,678 to 16,735.

The electors of Montana adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vote of 30,374 to6.616. 1907. -The electors of Oklahoma adopted a state constitution, including provisions for the initiative and referendum, by vote of 180,333 to 73,059.

North Dakota legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution. The following legislature failed tosubmit amendment as required by constitution.

Maine legislature voted to submit initiative and referendumamendment to constitution.

Missouri legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution. 1908. - The electors of Missouri adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vote of 177,015 to 147,290.

The electors of Michigan adopted a constitution containing provision for referendum on laws and initiative on constitutional amendmentsby vote of 244,705 to 130,783. 1909. - Arkansas legislature voted tosubmit initiative referendum amendment to constitution.

Nevada legislature voted to submit initiative amendment to constitution. 1910. - The electors of Arkansas adopted initiative and referendum amendmentby vote of 91,367 to 39,111.

Colorado legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.

The electors of Colorado adopted initiative and referendum amendmentby vote of 80,141 to 28,698. 1911. - California legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.

The electors of California adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vote of 168,744 to 52,093.

Nevada legislature a second time, as required by constitution, voted to submit initiative amendment to constitution.

Washington legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.

Nebraska legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.

Idaho legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.

Wyoming legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.

Wisconsin legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.

North Dakota legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.

The electors of Arizona adopted a constitution containing provision for the initiative and referendum by vote of 12,187 to 3,822.

The electors of New Mexico adopted a constitution containing provision for the referendumby vote of 31.742 to 13,399. 1912. - The electors of Washington will vote on adoption of initiative and referendum amendment at the November election.

The electors of Nebraska will vote on the adoption of initiative and referendum amendment at the November election.

The electors of Idaho will vote on the adoption of initiative and referendum amendment at the November election.

The electors of Wyoming will vote on the adoption of initiative and referendum amendment at the November election.

The electors of Wisconsin will vote on the adoption of initiative and referendum amendment at the November election.

The electors of Nevada will vote on the adoption of initiative and referendum amendment at the November election.

The electors of Indiana will vote on the adoption of a constitution, containing provision for the initiative and referendum, at the November election.

The constitutional convention of Ohio has submitted a series of amendments to its constitution, including one providing for the initiative and referendum. These will be voted on at a special election, 3rd September. 1913. - North Dakota legislature will consider, the second time, amendment to the constitution providing for initiative and referendum.

Briefly, the institution of the referendum, initiative and recall means the foundation of a true and real democracy, which enables the people to control absolutely the created thing called parliament. The referendum means the referring back to the people, for their endorsement or rejection, of any bill passed by Parliament. No bill may become an act until a certain number of days have elapsed, usually 30 or 50 days, the longer if the measure has to do with the alteration or amendment of the Constitution. One clause of the Constitution of Switzerland states that that constitution may be altered or amended at any time, and the procedure necessary to be followed is then tersely explained. The initiative enables the citizens at any time to inaugurate or make new laws, and if the required number of signatures be obtained, the proposed new law must be placed before the citizens. The recall, as I understand it, gives complete control over the Parliament or the members during the whole time that each Parliament sits. I cite three referendums in order to show the control which the people exercise over legislation. One was on the question of the institution of the kindest way of killing animals for food; by another a law was enacted that no family should interfere with the marriage of children because of religious differences, nor could parents in such cases rob their children of their inherited rights by will. By a third referendum, it has been established that no citizen of Switzerland may be buried as a pauper. Swiss citizens who die even in neighbouring countries are buried at the expense of the Swiss Government if no other provision has been made for them. Of all countries in the world, Switzerland, I believe, enjoys the honour of being the only one in which such a law is in force.

I have never pointed the finger of scorn at any religion. I have always held the belief that every religion was started with the meaning and intention of doing good, but sometimes I have had to criticize very severely the professors of some religions, and my conscience tells me that I did right. Therefore, I say, with all reverence, that if God be God He never created anything His equal or superior, and He never allowed any created thing to make itself His equal or superior. Why, then, should the citizens of Australia, after having elected a parliament, allow it to become more powerful than the people who created it. Honorable members have frequently said that they feel honoured to represent the people. If they really feel that it is an honour, let them prove it by taking steps to embody in the Constitution provision for the referendum, initiative and recall.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Casey) adjourned.

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Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed from the 9th October (vide page 596), 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 the conflict 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. lt 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. lt formally declares the neutrality of Australia, and instructs the Government to take all necessary stops to preserve such neutrality.

It declares that it will not support the application of sanctions under Article 10 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 “.

Sir DONALD CAMERON (Lilley) ^3.15]. - I have listened with the closest attention to all that has been said during this debate. The unfortunate dispute between Italy and Abyssinia must be of vital interest to us, and, indeed, to every one of the countless millions of people throughout the world. No one can doubt the tragic possibilities of this unhappy conflict so far as the future peace of the world is concerned. The Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) said yesterday that more harm could be done at the present time by saying too much than by saying too little. With that I entirely agree, but I am quite satisfied that every member of this House appreciates fully his responsibilities in this respect.

In view of the fact that on two occasions it has been my privilege to go to Geneva as a member of delegations representing Australia, I need not make any excuse for addressing myself to this subject. The first time I attended the Fourth Assembly of the League was in September, 1923, that being the Assembly at which Abyssinia and the Irish Free State were admitted to membership. I again went to Geneva in September, i932, as a member of Australia’s delegation to the Thirteenth Assembly. That was also a year of serious import for the League, because the Assembly met during the most acute period of the trouble between China and Japan.

When I went to Geneva in 1923, I was very doubtful whether the League of Nations could attain and hold the objective of its founders, namely, the maintenance of world peace. I remembered the earlier attempts which had been made after previous great wars to organize the nations in the cause of peace. I remembered the Hague Conventions, and their failure to achieve their purpose. I remembered that of ten in our own country, over matters of domestic concern, we found it extraordinarily hard to come to any agreement, and I understood how infinitely more difficult it was for the nations of the world to agree on problems which greatly concerned them. However, I had overlooked for the moment one thing - that when the League of Nations caine into being at Versailles, the representative nations, weary of war, had met determined if possible to discover some way to avoid future wars. The people of the world had gone through an experience which no one had believed to be even possible, and they were resolved to leave no stone unturned to prevent a recurrence of that experience. I left Geneva convinced that the representatives of the 52 nations there assembled, with the full support of the peoples behind them, were obsessed with the definite determination to make that world organization a success, and to enable it to attain its first and greatest objective.

I came away convinced, also, that a great majority of the representatives of the smaller nations undoubtedly looked to Great Britain and, I take it, to the dominions and other parts of the Empire, as strong and disinterested custodians of the peace of the world. I think that any other honorable member of this Parliament who has visited Geneva and attended an assembly of the League must have been similarly impressed. Yet there was doubt in my mind as to the possibility of the League achieving success in its great ideals, because almost while we were sitting in conference the Island of Corfu was bombarded and occupied as the result of a disagreement between two nations which were members of the League. That seemed to me to be a rather hopeless sort of start towards the achievement of world peace by the League. However, notwithstanding that, I was convinced that the delegates representing the various nations were determined to do everything in their power to assure peace, and I was gratified at the high standing of Great Britain in that notable assembly. It is pleasing to know, also, that to-day Great Britain still occupies a unique position as a mediator and conciliator in world affairs. It is still regarded as the bulwark of the small and weak nations. I believe that all the smaller nations realize that Great Britain, in order to maintain its present position, must remain strong and powerful. I do not believe that any nation is of the opinion that British defensive measures will ever be used for any purpose other than the maintenance of peace and the pacification of the world. I say that, after giving the fullest consideration to the present situation.

I have heard it suggested that Australia disapproved of the admission of Abyssinia to the League. It would be well, therefore, to place on record exactly what the leader of the Australian delegation, Sir Joseph Cook, said at the League meetings at that time. As those who are acquainted with League affairs know, the Sixth Committee deals with the application of countries for admission to the League. It is required to make a full investigation and submit a report on such applications. After Abyssinia applied for admission to the League its application was submitted in the usual way to the Sixth Committee by the Assembly for investigation. I make the following quotation from the report of the second sub-committee of the Sixth Committee on the subject : -

According to precedent, the Sub-Committee has based its investigations on the questionnaire used for the admission of new members by the first three Assemblies. The questionnaire is as follows: -

Is Abyssinia’s request for admission into the League of Nations in order?

Is Abyssinia recognized de jure orde facto, and by what States?

Does the country possess a stable government and well-defined frontiers?

Is it fully self-governing?

What have been the acts and declarations of Abyssinia (a) as regards her international engagements, (b) as regards the stipulation of the League with reference to armaments ?

To the first question the Sub-committee has returned an affirmative answer.

In reply to the second question, the SubCommittee notes that Abyssinia is recognized by and has concluded treaties with several Powers.

The reply to the third question is in the affirmative.

With regard to the fourth question, the Sub-Committee has been informed that Abyssinia is governed by Her Majesty the Empress, assisted by the Crown Prince as Regent and Prime Minister, and by a ‘Council of Princes. The Sub-Committee, although it found itself unable to determine exactly the extent of the effective control of the central authority over the provinces remote from the capital, is of opinion that Abyssinia is fully self-governed.

With regard to the fifth question, the SubCommittee has taken due note of a telegram from the Crown Prince of Ethiopia, dated August 1st, 1923, containing the following declaration : “ The Abyssinian Government is prepared to accept the conditions laid down in Article I. of the Covenant and to carry out all obligations incumbent upon members of the League of Nations.”

The Sub-Committee notes that Abyssinia has by this declaration given proof of her goodwill, with regard to the fulfilment of her international engagements.

The Crown Prince of that time is the Emperor of to-day.

During the discussion at the meeting of the Sixth Committee on the application of Abyssinia, Sir Joseph Cook said -

Abyssinia should enter the League of Nations to enable her to rise gradually to the level of the other members, and that, as a matter of fact, the League recognized different degrees of civilization. He was afraid, however, that the admission of Abyssinia to the League might create an anomaly, as that country might criticize those countries, such as New Guinea, where the conditions of life were much more favorable. Abyssinia might examine and criticize countries whose civilization was more advanced than her own. He did not feel stive that Abyssinia possessed a Government sufficiently strong to enforce its decisions. That was the reason why the Australian Government had supported the request for an inquiry into the authority of the Abyssinian Government before admitting Abyssinia to the League of Nations . . . Sir Joseph Cook considered that the state of civilization in Ethiopia would constitute an obstacle to admission. Such views ignored the principles of the Covenant according to which a State could be admitted if its request was in order, if it was recognized de Jure or de facto, if it possessed a stable Government and well-defined frontiers, and if its declarations were in conformity with international engagements. A? the Sub-Committee had replied in the affirmative to all these questions, no legal objection could be made to the admission of Ethiopia to the League of Nations.

On the same occasion, the Italian representative, Count Bonin Longare, was reported as follows : -

Count Bonin Longare (Italy) considered that Abyssinia’s1 request constituted a tribute to the League of Nations. This tribute was of great value as coming from a distant nation which had hitherto remained outside the great international movements, but which, by the remarkable tenacity with which it had been able to preserve its religious faith, and national character throughout the ages, had acquired titles of nobility to which due justice must be paid there . .

Two questions arose: how far did traffic in slaves still exist in Abyssinia, and what was the condition of the slaves? It appeared from the information supplied by the Abyssinian Delegation, and from that obtained from other sources (amongst which should be mentioned the report submitted by the French Government) that the slave traffic was expressly prohibited by Abyssinian law, which went so far as to impose capital punishment. In spite of this severity, cases had been reported but only in remote provinces. Due tribute must, however, be paid to the enlightenment of the princes who had succeeded one another on the Ethiopian throne during a long succession of years, more especially to Kas tafari, the present heir to the throne, a broad-minded prince, in touch with modern ideas, to whose credit must be placed the decree of November, 19.18, enforcing with greater severity all previous edicts for the punishment of those engaging in slave traffic.

I thought it desirable, in view of all that has been said about Australia’s attitude towards Abyssinia’s application that the citations that I have made from the official record of the proceedings in con- nexion with the matter should be placed on record.

When I visited Geneva again in 1932 the Disarmament Conference had been sitting for nearly two years under the chairmanship of one of the great leaders of the British Labour party, Mr. Arthur Henderson. It had not up to that time, nor did it later, achieve any great success. We cannot, however, get away from the fact that Great Britain at that time and subsequently set a fine example to the other nations of the world in the volun’tary reduction of its armaments. Mr. Stanley Baldwin has pointed out that although one nation may pioneer, it cannot, by itself, attain disarmament. There can be no doubt that Great Britain pioneered the movement towards disarmament by reducing its armaments to a point that many people regarded as absolute madness. When Great Britain realized that its example would not be followed by many of the other nations, that they were piling up rather than reducing their armaments, it decided that it could make no further reductions.

The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), speaking yesterday, said that we should realize that the Covenant of the League is in many respects weak, and cannot be effective. The one thing that we certainly must realize is that the strength of that Covenant is absolutely dependent upon the determination of those who signed it to stand up to their obligations under it. Even the most ardent advocate of the League will not deny that it has very serious defects. But despite all its defects and weaknesses, I maintain that those who signed it must stand by it ; otherwise, everything will go by the board. I have no doubt that any amendments of the Covenant considered necessary will be made if the League continues to exist, as surely it must. But the making of alterations to the Covenant of the League would not prove an easy task. That will readily be realized if we recall the difficulties which the people of Australia experienced when they sought to make what they considered were advisable alterations of the Constitution of the Commonwealth. The making of .alterations of any real note to the Covenant of the League would be infinitely more difficult.

The Leader of the Opposition also argued that the imposition of sanctions would be dangerous and ineffective, because certain powerful nations are still outside the League. I sincerely trust that before this debate concludes the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Hughes) will address the House. As we know, the right honorable gentleman signed the Treaty of Versailles on behalf of Australia. The founders of the League hoped that it would be universal in its membership; otherwise, I doubt that they would have introduced into the Covenant the particular provisions which deal with sanctions, because it is obvious that without universal membership the invoking of sanctions is extraordinarily difficult .

The Leader of the Opposition referred to the United States of America, Japan and Germany - three powerful nations at present outside the League. In 1932, the United States of America announced its definite foreign policy that if the League enforced sanctions against an aggressor, and the United States concurred in the justice of that decision, it would not take any action to frustrate the effectiveness of the League’s action. The Neutrality Act recently passed in the United States of America is to all intents and purposes a sanction in itself against belligerents, and if put into operation would have a tremendous prejudicial effect upon Italy. I should think that any trade or communication which the United States of America may have had with Abyssinia was not very great. In the event of the League deciding to impose sanctions, the United States of America under the existing law is committed not to trade with either Italy or Abyssinia. Therefore, I take it that the difficulties which arose in the past are not present to-day.

I cannot speak with any1 degree of certainty regarding Japan. While I was in Geneva in 1932, the trouble between Japan and China reached its most critical stage. Throughout the weeks in which we. met, not one member of the League made any reference to that trouble. It was for that reason I said a little while age that at Geneva, more than anywhere else, it waa recognized that far more risk was involved in saying too much than in say ing too little. Lord Llytton’s report had not ‘been received, and certainly no member of the League had any knowledge of its contents. There was a very grave risk of something being said with the best of intentions, which .might do infinite harm to negotiations for the settlement of that dispute. I have visited Japan on three occasions, on one of which I resided there for a year. The press of that country, probably to a greater extent than that of any other except Italy and Germany, voices the opinions and views of the Government. So far as I have been able to gather recently, the Government of Japan would stand for the continued independence of Abyssinia and would not be likely to interfere in any way with sanctions imposed by the League of Nations.

Then there is Germany. I do not profess to know what the position would be in that country; consequently, the less I say about it, the better.

I believe that, for the first time in the history of the League, a position has been reached where, if a majority of the nations that have signed the Covenant of the League consider that sanctions should be imposed, they could be imposed.

Honorable members opposite have referred to the trouble between China and Japan, and have asked why sanctions were not imposed on that occasion. The situation then was extraordinarily difficult. Russia, which was outside the League, was looming immediately to the north of Manchuria and China. The United States of America had not made the important decision that it subsequently arrived at in connexion with trade with belligerents. I am certain that, had the League then decided to impose sanctions, the result would have been a world war. The position to-day is entirely different in that respect.

The acceptance of the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) would mean nothing bit’ the repudiation of our undertakings under the Covenant of the League. I am quite certain that that is not the intention of any honorable member opposite. I agree with the contention which the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) advanced last night, that if this House voted in favour of neutrality or non-participation the only honest course facing Australia would be immediately to inform the League of its desire to withdraw from it. 1 have listened with the keenest interest to honorable members opposite over a period of years speaking in support of the League of Nations, and have frequently joined with them in castigating the government of the day for not taking a greater interest in the work of this organization at Geneva, for not permitting honorable members to discuss its work, and for allowing its report to lie on the table of the House for many months without being considered.

Sir Donald CAMERON:

– I am not questioning that. I am sure that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), who has a complete knowledge of the work which is being done at Geneva, would be the first to agree that it is neither the intention nor the desire of any member of this House to discontinue our membership of the League.

Mr Brennan:

– It is not mine.

Sir Donald CAMERON:

– Can any one say what action Australia could take were it to repudiate its obligations under the Covenant of the League,, other than that of its immediate withdrawal from the League?

Mr Brennan:

– It could record a dissenting vote.

Sir Donald CAMERON:

– Although I cannot bring legal knowledge to bear upon this all-important matter, I cannot conceive how, when it came to the definite point of honouring an obligation, we could escape from it by recording a dissenting vote.

The Attorney-General dealt fully last night ‘with the position in which Australia would be placed if Great Britain were at war. He left no room foi; doubt in the mind of any honorable member. Th<e views that he expressed were also held by his distinguished predecessor. Speaking on the 3rd April, 1924, upon the Treaty with Turkey, Sir John (then Mr.) Latham, said -

Hie Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) appears to consider that it is optional whether Australia shall be considered to be at war or at peace when Great Britain is at war. There is no option. Other nations regard all parts of the Empire as belonging to one international unit or entity. That is a matter of legal fact. If the British Empire is at war, then, legally, Australia also is undoubtedly at war.

I particularly direct the attention of honorable members to what follows, because it is all-important to their argument -

Of course, it is now perfectly well established that it depends upon Australia herself entirely how far she shall participate in such a war, and whether she shall, or shall not, send an armed force to take part in belligerent operations.

That is something which we should all remember. Sir John Latham went on to say-

If Great Britain is at war, Australia is exposed to all the risks of war-

That cannot be denied by anybody. We could not say “ We are not in this; leave us alone.” The speech continues - and she cannot evade those risks by any unilateral action which she may take. The only way in which she can avoid being considered at war when Britain is at war, is by severing her connexion with the Empire.

The honorable member for Batman has admitted that he has no wish that we should sever our connexions with the League of Nations, and he is equally determined, I am sure, that we should not sever our association with the Empire. When Mr. Latham was speaking the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) interjected “ Canada does not think so “, and Mr. Latham continued -

Canada’s position is exactly the same as ours. Canada has made efforts to avoid it, but has not been able to do so. She is no more independent than Australia. Neither Canada nor Australia is independent. Both belong to the Empire, and, as members of the Empire, but always as members of the Empire within the Empire, they have a large measure of independence. No other Empire has been sufficiently elastic to give to its constituent parts the measure of independence which we possess. It has not been known before in the history of the world. We are fortunate indeed to enjoy this independence. It confers upon us a great privilege and a great protection, but also it imposes on us a>n active and intelligent interest in foreign affairs and in international relationships. It is not sufficient for us merely to adopt the opinion either of a> particular British Governnent or of some British party on any question of foreign affairs.

What is the alternative to support of the League and the honouring of our obligations?. If a number of nations utterly ignored their promises under the Covenant, there would be grave probability of another world conflagration, and that would result in the complete collapse of western civilization. Situated as we are in Australia, surely we cannot be indifferent to any issue affecting world peace. I say without the slightest hesitation that we must stand for the maintenance of the League and collective security in order to preserve world peace. As members of a concert of countries that have set out to prevent war, we must oppose disregard of Covenants. There is no suggestion that Australia will be asked to take action in which the other members of the League would not share. If they fail to meet their obligations, then the League fails, and we shall return to the hopeless position from which we have been endeavouring to escape since the last war.

I know that honorable members opposite are desperately anxious to prevent war. I have always thought that the Labour party in Australia, throughout the world, supports the League, feeling that it is the one instrument capable of effective action to preserve peace, and avoid the old trouble of secret diplomacy. We should honour to the letter our obligations under the Covenant of the League. We should stand side by side with Britain and the other dominions. Any suggestion that we should fail to do that is, to me, unthinkable. It is equally unthinkable that Australia should prove to be the weak link in the chain. The Australian people have their weaknesses, of course, but this country has always honoured its obligations, and for that reason enjoys a high place in the esteem of other nations. Let it maintain that high place at all costs.


– The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- Considering the conditions under which the people of Europe have worked for hundreds of years, the evils of secret diplomacy, and the intrigue and dishonesty amongst the nations, it is our duty to consider the present situation most carefully. We should be guided by past experience. If Australia were involved in another war it would bring devastation and sorrow to the people. I appre ciate the desire of the League of Nations to outlaw war, but there is now danger of the world being involved in the greatest conflict of all time. The Government of the day has twitted the Labour party with the statement that certain individuals are prepared to support action that may lead to war but that is a matter of small consequence; I am anxious to give a lead to the people of Australia regarding the world-wide conflict that threatens us. I take up the same attitude as that adopted by me in 1914. I refuse to be a party to any foreign war for the benefit of big financial interests and shareholders in large munition companies. We should try to educate the people concerning the advantages of avoiding war. It would be a dangerous policy for the Empire to endeavour to enforce sanctions with so many great powers standing outside the League. During the last war, a number of honorable members now sitting behind the Government appealed to the people of this country to go overseas and slay Germans in order to save the world for democracy. I admire those men who joined the colours, well knowing the probable fate that awaited them. That was a commercial war, and many thousands of Australians paid the supreme sacrifice. This country was saddled with an enormous debt that still hangs round its neck like a millstone. Are the people of Australia raising children to allow them to be dragged at the heels of another nation that has nothing in common with us? Some nations have no desire for peace.

I listened attentively to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies), who tried to camouflage the true position, and delude the public into a false sense of security, by saying that sanctions should be applied against Italy. In my opinion, Australia can never be successfully defended by means of a war conducted in another part of the world. If Australia fights on foreign shores, it deserves to be regarded as an aggressor nation. Abyssinia has enormous natural resources that are undeveloped, and it is not surprising that, the surrounding nations desire to exploit them. If Australia had been left undeveloped, and its people were living in a state of semi-savagery, another country would be justified in taking possession of it and developing it. It is not for us to determine the wisdom or otherwise of the actions of other countries. The AttorneyGeneral imputed disloyalty to the Labour party, but we are just as loyal to the British monarchy as are honorable members opposite, and I am sure that His Majesty the King respects the opinions of that section of the Australian people which is anxious above ali things to preserve world peace. The Minister was bankrupt of argument when he endeavoured to support the case for the Ministry by making the imputation to which I have referred. The Government has definitely told us that Australia will be at war as soon as Britain is at war. As the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) said, if the workers of Australia determined that no food or clothing should be shipped from Australia to any country engaged in war, the Government would throw them into prison “We say, Mr. Speaker, that in the last war the greatest offender was the apostate of Labour who now sits on the Government bench as the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). When he came back from the battlefields during that great carnage he tried to conscript the people of Australia without, even allowing them to vote on the issue. He used all sorts of methods in his futile endeavour to enforce his will. He said that he would deal with anticonscriptionists with the ferocity of a Bengal tiger. We saw him put into operation that ferocity. We saw what happened to men who stood up and appealed to the mothers of Australia not to send their children overseas into that awful conflict and vigorously opposed conscription without a referendum. I saw men taken off the boxes in the Sydney Domain and imprisoned for six months under the War Precautions Act for speaking against conscription and for speaking in favour of one big union. Men were batoned by the police because they did not agree that the manhood of Australia should be conscripted. Women were so savagely batoned that their collarbones were broken because they attended anti-conscription meetings. Those were the methods adopted by the man who says to-day that he stands for the freedom of the people, a man who came from the ranks of the Labour movement and returned from overseas an advocate of imperialism. I do not want a repetition in Australia of those conditions. Those sixty thousand sous of Australia who made the supreme sacrifice in the cause of eternal peace are entitled to have their wishes respected. Others who were courageous enough not to go to the last war stand by their principles to-day. What was said about Germany in 1914-18 by the imperialistic jingoists, will be repeated by them to-day against Italy. It is not for the man in the street to judge Italy or Abyssinia. The people of the world must adopt the principle that war is to be prevented only by pacifism. But the right honorable member for North Sydney will not agree to that. He would rather play on the fears of the populace. Ministers do not like their past deeds to be resurrected, they fear the history of the past, yet they are willing to bring Australia again to the position into which it was unwittingly cast in 1914. Government supporters, including members of the Ministry have scoffed at the prospect of division in thu ranks of Labour. The Labour party is more united to-day in its advocacy of peace than it was in 1914. It is determined to have no repetition of those fearful days.

It is not sufficient for the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) to say that Lord Milne, when in Australia, did not tell him of the jingoistic efforts that were in train to involve the British Commonwealth of Nations in another holocaust. Lord Milne, being a student of psychology, apparently came to the conclusion that the Minister for Defence was not the man to whom secrets should be confided. But when the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General were abroad they were fully informed of the situation as it exists to-day. They know th* position into which Australia is heading. They must admit that when they attended entertainments in London they committed Australia to follow Britain into international conflict. The destiny of Australia was signed away at the dinners they attended. I do not believe that the Prime Minister is in favour of war. He is a family man with children at the age at which they could be taken away to the battlefields of Europe and slaughtered along with thousands of other young Australians. I doubt, however, whether the Attorney-General has those sympathies. From the imperialistic attitude which he demonstrated last night, apparently he is prepared to avenge himself upon the workers of this country.

Mr Rosevear:

– He did not go to the last war.


– He did not. If ever need arises for this country to defend itself it will not be the AttorneyGeneral and men like him who will take up arms. It will be the rank and file, the men who believe in protection, real protection, who will crawl over sand bags and defend Australia against the invader, even at the cost of their own lives. There is a certain type of person to whom the term “ sooler “ is applied, and the attitude of the Attorney-General indicates that he is one of that type.


-Order. The honorable member must discuss the question before the chair. These personal references lead to disorder.


– The honorable the Attorney-General made personal references to me last night.


– I did not hear the Attorney-General refer to the honorable member in any way.


– If an honorable member attacks me I claim the right to reply. I maintain that the policy of the Attorney-General is forcibly to conscript the manhood of this country into conscription, and send them overseas to fight on behalf of the possessions and rights of the imperialists. There is not the slightest doubt about that. The mothers of Australian children will not suffer the pangs of childbirth and other pains to rear children in order that jingoism may use them for the purpose of indulging in whims which precipitate conflict among the nations. I remember these “ soolers “ in the years from 1914 to 1918 telling Australian mothers of the glory and benefit that would await their children on their return from the battle-field, if spared to return. They appealed, also, to wives to allow their husbands to leave these shores for the blood-stained fields of Flanders. I remember them singing “ We don’t want to lose you, but we think you ought to go.” I heard the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) speak in such eloquent phrases as “ No more trade with Germany “. “ We will ostracize the Hun and drive him back into oblivion for ever.” “ We will hang the Kaiser.” Those are fair camples of the platitudes to which the unsuspecting Australian people were subjected. The psychology of the people was made a plaything in the efforts to carry on the gigantic struggle, which so nearly overwhelmed civilization a few years ago. Some of the honorable members of this Parliament went overseas to fight for King and country. They know the horrors of war. I know the misery and suffering they endured. My sympathies are with them. I know how much they suffered, the endurance test through which they passed, and the shocking conditions of their lives in the trenches.

Mr Gander:

– And some of them wish that Australia’s younger generation should be subjected to the same tests.


– I should not say that about honorable and conscientious men. I appeal to those honorable members to whom I have referred to give as much consideration to the view-point of the Opposition as it has given to theirs. If, by the introduction of sanctions, another world war is to occur, we are entitled to adopt such methods as will prevent the imposition of sanctions. The people of Australia stand behind that plea. It is not a question of legal interpretation of treaties, nor a question for the men who have gone overseas and rubbed shoulders with the nobility to settle; it is simply a question of sorting out right from wrong. Is it right for wars to be carried on in the state of civilization the world has achieved to-day? The first step the League of Nations should take to avert the possibility of catastrophic war is to abolish nationalism. We should not think on the lines of England, Germany, France, or any other nation. We have to create a world state. The League of Nations has laid the foundations of that world state, and those foundations should be built upon. If necessary, an international police force could be drawn from every nation of the world on a population basis to preserve peace.

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

– What does the honorable member mean by an international police force?


– I mean an army of men drawn from every country of the world. That is the only way in which peace can be ensured.

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

– Then the honorable member would send men out of their own countries to fight in other countries ?


– If we can get the countries of the world to give up a certain number of men in proportion to their population, an instrument for the preservation of peace will have been formed. What we have to-day is not a League of Nations; it is a league of damnation. What sort of a league of nations is it that does not include in its membership Japan, America and Germany, and even Italy, which is cn the point of being expelled? How is it possible to have a league of nations under these conditions? Do honorable members think that I am going to allow this country to take my child - the only thing that I have in the world to-day - and thousands of workers cherish and love their children, to be slaughtered on the battle-field. Not on your life! Nor will I be forced to go to the fields of Abyssinia to fight on behalf of those people who are behind the League of Nations. England, I know, does not want war. Lord Milne said, “ England must keep out of war.”

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

– That is not consistent with what the honorable member said a little while ago.


– It is consistent, and logical members of this House agree with me. I listened to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill), when he was making a great ado about the defence of Australia. We have no power to defend this country. The vital supplies of oil are in the hands of overseas people. With the disruption of relations between the various countries of the world, supplies of oil to Australia would be cut off. If the Minister for Defence is logical and desirous of ensuring the defence of this country, he will arrange for the commandeering of sufficient oil to last for two years. He will also see that Australia has a sufficient force of aeroplanes and submarines to lift the burden of defence of the Commonwealth from the rest of the British Empire. He will get Australia on to its own legs. It is the duty of every Australian to protect his home against a foreign invasion. The workers realize that, and they will never have to be conscripted for that purpose. I object to the agreements reached overseas between Commonwealth Ministers and imperialistic persons which will force the manhood of this country to go overseas. If the Government thinks that it will be able to force the Australian youth to fight on behalf of wealthy interests it is mistaken. I will resist at all times such a policy, and I will get the people to resist it. I will use every effort to preserve the lives of the young people of Australia. We have no quarrel with other peoples. This nation can be made the greatest in the world, and I claim that it has reached its present happy state only by the pursuance of a policy of peace.

I appeal once again to the Government and its supporters to reconsider this matter. I know that their minds are made up, but I think that they are using this question as a test to see how they will be able to divide the people of Australia, to ascertain how solid the Labour movement will be in its fight for the preservation of the peoples of the world and how determined they are to ensure that the position which arose in 1914 will not be repeated. Although honorable members on the other side of the House would like the people of Australia to forget the atrocities that were committed during the war years, I have never forgotten the horrors of that period. In co-operation with English-speaking people all over the world, I desire to see put into effect immediately a scheme which will result in the abolition of all wars. In that endeavour, I protest against the under-current of camouflage being put over as was done during the last war, when it was said that we were fighting for “ the poor little Belgians “. If the Government did its duty, it would suppress some of the filthy and lying cartoons and propaganda appearing in the press of Australia to-day as they appeared during the last war. Then the people of Australia were told that the Germans were cutting off the hands of little children and ravishing convents, all of which tilings were subsequently proved to be deliberate lies. To-day, we are told of the slaughtering of women and children in Abyssinia. In all future wars, bombs will be dropped without discrimination. Our enemies would, no doubt, drop them on this House irrespective of whether honorable members were sitting here or not. England, which is in the position of being more closely associated with this possibility, and no doubt realizes that it is necessary to safeguard its people, recently adopted a definite plan of disarmament. It even went so far as to say that it was prepared to scrap a portion of its Navy. But when the great nations of the world began to re-arm and Germany, France, Japan, and the United States of America increased their armaments to a greater extent than had been known before, Great Britain had to spend millions of pounds on rearmament in order that it might preserve its people against the rest of the world. How is it possible for the League of Nations to be successful when throughout the world there is a war psychology such as is exhibited in Germany, where the man-power of the nation is being harnessed for one specific purpose - war ! We are now told that we are to have another war as the result of the application of sanctions. I know that the capitalists who have shares in ammunition factories must have their dividends in order that they may be kept in luxury, but what of the workers who are called upon to sacrifice their lives and upon whom the burden of war debts falls most heavily? Who but the capitalists made anything out the last war? When I was told that rent had to be paid for the trenches occupied by the Australian troops in France, I regarded it as the lowest form of exploitation I had ever known.. Honorable members on the other side of the House can utilize all the propaganda they like - it does not matter to me whether they are in favour of sanctions or otherwise - I support the policy enunciated by my leader in this House of antipathy to war in all its forms and all its horrors. If we continue on the lines on which we’ started, participation in any overseas war will result in the deterioration of the white races to such an extent that the black people will overrun and conquer the world. No matter what actuates the Government in saying that the Empire must be preserved, we ask how it is possible to carry out a preservation policy among the nations of the world if it is not possible for the English people to agree on a policy of preservation of peace and the prevention of war. The aim of Napoleon was to have geographical boundaries wiped out in order to make one empire and one people from Italy to Russia. That would have resulted in the abolition of war in Europe. But the forces of capitalism and intrigue were against the attainment of that objective. Until geographical boundaries are wiped out and we have one people with one desire there will be no peace in the world. At present Germany is watching France; France is watching Germany; Poland is likely to be embroiled at any time, and Austria, with only a road or line dividing it from other countries, is on the verge of trouble. Australia, with its geographical boundaries, lends itself to the establishment of the greatest empire the British people could build up. I should like to see England shifted out here. Then we could fight for the ideals for which we and the English-speaking people stand. Let us not get down to the level of the fang and claw.” At present the law of the “ fang and claw “ is greater than ever. Might is right, as it always has been. Japan said to the League of Nations that “ might is right “ and that it had the right to go into China and shoot down defenceless men and women. It proceeded to do so yet there was no protest. From that very moment the League failed, because it had no might to back up its right in a world where only might is right. During the last war women insulted me and sent me a white feather, saying that I was a shirker. My idea was that people should bc brought to a realization of the need for preserving themselves against the destruction carried out by the militarists of the world. Many friends of mine who went to the war never came back, and are buried in unknown graves. Many of them before they left said to me, “ Stop at home and, until we come back, keep the conditions of the workers as we left them.’*


– The honorable member’s time has expired.


– I was interested to hear the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) making an appeal to this House to give considered thought before making any pronouncement on a question of such importance as the matter now under discussion. Immediately following him came the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), who, in common with the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden), said that the High Commissioner for Australia in London, Mr. Bruce, made a definite statement irrevocably committing Australia to war, and had done so without the express authority of the people or instruction from the Commonwealth Government. That statement was obviously made without a full consideration of the facts. The honorable member for Batman knows full well that the High Commissioner is a delegate from Australia to the League of Nations. As a delegate he must give a judicial vote with regard to the facts brought up by the Council as to whether a nation has violated any article of the Covenant. He gave his vote in a judicial capacity and has not committed Australia to war in any sense of the word. The honorable member for Batman further inferred that Article 16 of the Covenant would automatically come into operation and that Australia would thereby be pledged to go to war. Honorable members with even an elementary knowledge of the Covenant know that it does not come into automatic operation, and that the Covenant will only be invoked after due consideration and after the Council has made considered representations to the League. The Council is not likely to give consideration to making recommendations unless it is sure that the recommendations will be effective and practical in their application. I contend that it is not the desire of the League to bring into operation military sanctions at all. First of all economic sanctions will be applied and then military sanctions only if an act of war has been committed. Article 16 does not come into operation automatically, but will be applied only after due consideration by the League. Furthermore, sanctions are not invoked by individual decision; they are not brought into operation by individual action as honorable members opposite seem to imagine. They must be recommended by the Council, and only then after due consideration. Why should this action be taken? Why is it necessary to give consideration to the invocation of these sanctions? Because collective sanctions place the League under definite obligations. Collective sanctions are brought into operation, as honorable members must realize, to prevent an act of war, or the continuation of war, and in applying them there is a definite obligation on the League. They might well mean a declaration of war on the part of a country upon which these sanctions are evoked. That is why it is necessary to give due consideration before any recommendation is made by the Council. Honorable members opposite have stressed the point that public opinion is opposed to war. With that I concur. Public opinion, is definitely opposed to a war of offence, but it would not necessarily be opposed to a war of defence, and any action taken by the League of Nations which might result in war, would necessarily have to be judged before the bar of public opinion. It is quite evident to me that public opinion, having supported the League of Nations, and the principle of an international police force for the preservation of peace, could only regard an act of the League in support of peace as a step in the direction of carrying out its avowed purpose. Even the use of armed forces under the authority of the League would be merely the putting into effect of the principle of an international police force, and, as such, would necessarily command the support of public opinion in this country. The character of such a force would be determined by its motive, and as the motive of the League in such circumstances would be beyond suspicion, the people of Australia would have no desire other than to applaud the League for its decision. [Quorum formed.]

Mr Brennan:

– Is the honorable member proceeding on the assumption that I said in my speech last night that the Australian High Commissioner, Mr. Bruce, had committed this country to war?


– I was under the impression that the honorable member suggested that.

Mr Brennan:

– I neither said nor implied anything of the kind.


– Then I accept the assurance of the honorable member that he did not say that Mr. Bruce, our delegate to the League of Nations, had committed Australia to war without a mandate from the people, or instruction from this Parliament. Obviously, I misunderstand the honorable member, and I apologize to him.

Australia is a member of the League of Nations - a small member admittedly, but. nevertheless one that has subscribed to its Covenant, and has incurred the obligations of membership. Honorable members opposite say thai Australia, although a member of the League, should nor accept the responsibility which that membership entails. I remind them that, in their own industrial affairs, if a man belongs to a Labour organization, and accepts the benefits of membership, it is demanded of him that he accept its responsibilities also. If, in time of industrial trouble, .a member refuses to shoulder those responsibilities, honorable members opposite have a word to describe him - they say that he is a “ scab “. “Well, Australia, as a member of the League of Nations, has received all the benefits of membership, and now honorable members opposite are counselling us to “ scab “ on the League. Surely, that would not be an honorable course of action for us to pursue.

The amendment of the honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) contains these words -

We formally declare the neutrality of Australia, and instruct tho Government to take all necessary steps to observe that neutrality.

I give full credit to the honorable member for sincerely desiring to preserve peace, and to prevent Australia from engaging in a war that must necessarily result in loss of life. I believe that behind his amendment there is a genuine wish to preserve the peace of the world. I also believe, however, that the honorable mem ber has not given full consideration to the meaning of the word “neutrality,” nor has the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) fully considered the implications behind “ non-participation “. If neutrality means anything at all, it means a refusal to range oneself on one side or the other in any given dispute, or to recognize the rights of either party, one against the other. Neutrality can be either collective or” individual. If the honorable member is advocating collective neutrality by members of the League, he must understand the possible outcome of such a policy. It might be that, in such an event, the League would be charged with yielding to intimidation by one of the warring countries, a country prepared to go to any length to enforce its will. It would be very dangerous for the League to place itself in that position, and to do so would probably result in its being split asunder, so that it would no longer be an effective force in world affairs. The League has shown itself to be willing at all times to mediate between the parties to the present dispute, and individual members of the League have also conducted negotiations for the purpose of achieving peace. The offending nation has taken full advantage of the time occupied in these negotiations, and has pushed actively on with its preparations for war. The idea of collective neutrality seems to suggest that the League of Nations should not judge the merits of the case between two disputants, but should frown on both alike. Therefore, if it were to take any action at all, it would have to impose embargoes on trade with both countries. Does any honorable member say that, in the present case, that, would be just? On the one hand, we have Italy, a highly organized country possessing a formidable military machine, and on the other a backward nation living almost in the stone age. Do honorable members really suggest that the League of Nations should vent its displeasure on both countries alike, or that it would be helping to bring the conflict to a satisfactory conclusion by seeking to impose embargoes on war materials, munitions and the like on both Italy and Abyssinia? Any suggestion to that effect is an affront to the common-sense of members of this Parliament as the effect would be entirely unfair to the weaker nation.

Individual neutrality, so far as Australia is concerned, affects our position as a member of the British Empire. As the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) pointed out last night, it would be impossible for Australia to remain neutral in a war in which ‘the rest of the Empire is engaged. It is only reasonable that, since we belong to the Empire, we should adopt the common policy of the Empire. The policy of the British Empire is a defensive one and that policy calls for cooperative action by all sections of the Empire, unless the Empire is to be riven asunder. No action in regard to peace or war can be taken by one part of the Empire without affecting the other parts. Even if Australia were to attempt to adopt an attitude of splendid isolation, and to remain neutral in a war in which the Empire was engaged, its neutrality would not be recognized by the belligerents. Australia, with its 90 per cent. British population, would be regarded, for all international purposes, as part of the Empire.

The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) used the high-sounding word “non-participation”, and said that that was the policy of the Labour party. “ Non-participation “ is a word that rolls off the tongue very nicely, and it might serve the Leader of the Opposition effectively upon the public platform; but no one who has realized the full significance of “ non-participation “ could possibly support such a policy. It would be of no- use for honorable members opposite to say that Australia would not participate after the crisis had occurred. We may feel that the mechanism of the League is not perfect. We have a similar feeling about our own Constitution. The Constitution of every country is subjected to criticism from time to time. But it would be of no use to attempt to amend the Constitution after a crisis had arrived. The League of Nations has actually reached a crisis, and it is of no use for us to attempt to amend its constitution now. Honorable members who have supported the League hitherto and enjoyed the benefits that have flowed from its activities, surely cannot contem- plate deserting it now that it is facing a serious crisis. They should now support the League with all their strength. Even if the mechanism of the League be incomplete, we should support what is now being done to strengthen its authority. When a more appropriate time arrives, we can take whatever measures are open to us to remedy the defects that have been revealed ; but we should not at this moment set a course of action which if followed can have only one result-thi destruction of the instrument that wedesire to preserve. For this reason, i submit that every honorable member who has a real belief that the League is ;i valuable agent for the preservation c’ world peace, and may become even more valuable, should support it to the utmost of his capacity. It would be extremely unfortunate if this country were to desert the League at this stage. If honorable members opposite will consider carefully what non-participation really means, they will see the error of such a policy. If non-participation means that the Labour party is not prepared to honour its obligations to the League, then it should be prepared to make its position clear to the House. 1 consider, further, that in an international crisis, such as we are now facing, unity within the Empire is absolutely essential. We are members of the British Empire. Australia, to adopt a sporting metaphor, is a member of the imperial team. It is up to it, therefore, to play the game by other members of the team. It would be deplorable if at this stag;1 we should say that although we have played with the team in the past, tinstress of the game has become so great, that we now intend to withdraw our strength from it. Even if there may b” a feeling that the rules are operating harshly against us, we should not introduce discord into the team. The British nation prides itself upon the possession of a strong sense of fair play. We ali consider that our sporting notions are above reproach. I suggest, therefore, that in connexion with this dispute we should play the game in every respect.

Honorable members opposite have said that we are entitled to please ourselvesin connexion with this dispute. It is true that we have the right to do so; but I ask whether we can, with any degree of national self-respect, play the individual gam<5 at this stage, and disorganize the imperial team? It often happens that an individual member of a team plays selfishly. This almost invariably prevents good team work. I submit that we cannot claim the right to play ti:.’ individual game without considering the effect upon us if other members of the imperial team claimed and exercised ti;:’ same right. The United Kingdom can please itself with regard to its decisions without us and about us; but it would be serious for Australia if it decided to disregard us. We are not in a position to trifle with this serious subject. The whole of Europe is re-arming to an extraordinary degree, and appears to be a veritable volcano about to erupt. In such circumstances, our defensive policy should be in complete harmony with that of the imperial authorities. If Australia were threatened by an aggressor, the whole of the defensive forces of the Empire would immediately be rushed to our aid. We could not, of course, survive an attack unless we had the resources of the Empire te assist us. Collective action is therefore unquestionably in the best interests of every part of the Empire. We must pla: the collective game if we hope to win out.

Mr Mahoney:

– The game of war?


– With regard to war, may I remind the honorable member that one of the most successful mitilary generals the world ha s ever known, advised his officers to divide and conquer. Advice tendered by honorable members opposite is of a similar nature, and if acted upon by Australia may eventually lead to the destruction of both the British Empire and the League of Nations. The League should enforce its authority, but it can do so only if the members of it stand up to their obligations. If, by any mischance, the League becomes divided, it must inevitably fail. If it remains united, there is hope that it will conquer.

I wish to correct a mistake which the honorable member for West Sydney and some of his colleagues are making. When the Minister for Defence was speaking last night he directed attention to certain declarations from authoritative trade union and other sources in regard to the present dispute. The accuracy of his citations was challenged by the members of the New South Wales Labour party, and it was alleged that he was reading resolutions of bodies which claimed to be allied with the Labour party but were really communistic, or, at least, were dominated by communistic ideals. I regret that the honorable member for West Sydney is not in his place at the moment, but I ask his colleague, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), whether he would consider the Labour Government of Tasmania a communistic body? Yet that administration has declared itself to be in favour of sanctions.

Mr Rosevear:

– That is not so.


– The Trades Hall Council of South Australia has also declared itself in favour of the decision of the British Government. Is that a communistic body? The Minister for Defence quoted exhaustively from the Sydney Labor Daily. Is that a communistic newspaper? It appears to me that some honorable members opposite have made numerous statements which lack any foundation in fact. If Hansard circulates among the members of some of the influential organizations which have been referred to as communistic in their sympathies, certain honorable members opposite may feel the repercussion of their innuendoes. The Australian Coachmakers’ Federation, which. I cannot conceive to be communistic in its outlook, and also the Newcastle Trades Hall Council, which the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) described as a communistic organization, may have , something to say to certain honorable members opposite for statements that they have made regarding the views of those organizations. The honorable members of the New South Wales Labour party should not generalise on a subject of this description.

The Attorney-General made an appeal last night that any opinions expressed in this chamber about the ItaloAbyssinian dispute should be carefully considered, as the subject was of serious importance. I agree that it is highly undesirable that such a subject should be dealt with lightly.

Quite obviously I shall vote against the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney, and I commend that course to other honorable members of the House.


.- In my opinion it was rather unfortunate that the debate on the Italo-Abyssinian dispute should have been continued in this House yesterday. There can be no doubt whatever that probably the most serious international situation that has arisen since the days of the Great War now faces Australia, the British Empire, and the League of Nations. It is regrettable, therefore, that some of the opinions voiced in this debate should have been couched in rather wild and intemperate terms. When the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia deliberate5 on a subject like this, great good or great harm may be done. It therefore behoves us all to be careful in the views that we express. The debate has, however, cleared the air in certain respects. To-day the speeches have dealt principally with the League of Nations, and the obligations of Australia as a member of the League. In the admirable speech the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) delivered last night he made a clear statement of Australia’s position as a member of the British Empire. It seems to me that if Great Britain is involved in war, the various dominions, including Australia, must inevitably be involved in it. . After all, the Ministers of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia are His Majesty’s Ministers of State, and it is surely not conceivable that Ministers of State of His Majesty in one dominion should be at variance with Ministers of State of His Majesty in Great Britain itself.

Mr Brennan:

– They are at variance every day in some particular.


– But not on an international question such as that which is now under consideration. In addition to clarifying the constitutional aspects, the debate has also indicated the divergence of opinion among the members of the two wings of the Labour party in regard to the steps that should be taken to cope with the dangerous situation that faces us. The people of Australia will now have a much clearer idea of the views of these two wings.

The attitude of the Government has been declared definitely in the speeches delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and his Ministerial colleagues. The amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has not, however, been supported by express statements to that effect, by very many members of the Labour party, excepting those who are associated with his own group. In the circumstances one may be excused for assuming that the amendment was moved with the express object of inviting the Labour party as a whole to endorse the policy of what I may perhaps fairly call the Lang Labour party, although that policy has not found favour with many responsible Labour unions of Australia. The amendment invites the Commonwealth Parliament to say that : -

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 10 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.

If those sentiments were endorsed by this Parliament, and a similar attitude were adopted by other responsible governments, that would most definitely mark the end of the League of Nations. One has to ask oneself what would be the result if, having agreed to the constitution of the League of Nations and approved Ihe powers conferred upon it, the people who subscribed to it failed to support it when the first big test was applied. It has always appeared to me that the League has been supported to a greater extent by the Labour section than by any other section of parliaments or of nations; yet now, when it is a question of whether the League is to continue or end, the Labour section of the Australian Parliament, through its leaders, is withholding support from it. The Government has most emphatically declared that it supports the League and, naturally, Great Britain.

The speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) yesterday may be described as noncommittal and different from the usual tenor of the honorable member’s remarks. One can realize, of course, that he was in serious difficulties, because the line that he had to take had been laid down for him.

I propose to address myself discreetly to the position of Australia, and to the consequences that might result to it. The Government has pledged itself to support Great Britain in any action that it might take’ to achieve peace. Certain steps having been taken by the League of Nations with the support of Great Britain and of the Australian delegate, the next step will be the enforcement of sanctions. The enforcement of sanctions, or what may be termed penalties, naturally envisages the adoption of police methods, and these may cause a difficult and serious situation to arise. It appears to me that we in Australia are probably much more seriously interested than is any other dominion in this matter, because, as the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) pointed out yesterday, practically the whole of our communications with the old world pass through the Suez Canal. It is not necessary for one to have military genius to realize the extreme gravity to Australia of the placing of 200,000 men contiguous to that waterway, with arms and equipment far beyond what are needed to subdue a small and comparatively barbarous country like Abyssinia. We are sometimes inclined to criticize Great Britain for the action it has taken, and to stress the commercial viewpoint. I suppose that that has an application to any nation. Great Britain, however, is vitally interested in the position in Abyssinia because of its territories in Africa. The source of the Blue Nile is in Abyssinia. Anybody who has been in the Sudan and in Egypt can realize the dependence of those areas upon the unfettered progress of the Nile to the sea, and appreciate the tremendous difficulty that would arise if it were dammed or checked, or passed out of the existing control.

Mr Holloway:

– The honorable member is giving trade reasons for the war.


– Quite so. It is time wo realized exactly where we stand, and the position into which we may be led by the rashness of a certain nation which has not observed its obligations to the League. We have heard in this House the most intemperate criticism of the precautionary measures taken by Great Britain, in which Australia is involved. May I say with all deference that the handling of such matters is better left to Great Britain. The British Secret Service is probably the best in the world. I was in England during the Great War when Germany meditated an attack upon Great Britain by seaborne transport. Within three hours of the time at which the German troops commenced to embark on barges, that fact was within the knowledge of the British Government. We do not know what is happening behind the scenes; consequently, it would be better to await developments before taking more serious steps than are contemplated at the present time. The matter may safely be left in the hands of British statesmen. After all, Great Britain is a very old and a very sensible country. It has been wisely governed, and has had a full and bitter realization of what the consequences of war can be.

I have been very interested to observe in this debate the attitude of the Labour party towards the matter of defence. I do not think that I am being either unfair or unjust when I summarize the viewpoint of honorable members opposite by saying that in no circumstances

Will Labour take any action, or allow any troops to fight, outside Australia-

Mr Gander:

– That is right.


– And that in all circumstances Australians will wait until this country is invaded before they will take steps to repel the invaders. In common with the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) and other honorable members, I have ridden many miles with a victorious army through a conquered country. Although that army was tinder control, and was well disciplined, one can never forget the experience of being in an invaded country. If we were to wait until an enemy was in Australia before we took steps to combat it, we should be in the position that Abyssinia occupies to-day. Although T do not pretend to be an expert in military matters, I say that once the smoke of a hostile fleet was seen off the eastern coast of Australia, that would be the end of this country, because of its enormous coastline of 12,000 miles, and its numerically small standing army and military force. The condition of the forces to-day is largely due to the attitude of the Labour party towards the defence of Australia. An invasion of this country could be prevented only by the British Navy. Therefore, our only course in a serious crisis like the present, the results of which one shudders to contemplate, is again to affirm our support of Great Britain in the attitude it has adopted at the League of Nations, and in any steps it may have to take. The people of Australia should be advised that if Great Britain is at war the whole of its dominions are at war. From my knowledge of Great Britain, and of past wars that are within my memory, I can say that it has never requested any dominion to send troops to its assistance; the offer to provide troops has always been made by the dominions, and Great Britain has gratefully accepted the assistance offered. Should it again need assistance - I hope and pray that it will not - the Commonwealth Government and the people of Australia will have to decide the extent of their participation. “We should be foolish indeed were we to blind ourselves to the seriousness of the existing world position, and to the responsibilities that the Government of the Commonwealth may have to face. The one thing that we must say is, that we are prepared to support Great Britain in every possible way, even to the extent of making sacrifices equal to those made in the past.


.- It is with considerable trepidation that I, as a very junior member of this House, intrude in this extremely important debate. Paradoxical though it may seem, the very importance of the debate has impelled me to take part in it, because I believe that each honorable member owes it to himself and to his country to give a clear indication of his attitude towards the present dispute. If I may say so. the debate has so far been conducted upon a high plane, and all honorable members are to be congratulated on that account. The matter has to be viewed dis passionately, because of its outstanding importance not only to the people of Australia but also to the people of the Empire and of the whole world.

The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) last night stated the position so lucidly that very little further light can be thrown upon the attitude that Australia and the Empire can, or should, adopt. The honorable gentleman signalized his return to Australia from abroad by expressing the opinion that Australians, as a whole, do not take sufficient interest in foreign affairs. His exposition of the constitutional position last night must have come as a great shock to a large number of people in Australia, because of the realization that we have but little option as to whether we enter or keep out of the controversy; that, unless we are prepared to dissociate ourselves from the Empire, we have not much voice in the matter. Then the Attorney-General pointed out the position of the Empire itself in regard to international affairs. He mentioned the alternatives which the Empire had to remaining a member of, and backing up, the League of Nations. He said that we could assume a role of splendid isolation, and he showed what that would mean to Britain *d the Empire. He indicated that we should then have .to adopt the policy in operation prior to the outbreak of war in 1914, of having a navy of a two-power standard, and, unfortunately, it would now necessitate an air force of a two-power standard. He said that if we were not prepared to adopt a policy of isolation, the other alternative was the conclusion of treaties with other European nations in order to maintain the balance of power. I think that all honorable members will agree with the Minister that this balanceofpower method has been productive of more wars in the past than anything else that we can call to mind. Surely the .only policy which Australia and the Empire can adopt is that of collective security within the League.

The House has debated this issue from the points of view of the jurist, the idealist, the purist and, if I may say so, the pacifist. I propose briefly to attempt to discuss it from the point of view of the ordinary man in the street, and also the returned soldier. I point out to honorable members on both sides that, fortunately for Australia, the returned soldiers are still a great power in this country. It comes as a shock to the man in the street to learn that we have but little alternative as to the attitude we should adopt. If we do not take a certain line of action, our only alternative is to cut ourselves adrift from the Empire. The average Australian takes the Empire for granted. I am not referring to certain purists who consider the legal position in the light of the Statute of Westminster, for instance, or the Balfour declaration. The average Australian has only vaguely heard of the Statute of Westminster, and he does not trouble to find out what it means. He cannot visualize any future for this country outside the Empire. I am still sufficiently conservative to speak of “ the Empire “ rather than the British Commonwealth of Nations. I use the term “ conservative “ in its original sense, which implies the conservation of those rights and privileges, and that freedom, which we have gained. The average Australian admires the efforts that Britain has made since the cessation of the last war to preserve world peace. I think that honorable members generally cannot but admit that Britain has set an example to the rest of the nations in its attempts to secure disarmament. The average man in Australia commends Britain for that, but now he is not a little apprehensive that we may not have gone a little too far in the direction of disarmament. If we look at a map of the world, what can we see that Britain can gain by war? We have everything we need as regards raw materials, and we have all the colonial possessions that we could desire. If we do re-arm - and I think the average man in the street believes that we should - obviously we shall be strengthening our armaments not for any aggressive purpose, but merely to conserve the rights and privileges and the freedom already achieved. If any foreigners examined the situation, they, too, would realize that we were not re-arming for aggressive purposes, for we have nothing to gain from a war. The average Australian is not very prone to express his views on subjects such as this, but at the back of his mind he has a sneaking regard for the League, and a half-formed opinion that it is most definitely an instrument which may help to maintain the peace of the world, and which we Australians should support. Therefore it must come as an immense shock to him to find out that the League’s testing time has now arrived and that Australia must decide whether or not it will stand behind the League. We must also determine whether, practically speaking, we will remain in the Empire, or, by playing- a lone hand, force ourselves out of it.

May I, for a moment, examine the position from the point of view of Australia in a position of isolation and outside tho Empire, to see whether it would be possible for us to maintain such an attitude? Australia is an enormous continent, with a coastline some 12,000 miles in length. Its area is 3,000,000 square miles, and we have a population of but two persons to the square mile. This is an undeveloped land, compared with many, other countries, and I quite agree with ‘the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) and others who say that we should not stress the point, because it might bring too prominently before our jealous and overcrowded neighbours the fact that our country is greatly under-populated.

I propose now to examine some of our policies, and to consider whether they could be maintained should Australia attempt to stand by itself in the world. I refer particularly to ‘the White Australia policy in which all parties in the Commonwealth believe. But to which party, and to which section of the community, is that policy most important? I say unhesitatingly that, it is of tho greatest value to the wage-earning section, for if we do not maintain a white population here we shall see our wage standards automatically broken down. Therefore, the Labour party, which claims to represent the wage-earners in this Parliament, is particularly interested in the maintenance of the White Australia policy. Another policy which it would be difficult to support, if Australia stood alone in the world, is that relating to ordinary immigration, not as it is opposed to the coloured races of the world, but as it affects the races in the Mediterranean areas.

It is most desirable that we should keep Australia as near as possible 100 per cent. British, but there is no doubt that our immigration policy, too, is a provocative one. Onr tariff administration, undoubtedly, is extremely provocative, particularly as advocated by honorable members opposite. It would be entirely impossible to maintain these provocative policies - with most of which I thoroughly agree - if we attempted to stand by ourselves in the world. We cannot defend ourselves, however much we may desire to do so, unless we remain in the Empire, thus strengthening the Empire and the League of Nations. There are some elements in this community which are not opposed to the League of Nations, but are definitely anti-British, and are prepared to make the present controversy a stick with which to beat the British Empire.

I propose to speak now concerning certain remarks made in this House by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who criticized the policy of the party now in office, because of the visits to Australia many years ago of Lord Kitchener, and the more recent visits of very distinguished, soldiers from overseas. He implied that it was a crime for Australian political leaders to discuss -methods of defence with these distinguished soldiers.

Mr Rosevear:

– He made no such statement.


– He certainly did. It would have been criminal if the government of the day had not seized the opportunity to discuss defence matters with them at this time of crisis. I consider that every public man should declare himself in order that the people of Australia may know where he stands. For myself, as one who fought in the last war, as the representativeof many who may have to endure the horrors of another war, and as the father of children who will soon have to take their responsibilities as citizens of ‘this country, I declare unhesitatingly that I stand for the unity of the Empire in any efforts it can make now and in the future to maintain the peace of the world.

Debate (on motion by Mr. A. Green) adjourned.

page 652


Message recommending appropriation reported.

In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :

Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -

That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys bc made for the purposes of abill for an act to authorize the expending of a. certain sum of money.

Resolution reported.

Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.

Ordered -

That Mr. Casey and Mr. Paterson do piepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.

Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Treasurer · Corio · UAP

.- I move-

That the bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill is to appropriate the sum of £170,000 for works out of loan funds, the raising of which has already been authorized by Parliament in legislation passed last year. The total of the loan estimates for 1935-36 is £5,243,506. This total includes £3,000,000 for this year’s estimated requirements under the Farmers Debt Adjustment Act. and £1,216,750 for financial assistance to the States for unemployment relief works, &e. These amounts are covered by appropriations passed during 1934-35. The balance of the loan estimates, amounting to £1,026,756 is for expenditure on Commonwealth works during this financial year. Of this total, £856,756 represents the balance of the loan appropriations passed last year for this purpose, leaving only the sum of £170,000 for which further parliamentary appropriation is now required. The appropriation of that amount is the purpose of the bill now before the House. It is for works in the Federal Capital Territory. An amount of £100,000 is to be set aside for preliminary works in connexion with the further transfer of Commonwealth departments from other capital cities to Canberra, and £70,000 is for the rehousing of residents of Duntroon, who will be required to find other accommodation in consequence of the impending return to Duntroon of the Royal Military College. . The £100,000 will be devoted to the provision of accommodation for the officers of the departments which will be transferred to Canberra. This transfer will extend over a period of possibly three or four years. It includes provision for extensions to the water SupplY sewerage, and foundations for office buildings. Its expenditure will provide a considerable amount of work for unskilled as well as skilled labour.


– .Is this money additional to the amount of £249.000 to be provided out of loan funds and £174,050 from revenue for expenditure in the Federal Capital Territory, and set out in the Estimates?


– The simplest explanation is that funds are being expended from revenue and from loan. The budget speech contains a comparison of the amounts of money spent on works last year, and estimated to be spent this year from revenue and from loan. Honorable members will see under the section dealing with the Federal Capital Territory the amounts proposed to be expended in this financial year. The £170,000, which it is proposed to appropriate, now forms part of the £423,000 to which the honorable member referred. That amount, however, is not the complete total of the money that will be spent in Canberra during the current year for works purposes. Additional amounts will be spent on the “War Memorial, and relatively smaller works bringing the total very close to £500,000.


.- The Opposition has no objection to this bill. It would, however, like to receive an assurance from the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Paterson) that all persons engaged in work performed under the appropriation will be employed at award wages, and under award conditions.

Minister for the Interior · Gippsland · CP

– I can give the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) an unqualified assurance on the point that he has raised. Whether the work is done by contract, as most of it will be, or by day labour, as some of it will be, full award rates will be paid. It is a condition of acceptance of tenders that full award rates must be paid to employees on all work done for the Government.

Mr Lazzarini:

– An amount of £59,500 is set aside for architectural services. What is the meaning of that?


– It is part of the £70,000 allocated for housing. The vote is divided into two sections, one for engineering, and the other for architectural services.

Mr Brennan:

– It does not mean architects’ fees?


– Certainly not.


.- I hope that the Minister’s assurance wil be famed out. Similar assurances have been given before, but have not been carried out in their entirety. I desire to remind the Minister of the manner in which employees engaged on government works at Liverpool, New South Wales, were deprived of payment for holidays. lt should not be possible for men to be sacked three or four days before their holidays are due and re-employed shortly afterwards so that the employer will not be required to pay them for holiday time.

Mr Paterson:

– The men to whom the honorable member refers were not put off and put on again. Three weeks was the length of time for which they were to be employed at a stretch.


– They were sacked for ten days, slightly more than the normal period of the holidays to which they were entitled. They were not employed on relief work; they were employed on Commonwealth work on Commonwealth property at the Liverpool camp. I suggest that the Minister make further inquiries. These men were robbed of their holiday pay, as the result of being dismissed three or four days before their holidays were due, and then reemployed a little later. I do not desire to see a repetition of that at Canberra.

Mr Paterson:

– I shall make further inquiries into the honorable member’s complaint.

West Sydney

– The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has given meagre information to the House as to the details of the expenditure contemplated in this measure. He spoke in round figures. Dealing with the amount of £100,000 for the transfer of additional Commonwealth departments, he neglected to inform the House of what departments are to be transferred.

Mr Casey:

– Eventually, all departments.


– The Department of the Auditor-General was supposed to have been under orders to transfer to Canberra three or four years ago, but by some strange means, the gentleman in charge of that department seems to have been strong enough to resist the Government, and up to date, I believe, he has still been able to do so.

Mr Casey:

– The Auditor-General’s Department was at no time under instructions to transfer to ‘Canberra. If the Government had proposed to remove the central office to Canberra it would have issued instructions, and that would have been the end of the matter.


– I believe that it was made known to the Auditor-General that his department was to be transferred from Melbourne, but he has been astute enough to remain in that city until the eve of his retirement.

Involved in this question of the transference of officers from Melbourne to Canberra is the matter of compensation to be paid to officers who relinquish their Melbourne homes. Honorable members might be led to believe that portion of the £100,000 provided for the transfer of staffs to Canberra will result in providing employment, whereas as a matter of fact, a large portion may be paid in compensation to officers who are compelled to dispose of their Melbourne homes. The bill does not disclose details as to what this amount is to cover.

Mr Paterson:

– The payment of compensation could not be described as developmental work.


– In dealing with this matter the Minister merely made passing reference to the transfer of departments to Canberra. In transferring departments to Canberra, a number of other factors arise, and I understand that thi? amount is to cover whatever commitments have to be met in connexion with the transfer. In dealing with the provision of money for public works, it is customary for detailed information to be given as to the exact intentions of the Government. The information which I Seek from the Minister would be of interest to the residents of this city because their welfare depends upon the amount to be provided for wages.

In regard to the item “ Works Services I am looking at it from the angle of the amount to ‘be spent on wages Honorable members of this House know from the experience of the last few weeks that employment in the Federal Capital Territory is a very important matter. Furthermore, the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) in regard to award rates is very important. A large proportion of the work to be carried on may be under relief work conditions. Honorable members on this side of the House have expressed their strong disapproval of relief work conditions in the Federal Capital Territory. The Minister might be good enough to give honorable members more details of what is proposed. It would be interesting to know just what work of an engineering character is to be carried out in Canberra under the heading “ Engineering Services “. Before I came here I was connected with the engineering trade, and it would be of advantage to me to know what engineering works are to be carried out in the Federal Capital Territory. It is possible that more skilled labour than is available in the Federal Capital Territory at the moment might be required.

Mr Paterson:

– I shall give the details of the proposed works when the schedule is being considered in committee.

Treasurer · Corio · UAP

in reply - In reply to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), I may say that no compensation is provided for in this Loan Bill, and, indeed, the word compensation is not used departmentally in respect of the houses of transferred officers. These are taken over under certain conditions and the sum involved is a revenue charge and not a loan charge.

Honorable members know that all departments will, with the exception of the two largest departments, the Department of Defence and PostmasterGeneral’s Department, be transferred to Canberra at a relatively early date, as soon as accommodation can be provided. The others will be transferred eventually. Apart from that it is impossible to say which of the works will be proceeded with first. In certain areas the extension of water supply and sewerage is necessary. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) will deal with the specific items in committee. I ‘have nothing further to say at this stage, except, perhaps, to direct the attention of the honorable member for West Sydney to the wording of the schedule in which the £100,000 is described as being “ towards the cost of developmental works incidental to the transfer of staffs to Canberra “.

Mr Curtin:

– By “ engineering services “ I take it that the Minister means sewerage works and the like?


– Yes.

Mr Curtin:

– And “ works services “ includes the construction of cottages?


– Yes, although some engineering works may be involved in the construction of cottages.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

The bill.

Minister for the Interior · Gippsland · CP

– The whole of the provision of £59,500 set down for “ works services “ in the schedule is for the construction of houses for people who will be removed from their present homes at Duntroon owing to the military college being transferred back to Duntroon. Fifteen houses will be built at a cost of about £500 each, 32 at a cost of £600 each, 16 at a cost of £850 each, and 12 larger houses, bringing the total up to £59,500. The total amount provided for “ engineering services “ is made up as follows : -

These are all engineering services incidental to the construction of houses. So far as the provision of £100,000 is concerned, the works have not yet been decided upon in detail, but some of the money will be spent in connexion with the provision of water supplies and in adding to the sewerage mains. Generally the money will be expended in connexion with the developmental programme necessary in order to enable all the departments to be brought to Canberra.

Mr Curtin:

– Will the Minister replyto the point raised by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) in regard to the observance of award rates and conditions?


– It is the desire of the Government that awards shall be complied with fully, and every effort will be made to ensure that that is done. In regard to the dismissal of men during holidays in the Liverpool district, I shall have inquiries made in view of the additional information furnished by the honorable member. I was under the impression that those men were employed in a temporary capacity for three weeks at a time, and were put off for a certain number of weeks. I believed that the holiday period occurred at the time when those men were not working.

Mr Lazzarini:

– These men were working for a considerable time, but they were put off during the holidays.


– I give the honorable member the assurance that whatever was done was not done with the object of preventing the men from obtaining holiday pay. I shall make further inquiries into the matter.

Melbourne Ports

– Certain work is being done by tender for the Government in Canberra, and the price has been cut so low that the men have been unable to make the ordinary basic wage. In some cases the tenders have been let to foreigners. There is a good deal of that sort of thing going on where foreigners who are prepared to live on the smell of an oiled rag make it impossible for Australians to compete with them. I was approached recently and asked to lead a deputation to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) with regard to this matter, but I advised the men concerned to interview the Secretary to the department. I understand that the tender for the supply of firewood to Government departments and hostels in Canberra has been cut to such a low figure that it is absolutely impossible for the tenderers to make even the basic wage. It is not a good thing to let it be known that sweating conditions are permitted to operate in connexion with services rendered to the Commonwealth Government, especially in these days when the Prime Minister, the AttorneyGeneral and the Minister in charge of this bill (Mr. Casey) are devising ways and means to overcome the industrial chaos which exists at present, such as by a reduction of the hours of labour. It is just as essential where a man is working for himself and not employing labour to see that the price is not cut so low that he is unable to live on the wages he receives.


.- The Minister has stated that a number of houses are to be built at a cost of £500 each. I should like to know how many rooms these houses are to contain, and of what materials they are to be built. I am pleased to know that at last the Government has decided to transfer all the central staffs to Canberra. We understood that, when the seat of government was moved to Canberra, no delay would occur in the removal to the new capital of all the departments that would ultimately need to function from here. That such a long delay has already occurred in completing the transfer has been unfair to the officers who were transferred years ago, and also to the commercial community who, acting in good faith that the Government’s promises would be honoured, established themselves in business here. I am pleased that this amount of money is now being made available to facilitate the transfer.

Minister for the Interior · Gippsland · CP

– I cannot at the moment give the honorable member the details that he desires in regard to the number of rooms that the new houses will contain.

Mr Stacey:

– I am anxious about the matter, because the amount allowed for each house is so low.


– I promise the honorable member that I shall endeavour to obtain the information that he desires.

Bill agreed to and reported without amendment; report adopted.

Bill read a third time.

Sitting suspended from 6.3 to 8 p.m.

page 656


Ministerial .Statement

Debate resumed from page 652.


.- I shall endeavour to put before honorable members the way in which Italy views this trouble, but in doing so, I want it to be clearly understood that I do not for a moment condone or excuse the whole sale murder - for it is nothing else - being committed by Italy in the territory of a practically unarmed country. I merely wish to point out that Italy has not been the sole aggressor in this respect. Unfortunately, the history of colonial expansion, not only of Italy, but also of the other first-class powers, has often been one of cruelty, and often oppression. I believe that a great deal of trouble will occur in the future unless some arrangement is made whereby Germany and Italy, those two powers which have been denied an outlet for their population under their own flags, are given an opportunity to expand in proportion to their needs. I am not unmindful that Kaiser Wilhelm, of Germany, used to insist, when he was at the height of his power, that Germany must receive a place in the sun. Even when Germany possessed colonies they were mostly in tropical regions unsuitable for the support of a large white population.

Prom an imperialistic point of view we have had reason to congratulate ourselves on the fact that, as Britain was mistress of the seas half a century ago, it was able to seize any vacant territory that was unclaimed. I am not for the moment condemning that policy, which no doubt was sound enough at a time when other powers were not feeling the imminent need for expansion; but one of the undoubted fruits of that policy will be friction and conflict with other powers unless those powers are given an outlet for their surplus population.

Before the Great War, Italy was a member of what was known as the Triple Alliance, under which Italy, Austria and Germany bound themselves to render mutual aid in the event of any one of them being attacked. Unfortunately for Italy, when the war broke out, its geographical position rendered it so vulnerable to attack by the vast navies of Britain and France, that it was placed at the mercy of those powers. In 1915, some months after the war began, it entered into a secret arrangement known as the Treaty of London, which is referred to in the following extract: -

In April, 1915, Italy signed the secret Treaty of London by which she was promised, as the price of her support, the Trentino and Tyrol as far as the Brenner, Trieste and Istria, the Dalmatian coast, except Frume, full ownership of Albanian Valona, Adelia in Turkey and a share of the Turkish and German Empire in Africa in the eventual partition. Article 13 of the Treaty of London stated : “ Should France and England extend their colonial possessions in Africa at the expense of Germany, they will admit in principal Italy’s right to demand certain compensation by way of her possessions in Eritrea, Somaliland and Libia, and the colonial areas adjoining France and British colonies.” At the Peace Conference Italy maintained that this referred to Abyssinia,. but this was disputed by France. Only a few of these promises were kept. Italy emerged from the war a defeated nation to find herself again defeated in the negotiations at Versailles. Italian opinion was outraged, and Senor Orlando, Italy’s representative at the Peace Conference, stamped out of the council in a fury. Subsequently Italy received a few more of “the promised rewards. In 1924 England fulfilled her obligations by ceding to her Jul)aland and Port Kismayou, while subsequently she received 40,000 square miles of territory in the Sahara desert formerly in the possession of France.

As Signor Mussolini pointed out the other day, this area would be incapable of supporting any white population at all, only that parts of it are irrigated from wells. Even in the most favorable circumstances, it will never be able to carry a population of more than 300,000 white people. Italy, we must remember, is a comparatively poor country of less than three-fifths of the total area of France, and as it is traversed for practically its full length by the Appennine mountain range, much of it is unsuitable for cultivation. Nevertheless, the population of Italy is as great as that of France, and is increasing at the rate of 500,000 a year, as compared with an increase of 200,000 a year in Britain and France. Is it any wonder that, having regard to the Treaty of London, and Italy’s loss of 600,000 men in the war, the Italian people felt that they had been tricked by their late cobelligerents? I have here some information, culled from the Atlas of Current Affairs, in which it is pointed out how Germany lost her colonial possessions in Africa, and how they were divided among the victorious powers. Italy, under the Treaty of London, was to participate in that division. Here is one informative extract -

By the post-war treaties, all the German colonies in Africa were handed over, for the most part as mandates, to the victorious powers. Togoland was divided between Britain and France, the British (western portion) now being administered with the Gold Coast. A small area of the Cameroons, adjoining Nigeria, went to Britain; the larger part went to France, part of it as a mandated territory, while the southern part was definitely ceded, becoming part of French Equatorial Africa. German East Africa, with the exception of a small area in the northwest, which was added to the Belgian Congo, went to Britain, being named Tanganyika Territory. German South-west Africa, conquered during the war by the forces of the Union of South Africa, was handed over by mandate to the Union Government. The latter has recently taken steps to deal with Nazi organizations and propaganda in the territory.

Thus, all that Italy got out of the scramble was to have her nationals harried in German South-west Africa. It should be mentioned that, in addition to the gift of 46.,000 square miles of desert, Italy also received a small coastal strip in Jubaland, a fever-stricken region in which together with the adjoining territory of Italian Somaliland there are only 1,500 Italians, while the total population of Italian Somaliland is not more than 5,000. I commend these facts to the people who so stoutly support the imperialistic attitude, “ What we have we hold, and what we have not got we’re after “, and who boast that the sun never sets on the British Empire. I feel proud of many phases of British colonization. There is no doubt that the British race has a genius for colonization, but whether the Italians have a similar genius cannot be known, because they have never had an opportunity to demonstrate it.

Italy’s attempts to seek expansion in Abyssinia date back a considerable time. Indeed, some time ago Italy and Great Britain entered into a definite arrangement, which I will mention later, regarding part of Abyssinia. In 1923, Abyssinia was admitted to membership of the League of Nations, the following conditions being laid down : -

Abyssinia was admitted to the League in 1923, after she had undertaken, as a condition of admission, to abolish slavery. Yet, in the last twelve years, in spite of sundry prohibitions, slavery nourishes as before, and, according to Lady Simons’s book, Slavery, there are at least 2,000.000 slaves out of a total population of 10,000,000.

There is in the Commonwealth Library a book entitled Savage Abyssinia written by an American, J. B. Baum, presenting a record of his travels for the Field Museum of Chicago for the study of natural history. Before the present trouble arose, he pointed out that the ordinary free Abyssinian citizen does no labour of any kind whatever. There are 2,000,000 slaves in a country with a population of 10,000,000 people, and those slaves do ail the work. Apparently, they have not risen very greatly in the scale of civilization, for this writer points out that they eat meat raw, just as do the lowest savages. I shall not mention in detail the revolting tortures that they inflict upon prisoners taken in war. The Gallas, who comprise one portion of the population, are much more savage than the Semitic race, from which the Abyssinians round Lake Tsana have sprung. Before a Galla native becomes affianced, he has to afford concrete evidence of having killed a man, by presenting a portion of the body of his victim to the prospective bride.

The Labour party does not believe in the fascist form of government, however much it may commend itself to the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), and to those who embrace it. The ex-Attorney-General (Sir John Latham) was so enamoured of it that he made a special point of calling upon Mussolini while he was in Italy. What Italy points out, and what we desire to point out, is that, of the 50 or 60 States that comprise the League of Nations, a very small number, indeed, has decided to enforce sanctions. I admit that Great Britain is at perfect liberty to pursue whatever course appeals to it. I contend, however, that the disturbing elements which surround the Abyssinian situation have nothing whatever to do with Australia, and that it will be morally impossible to develop this country if we are to be plunged into every little war in which Great Britain may be engaged. The world war certainly seemed inevitable.. But let us not deceive ourselves thus Into in the day that Great Britain went to war with Germany because Germany marched through Belgium in order to conquer France. We adopted precisely the same principle at Salonica rn order to attack Turkey. Australia spent on the Great War no less than £700,000,000. Previously the Commonwealth had no national debt to speak of. I do not blame the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) for what he did during those difficult times. I raised my voice in protest, and in consequence lost my seat in Parliament. I am again prepared to take a similar stand to uphold a principle.

It is not so very long since two nations, that were more fitted to be members of the League than is Abyssinia, which has not kept its word in regard to the abolition of slavery, engaged in a conflict. Japan, while a member of the League, saw fit to mow down Chinese nationals at Shanghai with machine guns while they were in a position that allowed them no opportunity to escape. Men, women, and children were slaughtered. It is true that Great Britain and other nations protested, but there the matter ended. Japan afterwards seized Manchuria. Many specious statements were made by Japan to the effect that its only object was to suppress banditry. Every person in England, Europe, and Australia knew that that was not the reason. Even to-day Japan is knocking at the gates of Pekin. Did the League enforce sanctions to assist the helpless Chinese? It took no action whatever. Mussolini has a good case when he asks what reason the League has for interfering with Italy in Africa when it was not prepared to interfere with Japan in China. I may be told that Abyssinia is nearer than China to Europe, that danger exists in connexion with the Suez Canal, and that it is essential from the European viewpoint that Abyssinia should not be partitioned by Italy. My reply is that a greater distance separates Australia from Abyssinia than from. Japan. Quite apart from selfish motives, Australia would be in an impossible position if it were asked to expend its blood and treasure upon every little war for the acquisition of territory. Whatever may be behind the present conflict, neither the people of Australia, nor the Government has accurate knowledge of it. Even Mr. Bruce himself may be unacquainted with the Teal facts of the situation. I am sure that the interests of the people of England are not being consulted. Admittedly, unless some means can be devised to ensure observance of the principles of the League by members of it, the League is in danger of dis- integration. Because it is believed in some quarters that their interests would be served by the enforcement of sanctions, Australia should not adopt a similar attitude if the result would be to involve it in a purely European quarrel. Whether this Government so instructed Mr. Bruce or not, the fact is that the representative of Australia has done it an immense disservice by having dragged it into a controversy that may lead to a war in which it may have to play a part.

Let me deal with some of the remarks of a man who was referred to as being first in peace, first in war, and first in the hearts of his countrymen. I refer to the great patriot of America, George Washington. His farewell address to Congress may not apply directly to the situation in which we find ourselves, but it contains the germ of truth, and we may adopt as little or as much of it as we choose. He said -

Europe has a set of primary interests, which have none or a very remote relation to u3. Hence she must be involved in frequent contests, the causes of which will be essentially foreign to us. Hence therefore, it must necessarily be unwise on our part to implicate ourselves by an artificial connexion in the ordinary vicissitudes of European politics - in the combination and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites us to a different course, and enables us to pursue it. If we remain a united people, under an efficient government, the period is not distant when we may defy material injury from external annoyance - when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we shall, at any time resolve to observe, to be violated with caution- when it will bc the interest of belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, to be very careful how either forced vis to throw our weight into the opposite scale - when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall dictate.

Right up to the present day the United States of America has continued to observe the policy of declining to become embroiled in European conflicts, with tremendous advantage to itself. It is true that from the imperial view-point there are important British interests in portion of Abyssinia. Mussolini has stated clearly and definitely, however, that those interests will be preserved to Great Britain. The British desire is for a direct route from Cape Colony to Egypt, and that would be afforded by possession of a portion of western Abyssinia, known as Lake Tsana which is the source of the Blue Nile. The Blue Nile junctions with the White Nile at Khartoum, in the Sudan. The Nile waters are essential to the welfare of Egypt and the Sudan. The Sudan is administered by a condominion embracing Egypt and Great Britain. The population of 10,000,000 persons in Egypt, and that of 5,600,000 iff the Sudan, depend upon the Blue Nile, which, during the first week of September, carries fifteen times the volume of water carried by the White Nile, because of the terrific rains that then fall in Abyssinia. During the three and a half months prior to that period of the year, the equatorial lakes supplying the White Nile are at their lowest point. The British Government adopted the practice of placing a considerable number of barrages or big dams across the Nile at different points for the storage of the water, so that it might be liberated between January and June, when there is no rainfall, and very little water would otherwise come down. For several years Great Britain has had in mind the construction of a dam alongside Lake Tsana. The effect of this would be that, instead of this tremendous volume of water rushing down during a period of four and a half months, it would be distributed throughout the year. By private arrangement the Emperor Men e.lik reserved to Great Britain the right to build this dam, but so far it has not been built. Last June, however, a cable message from Egypt advised that the Governments of Egypt and Great Britain intended to proceed with the work immediately the trouble in Abyssinia was over. The Blue Nile, therefore, is of considerable importance, not only to Great Britain, but also to Egypt. In 1925 Great Britain and Italy agreed privately to support each other in securing the right of Great Britain to construct the Tsana dam, and the right of Italy to build a railway across Abyssinian territory, linking Eritrea with Italian Somaliland. When Abyssinia discovered the arrangement and published it to the world, Britain and Italy protested that they had the friendliest possible intentions towards Abyssinia and did not propose to proceed with it.

I do not wish to apologize for Italy. That country needs an outlet for its surplus population, but the methods which it is adopting to-day are inhumane, and I do not condone them. However, the European powers should not have encouraged Abyssinia by letting it believe that the League of Nations was behind it. The prohibition of the importation of arms into the country placed it in a false position. If an arrangement were made similar to that which Britain entered into with the late Emperor Menelik, and Italy were enabled to develop Abyssinia on the lines adopted by Britain in India, great benefit would result to both Italy and Abyssinia. In India, by means of huge irrigation works, Britain has brought millions of acres under the plough, to the lasting benefit of the native population. It is regrettable that there has not been open dealing over this dispute. It is not for me to point the finger of scorn at any country, but possibly tho selfish interests of both Britain and Italy are involved. The gun-boat diplomacy which has been employed by all European nations at various times is not tho proper means to adopt in a crisis of this kind. A little candour should have been exercised, and a more friendly feeling should have been shown by the nations concerned. If Britain and France had used their influence in that direction, it would have been much better than involving an indifferently-armed country like Abyssinia in a struggle with a power amply supplied with the most modern warlike equipment. A solution of the trouble might then have been found. The sacrifice made by Australia in the last war has impoverished it. “With the millions that were then expended we might have turned this country into a paradise with ample work for all. There must be other ways of settling an international dispute than by resorting to manoeuvring, which seems to have been practiced in this crisis.


.- The position of the Government has been so clearly expressed that it is with a certain degree of diffidence that I address the House on this important matter, because I fear that my own remarks may, to some extent, confuse the issue. But I feel that the Government, in taking the stand which it has, is entitled to hear from members of its own party exactly how they re-act to its pronouncement of policy. I warmly commend the Government for placing the full weight of Australia’s support behind Great Britain and the League of Nations in their efforts to maintain world peace. I feel confident that that is the view of the honorable members on this side of the House. As members of the Opposition profess to speak for the Labour section, I shall preface my remarks with a few quotations which will throw some doubt on the genuineness of that claim. Unquestionably there is a decided division of opinion on this matter in the ranks of Labour supporters. The Labour Premier of Western Australia (Mr. Collier) speaking on the 22nd August last, said -

I appreciate, perhaps, more than I have done in past years, the magnificent attitude adopted by the Government of Great Britain. If there has ever been an occasion in our history when wo might well be proud of the attitude of Great Britain and its Government it is to-day, not only with regard to this trouble but with regard to the questions of peace and disarmament.

The secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Railways Union, Mr. L. Ross, recently remarked -

We believe that the Federal and New South Wales Labour leaders are wrong in their attitude. We think a stand must be made against Italy, and for this reason link ourselves with the working-class movement in all parts of the world in demanding that the League shall apply sanctions. Our union and the Miners Union are the only ones in New South Wales to oppose the Lang policy on this subject.

Mr Rosevear:

– The honorable member is quoting Communists.


– It is suggested that these gentlemen are Communists. Let me inform the honorable member that a telegram from Adelaide., published in the press on the 26th ‘September last, stated -

Approval of the application of sanctions by members of the League of Nations to bring pressure to bear on Italy to prevent warfare with Abyssinia has been given by the United Trades and Labour Council, which represents more than 60,000 workers in South Australia.

My final quotation is from a speech by the Labour Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Ogilvie, who, in a statement made on behalf of his party on the 25th September last, said -

The day may come when Australia may be n dire need of help. How could we demand sanctions when attacked if in time of difficulty and danger we leave the weaker members of the League to fend for themselves. Great Britain and the dominions signed the Covenant of the League, and are morally bound to uphold principles of non-aggression. To abandon these obligations under the pressure of a fascist dictator is unthinkable, and must inevitably destroy the hopes of all those who wish the world to live- at peace. Sanctions mean peace, not war.

If the Labour Premiers of Western Australia and Tasmania fall within the category of Communists, communism must have a stronger hold in this country than we have been led to believe.

During the last few days, the wild statement has been made that those who support the present Government are a war party; but I claim that the attitude of the Ministry is summed up in the title of the minister of the department which administers our war and peace measures. He is styled the Minister for Defence, although in European countries this official is called the Minister for War. The Government has not adopted ;a warlike attitude in the present crisis, but has shown that it is acting entirely in the interests of peace. The collective system of security connotes defence -or nothing. Support has, perhaps, been given to the Labour party in connexion with this dispute, because of a misunderstanding - I prefer not to call it a misrepresentation - that the application of sanctions, or support of the League, necessarily means that Australia will be involved in a war of the same magnitude as that of 1914-1S. But nothing could be further from the truth. Reports received from overseas in the last few days clearly show that nothing of the kind is contemplated. The collective system is one of armed defence., which, in certain contingencies - extremely remote, if the system is applied at all - may demand resistance to attack. Under this system, a group of States agrees in given circumstances to boycott the war-maker by refusing to purchase his goods, to supply him with money, or to furnish him with any other means of carrying on a war. [f we must have armies and navies, let us make it clear , that their purpose is common resistance to the war-maker.

I think we may appropriately draw an analogy between the League of Nations and the police force in our own community. A nation is a collection of human beings, and the world is a collection of nations. These nations, in their behaviour to one another, exhibit the same characteristics as do human beings. We in Australia would think it sheer lunacy to suggest that we should depart from the system under which we have a deterrent body such as the police force to support the judiciary and the legislature in their attempts to maintain and regulate law and order. That, after all, is what the League of Nations is endeavouring to do. It represents an attempt on behalf of the nations of the world to preserve law and order, just as our police force applies it to individuals. Some years ago we had an illustration in Melbourne of what can happen when that deterrent body temporarily ceases to discharge its functions. Prior to the war which was launched upon civilization in 1914, we found in the world the same condition of disorder and anarchy which would prevail once again if the arguments of the Opposition were carried to their logical conclusion.

We may now properly ask what system the Labour party proposes to substitute for the League of Nations. The Labour view now put forward is that Australia should concern itself only with defence if attacked on its own shores by a foe from overseas. That interpretation was advanced by one speaker on this side of the House this afternoon, and it waa not disputed by the Opposition, so we may take it that it fairly represents Labour’s attitude to defence. But I claim that that attitude could only be supported if Australia were a selfcontained nation. It is not, and does not wish to be, self-contained, because a policy of isolation would mean that, with its enormous territory, and its comparatively small population, it would be thrown upon its own resources, and would then have to expend a sum out of all proportion to that now devoted to national defence. It would also have to devote to national defence time out of proportion to that now given to it, and despite the most energetic efforts it would still labour under a sense of insecurity. Australia can never be self-contained while it has to import oil, rubber, tea, coffee, cocoa and other essential products, just as it can never be prosperous until it is able profitably to export most of its primary products. It i3 nonsense to say that for defence purposes Australia can rely on a policy of isolation or selfcontainment. If that be the policy of the Labour party it is the policy of the ostrich. While scuttling from one danger it runs into greater perils. It was suggested - 1 think by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) - that Australia is tied to Great Britain hand and foot. Undoubtedly, many ties exist between the two countries. They are strong ties, not of hand and foot, but of head and heart; ties which are based on healthy sentiment and on sound commonsense. That healthy sentiment arises largely and inevitably from the fact that we are sprung from British stock. Australia and Great Britain have common traditions and history. It amazes me, and is beyond the comprehension of any genuine Australian, that it should be suggested that the Commonwealth should stand aloof when Great Britain is in a position of peril. While Australia may, to a certain extent, and along the most reasonable lines, influence Great Britain’s foreign policy, it should never, and I suggest it will never, lose sight of the fact that its foreign policy iB ultimately and fundamentally bound up with that of Great Britain. Is it suggested that if the heart of the Empire is threatened with danger, Australia should stand apart as a disinterested onlooker? Suan a policy could not be entertained by any genuine Australian.

The Attorney-General last night clearly set out ‘three possible courses which Australia could adopt in the present crisis, and just as clearly placed his finger on the only policy which this country could ‘honestly pursue. The two courses which remain are the system of collective security within the British Empire, and the alternative of full support of the League of Nations. The same objection can be taken to the policy of security within the British Empire as against the suggestion that Australia should depend for its security on isolation. In the -first place it would place upon the Empire intolerable burdens of expense and insecurity. I sug- gest that such a policy should be considered by the British Empire only when it finds that other attempts to obtain security have failed. The only possible alternative, therefore, is support of the League of Nations.

I find it difficult to believe that honorable members of the Opposition are suggesting that we should hot support the League so long as its decisions’ are in accordance with the Covenant and the articles of procedure. Has Australia not signed the Covenant of the League of Nations, and is it not still a member of the League? If Australia to-day disavows its membership and its obligations it should immediately inform the League that it no longer desires to be part of the League. Does the Opposition claim that Australia should at once throw off the cloak of the League and relinquish the security which it gives not only to the great powers of the world, but also to .the smaller and weaker countries, including Australia ?

Mr Rosevear:

– And China.


– Much of the argument in tlie present debate has hinged upon the fact that the Sino-Japanese crisis was not adequately treated by the League. I do not intend to attempt to apologize for the League’s action at that time. T am prepared to admit that the League did not act with the strength that its adherents would have liked to see. But is there any justification for a declaration that the League, which, after ail, is the expression .of an ideal and has been in existence -for less than twenty years, should be thrown overboard because at one stage pf its history it did not possess the strength which no intelligent person could expect it to possess at such an early period ? At any rate that argument cannot be entertained as justification for Australia withdrawing its membership. Australia is still a member of the League pf Nations, and when it accepted membership it accepted certain obligations. Reasons not only of honour and probity, but also of expediency, prohibit such a course. There remains therefore the necessity for Australia to maintain its association with the League, and to give its full support to it.

If there ‘ exists any danger that the world may be involved in another conflict it is, I think, due to the fact that never previously has there been a collective expression by members of the League that they will not permit conflict. If aggressors know beforehand that every war will be a world war, in other words, that they will have to face the world, or a large part of it, there will be no war. There would have been no world war if Germany could have foreseen that twenty States would oppose it. The world war came not because those twenty States were committed beforehand to common resistance, but because they were not. If Italy had clearly understood that collective resistance would be made, there would have been no act of aggression against Abyssinia. Though the League may fail, there is no hope for the world but along its way. The League must not fail. International anarchy must not return to a world which has seen the birth of international law and order. Australia, as a signatory to the Covenant of the League, must do its part to ensure that international law and order will triumph over international anarchy.


.- The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) said that he was pleased at the clear and definite statement made on behalf of the Government as to Australia’s position. If the honorable gentleman is pleased at what the Government has announced, it requires very little to satisfy him.

Numerous attempts have been made in this House by the Opposition to obtain from any responsible Minister a clear and definite statement of the position of Australia in relation to the decisions reached by the Council of the League of Nations. On every occasion on which the Opposition has approached the question, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has been distinctly evasive. He, however, made the important admission, that he, without consulting Parliament or his own party, or even Cabinet, committed Australia “ up to the hilt “ to support Great Britain in any move that it might make to preserve peace. The right honorable the Prime Minister followed that statement by saying that the newspapers were able to give to the people information regarding the position overseas before the Government itself was in possession of it. That is all he has been prepared to admit up to date. He committed Australia up to the hilt to follow Great Britain in its efforts to maintain the peace of the world, but was not prepared to disclose the methods by which Britain proposed to maintain peace, or the sacrifices to be made by Australia following a decision to impose sanctions. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) made what he termed a most deliberate and considered statement which was only deliberate in its evasiveness, and only considered in the aspect of how much he could conceal, and how much he was not prepared to tell the House. He, however, went further than the Prime Minister was prepared to go by disclosing that Australia was not only pledged up to the hilt to support Great Britain’s efforts to maintain the peace of the world, but was also at a certain time to give wholehearted support to the pressure that was to be placed on Italy. He said -

Australian policy has been declared in no uncertain terms. That policy was wholehearted support of the British Government in its continued efforts to secure peace and for the maintenance of the principles of the League. There can be no clearer indication of policy than in those last words, because they have behind them the full knowledge and the full responsibility of the obligations underlying the Covenant.

In addition to being committed to support Great Britain in its peace policy, Australia is, therefore, committed to maintain the Covenant of the League of Nations, which provides for sanctions and possibly war.

Honorable members opposite have expressed serious doubts whether members of the Opposition really speak for the Australian Labour party. Out of the ramifications of the Labour movement, the honorable member for Fawkner has quoted a few minute sections which have arrived at decisions favorable to th, Commonwealth Government’s point of view. The Labour party will welcome any test that the honorable member’s party may like to make to discover how the Labour movement stands on this question. It is notable that the honorable gentlemen opposite who have quoted from the various organizations connected in some way or another with the Australian Labour party were not prepared to give the name of one organization which supported the action of the Government regarding the imposition of sanctions. I refer to the Communist body known as the “ Movement Against “War and Fascism”. A letter to the Prime Minister from that organization supports the action that the Lyons Government proposes to take. It reads 23rd September, 1935.

TheRt. Hon. J. A. Lyons.

Prime Minister of Australia,

Houses of Parliament, Canberra, F.C.T

Dear Sir:

I am directed by the National Council of the Movement Against War and Fascism to bring before your notice its attitude to the Abyssinian crisis, which you will find as follows : -

  1. In view of the gravity of the Abyssinian crisis, bringing with it, as it does the imminent danger of war between Italy and Abyssinia ; between Italy and Great Britain over the Abyssinian question, and finally the terrible danger of a world war, we make the following proposals and urge your Government to immediately make them known by cable both to the Italian and British Governments;
  2. That the Italian Government take immediate steps to bring about the complete and unconditional withdrawal of all its troops, as well as machinery of war. from Abyssinia or adjacent areas where they might remain a. danger to world peace;
  3. The immediate lifting of the arms embargo on munitions of war to Abyssinia should Italy fail to comply with the above demand;
  4. That, failing to comply with the above demands, the British Government, as a leading and powerful member of the League of Nations, take immediate steps to bring before the League of Nations the need to apply League sanctions to the situation and close the Suez Canal to Italian shipping:
  5. 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 above movement urges that the fullest pressure be brought into play by the Federal Government of Australia for the purpose of preserving world peace. To aid in this work the National Council of the Movement Against War and Fascism will call upon every available force amongst the people of Australia in a campaign to prevent resort to war as a solution of differences between the nations.

For unity and success in this hour of danger and gravity,

Yours fraternally, (Sd.) W. H. Nugent,

For the National Council.

While the Government is accepting the assistance of organizations of this character and professing that genuine Labour organizations are standing behind the Government, it is bringing forward amendments of the Crimes Act which will destroy the very organization which is pledging itself in support of the vital steps the Government has taken, and which, we claim, will eventually lead to war. These are the classes of organizations which have supported the Government’s policy. Honorable members opposite referred to a number of unions. They instanced the Australian Railways Union as one which supports the Government in this matter. As a matter of fact, the members of the Australian Railways Union have not considered this question at all. The gentleman who spoke on behalf of the executive of that union is a man with distinct communistic tendencies. Nor has thi3 question been considered by the Miners Federation. The president and secretary of that federation who wrote to the Prime Minister offering their support to the Government in its action, are selfconfessed Communists. While the Minister for Commerce talks about the confusion in the ranks of the Labour movement, and the honorable member for Fawkner talks about the clear and concise statement of Government policy, let us consider three speeches delivered by prominent members of the Government to which we have listened during the last 24 hours, and see the confused thought that exists in the Cabinet. I refer to those of the Minister for Commerce, the Minister for Defence, and the AttorneyGeneral. The Minister for Commerce denied that Great Britain was about to be involved in a war, and that Australia would be willy-nilly dragged in by the heels. Next the. Minister for Defence, speaking in regard to the presence of H.M.A.S. Australia in the Mediterranean, said that it was engaged in training operations and the fact that it was now in the Mediterranean “ did not necessarily involve her in war - if war came - without the consent of the Australian Government “. The Attorney-General, after a very laboured argument about the King of England being also the King of all the dominions, concluded by saying: “If it is one in, it is all in “. So we have three Ministers, one saying that Australia would not be dragged in by Great Britain, another saying that the Australia in the Mediterranean would not be involved in hostilities without the consent of the Australian Government, and the third saying, “ One in, all in,” and that no section of the Empire could stand out while the rest of the Empire participated in a war.

The Minister for Commerce said that he had recently received many letters from individuals regarding the Government’s action in this matter. I have not the least doubt that he has received those letters. Every time we experience a crisis of any magnitude, Ministers receive letters from cranks all over Australia. No doubt the Minister has already received letters signed by “ Mother of Ten “, “ Pro bono publico “ and the like. But I suggest that the right honorable member will have to show something more substantial as being the voice of the Labour movement than the Communist elements he has already referred to as speaking for the Labour movement in Australia.


– The honorable member for Fawkner said that we on this side claimed that the Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Ogilvie, is a Communist. No such claim, has ever been made by honorable members on this side of the House. Any such stupid statement would be more likely to come from the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane).

The Minister for Commerce said that various sections of labour overseas had pledged their support to the British Government, but he did not cite the words of the Prime Minister oi Great Britain. Members on the other side of the House have continually said: “Even if we arc involved in sanctions, it will not necessarily mean war.” The Prime Minister of Great Britain was asked a direct question on that point and said that sanctions undoubtedly would lead to war.

Let us consider the statement made by the Minister for Defence that H.M.A.S. Australia is with the British Fleet at the present time because of an exchange arrangement made between British and Australian authorities, and that we have taken the cruiser Sussex in exchange for the Australia. The excuse he gave for the presence of the Australia in the potential war zone was the necessity for it to manoeuvre with large fleets. I should like to know if the large fleet operating in the potential war zone in the Mediterranean is the only large fleet that Great Britain possesses. I suggest that if the only reason for the presence of the Australia in the Mediterranean is for the purpose of manoeuvring with large fleets, she could very well be placed with equally large fleets operating outside the war zone. “While the Minister foi- Defence says that that is the reason for the presence of the Australia in the Mediterranean, we have on the other hand the statement of the Minister for Commerce that the Australia is in the Mediterranean for the purpose of protecting the trade route through the Suez Canal. I do not know who is the responsible Minister in these matters, but apparently something is going on and this House is not being taken into the confidence of the Government. Let us accept for the moment , the statement that there is an arrangement for the exchange of ships between Great Britain and Australia. If that is so the Australia is officially, at present, a British ship, and the Sussex an Australian ship. Yet we have recently received the alarming information that the Sussex is not in Australian waters at all. As a matter of fact early this week we were informed that she has arrived at Aden, not very far from the scene of hostilities. If the Sussex is to be regarded as an Australian ship, I desire to know why she is at Aden, and if any arrangement has been made to send her back to home waters? If she has been returned to the British fleet, then the Australia should return to this country. It appears to me, however, that the Australia is in the Mediterranean for a very definite purpose. In common with other people in the Labour movement I believe that she is virtually a decoy ship and that her presence in the Mediterranean constitutes an opportunity for prolific war propaganda. The people of Australia would not tolerate Australia entering the war, under the present flimsy pretexts, but if that ship were in the firing line, and her Australian crew suffered, it would be an agency for prolific propaganda on behalf of the warmongers of Australia.

The Minister for Defence said that there were many voices in the Labour movement at the present time. Quite possibly that is true; small sections of the Labour movement are not so well acquainted with the facts as other sections; and I know of no crisis that has ever faced the Labour movement without a division of opinion upon it. I remind honorable members who talk so much about divisions in the Labour movement on this question that it is only similar to that which existed in 1917 on the question of conscription. There are a few honorable members sitting on the Government benches to-day who were prepared to disregard the principles of the Labour movement on that issue. I do not think that the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) would claim that he spoke on behalf of the Labour movement in 1917 when he argued on the conscription issue.

The Attorney-General referred to the King of England as being the King of Australia. It is not easy to bring the King’s name into the discussions in this House, but the Attorney-General had to have something to bolster up his argument.

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).Order ! The Attorney-General was perfectly in order in his references to the King yesterday.


– I do not intend to use the name of the King in any connexion other than that used by the AttorneyGeneral yesterday, but I suggest that his name was imported into the discussion to give extra weight to the contention put forward by the AttorneyGeneral. He claimed that the King of England was also the King of Australia and of all the other dominions, and that it would be impossible for any of the dominions to stay out of any particular conflict in which Great Britain might be engaged. As a matter of fact he quoted certain authorities to back him up. But he did not quote Mr. Anthony Eden, who has been conducting negotiations on behalf of the British Government at the meeting of the Assembly of the League of Nations. That gentleman emphasized the importance of the dominions assisting the League in a display of moral unity and pointed out that, while the ultimate sanctions remained for final decision by each government, sanctions should not be allowed to fail through half-hearted tardiness. Mr. Eden thus disagrees with the Attorney-General’s contention, and makes it very clear that, no matter what the position of the British Government might be, in regard to sanctions the dominions must be consulted before any action is taken or before they are committed in any way. The AttorneyGeneral also quoted Mr. De Valera’s opinion of the League Covenant; but he was not prepared to state Mr. De Valera’s opinion with regard to his other contention that the King of England is also the King of Ireland. I also question whether Mr. De Valera shares the view of the Attorney-General that the fact that England goes to war automatically involves Ireland in also going to war.

Up to date the debate has largely hinged upon principles, the legality of the actions of the various contenders, and sentiment. I intend, during the few minutes at my disposal, to deal with motives, which so far in this debate have, not been mentioned. I think on many occasions very high-sounding principles are enunciated for purposes of motive, and that the legality of certain situations is upheld when there is a motive for doing so. No matter how good the sentiment might be, very often the motive is too strong for the sentiment. The question of motive cannot be overlooked if we are to get to the bottom of the whole situation. The League of Nations was the creation of President Wilson who was undoubtedly an idealist. He went to the Peace Conference with a handful of trumps, but he did not know how to play his cards. He handed over the work of creating the machinery of the League of Nations to international diplomats, jurists and political intriguers. As a result, although President Wilson was inspired by the best of motives, and the principles which he enunciated were acceptable to every section of the community in every country of the world, the final job these diplo- mats,, jurists and political intriguers made of the machinery of the League was so poor that the United States of Americathe creator of the League of Nations - was the first to repudiate it. America established the principle of the League of Nations, but it did not set up the machinery of the League, and in that respect President Wilson, with all his idealism, failed to sum up the situation at the Peace conference. Japan and China were members of the League of Nations when Japan violated the principles of the League. Not one member of this Government, nor any advocate of the League, or of sanctions of war, if necessary, has been prepared to justify the attitude that was taken up by the League in the Sino-Japanese dispute. Later Germany disagreed with other members on the matter of armaments and left the League. The original policy of the League was to, preserve peace by outlawing war, but the policy of the individual nations composing the membership of the League has always been to preserve peace by preparing for war. This difference of outlook has resulted in an armament race. Consequently in every dispute with which it has had to. deal the League, instead of repudiating the aggressor, has offered it concessions in order to pacify it. As one person, who. took a prominent part in negotiations of this kind ha3 stated, the other members, of the League were prepared to give to Italy peacefully a substantial portion of what Italy might have hoped to gain, by war against Abyssinia. If the integrity of Abyssinia was really at, stake, why should any country have offered- Italy anything at all, whether Italy threatened to go tq war or not? The Deputy Leader of the Government yesterday made the remarkable statement that even at this stage, after Italian armies have marched into Abyssinia, and thousands of lives have been lost, there is a possibility of a reasonable settlement acceptable to both sides. If anything -could’ be more utterly futile than that, I would like to hear it from those people, who have spoken, so gliblyabout the principles which animate- the League of Nations.. Are. they of theopinion that when, one country, has- been definitely adjudged- the aggressor., and there, is a probability of’ an uneven conflict the first duty of the. League of Nations is to offer to the aggressor something which that country might hope to gain by war? That policy having failed, Italy having gone to war, and thousands of lives having been lost, the Deputy Leader of the Government says now that there appears to be a reasonable chance of a settlement acceptable to both sides. I have never heard anything more condemnatory of the functions of the League of Nations.

Mr White:

– How would the honorable member propose that the dispute should be settled?


– I leave that to the honorable member. The policy of the League of Nations is not dictated by any consideration for the integrity of a country that may be attacked, but is determined by the interests of those most concerned in that particular country. Diplomats who were responsible for the war that was to end war, and subsequently, for the peace that was to end peace, still figure on the international stage. If any of them have since disappeared, their places have been taken by others with an outlook similar to that of their predecessors. The last war did not curb the expansionist desires of imperialistic powers. Features of the culture which that notable showman, Mussolini, has been trying to instil into the people of Italy are a spirit of intense nationalism and a desire for territorial expansion. Even while he preached such doctrines, this Government and the governments of Great Britain and France paid no attention, to. him. As the honorable, member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has pointed out, the Governments of France and Britain financed the Fascist regime in Italy, but immediately Italy sought t© put into operation the fascist, doctrine of colonial expansion, and. those ideas conflicted with the interests of France and Britain,, then the fat was in the fire. It was not until that stage was reached that the members of the League of Nations,, either individually or collectively, became interested, in anything Mussolini was d’oing in Italy. Strippingthis matter of all’ humbug and talk of high-flown- principles that usually surround” negotiations- of- this- character, I claim -that interests of1 this, nature- which, are at stake at the moment in Abyssinia will influence other countries to impose sanctions on Italy as they will also ultimately decide whether or not a world war shall arise out of the present conflict.

Abyssinia offers an ideal chance for Italian colonial expansion, first, because of its proximity to Italy; secondly, because of its trade possibilities; thirdly, “because of its vast undeveloped natural wealth; fourthly, because it offers avenues for the settlement of surplus Italian agriculturists; and, fifthly, because it is the only self-governing native race in Africa which has not yet been entirely dominated by a European power. The first reason advanced by Italy for invading Abyssinia was that it sought to Christianize that country and suppress the slave traffic. This was rather a remarkable claim, particularly as Italy intended to carry out this process with machine guns, poison gas and other implements of war. However, when it was pointed out that Abyssinia had actually embraced the principles of Christianity at a time when Italians were feeding Christians to lions, and that slaves exported from Abyssinia were embarked at French and Italian ports, Italy dropped the sham, and then claimed that its intention was to avenge the defeat of Italian arms at Adowa in the nineties.

To get to the root of this trouble, we have to look at it from all points of view. The time had arrived when Mussolini, who had been promising certain benefits to the Italian people, and had been promoting the ideals of intense nationalism and colonial expansion, had to stop speaking and act; and for the reasons I nave indicated, the conquest of Abyssinia appeared to present the best means of enabling him to extricate himself from difficulty. Furthermore, we have to recognize that Italy has rapidly become one of the great manufacturing nations of the world, and that its secondary industries to-day suffer from the lack of raw material. The city editor of the London Daily Telegraph has pointed out that Italy in order to meet the needs of its secondary industries, has to import 99 per cent, of its cotton, 80 per cent, of its wool, 95 per cent, of its coal, 99 per cent, of its mineral oil, 99 . per cent, of its copper, and 53 per cent, of its other metals. Having to rely upon foreign countries for such a great proportion of the raw material it needs, Italy has necessarily been obliged to look for new colonies. Much of the raw material it required was to be found in Abyssinia, whose natural wealth has practically not yet been tapped. The probability is that it will not be tapped by Abyssinia for many years to come. The other nations more directly interested in this dispute, Britain and France, have sources of raw materials in various parts of the world. Italy is starving in this respect. If it could become possessed of such sources it would become a more active competitor of these countries in the markets of the world. It is to the benefit of Britain and France to prevent Italy from obtaining such sources, and it is from such considerations as these that’ the probability of a struggle between these powers arises. When Italy threatened to invade Abyssinia, France and Britain, in the name of the League of Nations, stepped in to guard the peace; but they are more concerned, I suggest, with guarding their pieces in Abyssinia.

Let us now examine Britain’s interest in Abyssinia. A report published by the British Department of Overseas Trade on economic conditions in Abyssinia in 1931 says -

British merchants handle about 36 per cent, of the total import trade and rather a larger portion of the exports. Although it is a matter for regret that the percentage of their imports of British manufacture is not greater (42 per cent, from the United Kingdom and India - 21 per cent, from each), it is satisfactory to notice that they have established themselves as indispensable to the well-being of Ethiopian commercial economy.

I stress the point that this is an extract from a report which appeared in an official publication of the British Government. To a large extent it sums up Great Britain’s interests in Ethiopian commercial economy in 1931. Those interests still maintain their predominance in Abyssinian trade. A vast tract of country in Abyssinia surrounds Lake Tsana, which is the natural watershed of the Nile. So long as that country is in the hands of Abyssinia, it will remain the supply for the great irrigation schemes in the Sudan and Egypt, in which British, investors have spent mil- lions of pounds. But if it should fall into the hands of Italy, it might not be beyond the powers of Italian engineers to divert those waters for the benefit of Italians settled in Abyssinia. This fact, I suggest, reveals Britain’s greatest interest in the present dispute. To those who challenge this statement, I point out that even at the height of the tension arising out of the Abyssinian situation, Signor Mussolini was particularly concerned to inform the British Government that British rights in that particular area would be respected in the event of Italy assuming control of Abyssinia. Yet honorable members opposite endeavour to convince this House that Britain’s interest in the Abyssinian situation is purely one of concern for the preservation of the integrity of Abyssinia.


– The honorable member has exhausted his time.

Minister for Trade and Customs · Balaclava · UAP

– I congratulate the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) on his maiden speech. In his clear, lucid and learned contribution to this debate, he showed himself to be a worthy successor of his good and learned predecessor, the late Mr. Maxwell. I hope that the lofty sentiments which characterized the honorable gentleman’s remarks will be reflected in all his utterances in this House, in which I trust he will enjoy a long and honorable career. In saying this, I know that I echo the sentiments of all honorable members on this side of the House.

The subject we are now discussing is not a party matter; it transcends any of the usual party issues that divide us from time to time in this Parliament. It is a question of whether we are to carry out our national obligations, whether, as signatories to the League Covenant, we shall act in a manner true to our traditions, and endeavour to prevent aggression and war.

It is very easy to criticize the League. We have been told by honorable members opposite that it is an imperfect instrument that does not function fully. We know that it received a heavy blow from the defection of the United States of America, and it also suffered when Japan and Germany left it. The League is not above criticism, and it has had its failures. It can be criticized for its inaction in the Manchurian incident, but the nations were not then prepared to take action to impose sanctions on Japan. However, when we consider the centuries of national and racial antagonisms, the jealousies and greed that divide nations, and realize that all these obstacles had to be overcome in order to bring the League into being, it is not to be expected that the League could become a perfect instrument in less than twenty ycai’3. We all realize that national flags and national boundaries will divide the world for many generations to come. The full ideal we seek may yet be centuries from attainment, because, with all our claims to the possession of civilized minds, there is still a good deal of the primitive in our souls. If each man were actuated by the highest Christian ethics he would do the right thing by his neighbour in all circumstances. The problems of the individual are the problems of the nation. If the practical ideals professed by such organizations as the Boy Scout movement, or among adults as exemplified in the Oxford Group movement, which has already swept Norway, and so turned men’s hearts to peace and goodwill that a reconciliation was made possible between Norway and Denmark - if those ideals actuated Italy at the present time, this tense, international situation would not exist. The family of nations is only a magnification of the ordinary family within the nation. If the League is to attain perfection it must receive the support of all the nations of the world. Because the League is not yet perfect is no reason why we should abandon it. Though it has had its failures, it has had its great successes. The Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) pointed out the success of the League in the Gran Chaco dispute, and in the management of the Saar difficulty. Also, following upon the assassination of the King of Jugoslavia, the League was undoubtedly successful in preventing war.

If we desire to show that the Great War was not fought in vain, if the colossal cost in lives, suffering and treasure is not to go for nothing, then the ideal of the League must be supported. [Quorum formed.’] The League ideals may be summed up as follows: -

First, that all shall guarantee the territory and independence of each against violent change (Article 10), the m e:111:. for revising ail treaties and achieving any change bloodlessly being provided in the League (Articles; 11, 15, 1!) and 20).

Second, that all shall join forces against, any nation that takes the law into its own hands (Article Ki).

Third, that all shall reduce national armaments, in the last analysis, to police requirements . . .

From honorable members opposite wo have heard much criticism, tinged with bitterness, that we should contemplate the possibility of another war when we recall that the last one was described as a “war to end war”, fought so that democracy might be saved. It has been stated that that claim was a mockery; that the war was a futile effort, and that the flower of our manhood died in vain. It has been said that although the war was supposed to be fought for the preservation of democracy, it did not in fact preserve democracy. To those who make that statement, I say that the democratic government which still survives within the British Empire certainly would not have survived had we not emerged victors from the war. That much can be learned from the history of various European countries and their dictatorships in the period following the war. And was the war fought in vain? Undoubtedly, from the welter of misery and suffering of the war, from the hardship endured by the men who were engaged in it, something was learned by those men personally. They learned something of comradeship and patience and fortitude. They do not need to be told that there should not be another war. The. returned soldiers of all countries of the Empire, meeting in conference in Melbourne last year during the centenary celebrations, endorsed a resolution that they would support the League of Nations. They are aware that another war would be much more hideous and frightful even than the last. “With the increased range and carrying capacity of modem aircraft, and the development of deadly gases, another war would be brought much nearer to every member of the community than has ever happened before. A war in the future will not be confined to the armies in the field. If individuals have learned the bitter lesson of the last war, surely the nations have learned something too. This ideal that was born of the war, the ideal of the League of Nations, should be supported by every country of the world whether the League in its present statebe perfect or imperfect. It amazes me that the Labour party, which professes to stand for democracy, which, has over and over again supported the ideals of the League, and has accepted its mandates with pride,, can now repudiate the League in its efforts to secure peace. The Leader ot the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) himself has attended conferences in Geneva under the auspices of the League dealing with industrial and humanitarian matters, as also has the Leader of the other Labour party in this House. Yet, on a matter which involves the lives of millions of men, they decline to stand by their obligations under the League;

The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has shown how the Labourparty itself is divided on this issue. It is useless for the Opposition to point out that those who disagree with them arecommunists. In this dispute Russia ie> on the same side as Great Britain. Isit not heartening to see the nations of the world coming together in an attempt to prevent another holocaust? TheLabour Premier of Tasmania has declared his support of the British point of view, and an authoritative Labourjournal published in Adelaide has donethe same. Surely the Opposition has not considered this matter fully before taking a stand. Members of the Labour party in this House should seriously think of the possible consequences if they fail to support the League on this vital matter as they have supported it in itsattempts to secure industrial and social improvements.


– Will the Minister saya word on the proposal that Australia should be expected to do more than eitherJapan or the United States of America is prepared to do?


– -That is a rather tall order. Australia is a small unit in the scheme of things, but we are, nevertheless, part of a league greater even than that which sits at Geneva-; we are part of the British Empire, of -whose history and traditions we have every reason to be proud. I am surprised not to have heard from honorable members opposite some expression of pride in being British, in being citizens of the British Empire, which comprises one quarter of the world. Within that quarter of the world, at any rate, there is a large instalment of world peace. The Empire is strong enough to maintain a position of isolation, but that is not its policy.

Honorable members opposite have criticized some aspects of British colonial expansion, but that is a matter of the past, and we must now deal with present actualities. If Britain has taken territory to which it was not entitled, Lt has made ample amends for it since. We have only to think of Britain’s efforts on behalf of Mesopotamia, where 90,000 British and Indian soldiers lost their lives during the war. When the war was over Britain handed over the country to the Arabs, after a period of development under mandate, leaving only a few civil officers to assist the government. In South Africa, also, the Boers and the British are now living in amity side by side, and the latest news is that General Hertzog has thrown in his lot with Britain in this dispute. Another South African, General Smuts, is reported as follows: -

General Smuts this week has reminded Franco and Britain that if the League fails to take a strong line against aggression, under their co-operative leadership, then civilization, in Europe as well as in Africa, would be shaken to its foundations. The lesson - both of our duties and our own interests - is clear for the Government to read . . .

Britain is on the side of peace, and is actuated by the ideals and standards that have exalted it among the nations of the world. It has not shirked its obligations in the past, and will not shirk them in the future. It would be a standing disgrace, and something akin to treachery, if we failed to keep Great Britain’s arteries flowing with sustenance in the event of the Motherland becoming involved in a war., and if we did not offer our support in this emergency. This dispute is not a British quarrel with Italy. Italy has definitely broken four international agreements, not only contracts made with Great Britain. It entered into an agreement with France and Britain in 1906 to guarantee the independence of Abyssinia. In 1923, Italy sponsored Abyssinia’s entry into the League of Nations - admittedly there were qualifications regarding the sponsorship - and under Article X. of the Covenant, every member of the League is guaranteed its independence by the other signatories. Five years later Italy contracted a bilateral treaty with Abyssinia, guaranteeing the latter’s territorial integrity, and containing an undertaking never to resort to war as a means of settling disputes. [Quorum formed.-] It was agreed that matters of controversy between the two nations should be adjusted by peaceful means. But only three days ago, at the bar of world opinion, Italy was adjudged to have violated her solemn obligations under Article XII. by resorting to war within three months of the dispute being referred to the Council of the League of Nations. In the face of the Italian attitude, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) now asks why the League does not implore Italy to cease its warlike actions. Great Britain has made superlative efforts in the last few months to persuade Italy to settle the dispute without resorting to war. France and Britain have offered portions of their own African possessions in a genuine attempt to satisfy Mussolini’s demands, and those two powers even persuaded Abyssinia to cede portion of its territory with economic concessions to Italy. In some wellinformed quarters, it is considered that these efforts at compromise went too far, and threatened the economic independence of Abyssinia. But Mussolini contemptuously rejected every proposal to effect a peaceful settlement. One reaches a stage in civil life, as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has pointed out, where intervention by the police is necessary. Without the aid of the police, in the final resort, the judiciary and legislature cannot function ; and so it is with nations. The League has endeavoured to settle by conciliation and arbitration disputes that have arisen between nations, and in the past has achieved some measure of success. In this instance, however, it has gone to great lengths in an effort to achieve an agreement by peaceful means.

But Italy has scorned every proposal, and has sent numbers of troops through the Suez Canal to the borders of Abyssinia. Quite obviously, Italy intended to resort to war and to avenge the humiliation of Adowa. It has already made some penetration into that “tropical Switzerland “ but there will be a heavy toll of Italian soldiers, through sickness, disease, and climatic conditions. Being armed with all the modern machinery of war, Italy must ultimately achieve success, but may yet lay its case before the League. This gives rise to the hope that the war may not be of long duration. Yet. one honorable member opposite said that it was ridiculous to suggest calling a halt now. Does the Opposition desire hostilities to continue and to involve other nations, or does it prefer collective action on the part of the nations to end the possibility of a world war? The Opposition has spoken with horror of the application of sanctions? The Labour party, however, is one of the greatest exponents of economic sanctions at the present time. In reality prohibitive tariffs are economic sanctions against trade, and are being exercised daily by many nations for the preservation of trade and the creation of employment. Some form of financial or trade sanctions may be necessary against Italy, and Australia may not be involved in war at all. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Kellogg Pact should be sufficient to justify the nonintervention of Australia. The Kellogg Pact is something ancillary to the League of Nations. As it happens, Italy is a signatory to the Pact and so are” Abyssinia and Japan. Italy and Abyssinia, both members of the League, are at war with one another, regardless of their obligations, and the Opposition asks Australia to stand fast while the weaker nation is annihilated ! The Opposition pleads for non-co-operation and nonparticipation, the policy of Gandhi in India, and desires to prevent any man from leaving these shores to take part in the war. The defence of a country is not only in its own backyard. A nation must sometimes defend itself by anticipating attack. If Australia is attacked, the enemy will not send us telegraphic advice of the approach of the oncoming aircraft. The defence policy has to be based on the assumption that there are forces available to move at a moment’s notice to counter an invader. Please God we shall never send another man to a war ! But if we shirk this issue we shall not be living up to British traditions. We cannot accept the benefits and responsibilities of the League regarding humanitarian and industrial efforts and shirk the greater obligation of loyalty to the Covenant. The choice is between, on the one hand, support of a League that is the finest example of international co-operation and common participation for world good that has yet been conceived, while at the same time supporting, at present, a greater league, the British Empire, or, on the other hand, following a policy of “ safety first “, dictated by selfishness. Loyalty, common sense, the sacredness of the Covenant, and our own personal security demand that Australia shall support Great Britain, in the hope that a world calamity may be averted. It is obvious that the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) will be emphatically rejected. The tenor of speeches shows that the line of action proposed by the Government is in the best interests of peace.


.– The Minister for Trade and Customs described this debate as being most interesting, but such a term is inadequate. The debate relates to a principle that is vital to the future of this young nation. The moral issues that concern us in our position as a member of the League of Nations have been exhaustively debated, and the constitutional obligations have been thoroughly discussed by legal luminaries on both sides of the House. I do not propose to deal with the legal or moral obligations that are involved in our membership of the League of Nations, but in the face of the amendment we are called upon to consider, it is obligatory upon every member of the National Parliament to crystallize his thoughts and to declare his attitude. One clause of the amendment reads -

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

I therefore propose for the moment to concentrate my thoughts upon our obligations as citizens of Australia, and to review these obligations in the light of the present crisis. We find a backward country, Abyssinia, attacked by a superior power, which is covetous and desirous of availing itself of the unexploited riches of the weaker nation. Italy is strong and over-populated; it has internal problems of unemployment; and is suffering from the general effects of world depression and the world-wide policy of extreme economic nationalism. This condition is pre-destined to bring war into the world. We see in Italy a country that is prevented by tariffs from having access to the world’s markets and sources of raw materials, and from enjoying the trade which a nation reasonably expects. Faced with these problems, Italy has decided upon a war of colonial expansion. It has, on the flintiest pretext, deliberately prepared, and has ruthlessly attacked Abyssinia. I shall say no more concerning the war itself, but I propose to address myself to the proposal that this Parliament should, in these circumstances, adopt the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney. There is a lesson to be learned and a moral to be drawn from this attack by a powerful nation upon a weak nation, and I can only hope that we shall learn the lesson and appreciate the moral. What I see in this war is that a country which is weak in military resources but rich in undeveloped natural resources, must ever be in grave danger of attack by powerful nations with a standard of living different from that of the weaker nation. Australia has large resources which our people are not sufficiently numerous to develop. We all remember very well that on more than one occasion, representatives of a powerful Pacific nation have made overtures to us to obtain authority to develop certain iron resources of Australia which were not being exploited by us, and which, because of our standards of living, we could not economically exploit. The country, which made the overtures, has a standard of living which would have made possible the development of these resources. This and other similar incidents which could be quoted, suggest to me that the circum stances of Australia are in some respects parallel with those of Abyssinia.

We have denied coloured people the right of entrance to Australia, and I think that there is not an Australian worthy of the name who desires to retract one iota from that policy ; but as thinking people we must realize that, human nature being what it is, antagonism is bound to be aroused in the minds of the people of coloured races because we have adopted this policy. In such circumstances, what is our protection? In my opinion we have only one real protection. As there is no efficient machinery for the preservation of world peace, our only protection is the maintenance of a state of affairs which would make it impossible for a large military force to invade Australia. We have neither the wealth nor the population to maintain a great army, and our vast area would make it extremely difficult to defend Australia within our own shores. Neither can we afford a navy adequate for our defence. Our one protection against attack is our geographical situation and our membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Our geographical isolation from the great powers of the world would make it possible for the lines of communication of any aggressor to be seriously threatened if war should occur. But such a threat could be made effective only by our partnership in the great naval power of Britain. That alone enables us to benefit by our geographical isolation. Yet, this Parliament is being invited to pursue a policy which, if adhered to, would inevitably mean the dissolution of our partnership with Great Britain. That, in turn, would deprive us of the protection that we to-day enjoy.

The maintenance of a relationship under which we shall continue to enjoy this protection is the highest policy of statesmanship which Australia should uphold. Australia must maintain its position, as a unit of the British Empire. There is a bond stronger than that of a common kingship; stronger than ties of kinship, trade and commerce. It is the instinct of self-preservation, which is the first law of nature. This, in itself, should cause us to reflect upon the vital need for the maintenance of unity among the peoples constituting the British Empire. Without that unity we cannot feel that our future is safeguarded. Foi this reason alone we must do everything in our power to preserve unchallenged our membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

We should, of course, bend our energies, with all sincerity, to the upholding of the League of Nations; we should endeavour to see that the wisest counsels of our representatives who meet at the Assemblies of the League is drawn upon to terminate the hostilities that have arisen and until that end can be achieved to restrict them to the narrowest limits; but we should not do a single thing that will even suggest that we wish to impair our full status as a unit of the British Commonwealth. I cannot understand the mental process by which an honorable member of this Parliament, with even the most fervid desire to maintain peace and avoid war, can invite us to declare our neutrality or to do’ anything that would cause a question to arise as to our sincere desire to remain a unit of the British Empire. To do such a thing would be to lay ourselves open to attack in the manner that Abyssinia has been attacked.


.- The Italo-Abyssinian dispute has been discussed from so many different angles during this debate, that very little further light can be thrown upon it. Seldom in my short membership of this Parliament have I seen such unity among honorable members with regard to the objective they desire to achieve; but seldom either have I seen such divergence of opinion as to the methods that should be adopted to achieve that objective. We all desire to preserve world peace and to devise the best machinery to maintain it. That we, in Australia, have hitherto been spared the horrors and devastations that war causes in the country in which it is waged, is due to the fact that we belong to the British Empire. I cannot imagine how any honorable member can contemplate for a moment the pursuit of a course which would inevitably mean the abandonment of our association with the Empire and the adoption of a policy of isolation. I take it for granted that it is the desire of every honorable member that Australia should remain part and parcel of the British Empire. This implies continued membership of the League of Nations, with, all the obligations that such membership implies. If, however,, we do not intend to respect our obligations as a member of the League, the only honorable course open to us is to resign our membership. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) said by way of interjection that we could record a dissentient vote in respect of this graveissue. Exactly what that meant I am not quite sure. If the honorable member meant that Mr. Bruce should have said “No” instead of “Yes” to the question whether Italy was the aggressor nation, I must entirely disagree with the honorable member. What other interpretation can be placed upon the interjection, I am not quite sure.

The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), in his very informative address to the House last night, pointed out that there were three ways open to the British Empire to maintain peace. The first was the policy of “ splendid “ isolation, the second was to revert to the pre-war foreign policy of selective military alliances leading to the balance of power, and the third was support of the policy of collective security. Since the creation of the League of Nations Australia has enjoyed a full measure of collective security under the League Covenant. The eyes of the whole world are to-day upon the League of Nations. It is on its trial. Even if it has failed on occasions in the past, we should not condemn it merely on that account. The League is young in years. Let us hope that as it grows older it will increase in strength, and be an effective instrument for the preservation of peace. Actually it is regarded as the greatest force for peace in the world, and in this dispute it is endeavouring faithfully to fulfil its solemn obligations. Australia as a member of the League must, with other British dominions,’ honour its pledges.

This evening the Minister for Tradeand Customs read from a speech delivered by General Smuts, an extract which, I think, is the considered policy of theUnion Government of South Africa, even if it is. against its own interests. Sir Austin Chamberlain dealing recently with the momentous issues now being considered by the League, said -

If we do not live up to those obligations, then the whole collective system is gone, lt is not merely that it has failed to protect Abyssinia; it is that it is a broken reed for any European power to rely upon. It is more; in fact, it docs not exist. … In the last resort we had to take our decision at the council table at Geneva. We have to take the risk, of saying “we are prepared to fulfil our obligations under the Covenant if others will do the same.” We ought to say that openly to tho Council even at the risk flint others may refuse. If wo have to use that language, and others axe offended by it, and wo come home empty handed, that much we owe to the honour of the British name and to the efforts that our successive governments have made to make the League of Nations a real force in international life in the interests of peace and security for us all.

That is a very clear exposition of the stand taken by Great Britain, and it should be followed by us.

Throughout the dispute the British Government has made every effort to preserve peace. It has endeavoured, under the 1906 pact, to bring about a reconciliation between Italy and Abyssinia. Mr. Anthony Eden, the Minister for League of Nations Affairs, speaking to the debate in the House of Commons a few weeks ago, said -

As regards Abyssinia and the charge that the British Government were interfering in a dispute with which they had no concern, it was an essential feature of the Covenant that any dispute between two members of the League which threatened to disturb peace was a matter of concern to all governments. The purpose of the offer he had made at Rome was to obtain a final settlement of the dispute between Italy and Abyssinia. The object was to g_ive some quid pro quo to Abyssinia for territorial and economic concessions by her which the settlement of the dispute with Italy might entail.

During this debate the Government has been accused of making hectic preparations for war. I was surprised to hear the statement, but I cannot imagine that it was intended to be taken seriously, because I always understood that the adequate defence of the Commonwealth was a foremost plank in the policy of the Labour party. If honorable members opposite consider that the present measures constitute adequate defence, I can only say that I am surprised at their obvious failure to appreciate the situation properly. The Government has even been blamed for consulting with Sir Maurice Hankey, the Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence, when he visited Australia last year. If the Government had not con sulted with Sir Maurice, it would have been deserving of the strongest censure. I am surprised that our Council of Defence was not called together for the purpose of discussing with Sir Maurice Hankey vital aspects of defence policy.

The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen) this evening presented a concise statement of the position in which this country might find itself if it endorsed the -views put forward by the honorable member for West Sydney. I cannot support the amendment.

Mr. HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports; [10.18]. - I join with honorable members on both sides of the House in expressing satisfaction that the debate has been conducted on such a high plane. Obviously, honorable members on both sides recognize the seriousness of the situation which threatens the peace of the world. We all realize that the decision of the League of Nations may have tragic consequences for the people of this country. This being so, I wonder why we do not try to weigh from all points of view the result of any action on our part. During this debate we have had placed before us ethical, legal and sentimental reasons why we should stand four square with the Mother Country, right or wrong. The attitude of the Australian Labour party on war and peace has a background. It was not born yesterday, but is as old as the party itself. I remember the Fisher Government meeting an interstate conference at Adelaide, at which Mr. Hughes and Mr. Holman were outstanding debaters. A plan was then formulated and sent to the leaders of Labour and socialist movements all over the world. Reference has been made to that plan to-night by men who have no knowledge of the manner in which it was evolved. It proposed that there should be a federation of nations which would outlaw war and bring into existence an international police force on the basis suggested by an honorable member to-night - in proportion to the population of each nation. Everybody stands for that ideal. It has become more and more popular year by year. The desire is universal that the League of Nations should be made a perfect instrument for peace. It is true, as one honorable member has stated to-day that the ideal of the League of Nations has received more support from the Labour movement all over the world than from any other political organization. The list of great men who have been pillars of all branches of the League includes a preponderating number of socialist deputies as well as of Britishers like Mr. Ramsay MaeDonald and Mr. Thomas. The Labour party has always stood, and it still stands, for the League of Nations, and for any plan that will outlaw war. But war has not been outlawed ; it is being waged to-day. The time to prevent it has passed. All the speeches delivered to-day have been confined to a consideration of what action should be taken by Australia; whether, for example, we should help Great Britain in its efforts to preserve peace. Of course we should. Was any voice raised a week or a fortnight ago by any portion of the British Empire against the attempts of the League of Nations to preserve peace ? Of course not. Every one hoped that endeavours of the League would succeed. But they met with failure. Therefore the questions that we have to decide to-night are whether there would be any wisdom in our taking sides, and what would be in the best interests of the people of Australia. We should attempt to estimate the cost or to weigh the position, not in terms of the commodities that we might exchange with other countries, but in terms of flesh and blood - the number of men and women who may be maimed and crippled, or lose their lives. I recall the occasion when I and others who sit on this side risked the penalty of fine and imprisonment, as well as all sorts of economic boycott and victimization, because we tried to prevent the Australian people from being involved in overseas wars. The background of Labour’s policy extends far beyond the last war. When we held a meeting in the ballroom of the Savoy Hotel, Perth, detectives from all States were present to see if something would be said that would make it possible for them to raid the building and imprison us. The basis of the discussion which took place on that night was the basis of this debate - should Australia be a participant in an overseas war? The war was then on. In defiance of the laws of this country, which were stretched by the government of the day in an attempt to stop us, we advocated that the Australian Labour movement should communicate with the leaders of Labour movements all over the world, urging steps to terminate the conflict by negotiation. The greatest economists and writers in the world to-day are adopting the arguments that we then used. We contended that if our opponents were crushed by military defeat and had imposed upon them penal indemnities, those who collected the indemnities would be hurt far more than the defeated foe who would be compelled to pay. It is axiomatic to-day that penal indemnities cannot be collected from a defeated foe in gold coin or banknotes ; they mustbe collected in the form of commodities, and the harm done to the country that collects them is greater than that experienced by the country which pays them. The post-war actions of the allied nations sowed seeds of hatred and vengeance in the hearts of the German, people. The French Government let loose savage coloured troops among men, women and children of a white cultured race, and that act was largely responsible for the position that exists to-day, because it wrecked the possibility of the League of Nations becoming the instrument that we all hope it will become sooner or later. Germany wished to be a member of the League, but ceased to be a member when, it failed to obtain justice.

Many of those who have spoken from the opposite benches have not examined the position in the slightest degree, but have merely followed the old lead. With them, it is a matter of “My country, right or wrong; we must follow the lead given by Great Britain, whatever her intentions or whatever may be the results to Australia. They do not inquire as to whether Great Britain i? being attacked and is on the defensive, or whether it is becoming the aggressor. Nor do they ask whether, in the circumstances, Australia might reasonably be expected to take risks in order to support Great Britain. They agree with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) that Australia must stand by the League of Nations, right or wrong. Is there really a League of Nations in existence to-day? Should sanctions be decided on, what chance has Britain of enforcing them?

Lot us try to see things as they really are. For ten years I have studied the League of Nations, and am -well acquainted with its constitution and membership. “Which nations will form the background of the fight if the League decides to impose sanctions? I do not think that action will be taken against Italy. In my opinion, the war will end within a comparatively few weeks, when the three or four nations which have been wrangling over the distribution of Abyssinia’s assets bave come to a decision as to how those assets shall be divided among them. Great Britain, Italy and France, and probably Japan also, will, in my opinion, exercise some sovereignty over Abyssinia within the next six months.

Mr Brennan:

– In the meantime many thousands will have been killed.


– Large numbers have already been killed. We are attempting not to prevent war, but to prevent war from spreading. Outside the League are Germany, Japan, the United States of America, and Italy. Any impartial military man will admit that those four nations dominate the world on land and sea and in the air. No sane person would suggest that isolated Britain, despite the loyalty of its people, could stand up successfully against a combination of those four nations. During this discussion it has been said that the League of Nations consists of from 30 to 50 States, and that Australia should stand by the majority. Great Britain and France are practically the only members of the League who can compare with the four fighting nations which remain out of it. Who are the others to enforce sanctions against the four nations mentioned should they decide to oppose sanctions? Among the remaining members of the League are Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Equador, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Panama. Peru, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Siam, Czechoslovakia, Uruguay, and other small nations. Between them they do not possess one modern battleship or bombing plane. They, with Great Britain and France, comprise the League of Nations!

Mr Bernard Corser:

– There is Russia.


– Three or four times within the last ten days France has definitely told the League of Nations. that it will not guarantee to support sanctions if sanctions mean naval or military warfare. France has made no secrecy of its intentions, yet that country has not been charged with repudiating its responsibility and has not Deen told to leave the League because it insists on making its own terms. France, like every other State affiliated with the League, has the right to determine what it will do. Australia is the only nation whose government stretches things to illogical and irrational conclusions. With France out, there remain Britain and Russia. Surely the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) who so persistently has held Russia suspect, will not embrace that country now, merely because it appears to .help him to back up a weak case. Apart from sentiment, what is the present position? I have seen how the nations discuss the problems which face them at Geneva. There is no sentiment about their discussions ; they come to their decisions on the basis of territorial advancement, or of shares in oil, lead or tin mines. They do not examine things foolishly and sentimentally as we in Australia do. They do not blindly follow Britain without considering the cost to themselves. This Parliament has no right to expect great things from Russia merely because it remains a member of the League of Nations. The Communistic party which forms the Government of Russia believes that war is the shortest way to extend communism. Russia hates Italy, because the Communist party has set itself to defeat Fascism. Russian diplomats are admitted to be the world’s best tacticians, and the representatives of other countries have always to exercise caution in order to avoid falling into the traps set by the Communist members of the Russian Government. We must accept with extreme caution any promises made by Russia at the table of the League of Nations. If Russia continues along the lines it has followed during recent years, the Communist Central Economic Council will make it mandatory on the Russian delegate to the League to work out his plan in such a way that Italy will become embroiled pin an imperialistic war with Great Britain or some other great power so that while the war was proceeding, the leaders in Russia could call on the Communists, who are pushed underground in Italy, to rise in their might and establish a Communist dictatorship there. Surely we are not so blind as to believe that this country, which was held under suspicion, and was practically isolated and ostracized four or five weeks ago, is now one of the great nations that will stand by Britain in its isolation, and help it to defy the rest of the world by imposing sanctions against Italy. Are we going to fall into the trap so obviously laid by the representatives of the Communist Government of Russia to catch us at the League tabic ? I know something of the philosophy of the Communist party. A person must by a 100 per cent. Communist before he can become a member of the government in Russia. There are not 2,000,000 members of the Communist party in that country. It does not take the ignorant rabble into its organization. Every man in it has to declare that he is a wholehearted supporter of Communist principles. He must stand four-square to the platform of the party, and must never recant from any statement made in defence of it. Because I know these things, I much suspect the activities of Litvinoff, or any other delegate which Russia may send to Geneva. So we must eliminate Russia from the fighting machine left within the League. France has agreed conditionally to experiment with economic sanctions, but has made it perfectly clear that it will not help to impose naval or military sanctions against Italy. Since Russia cannot be depended upon, Britain is left isolated with 20 or 30 small States, which, between the lot of them, could not give nearly so much assistance to the League as could poor little Australia !

I am pledged to the platform of the War Resistance Internationale, which has branches in 64 countries. The chairman is an Englishman, Lord Ponsonby, an executive member of the British Labour party, and he does not stand for sanctions. The pledge taken by members of this organization is that war is a crime against humanity. We are determined not to support any kind of war, but to strive to remove all causes of war. I stand for that in Australia, whether in Parliament or out of it, and I shall do my best to prevent any Australian man or woman from being sent overseas to participate in a war. I would do all in my power to assist in the defence of Australia if it was ever invaded, but I shall never cease endeavouring to prevent Australians from leaving this country, whatever the orders of the Government may be, to take part in an imperialistic war overseas. It is wrong to suggest that the Labour party is opposed to the League of Nations. We desire to make the League a perfect machine that will be able, some day, to outlaw war. The International Labour Office is founded on clause 13 of the Peace Treaty, which declares that there cannot be international peace unless founded on social justice. The International Labour Office was brought into existence to raise the standard of living in backward countries, and, by reducing the competition between nations, to remove the causes of war.

Let us ask ourselves what the present dispute is about, and whether it is worth while spilling one drop of Australian blood. The Italian nation is led by a man who was once an international socialist. He was a militant leader of the Socialist party in Italy, and what we would now call an Italian communist. The ordinary Socialist party in Italy was not obtaining results sufficiently rapidly for Mussolini. His excuse for his action was that he wanted to take a short cut to socialism. He was tired of waiting for other countries to hoist the red flag and establish socialism on an international basis. He believed that he could bring about socialism in Italy more quickly by mean? of a dictatorship, but labour, all the world over, is opposed to his method of fascism. He is drunk with power, and power makes tyrants of us all. Mussolini thinks that he is destined to be another Caesar, who will establish a new Roman Empire. His motive is to add to the power and territory of Italy. On the other hand, we have in Abyssinia one of the blackest spots in the world. I make no reference to the colour of the skins of the people of that country. They are allowed to live as a nation for a reason similar to that for which Turkey was permitted to continue as a nation before its reform. Although Bannerman, Balfour, Lloyd George, and dozens of other statesmen repeatedly charged the world with failure in its duty in allowing Turkey to remain on the map, in view of its slaughter and burning of Jews and Christians, these brutal outrages against civilization were witnessed year after year. All the strong nations were jealous of Turkey’s strategical position on the Bosphorus, and, consequently it was allowed to continue the carnage. The same reason allows Abyssinia to carry on a brutal policy of chattel slavery out of which revenue is made by those who rule. We are asked to choose between Italy and a country which openly carries on slavery, and whose Emperor, in spite of what has been said to the contrary, obtains revenue from the buying and selling of human beings. Surely we should not be embroiled in a miserable and sordid dispute between two such nations, whose quarrels do not justify the spilling of one drop of Australian blood. Honorable members on this side of the House will do all in their power to stop it. Prior to this dispute reaching a head, Italy, Great Britain, Japan, and France had been endeavouring to distribute the potential assets of Abyssinia among themselves, but when it was found they could not come to a decision satisfactory to all concerned, the present dispute developed. Italy is now doing what Japan did, and when it is on a better bargaining ground it will commence to respond to the human appeal, an armistice will be declared, and Italy with the other nations involved will again sit around the table and a decision satisfactory to all will be reached. I trust that it will not be long before Italy will again be associated with the League of Nations, that the tragic mistake made after the last war will not be repeated, that all nations will forget the past, and that no penalties will be imposed. In common with other honorable members on this side of the chamber, I support the principles of the League, and trust that it will not be long before this sordid dispute between two members of the League will come to an end. I hope that the Government will not make any promise involving Australia in any naval and military sanctions which may be imposed and thus avoid turning a small conflict into a world-wide one. I do not believe that Britain, isolated as it is, in a world armed to the teeth, would take the risk. Great Britain has to safeguard its own people, and cannot be as reckless as it was years ago. Having in view the opinions expressed by such eminent authorities as Lord Milne, I do not think that Britain will attempt to participate in the imposition of naval and military sanctions.


– The honorable member has exhausted his time.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Lane) adjourned.

page 679


Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.

page 679


Appointmentof Chief Justiceof the Highcourt.

Motion (by Mr. Lyons) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

West Sydney

– I take this opportunity to bring under the notice of the right honorable member the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) a departure from the recognized practice of disclosing a matter of public importance to the Parliament, when it is sitting, before the information is made available to the press. The Prime Minister will, I think, admit that on several occasions a similar complaint has been made in this Parliament, on one occasion by the exLeader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin). The Prime Minister has honoured an undertaking previously given that matters of public importance would be made available to Parliament before being given to the press. There is no need to stress the desirableness of such a course, because when Parliament is in session, for reason of common courtesy, if not for other reasons, Parlia ment should be advised of all important appointments before the representatives of the press. I am not blaming the Prime Minister in this instance, but am bringing under his notice the fact that, apparently, other Ministers intend not to observe the usual practice. It has been brought under my notice that while the House was sitting to-day the press was notified that the Government had appointed a Chief Justice of the High Court.

Mr.Curtin. - At 3 o’clock to-day, the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) said that no appointment had been made.

Mr Menzies:

– That is so.


– It cannot be denied that the information has been given to the press. It may be said that such a matter is not of sufficient importance to justify the House being advised, or that it is not usual to follow such a course, but within the last few days the Prime Minister suspended the business then before the House to make a statement regarding the appointment of an additional tribunal in connexion with the Repatriation Department. The Prime Minister has always adopted the policy which I think all honorable members will agree should be adopted, but other Ministers have not.

Mr.Forde. - The Attorney-General said that the position of Chief Justice of the High Court is the highest appointment which the Government can make.


– That is so. The High Court has very important duties to perform, including the interpretation of legislation passed by this Parliament and affecting the lives and activities of the Australian people. In my opinion, the announcement concerning the Entitlement Tribunal, ‘although it might be regarded as important to those associated with the work of the Repatriation Department, was less important in a relative sense than the appointment of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. It seems extraordinary if the other members of the Government will support the course that has been followed. I am not here to lecture Ministers, but it is my right to demand that the proper course is followed, despite what a new Minister may have been accustomed to in another legislature. I am not suggesting that the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) is not aware of the practice of this Parliament, or is not prepared to observe it. The facts are that the Prime Minister has defined the policy to be observed in the making of important announcements. Bowing to the protests of honorable members, he undertook that, when Parliament was in session, honorable members would be the first to be informed of important Cabinet decisions. I take this opportunity to record my protest and ask that it be supported by other honorable gentlemen who hold that Parliament, and not the press, should be the first to be taken into consideration when such important matters arise and public pronouncements have to be made.

Mr.CURTIN (Fremantle) [11.1].- I am somewhat perturbed at the statements made by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and their relationship to the answer which the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) gave to me this afternoon in reply to a specific question. That answer was decisive. No appointment to the Chief Justiceship had been made. It is quite true that the AttorneyGeneral said that it was intended to make an appointment, and I am satisfied that the statement made then was one that Parliament would accept unreservedly. But I feel that the first information that an appointment had been made by the Government to the most distinguished and important office of the Chief Justiceship should have been made to Parliament. Although I am not aware that any such statement has been made to the press, the honorable member for West Sydney has given us to understand that it has been made. I am, therefore, astounded that, though I was most definitely assured this afternoon that no appointment had been made, within a few hours the position should be reversed, not by a statement in Parliament, but by a statement to some one outside this Parliament. Apparently the answer given this afternoon to Parliament had to be corrected, not in Parliament, but somewhere else. Certainly the definite impression left on my mind this afternoon was that no appointment of this character would be made to-day. At least I asked when it was intended to make the appointment, and the answer to my question was that it was intended to make it-

Mr Menzies:

– Very shortly.


– I heard no such observation.

Mr Menzies:

– I am very sorry that the honorable member did not hear it.


– With very great res- pect. I say that I find it extremely diffi- cult to convince myself that the appointment which had not been made at 3 o’clock could have been made subsequently, and yet in such circumstances and with such haste that the information had to be broadcast publicly to the nation before it could be made available to Parliament. I doubt also whether any meeting of Cabinet has been held this afternoon, although it is not for me to say so. In view of all the circumstances, I have a very grave suspicion that the answer given to me to-day, while technically correct, might not have been substantially correct.


.- I desire to register my emphatic protest against the high-handed way in which this Parliament has been treated by the Government in connexion with the appointment of the Chief Justice of the High Court. When the debate on this matter took place a week or two ago, honorable members were given to understand that the appointment of Sir John Latham to the office of Chief Justice of the High Court had not been considered. Since the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) arrived in Australia from overseas, he lias been continually questioned regarding this matter, and he has said that he knew nothing of the resignation of Sir Frank Gavan Duffy, and that the appointment of a successor had not been considered. Yet we find to-day that representatives of the press have been invited to the Minister’s room, and there given information which was refused to members of this Parliament as late as three o’clock this afternoon. Honorable members on this side view with grave alarm the appointment of a gentleman who has been instrumental in placing upon the statute-book many of the laws which are harsh in their application to workingclass organizations and which he himself will be called upon in his new position to administer. How can we expect a measure of justice from a man who has repeatedly in this House demonstrated his bias against the working classes? It may be possible that Sir John Latham will invoke some section of the Crimes Act to deal with members of this Parliament who have stood up inside and outside this chamber, and advised the Australian people not to participate in any foreign war. In this appointment the Government has ridden roughshod over the Parliament in a manner which cannot be tolerated. Members of the party to which I belong cannot expect any measure of justice from the hands of such a callous and brutal individual as the gentleman appointed to the office of Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia.

AttorneyGeneral · Kooyong · UAP

– I want to say in reply to the criticisms of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) that when the House met this afternoon, I was asked by him whether Cabinet had made any appointment to the office of Chief Justice of the High Court. I replied that Cabinet had not made any appointment to the office of Chief Justice. I was then asked whether an appointment was to be made, and if so, when? I said that Cabinet intended to make an appointment shortly. At that time the selection of a gentleman to hold the office had not been made.

Honorable members interjecting,


– If it is of the slightest interest to honorable members I may say that Cabinet discussed this matter at great length. The offer was ultimately made to Sir John Latham, and accepted by him in the early part of this evening. The announcement was then, made, as I understand, in tho ordinary course to the press, so that the public of Australia might know about it. I am subject to correction on this point, but I am not aware that it has been the practice to announce in this House appointments to a judicial office.

Mr Brennan:

– Has the appointment been made?


– Yes. The honorable member, I suggest, will be horribly disappointed to learn that the appointee is neither himself nor myself. I repeat, Mr. Speaker, that so far as I am aware it has never been the practice to announce judicial appointments in this House. If such has been the practice in the past, I have committed an error for which I apologize, but I have not yet been informed that it has ever been the practice.

East Sydney

.- Mr. Speaker-

Motion (by Mr. Lane) put -

That the question he now put.

The House divided.

In division:






– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is distinctly out of order. Honorable members must preserve silence while the division bells are ringing.

Mr garden:

– I-


– The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) is defying the order of the Chair.

BATMAN, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– Is there a movement of the troops?


– Order ! I appoint the honorable member for Robertson and the honorable member for New England tellers for the “ Ayes “, and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie and the honorable member for Batman as tellers for the “Noes”.

Mr Brennan:

– It is not the practice to call upon ex-Ministers of the Crown to act as tellers. I therefore decline to act.


– Order ! The honorable member need not give his reasons for declining.

Mr Brennan:

– I understood that I was in contempt if I did not explain my position.


– The honorable member need not give his reason. I appoint the honorable member for Kalgoorlie a teller for the “ Noes “.


– I decline.


– Then I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 11.14 p.m.

page 682


Thefollowing answers to questions were circulated: -

Naval Movements

Mr Beasley:

y asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice. -

Willhe supply the House with the following information : -

In regard to H.M.A.S. Australia -

what is her present location; and

when is she expected to return to Australian waters.

In regard to H.M.S. Sussex -

what is her present location; and

under whose orders did she proceed there.

In regard to H.M.A.S. Canberra and other units of the Royal Australian Navy-

what are their present locations; and

is it a fact that they have taken on hoard an unusually large quantity of stores?

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

l. - Under the circumstances now existing, it would be contrary to the national interest to afford the information sought.

Petrol Commission

Mr McCall:

l asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. In view of the recent increase in the price of petrol by the major oil distributors in Australia, does the Government intend to give effect to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Oil Industry ?
  2. Will the House be given the opportunity of resuming the debate on the commission’s report?
Mr Lyons:

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

  1. As stated in my reply to a question by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) on the 1st October (Hansard, No. . 10, page 375), the Government’s intentions as to the action it proposes to take on the recommendations of the royal commission will be announced at an appropriate time. It would be contrary to the practice to make an announcement on a matter of government policy in answer to a question.
  2. Yes, when the more urgent business requiring the attention of the House is disposed of.


Mr.Mulcahy asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Is it the intention of the Government to renew the subsidy to Burns. Philp and Company for the carriage of mails to the islands?
  2. If so, before the renewal, will the Government inquire into the rates charged by the company for passengers and freight, to ascertain whether they are excessive, and also whether the passenger accommodation on the company’s steamer should be improved?
Mr Lyons:

s.- The answers to tho honorable member’s questions a’ro as follows : -

  1. The question of the action to be taken to provide fur the maintenance of shipping services’ to certain territories and islands in the Pacific after the expiration of the current agreement with Burns, Philp and Company Limited is receiving attention.
  2. All aspects of the service including passage and freight rates and accommodation are being investigated.

HENRY Lawson’s Home.

Mr Garden:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - in view of the fact that the dwelling places of Shakespeare, Houen Burlis, arid other great poets of the past have been sacredly preserved for posterity, will the Prime Minister sympathetically consider a nation-wide desire that the Eurunderie home of Henry Lawson, our greatest and most honoured writer, mid a literary link with Australia’s pioneer?, will he appropriately preserved ns a. national literary shrine?

Mr Lyons:

s - The suggestion of the honorable member will receive consideration.

War Service Homes

Mr Mulcahy:

y asked the Minister in charge of War Service Homes, upon notice -

Kas he instructed his department to cease further prosecutions by garnishee or any other means in the case of cx-soldiers who have surrendered or been dispossessed of their homer. ?

Mr. THORBY.-No. The commission does not initiate legal proceedings in any case unless all other efforts to induce tho purchaser to meet his obligations are unsuccessful.

Wireless Broadcasting : Hobart Studio.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

l.- -On the. 3rd October, the honorable member for Denison (Mr.- Mahoney) asked, without notice, a question pertaining to the provision of a wireless broadcasting studio at. Hobart. I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with tho following, information : -

The Australian Broadcasting Commission advises that it is the intention to build studios at Hobart. The plans are now under review, but details have not yet been finally worked nut.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 October 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.