House of Representatives
6 November 1935

14th Parliament · 1st Session

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

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Powers and Salary of General Manager


-. - Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General state what powers the new general manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission will exercise in relation to broadcasting in Australia, and what salary he will receive ?

Minister for Defence · WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP

– So far as I am aware, the powers which the new general manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission will exercise will be identical with those exercised by his predecessor. I also understand that he will receive the same salary, namely, £2,000 per annum.

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– Will the Minister for the Interior lay on the table of the House, for the information of honorable members, the report of the committee appointed by Mr. Archdale Parkhill, arising out of the visit of that gentleman to the Northern Territory, to investigate the development of the holdings of the lessees, the report I understand being blistering in its condemnation?

Mr.SPEAKER,- Order!

Minister for the Interior · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · CP

– The report referred to by the honorable member was prepared merely for the information of the department, and could not properly be laid on the table of the House.


– Is the Minister for the Interior yet in a position to say whether he is prepared to table the papers relating to the proposed leasing of a portion of the Northern Territory two years ago?


– I have been in communication with the Minister in Charge of Development on this subject, and am informed that theso papers could not properly be tabled. But no objection would bo offered to the honorable gentleman’s perusing the memoranda dealing with the proposals put forward by Northern Territory lessees; indeed, facilities would be afforded to him to do so.

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

– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether any reservations or qualifications were made by any of the State Premiers in relation to the resolutions affecting the wheat industry passed recently. If so, will the right honorable gentleman be good enough to state thom, so that honorable members may understand the attitude that has been adopted by certain States since the conference was held?

Minister for Commerce · COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– There were no reservations to the final conclusions arrived at. I hope shortly to place in the hands of honorable members the report of the proceedings of the wheat conference, so that they may be able to sen exactly what took place.

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– Will the Minister for Defence state whether it is a fact that quite recently the Department of Defence issued notices to officers and others who have retired from the Royal Australian Navy, asking them if they would be willing again to serve in the event of Australia being engaged in war? If so, why were these notices issued?


-I have no knowledge of any such notices having been issued.

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– I desired to address a question without notice to the Minister for Repatriation, but as the right honorable member for North Sydney is not in the House I shall direct it to the Prime Minister. I have been asked by the Granville branch of the Returned Sailors andSoldiers Imperial League of Australia to inquire of the right honorable member for North Sydney as to whether he would attend as Minister for Repatriation, a function which it proposes to hold on the 11th November next. Will the Prime Minister convey that request to the right honorable gentleman?

Prime Minister · WILMOT, TASMANIA · UAP

– In putting this question the honorable member may consider that he is humorous. I suggest that if he were to place it on the notice-paper it would then become more serious.

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– In view of statements in regard to sanctions having been made by the present Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, along lines similar to those published by the right honorable member for North Sydney, has the Prime Minister asked for the resignation of that gentleman ?

Question not answered.

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The following papers were presented : - Wheat Industry - Report of Proceedings of Conference convened by the Minister for Commerce- Held at Canberra, 4th to 7th October, 1935.

Ordered to be printed.

Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 106.

Railways Act - Report on Commonwealth Railways Operations for year 1934-35.

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Assent reported.

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Second Reading

Debate resumed from the 1st November (ride page 1287), on motion by Mr. Menzies -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Mr. E. J. HARRISON (Wentworth) whether Australia shall honour the solemn obligation which it undertook before the bar of international opinion when it subscribed to the Covenant of the League of Nations which, shortly stated, means a recognition of collective security in its application to the members of the League, or shall adopt a policy of isolation and dishonour its solemn obligation to the League.

I shall first summarize the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) in this regard, and hope that I shall do him no injustice. I shall then clear the ground so as to establish the real meaning of sanctions. I propose to take the several points made by the Leader of the Opposition, and to give reasons for my support of the Government in this matter. I ask leave to continue my remarks a little later.

Leave granted ; debate adjourned.

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Leave to Make not Granted.

Leave not granted.

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Second Reading

Debate resumed.


– The arguments used by the Leader of the Opposition, shorn of their platitudes, sonorous phrases and lengthy sentences, may be summarized as follows : Article 16 means sanctions; sanctions must not be applied because sanctions mean war. The honorable member also demanded that Australia should adhere to the Kellogg Pact, and that, therefore, it should wash its hands of the League Covenant. The only logical conclusion to be drawn from that statement of the Leader of the Opposition is that Australia should resign from the League of Nations. I propose to analyse the speech of the honorable gentleman to see whether there is any justification for bis principal contention that sanctions mean war. Can the statement, which he supported by such a lengthy argument, be postulated on such premises?

First, let us ask ourselves whether it can be said definitely what sanctions really mean. As I understand the word, it is generally’ considered, even apart from the League of Nations, but even more within the League itself, as applied to economic sanctions, that a sanction is a reward or punishment that a group of nations or individuals may apply to exact obedience from other members. The principle underlying sanctions has been recognized throughout the civilized world and is, in fact, basic and fundamental to civilization itself in the home, the law courts and religion. As the principle of sanctions is inherent in our civilized life it may properly be brought into operation in regard to the League of Nations which is the highest expression, and the most idealistic conception yet formulated by mankind for the maintenance of the peace of the world.

The late Mr. Taft, ex-President of the United States of America, in speaking in support of the League of Nations at various times, used a very good example to illustrate the meaning of sanctions. He was accustomed to raise his right hand, and to say that there was the means to apply sanctions within the home to chastise or caress, as the circumstances required. Similarly sanctions may be applied in religion and in society. In religion reward is heaven and punishment hell, and sanctions may be applied with either objective, as the circumstances require. In society the law courts ave used, when necessary, to ensure the observance of solemn obligations. Those who subscribe to these solemn obligations look to the law courts to deal with those who disregard them. Even in the industrial world sanctions are applied as between capital and labour. Labour itself uses sanctions in the form of the strike. Labour leaders apply to those individuals who do not submit to .the discipline of this weapon, and do not honour the solemn obligations they have entered into, a term which, although not euphonious, is expressive- Those who enter into solemn obligations by subscribing to the rules and regulations of various industrial organizations, but who subsequently dishonour those obligations, are known by the expressive but ugly word, “ scabs “. The man who disregards his solemn obligations to his own organization in the industrial world is said to “ scab “ on his union. It now appears that honorable members opposite consider that, though Australia has entered into solemn obligations as a member of the League of Nations, it should now renounce its membership and “ scab “ upon the League.

The sole purpose for which it is now proposed to apply sanctions is the restoration of world peace. The League of Nations was brought into existence to end war, and to achieve this purpose its members have agreed to apply sanctions when necessary. It would be as well at this point to ask ourselves why the sanctions method was chosen. If it were the desire of the League of Nations to preserve peace, why did it not formulate a policy which involved direct warfare? I suggest that the sanctions weapon was selected because it was felt that sanctions would permit the application of just sufficient force or pressure to bring into step a nation which had got out of step and was not honoring its obligations.

In the present dispute, the League of Nations has appointed a Co-ordination Committee to examine the vulnerability of the State which has declined to honour its solemn obligations. This committee is endeavouring to place its finger upon the nerve centre of the nation concerned to paralyse its operations and force it to realize its duty to adhere to its commitments with other nations, and to preserve the peace of the world. Honorable members may ask: If the League of Nations has been given the authority to bring pressure to bear upon an aggressor nation why should it not have taken unto itself the greater power to enter into direct conflict and, by means of what might be called an international peace force, compel a certain signatory of the Covenant to honour its obligations? There is a logical answer. It was recognized by the several members which constitute the League of Nations that if they were to be denied the right to resort to force of arms in support of some policy peculiar to their own national views, then they would be creating a force that would ultimately usurp their sovereignty entirely. They considered that no band of individuals and no committee representing nations could understand the domestic concerns of a nation. Therefore, the nations entered into their obligations under the League with the full determination to preserve their own sovereignties. It was admitted by the Leader of the Opposition that that was the crux of the situation when he said at the conclusion of his speech, “ Wc should be the sovereign judges of what we should and should not do “. If, therefore, one can establish the fact that the nations have not resigned their sovereignties it is a logical answer to the question relating to the immediate application of force.

Another reason why this course was not followed was that the League felt that if the final word was left to the nations themselves it could look for greater co-operation between the nations in regard to the application of economic sanctions which, after all is said and done, are a definite form of pressure likely to bc felt and, if properly applied, likely to produce definite results. The application of economic sanctions has a definite effect upon the economic life of the country against which they are enforced, paralysing its ‘trading channels, stopping trade with other countries, and preventing the importation of goods necessary for the maintenance of life. That in itself is a definite form of challenge or punishment.

Another reason why the League preferred the method of applying sanctions instead of force was that it felt that here was a weapon ready to its hand that could be applied almost automatically to member States violating the Covenant in order to determine that they should not persist in the violation of their undertakings. To illustrate my point, I would refer to the fact that when in 1925 war broke out between Greece and Bulgaria, the League stepped in with the definite threat that sanctions would be imposed. What was the result? Within nine days of the issue of the threat of the application of sanctions the invading armies were forced back across their frontiers and the League was asked to arbitrate in the dis pute. As the result of intervention by the League, the differences giving rise to the dispute were adjusted. That desirable result was achieved only by the threat of the League that sanctions would be imposed. A similar threat has been issued in respect of the present dispute between Italy and Abyssinia.

The League realizes that sanctions properly applied can have the definite effect of ending hostilities, and I submit that the imposition of sanctions in the present dispute will have the desired effect. In my subsequent remarks, I think that I can convince honorable members that sanctions do not necessarily mean war. The Leader of the Opposition stressed to some extent his contention that sanctions must mean war. The honorable gentleman said that in no circumstances must we agree to the measure now before the House because the imposition of sanctions would mean war, and that unless we desist from the policy of discriminating against Italy, then Italy may threaten us with war. Later on, in the course of his speech, the honorable gentleman said -

This bill is put forward as an alternative to war, but in its very nature it proposes an act of war.

He further said -

If sanctions are being applied by Australia in pursuance of article 10 of the Covenant, I now reply to a question asked of me yesterday by the Attorney-General, by saying that 1 understand article 1G to mean that if applied we go to war with the country against which we apply it.

That, to me, has only one meaning, that sanctions automatically commit us to war. I join issue with the honorable gentleman in this contention. First .of all, he informs us that discrimination against Italy may cause war ; then later he says that, as he understands it, it will cause war. Let us endeavour to reconcile those conflicting statements. Personally, I refuse to believe that the lengthy speech of the Leader of the Opposition was based on the assumption that something we might do to Italy might cause that country to declare war against us. At the same time I think he realizes the contention of the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) that the enforcement of sanctions cannot he said to ‘be violent because it may cause the nation against whom the enforcement is made to resist forcibly. That has the same application in the judgment of an International Court as it has in the case of a common law court. If judgment is given in a common law court for a breach of some law of the land, it does not necessarily mean .that it should be regarded as having been violently enforced against the man affected by it. To say that Italy may declare war against us, because we have applied sanctions against it for violation of an international law to which it has subscribed is simply absurd. When the Attorney-General pointed out to the Leader of the Opposition that we are applying sanctions every day by the imposition of the tariff, the honorable gentleman held that argument up to ridicule saying it could not be sustained. I point out that the party to which the Leader of the Opposition belongs imposed sanctions not only ‘by means of the tariff, but also by the application of direct embargoes. Goods from certain countries were prohibited entry into Australia. That is a fair example of the extreme application of sanctions. If Italy has a right to object to Australia’s refusal to trade with it at the moment, Italy would be justified in taking umbrage at the imposition of trade embargoes as part of Australia’s fiscal policy.

Towards the close of his speech, the Leader of the Opposition reached the crux of his argument when he said, “We should bo the sovereign judges of what we should and should not do.” I agree with the honorable gentleman. The League of Nations is an association of nations which retain their sovereignty, and act only by agreement, but are nevertheless subject to two limitations, one being the forfeiture of the right to make war within certain prescribed periods, and the other the necessity to co-operate in imposing financial and economic pressure on an aggressor nation. Article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which gives the right to impose sanctions, makes the imposition of economic force obligatory in certain circumstances, but in regard to resort to arms there is no such obligation. No article of the Covenant requires any of its signatories to engage in warfare. That is the opinion of Sir Arthur Salter, who for ten years was a prominent official of the League of Nations. As his views on world affairs carry considerable weight,

I shall quote his remarks concerning article 16 -

This obligation falls direct on each signatory, which is itself judge of whether the casus foederis has arisen. No signatory undertakes to accept the judgment on ti) is point of other States, or the Council. Article XVI. further provides that in such a case it shall bc the duty of the Council to “ recommend “ what effective military, naval or air force the members of the League shall provide. Each government decides itself whether it will comply with such a recommendation; and as the Council, in making the recommendation, acts unanimously, it is obvious that it would only recommend such a contribution from a member of the Council as was acceptable to that member.

Sir Arthur Salter makes it clear that, by joining the League, a nation does not forfeit its sovereign rights. In that respect, he is in agreement with the Leader of the Opposition, who said that we should be the sovereign judges of what we should and should not do. As a matter of fact, the chief criticism directed against the League is that it is impotent because it cannot force its members to apply military sanctions. The League could force its members to take up arms only if it had acquired from them their sovereign rights; but the signatories to its Covenant have jealously guarded those rights. Nowhere in the Covenant is there a phrase which can be construed to mean that the League can impose its will on a reluctant member. On the other hand, there is frequent use of such words as “ proposes,” “ advises “ and “ recommends.” That the League cannot coerce sovereign States against their will is made clear by Sir Arthur Salter who, on page 208 of his book, says -

There are two principal features in Article XVI. which on the one hand make continental countries think it gives insufficient security, and on the other hand arc to Great Britain valiable limitations of what would otherwise be an excessive responsibility. These are: (a) the fact that each country remains the ultimate judge as to whether it has an obligation to fulfil under the article in any given case., and (6) the fact that, unless unanimity (m inns the vote of the disputants) is secured every country is free to take its own course.

Possibly that is the reason why the League of Nations has been unsuccessful. The League has been criticized for its failure to bring about disarmament, but that failure is due to its inability to coerce members. Until the League acquires sovereign rights from its members, it will be ineffective in its attempts at disarmament. The world will not enjoy peace until the League of Nations acquires sovereign rights over its members.

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

– Is the honorable member prepared to cede to the League those sovereign rights?


– I shall deal with that matter presently. At this stage I say that, as the League has not acquired sovereign rights, sanctions do not, and cannot, mean war.

The Leader of the Opposition also advocated the honouring of the Kellogg Pact by Australia, when he said -

So course other than a pacific one was open to Australia if it was to honour its obligation under the Kellogg Pact.

Why should the honorable gentleman regard that undertaking as a solemn obligation binding every signatory to the Pact of Paris, and hold a different view regarding other equally solemn undertakings with regard to the League of Nations? Later, he endeavoured to reconcile his two statements by saying that they should be read in conjunction as two parts of one perfect whole. Let us study the position as we see it and examine the Pact in the light of that statement. The preamble - and I believe that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) joined issue with the Attorney-General on it the other day - after drawing attention to the sense of solemn duty towards mankind and renunciation of war, says -

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

That position is clear enough. No reference to sanctions is contained in the whole of this preamble to the Kellogg Pact, but it has prepared the way for more positive legislation if such becomes necessary. The result can be seen to-day. In the United States of America, which fathered the Kellogg Pact, a neutrality bill has been introduced, the provisions of which I should like honorable members to compare with the action taken by the League in regard to its covenants. It is a measure which, by prohibiting the export of munitions or arms, or the raw material required to make these munitions, and the travelling of its nationals in ships owned by the belligerents, at the moment, operates more harshly against the belligerents than do any sanctions applied by the League under its covenants. In addition, the refusal of the United States of America to grant finance and credit to the belligerents must bear most harshly upon Italy. I repeat, the neutrality law of the United States of America operates more severely against Italy at the moment than do any of the sanctions proposed by the League.

In the Canberra Times in a recent issue appeared the following statement of Mr. P. B. Kellogg, the man from whom the Kellogg Pact takes its name : -

St. Paul, Minnesota, Wednesday.

The former Secretary for State (Mr. Kellogg) declared to-day that the United States of America, in common with other countries, could and should designate Italy as the aggressor in the flagrant violation of the sovereignty of another nation.

The United States of America should denounce Italy’s violation of the treaty obligations, and announce that she would take no steps to interfere or nullify measures that other nations were now taking to put an end to the war.

What the American people seemed to forget, and what tho Italian people or their Government seemed to have entirely ignored, continued Mr. Kellogg, was that when Italy invaded Ethiopia, thus beyond a shadow of a doubt Italy violated her treaty with the United States of America, and -thus violated the supreme law of the land. He referred to the Kellogg-Briand treaty.

The Attorney-General said that Australia recognized the principle that, if one signatory State should resort to war, every signatory State is thereby released from its obligations under .the Pact, and, notwithstanding what the Leader of the Opposition may say, America recognizes the same principle. A cable received from Washington on Wednesday reads -

Washington, Wednesday.

The Administration to-day went a step further in passive efforts to halt the ItaloAbyssinian war, after several conferences, at the White House during the past 24 hours.

President Roosevelt and the Secretary for State (Mr. Cordell Hull) issued a statement, which is tantamount to declaring a cessation of all American trade with Italy.

The President’s statement declared that it carried into effect the “ will and intent “ of the neutrality legislation, and reiterated the Government’s determination not to become involved in the controversy.

Thus we find America, cheek by jowl with its support of its own Pact, which states that it has no intention of being drawn into controversy, carrying out the intention of the Pact, by applying sanctions and practically -determining that it will not trade with Italy, one of the belligerent nations. In other words, it does not renounce its sovereign rights. What America is doing by individual action, the members of the League of Nations are doing by collective action. Thus the argument of the Leader of the Opposition, that we in Australia should abide by the Kellogg Pact, cannot be sustained. That Pact in laying down certain rules and obligations merely paves the way for more positive legislation should it be found necessary. Actually, it releases the signatories from their obligations if one of their number should violate its terms. Furthermore, legislation has been introduced by the country that fathered the Pact, and that legislation is imposing sanctions in the way in which the League is not prepared to do.

Mr Curtin:

– Does the honorable member say that the United States of America policy is to prevent trade only with Italy?


– Certainly nol;. I said with “ the belligerents “.

Mr Curtin:

– That is the essential distinction. ‘


– The Leader of the Opposition said that sanctions mean war ; whether the sanctions are imposed against Abyssinia or Italy, the same principle holds. Australia’s trade with Abyssinia is negligible, I understand, and there is no Abyssinian shipping affected. The American sanctions would operate against Italy in a major degree and against Abyssinia in a minor degree only. If Italy were to take exception to the application by Australia of sanctions, and were to declare war against Australia, obviously it must also declare war against the United States of America. But that country feels perfectly safe in the action it has taken, and sees no danger in the legislation it has introduced under the Pact. I take it that the United States of America can read into the Kellogg Pact the spirit as well as the letter in a much more capable way - with all due deference to him- - than the Leader of the Opposition. And what the United States of America is doing by individual action Australia is doing collectively.

The fourth point made by the Leader of the Opposition is that Australia should wash its hands of the Covenant, and the logical conclusion of such an assertion is that Australia must resign from the League of Nations. According to the Leader of the Opposition, Australia should abide by its latest signature, which is to the Kellogg Pact, and he sought to show that the League is a weak thing of little use to Australia. He makes the same mistake as other honorable members, and, I may add, some prominent men overseas, in considering that the League has only a moral force. He referred to the House the opinion of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) in this connexion. With all due deference to the right honorable member for North Sydney, I shall quote an extract from his recent publication, which says that -

Tho League is only a moral force and . . cannot preserve peace and . . . ensure security.

Those are straightforward statements, but I desire to read for the edification of the House an opinion expressed by the right honorable gentleman on his return from the League of Nations. It was a statement he made to Parliament on that occasion. He then took a much more optimistic view of things. He said -

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

The Leader of the Opposition said that the League was only a moral force, and I have quoted the foregoing words in order to show that, in the opinion of the right honorable member for North Sydney, as expressed in 1933, it is something more than a moral force. Indeed, he said that i.f there were no League it would be necessary to create one, and in regard to sanctions he said that any attempt to impose them should be collective and co-operative. 1’ commend those words to the Leader of the Opposition, and I again stress the fact that a State does not necessarily abrogate its sovereign rights by becoming a member of the League.

Members of the Opposition object to the exercise of a measure of force. Australia, they say, should remain absolutely neutral. This is a form of pacifism run to seed, and it cannot, in any circumstances, further the cause of peace. Honorable members should recognize the truth of the old axiom that to hinder is not to help. Italy, Germany and Japan are to-day dissatisfied nations. Honorable members opposite are preaching pacifism, the breaking of the League Covenant and the disregard of out duties as a part of the Empire. I wonder what their attitude would be if one of those nations which is now dissatisfied with its place in the world were to attack Australia, and the League of Nations, and even Great Britain, were to behave as it is now suggested Australia should behave in regard to the present crisis. How would honorable members opposite like it if the other members of the League were to say to Australia : “ You have determined your own course of action in the past; you refused to co-operate with us in the enforcement of international law, and now we propose to leave you in the state of isolation which you have chosen for yourself. You need not look to us for help.” The League came into being out of a war vo end war and is the result of the crystalized opinion of the people. It was intended to be more than a moral force, and must be made increasingly stronger until it usurps the sovereign rights of all its States with regard to war. Only then will we have peace. To-day we must choose between a strong League of Nations, or continued competitive alliances based on fear of war. Such is ibo choice before Australia to-day.


-The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- “War has broken out, and we must face that fact. Both the belligerent countries are members of the League of Nations, and by virtue of their membership have imposed upon them certain obligations. Australia is also a member, and also has obligations to fulfil. We are not now called upon to decide the real or alleged causes of hostilities; we have only to determine our line of .action. This bill not only defines Australia’s attitude towards the belligerents, but also definitely ranges us on one side. We have to ask ourselves why we have taken that side, or why it is necessary to take any side at all. Important principles axe involved whether we take an active part in the dispute or whether we remain neutral. It is our duty to examine this matter as dispassionately as we can. This is not the time for hysterical outbursts, nor for the clash of party politics. It is the duty of all of us to give of our best in the interests of Australia. In this dispute the Government has declined to be neutral, and has proposed a certain course of action which Parliament is now asked to approve.

As I have said, there is no need for us now to examine the cause or causes of the present dispute. That was done by the League of Nations after hearing the ca3e of both parties. The League was in a better position than we could be to form an opinion, and the League gave a unanimous verdict. Italy was adjudged the aggressor, and later, 50 nations out of 56 entitled to vote, endorsed the verdict. Australia was one of the nations which, through its representative at Geneva, endorsed the verdict of guilty against Italy. I do not imagine that any honorable member of this House will dispute that verdict or will say that it was wrong or biased. Italy, through its leaders, has followed a course of action which almost the whole world condemns. That certain nations are not members of the League, and therefore did not vote, does not alter the fact that- Italy stands condemned by an overwhelming weight of enlightened world opinion. Italy is condemned for having attempted by armed force, to impose its will and authority on a smaller and very much weaker nation in disregard of - I might almost say defiance of - the undertakings into which it had entered. Italy has violated its word, and ‘has broken a law, or set of laws, that it was one of the foremost in making. For this action Italy has been condemned, and, along with most other nations, Australia is a party to that condemnation. In my opinion, no other course is open to us. We have adjudged Italy guilty of breaking its bond and covenant. Shall we also break our pledged word ? We are required to take some action against tho declared law-breaker; by what method is largely left to ourselves, as also is the time for the application of whatever measures we may adopt. This Government asks us to agree to certain sanctions that have been recommended by the Co-ordination Committee of the League, and the object of this bill is to implement our undertaking as a signatory of the League Covenant. We are asked to apply sanctions. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), in his book which has just been published, says, Economic sanctions are either an empty gesture, or war”. I agree with that view; it is the truth. I speak as a layman, not as a lawyer, but the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) has admitted in this House that economic sanctions, if resisted, mean war. Of course they do. Are we optimistic enough to think that Italy will not resist them in some way? If it does not resist them by force it will definitely resist them by all other means. Let us not delude ourselves on this point. Sanctions will not be meekly received by Italy. And then what? Do not let us quibble over such words or phrases as “ unprovoked aggression “ negotiations “, “ compromise “, &c. Italy has until the 18th of this month, that is less than a fortnight, to decide what means it will adopt to resist sanctions. It fought, and is fighting, against the world’s censure. Will it accept the measures implementing that censure? Fervently as we all hope and pray it will, I am afraid that if we think 60, we are doomed to disappointment.

This is the first occasion that sanctions are to be applied collectively; a new doctrine, based on the sternest realism of experience, is being employed to bring n recalcitrant nation to its senses. Nations and men who have suffered from the consequences of modern war are groping for new methods’ of preserving their own safety, and the methods now being adopted are the result of the conviction that war has become too dangerous a thing to be dealt with by the old methods. I speak as one who was a front-line soldier in the last war, and I know that war can be regarded no longer as a corntest between two nations with the rest of the world standing by and looking on. I believe that modern war is like a bushfire that can, and probably will, spread with great rapidity and become immeasurably destructive. Consequently, it is the bounden duty of the whole world to unite for the purpose of stamping out this war at once. Those who think they can stand aside and look at war from a distance without becoming actually involved will ultimately find they delude themselves. A nation need not actually be drawn into

Avar to suffer from it. The experience of neutrals in the last conflict proves that fact. The world has been tied together, and the sooner we face that fact and stop talking about self-sufficiency and the like the better will we progress in dealing with international disputes. The idea that the world can be divided permanently into so many water-tight compartments, each one insulated from the troubles of its neighbour, is contradicted by experience.

It is more important to prevent war than to stop it after it has broken out. The establishment of the League of Nations represented a sincere attempt to prevent war. But war has again broken out, and it now becomes our duty to stop it as speedily as possible. This Government asks us to adopt sanctions which will have the effect of involving us in war. Our multilateral treaties also impose that obligation upon us. We arc asked to keep our word. As against this it is contended that we should pursue a policy of isolation or neutrality. Let us examine this attitude. Dealing with the matter of neutrality, Mr. Henry L. Stimson, a former Secretary of State of the United States of America, in a paper which he read at the twenty-ninth annual meeting of the American Society of International Law, held in April this year, said -

When the average nian speaks of neutrality he often confuses it with impartiality. Of course a greater mistake could hardly be made. Effective neutrality does not mean effective impartiality. It may mean just the opposite. If the war involves a great sea power which lias control of the sca, it may mean that by remaining neutral we are in effect taking -sides with that power against its opponents who do not control the sea. Again, .many people think that the doctrine of neutrality means that weshall attempt to remain entirely isolated from connexion with the nations which are fighting. They do not realize that, on the contrary, traditional neutrality involves taking active steps to protect our trade with both sides of the combat.

A little later in the same paper he said -

When we say that the great mass of our people wish to remain neutral, speaking with exactness we do not mean that at all. We only mean that they wish to keep out of war - which is a very different thing. Such a statement does not solve our real problem. It is a platitude which does not get us anywhere. The real problem is to decide what methods of action will best keep us out of war. Will the method of traditional neutrality do so? If not, should something be substituted for it?

What is to be substituted? The League of Nations suggests the imposition of sanctions and the Common-wealth Government accepts its suggestion. Will the Australian people support such a policy?

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

– Does Mr. Stimson support the imposition of sanctions ?


– He does not say so. On one point we are all agreed, and that is that the Australian people do not want war. When it is realized that sanctions, whether economic, financial, military, or even diplomatic, mean war, will the Australian people accept them? It was said that the last war was to end war. On this occasion we are asked to engage in an economic war in order to end a conflict between a major and a minor power. We could not prevent the outbreak of the present war by international cooperation, but I believe that by such cooperation we can prevent it from being continued. I also quote the following paragraph from Mr. Stimson’s paper -

The only certain way to keep out of a great war is to prevent that war from taking place, and the only hope of preventing war or even successfully restricting it is by the earnest, intelligent, and unselfish co-operation of the nations of the world towards that end.

With that contention I wholeheartedly agree. Individual effort on the part of any one nation cannot secure that desirable end. Progress towards that end can be made only when the nations recognize that they have an objective and march towards it. We in Australia have been asked to join with 50 other nations in the march, and are co-operating. Will Australia join with other nations in making an outlaw of one nation that has “wilfully made war? It is because I think that we should that I intend to support the bill.

VicePresident of the Executive Council · North Sydney · UAP

– I had not intended to speak on this subject, but circumstances, with which honorable members are familiar, make it not only desirable, but necessary, that I should do so. I confess however that I hardly know how to open up a subject so vast as that which is opened through the portals of sanctions, but I shallendeavour, so far as is possible, in the time allotted to me, to cover the ground which I think is necessary. At the outset perhaps I may be permitted to remind honorable members and the people of this country that my interest, in the defence of Australia is not of recent origin. Indeed my views on this vitally important question have been made available to the people of this country for a very long time: for in this Parliament as long ago as 1902 - and on many subsequent occasions - I have set them out and urged their acceptance. Whatever may be said of my political views in other directions, on that subject, at all events, all will agree that I have alway s stood wholeheartedly for the defence of Australia and of the Empire. It has been stated that my attitude, as expressed in my book, is incompatible not only with the Government’s policy in regard to sanctions, but also with Australia’s membership of the League of Nations. I do not agree with this interpretation of the views I have set out. In regard to the first point, I should like to say at the outset that I propose to support this measure - as I had intended to do when its introduction was first mentioned. I shall give reasons whyI support it. Let me refer to some passages from my book Australia and War To-day, and in particular to that quotation which has received much publicity, for which as an author - but not as a human being - I tender my grateful thanks. On page 94, referring to the hopes that some people cherish that out of the efforts of the League would come that just peace and security which the world had been told the League would ensure to all nations great and small, I say -

At the time those words arc being written they are encouraged in their hopes by the long-delayed declaration of M. Laval that France would co-operate in applying economic sanctions to Italy in the event of her persisting in attacking Abyssinia. They see in thin a complete vindication of tho power of the League and a triumphant victory of right over might. It is nothing of the kind. Whether it means anything beyond a politic gesture remains to be seen.

But, as M. Laval has hastened to make quite clear that Prance is not prepared to support whatever economic sanctions the League may decide to impose by such military force as may be necessary to make them effective, it is quite clear that unless Britain is prepared to act alone Mussolini has nothing to fear. It is because he knows this that he persists in his defiance of the League. All effective sanctions must bc supported by adequate force. Economic sanctions which do not materially hamper Italy’s war-like operations are not likely to deter her from aggression. If on the other hand sanctions that cut off her food supplies and raw materials, and threaten her line of communication are applied she will use every means at her- disposal to compel the nations responsible to abandon them. In the highly-strung mental state of the Italian people this means resort to force.

Later I go on to say -

Economic sanctions are, therefore, either an empty gesture or war. But M. Laval has said that Franco will not co-operate in military sanctions. i then proceed to deal with what I think is far more important than the effect of t auctions in the Italo- Abyssinian case - their application to our own circumstances. I frankly confess that this book has been written not merely as an attempt to restrain Italy from attacking Abyssinia; but also in an endeavour to arouse the people of Australia to a realization of the danger in which this country stands. I go on to say -

In any case, whatever be the outcome in this case, it would be most dangerous to conclude that the League of Nations can maintain world peace or secure the security of nations against aggression. In the first place, thiB trouble between Italy and Abyssinia is in a class by itself. It is a dispute between a, powerful and highly civilized nation and a semi-barbarous State. And, secondly, a long period of time has elapsed since Italy’s declaration of her intention to acquire substantial concessions in Abyssinia, giving the League the fullest opportunity to intervene, to negotiate, to put into operation all its machinery for settling disputes by peaceful means, and affording the nations will- ing to protect Abyssinia from aggression, it tho League’s efforts should prove abortive, time to marshal their forces.

But in the case of a dispute between two major European powers, settlement through the instrumentality of the League of Nations would be much more difficult.

In a major dispute between two great powers - or between a powerful European nation and a small one, the settlement of the dispute would be very much more difficult, violent conflicts of opinion on the merits nf the dispute would almost certainly preclude that unanimity which is the condition precedent to action by the League. But a much more important distinction lias yet to be noted. In the event of a major dispute between two European powers - to mention no others - there would be, in all probability, no preliminary declaration of intention and certainly no long interval preceding actual hostilities. The air forces of one nation or perhaps of both, would without warning bom lj the great cities and strategic centres of it« enemy, leaving the League and the whole world to confront wi fait accompli. The League has no forces at its beck and call; nono upon which it can absolutely rely; above all none that it can marshal without “loss of time. Yet peace and security in tho world as it is to-day can only be ensured by adequate forces ready at a moment’s notice to protect a law-abiding nation from attack.

I am prepared to stand or fall by that statement of the position as it is to-day. Australia, Great Britain, and Europe have been for years groping in a world of unrealities,, but the veil has now been rudely torn aside, and the real position revealed to the world. The League cannot protect Abyssinia: the legions of Italy are pressing home their attack. Surely there is not a man or woman in this country who does not realize what this means to Australia!

It has been suggested that my attitude towards the League, my opinion of its ability to protect a weak nation against aggression is a thing of yesterday; that it has been evolved since I joined the administration from which I have just tendered my resignation. There is no truth whatever, in such a charge. In proof of this let me quote from page 39 of my earlier book, The Price of Peace, which was published two or three years ago -

To say that the League has failed is not only unfair, but hypocritical cant. If the League has failed, so have the nations who compose the League. The League is not u sovereign power outside and independent of nations. It is what they make it - strong or weak, wise or foolish. It is said that every country has the parliament it deserves. So, in like fashion, it may be said that the worldhas the League it deserves. If it is a League that talks about peace and does nothing effective to ensure peace, that is because nations that compose it talk about peace with their tongues in their check.

Surely itwas not possible for me to set out my views in clearer language! Yet this book, I repeat, was written between two and three years ago. Dealing -with the ability of the League to protect a weaker nation, and to preserve peace, I say on page 48 of that book -

The League which was to ensure the peace of the world has failed to do so. And it has failed because, to quote again the President’s words, the “ moral force of the world has not sufficed “ and the physical force of which he spoke has not materialized. The fault for this cannot, be laid at the doors of the League, but at the doors of the nations who compose the League. We must all deplore the failure of the League to preserve world peace and guarantee security to the nations, but we cannot ignore facts. The League to preserve the peace of the world was, as pointed out, intended to rest on the rock of armed force. Experience has proved that it has been built on shifting sands. The peace of the world can never be maintained nor national security ensured, until that overwhelming force, of which President Wilson spoke, is raised and placed under the control of the League.

Let me now direct the attention of honorable members to the rock on which, as I see it, the League of Nations was founded, and upon which the peace of the world must inevitably rest. The League was established for the purpose of substituting the rule of law for the rule of force; to establish in the international sphere the rule of law which has been gradually evolved through the ages.Civilization rests on the rule of law, and the rule of law in turn rests on force. The rule of law depends upon sanctions - that is to say, penalties imposed for breaches of the law. Law postulates compulsion, and. compulsion demands force. The late President Wilson understood this perfectly well. In Australia and War To-day, on page 42, I State-

President Wilson was under no illusion on this point. The League as constituted does not aim at world government. Its members arc sovereign States, and the League is bound to preserve their sovereignty and to protect their territorial integrity. It was established to preserve world peace on this basis. But President Wilson made it clear at the outset that without armed force, world peace and security against aggression could not be hoped for. In addressing the Peace Conference in February, 1919, he said- “Armed force is in the background of this programme; but it is in the background, and if the moral force of the world will not suffice, the physical force of the world shall. But that is the last resort because this is intended as a League of peace and not as a League of war.”

He did not speak as a recent convert to the need for armed force to ensure world peace Two years previously he had sent a message to the United States Senate stating - “ The mere agreements may notmake peace secure.”

ThePact of Paris, frequently referred to as the Briand-Kellogg Pact, an agreement to substitute arbitration for war for the settlement of disputes between nations, has been a dead letter, because it did not provide sanctions or penalties to deter aggression or to punish the aggressor. When Abyssinia appealed to PresidentRoosevelt to use hisinfluence to dissuade Italy from its obvious intention to violate Ethiopian territory, the leader of the great American republic, which stands in the very forefront of civilization, passed ‘by on the other side. The Briand-Kellogg Pact could do nothing to ensure security or to preserve world peace if an aggressor nation was resolved to bury its talons in the vitals of another. It was the expression of a desire for peace, but not of the will for peace. Is it suggested that Mussolini can be turned from his purpose by a gesture, by a moral discourse?

When he unfolded to the representatives of the nations at the Peace Conference his concept of the organization which to-day is the League of Nations, the late President Wilson said -

It will be absolutely necessary that a force be created as guarantor of the permanency of the settlement, so much greater than the force of any nation now engaged or any alliance hitherto formed or projected, that no nation, no probable combination of nations could face or withstand it. If the peace presently to be made is to endure it must bea peace made secure by the organized major force of mankind.

This was the League of Nations that was to be the guardian of weak nations, the arbiter in the disputes between strong nations. It was to represent the organized moral force of mankind, but it was also to have at its back armed forces adequate to overawe and, if need be, to overwhelm disturbers of world peace.

This was the League of Nations as President Wilson - its founder - conceived it.

It has been said that I have spoken lightly of the League of Nations; yet I have praised it at least as strongly as has any other honorable member. I have shown its weaknesses and its failures, but I have also shown where it has succeeded; but, above all, I have indicated why it is not able to do that which the world demands. My views on the League are clearly set out in the following passage which appears on page 38 of my last book: - 1 shall show that these contentions rest upon a misunderstanding of the principles on which the League was founded and the provisions of the Covenant from which it derives its authority. But, before doing so, let us, as wholehearted supporters and admirers of the League and its achievements, review its work during the thirteen years of its existence. No unprejudiced person can deny that it has a record of good work well done, and has become an integral part of wor.’d government. It has laboured diligently to promote the well-being of the peoples of the world. It has striven to bring the nations, divided by barriers of distance, language, tradition, and clashing interests, closer together; to allay racial hatreds and mutual mistrust : to preach the gospel of the fundamental kinship of the peoples of all nations. It has brought the representatives of the peoples of all nations together on a footing of perfect equality and united them in a common endeavour to improve the social and economic conditions of mankind. It has led the way in a crusade against disease; against drugs: against bad industrial conditions. And it has .pointed the way to peace. By precept and example it has sought to substitute the rule of law and right for the rule of force and might. If it has not been able to banish war from the world, that is because it cannot perform miracles.

That statement is a complete refutation of the charge that I have not done justice to the League of Nations.

But let me return to sanctions : I have said that these are either ineffective, or, if effective, may lead to war. Prom this view some are inclined to dissent. In the circumstances I may, perhaps, be permitted to give reasons for the opinions T have expressed. If, on a fair review of the position as it exists to-day, it appears that the imposition of sanctions does not create conditions that may lead to war, then it is very clear that I have been altogether mistaken. Brit the facts seem to me to support my contention. Britain and France, who were responsible for the decision of the League to take the course it is now following, clearly had this possibility constantly before them. This was the reason why the League has proceeded slowly and carefully in dealing with the ItaloAbyssinian dispute.

Addressing the League Assembly at Geneva on the 12th September, Sir Samuel Hoare said -

In conformity with its precise and explicit obligations, the League stands - and my country stands with it - for the collective maintenance of the Covenant in its entirety, and particularly for steady and collective resistance to all acts of unprovoked aggression.

On the same occasion the Premier of France; Monsieur Laval, said -

France was faithful to the League Covenant and could not fail in her obligation. No country had received with greater satisfaction than France the words of Sir Samuel Hoare.

He proceeded -

I still entertain the hope that the Council may in a short time fulfil its role of conciliation. In the Committee of Five we are studying every proposal calculated to satisfy the legitimate desires of Italy that are compatible with respect for the sovereignty of another State member of the League.

On the loth September, the Italian Cabinet met in Rome, and the official communique issued afterwards stated that Italy’s military preparations in East Africa were proceeding with greater intensity. “ The Italian- Abyssinian problem “ it said, “ does not admit of a compromise solution “.

Although time will not permit me to deal with the basic causes of war, I may refer briefly to some factors that gravely menace the present and future peace of the world. One is tho struggle - daily growing more intense - for markets: another is the pressure on the means of subsistence caused by the growth of population. This is proceeding unevenly; in some countries, already overcrowded, it has reached a point where room for expansion is, or is fast becoming, irresistible. In the East and in some European countries this need overshadows every other issue and shapes their policies. Naturally these nations look towards those relatively sparsely settled areas of land where there is still abundant room. But the doors are closed ! In a world like this, how can there be peace? How can there be security ? There can he no peace without stability; and how can there be stability where such conditions exist? It is well for those who are living in the lap of abundance to tell those who are starving outside to content themselves and accept things as if all were well in this best of all possible worlds. We must look at this dispute from the point of view of Italy, and from the point of view of Abyssinia. It is because of Italy’s need for land to accommodate her increasing population - and to realize her ambitions - that the position has taken on such intensity and Mussolini is pursuing his present course with such persistency. And it is proposed to turn him from his purpose by a gesture. There is to be no force - just a mere gesture. In my book I wrote -

Sir Walter Citrine, in his most recent presidential address to the British Trades Union Congress, vehemently denounced Italy’s policy. He said, “ This bully must be restrained “. And, of course, Britiain must restrain her! With others, if they can be induced to co-operate; if not, then she is to go” forth proudly conscious of the righteousness of her cause to fight for the right, as Sir Walter and the pacifists see it.

It is always to Britain that the world looks in times of crisis. The world wanted disarmament. Britain gave the world ‘a lead; she reduced her armaments to a dangerously Tow level. All the other Great Powers increased theirs. Now the world wants Britain to compel Italy to keep the peace. But Britain cannot at once set-an example by reducing her armaments below the level of safety, and enforce economic boycotts, or coerce by armed force powerful nations, who, instead of following her lead in disarmament, have greatly increased their military, naval and air forces.

I sum up the position in the following terms : -

Britain was urged to intervene in this dispute between Italy and Abyssinia, in order to maintain world peace.

This is my attitude, and I invite honorable members to note it -

If other nations will stand by her side, supporting her; not with empty words, but with adequate armed forces, then she should intervene. But not otherwise. No more certain way of unloosing the dogs of war for another and still more terrible world conflict can be imagined. The British Empire is a great living force standing for peace and liberty. It is the principal pillar in the Temple of the League of Nations. Its fall would so seriously disturb the world’s equilibrium as to plunge it into chaos. A wild struggle would ensue amongst the great powers for possession of its coveted territories. The scattered nations, colonies and possessions which compose the Empire would be unable to defend themselves. The liberty all enjoy now would be lost. The League of Nations deprived of its support, would collapse.

Will any one say that that is not a fair statement of the position? Will any one censure me because I have pointed it out ? It is said that my views on sanctions are opposed to Government policy. I do not admit that for a moment. At all events, I shall leave honorable members and the people of this country to judge me, and to say whether, after all, even if they were opposed in form, there is any real difference in substance.

Let me preface a quotation that I propose to make from the Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences by saying that there is nothing novel in sanctions or in an economic blockade; it is a device that has been resorted to by belligerents from time immemorial. There is no difference in kind between a siege and an economic blockade. The object is to compel surrender by those nations against whom tho blockade or the siege is directed by cutting off supplies of food, raw materials and munitions or war. An economic sanction is a blockade or a siege: the name is new, but the thing is old. But never previously in the whole of human history, except by a nation for its own purposes, has it been applied. This is the first time that a blockade has been attempted by those who have nothing whatever to do with the dispute except as law-abiding citizens concerned with the preservation of order in society. This is the first time in history that an attempt has been made to restrain aggression by collective effort. In society we know that aggression is restrained and security ensured by the organized forces created by law-abiding citizens. Behind the law is the police. And in order that this security may be ensured or the aggressor restrained in the international sphere, it is essential that there shall be that support which is necessary from law-abiding nations. On the effect of a blockade when strongly enforced, history is eloquent. Let it be remembered that in the last war the blockade established and maintained through four years by the British Fleet was one of the most potent weapons in bringing about Germany’s ultimate surrender. It was a strangle-hold that never relaxed for a moment. Jutland and the submarine campaign were incidental to that blockade just as the battles of the Nile and Trafalgar were incidental to the blockade established by the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars. It was the blockade that hampered Napoleon. Yet Napoleon’s greatest victories were achieved after Trafalgar, and his final overthrow was delayed for years. A blockade is slow in making its effects felt. It leaves the aggressor free to conduct his campaign against the attacked country so long as he can obtain supplies. It is a slow but a deadly process which, if applied rigidly, must eventually compel surrender.

I now make the following quotation from the Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences: -

Never has a nation knowingly used force against another, except in what it believed to be its own self-interests, in which case it necessarily assumed all the r isles of such violent action. Armed sanctions not intended to result in war, and not so resulting, have been used only by strong States against weak States. There are publicists who admit the dangers of attempting to use force to secure the observance of international obligations. They rely, however, upon the economic sanctions of tho League Covenants. But the effectiveness of oven such sanctions must be regarded as illusory. Economic boycotts and trade reprisal? are likely to have the same effect as force. Only when invoked .against weak States will such measures generally not lead to war. Not only have the sanctions failed but their very existence and occasional threat jeopardize the life of the League of Nations and international peace. They arc based on certain fundamental postulates which are contrary to historical and human experience.

This is not what I nave said, nor what I necessarily believe. It is, however, the opinion of an authority whose words must carry weight. It goes on to say -

From every point of view, therefore, it would seem that sanctions against an “ aggressor “ when the latter is a strong power, are either impracticable or are likely to lead to war.

I come now to an authority whose name is much more familiar than is that of the rather formidable one to which I have just referred. During the debate on foreign affairs which took place in the House of Commons in August last, what is described in the press as a dramatic passage occurred between Mr. Lloyd George and Sir Austen Chamberlain. Mr.

Lloyd George had said that Sir Samuel Hoare had been somewhat too cautious and had hoped that he would not carry too far his disclaimer of any intention bo approach friends and allies in Europe to see whether intervention short of war were possible in the matter of Abyssinia. I quote the following report of what then ensued : -

Sir Austen Chamberlain. What would you have done to stop Germany re-arming and to stop Italy?

Mr. Lloyd George. Economic sanctions, short of war.

Sir Austen Chamberlain. It is no good talking about economic sanctions unless you mean war. (Conservative cheers.)

Mr. Lloyd George. Then, what waa the good of putting those words into the Geneva resolution ?

Sir Austen Chamberlain. Mr. Lloyd George says he would never have allowed the situation to reach the present stage. Would he have proposed to Franco - -which never proposed it to us - that France’s army should have marched into Germany when it became evident that Germany was re-arming?

Mr. Lloyd George. What do you mean .by economic sanctions?

Sir Austen Chamberlain. A blockade, which, to be effective, is an act of war. Nothing short of war can make economic sanctions effective.

I submit that my position in this country, as one who has done the State some service, is somewhat analogous to that of Sir Austen Chamberlain in Great Britain. What he said then is in substance what I say now: and honorable members will note that the “hear, hears” came, not from the ranks of Tuscany, but from the great phalanx of Conservatives behind Mr. Baldwin. But there is another and still more effective answer to those who dispute my statement that economic sanctions are either ineffective or may lead to war, and it is to be found in the facts as they present themselves to us and to the world to-day. If there is no danger of an economic blockade or the imposition of sanctions leading to war, then I ask you, Mr. Speaker, and I ask the House and the country, why this concentration of the British Fleet in the Mediterranean? Why did Great Britain - and in this it acted wisely - say, “ We will not act alone “ ? Nothing pleased me better that that definite expression of policy, because, as I view the matter, if Great Britain were to take upon itself the burden of the whole world, it would bc left to whatever consequences might ensue. It said, “ We will not act unless Trance acts”. And the British Government sought from France a definite assurance that, if necessary, it would stand at the side of Britain with such armed forces as might he necessary. After negotiations, more or less protracted, M. Laval finally declared that France would furnish such military or naval forces if an unprovoked attack were made on British ships or British interests. What other construction can be put on this demand by Britain and the assurance by France than that the imposition’ of economic sanctions may lead to armed conflict? ^Economic sanctions without adequate force to give effect to them are useless. Economic sanctions may - I do not say they will - lead to war. That is all I have said. Do not for a moment think that I should hesitate to see this thing through. I am ready to support economic sanctions; I shall vote for them, lt may be that I have misinterpreted the situation. It may be that Mussolini will yield, that he will withdraw those legions of his, which at this moment are pressing on to the very heart of Abyssinia. But I do not think he will. And meanwhile the war is raging, and Abyssinia is left unprotected. The League of Nations and sanctions have relation only to the peace of the world and security. The great essential to peace is security. It is the outstanding feature in civilization. Security of person, security of property ; when these fail, then civilization fails; the whole structure crumbles like a house of cards. There must be security. But there can be no security in a world where there are some nations whose circumstances impel - if you like, compel - them to seek room for their people in other lands. There can be no restraint placed upon them except the restraint of superior force. ‘ Whether you look at the matter from the stand-point of law and of the conditions in civilized society, or whether you look at it as do my friends on the other side - and as I did, when I was associated with them - from the stand-point of organized labour in this country, there is no way by which you can effect your purpose unless behind your words are the means to give effect to them. So far from denouncing sanctions, I welcome them. In any case, what else are we to do? They are the means deliberately - and properly - adopted by the League of Nations, because they are the preliminary steps. It was perfectly right to begin by coinciliation. It is perhaps true that I have chided the League for the length of its negotiations. But the League has now decided to adopt the weapon of the blockade. I say: Go on with it. The blockade may be successful. But I hold very strongly to the opinion that behind an economic blockade there must be the force necessary to give effect to it. An economic blockade cannot be effective unless it is supported by adequate force. If the economic ‘blockade does not seriously hamper Mussolini, he will ignore it.

The time has gone by for us to consider the rights and wrongs of this dispute, and I shall not discuss them. We must now face facts. In civil life we do not deal with the merits of a dispute after an aggressor takes action. The first thing to do, then, is to arrest the aggressor. The matter then goes to the law court and the case is heard. If the aggressor is proved to be justified, he is given the verdict, and also the relief which he seeks.

In this dispute we cannot allow the aggressor to go on his way and ignore both the law and the other peaceful nations. I leave the matter there.

Finally, I direct the attention of honorable members to the following views which I express on page 157 of my new book : -

Wo must rid ourselves of all illusions. With the exception of France and Russia the support that all the nations will, offhand, give to Britain to enforce sanctions is not worth a snap of the fingers. If Italy is restrained it will he due to Britain’s determined stand. And if the League rehabilitates itself, it will be due to Britain’s example and Britain’s efforts. What will come out of all this no man can foresee, but one thing is certain - neither the maintenance of world peace nor safety from aggression can be ensured without adequate armed force. If justice is to prevail and peace to be preserved in the world, then the nations that stand for justice and peace must be strong.

I conclude with this sentence from the book -

If Britain’s naval forces were to-day at their pre-League strength Italy would not have attempted to attack Abyssinia or to disturb the peace of the world

Motion (by Mr. Lyons) put -

That the debate be now adjourned.

The House divided. (Me. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)

AYES: 31

NOES: 24

Majority . . . . 7



Question so resolved in the affirmative. Debate adjourned.

page 1306


Resignation of Mr. W. M. Hughes

Prime Minis ter · Wilmot · UAP

– I lay upon the table the following paper : -

Resignation of Minister for Health and Repatriation (the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes) - Correspondence. and move -

That the paper be printed.

In doing so I intimate to honorable members that, in response to a communication from myself to the right honorable the Minister for Health and Repatriation, I yesterday received his resignation from the ministerial offices which he holds, and that I propose to recommend to His Excellency that he accept such resignation.

My letter to the right honorable gentleman was as follows : -

Melbourne, 5th November, 1935

The Right Hon. W. M. Hughes, K.C. M.P,

Melbourne, Vic

My dear Mr. Hughes,

I confirm my telegram of Friday last, reading: -

Among other references of a similar character you say on page 95 of your new book, “Economic sanctions, are therefore either an empty gesture or war”. This is diametrically opposed to the Government’s policy and the view expressed on behalf of the Government on the motion for the second reading of the Sanctions Bill. It challenges the wisdom and the sincerity of the Government’s Sanctions Bill and strikes at the root of our support of the League and the loyal discharge of Covenant obligations and attacks sanctions as being cither futile or warlike. Under these circumstances your position in the Cabinet appears untenable, your views being quoted freely in support of the Opposition attack on the bill. I therefore regretfully require your resignation since I cannot have a divided front on this vital matter.

Both before and since the despatch of this’ telegram I have had prolonged consultations with the other members of the Cabinet in an endeavour to find some way out of a position of great embarrassment and difficulty. I need not tell you how appreciative I am of your great services to Australia and of the association we have had in my present Government. The position is, however, that you have publicly committed yourself to views on the major issue of our attitude to the League of Nations and the policy of imposing economic sanctions under the League Covenant which are contrary to those of the Government. Were the matters of difference less important they might be overlooked or adjusted. Indeed, after, and as a result of our personal interview of yesterday, I have not only again thought over the position, but (notwithstanding that the responsibility in this matter is my own) I have consulted other Cabinet Ministers in an endeavour to find some mode of procedure which would preserve unimpaired the essential solidarity of the Cabinet on this matter of policy, and, at the same time, make it possible for you to retain your place effectively in Cabinet. No such solution can be discovered, and I am therefore reluctantly compelled to indicate (with the full concurrence of my colleagues) that, in order that the attitude of my Government on the League and sanctions should be united, strong, and unequivocal, I must, with realregret, confirm my request that you tender your resigna-. tion.

Yourssincerely. (Sgd.) J. A. Lyons

The reply of the right honorable member was as follows: -

Clarendon House,


East Melbourne, C.2

Right Hon. J. A. Lyons, M.P.,

Prime Minister of Australia

My dear Prime Minister,

In pursuance of your request i herewith tender you my resignation . of the offices held by mo in your administration.

I am

Yours truly, (Sgd.) W. M. Hughes.

I wish to add only that our difference with the right honorable member is solely on a question of policy. I express my very great regret at losing the services of one for whom I have a very deep personal regard.


– The right honorable member for North Sydney has rendered very great service to his country in various capacities and has brought all his wide experience to the affairs of Cabinet in such a way as to render valuable service to the Cabinet, and through the Cabinet to the country. The personal relations between the right honorable member and myself and his other Cabinet’ colleagues have been of the finest character, and on personal grounds I regret very much that these difficulties have occurred. I again emphasize that our only difference is one of policy. I trust that our personal relations will continue in the future as they have been in the past.


.- Mr. Speaker-

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Why does the Leader of the Opposition want to come into it?


– In reply to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) I come into it in order to make one or two observations about the extraordinary procedure that has marked the bringing of this business before Parliament. An interruption to a debate on a bill subject to the guillotine has occurred twice in one afternoon.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– The Opposition can debate the bill till midnight if it wishes to do so.


– Regardless of the dis- comfiture of the Minister for Defence I intend to say what I want to say. It must be recognized that much of what has been said by the Prime Minister concerning the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) is well deserved. In a long and distinguished political career, the right honorable gentleman has rendered great service to Australia, but at no time has he done a greater public service than by makingplain to our people the inevitable consequences of the policy which the Government has adopted, and which itis seeking by this bill to apply. If there is an outstanding need in connexion with this dispute it is that the Australian people shall have a clear perception of what is involved in the policy which the Government asks this Parliament to adopt. The right honorable member for North Sydney has left the Government at the request of the Prime Minister because he has revealed to all of us that to which the Government by this measure will commit Australia.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon G J Bell:

The honorable member is not in order in discussing the bill, the debate upon which will be resumed at a later hour.


– I do not propose to do so, other than to say that honorable members on this side of the House are not surprised that because of this measure the Government has found it impossible to preserve its membership intact.

Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) put -

That the debate be now adjourned.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)

AYES: 31

NOES: 24

Majority . . . . 7



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Debate adjourned.

page 1308


Second Reading. (Debate resumed from page 1306).

East Sydney

.- From the commencement of the discussion of this subject, the Labour party has contended that our participation in the application of sanctions must involve Australia in war. As the debate proceeds the correctness of this contention becomes increasingly clear. Our views have been supported by the utterances of prominent men “in every country throughout the world. There is no need for me to emphasize, after listening to the speech delivered by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. . Hughes) who was, until a few hours ago, a member of the Cabinet, that the right honorable gentleman has rendered, probably unconsciously, great service to the people of this country by pointing out the dangers involved in the Government’s policy in regard to this matter. The right honorable gentleman has not departed from that policy, but, in the eyes of the Government, is guilty only of having disclosed to the people of this country what that policy means. The right honorable member is supporting that policy, and is prepared to lead the people to selfdestruction as he did during the world war, and the only difference between the utterances of the right honorable member for North Sydney and those of his colleagues in the Cabinet is that where he stated frankly the logical outcome of what is now being done, the other members of the Cabinet have endeavoured to camouflage the position and commit Australia step by step until we are so far involved that we shall have no opportunity to turn back. Let me review for a moment the utterances of various members of the Cabinet on this subject. The first ministerial statement was made by the Prime Minister himself. Since then the right honorable gentleman has been relegated to the background in this debate, his place being usurped by the AttorneyGeneral. The probable reason for this is that the opinions of the Prime Minister were not sufficiently definite in character to satisfy those who direct the policy of the Government. In his first ministerial statement, the Prime Minister said -

It is for the League of Nations to make recommendations only and for this Parliament to agree or otherwise to the proposed sanctions.

The principal issue in this debate is whether this Parliament can make decisions contrary to those of the League of Nations. The Attorney-General, in a subsequent ministerial statement, evidently made for the purpose of correcting what had previously been said by the Prime Minister, said -

Insofar as my opinion has any weight in this matter it is to the effect that no constituent nation of the League could refuse to give effect to the policy of sanctions once those sanctions had been ascertained and declared by the Co-ordinating Committee.

In a further statement made in this chamber, the Attorney-General said that there was a vast difference between the first two paragraphs of article 16, which provided for the imposition of economic and military sanctions. He said that paragraph 1, dealing with economic sanctions would automatically apply to any member of the League, irrespective of what the opinion of its Parliament might be, and that the second paragraph relating to military sanctions could only operate in the form of a recommendation by the Coordinating Committee, and that this Parliament could decide to accept or reject the recommendation. The AttorneyGeneral seized on the word “ recommendation,” as members of the legal fraternity are prone to do, in order to lead honorable members to believe that action under paragraph 2 of article 16 was not obligatory on the member nations of the League. But he failed to read paragraph 3, which states - . . and they will mutually support one another in resisting any special measures aimed at one of their number by the Covenantbreak ing State.

Members supporting the Government in this matter may explain for the information of honorable members generally, exactly what is meant by special measures adopted by the Covenant-breaking State. It is not likely that these measures will be an extension by Italy itself of the prohibitions placed on trade with it, because that would be, in effect, merely an extension of the sanctions designed to make it increasingly difficult for it to continue its activities in Abyssinia. Obviously,, when one of the great nations of the world, possessing a most powerful air force and navy, is suffering from economic sanctions applied by other major nations, it will inevitably use its armed forces to break the blockade. That is the special measure that is referred to in paragraph 3. There can be no difference of opinion in regard to what economic sanctions actually mean, because Italian statesmen and spokesmen have already indicated to the nations of the world, exactly how Italy will accept the application of sanctions against it. Signor Gayda, editor of the Giornale de Italia, in an article headed “ Sanctions Mean War “, writes -

But especially must it bc made clear that sanctions will mean war - a war of destruction on land and sca, and in the air.

That is the opinion of Italians themselves, so that there can be no possible doubt that if the Commonwealth Government persists in its present policy, this country will inevitably be engaged in war. In attempting to define the Government’s attitude in regard to this matter, many contradictory statements have been made. The Prime Minister has already said that the Commonwealth Government is behind the British Government, and is supporting Great Britain up to the hilt. It is essential for us to ascertain the opinion held by British statesmen in regard to the course adopted by Great Britain in the present controversy. On the 11th September last, Sir Samuel Hoare. British Foreign Secretary, addressing the League of Nations, said -

Great Britain stands for the maintenance of the Covenant in its entirety.

In its entirety - not portions of it as the Attorney-General suggested; the nation cannot accept some of its obligations under the Covenant and neglect to honour others. Sir Samuel Hoare’s statement of policy was supported by the utterance of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). Iri a ministerial statement delivered in this House on the 16th October last, the Prime Minister, referring to the decisions of tho Co-ordinating Committee of the League of Nations which had been transmitted by the Secretary-General, said -

The members of the League agree that they will mutually support one another in resisting any special measures aimed at one of their number by the Covenant-breaking State. The Government, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia, which is a responsible member of the League of Nations and a signatory to its Covenant, is prepared in principle to adopt the measures indicated in the above message.

That statement proves that if special measures, such as the use of an armed force to break a blockade, are adopted by Italy, the Commonwealth Government is prepared to use military and naval force, in co-operation with other members of the League of Nations, to bring about Italy’s defeat.

The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) made an unfortunate choice of references in support of his arguments. For instance, he said that, although paragraph 1 of article 16 of the Covenant was obligatory on the member States, the position was different in the case of paragraph 2, in respect of which it would be for the governments concerned to decide whether or not the recommendations should he accepted. In order to show that other members of the League of Nations give to article 16 an interpretation different from that placed upon it by the Attorney-General, I need only refer to a resolution which was handed to the German delegates at Locarno in 1925 by representatives of Great Britain, Belgium, France, Italy, Czechoslovakia, and Poland regarding article 16 of the League Covenant in which they stated -

We do not hesitate to inform you of the interpretation which, in so far as we are concerned, we place upon article 16. In accordance with that interpretation, the obligations resulting from the said article on the members of the League must be understood to mean that each State member of the League is bound to co-operate loyally and effectively in support of the Covenant and in resistance to any act of aggression to an extent which is compatible with its military situation and takes its geographical position into account.

On the Attorney-General’s own statement, it can be shown that the opinion held by other members of the League of Nations in regard to article 16 is different from the honorable gentleman’s interpretation. When the Attorney-General was questioned regarding the procedure under which sanctions would be applied, he said that the Co-ordinating Committee would submit proposals for sanctions to the various States which were members of the League, and that those proposals would then, be considered by the governments of those States, which would direct their representatives on the Co-ordinating Committee as to the policy they should adopt. He went on to say that, once a vote had been recorded, all the members of the League would be bound by the decision, even if it conflicted with the opinions of their own governments. Put on a subsequent occasion he said that that procedure would apply only to economic sanctions, because each government was at liberty to act as it thought fit in regard to military sanctions. During his speech, to which T listened attentively, the AttorneyGeneral said -

Before Australia or any other member State could be committed to the imposition of military sanctions, the proposal to impose them would first have to come before the Government of the Commonwealth, which would give a decision thereon and instruct its representative, Mr. Bruce, as to the vote he was to give on the proposal. Once any sanction is approved by the League, no member can refuse to give effect to that sanction without breaking its obligations under the Covenant. In my opinion, we are not at liberty, when retaining our membership of the League, to say that we will not participate in any of the sanctions.

In that statement there was no differentiation between economic and military sanctions. The considered opinion of the honorable gentleman then was that in no case could a government of a State which was a member of the League evade its responsibility except by severing its membership with the League or having its membership cancelled by the League.

Another important point arises in connexion with the right of the Australian Parliament to decide these issues. The

Attorney-General has told us that . the Government of the United Kingdom may override any decision of this Parliament and decide issues of war and peace on behalf of Australia. He has said that if Britain is at war, Australia also is automatically at war. That contention is challenged by the Labour party. Had the Attorney-General said that such a state of affairs existed at the outbreak of the Great War he would have been correct for Australia had no say in regard to the declaration of war on that occasion. Australia was dragooned into that conflict, and was expected to respond by offering the wealth . and man” hood of this country to fight Britain’s wars. The dominions were not satisfied with that state of affairs, and even during the war, as well as subsequently, they protested on a number of occasions. The agitation for equality of status for dominion Parliaments came principally from representatives of South Africa, Canada and the Irish Free State. Those dominions were insistent in their demand to be placed on an equal footing with the Parliament of Great Britain. The result of that agitation is that to-day equality of status is not something which the dominions are seeking; it is an accomplished fact, which is recognized internationally. Indeed, Australia has separate representation on the council of the. League of Nations. When the British Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster in 1931, it altered the whole basis of the relationship ‘between the various members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and restricted the area of the British Empire. The self-governing dominions were recognized as independent nations. We have, therefore, the British Empire, which is subject to the Parliament of Britain, and also a number of independent nations - independent in every sense of the word; the British Empire and the independent nations together make what is known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. The records show that the granting to the dominions of a status equal to that of Britain itself “was agreed to without a dissentient voice being raised. Yet the Attorney-General says that if Great Britain declares war, the rest of the Empire automatically becomes engaged in that war. If the honorable gentleman’s contention is correct, it means that if the Australian Parliament decided to wage war against another nation, and advised His Majesty the King to issue a declaration of war on behalf of Australia - a declaration which he would have to make - every other section of the British Empire would automatically be involved in Australia’s war. Such a policy would soon dissolve the British Commonwealth of Nations. In all the domestic concerns of a dominion, whether internal or external, the King is bound to accept the advice, not of the British Cabinet, but of the government of that dominion. There are also other matters which affect the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations as a group. They can be determined only after consultation between the representatives of the various nations over which the British flag flics. In regard to such matters the King can involve all the various units only after he has received advice, not merely from his Ministers in Britain, but from all his Ministers. Only in that way can the King involve the various members of the British Commonwealth of Nations in war. That position is recognized not only by the people of Great Britain, but also by other nations. When the Treaty of Locarno was drawn up the fact was realized that peace in Europe and the boundaries of European countries were of more concern to Britain than to Australia. For that reason article 9 of the Locarno Pact specifically provided that the British dominions were excluded from certain obligations accepted by Britain. Moreover, the treaty which witnessed the end of the conflict between Great Britain and the Irish Free State contained a provision that the Irish Free State could not be involved in active participation in any wars waged by Britain except with the consent of the Irish Parliament. Obviously, if the Irish Free State, which, like Australia, is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, has the right to decide whether or not it shall be involved in Britain’s wars, the same right is reposed in every other member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Yet the A.ttorney General says that if the King, acting on the advice of His Minis ters, in Britain, declares war on another nation, Australia automatically becomes involved in that war. The Labour party says that, before Australia can be involved in war, the King must make a declaration of war on behalf of Australia, and that declaration can be made by him only after he has received advice from his Ministers in Australia. The AttorneyGeneral has made a number of contradictory statements in connexion with the question of Australia’s right to stay out of the war. When the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) stated -

A declaration of non-participation ia not only within our rights, hut would he our best contribution to world peace.

The Attorney-General said, “ I admitted that it is within our rights.” Yet at another time he told us that Australia could not keep out of a war in which Britain was engaged but would automatically be drawn into it.

Mr Fisken:

– I think the honorable gentleman said to what extent we can participate in it.


– I shall repeat what the Attorney-General said in reply to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) -

I admitted that it is within our rights.

That referred to non-participation, which, as I understand it, does not mean partial participation. To comprehend the attitude adopted by the representatives of other units of the British Commonwealth of Nations to this matter, it is necessary to bear in mind the constitutional aspect, because Australia, through its various representatives, has been most conservative in its outlook on constitutional development, and the relationship existing between the self-governing units of the British Empire and Great Britain itself. The first declaration was made at the Imperial War Conference of 1917. when, because the dominions resented having been dragged into the war without having been consulted, it was resolved that the basis upon which the components of the Empire would operate in future would be equality of nationhood. Sir Robert Borden, the Prime Minister of Canada, referring to the Imperial War Cabinet, in a speech before the British

Parliamentary Association on the 21st June, 1918, said -

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

Because of declarations such as that, Great Britain itself realized that if any form of unity at all was to be maintained between the several parts of the British Empire, it must be upon a basis different from that which existed prior to the Great “War. To appreciate that Britain recognized the necessity for allowing the various parts of the Empire to decide this question for themselves, we have only to refer to the memorable postwar incident of Chanak, when a small British force was confronted by superior Turkish forces. The then Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Lloyd George) was considering the possibilities of renewing hostilities against Turkey, to prevent that country from again obtaining control of the Dardanelles. He sent a cablegram to the Prime Ministers of the several dominions asking what measure of support would he forthcoming to Britain in the event of its engaging in further hostilities against Turkey, and it is now known that South Africa and Canada definitely declined to render any assistance. Australia and New Zealand,, the conservative members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, consented to send small forces if such a step became absolutely necessary, hut the Australian Government was not enthuiastic about the policy of Great Britain, and the possibility of renewed warfare, and advised its representative, at the assembly of the League of Nations (Sir Joseph Cook), to persuade the League to intervene in this dispute. The Norwegian delegate, however,, anticipated Sir Joseph Cook in taking this step. In that incident we have conclusive proof that the policy then being pursued by Great Britain was not acceptable to the Australian Government. Many authorities have been quoted in this discussion to support the policy of the Government, but, singularly enough, one of the authorities whom I shall quote in reply to the Government is none other than the Australian delegate to the League of Nations (Mr. S. M. Bruce). On the 3rd March, 1927, referring to the status that Australia should enjoy, he made the following frank statement in this chamber –

We have demanded for ourselves the status of full equality with Great Britain. Wo found ourselves involved in the Great War because of a. foreign policy about which, we had never been consulted, and I think we are all determined that wo shall never again be involved by a policy of which wo have no information. This House recognizes that the measure of co-operation that wo are to give to Great Britain in war time is for this Parliament to determine; but should it suit an enemy at war with His Majesty the King, the head of the British Empire, to attack Australia, then immediately we would be defensively at war, and would have to protect ourselves.

Mr. Bruce said that the Parliament of the Commonwealth should he the authority to determine exactly what support should be given to the League, or to Great Britain if it decided to follow the League into a war. Tho League itself, about which we have heard so much, is said to be based upon a policy of collective security instead of upon individual armaments. If that be so, we might reasonably ask why the League has never applied this principle to its member States ? Why has it never been able to- enforce disarmament upon- the nations ? Repeatedly in this chamber it has been said that Great Britain was showing the way to the other nations of the world in regard to disarmament. Upon examination, I find that Great Britain temporarily restricted its armaments not because of any inclination to abandon its previous policy, but through sheer necessity, owing to its budgetary position. Britain could not pay the interest upon its war debts, and at the same time provide for the enormous expenditure to build up its army, navy and air force. But immediately the budgetary position improved, Britain, and other nations of the world, again began to compete in an armaments race, thus showing conclusively that they have no faith in the ability of the League to give effect to what is said to be its main purpose, namely, collective security. A committee was set up by the League to report on the subject of armaments, because some member States realized that before disarmament can be achieved, the operations of many big armament trusts must be prohibited. This committee found -

That armament firms have -

Been active in fomenting war scares, and in persuading their own countries to adopt warlike policies.

Attempted to bribe government officials both at home and abroad.

Disseminated false reports concerning the military and naval programmes in various countries in order to stimulate armament expenditure.

Sought to influence public opinion by the control of newspapers in their own and foreign countries.

Organized international armament rings through whichthe armament racehas been accentuated by playing off one country against another.

Organized armament trusts by which they have increased the price of armaments to governments.

Great Britain, however, has taken no action as a member State of the League to give effect to the findings of that committee. As a matter of fact, when the Labour party in the British House of Commons endeavoured to have accepted a motion to provide for the removal from private enterprise of the right to manufacture armaments, it was opposed by a majority of the members, and was defeated. That proved that in the British Parliament there is no sincere desire on the part of a majority of its members to bring about disarmament. If disarmament and reliance upon collective security are not the purposes for which the League was founded, why was the organization ever created? In my opinion it was a league of victors in the last war, who had gained greatly, territorially and otherwise, and were anxious to hold what they had won. Therefore, the victors decided upon a co-operative effort - the League - and opposed to them were the vanquished nations who were not prepared to support it, and who were only looking toward the day when once again they could take up arms to wrest from the victors what they had lost as a result of the war. Many of those nations subsequently became members of the League, but only to suit their own purposes. Germany joined temporarily, because it was fighting for time. It was secretly rearming, and when eventually it felt itself strong enough, it blatantly announced its re-armament policy and defied the League to take any action. On that occasion the League did not consider the application of sanctions against Germany, whose rearming had been made possible by American capital. Had the League attempted to apply sanctions it would have prevented the repayment of those loans and America would not have been prepared to submit to that. Because the powers outside the League whose interests were affected were more powerful than the member States, the League did not act and Germany’s armament was connived at.

In the present controversy we see a peculiar alliance between the Government and sections who were previously opposed to it. Many people are misguidedly supporting the Government’s policy without knowing whither it will lead, because they believe that they cannot do other than support the administration if, as it is alleged, it is aiming to obstruct Italy’s attempt to conquer a small undefended country. Anybody would imagine that we, when speaking of the right of self-determination, and the right of native peoples to decide for themselves their own form of government, belong to a community of nations which always adopted that principle. But if one examines British history, one finds that the greatest offender and enslaver of native races has been Great Britain. For instances of that, one has only to turn to Africa. That country, with an area of 11,500,000 square miles, is partly controlled by France which possesses nearly 4,000,000 square miles with a population of 36,000,000, and Great Britain, which has 3,500,000 square miles of territory with a population of 48,000,000. It will be seen that if Great Britain were sincere in its desire to give to native races the right to self-determination, it could apply its policy to its own possessions in Africa. I remember that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) said that there was a difference between the present war and the colonial wars in which Great Britain had engaged, because in the latter Britain’s policy had been acceptable to the native populations. The same, however, is -being said of Italy on this occasion by Italian statesmen, because it is stated that the Abyssinian natives are welcoming the invading forces. The honorable member suggested that the South African population, which, in certain localities, is predominantly Dutch, was favorable to British rule, and desired no change.

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

– I said that at the time of the Boer “War Great Britain was the suzerain power.


– A few years ago a controversy raged in South Africa .between tho ‘South African party, which is predominantly British, and the South African National party, which is predominantly Dutch. The controversy was as to whether South Africa had the right to independence and its own flag. General Smuts led the South African party, and the present Prime Minister, General Hertzog, the National party. Prominent amongst those who were advocating the right to independence was Dr. Malan. The Nationalists desired the elimination of the Union Jack from the national flag, and the South African party would not consent to any flag which did not include the Union Jack. Eventually they compromised, and it was decided that South Africa should have two flags. One was to be a composite flag representing all the component parts of the union of South Africa, while the other was to be the Union Jack. The Government agreed that, upon occasions when it was necessary to fly flags, the two emblems should be flown side by side, hut it would give no undertaking to fly the Union Jack in small towns where the population was predominantly Dutch, where feeling was strong against the British connexion, and where English was not even taught in the schools. I point these things out in order to show that the so-called benefits of British rule are not always as apparent to some of the peoples who live under it as honorable members opposite would have us believe.

In the present case, however, the question is not the preservation of the independence of Abyssinia, and I mention this for the benefit of any honorable members opposite who may he blindly supporting the Government in the belief that they are thereby doing what they can to preserve the independence of a weak nation. The independence of Abyssinia was doomed from the day it was. realized by the great nations of the world that that country was rich in oils and minerals, and that its soil and’ climate were suitable for the growing of cotton, a commodity which is necessary to any nation which aspires to be .a world power. The present struggle is not between Italy and Abyssinia with the independence of Abyssinia as an issue, but ‘between British imperialism, and the group of nations which stand with Britain and Italian imperialism and those nations which stand with Italy. It is an imperialist war.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– That is utterly incorrect.


– It may he true that Britain does not desire immediately to annex Abyssinia for itself, but it is determined that no other nation shall do so. In order to show that Britain, and the nations which support Britain, are not concerned over the independence of Abyssinia, it is only necessary to recall that, on the 16th October last, a conference was held in Paris at which representatives of Britain, Prance and Italy attended. At that conference the Italo- Abyssinia dispute was discussed, and a plan was put forward b France and Britain for the division of Abyssinia into economic spheres to ‘be controlled by the three participating powers. Britain and France were prepared to recognize Italy’s claim to a sphere of economic control in Abyssinia, but were not prepared to recognize its claims for political control. If the three powers represented at that conference had been able to come to an agreement on the proposals discussed, Abyssinia would not have been consulted. The opinion of the rulers of Abyssinia on the proposal would not have mattered in the least. Abyssinia is just a pawn in the game. That country is ‘being used by the imperialist nations led by Great Britain to fight their battles for them. They are leading Abyssinia to believe that it is fighting for its independence, when, as a matter of fact, no matter what result follows from the war, the independence of Abyssinia will definitely be lost. In order to show the hypocrisy and cant which permeates this discussion to-day-


– The honorable member must moderate his language.


– Many statements have been made during the course of this debate which cannot he supported by facts. Notwithstanding the denial of the Minister for Defence, Britain definitely has in- terests in the area under dispute. If Italy obtains control of Abyssinia, it will be able to obtain supplies of oil, coal and cotton. At present Italy lacks all those commodities, and must depend upon outside sources of supply. Italy is an aggressive and war-like nation seeking expan-sion, and if it obtains the necessary supplies of raw material, and a rich territory in the north-east of Africa, it will be in a position to challenge British supremacy in the Mediterranean. It is vital to Britain to maintain that supremacy, and to keep control of the Straits of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal, because those are the gateways to its eastern possessions. That is why there is at present a concentration of British naval forces in the Mediterranean, and the fact that those warships are there is an indication that the Government of Great Britain and the Government of Australia are preparing for war.


-The honorable member has exhausted his time. [Quorum formed.’]

Batman · UAP

.- I congratulate the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) upon his vigorous and truthful presentation of the case against this bill. This is a measure relating to the application of sanctions against Italy, and I take leave to suggest that the bill carries its condemnation upon its very face, and in express terms answers the suggestion that this is not a measure of force directed against another nation, but is a friendly or paternal measure for the purpose of directing Italy in the way in which it ought to go.

The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), in the course of his interesting address with which I disagree for the most part, cited the case of the United States of America, and argued that the measures taken by that country, which is not a member of the League, were in the nature of sanctions more drastic even than those proposed in this bill.


– I said that they had more harsh effect at the moment than any sanctions proposed to be introduced.


– Very well, I am prepared to accept that corrected version of what I understood the honorable member to say - “ That they had a harsher effect at the moment.” If the honorable member’s words mean anything at all, they mean that the American proposals were in the nature of sanctions.


– That is so.


– And that they at least indicate general concurrence with the policy outlined in this bill. The honorable member also stressed the words “ acting individually “. To use another expression employed °y the honorable member, “ they are pregnant with meaning”. The United States of America, like Australia, is in a position of comparative isolation. It is not bound by the decisions of the League of Nations as to any course of action it may pursue; but, watching the trend of events in a perfectly detached manner, it is in a position to declare, regulate and enforce its own policy as it wishes. The steps it has already taken indicates, properly enough, its sense of displeasure at the aggressive, war-like and imperialistic conduct of Italy in this campaign, and, at the same time, indicates its aloofness from the contest and its determination to do what I suggest Australia should do - keep out of the war, and in that way contribute potentially to the pacification of the world.

The policy of the Labour party on this matter was explained by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), in his comprehensive speech, in which he ventured to soar over the head of the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) and to interest himself only a little in the dry bones of the legal argument which the Attorney-General addressed to the House. I, on the other hand, take the lower ground of legal argument. As this measure is essentially a ‘war measure, and not a peace measure, one would have supposed that it would have been introduced by the Minister for Defence as the senior Minister and the appropriate Minister for the purpose. But it would appear that the high command has decided otherwise. It has achieved the impossible - it has repressed the irrepressible and has entrusted the bill to the care of a gentleman more accustomed to what I have described as the drybones of the law than the high explosives of war. I notice that the Attorney-General is not in his place at the moment although he introduced this measure.


– The AttorneyGeneral is attending the Loan Council.


– Apparently having delivered his speech he feels that the last word has been said upon this subject, and that it is not necessary for him to listen to the views of other honorable members. But I believe he would be prepared to admit that when he first embarked upon the subject of sanctions in relation to the procedure of the League of Nations, he knew very little about it. Apparently his knowledge of the matter then -was summed up in the polite intimation to honorable members who sought information on it to put their questions on the notice-paper. In the meantime, however, he seems to have devoted a little thought to the matter and to have acquired, that little knowledge which proverbially is known to be “ a dangerous thing”. After reading the various documents associated with this matter - the Covenant, the proposed amendment of the Covenant, andthe various resolutions which have been made rules of conduct in connexion with the Covenant - the Attorney-General must have wondered where were all the lawyers at the disposal of the high contracting parties when these various documents, upon which he relied for committing Australia to this dangerous course, were drawn up; because there is not much evidence in them of skilful draftmanship or legal appreciation.

Honorable members will recall that the Attorney-General had not proceeded very far with his argument before he said somewhat plaintively that some confusion bad occurred in the records. I suggest that when we had heard him to the end there was confusion worse confounded, not only in the minds of honorable members, but also in the mind of the honorable gentleman himself. The honorable gentleman turned, as most speakers on this subject have turned, to the much debated article 16 of the Covenant which, as all honorable members are aware, was Part I of the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on the 28th June, 1919. I have said already that that treaty was not a peace treaty. Churchmen, lawyers, statesmen and the ordinary men in the street, who suffer most in these matters, are all agreed that it was poisoned at its source, that it represented a breach of faith on the part of the high contracting parties, that it was a predatory instrument and that it was a blank and cynical denial of the objects for which, over four and a half ghastly years of torment, the last warhad been fought to an end. Of such a parent was the Covenant including sanctions - and especially sanctions - born. From this document of collective mendacity we are now looking for the collective security, but this much I shall concede -the child is better than the parent.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to8 p.m.


– Admittedly, the Covenant represents an ideal, and as Viscount Cecil, one of the greatest figures associated with the League of Nations, and since the death of M. Briand, probably the greatest figure associated with it, said -

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

The Labour party has supported the League of Nations because of that character which it believed it possessed. In spite of its tainted origin, its being maimed and sometimes deserted, its many failures, and its fatal capitalistic outlook, we have supported it. But if the League is to assume a very different character, and is to become an instrument to embroil us in the cauldron of European conflicts, to ask us to become a guarantor of British and foreign investments in foreign countries, and to become the buttress of imperialist ambitions, in which we, as a nation, have no interest, and, above all, when it sets our feet on the road to war, we call a halt and declare our dissociation from it.

I have no fanatical reverence for treaty obligations; not because I regard lightly the plighted word of my country’s representatives, or my own plighted word; but because I recognize that, as a matter of history, all treaty obligations are liable to yield to the pressure of national necessity, and, as a matter of law, all treaties yield to war.

Apart from the fact that war ends treaties, it is a settled principle of law that a vital change of circumstances justifies the denunciation of a treaty. If time permitted, I could cite numerous instances in which treaties have been de- nounced by Great Britain, as well as by other countries, merely because of a vital change of circumstances. One which occurs to my mind at the moment is the Newfoundland Fisheries Treaty of 1814, between the United States pf America and Great Britain. Great Britain claimed the right to denounce the treaty and the matter ended as such legal conflicts some- ( times do when one side takes one view and the other side takes another, according to the necessities of the case - a compromise was reached. When I say that I have no fanatical respect for international treaties, I am influenced, not so much by legal considerations, as by the fact that I am inexorably opposed to the notion that the dead hand and the dead brain of past generations should control the destinies of the living hand, and direct the living brain of another generation, reviewing the circumstances in which, they live in the light of existing facts, of which those who made the treaties could have no knowledge whatever. Therefore, I should say that if I were asked to-night to accept this bill with all that it means, and what it foreshadows, or denounce the treaty, I should, unhesitatingly, follow the latter course, but that, I submit, is not the alternative.

I now wish to turn to the AttorneyGeneral’s “ confusion worse confounded “. The honorable gentleman suggested, as I understood him, that we were under ari obligation to pass this bill, not, of course, a legal obligation, but presumably an obligation arising out of a treaty - at all events, to put it briefly, a moral obligation. I deny that we are under any obligation. It is not merely my denial; it is also the denial of those better qualified to speak. I challenge the Attorney-General to substantiate his claim before a competent tribunal, where the discussion would not be in the atmosphere in which he addresses himself to his applauding friends at the back, who, because of the impressiveness of the honorable gentleman’s manner and because of his admitted prestige, think that only the refinement of wisdom is permitted to fall from his lips. He rightly pointed out that the operation of economic sanctions is, by the express terms of the Covenant, automatic, while the application of military sanctions is a matter of recommendation and for further consideration; but that comes later. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) has not reached the stage for which he is waiting when he can draw his sword in this conflict.

Mr White:

– I should like to see the honorable member with a sword.


– If I were equipped with a sword, the Minister would be quite safe; I would respect small game.

Public opinion, which makes eventually international conventions that are not defined in a more exact way, has been moving steadily away from the exact wording of the Covenant which brings economic sanctions into immediate operation. The Covenant was a war covenant and not a peace covenant, and the League of Nations, to do it justice, has been attempting to move in the direction of peace, rather than war. The ink was scarcely dry on the Covenant when the First Assembly of the League appointed a committee to determine under what conditions and at what moment sanctions should be brought into operation and whose duty it was to apply them. The Attorney-General himself pointed out that public men came to the conclusion that the cause of peace could best be served by less drastic sanctions. The next meeting of the League, held in 1921, agreed upon certain amendments of the Covenant. These amendments modified the Covenant materially, and although they have never been ratified, they were adopted by Great Britain and Australia. Then followed certain resolutions and declarations, which have been accepted as part of the rules of conduct governing the League, and, indeed, they are expressed in this bill. These further resolutions were no part of the Covenant or of the proposed amendments of the Covenant, but were a pious attempt to develop a peace objective instead of a war objective and to protect the rights of individual nations. Some of these were masterpieces of ambiguity and absurdity. Based on one of these resolutions, a technical committee was formed which draws up these proposals which we are invited, yea, commanded to put into operation. This is a committee of whose personnel we have no knowledge. It is a committee foreign to the Covenant and foreign to the proposed amendments of the Covenant. Unlike the Council of the League the decision of which must be unanimous, the , committee may, and does, act by a mere majority. It is neither the creature of the League or of the Council, as the Attorney-General admits, nor is it representative of anybody; yet it, in effect, controls the Powers and directs the policy which this Government feels bound to put into operation in Australia binding the Australian people in one of the most vital crises which we have ever faced. I am not quarreling with the gentlemen who compose this committee. I have no doubt that they are conscientiously doing what they were asked to do, and I venture to say that they do not assume, or presume to have, the powers which this Government, in it3 betrayal of Australian rights, suggests they possess.

What I set out to prove is that even from the point of view of strict treaty responsibilities, Australia is not under any obligation to implement these sanctions. The Covenant is the only instrument which has been formally adopted by the League as a whole. But this Government is not attempting to put the Covenant into operation. It is asking us to use machinery entirely different, and I repeat that this House is not bound to do this, because the positive enactment has been declared unpalatable and unworkable. Attempts to amend it are inchoate, and, in fact, unaccepted, Yet this Government uses the former as the basis for its coercive legislation. The proposed amendments of the Covenant are fluid and unsettled. They have never hitherto been applied even once so as to give them the character of an accepted convention, a fortiori, the rules of conduct and the expert committee are outside the Covenant, and the proposed amendments are merely an unauthorized procedural experiment carrying no treaty obligations whatever.

The outstanding fact is. that article 16 has not been amended. For it to have any operation at all it should operate according to its own terms. One of the obligations imposed by it on member States is immediately to subject the State member in default to the prohibition ofintercourse with the “nationals” of other member States. But “ nationals “ means the lawful subjects or citizens of the States concerned. Therefore, article 16 is impossible of application. It requires Australia, for instance, to prohibit all intercourse between British subjects in Australia and Italian subjects in Australia; between British subjects in Australia and Italian subjects in Great Britain, the United States of America, Germany, China, or anywhere else. Such an obligation is absurd and impossible, as examination will show. It was mainly for this reason that the Second Assembly of 1921 proposed the amendments mentioned by the Attorney-General when moving the second reading and made an annex to his speech.

The Attorney-General wishes to have it both ways. He wishes to have the Covenant intact when it suits his argument, and when it does not then the resolutions and amendments, which have not been ratified, as I have explained, are merely pious opinions. In this connexion I direct the attention of honorable members to the official report of the Fifth Assembly of the League of Nations which states -

It should be noted that when article 16 was framed, it was contemplated that all the nations would be members of the League. This state of things has not yet arisen, and it is consequently obvious that to carry out article 10 in its full effect will be difficult until such time as all nations arc members.

We have not reached that happy stage, in fact important nations are slipping away from the League.

For these and other reasons the original proposals were followed by a proposal from Great Britain itself in 1923 to amend the article without the inclusion of the word “immediately.” This will he seen by reference to the minutes of the First Committee of the Fifth Assembly, page 120. I ask honorable members to note also these words, which appear in the protocol of Geneva, giving effect to British policy -

Those obligations shall be interpreted as obliging each of the signatory States to cooperate loyally and effectively in support of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and in resistance to any act of aggression, in a degree which its geographical position and its particular situation as regards armament, allow. “ Geographical position “ is most important for us. Moreover, I would remind honorable mem’bers that article 16 is a collective obligation. There is nothing upon which Ministers in Great Britain and honorable members in this House have been more emphatic than that the article imposes on member States a collective obligation. As Austria, Albania and Hungary, for very good reasons - being neighbouring States - have not, and will not, agree to impose sanctions on Italy, and as other important nations have left the League, it must be obvious that article 16 lias lost its collective character, and that individual nations must use their own judgment in deciding whether or not to impose the sanctions.

One delightful phrase in the speech of the Attorney-General may be taken as supplementing my argument about the collective responsibility of article 16. He tells us that if other countries decline to honour their obligations, Australia may drop out. The bill also contains a provision to enable Australia to “get out.” It is enacted that the act may, at any time, be repealed by proclamation in much the same manner as regulations under the War Precautions Act were operated. Why has this provision been inserted? Because, so the Minister says, “important and’ essential” States may “ pull out.” Thus we are told that, if other States pull out, we are entitled to do likewise. But which are the important and essential States? Is Australia important or essential, and what constitutes importance? Has a small neighbouring State which might be immediately crushed a good excuse for pulling out? In any case, at what stage shall we be regarded as patriots, and at what stage shall we be regarded as deserters, if we do pull out?

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Is this a jest?


– No; it is a question which I should like the Minister for Defence to answer. If other nations pull out, may Ave do so without being branded as deserters of the cause of peace, and at what stage? The AttorneyGeneral concluded his speech on the second reading with a ‘touching peroration. Notwithstanding what the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said to-day, and notwithstanding the Quotations which he made from the speeches of British Minis ters, from the new Chief Justice of the Commonwealth (Sir John Latham) and other acknowledged authorities on international law, to whom in the past Ministers have been accustomed to give respect, they ask us to pass this bill, and say in effect to Italy, “Because of our traditional friendship, we do not wish to go to war with you. True it is that we shall deprive Italian women and children, if need be, of the necessaries of life, and embarrass and make harder the lot of your soldiers in the field; but we shall do it in a friendly way, and for the sole purpose of disciplining you as a parent would discipline a naughty child, in the hope that you will correct your manners, and do as you are bid.” The Minister for Defence is in jesting mood. Should I remind him that, “ he jests at scars that never felt a wound “ ? This Government would have us say to Italy : “ Come at it Italy ! We are going to apply these sanctions to discipline you.” But if Mussolini should snap his fingers, and say : “ That for your sanctions ! Bring out my guns!” would the Minister for Defence then say : “ Pardon me, I am not a belligerent “ ? The consequence to Australia which might follow from the action of this Government is certainly not a joke. The Government is trifling with war, and all the big issues involved in armed conflict. If this bill, with all its punitive provisions designed to hamper the national policy of Italy, is supposed to be the peace policy of the Government, its supporters, being pacifists, should cross to their spiritual home on this side, and help us to defeat the measure. If, on the other hand, it does not represent the peace policy of the Government, but is its war policy, then I enjoin them to follow the greatest political war-maker that we have ever had in this country - the right honorable member for North Sydney.

I have some respect for the courage of the militarist, if he is sincere, honest and logical, and I have greater respect for the conscientious protester who knows what he wants and is prepared to suffer for his principles; but for this kind of mongrel hermaphrodite business which the Government is implementing and which, it says, is neither peace nor war, I have no respect whatever.

Darling Dows

– The debate which took place in this House on the motion for the printing of the Ministerial statement on the Italo-Abyssinian dispute and the passing of the motion confirmed and supported the policy of the Government in standing by the Covenant of the League of Nations and also confirmed the acceptance of the obligations imposed on the Commonwealth by that Covenant. The action of this House also confirmed the policy of the Government in doing all that is possible within the terms of the Covenant to secure peace without recourse to war. We have now reached the further stage thatby the action of the committee, which reported to the council of the League of Nations on the 7th of October, and by the adoption of its report by the Council, the Council in the terms of the Covenant definitely affirmed that Italy, in disregard of the articles 12, 1.3 or 15 of the Covenant had resorted to war in disregard of the obligations of the Covenant. That report has been, in effect, affirmed by some 50 nations, and the position to-day is that Italy stands condemned before the world by the League of Nations, the only constituted body qualified to express international opinion on the action which Italy has taken.

It has been claimed bv a great many persons that the sanction of public opinion is quite enough to prevent resort to war, but we know by experience that, although it may have a deterrent effect in certain cases, neither in this case nor in the case of Japan, has public opinion, as expressed in the conscience of the world, prevented either country from carrying out war-like operations. The League Council has declared that there has been a disregard of the Covenant, and Australia’s representative at the Council has voted in line with the other member countries and now by the action of the Government and of this Parliament Australia also declares that a breach has taken place.

It is true, as set out in resolutions, adopted on the 4th October by the League Assembly, that it is . the duty of each member of the League to decide for itself whether a breach of the Covenant has taken place, but fulfilment of their duties under article 16 is required from members of the League by the express terms of the

Covenant. If a country neglects to fulfil that requirement, it is, according to resolution 4 of the Assembly of 1921, guilty of a breach of its treaty obligations. This resolution reads -

It is the duty of each member ofthe League to decide for itself whether a breach of the Covenant has been committed. The fulfilment of their duties under article l6 is required from members of the League by the express terms of the Covenant, and they cannot neglect them without breach of their treaty obligations.

Australia is, therefore, called upon to come to a definite decision, but it can make no other decision than one in conformity with the report of the Committee of the Council. It has to fulfil the conditions of the Covenant and, having done that, has to determine what in the circumstances are its exact obligations under the Covenant. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has attempted to establish that through amendments and resolutions, article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations is not a binding force and is not worthy of respect. That is not the opinion of international lawyers, and I agree thoroughly with the opinions expressed by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies). Wheaton’s International Law, which is edited by the eminent jurist, Sir Berriedale Keith, clearly sets out on page 599 the obligations imposed by article 16 as follow: -

Article16 provides sanctions for enforcement of the principles laid down in articles 1.2, 13 and 15. If any member goes to war, in any case, where that is not permitted under these articles, it is deemed, ipso facto, to have committed an act of war against all other members of the League. The members of the League are then bound (1) to subject the offender to the severance of all trade, or financial relations; (2) to prohibit all intercourse between their nationals and those of the offender;’ and (3) to prevent all financial, commercial or personal intercourse between nationals of the offender, and nationals of any other State, whether a member of thu League or not.

Wheaton’s International Law is regarded as one of the highest authorities on international law, and the opinion is definitely in confirmation of that expressed by the Attorney-General and other eminent, authorities that, having approved of the resolution of the Council, Australia, ipso facto, is bound by the obligations enumerated in the foreging quotation. Two eminent international jurists in the United States of America also have expressed themselves in somewhat similar terms. Clark’s Boycotts and Peace contains further confirmatory opinions expressed in collaboration by John B. Whitton, Associate Professor of International Law, Princetown University, and Miroslas Gonsiorowski, Professor at the Institute of Advanced International Studies, in an article The Legal and Political Aspects of Boycotts. It reads -

Military Sanctions Optional.

These sanctions, however, may prove insufficient in a given case, and military assistance to the attacked country may become necessary in order to re-establish peace. But it must be emphasized that the only sanctions which are compulsory are the economic and financial sanctions provided for in the first paragraph of article 16. The members are merely under a moral obligation to employ military sanctions. According to article 16, paragraph 2, it is the duty of the Council to recommend to the several governments concerned what effective military, naval, or air force the members of the League shall severally contribute to the armed forces to be used to protect the Covenants of the League. A recommendation of the Council to this effect requires a unanimous vote.

They express the opinion that economic and financial sanctions are compulsory. That is the position we have to face. Military sanctions, they say, are optional.

The position was stated clearly when the Locarno Agreements were under consideration in 1925, and Germany definitely asked for an opinion as to how the nations construed article 16. The answer given by the representatives of several countries who conferred is quoted by authorities as one of considerable importance in interpreting article 16. The following is the text of the answer given, and the names of those who initialed it:-

The- German delegation has requested certain explanations in regard to article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. We are not in a position to speak in the name of the League, but in view of the discussions which have already taken place in the Assembly, and in the Commissions of the League of Nations, and, after the explanations which have been exchanged between ourselves, we do not hesitate to inform you of the interpretation which, insofar as we are concerned, we place upon article 16. In accordance with the interpretations the obligations resulting from the said article on the members of the League must be understood to mean that each State member is bound to cooperate loyally and effectively in support of the Covenant and in resistance to any act of aggression to an extent which is compatible with its military situation and takes its geographical position into account.

This was initialed by -

Emile Vanderveldt, ‘ Belgium.

Ari Briant, France,

Austin Chamberlain, Great Britain.

Benito Mussolini, Italy.

Al Skrzynski, Poland.

Edward Benis, Czechoslovakia.

Mr Curtin:

– That is the point. We arc bound only after giving full consideration to our own special geographical position.


– Yes, but we are not entitled to turn around and say that because we are not geographically situated in a certain area, we will not recognize any obligation. There are moral obligations on nations. The position is perfectly clear. As far as economic sanctions are concerned, authorities say that the members of the League are absolutely bound and that all States must be treated alike, except where deviation is allowed.

Mr Curtin:

– What does the honorable gentleman mean by “ deviation “ ?


– I refer the honorable member to resolutions 9 and 10 adopted by the Assembly ofthe League in October, 1925.

  1. All States must be treated alike as regards the application of the measures of economic pressure, with the following reservations : -

    1. It may be necessary to recommend the execution of special measures by certain States.
    2. If it is thought desirable to postpone, wholly or partially in the case of certain States, the effective application of the economic sanctions laid down in article 16, such postponement shall not be permitted except insofar as it is desirable for the success of the common plan of action, or reduces to a minimumthe losses and embarrassments which may be entailed in the case of certain members of the League by the application of the sanctions.
  2. It is not possible to decide beforehand, and in detail, the various measures of an economic, commercial and financial nature to be taken in each case where economic pressure is to be applied.

That meansthat if it is thought desirable to postpone sanctions, wholly or partially, in the case of certain ‘States such postponement shall not be permitted except insofar as it may be desirable for the success of any plan of action. That is a commonsense outlook. The 50 nations which are going to enforce these sanctions are situated all over the globe. They have different relations with Italy, and though it may be desirable to have common action, yet some latitude should be allowed to reduce the embarrassments which might he encountered by some States in taking steps against a Covenant breaker. The whole thing is therefore adaptable, but certainly there is no excuse for nonfulfilment of Covenant obligations, lt is an obligation each member State has to fulfil. That is clearly laid down. By introducing this bill and by endeavouring to pass it, the Government is therefore acting in conformity with its sense of honour and the binding obligations of the Covenant, and in harmony ‘ with members of the League.

Mr Curtin:

– The Government is not acting in harmony with Japan or the United States of America.


– We are dealing not with Japan or with the United States of America, but with Australia, which is bound by the Covenant. Australia has to define its position. There can be no quibbling. It must state unequivocally its position in the matter. The conscience of the civilized world demands- that members of the League, including Australia, should act as it is doing. If it honours its obligations this country will be regarded as a civilized nation worthy of ranking as a member of the League of Nations. But should it shrink from its duty and fail to fulfil its obligations, it will deserve condemnation. That, however, is not the attitude which this House has adopted. By a resolution already passed it has shown to the rest of the world that it feel3 itself in honour bound by the Covenant of the League of Nations, and intends to do its duty in that regard. That is the reason for the introduction of this measure. The nature of the reception accorded to it has been governed by the particular point of view of the individual concerned.

The honorable member for Batman is admittedly a pacifist. I use that term in the most favorable sense, assuming him to be an idealist with his mind fixed on spiritual objects and uplifted by all that is beautiful and sweet. He desires to be on the most friendly terms with the rest of the world. He does not believe in war at all, and, therefore, is naturally opposed to the imposition of sanctions. I do not know whether his convictions would lead him so far as’ to say that he would not take arms in defence of his country. I believe that he would do so, on the principle that a man’s highest duty is to lay down hi3 life for his fellow men. I bake it that that, also, is the attitude of other honorable members opposite; they do not believe in war except for the defence of their country. The Leader of the Opposition has expressed his view in the following terms : -

Australia’s contribution to the progress of civilization should be a re-affirmation of its refusal to regard war in any event as a remedy for international disputes.

The object of the League of Nations is to bind the nations of the world together, to achieve international peace and security, and to encourage them to renounce and not to resort to war. The very preamble to the Covenant of the League sets out that the signatories to it undertake obligations not to resort to war. It provides for the acceptance of the settlement of disputes without resort to war. Every member of the League has agreed that it will submit the settlement of disputes likely to lead to rupture to arbitration or judicial settlement or to inquiry by the Council. The Leader of the Opposition went on to say -

By declaring its wish that peace shall be established, and by refusing to be embroiled in warlike activities, this country will not only set an example to the world, but also give signal service in the .preservation of its own security.

Suppose Abyssinia, as soon as it saw that Italy was assuming a threatening attitude, had passed a resolution declaring that it wished*for peace, in the belief that thereby it would render signal service to the preservation of its own security, what security would that have afforded ?


– It would have afforded as much protection as the League has given up to date.


– The honorable member is hardly just. Abyssinia appealed to the League, and to-day 50 nations are standing by the

League in its efforts to bring the dispute to an end. If the honorable member’s will prevails, Australia will not be one of those nations, because he wishes it to refrain from participation in the enforcement of sanctions. By what methods do honorable members opposite propose that the problem shall be solved ? The Covenant of the League of Nations provides for an examination of the pros and cons, a judicial determination, and, in accordance with proper principles, the imposition of sanctions for the enforcement of peace.

Mr Curtin:

– Should sanctions fail, what does it provide?


– Let me deal with one point at a time. Honorable members opposite admit that Italy is doing wrong. What is their remedy? ls it, to tell Ethiopia, “We desire peace; therefore, we are going to pull out and take no further action to bring pressure to bear upon Italy to prevent this attack”. They then say, “Look what a failure the League has been. It did not do this in respect of Gran Chaco ; it did not do that in respect of Manchukuo ; what is it going to do to help Abyssinia? “ The fifty nations to which I have referred are taking steps to assist in preventing the continuance of this war. No one can doubt it, after the definite decision in regard to sanctions. But if honorable members opposite had their way and every nation acted as they are suggesting, the result would be the most tragic failure iu the whole history of civilization. These gentlemen say that they are against imperialist wars. They argue that Italy is an imperialist nation and that Abyssinia is a poor defenceless nation, yet when asked for a constructive proposal to prevent an imperialist nation from overrunning a poor defenceless nation they say, “ We desire peace, and that is the best that we can do for our own security”. There is hardly a political party in the world which has refused to recognize that it has some obligation to formulate an international policy. The Labour party in Great Britain has propounded a very definite policy. I commend the integrity and earnestness of the late Mr. Arthur Hen derson, with whom I had the pleasure of working at Geneva in an endeavour to achieve peace and establish means by which the nations might be more fully relieved from the horrors of war. His attitude was never that the Labour party had no constructive policy. The day has gone when the Australian people could adopt a policy of isolation. More and more, international relations are interlinking us with the rest of the world. Whether we like it or not, Australia is one of the brotherhood of nations. What can we do to place that brotherhood in the position that justice may be done throughout the world? We must have a proper System of international order administered by proper tribunals. That was the ideal which the League set out to attain. I think it was Genera] Smuts who said that if the League became an effective working machine it might compensate for some of the sacrifices that the soldiers had made, because it would bring about such a marvellous change in the whole of the civilized world. The question which faces “us to-day is : Are we going to stand by this scheme and make it effective? Fortunately, there are fifty nations which are making the attempt.


– If sanctions fail, will the honorable member support the use of military force?


– It is said that sanctions cannot be effective. On this point I quote again from Wheaton’s International Law -

It is impossible to disregard this important pronouncement and provision of an effective sanction; in 1921 the threat of bringing it into operation undoubtedly secured the settlement of the issue of the Albanian frontier when it was menaced by Jugo-Slav forces, and saved Bulgaria in October, 1925, from a Greek invasion.

Those are two classic cases in which the suggestion of the application of San:tions by the League effected a peaceful settlement. But quite apart from those, throughout the years since the termination of the last war, the knowledge that sanctions could be applied by the League has probably had a restraining effect upon the nations of the world generally. Australia as a nation has to observe its responsibilities in this matter. Therefore, the Government was bound to introduce the measure with which we are now dealing. It is suggested that the bill ought not to be passed, because sanctions are ineffective and inevitably lead to war. The question that now confronts the League is whether, by the enforcement of these particular sanctions, effective results can be obtained. The answer lies with the future. In a previous case the method now proposed was not given a trial. ‘ In this instance, however, the Commonwealth is cooperating with other nations, and it remains to be seen whether sanctions can be made effective. The Government is acting most wisely, and in accordance with the policy of the League. The League is not going to extremes, but is imposing sanctions at different times and of a different nature, with a view to obtaining effective results gradually. How do we know what the effect may be upon Italy ? It is quite possible that when the Italian citizens realize the position they will begin to give serious thought to the question whether their country was justified in the action that it took. The point that I make is, that until sanctions haVe been applied it cannot be said that this remedy is ineffective. The mere fact that fifty nations have determined to enforce sanctions shows that they intend to give effect to the terms of the Covenant of the League. We know what action has been taken by the United States of America; and, so far, Japan and Germany have not definitely taken any action. Surely, when such strong forces are trying to bring peace to the two nations involved in the dispute, no obstacle should be placed . in the way of the attainment of that desirable objective. If we adopted the view of honorable members opposite by refusing to enforce sanctions and stating that our attitude is one of non-participation or neutrality, what would be the position? If those honorable members calmly stood by, and the other nations acted similarly, they might find, when the day of settlement arrived, that a small country was practically swallowed up by what they call an imperialist power; but in that event they would have no ground for protest, for they would have contributed to it by their inaction. The Opposition seems to be opposed to the taking of any action whatever to stop the war, even though the sovereign independence of a member of the League is being assailed and its territorial integrity threatened.

The Leader of the Opposition, in referring to the Pact of Paris, said -

Primarily and basically I cannot see how Australia can maintain its loyalty to the Covenant of the League of Nations, for it commits it to obligations that were subsequently negatived by tho strict provisions oi the Pact of Paris.

In other words, he appeared to consider that we cannot loyally abide by our undertakings under the Pact of Paris if we now support the League of Nations. I suggest that the honorable member need have no difficulties in that regard, for the point has been definitely settled. I direct attention to citations from an official publication of the United States of America - The General Pact for the Renunciation of War: Text of the Pact, as Signed: Notes and Other Papers. The point raised by the honorable member was specifically referred to in correspondence which passed between the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Sir Austen Chamberlain) and the American Ambassador (Mr. Houghton). Paragraphs 8 and 9 of a letter written by Sir Austen Chamberlain to the American Ambassador on the 19th May, 1928, read as follows: -

  1. The preservation of peace has been the chief concern of His Majesty’s Government, and the prime object of all their endeavours, lt is the reason why they have given ungrudging support to the League of Nations and why they have undertaken the burden of the guarantee embodied in the Locarno treaty. The sole object of all these engagements is the elimination of war aa an instrument of national policy, just as it is the purpose of the peace pact now proposed. It is because the object of both is the same that there is no real antagonism between the treaty engagements which His Majesty’s Government have already accepted and the pact which is now proposed. The machinery of the covenant a.nd of the treaty of Locarno, however, go somewhat further tha,n a renunciation of war as a policy, in that they provide certain sanctions for a breach of their obligations. A clash might thus conceivably arise between the existing treaties and the proposed pact unless it is understood that the obligations of the new engagement will cease to operate in respect of a party which breaks its pledges and adopts hostile measures against one of its COColltractants.
  2. For the Government of this country respect for the obligations arising out of the

Covenant of the League of Nations and out of the Locarno treaties is fundamental. Our position in this regard is identical with that of the German Government as indicated in their note of the 27th April. His Majesty’s Government could not agree to any new treaty which would weaken or undermine these engagements on which the peace of Europe rests. Indeed, public interests in this country in the scrupulous fulfilment of these engagements is so great that His Majesty’s Government would for their part prefer to see some such provision as article 14 of the French draft embodied in the text of the treaty.

Mr Curtin:

– That means that to honour the Pact of Paris we suspend the Covenant.


– That is not so, as the honorable member would see, if he would carefully examine the text of the letter. The reply of the Government of the United States of America to this letter sets out, among other things, that-

The Covenant imposes no affirmative primary obligation to go to war. The obligation, if any, is secondary and attaches only when deliberately accepted by a State. Article 10 of the Covenant has, for example, been interpreted by a resolution submitted to the Fourth Assembly, but not formally adopted owing to one adverse vote to mean that “ it is for the constitutional authorities of each member to decide, in reference to the obligations of preserving the independence and the integrity of the territory of -members, in what degree the member is bound to assure the execution of this obligation by employment of its military forces.” There is, in my opinion, no necessary inconsistency between the Covenant and the idea of an unqualified renunciation of war. The Covenant can, it is true, be construed as authorizing war in certain circumstances, but it is an authorization and not a positive requirement.

It also stated in the letter that the revised preamble gave express recognition to the principle that if a State resorted to war in violation of the treaty, the other contracting parties were released, from their obligations under the treaty to that State. In acknowledgment of that letter, and in accepting the proposed draft, treaty, Sir Austen Chamberlain, writing from London in July, 1928, stated -

You will remember that in my previous communication of the 19th May. I explained how important it was to my Government that the principle should be recognized that if one of the parties to this .proposed treaty resorted to war in violation of ite terms, the other parties should bo released automatically from their obligations towards that party under the treaty.

Mr Curtin:

– That surely implies the suspension of the Kellogg Pact.


– I think not. There is no inconsistency between the Covenant and the Pact. The two undertakings must be read together.

Mr Curtin:

– If the honorable member would read the terms of the Kellogg Pact, he would realize that Australia may not go to war for any reason whatever.


– That is not my understanding of the position. The letter to which I have just referred continues as follows: -

I also pointed out that respect for the obligations arising out of the Covenant of the League of Nations and of the Locarno treaties was the foundation of the policy of the government of this country, and that they could not agree to any new treaty which would weaken or undermine these engagements.

The letter also stated that His Majesty’s Government did not consider that the fulfilment of the obligations which they had undertaken in the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Treaty of Locarno was precluded by their acceptance of the proposed treaty. To my mind that makes the position perfectly clear. If any nation which has agreed not to resort to war violates its undertaking, then by the provisions of the Kellogg Pact it automatically is denied the benefits furnished by the treaty.

The world is facing a most critical situation. The evils which arose out of the last war so outraged the public conscience that a general agreement was reached by the nations of the world that they should not be repeated if human ingenuity could prevent it. Accordingly an international body having the support of the nations was set up to mitigate such horrors in the future, and to do everything possible to preserve peace. The League of Nations is, thus, an expression of the highest ideals which the world has yet seen in connexion with the preservation of peace. During the last fifteen years, as the right honorable member for North Sydney pointed out this afternoon, the League has accomplished a great deal to give effect to the ideals underlying it. I ask honorable members opposite to consider the possible result of the attitude they are adopting in connexion with this bill.

Whereas we should be doing everything possible to make the League of Nations a more effective instrument for the preservation of peace, certain nations withdraw from the League, with tha ultimate result that it disappears, what contribution will have been made to the achievement of world peace? The League of Nations is the most valuable institution that has yet been evolved in the progress of civilization. It is true that it has numerous defects, and that it has not yet been able to realize its ideals; but I remind the House that the Covenant was deliberately framed in general and elastic terms, so that it could be adapted from time to time to meet changing conditions as experience proved necessary, and the relations of the different nations of the world improved. I sincerely hope that thi3 very fact will not be used as au argument for failure to support the League at this critical juncture. The exigencies of the present situation are such that wholehearted support of the League is essential.

I have heard it said at times by some honorable members opposite that it would be a good thing if the nations of the world could he formed into an organization something like the British Empire; but I ask whether the adoption of a policy of non-participation and neutrality in connexion with the Italo- Abyssinian dispute can possibly do anything to achieve that ideal? I also ask what would be the attitude of honorable gentlemen opposite if South Africa or Canada or one of the other British dominions were involved in an international dispute? Would they say that the best contribution Australia could make to a settlement of the dispute would be the passing of resolutions setting forth the desirability of peace? Would that secure the development of the spirit of brotherhood within the Empire? Surely not! The spirit of the British Empire has always been one of brotherhood and concord. ‘The desire of the Government at present is to develop that spirit among the nations outside the Empire, and it proposes to use every effort to achieve peace through the instrumentality of the League of Nations. . I therefore trust that this

Sir Littleton Groom.

House will give its utmost support to the League, which represents the highest ideal humanity has yet achieved.


.- I propose to deal with this subject in a somewhat different way from that of honorable members opposite, who have had a great deal to say about the woes of little Abyssinia, and about our duty to stand behind a weak country which is being ravaged by a strong imperialistic country. The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) in moving the motion for the second reading of this bill, said that the historical aspect of the subject should be considered. He outlined what he called the procedural steps that had led to the introduction of the bill. I submit that it is necessary for us to go back still further, and consider negotiations between Great Britain and Italy in regard to Abyssinia in 1925, when Signor Mussolini and Sir Austen Chamberlain conferred on the subject. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) used a number of high-sounding phrases, in which the ideal of goodwill among all peoples was emphasized; but he must know very well that the failure of secret diplomacy between Great Britain and Italy has had a great deal to do with the outbreak of the present war. An agreement was made between Great Britain and Italy in 1925, as the outcome of the conversations to which I have referred, that the Italian Government would consent to an increase of British concessions in respect of Lake Tsana, and also to the construction of a road through Borana to the Sudan, in return for which the British Government would consent to the granting of concessions to the Italian Government in connexion with a trans-Abyssinian railway, and the recognition of Western Abyssinia, which the railway would traverse, as an Italian zone of economic influence.

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

– I think it was Eastern Abyssinia.


– The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is in error, I fancy; but, in any case, the two governments agreed that, if one government obtained the concessions which it was seeking it “ would not relax its wholehearted efforts to secure a corresponding satisfaction from the other government concerned.” When in 1925 the British Government pledged Abyssinia to Italy, where were those people who now cry out about poor little

Abyssinia, and say that we must rush to its aid to save it from destruction? Not a word was said then about rushing to the aid of Abyssinia. Thi3 purely economic project had a sinister political significance. It surely did not escape the knowledge of the Foreign Office that Abyssinia would be reluctant to consent to the construction of such a railway which would lead to military occupation, and some sort of political control. The 1925 agreement could only mean that Italy was to have a free hand in a large portion of Abyssinia. But at this stage the first obstacle presented itself. Without the consent of the French Government the 1925 agreement could not become operative, because of the treaty of 1906, under which Great Britain, France and Italy had constituted themselves self-appointed guardians of Abyssinia to the exclusion of all other powers, each of these three countries pledging itself to take no action in respect of Abyssinia without the consent of the others. In 1925, when Mussolini and Sir Austen Chamberlain signed the agreement for the division of Abyssinia, the Quai d’Orsay stepped in and refused its consent to the proposal. What was the result? The ensuing ten years of antiFrench policy on the part of Mussolini is largely explained by this refusal. From 1925 onwards Mussolini became the watch-dog of Groat Britain in Austria, because France refused to grant that concession. But by January, 1935, a new situation in European politics had arisen. Because of the German menace right at the door of France, and because the League of Nations had no power to stop the re-arming of Germany, France became alarmed, and suggested that an agreement with respect to Abyssinia should be made between Italy and Great Britain. Consequently an agreement was arrived at in Rome this year that France would not oppose Italy in the division of Abyssinia as agreed upon in the treaty in 1925. Such is the rotten history, the rotten diplomacy associated with this dispute. Yet honorable members opposite, with high-sounding phrases, declare that

Australia should be prepared to take part in a dispute which has emerged from such rottenness. On the 15th May, 1935, The Times, commenting on this agreement, sanctimoniously stated that Great Britain could not “ disturb the arrangement without jeopardizing those paramount interests of European appeasement which ‘the Pact of Rome was designed to secure.” The Foreign Office had, indeed, no reason to “ disturb “ an arrangement which, in eliminating the opposition of the Quai d’Orsay to the trans-Abyssinian railway, also made the way free for the TE;ana dam project so dear to its heart. However, after the Franco-Italian agreement had been signed Mussolini had only the further obstacle of the opposition of the Ethiopian Government to overcome. Against this obstacle he hurled himself with threatening yells, hoping by such tactics to cow ‘the Abyssinians into submission. He said : “ We will end negotiations with Abyssinia, and will take what we want by force “. But he repeated the fatal blunder of 1926. His threat of preparations for war on Turkey in connexion with the oil wells of Irak caused the Turkish Government to hand over the Mosul wells to Great Britain. Just when Mussolini proposed to cow the Abyssinians by the threat of force, a peace ballot was taken in England which disclosed a total of 11,000,000 votes in favour of peace and against aggression by Mussolini in Abyssinia. As the result of that ballot, the British Government became alarmed. An agreement had already been signed and ratified by the French Government in January of this year. Mention is often made of the nations forming the League; but the fact remains that, out of the 50 nations, only two are of any consequence - France and Great Britain. The other nations are either vassals of the major powers or have learned by experience that it is useless for a small nation to have a definite opinion. As a fighting force they are useless : they could not fight their way out of a paper bag. When the peace ballot was taken what happened to prevent the partitioning of Abyssinia? That coun-try appealed to the League of Nations and asked for protection. Great Britain was placed in a quandary; 11,000,000 people had voted for peace, but it had completed an agreement with Italy, and, as. we have heard from honorable members opposite, Britain never breaks its word. Abyssinia . expressed the wish that a, meeting between the British, Egyptian and Abyssinian governments be arranged. A meeting of those governments was. held in June of this year, as the result of which an agreement was concluded that Britain should have the right to construct the dam at Lake Tsana, and also a road to. the Sudan. As the outcome of that agreement, ‘Great Britain was placed in an. even greater quandary out of which it had. to. manoeuvre, itself.

We were told in this House that sanctions would be applied on the 31st October. That date has already passed, yet sanctions have not yet been applied. Now we are told that they are to be applied’ on the 18th November next. Let me review the manoeuvring and secret diplomacywhich took place in an effort to give Mussolini that which the British Government says it cannot give him today. Because of the peace ballot to which I have referred, a block was put in the way of Great Britain fulfilling its agreement with Italy.


– That ballot was held in connexion with- the enforcementof the Covenant, and11,000,000 people voted for the enforcement of the. Covenant.

M.r. GARDEN. - Have I said anything to the contrary? Just at that moment Great Britain wanted to get. out of its obligations under the Covenant. Mr. Anthony Eden went to. Rome where he met Mussoliniand agreed with him that, Italy was to have Ogaden and the right, to- construct a. railway from Eritrea to. Italian Somaliland., and that, in order to recompense Abyssinia that country was to be given, an outlet- to. the sea through British Somaliland. The only other thing, they could not- agree upon was to give Italy economic control- over the whole of Abyssinia. Passing through Paris on his return, from Rome,. Mr. Eden met- M- Laval, who concurred in the arrangement! It was agreed to. give Italy Ogaden, the desert country for. which it is . now- fighting,- and the railway, but it was not- to have economic rights, over Abyssinia.; and that was where the present struggle began. Can honorablemembers opposite say that this was a clean job? It can only be comparedwith a meeting of a burglars’ union to divide the spoils. Let us trace the development of the dispute from that stage. Great Britain proposed tohave a quick election, and -to appeal to- the people on this issue;, and inorder to show the significance of the 18th November, let me quote what Sir Samuel Hoare said. Speaking on the 8th July, he said -

Our- responsibility is collective and not individual.

On the11th July he reiterated that statement, saying -

When I say collective responsibility I mean collective responsibility.

He went on to say -

We have always well understood Italy’s desire for overseas expansion . . . We admit the need- for Italian expansion. Weadmit the justice of some of the criticisms that have been made against the Abyssinian Government.

He was evidently indicating, to the small nations that when things- were ripe for it there would be a change of British policy. The 18th November will be- four days . after the British elections. By that time there will be a change of policy, because, by then the difficulty created by the- peace ballot will, have been overcome.. The British Government will say : “ Whyshould the world go to war over this situation? We can deal with it around, the table.” No doubt the British Government would be enchanted if Abyssinia could be persuaded into yielding, to Mussolini without war. It would thereforehave carried out the 1925 pledge and would be in a- position to appear before the ‘British electors as the “angel of” peace”, thus killing, two. birds with theone stone. Negotiations between Britainand France have been proceeding in; secret all the time. Abyssinia is not a party to the negotiations; but after the electionsthat country, will know what has been going- on. behind the scenes. The.’ following newspaper extract- bearsout my contention : -

According, to. the Paris Soir, whichannounced this development; these proposals resulted from conversations between British andFrench experts in Paris, who have reached’ full agreement. The Soir says Great Britain’s early approval is. expected, after, which, theproposals will be transmitted to Rome, but the Paris correspondent of the Times points out that the- British expert was not acting as- a plenipotentiary, andthat,beyondindicating what would patently bcunacce p table to Great Britain, lie assumed no responsibility for the proposals. Therefore, it is still too early to predict the outcome, though it is reported that M. Laval is optimistic - it is said that he told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee last night that he was persuaded that a peaceful solution was in sight.

The peaceful solution referred to is the cutting up of Abyssinia when France and Britain will say to each other : “ This is mine; that is yours,” A recent issue of the Petit Journal contained details of a peace plan reported to have been drawn up by French and British experts who, it is believed, accepted the Italian distinction between Amharic and non-Amharic districts. They propose that the Emperor shall be given an Italian counsellor; that Ogaden shall be ceded to Italy and that the Tigre and Danakil frontiers shall be rectified. In return Abyssinia will be given a corridor to the sea, instead of a free port in foreign territory. Although it has been stated from London that these proposals are not within the realm of practicable politics it is hoped that they will be found a reasonable basis for a speedy settlement. Negotiations are proceeding, not between the League of Nations and Italy and Abyssinia, but between Britain and France, for the carving up of Abyssinia. Sir Samuel Hoare is said to have been emphatic that exchanges of opinion are likely to produce a settlement.

The policy of the Labour party is one of non-participation in the war between Italy and Abyssinia. It will call on the mothers and the youths of this country, and indeed, on every other citizen, to refuse to participate in the dispute. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) got his walkingticket from the Prime Minister because ho told the people the truth. When the Prime Minister returned from London he said., in reply to questions from this side of the House, that he had pledged this country and the Australian Government up to the hilt on behalf of peace, and had notified the British Government accordingly. That was the first step. The second step was taken when the Attorney-General said that Australia was pledged up to the hilt to Britain not only in the cause of peace, but also in support of any action which may be taken under article 16 of the

Covenant of the League of Nations. The third step was made clear by the right honorable member for North Sydney, but the Government, wishing to camouflage the true position, pilloried him for telling the truth. It does not want the public to know that once again the youth of Australia is likely to be turned into cannon fodder. Is it any wonder that the returned soldiers of Australia have set forth their views in the following terms : -

Let us face the facts - shall we fight? To-day in ‘Australia, as in the world, the prospects of another world war are being discussed, and in our National Parliament to-day our representatives are on the one hand committing us “ up to the hilt “, so it is reported, and on the other hand, asserting that Australia shall not take part in a European war. The first fact we shall face up to is that if the ex-service men of Australia say with united voice that Australia will not fight then Australia will not fight. That is so, but of that more anon. For the moment let us merely face the fact that the Australian war veteran of to-day is cynical. The patriotic appeals of twenty years ago will stir him not. He has seen the untruthfulness of the propaganda of the Great War. He now knows the uselessness of that victory - he knows that the rattling of sabres in martial Italy and re-armed Germany to-day, are the direct results of the peace of Versailles. English bishops arc to-day urging Britain to a holy war on behalf of peace - but the Great War discredited the church as au advocate of peace in the minds of most Australian ex-service men. They know that in Germany, in Austria, as in France, in Britain, in Australia, priests and parsons were saying “ God is with us “. And as the casualty lists were published “Well done, thou good and faithful- “. No, they didn’t say “ carrion “, but now, over the years, it sounded like it. No, the opinion of the church on war will not influence the mass of Australian Great War veterans.

Mr Lane:

– What is the name of the publication from which the honorable’ member is quoting?


– The extract that I have read is taken from the latest issue of Mufti, the official organ of the Victorian branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia. The article continues -

No one will leave Australia for another war without knowing from us that war is profitable only to those who stay at home, and not to all of them - that those who pay most dearly for war, are the young and vital who give their limbs and their intelligence, and their beauty- that flag-wagging costs nothing, and that the fat man who says, “Ah, would that I were ten years younger “, will be, more likely than not, a war profiteer before the war is over - that there is little if any glory in modern war - that there is more heroism’ in one season in the northern Mallee, than in many modern battles - that there is nothing sweet or fitting in dying ina modern war - that the screams of wounded men in No Man’s Land, even if they be enemies, are very painful to hear - that between battles, modern waits infinitely more monotonous and boresome than life in the least exciting suburban home - that every soldier going to war should carry a legal contract from the Government against, his return - should he return - and that if conscription be deemed necessary, then let us have conscription of wealth and industry as well as of cannon fodder.

Roumania is already asking the League of Nations for ?2,000,000 as compensation for the loss of trade due to the imposition of sanctions, hut no member of the Government has told Parliament anything about the claim, notwithstanding that the Prime Minister has admitted that Australia will be liable for its proportion of any amount payable.

Mr Ward:

– Australia also should make a claim for compensation.


– Roumania is makinga. claim for compensation which, under the Covenant of the League of Nations, it is entitled to receive from other members of the League that have not suffered the same loss of trade. The policy of the Labour party is clear, namely, that not one man, or ship, or gun, or shilling will it assist to send to this imperialist war. If Mussolini and others want to fight, let them have a fight; but the Labour party will use every power at its disposal to prevent the workers of Australia from being used as cannon fodder, as in the years 1914 to 1918. After the Great War this and every other Government forgot the returned soldiers, but now that preparations are in train for a new conflict, the Government has declared a policy of preference for returned soldiers. Also, it is preparing the ground so that young men may know the preference they may expect if they go to war. The Minister for Repatriation promised to introduce a bill to appropriate ?350,000 to relieve the plight of returned men who have contracted tuberculosis. For 17 years, members of this House have been fighting for this assistance.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon G J Bell:

Order! The honorable member’s remarks are not relevant to the bill.


– I desire only to point out that, during the last war, patriotic souls mounted public platforms and declared that they would do their utmost to assist returned soldiers ; but when these men came back maimed and blind, they were unable to obtain their just due. Although honorable members have been fighting on behalf of the interests of returned soldiers; Governments have refused-


– Order ! I again remind the honorable member that his remarks are irrelevant to the bill. Having already been called to order the honorable member should not repeat the offence.


– I shall now deal with the recent sensational disclosures made by Mr. Lloyd George regarding the sale of oil on a large scale to Italy by the Anglo-Iran Oil Company, of which the British Government is the largest shareholder. It ha9 provided the British electors with a most timely illustration of the “ profit motive “ at work in times of war. Mr. Lloyd George exposes this in the following words : -

Great Britain is supplying Italy through the Anglo-Iran (Anglo-Persian) Oil Company of which I think we are the largest shareholders with the oil used in the aeroplanes that are bombing women and children. Tanks and submarines are also being supplied. The Anglo-Iran Company says that if it docs not supply this oil, Americans will. The oil magnates are very powerful. When shall we have a Government that will stand up to people of that sort for righteousness?

Sir John Cadman, chairman of the Anglo Persian Oil Company, stated in an interview that the oil was being supplied completely in accordance with the sanctions, namely, cash on delivery. He added that a ban on the export of oil to Italy had not yet been imposed.

Honorable members realize that the “ clean hands and purity of heart “ sentiment voiced by the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron), on behalf of Great Britain, operates on a strictly cash basis ! Such people would sell their souls, their families and the nation itself so long as they could make profit out of the trans- notion. The meeting of the League Coordinating Committee, has, I have stated, decided that the 18th November, four days after the British elections, shall be the date of the commencement of the concerted application of the sanctions against Italy. This step is being taken at the very time that the principal protagonists in the international drama are loudly protesting that they are doing all within their power to discover a peace formula. Meanwhile the British Admiralty, as the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has disclosed, is further augmenting what is the greatest concentration of British naval power ever assembled in the Mediterranean. According to to-day’s press reports, additional destroyers have passed Gibraltar en route to Malta and to “ports east”. The Commonwealth Government has permitted the Sydney to be assigned to the Mediterranean fleet for an indefinite period, involving this country in a gesture that is more hostile than even the passing of the Sanctions Bill. We have a new warship which we desire to display, and we have wonderful men who are eager to obtain gunnery practice. Guns and ammunition are available, and we shall show the Italians that the Australians have boys ready to fight ! Is it any wonder, therefore, that Mr. J. L. Garvin, the editor of the Observer, asks how is it possible to suppose that Mussolini could give way to public pressure from Britain or from any foreign country? Mr. Garvin proceeds to point out that these efforts would only result in creating antagonism, instead of arriving at a solution of the present difficulty. I represent the workers of Australia, who have a policy for the preservation of peace, hut if they dare give effect to it, the Crimes Act will bo enforced against them. They will be arrested, fined or put in gaol, and the organizations to which they belong will lose their funds if they, as trade unionists, refuse to man, coal or load ships with cargoes consigned to one of the belligerents. If they lay down their tools and go on strike, they will be put in gaol. If the workers had their way, oil would not be sent to Italy, all exports to the belligerents would be stopped, the wheels of industry would cease to revolve for war purposes, and there would be no wartime profits. But they have no power. The Leader of the Opposition has declared Labor’s policy, which is that Australia should not engage in any way in this immoral struggle to further the interests of France, Great Britain and Italy.


.- In this bill, Australia is asked to undertake certain responsibilities as a result of its international obligations. It is interesting to recall that, in 1923, when Abyssinia applied to be admitted to membership of the League of Nations, Australia opposed the application on the ground that an inquiry should first be held into the capacity .of Abyssinia to effect the abolition of slave raiding; whereas Italy was the foremost sponsor of Abyssinia, which, with the support of the majority of the members of the League, was admitted. In 1928 Italy and Abyssinia arranged a treaty designed to guarantee the maintenance of absolute friendship and settlement of disputes between them by arbitration for twenty years. Many reasons may be advanced for the fact that Italy has now departed from this treaty. The world maintains to-day that, if Italy requires colonial expansion it must he brought about by methods of peace, rather than through resort to war. Italy in undertaking this uncertain conquest, must take one of the strongest natural fortresses known to the world which may prove impregnable to any army, however well equipped. Another potent force is disease in the lowlands, where the temperature rises to 130 degrees in the shade. Italy is also confronted with what may, after all, be a very important sanction, namely, that it is financing this war from a special emergency budget, notwithstanding the fact that it has the remarkable deficit of £27,000,000. Italy maintains that Great Britain is only endeavouring to thwart its attempt to acquire a small colonial empire, whereas in the past no opposition was offered to Great Britain when it was creating its colonial empire. Italy, in fact, says that Great Britain is now bringing forward certain new principles which were never applied before. That is not the question. The British reply is that it desires the preservation, confirmation and extension of that international law and order, which all men of good sense have been trying to achieve since the armistice of 1918. With the League of Nations in being, this question can be settled in only one of three ways - “ with Geneva, against Geneva, or without Geneva.” The Covenant of the League is one of the most important documents ever drafted by man, because it involves the peace of the_ world. It proclaims that the moral law must prevail, and guarantees to its members independence and integrity, and protection against aggression. If we condone this present breach of the Covenant, or fail to penalize the guilty party, the League must inevitably collapse. Great Britain does not now exercise that power in the world that it did in the nineteenth century, when it controlled the sea by its navy, when its mercantile marine was supreme on all waters of the globe, and when the nation enjoyed commercial predominance as a result of its policy of freetrade. Through having in the last few years pursued a policy of disarmament, Great Britain’s position is not so strategically strong as it was in the nineteenth century. Great Britain is confronted in Europe and overseas by powers with strong navies, and with the advent of aircraft it is brought closer to Europe, and is not so impregnable as it was in years gone by. If peace is to be maintanned, the League must be kept intact. The choice to-day is between supporting the League and opposing it. The Commonwealth Government’s policy of standing behind the League is the correct one. The sanctions which this Government proposes to enforce could have been imposed by regulations, as has been done in Great Britain; but the Government was well advised in asking the Parliament to approve of this bill. Whereas in New Zealand the Sanctions Bill was passed unanimously, a similar measure in this House is meeting with severe opposition from the Labour party, whose policy on this matter is indecisive. The party evidently wants the League of Nations just when it suits it; We cannot have it both ways. If we desire to be members of the League, we must play the game according to the rules. It is certainly in the interests of Australia to keep the League in existence. Members of the Labour party say that wc should defend Australia only if Australia is attacked, but they look askance at any attempt to build up an effective Australian defence force. We have a White Australia policy, and a protectionist policy for both primary and secondary industries. These things partake of the nature of sanctions, but of necessity arc supported by the Labour party. I feel sure that the Government’s policy on this question will meet with the full endorsement of the people of Australia.

The development of Abyssinia presents great possibilities, because of the fertility of its soil and the temperate nature of the climate in the interior. The country has great pastoral and agri-cultural possibilities and it has been estimated that 1,000,000 Italians settled in that area could, within ten years, produce all the wheat and meat required by Italy. This would make Italy selfsupporting, and enable it to discontinue its imports from foreign countries. The world would approve if Italy desired to enrich it with its culture, as it enriched Europe in the past, but if it wishes to expand it should do so by peaceful means, rather than by invoking the horrors of modern warfare.


.- Honorable members on the Government side have tried to show that sanctions will not lead to war, but that view is contradicted by many eminent authorities who have been quoted during the course of this debate. It is the general opinion of those who have studied the question, and who possess any claims to be heard, that sanctions must be backed up, if necessary, by physical force. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) is of this opinion, and because he had the courage to tell the people the truth in his recently published book, he has been dismissed from the Ministry. His opinion in regard to the effect of sanctions .is based upon his knowledge and experience of world affairs, enriched by his association with the representatives of- the nations at Geneva. Moreover, during the whole period of this present dispute, he has been a member of the Cabinet and, unlike private members of this House, has had access to all official cables and messages from overseas. In the light of the knowledge thus gained, he still believes that sanctions mean war, and he add3 that, unless the League is prepared to back sanctions even to the extent of going to war, they are no more than an empty gesture. It seems evident that the Government knows what the future hold3, but, for its own reasons, is withholding the truth from the people. Now the truth has been published abroad, not by the Labour party, but by a member of the Cabinet.

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

– In spite of that the right honorable member for North ‘Sydney is supporting the imposition of sanctions.


– That is so, but the point [ am making is that, while the Government, and most of its supporters deny that sanctions may mean war, the right honorable member for North Sydney has the courage to say directly what he believes to be the truth. I do not agree with the right honorable member in his support of sanctions, hut I agree with him when he says that sanctions mean war;

We have been told that, in order to enforce sanctions, it may be necessary to institute a blockade, which means the cutting off of necessary supplies. The effect of that is to starve women and children; blockades have had just that effect in the past. The blockade is the most cruel weapon in the armoury of nations, because it constitutes an attack upon women and children. A country which has any regard for its civil population will, if blockaded, certainly strike back at those who instituted the blockade. Therefore, those who resort to a blockade are courting trouble.

The League has agreed that its members may supply arms and munitions to Abyssinia. It is conceivable that an Australian ship, loaded with supplies for Abyssinia, may encounter an Italian warship on the high seas. What will be the position if that warship seizes the Australian ship as a prize because it is carrying contraband? If it does so, we shall immediately become involved in war. As a matter of fact, we are in the war now. The Australian warships Australia and Sydney are both in the Mediterranean, where a big naval battle may be fought in the near future. I hope that nothing of the kind will take place, but I cannot see any escape from it.

The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), who is supporting thu Government on this issue, says that hi-; will support the imposition of sanctions until they reach a point just short of war, and at that point he will stop. He is like a man who, with a group of companions, hunts a wild animal until it turns at bay, and then drops his gun and runs, leaving the others to face the consequences. If I favoured the imposition of sanctions, I would not adopt such an attitude ; having encouraged other nations to impose such sanctions, Australia, in the event of war resulting from that policy, should not drop its gun and run away as the honorable member for Barker advocates. Some honorable members claim that, in this matter, Australia will be operating collectively with other nations for the preservation of common security, but I submit that, from the point of view of defence, we act individually. One country arms itself and thus leads other nations to increase their armaments, with the result that the armament race prior to 1914! is being repeated to-day. Indeed, it has been going on since the failure in 1932 of the World Economic Conference which was followed by the various nations adopting a policy of economic nationalism erecting high tariff barriers and embarking on excessive defence measures.

If the League of Nations were sincere in its attempt to maintain the peace of the world, why did it not adopt the resolution submitted to it by the representatives of the Soviet Government for complete disarmament? I believe that complete disarmament is the only means to secure peace, but the nations as a whole will not adopt such a policy. When the League was formed it was anticipated that all the nations would join it, but the United States of America, despite the fact that President Woodrow Wilson was practically the creator of the League did not become a member. Germany and Japan are no longer members of the League. Thus we have three powerful nations outside the League.

Despite the imposition of sanctions under the authority of the League, we learn that Germany is exporting coal and iron to Italy, and that the AngloIran Oil Company is exporting petrol to Italy, and that Austria, which is still a member of the League of Nations, is exporting arms to Italy. In view of these facts, how can we expect the imposition of economic sanctions to prove effective? Every encouragement is given by financers and industrialists for certain nations to flout sanctions. I have for many years been convinced, and it has been proved over and over again, that in the present social order, war and the profits to be made out of war are of first importance, and human life and happiness ave only secondary considerations. In fact human beings are only gun fodder in all trade wars. At the behest of armament interests, governments are prepared to make war at any time suitable to those interests. Sometimes of course we, as members of Parliament may deceive ourselves with the belief that we govern this country, but the fact that parliamentary rep ‘.’esentatives do not actually govern their country is dramatically stated in a passage in George Bernard Shaw’s book Major Barbara, which should prove of interest to honorable members of this House who sincerely believe that, despite the power of capitalism, they constitute the main factor in the government of this country. In this book, Undershaft, the armament maker, says to the politician -

The government of your country T I am the government of your country, I and Lazareth Tlo you suppose that you and half a dozen amateurs like you sitting in a row in the foolish gabble shop govern Undershaft and Lazarus? No, my friend, you will do what pays us; you will make war when it suits us, and keep peace when it doesn’t. When I want to keep my dividends up you will discover that my want is a national need. When other people want something to keep my dividends down, you will call out the police and military, and in return you shall have the support of my newspapers and the delight of imagining that you are great statesmen.

This, I submit, is perfectly true to life, as many of us know from our own experience. “We have ‘ had instances in times of industrial trouble, of the Government of this country finding itself helpless when it has clashed with great mining magnates. When I entered this Parliament, I firmly believed that the National Government could do something to solve .an industrial trouble which was then in existence on the coal-fields. A Nationalist government which had done nothing to effect a settlement of that dispute was defeated and a Labour government took its place, but proved as helpless in the matter as the Government it had replaced. Thus an example from real life substantiates the passage in the book from which I have just quoted. The adoption by practically all nations of a policy of extreme economic nationalism, has in turn provoked an international armaments race in which “ Undershaft “ through his press, has created amongst the peoples the necessary psychology of fear. And just as a government calls out the police in order to keep down workers, who may be striking to secure a decent standard of living or to retain conditions awarded to them by an arbitration court, it is now proposed nominally in the interests of peace, to commit an act of aggression against Italy by imposing sanctions under this measure. In following such a course we must realize that we cannot expect Italy to refrain from attacking us. Furthermore, countries other than Italy may attack us. A country which may desire, irrespective of sanctions, to carry on trade with Italy, may do so ; Germany or the United States of America, for instance.

Article 16 of the Covenant requires an undertaking that we shall agree, not only to impose sanctions against an aggressor, but also to take steps to see that no other nation, whether it be a member . of the League or not, supplies prohibited goods to the aggressor, which, in this case is Italy. Although quite a lot has been said in this debate with regard to article 16, I claim that certain implications of this article, particularly those involved in paragraph 3, have been overlooked, if not wilfully disregarded, by members of the Government. Paragraph 2 of article lT> reads -

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

That section, which has been interpreted very clearly by the right honorable mem- ber for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), refers to the sanctions which it is now proposed to invoke, and states definitely that the military, naval or air forces of members of the League may be used to protect the Covenant. At Locarno in 1925 the representatives of Great Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Poland, in response to a request by Germany, which was not then a member of the League, stated -

Each State member of the League is bound to co-operate loyally and effectively in support of the Covenant, and in resistance to any act of aggression to an extent which is compatible with its military situation and takes its geographical position into account.

Sir John Latham, the Chief Justice of the High Court and ex-Attorney-General, in effect, said that a government imposing sanctions is actually declaring war against an aggressor, and must be prepared to exercise physical force. Surely the right honorable gentleman, as an exMinister for External Affairs, and representative of Australia at the Assembly of the League of Nations on three different occasions, knows more of this subject than the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), who contends that the imposition of sanctions is not tantamount to a declaration of war. I believe that Great Britain will place embargoes on the exports of only certain commodities ; but the imposition of sanctions by any government does not necessarily mead that manufacturers of arms or shipping companies will actually observe sanctions. Since the great war it was stated definitely before a committee of inquiry that armaments manufactured in Great Britain were exported to Turkey, which at the time was an enemy of Great Britain. When Mr. Ramsay McDonald, who, until recently, was Prime Minister of Great Britain, visited the Dardanelles he found that Turkish guns which had been used against British and Australian forces bore the names of British manufacturers. In the Sydney Sun and Guardian, of the 13th October, 1935, the following paragraphs appeared : -

Throughout the last war, English and French industries maintained to Germany a steady stream of glycerin (for explosives), nickel, copper, oil and rubber. Germany even returned the compliment: she sent France iron and steel and magnetos for gasoline engines. This constant traffic went on during the war in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Spain or Holland, by the simple process of transhipment - enemy to neutral to enemy. It is no bristling Communist who supplies corroboration, but as conservative and wellconsidered a gentleman as Rear-Admiral William Warcop Peter Consett, who was British Naval Attache in Denmark between 1912 and 1917, and in Norway and Sweden between 1912 and 19.19.

Another interesting point regarding the sanctions to be applied against Italy is contained in the same issue of this newspaper. It read3 -

On this subject the N.Y., the most reliable American paper, says: -

While officially condemning Italy’s Ethiopian campaign as an imperialist attempt to subdue a free people, the Soviet Union is furthering the Fascist aims and profiting from them by exporting supplies to the Italian camps in Africa.

For several months Greek freighters have been taking cargoes from Soviet Black sea ports to Massawa and Mogadishu. No report of the traffic has appeared in the Russian, Italian and Greek press.

The Soviet insists on cash payments before the Greek freighters begin loading. The war business with Italy is more profitable to the Soviet than the trade with other Mediterranean countries, which demand reciprocal export balances where no political alliance exists.

These quotations support my contention that governments are prepared to do anything at the instigation of the armaments ring, whose business it is to persuade nations to engage in armed conflict, thus increasing their profits. Recently we had evidence of the association of British and American capital in an effort to obtain a concession to exploit the oil resources of Abyssinia. Notwithstanding denials from Washington, and by the leading members of the British Cabinet, there can hardly be any doubt that international capital will eventually finance the concession which Mr. Rickett secured from the Abyssinian Government. This, in my opinion, and not peace, is the main reason for Britain’s interest in Abyssinia, otherwise it should have intervened in the disputes over Manchukuo and Gran Chaco where human lives were just as sacred as in Abyssinia. We must face the facts, and admit that the application of sanctions may involve

Australia in war, and that nations which to-day accept the recommendations of the Co-ordinating Committee may later adopt a different attitude in order to profit out of the war. The Vienna representative of the London Times reported recently -

It is officially denied that Austria placed an embargo on the export of arms to Italy and Abyssinia. It is pointed out that such action would be a contravention of Austria’s attitude at Geneva.

This shows that there is no collective action even by members of the League, apart from countries outside it. Shortly after the pending British election long wool may be added to the list of sanctions. An embargo on the export of that commodity to Italy may have disastrous results upon Australian finance, although it is true that countries which suffer financially from the imposition of sanctions may obtain some compensation from the League of Nations. Already Roumania has claimed £2,000,000 as compensation for the loss of trade resulting from the prohibition of the export of petrol to Italy.

In its short history, Australia has been involved in three overseas wars. Hitherto it has been sufficient for us to know that Great Britain was in trouble for Australia to rally to its support. In the Great War we raised an army of 300,000 men, 62,000 of whom made the supreme sacrifice, and the cost to date has been over £800,000,000. We are still shouldering the burden of that war. I am concerned with what may happen to Australians who participate in any future conflict. I say this because I have in mind the definite repudiation of some of the promises made by the Government of which the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was leader. The soldiers were told that they, or, if they lost their lives, their relatives would never be in want. In Major Barbara. Bernard Shaw has also presented armamentmakers in their true light.

A definite promise was given young Australians who took part in the last war, but those promises have not been honoured. Under tha Premiers’ plan politicians safeguarded interest on war bonds which has been paid at a slightly reduced rate, but there has been a large reduction of the purchasing power of the workers, and pensions and maternity allowances have been interfered with. A levy has even been mad© upon the properties of deceased pensioners in order to satisfy the bondholders’ interest.


– Order ! The subjects mentioned have no relation to the bill.


– This country is, I believe, in imminent danger of being involved in another war, and I shall doall that lies in my power to prevent any man from being sent overseas to take part in it. I shall point out what the Standing Orders prevent me from alluding to on this bill, namely, the treatment that has been meted out to the men who took part in the last war.


– -Order ! The honorable member is distinctly out of order. He has already had one ruling from the Chair, and he has said that the Standing Orders forbade him to make certain references. Notwithstanding that he immediately transgressed a second time. I ask him not to offend in that way again.


– -Many of the casualties in war are due to gas. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 16th October, 1933, told us that we may expect in the next war -

page 1336


Germany Secretly Producing

Latest Discovery. (From our Special Representative.)

London, 14th October

It can be stated on reliable authority that although Germany has no visible armament for offensive or defensive purposes her chemical factories are secretly producing a new poison gas with an arsenical basis, which no mask can withstand.

Official quarters in London are naturally silent, for what the secret service learns is never divulged. Those engaged in the Britishchemical industry, however, have their own sources of information, particularly from, colleagues employed under special licence in foreign factories. In these circles it is admitted that Germany has not only devised the new gas referred to, but is ahead of other nations in the manufacture of. lachrymatory gases. Those are said to be so potent that one part in five million parts of air would be effective.

The newspaper goes on to say that chemists have stated that so far as is known a new gas similar to that invented in Germany affects the whole human frame, not merely the lungs; it inflicts burns upon the body, which cannot he protected from it.

A report to the League of Nations in 1931 made the following comments regarding chlorine gas : -

The body of the victim seeks by continuous torturing, coughing accompanied “by difficulty in breathing to rid itself of the poisoned tissues in the lungs and respiratory organs. The destruction of the blood vessels in these organs leads to terrible agony of suffocation which may continue for hours, days or even weeks, and ends with the coughing of blood which means death.

In the next war the agonies of gas poisoning will be inflicted not only on those in the front line ; the modern warfare from the air will cause the decimation of soldiers and civilians alike. Women and children in areas far removed from the war zone will be attacked in the same manner as they are being attacked in Abyssinia to-day. The bill now before the House in conjunction with the Crimes Act amendments to which are now receiving attention in the Senate, will stifle all opposition to war. Clause 5 of this bill gives power of search to any officer appointed by the Attorney-General.


– The honorable member’s time has expired.

Motion (by Sir Charles Marr) put -

That the debate be now adjourned.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)

AYES: 29

NOES: 21

Majority . . . . 8



page 1337


Days of Sitting

Minister for Defence · WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT; UAP from 1931

– I move -

That the House do now adjourn.

I have been asked to state that the House will begin its sittings next week on Wednesday, because of Monday being Armistice Day. In the following week, the first day of sitting will be Tuesday, and in the week after that it will be Wednesday. It is intended to give the necessary notice to the railway authorities so that the day train will run from Sydney on the day on which the House first meets.

Mr Baker:

– When the House first meets on Tuesday, will it rise on Thursday ?


– When the House first meets on Tuesday it will rise on Thursday, and when it first meets on Wednesday it will rise onFriday.

Mr Lazzarini:

– Will the day train from Sydney be run next Wednesday?


– As a fortnight’s notice has to be given, the arrangement could not be made in respect of next week. There is, however, the further provision that a train may be made available if the department is assured that 35 members will avail themselves of it. I understand that the Whips are conferring in regard to that aspect of the matter.

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 10.54 p.m.

page 1338


The following answers to questions were circulated: -

Prince Alfred Graving Dock.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

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

Assuming that the honorable member’s questions refer to the shipbuilding yards and dock yard at Williamstown, Victoria, which were sold by the Commonwealth to the Melbourne Harbour Trust Commissioners in June, 1924, the replies are as follows: -




Yes, with the exception of plates, the greater quantity of which was transferred to the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board at Cockatoo Island Dockyard.

Canberra: Milk Supply

Mr Ward:

d asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the wholesale price of milk in Canberra is at present 2s. a gallon, and in Queanbeyan Is. a gallon?
  2. Are dairymen outside the Federal Capital Territory prevented by government regulation from selling milk in Canberra?
  3. What is the reason for such prohibition?
  4. Will the Government take steps to end monopoly control in the Federal Capital Territory, thereby bringing the price to a more reasonable figure?
Mr Paterson:

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

  1. This information is not available.
  2. Yes.
  3. Complete supervision of producing dairies is essential, and this is not possible outside the Federal Capital Territory.
  4. This is a matter of policy which will receive consideration.

Commonwealth Line of Steamers

Mr Rosevear:

r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. What stage has been reached in the negotiations between the Commonwealth Government and the purchasers of the Commonwealth Shipping Line for the payment of thebalance owing to the Government?
  2. What is the amount outstanding?
  3. When does the Government expect that the final payments will be made?
Mr Lyons:

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

  1. The White Star Company, to whom the ships- were sold, is in liquidation. Proof of debthas been lodged by the Commonwealth, and all possible steps arc being taken to safeguard Commonwealth interests.
  2. After allowing for purchase money of £500,000 from the re-sale of the ships, and £158,000 portion of insurance moneys on the Ferndale, the principal moneys outstanding amount to £662,000. In addition to this sum the Commonwealth has lodged a claim for interest from August, 1932.
  3. It is not possible at present to say when a dividend will be paid by the liquidator in respect of the Commonwealth claim.

Ratification of Trade Treaties

Mr Garden:

n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

When Parliament is asked to ratify trade treaties in the future, will the Government regard the necessary bills as vital measures, as was the case with the Ottawa agreement, or will the House deal with them on nonparty lines?

Mr Lyons:

– The question raised by the honorable member will be determined in respect of each bill as the circumstances are considered to warrant.

Unlawful Associations


ay asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -

Are there any associations in’ Australia which have been declared to be unlawful associations: if so, willhe inform the House of the names of such associations?

Mr Menzies:
Attorney-General · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · UAP

– By sub-section 1 of section 30a of the Crimes Act, bodies of persons which advocate or encourage the doing of various acts specified in that sub-section are declared to be unlawful associations. By section 30aa of the same act, the High Court is empowered, on application by the Attorney-General, to declare bodies of persons to be unlawful associations. No body of persons has yet been so declared by the High Court.

Canberra Hospital: Heating Arrangements : Treatment of Mental Cases.

Dr Maloney:

y asked the Minister for Health, upon, notice -

  1. Is the boiler at the Government Hospital, Canberra, of modern design or up to date?
  2. On what date was the boiler built and when was it installed at the hospital?
  3. What is the present cost of maintaining the hot-water service?
  4. What would be the additional cost of keeping a continuoussupply of hot water available ?
Mr Lyons:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. Built in 1912 and installed in 1931. Although built in 1912, the boiler is substantially the same as the latest types, and its efficiency has not deteriorated. It was in use at the’ Royal Military College, Duntroon, before being installed at the hospital.
  3. £1,600 per annum.
  4. £800 per annum.
Mr Ward:

d asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

In view of the danger to which other patients are exposed by a continuance of the practice of housing violent mental and alcoholic cases in general wards at the Canberra Hospital, will he see that immediate steps are taken to provide special accommodation for such cases?

Mr Lyons:

– Violent mental and alcoholic cases are not housed in general wards at the Canberra Hospital. The whole question of a new hospital or adequate additions to the present hospital is under consideration.

Hours of Labour

Mr Jennings:

s asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -

In view of the statement made by the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart), that he is recommending to the Government the adoption of a 40-hour week in Australia, and the fact that such an alteration cannot be effected by federal legislation under bur present systems of Federal and State industrial arbitration, will the Attorney-General have this and other industrial questions placed before the Premiers at the next Premiers Conference, with a view to making the necessary arrangements forthe objective of one system of industrial arbitration in Australia?

Mr Menzies:

– When the agenda of the next conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers is being prepared, this matter will receive consideration.

Aerodrome at Latrobe.

Mr Mahoney:

y asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

In connexion with the grant of £250 for work at the aerodrome at Latrobe -

Is it a fact that the men working only received 6s. 8d. a day?

Was the grant of £250 for relief work ; if so, what wages were to be paid per day in accordance with instructions from the Minister?

Is it a fact that the men who were clearing the ground for the aerodrome received only 6s. 8d. a day?

Will he see that the men are paid the difference between the basic wage and the wage they received?

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– The grant of £250 for work on the municipal aerodrome at Latrobe was authorized under the Loan Appropriation (Unemployment)Relief Act 1934. In accordance with arrangements made with the Premier of Tasmania, the money appropriated was made available by the Department of the Interior to the Latrobe Municipal Council direct. The Latrobe Municipal Council has been responsible for the execution of the work.

Supply of Tobacco to Aborigines


en asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

What would be the loss of revenue involved if the excise duty on dark tobacco used by the aborigines of Australia were remitted?

Mr White:

– Approximately £15,500.

Monetary and Banking Commission

Mr Barnard:

d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Has his attention been drawn to the report of a select committee of the Parliament of Tasmania upon monetary reform?
  2. Will he consider embodying in the scope of the royal commission about to be appointed by the Governor-General, the following: -

    1. Restoration tothe sovereign community of effective control over money in all forms; and
    2. ) The establishment by the Commonwealth Parliament of machinery which would secure regular equation between the community’s production and the community’s purchasing power?
Mr Lyons:

s. - The answers to the honorable member’s question are as follows: -

  1. I understand that the report referred to was tabled in the Tasmanian Parliament on the 29th October, 1935. I have not, however, seen a copy of it.
  2. The Government does not propose to vary the terms of reference of the Commonwealth Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems, which were announced in this House on the 3rd October, 1935.

Patrol or NorthernWaters.


asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

  1. How many patrol boats are to be used to police the waters of North Australia?
  2. As it was stated two years ago that the Government was securing these vessels, has he any information as to when (if ever) they will be available?
Mr Paterson:

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

  1. The approved programme provides for three patrol boats to be stationed in North Australian waters.
  2. The boat to be stationed at Darwin is being constructed in England, and it is expected that it will be completed during the present month. The Department of Trade and Customs is dealing with the question of providing a vessel to be stationed at Thursday Island, and is awaiting the arival of the Darwin patrol boat so that the suitability of a similar type for use at Thursday Island may be considered. The provision of a patrol boat for New Guinea is receiving close attention by the Prime Minister’s Department. It is understood that the selection of a suitable vessel for this territory presents certain difficulties.

Military Colleges

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

l. - On the 1st November, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the following question, upon notice: -

In view of the fact that the cost per cadet formerly at the Royal Military College at Duntroon was approximately £15 a week, will ho have a return prepared showing the cost per unit for each cadet in the military schools and colleges of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States of America?

I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows : -

The average cost over a period of 20 years of training each staff cadet, while the Royal Military College was at Duntroon, was approximately £11 10s. a week, not £15, as stated by the honorable member, although, during the four-year period 1926-30 the average cost was nearly £14, on account of the comparatively small number of cadets in attendance.

The average costs of training cadets in the United Kingdom are approximately as follows: -

The decrease in the average costs during the period 1933-35, and the lower average cost at. Sandhurst in comparison with that at Woolwich, result from the distribution of the overhead expenses over a larger number of cadets. In a similar, way, it is estimated that if the Royal Military College, Duntroon, had been kept up to the full establishment for which it was designed, the average cost would have been less than £8 a week. No information or the costs of similar establishments in France, Germany, Italy or Russia, is available. The available information of the cost of the Military Academy at West Point in the United States indicates that the average is about £7 10s. a week, at par, for a total number of 1,236 cadets. This figure is incomplete, as it docs not include the expenditure on pay and’ allowances for military and other service personnel attached for instructional and other purposes, the cost of which is not available.

Wireless Broadcasting : B Class Stations

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

l. - On the 1st November, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) asked the following questions, upon notice: -

  1. What is the number of B class broadcasting stations throughout the Commonwealth, and the number in each State?
  2. What are the registered names of the owners of each broadcasting station, giving the official number and distinguishing letters of each station?

I am now in a position to supply the following information to the honorable member : - l.-

  1. Tho following statement gives full particulars of each commercial broadcasting station in the Commonwealth: -

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 November 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.