14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took thechair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Appointment of Minister -Christmas reliefworksquestionstoparliamentaryundersecretaryforemployment.
– Is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment (Sir
Frederick Stewart) prepared to make a statement as to the practicability of the institution of a 40-hour week in all industries in Australia, and can he state when we may expect a comprehensive report from him dealing with the whole matter of unemployment, in the light of his investigations abroad during the last six months ? .
Question not answered.
– A vacancy having been caused in the Cabinet by the. resignation of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), does the Prime Minister intend to fulfil the undertaking which he gave at the last general elections to appoint a full-time Minister to deal with unemployment?
– I have not undertaken to provide a full-time Minister to deal solely with the matter of unemployment. I did, however, say that a Minister would have charge of this matter, and would devote a substantial portion of his time to it. In the existing circumstances, I am considering the advisability of allotting to a Minister duties relating to unemployment, so that there may be full co-operation with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment,
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government proposes to make available a special grant to municipalities and shires throughout the Commonwealth to enable them to provide a little additional work for the unemployed before Christmas?
– I am not in as close touch with the financial situation as the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), but I understand that each State government still has a substantial amount of money available for expenditure on relief work. The Commonwealth Government has passed a bill providing for a Commonwealth contribution to the annual interest charge in respect of works carried out by the various States. I have no doubt that this subject is being discussed at present by the Treasurer with the State Ministers present at the meeting of the Loan Council. In the circumstances, I am not able to promise that the Commonwealth Government will make any further money available for this purpose.
– Seeing that the State governments still have in hand a substantial amount of money made available by the Commonwealth-
– The money they have in hand is their own which was made available to them through the Loan Council.
– In the circumstances, will the Commonwealth Government provide a substantial amount through its own instrumentalities for the provision of additional unemployment relief works before Christmas?
– A perusal of the Estimates will show that although the Commonwealth Government is providing a smaller amount from loan for unemployment relief works this year, it is providing -a substantially increased amount from revenue for this purpose,
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether he has yet received from the Parliamentary UnderSecretary for Employment the report promised by that gentleman on the subject of unemployment, and the practicability of introducing a 40-hour working week in Australia ? If the “report has reached the Government, will the Prime Minister make it available to honorable members? I should also like to know which Minister is now charged with the special duty of dealing with unemployment? I ask also whether thiPrime Minister will arrange for the Under-Secretary for Employment, who. I notice, is present in. the House to-day, to answer questions in. regard to employment directed to him by honorable members ?
– Apparently the honorable member has taken it for granted that I have definitely promised that a minister will be specially appointed to deal with, unemployment. What I said was that the making of such an appointment would be considered. There is no one minister dealing specially with unemployment at the moment. The Under-Secretary for Employment notified me long before he returned to Australia that he would prepare and submit to the Government a report upon his inquiries and investigations in various countries on the subject of unemployment. But that will be a report to the Government only. I presume that it will come to hand in the very near future. I do not know whether any rules of the House preclude a private member from answering questions directed to him by other honorable members, but it is not the practice in this House for under-secretaries to reply to questions on behalf of governments. If any honorable member wishes to sum bit a question to the Under-Secretary for Employment relating to employment or unemployment, I shall be glad to pass it on to him, and the information will be supplied just as accurately a3 if the question were asked direct, for the UnderSecretary will supply me with the information and I shall pass it on.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement attributed to the Premier of Tasmania which is interpreted as the threat that his State will repudiate certain of its commitments if the demands which he has made to the Loan Council are not met? Will the right honorable gentleman take steps to see that, before the Commonwealth grant of £600,000 is paid to Tasmania, that State gives assurances that it will comply with its obligations to the Commonwealth?
– I have seen the press report of the statement to which the honorable member refers, hut have received no official information from the chairman of the Loan Council, the Commonwealth Treasurer, upon the operations and transactions of that body. I expect to receive such a report.
– In the House of Assembly of South Australia the Premier, Mr. Butler, in answer to a question in relation to the proposed when’ scheme, said -
I have never agreed to the Commonwealth scheme, but to the principle of a home consumption price. I left my statement in writing with the secretary of the conference, so that there would be no m 1 s i i n d er ta n d i w. regarding it:
Will the Minister for Commerce lay that statement on the table of the House, s-o that honorable members may have some idea of Mr. Butler’s attitude?
– The attitude adopted by the representatives of the different governments was as I yesterday stated it to be. That is borne out by the report which will be in the hands of honorable members to-day. I understand, however, that although the resolutions were carried unanimously by the Australian Agricultural Council, just as the conference actually broke up a statement signed by Mr. Butler, and setting out his views, was handed in by that gentleman. I shall lay that statement on the table of the Library for the perusal of honorable members.
– A week ago, the Minis ter for Trade and Customs informed me that no embarrassment or real inconvenience had been caused by the sulphur embargo, because licences could be applied for. In view of the advice now to hand, that one Australian co-operative company has been penalized to an amount of £3,000 by the Minister’s refusal to licence the importation of more than one-half of its year’s requirements, can the honorable gentleman now give some good reason for the retention of the embargo ; or does he favour its removal ?
Mr.WHITE. - One co-operative company has been actively engaged in lobbying. The honorable member may also recall being on a deputation to the Acting Prime Minister, at which it was represented. The -whole matter was then explored, and, I believe, it was substantially agreed that no embarrassment would be caused to either that or any other company. That is the position as I know it at the moment. If this company oan show that it has actually suffered financial embarrassment, I should like it to send me a communication setting out the facts.
Re-entry of Germany.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether any information has been received from London which would throw light on the suggestion that Germany is about to rejoin the League of Nations?
– I have received no official information from London on the matter.
– In view of the important bearing which it has on the Sanctions Bill now before the House, will the Prime Minister arrange for a copy of the work entitled Australia and War Today, published by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), to be made available to each honorable member, and thereby compensate the right honorable gentleman to some extent for the loss of his portfolio?
– If the honorable member regards the book as of such great value, it is worth his buying a copy of it for himself.
– Does the Minister for Trade and Customs intend to introduce an amendment of the regulations relating to the prohibition of the exports of certain munitions of war, with the object of including the latest weapon of this kind known in Australia, the book Australia and War To-day by the right honorable W. M. Hughes?
Question not answered.
– A few weeks ago, the Prime Minister intimated to the House that the Government would consider the ratification of the Statute of Westminster. Can he now indicate when, if at all, that is to be done?
– I cannot intimate the exact time. Following the last question asked by the honorable member,I arranged with the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) to submit to Cabinet a memorandum dealing with the matter.
– In view of the inten tion of the Prime Minister to take over the portfolios given up by the right honorable member for North Sydney, does the right honorable gentleman consider that the remaining members of the Cabinet are entitled to share in the additional appropriation of£1,320 recently agreed to by this House when the Ministers of State Act was amended, seeing that the number of Ministers has now been reduced from fourteen to thirteen?
– As was pointed out when the bill was before the House, Parliament having voted the appropriation, the distribution of it among. Ministers is a matter which concerns only those gentlemen themselves.
– Is the Minister for Commerce able to furnish me with any information regarding the distribution of the amount of approximately £500,000 made available some little time ago for the assistance of necessitous wheat-growers?
– I cannot give the honorable member the information off-hand, but I shall obtain it for him.
Report on Pearling Industry.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the report of the Tariff Board Committee in regard to its recent visit to Broome, has yet been furnished to the Government, and if so, when it will be laid upon the table of the House?
– The report has been received, but as it deals with a subject of some complexity it has not yet been fully considered by the Government. When it has been considered it will be presented to Parliament.
– Will that be before the Christmas adjournment?
– I hope so.
– Will the Minister for Commerce inform the House of the progress being made in the negotiations between Australia and New Zealand with the object of marketing our citrus fruit in New Zealand?
– Negotiations are being carried on by letter; there have been no recent personal negotiations.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he will, on behalf of the Government or personally, make representations to the management of the
Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, with the object of expediting the decision of the company in regard to the building of the two steamers it requires? I make this request because I understand that tenders have been closed. If a long delay occurs it may possibly be advanced as an argument to justify the obtaining of the steamers overseas. It may be said that insufficient time is available to build them in Australia.
– I shall bring under the notice of the company the question of the honorable member with the object of facilitating an early decision.
– Some little time ago I made representations to the Government at the request of the Pensioners’ Association with the object of obtaining a little extra payment to pensioners for Christmas cheer. I have now received a reply from the Assistant Minister (Mr. Hunter) to the effect that the subject is under consideration by the Pensions Department. Am I to understand that it is being given serious consideration, or is the promise of consideration intended simply to mislead the pensioners? I ask the Prime Minister to say definitely whether something can be done to provide a little extra cheer for the pensioners during the coming festive season?
– The honorable member has suggested that something is being done to mislead the pensioners; but I ask him to consider whether he is not doing the same kind of thing in asking this question.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether he will bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General the desirableness of reviewing all the applications that have been made during the last twelve months for increased postal, telegraphic and telephonic facilities in country districts with the object of putting as much work as possible in hand before. Christmas?
– I shall be glad to submit the honorable member’s question to the PostmasterGeneral, but I feel sure that the department, with its usual efficiency, already has tuc matter in hand.
– Will the Minuter for the Interior inform me when ho expects his department to be ready to promulgate the promised ordinance dealing with apprenticeship in the Federal Capital Territory?
– I hope that it will lie promulgated at a very early date.
The following papers were presented -
Seat of Government Acceptance Act awl Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinance of 1935 - Ho. 10- Canberra Community Hospital Board (No. 2).
Nurses Registration Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Debate resumed f rom the 6th November (vide page 1337), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The application of sanctions against Italy is of paramount importance, demanding the closest attention and consideration of not only this a’ssembly, but also the parliaments of the world, and it is well to remember in this connexion, that as members of the national Parliament of Australia, Ave are assuming the gravest of responsibilities in any decision we make. In coming to a decision on the matter we have to consider the position of the world to-day and the various stages through which it has passed. Throughout the ages, and in all nations, until a century or two ago, the principle followed was that might is right. But western civilization has now evolved the new principle that right is might. It was first enunciated by the British Empire. Britain has led the world in this matter as it has in others. The great nations of the world are now moving along lines which we hope will bring them all to the state of civilization attained by the British Empire and of which we, in Australia, are particularly proud. But the principle that might is right is still observed by many nations, particularly Eastern races, whose standards are entirely different from ours. We have therefore to consider how far their principle brings us into conflict with them, and to what extent we can associate with them in the promulgation of views and principles that may be followed by the world at large.
I have heard in this House within the last 24 hours sentiments expressed by honorable members which are entirely opposed to” the principle that right is might as adopted by the British Empire. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) blamed the Empire for permitting many of the brutalities that have been perpetrated and are still being perforated in the world to-day; but I defy him to . name any recent happening for which it could be held blameworthy. I admit that if we go back a century or two, we must be prepared to agree that the principles then followed by Great Britain would not have received the commendation of civilization as we know it to-day; but apart from the age in which they took place records will disclose that at the time those things of which the honorable member complains were done, Great Britain’s actions compared more than favorably with those of any other nation. Indeed, it will be found that the civilization of the British Empire has always been ahead of that of other empires. I have heard honorable members opposite say that the standard of living in Australia is in advance of that in any other country in the world. I hope that it will continue to be in advance. While I trust that other countries will be encouraged to follow our example and raise their standards of living up to ours, I trust also that Australia will certainly not allow its standards of living to be brought down to the level of those of some other countries. Great Britain has built up a great national empire, each of the nations which compose it forming a constituent part of the greatest empire the world has ever seen, and Australia as one of them, is proud of the position it occupies. But while it forms part of an empire Australia lias its own individual and domestic policy, which it can follow without let or hindrance by any other nation of the world, or even by any other portion of the empire. Derogatory remarks have been made as to the manner in which the Empire is governing its constituent parts, and of its associations with other nations. We have only to consider the history of the British Empire during the last two decades to find what it has done in regard to other countries which it has acquired. Although it has defeated enemies it has handed them back whatever it has gained from them. South Africa, within the knowledge of every honorable member in this chamber, was first Britain’s enemy, but is now its friend and is working amicably under the British flag. The British Empire is really a league of Nations in itself and it has been said that it can afford to remain as a compact whole or as a commonwealth of nations and let the rest of the world go hang. Such a policy of glorious isolation, even for the British Empire, is impossible of fulfilment in view of the state of development which the world has reached and the advances that have been made in civilization in recent years. A glance at the map of the world reveals that very few parts of the world remain unexplored and unoccupied. We in Australia, holding as we do, tremendous unoccupied spaces, are confronted with the problem of how we shall defend and develop this country. The pioneers, who began the work of development, accomplished great things in the face of enormous difficulties, but more progress has been made since federation than during all the history of the country preceding it. This applies, of course, not only to Australia, but also to the whole world. During that period we have witnessed the development of wireless telegraphy, motor transport, the gramophone, aviation, broadcasting and other amenities, all of which have contributed to the comfort of the human race. These developments, however, have brought their own problems with them, the chief of which is that all parts of the world have now been brought into such close contact that what happens in one country must necessarily affect, to a greater or less extent, all other countries.
During the debate on this measure we have listened to wonderful expositions of bravery by gentlemen who did not see fit to serve their country during the last war, but who now set themselves up as custodians of the rights of those who suffered as a result of the war. No one is better qualified to speak of the horrors of war than those who have experienced them, and no one can be more anxious to avoid war if it can be done than are the returned soldiers. Those who took part in the last war are determined that the horrors of war shall never be witnessed, in this country at least, if they can possibly be avoided.
The League of Nations was created after the last war in an attempt to prevent, further wars. Whether or not the League has succeeded in regard to this or that matter in the past is not now the question. We have to ask ourselves whether the League of Nations is worth while, and whether its ideals and principles are worthy of our support. The League consists of a number of nations, which, in turn, are led by human beings possessing all the frailties of human nature. The League may make mistakes, but its ideals remain as something towards which we should strive. Those who have attended its meetings never fail to be impressed by the value of the work being done. I was present in Geneva in 1929 at a meeting of the League, and listened to a wonderful address delivered by Monsieur Briand, who was then representing France, but who has since died. The German delegates at that time sat next to those of Australia in the front row. Monsieur Briand said that France, through the centuries, had paid the penalty for being the cock-pit of Europe, all the horrors of war having been perpetrated on French soil. Not only her fighting men, but her women and children also, had tasted of the hardships of war, and France was resolved that, if possible, war should never again be tolerated. It was so easy to forgive, he said, but so hard to forget. The delegates attending the League meeting should, he said, go back to their various countries, and train the boys and girls in such a way that they would be able, when the time came, so to direct the affairs of the nations as to keep the world in peace and safety. That is the ideal we should all set before ourselves. It is our duty to train the boys and girls to become worthy men and women, and worthy citizens of our Empire. They must be so brought up that they will have nothing to forgive or 1,0 forget. It is u most inspiring thing to see the representatives of the nations of the world sitting in conference at Geneva all animated by the one desire - the preservation of world peace. Surely such an ideal is worth preserving. I have heard honorable members opposite say that, out of 56 nations represented at the League, only three of them are worth while. Honorable members may sneer at countries like Cuba, but even that country has a population as great as that of Australia. We are proud of our country; the people of Cuba, and of the other countries which form the League, are proud of theirs. We must admit the right of all nations to exist, and to work out their destiny. How can this be done better than by mutual association through the League of Nations? When I was in England, I witnessed a great international jamboree of boy scouts. Some people are disposed to ridicule the activities of the boy scouts, but that is because they are ignorant of what the movement is accomplishing. At this jamboree were representatives of 52 nations. There were black boys from Abyssinia, yellow boys from China, and boys from Japan, America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Yugoslavia, and dozens of other countries. What impressed me so much wa3 tha.t these youthful representatives of so many countries were all animated by a common, lofty ideal. The League of Nations is an attempt to imbue all the nations of the world with a similar common ideal.
I was astounded to learn that the Australian Labour party, as represented in this Parliament, is the only political party anywhere in the Empire which is opposed to sanctions. Like Jock, the new recruit in the army, they are the only ones in step. I am not referring to the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden), because on this occasion he is out of step with the general discussion ; at any rate he is with the line that I am taking.
In what better way can we bring the other nations into line with Australia and the Empire than by association with the
Sir Charles Marr.
League of Nations ? We have to consider whether the League is worth while and all parties, Labour among them, have to consider whether our membership of the League is going to continue or not - whether the contribution to the League that we make annually is or is not to bp continued. I concede that that contribution is high - it amounts to about £30,000 per annum - but if the League brought peace to the world it would be a cheap price to pay.
– And if it brought war, it would not be cheap.
– The League of Nations will never bring about war. Its objects are for peace, and the objects of the sanctions that it has promulgated are the prevention of the Abyssinian war, not only from extending, but also from continuing its its present form. Regardless of the types of government in power, the Empire countries are united on this question. The Irish Free State even supports the League of Nations in the application of sanctions. The merits of the Abyssinian trouble are not under discussion. It is not for .the Commonwealth to decide the rights and wrongs of the question. The only duty before this Parliament is to ensure that the Commonwealth will stand behind Britain by accepting the obligations of the League Covenant.
When the Labour party was in office, it continued the Commonwealth’s membership of- the League and sent delegates to represent Australia at Geneva conferences; and, just as the Labour partysupported the League when it was in office, so does this Government support it. It is not a question of party politics, but one of whether the Commonwealth is to be faithful to the League of Nations and its ideals. If we have any confidence in the League, Ave should be guided by the recommendations that it has made for the settling of the Abyssinian trouble. On the other hand, if Ave have no faith in. the League it is our bounden duty to withdraw from membership.
The Labour party says that sanctions mean Avar. That is a matter of opinion. The Government says that sanctions do not mean Avar.
– What does the honorable member think about the stand that has been taken by the right honorable member . for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) ?
– The right honorable member for North Sydney declares that sanctions cannot be applied except by the use of force.
– Which means guns.
– I am prepared to- admit that one fault in the League of Nations is the fact that it has no power to enforce its resolutions.
– Then, of what use is it?
– We hope that the nations of the world in unison will accept the principles of western civilization and recognize that right is might.
– It was western civilization which involved the world in war from 1914 to 1918.
– I concede that western civilization fought the last war. It was a disgrace. But the fact that individuals or nations may fall away from their professed Christian principles does not indicate that Christianity is wrong, or can be blamed for that carnage. We must blame not Christianity, but the professing Christian nations - all of them. That war was a blot on the.history of Christianity and western civilization; but the fact that it occurred, no matter who was to blame for it, is no reason why we should not strain every effort to prevent a repetition of it.
– A Bible in one hand and a gun in the other.
– If the honorable member should go to the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, he would learn that, if a person ventures -into the jungle without weapons, he earns the confidence of the natives; but, if a gun is carried, the natives will attack. Guns have no place in a civilized world. The principles of Christianity and of civilization should replace them. The principles themselves have not fallen down; it is the nations which profess that they are espousing these principles that have fallen from grace. No justification exists for saying that the principles are wrong.
The weakness of the League of Nations is that it has no machinery to ensure that its decisions are carried into effect. I believe that the attitude of the Labour party is that Australia- should continue its membership of the League of Nations. If that be not so, it is the duty of the Opposition to make a public declaration to that effect. The League can be opposed on two grounds only; first, because it is not able to enforce its decisions, and, secondly, because one does not believe in the principles and ideals of the League. I refuse to be told that any honorable member of this Housedoes not believe in the principles and ideals of the League of Nations. That being so, we must believe in them, and it is therefore our duty as Australians to support them.
Honorable members opposite, by their attitude, declare, in effect, “ Let Australia keep itself in glorious isolation. Never mind how many of the smaller nations are butchered and swallowed.” No doubt Abyssinians have committed many atrocities in their country - it is a matter for the deepest regret - but, after all, in comparison with the strong military. , nations, Abyssinia is weak, just as Australia is weak. What is happening in Abyssinia to-day may easily happen to Australia later, because we also are a small nation - if we, with a population of a little over 6,000,000, are proud enough to consider ourselves a nation - and as such we are all pleased to have the protection of the flag of the Empire. I say to my Labour friends, “If we are to live in isolation and refuse to bother ourselves with the troubles of other countries, even of countries in the British Commonwealth of Nations, we are destined to fall, and we should commit suicide, because to segregate ourselves would mean leaving the countries which are our strength.” But that is not the attitude of Australians. If the Mother Country or a sister dominion were in trouble to-morrow, the Labour party could not prevent Australian men from going to its assistance. If South Africa, for instance, were involved in a dispute which threatened its existence, I should defy any political party to prevent Australian men from rushing to its aid.
– They went to the Boer War all right, and they would be sure to go again.
– I remind the honorable member for Batman, principally because of his association with the anti-war movement in the days of the Great War, of the resolution carried at the Labour conference in Perth during that period praying that peace should be brought about with the nation which at the moment practically held the British Empire under its thumb.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).That is hardly relevant to the question.
– Blood is thicker than water. We have to help the other members of the Empire if the time should ever come for us to do so, but first we would try to settle any dispute by amicable means.
Much has been said about disarmament, and about the nations of the world being armed to the teeth and becoming armed more and more every day. The British Empire was the prime mover in the disarmament cause. If the other nations had followed its lead, the world would have been in a much happier position to-day. The Labour party declares that it is prepared to assist in the defence of Australia, but what kind of a defence system does it advocate? Is it willing only to defend these shores against an invader? When it was last in office it so smashed the defence forces of this country that if it had proceeded with its work for another six or twelve months, the forces would have been practically abolished. That is the way this party would defend the country that it professes to love. In the present dispute it wishes to be the only judge as to what should be clone. It says that it would not allow any man to leave Australia to fight overseas in any cause. I hope sincerely that no Australian will be called upon for active service. We cannot guarantee that trouble will not arise, but we can do our best to prevent it. In view of the Labour party’s attitude to the last war, its opposition to the despatch of Australian troops overseas in any circumstances may be taken for granted.
Mr.Garden. - It would be unchristianlike to send troops overseas in connexion with the present dispute.
– It ill becomes the honorable member to speak of unchristianlike acts, seeing that members of his party have promulgated antiBritish sentiments. They must either be for the Empire or against it. No doubt the hon orable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) espouses the cause of the Lang party, and that is definitely anti-British. When one listens to addresses broadcast from certain stations, one has no difficulty in determining the origin of the speeches made by honorable members of the party to which the honorable member for Cook is attached, for they are almost identical with certain addresses heard over the air. The only difference is that the person responsible for those addresses has frankly said that he is entirely opposed to British Imperialism, and hopes to see it smashed within twelve months. I am prepared to concede to my friends opposite their right to express their own views on the subject of sanctions, which is of such paramount importance that it demands the attention of every honorable member; but I contend that if the League of Nations is to be of any practical value, we must be loyal to its decisions, and loyal also to our own Empire. I feel sure that sterner action than the application of economic sanctionswill not be needed.
.- Since the honorable member who has just resumed his seat has challenged members on this side to show that slavery has been practised in any part of the British Empire within the last 100 years, I remind the House that the Labour party has strenuously opposed a system of slavery that was once in operation in Australia about 30 years ago and which was supported by a Government similar to that in power to-day, together with its supporters and the press. I refer to the employment of Kanakas on the northern sugar fields. A condition almost of slavery obtains at the present time in certain parts of the Mandated Territory of New ‘Guinea. There are men in Australia to-day who desire to establish an industry in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea or Papua, where cheap labour is available, which would compete with an important industry in the northern State. I have received from the Townsville branch of the Diggers Association of Queensland, a letter asking me to do all I can to prevent men from leaving Australia to fight overseas. The letter is signed by the honorary secretary of the branch, Mr. W. G. Starr-Nolan, who is a returned soldier, and his association has asked me to do all in my power tooppose all preparations for or participation in any imperialist war. Similar resolutions have been carried throughout Australia -by bodies of men who saw service in the last war.
Yesterday the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom), undertook to give his opinion as to whether the application of sanctions would constitute an act of war. He was asked half a dozen times to define his position, but by the end of his speech he had failed to do so. One day last week Professor Charteris, of University Chambers, Phillip Street, Sydney, took to task Mr. Piddington, K.C., to whom the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) had referred as one who declared that sanctions did not mean war. In a letter addressed to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, Professor Charteris stated -
Sir, - Such is the confusion as to the true nature of economic sanctions under the Covenant . that Mr. Piddington’s letter in your issue of to-dayhas only added to it. His view that economic sanctions are not an act of war would be much more satisfactory if it could be squared with the explicit provisions of Article XVI., which ho apparentlyhas not read. Nothing could be more misleading than his third paragraph, which exhibits the provisions of this article as if they were, optional, depending for enforcement on a resolution taken by the members of the League. So far . from being optional, they arc stated to be obligatory allowing no “discretion at all. What Mr. Piddington ascribes to the Covenant- is the recent procedure at Geneva designed to make the unworkable sanctions article tolerable.
Speaking in this House a few days ago the Attorney-General endorsed the remarks of Professor Charteris when he said that this Parliament had no option in the matter of sanctions, because even if it did not agree to their application, effect would be given to them. The letter of Professor Charteris continues -
The Covenant tells a very different story. Article XVI. contains four . paragraphs, of which Mr. Piddington ignores- the last three; confining himself to the first clause, he picks nut two of its provisions, but ignores the introductory text and the all-important third provision. The article -begins: -
Should anymember of the League resort to war in disregard of his Covenants under Articles XII., XIII.. or XV., it shall “ipso facto “be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other members of the League, which hereby undertake to -
Do what? In popular language three things: The first two are ( 1 ) to sever all trade or financial relations, and (2) to prohibit all intercourse between -their nationals, on the one hand, and those of the “ Covenant-breaker “ on the other. These duties, it is true, can be performed by a Statewithin its own territory, and, as Mr. Piddington shows, they are not necessarily an act of war. But the third duty, which is equally obligatory with the other two, is the crucial one. This is the duty of prevention, viz. : -
The prevention of all financial commercial, or personal intercourse . between the nationals of the Covenant-breaking State and (note this carefully) the nationals of any other State whether a membersof the League or not. (E.g., in the present crisis: The United States of America, Germany, and Japan.)
What Article XVI. (]), in effect provides is this, that in the event set out in the first line the innocent members of the League, without declaration of war on their part, are bound to react against the “ Covenant-breaker “ in specified ways, of which the last involves interference with the communications of the Covenant-breaker and non-members of the League. As regards sea communications, the duty of prevention involves blockade.
This is what Sir John Latham had in mind when he made the statement with which Mr. Piddington quarrels. It is to be found in the “Transactions of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law “ ( 1935 ) , at . page 21. Mr. Piddington quotes an isolated sentence, but the grounds for Sir John’s view are given in the passage which follows, and reads : -
The prohibition of economic and other intercourse must involve, in many cases, if it is to be effective the establishment of a blockade. Accordingly it must be realized that when it is proposed that the provisions of Article XVI. should be put into operation the decision which a government has to take is just the same decision -as it has to take when the question is one of a declaration of war. The responsibility upon Ministers is the same in one case as in the other. If the prohibition of intercourse is to be real and if it is resisted, then the government applying the sanctions must be prepared to see the matter through by the application of physical force. Accordingly, Article XVI. does not abolish the risk of war. It only regularizes a particular method of warfare which in some cases may turn out to be very effective without the institution of actual fighting operations. It cannot, however, be regarded as a guarantee against the possibility, of warlike operations.
Sir John Latham was referring to the provisions of Article XVI. as a whole. Mr. Piddington picks and chooses among the obligations of a single paragraph, viz., paragraph ( 1 ) . The duty of preventionhe ignores.
Mr. Baldwin agrees with Sir John Latham. In the House of Commons on the 7th February, 1934, he made the following statement: -
People talk lightly about blockading a country as an economic sanction. An economic sanction is very difficult to bring into effect without blockade. Blockade is an act of war, and every country unless it is absolutely impotent, which you blockade, will fight you for it. That, I think, is a fundamental consideration which should be recognized when one is speaking about blockade.
A further paragraph which Mr. Piddington ignores is number (3), which, inter alia, binds the members of the League (in applying sanctions) “ mutually to support one another in resisting any special measures aimed at one of their number by the Covenant-breaking State “… It is in virtue of this provision that Great Britain last week put to France the question which has yielded Mr. Laval’s assurance of full co-operation with Great Britain. Although the terms of the assurance are not published, it is reasonable to assume that it relates to the British Navy’s use of French dockyards and bases in the Mediterranean.
In conclusion, it is worth pointing out that Signor Mussolini has stated that Italy will endure economic sanctions with Roman stoicism but will react by acts of war to warlike acts. Presumably he was referring to those acts of prevention which Article XVI. (]) make obligatory on the innocent members of the League possessed of naval power. To those acts, in fact, which Mr. Piddington ignores.
During this debate a number of Government supporters have referred to remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), and have placed a somewhat misleading interpretation upon that honorable gentleman’s suggestion that Australia might be courting trouble with Italy. I point out to them that Professor Charteris agrees with him. Mussolini says that the people of Italy will neither forget nor forgive. There is a greater number of Italians in my electorate than in, probably, any other district in Australia, and I know that that is a characteristic trait. When a wrong is done to him, an Italian will await an opportunity to be avenged. Honorable members may recall the case of an Italian who was murdered on the platform of a busy Sydney railway station; he was found with a stiletto between his shoulder blades. Apparently, Mussolini has no diffidence about telling the world, and his nationals in this country make no secret of the fact, that Italians neither forget nor forgive. It is only reasonable to assume that that will be the case. Even to-day, fear is felt by the British and French people because of Germany’s anxiety to re-arm. The Germans do not forget that they were stripped of their colonies at the termination of the last war. If certain British possessions were taken by another country, those who had economic interests in them would be anxious to regain them.
The loss of colonies instilled into the hearts of the leaders of Germany, and through propaganda into the hearts of the German people, the spirit of bitterness: They want those colonies to be restored to them. I stated the other day in a debate on the Italo-Abyssinian dispute that the only reason for the war in Abyssinia is that agreement could not be reached on the division of the carcass. A division satisfactory to those who had designs upon Abyssinia would have prevented the conflict. The British and French interests in Abyssinia are so large, however, that an agreement acceptable to all could not be arrived at. If Mussolini’s desires could have been met, he probably would not have resorted to war. It is likely that after the British elections on the 18th of this month a further conference will be held, and matters will be satisfactorily adjusted. We know very well that negotiations are now proceeding, more or less “ under the the lap “. Great Britain and France are continuously in conference, and associated with their representatives all the time - if the press is to be believed - is the representative of Italy. They are meeting behind closed doors, for no other purpose than to determine what the conditions 3hall be when the time is ripe for their imposition. I have no illusions concerning the value of the League of Nations. I appreciate the fact that, if the nations which are now outside the League were members of it, instead of an impotent it would be a potent body. From time to time the suggestion has been made that Labour should organize to bring about a general strike. If it were organized, there would be no need for a general strike. When the nations of the world are so organized that they can realize our fondest hopes, there will be no fear of either Italy or any other nation defying the world. The present, situation is due entirely to the distrust felt by the major nations regarding one another’s intentions. There should be less secret diplomacy and more open discussion. Those who approach the Arbitration Court have to prove their case. World affairs will run smoothly only when arbitration replaces secret diplomacy behind locked doors, when the people of all the nations are prepared to come together and state exactly what they want. That object can never be achieved so long as there are conferences behind closed doors, with ministers flitting between London and Paris and Rome and exchanging ideas about which the people know nothing. Honorable members opposite suggest that we should care for the small nations. “What a glorious record the British nation has in that regard! It has, perhaps, achieved its ambition in the direction” of an aggregation of areas throughout the world. London is said to be the hub of an Empire upon which the sun never sets. But, in the building up of our commonwealth of nations, the small nations were crushed just as effectively, just as cruelly, and just as determinedly, if not as quickly,’ as Abyssinia will be crushed by Italy. Italy wants an outlet for its people, and will look elsewhere if Abyssinia is denied to it. That was the motive which lay behind the Japanese operations in Manchuria. Over and over again the question has been asked, “ Why did not- the League of Nations apply sanctions against Japan ? “ The reason was, that there were no interests to serve. But for vested interests in Abyssinia, the position there would not have been dissimilar. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat (Sir Charles Marr), said that we should have sympathy with small nations. I have sympathy with every people. I realize that they have just as much right to their homes as we have to ours. I speak for hundreds of men when I say that honorable members are daily receiving communications from ex-members of the Australian Imperial Force, urging them to do all that they can to prevent Australians from leaving this country to fight in an imperialist war. This is purely an imperialist war, a trade war, as was the last one.
– It is nothing of the kind.
– It is being fought by Mussolini for the purpose of obtaining control of what is believed to be a big oil supply in Abyssinia.
– There is no oil there.
-I assume that I have as much intelligence to grasp what is going on ashas the Minister for Defence, and that I am as much entitled to my opinion ashe is to his. I have stated what is my honest opinion. I say that those who caused the last war were the super-loyalists, the wonderful Empire supporters, who have provided Italy with all the means necessary to subdue Abyssinia. The League of Nations determined that sanctions should be applied on the 30th October. Before that date, a big British oil company supplied Italy with all the oil it could have transported, giving the miserable excuse that sanctions had not then been applied. Other war material was also supplied to that country. The League of Nations then stepped in and said, “ We shall now allow Abyssinia to obtain supplies “. The armament ring will provide Abyssinia with all the munitions of war it can take, so long as it receives payment for them. The nations, particularly those which are outside the League, are providing everything that is necessary to continue the struggle. That will be the position until the munitions ring is prevented from conducting its hellish operations and amassing fortunes out of them. Sir Basil Zaharoff, a titled Englishman of Greek descent, is the “ big hit “ in the munitions world. One can read in works in the Parliamentary Library and other places of the methods that he adopts to persuade a nation that it is not safe unless it is sufficiently armed to protect itself against the suggested or prospective aggression of another nation. Until the manufacture of munitions for private profit has been prohibited wars will continue to occur. So long as people see an opportunity to make profit, whether in the industrial sphere or otherwise, they will not be deterred even by the prospect of war, in the pursuit of their objective. The first step towards insuring the permanent peace of the world must be the prohibition by all countries of the manufacture of munitions by private ‘ concerns for profit. I know that some people say that even if that reform were achieved war might occur ; but war would he much less likely in those circumstances. If a war broke out it would almost certainly be for the purpose of defence and not of aggression.
Honorable members of the Labour party are not opposed to the League of Nations. They may consider it to- be impotent under existing conditions, but they are not opposed to it. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and other honorable members opposite have indicated clearly that while they approve of the imposition of sanctions they are also of the opinion that the League of Nations is not able, with the means at present available to it, to enforce its decisions. ‘So long as the nations of the world have to struggle for markets, wars are likely to occur. We have been told for the last 20 years by some people that Australia is liable to be attacked by a great nation of the East. I do not believe that this is likely. If Australia would assure the world that it desired only such measures to be taken as would ensure its own defence in the case of aggression, its position would be respected. I cannot conceive of the possibility of Australia successfully negotiating a trade treaty with Italy so long as it is a participant in the enforcement of sanctions. We know very well that the Mediterranean Sea is alive with battleships. Two of our own vessels are there. Why are they there? It cannot be said that their purpose is to assure the Italians that we think they are jolly good fellows to whom we mean no harm whatever. Our vessels are there to assist in the enforcement of sanctions. I believe, with Professor Charteris, that the British naval authorities have been given permission to use the French dockyards in the Mediterranean in order that a means may be available to repair crippled battleships if hostilities should break out between the British and Italian warships. Although the Commonwealth Government has purchased the warship Sydney, the vessel has not come to Australia, but has taken its place as a unit of the British Navy in the Mediterranean. This, in my opinion, is quite wrong. The Italian people will remember the part that Australia is taking in the enforcement of sanctions against their country. The presence of Australian ships in the Mediterranean as units of the British Navy will be used as propaganda against this country to our serious detriment. The Italian people will undoubtedly be told that we assisted to apply sanctions with the object of starving them into submission. I have no illusions as to the logical effect of the imposition of sanctions. It has been said that the adoption of this weapon may be likened to the adoption of the strike weapon by industrialists; but the analogy is quite unsound. The Attorney-General told us a few_ days ago that al! the nations of the world, including Australia, believed in arbitration. Yet one House of this Parliament has before it at present an amendment of the Crimes Act which will make that measure more vicious that it is at present - and not only in its effect upon industrialists. I say without hesitation that sanctions mean war. Some honorable members who sit on the other side of the chamber have been overheard to say in conversation that, irrespective of how they vote on this bill, they realize that the application of sanctions to Italy means war. Nothing can burke, camouflage, or get round that fact. The Italian people will naturally feel intense resentment against this action of Australia. The passage of this bill will cause, not an increase of goodwill, but an increase of bitterness.
– I have listened with close attention to the speeches of honorable members on this bill because I appreciate the vital importance of the measure to the people of Australia. I quite understand that’ honorable members opposite are deeply concerned about the possibility of Australia being drawn into the unfortunate conflict between Italy and Ethiopia, and that anxiety is shared by every honorable member on this side of the chamber, but it appears to me that a good deal of confusion of thought exists regarding the manner in which it is proposed to impose sanctions on Italy. I make this brief contribution to the debate in the hope that I may be able to remove some of this confusion.
Yesterday I read in a section of the daily press a statement to the effect that it was difficult to find any real difference between the statements made upon the subject of sanctions by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies), Sir John Latham, and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). There is a degree of truth in that view unless we are prepared to admit the important distinction between a pacific boycott and a blockade. Honorable members opposite are disposed to overlook that difference, although it is vital to a proper consideration of the subject. Of the 58 member States in the League of Nations all except three, Austria, Hungary and Albania - I exclude Italy of course - have agreed to the imposition of sanctions; but the sanctions agreed to are in effect a pacific boycott. There is all the difference in the world between a pacific boycott and what we understood during the last war as a blockade. I do not deny that the imposition of sanctions under certain conditions may result in war between the nations imposing the sanctions and those upon whom they are imposed. But I would repeat that the sanctions sought to be imposed by the League of Nations under the Covenant will constitute, in their effect, a pacific boycott and not a blockade. Great Britain is straining every possible nerve to prevent the occurrence of any untoward incident that may alter the complexion of the sanctions from a pacific boycott to anything in the nature of a blockade.
As honorable members know I have given a great deal of thought to the affairs of the League of Nations and have represented this country at assemblies of the League at Geneva. I do not propose on this occasion to enlarge upon statements that I have previously made in this House in regard to the League except to say that Australia,- as a member of the League, should do everything in its power to honour its obligation under the Covenant. It must, for instance, be prepared to take the risk of imposing sanctions not only for the sake of its honour, but also for that of humanity in the interests of the future peace and safety of the nations of the world. We have reached a turning point in the world’s history. The League of Nations has proved recently, for the first time, that it is an efficient and living reality. The determination of 54 member States to maintain the principles inherent in the Covenant will be the greatest possible future deterrent to any nation thar contemplates embarking upon a war of aggression. The question has been asked repeatedly during the debate on this bill: Why did not the League take action against Germany some time ago when that nation decided that it would no longer honour its undertakings under the Treaty of Versailles but would set out to re-arm? No doubt when Germany made that decision the League felt itself unable to take effective action against Germany; but the discussions that took place in the League assemblies at that time showed clearly that the member States realized that everything possible must be done to enforce the provisions of the Covenant. Italy itself realized this. I direct the attention of honorable members to certain statements made a”! the meetings of the Council of the League on the 17th April of this year and subsequent dates during the debate on a motion of censure on Germany for its decision to re-arm. My citations are taken from the official journal of the League of Nations of May, 1935. Senor Madariaga, who has taken a prominent part in the discussions at the recent meetings of the League of Nations at Geneva as the representative of Spain, speaking in April in support of the motion of censure on Germany, said -
The Covenant is the essential charter of our civilization. Spain must perforce vote for a. resolution which in the last analysis, declares that law comes before force and that none is above the law.
The High Commissioner for Australia, Mr. Bruce, as the representative of Australia at the Council meetings, said in the course of his remarks on the motion -
Although Australia is far removed from the centre of these fears (in Europe) . . . she cannot be indifferent to the situation that is developing . . . Either the League of Nations must be an effective instrument for the maintenance of the world’s peace, or we must recognize that nations must and will take whatever steps they deem necessary to protect their own security.
He definitely associated Australia with the resolution of condemnation on Germany for its breach of the military provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.
The duty of the observance by all States of their international obligations takes first place in the Covenant of the League, and this in itself points to the supreme importance attached to such observance.
It has been said and repeated here on various occasions that all organized and civilized human society must bc based on that most fundamental principle of international law: pacta sunt servanda. Without this principle, we should lapse into anarchy. Without this principle, the League of Nations would cease to have any meaning, any foundations or any possibility of working normally.
Then, Sir John Simon said -
The first part (of the resolution) re-affirms the duty of us all to respect the undertakings which we have contracted; and although the occasion which leads to the submission of the resolution is the action of a particular power on which the Council is called to .pronounce, we must apply this proposition with equal candour to ourselves and resolve to observe this duty impartially towards all.
Then, M. Madariaga said -
Since the inception of the League of Nation* we have all witnessed a gradual crumbling of the substance of the Covenant. All its articles have suffered from a gradual deterioration inflicted by the passage of time.
My last quotation is from a speech made by Baron Aloisi, representing Italy at the League of Nations. Baron Aloisi said -
The Italian Government has always maintained the desirability of a revision of Part V. of the Treaty of Versailles, but it has always made a. point of asserting, in the most explicit manner, that such a revision should take place by the legal means of negotiation between the governments concerned.
I remind honorable members that to-day, so far as I have been able to ascertain, 53 State members of the League of Nations have agreed to the imposition of Sanction No. 1, dealing with arms and munitions of war; 49 have agreed to Sanction No. 2, dealing with financial payments intended for Italy; 49 have also agreed to Sanction No. 3, prohibiting imports from Italy; and 50 nations have agreed to Sanction No. 4, which prohibits certain exports to Italy. Sanction No. 5, which is not included in thi? bill, makes arrangements for mutual assistance. I take it that it will not be brought into force until such time as it becomes necessary to do so. Honorable members will realize that some nations are afraid that their trade will be so seri- ously affected as to cause extreme losses to certain sections of their several communities. They may find it necessary to ask for special consideration under section 3 of article 16 of the Covenant, which deals with the principle of mutual assistance. We must realize that collective action means definitely a joint responsibility, a common burden, and equality of sacrifice. Before going further, I should like to quote from a letter which appeared in The Times of the 27th August last, written by Viscount Cecil, better known to us, perhaps, as Lord Robert Cecil, one of the strongest supporters of the League of Nations since it came into existence. Lord Cecil says -
In his letter in to-day’s issue of The Times Lord Hardinge makes two points. He say? that “ sanctions mean war “. Surely that requires qualification?
When we rejected imports from Russia in our controversy over the imprisonment of English engineers, no war resulted or was even thought of. When, after the murder of King Alexander and Queen Draga in Serbia, we withdrew our Minister, no suggestion of war followed. 1 would rather say that “ certain forms of sanctions may mean war “. That is to say that the consequence of the imposition of sanctions may be a declaration of war by the country on which they are imposed. Whether thai would bc so depends on a number of things, e.g., the nature of the sanctions, the chances of their being successfully resisted, and above all, the power of those who impose them, since imposition by all or almost all of the powers of Europe would certainly not be resisted by war. No one suggests that we should act alone.
It has never been suggested that we should act alone. Viscount Cecil also refers to Lord Hardinge in the following terms: -
Lord Hardinge also urges that as circumstances have greatly changed since we adhered to the Treaty of Versailles, its first 20 clauses, which constitute the Covenant, are not fully binding upon us. That seems to me a very dangerous doctrine. It belongs to the “ scrap of paper” conception of international law which led to the disastrous consequences of 1914. Besides, the obligations of article 10 were expressly re-affirmed and explained by a declaration made to Germany at Locarno and signed by all the other Locarno powers. The Italian signatory was Signor Mussolini. That was in 192;>, when the United States of America had definitely refused to join the League, when Germany was not a member, and when Abyssinia had just been admitted. True, Japan was still a member, but Russia had not joined. Broadly, the position was not then more unfavorable for sanctions than it is now.
Finally, if Lord Hardinge’s doctrine is now sound it was sound months ago when Abyssinia first appealed to the League. If we were not prepared to carry out our League obligations to her, we ought to have so informed her then. Instead of that our chief Ministers, very properly, as 1 think, re-affirmed our. loyalty to the League and re-asserted that the Covenant - without any reservation - was the sheet anchor of our foreign policy.
If we leave Abyssinia in the lurch now, wo shall bc guilty of an unpardonable breach of faith, for which wc shall unquestionably suffer in the near future. It is not a question of “ punishing the recalcitrant member “, but upholding the efficiency of an instrument which successive Prime Ministers have declared to be the best safeguard for peace.
Among all British statesmen I have always regarded Lord Cecil as tlie most outstanding supporter of the League of Nations. The principle of equality of sacrifice, to which I have just referred, is especially provided for in section 3 of article 16 of the Covenant. May I repeat that that principle will not b? enforced until it is found that some oT the nations which have agreed to give effect to the various sanctions have been so seriously affected that they are forced to ask for assistance from their fellow members. It will then be introduced as a fifth sanction.
I have never hesitated in my belief that Australia is definitely bound by the Covenant of the League of Nations, and until quite recently I did not believe that, any member of this House had any doubt in his mind on that matter. Irrespective of party, we all realized our responsibilities when wc signed the Covenant, and were determined that we would stand up to our obligations whatever happened. The Council of the League of Nations, with the exception of Italy, decided that Italy had resorted to war in violation of its commitments under the Covenant. This resolution was approved of by 53 nations, which also confirmed the recommendation of the League Council that this breach of the Covenant should be brought to an end as soon as possible. Sometimes, when discussing the imposition of sanctions, Ave are liable to forget the reason why over 50 nations to-day are determined and united in their decision to impose these sanctions. There is only one reason. Though the League certainly had failed in its first objective to prevent a conflict between two of its members, its next urgent duty was to set the machinery of the League in motion to bring that conflict to an end at the earliest possible moment. The Assembly accordingly set up the Sanctions Co-ordination Committee, which has now recommended certain steps to be taken by all members of the League. The application of sanctions has been almost unanimously agreed to by the members of the League. Honorable members have sometimes referred to the unimportance in world affairs of certain member States of the League, and the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) said that some of them could not fight their way out of a paper bag. No doubt some of the members of the League are very small nations; that, of course, is the great outstanding feature of the Covenant of the League. I have often wondered whether or not the League, when in 1923 is admitted to its membership Abyssinia, Avas wise in plucking, as it were, this ancient primitive kingdom from the centre of darkest Africa, and placing it upon a basis of equality Avith the most advanced powers of the world. History, however, will prove that. I have always thought that a mistake Avas being made, and I would like to place on record the vieWs of Sir Joseph Cook, who wa3 leader of the delegation in 1923 of which I was a member at Geneva. In an interview published in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 20th September last, Sir Joseph Cook is reported to have said -
I did not vote against the entrance of Abyssinia; but I did emphasize the anomalies her entrance would create.
So he did, very definitely - ‘
I did not see why she should be admitted to full membership of the League while others as far advanced in civilization were placed under mandate. I refer to such mandates as Iraq, Palestine, Samoa, and others.
The subsequent history of the League has furnished ample justification of my attitude. If the course I then suggested had been followed ten years of internecine strife and bitterness, culminating in international disaster, would have been averted. The two nations most responsible for what then took place were France and Italy, but especially Italy. I do not remember a similar great enthusiasm on the part of tlie British Empire. No nation, therefore, has a better right to insist that these nations accept the special responsibilites they assumed when they so fervently pleaded for the admission of Abyssinia to fu’l membership of the League. It is our p’ain duty and privilege to stand staunchly by her side to the a’ery end.
I remember the Italian representative saying that “it was a great compliment to the League that Abyssinia should wish to be admitted as a member. Some honorable members have stressed the fact that many of the nations forming the League are very small, but I remind them that all members, whether great or small, enjoy equal rights to the protection which the League is able to afford, and particularly to the benefits of article 10, which states -
The members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all members of the League. In case of any such aggression, or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression, the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.
It is no argument against the practically unanimous vote of the League on this question to say that some of the nations that voted are only small nations. It is true that some are small, and some are very new. I doubt whether all of us could state offhand the exact location of Latvia or Esthonia, or some of the other smaller nations ; but, under the constitution of the League, they enjoy equal rights with great nations like Britain andFrance. The Treaty of Versailles, which contains the Covenant, was accepted voluntarily by every member of the League, and when the representative of Australia put his signature to that document Australia became committed to certain definite obligations. In particular, it undertook that, when any member of the League had recourse to war in defiance of its undertaking, certain action would follow. There is no escape from that position. That contingency has now arisen, and the question before us is whether we, as a people, intend to honour our bond. My faith in Australia is such that I do not believe that that question need be asked, or should be asked. It concerns me greatly to think that in the parliament of no other nation which is a member of the League, is a debate of this kind being carried on at present. In no other parliament arc the elect of the people urging their government not to honour its pledge.
– The honorable member himself mentioned several other coun tries that do not intend to support sanctions.
– Yes,I mentioned Austria, Hungary, and Albania, and it is easy to understand the motives which actuate those countries. Austria must have been very hard pressed before deciding not to take its place with the other members of the League, because I remember hearing in 1923 the definite expressions of appreciation from the representatives of Austria for the action taken by the League to place Austria on a sound financial footing again when it was in a state of almost complete collapse. That was, perhaps, one of the finest things the League has yet managed to do.
Mr.Ward.- How does the honorable member account for the varying support given to sanctions by members of the League ?
– I understand that, although varying support has been given, and although the numbers are changing from day to day, more and more members are signifying their intention to support the imposition of sanctions. It is our bounden duty to co-operate with the League, which recognizes the sanctity of international obligations, and to co-operate with the British Government, and the other governments of the Empire. After all, this great and powerful nation, upon which it has been decided to impose sanctions, is an old and traditional friend of the Empire. Italy was one of our allies throughout the great war, and on many occasions then and since the government and people of Italy have co-operated with Great Britain and the Empire to the undoubted advantage of the world. I cannot countenance the suggestion that there is a desire on the part of Britain to humble this great nation. Our action should not be influenced in any way by a feeling of hostility. I am sure every honorable member will agree with that. “Whatever action we may take arises really out of our intention to honour our pledge, and to play our proper part, however small it may be, in a common attempt to establish and maintain peace and law throughout the world. It was with that object that the nations of the world, weary of war, attempted to set up a world organization which should be available for the solution of international problems without actual recourse to arms. In that attempt the nations have, I maintain, succeeded in a way which has exceeded our greatest hopes. The Hague Conferences before the war had no success whatever, but the League, on the other hand, has met with a great measure of success because the peoples of the world, having suffered in the world war, have determined that everything possible shall be done to prevent the breaking out of another world conflagration.
We should be failing in our duty to the League, and betraying that honour which is traditional in us, if we refused now to accept our share of collective responsibility in common with the other members of the League. This is the first occasion in the history of the League upon which it has been decided to impose sanctions against any nation, and if the League succeeds, as I believe it will, it will have done more for the future peace of the world than it is possible to conceive. If the League should fail, then I can see no hope for the survival of western civilization.
.- The gravity of the situation which has made it necessary for the Government to introduce this Sanctions Bill is recognized by everybody, and it seems remarkable to me that those who recognize its gravity, who have been persistent advocates of arbitration for the settling of disputes, who believe in collective bargaining and collective security, who admit that they approve of the principles of the League, should yet advocate that Australia shall fail to honour its obligations as a member of the League of Nations. If a few other nations were to adopt a similar attitude, the League would collapse. We have to recognize that the peace of the world is based upon the principle of collective security. To support the League by the adoption of sanctions is serious, but for it to refuse to function at all would be much more serious. If the world were to revert to the condition of “might is right,” Italy would settle its dispute with Abyssinia by forcing the acceptance of its demands, and, for the time being, the trouble would bc over; but the effect on the world would be that all countries would be plunged into an armaments race, which would impoverish their people, and would, in the long run, lead to Armageddon. Although the League has not done all that was hoped for it, it has achieved many satisfactory results, as the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) has pointed out. We have to recognize that, if economic sanctions are resisted, it may be necessary to impose military sanctions; but if peace can be restored by the action of the League, its prestige will be wonderfully enhanced,” and we shall have taken an important step forward in the direction of permanent world security. The success of the League in this instance would undoubtedly have the effect of restraining any future bully or dictator from pursuing a course of aggression.
Some statements have been made in the course of this debate with which I cannot agree. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), referring to the contractual obligations imposed by the Covenant, said that any material change in circumstances constituted a justification for refusing to honour obligations. I submit, however, that, although a material change in circumstances might be sufficient to warrant the League considering an alteration of the conditions, it would not be sufficient to justify, an individual member launching out on its own, and refusing to honour its bond. There is only one name for such action as that, and it is repudiation. We must also remember that Australia is part and parcel of the British Empire, and that the White Australia policy, which has been maintained for many years, rests,, in the final analysis, upon British protection and the strength of the British Navy. We know that we are in a position similar to that of Abyssinia. Covetous eyes have been cast on Australia for years past. Honorable members opposite say that we should have such defences as are necessary to protect ourselves from an aggressor ; but I remind them that the total male population of Australia, between the ages of - 20 and 45, is only 1,280,000. We have only two cruisers and about half a dozen destroyers, and it would he futile for Australia to attempt to provide armaments and an army and navy sufficient to protect itself from aggression if it were attempted.
– Australia found 300,000 men to send 12,000 miles away.
– To-day we have 1,280,000 men in Australia between the ages of 20 and 45, and if a nation such as Japan, with all its resources and its immense navy and population were to attack Australia, with its great range of coastline, and its cities so widely spread, this country, if it had a policy of isolation such as the Opposition has suggested, would be in a hopeless position. Members of the Opposition say that Australia should adopt a policy of non-par- ticipation; but, if it did, it would have no right to expect support from other members of the League should at any time the occasion demand it.
– The honorable member seems to forget the difficulty which Japan would have in bringing an army large enough to conquer this country to its shores.
– The speed at which ships travel to-day shortens distances tremendously, and large fleets of aeroplanes would provide means for attack and the bringing of troops to unprotected parts of our coastline at least as quickly as, if not quicker than, defending forces could be rushed to the danger point. Regarding the policy of neutrality or non-participation urged by the Labour party, there is an analogy in our civil life. We maintain a strong police force, because we no not believe in gang-control or in allowing “ basher “ gangs to impose theirown penalties on those who offend them. If we are prepared to pay large sums annually for this civil police protection, we should be prepared also to co-operate in a system which makes for the police protection of the world.
World peace is our aim and object, and there is no more sincerity on the Opposition side of the House in hoping for this happy state than there is among supporters of the Government. We differ only as to the best means to achieve world peace. The strength of a chain is only that of its weakest link, and if one link after another gives way, the chain which is represented by the League of Nations must become a futile instrument, and the world will revert to the unhappy conditions which led up to the Great War more than twenty years ago.
The position which confronts the Commonwealth to-day is that Italy has been adjudged the aggressor. I have heard not one suggestion from honorable members of the Opposition that that judgment is not sound. Despite its failure to state its opinion on the judgment, the Opposition refrains from supporting the Government in carrying out the obligations which are imposed by the League Covenant to bring pressure on the aggressor to bring about a cessation of the hostilities in Abyssinia and to restore peace to the world. The sooner sanctions come into operation, the better chance there will be of their proving effective. The Government has been twitted for having decided to apply the guillotine to this debate. The lengthening of the debate will not hasten the imposition of sanctions, and the sooner they are brought down the sooner will they assist in bringing the war to an end.
– I have listened intently to most of the speakers in this debate, and it is noticeable that supporters of the Government, with one exception, have spent their time in tracing the history of the ItaloAbyssinian dispute. That exception was the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who had the courage to tell the House exactly the effects the policy of the Government will have. It is along the lines followed by the right honorable gentleman that J propose to place my views before the House. But, before doing so, while I appreciate that there is only one supporter of the Government who has shown the real effect of the Government’s policy, I also recognize that one member on this side of the House has taken the opportunity to ventilate views which are in opposition to those of the party to which he belongs. I refer to the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn). I do not think that I shall deal unfairly with him when I summarize his remarks as being as follows: -
The last three reasons advanced by the honorable member so closely approximate the arguments of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) that I do not propose at this stage to deal with them. But,inregard to the first, I do desire to correct the impression which I think the honorable member advanced in order to cover his own position. He said that the Australian Labour party was the only Labour party in the world which opposed sanctions. That may be correct;but I remind him that the Australian Labour party, in the last world war, was the only Labour party which opposed conscription, and that its attitude was twice endorsed at referenda by the people of Australia. The honorable gentleman, in his speech, asked where and when the policy now followed by the Labour party was evolved. It has always been a quality of Labour leadership that its executives- political and industrial - have been prepared to take a determined stand in unexpected crises, which may from time to time arise, and they are seldom out of step with the rest of the movement. When conscription became an issue in 1916, sections of the Labour party who opposed the party’s stand against conscription adopted an attitude similar to that which the honorable member for Bourke now adopts. They dissented from a majority of the party and wanted to know where and when its policy had been evolved. The Labour movement then, and subsequently, pointed out very effectively, not only where it was evolved but also that it had the whole of the Labour movement behind it. I claim that neither the honorable member for Bourke nor anybody else associated with the Labour movement can support provocative action, called peaceful sanctions, and jump off the war-mongers juggernaut when the fateful blow which will lead to war has been struck.
In support of his arguments, the honorable member cited the fact that the Second and Third Internationales are in favour of the imposition- of sanctions. The Second Internationale, which had its headquarters at Amsterdam, betrayed the workers of the world in the last war. At a conference at Amsterdam, members of the Second Internationale carried a resolution which stated that they would return to their various countries and oppose war credits. The conference was dissolved, and the delegates returned to their countries, but, with the notable exception of the German delegates, on their return to their homes they supported war credits on every occasion. The Third Internationale, is a straight-out Communist organization, which has consistently encouraged imperialist wars in order to promote civil revolution. It is taking precisely the same attitude to-day as is taken by the Soviet Government. What it desires to do is to set the imperialist powers at one another’s throats in a war, in which the workers of the world will be called upon to make the whole of the sacrifices, in the hope that out of the ashes of conflict and the misery and torture of the great mass of the people will arise a world-wide social revolution. Social revolution is the chief objective of these wild-eyed revolutionaries. In order to justify the stand that he has taken, therefore the honorable member for Bourke needs to cite some other authority than the Third Internationale, which is frankly a Communist organization whose policy, as I have described it, is not that of any section, however small, of the Labour movement in Australia.
We have heard the swan song of the right honorable member for North Sydney. It will be generally admitted that his speech yesterday was rather a timid effort. It is suggested that, although his book is in conflict with the views of the Ministry, there might even yet be a reconciliation. One morning we may awake to see in the “ agony column “ of the Sydney Morning Herald a notice such as this - “ Come back. All is forgiven “. The right honorable member read copious extracts from his latest .book. At the time I could not discern whether he was endeavouring to advertise it or to justify his actions. The decision of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), backed up by his Cabinet colleagues, has been that the right honorable member must be punished, even if only temporarily. The honorable member for North Sydney has been punished, because, in telling the truth of what the effects of sanctions would be, he let the proverbial cat out of the bag. His banishment from the Ministry, however, has the consolation that it means that there exists, after all, a certain amount of justice in this world. I have vivid memories of the War Precautions Act, one of the instruments used in the last war by the right honorable member in order to penalize Labour advocates who opposed conscription and exposed the machinations of the Government of the day. More than one of them suffered severe penalties for having dared to tell the truth. One Labour leader during the last war was fined £50 for having stated publicly that a sixth division of the Australian Imperial Forces was in process of formation in Prance. He was able to prove to the magistrate before whom he was charged under the War Precautions Act that his revelation was correct, but he was fined; he was punished for having made a statement which was absolutely correct. In the last war the War Precautions Act, passed at the behest of the right honorable member for North Sydney, was invoked to gaol Labour leaders and to inflict on them financial penalties for revealing the truth. There is, therefore, a certain amount of justice in the fact that he has to-day been dismissed from the Cabinet for having committed precisely the same offence, that of revealing the truth - not because he has departed very violently from the objectives . of his former Ministerial colleagues, but because he has dared in the book which he has recently published to reveal what they desire to conceal, the real effects of sanctions as a provocative agency for war. We, on this side of the House, agree with him when he says that sanctions are futile unless backed by force. Honorable members should realize whether we agree with his politics or not that in the right honorable member for North Syd- ney we have a man who, for many years, has lived in an atmosphere and environment which should at least fit him to be an authority on the subjects on which he has written his book. He was Australia’s war-time Prime Minister, and he sat in the war councils overseas. On behalf of this country he signed the Treaty of Versailles, and I should think knows its implications. He supports the sanctions, but ho realizes what the cost of them will be. I direct attention to the fact that despite the theories advanced in his book Australia and War To-day, he definitely proclaims his support of the sanctions legislation, but in unmistakable terms he has set out exactly what may be expected as the result of the application of those sanctions. In his book he says -
All effective sanctions must be supported by adequate force. Economic sanctions which do not materially hamper Italy’s warlike operations arc not likely to deter her from aggression. If sanctions that cut off her supplies of food and raw materials and threaten bor lino of communication are applied, she will use every means to compel the nations responsible to abandon them. This means resort to force. Every British ship that attempted to run the gauntlet between Gibraltar and Suez would be exposed to great risks. … . . An economic blockade is an act of war. It .cannot be imposed without adequate armed force in reserve: the power against whom it is directed will regard it as an act of war and those who impose it as its enemies. The imposition of an economic boycott is war, and must almost inevitably lead to armed conflict. Assuming that Italy decides to persist in her thrust into Abyssinia, she is not likely to tamely submit to an economic blockade, but will endeavour to break through it. This, of course, means war.
The League is in grave danger of being once again humiliated; its utter helplessness in the face of crisis; its inability to ensure security of its members and to maintain the peace of the world once again become increasingly evident. What the outcome will be remains to be seen. One thing is certain : no effective steps can bc taken unless backed by an adequate armed force.
There is, apparently, no doubt in the mind of the right honorable gentleman as to what the application of sanctions would imply. He realizes that Italy is armed to tlie teeth. It has a navy, second only to that of Great Britain, and its air forces are equal to those of any other country. It has been actively preparing for war on a war-time basis for many months, and everybody must realize that any attempt to prevent the shipment of goods to Italy would be resisted by that country. It is only reasonable to expect that a nation armed to the teeth would not allow the ships of other nations to blockade its coasts to prevent food and other supplies from reaching it. Rather than have its people starved into submission, and see all that it has done up to the present time go for naught, it would undoubtedly retaliate. That is definitely the opinion of the right honorable member for North Sydney and many others. Then there is the statement by Sir Austen Chamberlain that economic sanctions constitute a blockade, and would lead to war. The British Prime Minister (Mr. Baldwin) has put the matter more briefly, and in even more definite terms, by declaring : “ Sanctions mean war.” Therefore, we cannot dissociate from this measure the possibility of war.
I now propose to refer to the statement by Sir John Latham, which de-‘ finitely supports the opinions that I have already mentioned. His Honour said -
Article IB of the Covenant of the League contains the well-known provision for economic sanctions. For a number of years this article was regarded as a substitute for war. It is now being realized, however, that the application of economic sanctions is not a substitute for war. It is really an act of war. Any one who remembers the nature and the effect of the allied blockade of the central powers in the Great War will hardly deny that a blockade is definitely an act of war. The prohibition of economic and other intercourse must involve, in many cases, if it is to be effective, the establishment of n blockade. Accordingly, it must bc realized that when it is proposed that the provisions of article 18 should be put into operation the decision which a government has to take is just the same decision as it has to take when the question is one of a declaration of war. The responsibility upon Ministers is the same in one case as in the other. If the prohibition of intercourse is to be real, and if it is resisted, then the governments applying the sanctions must be prepared to see the matter through by the application of physical force. Accordingly article KI does not abolish tlie risk of war. It only regularizes a particular method of warfare which in some cases may turn out to be very effective without the institution of actual fighting operations. It cannot, however, bo regarded as a guarantee against the possibility of warlike operations.
Sir John Latham is of the opinion that sanctions would not only lead to war, but actually constitute an act of war. The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) quoted the statement by Sir John Latham which I have just read, yet I cannot see why he did so, unless he desired to endorse certain portions of it and, by a process of special pleading, place upon it a construction different from that intended by His Honour. The AttorneyGeneral then remarked -
It will be seen that the point that the learned author is making is that the decision to impose sanctions is one of great gravity, and that a resistance to economic sanctions may very well involve the application of physical force. This is undeniably true.
We had not previously had that admission by the Minister. He agrees with Sir John Latham that physical force is required to ensure the application of economic sanctions, but he went on to say-
But it is also true that in such a case the imposition of sanctions will have produced war not because of the inherent character of sanctions but because there has been a subsequent act of warlike aggression by the country against whom the sanctions are enforced.
In that view the Attorney-General wa3 supported by the honorable member for Bourke. The Attorney-General said, in effect, that if we stand outside a man’s door and inform him that we are determined to prevent food from being delivered to him and the members of his family, and he hits back, he - the man we propose to starve - and not the aggressor is responsible for any subsequent conflict. That is about the most remarkable piece of reasoning to which I have ever listened. I shall also deal with the honorable gentleman’s contention as to what is required of Australia under the Covenant of the League. One paragraph of article 16 provides -
Should a,ny member of the League resort to war in disregard of its Covenants under articles 12, 13 or 15, it shall, ipso facto, be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other members of the League, which hereby undertake immediately to subject it to the severance of all trade or financial relations, the prohibition of all intercourse between their nationals and the nationals of the Covenant-breaking State, and the prevention of all financial, commercial or personal intercourse between the national of the Covenant-breaking State and the nationals of any other State, whether a member of the League or not.
I take it that in applying sanctions we shall be subscribing to a policy which involves the prevention of goods being despatched, not only from Australia to Itaiy, but also from other countries which are not concerned in -the present dispute. I take it that the presence of vessels of the Australian Navy in the Mediterranean shows that we are already making preparations to blockade Italy. One of the first duties that will devolve upou the Mediterranean fleet, when sanctions are applied, will be to see that no vessels, even those of neutral countries such as Germany, Austria, Hungary, the United States of America, and Japan, are permitted to deliver goods to Italy.
– That is not so.
– It is so. There can be no doubt as what we would be committed to under the paragraph which I have just read. There would be every chance of provoking war with Italy if Australian ships were used to blockade the coasts of Italy to prevent the delivery of goods from Australia; but the position is infinitely worse, for we are pledged under the Covenant to prevent the delivery of goods to Italy from neutral countries which do not subscribe to the policy of sanctions. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) said yesterday that the United States of America had prohibited trade relations between American citizens and Italy, but he neglected to mention that the ban also applied to Abyssinia. The ‘ following cablegram, published in the Canberra Times to-day, indicates what has happened in the United States of America despite that ban: -
COTTON AND OIL.
Rush of Shipmentsfrom America.
Washington, Wednesday. Reports from the Commerce Department indicate that President Roosevelt’s ‘warning against trading with belligerents in the ItaloAbyssinian war is being completely ignored by exporters.
The greatest activity for several years is reported in the export of petroleum and cotton. For instance, shipments of petroleum to Italy in August and September increased600 per cent.
The department indicated that nothing could be done in the matter, except to compile a report and forward it to the State department for consideration.
That is what is happening despite the neutrality ban and every effort that could be made by the Government of the United
States of America to prevent its nationals from trading with Italy. A further report that appeared in the press on the 1st November, stated -
EGYPTIAN COTTON TO ITALY.
Customs returns for the period 1st October to 25th October, show that Egypt has exported 60,000 bales of cotton to Italy.
During the previous month only seven bales were exported. As cotton is used extensively in munition manufacture, particularly for nitro-cellulose the increased trade has occasioned considerable comment.
I suggest that it is not only overseas that considerable comment would be excited. After all, those who control the cotton interests in Egypt are British investors. The real significance of their action lies in the fact that on the 11th October, a committee was set up to co-ordinate sanctions measures. Therefore, in making this enormous and unprecendented export of Egptian cotton to Italy, they were acting contrary to the policy of their own Government. Honorable members who favour the imposition of sanctions might care to explain why these British capitalists were prepared to supply to Italy before the blockade became effective material that would be used for the manufacture of explosives, with which later Australian soldiers and sailors might conceivably be blown to atoms. Whether sanctions are a success or a failure, whether they are peaceful or otherwise, we have to look to the future effect on Australian trade of the hatred engendered in the minds of the Italian people. We warned the Government when the Ottawa agreement was concocted that it would evoke retaliation, and we were proved to be right. Australia is to-day engaged in a conspiracy with fifty other nations economically to starve a country that is at war. The very fact that we are prepared to come in on this particular deal will engender in the minds of Italians hatred that will live for many years after the present dispute has been settled, and cause them to refuse to trade with us. The Government should ask itself whether Australia will get as much by participating in this fight as by remaining out of it. Commercialism is at the bottom of the dispute. I ask those who refer to the dishonoring of pledges : “ What do the interests which are exporting enormous quantities of cotton to Italy for the manufacture of explosives care about the honoring of obligations”? Their object is to make profits. The last war was a trade war This is a war between imperialist interests to determine who shall wield the biggest stick in Abyssinia.
The only other point with which I wish to deal is one ra:sed by the AttorneyGeneral, and used by the honorable member for Bourke in giving reasons for his support of the imposition of sanctions. In a piece of special pleading, dealing with violent and non-violent methods of coercion the Attorney-General said -
Mahatma Gandhi is the leading pacifist in the world; but Gandhi lias organized a boycott against the British Government for the purpose of securing independence.
The idea of the honorable gentleman in making that quotation was to show that Mahatma Gandhi was a peaceful sane.tionist and that peaceful sanctions did not beget force. I remind the House that when Mahatma Gandhi’s policy of a peaceful boycott was at its height, the Government could not declare war on him as an individual, but the rejoinder of the British Government was to put him in gaol and send a military force to a certain part of India’ to mow down his supporters with machine guns. That is what we say will happen if so called peaceful sanctions are applied against Italy. That nation will use effectively the forces at its disposal to break through the blockade. The Attorney-General went on to say -
I also point out to the House that if we are to reject any “proposal for the imposition of economic sanctions where they are designed to serve the broad and humane purpose of keeping the world’s peace by making it unprofitable and inconvenient to go to war, we will he in a poor position to affirm our right to impose customs prohibitions of an exactly similar character where they are designed to serve our domestic ends.
The honorable gentleman cannot see the difference between the application of sanctions, the purpose of which is to starve the civil and military population of a particular nation - Italy - and the right of a nation to build up a tariff barrier to protect its own industries. The two are as wide apart as the poles. “We have heard the swan song of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), and have been told that the reason for his dismissal from the Cabinet is that he wrote a book in which he expressed views that were opposed to Government policy. The newspapers’ “ tip “ for the vacant position is the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison). That honorable member went dangerously close to doing what the right honorable member for North Sydney did, when he said that the League of Nations has not acquired a sovereign right over member nations to compel them to make war: He claims that Australia has certain sovereign rights, and in this view he is in conflict with the Attorney-General and the rest of the Cabinet. It will be generally admitted that Great Britain and France are the backbone of the League. As the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) has said, the other nations in it “ could not fight their way out of a paper bag.” Australia has already been committed by the Prime Minister to follow Great Britain up to the hilt. What sovereign right, then, has Australia? Let us examine the statement of the AttorneyGeneral on the matter. The honorable member for Wentworth places great reliance on the sovereign right enjoyed by all nations within the League to decide for themselves exactly how far they will go in any war that may follow the imposition of sanctions. He maintains that we have complete sovereign rights. The Attorney-General, on the other hand, replying to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), said -
Let mo remind my honorable and learned friend that in the preamble of the Commonwealth Constitution it is recited that we have agreed to unite together under the Crown of the United Kingdom.
Thus the Crown of the United Kingdom is the Crown of Australia. We have in common one thing - the King of the whole Commonwealth of Nations. Thus we may test the neutrality argument by asking how it 13 possible with one King who makes peace or war. for the Crown to be at war , in relation to Great Britain, and at peace in relation to the Commonwealth of Australia?
The honorable gentleman also quoted the following paragraph from a work by Professor Berriedale Keith: -
For a dominion to declare its neutrality in a war in which the British Crown is a party would be tantamount to secession.
On another occasion, the AttorneyGeneral said -
If anything I have said establishes anything our policy in relation to the peace of the world, so long as we remain in the British Commonwealth of Nations, is inextricably bound up in the policy of Great Britain.
It will thus be seen that the opinion of the honorable member for “Wentworth is in conflict with that of the AttorneyGeneral. I ask him: Even if, theoretically, we had that sovereign right about which he speaks, how much actual right have we, seeing that the Prime Minister has committed Australia slavishly to follow the policy of Great Britain, and the Attorney-General, another influential member of the Cabinet, says that when the Crown of England, is at war, the Crown of Australia also is at war? Even if theoretically Australia has sovereign rights, what prospect is there that this Government would ever exercise them? Not only are the members of the Ministry rabid imperialists; they have also expelled one of their number for daring to tell the people how the application of sanctions might result. Moreover, while honorable members opposite allowed the Attorney-General to say that, when Britain was at war, Australia was at war, they also permitted the honorable member for “Wentworth to say, without correcting him, that Australia had sovereign rights which it could exercise. Where is their consistency? In the circumstances that I have outlined, how can it be expected that they would ever be prepared to agree to the exercise of any sovereign rights that Australia might have?
The facts in connexion with this dispute are briefly that M. Laval and Mr. Eden made a certain offer to Mussolini very early in the piece, without consulting Abyssinia, of all the interests in Abyssinia which Britain and France did not -want, but Mussolini demanded everything. The real issue that we face, therefore, is not whether we shall hold to the sanctity of our Covenant obligations, or whether we shall protect the integrity of Abyssinia, but whether Italy shall be obliged to accept such concessions in Abyssinia as Great Britain and France do not desire for themselves, or be allowed to assume complete control of Abyssinia. As the concessions proposed for Italy by
Great Britain and France were offered without the consent of the Abyssinian Government, it is clear beyond a:l argument that Abyssinia is a mere catspaw in the hands of imperialist European powers, which are bargaining for the division of Ethiopia.
There can be no such thing as peaceful sanctions. We should face the fact squarely that the effective application of sanctions means war. The Government’s policy must inevitably lead to armed conflict. The issue which faces us in considering this bill is such that its settlement one way or the other is not worth the sacrifice of a single Australian life. I shall therefore vote against the bill at every stage of it.
Motion (by Mr. Archdale Parkhill) agreed to -
That the time allotted for the second reading be extended until 10.15 p.m.
.- The concluding sentences of the speech of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) entirely misrepresented the facts in relation to the Italo-Abyssinian dispute. The honorable member said that we were faced with a conflict between two sets of imperialist powers, and that the issue was whether Italy must be satisfied with the concessions which Great Britain and France had offered it in Abyssinia, without the consent of the Abyssinian Government, or whether it must be allowed complete sway in Abyssinia. Everyone who has given any careful attention to the circumstances surrounding the Italo-Abyssinian dispute knows that Abyssinia lias consistently opposed any partition of its territory among the nations of the world. Immediately such a proposal was made, Abyssinia appealed to the League of Nations for protection. I regret, therefore, that the facts of the case should have been so wilfully misrepresented by honorable members opposite.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) has accused other honorable members of wilful misrepresentation. I ask that that accusation be withdrawn.
– The honorable member for Barton must not accuse other honorable members of wilful misrepresentation.
– Then I will say, sir, that the true facts of the case have not been stated by certain honorable gentlemen opposite. I regret that the “Lang planners “, having made such statements, should desert the chamber when the true facts are being presented.
– I ask that that statement be withdrawn.
– The honorable member for Barton is not entitled to refer to other honorable members as he has done.
– I protest against the accusation of the members of the Lang party that honorable gentlemen on this side of the chamber, in supporting this bill, are influenced by sentiments detrimental to Australia. The fact is, of course, that certain statements made by members of the Lang party have been highly derogatory not only to Great Britain, but also to the Commonwealth of Australia. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) declared last night that Great Britain was corrupt from top to bottom, and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) supported that view. We know full well that certain honorable- members opposite are both anti-British and antiAustralian.
– They are also anticonscriptionists.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) used to be pro-Irish and anti-British. I am at a loss to understand why honorable members of the Labour party should object to the enforcement of economic sanctions.
– Why did Billy Hughes object ?
– If honorable members opposite were as good Australians and as good Britishers as Billy Hughes, it would be to their credit.
– It is distinctly out of order to refer to honorable members by their Christian names.
– The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) and other honorable gentlemen opposite, appear to be looking to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) to support their arguments, but they will look in vain. It is significant that the first declaration of the Labour party in Australia against sanctions, was made by the Honorable J. T. Lang, when he said in Sydney that H.M.A.S. Australia should be withdrawn from the Mediterranean. Subsequently the Lang Labour party, and also the Australian Labour party, notwithstanding the lack of unity that has been exhibited between them, united in advocating the views expressed by Mr. Lang. The smaller section of the Labour party has, in fact, intimidated the larger section of it. I deeply regret that the honorable member for Cook should have degraded Australia last night by referring as he did to Great Britain. Every Labour party in the Empire, except the Australian Labour party, has supported the attitude of the Imperial Government in regard to the application of sanctions. It is generally recognized by the Labour parties of the other dominions of the Empire that Great Britain has played a wonderful part as world peace-maker. In these circumstances it is deplorable that members of the Australian Labour party should decry the Empire as they have done. They are prepared to take advantage of Empire membership in times of peace. They want Great Britain to buy our primary products, but as soon as danger threatens the Mother Country they wish to rid themselves of all connexion with it. In my opinion the Labour party has shown itself in this crisis to be weak-kneed to an extraordinary degree. Not only is the party itself weak ; it is also endeavouring to weaken the influence of Groat Britain in world affairs. It has said, in effect, “ Our ships should be withdrawn from the Mediterranean, and we should show to the world that we do not support Great Britain’s attitude towards Italy. In fact, that we renege.” I cannot understand the mentality of the electors who have sent the members of the Lang party to this Parliament to represent them, for those honorable gentlemen are actually advocating a course which would result in the dismemberment of the British Empire. This, as every sensible person realizes, would be a serious blow to the cause of world peace. The remarks of the honorable member for Cook last night reminded me of several stories 1 have heard concerning the New Guard and the burning of the Labor Daily. He asserted that M. Laval and Mr. Eden have been endeavouring to effect peace by secret diplomacy, and went on to say that Great Britain was the master hand in secret diplomacy, and, in effect, that Abyssinia was to be immolated upon the altar of British self-aggrandisement. The history of the world reveals that Great Britain’s record in connexion with the backward races is not equalled by that of any other country. In the development of India and other countries over which Great Britain has held sway there is amplo evidence that the efforts of the people of the British race have always been directed to the preservation of the interests of the coloured races. During the Great “War, but for Britain’s strong hand, the smaller nations would have suffered considerably. In the financial adjustments which followed as an aftermath of the war, Great Britain continued to take care of the interests of the smaller nations. Honorable members opposite have no conception of what the character of goodness means when applied to Great Britain or anything that Great Britain does for the benefit of the world. Behind every British action they see only exploitation and a desire for financial gain.
I should like now to refer briefly to what the League of Nations stands for. The contracting parties agreed to the Covenant of the League of Nations in order to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war, by the prescription of open, just and honorable relations between nations, by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among governments, and by the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another. In other words, the League was formed for no other reason than to Fettle disputes that occur among the nations of the world. The honorable member for Cook has talked of exploita- tion by Great Britain. No greater exploiter than the honorable member himself has ever joined the ranks of any movement.
– Order ! The honorable member’s remarks are entirely personal and therefore irrelevant.
– Great Britain, as a member of the League of Nations, is prepared to abide by the Covenant, and Australia, as a member of the League, also takes its place’ with the other nations of the world in upholding the Covenant. Honorable members opposite have endeavoured to make the people believe that sanctions mean war.
– The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has said that.
– What the right honorable member for North Sydney has said is very different from what the honorable member’s party contends. In any case, unless we take action to prevent war it may come on us at any time. The great nations of the world are arming to the teeth, and if they are spoiling for a fight they will quickly enough find some excuse to commence it. Whether a general conflict, will arise out of the present dispute I do not know. All I know is that the British and Australian Governments are endeavouring to find some peaceful method by which the differences between the two conflicting parties may be satisfactorily adjusted, and so far the most effective method seams to bo the application of economic sanctions, designed to stem the flow of raw materials to the aggressor country. I am with those who believe that the imposition of sanctions will prove effective without its being necessary to resort to force to ensure their enforcement. On the other hand, honorable members opposite declare that sanctions cannot be enforced without resort to war. That is the difference of opinion which exists between the Government and the Opposition in regard to this matter. I maintain that the strength of Great Britain is so great that if the British Empire stands firm behind Great Britain in the imposition of sanctions war will be averted. Sir Samuel Hoare, in a speech delivered in the House of Commons on the 1st August, said -
We arc second to no one in our intention to carry out our obligations under the treaties and under the Covenant. Indeed, it is just because we realize the gravity of the issues that we determined to take no rash steps which would make the situation irredeemable. The effect of a war between Italy and Abyssinia would, in our view,be wholly bad. Whether the war be long or short, whether the victor be Italy or Abyssinia, the effect would be harmful beyond exaggeration to the League and all that the League stands for . . I have already told the House that we are not unsympathetic to the Italian need for expansion, and our actions since the war show that our sympathy is more than the sympathy of idle words. If the Italian Government have any complaints to make against the Abyssinian Government let them make those complaints in the proper and regular manner. They will find the League ready to give full and impartial consideration to the case which they put before it. But these are issues which can be settled without recourse to war.
Sir Samuel Hoare has been closely associated with the negotiations between the powers and I am prepared to accept his statement that there is a possibility of the settlement of this dispute without resort to war. How can honorable members opposite, 13,000 miles away from the scene of these negotiations, take it upon themselves to divide the people of this country on this matter when an authority, such as Sir Samuel Hoare, makes such a definite pronouncement? He went on to say -
Above all, they are issues that can be settled without recourse to a war which would inevitably lead to confusion in Europe, to the serious weakening, and perhaps the destruction, of the forces of peace, and to the formidable unsettlement of the great colonial races of the world.
Throughout the whole of the negotiations concerning the Italo-Abyssinian dispute, Sir Samuel Hoare has been the mouthpiece of Great Britain, and I believe that his opinions are shared by the great bulk of the people’ of Australia. I desire now to quote from a letter written by Lord Cecil which appeared in The Times of the 7 th August last. Lord Cecil said -
We know that the Covenant is the sheet anchor of British policy, and the Ministers most directly responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs have told us that we are prepared to join with others in carrying out its terms.
He then cited articles 10 and 16, and continued -
Granted that we are not called upon to take unilateral action, have we made it quite clear to other governments that we are prepared to take collective action in discharge of the obli gations I have quoted? It must be remembered that in many continental foreign offices there lingers a belief in the advantages of bluff, and they are apt to attribute to us a similar delusion. It is therefore incumbent upon us not, indeed, to imitate them by overstating our intentions, but to make as plain as possible what those intentions are.
I do not think that we could have more explicit and clearly defined views than those expressed by these two great British statesmen, who are in a position to know the whole facts concerning this dispute. But I desire now to quote a third opinion, that of Mr. Herbert Morrison, President of the London County Council, and a well-known member of the British Labour party. He sets forth the view of sanctions in their relation to collective security which is held by a very large number of English Labour supporters, and his remarks should be noted with interest by all classes of political opinion in Australia. He says -
Doesthe Labour party stand for disarma ment by international convention and regulation? Does the party stand for the collective peace system? The answer to both questions is in the affirmative. The party has decisively rejected unilateral disarmament by Britain alone. The party has rejected the policy of isolation. If the party wishes to reverse those declarations of policy, let it openly do so and face up to the political consequences. But if it does not do so it must not be cowardly and refuse to face the facts of its own policy.
Later on he says this -
If we funk the practical issue, we shall lead public opinion to feel that we are mere talkers who fear to implement our talk; that we have been engaging in political humbug; that we are men whose hands tremble when the hour to act arrives (hardly the kind of people to transform capitalism into socialism ! ) .
I have shown that the opinions of eminent Labour leaders in Great Britain, and they are markedly at variance with the views of members of the Federal Labour party in Australia, who are prepared to desert Great Britain in this hour of trial. Last night the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) made some reference to Bernard Shaw, but he must know that Bernard Shaw would have no sympathy with the organization to which the honorable member belongs. Shaw, being a socialist, would not tolerate strikes, because socialism demands that every man shall work. The Labour party in this country is pledged to war to the knife in industrial matters; but, when it comes to international matters, we witness a strange reversal of form. The honorable member for Cook knows what he had to suffer when he associated himself with the timber strike in New South “Wales. The law of the land had to be obeyed.
This question is too serious to be played with, and I ask honorable members whether they are prepared to support the action of Italy. Are they prepared to ask Great Britain to withdraw its support of sanctions, and allow Italy to force its way through Abyssinia with the assistance of modern armaments?
– Italy is doing it now.
– There is yet time to call a halt. The machinery of the League has been put in motion, and everything that can be done through the League is being done. “What would honorable members opposite have said if Great Britain had acted on its own; if it had thrown itself across Italy’s path, and declared that Italy should not send troops to Abyssinia? We all know the difficulties under which the League .is labouring. We know that its authority has been shaken by the defection of some of the most powerful nations of the world, but it is still the greatest instrument in the world making for peace, and it is our duty to support it.
I was greatly struck by a message published in the Canberra Times this morning setting forth the opinion in German political circles regarding the attitude of Great Britain towards sanctions. Here is the messages -
France aroused the suspicion of the small countries, but England understood how to obtain respect as the protector of the small nations and the coloured races. The AngloGerman naval agreement eliminated the ‘North Sea as a danger zone which, like the British Fleet, has shifted to the Mediterranean. The danger of France declaring herself neutral in the event of a clash between Britain and Italy is now being dispelled. England has the French Mediterranean ports at her disposal, and there is now no need to worry about the loss of Malta. England, in four weeks, removed the danger of the Latin Mediterranean alliance that was disturbing the European equilibrium
. The Mediterranean organization has confirmed her, and seldom has a great political aim been so cheaply achieved, and it has all been done in the name of collectivism, which England means as sincerely as she formerly used to Foco Britannica.
The Paris correspondent of the Manchester Guardian reports-
The impression persists that Britain and France are endeavouring to re-introduce Germany to the League. Important delegates to Geneva tentatively discussed the question last week. Monsieur Laval i3 considering a threepower agreement between Britain, Franco ami Germany, and the inclusion of Italy. Monsieur Harriott has accused Monsieur Laval with endeavouring to overcome with an agreement with Germany instead of with Russia.
That opens up an entirely new line of thought. It is a singular fact that not one honorable member on the other side of the House has deemed it worth while to say that Russia would be of any value in the enforcement of the Covenant. When I first came into this House, honorable members opposite held up Russia as a force which was going to transform the whole world.
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable member for Cook visited Russia, and I ask him why he did not stay there. He was sent as a special delegation to obtain information which would be a guide to the proletariat of this country; but I am afraid that the money subscribed to send him there was wasted. When the honorable member was speaking last night, he refrained from mentioning that Russia’s aeroplanes were so numerous that, in flight, they would darken the sun, and that it was Russia creating an enormous army which could very well be used to support sanctions imposed by the League of Nations. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) asked what countries were able to enforce the Covenant, and he added that Russia could not be depended upon. It has been suggested that, if some of the countries of Europe become embroiled in war over this dispute, Germany might seize the opportunity to strike again at Britain. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) said that, when the imperialist powers of Europe were at one another’s throats, Russia, too, might see fit to step in.
– Hear,, hear !
– Are we to believe that Russia will seize the opportunity, if Britain is engaged in war, to stab the Empire in the back? If that be so, then the party to which the honorable member for Cook belongs would also be prepared to stab Britain in the back, because the affiliation between that party and the rulers of Russia is very close. Last night, the honorable member for Cook referred to secret diplomacy and its evils, but I am sure that he must have had in mind, not the honorable diplomacy ofa country like Britain, but the diplomacy of Russia.
I appeal to the Leader of the Opposition to dissociate himself from the statements made by other members of the Opposition that their opposition to sanctions is due to their lack of faith in the British Empire. The honorable member for Cook gibed that the Government has the support of the Communist party in imposing sanctions. Sometimes even the most insane people come to their senses for a little while. I understand that the honorable member at one time was a member of the Communist party. He has shed his Joseph’s coat of many colours, but. it is hard to decide which coat the honorable member should be wearing.
We have heard the Opposition declare that the Communist party is behind the British Empire. The British Empire always has been the great saviour of revolutionaries of the world. In the years gone by the Nihilists found sanctuary in Great Britain when no other country would allow them refuge. At all times, Britain has championed the right of free speech. The honorable member for Cook knows as well as I do that if he were in Russia to-day and decided to turn his allegiance from the Communists, he would be forced to flee the country, and would seek sanctuary first in Britain, the protector of the weaker-minded people of the world.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the matter before the Chair.
– Opponents of the Government have declared that Britain will have to effect a blockade on Italy if it is to be able effectively to impose sanctions, and it has been declared that Italy will immediately clear the decks for action and set out to destroy the country or countries imposing the blockade. I venture the opinion that if events occur as forecast and Britain, and, possibly, France, do blockade Italy, that country, despite the ambitions of Mussolini, will be very careful not to challenge the strength of the blockaders. It is my opinion, however, that the Opposition has presented an exaggeration of the case.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- It will not be so easy as the Government appears to think to impose sanctions against Italy. Supporters of the Government who are in favour of sanctions have mentioned the word “ boycott “. To boycott a country is to commit one of the greatest atrocities that can be committed, and a nation which proceeds to the use of the boycott weapon must be prepared to resist the force of the nation against which it is acting; any nation will use its utmost powers to defend its people. Even among Government supporters it has been agreed that sanctions mean war, and this opinion is backed up by the soundest of authorities. In that case, the Government must view the position from the Australian viewpoint, and not from the viewpoint of the smaller nations of which so much has been made. I remind the Government that the people in whose defence Australia has been committed to act in common with other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, is situated many thousands of miles from this country. In addition to that, a further consideration that the Government should carefully review is that if, following the sanctions, Italy becomes involved in a financial crisis and a revolution occurs, there willbe the grave danger of repudiation of Italian dues to other countries. I should like to know whether honorable members opposite will be prepared to let events proceed to that logical conclusion. I venture the opinion, however, that the financial interests behind the governments of the world would not permit that to happen.
The Commonwealth Government is asking Australia to take action which should be limited to the European nations, and it is a matter of very great regret for me to witness Government supporters linking arms with the Communists. I invite them to cast their minds back through the corridors of time and see the monuments of the destruction that has ensued from previous international conflicts, and to visualize the results that would ensue from the pernicious policy of boycott. No nation would tolerate a boycott for five minutes. If I were a leader of a country and a boycott were placed on the women and children of it, [ should not hesitate to use all the forces at my disposal to destroy the boycott.
Regarding the Australian attitude in this dispute as supposedly mirrored in the Government’s policy, I have yet to learn that the Australian people have given a mandate to their representative at the League of Nations to enable him to commit Australia to war, and to take the manhood of this country to fight on foreign shores. To my trusty and worthy leader, if he were Prime Minister, I should not give permission to send our manhood overseas, unless it were the will of the people as expressed at a referendum. Furthermore, I should do my utmost to protect the conscientious objector from insults if he refused to go to war, even after a referendum.
Another consideration for the Government is the fact that our representative at Geneva has committed this country to war on behalf of “ our little black brothers “ in Abyssinia. Abyssinians are on the lowest rung of civilization. The United States of America was divided in war for the abolition of slavery, and I give credit to the people in that country who abolished slavery. Abyssinia, in view of the shocking conditions of slavery that abound there, and the brutal treatment which is meted out by those in authority to the Abyssinian lower orders, has no place on the map of the civilized world. Indeed, I am surprised to findsupporters of the Government who fought in the war to end war standing up and supporting the cause of a country which has been guilty of diabolical atrocities. Insults that have been hurled at this side of the House, and allegations of disloyalty to the British Empire are totally unjustified. Abyssinia is no part of the British Empire.
I want to show where the apostates of Labour are leading us. One of them, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who has written a book, and induced mugs to buy it, would lead this country into international battle on behalf of Abyssinia. He would sacrifice every man in Australia if Britain were involved in war. Although he has been discharged from the Ministry because his views have been declared to be in opposition to those held by the Government, he would go further than the Government, and would immediately put into oper:tion a boycott which the man-power of this country would be called upon to enforce. In my opinion, a boycott of Italy by Australia will be futile. Other nations will rush in and through a back door supply Italy with the goods which we shall be refusing to sell to it when sanctions are imposed. What will happen to the farmers of Australia, and how will they sell their wheat and wool?
– Italy does not buy our wheat now.
– Italy is a heavy purchaser of other Australian primary products, and I put it to the farmer element of this House : “ Who is going to pay the farmers’ debts ? “ Of course, the farmers will rush to the Treasury for a further bounty. I read the other day the opinion of an eminent gentleman that the success of boycotts was impossible, because other nations would hasten to supply to the boycotted country the goods which the boycotting countries refused to sell it.
– Who is the eminent authority to whom the honorable member has referred ?
– He is one of my advisers in helping me to come to a decision on sanctions. I would remind honorable members, who doubt the truth of my claim, of the attitude that has been adopted by Roumania and other countries who are demanding compensation for any losses which might accrue from the imposition of sanctions. I can visualize the Australian farmers making similar applications.
I concede the argument that the Empire must be preserved, and I respect the opinion that Australia can be defended best in co-operation with the rest of the Empire, but consideration should also be given to the men who say that Australia can best be defended within Australia, by the adoption of a commonsense defence policy. The policy of defence enunciated on behalf of the Government by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) is one that must fail. Australia is not to be intimidated easily by the development of a fear complex that some nation is likely to attack this country.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– The advocates of sanctions would have the people believe that Australia is liable to be attacked by an unknown enemy. They desire to create a war psychology. But small countries such as Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland are not afraid of attack by the powerful nations which surround them. Eminent military authorities, such as the late Lord Kitchener, who have been asked to report upon the problem of the defence of Australia, have said that this country need not fear invasion because it would be impossible for a foreign power to transport troops, and to maintain them here for a sufficiently long period to enable it to conquer Australia. The sooner we tell the people that this country can be defended from within its own borders, and that, it is unnecessary for us to send troops overseas to be dragged at the heels of imperialist countries, the better it will’ be for them. One of the Government, supporters, who is a returned soldier, said to-day that the last war was a disgrace to civilization. Yet we were led to believe that it was to be a war to end war, and to save little Belgium. “Was it for a war that was a disgrace to civilization that Australia lost 60,000 of its best sons? Arc Austral-‘an mothers again to be called upon to make a similar sacrifice? Sir Ian Hamilton, one of those responsible for the great slaughter of our soldiers on Gallipoli, was chief-adviser to the Japanese army in the Russo-Japanese war. According to a book which has been banned, he remarked that the greatest pleasure of his life was experienced when he saw Russians being mowed down by machine guns, and that the slaughter put him in mind of a woman sweeping ants from her doorway ! It is men of this type who create the psychology required to induce nations to participate in war.
If we agree to this bill we shall commit Australia to war, and it logically follows that the conscription of the manhood of this country would be required to carry the war to a successful conclusion. Shed: din?; crocodile tears, advocates of Australia’s participation in the last war appealed to mothers to give up their sons, and wives, their husbands, so that we mght help to “ kill the Kaiser “ and “ make the world safe for democracy.” A few months later the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) told u3 that the last war was not one to end. war, but was one to enable the allies economically to dominate the world. The cry was raised, “ No more trade with Germany “ : but 60,000 Australian soldiers were scarcely cold in their graves before trade with Germany was resumed. Now the people are likely to be asked again to send men overseas to fight for their black brothers in Abyssinia. Have not atrocities been committed in the Congo ? Has not cold-blooded murder been perpetrated in China by the Japanese? No protest was heard on those occasions, but the Government wishes to range Australia on the side of the big financial interests of Britain in the present dispute in Abyssinia.
The right honorable member for North Sydney believes in war, and declares that sanctions mean war. The honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) says that he desires peace. So does the Labour party. I claim that it would be in the best interests of Australia to avoid participation in the present struggle, because a war would mean the loss of its strongest and. most virile sons. If fighting were good for a nation, France would be one of the most prosperous countries in the world, yet its manhood has been depleted by war. If Britain desires to retain its greatness it should avoid international conflict at all costs. Britain, France and Italy are carrying out in Abyssinia a job about which they are all agreed, and the true position is ‘being camouflaged in Britain because an election is about to take place, and the party in power is afraid to face the real issue, which concerns the Bank of England. When the workers of the world demand improvement of their economic conditions it is remarkable how various governments which stand for the big financial institutions commit their countries to war. Australia should not be an aggressor nation. Its people will defend its shores if attacked, but if they take their coats off and look for a fight they are sure to meet trouble. We have all we can do in developing our own resources.
On the one hand, the Government pleads for an increase of population, and on the other it is prepared to ask the strong and virile to take part in one of the most cruel capitalist wars in history. Our poop;e should not be dragged at the heels of the unscrupulous diplomats of Geneva.
We have no interest in Abyssinia, and the d-spu:e there should not involve the sacrifice of the life of a single Australian. As a loyal Australian - as loyal as any honorable member opposite - 1 desire to protect the people from those inhuman monsters who, between 1914 and 1916, if they had had the courage to. do so, would have imposed conscription on the manhood of this country. Anticonscriptionists in Sydney were treated with the utmost brutality. Men were gaoled for even daring to disagree with the high and mighty napoleonic Prime Minister of the day, the present right honorable member for North Sydney. I heard the right honorable gentleman say on one occasion : “ When the workers go on strike they get all that they deserve.” In those days, might was right. I said three weeks ago that the League of Nations had failed because it had not the might to enforce the acceptance of its ideas by the nations of the world. Who has the might has the right. In the Great War, what thought was given to the principles of Christianity? All nations prayed to God for victory, and whichever won a victory claimed that the Almighty was on its side. ‘ A greater atrocity could not be committed against Christianity. So far as I am concerned, no man will leave Australia to fight in a war of aggression or sacrifice his life on behalf of the imperialist jingoes of the world.
.- Judging by the tone of the debate, I think it will be agreed that the opinion is universally held that war is undesirable. Government members are just as insistent in that respect as are members of the Opposition. It is in relation to the means bv which war may be prevented that differences of opinion exist.
I admit that I have not been a very enthusiastic supporter or advocate of the League of Nations. One cannot overlook the lessons which history teaches. After the termination of most wars of any magnitude, endeavours have been made to formulate some policy, make some treaty, or effect some alliance with the object of preventing war in the future; but up to the present it seems to have been almost impossible to reconcile the conflicting interests of the different nations. Consequently no body which has been set up in the past to prevent war has succeeded in that object for any length of time. One may, therefore, be excused if one is assailed by doubts as to the effectiveness of the League of Nations, which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has described as the child of the Versailles Conference with a tainted parentage. At the moment we are faced with an entirely new set of circumstances. The League of Nations, to whose Covenant 56 nations have subscribed, has admittedly been not entirely successful. Yet in a crisis such as that which now exists it has had exceedingly strong support from the signatories to its Covenant. I therefore consider that we are justified in enthusing upon the possibility of the League achieving the purpose for which it was established. Some misapprehension may prevail as to the purposes which exercised the minds of the delegates who attended the Versailles Conference when they evolved and adopted the Covenant of the League. I believe that they had in mind the idea expressed by Lord Birkenhead, when discussing idealism in international politics. He then said -
A broader consideration must now in its turn bo examined. We are told that the object aimed at is the abolition of war. Everybody recognizes that war is both cruel and hateful. But is it even conceivable that it can ever be abolished? Is the ownership of the world to be stereotyped by perpetual tenure in the hands of those who possess its different territories to-day? If it is, very strange and undesirable consequences will one day follow. For nations wax and wane, so that a power competent in one age to govern an empire, perhaps remote, in the general interest of the world, will in another abuse a dominion for which it no longer possesses the necessary degree of vigour. The history of Spain supplies a familiar illustration.
Her chivalry was second to none in Europe. Her high standard of gallant conduct was disfigured only by the cruelties of- the inquisition. Her stately galleons brought a quiver of apprehension even to the stout bosom of Queen Elizabeth, and were never discredited until the rout of her superb Armada. And in exuberant colonial enterprise she was the mistress and pioneer of Europe. In the lastnamed enterprise, indeed, shehung her civilization and her language into theromote parts of the world, derivingincredible titles from successive Papal Bulls. And, coincidently, or almost so,with her immense maritime enterprise sheflung the martial Moor in rout from Spain. But her decline was as rapid as her ascension. She proved no adequate custodian for her oversea possessions. Had a League of Nations existed when she began to lose them, would it have sustained Spain or the insurgents of Spain, or in another case, the despoilers of Spain?
That, or something similar to it, was the idea in the minds of the delegates to the Versailles Conference when they conceived and drew up the Covenant of the League of Nations. In order further to support that contention, I shall read from the speech delivered by Sir Joseph Cook in the Commonwealth Parliament upon his return from the conference. He then said -
Let me refer now, briefly, to the League of Nations. I, too, wholeheartedly and cordially approve of a League of Nations. The object of the League, which is embodied in the treaty, as far as I understand it, is to put between the conception and the act of war as many obstacles as possible. That can be done best, perhaps, in two ways - and here I might say that I am practically quoting what, I think, was a very admirable setting of the matter by M. Tardieu, one of the peace plenipotentiaries of France - it can be done, first of all, by giving to the nations the best geographical conditions which we can secure for them, with due regard to ethnological justice and economic prosperity. In the second place, it can be done by the creation of a common bond of union, so that an act of aggression against one may be made the common concern of all. The underlying principle of any permanent settlement is, of course, that the people shall have the right to dispose of themselves, to fix their own destiny, to have their own outlook upon life, and to live their own life in their own way. This involves, as embodied in the League of Nations, the requirement that we shall stand shoulder to shoulder in the enforcement of the peace principles, and in seeing that they become expressed in the statute, rules, customs and traditions of the nations of the earth.
So I think it can be agreed that the framers of the League were under no misapprehension as to what possibilities might arise in the future which would cause a re-orientation or a review of the treaty then signed and embodied in the Covenant of the League. Article 19 of the treaty reads -
The Assembly may, from time to time, advise the reconsideration by members of the
League of treaties which have become inapplicable, and the consideration of international condition’s whose continuance might endanger the peace of the world.
I submit that that shows quite definitely the anticipation that conditions might arise which would require the review of the then existing terms of the treaties. It has been said that the President of the United States of America, who had, probably, more to do with the framing of the Covenant of the League than had the representative of any other nation, was not supported by his country upon his return to it, inasmuch as it declined to ratify his signature to that document. Only recently Mr. Frank A. Simonds, a well-known American writer, discussing the desirability or the possibility of the United States of America joining the League or being embroiled in the present dispute, said that if the League were not prepared to review circumstances as they arose, but was simply a body to maintain the present status, obviously America could not join it. I suggest that the League has shown quite definitely by its attitude towards the present dispute that it is prepared to consider the representations of both Italy and Abyssinia. I think, too, that there is not the slightest justification for the accusation of ulterior motives hurled at Great Britain by honorable members opposite. Surely Great Britain is a signatory -which has observed to a greater extent possibly than any other signatory the terms and ideals of the Covenant of the League. One of the most important undertakings was that disarmament would be effected throughout the world. Great Britain is the one country which actually did disarm, even to a dangerous extent, considering the actions of other countries. Surely that establishes the bona fides of Great Britain, and proves its real desire to promote the peace of the world. If a further illustration were needed, it is provided in the fact that, in order to prevent the present conflict, Great Britain offered, through Mr. Anthony Eden, to make certain concessions to Italy with the idea of meeting its demands and necessities. Although those concessions were unacceptable to Italy, Great Britain has endeavoured in season and out of season, by every means within its power,’ to promote and maintain the peace of the world. Only recently Sir Samuel Hoare, recognizing that vigorous, progressive and congested nations need scope for expansion, stated, quite definitely, that Great Britain realized the necessity for making raw materials available to such nations if they were to maintain their welfare and prosperity. He stated, also, that Great Britain would be prepared to discuss the distribution of raw materials to industrial nations at the proper place, namely, the Council of the League of Nations. In view of this evidence of Britain’s sincere attempt to maintain world peace, it ill becomes honorable member’s opposite to hurl innuendoes at, and question the bona fides of, the Mother Country.
It has been suggested that this bill., which, in compliance with recommendations of the Co-ordination Committee, and with the indorsement of the League, imposes economic sanctions against Italy, will eventually lead to war, in which Australia will be involved. Sanctions, we are told, mean war, because sanctions involve the blockading of Italian ports. As to the first point, namely, that the imposition of sanctions will lead to war, I quote the view expressed by Sir Joseph Cook, the then Minister for the Navy, in the House of Representatives on the 17 th September, 1919, in the debate on the motion for the ratification of the Treaty of Peace. Mr. J. H. Catts had interjected that a nation would be practically compelled to fight to support sanctions imposed by the League, and Sir Joseph Cook said -
The League of Nations does not lay that compulsion on any nation. If a nation violates its bond all other members of the League are bound to sever personal, financial and commercial intercourse: and a country that deliberately and wantonly breaks its bond deserves to be boycotted. That is the extent to which the League of Nations carries the penalty.
I submit, also, that it cannot be truly said that sanctions connote a blockade of Italian ports. Although sanctions against Italy are being imposed by 49 of the 56 nations which are signatories to the League of Nations, there is nothing to prevent Italy from trading, for example, with Japan or the United States of America, but the adoption of sanctions definitely imposes on member States the obligation to prevent exports from going into Italy.
It has been stated that the strengthening of the British Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea is an indication of Britain’s determination to establish a blockade. There is really nothing in the present attitude of Great Britain to suggest that it intends to commit anything in the nature of a war-like act by searching the vessels of non-League countries before they enter Italian ports. I contend, and my view is supported by recent cable messages, that the massing of Italian troops in Libya, thus threatening Egypt, is the real reason for the augmentation of the British Fleet in the Mediterranean. But negotiations are in progress for an easing of the tension by a reduction of Italian forces in Libya, and the withdrawal of some vessels of the British Fleet from the Mediterranean.
It. is impossible, in the present state of world affairs, for Australia to occupy an isolated position. The success of our primary industries depends upon the maintenance of friendly trade relations with other countries. Therefore, it is impossible for us to ignore our obligations under the League Covenant, and at the same time maintain the goodwill and support of the 49 nations which, in the cause of world peace, have agreed to impose sanctions against Italy.
It is interesting to note that, in times of national crisis, the Labour party, which undoubtedly is a force for good in many directions, has invariably taken the wrong turning.We had the first evidence of this misguided trend in Labour policy shortly after the outbreak of the Great “War. On that occasion the people of Australia spoke in no uncertain terms of Labour’s attitude, and it was a long time before the people of this country had sufficient confidence in Labour’s policy to return that party to power in the federal sphere.
– The people have learned a lesson since then.
– Labour was in power for only two years during which time another grave crisis confronted Australia, and its unsatisfactory handling of the situation led to its overwhelming defeat at the polls. Now when the Commonwealth, in common with other nations, is faced with another crisis, Labour once more is taking the wrong turning. It is, however, reassuring to know that the Labour party itself is not unanimous on this grave issue. As a matter of fact, there is a great divergence of opinion in Labour ranks concerning the attitude of its representatives in this Parliament towards the imposition of sanctions. I would sympathize with the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) if he were in Australia now and were required to record his vote on this issue, in view of the fact that the Trades and Labour Council of South Australia is unanimously in favour of the imposition of sanctions.
In support of my contention that Labour is not unanimous in its opposition to sanctions, I quote the following from an article written by Mr. H. E. Boote in The Australian Worker, an influential Labour organ published in Sydney: -
The League of Nations, as far as the Abyssinian crisis is concerned, has the overwhelming Labour movement of the world behind it. . . .
In its effort to stop the war in Abyssinia by imposing sanctions on the aggressor, the League is supported by the voice of Labour in every country in the world, with Australia sounding the only dissentient note of any importance.
It can logically be claimed, therefore, that capitalistic though the League in substance is, in the action it is taking to restrain the war-making, covenant-breaking Mussolini, it represents an impressive consensus of Labour opinion throughout the world.
But meantime, reader, why should not we in Australia recognize, why should we not gladly admit, that in its treatment of the ItaloAbyssinian affair, the present-day League, with all its faults upon it, has carried us in the right direction ? In all other lands the Labour movement is firmly convinced that such is the case, and is giving expression to that conviction with an unmistakable solidarity.
Another writer in the same journal, Mr. Frank Cotton, discussing Australia and War To-day, the latest book from the pen of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), says this -
All that the League of Nations has decided upon is to refrain from any actions which would assist Mussolini in his Abyssinian raid.
There has been no suggestion of any overt act of war againt Italy, such as to blockade Italian ports-
This, it should be noted, is a direct contradiction of statements made by honorable members opposite - but only to cease shipping goods there which could be used for military purposes.
Would Mussolini, madman though he may be, take any action which would bring about a state of war with 50 other nations? Would there be any risk of the Bank of England being bombed because that institution declined to handle Italian commercial documents? Would the Stock Exchanges of London and Paris be wrecked by high explosives from Italian aeropianes because they ceased to list quotations of Italian stocks? Would there be any danger of an Italian air fleet appearing over any one of Australian capital cities because we were not shipping wool to Italy for the purpose of manufacturing military uniforms ?
The object of this bill is to authorize the imposition of economic sanctions, and that is as far as it goes. If any further step is proposed by the League of Nations, Australia, in common with the other member States, will have to be consulted. I invite honorable members opposite to consider the invidious position in which Australia would find itself if it dishonoured its Covenant obligations. The League of Nations is willing at all times to consider complaints made to it not only by member States but also by nations not actually in membership. Australia may, at some time, find itself in difficulty because of the attitude adopted towards it by some other country. It has been said that there is no likelihood that this country will ever be invaded by an aggressor; - but we must bear in mind that we are responsible, not only for Australia itself, but also for certain former German territories over which the League of Nations has given us a mandate. It may happen that in consequence of the congested populations of some of the old-world countries a move may be made to obtain a transfer of mandates from Australia to some other nation. In such circumstances, Australia may receive scant consideration from the League if, on the present occasion, it dishonours its obligations. The welfare of this country is inextricably bound up with the welfare of other member States of the League. The obligation is therefore upon us to. see that we maintain the good reputation of this nation, and we can only do so by honouring our obligations.
It was rather interesting last night to listen to some of the remarks of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden). The honorable member said that sanctions meant war, and that Australia would be embroiled in another European conflict if it passed this bill. He then made certain accusations against Great Britain and alleged that the Mother Country was a party, with France and Italy, to an unholy conspiracy, the purpose of which was the dismemberment of Abyssinia. He alleged that the present dispute was imperialist in its basis. He further said that a. momentous event would occur on the 16th November. It appears to me that the honorable member intensely resents any suggestion that this dispute may be settled without an extension of the present field of conflict. He criticized the efforts being made by Great Britain and France to restore peace and accused those nations of unworthy designs against Abyssinia. The honorable member’s speech was a fabrication of inaccuracies and inconsistencies. On the one hand, he said that we were taking action which would embroil this country in war, and on the other he stated that the endeavours of Great Britain and France to restore peace were actuated by unworthy motives.
– I said that there would be a change of policy after the 18th November.
– I have no desire to misrepresent the honorable member; but I made some notes while he was delivering his speech. He said definitely that after the 16th November the Italo-Abys- sinian war would be terminated and Abyssinia would be sub-divided to the advantage of Italy, France, and Great Britain. It has. been suggested that Great Britain and France are acting in conflict with the wishes of the League of Nations in endeavouring to restore peace; but that statement has been authoritatively denied. By doing their best to restore peace, Great Britain and France are acting in accord with the wishes of the great majority of people throughout the world. In any case, I believe that, by passing this bill, the Commonwealth Parliament will act effec tively, first, to prevent an extension of the area of the conflict, and, secondly, to restore peace.
– While I agree with almost everything that the honorable member for Grey (Mr. McBride) has said, I think that in one respect he has unintentionally done an injustice to the Labour party. He said that the Labour party consistently opposed measures of this description.I remind him, however, that the Labour Prime Minister in office when the Great War broke out in 1914 immediately assured Great Britain that Australia would stand behind the Empire “ to the last man and the last shilling”.
As Australia has been a member of the League since its inception, and no opposition has been displayed by any organization or individual of standing in the community to the continuation of this membership, it is surprising to me that the Labour party should now resist the proposal that we should honour our obligations as a member State of the League on this, the first occasion upon which a real test has been applied to the League and its members. It can no doubt be stated with truth that hitherto the League has not attained the success that its supporters expected. That, however, should not cause us to assume that it will not ultimately attain its high objective. The League had its birth in the horrors of the last war, and the suffering and misery that that great world calamity brought in its train, and its purpose is to prevent a repetition of such tragic events. This is an objective that the sane, thinking people of all nations should not merely support, but should also make great sacrifices to achieve. Fifty-eight member States have proclaimed their adherence to this world arbitration court method for the settlement of international differences; but, unfortunately, one member-State has seen fit to make war upon another memberState. When that situation arose, the Council of the League considered all the circumstances of the case, and we are authoritatively informed that it resolved that “ Italy had resorted to war in violation of its obligations under article 12 of the Covenant.” That decision was unanimously endorsed by a full meeting of the
League Assembly - apart, of course, from the two disputant nations. These events occurred about a month ago. A Coordination Committee was then set up by the League to recommend to memberStates measures for asserting the League’s authority. The bill now before the Hou3e has been introduced pursuant to the recommendations of that committee.
Much has been said, during this debate, about the attainments and lack of attainments of the League during the period it has been in existence. Although the League’s achievements have not been nearly as great as sanguine people expected, I believe that, had it not been in existence, the war between Italy and Abyssinia would have already been far more serious than it has been, for other nations would have taken their stand on the side which they considered to be best in their own interests, and we might by this time have become embroiled in a worse calamity than that of 1914-18, with all its terrible consequences. Fortunately, better counsels have prevailed. The League is functioning, and will continue to function, according to the determination of its members to support it. It is therefore incumbent upon all the member States to do their utmost to assist the League in its efforts to settle the present dispute by reason as against force. We have an opportunity to indicate our approval of this policy by passing the bill now before us.
It has been said that sanctions mean war. It is quite conceivable that the application of sanctions might ultimately lead to war. None of us desire this result. It can, however, be said with just as much emphasis - and, I believe, with a greater measure of truth - that in the present unfortunate circumstances sanctions might reasonably be expected to prevent the war from spreading, and ultimately to end it. In any case we should not delude ourselves in regard to war. The nation responsible for the outbreak of this war is a member State of the League with ourselves. Let us, therefore, consider its position in the light of paragraph 1 of article 16 of the League Covenant, which reads as follows : -
That is one of the articles of the Covenant to which Australia and all other members of the League have subscribed. Ever since the inception of the League, the members of the Opposition have supported it in principle, but when sanctions, which are specifically provided for in the Covenant, are to be imposed, they offer the strongest opposition. Surely we are not going to accept the privileges of an undertaking unless we are prepared to stand up to our share of the responsibilities. When an important nation commits an act of war against any other nation it shows that there is every necessity to act in the manner provided in this bill. It is to be regretted that the Australian Parliament is not unanimous on this subject as was the New Zealand Parliament. If the members of the League give their wholehearted support to its recommendations the influence of over 50 nations must have an important effect upon the belligerents, and must be of material assistance in the negotiations that, since the outbreak of hostilities, have been taking place between the leading members of the League and the warring nations. Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, cannot but be proud of the action which the Mother Country has taken from the inception of the present dispute, in which it is supported by every portion of the Empire. If the imposition of sanctions is unanimously supported by over 50 members of the League, Italy will be compelled to consider seriously the impossibility of the task before it. I intend to support the bill in the firm belief that if the imposition of sanctions is supported, as it should be by all members of the League, it will not only be a means of assisting to terminate the present conflict but should also prevent it from extending. This would increase the future prestige of the League.
.- Parliament is called upon to-day to make a decision on one of the most serious matters with which we have ever been confronted, for to approve of the imposition of sanctions will undoubtedly involve Australia in war. The greater portion of the debate has been in connexion with the action of the League of Nations, and numerous theoretical and legal arguments have been adduced in support of its proposals which are opposed to common sense. The League of Nations was an ideal in the mind of that great man, Mr. Woodrow Wilson, who, at the termination of the Great War, endeavoured to bring about some means to prevent wars which bring so much horror, suffering and misery upon the civilized world. At that time it was thought that, with every nation associated with the League, by the imposition of sanctions against a nation foolish enough to declare war, the peace of the world could be assured. To-day the League is not what it: was intended it should be when it was first established. It is not a League of Nations but merely an alliance between three powerful nations such as existed in the days of the Triple Alliance between Britain, France and Russia. These nations are the only members of the League with any means capable of enforcing sanctions. We should discard legal jargon and discuss the serious situation which exists from a commonsense view-point. Instead of the League being a body consisting of a number of strong nations striving to maintain peace it is merely a military alliance which may involve the civilized world, in another European war. The futility of The League was displayed in connexion with the situation which arose in South America and in Manchukuo, and also in permitting Germany to re-arm in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles. Most of the discussion has been on article 16 of the Covenant which. if supported by this Parliament, will involve Australia in war. The adoption of sanctions must mean the introduction of a blockade which, if resisted by Italy, will eventually lead to another European war. As the Labour party is opposed to any action which may result in war it cannot support the imposition of the sanctions pro vided for in this bill. Many statements have been made in an endeavour to justify the action which the Government is asking Parliament to take. When Parliament reassembled in September, the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) said that the Government was behind Great Britain up to the hilt, so long as its efforts were for the maintenance of peace, and we were informed definitely that that was as far as the Government was prepared to go. Later we were told by the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) that the Government was willing to support the League of Nations in enforcing sanctions. Honorable members on this side of the chamber understood that to mean that the Government would support the League in the enforcement of a blockade. Since then various opinions have been expressed by different Ministers. On one occasion the Prime Minister told the House that Australia could review its position at any time, and that if it felt that its attitude was leading towards war it could retrace its steps. On the same day the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) contradicted the Prime Minister by saying that if Great Britain was at war Australia was also at war, and that as a member of the League Australia was committed to sanctions. He stated that Parliament could decide what attitude we might adopt at the League Council, but once a. decision was made we must support it. Over twelve months ago Mr. Baldwin, speaking in the House of Commons, said -
There is no such tiling as a sanction that will work that does not mean war. In other words, if you are going to adopt a sanction, you must be- prepared for war.
On the 27th October he made a similar statement, but because a general election was approaching it was in more guarded language. A report of a portion of his speech reads -
He recalled the League’s difficulties in trying a new path, which was difficult and even dangerous, and pointed out that the League might possibly be put to severer tests, including the risks of peace.
He added that the severest sanctions would lead inevitably to a blockade, bringing in nonmembers of the League.
The brunt of any trouble, in the event of the application of a blockade, must fall first on the British Navy, possibly alone, if wc are unfortunate.
The present Chief Justice of the High Court (Sir John Latham) expressed his opinion on the subject in this way -
The application of economic sanctions is not a substitute for war. It is really an act of war. Any one who remembers the nature and the effect of the Allied blockade of the Central Powers in the Great War will hardly deny that a blockade is definitely an act of war. The prohibition of economic and other intercourse must involve, in many cases, if it is tobe effective, the establishment of theblockade. Accordingly it must be realized that when it is proposed that the provisions of article 1!) should be put into operation the decision which a government has to take is just the same decision as it has to take when the question is one of a declaration of war. The responsibility upon Ministers is the same in one case as in the other. If the prohibition of intercourse is to be real and if it is resisted, then the governments applying the sanctions must bo prepared to see the matter through by the application of physical force. Accordingly, article16 doesnot abolish the risk of war. It only regularizes a. particular method of warfare which in some cases may turn out to be very effective without the institution of actual fighting operations. It cannot, however, be regarded as a guarantee against the possibility of warlike operations.
In endeavouring to refute that statement the Attorney-General only stressed theopinion expressed by Sir John Latham, in saying -
It will be seen that the point that the learned author is making is that the decision to impose sanctions is one of great gravity and that a resistance to economic sanctions may very well involve the application of physical force. This is undeniably true, but it is also true that in such a case the imposition of sanctions will have produced war not because of the inherent character of sanctions but because there has been a subsequent act of warlike aggression by the country against whom the sanctions are enforced.
That means that Italy resenting the imposition of a blockade in an endeavour to starve the people into submission might go to war with the nations applying it. The statement of the AttorneyGeneral is sufficient to. substantiate our case that the imposition of sanctions will definitely place Australia in the way of war, and because of that the Labour party is definitely opposed to such a proposition. “We have heard, in this House, the contention advanced that the placing of tariff restrictions upon imports from other countries is a form of sanction. The two things are entirely different. A nation which may not desire to accept the goods of any particular country is quite within its rights in placing an embargo on their importation, whereas in connexion with the imposition of sanctions, under article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, the members of the League are empowered to use military or naval forces to set up a blockade that may lead to war. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was asked for his resignation from the Cabinet because of his outspoken utterances in connexion with this matter.
The right honorable member said -
All effective sanctions must be supported by adequate force. Economic sanctions which do not materially hamper Italy’s warlike operations are not likely to deter her from aggression. If, on the other hand, sanctions that cut off her supplies of food and raw materials and threaten her line of communica tions, are applied, she willuse 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.
Despite the fact that the right honorable member said he was prepared to support the imposition of sanctions, he has not helped the Government’s case at all. But in giving free expression to his convictions, he has been more honest than Ministers who have been trying to lead the people step by step into committing Australia to active participation in this dispute until they are so deeply committed that there is no turning back. Besides being more honest in his statements the right honorable member has also been more courageous. He has “ spilled the beans “. He told the people too early what the enforcement of sanctions will mean, and because of his outspokenness, has been asked to resign from the Ministry. The Prime Minister complains that the views of the right honorable member for North Sydney that the enforcement of sanctions might involve Australia in war, do not properly represent those of the Government. They are, however, an honest expression of the views of honorable members generally. The right honorable member also definitely stated that the enforcement of sanctions was nothing short of a blockade. He stated that “economic sanctions were nothing new or novel, and that it was the same thing that had existed for thousands of years under another name. It was nothing more nor less than a blockade of a country with the ultimate object of surrender “. I do not think there can be any difference of opinion as to whether sanctions mean a blockade, and because we, on this side, believe that a blockade will lead to war, we offer the strongest opposition to the sanctions proposal. The right honorable member for North Sydney further said -
If there is not a probability or a possibility of war, then I have been greatly mistaken, for that appears to be the view of all those responsible for the present position of the League-
I do not think there was any doubt in his mind as to where sanctions will lead us -
If there is no danger of economic sanctions or a blockade leading to war, I ask why this concentration of the British fleet in the Mediterranean to-day 7
The Labour party endeavoured to have these ships withdrawn from the Mediterranean. “We said that it was provocative of war to send ships to the Mediterranean and that by doing so Ave would eventually be” forced into the conflict. On the question of sanctions, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) said -
Mr. Hughes says in his book, that economic sanctions are cither an empty gesture or war. That is given as one of the reasons why he has left the Ministry. With this view, I thoroughly and absolutly agree bccau.bc it is the truth. No other conclusion can be arrived at. The Attorney-General has admitted 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 or other? We do not want to delude ourselves.
The point I Wish to make is that sanctions definitely will mean a blockade and a blockade will definitely mean war. If
Avar takes place, it Will mean the conscription of the manhood of this country, the death of many of our youths and sorrow in many homes. In a debate on the 11th July in the House of Commons, Mr. Lloyd George asked Sir Austen Chamberlain -
What do you mean by “economic sanctions ? “
Sir Austen Chamberlain replied
I know exactly what I mean. I mean the employing of blockade, which is an act of war; and nothing short of an effective blockade - with all that that involves, to the knowledge of the right honorable gentleman as wel as to my own knowledge during the Avar - would make economic sanctions effective.
Thus men in eminent positions take the same view in regard to this matter as that of members of the Labour party. Because sanctions are either an empty gesture or war, honorable members on this side will oppose their application in every possible way. Paragraph 2 of article 16 of the League Covenant, which has been freely quoted during this debate, 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 the members of the League shall severally contribute to the armed forces to be used to protect the Covenants of the League.
The Attorney-General has made an effort to discount the actual meaning of the wording of that paragraph. Lawyers are continually stressing their interpretation of the words “ may ‘’ and “ shall “, but the wording of this paragraph cannot leave any doubt in the minds of the members of this Parliament as to their meaning.
During the progress of this debate, Ave have listened to much talk of what actually lies behind this dispute. The point I wish to make is that as the League of Nations is an empty gesture and is certainly not what its name implies, we should not go lightly to its support, particularly when to do so must lead us into war. If we agree to adopt sanctions, Ave shall certainly be compelled to stand behind a blockade, and blockade I repeat means Avar. We know that much of the international rivalry in connexion Avith Abyssinia is over the oil deposits of that country. On the 27th October, the following statement appeared in. the press of this country: -
The Avail around Italy is not even built yet, but holes appear in it already, here and there. American oil interests, when approached to join in shutting off this vital product from Italy, refused to do so, as petrol is not on President Roosevelt’s embargo list. Furthermore, an American liner sailed a few days ago for Italy with a heavy cargo, including cotton, motor cars and great quantities of lubricating oil and foodstuffs.
The American oil interests to-day are prepared to supply the. belligerents with one of the chief commodities necessary for the conduct of the Avar, and British oil interests have said that they are willing to supply oil to Italy on a cash basis. The oil interests are the main instrumentalities in bringing about the Avar in
Abyssinia. They do not submit to sanctions. Their only concern is to “ cash in “ on a war of their own making. We, on this side, are not prepared to stand behind commercial wars of this nature. In the Truth of the 27th October last, there appeared the following article under the heading “ Trade in Arms “ : -
Stimulated by the Abyssinian conflict, the world’s exports of arms during 1935, have reached the equivalent (at par) of £15,000,000, according to estimates made by the German institutes of business research.
This is an increase of 20 per cent. over the 1934 figure. The increase in the quantity of arms exports is expected to amount to 29 per cent., compared with the increase of ordinary world trade of only 2 per cent.
Another indication of the growth of the trade in arms is that it now forms double the percentage of world trade that it did in 1929.
Price levels in the arms trade have fallen only14 per cent. since1929, while the general price level - including raw materials - has dropped by more than 50 per cent.
That shows that there is a ring of armament firms fixing their prices and “ cashing in “ on this present trouble. Dealing with the great profiteering and exploitation which took place during the last war, a recent paragraph in Truth read -
A profitable production was synthetic jam, and other manufacturers made fortunes out of contracts for army boots “in which there wasn’t one bleeding inch of leather.” . . . “ But what’s the odds’? “ asked one, “ the bark boots lasted out most of the devils who wore them “.
Another aspect to be considered in this matter is the part played in international conflicts by the ArmamentsRing. The financial editor of the London Daily Herald. Mr. Francis Williams, states that from March of this year, when the British Government announced its intention to treble its air force, to August, shares in established British aircraft companies jumped in value by £7,065,794. Investments in new concerns totalled £6,461,082, of which £3,120,753 went in profits to promoters and stock exchange firms. Thus within a period of five months a sum of £10,000,000 passed into the pockets of a few individuals. Of the new money made available in that period only £537,083 was devoted to the building of new factories and plant. These companies made popular appeals to the people of Great Britain to buy shares, a fact of which they boasted being that they made aircraft for nations throughout the world. These companies know no nation or creed where profits are concerned, and honorable members on this side of the House oppose any step such as the imposition of sanctions, which would provoke a war and ultimately have the. effect of providing bigger profits for the Armaments Ring.
We have been told that we must be guided in this matter by the policies of the League of Nations and of the British Government. But these policies change from day to day. It is impossible to keep up to date with them. For instance, in to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald we read -
The last yearhas seen kaleidoscopic changes in the political alignments of Europe. The Stresa front was made only to bebroken up. In April, Great Britain joined in the condemnation of Germany’s repudiation of the disarmament clauses of the Versailles Treaty in March, only to conclude the Anglo-German Naval Agreement in June.
Also in the same paper we read a cable message despatched from London on the 5th November, as follows : -
Much interest is aroused by accounts given by “Pertinax” in the “Echo d’Paris “, of recent conversations between the German Minister for Economy (Dr. Schacht), the Governor of the Bank of England (Mr. Montague Norman) and the Governor of the Bank of France ( M. Tannery ) .
Dr. Schacht, according to “ Pertinax “, explained that sanctions would lead to the economic dislocation of Europe and the ruin of the lira, and even the pound.
From time to time we have read of the ramifications of international financial institutions, and we have seen how they rule the destinies of many countries. What I have quoted shows how quickly governments are prepared to change their policies at the behest of heads ofbanks, who fear for the stability of their institutions. It is therefore somewhat difficult to keep check of such changes of policy from day to day. To-day the policy is that we must support sanctions. But is it worth Australia’s while to adopt a policy which must inevitably lead it into war? At any rate the party of which I am a member is not prepared to do so, and there should be no doubt in the minds of the people as a whole on this point.
In this debate honorable members have drawn freely upon many authorities to support their arguments, but I feel that the weight of argument is that sanctions must lead Australia into war. Would any honorable member opposite go forth with a gun into the street and kill the first able-bodied man he met? He would probably think twice before agreeing to do so, no matter for what cause. Yet by passing this bill we shall be doing something of that nature, because the war which must inevitably result from our actions would mean the loss of many fathers and sons and would bring sorrow into many homes. The misery that would result could only bring down upon the heads of honorable members the curses of the Australian people. I am not prepared to support any such proposal. In this matter I stand solidly behind my party because I believe that sanctions mean war and Australia is against war.
.- In the course of this debate we have heard over and over again the expression, usually voiced in a sneering manner, that the last war was a war to end war. The great majority of those who fought in the last war and out of whose misfortunes some honorable members delight to make political capital did so - and many of them laid down their lives in the attempt - sincerely believing that it was an attempt to end war or, at least, to lay the foundations of a future, lasting peace. Those who survived supported the establishment of the League of Nations in a sincere attempt to make a reality of the expression that the last war was a war to end war. And those who endeavour to undermine ‘confidence in the League of Nations at this juncture betray them. They make of no avail the sacrifice of those who died or emerged from the conflict, maimed or crippled, mentally and physically. If we are sincere we should do everything in our power to back up the League of Nations in its efforts to preserve peace to-day. It is a curious thing that whenever an honorable member attempts to treat a debate of this nature seriously we hear considerable noise from that section of the House which loves to make political capital out of tragedy of any kind whatever. The argument has been advanced that the League has failed because two wars’ hav« taken place since it came into existence. This fact, I submit, makes it all the more imperative that the League must do something - or at least make a start - effectively to prevent war. Even if the League cannot prevent war to-day or stop the present conflict within a few months, it may be able to limit its duration. In doing that it would show that the nations of the world will really co-operate in an effort to prevent war, and to that extent we shall have achieved something in the cause of peace. If the nations of the world co-operate to bring about collective security in the present conflict they will do something to honour the promise given to those who laid clown their lives for their countries in the last war. Those honorable members who have entered sincerely and seriously into this debate, apart from those who have used the occasion to make political capital and to show their hatred of Britons in other parts of the Empire, have mainly addressed themselves to the question - whether or not the imposition of sanctions means war. I feel convinced that there is no real danger of this conflict spreading. It cannot be contended that a policeman who goes to check a disturbance, although realizing that” such a disturbance may turn upon himself, is the cause of any disturbance himself. Neither can it be said that an attempt to shorten the duration of the present conflict by the imposition of sanctions is an act of war. I have discussed this aspect of the matter with supporters of each side in the present trouble, and none nf them seriously considers that this war will develop into a world conflict. If, however, the efforts of the League in this matter are weak and the League should fail in its attempt to check the conflict, its failure will, within a few years, be the cause of a world-wide conflagration. “We shall certainly have made an enemy of Italy, and the various members of the League will distrust one another, because of failure to help one another in this conflict. Therefore, if we genuinely desire to prevent war in the future, we must support the League in every possible way in its present effort. Some honorable members who probably regard themselves as great Australian patriots declare that Australia should not take part in a war unless that war occurs on Australian soil. They believe, they say, in defence, but only on Australian soil. Although I do not claim to have taken any notable part in the last war, I saw enough of it to make me wish never to witness a war on Australian soil. If the attitude to which I have just referred is followed to its logical conclusion one could argue that if an invader landed in Tasmania, “ patriotic “ Victorians and New South Welshmen would be justified in refusing to go to the aid of Tasmania. Victorians might just as logically refuse to fight in defence of New South Wales soil. I point out that Tasmania is no more a part of the Commonwealth of Australia than Australia is a part of the British Empire, and that whatever part of the British Empire is involved in war it is the ditty of all members of the Empire to come to its aid. It is a curious anomaly that those who claim tb at Australia should not participate in a war, except to resist invasion, and would throw over the British Empire and the League of Nations, shout loudest in support of high tariffs, which are the greatest causes of war. I do not now refer to the Leader of the Opposition because he, I feel, holds views on that point which are refreshingly different from those of many honorable members opposite. The duty of the League is first to curtail the duration of this war, and then, when it is over, to give proper consideration to Italy’s very natural aspirations. One of the things which has driven Italy into this war is the present tariff mania that has spread throughout the world. Just prior to the holding of the World Economic Conference in London a fewyears ago, Signor Mussolini told me that it was of the greatest importance to Italy that the conference should not fail. The people of Italy he said, had to live on what they could earn with their hands, and he stressed the small mineral and agricultural resources of the country. The Italian people had to buy raw material from other countries, manufacture them, and then sell them back to other countries. In other words, they have to live by trade. However much we, who believe in democracy, may dislike the idea of fascism, we must admit that Mussolini and his colleagues have done a wonderful work in raising Italy from a condition of chaos within a period of ten years. They have done everything that is humanly possible to overcome the problems within their own country. Any one who saw Italy after the war, and who has seen it recently, must admit the efficiency of the Fascist regime, however much one may disagree with the restrictions of personal liberty which it entails. While the Government of Italy has been able to overcome its internal difficulties, it has found itself hedged about by ever-increasing trade restrictions. That is why it has been forced to seek a breathing space, as it were, by providing an outlet in Abyssinia for the energies of the Italian people. Even if Italy succeeded in annexing Abyssinia, that would not permanently solve ite problems. That can only be done by removing the restrictions upon world trade and international intercourse. One of the problems confronting the League, if it is to avoid future wars, is to devise means of gradually breaking down tariff barriers which restrict trade and intercourse between the nations of the world.
If we would keep faith with those who strove so sincerely to lay the foundation of future world peace, we must back up this, the one sincere attempt that has been made since the Great War to establish the rule of international law. The moat powerful factor within the League of Nations is that league within the League, the British Empire, at which one particular group among honorable members opposite loves so much to sneer, I offer the members of that group a little friendly advice. If they seek ever to attain to the Government of this country by democratic means, let them change their tune. The people of Australia will not tolerate disloyalty, and I am sure that a majority, even of those honorable members’ own constituents, believe that the peop’e of the Empire should stick together. If we desire to do our best in the interests of Australia, we must back up this attempt to make the League a workable institution.
– What about saying a word for Australia now?
– I have been speaking for Australia all the time. Australia is part of the British Empire, and one of the best parts, but if some honorable members opposite had their way, it would become the only contemptible part of the Empire. One of the most refreshing things about parliamentary government throughout the Empire has been the way opposing parties have been able to settle their differences and unite in a common front at a time of crisis. I do not suppose that political warfare has ever been more bitter in Great Britain than just recently, but in regard to this dispute the Labour party there has fallen in behind the Government, even jeopardizing its chances at the general elections, because, unlike honorable members opposite, it is not prepared to make political capital out of the crisis. Ours is the only Parliament in the Empire in which a political party is prepared to betray the Empire. Apparently, any one who points out our duty to the Empire is sneered at by honorable members opposite, and accused of not being a patriotic Australian. I believe that it is impossible to be a patriotic Australian unless one is also a patriotic Britisher.
I call on honorable members to show a united front on this occasion, and to back up the British Government in its attempt to make the League a real force for peace. The fact that the League has failed in the past is only all the more reason why it should not continue to fail. If honorable members opposite mean anything by those expressions of sympathy with returned soldiers and their troubles which they make with one eye on the ballot-box, let them now honour the promise that was made to the soldiers that the last war should be a war to end war. Let them back up the only genuine attempt that has yet been made to ensure the peace of the world.
.- I protest against the action of the Government in limiting the time for debate on so important a matter as this. The League of Nations at its beginning was a most noble conception, but while we may criticize the League, giving credit for many things which it has done in the past, just as we condemn it for many things which it has not done, it is nevertheless necessary for us to get in proper perspective its exact position in the world to-day. We should not lose sight of the important fact - as many honorable members seem to have done - that up to the present the League is in the experimental stage, and its proposals are only tentative. Wo have not to deal with a long-established, deeply-rooted institution. When the League was contemplated in the first place, the idea was that all the countries of the world should be members, but unfortunately the very nation which was most responsible, through its President, for the formation of the League, was the first to renounce it. One of the first needs of the League, if it is to prevent war, is the possession of such overwhelming force that, when used against an aggressor nation, that nation will be quickly beaten to its knees. The League to-day has no such force at its disposal. The international jurisdiction of the League may be compared to British municipal jurisdiction of several centuries ago, before the courts were able to enforce their decisions. At that time the rule of law was only being established in Great Britain. At the present time, the rule of international law has not yet been established in the world. There is no international court with power to enforce laws to which all the nations subscribe. As for carrying out the verdict of the League, the fact is that the domestic law of every nation comprising the League is superior to the decisions of the League itself.
There are seven great nations in the world to-day, and three of those seven - the United States of America, Japan and Germany - are not now members of the League. The fourth great nation, Italy, with 43,000,000 people, is the aggressor nation against which we are called upon to enforce sanctions. That leaves Great Britain, which is apparently enthusiastic about the enforcement of sanctions, France, which isluke-warm and facing both ways, and Russia, which, while a powerful nation in defence of its own territory, cannot be counted as of much value outside its own frontiers. Therefore, if the League demands the enforcement of sanctions, the task will devolve upon Britain and France. The two great naval powers of the world today are Britain and the United States of America, the latter nation not being a member of the League. The next in strength is France, and there is considerable doubt whether that country will take any part in hostilities should they occur. In fact, the French Premier has stated definitely that France will not take part in military sanctions. There are certain issues such as the future of Manchukuo, Austria, Memel, and Abyssinia, regarding which certain groups of nations are prepared to fight. Australia is faced with, the position that if it takes an active part in this dispute, which mainly concerns a European nation, it will be called upon at all times to take part in the quarrels which are perpetually occurring in Europe, so aptly called the mad continent. Scarcely a year passes without there being a war somewhere in Europe. There is no more reason for Australia participating in the conflict between Italy and Abyssinia than there would be for it to intervene in any of the stray wars which take place in any part of the world. More than half - 57 per cent. - of the habitable world belongs to France and England. Italy arrived on the scene too late, because the imperialists of Britain and France had already appropriated most of the areas of the- world fit for habitation. Italy is now seeking room to expand, and in expanding must come into contact with either Britain or France, so that hostilities are liable to occur at any time.
One of the most important factors in promoting wars is the existence of private armament firms. So long as they exist, neither the League of Nations nor any other body can prevent war. There is considerable literature on the subject of armaments containing irrefutable evidence that prior to and during the Great War, as well as in the years since the armistice, private munition factories have sold munitions indiscriminately to almost every nation. When the League of Nations was intervening, in order to try to prevent war between Bolivia and Paraguay, some of its members were selling munitions to both those countries. The following extract from The Bloody Traffic by A. Fenner Brockway, gives point to my argument : -
Mr. Hugh Dalton, a soldier during the war, and afterwards the Under-Secretary, for Foreign Affairs in the Labour Government of 1920, voiced in moving language in the House of Commons on 11th March, 1926, his views of the morality of The Bloody Traffic as illustrated in this event. He said - “Vickers had been supplying the Turkish artillery with shells which were fired into the Australian, Mew Zealand and British troops, as they were scrambling up Anzac Cove and Cape Helles. Did it matter to the directors of these armament firms, so long as they did business and expanded tlie defence expenditure of Turkey, that their weapons mashed up into bloody pulp all the morning glory that was the flower of Anzac - the youth of Australia and New Zealand and our own country? “
Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, after a visit to Turkey, told the House of Commons that British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers were killed by shells made by British firms.
– His statement has since been denied.
– I have here another statement which has not been denied -
In 1920, British armament firms were again supplying the Turkish Government with arms. Sir Austen Chamberlain, who was then Foreign Secretary, acknowledged that licences had been issued for this purpose. “ Is not the Foreign Secretary aware,” asked Mr. Arthur Ponsonby (now Lord Ponsonby), “that a British battleship was sunk in the Dardanelles by a mine that had been sold to Turkey by an English firm?”
The Minister admitted tlie accuracy of this, but declared that “a war with Turkey is out of the question.”
This, despite the fact that not many years ago, when war nearly broke out against Turkey, the right honorable member for. North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) promised thousands of Australians to fight in that war. I quote now from Mr. George Seldes’ book, Iron. Blood and Profits -
Millions of men died needlessly. All the Americans who were killed in the World War died needlessly. All the British, French, Italian and American, as well as all the German soldiers who were killed from tlie spring of 1917 to 11th November, 1918, were slaughtered uselessly.
He then proceeded to explain what is known as the “ Briey Affair”. The Great War could have ended about two years earlier had it not been that certain iron and steel interests which were well represented in the Parliaments of France and Germany, would have been affected. The Briey revelations were referred to in a series of articles published in Foreign Affairs between August, 1920, and February, 1921. The Briey district, a portion of the French Lorraine, supplied most of the iron required by Germany. The district was captured by Germany early in the war, and arrangements .were made that the area should not be shelled. It was not attacked because of the interlocking of French and German capitalistic interests. The famous de Wendel family owned about 22,500 acres of land containing iron on the boundary between Germany and France. The family claimed to be French; one of its members who was president of the Association of Ironmasters, the great French iron and steel combine, sat in the French Chamber of Deputies during the war. His brother, Charles, was a naturalized German who had a seat in the German Reichstag. Charles resigned on the outbreak of war, returned to France, and offered his services to the Minister for War. The influence of the de Wendel family in the Parliaments of France and Germany was sufficient to prevent the area owned by them from being bombed until the war had nearly ended, and American soldiers ‘had landed in Europe. Had that area been attacked earlier, the sources of Germany’s iron supplies would have been destroyed, and the war would have ended much sooner than it did. Conclusive proof of this is contained in numerous authoritative statements on the subject. I now propose to quote from conservative British magazines in support of my contentions. The National Review for October, 1935, states -
The newspapers which clamour for sanctions - the Swiss for war - against Italy are fond of counting up the little nations who have praised and applauded Sir Samuel Hoare’s declaration of fidelity to the Covenant. “ See how unanimous world opinion is,” they say. “ Sec what support Great Britain has.” A useful corrective to these enthusiastic endeavours to promote a British war against Italy was provided in a letter from Sir Francis Lindley to The Times on 16th September. It formed an agreeable break in the series of letters from members of the League of Nations Union which have wearied readers of that paper now for many months. Disclaiming any desire to advise the Government, Sir Francis asks that we should bear certain facts in mind. The first is that it does not rest with the i in posers of economic sanctions to decide whether these will lead to war. It rests with the power against which sanctions are directed.
The Government proposes to engage in an attempt to starve into submission a population of 43,000,000. Does it think that those people will allow themselves to be starved into submission without making an attempt at resistance? The extract continues -
The second is that, when it comes to a question of war, involving a great power, small countries do not count in the modern world. Individually their value is nought; and though arithmetic is discredited in wide circles, it remains a fact that nought plus nought equals nought. The question will, therefore, be decided by England and France, acting it is to be hoped, in concert. When the enthusiasts can be induced to stop killing Mussolini with their tongues and pause for breath, it would be as well if they would reflect upon the fact that nought plus nought equals nought, and that the result will be the same however many noughts are added to the original one.
That is the opinion of one of the most conservative and trustworthy British magazines, and is a complete reply to the statement that 50 nations are marching side by side. It may be that 50 nations are opposed to Italy, but only three of them - Great Britain, France and Russia - count. The other 47 include such nations as Mexico, Haiti and Ecuador, and others of which many people have never even heard. Moreover, in computing the number of nations opposed to Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and Ireland are regarded as separate nations. Italy, with its 43,000,000 people, is well aware that in reality only two powers are opposed to it, and that, so far, only one of them - Great Britain - has mobilized its naval forces. Not only has Italy already mobilized its naval forces, but a royal decree has also been issued authorizing the arming of Italian merchantmen. There is no doubt that Italy is preparing for war with countries other than Abyssinia. France cannot be depended upon. Even at this last moment the Opposition is again taking opportunity to warn the Government against the probable consequences of its actions. This Government is committing this country to a war not representative of the League of Nations - a war in which only a small number of the nations which really count will take part. The United States of America - probably the greatest naval power of the day - Germany and Japan will not be taking any part in the impending conflict. The League of Nations has not taken part in previous contests. It did not worry about the breaking of the Treaty of Versailles, or the battles between Bolivia and Paraguay, both of which are members of the League.Nor did it worry about the invasion of part of China by Japan, despite the fact that both countries were original members of the League.
We cannot believe all we read in the daily press. The Sydney Bulletin on the 9th October stated that there is now only one cable agency to supply overseas news to Australian newspapers. That is Reuter’s newsagency, which was used during the war by Great Britain in reply to Wolff’s newsagency, which was used by Germany to disseminate propaganda. Reuter’s was then set up and used by Britain to disseminate propaganda throughout the world, and it is being used for that purpose to-day. We have therefore to recognize that we cannot take very much notice of what is appearing in the daily press.
It has been suggested that we have not the power to decide what attitude we shall take. According to The Round Table Quarterly Review, one of the most authoritative publications in Great Britain -
It is now commonly accepted that whatever the purely legal position may be, the dominions have the right to decide for themselves to what extent they will take an active part in a conflict in which Great Britain or some other dominion may be involved.
That statement is a refutation of the views expressed by the Attorney-General. We have the full power to decide our attitude, but the Attorney-General says that we have not that power. He declares that if Italy should not be prepared to submit to starvation and repercussions occurred, Italy would be the aggressor. That is to say if we blockade Italy, carrying out the identical operations which succeeded in bringing the Great War to a close, we shall not be the aggressors, but if Italy should reply by force of arms, it will be the aggressor. Even if that argument had any value - and I submit that it has not - it is poor consolation if it brings Australia into war.
Another argument put forward by the Attorney-General was that Mr. Pidding- ton, K.C., supports his views. Has he always agreed with the views of Mr. Piddington? Certainly not with those offered by Mr. Piddington on the Legislative Council of New South Wales, or in the Kisch-Griffin cases. But the Attorney-General is willing to quote Mr. Piddington now because that gentleman happens to support him at the moment.
This party, sprung from the loins of the common people, represents more fully than any other party the hopes and aspirations of the people and it believes that the people do not want this country to enter into what will be the worst war in history. Now at this last moment before Australia is led into war; now that the sands are running out, we ask the Government to retrace its steps. A vote for sanctions is a vote for war.
– The time allotted for the second reading having expired, the question is -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
. - When discussing the time limit placed upon this measure, I maintained that a sufficient period should be allotted to give every honorable member an opportunity to express his opinion. Some of us did not have that opportunity, so I propose to seize it now, and briefly explain to the committee my view of what Australia’s action should be in regard to the imposition of sanctions. Yesterday and to-day we heard sufficient evidence to warrant us in believing that the libraries of the world are filled with text-books containing essays and treatises on this subject. The diplomats and supposed diplomats of the world and legal and constitutional authorities have during the last six months been differing with one another over the interpretation of the word “sanction”. I believe that we should not have our minds made up through reading arguments advanced by supposed legal authorities on international questions, or be influenced in trying to reach a decision by the fear that we may repudiate some promise. We should not decide on a particular cause merely because we are afraid that we have entered into some obligations, which we may appear to be violating. I believe that we should carefully examine the sources of assistance that may be forthcoming for the enforcement of these sanctions. When we are discussing collective security and multilateral agreements, we should not allow ourselves to be carried away by the numerical strength of the League, but we should examine the value of the nations associated with the scheme of collective security. If we do, we must come to the conclusion that the statement that over 50 nations are pledged to collective security is mere piffle. When we thus carefully study the nature of those countries - some are mere appendages of nations - they dwindle down to one or two effective powers, and a survey of the international situation indicates that the British Empire will be completely isolated in the event of the application of force to give effect to the sanctions. I shall briefly examine the nature of the majority of the members of the League. The South American republics are a substantial number, and if the Cuban and Mexican republics, and countries such as Siam, Egypt, and others are added to them, their combined strength would not be equal to that of one of the quartette of fighting nations who are not members of the League. The Scandinavian countries, Norway and Sweden, together with the Netherlands and Denmark, have not been involved in war for decades, nor are they likely to be in the future, because they are too wise to be embroiled in hostilities. They will not take the risks of associating themselves in any effort to enforce sanctions. The honorable members for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) have admitted that Austria, Hungary, Albania, Czechoslovakia and others, which depend upon Italy’s friendship, have also stated in definite terms that they will not be parties to the application of sanctions. Thus, in the final analysis, only France, Great Britain and Russia are the effective members of the League; the remaining States could not make even a gesture of force against any one of the quartette of powers outside the League of Nations. It may be asked, what assistance can the British Empire expect from France? We have no need to refer to international jurists and to essays written in the last twelve months on international law to learn what is the attitude of France. Obviously, France realizes that its historical enemy, Germany, cannot be prevented from regaining its prewar strength and status during the next decade; and so France will take no risks likely to weaken its position. On more than one occasion, France has plainly told the British Government that it cannot afford to contribute any naval or military assistance to enforce sanctions. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) repeatedly interjected when pre- viously I alluded to Russia, which he regards as being a strong ally in the enforcement of the decision of the League. What assistance can Britain expect from Russia? In my opinion, Russia is potentially one of the greatest nations of the world. Within its borders are 160,000,000 people, whose education is being developed probably faster than that of any other nation. In the next decade or two, Russia will be one of the greatest powers in the world.
– Would it not be more accurate to call Russia a conglomeration of nations, because 189 languages are spoken?
– I admit the existence of many nationalities and languages. The Soviet Government, however, is gradually cementing the various peoples by modern methods of education. I repeat that the greatness of Russia is potential. It is not a force to-day. Postwar Russia has never been able to feed its own people according to the standard that its rulers have set themselves to attain, and, therefore, Russia has never been able to send any commodities to Italy during the last two decades, nor will it be likely to be in a position to export produce there in the space of the next two decades. Hence Russia can do nothing to inconvenience Italy or to enforce sanctions.
– Russia has only about 2,000,000 men under arms.
– Then the Minister for Defence is presupposing that coercion will be the only method of enforcing the sanctions. Because Russia has never had anything to export to Italy, it follows that it has nothing to withhold, and. so it will not count in the scheme of economic sanctions. I feel sure that the Russian Government would hesitate to export arms and ammunition for use in a European war. Whilst my political sympathy is entirely with Russia with its open door to democracy and against Italy with its door closed to democracy, yet my view is that as Russia could not help to enforce economic sanctions against Italy, or make any impression at all on that country, it cannot be considered as a factor in the present dispute. This means that Great Britain will have to depend upon its own strength on this as on many former occasions.
Surely we have a right to consider the facts of the ease. The honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) hates war, and I ask him whether he considers that Australia would be failing in its obligations if it carefully examined the true position before involving itself in the risks of war ? We must abandon the idea that the numerous small States affiliated with the League of Nations can play an effective part in enforcing economic sanctions. Japan, Germany, Italy and the United States of America are the four most powerful nations. Each of them is more powerful than Britain in respect of military, naval, and air forces, and any one of them would be more useful to Britain than the other 54 nations put together. Examining the situation from the practical point of view, we should halt, and ask whether we should be doing justice to our own people or to Britain by pretending that we could assist it to defy practically the rest of the world. To pass this legislation would be wrong, it would lead us to the very precipice of war.
– Does not the British War Office know our resources?
– Yes, and it probably does not place upon them such a high value as we seem to do. I do not desire to be misunderstood. Obviously, Britain, Italy and France have never ceased negotiations since the start of this trouble, and at least during the last year conversations have taken place with a view to arriving at a’ formula satisfactory to those three nations with regard to concessions in Abyssinia. It will be agreed, I think, that a considerable change has occurred in international relations in the last three months. The League of Nations was flouted by Germany, which was given the blessing of Great Britain in violating a Covenant to which Germany subscribed when it joined the League. Surely no honorable member doubts that British and German diplomats were agreed as to the action recently taken by Germany. Britain had to give a guarantee to France, and at the same time safeguard its own position, ny ranging itself beside the only nation with which it has common ties. Britain is not considering Australia or the League of Nations in its present action, nor is it prompted by sentimental motives; therefore we must oppose sanctions.
The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman-
– I rise to a point of order. In cases where the guillotine has been put into operation, and the time for discussion is very limited, I consider that in good taste, equity and fairness those who have not already had an opportunity to speak should receive the call. I refer, for instance, to my friend the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) who has not yet had a chance to speak.
– There is no provision in the Standing Orders that in allotting the call in committee, preference shall be given to an honorable member who has not spoken on the second reading. The Chair would certainly give preference to honorable members who had not already spoken, and had, in fact, ascertained the names of previous speakers.
– There are two or three points to which I wish to refer, particularly in reply to statements which have been made from the Opposition benches. One point refers to the position which arose in consequence of the handling by the League of Nations of the situation generally described as the Gran-Chaco dispute. -Some honorable members have taken the view that the League of Nations failed very seriously in its handling of that situation. I consider that they have not given consideration to the real facts. The position which existed in the Gran-Chaco was by no stretch of the imagination-
– I rise to a point of order. Standing Order No. 58 provides that no noise or interruption shall be allowed in debate. I therefore hope that I shall be listened to in silence, while I am stating my point of order.
– Order! The honorable member must state his point of order as briefly as possible.
– Standing Order No. 5S reads as follows: -
No member shall converse aloud or make any noise or disturbance whilst any member is sneaking, or whilst any bill, order, or other matter is being read or opened-
I draw particular attention to what follows - and in case of such noise and disturbance being persisted in after the Speaker has called to order, the Speaker shall call upon the member making such disturbance by name, and such member will incur the displeasure and censure of the House.
The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) has been a very striking example of the’ non-observance of that standing order.
– What is the honorable member’s point of order.
– My point of order, stated as briefly as possible, is that conversations and disturbances, as a protest against the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) being permitted to speak, have been allowed. The question is: What action do you, Mr. Chairman, propose to take ? Do you intend either to call upon the honorable member for Barker to resume his seat, or to deal with those who have caused disturbance ?
– The Chair regrets that the honorable member for Batman has only now become aware of the existence of the standing order which he has quoted.
– What clause of the bill is the committee considering?
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! Despite my frequent calls for order, honorable members have persisted in interjecting and preventing the honorable member for Barker from addressing the Chair. I name the honorable member for Batman for disregarding the authority of the chair.
– I should like to withdraw what I have said, and apologize.
– The Chair has named the honorable member for Batman.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) proposed -
That the honorable member for Batman be suspended from the service of the committee.
– The honorable member for Batman has expressed a desire to withdraw and apologize. I am quite sure that anything he did was quite inadvertent, and I therefore urge that the motion for his suspension be not persisted in.
– If I have offended, I tender an apology, and express regret.
– The Chair will accept on this occasion the apology of the honorable member.
Motion not further proceeded with.
– I rise to a point of order. The Standing Orders provide that, in committee, each honorable member may speak for fifteen minutes. The honorable member for Barker having commenced his speech at exactly half-past ten, his time has expired.
– The time of the honorable member for Barker has not expired.
– I wish, if I am permitted to do so, to deal with the position that arose in connexion with the Gran-Chaco dispute. I was making the point that, in relation to foreign affairs, certain conditions which apply in the United States of America do not operate in other parts of the world. The peculiarities are, first, the operation of what is known as the Monroe doctrine, and, secondly, the South American combination described as the A.B.C.P. powers. During the Gran-Chaco dispute the republics which were at war did not themselves desire the intervention of the League of Nations until the methods for the settlement of disputes–
Motion (by Mr. Brennan) put -
That the honorable member be not further heard.
The Committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
– If any honorable member desires further evidence that the passing of this measure means war, he will find it in the machinery clauses of the bill, which make possible a repetition of all the iniquities experienced by Australian citizens under War Precautions Act regulations made during the war years 1914-18. Innocent persons will be “ framed “ and “ railroaded “ to gaol on the false evidence of the “stool pigeons.” Under clause 5 action may be taken against any person who, in the opinion of a justice of the peace, has committed, or “ is likely to “ commit, an offence. It would be even possible for me or any member of this committee to swear an information against you, Mr. Chairman, against Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, or the Leader of the Opposition, alleging that you or they were likely to commit an offence. This and other machinery clauses of the bill are in keeping with the Government’s determination to launch this country into war. The power to make regulations gives the Ministry authority to do almost anything, even to order the confinement of Australian citizens in concentration camps, as was done during the last war.
– Any regulations made must not be inconsistent with the act.
– Let honorable members make no mistake about it, there will be nothing done inconsistent with the act when war starts, as it will assuredly start after the 18th November, the date fixed for the application of sanctions against Italy. It will be possible, under this measure, to “ frame “ Australian citizens just as members of the Independent “Workers of the World and of other organizations were “framed” during the Great War. Charges were laid against them, all the evidence against them was published in the press, and then the hearing of evidence for the defence was delayed until after the election, so as to ensure the return of the Government.
The right honorable member for North Sydney has shown clearly that the contention, of honorable members on this side of the committee that sanctions mean war is correct. I have no doubt that he gave away a Cabinet secret when he published this view. The right honorable gentleman has filled many roles in this country, and has had many and varied experiences; but I doubt whether he has ever before been hurled from office for telling the truth.
The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), in the course of his second-reading speech on this bill, tried to show that the League of Nations had been brought into existence in the interests of collective security, but that idea has long been exploded. The real purpose of the League is to provide a balance of power. President Wilson laid it down as a basic principle of the League of Nations that secret diplomacy must give way to open diplo macy; but that principle has been completely disregarded. “ Diplomat “ in fact is an agreeable substitute for “ liar “. The subtle and lying activities of secret diplomacy caused the world war of 1914, and so long as similar methods of negotiations are pursued by the nations of the world wars are certain to occur. To-day a new alignment of nations is being effected. Early this year, Great Britain, for the sake of its prestige, was forced to condemn Germany for dishonouring certain undertakings in the Treaty of Versailles; but now Great Britain is engaged in the drafting of a naval treaty with Germany. Prance and England have been operating together with the alleged object of. restoring peace between Italy and Abyssinia; but now Britain is in negotiation with Germany. A strong move is also being made to force France into unhappy relations with Italy, and so the unholy business of secret diplomacy goes on. The Bank of France and the Bank: of England are now taking a. hand in the war, and pressure is being brought to bear upon France to join with Germany in proposing peace terms to Abyssinia. The fact is, of course, that Abyssinia has already been partitioned out among the nations. The only purpose of the negotiations now being conducted is to save the face of Italy. The Italian Government will undoubtedly listen to peace terms so soon as the British elections are over; but the Abyssinian Government will not come into the picture at all, except passively. It will be interesting to read in the press very shortly the details of the agreement for the subdivision of Abyssinia, which, in my opinion, has already been approved by the big nations of Europe.
The logical processes by which some honorable members apposite formulate the opinions that they express in debates in this chamber are astounding to me. The honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) had a good deal to say about the wonderful supremacy of western civilization. He told us that if eastern civilization could even approach the standards of western civilization, war could be abolished, and he suggested to us that in eastern civilization we saw an example of the law of the survival of the fittest. But an examination of the his- torical records covering the last 200 years reveals that for one war started by an eastern country ten or fifteen wars have been started by western countries. This indicates to us clearly the terrible ‘results of secret diplomacy, and the balanceofpower policy which has been operating in Europe. Nothing could show the true ideals of eastern and western nations more conclusively than a report of the Disarmament Conference dated the 26th April, 1929, which indicates that a proposal to prohibit the use of bombs and poison gas in warfare, with the resultant destruction of the lives of countless women and children and other non-combatants, was supported by the so-called heathen Chinese, but resisted by the representatives of highly civilized Britain, America and Italy. These countries voted in favour of giving the scientists a free hand to prostitute their high calling and manufacture poison gas and other hellish brews for the destruction of human life. To the credit of the Dutch and German representatives it must be said that they supported the Chinese in opposing such a policy.
The history of warfare is enlightening to a high degree. Generations ago, wars of conquest were the order of the day. Then followed religious wars. Nowadays we have economic wars, and wars to secure spheres of influence. The war between Italy and Abyssinia has been started with the object of enabling certain nations to bring Abyssinia within the sphere of their influence. The day of the warrior, as he was known long ago, has gone. This is the day of the secret diplomat and the modern barbarian. We are always being told that we must protect ourselves against the evil acts of other nations, and that we must increase our armaments merely, I suppose, to satisfy the greed of those engaged in their manufacture. When war is imminent, as it is to-day, we are informed that we are the only nation anxious to secure peace while other nations are seeking war. We proceed, step by step, and are now asked to support the imposition of sanctions in order to ensure national security; but every successive step leads in the direction of war. When war is declared the cry goes forth that we shall be dishonoured and disgraced if we do not send our manhood to be slaughtered on the battlefields.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– Honorable members on both sides of the chamber have by now made quite clear the attitude they propose to adopt in connexion with the imposition of economic and financial sanctions. To me it is merely a question of whether we shall continue to honour our obligations to the League of Nations of which we are a member. There is only one course for us to follow, and that is to support the League. The general subject of war has been dragged into the debate, and there appears to be some difficulty in the minds of some honorable members in correlating war and peace, militarism and pacifism, authority and consent. In this connexion I should like to quote an article written by a famous Englishman, the Honorable Harold Nicholson, who was once associated with the Foreign Office. He sets out the position very clearly, and in particular I direct this to the attention of the honorable members for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and Denison (Mr. Mahoney) -
It would first seem necessary to persuade them that war and peace, that militarism and pacifism are not, as they imagine, two contradictory and mutually exclusive ethical systems, but that they represent two different stages in human progress. The fact that universal peace will only be attained after the passing of many human generations does not detract from its validity as an objective; it merely means that two or three more centuries will be required before that objective can be readied.
Perhaps that, is a very conservative statement. I am inclined to adopt a more hopeful view. He goes on to say -
All that we of the present generation can hope to do is to advance an inch or two closer to this far-off divine event, and I contend that in comparison with previous centuries we have made amazing progress in that direction within the last fifteen years. If, therefore, the public could be taught to approach the problem in terms of history rather than in terms of actuality, in terms of gradual ness rather than of impatience, in terms of evolution rather ‘ than in terms of immediacy, they would come to see that we are not engaged to-day in a conflict between two equally valid principles, but are passing through a transitional stage in which the principle of war is slowly dying and tlie principle of peace is slowly gathering life.
I commend that statement to the honorable member for Batman. Mr. Nicholson continues -
Once we could impart to them some such conviction it would be easier to persuade them that the middle course is far more logical, more necessary and more practicable than they suppose. One could argue that the static countries are compelled to protect themselves against the dynamic countries even when such protection implies the use of force. And one could insist that the distinction between defence and aggression is a distinction which is legitimate, recognizable and extremely useful. From such an argument the middle course would, I think, emerge with certain distinctness. The formula would be as follows: - The human race is progressing by gradual stages–
– The time allotted for the committee-stage of the bill has expired.
Question - That the bill be agreed to and reported without amendment - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment: report adopted.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a third time.
Not having previously spoken on this measure, I claim the right to make a few observations regarding some of the statements that have been made in the course of the debate. We have heard a constant repetition of two or three statements which, if they remain uncontradicted, are likely to give to the people of this country a wrong conception of what is intended and meant by sanctions. The statement that sanctions mean war, reiterated parrot-like, is in no sense true. Sanctions have been adopted as part of the policy of the League of Nations to which the Labour party subscribed in its earlier days, but when it comes to the test of putting that policy into operation, Labour members are prepared to dishonour the solemn obligations to which Australia is committed under the Covenant. That amounts to nothing less than repudiation on the part of those who agreed to the principle of the League of Nations, and who previously saw in the League the only instrument yet devised for the settlement of disputes by peaceful methods.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).Order! At the third reading stage, an honorable member is not entitled to reply to statements on the motion for the second reading or during the discussion in committee. He may only discuss the bill as reported from committee.
– I defer to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and shall do my utmost to keep within it. This bill provides for the imposition of sanctions in accordance with our obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations. It has been made abundantly clear by Great Britain that it is not intended to utilize force in connexion with the application of sanctions, and
Great Britain is exercising the utmost care to ensure that that policy shall he maintained. In the course of the committee debate-
– Order ! Debate in committee must not be referred to during debate in the House.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has said that the statement that these sanctions will be imposed by more than 50 nations is mere piffle, and that eventually Great Britain will be left alone to enforce the sanctions. This, despite the fact that British statesmen, competent to make an authoritative statement on this matter, have repeatedly said that Great Britain does not alone propose to use force in the application of sanctions. That has been . made clear over and over again; yet honorable members opposite have repeatedly stated that Great Britain is to act as the policeman of Europe.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is the Minister in order in replying to statements made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in committee ?
– I have already ruled that the Minister will not be in order in referring to the discussion in committee.
– I wish to emphasize the unanimity that has prevailed among the Labour parties in the other countries as to the wisdom and justice of the course being pursued by this Government. The New Zealand Parliament, which is partly composed of Labour men whose views on Labour principles are just as sound as those of any Labour man in this House, passed a Sanctions Bill unanimously. The British Trades Union Congress, which met at Margate in September of this year, carried a resolution in favour of the imposition of sanctions by the immense majority of 2,785,000 votes, 2,962,000 voting for and only a paltry 177,000 against the imposition of sanctions. This is not an imperialistic war.
If ever there was an issue in regard to which Great Britain acted a disinterested part, this is one.
If I wanted any evidence in support of this statement I would quote a man who is as good a Labour representative as any honorable member opposite, and will again be a prominent Labour man as soon as unity in the Labour movement is achieved. I refer to Mr. Arthur Griffiths, who was Minister for “Works in the Holman Administration. Recently he wrote a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald in which he said that the statement that the present conflict is an imperialistic war is a lie. I agree with him. I admit that there have been imperialistic wars in the past, but this conflict is not of that nature. Great Britain has never acted in a more disinterested manner than it is doing to-day in endeavouring to prevent war. Honorable members of all sections of this House are united in desiring that this country shall not be drawn into war. Great Britain is being applauded by all the nations of the world, including Germany, for its disinterested efforts. The best way to keep Australia out of war is to do as the Prime Minister has said - support Great Britain up to the hilt in its efforts to preserve peace. This conflict, in my opinion, represents a turning point of history. The issue we have to face to-day is whether we are to give the League of Nations the opportunity for which it was formed - an opportunity which members of all Labour parties throughout the British Empire have supported. “We have to decide whether we shall favour the settlement of disputes by peaceful means through the League, or whether we shall discard the League and return to the jungle method of tooth and claw which, quicker than any other policy, would involve the whole world in a holocaust.
.- This bill provides for the imposition of sanctions against Italy and in its machinery gives to the executive government of Australia powers equivalent to those which were vested in the Commonwealth Government during the last war under the “War Precautions Act. In every respect this measure gives such tremendous authority to the Government in carrying out the policy to which it is committed that it definitely reveals once more in the history of Australia the un- deniable fact that either the presence or the prospect of war excites the national government to take unto itself powers over the civil life of Australia which, if the premises upon which the speech of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) was based are valid, ought not to he necessary. Such an invasion of the civil rights of the people of Australia is irreconcilable with the declarations made repeatedly, particularly by the Minister for Defence, that this bill does not involve Australia in war. The honorable member has said that we should follow Britain. There is nothing at all contained in this matter to suggest that we should ‘follow any other nation, even Great Britain. The only obligation, if any exists, is for Australia to support the League of Nations. It is for us to exercise our own judgment as to the right and proper way for Australia to preserve its own interests, and it is for this country itself to consider what is the most appropriate contribution it can make towards securing, as early as possible, the cessation of hostilities in Abyssinia and the restoration of peace throughout the world. This bill, in the opinion of the Opposition, not only embroils Australia in a war which we have had no part in making, but also imperils the whole future of Australia by compelling us not alone on this issue but upon every other similar issue, whenever it arises, to become definite participants in aggression, against other countries. By the policy it embraces it will add to the number of our enemies actual and in prospect. Instead of making friends this measure will make foes for us on issues which we ourselves cannot solve. The honorable gentleman said that the Opposition had abandoned the League; the truth of the matter is that the League, during the whole of it.s history, for reasons beyond its competence, has never yet lived up to the expectations justifiably entertained regarding its functioning. When the honorable gentleman accuses us of abandoning the League, I ask him whether it is not a fact that throughout its history the imperialistic powers have crippled the League whenever it has. attempted to do any of the things it ought to have done. The honorable gentleman says that this bill is justified been ii to of what Italy has done. At the beginning of this year Italy gave to the League of Nations ample notification that it would have serious problems pressing upon it. in relation to Abyssinia; yet the League did nothing during the whole course of this year to satisfy Italy’s necessities or to correct the causes which Italy alleged to be the origin of its troubles.
– That does not justify inaction on our part now.
– Early this year the League was faced with a constructive task, but because it was dominated by powers with strong nationalist interests it did not essay that task. If we are to maintain peace, we must indeed meet the problems of peace. The League has never attempted to do that ; it has merely attempted to perpetuate the conditions of victory which followed the last war. The essential elements of peace in connexion with the present Abyssinian trouble or any other international dispute have been well stated on these terms -
No world settlement can maintain peace indefinitely which is incapable of being sufficiently modified for our time by peaceful means to meet new conditions and changing necessities.
If every existing frontier is to remain fixed for ever, and every existing sovereignty, whatever its character, guaranteed against modification, then an explosion is inevitable.
The League has never properly faced the task of making the Treaty of Versailles a just arrangement between the nations of the earth. Earlier in the debate on this measure, the real causes making for war were fully discussed and it was pointed out that the League has invariably evaded dealing with the causes of war by doing nothing to overcome conditions which inevitably breed war.
– That is ridiculous.
– Look at China and the whole of Europe. None of the quarrels and disputes which have marked European history since the last war has been tackled by the League. This is the first instance in which the League has attempted to formulate powers of coercion against a particular country.
– Why does not the honorable gentleman support it on that account?
– Because it would put Australia in the position of being a supporter of powers which to-day dominate the League not in the interests of world peace, but in order to maintain their own nationalistic interests.
I remind honorable members that during the debate on this bill references have been made to terms of peace which have been considered by the governments of France and Great Britain. This Parliament has been given no information about those terms, whether they were good, bad or indifferent. We have been compelled by the authority of the Government to proceed with our coercive policy against Italy without any information regarding what may be reasonable terms upon which Italy could be induced to withdraw its forces from Abyssinia. France and England objected to Italy’s doing for its own advancement what France and England have been proud to do for theirs. That being so, France and England should find a compensation for Italy; and it is in their interests, for peace is most in the interest of the most developed civilizations. Australia should not be dragged at the coat tails of all the disputing countries of Europe. This bill will be the first of a series of similar bills which the Parliament will have to consider. Is it imagined that the nature of mankind will be completely changed in an hour because we pass a bill of this description? The Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) has said that force is not intended. Why then, as the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) asked, has the British fleet been concentrated in the Mediterranean? I ask the Minister for Defence, who most appropriately moved the third reading of this bill, why, if it is not intended to use force against Italy, he has directed that the cruiser H.M.A.S. Sydney shall remain in the Mediterranean for service in the very centre of any trouble that may occur ?
– The answer is to preserve peace.
– All the arguments of the lawyers with regard to sanctions will be wiped out the instant the first shot is fired. It is only necessary that there should be one incident involving Australians on service in the Mediterranean and Australia will be involved in war with Italy. I object to the bill because it does an unprecedented thing in Australian history. It places us under an obligation to become for ever a party to the police system of Europe.
– The time allotted for the third-reading stage of the bill has expired.
Question - That the bill be now read a third time - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Host. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 11.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
en asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
en asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
e asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he indicate whether the Government has given consideration to the specific recommendation contained in paragraph 209 (pages 82, 83) of the second report by the Commonwealth Grants Commission, particularly the final sentence, which reads - “ An undertaking to finance some such scheme, approved by the Commonwealth technical advisers, seems to us the kind of additional help that Tasmania now needs “ ?
– The matter will receive the consideration of the Government.
n asked the Minister for Defence., upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Defence., upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 to 3. These matters are receiving consideration, but no finality has been reached.
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Shooting of Aboriginal: Commission of Inquiry.
Mr.Forde asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Postal Department : Transmission of Publicationsrefused.
Mr.archdaleparkhill. - On the 1st November the honorable member for
Kennedy. (Mr.Riordan) asked the following question, upon notice : -
Will he supply the House with the names of the newspapers whose transmission through the post has been refused on the ground that they have been deemed to be issued by, on behalf of, or in the interest of, unlawful associations ?
I am now in a position to furnish the following reply: -
The honorable member’s question relates to a matter which is at present the subject of litigation and it is not considered to be in the public interest that the informaion should be supplied at this stage.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 November 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1935/19351107_reps_14_147/>.