15th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. T. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– For some time past there has been considerable anxiety and agitation among the dairy producers of Australia concerning the rapid growth of the production of margarine. In* the press some weeks ago it was announced that this problem as it affects the dairying industry was listed for discussion and action after klm next meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council. When i* the next meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council? Is it proposed to discuss the effect on the dairying industry of the amazing growth of margarine production? If so, what attitude is the Government taking in respect of this urgent and important matter?
– I shall seek to obtain from the Minister for Commerce the information sought by the honorable member, and supply it to him.
– In view of the Government’s intention to establish a reserve of 90,000 returned soldiers for the purpose of defending Australia should the occasion arise, I ask the Minister for Defence the following questions : -
– The answer to the first two questions is, “ Yes “. My reply to the third question is that I am afraid I am unable to alter the arrangements already made.
CIVIL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation yet able to lay on the table of the House reports relating to Civil Aviation administration, or to make any statement in regard to the matter?
– The report relating to the Kyeema inquiry was laid on the table of the House by the Minister for Public Works and Civil Aviation, Mr. Thorby, on the 8th December last.
– That is not the report that I have in mind.
– There is another report of a committee specially set up by the same Minister to investigate and report on the administration of the Civil Aviation Board, the organization of the newly-created Department of Civil Aviation, and associated questions. This report I now lay on the table of the House. A third report of a purely confidential character, on personnel, was prepared for the information of the Minister.
– With regard to the reports in connexion with civil aviation mentioned by the Minister, will he see that the one on personnel is not treated as confidential, because without it honorable members will not be able to obtain a proper appreciation of the other two reports ?
– The report referred to by the honorable member was asked for as a confidential report by the Minister of the day, and, in my opinion, it would be entirely wrong for me to table it.
FLYING TRAINING SCHOOL AT WAGGA.
– I ask the Minister for Defence the following questions : -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been drawn to the statement attributed to the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) and published in the Sydney Morning Herald, suggesting that steps are likely to be taken to reduce the period of residence required before naturalization is granted? Is the Government considering any scheme for accepting at an earlier stage migrants who desire to train for defence but who are now debarred from doing so owing to naturalization being denied to them during a period of five years following their arrival in Australia ?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable gentleman has referred, but I inform him that there is no intention on the part of the Department of Defence to vary the present provisions of the Defence Act.
– In view of the many assaults on members of the Australian Journalists Association who hare endeavoured to take photographs of air force crashes, I ask the Prime Minister whether he, in company with the late Prime Minister, and also the Minister for Defence, on the 20th December lust met a deputation from the Australian Journalists Association and gave to it the guarantee that no repetition of such assaults would take place? If the right honorable gentleman were a party to that guarantee, how can he account for the brutal assault on the 28th April last on a member of the Australian Journalists Association at Riverstone, New South Wales?
– Order !
– Is the right honorable gentleman prepared to institute an impartial inquiry so as to ensure that there will be no repetition of such assaults on men who are endeavouring to render a public service by the illustration of news items?
– It is true that towards the end of last year - no doubt on the date mentioned by the honorable member - a conference did occur as he indicated. At that conference various matters, including the taking of press photographs, were discussed. It was then agreed that that was a matter that ought to be capable of solution by the exercise of common sense on both sides, and it was agreed that some attempt should be made to provide for that exercise. As for the latest incident, the matter has been in the hands of the Minister for Defence, who has, I believe, arranged to have a consultation about it with representatives of the Air Board and of the press, including a representative or representatives of the Australian Journalists Association. It is anticipated that, as the result of that consultation, some working rule will be evolved which will prevent any such incident in the future.
– Several years ago approval was given by the then Government to the naming of certain airports in Australia after some distinguished Australian flyers, as, for instance, Mascot after Sir Charles Kingsford Smith; Darwin, after Sir Ross Smith ; and Bundaberg, after Mr. Bert Hinkler. I understand, however, that the new names have never been gazetted. Will the Government give effect to the decision of a previous government and have the airports named after those distinguished airmen?
– I shall have the matter looked into and provide the honorable member with an answer.
– Has the Government given consideration to the advantage of the standardization of railway gauges, for defence against invasion in -respect of strategic concentration, the cessation of coastal shipping, the use of alternative ports consequent on a diversion of overseas shipping; and, if so, will .the Minister for Defence make a statement to the House on the decisions arrived at?
– In view of the -great importance to Australia of the reported statement by the Japanese Foreign Minister that the Japanese Government favours neutrality in the event of hostilities in Europe, can the Minister for External Affairs inform the House if he has official confirmation of this report?
– It is my intention to make a statement on foreign affairs at a later stage to-day. I shall then, as far as possible, cover the point raised by the honorable member.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to indicate to the House the exact time at which the proposed annuity to Dame Enid Lyons will be discussed ? I ask this question for the reason that, acting under doctor’s orders, I shall be absent from the sittings of the House for several days. I desire to be here when the matter referred to is brought forward, as the Government led by me dealt with it.
– The question of the right honorable gentleman provides me with an opportunity to indicate what the Government has in mind about the business of the House. To-day, as the right honorable gentleman knows, it is proposed that there shall be a discussion on foreign affairs. I hope that the ‘bill to which he refers will be before us to-morrow. I also hope to have ready for presentation to the House on Thursday morning second-reading speeches on two bills, one relating to the constitution and powers of the Department of Supply and the other dealing with the national register.
– In view of the reports in the press that the Government proposes to grant ‘assistance by tariff imposts for the production and manufacture of tinplate in Australia, will the Prime Minister give an assurance that no definite promise of tariff assistance will be given until the. matter has been inquired into and reported on by the Tariff Board, in accordance with the provisions of the Tariff Board Act?
– I am not in a position yet to make any statement in regard to the subject referred to by the honorable gentleman, but the earliest opportunity will be taken to inform the House as to what the Government has in mind.
Communications with Governor-General.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to say whether any communications in writing passed between his immediate predecessor and the Governor-General in relation to the change of Government; can he inform the House of the terms of the advice then tendered to the Governor-General, the circumstances which resulted in the Leader of the Opposition not being consulted in regard to the formation of a new Government, and also the circumstances leading up to the right honorable gentleman being sent for by the Governor-General? In accordance with the existing constitutional practice, as I understand it, will he make available for public information all communications of a public character relating to the formation of the new Government and the passing out of the Government which preceded it?
– I am not aware of any communications or recommendations in writing relating to the matter referred to by the honorable member, nor am I aware of the form or substance of any communications that passed between my immediate predecessor and His Excellency the Governor-General. All that I can say about the matter is that on a certain afternoon I was summoned to Government House, and was there asked by His Excellency whether I could undertake the formation of a government. I replied in the affirmative, and that reply appears to have been corroborated by subsequent events. Nothing passed in writing between His Excellency and myself; the substance of what passed between us is as I have set out.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he will have inquiries made in his department to see whether any written communications passed between his predecessor and the GovernorGeneral regarding the recent change of government? If so, will he lay any relevant papers on the table of the House for the information of honorable members ?
– I shall make inquiries into the subject and then consider the second portion of the honorable member’s question.
” IRON LUNG “ RESPIRATORS.
– On the5th May. the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) inquired as to the distribution of mechanical respirators for Empire hospitals made available through the generosity of Lord Nuffield. I am now in a position to inform him that 198 units have been ordered for Australian hospitals, for distribution as under: Queensland, 39; New South Wales 96; Victoria,18; South Australia, 24; Western Australia, 12; Australian Capital Territory, 1; Northern Territory, 2; New Guinea, 3; and Norfolk Island, Nauru and Ocean Island, 1 each. The honorable member also asked that the specific hospitals to which they would be sent should be indicated. The following statement gives the names of such hospitals : -
Auburn District, Auburn (St. Josephs), Balmain, Canterbury, Eastern Suburbs, Hornsby, Lewisham, Manly, Marrickville, Muter Misericordiae (North Sydney), Parramatta. Rachel Forster for Women and Children, Renwick (Infants), Royal Prince Alfred, Royal South Sydney, Royal Women’s, Hyde (Soldiers’ Memorial Institute), St. George (Kogarah), St. Vincent’s, Western Suburbs, Women’s (Crown-street, Sydney). Surf Life-saving Association of Australia (Sydney), three units.
Albury, Armidale and New England, Balranald, Bathurst, Bega, Bellinger River, Bingara, Bourke, Bowral (Berrima), Broken Hill, Bulli, Casino, Cessnock, Coff’s Harbour, Collarenabri, Condobolin, Cooma, Coonamble, Cootamundra, Corowa. Crookwell, Deniliquin, Dubbo, Forbes, Gilgandra, GlenInnes, Goulburn District, Goulburn (St. John of God), Grafton, Grenfell, Griffith, Gunnedah, Hay, Hawkesbury, Inverell, Junee, Katoomba (Blue Mountains), Kurri Kurri, Kyogle, Leeton, Lismore, Lithgow, Macleay, Maitland, Manilla, Molong, Moree, Mudgee, Mungindi, Murrumburrah-Harden, Murwillumbali (Tweed), Muswellbrook (Brentwood), Narrandera, Newcastle Mental, Parkes, Portland, Queanbeyan, Scone (Scott), Singleton (Dangar Cottage), Tamworth, Taree (Manning River),Temora, Wagga (Lewisham), Walgett, Wallsend, Waratah (Mater), Warren, Wellington, Wentworth,Wollongong, Wyalong, Young.
Blackall, Bowen, Brisbane (General), Brisbane (Mater Misericordiae), Bundaberg, Cairns., Charleville, Charters Towers, Childers (Isis Hospital), Cloncurry, Cracow, Emerald. Gayndah, Gladstone, Goondiwindi, Gympie, Herberton, Hughenden, Innisfail, Ipswich, Kingaroy, Longreach, Mackay, Marceba, Mossman, Mr Mundubbera, Nanango, Richmond, Rockhampton, Roma, Stanthorpe, Toowoomba, Townsville, Warwick.
Saving Society), Banners, Clare, Cleve, Cow ell, Hawker, Jamestown, Kapunda, Kimba, Minlaton, Murat Bay, Murray Bridge, Northfield (Infectious), Narracoorte, Pinnaroo, Peterborough, Port Augusta, Renmark, Streaky Bay, Victor Harbour (South Coast), Wallaroo, Whyalla, Wudinna.
– In view of the fact that the labour disputes at Darwin have culminated in a strike, can the Minister in charge of External Territories say whether steps are being taken to send Mr. Hill to Darwin, by aeroplane, to be chairman, of a local industrial tribunal similar to that which already exists in the Australian Capital Territory at Canberra and Jervis Bay?
– So far as I am aware, no steps have been taken to send Mr. Hill to Darwin, for the reason that it is not deemed necessary to do so. No government employees are involved in the strike which has taken place; they are honorably fulfilling the conditions agreed to by them in December last. The men who are on strike are working for contractors. I understand that a conference is being arranged with a view to their differences being setttled.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs had an opportunity to peruse the report submitted by officers of his department in connexion with the ship-building industry? Can lie say whether his predecessor arrived at any decision with regard to it? Will he lay that report upon the table of the House ?
– The answer to the first two questions is, “ No “. I assure the honorable member that I shall have that report thoroughly studied and brought before Cabinet as soon as possible. I shall then make a statement on the matter.
– Does the Minister for Civil Aviation intend to give the House any details concerning the rationalization of commercial aviation? If so, when can that information be expected ?
– I hope to be able to make a statement on this matter to the House next week.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the activities in South Australia with the object of tapping the River Murray at Morgan with the idea of supplying water to areas and towns between Morgan and Whyalla, where a blast furnace is to be erected, the Commonwealth Government will cooperate with the Government of South Australia and other States in augmenting the storage supplies? I point this out because of fears that the river may go dry. The engineers stated that it would have been dry this year only for the locking system.
– Any request that is made by the Government of South Australia in relation to that matter will undoubtedly be considered by the Commonwealth.
– In fairness to the large number of individuals who have joined the staff of the National Insurance Commission, and also in view of the expenditure incurred by the Commonwealth Government on the commission, can the Minister for Social Services indicate at a very early date the intentions of the Government with respect to national insurance ?
– The Prime Minister has already intimated to the House that at a very early date he will be able to make a statement along the lines requested by the honorable member.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral undertake to give the House ample opportunity to discuss performing rights, fees and morals, before signing the agreement in respect of broadcasting levies, which his predecessor refused to sign?
– The whole of that matter is under consideration, and at a very early date I shall be able to supply the information sought by the honorable member.
– The reply given by the Postmaster-General to the honorable member for Hume was not clear to me. I wish to know whether the Government intends to give the House an opportunity to discuss the subject of performing rights before any new agreement is signed with the Australasian Performing Right Association ?
– I think I made my meaning perfectly clear. The whole matter warrants very careful consideration by the Government before any decision is made.
– But will the House be given an opportunity to discuss the subject?
– That will depend entirely upon the result of the Government’s consideration.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce state what is the present trade position as between Australia and what was Czechoslovakia? Has the trade treaty which was entered into by Australia with that country lapsed since Czechoslovakia was swallowed by Germany?
– I shall pass on the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Commerce and convey the Minister’s reply to him.
– I understand that the Defence Board proposes to establish an additional naval base. In view of the opinions expressed recently by naval experts that the port of Hobart, owing to its natural protection, has the best claims for consideration in this respect, will the Minister for Defence call for an immediate report from the naval authorities on this matter, or, alternatively, will he institute an inquiry to determine which is the best port for the establishment of a naval base ?,
– Should it be decided to establish an additional naval base, no doubt the claims of the port which the honorable member has so eloquently (Inscribed will receive consideration.
– In view of the negotiations which have taken place between Great Britain and the United States of America concerning the importation of considerable quantities of wheat by Great Britain, have any representations been made by the Commonwealth Government to arrange for similar sales of wheat to Great Britain?
– I am not able, of course, to say whether the suggestion contained in the honorable member’s question has already been acted upon, but I shall refer the matter to the Minister for Commerce and convey the reply to the honorable member.
– Has the Attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to an article which appeared in the last issue of the Sydney Sunday Sun, entitled “ Youth condemned to unemployment “, written by Mr. McGuinness, Deputy President of the New South Wales Teachers Federation, in which he points out the utter hopelessness confronting the youth of Australia upon leaving school so far as obtaining training in our technical trades and professions is concerned? As this matter is of national importance, will the Government take it up with the various State governments with a view to evolving a scheme whereby the youth of Australia can be so trained in order that every boy, upon leaving school, may be given a hopeful outlook in life?
– I have not seen the article referred to, but I shall be glad if the honorable member will let me have a copy of it. I assure him that the matter he has raised will be considered.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior tell me whether it is proposed to put any new works in hand in the near future with the object of absorbing some of the unemployed unskilled workers in our midst?
– I am unable to supply the information offhand, but I shall have inquiries made and later furnish the honorable member with an answer to his question.
Publication of New Volume
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that on the 19th July, 1937. his department advised Customs agents in Queensland that it anticipated issuing a new volume of customs regulations in about three months from that date? Seeing that two years have since elapsed and the new volume has not yet been made available, will the Minister inquire into the reasons for the delay and expedite the publication of the new volume?
– I shall have the fullest inquiries made and advise the honorable member of the result at an early date.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce advise me whether the sittings of the international conference of wheat exporters and importers has concluded? Has the honorable gentleman any information that he can give the House concerning the deliberations of the conference? If not, when does he expect to be in possession of such information?
– The conference is still in session. As soon as the results of its deliberations are available, honorable members will be advised.
– I direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the position of the Commonwealth Bank Bill on the notice-paper, and its association with the Inter-state Commission Bill and the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill - I doubt whether the Government intends to proceed with either of those bills this session, and I ask if significance is to be attached to the low position of the Commonwealth Bank Bill? Does the Government intend to proceed with this measure this session?
– The Commonwealth Bank Bill is number eight on the noticepaper, but four of the items which precede it are of a minor character. No significance need be attached to the present position of the Commonwealth Bank Bill on the notice-paper. It is the intention of the Government to proceed with that measure.
– This session?
– I hope so.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the system of youth vocational training subsidized by the Commonwealth which has been in operation in New South Wales has been discontinued? Will he ascertain the reason for this action?
– I shall have inquiries made into the subject.
– As the centenary of Darwin will be celebrated next September. I ask the Postmaster-General whether he will favorably consider issuing a special stamp to mark the occasion?
– I shall consider the suggestion.
– As the Prime Minister is enthusiastically in favour of the re-introduction of universal training in Australia, I ask him when the Government will make a statement on this important subject?
– The question relates to a matter of policy. The policy of the Government will be dealt with in the usual way by a statement in the House on an appropriate occasion.
– I cannot say when.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether negotiations have been opened for an extension of the trade agreement between Australia and Japan, which expires on the 30th June next?
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs able to say whether or not the Government has decided to re-impose the embargo on New Zealand potatoes after the 20th May?
– The question relates to Government policy.
– I lay on the table the Annual Report of the Department of External Affairs for the year 1938, and move -
That the report be printed.
In doing so, I ask the indulgence of honorable members while I make a statement upon current foreign affairs, after which the Government invites general debate. In the view of the Government, it is desirable that opportunities for expression of views upon foreign affairs be more frequent than hitherto. The time has come when Australia should show a keener interest, and play a larger part, in discussions and consultations upon foreign affairs, and especially, as my right honorable leader (Mr. Menzies) has already said, in the affairs of the Pacific.
This annual report was of course prepared before my coming into office; the ministerial responsibility for it rests upon my right honorable friend, the present Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes), and it contains a foreword from his gifted pen.
It is, as I think honorable members will agree, a sound production, and presents a vivid and accurate picture of the international affairs of a notoriously interesting and fateful year. As it has already been distributed to honorable members, I shall say no more of it than this: it reflects the high level of zeal and capacity of the staff of the External Affairs Department. This department is the Cinderella, I think, of our permanent departments, but it has already become distinguished by the quality of its work in a field in which standards throughout the world are high.
The House might be interested in one or two personal impressions gathered during a fortnight’s intensive reading of what might be termed the inside story of the international moves over the last fortnight and the preceding two or three months. The first impression onereceives in this office to-day would give satisfaction to any serious-minded Australian. The information which comes to the Commonwealth hour by hour over the period of each day in which overseas telegrams are received is remarkable for its range and detail. All that is of the least importance upon current foreign affairs is known in Canberra a few hours after it has been handled by the British Foreign Office. This means that the vital points of every despatch from the United Kingdom Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Lord Halifax, to his Ambassadors and Ministers are also telegraphed forthwith to the Commonwealth Government. On the other side, every pertinent fact, opinion or view which reaches the Foreign Secretary from his Ambassadors and Ministers is immediately re-telegraphed to us. This diplomatic service is not confined to the activities of the British embassies and legations, but includes a multitude of reports from consuls and agents spread not only throughout Europe and parts of Asia but also over many countries even further afield.
The Commonwealth Government has four channels of advice always in operation. Officers of the External Affairs Department in London, who have direct access to all Foreign Office sections, despatch with speed the most important news ; the Dominions Office communicates a somewhat fuller story; the High Commissioner in London (Mr. Bruce) reports at once upon his consultations with British Ministers; and the many representatives abroad of the Commerce Department frequently add information of particular interest and value to Australia. Further, it is now the practice with the concurrence of the British Government for the Commonwealth to address communications direct to the embassies, legations and consulates in every foreign country upon matters of Australian concern.
One’s next impression comes from a very vigilant scrutiny in which every new Minister of this department would, under the present conditions in Europe, at once engage. I have, as I am sure any honorable member in my position would do, examined every despatch and other document in quest of the motive behind the minds of the anti-aggression countries of Europe in their present efforts, under the leadership of the Government of the United Kingdom, to come together in a supreme effort to resist further trespass by the two totalitarian states.
Out of such a scrutiny comes not only the impression, but also the entire conviction, that the motive is peace, and peace only. In no phrase or word, or in the spirit of all this inside information, is there a semblance of anything but defensiveness. There is not a breath that suggests that there is in the democratic countries, which are endeavouring to get together, anything but the desire to be left alone, so that they may go their peaceful, happy ways.
Throughout all these recorded conversations and consultations between the defensive nations, there is an ardent, almost a pathetic desire and prayer for peace. This is not, I think, to be attributed to fear of the Fuhrer of Germany or the Duce of Italy, and their vast armed legions and various hideous engines of destruction. It is due to the fear of modern war. All or nearly all of the powers of Europe concerned in the negotiations of the moment have been through, the horrors of modern conflict and the almost equal punishment which attends the so-called victor and the actually vanquished.
Indeed, fear of actual war even by the dictator nations is the strongest factor that is working for peace. All available information indicates that if to-day public opinion had a chance to express itself, peace would run its pleasant, fruitful course in Europe for a long time to come. Even in Germany and Italy a secret and fair ballot would reveal a majority for peace by negotiation not less than such a vote would show in Australia itself.
But, although that is undeniable, all of the inside news points to the fact that, while the German people pray for peace even as we do, they are to-day the slaves of a dictatorship as absolute as any that Asia ever knew in dark and ancient days. Whatever they hope or think, they will respond to the call of Hitler ; and what is in Hitler’s mind from day to day few people know.
It would, therefore, be presumptuous and idle to advance an opinion to honorable members and Australia as to whether the near future holds for us peace or war. But it is, perhaps, legitimate for me on behalf of the Government to bring again to light certain- facts which seem to bear upon the endeavour of us all to probe the momentous secret of the days close ahead. When we are disposed to take a gloomy view of the present crisis, we should not overlook that we have been living in a similar and sometimes an even more acute state of crisis for nearly four years, and so far have escaped general European and world war.
During Italy’s conquest of Abyssinia, there were days of danger of a general international clash quite as acute as those of the moment. The same comment can be fairly made of many phases of the Civil War in Spain, of the absorption of Austria by Germany, of the destruction of Czechoslovakia, and the invasion of China. During each of these affairs there were numerous incidents which, prior to 1914, must almost inevitably have led to general warfare in Europe, but which, because of the dread of modern war between great powers that has haunted all responsible minds since 1918, have been more or less ignored by the affronted and injured third parties. This disposition not to accept incidents as justification for a declaration of war marks, perhaps, the most noteworthy, advance towards the maintenance of peace among the nations.
Certainly the mind of Signor Mussolini, appears, at the moment, susceptible to the fear of the terrible consequences of real war between great European equals. Of the mind of Herr Hitler, nothing is certain. But this is undeniable. Both these dictators, but especially Hitler, will take all they can by bloodless mobilization and demonstration against any weak neighbouring country which .they have previously fomented by insidious influences into a state of unrest and demonstrations against Germany or Italy, or German or Italian nationals.
Further, in Hitler’s mind international morality is not of a kind familiar in other countries. His undertaking at Munich to be content with the gain of Sudetenland was broken only a few months later. His avowal that he coveted no country peopled by non-Germans has proved of equal worth.
– That statement does not seem to be very helpful.
– Germany is now frankly mobilized on the grand scale for the overrunning and acquisition of any near country which excites its cupidity.
Mr.Curtin. - I imagine that Mr. Chamberlain will not thank the Minister for this speech.
– The Leader of the Opposition will have an opportunity to make his comments in due course. I invite the honorable gentleman to study the speech made by Mr. Chamberlain at Birmingham quite recently. The objective of Germany is no longer a professed and almost religious impulse to attach to the Reich Germans, who, as Hitler has so often declared, were dwelling in an agony of mind, and suffering discriminating treatment under an alien government. The objective has become purely material, and conquest is openly planned for the glorification of Germany and the gain of currency reserves, productive soil, oil wells, or anything else which in Hitler’s mind is necessary or desirable to the Fatherland. So Austria was overrun without the firing of a shot.
– Is the Minister disappointed that there was no bloodshed?
– So Czechoslovakia was dismembered. Soin recent weeks Roumania, Poland and certain Balkan countries have been threatened.
Beyond reasonable doubt, without unity among themselves and support from outside, all of these peoples made up of distinctive races and possessed of national independence would, with their vast aggregate manpower and resources, have been gathered under the dominion of Germany, or in some degree of Italy.
Standing alone they would one by one have gone the way of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Albania. Eastward and south-eastward there would, as all evidence and information go clearly to show, have been no halt by land to the triumphant march of the totalitarian hosts.
And what next? With each unprincipled acquisition so far made, the tension between Germany and Italy on the one side, and the only two powers for whom they have military respect, Britain and France, on the other, has increased. With each future stage - I would emphasize the word “ future “ - in the overthrow of the lesser democracies by Germany and Italy, the feeling between the two major groups must have intensified. Present in every thinking mind in Western Europe was the enlarging thought that the time would come in the not distant future when Germany and Italy, enriched and strengthened beyond measure by their eastern and southeastern gains, would have turned their minds and forces westward.
It is disclosing no secret to say that in very recent months, even weeks, there has been profound concern for Holland, Switzerland, Belgium and even Denmark. A Germany supported by Italy, and astride the manpower and war-making material of Europe from the frontiers of Russia, the Black Sea and the Dardanelles to the North Sea coastline, was not a picture painted by British and French and even American minds in any moment of panic. It was a very potential reality, and I need not dwell upon its significance to Australia and the other dominions.
The acts of Germany and Italy during the last eight months, their open plans of to-day, and the speeches of their leaders, made their dream and intention clear to all the world. The realization of the position has moved the governments of the United Kingdom and of France into action. Britain, with a spirit of leadership consistent with its place in the world, has initiated and led in an attempt to bring about a temporary unity among those countries which, standing singly in isolation, appeared to be doomed to the loss of their nationhood and independent soul by the ruthless sweep of Germany and
Italy. Alone in some cases, in collaboration with France in others, the British Government has promised instant and the fullest possible aid to the threatened lands, and at the same time British diplomacy has worked as it has never worked before to bring those countries together as a united force to resist the dictators. Some may say that this attempt is belated, but that would be to disclose lack of appreciation of the deep-rooted difficulties to be overcome if defensive unity is to be even substantially achieved.
The countries of Eastern Europe and (he Balkans are not easily merged for a common purpose. Even six weeks ago an attempt to bring them together in a common resistance to the dictators would probably have totally failed. For many years they have been among themselves scarcely close friends. At least this is true of some of them. Territorial argument has been strong among them. Not until the shadow of the mobilized and marching legions of Germany began to deepen over them one by one, did it become opportune for Britain to attempt their combination for their common Salvation.
According to the Government’s latest advices, the progress made in this great Anglo-French attempt is this: Honorable members will understand that the basis . of all these negotiations is the AngloFrench unity. The United Kingdom and France have guaranteed the integrity and independence of Belgium. France and Britain have entered into an obligation with Poland whereby, in the event of aggression to which Poland offers resistance, they will at once intervene. Poland has entered into reciprocal obligations to Britain and France. Great Britain end France have given the same undertaking to Greece and Roumania. Turkey and Britain are engaged in negotiations marked by promise of success.
The position with respect to Russia is at this moment complicated and obscure. From the outset of the swift negotiations, the urgent need for fitting the Soviet into the defensive scheme has been strong in the minds of the British and French Governments. But the obstacles to be overcome before this could be accomplished have been great indeed.
For example, Germany has been quick to declare to -the world, and especially to her own people, that the Anglo-French attempt to form a purely defence bloc is, in reality, a move to bring about a potentially offensive encirclement of Germany. If Russia were to become engaged in an .actual temporary defensive alliance with the United Kingdom and France, colour would be given to Germany’3 assertion. Then, neither Roumania, Poland nor lesser Baltic countries would look with easy minds upon an unlimited transit of their countries by Russian armies in the event of war.
– The Minister is referring to the Balkan countries?
– Yes, but Esthonia is mentioned in to-day’s cables. There is, too, the Japanese consideration, and the danger that a positive military alliance, however defensive and temporary, between Russia, the United Kingdom and France might possibly drive Japan into a similar opposing alliance with Germany and Italy. M. Litvinoff, the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, has gone suddenly into retirement, and down to this morning there was no specific news of the negotiations proceeding with the Soviet.
Over the week-end the newspapers have published messages which indicate hopeful developments with respect to both Italy and Japan. In some degree this news is supported by advice received by the ‘Government, but as yet it is not actually confirmed.
Nevertheless, the available information taken on balance does suggest that neither Japan nor Italy would be eager participants in a world war against the non-aggression countries. To them an arresting point must be that at the moment the democracies are a force of unknown dimensions, and that this is true not only of Europe, including Russia, but - what is of high significance - also of the Pacific.
A thought which is ever present in the minds of the parties to the AntiComintern Pact is that American sympathy is strongly with the democratic nations; that America was eventually moved to enter the last world war, with all its vast man power and resources; that America is arming upon an unprecedented scale, and has an unparalleled purse upon which to draw; that President Roosevelt has advanced his famous proposals for settlement by negotiation; and that relations are strained between the President and the Fuhrer, their respective Ambassadors being still absent from their posts. A further consideration common to both Japan and Italy is that neither is in a robust economic or financial position. Both might well be in favour of peace by conference rather than by war.
I wish shortly to dwell upon the situation of Japan in relation to the British Empire. I venture to submit two questions to this honorable House and to Japan. They are: Why, in the event of wai1, or even in these days in which wc live under the shadow of war, should J apan prefer its new friends in the AntiComintern Pact, to its far older friends throughout the British Empire? Why should there bo at this moment in Japan a powerful school of thought - though fortunately a minority school - urging that the Anti-Comintern Pact to which Japan is a signatory should be hardened into a military alliance? These are very important questions not only to Japan and to the people of Australia and the whole of the British Empire, but also to the 130,000,000 people who make up the United States of America. Why should Japan enter upon a war - I do not suggest that it will, and the latest news from Japan declares that it will not - which would be of incalculable proportions and dangers to it in the Pacific; a war in which only two things would be certain : First, that Japan could never emerge from it with victory; and secondly, that all the combatants would suffer incalculable loss of young manhood and every kind of prolonged economic and social punishment. I venture strongly to suggest that these questions are to-day in the minds of the statesmen of Japan, and of a great majority of its people. I venture also to believe that strong in the Japanese mind is the reflection that its closest and most trusted and trusty friends from the date of its famous revolution and all through its marvellous rise to world greatness until very recent years, were the peoples and the governments of the British Empire. I venture further to affirm that Japan has to-day a vivid consciousness that it was happier and more at rest, and indeed safer, with its old friend and ally than with its new ones. On our side we greatly valued that old friendship; and whatever the future may hold for us, we and our children after us will never cease to honour Japan for the wholehearted way in which it honoured its partnership in the AngloJapanese Treaty during the dark days of the world war.
Not without some confidence does the Commonwealth Government, of. which at the moment I am the mouthpiece, look forward to a nearer and more auspicious relationship with ‘the great Japanese people than that which prevails to-day.
Turning to Italy, one finds it uncommonly hard to believe that Signor Mussolini will, apart from other considerations, gamble his wonderful services to his people by leading them into a war, or by having them dragged into one by Germany. Mussolini found Italy after the war dejected, exhausted, divided against itself and in danger of collapse and partition. Within less than twenty years, by his genius, his patriotism, and his irresistible stimulus and almost superhuman capacity, he has lifted his country to a proud place among the first-class powers. Will he fling this superb achievement into the flames of war?
And of Herr Hitler. Those who believe war to be inevitable will turn to the Fuhrer’s broken bonds, his descent upon Austria, his smashing up of Czechoslovakia, his treatment of the Jews, and his apparent intention to dominate Ronmania and Poland, if he could carry it through without general warfare. But against the dark deeds of this phenomenal man, there is to his credit, as there is to the credit of Mussolini, a great and shining record of service to his people. He found the mighty German race broken, helpless, leaderless, and in despair. Within seven years he has restored to them their pride and their power, and disclosed to them, provided they are not again shattered and impoverished by war, a near future of great glory. Will Hitler, now that it is made plain to him that bloodless mobilization, demonstration and intrigue, will no longer win him enlarged dominion, pause and consolidate his Germany, and give to it early prosperity and riches by relieving it of the crushing burden of armaments? Or will he lead the German hosts of youth into the shambles of a gigantic general war from which there can be victory or profit for none, but out of which must come infinite sacrifice and a long, long train of grief and suffering for at least half the peoples of the world?
Is the decision to be war, or the conference table? To that question I venture no reply. But I go so far as to express the view that, from the information in the hands of the Government, every day’s peace from this moment onward is a better day in its prospect.
Honorable members will have read of the further formal consolidation of the military alliance between Germany and Italy. In the opinion of the Commonwealth Government, this step is of little significance, except perhaps in that it may be interpreted as an expression of concern by the dictators at the progress of the development of the defensive bloc. The two signatories to the renewed bond declare it to be an instrument with a peaceful purpose. One ventures to voice the view that it lies within the hands of Germany and Italy to restore peace to Europe and to the world at any moment. Let them but make a sincere gesture for the settlement of their grievances by negotiation, and the response from all countries would be immediate. They are not asked to surrender prestige or to enter into conference as supplicants. Let them but suggest a solution by means other than by arms, and the attitude of the leading democracies would perhaps surprise them by its reasonableness, and even by its generosity.
In conclusion, I turn to the most vital consideration of all to the Australian people, and that is the decision which must at once be made by the Commonwealth in the event of the Government of the United Kingdom becoming engaged in a war arising out of the present situation. In the course of his broadcast speech to the nation on the 26th April, the Prime Minister used words which were of such profound importance that they should be repeated again and again. He then said -
The peace of Great Britain is precious to us, because her peace is ours; if she is at war, we are at war, even though that war finds us not in European battlefields, but defending our own shores. Letme be clear on this:I cannot have a defence of Australia which depends upon British sea power as its first element; I cannot envisage a vital foreign trade on sea routes kept free by British sea power, and at the same time refuse to Britain Australian co-operation at a time of common danger. The British countries of the world must stand or fall together.
With the concurrence of my right honorable leader, I point out that these words are not to be interpreted to mean that in any and every set of circumstances the foreign policy of a government of the United Kingdom, if it led to war, should or would automatically commit Australia to participation in that war. Nor do they mean that action taken by a government of the Commonwealth in any and every set of circumstances, and leading to war, should or would automatically commit the United Kingdom to participation in that war. It is conceivable that upon either side a policy might be adopted which met with strong disapproval or condemnation by the other government. But in the circumstances in which the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the Commonwealth find themselves to-day there is no sort of disagreement. On the contrary, there is the most complete unanimitybetween the two governments as to the policy which is being followed, and as to any action which may arise out of that policy. The Commonwealth Government is fully satisfied that recent actions and the prevailing dispositions and certain preliminary moves of the totalitarian nations of Europe constitute a near and grave menace not only to the United Kingdom, but also to Australia and to the democracies of the world as a whole and to all institutions and traditions that stand for freedom. This Government has been fully advised of everystep taken by the Government of the United Kingdom, and fully consulted throughout the long and perilous ordeal of the last few years, including the last few weeks. The Commonwealth Government is satisfied beyond any doubt that the United Kingdom and the democracies associated with it have no intention other than one that is purely defensive against aggression. If, therefore, in pursuance of this policy, the Government of Britain is at any moment plunged into war, this Government will, on behalf of the Australian people, make common cause with the Mother Country in that war.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - agreed to.
That Standing Order No. 119 be suspended to enable the debate to proceed without interruption.
– The Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett), whom I take this first opportunity to compliment on his re-inclusion in the Government after what I shall describe as a periodical absence from it, as a very distinguished journalist sadly missed the advantage of an editor, for his statement contains many phrases which could have been expressed less provocatively.
– The schoolmaster again !
– Further, if the Minister looks at his statement again, he will find that it contains passages which in their implication are contradictory. He said, for instance, that the people of Germany and Italy are enslaved by a dictatorship, and then he proceeded to offer compliments to the leaders of those two countries when, in effect, he said that they deserved to have the united adherence of the people. That mixture of condemnation and admiration would have been avoided had the honorable gentleman confined himself to a statement on the international situation as it does exist, and of the part which the Australian Government has played in connexion with it. It is not necessary for this Parliament to be told that the world is in a perilous era, or that the chief causes of this situation are the policies being pursued by Germany, Italy and Japan. In order to justify to their own people the course that they have taken, the leaders of those countries would probably blame happeningsantecedent to the present situation, for which the democracies will frankly admit that they have a. degree of responsibility. The Minister went on to say that if Italy and Germany would make a genuine gesture of their readiness to discuss their difficulties openly, and in a way that will enable the negotiations to proceed, those totalitarian States would be surprised at the generosity with which the democracies would meet them. I myself believe that that is the case. I say sincerely that there can be no man of good disposition in any part of the world who would not go as far as is possible to ensure success for such negotiations if they were honestly entered upon. To the extent that the Australian Government or the Governments of the Dominions or of the United Kingdom can foster the spirit of goodwill towards negotiations as a means whereby the present difficulties between nations can be overcome, there is, I venture to say, an obligation upon them which the peoples of those countries would insist on them discharging in the highest degree.
The statement which the honorable gentleman has read is of great value, notwithstanding that there are in it passages which I myself would not have used ; I say that without any reflection on the honorable gentleman. He said, further, that there are four sources from which the Commonwealth Government derives its information. We know that, recently, the Government has intimated its intention to establish legations in certain countries where it believes that Australia should have direct diplomatic representation. For my part, I agree with the step that is contemplated. I believe that it will be of advantage to Australia to have, in Tokio and Washington, officers of training and capacity who will have a direct and exclusive responsibility to the Commonwealth Government. I make no reflection upon the other sources of information upon which the Department of External Affairs draws from time to time, but I believe that there would be a greater degree of confidence on the part of the Australian people if they knew that the information upon which important decisions were to be made by the Australian Government was information gathered and verified by men who have no responsibility for colouring it in order to justify policies pursued by governments other than our own. Australia is an autonomous nation within the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the final passages in the Minister’s statement make it clear that the responsibility for participation in any war. however that war arises-
– It is a responsibility which this Parliament must take, and for which this Government is responsible. The qualification attached to the quotation from the broadcast speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is a qualification which squares entirely with the conception of Australia’s position as held by the Opposition. I could almost repeat the statement of the honorable gentleman and say that whatever be our obligation as a constituent member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, that obligation is one for us to measure and for this Government and this Parliament to determine, because our membership of that commonwealth of nations does not automatically commit Australia to participation in war.
– Hear, hear! I made that perfectly clear.
– I, too, make it perfectly clear. Upon this point, which is fundamental to the conception of Australia’s position in the event of a war in which Great Britain is engaged, the nations should know that both the Government and the Opposition in this Parliament consider that Australia is not automatically bound in respect of any war in which the Government of the United Kingdom is engaged.
– Hear, hear !
– We say that our membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations is a membership which gives to us a fraternity of national associations, that there is between the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Dominions a common concern for peace, and a common interest in the safety and security of the English-speaking race; but that the governments of the dominions, responsible as they are to those portions of that British race in their respective geographical situations, must themselves decide, in the light of circumstances, how and to what extent they will be participators in a war. Therefore, the Opposition and the Government have at last clarified in the most decisive way the responsibilities of this Parliament, and, therefore, of the people of this country towards war. We say that in this Parliament, which is representative of the Australian: people, must repose the exclu sive responsibility for the decision as to whether or not Australia shall be engaged in a war.
– Supposing the other fellow declares war?
– In such an event, this Parliament would have to make its decision.
– The initiative would not be with us.
– In such an event, this Parliament would be called upon to shape ways and means whereby the safety of this country could be secured.
– -Why not say so?
– I have said so repeatedly. I am glad that this afternoon, in the most unequivocal way, a statement on behalf of the Government and a statement on behalf of the Opposition can bo so reconciled as to establish the ‘responsibility of the Australian Government, and of no other government, for the people of Australia being engaged in war.
The Opposition welcomes the proposals of the Government to extend the activities of the Department of External Affairs so that Australia will be able to discharge its responsibilities in the light of information which will be supplied by its own officers. I have already said that I have the greatest respect for the other sources of information by which the department is equipped to understand the international situation. In my opinion, the proposal to establish a legation at Washington is a good one. It will put Australia in direct touch with a country in which there are 130,000,000 people who speak the English language and, like ourselves, have their roots back in the history and the traditions of the British race, and, I venture to say, have also a common concern in respect of civilization. To the extent to which the separate parts of the English-speaking race understand one another’s problems, there is a oneness which seems to me to be a definite contribution towards the strength of each and, in turn, can be said to be of service ultimately to peace, for I believe that the United States of America is as unwilling to act aggressively as is Australia. I venture also to say that as the problems of the Pacific are problems which, in the nature of things, are closer to us than are those of Europe, it would be desirable for an Australian legation to be established in China. There ought also to be n representative of the Australian Commonwealth located in New Zealand. If, in addition, Australia’s representation at Washington were reinforced by a branch office at San Francisco, we should have a more extended representation of Australia than has ‘been the case hitherto. I believe that that would be a good thing.
The honorable gentleman said that he believes that, insinuated into all discussions in respect of the recent crises, there has been reflected the ardent and almost pathetic desire and prayer for peace. I firmly believe that the workers of every country will echo that statement with the deepest feeling. There can be no workers anywhere in the world, either in Germany, Italy or Japan, or in any other country, who can have anything at all to gain as the result of the settlement of such disputes as exist by recourse to war. Therefore, the efforts for peace-making which are going on throughout the world can, I venture to say, be furthered by demonstrations on the part of the democracies, that democratic institutions can lift up the level of the mass of the people much more satisfactorily than can totalitarian States. We have to give proof that democracy is in itself a form of government that not only dislikes war, but also ministers to the high hopes and aspirations of mankind. Therefore, the spectacle of large masses of unemployed in Great Britain and in the United States of America, and of a considerable unemployment problem in Australia, and other evidence of this character, weakens the approach of the democracies to the masses of Germany and Italy, and even of Japan. They learn that democratic systems do not -necessarily mean work and food and decent living standards, and, therefore, they are warranted, not in contrasting the speeches of the leaders of other countries with the declarations of their own leaders, but in measuring up how far the form of political system that they have accepted yields to them a more satisfactory internal social standing than does the democratic system. Therefore, the approach that the people of one country makes to those of another in respect of the ideological causes of war, such as the opposition expressed in this statement to the forms of government in Italy, Japan and Germany, cannot in itself be so effective as it otherwise would be while the democracies present the spectacle of an incapacity to resolve their own internal problems. Thus the philosophy of peace abroad, I venture to say, has to be reinforced by determined endeavours on the part of the governments of the democracies to lift up the standards of their own people, to overcome the problem of unemployment, the problem of scarcity of houses and of inequality between the rising cost of living and rates of wages. That is not only a necessary thing to do from the point of view of preserving our own system of government; in a consideration of international problems and in measuring how far the forms of government do, or do not, serve the best interests of the people everywhere we must also inevitably do far better than we have done before we can expect the people of other countries to believe that democracy is the precious system of government we hold it to be. The German dictatorship, according to one part of the honorable gentleman’s statement, involves the people of Germany in being veritable slaves, and yet, according to another part of it, they are on the eve of a period of great glory. The same observations apply also to Italy.
– Subject to certain conditions.
– And so are we on the eve of a period of great glory if honorable gentlemen opposite would carry out even a portion of the undertakings which they entered into with the people prior to the last general election. During the last four years the atmosphere in the world has been prejudiced by the partisanship and, to some extent, the uncontrolled propaganda which vested interests have let loose. The efforts of the British Government in its negotiations for peace were to some extent made, difficult by the partisan activities of those who are more concerned, as it were, with fighting Hitler than with establishing peace. There is unquestionably in the world a class that has a vested interest in war and in war-making, and the propagandist activities which are employed in the interests of this exploiting and ruthless class, which is international in character, have made difficulties for all governments, including, I believe, the governments of the dictators. As the result we have had the spectacle of what Australia thinks about the international situation repeatedly stated in this country both by newspapers and over wireless stations in a way which has not contributed anything towards the settlement of the problem, but has contributed to the inflammation of hysteria among the Australian body politic. I have no proposals to make for the suppression of public opinion, nor do I desire to silence those who disagree with me; however, in this era in which the world has stupendous problems to resolve and in which, particularly in the democracies, the leaders of nations cannot do the right thing merely because it is the right thing, but can only do it when they have the support and concurrence of their own people, it is not a service to democracy if ill-founded accusations are made and scares engendered by those who have no responsibility to the people as a people, but who for the mo3t part parade such stunts in order to satisfy either their own or some related interests. To the extent that anything can be said in this Parliament which will put a, curb upon utterances which have been prejudical to the understanding of Australia’s attitude towards the problems of either Europe or Asia, it may be that more frequent discussions of foreign policy in this House may have some effect. I prefer the positive remedy of honest and straight declarations as to where Australia stands, or proposes to stand, being made on behalf of the Australian people, to newspaper editorials or wireless commentaries. This observation is also true in respect of other countries. It is important that Australia’s position should be made known to the world, and I can see no reason why Australians should listen to German broadcasts in English without Australia itself taking the initiative so that there can be heard in Germany, Austria, Italy or Japan, in the languages of those countries, declarations as to what Australia thinks ought to be done in the interests of world peace. I repeat that if there should be any remedy at all for the one-sided attitude which marks many pronouncements in all countries to-day it should be positive rather than negative. By that, I mean that rather than suppress opinion we ought to take the responsibility of sponsoring those opinions which responsible authorities in Australia regard as fair statements as to what Australia will do. These could be delivered from short-wave stations in Australia in the languages of the countries to which we desire to address such statements. The fact is that the people of Australia, the workers of Australia, desire peace, and it is not sufficient for that view to be communicated merely to the leaders of other nations, such as Germany or Japan; we must reach the people of those countries if we wish to get from ‘ them that degree of influence which they can exert upon their own governments, because it is notorious that the chief institution which has to be created once war is unloosed is the lie factory which can whip up the patriotism of one’s own people and create unrest and disquietude in the ranks of the enemy. The last four years of crisis have, from the point of view of the world at large, been much worse than they need have been had the people of the various countries any true conception of what the people of other countries were really thinking. We in Australia have long been accustomed to the influencewhich public opinion can exert over governments and dictators of policies of political parties, and it is right and proper that such an influence should be exerted in order that Australian public opinion should be heard. In this, the most vital of all considerations - whether the world shall remain at peace or be dragged into war - I, and I believe thousands of Australians, prefer to trust an enlightened public opinion rather than the ambitions of a few political leaders. To the extent that we can encourage the development of an informed and educated understanding in other countries regarding the peaceful intentions of the Australian people and the course they will take in the event of war breaking out, we can determine whether the aggressors are justified in their actions or not.
– What would the honorable member do with regard to the causes of antagonism?
– That is part of the situation, is it not, out of which war will come? One cannot divorce the cause from the consequences. The cause we know now; briefly, it is this: there has grown up in three countries at least the realization that they have been able as the result of the development of armed strength to get rectification of injustices under which they have long laboured. That is how the people of those countries see the position. It has been acknowledged that n great part of the Treaty of Versailles was, if not unjust, at least unwise; that, in great part, it imposed intolerable burdens upon a defeated and a vanquished people. It is also recognized that the failure to revise the Treaty in a substantial measure in the first decade after it was made has, to some extent, been a factor in the causes which led to the emergence of Hitler as a Fuhrer of Germany. I do not need to traverse that ground, except to say that the democracies do acknowledge that a great part of the support for Hitler and Mussolini arose more or less inevitably out of the internal conditions of Germany and Italy, and that in respect, of Germany those conditions were in a great measure due to external pressure. Certainly, whilst we do not agree with the methods that have been employed, nor with the courses which they have been invoked to sustain, we, none the less, acknowledge that in many respects the people of Germany, as distinct from the rulers of Germany, can at least be understood when they feel they have long had grievances to overcome and that the support which they have given to their government has from their point of view been justified.
I now come to the consideration of what the Minister said regarding Japan. His statement is very largely in line with what I would expect the representative of an Australian Government to say. We desire to live in peace with our neighbours in the Pacific, who are north of the equator. Insofar as the problems of the Pacific are concerned, we have no quarrel with the people of Japan. We have sent goodwill missions to Japan and have welcomed the trade which Japan has developed with us. We have suffered very much in recent years as the result of the cessation of a large part of that trade.. While I shall not enter into the fiscal aspect of the subject at this juncture, I say that over a long period of years the people of Australia and the people of Japan have learned to have regard for the rights of each other. On no occasion has there been any attempt on the part of the Government of Japan to interfere with or influence in any improper way the making of Australian national policy. We have elaborated principles of nationhood which could easily have been misunderstood; but in the years in which we were moulding our conception of a White Australia we went on fearlessly and quite confidently towards the consummation of our ideas, believing that we were not exposing Australia to danger. Whatever difficulty is in our situation to-day is not due to anything that has happened in Australia. Our real fear of Japan arises out of the world situation. Our difficulties have no direct relationship to any direct failure on the part of Japan or of Australia to understand and respect each other’s rights. I sincerely hope that the establishment of a legation at Tokio will be the prelude to a revival of the spirit of goodwill between the Government and people of J apan and the Government and the people of Australia. I take the responsibility to say, as a contribution towards the consummation of these hopes, that, just as I might expect and hope that the Government and people of Japan will allow the Government and people of Australia to elaborate their own social and political system in the way they think proper and best, I, for my part, do not. consider it right and proper that I should attempt to influence or determine the character of the political and social institutions df Japan. We lay it down that what they do is their business, and we feel that Japan will fully reciprocate in this connexion.
No war, even in Europe, should be a war fought either to defend or to create political systems against other political systems. The people of every country have their conception of what is good for freedom and liberty, and they should have the right to determine their political structure without interference or molestation by us. I will not be a party to any activities which have for their purpose the dragooning of a people into the acceptance of a certain political system. There should not be on the part of democrats, at any rate, any ambition to do for other people what we have not yet fully done for ourselves, and there are, unquestionably, problems incidental to democracy that we have yet to overcome.
I feel that the interpretation which the Minister for External Affairs has placed upon the recent pronouncement of the Prime Minister makes it unnecessary for me to say much more. I say this though : The Australian Labour party, over the whole course of the years, has regarded the welfare of the Australian people as the primary responsibility of Australian governments in the making of policies incidental to foreign relationships. That is our primary obligation. The safety and security of our own people is our first and our major responsibility. We accept the position that we are, and we declare ourselves to be, an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
– The Leader of the Opposition has exhausted his time.
– I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) upon the excellent speech he has just delivered. I also congratulate the Government upon making it possible for honorable members to discuss in the House these great questions which are of major importance in the world to-day. May I also compliment the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett) upon his first speech in his new ministerial office. At first I was inclined to think that the Government had adopted an unwise procedure in permitting discussions of international affairs in Parliament, owing to the variety of views held by honorable members.
The speeches made to-day have been largely a repetition of statements that have appeared in the press for some time past regarding matters which affect various countries of the world, including both the totalitarian and the democratic States. Some honorable members appear to think that such statements should not be repeated in Parliament; but surely if the international situation is to be discussed at all we should be at liberty to say frankly what we think. I agree with the Loader of the Opposition that, as Australians, we have no right to dictate the political views which other countries should adopt. The honorable gentleman went further and said that the policy of this country should brook no interference from other countries. Surely that is a fundamental principle. But I ask him whether we should not object to other countries foisting their policy upon the peoples of adjoining countries, and whether we should be justified in foisting our policy upon the people of adjoining countries? Our White Australia policy, for example, was not received enthusiastically by the people of some of the countries in the near East, though they did not object to our adopting it for ourselves. But if we attempted to extend that policy to certain countries which ‘ surround us they might well object. We have the right to adopt our own policy within our own borders, but not the right to dictate the policy for countries adjoining us. That is what the dictator countries are doing. If we object to the adoption of that course, two methods of procedure are open to us. First, we can protest to the League of Nations, which, however, seems to be non-existent to-day; secondly, we can protest on the platform of the public opinion of the world. I should like to believe that if we adopted the latter course the dictator countries would listen to the views that we enunciate, but I fear that our utterances would f.ill on deaf ears, or be received very coldly.
The totalitarian states have, in actual fact, foisted their methods upon nondictator countries. They have simply “ walked in “ on those countries, although the people affected were doing their best, within their own borders, to live peaceably with other nationals. We have the example of Abyssinia. We may not have fully approved of themethods of the former government of Abyssinia. We may even havebelieved that in some respects, at least, slavery still existed in ‘ Abyssinia.. But surely other methods than thoseactually adopted could have been used to convince the Abyssinian leaders of that time that a better system of government was available than that which they had..
It was improper for the people of another race to ride rough-shod over the Abyssinians and force another form of government upon them.
The proposal of the Leader of the Opposition in this regard may be described as educational. He says, in effect, that the people of democratic countries should be able to show that it is possible for such countries to govern themselves effectively. He advocated, of course, government of the people for the people by the duly elected representatives of the people. I do not think that any honorable member of this Parliament believes in the dictatorship practices in vogue in certain totalitarian states.We believe that our own democratic system of government is much to be preferred.
– We have financial dictatorships in the democracies.
– But surely if these are in fact present and undesirable the democracies could overcome them by democratic methods. The elected representatives of the people should be able to overcome any such disabilities if they exist. The ballot box is a power which our people always have at their command. The members of this House are definitely of the opinion that democratic methods are better than dictatorship methods. That is not to say, however, that we should seek to force the people of totalitarian states to discontinue their existing methods. They have a perfect right to adopt whatever system of government appeals to them. Earlier in this debate I heard an honorable member interject that it was now proposed to ally the soviet system of Russia with the democratic system of the British Empire. That is not to say that the British people would deny to the Russian people the right to live under their own system of government. The Russians have a perfect right to live under whichever system of government they choose. What is being said, in effect, is that as an effort is being made to force Poland to accept a system of government which the Poles do not desire, it is desir- able that the governments which believe in peoples having the right to preserve their own systems of government should combine to maintain those rights against other countries which would force a different system of government upon them.
The Leader of the Opposition said that if the British Empire got into trouble and war were declared, whether a war of aggression or of defence, the people of this country should have the right to say whether they would participate in it or not. I agree. This Parliament is the voice of the people. But I remind honorable members that, notwithstanding what may be written in the constitutions which so lightly bind the different parts of the British Empire together, if the British Empire is at war Australia is also at war. Whatever the nature of our Constitution, however light the bonds that unite us to the Empire, the fact remains that when the British Empire is at Avar this country also is at
Avar, no matter what our Parliament may say or do.
-Howdoes the honorable member reconcile that with the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett) that not in any or every instance would we bo compelled to go towar?
– I am now speaking of the British Empire in its relation to other countries. Of course, if the British Government had a little war of itsown with Ireland-
– Why Ireland ?
– Well, let us say Tasmania, then. What I mean is, Britain might be involved in some war of minor importancewhich did not affect Australia, but if the Empire were at war and its existence threatened, then we, too, would be atwar just as much as Great Britain.
The Leader of the Opposition said that there need be no clash between the ideologies of the totalitarian States and the democracies as such, but surely there is something of even greater importance than systems of government, or even of empires, and that is the humanrace. Surely the atrocities that have been committed during the last few years must earn the condemnation of every decent man and woman throughout the world, of every one who has thewelfare of the human race at heart. Can any one stand by in a so-called Christian country and witness without protest the atrocities that have been committed in Germany?
– What is behind Hitler ?
– I do not know, beyond the aggrandizement of Hitler and the glory of the German people. As for the Germans themselves, we know that those who have come to this country have proved themselves to be excellent citizens, but we cannot remain unmoved in the presence of the atrocities which have been committed by the German Government.
– What atrocities?
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to speak after me.
– Are they any worse than what has been happening in India and Palestine? The trouble is that when we make charges against Hitler he throws them back at us.
– When I have finished the honorable member may talk about the atrocities which he says have been committed by Britain. Whatever may have been done in the British Empire is as nothing compared with the decimation of a race that has taken place in Germany during the last few years. In any case, whether or not we believe the press reports that have been published regarding occurrences in Germany it must be clear to every one of understanding that international affairs are in a very serious condition to-day.
– What about doing something for Australia?
– We can best strengthen Australia by remaining part and parcel of the British Empire. We can protect and develop Australia only by remaining true to the democratic system of government. It may be true that in social reform we have not ad vanced during the last few years as rapidly as we did during the early days of federation, but surely that is not the fault of this Government. It is the fault of all our governments. Legislation of various kinds which could and should have been introduced for the alleviation of suffering has been held up. Recently, a national health insurance scheme was introduced, but was opposed by the Labour party. One would have thought that the needs of the widows and orphans of Australia would have won their sympathy. The Leader of the Opposition devoted some time to pointing out the shortcomings of the democracies, but I remind him that if we assail democracy we assist dictatorships. Those are the only two practical systems of government operating in the world to-day. While the Minister for External Affairs was reading his statement I heard interjections expressing regret at the inclusion of certain sentences which they thought might be harmful to the peace of the world. I remind those honorable members who interjected that Herr Hitler has never troubled himself to be conciliatory. Surely we have a right to refute his insulting references to the democracies. We believe in democracy as the best system of government under which to live. The German people, for the time being at any rate, appear to believe that a dictatorship is the best system. I am not objecting to their choice of a system of government which they consider suitable for themselves; I am objecting to the attempts of Germany to foist that system upon other countries - to its attempts to subjugate other nations, and impose upon them its own dictatorship. The Leader of the Opposition said that if the dictatorship countries approached the democracies along peaceful lines, the democracies would be delighted to meet them. I agree with that statement, but I point out that no such approach has ever been made. The dictatorship countries have never invited the democracies to sit around the conference table to discuss the problems of the world. The democratic countries, however, have repeatedly asked the leaders of the totalitarian States to meet them in conference, rather than to continue their warlike ‘courses. In 1929, a Labour government, under Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, supported by Mr. Arthur Henderson, fought hard to induce the nations of Europe to agree to a reduction of armaments. Every decent man will admit the sincerity of Mr. Arthur Henderson.
.- I am very glad that this House has at last an opportunity to discuss external affairs. On very many occasions honorable members have asked for such an opportunity, but nearly always it has been withheld. 1 regard the position of Australia in relation to the other countries of the world as of tremendous importance. Indeed, 1 cannot conceive of anything that is more important. Domestic, political, and social reforms are all influenced by a state of unrest in the world, a state that will continue if this country, along with others, is to be committed to a policy of preparation for war. The expenditure necessary for that preparation must have the effect of postponing or side-tracking the social reforms which we all so much desire. We shall be told that it is impossible to provide money for the payment of old-age pensions, and for other desirable social services, when the immediate and pressing demand is to prepare for war. War is the bankruptcy of international diplomacy. If war comes, it will be because all the attempts of the diplomatists to avert war have failed. This is of the utmost importance to Australia,1 not merely ‘because of its separate position in the world, but particularly -because it is a member of a society of nations - a member of the world community, so that nothing can affect the people of the world that does not’ affect us. .It is important to us also because Australia is, by its own choice, a member of a national society, whether we call it the British Empire, as did the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr), or the British Commonwealth of Nations, as did the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). The party to which I belong h..s registered its determination to remain an inseparable member of that society.’ The ink is still fresh on the Federal Conference’s declaration that. Labour’s defence policy is based upon the fact that Australia is an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. That means that we regard Australia’s membership of that, society as permanent’ and indestructible- It seems clear to me that what affects that society must affect Australia. We cannot sit by and say that what is done in Great Britain is purely a matter for that country, and cannot have any bearing on us. It is clear that although, in the event of war, we would not be, and could not be compelled to send troops overseas to join in the war, or even to defend ourselves, it still remains true that we must be affected by the fact that Great Britain, as the principal partner in the Commonwealth, is at war. We. could not go on behaving as if we were a separate nation. That position, as a matter of law, is unassailable, and is not weakened by the new internal relationship between Great Britain and the dominions as defined by the preamble to the Statute of Westminster - a preamble which is already law in Australia. In an article published in January of this year in the Canadian Bar Revieu.’, Professor W. P. M. Kennedy, one of the most eminent jurists in the British Empire, sets down reluctantly certain conelusions as follows:-
The Crown, as far as Canada is concerned, is one and indivisible: as it was in 18(i7, so it is to-day.
When the Crown is at war, Canada is at war, and cannot be legally neutral.
Canada has no legal control over the prerogative of war; and as this prerogative is uncontrolled bv a British statute, Canada’s relation to a declaration of war by the Crown or to a declaration of war by a foreign state against the Crown does not come under the doctrine of British Coal Corporation v. The King; i.e., there is no British statute governing or controlling the prerogative of war which Canada, can repeal.
Professor Kennedy apparently regrets to come to these conclusions. From these, it follows that Australia, like Canada, cannot exercise control over its external relations and at the same time remain inseparably a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. If Great Britain is at war, Australia is affected. This country cannot continue to trade with nations which are at enmity with Britain ; it cannot act as if there were no war. It cannot allow the vessels of hostile foreign nations to revictual or undergo repairs at Australian ports, lu war, this country will suffer great economic hardships. Therefore, even from the selfish point of view of national security and well-being, it is of tremendous importance to us that we should do all that lies in our power to avert the possibility of armed conflict.
I do not believe that Australia is without blame for the state of tension existing in the world to-day. We should make a greater effort to understand the outlook of other peoples, to induce other nations to understand our view, and generally we should adapt our policies to encourage good relations with other nations. We cannot blame any particular party or section of the community for our shortcoming in this matter; we all have erred and gone astray. But I think that Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, can make an important contribution to world peace. I have spoken of this in this House on other occasions. The policy of the British Commonwealth of Nations makes for war. Prior to 1931, although Great Britain was then the chief colonial power, it permitted other nations to enter into the markets of its non-self-governing colonies on equal terms with British trade. It did not attempt to monopolize dominion markets. The governments of the several dominions, up till then, were free to exclude British goods, and did so. That British policy has been deliberately abandoned during the last nine or ten years. Since the making of the Ottawa Agreement, British Empire markets have, to a large extent, been closed to foreign nations. In effect, the Empire has been made ‘a closed circuit within which Empire countries seek to trade only with other Empire countries, and within which the trade of the non-self-governing territories has been exploited, not merely by the people of Great Britain and Ireland, but also by the people in the self-governing dominions - in fact by all the constituents of the British Commonwealth of Nations. This is one of the things that tends to war, and it is important to remember that Australia has a voice in determining this policy. It should not be our design or the design of other dominions to monopolize trade with Britain and exploit British territories to the entire exclusion of the peoples of other countries. Britain should itself head a movement of colonial powers to place colonial territories under a system of international control, first with the object of protecting the interests of the native inhabitants and advancing those non-adult people a further stage towards mental adolescence, and secondly, with the object of securing for the peoples of all countries equal right to trade with these colonial territories. It is absurd to think that we can pursue a policy of a closed Empire and yet avoid war.
The Minister (Sir Henry Gullett) urged that we should invite other nations to confer with representatives of the British Commonwealth of Nations regarding the grave problems that confront all the powers, and went on to say that their representations would be dealt with in a spirit of generosity. I suggest with great respect to the honorable gentleman, that the only thing that we can do, if we expect our protestations of sincerity to be accepted, is to declare that we shall no longer regard ourselves as privileged to exploit colonial territories; we should, as I have suggested, be prepared, as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, to abandon our position as an imperial nation, to give up those colonies, and place those territories which can govern themselves in a position to do so. The others, the nonselfgoverning, must be put in a position of tutelage under an international trust. If Britain adopted this plan, and invited the co-operation of the other principal colonial powers, France, Portugal and Holland, it is likely that the invitation would be accepted. Unless this be done, we cannot expect the other nations to believe that we ave anxious to do something definite in the cause of world peace. It is idle to talk about Great Britain being prepared to make peace overtures to other powers if the nation is not willing to make sacrifices in the cause of peace. It is all very well for some people to try to distinguish between what they are pleased to consider is the peace-mindedness of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the non-peace-mindedness of countries that are seeking expansion. It should be remembered that Germany and Italy entered the family of nations in the latter half of last century, and found that nearly everything worth having was already in the possession of other nations. Does any one expect that the governments of those countries, which claim the right to share in the development of colonial territories, will accept for all time a position of inferiority? It is an axiom that if nations are to survive, opportunity must be given for the expansion of trade relations with other countries.
What now is the position? As the result of private ownership of the means of production, the world is divided into two classes - the comparatively small class which takes the lion’s share of the product, and the large class which has to be content with what it cannot live without. Thus, in each industrialized country, the masses of the people were denied the means of buying and consuming their product. Thus, in each such country the owing class was left with a surplus over local consumption. The problem thus created was not acute before all the nations became as highly industrialized as they are to-day, because as exports or investments the surplus could be disposed of overseas. But since practically every country has, in more recent years, been endeavouring to become economically selfsufficient, the world’s markets for imports have contracted, and in some cases have disappeared. What must happen in a country which cannot, without abandoning its social organization, feed its people ? Germany and Italy, like Britain and France, are wedded to the capitalist system of private ownership of production; and like Britain and France, the totalitarian powers can provide for the needs of their people in only one way, namely, by devoting a very large portion of their surplus funds to capital expenditure upon public works, and especially upon the preparation for war. Therefore, preparation for war becomes an essential part of the social and industrial life of the capitalist nations. Countries that are prepared for war will sooner or later go to war. That is inevitable. It is unfortunately true that most nations are to-day organized, not for peace, but for war. The causes of war, in my view, are produced in the present world economic system, but they can be made less potent, because wars cannot be made without men, or the co-operation of members of the human race, and the instinct of human beings, regardless of differences of race, religion, language or institutions, is to live at peace. The only thing that will distract men from the will to live at peace is the belief that they cannot live without war. The people of Germany have been taught that they cannot secure for themselves a place in the sun. Towards the end of the Great War their “ will to war “ was broken down by assurances given to them that if they overthrew their system of government and dethroned the Kaiser they would be readmitted to the comity of nations. They did so, but they were not re-admitted. The only sure way to peace is for the people of the British races to negotiate with the German people to-day, and to show a willingness to meet them on such terms that everybody will be able to live in security and enjoy the good things of this world upon an equal footing. The alignment of democracies against the totalitarian states does not worry the hungry man. He can be just as bungey, unhappy, . and miserable in London or Paris as in Berlin or Rome, or, for that matter, in Melbourne or Sydney; the system of government he lives under is not, to him, the allimportant consideration. No great difference’ exists between democracies and totalitarian states. In the democracies of Britain, France and the United States of America the people have votes; but that system of government works within the limits of constitutions. The people governed by them move and have their being iu a political atmosphere that is created or de-natured by wealth. Everything that they hear and know is only what the wealthy organizations that control public opinion are prepared to let them hear and know. There is no great difference between Mr. Chamberlain and Herr Hitler. They are more in agreement than are the people they represent, because each is determined that his state shall have its place in the sun and that his power shall be paramount. Mr. Chamberlain is resolved that the power of the class which rules Great Britain shall be the maximum and that it shall not give up one shred, and Hitler is equally determined that Germany shall tear from weaker and decadent nations the things which those nations can no longer hold.
As constituent parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations, we ourselves’ have, individually and collectively, some responsibility for the conditions that exist in this world. “We shall be able to justify these debates and help to make the world a better place if we make a genuine appeal for peace to the people of other countries. I believe that such an appeal would bear fruit, but even if the worst should happen, we should know that we were not entirely to blame, because, we had tried, even at the eleventh hour, to remove the causes of war.
The state of stifled war in which we live to-day, and there is no doubt that it exists, is an extraordinary danger to our representative institutions. When negotiations are in progress between two nations, one of which allows no minority to have a voice in its affairs and allows no questioning of its leaders whilst the other permits a minority to have an active voice, and its public men to be questioned by members of Parliament, it is obvious that a totalitarian nation has a tremendous advantage over a democratic country. So it seems to me that if the present state of war continues in the world, we shall find that Great Britain, the United States of America, France and Australia will preserve merely the outside semblance of representative institutions, for the real substance of it will have been taken away; minority opinion will be suppressed in France, the United States of America and Australia as really and as substantially as it has been suppressed in Berlin, Moscow, or Rome.- If we desire to make our representative institutions real things, if we have any real belief in democracy, we must be anxious for peace, and must be prepared to make sacrifices for peace. Unless the people of Australia are prepared to make sacrifices for peace and, as constituent members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, try to induce the peoples of that Commonwealth also to make sacrifices, I believe that there will be war, not necessarily to-morrow, but sooner or later. Every day, every hour .that we gain from war is a day or an hour saved, in which we may do something towards the pacification of the world.
– At the outset, I congratulate the Government upon the initiation of a debate on foreign affairs in this House. In the past, the Government- of the day has adopted what I might term “ a hush-hush policy” on foreign affairs, with the result that time and again matters pertaining to foreign policy or the motions for the printing of papers dealing with “international affairs have been relegated to a very low position in the list of orders of the day. I believe that foreign affairs should assume in this House, as they do in the House of Commons, an importance possibly not second to any other subject which engages our attention.
Of late years the Australian people have been awakened to a great degree by the space which the press has devoted to foreign affairs, and also by the time allowed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to speakers dealing with that subject. But even so, it still remains for this ‘House to play a most important part in the education of the Australian people in respect of foreign countries and of foreign relations generally. I consider that, at the moment, the people of this Commonwealth are somewhat insular and narrow in their views concerning foreign affairs. On no other ground can one account for a policy such as that of isolation, for which the Opposition stands, being placed prominently before the Australian people. If we are to extend the vision of our citizens, we must endeavour to provide leadership and to form public opinion from within this chamber. It is for this reason that I congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) upon his intention to make debates on foreign affairs a regular feature of our proceedings.
One finds it difficult to choose out of the mass of information available to us which subjects to debate. The world stage is changing so rapidly that it may be said that every- day witnesses a new scene, and the world wonders what the final act of the play is to be. I shall commence my remarks by addressing a few words to those people particularly who would adopt a pacifist ‘attitude in relation to the present activity in the manufacture of armaments in Australia and overseas. I would say to them that the Australian people, and British peoples generally, cannot judge foreign peoples according to their own standard ; there are such wide differences of view, of environment, and of civilization among the countries of Europe that we cannot regard as their standards those that we enjoy. This is borne out by the very fact that great and populous countries in Europe have been content to place themselves under what I might almost describe as the iron heel of one man. It has been stated this afternoon that the internal economic conditions of those countries are in the nature of a challenge to the economic conditions of Australia. I should say in reply that in some of the totalitarian countries unemployment has supposedly ceased to exist, only because of definitely low wages and conditions which would not be tolerated by the people of this country. According to the utterances of most of the leaders of the different countries of the world, rearmament is taking place in the interests of world peace. We have also the knowledge that whilst it is true that we are rearmingand I believe that we must - in the cause of peace, it is also true, paradoxical though it be, that a world in arms is definitely a factor contributing towards war. Thus the situation which faces us, from ‘both points of view, is uncertain. We have to ask ourselves why such a situation has arisen. I believe it is chiefly because power politics, as we have come to know them, have ‘been successful ever since the termination of the last great war. So successful have they been that when Germany and Italy came under the control of dictators, those dictators instantly adopted this policy as the one most likely to prove profitable for themselves.
– All sides play that game.
– Possibly the honorable gentleman is right. Power polities may be new to a large number of people to-day, but’ they are old in the pages of history. The democracies cannot be absolved from blame, in that they have allowed the present situation to arise; from the incidents of Vilna and Corfu to the bigger one of Manchukuo they have stood quietly by and allowed the policy of force to succeed. Undoubtedly our attitude was that, as these incidents occurred far from our borders, we were in no immediate danger ; our self-interest did not dictate the making of any stand, and we have allowed the whole business to proceed.
– What does the honorable member think we should have done?
– If we are to accept the principle of power politics, well and good; if not, the world should have taken action in the early stage, before such a policy proved so successful.
– What does the honorable gentleman suggest that we should do?
– We have been weak from the very beginning. I am well aware of the difficulty of inducing the people of any democratic nation to make a display of force against what appears to them to be no concern of theirs. But unless the democratic nations play a major part in world affairs, power politics will continue to be successful. It is only because of the realization that a stand has to be taken that Great Britain is now endeavouring to unite as many countries as possible in opposition to this policy.
There is also the viewpoint of the dictators. Dictatorship is, and must be, a dynamic form of government; it cannot be static; certainly in the majority of cases it is not. Although Stalin is purely and simply a dictator, he has an enormous social programme to work out and is not looking to outside adventures for the excitement of his people. But Hitler and Mussolini undoubtedly have to turn to outside adventures. It appears to them that some dynamic move is essential at intervals in order to keep their people in a state of excitement and to maintain control by the leaders. What, exactly, are the aims of these dictators, and how do those aims concern us ? It is not very difficult for us to arrive at some conclusions on this point. As honorable members know, there is in wide circulation in Germany to-day Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf. It may be described as the bible of Germany; it is in every home, and has to be on every office table. It states in clear and unmistakeable terms that “ France is the enemy of our nation”; and further, “Expansion must be at the expense of Russia and the countries on her borders.” Despite all the protestations of Hitler to the contrary, we know that in the opening pages of that bible of the
German people the clear indication is given that Austria had some day to come within the Reich. Step by step Hitler has endeavoured to give effect to what he there wrote. From the stand-point of the British Empire, therefore, we can only assume that sooner or later France will be in the line of fire. Ample evidence has been furnished lately that Poland, Roumania, and other countries are also in the line of fire. Consequently, some of the aims of the dictators are known.
I turn now to the aims of Italy, and ask myself whether they run counter to the interests of Australia and of the British Empire as a whole. I refer honorable members to the demands which Italy made only a short time ago in relation to Djibouti, Tunisia and Corsica, and ask them to reflect on what has happened in Spain. Let them pick up a map o the world and note that Djibouti lies almost opposite Aden, guarding to a great extent the entrance to the Red Sea ; that Tunisia lies only a short distance from the Island of Pantellaria, which has been fortified by Italy. Any country having Pantellaria and also control of Tunisia would be able to effect a bottle neck in the middle of the Mediterranean. I also refer honorable members to the aims of Germany and Italy in ‘Spain. No one will deny that those two countries have been active participants in the conflict in Spain, which has a vital strategic bearing on our lines of communication and on those of the Empire in general. Spain can influence seriously the situation at Gibraltar. On the indented coast of the Asturias there is excellent harbourage for submarines which could, if so desired, play enormous havoc with shipping and other communications in the Bay of Biscay. The Balearic Islands and Spanish Morocco would also play a definite part. The Spanish people may to-day be sick of war; but it would not be necessary for them to play a prominent part in any war that might break out. If Spain were opposed to the forces of the democratic countries, particularly France, a further frontier would have to be guarded. Spain also offers an admirable base for the launching of aerial attacks on Marseilles, or on Toulon, the great French naval base.
– Things must be bad over there.
– Yes. I see points of attack of vital interest to Australia, and unless the people of the British Empire awake they will find themselves in difficulty in the event of a conflict. Although I agree with what the Minister for External Affairs said about conditions in the East, it is well to remember that it has been stated publicly in the Japanese Diet that that country is committed to a policy of expansion to the south. The facts are of such an alarming nature that they cannot be regarded with equanimity. The sooner the people of Australia realize the truth the better. For the last three or four years Great Britain has pursued a policy of vacillation and weakness.
– The honorable member is a disloyalist if he criticizes the British Government.
– I am not. I merely advocate a firmer policy in foreign affairs. Let us call to mind what happened in connexion with Abyssinia. As far back as 1935 it was clear to any traveller that Italy had designs on Abyssinia. In March or May of that year a conference between France, Italy and Great Britain took place at Stresa. It is significant that at that conference not one word was said about the Italian designs on Abyssinia. Italian action continued in that country until it was too late to save Abyssinia. Similarly, in regard to Spain the British Government has followed a most peculiar policy. Great Britain advocated and pursued a policy of non-intervention, but undeniably, both Germany and Italy took an active part in the civil war.
– A policy of nonintervention may have suited Great Britain.
– That may be, but we must not lose sight of the fact that whichever country controls Spain commands a country of great strategic importance and danger to British interests. It may be that Great Britain’s weakness and vacillation were due to its inability to adopt a stronger policy; force might have been necessary to implement a stronger policy. An inherent dislike of war probably actuated that Government, but it is not pleasant for a loyal Britisher like myself to speak his mind about what happened after the Munich Agreement. Honorable members will recollect that, at Munich, Great Britain and France guaranteed the frontiers of Czechoslovakia. That guarantee was worth absolutely nothing.
– The honorable member is telling only half the story.
– In the 35 minutes available to me I am unable to tell the whole story ; I am, however, stating historical facts.
– Did Great Britain guarantee arms to Czechoslovakia?
– Great Britain and France guaranteed the frontiers of that country.
– The guarantee was through France; and that country took no action.
– Is it any wonder that the prestige of the democratic countries has declined throughout the world and that Britons everywhere are afraid that weakness and vacillation may yet create a war which could be averted by a strong policy ? During recent months the Government of Great Britain has adopted a policy more acceptable to me, and -I hope that there will be no weakening of it.
During this discussion, it has been suggested that the great powers should meet in conference. I agree that that would be a proper course to pursue if reliance could be placed on the word of the participants. It is well to bear in mind what Hitler thinks of round-ta’ble conferences and negotiations. Will any honorable member say that he has shown any desire to meet other nations in round-table discussions free from a background of force i:o supplement his. arguments? We can possibly find some idea of his attitude towards negotiations in Mein Kampf, wherein he said that from the Jews “he learned that a definite factor in getting a lie believed is the size of the lie “. The result has been a succession of lies. I shall give one or two examples.
– The lies have not been confined to one side.
– Possibly not, and that is all the greater reason why we should realize the true position. On the 30th January, 1934, speaking in the
Reichstag, Herr Hitler, referring to the
Saar, said -
After this question has been settled, the German Government is ready to accept not only the letter but also the spirit of Locarno.
Not long afterwards, Germany militarized the Rhineland. Again, on the 21st May, 1935, Herr Hitler, in an address to the Reichstag, said -
Germany neither intends to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria, to annex Austria, nor to conclude an Anschluss.
We all know what happened to Austria.
After the Munich Agreement, he said - :
This is the last territorial claim I have to make in Europe.
Within a few months Germany had completely absorbed Czechoslovakia. If honorable members .believe that we can negotiate satisfactorily with men who have adopted the “big lie” as their policy, they are making a great mistake. Before we can engage in discussions around the table, there must he definite evidence of honesty and sincerity. So far, Germany has not given evidence of honesty.
In regard to foreign affairs generally, we in this country cannot formulate a policy which is in opposition to that of the best interests of the British Empire. But we can say - and on this the whole basis of the unity of the Empire depends - that we have a right to be consulted and to be supplied with all available information, so that we may confer with other portions of the Empire in arriving at a common policy. It was, therefore, with great joy that I heard the Minister say to-day that all the information that is obtained hy the Foreign Office in London is telegraphed immediately to the dominions. Only by formulating .a policy in consultation with other parts of the Empire can we hope to succeed. I hope that in the formulation of Empire policy there will be a stiffening of the attitude previously adopted by the British Government, a determination not to yield another foot in Europe, for I am firmly of the opinion that any yielding in respect of Danzig or the Polish corridor will be regarded by other countries as evidence of weakness, and by the dictator countries as an incentive to make even greater demands. Any one who has travelled abroad, particularly on the Continent, knows of the belief widely current in some countries that the British people are becoming decadent. That opinion must not be allowed to gain ground.
I welcome the announcement that in the future Australia will play a much greater part in eastern affairs than formerly. It may be said that Western affairs are largely outside Australia’s ambit ; but the East is almost at our door. It is only right that in the formulation of policy connected with the East and the Pacific Ocean, Australia should play a major part. The decision to establish legations at Tokio and Washington is a matter for congratulation.
There is great need for. a broader conception of foreign affairs on the part of the Australian people. On . many occasions in the past I was told that New Guinea might just as well be in the hands of a European power, as, in that event, there would be another great power in the Pacific in the event of war, but during recent years I have not heard that opinion expressed. To-day, Australians regard New Guinea as a place of great strategic importance to the Commonwealth. Indeed, there are many who urge the fortification of that territory in order to prevent it from becoming the base for aggressive action against Australia. That altered opinion is evidence of an enlarged vision, but there is need for an even wider outlook. Australian interests are not confined to this continent and the waters surrounding it. This country’s trade is with all parts of the world, much of it passing through the Mediterranean Sea or around the Cape of Good Hope. If our trade relations with other countries are to be maintained and our standard of living not . lowered, we in this country must realize our obligations in respect of certain strategic points long distances from our own shores. Earl Baldwin once said that Britain’s frontier had shifted to the Rhine, and more recently some one has claimed that it has shifted further east to the Vistula. Similarly, Australia’s frontier can certainly be said to extend as far as Singapore, and possibly, further. That being so, Australia must be vitally interested in anything that affects India, the Suez Canal, Palestine and the Netherlands
East Indies. The control of those places is of vital interest . to - us. I emphasize the great importance of the Mediterranean Sea ; through it much of our trade is carried and from that quarter . help must come in the event of attack on Australia. I stress, therefore, the need for a wider vision, not only in regard to New Guinea, but also in regard to Singapore, and other strategic points.
The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) stressed the fact that trade relations are inseparably linked with the present world situation. The Government should realize that its trade policy and its foreign policy must harmonize. To-day’s newspapers contain references to a huge programme of industrial expansion in Australia. It would appear to be a policy similar to that which had led to such dire consequences in Europe- a policy of economic nationalism. That policy is as old as the hills. Napoleon adopted it, and was wrecked by it. It is a policy which will definitely endanger the peace of the world if allowed to continue. By all means let us develop our industries, but, at the same time, let us make sure that our trade activities do not run counter to our foreign policy. We should guard against placing any obstacle in the way of friendly relations with those countries whose co-operation we need so urgently at present. During the last few months the defence ‘ and security of Australia have been definitely enhanced by the transfer of the American Fleet from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The very fact that the Government intends to establish a legation at Washington is a sufficient indication that it fully realizes the value to Australia of the goodwill of the people of the United States of America. In all our dealings with that country, we must make it clear that not only is its trade of great advantage to us, but also that Australia’s market is of considerable value to it. I say again that the Government should ensure that in its industrial and trade activities it will do nothing that will run counter to a sound foreign policy. As I said earlier, we have the paradox of mobilizing our armed forces whilst sincerely desiring the maintenance of peace. At present we can take only one line of action; until the dictators give some definite proof of their bona fides, we can follow no other course than counter force with force. Let us- hope that before long such an indication will be given. Until then, however, the only line of action open to us is to strengthen our defences to such an extent as to make aggression against us a hazardous venture. We have better prospects of preventing war by adopting a firm foreign policy than by pursuing a vacillating and weak one. That is the only effective course open to us at present. Let us hope that before long signs will appear on the international horizon that the leaders of the nations are prepared in genuine humility to sit in conference with the object of discovering a way out of the present impasse that will guarantee the peace of the world.
.- I am very disappointed with the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett) on international relations, because it has proved to he only a resume of what we have already read in the press. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) declared that the influence of the democracies has declined, but he did not say why, or how, that had occurred. The honorable member would be enlightened on this point if he read some of the books and publications now being published on the subject. I wholeheartedly support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). In the course of his speech, the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) referred to Hitler, and when I asked him who was the power behind Hitler he replied that he did not know. That is a very significant admission by an honorable gentleman who claims respect as one of the legislators of the Commonwealth. I shall answer that question for him when, in my humble way, I deal with the factors which are responsible for the present unsettled international position. Previous speakers have discussed international events and have suggested certain remedies, but we have not yet been told of the hidden forces which are responsible for the present world unrest. When future generations study the history of this era they will marvel at the gullibility and credulity of the peoples of the world in allowing certain sections to get away with what they are “ putting over “ the people at the present time.
Dealing with the factors which have led up to the present position, I refer first to the great awakening which came to a very small section of the community, the international financial manipulators, as the result pf the financial crisis of 1907. That minority then realized that something would have to be done to prevent the control of the present economic order from slipping out of ite hands. In these circumstances Paul Warburg, an American banker, propounded a scheme which, fortunately for the world, was not accepted by the financial dictators of the United States of America. However, in 1913 that scheme was resurrected and implemented by the financial magnates of that country, and its adoption resulted in the establishment of the Federal Reserve Board. In regard to that ‘body I cannot do better than quote the opinion of Sir Josiah Stamp, a director of the Bank of England, and one of the leading economists of the world, who, in an interview published in the National Bank Monthly for February, 1926, said -
Never in the history of the world has so much power been vested in a small body of men as in the Federal Reserve Board. These men have the welfare of the world in their hands, and they could upset the rest of us either deliberately or by some unconscious action. Mind you, I am not criticising them, but it is precarious to have such concentrated power vested in such a body.
In his book, America Conquers Britain, published in 1930, Mr. Ludwell Denny wrote -
Many nations may laugh at our State Department, but all must tremble before our
Federal Reserve Board….. High money rates in the United States of America early in 1929, for instance, forced an increase in the official discount rates at once in ‘ England, ten European countries, in two Latin-American -countries, and two in the Far East, and in almost every ease that action restricted business and brought suffering to millions of foreign workers. That blow hit Britain hardest of all. It checked trade revival.
These statements clearly reveal a situation in which, by legislative enactment, this body is enabled to hold in its palm the welfare not only of the United States of America, but also of the whole world. This fact has been realized by so eminent a banking authority as .Mr;
Ludwell Denny. There is ample evidence that considerable differences existed between the financial interests of Great Britain and those of the United States of America. As the result of such differences an international conference of bankers was held at Brussels in 1919 with the object of rehabilitating world conditions, and devising means whereby thousands of men demobilized from the armies of the world could be re-absorbed in industry. That conference recommended a policy of deflation. Its recommendation was adopted by some of the smaller nations, but the United States of America refused to have anything to do with it and, consequently, reaped a rich harvest. In 1928, however, came the crash in Wall-street, a catastrophe which was brought about more or less by those interests which control the present economic order.
Turning to the financial control of Germany I quote the following remarks by Sir Oswald Stoll in his Freedom in Finance : -
The financial ring which girdles the earth is gathered from all nations. Powerful elements in it arc essentially American, but the dominating influence is teutonic.
Dealing with the German banking system the same writer says -
Six great German banks control scores of thousands of millions of capital throughout the world through direct and indirect associations and silent partnerships. See document No. 593 of the United States of America Senate issued at Washington by the National Monetary Commission.
This document, which consists of over 1,000 pages, deals with “ the German great banks and their concentration in connexion with the economic development of Germany “, and shows clearly that the heavy industries of Germany are controlled by a small financial coterie. Through directors of financial institutions in the United States of America, this coterie is linked with that country. I shall show later how the financial interests of Germany and Great Britain are interwoven. German financiers have secured control of the economic system in Germany through the activities of cartels, syndicates and trusts which, in turn, control retailers to whom they dictate the prices to be charged, as well as the quantities of each commodity to be sold. Thus, the bankers have complete control of the wholesale and retail business of Germany. In 1928, unemployment was rife throughout the world, particularly in France, Great Britain, Germany and the United States of America, and in the following year the depression further swelled the ranks of the workless in these countries. If it had no other effect in the United States of America, that depression at least stimulated organization among the working classes. Since that time we have witnessed the rapid expansion of labour organizations there. Unfortunately, numerous small banking houses throughout the country went bankrupt, and this further aided the concentration of financial control in the hands of a few. When this depression was “ pulled “ in the United States of America, representatives of the financial interests concerned were sent to London, Paris and Hamburg. At the same time, Australia was visited by Sir Otto Neimeyer and Professor Gregory. Unfortunately for themselves, those responsible for this depression found that they had created a financial Frankenstein, and when they reviewed the wreckage after 1931 they realized that they had interfered with the foundations of the existing economic order. Consequently, it became only a matter of time when the system itself would collapse. Thus* was brought about the state of affairs which was responsible for the rise of Hitler in Germany, and, for the information particularly of the honorable member for Parkes, I point out that the interests which were responsible for his rise were the financial manipulators of Germany, linked with financial monopolists throughout the world.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 p.m. to 8 p.m.
– The deflationist policy which followed the Wall-street crash produced chaotic conditions in every country. It was responsible for the smashing of wage rates, the deterioration of working conditions, and the increase of unemployment to unheard-of records. It also had the effect of great numbers of people rushing to join the trade unions in different parts of Europe. The workers’ organizations of France, Germany and the United States of America became powerful, and their numerical strength attained new limits. This new factor had to be faced by those who controlled the financial institutions. An attack was subsequently made upon the workers’ organizations of the United States of America, but it was repelled because President Roosevelt gave to the industrial organizations of that country greater status and power than they had prior to the deflationary period. The German trade unions, also well entrenched when Hitler took control of the destinies of Germany, were, however, faced with a recrudescence of the military spirit. This spirit had been systematically- developed in the people of Germany for many years. Unfortunately, the few years when militarism seemed to be declining proved to . be only a lull. The “ brown shirts “ began to appear in the streets of German cities, and, by using the cry that the Versailles Treaty had wrecked the German nation, they secured the support of large numbers. It was not long before the Nazi party dominated the German Parliament; its leader was enabled to take control of the affairs of the nation, and alter the method of representation in that democratic institution, the German Parliament, just as a few years previously the loader of the Fascist party in Italy, supported by wealthy financial institutions, had taken control in that country, and altered the method of election to the Italian Parliament. Following the coming into power of the Nazi leaders, German wage rates were smashed, and the living conditions of the people destroyed. Many thousands of Germans were forced into concentration camps, and the leaders of the German trade union movement were either gaoled or shot. The emergence of these conditions demonstrated to the world at large that -the German Nazi party was definitely opposed to the German workers, and was supported by the vested interests which are the natural enemies of the working class of every country. So we see that in Italy and Germany vested interests assumed control of the affairs of the nations, with the result that both countries were soon armed to the teeth.
The . ultimate objective, of course, is to form a Nazi or Fascist bloc, and make Europe a Fascist State. An important step to this end is the encirclement of France by the Fascist and Nazi powers of Italy, Spain and Germany. By this means it is hoped to smash the strong trade union movement of France, which has made such great progress that not long ago the Socialist party formed the Government of that country for a brief period. This Fascist bloc is undoubtedly designed to destroy trade unionism first in France and ultimately throughout the world. By such a process France would gradually become a totalitarian state. If that should happen Great Britain will find itself faced with a Fascist Europe. The purpose of all this is, undoubtedly, to enable Fascist Europe to attack Communist Russia. Whether the form of government in Russia is right or wrong, according to our views, does not matter. The fact we have to face is that the European Nazi bloc is being formed wholly and solely to oppose Russia and to throw the world into a war.
When the Munich Pact was signed last year we all were very thankful that the war had been staved off: but it appears that the totalitarian states are determined that the nations of Europe shall be lined up in opposition to Russia, because vested interests are bitterly opposed to the economic system of Russia. That system, of course,, is different from the economic system of the rest of the civilized world. The Nazi and Russian systems of industry cannot operate side by side. Therefore there must ultimately be a conflict.
We all know that Czechoslovakia, which was brought under the domination of Germany last year, had a military alliance with Russia. France, and also England, to some extent, had entered into obligations to support Czechoslovakia. This was the situation when the crisis in world affairs occurred last September. We were not told at that time by the press of this country, nor have we been told since the signing of the Munich Pact, that on the 10th May last year, four months before the September crisis, a dinner was given at the London residence of Viscountess Astor to representatives of the American press for the express purpose of enabling them to be introduced to the Prime Minister of Great Britain. At that dinner, the British Prime Minister told the press representatives that Czechoslovakia was to be handed over to Germany. Although these facts have never been revealed in -the press of this country they are irrefutable. On Saturday, the 14th May, the New York Times published an article by its outside contributor “ Augur “ to the effect that the dinner to which I have referred actually took place and that the Prime Minister had stated that Czechoslovakia was . to be handed to Germany. On the same day Mr. Joseph Driscoll, “in an article in the Montreal Daily Star, informed the people of Canada that it was the intention of the Chamberlain Government to connive at the handing over of Czechoslovakia to Germany. Shortly after these press reports were published, a discussion on the subject occurred in the British House of Commons and the Prime Minister denied that any interview took place. He said that there could be no suggestion of such an interview. Viscountess Astor made a personal explanation on this subject in the House of Commons on the 27th June. She said -
I never had any intention of denying that the Prime Minister had attended a luncheon in my house. The Prime Minister did so attend, the object being to enable some American journalists who had not met him to do so privately and informally. What I did deny, and still deny, is the suggestion that what took place was an interview. An interview is a “meeting arranged with a view of communicating information intended specifically to be made the subject of articles in the press.
Other facts have also come to light concerning the Munich Pact which cause us to have grave doubts whether it is really the godsend that we thought it was at the time it was made. I was under the impression, from what I had read in the press, that the British Prime Minister was accompanied by only a small party of officials when he went to Munich; but it is now revealed that Lord Londonderry, the chairman of the Conservative party in Great Britain, also went to Munich. Forty-four other members of the House of Lords went to Nuremburg to meet Hitler during the congress. We also learn now that at a conference held at Kiel in Germany, in 1938, three months before the Munich conference, a number of banking officials, railway directors and other captains of industry from Great Britain met General Goering and other German army leaders. There is in England an Anglo-German Fellowship pro-Fascist in its outlook. It was made clear that this fellowship was something really worth cultivating in the interests of Germany. Sir Thomas Moore, an official of the Anglo-German Fellowship, wrote in the Sunday Despatch -
If we were to isolate Germany and therefore prove to the German people that Herr Hitler had failed them, deluded them, betrayed them, then eventually they, would discard him and seek another god. There is only one other, and that is communism. If that change were to take place then Russia would have a ready adherent.
If those statements mean anything at all they mean that the disaster that we thought to be inevitable last September has only been postponed. It appears to be quite certain that vested interests in the different countries of the world intend to force the workers of all .nations to go to war.
I wish to make it quite clear that personally I am opposed to all forms of force, but I think it is high time that what took place prior to and at Munich should be revealed to the general public. The Lyons Government adopted a “ hush-hush “ policy, and did everything possible to prevent honorable members from discussing these subjects. The Menzies Government, we should remember, consists of practically the same team with a new captain. Apparently it expects U9 to accept as gospel everything that it states and everything that appears in the newspapers. Herr Hitler, in his last speech, declared that rauch of the enmity that existed throughout the world to-day was due to press propaganda. It is obvious to me that the news w« get in the press is not all the news, but only what the editors choose to publish.
The totalitarian states have been constituted with one objective, namely, to stage a war against Russia. I maintain that what takes place in Russia is the concern of the Russians, just as what takes place in Australia is the concern of the Australians, and what takes place in France and England is the concern of Frenchmen and Englishmen respectively.
The immediate concern of the dictatorships when they were established was to create work for the vast army of unemployed who were walking the streets, an army which if it had continued to be unemployed, must have become a grave danger to the existing order. The first objective of the dictatorships was to stave off the threatened revolution. Then the totalitarian states were to be aimed, and the second objective was to be an attack upon the Russian Government. The third objective was the making of millions of pounds by the armament ring, which is part and parcel of the financial ring that controls the destinies of the world to-day.
A great change has come over the European scene. Austria was handed over to Germany without a blow being struck. Czechoslovakia was seized by Germany,* notwithstanding the fact that Czechoslovakia had expended over £80,000,000 on armaments, and that its people were armed to the teeth, and prepared to die in defence of their country. In spite of the existence of alliances, no one came to the assistance of that country, and it had to bow to the will of Germany. Then it was Poland’s turn, and immediately Germany formulated demands against that country. This time, however, there was a different story to tell. Great Britain and France backed the independence of Poland.
It seemed that Hitler, because of the assistance he had given to Franco in Spain, was likely to receive great favours from that gentleman. It is proposed that the territory of Ceuta in North Africa might he handed over to Germany, and if that were done it is possible that Britain’s vital line of communication with the East would be threatened, if not severed. Another fly in the ointment was that Hitler had broken with the old, conservative methods of finance, and had embarked upon a policy of internal credits, something which was opposed to the interests of the international financial ring. Moreover, Hitler had inherited the idea of carrying out the old Bismarck plan of expansion to the south-east through the Balkan Peninsula, Turkey, Persia, and on to India. Thus the interests, and even the very existence, of the British Empire might be threatened. There followed an understanding between Britain, France and Poland. But where was Russia in all this? I am not speaking as a Communist, or as one holding a brief for Russia, but as one who is opposed to war. Russia has made no move because Russia realizes that if Poland falls, the attack on Russia will not be far off. We, as individuals, are small pawns in the game of international politics. In this world more consideration is given to wealth than to human life. If war is staved off for ever, as I hope it will be, then the stand taken by the Chamberlain Government will go down in history as one of the greatest events that has. ever occurred in the history of the world. All Australians desire to live at peace with the rest of the world, so that this country may work out its own destiny. It is our fervent hope to continue to make Australia a country worth living in, a country worthy of its place as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
– I propose to address myself to the subject of international relations, a subject concerning which we have heard singularly little during the course of this debate. We have heard much concerning matters which have little to do with international relations, ‘but very little concerning the present condition of international affairs in Europe and the Pacific, and still less concerning the Government’s attitude to international problems as they affect Australia. Certain points must be borne in mind when we are endeavouring to size up the attitude of one country, or group of countries, to the problems of international relationship, or the attempts made to secure by diplomatic pressure the objectives which countries have in view. These points may be classed under five main headings. A country may desire to maintain the status quo by its own influence, or by working in conjunction with certain allies; it may desire to secure an alteration of the status quo ; it may desire to prevent another country from securing such an alteration; it may desire to compel another power to observe the status quo; or it may desire to assist another power to secure alterations of the status quo
It is necessary that we should take into account the means by which the present relationship between the various countries, particularly of Europe, was brought about, and in order to do that we must go back to a time before the 1914 clash. There was a period of international animosity, accompanied by the building up of armaments throughout Europe and, to a lesser extent, in Asia. There is no need to go into the causes of the Great War, which became known as a war to end war. I can only say that we succeeded in closing that war by signing a peace to end peace. It has become evident that, since the conclusion of the Treaty of Versailles, we have experienced a period of disquietude, uncertainty and unrest which was only equalled by the similar period which followed the close of the Napoleonic wars, and continued to 1848 or 1849.
There are two methods of arriving at a peace after the cessation of hostilities. One is by the negotiation of peace, and the other is by the dictation of peace. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I believe that the history of the world has proved that it is far better to negotiate a peace, even though one be the victor in a Avar, than for the conqueror to impose his will arbitrarily upon the vanquished. That has been amply borne out by the experience of Europe during the last twenty years. The occupation of the Rhineland by foreign troops, the taking away of certain areas from what were previously the German and Austrian empires, as well as the seizure of territory belonging to Bulgaria and Turkey without consultation with what was left of the governments of those countries, and certainly without consulting, except to a very limited degree, the wishes of the people concerned, have led to a state of affairs which can be remedied only by the negotiation of new treaties, or by a clash of arms, so that force may bring about what diplomacy has failed to achieve.
Arising also out of the Treaty of Versailles is, on the one hand, the present relationship of Great Britain to the dominions and, on the other, the collective relationship of the British Commonwealth of Nations to the world generally. Prior to the world war, there was only one diplomatic channel of communication between the British Empire and other countries, namely, the Foreign Office in London. Since the war. the various British dominions have evolved their own foreign policies, and have established their own diplomatic contacts with foreign countries. Now it is proposed that Australia shall appoint diplomatic representatives at Washington and Tokyo. That can be but the beginning of such a policy ; it cannot be the end of this venture into the realm of diplomacy. Other countries have claims upon our attention just as logical, even if not as urgent, as those of Japan and the United States of America, and eventually, if we are to pursue this course, we must appoint, diplomatic representatives to them also. Thus we shall become involved in a comprehensive and expensive system of oversea, representation.
Much has been said during the course of this debate regarding fascism and communism. The soil on which those plants grow is only, to be found in countries which have been beaten to their knees by warfare, either successful or unsuccessful. Alike in victorious “ Italy and defeated Germany and Hungary, the conditions brought about by war produced the fallow upon which the crops of communism and fascism were able to grow. It stands to reason that if further hostilities occur in this troubled part of Europe they will be attended by devastating results to all countries. It was only by the exercise of such power as we had over Germany, Italy, Russia or Turkey that these smaller countries were brought out of the gutter, so to speak, and placed upon their feet.
Poverty, defeat and despair had been their lot.
There is a tendency to endeavour to secure a line-up of powers throughout the world. In March last we saw reference to this in a section of the Australian press. One newspaper in Sydney, I think it was the Daily Telegraph - and I suggest that the initial letters for that publication, might well have stood for something else at the time - endeavoured to build a line-up of what are called the democratic and dictator powers. And among the- democratic powers mentioned I noticed with some surprise the .names of such countries as Russia, Roumania and Yugoslavia. On this aspect I can only say that if there is a tendency on the part of this Parliament to take part in a line-up of that description and in the “manner indicated by that newspaper the outlook for the people of this country will he indeed hopeleas. Personally, I believe that the only countries in Europe which to-day can lay claim to be under democratic governments are Britain and France, the three Scandinavian powers, Finland and the Low Countries, with, possibly, some of those small States east of the Baltic. Among the dictator powers are such countries as Russia, Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia, Roumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Spain. There is no suggestion that there is to be a line up of powers, the democracies on one side and the dictatorships on the other. The line up is going to be according to their grievances and their desires for territorial and trade expansion. It is not going to be on the basis of the governments they keep in power.
A good deal has been said lately about what are termed aggressor and nonaggressor powers. What really constitutes an aggressor power? The his.tory of some of the European democracies, particularly the great colonial powers of Britain, France, Holland and perhaps also Portugal and Spain, is such that it would he interesting to discover when acquisition of colonial territories ceased to be what is now regarded as aggression. It stands to reason that the people living in many of the territories now under the control of Great Britain, for example, were not asked whether they ‘wished to become subjects of the British Empire, or whether they preferred to remain in undisturbed possession of the countries in which they lived. There is no doubt that, under present conditions, the manner in which Great Britain acquired some of its colonies would to-day be called by the much nastier term of aggression, though
I am aware that, at the present time, it is not quite fashionable to look some facts in the face.
– -So force prevailed on those occasions.
– Force always prevails. There is no greater exponent of force than honorable members of the Labour party. The recording, of votes at the ballot-box is a display of force - the assertion of the power of the majority. Democracy rests on force of numbers and on nothing else.
Another line-up during recent years has been on the basis of the “ Have “ and the “Have-not” powers. Some countries have great colonial possessions; others have none. Personally I doubt whether the ownership of colonies is at all times an advantage to the country which has acquired them. Sometimes they may bc an embarrassing burden. But I can understand the attitude of those people who look at the map of the world, and, seeing great colonies held by European countries small in area - Britain, France, Belgium - think that this ownership confers great benefits upon the country owning them, and that the unequal distribution can be overcome only by methods that I shall not discuss to-night.
Then there is the subject of grievances. We shall not get a clear understanding of what is wrong in Europe until we have investigated the grievances under which the governments of the various countries believe their people to be suffering. Let us consider first the position of Poland, one of the great European powers with which we are endeavouring to make an alliance. The people of that country, so far as I can understand the situation, ought to be more than a satisfied community- But against Poland Germany certainly has grievances. Incorporated in Poland is the free city of Danzig, with an entirely German population, and a strip of country known as the Corridor, which, while giving Poland access to the sea, severs Germany from East Prussia. .It includes former German areas containing valuable mineral deposits and the highly industrialized Upper Silesia which is German in every respect. Thus it will be seen that Germany has grievances which may well lead to an armed conflict with its neighbour, Poland. These difficulties can only be overcome by methods which I shall not discuss to-night. But I have to ask myself whether the British Commonwealth is going to consider that the retention by Poland of certain territories that are German in every respect, is a question on which British lives are to be sacrificed and British wealth dissipated in. a war against Germany for the protection of Poland’s interests.
We have to consider also the position of Roumania, another of our projected allies. Roumania is in possession of a considerable area of former Bulgarian territory known as the Dobruja, as well as Bessarabia, an area purely Russian in character, and Transylvania. Whether Roumania is right in trying to hold such territory is beside the point, but it is in possession as the result of the Versailles treaty. Is it proposed that there shall be an alliance between Great Britain and Roumania in order to force certain people to remain under the Roumanian- Government? These are only two examples of the dangers confronting Great Britain. When we see Germany, a large, populous, highly-civilized country, ringed about with what it considers grievances, British diplomacy, and, to the extent to which we participate, Australian diplomacy, must look the facts in the face. We must ask ourselves whether the settlement of these grievances calls for the most skilful diplomacy on the part of Britain, and, to the extent to which we participate in the direction of British foreign policy, to Australian diplomacy as well. Countries like Italy, Germany and Japan are suffering grievances and, if so, what are the best methods which we and our collaborators can employ for the dissolution of such grievances. I am not saying at this stage that these matters should be recognized by us as grievances, but in order to arrive at a proper understanding of foreign policy, this Parliament must look at these things, not only from our own point of view, and the way in which they affect our interests, but also from the viewpoint of other powers. It is only by getting an appreciation of the other man’s point of view that we can expect a true understanding of the world situation and determine on the wisest course to ensure peace, which I believeis the sincere desire of the people of all countries.
Since the conclusion of the Great Warwe have seen the establishment of new European powers within the altered political boundaries decided upon at the Versailles Conference. The difficulties arising from this re-alignment of the peoples of Europe, has been a bone of contention for a great many years. One of these new powers has been practically dissolved. What the final terms of dissolution are we do not, at this stage, know; but we do know that something new has appeared in world affairs. I refer to the method by which Germany is securing domination over certain other territories in Europe. Two things stand out in bold relief. One is the remarkable success with which the German Fuhrer has selected the time at which to strike, and the second is the bloodlessness of his conquests.
– Not bloodless in every case.
– As a student of world history, I can only say that if the great body of public opinion in those countries was sincerely hostile to the invader I cannot understand why hostilities did not break out:
– It is reported that 99 per cent, of the people of Austria voted for incorporation with Germany.
– That was after the seizure of Austria.
– The remarkable success achieved by Hitler during the last eighteen months or two years, is the result of his ability to choose the right time and employ to the greatest advantage the element of surprise. The latest change has been in Albania, which is now a part of the Italian Empire. The Balkans have always been regarded as the danger spot of Europe. I understand that Czechoslovakia recognizes no fewer than five official languages in its army and three or four more in the territories incorporated within its boundaries as a result of the Peace Treaty. I do not know how many are recognized in Yugoslavia. It contains a considerable population of Croats, Slovenes, Bosnians, Montenegrins, Serbs and Bulgarians, all of whom are grouped as Yugoslavs, and we are in the unfortunate habit of looking upon them as a - complete homogeneous community, - comparable with our own, whereas they are nothing of the sort. If Great Britain, France or any other country is expected to intervene and’ fight for the preservation of those territories every time that war is threatened, I am afraid they will produce material for more wars in five years than their protectors will be able to fight in a hundred years.
Certain principles ought to be observed by any government when considering an alliance with another power, especially if the alliance is likely to lead us into hostilities after a short period. I think that the first of them should be, that there is a community of interest between the two powers affected ; the second, that there should he identity of objective between those two powers; the third, that there should be geographical or strategical capacity to render mutual aid; and the fourth, that operations of a military character will result in a concentration of forces on the third party rather than in dispersion of the efforts of the allies. I am afraid that certain of the alliances referred to to-day do not measure up to those requirements. I should like to know where, exactly, is the community of interest between Great Britain and Russia? “Where can be the identity of objective between a country that is anti-Communist and one that is Communist, especially when the matter is viewed in relation to the third parties affected ? I also want to know where are those geographical and strategical considerations which would render it possible for us and for Roumania and Poland mutually to aid each other? I look at the long lines of communication from Great Britain, round the Kattegat, up past the German coast to Danzig - the only piece of sea coast Poland has, and one which would be shot to pieces by the first rapid German invasion. It would not need more than an army corps to go through there. We should then have no means of access to Poland. Poland is as effectively cut off from the sea as Switzerland has been throughout its history. How should we send arms into Poland? Of what use would ships be to a country which had no sea coast? Aircraft, he it ever so strong,- would not he permitted to cross Germany to go to the assistance of Poland. So in order to assist Poland we should have to fight a diversion war; in other words, in order to relieve pressure on Poland we should have to attack Germany on the western front. Again, I say that that is a prospect to which no statesman, either of” Great Britain or of this country, could look forward with equanimity.
Now take the case of Roumania. If, as is visualized, our opponents were Germany and Italy, we should have to run the gauntlet of any submarine campaign in the Atlantic. We should have to get into the Mediterranean, which would be to a greater degree under the influence - I shall not say the control - of Italy than has ever been the case in past wars. We should have to traverse the whole of the Mediterranean, to pass the Dardanelles - which this time might be held by a hostile Bulgaria - and the Bosphorous - which might again be held by a hostile Bulgaria - and assist Roumania through the Black Sea. These lines of communication are so long and so attenuated that it is almost impossible for any sane man, having any regard whatever for the considerations that arise- military, naval, and in respect of communications - to pay any reasonable attention to the proposal.
– What aTe we to do - give Germany the lot?
– I do not know that it is our affair. This is on3 of the things that we have to square up. I have heard honora’ble gentlemen say, “ You canont allow any further German expansion to the east; Germany would possess itself of the wheat and oil of Roumania.” Let me point out to honorable members that during the last war Germany held every inch of what was lately known as Czechoslovakia, every inch of Austria, practically the whole of Poland - at one stage every inch of it - all of Yugoslavia, a considerable portion of Greece, and the whole, of Bulgaria and Roumania. Turkey was on its side - the old Turkey, not the new. Germany had access to all that oil and wheat, and obtained its requirements at very small cost. If any honorable member of this House cares to read the history of - the invasion of Roumania by Von Mackensen, he will realize that the Kingdom of Roumania, which is held up to-day as one of the bulwarks of peace and of democracy in Europe, was con:quered by a handful of a reserve division of the German army in a period of about six weeks. I say that Roumania is a reed on which neither this country nor Great Britain can afford to lean. Considerations of this sort must be weighed when we are choosing our allies. Just as we pick the enemy that we are going to fight, so also let us exercise a little common sense and circumspection in our selection of those who are likely to stand by our side. Therefore we have to consider the question to which I referred in principle number 4, namely, the dispersion of effort. One of the principles to be observed should be the concentration of your greatest possible force at the weakest point in the defences of your enemy. With allies of this description, not strength, but weakness would bo brought to any alliance. They would demand ships, aeroplanes, and above all, munitions and the transport necessary to- take those munitions to them. These would impose upon the resources of Great Britain and its dominions, a strain which it would be very difficult for those resources to meet. Consequently, I say that, in considering he foreign policy of this country, we have to take into account matters of that description.
The Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett) referred in his speech to the United States of America. I admit that the United States of America is able to exercise great force. But its reluctance to use that force in any venture outside American territories is fairly well known. Once only has it been embroiled in a European war, and if I am any judge of its policy, it is not only the intention but also the determination of the American people that that time shall be the last. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) made some reference to what he termed the common origin of the United States of America. It has a most uncommon origin. Its people have come from- every one of these quibbling, squabbling, central European States. There is no such thing as a common origin, and consequently there is no such thing as a common outlook, in the United States of America. It regards European politics, and world affairs generally, from the viewpoint of every minority within its borders. That was proved during the last war. One of the reasons why Woodrow Wilson could not send troops to Europe at an earlier stage than he did, even if he were willing to do so, was the hostility of the huge German and Austrian minorities within his country. If it were a matter to-day of lining up in European politics, the United States of America would be faced with the same minority problem a3 it faced in 1916 and 1917. The minorities apply the brake.
– I believe that the honorable member is talking to the German minority in his electorate.
– I do not admit that I am, although I may say that I fought alongside a few of them - as did my friend the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) - in the South Australian battalion. If trouble came again I would very much sooner fight side by side with some GermanAustralians in my electorate than with one or two of my friends opposite.
I come now to the last consideration, namely, the Australian position in relation to the Pacific. We have to consider this, because we are in a peculiar position. We are about to enter into diplomatic relations with the governments of the United States of America and Japan. The Minister for External Affairs this afternoon laid great stress on the necessity for friendship between Japan and the Commonwealth of Australia. Again I say that the matter resolves itself into one of interest. The criticism levelled at Japan on account of the venture into which it has entered in China has found many repercussions in this country - repercussions which have found expression in this House, on the waterfront, in the street, in the press, over the air, and in other quarters. This brings us up against a great problem. Because we are a small country - small in numbers, though not in area - with great problems of development ahead of us, it is necessary for us to take an everincreasing interest in the relationship which exists between Great Britain and the different countries of Europe ; because peace and British security, and the supremacy of British foreign policy in Europe, mean for us that peace and security which out of our own resources of money and man power we could not purchase for ourselves. Therefore, this matter of European peace even overshadows some considerations which under happier circumstances - happier to the extent of the difference in our conditions were our population 20,000,000 instead of 7,000,000 - would not weigh so heavily with us. My only concern is that the Government shall use every endeavour, whenever the opportunity is presented, to ensure that British policy is firm, strong, and united; above all, that it is well directed - that it is directed towards tasks which are capable of accomplishment and, principally, capable of justification.
.- I have heard many addresses from the honorable member who has just concluded his speech, but I had never hoped for such longevity as would enable me to hear from him a speech with which I entirely agreed. Yet the totally unexpected has occurred. If I have served no other useful purpose as -a representative of a section of the democracy in this Parliament, at least I can go down to my grave claiming that I have made one convert at least.
I pass from the sublime to the less so, from the speech of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) to that of the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett). I pass from that to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), merely for the purpose of saying that I agree, as I usually do, with everything that my leader has said, with a single exception, namely, that part of his speech in which he said that by his speech the Minister for External Affairs had made a valuable contribution to the records of this Parliament. With that sentiment I take leave totally to disagree. Notwithstanding the fact that the latter portion of the speech was in agreement with my views - being totally opposed to the first portion, which was completely opposed to my views - I desire to say that I regard the speech as being prejudiced, contradictory, and in terms calculated to incite friendly peoples against this country, which is so much in need of friendly neighbours. If I had made this speech immediately following that of the Minister for External Affairs, my observations about his speech, even within the limits imposed by the Standing Orders, would have been much more bitter than anything that I have so far said. But after dinner, when one is enjoying a gentlemanly state of repletion, one is able to approach these matters with a more balanced mind than in the latter part of the afternoon when one is somewhat tired and hungry. That is the only reason why I have not been more condemnatory of the speech made by the honorable gentleman. This Government, this little, marooned, helpless minority-Government, invites, or incites - I hardly know which - a discussion on foreign affairs with the appearance of magnanimity and a desire to give to honorable members an opportunity to discuss what they insist is a most important subject. . The truth is that, having taken their places on the Government bench, Ministers did not prepare a programme because they did not expect to be there the next day. Even now, they are living from day to day in expectation of the axe. Having no programme, and very little hope for the future, they say “ Put foreign affairs before members, and then they can go all over the world, from the north pole to the south pole, as on one of Cook’s specially conducted tours, and everything that they say will be in order”. And so we are spending the greater part of to-day’s sitting on matters which really have very little concern at all with Australia, notwithstanding the fact that there are many pressing and urgent matters awaiting attention that do intimately affect the people of this country. Most of us have had experience of some of these things, for when we go home at week-ends we meet people on our doorsteps, or lined up in processions, asking for letters of introduction to the munition works, or for something in the nature of employment somewhere. Most of us have experience similar to that indicated to us by the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr), who cited a responsible educational authority as having asked whether’ this Parliament could not do something to solve the grave social problem of the increasing numbers of unemployed youths in this country. These are some of the problems that we might have been facing, and upon which a little money might have been spent. But they are not to be considered as urgent or as important as happenings in the Balkan States, Czechoslovakia, Bohemia, Poland, and other places in Europe. The cry is “ Let us get to Europe out of Australia ; let us be anything on God’s earth but Australians in an Australian parliament, doing the work that we were sent here to do “. I am, nevertheless, interested in foreign affairs as a study in my leisure time, of which I have very little, because I am interested in the human family, regarded as a band of brothers and sisters. In a secondary sense, I am interested in it because I realize the danger of this meddling and muddling Government lasting long enough to embroil the people of this country in one of those petty’ wars in Central Europe to which the honorable member for Barker made such eloquent and wellinformed reference.
I should like occasionally to remind honorable members of this House that Australia is an autonomous nation which has no responsibility, either in law or in fact, to any other country, and, notwithstanding opinions held to the contrary by other persons for whose scholarship I ‘ have great respect, I maintain that only the Australian Government, that is to say, the representative of the Sovereign on the advice of the Australian Government, can involve Australia in war or proclaim peace for Australia should it be at war. If it be a fact, as has been publicly declared and preached the world over, originating in Great Britain itself, that Australia is a nation and is not in any particular whatsoever subordinate to any other dominion or to Great Britain itself, how can it be suggested, or argued, that we can be at war by the will of some other nation to which, as a matter of law and practice, it is publicly declared that we are not in any way whatever subject or responsible, the more so as this position is ratified by the statute law of Great Britain? It has been said that the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations have a common Sovereign That is perfectly true; but they have a Sovereign who, in each case, according to equally well-established constitutional theory, acts upon the advice of the executive government of the particular dominion or country whose interests are affected. That fact is accepted. as law by each of the dominions, and by Great Britain, and therefore it should be beyond the need for demonstration that nothing but the will of the Australian people, acting through an Australian government, can possibly, either in law or in fact, involve this country in war.
– What about an enemy fleet?
– The attitude of other countries is a separate matter. They may insist upon regarding Australia as an enemy because some other dominion, or Britain itself, is involved in war. I am not saying what other nations may do in any particular set of circumstances, but I do say that the view that we ought to promulgate is that Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, is mistress of its own destiny. I value the friendly association between the dominions and Britain, including Ireland, the land of my forefathers, but however proud of that association I may be, it is only a sentimental association. There is no theory of law; there are no written dicta; there is no honorable understanding; there is nothing at all which binds together the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations other than the goodwill and common interests which they agree should hold them together as friendly associated powers. Therefore, when we regard the affairs of Europe, we should not overlook the fact that, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, our first consideration must be the interests of Australia. Surely the preservation and the defence of Australia is a man-size job for 7,000,000 people! If we can attend to that job, we shall make not only a just contribution but also a generous contribution to the peace of the world. The Minister for External Affairs said that, having carefully studied the democracies of the world, he had come to the conclusion that they were wholly inspired by a desire for peace. In his opinion there was not even the breath of an aggressive tendency in any part of their policies. Can any honorable member imagine presumption going beyond that ?
– I said nothing of the kind.
– The Minister for External Affairs, who has recently stepped into this “baby” Government, presumes to read the mind of every statesman of the so-called democracies of Europe and America.
-try speaking the truth.
– If I have misrepresented the honorable gentleman-
– The honorable member has done so.
– The honorable gentleman has certainly misrepresented me. If I have misrepresented him, I shall be prepared to be more generous to him than he has been to me. I have put upon his words the only reasonable construction. The honorable gentleman also said that the democracies desired peace because of their fear of war under modern conditions. He went on to say that the people of the dictatorship countries wanted peace for the same reason, but that there was a. difference between them, because the people of the democracies want peace because they are free men whereas the people of Germany and other dictatorship countries are slaves. I sometimes wonder how much a single individual can do to preserve world peace. One would suppose very little, and, yet, I think that a single individual can do a good deal to bring about world war. I know nothing more ‘that an individual can do in that way than to select some great power stronger than ourselves with which we are at peace and publicly use his own parliament for the purpose of insulting both the masses and the government of that friendly power. I know nothing more in that way that an honorable member can do than that, and I think it may be potent. It is quite possible that the honorable gentleman’s words may be read in a foreign country; it may be represented to the government of that country that he is a responsible Minister of the Crown, and with the aid of a provocative press it may be properly inferred by that government that he is speaking for his own country as a whole when he denounces, for example, the great German race with its history of art, culture and music, and even religious zeal extending back into the mists of antiquity, and refers to these hundred-odd millions of people as slaves of the tyrant Hitler. Such a gratuitous insult serves no useful purpose except to illustrate the ignorance of the people who utter it. It serves no other purpose whatever. Such utterances are a contribution to world war. What else can an honorable gentleman do to incitethan to insult friendly nations who are supposed to be opposed to us in their theory of government ? Who are we that we should dictate to the German people what their form’ of government should be ? Have we made such a wonderful success of democracy in this country that we should wish to peddle our wares in Europe? We are urged to establish a union of democracies against the dictatorship states. We are to have a union of the great American democracy with the European democracies, including Great Britain; we are to have a union between Wall-street, on the one hand, and the London Daily Mail, on the other, as samples of democracy in our time; we are to have a union between Stalin and the Pilgrim Fathers in order to show that we are a number of hearts beating as one. All this we are to do in the interests of democracy. Let us put our own house in order. Let us go into the big cities of these great democracies and relieve the shameful want and suffering of the millions there. Let us attend to problems in our own country where half our people are seeking employment, where the substance of our industries is wasted in policies of fear and terror abroad, and where a few million pounds cannot be found to employ those born in this country, great, free, as we claim, and rich as it is. Therefore, I say, we should abstain from troubling - our heads to insult dictators who are not offending us. We should abstain from threatening the workingclass people in Germany, or Italy, with whom we have no quarrel. The honorable gentleman said that I would give three cheers for Germany. May I ask, why should I not give three cheers for Germany? I should sooner give three cheers for Germany as a friendly nation which at any rate is not offending against me or mine, than for this remnant United Australia party Government which is doing much harm and little good. I know that there is a theory that when you are at war with a country you must not, on any account, be just to that nation; because that dees not accord with the rules of military necessity. When you are at war you must play the part which you do not ordinarily play in private life of being a humbug, a liar and a cad. You must do that because of military necessity ; that is the rule, and if you do not obey it you will be haled before the appropriate tribunal and dealt with under the War Precautions Act. ‘ But surely the rule does not apply as between us and nations with which we are not at war. Surely we are not so dead sure of putting on a war that we need start in advance to apply the order of being a humbug, a liar and a cad before the war breaks out, even though we grant it that we must do all those things after the war starts.
With my next point the honorable member for Barker has dealt so effectively that I need hardly do more than associate myself with hi3 arguments. That point is that the real danger which confronts the world arises from one* of the embarrassments which are our common heritage, namely, that the small nations are a menace to peace. The small nations of Europe create great difficulties among themselves. I may say that they have my sympathy, but the matter is not one which concerns us at all, and in that regard we can congratulate ourselves upon our good fortune. I quite recognize that the existence of small. nations crowded together, of mixed races, religions and histories, are a menace to world peace. It is because of this fact that we are informed in this country through the press that we have had a succession of at least four acute crises, and a continuing crisis which is going on at the present time. A crisis must always be on the pot ready for use by propagandists. We are told that we have had four separate and distinct crises of a serious character. In that regard, although there has been no war, there has been absolutely successful scaremongering and absolutely successful efforts to depress, intimidate and terrorize the Australian people. There has been no war, but it has to be remembered that a scare is as profitable as a war. In fact, a war scare is better than a war because it keeps the war factories going double time every day, and makes multimillionaires out of a few select thousands of people all over the world. It is better than a war, also, because you can keep it going longer. Furthermore, a war scare will sell more newspapers’ than a war, because a war scare supplies so many interesting and dramatic changes and lends itself to such variety and originality in newspaper headings that actually it sells far more newspapers than a war itself as a lot of people go away and get killed and cannot buy newspapers and cannot be fooled by what appears in newspapers under editorial efforts. Do not let it be thought when. I speak of this editorial war-mongering, when I say, as I do, that our daily press in that regard is one of the grave social evils affecting this country, and, as such, is a more immediate and deadly threat to world peace than anything which the German Fuhrer, or Mussolini, or anybody else that I know of, is doing, and when I speak of the policies of newspapers, that I am speaking of those great organizations of technicians, workers and working class journalists and others whose business it is to carry out the policy of their masters, and who for the most part are quite well aware - in fact better’ aware than I am - of the truth of what I am saying. Far be it from me to say anything derogatory of the bright minds who do this work. Everybody knows that for many years I have been associated with the uplift and betterment of the conditions’ of men whose lives are devoted to the selling of newspapers and the supply of news, arid of that splendid band of technicians who are engaged in the production of morning and evening newspapers. But none of this prevents me from saying in this House what I have just said, because I am satisfied that if we lack the courage to deal with this menace, this public evil, this scourge of mendacity, incitement, misrepresentation .and deliberate creation of hate and fear which goes on in the local press whose editors and proprietors are themselves the instruments of a higher monied power than they, then we are encouraging the greatest evil threatening the safety of this, and every other democracy in the world.
The first of these crises was when Germany moved into Austria, and that was the first outrage to which the honorable gentleman has referred. What of it if a people vote by a 99 per cent, majority, as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Green) pointed out, to unite with Germany, their close neighbours and ally in the Great Wai”, and with whom they are of one race, and speak the same language?
– After they were taken.
– “ After they were taken “, says the Minister, true to form, for fear something fair or accurate might be stated in favour of a people against whom he evinces an insane and harmful prejudice. If they were such worms as to submit, and if they had no fight in them, it might be just as well for them to be taken under the tutelage of a nation capable of making up their minds for them. But I do not believe that this is the fact. On the contrary^ I believe that they were assimilated by virtue of their common race, origin and history.
– And affection !
– When I hear it said that a nation like Austria was .assimilated simply because it was not capable of any resistance I think of some cases of attempted assimilation in British history, such, for example, as Palestine, where an attempt is being made, with very little success and much resistance, to assimilate Jews and Arabs. I think also of the historic case, running back into the centuries, of the attempt to assimilate Ireland with England without any success. There was no assimilation there. But when, as in the case of the final assimilation of Czechoslovakia with Germany, I hear the Prime Minister of
Czechoslovakia say that the people of Czechoslovakia handed their interests over to the German Chancellor “with every confidence in the Reich “, I feel myself compelled to believe’ that it was done primarily, because of mutual interest, history and traditions. We should not expect a great nation like Austria to be readily gobbled up at a moment’s notice unless there was some internal willingness; nor should we expect small nations which were thrown together as the result of the greed and dishonesty of those who manipulated the Treaty of Versailles to live in peace and harmony. Chickens come home to roost! It was hardly to be anticipated, I suppose, that the great principle of self-determination, which was mouthed so freely by the so-called democracies at the end of the war, would be applied in such an unexpected way and under such unexpected conditions twenty years later.
The absorption of Sudetenland was the first move that affected Czechoslovakia, and 90 per cent, of the people concerned were Germans. What was wrong, about that? According to Lord Runciman, who made a report on the subject to Great Britain, and also according to Mr. Chamberlain, and the French Premier. M. Daladier, what was done at that time was right, proper and reasonable. In fact everything up to the last action of Germany was all right. . Memel, of course, which is 90 per cent. German, was part of the Reich. All these assimilations were made without bloodshed. I ask when, in any historic time, such advances and such alterations of boundaries have been made so bloodlessly, and with so little imperial ferocity, as in the recent settlement in Central Europe? Possibly the peace of Europe is better guaranteed by the combination of these peoples under a central government than by smaller competing nationalities. Possibly, also, the peace of the world is being better assured by these new arrangements than by the old ones. [Leave to continue given. ]
The last stage of this movement on the part of the Reich was made when the final section of Czechoslovakia was assimilated. It was in that connexion that the Premier of the area concerned allowed it to be’ declared that his government. had every confidence in the Reich. These were people of mixed nationalities, mixed races, mixed relationships, and mixed religions. They “were held together by no logical system of brotherhood at all. I think that even in relation to these people the best interests of Europe were probably served by their assimilation. The pledge to Britain was that nothing would be done further affecting Britain’s interests without notice to the latter. This did not affect Britain’s interests.
Of course, no attempt to examine these questions is ever made without the person making it having to face the charge that he is more interested in some foreign country than in his own. The people who make such charges cannot possibly believe them. They must make them for purely political purposes and with a jaundiced mind. They bring upon themselves the retort that they are bitterly prejudiced in the interests, not so much of their own country, as of the Commonwealth of Nations of which, as I said earlier in my speech, we are, in some way or other, a part. I find myself in this Parliament to-day as I found myself in the Parliament when it was sitting in Melbourne, during the war, constantly in the position of trying to apply those principles of conduct to nations which ordinary individuals, such as members of this Parliament, try to apply to one another. If a man has a quarrel with his neighbour he regrets it, and would rather smooth over than exacerbate his neighbour. Persons with even the elements of decency do not go about constantly defaming and belittling their neighbours and alleging against them charges in which there is no truth ; nor do they aggrandize themselves and boast that they possess all the virtues without exception, whereas their neighbours have none. Yet that is exactly what takes place in connexion with international affairs. It is against that perverted standard of decency that I make my protest.
I think I should say in the presence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that at least I acquit him of being by any means the worst offender. I go further and say that after his return from Europe his reported speeches evidenced a considerable amount of balance and common sense. If he oan only cultivate the strength of purpose and courage to openly condemn such outrageous perversions of fair standards of conduct as those to which I have referred, he will make a real contribution to world peace.
Our neighbour, Japan, and Germany” and Italy, are known as the totalitarian states. They have their systems of government, which are different from ours. I need hardly say that I am totally opposed to the totalitarian system of government and to any idea of a dictatorship. No person in any other country, particularly in any of the totalitarian states, can possibly entertain any resentment because I declare my wholehearted detestation of the system of dictatorships. 1 am also opposed to the materialistic doctrines of the Reich, as I understand them. But I must add that I really have very little opportunity to understand what is proceeding in those countries, or what is moving in the minds of the peoples of those countries.
As to the facts to which reference has been made, our sources of information are, in the first place, either tainted or absolutely foul, or, in the second place, when they become available to us on better authority are open to the criticism that we cannot be sure how far authorities are right, since they do not always agree. Usually several months elapse between the events which these observers describe and the time when the journals actually come into our hands. History moves quickly. The falsehoods of last week are forgotten this week, and so the exposure is not news. The falsehood is news, but the exposure is not news, and therefore is of no interest. And so it goes on !
My final words on the subject I put in the form of “a series of questions. “What have these disputes really to do with us? Why should we interrupt our natural progress because of them? Why should we neglect the interests of suffering people on their account? Why should we create an atmosphere of terror and depression in a country where every one should be going about expressing the joy of life in glad eyes and faces? I do not know. I protest against it. If this Government would spend on the cultivating of the sentiment of world peace, a quarter of the amount of money which it is proposing to spend on equipment to meet an imaginary enemy, or to combat people whom we may exacerbate into enemies, it would do well. We do not know what the Prime Minister proposes to do. I ask him whether he intends to do anything in a positive way to create a better feeling among the nations of the world? Will he also do something to counteract the effect of the inflammable rubbish that is constantly published in the press? Will he deal with this situation ? If he cannot suppress the press - and I do not believe in suppressing the press - will he see whether something cannot he done to control it and to put an end to the wild licence and irresponsible conduct of those who control it? I. do not ask for suppression.
– Will the honorable member explain how there can be control without suppression?
– I suggest that he should do something to correct these mis-statements; that some sort of a government organ should be published which would set out and refute the obvious falsehoods; that it should state publicly what is an obvious falsehood, what is a patent incitement, and what is a wild, unsupported allegation. I am sorry that the Minister for External Affairs so annoyed me that I had to attack him. I am not sorry for what I said, and I am not apologizing for it. The Minister has access to Current Notes, that excellent publication issued by the External Affairs Department. It is a very useful publication, so far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. I suggest to the Government that it might well arrange for the publication of a journal that would set the truth before the people as an intelligent observer sees it. It would, of course, earn the condemnation of the daily press, but it can achieve nothing if it is not prepared to do that; unless it takes steps to reach the people themselves, to avail itself of radio stations and of the public platform to get its message to the people. I tell the Government that if it is not prepared to do something of the kind it cannot hope to achieve anything effective. If it is prepared to use the machinery at its command in the interests of truth and justice andgoodwill, it can do something for the peace of the world of which the Minister for External Affairs claims to be achampion. We want the standard which we apply among ourselves to be applied among the nations. If we are able to do that we shall have done a little in our time and generation to allay world disturbances, and, in the remote event of this country being threatened, it will then, at least, be threatened by a nation unprovoked, and clearly an aggressor against a free power which will have done nothing to invite attack.
– I wish to make a very brief reply on behalf of this “ little, marooned, helpless minority, usurping Government “.
– There are other things we could have said about it, but that will be enough for to-night.
– I omitted the other adjectives which had better remain unspoken. Having adopted that description of the Government so picturesquely put forward by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), may I say that the invitation is always open to him, and to those who think like him, to take such action as will prevent us from usurping authority. Unless he does so, we can only conclude that we are exercising such authority as we do by the will of this Parliament, and, therefore, by the will of the Australian people.
The honorable member for Batman also said that the subject thatwe have been discussing to-day was one that did not concern Australia at all. Iwrote down hiswords, and I find his statement a very curious one. If my memory does not play tricks on me, I can recall the Leader of the honorable member’s party demanding through the columns ; of that press towhich the honorable gentleman has just alluded, that Parliament should be called together on an earlier date than was anticipated in order that it might discuss these very matters. It seems curious, indeed, that this Government, having set aside a day for the discussion of these matters within a week of its coming into office, should nowbe told by a responsible and experienced and respected member, of the Opposition that this is a subject of no importance at ail - so unimportant, in fact, that he spoke on it himself, and obtained an extension of time.
I desire in the first instance to make a comment on some of the points raised in the course of the debate. The honorable member for Bourke’ (Mr. Blackburn) made, as he always does, a thoughtful contribution to the discussion. Indeed, I take this opportunity to say that I always listen to the honorable member for Bourke with respect, and usually with disagreement. He made one point in particular that 1 should, like to take the liberty to underline. It is a point well worth considering, although I should not have applied it myself quite in the way that he did. He said something like this - I do not profess to give his exact words. He said that a state of stifled war is dangerous to our representative institutions. I believe that to be .profoundly true. I believe that, just so long as the world has to remain under arms, wondering when a war is going to be forced upon it, just so long will representative institutions in democratic countries be in a state of real danger, because inevitably, in those circumstances, we must intensify authority and tend to restrict liberty.
– Is that a threat?
– No, it is an adoption of what I believe to be a thoughtful analysis of the situation by the honorable member for Bourke. But what is the cure for it? The cure is to get as quickly as we can out of a state of affairs in which the world has to stand to arms. How do we get out of that state of affairs? Not by going on indefinitely in the state of mind of the last three years, but by doing exactly what the Government of Great Britain has been doing during the last few months - by saying in perfectly clear terms, “ This sort of thing cannot go on for ever “, and saying it, may I add, to people who think it no laughing matter. Great Britain has, I believe, whatever errors may have been nia.de in foreign policy during the last twenty years - and I am prepared to admit .that there have been errors - set u magnificent example during the last two years of forbearance in dealing with the affairs of Europe. She has been patient; she has endeavoured to the best of her ability to understand, but her patience and understanding have not, as we now know, achieved the result that we hoped they would achieve.
My colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett) has been accused of making provocative utterances in this regard. Is it not a simple fact that, to the extent to which there is crisis in Europe to-day, it has been produced by circumstances outside the control of the British Government - by circumstances which came into existence in spite of an honorable arrangement made by the Government of the United Kingdom? We remember all too vividly what occurred in relation to the Sudeten dispute. We remember the dramatic pause that occurred in our lives when Mr. Chamberlain went to Munich, and when he came back with the Agreement of Munich. We all remember that on that occasion not only was a general pact and peaceful settlement entered into, but the leader of the German people also calmly and reasonably said, “ This is the end of our territorial ambitions in Europe”. Was that the end? If, in fact, the absorption of the Sudeten territory was followed by the total absorption of Bohemia and Moravia ; if in fact, that was followed by demands on Poland and possibly on Roumania, is that a matter for which British statesmanship can accept responsibility? Certainly not, but it is a matter which affects the peace of Europe. It is a matter which affects the peace of the world, and it is a contributing factor towards the grim standing to arms among the nations of the world, which is producing that very state of affairs referred to by the honorable member for Bourke.
I wish to refer to the speech of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), though I do not propose to traverse the whole of his speech, because time would not permit me. He emphasized something that I believe to have a germ of truth in it. He emphasized the view that there are real grievances to bp found in Europe. To Poland, for example, Germany may well say, “ We have real grievances against you in relation to Danzig, in relation to the Corridor, and in relation to Upper Silesia “. I agree that there is a real case in regard to those matters. I agree that there would be no more admirable thing than that all the nations concerned should come around the conference table and say, “ We will state our grievances. We will be particular about them. We will say exactly what we think we should have.” It would be an admirable thing if the other nations should come to the conference table and say, “ We will forget old grievances ; we will forget old prejudices and old hatreds “. That would be an idyllic state of affairs; but if grievances are to be examined, I suggest to the honorable member for Barker they should be examined, not at the point of the sword, but at the conference table. How are. they being examined in Europe to-day? What technique has been developed, particularly during the last twelve months, . for dealing with these matters? The fact is that the demand for the redress of a grievance has almost invariably been followed by a threat of military action. Is that the right way to settle disputes? Is that the way to bring about the state of idealism suggested by the honorable member for Batman when he said that conduct among nations should be patterned upon conduct among individuals?
– That is the way Britain has settled her disputes in India and Palestine.
– I deny that. There are some people who are ready to justify any modern infamy by some alleged infamy of the past. I am not concerned if there has been some infamy in the past. I am concerned with whether we oan, as a civilized nation in a civilized world, stand for any method of rectifying grievances only by armed threats. We have an interest in this. The honorable member for Batman himself says in effect, “ In this country we are thousands of miles away from any other country. Let us live our own lives. Let us attend to our own problems; let us look after our unemployed.” That philosophy, however attractive when it is stated in that way and not examined further, is answered by its own impossibility.
What does the honorable member imagine would happen if a large-scale war in which Great Britain was engaged broke out in Europe? Does he think that we would he allowed to go our own sweet way and that no other nation would interfere with us ? Does he really believe that Australian shipping, as well as British shipping employed for the carriage of Australian goods, would be allowed to sail the seven seas unmolested? And if he does not believe that this picturesque dream could come true, does he not realize that the immediate effect of war would be to dislocate the overseas trade of this country with the result that for every unemployed person in Australia to-day there would be five? It is idle to pretend that we in Australia can live alone in a world that is getting closer and closer together in point of time and almost in point of space every year.
The second point in the speech of the honorable member for Barker to which I wish to make brief ‘reference was his contention about the unwisdom of entering into alliances that cannot be made effective. With that on general principles I would have little difficulty in agreeing. Just as wooden guns are a menace to the people who set them up and not to anybody else, so an impracticable alliance could easily be an international menace. But when the honorable gentleman went on to expound his theme a little more he touched on ground which I thought became increasingly unsafe as he traversed it. He painted a rather gloomy picture of the state of Europe to-day. He complained that little reliance could be placed on this potential ally or on that potential ally, but I ask him is there not some point in Europe at which aggression must cease? If the answer is to be “No; we, the British people, have no concern with what may happen in central, eastern, south-eastern or north-eastern Europe,” those who speak in this way do not envisage a state of affairs in which one or two great powers are not only overrunning Europe, except on its western and north-western fronts, but are also firmly seated upon the Mediterranean, which is one of the gateways to Australia and the principal gateway to British India and the Ear East. As a race with hostages to fortune all over the world, can we contemplate with equanimity a hegemony in Europe and over the Mediterranean by powers which are not allies of ours, and, indeed, if one may judge by the occasional speeches of their leaders, are not over-disposed to admire or befriend us? I think this is a mild way of stating the position. Can we really believe that in such a state of affairs the independence of Australia as a free white country could continue for more than a nominal space of time? I know that it is considered respectable always to state your international policy in terms of the sheerest altruism, but I believe that every now and then when we face up to the realities of the position, we are entitled, and indeed bound, to state our international policy, in terms of our own elementary and vital interest. And the most vital interest of this country is to remain an independent and free country, and to see, as the first condition of its independence, that the integrity of the British Empire also is preserved.
I turn now to make one or two general observations provoked by the course of the debate, though not by amy particular speaker. Something has been said to-day about war between the democracies and the dictatorships. I have frequently addressed myself to this problem in public speeches, and I shall repeat now the substance of what I have said on many occasions. It is this: There is nothing that I detest and fear more than this ranging up of world powers into opposing camps according to the colour or quality of their governments. I have no use for the idea of an ideological war.
– I shall have the Prime Minister, as well as the honorable member for Barker, over here with me soon!
– On the contrary, after a. suitable period of penitence, the honorable member for Batman will be on my side of the House. I have said that, I do not believe in the idea of an ideological war, because I agree with some other honorable members who have spoken that the essence of democracy is that it does not interfere with the forms of government approved by the peoples of other countries. A dictatorship for Australia would, of course, be entirely abhorrent to us. I believe that in some of the more picturesque organs of the press, particularly those which change their names occasionally, I have been “honoured” by being described as a Fascist.
– Does the right honorable gentleman consider it an honour?
– I put that word in inverted commas, but unhappily they do not appear in speech. I know that that strange accusation has been made against me, but I say, as every honorable member would say, and as I believe 99 per cent, of the people would say, that a dictatorship for a country like Australia is not to be contemplated, although for aught I know to the contrary, it may be an almost perfect system of government for countries like Italy and Germany. The people of those countries can determine their own form of government without assistance or interference from us. Therefore, I reject the idea that we are inevitably to drift into war because in some countries there is a democratic form of government and in others totalitarian governments. The principle that we must respect every man’s idea as to the best form of government is one of which not only need we be reminded, but of which we may properly remind some countries of Europe. After all, if respect for the form of government of Germany is proper, as I believe it is, respect for the form of government of Czechoslovakia is equally proper, and so is respect for the form of government of Poland or Roumania. Indeed, unless there is to be mutual respect by countries for each other’s integrity and each other’s form of government, there will be an end of peace, if not, indeed, an end of civilization in its present form. Let me remind honorable members of the message which was directed recently by the President of the United States of America to the Chancellor of Germany and Signor Mussolini.
– President Roosevelt ought to put his own house in order.
– Whatever may be the internal problems of the United States of America, whatever controversy may have arisen regarding the internal economic policy of President Roosevelt, no one will deny that he has made contributions to the peace of the world by the statements he has made and by the message he has addressed to ,the European, countries mentioned.
I venture to say that one of ‘his greatest claims to reputation in the history of his country will be that, in spite of the known feeling, the intelligible feeling of the American people, that they should keep out of the world’s troubles, he has addressed observations to the world at crucial moments,, which I believe have breathed a lofty spirit of idealism at the right time. In his last message he put a question with great simplicity and great force to the dictators. I shall give merely the substance of it. He said : “ After all, there can be no war without aggression. Do you really believe that your neighbours are going to commit an aggression against you? If you do not, then you may produce peace by simply saying in a binding fashion that you will not commit an aggression against them “. Like all the great questions in the world’s history, that question, in the statement of it, is a simple one. It is a question that we may all put to those great powers^ “We may all say to them, as I hope we shall - “ You have no grievance that we are not prepared to discuss with you. You have no case to put before the world’s forum that we are not prepared to examine without prejudice; in the good old words of the courts “Without fear, favour, or affection”; but if you are going to keep the world on tenterhooks, if you are going to keep the world in arms by refusing to confer, by refusing to have your grievances examined, then we shall have to say that there can be no war except by aggression, and tha’t if war comes we shall know, and the whole world shall know by whose aggression it came “.
My last observation is provoked by what I have just said concerning the messages sent by the President of the United States of America. Something has been said - and I desire to make a few more observations concerning it - in regard to our relations with the United States of America, or, if I may broaden the subject a little, in regard to the particular problem that we have* in the Pacific. Now, sir, a cynical onlooker might be disposed to say that when a small country of 7,000,000 people starts to talk about friendship with a country of 130,000,000 people just across the Pacific, it is merely,- so to speak, “ getting in out of the wet “ ; that it is doing something which, as a matter of cold policy, is or may be essential to its security, and that therefore you may dismiss what it is doing as something that is quite unreal. I am happy to think that that cynical view is not entertained by the American people. The fact is that we are a community of 7,000,000 people living on this continent of ours; but the fact also is that we are, in a sense, the representatives in this country of a very great race ‘of people, and that that great race of people is as vital to the essential interests - in the best sense of that word - of America as America is vital to ours. Were I charged with the responsibility of government in the United States of Am erica, I should not care to contemplate a world in which the strength, the liberal thought,- and the genius for selfgovernment, of the British people had been, extinguished. I should regard myself as having been left quite lonely in a strange world. That is the interest which America has in the British world; and the British world, in its turn, has in America the interest which it must have in a great community of people, also of liberal thoughts, nurtured in similar traditions, speaking the same language, and practising the same political ideals. You can, if you like, wave aside with a cynical hand the relations that exist between America and Australia, but the fact will remain that we have a great interest in each other, and that we shall have a growing interest in each other. I appeal to honorable members and to the whole of the Australian people to do everything in their power to improve their understanding with the American people, because I believe that on an association with them, on an understanding with them, a great deal of future happiness for this country oan be built.”
– And the Japanese people too?
– I am obliged to the honorable member for that remark, because he has recalled to me something which. I might not otherwise have mentioned before I sat down. I have recently, on more than one occasion, spoken of our special and peculiar foreign problem as the Pacific problem; because I believe that the Pacific is of all zones in the world the zone in which our risks are primary risks and our responsibilities are primary responsibilities. Consequently, as I have already indicated, this Government proposes to take the necessary steps as soon as may be, not only to establish a closer diplomatic contact with the United States of America and with Japan - those two great and friendly powers in the Pacific - but also to do everything that it can to increase our cultural relationship, our personal contact with them, to improve all of those things which go to make up a real and permanent understanding. What the world wants, I agree, is peace; but what the world also wants, if I may suggest it, is less talk of an axis which may carry the engines of war and destruction, and more talk of a peace axis. If I may allow my fancy to wander a little, I like to think of that peace axis as having studded on to it, if you like, London, Washington, and Canberra.
.- I do not agree with some honorable members who have made contributions to this debate, that we can be entirely unmindful of major happenings on the other side of the world. Nor do I agree with the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that he has respect for the forms of government which operate in certain countries of Europe to-day, and against which the Labour party has levelled a great deal of criticism; because I think that no member of the Labour party at least should say that he can view with respect a government which had been responsible for the suppression of trade union organizations and the imprisonment and internment of, many fighters on the side of the workers of those countries. My suspicions are aroused when I see so many persons connected with the antiLabour forces in this country suddenly become champions of democracy. I agree with the Prime Minister that whenever nations take part in an intense armaments race there is danger to established democratic institutions. But since when has the Commonwealth Government been the champion of democracy? On many occasions, not only in this Parliament, but also in the Parliament of Victoria, the Prime Minister himself has shown clearly that he is not a believer in democratic forms of government, for he has supported legislation aimed at destroying the effective organization of workers on the waterfront, and suppressing meetings of workers to discuss their problems. Probably the Prime Minister spoke a little more plainly to-night than he intended. Unless the Labour party be fully alive to the situation, the democratic institutions of this country will be in danger, for I have no doubt that should the Government consider it necessary to assist Great Britain in the event of that country becoming involved in war, many of our alleged liberties would be lightly set aside, because the Government would hold the - opinion that the existence of democratic institutions might retard the Government’s programme and prevent it from giving Unlimited assistance to Great Britain. When I was informed that a discussion on foreign affairs would take place to-day, I thought not only that the Prime Minister would indicate to the Parliament that Australia would declare itself free to determine its own course in international affairs, but also that the Government would announce its own foreign policy. The statements that have come from the Government bench, however, indicate that there is to be no radical change in the existing practice. In matters affecting foreign policy, it appears that the Government of Great Britain is still to speak for the whole Empire. Because of that, we must review the situation, and ask ourselves whether it is wise that ‘Australia should continue to follow Great Britain on every occasion. I am not prepared to agree that the British Government has been generous in its attitude to the solution of European problems of recent times. Much has been said of the fact that Mr. Chamberlain flew to Germany in September last in order to interview Herr Hitler. As the result of that interview, the Munich Agreement was signed; but what sacrifice did it entail on the part of the British Government or the British nation? At Munich the dismemberment of another nation was agreed to. If Great Britain was not prepared to take a more definite stand in the interests of Czechoslovakia, its representatives should have kept out of the negotiations entirely. What happened was that the representatives of Czechoslovakia were closed out of the conference at which the dismemberment of their country was agreed to by the representatives of four great powers, after they had discussed their own material interests. Yet we are told that Great Britain made a generous sacrifice on that occasion. It is true that that country is now taking a more definite stand against the totalitarian states, but the reason is that those states, not satisfied with their conquests to date, are making demands in other quarters in which British imperialists have interests. Only when their interests arc endangered will the imperialists of the nation resort to war. They are not actuated by any desire to preserve existing democratic institutions; if they were, they would find ample scope for their activities inside their own country. The La’bour party ‘believes in a policy of co-operation with all the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations; it does not believe in the domination of the- other members by the Mother Country, as does the Government. The Labour party believes in the holding of conferences to discuss various problems which are common to all parts of the Empire; it is not prepared to be told by British imperial interests that. irrespective of the interests of Australia, this country is to he dragged at the heels of Great Britain into any war in which that country cares to engage. Many members of this Parliament say that we in Australia cannot do anything to prevent wars, but I do not accept that view. Honorable members may recollect that in 1922, only four years after the termination of the Great War, Great Britain was considering the possibility of another conflict with Turkey. Mr. Lloyd George, who was Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time, communicated with the Prime Minister of each of the dominions, asking what measure of assistance the dominions would render to Great Britain in the event of war with Turkey. Mr. Hughes was Prime Minister of Australia at the time, and he informed Mr. Lloyd George that the Australian Government was prepared to send forces abroad only if it were absolutely necessary. The then Prime Minister of Canada was even more definite in his utterance, for he said that in no circumstances would Canada engage in another conflict. Those replies caused the British Government to change its policy and eventually a compromise was effected with Turkey. Further conferences with the Turkish representatives were held, with the result that a peaceful settlement was arrived at without resort to arms. On that occasion the governments of the dominions made a definite contribution to the preservation of world peace. I am confident that if Australia indicated to Great Britain that it would make its own decision in respect of any conflict with other nations, the other dominions would follow Australia’s lead, and a different attitude would be adopted by the British imperialist authorities. Some years ago this Parliament was asked to support a policy of applying economic sanctions to Italy because of that country’s treatment of Abyssinia. On that occasion, members of the Labour party opposed the application of economic sanctions against Italy because we were satisfied that Australia could do nothing that would be likely to save the Abyssinians from domination by one form of imperialism or another. We recognized that it was only a war between conflicting classes of imperialisms for the control of that country. The only time when imperialistic nations evince interest in any country is not when, as the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) indicated this evening, they want to educate, or give the alleged benefits of civilization to its people, but when they find that a particular territory possesses valuable raw materials which they require. Consequently, Britain’s interest in Abyssinia was not so much that it wanted to save poor Abyssinia from Italian domination, but simply because it knew that the nation which controlled Abyssinia controlled Lake Tsana, the source of the River Nile, which was of vital importance to Egypt. . For these reasons we found that Britain was prepared to do everything possible to prevent Italy from subjugating Abyssinia.
– The flow of water from Lake Tsana cannot be stopped, so the Nile is secure so far as any action that Italy can take is concerned.
– Evidently both the British and Italian authorities hold a different view, because Ave find that Italy gave the United Kingdom certain specific undertakings regarding Lake Tsana. If there Avas no way in which Italian control of Abyssinia could have affected the water supply from Lake Tsana. I ask the honorable gentleman to indicate the necessity for such a guarantee on the part of Italy. The facts are that the League of Nations declared Italy to be the aggressor in that dispute; both Great Britain and Australia were parties to that declaration, and, under article 16 of the covenant, decided to apply economic sanctions against Italy. Later, however, Great Britain changed its attitude entirely and urged the League to pass a resolution recognizing the King of Italy as Emperor of Ethiopia. That resolution was proposed by Lord Halifax, who told the League Council that he did not want it to retract one word it had said previously against Italy, but argued that it must recognize the fact that Italy had control of almost the whole of Abyssinia and it would be foolish to go on living in an unreal world unless the members of the League were prepared to resort to arms to remedy the position. Thus, within a few months. Great Britain took steps to reverse its entire policy in connexion with the Italo-Abyssinia dispute after steps had been taken to preserve the interests of the British capitalists. It Avas only with these interests- that the Imperial Government was at any time concerned, and they are the only interests Avith which any form of imperialism is concerned in the various storm centres of the world to-day. Australia has every reason to remain on pacific terms with Japan and the other nations in the Far East. Some years ago we sent a goodwill mission to Japan, headed by the then Attorney-General, Sir John Latham, now Chief Justice of the High Court; but, following the return of that mission, our attitude towards Japan changed. It is rather remarkable that in opening this debate the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett) said that he could not imagine why Japan was deserting its old friends and turning towards the totalitarian states. The obvious reason is that Japan’s old friends have turned on it. This country, for instance, had no need to do so, and probably would not have done so, but for the fact that the Commonwealth Government during recent years has been dominated by Imperial interests. I recall that our trade diversion policy, which severely hit Japan, was only devised after we had had a visit from a very influential deputation representing British manufacturing interests who were being challenged in the markets of the world, including Australia, by the improved technique of the Japanese manufacturers. It never promised to confer any material benefit upon this country. Its adoption, however, waa provocative to Japan, and, naturally, the Japanese were forced to retaliate. Every one must regret and view Avith abhorrence the present SinoJapanese* conflict. Japan has resorted to bombing out of existence towns peopled largely by defenceless women and children. The British authorities have protested on many occasions against such action, evidently because they think that it is a good thing to try to delude the people of British countries into believing that all the ‘Government is concerned about is the protection of human life and the maintenance of the liberties of the people. What are the facts? Let us examine the attitude of this Government, and of the Imperial Government, towards this conflict. As far back as 1937 the League of Nations, of which Australia is still a member, decided that Japan had broken the Nine-Power Agreement and the Pact of Paris by violating Chinese territory, and by that decision virtually declared Japan to be the aggressor in the conflict. In such circumstances one would haw expected the members of the league immediately to apply economic sanctions against Japan, because this was the logical step to take in view of the league’s policy of collective security. . I do not believe that association with the League of Nations has ever given security to small nations; in the light of recent events it can be better described as collective insecurity. But if the League of Nations were worth anything at all one would have expected the members of the league, if they failed to apply sanctions, at least to refrain from doing anything which would help Japan as the aggressor. Under article 17 of the covenant, China appealed to the league to call a conference to consider its position. As it had already withdrawn from the league, Japan refused to recognize the league’s authority and declined to attend the conference. The league then decided to apply article 16 of the covenant which, in effect, meant the application of economic sanctions against Japan. It was not prepared to make that decision binding upon members, but left individual nations to decide in their discretion, what action they might take to aid China in this way. Australia was a party to that agreement, but has this Government done anything to honour it? Instead of honouring that undertaking by doing something which might have helped to weaken Japan’s attack on defenceless China, it actually took steps against workers in this country when they attempted to apply sanctions against Japan. That is an indication of the interests which supporters of this Government, and also of the Imperial Government, believe should be defended. They are prepared to go so far as to make verbal protests against, and to express horror at, the bombing of defenceless Chinese cities, but they are not prepared to endanger the profits of their supporters.
The waterside workers at Port Kembla objected to loading war equipment and material for Japan in contravention of decisions of the League of Nations which were supported by a representative of this Government; but the Government was not prepared to support the workers. “We hear a great deal from time to time about the danger of engaging in an armaments race, but not one honorable member on the Government side of the House has made any protest in the course of this discussion against the exorbitant profits which certain wealthy financial interests in this country are making, , and will make, through the manufacture of munitions. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which is really one of the masters of this Government, dictated the policy that the Government should adopt in respect of the waterside workers at Port Kembla.
Let us try to ascertain how sincere Imperialists are in their, expressed desire that the democracies should defend their liberties. It is true that much has been said on this subject, but I remind the British Imperialists, and particularly the Imperialists in this country, and also its workers, that although a great deal is said about defending democratic institutions against the encroachment of fascism in Europe, these same institutions are in grave danger from the operations of Fascists in this country. I view with abhorrence the activities of Fascists against working-class organizations in other parts of the world, and I am not blind to the fact that the Fascists are marching forward in Australia. We should be careful to ensure that their activities do not become more dangerous than they now are to our institutions. We have sufficient repressive legislation upon our statute-book to enable the Government to suppress every form of workingclass Activity in this country if it cared to do so; but the Government allows these statutes to remain inoperative until some occasion arises to apply them against the workers in circumstances which in its opinion require action. If the Government were true to the democratic principles which certain of its members and supporters enunciate, it would take immediate steps to repeal those sections of the Crimes Act which deal with political offences. It would also repeal the Transport Workers Act, which, in its present form, applies to the workers of Australia the objectionable licensing system which is to-day in common use in Fascist countries. So while we talk about the need to combat fascism abroad we should keep in mind the need to combat it in this country.
Reverting for a moment to the Chinese situation, I remind honorable members that although Dr. Wellington Koo, the Chinese representative at the League of Nations, pleaded with member nations of the League to place an embargo on the supply of arms, oil and finance to Japan, the League, although it had already de.clared Japan to be an aggressor nation, declined to take any definite action. This was after it had been decided that economic sanctions should be enforced against Japan. China has not had a fair deal from the member nations of the League of Nations which, apparently, are prepared to act only in such a way as will preserve their own interests. I do not say that this attitude is restricted to Great Britain. It is common of all imperialistic nations.
On this subject I direct attention to the following official statement of the case which sets out the matters in respect of which Great Britain was concerned: -
It was arranged that a frank discussion should take place between the Foreign Minister and the Ambassador on the causes of friction between the two countries. The chief of these were the following: - The ban on navigation up the River Yangtse; interference with the Whangpoo Conservancy Boaro an organization vital to the port of Shanghai; interference with the British shipping at Tsingtao; restriction of access to portions of the International Settlement in Shanghai; restriction on the return of British residents to Nanking; -restrictions on the re-opening of foreign-owned factories in occupied areas; and the seizure by the Japanese army of certain British-financed railways.
It appears, therefore, that so long as the Japanese Government was prepared to respect British interests in relation to the matters mentioned, the friction between Great Britain and Japan would not be serious. Britain, apparently, was quite prepared to overlook the serious plight of the unfortunate Chinese people. The agreement finally reached on the subjects to which I have referred is set out in the same official publication in the following words : -
On the 2nd May, following lengthy negotiations, an agreement was reached between the United Kingdom Government and the Japanese Government for regulation of customs matters in areas occupied by the Japanese forces in China. The communique stated that all revenues collected by the customs at each port within the areas under Japanese occupation were to be deposited with the Yokohama Specie Bank. From revenues thus deposited foreign loan quotas would be remitted to the Inspector-General of Customs in order to meet in full the servicing of the foreign loans and indemnities secured on the Customs revenue. Foreign loan quotas for each port would be determined monthly in proportion to the share of that port in the total gross collections for all ports during the preceding month. Arrangements were made for the payment to the Japanese Government of the Japanese portion of the Boxer indemnity, and for the transfer to the Yokohama Specie Bank of the balance of the Customs account with the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank iti ports under Japanese occupation.
The Chinese Government sent a Note to the United Kingdom’ Government declaring that China was in no way bound by the arrangement and reserved full freedom of action.
This shows conclusively that the Chinese greatly resented the attitude of at least one member nation of the League of Nations which, though prepared to join in a declaration that Japan was an aggressor nation, was also prepared to make an agreement with Japan to the detriment of China. So much for the reliance that can be placed upon verbal expressions of concern for the democracies, and for democratic institutions. I hope that the workers of Australia will not be misled by the speeches of the recently-found champions of democracy who support this Government. I recognize, of course, that democratic liberties must be protected, but they are in just as great danger from Fascists inside this country, and from some of the so-called champions of democracy opposite, as they are from those who openly declare themselves to be the enemies of democracy.
It has been often charged against the Labour party that we subscribe to an isolationist policy, that we do not believe in co-operating with any other government in any other part of the world. That is notstating the position quite accurately. Labour’s attitude is this: History has proved that the world of capitalist governments cannot be depended on. Anti-Labour governments enter into agreements, and honour them when it suits them, but break them when it does not. No agreement with a government of that kind would contribute towards the security of this or any other country. We believe that wherever there are Labour governments working for a common goal, with a common ideology, it is possible to make agreements among them that will be honoured. Only those governments that are composed of workers’ representatives not tied to vested interests outside Parliament can be depended upon to honour agreements. Labour, therefore, believes in holding conferences with governments having the same political aims as itself, and in making agreements with such governments. As evidence of that, the British Labour party has put forward a suggestion, which is supported by the Australian Labour party, that there shall be held in New Zealand next year a conference of representatives of Labour organizations from all parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations to discuss, not only defence matters, but also any other subjects in which they may be mutually interested. Labour has stated openly that it will not co-operate with any government not imbued with high motives in international affairs. We say to this Commonwealth Government that we view it with suspicion. We say that it is not concerned with the preservation of democratic government, or the liberties of the people. We know that it has committed Australia to a great deal. The late Prime Minister, during the course of his election speech in Sydney, said that it was all “moonshine” for Mr. Cur tin and other Labour leaders to say that Australia was committed to participate in an overseas war . The fact remains, however, that the Leader of the Government tonight declared that if Britain were at war Australia also would be at war. The Labour party says that it is prepared to co-operate with other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, but that it will not submit to Imperial domination. Otherwise it would be possible for Australian troops to be sent to India, to Palestine or to Egypt for the suppression of popular uprisings in any of those countries, and for the preservation of Imperial interests. Everybody knows that British policy in Palestine is not directed towards a settlement of the native problem for the good of the residents of that country, but merely towards preserving law and order so as to protect the oil line from Mosul to Haifa.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. White) adjourned.
Orders of the day (2)-“ That the paper be printed “ - read and discharged.
Ship-building in Australia.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I take this opportunity to amplify a question which I asked this afternoon of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. John Lawson) regarding ship-building. This is a matter which has been before the Government for some time. I have asked numerous questions on it, but up to date have not been able to obtain any definite direction regarding the Government’s policy. Towards the end of last year the Department of Trade and Customs appointed some of its officers to make inquiries into the industry, and to report to the Government. It is of the greatest importance that we should develop our own mercantile marine, and facilities for the building of ships in Australia. The report of that departmental committee must have been in the hands of the Government for months past, and even if the new Government is not prepared to act upon it, the information contained in the report should at least now be made available to honorable members. I should like to obtain an undertaking from the Minister that the matter will receive immediate attention. For some weeks I have been endeavouring to impress upon the Defence Department the importance of having manufactured in Australia a greater proportion of naval equipment. Quite a large proportion of this work is now being sent overseas on the ground that, even if it should be manufactured in Australia, it could not be done as quickly as is desired. On the question of cost, I am aware that it is necessary to provide plans, jigs, dies and patterns for the particular types of equipment required, and possibly in some cases their cost would be slightly higher in Australia than if they were obtained from overseas. But the fact remains that if we continue along the lines hitherto followed in Australia in connexion with ship-building, we shall be faced with this argument indefinitely. People who require ships for the purposes of trade and commerce in Australian waters should be forced to obtain them at later periods in this country; it should be made unprofitable for them to place their orders overseas. If the course which I advocate were adopted, the mercantile marine of Australia could be established on a firm basis, and orders placed in Australian shipbuilding yards would enable these yards at a later period to meet naval requirements at a lessened cost. “We should also have the satisfaction of knowing that in this important aspect of national policy Australia would one day become self-contained. I hold the view that unless the British Admiralty authorities and those associated with naval ship-building in Great Britain take some action to extend or permit greater activity in this country, a situation may arise in which Australia may be entirely cut off from British workshops which now manufacture this equipment. The matter I have raised is of vital concern to the ship-building industry in Australia. I admit its importance to my own district, which, as honorable members are aware, is vitally interested in ship-building; but apart from this aspect, I appeal to the Government to give this matter special attention on account of its great importance to Australia, and I hope that something practical will be accomplished at an early date.
– I am well aware of the deep interest which the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has taken in the subject which he has raised to-night and I appreciate the motives which impel him to speak on the matter. As I have not been long in control of the department, the honorable member will, I am sure, acquit me of any charge of negligence. I give him my assurance that there will be no avoidable delay in action to bring about concrete results from the inquiry which was undertaken a considerable time ago.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Civil Aviation - Report, dated 30th December, 1938, of committee appointed by Minister for Civil Aviation to investigate and report on administration of the Civil Aviation Board, the organization of the newlycreated Department of Civil Aviation, and associated questions.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1939 -
No. 1 - Stamp Duties.
No. 2 - Public Service.
No. 3- Wills.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 115.
The House adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
The agreement for the surrender and acceptance of the Northern Territory entered into between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia on the 7th December, 1907, which was ratified and approved by the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910, provides - “ The Commonwealth in consideration of the surrender of the Northern Territory and property of the State therein and the grant of the rights hereinafter mentioned to acquire and to construct railways in South Australia shall -
e asked the Minister in charge of Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Will he place upon the table of the Library a copy of all reports made by the Commonwealth Government Geologist on the iron ore deposits of Yampi Sound?
– As these reports are of a confidential nature, it is regretted that they cannot he made available.
n asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will he supply details of contracts let by the Defence Department for the manufacture of shells for defence purposes, showing (a) the names of manufacturing firms which have received contracts; (b) the amount and class of work to be carried out; (c) the price of each contract; and (d) the length of time of each contract?
– The information desired by the honorable member is as follows : -
The time for delivery specified in each of the above contracts was as follows: -
– On the 4th May, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that, since the 1st March, 1938, the following contracts have been placed with private firms for the manufacture of munition components: -
The policy of the Government is to obtain peace requirements from the government factories, and the majority of the orders placed with the abovementioned private firms were the outcome of tenders which were invited early in 1938 throughout Australia to test any latent capacity which might exist. The orders were in the nature of educational ones, and from that point of view they have been successful.
As has been previously announced, the output of government factories would not be sufficient to meet the requirements of the fighting services under emergency conditions. The Government has, therefore, arranged for armament annexes to be attached to certain railway workshops and selected firms, as under: -
Charles Ruwolt Pty. Ltd., Melbourne; Stewarts and Lloyds (Aust.) Ltd., Newcastle; Victorian Railways; New South Wales Railways; Australian Glass Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Melbourne; Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd., Sydney ; H. V. McKay Massey Harris Pty. Ltd., Melbourne; R. B. Davies and Co. Pty. Ltd., Sydney; McKenzie and Holland (Aust.) Pty. Ltd., Melbourne; Duly and Hansford, Sydney; Electricity Meter Manufacturing Co. Pty. Ltd., Sydney; Amalgamated Wireless (A/asia) Ltd., Sydney; General MotorsHoldens Ltd., South Australia; Johns and Waygood Ltd., Melbourne; Ford Co. of Australia, Geelong.
The capacity of these annexes will provide for large outputs of bombs, shell forgings, shell machining, grenades, fuzes and naval mines, if required. In addition, arrangements have been made for tool and gauge manufacture by the attachment of an annexe to the South Australian Railways workshops.
It is not possible at this stage to state the value of the orders which will be placed with the annexes, as they will not be utilized for bulk manufacture except under emergency conditions. It is intended, however, that modest trial orders shall be placed with each of them in order to prove the output of the plant and to familiarize the employees with the technique of munition manufacture. The extent of these orders has not yet been decided, but they will be subject to costing by departmental officers, and profits will be controlled.
n asked the Minister in charge of External Territories, upon notice -
When is it anticipated, approximately, that the road in New Guinea from Salamaua to Wau, on the No. 1 route, will be completed?
– A detailed survey of the route selected is being made and as soon as the necessary plans and specifications for sections are completed, tenders will be invited for the construction of those sections of the road.
It is not possible at this stage to estimate when the road will be completed.
s asked the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The scheme for the manufacture of air frames will centre on two central shops, one to be erected at Melbourne and one at Sydney, where the main parts of the air frames will be brought together for final assembly and fitting of engines and instruments. The central erection shops will be fed by four main assembly units, comprising the railways workshops in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. The railways workshops units will sub-contract out to existing factories in civil industry the production of parts and components for the air frames.
A technical representative of the Bristol Aircraft Company is, at present, in Australia. Another has left the United Kingdom, and a third expert is to leave England at an early date. The necessity for the engagement of local staff directly by the Commonwealth will not arise until the erection stage is being approached. As the railways workshops mentioned and their sub-contractors will be the suppliers of the main assembly units, the question of engagement of staff will be one for the railways and the respective subcontractors should additional staff be necessary. The scheme, however, envisages the utilising of existing capacity to the fullest extent. Contracts have not yet been placed for components and although detailed plans of the central erection shops have not been completed general requirements have been determined. Arrangements have been completed with the British Air Ministry for the jigs, tools and fixtures and also such materials as it is necessary to import to be made available as required, but shipment has not yet been made. It is important that the scheme should be pushed ahead as rapidly as possible, but the honorable member will appreciate that in a long-range plan providing for deliveries to be made over three years commencing in 1940 and involving several millions of pounds, it is necessary for detailed arrangements to be carefully prepared in the first instance so that the launching of the scheme will be on a sound basis. It is far better to take a little time in the initial stages to ensure this, than to proceed hastily with an illprepared scheme which would probably mean that the ultimate result would be much less satisfactory than would be the case if the scheme were initially prepared on a sound and satisfactory basis.
The honorable member may be assured that this matter is receiving the urgent attention of the Government and will be prosecuted to the greatest extent possible consistent with sound basic arrangements and the formulation of satisfactory plans.
Papua and New Guinea: Inquiry into Amalgamation Proposal.
n asked the Minister in charge of External Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Mr.Riordan asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of his announcement that the report of the Standing Committee on Liquid Fuels will not be available to honorable members for some considerable time, will he inform the House whether it is the intention of the Government to take the necessary action to establish the power alcohol industry in Australia ?
s. - The matter will receive consideration in conjunction with the report of the Standing Committee on Liquid Fuels.
– On the 5th May, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) asked whether a company, which had issued invitations to witness a demonstration of a small pilot plant for the extraction of oil from coal at Annandale, New South Wales, on Monday, the 8th. May, had requested a grant of £15,000 from the Commonwealth to assist to put its plant into operation? I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that this company, Phoenix Oil Extractors (Proprietary) Limited, of 117 Pittstreet, Sydney, asked for a free grant of up to £15,000 for the purpose of erecting a standard commercial unit of medium capacity. The company was informed that the whole question of the extent to which the Government should assist private enterprise in matters of this kind was recently reported upon by the Commonwealth Standing Committee on Liquid Fuels. The committee expressed the view that the Government should not advance money for the proving of any particular type of retort or process. This was regarded essentially as the responsi bility of the designers or patentees, who would normally be rewarded according to the merits of their propositions through the usual commercial channels. In view of these circumstances the application was refused.
n asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows
n asked the Minister for Civil Aviation”, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows .” - 1 and 2. The decision to investigate what is involved in the provision of a’ suitable and permanent flying boat base in Botany Bay has not been abandoned, but extreme pressure of other urgent work has prevented commencement of such investigation. It is known that this work would involve a very large expenditure which cannot be contemplated at the present time. The permanency of the flying boat base at Rose Bay will have to be considered in the light of any decision that may be reached concerning Botany Bay.
n asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Aeroplane Landing Grounds on Blue Mountains and at Ballarat.
k asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– I have seen press references to the Coroner’s finding in connexion with the deaths of Messrs. R. H. Julius and C. E. Stumbles in an aeroplane crash on the Blue Mountains a few months ago. A landing ground, which will be suitable for emergency purposes in the Blue Mountains locality, is now in course of construction at Blackheath.
d asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– I have no knowledge that there are any telegraph poles at Kingsford Smith Aerodrome which are a danger to aircraft. Certain overhead telephone lines on the north of the aerodrome are to bo removed when the northerly extension of the landing area is brought into use.
AirCourt of Inquiry.
n asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
When will the promise given on the 12th December last that an Air Court of Inquiry would be established to deal with air crashes of a serious nature be fulfilled?
– I am attending to this matter in consultation with the Attorney-General, and I hope to be able to make a definite announcement in the. early future. air-mailservices.
Mr.White asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
Mr.Fairbairn. - Inquiries are being made and the information sought by the honorable member will be furnished as soon as possible.
Mr.Curtin asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
On the inauguration of the flying boat service in August,1938, this agreement was varied, making the northern terminal Darwin, to allow for direct communication with the incoming and outgoing empire air service. 2 and 3. Following the report of the InterDepartmental Committee on the reorganization of Australian internal air services, the Government recently decided to open negotiations with the MacRobertson-Miller Aviation Company for the operation of a Perth-Darwin air service for a further period. These negotiations are still proceeding. It is anticipated that an agreement between the Commonwealth and the company will be concluded on a satisfactory basis to both parties before the expiration of the existing contract in October next.
Lorenz Radio Beacon Patents.
Mr.Price asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
What patent numbers are, in accordance with the Patents Act, marked upon Lorenz beacon apparatus in the possession of the Government?
s. - I invite the honorable member’s attention to the answer given on the 29th November last to a similar question asked by him. The civil aviation authorities confirm the answer then given, namely, that no patent numbers appear on the equipment in question.
Oil Supplies for Pearlers.
s. - On the 3rd May the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Scholfield) asked for information regarding the supply of crude oil to foreign pearlers. I am now in a position to advise that crude oil from government stocks at Darwin is available both to local and foreign pearling vessels. There is, however, no difference in the price charged.
Air Travel for Members of Parliament.
s. - On the 4th May the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) asked a question, without notice, regarding the deputation which waited upon the Minister for the Interior concerning members taking advantage of air travel. The representations made by the deputation were considered by Cabinet, but the request was not approved.
Mr.Perkins. - On the 5th May,the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
. What is the number of Italian immigrants of allages admitted to Australia during the years 1935 to 1939?
How many Italians left Australia during that period?
How many Italians have been naturalized in the same period?
Are there branches of the Italian Fascist organization “Gino Lisa “ in Australia? If so, where ?
Are there branches of the Nazi organization in Australia? If so, where?
Is the Italian language being taughtin certain government schools in Australia?
Will the Government encourage the, assimilation of aliens by approving entry only to relatives of those who are naturalized.
Will the Prime Minister bringbefore State Premiers the matter of preference in land holding and water facilities to naturalized aliens, so that the creation of any racial bloc maybediscouraged ?
The Minister for the Interior has now supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
From the 1st January, 1935, to the 31st March, 1939, 9,433 Italian immigrants were admitted for permanent residence.
During the same period 1,420 Italian residents of Australia left permanently.
Italians naturalized between the 1st January, 1935, and the 31st March, 1939, number 2,806.
It is understood that there is a branch of the “Gino Lisa” in Melbourne.
Inquiries are being made regarding this matter.
I am advised that the Italian language is not being taught in government schools.
It is not considered practical or desirable to adopt this suggestion.
The matter will receive consideration.
y. - On the 5th May, the hon orable member forWannon (Mr. Scholfield) asked when a report on the activities of the Commonwealth in relation to fisheries might he expected. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that it is the intention of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research that as soon as any development or discovery of value is made a report shall be issued on that phase as is done regarding otheractivities of the council. The results obtained to date have been published in the press from time to time.
n. - On the 5th May, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) asked the Postmaster-General the following question, upon notice: -
In view of the enormous profits mode from wireless licences, will he make available to the Australian Broadcasting Commission a sum of money to enable a new broadcasting studio to be built in Hobart?
I now desire to inform the honorable member that, under section 19 of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Act, the provision of studios is the responsibility of the Broadcasting Commission. The following information has been furnished by the commission : -
The first studios to be completed will be those of Sydney and Melbourne, because from these emanate principal national programmes. The new studio buildings in smaller States will be begun as soon as funds are available. In the meantime, the existing studios in Hobart have been modernized, and are giving satisfactory service.
n. - On the 4th May, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following answers to his inquiries: -
Manufacture of Motor Cars.
t. - On the 4th May, the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) asked, without notice, whether the Defence Department had recommended the manufacture of motor car chassis in Australia as a vital defence need, and also whether General MotorsHoldens Limited were approached by the Defence Department on the subject.
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that my department has not at any time recommended the manufacture of motor car chassis in Australia as a vital defence need, nor has any approach in this connexion been made to Messrs. General Motors-Holdens Limited.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 May 1939, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1939/19390509_reps_15_159/>.