17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. J. S. Rosevear). took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is proposed that the first sitting of the House next week shall be on Wednesday instead of, as was originally intended, on Tuesday, and that the hour of meeting on Thursday shall be 2.30 p.m. Tn the following weeks, the House will meetfirst at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, and then at 10.80 a.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. In the absence of exceptional circumstances, it will continue to sit on four days a week until the conclusion of this sessional period.
– Can the Prime Minister give some indication of the proposed legislative programme for the remainder of this sessional period?
– I hope that the budget speech may be delivered to-morrow. Due to printing difficulties, it will not be possible to bring down immediately some of the legislation arising out of the budget; it will be brought down next week. Having discussed the matter with the Leader of tho Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), I hope that the budget debate will be commenced next Thursday. In addition to the legislation already before the House, the Government’s programme includes a bill to provide financial assistance to the States for use in connexion with tuberculosis, a bill relating to hospital benefits, a War Service Land Settlement Agreements Bill, a Housing Bill, a War Service Homes Bill, legislation dealing with wool, and a small amendment of the Widows’ Pensions Act. There may be one or two other measures.
– Assuming that the Charter of the United Nations Bill passes all stages, to-night, leaving time for the presentation of the budget to-morrow, will the Prime Minister bc disposed to place at the head of the noticepaper for Wednesday next, Order of the Day No. 5 - Demobilization of Australian Defence Forces - Motion for printing paper - in view of the fact that that is an urgent and a current problem ?
– Provided the bill is passed by the House thi3 week, I shall be prepared to allow the order of the day to which the right honorable gentleman has referred to be debated on Wednesday next, on the understanding that., if the debate on that matter be not concluded on that day, the budget debate shall bc commenced on Thursday.
Motions (by Mr. Chifley) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy), on the ground nf ill health.
That leave of absence for two months be given to the Minister for External Affairs and Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson mid the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), on the ground of urgent public business.
Detentions - -RELEASES
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Army been directed to serious allegations by ChapIain Nyc of the Royal Australian Air Force, which appeared in the Sydney Mirror yesterday regarding tho treatment of prisoners in detention barracks in Australia? Will the Minister take steps to ascertain whether the allegations are in accordance with the facts, and, if they are, whether suitable punishment will be meted out to those responsible for such inhuman treatment?
– I have read the paragraph to which the honorable member has referred. I understand that evidence on the matter was given’ before’ a special committee which I appointed consisting of Mr. Justice Reed, chairman, Chaplain - General Rentoul and Mr. Bidstrup, representing the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. I shall await the report of the committee before deciding what further steps shall be taken. I have every confidence in the committee, and believe that it will furnish a fair and impartial report.
– It was originally stated that members of the armed forces on leave in Australia from the islands must in most cases return to the islands. Subsequently, as the result of action by the Minister for the Army, it was announced that except in rare cases of key men, servicemen on leave could remain in Australia. The statement has been attributed to an anonymous Army spokesman that men must, in practically every case, return to the islands at the conclusion of their leave in Australia. Will the Minister make a statement clearly setting out the position for the information of thousands of men con.cerned ?
– ‘The position was as was announced by me in this House. As the result of action which I took, it was decided by the Chief of the General Staff, General Northcott, that except in the case of a few key personnel, men at present in Australia on leave from New Guinea, the Solomons, Morotai, Borneo and other islands to the north, would not he required to return to the islands. When I was in Brisbane last Monday, 1 was asked for information on this point, and discussed the matter with MajorGeneral Stantke, General Officer Commanding Queensland Lines of Communication Area, and he assured me that no action was being taken to send such men north. The decision, made as the result of my intervention still stands.
House Tenancy of Soldier’s Wife
– In March last, the late Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) appointed an all-party committee to consider the circumstances in which an eviction notice had been directed to Corporal Pedvin, then a prisoner of war in the hands of the Japanese, and served upon his wife. A long delay has occurred in the presentation of the report, because, it has been stated, ,of the absence of one member of the committee at San Fran cisco. In view of . certain statement? which were made last week in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Richmond, will the Prime Minister insist that the committee shall immediately complete its investigation? and expeditiously submit its report?
– The chairman of tho committee is the Minister for Defence, and the Minister explained last week that he proposed to call the committee together at an early date. There is no need for insistence with regard to the matter. I can rely on my colleague to expedite the completion of the report.
– Has the Prime Minister any information to give to the House as a result of the consultation which, according to press reports, took place to-day between himself and two Ministers of the New South Wales Government in an attempt to settle the strike among employees at the Bunnerong Power Station?
– It is true that consultations have taken place between the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Works in the Government of New South Wales and myself ; also, to a lesser degree, with the Minister for Defence, in regard to the very regrettable position at the Bunnerong powerhouse. I am sorry that I cannot give the honorable member any information about what has been done, or is likely to he done.
Motor Vehicles and Tyres
– In view of the acute shortage of tyres and motor vehicles for essential users, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping expedite the disposal of Army stocks, and particularly of those vehicles and tyres stored at Bandiana?
– This is a very important matter. The manager of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, who was in Canberra yesterday, discussed it with the Minister for Supply and Shipping. In order to expedite disposal it will be necessary to employ more staff and to enlarge the organization. I can assure the honorable member that the line of action suggested by him will be followed.
– Now that, the war is ended, does not the Prime Minister consider that Australia might well forgo the luxury of the Department of Information!! Canhe suggest any grounds, either present or prospective, for the large expenditure which the maintenance of the department involves, and does he not consider that the talents of the Minister in charge of this department might well be concentrated on his other portfolio, that of immigration, which is of far greater importance?
– The reply to the honorable member’s question is “ No “. The Department of Information was established before Japan entered the war.
– It is a good publicity medium for the Government, so why abolish it?
– It certainly was not established by this Government. In my opinion, the department can be used to the advantage of the Commonwealth, not only in Australia, but also in other countries. Whatever questions may arise as to the staff of the department and the expenses associated with its activities, there certainly is justification for its existence.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to make a statement to the House regarding munitions factories and government-owned machinery in them? In particular, can he say whether he has consulted with the State Governments with a view to the purchase or lease of such factories and machinery, or whether the Commonwealth Government intends to lease them to manufacturers on a share basis for the manufacture of household fittings in connexion with the Government’s housing programme?
– If I were to relate all the circumstances associated with proposals for the use of munitions faclories and equipment, the story would be wearisome. I shall arrange with the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, who is in charge of the Secondary Industries Commission, to have a statement prepared giving the fullest information possible.
Australian Prisoners of War: Notification to Next of Kin ; Shipping Information - Chungking Legation
– Can the Minister for the Army say whether it is a fact that no information as to the names of recovered prisoners of war who will reach Australia by sea within the next few days has yet been issued by the Army Department to their relatives? If so, will he take immediate steps to announce the names of the men so that their relatives may know whether or not to expect them on the ship which is due to reach Australia soon? Will he also give the reason for the official silence about the names of Australian prisoners of war who have already been recovered from the Japanese, and will he take action to expedite the supplying of the names of prisoners to their relatives?
– I am surprised at the question of the honorable member, because the Australian Army authorities recently sent 1,500 personnel to Singapore, Manila, and other places where Australian prisoners of war were to be released. Included in the personnel sent to those places was a signals corps, whose job was to expedite the sending of communications to relatives in Australia. The arrangement was that such communications would be sent out immediately the names of the men became known to the Army authorities. Can the honorable member vouch for the accuracy of the statement that has been made to him on this subject? I shall have inquiries made immediately, and make a definite statement on the subject at an early date.
– Last week I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping whether he would interview his colleague with a view to having information made public as to the arrival, in particular, of vessels carrying returned prisoners of war and service personnel from overseas. Has the Minister seen complaints in the press yesterday and the previous day by relatives of returned men that there is still a shroud of secrecy around the arrival of ships and that shipping officials will give very little information? I again ask whether the Minister will take the matter up with his colleague, and, in view of the fact that with the end of the war secrecy is no longer necessary,have every facility provided in order that relatives of returning men may make proper arrangements to welcome them ?
– Yes. I agreed with the view expressed by the honorable member last week. I referred the matter to the Director of Shipping for him to take the steps that ought to be taken, but he advised me thatthe matter concerns the Navy. The Minister for the Navy may not yet have had an opportunity to examine the matter, but I hope that he will agree with me that as soon ‘as possible steps should be taken on the lines suggested by the honorable gentleman.
– Will the Minister for the Navy answer the question ?
– There are good and sufficient reasons why, at the moment, we are unable to disclose the times of arrival of vessels at the various Australian ports. A number of Japanese submarines have not yet reported and are still on the high seas. Until such time as they have surrendered, it is essential that we should not disclose the times of arrival, or the presence in waters adjacent to Australia, of any vessels.
– Has the Acting Minister for External Affairs seen press reports from Chungking that official Australian initiative and activity in looking after Australian prisoners of war in the China theatre are conspicuous by theirinadequancy, and that ever since the departure of Sir Frederic Eggleston from Chungking the Australian Legation had been nothing more than a faint echo of the BritishEmbassy?If so. will the Minister inform the House what action, if any, has been taken or will he taken toremedy the position. especially in view of the importance of giving Australia news of prisoners of war with the least possible delay?
– i have been informed of the circumstances mentioned by the honorable member. At present consultations are taking place between the Army authorities and legation officials with a view to obtaining an explanation of the matter. shipbuilding.
– Is the Minister for the Navy in a position to inform the House what action the Government intends to take in. connexion with shipbuilding yards which were established in Australia during the war period for the construction of vessels of a type no longer required for war purposes?
– A sub-committee of Cabinet has been considering this matter, and an inter-departmental committee is preparing a statement on certain aspects of it. i hope to make a comprehensive statement on the subject in the near future. tractors. releasetoprimaryproducers.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping yet been able to obtain any information about the release of 120 Case tractors in Melbourne that are very urgently needed to prepare the ground for next year’s crops? i am reliably informed that 300 new tractors fully equipped are immobilized in Melbourne although they are urgently needed by primary producers.
– I agreed to take some action in this matter, but I found that it was handled not by the Department of Supply and Shipping but by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. It has been referred to that department for investigation.
– In an endeavour to ascertain the ministerial authority responsible for this matter, I now direct a question to the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agricultureconcerning the release to primary producers of the idle army tractors, to which I have referred on several previousoccasions. Will the
Minister take positive action to ascertain whether these machines, which are urgently needed for civil production, are to be made available to primary producers?
– I shall find out immediately whether or not the tractors are to be released. If so, they will be sold through the Commonwealth Disposals Commission.
Child En dowment - Unemployment and Sickness Benefits.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether consideration will be given immediately to amending subsection 1 of section 14 of the Child Endowment Act to provide for payment of child endowment in respect of the children of Australian servicemen married to English women who have notfulfilled the qualification of twelve months’ residence in Australia?
– In the absence of the Minister I inform the honorable member, who mentioned this matter to me personally some days ago, that I have made inquiries into it, and it is now being considered.
– The Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Act, which was introduced by this Government, makes it compulsory for a person to apply for the benefits within seven days of becoming unemployed or incapacitated. But there are many patients in public hospitals throughout Australia who are still ill at the expiration of that period, and cannot claim the benefits. Will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of amending the act so that those patients may receive the benefits granted by this generous legislation?
– This matter was raised on a previous occasion by another honorable member who pointed out that, as the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Act was of comparatively recent origin, many people were not aware that they must apply within seven days for the benefits granted by that legislation. The suggestion was made that greater publicity should be given to that provision, and that the period should bo extended. I agreed to examine the proposals. I am not able to promise the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) that the Government will consider amending the act, as he suggested, because that provision is essential for the purposes of administration. However, [ am prepared to examine the claim that in the early stages of the operation of the legislation, some people, because of their lack of knowledge of the various provisions, have been deprived of the benefits of the act.
– I requested the late Mr. Curtin to arrange a conference of representatives of the major primary industries with a view to considering post-war plans and problems with particular reference to export trade. 1 should like to know whether the Prime Minister is prepared to implement that suggestion, and confer with me with a view to setting in motion the necessary machinery for holding such a conference?
– I recall that the late Prime Minister indicated that he was prepared to convene such a conference ti long the lines, I understand, of the conference of manufacturers.
– That is so.
– I confess that I cannot see any opportunity to hold the conference until the parliamentary session is completed; but shortly afterwards I shall be glad to confer with the right honorable gentleman as to whether it will be possible to arrange such a conference.
Machinery - Concessional Wheat
– The consensus of opinion among agents for agricultural implement manufacturers whom I have interviewed at country shows during the last few weeks, is that manufacturers will be unable to supply to wheat-growers sufficient numbers of strippers and headers to take off the next crop. Will the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture depute a representative of the department to make a thorough survey of the manufacturing industry with a view to averting a shortage of agricultural machinery ?
– I shall be pleased to meet tho wishes of the honorable member in that matter.
Mr. WILSON Is the Prime Minister able to state whether any progress has been made, or finality has been reached, in connexion with the payment to the Australian Wheat Board of adjustment money with respect to sales of concessional wheat?
– This matter ‘was mentioned to me at the conclusion of the last sessional period by the honorable member for Wimmera and the honorable mein her for Forrest, and I took steps to have flic facts collated. A report has now reached me, and I shall examine il us early as possible.
M r. HARRISON.- I ,ask the Minister for Air whether it is a fact that there is in existence n body known as the Internationa! Technical Committee of Legal Experts on Air Questions? What is the function of the committee? Is Australia represented on it? If not, what arrangements have been made by which the Commonwealth can exchange with the countries represented information of value in the unification of international law on air questions?
– Following the conference on civil aviation which was held abroad, various technical bodies were appointed, and Australia has sent a representative to the interim council functioning in Canada. I have not in my possession the details of the various committees which .arc being established, but if the honorable member will place his question on the Notice Paper, I shall supply all the information that he requires.
– Ha? the Government yet arrived at any decision, regarding the future or otherwise of uniform income tax which, under t llc act, will expire automatically at the end of the next financial year?
– At the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers about a fortnight ago, I expressed some ‘ personal opinions on the subject, but as yet the Government has not made any decision. I have arranged for a complete examination of the whole position, and hope to be able to submit the conclusions to Cabinet at a reasonably early date.
– Will the Minister for Information inform the House whether Squadron Leader Lionel Van Praag, who will be a candidate for the Wentworth scat at the next election, is a naturalized Australian subject? I understand that he is second generation Australian born, but because a rumour is circulating among supporters of the honorable member for Wentworth that Squadron Leader Van Praag is not naturalized, will the Minister inform the House how long this gentleman has been an Australian citizen ?
– Perhaps 1 should supply the information in my capacity as Minister for Immigration. I shall ascertain whether Squadron Leader Van Praag has ever been naturalized, or whether lie is second generation Australian born. There is no doubt about his fighting record; but T point out that a person docs not have to be a naturalized British subject io serve in the Australian armed forces. Advice which I have received from the Commander in Chief indicates that at least one enemy alien ha? attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Military Forces of this country. 1 do not know what other opposition the honorable member for Wentworth will have at the next election, but I do know of one lady, a natural-born British subject, who has great hopes of representing Wentworth in the next Parliament.
– Has the Acting Attorney-General yet received the papers connected with tho Braitling prosecution nt Alice Springs which Judge Wells has threatened to send to him? If not, will the honorable gentleman read them when they do come into his possession, and make a statement to this House as to bow the prosecution came to be launched ?
– The papers are now in the possession of the Solicitor-General and are being considered. When consideration has been completed, I shall decide what action should be taken.
Meat and Butter
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government is considering or will consider a reduction of the Australian meat and butter rations so that further supplies of these commodities may bc made available to the people of Great Britain?
– Honorable members will recall that to meet commitments to Great Britain a reduction of the Australian meat and butter rations was made some tinto ago. Recent consideration has not. been given to a further reduction. When the moat ration was reduced previously difficulties were experienced in regard to workers in heavy industries, and it. was decided that no further reduction should be made. However, I shall give consideration to the matter.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that for a week the electric tramway system of Brisbane has been idle because of a strike? Does the right honorable gentleman understand the dislocation that this cessation of transport * has caused throughout the Brisbane community? As the righthonorable gentleman has intervened in ti series of industrial disputes in New South Wales and elsewhere, and as the Queensland Government apparently is unable to deal with this strike effectively, will the Prime Minister consider invoking the National Security Regulations to ensure that a full inquiry shall be made into this dispute, the facts ascertained and the issues justly settled so that the tramway system may again be pitt into service ?
– I have not received any official information, either from the Queensland. Government or from the authority controlling the tramway system of Brisbane, of any industrial dis turbance there, but I have read in the press that there has been a stoppage - whether complete or partial - I do not know. No request has been made to the Commonwealth Government to intervene in the dispute. I understand that the tramways in Brisbane operate ‘as a State instrumentality.
– They are run by the city council.
– The city council comes under State law.
– The right honorable member is still right.
– Of course 1 am right. I regard any semi-governmental body as being, cither directly or indirectly, a form of State instrumentality. I understand, further, that the tramways men work under State awards.
– The right honorable member cannot remain indifferent to the hold-up.
– No request for intervention has been made by the State Government, the local authority, which controls the tramways, or by unions concerned. If the matter should be brought to my attention-
– I bring it to the attention of the right honorable member on behalf of the people whom I represent.
– With all due respect, I do not regard the honorable member as being a representative of the Queensland Government or the Brisbane City Council, and certainly not of the unions. If any official request for intervention is made the Government will give consideration to it.
– Is it a fact that numerous requests for newsprint by trade unions and various other suburban district organizations have been rejected? Is there any likelihood of relieving restrictions on the issue of newsprint so that supplies may be made available to such organizations?
– I shall confer with the Minister for Trade and Customs with a view to ascertaining the answers to the honorable member’s questions.
– In view of the present higher cost of home building, and the inadequacy of the loans obtainable from the War Service Homes Commission, the maximum amount being £950, will the Minister for Housing consider the introduction of amending legislation which will enable those to be catered for who cannot provide in cash the difference between the amount of the loan and the cost of the home?
– The Prime Minister announced earlier to-day that a bill io amend the War Service Homes Act is to be introduced during the present sessional period. It will make provision along the lines suggested by the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Works whether the Government impressed road-making machinery on behalf of the Allied Works Council, and paid a certain price for it. Is it a. fact that municipal and shire councils who now wish to acquire road-making machinery have to make application to a motoring agency, a State main roads board or a State Transport board, and that tho vehicles being offered to them at a price of £1,000 are of no use, an expense of £400 having to be incurred even to set the engine in motion? In response to my representations, the Minister offered to interest himself in the purchase of another machine by the Kearsley Shire Council. Is it likely to be an improvement on the machine purchased by that council, which “ will not go “ ?
– The Allied Works Council impressed machinery from municipal and shire councils, and many other people, for the purpose of carrying on works, that were essential to the prosecution of the “war. The council has treated fairly generously those with whom it has made provision for the return of machinery. I have not seen and have no knowledge of the vehicle which the honorable member says “ will not go “. The Kearsley Shire Council applied to the Allied Works Council for roadmaking machinery, and I informed the honorable member of the proper authority to which application should be made.
– But the shire council already had a machine 1
– It was not purchased from the Allied Works Council. If that body is responsible for the condition of a machine that “ will not go “, and the honorable member will supply full particulars of it, I shall sec that the council will make it “ go “.
– ls the Minister for Munitions aware thai the Directorate of Machine Tools is considering the sale of machine tools to establishments which previously hired them, and is insisting upon payment in cash within seven days? If not, will he have investigations made, with a view to ensuring that a method more consistent with ordinary trade practice shall be evolved, particularly as that would enable the directorate to have a wider clientele for the purchase of machine tools?
– I am well aware of all the circumstances in connexion with the disposal of machine tools. The matter is being administered by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, for which the Department of Munitions acts as an agent. The policy that -we are required to follow is that laid down by the commission. Until a month ago, a hire purchase arrangement could be entered into by any one who desired to have machine tools on that basis. I am negotiating with the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, with a view to the reintroduction of the system of hire purchase, and hope that a satisfactory arrangement will be made.
– 1 received yesterday a. 50-page catalogue of ‘a sale by auction of surplus property to bo held at Alice Springs on four days next week. The auctioneers have gone to great trouble, on behalf of the Government, to advertise the lots that are to be sold. Information has been given in regard to the fares that will have to lie paid by those travelling by train and airways. There is also an accompanying statement that permission to attend the sale must be obtained from the Army authorities. Those applying for a permit must state name, address, number of civilian identity card, occupation, residential address, whether intending to travel by rail or air, next of kin, dato of entry to Alice Springs, and date of return. In view of the termination of the war, does not the Prime Minister consider that people should be permitted to travel from South Australia to the Northern Territory without obtaining I he permission of the Army authorities i:: Darwin ?
– I expressed yesterday the hope that all restrictions on travel from any part of Australia to the Northern Territory would soon be com- ! ‘., removed. I have not seen the advertisement to which the honorable gentleman has referred, hut I understand nhat the application form requiring certain particulars to be furnished was prepared before the termination of the war. I shall make inquiries, with a view to seeing whether it can be withdrawn. T do not apprehend any difficulty in that connexion.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That leave bc given to bring in a bill for an act to provide financial assistance to the States for use in connexion with tuberculosis, and fur other purposes
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill foi :ni act relating to hospital benefits.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an net to authorize the execution by or ou behalf of the Commonwealth of agreements between the Commonwealth and the States in relation to War Service Land Settlement.
Debate resumed from the oth September (vide page 5144), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I support the proposal of the Government that the Charter of the United Nations be ratified by this Parliament. This Charter, composed while war still raged, but in an atmosphere of imminent defeat of our enemies, embodies the expressed will, determination and hope of people who have been torn and sickened by years of the most dreadful conflict in history that the most effective device should be established for the avoidance of war and, if necessary, for the forceful suppression of aggressors. It is now almost a year since the Dumbarton Oaks draft was prepared, and as the present Charter adhere.closely to the original draft it is natural that this document, prepared in the midst of the conflict should reveal so much evidence of revulsion against war, and should be devoted in its principal parts to the avoidance and prevention of war.
Although it is now only ten weeks since the Charter was signed tat San Francisco, we live in a world which is completely changed in respect of the future conduct of war by the advent of the atomic explosive. The dreadful effect of this new weapon in its present form almost surpasses imagination, lt is no exaggeration to say since the advent of the atomic bomb, that the continuance of a world of independent sovereign nations depends upon the successful functioning of this instrument designed primarily for the avoidance of war. If we consider any invention - the aeroplane, the radio or even printing - it is at once seen that the original conception was the utmost crudity by comparison with the perfected development. 1 have no doubt that there will be a similar experience in the development of atomic explosives. British entry into the last two world wars was on each occasion preceded by the issue of an ultimatum to Germany fixing the time for a reply. It would never again be safe in similar circumstances to issue an ultimatum.. With atomic explosives and rocket projectiles, the answer would probably come in the form of a deluge of devastation. I am sure that these inventions have eliminated the last-minute negotiations in which war may be decided upon or avoided. Therefore, in any future international agreements of a kind which would lead to war, an atmosphere of unbearable tension would be bound to develop, in which any government might consider that its duty was to beat its opposite number to the decision. Such a horrible prospect places a tremendous responsibility upon all who concern themselves to-day in planning for the avoidance of war.
Those who drafted the Charter have clearly recognized that war can come from either of two primary causes. It may bc precipitated as a revolt against tyranny or grievance. It may be forced by national want and poverty, fear, or any other intolerable conditions. On the other hand, war can come, as it, has on occasions in the past, from no physical circumstances. but because of the cold planning of ambitious or avaricious men. The Charter carries evidence of tho attempts made to avoid the existence of tyrannous or poverty-stricken conditions such as may drive a nation to war, and also provides ever-ready machinery for dealing with a case of coldly planned aggression.
The Charter, in its most vital chapter, seta out in the most practical and realistic manner the procedures to he followed by the Security Council to prevent the occurrence of war by use of the age-old method of diplomatic negotiation and reasoning, backed by the threat of the superior . forces which arc to be at: the disposal of the council. Side by side with this, however, and in the obvious hope that through these other devices the authority of the Security Council will never need to bc invoked, the more modern and civilized devices are provided to avoid the development of situations in which there may be a threat of force. These devices are the General Assembly, where the representatives of all free nations are to meet in open forum, with free opportunity for all lo express their views, plead their cas” and reveal their grievances, and which In absolute freedom of expression, is to stand as the very antithesis of tyranny. Then the International Court of Jus-lice is to be set up to permit of imparl hil arbitration and authoritative judgment on matters of international dispute, and in this court, no doubt, a complete code of international law will be developed and expanded through tha years.
These are the primary proposals of the Charter, and are the outcome of the intense efforts of that great gathering of tho leaders of the nations to ensure mankind against a repetition of the recent cataclysm. In addition, of course, the Charter makes provision, though as yet in the most skeleton form, for tackling the problem of the more fundamental, universal and continuous problems of human rights, needs and aspirations. These problems, which are really of the person rather than of the nation, are to be the object of study and planning, and, wo hope, agreement with the Social and Economic Council and the Trusteeship Council, for the establishment of which the Charter provides. The General Assembly, which will meet annually, and which may have special meetings, will be the open world forum, where all, great and small, will speak with equal voice. Hero, there will be discussion and, on occasions, recommendations, but no executive authority of a kind which could be directed to any single nation. The necessity for such a body will be immediately accepted by all, just as 1 believe that, having regard to the disparity in the size and influence of its member States., the impracticability of clothing the Assembly with executive power exercisable on a majority vote will he understood.
The hard-headed realism of the Great Powers, who have borne the burden and sacrifice of the war, is revealed in the creation, composition, function, and authority of the Security Council. On this body of eleven, the five Great Powers have permanent seats, and, in addition, each retains a right of veto designed to be exercisable against any decision of the Security Council regarded as being contrary to the vital interest of the Great Powers. The six non-permanent members, holding office each for two years and not being eligible for immediate re-election, are to be chosen having regard to certain factors which entitle us to feel confident that Australia will from time to time enjoy membership of the Security Council. This body is to have a great authority, and is to have at its command armed forces, a contingent towards which each United Nation obligates itself to contribute.
Any dispute likely to endanger international peace will be within the ambit of the authority of the Security Council, which will pursue all the courses which common sense would dictate to achieve a settlement. Investigation and negotiation, suggestions for terms of settlement, economic sanctions and the severance of diplomatic relations - all of these are steps within the authority of the Security Council to impose, and ultimately recourse may be had to the threat or employment of armed force. Disputes which lend themselves to settlement by judicial processes would, no doubt, be referred to the International Court. The Social and Economic Council, for which the Charter makes provision, is to provide a permanent world meeting point for the discussion of social and economic problems, upon the solution of which so much depends if we are to achieve that world-wide content without which there can never be any real confidence that war will be avoided. In the absence of a threat of war, this is the body whose deliberations should hold most interest for the bulk of mankind. Avoidance of international commercial friction and exploitation, the raising of standards of living, and such matters which affect the every-day life of the millions are to he the subjects of discussion by the Economic and Social Council.
At San Francisco, there was a notable avoidance of discussion of any matters which would give indication of the policies which might be considered by this council. Ever since the outbreak of war, wo have had such a plethora of speeches and pronounciamenta upon the new order, and post-war planning, and social security and such catch phrases, that one might have expected - at least, I did - that those who have been so busy guaranteeing the milennium would have had something more detailed to propose than the inclusion of deliberations affirming the need for economic progress, full employment, -&c, which are very empty phrases unless associated with an assurance of willingness to give as well as to take in the realm of international economic relationships.
We are to have a Trusteeship Council, which emerges from the acceptance by all the member nations of obligations to advance the well-being of the peoples of non self-governing territories. Theoreti%cally, the idea is unassailable. In practice, it will result in certain nations, which have no non-self-governing dependencies, and which, therefore, have no experience in such matters, achieving an authority to investigate the behaviour of those nations which have had much experience in this field. I find it difficult to raise great enthusiasm for the Trusteeship Council. In the matter of dependent peoples, history seems to show that most nations «xe much better at explaining how the other fellows’ house should be put in order than in attending to their own. Frankly, our record in respect to our own aborigines does not qualify us to pose as leaders of world thought in this matter. It would have been very embarrassing had our spokesman - in the midst of his crusade to straighten up the nations on this matter - been obliged to explain that his own Government possessed no authority to take charge of the welfare of the majority of the aboriginal inhabitants of Australia, having quite recently been refused this authority by the Australian people.
The Charter, in its final form, is the Dumbarton Oaks draft with minor modifications. It will be recalled that the Dumbarton Oaks draft was drawn by the three great world powers and China before the end of tho war appeared imminent. These powers, which have endured the tremendous cost and sacrifice of this war, clearly realize that they would have to carry the same burden in any future conflagration. Recognition of this fact dominates the Charter, which was drawn in an atmosphere of war, for the principal purpose of avoiding war. and in this sense truly reflects the dominant wish of mankind. With all the evidence of idealism and high purpose which studs the Charter from beginning to end, there is nonetheless never absent a realization of the power and responsibility of the Great Powers. For all their planning in the interests of mankind, they have never forgone their rights in the matter of war or peace, to plan first, and separately, each for its own people. This is shown in the Veto provision, and the inflexibility at San Francisco of the Great Powers in their determination to retain their veto rights on the Security Council. So, we have a curious knitting together of idealism and stubborn realism, a peculiar combination, but inevitable, I believe, in the kind of world in which we live at the moment.
The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), as leader of the delegation, acted on all occasions with dignity and correctness. Ho was as conscientious in his devotion to his duties as any one could possibly bc. The Minister for External A (fairs (Dr. Evatt) displayed a technical knowledge of the Dumbarton Oaks draft, and the implications of the innumerable amendments, which was probably second to none at the conference. 31 p worked untiringly, and no man in that whole assembly could have devoted him self more completely to the work in hand, f am bound to say, however, that he completely disregarded the existence nf the dozen consultants and adviser’ appointed by the late Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin’).
The two Australian delegates had a numerous retinue at San Francisco. There were the twelve, of whom I was one, designated as consultants and advisers, and an array of officials, both very senior officials and junior ones. When the late Mr. Curtin invited me to go to the confer.once, he pointed out that the two Ministers were the delegates, but that I, with my fellow advisers, would be expected to participate in discussions designed to clarify the Australian viewpoint on issues arising, and to attend, and play an active part in, the discussions of the committees of the conference.
I have to make it quite clear that, under the procedure followed, I, like other advisers, had the very minimum of opportunity to make any contribution. We did not see the speech of the leader of the delegation before it was delivered at the first plenary session, and, of course, we were not consulted on its contents. T was chairman of the Aus* tralian Sub-Committee on the Security Council Chapter, but the Australian amendments relevant to this chapter were drafted before my committee could report. The British and Canadian delegations held a full regular morning meeting, as 1 understand also did the American delegation. The. Australian consultantswere called together at 10.30 on Monday nights, but not even on every Monday night, and no such meeting of the twenty odd persons concerned lasted an hour. At these meetings we were told by the delegates in necessarily sketchy manner, something of what had occurred, with perhaps a short reference to what was intended. Then we were all allotted tothe many conference committees. The principle here followed appeared to bethat of a raffle in which a prize- is guaranteed to every one, with no Hanks. 3 was allotted to one committee as an. alternate to the official delegates, as wasalso each of my colleagues and almost every official in the entourage. In addition, we were given the right to attend’ other committees as back-bench listeners. I admit frankly that I did not freely avail myself of that privilege. The day will come when the present Minister - for External Affairs will be an exMinister for External Affairs, as I now am. I had looked forward to inviting: him to say in this House whether, as an ex-Minister for External Affairs, he would, at an international conference, accept the role of sitting on a remote back bench as one of the audience whilst a comparatively junior member of thestaff of the Department of External Affairs occupied the chair as Australia’sspokesman. However, the occasionswhen any of the alternates spoke wert<rare. Although there must have been a score of committees, whenever anythinghad to be said on behalf of Australia the ubiquitous Dr. Evatt appeared and stated tho case. If ever there was a. one-man band it was the Australian, delegation at San Francisco. By contrast, it is of interest to note the composition and operation of the United States delegation, that country, of course,, also having a one-party Government.
– They took a minor part in the conference, did they not? Wewere given to understand that that, was so.
– They were there. The delegation of the United States of
America was headed by their Secretary of State, and included active opponents of the Administration from both within and outside Congress. When Mr. Stettinius was the leader and voting delegate, all acted as principals in the committee and commission deliberations. Frequent and regular 11let tings were held, and United States delegates who are active opponents of the Administration - such as Senator Vandenberg and Commander Stassen - took a leading part as principals in the committees and commissions with which they were concerned. A similar procedure was followed by the Canadian delegation which, although appointed by a one-party government, included representatives of all shades of political opinion. In my opinion, in respect to the non-use made of consultants and advisors, the handling of the Australian delegation was a pattern of how not to do it.
The fact is clear to my mind that at San Francisco the personal views of the Minister for External Affairs were consistently put forward as the foreign policy of Australia. There were some views with which I did not agree, but hardly any which worried me. A crisis over the words “ full employment “ - words so general and indefinitive, so obviously impossible to construe as a mutual contractual obligation by 50 nations - quite frankly seemed to me to be a very synthetic crisis. A valiant battle for n world authority of trusteeship for dependent, native peoples by a Minister whose own people had just refused him even the authority of responsibility for his own aborigines, seemed to me more funny than valiant. And a heroic fight against the “ Big Five “ veto, carried on in the din of cheering Peruvians and Niearaguans, even after the “ Big Five “ had announced that they would not adhere to a Charter from which the veto had been removed, seemed to me more histrionic than heroic. So,. I am not worried even by those points of the Minister’s policy with which I did not agree. But what I am intensely worried about is his tactical processes in the realm of diplomacy. Dr. Evatt is Australia’s Foreign Minister, mid constantly he avails himself of his status as the Foreign Minister of a completely independent sovereign State in pursuing his course on international issues. Considered in the abstract, his right so to act is unchallengeable. In his enthusiasm, however, he forgets that he is subject in this freedom to one limiting factor. The ultimate function and purpose of every foreign minister is to safeguard the interests of his own country. Australia’s vital interests are not, in the nature of things, capable of being protected by ourselves alone. Our safety and destiny are in our membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations; our strength is in the total strength of the British Commonwealth. Every time that Dr. Evatt, in the course of his constantly practised diplomatic tactics, publicly reproaches the British Government, a? over the matter of Australia being a principal in the Japanese surrender, or displays to the world our complete separateness from Britain, as over the Potsdam Declaration, or, as on more than a few occasions at San Francisco, reveal? publicly a disagreement on an important issue with the United Kingdom, or lightly lines up with a mass of Latin American States, with which we have no continuing interest, to outvote the United Kingdom, he is steadily whittling down the authority internationally attached to the voice of the United Kingdom. This constant display of Australian national independence is admirable only if it be not harmful in the ultimate. A loud selfassertion is not only a mark of courage and independence, it can equally be the hall-mark of an inferiority complex.
The real point is that on great international issues - as in war, and in the higher realms of international dealings - we must acknowledge the reality of the leadership of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom speaks, and is accepted, as a great power; but to-day the United Kingdom, with its 45 million people and depleted home resources, is not a great power, when measured against the United States of America and Russia. The United Kingdom speaks, acts, and is accepted, as a great power only because of the totality of the British Commonwealth. A belief - justified or unjustified - that the United Kingdom could no longer speak for or rely upon the whole British Commonwealth would at once mean the loss of its authority in world affairs; and who would be so foolish as to think that we in Australia would not soon feel the repercussions? One of the factors which had some part in the commencement of the recent war was the belief of Ribbentrop that the British Empire was ready to fall to pieces.
Dr. Evatt is designated Minister for External Affairs, not Foreign Minister, and his title indicates that his duties are concerned largely with Australian relationships with the United Kingdom and the other dominions. I urge him, and the Government, to do our British business in the accepted . British way, by conference and cables, not publicly in the press, and over the radio by the “ pressure of public opinion “ or any other pressure system.
I warn the Minister for External Affairs and the Government that, attractive as it may be from the point of view of cultivating Australian nationalism, or gaining personal publicity, the development of a separate foreign policy by Australia, or any other British dominion, will, in the diplomatic arena, reduce the British Commonwealth to its component parts, and they all will be outside the ranks of Great Powers.
Combined, the British Commonwealth has incomparably the greatest potential in the world for peace and progress and happiness, and, if forced into it, for war. About a fortnight ago, practically the whole of the national news session at 7 p.m. was composed of a statement by the Minister for External Affairs vigorously replying to, denying, and trouncing the British Government over the Japanese surrender arrangements. That is good publicity, but poor diplomacy - and the job of the Minister is to be a diplomat, not a publicist. Many a wife has got a new hat by bawling her husband out in public, but it really is not the approved method and generally is not necessary. The same applies in diplomacy.
I am conscious that my criticisms are directed in what appears to be a disproportionate degree against the conduct of the Minister for External Affairs personally. This is not by choice, but because the Government, as such, patently has no foreign policy, having entirely abdicated on this issue in his f favour r.
I do not wish to be misunderstood, and leave any impression that I think Australia should be a meek follower. Because of our circumstances and our outlook, we have special views on important matters in respect to which it is right that we should be insistent. What I am directing attention to is the very great danger of British dominions deciding upon, and taking a public stand upon, points of foreign policy that reveal elements of disunity. We all know how difficult it is to retract once a public stand has been taken. The right honorable gentleman is unquestionably a man of great ability, extraordinary industry, and of notable force of character; but with these qualities go an obvious burning personal ambition to be a great figure, and an insatiable desire for publicity. If ever the British Empire were unlucky enough to have at the same time a group of Dominion Foreign Ministers as well equipped as Dr. Evatt and practising the same tactics, the British Commonwealth would disintegrate like the atom.
The Charter itself is a legal document. Legal documents customarily have the complete backing of an effective law enforcement body; or they specifically set out the penalties of failure to observe the terms of the undertaking. This document lacks that backing, principally because of the veto provision and the inexplicit character of many of the general undertakings. Unlike an ordinary contractual obligation, we have no guarantee that its terms will be observed. We merely hope and pray that they will be observed. In short, the Charter is an experiment in the evolution of human relationships; certainly the most important experiment ever engaged in.
So, we have to face the fact that the world in prospect holds the most terrible possibilities unless this Charter operates successfully; and we are relying upon a charter which ha3 no guaranteed enforcement authority standing behind it to operate in all circumstances. Our hopes, therefore, rest upon the ability of the Powers to carry on in agreement. The great need is for understanding and tolerance and good faith. Without these ingredients, the Charter cannot be relied upon to work. The core of the Charter
Ls agreement between the three Great Powers. In the striving for peace, our part is to make every possible contribution to mutual understanding and goodwill. That is why such relationships are so much more important than legalistic perfection in the wording of the Charter.
Mr. pollard (Ballarat) [4.0]. - I listened with very great interest to the well-prepared and well-read speech of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). I regret that an otherwise excellent speech was marred by a personal attack on the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) in his absence overseas. The honorable member, in his remarks about the conduct of the conference at San Francisco, exhibited the disappointment that he has always manifested whenever he has had to take a back seat in this Parliament or in any body with which he has been associated. I left this country, after having been informed by the then Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) that I was fortunate enough to be a member of the Australian delegation to San Francisco, with no illusions as to tho part that I should be called upon to play. I was told that I would be a consultant and adviser like the honorable member for Indi. It is true that on arrival at San Francisco we found that our functions and prerogatives were not so wide as those exercised by members of delegations from other countries. That may or may not have been a mistake, but I am quite certain that a decent man disagreeing with and disapproving of the authority or lack of authority - call it what you will - vested in us as individual delegates would have voiced his objections at the earliest opportunity, in the presence of the leader of the delegation (Mr. Forde) and the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), at one of the Monday night meetings, which my honorable friend has mentioned. Like me he attended some of those meetings, but not once did he ever voice his objections to the unimportance of the functions that he was called upon to perform. Instead, like a thief in the dark, he sneaks back to Australia and makes his attack in this Parliament.
I have no doubt whatever that had members of the delegation like him and others been given the opportunity to play a more important part than they did play, they would have carried out their functions quite effectively and efficiently and with credit to their country; but at the conferences and meetings that the honorable member attended never once did I hear him take any objection to the so-called attacks that, it is alleged, the Minister for External Affairs delivered on the delegations from Great Britain and the other Dominions. If a man believes that a wrong is being done and objects to a particular line of tactics adopted by the leader of the delegation of which he is a member, he ought to voice his objections and endeavour by every means at his disposal to ensure the immediate cessation of the tactics to which he objects. He did not do that. No; he ingratiated himself to the maximum of his ability into the good graces of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs in the hope that he might be able to “wangle’-“ a trip to Great Britain and the Continent at the expense of his country.
– That is a lie.
– Furthermore, the honorable gentleman who, to some degree, delivered a very excellent speech this afternoon, saw fit to be absent without leave a fortnight before the conference concluded its deliberations. Had any of the delegates, or their advisers, owing to some unfortunate circumstance, been unable to carry on their duties, the honorable gentleman who is so piqued about his lack of opportunity at the conference, would not have been available to fulfil the functions which this country sent him to the conference to discharge.
– The leader of the delegation knew where I was. I was absent with his permission.
– Of course; and 1 have no doubt that when the honorablegentleman refrained from attacking the leader of the delegation on the spot, and refrained from making adverse comments at the various meetings he attended, he did so in the expectation that the leader of the delegation, in his amiable and genial manner, would agree to the honorable gentleman rendering himself absent without leave and ultimately “ wangling “ a free trip to Great Britain and the Continent. Bight through the proceedings at the San Francisco conference I suspected that the honorable gentleman would run true to form upon his return to this country and deliver an attack of the kind he has just delivered in this chamber. I knew that he would not attack the leader of the delegation on. the spot in San Francisco, because I know his characteristics. They have been made evident right throughout his political career. When he is not at the top of the tree he behaves like a whipped cur, always moaning and whimpering. It is regrettable that in a debate upon a subject of such importance as the United Nations Charter the honorable member should have indulged in this personal attack. After all, mistakes are made. But there is a decent method, a right time and a right place to deal with that sort of thing. Certainly, it should not be raised in debate on a matter of this kind.
The honorable member not only delivered his cowardly personal attack upon the leader of the delegation, but also, having regard to the nature of this subject, made a mean and contemptible implication against the delegates from the Latin American countries including Peru and Liberia. The San Francisco conference was called for the express purpose of engendering among the nations of the world a spirit of goodwill and tolerance in the hope that mankind will be saved from the devastation of another war. My knowledge of the peoples of the world and its geography as a whole, particularly the Latin American conntries, may have been somewhat deficient before T left Australia, but I must say of the delegates from those countries, after contact with them in both the conference and the social sphere, that I was astonished at their capacity. [ am convinced that those countries will play an important part in world affairs in the future. It would redound to the credit of the honorable member if he realized that fact instead of implying that these peoples are of no importance and should be discounted in world affairs, and that we should not on any account line up with them. It is true that the Liberian delegate was black; but he represented a state established many years ago in the hope of solving the negro problem by providing a haven where negroes could settle and live happily. Unfortunately, that hope has not materialized. However, although that delegate was black, he was as much a gentleman as the honorable member for Indi - although that is flattering the honorable member - and worthily he played his part at the conference. Certainly, he did not go absent without leave. The honorable member also spoke of alleged attacks by the Australian delegates upon the delegates from Great Britain. With the exception of a few meetings of some committees, I attended all meetings, and I can only say that the Deputy Prime Minister was a perfect gentleman in every respect, whilst the Minister for External Affairs in debate with delegates from all the countries represented displayed a capacity which redounded to the credit of Australia as well as to his own credit. I certainly admit that the Minister for External Affairs has not that unctuous, self-righteous, polished approach exhibited by the honorable member for Indi, but at least, he has a capacity for expressing himself effectively and in no uncertain manner, and for gaining results.
– Tell us something about the results of the conference.
– The honorable member does not like to hear what I think about his colleague and his attack upon the Deputy Prime Minister.
– Why did not the honorable member tell all this to the honorable member for Indi in San Francisco?
– As I have already said, the honorable member for Indi did not reveal himself in his true coloui-3 at San Francisco; and in that respect he ran true to form. It is regrettable that one should have to mention these things, but I do so only in reply to the attack launched by the honorable member for Indi.
I am sorry that I have thus been side-tracked from the consideration of the measure now before the House. I believe that the work carried out at the San Francisco conference by the representatives of the 50 nations assembled there, and the Charter which they evolved from the Dumbarton Oaks draft, will make it possible for the world to avert catastrophic wars in the future. I know that the Charter as it stands is an imperfect instrument, and that certain features of it are undemocratic. It can be said that too much power is vested in the five Great Powers. It can be said that they are the executive and are not finally subject to the democratic decision of the General Assembly. But the justification for vesting power in the five Great Powers, with the right of any one of them to veto decisions, is that the affairs of mankind would in any case he largely dominated by those powers. The Charter which embraces the Latin American countries and all of the Dominions in their self-governing capacity as well as many European countries - and I hope that those countries not yet members of the organization will join it - offers greater hope for world peace than would otherwise be the case.
I notice that since the atomic bomb has been used, a belief has arisen, unfortunately, among many people that because of the dreadfulness of that weapon war is not likely ever to occur again. It would be futile to pursue that line of thought. History shows that whenever some dreadful new weapon was discovered people said, “ This means the end of war. This weapon is so devastating, and will so imperil the whole civil community, that never again will any nation be willing to unleash the dogs of war “. But as fast as such weapons were discovered, counters were evolved, and I have no doubt that a counter will be discovered for the atomic bomb, thereby allowing nations to go to war in the future, regardless of the disastrous consequences. Because of that, it is important that the parliaments of the United Nations should endorse the Charter and make it fully effective. The Charter creates the machine; but in order to operate effectively, the machine will require oiling, and proper use. If the machine is incorrectly used, or is not oiled regularly it will prove ineffective, and will not fulfil the functions for which it has been devised.
The social and economic section of the Charter is most important. It is true, as the honorable member for Indi and other speakers have pointed out. that the aims of the Economic and Social Council are only pious hopes and aspirations; but at least, the pledge of 50 nations, which will eventually be endorsed by their parliaments, to strive for full employment will have a psychological influence upon the peoples concerned, and bring to their notice the necessity for striving to give effect to that policy. From the commencement of the Christian era, we have aspired towards perfection. We have not achieved perfection; but, at least, in aspiring to that objective, we have evolved a better society than otherwise would have been possible.
It is not my purpose to explain at length all the provisions of the Charter, and the associated machinery. I give this legislation my blessing, and hope that the parliaments of the 50 nations will endorse the Charter. The annual meetings of the 50 signatories will create a better spirit and understanding among the nations which subscribe to it. At the San Francisco Conference, I was impressed by the friendly spirit and sincere desire of all the representatives to create some instrument which, in the future, would preserve their peoples from war. Under the provisions of the Charter we are called upon to provide forces, when required by the Security Council, for the purpose of putting down aggression or threatened aggression. But we are at liberty to build up forces greater than those required by the Security Council, and every other nation which has subscribed to the Charter has a similar right. In that fact can lie safety, but at the same time, great danger. However, within the ambit of the Charter, the organization has power to deal with the problem of armament and disarmament, and therein rests the greatest hope for the future peace of the world. I trust that the 50 nations will endorse this Charter, that eventually every nation will become a member of the organization, that the imperfections of the Charter will be removed, and that we shall enter upon a new era of peace.
Mr. anthony (Richmond) [4.20].- A few days ago, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) proceeded alone to London. Honorable members can understand perfectly why he was not accompanied by another Minister. At all times, he prefers to play a lone hand. The speech of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) was a confession of ineptitude. If I had been selected as tin adviser, and, on my return, had admitted the utter failure of my mission, as the honorable member did, I would be ashamed to hold up my head. While attempting to defend the Minister for External Affairs, the honorable member confessed that he had not been consulted at the San Francisco Conference. He agreed also that no member of the delegation had been consulted by the Ministor. ‘Consequently, the only result of the honorable member’s trip abroad is his expense account, which the Commonwealth must pay. His mission produced no return, either in what he reported to this House, or in the counsels that he, as a representative of this Parliament, was expected to give to the leaders of the Australian delegation. As a member of this chamber, I view with some humiliation the fact that an honorable member, who was selected as an adviser to the delegation, should have been so inept in discussing and advising upon international affairs. The honorable member for Ballarat is to be pitied for having been obliged first to submit to such humiliation, and then defend it. The House is indebted to the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) for having exposed what occurred within the Australian delegation at San Francisco. I sincerely hope that at the Peace Conference, the mistakes which were made in San Francisco, and the failure to recognize the Australian representatives drawn from the Opposition parties in this Parliament, will not be repeated. The honorable member for Indi made some extremely serious statements about the conduct of the delegation, but they come as no surprise to me. The Minister for External Affairs, in the discharge of bis duties as a representative of Australia, on more than one occasion did rauch to divide Australia and the remainder of the British Empire.
– That is not true.
– It is true. His attitude at San Francisco towards the delegates of the United Kingdom was consistent with his attitude towards Great
Britain during the war. I have a book entitled From Suez to Singapore, written in 1942 by an American war correspondent, Cecil Brown-
– The book was censored for a time.
– I believe that it is still censored in Australia. The reader can readily understand why the Minister for External Affairs would desire to censor it. The author, who spent some time in Australia examining the war situation, wrote - 1 think the most unpopular man here U Dr. Evatt. As Minister for External Affairs, he takes an imperious attitude-
– I rise to order. I submit that this war correspondent’s opinion of the Minister for External Affairs is not related to the matter now under discussion.
– I assume that the matter which the honorable member for Richmond proposes to read to the House has some bearing upon the Minister for External Affairs, who was a member of the Australian delegation to the San Francisco conference. The Chair will consider the passages as the honorable member reads them, and if they have no relation to the matter now under discussion I shall ask the honorable member to desist.
– The passages which I shall read relate to the attitude of the Minister for External Affairs on foreign affairs generally, and in particular on the relations of this country with the British Empire. The correspondent continues -
As Minister for External Affairs, he takes an imperious attitude, perhaps unconsciously, with all foreign legations. Dr. Evatt wants to know about everything and is often peremptory with the civil servants of the Government; but with all that he is a man of great energy and ambition.
On the train from Canberra to Melbourne Dr. Evatt and John Beasley, Minister for Supply, asked me to sit with them. It seemed strange that they should question me on vital strategy. Their remarks convinced me that they were completely baffled about the whole world set-up. Dr. Evatt particularly showed an animus towards the English. No matter what T said he interspersed his remarks with That is just the way the English do things “.
The Minister’s attitude at the San Francisco conference was consistent with the anti-British sentiment to which he has given expression throughout the years. From time to time, he has made pronouncements which have served the interests only of those who are against the United Kingdom, and which have been to the detriment, of the real interests of this country. What good purpose can be served by winning the friendship of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Equador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Liberia, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Uraguay and Venezuela, if in doing so we lose the friendship of Great Britain? Yet that is what Dr. Evatt has striven for, and he has been rewarded by the “ vivas “ of the South Americans. I am not speaking with intent to disparage Latin America, but in defence of our affiliation with Great Britain, which is imperilled by the self-seeking publicity of Dr. Evatt and tho popularization of his name in the South American countries. He certainly achieved great publicity for Dr. Evatt - but he has done a great deal of damage to the good name of Australia with the people who count most - the people of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I deal with this matter only because of the vicious attack made by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) upon the honorable member for Indi (Mr, McEwen), who had the courage to expose in this Parliament - the proper authority to which his report should he made - the true state of affairs at San Francisco. We cannot separate Australia’s representation at the conference from what was said and done by the Minister for External Affairs, because he spoke for Australia, and everything he said or did committed this country. Whilst the conference was in progress, newspapers would report one day a clash between the Australian Minister for External Affairs and the Russian delegates; next day it would be a clash with the United Kingdom representatives, or with the representatives of the United States of America. At various stages of the conference he was against every one of our real friends, and every speech he made was cheered to the echo by people such as the Argentinians, who came to war on the day the last shot was fired, and who. I am reminded, still maintain a Fascist State. In regard to the final outcome of the conference, I should like to know whether or not it is true - from information that I have received from people who attended the conference, I have every reason to believe that it is true - that on the last day of the meeting, or shortly after the conference ended, the Australian Minister for External Affairs called a secret meeting of British correspondents, and at that meeting made a personal attack upon members of the British delegation, including Viscount Halifax and Sir Alexander Cadogan. I should like to know also - i shall give the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) an opportunity to deny it categorically in this House if he is game - whether it is a fact that the British representatives made a formal protest to him against the activities of the Minister for External Affairs. I have every reason to believe that protest was made; yet now, that very Minister, with his long record of anti-British utterances, has gone again to the United Kingdom to represent this country at the peace talks. It is time this Parliament expressed clearly its opinion of the right honorable gentleman. We should not be deterred by the fact that he is not here in person as he should be. Let those who know the facts defend him. I have no doubt that the Minister shrewdly anticipated what was in store for him.
The Charter is an attempt to set up an organization to supplant the League of Nations. Tracing the history of attempts at a world peace organization, we recall The Hague Convention when a world court was set up to deal with international disputes. That authority was succeeded by the League of Nations, and the various organizations established under it. Unfortunately, the League failed for a number of reasons, the principal one being that the United States of America was not a member of the organization. For years we have tried to devise some means by which mankind can avoid war, but despite everything that has been done at San Francisco - and I acknowledge the sincerity of the efforts made by all who participated in the conference to bring about a new world order of peace - we have not yet achieved anything substantially better than waa achieved by the League of Nations. It is true that we now have a Security Council which can use an international force if dispute? occur. But, on analysing the Charter, we find that any one of the Big Five - Russia, the United States of America, Great Britain, China and France - can prevent the machinery from working. Furthermore, any one of those great nations might possibly be the instigator of the next world war. In this connexion I endorse the remarks of Mr. Stettinius, Secretary of State for the United States of America - f have no doubt that the final Charter prepared here will offer great hope of lasting peace, but I cannot speak so surely when I try to answer the question, “Will.it work? Will it keep the peace?”, for that depends upon the will to peace with which the nations of the world support the Charter and build strength into the world organization. We cun do no more at San Francisco than to establish the constitutional basis upon which the world can live without war, if it will. h Ls evident that the Charter will be unanimously adopted in this House. There is no alternative to it. I have no doubt that every one of the subscribing nations will pass, in its legislative halls, the necessary laws to give effect to the Charter. However, if we are to safeguard the security of Australia until the Charter is proved to work effectively, we must still subscribe to the system by which our security is protected to-day, and that is by our adherence, first, to our membership of the British. Commonwealth of Nations, and, secondly, to our friendship with the United States of America. We can discard and discount practically all of the other signatories to the Charter as long as we maintain these connexions on a friendly basis. Nevertheless, I do not suggest for a moment that we should discard or discount any other signatory to the Charter.
It is essential, if the peace of the world is to be preserved, to have a new spirit amongst the nations regarding the settlement of disputes. I believe that the Charter will at least publicize the outlawing of war and establish in the minds of the people of every nation, in the course of time, the necessity for settling disputes by means other than the force of arms. The greatest instruments for the preservation of peace to which the world can look with hope are the scientific discoveries which the last few days of the waT disclosed to us. I refer in particular to the atomic bomb, which will now fill the minds of men in all countries with such ‘horror, and fear of war that no dictator - and wars are usually commenced by dictators - will be courageous enough to expose himself and his people to retaliation with such a terrible weapon. Whilst I join with those who regret the invention of such a terrible instrument of destruction. I nevertheless believe that the fear which it inspires will cause the peoples of the world to endeavour to solve their disputes in a peaceful way rather than expose themselves to the risk of annihilation which would arise from any aggressive course of action.
.- It seems to be somewhat of an anomaly, after hearing the last three speeches, that at San Francisco the representatives of 50 nations determined, among other things, “ to practice tolerance and to live together in peace with one another as good neighbours”. That lesson should start at home. In one particular, which may have no real significance, the Charter of the United Nations differs from all other covenants and treaties that have been concluded between nations. I refer to the introductory passage of the Charter, which begins humbly with the words, “We, the people of the United Nations . . “, instead of with the usual highsounding phrase, “ The high contracting parties …” This does not mean that any attempt is being made, by means of the agreement between the nations, to undermine any governments by a direct appeal to the peoples of the nations with regard to international affairs. However, it may well hold out the hope that, when the Charter is ratified by the various governments, it will represent the expressed wishes of the peoples of the contracting countries. The document itself is very long and rather complicated. Unfortunately its meaning has not yet been made clear to the man in the street. Much of the clarifying publicity that a conference of such importance as the San Francisco conference would certainly have been accorded in normal times was overshadowed by the more topical events of the surrender of Japan and the startling use of the atomic bomb. As a result, the opportunity for the average man or woman to gain a full understanding of what has been achieved at San Francisco has, to a great degree, been lost. As is usually the case in times such as the present, a great deal of the publicity was somewhat confusing. That was because, for some reason or other, points of dissension have a far greater news value than points of agreement. Therefore, such issues as the “ Battle of the Veto whilst achieving very little in themselves, received a “ good press “ and diverted our minds for a time from the main issues.
One objective of the debate in this House should be to clarify the meaning of the Charter for the people of Australia. This is important, because it is certain that the Commonwealth Parliament will give its consent unanimously to the ratification of the Charter by the Government. In clarifying the issue, we should dispel certain fears that have arisen in the minds of a few people. One of those has been brought home to me by letters that I have received from members of the public. It is the fear that the Australian Government will renounce its right of self-government to a new form of world government which will take away our sovereignty. There are other people, generally termed idealists, who advocate a world government as the only salvation for the world, -and are far from satisfied with this Charter because in no sense does it interfere with the sovereign rights of any nation. If we make even a slight study of the Charter, and seek for the good that is in it, we must come to the conclusion that it is definitely a practical attempt to achieve an international organization that can not only release the world from the fear of the scourge of war, but also contribute progressively to better understanding and co-operation, for the benefit of the peoples of all nations, great and small.
Three major fields are covered by this Charter of the United Nations - security, welfare and justice. Security is, of course, uppermost in the minds of all the peoples of the world at the present time. We all are looking forward to the time when we shall be able to feel secure against the fear of mar We have just closed a period of six years of war, which has reduced the nations of the world to the point of exhaustion, with poverty-stricken and homeless people in countless thousands. It is to be expected that the people will be willing, at the present time at all events, to co-operate for the prevention of another such orgy of destruction and death. The application of science to weapons of destruction, culminating in the use of the atomic bomb, one of which wiped out so many thousands of people, conjures up terrible thoughts of what might happen in another war. If we cannot bring reason to bear, the future of mankind will not be bright. This Charter is very practical, in that it makes provision for .a Security Council, vested with the power and the means to take military action, if necessary, to prevent war. The formation of the Security Council is based on stark realism. It consists of eleven members, five of whom are permanent and six nonpermanent. The permanent members are the big nations of the world - Great Britain, the United States of America, Russia, China and France. Those nations have the power to veto action for the adoption of warlike measures against any other nation. It is obvious that they will have the responsibility and duty of policing the world and preventing war, and, so long as they continue to work in unity, the peace of the world may .be maintained. The smaller nations, of course, will have obligations, and will be expected to enter into agreements to carry their share of both the physical supply of men and resources and the financial responsibility of maintaining the world organization and the police force. More important still, they will be expected to give their whole-hearted moral support to the spirit of this Charter. That is where the second field - welfare - will become effective.
The Economic and Social Council provided for in Article 6.1, and composed of eighteen members, is empowered under clause 1 of Article 62 to initiate studies, it and to make reports and recommenda tions either to the General Assembly or to tho member nations individually, with respect to international, economic, social, cultural, educational, health and related matters. .Under clause 2 of the same article, they may make recommendations for the purpose of creating respect for the observance of human rights, and for fundamental freedoms for all. This section of the Charter aims at purely moral power. In addition to acting as a clearing house for the pooling and dissemination of available knowledge, designed to improve the welfare of mankind, it is the antithesis of the old idea of the exploitation of the weaker nations by the strong. To my mind, it opens a door which should lead to such a better understanding between the nations as may usher in a period of lasting trust and goodwill, based on security and improving standards of living.
The Trusteeship Council provided for in Article S6 can be broadly stated to have the same moral objectives as the Economic and Security Council, but it will be concerned with safeguarding the welfare and improving the conditions of living of the people in the mandated territories and non-self-governing territories.
The field of justice is covered by the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and aims at setting up means whereby nations can refer questions of international law or disputes to a court for judgment, instead of resorting to the use of arms.
That, very briefly, is my interpretation of the intentions and spirit of this Charter of the United Nations. I desire to record my thanks to the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde), his colleague the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), and the other members of the Australian delegation, for the work that they performed at the conference at San Francisco. I trust that the Charter will be speedily ratified by this Parliament and the remainder of the 50 signatory nations.
Mr. ryan (Flinders) [4.54].- The
Charter before the House is an instrument that we have either to take or to leave. There can be no question of making any amendments to an instrument which already has been signed by 50 nations. Indeed, I believe that the opinion of every member of this House, and of the whole country, is completely in favour of accepting the Charter as it stands. But that is not to say that it could not be improved in very many ways. In the present state of the world, and having regard to the views that are held by the different nations, however, it is the only practicable road along which all countries can travel towards the future peace for which they hope. I, too, express appreciation of the work of the Australian delegation at San Francisco.
The Charter which emerged from the deliberations of that conference is a great improvement on the draft drawn up originally at Dumbarton Oaks. Although the improvements effected to it by the Australian delegation are legalistic in character, they add appreciably to the value of the original document. As the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) has pointed out, some people are worried as to exactly what the Charter entails whilst others believe that it does not go far enough. I have received letters expressing the fear that the sovereignty of this country may be infringed in some way if we are to be dictated to by an outside body. To those who hold that view, I say quite definitely that there is nothing in the Charter which will infringe Australia’s sovereignty in any way. The Attorney-General reported that at San Francisco there was a discussion, which lasted for some time, as to how far the rights of the Assembly or the Security Council went towards intervention in the domestic affairs of a country. All doubts have been allayed by clause 7 of article 2, which lays down quite explicitly that nothing in the Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state. The only qualification is in Chapter VII., which provides that the Security Council may intervene, if necessary, in order to avoid a breach of the peace or to put an end to a war that is taking place. To those who claim that the Charter does not go far enough, I would say that, in the present state of the world’s conscience, no nation is ready to accept interference with its internal jurisdiction and powers. Take, for example, the White Australia policy. I cannot conceive of any person in Australia agreeing to an external body, however it may be composed, laying it down that our population shall be increased by migrants from this or that country. Could anybody conceive of Russia, at the present stage of its development and at the height of power to which it has attained during this war, accepting orders from a super-body composed of some of the larger nations and many of the smaller nations? The same thing applies also to the United States of America.
It is quite evident that the indispensable condition to the cessation of violence between nations is that which applies to individuals in any nation. That involves the abandonment of a portion of sovereignty, be it large or small, to some superior authority. If the world is to progress, there must be a world system of government, comprehensive enough to include all those among whom violence may occur, and strong enough to control violence. In the last resort, this will involve the possibility of the use of force, in order to enforce law and order. Ultimately, as I view the matter, such a world order must entail either some form of world federation, or at least a federation of countries which, collectively, are strong enough to enforce order on the rest of the world That is looking far into the future, but it is a goal to which the human race must attain if we are to live in an atmosphere of peace and security, which should be assured to all nations and peoples. Yet I point out that every treaty entered into voluntarily by one nation with another entails some restriction of that nation’s sovereignty. That being one of the indispensable conditions in the making of treaties, there must be nothing except the refusal of the countries concerned to enter into such agreements, which would prevent a general system of treaties as between nations from leading to some federal system, or at least to some approach being made towards a federal system which would ensure that the final transition to it would he practicable and comparatively easy.
When one looks at this Charter, one naturally compares it with previous efforts of a similar kind. I refer not only to the Covenant of the League of Nations, but also to attempts during the last four or five centuries by men of great imagination to evolve methods of establishing collective security. All past attempts have failed for two reasons, first, because of a lack of spirit among those who entered into the agreements, or, secondly, because of the great ambition.: of one or other of the countries concerned. Was the Covenant of the League of Nations really a failure? We cannot judge the aims which the League set out to achieve from its actual results, yet in many respects it achieved a great deal. It laid the foundation of international world order in respect of economic problems. It established the International Labour Office, and it did much in the field of world health. On the political side, we recall among its achievements its action in the dispute over Corfu and in the settlement of the war between Bolivia and Peru. But its main object was to bring about peace in the world, and we must admit that it failed in its major task. Why did it fail ? There was no defect in the actual terms of tho Covenant. The comment at the time seemed to suggest that Great Britain and other leading members of the League were keenly anxious to use the Covenant against aggressors, but were prevented from doing so by obstruction on the part of certain other powers with less responsibility or by a clause of the Covenant which would prevent the leading powers from acting: but I believe that nothing is further from the truth than that. The League failed for two reasons: first, there was not sufficient power in the hands of the members of the League ; and secondly, they lacked the -will to enforce even the powers which they ‘ had. Apart from the powers and the will of the members of the League, there were other defects, as was proved when the League went into action. It had two great rivals. One was the Comintern, which set out with the objective of an international socialist state to be brought about by world revolution. After the last war a great deal of propaganda was indulged in with a view to creating such ;i revolution. The second rival of the League was the old conception in the minds of the nations with regard to absolute national sovereignty, which was asserted in its most uncompromising form by fascist countries.
In his remarks on the Charter, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) pointed to five defects which he believed ibn League possessed. I shall deal with only two of them. He said that one of i he causes of the League’s failure was the absence from it of some of the great powers. That, of course, is true. During ibo history of the League, certain great powers ran out of it like rabbits leaving a burrow. From the beginning we had to submit to the absence from the League of the United States of America, and this fundamentally changed the ability of the League to enforce its policy. It not only lacked the military power, potential and actual, which the United States of America could have provided, but also the States composing the League were fearful of adopting a policy which would offend, economically or politically, the United States itself. The second criticism was that the League was merely a device for maintaining the status quo. That prevented many people from believing that it was an instrument for securing world peace. They thought that it was only a device of the powers which were victorious after the last war to keep the gains which they had made as the result of that war. I direct the attention of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) to the fact that the attitude of the various countries of the world to the League of Nations was not altruistic, but was governed by consideration of their own requirements. The United Kingdom regarded the League as a device for maintaining the balance of power which had been a traditional policy of Britain for centuries. The League was regarded by Britain as ;i help towards maintaining that balance “f power and also preventing the outbreak of war between other countries. All that Britain and the rest of the Empire wa,« concerned with was the maintenance of peace in the world, so that the trade of the Empire could continue to thrive.
Then there was the attitude of France and the other small countries of Europe. These regarded the League principally as a means of maintaining the status quo. The South American countries were the least interested in participation in the affairs of the League. They joined merely because they thought it was the right thing to do in those days, and they secured representation at Geneva out of all proportion to their strength and importance in the world. Their representatives were the ambassadors of those countries in London, Paris, Berlin and other cities, and they assumed the political colours of the countries to which they were accredited. Therefore the League gained no strength and, indeed, had a few difficulties thrust upon it merely by the representation of those South American republics.
What was Australia’s attitude to the League ? We, like the rest of the Empire, believe .wholeheartedly in the principle of collective security. One of our obligations was that, in the event of aggression, all States should provide forces to act against the aggressor, but we had practically no defence forces. Therefore it was obviously impossible for any State with a high moral sense to assume obligations which it would have no power to fulfil if called upon to do so. Australia could have been called upon by the League to send forces to Europe or elsewhere at a time when it had no troops, practically no air force and a very small navy. Therefore, it could provide no force as its contribution towards securing the peace.
A comparison shows that the present Charter is in several respects a definite improvement on the Covenant of the League. It is at present, and probably always will be, completely divorced from peace treaties. That should make for the peace of mind of all member States, because they will not be involved either in maintaining the status quo or in the results of peace treaties, but they will be called upon to maintain the peace of the world. Each nation which accepts the Charter will, by agreement subsequently entered into, have the obligation to keep forces at the disposal of the United Nations and the Security Council, and available for action wherever required. The third and even more important feature of the Charter is the establishment of a permanent executive in the Security Council, which will be constantly in session and watching world events. This Council will be able to take action at a time when action can most appropriately be taken. Those are the three features which make the Charter an appreciable improvement on the Covenant of the League.
Those who drew up the original proposals were, perhaps, a little too optimistic, and desired to run before they could walk. In setting up a new world organization to secure peace, it would be better to form a strong small nucleus consisting of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the United States of America, Russia and perhaps a few other countries, including France, to establish a closely knit organization and to gather in, as time goes on, all other countries whose people have feelings similar to our own with regard to world security, and are prepared to co-operate in enforcing measures to ensure that security. That has not been done. All human things, good and bad, start from small beginnings and gradually grow into something really significant. If we start with an organization already of full size it cannot grow any larger, and the tendency may be for it to wither and die.
I referred earlier to certain rivals of the League of Nations - the Comintern, and the conception of absolute national sovereignty. Conditions have changed since then, but it is still necessary to consider those world factors which may affect the success of the Charter. The three main countries concerned in the Charter are the British Empire, the United States of America, and Russia. Britain itself, like the Empire as a whole, is solidly in favour of the Charter, and is anxious that it should succeed. The United States of America i3 in a different category. I believe that the United States of America will stand by the Charter, but the fact remains that the United States of America is capable of standing on its own feet. Security for that nation is not the same vital necessity as for a small island like
Great Britain. We come now to Russia, which during the war developed a new policy. Previously, its policy had been international; that is to say, Russia believed in world revolution and international socialism. But a new spirit has grown up in Russia, a national spirit rather than an international one. Of all countries in the world, Russia, is to-day the most realistic and least idealistic. Its policy is to gain paramount influence throughout the greater part of Europe, including Germany. So far as Germany is concerned, Russia has two cards to play. It has the German Officers Union, which was established in Russia, and it has also considerable influence over certain groups throughout Germany itself. As for the European nations in general, Russia relies upon the influence of its own Commist doctrines of State capitalism under socialist managerial control. I do not say that such a doctrine is wrong from Russia’s point of view. It may be, a very good one, but the fact remains that this policy is now being applied without exception to all those European coun-tries which have come under Russia’s influence. Russia’s policy is to prevent the emergence of any bloc antagonistic to itself. ‘ It is anxious to set up in neighbouring countries governments friendly to itself, governments more or less under its own influence. The fundamental aim of Russian leaders is not imperialism, but national security. With this object in view, the Baltic countries have been brought within the Russian Soviet system, while in the other eastern European countries Russia has established governments friendly to itself and, where possible, Communist governments. Before the ‘war, the Western Powers drew around Russia what was known as the Cordon Sanitaire, which was designed to prevent Russian influence from exuding westward. Now, Russia is establishing a somewhat similar barrier, but its purpose is to prevent western influence from spreading eastward, and this has been done in the interest of Russian national security. That, is not to say that Russia does not desire peace. Of all countries, Russia probably needs peace most. Its towns and cities were destroyed throughout a large part of the country, its factories wore ruined, and it lost heavily in man-power. It is not true that Russia is not in favour of the Charter. But the fact remains that Russia’s main line of defence is not the Charter, but Russia itself. In that regard, the attitude of Russia towards the Charter Ls different from our own.
France is another of the great powers which have guaranteed the Charter. The position in France is one of extreme difficulty and great uncertainty. Be Gaulle is balanced very precariously between the right; and the left, and of the two the leftis the stronger. The revolutionary leaders of France’ are not sure of themselves. They do not know what to do because of the great misery of the people. France is weary, and wants peace, hut there can be no doubt that there has been a great swing to the left in that country. This has been brought about in large measure by the dishonest actions of the French Communists, who have manipulated the ballots so as to create a political picture entirely different from what would have emerged had the elections been conducted under proper conditions. The result is that France may well come into the Russian sphere of influence, thus upsetting the balance of power in Europe. This must have the effect of weakening the Charter. The more European nations that are brought under Russian influence the fewer there will be which will look to the Charter as their principal means of security.
France is not the only country in Europe which is coming under Communist influence. Czechoslovakia is another. Previously, we regarded Czechoslovakia as one of the best examples of European democracy, but this is what is happening in that country to-day : About a month ago, one of the Chechoslovakian Ministers said -
The western world ib in decline. Western science, art. culture and civilization are decadent. They are not at all creative, and they perpetuate their existence by hot-house methods . . . the international political attitude of Czechoslovakia must be clearly dunned and must cease to be one of balancing. If we fluctuate, we shall lose the game. It is time for us to cease saying that we are neither for the west nor for the east . . . there can lx> no doubt as to where Czechoslovakia belongs . . .
The Minister for Information in the Czechoslovakian Parliament made this statement -
Whoever i3 against the Communists is a German agent and an enemy of the Republic . . former political parties, particularly the Agrarians and the National Democrats, which our Government has forbidden, will never revive . . . the film industry, the press and publishing businesses and the radio have been placed under State control.
Those statements clearly indicate that Czechoslovakia is swinging into the Russian orbit, and away from, those powers upon whose support the Charter depends.
The foundation upon which the Charter rests is not a sure one, yet for all that the Charter is our last hope. If the Charter is to succeed, the first essential is that the nations concerned shall honour the obligations into which they have entered. Even more than this i3 necessary. The world organization mast become the operative centre of all international affairs. Instead of international business being conducted in the chancellories of London, Moscow, Berlin, Washington, &cl, an effort must be made to make the United Nations centre an international capital for dealing with international affairs. The various nations must learn to go there for advice. Governments must feel it a privilege to belong to the society of United Nations, and must give it their wholehearted support. Moreover, the various governments must be represented by senior ministers who are able to 3peak authoritatively for their respective governments.
The Economic and Social Council should be developed until it becomes one of the most important organs of the United Nations. We must not forget, however, that a world organization in itself, by whatever instrument it is brought into existence, will not bring harmony. That can be found only in the spirit of the nations themselves. Above all, let all those of the British race work together in support of the Charter. Let us speak, not in disunited voices, but as one people. If we are to have any voice that matters in the conduct of international affairs it can be done only through the Empire. If Britain, weakened by the war, is to stand on equal terms with Russia and the United States of America it can be done only by tie whole Empire speaking with one voice. It will be in the interests of Australia, as well as of Britain, for all parts of the Empire to stand behind tho homeland. Any happening in this country which would weaken our relations with Britain - I recall some recent incidents of this kind - would be a distinct loss of strength both to ourselves and to the Empire as a whole. We should do our utmost to strengthen the British Commonwealth of Nations, as by so doing wo shall strengthen the United Nations associated with this Charter.
Mr. holt (Fawkner) [5.31].- At this stage I do not propose to attempt to examine in detail the provisions of the Charter. That has been done admirably by other speakers on both sides of the House. It is clear that in this Parliament, as in other parliaments to which the Charter has been submitted for ratification, there is unanimity as to the wisdom and necessity for supporting this new world organization. With the experience of the last 25 years in mind, we are not so optimistic as to believe that the Charter necessarily means the end of international disputes resulting in war, but every freedom-loving individual in the world certainly hopes that that will be the consequence of its acceptance. If we can strengthen the organization by giving to it our support, that assistance should be given freely. From the discussions in this chamber it is clear that it is the unanimous wish of the Parliament that Australia as a nation should endorse the (barter, but there are a few points which I think are worthy of discussion and therefore I shall refer to them now. Tho Charter itself is overshadowed by the realities of the world political situation to-day. Dominating the whole structure of the Charter are the power and authority of what I describe as “the great trinity “. It is true that five Great Powers will form the .Security Council, but it would be only a recognition of the reality of tho world situation to-day to stress the fact that on the strength and authority of three of them - the United States of America, Great Britain and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - the success of the organization will largely depend. Nevertheless, the smaller nations can contribute to the peace of the world by the fellowship and understanding which they are able to bring to the problems of one another because, as we have seen in the past, the peace of the world as a whole has become disturbed, not always because of something which has happened between the Great Powers, but frequently because friction has developed between small powers. Therefore, regular conferences, at which people from all parts of the world and representing a variety of interests, geographical, national and political can meet to exchange views, may do much to develop that understanding which is so important a factor in world peace. That there is need for that understanding is admitted by all of us. We know all too little of our sister dominions and other members of the British Empire, and that we know very little indeed of what goes on in countries outside the British Empire is obvious to all of us. Another factor which I believe makes this understanding so necessary .is the ideological differences which are apparent in world structure to-day and will remain for many year’s to come. Far from the world showing rapid, trends away from totalitarianism to a state of democracy, it is my belief- that the destruction and dislocation which the war has brought in its train will make inevitable, even in countries which were displaying democratic tendencies before the war, a continuation of totalitarian government for a considerable time. In this connexion I instance such countries as France, Belgium and Italy, in which there has been widespread destruction and serious food shortages. As we know from our own experience during the war, it is difficult to deal with these problems by ordinary democratic processes. There must be some sacrifice of personal liberty in order that the most prompt and effective action may be taken to cure the ills which have afflicted the world. I believe that in those countries which followed democratic practices before the war. and have come through the war relatively unscathed, there is an even greater obligation than before to educate other nations, which have not been, so fortunate, in the ways of democratic government. I believe fervently that democracy does represent a progression from totalitarianism to a better state of society. I am convinced that as people become better educated to the virtues of democratic government, and as the totalitarian controls over their activities are removed, there will be a progressive movement towards a democratic way of life. Even in Russia, where for centuries the people have been accustomed to a dictatorship, either under a Czarist regime or under communism, there was clear evidence before the war that conditions internally were making possible a movement towards a more democratic form of rule, and as the Russian people enjoy the benefits of peace-time production and learn more of the democratic way of life, that movement will be accelerated. But that only makes it more necessary that we shall take from each other the best that the other has, in order to make not only a better world for all but also a better country for ourselves to live in.
I pass to the consideration of two tremendous developments which have occurred since the Charter discussions took place, and which I think have a vital bearing on it. The first in point of time was the development of the atomic bomb. That immediately suggested to thinking people that the sanctions proposed under the Charter arrangement might have to be examined again in the light of this great development. It is difficult for the layman to know what limitations may be placed on the use of the atomic power. Even scientists cannot say that difficulties which are manifest to-day will not be overcome in the course of the next ten or twenty years. “We are told, for example, that the use of atomic power will necessarily be limited because of the scarcity of uranium, and because the research of the Allies involved a tremendous engineering effort and a cost of about £500,000,000. The fact that a thing is difficult to-day, or that certain materials are scarce, or that engineering processes are costly, does not necessarily mean that within ten or twenty years other materials will not be discovered, or that engineering practice will not be simplified. And so we find that whereas in the past the peace and security of the world could be guaranteed by the major powers, to-day a small nation, as the result of its own ingenuity, may be able to cause destruction out of all proportion to its size and population. Therefore, we shall follow with interest the discussions which will take plan regarding this great development. All this has a direct bearing on Australia, because we are asked to supply certain forces in order to maintain world peace. That immediately suggests the question whether we shall be expected to maintain in Australia forces sufficient, not merely to meet these international requirements, but also to guarantee our own security without that aid which we might expect from this new world organization. I shall not develop that phase now, but it is one which comes to my mind.
The second great development, not a happy development, was the announcement from Washington of the cancellation of lend-lease. It has been stressed by different speakers in” this debate that the Charter is concerned not merely with maintaining security and peace, but also, and vitally, with the maintenance of the economic welfare of the peoples that have gone into the organization. In that connexion, I was dismayed to learn of the action taken by the United States of America in announcing so abruptly the termination of lend-lease arrangements, because, as was pointed out so often during the war, the system of exchanging goods between States, which had done so much in putting forth the maximum war effort of those countries, could, it was felt, be equally well applied in peace in order to maintain the highest standards of living for the peoples of the world. Therefore, the sudden ‘announcement of the termination apparently without any proper consultation between the governments with all the economic hardship and internal dislocation that were inevitably going to occur in the different countries so affected came as a great shock, I think, to the whole world. It would be useful to put on record some of the views expressed by authoritative representatives of the United States of America during the war in order that they may be generally known and in order also that the part this country has been able to play may be recognized. It is not difficult for us to follow what was the attitude during the war of the Government of the United States of America in this matter, because no less an authority than the former Secretary of State, Mr. E. R. Stettinius, has set out in some detail in a book, which he published when he was Secretary of State, a special opinion in regard to what had been done under lend-lease. It is entitled Lend-Lease, Weapon for Victory. Prior to taking up the position of Secretary of State, he was chief of the lend-lease organization and directly responsible to the President of the United States of America. On page 323 he says -
We Americana are a hard-headed people, however, and the average American will naturally say to himself, “$12,900,000,000 is a lot of money. Have we got our money’s worth? I think that we have in more than double measure. The total impact, of LendLease on our economy has been relatively small. The dividends it- has paid have been enormous. We are, it is true, drawing heavily upon our national resources to fight this war, mostly to arm and equip our own fighting men, but also to aid our Allies. If we had not had Lend -tease, however, if Britain had gone under, Hitler had isolated Russia, Japan had completed the conquest of China, and finally we in the Western Hemisphere had stood alone against an Axis-dominated world, who cun measure the expenditure of men mid of our material wealth we would have had to make if our liberties were to survive 1 . . . “This nation is spending to-day at the rate of approximately $8,000,000,000 a month”, he said. “I am convinced that if we had not made the preparations which we made in those precious months when we were buying time, if you please, against the fateful hour of attack, the war would have to continue a year longer. It ousts us $100,000,000,000 every year to fight this war, and it will cost us an untold number of human lives, the lives of the .best men we have in the nation Even if wo have shortened this war by only six months, we have cut down our expenditure, at the present rate by $48,000,000,000, not by a meru $11,000,000,000: and in the blood of our men, in the tears of their mothers, we have saved more than can ever be estimated “.
On page 2S5 there is a significant passage that I think expresses very succinctly the spirit of lend-lease and the state of mind of the then administration. He wrote -
The fact that we have received Reverse Lend-Lease in substantial volume only from the nations of the British Commonwealth does not wean that our other Allies arc not doing their full part to help us toward victory. The contribution which each of the United Nations is pledged to make toward common victory is set forth clearly in tho Declaration of the
United Nations : “ Each Government pledges itself to employ its full resources, military or economic, against those members of the Tripartite .Pact and its adherents with which such government is at war “.
That was the pledge given. He had previously referred to the tremendous effort that Great Britain had put forward by way of reverse lend-lease. He then went on to describe what the other Allies were doing -
Our other Allies have surely lived up to this pledge as well. Russia has been fighting on her own soil for two years; China for six. Both nations have sacrificed millions of lives and suffered the occupation and devastation of many of their greatest cities and millions of acres of their .best laud. Because we have given them more Lcnd-Lea.se aid than they have given in Reverse Lend-Lease aid to us, we do not say that we have done more than they have against our common enemies. We know that they are putting into this war every bit as much of what they have as we are. It is all the same war. Who can say which of us have given most of what we had to give? We cannot measure their lives against our dollars, or their pounds or roubles against our lives. We cannot balance the cost of a ruined city against the cost nf a thousand tanks, or the courage of the underground in Europe against the courage of American boys in New Guinea and the courage of their mothers at home. It would l>e impossible, indeed a sacrilege, to attempt to balance such a ledger. All we can ask now is that all of us - we and the other United Nations - put everything we have into winning the war in the ways that circumstances and our strength moke possible. That is a combination which will balance out in victory.
I think that every one here will endorse that statement, and from discussions that I had with the officers handling lend-lease arrangements in this country, at both the procurement end and the supply end, T know that was their understanding of the spirit of lend-lease. Each country was to do the best it was capable of. Who can say that those countries did not give of their very best in goods and lives? To attempt now to balance the contribution in terms of goods against the contribution in terms of lives would, as Mr. Stettinius said, speaking with all the authority of the Secretary of State, be sacrilege. So I am somewhat mystified by some of the statements that have appeared recently from the Administration of the United States of America. But what was said by the representatives of that Administration, and what have we been told to-day, about Australia’s contribution? Speaking before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, at Washington, on the 7th March, 1944, Colonel Spencer Eddy, G.S.C., Office of the General Purchasing Agent, United States Army Forces in the Far East, had this to say about the Australian contribution when he was asked what had happened out here -
You know, Congressmen, I am a little prejudiced on that question. I think, considering their resources, their great difficulties, and the size of the country, I think they are doing an excellent job.
Mr. Eaton, one of the members of the committee, said -
I think the colonel hae made a very illuminating and constructive statement here, which will be most* helpful to us in deciding upon these extensions. The one thing I had in mind was to make the assurance doubly sure that reverse lend-lease furnished by Australia would be reckoned in terms of our money so that it would not appear, when they »ive us blankets for one-third what they cost here, that the contribution was only one-third i>f what it would be from our point of view. That exchange system, if worked out properly, would give them full credit in American money for what they do in reverse lend-lease.
Colonel Eddy explained the exchange differences, and went on to say -
Australia is providing reciprocal aid to the United States forces in a generous and courageous spirit. To-day we are getting goods nml services from Australia under reciprocal aid at the rate of $1,000,000 a day - and this from a country of only 7,000,000 people. Australia put £100,000,000, that is $323,000,000 at the present rate of exchange, in its budget for reciprocal aid for the fiscal year ending 30th June, 1944, but its constantly increasing expenditures for this purpose are running in excess of this amount. Total Australian expenditures for reciprocal aid up to December, 1943 - based on figures supplied by the Australian Treasury - were over £112*,000,000 or approximately $302,000,000. … I have used the going rate of exchange $3.23 to the fi, to estimate the reciprocal aid we have received. Actually much more has been received than could be bought with $302,000,000 in this country. For example, the wool blankets we get in Australia. - we expect to get a million blankets - cost $2.04. The same item costs $7.07 here, approximately three times as much. Many of the biggest food items cost only half as much in Australia as they do here. I won’t belabour the point, but I do want the committee to understand that we arc actually getting substantially more goods and services than Die dollar figures indicate.
Then he said -
Every once in a while somebody asks whether wc give the Australians more under lend-lease or whether they give us more reverse lend- lease, and some pretty curious answers have been given to this question at times. Roughly, I’d say that, as of 31st December, 11)43, we had given Australia under lend-lease about twice as much as they had furnished us on reverse lend-lease. But for the last few months and as of the present time, lend-lease and reverse lend-lease are about, equal. But no particular conclusion can be drawn from such a comparison, and it may even be very misleading. On the one hand, we have twenty times as many people as Australia. On the other hand, Australia has only one big customer, and we have a large number, of which Australia is by no means the largest Moreover, a comparison of figures based on conversion of currencies at the official rate of exchange,’ ignores differences in prices and in purchasing power, to which I have already referred.
Taking a little different approach to this problem, lend-lease expenditures, as Mr. Crowley has pointed out to the committee, constitute 14 per cent, of our total war expenditures, while reverse lend-lease constitutes 18 per cent, of Australia’s war expenditures. The. production facilities of the two countries, I believe, are about equally directed to producing war supplies, and pretty much the game proportion of the total national income is devoted to the war effort. What is significant is that the resources of both nations are being utilized most effectively for the prosecution of the war. It is not a question of benefiting one nation more than another, but of hitting the enemy as hard as we can. 1 never did think much of trying to figure out who was getting the best of a square deal, and I am not going to pursue this comparison any further. Obviously the Japs are getting the worst of the bargain. Who is getting the best of the bargain I don’t know, but one can’t say less than this: Australia - within the limits of its man-power and materials is doing what it reasonably can for the United States and is carrying out the job of supplying reciprocal aid in the true spirit of a courageous ally and a good friend. Indeed, I do not think one can find a better example of co-operation between two sovereign states to the mutual benefit of both than the lendlease and reverse lend-lease co-operation between the United States and Australia. It is mutual aid in the truest sense. Man-power in Australia is a lot tighter than it is in the United States. They have a larger percentage of people in uniform than we do. They have had to put man-power in new industries that didn’t exist before the war. They have a large Allied Army to supply. Indeed the man-power situation has now reached a “ robbing Peter to pay Paul “ stage. The Australian War Cabinet has just ordered one Australian department to make 20,000 men available for other industries, particularly agriculture and forestry. Many very important projects will be hit by this order, but food and timber production have to be maintained at all costs. That’s what I meant when I said the man-power situation reached the stage where, if we get more of one item, we are going to get less of another.
I do not think I overstate the case, or let my enthusiasm for the job the Australians are doing run away with me, if I say that Australia is giving this country reciprocal aid in a broad and generous spirit. The days ahead will create grave problems for them and for us whose job it is to get supplies there. It is no military secret to say that more and more troops are going to the Pacific and that this movement will be accelerated if and when Germany collapses. This will create an ever-increasing supply problem in Australia. I am confident, however, that, within- the limits of their men and materials, Australia will supply the United States forces in the Pacific with all the supplies and assistance that it cun and will not stop until the Japs lay down their guns.
Sitting suspended from 6 to S p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I quoted at length from a book by Mr. Stettinius who had been American Secretary of State and from a statement by Colonel Eddy who had been head of the American Purchasing Committee in the Far East in relation to lend-lease. I did not make those quotations in any spirit of hostility towards the United States of America. I do not think any honorable member fails to feel the greatest gratitude for the comradeship and assistance we have received throughout the most crucial period of the war from that great republic. I was explaining the matter to show the recognition on the part of America of the contribution made by its allies in respect of their obligations not only with regard to reciprocal lend-lease to America but also in the common cause of defeating the enemies of democracy, and I wished to put on record something of the contribution which Australia had proudly been able to make to that common cause. I felt that under lend-lease as it had been developed, a remarkable and noteworthy contribution had been made in not only the political but also the economic sphere towards the peace and progress of the civilized world, and I was expressing my concern at the abrupt announcement which had been made by the American Government of the termination of lend-lease. The story as I quoted it was not entirely complete, because, as Mr. Stettinius himself pointed out, it was so difficult to define in terms of pounds, roubles, or dollars, the contribution which any one country had made to the common cause. Showing how com plicated lend-lease had become in Australia, it was explained to me that if thi’ American Government sent to this country, say, 100 aeroplanes, at our request the payment in respect of thai aircraft would be a debit against our lend-lease account; but if the American Government, instead of sending to us merely 100 aircraft, sent out also the equipment, pilots and personnel necessary to put those aircraft into action in the sense that they constituted an American fighting unit, no charge whatever was made against us. Thus, on the one hand, merely because we received aircraft we incurred a financial obligation, but on the other, when we were supplied with not only the aircraft but also the equipment and personnel to fly them, and, if necessary to die, we incurred no financial obligation. That illustration should give us some conception of the difficulty of trying to work lend-lease on a financial basis. For me, and I believe for most people with whom I have discussed this matter, Mr. Stettinius summed up the position when he said that it would be sacrilege to attempt to balance such a ledger as that. Consequently 1 and many other people who watched with admiration the operations- conducted under the lend-lease programme were dismayed by the sudden termination of it announced by the United States of America. I was using this point to show just how complex will be the problem? that will confront this newly formed world organization.
Our problems are not merely problems of maintaining peace or world security in the sense that we wish to avoid war ; they are problems of equal importance, in the sense that we must maintain the highest possible living standards so that one country can assist other countries to produce and maintain stability. In the East are hundreds of millions of people who have never known the standards te which we have become accustomed in more highly civilized and economically developed countries. Surely, we shall -not regard our contribution to those peoples as a financial contribution involving merely indebtedness on the one side and a credit on the other. Surely, we are going to pool human resources whether they be of labour, industry or technique in order i hut the peoples of the world as a whole will rise to better standards in the new world that lies ahead. That, I am sure, i- the hope not merely of the peoples who have worked throughout the war for victory. It is certainly the hope of those people who have gone forth with courage to hazard their lives in order to make a better world for us in the years to come. I should like to discuss that aspect at greater length because the problem arising out of lend-lease is so complicated. Different countries have different currencies, standards and costs which, if calculated as a book entry of what one country owes to another would have to be taken into account. In Australia we have been able to keep a tighter control over prices than have the people of the United States of America. There has been in this country a lower cost charge to the United States of America for goods which if supplied from that country would have been rendered as an indebtedness against us. I merely make the comment that the whole problem, is complicated by these factors. But the spirit of lend-lease was summed up in the quotation I gave earlier from a book written by the then American Secretary . of State, Mr. Stettinius ; and I hope that its spirit will pervade our negotiations from now on. I hope that those negotiations will not be those of accountants- or bookkeepers, who will attempt some fine calculation of indebtedness between one country and another, attempting the impossible of setting against a dollar, or £1 obligation, the recompense which has been paid in the blood of men and women who. have given their lives in the common cause of liberty and democracy.
My final point deals with the emphasis placed by members of the ministerial party upon the usefulness of regional pacts. So far as Australia is concerned, I feel the greatest scepticism as to the value of the so-called regional pacts. At tho outset of my remarks, I referred to the inescapable realities of our present situation, and said that three great powers now dominated the world - the United States of America, Russia and Great Britain - and by Great Britain I mean (treat Britain associated with the dominions and colonies which go to make up that league of nations which has been unsurpassed in the unity and coherence which it has been able to display during periods of crisis. So far as Australia is concerned we have everything to gain by maintaining, and, in fact, increasing the strength of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the British Empire. We have everything to lose if any member of that Commonwealth becomes weakened by any act of ours. I do not want to cover the ground which has already been covered in language strong enough to bring home the point I desire to make with respect to Australia’s recent actions; but I believe that there has been a stridency and selfconsciousness about our recent foreign policy which, while it may have emphasized the individualism of Australia, has done nothing to strengthen Australia as an essential part of a powerful organization. If a junior partner suddenly takes it into his head to break away from a well-established and profitable concern and set out on his own account against the competition the world can bring against him, he has a 100-to-l chance that he may be able to secure a more profitable return than he would have secured if he remained with his former associates. That is a 100-to-l chance. Australia’s best proposition to-day, as it’ has always been - and this proposition is based not merely on terms of economic values or self advantage, but on higher spiritual and sentimental values - is the maintenance of our position as a member of the British Empire. Therefore,- whilst I pay tribute to the energy, industry and capacity of the Minister for External Affairs, whose work at the San Francisco conference called forth the admiration of the world, I share the fears which have been expressed to-day by honorable members on this side concerning the damage which this policy may bring to the British Empire as a whole. We can have, a strong voice in the affairs of the world. Our strength arises from the fact that we can mould the policy of one of the three Great Powers of the world just as a junior partner with the necessary intelligence, strength and vigour can mould the policy of the organization in which he is a partner. But if he steps aside and enters into the hazards and difficulties which he would never experience had he remained with the organization which has given him so much support his strength will disappear.
– How does one mould a policy if one does not express a viewpoint?
– There are many ways in which a junior partner can exercise a great degree of impact upon the policy of the organization with which he. is connected - by conferences with his colleagues, by discussions with them at their conferences - birt if he as a junior partner ignores them, if he abandons them and goes outside and expresses opposition to policies which they uphold, then instead of strengthening himself he weakens the organization as a whole. So far as Australia is concerned we can exercise an influence and authority out of all proportion to our numbers by stating clearly and emphatically our views to our colleagues within the British Empire. But we can do untold damage to the organization in which we are a partner if we are not prepared to follow those methods, but belittle in the eyes of the rest of the world the strength and authority of those with whom we are associated. For that reason I express concern regarding the policy pursued by the Minister for External Affairs when he was in San Francisco, and before then and since, insofar as it affects our relations with Great Britain.
I emphasized earlier that in this organization rest the hopes of the world for continuing peace. I hope that we shall approach this matter from a realistic point of view. A generation which in the last 25 years has gone through two world wars and one depression cannot be expected to he optimistic about any organization created on paper, or for that matter, any organization created by man for this purpose; but we realize that it is only through an organization such as this that our hopes can be realized. We, .as a Parliament and country, give it our unanimous support. We hope that we will be able to achieve all the things we have set out to do. We do not adopt a narrow, Isolationist attitude either with regard to Australia’s problems, or ideological differences between countries which are partners in this great organization. We do not maintain a spirit of intolerance against those with whom we have been fighting in recent years. Our Allies of the last war, in some instances, were our enemies in this war. Our enemies in the last war were, in some instances, our Allies in this war, and we know that it is not by any attitude of intolerance that peace can be born or maintained. In conclusion, I hope that we in Australia shall give all our support to this organization, and maintain the spirit of tolerance, the desire for understanding and the hope for continued peace which will give to it some assurance of success.
– I do not desire to direct any of my remarks at any member of the Australian delegation, regardless of the brand of politics to which he subscribes. Nor do I want it to be thought, from any mild criticisms which I may make that I accuse the delegation either individually or collectively of not doing their utmost, actuated as I am sure they were by the highest patriotic motives towards both Australia and the British Empire. But this afternoon we did witness some displays of vituperation and invective, and as the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is not present, I think, without trying to get down somewhere near the level of the gutter that I might be able to pass, in review, some fair criticism without offending any one. Perhaps the best thing that I can do at this juncture is not to offer to the chamber my personal opinion of the Minister, but to refer to honorable members an article which probably has not come to their notice. The well-known American journal Life, published an article about the Minister for External Affairs .entitled “ Evatt. Australian is Conference Hero “. That is what other people think of the Minister, but the dull wits opposite, who were not present at the conference, have offered every conceivable criticism of the man who went abroad to do the best that he could in the interests of Australia.
– That publication has trenchantly criticized Great Britain.
– Oh, I see. It is an antiBritish journal.
– I did not say that.
– But the honorable member implied it.
– Even assuming that Life is an anti-British journal, it has paid an excellent tribute to the Minister for External Affairs. The interjection of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) is an example of the “whiteanting “ tactics at which he is so experienced, if shall read the concluding paragraph of the article -
Evatt’s weak point is that of Australians in general: under-populating a rich continent, they mistrust unduly their more populous or more powerful friends. At San Francisco Evatt turned this weakness into an asset; his mistrust, whether neurotic or not, for nine crucial weeks aroused the slumbering conscience of the world. During those nine conscientious weeks the world did much good work. It owes Evatt a debt, for keeping its conscience awake.
That is the opinion of Life which, I suppose, would not hold a particular brief for the Minister for External Affairs any more than it would for the honorable member for Balaclava. However, that is the considered opinion of that journal, and is self-evident that the person in question commanded reasonable attention at the San Francisco conference.
Whilst I shall make some slight criticism of Uncio, my remarks -will not be levelled in any way at the Australian delegates, but rather at the final decisions of the conference. To me, perhaps the greatest tragedy of Uncio was that it came to any conclusions at all. If the nations of the world had widely disagreed and the delegates had returned to their countries in disagreement, the people would have panicked, because of the certainty of wars in the future, and in such panic the demand for intellectual action would have been illimitable. The ultimate effect would have been a real and material approach to the only solution of world affairs and world wars, namely, internationalism. The present. Uncio declaration ha= only a momentarily quieting effect on people, and in no way stirs them to an understanding of one another’s problems. Because of the lack of that understanding, wars in future are inevitable. Had our delegates returned with one practical suggestion of an international character, I would have felt that there was some hope for the future. But in the presence of philosophic and legal approaches, I am truly apprehensive. In fact, another war, in the light of modem scientific achievements, plus the remote effects of this war, which will be felt, throughout our generation, plus other factors, tending naturally to limit population in western civilization, are absolute guarantees that the present Great Powers may not survive the twentieth century - a period which concerns many adults living to-day.
If Uncio had failed, the inhabitants of various countries would have been stirred by the inevitability of war in the future, in a manner in which these half-baked conclusions will not stir them. To-day the people have a quiescent feeling that something is being done. They do not know how much is being done. Had Uncio failed they would have demanded that something positive should be achieved, and a delegation would then have been sent abroad with the backing of the Australian people. In addition, that delegation would not have been carried away by considerations of supernationalism. That is what the whole of Uncio reveals. For the first time in their existence, the various nations would . have attempted to solve this problem on an international basis. As soon as we deluded ourselves that there was any other solution, we were bound to fail again.
The position may be stated thus. We have had plenty of spiritual, legal and philosophic interpretations of treaties. Let me remind honorable members of a few of them. They could not carry the Ten Commandments down the hillside without breaking them. Later, mankind received the New Testament, which was the greatest treaty of all, but in the next twenty centuries we had some fine examples of the manner in which the New Testament was not observed. T have read Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, couched in the same kind of words as is this Charter. Did that prevent America from going to war? I read Patrick Henry’s speech, entitled, “ Give me Liberty or Give me Death “. Did that prevent America from going to war? T rend also Napoleon’s declaration of 1804 on the subject of a league of nations. He was asked why he conducted all hi.° wars in Europe, and he replied “ After the rise and fall of my system, equilibrium can be maintained in Europe only by the establishment of a League of Nations “. In 1918, President “Wilson went to London to create the League of Nations and after about twenty years’ experience of it, we had the tragic, unnecessary destruction of millions of souls in a hopeless and useless war. At the termination of it, we sent a delegation to San Francisco, and in conjunction with many other nations, resolved to create another League of Nations - .a form of control which has failed from the beginning of time. Why? Because our delegates did not know how far our people were prepared to back them in any enterprise of an international character. They feared the people. Had the conference failed, our people would have been stirred by the possibility of war in the future, and would then have been determined to take action to prevent it.
Some years ago, one of my friends had a political “ set” on veterinary surgeons. When his neighbour’s cow became sick, he advised- the owner to summon a veterinary surgeon. Over the telephone the neighbour described the symptoms, and the-veterinary surgeon said, “ I cannot do anything for the cow, but I shall conduct a post-mortem on it “. My political friend, denouncing the veterinary surgeon in Parliament, asked, “ What was the good of conducting a post-mortem after the cow had died?” I should like to continue that Irishism, and say that the time we should have conducted the post-mortem on Uncio was before the conference reached a decision, because the Charter, so far as we are concerned is dead,- and we have to accept it.
To say that there is no practical approach to this proposition is to admit the complete failure of western civilization. There is a practical approach, but it is closely linked with our economy. Therefore, no one has the courage to think in terms of a practical approach. If we try to discover what the average Australian is thinking, he will immediately ask, “When does the Government propose to reduce the income tax?” A similar attitude is to be found in every country. Touch the peoples’ pockets and we touch the only god that they know ! Realizing that that was the position, our delegates at San Francisco were frightened of their own people and of their own national economy. War has an economic basis. Had any delegation returned from the conference with one declaration only- that there should be an international currency - imagine the opposition that would have been raised by the business community and the press. They would have advanced a thousand reasons for the rejection of the proposal. Had the delegates advocated the adoption of an international basic wage and an international working week, or bilingualism in an attempt to understand one another the problem would have been put on a material basis.
This Charter becomes ridiculous in practice. Let us analyse it, and try to visualize it fifteen years hence in a world in which science has gone so far ahead, while society has stood still. In future, the margin between them will be even greater than it is to-day. Surely no one is foolish enough to believe that the secrets of the atomic bomb, once having been discovered, will be locked up with some international organization. If an aggressor nation decided to take Australia, it could drop six atomic bombs, or their newest equivalent, upon our capital cities at 12 noon, and by 12.15 Australia’s industrial and social activities would cease. I suppose then the Regional Committee or the Security Council of this new international organization would meet two months later to discuss the matter. That is how practical this proposal is. We have to tackle the problem on a material basis, and not a spiritual or philosophic basis. Philosophy has failed to prevent wars during the last 3,000 years, and this organization also will fail, and if it does it may mean the extinction not only of this country, but also of the entire western world. In my opinion, the problem of securing international peace is one for solution not by 50 nations, but by the three victorious Powers which should lay down a code, and then say to the rest of the world, “This, you shall follow”. I have not been carried away with wonderful words like “ democracy “ and “ the rights of small nations “. This Charter gives to aggressive nations of Europe with “ cranky “ ideas the right once again to become storm centres and breeding grounds of world conflict every 25 years.
Et would be far better if an attempt were made to secure agreements on an international currency, an international basic wage, or an international working week. Then, upon the great nations would devolve the responsibility to ensure that these agreements were adhered to.
– I suppose the farmers would want an international rainfall, too.
-If we were a reasonably intelligent people, we could do a great deal to use the rainfall of this country to much better advantage, and, speaking of water supplies, in my opinion one of the greatest scandals in Australia today is the river Murray waters scheme upon which three States, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, cannot reach agreement.
There is a tendency in’ this country to lock ourselves up behind the Empire. Much has been said by Opposition speakers about jingoism and- sentiment. I could be just as great a jingoist as any of them. I, too, could wave a flag and sing patriotic songs; but, after all, we have an obligation and duty to our country as an integral part of the Empire. If we build up this nation we shall also be building up a great arm of the British Empire. When we were fold in the Chamberlain declaration of 1931 that Great Britain’s first duty was to itself, its second duty to its own trade, and its third, fourth, or fifth duty to the dominions and colonies, we were left with no choice but to do what we could to protect ourselves. I am still loyal to the Empire and to every fibre of it. I shall do my utmost to ensure that the portion of the Empire to which I belong shall be protected and developed to the greatest possible degree. I am not prepared to argue at this juncture the various aspects of the British point of view regarding Australia; but I am prepared to say that all through the years from the last economic depression until the outbreak of war, nothing was done by the people of this country - I refer to the responsible people, and I include my honorable friends opposite - to protect it. What was their excuse? It was that they were afraid of the Labour party. Certainly they had some reason to be afraid of the Labour party a little later, when the people of this coun-try woke up to how unprepared for war this nation was. What was the position of this nation some time before the war? Even in the sacred name of the democracy for which our men fought from 1914 to 1918, we could not provide sufficient finance to stop 400,000 starving men from walking up and down this land seeking employment, chased from village to village in the best Nazi style; but we have had little trouble in providing £600,000,000 a year for the war, because the interests of those individuals whom honorable members opposite represent in this Parliament have been in danger. We have gone even so far as to draw extensively upon our national credit resources, but not a word has been said about it.
The creation, of goodwill by giving away or selling cheaply our surplus food production and other commodities, and by a general effort on the part of the wealthier nations to help weaker peoples, could build international friendships. It is far more profitable in these dangerous days to assist to improve the standards of the poorer nations than to expend money upon armed forces to protect ourselves whilst we neglect the interests of all other peoples. Internationalism can only be created by generosity in a material sense, and by using every means of disseminating knowledge to all peoples of the difficulties and disabilities of others, for in the light of such knowledge we can take human, generous, and intelligent action.
A question which often occurs to me is to what degree has the uncontrolled press of the world assisted in pitting country against country. After all, newspapers are commercial undertakings; newspapers have to be sold, and there is an incentive to publish sensational stories. I often wonder whether the press, which is an instrument of adult education, has really been used to educate people or rather to stimulate racial hatreds and prejudices. I believe that newspapers, properly controlled, could do a great deal to create international goodwill. Just as they are able to prejudice people, so they could be a great influence for good. I am disappointed to find that although we have failed bitterly so many times in the past to achieve world peace by means of treaties, leagues, confederations, and other equivalents of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, under this Charter the very things with which man fights are the things that are not to be touched. How can one look to the future with a feeling that peace will be ensured by this organization? I am driven to the old conclusion propounded first, I think, by Marlborough, “ Trust in God and keep your powder dry”. I am afraid that we must become more materialistic than ever before in our history. We cannot hide behind this proposal or anything that may arise out of it. We must strive to reach a practical understanding by means of which the nations of plenty will give their surplus commodities to their less fortunate neighbours, and so build up goodwill in a practical way. How we can expect, say, the Japanese, whose standard of living is so far below ours, to view matters as we do, I cannot understand, but I could conceive as a ‘materialistic approach to the problem an attempt by the Australian people to improve Japan’s standard of living by making available to that country at a reasonable figure, the surplus commodities of this nation, and so inculcating amongst the Japanese people a fine sentiment for this country. In the same way, any nation possessing plenty could use its surpluses to cultivate the goodwill of nations faced with scarcity. Of course, as soon as one talks like that, somebody drags out the old dog, economics, and immediately it starts to bark, with the result that every 25 years we shall have another “100,000,000 people destroyed. I wonder if any other honorable member in this chamber has ever asked himself this question : Why is it that every nation in history which has reached a high standard of development has subsequently faded completely from the picture? Since antiquity, nations have been rising to meteoric heights and then fading to obscurity, leaving ample evidence of their undoubted high level of culture and civilization. These nations have been wiped out by war and internecine strife. I believe that the longest period of success was enjoyed by the Spartans. - 600 years - but for their last battle, they could put only 4,000 men into the field. They exterminated themselves by war in precisely the same way as the Western civilization to-day is exterminating itself. Any one who has studied world population trends knows that the Western civilization cannot recover from the effects of this war. Even had there not been a war the population of every nation in Europe would have been declining by 1975. The population of the British people will have declined by 3,750,000 by 1975 according to estimates made before the war. How then can we possibly expect to recover from the devastation of this conflict which has ruined civic life and pride, as well as industries, and smashed the entire structure on which our society is built? I know this is not a problem for politicians. The politician says that his job is to keep his constituency under control and his constituents contented ; but if we are to accept responsibility for that political guidance of our country, we must know something about the factors which make up our social economical, political, and probably Christian life.
It is stated in to-day’s press that the population of this country is expected to reach its maximum by 1970, and then commence to decline. Once again history will repeat itself. If, in any event, we arc to go out of existence in the next half century, it will not matter to us whether the affairs of the world are being fashioned by the United Nations, the League of Nations, or any other organization. This problem will not be solved by studying a volume of literature containing a series of resolutions telling us how we are to proceed. It goes far deeper than that, and affects us not only in 0111 social struggle but also in the whole of our economic life as well as in our relations with other people. I know it will bc said that I have dealt with the impractical side. Therefore, I shall remind the -House of something that is highly practical. What is the United States of America but a mixture of the overflow of the peoples of all Europe, a heterogeneous mass 130,000,000 strong? Yet this overflow from all Europe has been welded into one people, and has become one of the most powerful military organizations that has ever existed. This shows that, after all, nationalism is only a superficial thing, which has been superimposed upon an individual who can be changed by circumstances. If the Soviet3 can weld 181. nationalities, speaking 178 languages, and achieve what they have achieved, surely it is time for the rest of us to try to psycho-analyse ourselves, in order to determine whether we must retain this high supern a ti on al sense! So strong has nationalism become in America, that, as was pointed out by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), that very nation has demonstrated only within the last, few weeks that, although it was in entire accord with Uncio, and although it stood for help being given to the weaker nations, yet, when it came to a question of pounds, shillings and pence, it was prepared to terminate lend-lease. In other words, it was “ having two bob each way”; on the one hand it was backing the defence of the smaller nations, and on the other hand it was imposing it3 own supernational policy for the benefit of its supernationalistic friends, that heterogenerous mas3 of people congregated within its borders, with common economic advantages. Nationalism and Christianity cannot go together. The whole of the Christian doctrine is opposed to supernationalism.
– It is also opposed to war.
– Supernationalisin begets war. As soon as a nation is stirred, it has a curious way of stirring up its people. We wave flags, sing patriotic songs, and go around the country claiming that we are a superior people, threatening that, if you tread on the tail of our coat, woe betide you. That is how wars begin. Space has now been annihilated. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) left Australia on Monday, and will arrive in London on Friday. Some of those who conceived federation between 18S9 and 1901 took ten days to get from Perth to Melbourne. In the same time as our fathers took to get from remote portions of this continent to the National Capital and back, one can travel all over the world. With the annihilation of space, there is no room for supernationalism. The whole trend must be international. The only chance that we have of saving ourselves is by espousing the cause of internationalism.
I have struggled for years trying to impress upon people the necessity for an international approach. All the old slogans are dragged out, such as, “ their standard of living is not so high as ours “ and “ their way of life is not so comfortable “. How comfortable was the way of life of some of the Australian people between 1929 and 1934? Every 25 years, we march to the blowing of bugles and the beating of drums, with the result that many of our people are destroyed. If that is to continue, woe betide the children of the future. I venture to predict that if we have another war within the next half century it will mark the end of the western world. Every one should do his utmost to develop the international aspect, whatever sacrifices have to be made, because nothing is so terrible as the slaughter of the innocents ; and it seems that it is always the innocents that are slaughtered in war. As J said at the outset of my remarks, I am not prepared to criticize the Australian delegation. I believe that it did the best that it could in the very difficult circumstances with which it was confronted when it reached the United States of America. I am not such a democrat as to believe that 50 or 60 little nations should all have a voice in world affairs. What the “ Big Three “ should now determine is, what is a good way of life for the rest of the world. They should then say : “ If you accept the way of life that we lay down for you, which we can demonstrate by years of progress is a good and progressive way, we are prepared to help you “ ; and the small nations should fall into line, -whether they like it or not. If they do not, the big nations ought to use the time-honoured method of force to compel them to do so.
– That would be war.
– If need be. Far better would it be to destroy 1,000,000 people in that way, than 100,000,000 in the mad way of the last half century. Far better would it be to coerce Norway, for example, than to have to destroy 100,000,000 people.
– It would be far easier.
– I agree. “Who would say that the Australian, the British, or the American way of life is not so good as The Norwegian, the Belgian or the Hungarian at its best? If some people were to visit those countries, they would not bc so carried away by this hypocritical, so-called democratic approach to these problems, and allow these nations to work out their own individuality, dragging in the big nations whenever their systems break down, with the result that, in the course of half a century, many millions of people are destroyed? I believe that our delegation did an honest job. I am not chiding the members of it for what lias come out of the conference. It is the best that they could do. For the reasons that I have given, I regret that they brought home anything. There has been merely a quietening, a temporizing approach to the problem, and before long our people will revert to- a lethargic state, ;is they have on every other occasion. Had the conference failed miserably, the people of Australia and all other countries would have been stirred to action, and would have given their delegates the plenary power to do the best that they could. Then, nobody would have had any regrets. “We have no alternative but to ratify the Charter. I can do no more than express my views, and then blindly and stupidly vote like everybody else, in support of something on which I am not very keen.
Mr. abbott (New England) [8.54].
The purpose of the bill before the House is to approve the Charter of the United Nations, drafted by the United Nations Conference on International Organization held at San Francisco. I listened with considerable interest to the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha), who appeared to wander through ;i wilderness. His speech traversed the ages from the time of antiquity, as described by the historian, Polybius, right down to modern time3. Having thus reviewed world history, his only suggestion for the security of the peoples of all nations is, first, to get rid of nationalism and to have internationalism. Probably he would have been more readily understood by everybody had he said that, if the people of the world were to obey the dictates of the Sermon on the Mount, delivered by . Our Lord more than 1,900 years ago, all our troubles would be solved easily and simply. But the plain fact of the matter is that we have to be practical, and realize what we are up against to-day. Any person who says that the delegations which went to San Francisco, not only from this country but also from 50 small and great nations, particularly the three super nations - if we may so describe them - should have gone back to their people and said : “ “We can produce nothing; the problem is insoluble without the adoption of internationalism throughout the world”, is not aware of the realities of life, and lives in an unreal world. The honorable member for Denison considers that by oversimplification all our difficulties can be solved. According to him, purely economic factors are the basis of all wars. It would be very nice if we were able to solve every riddle with one plain, simple answer. Problems are not solved so simply. Economic factors are not the only cause of war. I put it to this House that probably one of the main reasons is the ambition of the rulers of States for power, and greater power. Consider these words in the Lord’s Prayer -
For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory.
Those words probably reveal what is in the hearts and minds of not only dictators, but also many rulers of either totalitarian States or democracies.
– They still extend to where the resources are cut off.
– They may. I listened very carefully to the fine speech that was made in this House last night by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). The honorable member referred to Japan and other countries having access to supplies of raw materials. I agree with his statement that it is not a fact that they were denied access, but that their desire was the ownership of those things. A classic example of nations having no supplies of- raw materials, or only small quantities of them, is the Scandinavian nations in
Europe, particularly Sweden, Norway and Denmark. They had no colonial empire, and no supplies of raw materials within their own boundaries, yet they never set out to dominate anyother portion of the world in order to obtain them, but procured them legitimately by trading, and establishing magnificent steamship services. So it is not only the desire to have supplies that causes war. What I put to this House - already it has been put by some other honorable members, including the honorable member for Denison and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) - is that there is nothing new in the efforts of the nations to effect some instrument that will achieve and preserve peace.
During the Napoleonic war, an alliance was formed between Austria, Prussia, Russia and Britain, and it was agreed among them that none would make a separate peace with France until victory was achieved. Under the Treaty of Chaumont, signed on the 10th March, 1814, these nations bound themselves not to dissolve the alliance when peace was declared. They were the United Nations of their day. At the Congress of Vienna, those united nations set out to distribute the territorial possessions acquired by Napoleon. Lord Castlereagh was leader of the British delegation at the congress, and he put up a great fight against slavery. He induced the nations to make a declaration that they would abolish slavery in their dominions and territories, but did they do so straightaway? They undertook to do so, and the British believed that it would be done quickly. However, it was not until 1864 that slavery in the form of serfdom was abolished in Russia, and in some of the territories of the signatory powers slavery continued until the end of the nineteenth century. The aspirations embodied in the Charter of the United Nations are in many respects like the declaration on slavery for which Lord Castlereagh was responsible. He also tried to get the nations at the Vienna congress to guarantee the territorial adjustments then being made, and to wage war against any aggressor disturbing them. That was very like what is being attempted at the present time. However, the work of the Congress of Vienna was interrupted by the escape of Napoleon from Elba, and when it resumed its deliberations after the Battle of Waterloo, the provision regarding guaranteeing territorial integrity was not accepted.
One factor working for the preservation of peace is the terror of war which is spreading throughout the world. When nations were smaller and less powerful than they are to-day it was possible to localize war, but with the exception of the Gran Chaco war between Bolivia and Paraguay, modern wars have tended to involve nation after nation and to take an ever-increasing toll of the civil population. It was bad enough in the 1914-18 war. but in this war civilian? have suffered equally with the member; of the fighting services. When we read accounts of the frightful destruction wrought by atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and when we remember the sufferings of the civil population of Britain as the result of enemy air raids, we realize what is in store for the world should another war break out. It is now impossible to localize war which spreads like a contagion until every nation is affected, until it becomes, in fact, a global war. After the last war. which, as we were told, was fought to end war, the League of Nations was set up to preserve peace, but it failed of it? purpose, and 21 years after the First World War ended, the nations of the world were caught in an even more terrible holocaust. We cannot ignore the terrific increase in the destructiveness of modern weapons. The range of warfare to-day is constantly widening, and now there is the atomic bomb, more destructive in its effects than anything previously produced. I am not so optimistic as some honorable members who have argued that although terrible weapons have been produced in the past, a counter to them was always developed. We know very little as yet about the possible effects of splitting the atom. Indeed, I doubt whether the scientists themselves realize what a terrible force they have let loose in the world, or the havoc which might yet be wrought by it. It is possible thai the uncontrolled use of this force might result in life itself ceasing over vast areas of tho earth. Indeed, the splitting of the atom might conceivably result in the destruction of the world itself. Nevertheless, it remains true that in the war just ended the use of the atomic bomb probably saved millions of lives, and I believe that, it will have a twofold effect after the war. It will be as a policeman’s baton in the hands of the Security Council, and the very fear of its use will prevent other nations from going to war. The Minister for External Affairs said that the atomic bomb should be placed under the control of an “ impartial Security Council That may be all right as far as it goes, but I believe that the council should strive to induce all the United Nations to agree not to make atomic bombs or atomic engines of destruction except at the request of the council. There should be only one factory for the making of these bombs, the one now in existence, and the bombs should be used only at the direction of the council. The Security Council should have the right to police the factories of all nations in order to see that the manufacture of atomic bombs was not being undertaken. If entry to the council’s inspectors was denied, the matter should be reported to the council, and the nation 30 offending should be dealt with as one that had defied the decision of the council.
I do not believe that it is impossible to prevent the manufacture of atomic bombs. I do not believe that this discovery should be regarded as a natural development of scientific investigation. Neither do I agree that an attempt to prevent further discovery in this direction would be like interfering with the researches of such scientists as Faraday. Up to the present we have got on well enough without atomic energy, and we can very well go on without it if the price we must pay for it is the possible destruction of the world.
The Charter is bound to fail unless there is agreement between Russia, the United States of America and Great Britain. In this connexion, I quote an article written by F. L. Schuman in The Nation of the 28th April, 1935, in which he said -
The paramount fact ls that the only decisive centres of power in the world of to-morrow will be in America, Britain and the Soviet . . In the kind of world which the United
Nations have decided they want, peace can be kept only by a grand Alliance of America, Britain and Russia. If the big three fall apart, the small and the weak will all inevitably be trampled down anew in the combat of the giants.
Therefore, the Security Council must be a strong body free from control by the numerically larger but smaller nations of the General Assembly. The “Big Five”, and particularly the “Big Three “ - Russia, the United States cif America and Great Britain - have attempted to achieve this end by retaining executive power for the Security Council, which is the keystone in the march of world peace. All the rest of the machinery of the General Assembly - the council, the court and the trusteeship - will be valueless if the solidarity of the big three is endangered. I cannot understand the honorable member for Denison being so unrealistic as to say that Australia’s delegates to the conference in San Francisco should have come back without a Charter for approval by this Parliament; that they should have depended upon some vague spirit of internationalism to preserve the peace of the world.
Much has been said about the way in which the Minister for External Affairs conducted his mission at San Francisco. With all due respect to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), it seems that the Minister for External Affairs was the driving force of the Australian delegation. He assumed prominence, not only in the eyes of the public, but also in the eyes of all the delegates to the conference. What the honorable member for Denison said is true - Dr. Evatt did make a great impression. Any one will make an impression who is endowed with so fine an intellect as his, but the point is whether the work he did is of benefit to the world, to the British Empire or to Australia. His action in adopting the role of leader of the small nations at the conference was shocking; it was woeful. It was detrimental to harmony among the “ Big Three “, upon whom depends the peace of the world. It was also detrimental to the interests of the Empire and of Australia itself. I cannot see why Australia, with its population of only 7,000,000 people, and with an admittedly small voice in the affairs of the world, should deliberately set out to belittle itself. After all, it is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and as such it is, in the words of the Balfour Declaration, equal in status with every other member, and in no way subordinate in domestic or external affairs. We are a partner in a great federation. Yet the Minister for External Affairs tried to play a part in opposition to the interests of the Empire - the Commonwealth of British Nations - and to set himself up as leader of. the small nations. If he had played a similar part as leader in the councils of the British Nations he would have done better. Many leaders of thought among the supporters of the Commonwealth Government, and of the present British Government also, are too ready to disparage the Empire which has withstood every stress and strain from the time of the Spanish Armada until the present war.
– It is all right now - there is a good government in Great Britain.
– The honorable member suggests that because there is a Labour Government in Great Britain everything is right, and the world is turning into heaven. The honorable member does not mention that the mouthpiece of the British Government, Professor Laski, within the last fortnight declared that Great Britain was now a second-rate power.
– As a matter of fact, the disputes of the Minister for External Affairs were with Russia, not with Great Britain.
– He certainly had disagreements with Russia, but there were also disputes with Great Britain, and with the United States of America. If he had been prepared to play as team man, if he had taken his place in the three-quarter line of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and had passed the ball on instead of holding on to it and trying to do all the scoring himself, better results would have been achieved. In his book, United States War Aims, Lippmann states -
An international order cannot be established in the modern world merely by a collective agreement among 50 or more individual States - and particularly by small ones.
At the San Francisco conference, the Minister for External Affairs tried to regiment the small nations. Some of his arguments were with Russia itself. I have here an article written by Mr. H. A. McClure Smith, the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, in which the following passage occurs: -
Thus it is possible - and, in view of the tempers aroused by the fight, not improbable - that the smaller powers may take their revenge by blocking indefinitely a filial decision on this vexed issue. Should this happen, the consequences might be far-reaching and disastrous.
Thus it was possible that the conference might have broken down, with the result that the world might have been plunged into another war in fifteen or twenty years’ time. The Minister for External Affairs ran the risk of driving Russia out of the conference. Criticizing, on another occasion, the attitude of the British Government to Australia’s claims, the Minister said -
There is still a deplorable tendency to relegate Australia to a subordinate status.
The role which Britain played in the war is generously acknowledged by Lippman in his book United States War Aims. He says that if it had not been for the fight put up by Britain at the time of the collapse of France, Belgium and Denmark, there was no possibility of the United States of America ever being able to hold the Nazis back from invading South America, and from capturing the defences of the Panama Canal, leading to a possible invasion of the United States of America from the south. He mentions also the probability of a. Japanese attack on the United States of America via the Kuriles and Alaska. Just as the statement of Litvinov that “peace is one and indivisible” is true, so also it is true that war is one and indivisible. Not one of the three nations which at last has crushed our enemies could have succeeded if detached from the others. Lippman states -
This mortal peril was averted because in the most fateful months of our history Churchill’s Britain fought off the Germans successfully in Europe. . . . From, the summer of 1940 to the summer of 1942, this country- he referred to the United States of America - w;is iii greater peril from more formidable enemies than it had ever been before. While we debated whether we wished to be isolated from our allies we were in mortal danger of being isolated by our enemies.
That is a lesson which the people of this country might take to heart. If we isolate ourselves from our kith and kin overseas, and choose to play the part of a single dominion acting on its own account, we run the risk of being isolated and destroyed. Australia’s security lies in a strong British Empire, and not in this country being recognized as the leader of that motley band of nations to which Lippman refers. I could almost see the tears falling from the eyes of the representative of Peru when he congratulated the Minister for External Affairs on his great work, and of the representatives of Liberia, Nicaragua and other small powers supporting his remarks. Those people might congratulate the Minister but the greatest benefit that he could have conferred on Australia, and indeed to the world, was to strengthen the British Empire so that on the Security Council the representatives of Great Britain could speak on behalf of 70,000,000 white people and over 400,000,000 coloured people. If we begin to think with Professor Laski that Britain is a second-rate power, and if we accept the dictum of our own Minister for External Affairs, that Australia must have a voice in everything, and must play a separate part in all decisions such as were made at Potsdam, we shall not add to our own security. This twisting of the lion’s tail must stop, because the Minister for External Affairs, and the Government which supports him, are causing disunity in the Empire and are imperilling Australia. The Minister did good work in assisting in the drafting of the Charter, but it is not merely by the drafting of any document that peace and security will be obtained. Only by the three great nations being made as nearly equal in relative strength as possible can that result be obtained. The British Empire is weaker than either the United States of America or Russia, and therefore it is wrong to do anything to weaken still further the Empire of which we form a part.
I shall refresh the minds of honorable members as to some of the things the Minister did at San Francisco. On the 17th April, a newspaper report referring to the small powers contained the following paragraph: -
A breakdown of the conference would be akin to cutting off their noses to spite their faces.
Another report, dated the 5th May, stated -
Australia is pushing her case too hard mid damaging herself with the bigger powers
The Minister might have been increasing his own stature, but he was not benefiting Australia. He was sacrificing the Commonwealth to his own vanity. Another comment made on the 24th May was -
There is a strong feeling that what is taking place is largely shadow boxing.
The Minister must have known that his fight for the veto power was only a sham fight and would not be supported by the other small powers when a vote was taken! Unless he knew that, he was acting disloyally to the Commonwealth. The other small powers realized that if the conference failed, further wars were inevitable. I agree with the honorable member for Denison that another war would mean the destruction of civilization as we understand it. On the 30th May, the Sydney Morning Herald published an article in which it stated that Dr. Evatt’s press statement on the veto subject could not be considered helpful, and that the opinion of the “ Big Five “ must prevail if the conference was not to end in failure. On the 31st May, the same newspaper published a further article on the subject of the veto, and pointed to the danger associated with the actions of Australia’s Minister for External Affairs. When the Minister came back to Australia he had a good deal to say about trusteeship, full employment, and other matters which under the terms of the Charter are not enforceable. We know that pledges have been broken in the past. Germany broke a solemn pledge when German armies invaded Russia, and move recently Russia departed from a pledge u> Japan. We know, too, that the Anglo-German naval agreement was broken by Germany. The action of Australia’s representative at San F Francisco endangered the success of the conference, and his action since then in attacking Great Britain and the Empire is calculated to undermine the strength nf the Security Council in the future.
– Nonsense !
– The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) is an authority on nonsense. He and other honorable members on the Government benches do not like criticism of the Government. They do not like to be told the truth. They object to the actions of their hero being exposed, but I say that he sacrificed the substance for the shadow. It is true that the document before us contains evidence of the legal ability of the Minister . for External Affairs, but the fact is that he betrayed the Empire and was prepared to endanger the success of the conference because of his vanity. I know that this bill will pass, and therefore I hope that the Security Council will he able to evolve a working agreement which will keep the United States, Great Britain and Russia working together to carry out a policy for the ‘ betterment of humanity. I trust that there will be no differences between those three Great Powers, and that human endeavour will be directed towards bettering the conditions of the people generally, and not in expending huge sums of money to create weapons of war with which to destroy one another. Rather should the nations employ their resources to bring to the common people of the earth the blessings of peace.
Mr. burke (Perth) [9.30].- I cannot help but reflect that we are a curious people. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), a member of the team that we sent to sit in conference with the delegates sent by the other members of the United Nations, made a contribution of words and deeds to the work of that conference that earned not only himself, but the Australian Commonwealth, a name throughout the civilized world. The man who proved himself in tho councils of the world a real and great Australian rr turns to his own country and makes his report only to be criticized, indeed, vilified, by his fellow Australians for the work he did on their behalf and in the interests of the world. It is little wonder that we are written down by other nations and that we are regarded as insular when it becomes known that Australia will not recognize a man who has made a magnificent contribution to the solution of not only current problems and difficulties, but also the problems and difficulties that will confront the world in years to come. We have been told that the Minister for External Affairs has created discord and dissension, whereas, by his consistent efforts, he has enhanced his own prestige and raised the status of’ Australia throughout the civilized world. We have been told that his actions will perhaps assist in the ruin of the British Empire, the decline of the British family of nations. Blame for whatever diminished prestige the British family of nations may have suffered must be placed unflinchingly and squarely on the shoulders of those to whom it really belongs, certainly not on the Minister for External Affairs, whose brilliant discourses and fighting manner at the San Francisco conference warrant nothing but the highest praise from all. That Great Britain has emerged from the war less strong than when it entered itsix years ago is undeniable. We are a part of the British family of nations and we look back proudly on many glorious episodes in the history of the British race. Some of the greatest periods in British history have been not in the wars that Britain has fought and the brilliant military victories that it has gained, but in the battles it has waged and won for the liberty of the human race, and the struggle for free 1 institutions, not only within Great Britain itself and its dominions and colonies, but also in the countries that come within its sway and dwell in the safety of the shadow of its flag. But I regard as the greatest period in British history that in which it won it imperishable fame, when it stood alone and carried the burden for the world against the greatest military machine the world had ever known. Its people stood undeterred by the constant rain of bombs and the constant fear of invasion although practically powerless.
They endured all the rigours of war, all the hardships of severe rationing, the shortage of food, housing and clothing. Great Britain may be not so strong as the result of the war, but it has not lost prestige. The weakened position of Great Britain is largely the responsibility of the people that ought to have seen to its defences in the years that followed the first world war and preceded the second conflict. When Great Britain was faced with war in Europe, what real contribution could we make towards ensuring adequate defence in the Pacific?
Our major contribution, as we were told years ago by the then Prime Minister of Great Britain, was to ensure that our own frontiers should not be overrun if the Empire were forced into war. But what did we do? The then governments were unwilling to accept the status and responsibilities of nationhood. They were unwilling to think that Australia should have a policy of its own as a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. They contributed nothing that could be regarded as national development. They failed to do anything to develop the strength of the nation in the event of a major conflict. Between wars their policy was so negative as to add greatly to the difficulties that beset the Empire when war again broke out, and they thereby made a full contribution to the weakened position that Great Britain now occupies and to the difficulties that will confront it henceforth. Australia’s role should have been to look to the defences of the Empire in the Pacific in order to enable Great Britain to concentrate on its defences in the northern hemisphere. The governments charged with playing that role failed. Australia’ is indeed a nation although only small, and if we ask that we be accorded that status by other nations, we must accept responsibilities of nationhood. We can look to no other nation or be led on the leading strings of any other nation. We can look to no one to ensure our defence if we are not prepared to develop this continent as a major contribution to the security of the world. It is our responsibility to ensure by the. development of this country that we shall not again be threatened, as we were so gravely, with the danger of being overrun by an enemy. The Minister for External Affairs in raising the status of Australia has made a most important contribution to that development. So I say that he has done nothing that would contribute to the disintegration of the British Commonwealth. His words and deeds at San Francisco won him worldwide respect and admiration. He placed Australia’s name high in the councils of the world. Indeed, rather than lessen, he has increased the prestige of the British peoples by winning Australia a higher place in the opinion of men and women throughout the world.
I turn now to the Charter that resulted from the discussions at Uncio to the framing of which the Minister for External Affairs so brilliantly and ably contributed. It is undoubtedly true, as we have been told, that the Charter will not ensure peace. The honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) said that had the conference failed there would undoubtedly have been a far greater determination by the people of the world to give to their representatives a greater right and a wider opportunity to ensure the exertion of a wholehearted effort through the United Nations to prevent war from once again stalking the world and spreading ruin and desolation. I am far from pessimistic about the future of the Charter. I think it will form the basis upon which in the fullness of time we shall be able to build an organization whose power will grow to such a degree that we shall be able to look to it with a real hope that through it we may develop the real brotherhood of man. That movement may have been more rapid had the position envisaged by my honorable colleague come about, but, even now, on the agreement that has emanated from the conference, we ought to be able to build a lasting structure that will ensure that pacific settlement shall replace the arbitrament of war.
Most speakers in this debate have passed rather hurriedly over the General Assembly. .That is far too important a body to be dismissed with scant words. Although it has no executive functions, it is a body which we can liken to this assembly divested of its Executive. We demand in this assembly the right of free speech. We believe that our discussions enable us to solve problems, remove difficulties, reduce imperfections, and correct evils. We place upon the Executive the responsibility of doing something that otherwise may be left undone and to improve something that may have already been done. That equally applies to the General Assembly in its relation to the Security Council. Therefore the General Assembly is indeed important. Of course the Security Council is vital. It is the executive of the United Nations, as it were. The Minister for External Affairs, who ought to be honoured as Australia’s advocate, has been criticized and vilified throughout Australia, because he had the temerity to ask that the “Big Three” should not have the power to veto, not a decision as to how armed forces should be disposed, but discussion of problems that might develop. The Minister for External Affairs said that that was wrong. He said that the nations should have at least perfect freedom of discussion, and that no one nation, no matter how big or powerful it might be, or how much force it displayed, should a conflagration actually take place, should have the right to veto a discussion undertaken with a view to settlement of an issue by pacific means. Honorable members opposite say that that attitude is wrong, that it will lead to the disintegration of the British Empire, this poor old Empire which has stood the strains and stresses of hundreds of years, and the two greatest wars in history. Because the Minister for External Affairs stands up for fundamental human rights and demands practical democracy in the councils of the world, honorable members opposite say that the Empire will disintegrate before our eyes. They say that that will happen because we ask for honesty in international affairs, and the exercise of practical democracy in not only national parliaments but also the councils of the United Nations. I believe that every big and real Australian who has followed the course of the discussions recognizes that the Minister for External Affairs has earned for himself a high place in the councils of the world, and also the honour and gratitude of the Australian people as a whole.
The Charter sets forth many proposals by which it is hoped that peace in our time will be attained, perhaps, for the present on arbitrary terms, but nevertheless on a basis which will enable future generations to enjoy peace dictated by justice to all nations great and small. A peace that will have regard for the needs and desires of human beings can in fact be established by this organization, the basis of which has now been set, and can be developed by the goodwill and co-opera’tion of the nations. It provides the machinery to meet immediate needs. The proposals set out represent the maximum co-operation that can be obtained between the nations of the world at present. We should be grateful for such a measure of co-operation, in view of the fact that all nations have rival claims, ideologies and interests which at times inevitably conflict. I firmly believe that the causes of war, and those other factors which we have to determine before we can decide how war can be ended, have their roots in two things, greed and fear. Every nation is to some degree greedy for power, place and profit. That has been one of the causes, of war. It is useless to argue whether that greed is fundamental, or dictated by a fear arising from insecurity, but fear and greed have, in fact, been the sources from which have developed national rivalries and armament races, leading finally to the outbreak of conflagrations which have destroyed the cream of the man-power of every nation and have left in their train a trail of ruin and devastation, broken bodies, ruined lives and lost hopes. Wars have been caused by the fact that nations are greedy for place, power or prosperity, or fear that some other nation is greedy for those things. Thus begins a useless, senseless and wasteful armament race that ends in conflagrations.
Under the Charter we assume solemn responsibilities to not only the whole race but all human beings throughout the world. We claim to have a western civilization that surpasses any other extant. In moments of boasting we claim that it surpasses any civilization the world has previously known. Yet this western civilization bears within it the seeds of its own decay. In this enlightened age, despite the development of science and its enormous possibilities we spend our energy and dissipate our strength in a fierce and senseless fight for resources which, if they were developed in co-operation between the nations as a whole, could supply food and other commodities in plenty for all human beings. We have a solemn responsibility and a great load to bear. We must not fail to utilize this opportunity to develop an organization the basis of which has now been set to ensure that the almost unlimited resources of this and other countries shall be developed, not as in the past, in fierce and wasteful competition, under conditions under which men and women in this country as in other countries were ill clad and badly fed, if fed at all, when little children were expected to grow up under conditions under which no children could survive and people died in millions because they could not obtain food to sustain their bodies or develop their might. In this country we can produce all the food required by our own people. If we do not do better in the future than we have in the past and ensure that the havoc brought about by overweening greed and lust for power is not repeated, we shall deserve to disintegrate and recede. Our civilization will, just as surely as other civilizations which reached an equal stage of development pass into oblivion. Those are major considerations - greed for power and the fear of insecurity generated by unemployment and the lack of the necessaries of life. Therefore, I emphasize tho importance of the provision written into the Charter as the result of the efforts of a great Australian. The Minister for External Affairs is too big a man for some honorable members opposite to understand. He made Australia’s greatest contribution to the Charter by having written into it a pledge of full employment by the nations represented at the General Assembly. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) asked: What does full employment mean? He asked that the phrase be defined. The phrase cannot be defined in terms. But it is an ideal to be accepted and worked for, and when coupled with the pledge to
Ifr. Burke. work for high and rising standards of living it places a responsibility upon the nations which they have not previously accepted. That is a major contribution and represents a valuable step forward upon the road towards peaceful living in this world. Although these terms, perhaps, cannot be precisely defined, the pledge is a great step forward in international organization and co-operation between the peoples of the world. I welcome that declaration, which represents such a great advance in the annals of the human race. In order to ensure that it will be implemented, along with other pledges embodied in the Charter, I have no hesitation in putting to the people of Australia, as I would to the men and women of other countries, the proposition that if they tolerate situations similar to that which obtained in previous years in this country when a great army of men and women stalked Australia in search of employment while tremendous national tasks were waiting to be undertaken, and were told that employment, could not be provided because sufficient money was not available for that purpose, they will indeed deserve to endure the hardships, miseries, and privations which those conditions will involve. This twin provision - of full employment and high and rising standards of living - should ensure that this new League of Nations, called to-day the United Nations, will live up to its promises in respect of those matters.
The temper of our people demonstrated in recent elections indicates that excuses accepted in the past will not be tolerated in the future by men and women who have seen in the process of war sufficient money provided for all purposes. Therefore, this provision is not nebulous, or merely a pious resolution, written into the Charter to tickle the ears of Australians or the peoples of the United Nations. It provides a basis on which we can advance to ensure real peace among the peoples of the world, based upon the happiness and prosperity of all peoples who will find a community of interest when their basic needs as human beings are provided in full and plenteous measure. The Charter provides for the specific settlement of disputes. That provision is definitely desirable, but, of course, it may not always be possible te implement it effectively. The League of Nations broke up under a threat which might have meant the use of force. If the Security Council were faced with a similar problem, it might have to resort to the use of fore© against a nation which had violated the established principles of Uncio, or refused to comply with the direction given to it. But we learn, even though the process may be slow and tortuous, from the ruin and devastation caused by war. If the League of Nations had threatened to use force against Japan when it attacked the peaceful Chinese nation, the course of history might have been altered. In future, any potential aggressor must be taught that violence does not pay. By even a threat of force, the League of Nations might have prevented acts of aggression which resulted ultimately in the loss of countless priceless lives, the destruction of valuable material resources and the infliction of privation, misery and suffering upon millions of people. I believe that if a threat of aggression occurs in future, the United Nations will accept their responsibilities under this Charter, and take prompt action at the beginning to prevent a repetition of the latest conflagration.
The Economic and Social Council will perform many functions which will assist in the achievement of the objectives of full employment and a high and rising standard of living. These are most important considerations, which can make a valuable contribution to the success of this newly established organization. The declaration regarding non-self-governing territories will provide valuable machinery with which Uncio will safeguard the interests and welfare of native populations. Although no definite authority is given to enable the Council to intervene in any territory, publicity given to conditions in it, and the resultant discussion, can have only a beneficial effect upon the administration of territories and the welfare of the native peoples in them.
One of the important organizations, which evidently will be continued from the League of Nations, is the International Court of Justice. In future, nations must agree to submit their dis putes to that authority for decision. In the national sphere, we act according to the established law. In the international sphere, if peace is to be maintained and goodwill preserved, the nations must be willing to submit their disputes to the international court for determination. That might not be immediately practicable, except upon those rules of international law which have already been established, but on the principle laid down in the Charter, we may look forward to the time when a code of law will be formulated, having as much force in the international sphere as has the rule of law in the national sphere.
The Australian people are apt to look upon any delegation of power to an organization such as Uncio as something which limits their sovereignty. In my opinion, that view is not correct. This Charter will protect our sovereignty, because unless we are prepared to submit matters affecting our rights and interests to the international tribunal for determination, we must be prepared at all times to defend, by recourse to arms if necessary, our right to retain this continent. I hope that in my approach to this problem, I do not take any line which may be a dangerous illusion or, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) stated, uttered a cynicism which is damaging. But unless the peoples of the world are willing and, indeed, determined to submit their problems to international tribunals for decision, and discuss matters in dispute between them, there is little hope for the preservation of world peace. We must also be willing to ensure that the natural and fundamental rights of all peoples throughout the world shall be guaranteed and maintained. Otherwise, the position must arise when nations which before this war were described as the “ have nots “, will build up sufficient strength again to challenge the nations described as the “ haves “. Therefore, we as a people must direct our energies to ensuring the success of this newly established organization. But some of us do little service to this noble cause when, for the sake of some petty political advantage, we endeavour to belittle the achievements of a man who has been a brilliant advocate of our cause. If we are not willing to play the part that is required of us, we shall not make the greatest contribution of which we are capable to ensure the peaceful settlement of disputes and the banishment of war. In my opinion, we have established the basis of what Tennyson visualized in Locksley Hall. The concluding lines are so appropriate that I quote them -
When the war drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
Mr. white (Balaclava) [10.10].- Fifty nations have signed the United Nations Charter, and it would be more than unreasonable if in this Parliament, we were to oppose the principle of the measure now before us. Undoubtedly, it is a sincere endeavour to maintain world peace by establishing the rule of law in international affairs, and I am optimistic enough to believe that that objective can be achieved. It has been achieved in civil life. Civil disputes are not settled by ordeal by battle. In the industrial world also we have almost achieved success in this regard - I say “ almost “, because there are still unnecessary strikes and disputes which sometimes lead to conflict - yet in the international field, despite the earnest endeavours of sincere men, we have not vet reached the age of reason and law. I well recall the enthusiasm for the League of Nations, as ,a medium for world peace; but the league had a definite weakness, namely the lack of provision for the use of force to support its decisions. It is true that the League met with some minor successes, but it failed in its dealings with the major powers. When Italy invaded Abyssinia we were called upon to apply economic sanctions, and that was done. We kept Italian goods out of this country. As Minister for Trade and Customs at that time, I was responsible for taking that action; but I realized how futile it was to believe that a major nation could be deterred from conquest by economic measures of that kind, without any force to support them. In civil life, we would quickly reach a stage of anarchy if we did not have a police force. Even in the most peaceful community there must be an evident representation of the law. That applies also to international relations. Therefore, although in the past sincere endeavours were made to preven war - there was the Locarno Pact which outlawed war, and numerous disarmament conferences that weakened certain countries which would have been much stronger at the outbreak of this war had they not been in sincere agreement with the principle of disarmament - finally, major nations defied the league. Italy broke with the league over Abyssinia, Japan over Manchuria, and ultimately Germany and Russia also withdrew. Another great weakness of the league was that its sponsor, the United States of America, was not a member of it, although that great President of the United States of America, Woodrow Wilson, had been one of its most enthusiastic advocates. With this Charter we are starting again after the greatest upheaval in history in the course of which millions of lives have been lost, thousands of millions of pounds worth of the earth’s treasure poured out, vast destruction caused, cruelties practised, and, at the same time epic feats of courage and epic heroism performed. We are embarking again upon an endeavour to solve this great international riddle. Representatives of the United Nations met at San Francisco and drew up this Charter, in which they have embodied some improvements upon the Covenant of the League of Nations, and we hope most earnestly that these improvements may suffice. Article 41 states -
The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.
Action to interrupt economic relations was taken under the League of Nations Covenant in the case of Italy but was found to be inadequate. Presumably, the interruption of communications could mean a blockade. That might be more effective. Article 42 states -
Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land funics as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of members of the United Nations.
In other words they may resort to force to prevent an aggressor from making war. That is the power which the League of Nations lacked, and I hope and believe that in this instance, it will be effective. However, there are difficulties. “When this matter was discussed in connexion with the League of Nations it wa3 stated by the leaders of the armed forces of various nations that it would not be possible to build up an international force, because some countries would always bc suspicious of others, with the result that war secrets would not become common knowledge. There is, of course, some merit in that argument. For instance, had Great Britain, before this war, made known to the nations of the world its discoveries in connexion with radar, in the development of which Great Britain was two years ahead of other nations, Great Britain would have been the victim of Nazi Germany, and it is quite possible that to-day we would have been a conquered nation. It is said that in the battle of Britain our fighter aircraft fought off the German aerial invasion which was to precede an amphibious landing. That is quite true, but the fact remains that owing to radar, British fighters were always in the air to meet the German aircraft which, although usually superior in numbers, were technically slightly inferior to the British machines. A. similar situation might arise in regard to the atomic bomb; yet many people argue that the secrets of this weapon should he made available to the world. If all nations could discard selfishness from their hearts; in other words, if we could have an ideal world such as that sought in the Sermon on the Mount, there would be international amity and peace; but it is possible that even with the measure of force that we could employ under this proposal, a selfish nation might again bring war to the world. Article 47 provides for.the setting up of a military staff committee to bo responsible for the strategic direction of any armed forces placed at the disposal of the Security Council.
There is a definite obligation upon us to play our part should a crisis occur, and I do not think that there is any one in this Parliament or elsewhere so devoid of imagination that he cannot visualize circumstances arising in which some nation hungry for power, territory or trade, would not once more plunge the world into disaster. Therefore Australia, as a signatory to this Charter, has a. definite defence obligation. I am glad that the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) is at the table, because I intend to deal particularly with the defence section of the Charter. Australia is a small nation, but nevertheless one that has some prestige. That prestige was largely inherited from a great nation that has spread throughout the world its ideals of tolerance, justice and freedom, which have been emulated by other nations that sought to have the best form of democratic government. Because of its geographical position, Australia has to take some independent steps for its own safety. That was realized before the inauguration of federation; and in the earliest days of federation, governments saw to it that Australia had its own units of defence, even though, by and large, it also contributed in many ways to Empire defence. The Australian Navy, as a separate unit, played a meritorious part in the last war, and earned imperishable fame in this war. Australia in the last war was the only dominion which had its own air force - the Australian Plying Corps. The other dominions supplied personnel to the Royal Flying Corps, which later became the Royal Air Force. Australia had universal military training, which enabled this country, great in area but sparsely populated,” to ensure that its manhood would know something of the fundamentals of military service. It is a great pity that that system was abolished, and that, for almost a decade in Australia’s history, our youth were denied such training. I was a constant advocate of the scheme, having had some association with it. I was sorry to see it suspended, and was glad when it was reintroduced. I hope that it will not again be suspended when the services have been demobilized. Under the Charter, Australia will have the obligation of garrisoning certain places, giving a right of passage, and supplying troops. It would be unfair to throw that obligation upon a few nations. “We should have what Britain is undertaking today - a form of universal service. I shall not suggest the terms of it. There are two or three ways in which it could be done. It would be impossible for us to bear the great expense of a large navy ; therefore, we must work in the closest co-operation and collaboration with Britain. Although Britain’s Navy is now numerically less than that of the United States of America, it has and always will have an unparalleled prestige. We have always been proud that our men have passed through Britain’s naval schools and were trained by similar standards. Because of the lessons we have learned, we must ensure that we shall have what has been found to be a necessary adjunct to the fleet - carriers for aircraft. Without aircraft carriers, America could not have struck so swiftly or decisively at Japan, and brought about a speedy termination of the war. Australia has no carriers. If it cannot afford such things within its own unit, it must at least ensure that Britain will operate in conjunction with it.
I come now to another ancillary to our obligations. The Navy, the Army and the Air Force are complementary to each other. No man could be such a fanatic as to believe that one arm of the services is sufficient to win wars. Air power has been expanded tremendously. The range and endurance of aircraft are now so enormous, and the weight of bombs that can be carried is so great, that air power hastened the end of this war, and reached dimensions in destruction far beyond the conception of even those who were acquainted with the industry and its history. We must ensure that Australia shall have a fleet air-arm. As we have not had a fleet air-arm, some members of the Royal Australian Air Force are now training with the Royal Navy. A good deal of pressure had to be exerted before those personnel were permitted to obtain necessary training and to operate with the Royal Navy.
We have to get down to a definite postwar establishment, in connexion with the Royal Australian Air Force generally.
I urged this upon the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) two years ago, before many young men were demobilized into civil life and their splendid training was lost to the nation. To-day, 11,000 of them are languishing in Britain, many being engaged on menial tasks, when they should be brought back to Australia. The pick of them should be put into the post-war Air Force, and the remainder should be allowed to go into avocations of their choice. A beginning having been made with men in the fleet air-arm, le! us build up from that nucleus so thai we shall have an efficient branch in thai connexion.
The Empire Air Training Scheme was one of the greatest and most successful of the Empire experiments that have been made. We have also had successful economic experiments, such as the Ottawa Agreement, which, in connexion with the rehabilitation of the Empire, sei an example to a distracted world at the time of the depression. In the Empire Air Training Scheme, we forged a weapon for victory. The trained and partially trained young men of the Empire converged upon Britain and were brought together to form an air force that was unequalled, and played a major parr in the termination of hostilities in Europe. The advantages of that successful experiment are too great to be lost. The fleet air-arm could be an Empire force, to which Australia could supply a quota. The more we can exchange with the Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the better will it be for the defence of Australia and the Empire, as well as for the international organization. I make that suggestion seriously. From long experience. I know that it would work. We have the necessary personnel. The young men who trained under the Empire Air Training Scheme were Australia’s best ambassadors, said Dr. Thomas Wood, author of Cobbers, in a world broadcast last week. I agree with him. Those ambassadors of service are infinitely better than itinerant Minister^, who sometimes make blunders
A lot has been said about a certain gentleman. Judging by the eulogies paid to him by the last speaker, one would believe that h» wrote this Charter. Tt matters little what wc say, do or think in ibis House. Had the whole of the Australian delegation not gone to San Francisco, this Charter still would have been written. Had Australia refused to participate in the conference, the other 49 nations would have come to agreement. Lot us not make too much of individuals who go abroad in the service of Australia. Thousands of men in the forces have given greater service by offering their lives in defence of their country. We have greatly overdone the matter in our talk about what has been achieved by this delegation at San Francisco.
– Do not let us underestimate its work, either.
– I have no desire to do so. Australia, throughout its history, has been a member of a practical league of nations, the British Empire, a league which, when the occasion arose, went to the rescue of a victim who was attacked.
– Who was that?
– When Poland was invaded, Britain went to its defence. Let that fact not be forgotten. History is our best philosophy. If we have no sentiment in the matter, let us, at any rate, realize that for our own advantage and safety we should support Britain in all its undertakings. I do not say that we should not sometimes disagree with Britain’s policy. I admire those dominion representatives, who at Imperial conferences, gained notable diplomatic victories for us. All I say is that if there are troubles in the family we should not seek support from strangers. If we have criticisms to offer of Britain - and we must be impudent if we have, when Britain has impoverished itself to save civilization - let us offer them in a family conference. Before we make any international commitment, economic or otherwise, let us have an Empire conference for reconstruction. Britain, from being the greatest creditor nation in the world, has become the greatest debtor nation. It has sold its assets, it has suffered damage to millions of its homes, and has lost its export trade. It is now faced with this dilemma: If it diverts labour for reconstruction work at home, it cannot develop its export trade, and without an export trade it cannot live. We should undertake to ensure that trade flows freely once more between Great Britain and Australia. There has always been need for Empire unity, but that need was never so great as it is now.
Our defence obligations under the Charter are all-important. I have no doubt that service Ministers have taken full cognizance of what is in the treaty, but I hope that they will be guided by their advisers. I am not sure that Japan is effectively beaten. I read in the newspapers this morning a statement by an American admiral who was in Japan, that the Japanese are not “ licked “. The Japanese surrendered, it is true, but I am inclined to think that they used the atomic bomb and the entry of Russia into the war as a. pretext. They were near defeat, but they had not been defeated. During the debate in this House on the subject of Army equipment, I said that the bombing of Japan was of more importance than the campaign in the northern islands, where valuable lives were being lost. Whether the atomic bomb had been used or not, Japan would have been defeated soon.
– How soon ?
– Within a matter of months. A man who played a major part in bringing this war to an end is Sir Arthur Harris, the head of the Bomber Command of the Royal Air Force, and he has been given too little credit for what he did. Mr. Churchill warned the people of the Rhur towns to evacuate them because they would be destroyed one after the other, and it was Air Marshal Harris who organized the raids which destroyed them. I have always believed that the time would come when aerial warfare would become so terrible that it would end war. I thought that the effect would be produced by ordinary bombing. It was only a matter of increasing the number of aircraft and the weight of bombs until aerial warfare would become too frightful to contemplate. I had the privilege of attending the conferences in Great Britain at which Air Marshall Harris and his staff decided on the destruction of this town, or that, in Germany. American representatives sat in at these conferences, and there learned the art of bombing on a grand scale. It was there that the great bombing raids were organized, beginning with the 1,000-bomber raid on Cologne. If honorable members had had an opportunity to see from the air the destruction of those towns they would have realized that the war could not last long, because that “ softening up “ would pave the way for the armies.
– How long did it take to “ soften up “ Germany ?
– It took some time. because of heavy defences. But British aircraft design and British pluck and determination brought it about. Had the British heavy bomber force gone to Japan where defences were lighter and operated there with its splendid ally the American Air Force, Japan would have been pulverized. I would like to have seen that happen. It seems to me that the Japanese rulers called the war off because their merchant princes, the Mitsuis and the Mitsubishis, saw the end of their economic development. Just as the Allies destroyed the Ruhr, in a total war which the Germans began, so, in my opinion, they should have destroyed the economic strength of Japan. It is possible that Japan will rise again, and that is why I say that Australia has great obligations under the Charter. We must have an integrated navy, army and air force to carry out those obligations. I repeat that we must work, first, for the development of this country and to make Australia what it ought to be.
The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) spoke at length on the economic aspect of the Charter, and of the great victory that had been achieved in getting the nations to agree to a policy of full employment. Shibboleths are of little avail ; achievement is what matters. Full employment is possible under a totalitarian system of government, and we can get very close to achieving it in a well-governed democracy. Those who remember the depression days and their hardships seem to have forgotten that unemployment in Australia was reduced from about 25 per cent. of the population in 1932, to 8.7 per cent. in 1938. The Government in power during that period exercised imagination and achieved much. What was done then shows what is possible. To-day, water conservation schemes and reproductive public works ought to be undertaken. Sir William Howitt, a member of the Labour Government of the United Kingdom, who was also a member of the previous coalition government, has said that he believes that the greatest rectifier of fluctuations of employment would be a payable price for agricultural products” under an international agreement. Much can be done by agreements of this kind. If staple primary products, such as wheat and wool, rubber and cotton, were controlled by an international agreement many of the fluctuations which lead to depressions could be avoided.
I have said that full employment is possible in a totalitarian State. It was achieved in Germany and in Russia, but no Australian want3 to change our economy for the systems of either of those countries. However, if governments work wisely and adopt commonsense methods, the good sense of the community will ensure maximum results. International security and economic security are closely related. Australia has put its hand to the Charter, and it is possible that out of the evil of war good may come. Out of the sacrifice of battle and the devastation that has been caused in the greatest upheaval in history, common sense may prevail. Providence and Australia’s geographical position have saved Australia from much of the tragedy and disaster associated with the war. We should take inspiration from this Charter and remembering Lincoln’s words that the dead shall not have died in vain, dedicate ourselves to a new beginning and use our best endeavours to avoid the errors of the past, so that an eria of peace and happiness may dawn upon a war-torn world.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Makin) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Makin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– In the report of the Auditor-General for the year ended the 30th June, 1944, the following statement in relation to the Salvage Commission appears: -
The commission was established in July, 1943, under the National Security (Salvage) Regulations to deal with the collection, treatment, disposal and use of salvage materials and the provision and use of salvage services. Hie commission controls departmental salvage, the most important items of which are partlyworn obsolete military clothing, unserviceable clothing, and other related items. The expenditure by the commission for the year was £27,105, met from Division 134. Receipts were £23,284.
Honorable members will notice that there is a discrepancy between the receipts and expenditure of the commission. I have received information that senior officers of the commission have been parties to an agreement to sell to a refugee firm large quantities of clothing, not as garments at the approved listed prices, but as rags at a flat rate of £20 a ton. I am informed that several such deals have been concluded with the one firm. The Minister for Home Security (Mr. Lazzarini) may know of the allegations that have been made, but as he may not know of them, F shall give to the House some of the information which is in my possession.
– I know all about the allegations.
– I am pleased to know that because it will enable the Minister to give to the House information he doubtless has obtained as the result of inquiries authorized by him. In my opinion, a royal commission is necessary to clear this matter up.
– If desired, a royal commission can be appointed.
– I am glad to hear the Minister’s interjection because it indicates that he is prepared to take action in this matter. The statements which I shall now make are made with the full concurrence of the Materials Officer of the Salvage Commission, Mr. Morrison. He has given me permission to use his name and to make these statements, so that the country may know what is going on. In his capacity as Materials Office of the commission, Mr. Morrison has sold large quantities of salvage garments at the price approved by the head office and recorded on the official price list. I understood that the gross profit on trading in New South Wales in the thirteen months in which Mr. Morrison was employed was about £25,000. In June, 1945, two senior officers of the commission, it is alleged, came to Sydney from Melbourne and proceeded to sell a member of a refugee firm practically everything in the Salvage Commission’s store at Redfern. That is the serious part of the exposure. I understand that many of the lines sold consisted of large quantities of garments form the Army and the Air Force that had been reclaimed by the commission at considerable cost. These had already been sold or had been offered to other buyers. They included 500 blue Royal Australian Air Force jackets, which had already been sold at 8s. 5d. each to a wholesaler, and 3,000 Royal Australian Air Force drill jackets, which were under offer to another firm for export to Noumea. The list price for the latter was 6s. 8d. Other items in the store were 270 pairs of riding breeches priced at 12s. 6d. a pair; 300 Royal Australian Navy jumpers at 5s. each; 4 tons of blanket ends at 101/2d. per lb.; woollen socks at ls. Id. per lb. ; and woollen and cotton singlets and underpants at 71/2d. per lb., all of which were sold as “ rag “ to the refugee firm. The Materials Officer, who objected to the procedure of the officers from head-quarters, was overruled, and those garments, notwithstanding that they had been sold or were under offer- to some one else at the prices I have stated, were sold to the refugee firm for £20 a ton, representing a few pence for individual garments that had already been sold or were under offer at the foregoing prices. In addition, there were 47£ tons of garments that had not been inspected and may have contained goods of great value. That lot was also sold as old wool “ for £20 a ton.
Another strange incident occurred, according to Morrison’s allegations, which would bear investigation. Eighteen tons of clothing arrived from Brisbane for the firm to which the other lots were sold. Morrison states that he inspected that consignment at the Hasringtonstreet store and that it contained, amongst other garments, a large quantity of American overcoats. That consignment was also sold at £20 a ton, although the files contain two strict instructions^ - “ (1) No rag shall be sold unless there are at least three quotations for it, and (2) garments that, are wearable shall not be sold as rags.” Morrison and the other members of the
New South Wales staff contended that they were disturbed at what was going on and sought legal advice in order to protect their interests, because it appeared to them that questionable practices were being pursued within the Salvage Commission, particularly as sales were being negotiated with one firm by officers of the head-quarters staff. It was decided to address a joint protest to the State Controller. This was done and, with only one exception, all signed it. It is alleged that the State Controller, against whom no allegations are made, as I understand that his actions were taken under instructions from the head office in Melbourne, admitted to a generous deal in Sydney as other deals made to the firm concerned in Brisbane had been underweight. One of the two officers from Melbourne arrived two days later and, after some questioning, Morrison and another man named Fitzpatrick were dismissed. No reasons were given. I am told that the Minister telegraphed head-quarters in Melbourne that they were to be reinstated, but I understand that the commission submitted that the Commonwealth Public Service Act overruled his direction.
– It did not.
– No, and I congratulate the Minister on his prompt action. But the commission decided that the Minister had no jurisdiction to give a decision because the Commonwealth Public Service Act overruled it. It appears to me that the commission was determined that there should be no investigation. It decided that the men were not to b© re-employed.
– The commission was wrong.
– Yes. I understand that the Minister directed that an investigation be held and that a treasury official was on the job promptly.
– Within 24 hours.
– Yes, I understand that the investigation began very promptly. I have no knowledge of the result of the investigation, but it is the duty of the Minister to table the report in this House in order that the rackets that occur here as in every country after every war may be exposed. The wrongful dismissal of Morrison and Fitzpatrick was a live issue until last week when, J understand, the Minister found that the staff of the commission was employed under National Security (Salvage) Regulations that provide that the employee.shall not be subject to the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. I understand that under National Security (Salvage) Regulation No. selection of the staff rests with the commission subject to any direction by tinMinister.
– That is so.
– In the light of the information given to the Minister both men were reinstated and I congratulate the Minister upon having made that possible.
– I must have done thiwrong thing if the honorable gentleman congratulates me.
– The Minister can take it that way if he likes to consider that it was wrong, in the light of tinexposure, to reinstate the men.
– Oh, nol
– Well the honorable gentleman cannot have it both ways. I understand that the firms to which goods were sold or were under offer, contacted the Minister, and asked if it could be taken that these goods were not now available. That is where the Minister comes into the picture, because if he were aware that while the goods wertunder offer to those firms, and they were prepared to purchase them at the price “1 have mentioned, the goods were sold at £20 a ton, representing a price of only 2d. a garment, he has something to answer for in that respect. I do not know whether the Minister has taken action in the matter, but I hope that he will make a statement to the House in order to clear himself. He cannot have it both ways. If he were aware thai those goods were under offer to those firms at the prices I have mentioned, and they were prepared to purchase them, but he still ‘ allowed the goods to be sold at 2d. a garment he must make an explanation in that respect. [Extension of time granted.] I do not know what reply the Minister made to the representations of the firms, but if he gives that explanation to the House, and it is satisfactory, he clearly has nothing to answer. I have been also advised that upon the reinstatement of Morrison and Fitzpatrick, certain senior officers employed in the Salvage Commission resigned. My object in making these disclosures is to ensure that a full inquiry will be made into the operations of the Salvage Commission. A ministerial inquiry will not be sufficient, because should those allegations be proved then it appears that some questionable racket is being indulged in in that department. Bearing in mind the Auditor-General’s report for the previous financial year in which he pointed out that receipts for goods sold were less than the actual administrative expenses, it would be infinitely better to gives these goods away, and abolish the commission entirely. This case calls for an inquiry not only into these allegations but also into the operations of the commission since its inception in order to see that discrepancies between receipts and expenditure shall be properly explained. The charges which I now make upon allegations made by responsible officers of tho commission must be thoroughly investigated. In view of all the circumstances, a royal commission should be appointed to inquire into this matter having regard particularly to the report of the Auditor-General concerning the transactions of the commission in the previous year.
Mr. fadden (Darling DownsLeader of the Australian Country party) [11.5]. - The Commonwealth Disposals Commission is charged with the disposal of millions of pounds worth of equipment and materials. The record of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission, as the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has said, leaves much to be desired. According to the report of the Auditor-General, expenditure by the Salvage Commission during the financial , year 1943-44 amounted to £27,165, whilst receipts amounted to only £23,2S4, or a deficiency of £3,881. According to one report, the Commonwealth Disposals Commission will dispose of at least £24.000,000 worth of surplus war goods in the current financial year. In view of the large volume of business involved it is incumbent upon me to place before the House disquieting evidence from widely separated quarters regarding the operations of that body. I have received one complaint from Brisbane where I have been told that a number of porcelain-lined electric household refrigerators were available for disposal. A mechanic who was interested made inquiries as to the price, and was informed that they were not for sale. It is alleged that a few days later these refrigerators wore sold for about £7 each to friends of officers of the commission. My informant claims that although they were slightly faulty the refrigerators were worth approximately £200 each, and could have been placed in perfect condition at a cost of not more than £25. These allegations are most serious, and must bo thoroughly investigated.
The second complaint comes from Cairns. Information from Army sources alleges that motor cycles fit to be driven away were sold to agents, of whom there were only six, at the rate of five motor cycles for £40, or £8 each. All of these motor cycles were comparatively late models, and were subsequently advertised for sale by agents at prices ranging up to £80 each. According to a bulletin issued this month by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) no fewer than 2,80© motor cycles have been handed over to the commission for disposal. I should like to know how much was received for those motor cycles.
The method of disposal of motor vehicles also leaves much to be desired. These vehicles are being handed to the commission by the Army at more than twice the rate at which the commission is able to dispose of them. The bottleneck occurs because the vehicles are sent to only a few firms for reconditioning and distribution through trade channels. In Brisbane, J understand, the whole business is handled by only four firms which have not the facilities for a more speedy disposal. This bottleneck, caused through excessive centralization, must be eliminated. Many thousands of farmers and others would be quite willing to purchase second-hand vehicles “with all faults”, and the necessary repairs could lie done in country garages. This would assist not only in decentralization, but also in the rehabilitation of many soldiers who received craft and mechanical training in the Army. The danger is that unless these vehicles are disposed of quickly, they will be left on the commission’s hands when new motor vehicles become available for civilian use. The effect of this on the taxpayers’ pocket is obvious, as the value of the proposed disposals this year, amounting to £24,000,000, would, if applied to a reduction of income tax on individuals, total 3s. 4d. in the £1.
The Army has also made available to the commission 13,600 motor tyres. I should like detailed information as to their ultimate destination, and whether an adequate quota was made available to residents of country towns and rural areas. Further serious cases have come to my notice regarding the method of disposal of surplus Army biscuits, salmon and other foodstuffs. A few days ago, a man informed me that he had been able to buy surplus Army stocks in Queensland. Incidentally, the quantity of accumulated stocks in other States would be many times greater than the surplus in Queens1 and. My informant stated that he had been able to acquire certain foodstuffs - I shall not mention them, because they would be easily identifiable - and was able to dispose of them within 24 hours, making a profit of £600. That experience reveals that something is radically wrong in the disposal of these stocks, and should be thoroughly investigated by a royal commission, or commission of inquiry, for the purpose of ensuring that surplus stocks shall be disposed of to the advantage of the taxpayer, and distributed equitably among persons who most urgently require them. If ‘the Government desires to accelerate the production of essential requirements for purposes of rehabilitation, it must stimulate the rural industries. During the war, primary producers had a raw deal. Their tractors and many of their farm implements were acquired under National Security Regulations. Now, any surplus motor vehicles, tyres and other equipment should be distributed as expeditiously as possible to those who are producing the real wealth of Australia.
made regarding the Commonwealth Disposals Commission will be brought to the notice of the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley). They do not relate to civil salvage, which comes under my administration as Minister for Home Security.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) made certain allegations, most of which had been brought to my notice about three weeks ago. I do nol propose to bandy names, as he did, in this “ coward’s castle “. If the honorable member desires an inquiry into my administration, he can have a dozen royal commissions, if necessary.
– I am asking for an inquiry.
– The remarks which the honorable member made regarding a responsible official of the Treasury were true; but I do not think that he gave to the House all the information in his possession. I obtained a certain report from a Treasury official and considered that the matter should be taken further. The honorable gentleman referred to the Auditor-General’s report. As soon as I received the report from the Treasury official, whose- reputation is probably higher than that of the honorable member, I asked whether officers of the Auditor-General’s Department could investigate the matter. That, is as far as I am prepared to go at the moment. Honorable members opposite have been saying quite a lot during the last few weeks about the Auditor-General’s statements in regard to this administration. The impartiality of the AuditorGeneral’s Department cannot be questioned. When I obtain the report, I shall make it available to the House, and if the House believes that a royal commission should be appointed, I shall be quite agreeable ; but the appointment of a royal commission is not within my province. It is within the province of the Prime Minister. I do not fear any challenge as to my integrity or my administration of the commission. As I have said, .1 asked if the Auditor-General’s officers would examine the matter, and they are now doing so. The honorable .mem her for Wentworth knows quite well that the
Auditor-Generalis beyond ministerial direction. I can only ask that certain action be taken. I have no power of direction over him.
Mr.ADERMANN (Maranoa) [11.21]. - Recently, because of the fodder shortage, an embargo was placed by the Queensland Government upon the export of maize from Queensland to the southern States. That action was taken chiefly because the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) was unable to provide alternative fodder such as wheat. The situation which has now developed in Queensland- is rather anomalous and I should like the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Forde) to consult with the State Minister for Agriculture in regard to it. What has happened is this : The embargo on the export of maize from Queensland includes the variety known as Hickory King, a white maize grown entirely for edible purposes. Twenty per cent. of the maize grown in the South Burnett district is Hickory King. The price fixed by the Prices Commissioner for yellow maize is 6s. 2½d. a bushel and for white maize, 6s.8½d. a bushel. As there is ample yellow maize available for the cane-fields, and for other districts, there is no sale for white maize which is more susceptible to weevil infestation, and cannot be held in store for an unduly long period. To-night I have received a telegram to the effect that unless something be done urgently, the Queensland maize market will collapse, because Brisbane and the northern areas which provide the chief markets for maize, are fully supplied. Commonwealth action is sought. I cannot say whether or not the State Minister for Agriculture hasbeen approached, and my only object in speaking to-night is to request the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to consult with the Queensland Minister for Agriculture with a view to settling this matter. A collapse of the maize market in Queensland would be most undesirable. The crop this year is very poor, and the growers are entitled to receive the maximum price fixed by the Prices Commissioner. I urge the removal of the embargo on whito maize so that it may be sold for edible purposes. Manufacturers are crying out for it, but they cannot obtain supplies because of the embargo. In normal circumstances section 92 of the Constitution would prevent an embargo upon interstate transport of goods, but this action has been taken under National Security Regulations. The power has been delegated to the State Minister for Agriculture, and he has acted accordingly. The Commonwealth of course could withdraw that power if it so desired, but I do not know if that action is necessary at present. At least I would request that first an approach be made to the State Minister for Agriculture. The maize crop has been harvested for two or three months now and with the approach of the warm weather the maize will become weevil infestedvery quickly with a resultant loss to the farmers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
National Security Act - National Security (Rationing) Regulations-Orders - Nos. 102, 103.
House adjourned at 11.27 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– I refer the honorable member to the Parliamentary Paper on Demobilization of the Forces, which was tabled on the 29th. August, and which gives a full answer to these questions. Demobilization will commence not later than the 1st October, and the plans approved provide for accelerated demobilization for properly certified personnel required for essential occupations which are necessary to prepare the way for those still in the forces. Certification in these eases is the responsibility of the Man Power Directorate. The Government does not intend to permit accelerated discharge of all members who have positions available to them, as such a course would be unfair to those who are without assured employment. The numbers to be demobilized will be determined hy the Government from time to time in the light of existing commitments. Discharge and rehabilitation machinery of the services and civil departments will be stepped up to cope with the large numbers involved.
n asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
e asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers: -
Australian Army : Stores and EQUIPMENT
n asked the Minister for thi’ Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
Mr.Beasley. - The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. The Commonwealth Disposals Com mission has sold only one refrigerator in the Brisbane area in the last two mouths. The refrigerator was located in a building at the Stuartholme Convent which was under hiring agreement by the Army. In the dehiring the premises were sold to the Convent authorities and the refrigerator was also sold to the Convent.
n asked the Minister for
Munitions, upon notice -
In view of the urgent necessity for the repair of fences in rural areas, will he indicate what steps are being taken to increase the supply of 10-gauge plain galvanized wire to users in country districts in Queensland?
– The Man Power authorities have been informed of the very serious position in respect of fencing wire and they are making every endea vour to supply the additional man-power required by the wire-drawing companies. Until this man-power is available, the present rate of production cannot be increased. The matter has had the close attention of the Government for over eighteen months, but, despite all efforts it has not been possible to increase available man-power to date. However, in view of the cessation of hostilities, it is expected that there will be a considerable improvement in the near future.
The War: Japanese Surrender; Occupation Forces.
d. - On the 30th August the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) asked the following questions : -
Ts it correct that the head-quarters of the Royal Australian Air Force in Melbourne has no knowledge of how many men, if any. from No.81 Wing have volunteered for service in Japan?
No. 81 Wing with Mustang aircraft. In fact. the date of equipping that wing has been advanced by reason of the fact that original plans included provision for extra combat training which is not now required, hostilities having ceased. Re-equipment is now about to start and will, it is anticipated, be completed before ships may be available for the move of the wing to Japan.
Income Tax: Issue of Assessments.
y. - On the 30th August the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked me to say whether income tax assessments were held back prior to the end of the financial year ended the 30th June last because receipts from tax were £15,000,000 in excess of the budget estimate; whether cheques for large amounts forwarded to the Commissioner after the 18th June, 1945, were not banked until after the 1st July; and whether the tax returnable from income earned during the taxation year in question was largely in excess of the £15,000,000 announced as being in excess of the budget estimate. I told the honorable gentleman that I had no knowledge of it having been -suggested that income tux assessments .should be held back, that I had given no such instruction, and that I should not imagine that the Commissioner of Taxation would endeavour to withhold any assessment which should normally go out. I promised, however, to have a detailed reply to the questions prepared.
The Acting Commissioner of Taxation has now furnished the following specific replies to the questions asked : -
Since early in 1942, in addition to the extra four hours weekly which all Commonwealth officials gave voluntarily to the war effort officers of the Taxation Department have been required to work four additional hours weekly as an extension of-norma hours. In addition, from approximately October in each year until June of the following year, additional night overtime has been worked by assessing staffs and the staff necessary to keep work flowing to them.
The hours worked were recognized as being in excess of those necessary to ensure the safety of the health of the staff and under the constant strain the sick leave rate has increased.
In a period of acute shortages of man-power, accommodation and equipment, the department has been called upon to meet a greatly expanded programme of work whilst, at the amc time, inaugurating a system of payment at the source for not less than 1,000,000 taxpayers, the - change - to uniform tax and the adoption of the ‘entirely new system of payasyouearn.
Notwithstanding these tasks, some 1,275 officers of the department in various stages of training and development were released for service with the fighting forces. In the majority of cases these officers had to be replaced by females with little or no previous training.
In the circumstances it was inevitable that there should be some dislocation in the transition period and some arrears accumulated in the larger States of New South Wales and Victoria. These dislocations occurred mostly in the financial years 1943 and 1944. In the financial year ended on 30th June, 1945, with the help of releases from the fighting services, improved efficiency of temporary staffs and by a system of temporary interstate transfers the arrears have been prevented from increasing. It is expected that in the forthcoming year they will be largely decreased.
Trade with Italy.
– On the 31st August the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) asked a question relating to the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation of 18S3 between Great Britain and Italy.
I now desire to inform the honorable member that, after the outbreak of war with Italy, the treaty ceased to be effective. Whether it is annulled or merely suspended is a question of international law, on which opinions may possibly differ. In any event, the treaty had no operation during the war and the Commonwealth Government will take care to see that, in the treaty of peace, the interests of Australian citizens are fully safeguarded in relation to the treaty.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 September 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450906_reps_17_184/>.