17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J.. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 8 p.m., and read prayers.
representation in LONDON VlCTORY march.
-In view of the yeoman service rendered to Australia during the war by the Australian Women’s Land Army, in -work which was laborious and demanded great physical endurance, will the Prime Minister give earnest considerationto the representation of that body in the London victory march?
– The consideration which so f ar hasbeen given to the selection of the various services and units tobe represented in the London victory march does not embrace representation of the Australian Women’s Land Army. In view of what the honorable gentleman has said, I shall ask Ministers to re-examine the matter, in order to decide whether favorable consideration may be given . to his request.
Shift Work Dispute
– In the absence of the Minister for Labour and National Service, I ask the Prime Minister whether that honorable gentleman acted under instructions from the Government when he asked the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to effect a . settlement of the Bunnerong power-house dispute regarding shift work. Did Mr. Barwick, who appeared on behalf of the Sydney County Council, ask Judge O’Mara not to act upon the Minister’s request until the men had obeyed the law. and reported for shift work?
– I am not entirely familiar with all the details of this matter. The Minister for Labour and National Service mentioned to me the existence of the dispute. In a general discussion with him, I said that the policy of the Government being that industrial disputes should be settled by arbitration, the matter should be dealt with ‘by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and he should endeavour to have it brought before that tribunal. I cannot say offhand what legal steps have been taken to have the matter brought before the court, but I shall obtain what information I can andlet the honorable member have it as early as possible.
Richards Industries Limited
– The Adelaide Advertiser reported last Saturday that Richards Industries Limited would probably be obliged to retrench all of its employees who were engaged on motor body work owing to a shortage of sheet steel. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping state whether Richards Industries Limited has quantities of sheet steel on the wharf at Port Kembla, but unfortunately cannot ensure a regular flow of the material because of the unavailability of shipping to transport it? If so, will the Minister ensure the delivery of this steel, and, in consequence, continuous employment in this industry? The report to which I have referred also stated that 800 tons of galvanized iron awaits shipment to South Australia. Will the Minister ascertain whether this statement is correct; and if it is, will he have deliveries expedited?
– I have not read the , report referred to by the honorable member, but I shall have the matter investigated immediately. If the motor body building industry is being threatened with unemployment because of lack of steel, I shall suggest to the Minister for Supply and Shipping that shipping space should be provided as soon as possible for that purpose, and I shall do the same with regard to galvanized iron.
Mr.FADDEN. - In view of reports of a threatened strike and a consequent shortage of meat in Brisbane after this week, and the curtailment, of meat shipments to Great Britain, what action has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture taken to give effect to the promise made to me when I asked about this matter last week?
– Following that promise, my department has been in close touch with the position in Queensland and has followed it through until to-day, when the matter came before the court in Queensland. I understand that representatives of the two parties to the dispute were to bo called together compulsorily, but I’ am not aware of the result of the hearing. The Meat Controller has had conversations on the telephone about the matter con- ‘ stantly, but unfortunately he has been unable to contact the manager of the meat works at Moree. We hope that a serious strike willbe avoided.
Discharges - Army Detention Camps
– Is the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction in a position to give to the House the latest figures regarding the demobilization of the armed forces?
– The total number of men discharged and demobilized since the cessation of fighting to the end of last’ week was 360,000.
– Is it the intention of the Government to give early consideration to the release of service personnel in detention camps?
– My colleague, the Minister for the Army, is unavoidably absent, but I understand that he has this matter under consideration. I shall bring the honorable member’s request to his. notice and ask him to expedite a decision in regard to it.
– Has the
Minister for Information read the report in last week’s press that the DirectorGeneral of Information. Mr. Bonney, refused to make available to Australian newspapers the text of speeches and commentaries broadcast to the world over the short-wave service ? If so, in view of the fact that the public has to meet the cost of that service, does not the Minister con sider that the people are entitled to know what is being broadcast ? Will he instruct the Director-General to make available to newspapers, for the information of honorable members and the public generally, any short-wave broadcasts of which particulars are requested ?
– I know of the complaint by the press about the refusal of the Director-General of Information to make available to them scripts of broadcasts made over short-wave stations under the control of the Department of Information. There is, on the notice-paper, a question which deals in part with that matter, but the question of the honorable member for Wide Bay has introduced other aspects. Press representatives have been in the habit of viewing these scripts at the office of the Department of Information in Melbourne, and have taken up a very considerable amount of time of the officers of the department who have been required to answer all sorts of questions. The newspapers having obtained the information published, as usual, what suited them, and suppressed the generality of the story. It was in order to save the taxpayer’s money by preventing the time of officers from being wasted in this way that I agreed with the Director-General of Information that we would not make scripts available, nor answer questions regarding them by press representatives, unless the press published the answers we gave, and not a distorted version. I have no objection to making available to members of Parliament copies of scripts that are broadcast over the short-wave stations; but if the newspapers want to know what is being broadcast, they can purchase short-wave receiving sets, and pay members of their own staffs to monitor the broadcasts.
– During the week-end, the Minister for Cdmmerce and Agriculture made a statement about the fat stock marketing difficulties in Melbourne, in the course of which he said -
The ink was scarcely dry on the agreement, before certain interests commenced a movement to frustrate the agreement. Those interests were making every effort to induce producers not to forward stock to Melbourne.
Does not the Minister consider that a vague accusation of that sort is likely to do more’ harm than good? If such interests are at work, will he name them, as we should like to know ?
– Being aware of the honorable member’s knowledge of the fat stock trade in Victoria, I had it in mind to askhim that question at the first opportunity.
– Will the Minister state what action the Government has taken to ensure a speedy restoration of normal meat supplies to the city of Melbourne?
– All possible legitimate steps are being taken to that end, and we have also appealed to the common sense of the stock producers in Victoria. The representatives of the stock agents in Victoria asked for certain conditions which I refused to concede. I stand by the agreement entered into at the recent conference, and have undertaken that immediately normal trading is resumed at Newmarket the acquisition order would: be withdrawn. I hope that common sense will prevail. The indications are that the yardings will soon be better than they have been quite recently.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the recurrence of terrific floods on the Clarence River, whichhas already risen several feet higher than during the disastrous flood of last year, the Commonwealth Government will expedite the investigation of the schemes for flood prevention and power production at present being carried out by the governments of New South Wales, Queensland and the Commonwealth, by making more engineers available from the Services, even if only on leave, for work in connection with the Clarence and nearby rivers, notably the Macleay? In view of the fact that most of the owners of holdings which have been again flooded by the rise of various coastal rivers have not yet been able to complete the repair of fences destroyed last year, will the Prime Minister have an examination made of the position regarding supplies of galvanized barbed wire held by Commonwealth and
State departments so. that stocks may be released to farmers, thus enabling them to restore production, and use to the best advantage such fodder crops as still remain ?
– I think it is true that practically all the technical officers asked for by the various State governments have already been released, the suggestion for their release having first come from the Commonwealth Coordinator General of Works. If there are some still remaining’ in the services whose release is deemed to be necessary, I shall have the matter examined.
Except in respect of nation-wide catastrophies it has been the practice to leave to the States the provision of assistance to sufferers from floods, droughts, and bush-fires. In special circumstances during my term as Treasurer, and, I believe, previously, the Commonwealth has made grants to the States to assist necessitous cases. So far, no special request for assistance has been submitted to the Commonwealth on behalf of the section of the community referred to by the right honorable gentleman. Should special grounds for assistance be advanced, the Government will consider them.
I shall ask the appropriate Minister to have an investigation made with a view to seeing whether barbed wire and other fencing materials can be made available as requested by the right honorable gentleman.
– Since the report of
Mr. Justice Davidson on the coal mining industry has revealed that in Queensland coal-mines gassy conditions still exist, naked lights are used, fans are stopped at week-ends, ventilation is often defective and temperatures are excessive, serious dust hazards exist, and that, generally, mining methods in that State. are not so advanced as in the other . States, will the Prime Minister approach the Queensland Minister of Mines with a view to ensuring that the existing archaic and highly dangerous conditions will be remedied as quickly as possible, so that danger to men may be avoided and coal production substantially increased, thus facilitating the speedy rehabilitation of the men of the fighting services ?
– As the honorable member knows, the report of Mr. Justice Davidson is a voluminous document, of which only a limited number of copies is available. It is hoped1 that additional copies will be published soon so that honorable members, as well as Ministers, may have an opportunity to study the report.
– I read the report during the week-end.
– Until the honorable member asked his question I was not aware that the report referred to the matters mentioned by him. I shall arrange “for that portion of the report to be examined specially. The Government will consider the whole report as soon as possible.
– When does the Prime Minister expect copies of Mr. Justice Davidson’s report to be available in sufficient numbers for members to peruse them? Will the Prime Minister undertake to give !o the House an opportunity, at an early date - if possible before Easter - of some general discussion of the very important matters dealt with>in the report ?
– Every effort is- being made to have the report printed. It is essential, I consider, that before a discussion of the report is inaugurated, a copy should be available to each honorable member. Because of its size, the printing of the report presents some difficulties, but if the printing and distribution can be carried out prior to the adjournment of the House foi- the Easter recess, an opportunity for discussion, will be given..
Donations to Patriotic Bodies
– In view of the fact that donations have been made to patriotic bodies to enable them to purchase travelling rugs, &c, for presentation to ex-service men and women, is the Treasurer in favour of waiving the sales tax on such gifts?
– Because of his short parliamentary experience the honorable member is apparently unaware that Treasurers are seldom in favour of waiving the. collection of taxes om any article. The most that I can undertake to do is to give consideration to this matter if the honorable member will supply me with details of specific instances.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Army ascertain whether the Department of the Army has any surplus stocks of iron fencing posts, and, if so, will the Minister take steps to have them made available, through the appropriate authorities set up for the distribution of materials of this kind, to those who have suffered losses of fencing in the flooded areas’ of Western Victoria ?’
– I shall bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for the Army. I am, quite sure that if there are surplus stocks, the Minister will arrange for them to be made available in the manner suggested, by the honorable member.
– Is the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, who is Minister controlling the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, aware that a lambing disease called dystokia is affecting breeding ewes in the fat-lamb raising districts of south-western Australia, and is now appearing in Kangaroo Island? I understand that research work into this disease,, which affects lambing by losses as high as 70 and 80 per cent., has been carried out by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for the past two years but without success. In view of the statements of Sir Albert Howard in An Agricultural Testament and of Lady Balfour in her book The Living Soil, will the Minister instruct the Council for Scientific and. Industrial Research to have an area of land set aside in the dystokia-affected region where only organic manures will be used for a period,, so that ewes affected by the disease- may be put on to this organically manured land to , ascertain whether a cure- can be effected by preventive methods, as the experiments of the Council for Scientific and Indus- 1 trial Research with normal curative methods appear to have failed?
– The honorable member has mentioned some kind of testament. I do not know to what bible he was referring, and I do not recognize the disease as he pronounced it, although I possibly have read something about it in the reports of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The council has tackled ‘a large number of problems relating to the sheep industry; but scientific research does not always result in absolute remedies being formulated. Unfortunately, many people believe that it is necessary only to state a scientific problem and a solution will be found. Scientific research does not always have that happy result. The council makes every endeavour to combat the ravages of all diseases affecting sheep.’
– Will the Minister place my suggestion before the council?’
– I shall ask the council whether anything can be done along the lines suggested by the honorable gentleman.
– I ask the Minister for’ Post-war Reconstruction whether considerable unrest exists among trainees at the post-war re-establishment school for accountants at Petersham, Sydney, and whether the basic cause of their dissatisfaction is the small payment received by them which necessitates their drawing upon their deferred pay? Has the Christmas vacation of those students been considerably shortened? If those are facts, will the Minister cause an inquiry to be made with the object of ending the possibility of discontent amongst those ex-servicemen ?
– Complaint by the honorable member of the matters mentioned has been made to me. In fact, last week I had an interview with two representatives of that training centre who came to Canberra to see me. They made several complaints which I am having examined. 1 point out that the allowances paid to re-establishment trainees were decided upon after close investigation, and arc believed by the Government Co be fairly liberal.- They are related to many other allowances paid by the Government, and if they were raised the others would have to be raised too. However, I assure the honorable member that the matters mentioned by him are being examined by my department.
Permanent Appointment of Temporary Officers
– Bef ore last October the Public Service Act provided that returned soldiers who had been temporary employees of the Public Service - I refer notably to the Postal Department - were entitled to be considered for appointment to permanent positions after two years’ service. Apparently, in October, alterations were made which prevented many men, who for two years before their enlistment had been temporary officers, from becoming eligible for appointment to the permanent staff, unless they pass a competitive examination. Will the Prime Minister have this situation examined with a view to exempting’ from the necessity to pass an examination before qualifying for permanent appointments those returned soldiers who before enlisting had two years’ temporary’ service?
– I confess unfamiliarity with all the details of the matter raised by the honorable gentleman, but I shall - make arrangements to discuss it with the Public Service Board and try to let him have a full reply as soon as possible.
Sales and Holdings by the Army and the Allied Works Council.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping supply to the House particulars of the numbers of motor vehicles held by the Army and the Allied Works Council in Australia and the islands to the north at the end of hostilities, classified according to the different makes and types, about 160 in all, together with the total numbers sold and the net prices received by the Government in each classification; also the numbers and particulars of the vehicles that the Army still intends to declare surplus?
– Some of the information desired by the honorable member is very detailed, and I doubt whether it can be provided. I also doubt whether any estimate can be made of the number of vehicles that the Army will declare surplus to requirements, because requirements are not fixed but are related to the size of the defence forces in the post-war period, and that is still under the consideration of the Government. I shall have inquiries made and whatever information can be provided will be provided.
– Last Thursday, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) asked that arrangements he made for the speedier delivery of New Zealand newspapers for filing in the Parliamentary Library. I have consulted with the Librarian, who informed me that, with the establishment of an air-mail service from New Zealand on four days a week, arrangements are being made to secure New Zealand papers by air. Previous delays in the receipt of such newspapers were due entirely to irregular shipping facilities.
– In the absence of the Minister for the Army, can the Prime Minister informthe House whether the Government has decided to permit civilian rifle clubs to resume shooting at Liverpool and other rifle ranges? Can he indicate whether clubs will be able to resume shooting at those ranges on the 1st July next, under the same conditions as those which existed prior to the outbreak of the last war? In view of the anxiety of rifle clubs to prepare for the resumption of shooting, and of the time required to prepare the ranges for civilian use. will the Prime Minister make an early announcement of the Government’s policy ?
– I understood from the Minister for the Army that the general’ policy relating to rifle clubs, and their formation and continuance, is the subject of a special report which he expected to receive either late last week or early this week. I am not able to say what the contents of the report are, but the Minister has promised to inform the
House as early as possible of the Government’s decision. The particular matters raised by the honorable member for Wentworth ‘ will be investigated, and an answer will be supplied.
Construction of Aerodromes
– The local governing authorities of various inland towns have made many requests- for financial assistance for the construction of aerodromes so that inland aerial services may be established.Can the Minister for Air give an assurance of early assistance for this purpose, thereby recognizing the needs of country towns?
– When various local governing bodies have made those requests from time to time, the Department ofCivil Aviation has informed them that the Commonwealth is prepared to grant financial assistance only when aerodromes are required for particular services. Whenever such requests are submitted to the department, officers are sent to investigate the desires of the municipalities concerned, and reports are furnished to them indicating the most suitable localities for the aerodromes, and the best method of construction. It is not the policy of the Government or the department to assist local authorities in the construction of aerodromes other than those that . are required for regular air routes. Most of the country aerodromes in the Commonwealth, as in other countries, have been developed by municipalities.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me what is the sterling balance to-day between Australia and Great Britain compared with the position in 1939 ? Is it a fact that under the import licensing policy pursued by the British Government, certain articles available for export by Australia to Great Britain are at present prohibited from entering the United Kingdom? Is that policy based on the desire to conserve sterling, and, if so, are. negotiations in progress- between the two Governments for the removal of restrictions other than the normal customs duties, thereby allowing the resumption of ordinary trade?
– Offhand, I am not able to state what our sterling balance was in 1939, but I shall endeavour to obtain the information for the honorable member. In recent times, the sterling balance has been between £180,000,000 and £190,000,000.
– In favour of Australia?
– Yes. I have not received any complaint regarding import licences; most countries, of course, have some system of import licences. Perhaps, licensing has been applied to some degree in the United Kingdom, but I have no knowledge that it has been used against Australia for the purpose of preventing the accumulation of sterling balances in London. However, I shall examine each of the points raised by the honorable member and supply the information he desires.
– I point out that in Queensland the State and Commonwealth electoral rolls are not uniform. Whilst the police collect names for enrolment on the State roll, various organizations collect names for enrolment on the Commonwealth roll. At demobilization centres State officers are arranging for demobilized personnel to sign applicationsfor enrolment on State rolls for their respective electorates,’ but, apparently, service personnel upon demobilization are not offered facilities to enrol on the Commonwealth rolls. Will the Minister for the Interior ensure that the Commonwealth Electoral Branch will be equally as efficient as the State electoral authorities in preparing Commonwealth rolls by providing similar facilities to service personnel upon demobilization?
Mr.JOHNSON.- The matter mentioned by the honorable member was the subject of representations to me a few weeks ago by a deputation of Labour members from Queensland. The position was examined, and it was found that Queensland was the only State which was adopting the practice indicated by the honorable member. It was readily agreed that any attempt to deal with the position must be made on a Commonwealth-wide basis.
Consequently, it was decided that no action should be taken ; a,t the moment to adopt the Queensland practice.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to alter the Constitution by empowering the Parliament to make laws for the provision of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services, benefits to students and family allowances.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to alter the Constitution by empowering the Parliament to make laws providing for the organized marketing of primary products, unrestricted by section ninety- two of the Constitution.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion by (Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to alter the Constitution by empowering the Parliament to make laws with respect to terms and conditions of employment in industry.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 22nd March (vide page 565), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the following paper be printed: -
– Honorable members will readily realize that the statement by the Minister . for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) had . a certain amount of value as a report on the development of international events since his previous statement to the Houseon the subject. He brought us abreast of modern international trends. But when he departed from factual statements, and sought to define Government policy and to justify certain actions which he had taken, he came into the field, of criticism. The Government has completely lost the initiative in this debate. It has been forced on to the defensive by the very able criticism by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), who made, probably, one of the most brilliant addresses that he has ever delivered in this House and started a line of debate that has been followed by succeeding speakers not only on this side of the House but also on the Government side. The tenor of the speeches has shown clearly that the Government has lost the initiative. The two major points around which debate has revolved were stated clearly by the Leader of the Opposition. The first was that the value qf the Security Council of the United Nations, m m>aintaining international peace and security was based purely upon an experiment. The second point related to the underlying purpose of the Soviet Union in its policy of territorial expansion. Speaker after speaker on the Government side of the House has sought to- prove that the United Nations organization is not an experiment. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin), with ponderous oratory, went to great lengths in attempting to convince us- that we are wrong. Government supporters also sought to prove that the -Soviet’s- expansionist policy is not aggressive. Apart, -from statements of historical facts,- which I commend, that was the central theme- of the ministerial statement. Ministers and their followers seem to believe that our speeches, in support of the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition are merely an attempt to prove that the Government policy is wrong and’ ipso facto anti-British.. Notwithstanding the extraordinary speech made (fusing this debate by the Minister for
Transport . (Mr. Ward)— presumably a responsible Minister of the Government -I -do not say, nor do- other .honorable members on this, side of the House say,- that ‘the. Government is- anti-British.;; but it cannot be denied that the unqualified! observations- of some honorable members opposite^ certainly of someMinisters, leave them open to- the gravest suspicion. I have no desire to delve into the -archives of this Parliament in search of material with which to confront honorable members opposite with their disloyal utterances in the distant past. The anti-British attitude voiced by many of them in relation to important questions of Empire unity and solidarity is in the records of the Parliament for all to read. The country knows just as do honorable members- that the policy of this Government is directed by the Australian Labour party which has frequently made clear its attitude to the British Empire. On the 24th March, 1940, at a time when Great Britain was fighting with its back to the- wall in its endeavour to preserve the rights of democracy, when it stood alone against the onslaughts of Fascism, and’ there had been friendly collaboration between Soviet Russia and Germany, a resolution was carried by the New South Wales -branch of the Australian Labour party by 195 votes to> SS - a not insignificant majority - in the following terms : -
We declare that the Australian people have nothing, to gain from, the continuance of the war. The ma.nagera.iint of this war in the hands of the anti-Labour Menzies Government;, in association . with the anti-Labour Chamberlain Government, means tha.t the war is being pursued in the interests of- big finance and monopolists. Conference is opposed to Australian participation in oversea conflicts. The Labour party unhesitatingly demands tha.t no Australian troops bc permitted to leave Australia..
If honorable members opposite cannot read into that resolution a definite antiBritish attitude they have no understanding of the meaning of words. That was the considered opinion of the controlling body to which honorable members opposite owe allegiance. Let us consider the opinion expressed about that time by one who is now a responsible Minister of the present Government, the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Collings). On the 1st December, 1939, after the war had broken out and the world was in turmoil, the honorable senator is reported in Hansard as having said -
Those observations were made not by an irresponsible private member but by the then Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, who is now a responsible Minister of the Government. How, then, can honorable members opposite protest when we charge them with having said certain things and having taken certain actions which are indicative of an anti-British bias? The present Resident Minister in London., Mi1. Beasley, held much the same views. On the 23rd September, 1935, during the debate on the Italo-Abyssinian dispute the right honorable .gentleman is reported in Hansard to have said -
Tlie -language of Downing-street is not the language of Australia, and tlie one .thing the people of this country want to know is - Has the Government committed Australia to participation in a second world war? . . Australia must declare and maintain a policy of absolute isolation, and strict neutrality. With thu wars of imperialism it can have Jio concern.
Those observations must make suspect certain member’s of this Government. The very basis of the Labour party itself must give rise to the gravest .suspicion. Therefore, it is useless for honorable members opposite, when charged with having adopted a certain attitude towards the United Nations and to certain of the great powers which are showing definite hostility to the British Empire, to say, “We resent the charge that we are anti-British”. The records speak for themselves, and express in no uncertain terms the feelings of those honorable gentlemen. My reason fer making these observations is merely to answer some of the statements that hare been made by responsible Ministers. T do not charge the Government with being pro-Russian, although, in the light of recent events, the defence by some of its members of the actions of the Soviet Union must make them suspect.
The first point that has to be considered is, .whether the United Nations is merely an experiment, and whether it has the requisite powers to ensure security and peace for the world. Different speakers have sought to defend the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) on the ground that this organization can, and ultimately will, achieve the noble distinction of safeguarding the security of tlie world. Let us consider the remarks of the right honorable gentleman himself on the subject. At page 10 of his statement, he said -
The Security Council is not yet organized for. its supremely important function of directing the collective force of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security.
No matter how it may be organized, it cannot maintain international’ peace and security, because it has not the requisite power. The veto, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has pointed out, is one of .the fundamental features of the agreement that had to be accepted before the United Nations could come into existence, and because of its very nature it must make the Security Council impotent. . The Minister -went on to say -
In tlie meantime the main functions of the Security Council will be tlie settlement and adjustment of international disputes by means of consultation and conciliation. It can prove n.n effective instrument for these purposes-
Only iii respect of consultation and conciliation, mark you. The right honorable gentleman -acknowledges that at present the United Nations has not the power to achieve international security or peace- - providing that each of the five permanent members carries out its undertaking impliedly given at ‘San Francisco and refrains from exercising its veto oppressively or capriciously.
Honorable members are aware of how the last conference in London was conducted. Certainly, the atmosphere of it was not conducive to conciliation, because certain of the nations represented at it acted capriciously and used the veto oppressively. The right honorable gentleman acknowledges that the Security Council cannot make any decisions; and of course it cannot take any action if the veto is applied. Therefore, it can be no more than a forum where international ideologies, objectives and hatreds can be discussed and exploited. All that we can hope is that calm reason will prevail, and that the members of the Council will approach the different subjects that are brought forward for discussion without the intention of benefiting merely their own people. The Minister for External Affairs has claimed that certain action taken by the Soviet Union was designed to promote the welfare of its own people. I remind him that if one nation can adopt such an attitude it will be open to other nations to -act similarly. If all nations attend the meetings of the Council “with the sole object of advancing the welfare of their own people and preserving their own ideologies, recrimination must be aroused and there will not be the slightest advance towards international security. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) has said that the greatest deterrent of a direct threat against the peace of the world is that any nation contemplating such a course would have to answer for it at the bar of world opinion. I admire the honorable gentleman for his idealism, and the >seriousness of his approach to matters of this sort. I suggest, however, that he should keep his feet on the ground and deal with practical matters, hot soar into the realms of fantasy. He has used the argument that was used by the supporters of the ill-fated League of Nations. That body had far greater power than has the United Nations as we know it to-day. What it lacked was the strength to enforce the power which it possessed. It applied sanctions against Italy because of that country’s invasion of Abyssinia, but it had not the necessary strength to make them effective. The United Nations has the strength, but not the power; therefore, it is not in any better position than that in which the League of Nations found itself. Does the Minister for the Navy seriously advance the argument that the greatest deterrent of a direct threat to the peace of the world is the fact that the aggressor would have to appear at the bar of world opinion? Let us consider the action of the Soviet Union, on which much of this debate has centred. Russia is one of the “Big Three”. What do its nationals know of world opinion ? A complete censorship has been clamped down on them. Would they be influenced by news from which all adverse world opinion had been carefully expunged in order to substitute well-chosen Soviet propaganda? Would the representatives of the Soviet Union be deterred by the opinions of their own people? Their people cannot have any opinions of their own, or at least none that would be of any value, because they are not informed in regard to world opinion. Without concerted action, how could world opinion be aroused so as to alter the ideology of a nation such as the
Soviet Union, or, for that matter, any other nation? The ideology of a nation cannot be altered merely by the expression of world opinion. That was proved in respect of Nazi Germany; something more potent was required. To say that the greatest deterrent is that they would have to face up to the bar of world opinion is to express a beautiful ideal that is impossible of realization. Honorable members will recall the recent discussion in London at the last meeting of the Security Council. We remember Russia’s accusation against the. United Kingdom that the presence of British troops in Greece constituted a threat to international peace. There was a concrete example of the Security Council’s lack of power. I quote the following extract from The World To-day, a Chatham House review, issued this month -
If tlie permanent members of the Council - provided they are not parties to a dispute - continue to make use of the right of veto in the way in which Mr. Vishinsky used it on the resolution about British troops in Greece, it will be impossible for the council, not only to take action, but even to record the agreement, which in this instance appears to have been unanimously reached by the members of the council not party to the dispute, that the charges brought before it were unfounded. In other words, an “ honourable discharge “ for the defendant will always be impossible. Further, as the concurrent votes of all the permanent members of the council are necessary to a decision, it may be asked why a permanent member should bring a charge against another if no judgment is to be pronounced. To this, the answer may be that the council here exercises purely consultative functions, and that the establishment of a consultative forum has great, value.
The concluding words are those used by the Minister for the Navy and by the Minister for External Affairs, but the fact remains that, although charges brought before the Security Council were considered by a majority of the members of the council to be unfounded, the defendant could not in any circumstances be given an “honorable discharge”, because a veto could be exercised with the result that no decision could.be reached regarding the matter. Honorable members will recall that the Soviet representative sought to veto a vote on a motion drafted by the Egyptian delegate to the effect that the council, whilst considering that the presence of British troops iia. Greece did not constitute a menace to international peace and security, took note of the declaration of the delegate of the United Kingdom that the British troops would be withdrawn from Greece as soon as the reason for their presence had disappeared. It has been proved conclusively that the power- claimed to lie in the council to discuss such a case is of no value, because discussion alone can contribute nothing towards the peace or security of the world. The council will prove of great value only if the nations refrain from propaganda with regard to their own ideologies and their hatred of the ideologies of other nations. The United Nations organization is only an experiment. True, it is a glorious experiment, and we can only work and strive to ensure that ultimately power shall be vested in the council to enable it to preserve the peace and security of the world. In the meantime, however, we should not delude ourselves into believing that the organization already possesses that power. For the present, notwithstanding the glorious dream, our security as a member of the British Empire lies , in our own strength and in that of the Empire.
As to the underlying purpose of the Soviet in its policy of territorial expansion, the Minister for External Affairs has stated in clear terms the Government’s opinion as to Russia’s intentions and purposes. In the course of his statement to the House he said -
Now having lived through the great period of war-time partnership which promised a permanent understanding between the three great powers on all fundamentals, one is presented almost daily with the monotonous question - does Russia intend aggression?
Having no clear evidence to the contrary and having during . the last four years come to know some of Russia’s greatest statesmen, I take the view that the Soviet Union’s policy is directed towards self-protection and security against future attack. In my opinion., its desireis to develop its own economy and to improve the welfare of its peoples.
The duty of every government is to promote the welfare of its people, but, as a signatory to the Atlantic Charter, the obligations resting on Russia are far greater than that. They are not only national but also international in character. The Soviet is committed to seek no aggrandizement, territorial or otherwise; to seek no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned; and to recognize the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they shall live. I stress those three points; but Russia is also committed to the further principle that the sovereign rights of self-government shall be restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them. Those are the obligations into which Russia has entered under the Charter, and I believe that they express rightly the spirit of the democracies and all people of goodwill throughout the world.
– I hope not.
– Then the honorable member does not believe in the ideals of the Atlantic Charter.
– I do not.
– I consider that those ideals, once having been subscribed to, should be given effect; otherwise the Charter should not have been hailed., as it was, as a new charter of freedom throughout the world. How is it possible for Russia to reconcile with those obligations its action in the annexation of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and East Poland ? In the light of those annexations the principles expressed in the Charter are empty words, and to the unfortunate people of those countries are a mockery and a sham. The Minister seeks to condone the actions of the ‘Soviet by saying that it was purely defensive. Let us see how the Soviet is building up its spheres of influence within those countries as a defensive measure, remembering always that it was one of the signatories to the Atlantic Charter. Take the example, which could be multiplied, of two countries ‘that lie to the east of what has been referred to as the “ iron curtain which at present divides Europe in twain “. It is a line drawn roughly along the River Elbe to Trieste. To the. west of that line democratic influence prevails. To the east the Soviet has undisputed control, and no political party except those that can secure the Soviet’s- approval is allowed to exist. This Soviet sphere of influence includes Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. Poland. . Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Albania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and portions of Austria and Germany, with a total population of over 130,000,000.. That is a tidy slice of
Europe to take over as a purely defensive measure ! Yet the Minister for External Affairs condones the action as purely defensive, and as one taken to safeguard the economic welfare of the Russian people. Russia has applied within those countries a- policy of forcing the adoption of the Soviet regime through the agency of sovietized police and sovietized armies. Some idea of what is happening may be gained from a remark made by Mr. Churchill and reported in the American News Week. The statement, which was made at the opening of the last British Parliament, contained this passage -
Guarded accounts of. what is happening have filtered through, but it is not impossible that tragedy on a prodigious scale is imposing itself behind the iron curtain which at present divides Europe in twain.
This tragedy becomes apparent when we read reports of the kind made by Mr. Mark Ethridge, President Truman’s special emissary, reported in the Sydney newspapers as follows : -
President Truman’s special emissary, Mr. Mark Ethridge, made a disturbing report on conditions in Bulgaria where he discovered that Communists who thirteen months ago had a mere 15,000 members, ruled with the aid of a small group of soldiers, socialists, and mercenary job hunters.
Mr. Ethridge found that practically all the peasants, most of the socialists and the great majority of the bourgeois opposed communism, and that the courts had sentenced to death 3,000 and imprisoned (i.000 people because of their opposition.
Mr. Ethridge was told that 10,000 people had been massacred without trial, that police practised torture on a large scale, that extortion was common, that thousands of people had been kept in concentration camps, and millions of pounds worth of property had been confiscated.
These are the observations, not of a journalist, but of the special emissary of the President of the United States of America, and. he is describing some of the defensive measures which were condoned by the Minister for External Affairs. T have here also some extracts from an article published, in the New York Socialist-Democratic paper, 7’h 8 New Loader. The article was written by Mr. R. H. Markham, who devoted a considerable parr of his life to (.’durational activities in the Balkans, and is considered to he one of the foremost authorities on that area. He was Deputy Director of the United States Office of War Information in the Middle East during the war, and is a correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor. In his article he refers to a. Dr. Dimitroff, but needless to say the Dr. George Dimitroff mentioned in the article is quite different from the infamous G. Dimitrov, the Bulgarian Communist who led the pro-Hitler activities of the Communist Internationale during the early part of the war. Reporting a conversation which he had with Dimitroff, Mr. Markham wrote -
What could the Communists give Bulgaria i The land is all divided and owned by the men and women who till it. There is not much industry, no urban proletariat, no aristocracy, no large group of favoured financiers. Most wealth, such as mines and forests and most public utilities, as well as the railroads and telegraph system, is State-owned, There is : ill efficient State-owned Peasant Bank and also a. Co-operative Bunk for little businessmen and artisans. What we need is a good, honestefficient, peasant government Dimitroff asserted. He was for peasant nomocracy with full freedom and justice.
– Was he not the leader of the Bulgarian Country party?
– He was. the leader of the Bulgarian Peasant party which some might regard as analogous tothe Australian Country party. Referring, to the efforts which the Russians were making to suppress Dr. Dimitroff, the writer states -
They are trying to do to Dr. Dimitroff what they have done to almost every other influential non-Communist leader in Bulgaria.. They want to add him to the purge. They have raised gallows in every town and city. They have drawn up a list of prominent teachers, lawyers, doctors, merchants, farmers, in every community, who might oppose Communist tyranny, have called them before improvised “ people’s courts condemned andi executed them as “ enemies of the people And now they want to add one more gallowswith Dimitroff, who risked his life for theAllies;, hanging from it.
The tragedy of Dimitroff is the tragedy of Bulgaria, and indeed of all thesmall nations to the east of the iron line. For Bulgaria is not alone in its travail. Take the case of Roumania. Mr.. Leigh White, in an article in the Saturday Evening Post, discusses the situation in Roumania in these terms -
Only newspapers which have no polities or which support the Communist Party Line arepermitted to be published. Public gatherings for any- purpose other than to further the- cuds of the new regime are forbidden. . Timpul (The. Times), long respected for its independent editorial policy, lias been suppressed. S^ine provincial papers and . two magazines were suppressed on the same day as Timpul. Karl.ier Viiiorul and Dreptatea’, the Liberal and Peasant Party organs were banned because their editors had opposed the line set down by the Communist leaders of the so-called Sutiomil Democratic Front iuliu Maniu, president of the Peasant party, recently said : “ The only difference between the Russian and German occupation is that when the Germans were here we had a Rumanian Dictator. Now, instead of Antonescu, we have Vyshinsky “. He predicted that if a free election were held this party would poll at least 70 per cent, of the votes. But he added that he saw no chance rif a free election, now that the National Democratic Front had taken power.
In the days of Antonescu, people lived in terrorof the night arrests which the Iron Guard used to carry out. To-day they live in terror of the night arrests being carried nut by the Citizens Militia, in collaboration with the NKVD - the Russian Commissariat of Internal Security. * Extension of time granted.)*
It is evident that the action of Russia in this regard i.s something much more significant than the purely defensive action referred to by the Minister for External Affairs. Speaking of Communist pressure in establishing “sympathetic “ governments in adjoining countries, and of the replacement of Radescu by Groza, a puppet of the Soviet, Mr. Leigh “White writes -
When Mi’. Vyshinsky returned to Bucharest three days later. Radescu waited until he had learned the import of his unexpected visit ami then sought sanctuary in the British IVcjflition. He seems to huve had £ood reasons tn fear for his life.
Vyshinsky demanded an immediate audience with the King. Informing King Michael that lie was acting on written instruction from Marshal Stalin, Vyshinsky delivered the following ultimatum: “The King would be given until (1- o’clock that night to announce Kiidescu’s resignation and until 8 o’clock to an noli nee his appointment of a successor”. It whs then 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
Later that day the King was informed by l he f-‘ovipt Embassy that he had been expected in appoint Petre Groza. When the King delayed. Vyshinsky returned to the palace to warn him that his refusal to appoint Groza would lie regarded as a “hostile’ act which would make it. impossible for him, Vyshinsky. in ‘ guarantee the ‘furtlwr iuilepoiidviive of
Such is the method employed by Russia for allegedly defensive purposes against rhf unfortunate countries which have come within its sphere of influence. Yet the Minister said, that the taking over by Russia of the control of the destinies of 130,000,000 people is merely a defensive act. As it is difficult to get reliable information concerning what is happening, we must rely on these reports because, asMr. Churchill said, “ Only guarded accounts have filtered through the iron curtain”. Russia’s actions in the Soviet spheres of influence are subject to the strictest censorship. Mr. Leigh White, a staff correspondent of the Chicago Daily News, has made certain exposures, as have also- Mr. Truman’s emissaries. All this is history; but we know it to have been a prelude to what happened in Greece and Persia. It is true, as we are frequently reminded, that history has a habit of repeating itself. In his speech the Minister for External Affairs said, “ Peace is not merely the absence of war, but depends upon freedom from want and unemployment “. He might have added freedom from fear. By many people the term “ freedom from fear “ is interpreted as freedom from the fear of invasion, but that is not all that it means. In Europe millions of people live in fear of the secret police, and of the deprivation of life and liberty. They live in fear of brutality and assassination if they dare to stand up for the preservation of the liberties of mankind. And so, when the Minister couches a lance in favour of the Soviet, he must make sure that his lance is of strong and seasoned timber. Judging by the history of the unfortunate countries east of the “ iron curtain the lance that he has couched is a frail and rotten instrument.
As I see it, the aim of the Soviet expansionist policy can be divided into two phases. First, Russia aims at improving its immediate position against aggression. Russian policy takes the form of ruthless suppression and annexation of nations too weak to resist. That policy gives to Russia an excellent, springboard from «hich to launch an attack should the -econd part of i rs policy not be successful.. Thar part is the disruption of the democracies west of the “iron curtain” by creating dir-ford and economic confusion :.inong them. That is done by the establishment and direction of Communist groups throughout the world, particularly among the many millions of coloured peoples. It is not without significance that, conjointly with this policy, there is an . undisguised attack upon British interests wherever they may be found. That policy is being pursued at a time when the British Empire has been weakened and impoverished by war. Russia hopes to be successful in making world communism a reality without the fear of an atomic war. The seeds of disruption have been sown, and are being sown, in India, Canada and Australia, and, indeed, in every part of the British Empire. Can any one conceive of a greater disservice to the Empire, or to the democracies generally,’ than to have within the British Empire a government which, by word and action, merely for the sake of a, temporary moment of glory, supports the policy of a nation whose every action is aimed at the ultimate destruction of the British Empire, which stands as the bulwark of democratic ideology?
.- I listened with interest to the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), and I hone that nothing that I .<dia.ll say in criticism of his views will be construed as being anti-British. The sparse attendance of honorable members in the chamber reflects the ‘ interest of the Australian people in international affairs. In my opinion, the delegates who assembled at San Francisco, and, more recently, at the United Nations conference in London, were the greatest band of hypocrites that ever gathered together at a convention. Not one person who attended either conference went with any authority to decide world affairs. If any delegate who attended either conference gave away one tiny bit of the authority of his nation without the consent of the people, the nation would not have supported him. He would not have been game to return if he gave anything away. The proceedings .were in the. nature of temporizing, because not one of the representatives of the 51 nations who assembled had any authority to make any sacrifice on behalf of his country. In the circumstances, the results of the gatherings could not be other than nebulous. At neither San Francisco nor London could anything be done which would be of international significance. The things that call out for international action to-day are certainly not a list of announcements about conventions. There have been conventions almost from the beginning of time. Pacts and treaties have been made through the ages; and they have been abandoned as suited the nations which entered into them. I predict that history will repeat itself, and .that the undertakings entered into at recent conferences will be abandoned if they do not serve the economic “ interests of the nations involved. Until we are prepared to look at the facts objectively, and to take practical steps towards peace by removing the barriers which now exist between nations, we shall have wars. Not one person who attended either conference had a word to say about establishing an international currency, notwithstanding that gold, silver, and copper are used as currency by every civilized nation.
– An Economic and Social Council was set up.
– That is so, but the world would -have had more hope if something practical had been done. Why do trade barriers exist in the world to-day? In the final analysis, they exist because of rival economic interests. We shall never obtain anything of the true nature of internationalism until we have an international currency, an international working week, and an international basic wage which no nation will dare to disregard. If those things existed there would be no need for trade barriers. What happened in France? That nation “was ‘ subsidizing its primary industries and paying 16s. a bushel for wheat which could be imported from other countries for about 3s. a bushel. . We have heard a good deal to-day about the “iron wall”, but the economic iron wall which existed before 1939 was as rigid as is the iron wall set up by Russia to-day. Until the economic iron walls are broken down wars will be inevitable. From the beginning of time, men have preached against war, but wars have kept on getting bigger and brighter. Now we have reached the atomic age, and one can only imagine . what future wars will be like. However, my opinion is that the atomic bomb was not used soon enough in the last war.
Honorable members are expending their energies in this House talking about what is happening in Persia. But I am not concerned with what is happening in Persia. I am much more interested in what is happening in Australia. Here we” have 3,000,000 square miles of territory occupied by 7,000,000 people. Two old fools met somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean and drew up what we now know as the Atlantic Charter which states that all peoples should have the right of selfdetermination. At that time we had scarcely heard of the Indonesians, who to-day are clamouring to exercise the right given to them by the Atlantic Charter. If I were in the United Kingdom, with its 50,000,000 people on the fringe of Europe, and to regard the problem purely from Britain’s point of view, I, like Mr. Churchill, would probably say that the Atlantic Charter was a magnificent document. But when one considers that in this southernmost extremity of Asia the Australian continent of 3,000,000 square miles is held by 7.000,000 white people, whilst l,000,000,000 Asiatics live to the north as our nearest neighbours, one can only come to the conclusion that the conception of the Atlantic Charter in this part of the world must be entirely different. I am not enamoured of it. The first argument that Dr. Soekarno used in favour of the establishment of an Indonesian republic was the Atlantic Charter - the charter providing for selfdetermination for all peoples of the world. To Australia, that means selfdetermination by 1,000,000.000 people right on our frontier, and 90,000,000 within 500 miles of our shores. One frequently hears of the great virtues of the Atlantic Charter, but for Australia it is the most dangerous document ever conceived. I make no apology for saying that. I do not wish my statement to be construed as antiBritish. I am endeavouring to be realistic. The following is an extract from a speech on defence made in the House of Commons in 193S by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain: -
The question arises now, what is the policy for which these programmes are designed. I will try to put that in the form of a general statement. The cornerstone of our defence policy must be the security pf the United Kingdom. Our main strength lies in the resources of man-power, productive capacity, and endurance of this country, and unless these can be maintained, not only in peace but in the early stages of the war, when they will be the subject of continuous attack, our defeat will be certain, whatever be the fate in secondary spheres elsewhere - therefore, our first main effort must have two main objectives - we must protect this country and we must preserve a trade route upon which we depend for our food and raw materials.
Our third objective,
Mark these words, “ third Objective “ - is the defence of British territories overseas, from attack, whether by sea, land oi- air. I would remind the House that our position is different from that of many continental countries in that we have the necessity at all times of maintaining garrisons overseas in naval bases and strategic points in different parts of the world. That makes it necessary for us to have available forces which can be despatched on what may be called imperial police duty: in war-time there would undoubtedly be substantial demand for reinforcements to be sent to these strategic points, but taking them in their order of priority they are not as. vital as the defence of our own country because, as long as we’ are undefeated at home, although we sustain losses overseas, we might have an opportunity of making them good thereafter. “ We might have an opportunity of making them good thereafter!” How could any true Australian throw away the security of his own country by subscribing to that policy? My only concern in re-, gaa-d to the Atlantic Charter is what will happen to Australia? Other considerations are of no moment. I am not concerned with the “ iron wall “ or any other fanciful political theory in Europe, which, of course, has been the stamping ground for war-makers for 2,500 years, and which, unless it sterilizes itself as other nations have done, will continue for all time to embrace ideologies that breed war. We have had wars in this country, but fortunately only linguistic ones. We have been able to compose our differences by reason. We spring from a common stock, and when we get down to fundamentals, there is no great difference between us. Even politically, honorable members on this side of the chamber and those opposite are separated mainly by jealously. I am not so informed internationally as my friend the honorable member for Went_worth. I listened to his very interesting discourse on Russia, but what in the name of heaven some people’s party in
Roumania has- to do with the problems to which we are now directing our attention I fail to understand. I visited Russia several years before the war and endeavoured to understand its problems. Any headaches that may have existed’ in my own country at that time were insignificant compared with the headaches awaiting the Government of Russia. I shall not praise anything I saw in Russia, nor shall I condemn. In fact the only thing I saw in Russia that drew any praise from me was the enthusiasm of Russians to defend themselves. I was amazed at their realism, and our own comparatively unrealistic outlook. . When I arrived there, one of” the first things that struck me was that troops could be seen everywhere. When I asked one of the Commissars the reason, he said, “Russia has great enemies abroad, anxious to destroy her, and we must protect our country against them.” I said, “ I have not heard anything about this.”, and he replied, “ You live a long distance away “. Signs of preparation for war were also evident elsewhere in Europe. I saw them in Germany and in Austria. Soon afterwards, speaking in the United States of America, I suggested that war in Europe was inevitable, and that eventually the United States of America would be inextricably caught up in it. I had to be careful when expressing such opinions lest I be run out of the room; but there is no greater fool than the person who wants to fool himself. The British people fooled themselves about the intentions of Hitler and of other fanciful European politicians, just as we are fooling ourselves to-day about Russia. However, I am not vitally concerned at this moment, about Russia. We must look after our own country, and examine our own political trends. Many people in Australia preach homilies about its evils, but I hear no sermons about what we should do to remove them. Too many tell, us all about the disease, but none tell us how to cure it. I want to know the cure for the international set-up. I remember that just after World War I., when the League of Nations was created, an intelligent Englishman wrote a play ridiculing it under the name Tha League of Notions, and that is what the league turned out to be. I am afraid that the United Nations organization will amount to the same thing. My recommendation to the Australian people is, “ Listen to the United Nations and its Security Council, but, for God’s sake, keep your powder dry “. My attitude is. one of hostility and preparedness. We ought to have an earnest discussion in this chamber not so much about the United Nations organization as . about whatis to happen to Australia. I am not interested in the Toizuki affair, but I am worried about the security of this country, and 1 am not altogether satisfied that the Australian people have not degenerated. I hope that is published under headlines. We are becoming an unrealistic people, pursuing things that do not matter. Does any one imagine that if the Yoizuki affair had happened six months ago honorable gentlemen, opposite would have burst their boilers in hysterical anger? Does any one imagine that if it had occurred on the day the gates of Changi gaol were opened. the Leader of the Opposition would have done as he did? No, indeed! He would have looked for the biggest barrel he could find to hide in or he would have clapped his hands and said, “ That was the right thing to do “. Of course, timing, is everything in politics, and my old friend, the Leader of the Opposition, whom I have known for many years, is adept at timing even if not in choosing subjects. I am not depressed by that kind of thing. We should have a good look at ourselves instead of worrying about what happens to some Formosans and Koreans. We ought to spend a long time worrying about what is likely to happen to Australia. That is my only concern. It is the only reason why I came into this Parliament. I do not want to burst my boiler worrying about Persia, Greece or Rumania. They will look, after themselves in their own’ critical ways. We have the job to look after our own people in the best way possible.
– That is the real American isolationist policy.
– It would be a wonder to me if the honorable member knew the meaning of the words he has used. Does he know of any country that, does not have an isolationist policy?
– Yes. Iceland.
-I ask the honorable member for Denison to address the Chair.
– This House needs to be purged of its unrealism. I do not know alny country that practiced a stricter policy of isolation that did this country, particularly when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) was in office. I remember that when a certain gentleman arrived here he was not allowed to land because he could not speak Eire or Gaelic -or some other dead language. I suppose that was a proper application of the migration policy and was not isolationist! Hundreds of people in England asked me, “Is it possible to get into Australia at all?”, and people in the United States of America said, “ I cannot understand why you close your doors to every one “. Of course we have adopted an isolationalist, policy; that is why we are 94 per cent. British. We have never allowed other people in. If I may be permitted to use an Irishism, our foreign policy must Ibegin at home. No . man in this chamber would -proclaim to the world, “ We are going to give New Guinea to the United States of America”. Whether that were “the right or wrong thing to do, the man who said that it would be done would be torn to pieces by the press. Yet, in terms -of grand strategy, if we could throw the power of the United States of America racrpss our northern frontier by giving it that area, would we not add to our security? Have no fear that I am going to recommend it. I would, not be game. “Yet, in the interests of our strategy, New Guinea would be the ideal base to give to the United States of America. I cannot sec any one attacking us from the south, the east, or the west, but I do know that millions of potential enemies lie to the north. They cannot march north because there is nowhere there for them to march to. The only direction in which they can march is south. As far as wo are concerned, the Atlantic Charter went “haywire” in . setting out the principle of self-determination for those hordes. Just imagine the. prospects’ At the present rate Australia’s population will increase to’ 10.000,000. in the next 50 years. The Indonesians, indoctrinated with the Japanese propaganda and incom patible with us in every way, will be prepai’ing to march . south to attack ‘ us while we are still luxuriating in. the southern parts of this land-
– Is the honorable member directing his remarks to his Prime Minister ?
– I am. not. The honorable member shows an amazing capacity to . forget that from 1916 to 1941. Australia was governed by the party of which he is a member. Have honorable members opposite so degenerated that they can forget that? Our foreign policy is related entirely to British foreign policy, but when the British policy places us third, as Mr. Chamberlain’s speech discloses, surely good Australasians will not stand aside and -say, “ We are not going to do anything about it “, or, “ If we do anything about it, we shall be doing something anti-British “. “So I am seriously concerned about the fate of this country. How does it fit into the United Nations if that organisation is to be merely another League of Nations? Whilst we should l-isteji to the recommendations of the United Nations and the San Francisco conference, the besetting question for the Australian people is, how can we defend ourselves should the United Nations organization break down? Hence I say again that I am not concerned about what happens to Persia or to Greece or to any other country than our own. This is the country where I have -my affiliations and roots, and I am not concerned about any other counjry. s
Can any one imagine an international basic wage, an international working week, an international currency? Can any one imagine these reforms being achieved under the present international set up? Yet, without those things we shall have countries erecting trade barriers against stronger competitors. Trade barriers inevitably lead to war. So the people who attended the San Francisco conference and the United Nations meeting in London were unreal in their approach to the problem. I am not chiding the Minister. I believe that he did a jolly good iob. considering he had no power and no right to do anything. The verbiage was marvellous. Verbiage! Words, idle words!
I should like to know what would have happened to him if he had given away one- acre of Australian territory without the consent of the Australian people. He would not have been game to set foot here, even though ultimately his action might prove to have been in the best interests of the country. In my opinion, we should not worry overmuch about events abroad. I am not greatly concerned about Russia’s policy. What I saw in that vast country convinced me that the Soviet Government has a mammoth job to do within its own boundaries. The outlook of the Russians is entirely different from our own. In Soviet Russia, there are 181 nationalities speaking 178 different languages. In its natural set-up, the Soviet does not object to absorbing a nation here and a nation there. I do not care what any one says : the only salvation for the western world will eventually be internationalism of one kind or another, not necessarily the Russian kind. Science has gone mad, and the community as such is lagging behind. Our salvation must depend upon the ability of peoples of the world to produce an international set-up.
This is the time for making faux pas.. so I shall commit a few of them. Let us examine briefly the position of Holland. I have a deep respect for the Dutch and their achievements, but twice in 25 years, we have -been obliged to run to their assistance. When they could not govern their own colonies, we had to run again to their aid. Rather than have Australians killed every 25 years in order to preserve Holland as a separate entity in Europe, I would not hesitate, if I had the power, to annex the country. After all, what does democracy mean? Is it not the right of free speech, and the means whereby men may lead a comfortable life, with freedom from fear? If we were able to say to the Dutch and the Indonesians, “ We can give you more freedom from fear and more security than you can give yourselves “ we would be giving them democratic rule. In such circumstances, I would have no objection to annexing Holland. Great Britain attained greatness in the 18th and 19th centuries by grabbing strategic points throughout the world. Yet we, like mealy-mouthed hypocrites, stand with arms akimbo and say, “ Look how we differ from every one else “. It is all a matter of history and timing. I shall not.be carried aAvay by any figments of the imagination that democracy means that we are perfectly free. No one wants to be free. All that people want to-day is to be comfortable and secure. Any nation which can guarantee more security and give more comfort is, in my opinion, a more democratic country.
– That is exactly what Hitler said.
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) is very profound on a great many matters. It is regrettable that he did not study other countries. If he had done so, he might now hold different views.
I have expressed my views on the international set-up. I do not propose to do anything at present to destroy the possibility of something eventually evolving out of the United Nations. The atomic, bomb may bring the nations in Europe to a realization that something material and practical must eventuate. For that reason alone, I am inclined to support the United Nations, but in doing so I shall not forget the security of my own country. I put that in the forefront of all my considerations. To the “defence of Australia, the Australian people will give all their energies and thoughts, but 1 do not believe that at this moment they are very much concerned with what is happening elsewhere.
– I have rarely heard in this House such tributes and such bouquets presented to a senior Minister as’ those which the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) handed to the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) this afternoon. At various times, I have said something about the Minister and his works, but after having listened to the honorable member for Denison I» regard myself as a mere amateur in criticism. Whether or not we agree with the Minister, we all know that at San Francisco he . spoke on numerous occasions. He spoke for himself and for the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde), and he attempted to speak for Australia, and the world. He filled reams of reports, and when he returned to Australia, he issued statements and wrote articles for magazines. But. in one phrase the honorable member for Denison dismissed the” whole lot with the exclamation “ Words, idle words ! “ He may be right, or he may be wrong.
The honorable member -also made some assertions which sound strange when compared with the official policy of the Labour party. One of his statements was that democracy is a figment of the imagination, and that it is a figment of the imagination that’ people want to be free. Recently, I read the diaries of Count Ciano - the unexpurgated edition - and the sentiments which the honorable member expressed are exactly the same as those which- were uttered by Mussolini, and the honorable member for Watson. (Mr. Falstein). They are Fascist sentiments. The people of the world want freedom and democracy. If the honorable member for Denison visited Switzerland where there are four different nationalities speaking four different languages, he would see what democracy is. The Swiss are prepared to defend democracy with their lives. I believe in democracy. Democracy, the free expression of people’s independent opinions, provides the one safeguard which will preserve humanity from tyranny -and the domination of dictators. But the honorable member for Denison evidently does not agree with me. Whether he spoke for the Labour par.ty or for himself I do not know.
The honorable member questioned the argument which the Minister for External Affairs has expressed on numerous occasions, namely, that the free peoples of the world shall have the right to determine their own destiny. The honorable member said that 50 years hence the Indonesians should not be free to determine their own destiny. I do not know whether he is right or wrong, but at least the peoples of the world should be given the right to say whether they will determine their own destiny. I do not propose this afternoon to say *very much about Soviet Russia or the United Nations. The principal matter about which I am concerned, and which I desire to emphasize in this debate, although the Minister, .did not make an extensive reference to it, is the best policy for ensuring for Australia security in the future, so that our people may live in freedom from external aggression and by their democratic institutions preserve themselves from the “Knock on the door in the early hours of the morning “ which is happening in many parts of Europe at present. In other words, Australians must also safeguard themselves against internal aggression by undemocratic governments. . Although the peoples of the world are pinning their hopes on the success of the Uni’.ed Nations and all, particularly women, are opposed to another destructive war like the last one, I remind honorable members that this is not the first time that an organization such as the United Nations has been established. In the discussions which produced the Treaty of Vienna in 1S14, Lord Castlereagh propounded ideas similar to the plans for the establishment of the United Nations. I believe that he foreshadowed the establishment of on international force to protect the nations of Europe, and particularly the smaller nations, from aggression. We saw what happened to the League of Nations which was established in 1919. There will be no security in any United Nations organization unless the Great Powers are able to enforce their decisions, and unless a combination of Great Powers can prevent any single power from becoming aggressive. If that fact be lost sight of the organization will break up, .as did the League of Nations under the impact of Japanese aggression in Manchuria, of Hitler’s aggression in Czechoslovakia, and of Mussolini’s aggression in Abyssinia. One of the chief benefits which may be derived from the setting up of the United Nations is the provision which the Charter makes for disciplining the small nations, so that in future, no incident could occur such as that at Zagreb, when a Croat revolutionary assassinated the heir to the Austrian throne, thu? firing the shot which commenced the Great War of 1914-191S. It should be possible with a United Nations organization to prevent the occurrence of a war such as that which raged in the jungles of. the Gran Chaco between Paraguay and Bolivia.
In his statement, the Minister for External Affairs kept harping on what presumably he put forward as the views of the Australian Government regarding the provision for (lie veto in the Security Council. Unless we can arrive at a condition of affairs such as that envisaged by Tennyson in Locksley Hall, “the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world,” it will be impossible to get the great nations to come into a world organization without allowing them the power of veto.. Nationalism is not yet dead, and no great nation will allow its destiny and the destiny of its people to pass under the control of an aggregation of small nations such as the republics of Latin America. The Minister for External Affairs is, in my opinion, mistaken in his opposition to the veto. Louis XIV., the dictator King of France, is reputed to have used the expression, “ L’etat c’est moi “ - I am the state. The Minister for External Affairs says, in effect, “ The foreign poliCy of Australia, it is I “. The policy of the Minister might be described as a frog policy. From your reading of Aesop’s fables, Mr. Speaker, you will recall the story of the little frogs that were left in a swamp while their mother went away, probably to call on another frog. During her absence, a cow came through the swamp cropping the herbage, and the little frogs were amazed at her size. She wandered off, and. when their mother returned they told her of this extraordinarily large creature that they had seen. “ But how big was it? “, the .mother asked, “ Was it as big as I am?”. “It was’ bigger than you are,” they told her. “It was tremendous.” Then the mother, frog blew herself up and asked, “ Was it as big as I am now ? “ But they told her that it was bigger even than that. The mother frog went on ‘ blowing herself up, and the children kept on telling her that she was still not as big as the cow, until finally she burst. I put forward the suggestion that the Minister for External Affairs is so persistently endeavouring to inflate the importance of Australia in the. councils of the nations that he will finish by bursting Om defence of the country to pieces. The strength of Australia, and even of the United Nations lip? in the main reliance of a strong British Commonwealth of Nations. The policy of the Minister for External Affairs in putting Australia forward as the leader of the small nations, not only weakens the authority of the British) Commonwealth in world affairs, but alaogives to the dictators the idea that we are’ a house divided against itself, and that the fabric of the Empire will shatter at the first blow.
– Who said all that?
– That is the tenor of practically everything which the Minister for External Affairs has said on the subject of Australia’s relations with othernations. If the honorable member doesnot believe me, I advise him to read an article by the Minister which was published in the journal Foreign Affairs, in. January, 1946, in which he wrote’ -
Tlie objective of freedom from fear can and must be pursued by the Great Assembly of the United Nations as well as the objective of freedom from want. The important gains made by the lesser nations at San Francisco, especially in relation to, the powers of theAssembly, the4 Economic Council and the Trusteeship System, take on new significancein the light of recent events. The future of mankind may well be determined as much by the courage, initiative, determination and democratic idealism of the lesser powers as by the strength, leadership and responsibility of tlie major powers.
It is evident from the diary of CountCiano. and from other secret documentswhich have lately come to light, that theminds of the dictators were powerfully affected by the belief that the BritishEmpire was a house divided against itself.. Members of the Opposition have continually emphasized the point that it is= essential for the peace of the world that: there should be a strong and united British Empire, which will speak .with one voice, as far as possible, on matters of foreign policy.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), like Don Quixote, was. tilting at windmills, when he said that the Opposition accused Government supporters of wishing to break the association between Australia and the BritishCommonwealth of Nations. We havenever said anything of the kind. We may doubt the sanity of Government supporters in some directions, but we know they are not so insane as to believe that Australia, with its population of’ 7,000,000, can stand alone. The smallness of Australia’s resources, as compared with those of the great nations, was emphasized by Mr. Norman Migbell, formerly-
Commonwealth Coal Commissioner,, just before he left for Great Britain. He said that, in the 150 years of its existence, Australia had produced 500,000,000 tons of coal. That may seem a large quantity, but Mr. Mighell went on to say that the United States of America produces 600,000,000 tons of coal every year. Australia, as a dominion, has an important position in the British Empire, but what could it do alone as a tiny nation of 7,000,000 people? The Government does not propose to withdraw from the British Empire, but it has adopted a policy of non-co-operation with the other members of the British Commonwealth, particularly the Mother Country.
– That is not true.
– The honorable member is an intellectual gentleman of the first, order, and in the absence of evidence to support my statement, I should agree with him. However, I have such evidence, and in the light of it I am sure that the honorable member will apologize and agree with me. This evidence is contained in certain figures published in the Statistical Bulletin of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, showing gold and other balances held abroad by the Commonwealth Bank. The composite total is £183,300,000, but there is no figure to show the amount of the gold holdings. The people of Australia are entitled to know what has happened to the gold holdings of the Commonwealth Bank in recent years, and to know the extent to which Australia’s resources ha.ve been thrown into the Empire dollar pool in order to help Great Britain in its hour of trial.
– We used £40,000,000 for the wool agreement.
– The Minister talks in terms of paper money, but I talk in terms of metallic bar gold, the one currency unit that speaks in every country of the world to-day. The honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) talked about international currency. Is there any currency more international in character than gold? Honorable members opposite should recall what the Latin sage said -about “the cursed lust for. gold”. Any person in the world will accept gold to-day. The production of gold in Australia from the 1st July, 1938 to the 31st .January, 1946, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, totalled £91,518,575. Gold imported during the same period - and I understand that it came mostly” from the Fijian mines- totalled £21,090,012, making a grant total of £112,60S,5S7. Exports over the sam© period totalled £70,020,781, leaving a balance of gold retained in Australia of £42,588,806. The figures for the individual years are even more illuminating than those I have just cited. Gold exports for the first four years of the period were as follows: -
There was a startling decrease in subsequent years. No gold was exported in 1942-43, and only £4 worth of gold left Australia in 1943-44 - perhaps the AttorneyGeneral carried four sovereigns with him when he went abroad. Again there were no gold exports in 1944-45 or in the first seven- months of the year 1945-46. Therefore, we must have a balance of gold in Australia amounting to at least £42,58S,S06. The policy of our sister dominion of South Africa during the whole of the period under review was to make all of its gold .available to the Empire dollar pool in Great Britain, except, for certain small amounts required to pay for imports received direct from the United States of America and for dollar credits on behalf of South Africa!
– South Africa recalled every penny-
– As the Minister is an authority on the subject of “-hooey”. I. imagine that everything he says is “ hooey “. In order to emphasize the seriousness of Australia’s lack of cooperation, I refer to the following article published in The Economist, of. London, of the 15th December, 1945 -
Britain’s .’exchange reserves now stand at about £450,000,000, but will he reduced to £400.000,000 by subscriptions to the fund and the bank. .Ignoring the coming aid from Canada, there would therefore be only some £550,000,000 to £050,000,000 available to bridge the prospective gap of £700,000,000 to £SOO,000,000- and that on the quite unrealistic assumption that Britain could allow her reserves to fall to zero by 1951.
Canada is making a loan of £225,000,000 on very easy terms to Great Britain. Although the rate of interest demanded by the United States of America from Great Britain under the international monetary agreement is low, and the amount of settlement demanded under lend-lease also is low, I have never known a mortgage drawn up by even the most hard-hearted businessman to contain covenants more harsh in their effect on the borrower. The editor of The Economist, Mr. Crowther, made the following statement : -
It has long been a commonplace that British exports will have to be increased by 50 per cent, above their . 1938 volume; the financial burdens now assumed raise the figure to 75 per cent. In 193S the exports of the United Kingdom were just over 10 per cent, of the world total, so that if they are to rise by three-quarters, an extra volume of trade must be won equal to 7£ per cent, of the world total.
While the British exchange resources have fallen to approximately £400,000,000,. taking into account demands under the Bretton Woods Agreement, Australia is “sitting pretty” on £42,500,000 worth of bar gold: I cannot understand why the Government does not throw that money into the dollar pool, instead of asking for sterling balances in London to be paid in dollars in order to finance imports. This Government is worthy to succeed Gandhi .as tlie leader of the non-co-operative movement in the British Empire.
I refer now to the subject of Australian governors. The attitude adopted by the Government, and the labour party throughout Australia, with regard to governors is utterly unreasonable. It, demands that State governors and the Commonwealth Governor-General must be Australians.
– It is very difficult to see how this matter can be connected with foreign affairs.
– It is connected in this way–
– The Chair allowed the honorable member to discuss gold holdings, but oan he connect the appointment of governors with this debate?
– I can connect it, but if it annoys you, Mr. Speaker, I will not do so.
– It is not a question of annoyance. The honorable member must observe the forms of the House.
– Very well, I shall not pursue the matter further. I turn now to the subject of Australian defence. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) referred to Timor and the “ barrier to the north “. With regard to mandated territories, Timor, and islands that were taken from the Japanese, the gravest possible danger lies in granting the trusteeship of those “territories unless the defence of Australia is secure. What concerns me most is the attitude of the Attorney-General on the question of trusteeship. On this subject the right honorable gentleman said -
The existing C class mandate will naturally provide the basis for the new agreement.
And be repeated that statement in reply to an interjection by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). The right honorable gentleman then proceeded to point out that the difference between the existing C class mandates and the new trusteeship system under the United Nations was that there was provision in the covenant of the League’ of Nations expressly prohibiting the fortification of the territories, concerned, whereas territories brought under the trusteeship system are to play their appropriate part in the security arrangements to be established under the Charter. He emphasized that Japan’s fortification of islands under its mandate, particularly Yap, which it turned into a great naval base; greatly helped the Japanese advance at the outset of the Pacific war. Dealing with the advantages of the. trusteeship system the Attorney-General said -
The Charter of the United Nations .’ . . provides that the . trusteeship agreement may- and I ask honorable members to note the word “ may “ - designate the whole or any part of a trust territory as a strategic area.
The statement of the. Attorney-General clearly indicates that the policy of the United Nations will be. largely guided by the small nations of the world. What a risk the Government takes in proposing to leave the defence of this Commonwealth to the “ mays “ mights “, or “ ifs “ of small nations who have no understanding of the problems that confront this country! Because I question the wisdom of such a policy I move -
That the following words be added to .the motion: - “and that it be an instruction to the Government that before any of the territories of the Commonwealth of Australia, mandates held by Australia, or areas released from the Japanese by Australia are placed under the trusteeship of the Uni.ted Nations organization, the approval of both Houses of the Parliament of Australia shall bo obtained “. la the Attorney-General prepared to accept an amendment along these lines forthwith?
– I have ‘ already said, in ray speech that the trusteeship agreement will be referred to the Parliament. Naturally, having already made that statement I cannot accept the amendment.
– Then it will be left to the Parliament to decide whether the Government should be permitted to risk the safety of the Commonwealth by leaving questions of policy relating to the defence of vital contiguous territories in the hands of a piebald organization of small nations, including the South American Republics which know nothing of Australia’s problems. By leaving this matter to be determined by small nations with, no knowledge of the problems of the Western Pacific the right honorable gentleman betrays his country and risks the lives of its people and of unborn generations. Australia must have an unquestioned right to fortify any territory of which it holds possession by mandate, or in trusteeship, or in any other way, and before tie agreement is signed by the Government on behalf of the Commonwealth it should be brought to this Parliament for ratification.
Dealing with the question of Portuguese Timor the Attorney-General said -
Timor is of great importance to Australia. In enemy hands during the war this possession was a danger continually threatening the safety of Darwin.
The right honorable gentleman then recounted certain tributes paid by President Salazar.of Portugal to the achievements of Australian arms, and said that the Australian Government acknowledged with gratitude the assistance given by the people of Timor to our troops during the war. He informed the House that the Portuguese Government had accepted an Australian Consul in Portuguese Timor. I remind the right honorable gentleman that a treaty of peace, friendship and alliance between England and Portugal, which was signed in London on the 16th June, 1373, is still in existence. Article 1 of the treaty provides, inter alia -
In the first place, we settle and covenant that there shall be from this day forward between our abovesaid Lord Edward, King of ‘ England and France, and the Lord Ferdinand King of Portugal and Algarve, and the Lady Eleanor Queen and his Consort, their Successors in the aforesaid Kingdoms of England and Portugal, and their Realms, Lands, Dominions, Provinces, Vassals and Subjects faithfully obeying them, whatsoever, true, faithful, constant, mutual, and perpetual Friendships, Unions, Alliances, and Leagues of sincere affection, and .that as true and faithful Friends they shall henceforth reciprocally be Friends to Friends, and Enemies to Enemies, and shall assist, maintain, and uphold each other mutually by sea and by land against all Men that may live or die, of whatever dignity, station, rank, or condition they may be, and against their Lands, Realms, and Dominions.
I understand that under the law of England, by virtue of an act passed in the reign of King George IY. in 1S2S the Commonwealth is bound by the terms of that treaty. The Attorney-General, however, has shown little desire to explore the possibilities of obtaining under the terms of the treaty the right to construct and operate . under Australian control aerodromes in Portuguese Timor or to fortify the island in the interests of the defence of this country. Obviously the right honorable gentleman has not even considered sending to Portugal a representative of the Australian Government at the diplomatic status. Neither has any attempt been made to influence the Government of Portugal to send a representative to this country. In his policy for the appointment of diplomatic representatives abroad, the Minister has ranged from China to Peru but has omitted consideration of one country most vitally important to Australia’s defence, and one to which we are already bound by a defensive alliance. I trust that the right honorable gentleman will give serious consideration to the desirability of effecting ‘an exchange of diplomats between the two countries. [Extension of time granted.] On page 17 the Minister for External Affairs said -
The Government will enter into no commitments which will lessen the control of the Australian people over their own territories. Any consideration of plans for the joint use of any bases in Australia’s . dependent territories should be preceded by an over-all defence arrangement for the region of the Western Pacific.
That is a very bald statement. The agree inent to which the right honorable gentleman there referred may not be made for years. We know, through what we have read in the press, that the United States of America has requested permission to occupy and establish air bases on Manus Island. The right honorable gentleman, as the mouthpiece of the Government, and the designer, of the foreign policy of Australia, is adopting a rash and dangerous attitude when he refuses to allow this not very important island to be used for defence purposes by the United States of America. The more we can have the warp of America and the weft of Australia woven together in the fabric of South West Pacific defence, the more secure will this country be and the greater will be the height to which we shall rise as a nation. .
The Minister for External Affairs might well strengthen the representation of Australia on the United Nations. He himself, while abroad, impressed the world,- but whether in the right, or the wrong . way remains to be seen. Australia needs the very best representation it can have on that organization, and I hope that it will be provided.
There is one other matter in the speech of the right honorable gentleman to which I want to make a brief reference; that is, the -representation of Australia overseas. I have pointed out that we have in Australia representatives from nearly every country under the sun - black, brown, brindle, piebald and skewbald. There is one country in which Australia is not represented, and I understand that the right honorable gentleman has not asked the Prime Minister of it to send a representative to Australia. I refer to South Africa.
– That action has now been taken.
– What are the names of the Minister who is to represent Australia in South Africa, and the representative of that dominion in Australia?
– I cannot yet say.
– Apparently this action has been taken on the spur of the moment, and the right honorable gentleman does not know the names of the gentlemen who have been chosen. Notime should be lost in completing the arrangement. The right honorable gentleman should make a statement which will’ bind the Empire together in a solid fabric. The whole of -our gold resourcesshould be thrown into the Empire pool.
. -Some speakers have said that the issue in respect of the proper conduct of our foreign, affairs is between our reliance on. Australia’s membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations and its membership of the United Nations. The Opposition does not really believe in ‘theright of Australia to have any foreign policy at all. Its members pay lip service to the principle that our status in the British Commonwealth of Nations is equal to that of any other member of itr and that we are subordinate to none; but there is no real enthusiasm on their ipart for the acceptance of the Statute of Westminster or the exercise by Australia of an independent . view which will serve the best interests of this country in any matter that may arise affecting the-‘ British Commonwealth of Nations or the world as a whole. As a. matter of fact,, when, in 1931, a -motion was submitted to this House for approval of the report of the Attorney-General on the Statute of Westminster, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said this -
This motion . . . mark3 the arrival of a new era in the history of the constitutional relations of the dominions and Britain, and isof immense importance to Australia and to the Empire. I disagree entirely with the principles underlying the motion.
I have not the slightest doubt that theright honorable gentleman spoke on behalf of his colleagues of that period-
When he left the Labour party in 1916 he, of course, changed his opinions. In 1931 he was giving expression to the sentiments that were in favour with the imperialist section of this Parliament with which he was then associated. There was a time when he adopted a much more robust and rugged attitude in regard to Australia’s rights as a nation of free people. He was one who, from the beginning of federation until he left the Labour party, urged acceptance of the views of that party in respect of foreign affairs. Ever since the dawn of federation, the Labour party has stood fast against any system of imperial federation. It did not believe in imperial federation, and considered that such a system would weaken and ultimately destroy the British Commonwealth of Nations; that it would not be a good thing for any dominion to be dominated or ruled by the parliament at Westminster. Those who have guided the destinies of that parliament have been much wiser than many of those who sat in the anti-Labour ranks in this Parliament; because there has never -been a very strong attempt by members of the British Parliament to circumscribe our rights once Ave have asserted our desire to assert them, but there has been in this National Parliament, down the years, attempts to frustrate and prevent the full expression of Australia’s right to follow its own course, when the parliament of the day believed that to be necessary. Honorable gentlemen who. sit opposite are following to-day the tradition that has been established by the antiLabour forces from the beginning of federation. Their predecessors opposed the establishment of an Australian navy when the Labour party brought that proposal forward. The Labour government of the day held the view that such a navy was necessary to protect Australia against invasion and to enforce the view of this nation should a dispute arise between it and any other country. Members of the Opposition of 1911 suggested that, instead of establishing an Australian navy, we should make a gift of a dreadnought to the British Navy. Apparently their view was that if the Australian people donated a dreadnought it would be used in accordance with the desires of Whitehall or Downing-street, and the Australian nation would not have an effective voice in foreign policy, but would have to follow automatically any policy which the British Government might decide upon. In those days the right honorable member for North Sydney was the representative of West Sydney, and a strong supporter of the idea of having an Australian navy. Just how valuable the Royal Australian Navy was to this country and its Allies was proved during the first world war. It was of great value in keeping off the German cruisers Scharnhorst. Gneisenau, Leipzig, and Dresden, and other enemy vessels in the Pacific. Its value in the last war was exemplified in a way that this generation can never forget. In pursuit of our own foreign policy we had to defend our shores against an , aggressor, and the remnants of our small but gallant Navy were of great value to the American Navy in the battle of the Coral Sea, which was decisive in stopping the southward advance of the Japanese.
– How does the Minister reconcile that with the policy of the Scullin Government which left this country without defence?
– The policy of the Labour party has always been based on the principle that it is the duty of the Government to defend Australia as best it can with the resources at its disposal. The question of whether Ave should have compulsory military service is not an issue that necessarily affects the safety of this country. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) would do well not to talk about the defencelessness of this country at any period of our history, because, had the Government which he supported remained in power the Japanese would undoubtedly have captured Australia. Certainly the best efforts of the present Government to protect this country might not have been successful if we had not had that small Royal Australian Navy, or what was left of it, at the time of the Coral Sea battle. I cite that instance of the difference of opinion that ‘has always existed between the Opposition and the’ Labour party on the matter of foreign policy.
– The Opposition forces could have introduced compulsory military training, had they desired to do so when they were in power.
– Of course they could have if they thought that was the right thing to do, but they did not do it. Therefore, it is rather fatuous now to raise the issue of whether we should have had compulsory military training in 1932 or even in 1939.
I shall refer to another fact of history to show how the opinions of honorable members opposite differ from those of the Labour party. When Great Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) was Prime Minister of Australia. He said that when Great Britain was at war Australia was automatically at war also. The Labour-party has never subscribed to that opinion. When Australia went to war with Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbour, a Labour government was in office, and that fact was fortunate for this country. The Curtin Government did not adopt the policy of the Menzies Government and say that when Great Britain was at war with Japan, Australia also was automatically at war with that country. The Curtin Government made a separate declaration of war with Japan. It did that twenty minutes before Great Britain declared war. It did so in order to emphasize that Australia’s right to go to war or .make peace was inherent in the Australian people themselves, and was not to be decided for them by a parliament at Westminster or anywhere else. Such an issue, it believed, must be decided by a government responsible to a parliament elected by the people of Australia, and elected by them alone. On this occasion the Australian Government followed the policy pursued by Canada. When war broke out between Great Britain and Germany, Canada made a separate declaration of war, and it also made a separate declaration when hostilities commenced with Japan. No weakening of the British Commonwealth of Nations results from the action of any one member of that Commonwealth declaring war separately, or having complete control over its policy on foreign affairs.
If we ever raise the question of whether we should have a council of the British Commonwealth whose policy should be determined by a majority decision, we shall take action which will rapidly cause the dissolution of the British Commonwealth of Nations. All things we want to do in this country to maintain its integrity and promote the happiness and welfare of- its people are not necessarily accepted with relish or even approved by some or all of the other dominions of the British Commonwealth. I need not particularize too much, ‘but in respect of fiscal policy we of the Labour party believe in a system of protection. The Labour party of Great Britain has adopted a free-trade policy. There are people who say that if the world adopted the fiscal policy of free trade there would be no international disputes, and that (protection leads to war. There may be something in that contention, but when a new nation is trying to build up its industries it will never develop satisfactorily unless it adopts a fiscal policy similar to that chosen by Australia. If we did as the Opposition ‘ suggests, and submitted such matters for decision by the nations that constitute the British Commonwealth of Nations, we should undoubtedly be told to abandon our present plans and simply produce meat land other food to supply the industrialists of Great Britain, leaving all the manufacturing required for both themselves and us to be done inGreat Britain. B.ut we have never carried our disagreement with Great Britain on the matter of fiscal policy to the point of violent argument. Britain has never delivered an ultimatum to us. We have never reached a stage where we might break off diplomatic relations because of any difference of opinion with regard to fiscal or any other matters. Therefore it is futile for honorable members opposite to assert that the policy which the. Minister for External Affairs has enunciated on behalf of Australia, and has followed so successfully in the counsels of the nations which he has attended, is one that will work ultimately to the detriment of either the British’ Commonwealth or Australia. I cannot imagine’ anybody in the British Parliament making himself a protagonist for Australia in” that august assembly. An Englishman who was not 100 per cent. English in his outlook and his support of the inter ests of Great Britain would be regarded as a very poor Englishman. This Parliament should not entertain the views of those who are not 100 per cent. Australian. I believe that every representative who comes here should be a vigorous supporter of the interests of his own country first. If he will not do that, his place is not in the legislative halls of this nation. We of the Labour party do not encourage divided loyalties. We do not entertain any spurious nostalgias; we believe that it is our duty as elected representatives of the people of Australia to do everything we can to promote the peace, order and good government of this country. It is our duty to promote the happiness of our people. We cannot do that if we subordinate the interests of this nation to those of another nation. By maintaining the interests of our own nation we are not necessarily bringing our country into conflict with any other country. We are certainly not bringing it into conflict with any of the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The policy of the Labour party is opposed to imperial federation, but, at the same time, we emphasize that we stand for the maintenance of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Any person who suggests that Australia should break away from the British Commonwealth of Nations is either mad, or bad ; he is a fit subject for a lunatic asylum or a criminal court. We know that we- cannot possibly hold 3,000,000 square miles of the British Commonwealth of Nations if, as a people of 7,000,000, we regard ourselves as a completely independent nation. We must help the British Commonwealth of Nations to develop its strength. The stronger the British Commonwealth of Nations becomes, the stronger, too, each of its units becomes. By some intricate process of ratiocination honorable members opposite seem to think that it would be better for us if Australia’s population were kept down to about 7,000,000 and the population of the United Kingdom were built up to about 50,000,000, than if we helped Great Britain to maintain its present population of 45,000,000, or even advanced it to say, 50,000,000, and developed our own resources to a point where we could maintain a high standard of living for a population of 20,000,000 in this country.
– The Government’s migration policy will not make that possible.
– The immigration policy of. the Government which I bad the honour to announce on the 2nd August last is the best immigration policy which has yet been announced in this Parliament. If results are the test of a policy, then the policy of anti-Labour governments which the honorable member supported has not much to commend it, because during the depression more people left Australia than came here. At that time people left Australia to return to Great Britain, because, -low as were their wages in Great Britain, British social security legislation was far in advance of what was on the statutebooks of Australia at that time, although governments which the honorable gentleman supported could have made any improvements which they cared to make. But we shall encourage migrants to come to Australia from Great Britain. However, I make only passing reference to that fact. The matter that we are debating is the printing of the paper, which embodies the views expressed by the Attorney-General in the name of the Government and the Labour party. That policy is written in the spirit of the Labour movement; it follows the traditional lines of Labour party policy. It varies in no respect from anything said, or done, by any leader of the Labour party since there has been such a body in. Australian politics. Because this is an election year, honorable members opposite endeavour to raise the bogy that the Labour party wants to do something in its external policy to weaken the British Commonwealth of Nations; and in that regard they have been greatly assisted by other agencies. The work of the Minister for External Affairs has been of great value to Australia, and to the nations of the world which were represented at the conferences at San Francisco and London. Instead of being criticized, he should be applauded. I am sure that, outside this Parliament, 90 per cent, of right-thinking Australians believe that he made Australia’s name famous at the United Nations Conference on International Organization and at other gatherings abroad.
– Yet the honorable member for Denison cried “ idle words “.
– I was not talking about the statement of the Minister for External Affairs, but about the whole- international -set-up.
– The honorable member for Denison might have doubts about the efficacy of any plan for the establishment of world peace; and he has good reasons, perhaps, for his view. In that respect he is not alone. I read only in this morning’s press, that the Leader of the Opposition said that he did not believe in treaties. His views on this subject, apparently, are at variance with those of his Deputy Leader, the honorable member for Wentworth. I am not surprised at that. And that difference exists not only in respect of external affairs, but also concerns many other matters. The honorable member for Wentworth is obviously out of step with his leader. I was referring to the efforts which the Minister for External Affairs made at the San Francisco and London conferences to help to establish world peace. By those labours ho has earned the gratitude of every mother in Australia, none of whom wants to see her sons sent off to fight in a. third world war. Whatever the right honorable gentleman attempted to do, he certainly won a great deal of support in the councils of the nations of the world. It seems to be a sore point with honorable members opposite that he succeeded so well that the representatives of many nations looked upon him as a champion of democracy and progress at the San Francisco conference.
– The honorable member, in common with many others, throws his insulting remarks at countries like Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. .We have accepted accredited representatives of Chile and Brazil in this country. Their peoples have contributed a great deal towards the advancement of civilization.
– Hitler did not like them.
– Well, Hitler was in the same company as the honorable member for Wentworth and the honorable member for New England, and quite a number of other honorable members opposite. What those honorable members do not know is that there are 92,000,000 people in South America, of .whom 44,000,000 live in Brazil alone. Those people have a high degree of culture, and a very high standard of living; and if we are wise, and cultivate good relationships with them, they will be able to do business with Australia that will be mutually beneficial. The Minister for External Affairs, in his work at San Francisco and London, established a spirit of goodwill between this country and the representatives of many other nations. No previous government had attempted to do that; and honorable members opposite had they been in the Minister’s place at any of those distinguished gatherings would have failed to make a like achievement. It is somewhat farcical in a debate of this kind to find the honorable member for New England suggesting that we should give away an island in the Pacific to the United States of America, and, maybe at. .a later stage, give . away a. lot of other islands. The honorable member who says that we have the right to give away territory which is ‘administered by us under mandate, also says that we have no right at all to determine a foreign policy for Australia. He undoubtedly thinks that we must at all times subordinate . our interests to decisions -made elsewhere. All the points raised by the honorable member for New England have been covered by the Minister, and, therefore, the amendment is quite unnecessary.
Sitting suspended from 6 to S p.m.
– The attitude of each succeeding British Government towards foreign affairs differs with the changes of political opinion in Britain. Unlike the reputed- law of the Medes and Persians, it is not unchanged’ and unchangeable. Similarly, the attitude of Britain and the role of the Dominions and what were formerly colonies, has varied from time to time. To-day, Britain favours the maintenance of the British Commonwealth of Nations, as do the Dominions, but that was not always the view held in Britain. The Manchester school of thought, which once dominated British opinion, suggested that as the colonies became stronger .they would fall away from the parent tree as ripe fruit falls to the ground. That opinion was expressed forcibly by Lord Blachford’. who figures in Australian history as “ That man Rogers “. Bernard B. Wise, in his booh, The Making of the Australian Commonwealth, says that Blachford was an authority because he had been Permanent Under-Secretary for the Colonies for many years. Lord Blachford wrote a survey of his political life in which he said -
I had always believed - and this belief has so confirmed and consolidated itself that I can hardly realize the possibility of any one seriously thinking the contrary - that the destiny of our colonies is independence, and that in this point of view the function of the Colonial Office is to secure that our connexion, while it lasts, shall be as profitable to bo.th parties, and our separation, when it comes, as amicable as possible.
I quote Lord Blackford, because Chief Justice Higginbotham, when Premier of Victoria, once protested that the Secretary of State for the Colonies refused to answer his letters, leaving them to be signed by the Under-Secretary. Higginbotham struck a blow for Australian nationalism and- the rights of the colonies to express themselves to the Secretary of State, and also to be addressed by him instead of being treated as subordinate institutions. He protested against the treatment which he had received from “ The man Rogers “ who was later to become Lord Blachford. Public opinion in Britain and Australia has changed greatly since Blachford’s day. In the ‘nineties there was a strong republican and separatist movement in Australia. The Australian Natives Association for instance, owes its rise to the vigorous republican feeling which was in existence at that time. Joseph Chamberlain, who was Lord Mayor of Birmingham at that time, was a republican. But the Australian republicans were separatists, too. Those days have gone, and we now’ see the desirability of maintaining a free association of nations known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. No one is more anxious to safeguard and perpetuate that association than are members of the Australian Labour party. . Members opposite become annoyed because we interpret the utterances of the most vocal of their number as lacking the real Australian spirit. We believe that they would willingly sacrifice Australia and Australia’s interests on the altar of imperialism if the occasion presented itself. Indeed, we charge them with having done so. I shall cite instances in support of that charge. First there was the refusal of the parties supported by honorable members opposite to build up an aircraft industry for the defence of Australia. I well remember reading a statement in the Melbourne Age in 1935 by a man who is now a member of the Victorian Parliament - I refer to Mr. Edmunds, M.L.A. - that in that year Mr. Essington Lewis recommended the building of aircraft in Australia, but the Australian Government at, that time refused to accept the plan.
– We on this side supported it.
– It is true that a little was “done in planning aircraft production but what was done was not enough. Had it not been for the fortuitous arrival in Australia of two squadrons of Kitty-hawk aircraft about a fortnight before the Battle of the Coral sea, that battle might have been lost. I cite also the opposition of honorable members on the other side to the recall of the 6th and 7th Divisions of the Australian Imperial Force to Australia. The Labour government wanted to bring them back, but honorable members opposite wanted them to stay in Egypt, and later, wanted to divert the 7th Division to Burma. Indeed, Mr. Churchill, without reference to the Australian Government, did divert the 7th Division to Burma, but the Commonwealth Government ordered its return to Australia and told Mr. Churchill that it held him responsible for the safety of every member of the convoy. It was said at that time that if the 7th Division were not in Burma that country would be lost, and the gateway to India would be opened - to the enemy. The Churchillian policy was to save India even at the expense of abandoning Australia. This afternoon the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) related the priorities of the Chamberlain Government, but the Churchill Government also had its priorities. By supporting the Churchillian policy honorable mem!bers opposite risked the safety of Australia. We on this side claim that Australia has the right to determine its own policy, but honorable members opposite prefer to accept, almost without question, the policy of the British Government from time to time. I should like to see the cablegrams which passed between the British and Australian ‘Governments at the time of tlie Munich crisis, and also on the subject of the abandonment of Czechoslovakia. I cite also, as evidence of the* lack of an Australian policy on the part of the Opposition, its support for the policy of “Beat Hitler First “. Many people in Australia held that the Pacific theatre of war was of equal importance to the European theatre, and, that the “Beat- Hitler First” policy might result in the abandonment of Australia in order .that all efforts could be concentrated on winning a victory in Europe. We were told that if the war in the Pacific went badly for Australia our country would be taken back after final victory had been Avon. But the state of Australia in those circumstances would have been too terrible to imagine; the country might not have been worth taking back as a constituent member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Australian Labour party is the only political party in Australia that is truly Australian, whilst Australian Labour Governments are the only governments which at all times and in all circumstances put, Australia first. As a member of the Australian Labour party and as a Minister in an Australian Labour Government, I proudly proclaim my Australian nationalism. I am a nationalist before I am an internationalist.
.- It is not my role to reply in detail to the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), but I shall deal with one or two points which he made during his speech. Honorable members who listened to the Minister must have noticed that the first part of his speech was devoted to expressing Australia’s role in international affairs as that of an independent nation. In the middle of his speech the Minister pointed out how dependent Australia is on the British Empire for its protection. First, he expressed the view that Australia should have an independent voice and, if necessary, should pursue an independent course and not merely follow the rest of the Empire. But then he turned around and said that when trouble threatened, the security of this nation undoubtedly lay in the strength and protection of the British Empire. Some years ago I was privileged to attend an Empire conference. It was not one of the most important conferences, but my opinion based on my experience was that the heart of the Empire has no wish to have dominion representatives attend such meetings in any subservient roles. British leaders like to hear expressed at Westminster or at any Empire gathering, the frank views of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the colonies because only by a thorough understanding of the problems of those countries can the public opinion of their’ peoples be gauged. A successful Empire foreign policy can be formulated only with a knowledge of public opinion throughout the Empire. But the line of independence can be pursued to the point of danger not only to the security of this country, but also to that of the Empire. Anything that threatens to weaken the Empire as a whole also threatens to weaken every integral part of the Empire. Australia could not last long as an independent nation. By all means let us send representatives to Empire and international conferences so that Australia’s viewpoint may be placed clearly before the peoples of the world, but let us remember that we are part of a family and partners in the finest institution ever conceived by the mind of man. If members of that family cannot agree on fundamentals, the entire fabric that has been built up over the years will be weakened, and perhaps destroyed, leading inevitably to the destruction of every member of the family. In many parts of the world there is jealously and rivalry concerning the British Empire, and there are many stresses and strains which are ‘ a danger not only to’ the Empire but also to the peace, of the world. Any voice in this House which seeks to detract from the unity of the British family of nations will weaken the strength of the Empire in world affairs_, and any sentiment that fails to take into consideration the fact that a divided Empire voice is a weakened Empire voice, is not a real Australian sentiment. In my opinion, the views placed before the House and the country by members on this side of the chamber, are more indicative of a sound healthy public spirit and sentiment than those expressed by the Minister for Information.
The Minister mentioned the aircraft production industry, and accused governments formed by the parties now in opposition of having done nothing to assist that undertaking. Strangely enough, the honorable member mentioned the year 1985 - the very year, as most honorable members are aware, in which the first steps were taken to establish the aircraft production industry in this country. In the following year, 1936, Wing Commander Wackett and another representative of the Royal Australian Air Force were sent overseas to determine the most suitable type of aircraft to manufacture in this country. Approximately two years later, in 193S, the production of Australian aircraft at Fishermen’s Bend commenced. Therefore, the birth of the Australian aircraft production industry occurred during the regime of the Lyons Government and in the very year which the Minister mentioned.
It is true that when the Coral Sea battle had been won this country was virtually safe from invasion ; but what was the fundamental factor in the winning of the Coral Sea battle? Was it aircraft or naval supremacy? We have possibly seen the last war in which naval power will be a predominant factor. I do not discount the power of aircraft, but in the war just concluded, aircraft were only a natural ancillary to naval power. Basically, winning the war depended upon the supremacy of the allied nations at sea. We retained that supremacy. Aircraft played an important part in the Coral Sea battle, but the deciding factor was the strength of the American naval forces.
In the latter portion of the Minister’s speech he made what could be regarded as an attack upon the Churchill Govern ment- of Great Britain, and its policy during the concluding stages of the war. When history is written, Mr. Churchill will emerge as the greatest war leader the British Empire has ever had. I believe he even overshadows the/Earl of Chatham as the greatest Englishman of all time. In the light of the hard cold facts, historians will be hard pressed to find a flaw in the policy pursued by the Churchill Governm’ent. The Minister stated that Mr. Churchill had wanted to send Australian troops to Burma. It is true tha.t there was a suggestion that certain Australian troops should be diverted to that theatre of war; .but on a.H occasions Mr. Churchill made it clear that dominion troops were under the direct control of the Dominions, and that he would not take any action tha.t would undermine that control. He did not cavil when the request was made that Australian troops be sent home instead of to Burma. There was no denial at any time by Mr. Churchill of the right of the Dominions to determine the theatres in which their troops would be employed. But this is the point: When the troops returned to this country, they were fully equipped and trained for combat. The arms that they carried were British, and it was Britain they had to thank for the greater part of their training. That is a fact that will be substantiated by members of the 7th or 9th Divisions. It is not to the credit of any member of this Parliament to endeavour to cloud this debate on international affairs with untruths which he knows will be accepted only in certain ignorant quarters. Mr. Churchill has been depicted as a man who was willing to desert Australia in favour of Burma; but what are the facts? What happened when Japan came into the war? Did not Mr. Churchill immediately make arrangements with the United States of America for each nation to have its sphere of influence? Because of geographical considerations it was agreed that Australia should come within the sphere of the United States of America. Was that not correct? We were close to America and a long way from Great Britain. The main theatres of war were closer to Great Britain than to America. So Great Britain said to America, “We will look after the main theatres of war until you can place your power. We ask you to accept the leading role in the Pacific, because we admit our inability to fill it.”
– John Curtin was responsible for bringing American forces to Australia.
– The Minister cannot deny that Mr. Churchill made that arrangement long before the squeals started here. American troops on American transports were on their way to Australia long before the squealing that disgusted all decent Australians occurred. There was never any intention that Australia should be allowed to be taken by the enemy. If. I have done nothing else but remove the misconceptions that exist in some minds as to the respective roles of Great Britain and the United States of America I have made an important contribution to this debate.
After any great conflict a wave of idealism and emotionalism sweeps over the world. Statesmen and others who have been under the stress and strain of war demand some form of international organization that will ensure that never again shall war be waged. There is a demand for an international court to which nations shall have access for the settlement of disputes. With the passage of time the wave of emotionalism recedes. People resume their normal lives, and that breeds what could be termed isolationalism. That is true of all nations but perhaps truer of the United States of America than others. It is not so true of the British because of geographical considerations. Great Britain is the pivot between the East and. the West, and the British have had to take cognizance of international affairs as a part of their lives. The AngloSaxon race has for years played a dominant part in international affairs. The immediate effect of the wave of idealism or emotionalism that follows wars is the creation of some form of international organization. After World War I., the League of Nations was evolved, mainly on the fourteen points prepared and given to the world by President Wilson, but because of a desire to escape international obligations the United States of America repudiated the League. It failed. But why did it fail? It failed because there was a lack of will on the part of the nations to enforce international law through an international court. It failed because people hated to think it was necessary to jeopardize lives in the enforcement of international law. A series of incidents took place and the League failed to take effective action. So, eventually it disappeared. The first occasion in which it failed to takeeffective action was in connexion with the China incident. That was the first example of Japanese aggression. The United States of America was prepared, how far we do not know, to’ take action; but the attitude of the Western powers was more or less, “ The East is far away. We are not prepared. We have no forces. What can we do in any case?” So the China incident went on. The next was in 1935, when the nations^ knew that the Abyssinian war was looming. Very late in the day the League of Nations determined to take some action.. Behind the action taken on the Abyssinian question was the fear of German, rearmament and possible aggression. So, in many respects, the action taken by theLeague on that occasion was taken not so much because of Mussolini’s intentions as of the realization that war with Germany was coming closer. The action was not very positive. We know that Great Britain was prepared to go farther than the other nations were, and that public opinion in Great Britain at that time was one cause of Mussolini’s takingItaly from nations arrayed against Germany into the Axis camp. The third incident was Mr. Chamberlain’s meeting: with Hitler at Munich in 1938. Munich has been mentioned several times in thisdebate. It has been said that Russia was not represented at the Munich conference. The Minister for External Affairs spoke about a cordon sanitaire in Europe that excluded Bussia, and there have been insinuations that Great Britain formed a part of it. What were thecircumstances? The League of Nationshad failed. The position was desperateWar was about to break out. A small nation was- to come under the yoke of the Nazis; Mr. Chamberlain went toMuni ch to negotiate on the basis of a business deal with a man with no conception of an honest business deal. It is true that a part of Czechoslovakia was to go to Germany, that was the price paid for twelve months’ breathing space, which enabled Great Britain so last through 1940 and enabled the Allies to win. No, Russia was not represented at Munich. Great Britain was. But did Great Britain have any obligations to Czechoslovakia? No. Did Russia have any obligations to Czechoslovakia? Yes. Did Russia make any attempt to meet those obligations? No. It never even lifted its voice on behalf of Czechoslovakia. At any rate, the bulk of Czechoslovakia remained under Czechoslovakian rule for some months, not because of action by Russia, a country that had solemnly entered into a treaty with Czechoslovakia, but because a frail old man with an umbrella went to Munich. After the Munich meeting Great Britain guaranteed the security of Poland. It is well known that the way of aggression against Russia was through Poland. Therefore, when Great Britain gave its pledge to protect the Polish State, it gave a pledge also to Russia that any aggression against the Soviet Union through Poland would immediately bring Great Britain into the. war on the side of Russia. What happened? At the very time when British statesmen were negotiating with Stalin in Moscow, the Germans were also there. At the end of August, 1939, when the news of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was flashed around the world, people in every country who had even a slight knowledge of foreign affairs said immediately “ that agreement spells war “. The agreement which Russia signed with Germany safeguarded the Nazis’ eastern flank, and left them free to attack Poland and the western powers. Therefore, when assigning responsibility for the last war, we cannot wholly exonerate Russia. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) read extracts from the diary of Grand Admiral Raeder, in which he stated definitely that Russian sympathies and help were extended to Germany even after the outbreak of war. But we do not need to cite Admiral Raeder as an authority, because our own newspapers published photographs of wagons transporting oil from Russia to provide fuel for the German war machine.
What was Stalin’s idea in signing the pact with Germany? There can be only one explanation. The Communist State sought and still seeks to promote world revolution and the creation in every country of a totalitarian form of government subservient to Moscow. Quite clearly, Stalin saw that any conflict between the Nazis on the one band and Great Britain and France on the other would weaken the western powers and leave Russia strong enough to dominate Europe. But what happened? To the amazement of every one, and, I daresay, of Stalin more than any other person, the whole- of the Low Countries and France “were prostrate beneath the heel of Hitler within a few months. Then followed the Battle of Britain. Thanks to the twelve months’ respite gained by Mr. Chamberlain at Munich, Great Britain was able to establish, first, local supremacy over the skies at Dunkirk, and, secondly, air supremacy over the British Isles. That local supremacy of the air, followed by naval supremacy, made any attempt to invade the United Kingdom a most hazardous undertaking. What was the- position then? Stalin and Hitler -were alone in Europe. Both of them could not remain and live. Stalin recognized that truth when he invaded Finland, because his objective was to establish a stronger frontier against German aggression. When Western Europe fell beneath Hitler’s onslaught, Stalin knew that Russia would be attacked. Hitler had stated in Mein Kampf that German expansion must take place at the expense of Russia. So, on the 22nd June, 1941, Germany attacked Russia, and we know what followed. Great Britain, remembering the lessons of 19.16, immediately sent to the Soviet arms, food, wool and chemicals. Regardless of ihe cost, those sinews of war were transported . through the northern waters, where the convoys were subject to incessant attack by hostile submarines and aircraft. Those convoys provided an epic of heroism possibly unequalled in history. Although threatened on several fronts, Great Britain sent equipment of all kinds by convoy to Murmansk, and armed 29 Russian divisions. Later, other Russian divisions were armed by the United
States of America. I make those remarks because I believe that the facts should be placed on record.
After the cessation of hostilities, we find again the stimulus of a demand for an enduring peace, the creation of the United Nations.
– The honorable memberhas not dealt with the closing of the Burma Road.
– I can debate that decision at any time. So far, I have endeavoured to describe some of the incidents which led to the outbreak of the la3t war, and some of the incidents of the war itself. I come now to the aftermath of the war, and the establishment of the United Nations. Some honorable members have stated correctly that the United Nations is, at best, an experiment. It has yet to be tried and tested. It rests, as did the League of Nations, upon the readiness of the people to enforce the rule of law in international affairs. When I study this problem and the various aspects which can contribute to the success of the United Nations, I have more than one real doubt. However, I desire to discuss principally two points relating to the United Nations. The first deals with the power of veto, and the second with the international force which is to be created to enforce the- decisions of the organization.
The Minister for External Affairs stated in his speech that Moscow refused to become a member of the United Nations unless it possessed the power of veto. I do not know for certain, but I believe that none of the big nations would enter the organization unless it possessed that power. I could not imagine for a moment Great Britain becoming a member of the United Nations without having it. Great Britain would not pledge itself to possible dismemberment by a group of nations jealous of its power and interests and able through some organization to cause its downfall as a first-class power. That leads me to the role played by the Minister for External Affairs at San Francisco. He became the leader - the noted leader - of the small nations. To a person going abroad to represent Australia at an international conference, two courses of action are open. One is to accept the doctrine enunciated in the first part of the speech of the Minister for Information, namely, that Australia should be regarded as a separate nation and speak with an independent voice. If that role be taken, Australia speaks in international conferences as a small nation. But is that our correct role? It is true that any one of the components of the British Empire may be described as a small nation. Professor Harold Laski some time ago said that Great Britain was no longer a first-class power. If he referred to Great Britain alone, possibly he was right. Undoubtedly he would have been correct if he had stated that Australia or Canada was a small nation. But he would be wrong if he said that the British Empire was a second-class power. The British Empire is a first-class power. I believe that it is the greatest potential power in the world; and in saying that, I do not exclude the United States of America. It may be that certain parts of the British Empire ia,re undeveloped; but all countries within the . Empire are capable of carrying many millions more people and of producing many millions more worth of goods, including armaments if they be desired. The material advancement of India has barely been commenced. Potentially the British Empire is the greatest power in the world provided that all within the Empire work and act together. If the members of the Empire act independently, the parts become small nations; and, eventually, the heart of the Empire, Great Britain itself, may become a second-class nation. What the Minister for External Affairs failed to realize in his representation of this country at San Francisco was that Australia is not a small nation, but, as an integral part of the British Empire, we are a member of a first-class power. However, he did not take that view. Instead, he preferred to become the “King of the kids “. He enlisted the support and tried to lead all the small nations. But his role, and the correct role of any Australian Minister at any international gathering should not be that of a representative of a small nation acting independently in international affairs, but that of one of the representatives of a first-class power, which is . the greatest potential force in the world to-day and the finest institution the world has ever seen. We shall find that basically our differences with the Old Country are ethical rather than practical, and relate more to details than to principles. If we confuse ethics with realities, or details with principles, we shall tend to weaken the Empire; but if Ave are prepared, as sensible men, to meet and discuss our policies with representatives of other British countries, and if possible, follow a common line of action, Australia’s influence in international affairs will be immeasurably increased and will serve the best interests of the British Empire.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– In our discussions on foreign affairs we must realize that our great young country, in its isolation, is immune from border disputes which have been the principal causes of wars. For that reason Ave need have no fear of trouble in that respect from within. Therefore, in this discussion Ave must turn our minds to the position and conduct of other nations, particularly European nations. The last Avar, like preceding wars, started in Europe ; and from the troubles already brewing there, it would appear that the next Avar will also start on that continent. However, should that not be the case, the next Avar, is not likely to start in Australia, unless too many honorable members develop the same outlook as the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell). At present, Ave live as a peaceful nation, and. we hope, under peaceful conditions, to expand our interests as a. member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and through the United Nations for the good of all. At the same time, international problems are of direct concern to us, and Ave should not treat them lightly or from a party standpoint. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is to be congratulated upon the attention he has devoted to this problem. In his statement upon foreign affairs he has gwen us much valuable information with respect to his work overseas. He dealt at length Avith the peace settlement, and he urged that in all peace settlements Australia should play its part at the peace table. I hope that Ave shall always play our part in that respect, as a member of the British
Empire, and, if possible, agree Avith the other members of the Empire upon a joint policy before Ave approach the peace table.- As the Minister for Information has said, we must promote Australia’s interests first. We shall do so by developing our trade and increasing our population in co-operation with other members of the British Empire. The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) would, perhaps, sarcastically correct me for referring to the British Empire, because he has stressed that Australia is a member of a Commonwealth of Nations. In view of our ratification of the Statute of Westminster, that is true. None the less, Ave are still a part of the British Empire, and other countries judge us in relation to the power of Great Britain through the British Empire. But for the ratification of the Statute of Westminster by this Parliament Mussolini may not have entered the Avar in support of Hitler, because it has been said that Mussolini, in speaking to an Australian Prime Minister implied that the Dominions WOuld not help Great Britain should it go to war. He understood that we would not stand Avith Great Britain. It is unwise to express our differences in matters of policy Avith Great Britain, without first discussing such problems with Great Britain and the other members in the Empire, because such a practice is very likely to lead other nations to believe that the Dominions are at loggerheads. The Minister for External Affairs also dealt very fully with the United Nations, which generally has been very much under the spotlight since its last meeting, and in respect of its decisions concerning the trusteeship of dependent countries. The right honorable gentleman dealt specifically with the future of islands in the Pacific in which Ave are directly interested. I hope that Australia WIll be represented at all international councils at which affairs affecting the Pacific are considered. Therefore, I ask’ the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) why Australia Avas not represented at recent discussions between representatives of the United States of America and other countries when the United States of America made requests for certain bases in the Pacific. The United States of America should be gh’i.ii reasonable control over islands in the northern and. central Pacific -which it considers is vital to the interests of the United States of America and the maintenance of peace. That is most desirable. Therefore I support the proposal to grant to the United States of America, in order to increase its strength in the Pacific, the occupation of islands previously controlled by the Japanese. The Minister for External Affairs also- dealt with economic and social planning”. The right honorable gentleman pins his faith to the United Nations. I believe that every Australian sincerely hopes that tha[ trust will be justified.- I trust that the experience of the United Nations will not be the same as that of its forerunner, the League of Nations, which was abandoned by some of its large and influential members when it refused to sanction acts of aggression. Following the withdrawal of Germany, Japan, and Italy from membership of the League there -were nearly as many nations outside the League as there were members of it. I trust that the United Nations will become a real and effective instrument for. world peace, and that problems arising between its constituent” members will be thrashed out satisfactorily and expeditiously. The Minister for Externa] Affairs states that pessimism has not been lessened by the temporary failure of the Security Council to solve the problems of Iran, Greece, and Indonesia. As far as Indonesia and Greece, are concerned., I believe, as must other honorable members, that the complaints brought before the Security Council were dealt with to tlie satisfaction of all concerned. As for the problems confronting Indonesia and Greece, it is apparent to the unbiased onlooker that these were introduced into the council discussions by the Russian representative as a “red herring” to distract attention from events of much more far-reaching importance which were already taking shape. Great Britain’s viewpoint, however; was put before the council unequivocally and fairly by the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Bevin. I am pleased that Mr. Bevin, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, has brought to the important task entrusted to him the statesmanship which he exhibited throughout his long years of service in the cause of the Empire. The debatein the council, however, far from undermining British prestige gave reason for retaining it, and focussed world attention oh Russia’s foreign policy. The views of the English-speaking peoples of the world and small nations found their expression in the fearless speech made by -Mr. Churchill in which he revealed Russia’s imperialistic expansionist aims. His forthright speech brought forth from the Soviet official journal Pravda the retort that Churchill was promoting war, and the accusation that Great Britain and the Western democracies were attempting to plunge the world again into- the cataclysm of war. In order to demonstrate how timely was Mr. Churchill’s exposure of Russia’s expansionist aims we have only to recall the events that preceded the war of 1939-45. Long before the outbreak of that war Mr. Churchill endeavoured to arouse in the minds of the British people some conception of the serious position into which affairs in Europe were then drifting and of the possibility of war. At that time Hitler was trailing his coat and threatening war against ali who stood in his way. Mr. Churchill’s advice to stand prepared for the worst was ignored. What was the result? With great suddenness and with no time for preparation the world was ablaze. We all remember the catastrophic failures that marked our early participation in the war ; but we remember, too, thu striking messages which Mr. Churchill addressed to the people, and the glorious stand made by Great Britain when it alone halted the onrush of the aggressor. It ‘ is only because of Great Britain’s heroic stand in those days that it is possible for Russia and, for that matter,” the United States of America, to enjoy the fruits of victory to-day. Recently Senator Connally, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate of the United States of America said -
Russia could have peace by supporting and co-operating with the United Nations. Russia must understand that her right to maintain any form oF government she wants does not extend beyond her boundaries.
That is sound advice and should clear up any misconception of the position. During thi3 debate the Minister for Transport said that prior to World War II. Mr. Chamberlain sent to ‘Russia as mediator a second-class clerk. Perhaps the honorable gentleman would have sent a “brass hat “ to negotiate. Mr. Anthony Eden, who was assigned by Mr. Chamberlain to undertake this important task ascertained that the price of Russia’s friendship was suzerainty over Esthonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Mr. Chamberlain and the British Government would not agree, and while negotiations were proceeding, and whilst a British military mission was present in Moscow., M. Molotov, Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, signed a ten years peace treaty with Hitler. The fact that negotiations broke down was not due to the failure of Great Britain or its representatives, but to the comlete disregard of justice exhibited by the Russians in their imperialistic aims: Soon after the signing of the Russo-German treaty, the Germans entered Poland, whereupon Russia invaded Poland from the east and quickly overran a half of it showing clearly the price Germany was then prepared to pay Russia for the treaty. When Poland was invaded, Great Britain honoured its promise to protect the Poles >and immediately declared war upon Germany. Russia still holds eastern Poland and dominates .the balance. The existence of the Security Council and its importance to the United Nations guarantees an opportunity for open discussion before events reach a stage at which they became difficult to halt. As a member of the United Nations Russia .has the same opportunities to air its views on international politics as have other members. That Russia has taken advantage of this opportunity is evidenced by its. attempts to focus world opinion on happenings in Greece and Indonesia. Since the war ended Russia has encroached, not only on the Baltic States, but, also on the Balkans, and is apparently now contemplating further acts of aggression. The United Nations i* endeavouring to mediate with Russia, and by the employment of peaceful means 10 dissuade it from proceeding any further with this aggression. That country has failed to honour the pact into which it entered to withdraw its troops from Iran by the 2nd March and on the contrary has doubled the number of its troops in that .country. Turkey, too, is complaining of the threats that Russia is making against its. territory. These are illustrations of the determination of Russia to expand. In so doing, it is undermining the very foundations on which the United Nations has been built, namely, the protection of the smaller nations, the avoidance of war, and the ensuring of peace and goodwill among all nations in all parts of the world. We all know that Mr. Churchill’s advice was based on the hope that Russia would be induced to refrain from aggression and to i! play the game “ with those nations which were its allies during the war. It is to be hoped that the efforts of Mr. Attlee. Prime Minister of Great Britain, by the Foreign Ministers of the United States of America and Britain, and by other interested parties, will result in Russia openly telling the world that its policy is not one of aggression, and that it is’ prepared to do its utmost, in cooperation with its former allies, to preserve peace and to make it unnecessary for other countries to take defensive mea.sures to safeguard their frontiers. If Stalin desires peace, as he states, the matter is in his own hands.
.- Debates on foreign affairs are all too rare in this chamber. The reference this afternoon by the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) to the bare state of this chamber reflecting the interest in foreign affairs of the people of this country, merely served to emphasize the need for discussions such as that which lias taken place in the last week or so, in order to awaken the people to the need for taking a greater interest in the affairs of the world. Despite the remark of that honorable member that it. does not matter what happens in Persia, Greece or Rumania, nevertheless the happenings in those countries will have repercussions throughout the world which we cannot escape. A debate at this time is of more than ordinary importance because we are at a stage in history when we are attempting to establish an organization that will deal with world security for the future and while we arc still engaged in the process of formulating tlie terms of settlement of a world war. It is not too much to say that neither the settlement of old claims, however valid, nor the exaction of penalties, however just, should be the main object of any peace treaty. . Rather should the aim be to secure for future generations freedom from that scourge which has afflicted our generation. I believe it to be a recognition of that need which has brought into the forefront of this debate two main items of discussion : first, the position of Russia in world affairs to-day, and secondly, the emphasis - I repeat “ emphasis “ - that has to be placed upon the unity of the British Commonwealth of Nations in the counsels of the world. I do not pretend that I have anything very new to offer in this debate. I enter it for one particular reason: I am the only woman member of this House, and on that account possibly view these matters from an angle slightly different from that of other honorable members. There is also one other reason which I might advance : During the years that led up to the beginning of the last war, I was very close to those who were concerned with the forming of policies that affected the whole destiny of the world. It is because I see to-day signs of the repetition of certain lines of development of those days that I consider that I must not remain silent now. Any attempt to formulate an Australian policy in relation to foreign affairs must involve consideration of our relationship with other .countries from two different points of approach : first, through the United Nations; and secondly, directly. But each must be conditioned in some degree by the vital fact of our membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations. In 1935, I flew from London to Brussels with the object of making a tour of the battlefields of France. At the end of a three-days journey, I stood on a hill in the centre of a circle a mile in diameter, in which’ 200,000 men of World War I. had been buried. It is impossible for any one who has not had a similar experience, and has not had a visual demonstration of some of the results of war. to appreciate the effect upon the mind of such an experience. It converted my intellectual acceptance of the idea of international co-operation through an organization, such as - the League of Nations, into an almost passionate determination to uphold such an organization and to make it effective in the world of foreign affairs. It is true that at that time - in 1935 - the walls of the League of Nations were already beginning to crumble and that Mr. Churchill was then being called a war-monger because he was pointing to certain ominous signs in Europe. It is also true that he is being called a war-monger to-day. We dare not ignore the coincidence of those two facts. I suffered a certain degree of disillusion when finally war did come, and I realized that I, with others, had been blind. Although I was convinced that I must always support the desire and the effort to create an organization .of the kind of which the League of Nations had been the forerunner, I knew also that I dare never again accept that entirely as the bulwark of the defence of peace. So I have been tremendously interested in the work that has gone forward since the end of the war in the preparations for the organization that is known as the United Nations. I have watched with very great interest the work of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). May I say that I have a great deal of admiration for the industry he has displayed in the interest of the preservation of world peace. I have watched carefully his insistence upon the necessity to make this body work. I applauded him when he opposed the use of the veto, which contains the seeds of destruction of the whole fabric of the organization. I believe that the veto, particularly at the present time, can fail to prevent only one kind of war, and that is a world war. The only people who can really wage a world war are the major powers, and any one of those may apply the veto to prevent action being taken where that power is involved. If the latest suggestion that the veto be extended to cover discussion as well- as action were adopted, we should be in an even worse position than to-day. Nevertheless we must persist in our efforts to make the United Nations work. We must not set aside as negligible the help of the small nations, for in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. From any one of the small nations may come a suggestion of inestimable value. Yet we must not overplay that hand so as to obscure practical considerations and make impossible the successful operation of an organization which must of necessity have a difficult life. My own belief is that by means of conferences the United Nations must for a long time do its best work. I am greatly encouraged by the record of the International Labour Office, which since its inception has had accepted, ratified and put into operation by all the member countries over 900 of its recommendations. That, is an achievement of no small merit, and I believe that part of the reason for its success is that the representation on that body is on a much wider basis than on the Security Council. It goes beyond the political and official realm, as it provides for representation of, not only a political, but also an industrial nature, both primary and secondary. Official and professional people should both find representation on the Security Council of the United Nations organization and delegations should frequently change in personnel.
The General Assembly should be in continuous session, so that discussions might proceed from day to day and on many angles. By that means we may gradually approach a suggestion at least of homogeneity; but at present the desires of the nations are so diverse that it would seem almost impossible to- reach agreement based on a community of interests. I know that to speak in. terms such as this is to attempt to perpetuate an ideal and a vision, but it is on the idealistic and ideological plane that the best services of this organization will be given for some considerable time to come. The League of Nations having failed it is said because of too much idealism, we are in clanger of turning too far in the other direction and attempting a purely practical approach to international problems. Let us examine this practical approach. It is already an accepted theory, and in fact it has got almost beyond the theoretical stage, that the United Nations must be backed up by some military force. That provision I accept, but with some doubt in my mind. It may be true that a threat of force is a deterrent to any would-be aggressor, but it is also true that the one thing which the exertion of force cannot achieve is to preserve peace. By its very existence the exercise of force shatters peace. “What are the difficulties that confront us in. setting up such an arm to the security organization? I should say that it must be of such a strength as to be greater than that of the greatest force that could be opposed against it. I cannot imagine the permanent maintenance of an international force greater than the present fighting forces of either Great Britain or the United States of America, or greater than the Bed Army, with its necessary accompaniments of air and sea strength. It must also be sufficiently large that at any time it could suffer the withdrawal of the quota of any member nation, because it is unthinkable that any nation would be prepared to fight against its own nationals. How is such a force to be recruited? Is it to be on the lines of the Trench Foreign Legion, where those who meet trouble in their own countries seek enlistment under another banner? Where is this force to be maintained? To me it seems a little beyond the bounds of a practical possibility, although tentative plans are being sketched. There are those who pin their faith to an international air force. There again we come to questions that are little less insistent. There is to be considered for instance its relation to sea transport, which this war at least has demonstrated cannot he entirely ruled out. There is the further question of new inventions. Would any small nation be prepared to hand over any new invention that gave promise of greater security against forces that could be used against it? Finally there is the atomic bomb. In a world ruled by the spirit of goodwill which we are told over, and over again is the only guarantee of success for a world security organization, the only place in such an ideal world for the atomic bomb secrets would be with an international committee. That may well’ be the only place for them now; but happenings in Canada where our own nationals sworn to secrecy have not been prepared to keep their bond do not lead to any strong hope of greater loyalty to an international committee.
There is still one further question: Could preparation for war be policed within the boundaries of the various countries? I know those who espouse the idea of military force in connexion with .the United Nations will answer readily, “ Yes “ ; but the experience of Germany in the ten years immediately before the last war was such that I think it is very doubtful indeed whether we could prevent any nation, on one pretext or another, from attaining such formidable strength as to enable it to go to war. Considerations such as this make it absolutely incumbent on us to look now on the world with frank and fearless eyes. It is such a consideration as that which makes this moment so fraught with dangerous possibilities, because there is no organization which might he called upon to police the preparations to which I have referred, no organization to quell the beginnings of any aggression. Such considerations as these, I believe, entirely justify the Minister in having made an examination of Russia’s expansionist policy. The Minister absolves Russia of any aggressive motive, but I say this to him, and to Australia: It is not necessary to accuse Russia of a desire f or world domination in order to find ample grounds for grave disquiet at the situation which has- developed. The lines of: that development so closely resemble those which presaged the opening of the last war that it is necessary that Russia be told quite unwaveringly and firmly that the pursuance of such a policy can have only one effect - to arouse the fears and apprehensions,, and even, the suspicion, of the peoples of the world. Twice in a .periodof four years before the beginning of the recent war I was in Europe. I talked with statesmen, diplomats and. citizens of almost every country in. the world, and the story they told was the same as the story that is told to-day - there was no desire. for war. Those who looked upon Germany with some degree of doubt hushed their fears lest they should raise unnecessary alarm or precipitate a crisis. Others believed that. Germany’s claim that it was surrounded by potential enemies and had the right to protect itself by building around ite outer walls a bastion of friendly or at least malleable’ states was justified. Others pointed to Germany’s lack of desire for wai-. Indeed, I suggest that even the actual occurrence of war does not prove that Hitler desired war. If he could have continued with his bloodless victories and achieved his idea of German aggrandizement without war he would not have resorted to war. The point is, however, that war became inevitable, as it will always become inevitable when any nation attains such power that others begin to fear it. Let me read an item from a newspaper of the 21st March. The item, which carries a Washington headline, is as follows: -
Russia was determined not to permit a repetition of 1041 (when Hitler invaded the Soviet), and would not permit even the most modest preparations for attack on her borders.
This was. written in the Russian Embassy Bulletin by M. Eugene Tarle, one of Russia’s most frequent spokesmen in recent months.
Tarle stated that a deadlock had been reached in Russia’s relations with neighbours on the southern border.
Tarle laid down two points of Russian policy: “First, Russia is not striving for world domination.; second, in the efforts to achieve legitimate, necessary aims Russia will not submit to any threat, any cunning, nor any brandishing of new weapons.”
All I wish to say in comment on that paragraph is this: A policy which led inevitably to war in the last decade must inevitably lead to similar disaster in this one, whether the result achieved be one of intention, or merely one of accident.
I now turn to the other point upon which there has been so much discussion. The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) this afternoon seized upon lines of argument that had been developed on this side of the House, and gave them a little twist which had the effect of putting them out of focus. He suggested that those on this side of the House who spoke on the need for unity with the British Commonwealth of Nations in our international dealings were aiming to bring about a state of complete subservience to Great Britain by the people of the dominions. I cannot believe that the Minister was serious. Surely he must know something of the battles that have gone on behind’ the scenes for many years past. I myself have knowledge of the battle which was fought over the Argentinian meat agreements, and of other: differences between the governments of Great Britain and of Australia; yet there, was no suggestion of departing from a policy which would permit of the presentation of an unbroken front to the world. The Minister must know that to be a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations imposes upon us certain obligations, just as to be a member of the United Nations imposes upon us certain obligations. I thought that his expression . of regard for Great Britain was one of the strangest that I have ever heard. He said that any one who now wished Australia to break away from Britain was either mad or bad, because we could not survive without Great Britain. I am sure that this suggestion of cupboard love does not do justice to his feelings. I believe that the Minister, in common with other honorable members opposite, have higher motives for their attachment to Great Britain than the purely selfish one which he suggested.
– The honorable member is too generous to the Minister.
– It has been suggested that I am too generous, but I shall leave the matter where it stands. No one suggests for a moment that it is always necessary,or even desirable, for all parts of the Empire to speak witb one voice, but on all considerations of major importance it is necessary, as I believe every one in this chamber agrees, that we should speak as one. For that reason I was pleased to receive the assurance of the Minister for External Affairs, that during the conference of Foreign Ministers, for instance, there ‘was frequent consultation between Mr. Attlee, Mr. Bevin, Lord Addison and himself. That is cheering news, and it is good that we should keep always in our minds the need for continuing with such a policy. However, I ask the Minister to explain, if he will, one point that has arisen within the last few days which displays a lack of unity even within.the councils of Australia itself. On Friday, ‘ the 22nd March, there appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald this paragraph -
Australia’s delegate to the Security Council, Colonel W.R. Hodgson, who arrived from Paris yesterday, said: “.Any country which wants this postponement means that it wants to negotiate behind the scenes, which is the equivalent of power politics. “ Australia has always advocated free and open discussion. The world is waiting on this. Why should we have another postponement for people to negotiate behind the scenes? The sooner the better.”
That statement was made in connexion with the suggestion of Russia that the discussion of the Persian question should be postponed. On the same day in the Melbourne Age there appeared the following paragraph in heavy type : -
The view of the Australian Government to-night was firmly in support of the -Russians” request for an adjournment of the Persian discussion at United Nations^ Organization Security Council. The Government believes that in such a serious matter, complete time should be given for the full facts to be known and studied.
I suggest that an Australian delegate to the Security Council should at least consult with his Government before making a statement on an important matter. I feel confident that when the Minister replies he will explain the contretemps that has arisen. I shall not deal with the matters before us at greater length because the ground has already been well covered, but shall conclude on this note: that the future peace of the world will depend on many things - a just and far-seeing peace treaty, the proper functioning of a world security organization and the contribution of individual countries to the well-being of the’world in purely national spheres. It is my belief that the contribution of the British peoples in the last mentioned sphere may well be its most important contribution. The modern concept of freedom, particularly in regard to civil and religious liberty owes more to Britain than to any other country. The war was fought in defence of that ideal, not for a “ new order “ as so many people have foolishly said. It was fought for the power to create a new order of the people’s own devising - a power that resides only in personal, political and national freedom. The promulgation of the Atlantic Charter has had one extraordinary result. By too great insistence on one or other of the freedoms which it enunciates, attention has been diverted from the freedom upon which every other must rest, namely, freedom from coercion. “We are the natural champions of that freedom, and ii.s such., must remain the unchallenged leaders in the cause of universal peace. Within the British Empire that basic concept of freedom has found many expressions. Through the constant interplay of thought and action upon a hundred different levels of co-operation, these varied forms merge into a harmony that may yet form a pattern for the fabric of world peace. From such a source, rather than from any emanation from a police state, Ve may well look for an emergence of that new order which is the undefined goal of the political hopes of millions of the world’s peoples.
– in reply - This debate has been lengthy; every honorable member has had a completely unfettered right to discuss every aspect of the paper which I read to the House in my opening speech. As the responsible Minister I have been in charge of the external policy of this country under the direction, first, of the former. Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, and later, of the Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, for a period of four and a half years. The present Government had been in office only about two months when Japan entered the war. The period since then - about four and a half years - has been in labour and responsibility a period of from ten to fifteen years. We have seen our country pass through the direst peril that could come to it - namely, the risk of invasion by a ferocious enemy. During the war, the foreign policy of Australia could not be distinguished from the defence policy of the country. When Japan came into the war we were short of almost every type of weapon, and large numbers of our fighting forces were overseas. We had to get aid from other countries. It was part of the policy of Australia to obtain that aid, and we succeeded in obtaining it from ‘ the United States of America and Great Britain. For nearly two years we were in a situation in which it was not possible to build up a post-war policy based on the principles which were in our hearts. As the days passed, we were able to take part in the framing of an organization the main object of which is to be the prevention of a third world war, and the removal of the causes of war. When I think of the efforts put forth by’ this country and its people during that period of crisis and reflect -that during this long debate all that could be said in criticism of the foreign policy of the Government was directed to one or two matters, out of. between 150 and 200 matters mentioned in my opening statement, I am entitled to regard the result as reflecting credit on the Government. Foreign policy has to do with the relations of Australia with many nations, and with transactions of both major and minor importance which arise from day to day, not only in this country, but also in many other parts of the world. During the war important decisions amounting to, perhaps, more than 100 a week had to be made. In those days there was not time to give full consideration to many other matters because of the supreme urgency of the war. In such circumstances, it is impossible to get complete agreement .regarding everything that this country did in its relations with other countries. By way of illustration, I mention that there has been some criticism of the relations between Australia and the Netherlands East Indies. Between “ 300 and 400 transactions with the Netherlands Government were brought to a successful issue, yet one aspect of those relations was the subject of a motion of want of confidence. No country received greater % support from Australia than did the Netherlands East Indies during its period of extreme crisis. Australian troops went to that country’s aid just as the Dutch fleet fought gallantly for Australia’s defence in the Java Sea. . It is impossible to sum up correctly the foreign policy of a country by considering only one incident. That truth was emphasized in the House of Commons when Lord Palmerston was Foreign Secretary. After a long debate, in which every aspect of foreign policy was discussed, the House of Commons emphasized the point that I am now making. In a debate on domestic policy, would it be possible to obtain support for everything done by any government in relation to all aspects of its domestic policy? Honorable members will agree that such support would not be forthcoming. The position is the: same in relation to a country’s foreign policy. I regard it as no mean achievement that the criticism - at times vehement criticism - of the long and comprehensive statement that I presented to the House recently was confined to two or three points. Did the Government during the war conduct the country’s foreign policy in the main with courage and success? On that basis its foreign policy should be judged. I claim, that the Government did so. There has been no criticism on that score. Now that hostilities have ended, we are broadly following the lines on which our foreign policy should be conducted.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made two main points. First, putting it negatively, bc argued that there was not sufficient co-operation between members of the British Commonwealth and Great Britain in respect of certain matters, and, secondly, the right honorable gentleman criticized the judgment that I gave in relation to Soviet Russia. The rest of my speech he left untouched, as it has been left by almost every speaker. That in itself shows that most of this Government’s foreign policy is acceptable to all parties in this House, subject to the criticism I have mentioned. Criticism has been confined to one or two minor aspects of Australia’s foreign policy, such as the need for adequate defence forces and for closer collaboration between members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Even these matters are not matters of criticism, but rather matters on which it is desired to place emphasis. When I brought before this House the bill for the ratification by this country of the United Nations Charter I emphasized the close relationship between defence policy and foreign policy. A country cannot have a strong foreign policy unless it has sufficiently strong defence forces to entitle it, to pursue a strong foreign policy. That is very important because of the right of veto possessed by each permanent member of the Security Council. There is no guarantee in the United
Nations Charter that forces will be employed by the United Nations in any particular- case, because each of the- five powers possesses the right of veto. That throws us back on other lines of defence, and, .as I pointed out, each country has to have its own defence forces and its friends and allies.
In my earlier statement I dealt at length with- the development of British Commonwealth relations; but this matter has been almost completely ignored in this debate. I pointed out that we had reached a new stage in British Commonwealth relations, and in saying that, I was putting not only my own view, but also that of the British Foreign Secretary with whom I discussed the matter at our conference in London last September. Broadly, the - developments have been these: First we had the supreme predominance of Britain in foreign affairs. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) in his brilliant speech referred to the time when Mr. Asquith refused to consult with dominion leaders such as Mr. Andrew Fisher on matters of foreign policy, maintaining that foreign policy was Britain’s sole responsibility. That was in 1910 or 1911. War broke out in 1914, and the Dominions came to the assistance of the Mother Country, not because they had been in any way responsible for the foreign policy pursued by -Great Britain, but because it was a case of kinsmen uniting in’a cause, right or wrong. We knew of course that the cause was right. After that conflict ended, due largely to the statesmanship of the then Prime Minister, the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), a. new stage was reached in Commonwealth relations. The right honorable gentleman was assisted by an extraordinary galaxy of men like General Botha, Genera] Smuts, and Sir R ebert Borden of Canada, and gradually a new concept of British Commonwealth relationships was evolved, culminating in the Balfour Declaration of 1926 which stated that each member of the British Commonwealth of Nations bad equal autonomy with the United Kingdom, not only in its domestic affairs, but also in all aspects of its external affairs. The declaration went on to say, however, that it did not follow that -the functions performed by each of them were the same, in that, in regard to defence policy and foreign policy the United Kingdom was in a sipecia.1 position and shouldered great responsibilities.
But that was twenty years ago. and. since that time the British Commonwealth as n member of the allied nations has passed through the most terrible of all wars - fi. war in which the Empire seems to have approached disaster more closely and more often than during the war of 1914-18. Some lessons have been learned from the last war. Certain facts are apparent even to honorable members opposite, because not only did they support a government which occupied the treasury toenail in this House during the early days .of the war but later, when Labour assumed office, some of their leaders took an active part in the activities of the Advisory War Council. One. of these facts was that in a war extending throughout the world, the various theatres present their own special problems, and that the conduct of tie war in the Pacific could not be the main responsibility of the United Kingdom. Honorable members will recall the appeal by the then- Prime Minister, the late Mr. John Curtin, to America in the early clays of 1942, when this country was threatened with invasion. The right honorable gentleman was strongly criticized for his action. Unfair attacks -were made upon him which did him a grave injustice, and caused him. considerable suffering, merely because he said that in the .crisis in which Australia found itself, the United Kingdom being mainly concerned with the enemy in Europe, Australia looked to America, its great democratic neighbour in the Pacific, for aid. One has only to read the newspapers of that time to see how bitter were the attacks made upon the then Prime Minister, to whom we all o;we so much. The fact remains however, that the aid which the right honorable gentleman sought was forthcoming. It has been suggested that aid was given to this country by the United States of America automatically. That is not so; great struggles had to be won in the councils of the world before aid was given. I was concerned with that rn titter during my visit overseas in 1942, just after the fall of Singapore. The great, difficulty was that during those fateful months production was limited, and tie sending of supplies to the SouthWest Pacific theatre of war was a serious problem. I shall not go into details of that .matter- now. The details will be adequately related by- historians; but surely those days taught us the lesson that in the British Common-wealth of Nations, the United Kingdom is essentially European, because .of its geographical situation, and that the Dominions,, scattered over the globe, must .do their allotted tasks and co-operate effectively if the entire burden is not to be left to thehomeland. I emphasized that point strongly in my statement and I expected it to be debated, because I think it is a true conception of the present position. To-day in certain parts of the world, and for certain purposes, the Dominions perform functions on behalf of the United’ Kingdom and other members of the British Commonwealth, just as. the United Kingdom, in Europe and in certain other areas, and for certain purposes, will continue to perform functions on behalf of the Empire. For instance an Australian, General Northcott, is acting for the United Kingdom, NewZealand and India on the Allied Council in Tokyo, and is Leader of the British military forces in that area. Sir William Webb has been appointed aspresiding judge of the War Crimes Tribunal in Tokyo, -which’ includes representatives of all the United Nations,, including the United Kingdom. So wehave a development of the British Commonwealth relationship. I do not think any honorable member opposite has done more than make objections and insinuations about this, but I say most positively at once that we on this side are kinsmen of the British and. our loyalty is as unquestioned as is that of any one in this House,, and the people of Australia know it. Mostly our policy coincides with that of Great Britain, but at times it is different. That does not interfere with the broad1 fact that we co-operate to the maximum: possible degree with all other membersof the British Commonwealth, especiallythe United Kingdom. I must refer t,osome of the practical difficulties, becauseone. cannot talk abstractions. Difficultiesdo arise from time to time. We do all wecan to meet them. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition does udt mean it, and I. do not think he does, but in somer of his remarks he said that the Australian policy on foreign affairs should reflect that of Great Britain. That would be fatal. There are so many matters, particularly in the Pacific on which the opposite view is probably correct, and tlie British Government would be inclined to accept the views of New Zealand and Australia because of their special knowledge of Pacific affairs. It -should be clearly stated that the policy of the Government is guided, in the first instance by the carrying out of its duty to Australia and to the Australian people. I do not think there can lie any doubt about that. If that is denied, it is a great issue.
– No one denies that.
– One of the pivots of our policy is co-operation with the British Commonwealth, not on occasions but all the lime. The wool agreement, a most remarkable agreement, was made with the British Commonwealth. The communications agreement was made with the British Commonwealth. So was the aviation agreement. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) emphasized thai aspect in his speech. It is not right to think all the time in terms of political agreements, because there are .also these functional agreements about matters that constitute the day by day life of the country. In these matters there is the greatest possible co-operation. MrMacmahon Ball wrote in 1945 -
But if our sense of unity with Britain U rooted in our national consciousness^ and collaboration with Britain our first consideration in the conduct of our external affairs, this does not mean that Australia’s foreign policy is simply a duplication or reflection of British policy. Britain is a European power., intimately involved in the fortunes of Europe. Her destiny lies mainly in Europe. Australia’s destiny lies mainly in the Pacific. It is true that there can he no political or strategic separation of the areas. Both world wars have begun in .Europe and both have immediately involved Australia. That is why Dr. Evatt insists that we cannot contract out of
Europe. Nevertheless, neighborhood is still important. The world’s lights and shadows often appear differently in London and Canberra. To the British Government the problem of protecting Australia and New Zealand is the problem of protecting distant kinsmen. To us it is the problem of protecting our own homes. To Britain the economic and political development of the widely scattered British islands in the South Pacific is only one of a number of colonial issues with which she is faced all over the world. To us, the welfare of these islanders is more pressing, for our security in large part demands on the contentment and goodwill of these near neighbours.
That, I think, puts the position accurately. It is a question of the division of labour. We should do well, I suggest, to study the newer .developments in this relationship. I can give an excellent illustration of the position by referring to a suggestion made by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). He emphasized the importance to Australia of Portuguese Timor and New Caledonia. I do not quite understand just what his suggestion is or whether he thinks that the sovereignty of those islands should pass to Australia. At any rate, be made it clear that we should have some tangible interest in both countries. -Let me give the facts about Portuguese Timor, because they show how cooperation with Great Britain works and “must continue to work. I am not going back to the early days of the struggle in Portuguese Timor, but we sent forces there. They received no support whatever from the Government of Portugal. I will not go into the reasons. They went into Timor by arrangement, and, as the Japanese drove south and finally took Dilli, the capital, our troops had to take to the jungle or the bushland, and they did a magnificent job. They remained there for eighteen months or two years while the Japanese were in occupation of Dilli. In 1943, Mr. Churchill and Mr. Eden were concerned about the Azores in the Atlantic. As honorable members are aware the position in the Atlantic in 1943 was extremely serious owing to the tremendous shipping losses. The occupation and use of the Azores as an air base by the United States of America and the United Kingdom were of supreme importance, and an arrangement had to be made between Great Britain and Portugal. The Portuguese asked the British Government, as a part of the arrangement over the Azores, to ensure that the Government of Australia should give an undertaking that in its post-war planning it would make no attempt to alte’r the sovereignty of Portuguese; Timor.
– I did not agree with that.
– I want to give the House the facts, which show how difficult it is to make demands in regard to territories like Portuguese Timor in an isolated way. Mr. Churchill put that to us, and I agreed with him and obtained the consent of the Commonwealth Government to the agreement. We decided to seek an arrangement with the Portuguese covering mutual defence, civil aviation, and trade. The Portuguese Government agreed. -So we, at the request of the British Government, because the needs of Great Britain were supreme, made that arrangement which affected our relationship with the Portuguese.
– For how long will that agreement last?
– That agreement was made in 1943, and it must be fully implemented. New Caledonia is in the same category. Situated within a few hours’ flight of Australia, that territory is of supreme importance to us strategically. When dealing with a territory like New Caledonia, we must remember that closely associated with it is France, which was almost battered to death in the last war, but which has been and will be again one of the great nations of the world. Consequently, the future of New Caledonia cannot be isolated from the problem of France.
Co-operation with Great Britain is a matter not merely of talking co-operation but of actually co-operating with Great Britain almost every day. There are hundreds of matters dealt with by cooperation on which we yield or -on which Great Britain yields,, and, accordingly, we reach an agreement. It is only on the rarest occasions that an issue arises of such importance that a difference of opinion appears, and during this debate no honorable member has mentioned any particular point of difference. At the San Francisco conference, the differences were, in the main, between the Australian delegation and Soviet Russia. We fought vigorously against certain i.spects of the veto power, and we also fought vigorously for extending the powers of the General Assembly. That illustration will convince the House that these problems are not problems of mere debating but of day-to-day administration. We saw Great Britain’s necessity, yielded to Mr. Churchill’s wishes and made an arrangement which was not of such a satisfactory character as we might otherwise have made but which, in the circumstances was satisfactory to Australia.
Let me make this disclosure, which I regard as being of extreme importance. In order to have consultation and cooperation with the United Kingdom we must have some machinery other than communication by cablegram.Honorable members will realize that that is not the best form of co-operation. It may lead to decisions of a minor character, but does not constitute the best machinery for consultation. When attending the conference of Prime Ministers in London in 1944, the -late John Curtin declared, “ This machinery is not good enough. If we are to have satisfactory co-operation, the machinery must be improved.” Accordingly, he submitted to the conference a plan for more satisfactory machinery of co-operation involving a secretariat and regular, systematic consultation between the United Kingdom and the Dominions. The proposal was rejected.- The Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Mackenzie King, stated publicly that he would not consider it. The Prime Minister of South Africa, General Smuts, would have nothing to do with it. The proposal was not satisfactory to Mr. Churchill. In that instance, Australia took the initiative “in endeavouring to secure a better system of consultation within the British Commonwealth, and the attempt failed. Therefore, these consultations must be conducted in a less formal way. I do not contend that the present method does not possess many advantages, but I think that the Leader of the Opposition and the right honorable member for Cowper will see that if it is to be effective, there must be some regularity about it. The efforts of the ‘ late Mr. Curtin failed for the reason which I have mentioned.
This debate has established that foreign policy is now a matter of greater concern in this country than ever before. Since this Government took office, it has tried deliberately to foster an interest in our relationship to world affairs, and during each session of the Parliament, or on any special occasion, full and comprehensive statements on foreign affairs have been made by either the Prime Minister or myself. There has been a sequence of statements, and if they are collected - I Lave collected some of them in book form - they will give a detailed picture of the foreign affairs of this country since 1941. The policy of the Government has been entirely consistent with the principles embodied in those statements. ,1 thank honorable members for the interest which they have displayed in this debate. The Opposition will pardon me if I make special mention of the speeches of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke). They gave me great confidence that, in the not far distant future, gentlemen of their calibre will be conducting the foreign policy of the Australian Government for many years to come.
This debate has confirmed the claim made in my statement that the standing and prestige of this country in international affairs has never been so high as it is to-day. I have given evidence to support that contention, and it has not been challenged. Since the statement was made, Australia has been chosen as one of the governing bodies of Unrra, and was recently elected to the governing body of. the International Labour Office. Those positions are not given to this country simply because we like to be elected to them. The election of Australia as a member of the Security Council is a development of tremendous importance, and I am sure that every honorable member, whatever the criticisms he may have offered of small matters, must be proud of the fact that Australia is a member of this great executive of the United Nations, and that the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) had the honour of being the first president of that body. Historians of Australia will point to that. I tell honorable members opposite that, in my opinion, we should not have to apologize because the Government has tried to uphold the prestige of Australia in foreign affairs. Why have we got a case? The answer is that, in two world wars, the efforts of Australia on the battlefields have been equal proportionately to those of any other country.
It is our duty to ensure that we shall not be involved again in a catastrophe, and we should make the period of peace, an era of welfare for all the peoples of the world.
I claim also that the standing of the British Commonwealth of Nations has been increased by the improved status of its constituent members like Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. The separate influence of Australia and the other Dominions does not detract from the influence of the whole of the British Commonwealth of Nations, but adds to it. It is impossible to expect agreement among the Dominions on every aspect of international affairs. How can there be agreement? A Labour government may be in office in one Dominion, and a Conservative government in another Dominion. How, then, .can it be expected that they will see eye to eye on every matter? Of course, it is impossible to expect it! What we must get is the greatest degree of unity in the supreme matters, and we should always remember that, in a time of crisis, agreement or no agreement, treaty or no treaty, bargain or no bargain, the members of the British Empire stick together. In the period with which we are now dealing the status of the British Commonwealth of Nations has been increased by the improved status of each member of it.
The importance of regional arrangements has been emphasized in this debate, and, that being so, the wisdom and the foresight of our agreement with New Zealand has been confirmed. I invite honorable, members at their leisure to read the clauses of that agreement, which was reached eighteen months before these world arrangements were made, and see how much of it has been translated into the public law of the world through the United Nations and other organizations. Whilst the United Nations has been described as an experiment, it is clearly recognized by all that the peaceful future of civilization depends almost entirely upon its success. What it is, in fact, is a practical attempt to tackle the problems of international affairs, and one of the first principles of our policy is to give all feasible support to the United Nations and carry out our obligations to the Security Council. [Extension of time granted.] I believe also that the debate has shown a more satisfactory appreciation of the task which we undertook at San Francisco to make the Charter of the United Nations a more liberal document than the Dumbarton Oaks draft.
I was challenged when I criticized the governments of certain western democracies which were prepared to appease Hitler in the hope ‘that Germany might stand as a bulwark against any further expansion of Bolshevik influence. I remind the House of remarks made at that time by Mr. Churchill and the present Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee. On the 19th May, 1938, six months after the Munich conference, Mr. Churchill, in his criticism of the then Conservative Government of Great Britain, said -
But whathas happened since? The whole scene has changed. The Government which allowed Czechoslovakia to be broken and disarmed, was suddenly surprised and horrified that Heir Hitler should march into Prague and actually subjugate the Czech people. This damnable outrage opened the eyes of the blind, made the deaf hear, and even in some cases the dumb spoke. The Prime Minister felt himself to have been deceived and defrauded by Herr Hitler, just as he had been by Signor Mussolini, in whom he had put his trust. He and the government which he leads and controls turned round over the week-end.
On the 3rd October, 1938, Mr. Attlee, said -
It has been a very great weakness that throughout there has been this coldshouldering of the Union, of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Prime Minister cannot bear even to mention them. They were never brought into consultation except on one occasion, and that was when it looked as if things were, coming *to the worst, and their help was wanted. Then an approach was made, but when it was a question of negotiation they were not brought in at all. I do not know’ whether they will bo brought into any future negotiations. But there you get the weakness of this Government and at tha same time of France - andI say the weakness of France is even greater. At no time did they make up their minds whether they were going to stand or to tell Czechoslovakia to make its own terms.
I could quote many other statements by British leaders in support of my original statement on this matter, but in view of the lateness of the hour I do not propose to weary the House by doing so. However, that is- a matter of history. Some people say that the. Munich conference was successful because it postponed the outbreak of war: I do not believe that that view would- be accepted by Mr. Churchill, and whaitever criticism I offer, of Mr.
Churchill I must say that in the last war as ‘leader of the British people he won glory for himself and proved to be the greatest war-time British leader since the days of Pitt. Throughout the war years he fought against pessimism; and his judgment and that of Mr. Attlee are judgments upon which I can confidently rely in dealing with Russia’s position to-d ay.
I wish now to refer to the Government’s attitude with respect to trusteeship. The Government has been criticized in that respect. In my opening statement I took particular care to make several points clear, but judging from the speeches of some honorable members opposite it is desirable to restate these points. First, the statement of Australian Government policy on the17th January was limited to an announcement of the intention to negotiate appropriate trusteeship agreements with a_ view to bringing New Guinea and Nauru under the trusteeship system eonteinplate’d by the United Nations . Charter. With respect to New Guinea I repeat that no agreement will be considered appropriate by the Government which does not designate Australia as the exclusive adminstering authority in the territory which will, of course, be administered as an integral portion of the territory of Australia and Under Australian . laws. Any such proposed agreement will, of course, be submitted for the consideration of this House before it is entered into by the Government. Some honorable members seem to fear that by. bringing a mandated territory under the trusteeship system certain advantages to Australia will be lost. In my statement I pointed out that, on the contrary,- the trusteeship system would have certain advantages. It would permit, for instance, fortification of the territories and the designation of strategic areas, o
It was also suggested during the debate that insufficient attention was given in my statement, to the question of the Pacific as a whole and of ba’ses in particular. ‘ I agree that Australia must play a primary part in the Pacific, and I should have thought that the evidence of the past few years would have -made it completely clea.r that this policy was being put into practical effect. I need do no more at this moment than remind the House of our successful efforts to secure the establishment of the Pacific War Council, and also to recall the negotiations associated with the Anzac Pact. So far a.s bases are concerned, I pointed out in my statement that it would be undesirable to deal with such questions precipitately or in a piecemeal fashion, and that it was necessary to consider overall defence arrangements for the region of the Western Pacific, including the islands formerly mandated to Japan. It was necessary to determine the purpose for which bases are to be assigned or used. The question of bases is an .incidence of defence arrangement; defence arrangement is not an incidence of the question of bases. All that is now being considered and planned. These arrangements will no doubt have to be related to arrangements provided for under the United Nations Charter. Honorable members have mentioned Manns Island. The Government could not make an arrangement regardless of any understanding as to the uses to which such islands could be put to in the event -of a disturbance in the Pacific. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) urged that Australia should be represented at all negotiations directly concerning the Pacific. The Government’s policy has been announced in that respect. It will be discussed by representatives of this country,- including the Primo Minister, with the British Governmnent in the near future.
– I still do riot know -what is the Government’s policy in respect of the Pacific.
– Let me repeat it. Our policy in the Pacific is to prevent a repetition of the tragedy which came to this country in 1942 through lack of an effective policy. That policy involves co-operation with other members of the United Nations in the South-west Pacific Area. The government of ‘the day made a stab at a policy in the American, British,, Dutch and Australian area; but thai; was all. We want the United States of America, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia and other countries interested in territories in the
Pacific to deal with this problem, and we have taken not one but 100 steps towards that end. Apparently,- the honorable member wants me to disclose the present stage of our negotiations with each of the other countries concerned, but such a disclosure at this juncture would be premature. However, we are working with that objective in view.
I believe also that the debate has established the truth of the proposition put forward in my statement that the most important immediate problem in international affairs is the problem of relationships between the Soviet Union and its war-time allies. I asked for a clear understanding of the Soviet point of view and .for an objective examination of the facts of particular issues in dispute. Surely, there can be no difference of opinion on this point. On the 2Sth June, 3939 - before the outbreak of war - Mr. Churchill had no doubt of the value of an alliance with the Soviet Union when he said -
We all hope that a full and solid alliance will be made with Russia without further delay, lt would seem that the Russian claim that we should all stand together in resisting an act of aggression upon the Baltic States was- just and reasonable, and 1 trust that we shall meet it in the fullest manner. Frankly I don’t understand what we have been boggling at all these weeks. At the point to which we have come, these additional guarantees do not add much to our danger. Actually they do not add one tithe to our danger compared to what will be gained in collective security by an alliance between England, France and Russia. The main interests of the Russian State are menaced by Nazidom, and all those who feel themselves thus threatened can naturally and confidently pool their resources and share risks.
And on the 24th August, 1941 - in the middle of the war - Mr. Churchill said-
Three-and-a-half years ago I appealed to my fellow countrymen to take the lead in weaving together a strong defensive union within the principles of the League of Nations, a union of all the countries who felt themselves in ever growing danger. But none would listen -. all stood idle while Germany rearmed. Czechoslovakia was subjugated; the French Government deserted their faithful ally and broke a plighted word in that ally’s hour of need.
The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) has endeavoured to compare Russia to-day with Germany just before the war. What a comparison ! Germany was our enemy in the first world war ; and in the intervening period up to the outbreak of the last war Germany was continually re-arming. Germany was never our ally. On the other hand, Russia was our faithful ally in the last war, in which conflict 7,000,000 Russians were killed. Are we to treat such an ally as comparable with Germany, bearing in mind also the fact that during the four or five years before the outbreak of the last war Germany engaged in open aggression? Such a comparison is most invidious. The honorable member also referred to the question of atomic energy. [1 believe that the use of atomic energy has been one of the main causes of suspicion between Russia and . the other United Nations. In the middle of- the war atomic weapons were developed and arrangements were made for the use of atomic power, as we know, without making any of our discoveries known to our ally, Russia, which was engaged against the common enemy. That undoubtedly created distrust and suspicion, and I hope that the establishment of the Atomic Energy Commission by the United Nations, of which Australia is a member, will lead to greater trust between Russia and the United Nations in the future. I ask for no special treatment for the Soviet Union, but I urge that it be accorded the same treatment as is accorded to its war-time partners. It must be remembered that the war is only just over, that Russia has been our ally, and those who suggest that our ally has become our enemy within a few months are on the wrong, track. Russia’s ease is entitled to the fullest consideration and investigation; its contribution to the overthrow of Nazi-ism demands such consideration. The worst catastrophe which could befall the world at present would be to find suddenly that there was an unbridgeable chasm between the Soviet Union and eastern Europe on the one hand, and western Europe and the United States on the other. It is for that reason that I have drawn particular attention to the need for the fullest use of the machinery of the United Nations. By this means, the habit of international consultation will become more firmly established; there will be public discussion of differences which will inevitably arise; there can, and should, be careful and impartial investigation, if necessary on the spot, of all the facts involved. When a dispute occurs it is referred to the . Security Council. The Security Council is a judicial body; it hears all the facts before it pronounces a decision, and if it is to be successful, it should not be subjected to public clamour before all of the evidence surrounding the dispute is brought before it and duly weighed. The United Nations machinery should not be used as a means for putting this or that nation in the dock, or as a means for securing a quick debating point. It should be used with a sense of full responsibility in an endeavour, amongst men of goodwill, to ascertain all the facts and to devise a long-term solution of international differences based upon law and justice.
Reference has been made during the debate to the defence position. The late Mr.Curtin, speaking in this House on the Government’s defence policy, said -
The security of Australia or any other part of the British Common wealth in the future will rest on three safeguards, each wider in its scope than the other. These are the system of collective security which can be organized on a world and regional basis, the degree of Empire co-operation which can be established, and national defence, the policy for which is purely the responsibility of the government concerned. The extent and nature of the government’s defence policy will be influenced by the degree of reliance that can be placed on the other two safeguards. These three safeguards are complementary to each other, and none is exclusive of the others.
That approach indicates the basis of the Australian post-war defence, policy. It will be the duty of the Parliament and of the Government to prevent any recurrence of the tragic days of 1942, when our beloved country, partly at least through inadequate safeguards, was on the point of invasion by a deadly and ferocious enemy. Whatever the United Nations organization may do, it will be essential to guard the security of the South-West Pacific Area, and in its defence there must be the closest co-operation, not only with the United Kingdom and New Zealand, but also with other peace-loving Pacific neighbours, especially the United States of America, which in a period of supreme necessity helped us first to hold this country, and then to move towards the offensive, while Britain, Soviet Russia and the United States of America were closing in against Hitlerism and fascism.
On its record this Labour Government has nothing for which to apologize. I submit that in its conduct of foreign affairs it has been worthy of the great sacrifices of our servicemen, and that it can look with confidence not only to this House but also to the Australian people for commendation of its actions.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Abbott’s amendment) be so added.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Royal Australian Air Force: Flight of Aircraft to Japan -Royal Australian Navy: Deferred Pay - Housing - Public Service : Employment of ex-Servicemen - Meat Industry.
Motion (by Dr.Evatt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– In the Sydney Sun- of the 25th March there appeared a report headed “Fighter Pilots Killed “. It read-
FourR.A.A.F. aircraft - three Mustangs from 81 Wing and a Mosquito escort - have been missing for some time on the flight from Labuan to Bofu (Japan) and are presumed to have been lost.
Two bodies have been found in plane wreckage, Sun correspondent in Japan states.
Last heard of only 40 miles from their destination, the aircraft were on their way to join the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan.
The missing Mustang pilots are -
F.O. M. G. Short, Port Augusta (S.A.).
P.O. J. C. Allan, South Strathfield.
F.O. A. G. Pilkington, Murrim Murrim (W.A.).
The Mosquito was flown by F.O. G. W. Say well, Southport (Q.), with F.O. J. Nattrass, Adelaide, as his navigator.
The Mustangs, all from82 Squadron, were part of the flight of 13 which took off from Okinawa in good weather for the last stage of the trip to Bofu.
For the first 500 miles the weather remained good, but deteriorate.! rapidly. Low cloud increased flying hazards.
The aircraft were flying over mountainous country when last sighted.
The remaining 10 fighters and three Beaufighter escorts landed at Bofu safely, and an air sea rescue Catalina took off in search of the missing aircraft.
That report has caused me great concern, because I had interested myself in this flight. Last December, it came to my knowledge that the Royal Australian Air Force contemplated ferrying a number of Mustang fighter aircraft from Australia to Japan early in the new year. Immediately I became aware of this, and owing to the hazards associated with such a flight, I sent a telegram to the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) stating that the ferrying of singleengined aircraft such a long distance over the sea was unwarranted and would unnecessarily jeopardize human lives. I asked him to direct that the flight should not take place, but he would not do so..
On the 2nd January, I considered that it was incumbent on me to- give full publicity to the facts; consequently, I made a statement to the press, in which I protested against the unnecessary risk that was entailed in ferrying single.engined aircraft from Australia to Japan. I warned the Minister that should loss of life or aircraft result, he and the Government would be deserving of severe criticism for having allowed the flight to proceed. I pointed out that even during the war it was an accepted rule that only in the most necessitous circumstances were single-engined aircraft to undertake long and hazardous nights over the sea. I objected to this flight even though I knew that Mustangs, fitted with auxiliary fuel tanks, have a range of 1,500 miles. There were several reasons why other methods of delivery should have been considered. 1 emphasized that factors such as severe weather conditions in tropical areas influenced by large land masses, and the difficulty of keeping in close contact with other aircraft under conditions which reduced visibility would obtain’ and would increase the hazards of such a long flight. I claimed that aircraft carriers would provide the best means of delivering fighter aircraft to Japan. This was an accepted practice. A large number of small carriers had been converted, and were used almost exclusively for this purpose during the war. At that time a number of British carriers were leaving Australia for Hong Kong. I mentioned this fact, and suggested the advisability of accommodating the Mustangs, on the smaller carriers. I mentioned also the. widespread apprehension on the part of the pilots as to the serviceability of Royal Australian Air Force aircraft. Some of these men had reported through (he press that their .serviceability was not as good as it should be, because they had been serviced by less experienced ground crews. This fact had caused them some concern. I have no doubt that the Minister for Air gave duc weight to all of these factors when considering whether or’ not, the flight should proceed. Nevertheless, he decided that it should take place. He was aware of the hazards that would be encountered, and knew that the delivery of the aircraft was not a matter of urgency, and that other methods of delivery were available. Now he has the sad duty of explaining to the people why he risked the lives of Australians on a flight that was not a matter of urgency. The young pilot who advised me in reference to the matter had been given 90 days’ leave to carry out certain harvesting operations. His leave was cancelled in order that he might ferry the Mosquito aircraft that was to escort this flight to Japan. He stated to me that his concern was shared by the other pilots, as well as by .their wives, mothers, and other relatives, because of the belief that they could not regard the aircraft as being as dependable as they were formerly when serviced by more experienced ground crews. They considered that the flight should not be considered solely from an operational point of view, and that unnecessary hazardswere being taken, especially as the aircraft could have been delivered by means of carriers. The loss of life associated with the flight has placed ‘the Minister in an unhappy position. I did what I considered to be my public duty when I warned the Minister of what .might happen. I ask the Minister whether he can throwany additional light on the matter. I hope that the circumstances are such as to warrant a satisfactory explanation.
I now draw attention to the case of a naval rating who has been unable to* obtain his deferred pay, and, if the facts are as set out in the. correspondence before me, the Minister for the Navy (Mr.. Makin) should make inquiries in theappropriate quarter. I have a letter from Mr. P. W. Jackson, who says that he has sent a letter to the Prime Minister(Mr. Chifley) about the deferred pay of his son,, and although over six months have elapsed he has had no response other than an acknowledgment enclosing a letter from the Minister for the Navy dated the 18th September,. 1945, to the effect that he was personally investigating the matter. Mr. Jackson went on to say-
T shall ho glad if von will kindly allow meto instance the case of my son. K. W. Jackson., late K.R.A.. n survivor” from the H.M.A.S. Canberra, and also of the Shropshire. About two years back he endeavoured to obtain medical treatment for trouble to his eyes and ourof his knees. Having apparently’ incurred theenmity of some of the naval doctors, this waft. refused to him. He then went absent without leave to obtain medical examination and proof from two of the leading Sydney specialists, Drs. Scott Scougall and Gregory Roberts that he should have medical treatment. He returned to duty and demanded a courtmartial, but, in spite of the fact -that the two specialists gave evidence in his favour, he was adjudged guilty of desertion, reduced from chief petty officer to 4th E.R.A., lost his deferred pay as well as the expenses of his medical examination, and loss of some months’ salary. This because he showed sufficient spirit to prove to the naval doctors his was a genuine case, and having “ bucked theNavy “ he had to be punished.
About twelve months ago he was repatriated for the trouble for which he claimed treatment in the first instance. This is apparently proof that he should have received medical treatment. Surely it is rather paltry on the part of the naval administration to confiscate the savings of our naval boys who helped in the fight and went through perils and hardships in the service of their country and Empire. Something should be done for them as well as for ordinary criminals.
L know that the Navy is a conservative section of the defence forces, is very jealous of its discipline, and resents any interference, but 1 think that the Minister . ought to give consideration to this particular matter..
– I . shall have it investigated.
– I draw the attention of the House to an article published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 25th March, headed “ A Funny Story”. It appeared in one of the leading columns of that newspaper and dealt with the subject of housing which had been discussed in this chamber last Friday. -In the course of the article the leader writer said that “ No member of the Government seemed to have responded to a statement made by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) “. I am reported to have asked, “ “What can we do about it ? “ Then the article proceeded to refer to the helplessness of the position and said that there was very little hope for the hopeless. The point I desire to have recorded in Hansard, so that the public may at least be made aware of the inaccuracy and unfairness of this newspaper statement, is that during the course of the debate, and almost immediately following the remarks: of the Leader of the Australian Country party, the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini) rose and addressed himself to the subject of housing generally. He placed on. record what had been achieved during the last few months despite great difficulties. He gave the number of houses built, the number under construction, and the number of agreements that had been entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the Premiers of the States, who after all are the appropriate authorities to deal with housing in the States, excepting warservice homes. All of those facts were stated by the Minister at the time, and therefore it is untrue to say that no Minister attempted, to answer the Leader of the Australian Country party. Admittedly great difficulties are being experienced in Australia with regard to the housing problem, but it is also true (hat, the present Government has inherited a legacy in this matter. Instead of the newspaper referring to that aspect it stated that nobody had had anything to say about it on behalf of the Government.
– That is consistent with that newspaper’s record.
– I am inclined to agree with the Minister. Considerable progress in housing has been made in Tasmania. Although the people would have preferred to see greater progress than has been achieved in that State, nearly as many houses have been built there during the last year or so than were built in 1938-39. An agreement has been entered into between the Commonwealth and the States which has given benefits not previously enjoyed, such as reduced rates of interest to home builders, longer terms of repayment, larger advances and a lower percentage to be paid as a deposit. All these facts must have been known to this newspaper. I was interested in the housing problem before this journal was established. When it was in its swaddling clothes, . I was active in discussing the housing problem in Canberra, over which the Commonwealth Parliament alone has full responsibility. That fact should be’ very well known to the newspaper, or could have been easily ascertained by it. I am inclined to agree with the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) that a course of misrepresentation’ is being followed.
Tke plight of homeless people is not the chief concern so much as a desire to damage the reputation of the Government which has done so much for the country in its hour of need. I take this opportunity to draw attention to the actual position, and to place on record the fact that ‘such misrepresentation is taking place. The Minister made an effective reply in which he drew attention to the difficulties being experienced. If press representatives had approached him they could have learned all the facts of the case.
– I draw the attention of the Government to an injustice being suffered by a large number of returned soldiers previously employed in the Commonwealth Public Service. Temporary employees with two year’s service who enlisted in the forces, were promised that they would be given permanent employment after their discharge, but this promise has not been honoured. I quote the following letter from the Postmaster-General’s sub-branch, General Post Office, of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, New South Wales Branch: -
This sub-branch has recently protested through Head-quarters of the League in respect of ex-servicemen in the Postmaster-General’s Department whohaving completed two year’s continuous service have been denied the right to become permanent officers, which they were justly entitled to under the Preference Act 1914-18.
In furtherance of such statement it is desired to inform you that the undermentioned four officers - Messrs. Chatrs, F. Martin,R. Underwood, and C. Smyth, completed the necessary service prior to the present Rehabilitation and Preference Act becoming law, but have been denied their permanency by the Public Service Board on the grounds that there is no clause in the present act which entitles them to such a concession.
I have received a similar complaint from certain employees of the Lismore Post Office - Messrs. T. Batholemew, A. or C. Flaherty and. J. Johnson. They had all completed two year’s temporary service with the department before their enlistment, and in a letter written by the then PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley), they were promised that, upon their discharge, they would be given the opportunity to obtain permanent employment with the department. In a letter dated the 13th January, 1945, Senator Ashley wrote -
Referring to your representations in connexion with the letter you received from Mr. G. R. Burley; “ Burlington “, 310 Keen-street, Lismore, regarding the eligibility for permanent appointment in the Postal Department and referring to service given in a temporary capacity by Messrs. T. Bartholomew and A. Orr, C. Flaherty and Jim Johnson, I have to advise that a former member of. the forces who has served outside Australia, is eligible for consideration for appointment to a nonclerical position of similar status to that occupied temporarily after he had had a total of . two years temporary service, either before or after military service, if he resumes temporary service after discharge from the forces.
The Public Service Board, or some other authority responsible for the administration of the Commonwealth Public Service Act has, since October last, amended the conditions under which returned soldiers with two years temporary service can be appointed to the permanent staff. It is now prescribed that, in order to obtain permanent appointment, such ex-soldiers must pass a competitive examination, whereas previously this was not necessary. The unfairness of such a variation of conditions is evident from the fact that a serviceman who. was discharged after serving only six or twelve months in the forces became eligible for permanent appointment if he had served two years with the department; whereas a serviceman who remained with the forces throughout the whole of the war, and was discharged after October last, is debarred from receiving a permanent appointment unless he passes a competitive examination. I interviewed the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron)’ and he said that, although he was sympathetic, his hands were tied because the matter was under the control of the Public Service Board. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) is responsible for the administration of the Public Service Act, and I ask that he direct the Public Service Board to honour the promise which was given to temporary employees at the time of their enlistment.
.- About one-fifth of the population of Australia is unable at the present time to obtain adequate supplies of fresh meat. It is true that this section happens to be concentrated in and around Melbourne, but it nevertheless represents a considerable portion of the population of Australia. The shortage of meat in Melbourne is not due to any drought or flood or other act of God ; it is a manmade shortage arising out of the muddle which may be described as the no-meat muddle, and the people o’f Melbourne ha ve become very irritated about it. They resent the fact that their meat coupons, which have a limited life, are running out while they are unable to get the meat to which the coupons entitle them. It is not my purpose to-night to go into the merits of the dispute which has caused this difficulty. Various aspects of it have been discussed by honorable members on previous occasions. In my opinion, the Government is trying to maintain an artificial situation in Melbourne. At a time when prices have risen considerably the Government is trying to retain an artificial low level of prices in respect of meat. During recent ‘years the prices of fruit and vegetables have fluctuated greatly, but there has been no corresponding increase of meat prices. Meat is an important item of diet, and it is good to know that prices have been kept reasonably low, but the people of Melbourne regard the present situation as intolerable. An artificial situation has been created. My criticism is that the Government has not dealt with it as it should have done. I know that it is a habit of governments to look for scapegoats; from time to time Jews, Communists, capitalists or international financiers are blamed for what happens in the world; but on this occasion the Government has blamed speculators. My information is that that is not the explanation of the trouble. I am informed that the Government is trying to enforce controls which cannot be maintained when the demand exceeds the supply. . Householders are not concerned with disputes between producers and wholesale and retail distributors of meat, but they are concerned that they are not getting meat for their coupons. Apparently, two Commonwealth Ministers - the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) who is repre senting the Minister for Trade and Customs are concerned in this matter. The former has made some vague utterances, and has expressed the hope that the situation will be improved in the near future. I shall not attempt to apportion the blame, but I point out that a muddle which is created by man can be straightened out by man. I suggest that the two- Ministers concerned should visit Melbourne and discuss this matter on the spot with the persons concerned. If the difficulty cannot be solved soon I suggest that the life of meat coupons be extended until full supplies of meat are again available.
– I support the representations of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) in respect to Petty Officer Jackson. I should not have considered it necessary to do this but for the fact that the honorable member said that he was not aware of .all the circumstances. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin), said by interjection, that he would have the matter investigated. I am aware of the circumstances of the case, as it was at my instigation that the lad reported back for duty after absenting himself in order to obtain medical advice. I was dumbfounded to learn that the certificates of two eminent medical specialists had been disregarded by the naval authorities. This lad is suffering financially and otherwise because he found it necessary to secure outside professional advice regarding his health. The eye ailment from which he suffered caused violent sea sickness, which surely is a severe handicap to a man serving on board a ship in time of war. He had the support of the chaplain on the ship on which he served, but his pleadings were unavailing. I hope that the Minister will see that the penalty is transferred from this lad to the person- responsible for what has happened.
– The several matters which have been raised will have the attention of the appropriate Ministers. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) has promised that inquiries will be made regarding the case of Petty Officer
Jackson to which the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) and the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) have referred.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has referred to the trouble in the meat industry in Victoria on other occasions. His remarks to-night will be brought to the notice of the Minister concerned. As a resident of Melbourne [ can appreciate the situation in which householders find themselves because of a shortage of meat. The matter will be investigated.
There have been several conflicting press reports regarding missing aircraft. The position as stated in the Sydney Morning Herald is quite different from that stated in the Sydney Sun of the night before. The Sydney Sun reports under the heading “Fighter Pilots Killed”-
Two bodies- have been found in plane wreckage, Swu correspondent in Japan states.
In the Sydney Morning Herald’, which is u later report, there is no mention of any bodies having been found,- and, as far as I know, no bodies have been found. I do not state that as an absolute fact, and I have asked to be supplied with a full report as soon as it becomes available. The position is most regrettable. I appreciate the fact that the honorable member for Wentworth brought it to my notice with the best motives. It is correct that the honorable member wrote to me about the matter and later sent a telegram in which he expressed concern. I assure him and other honorable members that I also am deeply concerned about the matter. The honorable gentleman’s submission was given consideration.
– The Sun-Pictorial says that, two bodies have been found.
– Probably the Sydney Sun and the Sun-Pictorial get their news from the same source. All I can say is that I have received no information of that kind. I have caused inquiries to be made so that I shall be in n position to give the House all the information when it comes to hand. After receiving the letter from the honorable member for Wentworth, I took up the matter with the Air Staff and pointed out that concern was felt. But nobody else had expressed concern of any kind. The
Air Staff considered that it was a perfectly normal operation for men to fly the planes from Okinawa to Bofu. They had ample range for the journey. There must always be certain risk in flying, particularly when the weather unexpectedly becomes bad. However, it was considered, as I have already said, that it was a safe operation for fighter aircraft to undertake. Unfortunately, the pilots are missing, and a search is being made for them. It is within the realm of possibility that the men bailed out and are alive. I am sure that all honorable gentlemen join with me in that hope. Honor-able members will agree, I think, that a Minister must be guided by the. advice of his’ experts. I do not regard it as a part of my job to interfere with operations, or fail to accept advice given to me by men who have gone thoroughly into the matter. Because they considered that it was a normal operation, they decided that it would be gone on with. The aircraft were lost within 50 miles of their destination. The distances to be covered were well within the range of the aircraft. Wireless and navigational aids were fitted in the aircraft. Eighty arrived safely, thus proving that the flight was practicable. The three Mustang aircraft concerned became detached from the formation in low clouds, owing to a sudden deterioration of the weather in Japan. Some doubt exists as to whether the final weather report reached the leader of the formation at Okinawa, before he decided to take off. The flight was in three formations, each, formation being led by twin-engined aircraft which were to ascertain weather conditions ahead, another twin-engined aircraft was to navigate the formation . and a flying boat travelled in the rear in case aircraft fell into the sea. So it will be seen that every possible precaution was taken.
– If all those precautions were necessary, it does not seem to have been an essential flight.
– The Air Staff say that it was the proper course to adopt. Even most experienced pilots are sometimes lost. For instance, the crew of the Lancastrian, about which unfortunately nothing has been heard since the message that was sent when the aircraft was 700 miles from Colombo, were experienced men. It is impossible, no matter how much we desire it, to foretell the weather to be encountered throughout an air journey. Doubtless many honorable members have shared my experience. I was held up for hours at Canberra because it was stated that if the aircraft in which I was to travel left at the scheduled time, by the time it was approaching Melbourne a weather front would develop that would make it difficult, evenundesirable, to fly. The wind changed, and the weather front did not reach Melbourne. It did not get beyond Stawell. Risks must be incurred in flying. I agree that undue risks shouldnot be taken in peacetime operations, but, after a full examination, the experts decided that the flight should be made. I am informed that all the aircraft were being safely flown until practically the final stage of the flight. It is unfortunate that bad weather occurred, and that some planes were lost as the result. I realize that the honorable member has raised this matter because he considered that the flight should not have been undertaken. However, as Minister, I consider that the experts can judge whether flights should be made as originally intended. I accept their advice. All I can say is that I very much regret the loss of the aircraft, and I trust that the pilots will be found safe, or, if it be true, that two bodies have been found, that some of them will have survived. I share the honorable member’s distress; but, nevertheless, consider that in view of the advice tendered to me it was the proper course to take.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1946 - No.6 - Commonwealth . Public Service Clerical Association.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Health - L. D. McKinnon.
House adjourned at 11.19 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Canned Fruits: Sale to Britain.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
What use. if any. is to be made of the four distilleries erected during the war at a cost of more than £1,700,000 to produce power alcohol from wheat?
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answer : -
The whole question of future policy in connexion with the use of the four grain alcohol distilleries is at present under consideration of the Government.
n asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
Will he inform the House of the number of men employed on the construction of a cinema theatre at the head-quarters of the Department of Information in Canberra, the value of the materials used and of the equipment to be installed, and the total cost of the work?
– The average number of men employed is five and a half a week. The value of material used to date, excluding equipment to be installed by the Department of Information, is £1,410. The total cost of construction, excluding equipment, is estimated at £2,600.
n asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
Will he secure and table figures showing details of delays as a result of the strikes which have occurred in each State in the supply of essential building materials during each quarter of the last two years?
– Compliance with the request would necessitate a considerable amount of work, which would divert officers of my department and officers employed in private industry from work which requires their most urgent attention. The staffing position in both government and private industry is difficult, and unless some commensurate advantage can be obtained from the compilation of these statements, it does not seem that we should ask for them to be completed at present. The honorable member knows, as does the public generally, that industrial disputes have resulted in losses of building materials. If ho will instance some particular item and the purpose for which he desires the information, I will endeavour to meet his requirements.-
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
What are the total amounts paid as commission by the Government to the Victorian wholesale distributors of potatoes under the potato control scheme for each of the years 1042-43, 1943-44 and 1944-45?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
In 1942-43 the Commonwealth paid the commission only when the market price was below the guaranteed price.
y asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of the fact that defence forces are regarded as a necessary part of this country’s security, can he tell the House whether, as an adjunct to security, any long-range plans have been considered for the future protection against attack of Australian homes and Australian vital industries?
– By direction of War Cabinet, the Defence Committee has been examining for some time the question of the future strength and organization of the forces which should be maintained in peace-time to enable an expansion in wartime to the maximum force Australia can provide. There are many factors which influence the long-range plans referred to by the honorable member, and the Government’s advisers will submit their recommendations as soon as they are in a position to do so for the consideration of the Government.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
When will the Auditor-General’s report be ready for presentation to Parliament?
– The report will be. presented, to Parliament at a very early date.
Commonwealth LiteraryFund: Fellowships.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - .
What fellowships, subsidies, guarantees and/or other assistance were granted (and when) by the Commonwealth Literary Fund, or recommended to be granted by the fund to
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) Marjorie Barnard. - A fellowship of £200 covering a period of twelve months from 1st January, 1941. (b) Frank D. Davison. - A fellowship of £250 covering a period of twelve months from 1st January, 1940. (c) Jean Devanney. - A fellowship of £150 covering a period of twelve months from 1st March, 1943.
Brettonwoods Agreement : Statement by Minister for Transport.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon- notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
e asked the Minister for Aircraft Production, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows.- -
Australian Overseas Transport Association.
y. - On the 20th March the honorable member for Now England (Mr. Abbott) asked whether efforts had recently been made to resuscitate the Australian. Overseas Transport Association. TJ le honorable member also nuked for an indication of the Government’s attitude towards the revival of the association.
The answers to the honorable member’s <iiostion3 are as follows: - lt*prc.«ent.itivcs of the- association approached Uir Minir.ter for Supply and Shipping on the SliUi I’obruarv ami intimated to him that sU-p.H were being taken in the vnrious States to resuscitate the association, and it was desired to know the attitude nf the Government in this matter. Tlio deputation promised to submit certain information to the . Minister, whu undertook to have the matter examined us curly as pussiblc. The information has been received nnd is now being looked into by the various departmental authorities concerned. The matter has certain important implications and will- he considered by the Government nt nn early date when an announcement will bc made defining its attitude and nteo the extent, if any, to which government participation, sponsorship, or agreement is considered necessary.
Australian Broadcasting Commission: Appointment of News Editor.
Mr.Calwell. - Recently the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) asked a question concerning a vacancy for News Editor in the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I am now in n position to inform the honorable member . as follows : -
The Postmaster-General has been advised by the Australian Broadcasting- Commission that applications hare been invited for the position of national news editor, and that, as is its practice, the commission will observe the provisions of the Kc-estublishment and Employment Act 1045 in making an appointment to the position in question.
Food for Britain.
Mr.White asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to ‘ the honorable member’s questions are a* follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 March 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460326_reps_17_186/>.