18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear took the chair at 2.3,0 P.m., and read praters.
Requirements WE Army PersonnBJ1.
– During my recent visit, to the Woomera guided weapons range, army personnel serving- in that l’ocality made representations to me regarding remote area leave and’ a special clothing issue, due- to the- nature of the work, which involves heavy wear and teaion the’ presents issue. Subsequently; 1 discussed! these matters with th& Minister fen- the Army. Will the: honorable gentleman inform me whether- ha; has; Considered these requests?
– 1 have- given consideration to- the requests which the honorable member brought to my notice-. Remote area leave has already been granted to the troops in that locality, and I feel confident that the authorities, on- my, approach to. them,, wil’l grant the additional: issue of clothing.
– Will’ the Minister far Commerce and’ Agriculture inform mo what is the amount of the first payment, to wheat-farmers for the 1.947-48 crop? D’oes the Government consider that this first advance is a reasonable- one in view of- the price which the Australian. Wheat Beard receives f or- the grain ?’ When- will the next advance be mad’e on- this- crop ? Will the Minister give an assurance that any grower who has not so far Deceived an advance on his- 1947-48 crop will be paid without any further delay?’
-.- The- first advance on the 1947-4’S’ crop was 4k. 6d. a bushel for bulk wheat and 5s. a bushel for bagged wheat.. Possibly^ a few wheat-growers have’ not. yet received) first payment. The delay may be- due to one: or two factors The first is that, because tha crops- w.as- so large nome licensed- receivers- of wheat have- been, late in submitting their accounts. Then again,, some growers who have made: deliveries, over a. period of weeks may not have promptly submitted their claims. However,, I have asked- the Australian Wheat Board to. expedite pay ment, by every means possible. It is. anticipated that a further advance will be made- at an early, date.
AUSTRALIANS. IN. Japan- Uniforms.
Mc.. O’CONNOR- An article which appeared ia to-day’s; issue of the; Daily Telegraph stated that; the Government proposes progressively to reduce our fauces: in Japan.. Has: the Minister- for the Army 3een> the import to- which.’ I refer; and, if- so, can- he give the House amy information- concerning it?
– I have seen the article to which the honorable member has referred1. The strength of the Australian contingent of- thu- British Commonwealth Occupation Forge was dis.cussed at the last meeting- of Ministers on the Defence- Council, and it will: be discussed by Cabinet at a later- date, after- which, 1: hope te be able to- make a statement.
– Publicity has been given in the press to the new type of uniform, which it is proposed to issue to, members of the Australian Regular Army and’ the militia, and some newspapers claim that the uniform is more like, that of a commissionaire. I understand”, that the Minister for the Array decided” that the new uniforms should. Be issued in addition to the present battle-dress uniforms. Can die Minister inform, me whether the newspaper reports are- correct, and’, if so, what the issue of the new uniforms will cost? Would it not be better to utilize the material.’ from which the new uniforms are to be manufactured* for civilian purposes, or, alternatively,, to- expend1 the money involved- in their- manufacture in endeavours to recruit more- men and’ to continue to issue the- older type- of uniform ?’
Mc. CHAMBERS- I. have: approved the- issue of ai new. type of” uniform, and my action has been given a great dea, of publicity in the press. However, a census taken of members of the Australian Regular Army during the last few days proves conclusively that they desire to be issued with a smarter walking-out dress. Furthermore, I am confident that those who have taken particular notice of the uniform which Australian soldiers are at present wearing while on leave consider that it is not one of which we can he proud. I believe that the new uniforms will be an added incentive to young men ito join the militia, because they will be better dressed and more attractive to the eye. Exservicemen’s organizations, including the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, have spoken very highly of the new uniforms.
– Can the Minister for the Army state the Government’s plans in respect of Australian women who desire to -join their husbands serving with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan?
– After serious consideration permission for the families of Australian servicemen serving with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan to go to Japan was withdrawn as from the 31st March last. The time our forces will remain in Japan is running out. It will be the Government’sresponsibility to house them when they return to Australia. There are many Australian families now in Japan. Families that have returned from Japan due to ill health or other reasons have found it impossible to obtain housing. In all the circumstances the Government believes that it is in the best interests of all concerned that no further families of serving members of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force should be sent to Japan.
– Every day I receive requests from my constituents to support their applications for permits to purchase new motor cars and utility trucks. In view of the desperate position which confronts many primary producers, will the Minister for Transport inquire into the practicability of releasing a higher percentage of motor vehicles for purchase by people in country areas?
– I shall refer the question to the Secretary of the Department of Transport so that the present system of allocation of new motor vehicles may be reviewed and an endeavour made to institute some arrangement to meet the honorable member’s wishes.
– Will the Minister for Transport table a list of the permits issued during the past twelve months for the acquisition of Buick cars, showing the grounds on which the applications were granted? Will he also state what percentages of these cars were made available to Commonwealth and State Ministers and parliamentary officers, to members of Parliament for their own private use, and to government department and private applicants?
– I am not sure how much work would be involved in preparing a full answer to the honorable member’s questions or whether sufficient staff could be provided for this purpose. However, I shall have the matter examined and obtain whatever information is available.
– On the 4th December, 1947, I addressed a question to the Treasurer regarding the payment of increased pensions to members of the Commonwealth Retired Officers’ Association, Western Australian Branch. A reply was given on the 19th February last. The concluding paragraph of the reply, dealing with paragraphs 4, 5, and 6 of my question, stated -
The matter was referred to a Treasury committee during the parliamentary recess and a report by that committee is now receiving the attention of the Government.
Can the Treasurer say whether the Government has considered that report? If it has done so, is the right honorable gentleman in a position to reply to the unanswered paragraphs of my original question ?
– The matter was examined by a Treasury committee and a report was made. I hope to be able shortly to furnish the honorable member with the information he seeks.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to an article, entitled “ Poisonous liquor on sale at some Sydney hotels “, which appeared in a Sydney Sunday newspaper recently and in which it was claimed that some kinds of liquor now being sold contained sufficient wood alcohol to cause blindness or even death? If so, has -the Minister had an investigation made with a view to determining whether illicit or adulterated spirits are in fact being offered for sale in Sydney? If such liquors are being sold, is any action to be taken against the persons concerned ?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member has referred. I understand that the ingredients contained in alcoholic liquors, and the prosecution of vendors who offend against the law in that regard are matters for the State governments. The question will be brought to the notice of the State authorities concerned.
– In view of the warning that more restrictions may be imposed upon imports into Australia from dollar areas, will the Prime Minister say whether any decision has been made concerning withdrawals by Australia from Australian reserves in the International Monetary Fund? If a decision has been made, will the right honorable gentleman announce it? If a decision has not been made, when is the matter likely to be considered and decided?
– The purport of the honorable member’s question, as I understand it, is whether consideration has been given by the Government to borrowing from the International Monetary Fund for the purpose of obtaining dollars to help to bridge the gap between dollars earned from exports and dollars expended upon imports. I have made it clear from time to time that further restrictions upon imports from dollar areas are likely to be imposed. Despite the Marshall plan, dollars will continue to be in very short supply within the Empire. The dollar deficits of the Dominions will not be met by aid given under that plan. “With regard to the second part of the question, the Government has given no consideration to this matter.
– I ask the Minister for “Works and Housing what is being done to offer for sale to tenants houses built under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement and what procedure is to be followed. Will ex-servicemen be able to purchase those houses under the War Service Homes Act?
– The States have the right and have been encouraged to sell to tenants houses built under the CommonwealthState Housing Agreement. New South Wales and Queensland have passed legislation to enable that to be done, and Western Australia and Tasmania are considering such legislation. The Australian Government desires that all the States shall pass legislation providing that tenants may purchase the homes they occupy. Ex-servicemen who are eligible to purchase War Service Homes and are tenants of houses built under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement may purchase those houses under the provisions of the War Service Homes Act.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether Mr. J. Healy is still a member of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Is he the person who while a member of the commission incited Queensland waterside workers to strike? Does the Government see any anomaly in this position?
– I understand that the right honorable gentleman refers to the federal secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. I believe that the person mentioned is the representative of that body on the Stevedoring Industry Commission. I have no particulars of what he said about the Queensland strike, but I know that his position on the Stevedoring Industry Commission is due to his connexion with the Waterside Workers Federation.
– I ask the Prime Minister when it is expected that the Italian Peace Treaty will take effect. Are avoidable delays preventing it from coming into immediate operation?
– The Treaty of Peace (Italy) Act was passed by the Austraiian Parliament last year. The treaty does not ,deal with the matter of the disposal of former Italian .colonies, hut it contains a provision Hinder which Trieste is to he a free city. The honorable member is probably .aware that it is now proposed to alter that provision and to restore Trieste to Italian control. The treaty has not yet been ratified and consultations are taking place on the future .of Trieste. I hope for an early decision. I will inform the honorable gentleman of lie result of the consultations.
– .boRe time ago the Parliament authorized the ratification of the ‘peace treaties concluded with Roumania, Hungary and Bulgaria.. In tike absence .of the Minister for External Affairs, I ask the Prime Minister to indicate why the neq31isite .executive -action in relation to those treaties ‘has not yet been taken ? How soon after such action has (been taken will ‘regulations he made permitting British subjects formerly resident in those countries, but now living in Australia., to make (claims for .compensation’?
– The formal action on the treaties to which the honorable member “has referred has been held up pending consideration of some matters which I ‘have already .mentioned. As to the latter part of the question, I .am .unable to furnish the requisite information offhand. I shall, examing .the matter ,and advise the .honorable member in .due course.
– I .ask the Minister representing the Minister fiar Trade .and Customs what provision has been made for the importation from the United States <of America of spare , Darts -for industrial machinery.? The Newcastle Boot Repairers’ Association , has complained that its mem,bars are unable to procure spare parts for the Landis boot stitching machine. As a consequence repair work is seriously delayed in the Gosford area and in .other districts. Will the Minister examine the position in order to see what can be done to help the trade in this respect?
– I understand that applications for permits to import machinery from .the United States of America are screened by the Department of Trade and Customs. I shall bring the honorable member’s question to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs and shall ascertain whether any assistance can be rendered to the trade.
– Recently the Minister for Transport supplied to 111” figures showing the aggregate amounts paid to the States in recent years under the Commonwealth Aid Roads and Works A..ct. Will he have the aggregate amounts dissected to show the sums allocated and expended for specified purposes’? What amounts have been allocated to ‘be expended in sparsely-settled districts in .each State? Can he assure the House that the sums allotted in that respect have been sp expended?
– At the moment, I cannot give any .assurance that all the moneys allocated to the States under the Commonwealth Aid Roads and Works Aat have been .expended. .So far as I know all t&e (moneys have -been allocated for the purposes (for which they -were voted by the parliament, and reports are now being obtained from the -States in .order -to ascertain the amounts -which remain unexpended. I shall endeavour to have the figures .dissected as the (honorable member Bequests,.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether it is a fact that doctors in .private practice cannot .’obtain streptomycin for .use in tuberculosis .cases which they axe assured .can -be assisted by the drug1? Is it a fact that whilst, departmental medical officers !say that streptomycin is in short supply, officers -of the Department of Tr.ade and Commerce on the other ‘hand say .that the supplies available are sufficient to. meet our needs? Would the Government allow the dollar shortage to restrict unduly the importation of streptomycin from the United States of America?
– The last question might be more appropriately addressed to the Treasurer. Generally, the provision of adequate supplies of streptomycin is a difficult problem. Conflicting reports have been made of the quanity of the drug available in Australia for use by doctors in private practice. I shall ascertain the facts for the honorable member.
Status of Married Women - Admission of Templars
– A report published in last Friday’s press stated that the Chinese wife of an Englishman, Mr. Carver, who is visiting Australia temporarily from Malaya, is to be deported as from the 10th July next. I ask the Minister for Immigration what is the reason for that decision, and whether such action is mandatory under the law? Does the decision mean that should ,an Australian marry a Siamese, or an Indian, or a woman of any other nationality to which the Minister might take objection the wife will be deported ? If that is the law, does not the Minister consider it to be too rigid, impolitic and inhuman and, therefore, should be amended?
– The provisions of our immigration laws have been the subject of consideration by the High Court of Australia from time to time. Not even a United Kingdom born subject has a right to enter Australia. There was a case known as the Mrs. Freer case some years ago, about which certain honorable members opposite might know a good deal. Eventually, the High Court decided that a person of British nationality, other than an Australian-born subject, had no right under our laws to enter Australia. It has been the practice of all Australian governments for the past 47 years to refuse permission to any person to enter Australia to whom the restrictive sections of our laws applied, whether they were married to Australian or United Kingdom subjects, or whether their State was still that of single blessedness.
The decisions which I have made have been in accordance with that 47-year- old practice. If the honorable gentleman desires the practice to be altered he should commence an agitation for the alteration of the law. There seems to me to, be good reason for the practice to continue and I do not propose to alter it. The Englishman himself who is concerned in this case would have no right to be in Australia if the government of the day decided that he should not remain here.
– Why not?
– That is the law that has operated since 1901 or 1903. While honorable members opposite were in power they had every opportunity to alter the law and, as they did not dp so, they cannot complain about its enforcement now.
– Is the law mandatory?
– No-; there is a discretion; but it has been uniformly administered in one direction. I do not propose to depart from the existing practice, and all the sentimentalists, emotionalists and the rest of the minority groups throughout Australia, who have become so stirred up over the question of altering our laws because of the marriage of certain Australian or other British people to Asiatic ladies, will have no effect upon my decision. If honorable members opposite or anybody elsa throughout the community feel agitated about those decisions, let them try to alter the law rather than to reverse a practice which has obtained for so long.
– Order ! Does the honorable member claim that he has been misrepresented ?
– Yes. It should not be necessary for an honorable member to explain the formal procedure that he follows in referring to Ministers the requests which he receives from his constituents. The Minister for Immigration said that I made representations for the admission to Australia of fourteen Roumanian Jews, and advanced that as evidence of my inconsistency, as a member of the Parliament, in making other claims to him. As a representative of the people, I receive representations from all sections of the community, from all religious denominations, and from members of various political parties. Irrespective of who these people may be, or what I think about the case which they desire me to submit to Ministers, I deem it my duty to put the matter forward to the best of my ability. I have consistently done so with every matter that has been brought to me since I have been a member of the Parliament. I do not know whether the fourteen persons to whom the Minister referred are Roumanian Jews. One of my constituents wrote to me, and explained that he wanted certain of his relatives to be admitted to Australia. I forwarded his letter and his request to the Minister for Immigration for consideration. I did not support the application with any strong request from . a personal point of view, but merely stated all the facts that my constituent had asked me to place before the Minister. I carried out his request to the best of my ability. If an honorable member is not entitled to do that, and if any correspondence between himself and his constituents is to be used against him personally in debate, I believe that the time has come when members of the Opposition must consider whether they can write with safety to any Minister unless they are in thorough agreement on the subject. I, personally, shall continue to represent every one of my constituents, and forward requests to Ministers irrespective of whether I believe in the case or not, if my correspondents ask me to make the representations.
– I also desire to make a personal explanation. I do not mind any honorable member writing to me on behalf of his constituents, and putting forward his proposals in the strongest possible language, but I do object to honorable members who write and ask me to admit aliens to the country attacking me in the House, and saying that I give preference to aliens over British subjects.
– So the Minister does.
-Order! The honorable member is adding to the offence.
– The honorable member for Richmond wrote to me last Sep tember and forwarded the letter of his constituent. He referred to a person who desired to secure permission for certain of his relatives to enter the Commonwealth. On the 8th April, the honorable member asked me again to review the position. I shall review the position and give to the honorable member the same justice as I give to every honorable member. However, he cannot have it both ways. He cannot attack me in the House for giving preference to certain people, and then send letters to the Department of Immigration pleading for a review of the position in regard to certain aliens in order that they may come to Australia before British subjects can be brought here, simply because the ships are not available to bring to Australia all the British people who want to come.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Immigration a question about one of his noteworthy publications called To-morrow’s Australians, which is described as a bulletin of the Department of Immigration. In order to explain my question, I quote the following passage from the issue of the 12th April last: -
Negotiations arc proceeding for the transfer from Palestine to Australia of members of the Temple Society, a Christian missionary movement, together with their assets, which are estimated conservatively at £0,000,000 . . Conditions of entry to Australia laid down for the Templars include . . . assurances that accommodation is available . . . The Templars are of European descent. A religious movement in Germany in the middle of the 19th century gave rise to their society, which was established in Palestine in 1S69.
Will the Minister say who these people are, and how many it is proposed to admit to Australia? What is the nature of the religious movement of which they are adherents? What group or organization in Australia is sponsoring their admission, and giving the requisite assurance that accommodation will be available for them? How will their £6,000,000 worth of assets be transferred to Australia? Will it be in the form of goods, machinery and equipment, or in the form of dollars or sterling? Are such people, because of their money and assets, or for any other reason, to be given priority in immigration to Australia over humble English and Scottish would-be migrants?
– The first observation I make in answer to the honorable member is that he is a glutton for punishment. My second observation is that the persons referred to as Templars are of Germanic origin. Their forebears fled from Germany 60 or 70 years ago because of religious persecution in that country. If one religion can be related to another, they are identical in many ways with the Quakers. Their organization is pacifist in character. They have farmed in. Palestine for many years. Some of them were sent to Australia by the British Government for internment as a precautionary measure in the early stages of the war. All of their cases were investigated by Mr. Justice Hutchins, of the Supreme Court of Tasmania, whowas asked to report which of these people should be permitted to remain in Australia and which of them should be sent back to Palestine. I think His Honour directed that some should be sent away because he was not quite certain about them, but he decided that the great majority should be allowed to remain as permanent residents. Those who had been left behind in Palastine were considered not to constitute a security risk. These people have assets valued at about £6,000,000. When I was in London, last year, I discussed with representatives of the British Colonial Office the transfer of this property to Australia because the Jewish Agency in Palestine had seized a good deal of it, and, unless something were done soon, either the Arabs or the Jews would take the lot. It was thought that these people had some moral rights to their property.
– Perhaps it would have been partitioned !
– I could not agree to any partition proposal in this instance. I wanted to arrange the transfer of those persons about whom the British Government had no security fears, together with their assets. Negotiations to that end have proceeded since then between the British Government, the Australian Government and the British authorities in Palestine. If the persons concerned are brought to Australia by air, I presume that they will travel by Trans-Australia Airlines. If they are brought by ship, I presume that they will leave from the nearest port.
– How many of them are there ?
– I do not know exactly how many there are, but I believe a few hundred persons are involved. They will be brought to Australia to be placed in suitable employment. If they acquire British nationality, they will be entitled to buy land and settle on it. Part of their religious practice is to settle on the land, and they have been successful agriculturists in Palestine for a very long time. Some of them may even join the Australian Country party ultimately! I am not concerned about what they do when they reach Australia, but, if they are brought here, the transfer will be made without detriment to the rights of British subjects to come here in British ships. Their movements will not interfere with the transport of any United Kingdom subjects or other British-born persons who have exclusive rights to berths on British ships. As the honorable member for Richmond has raised the subject of British ships and foreign immigrants, I remind him that recently he wrote to me and asked me to grant landing permits for fourteen Roumanian Jews. When I refused to do so, on good security grounds, the honorable gentleman again wrote to me and asked me to reconsider my decision. This is the man who hypocritically rises in this House and demands preference for British subjects!
Anxiety Neurosis Clinics
– Has the Minister for Repatriation seen the statement by the Federal President of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia that the League intends to press the Government to take immediate action to establish “worry clinics “ in each State to assist exservicemen suffering from war neurosis? If so, what action does the Government propose to take in this matter?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member has referred, but I assume that it relates to what are termed anxiety neurosis cases. Probably more attention has been given to this aspect of repatriation than to any other single problem with which my department has been confronted. Several reports on this matter have been made, but for obvious reasons it is undesirable, in the interests of the men concerned, to ta lk too much publicly about what is being done for them. Each case has to be dealt with individually. I can assure the House that practical steps are being taken to meet this complex and difficult problem.
– Some time agoI discussed with the Minister for Trade and Customs the importation of certain hearing aids from the United States of America. At that time, further importations of these appliances were doubtful owing to the dollar stringency. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs give any indication of the present position, with particular reference to the importation of replacement parts for hearing aids now in use?
– I shall be glad to bring the honorable member’s question to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– I am concerned at the restriction under the law, as it stands, on ex-servicemen using their war gratuity to build homes for themselves and their families. Recently a joint committee of this Parliament met to consider the matter. I made certain representations to that committee, and I should like to know whether the Prime Minister is yet in a position to inform honorable members and ex-servicemen generally of what is being done in this regard.
– As honorable members are aware, members of the previous War Gratuity Committee of this Parliament agreed to serve again in their former capacity to consider this matter. In addition, the honorable member for Henty and Senator Murray were appointed to the committee. The committee met last week and considered all the requests that have been made for changes of the War Gratuity Act. Notes were taken of the proceedings, and when they have been typed, they will be circulated to members of the committee so that they may be assured that the decisions reached have been clearly expressed. It may be necessary for the committee to meet again if there is any difference of opinion as to the exact terms of its decisions. I propose to table the committee’s report in this House when it is available.
Im formationin “Facts and Figures”.
– I ask the Minister for Information whether a booklet entitled A ustralian Facts and Figures is published under the auspices of his department, and at the expense of the taxpayers? If so, will the Minister state why in successive issues of the booklet which purports to give a comprehensive review of activities in Australia, both governmental and private, there are, on the subject of civil aviation, frequent references to the activities of Trans-Australia Airlines and overseas airlines, including Pan-American Airways, but no named reference whatever to the pioneer private companies which risked their capital in establishing civil aviation in this country?
– The splendid publication referred to by the honorable member is issued at my direction and under my authority. I even take credit for it on the last page of each issue. Facts and Figures is issued from time to time, and each issue contains much valuable information, as the honorable member himself will attest. It is the most up-to-date publictaion of its kind, and often anticipates publication by the Commonwealth statistician of important information. I had not previously considered the subject of civil aviation, but I shall give the honorable member’s submissions every consideration now that he has brought the matter to my attention.
– In to-day’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald, there appears a news item which illustrates the soundness of Australia’s economy. It reads, in part -
British money is migrating to Australia faster than British people, according to Australian authorities in London. It is going in the following ways: -
Capitalists are investing in Australian companies or real estate; industrial companies are opening branches in Australia; industrialists are moving to Australia lock, stock, and barrel ; and well-to-do Britons are migrating with capital.
Reasons for the money movement include the attraction of Australia’s growing prosperity, compared with the difficulties in Britain.
The item continues in a similar optimistic strain, but I shall not read the whole of it. Does not the Prime Minister consider that this is a very commendable and correct report? Will he arrange to give the widest possible publicity to this news item in order to impress further upon the people of Australia the sound administra tion and policy of this Government?
– I have not seen the article. Indeed, I have not read any newspapers to-day and, therefore, I am not aware of any particular news items appearing in them. However, I am aware that a considerable number of industrialists and other persons engaged in industry have made inquiries and, in some instances, have even made arrangements for the expansion of their businesses in Australia, or the establishment of subsidiary companies here. The Government always encourages that kind of investment. On previous occasions, I have indicated to the House that subject to certain qualifications, we are always glad to have British and American capital invested here. We encourage overseas capital only when the money is to be used in productive work. We do not encourage the transfer to Australia of what is Known as “ hot “ money. The economy of Australia is particularly sound, and for that reason, many industrialists are endeavouring to establish or expand their businesses here. Because our economy is sound and there is no depreciation of the currency, a small percentage of overseas industrialists and others desire to transfer money to this country. They regard it as being safer here. However, the Government has made it perfectly clear that any “ hot “ money brought here will become “ cold “ immediately upon arrival. During the last six months, I have received a number of inquiries from persons who desire to transfer currency here from some of the outer portions of the British Empire, and, to a small degree from the United Kingdom itself, because they feel some doubt as to the security of the economies of their respective countries. Under the exchange control regulations which are in operation, we encourage people to bring their money here for productive purposes, but “ hot “ money will not be encouraged and will become “ cold “ immediately on arrival, and “ cold “ money may not be re-transferred without the approval of the Government. I regard the matters in the news item which the honorable member for Martin has read as being indicative of the soundness of Australia’s economy.
– I desire to address a question to the Prime Minister in the absence of the Attorney-General. A wave of indignation has spread through the Northern Territory because the residents have been deprived of the right to vote in the forth-coming referendum. The Northern Territory played a prominent part in World War II. The first man to enlist for service on the outbreak of hostilities was a resident of the Northern Territory, and that portion of Australia was an important war base in the defence of the Four Freedoms. If the Government has decided not to grant the member for the Northern Territory full voting powers in this House, does not the Prime Minister agree that it should at least extend to residents of the Northern Territory the right to vote in the forth-coming referendum, because the people of that area feel that the Four Freedoms for which they fought are menaced?
– I do not profess to be fully conversant with the whole legal position, but section 122 of the Constitution empowers the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory and, consequently, the residents of these areas are not affected by any decision that may be made as a result of the referendum. Section 128 of the Constitution makes provision for a referendum to be taken, and specifically mentions the States. The purpose of holding such a referendum is to amend the Constitution, and because of the provisions of section 128 residents of the Northern Territory would not be entitled to vote at the forthcoming referendum, even though the Government might desire that they should do so. For the reasons which I have stated it would not be possible, constitutionally, for residents of the Northern Territory to vote at a referendum, and even if they were permitted to do so their vote would be nothing more than a make-believe vote. In any case, their vote could not affect the result of the referendum.
– I have to announce the retirement on the 9th April of the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, Mr. A. P. Adams. Mr. Adams has been a member of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff for nearly 30 years, and before entering the service of the Commonwealth he was an officer of the Hansard staff of the Parliament of South Australia. He is known to honorable members as a most courteous, loyal and efficient officer, and one to whom much of the credit for the faithful reporting of the debates of the Parliament is due. On behalf of the President of the Senate and myself I desire to express thanks to Mr. Adams, in which I believe members of both Houses of the Parliament will concur, for the service he has rendered to the Parliament. Consequent upon the retirement of Mr. Adams, Mr. W. J. M. Campbell has been appointed Principal Parliamentary Reporter, and Mr. H. H. S. Temperly, Second Reporter.
– On behalf of the Government and of honorable members on both sides of the House I express appreciation of the magnificent work of Mr. Adams. It is not long since Mr. Romans retired and in consequence Mr. Adams did not occupy the position of Principal Parliamentary Reporter for a great length of time, but he has carried out his duties in a manner which reflects great credit on his department. Mr.
Adams was efficient in his work, and he was always most courteous to honorable members. I owe a debt of gratitude to the members of the Parliamentary ReportingStaff for the excellent manner in which they report the speeches made by honorable members, and particularly my own, which, I must admit, are not always completely coherent. Some honorable members possess considerable oratorical gifts, but we are not all so favoured, and, therefore, I should like to add my sincere tribute to Mr. Adams and his staff for the way in which they have recorded the debates of this House. On behalf of honorable members generally I wish Mr. Adams good health and happiness in his retirement.
– Members of the Opposition associate themselves with the expressions of gratitude and goodwill which have been uttered in regard to Mr. Adams, who is a quiet, competent and courteous gentleman. I was very impressed with the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) concerning the capacity of Mr. Adams and his colleagues, who improve our speeches by giving them the form in which they appear in Hansard. During Mr. Adams’s tenure of office, which I have greatly appreciated, I have been impressed particularly by the reports of Ministers’ answers to questions; they have always seemed to be much shorter than when I heard them. For that, and many other blessings, I am most grateful to Mr. Adams.
– On behalf of members of the political party which I have the honour to lead, I desire to express thanks to Mr. Adams for his long and valuable service to the Parliament, on which I congratulate him. I wish him good health and happiness in his retirement.
Debate resumed from the 14th April (vide page 880), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the following paper be printed : -
International Affairs - Statement prepared by the Minister for External Affairs. 11th March, 1948.
.- I believe tha’t most aspects of the complicated international situation have been discussed by honorable members during the course of this debate, and for that reason I cannot hope to contribute a great many original observations. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made what was, in my opinion, a well-considered and detailed speech, which showed that not only was he deeply interested in the subject, but also that he had considered it at great length before giving honorable members the benefit of his long experience and ripe judgment. Whilst I agree with certain remarks and contentions of the right honorable gentleman, I cannot agree with others. Nevertheless, I give him credit for the honesty of purpose which he displayed in the course of his speech. His address was in bold contrast to the distorted, sadistic, party-political utterance of the honorable member for Rich.mond (Mr. Anthony), and it was refreshing to hear one member of the Opposition eschew party politics and attempt to make an honest contribution to the debate.
Like the right honorable gentleman, I find myself in considerable doubt as to Australia’s position in regard to international diplomacy. I have made a number of trips abroad and I have always taken a deep and abiding interest in Australia’s position in international affairs. However, when I listen to “the speeches on the subject of foreign affairs made by some honorable members opposite, I get the impression that they imagine that all they have to do is to place a British flag in the lapels of their coats before entering the chamber and that they are then free to participate in a debate find say what they like in criticism of Australia or of Great Britain. If any member on this side of the House made comments similar to those made by honorable members opposite he would be accused of being a Communist or of being anti-British. I have listened carefully to the debate, which has included a speech by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), but I must confess that I do not know what position Australia occupies in relation to the United Nations. Are we an independent entity of the British Commonwealth of Nations, or are we an integral part of that Commonwealth? Can we go as we please; is it desirable that we should go as we please; or are we, in reality, members of that colossal inchoate entity known as the British. Commonwealth of Nations? It seems to me that if we belong to the British Commonwealth, and we are a real, live, functioning entity, then we ought to be able to speak anywhere in the world as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and not merely as an individual entity. Members of the Opposition, apart from their leader, apparently claim the right to abuse British policy when it suits them, and, likewise, to abuse Australian policy whenever they please. However, the time has come when we must reach some definite couch -ion as to whether we constitute a separate entity at the deliberations of the United Nations, or whether we express our views merely as part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. If we are a separate entity, then we should formulate our foreign policy without regard to any other part of the Empire; but if we are not a separate entity then it is obvious that the time has come when all members of the British Commonwealth should meet and formulate a common policy so that they can present a united front at meetings of the United Nations. That is a most important point to which nobody has drawn attention and with which I shall deal first of all. If Australia is regarded, irrespective of “ blah “ about the British Commonwealth of Nations, as a separate entity, I shall devote my attention to the question of what is the best course to take to ensure the security of Australia as distinct from the security of the British Commonwealth of Nations. If, on the other hand, the British Commonwealth is considered to be a co-operative body, with each member acting for all and all for each, it is necessary to deal with the question in an entirely different way. I do not subscribe to the view that the British Commonwealth of Nations is finished as an effective force in world affairs. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that its rehabilitation should be one of our major objectives.
Britain lias been in the doldrums for some time, but that does not mean that fresh winds will not blow and that it cannot set sail again. Britain has committed grave errors in the past, as I think those honorable members who have been abroad as Ministers of the Crown will be prepared to admit. One thing that must have struck the Leader of the Opposition when he was abroad was the complete apathy of the British parliamentarian to anything that happened outside Great Britain. That was not a deliberate apathy but the result of circumstances. The British parliamentarian was wholly engaged with home affairs and left the British Commonwealth of Nations to develop as it pleased. Those of us who were in Europe in 1934 and .1935 were struck by the enormous preparations for war that were being made there. I sat for five hours in Vienna watch ig the Heimwehr march past, led by Prince Stahremberg, and when I asked the Viennese what it was about I was told, “ This country has great enemies and must prepare for war “. In Hitler’s Germany it was not necessary to ask the Germans whether or not they were preparing for war; it was evident. “When I saw the Russian military preparations and asked what they were for, I was told, “Russia has great enemies without and even within. We must be prepared “. Those people were approaching their problems realistically, and events proved that they were right. When I returned to England and told representatives of the British Foreign Office what I had seen abroad, they said to me, “You are a colonial, you do not understand European policy “. It was quite evident that they did not understand it either, because within a few years the guns again began to thunder in Europe. In Australia we failed at first to take a realistic view of the possibilities of war, and even when we did do so our approach to the problem was not in a very serious vein. If we were not very serious about it, it was because of our remoteness from world events. To-day one can travel from Australia to Englandin 72 hours or 96 hours, but in 1939 the journey occupied 42 days. We must, therefore, alter our foreign policy to conform the changing shape of international affairs and the impossibility of isolation in the world. We must find out where we h l all(1 in relation to British foreign policy.
I do not subscribe to the sentimental nonsense that nations can be. made to cooperate for other than practical reasons. People go where their pockets dictate. They always have done so and, so far as I can see, they always will do so. I believe that even in the most religious of us, God runs about seventh. The United Nations, if properly organized, can become the most powerful force ever devised by the mind of man, but it is, I believe, starting off on the wrong foot. Can it be said that any Australians or other delegates to the United Nations have been authorized to commit their countries to anything? If delegates have no such power or authority, it is merely a waste of time to send them abroad. Did not the League of Nations fail because the national delegates had no authority to give anything away or to do anything? Did it not fail because it had no force in a world of force? If we send our delegates abroad with the sole idea of gaining advantages for this country, we are living in a fool’s paradise and the outbreak of war sooner or later is inevitable.
So far I have not referred to communism, which is a topic to which everybody refers nowadays. YOU cannot put the icing on the cake without mentioning the Communist. He has been with us for a long time, but 1948 seems to be the Communist year. Perhaps there will be a new fashion next year. I believe that our approach to the United Nations is fundamentally wrong. If properly used, the United Nations can become a great potential power for the maintenance of peace, but we must ensure that the delegates are authorized to give and take on behalf of their countries. Reference was made to Manus Island. Can honorable members imagine the howl of protest that would have been raised in this country if the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) or any of the Australian delegates at the San Francisco conference had given away one coco-nut tree on Manus Island ? We should never have heard the last of it. Headlines in the newspapers would have proclaimed that portions of Australia had been given away. The area of Manus Island is, I believe, only 600 or ‘700 square miles, but it would have been made to appear as if (500,000,000 or 700,000,000 square miles of Australian territory had been surrendered and that it was far more important to us than Sydney Harbour. Unless we are prepared to approach the United Nations in a realistic manner, we shall not get anywhere. I believe that the problem facing the United Nations is how to ensure that delegates are authorized by the people they represent fully to give and take as the majority decides. The United Nations should recommend to the governments of the member nations that they should hold full and secret ballots of their peoples to elect their representatives.
– How would that apply to Russia?
– Does that matter? With the rest of the world united, what could Russia do? Honorable gentlemen opposite complain that Russia will not cooperate with the rest of the nations. Well, leave it outside where it deserves to he left !
– Come over here !
– 1 could not ask the honorable member to come over to this side, because he would not measure up to our standards, but I could conceivably measure up to requirements on that side. The representatives of the nations so chosen should attend the United Nations with authority to give and take as the occasion demanded. It would naturally follow that sessions would be held in secret and votes taken in secret so that the peoples of the member nations should not know how their agents spoke or voted. We should then begin to get somewhere in international affairs. I know that that procedure would not be popular with my honorable friends opposite, who would fear the undermining of the capitalistic structure, and what do they care about the security of the people so long as that remains untouched?
Let us examine conditions in Australia. One of the great things to do in the world is to set a good example. I am amazed that honorable gentlemen opposite talk as they do about the Australian democracy. Never was a greater lie told by greater liars than that Australia is democratic. I intend to prove that statement. In the Australian political structure we have a federal parliament with thirty-nine heads of power. We are clamouring for more powers to enable us to administer the affairs of the country adequately. We have six State parliament with sovereign powers outside the thirty-nine powers reposed in this Parliament. In four of those State parliaments the upper houses are elected on a franchise of less than 50 per cent, of the adult population. This is the democracy in which all men are free ! We shall hear honorablegentlemen opposite yelling in a moment, because I have some other gibes for them. In the democracy that they “holler” about, 50 per cent, of the people have no say. No doubt honorable gentlemen opposite will scream about that statement/ They are the great democrats.
– I think the honorable gentleman is inviting screams.
– The Opposition is welcome to scream. The Australian press was aghast about the overthrow of the elected government in Czechoslovakia, but the overthrow of the Cain Government in Victoria for no reason whatever was called democratic. Dozens of Victorians whom I questioned said that they did not know why they had rejected the Cain Government. It reminds me of the man who shot his neighbour’s dog because he did not like his neighbour. Less than 50 per cent, of the Victorian voters threw the Labour Government out. The electors were panicked by the Liberal party press into voting Mr. Cain’s administration out of office on a subject with which he had absolutely nothing to do. How democratic !
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) will be laughing into only his own ears soon when he is talking about the great Australian democracy when he knows that 50 per cent, of the people have no say. We should first ensure that Australia shall be thoroughly democratic before we protest about communism or any other “ ism “ elsewhere.
Another State government is about to be thrown out of office to serve political ends.
– Order ! The honorable member is dealing with home affairs more than with foreign affairs.
– Invariably when I start to prove that democracy does not exist in Australia and that we have no right to protest about communism in other countries until we have democracy ourselves, I find myself frustrated. The United Nations should decide that representatives of the member nations shall be elected by popular vote and that they shall have full authority to negotiate for and on behalf of the people they represent. They would then be able to achieve real and lasting results. For how long did the League of Nations, the product of the Peace of Versailles, last? It was a jelly-like organization from the beginning. No one believed in it. It wa-s sabotaged in the same way as the United Nations is being sabotaged to-day. If we believe in peace, we should be willing to spend at least as much on its preservation as we were prepared to spend on war. I think that is the practical approach to the problem and that merely to send to the United Nations the Minister for External Affairs, or any one else, without authority to make even the slightest concession on behalf of Australia, is ridiculous and useless. The United Nations should be recast on the lines I have suggested. The representatives of the member nations should be elected at plebiscites by the peoples of those nations and they should have plenary powers to do what they like. It should be insisted that their deeds shall be ratified by the governments and parliaments of the countries they represent. I know that that sounds preposterous, but the alternative is war, as it always has been. In 1804, Napoleon, when asked why he waged war in Europe, said, “ For the purpose of establishing a league of nations and a common fatherland “. When Woodrow Wilson went to Versailles in 1919 he was asked why he was there and’ he said, “ To establish a league of nations “. But who let him down but his own people in the United States of America? One would have thought that the slaying of 17,000,000 people in World War I. would have taught the world that war does not pay and that power politics inevitably lead to war. World War I. gave birth to some highsounding phrases. Do honorable members not remember that England was to have been a place fit for heroes to live in? Yet, in 1930, one third of the people there were out of work and starving. Australia, too, was to have been a place fit for heroes to live in. But what fitness did the heroes find in the country in 1931 when 33 per cent, of the workers were without jobs. I do not forget that my right honorable friend, the Leader of the Opposition, as Prime Minister in the early stages of World War II., also indulged in high-sounding phrases about the new order, but all I have heard of the new order is the reiterated question of Liberals when I meet them in the street : “ When are you going to reduce the income tax ? “
– What has that to do with international affairs?
– Gross stupidity placed the honorable member for Henty in this chamber, and nothing I have said would be comprehensible to him. We ought to clean up our own backyard before we tell other people to clean up theirs. What has been said by honorable gentlemen opposite in this debate other than “ What hopeless and terrible people the Commo’s are ! “. The honorable member for Henty does not feel “ bucked “ when I contrast the position in our country with that in other countries.
I do not intend to deal with all the matters which have been discussed in this debate. I believe that the people are conscientious - I do not accuse them of being otherwise - in their approach to these problems. But it is improper for us to criticize other nations because of their alinements, whether we like them or not, when we are not prepared to rectify our own set-up and thus set an example to other countries. We have no democracy in this country. The first thing we should do is to move towards democracy. Then we can say to other countries, “ Here is the view of a free people “. The claims made by the Opposition parties that we have democracy in Australia do not convince people, who, like myself, have had experience of the totalitarian and virtually Nazi practices of upper houses in our State parliaments. We should set an example that will enable other nations to say, “Australia is a country which is a true democracy ; we can take it as a pattern of democracy, and see how it works “. I have bitter recollections of my failure when a minister in Tasmania to put through the Parliament of that State the British Parliament Act of 1911 which would have placed the Upper House in Tasmania on a partially democratic basis. But, unlike the United Kingdom, Tasmania is not really democratic.
I wish to know quite clearly where Australia stands in relation to the British Commonwealth of Nations. Is the British Commonwealth of Nations merely a name, or something in which we are partners in a common cause? If so, to what do we really subscribe? Where do the representatives of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations meet to determine the policy they will support at the United Nations conferences? Next, are we really prepared to serve the interests of the world as a whole? I repeat that we should establish an international body consisting of representatives freely elected by the peoples of all nation members and give to it complete power to come to decisions to rectify those things which are, inevitably, causes of war. Militarily, the age of the bayonet and foot-slogger has gone. We are living in a highly scientific age. I do not know what are the potentialities of nuclear fission in relation to war. I have spoken to many competent people who have attempted to gauge those potentialities in both war and peace. I am convinced that Einstein was right when he said, “ If we are going to march into another war, it will be the last “. If the western nations are so foolish as to walk deliberately into another war because of useless and unnecessary ideologies, they will deserve all that is coming to them. If we wish to think in terms of peace we must throw overboard all our antiquated ideas and approach world reform in the spirit of true reformers, and not simply decadent capitalistic shibboleths. That must be our approach to the problem of maintaining world peace.
When one speaks to the peoples of European countries and observes the defence alinements of power politics on that continent one realizes that those countries have been fighting among themselves for over one thousand years and in various parts of the world for over two thousand years. Up to date, we have always tried to deal with this problem by forming bodies like the League of Nations and by signing treaties which are torn up at the earliest opportunity. No one really respects such organizations and their works because they have not behind them the force of the law, or even physical force. The reason for that is that such bodies are constituted of representatives who are not given by their respective peoples adequate powers of negotiation. When we succeed in establishing an international organization endowed with such powers we shall begin to get somewhere. In this respect, I allude to a recent event. We should support to the utmost the union of countries known as Benelux because that movement represents the beginning of something real and material. I believe that in the formation of such a union, any country which is essential to its success but refuses to enter it, remains a source of danger, and, therefore, should be forced to join it. For instance, if Denmark refuses to join Benelux and its entry is essential to the success of Benelux, not merely diplomatic but coercive measures should be taken to make it join that union. The ideas of a few stupid people should not be allowed to endanger the welfare of millions of people. We are approaching a new era in which we shall evolve new forms of energy and new weapons of warfare; and if we hope to solve the problem of world peace by adhering to the old methods, which have always caused war, we are simply fooling ourselves.
Why has Europe, particularly eastern Europe, gone Communist? The countries affected enjoyed magnificent educational and industrial systems; each of them has a culture and specialists in arts and crafts of its own. Why have those countries suddenly gone Communist? There must be some explanation for their action. If democracy is a comfortable, easy way of life, as everybody would have us believe, why have not those countries chosen that way of life? I know from my own visits to Europe that there is nothing very comfortable about communism. I visited Russia in order to see communism at work. Why have those countries gone Communist? I do not know the answer. All I know is that they have chosen to go Communist. It may be that we have failed in our responsibility to them to point the way to better things through democratic progress. Do honorable members really believe that the Italian people, when they approach the polls next week, will be fooled by what happened in respect of Trieste, which has been thrown back and forth between Italy and Yugoslavia as one throws a piece of meat to a dog? Is that the way to establish peace? Of course not. I am perplexed by the world’s inability to see clearly through the present welter of chaos and confusion the best way to create lasting peace. Agreement among nations not to go to war for a period of, say, ten years, is tantamount to saying that they will thereby be given an opportunity to create better weapons and to make more effective preparations for war. That is all that such an approach means. What else could it mean? But if we resolve absolutely that there will be no more war and set aside everything that might lead to war, we must commence the job in our own economy by cleaning up our own dirty backyard and helping others to clean up theirs. One cannot talk reason to a man with an empty stomach. The interests which honorable members opposite represent are more concerned with the prices of wheat and wool and other commodities than with the production and distribution of the necessaries of life as a means of maintaining world peace. They are more concerned about how they can translate famine and poverty of other countries into profit for their own pockets. While that outlook prevails there is no hope for mankind. Unless the more fortunate nations of the world wake up and apply themselves vigorously to this problem and set examples in co-operation, democracy, toleration and care for the underdog there will be no hope for western European countries, and no hope of starving off communism in Europe. Communism may, by force of arms, be resisted successfully for a while, but eventually if reliance is placed only in arms it will rise. To be truthful, I do not know what communism really is. When I was in RussiaI had the opportunity to observe conditions in that country, and I have also observed conditions in countries under social and capital regimes. I do not know where it all begins or ends; but one thing I do know is that once communism gets on themarch westward, the western nations must wake up and apply themselves to the real problem.
– Does the honorable member support the Marshall plan?
– I support it keenly, but, unfortunately, it has come two years too late. I have always believed that the Bretton Woods agreement did not constitute an honest approach to the problem ; but I accepted it, hoping that I was wrong.
-There is no need to hope that.
– At least it had an international flavour. [Extension of time granted.] It was at least intended to bring about international goodwill, even if it did not achieve its purpose. I believe that, with the passing of time mutual confidence will be developed among the nations of the world, and decisions will be expedited, if we keep on plugging away and we can keep the United Nations organization alive, with its 600 or 700 representatives freely nominated by the various nations meeting together in plenary sessions, voting under a system of secret ballots, and devoting themselves to first things first in world affairs. If the huge sums of money now devoted by the nations to war-like preparations and to the protection of their borders from marauding enemies were devoted to the feeding of the hungry peoples of the world and the raising of the standards of living in backward countries, within a few years we would get very much further than we can hope to get by all the careless, loose talk in which we are now indulging. There should be more frequent debates on international affairs, and we should devote a very much greater portion of om- time to them. We are an exceedingly lucky people. As a nation of 7,000,000 people, living in a vast island continent in a temperate climate, and with great resources at our disposal, we are inclined to view the world from a wrong perspective. Much still remains to be done within our own country. We should devote ourselves to putting our own house in order, and. at the same time apply ourselves to the consideration of world problems, with the object of establishing not peace for five or ten years, but everlasting peace.
– I listened with considerable interest to the speech of the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha). One statement that impressed rae - and the honorable member repeated it again and again - was that, in Australia we have no democracy, and that we should put our own house in order. 1 do not agree with the honorable member that we have no democracy in Australia. Eather do I say that he and his colleagues are trying to turn our democracy into a socialist state. That is one of the troubles which beset us to-day. I appeal to the honorable member to cooperate with members of the Opposition parties to save our democracy by stamping out this attempt to disrupt it. While the nations comprising the component parts of the Empire may hold independent views on certain subjects, the British Commonwealth of Nations should, at least, speak with one voice in the deliberations of the United Nations. The security of Australia has always been, and always will be, dependent upon our membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The British fleet and the British forces generally, in co-operation with our own forces, have played a very big part in preserving our safety. I agree with the honorable member that we should cooperate in every possible way with the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and I commend that view to the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), who, at conferences of organizations associated with the United Nations, has too often allied himself with the representatives of third-Taste South American Republics in opposition to the representatives of Great Britain. That is a misguided policy. As far as possible, we should aline our policy in respect of interna’tional affairs with that of Great Britain. I do not con-tend that we should not hold views independent from those of the rest ‘ of the Empire, but I submit that we should express them to Great Britain and our sister dominions and not voice them in international assemblies. We should not try to curry favour by joining up with third-rate South American republics in opposition to Great Britain. Unfortunately, our international policy is determined solely by the Minister for External Affairs. When the right, honorable gentleman packs his suitcase and leaves Australia it is impossible to obtain from any other Minister, even the Prime Minister himself, answers to questions relating to international affairs. Invariably the answer given by the Prime Minister to such questions is somewhat like this in effect, “ The Minister is away. Wait until he comes back. I cannot answer such questions in his absence No nation can play its part properly in the United Nations if its representative acts independently of the Parliament of the country to which he is responsible. No sooner does the right honorable gentleman present a statement to this House than he scurries away somewhere else. I register my emphatic protest against that practice. We are living to-day in a very turbulent world, which is fraught with greater danger of international conflict than at any time since the cessation of World War II. Because of that the joint Opposition parties asked that a statement be made in the House on international affairs and that honorable members be given an opportunity to debate it. In response to that request the Prime Minister, before the Easter adjournment, tabled the statement prepared by the Minister for External Affairs which we are now debating. It is a document consisting of between 200 and 300 pages of typescript matter. On Thursday of last week, the Minister for External Affairs, having addressed the House on matters arising out of the statement, immediately left the chamber, and has not since returned. I protest against the cavalier manner in which the Government has dealt with this subject. The world to-day is in a more “ topsy-turvy “ state than ever before, and when important debates of this kind are taking place the Minister for External Affairs should be present so that he may be fully apprised of the views of honorable members. His speech was more noteworthy for its omissions than for the information which it contained. It consisted of a mere chronological record of recent international events. There was not one useful paragraph on the allimportant subject of our foreign policy. It disclosed indecision on the part of the Government and did not offer one worthwhile answer to any of the problems that confront the United Nations to-day. It did not offer any suggestions for remedying the difficulties with which we are faced. The speech also disclosed an extraordinary ii mount of confusion in the Government’s camp. How can we hope for a. forthright policy on international affairs when there is confusion in the minds of the Ministers of the Crown, who are expected to formulate our foreign policy? On the question of war, we find the Minister for External Affairs saying that we are drifting towards war, whereas, according to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, there is no likelihood of a war. How is it possible to frame a united policy on the problems of war and peace when two Ministers of the Crown are in such complete conflict? On the 21st March last, the following report was published: -
The present world situation could only be described as a “ drift towards war “, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) said to-day. No one wanted war or could afford to suffer the further losses of war and so reduce living conditions even further, but nations could drift into war.
Dr. Evatt issued this warning in a message to the central executive of the National Committee on the United Nations, which is meeting in Canberra. “It is almost as though the nations were inanimate objects being carried inevitably down a stream, instead of being human beings with feelings, hopes and ideals, and with full control of their destiny through their responsible leaders said Dr. Evatt. “ The present condition of drift is, therefore, a challenge to all responsible leaders; war can come only as a result of the absence of leadership in world affairs.”
Speaking in Adelaide quite recently, the. Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, who, I remind the House, is also Minister for Defence, made a statement of which the following is a press report: -
Deprecating talk of war, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), on arrival from Melbourne to-day, said that from knowledge he had gained from his two recent trips abroad, there would be no war within the next few years. Nothing had occurred in Europe.’ or elsewhere, to cause the Federal Government to think its five years’ defence plans should be altered in any way. said Mr. Dedman.
While it would be foolish to say what could, or could not, happen in Europe in the future, he deprecated very much all talk that war whs likely in the near future.
Australia’s defence plans were based on scientific research,’ which had received much greater emphasis than ever. it is utterly futile for the Government to expect the people of this country to be united in their approach to the problems of preserving peace when members of Cabinet are so completely divided on foreign policy. I read the statement on international affairs now under discussion, and T listened carefully to the speech of the Minister for External Affairs upon it. On both occasions my feeling was one of keen disappointment. The document that the Prime Minister tabled consists of nearly 250 pages of typewritten matter, most of which is taken up with descriptions of the procedure followed at United Nations conferences. It deals extensively with chairmanship of committees, resolutions and amendments, and the whole paraphernalia cf the international gatherings; but it says little about efforts to ensure world peace. Whilst it is of some interest to know that Australia’s representative to the United Nations moved such and such an amendment, was appointed to this or that committee, or made a pious speech upon such and such a matter, where are these things getting us ? We are not being told anything of the Government’s foreign policy or of the situation that faces this country. Can it be that the Government is either without a foreign policy or is ashamed of it. What the people of this country want to know, and are entitled to know, is the Government’s attitude towards the many conflicts and disturbances that threaten the peace of the world to-day. On this question Ministers are silent. Neither in bis prepared statement nor in his subsequent speech upon it has the Minister for External Affairs indicated the Government’s policy on major international matters which could precipitate a conflict at any time. Both the tabled document and the Minister’s speech were most unrealistic. The right honorable gentleman could, with advantage, have devoted considerably less time to detailed descriptions of procedure and more to the problems that threaten world peace. Current events overseas are so dangerous and the forces that might be unleased are of such a magnitude that it is imperative that Australia should state clearly its attitude to the international problems that are arising from time to time. Failure to solve these problems may have serious repercussions for Australia. The basic question which must govern the formulation of any foreign policy in this country is : “ Who is responsible for the obvious deterioration of international affairs? “ We had every hope and confidence that the United Nations would tackle the problem of ensuring world peace successfully, but events have proved most disappointing, and the Minister for External Affairs has added to cur disappointment by his hopeless prepared statement, and his futile subsequent address to this House. On major questions on which this House and the country have every right to expect an expression of opinion from the Minister, he has been silent. He sidestepped the major issues. Throughout his statement and his speech he has made a special effort to avoid any criticism of Russia, yet the failure of the United Nations, if it has indeed failed, can be traced directly to the actions of that country. The Minister endeavoured to create the impression that all the great powers were equally responsible for whatever failure has taken place in the United Nations. Whilst condemning the exclusion of the small powers from the making of treaties, he neglected to point out that that exclusion took place at the instigation of the Soviet Union. Surely it is obvious to the merest laymen in this country that Russia to-day is doing its utmost to upset the workings of the United Nations ; yet the Minister for External Affairs has not the courage to state clearly that, if the United Nations is to function effectively, Russia must appear in a completely new role. Ministers of this Government are as afraid to say a word about Russia as they are to stand up to the Communists in this country.
When, in the course of the Minister’s speech in this chamber last week, I asked when the present senseless slaughter of Jews and Arabs in Palestine would cease, he replied indignantly that it was impossible to answer the question, and that he would not attempt to do so.
– Because the question was stupid.
– If the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully) believes that it is stupid to suggest that something be done to stop the futile slaughter of Jews and Arabs in Palestine, and that the United Nations should carry out the task for which it was created, namely to ensure world peace, I have little regard for his intelligence. In my opinion, one of the simplest tests that could be made of the effectiveness of the United Nations would be to ascertain whether the organization can preserve the peace in Palestine? In the face of this small conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine the United Nations appears to be helpless. Delegates to meetings of the United Nations, including our own Minister for External Affairs, arc getting themselves tangled up ‘ in debates about procedure. They spend their time passing pious resolutions, and in arranging for the erection of palatial buildings and the appointment of ever-increasing staffs, instead of attempting to preserve world peace. The Minister for External Affairs said that it was impossible to stop the senseless slaughter of Jews and Arabs. If that be so, then the United Nations organization has already failed. If it cannot preserve peace in that small corner of the world, what confidence can we have in its ability to deal with major problems in the future? We can hardly hope for the lead which we require from a Minister who confesses that he is unable to suggest how the problem of Palestine should be dealt with. I cannot believe that the United Nations, and our own Minister for External Affairs, were serious in their attempt to solve the problem of Palestine. A commission was appointed to consider the matter, and the five countries appointed to it were Uruguay, Guatemala, Iceland, Poland and Norway. The commission appointed a committee upon which were representatives of Bolivia and Czechoslovakia - which has since gone out of the United Nations - Denmark, Panama and the Philippines. How can we believe that there was any real desire that the committee should succeed in its work when it consisted of representatives of small countries which had no colonial possessions of their own, and very little experience of international affairs? In those circumstances, the committee did not have a sporting chance of dealing successfully with the problem. The committee should have had upon it representatives of some of the great nations with a long colonial tradition, and experience in international affairs. The problem of Palestine is an extraordinarily difficult one, and it was not fair to the parties which are in conflict in that country to appoint, for the consideration of this problem, a body which, by its nature, had no chance of succeeding.
I ask the Minister for External Affairs, who is again absent from the ch amber, what is his attitude towards the situation developing in China? I read in the press recently that Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had admitted that, in recent months, Communist forces had captured seven Chinese armies, and hundreds of thousands of square miles of Chinese territory. He also said that theFirst and Sixth Chinese Armies, which had been captured by the Communists, had been fully trained and equipped by the United States of America. The Communist forces have been trained and armed by Russia. Judging by the pace at which the Communists are rolling up the Chinese forces, it will not be long, if they are not checked, before they dominate the whole of China. What is the attitude of the United Nations to this international problem, and what is the attitude of our own Government? The present situation cannot be in the interests of world peace. The duty of the United Nations is to preserve the peace of the world, and recent occurrences in China are not in the interest of peace. The Communists are employing the same tactics as the Japanese used when they grabbed Manchuria. The action of the Communist forces in China constitutes a direct threat to Australia, and to peace in the Pacific, yet these matters were not referred to by the Minister for External Affairs in either his statement or his speech. Was it because the Government is afraid of making any declaration which might be thought to be opposed to Russia, or is the Government again trying to appease the Soviet Government ?
The tragedy of Czechoslovakia, with its serious threat to the peace of Europe and the world, has elicited from the Minister only what is called in this Parliament “ a passing reference “. Once more, is the Government afraid of offending Russia? The constant improper use of the veto by Russia has evoked from the Minister only the flimsiest protest. In foreign affairs, as in domestic affairs, the Government is obviously not game to stand up to the Communists, and has adopted a policy of appeasement. The inaction of the United Nations in face of these threats to peace is destroying its prestige. I am one of those who believe that if we are to preserve peace in this topsy-turvy world, if we are to save civilization, the United Nations must be made to function effectively. At the present time, it is not doing this. Almost every day we read in the newspapers that public bodies, and organizations of various kinds, are stating that the United Nations is a dying body. On Friday last, Senator Flanders, a Republican, urged the Senate to reject President Truman’s request for a loan to build head-quarters for the United Nations. “ We cannot bring this dying body back to health by building a £22,000,000 mausoleum for it”, the Senator said. He declared that he would oppose any similar measure until the United States brought before the United Nations the basic issue which would determine peace or war. The basic issue was whether Russia was seeking peace according to its responsibilities to the United Nations, or war in accordance with the official statements of those who guided the country’s social philosophy and political action. A group of fifteen senators supporting Senator Flanders is planning a revision of the United Nations on lines which would subsequently reduce the participation of the small nations, and might exclude Russia. They have drafted motions calling for a special meeting of the United Nations General Assembly as a forum of world opinion to judge the respective attitudes towards peace of the United States and the Soviet Union. They also envisage a re-organization of the United Nations, with or without Russia, to abolish the right of veto in the Security Council in all cases involving aggression or preparation for aggression in any country. This lack of regard for the United Nations shows with what doubts thoughtful people view the prospects of the organization operating successfully. The speech made by the Minister for External Affairs, and the statement which he tabled, have merely stimulated distrust in the United Nations. The newspapers yesterday contained a further report of efforts being made in the United States of America to build up an entirely new international organization excluding Russia - an alliance of a great number of world powers - to ensure peace. Unless the United Nations can operate successfully, we must have an alliance of all English-speaking nations, and all other peace-loving nations which are opposed to Soviet Russia and its satellites. The Sydney Morning Herald, on Tuesday, published a complaint by the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, Mr. Lie, about neglect of the United Nations, He said that none of the Big Five nations was using the United Nations as it should be used, and that for many months there had been no serious attempt by any of them to negotiate major differences in connexion with world peace.
The League of Nations died because it became hopelessly ineffective. It fell into a state of inactivity and impotence, and was unable, or perhaps unwilling; - as the United Nations appears to be to-day - to make decisions and enforce their implementation.
We must make every possible endeavour to preserve world peace. But aggression cannot be prevented merely by debates of the United Nations General Assembly. Nor can it be prevented by appeasement or by the use of kid-glove methods with Russia. The nations of the world must make a new approach to the United
Nations involving, above every thing, a determination to make the organization successful. Australia’s representation on that body should be changed. Unless the Minister for External Affairs adopts a new and stronger attitude towards Russia and stops wasting his time in efforts at appeasement or in considering assembly procedure, he will contribute to the breaking of the peace. This Government is doing much to accelerate the failure of the United Nations. There is only one way to prevent the Minister from continuing to waste his time, and the nation’s time. It is for this Parliament to establish an all-party standing committee on foreign affairs to examine every international problem that arises. We cannot hope to be properly informed by the speeches and statements of the Minister.
I hope that a firm stand will be taken against Russia and that the United Nations will get down to the business of dealing with world problems on a sound and sane basis, making decisions and ensuring that they are executed promptly. Australia’s share in the work of the organization can be made effective and valuable in either one of two ways. The first way is to change the Government. The second is to create in this Parliament an all-party committee on foreign affairs whose duty would be to examine world problems and advise the Government constantly as to the proper course of action to be taken,
– I have listened with considerable interest and a great deal of appreciation to the speeches made in this debate by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) and by other honorable members who have spoken ably and informatively. I am happy to think that these speeches must have been heard hy many people throughout Australia. I am satisfied that this Government has a genuine desire to see order brought out of the chaos of the present world situation. The simple and straightforward statements that have been made by the Prime Minister in recent speeches have led me to this conclusion. Not for a moment do I doubt the sincerity of anything that has been said by those honorable members who have: engaged in this debate.
Having made these comments, I shall now deal with the subject in a different way. It is easy to make statements and speeches and to argue ourselves into a logical position, but it is very difficult to make our actions suit our words. The world is ridden by fear of a third world war. There i9 a trend in the direction of war. The United Nations was created iri order to try to do the work that the League of Nations failed to do. Can the United Nations prevent another world war? Questions such as this are being asked daily in every country and by all the peoples of the world. En my view, nothing but conscience and common sense can make the United Nations work successfully. It is not common sense to try to convince people that everything is being done to maintain world peace merely by holding conferences and debates, whilst armaments are being increased at the mad speed which prevails to-day and huge sums of money are being expended to produce w methods of slaughter more frightful than we have ever known. Something more than words will be needed to convince the peoples of the world that everything possible is being done to prevent war. While the leaders of the nations are talking and while conferences are being held, millions of people all over the world are dying from cold, starvation and fear, in misery and degradation and hundreds of thousands of millions of pounds are being spent on plans for further destruction. If only half of this vast volume of money were to be devoted to plans for peace, there could not be another war.
I know that it is considered unpatriotic to criticize defence plans. The cry, “ We must be prepared “, has the appeal of patriotism. I believe that the principles of peace will ultimately be recognized as true patriotism, and be honoured accordingly. One writer expressed it thus -
Clear, cogent thinking is vastly more important as an element of patriotism than flag-waving and cheering, though these latter have their place.
I quote from another source -
If all rulers, Ministers and newspaper proprietors were genuine lovers of peace and concord, the menace of armaments would he removed by international agreement, and immense annual sums would be set free for the social service of mankind.
The Atlantic Charter was prepared on the 14th August, 1941. After outlining eight specific points, Mr. Roosevelt, the then President of the United States of America, and Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, “being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policy of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world “. Those eight points are now well known. I read from the Charter the paragraph that immediately follows them -
Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea and air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten or may threaten aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations i» essential.
They will likewise aid and encourage all other practical means which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armament.
Modern armaments are a reflection of our economic- system. One writer has described them as the “teeth and claws of the tiger “. The great munitions and armaments industries are internationally related, and it has been their business to initiate disturbances that have led to wars. Much of the world’s press has been, in the past, and probably still is, dominated by armament companies, or by companies with affiliations with armament organizations. What, then, of the assertion that we must be prepared? It is said that Great Britain was unprepared before World War II.; that it had partly disarmed, and was caught at a disadvantage; that this must not happen again; and that Australia must not be caught unprepared. Let us examine the statement, which is widely made to-day, that Great Britain was unprepared for World War II.
The assertion that Great Britain was in a state of partial disarmament and was unprepared for war was untrue. The fact3, as published by the League of Nations, show that the total British expenditure on armaments had risen from 375,000,000 gold dollars in 1913 to 535.000,f.CO v. !”“0. In the same period, France’s expenditure rose from 349,000,000 to 455,000,000 gold dollars, and that of the United States of America from 255,000,000 to 728,000,000 gold dollars.
– Do those calculations make allowance for the difference in the value of money?
– I am not sure, but I imagine that that factor would be taken into consideration in the compilation of the figures. This increase of expenditure gives the lie to the statement that Great Britain, at least, was unprepared for war. More money was being expended on preparations for defence in 1930 than in 1913. A substantially greater amount is being expended on defence to-day. I contend that no matter how much money each country expended on defence, all of them except one would be said to be unprepared at the outbreak of another war. That is the nature of the madness. If we are ultimately to return to bow and arrow warfare, for pity’s sake let the United Nations and every parliament in the world decide to take that step now. Let us eliminate the manufacture of armaments, and thereby save the lives and sanity of the people of the world, who are not consulted before countries go to war. Armaments mean money, and money means profits. Unthinking and exaggerated value placed upon money is the most destructive single influence in the world to-day. Two questions, which were age old years ago, may be asked again to-day. The first is -
Wherefor do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labour for that which satisfieth not?
One thinker pronounced -
There is no wealthbut life.
We have killed and disabled so much life in the world that the very means of sustaining life, and of even producing life, has been affected. The real wealth of the world has been affected. Last. October, Sir John Boyd Orr said -
If modern science were applied to increase food production with the same intensity as it was applied to produce weapons of destruction during the war, then within a few years a world of famine would be transformed into a world of plenty.
This debate on international affairs has centred upon the dangers of power and war, but it could well have centred upon the life and well-being of all the peoples of the earth. War is a crime against humanity, a cancer-like growth eating away our civilization. It has grown as the result of other crimes, in particular, the crime of selfishness, greed and wrong-living. There have been incitements to those crimes. I agree with the statement of George Bernard Shaw that-
To interfere with fleets and armies and leave newspapers alone would be to strain at, a gnatand to swallow a camel.
All who incite to crime should receive deterrent treatment. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) took the point, that “needs must when the devil drives “, and the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) spoke upon the same theme. The question was asked, “Must the devil drive in peace as well as in war? “ That is precisely what has happened for more than 150 years - the devil has driven the devil of power politics, spurred on by the greed and selfishness of a few who sit in the spotlight, fed and clothed by those who slave and starve in the outer darkness. Men give life easily, and, in the main, can take life easily; but every time a new life is born into the. world a woman suffers. Generally speaking I believe that the taking of life affects women differently from men; and yet at no stage in the deliberations of the United Nations, and certainly at no time during the war-making deliberations, have women been gathered together, as men have been assembled, to voice their opinions. In fact, as the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaba) pointed out, the peoples of the nations are not consulted on those occasions. I agree with the suggestion which the honorable member made that elected representatives from this country, and from all other countries, should meet at the United Nations; but I gofarther and advocate that women should be given equal representation with men. A paper has come to my notice in regard to representation at the United Nations, and I propose to read some of it. I have already quoted from portions of it, but I think the following paragraphs are of particular importance. They read -
Because modern warfare endangers women and children, along with men, the chivalry which hitherto existed in militarism has gone, and so also have other long-standing codes of honour among fighting men; the existence of defenceless weapons in our time is writing one of the darkest chapters in human history.
In these circumstances, women must not be satisfied with loose promises on the part of men, or wishful thinking in the matter of the safer world.The very least we should expect from to-day’s international machinery is the outlawing of war as a decisive measure.
Women’s piecemeal representation at the United Nations organization to date provides no evidence of what they would achieve if given “world” representation.
By their very nature women have a strong objection to waste; and I. hope to see that objection expressed strongly in regard to waste of human life, whether in war or in peace. Women throughout the world are protesting against shortages of goods, increase of prices, and so on. Most ofthem do not realize that those lesser evils are the result of wars which have been brought about by an unplanned and unbalanced economy. Most of the wars of recent times have followed the dictates of power politics.
Selfishness and greed have developed into something like virtues because of the insistence placed upon them as the result of our present system of education. The systems of education obtaining in the western world have led people to believe that to possess is more important than tocreate, so that there is need for reform of the entire systems of education. In saying that, I do not include the education systems of the eastern world, because I do not know just how much they differ from those of the western world. In every country, irrespective of whether it is affiliated with the United Nations, there are organizations of men and women who are working ceaselessly against the menace of war both immediate and potential. Although there are hundreds, and even thousands, of those organizations and their members number hundreds of thousands, if not millions, we do not hear much of their work. Those organizations are of no news value to the press of the world; but their voice must be heard, and their cooperation must be welcomed by the countries which claim to be seeking a way to world peace. The members of those organizations are all-important when we come to discuss world affairs. They have spent their lives in the cause of peace, and at some time their work must be rewarded, and good must be seen to triumph over evil. I do not regard myself as an optimist, but I believe that an end must come to suffering, and that the time will come when we “ shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace “.
– In this debate we are called upon to review the work of the Australian delegation at the second session of the United Nations Assembly, and to consider a “ round the world “ summary of international affairs supplemented by a lengthy speech by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). The documents presented by the Minister alone comprise over 150,000 words, compressed into nearly 450 pages of foolscap. That information is as stale as last year’s newspapers. It is a review of recent history, rather than of current events, and the Minister has admitted that fact by delivering a lengthy speech in an attempt to bring it up to date.
Many pages are spent on discussions regarding Palestine, and much paper is devoted bo resolutions dealing with the Palestinian question. Most of that information is of historical value only. The report of the Atomic Energy Commission makes interesting reading, but it is entirely unrelated to current events. World events move so quickly in these days that much of the Minister’s recent speech is now mere history. Since then, for instance, Russia has vetoed Italy’s application for membership of the United Nations organization; Britain has made decisive moves in regard to Trieste; the Communists have inspired a revolution in Colombia, which was designed to wreck the Pan-American Conference; and the position in regard to the control of Berlin has deteriorated. I mention those instances to indicate how difficult it is to keep abreast of international affairs when we are allowed to debate them so infrequently in this House.
Although some criticisms of the United Nations organization, and of Australia’s part in its discussions, will be advanced by me, it must be clearly understood that I have no intention to deprecate unduly the work of the Assembly. There is a definite need for a forum of this nature, where the representatives of nations can get together in an attempt to settle their differences by amicable discussion rather than by cold steel. Any such assembly based on a charter designed to secure world peace must be given the blessing of all peace-loving nations. However, we should not mistake the form for the substance. There is no doubt that the United “Nations organization has far to go. It commenced as a broad stream based on the four fundamental freedoms, but even from a cursory examination of the mass of material placed before us, it appears that the stream has now reached its delta. Its original strength has been dissipated in a morass of countless councils, committees, commissions, sub-committees, conferences, little assemblies, interim committees, ad hoc committees and specialized agencies. Although a number of these subsidiary organizations perform indispensable functions, there are others which appear to be of little use.
It is impossible to traverse even a small part of tlie ground in a debate of this nature. There is need for much more frequent debates on this and kindred subjects, so that current international affairs, and Australia’s participation in world organizations, can be more quickly and more closely scrutinized by the Parliament. The index to the statement on international affairs contains various subdivisions of the United Nations organization, such as the Interim Committee of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, regional economic commissions, the Economic and Employment Commission, the Trusteeship Council, the Atomic Energy Commission, the Commission for Conventional Armaments, the International Refugee Organization, as well as several alphabetical word-puzzles, such as the I.L.O., the F.A.O., the I.T.O., U.N.E.S.C.O., U.N.R.R.A. and I.C.E.F., Benelux, and so on, almost without number. Each of those organizations holds committee and sub-committee meetings, and the difficulty of keeping track of, and co-ordinating, their discussions .is almost insurmountable. However, Unesco has held three specialized meetings. The first conference dealt with some sort of Latin-American educational fundamentals, in which Australia was repre sented by observers. The second conference concerned itself with museums, whilst the third conference discussed the role of philosophers in the modern world. Again, the Economic Commission for Europe, after conducting negotiations with the International Labour Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, secured a satisfactory division of responsibility in the fields of timber and fertilizers. These two examples show how easy it is for an organization to become overspecialized, and for its energies to be dissipated on niattei’3 which are relatively unimportant when compared with the really grave problems confronting the modern’ world in its search for a lasting peace. Any member who cares to visit the basement of the Parliamentary Library will see shelf upon shelf of useless dust-coated reports of the old League of Nations committees. If ever the United Nations goes the way of its predecessor, the League of Nations, the reason will largely be that unpractical academics buried themselves in the preparation of reports, instead of busying themselves with realistic approaches to up-to-the-minute problems. This may be one of the reasons why the best and most practical contributions to future European peace are being undertaken by independent action, particularly in America and Britain. The Minister’s own suggestion for personal meetings of the leaders of the Great Powers is a tacit admission of the deficiencies of the United Nations.
The attitude of Russia towards the United Nations has been the main factor in preventing it from, exercising to the full its function of preserving world peace. The greatest threat to world security to-day is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the history of the post-war years shows only too plainly that Russia has deliberately used the General Assembly, not for the peaceful purposes outlined in the Charter, but as a publicity medium for spreading its own pernicious form of propaganda. “With world revolution as its main objective, the Soviet Union is bent upon driving the United Nations to self-destruction.
Bearing this objective in mind, the Russian motives for participation in the world peace organization become clear. It was to be expected that several examples of Soviet sabotage would be scattered throughout the statement on international affairs. I shall quote a few of them. On page 6 it is said -
The Soviet would not participate in the work of the Political and Security Committee.
On page 20 -
The Soviet vetoed the United States of America resolutions on the Balkan Commission.
On page 22 -
The Soviet Union used its veto to defeat an attempt at solving the Greek question.
On page 29 -
The Soviet group refused to take part on the vote on the Korean question.
On page 49 -
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Government, although a member of the Trusteeship Council, objects to attending any of its meetings.
On page 115 -
The Soviet opposed the Marshall Plan. . . . The Soviet has prevented Italy from joining the United Nations organization.
In fact, on any question where the peaceful settlement of a controversial world problem seemed possible, the Soviet Union and its satellites used every available device to sabotage it. It is clear from the information before us that the Cominform was unashamedly established to supervise world sabotage of the Marshall plan by co-ordinating the organized opposition of Communists throughout all countries.
One of the gravest difficulties confronting the United Nations is that the member nations, except Russia, may unduly weaken themselves in carrying out its decisions, while Russia, by noncooperation and by other means, will take every advantage of these very weaknesses of other nations. When the old League of Nations condemned force as a factor in world affairs, both Britain and the United States of America pushed on with disarmament. As a result, they were much less prepared to enter World War II. The Minister for External Affairs made the dangerously-similar statement, “How can peace be assured if we prepare for another war?”. Unfortunately, Russia constitutes ‘ the greatest danger to world peace to-day,, and a United Nations Assembly which ignores the Soviet Union is worse than useless as a factor for world peace. Nevertheless, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics seizes every opportunity to use the world organization for its cwn purposes. Whilst the Soviet attitude remains as it is, a solution of the dilemma is almost impossible. For instance, there is no doubt that Russian food in the form of grain is distributed in accordance with a political rather than a humanitarian object. It is unfortunately true that the relief of starvation in many European countries through Russian aid was obtained only at the price of embracing communism. We should be wary of unconsciously assisting Russia in its plan for European domination through economic aid. For instance, Australian food to the value of £1,000,000,000 was given recently as additional post-Unrra relief. I should like to be assured that none of this Australian food will he used merely for the purpose of relieving Russian satellites of some of their economic problems, thereby releasing Soviet grain for propaganda purposes elsewhere in Europe. This matter will need careful investigation, because Poland is apparently one of the nations to participate in the distribution of this Australian food.
The Economic Commission for Europe has established a steel sub-committee, which met recently in Geneva. Australia was represented at this meeting by an observer only. The decisions of this committee, coupled with the important concessions on steel recently made by Australia to Czechoslovakia under general trade agreements, might have an important bearing on the future of the Australian steel industry. It is far more important for us to have adequate informed representation at the meetings of this commission, and particularly the steel sub-committee, than to be represented at academic discussions on museums and modern philosophers.
All nations which abide by United Nations decisions automatically lose some of their independence of action ; in other -words, participation by sovereign States the United Nations Assembly must .result. in some measure, in the transference or division of certain of their sovereign rights. I fear that Australia may already be committed to a splitting of its sovereignty with the international organization to a degree which is not generally recognized. At the Second Session of the General Assembly, members were called upon to carry out its recommendations on economic and social matters. The Minister admits that these recommendations gave the Council and the Assembly a more direct influence on the economic policies of national governments, and for that reason they received the full support of the Australian Delegation. I should like to know to what degree these recommendations have mortgaged Australia’s freedom of action by compelling future Australian governments either to abide by the United Nations decisions or to break faith. A non-Labour government here might consider them to be contrary to the economic and social welfare of this nation. They might even be contrary to the political policy upon which the next election will be fought and won. Might not the Economic and Social Council of the General Assembly decide that Australia’s role in world affairs should be that of a purely agricultural country? Would that mean that our great steel industry should be allowed to lapse because steel could in the long run be manufactured more economically in Czechoslovakia?
Again, Australia is represented on a sub-committee on employment, which considers international action in the field of full employment and economic stability. What will be the extent of our obligation under these headings? Will it mean the establishment of a superbureaucracy which will regulate what we shall grow and how much we shall produce in Australia? Will it mean international industrial conscription? Will the redundant, overlapping Commonwealth Employment Offices scattered throughout the States be absorbed as agents within its structure? We have had more than enough of restrictive regulations on a national scale during wartime, and it will be a poor look-out for us if super-economists on the international scale are to be given the regulation and control of our national economic life.
Some of the recommendations already discussed by the economic and social council may be unfortunate from the point of view of the Labour Government. For instance, the International Labour Conference has established the principle that employers and workers should have the inalienable right to establish or join organizations of their own choosing. If that resolution is to be carried out in Australia, it will mean that a man who desires to become, say, a waterside worker, has an inalienable right to join the Waterside Workers Federation. It may be that such a proposition would prevent future strikes by permitting the employment of volunteer labour and that certain problems of dilutees in industry would be solved automatically. However, such proposals, when fully understood by those unions, which jealously guard their right to refuse applications for membership, are bound to be bitterly contested. In fact, they are certain to provide another excuse for one of our frequent waterside strikes. At all these Internationa] Labour Organization conferences the federal Labour party has been very adequately represented, and must be fully aware of the decisions reached.
In view of the repercussions of international decisions on Australian internal political policy, the time seems ripe for the establishment of some effective co-ordination or liaison between the two spheres. In the international field, the Government gives away £4,000,000 for post-Unrra works, £l,000j000 of which is for food for children. At the same time, the same Government pursues an internal policy which keeps millions of pounds of exportable food rotting on the wharfs in Australian ports. The food has been produced, the ships wait at the wharfs to load it, and people on the other side of the world are in dire need of it, but no attempt is made to compel striking waterside workers to load it. Go-slow methods on the wharfs and the illegal banning of Dutch shipping have deprived us of a large percentage of the effective tonnage available, but not a Government finger is lifted to rectify matters.
The Pood and Agricultural Council has a new executive, which was empowered to induce exporting countries to use whatever measures they could to release more grain for export. Australia is one of those exporting countries. Yet the Australian Government’s attitude towards the export of grain sorghum has deprived the world of 60 per cent of Queensland’s potential exportable crop. For months, the Australian Country party has asked the Government for a firm policy on maize and grain sorghum exports, so that this season’s plantings may be regulated. However, Government procrastination has so discouraged farmers that, according to the latest official report from Queensland, only 40 per cent, of last year’s planting has been made this season. For over five weeks recently 16,000 tons of sorghum worth £400,000 and 4,000 tons of maize worth £1.40,000 destined for France awaited settlement of the waterside workers’ strike before shipment. These examples make it appear that our own backyard needs a clean-up before we enter into high-sounding commitments at the United Nations Assembly.
Faced with unprecedented Government spending at home, we should carefully weigh any increased dollar commitments abroad. The United Nations budget for 1947 was 28,000,000 dollars. This year it jumped to 39,000,000 dollars, which was subsequently reduced to approximately 35,000,000 dollars. If the specialized agencies are included, the total will be approximately 60,000,000 dollars. Added to this, the United Nations is pledging its credit to the United States of America to the amount of 65,000,000 dollars for a building loan. As the Minister said, it may be that the expenditure of these vast sums is a wise investment. However, these international conferences have a habit of getting out of hand financially, and I should like to pass an accountant’s eye over the detailed accounts before deciding whether we are getting the most for our money.
As the Australian delegation was opposed to an overall cut in the budget, it may be worth while to examine a few of the matters for which a great sum of money was voted. The first item that comes to mind is the Department of Information of the United Nations. In the original estimates, this department accounted for 5,000,000 dollars out of a total budget of 39,000,000 dollars. Although the item was reduced considerably, there was an allocation of over 3,000,000 dollars for disbursement thi* year. The large amount of money is apparently used mainly for providing “ an unbiassed news service free from national or political influence “. It appears to me that the. .proceedings and decisions of the United Nations are of sufficient news value to be covered by the ordinary established news-collecting agencies. If the Department of Information is as valuable as its counterpart in Australia, then the £A.l,000,0i00 approximately that it costs yearly would be much better expended in providing further relief for Europe’s starving children. It seems to me that Russia could- readily use such an organization to provide world-wide publicity for the periodical frenzied outbursts of propaganda for which its United Nations representatives have become noted.
The next item against which my criticism is levelled is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, commonly known as Unesco. This body as I have mentioned, has dealt with such world-shaking matters as museums and discussions on the role of philosophers in the modern world. The programme for 1948 for this august cultural assembly alone provides that the total amount of payments required from member States, including contributions to the revolving fund, shall not exceed 9,000,000 dollars. In these days of dollar shortages, this large sum could be expended in hard currency for much wiser purposes. In addition to all these items, however, we are committed to the payment of £4,000,000 for Unrra, of which £60,000 will be paid for scholarships to Australian universities. Although our universities are hard-pressed to provide adequate accommodation and lectures for ex-service personnel, the Government, on the 12th January last, decided to spend a further £5,000 a year to provide scholarships for
Indonesians and other south-east Asiatics, who will thus be brought to our universities and educated at the expense of the Australian people. It is my considered view that, world-peace notwithstanding, our first duty here in Australia, is to exmembers of the forces who desire a university education. Only after their requirements are satisfied, should we interest ourselves in providing a free Australian higher education for foreign nationals, including potential Communists. As these coloured scholarship holders will be forever debarred from reentering Australia by the operation of the White Australia policy, the goodwill value of this gesture will be completely nullified. If. the Government can afford to spend thousands of pounds annually for scholarships of this kind, let it endow a few agricultural colleges for the agricultural education of ex-service personnel.
– I ask the right honorable gentleman to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair.
– The statement tabled by the Prime Minister contains a chapter dealing with the very matters to which I am referring.
– I ask the right honorable gentleman to confine his remarks to the subject of external affairs.
– Before the next budget of the United Nations is placed before us, we should be given the opportunity to debate the specific expenditure involved. The Australian nation should not be committed without such consideration to an annual expenditure of nearly 700,000 dollars. We are obliged to meet SO per cent, of our contribution in hard currency, and to pay further large sums in dollars in order to send our numerous representatives and their advisers overseas. In keeping with the democratic ;principle that Parliament should have full control of every penny of public expenditure, the United Nations’ budget should be presented specifically to this House, so that every member could express his views on Australia’s proposed commitments.
Among the basic principles of the United Nations organization are the Four
Freedoms. It is sheer hypocrisy for any nation which does not believe in the Four Freedoms to participate in the organization’s discussions or to make a pretence of carrying out its recommendations. One of the four freedoms is freedom from fear. Since the end of World War II’., the Soviet Union has subjected many European countries to mass fear. Ever since the partition of Poland between the German national socialists and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Stalin has carried on from where Hitler left off. Russia has swallowed up the Balkan nations by the exercise of power politics and has systematically denied fundamental democratic rights to millions of people in Lithuania, Esthonia and other Baltic States. This cold war of nerves has, within the last few weeks, resulted in the liquidation of the Czechoslovakians as a free people. The Russian bear is already sharpening his claws for an attack on the Mediterranean nations. So much for freedom from fear in post-war Europe
As I have already said, the Soviet’s methods of upholding the ideal of freedom from want is to use its grain and other products for the political purpose of pushing its communistic doctrines, which thrive on human misery, suffering and want. The third freedom is freedom of expression. As was to be expected, those who cried loudest at the United Nations Assembly against warmongers and the spreading of war propaganda were the Soviet representatives. Perhaps, they wished thereby to side-track the assembly from examining too closely their own provocative record.
Finally, in respect of the fourth freedom - freedom of religion - the Russian Government has not had clean hands since. 1920. Is it any wonder that we now look askance at the .Soviet’s pledges of good-will?. So long as the Communist doctrine of world revolution remains a fundamental principle of Soviet action, the United Nations will be confronted with a first-class difficulty, which is virtually unsurmountable.. On the other hand, any line-up of nations which neglects to include Russia must inevitably be regarded as a step in preparedness for a third world war.
Australia’s destiny as a nation, and indeed the maintenance of the four freedoms in this land, are even now in process of being determined. They are being determined outside this Parliament in an assembly in which the Opposition, although it represents a great body of the Australian people, has no voice. The least that we can demand, therefore, is that up-to-the-minute material shall be placed before this House much more frequently in the future in order to give to the people’s representatives on this side of the chamber a fuller and freer voice in guiding Government representatives at international discussions.
– Whilst this debate has reached a high plane, some honorable members have introduced party political matters. The right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) has just said that we should not provide scholarships at Australian universities for students from other countries until we have provided facilities for higher education for ex-service personnel. If we are to play our part worthily in the international sphere, we cannot afford to adopt so parochial a view. I recall that on the ship on which I travelled to the United States of America twelve months ago I made the acquaintance of a young veterinary officer who had served in his profession in Canberra and Queensland and was then proceeding to further his studies at the University of Illinois at which he had gained a scholarship tenable for twelve months. If we adopt the view expressed by the right honorable member for Darling Downs and debar students from other countries from taking courses at Australian universities, the outlook will be very poor indeed for young Australians who wish to further their studies abroad. I was surprised to hear him belittle the need for reciprocal cultural relations with other peoples. On my journey I also made the acquaintance of a brilliant medical man from Melbourne, who was then on his way to the United States of America to study the latest developments in plastic surgery. Obviously, the studies abroad of our young scientists and professional men will be of substantial benefit to the Australian people as a whole. However, this subject about which the right honorablemember expressed his views so strongly is mentioned only in a minor item in thestatement tabled by the Prime Minister..
– He named them.
– He named not only Indonesians but also others of” foreign extraction. We should approach, the consideration of our international policy from the viewpoint of itspossible affect on, not only Australia, but also the rest of the world. Some of the remarks of honorable members opposite indicate that they think more of how Australia will be benefited in these matters than of the need tofoster a spirit of international brotherhood and fellowship. I was sorry to hear so much criticism by honorable members opposite of the workabroad of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). They complained’’ because the right honorable gentleman, championed the cause of the smaller nations. Of those honorable members who suggest that he should have acted only in the interests of Australia, I ask:: Is Australia a hig or a small nation? I remind them that many of those nationsare far more important numerically than we are. Some honorable members opposite contend that our foreign policy should be shaped solely to benefit this country.
– We should’ speak with an Empire voice.
– No one is more fervent in his desire that the Empirewill continue to play its part in international affairs than I am, because I believe the British Empire,, and’ theMother Country in particular,, lias donemore than have other nations to- preservethe peace of the world in times of” crisis.. Great Britain has been, and will alwaysbe, a great leader of the peacelovingnations. The British Empire has aglorious record of which it may well beproud. It has greatly enhanced its standing in the eyes of the world’ since theMother Country, recognizing that its overseas dominions and colonies had’ reached a state of development at which they were capable of voicing- effectively their own opinions and of shaping thenown destinies, abandoned the old’ idea of: crown colonies and brought into being what is now known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. I assure the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) that no member of the Labour party is anxious to sever the ties that bind us to the Mother Country and to the Empire generally. Years ago, the press accused the Labour party of adopting an isolationist policy, hut anti-Labour propaganda of that kind diminished with the passing of the years. The Government is accused of acting in a manner detrimental to Australia and to the British Commonwealth of Nations, merely because the Minister for External Affairs has advocated in the councils of the world that we should abandon the old system under which peace conferences were dominated by the victors to the detriment of the vanquished. We are all aware that the indiscriminate imposition of the will of the victor upon the vanquished all too frequently brought about conditions which gave rise to another war. It was to avoid the mistakes of the past that the United Nations was established. After World War I. we had hoped that never again would there be another world war. As time went on, however, it became apparent that the League of Nations had failed to achieve the purposes for which it was established and that it was necessary to replace it by a body more capable of ensuring the peace of the world. Although perhaps, I do not agree in every detail with the views expressed by the Minister for External Affairs, I contend that Australia has never had a more earnest or conscientious Minister than the right honorable gentleman to represent it in world conferences. Some honorable members opposite apparently still subscribe to the view that the Mother Country should decide everything for us. What would be their reaction to the present British Labour Government making decisions affecting Australia without giving us an opportunity to express our views? At the meetings of the organizations -established by the United Nations, the Minister believed that he should submit what he regarded as Australia’s views and he exercised his prerogative of endeavouring to give them effect. The right honorable gentleman has been criticized for championing the cause of the small nations, - the little peoples. It has been suggested that his attitude in this respect has lost us the confidence and support of some of the bigger nations. The little peoples of the world are very much like the little peoples in any community; they usually get the thick end of the stick. Many individuals in the community are prone to worship others who have been successful in business. They believe that any man who has been able to make his way successfully in the commercial world must be of some importance. They look upon the “ little man “ as the one who does not count. Unfortunately, at world conferences in the past, the little countries have been ignored. Let us consider, for instance, a matter to which frequent reference has been made in the course of this debate, the partition of Palestine. We have heard considerable criticism of the failure of the United Nations to bring about peace in Palestine. Certain honorable members have expressed the view, conscientiously I have no doubt, that because the Australian Minister for External Affairs was chairman of the United Nations sub-committee which considered the future of Palestine, Australia is largely responsible for the decision to divide that country. When that decision was made,. the representative of the United Kingdom abstained from voting. If one is to understand thoroughly the Palestine problem, one must appreciate first that, partition became necessary because Great Britain was not prepared to continue to administer that country under mandate. 1 do not blame Great Britain for that. The United Kingdom received a very rawdeal from certain other nations, and particularly from some influential people in the United States of America, in connexion with Palestine. Under the Balfour plan, Palestine was to become the national home of the Jewish race, and responsibility for implementing that plan rested upon the United Kingdom, which had received a mandate over Palestine after World War I. We have heard a great deal about what the Russians arp doing in Europe to-day, but I remind honorable members that the mass migration of European Jews to Palestine was prompted originally by the treatment of members of that race when Hitler’s forces over-ran Poland and other countries during World War II. The desire of the Jews to avoid a repetition of the persecution and massacres of the early days of the war is understandable. They have endeavoured, by every way possible, to reach Palestine, and, in maintaining law and order in that country, the United Kingdom has not received much assistance from other nations. The responsibility for preventing outbreaks of violence has rested almost entirely upon British troops. Migration quotas were imposed to prevent Palestine from becoming completely overrun by Jews, but, instead of assisting the British forces to restrict immigration to these quotas, other nations have facilitated illegal migration. Responsibility for this failure to co-operate with Britain does not” rest with the United Nations, but with the great powers individually. In the circumstances, the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from Palestine is understandable. That decision was made early in 1947. The financial obligations entailed by the administration of the Palestine mandate were too heavy for the United Kingdom, and the continued loss of British troops caused intense feeling at home. The League of Nations ceased to exist in April, 1947, and, as Britain had received the Palestine mandate from the league, the Government of the United Kingdom took the opportunity to announce its determination to relinquish its mandate”. In the following month, the matter of the administration of Palestine came before the United Nations, and a request was made to the United Kingdom to continue its administration until an alternative method could be devised. Originally, the British Government announced that British troops would be withdrawn from Palestine in August, 1948, but in May of last year, or a little later, the United Nations was informed that the date of withdrawal had been advanced to the loth May, 1948. It was at this stage that Australia became concerned with the future of Palestine. The Jews and Arabs were in conflict, and some means of ensuring peaceful administration had to be devised. . The United Nations, set up a committee for this purpose, under the eli airmanship of the Australian delegate, Dr. Evatt. The committee had two alternatives. The first was partition, and the second the creation of a federation. It was thought that, because of the antagonism between Arabs and Jews a federation was impossible. As there were from 1,200,000 to 1,300,000 Arabs, and only approximately 700,000 Jews, and as each state would endeavour to out-do the other, it appeared likely that the Jews would be practically wiped out. The alternative, as I have said, was partition. I have never favoured partition, because I believe that the Arabs are the rightful owners of Palestine, and it is not fair to say to them arbitrarily, “ We intend to divide this country, and give half to the Jews and half to you “. However, that is the position to-day. Just as I queried how the old League of Nations was to keep the peace unless it was provided with a means to do so, so I now wonder how the United Nations is to preserve world peace. Britain stated clearly and unequivocally that if Palestine were partitioned, the British would no longer attempt to administer the country. Britain now proposes to do what some people say Australia should do,, namely, leave other people alone, and mind its own business. Britain has decided to mind its own business, and thepartitioning of Palestine is to be left to the United Nations. Palestine has become what the Balkan Peninsula has always been, an explosive area threatening world peace. Now, after all the talk about the rights of the Jews and theArabs, and after all the efforts of the United Nations to find a solution, we find that the matter is being resolved on thebasis of oil, a commodity which has been the cause of discontent and conflict amongthe nations for years. The Arabs control most of the oil wells in that part of theworld, and they said to the United States,. “If you persist in the partitioning of’ Palestine we will not honour the agreement we made to allow you to work theoil wells in our countries, and run yourpipe lines through our territory”. Wemay talk as much as we like about political theories, but the fact remains that world affairs to-day are very largely influenced by the competition for oil. Weknow what oil means to us in Australia,, and its influence upon future events will be even greater than its influence in the- past. Not long ago the United States of America was one of the greatest suppliers of oil in the world ; now it produces barely enough for its own purposes. We may rest assured that any proposal that is contrary to the interests of one of the big powers will be vetoed when it comes before the United Nations. We know that the United Nations organization would never have come into being had the veto provision not been accepted, but it has now become evident that this very provision is preventing the organ ization from operating successfully.
Sitting suspended from 6 to8 p.m.
– Most members of the Opposition who have taken part in this debate have referred extensively to Russia’s attitude to the European peace treaties. I agree with those who contend that one nation should not be in a position to obstruct other nations merely by exercising the power of the veto. The situation arising from Russia’s conduct in Germany to-day will greatly impair the efficiency of the United Nations in carrying out the work which it was created to do. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) pointed out, the United Nations was not expected to step in and frame the peace treaties in Europe. Many honorable members opposite have used this fact as an argument against the United Nations, but they have not suggested any means of replacing the organization which they condemn. Even the Leader of the Opposition himself, though his interesting address gave a clear statement of the international situation, did not indicate any way to improve upon the organization of the United Nations. The fact is that if we wipe the slate, so to speak, and disband the United Nations we shall return to the bad old days of power politics. Honorable members opposite originally favoured the conclusion of peace treaties outside the frame-work of the United Nations, and their condemnation of that body in this debate is inconsistent and unfair. Russia’s attitude towards the other major powers in Germany is evidence not of the effect of the United Nations’ policy, but of the operation of power politics, with each nation standing alone and working for its own interests. Under this system of international relationships, any one of the big nations can play havoc with the peace.
I am entirely in disagreement with Russia’s policy of extending its sphere of influence into neighbouring European countries. Russia’s action in using power and the threat of power in order to get what itcalls “ safety and security for the future “ is not the action of a nation that wants peace. We all await anxiously the outcome of the general elections in Italy next Sunday. Events of the next few days in that country will have a significant bearing upon the future welfare of the world. Honorable members who criticize the policy of allowing small nations to have an effective voice in the affairs of the United Nations should examine the situation in Italy. The United Nations was not responsible for the Italian peace treaty. That pact was practically determined by the United States of America, Great Britain, Russia and France. [Extension of time granted.] Although this Parliament ratified the Italian peace treaty only recently, those four major powers are already in disagreement over its terms. Trieste was to be taken away from Italy and placed under the administration of a governor appointed by the four big nations. Yet, with the ink scarcely dry on the treaty, trouble has arisen between those nations over that provision. The newspapers this morning reported that Russia had rejected the note in which the United States of America, Great Britain and France proposed the return of Trieste to Italy. Russia wants Yugoslavia to have Trieste. This is leading to a state of affairs in which the nation having the strongest army will hold sway. I very much regret the rift that has occurred because the spirit of the United Nations Charter did not enter into the peace conferences of the four great powers.
We have heard a lot of talk about the Communists in this debate, and honorable members opposite have complained that the Minister for External Affairs did not condemn communism in his speech. They imply that we on this side of the House take a very lenient view of the Communist party’s methods of doing things.
– And that is true.
– My reply to that is that the Australian Labour party has a definite rule providing that no Communist can be a member of the party. Although we give practical effect 10 that rule members of the Opposition repeatedly state that we are not loyal, and that we are not opposed to communism. They must realize that we recognize the danger of communism. In Italy to-day there is widespread fear that the Communists may gain a majority at the forthcoming election. According to press reports, the Prime Minister of Italy declared that even if the Communists gain a majority, he will continue to govern. Communism is an ideology. In my opinion, some ideologies may be most beneficial and helpful at times. A person who advocates an almost unattainable ideal should be prepared to strive for it for many years, and should not attempt to leap all obstacles in a few moments in order to achieve the goal. When an ideology causes hatred and enmity, as communism has done, the peoples of the world will not benefit from it. But the carrying of resolutions condemning the Communist party, and declaring it an illegal organization, are not effective methods of combating communism. The only practical procedure, in my opinion, is the adoption of a foreign policy which will give to all the peoples of the world a measure of justice, and a share in all the goods which are produced. Some people regard members of the Labour movement as persons who have a “ bit of a kink and think that we lose all sense of proportion. The truth is that most members of the Labour movement have come from among the people who have everything to gain by the maintenance of a reasonable standard of society, and an equitable distribution of production. Coming as we do from that section of the community, we may at times be a little keen in expounding our views. Sometimes our submissions are misrepresented. For example, words uttered by the Prime Minister a few days ago were distorted. .Some of his critics pretended that he said that he had become the leader of this country because he had a sense of bitterness. All that he meant to convey was that an injustice which he had suffered many years ago had caused him to take an interest in politics and, in doing so, he gradually climbed the ladder of success, until he became the leader of a great political party. Unfortunately, some members of the Opposition endeavoured to misconstrue that statement, and convey the impression that he had entered politics in a spirit of bitterness.
– How does the honorable member relate his remarks to international affairs?
– I am able to digress a little, as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) often, does, and then return to the subject without being called to order by the Chair. Members of the Opposition have also attacked the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt. They are attempting to belittle his policy, and particularly his advocacy of the rights of the smaller nations. Honorable members opposite deplore the fact that Australia’s spokesman, at meetings of the United Nations, adopted a humanitarian outlook, and championed those whom I term the “ little peoples of the world “. The efforts of the right honorable gentleman have been acclaimed, not by members of the Opposition, many of whom would not be known if they were not members of the Parliament, but by leading world figures. The Minister has made his mark in the United Nations because he “ stood up “ for the rights of the “ little peoples of the world “.
Criticisms of the United Nations are largely without foundation. The organization has the opportunity to attain a most desirable ideal, although many obstacles must be overcome before the objective can be gained. Honorable members opposite persist in belittling the United Nations. Instead of trying to cure the ills or evils which may have developed in this organization, they appear to wish that it would collapse and be replaced by the “ old order “, in which two or three of the major powers formed a group and virtually governed the world. The United Nations provides an opportunity for the representatives of many countries to debate and decide policies which will be to the advantage of the whole world. Honorable members opposite also say that they do not want war, yet in the same breath they inferentially state, “If the Soviet continues to act aggressively, let us have a box-on with the Russians and put them back in their place “. Honorable members opposite seem to favour that policy, whilst insisting that they do not want war. If another war occurs, those who will fight the battles and suffer will be the “ little peoples “ whom honorable members opposite treat with so much contempt. I feel strongly about the attitude of Opposition members to foreign affairs. Instead of being hypercritical, they should endeavour to rectify any weaknesses in the United Nations, and, by so doing, they would render a service to humanity. Whilst I do not agree with every detail in the policy of the Minister for External Affairs, I recognize that he has succeeded in impressing other delegates at meetings of the United Nations with the true feelings of the great majority of the Australian people.
.- This important debate on international affairs is taking place under the shadow of tremendous and fast-moving events, which may either project the world into another conflict, or spend themselves in the course of time. But no one can deny that they are sufficient in character to arouse the attention of this House, and compel us to give our views, to the best of our ability, on how peace is to be attained and maintained. A debate on foreign policy should commence with a statement, of the Government’s policy regarding world events; and that does not mean a mere recitation of what has taken place in the international sphere during the last six or eight months. If honorable members examine the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), they will notice that most of the events which he recorded are already well known. Before asking us to direct our attention intelligently to international issues, the Government should make a proper statement of its foreign policy to the House. What does that mean? It means at least, that there should be a consideration of the basic causes of the present unrest in the world, and the causes which make for war. When those causes have been determined, the next inquiry should be, how can those causes be either sterilized or obli terated? If one approaches the problem on those lines - and that seems to me the proper way to approach it - one is convinced after reading the statement by the Minister for External Affairs that it contains no inkling of the Government’s foreign policy in these days of great events. I have formed that view after a purely objective reading of the statement and without any desire to be captious. Ihave read both volumes of the document prepared by the Minister. Volume 1 contains a statement of the events which have occurred in various parts of the world in recent times, and volume 2 contains the text of various speeches and motions and amendments which were moved ; but nowhere in those volumes is there any indication that the Minister, who was speaking on behalf of the Government, had either directed himself to an understanding of current world events or expressed any view as to the causes underlying them. Nowhere is there to he found any realization of the position of Australia, of the perils which confront it, or of the objectives sought to be obtained by the . Government. Indeed, on reading the statement one gets the impression that the Minister is concerned more with the paraphernalia of democracy than its substance. We visualize a very busy Minister rushing from committee to committee, moving amendment after amendment, but without real notion- of where he is going. I do not say that in any carping spirit, and because an honorable member criticizes the Minister for External Affairs, or the policy which he is pursuing, it should not be regarded necessarily as a political attack. The fact is that to-day events are occurring in countries which lie between east Germany and the Mediterranean, in Italy and Greece, in Trieste, in countries bordering on the Baltic, in the Middle East, in Manchuria, China and Korea, and even in Columbia, any one of which could cause an explosion which would rent the world.
Confronted by those facts we are entitled to expect a statement of the basic causes of world unrest. Is it to be imagined that those manifestations of unrest spring from causes which are entirely dissociated? Is it not plain to every honorable member that all those events have’ their explanation in some fundamental cause? It should be the purpose of those who ought to be framing our foreign policy to discover the causes and then to give a lead to Parliament and to the people as to what attitude should be adopted. I have said that neither in the statement on international affairs prepared by the Minister nor in his speech is there any real attempt to reveal the causes of the present unrest ; but running throughout that statement, like a red thread, is a cautious attempt to avoid any repercussions on himself or on the Government by refraining from any criticism of Russia. The Government has revealed a weakness by its failure to face up to its responsibility which indicates that it is following out a policy of appeasement similar to that of the years before 1939 which brought the allied countries to disaster. “When one examines the Government’s policy, and the views expressed by its members from time to time, one finds that they bear a striking resemblance to the attitude of mind revealed by members of the Australian Labour party before the war. Then, as now, they entertained the idea that if one sought peace one would obtain it.
Criticism of the Government’s attitude has come from many sources, and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr, Beazley), who made a very good contribution to the debate, spoiled the effect of his speech when he sneered at members of the Opposition because they take a realistic view of world affairs. Of course, the realistic viewpoint is the attitude of those who have their feet on the ground. To adopt an idealistic approach is all very fine, but such an approach will accomplish nothing unless it is linked with reality. For that reason honorable members on this side of the House have criticized the Government for its failure to evolve a sound foreign policy. The need arises, therefore, for us to consider what are the basic causes of the present situation, and to determine how they can be remedied. But before I examine the causes of the present situation, I propose to examine another statement made by the Minister which, taken in conjunction with other statements which he has made in this House, indicate that he wants to “ have something on every horse “. He says, “ We support the United Nations “ ; then he says, “ We also stand for a strong British Commonwealth”; and at another time he says, “ We stand for the closest collaboration with the United States “. When one considers those conflicting statements and recollects what has been said by other Government spokesmen on various occasions, it will be realized that the Government’s policy is neither the more or less than placing of all eggs in the basket of the United Nations. The Government has claimed that it stands for a strong British Empire, but where is the evidence that it is directing its energies to the strengthening of that Empire?
One of the most disturbing features of the debate was the contribution made by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman), who after asserting that the two major powers to-day are Russia and the United States of America, contended that, because of the tremendous resources of those two nations, there was no alternative for the British Commonwealth if it did not. wholly rely upon the United Nations, than to become a satellite to one or another of these great powers. Expressed simply, what he meant to convey was that all that we can do is, on the one hand, to tack on behind either the United States of America or Russia, or, on the other hand, to place all our faith in the United Nations. In fact, he ultimately expressed that proposition, which I shall now examine. He said quite clearly that the only practical way to achieve permanent peace was to devote all our energies to the support of the United Nations. A senior Minister asserts that the Government’s policy is directed to building up the United Nations. But what is to become of the political contribution - because that is all it is - of the Minister for External Affairs, who said, “ We also stand for a strong British Commonwealth”? It seems to me that the attitude of the Government implies ultimately only one proposition, which is, that there is no future for the British Empire except as a satellite power of Russia or of the United States of
America. For my part I reject out of hand that suggestion. I believe with intensity that if, ‘even at this stage of our history, we realized the tremendous resources of the British people throughout the world we could achieve something, of lasting importance in the cause of peace. I remind honorable members of the statement of the former Prime Minister, the late Mr. Curtin, who sard, ‘” If you have firmly fixed in your mind at all times that speaking alone you speak with a weak voice in the councils of the world, but you are heard trumpet-tongued if you speak through the alliance potential of the British Commonwealth “. I often wonder why the Government has departed from the sound policy to which the late Mr. Curtin gave effect when he was Prime Minister. Yet. it is clear from the statement of the Minister for Defence that the Government’s only approach to the problem of present-day international affairs is one which does not take into account the resources and power of the British Commonwealth, and one which does not assign to it any really independent role for the good of the world, I believe that neither the Russian nor the American way of life necessarily coincides with ours. I believe that so firmly that I am convinced that the Government is failing in its duty to Australia, which is a British democracy, if it follows the course laid down by the Minister for External Affairs. That course was outlined even more clearly by the Minister for Defence, who said-, “ There is no independent role for the British Empire-: we must choose between being a satellite of one of the great powers or relying on international collaboration through the United Nations.” As I have said, before putting all our’ eggs into one basket and staking our future solely upon the success of the United Nations, we should consider the possibilities of that organization proving ultimately to be an effective instrument for the maintenance of peace. I believe that we should direct out attention to a consideration of the basic causes of world unrest. The outstanding features of the present situation are, first, the mammoth contest for power that is now rending the world ; secondly, the delayed economic recovery and the present economic chaos in two continents; and thirdly, social disorder in many parts of the world Consequent partly upon the direct effect’s of the war, partly upon the emergence of new nationalistic movements, and partly upon new political forces and new technique in the application of political forces.
If, having examined the matter, we come to the conclusion that the basic cause of these problems is Russia, we are immediately told that We are warmongers. That phrase has a familiar ring. It is what was said by the Labour party in 1938 and 1939, when it condemned Mr. Churchill out of hand because he pointed to the nature of coming ‘events in Europe and said that war would tome about. No honorable member of this House should accuse another 6f desiring war. We all are Australians, and I suppose that most of us have families. It does not need the special knowledge of the Minister for Defence to visualize the results of another conflict; all of us can do so only too well. It is, however, useless merely to hope that the future will bring peace to us; we must make some real attempt to achieve it.
It is necessary to consider why it is that to-day one can see an attempt being made by a major nation to shatter the peace of the world and to make collaboration with the democratic countries impossible. Having examined world events, is there any one who can say that the trouble in the world to-day has been caused by Great Britain or by any member of the British Commonwealth of Nations? That proposition has only to be stated to be rejected. Despite the criticisms that may be levelled regarding the sudden changes in American policy, d©es any one in his senses believe that the United States seeks world dominion or another conflict?’ During the last two years leaders of Great Britain and the United States in Mr. Bevin and Mr. Marshall - men with entirely different backgrounds-have said repeatedly that they have been utterly unable to reach any basis for collaboration with Russia. To-day the microcosm in the macrocosm is Berlin. When I was there I realized how utterly futile were the attempts of the democratic nations to find some means of working with Russia. I say, therefore, that when we come to consider the basic causes of our present troubles we find them in Russia, and they have a history going back far into the past. It may be said that the modern starting point was in 1917, when the Russian revolution occurred. The consequences of that event for the rest of the world, for good or for ill - I think for ill - were tremendous and far-reaching. That revolution started a conflagration which has not yet been extinguished and which has spread to various parts of the world. Indeed, small fires have been lit in every country.
A comparison of Russia’s frontiers to-day with those of 1917 shows that they have extended hundreds of miles to the west and that the Soviet is now a European nation. Its desire, which has not changed from the time of the Czars, it to reach the Mediterranean and ultimately the Atlantic and the Pacific. There is in Berlin, on a minor scale, in Korea, on a major scale, and in every part of Europe, a refusal by Russia to participate in the reconstruction of a broken world. An examination shows how clearly that refusal rests upon Communist doctrine. In 1915, before the revolution took place, in a document called, “ Concerning the Slogans of the United States of Europe “, Lenin used words which provide, I think, the key to subsequent events. He said -
Unevenness of economic and political development is the inflexible law of capitalism. It follows from this that the victory of socialism may come originally in a few capitalist countries, or even in a single capitalist country.
It came first of all in Soviet Russia. Lenin added -
The victorious proletariat of that country, having expropriated the capitalists, and having organized socialist production at home, would rise against the remaining capitalist countries in the world, drawing to itself in the process the oppressed classes of other countries.
It is apparent from that statement of Communist principle that Russian policy has been based upon the teachings of Lenin, which are the Bible of all Communists. The revolutionists succeeded in consolidating their position inside the boundaries of Russia and, by the exercise of the methods of a police state and of a dictatorship, crushed all opposition. When they could no longer tell the people of Russia that there was any danger to their system from within, the story was that the danger came from without - that the capitalist world was “ ganging up “ against them. That fits in very well with the policy which has since been pursued. Can it be said, as the Minister for External Affairs apparently believes, that all that has been done by the Russians since then has been done purely for their own defence? I do not know whether the right honorable gentleman has yet abandoned that fantastic conception, but if he has he has not said so. Does not the policy of the Russians clearly indicate, as Lenin’s statement shows, that the purpose is ultimately to destroy capitalism throughout the world because,, on their own concept, unless they do so, their system can never he said to be safe? Surely that is the key to what is taking place to-day.
There are three concepts arising from that, and they are in the second stage now. These three concepts are, I believe, of importance in evaluating the attitude of Russia to-day. The first concept is the basic antagonism between the capitalist and the socialist world, which is to be found in all the teaching of communism. It is said that there is no room in th*> world for two rival systems of economy, one capitalist and the other socialist. The important lesson to be learned from it is that, whatever Russia does and however it acts, it acts only upon the basis that there can be no reconciliation between the two systems. The claim is sometimes made that Russia shows a real desire to collaborate, but we may be certain that whatever it may appear to do and whatever technique it adopts from time to time, it will change its line only to suit its immediate convenience, and that always behind its actions is the concept from which it never departs that there can be no reconciliation between it and the so-called capitalistic world. So when Russia’s delegates seek with the delegates of the other members of the United Nations to discuss, apparently objectively, so the story goes, the problems of the world, we may be certain that they, taking a long view, do not believe that there can be harmonious co-operation between the western democracies and their own nation. The second concept, which is allied to the first, is that the Kremlin is infallible. There goes with that the fact that iron discipline is imposed not only inside the boundaries of Russia, but also upon every one of its representatives in the capitalistic countries and at the United Nations. The third concept is that for technical purposes any particular thesis may at any time be put forward which is useful to the cause of Russia at that time. So, when one reads the statement of the Minister for External Affairs that sometimes Russia appears to be cooperating and that at other times it is in opposition, one realizes that those conflicting attitudes are part and parcel of its manoeuvres and tactics, as they were with Hitler who, before war broke out in 1939, would make a treaty of peace and. speak about having no more territorial ambitions and use that treaty immediately as a jumping-off place for further penetration or aggression. The technique has not altered, it has improved. It explains why Russia was against Hitler in the period before 1939, for Hitler from 1939 to 1941, when we alone were fighting the forces of aggression in the world, and for the Allies from 1941 to 1945 and has been against the Allies since then. Russia has uo consistency in the matter of its friends, Its friends are only friends of convenience. At all times, the Russian leaders have before them the pursuit of their objective, but they are not in a hurry. I am not one who believes that Russia wants war. On the contrary, I am convinced that the iron curtain round it is primarily for the purpose of concealing its internal weaknesses. It is struggling to increase its domestic industrial potential. It believes, I think with reason, that if it applies a deliberate and firm policy for a period of years, it will be able to penetrate the democracies and destroy their economies one by one.
If the three concepts that I have mentioned are applied, the pattern of world events is revealed. They explain why Russia acts in certain ways. When the fighting ended Russia, had it so desired, could have sought the co-operation of the western democracies in the reconstruction of Europe, but it made no attempt to do so. .Since 1945 Europe has been divided into two camps, one east and one west of Czechoslovakia. There can be no doubt whatever that that division was deliberately brought about by Russia in pursuit of its objective. Indeed, to-day we see the world broken in two. We see Europe devastated and the people of eastern Europe in a desperate plight. We know only too well if the barriers were broken down the nations of western Europe would pour into the nations of Eastern Europe the benefits of their production, but that is not to be done because Russia pursues with undivided intensity its one objective. It wants no comparison made available for its peoples between the fruits of its own system and those of the western democracies. It could ‘be asked then what policy ought we to apply. Is is to be the policy of placing all our eggs in the one basket of the United Nations? Do we believe that the United Nations is so effective that, throwing aside all other means, we should concentrate solely on it as the only means of ensuring peace? How can the United Nations be effective unless every nation acts in concert? Yet it is said that we must follow the course of the United Nations to the exclusion of any other course. The Minister for Defence clearly said that it was the sole means of ensuring peace. But the Minister for External Affairs said, “ We pursue justice “. There is no such thing as abstract justice except in a philosophical sense in this world of conflicting national interests. As there cannot be abstract justice in domestic affairs unless a police power exists to enforce it, so there cannot be abstract justice in international affairs, except in a philosophical sense, unless a police power exists to enforce it. Let me examine where we stand. One finds in the statement of the Minister for External Affairs not only no real policy but also gross inconsistency in the pursuit of justice. Palestine is to be artificially divided. There is to be no question of self-determination by its inhabitants. But the right honorable gentleman took the stand that there must be selfdetermination in Korea. On the one hand, he says that he warned the General Assembly that whatever was done in Korea would be futile unless it .could be enforced, but, apparently, on the other hand, he made no such prediction about Palestine, The Minister for External Affairs referred to the “ Communist grab of power “ in Czechoslovakia, but the Minister for Externa] Territories (Mr. Ward), who mode an astonishing defence of the Russian policy, quite inconsistent with the approach of other members of the Labour party and yith some of the statements of .the Minister for . External Affairs, decried the fact that Russia’s effort to secure -the co-operation of the other nations wa6 not being fully publicized. He said -that there was only an internal change in Czechoslovakia. Yet the Minister for External Affairs described that change as “a Communist grab of power “. Where is the foreign policy of the Government in these clr- cum stances?
So J. say that, if my premises are correct^ it would .he better for this nation not to Place all its confidence in the United Nations to achieve peace. Has it achieved peace? So far, it certainly has npt. That may be said to be an unfair comment because the organization has npt lived long enough to achieve peace. I fear, however, that it will be like the League qf Nations. Attention is directed to the small matters in which it succeeded, but nothing is ever said in praise qf its efforts in its principle purpose of maintaining peace. Unless Russia is prepared to collaborate, the United Nations cannot safeguard the peace. Honorable gentleman opposite from time to time say that we must never again rely upon the principle of balance of power. But where are we to-day if Russia continues to stand out? What else is left but the balance of power? If Russia comes in, the problem solves itself. If it does not, there is no alternative but :to rely upon what I believe to be correctly termed a balance of power and a seeking to curb any aggressor nation by ensuring that the forces allied against it are sufficiently strong to make it restrain its activities. Whilst I believe, that we should pursue the ideals of the United Nations, we cannot base all our confidence on that body as .being the sole
Ifr. Spender. instrument of our foreign policy to achieve peace.
Government supporters constantly ask honorable members on this side of the chamber w&at we suggest. What I first suggest is the rehabilitation of the economy of western Europe, upon which depends, in turn, the survival of Great Britain and our own survival. But the Minister’s statement does not contain one word about that. Are we to understand that no cables have passed between Great Britain and Australia upon this vital matter? Of course, cables have passed between the two governments; and the rumour - il is about time it was scotched if it be false-has been heard th* Australia has made it clear that it is not willing to become involved in anything in Europe. What is the Governments policy in respect of the rehabilitation of western Europe? In that area are 200;000;000 people, among the best people in -the world, -speaking in terms of civilization, who in their small separate parts are incapable of resisting .the tremendous ever westward pressure being brought by Russia. Great Britain and America, realizing that fact, have been doing their utmost to create a strong Europe. I venture to -say that if adequate aid is not given to Europe and continued in sufficient volume to enable Europe, ultimately, to stand on its own feet, and if, during -that period, there is not maintained in .western Europe sufficient forces, particularly American forces, then as soon as the pressure is relaxed Russia will drive right through to the Atlantic, with incalculable consequences to the rest of the would. Therefore, it is with amazement that I find that in this debate not one word has been said by any responsible Minister as to what is the Government’s policy in that respect, and as to what extent the matter has been discussed with Great Britain.
That is the most urgent of all the immediate problems confronting us. Its importance is threefold. It involves, first, the maintenance of democracy in western Europe; secondly, the provision of an economic spring-board from which to penetrate the iron curtain and. establish that in a free democratic system higher standards of living and personal freedom exist than in Soviet Russia; and, thirdly, the provision of a buffer against- Russian penetration to the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. [Extension of time granted.] This subject is of such importance that I hope that bef ore the debate concludes we shall hear more upon it from spokesmen for the Government. In particular, I should like to know what cables, if any, have passed between it and the British Government with respect to the reconstruction of western Europe and to what extent has the Australian Government indicated any policy on the matter.
Next, I suggest that the British Commonwealth should to the degree to which it is possible be developed as one strategic entity. I know very well that that will not fit in with the concepts of the Minister for External Affairs. It means, rather, the submerging of self sometimes into the greater entity and that one does not necessarily play the major role at any particular time. That policy would also develop upon a mature plan the resources of the British Commonwealth of Nations and enable it to present a united front to the world. Nothing suits the Russian technique more than divisions between the democracies, particularly the democracies which make up the British Commonwealth of Nations. The late Mr. Curtin, when he was Prime Minister, said there should be some machinery for consultation between the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I believe that if that be not capable of accomplishment completely because, perhaps, South Africa or Canada may for reasons of their own wish to stand out for the time being, that is no reason why the remaining members of the British Commonwealth of Nations should not get together as in doing so they would not be doing anything inimical to the interests of any part of the Empire. Therefore, I am definitely in conflict with the views expressed by the Minister for Defence. In that respect I hope that we shall have some statement from the Prime Minister as to where he stands.
Finally, on a wider and more far-flung scale, foreign policy should involve action by the democracies to restrain Russian expansion during the next ten or fifteen years if peace can be maintained for that period. I realize that the implementation of that policy presents tremendous difficulties; but the important thing is to have an objective. Are we, because of fear that conflict may result - a fear which Russia plays on almost constantly - to say that we must never, at any timeor at any point, seek to restrain Russian expansion? That was exactly why Europefell before Hitler: and it will be exactly the same again if we are afraid to seek to restrain Russia in expansion and penetration by every means in our power. But that involves something more than meetings of the United Nations. Before that step is taken, a final effort should be made to try to bring Russia into the family of nations. Those efforts have not succeeded up to date, and,, probably, will not succeed at all; but: should Russia, after every effort has been exhausted, remain recalcitrant, the democracies must find ways and means of protecting their own interests in both Europe and the Pacific.
Before concluding, I shall refer to the observations made by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). I do not want it to be assumed that I support his views. Indeed, I believe that they are completely isolationist, and concerned solely with the isolationist policy which was characteristic of the Australian Labour party in its very early days. However, to-day that party has gone to the other extreme of extreme nationalism. When the honorable member for Reid says that we must act in the interests of Australia I support him, but when he says that we must never poke our nose into any other country’s business, I cannot imagine a more suicidal policy. To-day, the issues eonfronting us involve very grave consequences for humanity. One does not require very’ much knowledge to know where another conflict would lead, or to visualize the devastation to civilization which would result from it. Honorable members should face the facts. We should not fail to do so because it might be said that we are war-mongers or are merely attacking the Minister for External Affairs. We must be actuated by the high purpose of dealing with foreign affairs as we see them; and we must express our views as clearly and as accurately as we can. It may well be that the world may experience a. period of unsettled peace for the next ten or fifteen years, but all of us must be aware of the explosive possibilities throughout the world which could touch off a conflict at any time. In such circumstances, therefore, we in this country, and the peoples of the British Commonwealth of Nations as a whole, must turn to our own defence as the prime instrument of our security for peace. Whatever may be our views, we should approach these questions in a desire to serve our country and to preserve peace for humanity.
.- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) marred an otherwise brilliant speech by his overemphasis of .what he regarded as the misdeeds of the Minister for External Affairs. From a very careful survey of the documents it appears to me that the statement prepared by the right honorable gentleman is a rather sober report. As the honorable member said, if it is a report on the future of the United Nations, it is a gloomy one indeed. Before I turn to what will be my analysis of that report, let me say in defence of the Minister that it is a factual and well-reasoned report; indeed it has been so described by members of the Opposition. The criticism levelled by the honorable member for Warringah at the Minister is rather extraordinary in view of the fact that when the honorable member was himself a vital force in the government of this country our international affairs policy came to us through the air mail. We had then no planned policy; we merely followed slavishly what was being done in Great Britain. That was not satisfactory either to Great Britain or to ourselves. Another point raised during the debate, which from the Opposition side has been well mannered and orderly - particularly the contribution of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) - was that made by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) who offered as a solution of our problems the suggestion that we protect ourselves and assure our security, His words rang a little bell in my memory. I remembered that before I came into this House the honorable member was for a very brief time - proving there is a special Providence watching over this country - Minister for’ Home Security in the second Menzies Government. Since I heard him make that remark last night I have been trying to discover what he did during his term of office to ensure the security of Australia. I have ascertained that he was unable to build even one air raid shelter.
– That is a lie.
– When we are involved in solemn discussions as to the future, not of ourselves or of the Parliament, but of the human race generally, we need to be careful of our critics and advisors. We can at once dismiss the honorable member for New England, whose contribution to our security was very small indeed. The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) made a speech yesterday that was the highlight of the debate and a delight to hear. She described dialectic materialism in a masterly way. I am proud to be able to inform the House that the honorable member learned how to do that when she was a member of the Labour party. It was the training she received as a member of the Labour party over a number of years that enabled her to deliver such a speech.
– The honorable member himself does not appear to have learned the art very well.
– It depends on how long one studies these things. It is possible that I may get a few hints from honorable members opposite. The continual battering of the Minister for External Affairs makes no real contribution to the debate. The Minister’s statement is a serious one indeed. I agree with much that has been said from the Opposition side as well as on this side of the House. It is disheartening to discover from the Minister’s statement that we are not making much progress in the establishment of peace-making machinery, which was the purpose for which the United Nations organization was formed. If one might judge entirely from what one reads in the statement, peace in Europe is as far off as ever. If we are honestly searching for the cause, we can name
Russia as one of the reasons for intransigence and non-co-operation. We could name other reasons too, including the veto. If we go back to first causes, we must remember that bad treaties were made at the conclusion of World War I. and also during World War II., and more bad treaties will be made if we are not courageous enough to oppose the tendency to go back to holeandcorner diplomacy. What is happening in the United Nations finds its parallel in the history of the League of Nations. The League of Nations failed solely because the United States of America was not an active participant. Whilst its small organizations, such as the International Labour Organization and some other bodies did good work, the League of Nations failed because there was no complete co-operation on the part of the great nations of the world to achieve the purpose for which it was established, which was the maintenance of world peace. New systems bring new techniques. It was considered by the United States of America that because of its policy in those days of not taking any active part in settling the troubles of Europe, it could remain out of the League of Nations. Whilst Russia has joined the United Nations it is following the same course. In short, America remained outside the league, but was unprovocative; Russia joined the United Nations and became obstructive. If we are honest with ourselves we must seek the causes of these disagreements no matter where they may lie. We must place responsibility on Russia because of its lack of co-operation and because of its insistence on the use of the veto. The honorable member for Warringah has accused the Minister for External Affairs of having no courage, and of not pursuing a settled policy in his fight against the veto. The right honorable gentleman waged a veritable dog fight against the veto. Indeed, honorable members opposite have complained that he has fought too vigorously, and that at times the voice of Australia has been out of all proportion to our importance and prestige in the world. The veto is a blot on the record of the United Nations. The pattern is clear in perfect, crystallised form. While matters are in the talking stages, the Russians are with us; when a decision is to be made Madame La Guillotine is rolled in and down comes the knife, which cuts off any possibility of decisions. The Russians walk out. How little the nations can achieve in these circumstances must be apparent to all honorable members. Deliberations are slowed down and even minor decisions are delayed. The whole atmosphere generates acrimony and disputation. For that reason the veto engenders ill feeling among the smaller nations and prevents agreement even between those which may exercise it. Thus, the prospects of securing an enduring world peace to-day are much less bright than they were even after Versailles, when a victor’s peace was imposed upon the peoples of the world. The. position is more dangerous since we must look also for causes other than Russia’s unwillingness to co-operate with us. We must look at the mistakes we ourselves have made. One of these is the Yalta Agreement. At Yalta, where the British Empire was represented by Mr. Churchill, and the United States of America by the late President Roosevelt, decisions were made which, in my humble opinion, have given rise to the present misunderstandings and mistrust. At Yalta concessions were given to the Russians which practically amounted .to the conclusion of a separate peace. No world organization could resolve the difficulties that have been created as the result of the Yalta Agreement. Russia gained, in effect, the Baltic States before any peace was made with them. The agreement established for all time an extension of the sphere of Russian influence in the Balkans and other European states adjacent to the western powers. Under that agreement we were to receive Russian assistance against Japan, hut the war concluded dramatically about 24 hours after the agreement became effective. Even worse than the infamy of Versailles was the stupidity of Yalta. Had we, before the conclusion of the war, shown Russia that we were ready to bargain realistically, much of the trouble that has occurred since could have been avoided. But even Homer nods, and while we can be critical of Yalta to-day, with all the facts before us, we can sympathize with the anxieties of the democratic leaders trying to buy time in Europe for the final offensive. It is obvious, however, that the High Command of Britain -and the United States of America always considered that the war in Europe must be won first. Then Japan could be conquered. General MacArthur, however, believed that there could and should be a contemporaneous conclusion - and he was right. At Yalta Russia got much the best of the bargain. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) drew attention to the fact that Russian policy is inflexible. I, like other members of this House, have been trying to find the cause of Russia’s absolute opposition to democracy in any shape or form. Can it be that things have gone wrong inside Russia itself and the Russians are finding it necessary to proclaim, in some way, the glorious emancipation of the proletariat? Have the Russians, because of their inability to succeed with five-year plan after five-year plan, or because of the devastating war destruction - they were valiant allies up to and including the battle of Stalingrad, and later in the sweep back to the heart of Germany itself - been so impoverished in. their economy that they must look for some other lift to the hearts of their people? Have they fallen into the trap of militarism? Is this hatred, fear, a vital partof their foreign policy? Is the “ iron curtain “ nothing but a smokescreen ? On the answer to these questions depends the peace of the world. The pattern of the United Nations to-day, with its frustrations, and the stupidity of the veto, is something like the circumstances leading to Versailles. The signing of the Treaty of Versailles was tantamount to saying, “ We condemn the children born to-day to be killed in action “, and, indeed, as it turned out, the twenty-first birthday of many of them was also their Wood baptism. The perpetuation in the United Nations of some of the injustices of the earlier ill-considered peace treaties is one of the main reasons why the United Nations organization is not working effectively to-day. It is difficult to understand the reversion in Russia to-day to oldfashioned imperialism. Hazarding a guess at the reason for this, I suggest that it has been necessary to offer some substitute for blood, sweat and tears. What is happening to-day behind the “ iron curtain “ - I detest the phrase because, although it is apt and was used by Mr. Winston Churchill, it was originated by Dr. Goebbels? Behind the so-called “ iron curtain “ there is activity at which we can only guess. But we can see the trend of Russian imperialism which makes the imperialism of the Czars look like a mere circumstance. Countries are being overrun. It has been suggested in this House that some of them have been willing victims. Undoubtedly, certain small nations, particularly those adjacent to Russia, have found it expedient to accept the support of Russia, at least temporarily. But imperialism is very hard to “ sell “ to any socialist, and the Russian socialists must be swallowing hard when they hear of these “ victories “, involving the aggrandisement of the Soviet Union at the expense of smaller nations, because whatever has happened to the revolution in Russia, it sprang originally from the socialists. Now it has been degraded into Communist imperialism. All these things have been canvassed ad nauseam, but they do come into any discussions of the affairs of the United Nations, and, of course, they are referred to in the statement that was tabled by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley).
Probably the most disturbing aspect of international affairs to-day is the complete and utter insistence by the Russians on something that is worse than imperialism, namely, the old, notorious and filthy habit of demanding crippling reparations from conquered nations. If these demands are pressed they will constitute a most fruitful cause of war. Even a cursory survey of history will show that nations that have been conquered and raped of their possessions as war payments have lived to rise again in strength and themselves become conquerors. The story of the Russian attempts to garner the gold and the capital goods of the defeated European countries is as sombre as the story of Russian non-co-operation at the United Nations and the imperialistic policy that it has enforced upon other nations. About two years ago, speaking on foreign affairs in this House, I drew attention to the harsh terms imposed at that time by the Russians upon Finland. Under that agreement, Russia was to take the whole of the Karelian Isthmus, the most productive part of Finland, and in addition Finland, deprived of this valuable territory, was to pay Russia approximately £70,000,000 or £80,000,000 a year for ten years. “When I was in the Scandinavian countries, information coming from Finland indicated that the hardy Finns had accepted these terms with reluctance, and were preparing to work and buy their way out of bondage. At that time, I thought that the reparations imposed upon the Finns were the harshest that World War II. would produce, I agree with the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. O’Connor) who, last night, attacked the principle of reparations because of its danger to the world. Separations do not breed a placid hatred, but an active burning hatred which will flare up into war when the opportunity offers. Humble a nation, take its production potential, grind its face, and there is a war of vengeance ready-made. Yet Russia is demanding from Germany the sum of ten billion dollars as reparations. Once again the same pattern is being followed. Between 9,000,000 and 13,000,000 Germans have been removed from Upper Silesia, one of the most productive areas in Germany, to the American and British /.ones. The ten billion dollars is being sought in the form of goods out of current production, despite the fact that the British and American authorities are endeavouring to feed the starving people of Germany, restore communications, revive industries, and diminish poverty so that the country will not sink altogether into oblivion. There is to be no consideration of the treasure that is beingpoured into Germany by the Allies. Russia wants its pound of flesh. This pattern of reparations, which is so dangerous to the maintenance of peace, is seen also in Austria. In defiance of section 45 of the Potsdam Agreement, the Russians are seeking the whole of the assets taken over by Germany after the Anschluss, which means that everything that was seized by the fascists is to be the loot of the Russians in the form of reparations. The confiscated funds of union organizations and the possessions of a business man whose only crime was that he was a Jew - some jack-booted larrikin from the red light district of Berlin marked on his window the unholy word “ Jude “, thus depriving him of his livelihood - are all to be taken to Russia and locked up in the Kremlin. Thus, Russia’s war against fascism does not extend to fascists’ loot. There, too, is another potential cause of war. This pattern of reparations followed by the Russians is another indication that they have decided upon certain actions which we must investigate. If we attempt to peer behind the “iron curtain”, what do we see? The answer is-, that the Russians no longer believe that, there are any true democracies in theworld. They are firmly convinced! that in this war between communism and: capitalism the democracies will perish because of their very incompetence. So everything they do is justified by the glowing future that will come when the fascists are eliminated. That may be the reason for this continued and embittered approach by the Russians. The United Nations’ deliberations so far as Russia is concerned are a blind, because not one decision has been made, except in the case of Palestine, with the co-operation of the Russians. They have used the veto persistently and extensively. The Russians have shown by their conquests and imperialism that they have no desire for a settlement in Europe, and by insisting upon the harshest of reparations they have shown that they are not interested in the drawing up of peace treaties for Europe. Russia. if it is to remain in the United Nations, must convince the world of its sincerity or it must be said we stand divided. Let us have an end of dishonesty. All we have at the United Nations at the present time is peace sitting on a pile of atomic bombs, and ready to desert the pile when it becomes higher on the Russian side: The deliberations and aspirations of the United Nations amount to no more than an injunction to “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition “. It is a sad commentary on the effectiveness of the organization that so little headway has been made. However, the strictures of the Opposition upon the work of the United Nations are too stringent in view of the ideals and hopes of the organization, and what it means to the world. An attempt was made with the League of Nations to do something in the way of creating an international peace authority. The formation of an Empire bloc is something to be considered if the United Nations eventually fails. The United Nations organization has done some splendid work, but mostly of a minor character. Its plans for peace have been frustrated, chiefly by Russia, with its exercise of the veto. If honorable members are impatient with the achievements of the United Nations, there is a lot upon which to feed their impatience in the reports presented by the Minister for External Affairs, but we must give the organization every opportunity to survive. Even if we are unable to find out just what is behind the Russian attitude, there may be certain ways of overcoming the difficulties arising out of it. I do not know what is in the minds of the higher authorities abroad, but, during the war, we found it necessary to confer with our allies, including Russia. If differences can be resolved only by conferences between the leaders of the nations, then let us have conferences. Let us have a meeting between Attlee, Stalin and Truman, who are the only persons who can do anything in the present situation to promote world peace. We should not. abandon the United Nations because the organization has failed to do everything we expected. Neither should we he content to speak and write millions of words upon the subject, and leave it at that. We have an obligation to the young people of the world to make an honest effort to prevent war from coming to this r any other country.
There are other aspects of foreign affairs calling for criticism, and one cannot but be filled with despair over some of the decisions of the Council of Foreign Ministers, decisions for which Russia was not entirely to blame. The Potsdam Agreement is a sloppy and indecisive arrangement, which leaves a great deal to be desired. Surely it can be moulded nearer to the heart’s desire, which is peace in our time, and continuing peace. When one takes the stump against the Russians, one finds that the count against them is a heavy one. Another item is their refusal to co-operate in the Marshall Plan. This may be due to the fact that all the Russian plans for industrial development have failed, and a diversion may be necessary. Russia may be having difficulty in convincing its soldiers that everything in the democratic countries is utterly bad for them. Therefore, the Soviet Government warns the people of eastern Europe to have nothing to do with the capitalist democracies which come with food in their hands and promises of prosperity. The Russian answer to the Marshall plan was the formation of the Cominform, a congress of nations which favours the Soviet way of life.. Russia has persistently libelled the trade unions as collaborators with capitalism, but one observes in these attacks a note of anxiety rather than a challenge to the workers to rise. One wonders just what is happening in Russia to occasion these sporadic outbursts of anger. Some of our own statements, rabid, inane, and provocative of war, have done little to lull the Russian suspicion.
We come now to the question, of the Italian colonies, which are of particular interest to Australia, because so many Australians fought in that area. Therefore, it was astonishing to learn that the proposal that Australia should have a voice in the disposal of the Italian colonies was vetoed, not so much by the Russians, as by the four great powers generally. The deputies of the foreign ministers appointed a committee to consider the disposal of the colonies and, despite the protests of the Australian Minister for External Affairs, this country was not represented. That was a tragedy, even though our British colleagues were there to act on our behalf. Surely the heroic defence of Tobruk by Australian soldiers, and their participation in the victory of El Alamein entitled Australia to be represented. .Did none of our allies hear of Bardia and the “ Brown Gods from Down Under “, or was that just good public relations propaganda?
– The Minister for External Affairs ruined our case by asking for equal representation.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. It was a shame, after what our soldiers endured in the agonizing campaign in North Africa, that Australia’s claim to be heard in regard to the disposal of the Italian colonies should be brushed aside as of no importance, simply because Great Britain was represented on the committee. This incident emphasizes the flaw in the proposal of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) for the formation of an Empire bloc. It is not enough that Great Britain should be represented at the United Nations and should speak for us. It was not thus that Australia was represented at El Alamein when Montgomery, addressing the Australians, issued the dramatic order to “break their lines and eat their guts “. When this country fights in person, it demands to be heard in person. The claim of Australia to be heard was brushed aside, notwithstanding the contribution of the Australian Army to the destruction of Italian imperialism under Mussolini. However, there was worse to follow. After the committee had conducted its investigations, Australia and the other dominions which had participated in the campaign, were asked to state their views upon what should be done with the Italian colonies. When the Australian Minister for External Affairs made inquiries, he was told that he could not defer the making of his suggestions until he saw the report of the committee, but must offer them beforehand. He again asked for some indication of what decisions the committee had come to so that he, and the Australian Parliament, might consider what should be done, but oh this occasion Russia applied the veto, and no time was allowed. I do not know what the people of Australia will think when they learn that, on that occasion, the veto, as exercised by Russia, struck directly at the interests of Australia. Insult was added to injury by asking the dominions for suggestions, and then declaring that no information would be placed at their disposal, and no time allowed in which to draft proposals. That is the sorry story of the Italian colonies. It does not make good recruiting propaganda for the new Australian army.
After discussing the difficulties in Europe and the fate of the Italian colonies, one turns in sickness from the chaos of it all. Before finally leaving this subject, however, I make the observation that the best way to create peace is not entirely by using the rigid machinery of international co-operation, such as the United Nations. Peace may be made permanent more dramatically and more humanly when sympathies are involved and hatreds are dampened. I read recently that the children of Coventry had sent ten cases of chocolates to the apparently starving children of Berlin. It is not within the compass of Russian master diplomacy to make a gesture like that. I do not say that this action was typically British, but it was typically humanitarian. Little things such as that can become great things when one is seeking a solution of the problems of the world. Perhaps the action of the children who survived the German blitz of the city of Coventry and sent back a peace offering of food to their German brothers in civilization may have a more resounding effect than one might expect. It might prove to have a louder voice than themost portentious protocol.
Anybody looking for a lamp burning in Europe may find it in the attitude of Great Britain and the United States of America. I do not agree that American foreign policy changes every minute. If it does change quickly, that is because the United States is a changing new world. The constitution founded by Washington and Jefferson is a constitution of checks and counter-checks. American foreign policy is mo3t liberal. The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee has a great influence on diplomacy. It holds many of its hearings in open session, and while this state of affairs prevails, American foreign policy must change frequently with the wider outlook of the changing scene. Many of the changes are made because Americans will not continue to perpetrate an evil merely for the sake of preserving a reputation for inflexibility. If an American decides, after building a factory or even a skyscraper, that its windows face the wrong way, he will pull the structure down and start all over again.
I do not suppose that any other nation could conceive anything so generous aa the Marshall plan. Considered in its worst terms, it is an insurance that the United States of America - let us call it a capitalistic country - will eventually get markets for its goods. What a tremendous hazard it is taking in order to secure those markets! It is completely subsidizing them. Considered in its more human aspect, the plan is one indication that civilization still survives and that its light is burning strongly. There is nothing soft about the Americans except their hearts. Their country has passed through a stage of “ke-cream imperialism.” as they call it - nobody is more self-critical than an American - but ?they keep on the level of democracy. They do extraordinary things sometimes, but -*hey do equally extraordinary things in juxtaposition, which balances the picture. Like our Motherland, the United States of America is a sheet-anchor for us in “the -south-west Pacific. How soft the -Americans are I leave to the knockers. How tough they are I leave to the historical records of the battles of Leyte, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. I emphasize that, apart from the actual machinery of peace-making, there are many things t&at human beings can do to foster international harmony. The actions of the youngsters of Coventry and of the hardheaded ‘business-like politicians of the United States of America are at one because they have a common stand anl of humanity and are based on an understanding that out of war will come other wars unless the blood-red soil is purged of anger and hatred.
The final section of the report before the House, deals with the problems of Palestine and the anxiety felt in all countries because of the decisions that have been made and rescinded in relation to that troubled country. The Palestinian problem has existed for many years. I think that the partition was the best solution that the United Nations could find, because forces were operating in the United States of America, as in other parts of the world, which constituted pressure politics of the highest order. I believe that there should be some plan for the Jews to have their national home. The beginnings of this trouble arose when the American Jews - particularly the
Jews of New Fork, who have n« desire ever to return to Palestine - flayed the British Government unmercifully and, with political force behind them, persuaded the President of the United States of America to make decisions abruptly when the situation was in a transitional stage. The story of Palestine is a long one. The action of the Attlee Government early in 1945 in asking the United States Government to co-operate in setting up a joint committee of investigation was a very good one indeed. The British Government proved its good faith by appointing three members of the House of Commons to the committee. Mr. R. H. S. Crossman, the editor of the New Statesman and a member of the Attlee Labour Government, who was on the committee, said -
We knew that this was not to be a happy assignment and that, no matter what happened, we would not be popular.
Nevertheless the Attlee Government decided that Great Britain’s representatives on the committee should be members of Parliament. The United States Congress was not so far-sighted as that, and its appointees were departmental officers.
The findings of that first commission are amongst the best documented and most authoritative yet produced on the Palestine situation. Later, a commission of inquiry appointed by the United Nations arrived at roughly the same conelusions as those reported by the joint British-American committee. [Extension of time granted.] The partition plan prepared by the United Nations according to the decisions of its ad hoc committee, of which the Australian Minister for External Affairs was chairman, offered a’ reasonable solution of the problem. The important thing was that the ad hoc committee did replace prejudice with a plan. It is all very well for people to talk about the rights of the Arabs to occupy Palestine, but the Jews came from somewhere, and all historical evidence is that they came from Palestine and the surrounding Asiatic countries. The Jews look upon Palestine as their home. Actually the plan for a national home for the Jews is a post-dated arrangement, because there are already 600,000
Jews’ iri Palestine arid they have a national Koine- there: There has- been a lot of loose talk abou* a return te Eritz Israel, te they call the land’ Chey hope’ to make their nacional home. The plan’ was to send hundreds of thousands- of Jews into file country by migration’. When the Grossman report’ was sent to the British Cabinet it Was unfortunate’ for Grossman and1 his Colleagues, Whose motives weise’ genuine, that Foreign ©mee officials sub-edited it and presented only a precis to the Government, which came K what was a. wrong decision, in the light of the lengthy and excellent report.
The crux of the Palestine problem lies in the fact that Great Britain then decided’ not to continue its mandate and to- retire from Palestine early- in May of this year. The newspapers thereupon began a- campaign- of headlines. Every murder committed in Palestine - and murders have been going on there for many years-was given banner headlines. Everybody came to hear about the’ Jewish Joint Agency, Irgun Zvai Leumi, Hag’anah and other organizations. During, that period, Great Britain once more was very patient with the forces which had risen amongst the Jews and had developed into terrorist organizations like the Stern Gang. My point is that the United Stations agreement, which has been tossed aside as being of no importance, represented a very sober con’si’d’eration of the facts. It provided1 for an’ international regime which included1 the’ creation’ of Jerusalem as a free city and’ provided for the protection crf’ the holy places dear to Christians. There’ wet e to be areas for both the Arabs and the Jews, arid a programme of immigration wats planned which would, in effect, lift the population of the Jews to predominance-. That predominance may be brought about by means other than immigration. People have entirely lost sight tff the fact that there are .many displaced persons in Europe who must go somewhere. Nine’ Jews in ten died in Poland. The stories of Dachau and Buckenwald shocked the world. The’ Jews’’ insistence upon their national homehas been high’-lighted by’ the Zionist fight- some of it, of course, out of all proportion to its merit– until it has become a matter of high politics. What a-re the J’eWs’ being offered in Palestine, anyhow? Tt is the’ centre’’ of- p’Ower politics, and Kbe centre of commercial intrigue among the nations- because of the oil pipeline.
Palestine is not the mO’st fertile country in’ the world. Wars’ have ravaged if for 2’,00’0 years. Now, there’ is a’ prosperous community of Jews who have’ become agriculturists and’ have lifted’ the standards of the country. Hundreds of thousands of Jews desire to m’a’ke their homes in Palestine. The opposition comes from the Arab community. All these sudde’n expressions of admiration for the Arab, I remind honorable members, should be received’ With’ some caution. The Grand Mufti was a friend’ Of’ Efi tier, who told him, “ You Can do what you like with the Jews “. Naturally, the Arab was a friend of the Nazi’ regime and has been, by all its actions, anti-democratic. The reason why so many civil servants and other people in Palestine saT, “Let- the Jews- remain- in the country if they can, but allow the Arabs te be the dominant race “ is not difficult to discover. The Arab is- tractable’, and can be “ run around a bit “. The Jew has become thoroughly nationalistic in his new country. When the J*ews began to establish themselves in Palestine, an observer said to one of them, “‘You have put fee cart before the’ horse’”. The Jew asked him what he meant by that statement. The answer was, “ Although you- have been- here for only ten years; you have already built a university on the hill “. The Jew replied, ‘’ We have not put the cart before the- horse because learning is the horse which pulls all carts’”. That is the- answer to the problem- in Palestine - the understanding of the desire of the Jew for a national home.
The Jews have a case. The Britishhave been patient almost to the point of martyrdom, and the reports of slaughter in Palestine have been greatly exaggerated. I read iri this afternoon’s newspapers that the United Nations is calling for a- truce iri’ Palestine until’ some kind of peace is “ patched up “’; but 1 believe that the resolutions of the dd Hoc committee’ and’ the Palestine Commission, that there shall be partition as planned by the United1 Nations-, will survive. A truce may be a reasonable and safe plan until’ the people in that distressed country can be made easier in mind. The Minister for External Affairs has done one of his greatest jobs in regard to the vexed questions of Palestine. A good deal of jockeying for position often occurs at international conferences, but on this occasion, delegates did not display keenness to become the chairman of the committee, which was expected to reach a decision, because the militant Jews throughout the world were using all the pressure that they could bring to bear. Great Britain had indicated its position in the matter, and one of the most intolerable situations in civilization had to be resolved. In the plan which the committee produced, there was much common sense and sweet reason, and I feel instinctively that eventually it will be adopted.
Finally, I cannot agree with the note of despair which members of the Opposition have sounded in relation to the United Nations. They claim that the United Nations must fail. I cannot accept their short-sighted view that if the organization does not function to-day, it will never work. I am encouraged in my belief that the democracies will keep the lamp burning. The alternative is the atomic bomb, and utter destruction. Rather than teach our youngsters in school what democracy stands for and how many rivers there are in South America, we should start to tell them how quickly human bones, nerves and tissues can be dissolved into fluid by the explosion of an atomic bomb ; how it takes the gamma ray to sap their vital fluids. Mankind may be destroyed by atomic warfare if we do not adhere to the United Nations, and to the devotional idea that the world itself must depend upon human cooperation. Let us not necessarily be daunted by the intransigence of Russia, because there are some solutions which can be reached at once. There are others which must wait. If, within this century, something like an acceptance of a scheme of general peace can be obtained and maintained for more than 100 years, we shall have done something in our generation which all preceding generations were not able to achieve. That is the story which the Minister for External Affairs has told to honorable members in this chamber. Outside Australia, he is a world figure for international peace. It makes me boil inwardly when members of the Opposition, endeavouring to strengthen their case, attempt to belittle the United Nations and particularly, the Minister who has made such an effort for world peace. Our hopes attach to the United Nations at the present time. The machinery to-day is creaking, and the results have been unsatisfactory, but the United Nations is all that we have as a means of attaining peace. The only other prospect is the atomic bomb, and in that event, the lights will go out, not. only in Europe, but also in the rest of the world.
.- This debate, I regret to say, is just another discussion on international affairs. Honorable members have heard many debates on the international situation, and this is just another one of them. Every day the Australian people rush for their newspapers in order to read about what has happened in Palestine, Berlin and Korea, and to learn whether there is to be another war. The people are wondering whether their children will be involved in another world conflict. Despite this critical period in the world’s history, we are hearing speeches which compel me to describe this as just another debate on international affairs.
The document which the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) laid on the table of the House on the 11th March last was so voluminous that any member who attempted to carry it away would almost stagger under its weight. When we read its contents, we found that it was like a description of a trip around the world. The speech which the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) made last week is not much more than a factual account of the world situation to-day. No statement has come from the Australian Labour party on the Government’s policy, expectations and intentions. Yet that is what the people of Australia are waiting to hear. The Parliament is now debating the international situation, and the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) are absent. In the circumstances, we must regard the debate as merely a device to fill in the time of the. Parliament. That is most unsatisfactory.
– Where was the honorable member last week?
– I was attending to my business. The Parliament was entitled to expect from the Government a more positive, constructive and informative statement on international affairs. The Australian Labour party has never squarely faced the conditions of the day. On the eve of the outbreak of World War II., supporters of the Labour party in this Parliament opposed the National Register for recording the man-power of thi9 country. They said that the compilation of a national register would be an act provocative of war. A perusal of their speeches after the outbreak of war will reveal, not references to the conflict, but only to the “ new order “ which would be ushered in after the cessation of hostilities. To-day, when the people of the world are wondering whether peace can be maintained, members of the Labour party can do no more than mouth old platitudes about humanity, human rights, trusteeships, democracy, equality, freedom and heaven knows what, all of which are important, but not apropos world conditions to-day. I voice my protest that the Government, disregarding the present atmosphere, has failed to produce to the Parliament and the people a constructive statement of its views concerning international events. It is not sufficient that we should meet and explain to each other in a comparatively non-controversial manner our respective ideals. We believe that those things which contribute to unhappiness, friction and war, must be removed from the world, and that we must emphasize from both sides of the chamber our determination that there shall not be another war. However, this ‘is not a self improvement society; this Parliament is charged with the management of the affairs of the nation at a moment of peril. In saying that I am not exaggerating; I believe that the present is a moment of peril, not only for Australia, but also for the British Commonwealth as a’ whole and for everything for which our .race stands. It is not enough for the Minister for External
Affairs to crusade for ideals. In saying ‘that I hope that I shall not be misunderstood ; I do not criticize him, or any other individual, for propounding ideals in the hope of converting people to higher and better aims. The Government’s foreign policy and the Minister’s activities have been characterized substantially by the pursuit of abstract ideals. That is not sufficient. Heaven knows, and the history of humanity proves abundantly, the world’s desperate need of people who will propound the doctrines of truth and give expression to their ideals ; but in- a tough world the foreign policy of a country should not be under the control of someone who has, according to all the evidence available in the case, completely preoccupied himself with the role of a crusader.
I do not propose to follow the course adopted by some honorable members and to reiterate the necessity for maintaining peace, to express profound regret that Russia has proved intransigent, and to indulge in pious hopes of what might have been. I hope that it will not be thought that this is my only “ line “. I propose to follow what I believe to be the most urgent course and to say quite plainly that the primary responsibility of the government of any country is to devote itself to those matters which vitally concern the survival of that country. Just as it is the responsibility of armed forces in time of war to fight to ensure the survival of their nation, so the primary responsibility of governments in time of peace is to devote their attention, through diplomatic channels, to ensure the survival of their countries. It is not good that the Minister who is charged primarily with such a responsibility should be preoccupied as a world messiah. The whole course of history shows that until the outbreak of war .the security of a country is primarily in the hands of the Minister who controls the foreign policy of that country. Of course, we had hoped that that conception would be changed ; because of the unspeakable horrors of the last war we believed that humanity had been convinced that it must organize itself internationally to preserve peace. We hoped that some authority would lay down rules of international conduct, provide some meeting place for deliberation, and,, if necessary, create, and, maintain an international force to maintain peace. To that end the United Nations organization was established. It was my pleasure to attend the inaugural meeting of the United Nations, and I recollect very clearly that on my return to this country I recommended to the Parliament that it should associate Australia with the United Nations, which I decribed as a “great experiment “. I never thought of it as anything, else than the greatest experiment in human history for the success of which we should pray. However, the plain truth is that it has not succeeded. Because of that I do not write the United Nations off and say that it is finished;but the fact remains that it cannot be relied upon with certainty to maintain peace, or, if necessary, to suppress aggression., That has now been revealed to all the world. We have returned to theearlier phases of experimentation in the organization of humanity along lines designed to preserve peace. We must eventually succeed in devising some certain method of settling international differences. In the past those differences have been resolved by diplomatic manoeuvering and war, and to date we have not been able to arrive at any other solution. We must face reality and realize that there is not an international organization that can be, relied upon with certainty to preserve peace and protect us against an aggressor. So what? The truth is that for the immediate present we are in much the same position as we were before the United Nations organization was established. The ever-increasing tempo of events during the past two years,, and particularly during the past twelve months, shows that the great nations accept that as the unhappy fact of the situation.
I remember speaking in the course of an earlier debate on international affairs which took place shortly after the. United States Government announced its decision to provide finance and military aid and advice to, Turkey and Greece. On that occasion, I said that the announcement was clear evidence that the world had returned to the use of the old device of the balance of power.
– The, nations have always resorted to that device.
– I repeat my conviction now, and I endorse the interjection of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott). However, I hope that honorable members will not misunderstand me and imagine that I think that that is the right and the best course for the nations to follow. I say it is the only device yet evolved by humanity that has preserved peace for measurable periods of time.
– It is a dreary outlook.
– I agree. We should not accept that as the final position, but should continue to endeavour to develop the United Nations or some variant of it. It must, however, be realized that we are living in a world in which peace is. likely to be maintained for considerable periods only by the device of the, balance of power.
I donot consider that the United Nations has failed because of the veto. I have alwaysbelieved in that principle-, and I do not apologize for saying so. The development of organized humanity along national lines has not yet reached the stage when nations such as the United States, Soviet Russia and the British Commonwealth are prepared to meet, Cuba, Hayti, Guatemala, Venezuela and other small countries in open conference and allow their destinies to be determined by them. It is the acme of unreality to pretend that the great nations, upon which the burden of war has fallen in the past and is likely again to fall, will allow their fate tobe determined in that way.
– It was suggested only with regard to conciliation.
– It was suggested in general terms, first of all modifications were suggested later. The basic idea was equality, which I say was completely unreal. Whilst there may be some who will dispute that with me, I do not think there is any one who does mot believe that it is completely unreal to, suggest that the great nations will place their destinies in the hands of small countries, whose total population is less than that of a moderate-sized town in, for instance. the. United States. I do not think that the veto is the basic cause of the failure of the United Nations. Nor do I consider that either the. British people or the Americans have been unreasonable. It k hard to see ourselves; as others see us. This matter is so. important that. I have, tried desperately to see where we have been wrong, or unreasonable, if we have been. Grouping the English-speaking, people* together, I cannot think of any occasion on which we have conducted ourselves wrongly or unreasonably. I believe that Soviet Russia never had confidence in the concept of the United Nations or any intention. really to “ play “,. in the sense that the word is understood in this text. En my opinion, that is the reason why the organization has failed. We have to. hope that the- time will come when Russia will change its attitude to other nations and when the United Nations, or ite successor, will function in a way that will permit us to. escape from the terrible necessity of having to rely upon the balance of power to preserve world peace.
If my judgment upon these matters is. at all correct, this is not a moment when we should be mouthing words of idealism. We should be looking at stark realities considering how to conduct ourselves and deciding, what our foreign policy should be. No guidance has been given us in that connexion by the Minister for External. Affairs, the Prime Minister or any other senior Minister. It is really unnecessary to state that we live in a world in which peace is preserved by the device of the balance of power, because we see it clearly in operation. The United- States has made loans to Turkey and Greece. Was it a mere coincidence that a loan was made to the country which straddles the Dardanelles and stands between Soviet satellites and the Mediterranean, and that military equipment and officials followed the loan ? Looking at the matter from -the American point of view, the device of the balance of power is already in operation. Considering it from the Soviet point of view, we see the successive absorption of countries like Roumania, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia, which :are being built up W the Russians as buffer States, and the continued occupation by the Soviet of eastern Germany. On the other hand,, we see a. bid being made by the United States, and Great Britain for a democratic vote in Italy with which they were recently at war by suggesting the return to it of the city of Trieste, and possibly of its. colonies. Our men did not fight the Italians in. order that we should return to Italy its colonies. If they are. given back, it will be because, we are afraid that, otherwise Italy will go Com:munist and give the Russians a foothold in the Mediterranean. The law of the balance, of power is operating under our very eyes.
– Is not that a reflection upon the United States and the United: Kingdom ?’
– It is not a reflection upon their acumen. It is evidence of their realism, which, in the present unhappy circumstances, I am sad to say I welcome.
– I thought the honorable member said it was because of a fear complex that Italy would go Communist if certain things were not done.
– That is not a complex; it is a fact.
I turn now to the problem of Palestine. As a consequence of a combination of political pressure by the American Jews, who exercise tremendous political power in the United States, and the unarguable logie of the Minister for Externa] Affairs, the decision was taken to partition Palestine in order to placate the Jews and to give them a home. What was the attitude of the1 British authorities? They, the. most skilled diplomats in the world, did not talk in public. They just said that they were, not “ playing “ and that they would not vote on the. question and would have nothing to do with it. But those who argued on the lines on which the. Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) argued, with almost irrefutable logic, under pressure from the American Jews, swayed the United Nations to decide on the partition of Palestine. Soon afterwards we found that the price of the partitioning of Palestine would be to drive the Arab Federation, the. Muslim world, into the arms of Russia, which would bring Russia down to the Persian Gulf, across the Suez Canal and through
North Africa to the shores of the Atlantic. Because high policy is determined by the balance of power, the United States of America recognized that, regardless of the pressure politics at home and the logic of our Minister for External Affairs, it had better turn a somersault and say that it was sorry but that it had changed its mind and no longer intended to partition Palestine, because it could not afford to drive the Arab States into the arms of Russia. That is why the partitioning of Palestine is not to proceed. It is better that we should bring right into the open some of the facts that reveal the kind of world we live in to-day. It would have been better had those facts been explained to this country from the treasury bench.
– Has Great Britain told us its proposed foreign policy at any time?
– The honorable member for Denison asks whether Great Britain tells us its foreign policy. If the honorable member means “ Does Great Britain tell the world”? the answer is that when it does not think it prudent to tell the world it does not do so. But it does not mislead the world. It keeps silent. As I have said, it kept silent on the policy to be applied in Palestine. If, however, the honorable member means “Does Great Britain tell the Australian Government its foreign policy”? the answer is “Yes, it does”. It keeps us fully acquainted with its foreign policy. One has only to glance around the world to see how unhappy is its condition. Look at China and Korea! Let honorable members look wherever they like, and they see the Russian menace to our security. The Marshall plan was not the result solely of the humanitarianism of the American people. I repeat what I said in another debate about a fortnight ago that the Marshall plan was principally a strategic device to enable the United States of America to hold a part of Europe against Soviet Russia.
We live in perilous times. Our “ Foreign Minister “ has gone round the world saying that there should be an early peace settlement with Japan. We have had an early peace settlement with Italy, a country that we shed our blood and treasure to defeat after it had stabbed us in the back. We have re-established the sovereignty of Italy. The consequence is that the Italians are to hold a free election. If they “ go Communist “, the outlook will he serious for us. The peace treaty with Italy was concluded too early. Not only in this country and this Parliament, but also all over the United States of America, in speeches and written articles, the Minister for External Affairs has advocated an early peace settlement with Japan. If his advice is accepted, Japan’s sovereignty will be restored, enabling it instantly to play the English-speaking world off against Russia - to see with whom it can make the best deal. It is not good enough for our “ Foreign Minister “ to run round making speeches that appear to have a popular appeal. It would be very much better for him to be silent. We do not want an early peace settlement with Japan, because there is no real peace in the world. Are we to have an early settlement with Japan, as advocated by the Government’s spokesman on foreign affairs, establishing thereby the right of Japan to membership of the United Nations and the International Trade Organization, which would entitle it to all the preferential duties in the tariff schedules that the Government has just compelled the Parliament to pass? I say that we should not. It is a menacing proposal. Until the world settles down a little and we can see where we are going, I shall be very happy to see the defeated Japan occupied by the Allied forces. I do not want a re-established Japan able to play us off against Soviet Russia. These are real elements of our foreign policy.
I repeat that I should be sorry if it were thought that I believe that there is no place for idealism. It will be a sad future for humanity if we cannot eventually persuade ourselves and the rest of the world to espouse idealism, but that the very man upon whom we rely for our safety in a tough world should be preaching the doctrines of idealism all over the world is dangerous. The two things do not fit together. I should be happier if the “ foreign Minister “ of Australia dealt in factual terms with foreign affairs as they exist in the kind of world I have described. If necessary in order to avoid complications and contradictions let some other spokesman for the Government advocate the higher ideals of primary purpose. The only foreign policy is our survival a3 s nation. Leaving one one side emotionalism and kinship with the people of the United Kingdom, our foreign policy must be bound up as closely as possible with that of the other elements of the English-speaking world. “We must strengthen the voice of Great Britain, livery point that we have scored in the councils of the world in establishing separate rights for Australia and every speech that has been uttered in gaining those rights has detracted from the authority of the voice of the United Kingdom. It is not safe for us that the voice of the United Kingdom should not be powerful and authoritative. For that reason I do not subscribe to the idea that 10,000,000 people ought to emigrate from Great Britain. [Extension of lime granted.] Of course, I subscribe to the principle of British migration. It so happened that I was the Minister who re-established assisted British migration after the depression. My record in that matter is clear, and I have not altered my views since that time. However, I do not subscribe to the idea that 10,000,000 people ought to be sucked out of Great Britain, or any other country. If a vast proportion of the British community were removed from the United Kingdom it would reduce for all time the economic and military strength of Great Britain and would impair our own safety. I do not agree with the view that it is impossible to re-arrange the .affairs of the British Commonwealth of Nations so as to enable Great Britain to regain economic stability. If we plan towards that objective, it can be accomplished.. The British Commonwealth of Nations has within it3 resources of man-power as well as developed and undeveloped physical resources sufficient to enable it to be the most powerful community of people of the world ; and I hope that it will be. That is the objective which the Government should set’ itself. The idea that 10,000,000 people ought to be removed from the United Kingdom as some influential people have proposed is a de featist idea. I do not support it. I do not believe that the United Kingdom is “ done “. On the contrary, it can be assisted to regain all its economic strength and prestige, and our policy should be to contribute everything we possibly can towards its reconstruction. Indeed, I say, perhaps in the face of universal disagreement, that I do not support the view that even the atomic bomb as it has been developed since Hiroshima spells an intolerable position for the United Kingdom. No device of warfare has yet been invented which the ingenuity of man has not been able to counter. Terrible as is the atomic bomb - and I do not wish to diminish my conception of its terror - it is still no more terrible than were the rifle and gunpowder to the man who knew nothing but the spear and bow and arrow. Gunpowder must have spelt almost obliteration to the nations which had no knowledge of that terrible device of warfare. However, I do not want to be sidetracked. I repeat for what it is worth that I do not believe that even the developed atomic bomb spells the end of a state of affairs in which the United Kingdom can survive against nations which may possess the device. The ingenuity of man has countered the ingenuity of man through all the ages.
The foreign policy of this country should be built around the conviction that our safety, ultimately, depends upon re-establishing the economic and military strength of the English-speaking peoples of the world. In all our activities and planning we should devote ourselves towards attaining that end. Should we, on the contrary, continue to develop our foreign policy along the lines that the Government has pursued during recent years, that is, to divide the British Commonwealth of Nations into distinctly separate nations, not a single one of those nations will have a sufficiently powerful voice in the councils of the world to command respect. We simply cannot afford to allow the position of the British Empire to deteriorate to that degree. Some people believe that it is even possible, in this atomic age, to transfer the heart of the British Empire from the United Kingdom to some other part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, for example, to Australia or Canada. I am absolutely convinced that it is impossible for us to do that. We cannot build the British Empire around Australia or Canada in any measurable period of time. We must continue to build it around the United Kingdom, or it will dissolve into its ele-ments. I should like to hear more from the Government than that it admires and likes the British people and wants to help them. The Government should give us some information as to how it plans to restore the strength of the British people.
.- I have read the statement tabled by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), and I listened carefully to the excellent speech delivered by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). His speech, and that made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), raised the debate to a high plane. In those circumstances, one must deplore the effort of the honorable member for Richmond. (Mr. Anthony) . People in all walk’s of life appear to be reaching the conclusion that the United Nations has failed the world. We know of the work that was accomplished by the League of Nations after World War I. Some people believe that because that organization did not succeed in preventing World War II. it is useless to persevere with the United Nations. I firmly believe that this is the machine that should be able to ensure peace on this earth. If the representatives of the 55 nations comprising the United Nations approach the questions submitted to them with an open and honest heart, the result for which we are all offering our prayers will be achieved. The United Nations is somewhat similar to other lesser bodies-~-we can expect to get ou’t of it only what we put into it. We in Australia must be prepared1 to play our part in the assemblies of the- world to ensure future peace. Central Europe to-day is in turmoil. As the honorable, member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) said, people are eagerly scanning the daily newspapers in order to keep abreast of developments. My view is that if the truth was revealed to- them their anxiety would be relieved. Berlin is divided^ into British, American,, French and Russian sectors-, but it’ is deplorable that these four great powers cannot agree as to its future-. In my view, the three powers that are in agreement should unite, in ail endeavour to overcome the problems of that area. War propaganda is disseminated as a weapon in a war of nerves. Short of actual hostilities, nothing could be worse. I believe that the Australian delegation to the Assembly of the United Nations did a magnificent job.
We have discussed from time to time the Marshall plan for the rehabilitation of Europe. Sixteen nations have indicated their willingness to participate in it. The implementation of the Marshall plan will mean the difference between life and death to many people in central Europe. It is regrettable that that plan met, with such a poor reception from Russia, a country whose Government claims to work for the masses of the people, particularly the Russian people. Talk of Wai- within five or ten years is to be deplored, because, if the nations approach their problems in the proper way, it should be possible to ensure that war does not occur”. With the development of atomic energy, thereshould be a drive to increase power available for peaceful purposes, and not to produce Weapons of destruction. We have ali heard of the extensive damage and loss of life caused by the atomic missiles which were dropped on two Japanese cities. Since the cessation of hostilities an even more devastating bomb has been manufactured. One can well visualize what appalling loss of life would follow the dropping of these bombs on the densely-populated cities of Europe.
Throughout the speech of the honorable member for Indi it was apparent that his greatest regret is that there is not closer co-operation among the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I am somewhat at a loss to understand such a statement. In this chamber not long’ ago there was an assembly of delegates from Australia, Burma, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa for the purpose of evolving- a plan to ensure the safety of the- Pacific. A unanimous decision wag reached that Japan should be prevented1 from rearming and developing a possible war potential. It’ was’ specifically stated that the manufacture of armaments and war-like aircraft should not be permitted. The conferencerevealed the utmost cooperation on the part of the participating nations andmade a grand contribution towards the: future peace and security of the Pacific. We have what is known as the Anzac Pact between Australia and New Zealand, the two outposts of the British Commonwealth of Nations; in the South-West Pacific. I have perused the documents relating to that conference, and I find that great strides were made towards ensuring the safety of the two dominions and of the Empire in this part of the world. Theref ore, I am atloss to under stand why the charge that this Government is not participating; in British Commonwealth conferences has been made. It is strange to hear honorable members opposite make such charges because, when the former Prime Minister, the late Mr. Curtin, in the early war years, made an appeal across the Pacific for American assistance to Australia inits hour of peril, the very people who to-day areclamouring for co-operation in the Pacific area were the loudest in their condemnation of his action. I believe in the complete solidarity of the British Empire. In my speech on the addressmreply to the speech of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester, some years ago, I said that when the war ended it would be necessary to forge the links of the British Empire even stronger than they were at that time.I have not since found any reason to change that view.
I also believe that the security of the Empire can be safeguarded by transfering industries from Great Britain to this country. I recall that I expressed a similar view in 1939, when addressing a meeting of industrialists, so I am not now voicing any new idea. If the peoples of the world are prepared to play their part in the councils of the world, and if the delegates of the various nations approach international problems as our Minister for External Affairs has approached them, with sincerity and an honest desire to secure peace and leaving all. suspicions behind, we shall be able to make the United Nations the instrument of peace that we all hoped it would be.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Holt) adjourned
Motion (by Mr. Scully) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to emphasize the representations that have already been made for the issuance by the Postmaster- General’s Department of a special stamp commemorating the great work of the, explorer Kennedy, who gave his life for this country. A move to this end was made last year at the time of the centenary celebrations at Charleville; but the official reply to the suggestion was that there was not sufficient time to issue a specialstamp. The matter has been raised again by the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland and I understand that members of all political parties in the Parliament of that State have also made representations. A question on this subject was asked by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. GeorgeLawson) in this chamber yesterday. The matter was taken up in the Queensland Parliament by the Leader of the Opposition and the Premier indicated that he would approach the Australian Government with a request that a commemorative stamp be issued. There has been, or there is to be, a stamp commemorating the work in this country of the German botanist von Mueller, who occupied the position of director of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens for some years. I do not think it could be argued that the issue of a stamp for that purpose should take precedence over the issue of a Kennedy memorial stamp. As honorable members are probably aware, Kennedy led a party from Sir Thomas Mitchell’s expedition which set out to survey the centre of Queensland and meet a boat in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Within sight of his goal and with his job completed, Kennedy was murdered by natives at Escape River. It is accepted that his death occurred on the 13th December,. 1848. There may be some uncertainty about that date, but it was accepted when a tablet was erected in his memory in St. James Church; Sydney. It has also been accepted by the New South Wales Government. Therefore, the centenary occurs this year and presents a fitting opportunity for the issue of a special stamp. Kennedy’s diary has been located, and at the request of the Royal Geographical Society in Queensland it has been purchased by the Mitchell Library. “When we are able to read it, we may find something more definite about the activities of the party that Kennedy led. The diary was saved by Jacky Jacky, Kennedy’s aboriginal companion. The explorers Sturt and Mitchell were honoured by the issuance of stamps commemorating their work, although neither lost his life in the course of his explorations, as Kennedy did. I trust that the request for a commemorative stamp will be granted by the Government in the interests of the people of Queensland, where, as I have pointed out, representatives of all political parties and members of the Royal Geographical Society, which is non-political, have agreed upon the desirability of such an issue. I ask the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) to put this matter afresh to the PostmasterGeneral in the hope that he will appreciate that recognition of Kennedy’s work in this way would be a most fitting tribute to his memory.
– I shall be glad to add the representations of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) to those of the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) when I speak to the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) on the question of issuing a stamp in commemoration of the exploratory work of Kennedy. I remind the honorable member, however, that Kennedy was not the only explorer in Australian history who lost his life while carrying out his explorations. Leichhardt gave his life, and Burke and Wills gave theirs. Therefore, the point made by the honorable member in favour of the issue of a stamp in commemoration of Kennedy because he gave his life could be argued with equal validity in the cases of these others, who also deserve commemoration. However, I agree generally with honorable members who have spoken on this question that we should do our utmost to commemorate the. work of the men who blazed the trails in early Australian! history. This Parliament itself has recognized that principle. Electorates are named after persons who served as Prime Ministers of this country or who explored Australia in the early days of its settlement. The name of Kennedy is commemorated in an electorate in this way. I hope that when the new electoratesare named in Queensland one of them will commemorate the name of Mr. Andrew Fisher, and that others will commemorate the exploratory work of Mitchell, Oxley,, and Leichhardt, in addition to Kennedy. It is a great pity that after the 1933 redistribution the name of Griffith, great as was our first Chief Justice, was substituted for that of Oxley.
– There is a State electorate of Oxley, and it is inadvisable to have the same name for both a State and a Federal electorate.
– There is a Federal electorate of Ballarat, and a State electorate of Ballarat, and there are also State and Federal electorates of Adelaide.
– There are also State and Federal electorates of Maranoa, but it is not good policy.
– If it is not good policy, then the State Parliament should find another name for the State electorate, rather than that an explorer’s work should not be commemorated in the name of a federal electorate. I have great sympathy with, and interest in, the Royal Geographical Society and I will help it as far as I can. I had a hand in persuading the PostmasterGeneral to commemorate the work of Mitchell, whose explorations extended from Victoria to Queensland. There are others, too, who did notable work during the formative period of Australia’s history. I do not subscribe to the assertion of the honorable member that Baron Frederick von Mueller did not do work equal to that of other explorers.
– I said that he should not have preference.
– That may amount to the same thing. I am sure that the Postmaster-General will be glad to read the remarks of the honorable member for Maranoa, and that his suggestions will receive consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Department of Civil Aviation purposes -
Derby, Western Australia.
Overseas Telecommunications Commission purposes - Esperance, Western Australia.
House adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
g asked the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– I hope to be able , to furnish replies to the honorable member within a few days.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. I refer the honorable member to the debate which took place in the House of Representatives on 7th and 8th April in relation to the censure motion by the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition in regard to communism. The Government’s attitude on this subject was fully explained by myself and the right honorable the AttorneyGeneral during that debate.
Australian Representation Abroad.
y. - Inquiries which I have made since the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) questioned me in the House on the 5th March regarding a reported dispute among members of the Australian Society in New York, have confirmed the view I then expressed that this minor dispute resulted purely from a clash of personalities. The issue appears to have arisen because the preelection campaigning by the rival factions was more ardent than the occasion seemed to warrant. A majority of members evidently considered fiat since Mr. John Brownlee, one of the two nominees for the presidency, had never been a member of the society, the retiring president, Mr. Arthur O’Connor, should be re-elected. Supporters of Mr. Brownlee allege that a lobby was conducted on behalf of Mr. O’Connor and similar accusations are made by Mr. O’Connor’s supporters. Human nature being what it is, some members of the Australian News and Information Bureau and of the ConsulGeneral’s office, found themselves in opposite camps over this issue; but any illwill which was generated in the heat of the election will, I feel confident, have been dissipated by now. In any event, it is considered that an out-of-office difference of opinion between individual members of different Government offices would in no way impair Australia’s prestige or the effectiveness of her representation in the United States of America.
Public Service: Staffs.
y. - On the 5th March last, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson) asked questions regarding employment in the Commonwealth Public Service1 as follows : -
I now inform the honorable member as follows : -
Royal Navy: Disposal op Vessels.
– On the 10th ~ March last, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) a&ked a question concerning the reported transfer of certain British naval fleet units to foreign nations. The honorable member will appreciate, of course, that security requirements will not permit of a detailed elaboration of naval matters. The following information, however, is relevant: -
The cruiser Leander is to be scrapped as obsolete. The cruiser Aurora is being .transferred to the Chinese navy. Chinese personnel for ships- to be transferred are being trained in the United Kingdom. At various times sales or loans of British warships have been arranged with foreign nations, including China. Netherlands, France, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Burma, &c.
Western Australian Shipping. Services.
y. - On the 9th April, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) asked a question concerning the effect of the Queensland shipping position on that of Western Australia. I am now able to inform the honorable member that no ships, intended for Western Australia have been diverted from the Western Australian trade because of the Queensland programming.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 April 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19480415_reps_18_196/>.