14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following paperswere pre sented : -
Science and IndustryResearch Act - Ninth Annual Report of the Council for ScientificandIndustrial Research, for the year ended 30th June, 1935.
Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 100.
Use ofTelephone Facilities.
SenatorFOLL. -Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been directed to a statement, made by the Queensland Home Secretary, Mr. Hanlon, appearing into-day’s newspapers, to the effect that one of the difficulties with which parliaments had to contend in connexion with measures to suppress illegal betting in Queensland was the control exercised by wealthy interests and the use made of the telephone facilities provided by the Post and Telegraph Department? One big organization, carrying on illegal betting throughout the State, he said, had400 betting shops, and a revenue of £20,000, one-half of which went to the Postal Department in payment for telephone services. If so, has the Minister any comment to make?
– The suppression of illegal betting is the function, not of the Commonwealth, but of State police departments. Whenever any infringement of a State law is reported, appropriate action is taken by my department in order thatits facilities may not be used improperly by persons proved guilty of such offences. It is impossible for the Postal Department to discharge functions which properly belong to State police departments.
Appointment of General Manager
– I ask the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the fact that Mr. C. J. A. Moses, who has been appointed general manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, has had no experience of broadcasting except in his capacity as sporting commentator, and that he has been in the Commonwealth for only eight years, it is to bo understood that no Australians are eligible or available for the higher executive positions in the Broadcasting Commission?
– Order ! The honorable gentleman has expressed an opinion concerning the qualifications of the person appointed. He knows that questions addressed to Ministers must not contain expressions of opinion.
– It is not an expression of opinion; it is a statement of fact.
– In my view, it is an expression of opinion, and I suggest that the Minister, in his reply, should ignore the reference to the qualifications of the gentleman appointed.
– Appointments to the Australian Broadcasting Commission are not made by the Government. Parliament, as the honorable senator knows, delegated that responsibility to the Broadcasting Commission. The only matters over which the PostmasterGeneral has any control are the salaries of the general manager and the holders of other highly-paid executive positions.
– Cannot I get an answer to my question as to whether Australiansare available for those positions?
– I am not answering that portion of the honorable senator’s question.
– 13 the PostmasterGeneral in a position to state if information has been obtained in answer to my question, addressed to the Leader of the Senate on the 31st October, with regard to the sale to British and
Japanese interests of the iron ore deposit at Koolan Island, Yampi Sound ?
– No reply has yet reached me. I shall have inquiries made, and inform the honorable gentleman as soon as possible.
Statutoryrules 1935, No. 104. Senator COLLINGS.- I ask the PostmasterGeneral : What is themeaning of the following words contained in Statutory Rule No. 104 (amendment of the Wireless Telegraphy Regulations) : -
And will not plane any person in a position to control, either directly or indirectly, more than that number of stations in respect of the whole or portion of their activities, including programmes, technical services, commercial arrangements and management.
Do these words mean that a lecture or radio play or other item, cannot be transmitted over all the B class network of a State?
– The intention is to prevent a monopoly of broadcasting. It is not intended to affect the broadcasting of chain programmes. I have given the trade an assurance to that effect.
Section 92 : Appeal to Privycouncil
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister. upon notice -
– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answer : - 1, 2 and 3. The question as to the representation of the Commonwealth in the appeal to theP’rivy Council in the dried fruits case will receive consideration if, and when, the
Privy Council grunts leave to appeal from that decision. I understand that the petition for leave to appeal will not be heard for several weeks.
asked the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answers : -
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I have received from Mrs. Maxwell a letter of thanks for the resolution of sympathy and condolence passed by the Senate onthe occasion of the death of Mr. George Arnot Maxwell, K.C., M.P.
Debate resumed from the 8thNovember (vide page 1454), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the bill he now read a second time.
SenatorBROWN (Queensland) [3.13]. - When, on Friday,I asked for leave to continue my remarks, I was pointing out that, in the event of the imposition of sanctions after the18th November, there was every probability that Germany would continue to sell goods to Italy. I do not know whether the League of Nations, or any government associated with it, has received any guarantee from Herr Hitler that the Government of Germany will not follow such a course.
If Germany should continue to sell goods to Italy after sanctions are imposed, that would, in the opinion of all thinking men, nullify to a great extent the effect of sanctions. We know authoritatively that, during the Great War, goods were sold even by the Allies to Germany, the goods being forwarded through neutral countries. We also know that, during the Great War, representatives of the financial interests of Great Britain, France and Germany met in conference to deal with the granting of a loan to China, and to determine, among other things, the amount which each of these powers could lend. Thus, in a war in which the great European powers were involved, opportunities arose and were taken advantage of by the governments of the belligerent countries to sell goods to belligerents irrespective of alliances. If a similar opportunity should arise in this conflict, sections of private enterprise, which are devoid of national honour, will be prepared to act against their own nations in order to make profit.
– I agree with Senator Hardy ; I am not so foolish as to condemn every one simply because one individual takes advantage of the situation to follow his own policy. I have said on a previous occasion in this chamber, that one would not be justified in condemning Christianity, merely because a parson ran away with the wife of one of his parishioners.
– Order ! The honorable senator has used a. rather coarse expression.
– I do not agree, Mr. President, that my expression is coarse ; it is a simple analogyexpressed in simple language, and it deals with an event which has happened. The fall of one parson from the path of rectitude would notjustify us in condemning the Christian faith.
– The honorable senator has sufficient command of the English language to enable him to find a better analogy.
– I emphasize that the power exerted by economic interests in time of war is so great that, in the opinion of my party, it would be impossible for a few nations to impose sanctions on Italy should a great nation tike Germany, right at Italy’s door, be prepared to trade with Italy. [Extension of time granted.] Some sentimentalists believe that it is possible to impose sanctions so effectively against Italy that it will be rendered hors de combat. What will be the position in the event of Germany’s borders remaining open to Italy, and the British and French Governments and their supporters: in the League falling foul of Germany through the impositions of sanctions? Will it mean that Australia will be committed to another war with that country ? I would like the Minister representing the Government to answer such queries as these when replying to the debate.
– What alternative course does the honorable senator suggest the League of Nations should’ take in order to stop this Avar?
– I am not dealing with alternatives. In answer to a question earlier in this debate, I stated definitely that the Labour party would not support Australia’s participation in this struggle on the plea that Australia must, with other nations go to war in order to bring about peace. In 1914, we participated in a war to end war; now the cry is that we should go to war to bring about peace. In reply to Senator Hardy’s query, I point out that, because of the defection of Germany and Japan from the League of Nations, and because America is not a member of the League, the situation, so far as Australia’s allegiance to the League is concerned, has changed considerably during the last few years. To-day it is not right that Australia should be committed to take up a stand with Great Britain and France in the imposition of sanctions against Italy, because the League of Nations has not the. power to enforce its desires. Were Germany, the United States of America and Japan members of the League of Nations and committed to sanctions, Italy would be confronted by a combination of great powers against which it could not stand. But the interests of the great powers in some respects are so opposed that unanimity among them is impossible. To some extent, I agree with the statements made by Mr. W.. M. Hughes in his book Australia and the War To-day. In condemning the League of Nations, the right honorable gentleman went so far as to say -
The old diplomacy was far from perfect.. It did not prevent all wars, but it did prevent a great many. It was attuned to the world as it realty is, and not to the world as it might be. If it had been operating to-day it would have been able to prevent the war between Abyssinia and Italy and international relations would have been much more stable.
I am inclined to agree with Mr. Hughes that sanctions will be ineffective unless supported by force.
– Does Mr. Hughes mention economic force in his book?
– He mentions both economic and military force. He says bluntly that a recalcitrant nation can be kept in check only by the application of force. The Labour party fears that Australia will again be embroiled in. a European squabble. Within a few weeks we may find’ that, instead of the imposition of sanctions bringing peace, it has involved Australia in a major conflict; that instead of collective security ensuring peace for Europe, the weakness of the League of Natrons will result in another world war.
– Why destroy the proposal until something to replace it is ready ?
– Unfortunately, the Labour party has not the numbers to defeat the Government’s proposal ; but it will continue to express views which it believes to be right. I am inclined to agree with Mr. Hughes that the old diplomacy could bring about a better result than is possible to a weak League of Nations. The right honorable gentleman goes further in his book when he points out that Italy is at war with Abyssinia to-day because of the weakness of the League of Nations in allowing Germany to re-arm. Germany is now one of the most powerful nations in Europe; and will be able to say “Yea “ or “ Nay “ to the world should ittake the field. I do not know whether,inthe event of war, Germany would side with Great Britain or with Italy; but one thing is certain - Hitler would ally Germany with the side which would confer the greatest benefit on the German nation. Before Germany enters the field it will weigh the possibilities in the balance.
– Did not every nation which participated in the Great War do that?
– The motives underlying the actions of nations are not fundamentally different from those which underlie the actions of individuals, including electors.
– I ask the honorable senator not to include me in his references to mob psychology.
– I was replying to an interjection by Senator Dein; but I now say that Senator Arkins, like every other honorable senator, is affected by mob psychology.
– Some are more affected by it than are others.
– That is so. Some day mob psychology may not be so potent a force as it is to-day. Those honorable senators who are interested in mob psychology should read a book on the subject by the French writer Le Bou. The situation in Europe may be likened to an international game of chess: one move, and the whole situation may be changed. The game is being played secretly, and we can follow its progress only by what we read in the newspapers. Members of this Parliament know only what the Government allows them to know. I have no doubt that for some time past messages have passed freely between Italy, France, Great Britain and Australia in relation to the situation in Europe. An interchange of views regarding the European situation is constantly taking place between Germany, France and Britain. These nations arc playing for high stakes, and we are wondering from day to day which side Germany will join. According to the Melbourne Herald of yesterday, efforts are being made by Germany, behind the back of the League of Nations, and in collusion with France and Britain, to bring about a tripartite agreement, apart altogether from sanctions.
According to the press, Germany is anxious that article 16 of the Covenant of the League should be eliminated, so that it could co-operate with France and Britain in the establishment of armed peace in the European camp.
– But Australia has subscribed to article 16 since the inception of the League.
– No doubt an opportunity will be afforded later to the honorable senator to express his views on this all-important subject.
– Does the honorable senator agree with the leader of his party that Russia threw democracy to the winds when it subscribed to the imposition of sanctions against Italy?
– The honorable senator has presumably read in the Sydney Morning Herald that those words were used by the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Curtin) ; but I do not know whether the statement was actually made, and until I am certain on the point. I do not intend to be drawn into an argument regarding it. I know that the Melbourne Herald has definitely said that there is a movement on foot to put Russia beyond the pale, and to link up Britain, France and Germany for the purpose of imposing peace on Europe, independently of the League of Nations.
– Supposing the Leader of the Labour party had made the statement to which I have referred, what would the honorable senator say?
– I shall not discuss that matter, but I shall be pleased to give the honorable senator an attentive hearing when he addresses us on the bill.
If the Parliament agrees to this measure, we shall establish a precedent which may involve Australia in every European dispute. We should not follow in the wake of the warring nations of the Old World, and consider it our duty to take sides actively in their many quarrels. The question we have to decide is not merely whether we support the application of sanctions, but, as some honorable senators opposite have admitted, whether we are to follow sanctions to their logical conclusion, and, if necessary, fight to the bitter end.
– Hear! Hear!
– I applaud the honorable senator for his frankness, but I do not admire the attitude of some members of his party who would have the public believe that the imposition of sanctions is the only issue involved. Senator Payne would fight to the bitter end, if necessary. He has the courage of his convictions. No doubt he is prepared to see Australia put it? hand to the sword, and carry on a conflict until a decisive result is obtained.
– Does the honorable senator wish Australia to disgrace itself?
– I regard that interjection as foolish. The Opposition has been trying to show that tho best policy for Australia to pursue is to avoid being embroiled in a European conflict. Time will show whether that policy is right or wrong. Why should we set up a precedent which must involve us ii. international disputes overseas?
– Some precedents are very necessary.
– Undoubtedly, but I am convinced that the Government has taken the wrong path in precipitately plunging Australia into the trouble over Abyssinia.
– Would it be right for Australia to break the Covenant of the League?
– As a sovereign nation, it could have notified the League that it desired to take no part in. the dispute, because its policy is one of peace. The Government, however, has decided to commit Australia to participation to the limit of its powers, even probably to the despatch of troops abroad.
– That is a gross misrepresentation, because military sanctions are not involved in the consideration of this measure.
– I have been trying to point out that the imposition of economic sanctions against Italy would undoubtedly lead in the end to military action, and that there would be every probability of Australia being embroiled in a war with Italy, and, possibly, other countries. The imposition of the sanctions for which this bill provides would undoubtedly be resented by Italy to such an extent that Mussolini, who has trained millions of men for war, would throw down the gauntlet, and pit his forces against Britain and Prance. The Canberra Times of to-day publishes a cable from Rome in which the temper of II Duce is plainly revealed. Like the mouse who got drunk on whisky and defiantly cried “Now bring out your cats”, Mussolini, drunk with power, believes that Italy can fight the world.
– The honorable senator is prepared to let him do it.
– No. I believe, with the Premier of Queensland (Mr. Forgan Smith), that the control of Abyssinia is not worth the life of one good Australian. “Why was not the control of Manchukuo worth thousands of Australian lives? Not a word of protest was uttered by honorable senators supporting the Government when the Japanese penetrated Manchuria, and when the Gran Chaco dispute occurred. But now that Great Britain and Italy, who for years have been discussing the economic partition of Abyssinia, are ranged against each other, Australia is prepared, practically without discussion in this Parliament, to throw in its lot with the League of Nations merely because Britain says that that would be the proper procedure. The terms under which Italy is prepared to make peace have not been debated in this chamber or in the House of Representatives, and we have not been given an opportunity to say whether we stand for or against Italy in this dispute. To-day I gave notice of a question relating to the conditions on which Italy is prepared to cease hostilities. The Government, undoubtedly acting within its powers, has agreed to a certain procedure, but the Sanctions Bill is only a formality. The measure is brought before Parliament and honorable senators debate it, but its passage is assured. The Government might as well bc Mussolini, so far as Parliamentary control of its actions is concerned.
– Parliament could defeat the hill if it wished ?
– Yes; but the Government has already committed this country, not only to the application of economic sanctions, but practically to military sanctions, which may lead to universal disruption and war. The trouble in Europe will spread like wild- fire, and honorable senators will have no say in preventing Australia from becoming involved. War will be upon us possibly before honorable senators realize it; and doubtless they will then offer the excuse that they approved only of economic sanctions and not of military sanctions.
– What is the opinion of the British Labour party?
– I refer the honorable senator to my speech on Friday, when I stated that quite a number of persons in the Labour movement throughout the world agree with the attitude of the Australian Labour party toward sanctions. We have adopted a definite policy on many vital matters, which is not acceptable to Labour organizations in other parts of the world. As a boy [ lived in the Old Country, and I know that the British Labour party was partial to the international outlook. Its members were very friendly to foreigners, regardless of nation or colour, who visited their hospitable shores. They had no conception of the White Australia principle, which they regard as being utterly wrong. In the present circumstances, the British Labour party’s outlook on sanctions is international; but because it considers that the policy of the League of Nations is right, that does not influence the Australian Labour party. In approaching this subject we have given consideration to possible future developments. If Australia is committed to act in accordance with the League’s decision to apply sanctions, a precedent will be established which may react against us when the White Australia principle or some other principle dear to Australia, is discussed by the League. Rightly or wrongly wo believe that the Government has made a mistake in this matter, and we, as a party, are opposed to sanctions. We are not against any procedure which will bring about peace in the world, but we do object to an action taken by a few nations and likely to cause another war in Europe.
In conclusion, I ask honorable senators to give every credit to members of the Labour party, as public men, for speaking sincerely on this matter. We desire to do the best for Australia; we hope that we are right; and we hope that the Commonwealth will not have to suffer any serious consequences as a result of the Government’s mistake. We are as good and loyal Australians as anybody in the community, doing what we think is right in the best interests of Australia. While believing in the defence of this country, we consider that Australia, in view of its situation, would be better advised not to be embroiled in any European controversy, and that it should devote its energies to building up a worthy nation within its own boundaries.
.- I support this bill for the simple reason that, for good or evil, Australia has been a member of the League of Nations from its inception. If there has been one section of the community that has been almost fanatical in its support of the League, it has been the Labour party. When the League has been dealing with matters of world importance, no organization has been more ready to send delegates overseas to participate in the discussions. When any criticism of the League has been offered by members of Parliament or by public men, the foremost to champion it have been members of the Labour party. Yet on the first occasion that the League finds if necessary to give effect to the Covenant the members of the Australian Labour party are shirking their obligations by declining to support the undertaking which Australia, in common with the other members of the League, has given. On Friday last, when Senator Brown said that he was opposed to the imposition of sanctions, I asked, by interjection, if the honorable senator believed that Australia should withdraw from the League. He declined to answer. I now ask the honorable senator if he believes that Australia should d’odge its obligations by withdrawing from the League?
– The honorable senator is now speaking of dodging obligations.
– If honorable senator.? opposite have studied the Covenant and followed the work undertaken at numerous conferences of the League, they must know that provision is made for the imposition of sanctions against any member of the League which does not comply with the Covenant. Senator Brown, as a former champion of the League, knows that if a member nation commits a breach of the Covenant, it can be declared an aggressor and punished as such. Yet while alleging to support the principles of the League, Senator Brown and those with whom he is associated suggest that on the first occasion the League finds it necessary to act Australia should not honour its obligations. From one end of Australia to the other, sections of the Labour party have advocated that Australia should not support the imposition of sanctions. There may be some justification for opposition from those who have opposed the League ot who have been only lukewarm supporters; but every member of this chamber, including honorable senators opposite, who has championed this organization, should, now that it is compelled to act, support it. Honorable senators opposite know what membership of the League implies, and must have realized long ago that a time would come when the League would find it necessary to act against an aggressor. Are we to believe that during the period in which honorable senators opposite have supported the League they have been giving only lip service to it and that they intended all along that when support was expected Australia should shirk its responsibilities? Has their support been given merely to allow delegates to partake in joy-rides to Geneva ? When trouble arises, are we, as Senator Sampson would say, to retire te our “funk-holes”?
– And at a time when the League needs the support of all its members.
– Exactly. No party in Australia derives greater strength from uniform action on the part of its members than does the Labour party. Woe betide the member of that party who acts contrary to a decision of a majority reached in the caucus room. Any nation which for sixteen years has supported the League of Nations and now refuses to honour its obligations has committed an act of international “ scabbing “. Honorable senators opposite who speak so freely of “scabbing” in connexion with political and industrial matters should support th” action which Australia as a signatory of the Covenant is taking. I have never been an enthusiastic supporter of the
League, but I believe that Australia, having supported the principle of the League for the last sixteen years, should not be so cowardly as to attempt to evade its obligations. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) who accused the Government and its supporters of warmongering said that we desire to plunge this country into war. Several members of the Government and many of its supporters have been on active service, and knowing the horrors of war are not likely to assist in involving Australia in another war if it can be honorably avoided. The Council of the League of Nations having declared that one of its members had committed an act of unprovoked aggression against a fellow member steps must be taken to impose penalties upon the aggressor. If Senator Brown really believes that the probable effect of the application of sanctions against Italy will be an extension of the war he should carry his argument to its logical conclusion, and advocate that Australia should immediately withdraw from the League of Nations. But he does not go so far as that. Apparently he considers that we should retain -our membership while things arc going smoothly, but immediately difficulty is encountered, other nations may deal with it; Australia should evade its responsibility.
– The honorable senator is not stating my view correctly.
– That is the only conclusion possible from the remarks of the honorable senator.
We all deeply regret the present unsettled state of world affairs. It is deplorable that two member States should be at war despite all the efforts of the League to avert hostilities. I am one of those who believe that the League will never be in a position to discharge its obligations to the full until all the major nations are members.
– What the League has done in the present dispute is an important step in the right direction.
– It is, and it is deplorable that Italy, after warlike preparations extending over several months should, bv an act of aggression, so profoundly disturb the foreign policies of other members of the League as to make possible another world war. WhenI visited Italy about 25 years ago, the people of that country were facing extraordinary difficulties due to dislocation of industries and political unrest. It was my privilege to revisit that great country in 1930, and again early in the present year when, as a member of the Empire Party Delegation, I touched at Italian ports on my way to Great Britain. I was greatly impressed by the remarkable changes for the better in 1930, and I realized the extraordinary work of re-construction that had been carried out under the direction of Signor Mussolini. There had been a notable improvement of the living conditions of the people, a better type of public buildings had been erected inthe more important cities and towns, and the harbour facilities at Naples and other ports had been brought up to date. One cannot spend any time in Italy to-day without acknowledging that Mussolini has been a tremendous driving force and power for good to the Italian nation. It is, therefore, regrettable that, during the last few months, he should have marred his splendid record by action which has plunged his country into a war, the consequences of which to the world, as well as to Italy, cannot be foreseen. 1 am, however, hopeful that the imposition, at the instance of the League of Nations, of economic and financial sanctions will force the Italian people to realize that their ruler is out of step with the rest of the world. ‘ It is hoped that the action taken by the League will eventually lead to a cessation of hostilities.
Senator Brown had something to say in criticism of the League for not having prevented Germany and Italy from rearming. It is easy to criticize. I should like Senator Brown to indicate what action the League could have taken to prevent Germany from re-arming, because Germany, it must be remembered had left the League. What power could the League, or individual nations like Great Britain have exerted to prevent Mussolini from converting Italy into what is virtually an armed camp, or to prevent France from increasing its military strength by an alteration of its conscription law ? The only way in which any individual nation could prevent another nation from doing any of these things would be to declare war and apply military force. Senator Brown has told us that he is against war, and is opposed to the application of economic or financial sanctions against Italy because of the risk of war, which such action entails. Yet, almost in the next breath, the honorable senator criticizes the League of Nations and Great Britain for not having prevented Germany or Italy from rearming.
– The view I expressed is also held strongly by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) who, until a few days ago, was a prominent memberofthe Government. He declared that if the League of Nations had done the right thing when Germany re-armed there would not now be war between Italy and Abyssinia.
– I am not responsible for any statement that may have been made by the right honorable member for North Sydney. I ask what power other than armed force could have been brought to bear by the League of Nations, or by any individual nation, to prevent any other Member State from increasing its expenditure on defence. Let me remind Senator Brown that the newspapers this morning report that the Commonwealth defence vote is to be increased this year by £2,000,000. Does the honorable senator approve of that increase?
– I certainly shall not vote against it.
– If the honorable senator thinks that the League of Nations should have prevented Germany from re-arming, does he also consider that it should take some action to prevent Australia from increasing its defence vote by £2,000,000? Does he think that a Member State should protest to the Council of the League” against this proposal by Australia?
– They would be fools if they did. My party believes in the adequate defence of Australia.
– Does not the honorable senator concede that the governments of other countries also believe in adequate defence measures?
– That is their business. I am concerned only with the defence of Australia.
– Does not the honorable senator realize that as Australia is a signatory to the League Covenant, what Australia does in the way of defence might well be the business of the League, just as Australia- . accepts its share of responsibility for what other Member States might do? There was no protest from Senator Brown’s party when Australia became a signatory to the League Covenant.
– Cannot the honorable senator comprehend that the situation may have changed*
– Then apparently the honorable senator’s argument is this: “While things are going along smoothly and while there is no prospect of trouble we shall continue our membership of the League of Nations, pay our. subscription regularly, send our delegates to the Assembly and to conferences of the International Labour Office, but whenever there is the slightest risk of danger, Australia must take no part in League affairs.
I agree with the statement made by the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) on Friday to which exception was taken by honorable senators opposite, that for Australia to shirk its responsibility in connexion with the application of sanctions against Italy would savour of cowardice, in view of the fact that for sixteen years we have sent our delegates to Geneva to discuss with the. representatives of other Member Skates measures to promote world peace.
In his speech on Friday the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) spoke of a land-hungry world seeking for expansion, and of Australia as an empty continent. I invite the honorable senator to consider what those landhungry nations would think of us if we shirked our responsibility on the very first occasion when honouring of it may expose us to risk. I agree with the honorable senator that this empty continent is one of the richest prizes that tempts a land-hungry world. Therefore, we should be steadfast in our resolve to stand by our partners in the League at a time when some show of firmness may have the desired result, namely, the maintenance of world peace. I emphasize, also, that if we are to do what is expected of us, we must remain part and parcel of the British Empire and stand solidly behind the Mother Country in this crisis.
Senator Collings deplored the fact that Italy was attacking Abyssinia, but. admitted that it was in pursuance of Mussolini’s desire for territorial expansion. Senator Collings pointed out that this attack by Italy had arisen from the fact that Italy’s increase of population demanded expansion of its territory, and, in the next breath, he claimed that Australia should take no action to prevent Italy from invading and conquering another country with the object of establishing there a colonial empire. Because of Australia’s peculiar position, we should be the first to stand beside Great, Britain and its supporters in this dispute to prevent Italy from walking into Abyssinia and taking what territory it needs for colonization purposes. I reiterate that, because of the temptation this country presents to a nation bent on acquiring colonies, Australia should be the first to protest against predatory action on the part of any nation. I believe that there has been much provocation in the present dispute. A number of frontierincidents occurred between Ethiopians and Italians, and Italy apparently had certain grounds for complaint against Abyssinia. The report laid on the table of the Library a fortnight ago by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), in which the Italian delegate’s case for Italy and Abyssinia’s reply to it are set out, contains convincing proof that international trouble has been smouldering on those frontiers for many months past. However, no one for a moment would agree with the methods adopted by Italy to settle the dispute. If I had any criticism to level against the League of Nations, it would be that for six or seven months it allowed ItalY. in full view of the nations of the world, to make preparations for this attack. When I passed through the Suez Canal early in March last, I saw troopship after troopship conveying from Italy to Abyssinia, troops, ammunition, fodder, and implements of war. Thus, month after month, under the very eyes of the League, Italy prepared for this attack. I believe that, when this trouble is settled - and I hope peace will be established soon - -the League will have so to organize itself as to enable it to take even stronger action in. international disputes than it is taking in the present instance; it will require to be able to prevent such disputes from developing to the extent that the ItaloAbyssinian trouble has developed. Because of tho advanced stage which has been reached in the present conflict, tremendous difficulties will have to be surmounted before peace call be arranged. Already Italy lias captured thousands of square miles of Ethiopian territory, and when the time comes to consider peace terms, Abyssinia, no doubt, will demand compensation for the losses it has suffered, at the hands of Italy. On the other hand, it will be difficult to persuade Italy to relinquish any of the territory it has already captured. If the League is to be truly effective in promoting the peace of the world, it must be enabled to deal effectively with disputants before hostilities actually commence. I repeat that, because of the preparations made by Italy for this conflict, every one was aware that an attack on Abyssinia, was impending. It was obvious that Italy was not transporting hundreds of thousands of troops to the borders of Abyssinia simply for the purpose of protecting neighbouring Italian colonies. Unless the League is enabled to enforce its will immediately upon a nation that commits a breach of the Covenant, it will rapidly disintegrate. I remind honorable senators that many of the smaller members of the League joined the League expressly for their own protection.. They realized that, if they remained outside such a body as the League, there would be nothing to prevent stronger neighbours, if the latter so desired, from overwhelming them. They joined the League much from the same motives as actuate a person in taking out an insurance policy; they wanted to ensure that they would be protected in the event of any attack being made upon them by a more powerful nation. It must be a sad thought for the weaker members of the League that one of their number, Abyssinia, is being invaded by one of the stronger members of the League. Under these circumstances one’ can readily understand why tho smaller members of the League are unanimously standing behind Britain, France and Russia in the imposition of these sanctions.
Members of the Opposition have been inclined to question the diplomacy of Great Britain in this dispute. Whether we think that British diplomacy has been wise or not, we must recognize that the Mother Country, throughout the history of the League, has placed all its cards on the table, and all its efforts have been for the promotion of world peace. It has been prepared to take risks itself in order to achieve that object; it has remained disarmed in the face of an armed world, thus giving an example to other nations of what they should do in the interests of world peace. In its endeavours to defend the smaller nations of the world it has never paused to consider what nation its efforts in that direction might offend. Because of its record as a member of the League, I would be one of the last to question any action that Great Britain has taken in the present negotiations. I .hope .it will not be long before the efforts of the League bring about a cessation of hostilities. “Whatever mistakes the League has made, and whatever may be our individual opinions of the effectiveness of the methods it has adopted to restore peace, let us remember that those nations which are members of the League at the present time are sincerely striving for world peace. Britain, Russia, France, and the smaller members of the League have only one purpose, and that is to stop the present hostilities as soon as possible, and prevent them from extending. My earnest hope is that this measure will play at least a small part in restoring peace.
– The right honorable the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) put the case in favour of the passage of this measure very fairly and clearly before honorable senators. I regret that members of the Opposition have approached it as though we were discussing a declaration of war. When the League was formed many of us had grave doubts regarding the success that would attend its efforts, but all of us were at least unanimous in the hope that it would accomplish its main object - the maintenance of the peace of the world. As a citizen of Australia, I claim that we are doubly bound to the League: first, as an integral part of the British Empire, and, secondly, because we had the honour to be a signatory to that notable agreement. However, to-day there are murmurings among many Australians, who would like Australia to withdraw from the League. These people apparently are prepared to refuse to carry out the solemn obligation to which this country subscribed in that agreement. If we adopted such a course we would prove conclusively that all our gestures and efforts in the cause of peace, and all our talk of high international ideals at the time of the formation of the League, and since, have been only lip service. In passing this measure, we shall place on our statute-book legislation unprecedented in the history of this country. Whenever previously legislation of this character has been enacted it has been for the institution of a blockade by nations which, at the time, were involved in war. On this occasion, while they arc still at peace, certain nations are striving, by the imposition of economic and financial sanctions, to compel the belligerents to settle their dispute by other than armed force.
– But the war is on.
– Not so far as Australia is concerned; we have not yet made a single gesture that would indicate that we are likely to take part in this conflict. The settling of differences between nations by other than force of arms is the logical outcome of international law, as it has developed in Europe and elsewhere, during recent years. The League of Nations has been established for sixteen years, and to let pass this opportunity of settling an international dispute, without exploring every article of the League Covenant, would be a confession, not only of failure, but also, and worse still, of a lack of moral courage to put into operation those provisions which might solve the present conflict. T do not admit that this bill constitutes an act of war. In viewing the present conflict and the action which the League has taken to stop hostilities, I stand on article 11 of the League of Nation’s Covenant, which says that any threat of war is the concern of the whole of the League, and the League may take any action that may be deemed wise and effectual to preserve world peace. Australia’s action in supporting the imposition of sanctions cannot be construed in any sense to indicate a desire on our part for open hostilities. Argument to the contrary is as unreasonable as would be a contention that a baton charge on a mob engaged in destruction constitutes a riot on the part of the police. We must not forget that, if we refuse to resist aggression, we allow the brutal elements of the world to become more powerful than before. It is most unwise to stir our people by insinuations that, because some of us who are members of this Parliament have passed the age of military service, we are forcing our young men into the shambles of war. Those who fought in the Great War have such a realization of the horrors of war that they seldom mention them. Many of us have memories that we do not wish awakened. I ask honorable senators to reflect on the position of the world to-day had the Allies not been victorious in the Great War. All thinking people know that that war was forced upon us, and to-day they are seeking to avoid a repetition of the horrors of 1914-18 by supporting the League of Nations; they are doing everything possible to avoid another world conflict. Great Britain has earned the right to be regarded as the leader of civilization. In the past Great Britain has at times resorted to arms in the interests of civilization; but to-day it is putting up almost a singlehanded fight to maintain the peace of the world by conciliatory measures. Can wo who are bound to Britain, not only by ties of Empire, but also by ties of blood, ignore the traditions of our people? Surely that national honour and integrity of which we are so proud must debar us from even the thought of deserting the Old Country at this critical period in its history. In my opinion, there is only one course to adopt and, therefore, I shall not labour the question. Should the League of Nations fail in its efforts torestore peace on. this occasion, for many years to come might will again be right, and the building of any peace organization will bo postponed indefinitely. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) expressed a pious wish that the nations would establish a peace council instead of a war council. The League of Nations is the greatest council for peace that the world has ever known ; it only requires the support of the peoples of the world to make its efforts successful. On a number of occasions I have listened with interest to the Leader of the Opposition, and have frequently agreed with the humanitarian principles which he has expounded. On this occasion, however, I disagree with the honorable gentleman for, although his argument may have been sincere, his speech from beginning to end was merely sound and fury, signifying nothing.
– I shall not deal at length with the bill, or elaborate upon the circumstances which necessitated its introduction. Suffice it to say that, the League of Nations has been designed to support and strengthen the greatest and noblest conception of the human mind. The League was born in a sea of human suffering and it had not long been in existence before it was called upon to nurse and tend a sick and tottering civilization. Unfortunately, like all man-made things, the League has made mistakes; but who will say that those mistakes were of sufficient magnitude to warrant its destruction ?
– No one.
– Then why does the Labour party adopt an attitude towards the League which, if followed generally would inevitably smash the League and destroy the ideals which it has set up?
– The Labour party believes in maintaining the League, and making a success of it.
– All sections of the British Empire, and a vast majority of all the signatories to the Covenant of the League, agree that the League is entitled to support in the stand it has taken in the dispute between Italy and Abyssinia. It lias remained for a small group of “little islanders,” known as the Australian Labour party, to take a stand which would, if generally accepted, destroy thi1 ideal that the world has set up. Other sections of British people have looked into the future and seen civilization tottering on the brink of an inferno, and have pinned their faith to the League of Nations as the only hope for peace. The Austraiian Labour party has also looked into the future, but, with blurred vision, it can see nothing but the Australian Labour party. It is out of its depth and floundering in a sea of hopeless bewilderment.
– The Labour party has suffered from blurred vision for more than twenty years.
– During the sixteen years that the League of Nations has been in existence, it has had the undivided rapport of the Australian Labour party, whose representatives in this Parliament have not objected to considerable sums of money being voted towards its support.
– They will continue to support the League. The honorable senator is misrepresenting the attitude of the Labour party.
– Why does the Labour party now abandon the policy it has followed for many years ? It would appear that its support of the League in the past has been only lip service. The Covenant of the League is not new, and the Labour party should have known long before the present trouble between Italy and Abyssinia developed, what the Covenant involved. Strangely enough, only recently has the Labour party learned that sanctions may have serious consequences.
Now that the League is on its trial, now that it has reached the cross roads in its history, now that the sincerity of the signatories to its Covenant is put to the test, and now that the worth of its true friends is revealed, this is the time when the Labour party chooses to adopt an attitude which, if generally adopted would mean the destruction of the League. I remind the Opposition that the destruction of the League means the destruction of its subsidiary organizations also.
What the ultimate result of the present crisis will be is a matter for conjecture. The Opposition may be right in its contention that the action taken by the League must inevitably lead to war; but, on the other hand, it may be wrong. We all sincerely hope that the conflict will not extend. Time only can tell. The League came into . existence in order to prevent war. Failing to prevent war, it seeks next to limit and localize the conflict. On this occasion the League did fail to prevent war between Italy and Abyssinia. It is now taking the next step and is attempting to limit the war and bring it to an early conclusion. Although this bill has been introduced to that end, the Opposition has been loud in condemning it on the ground that sanctions must inevitably lead to war.
– Sir John Latham is of the same opinion.
– Time only will tell whether Sir John Latham was right. The fact remains that when the League Covenant was prepared it was not thought that sanctions would inevitably lead to war. Had that been the belief at the time provision would have been made in the Covenant for financial, economic and military sanctions to apply simultaneously. The Covenant, however, provides for the gradual application of sanctions. Whether financial and economic sanctions will be effective is, I admit, a matter of conjecture.
– The Leader of the Opposition believes in enforcing industrial sanctions.
– Members of the Opposition owe their election to this Parliament to the acceptance of. the principle of sanctions in industrial affairs.
– The honorable senator knows that lie could not enjoy his present security unless the hungry and dispossessed in the community were controlled by trades unions.
– I admire trade unions, and agree with the principle underlying them. But I submit that if sanctions are right in industrial affairs, they are right in international affairs also.
It has been said that the League of Nations did not apply sanctions against Japan when that nation invaded China a few years ago. Everyone admits that on that occasion the League made a mistake.
– The mistake was not admitted at the time.
– All man-made organizations make mistakes, and the League has not been an exception. The result of that mistake is seen in Mussolini’s attitude towards the League to-day. Is it not clear that the failure of the League to take action against Japan inspired Italy to attack Abyssinia ? There are good grounds for believing that before another bully nation contemplates an attack against a weaker nation, it will have a different conception of the League from that of Mussolini, who thought that as the League had failed once in its duty, it would fail again. He thought that every party and every nation was of the same kidney as the Australian Labour party; but he has slipped badly.
– He has not slipped so badly as the honorable senator thinks, for his troops are winning all along the line.
– He has a long way to go yet, and time alone will tell whether or not his troops will prevail. The Opposition has made a strong point of the failures of the’ League, but has not had one word of commendation to say regarding its many successes. Honorable senators would do well to ask themselves what is to take the place of the League if that body be destroyed. The Opposition has -not told us how to avert the calamity that confronts civilization. It shows a willingness to throw away the substance, and to grasp at the shadow. Senator Collings touched upon many matters, but did not deal with the provisions of the bill. He spoke of the horrors of war; but is not the last great conflict fresh in our memories? What is required is advice as. to how to avert another such disaster. What would the honorable senator set up -in place of tho League of Nations ? He says, in effect : “ Away with the League !”
– Did I say that?
– I tried to read something else into the speeches by Senators Collings and Brown, but the only inference which I could draw from their remarks was that they wished to smash the League. They said: “Away with the League! We do not want it.”
– I rise to a point of order. The last statement made by the honorable senator is deliberately inaccurate, and I ask that it be withdrawn. [ have never said : “ Away with the League!” I have never condemned it. 1 intend to support it in this chamber at every opportunity.
– If the honorable senator’s remark is offensive to the Loader of the Opposition, I ask that it be withdrawn.
– J said that the only inference to be drawn from the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition was that he meant : “ Away with the League !”
– I ask for an unqualified withdrawal of the remark.
– Senator Dein did not attribute to the Leader of the Opposition the express words complained of, and therefore they need not be withdrawn.
– I am accustomed to this sort of thing. It does not worry me.
– The honorable senator read extracts from certain newspapers, some of which are reputable. He particularly quoted at some length the remarks of a writer who, in 1921, deplored the fact that there was a race of armaments, and appealed to the leaders of thought in order that some steps might be taken to check it. The League of Nations had its birth in the year 1919, and although we had hoped for better results than have been obtained by it, its task ha3 been exceedingly difficult Yet it has come through its ordeal fairly well. What result other than a race of armaments can be expected if we smash the League? What would the Opposition give us in its place? The alternative offered by the Labour party to the collective security obtained through the League is a policy of “ adequate defence,” but exactly what that term means has never been explained.
– We have both the League and armaments race to-day.
– We have both because, in my opinion, there are traitors to the League itself. While there are traitors abroad and traitors in Australia
– To whom does the honorable senator refer? If he does not say it here, I am sure he will do so elsewhere.
– If the cap fits, I do not desire to prevent the honorable senator from wearing it. There is sufficient weight of testimony on that point without having to quote opinions such as that given by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn.)
The bill states definitely that no financial assistance of any kind shall be given to Italy, yet the Leader of the Opposition objects to it. The Labour party would, presumably, allow all possible financial assistance to be given to Italy. It would not prevent any individual or society from forwarding money to that country to assist it in its attack on Abyssinia. The Opposition says that it does not want the bill. The only deduction to be drawn from that declaration is that it is prepared to help Italy in its war on Abyssinia. The Opposition goes even further than that. The bill prevents the export of arms to Italy, and as the Labour party objects to the bill, ii must be willing to allow any armament or munition firm to send warlike material to Italy. The bill prohibits imports into Australia from Italy. That is a very proper provision, because the money which Italy would receive for its goods would be used in the purchase of warlike material. The Labour party objects to the provision, and, therefore, says, in effect: “Let’ Italian imports come in. With the proceeds Italy can purchase the warlike material it requires in its attack on Abyssinia.”
– No member of the Labour party has ever said that. The honorable senator cannot go on lying his way through the argument. He knows he is lying!
– I ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. Having said it, I have all the satisfaction T want.
– The remark must be withdrawn without qualification.
– I withdraw any words which you, Mr. President, ask me to withdraw.
-I was merely pointing out that the object of the bill is to curb the actions of Italy by the application of financial and ecomonic sanctions. As the Labour party opposes the bill, the only inference to be drawn from its attitude is that it is prepared to help Italy against Abyssinia.
– I say definitely that the honorable senator is a liar!
– The Chair will not tolerate this repetition of disorder. I ask Senator Collings to withdraw and apologize to Senator Dein.
– I will not apologize. You can do what you like.
– I think Senator Dein has gone a good deal “ over the odds”.
– I appeal to the Leader of the Opposition, to whom we look to set an example. He has repeated his most offensive remark, and in doing so, has deliberately set himself at defiance of the Chair. I again ask him to withdraw and apologize.
– I withdraw, butI will not, in any circumstances, apologize; and I will take any thing that is coming to me for it. Senator Dein has been allowed to say things which reflect on my honour and truthfulness.
– If we had said such things we should have been bundled out.
– In deference to you, Mr. President, I willingly withdraw what I have said, but I will not apologize to this man.
– I appeal to the Leader of the Opposition to realize that in this chamberhe must accept the statements of a fellow senator in good faith, and in the spirit in which they are uttered, I urge him to realize his position, and to set an example of decorum and good sense. I now ask him to withdraw and apologize to Senator Dein.
– I will not do it. I withdraw and apologize to you sir, but not to him. He should have been pulled up long ago.
– The Leader of the Opposition considers that Senator
Dein has placed a wrong construction on a portion of his speech, and since he has apologized to the Senate, I am prepared to accept his apology in that form.
– I regret that the Leader of the Opposition has adopted his present attitude. I did not reflect on him personally, but on the judgment of the Labour party, which’ is prepared to do what, in my opinion, would amount to assisting Italy in its attack on Abyssinia. I agree wholeheartedly with the course of action taken by the League of Nations to hamper the operations of Italy. The bill gives me an opportunity to register my protest against the Italian attitude, and I regret that every section in this chamber does not stand behind the Government and the League by supporting this legislation.
Senator Collings has drawn my attention to a book written by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), from which Senator Brown quoted extensively in regard to sanctions. If he endorses the sentiments expressed by the writer, he will have no alternative but to cast his vote in support of this bill as did the right honorable member referred to. I trust that the regrettable war in Abyssinia will soon be terminated, and that it will be unnecessary for the Government to bring down further legislation on this subject.
– Little did we in Western Australia reck about ten years ago when we formed the League of Nations Union there that we should live to hear such an awful verbal exhibition as that to which we have been treated in this Parliament by members of the Labour party. Amongst the most prominent founders of that union, the members of which held varied political beliefs, were gentlemen eminent in the Labour organizations. Now that the first concrete effort made by the League in the interests of peace affects our own nation, we find that the opposition to the application of the sanctions is practically confined to prominent members of the Labour party. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this situation is that the members of the Opposition are only fair-weather friends of this instrument for world peace. The League itself it the only protective barrier which exists at present to reduce the risk of war. The barrier may contain holes and be weak in places, but the fact remains that the League is an active, instrument and the only alternative to resort to the clash of arms. To-day, any action that may possibly weaken the prop, should be avoided. To abandon the League would be to invite trouble, because it is the only means by which friction between the two belligerent nations can be reduced. The nations of the world, with few exceptions, have accepted the fact that Italy is the aggressor, and, if we are not prepared to apply the conditions laid down in tins bill, we must continue our trade relations with Italy. Perhaps the Opposition would like to see the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited works turning out munitions or military accoutrements to be consigned to Italy for use against the poor unfortunate Abyssinians. As Senator Dein has pointed out, if the Labour party votes against this bill, it will declare, in effect, that our present trade relations with Italy .shall continue,, and that we shall supply it with materials for war. I cannot understand the Labour party’s present attitude, because it has applied the expression “sanction” throughout its political activities. People are living in “Western Australia to whom the Labour party applied sanctions in 1917, because of their political beliefs, and a political vendetta continues against them.
– Vendetta ?
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Yes, a vendetta not only against the alleged culprit, but also against his family.
– And these people are the lovers of peace!
– It is a question, not of peace, but of the application of sanctions or restrictions, and in the case that I have in mind the restriction related to personal liberty. I am glad to note that the Federal Labour party is not expressing the opinion of the great majority of the individuals in the Labour movement. ‘So far as Australia is concerned there is no war, and no declaration of members of the Opposition can convince me that there will be a war between Italy and Australia. In my opinion the Labour party has overlooked the point that if you scratch an
Australian, you will find a Briton. The Parliamentary Labour, party is not interpreting the attitude of the moral courage of me Labour movement generally throughout Australia. Its political representatives are giving a one-sided view of sanctions, and are not speaking for that large concourse of Labour voters who are British to the backbone. The Labour Premier of Western Australia (Mr. Collier) is a believer in the League, and still considers that by the imposition of sanctions Australia can contribute something towards easing the present military situation in Europe. Other prominent Labour men hold similar opinions, and in this regard I propose to quote the family bible of Labour members of Parliament, the Labor Daily. As recently as the 20th and the 22nd August last, that eminent mouthpiece of Labour politics published this sentiment-
Another conflict similar to that of 1914-18 is unthinkable, but the rape of Abyssinia would represent a direct challenge by Italy to the entire system of collective security that must be met by effective application of economic and financial sanctions.
That opinion does not emanate from any so-called “ die-hard- tory ‘’ newspaper.
– Will the honorable senator show the cutting to the Leader of the Opposition?
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Gladly, but I doubt very much if his opinion can be altered.
– He could not call the honorable senator a liar for making that statement.
- I hope not, although he may think I am. But the fact remains that the expression is to be found in the Labor Daily, the organ of the Labour party in> New South Wales. Why the Labour party should attempt to overthrow thu solemn Covenant of the League, I cannot, understand. The very hand which signed on behalf of Australia that solemn declaration - the League Covenant - signed another’ solemn declaration, the sugar agreement. The gentleman whom Senator Brown is so fond of mentioning in this debate, the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, signed both of those instruments, and I suggest that if we can repudiate one, we can repudiate the other. Parham that would not suit honorable senators from Queensland!
– There will be an attempt to vote out the sugar agreement when it comes before this chamber, although the Government has already signed it.
– On that occasion perhaps Senator Brown will refrain from mentioning the name of Mr. Hughes. Out of the wealth of opinions expressed on this bill one thing stands out prominently in the present situation. I could not better express it than in the language used by the German Government recently when it paid a very high compliment to Britain, for having regained the leadership of the League, which was formerly held by France. I emphasize that this compliment has been paid to Great Britain by a recent enemy, for the work it has done in trying to maintain peace. This occasion should not be allowed to pass without mention being made of the excellent work that the British Minister for League Affairs, Mr. Anthony Eden, has performed at Geneva on behalf of world peace. He has striven for long months to find a way for the nations to compose their differences, and has been a master of patience; to his untiring efforts the people of Australia should pay tribute.
Another aspect which has appealed to me both before and during the discussion on this bill is the need for Australia to be prepared for any debacle such as that contemplated by the Opposition. Should its security be menaced Australia itself will require all the help the world can offer. Unfortunately, during the last few years Australians have not realized the low ebb at which the defences of this country stand. To the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes I would pay the compliment that at least he has done much in the last fortnight by the publication or his now famous book to cause the public to realize the acuteness of the. danger to which Australia is exposed through its lack of defence. I hope that this will be a reminder to the Australian people that it is high time to ensure that the Commonwealth is adequately defended - and defended by ourselves, without leaning too heavily, as we have done in the past, or.
Britain and the British Navy. We have a duty to our people which wemust shoulder, and i trust that, as a result of the discussion on this bill, we shall be a step nearer to the day when we shall be adequately protected. The defence policy of Australia should be revised, starting from the bottom, with the re-introduction of compulsory military training. The discipline and the training under that system were the finest that we have ever had in Australia, and until it is reintroduced, we shall encounter considerable difficulty in building up adequate defences. I commend the bill, becauseI feel sure that it will contribute towards a peaceful settlement of the European situation. It is an honest endeavour to carry out our solemn obligations as a consistent member of the League of Nations from its inception. The League is on trial, and we should do our share to help it in its time of trouble. Unfortunately, the Opposition seems to base its attitude on the two alleged failures of the League, in connexion with the Gran Chaco and Manchukuo wars. The former, as the Leader of the Senate mentioned, was an old and musty family quarrel, and could be ignored. The position in Manchukuo was entirely different because that country is nearer to Australia. Perhaps our friends in opposition would have liked the League to have intervened in that instance, and to have applied all kinds of economic financial and military sanctions to Japan, in which case they would be in a very sorry position to-day. The League may have failed in that it did not interfere in the Manchukuo dispute, but as an Australian I thank God that it did not. 1 commend the bill to honorable senators and express the hope that it may help to calm the European turmoil.
– I do not propose to traverse at length the amazing statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) in speaking on this bill, butI must say that I was pained and grieved at the extraordinary doctrines which he enunciated. If I deduce his meaning aright his remarks were pitiable and pathetic. The honorable senator said that because Australia is a sparsely populated country it could not defend itself andshouldbe kept out of these troubles.
– I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition said that Australia could not defend itself.
– I dispute the contention of the Leader of the Opposition that Australia cannot defend itself. Australia can, and will, defend itself if given an opportunity to do so. Australia is not the small and insignificant nation that the Leader of the Opposition would have us believe that it is. In this country to-day we have at least 2,000,000 men of fighting age. To the pathetic and pitiable doctrine that we must in all circumstances keep out of trouble I do not subscribe. When the honorable senator says that Australia should not participate in any European war, I ask him what we would think or say if Great Britain declared that it would not help Australia in the event of an invasion. We stand together or we fall together. During the Great War, Australia was defended in Gallipoli, Belgium, France and Palestine, just as surely as if our trenches had been cut across Commonwealthavenue in Canberra. We can, and will, defend Australia. Universal training is an adequate, necessary and effective means, and what is more it is truly democratic. I. do not subscribe for a moment to the doctrine thatwe are incapable of defending ourselves. Possibly if it came to a fight with tongues some honorable senatorswould be regarded as champions. We have shown that Ave are capable of playing a man’s part. Kipling says that -
No easy hopes or lies
Shall bring us to our goal:
But iron sacrifice
Of body, will and soul.
Thosewho think only of material things, of ample food, comfortable clothing, and ease, should study carefully those lines. The Leader of the Opposition almost made me weep, so fearful was the picture he painted. The inference to be drawn from the honorable senator’s remarkswas that some members of the Government are anxious to send men overseas to be butchered and maimed. He said that men weresent overseas during the Great War. No Australians were sent overseas to serve in that conflict. We were not sent;wewent of our own free will.I trust that I shall be pardoned if I intro duce a personal note. One of my kiddies was born on the day that war was declared. I went overseas when hewas a little chap three months old, and I did not see him again for several years. Do you think I wanted to go ? Politicians, writers, pedants, students and others may argue until the crack of doom as to the cause of the greatwar. I can give the reason why over 300,000 Australians felt it their duty to offer all they had, by putting their poor, frail bodies up against the mighty armies of a great disciplined power lusting forworld domination. Stripped of all camouflage, humbug and make-believe, the reasonwhy wewent was thatwe believed that mightwas not right, and never will be while free men inhabit the earth. That iswhywewent. We realized that if might were greater than right, Australia would not be safe. Wewanted Australia to remain a country inwhich men and women may live their lives according to their lights, so long as in so doing they do not inflict hardship upon others. That is whywe went. It is a false doctrine that we can repudiate our pledged word, act dishonorably, and still retain our selfrespect and the respect of other nations.
Hadwe been living in the good old days, or bad old days, whicheverwe may term them, the conflict between Italy and Abyssiniawould not have produced an international crisis. Abyssinia would have been invaded like many other African countries have been invaded, and there would have been just another colonialwar. Britain and France would have asserted their rights under the Tripartite Treaty of 1906, and Italywould have given the same assurance that it has now given that it would respect those rights. In the olden days this conflictwould not have concerned the world at large, but it does concern it to-day. Why? Because there is a League of Nations. By making the conflict itsown concern the League has made it the vital concern of all of its members. It is the League that has transformed what would have’ been a remote and local affair into a near and general problem. That being so, according to the Leader of the Opposition, we should be better off without the League. Has the League really had a chance? It emerged from the Great War when there seemed to be one supreme necessity - the prevention of another world war. Admittedly the League has met with some failures. It failed to avert or stop war in the Far East and in South America. It failed to avert war between Italy and Abyssinia; but it is now doing its best to prevent it from continuing. In any hostile criticism of the League let us be just. The Far East is a long way off. To have brought pressure to bear upon a great power such as Japan, which has absolute command of its own home waters, would have been exceedingly difficult, and very dangerous, especially to Great Britain, which has so much at stake in the Far East. Many argue that the war in the Far East could, and ought, to have been stopped by the League. I am not saying that those who so argued are wrong. I merely say that the effort would have been difficult and very dangerous. Moreover, we have no means to judge with any degree of certainty whether it would or would not have been possible to coerce the Japanese. The war in South America was fought between two relatively weak States - Paraguay and Bolivia. It was so far off and in a region so inaccessible that again interference by. the League would have been extremely difficult. There is also the Monroe doctrine and it is very doubtful whether the United States of America, or the South American States, would have wished any interference by nations of the Old World. Now there is war much closer at hand between two nations, both of which are members of the League. One is in Europe and, to use a venerable term, belongs to the modern “ concert of European powers “ - a concert which gives the League whatever reality it may possess. We cannot say that on this occasion, it was physically impossible for the League to have prevented war between Italy and Abyssinia. But would not coercive measures be so difficult and so dangerous that Europe might lose more than it would gain? That is a matter on which opinions may differ. Everything that could be done through conciliation and arbitration has been or is being done. Oan the terms, or, rather, the general directions of the Covenant be enforced with full vigour if gentler methods fail? We do not know yet, but we may know before long. Great Britain most certainly does not desire conflict with Italy, although the happenings of a few weeks ago would suggest that Mussolini believed that it did. His threats and boasts about Malta and Gibraltar were really responsible for the strengthening of the British naval forces in the Mediterranean, by the addition of several vessels belonging to the Home fleet.
The League is either a reality or it if not. The Covenant is either a serious treaty, which has to be honoured by those who signed it, or it is an expression of amiable and impotent idealism. The collective system is either an effective instrument for the preservation of peace, or it is an empty formula. When the League was established, it was assumed that the United States of America would be a member of it. I recall very clearly the atmosphere and temper in Paris when the terms of the Peace Treaty were being considered, because I had a job of work to do in Paris just at that time. 1 witnessed the arrival of the German, Austrian and Turkish delegates, and I have a vivid recollection of the picturesque Abyssinian delegates who came to Paris to congratulate the late President Woodrow Wilson on the success of the peace negotiations, and also, no doubt, to do what was possible to prevent their country from being “ gobbled-up “ by some of the victors. I clearly remember that it was taken for granted then that the United States of America would be u member of the proposed League of Nations. That assumption proved to be wrong.
More was expected of the League than was politically possible, though in the circumstances of the times, this was not surprising, because it was forgotten that if, and when, moral suasion failed, there was no provision for the application, by the League, of force to ensure the observance of its covenants. This may be one of the reasons why, in some directions, the League has failed to fulfil its real purpose. We should, however, remember that the League represented an international revolution - one of the greatest in history; that it is, and was, a great experiment, and, like all experiments must develop by trial and error. Only there must be a time limit to its experimental working, or if there is no limit, we must simply face the facts and draw our own conclusions.
If the League goes on shrinking - unfortunately in recent years it has shrunk somewhat - until it fades out of existence, we must not go on pretending that it exists as an effective instrument for the maintenance of international peace. Least of all can we allow it to be distorted into the opposite - something that while never averting trouble, will always drag us into it.
The quarrel between Italy and Abyssinia is a real and severe test in the sense that the far-eastern and South American conflicts we’re not. The British Commonwealth of Nations is resolved to carry out to the full the obligations that are laid down in the Covenant. But it cannot do so alone. Indeed, it is not its business to do so alone, for it is the essence of these obligations that they shall be collective.
I desire now to refer briefly to the attitude of the Australian Labour party to the imposition of sanctions. Labour’s policy appears to me to be one of funk and dishonour. I can place no other interpretation upon what I have read of speeches delivered by Labour leaders, and what I have heard from the mouths of Labour’s representatives in this chamber. Unless as a nation we are to be dishonored, wo must honour our solemn word and respect our obligations. A friend with whom I discussed Labour’s attitude in this crisis suggested an analogy which I think is very apt. He reminded me that in industrial disputes a trade union calls a strike to secure redress of the grievances of its members. In furtherance of its policy it imposes sanctions against the employer. Any member of the union who, because of his circumstances, or because he fears to antagonize his employer, refuses to strike, is branded as a “scab “, and for the remainder of his life “ sanctions “ are imposed against him by his fellow workers. I remind our Labour friends that Australia is a member of a union - the League of Nations - and, as such, it must loyally support its fellow members in the course agreed upon to ensure world peace. Is Australia to become an international “scab”? God forbid! I would sooner see this country invaded and go down a defeated nation than that it should be said of its people, whose virility was tested some twenty years ago, that they have no sense of honour; that their word is not worth a snap of the fingers ; that whenever trouble looms on the international horizon, Australia “ scabs “ on its fellow members of the League of Nations. And not only “ scabs “, but boasts about it because in this debate we have heard opponents of the Government’s policy fighting valiantly with their mouths, suggesting that this country should repudiate its pledges through fear of the result.
The League is above all an instrument of mediation and conciliation. The Covenant does not provide any specific coercive measures except under article 16 which can only be invoked to stop a war that has actually begun. Even when, despite the efforts of the League to avert hostilities, war has broken out, it cannot be seriously argued that the League is a failure. The question to be considered is whether the League can continuously and persistently arbitrate in this conflict. Can it exercise a certain, even if limited, control over its members and more especially over Italy and Abyssinia? Can it exert influence, or even a pressure, that will induce or compel them to negotiate an early peace? And when negotiations have begun, can the League determine or help to determine the nature of the peace so that the terms may not be too vindictive or impossible? To these questions we have as yet no answer, but the answer which coming events will give will make it possible for the powers and for us to judge, for the first time since the League was established, whether it is a reasonably useful instrument for the maintenance of international peace. I wish that this Parliament had unanimously and wholeheartedly approved the bill, because I, for one, cannot see how we can, without loss of face, without suffering dishonour, refuse ‘to support sanctions against Italy.
. -We have been listening to some heroics from Senator Sampson, of whose sincerity no member of this chamber entertains any doubt. I do not begrudge the honorable gentleman the opportunity which this debate has afforded him to say what is in his mind, because he has been a soldier, and, I believe that every man who. irrespective of his nationality, offers his life to his country, should be honoured. But there is always the other side to an argument, and it will be my purpose to support my colleagues in the Labour party in stating the case for our side. I wish particularly to refer to the attitude of our opponents who are not represented in this debate - the armament rings. the economic concessionaires, and the whole weight of colonial enterprises which the capitalist nations have around their necks. Many different opinions have been expressed on the point’ as to whether sanctions will lead to war. The Labour party, as its main argument against sanctions, holds that they mean war, and that view is supported by such men as Sir Austen Chamberlain, Sir John Latham, the former Minister for Health and Repatriation (Mr. Hughes), Sir Stafford Cripps and Mr. George Lansbury.
– Sir Stafford Cripps advocated the imposition of sanctions against Japan.
– He has not advocated them in this instance. I recall that at the commencement of the Great War, the late Mr. Andrew Fisher, whose name is revered in the Labour movement, offered Australia’s help to Britain “ to the last man and the last shilling “.
– What did he do in 1917?
– In that year, Mr. Fisher was not here to carry out his promise. However, this country did not in fact offer Britain the lam shilling in that conflict and a great deal of the cost of it was passed on to the shoulders of the workers. Largely because of our participation in the Great War, we have to-day 300,000 people unemployed, and our small population of less than 7,000,000 is carrying a debt as large as that which Great Britain had incurred at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. There is a progressive aspect in matters of this nature. No doubt Mr. Fisher was sincere in his offer to Great Britain, but it was not fulfilled because when the war developed, we had to consider our own position in relation not only to the British Empire but also to the rest of the world. At that time the issue of conscription, which had never before been raised in this country, arose. Because they opposed conscription many people were called cowards and traitors. .1. myself, for instance, was called a Sinn Feiner, a pro-German and an Industrial Worker of the World supporter, although before that time, I had spent only about a fortnight in America. As the result of carrying out my duty, as editor of a newspaper, in allowing the free expression of public opinion on this issue, I was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment without the option. That newspaper was the official organ of the Labour Government in Queensland, and its chairman of directors was the Home Secretary, who, was in charge of prisons. My sentence was suspended but had I been clapped into gaol on that occasion, I would have become, as a prisoner, the guest of my chairman of directors. However, when the issue of conscription was put to the people, a majority of 30,000 in Queensland voted against it. Yet for daring to voice opinions against conscription as I have indicated, anti-conscriptionists, like myself, were sentenced to imprisonment by the Commonwealth authorities. The verdict of the people on that occasion, showed that not only the stay-at-homes - the “ deep-thinkers “ - the Sinn Feiners, the pro-Germans and the Industrial Workers of the World supporters were against conscription, but also the majority of the soldiers who were serving in the trenches at that time.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the bill.
– I am pointing out that an unpopular cause subjects its supporters to misrepresentaton and harsh treatment. Sanctions are a very difficult problem. After studying it, I sum up my opinion- by saying that I do not want to see Australia involved in another war of such vast dimensions as the previous war; I do not think we could stand it. We did more than our share in the last war, although some people say to-day that we did not do even our share in that conflict. After all, a nation’s participation in a war is a matter of proportion. We say that the United States did not do its fair share in the last war. Considering its huge population and its financial resources, I do not think it did.
– Why does the honorable senator say that sanctions must lead to war?
– There onn be no doubt on that point. It Lj like keeping the peace. Suppose that a policeman seeing two fellows fighting in the street, approached them and said, “ I have not met you’ before, but this is an unfortunate thing you are doing; it is ungentlemanly. Don’t you think you ought to read the New Testament on the doctrine of love of your fellow ma.:!, and learn from that that you should nor. fight in a street?” How far would he get with such a remonstrance? A policeman who had to keep the peace under such conditions would probably require the backing of sanctions. He would probably have to say to the offenders, “ If you do not desist from fighting, I will see that the butcher or the milkman does not call at your home in the morning “. He would threaten to cut off their supplies of the necessaries of life. Of course, a policeman doing his duty in such circumstances would be threatened with reprisals. Undoubtedly, a similar position will arise internationally if sanctions are imposed. The former Minister for Health and Repatriation (Mi-. Hughes) who was the hero of the last war, holds this view, and quite a number of people, including a majority of the members of the Labour party, agree with him. Recently I read a report of a speech in which the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) said that peace could be maintained, and that Australia does not want war. On the other hand, Mr. Hughes maintains that sanctions mean war.
– Mr. Hughes does not know all about it.
– Many people who have a right to form a judgment on the matter have come to the con clusion that sanctions mean war, and 1 agree with that view. The Labour party is as sincere in its view of this matter as it was in respect of the conscription issue It does not want to see Australia involved in another war, and hopes, by preaching the doctrine of nonparticipation, to keep this country out of war. 1 agree with that view. I believe that by opposing sanctions we are adopting the right attitude.
Senator HARDY (New South Wales) [5.56 1 . - I was not. present in this chamber when this debate was commenced on Friday, but, having carefully read the speeches made then by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and Senator Brown. I feel I am sufficiently informed regarding their arguments to attempt to reply to them. A number of honorable senators have asked whether the Labour party really adheres to the principles of the League of Nations, or whether its professed adherence to the League is merely lip-service, to which it is committed in an endeavour to uphold a useful political ideal. One suspects the motives of that party in this matter. I have examined the various items of the Labour party’s platform as amended at the federal conference in 1933, and I failed to find any mention of the League of Nations. A defence policy was mentioned at that conference, but no mention was made at that conference or in the platform of the party of the League of of Nations: nor was there any suggestion that the Labour party supported the League.
– Would the honorable senator embody such a matter in an Australian political party’s platform?
– Yes; I think it is essential that such a matter should be mentioned in the platform of a political party.
– Is it mentioned in the platform of the Country party?
– Yes; not only do we support the ideals of the League of of Nations, but, unlike the Labour party, we ave prepared to observe the obligations placed upon us by the Covenant of the League. When speaking on the Appropriation Bill 1934-35, Senator Collings, replying to a question by Senator
Grant as to whether Australia’s expenditure on the League of Nations was advisable, said -
I hope that nothing Senator Granthas said will influence honorable senators to favour a reduction of the provision for Australia as a member of the League.
I hoard Senator Collings express a similar view to-day. If he is prepared to support Australia’s membership of the League, is it not logical to expect him and his colleagues to honour the obligations placed upon Australia through such membership ?
– Apparently, we must have another war to save the League !
– In the first debate in this chamber on the Italo-Abyssinian dispute, Senator Collings read a statement of the policy of the Australian Labour party on that matter. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) said that he doubted that the Leader of the Opposition thoroughly understood the implication of the Covenant. Senator Collings did not say then that he thoroughly understood its implications. But let us see what the honorable senator said in December, 1934, when speaking on the Appropriation Bill 1934-35, as recorded in Mansard, page 1063-
It is true that the League has not been able to accomplish many of the objectives embraced in its constitution, and it is also true that the League on some occasions has failed. But it is much more important for us to remember, not its failures, but its successes.
Less than twelve months ago the honorable senator advocated concentration on the successes of the League, yet almost the whole of the honorable senator’s speech last week was devoted to the failures of the League. In support of Senator Collings’ tale of failures, other Opposition senators criticized the League for its inaction in connexion with the dispute between Japan and China. In December of last year Senator Collings saw fit to reprimand Senator Grant in the following terms: -
I suggest to Senator Grant, and to other honorable senators who agree with his views, that they should make themselves fully acquainted with the constitution of the League of Nations, the work it has attempted to do, and what it is actually accomplishing, not only in Geneva, but throughout the world.
Despite those words of praise for the League, the Leader of the Opposition now refuses to support it in its greatest test. Compare the honorable senator’s words on that occasion with his latest utterance on this subject -
The Australian Labour party is opposed to sanctions because it is opposed to war. The Labour party saw more clearly and more immediately than any other party that sanctions mean war.
I propose now to quote from an editorial in the Labor Daily, which is the official organ of the Labour party in Australia.
– That is not so.
– I am pleased to hear that, for I desired to be assured that there was still some difference of opinion between the Federal Labour party and the New South Wales Labour party. On the 22nd August, 1935, the Labor Daily, in an editorial, said -
Articles 10 and 16 of the League Covenant are the two fundamental articles of the whole Covenant upon which the entire system of collective security is bused. If they are jettisoned international anarchy must result.
Early in September Mr. Lang held an anti-war meeting in Sydney, and this was the occasion for a complete change of policy. As he thought that it would be bad policy to be in alliance with any other political party on any question, the Labor Daily turned a complete somersault, and said that in future sanctions would be opposed because they meant war. In an another part of the same article the following appeared : -
Another similar conflict to that of 1914-18 is unthinkable, butthe rape of Abyssinia would represent a direct challenge by Italy to the entire system of collective security that must be met by effective application of economic and financial sanctions.
I hope that, when the Leader of the Opposition a.gain speaks on this subject, he will attempt to reconcile that statement with his more recent claim that the Australian Labour party saw the issue more clearly and more immediately than any other political party in Australia saw it. The attitude of the Labor Daily, if generally accepted, would mean the ushering in of international anarchy. Last week Senator Collings said -
What is the cry to-day. Save the League of Nations in the interests of collective security.
Asa rallying cry this is one of the cleverest, subtlest and most specious that has ever been raised in the cause of war.
How different is that from the view expressed about twelve months ago, when the honorable senator took Senator Grant to task ! Indeed, how different from the view expressed by the Labor Daily only six weeks ago!
Senator Brown said that there was a considerable body of opinion in the British Labour party opposed to sanctions. For the information of the honorable senator, and of the Senate generally, [ shall read the following extract from the Economist of the 5th October, 1935:-
Labour decides. - The overwhelming vote in favour of sanctions at the Labour Conference on Wednesday demonstrated how very largely personal is the much-advertised “ split “ in the party. A majority of 2,168,000 to 102,000 or over 20 to 1, was recorded in support of the League Covenant. Dr. Hugh Dalton, who proposed the resolution embodying the official party policy, made a clear, crushing and unanswerable case.
Sanctions, he said, do not necessarily mean war. On the other hand the scrapping of sanctions as a reserve force behind international law certainly means war - war soon and in a far more terrible form than even a war between Italy and Abyssinia. A threat of sanctions may be enough to prevent war . . . But if Mussolini is so lunatic as to resist the united League of Nations by force, let it be so. He will order the firing of the first shot, and ho will take the consequences of that order.
That this was the opinion of the vast majority of the delegates, was proved by the final vote. Before the vote was taken, however, there was a long and dramatic debate in which, the picturesque personalities of the minority spokesmen did something to conceal the numerical weakness of their supporters. Sir Stafford Cripps, most of whose adherents appeared to be in the public gallery, argued thathehad changed his mind about the League because he had only recently come to the conclusion that it was a League of sated imperialist powers - an “ international burglars’ union.” Yet the only significant change in its character, coincident with Sir Stafford’s conversion, has been the adherence of Russia! Lord Ponsonby laid great stress on the League’s lack of universality, compared with the original intentions of its founders. Mr. Lansburyspoke the language of unqualified Christian pacifism: “They who take the sword shall perish with the sword.” The delegates were sympathetic, but not persuaded. In reply Mr. Bevin tellingly remarked that those who did not approve of sanctions should have openly declared their opposition to the League years before.
Every honorable senator who claims to understand the Covenant of the League of Nations should have opposed sanctions years ago if hebelievedthat they meant war. Why it is that the Labour party has waited until now to voice its opposition to the Covenant? The reason is that there is a world of difference between the Australian Labour party and the British Labour party. What are the sanctions for which the Covenant of the League provides? First, the Covenant provides that the aggressor nation shall be prevented from getting arms. Does the Leader of the Opposition object to that? If so, it means that he is prepared to assist Italy to obtain arms. This bill is an attempt by Australia, in common with over 50 other nations, to prevent a covenant-breaking State - in this case Italy - from obtaining arms.
– Italy will still get all the arms it wants; British armamant makers will supply them.
– The point at the moment is not the willingness of British armament makers to supply arms to Italy, but the willingness of the honorable senator to assist Italy to obtain them. The second object of sanctions is the prevention of a covenant-breaking State from getting essential raw materials. In my opinion, there is no essential difference between supplying a machine gun and supplying the lead out of which bullets for machine guns may be made. Is Senator Collings in favour of supplying a covenant-breaking State with raw materials for the making of ammunition?
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m..
– I have said that it is hard to concede that the attitude of Labour is logical in view of the fact that the party has taken sixteen years to discover that it is not prepared to subscribe to the principle of sanctions, although in the present circumstances their application is clearly required under article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Senate has now to decide whether it will support the bill before it, which provides for the application of sanctions against Italy. I believe that I am correct in saying that the Leader of the Opposition, in replying to the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) said that he will fight the bill at every stage, because he considers that sanctions mean war. But every honorable senator who has spoken in opposition to the measure, when pressed for a reason for that assertion, has been unable to justify it. The attitude of the opponents of the bill is entirely illogical.
As I have already indicated., the first object of the application of ‘sanctions is to prevent a covenant-breaking State from obtaining arms. That is one of the purposes of this legislation. We contend that a nation which has deliberately broken the Covenant of the League, to which it has subscribed, and has set out on a policy which threatens to bring western civilization to its knees, by embroiling the world in a turmoil similar to that experienced in the years 3914-1S, should be regarded as an enemy of peace. If sanctions mean war, I would rather impose them than permit a belligerent nation like Italy to be supplied with arms to carry ou its cruel attack upon Abyssinia. If the Leader of the. Government said that it had been decided to allow the small arms factory at Lithgow to export its surplus arms to Italy, on the ground that this would provide work for Australians, would not the Leader of the Opposition claim that it would be wrong to employ trade unionists in the manufacture of arms that were to be sent overseas? The Labour party cannot consistently claim that it supports the League of Nations if it opposes the imposition of sanctions on a belligerent nation which breaks the Covenant of the League. What, would be the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition to the employment of members of the Australian Workers Union on the large grazing properties distributed throughout the Commonwealth, if this Parliament did not. prohibit the export to Italy of wool, which is required to clothe the Italian troops now engaged in harassing Abyssinia?
The second object of sanctions, as 1 have previously remarked, is to prevent a Covenant-breaking State from obtaining essential raw materials. The third object is to inflict severe economic and financialloss upon such a nation. Italy has defied all the laws of humanity, and has deter- mined to wreck the peace of the world. By subjecting that country to economichardship we shall be trying to restrain it from pursuing its career of slaughter; but the Labour party tells us that we should not apply sanctions, because they mean war. What would the Labour party substitute for this bill? A conflagration threatens Europe, but that party takes refuge behind an academic argument. We have looked in vain for a constructive proposal -from it, but none is vouchsafed. It is illogical for the Opposition to condemn this measure, which aims at collective security within the League. The fourth object of sanctions is to give economic and financial aid to the nation which is the victim of aggression, but the Opposition is not prepared to give such aid. Only a year ago we heard the Leader of the Opposition reprimand Senator Grant, and advise him to study the Covenant of the League in order to obtain a proper appreciation of its implications. Why did he not then voice his protest against sanctions? It is said by the Labour party that sanctions will fail to achieve their object.
– We have not said that.
– I have heard it said in many places that, because sanctions will fail, they will merely irritate the people of Italy, and cause a war. I invite honorable senators to consider whether sanctions will be effective. To-day Germany. Japan and the United States of America are outside the League, and, of course, if Italy possesses sufficient gold, it will be able to trade with those nations. Within the last few days we have read in the press that the exports from the United States of America to Italy have increased tremendously. It may be said that Italy could purchase the raw materials it needs from Japan: hut I venture the opinion that it cannot expect the co-operation of Japan, whose official spokesman has declared that that country is interested in the stability of Asia, and is determined to lead the coloured races. So it is unlikely that Japan would help a western nation to crush Abyssinia. I am prepared to admit that Germany now has a large export trade with Italy.
– Did not Japan help Britain to suppress Germany?
– No. Although Italy can obtain supplies from countries that are independent of the League of Nations, it is only reasonable to assume that in a time of war its purchases will have to be made with gold. In considering whether sanctions will prove effective, we have to study the internal economy of the aggressor country against whom they are directed. Italy is not adequately equipped to-day, financially or industrially, to undertake a protracted struggle in Abyssinia, and is it not reasonable to assume that it would be less able to engage in a world-wide war against all the nations which constitute the League?
-Italy is marching on !
– I shall quote a statement relating to Italy’s financial position from one of the leading financial journals of the world. It says -
Italyhas not the natural or financial resources at its command to face a protracted struggle. It imports, normally, practically all of its cotton, copper, and mineral oil; 95 per cent of its coal; 80 per cent. of its wool; and 53 per cent. of metals other than copper.
Allowing that preparations have been going on for some time, supplies available can be sufficient for only a brief campaign. No matter what the accumulation, it cannot cover every need. Outside purchases are necessary.
The point I desire to emphasize is that the external market in which Italy can make purchases is limited to two countries. Fifty-one nations of the world declare that they will have no transactions with Italy which will assist Mussolini to prosecute this war. Their unanimity is sufficient justification for Australia to follow their example.
– The majority of those nations are so small that they do not weigh one jot against the United States of America.
– The statement continues -
These depend on Italy’s capacity to pay - cash or deferred. Its cash resources are expressed in its gold and its foreign credits. These, a month ago, totalled probably less than £90,000,000 in sterling equivalent.
Nor can Italy view its credit standing as AI.
Italy’s budget deficits must read disquietingly to Italian financiers and economists in the light of the wide expenditure to which the Government was committed the moment its troops crossed the Abyssinian border on the 2nd October. The deficits read - For 1930-31. £11,317,000; 1931-32, £65,967,000; 1932-33, £60,367,000; 1933-34, £107,633,000 (all in sterling equivalent). That position would not inspire confidence in the money markets in normal circumstances. Its appeal to a financial world determined onpeace may be imagined.
Those figures represent the internal economy of a country which is prosecuting a war in Abyssinia, and which, according to the Australian Labour party, might if sanctions are imposed, conduct a war against 51 nations. The statement proceeds -
Since August, the chief avenues of credit have been closed to Italy. Thus, from this angle, and from the angle of its inability to pay cash beyond a certain point, economic sanctions merely frame an already painted picture.
The United States of America Governmentcontrolled Export-Import Bank has refused to grant short-term credit.
When the Labour party opposes the bill, it should take that point into consideration. Upon analysis, it will be understood that the impositions of sanctions cannot, in any circumstances, give rise to a world-wide war. Turning again to the statement I find that -
On the 18th September, £2,060,834 was outstanding to British creditors under the AngloItalian trade agreement. (A million was mentioned as owing to coal exporters alone).
Dues to the Suez Canal Company for war traffic have been stated at £600,000 to the end of September.
The review concludes with a statement that the money and commodity markets of the world will be closed to Italy. Is it any wonder that, as a result of the internal difficulties of Italy herself, this journal says that “ economic sanctions merely frame an already painted picture “ ? -
And all expenditure figures expand rapidly once hostilities are commenced.
The money markets and the commodity marts of the world will be closed to Italy. And, more than that, war necessities result in internal production being diverted into abnormal channels, thereby throwing normal production out of gear, and increasing the demand on imports.
A further review shows how sanctions are being applied, not through the desire of governments, but through the commercial sense of the countries involved.
I have taken the following extract from the Economist, of September: -
Will Signer Mussolini’s ‘“forward” foreign policy be hold back by economic difficulties? Many people are asking that question; and certainly a number of reports in the last few days indicate that the Duce’s preparations in East Africa have given the economic screw in Italy a severe twist. First, the bank rate in Italy was raised last Monday from 3½ to 4½ per cent. This follows a drop in the gold reserve from 5,523 million lire to 5,257 million lire in the last ten days of July. Thus, despite the strict control of Italian citizens’ and firms’ foreign securities and assets, gold is flowing out; and this emphasizes the reason for the recent decree abandoning the statutory requirement of 40 per cent. gold cover against notes and sight liabilities.
Senator Collings will realize that the most powerful instrument of the belligerent nations in the last war was the gold reserve. The payment by Germany of gold in certain Pacific ports enabled the Emden to carry on its raiding. Ifa country goes to war, although its internal credit may be sound at the time, it must have gold to purchase its requirements in markets abroad.
– The gold reserve of the Commonwealth is not very large. We had better be careful.
– But Australia is not going to war. Mussolini has ordered the mobilization of all foreign credits and fluids belonging to Italian citizens -
Secondly, the need for transport of goods andmen in East Africa has led to the withdrawal of many Italian ships from the Black Sea route, and to the crowding of tramps and transports through the Suez Canal. Many foreign ships, chiefly Greek, are under charter for this purpose: and it is reported from Germany that thirteen vessels, with a total tonnage of 120.000 have been purchased by Italy from foreign countries, while negotiations are continuing for further ships.
Thirdly, Italy has been trying hard to’ buy cotton-
If there is one commodity that a belligerent nation must have above all others - Senator Brand will readily endorse this - it is cotton for big gun ammunition - but she has met with a rebuff-
Not from Great Britain or any other member of the League, but- in the United States, where the Governmentowned Export-Import Bank has declined to grant short-term credits to American exporters of United States cotton to Italy despite the huge American stocks of a commodity which is one of the “ sinews of war “.
Although the United States is not imposing sanctions, the very internal economy of Italy is imposing a sanctions programme on nations outside the League.
– Then we need not worry.
– For a gentleman who does not worry, the honorable senator looks particularly upset at present. I venture to say that the easiest way out of his difficulty would be for him to vote for the bill. The Economist continued - fourthly, it is reported that Italy already owes South Wales and Durham exporters over £1,500,090 for coal; that the sum of £1,770,792 was still outstanding on 7th August under the Anglo-Italian trade agreement and awaiting transfer to British exporters, and that in view of her indebtedness to British coal exporters, Italy has chartered seven Greek ships to transport new Italian purchases of Polish coal to Italy.Italy’s industries, more than those of any otherEuropean great power, ourselves included, depend on imported raw materials.
The greatest asset we have in our sanctions programme is the internal and economic position of Italy. This extract is taken from Fascism at Work, by El win -
The national debt amounted to about. 95,000,000,000 lire in 1922-23. The expenditure for unproductive needs, such as military police, colonies, &c., induced budget deficits of 3,000,000,000 and even more. In the ten years of Fascist rule, the internal debt has risen from 95,000,000,000 to at least 135,000.000,000 lire, in round figures, over 10,000,000,000 lire of new debts per day.
Yet this is the country which, according to the Leader of the Opposition, will enter into a world-wide war if sanctions are imposed against it. Italy will be hard put to make further progress with the conquest of Abyssinia. The national wealth of Italy is estimated by Mortara, an eminent economist, at only 450,000,000,000 lire, so that here exists a state of affairs hardly to be met with elsewhere, even in a colony, let alone among the great powers of Europe! The first part of the bill, which outlines the prohibition of the export of arms, is one which the Leader of the Opposition does not propose to support, and this is most illuminating. If the bill were stripped of its camouflage and merely provided that Australia should join with the other nations in prohibiting the export of arms, the Leader of the Opposition. to be consistent, would have to oppose it. because it would interfere with the freedom of Australia to export arms to Italy.
– Australia does not manufacture sufficient arms to defend itself.
– I propose to quote figures showing the world’s export of munitions for 1933. My authority is the Blue Book of the League of Nations. The United Kingdom, itself one of the parties to the proposal to impose sanctions, exports 33.8 per cent. of the total supplies. Is it not reasonable to assume if over one-third of the exportable arms are suddenly cut off, Italy must feel the effect of the cessation, or does the honorable senator advocate that England should continue to export 33.8 per cent. of the world’s armaments? The United States of America, which has been so often referred to as a country outside the League, exports about 16.7 per cent. France, a member of the League, exports 14.6 per cent. Of the three great exporting nations in the munition world then, two of them, who represent 50 per cent. of the total, are members of the League and are applying sanctions. But even that fact does not impress the Leader of the Opposition who says that to apply sanctions is to interfere with freedom - that the very fact that these countries will not export their arms to Italy will create war.
– Once again, Mr. President, I rise to protest against statements being made about me. The last assertion of Senator Hardy was most deliberate. I never used the words, and never thought them. I do not desire the honorable senator to withdraw; I merely desire to draw attention to his inaccuracy.
– I realize that the Leader of the Opposition does not appreciate my deductions. He has spoken against the prohibition of the export of arms.
– The honorable senator has spoken against the application of sanctions, and they include a prohibition of the export of arms. Two nations are responsible for 50 per cent. of the total export of arms. The complete table, which may interest honorable senators, is as follows: -
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) may say that that does not prove my case, but I venture to suggest that if he were asked to give a definite vote as to whether we should supply Italy with arms to conduct war against Abyssinia his reply would be in the negative. Well, then, I ask him to support the bill.
I now come to the subject of credits, which, as I have already pointed out, are extremely important for they are necessary for the prosecution of war. Although a modern army may have a constant supply of arms and munitions to prosecute a campaign, as Senator Brand and Senator Sampson know, it needs about ten men in the supply organization to keep one man in the field. To obtain these supplies gold is necessary. The. surest way in which to limit a nation’s ability to buy in the world’s markets is to restrict its credits. There is no moral difference between sending 1,000,000 rifles from Australia for use by the Italian army and sending £1,000,000. Both are used in conducting military operations and consequently come under sanctions. There are two classes of credits. There are credits owned by a country before the commencement of hostilities, and those secured by it after the outbreak of hostilities. Let us examine the credits in existence at the outbreak of war. They include foreign currency within the country; foreign securities within the country ; commercial balances and instruments abroad; and branch houses, real property, abroad. Before the commencement of hostilities, a nation must attempt to marshal its credits Mussolini has already acted on these lines. After the commencement of hostilities it is an entirely different matter, because it can then extend its credits only on interest and dividends on securities held - provided there were no sanctions; commercial balances from exports - provided that there are exports; borrowings by commercial houses - provided there are no sanctions preventing borrowing; credits or loans secured by the government - provided there are no sanctions; credits or loans secured by municipalities or credits transferred from a third country. When honorable senators analyse the provisions of the bill and the credit machinery they will find that the only source of credit available to Italy, apart from its internal gold reserve, is that available in the United States of America, Germany and Japan. If we analyse Italian loans since 1921 to the present day we find that all of these three countries, particularly the United States of America, are creditor countries which, in commercial terras, means that there is no balance to be transferred. Therefore, Italy cannot obtain credits abroad and the only credit available is its rapidly diminishing gold supply. Over 51 nations are co-operating in a campaign to prevent Mussolini from bringing western civilization to its feet. If the position which I have outlined does not impress the members of the Australian Labour party I do not know what will. The only conclusion I can come to is that the Australian Labour party is opposing this bill because it does not wish to work in cooperation with any other political party however great the national emergency may be.
The only other point I wish to stress is the fact that the major portion of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition - I did not hear it, but I read it carefullyagainst the application of sanctions was an attempt to ridicule the Government because Italy is securing petrol supplies from the United States of America. I have heard members of the Labour party in this chamber say that sanctions cannot be effective because petrol, which is used extensively by a mechanized army, is flowing freely out of the United States of America into Italy. The Leader of the Opposition said -
Deny Italy petrol and immediately its capacity to attack Abyssinia and prosecute the present conflict would be prejudiced.
Does the honorable senator realize the significance of those words? He has admitted that sanctions can be effective in stopping war.
– I was stressing the point that petrol had not been placed on the list of commodities covered by sanctions, and I told the Senate why.
– In that admission the Leader of the Opposition has shown that a continuation of the war can be preven ted.
– The honorable senator has quoted only a portion of a sentence.
– If we assist to prevent Italy from receiving raw material we can perhaps stop the present war.
I now wish to deal briefly with the subject which has not yet been touched upon during the debate. I refer to Australia’s export trade. I may be asked whether that is relevant to the bill. It is in this respect: We have to consider the consequence, if collective action fails. The League of Nations is the only instrument ever devised to ensure international peace, and if we abandon it what are the consequences likely to be?
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time. [Extension of time granted.]
– If the League and collective action fail each nation must inevitably adopt a policy of selfsufficiency or economic nationalism, which will ultimately force Australian export trade to its knees. A short time ago the German Minister for Agriculculture said “ We shall never be forced to our knees as we were forced a few years ago “. Because of the fear engendered among European nations they have been forced to adopt a policy of selfsufficiency. We must not remove the only instrument which stands between Australia and complete economic chaos. Fully one-third of Australia’s produce is exported, and if we are to maintain peace and ensure a continuance of existing trade conditions we must support the bill.
– I do not think that I should cast a silent vote on the measure before the Senate. At the same time I shall not employ many words, and in those words honorable senators may not find anything new. My real objective is to emphasize certain facts which have already been placed before the Senate. Australia having willingly, and oven eagerly, assumed the rights and privileges of a nation has hitherto displayed a desire to play a nation’s part in world affairs. Now that it is asked to bear a nation’s responsibility I am sure that there willbe no flinching, and that this Parliament, on behalf of Australia, in agreeing to the application of sanctions to restrain Italy from proceeding further along the path of destruction, will be speaking with the voice of the people and honouring both their legal and their moral obligations. Honorable senators supporting the Government have been described as “warmongers “, but I, and other honorable senators on this side of the chamber, resent that term. I am sure that nothing is more foreign to the lessons of their experience than the promotion of international strife. Several honorable senators on this side have given service for their country in the field, some very much to their own personal cost, the evidences of which are to be seen to-day.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) stated that the conscription referendums in 1916 and 1917 were rejected by members of the Australian Imperial Force then on service overseas. I want to convey to the Senate what their actual opinion was as to the duty of Australia at that time.
-The soldier voters gave a majority for conscription on both occasions.
– The official figures show that both referendums were answered in the affirmative by our soldiers overseas. At the first referendum, held on the 28th October, 1916, 133.813 votes were cast. Of that number 72,399 voted for, and 58,894 against, conscription, while 2,520 votes were informal. The majority for conscription on that occasion was 13,505. At the second referendum, held on the 20th December, 1917, the number of soldier voters was 199,677, of whom 103,789 voted for, and 93,910 against, conscription. The number of informal votes was 1,978, and the majority for conscription 9,879.
The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), in moving the second reading of the bill, was, I am sure, deeply conscious alike of its importance and its possible consequences to Australia. In view . of his long public life and, I may say, great public service to Australia during the most critical period in our history, no man in our midst can speak with more authority and with greater knowledge of the political, economic and physical destructiveness of war, or the paramount need for avoiding it by every honorable and practical means. Is it likely, therefore, that he spoke on behalf of the Government without previously having given the most grave consideration to what is desired and the risks attached to the attainment of that desire?
The history of the last 150 yearsis notable for the number of wars which have occurred, some of them dynastic in origin, some due to the need for racial expansion or commercial gain, some caused by sheer militancy and the desire for conquest, and others by internal pressure and upheavals. But through all that time, owing to the spread of enlightenment among the people of all countries, there has been evinced an ever-growing desire for permanent world peace, for the protection of human life, the cessation of the destruction of property, and the promotion of that spirit of understanding and helpfulness to which Christian communities profess to attach such great importance. In the pursuit of this objective we should, I think, give full emphasis to the sincerity displayed by the British Empire. During the critical negotiations in Europe in the mid-summer months of 1914, just before the commencement of hostilities, Sir Edward Grey, the then BritishForeign Minister, declared that, if Europe could be pulled through the crisis, it would be the duty of the statesmen of the world to create some international system by which such future crises might be averted.
That weighty utterance was not an isolated pronouncement. Almost immediately after the outbreak of hostilities, Mr. Asquith, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, announced that it was a war aim of the British people to establish, at its close, a league of peace. During all the dark years of the war that splendid ideal was not lost sight of by British Ministers, and the political leaders of that other great branch of the Anglo-Saxon race, the United States of America. The ultimate outcome was the establishment of the League of Nations, which was designed to promote peace and prevent aggression by any individual power. The principles of the constitution of the League were, I think, in accordance with our desires. We accepted its articles without opposition, and by signing the Covenant we assumed our share of its obligations without protest from any political party in Australia. At that time it seemed that “ the war to end war “ had really attained its objective.
Now a situation has arisen in which Australia is, without a doubt, being jailed upon to play its part in accordance with its solemn undertaking. We cannot disregard the summons because the peace of older nations, as well as our own future, is at stake. Since collective security means protection for Australia against hostile acts, if by an adverse vote now we sabotage the League, who can say what dire fate may be ours later?
I must confess that I cannot understand the attitude of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party upon this issue, unless it be its wont, despite its many good works, occasionally to back the wrong horse. I am satisfied that the people of Australia endorse every action taken by the League, and that by firmness on the part of this Government in support of Great Britain and the League, the danger of war - not a very grave danger at the moment, I think - will be averted, and more and wider avenues opened for future exploitation of the possibilities of universal peace. Since 1914 no country has been confronted with a graver problem than that with which we now have to deal. I have no doubt as to the decision of this chamber. I whole-heartedly support the bill.
– In the course of my remarks upon this important subject, it will be my purpose to break new ground, if that be possible after the lengthy debate that has already taken place. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has not denied that the League of Nations was established for the purpose of preventing future wars from destroying civilization. On the contrary, he has, I understand, on many occasions upheld the ideals of the League.
The League of Nations came into being when the Treaty of Peace with Germany was ratified on the 10th January, 1920. Its charter, containing 26 articles, is known as the Covenant which includes a number of provisions for the prevention and settlement of disputes. These clauses bind natio’ns which are members of the League not to employ force for the settlement of the disputes until they have first been submitted to the League of Nations, or to arbitrators or to judges. The right to resort to war was retained in the event of the League or the arbitrators failing to reach a unanimous decision, but even then only after a delay of three months after such failure. This right to war was abandoned by the 60 States which signed the Kellogg Pact. Thus for the first time in history machinery was devised for the establishment of an international tribunal with a set purpose to prevent war, which is regarded as the greatest scourge of mankind.
Apparently the ideal of the League is too high for certain members of the socalled Labour party of Australia.
– What “so-called” Labour party?
– Because Labour’s spokesmen in this chamber do not represent the virile rank and file of the workers of Australia. The preamble to the Covenant of the League of Nations reads as follows : -
The High Contracting Parties -
In order to promote international cooperation and to achieve international peace and security - by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war, by the prescription of open, just and honorable relations between nations, by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among governments, and, by the maintenance of justice and the scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another,
Agree to this Covenant of the League of nations.
If Labour senators believe in the League of Nations, if they believe in its ideals they must endorse its Covenant, which states specifically that “there shall be scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations.” No one will deny that Italy has violated one article of the solemn treaty made between the nations represented at Geneva. By that Treaty of Paris the signatory nations pledged themselves to the Covenant of the League, and the moral rules governing its members. On the 1st November, a cable message, which appeared in the Australian press, reported Mr. F. B. Kellogg, a former American Secretary of State, as having said in an interview at St. Pauls, Minnesota, in reference to the Kellogg-Briand Pact-
The United States of America in common with other countries can and should designate Italy as the aggressor in flagrant violation of the sovereignty of another nation. The United States of America should denounce Italy’s violation of her treaty obligations and announce that it will take no step to interfere or nullify the measures which other nations are now taking to put a stop to this war What some American peopleseem to have forgotten, and what the Italian people or their Government seemed to have entirely ignored is that when Italy invaded Abyssinia, she was thus, beyond a. shadow of a doubt, proceeding to use war as an instrument of national policy. Italy has violated a treaty with the United States of America, and thus violated the supreme law of our land.
I emphasize that the United States of America really stands outside the League. Nevertheless, so prominent a spokesman for that country, one who played a foremost part in the formulation of the League Covenant, has said that Italy in breaking the League Covenant has violated treaty obligations with the United States of America. Mr. Kellogg emphasized -
Italy has violateda treaty with the United States of America and thus violated the supreme law of our land.
When the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues say that they believe in the
League of Nations, surely they accept a fundamental principle of the League, that members must scrupulously observe all their treaty obligations. The Leaderof the Opposition must have been aware of that fact when he said a year ago that he believed in the League. He was then practically a protagonist of the League, and on one occasion he corrected honorable senators who suggested that the League was not all that it should be. In view of his previous statements surely he believes that when Italy has broken a treaty Australia should support other nations in upholding the treaty. Labour parties in Great Britain, France, and practically throughout the world have supported the League in the present conflict, because they recognize that if the League is to be worth anything at all its members must stand up to their treaty obligations. It is futile to talk platitudes about the League. The peace of the world will not be secured by words. Mr. Kellogg has stated definitely that in its non-observance of the League Italy has violated treaty obligations with the United States of America. Honorable senators who support this measure hold the view that Italy has also violated treaty obligations with Australia. Referring again to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and to the attitude of the United States of America, Mr. Kellogg said -
I hope that those considering trading with Italy will have it brought home to them constantly that in supplying oil. cotton or machinery they are aiding and abetting a nation that treats a solemn treaty as a scrap of paper.
In opposing the imposition of sanctions, members of the Opposition really suggest that Australia should break faith with the rest of the world. In following such a course we would probably not only cause confusion among the other nations which constitute the League, but would also support the opening of the door immediately for all sorts of open trading in oil, armaments, munitions, and all requirements of war. Thus we would add fuel to the flames and do the very thing which Australia as a member of the League has undertaken to prevent.
– If Germany supplied oil to Italy, would the honorable senator suggest that Australia should go to war with Germany?
– I do not suggest anything of the sort. I cannot understand how members of the Opposition at one moment uphold the League and profess their belief in all the League stands for, and then after the lapse of a few months crawl, as one honorable senator put it, into their funk-holes. If honorable senators believe in the League, they must believe in upholding treaties. Signatories to the Covenant of the League have undertaken to ‘ promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security - by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war, by the prescription of open, just and honorable relations between nations, by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among governments and by the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another.
The undertaking to maintain scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations is a vital principle of the Covenant and has been stressed as such over and over again. I propose now to deal with the League’s Code, which contains the broad rules governing the conduct of League members : -
These are five of the main rules of conduct. I point out that the Leader of the Opposition has repudiated this fifth duty. This rule prescribes that the nation shall take collective action to coerce any nation resorting to war in a breach of its obligations under the Covenant. This being so, how does the Leader of the Opposition square his opinions of the League to-day with those which he expressed some time ago? On a previous occasion, he suggested that honorable senators should examine the Covenant of the League and find out exactly what the League stands for. At that time he implied that many honorable senators were ignorant of the real duties and objects of the League. Apparently, however, the honorable senator himself was totally ignorant of what the League stands for. The League of Nations is not a League of words; it is not even a House of Parliament. It is an assembly of nations which contracted to do everything in their power to preserve the peace of the world. I repeat that the fifth rule of the League makes it obligatory on all members to contribute to collective action for the maintenance of peace. Apparently, the Leader of the Opposition knows nothing about that rule, and his speech on this matter must be regarded as a mass of wordy nothings. A little while ago, I characterized his utterances as platitudes; they are not even platitudes. When the honorable senator took other honorable senators to task, suggesting that they did not know what the League stood for, he himself did not. understand the objects of the League. Apparently, he had not read the rules of conduct, which the Covenant lays down for League members.
– Does the honorable senator agree with what I said on this matter a year ago?
– I am showing that the honorable senator knew nothing about the matter at that time. To-day, he opposed the imposition of sanctions, yet the fifth rule of conduct for members of the League lays it down definitely that in the interests of collective security, it is obligatory on members of the League to impose financial and economic pressure on any nation which commits a breach of the Covenant. The contribution of naval and military forces in any collective action taken by members of the League is a matter for recommendation to the Council. We are proud of the fact that, in spite of the dangers and difficulties involved in such a duty, Great Britain based sufficient naval strength in the Mediterranean, in order, first, to show its strength, and, secondly, to assist the League when the need for armed strength arose. Thus, at least one nation has stood by this rule of the League, and has been complimented by Germany on the fact that it had replaced France as the leading nation within the League. These sanctions have not been designed for the purpose merely of imposing the League’s decision on members, but primarily with the object of preventing and in the last resort stopping breaches of the Covenant with as little injury as possible. That is the basic idea of the Covenant. It is not necessarily correct to say that sanctions mean war. The League holds the view that by the imposition of economic sanctions, it will shorten this war. Even if it were to fail on this occasion, on a future occasion it might, by the imposition of sanctions, avoid war. By such a method it seeks to stop trade in munitions, arms, ammunition, fuel of all kinds, and, in fact, all material likely to assist in the waging of war. No matter what authority honorable senators may quote in support of their attitude, I claim that economic sanctions do not necessarily mean war. The imposition of such sanctions is a means to be utilized by those nations which have covenanted under the League to bring about peace as quickly as possible and with as little injury as possible to any nation.
– Italy still marches on.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that Italy should be allowed to violate a treaty into which it has entered? He would not do so himself, but, like any other honorable man, would stick to an agreement to which he had placed his signature. The honorable senator has shown that he knows very little about the League of Nations. He takes his theories out of the political oven before they have been properly cooked. If he will give greater consideration to the ideals of the League, he will realize that ideals must be backed not only by words, but also by sacrifice. Nothing worth while in life has been won without some form of human sacrifice. Senator Brown referred to the White Australia policy. Does he not realize th at if Australia fails to honour its obligations to the League Covenant, it cannot consistently call upon other nations to defend the White Australia principle should it be challenged.
– The other nations would not stand by us in that event.
– If Australia were attacked, and the White Australia principle were endangered, I sincerely believe that the United States of America would come to our aid. Not many men will willingly dishonour obligations into which they have entered. It is said that an Englishman’s word is his bond. Let it also be said that the word of the British Empire, and of Australia as a part of the Empire, is its bond ; that the people of Great Britain and the British dominions remain true to the best traditions of the race. Much has been said of the failures of the League of Nations, .but when we reflect that in this country, where only one flag flies and the one language is spoken, hatred and strife are only too prevalent, can we wonder that, among men differing in nationality, language and religion, there is not perfect unanimity in regard to the _ best way to abolish war? The problem can be solved only by strong men of resolute will, who are determined to stand by the obligations into which hey have entered. The Labour party has failed Australia ; indeed, it has failed humanity, for not only Abyssinia but also every other small nation is involved in the present crisis. Australia is one of the small nations of the world; it is an outpost of the British Empire, occupying, as it were, the front trench of the white race. Should Australia ever be in great difficulties its position in the world will be stronger, if we are able to say that, when another small nation was attacked, Australia rang true. I hope that the war between Italy and Abyssinia will not spread, and that there will not be another world war. I am pledged to economic sanctions, because I believe-that they will be a potent factor in the preservation of world peace.
.- On such an important bill I do not wish to remain silent; nevertheless, I shall not weary honorable senators by expressing at great length the reasons why I support a measure, the necessity for the introduction of which I regret. If we were able to get in touch with every Australian citizen, we would find that, although the outbreak of hostilities between Italy and Abyssinia is deeply regretted, there is a determination on the part of a great majority of the people of Australia to do everything possible to assist the League of Nations to bring about a speedy termination of the conflict. In my opinion, not sufficient recognition has been given to the magnificent effort which Great Britain has been making for some time to avert hostilities and, failing that, to secure unanimity among the larger nations of the world as to the means to be adopted to bring hostilities to an end as early as possible. At no time in the history of the world has Great Britain stood so high in public esteem as it now stands because of its efforts in the interests of peace. For that reason, I greatly regret that this Australian Parliament does not speak with one voice in regard to the dispute between Italy and Abyssinia. A. bill such as that now before us should be above party strife, for it transcends party in that it aims at the betterment of the peoples of the whole world. The New Zealand Parliament passed similar legislation without a dissentient voice being raised in either chamber. What New Zealand has done, Australia ought to do. I am not without hope that the three members of the Federal Labour party who constitute the Opposition in this chamber will, even yet, withdraw their opposition to the measure, so that it may be said that the Senate recorded a unanimous vote in favour of the bill, the purpose of which is to make it impossible for a covenantbreaking nation to carry on hostilities successfully. I am astounded at the attempts made by the Opposition to mislead the people of Australia regarding the motive underlying this legislation. Last Monday night, when in Melbourne, I attended a meeting at which prominent speakers referred to the Commonwealth Ministry as “ Australia’s war ministry “. The meeting was convened to express opposition to fascism and war, but opportunity was taken to censure the Government for having introduced a Crimes Bill and for desiring to embroil Australia in a world war. Fortunately, the audience was not large, there being probably not more than 1000 persons present, but I was surprised at the length to which the political opponents of the Government are prepared to go in an attempt to discredit it. There is no evidence of any desire for war on the part of the Government.
– No one said that there was.
– Then why did speakers at the meeting in Melbourne refer to the Commonwealth Ministry as the “War ministry”?
– Because it has introduced legislation which is likely to lead to war.
– The object of that legislation is to bring a war now in progress to a speedy termination.
– It may be that the Opposition has been led astray by men like Sir John Latham, Mr. W. M. Hughes and Professor Charteris.
– Sanations can lead to war only if the nation against which they- are directed commits an act of war. Notwithstanding its strength, Italy would hesitate before engaging in war against the nations which have agreed to impose financial and economic sanctions against it. The most extraordinary thing about the meeting which I attended in Melbourne was that it was called with the object of protesting against fascism. The other item on the agenda paper was anti-war - a lovely mixture indeed ! Anything to catch the public ear and delude the people ! On the one hand Italy is denounced because it has a form of government which we in Australia would never tolerate and on the other hand, the Australian Government is denounced for bringing forward a measure to terminate the present war by imposing sanctions on Italy.
The international position to-day is serious. I am much in accord with a speaker who addressed himself to the Abyssinian dispute recently, and said that, in his opinion, the magnificent gesture of Great Britain towards disarmament, though made with the best of intentions, probably accounts for the Italian aggression against Abyssinia. He contended that if Great Britain, instead of spending millions of pounds on the payment of the dole to its youth, had used the money to train the youths in defence of the British Empire, and to maintain: her armaments for defence purposes, Italy would never have dared to undertake hostilities in East Africa. That may be correct ; but we realize that Britain, despite its handicaps, has taken a risk in order to give a lead to the world in disarmament. Its attitude has evoked the admiration of the world. If Australians do not stand behind Great Britain in its magnificent effort, we shall no longer be Britons; we shall be recreant to the trust imposed in us and shall never bo able to lift our heads again among the nations that are honouring the Covenant. We must not desert Great Britain and other countries associated with her in their hour of need. No more important legislation than this has been brought before this Parliament for many years. This measure marks a critical stage in our history, and demands either that we stand firm in our intention to honour the undertaking we gave when we signed the ‘Covenant of the League of Nations and maintain the loyalty which we owe to the Commonwealth of Nations which form the British Empire, or play the part of a renegade. We may follow one of two courses. I know the part that we shall play, however; the bill will be passed.
– Then why all these tears?
– I made that statement in the hope that the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues may repent. This matter is far too important to be made a party question. From my knowledge of the Australian people I .am confident that they will support the Government. In conclusion, I sincerely hope that the enforcement of sanctions by the nations which have agreed to them will bring about the speedy termination of hostilities in Abyssinia. If that eventuates, I predict that the League of Nations will become the force in the world that we hoped it would be when it was inaugurated, to preserve world peace for all time.
– On behalf of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) I thank honorable senators for the high plane on which the measure has been discussed. No measure more far-reaching or more important has ever come before the Senate. It affects not only the interests of Australia but, as I shall indicate, the interests of suffering civilization itself. It is proper that a matter of such moment should be discussed on the highest possible plane, and not made the subject of party attack, because the future of civilization depends upon tho attitude that is adopted by the constituent members of the League. Hie measure is fraught with such tremendous responsibilities that we should deal with it earnestly and in no carping partisan spirit. Any shaft that may come from me in the course of my speech, although perhaps aimed at some of the honorable gentlemen opposite, will be directed by a sincere desire to convert them from their present attitude to a realization of their responsibility and their duty to humanity. When debating a measure of this description, we should take stock of where the peoples of the world stand - why are we hero, what are we doing, and what is our duty to posterity? Surely we arc trustees for posterity, and have a responsibility for the future advancement of mankind. Because of this, a suffering civilization has brought into being the League of Nations. The foundation of the League was the first concerted attempt of civilized man to rescue itself from the horrors of war. Whatever failures it may have had in the past, and despite the lack of support from certain powers, the League has been a force for good. I remind honorable senators that though Germany and Russia were not original members, and the United States of America’ has never joined, the League has rendered considerable service to the world. It has eliminated the sufferings of many nations, and repeatedly preserved peace between nations that were on the very verge of war. Under these circumstances, a grave responsibility rests upon those in our midst who state that we should not support the League. Members of the Opposition have avoided the issue which briefly is this: Are we to retire from the League of Nations or carry out our obligations to it to the full? There is no middle course. We have either to accept our obligations or -leave the League. 1 am sure that Senator Collings would be the last to declare that we should retire from the League. Does the Labour party stand for the desertion of the League? The only alternative is to support the League to the full. One cannot give part service to the League; we must either accept the Covenant as a whole with its disabilities, disadvantages and dangers, if we are to strive in the interests of suffering civilization and humanity - for that is the League’s objective - or withdraw from it. Every law, both human and divine, stands for the observance of covenants, and I think that it is nowhere better expressed than in the Koran : “ Oh ye faithful keep your covenants”. That is all that the League and the British Empire are asking. This Parliament is asked in its small way to implement one small part of our covenants. Our good faith, honesty of purpose and self-interest go hand in hand on this occasion. A few days ago, I said in this chamber that Australia, by reason of its isolated position in the southern seas, has much to gain from loyal adherence to the League.
As regards the position in Europe, I speak with some degree of feeling, because T was a signatory on behalf of Australia to the Kellogg Pact. France, one of the nations represented at that ceremony, has had personal experience of war, and ir, has suffered more bloodshed on its own fields, than probably any other nation in Europe. Within a period of 50 years, France has endured two invasions, and has had its soil drenched with the blood of its own sons, the invaders, and those who went to its rescue. I never knew an assembly in which fervour reached such a point as on the occasion of Mr. Kellogg’s visit to France. The document, variously called the Pact of Paris, and the Briand-Kellogg Pact, evoked in the French people feverish enthusiasm for what they believed to be an implementation of the work of the League of Nations - an accession of strength to the League, fathered and fostered by the American people. As I have mentioned, the French knew the horrors pf war and experienced its disabilities and disadvantages. Their fields had been trampled by the rude foot of the invader for centuries past, and the French impressed upon me at the time their tremendous enthusiasm, almost a religious fervour, for the Kellogg Pact which outlawed war as a weapon among civilized people. The ceremony of signing the pact left an indelible impression on my mind. We in this country know nothing of the horrors of war close to our shores. Our country has been free, thank God, from even a civil disturbance involving any great shedding of blood. It has never felt the foot of the invader. The unfortunate people of Europe who know what war means, its disabilities and its consequences, desire only lasting peace. In these circumstances, regardless of party considerations, we should support this instrument of peace devised by man for his own protection and security, and give it an opportunity to succeed. We have no quarrel with Italy, a country to which modern civilization owes a great deal. Although the League may have some complaints concerning the conditions prevailing in Abyssinia, we have no quarrel with that country. Whatever may be the’ merits of the dispute, Italy and Abyssinia as members of the League are bound by the Covenant, and should have adhered to it. Abyssinia was willing to allow the dispute to be settled by the proper tribunal constituted by the League. and Italy having declined, must submit to whatever may be the consequences of the action it has decided to take. Some observations have been made concerning the far-reaching effects of article 16 of the Covenant. Whatever tho Covenant may provide concerning the existence of “ a state of war “ between certain signatories to the Covenant, the League, in certain resolutions with which honorable senators are familiar, has interpreted those words. These resolutions were passed because the principle of peace is fundamental to the existence of the League. The League which was constituted to ensure the territorial integrity of all nations, and especially the weaker ones, and the existence of a state of war is contrary to the fundamental principles upon which the League is founded. In pursuance of the League’s interpretation of article 16, the Member States are now acting together to bring about a stoppage of the carnage at present proceeding in Northern Africa. Some have said that the League has failed. Has the League actually failed? Has it ever previously been really tested? If time permitted, I could draw a clear distinction between the situation which existed in Manchukuo and that which prevails in Abyssinia to-day. I could refer honorable senators to the Lytton report which declared that there was some justification for a general cleaning up of the position in Northern China, but, I feel that Japan was wrong in adopting the methods it did. There may be something to be said in extenuation of Italy’s policy towards Abyssinia, but countries which have subscribed to the Covenant of the League, are bound by its principles and procedure. The League failed to settle the Manchukuo dispute, but that does not mean that it will fail to solve the problem now before it. The League which was established in the interests of peace has the support of the French Government, and its representatives at the League Council expressed in no uncertain terms the loyalty of Franc? towards the Covenant. M. Laval said -
We are bound to a solidarity which will determineour duty. Our obligations are inscribed in the Covenant. France will not fail to discharge them.
We are now asking that Australia, which is a member of the League and a signatory to the Kellogg Pact, shall discharge its obligations to the League. The United States of America has declared that it is not averse from the present proceedings, and Germany, which is not adopting an attitude of indifference, is opposed to Italian aggression. Soviet Russia, which is now a member of the League, is loyally discharging the international obligations it has assumed. Surely, in our loyalty to the Covenant, we shall not lag behind Britain, France, or the Soviet Republic! M. Laval, in stating the position which he considers the members of the League should occupy, says -
This partnership in responsibilities of all kinds in all circumstances of time and place, a responsibility which is implied for the future by such a declaration, marks a date in the history of the League of Nations. I rejoice thereat with my country, for my country fully understands the need for close collaboration with the United Kingdom in the defence of peace and for the protection of Europe.
The attitude adopted by the members of the League has been well expressed in various sections of the Australian press. One paragraph reads -
It will now remain to be seen whether Britain and France will call Mussolini’s bluff.
It is unthinkable to me that the great Australian Labour party has lost its soul,, and will fail in its duty by declining to honour Australia’s obligations.
– It is a “great party “ when the honorable senator wants to put something over it.
– I am surprised that, in discussing such an important subject, the Leader of the Opposition should suggest that an attempt is being made to “put something over “ the party to which he belongs.I am sorry that that party does not possess the spirit it once possessed, and that, for party reasons, it is unable to honour the obligations to which it previously committed itself. Is that the spirit and the atmosphere in which this subject should be discussed? It is not in a spirit of anger or bitterness towards Italy that sanctions are being imposed, but in a desire to serve the best interests of civilization.
Some misapprehension appears to exist in the minds of many persons concerning the meaning and use of the word “ sanctions “. Ordinarily, “ sanction “ means approval, but in League circles the word has a different meaning. It is doubtful whether British law owes much to the Roman law, but the French, Italian, Dutch. and some other systems of jurisprudence are closely associated with it. Those who have been in South Africa recall that, in the Dutch legal system, there is a fair sprinkling of Roman law.
– They call it the Roman-Dutch law.
– That is so. Roman law, which has exerted a wide influence on France and other Continental countries, has also influenced the language inwhich the terms of the Covenant have been expressed. This is not surprising if regard be had to the fact that French is one of the official languages in use at the League. At the Council meetings of the League, French and English are the principal languages spoken. The existing legal system has therefore found expression in various articles of the Covenant, and the term “ sanctions “ is commonly used to express punishments or deterrents. Sir John Salmond, who was a judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand, explains the term “ sanctions “ in his book on Jurisprudence in. this way -
The instrument of coercion by which any system of imperative law is enforced is called a “ sanction,” and any rule so enforced is said to be sanctioned.
He goes on to say that the term “ sanction “ is derived from Roman law. The Sanctis was originally that part of a statute which established a penalty or made other provisions for its enforcement. By an easy transition the term “ sanction “ has come to denote the penalty itself and has been used in international law for many years.
Honorable senators generally have given the bill their blessing. Australia must either honour its obligations under the League Covenant or resign its membership of the League of Nations. I cannot follow the logic of honorable senators opposite. They say - “We do not believe in the participation by Australia in the dispute between Italy and Abyssinia. We decline to carry out our obligations under the Covenant. We shall not vote to impose sanctions on the Italian people. We want to keep out”. I put it to them that such a position would be absolutely inconsistent with our continued membership of the League. Senator Collings has told us that Labour’s policy is the adequate defence of Australia. What would be the attitude of the Labour party if Australia were menaced by a foreign nation? If we cannot be trusted to support the League in a dispute between other member States, would Labour expect the League to take adequate measures to defend Australia if this country were threatened ? On behalf of my leader, who unfortunately is absent this evening, I thank honorable members for their assurances of support for the bill.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch.)
Question so resolved in the affirmaive.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
– I wish to announce at this stage, on behalf of the Opposition, that we do not intend to obstruct the passage of the bill in committee. We know that whatever we may say we cannot prevent its passage, and that any attempt to delay it may result in reprisals on a future occasion. I can, however, assure Ministers that we shall oppose the third reading of the bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Amendment (by Senator A. J. McLachlan) agreed to -
That after the word “ not “ the words “ during the continuance of this act “ be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Aiding and abetting).
– I should like the Minister to explain the position of the Italian Consul and state whether the rights of the diplomatic service willconflict with the provisions of the measure.
– The position of the Italian Consul will not be affected.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 and 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 -
The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this act, prescribing alt matters which are required or permitted to be prescribed, or which arc necessary or convenient to be proscribed, for carrying out or giving effect to this act, and in particular for prescribing penalties not exceeding a line of One hundred pounds or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months for any offence against the regulations.
. - I move -
That after the word “for” (second occurring) the following words be inserted: -
providing for the establishment of a clearing office for the receipt, custody and payment, in such manner as is specified in the regulations, of moneys due by persons in Australia or its Territories to persons in Italy, in such -cases or classes of cases as are so specified;
requiring, in such cases or classes of cases as are specified in the regulations, persons in Australia or its Territories owing moneys to persons in Italy to pay those moneys to the account of a clearing office established in accordance with this Act;
providing for the prohibition or avoidance of contracts for the assignment of debts due by persons in Australia of its Territories to persons in Italy and
The object of the amendment is tolerably clear. There is no doubt that, when this legislation conies into force, many debts will be dueby persons in Australia to persons in Italy in respect of various business transactions, and it is only right that the debtors shouldbe required to discharge their obligations. It is proposed to establish, as was done during the Great War, a clearing house, to enable that to be done.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments ; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator A. J. McLach lan) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– It can scarcely be imagined that I, as Leader of the Opposition, would allow this opportunity to pass without making some attempt to express very strong disapproval of the tactics adopted by some honorable senators in the course of this debate. I pay tribute to those who, in debating the measure, were at least not guilty of slander and misrepresentation of the views of myself and the party I represent. I do not object to honorable senators drawing their own deductions from what I said, but I strongly resent attempts - which I believe were deliberate - to put into my mouth words which I did not use. I can say truthfully that I am not thin-skinned, and that in this or any other debate I have not offered opposition merely for the sake of opposition. Yet this afternoon I was subjected to insult after insult, both personal and political. I do not object to such attacks, but I take this opportunity of saying that I know why they were made.
– I rise to a point of order. Is an honorable senator entitled to say that he has been subjected to insults when you, Mr. President, acting as custodian of the good behaviour of honorable senators, have presided during this debate?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I cannot see that a point of order arises. I had noticed that the honorable senator had said that he had been subjected to insults. That was a reflection on the Chair which I was prepared to allow to pass in the belief that the honorable senator was smarting under a sense of defeat. I assure him, howover, that he got as much protection from the Chair as he was entitled to. I remind him also that he constantly interrupted other honorable senators. The honorable senator cannot live in a glass house and throw stones, without having stones thrown at him in retaliation. On the whole, the debate on the second reading was, as was said by the PostmasterGeneral, conducted on a high plane, and during the course of it every honorable senator was reasonably protected by the Chair.
– I hope, Mr. President, that any remarks which I have made will not be taken as a reflection on yourself or on your conduct in the chair. This afternoon you were most magnanimous towards me and for that I pay tribute to you now. I realize that you could have been more severe towards me. However, that does not alter the fact that I was fully justified in what I said and I emphasize that I would repeat my offence to-morrow under similar provocation. The honorable senator who raised the point of order was one of those to whom I referred. At one stage he asked, by interjection : “ Does not the party to which the Leader of the Opposition belongs, impose sanctions on the boss?” I hope that I shall be corrected if on any occasion I should say by interjection anything which is untrue or in which I may have drawn wrong deduction from the remarks of any honorable senator. The interjection to which I have just referred sounds fairly innocent to a man who has not been educated in the’ policy and procedure of the working class.
– The words I used were - “Does not the Labour party use sanctions industrially?” I did not say anything about the boss.
– I accept the honorable senator’s correction, but another honorable senator, led on by Senator Herbert Hays, said that the Labour party imposed sanctions “ on the boss.”
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator twitted the party to which I belong with having imposed restrictions industrially, or suggested that we believed in sanctions industrially. If the honorable senator knows anything of the history of the trades union movement, he must be aware that any sanctions imposed industrially were invoked because of the cruel conditions which prevailed in industry in Australia in days gone by. Gentlemen who belong to the class to which the honorable senator belongs, ought to go on their knees and thank Providence every hour of their lives that such a factor as the trades union movement came into the industrial life of Australia, and that power was given to it by this and other Parliaments to impose restrictions upon bad employers. Were it not for the power of this party, industrially and politically, to restrain the dispossessed in this community, to restrain the hungry and those who have not, and to restrain those upon whom the intolerable burden of unemployment is imposed by a bad social order, it would not be only the dividends or profits of the section which honorable senators opposite support, but their very lives which would be in jeopardy to-day.
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that line of argument.
– The honorable senator suggested that because we imposed sanctions under other circumstances we are perfidious or recreant when we oppose the imposition of the sanctions proposed in the bill. This afternoon Senator Hardy referred unfairly to my remarks about oil. I do not object to criticism, no matter how severe it may be; it does not upset me. It is not a new ruse to tear a sentence from its contest and then make capital out of it, but throughout my career, political and otherwise, I have never knowingly submitted to an injustice without protesting, and I am not going to do so now. In regard to oil, I pointed out in my second-reading speech that, while we refuse to supply food to Italy, while we starve Italian women and children -
That country is being supplied with petrol and it is getting all the petrol it needs.
Senator Dein interjected : “ Sanctions have not yet been actually applied.” Then I went on -
How long more will it be before the League gets on with the real job? We propose to supply food to Italy, but apparently supplies of a more essential commodity - petrol - are to be continued although this will enable Italy to operate against Abyssinia, its mechanized army, including its great fleet of aeroplanes. The Leader of the Government does not toll us why petrol has not been specifically placed on the list of sanctions or mentioned in this bill. 1 suggest that the reason is that great international interests - the oil producers of different countries - want to go on reaping unholy profits out of Italy. Deny Italy petrol and immediately its capacity to attack Abyssinia and prosecute the present conflict would be prejudiced.
Senator Hardy endeavoured to make it appear that I hoped that Italy would be allowed to carry on, whereas I advocated that Italy should be denied oil so that it could not carry on the war. I have been accused of having twitted Senator Grant on a previous occasion with not understanding the Covenant of the League of Nations and the good work which the League was doing. I have not had time to read the speech which I made on that occasion, but it is true that I did extol the League of Nations and asked Senator Grant to remember, not its failures, but its successes. I still stand for the League of Nations, and when the Senate is asked to vote money for its support, I shall energetically and enthusiastically support the proposal. But if it means the sacrificing of one Australian life I do not. believe that we should stand by the League in a dispute such as that between Italy and Abyssinia.
– The honorable senator cannot have it both ways.
– Believing that sanctions lead to war, the Labour party is opposed to them because it is not willing that thousands of Australian lives should be sacrificed, and that this country should again pile up a huge burden of death and debt, and suffer mental anguish and bad health.
– What would the honorable senator do?
– I object to supporting a League which will be utterly unable to carry out its functions so long as certain of the great powers of the world remain out of it.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable senator is not entitled, in a thirdreading speech, to use the same arguments as he used during the second-reading stage, but must submit fresh reasons for opposing the bill as reported from committee.
– TheStanding Orders are silent on the point raised. In such circumstances, the practice laid down in May prevails, namely, that at each succeeding stage of a bill speeches may be delivered in the same strain as on previous occasions, the only limitation being that, on the third reading, they shall be more limited and more direct than in the earlier stages. In view of that unchallengable authority, I cannot uphold the point raised. Senator Collings is endeavouring to correct a misapprehension regarding his previous remarks.
– I have definitely declared that the policy of the Labour party is nonparticipation in the Italo- Abyssinian dispute, because it believes the squabble is not worth the sacrifice of one Australian life. The Opposition is opposing sanctions, not because it desires that Italy shall be supplied with certain commodities, but because it believes that the inescapable result of sanctions is war. It does not believe that war can be stopped by war.
– Does the honorable senator think that the League of Nations has failed?
– It failed dismally when it allowed Japan to outrage China, and also when it allowed the South American revolutionary wars to continue so long as they did.
– How could the League have stopped either of those disputes? It did what it could.
– I hope that the day will come when the League will be a really efficient instrument for peace. It is not so to-day. If I had time, and the Standing Orders permitted, I could show that there are interests which prevent the League from doing the work which it is most anxious to do. If, as is claimed, Australia becomes automatically engaged in war when Britain’ is at war, although 12,000 miles away from the scene of old world feuds, we shall beasked to make this country a firstclass naval, military and air power. But, as honorable senators know, that is impossible. The Labour party is determined to do its utmost to prevent any Australian from being slaughtered at the behest of interests thousands of miles away. I am not afraid that I shall he sent to the war. I am too old to fight. But although in no danger myself, I shall not be a party to sending young fellows there. The
Labour party will keep Australia out of war if possible. Because I say these things, nearly all the adjectives in the dictionary, and others which are not there, have been hurled against me. I have been told that I have advocated a policy of cowardice. The term “ funkhole “ has been used freely. I have heard most of these things before. Between 1914 and 1918, I was called all sorts of names. At that time, “ funkhole “ had not been coined, but its equivalent “ hollow-log “ was freely used. I was told that I was always looking for a hollow-log. If it is true that I advocate a policy of cowardice, then I am a coward, and as such I shall endeavour to persuade my fellow countrymen to be cowards also should -an attempt be made to send Australians to the other side of the world to engage in old world feuds.
– The percentage of cowards in Australia is small.
– I know of no worse brand of cowardice than that shown by old men who, being themselves in no danger of being drafted into the trenches, urge young fellows to fight. Young men do not cause wars; wars are caused ‘by old men sitting in Parliament and other councils. Kings and rulers, not the common people, make wars. The French and German workmen do not hate one another.
I compliment the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) on the restrained character of his reply to the second-reading debate. If he had let himself go, he could have been guilty of a lot of unbrotherly, and perhaps, unparliamentary expressions. There was, however, nothing new in what the Minister said. I am old enough to remember other “wars than the Great War of 1914-18, and I know the arguments that were used in connexion with them. Wc were told that the Groat War was a war to end war. Now, it appears that we shall have to go to war in order to protect the League of - Nations and to ensure peace. Peace is not the fruit of war. A man armed with a gun is not the best advocate of peace. When the existing social order has been altered, it may be possible to get a League of Nations which will prevent war. Why has the world not implemented the various conventions of the League of Nations?
– What about Soviet Russia ?
– I shall deal with Soviet Russia presently. Somewhat belatedly, comrade Stalin has become a hero in the opinion of the present Government. That astounds me. When I heard the Minister quoting M. Stalin as an authority I could scarcely believe that I was in an Australian parliament. Russia, the country which the Minister has extolled, recently had a display of force - tanks, aeroplanes, and countless thousands of drilled men - that could not be equalled by any other country. The creation of this force was rendered necessary because the hand of every country was raised against Russia, whose Communist rulers were led 1o fear that their policy would be upset. It is idle to talk of bringing peace by arms. But the armament race is on ! The job for the ghouls who make a profit out of death has begun, and little Australia is asked to throw out its chest, metaphorically speaking, and pose as a first-class power, when, we have ample scope for the employment of all our energies in the development of this country.
– Does not the honorable senator realize that the armament race could become an armament gallop if the League of Nations were to fail ?
– The honorable senator has used the wrong tense. Great Britain proposes to spend £200,000,000 on its navy, and yet the honorable senator declares that the race could become a gallop! The Government asks that our enormous country, sparsely populated, should parade itself a.s a great power which Europe will hoed. Australia does not count three halfpence in international affairs. The patriotic appeal to prejudices and to the necessity to honour solemn pledges, which the Minister made to-night, has been uttered in every country that ever entered into a war. “ Are we to be cowards ? Are we to ignore our solemn pledge? We have put our hand to this thing and we must go on.” Nonsense! If this policy will mean the sacrifice of Australian lives, now is the time for us to get out of the dispute. The Minister also alluded to the splendid action of France. France entered the League very equivocally, and is only remaining a member very equivocally. It is the bully and the danger spot of Europe, and may yet plunge the Continent into war. For years it has been constructing hundreds of miles of concrete and steel fortifications along the frontier of Germany, and that is a deliberate incitement to -Germany to “ have a go.” But the League has made no attempt to stop that military challenge. The League and Great Britain remained silent while Germany was permitted to re-arm. Germany has been slowly building up its defences ever since tho Versailles Treaty and cruel reparations were imposed upon it. The position in Central Europe to-day is one of the consequences of the war settlement.
– The honorable senator desires to make the situation more acute by not supporting the League.
– I want the world to know that here is a little nation prepared to say that Australia, while prepared to defend itself, will take no part in a conflict abroad. For hours to-day honorable senators have imputed motives and said hard and unkind things against the Opposition. The Minister stated that this bill represented a course of action that other countries would take in agreement to call Mussolini’s bluff.
– The Labor .Daily made that statement.
– I remind the Minister that the Labor Daily is not, as has been said hero this afternoon, the official organ of the Australian Labour party, and also that, immediately the loading article containing that particular statement was published, the newspaper withdrew from that position.
– The same policy was advocated for a fortnight.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral believe that any steps which we have taken to date have even begun to call Mussolini’s bluff? Mussolini is marching on in Abyssinia; women and children are being killed; and all the horrors of modern warfare are being employed there. Mussolini has called the League’s bluff. Only yesterday, according to press reports, he told the League of Nations that it could proceed with its sanctions; that he would settle one score first and would deal with the others later. Despite that statement, I am told that the Labour party is wrong in stating that sanctions must inevitably lead to war. I said earlier that unless sanctions are childish puerility or entirely dishonest and not intended to be proceeded with, they must inevitably be followed .by war. Australia should not participate in such a conflict. The PostmasterGeneral made an eloquent appeal and might have reduced me to tears, but that I am too old and too experienced to be influenced by such tactics. He said that the Labour party has fallen from grace; that there was a time when it had wonderful ideals, and when its members would stand by their compact. I began to imagine that I was an absolute criminal for being associated with the present Labour party, when, like a flash, the question came to my mind: How did these gentleman and their predecessors treat that splendid old Labour party led by Andrew Fisher?
– I supported compulsory military service. The Labour party stood for that principle in those days, though it “ ratted “ on it subsequently.
– In those times everything that the Labour party did was anathema and wrong. We were called cowards and cold-footers. Unionism and every other principle adopted by the Labour party was frowned upon. The Postmaster-General, in a final appeal to members of the Opposition, told us what good fellows the members of the party were 20, 30, and 40 years ago. I happened to be one of the good fellows of those days who was a bad fellow in those days, and was persecuted socially and economically because of my advocacy of Labour’s policy.
– Did the honorable senator support compulsory military training at that time?
– No. But because it was the policy of the Labour party, I had to agree to it.
– Against the honorable senator’s principles ?
– I remained silent on the subject of compulsory training until I, with others, was able to get that policy altered.
The whole of this sitting has been occupied in railing against the Opposition. One of the penalties of greatness is that the Leader of the Opposition has to hop over first and be the target for the shot and shell. But right down the years I have thrived on criticism. However, I realize that regardless of what we say the servile majority supporting the Government will enable this measure to be passed. Nevertheless this Government cannot silence the three men who constitute the Opposition. Although hour after hour is spent in attempts to show us where we are wrong and in distorting passages from our speeches, we shall not be prevented from making ourselves as effective in opposition as possible.Without the Opposition, this chamber would be worthless as a legislative body. I remind the PostmasterGeneral and honorable senators who have figured in the denunciation of the Labour party that we are His Majesty’s Opposition, and without us in this chamber the procedure of constitutional government becomes a farce. Let ii be remembered that no bill can become law in this Parliament until we have expressed our views on it, if we so desire. These somewhat disjointed remarks come from the bottom of my heart. I regret that I have been unable to persuade a majority of the Senate to oppose the bill, because I firmly believe that the ultimate result of its passage will be not to stop the conflict between Italy and Abyssinia, hut to embroil Australiain another world conflict.
– I congratulate Senator Hardy upon the able manner in which he marshalled his so-called facts; but 1 was surprised that the honorable senator should accuse the Labour party of being in favour of the export of arms to Italy. The Labour party has always been opposed to the private manufacture and export of arms, and consequently cannot be accused of favouring their export.
At the conclusion of his speech Senator Hardy said that if Australia did not support sanctions it would mean the further development of a policy of selfsufficiency or economic nationalism. In passing this measure we are forcing Italy and perhaps other countries to become even more self-contained than at present.
Every war and every rumour of war has the effect of developing economic nationalism in order to reduce the risk of defeat. It has also been said that we have opposed this measure for party purposes, and the next moment we. are told that there are few people behind us. How can the two statements be reconciled? In order to clarify the position perhaps I should say that the members of the Labour party have no sympathy with Italy or its dictator. Mussolini. Any one who has read of the Fascist development in Italy must realize that the members of the Labour party have no love for Mussolini.
– He has gaoled and shot those who support our policy.
– Yes, he has been responsible for leaders of the trade union movement being tied behind motor cars and dragged through the streets of Italy until the poor devils died. We knowhow they have been persecuted and illtreated. How can it be said that we have any regard for Italy and its leader? On the other hand we have no love for Abyssinia. Only to-night the Parliamentary Librarian showed me a book published by the League of Nations picturing the horrors being perpetrated in that country. No one can peruse that book without feelings of horror at the way in which certain Abyssinian people are treated. We have definitely decided to take a certain line of action because we feel that in supporting the League of Nations in this dispute we may be embroiling Australia in another war. Only a few days ago I read the following comments by Mr. Walter Duranty, one of the world’s most prominent international journalists. He said -
The development of the Italo-Abyssinian affair has concentrated Europe’s thought more than ever on the future, and in the opinion of European capitals has hastened the day when the world will be plunged into a conflict more terrible than anything in history.
That is the opinion, not of the members of the Labour party in this chamber, but of a man in close contact with international affairs. He continued -
This shadow of coming war looms black and threatening across all Europe which is cowering and trembling in the darkness for fear of the wrath to come. The majority of the League powers have little faith in the League, but fearing the coming war they clutch at the League as a drowningman cluches at a straw . . . Armament factories all over Europe arc working full blast obviously for war giving prosperity to shareholders and employees . . . The fact is thatEurope is preparing for war and neither statesmen nor theman in the street believe it is avertible.
When we say that thereis every possibility of war, we are accused of suffering from hysteria; but there is no justification for that criticism when prominent men in Europe Bend such messages to Australia. Honorable senators opposite are now silent. In the past members of the Labour party have supported the appropriation of money to defray the expenses of the League. We shall do that again, simply because we believe that it. is endeavouring to ensure peace. We do not however believe that it can prevent all wars, or that we must support it in every action which it takes. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said -
The adoption of the principles of the Covenant tied the hands of the powers. Individual action was prohibited. Eur years the peace-loving nations of the world have been moving in a world of unrealities. Because they were sincerely desirous of upholding the principled upon which the League of Nations rested, they refrained from taking action to check the ambitions designs of those nations which landed the League with their tongues in their cheeks. The League of Nations established to ensure the territorial integrityof all nations - especially the weaker ones - has not only failed to protect them, but has created conditions that encourage aggression.
The views I have just expressed are not those of a member of the Labour party, but of a gentleman who until it few days ago was a member of the Government. Itis easy for honorable senators opposite to play upon the emotions of the people by speaking of the good old Mother Country and the boys of the bulldog breed. Honorable senators in opposition who have similar feelings contend that thepeople should know exactly what is happening, and should they decide to support sanctions we shall have nothing further to say. The course we are following is to ensure peace and to safeguard Australian development in such a way that there will be no need for war.
SenatorFoll.- Does the honorable senator think that Australia should remain a member of the League?
– I have heard that parrot-like cry again and again.
– The honorable senator is not in order in using that expression.
– Then I shall say it is not a parrot-like cry, but that of a magpie. It is puerile for honorable senators supporting the Government to ask repeatedly certain questions that have been answered on so many occasions. Our views on this subject are well known. We contend that war will never be prevented by the imposition of sanctions; that, to ensure peace among the nations, we must eliminate the basic causes of conflict. It was thought, when the peace treaty was signed, that Germany was utterly crushed. To-day Germany is as strong and virile as ever, and now threatens the peace of Europe. Within two years, it will be demanding the return of its colonies, the return of Memel and Danzig, and the elimination of the Polish corridor. It has not lost sight of its objective - a Mittel Europa extending from the Baltic to the Persian Gulf. Italy, too, is desirous of expansion. Its dependence on raw materials for the development of its secondary industries is compelling Mussolini to look to Northern Africa for the satisfaction of its needs. I repeat that we shall never eliminate the struggle between nations unless we come to some reasonable agreement for the supply of raw materials to those nations in need of it.
– The Russian Communists are not in agreement with the honorable senator about the imposition of sanctions.
– It is true that the Soviet Government is, in this matter, supporting the Commonwealth Government; but it did not always hold its present views concerning the League of Nations. In a speech to the July Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Partyof the Soviet Union in 1928., Stalin stressed the danger of imperialist wars, and intervention in the following words : -
The most popular method of lulling the working class and diverting it from the struggle against the danger of war is presentday pacifism with its League of Nations, the gospel of “ peace,” the “ outlawry of war,” the nonsense about “disarmament” and so forth. Imperialist pacificism is an instrument for the preparation ofwar and for the masking of those preparations bypharisaical talk about peace. Without this pacifism and its instrument, the League of Nations, the ‘preparations for war under present conditions would be impossible.
That was Stalin’s opinion of the League of Nations in 1928. To-day, theSoviet is behind the League. This merely shows that time brings changes in the outlook of governments, as well as of individuals.
– There is an ordered social system in Russia now.
– What has that to do with its present attitude?
– The honorable senator said that a change in the world’s social systems would eliminate wars, and I am reminding him that, although Russia has changed its system of government, it is now supporting the League.
– Recently the Workers Weekly stated -
Should the demand for collective application of sanctions fail, and an imperialist war ensue, the conflict of Italian and British imperialism, the mass movement against war, and Fascism must be brought into action to change the imperial war into a war for the overthrow of capitalism.
– Russia is supporting the League of Nations.
– The Soviet Government is supporting this Government against Italy. The Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) this evening noted, with obvious pleasure, the fact that the Soviet has come into line. But although Russia is now supporting the League and this Government against Italy, its system of government is anathema to the imperialist nations within the League of Nations. It is anathema to Germany, and also to Italy.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the motion for the third reading of the bill.
– I presume that, measures or regulations, similar to the provisions contained in this bill will be carried by France, Great Britain, and possibly, also by Soviet Russia, thus indicating a community of interest between these three great powers; but the effectiveness of sanctions about to be imposed against Italy is likely to be impaired by the antagonism between the system of government operating in Russia and the systems in Great Britain and France.
– We who sit in Opposition have endeavoured to make it plain that we object to the application of sanctions against Italy because of the probable consequences to the people of this country, and I take this occasion to say to the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) that our attitude is summed up in the Latin phrase Bella! Horrida bella! We do not wish this country to be embroiled again in war overseas. It is apparent that a good deal of explanation is called for in regard to sanctions. There has been much splitting of hairs over it on the part of the Government. The former Minister for Health and Repatriation (Mr. Hughes) has said that sanctions mean war. In voting for sanctions when he believes that they will lead to war, he acted inconsistently. Yet members of this party are asked to follow Mr. Hughes; we prefer to be logical. After referring to the explanation by the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) of the confusion among members of the Government in respect of this matter, the Sydney Morning Herald stated -
There remains, as always, the possibility that the covenant-breaking State may, eschewing subtlety and taking to realism, electto make the imposition of sanctions a casus *belli* against a selected league member or members. That, of course, is the risk that has been admitted, though hesitatingly,by Ministers.
That is what the Labour party is endeavouring to prove. In the same journal appears a quotation from an article by Professor Roberts in this week’s Sydney Mail -
Once the economic screw (at Geneva) starts turning, it must bo twisted tighter and tighter unless collective action is to die of inanition or scorn.
There is no doubt that, sanctions mean war. If we wish to make them effective - and I notice that Signor Mussolini within the last few days has threatened reprisals - we must continue to make them harder and harder until, as the Sydney Morning Herald pointed out, a covenant-breaking State takes to realism and elects to make the imposition of sanctions a cause of war. By admitting such risks to be attendant upon the imposition of sanctions, honorable senators opposite throw away their whole case, and prove that the views of the Labour party on this matter are sound. Sir Austen Chamberlain, the ex-Minister for Health and Repatriation (Mr. Hughes), Sir John Latham, Sir Stafford Cripps, Mr. George Lansbury, and members of the Independent Labour party in England, support our views. For the information of honorable senators who are not familiar with the divisions of the Labour party in Great Britain, I point out that the British Independent Labour party claims to be the intellectual section of the Labour movement in that country. That party has numbered among its members in die past Mr. Ramsay MacDonald and Lord Snowden, two gentlemen who at the commencement of the last war were opposed to war, but who with the lapse of time, and by the good will of the people of England, became respectively Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Thus the Leader of the Opposition is able to stand a good deal of the verbal whipping of honorable senators opposite ; if he lives long enough, he may bc asked to become the Tory Prime Minister of Australia. Should that happen, I have no doubt that he will receive the plaudits of any honorable senator opposite who is then living. I recall that a gentleman named Joseph Cook came to this country some years ‘ago, and after taking a prominent part in the Labour party, progressed, changed his political opinion, and was knighted. Mr. Hughes did likewise. Sir Joseph Cook, at one stage of his career, said that “ the destiny of Australia is to become a republic”, and when that day arrives I shall welcome it.
– I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the bill.
– I am mentioning these matters because we as members of the Opposition have been ridiculed. In this debate, much has been said about courage. I am no braver than the average man, but I point out that it takes a good deal of courage to be one of an Opposition of three in this chamber of 36 members. The relative strengths of parties in the Senate en courage the majority to become hostile to the minority to an extraordinary degree. I have mentioned the political histories of Sir Joseph Cook and other distinguished men to point out that leaders of minorities who have been much abused by the majority have ended their careers by leading the majority. This bill should not be passed. Although the Opposition numbers only three, we may be the intellectual three of the 3U honorable senators in this chamber. It may be that we see further into the future than do honorable senators opposite. Our ideas on this matter are sound. Honorable senators opposite have said that the war is not on; the war is on. Although Italy has penetrated a distance of 50 miles into Abyssinian territory, it has not made a declaration of war, and, it is stated, Abyssinia is not at war although it is being bombed by Italians and being overrun by Italian tanks and armies. We claim that the war will extend immediately sanctions are imposed. There cannot be the slightest doubt about that, and in that view we arn supported by the greatest organ of conservative opinion in this country - the Sydney Morning Herald.
– Does the word “ war “ appear in the hill?
– The word “ sanctions “ is used. It has been alleged by honorable senators who support the Government that sanctions have been applied in our economic struggles, but I had never before heard the word used in that connexion. We do not consider that we are at war in the military sense when we engage in industrial fights. Economic sanctions, I maintain, inevitably mean war. The Sydney Morning Herald holds that view.
– The Sydney Morning Herald says that sanctions may lead to war.
- Senator Dein, in the course of his speech on the second reading, said that Mussolini had evidently come to the conclusion that all the nations of the world are of the same “kidney” as the Labour party. My opinion is that when Mussolini realized that the League of Nations would not take action against Japan for its invasion of Manchukuo and China, he thought it would be quite all right for Italy to invade Abyssinia. The reason why no action was taken by the League against Japan was that the dispute was of too little interest to the principal Member States to make action worth while. The United States of America practically invited the League to intervene in the Sino-Japanese dispute, but the invitation was not accepted. In the Italo-Abyssinia dispute, however, the interests of the nations which were allies in the last war - and those nations are the principalMember States of the League - are vitally concerned. There are, for instance, the French interests in the Suez Canal and Abyssinia and the British interests in Egypt and Abyssinia. If Great Britain, France, and Soviet Russia were not supporting the imposition of sanctions, Mussolini would snap his fingers at the League of Nations.I do not think that any honorable senator will deny that sanctions must be pressed if they are to be effective. Unless they are pressed the last state of the League will be worse than its first, for it will become a laughing stock. But the enforcement of sanctions is undoubtedly likely to lead to war on a wide scale. If the two groups of the Labour party in Australia were alone in this view, they might reconsider their position; but thatis not the case. It will be a very serious thing for Australia if it. is to be drawn into every dispute that the powerful nations of the world, including Great Britain, the United States of America, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Russia, have in regard to colonial possessions.
– Does the honorable senator think that Australia should withdraw from the League of Nations?
– I say that we should not, hurry into war. We should take all care that we do not give offence to the powerful nations of the world. If we are to become embroiled in every international dispute that occurs, we shall be in a most unhappy position. There is nothing disloyal about the attitude of the Labour party on this subject. If the majority of the people of Australia determined that the nation should go to war, we should need to examine the whole positionvery carefully; but we should not rush hot-foot into every dispute of an international character. Without doubt, the outlook of the nations of Europe is imperialistic. Unless they can reach a reasonable understanding between themselves with the object of pooling the economic resources of the world, or unless they experience a change of heart, numerous wars are likely to occur in the future. I have no desire to see Australia dragged into every dispute that occurs. If the League of Nations were functioning effectively-
– It is functioning effectively.
– It is attempting to function; but for how long can it function peacefully?
– So far it has only authorized the imposition of sanctions.
– I know that nothing that I may say will influence the Government. Even the eloquence of a Demosthenes, or the reasoning powers of an Einstein, would not cause it to turn aside from the course it is determined to pursue. The Labour party is justified in opposing this bill, and I am convinced that, if the question of participation in war were submitted to the people at a referendum there would be an overwhelming majority against participation. Instead of preserving peace, the action of the Government will tend to bring about
Avar. During this debate, honorable senators supporting the Government have repeated the parrot cry: “Smash the Leagueand what is the alternative?” They claim that world opinion is behind the League because 50 nations are opposed to Italy. But if France, Britain and Russia were taken from that number, the League would bo practically without strength. When the conflict is over, the world will again revert to the old system of maintaining a balance of power by grouping and alliances. War between Italy and Abyssinia could have been prevented hadthe League said to Italy when trouble first arose: “You must not send a soldier to Abyssinia because you must not attack another member of the League.” Right throughout the negotiations, France has been seeking to evade its responsibilities.. Soviet Russia is at present ranged with France and Britain in support of the League; but what would the position of the League be if Russia withdrew from the war, as it did from the Great War?
I agree that Australia should co-operate withthe rest of the Empire as far as it can; but, even if Great Britain did not exist, Australia would not be left unprotected, because it could make friendly alliances with other nations. Some honorable senators supporting the Government would make it appear that, because the Opposition is small, it has a weak case. That is not so. The Australian Labour party has advanced good reasons why this ‘bill should not be passed, and future events will show that it has adopted the right attitude. As I have said, its stand on this issuehas the support of the majority of the people of Australia.
Question - That the bill bo now read a third time - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. P. j. Lynch.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Senate adjourned at 11.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 November 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1935/19351113_senate_14_148/>.