17th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.’
– The week before last I asked the Leader of the Senate whether the Australian-New Zealand Agreement had ever been submitted to the Advisory War Council for its consideration before it was finalized. Can the Minister now give a reply to my question?
– The answer is “ No “.
– Will the Minister for Health inform the Senate whether he has read the statement published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph yesterday in connexion with the conflict of interests in the United States of America over the production of penicillin? If so, what action has the Government taken to prevent a similar clash of interests in Australia?
SenatorFRASER - My attention has been drawn to the article to which the honorable senator has referred, and I assure him that the Government, by its action in establishing the manufacture of penicillin at the Commonwealth Serum
Laboratories, has prevented any possibility of a clash of commercial interests such as is reported to have occurred in the United States of America. The possibility of the profit motive producing an undesirable situation in this country is indicated in the statement of Sir Trent de Crespigny, the chairman of the Adelaide Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, when he said that the institute would produce penicillin for the services at cost price without any profit, but would expect a reasonable return for any penicillin that might be diverted to civilian use. The Government foresaw the possibility of civilians who required penicillin being charged high prices, and prevented this by arranging for its manufacture at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.
– In view of the report in the press that there has been a reduction by £10,000,000 of governmental expenditure for the months of January and February, and that if that rate of reduction were maintained there would be a reduced expenditure of £70,000,000, as compared with that budgeted for, can the Minister representing the Treasurer say whether the Government still considers that it would be justified in calling upon taxpayers to bear the proposed additional impost of 25 per cent, in respect of income tax paid under the system of pay-as-you-earn taxation ?
– I am not aware of the impost referred to, but I shall have the matter brought to the notice of the Treasurer.
– I have received from Mrs. Brennan a letter of thanks and appreciation for the resolution of sympathy and condolence passed by the Senate on the occasion of the death of ex-Senator the Honorable Thomas Cornelius Brennan.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Transport and External Territories has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) Some requests for assistance to undertake rural production have been received from ex-servicemen.
The Government is considering plans for the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen with rural experience which will provide for reemployment, rehabilitation and settlement.
Debate resumed from the 15th March (vide page 1320), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the following paper be printed: - “ Australian-New Zealand Agreement 1944 - Ministerial Statement”.
.- The purposes of this agreement have been misinterpreted by members of the Opposition. It outlines certain objectives which are desired by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, two nations in the Southern Pacific whose interests intrade and other matters are closely associated. The only fault that can be found is that the agreement was not made many years ago. At long last, the
Governments of these two important portions of the British Empire have announced to the world that they have a vital interest in the future of the Pacific. Whatever criticism has been voiced must be regarded as criticism of the Governments which made the agreement. It has been argued that the making of the agreement is tantamount to showing some disrespect to both the United Kingdom and the United States of America. I remind honorable senators that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), who initiated the discussions and was the principal representative of the Commonwealth in the negotiations which resulted in the making of the agreement, made two visits abroad, and was a singularly successful diplomatic representative of this country in both Britain and the United States of America. That claim will not be challenged. Nor can it be denied that when the Commonwealth Government sought , the intervention of the United States of America in measures concerning the defence of this country, the right honorable gentleman went out of his way to insure that there should be no possible slight of the Old Country. I have said on different occasions that at that particular time there was complete realization in this country of the fact that Britain had its hands full. and could not send to us the assistance which we ultimately received from the United States of America. It is utterly absurd to suggest that the making of this agreement can have any significance from the aspect of disloyalty. When the history of the Empire has to be written, the part ti1 at has been played in it by Australia and New Zealand, particularly in the three wars that have occurred in our lifetime, will be given singularly creditable mention, lt is admitted that the work done by our men has been excellent. I -commend the Commonwealth Government “which gave all the aid that was possible to Britain in the parlous state in which it found itself after the evacuation of Dunkirk. The evidence is overwhelming that Australia is all the time conscious of the fact that it is British. In making this agreement, it is preparing for a joint presentation of views at the conferences that will ensue upon the cessation of hostilities. To describe it as a retrograde step, is not right. The press of both the United States of America and the United Kingdom has paid tribute to the initiative that has been displayed in preparing for future events, despite our intense absorption in the war effort. Honorable senators opposite eulogized the Government of New Zealand recently during the consideration of social security measures, and described it as a wonderfully moderate Labour Government. It is a Government of the same political colour as the Commonwealth Government. Being a Labour Government, it naturally plans ahead. That is the “ long suit of Labour administrations; they are always looking for social improvement and means of providing for the future safety of their country. When the war ends, both this country and New Zealand will have to maintain a tremendous force for many years in order to ensure their safety.
– They will need some allies.
– The Allies that are helping us at the moment hold the highest opinion of the Australian people. General MacArthur has said, openly that the effort of the 7,000,000 people of Australia is unexampled in any part of the world. Both New Zealand and Australia are to-day providing supplies for the Allied Nations to their fullest capacity. The problem is a tremendous one, in view of the limited man-power that is available. This agreement will provide a basis for discussion that will be held when the war has terminated. The Australian people are entitled to claim that in 1900 they became a nation, the objective being one Parliament and one people.
– That is not what was said.
– That view was held by the average man when the vote was taken to decide whether or not the federation should be formed. It was considered that the corollary of a federation would be the gradual elimination of State Parliaments. Although Australia cannot claim equal recognition with the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Russia. nevertheless we are recognized as very progressive. We are an alert people who are trying to advance the social and economic welfare of Australia. Our standard of education and the physical standard of our people are very high, and I say that without having had the opportunity to visit any other country. I am always proud to say tha 1 1 am an Australian. We have never belittled the fact that we represent people of British stock. This agreement between New Zealand and Australia will cement further the bonds of Empire, and will prove of practical value to other parts of the Empire when they are in need of assistance from us. The object of the agreement is simply to articulate that viewpoint; and there can be nothing wrong in that. The statement made by some honorable senator’s opposite that the agreement has not been well received overseas is inaccurate. The Manchester Guardian of the 24th J January last said -
The fuller reports of the agreement between the two Pacific Dominions will increase the welcome that has already been given to it. Chey have decided to act closely together in international concerns and in defence, in domestic questions like immigration and native affairs, in the measures to be taken during and at the end of the war, and, in particular, in the post-war settlement of international air routes. There is nothing exclusive or narrow about their plans. They aim at “” regional collaboration” within a great international system. Losing no time - and the making of this arrangement is in itself a good example to us - they want the other governments interested in the South Pacific to meet them as soon as possible to carry the arrangements farther. Co-operation both in defence and in polities is aimed at, and these Dominions are anxious to be working out the plans even though the Pacific war is certain to go on for a long time after the European war is over.
One admires their energy and clearsightedness. Their view of the air problem is an illustration. Each country is to conduct air services within its own boundaries. The international air routes, however, should, in their view, be controlled by an international authority which would also own the aircraft and equipment (and presumably the pilots). If this cannot be secured, then they desire a system of trunk routes operated by the Governments of the British Commonwealth under government ownership. The sooner the proposed Pacific regional conference meets the better, with these Dominions taking a leading part. The war has wrought a transformation. Australia and Now Zealand can no longer remain quietly at home, leaving both defence and, for the most part, foreign policy to the Home Country. They have been close to invasion; in the future they have to act together, but in close conjunction with the other Pacific Powers, both great and small, in order to obtain a secure future for themselves and the whole area in which they lie. It should mean, among other things, greater strength for the new international order and for the British Commonwealth.
That statement by a leading British newspaper is a fair comment on the agreement, and it cannot be said that that journal is under Labour influence. Similar comments have been published by the London Daily Mail, the London News Chronicle, and also the Melbourne Herald, which no honorable senator will suggest is a Labour paper. The lastmentioned journal published a long article which spoke of the agreement in laudatory terms. The only influential newspaper which has, so far as I know, voiced hostile criticism of the agreement is a Chicago newspaper which every honorable senator knows to be recognized as an isolationist rag. The Manchester Guardian further states -
The making of this agreement is by itself a good example to us.
That journal says it admires the energy and clear-sightedness of Australia and New Zealand in making the agreement. The Glasgow Herald says -
Not even after the last war - when Australia took charge of Papua and New Zealand of Samoa - was there any correlation of policy. This development coincides to some extent with doctrine from time to time to put forward in Australia that Commonwealth is, itself, empire within an empire, the power that will in future dominate South Pacific as it is presumed that the United States proposes to dominate the north from Equator to Alaska and Aleutians. These vast issues will not be determined in a day or even a decade and they arc complicated, especially in the case of Australia, .by the need of internal development and an increase of population. But nascent ideas tend to show development of future, and, in some cases, even decide it and. in that sense, it may well be that the Canberra Conference this week will be a milestone in history.
The Scotsman published the following : -
Curtin has not waited on holding of British Commonwealth talks in London but has proceeded with his plan at the periphery by securing agreement with New Zealand. There is nothing disruptive in this procedure. So far as foreign a/fairs are concerned Dominions have the right to act independently of United Kingdom and it seems to be a matter for congratulation that Australia and New Zealand have decided to act in future as much as possible together. There is, in fact, a welcome touch of realism in their thinking, for Imperial defence has, in the past, been rather too much of an Imperial and too little of a Dominion problem. It should bc noted, however, that Curtin and Fraser have no intention of breaking up unity of Imperial defence. Weakness of our defensive system in the Pacific as demonstrated by Japan’s success is clear argument for close co-operation in Empire defence, combined with development of .regional system based on island screen which could be made more effective protection for the two Dominions. Their contact with other nations associated with Pacific questions may be the key to successful international collaboration.
The Liverpool Daily’ Post made this comment -
A really practical contribution to enlightened shaping of a new world order.
The Birmingham Post has also eulogized the agreement, whilst the London Sunday Observer had this to say about it -
Although it states very frankly national views of Australia and New Zealand, it also is an important international document.
The Newcastle Journal says -
What they have found necessary to their safety and well-being may indeed be found no Icsu essential by other Dominions.
The London Evening Standard commented upon the agreement as follows : -
But for the valiant war effort in defending Australia and New Zealand against the Japanese peril the Eastern Axis might have completed conquest of Pacific before arrival of American help and changed the entire prospects of the war in Europe. They insisted that policy to be pursued should promote interests of all United Nations while deepening their own connexion with Great Britain. So the principle of trusteeship extends from London to Canberra and to Wellington - to places where its vigorous application can restore most effectively white man’s prestige in the Far .East. This is fine initiative. It is a fine justification of ideas which inspire British Empire. It. is a fine contribution to prosperity with which, through victory in the war, the United Nations will endow the world in peace.
It would take me an hour to quote extracts from leading overseas newspapers which have commented favorably upon the agreement. The note struck by all those journals i3 that the agreement represents an honest attempt to establish systematic collaboration between two important members of the British Commonwealth.
– What of the criticisms?
– The only criticisms I have seen were those in a certain section of the press in the United States of America representing isolationist and anti-British elements. I do not propose to quote from them. It has been alleged that the censorship has been used to prevent comment on this agreement from being sent abroad. That is denied by the Government. I have made inquiries, and I can discover nothing to support the allegation. On the other hand, the Attorney-General and the Department of Information very properly released statements about the agreement to the Australian press and for transmission to other parts of the world, regarding it as an important item of news. The making of this agreement indicates that Australia and New Zealand are looking ahead. They are not seeking to impose their will on the bigger nations, but they are taking this opportunity to let the world know their views on defence, aviation and the control of native populations. The action of Australia and New Zealand can in no sense be construed as arrogant or offensive to our Allies, whose assistance has been almost indispensable to our protection. The only defect I can see in the agreement is that it is eighteen or twenty years too late. Australia and New Zealand are now making their voices heard in the world for obvious reasons. Two years ago, we were in a very serious situation because of our unpreparedness. I do not seek to lay the blame for that on any political party. The situation that arose was extraordinary, and one for which no one could have fully prepared.
The Government has been careful to ensure that the authorities in the United. States of America are given the proper slant on Australian affairs. Active collaboration is maintained with the representatives of the United States of America in Australia. Discussions occur almost daily on such subjects as trade requirements, lend-lease aid, and supplies to allied troops. After the United States of America came into the war, the Minister for External Affairs visited Washington and London, and received a welcome equal to that accorded to any Australian Minister. He made Australia’s position quite clear to the authorities in London. The Government of Great Britain is satisfied that we in Australia are doing everything possible to supply Great Britain with more butter, meat, and other foodstuffs. Any Australian Government would be bound to honour our obligation to supply Great Britain with food, even if it did mean imposing rationing on our own people.
– The Government has not supplied half the quantity of butter contracted for.
– We have supplied as much as the ships available could accommodate. Honorable senators must realize that the position in regard to shipping has been serious. Speaking as an Australian, and as a member of the Commonwealth Government, I am proud of this agreement. I am proud that, at last, Australia, in conjunction with New Zealand, is speaking to the world at large, and announcing what we think ought to be done. We say to our allies in the United Kingdom and the United States of America that we will carry on to the end of the war, and if we cannot put more men into the Army, we can, at any rate, supply them with all the food that we can produce. If Senator Wilson will visit me at my office some day, I shall show him figures regarding the quantities of food that we have exported, and I shall show him also how serious was the position in regard to shipping. It is common knowledge that, up to a year ago, the Allies had lost 19,000,000 tons of shipping. We were in sore straits to provide shipping even for our own coastal trade, quite apart for the shipment of produce overseas. The Government will not yield to any one in its appreciation of the efforts which Great Britain has made in this war. It is recognized that, before the United States of America or Russia entered the war, Britain alone held the fort. I repudiate the suggestion that any laxity has been shown in supplying Great Britain with as much food as we have been able to spare.
I wish that an agreement of this kind had been reached many years ago. I should have liked Australia and New Zealand to have acted in this war as a single entity, particularly in lend-lease negotiations. Australia has now, by this agreement, provided further evidence that it wishes to make the Empire strong. The Government has afforded ample opportunity for debate on the agreement.
– The Government was not so keen for the debate to proceed yesterday.
– Yesterday, we were anxious that honorable senators should have an opportunity to prepare for this most important debate. I emphasize that, as an Australian and as a Britisher, I am proud of this agreement. It is an important step towards cementing more firmly the ties of Empire. The agreement will prove to be of definite benefit to Australia, and I believe it has the approval of the vast majority of the electors of all parties. It will promote the safety of Australia, and will define more clearly our place among the great nations of the world. I do not suggest that as yet we are a great nation. One day, it may be long after I and other honorable senators have passed on, Australia will be a great nation, with a large population. In this agreement, Australia has stated its position explicitly, and without disrespect to Great Britain or the United States of America. We have blazed a trail which future governments will be glad to follow.
– Honorable senators on this side of the House expected the Leader of the Government (Senator Keane), in the course of his speech, to deal fully with the agreement.’ They expected him to give’ reasons for entering into the agreement. and to answer the criticism levelled against it by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay), Senator Spicer and Senator McBride. Each of them dealt very fully with the agreement, and I am sure that all of us oh this side are disappointed that the Minister, in his defence of it, did not go more thoroughly into it. In the concluding part of his speech he referred to questions affecting Australia and Great Britain. We agree with a great deal of what he said in that regard, but I am anxious to know why the agreement was entered into at all. Where was the necessity for creating any such document? Are we -to assume that, before the conference was held and the agreement made, relations between New Zealand and Australia were unfriendly? Is not the contrary the case; that the most happy relations have existed between them throughout the years? Is it not a fact that there has never been any conflict between that Dominion and the Commonwealth? It is not long since they entered into a reciprocal trade agreement with one another, since when they have traded with one another in the most friendly way. Where was the necessity tor drawing up a document which implies that unhappy relations had previously existed ? Why create the impression that our relations were ever in doubt? It would have created a much plea san te r feeling, if such an agreement had been necessary, to place it before the Parliaments of the two countries for ratification. It is not like making an agreement with a foreign country, with which our relations were doubtful, by means of ambassadors ‘and diplomats, to be followed later by an open or secret treaty. It is strange that New Zealand and Australia should now have to declare to the world that they have at last reached agreement on what are practically internal matters, seeing that they are friendly members of the one Empire. Not only that, but they also announce agreement on international and inter-allied affairs. It is a moat unfortunate and ill-timed happening, seeing that we are now looking to directions other than New Zealand for substantial support.
Some of the provisions of the agreement may in the future be of great embarrassment to both countries. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) will shortly attend in London a conference of representatives of the self-governing portions of the Empire, at which this agreement will pro hahbly cause him great embarrassment. Without dealing with the agreement in all its details, I now move -
That all the words after “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ in the opinion of the Senate the agreement entered into by the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Government, of the Dominion of New Zealand is ill-timed and should not be implemented until such time as the Prime Minister of Australia attends the Imperial Conference to be held this year, as the contents of such agreement may cause embarrassment to the Prime Minister in discussing Km pi re and inter-allied questions which form part of the agreement, and may prejudice Australia’s position at such conference “.
This is the only opportunity that we in the Opposition have of expressing, in a definite way, our disapproval of the agreement as a whole. We do not disagree with all its contents, as many of its provisions have been long and honorably observed between the two countries. In what position will the Prime Minister find himself in London in ‘ a few months’ time, when the members of the family of the British “ Empire gather round the conference table? What is he to say when inter-allied, international and empire questions dealt with in the agreement come up for consideration? They are bound to be discussed at the conference, at which he will be present to represent the Parliament and people of Australia, and he will be bound by this agreement, described as a solemn compact, in which this Parliament has not had a voice. But that is not the worst aspect, for the agreement deals not only with matters affecting Australia and New Zealand, but also is all-embracing and cuts right across international matters on which the signatories have formed immature judgment on matters which would not have been dealt with had the proposals been postponed until after the Imperial Conference. What need existed for this agreement? The two dominions were friendly to each other, perhaps more friendly now than ever before, and they were amicably trading with each other. I doubt whether the relationship between the two countries could be closer. The agreement refers to defence, but who would suggest that the defence policies of the two dominions are inconsistent. Whichever way one examines the agreement one must conclude that it is not only unnecessary, but also unwelcome, in that the interests of the United States of America are ignored. Who knows but that it might not be a disturbing element in the relationship between this country and America? Moreover, who are we to act in this way without reference to the feelings and interests of other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations? Other British countries may consider this agreement most obnoxious. What therefore shall be our position at the Imperial Conference if the representatives of Great Britain and the other dominions, which have been ignored in this agreement, take exception to it?
This agreement has been put before us as a document which we may only discuss. “We cannot do anything else. It is improper that an ‘ agreement of such far-reaching character should have been made, except tentatively and subject to the approval of the Commonwealth Parliament. I am sure that no other two dominions would be so foolish as to enter into an agreement like the AustralianNew Zealand Agreement, but what attitude would our representatives take at the Imperial Conference if South Africa and Canada sent their representatives to that conference with their hands tied by an agreement which they had made without reference to us or to any other member of the British Commonwealth? We should not like it, but that is the position into which we by our precipitate action have forced Great Britain and all the other dominions, except New Zealand. When the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Churchill^ calls the British Dominions into a family gathering to discuss measures to ensure their mutual safety and the policy which the Empire shall apply in international affairs, he will be confronted by the Prime Minister of this country - and it may be not Mr. Curtin, but Mr. Menzies as the result of the swing of the political pendulum - having in his hand, signed and sealed, an agreement relating to the Pacific made with New Zealand. Whoever he may be, the Prime Minister of Australia will have to say, “I am sorry, Mr. Churchill. Although I agree with the attitude of Great Britain and the other dominions in respect of the matters of foreign policy which you have put forward, my hands arc tied. I ought not to have attended. Australia has already made an agreement with New Zealand which runs counter to what you have in mind. We have entered into this solemn compact and, therefore, I cannot discuss matters which should be to our mutual benefit “. What a disastrous position we shall have reached. The Prime Minister signed this agreement with a full knowledge of its terms and implications, and fully aware that he, or another Prime Minister, would be attending’ the
Imperial Conference. Knowing that whoever represents Australia at that Imperial Conference should have a mind entirely free from prejudice, he ought to have taken a different course, and it is to be deplored that he failed to do so. I remind the Leader of the Senate that the Prime Minister is the Prime Minister of Australia, not the Prime Minister of the Labour party, and that he will go to Great Britain to speak for Australia.
– So he will.
– I hope
SO, but he should go to Great Britain completely untrammelled as will the representatives of other dominions with the exception of New Zealand. It would be interesting to hear the Leader of the Senate say what led up to the making of this agreement. To assume that New Zealand took the initiative is inconsistent with everything that New Zealand has ever done in international matters. It is clear that this Government took the initiative. Whoever was responsible has no bearing on whether the agreement is good or bad, but where the initiative lay “is clear. I move my amendment with feelings of goodwill towards the Government. I believe that it sets out the proper course to take, for, if ever there was a time in the history of the British Empire when its members should be able to take counsel together free of prejudice, it is now. In justification of this agreement the Leader of the Senate quoted a report in the Manchester Guardian ; but what do honorable senators opposite expect the attitude of a British Prime Minister, or of a newspaper such as that mentioned, to be in a case like this. Would they attack a dominion for having taken this action? No, they are too generous; they do not do such things in Great Britain. Rather would they say, “ Poor fellows, we are sure that they are well-intentioned. They have made a mistake, but probably no harm is done, and when their representatives come over here we shall talk to them kindly and no doubt they will repent, and perhaps take early steps to have the agreement reviewed . This is a most unfortunate happening. It will embarrass the Prime Minister when he goes overseas, and prejudice the interests of this country when Empire problems affecting us are being considered at the forthcoming conference.
– I am not sure that the amendment which has- been moved by Senator Herbert Hays is in order. Early this year, the full Cabinets of Australia and New Zealand determined that the agreement would have to be ratified by the respective dominion governments. In January, the Commonwealth Government ratified the agreement, and in February, similar action was taken by New Zealand, so that the agreement is now in operation. I am at a loss to understand what the mover of this amendment hopes to achieve. Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) read a long screed which, no doubt, somebody had prepared for him, and. which, from start to finish, was a condemnation of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Labour Government for having conspired with representatives of the New Zealand Government, for the sinister purpose of reaching an agreement; yet we find that the amendment which has been moved by Senator Herbert Hays proposes to protect this “ sinister “ person when he attends the forthcoming Imperial Conference. It is also so much “ hooey “. The people of this nation will not bc interested in the amendment because it has been moved with the sole purpose of endeavouring to discredit this Government merely because it proposes no longer to be a marionette in tho scheme of things. The Commonwealth Government will not go on as a “ Yes “ man as did the governments of which the Leader of the Opposition and Senator McBride were members. In the past, governments of this country have been called upon to agree to many things which, although they may have been in the interests of the British Commonwealth of Nations generally, were not in the best interests of Australia. As a consequence, we have just drifted along; but now we have reached an agreement with our sister Dominion of New Zealand and when the war ends, delegates will be sent from these two countries to the peace conference, who will speak with one voice in the interests of British people living in this part of the world. That is a big step forward, but apparently it is greatly resented by big business interests, such as the banks, insurance companies and shipping companies, who, no doubt, would like very much to see the amendment carried so that the agreement would be inoperative. It is most important that Australian and New Zealand delegates to the Peace Conference should be in complete agreement. I believe that intelligent people all over the world regard this agreement as desirable for Australia and for New Zealand. In this part of the world, we are far - removed from the heart of Great Britain and so it was very difficult for that country to render to this nation any real assistance when an invasion by the Japanese seemed imminent. I do not wish to detract from the wonderful waieffort that has been made by the peopleof Great Britain, but when our shores, were threatened and it was feared that bombs might fall upon the women and! children of this country at any time,, Great Britain was unable to render any effective assistance to us. We recall, for instance, what happened to the ships that were sent to Singapore. We do not want that state of affairs to recur in future. If we were to continue in the future as we have done in the past, and acquiesce in actions which might be in the interests of Canada or of South Africa, but certainly were not in the interests of Australia itself, we should soon find ourselves in trouble in the postwar .years, when we shall be called upon to hold our own with whatever powerful nations may emerge in the Pacific as a result of the war.
The interests behind the Leader of the Opposition and his supporters are keenly anxious to scrap this agreement. Australia and New Zealand have decided upon a form of control of civil aviation in the post-war period, which may detrimentally affect shipping companies and other vested interests. Week after week they send propaganda to members of this Parliament urging them to advocate that civil aviation in the post-war period should be conducted by private enterprise. They do not desire the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New Zealand to speak with one voice at an international conference on civil aviation.
As I stated earlier, successive Commonwealth Governments sent representatives to imperial conferences but they were only “ Yes “ men. They were antiAustralian and they ‘left this country without any real protection.” If the Japanese had invaded Darwin after they had bombed it so heavily, I do not know what would have been the fate of the people there. I am proud to support this Labour Government which has ratified the agreement with New Zealand, which spells progress and will have a beneficial effect upon the future of this nation. A majority of the newspapers have commented favorably upon the ratification of the agreement. Members of the Labour party have been charged with being isolationists. I remind our critics that Australia is isolated from the heart of the British Empire, and the object of this agreement is to secure adequate protection for the Commonwealth in future. Aviation has conquered distance. Whereas a sea voyage previously occupied weeks, an aircraft can cover the distance in a few days. Consequently, nations have been brought much closer together. The representatives of the Common wealth, who attend the Peace Conference will be mindful of these matters and will ensure that Australia and New Zealand shall, in the future, get a bigger share from the pool of the Commonwealth of Nations.
– I should not like any of my criticisms of this agreement to be misconstrued into anything suggesting antipathy towards our cousins in the Dominion of New Zealand. There is no people for whom I have a greater regard than New Zealanders, and I know from experience that they reciprocate that feeling. When I visited that dominion a few months ago, I saw ample evidence of that. The relationship between the people of Australia and New Zealand is of the friendliest kind.
The Commonwealth Government has invited the amendment moved by Senator Herbert Hays. Immediately the Senate met last month, I. asked’ the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) whether this chamber would be informed about the ratification of the agreement, and whether the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United
States of America had been consulted. He replied to my first question, but ignored the second. If the Government had been well advised, it would have consulted the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America before it began to intrude into the realm of treaty-making, especially in the area known as the Pacific zone. Even a child realizes that until Australia has a population of 50,000,000 people, the present menace to our peace and happiness will continue. The mere fact that the Allies are well along the road to defeating the Japanese military caste will not remove entirely the danger to our security. Every child and their children’s children will have to realize as they reach maturity that there is grave apprehension in the Pacific, and that if Australia is to survive it must have an acute regard for that danger. One has only to read Japanese publications to appreciate how Japanese universities, colleges and ordinary schools are educating the young people to be our potential foes. Kokunin, the organ of the Japanese fighting services, stated -
Any attack on the Philippines or the Dutch East Indies must be regarded as merely preliminary to our great objective, the conquest of Australia. All these countries, which we have mentioned, are overcrowded, as is Chinn. We must possess Australia, the great empty land of the Pacific. Communications must first be secured and any occupation of the Philippines or the East Indies must be regarded as securing those communications.
Chonosuke Yada, commercial magnate of Japan and a former controller of export trade, made this statement in the Eastern Economist -
The present control of the East Indies by Holland will end in the very near future. India will refuse to recognize British control. These countries will turn towards Japan. It will be only a matter of time, then, when for our own security, at least, we shall be compelled to take over the control of both Australia and New Zealand. If we can succeed in establishing a large Japanese population in Australia and New Zealand, out future trade problems will solve themselves.
That language is very definite, and there can be no ambiguity in its interpretation. The report of the speech continues -
To this could bc added many other statements by the commercial leaders of Japan, who definitely envisage Australia and New Zealand as part of that future Japanese
Empire, maps of which can be seen on the walls of every school, college and university in Japan.
With a menace of that kind hanging over us, it is almost futile for Australia and New Zealand, both countries with very small populations, ito attempt to make a defensive agreement such as that contained ‘ in the New Zealand pact, without consulting our great friends and relatives, the peoples of Great Britain and the United States of America. Goodness knows how long it will take Australia to attain a population of 50,000,000; but, until that has been reached., no matter how willing and proficient we may be, we must rely on the assistance of Great Britain and the “United States of America. Apart from treaty making, no matter how attractive it may be from the propaganda and publicity angles - and the Lord knows that enough was made out of the signing of the agreement - there is the wider field still to be thought of. Nothing we do should endanger our future relations with Great Britain and the United States of America. Australia, and even New Zealand, are only inviting trouble by entering into such pacts without consultation, first of all, with our stronger friends, Great Britain and the United States of America. We are deliberately provoking retaliation on the part of our Allies by entering into such agreements.
The Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) has mentioned the commendation of the press of Great Britain with regard to this pact, but I contend that Australia and New Zealand have done something with which many people in Great Britain possibly do not agree, although they would probably not say so. The press of Great Britain looks upon these dominions like an indulgent mother who in an admiring way, sees the young cubs of the Empire at play; but should their attitude be mischievous, the mother would cease to be so indulgent and would become more of a realist. The reports seeping through to the Mother Country with regard to this agreement were entirely those given out by the Department of Information, and I doubt whether some of the press correspondents had actually read the agreement. Judging by the comments of the Manchester
Guardian, read by the Leader of the Senate, I should say definitely that they had not read the agreement. To ignore the Mother Country and the United States of America on the one hand, and yet to include in the agreement a reference to future consultations with them regarding the defence zone of the Pacific, is one of the features of the agreement which rather astonishes me. Clause 22 of the agreement states -
In the event of failure to obtain a satisfactory international agreement to establish and govern the use of international air trunk routes, the two Governments will support u system of air trunk routes controlled and operated by Governments of the British Commonwealth of Nations under government ownership.
In clause 30 there is another reference to the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America and to the French Committee of National Liberation. It is astonishing to me that this agreement was made between two British Dominions without consultation with the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Had those two Governments been consulted, I think that the Leader of the Senate would have answered the question I addressed to him three weeks ago regarding the matter, but he ignored it. It is strange that a pact should be made between two countries and that provisions should be made in it with regard to other governments which have not been consulted at all as to the drafting of the agreement. That indicates an amateurish hand, and does not promise well for future agreements in which Australia may be interested.
Curiosity on my part has been caused by clause 13 of the agreement which provides -
The two Governments agree that, within the framework of a general system of world security, a regional zone of defence comprising the South-West and South Pacific areas shall be established and that this zone should be based on Australia and New Zealand, stretching through the arc of islands north and northeast of Australia, to Western Samoa and the Cook Islands.
Here again is a rather delicate intrusion into matters in which other countries are vitally concerned, but they have not been consulted about the drafting of the agreement despite that they are our Allies.
If we described an arc off the western coast of Australia along a line representing about 113 degrees east longitude to the north of the Equator and down to western Samoa, which would be about 164 degrees west longitude, we should take in approximately the “whole of the Netherlands East Indies, the Portuguese possession of Timor, the Carolines, and the Mariana Islands. We could go still farther north to the south of the Philippines and then down to western Samoa. That would embrace an area which has nothing whatsoever to do with Australia or New Zealand. In fact, it is impertinent to put into this agreement vaguely worded expressions which could be construed to mean almost anything. If we are to enter into a specific pact, as this agreement purports to be, we should, be specifie in our language,, or we may be misunderstood. To suggest that Australia and New Zealand, without consultation “with the Mother Country or the United States of America, will draw an arc, defining a common defence zone through former possessions of the Kingdom of Holland, the Portuguese Republic and the United States of America is sheer impertinence and may lead to complications to the detriment of Australia in negotiations with those countries at the peace table. Therefore, this agreement is a very poor example of Australian diplomacy and the publicity associated with the signing of the document was wholly unwarranted. I realize. . that among Australians can be found men of sufficient ability and experience to prove themselves the equal of statesmen in any other country in the drafting and making of treaties, but I suggest that this pact shows the imprint of an amateur, and the hand of a minor Napoleon who is rather ruthless in his definitions and statements so far as the interests and feelings of other countries are concerned. I repeat that until Australia’s population reaches: the 50,000,000 mark we shall, have to be very careful of what we say or do in any matter that concerns any of our Allies ; and we should avoid giving gratuitous insults to those countries, because this pact is a gratuitous insult to some- of our Allies. Therefore, I support the amendment moved by Senator Herbert Hays.
– Senator Allan MacDonald said that. he knew of no people for whom he had a greater regard than our . New Zealand cousins, and for that reason he would not like anything he said to be taken as expressing antipathy towards them, I suggest that the honorable senator merely gave that soft-soap qualification in order to add a sting to his submission that the people of New Zealand have no right to make any agreement with this country with respect to post-war problems. Listening to the remarks made by the- Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) and his colleagues, one would come to the conclusion that the leaders of the two Governments merely conspired to devise a nefarious arrangement to the detriment of Great Britain. I think that I shall be pardoned for placing that interpretation upon, their remarks. No valid objection can be raised to this agreement. It is simply an attempt on. the part of Australia and New Zealand to reach a common understanding for the purpose of ensuring the economic security of the respective countries in the post-war period. That is the essence of the agree-‘ ment, and, therefore, I cannot understand the attitude now adopted towards it by honorable senators opposite. It would appear that they merely desire to drive a wedge ‘between Australia and our Allies. I remind them that the. signatories to the agreement have, for the time being, been chosen by the peoples of Australia and New Zealand as their leaders. The people of Australia have complete confidence in the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt). On behalf of the people of Australia, the Government ha3 seen fit to make this agreement with the Government of New Zealand, which, after all, represent people who are our kith and kin. Honorable senators opposite contend that the agreement is illtimed, and, virtually, the effect of the amendment moved by Senator Herbert Hays is to offer gratuitously to our lenders an opportunity to stay their hand with respect to the obligations we have undertaken under the agreement, and in that way, so the mover suggests, smooth the path for the Prime Minister (Mr.
Curtin) when he attends the forthcoming Imperial Conference. I have no doubt that the people of Australia, having complete confidence in the Prime Minister, will scorn any subterfuge in the matter. I submit in all sincerity that the Prime Minister would not sign such an agreement without realizing the full extent to which he was committing himself and his country. I have every confidence in him. lam sure that in no circumstances would he be a party to an endeavour to break the friendly relations existing between Australia and the Mother Country, and between Australia and the United States of America. When he associates himself with an agreement such as this he knows what he is doing. Much of the hostility to the agreement displayed during the debate by honorable senators oDposite arises from their dislike of the existence of Labour governments in Australia and New Zealand. Both governments, being possessed of vision, are looking ahead to see what can be done in. the interests of ‘the people of this country and of our New Zealand cousins, so kindly referred to by Senator Allan MacDonald. The members of the Opposition are even prepared, judging by their contributions to this debate, to damage the reputation of those two countries in the opinion of other nations. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Government had prescribed limits beyond which Australians were not allowed to fight. I do not know why he and another honorable senator opposite mentioned that matter, but I do know, on authentic information, that in this country there were 850,000 soldiers prepared to fight anywhere in the world.
– Have another guess !
– I am not guessing, and I do not make statements just for the purpose of gaining publicity. There were 850,000 people prepared, so far as the defence of Australia was concerned, to fight on a voluntary basis anywhere that they were required throughout the world.
– That is not correct.
– The assertion has been made by responsible members of the Government in this Parliament. In addition, thousands of Australian airmen have taken part in the battle for Britain since the outbreak of war. .Surely they count for something.
– Where does the honorable senator get his figures? I think that they are wrong.
– My figures are not wrong.
– There may have been 850,000 enlistments.
– There were more than that. Australians have been on active service in our naval forces on all fronts since the war began. I have a son in the Navy, and have a good idea what parts of the world he has visited since he joined. We, therefore, have the Australian Army, Air Force and Navy doing everything within their power to bring the war to a successful conclusion. Do honorable senators opposite overlook t]ie fact that Australian Imperial Force troops have been on active service in the Middle East, and elsewhere? Is it not a fact that the Australian Imperial Force divisions were reinforced from time to time? Members of the Opposition have always desired to get back to the old slogan of conscription, as is proved by the fact that more than one of them have made reference to the existence of two armies in Australia. There may be two armies, but if I understand the position correctly, those armies are under a single command, and in the defence of the islands to the. no nth of this country, it was found necessary to use our Citizen Military Forces because the Australian Imperial Force was overseas when it was required most urgently. So, when honorable senators claim that this agreement is ill-timed, they should remember that many of their remarks may be rather illtimed so far as the interests of the people of Australia are concerned. It is our desire to maintain between the people of this country and the peoples of New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Russia, the United States of America and Great Britain complete unanimity of purpose in the conflict in which we are all engaged.
– This agreement will not help that.
– It will not injure it. I challenge any honorable senator opposite to show in what way this agreement will injure the unity of the Allied nations. The object of the agreement is merely to obtain the considered opinions of Australia and New Zealand in regard to post-war problems, and the relationship of these two countries to the rest of the world.
– It is isolationism.
– Had the previous administration of which Senator McBride was a member been left to defend this country when the Japanese came into the war we should have found ourselves hopelessly in a bog.
– That is only the honorable senator’s opinion.
– No, it is common knowledge, and it is borne out by the fact that the Labour Government had to bring Australian Imperial Force troops back from the Middle East to defend this country.
The Leader of the Opposition had the audacity to say that the Curtin Government had turned its back completely on Great Britain in 1942; but the honorable senator knows quite well that Great Britain was unable to render any further help to Australia at that time, being fully preoccupied with its own war problems. I cannot understand why representatives of the people of this country in this chamber should make statements of that kind.
– It is quite true.
– No. I challenge honorable senators opposite to prove their assertions.
– The Opposition should not attempt to make political capital out of this matter.
– That is just the trouble. Apparently the majority of the Opposition is prepared upon any pretext whatsoever to encourage the belief that the Labour Government is not capable of carrying on the Administration of this country. The Curtin Government was returned at the last general elections with probably the largest majority in the House of Representatives in our history, and I am convinced that the people of Australia are solidly behind this Administration. When they know the facts relating to this agreement, I am sure that they will be whole-heartedly in favour of it. When the Prime Minister, in the early months of 1942, had the courage to ask the President of the United States of America to send aid to this country, he was glibly termed a traitor to Great Britain. I dare say that that is the incident which led to the charge by the Leader of the Opposition, that the Prime Minister had turned his back upon Great Britain. As the Leader of the Senate has said, that is purely political propaganda aimed at creating in the minds of the people of this country doubt as to the ability of the Government to perform the task that is required of it. I answer that charge in this way: It was the Curtin Government which first put Australia on a full war footing.
– There was a good foundation for it.
– There was no foundation at all. All that was in existence prior to the advent of the Labour Government was a mass of cost-plus contracts for which the people of this country had to pay.
– The honorable senator should read the statement of the Prime Minister.
– I admit that during the early part of the war, previous governments did set in motion certain manufacturing establishments to produce war materials, and that they did send our Australian Imperial Force overseas; but beyond that what did they accomplish? Members of those Governments could not agree amongst themselves, and when the Curtin Administration assumed office it had to straighten out a chaotic state of affairs. The Leader of the Opposition expressed the opinion that the most offensive provision of the agreement is the blunt declaration of the intention to resume the control of our island possessions in the regaining of which few, if any, of our men have taken any part. That the honorable gentleman should make such a statement is beyond my comprehension, because it is common knowledge that members of the Commonwealth
Military Forces and of the Australian Imperial Force stood the brunt of the initial attack by the Japanese when they invaded the islands north of Australia. Had it not been for their magnificent efforts I do not know where we would be to-day.
– What has this to do with the agreement?
– Unlike honorable senators opposite, I am keeping within the ambit of the subject before the- Chair. Opposition senators introduce into their speeches all sorts of extraneous matters, and when we on this side attempt to pin them down to what they have said they nsk what have such matters to do with the subject before the Chair. Have not the people of Australia and New Zealand a right to come to an understanding in regard to matters affecting both dominions? What is wrong with the governments of those two countries entering into an agreement on matters with which both are vitally concerned?
– What was wrong with the relations between the two dominions before the agreement was entered into?
– I have been examining the remarks of honorable senators opposite in the hope that they would reveal the “ nigger in the woodpile “. Are they fearful that the Labour governments of Australia and New Zealand will not be sufficiently active to protect monopolistic concerns and vested interests? That seems to be the reason for their fears. Reference has been made to air transport in the future. What is wrong with the governments of the two dominions agreeing on a policy for the control of air transport in this part of the world after the war? In what way have they exceeded their rights in dealing with this matter? I regard many of the remarks of honorable senators opposite as an insult to the people of New Zealand. Opposition senators say, in effect, that the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth and the Prime Minister of New Zealand are too immature to draw up an agreement: the inference is that an agreement drafted by men belonging to a different political party would be regarded as satisfactory. I remind the Senate that the agreement has been prepared by men in whom the people of Australia and New Zealand have confidence. That being so, how can it be so ill-advised, and so badly drawn, as the Opposition would have us believe? The case of the Opposition must be weak indeed for its members to resort to such poor arguments. Let us have a look at the agreement in order to see what justification honorable senators opposite have for their claim that it is obnoxious to the people of Great Britain and the United States of America. Under the heading “ Definition of objectives of AustralianNew Zealand co-operation “ the following appears : -
The two Governments agree that as a preliminary, provision shall be made for fuller exchange of information regarding both the views of each government and the facts in the possession of cither bearing on matters of common interest.
What is wrong wilh that? So far, no honorable senator opposite has been able to show that there is anything wrong with that objective. The second objective reads -
The two Governments give mutual assurances that, on matters which appear to be of common concern, each Government will, so far as possible, be made acquainted with the mind of the other before views are expressed elsewhere by either.
Again, I ask, what is wrong with that? It means only that each government will ascertain the opinion of the other before expressing views in other quarters, such as at mi Imperial Conference. The third objective is as follows: -
In fu furtherance of the above provisions with respect of exchange of views and information, the two Governments agree that there shall bc the maximum degree of unity in the presentation, elsewhere, of the views of the two countries.
Can honorable senators opposite say that there is anything wrong with that objective? It merely provides that, to the fullest degree possible, there shall b« unity in presenting the views of Australia and New Zealand on such occasions as the holding of an Imperial Conference. The fourth objective is -
The two Governments agree to adopt an expeditious and continuous menus of consultation by which each party will obtain directly the opinions of the other.
That merely provides that the two governments will keep in constant touch with each other in regard to matters of mutual interest. The fifth objective is -
The two Governments agree to act together in matters of common concern in the SouthWest and South Pacific Areas.
What is wrong with that? Surely both of those countries have a right, as members of the family of British nations, to express their opinions with respect to what they think should ‘be done in this portion of the British Empire. Paragraph C of the agreement states -
So far as compatible with the existence of separate military commands, the two Governments agree to co-ordinate their efforts for the purpose of .prosecuting the war to a successful conclusion.
Surely there is nothing wrong with that. Some honorable senators opposite have already said that the agreement is illtimed, and is not worth .the paper on which it is written. By the amendment we are asked to defer a declaration on this matter in the hope that the agreement will not incommode the Prime Minister when he attends the Imperial Conference which is to be held a few weeks hence. There is not a word in the agreement to which, any honorable senator can reasonably take exception, and there is nothing in it which could give offence to the people of Great Britain and the United States of America. In fact, I am of the opinion that the people of those countries are more broadminded than honorable senators opposite. Paragraph 13 provides -
Thu two Governments agree that, within the framework of a general system of world security, a regional zone’ of defence comprising the South-west and South Pacific areas shall lie established and that this zone should he based on Australia and New Zealand, stretching through the arc of islands north and north-east of Australia, to Western Samoa and the Cook Islands.
It will be noticed that the paragraph contains the words, “within the framework of a general system of world security”. The inclusion of those words immediately indicates that the agreement has been drawn up, not with the intention to isolate Australia from the rest of the British race and from ils Allies, but for the purpose of pointing out to the United Kingdom and the rest of our Allies in this war the principles which the people of Australia and New Zealand are of opinion should be applied in a certain set of circumstances. Paragraph 14 reads -
The two Governments regard it as « matter of cardinal importance that they should both be associated, not only in the membership, but also in the planning and establishment, of the general international organization referred to in the Moscow Declaration of October, 1943, which organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving States and open to membership by all such States, large or small, for the maintenance of international peace and security.
That paragraph has not been referred to by any honorable senator opposite. Is it because of that provision that honorable senators who have already spoken are opposed to this pact? That paragraph merely implies that the Moscow Declaration of October, 1943, expresses the opinion of the leaders of political thought in Australia and New Zealand that those two countries should bc associated with any other countries, large or small, an the maintenance of international peace and security. What is wrong with that? The League of Nations collapsed because the member nations would not honour its covenants. We have always hoped that a system will be evolved throughout the world whereby the holocaust of war can be averted and replaced by international arbitration. What is the Moscow declaration other than a further effort to determine international disputes on the basis of arbitration, instead of on the basis of brutal war? I again ask honorable senators what is wrong with that. I believe the agreement to be in the best interests of the people of Australia, and New Zealand. It will not jeopardize the friendly relations between those two countries and our Allies in this terrible conflict.
– I desire to correct a statement, made no doubt in error, by Senator Nash. He threw out a challenge, and, if it were not accepted, the public might be led to believe the statement to be correct. He said that 850,000 Australians had enlisted in the armed forces for service wherever required.
– I said that that number volunteered.
– That is not correct. I quote the following from the official bulletin issued by the Department of Information, which is controlled by this Government, dated September, 1943 :-
At the outbreak of the Pacific war 207,000 Australian nien had volunteered to fight anywhere in the world with the Australian Imperial Forces, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian Navy. To-day the figure is 574,000.
Ali asterisk note to that statement reads -
This is the gross enlistment figure and includes discharges, deaths, missing and prisoners of war. Number of men actually serving is smaller.
That figure, of course, is much less than that quoted by Senator Nash.
– The number who have volunteered for service anywhere in the world is 574,000.
- Senator Nash slated that 850,000 had volunteered for service anywhere in the world, and, as I have just shown, that statement is not correct. The figure which I have taken from the Government’s official bulletin is more likely to be correct. I also wish to correct the implication made” by the Leader of the Senate (‘Senator Keane), that at present Australia is fulfilling its contracts with Great Britain for the supply of foodstuffs. That statement also is very far from the truth. In 1939-40, Australia sent 244,000,000 lb. of butter to Great Britain, and from that peak exports of butter to Great Britain declined to 110,000,000 lb. in 1942-48, the decline being more than half. The decline in our meat exports to Great Britain is equally alarming. In 1939-40 we sent 582,000,000 lb. to Great Britain whereas, in 1942-43, we sent only 246,000,000 lb. ‘ Cheese exports to Great Britain declined from 40,000,000 lb. in 1939-40 to 15,000,000 in 1942-43.
– I ask the honorable senator to connect his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– So far -as this agreement is concerned, I applaud the Government for negotiating with the Government of New Zealand in reference to matters of mutual concern to both countries ; but I deplore the fact that the Government should enter into an agreement which vitally concerns domestic problems in this country without reference to Parliament. I also deplore the fact that this agreement contains matters which vitally concern the interests of Allied countries, but has, nevertheless, been entered into without consultation with those countries. The press and the general public are becoming gravely concerned over the present drift from democratic government since this Government assumed office. We are the elected representatives of a democratic people, and we should be responsible for making the laws of this land. Yet, to-day, we are told that certain agreements have been made which vitally affect the whole domestic life of this country and other countries, but in respect of which Parliament was not consulted. I also deplore the fact that the Government has attempted to stifle discussion of this agreement by the Senate even at this stage. This motion was kept at the bottom of the list of business on the notice-paper for several sitting days, and only because of the absence of a Government supporter was the Opposition able to defeat the Government’s attempt to prevent this discussion. The Government gives this opportunity to us now simply because we were able to force it to do so. Otherwise, we should not have been given any opportunity at all to discuss the matter.
The agreement deals with many matters which concern rights which are intimately associated with the lives of our citizens. I refer, for example, to paragraph 35 of the agreement, which provides that the two governments agree thai: their co-operation for defence should be developed by the organization of the armed forces under a common doctrine. In respect of the present and future defence of this country, Australia and New Zealand undertake to organize their armed forces under a common doctrine. If that clause means what it says, and if Australia, insofar as the organization of its armed forces is concerned, is to adopt a common policy with New Zealand, and intends to adopt the New Zealand policy, every honorable senator on this side of the chamber ‘will agree that a great step forward has been taken by Australia in this matter. I propose to discuss briefly the organization of the armed forces of New Zealand and compare it with that of the armed forces of Australia in order to show the vital difference existing between the two systems. Since the outbreak of the war, New Zealand has had conscription. The whole of its man-power has been organized for service wherever required, and in pursuance of that policy New Zealand has maintained during the greater part of the war two divisions overseas. During the early years of the war, New Zealand had a division in the Middle East, and, later, one New Zealand division was in the Middle East and another in the Pacific area. The whole organization of the armed forces of New Zealand is based upon conscription for service wherever required, whereas the organization of the armed forces of Australia is based upon an entirely different system. It is on the basis of two armies, one of which can serve wherever required, whilst the operations of the other are restricted to certain very limited areas. Is this agreement merely windowdressing, is it merely a scrap of paper to be ignored when the Government desires and observed at other times, or does it mean what it says, that Australia and New Zealand are to have only the one organization of the armed forces, under a common doctrine? If it means that, then either Australia must adopt the New Zealand method of organization or New Zealand must adopt the Australian method. If it is in the minds of the Government that, in bringing about this common doctrine of organization of the armed forces, Australia is to remove restrictions on the operations and services of its troops so as to enable them to serve, as the New Zealand forces can serve, wherever required, then I am sure that it will receive the support of honorable senators on this side. If, on the other hand, in order to bring about organization under a common doctrine, it is necessary for New Zealand to adopt our system of two armies, it will be d deplorable, state of affairs. If the paragraph is merely window-dressing, and means nothing, in spite of the fact that the two Prime Ministers have announced their agreement that the organization of the armed forces of the two countries shall be under a common doctrine, and they do not propose to bring them under such a doctrine, the whole agreement is simply a sham, and on a par with certain other international agreements which have been nothing but scraps of paper. I suggest that the agreement should have been brought before Parliament which should decide how our armed forces should be organized.
There are also differences between the organization of man-power in New Zealand and Australia. I again suggest to the Government, I hope helpfully, that it could learn many lessons from the methods of organization of the armed forces and man-power of New Zealand. When war was declared New Zealand conscripted its man-power. Australia did not. When Japan entered the war, the whole of the New Zealand forces were made available, in terms of the Allied strategy, for service wherever required. Australian forces were not. When, some time last year, the Prime Ministers of the two countries were able to announce that an immediate threat of invasion of Australia and New Zealand no longer existed, the latter dominion took immediate steps to adjust its man-nower so as to achieve the maximum war effort. The people of both countries, and the members of every party in them, agree that our aim is to win the war as quickly as possible, and that the whole of the man-power and resources of each country should be marshalled for the attainment of that end, hut we differ greatly as to the method of achieving it. When the threat of invasion was removed from Australia and New Zealand, the latter dominion took immediate steps to readjust its whole war economy on a new basis. Instead of retaining thousands of men in uniform in the home defence forces when the threat of invasion was removed, New Zealand took immediate steps to return its men to industry. When I say “ its men “ I mean the men of the home army. The Commonwealth Government, in spite of repeated requests from members of the Opposition in this Parliament that it should release man-power to provide Great Britain and other Allied countries with vital supplies, has adopted a very dilatory policy in relation to the release of man-power for essential industries. T have before me the report of the Commander-in-Chief of the New Zealand Forces, dated 20th August, 1943, and from it I quote ‘the following passage: -
The hitter portion of the year has been marked by a continual decrease in the threat of Japanese action against New Zealand. Advantage has been taken of this gradual improvement to make corresponding reductions in the Home Defence Army, pursuant to the appreciations provided from time to time by the chiefs of staff. It should be emphasized that the administrative work involved in carrying out these reorganizations is enormous. In all re-organizations of the home defence forces care has been taken to ensure that the ability to remobilize has been retained.
The Army policy is to employ the minimum number of men on home defence and on the various services carried out for overseas forces so as to make available the maximum number for overseas and for industry. This policy has already resulted in the release of large, numbers from the Home Defence Army, and a steady reduction will continue for some time to come.
Therefore, when the situation was altered, the Commander-in-Chief of the New Zealand Army released men of the Home Defence Army to industry. Australia, on the other hand, has not entrusted its Commander-in-Chief with similar powers. This Government desires to muddle along with dual control. Just as it has retained two armies, so to-day it has divided control so far. as the release of. man-power for essential production is concerned. The two authorities which are entrusted with the release of man-power, and which look at the subject from entirely different points of view, invariably clash when a particular individual is to be released. The reason is obvious. With divided control, each organization looks at the matter from its individual point of view. When an application for the release of an individual soldier goes to the man-power authorities and then to a local agricultural committee, that committee investigates it from the point of view of all the applications in its hands, in order to ascertain which are entitled to priority. The man-power authorities may select perhaps ten of the twenty applicants as having prior claim, and these applications are then forwarded to the Army; but the Army may rule that the men concerned are key men and cannot be released. So we find that complete chaos reigns to-day because a civil authority, and the Army are pulling one against the other.
– Where is that in the agreement?
– I am discussing this matter under the paragraph which I have read to honorable senators, but perhaps the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley) is unable to understand the agreement which his Government has entered into, and does not realize that it provides that co-operation for defence should be developed by the organization of armed forces under a common doctrine. Under the New Zealand system the CommanderinChief of the Armed Forces makes a survey of the situation, and, in consultation with the Government, decides, first, how many men are required for service overseas. They have No. 1 priority. He then decides how many men are required on the industrial front and for food production, and they have second priority. Home defence, has No. 3 priority. So, one man is able to make decisions, whereas in Australia we have the Business Board, and the Army pulling against each other. Also, in respect of the release of men for primary production, we have the Man Power Directorate and the Army in conflict. If this agreement means that we are to take a leaf out of New Zealand’s book and realize that it is not necessary to have two men doing a job which could be handled much more efficiently by one, then it will serve at least one useful purpose. I make these suggestions in the hope that they will be helpful to the Government. The more I see of the man-power situation in this country, the discontent, and the falling off of primary production which is being caused, the more I am convinced that the root of the trouble is divided control. Either the job must be done by the Army or it must be done by politicians because when they are pulling one against the other it is impossible to make progress.
There are several other paragraphs of this agreement to which I should like to refer. The first is paragraph 13 which states -
The two Governments agree that, within the framework of a general system of world security, a regional zone of- defence comprising the South-west and South Pacific Areas shall be established and that this zone should be based on Australia and New Zealand, stretching through the arc of islands north and north-east of Australia, to Western Samoa and the Cook Islands.
Nations much more populous than Australia have interests in this area too, and should be given some consideration in the planning of its defence. Before making a hard and fast agreement such as this, other governments which have sovereignty over islands within the area, should have been consulted. I have no objection whatsoever to the Prime Minister of Australia and the Prime Minister of New Zealand discussing problems which are of mutual concern. I think it is desirable to do so; but I am afraid that a great deal of trouble will arise. The agreement was signed without reference to this Parliament, to the Advisory War Council, or to the several countries which have sovereignty over adjacent islands. I would like to make my attitude quite clear: So far as co-operation between New Zealand and Australia is concerned, I look forward to the day when we shall all be one big dominion, because our interests are so closely related that our legislative problems are almost identical. Men of both countries spilled their blood side by side at Anzac, El Alamein and elsewhere. The fighting men of this country have the greatest respect and admiration for their New Zealand comrades and vice versa. I believe that such conferences will be of advantage to the two countries; but it is foolish to make an agreement which ignores the rights and privileges of other countries which are concerned in matters covered by that agreement. There would not be any room for complaint if the Parliaments of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Dominion of New Zealand were to enter into an agreement which purely concerned domestic matters; but when an agreement is concluded which goes far beyond domestic matters, and relates to matters of international concern, without consultation with the British Empire or the United States of America, the results may be quite undesirable. To-day American soldiers are giving their lives expelling the Japanese from some islands in this area; yet the governments of New Zealand and Australia, without consulting the United States of America, have solemnly agreed on what is to happen to those islands.
Paragraph 22 states -
In the event of failure to obtain a satisfactory international agreement to establish and govern the use of international air trunk routes, the two Governments will support a system of air trunk routes controlled and operated by Governments of the British Commonwealth of Nations under government ownership.
– What is wrong with that?
– There is quite a lot wrong with it. This Government, without consulting Parliament, has entered into an agreement to support an air transport system based solely upon government enterprise. So if, for example, the United States of America. Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands East Indies desired to enter into an agreement for the formation of an international airways organization, operating under private enterprise, as the best means of doing the job-
– Now we are hearing the truth. Now we are beginning to learn what all the tears are about.
– I do not desire to hide vn.y beliefs, nor do I shed tears about my conviction that private enterprise can do the job more efficiently. Australia’s prosperity has been built by private enterprise, but the present Government, by attempting to introduce a policy of socialism, is wrecking that prosperity. Whether or not the Government, agrees that air routes should be controlled under a system of socialism does not get away from my contention that it has no right to tie up Australia in an agreement for government control of international air-lines without first consulting Parliament. The people of the two dominions may prefer that international air.-lines should be conducted by private enterprise, but what voice have they been given in this. matter? They send their representatives to their respective parliaments, and they have a right to expect that those representatives shall be consulted on those matters. Behind the back of’ the Parliament the Government’ has entered into ‘ an agreement affecting not only Australia’s domestic policy but also its policy in international affairs. Paragraph 25: of the agreement provides -
Hie two Governments take note of the intention of the Australian Government to resume administration at the earliest possible moment of those parts of its territories which have not yet. been re-occupied.
That intention should.’ be so, obvious as not to need to be stated: in an agreement. Paragraph 26 reads -
The two> Governments declare that the interim administration and ultimate disposal of enemy territories in the Pacific is Qf vital importance to Australia and New Zealand and any such disposal should be effected only with their agreement and as. part of a. general Pacific settlement.
– Is anything -wrong with that?
– In that provision the Governments of Australia and New Zealand say, in effect, that ‘ although American lives are. being lost in driving the Japanese out of those territories, the two dominions shall decide-
Senator- Collings. - No. I draw attention to the words “ with their agreement “.
– The -paragraph means that Australia and New Zealand have decided this matter. There is ample British precedent, as well as international authority, for a nation whose armed forces have driven an enemy out of occupied, territory assuming sovereignty over that territory. I do not agree with that view, but I draw attention to the precedents that have been establish ed.
– Are not Australians also engaged in the struggle?
– Australia has every right to say what shall be done with New Guinea, which is a mandated territory of the Commonwealth. I should strongly resent any attempt by Great Britain or the United States of America to dispose of New Guinea without consulting Australia; yet Australia has the effrontery virtually to dispose of various Pacific islands without reference to, or consultation with, Britain and the United States of America.
– The honorable senator is doing Australia a great deal of harm. Australians, as well as Americans are fighting in those islands.
– I am aware of the magnificent work which Australians, as well as Americans and Britishers, are doing in the Pacific.
– The honorable senator is playing Australia against America.
– I say that the people of the United States of America, Great Britain and the Netherlands East Indies are entitled to a voice in the disposal of those territories. They will, in fact, demand it,, and foi us to say that nothing shall happen to those territories unless it coincides with our view is futile.
– The paragraph does not say that.
– When the time for settlement comes there will have to be a good deal of give and take.
– Australia and New Zealand have merely asked that they shall not be left out of the discussions when the time for settlement comes.
– That is extraordinary reasoning. If all the countries concerned are to be consulted, what is the need to embody such a provision in an agreement? Paragraph 27 provides -
The two governments declare that no. change in the sovereignty or system of control of any of the islands of the Pacific should be effected except as a result of an agreement to which they are parties or in the terms of which they have both concurred.
Many countries besides Australia and New Zealand, particularly Great Britain and the United States of America have a vital interest in Pacific territories, and they are entitled to consultation before any decision is made.
– No decision has yet been made.
– An agreement has been entered into without those nations being consulted. It would have been better if the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand had said, “We have had a discussion, and we think that the time has arrived when what is to happen in the Pacific after the war should be considered. We have certain suggestions to make, and we would like to hear your views concerning them “.
If a note somewhat in that form had been sent to the governments of Great Britain, the United States of America and the representatives of the Netherlands East Indies, we should have got further with our negotiations, and would have been more likely to get our own way than by saying, as the agreement does say, in effect, “ We have come to an agreement ; you can take it or leave it “.
– Is that the spirit in which the honorable senator does his business ?
– I do my business by negotiation with all the parties concerned. I do not negotiate with only one party behind the backs of the others. The only way to negotiate is fairly and openly with all the parties affected. When the Prime Minister entered into this agreement, I have no doubt that he acted with the best intentions, but unfortunately he has led Australia in dangerous ways. The agreement has already been the subject of adverse criticism in the United States of America and Great Britain. That, I suggest, is only natural when a government which professes to be democratic acts in an entirely undemocratic way, as is the case here. The dictatorial methods of the present Government are the subject of much adverse comment among the people of this country. Those who believe in democracy are alarmed at the Fascist and Nazi tendencies which are creeping in.
Sitting suspended from 6 to S p.m.
– I contrast the action of this Government with that of the Government of Great Britain. That Government has given the most serious consideration to the problems that will arise on the cessation of hostilities, and to the control of the territories of occupied countries, but Mr. Churchill has been most careful not to involve Great Britain in embarrassing agreements, for the simple reason that conditions change from time to time. Honorable senators should consider how dangerous it would have been if, for example, the Governments of Great Britain and. the United States of
America had entered into an agreement with General Mihailovic with respect to Yugoslavia. At one time it was considered that he was the saviour of that country, and the one man who was prepared to stand up against Germany and Italy in protecting the freedom and independence of Yugoslavia ; but, as time has progressed., we find that Marshal Tito now represents the body of opinion in Yugoslavia that is fighting for the freedom and democracy of that country. When France fell, General De Gaulle came out as the leader of the Free French, and the one man who was prepared, despite the decisions of his own Government, to fight for a free France. As time went on, however, the French Committee of National Liberation was recognized as the body speaking for France. It would be dangerous to make binding agreements with other countries with regard to what is to happen when hostilities cease.
For that reason the action of the Commonwealth Government in having discussions with the Government of New Zealand, and informing its mind as to points on which the two Governments are in agreement, and on what matters they disagree, is all to the good; but to go so far as. to make an agreement as to the disposal of certain territories in the Pacific without consultation with Great Britain, the United States of America, and other countries, whose fighting men are now freeing those territories from the Japanese menace, can only do harm in respect of future negotiations. Therefore, I strongly support the amendment moved by Senator Herbert Hays. This agreement was signed by the Government without reference to Parliament. Although it embodies the views of the Government and the Australian Labour party, it has not the endorsement of this Parliament, and therefore does not reflect the opinion of the Australian people. The Prime Minister should not have his hands tied by this agreement when he goes to Great Britain. As far as certain French possessions are concerned, it may be that Great Britain and the United States of America have different ideas from those set out in the agreement. South Africa and Canada may also have different views. Why should the hands of Australia’s representative be tied? The amendment should be agreed to, and the Government should say, “ “We are sending Mr. Curtin overseas to discuss with Great Britain and the United States of America the problems of the Pacific, but he will go with a free hand and an open mind “. He should not go as a man who is tied hand and foot by an agreement entered into without consultation with the Commonwealth Parliament and the people of Australia.
.- I am in duty bound to oppose the amendment. Australia and New Zealand have much, in common, and in many respects their interests are identical. Since the outbreak of war in the Pacific they have been drawn more closely together than ever previously. The war has shown the necessity for the utmost co-operation between the Governments and the peoples of the two dominions. The agreement does not bind this country to any specific undertakings.
– Has , the honorable senator read the agreement?
– Yes, but apparently honorable senators opposite have not studied it. It amounts to an arrangement between the two Governments as to how their foreign relations shall be conducted in certain important problems.
– That is not in the agreement.
– Nobody with common sense could, interpret it otherwise. It does not infringe the private rights of the people of either Australia or New Zealand. It does not involve any alteration of the laws of the land, or any charge upon the people. No secession of territory belonging to either dominion is contemplated. Hearing the speeches of honorable senators opposite, one would imagine that Australia was to give away the whole of its external territories. One would think that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) was tied hand and foot to whatever the Prime Minister of New Zealand, might say with regard to Australia’s external policy, but the Prime Minister will have a perfectly free hand when he goes to Great Britain. As stated by the right honorable gentleman himself, the Governments of the two dominions have now entered into a firm and lasting agreement, and will consult one another in all of their important dealings with other powers. Is there anything wrong in two members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, which are isolated from the rest of the white populations of the world, consulting one another on important matters of external policy, when their interests are identical and their future well-being depends on their mutual development? If unity counts for anything it must give strength, and, if the two Governments concerned can come to a mutual arrangement on matters of foreign policy without jeopardizing their own positions, it must be far better for them to speak with one voice and to pull together than to hold divergent views. Honorable senators opposite have said nothing about agreements made with other countries in respect of the post-war period. An agreement has been reached between four big powers about which we have heard nothing from the Opposition. I recall the Moscow Declaration of October, 1943, article 4 of which sets out -
The four signatory powers, Britain, America, Russia and China, recognize thu necessity for the establishment, at the earliest practicable date, of a general international organization based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving States, and open to membership to all such States, large or small, for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Those four powers reached agreement on certain fundamental principles, and decided that after the war they could speak with one voice. No doubt, in the post-war era, those powers, if they adhere to their principles, will be able to speak with one voice with regard to certain important matters. Australia and New Zealand are part and parcel of one of those great powers, and will not be content to be dictated to as though they were little boys as to what they must do, without having a voice in the control of affairs in this part of the world. The point I emphasize is that in the past this Parliament has been merely the puppet of the British Government. Today, however, our Prime Minister, like the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) when he was
Prime Minister in 1914, 1915 and 1916, is determined that Australia shall make decisions for itself in matters which vitally concern this nation. Consequently, Australia and New Zealand set out clearly in the agreement their just claims in respect of the development of this part of the world after the war. Honorable senators opposite object to that because they do not believe that Australia should have any voice at all in deciding what place it shall occupy among the nations in the post-war world. They do not believe that Australian soldiers who have fought on all battle-fields in this war, and on practically all the islands in the South-West Pacific war zone, should have any voice through their leaders in securing the future defence of the Commonwealth and New Zealand. I have not the slightest doubt that, had this Government’s predecessor remained in office, Australia’s claim to have a voice in such matters after the war would not be advanced at all. However, the present Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand arc sufficiently courageous to stand up for the rights of British possessions in the Pacific even though, in doing so, they clash with financial interests who wish to regain complete control of the world’s trade. It is not surprising, therefore, that honorable senators opposite condemn this agreement because primarily it reflects that change of attitude on the part of these two dominions to which I have just referred. As it is true that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, all who believe in the British Commonwealth of Nations will welcome this agreement which strengthens two of the links in the chain. In the post-war period, Great Britain will require the fullest possible assistance from all parts of the British Commonwealth, and this agreement will enable Australia and New Zealand to be better able to render that assistance when it is required to the Mother Country or to any other part of the Empire. No longer should any of the Dominions sit back and accept dictation from outside as to what policies it must pursue in its relation with other countries. Each of the Dominions has a right to determine its own policy in that respect, and it should exercise that right.
Honorable senators opposite seem to overlook the fact that the agreement is consultative in character, and is designed primarily to enable Australia and New Zealand to co-operate in their approach to major problems, and to speak with one voice with respect to those problems. Here again it can be said that unity is strength. The same principle can be observed by all parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and not merely by Australia and New Zealand, when problems arise of vital concern to the .Empire as a whole. In such circumstances all of the Dominions should speak with one voice.
– Does not the control of civil aviation affect the Empire as a whole ?
– Yes. I am of opinion that Australia and New Zealand would not welcome anything, more than an arrangement between all parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations for the organization and control of air services between all parts of the Empire. Honorable senators opposite fear that such a plan will not be allowed to be implemented by private interests which they represent in this chamber.
I now propose to reply to certain points raised by Senator Wilson, whodealt specifically with several paragraphs of the agreement. Whilst he read only those which suited his argument, he omitted to read others which more truly reflect the spirit and intention of the agreement as a whole. First, he referred to paragraph 13, which reads -
The two Governments agree that, within the framework of a general system of world security, a regional zone of defence comprising the South-West and South Pacific areas shall be established and that this zone should be based on Australia and Now Zealand, stretching through the arc of islands north and north-east of Australia, to Western Samoa and the Cook Islands.
Is there anything wrong in the action of the two government? in expressing that opinion? It is purely an expression of opinion, and does not bind either government to a specific course of action. Surely, what Australia and New Zealand have done is preferable to leaving matters of such vital concern to both countries to governments of European countries, who, in the past, have arrogated the right to> themselves to tell Australia and New Zealand what policy they should follow in such matters. If that policy is applied after this war, it is possible that New Guinea and the Solomons, for instance, may be placed under the control of a foreign power, in which case we shall find ourselves unable to fortify islands which are of vital importance strategically to the defence of Australia and New Zealland. I again emphasize that under the agreement Australia and New Zealand do not attempt to dictate to other countries, but simply express their willingness to consult with other powers which have interests in the South-West Pacific Area. Senator Wilson did not deal with paragraph 34’ of the agreement which reads -
The two Governments agree that, as soon as practicable, there should be a frank exchange of views on the problems of security, post-war development and native welfare between properly accredited representatives of the Governments with existing territorial interests in the South-West Pacific area or in the South Pacific area, or in both, namely, in addition to the two Governments, His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, the Government of the United States of America, the Government of the Netherlands, the French Committee of National Liberation and the Government of Portugal, and His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia should take the necessary steps to call a conference of the Governments concerned.
What is wrong with that provision? After all, Australia is the largest country in this part of the world, and, therefore, it is only proper that it should take the initiative in proposing a conference of all the governments interested in the control of islands in the South-West Pacific with a view to devising a plan that will guarantee security to all concerned, and, at the same time, protect its own interests in the future. Nothing contained in the agreement excludes either Great Britain or the United States of America from such conferences.
– Except that the United States of America was not consulted when this agreement was being considered.
– Up to date, only Australia and New Zealand have conferred on these matters; and they have taken the initiative because they are more vitally concerned than any other govern ment in such matters. However, the agreement merely sets out that as soon as practicable all governments interested in the South-West Pacific Area should confer on problems likely to arise in this part of the world in the post-war period. Apparently, the basis of the objection raised by honorable senators opposite to this paragraph in the agreement is that Australia and New Zealand do not propose to allow themselves to be thrown to the wolves in the post-war period. There can be no doubt that so far as Europe is concerned Australia was thrown to the wolves until the Japanese came into the war. We were told that we would have to stand on our own feet, and we had to do so. At the same time, however, we sought aid wherever it was obtainable, and the fact remains that but for the assistance we received from the United States of America, this country would, to-day, be under the heel of the Japanese. Had it not been for the courageous stand taken by the Prime Minister tin that respect, I hesitate to imagine the plight we should find ourselves in to-day. Having overcome that crisis, Australia and New Zealand now contemplate taking another step in their own interests after the war, in order to ensure that these great countries will be preserved for people of the British race. We are determined to put an end to the policy whereby other countries dictate what we should do. The Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand have shown’ outstanding courage in arriving at this agreement. They claim nothing to which either country is not entitled. Senator Wilson accused the Government of bungling in respect of Army organization and the control of man-power. He said that after the invasion crisis had passed the Government failed to take steps to transfer man-power from the armed forces to industries which were languishing through lack of manpower. Although he praised New Zealand’s actions in many other respects he did not say what New Zealand had done in that regard. Neither did he tell us that thousands of men have already been released from our armed forces, and that, according to a plan now in operation, 20,000 will have been released by June next. In addition, tens of thousands of men and women have already . been released from the munitions industry in order to overcome the shortage of manpower in primary industries.
– Nobody knows where they are.
– That may be true of a member of Parliament who tries to do two or three jobs, but fails to fulfil any one of them. Those of us who are doing our jobs know full well where the men who are being released are going. In view of the honorable senator’s lack of knowledge of what is taking place in his own electorate, I should expect such an interjection from him. As regards Australia, adjusting itself after th; danger of invasion was over, honorable senators will find, if they take a commonsense view of the position, that its food production has been stepped up considerably, although we are at war, and tens of thousands fewer people are engaged in primary and other production than before the war.
Senator -Wilson. - Yet we are not supplying Great Britain with half the quantity of produce previously shipped.
-The honorable senator will find my statement quite correct. The improvement has been brought about by the transfer of men from the Army, munitions production and other industries to rural production. That transfer is still going on. Senator Wilson said that we had fallen down on our contracts with Great Britain. He knows that that is deliberately incorrect.
– - I quoted the statement of a Minister whom the honorable senator helps to keep in office.
– The honorable senator may quote figures, but he knows that portions of our contracts with Great Britain have been switched to the allied forces in the South-West Pacific Area to which Australia is sending supplies. He knows the immense quantity of food produce and other requirements, including munitions, that we are supplying to our Allies in the South- West Pacific Area. If we were not sending those things there, they could go to Great Britain, if Great Britain could supply ships to carry them. Nobody knows this better than Senator Wilson. If he examines the statistics, he will find that what we are supplying now from our rural and secondary industries to the Australian forces, to Great Britain, and to the forces of our Allies in the South Pacific Area will create a record in Australian production, in spite of the fact that 800,000-odd Australians already in the forces have been taken away from the work of production.
– Give the Senate the figures.
– The figures aru there if the honorable senator is prepared to check them. If he does, he will find that they are creating a production record for Australia. He must take into consideration all the industrial concerns producing munitions, arms, aircraft, guns, and foods, including dehydrated products, and compare the present output with prewar figures. We are exceeding our prewar production. If we are not supply- ing direct to Great Britain we are supplying our Allies in the South-West Pacific Area under agreement with Great Britain. Great Britain cannot have it both ways. We cannot supply our Allies in the South-West Pacific . Area on Great Britain’s behalf, and supply Great Britain at the same time. Taking everything into consideration, Australia is doing a magnificent job. For the benefit of the posit-war effort we shall be able to continue, in co-operation with New Zealand, to make the weight of the two British communities in the South-West Pacific Area felt in relation to international problems. At the same time, the two countries can co-operate to solve their own common problems. The New Zealand Government, like the Commonwealth Government, is unanimously in favour of the agreement, as are the peoples of the two countries, because it will be of definite benefit to them. I congratulate the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Prime Minister of Australia on the stand they have taken at this juncture. They have shown the world that they do hot intend to follow in the footsteps of previous governments which dominated the two countries for a quarter of a century before Labour took office, and were nothing but puppet governments of the British Government.
.– Queer things can happen in Australia, and this is a queer agreement. The only other queer thing comparable with it occurred in the last day or two, in the appointment of a semi-judicial body to investigate the abuses of censorship. Sitting as members of that body, to try themselves, are the three Ministers who are responsible for the censorship. I do not think that this agreement is all bad. There is a lot of boyish charm about it, much sweet innocence that greatly appeals ito me. It reminds me of a little incident that happened to me when I left my home to come to Canberra on this occasion. “Walking down the street to catch a tram, I saw about 50 yards ahead of me two small boys of eight to ten years of age, with handkerchiefs tied over their faces and toy pistols in their hands. They were playing bandits in the street, and they slipped behind a corner at my approach. I played up to them by crying “ Kamerad “ as they jumped out. This agreement is the work of two very small nations presuming to dictate to the rest of the world what is to happen. I have been looking for the cause of this sweet nonsense, and of the crude wording of the agreement. I find one reason on the first page, which discloses that nine members of the House of Representatives took part in the conference which drew up the agreement. The Senate was not considered sufficiently important to be represented at the conference table. If the conference had had the benefit of the common sense of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay), the intelligence of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) or even the experience of the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) - except that the agreement would never have been arrived at if he had been there to talk about it - some of the crudities which disfigure it might have been avoided. Senator Aylett said that the agreement, was ‘ not an agreement at all, that we are still free, that our hands arc not tied, and that, although we have entered into it, the contents of the document do not have to be observed. I cannot read that into the document at all. The honorable senator says that under it we shall consult the great powers regarding all these matters upon which we have already made up our minds, and tell them that they must agree to our proposals. That i3 the essence of the argument put forward by Senator Aylett. I listened with a great deal of interest and concern to his rather boastful account of the accomplishments of the Government of which he is such a powerful supporter. I cannot help thinking that the United States of America will regard the agreement with a smile. I am afraid that Great Britain will look at it in the same way. When the honorable senator puts up such a bluff in this chamber, I can afford to smile and say little, because such boastfulness is unbecoming to an independent Australian.
– The great point is that we have not offended either Great Britain or the United States of America.
– I know that the Leader of the Senate made that “point when he spoke on the motion. Does he think that the British Government would tell US if we had offended it? It would not do anything of the sort. It would smile and decide to bear with what we had done, which it would regard as being due to inexperience. I am not afraid that Great Britain will be offended by the agreement. I am more afraid that it will greet it with a smile of ridicule, which will be apparent to the rest of. the world. The Leader of the Senate said that the agreement expressed, the desires of the Australian and “New Zealand Governments. I shall read a few paragraphs to show what their desires really are. The Minister also said that they were looking forward. One cannot look very far forward with myopic eyes. Senator Nash - if I may deal with one so recently recovered from the banks of the Swan - practically said that prior to 1942 the Australian Imperial Force, which had been fighting in other parts of the world, had not been defending Australia. That is something quite new. I have heard whispers of that kind before, but this is the first time that I have heard it said in plain language that the men who fought so magnificently at El Alamein and Tobruk, and achieved such a splendid victory in the Syrian campaign, were not defending Australia. Why, the very reason why they went overseas was to defend Australia.
In regard to the suggestion by (honorable senators opposite that this document represents merely a “ desire “ for certain things, rather than a hard-and-fast agreement, let us examine some of the paragraphs. Senator Nash read the first six paragraphs, and had the document ceased at that point it would have been adequate to meet all the expressed objectives. There was no necessity to add the rest of this “flapdoodle”. Paragraph S states -
The two Governments are in agreement that the final peace settlement should be made in inspect of all our enemies after hostilities with all of them are concluded.
That means, in effect, that Australia and New Zealand have agreed that Russia, Great Britain, and the United States of America, singly or collectively, may not conclude peace terms with Germany, Bulgaria, Rumania, or any other enemy country, until Australia and New Zealand are no longer at war with Japan, or that peace may not be achieved in the Pacific until all enemy countries in Europe have been subdued. Yet that is claimed to represent only a “ desire “. Obviously it is a plain agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand. I come now to paragraph 13, which reads -
In that paragraph, Australia and New Zealand clearly make a claim, to all the islands stretching north and north-east of Australia. Are we to claim also Timor, Java, Borneo, the Philippines, Truk and other Pacific islands? The “ arc of islands “ is rather indefinite.
– That paragraph defines a zone.
– But what zone? Apparently it is a zone of islands. Are we to claim the whole of these islands or at least some voice in their control? Paragraph 15 states -
For that purpose it is agreed that it would bc proper for Australia and New Zealand to assume full responsibility for policing or sharing in policing such areas in the SouthWest and South Pacific as may from time to time be agreed ‘upon.
– Agreed upon by whom ?
– That is what I do not know. Does it mean agreed upon bv Australia and New Zealand, or agreed upon at a particular conference? I have no wish to prolong the agony of honorable senators opposite, but I feel obliged to call attention to the maladroit way in which the paragraphs have been framed, and to show just how foolish the whole agreement is. Paragraph 16 warns other countries of the world against interfering in any way with the wishes of Australia and New Zealand in regard to these particular islands. It states -
The two Governments accept as a recognized principle of international practice that thi* construction and use, in time of waT, by any power, of naval, military or air installations, in any territory under the’ sovereignty or control of another power, does not, in itself, afford any basis for territorial claims or rights o.f sovereignty or control after the conclusion of hostilities.
To-day the United States of America is pouring its young manhood into the Pacific war zone to reconquer territories now in the hands of the Japanese, and to keep open the sea-lanes between America and Australia; but in accordance with this agreement, because Australia and New Zealand have decided to the contrary, the United States of America is to have no voice, in the ultimate destiny of those islands.
– That is a wrong interpretation altogether.
– That is the intention in plain language. The signatories to the agreement say, in effect, to the United States of America, “No matter what you do, you shall have no right of control over any or portion of those islands in which your forces are now fighting”.
– That is not the intention of the paragraph.
– I agree that is probably not the intention, and that is why I am drawing attention to its crudity. Paragraph 19 lays down that international air-routes may be established, but only in accordance with the terms of the agreement.
– It does not say that at all. We merely say that we support the principle.
– It is plain that the Australian and New Zealand Governments do not intend to accept anything other than what is specified in the agreement.
– We merely suggest a method.
– No. The Government agrees with New Zealand that a certain thing should be done. At the forthcoming Imperial Conference the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) will be unable to agree to anything that is not in accordance with the terms of this document without first consulting the Government of New Zealand as well as his own Government.
– Does not the honorable senator think that it is a good thing to have a wise understanding?
– Yes, but this agreement is neither wise nor is it politic. I repeat that had the agreement concluded at paragraph 6 it would have been quite adequate. The remaining paragraphs are quite unnecessary. By trying to get too much, the Government has got itself into difficulties.
– The British press does not think so.
– The British press is very kind to Australia. It knows that we are one of Great Britain’s “ pups “. Honorable senators opposite know quite well that, in the past, the Governments of Australia have not been mere puppet governments and that Australia has had complete sovereignty.
– But the honorable senator has just said that Australia was one of Great Britain’s “ pups “.
– That is so. At present it is rather a frisky pup that has got out of hand. So far, Great Britain has smiled rather tolerantly at our antics, but that tolerance may not continue when other nations, which, perhaps, do not feel the same way towards Australia, ask Great Britain, “Why is this far-away portion of your Empire preventing us from reaching an agreement about the future peace of the world ? “ To show that this is not merely a “ desire “ but a definite agreement which runs counter to world policy I draw attention to paragraph 26, which states -
The two Governments declare that the interim administration and ultimate disposal of enemy territories in the Pacific is of vital importance to Australia and New Zealand
That is quite good, but it continues - and that any such disposal should be effected only with their agreement and as part of a general Pacific settlement.
– That is our policy.
– I know that it is. The Government will not enter into an agreement of any kind unless it is in accordance with the terms of this document. That is what paragraph 26 states in these clear terms.
The two Governments declare that no change in the sovereignty or system of control of any of the islands of the Pacific should be effected except as a result of an agreement to which they are parties or in the terms of which they have both concurred.
What are we to make of that; is it an agreement or a desire?
– It means that they would agree with one another.
– The Governments of Australia and New Zealand have said to the rest of the world, “ If you like, you can come to a conference and agree to the things in which we have concurred “. Let us consider the proposal contained in paragraph 30. The Governments of the two dominions agree to promote the establishment of a South Seas Regional Commission on which, in addition !to the representatives of Australia and New Zealand, “ There might be accredited representatives of the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and of the French Committee of National Liberation”. The fact that other nations besides Australia and New Zealand are vitally concerned with the Pacific zone is ignored.
– Australia and New Zealand are the countries most concerned.
– I should say that the United States of America and Canada, as well as many South American countries, are vitally concerned in keeping the waterways of the Pacific free and in maintaining peace in that region. According to paragraph 34 -
The two Governments agree that, as soon as practicable, there should be a frank exchange of views on the problems of security, post-war development and native welfare between properly accredited representatives of the Governments with existing territorial interests in the South-West Pacific area or in the South Pacific area or in both . . .
It goes on to say that- -
His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, the Government of the United States of America, the Government of the Netherlands, the French Committee of National Liberation, the Government of Portugal, and His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia should take the necessary steps to call a conference of tb( governments concerned.
– That means that Australia will take the initiative.
– In other words, Australia will say to the Governments of the United States of America, Great Britain, and the other countries mentioned, “ Come to a conference. We have it all fixed up. Do not worry about it, as all the decisions have already been made “. There are some important omissions from the list of governments; apparently, no representatives of the Governments of Canada, South Africa and South American States are to be invited to the conference. It would appear that Australia is to dictate where and when the conference shall be held.
– The agreement does not say where the conference shall be held.
– No; it. says that the Commonwealth Government shall take the necessary steps to call the conference. In that event, the Commonwealth Government would surely say where the conference would meet.
– Not necessarily.
– I agree that it docs not say that the conference shall be held in Australia or in New Zealand. The idea that Australia shall take the initiative in such an important matter as a conference to determine how the peace of the world shall be maintained reminds me of the story of the bull-frog which blew itself up so much that it burst. We are told that this document, to which are appended fourteen signatures, is not an agreement but merely the expression of a desire. According to paragraph 35 -
The two Governments agree that - (a) their co-operation for defence should be developed by -
the organization, equipment, training and exercising of the armed forces under a common doctrine.
I should like to know something about that “ common doctrine “ - whether it is a Presbyterian, or some other kind of doctrine. If it means that the basic conception of the defence of the two countries is to be the same, it would appeal1 that the Commonwealth Government and its supporters are prepared to surrender that which they hold most sacred, namely, their objection to conscription for overseas service. What is the common doctrine that the two dominions are to follow? The doctrine of New Zealand is to the effect that the manhood of the country shall be required to fight wherever it is thought necessary for the defence of their country, whereas the doctrine of the Government of this country is that no man shall fight unless he volunteers to fight. There is such a big difference between the doctrines of the two dominions” that I am at a loss to know what this common doctrine means. I ca.n only think that it means that the Australian Labour party is prepared to sacrifice what is regarded as the most sacred plank of its platform.
– It could mean that New Zealand will adopt the Australian outlook.
– It could, but I imagine that the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Fraser, would find it hard to change his mind after the things that he has said. I come now to paragraph 37, which reminds me that most Labour organizations set out to do things in a bic way. First, there is an agreement containin g a large number of words; then there is to be an organization to give effect to that agreement. Provision is made in sub-paragraph a for at least two conferences a year. That would entail considerable expense. Then, under paragraph 3S, there is to be a permanent secretariat in Australia and another in New Zealand. These are to be permanent secretariats, and I suppose that the Australian
Secretariat in “New Zealand will be financed by money advanced without interest by the Commonwealth Bank. I am confident that Senator Darcey would agree to the release of credit for such a pui- nose. I could go farther, but I do not wish to be unkind. As I said earlier in my speech, the agreement would have been more satisfactory had it been confined to the first six paragraphs. It can be said of the agreement that it has a boyish charm - the charm of innocence and inexperience. Probably that was due to the fact that the Leader of the Senate was not considered sufficiently important to be invited to the conference. I should have thought that i» a matter of such importance the Leader of the Senate would have appended his name to the agreement. The omission of that name casts a slur on the Senate and. i ts Ministers. The amendment of Senator Herbert Hays would at least show the world, especially the Governments of Great Britain, Canada, South Africa and the United States of America, that there are still some people in Australia who are levelheaded, and have a proper conception of Australia’s place in the world in that they realize that Australia and New Zealand are not as experienced or as powerful as are some other nations, fmd depend on outside help for their national existence. In matters affecting Australia’s future there must be the fullest consultation with tho peoples of other nations rather than that Australia and New Zealand should attempt to lay down the terms on which the future peace of the world shall be based, a.nd that no other nation is to have a voice in the discussions unless it concurs.
– I have listened to every Opposition senator who has spoken on this agreement, but I have not heard one good reason why it should not have been entered into. “We are told that without vision the people perish. “Want of vision on the part of the governments which were in office up to the outbreak of war placed this country in a state of great danger. In the words of Senator Leckie, those governments suffered from myopia. When the Lyons Government imposed a tariff barrier against Japanese goods resentment by that action was immediately caused, and justly so.. That action was taken to protect the Bradford manufacturers. When feeling became hot in J apan against the action of Australia, Sir John Latham was despatched to Tokyo on a goodwill mission. When he returned to Australia he told the story of the difference between the treatment received by him on the occasion of his first visit and that meted out to him on the last occasion, when he acted as an ambassador for Australia. On the second visit, Tokyo had already signed the Axis pact, and;, instead of being received by a smiling and happy people, his movements were subject to police supervision, and foreign diplomats were not allowed to visit one another. Sir John Latham said that Japan was determined to take Australia. The school children in that country had been taught for years that that was the destiny of the Japanese nation, and as soon as possible Japan would see that not one more white child was born on this continent. Yet for want of vision on the part of the governments that were in office in the Commonwealth for many years prior to the war, this terrible menace was not realized.
It must be recognized that the problems of the Pacific have not been settled by the Australian-New Zealand agreement. Those two dominions are preparing their case for the “ show-down “ that will have to take place after the war. Judging by the speeches of honorable senators opposite, one would think that Australia has done nothing whatever to win back the islands of the Pacific occupied by Japan, although in that respect this country has clone an important job. I happened to be in Rabaul when war broke out in the Pacific. Our airmen in the Wirraway aeroplanes had to meet in combat the Japanese airmen who were equipped with the modern Zeros. Where was the vision of the Australian authorities? Better machines should have been provided for the brave men who were prepared to meet the Zeros. Want of vision has brought many a nation to its end ; yet, as far as I can see, members of the Opposition display no change of mentality or vision with regard to important matters before the world to-day. They seem to be oblivious of the flight of time, and the changes that time brings, especially in war periods. I recall that Demosthenes told the people of decadent Greece that they required a new orientation. “ Can a policy which has led us from success to failure “, he asked, “ lead us back from failure to success ? “ Of course, it cannot. No member of the Opposition seems to have altered his views since the war began. Senator Leckie said that this agreement is final and no one darc find- fault with it, not even the United States of America which has done so much for the allied cause in the Pacific region. When I first spoke in this chamber I prophesied the present war, because I could see that it was inevitable. I ‘ said that the present monetary system had brought the world to chaos, and must inevitably lead to a war that would destroy our civilization.
– The honorable senator is off again.
– Honorable senators opposite have nothing to laugh at. What would have been the position today but for the success of the Allies in the. battle of the Coral Sea ? I can see nothing to laugh at in the present world position. The chief interests to be served in this Parliament are the interests of the people who send us here and place their destiny in our hands. The late Mr. Ogilvie, on his return from Europe, said that Australia’s defence must be in the air. He added that the skies of Australia should be black with aeroplanes, but many people -asked, “ Where is the necessary money to come from?” Senator Leckie referred to the policy of the Commonwealth Bank, but the Treasurer of Tasmania, one of the ablest men in Australia, provided the solution when he said that the Commonwealth Bank should be asked to advance £100,000,000 to put the necessary aeroplanes into the air. The policy of honorable senators opposite was to adhere to the present financial system which has brought us to our deplorable plight. What was advocated by Mr. Ogilvie was not done because previous governments did not know their job. What did the Menzies Government or the Fadden Government do, even after two years of war? I told them how the necessary funds could be obtained for the purpose of strengthening our defences in the air. Money was quickly provided when war was declared, but previously we could not get any financial assistance to eradicate slum conditions. The Governments of the Commonwealth and New Zealand have acted in a statesmanlike way in entering into the agreement. When the war is over every nation that has assisted in the ejection of Japan, from the territories which it now occupies will expect to have a voice- in the disposal of those islands. Australia, does not need any more territory than it now possesses. It does not wish to administer any of the South Sea islands, but it desires to ensure that they shall not fall again into the hands of the enemy. This country could absorb a population of 20,000,000. The agreement has everything to commend it, but according to the Opposition not one paragraph should be accepted. Do honorable senators opposite imagine that the Governments of the two dominions concerned have insufficient intelligence to grasp the present world situation? The Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Curtin) and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Fraser, ought to know at least as much as honorable senators opposite, and they came to the conclusion that the sooner this agreement was entered into the better. Lord Randolph Churchill once said that the duty of the Opposition is to oppose everything, propose nothing, and turn the government out.
– The Opposition in this chamber has made an. attempt in that direction.
– Yes, but it has been bitterly disappointed. I have seen democratic measures submitted to this chamber during the last two years which if placed on the statute-book, would have proved of benefit to everyone in Australia, but the Opposition has opposed them because it considers that its duty is to oppose all legislation. On one occasion wc had before us a bill providing for the appropriation of £200,000,000 to carry on the services of government te October last. Members of the Opposition talked for three days and three nights, but the subject-matter of the bill was never mentioned. It is well-known that a money bill cannot be amended by this chamber, but must be either accepted or rejected. The Opposition, in accordance with what it regarded as its duty, criticized the measure, but the bill was passed. Had the Opposition been in power at the present time the agreement under consideration would not have been reached. The Opposition has no vision, and that is why it has had many failures. One cannot hammer a new idea into the conservative mind. Fortunately the present Government has vision and realizes that action should be taken now to prepare for events in the post-war period. Australia does not expect to get half of the islands of the South Pacific. Senator Leckie mentioned many islands and said that Australia had claimed them. No statement could be more absurd than that. 1 do not think that the honorable senator meant a word of what he said. Sometimes I am amazed at the pretence behind many of the statements made by members of the Opposition. In the House of Representatives, an ex-Minister stated that the Prime Minister and his colleagues were arrant curs, but what is the record of the Opposition when it held the reins of government? “What happened at the end of the ten-year period during which the Bruce-Page Government was in power?
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the motion before .the Senate.
– Many members of the Opposition who regale us with their speeches never break an inch of new ground. When I asked one honorable senator why he spoke on a certain occasion he replied1: “We must get speeches Into Hansard”. If that be the reason for the speeches df honorable senators opposite it might be desirable to abolish Hansard. I have heard no valid reason why the Australian-New Zealand agreement should not have been reached. The action was statesmanlike, and displayed great vision, although the Opposition can see no merit in the agreement. When the time comes for a “ show-down “ in the Pacific, I believe that even members of the Opposition will be constrained to commend the Governments of Australia and New Zealand for their action in entering into this agreement.
– After listening to the blackguarding of the Opposition by the previous speaker, and his dissertation on the duties of the Opposition, I hope to address myself to the agreement. Australia has a great bond with New’ Zealand that nothing should ever be able to break. My association with New Zealanders, and probably that .of the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) also, dates back to 1900, when we were marching in column with them in South Africa. I served again with them in the Great War. My brigade, the 4th Brigade, was in the same division with the New Zealand Brigade - men of the battalions from Wellington, Auckland, Canterbury and Otago. And we served together on the Gallipoli Peninsula, where our dead and wounded mingled on Pope’s Hill and at Quinn’s Post. Then was woven a bond which, I regret, was not strengthened as it might have been during the uneasy years which followed the last war. On two visits which I paid to New Zealand in the intervening period I noticed that in the New Zealand newspapers Australian news was as scarce as New Zealand news is in Australian newspapers. So far as the press is concerned, a bond between the two countries has been maintained only by the old Sydney Bulletin, which is a truly national Australian production and enjoys a big circulation in New Zealand.
Much fuss has been made over this agreement. The publicity given to its signing greatly overrated the importance of the agreement itself; and the showmanship and circus work at that ceremony was too ridiculous for words. Even the table on which Queen Victoria signed the Proclamation of the Australian Constitution Act and which usually reposes in King’s Hall was used for the signing of this agreement; and the nonsensical posturing at that ceremony was just childish. I have never had much faith in pacts and agreements. We have seen what has happened to so many solemn pacts. I recall the day when I arrived at Cherbourg harbour in 192S and witnessed the arrival of an American cruiser which was conveying Mr. Kellogg on his way to Geneva for the signing of the Kellogg
Pact. That pact was a solemn, agreement between 63 nations, in which they averred that they would not resort to war without first submitting disputes to arbitration. It was said that that pact outlawed war. It was a most solemn agreement. But what happened to it? It was not worth the paper on ,ville Ll it was written. Consequently, we are making a little too much fuss about this agreement and are inclined to stress its importance as if it were, in itself, of great importance, whereas it is a mass of words in which, no doubt, are expressed some very fine aspirations. New Zealand and Australia should be brought closer together and should work closer together in their common interests; but I have not much faith in the written word. In passing, f. suggest to any young Army officer never to write a letter unless he can avoid it. If one writes a letter in the Army a file is started which grows with surprising rapidity, with the result that the matter taken in hand is thereby delayed. If one wants to get anything done in the Army, the best thing is to have a word with one’s opposite number. That is much preferable to putting anything to paper, because the wretched thing then starts to grow. I am not keen on hard-and-fast written agreements, which are merely masses of words. If the mutual understanding which should eXISt between Australia and New Zealand does, in fact, exist, there is no necessity for agreements of this kind. It is obvious that New Zealand and Australia will have to work together in future to a greater degree than they have done in the past. “We have not worked together so closely as we might have done to the mutual benefit of both countries. However, I do not think that a formal, legal document of this kind, which is mostly wishful thinking, will have any effect on the future intimacy between our countries. Although some of its contents may be welcome, much of it does not mean anything at all. When parties to an enterprise commit every point to writing, it is possible that later one, or both, of the parties may have cause to regret having done so. The glorious brotherhood m arms existing between New Zealand and Australia is a great blessing. Australians and New Zealanders went through the fire of battle together, and suffered and died together; and that bond, the bond of Anzac, has done a great deal to cement friendship between the two countries. When I have gone among servicemen in New Zealand, I have met old friends of the New Zealand Infantry Brigade with whom I served on Gallipoli and later in France. One of my old comrades in France was the late Major Coates, who became Prime Minister of New Zealand. A great bond of friendship, blood, and of mutual effort in war, exists between the two countries, and I regret, as I said earlier, that that bond has not been developed to a greater degree. For that reason, I welcome any action on the part of the Government of either country which will bring our peoples closer together. A. document of this kind does not achieve anything, because we prefer to judge by deeds rather than words. Our brotherhood and friendship with New Zealanders is rooted in the earth, solid and historic, and nurtured by the blood of men of both countries; but such things should not be forced into hard and rigid confines as we attempt to do in this written agreement. Any agreement which we reach with that country should be more elastic in form. Our friendship requires air and sunlight, and room for growth. It may appear in one shape to-day, and in another shape to-m’orrow, because we cannot tell what the future holds for either country. The agreement is rather an ambitious document. Paragraph 8 reads -
The two Governments are in agreement that the final peace settlement should be made in respect of all our enemies after hostilities with all of them are concluded-.
Those words do not mean very much, because until we finish fighting our enemies, there will be no peace. I do not believe that any purpose is served by imprisoning such sentiments behind legal bars as this agreement does. Our friendship will not be promoted in that way. Indeed, the existence of such meaningless agreements may cause our friendship to languish. I repeat that I am not keen on pacts and agreements, because nearly all of the great pacts and agreements made since the last war, instead of helping to achieve what was desired, caused disharmony, strife and discord.
Senator Darcey talked of the blindness particularly of the Opposition, in regard to our preparation for defence. “When I returned from South Africa in 1908, after living in that country for 7 or 8 years, I realized who our real enemy was, and got “ ticked off “ for speaking out of my turn when I said that some day this vast country with its sparse population would be forced to fight for its life against the enemy to our north. In season and out of season during the last 30 years, I have preached in this country, in which I was bom and of which I am inordinately proud, that it is the duty of every man who claims the right of citizenship and the protection of his country to defend it; and in order to be able to do that, he must be trained in the art of defence. Any honorable senator who cares to peruse Hansard will see that time and time again since 1925 in this chamber I raised my voice on this matter which is of .paramount importance. I suggest that m an omnibus agreement of this kind we should lay down what we are prepared to do in the defence of this country. I recall the days when war clouds were gathering over Europe, and we knew that war was bound to come from 1933 onwards. And when war broke out our Motherland, Great Britain, had a poor little army of 218,000 of all ranks and arms, including the British army in India, whilst Australia had an army of approximately 3,000 permanent soldiers.
– Governments which the honorable senator supported were in office for practically twenty years prior to that period.
– What about the Labour government of 1929-31 which committed the most criminal act of folly ever perpetrated by a government in this country by eliminating part XII of the Defence Act. I admit that governments which succeeded it were too scared to do the right thing. I was a supporter of those governments, but, nevertheless, time and time again, I criticized them for not doing what I considered they should have done in the preparation of our defences.
– But the honorable senator always voted in support of those governments in this chamber.
– Did I ever receive any help from the Opposition of those days in my advocacy of this matter? It ill becomes Ministers to reproach me regarding preparations for defence. What happened on the part of our people after the last war was the greatest possible piece of folly. From the year 1935 onwards the war clouds were there for any one to see, but we were satisfied to talk about collective security. I am afraid that history will repeat itself when this war is over, and that we may experience again what took place between the first world war and the present war. It was not peace, but a most uneasy truce. Trouble was being built up again, but nothing was done to prevent it. We cannot have peace without power. The two things go together. If the Anglo-Saxon peoples - Great Britain, its children and the United States of America - had been powerful, we should not have been faced with the awful menace that was growing and creeping over Europe and was bound to burst forth. If, when this war is over, we do not take the right steps, but bleat and blah about an international police force and collective security, cur grandchildren will have to go through the fire as our children are now doing.
– There seems to be some foundation for Senator Nash’s contention that the opposition to the agreement is not based on its merits, which have not yet been discussed at any length, but rather on political prejudice. If the agreement had been entered into by the Opposition as a Government we should have heard very little objection to it. No doubt, great credit would have been claimed for the statesmanlike act, but, because a Labour Government took the initiative and succeeded where other governments did not attempt to do anything, or failed, we are told, that everything in the agreement is positively wrong. I agree with what the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) said -
In substance the two nations have declared a Pacific Charter of permanent collaboration and co-operation.
There can be no objection to that. Surely, it will be agreed that the more Australia and New Zealand can negotiate for the purpose of improving their positions, the better it will be for everybody concerned. Senator Herbert Hays said that the agreement was premature, and ought not to have been entered into until after the Imperial Conference was held. But those who attend the conference will be in a much better position to judge, as they will be called upon to do, when they understand the views of Australia and New Zealand. I believe that what has been done will be appreciated from that point of view.
– “Would it not have been better to express those views at the Imperial Conference than in an agreement drawn up before it meets?
– Before delegates can express the views of nations at the conference, they must first ascertain by means of discussions, negotiations and agreements what those views are. A careful reading of this agreement should convince everybody that it is worded in very general terms, so as to leave the way open for further negotiations, improvements or amendments if considered necessary. It does not claim, more than any other agreement does, to be the last word on the subject.
In times of war, when a .common danger threatens individuals or groups, there is always a tendency to come together for the purpose of mutual protection, collaboration, and co-operation. The negotiations leading up to the agreement, and the document itself, were the outcome of a war-time situation. None can say dogmatically or positively exactly what the war will lead to. New alinements will be formed between nations, and pacts or agreements will be entered into which at present we do not expect. It was never thought possible in the years before the war that Russia, Great Britain and the United States of America would enter into an agreement, but the war situation as it developed brought about an alliance to which peace-time” conditions had been unfavorable. Experience, and the wording of the agreement itself, prove that it. is not-intended to be the last word on the subject. Paragraph 3f>, under the heading of “ Permanent
Machinery for Collaboration and Cooperation”, provides that -
The two Governments agree that their cooperation for defence should be developed by continuous consultation in all defence- matters of mutual interest.
That must mean that continuous consultation shall be maintained with the object of safeguarding the interests of both, countries consistently with the resources at their disposal. Prom that point of view no legitimate objection can be taken to the agreement. Honorable senators opposite have stated that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) is likely to be embarrassed by it when he attends the Imperial Conference. I am sure that he is grateful for the solicitude for his welfare expressed by honorable senators opposite, but I can assure them that there will be no embarrassment so far as he is concerned, and that they need feel no alarm about what is likely to happen. We have been asked what the allied powers will think of the agreement. The Leader of the Senate indicated that the leading publications in Great Britain are quite favorable to it, although I believe that other publications have not expressed such favorable opinions. That, however, applies generally. No complete or unanimous approval can be expected of any agreement. Objections will always be raised, some of which may be quite justifiable and others not. I rather welcome the adverse criticism that we have heard, because it gives us the opportunity to devote further consideration to the agreement, and may be helpful in improving it later on. It has been implied that a dangerous position has been created by the agreement, and it has been unjustly stated that it bears the hallmark, of mere amateurs. I have no objection to the honorable senators of the Opposition posing and postulating as skilled diplomats and professionals, who represent the last word on the subject. They are welcome to entertain that opinion of themselves, but they cannot expect me to endorse it, particularly after their performances in years gone by.
– Their form was bad.
– It could have been better. Statements such as those made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator MeLeay) do not contribute anything helpful to the debate. They are based on mere assumptions, and suggest to an unbiased mind that they originate in either political or personal prejudice. I am glad that the agreement has been entered into. If it has defects or shortcomings, they can be remedied or removed. The important point is that to have the two countries agreeing to coila borate and co-operate is a step forward. This has never previously been done. This step forward is necessary in view of the conflict of interests which is taking place now, and likely to be intensified after -the war. We have a great deal more to gain than we can possibly lose from English-speaking countries collaborating with one another. I fail to see how there can be any valid objection to the agreement. Had those who object to it taken the trouble to indicate just in what respect they consider it to be unworkable or unjust from Australia’s point of view, then the various provisions of this document could have been argued on their merits ; but that has not been done. The whole argument against the agreement has been based more on superficial assumptions in which the wish is father to the thought. It has been said that this may happen, or that may happen, or that somebody may say something about the agreement which will not reflect to the credit of the Governments concerned. Argument of that kind might he interesting enough to some people, but it is not conducive to a reasoned discussion. ‘ It is difficult indeed to deal with the agreement as it should be dealt with when the bulk of the criticism has been of that nature. Paragraph 19 of the agreement states -
The two Governments support the principle that -
full control of the international air trunk routes and the ownership of all aircraft and ancillary equipment should he vested in the International Air Transport Authority; 1 point out that the word “should” and not the word “ shall “ is used in that paragraph. It is merely an expression of opinion, and it is an opinion which should- be expressed by the two Governments concerned, particularly as we know that, if possible, private monopoly interests are preparing to take full control of civil aviation after the war. The people have a right to expect an expression of the Government’s opinion on that matter. And so the various paragraphs of the agreement are worded to express the opinions of the Governments concerned. Honorable senators will find throughout the text of the agreement words such as “ may “ and “ recommend “. These, I submit, are the proper words to be used in the circumstances, and suggest that a point of view is being expressed. In effect, the Australian and New Zealand Governments are saying to the Allied powers, “ What is your point of view as compared with ours? Do you agree or disagree with what we have suggested? If you agree, well and good, but if you disagree, then we are prepared to discuss the question on its merits with the object of arriving at an agreement “. That is the whole spirit of this agreement - a spirit based on the principle of conference and consultation with all who have common interests. Surely there can bc no case against that. All our experience in the past has indicated that, where views or interests are in conflict, the best results are obtained when an endeavour is made by all parties concerned to reach a basis of understanding. The worst possible results occur usually when the representatives of nations adopt an arbitrary and aggressive attitude, such as that usually adopted by people like Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo and other leaders of fascist countries.
I shall deal now with the speech made by Senator Sampson, who expressed his lack of confidence in the agreement. The honorable senator explained this attitude by saying that many agreements were repudiated and treated like scraps of paper. In my view, agreements are lasting and binding only if they are backed by the goodwill of the signatories, although I am inclined to agree with the honorable senator in cases where there -is a lack of goodwill. However, nothing that has been said by the honorable senator or, for that matter, by any other honorable senator, has convinced me that behind this agreement there is a lack of goodwill or a desire to co-operate either on the part of the Government of New Zealand or of the Commonwealth Government.
– The honorable senator suggested that we were breaking our association with Great Britain. That is a dirty suggestion.
– That is typical of statements made by people whose prejudices are allowed to become obsessions. The agreement, in my opinion, does not state or imply a desire on the part of the signatories to break our association with Great Britain. We may at times question Great Britain’s policy, just as Great Britain may question Australia’s policy. I recall that when the first move for the adoption of what is now known as the White Australia policy was made, there was considerable opposition in Great Britain. The proposal was very severely criticized, and Australia was told by representative men in Great Britain that it had no right whatever to adopt such a policy. Some even went so far as to say that Australia should accept Great Britain’s view on the matter, rather than express any desire or will of its own; but after the matter had been argued between representatives of Great Britain and Australia, an agreement was arrived at, and I venture to say that to-day Great Britain is very well satisfied with the White Australia policy. The mere fact that at times the Australian people disagree with certain schools of thought in Great Britain, does not indicate for one moment that we wish to sever our connexion with Great Britain, just as disagreement among honorable senators in this chamber does not indicate that members of one party wish to see members of another sent to concentration camps. We simply disagree as we should when we have views which are in conflict, with the object of arguing the matter and, if possible, reaching an agreement. That procedure has been followed right down through the ages, and, in fact, has been responsible for the existence of this Parliament to-day. Had that procedure not been followed we should probably still be fighting against one another as tribes as we did before Parliaments were thought of. So it is quite unworthy to suggest that this agreement has been concluded with the object of breaking our connexion with Great Britain. Any one who makes such a statement obviously is relying more upon innuendoes than argument to prove his case, and is influenced more by prejudices than reasoning. It is quite easy for an honorable senator to attribute all kinds of ulterior motives to his political opponents, but such tactics are not to be admired. Matters such as this should be argued fairly upon their merits, even although ultimate agreement may be unlikely. It is a good thing for this country, and for New Zealand, that this agreement has been concluded. It is one more step in the strengthening of the bonds of unity not only between the two Dominions concerned, but also between all members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and I am certain that representatives of Allied countries who are qualified to speak on this matter will be the last to condemn us. I believe that the agreement will be most helpful at the forthcoming Imperial Conference and will assist in making decisions which will be satisfactory to the British Empire as a whole.
Debate (on motion by Senator James McLachlan) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator
Ashley) read a first time.
– I present the seventh interim report of the Social Security Committee.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
On the 3rd March, Senator Gibson asked me the following questions, upon notice : -
– Senator “Wilson asked the Minister representing the Minister for War Organization of Industry the following questions, upon notice: -
The Minister for “War Organization of Industry has supplied tho following answers : -
.- The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) has given some illuminating information in reply to Senator Gibson’s question relating to the supply of beer. Recently the Minister hnd occasion lo deplore the fact that, owing to a shortage of beer, deleterious liquors were being supplied to the public; he instanced h bottle of liquor which was found to contain a lizard. I should like to know whether the Minister is convinced that the 7,200,000 gallons of beer now made available each month is sufficient. I should prefer to see an increased production of beer rather than that a shortage of that beverage should encourage the consumption of illicit and deleterious liquors. Under present conditions, many men, including servicemen on leave, who aro entitled to consideration, who are unable to obtain beer purchase harmful liquors, and therefore, despite any criticism which may be levelled against me, I express my conviction, that in order to avoid those dangers it would be better to provide ample supplies of beer.
– in reply - It is impossible to increase the supply of beer to either civilians or servicemen in Australia at the present time. One reason is that there is a marked shortage of malt, following a reduced barley crop; another reason is a shortage of man-power. I agree with the honorable senator that some of the regulations which have been made recently aro appalling. I assure him that drastic steps have been taken, especially in. New South Wales, to prevent the abuses to which reference has been made, and that similar action will be taken in other part” nf the Commonwealth as soon as possible. The position is constantly under review, but as the honorable senator realizes, this is a difficult matter to handle became ‘ one section of the community is trying to mako capital out of the war from a prohibition aspect; other sections of the community are acting in a more normal way. As a result of my experience, I agree that it is better that men should drink good beer rather than wine or spirits. At present, however, spirits are almost unprocurable.
– Milk is hotter.
– All the extra milk that can be produced should be used in the production of butter, and thus help to swell our export trade. The matter is being carefully considered,
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Scat of Government. Acceptance Act and Seat of Government [Administration) Act - Regulations - No. 2 of 1944 (Canberra University College Ordinance).
Senate adjourned at 10.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 March 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1944/19440316_senate_17_178/>.