18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) look the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) - by leave - » greed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) on the ground of ill health.
– -Will the Minister for Works and Housing give favorable consideration at an early date to the desirability of raising the wall of the Cotter dam so as to increase the water storage of the Australian Capita] Territory and enable electricity to be generated sufficient to serve the needs of the people of that Territory?
– In order to give effect li> the honorable member’s suggestion, considerable construction work would have to be -undertaken; but in view of the importance of the matter, I shall have it examined by the engineers of the Department of Works and Housing, and shall later advise the honorable member of the result.
– In view of the recent press statement that Cabinet had taken out .of the hands of the Department of Trade and Customs the inquiry in relation to a number of items of luggage that had been seized by that department, will the Prime Minister inform the House how many pieces of luggage were declared by Miss Rosetta Kelly on her arrival in Australia from America; what were they declared to contain; what did they actually contain; did any person other than Miss Rosetta Kelly take delivery of any luggage declared by her; if so, who took delivery of it, and under what authority was the luggage . handed over to that person; and how many pieces of luggage were taken out of Australia by Miss Kelly on her return to the United States of America? Will the right honorable gentleman lay on the table of the House the statement made by Miss Kelly following her interrogation by customs officers, with a view to giving to the House an opportunity to decide what future action should be taken? If the right honorable gentleman is not prepared to table that statement, will he give roBSon* why it should not. be tabled in the public interest?
– I am not responsible for statements that have appeared in the press, and I entirely disregard the statement mentioned by the honorable gentleman. This matter has not been taken outof the hands of the customs authority.When any matterhas arisen affecting the Department of Trade and Customs or thecustoms law, and involving legal proceedings, it has been the practice under all governments for the Department of Trade and Oustoms to consult the Crown Law authorities. That course, I understand, has been followed in the present instance. I suggest that the honorable member place the latter part of his question on the notice-paper, as it is rather long, and I shall see whether it can be answered.
– The manufacturers of aerated waters in my electorate are experiencing great difficulty in getting enough bottles, although the Bottle Manufacturing Company in South Australia is, I understand, working at full capacity. If this is so, will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs consider granting a permit to manufacturers of aerated waters to import bottles from Great Britain, because, if something be not done, they will be forced to reduce the number of their employees?
– I shall refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Trade andCustoms in the hope that the difficulty will be overcome.
Land Settlement of ex-Servicemen - Training of Linemen.
– Can the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction say whether it is a fact, as has been reported, that not one ex-serviceman has been settled on the land in Western Australia under the Government’s land settlement scheme ? Is it also a fact that not one serviceman is receiving agricultural training in Western Australia, under the war service land settlement scheme, at the school at Harvey? If so, what action does the Minister propose to take to rectify this failure?
– Soldier settlement is the joint responsibility of the Common wealth and the States. As the honorable member will see if he studies the agreement, the responsibility for subdividing, improving and developing land for soldier settlement, and of allocatingthe land to applicants, rests with the State governments.
Mr.Chifley. - And for submitting proposals, also.
– Yes, and for initiating settlement proposals. The total area proposed for settlement in all the States is about 3,000,000 acres, of which about 80 per cent. has been approved by the Commonwealth Government. I do not know whether any soldier settlers have yet obtained their holdings, but I understand that the work of subdividing, improving and developing the lands is going ahead as fast as possible in all the States. In Western Australia, and in other States also, the work has been delayed by a shortage of labour and raw materials. At the moment, the development and preparation of land has been advanced to the stage where, at a very early date, a large number of farms will be advertised in all the States, and very shortly settlers will be in possession of their holdings.
– Has the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction read a statement by Mr. E. S. Cornwall, of Brisbane, who is a member of the Post-war Regional Training Committee, that Queensland diggers required for training as electrical linemen were being robbed of opportunities of well-paid jobs by the principal centre of the department in Melbourne? Is it a fact that although the Brisbane City Council agreed to train 100 men as electrical linesmen for six months at £65, the Rehabilitation Division of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction regarded the figure as excessive and decided to pay only £26 ? I point out that the figure of £65 was recommended by the Brisbane branch of the department. In the circumstances, will the Minister order an immediate inquiry into the whole sorry story, furnish a report to the House, and take action at once to ensure that these exservicemen in Queensland shall receive the training that they deserve and require ?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member has referred, but I shall obtain a copy of it and give it consideration. I shall advise him later of the result.
– Having regard to the complaint that there are not available a sufficient number of telephone lines to enable the Postmaster-General’s Department to supply the service which it contracts to supply to its patrons, will the Postmaster-General consider foregoing the fees payable for land lines which the department cannot provide?
-I shall bring the honorable gentleman’s question to the notice of the Postmaster-General and ask him to furnish a reply as early as possible.
Shortage of Feed Wheat
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that Victorian poultry-farmers are to-day facing a great shortage of feed wheat, and that unless they receive early relief a large number of fowls will have to be killed? Will the honorable gentleman take steps to ensure that sufficient wheat is immediately made available for this purpose? I understand that some difficulty has arisen from the fact that distribution of feed wheat has been affected by the recent rail strike, but my information goes further than that, and indicates that the situation is due largely to the shortage of wheat.
– At the moment the poultry-farmers of Victoria are not facing a shortage of wheat. There is adequate wheat in Victoria to supply all the reasonable needs of the poultry industry ; but the meeting of the reasonable needs of the industry is being endangered by the desire of some people to store up supplies for use at future and distant dates. If that difficulty can be overcome I believethat all persons engaged in poultry farming in Victoria may be assured that their reasonable requirements will be met. The officers of the Australian Wheat Board and of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture in Victoria are making every en deavour to ensure that poultry-farmers in that State will receive sufficient supplies of feed wheat. Those endeavours will be continued.
– Will the Prime Minister initiate an investigation to determine the extent to which the production of essential commodities in Australia is being held up by the shortage of labour? If it be found there is an acute shortage of labour, will the right honorable gentleman take active steps to increase immigration in order to meet man-power needs ?
– I believe it is clear to every body that there is a great shortage of man-power and woman-power in Australian industries. A survey recently conducted by the Department of Labour and National Service has indicated that there are no applicants available for a great number of vacant positions. That applies to both male and female workers. Every endeavour is being made to advise people of the positions available to be filled in the hope that some persons at present engaged in what may be regarded as non-essential industry may divert their services to the production of essential commodities. With the repeal of the National Security Regulations governing the control of man-power the Government has relinquished authority to direct people to specific occupations. Whilst I believe it to be desirable that the Government should not exercise such a power in peace-time, its abandonment during the transition period has had the effect mentioned by the honorable member. In regard to the desirability of expediting immigration to Australia, that part of the question might be answered more fully by the Minister for Immigration who has been pressing for shipping to be made available for migrants desiring to come to this country. Only last night the Minister discussed with me the great difficulty he has had in obtaining sufficient shipping accommodation to transport to Australia all people offering or likely to be offering to migrate to this country. His success in that direction depends upon the availability of shipping which at present is extremely limited.
Reduction of Tariffs: Projected International Conference
– Is it a fact, as stated in a cable message from Washington last Sunday, that Australia is among the eighteen countries that have accepted an invitation from the Government of the United States of America to negotiate mutual tariff-reducing agreements at a. conference to be held, probably in Geneva next spring? Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether any action has yet been taken to appoint the Australian delegates; if so, who are the appointees? Will he make a statement to the House about the conference?
Mr.CHIFLEY.- Australia’s position is very clear. A considerable time ago invitations were issued to Australia and other nations to take part in a trade and employment conference. At that time the Government of the United States of America issued what might be regarded as a formula for dealing with tariffs and preferential duties. The British Government, I think, indicated its concurrence in. the general principles of that formula, but I do not know that it committed itself definitely to the proposals set out in the communication sent by the American Government to other countries. The Commonwealth Government made it clear that it was prepared to attend any conference on trade and employment, but that it would not in advance commit itself to any formula proposed or give any undertaking as to what attitude it would take on any proposals that might be submitted. That is precisely the position now. We have not given any indicationto the American Government or anybody else that we shall agree to any proposals. At present, Australian representatives are attending a preliminary conference in London on trade and employment. The leader of the delegation is Dr. Coombs, Director-General of Postwar Reconstruction, Mr. McCarthy, Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, is a member, and the Department of Trade and Customs also is represented. I am prepared to supply all the names of the delegation if the right honorable gentleman desires them. The Australian representation . at the proposed international conference has not yet been chosen.
Report of Royal Commission
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether the Government has received a copy of the report of the royal commission appointed by the Government of Canada to invesigate the activities of the spy ring in that dominion. That report was completed towards the end of June, 1946. If the Commonwealth Government has received it, will the Attorney-General make it available? If it has not the full report, has it received any information about the activities of that spy ring? If so, will he make that information available?
-I think we have only one copy of the report of the royal commission. If we cannot obtain sufficient copies of the report to make them available to honorable members, we will summarize the report in our possession and distribute copies of the summary.
– In order to meet the growing desire of people in country areas to do their banking business through the Commonwealth Bank, which they are unable to do owing to the non-existence of branches of the bank in their areas - a state of affairs that has existed far too long -will the Prime Minister and Treasurer give earnest consideration to obtaining temporary premises in which to establish such branches?
– I have been informed by the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, Mr. Armitage, of the great need for expansion of the bank’s activities in order to meet the demands of the public. My memory tells me that he has already approved of 85 new branches being established, but the provision of premises depends in some cases on the availability of men and materials, and in other cases on acquiring existing properties. Some time prior to the election I was informed by Mr. Armitage that approval had been given to the establishment of 30 new branches in Victoria. At present, the bank envisages that it will have reason to establish approximately 125 new branches, but its ability to do so will depend upon, first, the availability of men and materials, secondly, the capacity to acquire existing buildings, and, thirdly, the obtaining of adequate staff. The bank, because of its rapid expansion, is experiencing difficulty to-day in filling all the positions that are offering in the institution. That applies particularly to juniors to enter the service of the bank. One effect of the economic depression of 1930, and earlier years., when the birth-rate fell to a low level, is that to-day the number of young people who seek employment is not so great as we should like it to be. That shortage will continue until 194S and perhaps until 1950. All branches of industry are having a similar experience; the flow of young people into industry is not so large as we need. The Governor of the bank assures me that everything possible is being done to provide further branches as required by the expansion of the business of the institution.
Timber fob Flooring.
– In the past, South Australia has depended, for its supplies of limber for flooring, particularly in houses, on pinus radiata from the State Forests, mid on imports from “Western Australia or (he Baltic. I ask the Minister for Works mid Housing whether any special consideration has been given, in any inquiries t’or building materials, to providing for the State’s future requirements of flooring boards? Will he have the matter investigated to ascertain whether sufficient timber for flooring is available in Australia mid particularly South Australia? If there is not, will he endeavour to obtain supplies from the Baltic, as in the past?
– .Building materials ure in short supply in all countries, and Australia is suffering, as are others, from the effects of World War I, the economic depression in the early 1930’s, and World War II. I shall examine the supply of Mooring materials available to South Australia, and shall ask the Controller of Material Supplies to ascertain how that
State may be assisted to solve this problem.
– In view of representations that have been made to me, I ask the Minister for the Army whether the Government intends to make provision - for the near relatives of deceased service personnel to visit their graves in Australia and in the islands?
– War graves are under the control of the War Graves Commission which is administered by the Department of the Interior. I sympathize with the purpose of the honorable member’s question. I shall discuss the subject with my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, and hope to give some information to the honorable member later.
Cancellation of Dinner- Engagement
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether it is a fact, as reported in the press, that the Soviet Minister to Australia, Mr. Lifanov, cancelled a dinner engagement last week because the former Australian Minister to Moscow, Mr. Maloney, was programmed to speak on Soviet Russia in the Melbourne Town Hall on the same evening. If so, will the Minister explain to Mr. Lifanov the meaning of “ freedom of speech “ in a free democracy ?
– The only knowledge I have of the cancellation of the engagement referred to is the report in the press. Representations were made to me from a. number of sources to the effect that I should express some objection to the meeting being held in the Melbourne Town Hall. The principle that should apply in that regard is the same as that referred to in the House last week when the question of the exportation of a film dealing -with Indonesia was raised. It is the general principle of freedom of expression. Mr. Maloney and any otherswho choose to address public meetings in this country should determine for themselves the occasions and subjects on which to make their addresses. The question of taste is not one, I am glad to say, for my supervision.
Provision of Aerodromes
– Is the Minister for Air yet in a position to make a statement to the House on the policy of the Government in relation to the establishment of aerodromes in country areas in order to develop aviation in Australia?
– The policy of the Government is to provide aerodromes, airfields and airports at places on regular routes. Consideration is being given at present to the giving of technical assistance and advice to those who desire to have buildings at places not on regular routes. When that consideration has been completed, I hope to be able to make a declaration of government policy. Until then I shall not be in a position to do so.
– In “Cabinet Notes” distributed to honorable members, the following appears: -
On Cth November, 1946, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said: “Cabinet has decided to revoke the Control of Cream Order “.
In view of the fact that Australia’s butter exports to Britain have dwindled from 96,000 tons in 1938-39 to 55,000 tons this year, and in the light of the starvation that exists in Europe and the plea of the Council of the United Nations that countries with abundant food should supply others that have not sufficient, how does the right honorable gentleman justify the removal of the control on the sale of cream, and the granting of permission for it to be sold at 2s. 6d. a pint?
– I shall answer the question. The ban on the disposal of cream was imposed at a time when whole milk was in short supply and products processed from whole milk were in very great demand for Britain and the services. The ban served admirably the purpose for which it was imposed while that great demand for whole milk products existed. It has been found that, due largely to the difficulty of policing it, the ban was almost entirely ignored, so much so, that a. large section of the civil population was under the impression that it had been removed. The Commonwealth authori ties were largely dependent on State officers for the policing of the ban. Some of these were officers of the Department of Agriculture, who normally are the guides, friends, and advisers of the dairy-farmers. That they would not desire to act as policemen for the purposes of the cream ban can be readily understood. In view of these circumstances, I do not believe that the removal of the ban will materially affect the quantity of butter that will be available for export to Great Britain. Honorable members should clearly understand that normally cream for disposal to the civil population, at any rate in any quantity, comes not from butter factories but from the whole-milk suppliers who, in the main, supply the different cities in Australia, and even then is available in any quantity only when there is a surplus of whole milk. Under conditions such as those that now exist in the proximity of Sydney, the removal of the ban will not result in the civil population obtaining increased quantities of cream. On the other hand, on account of the seasonal conditions, any cream sent to the City of Melbourne will go not from butter factories but from surplus whole milk normally used for whole-milk consumption and processed products.
Payment of Poli. Clerks
– Have any representations been made to the Minister for the Interior by the poll clerks who worked at polling booths on election day for an increase of their remuneration ? If so, has the Minister decided to grant an increase ?
– Numerous letters have been received and representations made about the inadequacy of the payment that was made to poll clerks. The matter is under consideration, and 1 hope to be ‘able to make a. decision at an early date.
– On many occasions I have advocated in this House the payment of 3s. a day to Australian prisoners of war who, while held by the Japanese, had almost entirely to feed themselves, ls the present Minister for the Army, who is an ex-serviceman, favorably inclined towards the making of this payment?
– I give the assurance that I shall investigate the matter personally, and give a decision at a later date.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether, as the chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission has alleged, 710 waterside workers in Sydney have not presented themselves for work during the last eleven weeks, and that 300 of those are not willing to work on the wharfs? Has the Waterside Workers Federation closed its books and declined to admit further members, so as to preserve for those who are now on its books the right to obtain employment? If so, and in view of the existing congestion on the wharfs, together with the difficulty of moving our shipping, will the honorable gentleman take up with the unions concerned the admission of new members, and also indicate generally the policy of the Government in order to accelerate the movement of our shipping?
– The answer to the first two portions of the question i9 “No”; rather the contrary is the case. Two hundred or three hundred men in the Port of Sydney have not had any work for many weeks because the number of men following that occupation is in excess of the demand for that -class of labour. Nor is it true to say that the Waterside Workers Federation has closed its books against the admission of new members. Conferences are proceeding between the Port Committee, the chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, and the Minister for Supply and Shipping with a view to determining whether more man-hours can be worked by those already engaged.
– The Government having lifted the ban on the sale of cream owing to inability to police it, does it intend to ease the restrictions on land sales? Has the Prime Minister’s attention been directed to the press statement that during the last three months land transactions in New South Wales have reached an all-time high level? Is not the right honorable gentleman aware that the majority of these transactions are probably negotiated through the black market, thereby forcing many citizens who would otherwise desire to obey thelaw, to become law-breakers owing to theGovernment’s failure to make the regulations sufficiently elastic to meet presentday conditions ? Will the right honorable, gentleman give to this matter consideration equal to that given to the sale of cream ?
– The answer is “ No “ ; the Government has no intention of abolishing the controls in relation to land sales. That view was shared by the State governments when the matter was discussed at a recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. The only inference to be drawn from the question of the honorable gentleman is that practically all of those who buy property are breaking the law.
– And there is no question that it is a fact. The truth of it is well known.
– Does the honorable gentleman know that from personal experience ?
– The Prime Minister can discover it to be a fact. Even the “ boy in the street “ knows it to be true.
– I do not doubt that the law in connexion with this and other matters is broken by some members of the community; but I do not believe that the great bulk of land transactions and property sales are negotiated in such a way as to constitute a breach of the law.
– A very large number of them.
– I do not think that is true. I do not believe that reputable firms handling the sale and purchase of property would lend themselves to that sort of thing, although it may be true that in some instances money is passed over “ on the side “. Even though there may be some breaking of the law, nevertheless, a law which fixes the price of property serves a useful purpose in that the rent chargeable is based on the price.
– It is a ficticious price if it is not being observed.
– Whether it is observed or not the fact that a price has been fixed is a guide to a magistrate in deciding what is a proper rent. The fact that the price has been fixed also governs the rates levied by local authorities. If prices were allowed to rise, rating authorities would naturally be inclined to increase valuations. If prices had not been fixed, the value of land, particularly of country land, would have soared. Then, if there came a recession of commodity prices, those very persons who had paid high prices for land would have been looking for Government subsidies to assist them.
PURCHASE Agreements With United Kingdom - Review of Prices.
– -by leave - Honorable members will be aware that long-term purchase agreements have been entered into between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Government in respect of meat and dairy produce for a period of four years, the dairy produce agreement terminating on the 30th June, 1948, while the meat agreement will terminate on the 30th September, 1948. Provision is made in both agreements for reviews of prices at the instigation of either Government in respect of the third and fourth years of the contract. On the 6th August, 1946, honorable members were informed of the increased prices for butter and cheese for the third contract year. I now desire to furnish honorable members with’ information regarding meat prices for the third year of the contract, namely, the 1st October, 1946, to the 30th .September, 1947. Negotiations in regard to these prices were commenced in May of this year, but were not completed until the 20th September, at which date details still remained to be adjusted.
Briefly, the outcome of the discussions was favorable to Australia. Increases of lamb prices were secured to the extent, of 43-^r per cent, over the original 1939 contract price. The increases secured for mutton represent approximately 45 per cent, over the original contract, whilst those for beef represent a 42 per cent, increase over the original contract prices. In respect of mutton and - lamb, the increases obtained were more than those suggested by producer representative.* with whom the Government conferred prior to the departure of its representative for London. During the course of the negotiations, producer representatives on the Meat Industry Advisory Committee were kept fully informed of developments, and their advice and guidance were sought on the various problem? arising from the discussions on prices.
Schedules of the new prices are being prepared for distribution, but the attention of honorable members is directed to the temporary schedule of export prices which operated from the 1st October. 1946, and incorporated the bulk of the increases secured during the negotiations. Before these temporary schedules wenissued, and notwithstanding that the negotiations had been finally completed, the Government conferred with producer representatives in regard to the possibility of a meat stabilization scheme based on the higher prices received for export. It had also to bear in mind the relationship of thu contract prices to wholesale ceiling prices determined by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner for meat for local consumption.
The present temporary export schedule for lamb represents an increase of 37-J per cent, over the 1939 contract prices, as against 43* per cent, increase granted by the British Government. The present schedule for mutton includes the whole of the increased prices received from the United Kingdom, whilst the schedules for beef incorporates the full increase for boneless beef, but -Jd. sterling per lb. has been retained in respect of bone-in beef. The percentage overall increase in respect of offals is 43-J per cent, on the 1939 contract prices, of which approximately 25 per cent, has already been passed on to the industry.
In continuation of the discussions which have taken place between officers of my department and producer-representatives regarding the temporary export schedules, I have referred this matter to the newlyconstituted Meat Board, which at its meeting on Friday last adopted a resolution recommending that the present temporary export schedules continue to operate until such time as the board is in a position to recommend to me the course of action which it believes the Commonwealth Government should follow in regard to this matter. A special meeting of the board will be held within the next fortnight, after which I shall receive recommendations regarding the continuation of the existing export schedules or a variation of such schedules.
The policy of industry consultationis one to which reference was madeby my predecessor in office in his statement of the 6th August, 1946, when he said that he had conferred with representatives of the dairying industry in regard to the disposal of the prices received under the contract for butter and cheese. The Government will continue this policy, and I am making arrangements to meet representatives of the dairying industry at a very early dateto discuss with themthe distribution of the increased prices received from the United Kingdom for butter and cheese. The same principle is being followed in regard to meat. I shall therefore be in a position in the very near future to inform the House fully regarding the distribution of the increased prices, which have been received for both products for the third year of the contracts. I lay on the table the following paper : -
Meat and Dairy Produce agreements with the United Kingdom - Ministerial Statement. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. McEwen) adjourned.
– by leave - I refer to the statement of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) who invited my attention to information contained in correspondence received by him from certain branches of the Air Force association relative to the disposal of £400,000 belonging to the Royal Australian Air Force Welfare Fund. It is emphatically denied that the Government has considered any proposal that moneys in this fund should be placed to the credit of consolidated revenue. The Government, however, recently did give consideration to the disposal of surplus canteen profits and of balances held in welfare and other service funds. The whole subject was very fully examined by an interdepartmental committee on which each of the services wasrepresented. As a result of its examination, the inter-departmental committee found that, if separate funds were maintained within the resources of each of the services, unequal amounts per capita would be available for the provision of benefits to ex-servicemen and exservicewomen and their dependants, and that this would give rise to dissatisfaction and criticism.
The committee recommended - (a)That there should be one fund to which all the services would contribute from their canteen profits and from welfare and like funds, and that from the common fund the following benefits would be extended to ex-servicemen and exservicewomen of all services and their dependants -
educational assistance to children of members, ex-members and deceased members who served during the war which commenced in September, 1939. (b)The funds should be administered by trustees including representatives of the three services.
The recommendations of the interdepartmental committee were approved by the Government and legislation will be introduced giving effect to the Government’s decision. In regard to recommendation d it might be mentioned that the Air Force Welfare Trust includes a representative of the Air Force association. Under the conditions approved, the Air Force association will, therefore, through its representative, have a say in the distribution of benefits to members of the Royal Australian Air Force. It will be noted that the whole of the money will be held in trust and administered by trustees for the relief and assistance of persons who served during the war commencing September, 1939, and the dependants of such persons. It can be stated definitely that, under the arrangements which have been approved, members and ex-members of the Royal Australian Air Force and their dependants will be at least as well off as they would have been if the Royal Australian Air Force had remained dependent upon its own resources. At the same time uniformity of treatment will be assured for members, ex-members and their dependants, regardless of the service with which the member served.
I lay on the table the following paper : -
Royal Australian Air Force - Surplus Canteen Profits and Other Funds - Ministerial Statement. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. White) adjourned.
Establishment of Trusteeship Council
– Has the Minister for External Affairs seen the press report of the bitter attack made on Great Britain, Australia and South Africa by M. Novikov when he declared that Great Britain, Australia and South Africa were responsible for the failure of the United Nations to establish the Trustee Council ? Does the right honorable gentleman intend to make a statement in rebuttal of the charges made by M. Novikov in addition to that made by the Australian representative on the spot?
– I have read the statement attributed to M. Novikov, andI have also read the answer given by Professor Bailey which has the entire support of the Government. I do not think it necessary to add anything to what Professor Bailey has saidon the subject.
– Is it a fact, as stated by officers of the Rationing Commission recently, that by July, 1947, Australia will face the worst clothing shortage in its history? If so, will the Prime Minister instruct the Minister for Trade and Customs to take immediate steps to ascertain what quantities of material and clothing are being exported, with a view to ensuring that sufficient quantities shall be retained in Australia to alleviate the shortage?
– I believe that itis known to everybody that there isa very grave . shortage of certain textiles and cotton goods throughout the world. Australia had great difficulty in securing adequate allocations to meet the requirements of the coupon rationing system, not, only for last year but also for the coming year. What the future holds in this regard one cannot foretell. It is evident, however, that the grave shortage of these commodities will continue. In regard to the latter portion of the honorable gentleman’s question, it is customary for me to request rather than direct Ministers to supply information. Such a request had already been made to the responsible Minister, and particulars of the quantities of woollen textiles and clothing materials exported have already been supplied to Cabinet. The greater portion of the exports, particularly of worsteds, has gone to New Zealand, to which dominion we are committed to some degree because it has in turn supplied Australia with hides and other essential commodities in short supply in this country. Throughout the war there has been a reciprocal arrangement between Australia and New Zealand in respect* of export commodities. Token shipments of worsteds have been made to other countries, including the United States of America, solely because of the belief of Australian manufacturers that, after the existing shortage has been overcome, there may be an opportunity to develop trade and open new markets with other countries for Australian worsteds of the better class. The quantity of worsteds shipped m that way has. however, been very small. If he so desires, I shall furnish the honorable member with additional information on this subject.
Statement By Governor of the Commonwealth Bank.
– Has the Prime Minister read the annual report of the Commonwealth Bank, signed by the Governor of ihe Bank, Mr. H. T. Armitage, in which the following statement appears relative to the Bretton Woods Agreement : -
It is my view that by active participation in the International Monetary Fund, where she may be successful in obtaining a voice on the governing body, Australia would be playing her proper part in shaping the future and at the same time safeguarding her own interest by helping to ensure that the problems of young and developing countries, some of which share Australia’s apprehensions, receive due consideration by the larger powers?
Do the views expressed by Mr. Armitage represent his own personal views, or do they constitute a statement of government policy in the matter* .
– I have read the annual report of the Commonwealth Bank, issued by the Governor of that institution. I regarded it as such an interesting document that 1 made inquiries to ascertain whether copies could be supplied to every honorable member of this House. I am sure it will prove a very illuminating document to some honorable gentlemen who discuss banking problems in this chamber. As to the latter part of the honorable gentleman’s question, I wish it to be clearly understood that the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank is entitled to express his personal opinion in respect of any matter. As I have already indicated, the question of the ratification of the Bretton Woods Agreement has been given preliminary consideration by the Government. A final decision upon the subject will be reached in respect of it shortly, because if Australia is to be an original member the agreement will have to be ratified by the Parliament by the end of December.
– Will consideration be given to the matter before the Parliament rises for the Christmas recess?
-I am hopeful that further consideration will be given to the agreement by Cabinet within the next fortnight and that an early decision will be reached a3 to whether the Government should place before the Parliament a bill to ratify the agreement.
Wives of Servicemen
– Has the wife of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, Lieutenant-General H. C. H. Robertson, sailed for Japan to join him ? Have wives of other Australians in that force been given similar facilities and permitted to join their husbands in Japan? If not, why? When will they he permitted to join their husbands? I ask the foregoing questions of the Minister for the Army because of his interest, while a private member, in the matter of the wives and families of members of the Australian contingent of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in
Japan being allowed to have their wives and families with them.
– I am studying that matter. A decision will be made very soon.
– I have to announce that I have received from the Official Secretary to the GovernorGeneral the return to the writ for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of the Northern Territory which was held on the 28th September, 1946, in connexion with the general election for the House of Representatives, and by the endorsement thereon it is certified that Adair Macalister Blain has been elected in pursuance of the said writ.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley ) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring inabill for an act to amend the Ministers of State Act 1935-1941.
Debate resumed from the 8th November (vide page 104), on motion by Dr. Evatt-
That the following paperbe printed : -
Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 8th November,1946.
– In common with other members of the House, I am indebted to the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) for his uncommonly interesting speech on international affairs. On former occasions he has read to the House lengthy statements, and I take the liberty of observing that such statements are more interesting if concentrated and delivered as speeches, as on Friday. The right honorable gentleman undoubtedly filled in some gaps in our knowledge of what has been going on ; he certainly cleared up some obscurities in my mind. I am grateful.
Perhaps the most interesting thing is that the speech, whilst it fills in gaps in our knowledge of some events, underlines very heavily the truth that, since the war ended, almost all international debates have been on matters of procedure and not on matters of substance. It is, of course, inevitable that there shall be some debate on procedure, and it is even more inevitable if the world adopts once more, as it does, the experiment of setting down in writing the rules by which nations are to govern their relations one with another.
I have said something about that before, but I may have occasion to add a number of remarks to what I have already said. The cables published about meetings of the Security Council and the United Nations Assembly which have been headlined in the newspapers have been first and foremost about matters of procedure. It is therefore necessary to offer the reminder that the problems of peace and war will rest upon matters of substance, not primarily on matters of procedure. There are various matters of substance which, in my opinion, and the opinion of other members of the Liberal party, ought to be discussed in this Parliament, and must in the near future be the subject-matter of discussions between the great nations and the other nations. Of course, trouble arises very largely from the fact that once more, as after World WarI, we have decided to pin our faith to an elaborate paper scheme, and that is something for which I hope we shall not be called upon to pay too great a price in the future. I recall a passage from a notable book by E. H. Carr - a passage that I have cited in another place -
Having recognized the paramount importance of planning for the future, we need, however, to bo on our guard against current welladvertised offers of ready-made systems of world organization . . . There is a kind of naive arrogance in the assumption that the problem of the government of mankind, which has defied human wit and human experience for centuries, can be solved out of hand by some neat paper construction of a few simple minded enthusiasts.
It was perhaps better put by a Chatham House Study Group, associated with the Institute of International Affairs. Just before the war ended, it made an interim report to the authorities at Chatham House and it said this, amongst other things -
Itis open to a Hitler to plan vast enter prises years ahead, since his aim is to impose his will on others. Those who recognize that international life must be lived co-operatively and move in perpetual adjustment find compromise must be content with shorter views. They can plan within wide limits their internal policy; internationally, they can do little more than decide the general direction in which they desire to go, and do their best to ensure that the first steps lead in that direction. Peace ended in a slow fading-out, and may return at no less laggard a pace.
Those words have been prophetic enough -
We shall move, not to some grand climax, some static and all-in “solution”, but from one stage of the provision to another. We can but make our best endeavours from stage to stage, inspired by the vision of rendering the world, moulded as it is by many causes and many wills, better, were it by the merest fraction, rather than worse.
Those are profoundly true words, and they all pointed to the imperative desirability of endeavouring, at this time, not to create an all-in world organization, every detail of which was worked out on paper, but of building progressively on natura] foundations, so far as we can, a structure of peace. Now, the world has once more, for better or for worse, decided upon what Carr described as a “ neat paper construction “, and the result is that we have had over the last year debate after debate on matters of procedure. The Minister for External Affairs can say, and with great force, that unless you settle your procedure, you cannot reach the substance; that unless you can decide how nations are to vote, you cannot reach the substance; and unless you can thrash out the significance and applicability of the veto, you cannot reach the substance. The point which I desire to make is .that for about a year now, we have been discussing matters which are essentially procedural, and we do not seem to be very much nearer to determining those real substantial matters which, in the long run and in the short run, will decide whether the world shall remain at peace or shall become involved in another war. In the cables published in this morning’s newspapers, wc have » splendid illustration of what I mean. An argument has developed about the trusteeship provisions of the Charter. The Soviet Union has challenged the action of Australia, and the question has been raised as to whether the Soviet itself should have participated in the draft trusteeship agreement in relation to the island of Nauru. In an unsophisticated age, one might very well say to Russia, “ What has Nauru got to do with you ? “ That would have been the old-fashioned and the “ horse.sensical “ approach to the matter.
– And a very effective approach.
– Yes; but on this occasion, we are now armed with plenty of paper, and the result is that someone refers to article 79. The article is read. It provides -
The terms of trusteeship for each territory to be placed under the trusteeship system including any alteration or amendment shall be agreed upon by the State3 directly concerned., including the mandatory power in the case of territories held under mandate by a member of the United Nations, and shall be approved in accordance with (other articles).
I direct attention to the words “ by the States directly concerned “. Now, apparently, a vigorous argument has arisen as to whether a State is directly concerned because it. exhibits its concern, or because there is really some direct connexion between it and the proposed trusteeship. In point of substance, that argument would not take two minutes to determine, but that cannot be said in point of fact about any arguments that arise in relation to this Charter. They continue for hours and for days, and they are finally very much exacerbated by bitter exchanges, as the Minister for External Affairs informed us last week. I myself have repeatedly spoken about the grave danger that the world runs of falling into the same illusion as existed in the ten years before World War II.; of falling into the illusion that because you have on paper something that amounts to an instrument of collective security, then collective security has been achieved ; of falling into the great illusion of thinking that what is provided for on paper is in fact provided for; and lastly, of falling into the greatest of all illusions, which is that you can maintain the world’s peace by force of a document, when, in truth, you cannot keep the w orld’s peace unless those who resist war are stronger than those who attack the peace. The Minister for External Affairs, who has a personal experience of the construction and working of the United Nations much superior to that possessed by any of us in this chamber or in this country, made two remarks in the course of his speech which so strongly corroborate that view, that I desire merely to repeat them. He said -
The result is that the Security Council is in this appalling position that nothing may be done about a dispute which has come before the organization. From the beginning, you know that nothing can be done about it. Bitter speeches are made, this way or that way, and you are always conscious of the threat that, at the end, the next business will be called and no recommendation or suggestion can be made by the Council.
– That arose from the veto, and from the threat of the veto.
– I agree. I am not reading those words for the purpose of establishing some difference between the Minister’s view and my own. Indeed, I entirely agree with him. The existence of the veto either in operation or in threat produces the result that he described in those extraordinarily strong words. The right honorable gentleman is not unaccustomed to the use of words; and he used those words with deliberation. I repeat a few of them - :
The Security Council is in this appalling position that nothing may be done about a dispute which has come before the organization.
Later in his speech,. the right honorable gentleman said -
It is useless to have the Security Council debating matters publicly at great length without reaching any result. Nothing could be worse than to permit speech after speech on a particular issue, and then to allow the matter to be dropped without obtaining the considered judgment of the Council, or some precedent or guidance for the future activities of that body.
I invite all honorable members to ponder those statements, because they are unanswerably correct upon any fair examination of this Charter and of the way in which, so far, it has worked. They mean that at the very heart of this organization you have a Security Council without which the organization will be nothing more than a body to exchange views on periodical occasions, and that Security Council is without any real executive capacity whatever, because of the existence of the veto either in use or in threat. Consequently, I invite all honorable members not to regard this matter of peace making in the world as something which has been kindly taken off our shoulders or out of our hands by the setting up of the United Nations. The problem of peace in the world is still a problem which imposes enormous responsibility upon us as Australians and not merely as the citizens of a country which is a signatory to the San Francisco Charter. It imposes enormous responsibilities upon us as members of the British Empire, the importance of which has increased and not diminished since the war. This is a problem which, right through, is a problem of substance.
I do not propose, in the limited time at my disposal, to endeavour to set out in a schedule all the matters of substance which are important from our point of view as we look at world problems, but I shall refer to a few of them. The first that concerns us is: What weight is to attach to the British Empire in this postwar world, operating so far as possible - and this will sound like heresy to some - as a great world power? Have we not to make up our minds whether we have already completely adopted the notion of the United Kingdom as a great power, and of the dominions as members of the British Empire, being small or middle powers going their own gait? Have we abandoned the idea of the integration of our various strengths and councils in the British Empire as one great world power ? This is a problem to which attention must be devoted. I know what will be said the moment it is proposed that we should endeavour to integrate the views of British countries and endeavour to present a. common front. Yet I believe that we must do* so or perish in the world.
– That was what we did in war-time.
– Quite so. Two answers would follow any such effort. The first is the timorous answer that if we do so it will appear as though we are setting up an Empire bloc which will create awkward repercussions somewhere or other. We have no reason to apologize for an Empire bloc. There has been an Empire bloc in the world for a hundred years, and it has been the greatest factor for decency and order that the world has known in that time. We need not worry about that repercussion. We were told at the time the Ottawa Agreement was made that the giving of preferences on a mutual basis between British countries would cause serious reactions against us. But what did we see? We saw trade inside the British Empire grow by a very substantial percentage. But we also saw that world trade in its totality, between the British Empire and the rest of the world, grew at the same time.
The second answer may be brushed aside with equal ease. It is said that if we talk about presenting a common front, if we attach prime importance to united British policy on the great matters cf peace and war in the world, then we must abandon sovereignty and accept the colonial attitude, going back to the days when Downing-street took charge of us.
– That answer has been made at meetings of the United Nations.
– Precisely. But what folly is it to suggest that because we admit the simple fact that there is strength ki British unity, which there cannot be in British separateness, we have to abandon our sovereignty? That is a legal conception which has.no substance in it. I should like the House to be given an opportunity before long to discuss and clear its own mind on these problems because - and I emphasize it again - the weight which attaches to the British Empire in the post-war world is one of the big and real factors which will determine whether the world’s peace is to be kept.
That brings us automatically to a second point. It concerns the economic strength of the British Empire and the measures which we ought to take to strengthen the total economic force of our family of nations. This immediately brings to mind the problem of Empire preference, -which has been widely discussed in the world in the last eighteen months. But it has not been discussed in th’s House, although our concern with it is vital. It also brings to mind agreements which have been made in the world and are supposed, at any rate by some interpreters, to cut across imperial preference. I refer to the American loan to the United Kingdom. That has never been discussed in this House. Another relevant matter is the mutual obligations involved by lend-lease for years past. That has not been discussed in this House.
– There has been nothing to prevent those subjects from being discussed.
– If the right honorable gentleman means that those subjects could be discussed on supply, or in a budget debate, or in an Addressin -Reply debate, it is true that there has been nothing to prevent them, from being so discussed. Any individual member has a perfect right to raise such issues in such circumstances, and some of us have raised them from time to time.
– And they have been discussed.
– .What I have in mind is a full-dress debate on these matters, designed to elicit the corporate view of the House, because I emphasize - and I believe the right honorable gentleman would be the first to concede - that if such a debate showed that there was a consensus of opinion in the House on these subjects, it would greatly strengthen hi.own hands in any international discussion that might arise in relation to them.
The third matter which is involved fairly closely is the question of our relations with the United States of America. Those relations I agree, and we are all thankful to know, are of a most cordial character. But, cordiality between nations is something that requires constant cultivation. Doctor Johnson said, “A. man should keep his friendship in constant repair “. We must keep our friendship with the United States of America in constant repair and we should not blink the fact that there are difficulties that require discussion and demand a high degree of mutual understanding. One of these to which I have already referred is the American loan to the United Kingdom and the implications that it has for us. There is also the Bretton Woods Agreement, which the Prime Minister has already indicated will be discussed and brought to finality one way or another in the near future. Every one knows that the American loan to the United Kingdom lias most powerful indirect effects and bearing upon our own position. We should take the opportunity to bring these matters to adequate discussion in the
House because they are matters of substance, just as is the proposed reciprocity between ourselves and the United States of America in regard to bases in the Pacific. If there is one thing that we have learned during the war it is that the greater the interest of the United States of America in the South-west Pacific the better it will be for us. That puts in a single sentence a very important subject on which there may be difficulty in reaching an arrangement of a mutually satisfactory kind for military purposes. If these difficulties can be overcome and if we can establish between ourselves and the United States of America, and between the British Empire as a whole and the United States of America, a complete understanding and a common policy in relation to world affairs, including economic affairs, then we will have done more for the world’s peace than has been done by the wise men of the world with all their writing on sheets of paper in the last twelve months. There is a fourth matter; that is, the relations between the democracies and the Soviet Union - which is not a democracy. We might as well discuss this matter on a basis of reality. It is not a democracy, certainly not as we understand the expression, and it has institutions which are basically different from our own. All of us, I believe, ought to speak with a good deal of reserve on these matters, because I do not suppose that any one of us is adequately equipped to discuss Russia, or the point of view of those who make up the Soviet Union. But at least, by merely looking at the facts, we can observe certain things. The Russians believe, quite genuinely, in self-help. We are a little disposed to talk about charters, covenants, agreements, and sheets of paper. The Russians are very much more disposed to say, “ Self-help has something to be said for it “. For that very reason - as some of us discussed in the last Parliament - Russia made advances of a territorial kind during and since the war which it is impossible to reconcile with the At1 an tic Charter or with the Charter of the United Nations. Russia believes in selfhelp. Let us face up to that as a. factIt is also, one imagines, powerfully armed. Mr. Churchill - who, having re- verted to the role of a critic and a prophet, finds himself no better received in either capacity than he did before the war, but who may turn out to be just as right about these matters as he was then - put a question in the House of Commons the other day. He wanted to know whether he could be told anything about the size of the Russian army.. 1 do not know whether that question has been answered. Nor do I know whether this Government is in a position to place before this House any information on the subject. But I do not think that any members on either side of this House will have any doubt that, putting on one side the atomic bomb, the armament - military, naval and air - of the Soviet Union is to-day much more formidable than is the armament of the western democracies, which have been engaged in a very farreaching programme of demobilization. They may still, between them, have larger navies, but their air force.and armies, so far as one can judge, are in a fair process of dissipation. Certainly ours are, and we have no reason to think that, relatively to numbers, the American position is any better. We know that it represents a real problem in Great Britain. Therefore, there is - shall I say - a realistic, great power, which believes in self-help as an instrument of national security and is powerfully armed. On top of that, there is not very much wrong in saying, the Russians rather suspect us. They do not. trust us. I am not saying that they are not without some reason for their view. We have occasionally behaved, as a race, in a rather peculiar fashion, which has not been easy for the other fellow to understand.
– The Russians are not easy to understand.
– It is one of those common human traits. But however common it may be, they do not trust us very much. And of course, above all things, as we have some reason to know, they are a very touchy people. All these things 1,resent a problem, do they not? But it is a problem that is not disposed of merely by being stated: because, having made all these propositions, it is inconceivable that a nation which lost from 5,000,000 to 7,000,000 men in a cause common with ours in the war should not contain many millions of people who are sick ofwar and would like war to end. We have to seize hold of that. We have to do everything we can, while not abandoning any firm defence of our own interests, to achieve some common understanding with people who, for the very reasonsto whichI have referred, are as difficult for us to understand as we are for them to understand. That brings me again to the question: How is that understanding to be brought about? Are the Western democracies going to achieve a common understanding with the people ofRussia by well-advertised and bitter wrangles at the Security Council, or by what we can describe in the modern jargon as bilateral, informal discussions and exchanges, not in the glare of publicity, not with limelight effects when the champions enter the lists, so that those who are looking on may applaud them, but in that quiet, informal, off-stage way in which the best results are achieved? That brings us right back to what I said originally, and what I am beginning to believe is the real menace of the Security Council as it now exists, with the veto; because the right honorable gentleman’s description of it was admirable. There is bitter wrangling. And why should there not be bitter wrangling, if the world’s powers send their representatives to a common meeting place, with the world’s photographers, cinematographers, reporters and broadcasters in attendance? What for? Not so that they can really arrive at a conclusion, because on every great matter they will never arrive at a conclusion while the veto stands, but so that each country can read what its own champion has said, and say, “My word, he stood up for our rights, didn’t he? He put on a great show.”
– The right honorable gentleman is not “peeved”, is he?
– What I am describing has happened to me before to-day. I am not speaking of things which I do not understand a little. We open our newspapers to read that our representatives are putting upa great show. I have no doubt that they are. But do not forget that the people of every other country, opening their newspapers, read about how their representatives have “ rattled the bones “ of their opponents. Consequently, you have, not a system by which international differences will be removed or international understandings achieved, but a system by which little disputes will be embittered and will become great disputes, by which futility will increase misunderstandings.
– The right honorable gentleman is now spoiling a good speech.
– If the honorable member for Perth does not agree with that, it will be most interesting to hear him, at some stage in this debate, explain how he disagrees with what the Minister for External Affairs has said about the Security Council. I could understand that. But for once in my life, I happen to agree with the right honorable gentleman. And, agreeing with him, I say: Do you seriously believe that you are going to achieve understanding with the peoples of the Soviet Union - an understanding at which this world must arrive, if it can - by the process of public debate? [Extension of time granted.]
I want to refer to two other matters, which are matters of substance, andI shall have done. The first, is this: Apart altogether from the manner in which certain debates are to be carried on at certain peace conferences - which so far, mark you, have been of a minor kind - what is proposed to be done about Germany when the questions of substance call for decision at the real, by which I mean the major, peace conference of Europe? This problem of Germany is not one of procedure. Everybody,I suppose, has thought about it, and has got a headache thinking about it. Nobody in the House at this stage, I imagine, would be so dogmatic in his views as to say what is to be done about it. But when the time comes at which we shall have established our right to a voice in the settlement of Europe, will it not be necessary that this Parliament shall have given some specific consideration to what it considers ought to be done about. Germany in substance, and not as a matter of procedure? Are we, for example, going to aim at the partition of Germany, with some idea, in defiance of all history, that you can take a homogeneous people and cut them into fragments, and they will remain separate fragments ?
– That is a great delusion.
– I agree. Are we going to aim at that because some people in the world believe that to be the right thing to do? Or are we going to aim at preserving, in some fashion, the national structure of Germany? If we are, is our policy to be one of procuring economic strength or economic weakness in Germany? These are very awkward questions. They are questions, the lightest answer to which will ensure misrepresentation on any platform for the next fifteen years. But there is no reason why we should not face them ; because in the long run a world dealing with a defeated nation like Germany has to make up its mind whether it is going to devise policies which will keep that nation permanently weak, weak for a time and then strong, or strong right through, economically. It is a problem entirely different from that of armament. But it is a very vital problem, and one to which we shall have to give a great deal of thought. What about the problem of reparations? I am not answering any of these questions, but am merely indicating what I believe to be matters of substance which ought to be debated in this House.
– Will the right honorable gentleman include the eradication o* Nazi philosophy?
– The honorable member may make any suggestions he likes to make”; I would welcome them. The war, I remind the House, was devoted very largely to an attack by arms on the Nazi philosophy; and if the world is not rid of the Nazi philosophy, then to that degree it has been lost. We all agree with that; it is common ground. But do not let us be misled by those airy visionaries who tell us that by the mere issuing of an edict we can get rid of a philosophy; that by the mere establishment, of a half-dozen boards we can convert a country from devotion to a dictatorship to devotion to a democracy. Easy converts to our ideas must be looked at three or four times. The same problem arises in relation to Japan. I am not professing to give answers to these questions. They are questions of great substance, and we cannot run away from . then] very much longer. So far, we have not approached them. We have not got within cooee of the real peace negotiations in respect of Germany. Some people believe that one of the -things we must do in the peace treaty is to impose upon Germany some system of selfgovernment of our devising. It would be a marvellous thing for the world if the German people did adopt - and mean it - a system of democracy; if you could have self-government, with all its institutions and all its habits of thought, in a country like Germany, which for so long has been a menace to the world. There, again, is always the question as to whether one nation, or a group of nations, ought to introduce a system of government for another; because artificial systems of government, imposed from without, have a habit of falling down at the first pressure. All that I want to say in relation to Germany is that we seem to be years away from even admitting the existence of these problems, let alone dealing with them at a peace conference, at which every representative of every country concerned will approach the matter knowing what, the general run of opinion is in the parliament which, in effect, he represents. And the same remarks apply to Japan. From our point of view, they apply with more immediate force to Japan. Most of the stuff now being published about Japan is childish selfdeception. We read cables which indicate that Japan is now a democracy - that it has given up Emperor-worship. One would really think that it was possible to dispose of Emperor-worship, and to substitute for it western democracy, by the issue of a. few edicts under the direction of a Far Eastern Commission. The Prime Minister knows that it does not happen that way. Therefore, there is a whole nest of problems of substance regarding Japan, the existence of which we must admit, and regarding which we must endeavour to formulate a policy.
The last matter to which I wish to refer is not on so vast a scale, but it conies very near home. Is there not. something a little ironical about our sustained interest in the doings of the remoter parts of the world when, side by side with it, we have apparently failed to formulate any policy for Australia in relation to the Netherlands East Indies, our nearest neighbour, and a very significant one? We can become so absorbed in distant ^prospects that the things nearest to us escape our vision. I will not labour the point. The history of our relations with the Netherlands East Indies during the last twelve months. is intensely discreditable. It reflects very gravely upon the Government which has, for the whole of that time, been publicly defeated by a few Communists on the waterfront-publicly defeated and publicly humiliated by them. Indeed, the only enlivening incident during the last twelve months was a little diplomatic fracas in Melbourne when the long-suffering Minister for the Netherlands broke his silence by saying that his people found it very difficult to understand the situation in view of the association between Australia and his country during the war - and for that remark he received a public rebuke. What is to be done about the Netherlands East Indies? Who is to be in charge of the foreign policy of Australia? What is the policy of Australia in regard to the Netherlands East Indies? All the wise words which we may contribute to the settlement of peace terms for Finland or Rumania or Lithuania will not matter so much if at home, in a matter in which we are so closely concerned, we must confess to utter failure and utter impotence.
.- The speech which we have just heard from the Leader- of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) is extremely important, because he probably speaks for about 44 per cent, of the Australian community if we can assume that the people who voted for the Opposition parties would, in general, be inclined to listen closely to his views. Moreover, the Leader of the Opposition can be always assured that his remarks will receive the utmost prominence in the press, which generally supports him. That is why I feel concerned about his statement, which, in certain parts, was gravely and radically misleading. It was gravely and radically misleading when he was contrasting questions of procedure with questions of substance, and it was most misleading when he suggested that the procedures which have occupied the attention of the United Nations were the cause of the present international tension. He contradicted himself without being aware of it when he was discussing Russia’s tendency to present the world with accomplished facts. There are very many facts of substance which have been settled, and they have been occasions of successive diplomatic crises. These crises in the Security Council have been reflections of accomplished facts outside, rather than episodes produced by anything which has taken place in the council itself. I draw attention to Mr. Churchill’s Fulton speech. Complaint was made of an accomplished fact when Russia obtained its will in regard to northern Persia, a fact which contributed to the tension. He also referred to the accomplished fact of Russias’ enormous military strength in Europe as something contributing to the tension. Questions of substance regarding the Dardanelles and Persia are certainly causes of tension, because we realize our weakness in the Near East, where the Egyptians do not want us. There is tension in Palestine, also, and in the Balkans, where those governments which Britain supports, notably Greece, are unstable. The tension arising from these facts is not due to “ paper wars “ in the council, and they cannot be attributed to the fact that a real attempt has been made to make the international organization work. I am glad that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is one of those who have made such an effort, and if there is tension it is not because he and others have tried to make the organization work, but because the system of power politics is being continued even though the international organization exists. The League of Nations did not contribute to the tension which existed between nations in the period between the two wars. That tension was due to the continuation of power politics. It is radically misleading to suggest, as did the Leader of the Opposition, that the effort to make the organization work is contributing to international! tension.
Tension is not created between Russia and Britain when Mr. Bevin thumps the table during discussion with Mr. Molotov, but is due to the fact that Russia dominates eastern Europe, and Britain and the United States of America ure attempting to create a western bloc in opposition to this dominance. There is an accomplished fact in the Far East, also, where Russia has special rights in Darien. Port Arthur and Manchuria, just, as there is an accomplished fact in eastern Europe where Russia dominates Poland and other powers.
The effort to make the international organization work - efforts to which the Leader of the Opposition made sneering and slighting reference when he suggested t at the Minister for External Affairs was a. publicity hunter - is the only alternative to the creation of blocs. It may be that the attempt is doomed to failure, hut the attempt to make the organization work will not be the cause of failure. The cause will be the continuation of power politics. ‘ It is incorrect to assume that if power politics is being conducted we ourselves must conduct them within The framework of the British Empire. The Prime Minister, in his statement du the conference of Empire Prime Ministers, showed how far we had gone in that direction, and we are not in need of lectures from the Leader of the Opposition on the subject. “We must have international conferences if we are to make the system of collective security work. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that we should make bilateral arrangements. What problem in Europe can be settled by such an arrangement? What two powers does the right honorable gentleman suggest should enter into bilateral arrangements?
– I am sorry that the honorable gentleman did not listen to that part of my speech. When I referred to bilateral arrangements, I was talking of achieving understanding with the people of the Soviet Union.
– I am sorry if I misunderstood the right honorable member, but he did not make himself very clear. The record of the Australian Government at international conferences has been very creditable. It is generally stated in the press - and I think it is true in substance - that the Minister for External’! Affairs has played an important part in. international conferences. It is important, for us to ask ourselves why. It was not oratorical power that caused him to play such an important part; rather was it due to the principles upon which he stood,, principles which it is most difficult to. evade without convicting oneself of hypocrisy and bad intention. For instancethere arises persistently in Europe the problem of minorities, and this problem has repeatedly led to wars. It is of nomoment whether we have an international organization like the League of Nations, with a Minorities Commission, or whether we have the United Nations with a Court of Human Rights, as has been proposed: there still remains the need to define by treaty, even when the nations are indulging in unadulterated power politics, the rights of minorities. That is particularly true of the Balkans. Probably, one of the most famous power politics conferences ever held was the. congress of Berlin in 1878 which tried to settle the problem of the Dardanelles. That conference had to draw up, for the sake of maintaining peace, a method for the defence of the rights of minorities within the Turkish Empire. Since this question of minorities persistently leads to wars, whether we seek to deal with it by power politics or through an international organization, something must be done about it. It is of no use to make sneering references to “ paper constitutions “, and the Court of Human Rights, when the alternative is to have the same issues dealt with in a treaty which will rest on the same sanction as if it had been dealt with by an international organization, namely, public opinion, which alone can enforce either the treaty made through power politics or the arrangement reached through an international organization. These problems of minorities do concern us.
One of the most radically misleading parts of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition was his witty reference to Nauru, and Russia’s interest in it. The implication behind his reference was, of course, that the Australian Government was equally at fault in being interested in the problems of Europe. An accusation levelled at the Labour party in the past - and I take the liberty of saying that it was perfectly correct - was that it wa= an isolationist party. Very well, the Labour party has now abandoned isolation. Isolationism has ceased to be a political fact in this country, and Australia has taken an interest in the affairs of Europe. Now, the Leader of the Opposition suggests that we are pushing our noses into the affairs of Europe, just at on a previous occasion he accused us of “’ pushing our beaks “ into the affairs of Spain, and he implies that in doing this we are doing wrong. Whether we are interested in Europe or not - and this is mie of the points upon which we have often been lectured by members of the Opposition - there can be no doubt that we will be affected by war if it should break out in Europe, so that a just settlement in Europe is an important concern nf the Australian Government. Therefore, this Government should take an active part in the formulation of European treaties. I commend, particularly, the reference of the Minister for External Affairs to minority rights, and specially do I commend his reference to the injustice, the cruelty and the inhumanity of the policies being pursued by certain central European governments in disposing of their minority problems by removing populations from their territories into other territories without taking any responsibility for them. The British Government has had occasion to protest to Czechoslovakia for the forcible ejection of Sudetan Germans at a. time when no provision had been made for their assimilation in other parts of Europe, and when their forcible migration contributed gravely to the problems faced by the countries administering Germany. I am particularly glad that the right honorable gentleman added his voice of protest against that method of solving - if it can be called solving - the problem of minorities.
Mr Spender interjecting.
– I am entirely indifferent as to whether or not the honor-, able gentleman agrees with what I am saying. I am entitled to make my speech in my own way. I do not indulge in the insulting and trivial interjections for which the honorable member is famous. I was proceeding to say that the Minister for External Affairs was entitled to pui up what has been called a paper institution to cope with the problem of minorities. Whether or not such an institution exists, a crisis such as that which arose in Czechoslovakia in 1938 must still be faced. It is true that such an institution will not prevent war, but at least it has the value that it will provide objective information for the United Nations. If such an international organization existed there would be some chance of getting objective information in relation to international disputes. In 1938, the world was confused by claims on the part of Germany, that the Sudetan Germans were maltreated and counter-claims by Czechoslovakia that they were not. Every step that the Minister has taken has constituted an effort to give the world objective information in respect of successive crises which have confronted it. The Trusteeship Council can at least give us objective information on colonial policy. The proposed Court of Human Rights could have given us objective information on problems relating to the treatment of minorities. The proposals put forward in these respects by the Australian representative were (unexceptionable. We must arrive at the truth of these matters, and get clear information in respect of them if we are to shape our foreign policy in a rational way. It has been suggested by the Opposition that the Government’s agent abroad has been seeking publicity at the successive international conferences. Let us come to questions of substance. Most of the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition in this House are admirably detached and impersonal. In fact, their defect is that they normally lack any sort of warmth. When, however, he addresses himself to matters coming within the purview of the Minister for External Affairs his speech is immediately injected with a strong charge of emotional warmth. No doubt this change is brought about to some extent by professional jealousy, because of his recollection of many instances in which he has been worsted by the right honorable gentleman in the High Court, and, perhaps, because his legal abilities have been eclipsed in this House since 1940. The policy pursued by the Minister has been of the greatest importance to Australia. First, the general tenor of his amendments at the San Francisco Conference were designed to strengthen the international organization. His later contribution to the debate on the Trusteeship Council, like his proposals in regard to the Australia-New Zealand pact, constituted an attempt to write humanitarian principles into international organizations and affairs. His efforts in the Persian dispute constituted an attempt to give real authority to the Security Council of the United Nations. His insistence on an objective approach to the Spanish question, and his immensely valuable analysis of Spanish policy represented an effort to solve what is potentially a grave international problem. On the question of reparations he again endeavoured to give reality to the United Nations. In his opposition to the veto he sought to establish democratic principles in international affairs. It may be that there have been many failures in these matters - there certainly have been - but the effort was surely worth making. In spite of all the high sounding words spoken at Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam, and of the principles set out in the Atlantic Charter, it is apparent that the great powers do not take the international organization very seriously. If that be so the world should know of it. The Leader of the Opposition contended that we must not place too much faith in the United Nations. Only by taking it seriously, however, are we able to find out whether others also do so. By insisting on the reality of the United Nations the Minister has compelled more than one great power to show that it does not attach as much importance to the international organization as we would wish.
I turn now to the point made by the Leader of the Opposition in the concluding portion of his speech, namely, in relation to the Netherlands East Indies. I have heard the views of honorable members opposite on this subject very many times. I believe they have contributed a good deal to the public misinformation on- this important question. First of all we get the misleading argument that the rebellion in the Netherlands East Indies was fomented by Communists. No Australian observer, no Australian whose duty it has been to report on the activities of these people in the Netherlands East Indies, accepts that view for one minute. We have eloquent testimony that the natives in Sumatra who have never heard of Soekarno are bitterly anti;Dutch. The main ingredient of the rebellion, according to most observers, has been simply a determination on the part of the Indonesians to throw out of their country the Western European nations, particularly the Dutch. The native rebellion is intensely decentralized. Armed forces under the leadership of native chieftains do not take orders from any self-styled Indonesian government. There is no coherent army to be destroyed. There is an intensely decentralized - resistance, and Dutch efforts at suppression are merely like drawing a stick through water. The moment the Dutch forces pass on the resistance army re-assembles. The Dutch are the de jure rulers, but not the de facto rulers of the Netherlands East Indies. The situation that will emerge there is one which Great Britain found it cannot control with its troop.=, and it has ceased to attempt to do so. We are asked by the Opposition to take a definite attitude on this problem when, now that the whole matter is in the melting pot, there can be no definite attitude to take. The significance of the Communists in this dispute is very limited. What is occurring i3 essentially a peasant revolt. The sole unifying factor is the Islamic unity of the peoples of Java. The significance of the Communists is the fact that most of the Indonesion seamen are Communists, who move about the Archipelago and sometimes act in a limited manner as a liaison between the native rebellion forces. What the Leader of the Opposition asks for is that we assist the Dutch to repress the natives. It is time we had some plain speaking on this subject. The honorable member for Warringah rightly urged by way of interjection that- from the point of view of the defence of this country it would be best if the Ladrones and the Carolines were in American hands. The United States, however, has no interest in the economic exploitation of those islands, and is, therefore, unlikely to provoke the opposition of their peoples. Holland must live by the economic exploitation of the Netherlands East Indies, and insofar as it must do so, that country can never count on the loyalty of the native peoples. Whether that constitutes a strong bulwark for this country I strongly doubt. Similarly, we have other weak powers possessing colonies to our north which look to the stronger nations to protect them. Portuguese Timor is another weak link. If European nations have colonies to the north of us they must he sufficiently powerful to control them without the assistance of other countries, and in order to do that they must develop their colonies in the interests of their native populations. The only western country which fulfils these requirements is the United States of America, which has strategic interests only in the Ladrones and the Carolines, and moreover has sufficient power to defend them against an aggressor.
Some sneering references have been directed to the attitude of the Waterside Workers Federation in this matter. All 1 can say is that the attitude of the Waterside Workers Federation in this matter is consistent with the attitude it has taken in the past- It lias always taken a positive attitude on “questions of international importance. Whilst it may be undesirable that waterside workers should refuse to load Dutch ships, the fact that there is civil turmoil in the Netherlands East Indies is no reason why there should be industrial trouble in Australia. There is no reason why the Commonwealth Government should engage in repression in Australia to assist in doubtfully successful repression abroad. It is undeniable that the Dutch, will have a hard job to re-establish their sovereignty in Indonesia. The intervention of the western powers might establish it, but it could not be established by Holland alone. These are points which the House will no doubt debate at great length.
References have been made to the situation in the Middle East. When the Treaty between Great Britain and Egypt was . under consideration it was alleged that Australia had no policy in that area. The allegation is that Australia was not in close contact with the United Kingdom on that matter. The fact that Great Britain alone made the decisions about Egypt was also canvassed by the Leader of the Opposition and his adherents. I would say that there has been no aspect of the foreign policy of Great Britain tl at has been more consistent that the attitude of Mr. Bevin and his predecessors in relation to the Near East. When France tried to suppress a rebellion in Syria the then Foreign Minister. Mr. Anthony Eden, moved to prevent the French from pursuing that policy because of the solidarity of the other Arab peoples with Syria and the consequences that might follow. Throughout the Middle East there is hostility to Great Britain. Britain must be concerned about the situation in Egypt. The Middle East is an area where Russia is able to exert terrific pressure on the British Empire. The British Empire has an economic interest in the oil and a strategic interest in the trade routes of the Middle East. No other interests are essential. To be able to consolidate the British position the United Kingdom Government must make concessions to the political aspirations of the Arab peoples including the Egyptians. Britain cannot consolidate its strategic position if surrounded by hostile Arab peoples.
The great achievements of the Minister for External Affairs at international conferences are not due to oratorical powers, for there are better word spinners in this House, but to the principles for which he has stood. They are principles which it has been impossible for the great powers to dodge without convicting themselves of hypocrisy.
Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has made >a comprehensive and embracing speech that covered in a fairly complete form the activities of Australia’s representatives at the various conferences that have been held since the right honorable gentleman made his previous statement to this House on international affairs.
I listened to the speech with keen attention and have since read it in order to refresh my memory. I repeat that it was a comprehensive and embracing speech, but that was at first hearing; when I closely examined it, I found that it touched very rarely and not at all importantly upon Australia’s foreign policy. About 95 per cent, of the speech was a recital of events at the various conferences of the United Nations and kindred organizations. This House is more interested in the foreign policy of Australia than in the activities, speeches and attitude of the representatives of Australia at their meetings with the representatives of other nations. What we want to know is the policy of the Australian Government on important matters “f day to day interest to all the peoples of tb e world whose attention is concentrated on the maintenance of peace. One must, in examining the activities of the United Nations, constantly bear in mind its background. The United Nations is one of the greatest experiments of mankind. In some measure it is the counterpart of another great experiment., the League of Nations, but an important difference exists between the two organizations. The League of Nations was founded upon a covenant drawn on legal and ethical grounds. The United Nations necessarily observes legal formalities, tor, and to such an organization there must be objection as great as or even greater than there was to the League o? Nations. The difference between the League of Nations and the United Nations, lies in the fact that in World War II. the three great powers on which the terrors and horrors of war were most imposed made the decisions on t!n» strategy by which the war should b<3 fought, often without consulting their minor allies. In the United Nations there must be realism. That was absent, from the Covenant of the League of Nations. That realism is manifest not only in the San Francisco Charter but also in every incident that led to the decisions of the, conference. At the meetings that led to the San Francisco Conference and at the conference itself it was realized that this time the four great powers would in the end decide important issues.
That that was to be so was proved’ at subsequent discussions when it wasfound that the San Francisco agreement could be amended only in slight detail, because of the realistic attitude of thegreat powers, which, having committed their peoples to the fighting of a terrible war, were not ready to commit their peoples to another war. They have no intention of abandoning their authority and sovereignty to the majority made upof what may best be described as minor nations. The speech of the Minister for External Affairs contained endless repetition of issues raised not only by him. or other representatives of Australia at the various conferences, but also by th,representatives of other member nations. It is logical that the great powers should have no intention of surrendering themselves to the minor nations even though the minor nations constitute the majority. One may well have one’s opinion abour that state of affairs, but a useful discussion about it either here or at one or another of the international conferencescan be conducted only with a frank and constant recognition of the fact that, the great powers will not allow themselvesto be out-voted by the minor powers. Early in the Minister’s speech we find that the Australian representatives at someof the conferences have been among therepresentatives of the minor countries that have refused to face that fact. Consider the treaties that were the subject of the first part of the Minister’s speech and concentrate on the terms of settlement with the so-called satellite powers, Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Roumania. We find that the Australian representatives claimed that, as the dominions of Australia, Canada., South Africa and New Zealand played an undeniably important part in certain aspects of the war in Europe, they were entitled to sit as equals with the great powers - China was excluded from the conference dealing with the European conflict, but France was recognized as at least a great power - to arrange the terms of settlement with those countries. The speech of the Minister for External Affairs, which must be acknowledged as a brilliant effort, did not qualify the claims of the repre-‘ sentatives of Australia that they were entitled to be present at those conferences.
One fact that wo ought to have learned the stark, even brutal, realism of Russia in war or in peace. 1 know that, theoretically, a case could be made out for the representation of Australia and the other British dominions at those conferences, hat such a case could be made out only -by a person without the capacity to learn “from the demeanour of the Russians during the war, at the San Francisco conference and subsequently, that it is impossible to proclaim seriously that Russia should be put in the position of being out- voted by the representatives of the British Commonwealth of Nations and r at the terms of peace imposed upon Finland should be opposed to the Russian demands. Such an attitude is stupidity. The alternative is a suggestion that a draft treaty with the satellites should be drafted and then submitted to a full session of the United Nations Assembly, at which, not only Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, which were actively engaged in the European theatre of war, but also Panama and Mexico, which were not in the war, would have votes. Nothing more unrealistic was ever proposed.
– Who proposed that? The honorable member does not suggest that I did?
– I think the right honorable member made that suggestion.
– I did not. What I coni ended was that the powers that had made a substantial contribution to the fight on the side of the Allies were entitled to representation. Australia is one. The four dominions ought to be entitled to -it a t those conferences.
– The right honorable gentleman advanced the alternative that countries like Mexico and Panama should hare a say.
– Nothing of the kind. I. criticized that. I said that those countries had not contributed to the war effort. That was the colonial settlement to which we objected.
– I made a note of the words in the right honorable gentleman’s speech. He suggested that there should be added to the Big Four such countries as the four British dominions.
– Which had contributed to the victory.
– Yes. The Minister’s alternative proposal was that the draft of the Big Four’s decision should be considered, and, if necessary, altered by - I quote the Minister’s own words - “ a free and open conference of all belligerents “.
– Yes, belligerents in the sense that I have mentioned.
– Mexico is technically a belligerent.
– In the circumstances, it was not an alternative at all.
– There is no doubt about it.
– We consistently asked that the countries which had contributed to the victory, should take a part in the peace-making. We complained that the procedure does not do that.
– If the right honorable gentleman adopts the words “ the countries which have contributed “, he will discover that few countries can be excluded. The Minister will admit such countries as Norway, Holland, Belgium. France, Egypt and Greece. Egypt became a belligerent at the last hour. 1 mentioned Mexico as an extreme case.
– Some countries declared war simply so that they would be entitled to attend the San Francisco conference. I do not believe that they should be entitled to confer on the terms of settlement.
– The Minister used the words, “ a free and open conference of all belligerents “. Now, he must either retreat or qualify his words.
– The honorable member himself should retreat a little.
– I criticize the Minister’s proposal as being a most unrealistic suggestion. In that respect, it does not stand alone. His speech contained many other equally unrealistic suggestions. The attitude of Australia’s representatives at the various conferences is subject to similar criticism. I believe that had Australia confined its claim to the right for it to sit at the conference on the terms of settlement for Italy, we should have had a most powerful case. The other British dominions equally would have had a most powerful ease. But to extend our claim to a demand for the night to sit in as an equal with Russia on the terms of settlement for Finland, Hungary and Rumania is to adopt a fantastically unreal attitude.
– I am glad that the honorable member admits the position in regard to Italy, but I remind him that it was the same conference which, in almost the same terms, dealt with the other four countries.
– We had a powerful case in regard to Italy.
Dr-. Evatt. - The purpose of that conference was to deal with the five countries.
– That is true, but th right honorable gentleman argued on procedure. He could have argued that there should have been a series of conferences. [ contend that our right to sit in on the settlement for Italy - a most powerful right - was destroyed by our associating it with the claim for the right to sit in on the settlement for the other four satellite powers. This insistence absolutely destroyed any possibility of Australia sitting in as a principal in settling the treaty terms with that important satellite power, Italy, towards the defeat of which Australia made a very important contribution.
The Minister informed us, .and I recognize his forthrightness in these international discussions, that the two-thirds majority rule could never be made operative so long as the Soviet Union exercised its influence over a specific group of nations. If this position were debated purely on the theory that all nations have equal sovereign rights, we should have a good abstract case to argue, but the cold, hard fact is that Russia has such an iron hand on this group of nations that no logic or appeal from any other country is likely to persuade the Soviet to abandon its opportunity to utilize their votes. The statesman or delegate who contends that Russia has no right, at such a conference, to invoke the power of a bloc must immediately surrender his own right to act a_3 a part of a counter bloc. The ideal, of course, would be for all the countries to attend these conferences with a completely open mind, and with an honorable understanding not to invoke one bloc against another bloc. Unfortunately, that ideal has not been achieved. There is no more harsh and realistic country than Russia to-day. The Minister himself pointed out to the House that Russia has created a bloc, .and invokes its voting strength. To those tactics, the only counter that is known in diplomacy is to gather around you your own friends. I support the remark of the Leader of the Opposition that Australia need not be ashamed to admit the existence of a British Commonwealth of Nations bloc. As the Minister for External Affairs knows much better than 1 do, the country which has the most powerful bloc numerically at these international conferences is the United States of America. The Minister himself encountered the force of the United States invoking the Latin-American bloc in the closing stages of the San Francisco Conference.
– With regard to the twothirds majority rule, it was not suggested that a simple majority should determine the terms of the Peace Treaty, but merely that such a majority vote should enable a recommendation to go to the Council of Foreign Ministers. I mentioned the two-thirds majority rule only in order to show that that condition could never be satisfied even by a majority. I did not question the existence of a bloc.
– The Minister has misunderstood the point that I am endeavouring to make. The purpose of my criticism at the moment is to show that one who, like the right honorable gentleman himself in this instance, condemns as improper the practice of Russia in invoking a bloc, must discard his own right to vote with another bloc. Australia’s strength in the world springs from our membership of the Empire bloc of nations. In my opinion, the right honorable gentleman is ill-advised to criticize the conduct of another nation when, by so doing, he deprives Australia of the right to invoke the strength of our own bloc. The remarks which I am making give point to the criticism which was first voiced by the Leader of the Opposition, that the discussions at these international conferences appear, to an overwhelming degree, to deal with points of legal procedure rather than with the real issues of international relations and the peace settlements. Not in my lifetime will the three, four or five great powers which bore the brunt of World War II. surrender the powerful position which they have built for themselves in the United Nations to-day. We may still play a realistic part in the United Nations by .recognizing that fact. Of course, there are in reality only three great powers, but courtesy and diplomacy oblige us on occasions to refer to four and sometimes .five great powers. However, the hard fact is that the three great powers will stand together as long as they can, and not one of them will completely divest itself of its -overeign right of decision.
I shall examine now the case for the entitlement of those countries which contributed substantially to the war effort to sit in as equals at the peace conference. A large number of nations declared war at the last minute merely t.> gain the right to join the United Nations. Surely it will be admitted that they have no claim to sit in at the peace settlement. If we put them to one side, wc. have left the powers that really fought in the war. Apart from the great powers, what are the countries which really fought in the war? Some, like Norway, Holland, Belgium, Greece, Yugoslavia and Poland, fought for a week, a fortnight or three weeks. After that, they conducted no separate and independent war effort of their own. They did have within their own boundaries some kind. of resistance movement, and outside their own boundaries they gathered what forces they could. But those forces were clothed, armed, fed and paid by the great powers. That is the stern fact. So, when examining the membership of the United Nations, we find that the only independent countries which fought as independent nations throughout the Avar and made a measurable contribution to the victory were the three great powers - the Soviet Union, the United States of America and the United Kingdom - and the British dominions. At the moment, I exclude China, because I am discussing the European theatre. Therefore, if the basis of entitlement to sit in at the peace settlement shall be the making of a contribution to the victory, the countries so entitled in the European theatre are the Soviet Union, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the British dominions. 1 shall examine the problem on that basis.
– Was not the contribution made by some countries largely dependent on their geographical situation?
– The countries to which I have referred were active participants in the war as independent units for only a few weeks, for shortly after they began to fight they were overrun by the enemy.
– That was due to their geographical situation: it had nothing to do with their will to fight.
– The fact remains that they were independent participants in the war for only a few weeks. The question of entitlement must be considered in the light of this fact. There are, in reality, only three big independent nations and the British dominions. I do not consider that it is realistic to take the view that Russia and the United States of America are ever likely to accept the position that Great Britain and the dominions will have five votes, Russia one, and the United States of America one. We cannot, believe that the veto is likely to be surrendered under such conditions. There is no chance of achieving what the Minister for External Affairs has been seeking to gain. Russia is determined not to be out-voted on any issue which it regards as vital to its own interests. Constantly, during his speech, the Minister revealed a logical view, but it was a view which did not face the realities of the situation.
Finally, on this aspect of the subject. I say that if it is argued that the Russian bloc should be resisted, and that the American bloc should be resisted, it must follow that the British Empire bloc also must be resisted. To adopt that course would be, in my opinion, a most outstanding illustration of throwing away the substance for the shadow. The Russians have their bloc, and they show no timidity in admitting it. The British Empire, we all know, has some very difficult problems to face. Had Australia confined its request to the Italian settlement it might have got somewhere. By not demanding the right to participate in the settlement of theFinnish terms, Australia might have avoided the present spectacle of Russiadisplaying such a lively interest in questions in which we are deeply involved. Whilst theoretically it might be argued that the stand taken by the Minister for External Affairs was logical, I contend that as there was no prospect whatever of achieving the purpose he had in mind, it would have been better had be taken a more realistic attitude. It would have been infinitely better for Australia had the right honorable gentleman confined his claim to the Italian settlement.
I criticize, also, the attitude adopted on behalf of Australia in relation to Trieste. The proposal made at the Security Council was that Trieste should be constituted an international area and that its integrity should be guaranteed by the Council.
– That the powers should give an undertaking not to interfere with the territorial integrity of Trieste.
– Is not the history of the nations between the two world wars a history of a world relying on such undertakings by individual nations and of the repeated failure of such nations to observe their undertakings? We have to admit the futility of reliance upon the undertakings of individual nations. Yet the proposal of the Australian delegation in respect of Trieste was that the scheme for centralized control should be given up in favour of a scheme of control based on guarantees by individual nations. We all have had some experience of the unhappy results that follow the failure of nations to stand to their pledged word. [Extension of time granted.]
I had intended to offer further criticism of the attitude adopted by the Minister for External Affairs, but Ishall content myself by saying that I do not think that Australia, under his leadership in these matters, has taken a single trick, and that his speech reveals a continuous experience of frustration. I implore the right honorable gentleman and the Go vernment to pay more regard to the stark realities of the situation and to recognize the fact that this is a world in which the great powers will not allow themselves to be outvoted by numerous but inconsequential minor powers. We should be ready to admit this clearly indicated situation. Australia must decide whether it intends only to be a leader in a missionary crusade for a better world, or whether it also intends to recognize that the first purpose of Australian foreign policy and the first duty of Australia’s Minister for External Affairs is undeniably to secure the integrity of this country. Our first and fundamental duty is not to engage in a missionary crusade for a. better world, but to protect the interests of this country. We should be doing our best to increase, by consultation, the sense of unity of the nations of the British Empire and we should not be hesitant in letting the world see that we are favorable to this unity. That should be the first point of our policy. The second point should be to recognize that we are living in a world in which, if there should be another war. we shall be bound very closely to the United States of America. Our relationship with the United States, therefore, should be a central point of our foreign policy. I should like to hear something more from the Government on this subject. A careful consideration of the discussions, negotiations and incidents that have occurred internationally since the establishment of the United Nations, and, in fact, since the end of the war, has shown that the great powers do not intend to rely entirely upon what the Leader of the Opposition has described as a loosely written arrangement on paper. When we follow the activities of the United Nations and the various crises that have arisen in the Security Council, it becomes very clear that the great powers of the world are relying, to a not inconsiderable degree, upon an international organization which will have some relation to a balance of power. Russia, we have observed, is encircling itself with subservient buffer States. The United States of America, powerful as it is, not only by reason of the results of its great war effort, but also by its possession of the atomic bomb, has indicated clearly that it intends to maintain a close liaison with China. The policy of the United Kingdom indicates that it intends to maintain a close relationship with Greece and Turkey. All these circumstances show that the great powers, whilst they do not overlook the value of international conferences, intend to rely upon some measure of balance of power. That has been the traditional attitude in international affairs which all sovereign States have adopted. It is not pleasing to have to make such an admission. It would be much more satisfactory if one could declare an altruistic confidence in the United Nations and its machinery as a method of protecting the world against war. I have some confidence in the United Nations, but I cannot overlook the fact that it is still a great experiment and that its principal n i embers are showing very clearly that whilst they recognize the necessity for international arrangements, they also are intent upon preserving a balance of power. The foreign policy of Australia must be considered in the light of these stark facts. The security of this country, and the part that its people will lie able to play in assisting in the maintenance of world peace, will depend, to a considerable degree, on its active association with other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and I consider that the Government would be doing better service to Australia if it attached more importance to the maintenance of a much closer liaison with the United Kingdom and a little loss importance to procedural arrangements of the United Nations.
Sitting suspended from 6 to S p.m.
.- The debate that has taken place in this chamber in relation to international affairs has great significance for Australia, inasmuch as this is one of the several occasions on which the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has placed before us, in the form of a report, the activities to which the world is bending itself in order to produce a universal peace. It is interesting to note that there is beginning to be a greater awareness of what this task entails. After the war, people seemed to think that we could plunge straight away into . peace.
No genius yet created has been able to restore a world ravaged by the tortures of war simply by finding a formula immediately. The working out of the processes of peace is long and tortuous. The task undertaken by the Minister for External Affairs has redounded to the credit of Australia. It seems to me that from the remote and once isolated continent of Australia he has made his voice heard, and now it is listened to by the nations of the world. It is therefore all the more amazing and alarming to find that members of the Opposition still do not dare to be a “ Daniel “, and still want to hide in the backwoods of political thought. For example, the melancholy member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has said that all is futility; that it is not much good doing this or that; that in his experience at San Francisco he had found that we were outvoted and out-marshalled ; and that, in one way or another, nothing more than negative results had emerged from S’an Francisco. But as the brighter, more Australian, and more aware personality in this House, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), said, we are creating the machinery with which to erect the institution of peace, and there must be rules and regulations governing the conduct of the various nations which are gathered together under the terms of the Charter of the United Nations to ensure that peace shall come to this and other countries. Naturally, for the time being, there will be disputations, legal argument, the interminable working out. of policies, and the display of power politics. But underneath - again quoting the honorable member for Fremantle - there is ‘ a negative gain in all these things; because, after all, the erection of the structure of peace is a job of reconstruction. The difficulties and frustrations which led to war in Europe were brought about after the complete destruction of the League of Nations as a moral force for peace among the nations of the world. We had to rebuild that structure, and. we hope and believe that it will be a. permanent and complete structure. But. if we approach this matter entirely in the negative state of mind of the honorable member for Indi, and adopt the- attitude of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), we shall be led, not to a brighter day but only to futility. We have a job to do in relation to the people of the world. After we have looked at the mechanics of peace, at the duties that are involved, and at the frustrations and the animosities that are aroused in providing a machine that will produce peace, we have to get down- to the basis of the whole matter. Where does the “man in the -street” come into this matter of peace? It is his peace. Are we going to confound it by too much legal interpellation, too much discussion of this and that, too much emphasis on vetoes ? Can we not, after two bloody and exhausting wars in the last half century, call forth some human resistance to injustice, the greatest injustice of all being war? Can we not summon some of the idealism which created the standards under which Christianity and democracy survive? I believe that the formula is in the bauds of the United Nations, and that its interpreter in this country is the Minister for External Affairs. If we accept the isolationist complex of members of the Opposition, who have continually charged honorable members on this side with being isolationists, and are dominated by the feeling that we are buried in the wheat-fields of Australia, and that anything that we may do must have a background of futility, then the whole thing will be a gospel of despair. The speech of the honorable member for Indi was memorable, inasmuch as he was entirely sincere in the view that he expressed. That is what made it so frightening; because he has no hope for the future. He says that we all are realists, and that in a realistic world the only way to create peace is to be realists. In that event, there will be no peace in this country or the world, because realism must come by way of idealism in some measure; otherwise, all our expressions in regard to perpetual and universal peace will be pious platitudes. The honorable member for Indi, on his own statement, feels that to be so. But surely we have been through too much slaughter, the blood baths have been too terrific and too long sustained, to let us believe that war and destruction are going to be the ultimate destiny of the human race.
There are several things in the Minister’s statement upon which I should like to make some, remarks. We have been distinguished in this country by having as the Minster for External Affairs a man who has the particular kind of brains and genius to erect the building which will morally house all the forces of civilization to enforce and sustain in this world a perpetual and lasting peace. Having said that, I add that the Opposition’s approach to the matter is entirely negative, is conditioned by politics, and belongs to the dark ages and to the days of side whiskers and corduroy trousers. We on this side of the House have developed to the stage of having an international i conception of the international problem of peace. But it appears that, in our planning for peace, we are adopting old measures; that, in the desire to rebuild the machinery of peace, the United Nations - which, after all, is only a continuation of the League of Nations - we are bringing along with us several of the unsavoury features of the old organizaton. I noted that the Minister referred to reparations demands. I thought that reparations were as dead as the dodo. How in the name of concience we can exact reparations from any country in this year of grace., and, at the same time, through Unrra, spend millions of pounds in rehabilitating starving people in other countries, is beyond my comprehension. If peace rests upon any basis, it rests upon economic security among, all nations. By having a vicious peace, by imposing our will on the conquered nations and insisting on the payment of reparations, we do the very thing we set out not to do - we create a feeling of victimization, anguish and despair. Reparations are one of the old tricks whereby another war is brought about. I detest and abhor reparations, because they ‘are the evil of a harbinger of war. Once yon place upon a courageous people, or at least a community of common interests, the necessity to find money to pay the enemy, you immediately get a core of resistance which is the beginning of another war. It is stupid. Australia has just marshalled another £9,000,000 to provide food for the people of China. Yet in northern Europe and elsewhere the people are being held to the payment of reparations as a punitive expression of their defeat in war. Universal peace must fall to the ground if we adopt such old-fashioned methods as reparations and the tying down of territories - which is almost as bad as annexation. Once you have reparations you arouse racial hatreds, irritations concerning boundaries, and troubles in regard to trade interests. Thus the vicious circle goes on. There is no peace for the little man who is waiting patiently for the big people to devise plans for peace. Children must no longer be born with the tragic legend in their destiny “ Born to be killed in action “. We have reached the stage when humanity can survive only if we treat all humans as humans, and plan the future accordingly. If it be our function, as victors, to do these things, we must do them, in the spirit of universal goodwill. Tolerance must be shown to all; otherwise, we shall precipitate the very thing we are trying to avoid, namely, another war- within 25 years. I believe, too,, that because of the exhaustive nature of the discussions that are taking place in relation to peace treaties, the conflicts of power politics, the demands of little nations, and the misinforming of interested people and the public generally, peace can come but slowly. It may be proper to work slowly for peace by a series of five-year plans. War is extremely and terribly efficient, and it is built up by planning over a. series of years. The ‘aggressor decides when and how to strike. In the same way, we should decide to make peace slowly. The path may be tortuous, but when we at last, reach peace its loveliness and endurance will be the more apparent to us. I cannot see that any quick peace would be satisfactory, because of the turmoil following a war, and the misunderstandings between nations.
The honorable member for Indi made some reference to the Italian colonies. Se said that had Australia been allowed to play a more clamant part in those discussions, perhaps we would have established the fact that we had some right to be heard in the discussions in relation to peace generally. Having fought for the preservation of the rights of humanity, we have every right to declare where we stand, in relation to universal peace. It is wrong to assume that we should stand apart somewhere in the South Seas and let people from other parts of the world, well conditioned though they may be, plan our peace. The Minister for External Affairs has not felt small because he is an Australian. He believes not so much in our numbers to-day as in our numbers in the future. He has the feeling that the potentialities and the destiny of this country are great. Being so conditioned, he has no inferiority complex, with the result that he has emerged as one of the greatest figure? in the construction of a peace that will be arduously built but will permanently endure.
Much has been said, also, in regard to the veto power. . Since sincerity must be the keynote of any discussion in relation to universal peace, I claim that the question of Russia has been overpublicized. There is a conflict in the minds of people as to what is communism and what is Russia. As an ally Russia stood valiantly by us. Whether it went . to war for its own defence or to protect us, is beside the point. There can be no planning for peace in either this or any other country unless we have the constituents of peace, and one of its highly desirable constituents is the Russian people. Any man who makes a rabid statement about Russians as distinct from Communists is guaranteed a column in the press. How far will that get us in the eventual planning and in arriving at some formula for peace? It seems to me that we are attempting to throw an important cog out of the wheel, not, perhaps, without some reason. Obviously, there has been a disposition on the part of Russians to mistrust too much, to feel that every democratic power is waiting behind the door to deliver a knock-out blow. There seems to be among the Russians no feeling of amity and trust. Until their doubts are resolved there is no chance of progressing towards peace. This press campaign is widespread, and has influenced many people. I deprecate it-, because if we are to consider our future in the Pacific and what happens in Europe,, we must get back to my first proposition - that we are making peace for the small men, and in that plan we must include all the nations, big a.nd small. If we keep that point consistently before our minds we shall not be too much concerned with the utterances of statesmen or writers who, for the sake of a little brief notoriety, are prepared to do incalculable harm to the cause of peace.
Another important matter is that of atomic control, and here again the old machinery of the League of Nations is in evidence. The Russians wanted to outlaw atomic warfare, whereas we sought merely to control it. That is a dangerous approach. We all pay tribute to the democracy of the American nation, and to the desire of the American people for peace. We have had evidence of this, but we should remember that unless atomic warfare is completely outlawed it may yet bring the world rumbling about our ears. There are certain instruments of war which are too dastardly and cowardly to be considered by civilized people. Among them is the atomic bomb, and other forms of warfare of the same kind. They should he outlawed forthwith as a first plank in the platform of peace.
The subject of trusteeships as opposed to mandates has been much discussed, and T confess that I am still in favour of the old mandate system for the control of dependent territories. The mandate system provided for the beneficient control of dependent peoples. Mandated territories were not fortified, and the League of Nations, when it existed, supervised the mandatory power to ensure that dependent people were being properly looked after. Under the trusteeship, however, the dependent territory becomes a security /.one. Under it the islands of the Pacific will be dotted with fortresses. They will be armed against possible aggressors, and no one can say who will be the enemy in 100 years time. I suggest that the structure of peace should be based on the assumption that peace will endure, rather than on the assumption that there will be another war in 25 years time. Some if the Pacific islands were fortified by Japan in contravention of the mandate terms, and now it is proposed that we ourselves shall fortify them as soon as we get control. The New Guinea mandate came to lis as the result of the last war, as also did Manus Island. If we are to use them as security zones in the game of perpetual rivalry, let us lose them; if, however, it is proposed that we shall share responsibility for them with . other British nations, let us keep them. They have been won by our blood, but other parts of the world and the Empire were won by the blood of our allies and of our British brothers, and in our search for universal peace we must look to the interests of the people as a whole, and not take a narrowminded view of the situation. In particular, we must be careful so to administer dependent territories as to ensure the welfare of the people under our trusteeship. In this respect, the record of Australia has been highly honorable. Australia is but a. young nation, but in New Guinea we took up what used to be called the white man’s burden, and have done a remarkably good job. We have had the natives with us by force of conviction, rather than by force of arms. That is a triumph for Australia, and for the peaceful method of administration, and is in contrast to administrative methods employed in other islands not so far away.
The question of peace in the Pacific must necessarily cause us considerable concern. I confess that I am amazed at the way in which the Japanese have suddenly adopted the democratic way of life. We have heard so much about Emperor worship and Bushido, and the feudal system in connexion with Japan, but now the cables inform us that the Japanese have espoused democracy, which is the gift of the Japanese Government itself. It seems to me to be a bit too good to be true, and I cannot help remembering that this democracy was made in Japan, and will probably last just about as long as other things quickly made in Japan.
It is our duty to turn an eager eye to the situation in the Pacific. There our destiny lies, and what happens there must be of great importance to the people of Australia. It appears that the Ear Eastern Commission, which sits in Washington, gives certain advice to General MacArthur, and leaves it at that. General MacArthur, who is in charge of the Japanese occupation, is doing a job of reconstruction, but this job has not much relation to peace in the Pacific. The problems there are tremendous. The Minister for External Affairs gave a sketchy outline of the situation, but it is at the council table of the nations that international affairs must be discussed and peace formulas worked out. I hope that this House will have an opportunity to discuss foreign affairs in relation to the South-west Pacific. Too many of us have a feeling that foreign affairs do not mean much to us. I shall be surprised if this debate lasts until to-morrow, whereas, if the subject under discussion were wool or wheat the debate would last a fortnight. We are the custodians of our own fate, mid we must pay attention to foreign affairs. In Europe, where an arbitrary boundary means the difference between safety and danger, when there is peace on one side of the line and enmity on the other, the people necessarily take a keen interest in foreign affairs. In the Pacific, where the oceans divide us, we tend to be more complacent, but our problems are no less real than are the problems in Europe. I should like to hear more debates on this subject. There is the important matter of Pacific trade to be considered. Only recently, I saw in what purported to be a vouched-for paragraph in the press that permission had been given to the Japanese to conduct whaling operations in the Antarctic Ocean. As a matter of fact, plans have been drawn up in this country for developing the whaling industry in the Antarctic. If the proposal ro resume whaling by the Japanese represents part of a reparations scheme for Japan, then it only proves that such a policy, whether dictated by kindness to the conquered or by anger, is the wrong approach. We must take an interest in this matter of reparations, because our concern is the welfare of Australia. We must concern ourselves with the future of the little man who will father the children who must fight the next war, and we must take action to protect him. We must produce a peace formula that he can understand. We must strip the subject of foreign affairs * f* legalistic jargon. We must take it away from the career diplomats and from the foreign editors of newspapers, and bring it down to the level of the people. It is their fate that has to be decided, and we must see that they are informed of what is being done in the interests of peace. We should lose no time in working out the formula that will ensure peace for the people of this nation and of the world.
.- The problem of peace is so complex that within the limited time allowed for debate one can touch on only a few aspects; but it is important to point out the difference between the approach of honorable members on this side of the House and that of Government supporters. It cannot be denied that members of all parties desire peace. If only for the sake of humanity, that must be our common objective. Our differences depend on ways and means of achieving that end. It has been made clear during many debates in this House that we on thi? side of the chamber adhere to the principles and ideals of the United Nations, but perhaps we do not place the same emphasis upon collective international action as the sole means of ensuring peace within the foreseeable future as do honorable members opposite.
To-night, I propose to discuss one aspect only - the military-political aspect of peace. I realize that peace involves moral, economic, political and military aspects, but there is not time to discuss them all. The first thing to consider is the exact part that is realistically possible for Australia to play in the councils of the nations. I will not have it said that, because we approach the matter realistically, and say that Australia’s influence amongst the nations cannot be the same as that of the United Kingdom or Russia or the United States of America, we necessarily have a sense of inferiority. The contrary is the truth. We on this side assert at all times the right of Australia to express its views on international affairs. If I were to criticize the Government’s policy it would be on the ground that its representatives express themselves far too much in philosophical and legalistic terms, avoiding realities. After all, we should recognize the fact that we are a nation of less than S.000,000 people. We should recognize the fact that in the world to-day peace cannot be achieved except through power in some form. Whether it be through a League of Nations, or by a balance of power, or through a peace imposed by one nation that is predominant over all others, the preservation of peace rests ultimately on power. I should have thought it was apparent from the debate to-night and from the speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) last week, that the United Nations does not now possess the means to ensure the peace of the world. Neither does it appear that the organization will possess such power within the foreseeable future. It is upon that basis that our peace discussions .should rest.
There fire great differences of ideology between Russia on the one hand and the democracies .of the United States of America and the British Commonwealth on the other, and those differences cannot be lightly resolved. From Russia’s point of view, it seems that these differences colour the whole approach to the problem of peace. Russia is suspicious of the democracies, and it cannot be said that its suspicions are entirely without basis. One must be fair enough to admit that. On the other hand, it is impossible for us to understand the mental approach of the Russians to the problem of peace. Thus, we have a condition which, may result in the world splitting into two opposing camps, with Russia on one side, and the United States of America and the British Commonwealth of Nations on the other. That is a condition of affairs which, if allowed to continue, would constitute a serious challenge to the peace of the world. <So we should seek ways and means of bringing these opposing views together and, in” the meantime- and this is the important point of my speechmake sure that we do not place all our eggs in one basket. No one can foretell what the future will bring. We are all hopeful that it will see the nations of the world brought together. But this is an uncertain world.
Inevitably, the peace of the world depends upon the three great powers, Russia, the United States of America and the British Commonwealth. If they fail to agree, peace ultimately is impossible. On the other hand, if we place all our hopes of security in the one basket of the United Nations, and that basket proves to have a hole in it, as indeed it may, our security will be in obvious and instant danger.
Listening to and reading the debates on the United Nations, I have been very much impressed by the similarity of the approach to-day to that made when the League of Nations was debated a generation ago. Then, as now, the same high ideals, the same confidence in human nature were expressed, and yet in the space of a generation we learned that despite the efforts then made to promote the peace of the world that desirable objective was not reached because of the existence of other factor* which operated against its achievement. It seems to me that power in the world rests in one of three places. We may have peace because power rests in one nation that is able to dominate the world - it may be a benevolent peace, a Pax Brittanica, but it may also be a peace enforced by some other nation. It could have been, as the Germans had in mind, a Pax Germ/mica. That is a concept which none of us will concede. The other concept is that power rests in the United Nations as an organization able to enforce the peace. Would any man in his sense* to-day say that he is satisfied that such power rests in the United Nations or is likely to do so in the years immediately ahead? The third concept - and I know this concept is regarded as evil by many of the intellectuals to-day - is that power rests in certain nations to preserve world peace. In other words, it depends on a “ balance of power “ I know of no other repositories of power than those I have mentioned. Power to enforce peace rests in one nation or in all nations under collective security or in some nations under a balance of power. Since we reject the first, and since the second is not yet capable of being achieved, are we to reject the concept of balance of power? 1 know that this view will be misinterpreted in later days. That brings me to a very important aspect of my speech, namely, the part to be played by Australia as a nation and as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Obviously in modern days a small nation cannot play a completely sovereign part in world affairs. I am speaking in terms of political sovereignty as a Concept which bears relation to other days when the very essence of political sovereignty was the- ability of a. country to- defend itself b-y virtue of its own might. From, theCongress; of. Vienna up to the outbreak of. the war of 1914-1S- it was- clear that the major nations,- the’ “ concert “ of Europe,, were preserving the peace of the world. Until the outbreak of the first world war in 1914 the small nations were excluded from playing any part in the- preservation of world peace. Indeed, neutrality was regarded as their proper role. As the result of discussions f ollowing the first world war, there came into being, the concept of self-determination and a new sovereignty for the small nations-* Yet, between then and now the increasing complexity of modern life, and economic and technological developments have resulted in our independence and like that of other small nations, in terms” political being vitally cut down. Having regard to the development of nuclear energy, to speak to-day of small nations having complete political sovereignty is to shut one’s eyes to the real facts of modern politics. Because of these developments is it realistic to assert that our voice is heard in the nations of the world to-day with the same force and authority as if we were a nation of 100,000,000 people and, indeed, as if we were independent of the British Commonwealth? The Minister for External Affairs would be the first to acknowledge that When he speaks for Australia he speaks in two roles - as the representative of an independent nation, but at all times in the councils of the nations with the authority of the British people throughout the world behind him. Were it not for our association with the British Commonwealth, does any one imagine that we would have any really great influence in determining the events of the world? I am speaking in terms of military -politics because only in those terms can I direct myself in the short space of time available to me.
If I have one special criticism to -make about this Government’s foreign policy it is that it has failed to take advanttage of opportunities to bind the British Commonwealth of Nations more closely together. I do not find myself in disagreement with many of the general philosophical ideas advanced by Ministers; but in their approach to the problems of securing peace they should realize that- a- small nation;, can no longer, in. a politico’-military- sense; be: quite independent. In this cataclysmic age for Australia to say, “ We speak with sovereign, authority as a sovereign nation,, completely independent “ is rather to- fly in the fact of reality. Every small ration, whether it be Australia, Holland, Denmark’ or Sweden,, knows that a clash of armed forces to-morrow or the next day would be a clash of giants and that there would be only two courses for them to follow, either appeasement, or peace at any price, with all the humiliations which, such a course involves, or adherence to some major power involved in the struggle. Do we put all our confidence in our ability to achieve collective security through the United Nations? If we do not, what efforts are we making to bind ourselves closer, both economically and militarily, to the British Commonwealth, and after that to the United States of America? It seems to me that it would be unwise for us to approach our problem of foreign policy as if the issue were merely a question of whether or not we believe in the United Nations. We all believe in the United Nations, but the degree of our belief in its ability to secure peace varies. Looking back on the unfinished business of 1918-20, reading as we all have read the speeches made then by the framers of the Treaty of Versailles, reading the speeches made in the various parliaments of the world during the period when the treaty was in the making, we find that politicians the world over expressed the same pious hopes as are being expressed to-day. Asserting the right of Australia to speak as a completel’y sovereign entity, against Great Britain if necessary, advances neither our security nor the peace of the world. After all, the efficacy of our foreign policy can be measured only by the test : does it or does it not advance the security of our nation? No one can say that our security is more sure to-day than it was two years ago. We must ask ourselves, whither are we going? The members of the Opposition have said more than once that we should make a sane and realistic approach to this problem. I should like the approach to be related more in substance to the security of the country than has been revealed in the Government’s policy. I go further and say that I should like expression to be given to a policy more in conformity with that enunciated by the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, who said that Australia speaks with a trumpet tongue when it speaks through the alliance potential of the British Empire. Does any one believe that the lone voice of Australia, speaking as a nation entirely independent as the British Commonwealth, will be greatly heeded? If, on the other hand, Australia speaks with the Empire it will play a most effective part in framing the peace. Whilst that involves a certain degree of self-effacement, the Government, if it adopted such a policy, could play a more constructive role in the discharge of its function of guarding the destiny of this country. I went overseas more than once during the war, and I know that wherever one goes there is a body of opinion prepared to exaggerate any difference between one dominion and the Mother Country, and, because of that, publicity is always directed to anything said when a real apparent difference is revealed.
The difference between us and the Government is that our approach to international affairs is real whereas that of the Government is unreal. In order to demonstrate that, I take two disparate subjects. The first concerns the power of veto. Philosophically I would agree with the Minister that it is wrong that any of the great powers should be able to veto a decision of the United Nations; but does the Minister imagine that we will be able to persuade Great Britain, Russia or the United States of America, to forgo that right since it is clear beyond argument that upon them will finally rest the task if it is to be performed, of preserving the peace. Does any one imagine that Russia or any of the other major powers would tolerate having its vital national policies determined by a number of small nations ? It is fantastic even to suggest that the United Kingdom and the other great powers will forgo the right of veto. It is upon those nations, as I have pointed out. that the responsibility to maintain peace devolves. Time and time again we have heard demands in this chamber that the right of veto should be excluded. Yet no one can escape the fact that rather than the right to veto being an obstacle to peace the continued campaign against the exercise of the veto, carried on in an acrimonious atmosphere, will prove a much greater obstacle to that understanding between the great powers, without which permanent peace is quite impossible. The other matter is the proposition that there should be a Court of Human Rights. Philosophically I agree, again that there ought to be means of preserving human rights. But was the proposal of the Minister for a Court of Human Rights within the realm of practical power politics? It is perhaps nor. surprising that, as we learned from the newspapers, only Australia and New Zealand voted in favour of the establishment of such a court. The analogy drawn by the proponents of the court of human rights was that, since an international court did operate on and has effectively determined disputes principally involving proprietary interests or interpretation of treaties as between nations^ it was practicable for some similar court to resolve questions of human rights against signatory nations. Such a so-called analogy, is valueless as any one with his ear to the ground would know. It was a waste of time to deal with such a matter when other issues of far greater importance awaited solution. I summarize what I have said by saying that Australia, by its sacrifice of the lives of men and women, has earned for ever the right to express its views, but instead of arguing about the veto, the Government and Australia’s representatives ought to pay more attention to strengthening the bonds that bind the British peoples because never at any time in history was there more need for unity among the countries that make up the Empire. It is common sense that if the British Commonwealth of Nations divests itself of power, Russia, or some other nation, will shape the world’s affairs.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said that we have heard and read a lot about Australia’s right to consultation before any treaty is made. We agree that Australia should be so consulted, but point out that it is illogical that the Government should demand that right while denying to this Parliament any prior knowledge of what attitude will he taken up by Australia’s representatives at international conferences. We are never told anything about what Australia proposes to do at future international meetings. All we are given is h careful recital of past events.
Air. Beazley. - The Opposition opposed the creation of a foreign affairs committee.
– Speaking for myself, I have strongly proposed such a committee, but this chamber is the place in which foreign affairs, past, present and future, should be thoroughly debated so that the national view, as expressed by the nation’s elected representatives, shall be made known. Instead of that we have, in the person of the Minister for External Affairs, a man who is a democrat overseas and an autocrat at home.
The Leader of the Opposition has adumbrated the problem of Germany. I think that our approach to Germany is the key to the peace of Europe, which, in turn, may well be the key to the peace in the Pacific. It would be as well for the Minister, before this debate lapses, to say what he thinks about the position generally. World-wide concerns should be thoroughly debated before any man goes overseas to present Australia’s view. What is to be done about Germany? Is the French idea or the American idea to prevail? The ideas lash. Upon the answer to that question will depend the lives of men and women. What is to be done with Japan? I should like to hear more said about the islands ro the north of Australia. I have said something about that matter before. I think we lost a golden opportunity to have American troops in those northern islands as a bulwark against invasion from the north. Here our 7,000,000 people are under the constant menace of more than 1,000,000,000 people of other colours and other nations. American troops installed in those islands would have been a barrier between ourselves and aggressors from the north. We were informed, when I raised the matter, that discussions were proceeding. Without our being told anything more, especially about Manus Island, the Americans withdrew. These are matters of vital importance. In this chamber I have asked also about Portuguese Timor and French Caledonia, and we have been told that existing sovereignty in those areas must be preserved. Small nations must accept responsibility for their own defence or render the opportunities to others to defend them. It is paradoxical that we should allow Portuguese Timor and New Caledonia, where there were never more than 20,000 whites, to remain open to invasion. We have heard too about general problems in the Pacific, but nothing concrete about what has been done about those places. Nothing has been said or done by the Government about our relations with the Dutch and the position in the Netherlands East Indies. It would be unreasonable to say that all the Indonesians are Communists, because I know that for many years nationalist sentiment has been growing in Indonesia. Nevertheless, whatever takes place in Java, is of fundamental importance to this country. In this debate nothing has been said from the Government side as to what is to be done about Germany. Neither has anything emerged as to Japan, other than that a commission of four is looking after matters there. I want to know what in concrete terms is the policy of the Government, if it has any.
.- Inevitably as we discuss these international affairs an atmosphere of pessimism develops. There is plenty of scope for pessimism and for scepticism. The position to-day is not novel. A similar situation developed after every great war. There has been the same scramble for acquisition of lands and economic advantage. The aftermath of this war differs from that in no substantial way. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) mentioned the Congress of Vienna. As an historical event, that certainly comes into our contemporary period. The Congress of Vienna assembled in September, 1814. The victorious allies, Russia, Prussia, Great Britain and Austria, which had formed an alliance for twenty years against France, were to determine the political and territorial shape of central Europe. By January, 1815, Great Britain and Austria had signed a treaty with their former enemy, France, to go to war, if necessary, against the claims of their former allies, Russia and Prussia. Coming a little closer to our present period, we all have vividly in our minds the experience at Versailles after the first world war, and the mistakes of the peace settlement which led to the second world war. In the last conflict Italy and Japan turned against their allies of a generation before. Those illustrations, as well as other examples of history, should contain sufficient warning and be a guide to our conduct in the future. However, we have some reason for optimism regarding the present situation. In the concert of nations which are to discuss and work out the peace, the United States of America and Russia are now included. “Whilst that represents a tremendous advance on what happened after World War I., it also brings with it problems with which I shall deal as I proceed.
Despite the lessons of the past and the tragic experience of centuries of warfare and struggle, human nature is such .that the hope again surges that we shall find this time a permanent solution which will give to the world an enduring peace. If we are to translate those hopes into practical reality, we shall require more tolerance, patience and power to understand the other fellow’s point of view, a greater willingness to compromise, and a greater determination to make a workable peace than the nations have ever demonstrated in the past. Several honorable members, who have already spoken in this debate, urged us to take cognizance of the world realities to-day. The one great reality which is familiar to all of us, and which previous speakers emphasized, is the dominance of the world situation by the three great powers, Great Britain, the United States of America and Soviet Russia. However, there are other realities which should not escape us if we are to form a background to our thinking on these tremendous problems. They are, first, the economic and social dislocation which has taken place in recent years; secondly, the set of psychological factors which has developed from this and other causes; thirdly, the intrusion of the atomic bomb, with all its terrifying implications ; and, fourthly, the weakened world leadership to-day compared with the leadership of the war years. I propose to deal first with the economic and social dislocation.
The devastation which has taken place throughout the world, has had its effects on the peoples of the countries who have sustained its impact. Factories have been destroyed, farms devastated and homes split up. There is no necessity for me to elaborate the tragic experience of the second world war. This has made its contribution to the general restlessness, feeling of despair, disillusionment and hopelessness for the future. The psychological f actors are partly a product of those causes, and partly a product of the fact that in the life-time of this generation, we have experienced two world wars, a boom, and an economic depression. We look for guidance and hope in the future without very much to sustain us. All those things form a part of the background of the world situation as we find it to-day.
Then, perhaps overshadowing other factors is the atomic bomb and its implications. We talk in awesome terms of the ‘atomic bomb. I wonder how many of us realize just what the atomic bomb did, and what it will mean to the future of the world. After the first bomb had been dropped at Hiroshima, the President of the United States of America stated publicly that it had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T., and had more than 2,000 times the blast power of the British “ grand slam “, which was the largest bomb that had ever been used up to that time in the history of warfare. An examination of some of the facts which have since been elicited discloses that the President was not making an idle exaggeration when he described the capacity of the bomb in those terms. Since all honorable members may not be familiar with the details, I should like to place a few of them before the House.
At the time the bomb fell on Hiroshima, the town had a population of abour 245,000 persons. Its war-time peak had been 380,000, but because of the heavy bombing of Japanese cities, evacuations of population had reduced the number of people living in the town to 245,000. With the dropping of one atomic bomb, 100,000 people were killed and a similar number were immediately injured or subsequently sustained serious illness. Of the 150 doctors in the town 65 were killed immediately and almost all of the others were injured. Of 1,7S0 nurses in the town, 1,654 were either dead or too badly hurt to work after the bomb fell. Of 90,000 buildings in the town, 62,000 were destroyed. Honorable members should not think of those as the flimsy dwellings that we imagine Japanese houses to be, because after the earthquake of 1923, regulations had been passed which required a higher pressure load on the roofs than even the regulations called for in dwellings in the United States of America. All that loss of life and devastation were caused by the dropping of one atomic bomb. Of the total population of 245,000, 100,000 people were killed and a similar number were injured. The bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima, seared more than the wretched inhabitants of Hiroshima. It seared the minds of thinking men and women throughout the world. The cloud which blew up, was more than a cloud that lasted for a time. It clouded, and has clouded ever since, the imagination of mankind. The buildings were not the only things that were destroyed by one atomic bomb. A great deal of the faith of men in the future, and a great deal of the devotion and hope that men were prepared to give to the construction of the future, were destroyed by the impact of one bomb. And we cannot ignore its implications.
Another reality which I mentioned was the weakened world leadership. This is of tremendous importance in the difficult time of post-war re-shaping of territories. Undoubtedly, nations and the leaders of nations find it easier in time of war to come together for a common objective, namely, their own security, than they do in time of peace. We do not need to go outside our own country to realize that. We know what happened in Australia during the war years, and how much easier it was to get the united effort of our people for our own security, and the common objective of support for the United Nations. Similarly, it was found practicable for the leaders of the United Nations, or the more important of them - certainly, Great Britain, Russia and the
United States of America - to meet, and reach agreeable conclusions. Whilst it is generally true that these things are easier to do in war-time than in peacetime, I believe that the task of the nations is made more difficult to-day because the present leaders are not men of the calibre of President Roosevelt, Mr. Churchill, and Mr. Stalin. Those three were able to meet, thrash out their problems, and having reached decisions go ahead with the job. Undoubtedly, the United States of America and Great Britain are represented at conferences today by very able men in Mr. Byrnes and Mr. Bevin, but we all would accept it. as a part, of our every-day experience that there is no substitute at conferences such as these for the men who themselves make the final determination. However able he may be, a lieutenant is no substitute for the man who makes the vital decision. Our problem of solving these post-war difficulties has been magnified because the leaders of the nations are not men who can get together in time of peace as other leaders did in time of war in order to settle matters requiring decision.
All of us accept as a reality of the world situation to-day,, the dominance of the United States of America, Russia and Great Britain, and this is evident in the discussions which have been taking place. It is responsible for the veto provisions, and it is undoubtedly responsible for the general feeling throughout all the smaller nations of the world that, whilst they may have some influence in shaping the world of the future, the final leadership must rest with these three great nations. That being so, it is perhaps useful to examine for a few moments where is the real threat to the peace of the world in the next ten or twenty years. We can agree, I believe, that no nation other than the United States of America, Great Britain and Russia could successfully set in motion the total war machine that is required to wage war under modern conditions. Therefore, we may ask : Is there a threat to world peace to-day in the policies of any one or any group of those three great powers ? We do not need very much thought to convince ourselves that neither the United States of America nor Great Britain is looking for war. Each of them, by nature of its people and its governments, is a peace-loving democracy. These nations have little to gain and a tremendous lot to lose by waging war. They have well established industries and well developed territories, and overwhelming majorities of their peoples desire to lead their lives peacefully and develop their industries without the interruption of war and the terrible sacrifices in life and materials that war imposes. If we had only those nations to consider, peace could be assured, certainly during our life-time, and for many years to come. So the real test, as we see it to-day, is: Does Russia constitute a direct threat to the peace of the world? Many people find a menace in the maintenance by Russia of considerable armed forces. But do the facts really warrant those fears? I do not imagine that Russia could, within the next ten or twenty years, successfully wage war against the English-speaking democracies. The material effort of assembling naval and air forces would be enormous. In addition, Russia must repair its own shattered industries, and raise the standard of living of its people, who have accepted for longer than most of them desire a depressed condition in regard to food, clothing and housing. I believe that, whatever fears we may express of Russia’s expansionist policy, and the facts of expansion are undoubted, neither the Russian Government nor the Russian people desire a war in their life-time. If that reason be accepted we come to this point: Why do we, in the Englishspeaking word, entertain such fears with regard to Russia? Is not the truth of it that we are not so much concerned with the military threat that Russia presents to us as we are weakened in our own government and domestic affairs by the spread, throughout our territories, of Russian ideologies by the disruptive efforts of people in our own communities who feel no real allegiance to their own country, but are prepared to devote their services with fanatical zeal to the Russian policy of communism? This is causing, in English-speaking countries, a feeling of great uneasiness. Our suspicions, whether they be well-founded or otherwise, are not discouraged by Russia. If that be so, let us spend a few moments examining what must be the feelings of those who are responsible for leadership in Russia. Russia has had a comparatively short experience of world leadership. The revolution of 1917 is barely a generation behind us. For many years after the revolution there was hostility throughout a great part of the civilized world towards Russia, and Russian leaders believe that such suspicions can still be found in the policies of other countries towards Russia. If we entertain fears and suspicions regarding Russia, we can well imagine that Russia entertains fears and suspicions regarding us. That brings me to what I believe to be the real question in this debate, namely : What practical contribution can Australia, a country of some 7,000,000 people, forming only a small part of the world’s population, make to the solution of the world’s economic and territorial problems? I believe that we can make a very real contribution.
In fairness to the Minister for External Affairs, I wish to say something about the contribution he has made. There has been some serious criticism by some of my colleagues during this debate of aspects of the policy of the Government to which I believe the right, honorable gentleman should make an answer. We have emphasized earlier in the debate that Australia is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We can use the trumpet voice referred to by the honorable member for Warringah, to which this membership entitles us. Because of our membership in the British Commonwealth of Nations we are entitled to expect our statesmen to express a policy in keeping with that of the British Commonwealth. There are, of course, some dangers in the use of our right to independent expression in this regard. If, for instance, too much difference of view on our part were expressed in these international debates it might weaken the influence of Great Britain. But, as a member of the British Commonwealth, we are accustomed to speaking our own mind, and when that is done occasionally it is a healthy sign. On such occasions our representatives will be listened to attentively, and the same degree of suspicion may not be held in respect of them as of some others. It may be considered that we are only a small fish among many whales. It may be considered also that we are not pushing forward our own views merely in order to attain some particular territorial or economic objective. I believe also that by expressing our views in this way we may lie able to obtain some recognition from other countries, particularly in Europe. Another factor which may strengthen our voice is that we have taken state ownership and direction further than most other English-speaking countries. We may voice our quite valid criticisms of that policy in this House, but the fact that we have adopted the policy may cause some other countries to lend a more sympathetic ear to the views that we express.
The next way in which the Minister has rendered service to Australia is in his insistence on democratic procedure. As I understand the right honorable gentleman’s attitude, he has declared that democratic ideals are best served by democratic procedures and the force of world opinion. I have mentioned the suspicions which two great groups of nations entertain towards each other. There is undoubtedly a clash in the economic ideologies of these two great groups which may bring disaster to the world within the next ten or twenty years unless the differences can be resolved. The best means that we can adopt to solve these differences is, in my opinion, the free exchange of views by representatives of the countries concerned, and the widest possible dissemination of knowledge and information among all countries. In this respect, a justifiable criticism may be expressed of the attitude of Russia. Today Russia resists the process of the dissemination of information to its own people. Generally speaking, there is a reluctance on the part of Russia either to give information, or to receive it, and this prevents the democracies of the world from learning about Russia and the Russian people from gaining information about other countries. Without doubt, there is much that we may learn from Russia, and there is much that Russia may learn from us. Unfortunately, the isolation that is caused by what has been described a.« “the iron curtain” is having serious effect. There is not a free exchange of information. Russia is, to this degree, isolating itself from other countries. The United States of America, as we very well know, also has a long tradition of isolationism in respect of European affairs. In the circumstances it is perhaps hardly surprising that the Russian administration is suspicious, nervous and fearful of the effect of a free flow of information from other parts of the world. This makes it all the more imperative that at our great international gatherings there should be an insistence upon free and open discussion. I believe that the Minister for External Affairs has endeavoured to encourage this procedure. For that reason I was rather surprised to hear the Leader of the Opposion (Mr. Menzies) and the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. McEwen) criticize the Minister’s attitude in this regard. It is undoubtedly true that certain individuals like the limelight, and like to strut upon the stage, in an endeavour to gain favour in their own countries and to win enthusiastic support for their policies. On a smaller scale that kind of thing happens in our parliaments. We all know very well that a certain amount of windowdressing is carried on in this chamber for’ the benefit of constituents. We know, too,that much of the real work of the Parliament is done outside the legislativechambers in friendly conferences and discussions. Generally speaking, honorablemembers who may engage in quite a deal of wrangling and vigorous debate in thechamber are ready, when they leave here,to discuss the matters at issue over’ the luncheon table or over a convivial! glass of wine. Agreement is reached in this sphere after the oratorical storm has blown over. I have no doubt that the same kind of thing takes places at international conferences. After the interminable debates on procedure and the like, agreements are very often reached in informal discussions. It may be said, therefore, that the debates on procedure, which seem to be more or less useless, often lead to better understanding and to agreement. So, I believe that international conferences are able to do a great deal to help in international understanding.
I stress, however, that it is not possible to change the outlook of a whole nation overnight. In ‘.countries like Russia, where authoritarian ‘control has ‘existed few a long while, -©r ‘Germany, where aggressive movements which have threatened European pea’ce have been & common experience, or Japan, where Emperor-worship ins been practised for centuries, the views -of people are not likely to be changed overnight by the issue .of a few edicts expressing democratic principles. Such a change will bo effected only after long and painful educational processes. We must, of necessity, try to educate the peoples of these countries on the best features of our own national life and institutions. So while we consider that we are entitled to criticize the Governments’ feeble handling of the dispute inevolving the Netherlands East Indies, rand while we are in duty bound to criticize the external implications of the economic policies which the Government is pursuing, we can still put a true value On the contribution that Australian can make by sending its representatives abroad. We should not underrate the value that is to be derived from a proper insistence on the observance of democratic procedures. We should adhere to this policy, and not forgo our opportunities for friendly discussion, for in this way knowledge may be increased of the principles which, in our opinion, will lead to world harmony. These ends can. be we” served by a free public interchange of views.
.- L am sure that all members appreciate this opportunity to discuss matters relating to external affairs. We feel inclined to say, “ Why can we not do this more often?” As far back as 1943, I suggested the constitution of a foreign affairs committee. It is wrong that in relation to foreign affairs the Commonwealth should be represented by only one member of the Parliament. No matter how able the Minister for External Affairs may be, he should not be the sole authority to make vital decisions for this country. If we had a committee representative of both sides in both branches of the legislature, matters of great importance, such as that which we are now discussing, could be properly considered. The European countries have suffered severely in casualties and destruction. There may ‘be minor -upheavals in Europe, and there certainly will be famine, but none of the .great nations could make war to-day. Australia can look forward to perhaps two decades -of peace only because of the parlous condition of civilization to-day. Even if Russia desired further to extend its boundaries, it could not make war in the Pacific, because it has no sea-power and could not develop it for a decade. We in this continent are blessed with many resources which Providence has given us and we .have been made secure in large measure through our geography. We have also the security which we have fought for, and which flows from our membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We should therefore endeavour to examine the position squarely. It may be more or less idealistic to hope that there will be world peace for the next generation. But surely the age of reason will arrive, and differences between nations will be settled as are differences between individuals - by conciliation and arbitration. Even though that is not the position in the industrial field, it exists in the civil field, and ultimately it will apply to the international field.
I am profoundly disappointed that the Minister for External Affairs did not, in the document that he placed upon the table, deal with the problem of the Netherlands East Indies, which is close to us. Last Friday, I asked the right honorable gentleman this question -
For the sake of Australia’s good name, and to salvage some of our trade with the Nether lands East Indies, will the Minister for External Affairs intervene in the unfortunate boycott of Dutch ships before the matter reaches such dimensions that i.t will probably be brought before the United Nations Assembly? Does the Government intend to take any action?
The right honorable gentleman replied -
I propose later in the morning to ask the House to open a general discussion on international affairs. Therefore, I hope that the honorable member will not expect me to answer the question offhand. I was thus put off, and the question was not answered. Not a word in regard to- it appeared in the voluminous document which the right honorable gentleman laid on the table. Is it not a blot on Australia’s good name that the Dutch people, who are our closest white allies and valuable customers for our products, should be embittered and alienated as they have been because a handful of men who own no allegiance to this country, or to any other country except Russia, are permitted to decide our foreign policy? Whatever the Minister may have achieved in distant councils, here is a problem with which he has not grappled. It is true that he has been out of Australia a great deal. Rut he has been asked about the matter since his return, and he has evaded a reply. Yet it is of primary importance. Good Australian lives have been lost in Java- -the- lives of officers who went there *to carry out a mission of peace; to ensure the rounding up and repatriation of the Japanese and a smooth transition from war to peace. Food ships, containing also medical supplies for women and children who had been in internment camps for years, were held up in Australian waters for more than a year. To our eternal disgrace, it was necessary for a few individuals secretly to provide enough firewood and coal to allow Dutch ships to leave Australian waters. Recently we had the spectacle of the Tasman, named after the great navigator who was the first person to touch Australian shores, being refused the services of a tug and having to make its own way to its berth, and to be unloaded and loaded by Dutch children. We talk about settling the affairs of Finland, Bulgaria, Roumania and Austria. The Minister has shared in those talks. Yet here is a problem on our doorstep which he has not touched. He has abdicated in favour of ia handful of law-breakers who dominate 22 powerful unions in New South Wales and call the tune to which this spineless Government dances. That is my first reaction to this document. I am sorry that the Minister did not fulfil the specific promise that he made to me. The Netherlands East Indies has always traded extensively with Australia. Orders for goods which Australian workmen could have made have been lost to us. Travellers returning from Java have reported that American goods are pouring into Batavia. By the loss of this trade, a depression may be caused in Australia. The Government claims that its aim is to ensure full and con*- tinuous employment. Should the ‘time arrive when men cannot obtain employment, we shall be able to charge this Government with having failed to take steps to ensure the carrying on of Australia’s commercial activities, and with having abdicated in favour of men who had decided that they and not the Government should be the expounders of our foreign policy.
– How would the honorable member deal with them?
– I would protect men who wanted to work, Puppets of the Trades Hall, like the honorable member who has interjected -
– Order! The honorable member must address the Chair.
– To-day, when men like J. J. Brown, in Melbourne - “ Red “ Brown is the name by which he is known - decide that no one shall work on the railways or tramways, nobody dare work. The new member who has interjected would not- advocate that any man shOuld work when a strike had been decided upon by such men, however irresponsible their action might be.
– I am merely asking what the honorable member would do.
– I would see that in this democracy, in which we talk of the freedom of the press and freedom of religion, there was freedom to work, and that men were protected by the Government when they went to work. A number of ex-naval ratings loaded the Dutch ships. I am sorry for speaking sp vehemently about this subject, but I feel that it. is something that should make every Australian hang his head, The sooner the Government grapples yith .the matter instead of sitting idly by, the better it it will be for our name.
Undoubtedly, the Minister for External Affairs has made a reputation for himself overseas. His name is known throughout the world because of his activities in connexion with United Nations, and we must applaud him for the stand that he has taken on many subjects. However, it cannot be denied that the United Nations, whether the Security Council or the Assembly, has been merely a debating ground for nations large and small. As United Nations has no powers, naturally, the major nations have been able, with the use of the veto, to call the tune. That we must accept. It is only from the great nations that war can come, and we must endeavour to make the United Nations organization work. We must believe in it. We believed in the League of Nations, which was set up upon the inspiration of President Woodrow Wilson of the United States of America, but, unfortunately, America would not participate in the League, and it had only minor success. It became divided ; Japan, italy, and Germany withdrew, and finally, it became an empty tenement. It is true that it settled some small disputes, but if. failed to settle the big issue of preventing world war. We must put forward our best efforts to make the world peace organization a success this time. I remind honorable members, however, that we l.ave another league of nations - and with due respect to his intelligence and to the part that he has played in world affairs, this is something that the Minister for External Affairs might bear in mind oftener - a practical league that stands for what is best. I refer to the British Empire. Whilst United Nations is dealing with idealistic things and matters of procedure, the British Empire has stood for practical things. It is not a ready-made organization, nor is it a creation of treaties and charters. It has evolved. It grew out of opposition to tyranny. We should remember that. Our history in this country does not begin with Captain Cook or Governor Phillip. We have inherited all those great traditions and virtues for which the British Empire has stood in its fight against tyranny, within or without. A. little nation, Britain’ fought against the tyranny of Spain, Holland, France and other great countries and won. It had right on its side. Sca rely a century ago in Dorsetshire, the “‘Tolpuddle martyrs” were imprisoned and deported because they formed a trade union in an attempt to oppose a reduction of the wages of agricultural workers from 7s. to 6s. a week. The British people fought against oppression and triumphed. The British nation has taken the lead in industrial matters, and Australia, a proud dominion, and an important star in that constellation that ir the Empire, has also been to the fore in the emancipation of the workers; yet to-day, when it comes to tyranny within this country, the Government behaves in the most craven way. In industrial matters, it stands aside for wreckers who owe no allegiance and have no gratitude for the legacy of justice, freedom, good government, and democratic BritishChristian ideals bequeathed to them. I was pleased to hear the nev. honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) in his maiden speech in this House denounce the Communists who artbringing discredit upon this nation and. must be tackled before the become too powerful. So, when we consider United Nations and the important questions that have been put before it from time to time, we must take cognizance of what has happened. We have seen our representative cross verbal swords with M. Molotov and M. Gromyko who have behaved badly. They have demanded their own way under threat of withdrawal from the organization. Although Mr. Byrnes and Mr. Bevin and our own representatives have opposed the Russian contentions strenuously from time time time, Russia has always won. Even although the Soviet is not prepared to fight, it has had many victories in the diplomatic field. We talk of treaties and of paper constitutions. As honorable members know, Russia signed a treaty with Great Britain in 1942, while the war was in progress. The treaty was in two parts, one for the war period pledging mutual aid and no separate peace, and the other for a twenty-year period after the war calling for joint action to preserve post-war peace, and for mutual aid, &c. The first part of the treaty was carried out with magnificent co-operation, but since the war ended Russia’s attitude towards the nation which made such a. magnificent contribution towards the Soviet successes on the battlefield by sending convoys through Arctic seas, opening a supply route through Persia, sending aircraft, ten divisions of tanks, and vast quantities of war material that Britain itself urgently required, has been one of ingratitude. I was in the House of Commons when the Foreign Minister, Mr. Anthony Eden, spoke of the treaty with Russia. I met him afterwards and found him hopeful and elated. He thought he had achieved something that would means two decades of peace between two mighty nations; but how has the agreement been honoured by Russia ? Article V. of the agreement speaks of establishing the principles of not seeking territorial aggrandizement for themselves and of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. How has Russia honoured that? I remind honorable members that just prior to the outbreak of war Russia signed a treaty with Germany, and then, with Germany, invaded Poland, a nation that has not been permitted to rise again. Russia has extended its boundaries in very direction since the war ended. It h:is made a hard treaty with Finland, with which the Soviet previously was at war. Ft has swallowed Lithuania, l’-‘tonia and Latvia. It has made a hard peace with Roumania and forced upon Bulgaria a form of government coinciding with its own. In Yugoslavia the Russians have established the regime of Marshal Tito - >a great soldier, but nevertheless a dictator who has carried out a reign of terror in the Balkans. Those who know the Balkans will appreciate what that means and how hard-pressed Greece is to hold its own with slender aid from Britain. Although Russia was in the war against Japan for only ten days, it has encroached upon Asiatic territory, extending for many thousands of square miles, and including millions of people. In Korea, the Russian and American armies are face to face. Russia will allow a Communist government only to be set up, and America rightly wants a democratic administration. Can it he said that Russia, is honouring its agreement with Great Britain? Are Ave to stand aside every time Russia exerts pressure in the United Nations Assembly or Security Council, or is it better that our representatives should collaborate closely with the British people who play the game? There need not be any subservience. Australia has always exercised its right, to be heard in Empire councils. At least our governments did confer, and - we were proud to have the cooperation of a powerful group of Empire nations. We forget that to-day Russia, which covers one-sixth of the world, has its own secret empire. We do not realize that in its emissaries in every country it has men ready to work as fifth columnists. For the information of honorable members, I quote the following from the report of the authority which inquired into the espionage charges against Russian agents in Canada. Igor Gouzenko, one of the Soviet representatives, gave the following evidence : - * . . L* was surprised … by the complete freedom of the individual which exists in Canada but does not exist in Russia. The false representations about the democratic countries which are increasingly propagated in Russia were dissipated daily, as no lying propaganda can stand up against facts.
The facts about the brutal suppression of the freedom of speech, the mockery of the real religious feelings of the people, cannot penetrate into the democratic countries. . . .
The Russian people cannot realize their dream of freedom and a democratic government on amount of cruel terror and persecution. . . the Soviet Government, is preparing secretly for the third world war. To meet this war, it ia creating in democratic countries, including Canada, a fifth column. To mamSoviet people here abroad, it is clear that the Communist party in democratic countries has changed long ago from a political party into an agency net of the Soviet Government, into a fifth column.
Let us remember that the conditions about which he spoke exist in Russia to-day. He was not referring to conditions in 1917. The coat of arms of the Soviet is the hammer and sickle on the world, not merely on Russia. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, whom some of us know, and whom we all admire, was recently reported as having said at the Trades Union Conference -
He declared that it was one of the tragedies of the world that the Soviet Governmeent deliberately prevented intercourse between Russia and the outside world. . Ignor ance and suspicion were being built up.
We know that west of the “ iron curtain “ that Russia has drawn across Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea’ conditions are very different from what they a.re to the east of it. I have been on both sides of the curtain, and I know what a difference there is in coming from the east to any of the democratic countries. To-day in Russia conditions are exactly the same as they were in 1938 in Germany. Newspapers and radio are heavily censored. The people are compelled to accept what news is handed to them and they have no access to information from the outside world. The speaking of soft words by the Minister for External Affairs, and pious utterances from honorable .members who support him, cannot alter facts. If the great nations of the world to-day - small ones will eventually see the light - were really democratic, if political liberty existed in Russia, .there would be no obstacle to world peace. We trust that the ideology of the Russians will come round to ours, as we hoped would be the case during the war. However, there is no .sign of it from the Russian delegates to the recent international .conferences, and no one knows that .better than does the Minister for External Affairs. Either Russia will see the light, or it will go on with its activity as in the past, and collide with the democratic nations. We do not want that to happen. We have seen two great wars which cost us many splendid lives, and the loss of much treasure. Therefore, we in this Parliament must .use our best endeavours .to find a way put. Nothing is to be .gained by Government supporters shutting their eyes to the menace. We must set up a foreign affairs committee in this Parliament, as I have advocated over and oyer again. We cannot be content with a. one-man .band in foreign relations. At the present time, Australia could not put one effective fighting squadron into the air or one battalion of troops in the field. Our principal force is in Japan. Australia is disarming, and we are relapsing into that false attitude of indifference which existed between the two wars. Some of us in 1930 predicted the outbreak of another war about 1,940. The indications were so clear. With a terroristic organization in existence, and a dictator in power, all the conditions were right for war. To-day, there is a terroristic dictatorship in power in one of the great nations of the world. Exponents of the ideology sponsored by that nation are in many- trade unions in this and other countries. There are even teachers in schools who are indoctrinating the children with this foul philosophy pf class consciousness and terror. It has its idealistic side, no doubt; but it .cannot compare for effectiveness with the tenets of democracy, which have been productive of so much good.
Just before the -outbreak of the recent war, a certain British ambassador in his despatches to Britain - copies of them were sent here also, as I happen to know - declared that there was only one nation which knew how to deal with the Japanese. That was when the Japanese were attacking British civilians, slapping their faces, and committing brutalities of the kind which later they inflicted upon prisoners of war, including the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. ‘Turnbull), and the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain). The Government of Great Britain, with its customary patience and tolerance, did not object forcibly enough. It sent notes, but it did not threaten; it turned the other cheek. But Russia treated the Japanese in a different fashion. As the British ambassador -reported, “ Russia’s policy is treat them rough ‘ That is Russia’s policy to-day. The Russians are not in a position to make war; but in the diplomatic -field they -make hacks of representatives of other nations who debate with them, because they are prepared to be tough. The -last time the Minister for External Affairs visited these shores, he put a document before us dealing with foreign, affairs, which contained one priceless .paragraph. I have quoted it before. It is in Hansard, and I quote it now from memory. In effect, this is what he .said: “I .am satisfied -from my contact with Russian statesmen that the reason for Russia’s attitude to-day is that it has fears for its security”. At that time, Russia was involved in an argument with Persia, an argument from which it has emerged very successfully. It is now stirring ,up trouble in other directions, and is making demands upon Turkey. Of whom is Russia afraid? The largest army in Europe to-day, apart from the Russian army, is that of Switzerland. Russia has occupied Austria, and will not discuss peace terms regarding that country. We know that Austria was taken .over by the Germans in March, 1938, yet, as I have said, there are still no signs of peace terms for Austria, but the Russians make the occupation of that country and of Bulgaria and Rumania an excuse f or maintaining largeforces there while they plunder the countries.
We in this Parliament have the right to tell the Minister for External Affairs what we think. It ishis dutyto consult Parliament in order to get across-section of opinion. We, too, are representatives of the people. He should find out what is the consensus of opinion among honorable members, whether it is done bysecret meeting or open debate in Parliament. I regret that I have to speak publiclyon some aspects of our foreign relations, but thereare certainthings that must be said. I am glad that the Minister for External Affairs has seen the light since thetime he said that Russia was actuated by fears for its security. His bouts with M. Molotoff and M.Gromyko seem to indicate that he has seen through them pretty thoroughly, and, if so, we will support him. Let him note the example set by the British Empire, which to-day is not expanding its boundaries as Russia is, but is giving up territory. It is giving complete freedom to India, which cannot yet govern itselfand still has to call on Great Britain for help. Great Britain also assumed a burden in Java to help the Dutch - a burden of mercy-and lost the lives of many soldiers as a result. Consider the situation in Palestine. The British have been the greatest friends of the Jews for all time. Great Britain promised in 1917, in the Balfour Declaration, that Palestine would be a national home for the Jews, but it did not promise the Jews national autonomy. That promise has been misinterpreted, and the misinterpretation has given rise to terrorism, which began with the murder of Lord Moyne in Cairo. Terrorists have taken the lives of many British people, yet the British have shown the greatest tolerance.
These are examples of British conduct that we should mention in this Parliament and contrast with the behaviour of other nations. The virtues of tolerance, justice and democratic government do not grow stale or wither. I wish that every man in the world to-day had political freedom and could vote unhampered. We have heard the utterances of Mr, Maloney and other men on that subject. They have told us that there is no political liberty in Russia, that the Russians are allowed to vote for only one political party. Governments of thatkind are dictatorial, not democratic. Thereare different definitionsof democracy in different countries, and ourconception of democracy differs from that of the Russians. The Russian form of government, according toour ideas, is terroristic, not democratic. Let our delegates attend the conferences of the United Nations and assist to make ita great power for world betterment and.world peace, but let them also face -realities and do not let them put their faith in pieces of paper. Agreements were “ scrapsof paper “ for Germany, and forRussia, too. Let us stick to the realities and build upon them. Let -us speak through the great power of the British Empire at these conferences and, if other nations try to be dictatorial let us, too, “ treat ‘em rough “.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Archie Cameron) adjourned.
Message received from the Senate intimating that the following senators had been appointed members of the Broadcasting Committee : - Senator Amour, Senator Finlay and Senator Herbert Hays.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I bring to the notice of the Government a matter which concerns an extensive irrigation area for soldier settlement at Loxton, in my electorate. According to a statement made in the South Australian Parliament last week, a decision on the planting of certain areas in this district is being held up because a determination has not been made by the Commonwealth Government. As Ministers are aware, there is an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the governments of certain States engaged in the production of dried fruits, under which limitations are imposed on plantings in different areas. The facts are that, for a very long time, the Commonwealth Government was not prepared to “ play ball “ in regard to the Loxton area. It changed its attitude only when the fact became obvious that the South Australian Government proposed to go ahead with its plans, whether the Commonwealth Government co-operates or not. Having agreed to co-operate, the Commonwealth should bear its share of the responsibility for plantings in that district. According to a statement made by the Commission for Crown Lands in the South Australian Parliament last week, a decision has not been made by the Commonwealth. I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to devote some attention to this matter and enable the South Australian Government to go ahead with the job.
I refer now to the sale of tractors, motor vehicles and other implements by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. Under our prices control system, the prices of second-hand vehicles are fixed according to their age and certain other factors. However, we have the ridiculous state of affairs under which there is no limitation whatever on the prices of such vehicles when they are sold at auction by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. Many of the commission’s sales are attended only by dealers. Therefore, they are in the position of being forced, perhaps by strong competition, to pay ridiculously high prices for material offered at auction. When they return to their own districts to re-sell the articles, the Commonwealth authorities step in and say, in effect, “ Notwithstanding the fact that you bought these goods from us at public auction, we now impose a limit upon the amounts that yon can charge for them.” There is a good old rule, “ what is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander “. I have tested it and found that goose cannot be distinguished from gander so long as a good sauce is used. That rule ought to apply to the Commonwealth. The prices limitations imposed on private dealers under the National Security Regulations should also be imposed on the Commonwealth itself. I ask the Government to examine this matter and inform the House if it decides on any change of policy. It appears from a decision which was made yesterday, I believe, that there is some loosening of the bonds of government controls. I notice that the sale of cream is no longer subject to control. That may be a good decision, but, one of two things must happen as the result of the lifting of this restriction. One is a reduction of the quantity of whole milk available in Australia; the other is a reduction of the quantity of butter available for export. To argue, as the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) did to-day, that these controls cannot be policed is to carry futility to the extreme. Many other forms of control are not being policed satisfactorily by the Government and, despite what the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) may say, the worst example of failure in this regard relates to the sale of land. In every State, the only way for a buyer to complete a land transaction at the fixed price often is to hand over a certain amount of money to the seller before he commences negotiations. I suppose that scarcely any honorable member is unaware of this practice. It is impossible for the Government to check this sort of thing. For the benefit of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). who is very wise in law - in both its manufacture and its administration - I repeat what I once heard another wise AttorneyGeneral say in the South Australian Parliament in my youthful days, namely, that he could not devise any law which could safeguard a fool from the consequences of his own folly. That utterance applies aptly to land sales.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Air Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 151.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1946 -
No. 32 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
No. 33 - Federated Ironworkers’ Association of Australia.
No. 34 - Postal Telecommunication Technicians’ Association (Australia).
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department -
Labour and National Service - C. J. F. Shaw.
Works and Housing - C. B. T. Austin, H. W. Reilly.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 153.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 127.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 144.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes -
Bundanoon, New South Wales.
Medical Research Endowment Act - Report by National Health and Medical Research Council on work done under the Act durimr 1945.
National Security Act -
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (336).
National Security (Meat Industry Control) Regulations -
Meat (No. 36).
Stock (No. 13).
National Security (Shipping Coordination) Regulations - Order - 1946, No. 43.
War Gratuity Act - Regulations - Statutory
Rules 1946, No. 154.
Wool Realization Act - Regulations - Statu tory Rules 1946. Nos. 129, 155.
House adjourned at 10.9 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
In view of police complaints concerning the conduct of United States of America negro seamen in the port of Sydney, as reported in a Sydney weekly, will he consider withholding landing permits from such seamen until the police authorities consider that conditions are normal?
– Under existing immigration policy United States of America negro seamen are not eligible for the grant of landing permits to enable them to remain permanently in Australia. There is, however, no power under the Commonwealth Immigration Act under which action can be taken to prevent the master and crew of a vessel from landing whilst their vessel is in port.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 to 4. Since October, 1941, eighteen appointments have been made to the positions of Australian Ambassador, Australian Minister Plenipotentiary, and Australian High Commissioner. Of these, six were former parliamentary members of the Labour party either in the Federal or State sphere. Messrs. Slater and Maloney were appointed as Minister to the Soviet Union and both have since relinquished their appointments; Mr. d’ Alton was High Commissioner in New Zealand and has now relinquished his appointment; Mr. Beasley is High Commissioner in the United Kingdom; Mr. Makin is Ambassador to the United States of America-. Mr. Forde will be proceeding to Canada as Australian High Commissioner. Of .the other twelve appointees, three - viz., Lieutenant-Colonel Hodgson (Paris), Mr. Officer (The Hague), and Mr. Stirling (Ottawa) - are career diplomats of the Department of External Affairs. Of the remaining nine, Professor D. G. Copland (Nanking), Mr. A. R. Cutler (Wellington). Mr. L. R. Maegregor (Rio de Janeiro), Mr. J. S. Duncan (Santiago) and Sir George Knowles (Pretoria) had prior service with the Commonwealth either as permanent or temporary civil servants. Sir Iven Mackay (New Delhi) was a member of the armed forces. Mr. S. M. Bruce (until recently High Commissioner in London and Australian Minister to the Netherlands) was a former Prime Minister of Australia. Sir Owen Dixon (for some time Australian Minister at Washington) is a Justice of the High Court of Australia. Mr. Dignam (now High Commissioner in Eire) is a member of the New South Wales bar. As regards diplomatic appointments of lesser status and consular appointments, the great majority of those made during the last five years have been from the Department of External Affairs, the remainder being either members of -the Common wealth Public Service nr officers of senior rank in the armed forces. The proportion of parliamentary appointments to Australian diplomatic missions since October, 1341. is distinctly less than was .the case before that period, when all of the fir? appointees to the Australian diplomatic missions then established had served in National party or United Australia, party Cabineteither in the Federal or State sphere and comprised Mr. S. M. Bruce, Mr. R. G. Casey. Major-General Glasgow, Sir John Latham and Sir’ Frederic Eggleston.
Film “ Indonesia Calling “.
y. - On the 8th November, the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) asked whether the film Indonesia Calling went before the Commonwealth Film Censor.
In reply, the honorable member is informed that the film was viewed in- the first place by the Chief Commonwealth Film Censor, who refused permission for its exportation. The Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations provide that the Minister may intervene at any stage. The producers of Indonesia Calling appealed -to the Minister against the decision of the Censorship Board, and the result of that appeal has already been made known to the House.
n. - On the 8th November, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) asked a question concerning the use of November petrol ration tickets during the month of December.
I now inform the honorable member that the Minister for Supply and Shipping has approved that the currency of the petrol ration tickets which would end normally on the 30th November shall be ex-tended to the 31st December. It is not possible to make a double ration available for the month of December, but those motorists who desire to do so will be allowed to draw their January ration tickets in advance for use during December. These concessions should enable motorists to have petrol available for “Christmas holiday travel.
Lake Boga Hospital.
n. - On the 8th November, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) asked the Minister for Air whether the Royal Australian Air Force Hospital at Lake Boga had been made available for disposal, and, if not, when the disposal of the hospital was to be authorized.
On behalf of the Minister for Air, I inform the honorable member that the Royal Australian Air Force hospital buildings at Lake Boga were declared recently to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission with the rest of the Royal Australian Air Force installations at that location, and the whole installation has now been sold ito the Victorian State Government. I a.-m not officially advised as to the specific purposes for which the Victorian State Government proposes to use the buildings, and must refer the honorable member to the Premier of Victoria for any information he may require on this aspect of the matter. I am conscious of the fact that there is si shortage of hospital accommodation in northern Victoria, as there is in most other parts of the Commonwealth, and it is possible that the Victorian Government may contemplate using some of the buildings for this purpose.
l. - On the 7th November, the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) asked the following question: -
At the present time, many ex-servicemen, business men and private citizens are inconvenienced because they aTe unable to obtain telephones. Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General say how many applications for telephones are outstanding in the Sydney metropolitan area? What has been done to remedy the present position, and when may the public expect an improvement?
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information : -
The number of applications for telephone services outstanding in the Sydney metropolitan area is 20,000. The department is doing its utmost to improve the position by expediting the supply of telephone materials, installing exchange equipment, laying underground telephone cables and training additional installation and line construction personnel. Unfortunately, through lack of building accommodation and the necessary skilled staff, there is unavoidable delay in bringing the equipment into service. The plans of the department to meet the situation include a considerable number of new buildings in the Sydney metropolitan area. Work has already commenced in some cases, and the installation of automatic equipment will be undertaken as soon as the buildings can be made available. It is not possible at this juncture to indicate when the arrears which have accumulated will be overtaken, although everything possible is being done to expedite the work.
Broadcasting : Dismissal bt the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– On the 7th November, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) ‘asked the following question: -
Is the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral aware that a ranking journalist employed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission has been dismissed for having used offensive words? I should like to point out that these offensive words were not written but were spoken to the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In view of the fact that the penalty imposed in the police court for offensive words ranges between £5 and £20 and this man is in receipt of a salary of approximately £900 per annum, will the Minister ask the Postmaster-General to institute an inquiry as to the justice of the sentence ?
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information : -
In connexion with the question asked on the 7th November by the honorable member for Parkes concerning the dismissal of a journalist by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Postmaster-General has been informed by the commission that, the journalist was suspended without pay because he addressed the General Manager in abusive and insulting term? in the hearing of other officers, which constituted an offence of improper conduct under the Commission’s Staff Rules, which in this respect are the same as sub-section 1 ie) of section 55 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. He was charged with the offence and informed of the prescribed time for reply in which either to admit or deny the truth of the charge and make his explanation. The matter was considered bv the commission at its meetings in Melbourne on the 16th to the 18th October, and in theabsence of a reply from the journalist concerned, he was considered to have denied the charge. The commission decided that his suspension without pay should be confirmed, and that he should be dismissed from the commission’s service as from the date of the offence - namely, the 2nd October, 1946. The journalist has been informed by the commission that he has the right of appeal to the Appeals Advisory Committee constituted under the Commission’s Staff Rules, and it is understood that he is availing himself of this right.
Potatoes : Tasmanian Contracts.
d. - On the 7th November, the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) asked me a question about potato contracts in Tasmania.
The Potato Controller informs me that about 5,800 applications for contracts were sent to growers, and 5,447 have been filled in and returned. Of these, 26 had amendments inserted by the growers. Out of approximately 400 not returned, 200 growers are not expected to apply for contracts because of inability to plant. The contract price is identical with that of last year, and the applications for contracts are over-subscribed, by 10,000 acres. Some opposition to the terms of the contract has been shown by a small number of growers, but growers generally recognize them as fair, and are in fact anxious to retain the marketing system established during the war.
– On the 7th November, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked a question relating to tuberculosis.
The Minister for Health and Social Services has supplied the following additional information : -
The Commonwealth Government, as a result of conferences with the States, passed the Tuberculosis Act1945 which made available £100.000 per annum to the States on a £1 for £1 basis for the provision of diagnostic clinics and after-rare facilities. By the Tuberculosis Act1946, the Commonwealth Government has made available the sum of £250,000 per annum to the States for the benefit of tuberculosis sufferers and their dependants, allocated as follows: -
In some States there are numerous hospital beds unoccupiedbecause of lack of staff. Until nurses and other domestic staff can be found to take up duty in these hospitals, it will be impossible to adequately provide for the care of sufferers needing urgent attention. It is proposed to place the question of tuberculosis on the agenda for the next conference of Health Ministers.
Shortage of Nurses.
y. - On the 8th November, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) asked whether assistance should be given State governments in their efforts to encourage recruitment to the nursing profession, and whether a committee of enquiry should be appointed to ascertain why insufficient recruits are entering the profession.
The Minister for Health has supplied the following information: -
The need for stimulating recruitment of nurses by bettering conditions has been recognized in Great Britain and by authorities controlling these conditions in a number of Australian States. The reasons why recruits are not entering the nursing profession were a subject of discussion at the last Conference of Ministers for Health of the Commonwealth and States on6th May, 1946: and it will be arranged that an inquiry into this matter will take place during the meeting of a committee of officers from each State and the Commonwealth which the Conference resolved should be appointed to discuss the future of National Medical Services.
y. - On the 7th November, the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy) asked a question concerning expectant mothers who lose hospital benefits because they are obliged to enter non-approved private hospitals due to the shortage of accommodation in maternity hospitals.
The Minister for Health has supplied the following information : -
Hospital benefits of 6s. per day are not payable in respect of patients in private hospitals which are not approved private hospitals. All maternity hospitals which are registered private hospitals are eligible for approval for the purposes of hospital benefits. It is necessary for the proprietor of each private hospital to apply for approval. The following statement indicates the position in regard to approved private hospitals and non-approved private hospitals in each State and the Australian Capital Territory as at 31st October, 1946:-
In many instances hospital benefits are being denied to patients because proprietors have failed to make application for their hospitals rn be approved, relying on the acute shortage nf hospital accommodation forcing patients to inter non-approved private hospitals. In the light of the wider constitutional powers granted at the recent referendum the Government will review the position of private hospitals which have refrained from seeking approval under the Hospital Benefits (Private Hospitals) Regulations.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 November 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19461113_reps_18_189/>.