8 November 1935

14th Parliament · 1st Session

The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.

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Returned Soldier Mechanics - Ned lands Telephone Exchange - Seizure of Wireless Sets.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– On the 31st October, Senator Arkins asked the Postmaster-General the following questions, upon notice: -

  1. Is it a fact that the Public Service Act was amended in 1934 to allow the Government to be in a position to permanently employ those returned soldiers who bad qualified by examination for positions as mechanics, &c, but who could not pass the necessary medical tests owing to disabilities caused by war?
  2. If so, will the Minister state whether any of the men affected by this legislation have been accepted as permanent public servants since the amending of the act?
  3. Were there any telephone mechanics among those accepted, and if so, how many?
  4. In view of the ministerial statement as recorded in Hansard on 20th September, 1935, regarding the poor outlook for the recruiting of mechanics and postmen from outside the Service, will he indicate whether it is still the intention of the Government to engage the returned soldier mechanics affected as above, and when?

I am now in a position to furnish the honorable senator with the following reply to his inquiries : -

  1. Yes..
  2. Thirteen have been appointed.
  3. The staffing situation generally is such as to preclude immediate consideration of any appointments from outside the Service to positions of mechanic and no indication can he given when it will be possible to give favorable consideration to applications.

asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -

  1. Is it the intention of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to build a telephone exchange at the corner of Stanley and Elizabeth streets,Nedlands, Western Australia?
  2. Is this site within a strictly residential area, under the Town Planning Act of Western Australia ?
  3. Has the Nedlands Roads Board objected to the proposed contravention of the town planning regulations in this matter?
  4. Ifso, will the Postmaster-General’s Department conform to the said regulation.
  5. If not, why not?
Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. TheNedlandsRoad Board represented that the building should be in the business portion of the Nedlands area, but alternatively asked that the front of the building should be in keeping with the houses around. 4 and5. The objection raised was based on a misconception of the department’s intention. A telephone exchange, for technical and economic reasons, must be in the telephonic centre of the area to be served, but the class of building erected for telephone purposes in residential areas conforms with the type of building inthe neighbourhood and is no detriment to surrounding property.
Senator BROWN:

asked the PostmasterGeneral,upon notice -

  1. How many wireless sets have beenseized by officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department (or others) for non-payment of wireless licence-fees ?
  2. How many of such sets have been kept by the department, and how many returned to the owners?
Senator McLACHLAN:

– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -

  1. Since the inception of broadcasting in 1923, 29 wireless receivers have been seized from unlicensed listeners.
  2. Seven have been retained by the department and 22 returned to the owners.

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Senator BROWN:

– Can the Loader of the Senate say if there is any truth in the rumour that the Government proposes to ask Mr. William Morris Hughes to rejoin the Cabinet?


– The Government is not responsible for the rumour, and does not propose to take any notice of it.

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Senator BROWN:

asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Hare any communications been received by the Australian Government from the Italian Government concerning the application of “sanctions” against Italy?
  2. If so, will the Government lay copy or copies of such communications on the table of the Senate?

– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -

  1. No.
  2. See answer to 1.

page 1426


The following paper was presented : -

Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended Statutory Rules 1935, No.96.

page 1426


Bill received from the House of Representatives.

Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -

Thatso much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages without delay.

Question put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch.)

AYES: 20


Majority . . 17



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.

Bill (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.


Minister for Ex ternal Affairs · Western Australia · UAP

[11.13].- I move-

That the bill be now reada second time.

The bill is to enable the Commonwealth Government, as an original member of the League of Nations, to fulfil the obligations undertaken by it in terms of article XVI. of the Covenant of the League, and is in accordance with the Government’s declared policy of maintaining the principles of the League. No more clear-cut issue has ever been presented to this Parliament or the people of Australia. This bill represents the contribution of Australia towards the collective action of 50 nations, who have solemnly renounced war as an instrument of national policy, and, in addition, have agreed to combine in order to restrain aggression on the part of a powerful nation in the furtherance of a declared policy of colonial expansion at the expense of a weak and defenceless League member.

Whatever the views of honorable senators may be as to the consequences or the probable effectiveness of the action now being taken, I feel that we all can start from the one firm opinion, that the oversetting by force of international obligations or the unresisted aggression by great powers against small and weak States, can never be in the true interests of lasting peace, and can only endanger the security of every nation.

With the full knowledge of all the circumstances and facts relating to the dis pute, and of the unremitting efforts made both inside and outside the framework of the League to settle it by peaceful means, with complete documentary evidence, and after both parties had presented their cases, the Council found unanimously, on the 7th October, that Italy had violated its solemn undertaking under article XII. in resorting to war within three months of the report of the Council of the League upon the dispute. It is of interest to note the thirteen members of the Council which reached this opinion. They are Great Britain, France, Russia, Argentina, Australia, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, Poland, Portugal,Roumania, Spain, and Turkey.

I refer honorable senators to the unequivocal language of article XVI. which commences with the words “ Should any State resort to war “. Who is to decide whether a State has committed an act of war? The article docs not assist, and. consequently, at the meetings of the Assembly in 1921 and 1924, various rules and interpretative decisions were adopted to enable the article tobe operated in a practical manner if ever the need arose, without overriding the sovereignty of individual State members, and ensuring that action was simultaneous and truly collective, and not individual and arbitrary. In this respect, the League recognized that there was just as great a danger in a powerful State deciding by itself that there had been a breach of the Covenant and taking individual action against an alleged offender, as in a ease of unprovoked aggression.

In accordance with the procedure of the League, the report of the Council on the dispute, the opinion that Italy was an aggressor, and the minutes of the meeting relating to this decision, were referred to all State members on the 9th October at the General Assembly meeting of 1935. which had been adjourned from September. The President explained the circumstances in which the matter came before the Assembly, and stated that members were thus afforded the opportunity to define their attitude. What was involved was not a vote of the Assembly but the acquiescence of each member individually. He therefore called on those who were opposed to the opinion expressed by the Council, or wished to abstain, to state their position, and said that he- would interpret the silence of all other delegations to indicate that their governments concurred in the opinion already expressed by the Council. This was the most vital moment in the history of the League, for the degree of solidarity and support for the principles of the Covenant would indicate whether individual members had the loyalty and determination to make the League a living and effective reality in the interests of humanity and world peace, or whether it was impotent in the face of a crisis which threatened the overthrow of the whole system of collective security so laboriously built up during the last fifteen years. The response was an overwhelming support of the Covenant and concurrence in the opinion of the Council, as only three States - Austria, Hungary and Albania - out of 54 represented at the Assembly, said they were not able to associate themselves with the conclusions reached by other members of the League. Even they did not, and could not, maintain that Italy had not committed a breach of the Covenant, but said that on account of their alliances, close political connexion, and economic interdependence with Italy, any participation in the measures under article 16 would place them in a particularly difficult and delicate position, and threaten their national existence. I refer honorable senators to the report of these proceedings of the Assembly on the 9th and 10th October, which I have had placed on the table of the Library, and particularly to those portions giving the observations of the delegates of the small and weak ‘States, whose relief that the principles of the Covenant had been vindicated was most evident. I also emphasize the fact that the lead was given to .all the members by the momentous words of the British Foreign Secretary of State, Sir Samuel Hoare, before the Assembly on the 11th September -

In conformity with its precise and explicit obligations the League stands, and my country stands with it, for the collective maintenance of the Covenant in its .entirety, and particularly for the steady and collective, resistance to all acts of aggression. - had been endorsed by the resolve of the member States to honour their obligation. Australia stands firmly for the maintenance of this attitude, for on it depends the only hope of setting world peace on an enduring foundation.

The League has two main tasks - first, to avert war by the just and peaceful settlement of disputes, and, secondly, if this fails, to prevent its extension and scop it in the shortest possible time. It is now engaged on the second objective, and it is in furtherance of this that the Assembly set up the Co-ordination Committee consisting of all the members of the League except the parties to the dispute, to co-ordinate the measures that States might contemplate in discharge of their obligations under article 16 of the Covenant. The Sanctions Co-ordination Committee is not an instrument of the Council or of the Assembly, but is, in substance, a conference of League members to assist them in carrying out their obligations under article 16. Its decisions are, in a sense, recommendations to governments, and therefore the rules as to unanimity do not apply. This Committee has adopted five proposals for consideration by the governments of State members. I shall deal with them later on, but at the moment I emphasize that not only has the Commonwealth Government. along with His Majesty’s Governments in the United Kingdom and all the other dominions, accepted these proposals, but also the whole strength of the League is now behind them. Over 50 States have signified their adherence, and this constitutes the most effective answer to any criticism that has been raised that League collective action was not likely to be effective, as few nations would participate. This criticism went further, and held that, owing to certain powerful nations being outside the League, the action of- State members inenforcing sanctions against Italy would not only be innocuous, but also so dangerous as to lead to a general conflagration.

Let us examine the position of the main powers outside the League - the United States of America, Japan, and Germany. The United States is determined *o avoid the entanglements of another European conflict, and has declared in favour of a policy of strict neutrality in the present dispute. That declaration it implemented by the recent Neutrality Act. At the same time, the United States, as the sponsor of the Kellogg Pact for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy, has affirmed its responsibility before the world for the promotion of peace and the support of international morality. President Roosevelt made the statement on the Neutrality Act that it was also the policy of the United States Government to co-operate with other nations to promote peace. Clear indications have been given that the sympathy of the United States is on the side of the League in its efforts to restrain an aggressor, and I quote from a letter which was sent on the 26th October by the Secretary of State of the United States to the President of the Co-ordination Committee : -

Realizing that war adversely affects every country, that it may seriously endanger the economic welfare of each and cause untold human misery and even threatens the existence of civilization, the United States, in keeping with the letter and spirit of the Pact of Paris and other peace obligations, undertakes at all times not only to exercise its moral influence in favour of peace throughout the world, but to contribute in every possible way within the limitations of our foreign policy to that end. It views with sympathetic interest the individual or concerted efforts of other nations to preserve peace or to localize and shorten the duration of war.

Without departing from the principle of neutrality, there could be no clearer indication than is contained in those last words as to where the sympathies of the United States are in this dispute. Moreover, the Neutrality Act, by its very nature, operates one-sidedly and wholly against Italy, as it prohibits the export or transportation of arms, ammunition, and implements of war to belligerent countries, and restricts travel by American citizens on belligerent ships during war. Herr Hitler has declared that Germany has no intention of interfering in the present dispute. The foreign policies of Germany and Italy in regard to the future of Austria are so divergent that it cannot be conceived that Germany would pursue any policy which would strengthen or tend to aid Italy. Germany has given no indication that it is prepared to upset the equilibrium of Europe at the present juncture, or jeopardize the friendly relationship established with Great Britain. Japan has a large and increasing export market in Abyssinia, and should this country lose its independence and become the colonial territory of a European power, this market would be largely lost to Japan. Its spokesmen have declared that the policy of Japan is to preserve the stability of Asia, and to champion the coloured races against acts of Western aggression. Clearly then, not only the sympathy, but also the interest of Japan lie in the maintenance of the territorial integrity and independence of Abyssinia, and the policy of Japan would not be such as to jeopardize or nullify the action of League members to restrain Italy. We have then a display of collective solidarity and determination within the League, and a general world sympathy outside it which encourages every effort to make an end to the risks and horrors of war.

It is of little value now to recall past history and raise doubts as to the efficacy of League methods. We still hear criticisms in connexion with the Gran Chaco and Manchurian disputes. As to the former, I remind honorable senators that that dispute had persisted for half a century. Each of the belligerents, Bolivia and Paraguay, was convinced that its own cause was right and just; both were actuated by a deepseated national resentment, and both were determined to fight. No League orany other human organization could have prevented such a conflict, but it was largely due to the intervention of the League that hostilities were terminated, and. arrangements made for a stable and lasting peace. This fact also is worth noting: Both these countries came out whole-heartedly in support of the League in the present dispute, and the following words of the Bolivian delegate at the League meeting on the 11th October are of particular significance to all countries far from Geneva, for they received general endorsement : -

The principle of universality of the League ot Nations will emerge fully consolidated, and that kind of indifference which certain European countries have shown towards overseas problems which do not immediately affect their own interests will be destroyed.

Blame was also attributed to the League on account of the actions of Japan in Manchuria. I do not propose to debate that subject or justify the action of Japan, except to say that Japan had special interests and territory there by virtue of treaty rights which it claimed were being violated by China. Japan claimed that Manchuria was never an integral part of China, and that its action was purely in defence of vital national interests. Be that as it may, the report condemning the action taken by Japan was adopted unanimously, and the moral censure therein conveyed has been implemented by the refusal of all the members of the League to recognize the independence of Manchukuo. This non-recognition still obtains. No one will deny that the League has had failures; but it has also had many striking successes. I need only mention the efficacy of League methods in the recent dispute between Yugoslavia and Hungary over the assassination of King Alexander at Marseilles; the arrangements for the Saar plebiscite and the transfer of the Saar to Germany; and the 47 judgments and opinions of the Permanent Court of International Justice, which have disposed of various international disputes. These are in addition to social and humanitarian activities in which the League is engaged. All these highly important and essential activities require some authoritative central machinery to ensure the smooth and effective co-operation of the nations of the world, and I can conceive of no organization other than the League capable of carrying out matters so essential to the maintenance of international peace and goodwill.

I turn now to the contents of the bill, which implements Proposals II., III. and IV. of the Co-ordination Committee. Proposal I. which relates to the prohibition of arms and munitions of war to Italy, has already been put into operation by State Members. The Commonwealth Government accepted this proposal, and put it into effect by virtue of its power under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations of 1935.

Proposal II. relates to financial sanctions. The measures to give effect to it are set out in clause 4. The intention of the clause is to prohibit the payment of money destined for Italy or Italian interests, except by licence granted by the authorized officer under the act. Honorable senators will note that no action will be taken to prohibit payments for humanitarian or religious purposes.

Proposal III. relates to the prohibition of imports from Italy or Italian colonies. In my opinion, this will be the most effective of all the sanctions, as it will not only rapidly deprive Italy of financial resources abroad, but it will also cause loss of markets which are likely to prove permanent in these days of intensive competition for markets. Moreover, Italy cannot well dump surplus products in the countries of non-participating States, as they have a limited absorptive capacity, and their own nationals and vested interests will demand protection.

Proposal IV. relates to the prohibition of the export to Italy of certain raw materials, such as rubber, metals of all description, and other items regarded as munitions of war. This proposal is regarded as an extension of Proposal I.

Proposals III. and IV. are implemented by clause 6 of the bill, which prohibits the importation or exportation of any goods specified in the regulations.

Proposal V. does not come within the ambit of this bill. Certain members of the League, by virtue either of their exceptional situation as close neighbours of Italy, or of the distinctive character of their trade relations with Italy, are likely to suffer undue loss and embarrassment. Paragraph 3 of article 16 relates to mutual assistance, and Proposal V. is designed to alleviate the position of such States. It is important to note that by resolution 9 of 1921, where it can be done without prejudicing” the effective application of the economic sanctions, certain States may receive permission to postpone action in special cases, such as losses or embarrassments. This is in accordance with the underlying principle that, as the action must be collective, the responsibility must be a joint one, and the burden shared by all.

Last night the following communication was received from the League: -

Proposal IVa.

In the execution of the mission entrusted to it under the last paragraph of Proposal IV. the Committee of Eighteen submits to governments the following proposal.

It is expedient that the measures of embargo provided for in Proposal IV. should be extended to the following articles as soon as the conditions necessary to render this extension effective have been realized: -

Petroleum and its derivatives, by-products and residues.

Pig iron, iron and steel (including alloy steels), cast, forged, rolled, drawn, stamped or pressed.

Coal (including anthracite and lignite), coke and their agglomerates, as well as fuels derived therefrom.

If the replies received by the committee to the present proposal and the information at its disposal warrant it, the Committee of Eighteen will propose to governments a date for bringing into force the measures mentioned above.

When these proposals have been adopted by the Government they can be brought into force by regulations under this legislation.

These sanctions represent nothing more than organized pressure or persuasion to induce Italy to return to the path of peace, and to its allegiance to the Covenant. It has been reiterated again and again that this is not an individual dispute between Italy and any particular State, but a dispute between Italy and all the members of the League, including Australia. Further, the United Kingdom Government has announced that there is no intention to impose military sanctions, as it is only intended to impose such sanctions as arc acceptable, practicable and likely to be effective. Moreover, the whole intention of article 16 lies on the side of economic, and not military sanctions. The Council, Coordination Committee, or any other instrumentality of the League, cannot commit any member to a policy of military sanctions; the most that the Council can do, and then only in the most extreme ease, which is not contemplated in this dispute, is to make a recommendation to State Members.

What risk there is of war, and let us frankly state it, is for Italy to be so foolish as to attack one of the 50 members of the League imposing sanctions, in which event all the others are pledged to give mutual support and assistance. Now that Great Britain and France have reached whole-hearted agreement on this point, and particularly in regard to naval co-operation, it is beyond the bounds of reason that Italy would jeopardize its very existence as a nation by so desperate a gamble. Does the Labour party in Australia justify its policy of nonparticipation and non-co-operation and is it prepared to repudiate everything Labour has stood for in the field of international affairs, because of a fear of this risk? Its action has caused wide amazement, for in no other country in the world has Labour repudiated its obligations for the maintenance of the collective system and the enforcement of economic sanctions against a declared aggressor. In this respect Communists, Socialists and Labour nationalists of various kinds are united on common ground.

Let me refer honorable senators to the resolution of the Trade Union Congress at Margate, England, in September last, which was passed by the immense majority of 2,785,000 - reputed to be the largest majority on a Labour resolution in England- the voting being 2,962,000 votes to 177,000-

The declaration averred that an Italian war of conquest in Abyssinia would be a violation of the sanctity of international treaties and that such violation of treaties was destructive of the foundations of civilization. The resolution called upon the British Government, in co-operation with other nations in the League, to use all measures provided by the Covenant to prevent Italy’s “unjust and rapacious attack upon the territory of a fellow member of the League”. It pledged the firm support of the Congress “ to any action consistent with the treaties and statutes of the League “ to restrain Italy and uphold the authority of the League in enforcing peace.

One of the foremost Labour writers in England, Mr. Herbert Morrison, in an article which appeared in the September issue of Forward, declared that, “ if the Labour party were in power, they could not evade the issues without bringing discredit on themselves.” He continued -

We have made so many declarations for the League, for the collective peace system, for the restraint of the aggressor who will not go to arbitration. If we funk the practical issue we shall lead public opinion to feel that we are mere talkers who fear to implement our talk: that we have been engaged in political humbug; that we are men whose hands tremble when the hour to act arrives (hardly the kind of people to transform capitalism into Socialism).

I desire also to refer to the historic occasion in the New Zealand Parliament on the 23rd October last, when the Sanctions Bill was passed unanimously by both Houses. The Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Savage, in outlining the policy of Labour said -

Let mc say right away that Labour’s passion for peace makes it necessary for us to support the collective action of the League of Nations. The best way to uphold the principles of universal peace is for the nations of the world to combine in stopping supplies to the aggressor.

Let us suppose that other nations accepted the policy of non-participation in the present crisis. What could be the consequences of such a policy? They are self-evident. Italy would achieve its object without hindrance. The inaction of the League would bo an incitement to powerful nations to embark on a policy of expansion at the expense of small States. It would lead to the enthronement of the doctrine that might is right; an era of perpetual fear would bc ushered in, causing the world to sink into international anarchy. Nations would be faced with the necessity to maintain a crushing burden of armaments, and the inevitable result would be war on a large scale. And another world war at the present time would mean the end of western civilization. That may seem a gloomy picture; hut what possible alternative would there be if the policy referred to were generally adopted ?

The Government is firmly convinced that the only true path to peace lies along the lines of honouring obligations, justice to all nations, and a determination to maintain the authority of the League in international affairs. The Government is convinced that in this policy it has the support of an overwhelming body of public opinion throughout Australia.

It is widely recognized that we have come to a turning point in the history of the world. The League has given a real incentive and stimulus to peace, both by its solidarity and by its determination to make a supreme effort to put an end to the scourge of the world. We believe that the adoption of the principle of collective security, with action for its enforcement from the 38th November by 50 nations, and, so far as Australia is concerned, by enforcement along the lines proposed in this bill, constitutes the only hope for peace and security and the future well-being and happiness, not only of British peoples, but also of all mankind. -Therefore, I commend the bill to honorable senators.


– The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has sought to clarify the Government’s policy in regard to sanctions. He has the advantage of the fact that since the Government declared its intentions in this connexion, the bill has been debated in the House of Representatives and he has been able to make a general survey of the situation, and ascertain the attitude of the Australian Labour party. I assure him that, in spite of the points that he emphasized in his speech, and of the light-hearted manner in which he looked round to secure the smiling approval of his associates, when he believed that he had scored, he did not deceive the Opposition. We knew exactly what he intended to say, because his speech contained statements of the kind that every leader of every government on the brink of war makes to the people and the Parliament to deceive them, into being parties to the machinations of those who prefer war abroad rather than to meet trouble at home. I hope that the Leader of the Senate was not surprised or displeased, because Ave took exception this morning to his motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. I assure him that, so far from assisting in the passage of this bill, we shall do everything permitted by the Standing Orders to prevent it from becoming law. While we realize our inability finally to prevent the measure from being passed by the Senate, we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that we have done our duty, just as, I believe, the Leader of the Senate considers that he has done his duty this morning. In the decision to support the League in the application of sanctions against Italy, the Parliament has not been consulted. Discussions took place behind closed doors, and afterwards, the Australian delegate at Geneva (Mr. Bruce) was instructed in the course that he should take. I repeat, the sanctions have been agreed upon without the elected representatives of this democracy having been consulted. Finally this morning this bill is brought before the Senate by the Government which knows perfectly well that it has the numbers to enable it to proceed with, and give effect to, its proposals.

Senator Dein:

– Australia has supported the League for fifteen years.


– That does not take from us,, as an Opposition, the right to oppose the measure. The Leader of the Senate commenced his speech with a statement that the issue is clear-cut. He is aware that it is not clear-cut, and that in the House of Representatives members of the party to which be belongs are divided in their opinion on this matter. It is useless for him to say that it is not our concern to inquire whither the sanctions may lead. That is just what wo are concerned with. Does the Government regard us as such blind fools, that it expects us to agree to something this morning without taking cognizance of where it may lead us to-morrow morning ? When Senator Pearce says that the issue is clear-cut, I contradict him; and the difference of opinion among government supporters proves that I am correct. The very fact that certain States have refused to introduce similar legislation on the ground that their national existence would be threatened shows that members of the League have the right to decline to participate in the application of sanctions. Therefore, the Leader of the Senate cannot deny to this Parliament the right to refuse, if it pleases, to have anything to do with the sanctions. But, as I have said, he has the numbers to ensure the passage of the measure. The Leader of the Senate tried to persuade honorable senators to accept the measure, knowing full well that so far as the Labour party is concerned persuasion is futile, and so far as his own supporters are concerned, it is unnecessary. He urged that the highest altruistic motives should receive consideration, and he made a fervent appeal for resistance to all acts of aggression. Yet he knows that there never was a time in the history of the world when all nations were arming for war so feverishly as they are to-day. What does the honorable senator mean by “resistance to all acts of aggression?” Every great power is now feverishly arming, the manufacturers of arma ments are working overtime, and the Government proposes that to the small extent to which Australia is involved in this dispute, we, too, shall work overtime to prepare for the next war. All nations instead of resisting acts of aggression, are anxious to deliver the first blow, so that their act of aggression shall be the most successful. According to the Leader of the Senate, the whole strength of the League is behind the policy of sanctions; yet Italy is marching on, and is accomplishing its object; the wholesale murder of Abyssinian women and children is taking place by the use of poison gas and other horrors of war. When the Leader of the Senate asks us to accept his pious assurances, does he think that we have forgotten our experience and our knowledge of the history of the world, ancient and modern? If the League were an effective instrument to restrain Italy’s aggression, it should have been in operation many months ago. The Leader of the Government concluded his speech with a pathetic appeal to the Labour party to remember that, by reason of its attitude on this matter, it is isolated. I arn one who believes that we can never go wrong by doing right, and that it is better to stand alone in doing what one believes to be right than to be in company with a whole army of people doing what one knows to be wrong. The Leader of the Senate quoted the opinion of Mr. Morrison, one of the leaders of the British Labour party, that Labour could not evade this issue. His admiration for the writer and for the decision which the British Labour party reached was obvious. But he did not tell this chamber that the gentlemen who constitute the British Government - exactly the same type of government as that of which Senator Pearce is so distinguished a member - is not giving the Labour party any credit for its attitude. Instead, it lias sprung the elections in Great Britain in order to make the same old fervent patriotic appeal to the people, who have had no chance of learning the true facts. Its action is dictated by political considerations, in order that Labour may be “ dished “ at the polls. The Leader of the Senate asks us to believe that he -is proud of Mr. Morrison, and of the declarations made by the British Labour conference at Margate, while his prototype in the United Kingdom, Mr. Stanley Baldwin, is doing everything in his power to encompass the defeat of the Labour party, in spite of its declaration of support for the League.

The defence policy of the Australian Labour party is definitely set out in its printed platform.

Senator Dein:

– It is a very mysterious policy.


– There is nothing mysterious about it. It is printed and circulated all over Australia in season and out of season, and is available at any time to anybody who desires to obtain a copy. Labour’s defence policy may be summarized as -

Adequate home defence against possible foreign aggression.

No raising of forces for service outside of the Commonwealth or participation or promise of participation in any future overseas war except by the decision of the people.

There is nothing mysterious about that policy, and the Opposition abides by it. We also have a policy regarding the present Abyssinian crisis. It was agreed to unanimously by the caucus of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party, and I communicated it to the Senate on a previous occasion. I repeat now the concluding paragraph of that declaration -

The attitude of the Australian Labour party is clear and unequivocal. It wants no war on foreign fields foreconomic treasure. It wants Australia to be kept free of entanglements loading to a repetition of the horrors of1914-18. Therefore, the Australian Labour party, for whichI speak to-day says nonparticipation.

I desire to quote an extract from the Courier-Mail, a very respectable journal published in Brisbane. It is neither communistic nor pro-Labour in its sympathies, but is the principal organ in Queensland supporting the present Commonwealth Government. In regard to sanctions it says -

The Federal Government has notified the High Commissioner that Australia is wholeheartedly behind Britain in her efforts to maintain peace between Italy and Abyssinia. “Well, that is all right. “ Weare wholeheartedly in favour of peace. But we hope that when Mr. Bruce goes to Geneva next week he will listen hard and speak very softly indeed. Or, preferably, not speak atall.

This war thatis looming in Africa is no business of ours. We may have our opinions about it, but it will be well to keep them to ourselves. We have just about as much as we can do to hold on to this unpopulated country in a land-hungry world. We cannot afford the luxury of making enemies anywhere.

Senator Brennan:

– Is that quotation from an editorial?


– It is the expressed opinion of the Courier-Mail. The Labour party says definitely and unequivocally that, when the mad dogs of Europe are barking “ Empire,” there is no occasion for Australia to enter the kennel. Our duty is to stay out of foreign wars at all times, and in any circumstance. We’ have found one participation too much. The Australian Labour party is opposed to sanctions, because it is opposed to war. The Labour party saw more immediately and more clearly than any other party that sanctions mean war. We declare that sanctions mean war; they must inevitably do so if they are to be of any value, or mean anything more than mere subterfuge, childish in the extreme and conspicuously dishonest. In this view we are supported by a great number of authorities on international law, some of whom I intend to quote.

In the London Times of December, 1927, Mr. Baldwin quoted article16 which the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) dealt with at such length in the House of Representatives when moving the second reading of the bill, and referred particularly to the contribution, by members of the League, of military and other forces to protect its covenants “ How “, he asked, “ can we honour this undertaking without armed forces?” “Clearly we could not do so”, was his answer to his own question. That statement was a definite admission of the obligation, in certain circumstances, to take military action if article 16 is to operate. Nevertheless, the Leader of the Senate would have us ignore what may be involved by the imposition of sanctions ! What sanctions really mean can be judged from the published opinions of many competent authorities. Mr. Baldwin, speaking in the House of Commons on the 7th February, 1934, said -

An economic sanction is very difficult to bring into effect without blockade. Blockade is an act of war, and every country which you blockade, unless it is absolutely impotent, will fight against it.

Yet. it is suggested that honorable senators on this side must not distinguish between’ cause and effect. Sir John latham, the new Chief Justice, is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 22nd October, as having said -

The prohibition of economic ami other intercourse must involve, iu many cases if it is to be effective, the establishment of a blockade. Accordingly it’ must be realized that when it is proposal that tha provisions of article Ki should be put into operation, the decision which a government has to take is just the same decision as it Iia.) to take when the question ii one of a declaration of war. The responsibility is thu same in oau case as in thu other.

Honorable senators are this morning being asked to acquiesce in a policy which virtually means a declaration of war. If. with a knowledge of what the last war meant to Australia in the sacrifice of its manhood, government supporters are willing to plunge this country into another bloody holocaust, then all I can say is that the responsibility will rest upon t.hem. Our hands, at least, will be clean. Sir Stafford Cripps is reported in the Labor Daily of the 23rd October, as having said - [I. is useless to imagine that economic sanctions may not also entail military sanctions, ami the latter may - if ever the necessity for their imposition arises - entail a first class European war.

Senator Dein:

– They “may” entail war.


– Of courseThat is what I am saying. We, on this side, are afraid of that possibility. We definitely fear what may happen between Australia and Italy if we pass this bill. We do not wish to see Australia’s sons sent again to the shambles at the dictation of aged politicians who know they ars perfectly safe because they will not hi: called upon !:o fight. The Christian Science Monitor, an extract from which appears in the Labor Daily of the 26rh October, states -

Sanctions brood sanctions. Britain a.; League policeman, might begin by barring essential Italian imports from British sources That would moan barring the ex;t: of the banned commodities from British ports. But italy would bc able to obtain thom just the same. In such circumstances, sanctions would lead by stages to a direct blockade. The policeman would have to leave his own ports for the Italian ports in order to see that the pressure worked.

Mr. Baldwin is thus reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 26th October -

The most severe sanctions would lead inevitably to a blockade which would affect nonmembers of the League.

In the House of Commons on the 22nd October, 1935, the Foreign Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare, speaking with regard to military sanctions, said that the necessary preconditions of collective agreement had never existed, and that they had not been discussed at Geneva. Therefore - I call attention to these words - they formed no part of British policy. Two weeks later in an editorial the Sydney Morning Herald questioned that the “ effectiveness” of the sanctions could be deemed satisfactory. It stated that Viscount Cecil and others in England were despairing of the effectiveness of half-measures and believed that if Mussolini should persist in his challenge to the League there waa no alternative but for Britain to press Geneva to impose military sanctions in the near future.

Despite all the information that is available to him as to the real meaning of sanctions. Senator Dein has had it “ put all over him “ this morning by the Leader of the Senate, who has endeavoured to persuade us that sanctions do not, mean war. Evidently, Senator Dein comforts himself with the thought that they “may” lead to war. Lora Robert Cecil, one of the League’s most fervent supporters, explaining article 16, said-

In addition to the blockade, which is an automatic obligation of all members of the League, the Council shall consider and shall recommend to the several governments concerned what effective military, naval, or air force members of the League shall severally contribute to the armed forces to be used to protect the Covenant.

Senator Sir George Pearce:

– That would be after the imposition of military sanctions.


– I know all about that. My concern now is that the Government is taking this first step deliberately in the full knowledge that, if it is not effective, military sanctions will be imposed, and that course will inevitably lead to war. Mr. Baldwin, referring to the view expressed by Lord Robert Cecil, said, as reported in the

Sydney Morning Herald of the 26th October, 1935-

I will not agree to Britain entering a : blockade unless I know the attitude of the United States of America.

Senator Brennan:

– That does not appear to support the honorable senator’s argument.


– I shall have Something to say about the attitude of the United States of America before I resume my seat. If Lord Cecil’s contention is correct, then Mr. Baldwin intends to flout the League, and Britain will decide for itself whether or not it will carry out its obligations to the League. Professor Charteris, the professor of international law in the University of Sydney, said -

From economic sanctions to police sanctions, the step is short and it may be very steep. If the step is taken and the covenant-breaker resists, then you are plumped into war - plumped into war, remember at the call of the covenant-breaker. It is, therefore, completely misleading to say that economic sanctions, under article Ki, are not an act of war. If they are not an act of war, they are not due fulfilment of the duties imposed “by article 10.

Tn other words, Professor Charteris agrees with what I have been saying, namely, that unless economic sanctions are a childish futility, and, therefore, a dishonest attempt to check an aggressor nation, they must inevitably lead to war.

Mr. R. B. Bennett, a former Prime Minister of Canada, is reported in the Lalor Daily of the 28th October, 1935, as having said -

In world politics Canada should he secure, for she has no ambitions which pence cannot gratify. We will not be embroiled in any foreign quarrel where the rights of Canadians are not involved.

Yet, according to the Leader of the Senate, Labour members of this chamber ought to be ashamed of themselves if they do not support the policy of this Government. We do not intend to support it, because we believe that it will embroil this country in war. It would seem that the ex-Prime Minister of Canada may without impunity express views for endorsing which we stand condemned in the eyes of the Government and its supporters. Mr. George Soule, writing in The New Republic, an American publication, stated -

Economic and technical factors themselves have made the most powerful arms virtually inaccessible to the downtrodden. Far more important, however, is the difficulty of drawing the line around munitions. How arc we to differentiate between the bale of cotton destined for a gingham dress and that which will make a khaki suit or a charge of nitrocellulose? Can we distinguish the bushel of wheat for the army commissariat from that, for the workers’ bread?

Mr. J. L. Garvin, writing in The Observer, London, a conservative journal., said -

Are we to promote the general war because we cannot stop” the smaller? To enforce thu Covenant would turn’ the whole world into a. witches’ cauldron.

The Round Table, London, in a recent issue, expressed this opinion -

Sanctions, economic sanctions, no less than military sanctions, inevitably entail risk of war. To use sanctions is, in effect, to attempt to coerce a sovereign State against its will. Unless the power in the hands of the States bringing sanctions to bear is irresistible, there is likely to be resistance or counter-attack, and that means war.

General Smuts said -

If ever the attempt were made to transform the League into a military machine, into a system to carry on war for the purpose of preventing war, I think its fate is sealed. I cannot conceive the dominions remaining in such a League and pledging themselves to fight the wars of the Old World.

Even more embarrassing to the Government was the strange coincidence that while the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) was vehemently attempting to rebut our contention about the inevitability of war following the imposition of sanctions, there was sitting at his elbow his Cabinet colleague, the then Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes), who, with that quaint sense of humour that characterizes him, had simultaneously released for publication his latest book, Australia and War To-day, in which he as vehemently declared that sanctions mean war. This is what Mr. Hughes says in his book -

Unless Italy bows to the decision of the League any sanctions imposed by the League can only bc effective to the extent that they are backed by armed force. Assuming that Italy decides to persist in her thrust into Abyssinia, she is not likely to submit tamely to an economic blockade, but will endeavour to break through it. This, of course, means war.

Despite this formidable array of unassailable opinion from- acknowledged authorities on international law, we are asked to agree to the imposition of economic and financial sanctions against Italy. If we do this, what will be our position with a population of less than 7,000,000 in a vast continent? Should we endorse the Government’s policy, thus giving Italy the chance, if it so desires, to declare war upon Australia? Surely no one will deny that a boycott cannot and will not just stop at a boycott. The logical result is war. Let it not be forgotten that in 1926 England and Italy came to an agreement - I hope that Senator Sampson is taking note of what I am saying - for the economic cutting up of Abyssinia. Both were well satisfied with the arrangement.

Senator Sir George Pearce:

– What is the authority for that statement?


– That treaty of 1926 was not ratified, but it showed clearly how imperialistic nations were prepared to ignore the right of a weak nation to self-development.

Senator Sir George Pearce:

– I assume that the honorable senator is quoting the opinion of the Labor Daily.


– To emphasize the seriousness of the situation, and to show what we may expect, I quote the following cable from the Sydney Sun of the 29th October:-

With sanctions looming large, housewives are planning their purchases to meet the inevitable rise of prices and shortage of commodities, the Rome correspondent of the Daily Telegraph states. Merchants are taking stock, and are ordering all possible supplies. Train after train is arriving from Austria and Hungary, laden with cattle, vegetables, flour, maize, and tinned meats. Northern goods stations are full of consignments of German and Polish coal. One train brought 40 truckloads of poultry. Genoa harbour is crowded with American oilships.

TheMinister who introduced the bill endeavoured to create a wrong impression when he referred to the subject of petroleum.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– That suggests that sanctions are likely to be effective?


– That is why the harbour at Genoa is crowded with overseas ships laden with oil. Is it suggested that oil is to he used for making tea? What is the final destination of those cargoes? The paragraph continued -

Exporters from the Balkans are expediting their consignments before sanctions operate.

I ask honorable senators not to overlook the illustration which I used this morning - “ With mad dogs barking ‘ Empire ‘ in Europe it is not Australia’s business to enter the kennel.”

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– That is what the honorable senator suggests that Australia should do.


Trevere, an Italian paper, printed in bold type a list of eleven countries, including Australia. Its report continued -

These are names to remember. Keep them handy for eventual reprisals. They refuse our products in order to paralyze our industries and deny us key products in order to stop our progress in East Africa.

Sir Austen Chamberlain has made the following comment: -

If the question were put, “Would you as a last resort adopt military sanctions?,’ I think you would be bound to say that the League, as the policeman of the world, must not he afraid.

TheRome correspondent of the Daily Telegraph says -

The newspapers continue to urge the people to boycott British goods, making appeals like the following: “English products are very bad. Moreover, you have to pay for them in gold to a country hostile to Italy.”

Can Australia afford to become embroiled in this conflict, in which it has no direct interest? Speaking in the House of Representatives, the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) said -

Once any sanction was approved by the League, no constituent member, unless it was able to have its case treated as a special one . . .

It will be seen from that statement that we are not necessarily dishonorable if we do not adhere to the provisions of the Covenant. Obviously, if other nations can have their cases treated as special cases, we should also be able to do so.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– On what grounds ?


– Because of the impossibility of a population of only 7,000,000, including women and children - a mere handful compared with the hordes of other nations - adequately defending this country. The AttorneyGeneral continued - . . was at liberty to refuse to give effect to that sanction without breaking its obligations under the Covenant. Before the Commonwealth or any other member of the League could be committed to the imposition of a new sanction, or to the extension of an existing one, however, the Government could consider the proposal and instruct its delegate as to its attitude. Before Austral ia could be committed to the imposition of military sanctions, the proposal to impose them would first have to come before the Government of the Commonwealth, which would give a decision thereon, and instruct its representative as to the vote he was to give on the proposal.

I cannot think of anything more hypocritical, particularly when we remember that two Australian warships are now in the war zone.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - The honorable senator is not entitled to apply the word “hypocritical “ to a member of this Parliament.


-If the Government is not hypocritical it is at least insincere.


– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the word “ hypocritical.”


– But no honorable senator has objected to it.


– The Chair has a. duty to perform, and the word must be withdrawn.


-I have no desire to disregard the direction of the Chair.


– The honorable senator would not like the same term to be applied to him.


– I have sat in this chamber while the most unworthy motives have been imputed to me, and have never turned a hair. In fact, I prefer the condemnation of honorable senators opposite to their commendation. In deference to your wishes, sir, I withdraw the word to which yon have taken exception. Regardless of the views which honorable senators may hold on this subject it cannot be denied that two Australian warships are now in the Mediterranean. If economic and financial sanctions are imposed by Australia one of these vessels may be fired upon and Australia will be in the conflict right up to its ears. In the House of Representatives yesterday the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) told the Lender of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) that, up to date, the Commonwealth had paid £451,350 towards the cost of the H.M.A.S. Sydney, and an equal amount was to be paid in 1935-36. Payments of a’ similar amount would be made in 1936-37 and in 1937-38, while £294,631 would be payable in 1938-39. On a vessel which was practically obsolete when it left the dockyard, only one payment has yet been made. That vessel is now in the danger zone. If the League of Nations could give us collective security there might be some argument-

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– If every nation deserts the League there can never be collective security.


– The Minister cannot “ put it over “ the Opposition in that way. Has the Minister overlooked the fact that the United States of America, Germany, Austria and Italy are not now members of the League? I was amused at the belated repentance of Japan referred to by the Leader of the Senate. Are we to believe that Japan, whose armies marched into Manchuria, and subdued the people of that country by the most brutal methods known in modern warfare, and without even declaring war, is now penitent? This is a significant fast. The economic and financial sanctions which Parliament is asked to ratify are to become operative on the18th November. Having read what is happening in Great Britain I am convinced that the date on which sanctions are to be imposed has been delayed deliberately until after the British general elections, which have been sprung on the people in an attempt to “ dish “ the. Labour party. The electors, who are being told that the Government proposes to spend £200,000,000 on the navy, are being urged to oppose the Labour candidates. A Labour government would be in power in Great Britainafter the next elections but for the punning which the British Prime Minister is displaying. Britain intends to arm heavily and the Commonwealth Governmenthas committed itself to assist in enforcing the will of what remains of the League of Nations. Having regard to the possibilities of an effective blockade, I ask honorable senators to listen to the following paragraph, published in the Sunday Sun and Guardian, which is not, a Labour paper: -

Throughout the last war, English and Frenchindustries maintained to Germany a steady stream of glycerine (for explosives), nickel, copper, oil and rubber. Germany even returned the compliment; she sent to France iron and steel and magnetos for gasoline engines. This constant traffic went on during the war in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Spain or Holland, by the simple process of transhipment- enemy to neutral to enemy.

Yet the Leader of the Senate asks us to believe that these sanctions can be made effective. The paragraph continued - lt is no bristling Communist who supplies corroboration, but as conservative and wellconsidered a gentleman as Bear-Admiral William Warcop Peter Consett, who was British Naval Attache in Denmark between 1912 and 1917, and in Norway and Sweden between 1912 and 191.!).

We have heard a good deal concerning the attitude of the United States of America. I have already said that that country is not interested in this bargaining business, and my contention is not in any way discounted by the statement of the Leader of the Senate this morning. What is the use of closing our eyes to the facts ? The following message from Washington is of interest: - lt was learned to-day, on unquestionable authority, that President Roosevelt’s statement is intended to be more comprehensive than a mere warning against war business, and is calculated to discourage all United States trade with Italy. In other words the president, in effect, threatened to wield the big stick by branding business men, when circumstances justified, as war profiteers who were willing to embroil the United States in a war for the sake of a few dollars.

The President of the United States of America has threatened to wield the big stick by branding as war profiteers those who are willing to embroil, their country in a war for the sake of monetary gain. Obviously, certain hig business interests in that country are supplying Italy with materials to enable it to carry on the war. During the great war we were not permitted to say certain things, and when the Crimes Bill now before this chamber is enacted the right of free speech will be further restricted. At present I cannot be prevented from saying what I was not permitted to say during the war, arid that is that in Gallipoli Australian soldiers were shot down by the Turks, who were using guns of British manufacture. We have been told that Australia, as a member of the League, has no option; it has to abide by the

Covenant. The members of the Austraiian Labour party do not propose to do that. From one end of Australia to the other the Australian Labour party, industrially and politically, has definitely declared itself against the imposition of sanctions. Why should we refuse food to Italy, and by so doing starve those Abyssinians, including women and children, whom Italy controls? Such eventualities may arise out of the imposition of sanctions to which this Government asks the Opposition to become a party. I point out that while we refuse food to Italy that country is being supplied with petrol; it is getting all the petrol that it needs.

Senator Dein:

– Sanctions have not yet been actually applied.


– How much longer will it be before the League gets on with the real job? We propose to refuse to supply food to Italy, but apparently supplies of a more essential commodity - petrol - are to be continued, although this will enable Italy to operate against the Abyssinians its mechanized army, including its great fleet of aeroplanes. Let us be honest in this matter. The Leader of the Government does not tell us why petrol has not been specifically placed on the list of sanctions or mentioned in this bill. I suggest that the reason is that great international interests - the oil producers of different countries - want to continue to reap unholy profits out of Italy. Deny Italy petrol, and immediately its capacity to attack Abyssinia and prosecute the present conflict would be prejudiced. But the Government does not dare to tread on the tender toes of great international and vested interests, by following such a course. The whole thing is a rotten and disgusting business, in which the Opposition is asked to soil its hands; we will not agree to that. Writing in the Sunday Sun of the 20th October, Mr. Charles Melaun said -

The wall around Italy is not even built yet, but holes appear in it already, here and there. American oil interests when approached to join in shutting off this vital product from Italy, refused to do so. as petrol is not on President Roosevelt’s embargo list.

Will the imposition of sanctions really help to establish collective security? What really do we propose to do? The suggestion now made, which I will put in the form of a quotation from Mr. J. R. Clynes, who. was Secretary of State for Home Affairs in the last Labour Government in Britain is-

We can have peace by millions of bayonets, by a strong navy and a. greater air force, and, having talked peace with a background of gunpowder, are asked to believe that all these armaments are assembled to be ready not to use them.

Great Britain, as the greatest colonizing country of the world, is not new to this game. It has proselytized the natives, going, to them with a rum bottle in one hand and a gun behind its back. We are told that great navies and armies should be assembled in the cause of peace; that the forces that are being assembled by the nations to-day will not be used. If honorable senators heard that I had gone to Sydney to take lessons in pugilism, would they conclude that I was adopting such a course just for fun or that I was preparing against my return to this chamber to combat any belligerent young opponent who might tackle me here? Obviously, if I pay for boxing lessons I intend to use the knowledge I gain. Similarly, when nations pay for armaments they intend to use them. Mr. J. R. Clynes continued -

We have national leaders who go looking for peace with a gun. It is a delusion that national security means armaments.

Senator Sir George Pearce:

– Does not the honorable senator believe in adequate defence?


– I do, but that is beside the point. There will never be a dearth of excuses for embroiling a country in war. The Leader of the Senate was prolific in advancing such excuses this morning. He reeled them off in the polished phrases of which he is a master, until he almost persuaded me that there was something in them. In, 1914 the cry was “ poor little Belgium “. Australians then were told that little Belgian children had had their hands cut off at the wrists. The. fact was that not one victim of such atrocities could be produced. However, the cry was effective and Australia, like the wonderful country it is, rallied to that cry. What is the cry to-day? It is - save the League of Nations in the interests of collective security. As a rallying cry this is one of the cleverest. subtlest and most specious that has ever yet been raised in the cause of war. It may be put as follows : Are you in f avour of war? No? Well then support the League of Nations, In other words, go looking for peace with a gun. The Great War of 1914 was a war to end war; now the cry is that this conflict is a war to ensure peace. To show that our arguments are not wholly illogical, I quote from ProfessorCharteris who, when addressing the Sydney Constitutional Club on sanctions, said -

The only thing that is obligatory is article 16 which is impossible as it is so rigorous that it cannot be enforced. All that can be done by outside authorities is to make a recommendation and it is for Australia to say whether it will accept that recommendation or not,

Obviously, Australia would not be disloyal if it declined to be a party to the sanctions. As Professor Charteris has pointed out, the matter of sanctions rests on a recommendation which Australia can accept or reject. I point out that 46 per cent. of the people who voted for my party at the federal election twelve months ago-

Senator Sir George Pearce:

– Not on this question.


– No; they have not voted yet on this matter, and this Government is not game to submit it to a vote of the people. The former Minister for Health and Repatriation (Mr. Hughes) is to-day the greatest political figure in Australia because his statements on sanctions have touched the hearts of the people, and have caused the Government to victimize him. I suggest that the Government should go to the people on this matter, and ask them if they are prepared to become embroiled in war for the sake of international security. Whatever mandate the Government received at. the last federal elections, it was given by only 54 per cent. of the people who voted; the remainder voted for Labour party candidates. But at the last election the Government did not mention war, or, in fact, any of the important measures which have been put through this chamber since its return to power. Government candidates told the people that they would tackle unemployment, but they have not so far touched that matter. They have not tackled the mandate they received from the people to save the youth of the nation from its loss of morale due to unemployment; young men of from 18 to 21 years of age have not yet had a job and the only employment this Government can give them apparently is to send them overseas as cannon fodder.

Australia is being invited - and I particularly draw the attention of the Leader of the Government to this pointto become a participant in the manufacture of the. hell broth now brewing in that witch’s cauldron, Central Europe. The Government knows this to be a fact as well as we do. It knows that as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, not peace, but war, has been brought into the hearts of the people of Europe - that as a result of the harsh terms of that treaty the youths of Italy and Germany have been goaded into revolt, and that this factor is the cause of conditions existing in those countries to-day. The world is suffering from a plethora of pacts. God save us from any more of them ! We have the Pact of Paris, the Kellogg Pact and the Treaty of Versailles. These make up a medley which is at once contradictory and confusing. But one central fact of primary importance to Australia is, as I have already shown, that each country in the League of Nations is entitled to decide for itself whether or not it will do those tilings which this bill invites us to do and which in their essence are acts of war. Let us not forget that standing back in the dreadful shadows of this Abyssinian dispute and everything it connotes are the great armament firms, the ghoulish manufacturers of death for profit, wealthy traitors to every country. These are facts! Let us come down out of the clouds and face them. Are we going to give the armament trusts the opportunity which would be afforded them if we ourselves entered into this brawl? A sub-committee of the Temporary Mixed Commission of the League of Nations in 1921 - and conditions, I remind honorable senators, have not altered very much since - made the following charges against the armament firms: -

  1. Armament firms have been active in fomenting war scares and in persuading their own countries to adopt warlike policies and to increase their armaments.
  2. Armament firms have attempted to bribe government officials both at home and abroad.
  3. Armament firms have disseminated false reports concerning the military and naval programmes of various countries in order to stimulate armament expenditure.
  4. Armament firms have sought to influence public opinion through the control of newspapers in their own and foreign countries.
  5. Armament firms have organized international rings through which the armaments race has been accentuated by playing off one country against another.
  6. Armament firms have organized international armament trusts, which have increased the price of armaments to governments. [Extension of time granted.]

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.


– I have already stated that the Opposition believes that Australia should keep out of the trouble between Italy and Abyssinia. The following extract from the Sydney Sunday Sun of the 13th October, 1935,. sets out clearly the position of Australia -

In Canberra this week a young nation has. been standing at the cross-roads of its destiny; in the sight of the whole people a decision has been made as to the road to be taken. But the people themselves will make the ultimate decision on the issue oil which Parliament has just voted.

With a few lapses the debate has been conducted on a high level. Personalities have been largly avoided, and many membershave made thoughtful and carefully-prepared speeches.

I would say that the question on which the House ultimately voted was approximately this : -

Putting on one side every purely ethical and moral argument, taking no account of the rights and wrongs of the Italo- Abyssinian quarrel, eliminating every consideration of world? patriotism, disregarding even the fate of other Empire countries, studying solely Australian self-interest - what is the best way of keeping Australia out of war, both now and in the next decade?

In those last words you have the crux of the matter. Both now and in the next decade “. The Opposition believes that there is imminent danger of a world war and a grave risk that Australia will be dragged into it.

The refusal of the Opposition to support the League is not based on any disagreement with its theories or ideals; it takes the view that the League has become so weak through defections as to be dangerous, that it is no longer a real league of nations, but is such a defective weapon that it is liable to explode in the hand’s of the user. Such a weapon, the Opposition says, should he put aside.

It is our duty calmly to consider all the facts, or such of them as ‘ we are permitted to know. I say deliberately as a result of years of experience outside of Parliament as well as some years in this chamber, that we are not permitted to know all the facts. And without a knowledge of all the facts we should not submit to what this bill asks of us. The Government does not dare to acquaint the Senate with all the facts. It is not prepared to lay all its cards on the table. It knows very well thatOld World complications are such that we are, as it were, sitting on the edge of a volcano all the time. Before making up our minds regarding this bill we should know all the facts that are available. We should set aside racial prejudices, and realize that a policy of “ one in, all in “ is not necessarily a wise one. “ My country right or wrong “ is inherently vicious, and leads to injustice and tyrnanny. Let us free our minds of catch cries, and realize that there is such a thing as the tyranny of words. Surely, it is illogical for intelligent Australians to believe that war can possibly be a cure for the crime of war. One might as well pour petrol on a fire in an attempt to put it out as resort to war in order to destroy war. I am reminded of the words of JamesRussell Lowell -

Ef you take a sword an’ dror it,

An’ go stick a feller thru,

Guv-ment ain’t to answer for it,

God’ll send the bill to you.

Honorable senators cannot escape from their individual responsibilties. I ask whether, by agreeing to sanctions, we shall be making Australia’s finest contribution to the cause of civilization and human progress and happiness? In all sincerity, I suggest that Australia should not be expected to take part in Old World feuds. This continent contains only a handful of people who are many thousands of miles distant from the centre of disturbance, and it is our duty and privilege to develop it along the lines of social justice and industrial peace. We should not do anything which is inconsistent with the best interests of agreat democracy and the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The Leader of the Senate has not told us all to which Australia is committed as a member of the League of Nations.

Senator Sir George Pearce:

– I thought that the honorable senator had read the Covenant of the League for himself.


– In regard to social and international peace the following reference to the International Labour Organization of the League of Nations is enlightening : -

The Constitution of the League of Nations will not provide a real solution of the troubles that have beset the world in the past and will not even be able to eliminate the seeds of international strife unless it provides a remedy for the industrial evils and injustices which mar the present state of society. In proposing, therefore, to establish a permanent organization in order to adjust labour conditions by international action, the Commission felt that it was taking an indispensable step towards the achievement of the objects of the League of Nations.

The same view is expressed in the preamble to Part XIII. of the Versailles Treaty, which declares that -

Whereas the League of Nations has for its object the establishment of universal peace, and such a peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice:

And whereas conditions of labour exist involving such injustice, hardship and privation to large numbers of people as to produce unrest so great that the peace and harmony of the world are imperilled . . .

The High Contracting Parties, moved by sentiments of justice and humanity, as well as by the desire to secure the permanent peace of the world, agree to the following . ‘ . .

Then follow the 40 articles of the Constitution of the International Labour Organization. The Versailles Treaty recognized that international peace and social justice are bound up together. That is what the Opposition is always trying to impress on honorable senators opposite. International peace is impossible while world conditions remain as they are. There cannot be international peace while thousands of young men are turned out of our schools, colleges and universities every year with no prospects of employment. So long as men are forced to roam the streets of our great cities, and are in danger of being destroyedbody and soul because of the social injustices which exist, there cannot be international peace. There cannot be peace between States if there is class war within the State. The Crimes Bill, with which we dealt yesterday, is deliberately designed to deal with those who preach class war, even though, like myself, they hate it. Practically the who.e of the civilized world is pledged under article 13 of the Covenant, not only to recognize this fact, but also to try to solve the resulting problem by cooperation and conciliation. That means that they recognize the important fact that States and classes are not ultimate realities, but are merely temporary expedients adopted by humanity to organize its communal life. In other words, wc cannot go on as we are. The present social order cannot long continue, for there exists a clash of interests between section and section and between nation and nation. I commend to honorable senators a volume in the library entitled The Retreat from Glory, by Bruce Lockhart, a gentleman who has occuped diplomatic, positions of varying importance in many of the States of central Europe. Mr. Lockhart says -

One tiling was curtain. The new Europe, which wc had hoped to build, was crumbling rapidly. The period of glory was ended. The armed peace of the victors had made a travesty of the League of Nations, had sown resentments deeper than the wa.r had created, lt was destroying the German Repubic. In the Sucession States millions of Slavs had been liberated from the yoke of Austria and Hungary. Freedom, education, and countless new benefits had been bestowed on the former downtrodden. But, in spite of enlightened statesmen like President Masaryk, they had not benefited by their own experience. Nearly everywhere they were repeating the same injustices and the same intolerance as their former oppressors had once shown towards them. Not a single one of the problems left by the peace had been solved. Germany was a festering sore. Hungary, who had learnt least from thu war, was, admittedly, a difficult problem. But Austria, whoso favour and goodwill the Little Entente could have won without difficulty in 1022, had been left in hopeless destitution. Bulgaria, whose people at n.ny rate should not have been punished for the sins of their former King, was still without an outlet to the Aegean. The Cl, 02eSt fruits of man’s intelligence, peace by enlightment, fraternity, justice, and play, democracy, freedom of individual opinion, had been allowed to rot ungathered. Common sense had gone by the board. Idealism was dead, and everywhere the: cynics and the armament firms were coming into their own.

Much as I tried to understand the point of view of the French. I could not appreciate thu logic of their terrible consistency. I knew, a.s every one knew, that there were militarists in Germany - able militarists who wished to re-establish rule by the sword. In 1019 thev had been discredited. But ever since Versailles French policy had played into their hands. There could be no peace in Europe so long as any e Frenchman wau dared to suggest a policy of reconciliation with Germany was considered a traitor by other Frenchmen, and so long as Gorman militarists were allowed to proclaim that thu Germany army had been defeated, not by the arms of thu -Mi iea, but by the treachery of German Socialists and Rujju.hl.cans.

  1. quoted that extract merely to show that there is no peace, and there can be no peace, and that the present embroglio between Italy and Abyssinia is one outcome of the Treaty of Versailles, reparations, and other things agreed upon by the victors at the conclusion of the last war. This bill involves us in that em bro-‘io. Once having agreed to those sanctions, we cannot consistently fail to consent to other acts that may be rendered necessary as this dispute progresses.

I desire honorable senators to believe me when I say that I have not made my address here merely because I sit in Opposition. This is not some new, outlook on the problems and theories of life which I have arrived at within recent months. I have always held the opinions that I speak to-day with regard to the non-necessity and horrors of war. 1 have said before in this chamber that if wo had a Minister for Peace instead of a Minister for Defence, a Council of Peace instead of a Council for War, and if we were prepared to develop this great southern democracy along the lines of constructive peacewilling, desiring, working for and. if necessary, paying for, peace - wi> would light a beacon that would be a guide to the other nations of the world. If, having put our hands to the plough, we had the courage, energy and determination to plough our furrow, even though it be a lone one, to the end, we would be making a greater contribution towards the settlement of this dispute, and the peace and harmony of the world, with resultant prosperity, progress and happiness for the whole community, than is possible bv becoming participants in the application of sanctions. I ask honorable senators to believe that this opposition to the bill is not something ephemeral. We did not decide to take this course on the. spur of the moment, or because we constitute the Opposition. I have always firmly believed that our actions live after us, and continue on until this great globe is dissolved. They pass inevitably down as an inheritance from one generation to another. Every act we perform affects our own character and every character affects that of someone else. Every act of every character is still affecting this nation to-day. We labour -under tue baseness of others and are raised by their nobility. Social and anti-social actions alike live on. Decency and integrity, courage and compassion are always well worth while. They are not lost but pass on down the generations. We are, indeed, the heirs of all ages. The future is the heir of the present as the present is the heir of the past. I ask honorable senators before casting their votes to believe that they will not be doing anything original in supporting this bill. Through the centuries Parliaments, when faced with crises such as that which now confronts us, always without exception, have come to the same decision. There have always been the same specious appeals to the spurious patriotism of the people, pleading which only gets us further into the bog of international injustice and tyranny. There is never any attempt made to tackle the problem in any new, more Christian; righteous, and just manner.

Senator Brennan:

– Does the honorable senator believe in patriotism?


– I believe with Johnson, that patriotism, as preached by the warmongers in this chamber and elsewhere, is the last refuge of scoundrels. There has never been a war in which the alleged patriots - Jabez Wright and the like - have not waxed fat on the misery and degradation of the people, who first gave their blood, and, later, if they were fortunate enough to be spared, had to bear the burden of taxation to pay for the war. When Senator Brennan asked by interjection whether I believe in patriotism his object was that, later on, he should be able to misrepresent my attitude. He did not ask the question in order to obtain an answer from me which would enable me further to protest my honesty in this business, but he endeavoured to trap me into making some indiscreet reply which might be used against me in the future. I shall not be caught bv that means. In the sacred name of patriotism, every form of tyranny and injustice has been fastened on the people. Because I believe that as we mate our own characters, we affect the characters of others in the community, and that at this hour Australia stands at the cross-roads of destiny, and has a wonderful opportunity and responsibility to do something unconventional, unorthodox and worthwhile, I urge that we should try what the gospel of love can do, instead of the gospel of hate. Let us try consistency with humanitarian principles, instead of inconsistency. I have quoted from the convention of the International Labour Office, an integral part of the League of Nations. Let us remember that there is no hocus pocus, no magical formula by which we can encompass peace, but there is hocus pocus, a sample of which we had this mornm%> by which we can provoke war. We have a wonderful opportunity to put ourselves right, both with ourselves and with the world, and go marching forward to a higher standard of human understanding, righteousness, cleanliness and decency than that which any other country has enjoyed hitherto.

Senator BRENNAN:
Assistant Minister · Victoria · UAP

– I admit that if the use of voluminous disconnected snippets could have proved his case, Senator Collings would have proved his case up to the hilt. I can congratulate him upon the industry and assiduity of hi.private secretary, but regret that out of the mass of material which he presented to us, he did not develop a consecutive argument. In the use of the disconnected snippets he managed at times to convey quite a wrong expression. For instance, amongst those whom he cited was Sir Stafford Cripps, a former AttorneyGeneral and leader of the British Labour party. So far as I could follow the honorable senator, he cited Sir Stafford Cripps as one of those who had view:-: on sanctions which harmonized with his own opinions. As to that, I can only say that Sir Stafford Cripps did advocate sanctions in the case of the Japanese; penetration into Manchuria, but when he came to the case of Italy, he refused to be a party to the application of sanction, and broke away from the great Labour movement with which he was associated, rather than see the sanctions enforced. The honorable senator may well bear in mind the figures quoted by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) with regard to the opinions of the Trades Unions Congress which met at Margate this year.

Senator Collings:

– I was aware of those figures before the Leader of the Senate received them.

Senator BRENNAN:

– I admit that, but realizing that the honorable senator might fail to take any notice of them, I thought it would be very desirable to call attention to them. Senator Collings referred to my question to him by interjection as to whether he believed in patriotism. He stated that I asked the question with the object of misrepresenting later on what he would say. “We have got into the habit of disregarding many of the extravagances of language which the honorable senator uses, but I had no intention of seeking to misrepresent his views either now or hereafter. On the contrary, I am very anxious that his opinions in all their nakedness should go out to the world. I think they are the best answer to himself, and so far from mispresenting him, I hope that his statements will be represented and recorded with great accuracy.He said he knew when the Leader of the Senate began to move the second reading of the bill that he would say what is always said as an excuse for war. Does the honorable senator mean by that that the Leader of the Senate is in favour of war? Does he mean that the Government of which Senator Pearce is a member is in favour of war?

Senator Collings:

– I believe the Government is pledged to support Britain in whatever “ scrap “ she likes to enter.

Senator BRENNAN:

– Does the honorable senator believe that the great majority of members of this Parliament are in favour of war, or does he mean that the people who support this Government are in favour of war?

Senator Collings:

– No. But this matter of sanctions has not been referred to the people.

Senator BRENNAN:

– How can one please the honorable senator? On the one hand, he blames Mr. Stanley Baldwin for submitting the issue to the people in Great Britain, and, on the other, he criticizes this Government for having failed to submit it to the Australian public.

Senator Collings:

-i did not blame Mr. Baldwin. I explained that he acted in that way to “dish” the Labour party.

Senator BRENNAN:

– Perhaps, then, that statement is praise and not blame. One of the observations made, I think, in the last but one of the perorations in which the honorable senator indulged, was an expression of hope that we would try to preach the doctrine of love. That reminds me very much of the saying that Carlyle had preached the gospel of silence through 50 volumes. The Leader of the Opposition has for 50 years preached the doctrine of love through the doctrine of hate. I have never heard him say anything which any one could construe into the doctrine of love. Therefore, let him not preach to us about it. Let him practise it. The honorable gentleman also said that this Parliament does not decide these matters; that the decision is made behind closed doors. I do wish that at times he would say exactly what he means. What does he mean when he declares that the decision in these matters is reached behind closed doors? And by whom is the decision made?

Senator Collings:

– If the Minister spent some time at 10 Downing-street,he would know what I mean.

Senator BRENNAN:

– Then the allegation is that the decision in this matter is made by the Government of Great Britain. The honorable senator went: on to tell us that our representative abroad had been instructed what he should say at Geneva. To that my reply is that Mr. Bruce had either to be instructed or allowed to act on his own initiative. I can imagine what the honorable senator would have said if the Government had admitted that it had no control whatever over the representative of Australia at Geneva. Would we not have heard him complaining that our representative could have committed this Parliament and Australia to any course of action which he deemed advisable ?

Senator Collings:

– We say that Parliament should be consulted before instructions are given.

Senator BRENNAN:

– Every step takenpreliminary to the decision to impose sanctions was communicated by Mr.Bruce or the British Government to this Government, and communicated by this Government to Parliament.

SenatorCollings. -After the decision had been made.

Senator BRENNAN:

– In submitting the decision of this matter to the Parliament, the Government submitted it to the people of this country as a whole, and I venture the opinion that there never was, on a matter of major policy, an occasion when the people of Australia were so unanimously in support of the Government’s action as they are to-day in connexion with sanctions.

Senator Collings:

– Nonsense !

Senator BRENNAN:

– I admit that the tu quoque form of argument is the weakest that one can adopt. Therefore, I. hesitate to say that we on this side knew exactly what Senator Collings intended to say - though I admit that we did not know the precise language which he would employ - before herose to pour it ail forth upon us.

Senator Collings:

– That should have been fairly easy. I have been a member of this chamber for over three years.

Senator BRENNAN:

-We knew what he intended to say, and I should add that we grieved, because it does seem to me, and I am sure also to those on this side holding similar views, a very regrettable thing that in a matter affecting, not merely Australia, but also the whole world, and affecting also not merely this generation but also generations to come, we should not have the benefit of the independent opinions of honorable senators who sit opposite. It is regrettable that we should be obliged to hear expressed, with more or less vehemence and interlarded with lengthy quotations, opinions that are essentially machine made. The Leader of the Opposition knows that all that is necessary for him to do in order to get into the “ news “, on the front pages of the newspapers, is to rise in his place in this chamber and give expression to views in opposition to those of his own party, which views are themselves in opposition to the opinion of many Labour organizations in Australia as well as in Great Britain and the other dominions.

But the argument of the Leader of the Opposition, as I understood it, comes too late. He has told us that sanctions mean war. This, I suggest, is not the time to call attention to that fact, even if what he has said were true. The time to call attention to the inevitability of war, as he put it, following the imposition of sanctions, was when Australia became a signatory to the League of Nations Covenant, because if the imposition of sanctions to-day means war, it meant war fifteen years ago, and it has meant war in all the intervening years. No protesting voice was raised when Australia took its place beside other nations in the League. I repeat that everything that is involved to-day following the imposition of sanctions was involved then and has been involved in the intervening years. Is it suggested that we can enter into solemn obligations with other nations - obligations which admittedly involve something on our side and something on their side - and so long as it is confined to talking about Australia’s part as a nation retain our membership of the League, hut so soon as the situation begins to look a bit troublesome, then, in the eloquent language of the Leader of the Opposi tion, we may retire into our kennel and bark?

Senator Collings:

– This Government is doing all the barking.

Senator BRENNAN:

– It appears to me that what the honorable senator has been saying this afternoon comes very near to preaching a counsel of cowardice. The imposition of sanctions, he tells us, may lead to war. When Senator Dein, who sits behind him, called attention to the word “ may “ and suggested that, after all, it did not necessarily follow that the imposition of sanctions would lead to war, the Leader of ‘ the Opposition said “ Yes ; we are afraid of that word ‘ may ‘ “.

Senator Collings:

– Hear, hear !

Senator BRENNAN:

– The honorable senator approves of my interpretation of his attitude, and I repeat that he is preaching a counsel ofcowardice when he says that we should not stand up to the obligations which we have entered into because to do so may lead to unpleasant consequences.

Senator Collings:

– I did not say that. What I said was that we cannot go on doing wrong and claim that it is right.

Senator BRENNAN:

– The honorable senator must know the implications of our entering into those solemn obligations. If I have not correctly interpreted his attitude I should be glad if the honorable senator would, on some other occasion and at not too great length, tell us what he did mean. But I am sure that he knows enough of the world’s history to acknowledge that through the ages from the time when Leonidas, with 300 men, kept the pass at Thermopylae against the overwhelming odds that were sent against them, honour has gone not to those who shirked their obligations but to those who stood up to them.

Senator Collings:

– In Australia there are hundreds of returned soldiers who might not hold that opinion.

Senator BRENNAN:

– Has the honorable senator read - I feel sure he has - Lincoln’s three-minute speech at the consecration of portion of the battlefield of Gettysburg? Lincoln was no swashbuckler, but in that notable speech he spoke .most eloquently of the sacrifices made by American soldiers in one of the greatest wars up to that time - and one of the most painful, because it was a war amongst brothers. But during the whole of that terrible conflict there was no talk of backing out of obligations; no talk of shirking duties; the nation had to be saved, and those who gave their lives that the nation might live will never bc forgotten.

Senator Collings:

– The Minister would take good care that he would not run that risk.

Senator BRENNAN:

– The honorable senator’s interjection merely indicates that cowardice is the paramount feeling in his mind, because he thinks that this matter has to be looked at from the point of view of- saving one’s skin from being pierced. He has too low an estimate of human nature. Let me tell him that in the last arbitrament between nations, the unit is not the individual, but the nation itself. Again to quote Lincoln, “ those men gave their lives that the nation might live”. And it is the effect on the nation, not on the individual, that eventually comes to take its place in history.

Senator Collings:

– I am not going to give mv life that any nation might live.

Senator BRENNAN:

– The further the honorable senator proceeds the more unblushing he becomes in preaching his cowardice.

Senator Collings:

– I rise to a point of order! I am not objecting to the frequent use by the Minister of the word “ cowardice “, because I do not mind what he says about me; but I direct your attention, Mr. President, to the fact that (his morning I had to withdraw the word “ hypocritical “ when describing the attitude of the Government. I know the Minister is saying all this for publication outside.


– As Senator Collings considers that the use of the word complained of is a reflection upon him I ask the Minister to withdraw it. I would, however, remind Senator Collings that his very provocative interjection was responsible for the Minister’s use of the word.

Senator BRENNAN:

– I withdraw any allegation of cowardice which I may have made against Senator Collings, but I repeat that the general policy outlined by the honorable senator ran very close to a counsel of cowardice. He said that sanctions lead to war. But do they? Do so much of the sanctions as have been imposed necessarily lead, or are they likely to lead, to war between Australia and Italy? Roughly speaking, our sanctions are split up into three separate sections. One deals with financial assistance to Italian nationals, another with imports to Italy and the third with exports from Italy. I remind the Senate that these sanctions are imposed, not in the Mediterranean, and not outside the harbour of Naples, but in the offices of our Customs Department. There has been no sugegstion, so far, that they should bc enforced by a blockade. We have only one warship that could take part in any blockade. It cannot be seriously argued that any action which we have ta.ken to the present time, will mean a blockade of Italian ports.

Senator Collings:

– Is that why two vessels of the Australian fleet are in Mediterranean waters?

Senator BRENNAN:

– I am not responsible for the movements of the British fleet. Whatever action is taken by the Commonwealth is in the exercise of the powers which every selfgoverning nation possesses, and at some time or another exercises. It is then suggested that if sanctions are not carried to the extent of a blockade and then to the extent of war they must necessarily be ineffective? I dispute that contention. What happened during the great war? The earth was combed for materials necessary to prosecute that war. The materials necessary to prosecute a modern war are much more varied than they were in earlier and simpler times. Can any one say that it will mean nothing to Italy if 50 nations close their doors and refuse to trade with it? Italy has to carry on the present Avar with all the resources that it can command, andby any means at its disposal. Italy cannot disregard the fact that if finance and materials required for the prosecution of the war are not forthcoming it will be unable to carry on. Therefore I dispute the two propositions. First, that the imposition of sanctions, to which this Parliament is asked to agree, must necessarily lead to war, and, secondly, that if they do not they must be ineffective. Australia ought to receive some moral support from the fact that, in the course it is talcing, it is in line with 50 other nations. The Leader of the Opposition said that in matters of this kind the Commonwealth Government receives its instructions from Great Britain, based on decisions reached behind closed doors at No. 10 Downing-street. No instructions have ever reached the Commonwealth Government or any member of it from No. 10 Downing-street, or from any occupant of that historic building.

SenatorCollings. - From what source did the Government receive a list of the commodities on which sanctions are to be imposed?

Senator BRENNAN:

– Our dealings havebeen with the League of Nations. Nothing has ever happened which, by any stretch of the most vivid imagination, could be regarded as directions from the British Government. Australia is acting in conjunction with Great Britain, France and 50 smaller nations. Although the United States of America is not a member of the League, that country is co-operating with the members of the League. I ask the Leader of the Opposition, who said that the Commonwealth Government received its instructions from Great Britain, if there is anything wonderful in the fact that the peoples of two countries, belonging to the same race and inheriting the same traditions, should adopt the same views in matters of major policy? It seems to me that there is no room for argument upon the point that Australia is acting in unison with Great Britain in this instance. Let the Leader of the Opposition consider what has taken place since the outbreak of hostilities in Abyssinia. Have other nations looked on to see to what extent the Italian army has advanced? Are they wondering when the next city is likely to fall ? No. They have looked to see what Great Britain proposes to do - whether it will honour its obligations. Their attitude is an unconscious tribute to the hegemony of the British race. He should take hope. He should not be so despondent concerning what is likely to happen. He should remember that -

Not once or twice in our rough island-story The path of duty was the way to glory.

In this matter Great Britain, and Australia in its small way, are taking the path of duty and, I trust, because it is the path of duty and not because it may prove to be the way to glory. As the Leader of the Senate said, we should commence in the only way we can to ensure permanent peace.

Senator Collings:

– Go after peace with a gun !

Senator BRENNAN:

– We can go after peace by carrying out the obligations we have entered into. If we fail to do that, what becomes of the hopes entertained fifteen years ago when that great undertaking, the League of Nations, was launched? If the world fails now to enforce the Covenant of the League and make it operative when is it going to operate? It cannot be in this generation. Some other generation will have to take up the work and without the benefit of our example in the matter. In these circumstances the Government has no option. It has entered into obligations and it intends to honour them, lt will deal with the consequences that may arise when they do arise.

Senator BROWN:

– After listening to the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) and the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan), I rise with some diffidence to speak on this important subject. Each Minister has stated the position very clearly from his viewpoint. Their opinions may have considerable influence, because sentiment plays a very important part in the minds of the people, particularly during periods of national stress. It is easy for an honorable senator or any other public speaker to appeal to the people on sentimental grounds, and, in this instance, a strong appeal will be made to the people to support the League of Nations in its effort to impose economic and financial sanctions on Italy. Such an appeal lias been made by all -sections of the community including ministers of the gospel whose responsibility it is to preach the doctrine of peace. The members of tha Australian Labour party are as sincere in the policy they advocate as are honorable senators opposite in the course they are following. According to the arguments adduced by our opponents, the members of the Labour party are seeking refuge in a coward’s castle. It has been said that we are sneaking away from our obligations, and beating a strategic retreat to a point where we shall be perfectly safe. That is not so. We feel that our action is just as courageous as is the action of honorable senators opposite. As a matter of fact, it is tho easiest thing in the world to pander to the people and by using platitudes speak of peace in our time, but it is not so easy to advocate a policy requiring thought and consideration. Although I may not agree with the views of extreme pacifists, we have to admit that some of the finest mcn in the world have definitely declared that in no circumstances will they take hu in an life. During the war, many men were persecuted because of the attitude they adopted towards Avar, and the sacrifices some made were equal to those of men who served at the front. The British Labour party is supporting a policy which it believes to be right. The Australian Labour party, which is opposed to the imposition of sanctions, believes that it is right. As was admitted by Mr. Baldwin, we are ail engaged in a mighty gamble. There is a possibility of war, and Great Britain may have to go further than the imposition of economic sanctions. The Leader of the Senate mentioned this morning that Mr. Morrison, who is chairman of the London County Council, has taken a definite stand, but I would remind the right honorable gentleman that Mr. Morrison makes the significant statement that if the imposition of sanctions leads to war, the British Labour party will have to review the position. Having studied this subject from every angle, the members of the Australian Labour party are convinced that the imposition of sanctions will ultimately lead to Avar, and because of that Ave intend to oppose the bill. We hold that those who believe that it is right to impose sanctions should be prepared to see the matter through to the bitter end, even to the arbitrament of Avar. How could the Labour party, as a party, support sanctions and then, when Italy inevitably took reprisals and Avar resulted, say to the people of Australia: “ We are sorry Ave have reached the end of our tether; Ave will have to Avithdraw “ ? It is because the Parliamentary Labour party has viewed this situation from every angle, and has come to the definite conclusion that the imposition of sanctions will lead to Avar, that it, Avith the whole of the Labour movement, has decided not to support the Government in this course. If the voice of the Australian Labour party could reach overseas we would like to tell our comrades on the other side of the world that our position is entirely different from theirs. Europe has its own peculiar problems, and Ave have ours. Australia, being situated in the southern Pacific, and far distant from the centre of the Empire, cannot be expected to follow blindly every action taken by our kinsmen overseas, even if amongst those people are a majority of the people of England. As my leader has pointed out, Australia’s population is less than 7,000,000, and if by our action Ave are to be committed to another war, we may lose another 60,000 or 100,000 of ourmanhood on thebattlefields, in which event our defensive strength would be dangerously reduced. I also stress the point that if Australia as a nation supports at all times the League of Nations, irrespective of the circumstances, we may be embarrassed when the matter of Australia’s extensive unpopulated areas is being considered by the League in the future. I emphasize that the consequences of whatever action we take to-day will not be confined to the present. This Government is definitely committing Australia to a policy of agreement with the League of Nations. Is it not possible that in the near future when our unpopulated areas are being discussed by the League - and this matter has already been mentioned on many occasions in the councils of the League - that body may adopt a policy which runs contrary to our immigration policy, and the White Australia principle? What would be the position of Australia if the League should, in its wisdom, decide that Australia, having extensive unpopulated areas, should admit migrants, including some of those who, in the past, have been kept out of this country? Would this Government, under such circumstances, plead, as the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) and Senator Brennan have pleaded to-day, and as it has pleaded through its press and publicists, that we should stand behind the emasculated League? Or would the supporters of this Government then begin to look for excuses to justify abandonment of the League? Senator Brennan said that the Labour movement had openly supported the League of Nations, but is now adopting a contrary policy, because we say that Australia should not participate in the imposition of sanctions. The honorable senator’s argument sounds all right, but it will not bear examination. The position to-day is altogether different from that which existed a few years ago. The Labour party and the Labour movement have supported the League of Nations. They believed that a league composed of all the nations of the world could, by economic pressure, bring to bear sufficient force to compel any recalcitrant nation to accept peaceful arbitration in an international dispute. That was all right in theory, but in practice it does not work.

The League of Nations is not composed of all the powerful nations, for at the present time Japan, Germany and the. United States of America are not members, this notwithstanding the fact that President Wilson was really the founder of the Leagune. Furthermore, Italy has run contrary to the expressed will of the League, leaving only two of the more powerful nations - Great Britain and France - in the organization. I do not mention Russia in this connexion because honorable senators opposite have invariably contended that Russia should be kept out of the comity of nations, and that we should have no truck with it.

Senator Dein:

– Are there not 48 other nations ?

Senator BROWN:

– Yes; there are nations like Ecuador, Peru, a few other South American States, Mexico, and a conglomeration of small States which have no force or power, and would not exercise any force or power in any struggle which might eventuate. Possibly, these same nations would run counter to the wishes of the League of Nations if the League became embroiled in a struggle with the object of preserving the peace of the world. Thus, the argument that 50 nations are members of the League is very weak. Undoubtedly, the main powers in it are France, Great Britain, and Italy, and for the last 30 years these three powers have been deeply involved in negotiations and activities for the economic partition of Abyssinia. Our people read in the press of these negotiations, agreements and understandings, and they naturally ask themselves in all innocence, whether these nations, in playing a leading partin the present activities of the League, are as disinterested as some supporters of the League would have us believe. Can we sincerely say that Great Britain, France and Italy could act in this matter entirely from disinterested motives? Is it not true that these countries have ratified certain treaties with respect to the economic partition of Abyssinia, and that they have fallen out over the matter; that such treaties were signed on the understanding that none of the signatories was to take any action in collaboration with another without informing the third party of its intention; that that undertaking was broken, and one of these parties indignantly attacked the other two, because they had committed such a breach? Honorable senators know that these are facts. Therefore, when the people of Australia are told that three of the most powerful nations are not members of the League, and that the three most powerful members of the League are quarrelling over the economic partition of Abyssinia, they are entitled to question the bona fides of those who say that the impending struggle is one to end war and bring about a reign of peace on earth. ‘The queries I have raised are being asked by the people.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– The honorable senator is saying these things himself without justification.

Senator BROWN:

– I declare that America, Japan, and Germany, which are three of the seven foremost powers of the world, are not members of the League. I point out that Italy has taken its present course contrary to the wishes of the other members of the League, with the result that, virtually, only two of the more important nations - excepting Russia - are left in the League. And history proves that those two nations have been economically interested in Abyssinia in the past. I do not mention these facts with the idea of reflecting on the attitude of Great Britain, or any other nation.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– Great Britain controls territory adjacent to Abyssinia.

Senator BROWN:

– It controls territory on three sides of Abyssinia ; in fact, Africa as a whole has been cut up, and is now practically governed and controlled by European nations. Abyssinia is practically the only remaining independent State.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– The honorable senator really suggests that Great Britain is acting in this matter from ulterior motives.

Senator BROWN:

– I object to such an inference being drawn from my remarks. The honorable senator’s interjection is stupid. It has to be admitted that every nation has to look after its economic interests, and because Britain is doing so I do not suggest that it is prompted by ulterior motives. Economic interests are vital to individuals as well as to nations. Because I state plain facts, no honorable senator is justified in saying that I impute ulterior motives to Great Britain. I am merely stating the position as I understand it, in an endeavour to explain why the Labour party says that, under all the circumstances, it is better for Australia not to join with other countries for the purpose of imposing sanctions on Italy. This is a plain, straightforward statement, and I fail to see how I can reasonably be charged with imputing ulterior motives to any nation. When an honorable senator discusses facts and realities, however unpalatable they may be to some people, it does not follow that he is resorting to underground tactics. All nations to-day are actuated in the main by economic circumstances, and the sooner this Government recognizes that fact the better. I do not intend to be humbugged by sentimentalists. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) put his side of the case well when he gave his reasons why the people of Australia should stand by the Government. Knowing that the Labour party had made a strong point of the fact that the United States of America is not a member of the League of Nations, the right honorable gentleman reminded us that that nation had passed a Neutrality Bill which practically amounted to sanctions against Italy, in that it prevented the export of arms to that country. Remembering also that Germany and Japan are not members of the League, he told us that Hitler had decided not to intervene and that Japan would remain neutral. There are economic reasons why the United States of America does not wish to be embroiled in European affairs. For many years that country refused to participate in the Great War, but eventually it decided to join the Allies against Germany. The actions of the United States of America are determined not so much by a high regard for peace as by the economic interests involved. Similarly Hitler’s neutrality in the present conflict is not due to his love of peace. He and his followers are among the most warlike people on earth. At the moment Hitler advocates German neutrality in the present conflict, not because he loves the League of Nations or desires peace, but because lie is of the opinion that the interest® of Germany can best be ‘advanced by adopting a neutral attitude. Much the same may be said truthfully of Japan. Although not now a member of the League of Nations, Japan is opposed to Italy. The reason may be found in the fact that Japan has an ever-increasing market in Abyssinia. Japan is not a peace-loving nation, for when economic circumstances necessitated action, it engaged in a war with China without even making a declaration of war. Honorable senators know what that nation did in Manchuria. The League of Nations was not particularly active in regard to that act of aggression, probably because the most powerful of its members were not interested in Manchuria. But had Great Britain and France been as interested in that territory as they are in Abyssinia, one wonders whether the League of Nations would not have adopted in regard to Japan’s aggression an attitude similar to that taken up by it in respect of Italy’s invasion of Abyssinia. The man in the street is asking why the League of Nations, which is so active in the Italo-Abyssinian dispute, was apparently little concerned with the invasion of Manchuria by Japan. The considered opinion of the Labour party is that some nations are not concerned so much with peace as with their economic interests. Indeed, under the existing economic system, that is only natural. The editorial columns of those newspapers which advocate sanctions inform us that there is a trend towards a policy of collective security. The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) said that a country could adopt a policy of isolation, or it could negotiate treaties with other countries in order to bring about a. balance of power or it could have collective security. In the present condition of the world, collective security is a will o’ the wisp. Collective security is only another way of expressing the old term, “ balance of power “. Great Britain, France and Russia are the principal nations which favour the application of sanctions against Italy, and it is possible that before the trouble is over, they may be mobilized against Italy. If collective security is to become an estab- lished fact, the League of Nations must include all the great powers of the world. I do not say that the League of Nations is not a great ideal, or that the policy of collective security is wrong, but I do say that any intensification of the existing antagonisms between nations must necessarily militate against the establishment of collective security. Unfortunately, pledges are sometimes lightly regarded by a nation whose economic interests are affected by them. So long as the present economic system obtains, nations will continue to be antagonistic, and collective security will be unattainable. In order to obtain an economic advantage in Abyssinia, Italy has thrown everything else overboard. The nation has been organized with a view to having its differences with other nations settled, not by peaceful means, but by war. The Labour party believes that Australia should not necessarily follow in the footsteps of Great Britain. On this subject there is a wide divergence of opinion. On the one hand, we are told that Australia, as a sovereign nation, can decide for itself what action it will take in the present dispute; and, on the other hand, it is stated that, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Australia is immediately involved in any war in which the King engages. We are also told that if the imposition of sanctions leads to war, all the nations which have imposed sanctions must participate in that war. We on this side say that Australia should decide for itself whether it will, or will not, follow Britain in the present dispute. The position would have been much clearer had the Government done its duty with regard to the Statute of Westminster. It has been most difficult to get a clear statement of Australia’s pOS: tion; but from a mass of conflicting statements on the subject it appears that if sanctions lead to war, Australia will become involved in the conflict. I realize that the Prime Minister has dismissed Mr. Hughes because he said truthfully in his book that sanctions lead to war. As a consequence of being f rank, he has been incontinently “ fired “ from the Government. As a Labour man opposed politically to Mr. Hughes, I say that in his stand he has the support of a great majority of the Australian people because he has the intestinal stamina to tell the people the truth. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and various honorable senators have hedged on this question. Mr. Hughes for having been courageous and truthful in his book, now occupies one of the back benches.

Senator Brennan:

– He could be courageous without being correct.

Senator BROWN:

– The cabinet door has been slammed in his face, and now he is only a private member of the United Australia party for having the temerity to speak his mind. Honorable senators have stated that sanctions will not lead to war. Presumably we shall deal with Italy gently. First we shall stop tanks, guns and ships from being sold to Italy, and then we shall cease lending money to that country, but always gently and inoffensively. Such a statement is so much camouflage. Australia does not export munitions, arms or ship?, nor does it lend money. On the contrary, it always seems to be borrowing. Therefore these sanctions, so far as our part in them is concerned, can have no influence on Italy. I desire to put on record what Mr. Hughes says in his book, Australia and War To-day -

All effective sanctions must be supported by adequate force. Economic sanctions which do not materially hamper Italy’s war-Hike operations arc not likely to deter her from aggression. If, on the other hand, sanction”! that cut off her supplies of food and raw materials and threaten her line of communication, are applied, she will use every means at her disposal to compel the nations responsible (o abandon them.

The implication is that Italy, on reaching a certain limit, will fight, but the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) and other Cabinet Ministers say that if this should happen the 50 nations applying the sanctions cannot be blamed. They may starve the Italian people and cutoff financial and material supplies, and if Italy should show resentment by force,, the fault will not be theirs. To use pugilistic parlance, 1 might hit a man in his “ bread-basket “, and then on the chin and black his eyes, but if he returns the punishment, he is to blame. Like Pontius Pilate, the sanction-imposing nations will wash their hands of all responsibility. Mr. Hughes continues -

Tn the highly strung mental state of the

Italian people this means resort to force. Italy’s air force is amongst the strongest in tho world. Its submarine forces in the Mediterranean are superior to those of Britain. Thousands of tons of British ships pas* through the Mediterranean every day. Malta is 50 miles from Sicily. In half an hour the Italian air squadrons could bomb the docks, dockyards and ships at anchor and rain down death and destruction on the island. Every British ship that attempted to run the gauntlet between Gibraltar and Suez would be exposed to great risks.

The latest press cables tell us that the Assembly of the League has agreed with the Council’s finding and adjudged Italy guilty of aggression. Sanctions are to be imposed. Tho nature of these has yet to be determined. But an economic blockade, more or less complete: the restriction of imports from Italy: the cutting off of foreign loans; the lifting of the embargo against export of arms to Abyssinia have been suggested. Unless Italy bows to the decision of the League, these or any sanctions imposed by the League can only be effective to the extent that they are backed by armed force. Assuming that Italy decides to persist in her thrust into Abyssinia, she is not likely to tamely submit to an economic blockade, but will endeavour to break through it. This, of course, means war.

Mr. Hughes has paid the penalty for being outspoken. Later on, if some of us commit similar indiscretions, we may be put in gaol under the Crimes Act. Mr. Hughes continued -

It is reported that 50 nations supported the motion which involves the imposition of sanctions. The part the great majority of these will play in the terrible conflict that may ensue is negligible. Wo are told that Haiti and Mexico are behind the League and will fulfil their obligations under the Covenant. But Mussolini will lose no sleep over that. Nor will he be greatly perturbed at M. Mottas’s rhetorical declaration that Switzerland will also fulfil her obligations - so far as her policy of “neutrality” permits! Neutrality! In these unsettled days the word is more blessed than Mesopotamia! No doubt many others of the noble band that valiantly stood in the Assembly of the League for the cause of right will find reasons for their absence from the arena of conflict. We must rid ourselves of all illusions. With the exception of France and Russia, the support that all the nations will, or can, give to Britain to enforce sanctions is not worth a snap of the fingers.

We must pay heed to the opinions of so prominent a man as Mr. Hughes.

Senator Dein:

– Would the honorable senator be guided by Mr. Hughes’ vote?

Senator BROWN:

– Because I take notice of his opinions, it does not follow that I shall copy his every action.

Senator Collett:

– Then why does the honorable senator quote Mr. Hughes as an authority unless he believes in him?

Senator BROWN:

– I repeat that because Mr. Hughes holds certain views and I quote them, it does not follow that I shall adopt any line of action he may take. But Mr. Hughes is an ex-Prime Minister, until recently a Minister in the present Government, and a member of the United Australia party, the Government must think deeply over what he says. Mr. Hughes is solidly backing the league of some nations, even to the extent of war, and he has been plucky enough to say it. The Labour party’s objection is that the Government has not been similarly frank. Mr. Lloyd George, one of the greatest statesmen, a contemporary Prime Minister with Mr. Hughes, holds the same opinion as he does. One of the greatest of English editors, Mr. J. L. Garvin, has also made a similar statement in regard to sanctions leading to war, and he believes that if the sanctions are carried out as the League expects, war will occur in Europe. Mr. Garvin says -

Any action by Great Britain that would spread the Abyssinian war to Europe would be the utmost crime against God and humanity.

The Labour party in this chamber and the great mass of workers are influenced by statements made by authorities like Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Garvin, and Mr. Hughes. It cannot be argued that,because they are supporting the Labour movement in its antagonism to the imposition of sanctions, they are seeking to safeguard their lives and that they are cowards. Many of the soldiers who fought and suffered in the Great War are supporters of the Labour party’s attitude. Because we have adopted this attitude to sanctions, honorable senators should not gain the impression that we are a collection of pacifists who would not fight under any circumstances. The Labour movement stands for the adequate defence of Australia, and any man worthy of his name would, if Australia were attacked, defend its shores against the invader. Not only have Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Garvin, and Mr. Hughes caused in the minds of the people certain disturbing thoughts about the consequences of sanctions, but they have also made other statements which cause the public to feel that there is more behind the present matter than sanctions. Surely Mr. Lloyd George would not speak without his book.


Mr. Lloyd George has spoken several times without his book!

Senator BROWN:

Mr. Lloyd George is a man of high character, and his motives cannot be impugned by any honorable senator. He has made certain statements that have had a disturbing influence on the minds of many people who are thinking over this great problem. He went so far as to say that the Prime Minister of France (Monsieur Laval) had made arrangements with Signor Mussolini months ago regarding the impositions of sanctions, and that they had reached an agreement as to the extent to which sanctions should be applied. He says -

I am not the only one to suspect that. Mussolini has already negotiated these sanctions with the French Premier.

Ordinary working people, when they read that a man like Mr. Lloyd George has made such a statement, begin to ask themselves what is behind it all. Can there be collective security when several major powers are outside the League, and when the most important business of the League itself is transacted behind its back? Only a few months ago Great Britain and Germany came to an understanding with regard to naval strengths, as the result of which Germany is allowed to build up to 35 per cent. of British naval tonnage. This agreement caused a good deal of misgiving on the part of other European powers, and they were not slow to indicate their displeasure. Mr. Lloyd George stated, further that these sanctions were arranged to preserve the respectability of the League’s authority for future use, and that, following their imposition, Germany and Austria would continue to trade with Italy, so that huge supplies of the world’s commodities would be shipped through those countries into Italy. I ask leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

Senate adjourned at 4.3 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 November 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.