16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Air consider the possibility of the Australianbuilt Beaufort bomber, which put up an excellent performance recently, being taken on a flight to Tasmania ?
– I shall consider the matter very favorably, and I hope that I shall be able to arrange for the bomber to be taken to that State within the next week or so. If the matter can be arranged, I shall let the honorable senator know the date on which the bomber will arrive.
SenatorUPPILL (South Australia) [2.33]. - by leave - I move -
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Allan MacDonald on account of ill health.
In support of the motion, I informhonorable senators that I have received the following telegram from Senator Allan MacDonald dated the 19th August: -
Have only arrived home by sea from Canberrra Hospital few days ago. Repatriation doctors Canberra andPerth strongly advise me to avoid long train journeys for several weeks. Therefore unable attend Parliament to-morrow. Would appreciate if you would kindly move for leave of absence. Medical certificate lodged with Commonwealth Works Office, Perth, yesterday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– It is with great regret that I announce to the Senate the death in England yesterday of Viscount Stonehaven, who was Governor-General of Australia from 1925 to 1930. Viscount Stonehaven before becoming Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, had had a. lengthy diplomatic and political career in Great Britain. As an officer of the diplomatic service he had been in Vienna, Cairo, Abyssinia, Paris and Buenos Aires. In the Great War of 1914-18 he served as an intelligence officer, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. During his parliamentary service he was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office from 1919 to 1922, and from 1922 to 1924 he held office in the United Kingdom Government as Minister for Transport and First Commissioner of Works. During his term of office as Governor-General in Australia, the Commonwealth Parliament was opened at Canberra by HisRoyal Highness the Duke of York, our present King. Viscount Stonehaven worthily upheld the dignity of the high office of Governor-General. His parliamentary and ministerial experience contributed materially to his successful occupancy of the office, and in all his public work he was ably supported by Viscountess Stonehaven. Australians retain happy memories of Viscount Stonehaven’s term of office, and are grateful for the continued interest which he had since maintained in Australian affairs. I invite honorable senators to join in expressing sincere sympathy with Viscountess Stonehaven and family in their bereavement. I move -
That the Senate records its profound regret at the death of the Right Honorable Viscount Stonehaven. P.C., G.C.M.G. a former GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth of Australia, and expresses its deep sympathy with Viscountess Stonehaven and family in their bereavement.
– The Opposition wishes to he associated with the remarks of the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) regarding the passing of theRight Honorable Viscount Stonehaven, who was the representative of the British Government in the Commonwealth from 1925 to 1930. Although I had very little acquaintance with the work of the deceased gentleman, I met him in Canberra on the occasion of the opening of the Commonwealth Parliament here in May, 1927. I was not then a member of this Senate, but was a delegate to a conference held in Canberra at that time. We appreciate the valuable work of the late Viscount Stonehaven in the Commonwealth, and we are aware ofhis distinguished career in other parts of the world on behalf of the country he so ably represented. We regret the passing of one more of the servants of the Empire, and we join in the expression of sympathy to Viscountess Stonehaven and family, in which I am sure every honorable senator concurs.
-The Country Party desires to be associated with this motion of condolence. Viscount Stonehaven was Governor-General of Australia when I was a member of the Commonwealth Government, and I met him on many occasions during that period. He had a distinguished career, and we regret the death of a man who was the chosen representative of the King in Australia. We extend our sincere sympathy to Viscountess Stonehaven and family in their bereavement.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– Will the Leader of the Senate state whether the Government has come to any decision with regard to the erection of a second telephone line between Port Augusta and Perth? Is the Government aware that the present single line is overloaded and that telephonic communication between Western Australia and the other States can be carried on at present only with difficulty?
– I took the matter up with the Defence Department following my visit to Western. Australia as
Postmaster-General, and I understand that, in response to requests by Senator E. B. Johnston and other Western Australian members, it has received favorable consideration. I do not know where this matter stands in the order of priority, but I shall ascertain the position. If the honorable senator will place a question on the notice-paper, I shall see that a considered reply is furnished by the PostmasterGeneral.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce been drawn to a press paragraph that there is an acute shortage of apples in Australia, that the Apple and Pear Board had expressed doubt as to whether an order received from the East could be fulfilled, and that in consequence the people concerned were contemplating importing apples from Canada? In view of the heavy apple crop in Australia this year, and the loss of the export trade, will the Minister institute a searching inquiry as to whether an acute shortage exists, and later make a statement on the subject to the Senate ?
– I shall call the attention of the Minister for Commerce to the remarks of the honorable senator.
Official History, Volume No. 6
– Can the Minister for Repatriation say what is the latest “furphy” in regard to the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914- 1918, Volume No. 6?
– Having breathed the same atmosphere as the honorable senator for some time, I understand his question. I am unable to give any definite information as to when Volume No. 6 of the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918 will appear.
– There isa shortage this year in Tasmania.
ON asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
With reference to the Minister’s reply to a question by Senator Clothier on the 1st July (Hansard, page 569) in which are set out (i) fees, (ii) expenses and (iii) fares paid on account of or to the Western Australian representatives on the Australian Wheat Board, will the Minister supply simi lar detailed information regarding the payments to each of the other members of the board for the same period?
Senator McBRIDE. - The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answer : -
The amounts paid to members of the Australian Wheat Board, other titan Western Australian representatives, are as follows: -
asked the Minister for Information, upon notice -
Senator McLEAY. - The press does not make any charge on the Department of Information for the publication of its photographs. No charge is made by the commercial (B class) broadcasting stations for broadcasting material supplied by the Department of Information.
ON asked the Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
In view of the decision of the Government to increase the size and scope of the new small arms munitions factory in Tasmania, will the new munitions factory to be established at Welshpool, Western Australia, be similarly enlarged?
Senator McBRIDE. - Yes. The plans now provide for a factory as large again as that originally contemplated, and further extensions are being considered.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Minister supply the names of the gentlemen whose services are being used by the Government but whose remuneration is not entirely paid by the Government?
Senator McLEAY. - The information is being obtained and will be supplied to the honorable senator at as early a date as possible.
– What about the control of the coal-mining industry and of shipping?
– I maintain that nothing has been done that brings Australia nearer to an all-in war effort. Immediately on the outbreak of war, any sane government would have declared a state of national emergency, and would have taken control of all such matters as shipping and the coal industry. It would not have waited until the last fortnight to take such action. The category of political crimes of which the present Government is guilty is so lengthy that I do not wish to be faced this afternoon with the task of reciting it.
I do not desire to be disrespectful to the Prime Minister, nor do I underestimate his qualities. I am aware that nobody can make more delightful afterdinner speeches than he, and I know of no gentleman who can make such rosecoloured promises to Australia and yet fail so dismally to give effect to any one of them. The only problem we are asked to solve by this latest statement of the right honorable gentleman, is that of how best to get rid of the Prime Minister because his own political friends have become tired of him, both inside Parliament and outside it. Certain interests in this country have made up their minds that the Prime Minister must go to London. The reason advanced in the syndicated press is that the Prime Minister’s presence in London is essential, but, public opinion in Australia, having failed to respond to this suggestion, because of the known capacity of the Labour party in both branches of this Parliament and elsewhere, the Government now adopts this new method of getting over its political difficulties. I maintain that no member of the present Government has reason to be proud of the part it is playing in party politics to-day. Yesterday, in the House of Representatives, one heard certain statements made. No critics on the Labour side could have said more caustic or unkind things about their leader than were said about the Prime Minister by members of parties supporting the Government.
A few days ago a crisis had arisen with regard to the position in the Pacific as it affects Australia. In the course of his statement yesterday, the Prime Minister said -
In the Far East, the military occupation of French Indo-China by Japan has produced acute international complications. The move was regarded, both by the British Empire and the United States of America, as an unjustified act of aggression in a direction which was plainly of concern to both British and American vital interests. Counter-measures of an economic kind were therefore adopted, with substantial effects upon Japanese oversea trade. Subsequently, Japan has been in discussion with Thailand, the importance of which will be at once clear to all honorable members who glance at the map.
We have glanced at the map, and I am sure that honorable senators opposite have done so. We realize that the position is serious, and that the safety of Australia is definitely threatened by the moves being made southward by a certain country. Although this dangerous position is emphasized, and although it is so serious that it is felt that a definite move must be made to transfer the Prime Minister to London, what do I find? The Prime Minister himself is not impressed with the seriousness of the situation. If I believed that it was imperative in the interests of Australia that 1 should go to London, I should certainly go there, and I should make that a political issue. But what does the Prime Minister do? In the ministerial statement read to the Senate to-day the following passage occurred : -
The colleagues of the Prime Minister in the Cabinet have, as a result of recent discussions, asked him to pay another visit to London. Having regard to the balance of parties in Parliament, he has indicated that it would not be practicable for him to go abroad at present, except with the approval of all parties.
Apparently he does not believe that the situation is serious, and therefore he wants a “ get-out “, because he had a very shrewd idea that all parties would not agree to his going to London. A strong leader would have said : “ So convinced am I that my presence in London is necessary for adequate representation in Great Britain of the needs of this country and of its overseas forces in the different theatres of the war, that I intend to go.” But having counted heads, the Prime Minister said : “ I am not going unless all parties agree “. He may as well have said : “ I know that all parties would not agree, and therefore I am not going “.
I have always been proud of the political movement to which I belong, and I was never more proud of the Opposition in this Parliament than I was at a caucus meeting this morning, when the following decision was arrived at: -
The Labour party declares -
That, having regard to the gravity of the war as it affects the Commonwealth, it is essential for Australia to have its Prime Minister here to direct the administration in the organization of a total war effort, and, therefore, we are opposed to the present proposal that the Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, should proceed to London as Prime Minister.
The next part of the declaration reads -
That declaration was agreed to by an overwhelming majority of the Parliamentary Labour party. It will go out to the people of Australia to-day, and, in my opinion, will be endorsed by them as a proper Australian decision regarding an Australian problem.
.- Yes, and I shall supply the Minister with a copy of it for future reference.
– We declare that arrangements should be made with the British Government for representation of the Commonwealth Government in England, so as to ensure that its point of view with respect to war policy will be constantly before the British War Cabinet.
.- I have only a limited time in which to make my speech, and the paragraph that I have read is couched in very simple language.
– Whatever kind of representation the Commonwealth Government likes to send, so long as it keeps its alleged leader here to see that Australia is protected against the possibilities which are said to be so serious. If. honorable senators opposite cannot understand such a simple declaration, the fault is not mine. I challenge the Government’s sincerity when it demands anything of the British Government. There is no proof, as far as the Opposition’s contact with this Government is concerned, that it has the capacity to do anything except say “ ditto “ to Downingstreet’s “yes”. This is not merely the statement of a biased political leader of an opposing party. In 1931 the Statute of Westminster was deliberately passed, not by Australia, but by the British Parliament, as head of the British Commonwealth of Nations, in order to give proper status to the dominions; but the present Commonwealth Government is so satisfied to be merely the tail that the dog wags that it has never even sought to have that statute ratified, which would have given full dominionstatus to Australia.
– The honorable senator’s perspicacity is marvellous ! The Government does not feel sufficiently concerned about Australia to accept the offer that has been made to it. Like any other law, the Statute of Westminster does not become operative in Australia until it has been adopted and proclaimed. What wouldthat statute confer? Among other things, that statute provided for -
The Government did not take the trouble to do anything about shipbuilding until a week or two ago.
– I am prepared to amend that statement, and to say that the Government did not do anything about shipbuilding until a month or two ago.
– It is true that a Government of which the present Government is the direct lineal descendant did take some action in regard to shipping. It sabotaged the Australian shipping industry, as honorable senators opposite know.
Senator Spicer said that the present situation would not be affected by the adoption of the Statute of Westminster. Had that statute been adopted and proclaimed, the Government would have indicated that it was prepared to accept the measure of self-government which the Parliament of Great Britain offered to Australia. Instead, however, the Government of the day was so churlish that it did not even say “ thank you “. In effect, the “ Mother of Parliaments “ said to its sons in different parts of the world : “ Boys, you are now grown up. Youare 21 years of age, and here is the key of the front door.” The reply to that offer was as good as to say, “Don’t bother about us. We don’t care whether we get in by the front door, or the back door, or whether we never see the old home again.” The Home Government was, in effect, told that Australia did not want full dominion status. Now the Prime Minister tells us that the Government of Great Britain will not accept any person other than the Prime Minister, even though this Parliament decided to send him to the Old Country to put Australia’s case.
– He said that the Government of Great Britain would not permit any person other than the Prime Minister to represent Australia in the deliberations of the War Cabinet. Honorable senators opposite know that that is the only inference which can be drawn from the Prime Minister’s statement. I believe that the Government of the United Kingdom will accept, from a selfgoverning dominion, any Minister whom the government of that dominion selects to go to England to put its view. I do not want to see the Prime Minister of Australia go to London. I have several reasons for making that statement, not one of which is personal. I do not want him to go to London because the Prime Minister, in addition to being Prime Minister, is Minister for Defence Coordination. In that capacity, his right place in a time of national emergency is in Australia. He cannot do his duty as Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Co-ordination unless he remains in Australia. I do not believe that the Government of the Old Country would refuse to accept any representative of Australia other than the person holding the position of Prime Minister. Another reason why I do not wish the Prime Minister to go to London is that I do not think that he is sufficiently effective to represent Australia there. If honorable senators opposite want evidence of the Prime Minister’s ineffectiveness, I can supply it, but I do not wish to go into too much detail in this matter. I will say, however, that I do not know of any man who has ever aspired to the Prime Ministership of this country who has been so unable to make a decision and stick to it, in spite of everything that may happen, as the present Prime Minister. Ministers opposite, together with their colleagues in another place, must know a good deal about this indecisiveness of the Prime Minister. Private members of Parliament have this matter brought before them whenever they reach their home towns or come in contact with their constituents in the federal members’ rooms in their several States. In every major matter, the Government is muddling and bungling the war effort. In saying that, I do not wish to detract from the value of some of the things which have been accomplished during the last twenty months.
.- Whilst the Government has done some very fine things in connexion with this country’s war effort, it started so late that it is still in a hopeless muddle. .It is only now adopting planks from the platform of the Australian Labour party which John Curtin, the Leader of the Australian Labour party, announced in his policy speech in 1937. Only now is the Government beginning to realize that the criticism by the Labour party in this chamber of the cost-plus profit basis of defence contracts was right. So sure is the Government now that the Labour party was right when it opposed that system, that the Minister this morning was obliged to apologize when he said that the Government had decided to abandon the system.
– I know that the Government is not abandoning it entirely. It does not dare to make the damaging admission that the Labour party was right in this matter. And so the Government says : “ The position in connexion with cost-plus profit contracts is difficult and complicated. We are not abandoning it, because we do not know of any other system by which small contractors will get a share of Government work. We have, however, discovered that the system is not what we thought it was “.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The Government is now trying to shuffle out of the position into which it has muddled. I do not envy Ministers at the present time.I realize the difficulties confronting them; but can any honorable senator point to one major administrative action of the Government which has been successful? I do not now refer to Australia’s manufacturing achievements, because those achievements have been successful as the result of the efforts made by the men in dungarees. I refer to the administrative acts of the Government. The Government has shown clearly that it has not the administrative capacity to carry out a total war effort. I mention its failure in connexion with liquid fuel control as an instance.
– I suggest that the honorable senator should not throw out a challenge of that sort. It reminds me of the small boy who whistled when he passed a cemetery. He did not know at what time the ghosts would walk and so he whistled to keep up his courage. The honorable senator should not start to whistle too soon. In all probability, he will not have long to whistle.
– I cannot say that I look forward with pleasant anticipation to the task which would confront a Labour government; but if the Labour party could not provide a better total all-in effort for Australia than the present Government has provided, then it should keep out of office for the rest of its political life.
– There is no subtlety about the proposal at all.
– That is so. The proposal is so crude that any one can see through it. Recently, the Prime Minister planned an election tour of Australia. He got as far as keeping his appointment in two, or, perhaps, three States, but then he dramatically cancelled all further arrangements that had been made. We were told that important cablegrams had come to hand, and wild-eyed messengers were to be seen flitting from place to place trying to get in touch with the Prime Minister. When he was found, he was so overwhelmed by the tragedy of the situation that he cancelled the rest of his trip and called a hurried meeting of Cabinet. This afternoon, we were told that the result of that meeting was that the Prime Minister would not go to London unless all parties agreed to his going. He was so uncertain about his decision that he called a meeting of members of the United Australia party. Honorable gentlemen opposite know that there is not a United Australia party government in Australia. The present Government is a composite one, consisting of members of the United Australia party and the United Country party.
– The Prime Minister refused to allow members of the Country party to participate in the discussion. He said : “ I shall consult with the United Australia party members of the Government, but not with any one else “. Honorable senators opposite should not imagine that I hold any brief for those of their colleagues who have said rude things to the Prime Minister. I do not agree with them. Indeed, I trust them so little that I think I can understand their motives; and I do not think that their motives are particularly creditable. The fact remains, however, that the Prime Minister was so uncertain of his position that he refused to admit to the meeting any personswho had not been hand-picked.
– I repeat that the present Government is a composite Administration consisting of members of the United Australia and United Country parties. The Prime Minister called a meeting, but he said to members of the United Country party: “You boys must keep out; only the good lads - members of the United Australia party - will be allowed in”.
.- Of course it was. But leadership of the United Austtralia party means also the Prime Ministership of Australia, so long as a composite government exists. I remind honorable senators opposite that I am not exactly an innocent abroad, and am not easily led up a garden path and left there.
– Indicate one inaccurate statement that I have made.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham). - Order! I ask the Leader of the Opposition to address the Chair.
– Honorable senators opposite will not find a Labour government sending its Prime Minister to London during war-time.
.- I made no reference to the last war; I said that no Labour government in this country will send its Prime Minister to London during war-time. However, a Labour government would send an able Australian advocate to London to participate in the deliberations of the British War Cabinet. We have our plans completed for the transition from this side of the chamber to the government side should the occasion arise; we have that administrative capacity and a definite plan of action which are so seriously lacking in the present Government. As the result of the administrative shortcomings of the Government the people of Australia lack the necessary inspiration for an all-in war effort. They naturally say “ Let some other government which is capable of inspiring us to a maximum war effort, a government which will not make unfair concessions to the wealthy and demand sacrifices only from the masses, take over the reins of office “. So long as the wealthy few are permitted to continue to get their rake-off and make huge profits, so long as the present Government continues to bolster up big business, just so long will the people refuse to pull together in an all-in war effort. We do not believe that the Prime Minister of this country should go to London; we believe that he should stay here and endeavour to inspire and encourage the people to the greatest possible war effort of which this country is capable. At the same time we believe that Australia should have in London, taking part in the deliberations of the British War Cabinet, a capable advocate familiar with Australian needs and desires as expressed through its Government. That is the reason why we came to the resolution agreed to this morning; that is the reason why I commend the statement I have made this afternoon to the serious consideration of the Government. I trust that the Government will see that the Prime Minister stays here and accepts his full responsibilities to the Australian people for the protection of this Commonwealth.
– The Labour party did not want to send Australian soldiers abroad.
– That is so. The Labour party now says that it regards Singapore as the front line in the defence of Australia. Do its spokesmen now <>ay that unless the proposal to send a delegate to London is accepted by the British Government it will withdraw Australian troops from Singapore and Malaya? Such a suggestion as has been made by the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon would never be conceived by any one with even the very remotest idea of the conduct of diplomatic affairs between the dominions and the Mother Country. The honorable senator claims that his party has co-operated with the Government in all matters affecting the prosecution of the war, particularly in the appropriation of funds to finance the war effort. Members of the Opposition have voted in favour of the appropriation of money for certain purposes, but that is all they have done. Almost every proposal put up by the Government with a view to the equitable distribution of the burden of financing the Australian war effort has been scorned by the Opposition. Because of its numerical strength the Opposition has, in many cases, been able to get its own way. Because of its urgent need the Government has often been forced to bow its knee to the Opposition.
– It is fair to say that the Opposition has co-operated with the Government only to the extent of passing the necessary measures to provide the money to finance the war. It has not accepted any responsibility for the raising of the necessary funds to prosecute the war.
.- If I have been unfair to Mr. Curtin I am sorry, because I have the greatest . admiration for him I feel sure that he would not make a speech, such as we have listened to this afternoon from the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber. Mr. Curtin 13 too astute and has too great an understanding of the realities of the situation to make a speech such as we have listened to this afternoon from the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber.
– In ten minutes Mr. Curtin has done more towards helping the Government in its war effort than the whole of the deliberations of the War Council over many months have done.
.- Is he Labour’s spokesman? Every time I see a proposition of this kind being brought forward I realize that he is no longer the spokesman of his party. Mr. Curtin has been openly defied by other members of his party and of the Australian Advisory War Council. The honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), the new idol of the Labour party, takes every opportunity presented to him to proclaim from the housetops and through the newspapers and broadcasting stations that he speaks for the Labour movement. He contradicts his leader and deprecates him as much as he can on every possible occasion. That is the sort of co-operation that exists among the members of the Labour party. In contrast to what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber this afternoon let us consider the fine manly statement made by Mr. Curtin in connexion with this matter. After consultation with the Prime Minister, and after the facts of the international situation had been fully and faithfully placed before him, Mr. Curtin agreed that the presence of the Australian Prime
Minister in London was urgently necessary. Immediately following that pronouncement other members of the Labour party began their efforts to displace him from the leadership of the party. We have only to remember the baying of the hounds when, during the last election, itseemed likely that Mr. Curtin would lose the Fremantle seat. One gentleman who had not had even five minutes parliamentary experience, jumped in immediately and in effect said, “I am the heaven-sent leader of the Labour party. I shall take on this job “.
am). - The honorable senator must not accuse the Minister of making an untrue statement
– The correction of the honorable senator is accepted. Apparently Senator Large wishes to become the interjector-general of the Labour party. When he gains a little more parliamentary experience he will appreciate that there are certain rules of debate of which he has no knowledge at present.
The Leader of the Opposition also suggested - and I assume that it is the considered opinion of his party - that Parliament should be in session constantly for hourly and daily consultation. Could anything ‘be more foolish? Does the honorable senator imagine that the big job which this Government has to do can be carried out effectively by means of hourly and daily consultation with members of other parties? Does he assume that the gigantic task of making an effective war effort oan be done entirely in Canberra? Does he think that the Prime Minister and Ministers do not have to attend their offices and administer their departments? Does he imagine, for one moment, that owing to some form of super-organization, all governmental activities run smoothly?
– It is obvious that the Leader of the Opposition does make these assumptions when he claims that Ministers should be in daily and hourly consultation with Parliament. God help me if I have to be in daily and hourly consultation with honorable senators opposite. I am prepared to give the fullest consideration to representations made by any honorable senator, and I am prepared to accept cheerfully whatever sound advice is given; but to suggest that I should sit in daily and hourly consultation with honorable senators opposite, and listen to a constant flow of deprecatory remarks about my department and my administration, is something which I should not be prepared to countenance in any circumstances. Such a system would be absolutely hopeless and. the Leader of the Opposition knows it.
– The Leader of the Opposition prides himself on his choice of words and his clarity of expression. EEc claims to be able to put things so clearly that even “ nit-wits “ can understand them.
.- Because of the alleged clarity of his expression and the eminence of his intellect, the honorable senator must accept some of the blame for any misunderstanding which may have arisen. Apparently his clarity of expression is not as good as he believes it to be and that, must be a terrible blow to him.
That any one with a knowledge of business or administration could seriously suggest that Parliament should be in session constantly passes my understanding. I freely concede that honorable senators on either side of the chamber have a right to voice whatever criticism they consider to be justified, but surely a certain degree of moderation should be observed. Miraculous though it may sewn, I am afraid that the free flow of criticism would discontinue if Parliament were constantly in session. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Prime Minister did not believe that his presence in London was ‘necessary because he was not prepared to go without the consent of all parties. The honorable senator added that if Labour were in power and ite Prime Minister thought it necessary to go to London, he would go without consulting other political parties. That is an invitation which must be seriously considered by Cabinet and by the Prime Minister. In the face of such a clear expression by the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber uo doubt Cabinet will review the matter iD a new light. Whilst I cannot speak for the Prime Minister or for other members of the Cabinet, my own personal feeling is that the Leader of the Opposition is right.
– The Prime Minister wanted to make a truce before going to England.
– Honorable senators opposite are reading into the Prime Minister’s declaration a meaning which was not intended. It was not the Prime Minister himself who made up his mind about this matter. I do not think any barm can be done by informing honorable senators that ‘Cabinet’s decision that the Prime Minister should go to London was made in the absence of the right honorable gentleman, who did not express any opinion upon the matter at all. I know that to be the case because I was present at the meeting.
– I am inclined to agree with the honorable senator. The Leader of the Opposition has suggested - no doubt, as a responsible declaration on behalf of his party - that the Government should do what it thinks is right, and I feel that that might be very good advice. As a matter of fact, that suggestion was the only bright jewel in the entire speech of the Leader of the Opposition. However, it is useless arguing in this way because the minds of honorable senators opposite have already been made up for them by their colleagues in the House of Representatives. Nothing I can say here will have the slightest effect, no matter how silvery voiced I may be or what clarity of expression I achieve. Now that Parliament is in session, honorable senators have a chance to say what they like, but so far the only gem in the utterances that have been made was the statement that the presence of the Prime Minister in
Australia was absolutely necessary, and that be was the man to carry on while Australia was in danger.
– It has not been suggested that the right honorable gentleman should remain in London indefinitely. I remind honorable senators that during the last war the then Prime Minister, the present right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), visited England on two occasions.
– I am quite aware of what happened to Mr. Hughes, both in England and when he returned to this country, and I know that the right honorable gentleman carried on as Prime Minister for the duration of the war. When he did go to England he remained away for a considerable time. I am raising this matter only because there seems to be considerable doubt in the minds of some people that the deputy Prime Minister would be able to carry on in this country with .full powers of government. I point out that during the absence of the then Prime Minister during the last war, the deputy Prime Minister had full control of affairs in Australia and, to the best of my recollection, on one occasion he even dismissed a Minister who had been appointed by Mr. Hughes. On two other occasions action which Mr. Hughes wanted to take in London was vetoed by Cabinet in Australia. Therefore, any idea that the Ministry in this country would not have full powers of government in the absence of the Prime Minister is altogether without foundation. In view of my relationship to the Prime Minister, I hesitate to speak of him, but I consider that I am quite capable of gauging dispassionately the capabilities of any man, and I say quite emphatically and calmly that the Prime Minister is the biggest man in Australia at the present time. I go further and say that he is one of the three biggest men in the Empire. This constant deprecation of the political leader of the Australian people by newspapers and other critics who are fouling their own nests to the detriment of the people in this country is something which I cannot understand.
– What were the proportions of British and Australian casualties?
– I am not concerned with that aspect; one casualty, if it be ill-spent, is bad enough. The Government may have been justified in participating in the Greek campaign, because it could only honour its pledge by doing so, but no justification existed at all for its decision to allow Australian soldiers to participate so poorly equipped in the Crete campaign. The men and women of Australia will, perhaps, have an opportunity, in the near future, to pass judgment on that decision. Whoever the Government sends as its representative to London, he should not be the Prime Minister. I ask honorable senators to visualize the psychological effect on the people of Great Britain were His Majesty the King to leave Britain to-morrow, and go to America.
– But he did not stay there. When the Prime Minister returned from his visit to London he told us that in Canada he attended a conference at which it was proposed that an Imperial Conference be held, and that the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. MacKenzie King) opposed’ that proposal, The Prime Minister, on his return to Australia, indicated his desire to return to London as soon as possible. In the ensuing months, however, due, perhaps, to certain action taken by some of his followers, as well as to certain press propaganda, the Government’s position was rendered unstable. Apparently fearing a political crisis, the Prime Minister, with the approval of Cabinet, decided to make a tour of Australia. In this connexion I point out to the Minister for Aircraft Production that, despite the heavy responsibilities resting upon the shoulders of the Prime Minister, which he went to great pains to emphasize, the right honorable gentleman was able to undertake that tour. The tour was actually commenced and carried through as far as Adelaide. The Prime Minister then suddenly announced that he was obliged to cancel the rest of the tour. In the Sydney newspapers we were told that the crisis in the Pacific was so serious that the Prime Minister had to cancel his tour and call Cabinet together.
– But nothing was known in London or New York that the position had further deteriorated. The British Government and President Roosevelt were perturbed about the announcement. The fact that action was contemplated by the Prime Minister in the shape of a political tour brought from his own supporters the announcement that there had been a meeting in Sydney, of which the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) was informed, and that it had been decided to bring about .an industrial crisis on which an election could be fought. Those who speak about “ the diabolical game of politics “ are the first to take advantage of a political situation, even at a time of extreme national crisis. The honorable member for Martin “ blew the gaff “, because the statement was published in the Melbourne and Sydney press that an industrial crisis was to be created in order to provide an election issue favorable to the United Australia party and the Country party. Whatever may be the shortcomings of the Prime Minister is beside the point. All I say is that, whoever the Prime Minister happens to be, he should remain in Australia.
The Minister for Aircraft Production told us of the great work that had been done by the present Government. He said that it had increased employment, but any government could have done that in the present circumstances. Increased employment has been brought about chiefly as a result of war expenditure, and the Government cannot be complimented upon any great achievement in that regard. It has not succeeded in reducing the profits of wealthy companies which are showing dividends of 15 per cent. What has it done in regard to the profits of Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited? The people of this country insist that the Government should control profits, and wish to know when that will be done. I am in agreement with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that the present Prime Minister is the most competent man on his side of the House, but I claim that he should not go to London as Prime Minister. If the Government desires to send a representative there, the responsibility for doing so rests entirely upon its shoulders.
– Did the member of the British Cabinet say that the Prime Minister should go to London?
– I hear some twittering, as from the sparrows in the trees. Britain is loyal to us and we are loyal to it; but when some definite action has to be taken by the British War Cabinet in the interests of this country, or by the representatives of our democratic friends across the Pacific, it is dictated in London, in the heart of the Empire. It is there that our representative should be, if he is to see to the defence of Australia and to the assistance that can be obtained from the Mother Country and the other dominions. It is not for me to suggest the proper course to take. I have suggested it to this country more than once, and I have not been listened to. We in Australia and New Zealand are so few in number that the interests of our people could be best served if our Prime Minister were present at the heart of the Empire, where the higher war strategy is determined. The best results are not obtained by cablegram or telephonic communication, but by personal contact. Surely Australia should be represented where the ultimate command goes out, and where the most vital decisions are made.
AN.- Honorable senators opposite who are playing the game of party politics in this matter would have it bruited abroad that there is some conspiracy by the Prime Minister’s followers in the Cabinet to force him in some direct way, whereas we are assured by Ministers that their unanimous wish is that he should go to London and still remain Prime Minister. At a time like this, a whispering campaign or the suggestion that some person has an ulterior purpose is unworthy of us as the chosen representatives of the free people of Australia. It is our duty to take every step to keep them free. Surely, one step is that our first citizen, the Prime Minister of this country, whatever his name may be, should be at the heart of the Empire to voice the needs of Australia in this dark hour. I say to honorable senators that there are people listening to us to-day who would like to see divided counsel among us. The question is asked : “ Why should Mr. Menzies go to England?” I have been in the heart of the Empire as a Minister. I was received with every courtesy and consideration; I was feted; everything possible was done for me. But one has to absorb the atmosphere of the Old Country just as one has to absorb the atmosphere of Australia and of this Parliament.
AN.- The Government of Britain is a composite Government consisting of representatives of the party to which the interjector belongs as well as of other parties. Its members come from families which have given great service to the Empire and to democracy. Members of all political parties are united in the effort to defeat the most powerful force that has ever threatened to overwhelm the world. We must face the facts. We may have to ask for naval or military assistance, because we cannot protect ourselves without assistance. All parts of the Empire are in this fight together. It is an all-in war. The Labour party has pledged itself to an all-in effort, yet some of its members quibble because Cabinet has said that Mr. Menzies should go to London. If I had the power to do so, I should say: “Mr. Menzies will go to London and the people of Australia may judge whether he is right or wrong in doing so “. Although honorable senators opposite know how impotent Australia would be if left to fight alone, yet, when the Government suggests what it believes to be the most practical step to further the interests of Australia, we hear whisperings, party politics and bickering. Words are thrown across the chamber and questions asked as to what has been done, or has not been done. I wish to impress on honorable senators the futility of this sort of conduct. The present alinement of nations is of supreme importance to Australia, and every effort, both diplomatic and practical, should be made for our protection. We need the co-operation of others ; we need the best intelligence that can be applied to measures for our protection. The Leader of the Government for the time being is the most suitable man to send abroad. I hold no brief for Mr. Menzies as such, but I do hold a brief for him as leader of the Australian people, the Prime Minister of this country for the time being. His presence in London as Prime Minister of this dominion is an entirely different thing from his presence in London as Mr. Menzies, a member of the House of Representatives, however eminent he may bc in his profession or respected in politics. At such a time, we should not discuss such matters as the adoption of the Statute of Westminster. What does ii, matter whether that statute was, or was not, adopted? We are in the same position to-day as if it had been adopted. I point out that we cannot fight a war bv means of the syndicated press or of
Senator A. J. Mclachlan. the Statute of Westminster, because those things do not supply guns, ships, torpedoes, shells, bayonets, or the other things necessary for our defence. It is useless at this time of crisis to talk about such things . as the Statute of Westminster, however important they may be to us in theory. It is time for us to face stern realities. The situation in the waters to the north of Australia is a serious menace to this country, and, in the face of it, we should dismiss from our minds such things as the examination of the Statute of Westminster and vain discussion as to what the Government has done, or has not done. Let us send to the Old Country our first citizen, in the person of the Prime Minister, whoever he may be, so that he may further our interests and urge the proper steps to be taken for the safety and protection of the people of Australia. No one can so well present to the Government of Great Britain and our allies in other places the steps necessary for our protection as can the man who for the time being is the Prime Minister of this country. From the levity displayed at times during this debate one would think that some minor matter associated with party politics was under discussion. Surely this is not a time for the Leader of the Opposition to attempt to score at the expense of the Minister for Munitions. Rather should we concentrate on matters of major importance. At the moment there is a pause in international relations, but that pause may not last for long. It may be that potential enemies are pausing in order to ascertain whether there is division among us, or whether we are united in our determination to defend our heritage. I know that every man and woman in this country would defend its shores if they were attacked; but we should not, like the proverbial ostrich, bury our heads in the sand in the belief that thereby we shall escape danger. We must be practical and consider how best we can accomplish the things necessary for our defence. Let us close our ranks and put aside whatever differences still exist. I appreciate the assistance of the Opposition in voting money for the prosecution of the war. If, as has been hinted, the proposal to send Mr. Menzies to London is a party political manoeuvre, I say that it would be unworthy of any Prime Minister, particularly at such a time. The times are too critical to allow of petty bickerings. I am convinced, however, that this is no political manoeuvring, but a genuine effort in the interests of Australia. As such I support it. To those who think that the Prime Minister’s place is in Australia, I say, “ What can he do here that he could not do better in England ? “ Any enemy which would attack us must first sweep the oceans clean before it can bring to our shores an armed force, and then it must overwhelm the forces that we set against it before it oan achieve its objective. It is true that Australia is a country with fewer than 8,000,000 inhabitants, and can put only a comparatively small number of men in the field, but Australians have proved themselves among the world’s best fighters on land, sea, and in the air. I urge honorable senators not to do anything which may place us in a more dangerous position, but to leave no stone unturned to obtain from Britain the assistance we may need to maintain those ideals for which we are fighting. At such a time as this, I deplore anything but a realization of the danger confronting us, and therefore I repeat that, by sending our Prime Minister to the heart of the Empire, we shall be most likely to achieve the best results for the people of this country.
– He did not say anything like that.
– He said, in effect, that those who dared to question the advisability of sending the Prime Minister to England were enemies of their country.
.- I am glad to have that assurance. I did not attempt to quote the exact words of the honorable senator, but I did say that the implication of his remarks was that all who dared to question the wisdom of sending the Prime Minister to England were guilty of acting against the best interests of this country. He asked us to “ rise above that sort of thing “. What is the implication of that remark? It is that the Prime Minister and the members of his Government must necessarily know best. That is the attitude adopted by Hitler and Mussolini. Hitler says, “ I am the State, and all who dare to suggest that I -am either ignorant or am influenced by ulterior motives are traitors to the State “. I thought that Senator A. J. McLachlan would discuss the merits of the document before us, as he is capable of doing, rather than that he should, by implication and innuendo, try to create the impression that we on this side are not just as loyal and sincere as he thinks himself to be. If the Government considered it right and proper on its own responsibility to send Mr. Menzies as Prime Minister to England earlier in the year, why did it not do so on this occasion? We have had an assurance from Senator A. J. McLachlan that, if he had the say, the Prime Minister would have gone to London on this occasion on the Government’s responsibility. Had he done so I would have been the first to commend him for his courage. Why has not the Government had the moral courage to exercise its prerogative in this respect as it did on a former occasion? I suggest that all the evidence goes to prove that it is because it no longer has the backing of those who previously supported it.
.- The Prime Minister, realizing the position, said, “ If I go to England in response to the request of Cabinet, all the possibilities, based upon the evidence as I know it, are that I shall be displaced during my absence “. The right honorable gentleman said, in effect, “1 shall go only if a sufficient number of the members of the Opposition are prepared to support my going “. With my colleagues in the caucus, in the name of the Opposition, I oppose the Prime Minister’s visit to England, and I submit that 1 have good grounds for doing so. The right honorable gentleman owes no allegiance to the policy of the Labour party. He gave us no assurance that he would consider the Opposition in the slightest if he were selected to represent Australia abroad. He asked, in effect, that he be sent as Prime Minister and be given a free hand as far as the Opposition is concerned.
– Generally speaking, Labour’s policy in this war is that there shall be equality of sacrifice, that no man or woman shall, as shareholder or director of privately controlled monopolies, reap a veritable harvest of profits as a result of this war, and that, to the degree that profits are allowed to be appropriated by these people, the efforts of the nation in its war-time activities are handicapped. If the public press is to be. believed, and if his utterances on various occasions are to be given credence, the Prime Minister is opposed to any proposition that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, for example, should be declared a national utility for the duration of the war, that its staff should -be directly responsible, not to a few shareholders laying down terni3 to the nation, but to the Government, that no profits should he ear-marked by the company during the war period, and that those who are living on its profits should be given an opportunity to do some useful work in the interests of the nation. The right honorable gentleman would oppose such a proposition because he is pledged to the principle of privately-owned monopolies in Australia and their policy of profiteering at the expense of the nation. That is where we join issue with the Government. There are many thousands of young, virile men and women who could be employed to much better advantage than they are to-day if the Government were prepared to take the necessary action. Instead of living upon the efforts of those who provide food, clothing and shelter, they should be contributing their share in building up the national effort. To-day Senator A. J. McLachlan almost shed tears of blood in his appeal to the passions or prejudices of the people, with the object of discrediting the Labour party which dares to challenge the Government’s policy in that direction. For my part, I assure honorable senators opposite that, as a member of this chamber, and on the public platform, whenever and wherever the opportunity is offered to me, I shall show that the Government and its supporters go only part of the way towards organizing an all-in war-time effort in the interests of the nation. In every country town, in every capital city, an enormous wastage of man-power and material goes- on- because the Government lacks the moral courage ‘to prevent it, and Senator A. J. McLachlan and other honorable senators opposite reflect on members of the Labour party because they dare to direct attention to it. That state of affairs has existed in England not only before the war, but also since. Possibly, I may be charged with taking up a seditious attitude when I say that, with the knowledge of the British Government, certain groups of financiers in England, France and the United States of America did more to build up the German military machine than the Germans were capable of doing themselves. We cannot but keep those things in mind - we have long memories - and we are determined that, as far as it is humanly possible to prevent it, we shall not allow what was done in that direction in the South African war and in the last war to be repeated in this war.
I come now to the Ministerial statement made by the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) this afternoon. Senator A. J. McLachlan described it as a momentous statement. I disagree entirely with the honorable gentleman; it is a perfectly innocuous statement. A great deal more than what was included in that statement could be said, but for perfectly obvious reasons it is not said because it would direct the attention of the people to the very state of affairs to which 1 have referred. Whilst the Empire is fighting for its very existence and out men overseas are fighting and dying in their thousands, this Government is mortgaging those who come back up to their very eyebrows to pay interest in perpetuity, not to those who worked for the success of the cause, not to those who fought and bled in the defence of all they held dear, but to the financiers and money lenders of this country whom honorable senators opposite attempt to vindicate. The Leader of the Senate could have directed attention to that state of affairs, but he did not do so. The opening sentence in the Minister’s statement was -
Honorable senators are, in a broad sense, familiar with the developments in the international field.
We are familiar with those developments only within limitations. We were told in another place yesterday that certain things could not be divulged. We, who are supposed to be the representatives of the people, are asked to accept at their face value those who tell us that certain things should not be told. I have not the least objection to their having a good opinion of themselves.
– I am glad to have that interjection because it gives me the opportunity to say that the Labour members of the Australian Advisory War Council were not consulted in respect of some of the major actions performed by this Government. That supports my contention at the outset of my remarks that, because we will not be “ Yes “ men, because we will not acquiesce completely in the wishes of the Government, because we will not accept these gentlemen at their face value. Senator A. J. McLachlan and others imply that we refuse to face up to the realities of the position. These gentlemen may consider that they are competent to judge what is good for us to know and what is- not good for us to know. I do not accept the competence of these people to judge, and I prefer to rely upon my own capacity. I am influenced much more by tendencies which I have observed from day to day, and by actual results, than by written statements of this kind, intended for public consumption. This declaration is meant to create the impression in the minds of the people that everything is all right, whereas we know perfectly well that everything is a long way from being quite all right; we know that a good deal more could be done to right many wrongs. Therefore I do not accept the statement.
I come now to the eight points contained in the statement, and I shall deal particularly with numbers 5 and 6. The fifth point is - . . they desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field, with the object of securing for all, improved labour standards, economic advancements, and social security. “ They “ in that case refers to Great Britain and America. I would accept that declaration were it not for the fact that all past evidence has been to the contrary. Let us go back so far as the South African War and see what happened then. In that conflict thousands of Australian, Scottish, Irish and English workers fought for the British Empire; they were victorious, but what was their reward? Immediately after victory had been achieved, the late Lord Milner and others began to import thousands of Chinese coolies to work mines formerly operated by white workers at higher wages.
.- The inference is that according to past experience the aims Bet out in the fifth point of the Prime Minister’s statement are not likely to be achieved. If I thought they would be achieved I should certainly welcome that declaration. Let us examine also what happened after the last war. When Germany was defeated she was compelled to pay enormous indemnities, and whilst nobody quarrelled with the necessity to penalize Germany at that stage, this was the effect: The Germans worked for a mere pittance and supplied coal and manufactured goods to England and other countries, with the result that the workers in those countries practically starved for years afterwards. With that evidence in mind, it cannot be argued that improved labour standards and economic advancement have been achieved in the past. A similar position arose in the United States of America after the last war, when that country became the leading creditor nation, whereas formerly it was a debtor nation. During the last war enormous profits were made, and the aftermath was such that even right up to the outbreak of the present war the United States of America had a floating population of 10,000,000 permanently unemployed. In view of these things, I cannot shut my eyes entirely to what has happened in the past. If I thought that the best results could be obtained by doing so, and that there would not be a repetition of these unfortunate events, I should willingly forget the past, but when I see the trend of present events, particularly in respect of the borrowing policy of this Government which will have the effect of committing the men who have fought aud the men1 who have worked in the factories, to the payment of enormous sums in perpetuity to people who neither fought nor worked, I am not prepared to forget the past. It is necessary that the Government and the people should be reminded of these things.
.- The honorable senator will recollect that I replied to that suggestion before. There can be no real national government until all essential industries and services are owned by the nation. Ownership of the means by which we live and the means of production determines the political superstructure which takes the form of a government. The present Government is a political superstructure forced into existence by private monopoly ownership of the means of production, and the longer this war lasts the nearer we shall come to deciding whether a few persons are to be permitted to own Australia for their own benefit, advantage, profit and prestige and power, or whether the people as a whole are to have that ownership. One of the reasons why Parliament is not allowed to meet more frequently than it does to discuss important matters on their merits, and without indulging in personalities, is because of the danger to the existing system which has been responsible for the onset of this war, and all the poverty and unemployment which has existed throughout the world. If Parliament met more often and debated these matters on their merits, as they should be debated, we should be a great deal better off than we are to-day, and there would be something approximating to the unity which honorable senators opposite have asked for. They have asked “ why drag in party politics ? “ “We do not drag in party politics; we are dragged in by them, and we either have to submit to a system under which profiteering is being progressively increased to the detriment of the workers and others, or challenge it. I prefer to challenge it. I would rather see party politics out of the scheme of things altogether, but so long as just a few people own the means by which other men live, and are able to lay down the terms under which they shall work, party politics will remain despite all the eloquent pleas of honorable senators opposite. Why not face the real position instead of trying to gloss it over as has been done by the Minister for Aircraft Production, Senator A. J. McLachlan, and Others who regard it as the most unforgivable crime in the calendar that any one should dare to place his sacriligious paws on their cherished theories. The need for Parliament to meet more frequently is beyond question. I say more than that : If this Parliament goes into recess; if discussion1 of these issues is shirked ; if the people who would challenge them are ignored or are interned as was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald recently, then the Government is merely prolonging the agony and the remedy will be much more severe than would be the case if this position were analysed as it should be at the outset. The sixth point in the Prime Minister’s statement was -
After the final destruction of Nazi tyranny, they hope to see the establishment of a peace which will afford all nations means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.
I could accept that also if it were not for what has been done in the past and what is being done to-day.
.- I know what the tendencies of the future are, although I trust that it will be much happier than present tendencies indicate.
– Perhaps not in the physical sense, but I am afraid that in the economic sense it will.
What is “Nazi tyranny”? Nazi tyranny is something which would reduce the working classes to the level of mere slaves by making them industrial and military conscripts, and forcing them to accept the will of a dictator or dictators, expressed by men like Hitler. We are all opposed to Nazi tyranny, but the tendencies to-day indicate that we ourselves shall have a modified sort of Nazi tyranny. For example, it has been suggested that stronger action should be taken against men who go on strike. If that were done we would have precisely the same action that was taken in Germany, which led ultimately to the present position. When we have a document such as this, and statements are made similar to those to which I have directed attention, it is the duty of those of us who know what has been done in the past, and what is being done now, to draw attention to those things. Even if we may not succeed in preventing the harm that will be done, we may succeed in lessening that harm. The statement read by the Leader of the Senate this afternoon contained this paragraph -
This declaration sets out in plain language the fundamental aspirations of all the libertyloving peoples of the world. It is, so to apeak, a declaration of human rights. Its moral effect, not only outside of Europe, but also inside Europe, will be enormous. It is sl reminder to us that the new order for the world, of which we have from time to time spoken, is now in the making, and that the war must be regarded, not merely as a great struggle in which evil things must be overthrown, but also as something from which positively good things for men and women must emerge.
The last sentence seems to justify the war. It seems to say that war is a good thing, because out of war will emerge other good things. That is the logic of that passage. However, I remind honorable senators that a similar declaration was made during the last war. The con flict of 1914-18 was described as “ a war to end war “ and as “ a war to save democracy “.
.- The theory was good; but the practice was the reverse. That is exactly what I am challenging. Theories which appeal to us are contradicted when things are done, and policies and schemes are given effect to which make it impossible for war to be ended. Such policies and schemes were implemented after the last war. The Minister’s statement also refers to a new order for the world. I agree with that reference. Out of this war will come a new order, but it will come, unfortunately, because the people cannot be reasoned into accepting a new order; they are virtually being bombed into accepting it. To-day, in England, as the result of this war, a new conception of society is developing in the minds of the common people, who are doing, not the talking, but the fighting and the working. They are developing a conception of the order to be; and it is mainly because they can the result of experience and costly and tragic disillusionment, that the ideas of the representatives of their governments previously were all wrong; that, instead of leading to a new and better order, such ideas led to a worse state of affairs than existed before the last war. So, as the result of war, a new order is developing. Other influences also will operate in that direction. The very foundation of society is the ownership of the means by which the people live. The old order, based on individual ownership, by which the millions lived, is being replaced by the economic system for which this Government stands, and is leading to the establishment of private monopolies much more extensive and much more profitable than ever existed before the war. All of the small primary producers, the fruit-growers, wheat-growers, poultryraisers and dairy-farmers and others will be either starved or swept out of existence with the result that the order coming will be monopoly ownership of primary as well as secondary production. Then, the fight will be fought as to who shall own those monopolies. Is it to be private enterprise or the nation?
We on this side stand for national ownership, while honorable senators opposite, uncomprisingly, stand for the right of a few people to own the means of production which are the means by which all the people live. Then will be the war which will decide the new order. If the new order be private monopoly ownership, we shall have a state of affairs in England and America similar to that existing in Germany to-day; but if it be ownership by the people, we shall have the new order to which reference has been made by honorable senators on this side, w ho have pointed to the necessity for it so that people may live free from the fear of unemployment, poverty or war. On page 3 of the ministerial statement, we read -
The important thing for us is not comfortably to watch the progress of events in Russia, but to use to the best advantage the breathingspace given to us by Russian resistance.
We can agree with that statement; but is that being done? I say that it is not. So long as we have so many thousands of men and women occupied in luxury and nonessential industries and in duplicating and multiplying services of all kinds, so long as that state of affairs prevails for the profit of the gentlemen whom Senator A. J. McLachlan represents in this chamber, we shall not use to the best advantage the breathing space afforded by the Russian resistance. The Government is simply going to allow things to remain more or less as they were, so that if the improvement in the direction I have indicated is to be made, it will be made unfortunately as the result of something which shall happen in Melbourne and Sydney and throughout Australia similar to that which is now happening in England. So eminent a person as Sir Robert Vansittart, Chief Diplomatic Advisor to the British Government, has pointed out the degree to which his own Government has been responsible for the lag in the nation’s effort before the war, and since the commencement of the war. We can hardly question such an authority. I say with that gentleman that, if we are to make the best use of our opportunity now, the Government will begin to do things in that direction rather than impute ulterior motives to honorable sena- tors on this side of the chamber. It will show by its actions that it is thoroughly sincere. The Minister for Aircraft Production said that the Government has done things. No one will deny that. But I emphasize that things have not been done to the degree in which they could be done, and will have to be done if this war lasts very much longer. The honorable senator claimed for the Government that it was now employing thousands of men and women in munition factories. If no war had occurred, those men and women would still be on the dole. The Government has been driven by the exigencies of war to employ those men and women who were semi-starved before the war. Now that many of the unemployed, for instance 15,000 in Melbourne, have enlisted, they are regarded as heroes, whereas formerly they were regarded as nuisances and not worth anything more than the dole. Indeed, when they became refractory, or rebellious, the police were used to bludgeon them into submission. Consequently, I urge the Government to make a more critical study of this document than, apparently, it ha3 made.
Dealing with the status of a possible representative of Australia in London, to represent Australia’s point of view on war policy, the Leader of the Senate said -
In all these matters it is the opinion of the Prime Minister and his colleagues of great importance that Australia’s voice should be heard directly in the place in which the major decisions are inevitably made.
What is Australia’s voice? Does the Government speak as Australia’s voice, or do the members of this Opposition? The only thing that could be said to be the voice of Australia would be a decision of the people on any major issue, and the decision of the people at the last election was against the Government.
.- The aggregate votes ca3t at the last election showed clearly that Labour represents the voice of the people to a greater decree than the Government. Consequently, it is misleading to say that Australia’s voice will be heard in London through a representative of this Government. What would be heard there would be the Government’s voice, but that is not necessarily the voice of Australia.
– Does not the honorable senator agree that the voice of Australia should be heard in Great Britain?
– If the Government has the moral courage to stand up to ita responsibility, it will see that its voice is heard. The ministerial statement also contained the following remarks: -
In saying this no criticism of the Prime Minister of Great Britain or of his War Cabinet is offered. In hia visit earlier in the year, the Prime Minister of Australia found them in the highest degree co-operative, willing to listen to the Australian view, willing to attach significance and weight to special Australian interests.
I should say that that statement is true within limitations. I could imagine the British Government and the British High Command listening to views expressed by a representative from Australia, but those bodies would please themselves whether they accepted those views. If they appealed to either body, the views would probably be accepted; but, if not, they would probably be rejected. The implication of the ministerial statement is that whatever we said would be given much more consideration than has been usual in the past. That is not so.
I ask for senators on this side, the same right as is demanded by honorable senators opposite, who claim to be free to express the opinions they hold. During the Boer “War, and during the 1914-18 War, as in the present war, remarks were made concerning representatives of Labour, implying that they were traitors to their country. The Prime Minister himself, if the press report be correct, has referred to certain men employed in munition factories as traitors. When terms such as that are used, there is an appeal to the passions and prejudices of the people, and not to their reason, and argument of that kind does not reflect credit upon the Prime Minister or any other member of this Parliament who resorts to it. I regard such implications, as that Labour men are working in the interests of the enemy, as cowardly and contemptible. The Minister for Aircraft Production stated that he regarded the Prime Minister as one of the three big men in the Empire. The honorable senator is entitled to that opinion, but I should say that there are also big men in the fighting forces, in the munition factories, and everywhere else where war work has to be done. Are we to believe that if the Prime Minister were displaced from his present position, or met with an accident which rendered him helpless, Australia would be defeated? It would be wrong to draw such an inference, and it is an unjust reflection on the manhood of the nation.
– At the suspension of the sitting, I was endeavouring to emphasize two matters in relation to the Labour party’s attitude, which seemed to be of some moment. The first was that we on this side of the chamber, indeed, supporters of the Government in both Houses, think that it is necessary that an accredited representative of the Commonwealth Parliament should be in London, and should participate in the deliberations of the British War Cabinet. That representative should be the Prime Minister.
.- No. The second portion of the resolution passed by the Labour party provides that a representative of Australia should be present in London to take part, I presume, in the deliberations of the British War Cabinet.
– I am sorry if I have misunderstood the resolution, and I am also surprised to find that the Labour party has passed a resolution so futile that it does not contemplate our representative sitting in the British War Cabinet.
es. - To whom?
– The place where Australia’s viewpoint should be expressed is before the British War Cabinet, which has the responsibility of determining matters of high policy. There is no other body before whom our views could be placed unless the Labour party contemplates the formation of some other authoritative body. The only body before which Australian representations could be effective, and in which a representative could take an effective part, is the British War Cabinet.
I believe that it was a good thing for Australia and for Australians that, at the time of the Greece and Crete campaigns, our Prime Minister was in London, and could put our view before the British War Cabinet. I do not think we lost anything by that. In fact, I am sure we gained a great deal. We shall not get very far by going back to what happened last February. We are dealing with the situation as it exists to-day, and the Government of this country unanimously decided that, in the’ existing situation, it was desirable that Australia’s voice should be heard in the British War Cabinet. There is only one practical way in which that can be done, and that is by sending the Prime Minister to London. That is the real essence of the proposal. The Labour party’s attitude is quite inconsistent. First, it refuses to accede to the sending to England of the only man who is capable of expressing our views in the British War Cabinet. I hope I shall not be misunderstood’ when I say that. I am not referring to the person at present holding the office ; I am referring to the fact that the Prime Minister of Australia, whoever he may be, has the right of entry into the British War Cabinet, whereas, nobody else has that right.
.- The honorable senator’s information must be a little later than mine. I say quite definitely that there is only one person in this country who has the right of entry into the British War Cabinet, and that is the Prime Minister. That is indisputable.
– That is beside the point for this reason : This is a matter of urgency. We want our voice to be heard in the British War Cabinet as soon as the Prime Minister can get to England, and to continue to be heard so long as that is considered necessary in the interests of the Australian people.
.- No, but the Labour party’s attitude at present is in keeping with its outlook during the whole war.
– I am not doing (that. I should not be speaking in this strain were it not for some of the things that the Loader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) said to-day. It is all very well to say that until now the Labour party has supported every financial measure brought forward by the Government. That is true, but, I have heard the Leader of the Opposition say in effect “We shall vote for this measure, but it is not our responsibility. It is the responsibility of the Government because the Government has introduced it. We shall cast our votes for any financial proposals which the Government brings forward in relation to this war but we shall not take any responsibility “.
– To that degree, yes. The Leader of the Opposition complains that we have not achieved a total war effort. I am inclined to agree with him. We certainly have not achieved a total war effort in this Parliament.
– All responsibility for the absence of a total war effort in this Parliament rests with the Opposition.
.- I do not intend to allow myself to be side-tracked by such issues. I say definitely and with the deepest regret that the party represented by the Leader of the Opposition has consistently refused to accept responsibility, and that is the real test. It does not come well from the Opposition to chide the Government with not having made a total war effort when honorable senators opposite are not prepared to cooperate in any way in accepting executive responsibility for whatever decisions that have to be made.
It is unnecessary for me to go over all the history of the proposals for a national government in this country. The Labour party has been invited to send its representatives into the Cabinet; it has been invited to accept executive responsibility on the Advisory War Council. But noAll co-operation has stopped at the point at which it would really become effective. It has stopped at taking whatever decisions are necessary for a successful prosecution of this war. The same attitude is manifest again here to-day. The simple fact is that the Prime Minister, or whoever goes to England, if he is going to voice the opinions of the Australian people effectively, must go as a representative of every section of this Parliament. But the Opposition says “ The Prime Minister may go if he likes but he will not have our blessing. He will not speak for us, and when he is over there we shall reserve to ourselves the right to dispute whatever decisions he may make on behalf of the Australian people”. That situation is absolutely impossible. It has been suggested by honorable senators opposite that there is something sinister in the Prime Minister’s statement that he will go to England only if he has the endorsement of all political parties. Surely there can be nothing sinister about that. He is merely saying, “I will go if I am the endorsed representative of the Parliament of this country “.
– He is the properly constituted Prime Minister of this country, and he will remain so until such time as the position is altered. As the properly constituted Prime Minister, he is entitled to represent his country on all vital matters of this kind. Surely it would be an excellent thing if he could embark upon the mission with the approval of every section of the Australian people. I cannot see any reason why that assistance should not be afforded to him in undertaking a task of this kind. I regret very much the decision at which the Labour party has arrived, and I believe it a decision which it may regret. I entirely endorse everything that was said by my colleague, Senator A. J. McLachlan. These are dangerous days; days when we cannot afford to continue to carry on this game of party politics which some seem to be so fond of playing. Apparently the Opposition is not prepared to sink party identities to the extent of saying to the accredited representative of the Australian people “ Go on this mission with our goodwill and express the views of the Australian people in the councils of the Empire “. I shall be very sorry indeed if the Labour party’s decision is the cause of the Prime Minister not embarking on this mission and so not being able to express in the councils of the Empire the views of the Australian people, which, I believe, should be expressed there at the present time.
– That is unfair.
– He said that the Prime Minister’s place to-day was in Great Britain. If the position in Australia is so grave to-day why should the Australian people be denied the presence and the guidance, of this great master mind ? The reason behind the desire of the Government that the Prime Minister should leave Australia at this critical time is to be found in the fact that the right honorable gentleman is afraid to face the consequences that he fears must naturally follow the presentation of the budget. He left Australia on the last occasion with the consent of his Cabinet but without the permission of the Parliament. He was away for a considerable time.
.- What did he do during his absence that resulted in any major advantage to Australia? Not one honorable senator in this chamber hae told us of the wonderful work that he did while he was abroad. We were certainly told that he had consented to certain action being taken in Greece and Crete ; but I remind the Senate that those moves were decided upon without consultation with the Australian War Advisory Council, a body specifically established to consider such matters. On that occasion the consenting voice was the voice of the Prime Minister, but not that of the whole of the people of Australia. Having returned from England, this great genius was placed, by the sycophant press, on the highest pedestal ever occupied by any Prime Minister of this country. This National Parliament was then sitting and a request was made that the Parliament should be adjourned for two or three weeks in order to give tha Prime Minister an opportunity to prepare legislation to give effect to what were said to be revolutionary changes necessary for an all-in war effort. Parliament consented to the request, but the recess, instead of lasting two or three weeks, lasted for four or five weeks. When Parliament was finally assembled we expected to hear about the revolutionary proposals foreshadowed by the Prime Minister as being urgently necessary for the more successful prosecution of the .war abroad and for the more complete defence of this country. On the first sitting day the proceedings in the Senate were limited to the passage of motions of condolence. The next day we were permitted to ask a few questions, but no answers were supplied, for the Senate was again adjourned for another four or five weeks in order to give the Treasurer an opportunity to prepare his budget. Even now, approximately three months after the return of the Prime Minister from England we find that the budget is .still not yet ready for submission to the Parliament. The reason for the delay is obvious. The Prime Minister has not the courage to face the Parliament after the budget has been brought down. He prefers to scuttle away to England, hoping that, once again, Labour will agree not to challenge the Government during his absence. Senator A. J. McLachlan roared like a lion in his efforts to frighten honorable senators on this side of the chamber. I assure the honorable senator that his efforts to create a psychology of fear will fail. For my part, I have always had enough backbone to say what I think in this chamber. The honorable senator may roar like a lion, but we do not forget that at one time he was receiving the lion’s share as a director of companies contracting with the Government. But for his association with those companies he may have been in the Ministry to-day. Senator Spicer says that the Prime Minister is the only man in Australia to-day whose representations would be considered by the British Government. I am not opposed to Australia being represented at meetings of the Imperial War Cabinet. On the contrary, I believe that Australia should be adequately represented at such, meetings; but I do not agree with honorable senators opposite that the Prime Minister is the only man in this country capable of putting Australia’s views before the statesmen of Great Britain.
– And I, too, in that event, would maintain that the place of the Prime Minister in the hour of crisis was in his own country. There are many men on both sides of the chambers of this Parliament who are quite capable of putting the views of the .Australian people before the free statesmen of Britain. Does Senator Spicer imagine for one moment that the Prime Minister and the statesmen of Great Britain would not listen attentively to a delegate from this Parliament vested with power to speak with authority on the opinions and feelings of the Australian people? Does the honorable senator say that simply because such a delegate did not occupy the high office of Prime Minister of Australia he would be ignored by British statesmen? If that is the position, what are we fighting for, democracy or autocracy?
– I agree. I claim that the leaders in Great Britain also realize that position and that if a representative of the Government were sent to Britain with full authority to speak on behalf of the Government of Australia he would be gladly welcomed by Mr. Churchill and the British War Cabinet. In seeking to leave Australia in these anxious days, the Prime Minister himself is merely indulging in political strategy; to use his own words he is merely playing the diabolical game of politics. When the Prime Minister return’ed from his last visit to England he said that he was sick and tired of the diabolical game of politics but both he and his party are the first to indulge in this diabolical game in an effort to avoid the consequences of a budget which they know must be unpopular and result in their defeat. Since his return to Australia the Prime Minister has had ample time to collaborate with the Treasurer and the members of his Cabinet in the preparation of the budget. Can any honorable senator opposite tell us of one major problem that has arisen in the last three months that will not be lifted and passed to one side in the next three months?
.- That is true; but if the honorable senator had u£ed his intelligence he should have seen that coming six months ago. If the honorable senator had taken notice of the warnings given to him by the Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) two years ago, and by the Prime Minister just prior to the outbreak of the war, he would have been able to foreshadow these developments in the Far Ea3t. We told him over and over again what was certain to happen. Our warning fell on deaf ears because honorable senators opposite did not want to hear it. Only when the enemy is practically knocking at the door will they stop to listen to us. The Opposition has also been charged with refusing to accept responsibility. I say definitely that the Opposition refused to accept the responsibility for putting into operation the policy of the present Government. Can the honorable senator who made that accusation show that at any time the Government was willing to meet the Opposition half way in matters of policy?
.-The Government offered to the Opposition a number of seats in the Ministry, but only on the condition that its own policy was put into operation.
– I am not. I know of the negotiations which took place between the Government and the Opposition after the last elections. I know what was offered by the Government, and what was not offered. The Opposition was offered a certain number of seats in the Ministry, but the Government stipulated that its own policy should be implemented. It refused to meet the Opposition half way in matters of policy. I challenge honorable senators opposite to show that the Opposition has refused to co-operate in an effective war effort. Advice which it has offered to the Government has been ignored at the time, although later the Government has given effect to the suggestions and claimed the credit for them.For instance, the Government takes credit for the improvement of the position in regard to employment, whereas irrespective of the government in power, employment would automatically have increased as the result of the war effort. There are to-day approximately 600,000 men in the various fighting forces. That number corresponds with the number of men who were out of employment when the war began.
.- The number of unemployed was then greater than 600,000. The country’s war effort has reduced unemployment automatically, regardless of the purely political constitution of the Government. It may be that the Government is paying too much regard to the first line of defence, and is giving too little attention to the second line of defence - the manufacture of munitions and the supply of food and other articles required by the men in the fighting forces. The Opposition has been criticized for its refusal to allow the Prime Minister to run away from Australia and shirk his responsibility - I cannot describe otherwise the proposal that the right honorable gentleman should go to London - and for urging that he should concentrate his attention on the major problems confronting this nation. I agree that Australia is in greater danger than ever before in its history. Indeed, the danger is so great, and the problems confronting the country are so grave, that the greatest genius in Australia should be in this country to grapple with the problems awaiting solution. If the Prime Minister be the great genius that honorable senators opposite claim that he is, his place is in Australia. There are other persons in the community who, if clothed with the same authority, would be just as acceptable to the members of the British War Cabinet as would be the present Prime Minister himself. I should take the same attitude if Mr. Curtin were Prime Minister in a Labour government at this time. The place of the Government leader is in Australia. Another responsible Minister could represent him in Great Britain and put Australia’s views before the British Cabinet. The views which the British Government should have placed before it are not those of any individual, but the views of the Commonwealth Government, as representative of the people of Australia.
on - We remember well ; it was a memorable speech.
– I spoke then, as I had spoken frequently during the previous twelve years, of the need for preparedness - a doctrine in which I wholeheartedly believe. It is a doctrine that I preached long before I had any idea whatever of taking an active part in the government of this country. I preached that doctrine first when I returned from South Africa in 1908, after nearly seven years’ sojourn in that country with its racial problems associated with its Dutch and British settlers, and a large coloured population. When I returned to my native land in 1908, 1 was convinced that the day was approaching when the British Empire would be engaged in a deadly struggle against Imperial Germany. In 1908 and 1909 I took some little part in advocating universal military service, and I was overjoyed when that system was put onto operation in 1911. During the time that I was in this Senate previously, I preached the doctrine that a man who accepted the great privileges of Australian citizenship must accept also the responsibility of citizenship, and be prepared to give up his time to train for the defence of his country. It is idle now to indulge in recriminations; the years that the lotus has eaten belong to the past. Time lost can never be regained, but we can learn from those lost years the lessons that are there for us to learn if only we will seek them. For 160 years, the people of Australia have been content to let some one else defend them ; they have sheltered behind the protection afforded by the British navy. That is the position to-day when the sands are running out so rapidly that the thought of what might lie before us keeps me awake at night. I have a vivid recollection of the years 1916 to 1918. I remember well what it meant to the men in the Australian Imperial Force in 1916 when the then Labour Prime Minister of Australia, the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, visited England. This nation started off in a somewhat haphazard way. By many people in the Old Country Australia was regarded as a comparatively small settlement of no great importance. That attitude of mind on the part of many people in Great Britain has persisted almost until the present time. In some circles in the Old Country, the Australian view is not yet understood. It is therefore my firm conviction that Australia should have in England an accredited representative who can present to the authorities there the Australian view forcefully and continuously. Let us contrast the positions of the two countries to-day. Our fate will be settled in the war councils in London. Whether we realize it or not, that is where decisions vital to the existence of this country will be made. In 1916 the Labour Prime Minister of Australia went to England and there did much for the Australian Imperial Force. I recall that at that time a division which had just arrived in England from Australia was threatened with being broken up, with a view to sending the men to France to reinforce four divisions in the field. That would have been a tragedy, and but for the intervention of our Prime Minister at that time it would have happened. Had he not been in England, but at home in Australia with his Minister for Defence he could have sent cablegram after cablegram to London on the matter, but such a procedure would not have had the same effect which his dynamic personality achieved with the Asquith Government. He was in England again in 1917 and 1918. Speaking from memory, I think that, with exception of brief visits to France, he spent in the aggregate 21 months in London. I emphasize that the sands are running out; although many people say that our position has not deteriorated, it is deteriorating daily, and even hourly. To a soldier who studies the map, the position on the Russian front has been going from bad to worse since the beginning of the month. I do not say that the Russians are beaten; but they are getting a shocking hammering, and the Hun is getting closer and closer with astonishing rapidity to the things he wants. I am not posing as a strategist, but speak simply as one who takes the trouble to read the signs. The position to the north of Australia is also deteriorating. It is the same old story of Nazi tactics. First comes silent infiltration designed to lull prospective victims into a state of apathy. Then, when all the aggressor’s dispositions are made, he attacks with ruthless and merciless rapidity and brutality. Doubtless, all honorable senators read of the recent exploits of an Australian-built bomber which flew from Cairns to Melbourne non-stop in a little over seven hours, and could have continued for another 500 miles without refuelling. That machine, which is not considered first-class in Europe to-day, has a non-stop range of 2,200 miles. What is the lesson to be learned from that exploit? The danger to the north of Australia is becoming more imminent. I emphasize that in England and London, where vital war decisions are being made, and will be made, our kinsfolk are only 20 miles distant from the territory of the enemy. Only the narrow English Channel separate the contending forces. The homeland is being hammered every night. Sometimes, as was the case last August, September and October, it is hammered by as many as 600 and 700 bombers in one night. We out here, as yet, know nothing of those experiences. Surely, then, we can appreciate the different point of view of the British leaders when making vital decisions. They must arrive at them amid the roar of the anti-aircraft barrage and the crash of bombs, with the glare of the fires and devastation, destruction and death around them. They are a long way from us. We are an outpost of the British Empire, and our point of view is not the point of view of the people of England. For that reason it is urgently necessary that we should have in London an accredited representative, clothed with full authority to speak on our behalf, in order to emphasize the perils confronting this country from the north, and to urge that capital ships be made available in the Pacific for our protection.
.- Exactly, and I have never heard the Leader of the Labour party in this Parliament make a finer speech than when he addressed himself to this matter. I am glad to number him among my friends of many years’ standing. He is a great Australian, and [ know that he can see what I think I can see. From where shall we get the ships we require so urgently for our defence? They must come from the Motherland, or from that other great democracy across the Pacific. I feel sad that we should quibble about these things. My colleague from Tasmania, Senator Aylett, spoke of the Prime Minister deserting Australia. In my humble opinion the Prime Minister’s place in this crisis is at the heart of the Empire. It has been said, although, perhaps, it does not represent an opinion held widely in the Old Country, that it may be necessary in order to protect the heart of the Empire to let some of the far-flung Dominions go for a time with a view to recovering them later. Our peril, as I view it, is a nightmare to me. In the past, Australia has lived too easily, too securely and smugly under the protecting wing of the British navy, and we have been too self-satisfied and complacent to take up the burden of our own defence. Yet we hear the childish boast that if a foe landed on our shores Australian manhood would rise en masse to our defence. But with what? Most of them are untrained.
– Ever since I was elected to this chamber in 1925 1 have preached the doctrine of defence preparedness, but very often members of the honorable senator’s party greeted my exhortations with cheap sneers. The plain fact is that to-day our chickens are coming home to roost. They are now at our northern door. The preceding speaker described our situation as farcical. It is a tragedy, as I am sure many honorable senators realize only too fully. Some people adopt the attitude that no news is good news. I know of hundreds of men who do not agree with that view, particularly when they have had no news of their sons in Greece, Crete and Tobruk. Constantly at the back of their minds is the inescapable dread that one day the postman will deliver the communication telling them that their baby kid is dead or maimed. In this crisis the Prime Minister’s place is in London. Whether he be Menzies or Curtin, he should be on the spot in order to be able to put Australia’s point of view at the Avar councils in London. Any one who reads the official history of Australia’s effort in the last war, vol. XL, compiled by the late Professor Ernest Scott, coolly and dispassionately, will realize what it would mean to this country and to our soldiers to have our Prime Minister in” London taking part in those councils.
.- As an old soldier, the honorable senator should know of some of the things which the
Prime Minister of this country did for Australian soldiers in the last war. Who was it that fought for and won Anzac leave for the Australian Imperial Force? William Morris Hughes, who was on the spot. Botten motives have been imputed to the Government. It has been said that the Prime Minister wants to go on an election tour, that he wants to run away from the budget, and that this proposal is a piece of political strategy. We shall not worry about political strategy in the . near future if we do not face this problem frankly and honestly to-day. I repeat that at this particular time Ave must send to London some Australian, and the Prime Minister is the best man for the job, to speak with authority and gain access to the inner-most councils of the Empire. In my opinion, the Prime Minister should be in London. It is said that, as he may be needed here in the event of an emergency, he should remain in Australia, but should he not now be where he could render the greatest service to this country ? During the last war, I was in command of a battalion for a time, and my experience convinced me that it is well-nigh impossible for the average stay-at-home Englishman and official to understand the Australian point of view. Many times during the last war situations arose in which it was necessary for the views of Australia to be understood, and similar circumstances are bound to arise in connexion with the present war. Another Minister of the Crown would not carry the same weight in London as the first citizen of Australia. The Prime Minister would be able to present our case lucidly and demand that our views be carefully considered before important decisions were reached.
– Lady Astor!
– I am reminded of the story published in the Sydney Morning Herald about the Prime Minister when he was in London on the previous occasion. He was going to visit Lady Astor, but it was discovered that all the windows of the manor had been broken, so he was taken to a secluded place in the country instead. Not long ago, charges were made in the British House of Commons against Lady Astor’s husband, who was reputed to have been a member of the Cliveden set, and I do not want any Prime Minister of this country to go to England and mingle with that set. It was these people who provided the wherewithal for the Nazi military machine to be built, so that it might drop bombs on the common people of London, to whom our Prime Minister referred so sympathetically. But even these things are insignificant compared with the need in this country for the services of its Prime Minister. His job is here co-ordinating our forces. He should see that the Army, Navy and Air Force are properly equipped and maintained; that munition workers have all the necessary equipment and are working under satisfactory conditions; and that Australia’s war effort is pursued along the right lines. If, owing to the seriousness of the war position, standards in this country are to be lowered, then they should be lowered uniformly over all classes. Our Prime Minister should also see that the fighting forces receive rates of pay commensurate with the job they are doing. Surely they are worth the basic wage at least. The man who works in the munitions industries under high pressure is also worthy of his hire. There must be industrial peace in this country, and it is the duty of the Prime Minister to bring it about. Not long ago, when there was talk of a crisis in the Pacific, certain wharf labourers at Port Kembla determined that they would resist the great Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and would not load iron ore for Japan. The Prime Minister threatened to put them into a compound because they refused to assist the shipment to Japan of pig iron which might have been used to make bombs to be dropped on Australian men, women and children. This man whom honorable senators opposite wish to send to London criticized these people and called them Communists. When the right honorable gentleman was in London last February, he took the Australian Advisory War Council to task because of a certain statement which it issued. The same thing might happen again this time, and the people of Australia might be reproached for taking some action similar to that taken by the wharf labourers. As an Australian, I am disgusted to think that an organization such as the United Australia party would run its leader around the country in the way it has done. When the United Australia party became discredited as a political party, its organizers thought it might be an appropriate moment to hold a “law and order” election over the alleged Communists Ratliff and Thomas. But it was a fiasco. The Australian Labour party refused to take any notice of the matter, and Ratliff and Thomas determined that their campaign was useless, and abandoned it. The Prime Minister decided that that was no good, and he had better prepare for an ordinary election, so he announced a tour of all States. He knew quite well that his stocks were low in Victoria and had run out completely in New South Wales. He was in the midst of his new campaign when something else happened. The Australian press decided that the position in the Pacific had become very grave, and the Prime Minister was criticized for making a tour of the country in time of national crisis. The right honorable gentleman realized that he could not proceed along those lines, so he returned to Melbourne, and there a new plan was drawn up. His supporters said, “You had better go to London. Safety first for yourself and the United Australia party.”
But once more criticism has thwarted his plans. I have just had the privilege of touring portions of Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. I have spoken to many people, and the Prime Minister’s name is mud. Nobody will have him. They say that he is not their leader and that he must be displaced. They naturally want to know why the Labour party has not taken advantage of its opportunity to take over the reins of office. Mr. Menzies, realizing that he was unpopular with the majority of the people, determined that it would be unsafe for him to leave Australia without the support of the Labour party. So, on the day before Parliament was summoned to meet, he determined that, unless all parties agreed, he would not go to London. Prior to that it had been determined by the Cabinet that Mr. Menzies should take part in the deliberations of the British War Cabinet in London. This morning the parliamentary representatives of the Labour party decided against the proposal. Since then there has been a hurried meeting of the Cabinet. I do not know whether the consensus of opinion amongst Cabinet Ministers coincides with the views expressed by Senator Leckie and Senator A. J. McLachlan, or whether the Prime Minister has changed his mind and concurs with the stated opinions of those members of his party who were willing to rail-road him as a matter of political expediency. However, despite the fact that all parties did not agree to his proposed visit to London, Mr. Menzies is still Prime Minister, and the members of the Cabinet who constitute the Government can send him to London. Probably he will go to London; but if he does, he will go against the wishes of more than 50 per cent. of the Australian people. If he leaves Australia he can expect no support from the Labour party. His Government has not carried out its task of protecting the Australian people, and those who support it must bear equally the responsibility for its failure to do so. If I were certain that the Government had faithfully carried out its task of providing adequately for the defence of this continent, I would be willing to agree to the
Prime Minister leaving Australia to take part in the deliberations of Empire statesmen abroad; but unfortunately that is not so. Therefore, the Labour party is perfectly right in insisting that, as defence co-ordinator charged with the responsibility of ensuring that Australia is adequately defended against invasion by a potential enemy, the Prime Minister should remain here. Every one of us realizes that this potential enemy might at any time become a real enemy, and in order to guard against such a contingency everything possible should be done to make our shores impregnable against attack from the sea. Our first line of defence may be the shores of Australia and not the fortress of Singapore. If, unf ortunately, it should become necessary to withdraw our troops from Malaya as we had to withdraw them from Greece and Crete, we should be sure that when they arrive back in Australia they will be asked to man defences equal to those provided at Malta, Alexandria and other strongholds of the Empire.
Debate (on motion by Senator James McLachlan) adjourned.
Ministerial Representation in London.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia Minister for Supply and Development) - by leave - read and laid on the table a copy of the ministerial statement delivered in the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) (vide page 9), and moved -
That the following paper be printed: - International Affairs: Proposed Visit of Prime Minister to London - Ministerial Statement.
– It is necessary, after the reading by the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) of the statement to which we have just listened, that discussion should take place, and that the Opposition should have an opportunity at least to state its position regarding the one matter of importance which the statement opens up. In order that we may get a proper background and a wise outlook on the problem we are asked to resolve, it is necessary to look back over happenings during .recent weeks. I propose to do that briefly, before referring to the statement itself in greater, detail. For a very long while, the press of Australia has been rendering a very serious disservice to Australia by the attitude that it has adopted towards the parties constituting the Parliament of the Commonwealth. Day after day, week after week, and month after month, in the syndicated press of Australia - and that embraces practically every newspaper - and every night, afternoon and morning over the air, there has been an insistent demand that the game of party politics should not be played, and that the one thing essentially needed is that the Labour party become part and parcel of a national government. The Labour party in this country was too astute to fall into that trap. Consequently, all the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth has ceased, and to-day, apparently, it is no longer important that the party which the Government hates should be taken into a sleeping partnership so far as the conduct of the war is concerned. But while the party to which I belong, and which the Opposition represents in thi, branch of the legislature of this country, was too astute to fall into that trap, at the same time it was right enough and sane enough and Australian enough to declare over and over again where it stands with regard to the prosecution of the war. There is no need for me now to reiterate those declarations of policy. All I need to do is to draw attention again to the fact that we have cooperated with the Government in the prosecution of its war effort to the fullest degree possible from the very commencement of the war until this afternoon. That does not mean that we have accepted without criticism all of the actions and decisions of the Government in connexion with its war policy; but it does mean that we have, without quibbling, agreed to every penny of its appropriations for war purposes. We may have our own opinions as to whether we are not getting beyond Australia’s capacity in that connexion; but we did not stress those things. We did not vote against any Supply proposals of the Government, nor have we done so since.
That brings the history of recent happenings reasonably up to date. That plan having failed, we now hear very little, if anything, about it. There is no need to traverse all that ground again this afternoon. We have been accused of all the crimes in the political calendar and, in the same breath, we have been told that we on this side are jolly fine fellows, and that the only thing needed to complete our redemption is that we go into the Government. Honorable senators opposite cannot have it both ways. Either the policy of this party, as expounded by our leader and by all honorable senators on this side of the chamber, is such that the Government cannot embrace it, or it is proper, and we are or are not proper people. But it will be noted that none of the appointments that have been made by this Government in connexion with its activities, either of men it has sent abroad or appointed to high administrative offices in this country, has been given to a Labour man. Indeed, on the one occasion when an attempt was made to bring a very capable ex-Labour man and ex-Minister of the Commonwealth into the ambit of the war operations of this Government, the Government itself very nearly collapsed with political epilepsy. The facts show that if we were purchasable we might have been purchased long ago. It is necessary to refer to the facts I have mentioned in order to get to the bottom of the problem we are now asked to solve. Although I cannot speak for my colleagues individually, because I have not discussed the matter with them, I think that they will agree 100 per cent, with me when I say that I am tired of these statements, and the alleged secret meetings at which so much information, which if it leaked out would be valuable to the enemy, is to be given to us, but is never given to us. That sort of thing is becoming nauseating. If some of the statements made in the document read to us this afternoon are correct, this Parliament is kept out of session for unduly long periods. On a previous occasion I said that Parliament, when the country is at war, should be kept constantly in session. I repeat that view today. I am not suggesting that in such circumstances Parliament would have business to go on with every day; but if Parliament is worth while, and if democracy is the thing we say it is and is worth preserving to such a degree that we are now involved in a world war to preserve such remnants of it as are still left, then Parliament should be kept in session in order that it can be consulted daily, and hourly, if necessary, on the momentous questions arising from time to time. But no honorable senator opposite believes that. To them, apparently, things are not so serious that Parliament should be constantly consulted, nor even sufficiently serious to warrant Parliament being consulted once a month.
We are now getting to the stage when some of us begin to feel that we are not being given an opportunity to do the nation’s job as it ought to be done.
I now come to the statement just read by the Leader of the Senate. The plan to which I referred failed; so there is to be another plan, and it has been sprung on the community within the last few days. It was suddenly discovered that things in the Middle East and in the Pacific were of so serious a character that something very drastic had to be done.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) recently returned from a remarkable tour of many of the countries, particularly Empire countries, that are involved in the war. With his great capacity for relating his experiences, he told the Parliament, at a secret meeting, what he had done, where he had been, what he had seen, and the conclusions to which he had come. He told us what he considered to be essential, if Australia’s war effort was to be an all-in effort. He issued what he was pleased to call a new prospectus, but there is nothing in his latest statement about that prospectus. I have yet to learn of one thing done by the Government since his return to implement it. Not one thing of major importance has been done.
– Will the honorable senator read the second part of the declaration again?
– Who is to make the arrangements with the British Government?
– What does the honorable senator mean by that?
– What kind of representation ?
– That does not affect this question in the least
– That is not correct.
– The honorable senator is still not correct.
– The Prime Minister said nothing of the kind.
– The honorable gentleman cannot have it both ways.
– The Government is not abandoning it.
– Why does not the honorable senator and his colleagues take on the job of government themselves?
– The honorable senator should not issue threats.
– The honorable senator has said it. I have something else here.
SenatorCOLLINGS.- The Minister for Munitions (Senator McBride) is at liberty to “trot it out “ whenever he likes. I know what it is he has in mind. I make these statements in all seriousness and with a sense of responsibility. So far as the Opposition is concerned, the Prime Minister will not go to London. What the Government will do in the matter we do not know, but we do know what it ought to do. The plan to trans fer the Prime Minister to London is not clever. It is not half so subtle as was the plea for a national government.
– Where did the honorable gentleman get the idea that the Prime Minister called a meeting of members of the United Australia party ?
– That is not correct.
– It was a matter of the leadership of the United Australia party.
– The honorable senator’s statements are hopelessly inaccurate.
– What was done during the last war ?
– I confess that I am very disappointed at the attitude taken by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) on this subject. I had thought that the honorable senator would have taken this matter seriously; but it appears that he has merely made a joke of it The arguments advanced in support of his contention that the Prime Minister should not go abroad at this critical stage in our history are lacking in logic. I am totally unable to understand them.First of all the honorable senator depreciates the worth of the Prime Minister. He points out his manifest faults. He endeavours to show how in his opinion, the Prime Minister and his Government have failed to carry out the task entrusted to them. Yet, in the very next breath he says that the Prime Minister should remain in Australia because his presence here is so absolutely necessary for the protection of the Commonwealth. The Leader of the Opposition first depreciates his instrument and then has the effrontery to propose that this depreciated instrument, this broken tool, should remain in Australia because his presence here is of paramount importance at this juncture. The honorable senator has the insolence and the effrontery to say that Australia, one small part of the Empire, should say to the British Government: “We shall send a delegate to London to take part in the deliberations of the Imperial War Cabinet. We demand that he be given a seat at the council table “. If we did that and our lead was followed by the other dominions what sort of a war cabinet would be established in London? I frankly admit that this Government has made a few mistakes, but in spite of the sneers of the Leader of the Opposition I claim that it has a record of which any government may be proud and of which the people of Australia are justly proud. When the history of this war is written, what this Government has prevented from being done, and what it has done to ensure the security of the people of Australia, will be regarded as great and novel achievements. As the result of the Government’s timely action at the outbreak of the war the prices of commodities hare been controlled in this country to a greater degree than in any other country in the world. Australian war-time measures have been designed to achieve the greatest possible war effort with the least disturbance of the people. Apart from a few specialists, very few Australians have been hurt as the result of our war effort, but because the majority of the people have not been hurt, some among them cry out and say “We have not been hurt; therefore Australia is not putting forward its maximum war effort”. It is absurd for the Leader of the Opposition to assume that, because the Labour party demands that a delegate shall be sent to London in place of the Prime Minister, the selected delegate will immediately be taken into the British War Cabinet. What would happen if such a course were adopted and Mr. Churchill said “ This is rather cheeky. I imagine I should have been asked first to consent to such an arrangement”. What then would be the attitude of the Labour party? Would the Leader of the Opposition then say “ If you do not agree we shall withdraw our soldiers from the front “ ?
– That is not fair.
– That is not fair to the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. The Prime
Minister has publicly applauded Mr. Curtin and the Labour party for their assistance in enabling the Government to pass the necessary war legislation.
– Does the Minister say that the Labour members on the Australian Advisory War Council have not co-operated with the Government in every possible way?
– Mr. Curtin is the spokesman of the Labour party.
– That is not true.
– Then I shall say that the statement is incorrect.
– We do not assume anything of the sort and the Minister knows it.
– -Nobody suggested anything so silly.
– There are some “ nit-wits “ who will never understand.
– Then why come to the Labour party about it?
– Then why does not the Government accept responsibility?
– The Minister’s colleagues apparently do not think so. They wish to send the Prime Minister to England for purposes of political expediency.
– And the Minister knows what happened to him.
– I have listened with a good deal of interest to the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Leckie), and in my opinion he made some utterances which ill become him. I feel sure, that upon reflection, he will regret his statement that since the commencement of the war, the Labour party has not done anything to assist the Government. We have done everything within our power within that period, and particularly within the last twelve months, to help it. In order to illustrate our co-operation, I need only refer to the excellent work which has been done by the Leader of the Labour party and his colleagues on the Advisory War Council in regard to the implementation of the Government’s war policy. I regret that the Government itself has not seen fit to make public recognition of the work of Labour members of that body. Our leader himself has said that he and his colleagues on the council were mainly responsible for the launching of the Government’s shipbuilding programme, and the allocation of £6,000,000 for that work. Therefore, it ill becomes a responsible Minister to declare that the Labour party had done nothing to help the Government in its war effort. Such a statement is ridiculous.
The Prime Minister has asked for the consent of all parties to his making another visit overseas. The Minister for Aircraft Production in supporting the request, reminded us that during the last war, the Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes), as Prime Minister, spent two years in Great Britain. In the light of present circumstances, would the honorable senator contend that Australia’s position is comparable with its position in the last war? The conflict of 1914-18 was fought 12,000 miles away. It was only to be expected that decisions involving war policy at that time would be made in Great Britain. I have not the slightest doubt that very few of those decisions depended upon the consent of the Australian Government. Indeed, I doubt whether we were directly concerned in any decision other than the supply of Australian troops to the Motherland. Our position in relation to the present conflict, however, is entirely different. No one can doubt that Australia will be called upon to make momentous decisions. No one knows that better than members of the Government. If the Labour party were in power in this Parliament to-day, and our leader was Prime Minister, I should strongly object to any proposal that he should leave this country in order to enter into discussions in London. In existing circumstances, the Prime Minister’s place is in Australia. When we consider our position in relation to the present conflict as compared with the war of 1914-18, we must also bear in mind the very important factor that a nation which was an ally in 1914-18, is to-day a potential enemy. Some of the statements which have been made in support of the Prime Minister’s request to be allowed to go overseas, astound me. The Prime Minister himself, in a recent speech emphasized the close collaboration which has been established between the British Government and this Government through our High Commissioner in London. We were told that by such means, this Government was daily in consultation with the British Government. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister, when he was in England, gave serious attention to the effectiveness of such a channel of communication between the governments of the two countries. I also believe that at that time the fullest consultation took place between the Prime Minister and the British Government in relation to possible developments in the Pacific. Therefore, the suggestion that the dangers in the Pacific are only of recent origin appears to be groundless. We have been informed in answer to various questions that the Commonwealth Government gave its unqualified approval to the despatch of Australian troop3 to Greece. That decision was reached in consultations in which the Prime Minister himself participated when he was in London, and it was apparently arrived at with a knowledge of all of the facts, including the very disagreeable fact that our soldiers who participated in the Greek campaign were so badly equipped chat they did not have even _ a fighting chance. Hundreds of Australian lives were sacrificed in that campaign.
However, in view of the fact that we had to honour our pledge to Greece, that mistake can be forgiven. But the repetition of that mistake in Crete can never be forgiven. We have been told that the Government agreed to Australia’s participation in the Crete campaign with a knowledge of all the facts.
– Mr. Churchill went half way across the Atlantic.
– The Leader of the Parliamentary Labour party (Mr. Curtin) was in agreement with that appreciation of the position.
– The ministerial statement which we have heard this afternoon may be described, as one of the most momentous that has ever been brought under the notice of the Senate. I did not hear the whole of the criticism by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), who began by an attack on what he called the syndicated press. I should imagine that, if representatives of the press were present in the gallery, they had an excellent opportunity to write convincing articles concerning the conduct of this democratic chamber which would make us somewhat ashamed, because the Leader of the Opposition proceeded to play at party politics, although we are faced with a situation of the utmost gravity. About three years ago I visualized an alinement between the three powerful nations to which we are now opposed, and which I then said would prove to be the most difficult we could be called upon to fight. Now we are faced with a. powerful Germany and Italy still in a dominating position in the Mediterranean, and with our vital life-line, the Suez canal, in peril. On our northern front, the bastion that was created for our special safety at Singapore is threatened by a nation that is in partnership with the axis powers, and that nation is pursuing the selfsame policy as that adopted by the Nazis* in Germany. That nation claimed to be encircled by the “ A-B-C-D “ powers. Honorable senators will recollect that this technique is similar to that adopted by the Nazis in their first attack. They claimed that they were being encircled and attacked, but the next moment they pounced and struck. What are we likely to receive from the powers associated with the Nazis? At such a time as this [ should have thought that instead of bickering between ourselves as to what the Government has done or has left undone, or indulging in personal recriminations, we should have gone forward as a united Senate to express an opinion on reasoned and sane lines that would conform with the policy of our allies, because I understand that they are all behind the war effort to crush this tyranny that may overwhelm the world.
We are now dealing with a statement that draws attention to the danger confronting Australia. Our people have refused to accept the responsibility of defending themselves, and we have been under the sheltering arm of Britain and the great British navy. We have relied, perhaps all too trustfully, upon the assistance that would come from the other side of the Pacific, and now we are faced with the real danger that has come closer to home - a danger, as Senator Fraser properly pointed out, that was not present during the last war. Having regard to the fact that the destinies of Australia are at stake, and that the war is closer to our doors than ever before, we should realize that the higher war strategy is dominated and dictated by the British War Cabinet alone. That Cabinet hearkens, of course, to the opinions of the dominions.
– Why does not the Prime Minister accept the responsibility for going to London ?
– It takes some absorbing.
– Listening to Senator A. J. McLachlan, I could not but think that, throughout his address, there was the implication that persons who differed from him, and his conception of what is right and wrong, are enemies of this country.
– I did not say that. If the honorable senator is either so obtuse or so anxious to misrepresent me, I ask him to withdraw his statement. He will remember that I gave to his party credit for what it had done: I also said that Senator Eraser held a mistaken view if he thought that the Prime Minister could serve Australia best by remaining here. I did not reflect on the Opposition.
– The support for the Government is more definite to-day than ever.
– What part of Labour’s policy is likely to arise in London ?
– We have the Australian Advisory War Council.
– What is the inference?
– “Why not join a national government and improve the future from within?
– Has the honorable senator no hope for the future?
– Glencoe will never be repeated.
– The intention was good.
– Not quite.
.- The issue to which this debate is now reduced falls into a very small compass. It seems to me worth -while emphasizing, first of all, what are the things upon which every member of this Senate agrees. We all agree with the view of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that it is desirable at this time that the voice of Australia should be heard in the council chamber of the Empire. I reach that conclusion because of the terms of the resolution passed by the Labour party. The second portion of the resolution acquiesced in the view that a case had been made for representation of Australia in London, and I take it that the members of the Labour party believe that that state of affairs should be brought about as soon as possible. The simple position is that there is only one practical way open to-day to achieve the object which the Labour party, in common with every other party, believes should be attained. The facts are that a Prime Minister of a dominion visiting London is entitled to take part in the deliberations of the British War Cabinet, and that there is no representative of Australia or of any other dominion who to-day is entitled to take part in those deliberations. We do not seek to get this representation six or twelve months hence. That would be of no use to us at all. The points on which we desire our voice to be heard are current matters, in which conditions and circumstances are changing from day to day. They are matters which are vital to the safety and future of this country. That being so, it seems to me to be thoroughly impractical to suggest that we should not send the only person who could make his voice heard there, but that we should engage in a long and, for all we know, unsuccessful effort to bring about an alteration of the constitution of the British
War Cabinet which would enable us to have somebody other than the Prime Minister there. Why? Partly to satisfy some fetish that the place for the Prime Minister is in Australia. Why in the name of goodness must we tie the activities of the Prime Minister to the continent of Australia?
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– We did not say that.
– Not necessarily to attend meetings of the War Cabinet.
– We believe in a representative going to London to put Australia’s viewpoint.
– Before whom it should be placed.
– The honorable senator is making a mistake. Field-Marshal Smuts had that right during the last war.
– Has any other course been tried?
– We are not preventing him from going.
– The honorable senator should not get out of his depth.
– Well, have we not assisted the Government?
– The Government does not intend to have a total war effort.
– It is not our fault that the Government has not prosecuted certain bread and boot manufacturers.
– But he is not.
– It is some time since I have heard so much bitterness from honorable senators opposite as has been evidenced in the” course of this debate. What has come over the Government’s supporters to stir them to this great depth is beyond my comprehension. The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Leckie) returned to the old form which he displayed eighteen months ago. Something apparently got under his skin and stirred a spirit which has long been dormant. The Minister was followed by Senator A. J. McLachlan who referred to the chirping of the sparrows while at the same time he roared like a lion let loose from a cage. He told us of the great dangers with which Australia was faced and that the invader was almost upon us. He told us of the vast ability and genius of the Prime Minister, whom he declared was the only man in Australia capable of voicing the opinions of the Australian people in Great Britain. In the midst of grave dangers, with war right at our door, he considers that this great genius in our midst should desert Australia and go to England.
– Only for ten weeks.
– I would say the same thing if Mr. Curtin were Prime Minister.
– We are fighting for our very existence.
– Something happened in Indo-China.
– It has done so many times.
– The honorable senator is getting out of his depth.
– Nonsense !
– Three years ago, on the 30th June last, I sang what I thought was my swan-song in this chamber. I little thought then that I should again have the honour and privilege of entering this chamber as an Australian senator. I do not suppose that any honorable senator remembers what I then said.
– That is what our leader said.
– That is the honorable senator’s fault.
– That is rot.
– ‘Owing to the fact that the voting was fairly evenly balanced at the elections last year, the stocks of the Menzies Government have fallen. The failure of the Government to do many things which the people expected of it has resulted in strong criticism of it by the people. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and his Ministers in this chamber have prated about what the Government intended to do in the direction of providing for the defence of this country, but two years have elapsed since the war began, and practically nothing has been done. We have heard a good deal about the production of munitions, aeroplanes, ships and tanks, but what production has taken place? We are told that the position in the Pacific to-day is very serious. We are also informed as to what Wirraways, Beaufort bombers and other aeroplanes that have been constructed in Australia are capable of doing. Although aerodromes have been established, and munition factories and other works of a military nature have been built, has anything been done in the direction of providing the anti-aircraft guns necessary for the protection of the ‘ people ? I read in a newspaper that, in the city of Plymouth, the morning after a heavy bombing raid had occurred, there was a parade of air raid precautions workers in a street in which all the houses had been destroyed. Following the procession was the King of England, who offered words of sympathy to a lady who was standing on her doorstep, and told her that the air raid precautions workers would assist her and that the increased production of aeroplanes would prevent similar raids by German airmen. The lady replied to His Majesty : “ Provide us with anti-aircraft guns and that will prevent the Germans from coming here”. According to the press report, the King said : “ Yes “, and soon afterwards anti-aircraft guns were placed in position. This action was taken because the King realized the needs of his people, and I urge that similar action be taken in this country to protect the people of Australia.
The international situation was serious when the announcement was made that the desire of the United Australia party, the Country party and the press of Australia was that the Prime Minister should be sent to Great Britain. The position is still very serious, but not so serious as Senator Sampson would have us believe. The honorable senator, during his speech, apparently imagined that he was addressing a recruiting meeting. If he was preaching in this chamber for the purpose of securing the support of the members of his own party, and inducing them to do something for the defence of Australia, he can have no conflict with the Australian Labour party. As he said that capital ships were required, I remind him that the Royal Australian Navy that played an admirable part in the last war was established by the Australian Labour party. Did the honorable senator protest against the sinking of the old warship, Australia? Having lost caste with the members of his own party and with the people of this country, the Prime Minister has apparently decided that he might he able to rehabilitate himself by going to London. I point out, however, that when he was last in London, and sat in the British War Cabinet in the very heart of the Empire, he made no protest against the Australians being sent to Greece after having fought a desert battle from Egypt to Benghazi. Those gallant men, after strenuous desert fighting, were brought back to Alexandria and transhipped to Greece without proper equipment. There, our Australian boys cried: “My God for aeroplanes”. As one who took part in the last war, and constantly used a hand-grenade, which was a major weapon on that occasion, I can understand die plight of the Australians in being short of proper equipment. With the changes in the technique of war, the demand is now for aeroplanes, tanks, tommy-guns, bren-guns and brengun carriers.
Senator Sampson, who is a recruiting officer, urges our young men to go to the present war, but he must know that his words will fall on deaf ears, because our troops have been ill-equipped. Many Australians who escaped with their lives from the campaign in Greece were able to save themselves only because they were powerful swimmers. Some of them reached ships, and sometimes those vessels were torpedoed or bombed. Others reached the Island of Crete, but even there our troops were still without proper equipment. “My God for a tommygun”, they cried. This was not the cry of a political party, or even of military officers, but it came from the boys on the field. They said that there was only one tommy-gun to five soldiers. Even at that time, the Prime Minister was still in London. When the Germans chased our troops out of Crete, they were again forced to swim in an attempt to escape with their lives. They were forced to evacuate the island as fast as they could. They had no dive-bombers, bren-guns or tommy-guns. Some who were fortunate enough to be picked up by passing vessel* reached Alexandria. Our fighting forces are men of worth. They are prepared, if necessary, to give their lives, but they are not concerned about that. They are concerned only about what is happening at home. I remember that in the last war, we were not very much concerned with what was going to happen to us. We were in the front line, but that did not matter. We were concerned only with what was happening at home. On the home front to-day we have the Prime Minister, and what has he done for our soldiers ? Some time ago we “were told that we could not prevent even one modern fighting division from entering this country, but nothing has been done since. Eighteen months ago we were told that our munition industry had to be built up, but what has been done? A man came to me nearly two years ago and said that he could build tanks. He proved that he could do the job, but still no tanks are being built in this country. There is much talk to-day of the cost-plus system, but the only effect of that system is to make the rich richer. In some organizations operating under the cost-plus system men sleep for ten hours a day and are paid for twenty. The greater the cost, the greater the profit. The workers do not want that system. Many years ago, when there was not a war on, the cost-plus system was used in the building of the New South Wales State Savings Bank, and the men employed were disgusted with what went on. Unless the Prime Minister can show us that his Government is prepared to do something for Australia, he should not be permitted to go to London as the Australian Prime Minister. Senator A. J. McLachlan said that he had no desire to see the Australian people trammelled, but I wonder if the presence in London of the Prime Minister would prevent the Australian people from being trammelled; I wonder if the Australian people would be in a better position if any member of the Government went to London. The great Australian Labour party has determined that the place for the Australian Prime Minister is in Australia, attending to the grave international situation which is supposed to exist. I say that whether the Prime Minister be Mr. Menzies or Mr. Curtin, if the position in the Pacific is so serious as is alleged, his place is in Australia, and not gallivanting around London being dined and wined by the powers that be.
Report of Western Australian War Industries Committee.
Motion (by Senator Collett) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to bring to the notice of the Government the delay that has occurred in releasing the report of the Western Australian War Industries Committee which sat in Western Australia and Canberra several months ago. We have been told that this influential committee presented a very valuable report. Small portions of it have been disclosed from time to time. I understand that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Collett) was chairman, that Mr. Curtin was a member and, that when he was called away to the eastern States, you, Mr. President, acted in his place for several weeks. We know that the committee did very valuable work. The people of Western Australia have already been able to see some of the good results that have accrued from its labours. One of them was mentioned to-day by the Minister for Munitions (‘Senator McBride) when he said that the Government had decided to more than double the size of the new munition works to be built at Welshpool in the metropolitan area of Perth, and that further extensions were also under review. As the people of Western. Australia are anxious to know exactly what is contained in the report, I trust that it will be released at an early date.
– in reply - The remarks of the honorable senator will be brought to the notice of the ‘ Prime Minister. I understand that there are certain questions upon which the report of the Western Australian War Industries Committee has a bearing which are still under consideration and which may perhaps prevent its early release.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
National Security Act - National Security (Prices) Regulations -
Declarations Nos. 52 to62.
Declarations (Papua) Nos. 4 and5.
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory
Rules 1941, No. 181.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 16 of 1941 - Amalgamated Engineering Union.
No. 17 of 1941 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association; Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service; and Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 18 of 1941 - Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department.
No. 19 of 1941 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; Amalgamated Engineering Union; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
No. 20 of 1941 - Amalgamated Engineer . ing Union; Australasian Society of Engineers ; Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen; Australian Workers’ Union; Boilermakers’ Society of Australia; and Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal - Report for year 1940-41.
Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 157.
Child Endowment Act-Regulations - Statutory Rules. 1941, No. 180.
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department of -
Civil Aviation - N. H. Cranstoun, A.F. Ison, J. Shaw.
Labour and National Service - T. C. Graham.
Regulations- Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 158, 191.
Customs Act - Proclamations prohibiting the exportation (exceptunder certain conditions) of -
Beeswax; Calcium Silicide (dated 2nd July, 1941).
Rubber Tyres and Tubes, used; Rubber Waste (dated 2nd July, 1941).
Dairy Produce Export Control Act- Regulations Statutory Rules 1941, No. 156.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 163, 154, 165, 163, 165, 166.
Defence Act and Naval Defence Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 152.
Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act - Return for year 1940-41.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Albany, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Amberley, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Balmoral, Hunter’s Bay, New South’ Wales - For Defence purposes.
Bankstown, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Braybrook, Victoria- For Defence purposes.
Busselton, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Carnarvon,. Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Cunderdin, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Greta, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Irvinebank, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Maribyrnong, Victoria. - For Defence purposes.
Melbourne, Victoria. - For Postal purposes. Orange, New South Wales - For Defense purposes.
Parkes (near), New South Wales - For Defence purposes’ (2).
Pat’s River, Flinders Island, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Pontville, Tasmania- For Defence purposes.
Queenscliff, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Rocklea, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Swan bourne, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Townsville, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Villawood, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Williamtown, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Motor Industry Bounty Act - Return for year 1940-41.
Motor Vehicle Engine Bounty Act- Return for year 1940-41.
National Security Act -
Butter and Cheese Acquisition Regulations - Order - Acquisition of Cheese.
National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations - Order - Aliens Restriction (Fishing Vessels and other Small Craft).
National Security (Apple and Pear Acquisition) Regulations - Apple and Pear Acquisition Order 1940-1941.
National Security ( Emergency Supplies) Regulations - Rules -
New South Wales.
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders - .
Control of Lights.
Control of Overseas Communications (otherwise than by post).
Control of Overseas Postal Communications (No. 1).
Control of Overseas Postal Communications (Prisoners of War) (2).
Inventions and Designs (173).
Prohibited Places (22).
Prohibited Places and Protected Areas.
Prohibiting work on land. (3). Protected Areas.
Taking possession of land,&c. (65). Use of Land (21).
National Security (Medical Co-ordination and Equipment) Regulations - Order - Control of Medical Equipment (No. 1).
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders- Nos. 327 to 417. Orders (Papua) Nos. 5 to 9.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 146, 147, 149,150, 151, 159, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 178, 177, 178, 179, 184, 185, 186, 188, 190, 194, 195.
Naval Defence Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 187.
Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 128, 129, 143, 164.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1941 -
No. 1 - Forsayth Prize Fund Trust.
No. 2- Motor Traffic.
No. 3 - Limitation (Emergency Provisions).
No. 4 - Workers’ Compensation.
No. 6- Appropriation (No. 2) 1940-1941.
No. 7 - Customs.
No. 8 - Registration of Births, Deaths, and Marriages.
No. 9 - Mortgagors’ Relief.
No. 10 - Police Offences.
No. 11 - Stamp Duties.
No. 12- Supply 1941-1942.
No. 13 - Customs Tariff.
No. 14 - Land.
Northern Australia Survey Act - Aerial, Geological and Geophysical Survey of Northern Australia - Report of Committer for period ended 31st December, 1940.
Papua Act - Infirm and Destitute Natives’ Account - Statement of Transactions of Trustees for year 1940-41.
Papua and New Guinea Bounties Act - Return for year 1940-41.
Raw Cotton Bounty Act - Return for year 1940-41.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Canberra University College Ordinance - Report of the Council of the Canberra University College for the year 1940.
No. 4 of 1941 (Canberra Community
Mo. 5 of 1941 (Advisory Council Ordinance).
Ship Bounty Act - Return for year 1940-41.
Sulphur Bounty Act - Return for 1940-41.
Supply and Development Acts- Regulations -Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 161, 182.
Tractor Bounty Acts - Return for year 1940-41.
War Service Homes Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 162, 183.
Wine Export Bounty Acts-Returns for year 1940-41 (2).
Wire Netting Bounty Act- Return for year 1940-41.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 167.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 August 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1941/19410821_senate_16_168/>.