17th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
SECRET MEETING OF SENATORS AND
– In view of the undesirable public controversy which has occurred recently on matters affecting defence and other aspects of Australia’s war effort, and to enable members of this Parliament to have a better understanding of national problems and an opportunity to discuss with Ministers many vital subjects from the point of view of the public, will the Leader of the Senate state whether the Prime Minister has yet indicated his decision regarding my recent request for a secret meeting of members of both Houses of the Parliament?
– The Prime Minister stated in the House of Representatives that he is not in favour of a secret meeting of the members of both branches of the legislature, but I shall discuss with him the matter of a secret meeting of honorable senators.
– “Will the Minister representing the Minister for Munitions state whether that Minister has read a statement published in the West Australian of .the 3rd March under the caption, “ “War Contracts “ 1 As the statement alleges that discrimination is shown in the allocation of war contracts, that waste of money is involved, and that in one instance after the expenditure of thousands of pounds on factory and plant the work to be done was transferred to another State, will the Minister have the whole matter regarding the letting of contracts in ‘Western Australia investigated, with a view to granting as many contracts as possible to Western Australian firms capable of doing the work, and ensuring that as far as possible all of the work is done in that State?
– The Minister for Munitions, having been notified’ of the honorable senator’s intention to ask this question, has supplied the following answer : -
The Minister for Munitions had not read tho newspaper article in question until his attention was drawn to it bv the honorable senator, but he lias been advised by his department that in the absence of specific information as to firms concerned and projects it is unable to trace the allegations made. It can be said, however, that ordinarily the department deals with contractors only, and (hat sub-contracts are usually the responsibility of the contractor, while aeroplane parts are not under the control of the Department of Munitions. Every endeavour is made to place as many contracts as possible with Western Australian firms. It is the definite intention of the Department oi Munitions, when .placing contracts in Western Australia, that the contracts should ibc executed in that State.
Newspapers Despatched bt REGISTERED Post.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that relatives and friends of men serving in the Royal Australian Air Force overseas to whom newspapers have been sent by registered post have received those newspapers, through either an Army Post Office or a Royal Australian Air Force Post Office, with the word “ Cancelled “ written across the registration labels? Newspapers, so marked have been treated as second-class mail matter. In view of the fact that the registration of an article sent through the post implies a definite contract ‘between the sender and the postal department, which involves the giving of a receipt and the payment of extra postage, will the Postmaster-General have an investigation made as to the cause of the cancellation of the registration of such newspapers? I shall supply to the PostmasterGeneral labels which bear the word “ cancelled “ so that full inquiries may be made. This matter is of groat concern to many relatives of servicemen to whom articles have been sent by registered post.
– If the honorable senator will supply me with the sample labels to which he has referred, I shall have inquiries made, and shall endeavour
In obtain the information which he desires.
– Will the Minister for the Interior inform the Senate what principle is adopted in deciding the allotment of houses to residents of Canberra? Are decisions based on the needs of families or the length of time applications have been lodged with the housing officer? Is there any appeal from the decision of that officer?
– Houses under the control of the Department of the Interior which become vacant or are erected for the purpose of letting are allotted to those who have a prior claim to houses because of the size of their families or the length of time they have been unable to secure accommodation. Every case is considered on its merits. The department endeavours to do the best it can with the very limited number of houses at its disposal. There is no appeal from the decision of the Minister in any case.
– Has the Leader of the Senate read the report of a speech by Representative Crowley in the United States Congress dealing with lend-lease exchange and Australian aid for America in which he stated that the figures which had been published understated the value of Australian aid for America because of the lower Australian prices? For example, he said Australia was supplying blankets at $2.64’ each whilst the same article in the United States of America fetched $7.67. Similarly, important foodstuffs cost only half as much in Australia as in the United States of America. Will the Leader of the Senate state whether the facts are as Representative Crowley has alleged? In view of the fact that Australian aid to the United States of America is less than that received by us from that country, and we are not looming so large as we should in regard to the lend-lease arrangement, will a better method be considered by the Government of computing the value of our contribution so that the people of this country will know the value of what they are putting into the common pool?
– I have seen the report mentioned, and I am preparing a considered reply which I shall furnish later.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Supply and Shipping whether the negotiations which have been proceeding for some time between the Government of Tasmania and the Commonwealth for the establishment of the aluminium industry in Tasmania have been completed? If so, when is it anticipated to commence production?
– The negotiations have not yet been completed.
– Is it not a fact that the Commonwealth completed those negotiations with the Premier of Tasmania last week ? If that is not so, what are the outstanding points in dispute?
– The Commonwealth has not yet ratified any agreement with Tasmania on this subject. No dispute has arisen in respect of any phase of the matter.
PUBLICITY in London.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Information to bring to the attention of that Minister an article published in Newspaper News of Wednesday, the 1st March, in which it is stated that an excellent article appeared in the World Press News. of London, on the 23rd December, analysing the splendid work being done by the advertising section of the Department of the Treasury, but in which the whole of Australia’s expenditure was given in dollar currency? It was alleged that this information had been supplied in dollar currency by the representative of the Department of Information in London. Can the Minister say why Australia’s expenditure in this instance was given in dollars? Will he take steps to ensure that in future such expenditure when supplied officially will be given in Australian currency?
– I shall bring that matter to the notice of the Minister for Information.
– On the 16th February I submitted a series of questions to the Minister representing the Prime Minister relating to the rates of pay of members of the services and workers in certain industries. In the reply furnished to me on the 24th February, I was told that waterside workers are paid at the rate of 8s. 8£d. an hour. I now ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister if that is correct ?
– I shall obtain the information for the honorable senator as soon as possible.
– I have received from Mrs. Lynch a letter of thanks for the resolution of sympathy and condolence passed by the Senate on the occasion of the death of the Honorable P. J. Lynch.
Release of Personnel - Hygiene
– On the 3rd March Senator “Wilson asked the following question, without notice : -
In view of the fact that 20,000 men are to be released from the Army to assist in primary production, and that only 500 have been released to return to South Australia for this purpose, can the Minister representing the Minister for the Army say whether more stringent conditions are applied to applications from South Australia than from other States?
I am now able to inform the honorable senator that the man-power authorities advise that the proportion of releases granted to applications made for release in South Australia is approximately the same as in other States. More stringent conditions have not been applied in South Australia.
– On the 1st March, Senator Nash asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army the following questions, upon notice : -
In regard to Army hygiene, relating to both the Australian Imperial Force and the Citizen Military Forces -
What qualifications are necessary for personnel engaged in the control of hygiene?
Are medical officers responsible for the control of hygiene, and what are the qualifications they hold ?
Has the Deputy Director of Medical Supplies, the Deputy Assistant Director of Hygiene, or any hygiene officer, authority to lay charges for neglect of duty, against any rank, where necessary, for failure to maintain hygiene to the required standard?
Is it a fact that the maintenance of hygiene is vested only in commanding officers, and that hygiene personnel have power only to recommend to higher authority any necessary action ?
What is the rank of a hygiene officer?
Is it a fact that in Western Australia the supply of chemicals for the treatment of water, disinfectant, and sanitation, did not have first priority; and what is the position in this respect now?
Is it a fact that no qualified chemist, or other qualified personnel, has been available in the office of the Assistant Director of
Supply and Transport in Western Australia, and how has the supply of chemicals been affected?
Is it a fact that supplies of various chemicals for hygiene and water requirements were not available to Western Australia in 1943, although obtainable at the time in the other States of Australia?
Is it a fact that deposits of Kieselguhr, obtainable in Western Australia, were not utilized, thereby keeping that State in short supply of this commodity, and unnecessarily occupying shipping transport, or other transport, from the other States of Australia?
Is the issue of chemical requirements determined upon the advice of hygiene personnel, and in accordance with the requirements of local State conditions?
In the selection of camp sites, is the advice or assistance sought of medical services ?
Is food inspection and testing foods con ducted by qualified food inspectors attached to the hygiene personnel?
What transport facilities in Western Australia are available for hygiene personnel ?
I now furnish the honorable senator with the following replies: -
– On the 24th Feb ruary, Senator Aylett asked the Minister representing the Treasurer the following questions, upon notice : -
The Treasurer has now supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
SenatorCOLLINGS. - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– -The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
Will the Government give consideration to Australian representation in South Africa ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Yes. The Minister for External Affairs favours the proposal and hopes to complete, arrangements later in the present year.
SenatorCOLLETT asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
With reference to questions asked by Senator Collett in the Senate on the 16th February, and to the replies given by the Prime Minister on the 24th February, will the Prime Minister state -
What is the estimated average weekly value of the food, clothing, necessaries, and quarters supplied to an individual - a member of any one of the three fighting services?
(a) Is it a fact that a “danger allowance “ is payable to members of the Civil Constructional Corps if and when employed in certain areas or under pertain circumstances; (b) if so, what is the daily rate of such allowance?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
Review as War Situation.
Debate resumed from the 3rd March (vide page 985) on motion by Senator Keane -
That the following paper be printed: - “ Review of War Situation - Ministerial Statement, 9th February, 1944 “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 16th February (vide page 190), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the following paper be printed: - “ Australian-New Zealand Agreement 1944 - Ministerial Statement “.
.- -The policy of this Government on international affairshas been noted for peculiar twists and changes. At one stage the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said that he looked to America for help; free from the pangs of tradition and kinship. Some time later he followed up that statement with an advocacy of the principle of an Empire Council, and now we have, as an accomplished fact, a unilateral agreement -with New Zealand. The throwing overboard in recent months of at least a portion of the Labour party’s traditional isolationism was welcomed not only by all true Australians, but also by all sections of the British Empire as a step towards greater Empire cooperation. While not for a moment deprecating Australia’s ascension to full nationhood, I feel that the present Government must be warned of the dangers attendant on any approach to segregation from the co-operative councils of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Such a danger is as real as the dangers of isolationism which the Labour party professes to have discarded. Dangers, common to all nations, have been met by the various Governments throwing into a common pool all their resources - the only unfortunate exception being this
Government’s prescribed limits beyond which the Militia shall not fight. This presents a most unfavorable comparison with the recent assurance given by Mr. Churchill that on the defeat of Germany every man, every ship, and every aircraft that could be moved into the Pacific would be sent and there maintained for as many years as were needed to defeat the Japanese. The chief pre-occupation of the Commonwealth to-day should be - What can Australia do, and how can it best do it, to bring this titanic struggle to a successful conclusion at the earliest possible moment? Towards that end all diplomatic activity should be directed. The maintenance of friendly relations with all our Allies, and particularly America, should be a sufficient task for our fledgling diplomacy. Any suggestion that the British Empire has more than one family policy in war or peace tends to weaken its bargaining power. Differences, if they exist, between governments should be ironed out. Pacts and agreements publicly and ostentatiously proclaimed are unnecessary where daily consultation by cablegram and air-mail are possible.
The Australian-New Zealand agreement is this Government’s first essay in pact or treaty making. It bears some of the hall marks, and some of the hoof marks, of its makers. When one stops to think of its handling of many of our major problems, the hope is paramount that its future efforts will be, if not actually beneficial, at least free of downright damage ‘to our good reputation. The present agreement, which shows no lack of numbers in its making, is singularly deficient in a display of the courtesies that should mark such documents, and is practically devoid of a sense of the realities of the present Pacific situation. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) classed it as a “Pacific Charter of permanent collaboration and co-operation “. Nobody, least of all Britain and America, has in any way tried to prevent such a laudable relationship. With victory achieved, nobody outside Australia and New Zealand would or could destroy such co-operation in the minds, the hearts, and policies of the peoples of the two dominions. A government which almost completely turned its back on Great Britain in 1942 and cried aloud to America for help, which it received, now presumes to “ fence off “ the South and South-West Pacific Areas with a sort of Monroe doctrine based on an Australian-New Zealand partnership. The main distinction in this parallel is that Monroe framed the act, which bears his name, to warn a continent’s invaders and to suppress disruption and war in the two Americas, whilst this agreement warns off our kinsmen, our Allies, and our friends. Such a form of, control has been notoriously weak and ineffective wherever it has been tried. I shall make no attempt to deal with the many clauses contained in this document, neither do I propose to deal at length with the merits of the agreement at this stage. I am firmly of the opinion that matters such as those contained in the agreement should be approached by those, who attend the Peace Conference, with open minds and in the best spirit of co-operation, goodwill, and common sense. My main reason for speaking on this motion is to tell the people of Australia, in fact, the- people of the world - and particularly the members of the United Nations - that the views of any one particular Minister in Australia’ do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian people. I am prepared to go further and say that the contents of this document do not reflect the considered opinion of even this Parliament.
The Curtin Cabinet has in its wisdom, or, as I prefer it, lack of wisdom, entered into this pact without first giving to Parliament an opportunity to discuss its merits. In matters of this kind, it is my firm, conviction that the Commonwealth legislature would do well to copy the .Senate system in the United States of America, where there are in existence standing committees with constitutional rights to deal with national problems on non-party lines. I ask the Government, and I ask Senate, to consider seriously once again a proposal for the establishment of a special Senate standing committee on foreign affairs. The purpose of the special committee would be to secure from all possible sources the most up-to-date and authentic information on external matters, for the purpose of educating, not only members of that committee, but also parliamentarians generally on questions which we have, shamefully we must admit, sadly neglected in the past. The presentation to such a committee of matters having relation to problems outside the realms of home administration would be of great benefit to all concerned. I make that suggestion to the Government, and hope that the day is not far distant when we shall see some definite action taken along these lines.
This agreement reeks of isolationism, which makes the New Zealand approval more remarkable, although we must of course remember that the Japanese did not invade New Zealand island dependencies, and that no limits on the use of New Zealand manhood have ever existed. This document lays down what we shall demand at the peacetable, and in the making of peace we ‘ have imposed certain painful but well-known limits on our own activities. It does not achieve anything in the way of war, peace, or security that could not have been achieved equally well without it. It lays down, for instance, conditions of civil aviation, and immediately provides that if these are not obtainable, something less will be accepted. Let us look for a moment at the inconsistency of recent utterances in relation to recent action. On the 14th August, 1943, the Prime Minister advocated the establishment of an Imperial or Empire Council. He said -
I believe some Imperial authority must be evolved so that the British Commonwealth of Nations will have, if not an executive body, at least a standing consultative body . . .
On the 6th September, referring further to his Empire Council proposals, the right honorable gentleman said -
I visualize a Council with a structure similar to the present Pacific War Council, on which representatives of the Dominions would consult regularly with the representatives of the British Government . . .
The place Australia will occupy in the Pacific after the war can never be the same as it was up to 1939 and she must have available the advantage of concerted Empire policy if she is to be a power to stand for democracy in the South Pacific.
The Prime Minister continued -
Australia cannot allow her economic position to be not known or misunderstood with a
Pacific studded by bases occupied by half a dozen nations shut out behind tariff walls . . .
All these phases of Empire government after the war call for the constant association of the best minds of Britain and the Dominions. Anything less is fraught with dangers, both in terms of defensive security and economy, too apparent to be ignored.
To those who have studied the agreement, that statement of the Prime Minister must surely create a degree of wonder and amazement now that the agreement is a fait accompli. We all appreciate the glorious spirit, deeds and traditions of Anzac - a wonderful and outstanding example of - inter-dominion co-operation without the need for an ostentatious proclamation. We all, too, I am sure, recognize the need for the closest possible co-operation with New Zealand, not only in war-time but in peace-time, and the need for both Australia and its sister dominion to assert themselves in the performance of their full part as a unit of the United Nations. There is no justification for unilateral agreements at this stage. I believe that a written agreement, particularly at this time, is unnecessary, provocative, and may well cause disunity and misunderstanding in matters of high international policy where unity and cooperation should prevail. We find such disagreement becoming the subject of a local controversy, and the Minister for External Affairs only the other day made the following astonishing statement : -
The Australian Government looks forward to the restoration of France as a great power after deliverance. The suggestion that New Caledonia and that part of the Australian mandated territory should be ceded to America would not be entertained for one moment by any Australian Government.
The most amazing and most offensive provision in the agreement is the blunt declaration of intention to resume control of our island possessions, for the regaining of which it is doubtful if we have paid most of the price in men or materials, and on some of which few, if any, of our men have even appeared. The migration clauses are singularly illtimed. The invitation to an international conference, which the realities of the situation make us daily less qualified to call, is hardly likely to find a speedy, willing and hearty response. The agreement concludes with the inevitable secre- tariat, which apparently is as essential to validity in the eyes of this Government as the signatures themselves. The agreement is unlikely to please anybody but the two Governments concerned. It is weak in conception and amateurish in statement, and leaves the Government’s brow encircled with thistles which in their enthusiasm and haste it mistook for laurels. Publication of the agreement will pain our kinfolk overseas, although they may be too polite to say so. It may well alarm those Americans who have taken a friendly interest in our welfare, and who have wished us perhaps better than our past peace-time efforts have deserved. It will encourage American isolationists. Preceding the unpardonable insults of the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward), it will tax to the limit the diplomatic skill of the Prime Minister to explain it to both President Roosevelt and Mr. Winston Churchill as anything but a blatant blunder. At its worst, and on the Prime Minister’s own special pleading, it may pass for an act of those who are more preoccupied about the peace for which we all yearn than about a victorious war without which no lasting peace can be obtained. At its best, it may remind the diplomatically matured of two nice little brothers who decided to be friends for evermore and to live in a wig-wam of their own construction and design, in their own back-yard, having out of kindness omitted to tell Mother Britannia, who was busy in the kitchen, what they were doing in the yard, or to thank Uncle Sam for the materials they had obtained from his workshop next door.
I am satisfied that had the intention of the Commonwealth Government to enter into any such unilateral agreement with New Zealand been presented for discussion by this Parliament, this Legislature would have said that, with the existing close relationship and co-operation between Australia and New Zealand, held by the crimson thread of kinship, and the heroism displayed and sacrifices made by the fighting forces of both dominions, such a written agreement was not necessary. Let us all hope that it will silently, speedily and painlessly pass into the realm of history, a mute warning to those who would walk this way again, and that its authors will assume their former roles, forgiven without a penalty under the British Empire Family First Offenders Act.
Motion (by Senator Keane) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . . . Nil
– The numbers of “ Ayes “ and “ Noes “ being equal, the question is resolved in the negative.
.- The subject matter of this paper is of more than ordinary importance, and I must confess that I was astonished to find the moment there appeared to be some disposition to criticize the agreement the Government has entered into, that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) should decide that the time had arrived to adjourn the debate, notwithstanding that, so far as I am aware, there is no other business for the Senate to proceed with. I have never had any objection to the Government seeking the closest consultation with the Government of New Zealand ; it would be most undesirable for the Commonwealth Government to seek to carry out its international policy otherwise. For that reason, I welcome any procedure which is likely to bring about closer contacts be tween Australia and New Zealand in relation to international matters, because many important problems will arise for determination in the immediate future. But I am also conscious of the fact that Australia and New Zealand do not represent a very big force in international affairs. If those two countries are to achieve the things which they desire to bring about, they must necessarily rely in some measure for their defence upon the help of other peoples. My belief is that Australia and New Zealand will gain the greatest measure of security by continuing their association as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. By that I mean not merely that the two Dominions should be members of that great association in name, but also that they should be anxious at all times to collaborate with the Government and the people of Great Britain and of the sister Dominions in matters which are of common concern to every member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. If that be a sound approach to these problems, it seems to me thatwe are proceeding along a curious path if, when we should seek the co-operation of all members of that Commonwealth in pursuance of a common policy, two members - Australia and New Zealand - publicly set out a number of propositions which, apparently, they wish to lay down as the international law which should operate in the Pacific area. I find it exceedingly difficult to justify that conduct in present circumstances. I can well understand Australian and New Zealand Ministers exchanging ideas, but they will not get very far by themselves. They can achieve success in the direction they desire to go only if they also have the collaboration and approval of the Government of Great Britain, and, we hope, in as many respects as possible, of the Government of the United States of America. It does not seem to me that we enhance the possibility of getting the assistance and co-operation of the Government of the United States of America by entering into a quite unnecessary agreement which lays down a number of principles which we have not discussed with the Governments of either the United States of America or Great Britain, and with which they may not be in entire agreement, or to some of which they may in fact be opposed. We are not in a position to lay down our own law with regard to these matters. We need for our protection, and for the achievement of the policy which we desire to pursue, the assistance of other governments and other peoples. It seems to me somewhat presumptuous on the part of the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New Zealand to state in a formal agreement that they will call a conference of the Pacific powers. That does not seem to me to be the line of approach which is most likely to bring about a conference of Pacific powers and to produce satisfactory results.
– Who should call such a conference?
– There should be consultation by ourselves with the Governments of Great Britain and the United States of America, suggesting that they might call a conference, if a conference be desirable. That would be more likely to lead to success than the adoption of a presumptuous attitude by governments representing 7,000,000 people in Australia and 1,000,000 or so in New Zealand by announcing that they intended to call the great nations together to discuss Pacific problems. Clause 34 of the agreement appears to be about as presumptuous a statement as one could imagine in an international document of this kind. It states that Australia and New Zealand are to call into conference representatives of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, the Government of the United States of America, the Government of the Netherlands, the French Committee of National Liberation, and the Government of Portugal, and that His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia is to take the necessary steps to call this conference together. If it were not so serious to find the Commonwealth Government acting in that way, the position would be farcical, but inexperienced men who happen to be in control of our affairs to-day do not seem to realize that there are. ways in which these things can be achieved without rushing into print and publishing to the world at large statements such as those contained in the agreement, thus, perhaps, offending the very people whose ‘collaboration we desire to get. Clause 30 of the agreement states -
The two Governments agree to promote the establishment, at the earliest possible date, of a regional organization with advisory powers, which could be called the South Seas Regional Commission, and on which, in addition to representatives of Australia and New Zealand, there might be accredited representatives of the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and of thu French Committee of National Liberation.
In other words, the clause provides that the Governments of New Zealand and the Commonwealth are to set up a South Seas Regional Commission, which, I understand, will have advisory powers with regard to matters of international concern in each area with which we are particularly associated, and we, the people of Australia -and New Zealand, say, “ On this Regional Commission we may give representation to the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America “.
– The tail seems to be wagging the dog.
– It is trying to wag four dogs. The reference throughout the agreement to the French Committee of National Liberation appears to me to be very undesirable in present circumstances. Apparently, it is assumed that, after the war, the French republic will still have interests in the particular part of the Pacific region with which we are concerned. That may well be so. I do not suggest for a moment that it would be undesirable that France should retain its interests in this area, but are the people of Australia and New Zealand in a position to determine that for themselves? Is not that, perhaps, one of the important questions which must be determined at a peace conference? Should other governments having much greater power in international affairs than Australia then determine that these interests of the French Republic are not to continue in the Pacific, shall we, by virtue of this agreement, be bound to resist those views? That is surely a matter which at this stage should not be discussed between the Governments of Australia and New Zealand in the form of a declaration of principles in a public agreement. The representatives of those governments may very properly hold the view that it is most desirable that the French possessions in the Pacific should be restored to the French Republic after the war. That may be their honest view, and it may be a correct view; but such a view should not be expressed at this time in a public agreement like this. It should be discussed with the representatives of the governments of the United Nations, as those governments are interested in this very problem. We might do some very valuable work if the representatives of Australia and New Zealand made representations to the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America that, in their view, French territories should be restored to the French Republic. At the moment, F am not discussing that issue, but should that be the view of these two governments the proper place in which those representations should be made is through diplomatic channels and with the representatives of the governments concerned. We do not do our own cause or the cause of the French Committee of Liberation any good by taking this step.
– Is the honorable senator aware that this agreement has been applauded in both Great Britain and the United States of America?
– We do not do our own cause or the cause of the French Committee of Liberation any good by making public matters of this kind. [ have not so much faith as some people have in the conception that all international agreements should be negotiated in the open, and that everybody should see from day to day what is going on. There is a good deal to be said in the international sphere at least for preparing the way and carrying on negotiations with one party .and another party behind closed doors. In the long run that method is likely to prove more effective for the Commonwealth of Australia than rushing into an agreement of this kind which states a number of prinples which we are not in a position to put into effect, but in relation to which we must obtain the support of great allies; and to obtain their support we must first obtain their agreement. Let me refer to one of Ihe other pretensions contained in this document. The two governments purport to lay down in this document the method by which civil aviation is to be controlled after the war.
– There is no harm in giving that matter consideration.
– I agree; I have already said that. But great harm is done when, before we have obtained the support of other governments whose support is necessary if we are to achieve our objectives, we put out to the world the fact that these are the things we are going to fight for, and shall insist upon having. Can any one imagine anything more difficult at present than a consideration of what is to be the best method of controlling civil aviation after the war? It is very proper that the Commonwealth Government should direct its attention to that matter, and that the New Zealand Government should confer with the Commonwealth Government on it; but why enter into a public agreement which says that control is to be vested in an international air transport authority, and suggests that international air services are to be conducted by government enterprise, and not by some other form of control. I am not discussing whether the proposition is sound or unsound. What I do say is that it i9 ludicrous for Australia and New Zealand to pretend to lay down what is going to be the law governing the control of civil aviation after the war.
– There is no harm in stating their point of view.
– I think that there is. I think that it is impudent; and I do not think that it assists our cause one iota. I gather that Senator Courtice is in favour of the principles set out in this agreement with regard to the control of civil aviation.
– I have not studied the agreement thoroughly.
Senator SPICER__ The honorable senator is usually in favour of any proposal which this Government puts forward whether he believes in it or not. We shall assume that, following his usual course, he would wholeheartedly support the principles laid down in this agreement. Does he seriously think that the course which is stated here to be the course which Australia and New Zealand favour, is supported by our blatantly stating the policy which we intend to pursue without first consulting the other governments concerned.
– How does the honorable senator know that those other governments have not been consulted?
– This agreement is not with those governments; it is an agreement between Australia and New Zealand.
– What is wrong with co-operation between Australia and New Zealand ?
– I have already said ‘that I have no objection to cooperation between Australia and New Zealand ; but I strongly object to putting into an agreement of this kind a number of pretentious claims which Australia and New Zealand by themselves are unable to enforce, and flaunting those claims to the world without first seeking the co-operation of other governments concerned in this matter.
– How does the honorable senator know that other governments have not been consulted?
– I know that, because the Governments of the other United Nations have not consented to this agreement. If it be a fact that the Commonwealth Government has been able to so impress its will upon the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America that it has induced those two Governments to accept its point of view, I cannot believe that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) is keeping that great event a secret. This trumpery agreement - that is all it amounts to - between Australia and New Zealand was hailed as an historic event. It was signed on a special table with a special pen, and cinemas and photographers were on the spot to make a record of the historic occasion. I cannot believe that if agreement had been reached not only with New Zealand, but also with the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America in relation to this matter, that fact would not have been made the occasion of a great public event, and heralded throughout the land as one of the major achieve ments of the gentleman who happens to control the External Affairs Department of this country at the present time. All that we can assume from this is that the only agreement on this matter is one between Australia and New Zealand.
– Is not that all that it portends to be?
– Exactly, that is what I have been saying all along - that that is all that it pretends to be. The important thing is that this is an agreement between these two Governments in relation to a matter which they are of necessity unable by their own power to bring to fruition. They can achieve what they desire in respect of civil aviation only if they do get the consent and approval of that policy of the Governments of the other United Nations, and in particular of the Governments of Great Britain and the United States of America.
– But that has not been declined.
– It has not been obtained, and I do not think that we assist in achieving such agreement by telling the people with whom we propose to seek to negotiate that we have made up our mind3 on the subject.
– And the reaction in America is not too good.
– So far as we can ascertain, the reaction in the United States of America to this agreement has not been favorable.
– Never better!
– I suspect, and I invite the Leader of the Senate to deny it if it is not true, that unfavorable comments made in the United States of America in relation to this agreement have been censored so that the people of Australia may not read them.
– I say that that is deliberately inaccurate.
– I shall be glad to hear what the Minister has to say about it. I should like him to inform the Senate whether there has been any interference by the censor with communications to Australia purporting to state the views of certain American publicists and members of Congress in relation to this agreement. It is extraordinary that, although discussion of this matter appears to have been going on, very little of the American discussion has appeared in the Australian press, and the most that we get is an occasional comment that appears to be favorable. I realize that this Government is very conscious of criticism - very susceptible to it.
– Very sensitive to it-
– Yes, it does not like criticism, whether it comes from inside or outside Australia. For example, it is known to me that certain books which circulate freely in America, but which contain unfavorable criticisms of Commonwealth Ministers, are not permitted to circulate in Australia.
– That is a new one!
– It is right, and I am quite willing to hand to the Minister extracts from one particular book which is published in America, and which has not been kept out of circulation there on the ground that it might give information favorable to the enemy, but which has been under censorship here for eighteen months. It is named From Suez to Singapore, by Cecil Brown, an American author, who visited this country. The only justification for this censorship appears to be the fact that in it the author refers to what he describes as “ Dr. Evatt’s bitterly anti-English attitude “, that it does not show up the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) in a very favorable light, and happens to contain some criticism of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and some adulation of the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies).
– Is that book prevented from coming into Australia?
– Yes. I cannot even obtain a copy of it in the library of this Parliament, so, having regard to the fact that the Government has taken that action in respect of abook, I can well understand that, when it finds an American newspaper making caustic reflections about this agreement, it takes good care that I cannot read them in an Australian newspaper, for fear that they might undermine the prestige of the Govern ment. I am therefore not impressed when the Leader of the Senate tells me that the comments overseas have been favorable.
– That is true.
– I have no doubt that some have been, but I should like to see all of them. If we could balance them up we should probably find that there were far more unfavorable than favorable comments on this agreement. It is in every respect a most unfortunate document. All or a great deal of the . good that can be achieved - and I do not deny that it can be achieved - by close consultation between New Zealand Ministers and Commonwealth Ministers is destroyed when we proceed to record their agreement in a public document, and notify the world at large that one of the things we seek to achieve is to lay down rules and laws not only for ourselves, but for other countries with whom we have not consulted and whose consent has not been obtained.
I should not like anything that I have said this afternoon to be misconstrued into a criticism of the desire for continuous consultation not only with our colleagues in New Zealand, but also with all the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and with our allies as well. That is most desirable. But what I complain about is that apparently, in order to give this agreement an aroma of importance, decisions which were reached between these Ministers and which, at this time, could have remained secret, have been recorded in a public document in such a way as to give offence to nations whose assistance we need and must seek. By giving that offence, we render it less likely that we, together with our sister dominion, will achieve the ends which we seek to achieve, or promote to the greatest possible extent our own well-being in the settlement of these difficult problems.
– I am sure that the people of Australia were somewhat confused when they read in the newspapers what was being done in Canberra some weeks ago. They have a very real regard for the people of our sister Dominion of New Zealand. The association of
Australia and New Zealand has been most cordial for a long period. The comradeship of Australian and New Zealand soldiers during the last war, in itself, was sufficient to create everlasting sympathy and kinship between us. I am sure that the Australian people wish for the continuance of these very happy relations. It is well known to the Australian people that, since the outbreak of war, continuous and cordial consultations have been taking place between representatives of Australia and New Zealand. I can assure the Senate that as a Minister in the Menzies Government, controlling the Departments of Munitions and Supply and Development, I had personal experience of some of these consultations. Whilst Australia itself was not a highly industrialized country at the outbreak of war - it is, of course, much more industrialized now - we had a greater volume and variety of manufacturing industries in this country than did New Zealand, and consequently it was inevitable that New Zealand, owing to its own lack of industrial capacity, should look to Australia, Great Britain, the other dominions, and the United States of America for material, equipment, and general assistance. I am sure that the people of this country are fully aware that during the whole period of the war New Zealand has received from this country the greatest possible consideration and assistance. From time to time Ministers have made public statements supporting that view. Consequently, the people of this country must have been surprised and even confused to learn that, at this late stage of the war, the Commonwealth Government should have felt obliged to invite representatives of New Zealand to this country to engage in consultations and, as we now find, to make an agreement.
One of the outstanding features of this Government’s policy - I admit that it has been a traditional feature of the Labour party for a long time - is its isolationism. We had hoped that with the responsibility and the knowledge which fell to the lot of present Ministers when they assumed office, they would have realized the futility of continuing their isolationist attitude; but one of the first things that the Government did when it assumed office, even in the midst of a war, was to ratify the Statute of Westminster, for the sole purpose of illustrating to the world Australia’s independence.
– Hear, hear!
– Terrible !
– My view is strengthened by the interjections of honorable senators opposite. Apparently they believe that although we are in the midst of a war in which we have no hope of survival without the assistance of the British Empire and our other Allies, we should flaunt to the world our puny ideas of independence. However, we did hope that, after further experience, the Government would have recognized the futility, weakness, and even the danger, of the policy of isolationism, and so I personally was very concerned when I read in the newspapers of what was taking place in Canberra some weeks ago. I was even more concerned when I learned what had resulted from these consultations, because if there is one thing that has now been made abundantly clear to the rest of the world, it is the fact that this Government has reverted to its policy of isolationism. Admittedly, that isolationism has been extended from Australia itself to include the Dominion of New Zealand, but the fact remains that the Governments of these two countries have announced to the world that they intend to create in this area of the Pacific a group which, according to the terms of the agreement, is to be paramount in certain directions. I realize, of course, that Labour politics are governed largely by groups. The ordinary citizen gets a very raw deal from Labour governments, unless he is a member of an organized group, and I am not surprised to find that group control which operates in Australia is to be given effect outside Australia also. The signatories to the agreement have stated, in effect, that they intend to establish a regional group which will decide the affairs of the particular area in which it operates. It is generally recognized that Australia and New Zealand have been very fortunate during the whole of their history in that they have been able to develop under the protection of the British Empire. It is recognized also.
I think, by most reasonable people, that that happy position cannot, and will not, continue after this war. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, the British Empire, which is based mainly upon the strength of Great Britain itself, cannot possibly give to us the same protection in the future that we have enjoyed in the past. I am not suggesting for one moment that because of that altered relationship we should endeavour to loosen the ties which bind us to the Old Country and the Empire generally; I am merely stating that these new conditions will make it more essential that we should have a solid foundation for our hope of security in the future. We know to our sorrow that after the last war efforts were made to establish permanent peace throughout the world. Because of an almost fanatical adherence to that idea, Great Britain and some other nations allowed their defences to fall below a reasonable margin of safety. The League of Nations had the real support of a large number of people, find also the lip-service of others; but when the time for action came it proved to be helpless. The only basis upon which we can obtain world peace is by an organic union, such as already exists among the components of the British Empire, and which I hope will continue in the future. Having maintained our membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations, we must go farther in the future; we must realize that the Pacific area is of great interest to Australia, Canada, India and other British countries. Fortunately for us, that area is of interest to some other nations also, particularly the United States of America and China. Consequently, it will be necessary for Australia, as a partner in the British Empire, not only to stand four-square with other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, but also to secure the support of the United States of America and China. No honorable senator will suggest that the approach which has been made to this subject in the Australian-New Zealand pact is likely to find much favour in either of the two nations that I have mentioned. In addition to them, Russia will have a big interest in the Pacific area in the future. At the moment, owing to the fact that Russia is not at war with Japan, Russia’s interest in this area is not so apparent as it will be in the future. It cannot be denied that when Japan entered the war Australia was largely unprepared. I say that as a Minister in a Government which had been in power since the war broke out in Europe. That Government believed that it was its duty to make available forces and equipment where they were most needed. But when Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, and the trend of the war took an unpredicted course, the position of this country became precarious. There is no question about that. I have no complaint to make with the action of the present Prime Minister in appealing to the United States of America for help, although I deeply resent the manner of his appeal. . I suggest, moreover, that the right honorable gentleman knew that that help would be forthcoming; he was not ignorant of the strategic plans that were then in hand. Following his appeal, the United States of America and Great Britain sent to Australia all the assistance of which those countries were capable. Every one will admit that the forces sent to our aid at that time saved Australia from invasion by Japanese troops. But after the clanger of invasion had passed, Australia becamesomewhat arrogant and dictatorial. That may have been due to the exuberance of youth, but I regard it as pure effrontery for Australia to attempt to lay down what is to be done in certain directions, as, for instance, in relation to the future of New Caledonia.
– Australia and New Zealand stated what they would like to see done.
– No. The Governments of those two countries have said, in effect, that no changes must be made without their full concurrence. That may be a laudable idea, hut it is not something which we should wave in the face of the people who are now fighting to obtain possession of various areas in the Pacific. It is useless for the Leader of the Senate to say that the reactions to the pact have been favorable. We know that Great Britain has had centuries of experience with colonies and dominions which have got a little bit out of hand; indeed, it is because of the tact of the British authorities in handling awkward situations of that kind that the Empire has held together foi” so long. We know that, although the British Government “was not invited to send a representative to the conference, some British newspapers applauded the agreement when it was published. No doubt the AttorneyGeneral could refer to the generous attitude towards the agreement of such newspapers as The Times and The Observer, but I suggest that when the Prime Minister reaches London something less generous will be said to him. I do not suggest that what will be said will be made public; but one of the jobs which await the right honorable gentleman is that of explaining the agreement. That task will be an unnecessary addition to his already onerous duties. I wish to draw attention to some comments regarding the pact which have appeared in newspapers published in the United States of America, a country which I suggest is of importance to the future welfare of Australia.
– And also to its present welfare.
– Yes. Forces from the- United States of America are already engaged in preserving Australia’s independence, and in the future we shall have to look more than ever to that, great country for protection. As an example of what has appeared in American newspapers regarding the pact made between the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, I quote the following extract from the New York Times : -
Britain and America seem closer together than . do the other constituents of the British Empire. American opinion does not support the stand by Australia and New Zealand at the Canberra Conference that air services using international trunk routes should be operated by ail international air transport authority.
That is only one comment in relation to a subject upon which I have no doubt that the Governments of Australia and New Zealand feel strongly. For these two Governments to say that this form of control of international air routes should be adopted after the war is to put the cart before the horse. A leading article published in the Chicago Tribune on the 23rd January describes the Canberra conference as “to put it mildly, rather ambitious “. The article proceeded -
The Dominions’ statements have overlooked the fact that the predominant power in saving their homelands was supplied, not by themselves, nor by the Empire, but by the United States. Thus it becomes rather ridiculous for the Australian press, in discussing northerly outposts against Japanese, to say in this wider area naval power would be combined with Empire responsibility. lt was American naval planning that halted the Japanese, and restraining them in the future will undoubtedly be America’s responsibility.
More recently the Chicago Tribune had something else to say in reply to criticism by Australians who have the outlook of the present Government, and, consider that we in this country should dictate to people overseas. That journal was dealing with the subject of whether the American soldiers’ scale of pay should be brought into line with that of Australian. It stated -
Instead of carping about the pay of American soldiers, Australians had better get into the Pacific war themselves. There is still no sanction for the use of troops beyond the area of Australia’s direct interests, from which the Japanese are rapidly being pushed out.
Commenting on that remark, a press correspondent observed -
The Chicago Tribune expresses, although in characteristic language, a complaint frequently voiced in the United States.
In view of the reactions overseas, it is rather tragic at this stage of the war that members of the present Government should so try to get into the limelight and take the world’s stage. They act as pigmy diplomats, attempting to force their views upon people overseas on whom we are dependent to-day for our existence. It is interesting to know that in this agreement we are supposed to co-operate with New Zealand. Clause 35 states, inter alia, that the two Governments agree that their co-operation for defence should be developed by -
The organization, equipment, training and exercising of the armed forces under a common doctrine.
– What does that mean ?
– I should like to know. What will the Government do about that portion of the agreement, in which I am vitally interested? Great difficulty has been experienced in the last few months in obtaining the necessary man-power for essential services in this country, so we could reasonably expect that the Government would take early steps to rationalize man-power so that more labour could be made available than at present for essential services.
– That is being done.
– I am keenly interested in that matter because Australia is the only country engaged in the present war which considers that it can carry out its war effort on the extravagant and inefficient and morale-breaking system of two separate armies. I am aware the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) has said that 86 per cent, of the able-bodied men in the Army have volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force, but he did not say how many of them were now in the Australian Imperial Force, and how many had been refused admission to the Australian Imperial Force because of the disastrous system which has operated here. If there is any suggestion that something should be said about this rather appalling position we immediately find that the people of this country - I do not say that we are deluding the people of other countries - are not to be permitted to know the facts. The censorship is imposed, not for the security of this country, but the security of this Government, which prevents the people from knowing the true position. I have before me an example of the censor’s art in deleting unpalatable passages from matter awaiting publication.
– What has this to do with the Australian-New Zealand Agreement ?
– A great deal. I can only assume that honorable senators opposite are either in complete accord with what has been done by the Government, or they do not know what has been done. In order to show how the public is deprived of knowing the facts about the atrocious system of two armies, I produce an article which was written for publication, and from which the censor, in his wisdom, eliminated certain important passages.
– Acting under instructions.
– I am not reflecting upon the censor in any way. No doubt, he is carrying out his instructions.
– Is not that a cowardly statement?
– It is a true statement. This article, among other things, says, “ The position as it stands at present is that the commanding officers are expected to make every effort to get Militia men to transfer to the Australian Imperial Force “.
– I ask the honorable senator to connect his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– In this agreement it is provided that -
The two Governments agree that - (a) their co-operation for defence should be developed by . . . (ii) the organization, equipment, training and exercising of the armed forces under a common doctrine;
In my view we have not a common doctrine in that sense operating in Australia at present. Whereas New Zealand has a one-army organization by which it increases army efficiency and conserves man-power, Australia has a different system. I was just saying that the public of Australia do not know how extravagant and inefficient our two-army system is ; in order that the public shall not be told of that fact the Government gave instructions to the censor to excise certain passages from the article which I propose to read. I am endeavouring to show that our one-army system is completely out of harmony with the terms of the agreement. Yet that state of affairs is condoned by the Government, and in order that the public shall not learn of the inefficiency of the present system, and its adverse effect upon the morale of our men, such statements as I propose to read have, under instructions from the Government, been excised by the censor. The writer of the article says -
When sufficient transfers are available the unit will become an Australian Imperial Force unit. Until that time it is not an
Australian Imperial Force and those who have volunteered to go into the Australian Imperial Force are not in the Australian Imperial Force. So, when the Minister for the Army says that 80 per cent, of our man-power have volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force, he does not tell the country how many of our men are in the Australian Imperial Force.
However, that is something that must not be disclosed to the public, and, therefore, that statement was excised by the censor from this article. The censor has excised the statement. “ The percentages depend upon the efficient strength of the unit “. The statement continues -
If the unit should be already under strength with little opportunity for reinforcements the position becomes difficult if not impossible.
That statement has been excised by the censor. Does any honorable senator suggest that the transmission of that statement to Japan would give the enemy any information likely to endanger the security of Australia? The article continues, “ Now on top of this “ - that is in, “ many commanding officers “ - that is deleted.
– I rise to order. I submit that the matter being read by the honorable senator is not relevant to the question before the Chair.
– The honorable senator has not raised a point of order. The Chair will decide whether the remarks of an honorable senator are relevant to the question before the Senate.
– The censor used a little of his literary skill and in place of the words “ commanding officers “ inserted the words “ the army “.
– I have allowed the honorable senator a certain amount of latitude, but I fail to see how the subject if censorship is relevant to the question before the Chair.
– I hope that the Government is sincere in making this agreement. I believe that it is. I believe that any weaknesses in the agreement :ire due not to lack of sincerity on the part of the Government but to its youthful exuberance and lack of experience in the diplomatic field. This subject forms an important part of the agreement. I am raising these matters because I want f-o know whether the Government intends to carry out those parts of the agreement which, while not affecting other countries, vitally affect this country. Whilst I do not suggest that Australia will exercise very great influence at the peace table, nevertheless it is in control in this country and, therefore, has the power to operate any provision of this agreement by deed as well as by word. So far, however, I have not seen any evidence at all that the Government has departed one inch from the Army administration policy which it pursued prior to the signing of this agreement. The censorship is being used to keep the people in ignorance of our present military set-up, and to hide from them the fact that that organization is entirely out of Une with this agreement, and adversely affects our war effort. Therefore, I think that it is only reasonable that I should be allowed to draw attention to actions of the Government which arc designed not in the interests of the security of this country, but in the interests of the security of the Government itself. In view of this evidence I can hardly hope for a change of policy on the part of the Government in respect of the organization, equipment, training and exercising of the armed forces under a common doctrine as prescribed in the agreement. Therefore, I submit that it is germane to a debate on this matter to explain to the people exactly the difference that exists between our military set-up and that of New Zealand, and the manner in which our inefficiency in this respect can be remedied. However, it cannot be remedied unless this Government takes appropriate action. The article continues-
– So far as my reading of the agreement goes I do not think that it deals with the policies of the respective Governments with regard to the set-up of their Army organizations. I do not think that there is anything in the agreement with regard to a two-army system in Australia as distinct from -a one-army system in New Zealand. Common agreement is reached in respect of the defence of Australia and New Zealand.
– I shall read it again for your information, Mr. President, because evidently you have not grasped the actual wording of the agreement, of which paragraph 35 begins thus -
The two Governments agree that -
Their co-operation for defence should be developed by-
The wording shows that they accept the position that they are not completely in line -
Surely the organization, equipment, training and exercising of the armed forces must be relevant to the military set-up? They are its very foundation. Having admitted that the two Governments are not in line, what does our Government propose to do about it? It seems ‘to me, judging by the action which it has taken to keep people in ignorance of the actual set-up, and of its effects, that it does not propose to do anything to put that portion of the agreement into force. When the Government deletes from an article written on the subject of the Militia and the. Australian Imperial Force, passages such as I have already read to the Senate, it docs not give me any hope that it really intends to do what it undertook to do. I shall not weary the Senate with very much more of this; but I think that I should be allowed toread the following paragraph in the censored article : -
The position resolved itself down to this, that although there is probably a very high percentage of militiamen who have volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force, the positionis that the great majority of them are still in militia units-
That was allowed to appear, but the following was excised by the censor -
And so their self-sacrificing move is null and void. Furthermore, the whole task of persuading the members of the forces is left to commanding officers, and they complain-
– Order ! The matter which the honorable senator is reading has, in my opinion, nothing to do with the agreement, and I ask him not to pursue that line of argument.
– In deference to your ruling, I shall not pursue it, but I think I have put before this chamber enough to show what a blatantly political censorship is being exercised on the press to-day.
The -PRESIDENT.- Order ! Censorship is not mentioned in the agreement.
– As I have pointed out, the agreement is a definite affront to all those people whose friendship we need now, and shall need to a degree quite as great in the future. I have no doubt that one of the big tasks which the Prime Minister will have to undertake during his trip abroad will be to explain away some of ‘those things which have been incorporated and blazoned forth to the world in this agreement. I have no doubt that he will find it very difficult. Apart altogether from the actual substance of the agreement, the way in which it was publicized in Canberra, at the time of the meeting of the conference, has never been paralleled in this or any other country. We had the spectacle of the two less populous dominions setting out - no doubt because their Governments have common political views - to decide the policy which they hope will he discussed and adopted at the Peace Conference. It seems to me that theurge by the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs for publicity ‘and prestige has not brought any prestige to Australia. It was the greatest bit of burlesque, or theatrical dramatism, that has probably ever taken place in this country. The display of moving pictures of the conference, and the publicity in advertising the signing of this agreement, which, in fact, has no effect on the course of the war and will have, I suggest, no effect on the Peace Conference proceedings, showed how completely the Prime Minister and Minister for ‘External Affairs were out of step with realities.
– The people did not say that at the last general elections.
– The people, unfortunately, make mistakes, because they are human, but the hopeful fact is that they will have in the future an opportunity to decide these questions again, what has been done will not add lustre to Australia’s performance in the war. It will not strengthen the hands of Australia’s representatives at the Peace Conference, but, before it is too late, it is as well that those countries which have taken real exception to what has been done should be told that, while the agreement is the child of this Government, which recently returned with a substantial majority from the polls, this agreement was not one of the matters upon which the people of Australia voted on that occasion. They should be told that the Australian people are not so out of stop with realities as to believe that Australia can dictate peace terms and final arrangements regarding the disposition of troops, and of territories regardless of what other nations may desire. Not only do we rely now on the assistance of Great Britain and the United States of America, but in the future it will be necessary to do so. None of us can look very far ahead, but I remind the Senate that there are to the north of Australia countries with populations totalling over 1,000,000,000 people, whose living standard is much lower than ours. Those millions are land and commodity hungry, and as they develop, they will cost their eyes farther afield. If, when they do so, Australia has to rely on its own power, it will be overwhelmed. It is a vital mistake that the Government should pursue its policy of creating power groups, and that certain Ministers, including the Prime Minister and the Ministerfor External Affairs, should be so overwhelmed by affairs on the other side of the world, that they should wish to push themselves into the public gaze by taking a step such as this, which I consider is completely out of line with the concensus of opinion in this country, and is not in the best interests of Australia or New Zealand.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keane) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Keane) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- To-day I asked the Minister representing the Treasurer the following questions, upon notice: -
The replies which I received to my questions were as follows: -
I desire to state that I have given a specific and typical case to the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) through the Solicitor-General. It concerns a soldier, who was discharged after serving three and a half years. Within three weeks of his discharge, his mortgagor sent a request for payment. Under the Moratorium Act a period of six months is allowed for repayment of principal sums, and I am asking that the period be extended to twelve months in order to give individuals’ of such as I have mentioned an opportunity to meet their commitments.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Customs Act - Proclamation prohibiting the exportation of goods (except under certain conditions) - No. 592.
National Security Act - National Security (Universities Commission) Regulations - Order - Declaration of approved institutions.
Senate adjourned at 5.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 March 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1944/19440315_senate_17_177/>.