17th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the fact that section 85 of the Australian Broadcasting Act states that, subject to the act, the Broadcasting Committee shall report to the Parliament on every matter referred to it, will the Leader of the Senate state what action, if any, can be taken against a newspaper which obtains information regarding the report or decisions of the committee and publishes them, or part of them, before the committee has presented its report to the Parliament? If there be no law regarding this matter, will the Government consider the introduction of legislation to prevent newspapers from continuing this practice ?
– As far as I know there is no power to prevent newspapers publishing information obtained by them, but, if the Government considered it advisable to have the matter investigated, the proper authority to do so would, I think, be the Broadcasting Committee. Possibly when I refer the master to the PostmasterGeneral, who administers broadcasting matters, he will have the question to which the honorable senator has directed attention referred to the committee for investigation and report.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1946-47.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1945-46.
– Has your attention, Mr. President, been drawn to a statement in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 2nd July as follows : -
OPERATIONS “FORCED ON WIVES”.
Canberra, Monday. - The hospital shortage was forcing many wives to undergo illegal operations, Senator McLeay said today.
Senator McLeay, Opposition Leader, was speaking in the Senate?
Will you tell me whether the Senate met on Monday, and, if so, why was I not informed ?
– I have not read the statement to which the honorable senator has referred. The Senate did not meet on Monday.
– As four or five days elapse between the despatch of firstclass mail matter from Sydney and its delivery in Newcastle, will the PostmasterGeneral have an inquiry made, in order to ascertain the reason for the delay?
– I shall be pleased to cause the necessary inquiries to be made.
– I lay on the table the report and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subject : -
Gloves n.e.i. including mittens. - Tariff item 113b.
Ordered to be printed.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply and Shipping been drawn to a paragraph appearing in a Sydney newspaper in whichit is reported that large quantities of iron, including galvanized iron, and other iron products, had accumulated at Newcastle and were awaiting transport? Ifso, will he say whetherthe report is correct, and what provision has been made for the transport of such materials ?
– I have not seen the press paragraph referred to, but I shall have inquiries made, and will let the honorable senator know the result.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply and Shipping been drawn to the following statement in the Daily Telegraph of the 2nd July, with reference to coal mines on the south coast of New . South Wales ? ‘It is headed -
Another Dust Victim Dies; Men to . Attend Funeral
THE PRESIDENT. - Order ! The honorable senator may not read newspaper extracts when asking questions, but may summarize, in his own words, what appears in them.
– The report states that the miners would ‘not work on Tuesday so that they could attend the funeral of one of their mates who was the victim of “ dust “. It also stated that this was the third instance of death occurring from dust within three weeks. Further, has the Minister noticed a statement in the Sydney Morning Herald of yesterday that the mine-owners had considered the dust question and had set up n research committee to investigate it both in Australia and overseas? Is he also aware that Mr. Wells, the general secretary of the miners’ federation, had said that he was determined that such research’ should cease, and that the mineowners should get on with the job of introducing water into the coal in order to abate the dust nuisance and save, the lives of coal-miners? Will the Minister urge his colleagues to take action, in accordance with the wish of Mr. Wells, by supporting the request of the miners that the New South Wales Government amend its legislation relating to the coalmining industry so as to force the avaricious mine-owners to provide water for keeping down dust in coal mines?
– Order !
– I understand that South Coast miners did not work on Monday or Tuesday of this week because of a decision, first, to make a demonstration against the dust nuisance in. mines, and secondly to attend the funeral of one of their fellow workers on Tuesday. The joint authority that has been set up by the Commonwealth and State Governments will make adequate provision for the eradication of dust in mines, and action will he taken in that direction as early as possible.
– In view of the serious position of . industry generally caused by the stoppage in the south coast coal mines in New South Wales, will the Minister for Supply and Shipping state whether the Commonwealth Government or the Government of New South Wales is responsible for the terms and conditions of work which have applied to coal-miners for many years? If the miners’ claims in connexion with the serious dust, problem in the coal-mines are just, will the Minister inform the Senate why thu Government did not intervene previously?
– On several occasions, in answer to questions asked by honorable senators opposite, I have made statements in this chamber regarding the prevalence of dust, in coal mines, particularly on the south coast of New South Wales, and the effect which it has on the health of the miners. This state of affairs did not arise to-day or yesterday, or even within the last, ten years. The problem is one of the many legacies inherited by this Government from previous government1. As I have already stated, early action will be taken to deal with the problem by the joint authority that will be appointed by this “Governin en t.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that there is great concern among orchardists in Tasmania at ‘.he announcement of the discontinuance of the apple and pear acquisition scheme? As orchardists must now prepare for. the 1947 crop; will the Minister make an early statement as to the Government’s intention - -whether it will review its decision regarding the acquisition scheme, and, failing that, what other provision it proposes to make so that growers may have some assurance that future crops will be marketed ?
– As I informed the honorable senator previously, the Government’s policy with respect to the disposal of apples and pear* in Western Australia and Tasmania may be decided when the result of the forthcoming referendum becomes known. The people’s decision regarding the organized marketing of primary products may have- an effect upon the plans to be formulated by the Government for the following season’s fruit crop.
– There might be a new government in office before the next season.
– That is merely wishful thinking. This Government will safeguard the interests of fruit-growers in both Tasmania and Western Australia.
SentorCOOPER asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers: - 1 and 2. As already announced by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, on behalf of the Prime Minister on 11th April, it has been decided to place the moneys mentioned in trust to be utilized for research in connexion with the wool industry. In conformity with a promise contained in such a statement, consultations will shortly be held with accredited representatives of woolgrower organizations as to the manner in which the moneys shall be so applied.
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. No Governmentowned houses in Canberra are being used by Legations as offices. A number of privately owned houses are being used as offices until such time as the Legations can build their own offices in the Legation area.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: - 1 to 3. A statement showing the information sought by the honorable senator is being compiled and will be made available as early as practicable.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. The order for medals was executed by the Department of Munitions at the request of the Prime Minister’s Department, as a matter of extreme urgency and time did not permit investigation into the facilities available for the manufacture of medals outside Victoria and New SouthWales, and whether other facilities were capable of undertaking the work and completing it in the time required. It is not considered that manufacture of local requirements in Western Australia would have contributed to economy as the material had to be melted, rolled specially for the job and as rolling facilities are not available in Western Australia, the material would have had to be transported from Victoria to Western Australia for manufacture.
Oral advice of the order was received by the Department of Munitions from the Prime Minister’s Department about 28th March,and an official order on Stokes and Son was placed on 12th April.
The cost of the medals was £16 5s. per 1,000. This includesfactory cost only as costs of distribution have not yet been finalized. It should be mentioned that in view of the urgency of the order, a large amount of overtime was necessary, and the price was affected accordingly.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice-
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
While similar occurrence among white troops would be regarded as mutiny, in no case was the disturbance among the native troops of such proportions that, having regard to the native temperament and surroundings, it was considered to amount to mutiny.
Repatriation and Re-establishment Benefits.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
To what extent are members of the Australian defence forces, now serving with the Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, eligible for benefits that may be prescribed by the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act and/or theRe-establishment and Employment Act?
– The Acting Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer: -
Members of the Australian defence forces now serving with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan are entitled to all existing benefits prescribed by the Repatriation Act and the Re-establishment and Employment Act.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
The. responsibilitiesof the Office of Education are - (a.) to advise the Minister on matters relating to education.
The responsibilities of the Universities Commission are -
to advise the Minister with respect to such matters relating to university training and associated matters as are referred by the Minister to the Commission for advice.
Labour - Machinery and Tools
asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
Debate resumed from the 2nd April (vide page 858), on motion by Senator
That the following paper be printed: -
Foreign Affairs - Statement by the Minister for External Affairs, dated 13th March, 1946.
.- It is regrettable that a considerable period has elapsed since the statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) on international topics was presented to the Senate. It would have been much more advantageous had this debate ensued shortly after the presentation of the Minister’s speech. In the meantime, events overseas have moved with great rapidity, and from many aspects we are now confronted with an entirely different set of circumstances. We are mindful of the fact that the situation in Spain has been brought to a head as a result of the efforts of the Minister for External Affairs, and we have also noted developments in both South America and North America which could not possibly have been anticipated by the Minister.Even an atomic bomb has been dropped in iiic Pacific. 1 congratulate the Government upon its activities in the international field. It Ls rumoured, and it is probably true, that the Government proposes to establish embassies in London, Washington, Moscow and Paris. I regard that as an important step in the right direction. If Australia is to hold the position won for it, first as the result of its war effort, and secondly by the work of its overseas political representatives in the. last three or. four years, it- must move to a strong position in its international relations; I do not know of : any means by which Australia could be better represented overseas than by the establishment of embassies in the capital cities which I have mentioned. The Minister might well consider sending an ambassador to South America, instead of the present Minister at large in Brazil. ‘ For many years Canada has had an ambassador in Brazil, but only during- the last two or three years has Australia sent even h Minister to South America. At present the trade prospects there are not, bright, ln.it when the war-time restrictions are removed there is no reason why a valuable trade should not be developed between Australia and Brazil. Australia is short of cotton, and it obtains supplies from Great Britain or India. We purchase Brazilian cotton from London or Liverpool because under present conditions Brazil cannot supply Australia directly. Australian wool is shipped to London :in cl thence to New York. It then find.* its way to Brazil, where it is. loomed and manufactured into cloth. Woollen goods manufactured in Brazil have even been exported to Australia as an example of what can be done in that country with our wool. The natural tendency in future will be to develop a direct trade in wool between Australia and South American countries,, and every encouragement would be “iven to the development of that trade by the appointment to Brazil of n representative of the Commonwealth of the highest political standing. I urge the Government to give instant consideration to the setting up of an embassy in Brazil so that- Australia’s name may be kept prominently before the people Qf that country. Until about four years ago there was a belief that Australia could become self-contained. Members of the Labour party were just as blameworthy in this matter as were others. It. was thought that as other countries, such as Germany, Italy, Great Britain and the; United States of America, were becoming more and more national in their outlook. Australia also could live independently of other countries. It was believed that if employment could be maintained with a high internal standard of wages we could be practically independent. But history has shown that that narrow’ nationalism was one of the major causes of the conflict which began in 1939. The war brought home to us clearly that we must mingle more with the people of other countries, and must become better known to them in not only the field of politics but also in the fields of commerce and culture. Therefore, we must send to other countries as many representatives as we can, particularly as many of them are only too happy to reciprocate. Only yesterday the representative of Brazil presented his credentials to the Governor-General; he intends to set up the first Brazilian legation in Australia”. T believe that what Brazil has done, other countries also desire to do. Brazil differs from some of them in that it was an ally of the Commonwealth in the war which ended less than a year ago. Brazilian battalions fought in Europe, and the productive capacity of that great country was used to the utmost to assist the war effort of the Allies. Newspaper reports indicate that the Brazilian- representative has worked in close union with Australia’s representative at meetings of the United Nations. The Australian point of view, as expressed by the Minister for External Affairs, has been consistently supported by the representative of Brazil. Such close union between the representatives of the two countries’ should be of benefit to both of them. As our contacts become more numerous our friendly relations should become more firmly established. That, I hope, will be the result of our contacts with not only Brazil but also other South American countries.
Although I congratulate the Minister for External Affairs on his efforts on behalf of Australia and in the interests of world peace, I join issue with him in regard to the Spanish question. To me it seems extraordinary, that a representative of a component of the British Commonwealth of Nations should ‘ so embarrass the United Kingdom and the Empire’s great ally, the United States of America, by instituting an investigation of affairs in Spain, in order to ascertain whether that country constitutes a danger to world peace. From my reading of the reports, it would appear that the movement originated with Australia’s representative. That is what disturbs me. The position would have been different had the movement originated with, say, Poland, or the Soviet Union. I cannot see what is to be gained in the present world set-up by changing the ruling power in Spain. It is all very well to go back over the years to the time when Franco became the ruling force in Spain. We are far enough away from the conflict in that unhappy country to know what it was all about. We know now. that it was a conflict between the left and the right. Neither the left nor the right party is any friend of Australia, [t so happened that in the conflict the right party Avon. There is no doubt that German Fascist brigades helped Franco. Just as surely we can say that Communist forces helped the Spanish Government. The civil war in Spain was purely a conflict between the left and the right. The best Communist organizers in the world concentrated their efforts to ensure the victory of the left, hut they failed. L repeat that neither the left party nor the right party is any friend of Australia. Why we should take sides with the dictatorship of the left is beyond me, particularly in the light of what has happened in Europe since the termination of the war. We can see the trend of internationalism and power politics in Europe to-day. Already most of the Balkan countries have become sovietized. Excepting Greece and Turkey, the rest of the Balkan countries, have come under Soviet domination. We know the difficulties that have been associated with the holding of general elections in Rumania and Poland. In the Soviet Union members of only one party may submit their names as candidates. If that is the democracy for which we fought we have been led far along the garden path. That is not democracy.
If the Russian people .prefer that way of life, let them have it; it is their own business. But those who are watching world developments are anxious that the whole of Europe should not be enveloped in the “ Red “ movement and become sovietized, because .as soon as Soviet control is established in any country its internal policy thereafter is directed from Moscow. We have been told that since the days of Trotsky world revolution has been absent from the policy of the power centred at Moscow, but there are other ways of attaining an objective than by engaging in a revolution. That political means can be used to achieve the same end has been demonstrated in Rumania where the control of one of two of the most important ministries in the government has caused democracy to be swept aside, and the law of the totalitarian left established in its place. Other countries, such as France, Holland and Belgium, have shown that when it has been possible to have a .truly democratic vote of the people, there has been a movement away from communism. Should a majority of a country’s citizens, voting under a truly democratic system, cast their votes in a certain way we should accept .the decision of the majority. The system of voting that has been employed in Soviet Russia and in Poland makes us aware of the unfortunate fact that there is no true democracy in those places. Australia’s Minister for External Affairs has now fallen into the childish trap of endeavouring to open up the Spanish dispute. How could Great Britain and the United States of America gain advantage from such a move? It is not Australia’s part to embarrass its friends, and, undoubtedly, that would he the result of intervening in the Spanish affair. From the outset, when a Communist-organized bloc in France decided to close the frontier into Spain and appealed to Great Britain for help, Great Britain has wisely refused to become embroiled. Now, the matter has been raked up by Australia’s representative” abroad in such a way as to secure publicity on the front pages of the world’s newspapers. I should be very surprised to learn that the Commonwealth Government had issued any directions to him on the subject. I do not know the facts, hut my guess is as good as anybody’s guess, and I believe that the Minister acted without instructions from the Government. This shows that our present system is not suited to the job of dealing with international problems. This could be remedied by establishing a Foreign Affairs Committee, as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) and I have frequently suggested, which could be directed to examine problems of international relations and have the right of access to secret cables, subject to the same oath of secrecy as applies to Cabinet Ministers. Such’ a committee would be able to consider all aspects of Australia’s relations with other countries, and could guide the Government on. matters of policy. I do not suggest that it- should be a one-party committee’. It could be formed of representatives of all parties from both Houses. Probably one of the most influential men in the United States of America to-day is not a Cabinet Minister, but the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Tom Connally. He is one of the most important figures in American public affairs, and, by virtue of his position, he speaks with great authority in the Senate on international affairs. Australia is taking a prominent place in the councils of the world, and therefore we should establish proper machinery to ensure that Ministers engaging in discussions abroad 3hall give voice to considered decisions. I hope that there will not be a repetition of the Spanish affair, in which Australia’s ministerial representative has embarrassed Australia’s friends without gain to the nation. The’ Spanish political situation is a matter of internal concern to Spain. We should have learned the wisdom of not interfering in the affairs of other nations from, the outcome of American interference in Argentina. The. United States of America, in effect, declared Argentina “ black “. It cancelled Orders for goods worth hundreds of millions of dollars that were waiting to be shipped to Argentina. Those consignments were sent to other parts of the world, many of them being diverted to Australia. The United States of America, also issued a special publication recounting the sins of the Peron administration and exposing its close con- tacts with Nazis. What was the reaction of the people of Argentina when they became aware of such interference by a foreign power? Peron went to a free election, opposed by a- cultured man of good reputation and of great capacity, namely, Tamborini. Tamborini seemed to have good support from the workers and of the middle classes, but, as the result of American interference, Peron was returned to power by the greatest majority in the history of the country. Tamborini’s candidates failed to win even one seat in the Senate. This was principally due to interference by another nation. The Spanish people would react in the same way. If an election were held in Spain during an investigation of its affairs, the Franco administration would be returned topower by an overwhelming majority. That would be the natural reaction of. the people. Their resentment of outside interference would be indicated by their votes. Australia has reached a stage in its political growth at which the Government must consider carefully the establishment of some organization, independent of Cabinet, which can give all of its time to the consideration of international affairs.
Australia has much to gain from cooperation with other nations. ‘ We have learned the lesson of nationalism and of the fate to which it leads a country. We travelled that road to its very end, and were plunged into war as a result. Our next step must be to develop a policy of co-operation with other nations. This thought brings me to Australia’s present relations with the United States of America. That nation is endeavouring to secure support for the Bretton Woods Agreement, a scheme of international finance. I should like to know, a lot more about the agreement, but, on the surface, it has a great appeal because it represents one of the things for which we fought during the war, namely, closer understanding with other nations. It sets’ out to establish a stabilized international currency, and to develop an organization whereby, if industrial depression and unemployment should occur in one country, the stabilized central bank envisaged in the scheme could assist that country so that unemployment and destitution would not be allowed to> spread throughout the rest of the world. The virtue of the Bretton Woods Agreement in principle is undeniable, although we> may not know much about its proposed application and administration. Therefore, it seems to me that an opportunity should be afforded to debate this matter exhaustively. We must ee-operate with the other nations in every possible way. That is why I ‘ congratulate this Government on its efforts- to facilitate communications with other countries which is a difficult job involving many ‘problems. Until the war began, Australia was isolated from Great Britain and the United States of America. Travelling time from England to Australia by . steams-hip in J.93& was six weeks, as it had been ever “since 1900. The- shipping companies had not been able to shorten the trip by even one <lay in 40 years. To-day, however, it is possible to travel from Great Britain to Australia aboard an English Lancastrian in 62 hours. The trip across the Pacific to America on a Matson liner, the fastest line of ships operating on that route, takes 21 days. The flying time by a Liberator is 35 hours. These times will be shortened and the degree of comfort of passengers will be increased. Thus, we shall be able to maintain the closest contact with the governments of neighbouring countries, whose friendship is of great importance to us. For any Commonwealth Government to attempt to stand aloof from other nations in the future would be criminally negligent. We must foster our relations with both Great Britain and the United States of America. The fact that Australia is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations must not prevent us from developing and maintaining friendship with America. In the Pacific, Australia cannot stand alone. We have learnt the lesson that the coloured people to the north of Australia are not ignorant black-fellows. They have as much intellectual capacity and’ enterprise as white people in any part of the world. Within a period of 50 years the Japanese developed to a standard which white people took from 300 years to 400 years to reach. That observation applies to the Indonesians and ‘ Chinese. The Indonesians are a highly intelligent r-ace. For hundreds of years’ they have been satisfied with their lot, living very close to nature. But those days are passed1. The present fight by the Indonesians for independence is evidence- that they want to control their own affairs in .the future ; and they will do so whether it be to-morrow, five years or twenty years hence.. But one day the Indonesians will establish an independent republic to the north of this country. If it could he said that the Indonesians have not the capacity of the Australian aborigine, who is supposed to be of very low mentality, we need- not be concerned about that development. However, we must not forget that many of the Indonesians are of a high mental standard, and, properly educated, there is no doubt that they are capable of doing all that the Japanese, or any white people, are capable of doing.. The Dutch have made great .play of the fact that the Dutch navy went into battle and fought for Australia. That is true, but. we must not forget that the great majority of the personnel on Dutch warships and vessels were Indonesians who had been trained to a high standard of seamanship. Therefare, to the north of Australia there is a potential danger to this country if only on the basis of weight of numbers. Unless we increase our population ten-fold, those nations to the north of us will be capable of enveloping and wiping us off the face of the earth. Great Britain is too far away and it has too many responsibilities of its own to be able to render adequate assistance to us. In the next war, if it is an atomic war, we- can forget any possibility ‘ of help from that direction. No country in the world is so vulnerable in an atomic war as Great Britain. We must plan our defence in two directions. We must co-operate closely with the United States of America and share bases with that country. All of the bases which have been developed and used by the American forces against, the Japanese should be jointly maintained and shared by Australia and America. After all, the Americans should not worry about, our having a share of these bases because we are too small a nation to be of danger to them. But we want to feel that we can count on the Americans in maintaining peace in the Pacific and in our own defence should the necessity arise. Such, a policy will bind the Americans to us in the future. “We cannot survive alone. Secondly, Great Britain, because of its vulnerability, must transfer to this country, which I suppose is the least vulnerable of any country to atomic attack, its heavy industries and military production units. We must be in a position to manufacture in this country the very latest instruments and weapons whether -they ‘ be associated with atomic developments, or the development of rocket or jet-propelled ‘aircraft, or special units of artillery. The very latest instruments and weapons which science can develop should be manufactured in this country. The best scientists should be attracted to this country, where they can establish their laboratories and experimental units in order that, in the future, with the aid of the United States of America, and the most modern weapons of war, we shall be capable of surviving the most serious threat that might arise. None of us places any faith in the idea of a war to end wars. The -history of the world is a history of wars; and the war that has just ended may breed the germs which will make the war of to-morrow. Unless we are practical in our approach to this problem the war of the future may find us unprepared. This is Australia’s primary duty to its citizens. We have a population of a little more than 7,000,000 people. I suppose that no nation of similar size has in so short a time made -such extraordinary progress as we have; and I believe that what we have done in the past is only an indication of greater expansion and development in the future. We shall develop in the Pacific, under the Southern Cross-, a great land ; and it is our duty to ensure that this land is kept for the British and white races for ever. It is the duty of any government always to bear in mind tho threat that might confront us in the future, whether it comes horn the coloured races to the north- of this country, from the development of sovietism along lines followed in other countries, or by direct attack by forces of any foreign nation. It is our duty to be alive to that threat, whatever form it may take, and be prepared to -meet it. But we shall not be prepared unless the people of Australia apply themselves to their own problems with patience and understand ing. It’ is useless to be critical of the other- fellow when one does not know his case. In this chamber numerous attacks have been made by honorable senators opposite upon trade unionists. Some of those attacks may have been warranted, but in most cases they were not. If I wished to do so I could make attacks just as vicious upon employers. I know of employers who say that they will not produce essential commodities because present taxes are too high. It is not always the worker who speaks like that. I have heard those views expressed in Martin Place and in big business centres, where employers have said that heavy taxes are ruining their incentive, and that they prefer to play golf three days a week instead of increase their income. In spite of the fact that production is the keynote of our prosperity, they say that because of heavy taxes they will not produce. Production must come from not only the worker but also the employer. If an employer will not invest his money because he is afraid that his’ additional income will be taxed, and, for that reason, he will not work, he is as much a traitor to the community as the man who, with pick and shovel in his hand, refuses to do a fair day’s work. I recall the refusal of the Leader of the Australian. Country party (Mr. Fadden), to assist the Government in its last loan campaign. That right honorable gentleman should know as well as any one else in the community the importance of the success of government loans. We do not want to follow in the steps of the United States of America along the road to inflation. Unless Commonwealth loans are filled, and surplus purchasing power thus absorbed in the easiest possible way, pressure will be brought to bear to lift all price controls. We shall then experience the turmoil which the Government has bent its best endeavours to prevent. But it cannot succeed if the employer will not give consideration to the just demands of the employee, and the employee will not reciprocate, and if men like Mr. Fadden will not help to make .a success of government loans. After all, he should know that in helping in that way he is helping the nation and himself. Under such conditions we shall face ‘ much trouble in the future. “We must sink the small differences that divide our community. No community in the world is more closely united than the Australian community.” We as a people have a high standard of living. We have more in common, fewer differences, and less degradation and misery than any other country. We have much to be proud of. We can achieve much by the exercise of patience and understanding of the other fellow’s point of view. If we apply that principle to all sections in the Parliament, the rest of the community will probably follow our example. There lies our future. It may be troublesome; it may be smooth; -but out of it may emerge an Australia which may rival the United States of America as the leading nation of the world. There is no saying where this country, properly handled, may stand in world affairs within the next 50 or 100 years. Let us pray that, whatever our future may be, Australia will be directed and controlled by the descendants of the men and women who live in it to-day, and that they will maintain the standard of living of its people or raise that standard to an even higher level. The old world is tottering. The control of the world has recently moved from Europe to the United . Stages of America, which is stronger to-day than Russia or any European power. If there be close liaison between the United States pf America and the nations of South America, and between -Canada and the United States of America that . dominance in world affairs will continue. If such a statement ‘had been made 50 years ago it would have been scoffed at. But if the population of this country is sufficiently expanded who among us can say that within the next 50 or 100 years control of the world will not have moved to thiscountry which we have the honor and privilege to govern to-day?
– I agree with Senator Armstrong that so long a time has elapsed and so much has happened since the presentation of the paper which we are now discussing as to make a debate upon it in the Senate of little or no value. In fact, I would not have debated the subject but for the speech of the honorable senator. I admire him for his reasonableness and courage, and regard his speech as one of the most promising I have heard in this Senate for a long time, and one which has raised the level of debate in this chamber. I am not sure whether the honorable senator was advocating .the establishment of a foreign affairs committee which would formulate a policy on foreign affairs, or the establishment of such a body to act as an adviser to “the Government and the Parliament in that important matter. Whilst the Government will always have to accept full responsibility for its foreign affairs policy, I am not unmindful of the great assistance which could be rendered by such a committee. If Senator Armstrong intended that such a committee should, as it were, usurp the functions of government and lay down a foreign policy, I would be at issue with him; but if he visualizes such a body carefully investigating foreign affairs in the light of international developments and advising the Government thereon, I support him entirely. The honorable senator is to be congratulated upon criticizing, as indeed I do, the manner in which the foreign policy of this Government is being pursued. I would go further than the honorable senator and say that the Government having no foreign policy whatsoever, simply grasps at passing fancies and allows its Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) to formulate its opinions, in these matters. It has permitted the right honorable gentleman “ to perambulate over the face of the globe and to commit this country to a foreign affairs policy without consultation with his colleagues in the Cabinet. I am ‘ inclined to think that that view is shared by Senator Armstrong. I agree with the. honorable senator that at this “time our safety lies in the greatest possible accord among the English-speaking peoples of the world. At present the power of veto is vested in only five of the great nations.- What power Australia has in that respect can be exercised only in conjunction with Great Britain. Therefore, when we .witness that power of veto being prostituted and used unfairly time and time again to prevent discussion and consideration of world affairs, it is all the more necessary that the British Commonwealth of
Nations should speak with, a common voice on matters pertaining to its relations with the rest of the world. I agree with Senator Armstrong that if a foreign affairs committee is established it should maintain close touch with similar committees established by -other components of the British Commonwealth of Nations, especially with a parent committee established in the United Kingdom. Australia can do little- or nothing on its own account, and the pin-pricking of other nations and changing of face that has been going on during the last few months have ‘ not redounded to the credit of this country. From what we have been able to gather, the Minister for External Affairs has gone a long way in the direction of being the sole arbiter, of Australian foreign policy. Senator Armstrong has drawn attention to the fact that nowadays it is possible to travel by air from Great Britain or the United States of America to Australia in three or four days and that, therefore, constant consultation between the Minister for External Affairs and his colleagues in the ‘Cabinet should be comparatively easy of achievement. I suggest that the right honorable gentleman should return to Australia frequently from his missions abroad in order to consult the Cabinet and obtain the viewpoint of the Australian people in respect of matters dealing with our relations with other countries. If that were done advantages would accrue, not only to the Government, but also to the people of Australia. I do not believe that the people of Australia, like to see the red rag being flaunted before the eyes of the world. After all we are looked upon by the world as being a small community. We are undoubtedly numerically small and, our safety lies in the fact that we remain aware of that. No boasting on our part will make us anything but a small community. Whilst we have admired the manner in which the Minister for External Affairs has exerted his dominant personality at meetings and conferences with overseas delegates, we must look upon his actions, not only with a certain amount of admiration, but also with a certain degree of caution. It is for the Government itself to lay down a more i or less settled foreign policy and for the Minister” to champion that policy in his consulta tions with the representatives of other countries. We. do not exactly know where , we stand with regard to foreign affairs, and Until we get a clearer view than we have at present of the aims and aspirations of Russia and the United States of America we. cannot progress far along the road to world peace.-
I was . interested to hear Senator Armstrong’s references to the Indonesian, situation, and the danger to Australia because of the large population in the Netherlands East Indies. I have always had in mind the potential .danger from that quarter. I have wondered whether it would be preferable if the whole of Indonesia were under one government, or whether we should be safer if it were controlled by several governments. It has always seemed to me that a strong and solid Empire in the Netherlands East Indies would be to the advantage of Australia. If the people in those regions were- divided into small and separate nations, each island could be used as a stepping stone towards Australia. The tendency in the Celebes and in other islands is to prefer to be independent of Java. Even if the. Indonesians were a single power, with a definite foreign policy opposed to our own, the potential danger would be known ; but otherwise the islands could be used as stepping stones, as was done, by Japan in its progress towards Australia. I am doubtful with regard to the Netherlands East Indies. I do not wish to say anything offensive, because I am discussing our foreign relations on the same plane’ as that- selected by Senator Armstrong. Whilst I realize that all of- the irritation and insult- that has been directed from Australia towards our friends the Dutch has not emanated from the Government of the Commonwealth,- but from only a section of this community, the people of Australia must assume that the present Government approves of the action of the wharf labourers and others who refuse to load or repair Dutch ships in Australian ports. We can only surmise that the Government accepts full responsibility for its policy towards the Dutch, and is prepared to have the foreign policy of Australia placed in the hands of irresponsible bodies outside, this Parliament. Otherwise the Government has failed in its , duty to lay down the foreign policy ofhis country. Ishould like it to exert its right to determine a policy thatis in the best interests of Australia, and not allow outside bodies to dictate to it as to what its policy shall be to a friendly nation. If the Government does not take that stand, it will have failed to honour the vow taken by it on assuming office to safeguard the best interests of this country. Only one authority is responsible for our foreign policy, and that is the Government. I hope that at long last Ministers will have sufficient courage to say to the people “ We are the Government, and we lay down the foreign policy of this country “. Ministers should be sufficiently courageous to say to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, “It is all very well for you to go your own way, but, after all, the foreign policy of Australia is a matter for us to determine, and we take responsibility for it”.
I compliment Senator Armstrong upon his speech. He has had the courage to criticize the policy adopted by a member of the Government of which he is a supporter. Seldom does an honorable senator opposite dare to take exception to the actions of a member of the Government of which he is a supporter. His speech was welcome, and it inspired my contribution to the debate. Courage such as Senator Armstrong has displayed is most desirable. The Government should say, “ We, and nobody else, direct the foreign affairs of Australia “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Order of the Day No. 2 - International Labour Organization - Twentyseventh Session - Resumption of debate from the 2nd April, on motion to print paper - discharged.
Debate resumed from the 19th June (vide page 1509), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the following paper be printed: -
Conference of Prime Ministers, London, April-May, 1946 - Report to Parliament by the Right Honorable J. B. Chifley, M.P. Prime Minister of Australia, 19th June, 1946.
– The speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) on his return from the conference in London of Prime Ministers of the Empire is one of the most important that has been made in this Parliament since I have been a member of it. I commend the right honorable gentleman upon his attitude to the great problem of the defence of Australia. I hope that I shall not be misunderstood when I say, as I have previously stated, that I regret that he was not able to spend more time than he did in London and Washington. He said that he arrived in London some time before the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Mackenzie King, and also before the arrival of the Prime Minister of South Africa, General Smuts. The problems discussed at that conference transcend in importance any others with which we are called upon to deal. I was more than disappointed at the brief stay of the Prime Minister in Washington, where I had the privilege of spending three weeks. There I met men in important public positions, and I was most favorably impressed with their attitude to Great Britain and Australia. They showed a desire for the closest union between the English speaking peoples, and their attitude was not prompted by a selfish desire to serve their own ends. Among the political leaders of the powerful nations, there is none more anxious for peace than those in charge of public affairs in the United States of America. Following World War I. they realized the great mistake made by the members of the Senate of the United States of America and other political leaders, in their failure to follow the wise lead of the late President Woodrow Wilson, who did much to establish the League of Nations.
It was most refreshing to know that, after the meeting of the United Nations at San Francisco, 94 out, of the . 96 members of the Senate, the most powerful political chamber in the world, representing the 140,000,000 people of the United States of America, voted in favour of the Charter of the United Nations. As the Prime Minister has said and hisremarks have been confirmed by political leaders in Great Britain - the Englishspeaking peoples should work and pray for peace through die United . Nations. It is easy to be critical of the work of human hands, because this has its imperfections, but, in view of the conditions prevailing in the world to-day, what is the alternative to the United Nations? I can see none save destruction greater than that experienced during the recent six . years of war. When we recall what has happened in Great Britain and Germany, we can realize the misery of the people of war-stricken countries. Australia, in our time, has experienced a second world war, and we are still paying for the first. The last will cost in pounds, shillings and pence four times as much as World War L It is unnecessary for me to state what the war of 1914-18 cost, or to dilate upon the waste that has occurred because of the recent world conflagration. Many millions of innocent and peace-loving people have been called upon to suffer. There are honorable senators on both sides of the chamber who are among those whose sons have paid the supreme sacrifice. Only those who have been bereaved by war are fully aware of its horror.
I commend the Prime Minister upon Ins speech, which commits the Government to do all it can in the interests of peace through the United Nations, and I find myself in complete agreement with the Government on the major points referred to in the speech. I trust that honorable senators will bear with me if I quote at length from the speech of the Prime Minister, f .shall do so because I want to concentrate on Australia’s obligations in the future rather than try to attribute blame for what has occurred in the past. All parties in this Parliament should have learned something from the past, and should now put aside all differences with a view to arriving at a sound defence policy for the future. We should decide what part Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, should play in providing for its defence^ so that future generations may give to this Parliament credit for having acted wisely. We should not let our differences in the past interfere with our duty in the future. Despite warnings by military experts and others who foresaw trends in Europe, democratic countries, such as Great Britain, the United States of America as well as Australia failed to appreciate how great were the dangers confronting them, and did not stand up to their obligations. Great as wasthe disaster which befell the American nation at Pearl Harbour, that attack by the Japanese was probably the best thing that could have happened, because it did unite the people against a determined enemy. I trust that never again will that great country follow the policy of isolationism, wishful thinking, and smug complacency, which was only too evident after the termination of the war of 1914-18. If we turn back the pages of history we shall find that, following the conclusion’ of every war, there has been a tendency for politicians and others to ignore matters of defence. Who would have thought that within 21 years of the war of 1914-18, with all its sacrifice and loss, Australia would have been caught flat-footed, and unable to present any real defence against the Japanese? Yet that was the position in which we found ourselves in December, 1941. I do not want our children., or our children’s children, ever to be placed in a similar .position. At San Francisco a practical policy had to be adopted, and so the United Nations Charter makes provision that countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and the United States of America should be able to form regional groups, with a view to working out a common policy for the defence of such areas as the Pacific region. Not- a plan of aggression, but only a common defence policy to be put into operation in the event of an attack, was proposed. Senator Nash will recall that at San Francisco the great French leader, M. Boncour, had a most practical approach to every subject that came up for discussion. As the representative of France, which had suffered so much at the hands of Germany, he stressed the necessity to have power to defend the ideals of the United Nations. His statement : “ Strength without justice is tyrannical,, but justice without strength is a mockery “, contains a great truth. One of the most important decisions made at the conference was that the United Nations should have the power to enforce its decisions. Any country which believes in the United Nations should be prepared to stand up to its obligations by providing forces to ensure that its decisions are. given effect. It has been truly said that the best way to ensure peace is to be prepared for war. That principle is accepted in the community generally. Every Parliament, and, indeed, every municipal council, provides the means of enforcing its decisions. As some time has elapsed since the Minister for Supply and Shipping tabled the report of the Prime Minister, I shall quote some of its passages. One reads -
One of the most remarkable achievements of the war is the high degree of friendship and co-operation which has been created between the British Commonwealth and the United States of America. It has been of fundamental importance to the successful conduct of the war and, if what has been demonstrated to bc possible in war can be maintained in peace, a notable contribution will have been made to international relations of the future. The realization of it should be a cornerstone of our freign policy.
In my opinion, the Prime Minister should have spent more time in the United States of America. The people of that great country appreciate the power and prestige of its President, and they would have appreciated an opportunity to meet Australia’s Prime Minister, not only because they would like to have met Mr. Chifley, smoking his pipe, but also because he is the Prime Minister of this country. Had he remained in the United States of America longer, the right honorable gentleman would have had opportunities to thank the American mothers for the sacrifices their sons had made in order to defend Australia’s shores. He could also have met business men anxious either to come to Australia or to invest their capital here. He could- have discussed with representative Americans some of the matters which are causing irritation at the present time. For instance, he could have discussed with them the control of certain Pacific islands. I cannot imagine any more important subject for discussion at the present time. “Whatever the result of the forthcoming general elections, and whoever the next Prime Minister of Australia may be, I say now that he should visit the United States of America, Great Britain and Canada at the earliest opportunity. I believe also that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives and the Leader of the Australian Country party also should visit those countries to study at first hand important international problems which will mean so much to all of them in the years to come. There has been some criticism of visits abroad by lesser political lights, of whom I am one; but whatever may be said on that point, there is no reason at all why the leaders of- the three great political parties in this country should not go abroad. “While I was in Great Britain I had an opportunity to discuss numbers of problems. Senator v Armstrong has referred to many subjects this afternoon, among them new methods of warfare, and the great sacrifices made by Britain in the war. He said that Australia would have to do more in the future than in. the past, and I agree with him that that is a matter which cannot be brushed aside or treated lightly. I am pleased to know, and am glad that it is on record that the Prime Minister saidI could not but feel disturbed. at the burden of armaments resting upon the British Commonwealth and on the United Kingdom in particular, after a war which had resulted in the complete victory of the United Nations.
I was also pleased to note that regarding regional security in the South- West Pacific Area, including the use of bases by the United States of America, the right honorable gentleman said -
Embedded in the matter of regional security in the south-west Pacific is the use by the United States of America of bases on territory controlled by the Australian Government. The policy of the. Government was stated to the House by the Minister for External Affairs on the 13th March last. We welcome an arrangement for- the joint use of bases on the principle of reciprocity, but the provision of bases is only a part of the whole military plan for the defence of the region, and must be related to ‘an overall plan for the maintenance of security in this area.
As honorable senators know, article 52 of the United Nations Charter encourages regional arrangements for peace, and security. We should welcome reciprocity with the United States of America -in regard to Pacific bases. That country expended a huge sum of money in developing Manus Island, and therefore, I was disturbed and depressed when I read a newspaper report last week that Americans were not satisfied with the views expressed by the Minister for External Affairs regarding Manus Island, and reciprocity generally.
– Nor were they satisfied with what General Sir Thomas Blarney said.
– That is so. I regard General Sir Thomas Blarney’s statetment as most unfortunate. I agree with what the Prime Minister said. I do not know, what the Minister for External Affairs said to displease the American people, and, in the absence of the facts, I cannot say whether lie was right or wrong. But whatever he said, a grave responsibility rests on the Government. I believe that the intelligent people of this country, especially those who suffered losses of” loved ones in the war are anxious to know Australia’s attitude in regard to the important matter of Pacific bases. Senator Armstrong mentioned that in Australia and New Zealand there were only about 9,000,000 white people, and that, even in another hundred years, without the- hearty co-operation of the United States of America, the white population of the two dominions would be helpless against the attack of a determined aggressor. That statement strengthens my conviction that the leaders of the several parties in this Parliament should study these problems with the leaders of other countries, in order that they may be better qualified to act in ways which will be of lasting benefit to Australia. The Prime Minister went on to say -
As a principal power and a member of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific, Australia must be prepared to shoulder great responsibilities for the defence of that area, including the upkeep of our bases which are essential to the strategic plan.
Earlier I referred to the heavy burden of military commitments being borne by the people of the United Kingdom, who poured out blood and treasure without. stint, to save the world* Therefore I told the conference - and 1 am quite certain that I expressed the sentiment of both sides- of this House and of the people of Australia - that it was recognized that Australia must in future make a larger contribution towards the defence- of the British Commonwealth -
I agree with every word of that statement, and I trust that in future the Parliament will see that those words are backed by deeds. We have been too apt to put aside these matters in favour of local problems.
I commend the Prime Minister for his attitude. He continued - - that this could best be done in the Pacific, and that the approach to a common scheme of defence for this area should be by agreement between the United Kingdom. Australia and New Zealand, and thereafter with the United States of America, and later with other nations with possessions in this area. These views met with the full endorsement of the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
It is proper that, as partners, we should meet together and agree on our plans, but it must be made known that the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations have no desire to “ gang up “ in order to gain their own ends to the disadvantage of the United States of America. One good thing that the Minister for External A.ffairs did at San Francisco was to prove to the Americans and to others that Australia’s views could differ from the views of New Zealand and Great Britain, and could -be stated fearlessly. That fairminded approach to the problems under discussion at San Francisco did more than anything else to convince the Americans of the fallacy of the myth that the British Empire seeks to serve its own ends first on all occasions. The Minister’s fearless approach to the matter had considerable merit. It required diplomacy and common sense, and I derived great satisfaction from his attitude. Although I advocate that Australia should express its views fearlessly, I do not want anything .that we should do to be anti-British <;r anti-New Zealand. In this connexion, I was pleased that Senator Armstrong expressed a point of view opposed to that cf the Minister for External Affairs in relation to Australia’s attitude towards the very difficult and complicated problem of Spanish affairs. Spain is close to Great Britain, and within easy reach of Australia’s life-line to Great Britain, and therefore I sincerely hope that there will not he any difference of opinion between Australia and Britain in relation to Spain. Another interesting aspect of the Prime Minister’s statement was what the right honorable gentleman elaborated upon as “ the wider view “. He said -
This wider view was emphasized in a proposal prepared by the United Kingdom that each member of the British Commonwealth should accept responsibility for the development and defence of its own area and the strategic zone around it, and should agree to the principle of joint responsibility for the protection of lines of communication between their areas.
That id a great responsibility. We cannot shelve it in the future as we have done in the past. Reasonable financial provision must be made for defence, particularly in these days when complicated international problems confront us and the actions of some nations are, to say the least, alarming. We, as the representatives of the English-speaking people in this part of the world, cannot afford to be complacent aud to sit idly by. I hope that the Leader of the “Senate (Senator Ashley), in closing this debate, will give to the Senate an assurance that, whatever may happen, this Government will support the promises of the Prime Minister with action as soon as possible. The Prime Minister also said -
In view of the great burden of post-war military commitments being borne by the people of the United Kingdom, it will be apparent that only the United Kingdom could originate a proposal of this nature to all the governments of the Empire. It is interesting to note, however, that, in principle, it is in broad agreement with the Australian Government’s proposal relating to regional security in the South-West Pacific and the assumption of a greater responsibility for British Commonwealth defence than before the war. Responsibility for the .development and defence of their own areas is in accordance with the principle of responsibility for local defence accepted by the self-governing dominions at the Imperial Conference of 1923.
We failed to stand up to those obligations, and the people in Great Britain, Canada and South Africa who were responsible, must also accept a share of blame. I have forgotten what government was in office at the time and, at this stage, I am not concerned about that. The fact is that, when the Commonwealth Government was asked to contribute money for the defence of Singapore, it failed to do so. The gallant little dominion of New Zealand, with a population of only 1,750,000, contributed £1,000,000 in response to that request. Nevertheless, when Singapore fell to the Japanese, some Australians were the first to moan about the loss. Whatever government was concerned must accept its share of the blame, and the people also must take some blame. Had public opinion demanded adequate defence preparations, no government would have dared to defy it. In the past very few people in this democracy took an interest in the things that really mattered to the nation. If we are to progress as we wish to do, the people of Australia must take more interest than they have done in politics, politicians, and national problems. It is easy to be cynical and to criticize members of Parliament. We, who have had experience, know that national problems which must be dealt with are not easy to solve. Many an outside critic, upon being elected to Parliament, believes that he will change conditions very quickly, but such men are not in Parliament long before they come down to earth and realize how slow and difficult it is, with all the problems that beset Governments, to make the progress that is so desirable. Every section of the community must accept responsibility for defence preparedness, and we, as leaders, must do the best that we can to solve the nation’s problems. The Prime Minister also said -
The conference agreed that the proposals be referred to the governments for consideration in conjunction with their advisers.
That has been done. We have been advised that technical men have left to attend conferences overseas. I trust that the Government will do even more than this and will establish some organization bo deal with this problem and keep it before the people and the Parliament. State Governments should be urged . to accept- their share , of responsibility for the maintenance of effective systems of rail and road communications, water supplies and other services of urgent importance in time of war. We were sadly handicapped in Australia during the last war by our inadequate transport systems and water supply services. Unless this Government establishes some active and experienced body of men to encourage and co-ordinate developments in the various States with what is being done by the Commonwealth, we shall fall into -the old system and take the risks that we took before the war. If we’ should make the same pathetic blunders in the future as we have made in the past 40 or 50 years, we shall not deserve to escape destruction.
A very important problem that has arisen from the rapid development of the use of atomic energy and of air power is that of the dispersal of -key industries within the Empire. This matter is of particular interest, to Australia. As Senator Armstrong has said, 45,000,000 people in the United Kingdom are vulnerable to attack under modern conditions of war. This conference, realizing the. seriousness of the position, looked for some part of the Empire where key industries, could be established and made ready to expand to meet’ the emergency of any offensive action. This great island continent is better suited than any other part of the Empire for this important role. What the Prime Minister said on this subject is of great importance to Australia in both the industrial and the economic spheres. It is obvious that, with only 7,250,000 people in a country the size of the United States of America, we have not yet scratched the surface of the nation’s potentialities-. With modern “ mechanical slaves “, nobody can -tell what advances we can make in this country .in the future. We proved, in times of crisis during the war, that we could do things in the industrial sphere that staggered the experts in Great Britain and the United States of America. We have the opportunity to benefit from the mistakes of more highly-developed countries and we should be able to continue to advance from, the stage which they have already reached. We must take full advantage of that opportunity in order to strengthen this white outpost of the British Empire. The Prime Minister said -
During the war, considerable steps were taken by Australia to give effect to these principles for the decentralized development of productive capacity, throughout the British Commonwealth. Scientific developments during the war emphasized the paramount importance of this! . . - 1’ explained that it is the policy of Australia to develop in peace resources for the manufacture of munitions as well as the supply of raw material, in order to make the Commonwealth hs self-supporting as possible in armaments and munitions of war, including aircraft and shipbuilding…..
The United Kingdom submitted to the conference the following general suggestions regarding the development and distribution of resources: -
Tie development of heavy industry, and in particular the shipbuilding and aircraft industries, in the Dominions, is a task to which Commonwealth countries should give the highest priority which economic conditions will allow.
We have accepted a greater share of responsibility in the work of maintaining world peace. We have done this directly in relation to the actual defence of the British Commonwealth in respect of the manufacture of armaments. But it is useless for us to accept this responsibility unless the leaders of our people resolve to stand up to these obligations. Having had the bitter experience of the last war, let every member of the Parliament declare that he will insure that the defence of this country shall not be neglected. I returned from my recent visit overseas convinced that Australia has a great opportunity. This country can feed and clothe, not only its own people. In time it will be capable of feeding and clothing possibly 100,000,000 people. Our great problem is that we cannot defend the. great heritage we now enjoy without the assistance of Great Britain and the United States of America. Let our efforts in the economic, political and diplomatic spheres be directed towards achieving the objective set out by the Prime Minister, namely, the maintenance of the close co-operation with these countries which we were forced to establish in our time of peril. If we do that, future generations will have cause to thank us for thus attending to the defence of Australia which is our major problem.
– I, as a supporter of the Government felt most refreshed by the enthusiasm of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) in supporting the views set out by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) in the paper now before us.. The Leader of the Opposition repeated the Prime Minister’s statement that Australia should do all it possibly can through the United Nations for the preservation of world peace. With that view every one will agree. But without being unduly critical, it is paradoxical to hear the Leader of the Opposition declare so emphatically that in the immediate future Australia must pay more attention to the problem of defence. I recall that the late Mr. Curtin, when he was Prime Minister, expressed very definite views with respect to the defence of Australia which were not considered with favour in high places. They were described as obsolete.
The late Mr. Curtin was ridiculed for expressing such views, not .only by many politicians, but also by the press of Australia. Whether the views which he expressed were correct does not matter much now. The important- point is. that ultimately his views were implemented. Australia received a very rude awakening when Singapore fell. All of us recall the view widely held by many politicians in this country at that time that Australia could be adequately defended by the great British Navy. However, the British Navy was not able to do the job which many people thought it would be capable of doing. As the result of those events Ave have had to reorientate our outlook on international affairs. As the Prime Minister has said we must do all we possibly can through the United Nations to preserve world peace. As one who had the honour to be an Australian delegate at the inaugural conference at which the United Nations was created, I emphasize the need to-day for the exercise of tolerance. We must endeavour to maintain amicable relations between the nations of the world. This need is more pressing to-day than it was twelve months ago. Most of us who have kept abreast of world events since the United Nations was established realize the great changes which have occurred in the international sphere. These changes have occurred, so rapidly that the individual finds it difficult to keep abreast of them. I support the suggestion for the appointment of a joint committee of both Houses to deal with international affairs. The object of such a committee would not be to determine government policy, but to enable members to have access to the latest authentic information on what is happening in the international sphere. To-day, we are obliged to rely upon the press for this information, but the press is not reliable. Certain statements made in the newspapers were later shown to be inaccurate. It is essential, that members of the Parliament should have access to authentic information in these matters. We should not be obliged, as we are at present, to grope in the dark for information in our efforts to find a solution of problems with which we are concerned. I regret that Senator Armstrong referred as he did to the Spanish question. I remind him that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) became identified with that subject as chairman of the special committee appointed by the Security Council to investigate the position of Spain in relation to the maintenance of world peace. The Minister for External Affairs did not originate the matter. Rightly or wrongly, some of the United Nations held the view, similar to that of the special committee, that diplomatic relations with Spain should be broken off by all of the United Nations. It may be all right for a member of the Parliament as an individual, to say, in effect, that the Minister for External Affairs was “ off the line “ in dealing with this problem and was not keeping faith with the Australian people; but I should like to know whether the Minister acted on his own volition in this matter or as an appointee of the ‘Security Council to investigate the. subject. All of us agree that the United Nations must succeed if world peace is to be preserved. When we look at the Spanish problem impartially, we must admit that, during the Avar, Spain 1was a fascist country. Spain is still a fascist country; and it is the duty of the United Nations in their endeavours to guarantee world peace to destroy fascism wherever it exists. Looking at the problem as a lay-man I believe that all members of the United Nations should consider breaking off diplomatic relations with Spain. That problem is still before the United Nations ; but whatever the ultimate decision may be, Australia as a member of that body must be prepared to abide by its decisions.
We must do all in our power to preserve peace among all members of the United Nations. We cannot make any reservation in this matter in respect of the Soviet Union. Press reports during the past few months provide “ground for the suspicion that the Soviet is infiltrating into certain European countries. We are told that the Communist party is making great inroads into certain European countries; but when we study the results of general elections in some of those countries, we note that communist candidates have not fared so well as some people thought they would. However, the Soviet in its international activities is endeavouring to uphold what it regards as an ideal, and it has the same right to do so as has Australia, or any other democratic country, to do what it can to further the ideal of democratic government. Our approach to difficulties of this kind must be as broad an approach as possible if we are to preserve world peace, and overcome difficulties which may arise between the United Nations. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that Australia’s primary aim at .present should be to maintain a thorough understanding between the English-speaking countries. We must establish fraternal relations with the United Kingdom, the United States of America and all members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I believe that the absolute unity of these nations is the basic requisite for the maintenance of world peace. We realize that Australia, with a population of over 7,000,000 and New Zealand, with a population of fewer than 2,000,000 people, will not be able, by their “own efforts, to protect themselves should peoples to the north of Australia endeavour to emulate the J apanese. So, of necessity we must maintain the closest kinship with the rest of the English-speaking peoples of the world. I do not believe that there are insuperable difficulties in the attainment of that ideal. We shall probably have to elucidate problems relating to trade barriers, and matters of similar complexity; but these of themselves are not insuperable. Senator Armstrong has referred to the Bretton Woods Agreement. At the moment I do. not propose to comment on that agreement other than to say that in principle, I believe it to be worth considering, though in many respects, in its present form it may be detrimental to the interests of this country generally. In my personal experience I found the average man in the United States of America no different from the average Australian. Both share the same aspirations and ideals and we must look for an acceptable formula which will enable us to cement our friendship, and to consolidate those aspirations and ideals. The only difficulty I foresee is to create what I might term a national spirit in this country. The attitude taken by so many of us that Australians are the best people in the world will not get us anywhere. It has been said of us that we are not prepared to abide by the decisions of Great Britain, that we do things with which the people of that country do not agree. As an integral .part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Australia has the right to declare itself on any question, and the fact that its declarations do not always find favour with the people, of Great Britain does not in itself indicate an anti-British attitude.
Our greatest contribution in the sphere of international relations can only be made if we maintain the strongest ties of kinship with the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We should do all in our power to bind ourselves in treaties of eternal friendship with the United States of America. Any differences that stand between us could easily be ironed out at conferences arranged between representatives of the two countries.
– There are many problems much closer to home to which the Government might give attention.
– I admit that that is so. ‘ Not long ago in this chamber we considered the- Australian-New Zealand Pact, in which the two dominions concluded an agreement with respect to trade and matters affecting their mutual defence. At that time some honorable senators opposite took the view that that pact represented an anti-British combination. . To-day, however, the Leader of the Opposition . seems to have altered his views on that subject
– The objection raised- by honorable senators on this side of the chamber was that an agreement was arrived at between the two dominions just prior to the Imperial Conference at which it should first have been discussed.
– The principal complaint was that the pact had been concluded without reference to the Parliament.
– That is so. Since its establishment the United Nations has done a tremendous amount of good work. The international bodies established as part of that organization are already beginningto bear fruit throughout the world. There has been a great deal of criticism of the Minister for External Affairs on the ground that he has “ poked his nose “ into matters which do not concern Australia. A good deal of that criticism has been of a purely personal character, inspired ‘ by people who are jealous of the right honorable gentleman’s prestige in the councils of. the world. He has been fearless in his enunciation of Australian ideals and has done more than has any other Australian to. give Australia the prominence it deserves. I believe that he has made the fullest, reports to his. colleagues and that: the Cabinet has invariably endorsed his actions.. That surely answers the plea of the Loader of the Opposition that we should throwour whole weight behind the United Nations. It is only right that our representative at the United Nations should endeavour to ensure that the organizations established under it do the work for which they were established. It is interesting to note that, in addition to the Minister for External Affairs, several other prominent Australians are occupying important posts, no doubt as the result of the high standing which this country occupies in world affairs. General Northcott, formerly CommanderinChief of the British OccupationForce in Japan,has recently returned to this countryto accept an appointment as Governor of New . South Wales. Mr. Macmahon Ball, who took a prominent part at theSanFrancisco conference, is now a memberof the Allied, Council in Japan and represents Australia, the United Kingdom and India. Sir William Webb, former Chief Justice of Queensland, is now president of the court dealing with Japanese war criminals at Tokio. It has been said that the establishment of the United Nations was but an experiment. I do not agree with that, because membership of the United! Nations carries with it definite obligations to provide military forces to enforce its decisions. The Leader of the Opposition has referred to the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations which was established principally at the suggestion of a former president of the UnitedStatesofAmerica, Mr. Woodrow
Wilson. I point out to the honorable senator that the ineffectivenessof the League of Nations arose out of its inability to enforce its decisions. The honorable senator, however, agreed that the great majority of the members of the United States Senate supported the establishment of the United Nations, departing from their isolationist principles to do so, and fully subscribed to the provision in the charter which prescribes for. the utilization of military strength to resist an aggressor or an intending aggressor. We have also to remember . that the president of the first meeting of the Security Council was another prominet Australian, the present Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin). Yet while that gentleman was. engaged upon some of the most difficult problems that have confronted the Security Council, carping criticism was: levelled against him in this country. That attitude will not get us anywhere. The Leader of the Opposition has referred to the proposals of the Prime Minister in respect of the future defence of this country.. The plans made now for our future defence willensureour safety in. the. years ahead. No matter whatgovernment may be in office in the immediatefuture -and I havenofears as to. the outcome of the forthcoming, elections - it will have to face up to the necessity ion providing a standing army,, navy, and air. force, not only for the defence of this country, but also. to. honour our obligations as a member of the United Nations.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collett) adjourned.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1946 -
No. 17 - Commonwealth. Public Services Artisans” Association..
No.18 - Commonwealth Medical Officers’ Association.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of External Affairs - O. L. Davis,. J. C. G. Kevin.
High: Commissioner Act -Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 97.
Bands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes - Tottenham, Victoria;
Senate adjourned at 5.29p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 July 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1946/19460703_senate_17_187/>.