18th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Honorable Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister for Social Services now in a position to give any different information from that contained in a reply which he gave to a question asked by me in this chamber yesterday in respect of the Friendly Societies Medical Association being requested by a responsible officer of his department to supply him within two weeks with a complete list of the association’s membership in alphabetical order together with addresses? The Minister said in his reply that I must have been misinformed because he was certain that such information had not been sought by his department.
– I have had an opportunity to inquire as to the actual position since I expressed surprise yesterday that any such request had been preferred. I have learned that no instructions to secure that information were issued by the head office of the Department of Health and that no official request was made by the South Australian officeof the department, but that there was a conversation between the chief pharmacist in that office and a member of the executive of the friendly societies’ movement in which the departmental officer indicated that, in due coarse, lists of certain members would be required. Nothing at all was said about a fortnight being fixed as the period within which the information should be supplied. There appears to have been some misunderstanding, apparently by reason of the fact that the representative of the friendly societies took seriously the press report that the date for the commencement of the free medicine scheme had been set for the 15th May, although it will not, in fact, be the date of commencement. What is in contemplation with regard to the supplying of lists of members of friendly societies is confined to a very small compass indeed. The requirement will not apply to the great bulk of the members. The information will be sought in due course only in relation to dispensaries that have been granted a limited approval. There, are very few such dispensaries throughout Australia and the number of members who will be affected will be very small. Accordingly, dispensaries having such limited approval will not have any difficulty in obtaining lists of the relevant members. Furthermore, I assure the honorable senator that they will be given reasonable time to supply the lists. There is no need for hurry in this matter. No official request has yet been made for the lists and none will be made until after the date of commencement of the scheme. The honorable senator can assure his informant in South Australia that the friendly societies dispensary movement will be given ample time to obtain the limited amount of information that may ultimately be required.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Fuel seen the report of a statement alleged to have been made by Mr. G. A. Jackson, the Deputy Controller of Potatoes, Sydney, which appeared in The Sun, Sydney, of the 28th April, that there are millions of bags of potatoes in Tasmania, but no ships available to bring them to Sydney? Can the Minister inform me whether that Statement is correct ; and if so, what steps the Department of Shipping and Fuel has taken to alleviate the position?
– A statement appeared in the Sydney evening press of the 28th April, that millions of bags of potatoes were awaiting shipment from Tasmania, but could not be despatched because of lack of vessels, and that, in consequence, Sydney was confronted with a potato famine. That statement was attributed to Mr. G. A. Jackson, deputy potato controller, Sydney, who is also reported to have said that his attempts to make satisfactory shipping arrangements had been unsuccessful. Mr. Jackson may have authority to speak for the Department of Commerce and Agriculture because he is employed by -that department, but he has no authority to make statements concerning shipping arrangements. The position in regard to that shipment of potatoes is altogether different from that implied by the report of Mr. Jackson’s statement. Within the last few weeks there was such an excess of potatoes on the Sydney market that the Potato Control requested that some potatoes destined for Sydney be diverted to Brisbane by the vessel Momba, which was done. At approximately the same time the vessel Bundaleer transported a load of potatoes from Tasmania to Western Australian ports, mainly because all the potatoes available could not be absorbed on the Sydney market. The Potato Control also asked that arrangements be made to transport a substantial quantity of potatoes to Brisbane, and the Commonwealth river-class vessel River Burnett is now loading at Burnie and Devonport for Brisbane to fulfil that request. Within the last few days a request has been received for an additional vessel to transport potatoes to Sydney, and the joint traffic committee has arranged for the vessel Mernoo to make a voyage from Stanley and Burnie or Devonport to Sydney. That vessel will commence to load on the 3rd May, and will bring 40,000 bags, or approximately 3,000 tons, to Sydney.
Complete and harmonious relations exist between the potato control and the shipping authorities, which include the Australian Shipping Board, in regard to the transport of potatoes from Tasmania. Constant communication is maintained between those authorities, and satisfactory responses have been made to requests by Potato Control for the services of vessels. M.r. Jackson, who is the Deputy Potato Controller, at Sydney, is not the officer with whom the Australian Shipping Board deals; that body normally communicates with the Deputy Controller in
Tasmania. Mr. Jackson’s statement must be regarded as an exaggerated one. I am convinced that the Deputy Controller, Tasmania, would agree that the shipping service is satisfactory, and that it has conformed, particularly in recent weeks, to the demand for this commodity. There are no grounds for the statement that the concentration of ships to transport sugar from Queensland has caused a diversion of vessels which would have been used for the transport of potatoes. The continuance of good relations between the two bodies I have mentioned is not assisted by distorted accounts of the position, such as that attributed to Mr. Jackson.
Cotton and Rayon Goods - Sugar - Meat
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the Government is considering the clamour of manufacturers and distributors of cotton and rayon goods to have the coupon rating on those goods lifted? If so, is it unmindful of the chaos which was caused in the community as the result of the lifting of sugar rationing and the control of lamb prices?
– The position with respect to the abolition of sugar rationing has been fully discussed and the facts, I believe, are clearly understood. Sugar rationing was discontinued only upon the recommendation of the Rationing Commission and after I, personally, had given the matter a good deal of consideration. The restoration of rationing would not provide sugar where none is available for distribution. Even if one were to enter a store with a- book of coupons one could not obtain sugar if it had not been distributed to that locality. Rationing would not ensure supplies. I believe that the restoration of rationing of sugar would not be of any advantage to the community. It was found that the rationing of sugar did not justify the cost involved in its administration, and after a good deal of consideration it was decided, as I have said, upon the recommendation of the Rationing Commission, to discontinue it. The Government is fully aware of the problems of industries in which rayon and cotton are used and the utmost consideration is being given to interests associated with those industries. There is a substantial shortage of yarn in Australia and this, in turn, has caused a shortage of various manufactured articles. The Government is doing everything possible to obtain cotton and rayon yarn from sources other than the United States of America, which must be excluded so far as possible because of the dollar situation, and every encouragement and assistance is being given to Australian industries which require those raw materials.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that it is impossible for butchers to recover the coupon value from extra fat meat? Is he aware also that very few butchers, if any, have not drawn supplies in excess of the value of surrendered coupons ? Oau the Minister explain why only a few butchers with small businesses have been prosecuted and fined for this offence? Is it the intention of the Department of Trade and Customs to prosecute all butchers who offend in this manner, or to correct the anomaly, which is admitted by some deputy rationing commissioners, in regard to the recovery of the coupon value of extra fat meat?
– I am not competent to say whether or not the coupon value can be recovered from any particular type of meat. The present rationing system was introduced after lengthy consideration and consultation with all branches of the industry, and has been accepted by the industry generally. If any evidence of discrimination in prosecutions is brought to my notice I shall ensure that justice shall be done, and that prosecutions shall be launched against all detected offenders, whether their businesses are large or small.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether any consideration has been given to the provision of television programmes in this country. If so, when will a report on this matter be submitted to the Senate?
– Although this matter comes within the jurisdiction of the Postmaster-General, I can inform the honorable senator that certain investigations are being made in respect of television. I understand a report is to be considered by a sub-committee of Cabinet. As soon as information is available, it will be conveyed to the Parliament by the Postmaster-General.
– I have to announce that, consequent upon the retirement of Mr. A. P. Adams, Mr. W. J. M. Campbell has been appointed Principal Parliamentary Reporter, and Mr. H. H. S. Temperly, Second Reporter. I wish to say a few words regarding my personal friend, Mr. Adams, whom I have known for many years. Mr. Adams was an excellent Hansard reporter and he discharged the duties of Principal Parliamentary Reporter in a most creditable manner. On several occasions we travelled together to various places in connexion with inquiries undertaken by the Public “Works Committee, of which I was a member. I always found him to be one of nature’s gentlemen, a good companion, and a man’s man, and it is with feelings of regret that I realize that the time has now come - as it will sooner or later come to all of us - for him to retire. Mr. Adams was a reporter in this Parliament for about 29 years. He came from South Australia-
– A good place!
– Yes, it is a part of Australia, and therefore is good. Mr. Adams spent his boyhood in the beautiful Clare district of that State and while still young he went down to the sea in ships. He made three voyages around the world in sailing ships. Leaving the 3ea, he studied shorthand on the advice of his first employer who said, “It might be of use to you some day “. Later, he was employed as a Hansard reporter in South Australia, before his transfer to the Commonwealth Parliament. In his official capacity, Mr. Adams frequently reported the proceedings in the Senate, and he was therefore well known to all honorable senators. We are indeed sorry to lose him. It will be remembered that he was appointed Second Reporter in 1941, and on the retirement of Mr. Romans, in December, 1946, he became Principal Parliamentary Reporter. Throughout his long association with the Parliament, Mr. Adams was most courteous to all who came in contact with him; he exhibited a high degree of skill in his profession, and was most conscientious in the performance of his onerous duties. He was a most valuable officer and I take this opportunity to extend to him the best wishes of all honorable senators. We trust that he may long be spared, and will enjoy good health in his retirement.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
– The Governmendesires to be associated with the remarks which you, Mr. President, have made on the occasion of the retirement of Mr. Adams. As you have said, retirement must inevitably come to all of us, but I noticed that you did not venture an opinion as to whether it will come compulsorily or voluntarily. Honorable senators of all parties are not looking forward to that time. Throughout my association with the Parliament I have found the Hansard reporters to be most obliging at all times. They have, done, and are doing, a very good job. Every member of the Parliament, whether he be a supporter of the Government, or sits on the Opposition benches, will, I am sure, join with me in extending to Mr. Adams good wishes for a long and pleasant retirement. We hope that he will be spared to enjoy for many years the leisure which he richly deserves.
– The members of the Opposition agree with the remarks that have been made by you, Mr. President, and the Leader of the Senate (Senator Ashley) on the occasion of the retirement of Mr. Adams. We all wish him well in the future. Mr. Adams has served the Parliament well for many years ; in particular, he has been most helpful to individual members of the Parliament. I have known him for a number of years, and I regard it as a privilege to be counted as one of his personal friends. It has been most noticeablethat Mr. Adams was at all times only too willing to assist any member ofthe Parliament requiring help. I sincerely trust be will be spared for many years to enjoythe leisure which will now behis, andthat be will be able to perform whatever other useful work be may choose to undertake inthe years ahead.
Trans- Australia Line : Housing of Employees
askedthe Minister representingthe Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Motion (by Senator McKenna) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act relating to acoustic laboratories.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Debate resumed fromthe 28th April (vide page 1121), on motion by Senator McKenna -
That the following paper be printed: -
International Affairs - Statement prepared by the Minister for External Affairs, 11th March, 1948.
.- The statement on international affairs prepared by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is a most important document. Not onlythe people of Australia, but also the people of every other country are keenly interested in all matters affecting international relations at present because these subjects are continually kept beforetheir attention by means of the radio andthe press. The international situation to-day provides us with a great deal of food for serious thought. The Minister’s statement is a voluminous document consisting of over 200 pages, and it refers to almost every portion ofthe globe, but it consists chiefly of factual information concerning proceedings ofthe United Nations and of the variouscommittees attached tothat organization. I have examined the document as closely as possible inthe limited time at my disposal since it was presented to this chamber, and I have found that, apart fromthe historical record of proceedings ofthe United Nations, it contains very little in the way of definite suggestions forthe solution of the international problems which confront us to-day. Such suggestions should provide the main point of interest in a document of this character.
The statement does not give any clear indication of the Australian Government’s foreign policy. The Parliament is particularly anxious to know the terms of that policy and honorable senators are entitled to be informed of them by the Government. The people also have the right to be given information on this subject. Before dealing with the statement analytically, I take the opportunity to say that, although the Minister for External Affairs has been subjected to considerable criticism as the result of bis frequent trips overseas, I bold the opinion that such criticism is not warranted. If the right honorable gentleman’s continued presence at meetings of the United Nations can in any way lessen the danger of a spark causing another world conflagration, then his missions are fully justified. I consider that the duties of a Minister for External Affairs at this time are so onerous that the office should be regarded as a full-time undertaking. The Minister should not be saddled with the responsibilities of the’ additional portfolio of Attorney-General. This statement is completely impersonal; it would apply to any man, of whatever party, who happened to be in charge of the nation’s foreign policy under present conditions, with the future peace of the world in the balance. The Minister is not obliged to retain the portfolio of the Attorney-General because of any lack of highly qualified legal colleagues capable of doing the work. I know at least one Minister in the Senate who has a sound knowledge of constitutional matters.
The members of this Parliament have a great responsibility in relation to international affairs. They share in the work of governing this country and by means of advice which they give in discussions of this character they can assist the Government to arrive at important decisions. I consider that the responsibility for formulating foreign policy should not rest entirely with the Government but should be shared by all the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. At present we are, as it were, living on the edge of a volcano, and conditions are changing constantly. For that reason, apart from any other, the Parliament should be informed frequently of the Government’s attitude in regard to international developments, and afforded an opportunity to debate it. Because of the development of communications throughout the world, Australia is no longer isolated. It is possible to travel by air to the islands which lie to the north of Australia in a few hours, to North or South America in a day or two, and to Europe in only a few days. That is a factor which must have a profound effect on our foreign policy. Another important factor which we must bear in mind is that we can no longer expect Great
Britain to afford us the same measure of protection as it did in former years. That country suffered terribly during the war; it is no longer a creditor nation, but is a debtor nation, struggling to discharge its obligations. The tempo of international events is increasing all the time, and every day we are informed through the press or the radio of disturbing happenings overseas,Itis obvious from the statement prepared by the Minister for External Affairs that he has pinned his faith in thepreservation of the peace of the world to the United Nations. When that organization came into being I thought, in common with manyothers, that it would do a great deal to ensure peace in the world. However, we cannot blind ourselves to the course of events, and it is obvious that the United Nations has not become the bulwark which we expected. I do not doubt the sincerity or the earnestness of the Minister, who has done, and will continue to do, all that he can to promote the cause of peace; indeed, the earnestness of his efforts cannot be questioned. At the same time, the course of current events reminds us very forcefully of similar happenings between the two wars. An organization with almost identical aims to that of the United Nations was constituted after World War I. Mr. Woodrow Wilson, who was then president of that great republic the United States of America, was a strong supporter of the League of Nations, and he firmly believed that its establishment would assure peace for the world. Unfortunately, the United States Congress did not share his hopes, with the result that the prestige of the League of Nations suffered a severe blow at its very outset because the United States of America refused to join it. Furthermore, when the several crises of the twenties and the ‘thirties occurred the nations of the world did not support the League of Nations as they should have done. The result was that agreements were made between individual nations, and groups of nations, independently of that body. The League of Nations has been criticized because it failed to achieve its objectives, and we must admit that that criticism is well founded. However, during the later stages of the recent war the leaders of the great allied nations, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Russia, decided, in the interests of mankind, to make another attempt to ensure the peace of the world for the future. The outcome of their efforts was the establishment of the United Nations. That organization has been confronted with a far greater task than that which confronted the League of Nations. However, there is a difference between the League of Nations and the United Nations. It was found that the League of Nations possessed no power except that of sanctions to enforce its decisions. The League had no forces of a military character, and, therefore, it was greatly handicapped in preserving world peace. The United Nations Charter provides for the maintenance of an international armed force. However, up to the present that provision has remained purely theoretical. “When the legislation for the ratification of the Charter was Before the Senate, I noted that the United Nations organization would at least be able to enforce its decisions, because it would have at its disposal, for that purpose, an armed force equipped and ready to act when necessary. I realize that an international force consisting of units supplied by each of the 57 nations which have signed the Charter will be very difficult to control. During both world wars each member of the British Commonwealth of Nations placed its forces under its own generals. Each Dominion government reserved its right to control every member of its own forces. Having regard to the needs of the United Nations organization, the most effective armed force would be one supplied only by the major nations, preferably by, say, two of them. Up to the present Great Britain has been obliged to bear practically the whole of the budden of military activity in policing the peace. That fact is clearly evident in Palestine at present. However, I shall deal with events in that country later in my remarks.
From my study of the paper now under consideration in the limited time I have had to peruse its contents it would appear that the United Nations organization up to the present has dealt mainly with theories. The time has now come when not only Australia but also other democratic nations and those which favour our way of life must deal with realities. I ask honorable senators to visualize the position which would arise were Russia to withdraw from the United Nations. Originally, the major nations, because of their immense power, were given the right of veto, and, as we know, that right has been exercised on several occasions. However, if one, or two, of the strongest military powers in the world to-day were to withdraw from the United Nations the strength of the organization would be seriously reduced and, consequently, any decisions made by the remaining member nations would be weakened. Assuming that Russia withdrew from the United Nations, would the organization be able to prevent an aggressive act on the part of Russia? The organization would find its military strength considerably weakened by Russia’s withdrawal and, perhaps, would not be able to accomplish the objective for which it was formed, namely, the maintenance of world peace. In the absence of Russia, the remaining nations would find it most difficult to police the peace. I do not believe that they would be able to prevent Russia from committing an act of aggression.
Recent events have shown that even should Russia remain a member of the United Nations we must leave it out of our reckoning in respect of the provision of any military force for the purpose of preventing acts of aggression. Had the co-operation which existed during the recent war between the leaders of Great Britain, the United States of America and Russia been maintained the United Nations would now have every prospect of success. However, I believe that the organization still possesses one great advantage in that it provides a common meeting ground where all nations can make contact with one another. That is an immense advantage, because is gives to member nations the opportunity to discuss the varied problems which confront the world. During the period from the First Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1946 to the Second Session of the Assembly held in 1947, international relations have gravely deteriorated. Unfortunately, they are continuing to deteriorate. When we study events since the cessation of hostilities nearly three years ago, we are confronted with some unfortunate facts which are probable causes of trouble in the future. First, the terms of the peace treaties with Germany, or Japan, have not yet been decided upon. This alone is causing considerable discontent in the countries concerned, perhaps more in Germany than in Japan. Unfortunately, we have not received any recent information from the Government in regard to the situation in those two countries, but I remind honorable senators that by permitting discontent, misrepresentation and unemployment to continue we are playing directly into the hands of Soviet Russia, because nothing breeds communism more rapidly than misery, disillusionment and a sense of injustice. The situation can only grow worse while we permit the peace treaties with Germany and Japan to remain unsigned.
There are two great powers in the world to-day, the United States of America and Russia. The British Empire could be welded into a third great power, and it should be the endeavour of all units of that Commonwealth to achieve that end. Russia has immense man-power, but its war equipment and material resources are unknown quantities. We are informed by the press and in wireless broadcasts that the Soviet is increasing its air force tremendously, and developing atomic energy for war purposes; but to what degree that country behind the “ iron curtain “ has been able to produce the latest weapons cannot be determined with any accuracy. We know that Russia has the largest standing army in the world and is expanding its air force rapidly. In the light of this knowledge, one may well ask, “ Why, and for what purpose is Russia making these preparations ? “ Surely it is not for defence, because the democratic nations have shown, by their willingness to demobilize their forces and to settle down to ordinary peace-time activities, that they do not contemplate aggression. But now, public feeling throughout the United States of America has been roused, and the leaders of that country are seeking to put the nation on a war footing. Its air force is being increased and experiments with atomic energy for war purposes are being hastened. Preparations have been made for the erection in the United States of America of the greatest atomic energy plant in the world. So, we find those two. great nations, fearful and suspicious of each other ; and, in the absence of meetings of their leaders at which problems can be discussed amicably and on a personal bask, the armaments race can lead only to another war. The United Nations proposed to establish a special authority to control atomic energy throughout the world, and the United States of America agreed to the proposal, but on certain conditions which were not acceptable to Russia. The fact that the secret of the atomic bomb is possessed by one great nation must create fear and suspicion amongst others, particularly Russia. It is difficult to say exactly what plans should be made for the control of atomic energy. Undoubtedly, the sole possession of this secret by the United States of America - if Russia has not already obtained it - means that that country stands supreme in the possession of the most modern weapons of warfare; but a continuance of the present mistrust and misunderstanding will be a potential cause of another war. World events are fast narrowing to a struggle between two ideologies. On the one hand there is the practice of self-expression and the democratic way of life which is followed by the English-speaking nations. On the other hand, there has frequently been complete suppression of the individual to the dictates of a small minority, represented by Russian fifth columns in all countries of the world. No doubt, all honorable senators have, from time to time, endeavoured to visualize what may happen should there be a third world war. In my view, any power that survived such a struggle would be greatly weakened. Down the centuries, some nations have gained supremacy over others through sheer force of arms, and the victor has thereupon become the ruler, not only of the vanquished nations, but also of the whole world. In every instance enormous losses have been caused, and even the victorious nation has emerged from war in a much weakened state. It has, in fact, been a process of elimination. It was hoped that thm method would be superseded by the structure of the United Nations, but the fact is that it has not been successful. Honorable senators will agree that, should there be another world conflagration, the loss of life, property, goods and material would be stupendous, and that it would take the world generations to recover from the devastating effects. I believe that all governments through the world, and especially those of countries which observe the democratic way of life, should explore every avenue for ensuring continued peace and preventing further wars. It would be futile to adhere to the principles that were acted upon in the period which intervened between the two world wars. Unfortunately, a policy of appeasement was followed, and that was of no avail in combating an aggressor nation. Had the victorious nations after “World “War I. retained sufficient forces, reasonably well armed, by means of which they would have been able to ensure compliance with ‘their decisions, I am sure it would not have been possible for Nazi Germany to overrun the whole of Europe and precipitate the world into a second conflict as was done in 1939. “We should learn a lesson from what happened in those days, bearing in mind that, by reason of the discovery and application of atomic energy, any war of the future will be much more dangerous to the whole community than hitherto. With the use of the atomic bomb no one will be safe, even though .hundreds of miles from the battlefront. “Women and children, munitions workers, factory employees and others will be exposed to as much danger as the soldiers in the front line. A few days ago an eminent scientist is reported to have been asked what are the most modern weapons of warfare. He said that he did not know what weapons would be used in the next war, but that the war after that would be fought with bows and arrows. That is indicative of the enormous damage which would be caused by modern means of destruction in the event of a third world war. Conditions have changed greatly since the declaration of peace which followed the war of 1914-1918. Germany was then a defeated nation and was saddled with heavy war reparations. Not only was depleted through many years of war, but also under the reparations provisions of the treaty Germany was stripped entirely of its war potential.
Coming now to the state of affairs in the world to-day, we find that Russia, which was a victorious nation in the 1939-45 war, has in a short time since the cessation of hostilities - less than three years - managed to dominate practically the whole of Europe. Admittedly, during the war, Russia suffered heavy losses in man-power and was subjected to the scorched-earth policy, which resulted in the destruction of large cities and manufacturing towns, but to some degree Russia has been able to re-equip its factories from the zone that it is occupying in Germany. If honorable senators will review the sequence of events over the last few years, they will find that to a large degree the technique now being adopted by Russia, especially in Europe, is similar to that followed by Hitler when he made his advance against the European powers in 1939. Russia has adopted the piece-meal process of taking over adjacent small nations one by one. Recently, we have watched dissension between the western powers and the eastern powers increasing steadily day by day. France, Great Britain and the United States of America have been subjected to many acts of irritation in occupied Germany. Any one of those acts could have led to a world-wide flareup had the western nations been careless or retaliated hastily. This procedure is modelled on the pattern used by Hitler. In other words, Russia is now engaging in a war of nerves exactly as Hitler did before striking. Hitler’s policy was to do everything possible to create such a state of nervous tension that any small incident could be used as a reason for breaking the peace. “We must take all of these circumstances into account and give them their proper places in the pattern of day-to-day world events so that we may have a true picture to guide us in our own relations with other nations.
Unfortunately, Russia’s representatives have maintained a continuous barrage of verbal attacks on the United States of America. There have also been counterattacks by the United States of America representatives. This warfare of words does not tend to lead to the free discussion which we hoped would occur within the framework of the United Nations. Nevertheless, I consider that exchanges of verbal accusations at meetings of the United Nations are less likely to cause trouble than the publication of such charges only in newspapers or by means of radio broadcasts from the countries concerned. Debates at the United Nations, even though they may be acrimonious, at least provide opportunities for personal contact which may lead to greater freedom of discussion. The value of the organization at the present time lies in that fact.
The recent Italian elections were of tremendous importance to Russia and the United States of America. Their influence extended far beyond the bounds of local politics. “We do not know what might have happened by now had the Italian Communists gained power at those elections. Fortunately, the anti-Communist parties swept the polls and secured an overwhelming majority. Every political event in every nation to-day carries with it the risk that something may be done to cause an act of international aggression. People constantly have at the back of their minds the fear that a third world war may be only just around the corner.
The” state of affairs in Europe to-day is deplorable, as it has been for many months. “We have learned from what we have been able to read that countries throughout Europe have been and still are experiencing very great difficulties. Their citizens lack food and clothing and other necessaries of life. Many people are without shelter, and discontent is wide-spread. Very wisely, the United States of America has realized that these conditions are ideal for the breeding of communism. Therefore, the Marshall aid plan has been formulated in the interests of European countries. The seriousness of the European situation was not fully appreciated in America until recently, but when the people of the United States of America became aware of its gravity, their Congress decided to bring the Marshall aid plan into operation as quickly as possible. As a result, the _ United States is doing everything within its power to alleviate conditions on the
Continent which may lead to another world-wide war. The facts which I have mentioned point to the importance of every government doing its utmost to preserve peace and to ensure that people understand the difficulties and dangers which confront them. I do not wish to be accused of war-mongering, but I say that extremely grave dangers will threaten the peace of the world during the next few months. Only one mistake could be sufficient to cause an immediate outbreak of hostilities. Although I agree that the Marshall aid plan is essential, and that the United States of America, with its immense resources, is the only country capable of putting it into operation, I regret that it belittles to some degree the value of the United Nations. The plan is based on an agreement between one great nation and other needy nations. Therefore, it sidesteps the United Nations organization, which was created especially for the purpose of aiding destitute countries, in exactly the same way as the League of Nations was sidestepped after “World War I.
The general world outlook is far from cheerful. I turn from Europe to the situation in Palestine, which has become worse week by week until to-day we are informed by the press and the radio that a major war is in progress in that country. Events in China also have caused a great deal of apprehension in other countries, and they will continue to do so. Recently, I read a significant statement made by the chief of the United States general staff, General Omar Bradley, when giving evidence before the Armed Services Commission. He said that the dangers of war had “ increased considerably during the past three months “. As I have said, a major war is actually in progress in Palestine, and, probably at this very moment, the United Nations Trusteeship Council is meeting in an endeavour to evolve a plan for the protection of the Holy City of Jerusalem. It was reported this morning that France’s delegate on the council said -
There is not one moment to lose. The honour of the United Nations is involved.
The hour is a little late for such a statement. The conflagration has already begun. The honour of the United Nations should have been thought of months ago. I ask honorable senators also to note the significant fact that the Trusteeship Council is not meeting for the purpose of sending an international police force to Palestine to stop the fighting between the Arabs and the Jews. It is merely trying to frame a scheme for the protection of one city - Jerusalem.
I think I am correct in saying that the United Nations has not achieved the results that we once hoped that it would achieve. Events in Palestine have administered a severe set-back to the organization, and people throughout the world must already have lost a great deal of confidence in its general utility. They must now regard with scepticism its ability to carry out its chief purpose - that of preserving world peace. The position in Palestine will doubtless become very much more serious when British troops, which have borne the brunt and the burden of disturbances in that country for many years, finally evacuate on the 15th May. [Extension of time granted.] What does the United Nations intend to do in regard to Palestine when the British forces evacuate that country on the 15th May? That is a matter of great importance to Australia because of the strategic position which Palestine occupies in relation to our communications with Europe. If Palestine becomes hostile to this country, or is rendered impotent by war for any length of time, the effect on our communications with the United Kingdom will be serious. Obviously the United Nations has been unable to arrest the rapid deterioration in the internal situation of Palestine, and the course of events in that country resembles very closely the circumstances attending the invasion of Abyssinia by Italy and of China by Japan. When Abyssinia and China were invaded it was quite obviously the duty of the League of Nations to prevent the aggressors from proceeding further in their aggression, but the League of Nations was unable to do so. The excuse put forward at that time was that it was not equipped with anything in the nature of an international military force, and- accordingly on the establishment of the United Nations special provision was made for a military force to restrain aggressors. Nevertheless, the trend of events in the last two years has been remarkably similar to that which occurred during the existence of the League of Nations. Undoubtedly, the United Nations should have adopted a firm attitude on the first manifestation of differences between the Arabs and the Jews in Palestine, but it did not do so. That leads me to inquire whether the United Nations can prevent the outbreak of another world war. That is a question which many people are asking to-day. It cannot be denied that up to the present the United Nations has failed to achieve the objectives for which it was established, and the time has come for us to examine the causes of its impotence. However, before we proceed to such an examination, I believe that we should first put our own house in order. Having regard to the happenings since the end of the war, any fair-minded person must agree that the Government has failed to discharge the functions which it was elected to discharge. It has shown particular weakness in dealing with saboteurs, and, in particular, it has failed to discipline the recalcitrant Waterside Workers Federation. That body has insisted on dictating the policy which the Government shall pursue in regard to trade with the Netherlands East Indies, and to-day that country is unable to obtain goods from Australia unless it first- seeks the concurrence of the waterside workers. Only recently certain trade unions refused to repair Dutch ships which had arrived in Sydney, and the vessels had to leave this country to have repairs effected. Stoppages and industrial disturbances are continually occurring on the waterfront, and this has resulted in the goods intended for shipment to other parts of the world being withheld. In industry generally, unauthorized strikes are common, and production has not attained the standard necessary. When a government exhibits such weakness in the conduct of its domestic affairs it is only reasonable to expect that it will display similar weakness in its dealings with other nations, and the Government must accept some responsibility for the failure of the United Nations to function effectively in the Palestine dispute. I believe that the weakness which it has displayed in the conduct of the internal affairs of this country has permeated the entire community. It has deliberately sought to lead the community to believe that everything is quite all right, and that there is no need for increased production, for the shipment overseas of more goods, or for us to develop our export trade with the countries which lie close to Australia. The treatment meted out by Australia to the ships of friendly countries must have repercussions, and, undoubtedly, it will have an unpleasant reaction on the attitude of the Netherlands East Indies towards this country during the next few years.
Turning now to our defence policy, I ask what effort the Government has made to train and equip armed forces for the defence of this country ? I admit that the Government has formulated a plan, which will involve the expenditure of a large sum of money over a period of years, but what we require is a plan which will provide an effective defence for this country now and in the immediate future. Action is needed to weld the units of the British Commonwealth into a strong economic organization. What action has the Government taken towards that end ? Those are questions which the people are asking to-day, because they look to the Government to give them a lead in such matters. The Government has given no indication of any preparations to defend this country in the. event of war in the near future. Possibly, the Government has no plan, or perhaps it does not wish to take the Parliament and the people into its confidence. However, I point out to the Government that the history of this country proves abundantly that it can produce men of ability in time of peace as well as in time of war, and a nation which produces such men has a right to know what the Government intends to do for its protection. Prom the course of world events it is obvious that two great powers, namely, Russia and the United States of America, are dictating the course of events in the world to-day. It is essential now, as never before, that we strengthen the British Empire. To that Empire might be allied the States of Western Europe, and the joint resources of raw material and military power of that organization, apart altogether from the strategic importance of its members, would constitute a third great power. Such a union would swing the balance in favour of peace. When speaking recently in this chamber on the tariff proposals, I quoted an eminent American authority who said that it was just as vital to have a strong British Empire as it was to have a strong United States of America. I agree with that view. I also believe that if we could bring the English-speaking peoples of the world into conference with the object of drawing up definite plans for the maintenance of world peace we should go a long way towards achieving that objective. Although our population is small, Australia should do all it possibly can to work for peace among the nations; but we should also be prepared, if necessary, to back up our decisions by force. In the final analysis a show of strength may be the determining factor in preventing war. A third world war would cause tremendous loss of life and human suffering. It would possibly destroy our way of living and all that we hold dear. It- would certainly cause untold misery. Surely, it is preferable to suffer some hardship at present if by so doing we can maintain world peace. The price to be paid for world peace is not so great when weighed against the benefits to be gained from security which will be most precious to generations to come.
.- The problem of maintaining world peace is of the greatest importance not only to Australians but also to every citizen of the world. I do not suggest for one moment that only members of the Labour party really desire a peaceful world. Prior to the formation of the Labour movement men and women gave evidence of their sincere desire for the maintenance of world peace. During the past 50 years several members of British governments resigned their portfolios because they were opposed to war. They had the courage to stick to their principles and withdraw from those governments because they objected to Great Britain entering a war, although the opinion of the great majority of the peoples of the
British Commonwealth of Nations was against them.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) said that the Minister for External Affairs and Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) should hold only one portfolio. I am not concerned at the moment whether the Minister holds half-a-dozen portfolios so long as he continues to play his part on behalf of Australia in preventing what the Leader of the Opposition is afraid of, namely, a third world war. Nearly fifty years have passed since federation, but previous governments in this country failed to send overseas a man who has represented Australia’s interests more effectively in the councils of the world than has the present Minister for External Affairs. Indeed, no other Australian has occupied so prominent a position in world affairs. He has been acclaimed a world leader. The Leader of the Opposition deprecated the fact that the Minister for External Affairs pinned his faith to the United Nations and added that that organization has not proved to be the bulwark of peace that he expected it would become. We must be realists. The world is divided into two factions, the great masses of the people on the one hand and the large monopolistic combines on the other, and the conflict between them still goes on. It was apparent prior to World War I., which was not so much a war for democracy as was the recent war. In World War I. millions of people lost their lives. Regardless of nationality, they were our fellow citizens of” the world. Notwithstanding all the bitterness which arose from that conflict, public men imbued with the ideal of peace laid the foundations of the League of Nations for the purpose of maintaining world peace. It is all very well for the Leader of the Opposition to say that the League did not play the part it should have played in world affairs. I remind him that the International Labour Office was established as a subsidiary of the League. Many Australian governments in the past failed to carry out the decisions of the International Labour Office. Therefore, whilst we may be prone to blame other people, we must recognize that very often we ourselves .have been blameworthy. The decisions of the International Labour
Office directly affected the working conditions of the men and women of Australia. Bearing in mind the devastation caused by the recent war when so many families lost their breadwinners and others in the community their sons, daughters and sweethearts, we are justified in doing everything we possibly can to promote the principles upon which the United Nations organization is founded with the object of preventing a third world war.
We were told by the Leader of the Opposition that up to the present the United Nations organization has not been provided with an armed force for the purpose of enforcing its decisions, he added that so far that provision of the Charter was purely theoretical. He must realize that even a person who wishes to learn to play the piano must first learn the theory of music. It is impossible to become a first-class pianist without first learning the theory involved. On one occasion, I attended a little gathering held in Melbourne when, with half a dozen of my friends, I had the privilege of discussing the League of Nations with Dr. Dalton, who later became a member of a British government. During that informal chat he said that if the nations had had the courage to put into effect the decisions of the League by applying sanctions, such action would have prevented World War II. At that .time, Italy and Germany were supplying the means of warfare to Franco’s forces in the Spanish civil war. It may be said that Franco was then fighting citizens of Spain and that interference from outside would not have been justified, but no one will contend that steps should not have been taken to prevent two fascist countries from supplying arms to a dictator for the oppression of the Spanish people. Perhaps, had Great Britain intervened in that dispute the result of the Spanish civil war would have been different. When Italy attacked Abyssinia many people not only in Australia but also throughout the world held the view that had the League of Nations applied sanctions against Italy, the result of that conflict also would have been different.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the British Commonwealth of Nations should lose no time in welding its members together in the interests of peace. The Minister for External Affairs has done more to weld together the members of the United Nations than any other individual who has taken part in its councils. Whether his efforts have been completely successfull is beside the point. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the trouble existing in Palestine. Everybody knows that trouble exists in that country, but everybody does not seem to trouble to ascertain the cause of the trouble in Palestine. For the last fifteen or twenty years a struggle has been taking place for the control of oil in that region. Certain people to-day are the victims of that struggle, which is fundamentally economic.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the Government was not adhering to its ideals as a member of the United Nations when it failed to prevent industrial trouble on the waterfront in this country. He claimed that the waterside workers dictated the Government’s policy in respect of our relations with the Netherlands East Indies. I stand for the supremacy of the Government. The industrial movement in Australia must obey the decisions of the government of the country. This Government has set up tribunals for the redress of grievances in industry. Very often the decisions of those tribunals have been flouted, but the responsibility for that state of affairs must be laid at the door of the interests which the Opposition parties in this Parliament represent. The waterside workers of Australia do not forget that a government composed of the present Opposition parties introduced legislation which practically made criminals of them. The point I make is that the ill feeling still existing on the waterfront is a legacy from the treatment which the waterside workers received at the hands of that government.
– That is the kind of government to which honorable senators opposite refer as a “ strong “ government.
– Yes. Supporters of the parties to which honorable senators opposite belong frequently condemn the waterside workers, but they never attempt to load ships themselves. Ships are always loaded by members of the class represented by honorable senators on this side. Supporters of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party have no desire to load ships. They only want other people to load them.
Another claim made by the Leader of the Opposition was that this Government had failed to fulfil its obligations under the United Nations Charter because it had not endorsed the principle of incentive payments to workers as a means of increasing production. I remind the honorable senator that a substantial percentage of young women who married during the last four or five years have taken their place in industry alongside their husbands, in addition to maintaining their homes, and thus are contributing substantially to the wealth of the Australian nation. Before they go to work in the morning they cook breakfast for their husbands, and when they return at night after doing a hard day’s work, they prepare the evening meal. Members of the Opposition parties are insulting the workers of this country when they claim that employees throughout industry are not working hard enough. In Melbourne, every Sunday morning, I see men driving 6-ton lorries loaded with coal while those members of the community who are so ready to complain that the workers are not working hard enough, are still in bed.
The Leader of the Opposition claims that the people of Australia should be taken into the confidence of the Government. I venture to say that the present Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has spoken far more often to Australian citizens about the affairs of their nation than any of his predecessors. Only a fortnight ago, the right honorable gentleman made a broadcast explaining certain actions of his Government. The present Government has taken the people of the Commonwealth into its confidence by providing facilities for the broadcast of the proceedings of both Houses. These broadcasts are not made through the commercial stations, but through the nationallyowned broadcasting instrumentality It is rather remarkable that an honorable senator opposite should be urging the Government to take the people of Australia into its confidence. The technique employed by organizations which support the Opposition parties - I refer particularly to a body known as the Australian Constitutional League, which no doubt is financed by the banks - is to make repeated broadcasts insulting the workers. The only effect of such broadcasts is to create in the community a psychology which is not merely detrimental to the Government, but also inimical to the interests of the Australian people.
The Australian Minister for External Affairs has been a prominent figure in the Security Council of the United Nations. He has done a splendid job for world peace, but unfortunately the gulf between the United States of America and Soviet Russia appears to be widening. Attacks by Opposition members and their supporters upon the Australian Labour party usually begin with an attack upon the Communists, and end with an endeavour to link the Communist party with the Australian Labour party. But the task of combating the activities of the Communists is always left to the Australian Labour party and to the Labour movement generally. Members of the Australian Country party and the Liberal party never fight the Communists, possibly because they do not like fighting members of their own class ;.hut regardless of the strata of society in which the Communists are to be found, the Labour party will fight them.
why does it not fight them?
– It does, first by refusing known Communists admission to its membership. Senator O’sullivan, being a lawyer, should know that Communists cannot be prevented from joining trade unions. In fact, many members of the Liberal party are trade unionists. The Communists reach positions of authority in the unions mainly because of the apathy of their fellow-unionists. For ten years I was an official of the Trades Hall in Melbourne, and I can assure the Senate that no Communist has ever been a member of the Australian Labour party.
This Government is doing everything possible to prevent industrial dislocation in all fields of industry. Those who delight in making attacks upon the coalminers should consider for a moment whether they, themselves, would like to work in the mines. I certainly should not, and I am sure that honorable senators opposite would have little liking for such an experience. Any amenities or favorable conditions that are enjoyed by the coal-miners to-day have been hard earned and are well merited. Everybody knows what would happen if the miners were to permit the building up of huge stocks of coal at grass. “We all know what has happened in the past when substantial reserves have been accumulated.
I have digressed from the subject now before this chamber only because the Leader of the Opposition introduced extraneous matters into the debate in an endeavour to show that, far from being able to cope with the international situation, the Government cannot keep its own house in order. International affairs is a subject that should be debated calmly. I am sure that no political party in this country or in any other country wants another war. Atomic bombs would not discriminate between members of the Labour party and members of the Australian Country party and the Liberal party. The Minister for External Affairs has made a sincere effort to bring about a state of society in which war would be impossible. His work is a remarkable illustration of -what can be accomplished in the international sphere by a resolute member of the Labour movement. Men of his understanding and ability are far too few in world councils.
– On the last occasion on which the subject of international affairs was discussed in this chamber, I secured the adjournment of the debate before I had concluded my remarks. I do not intend to traverse again the ground that I covered on that occasion, but I remind honorable senators that I did forecast the formation in Europe of economic blocs ‘based on commercial interests and spheres of influence, and propagating differing political ideologies. My forecast has proved correct. The situation in Europe to-day is most complicated, but it is clear that there has been a grouping of various nations under the aegis of great powers. That is most undesirable. We hear a lot of propaganda about what has been done by this or that country. Most of it is issued in a deliberate attempt to hoodwink the people of the world. Commercial interests will use all kinds of high-sounding slogans to further their aims. They are too shrewd to mention the real reason for the formation of political alliances and the people of the world are being seriously misled. Many years ago, with the adoption of the Monroe Doctrine, the United States of America became strongly isolationist. The principle of that doctrine was that the Americas should be kept free from European influences which might lead the United States of America into war. To-day, .this policy has been reversed. America is seeking to exert its influence on European affairs. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the Marshall plan, which ostensibly seeks to assist European countries ravaged by war, will, in the final analysis, extend America’s commercial spheres of influence in Europe. I contend that a “ string “ has always been attached to the aid that has been given by America to some of the European countries or to any of the Allied nations. It is true that America made a large dollar loan to Great Britain, hut certain “ tags “ were incorporated in the conditions, and Australia is affected by that action. Under the terms of the loan, Great Britain was obliged to do certain things, with the result that when the loan was exhausted, Britain was in a worse position than it had been previously. Australia, by reason of its membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations, is now facing an acute dollar shortage because of those conditions. It is, of course, desirable that we should assist Great Britain as far as possible. Undoubtedly, the loan to Great Britain was a magnanimous gesture by America. Honorable senators will recall, however, that immediately after that loan had become effective, the international controllers of commerce, and particularly of international finance, changed their domicile from France to Germany, thence to Great Britain, then back again to France, and finally to America, where complete control is being exercised to-day. In reality, it has been exercised in America since before the cessation of hostilities in the recent war. Despite America’s democratic principles, the prices of commodities in that country soared to such a height that Britain’s capacity to purchase American goods was decreased by at least 50 per cent., with the result that the loan was rapidly exhausted. Although the Marshall plan was evolved by America ostensibly for the rehabilitation of the devastated countries of Europe, similar things are happening there. Goods purchased from America by those countries are being obtained only at exorbitant prices, and again, due to that economic factor, the effective aid will be reduced to at least one half of what was intended. Undoubtedly, the issues are wholly political. I remind honorable senators of recent events in Italy. Numerous promises were made to the Italian people on the occasion of their parliamentary election, not only, by America and Great Britain, but also, I understand, at Russian instigation. Those promises undoubtedly were made by America and Great Britain in an endeavour to persuade the Italian people to disregard their traditional political tendencies and vote in favour of democracy. The Italian people were advised to adopt that course in an effort to prevent the onward march of communism. There are two distinct ideologies, support for one of which would interfere greatly with the interests of those people who live and profit by the exploitation of their fellows. When arrangements were made for the large American dollar loan to Great Britain, one of the “ strings “ attached to it was that Britain should undertake not to proceed far along the road of nationalization. When some of the Labour party’s ideals were being implemented and placed upon the statute-book of Great Britain, American assistance was provided to the Opposition parties in the House of Commons in an effort to retard nationalization proposals. Furthermore, a large volume of literature was printed in Australia, decrying the nationalization proposals of the Labour movement in this country, and attempting to associate the Communist ideology with the Labour movement. American journals, which were distributed in Australia, also contained similar articles. That was done deliberately, in an attempt to preserve the control that had been exercised by the profit-making machines over a period of years and to retain monetary power, not only in Australia, but also in European countries. The aim was to exploit the peoples of the world. Those responsible ar.e not in the least concerned with the conditions under which people live in Australia, or in any other country. Their sole concern is the making of such profits as will enable the favoured few to live handsomely, while the remainder of the people get along as best they can.
Recently, with other honorable sena. tors, I attended the screening of an American film, which, in my opinion, was produced with the object of arousing in the American people a realization of their obligations in respect of the education of their .children. It is shameful that the film, should have been allowed into Australia, because it deals wholly with conditions in American schools. In some of the scenes, children are shown proceeding to school with neither shoes n.or socks on their feet, and wearing ragged clothes. From their drawn faces the impression is gained that starvation is stalking the democratic country of America. The film furnishes positive proof that even in their own country certain American interests are concerned, not about the people as a whole, but only with the making of profits. Furthermore, they are attempting to spread that gospel throughout Europe. Already they have moved in that direction in Greece, Turkey, Italy and other countries which are to be assisted under the Marshall plan. That they are afraid of the ideology of communism cannot be wondered at, because it would cause thousands of people in Europe to die of starvation, despite the help, or supposed help, of the Marshall plan, or of any other plan which might be evolved for the purpose of maintaining the capitalistic system. As far as I can see, the present difficult position can be overcome only by the great Labour movement throughout the world playing its part more fully by replacing the capitalistic system with a better one.
A ‘lot of propaganda has emanated from America claiming that obstacles are being placed in the pa.th of ;the smooth operation of the United Nations. That is borne out by a document that I read recently, which furnished some interesting information on the subject. Portions of the document were embodied in addresses that were made at various conferences of the United Nations. It is not possible, in the final analysis, for both Communist and democratic ideologies, as we know them, to exist side by side. I firmly believe that eventually one will give way to the other. It does not matter how much we talk about war, or the war-like preparations that are obviously being made; in the final analysis there must be a collision between those two ideologies - the capitalist system, which we call democracy, and the Communist system of Russia and its satellites. I am not concerned about that from the point of view of war, because I think that another outbreak of hostilities among the great nations is far distant.
In the conference of the United Nations numerous statements have been made about the opposition of Russia to this, that, and the .other proposal. That which the Russian delegates opposed, the American delegates favoured, and vice versa. One is always opposing the other, and the remaining delegates jump from one side of the fence to the’ other. I have no quarrel with them for doing that, but I do npt think many pf them fully understand what they are doing,
Let us consider the situation in China and Korea. The Security Council of the United Nations has discussed the problems of Korea and it proposes that a free election be held there so that the people may decide whether they want the Russian form of government or some other system. Naturally, the United States of America opposes the proposal, and so does Russia. How in the name of conscience can there be a free election in a country which is occupied by the military forces of another country? Korea is divided into two zones; the northern zone is occupied by Russian forces and the southern zone by United States forces. In those circumstances, I am at a loss to understand how there could be a free election in Korea. I can understand why the United States of America opposes the holding of a “ free “ election in the Russian zone and I can also understand why Russia opposes the holding of a “ free “ election in the American zone. Every honorable senator knows, as most of the people know, that in fact there would not be a free election in either zone. Proof of that can be obtained by referring to events in Greece, which also was occupied by a foreign power - Great Britain, in this instance. A so-called “ free “ election took place in Greece, but there has been fighting in the country ever since because it was not a free election in fact.
I should like to know exactly what is meant by the term “ free election “. Who has the right to vote in a free election? Are only those citizens who can read or write eligible? I should like to know how many people in Korea can read or write. Perhaps the qualification is based on age, as is the case in Australia. Are all people over the age of 21 years entitled to vote m a “ free election “ ? I have never heard any statement on this point, and I shall not be satisfied that a free election can be held, except in a literate community in which all adults have the right to vote. A free election could not be held under the conditions which apply to elections of Legislative Councils in some Australian States, for instance. I cite the Legislative Council of South Australia as an example. A citizen cannot be nominated for election to that body unless he is 30 years of age or older. That immediately debars some of the people. Furthermore, only about one-third of the number of South Australians eligible to vote at Commonwealth elections have the right to vote for their Legislative Council. Elections conducted in that way are not free elections. Before I would sanction the holding of “ free “ elections in Korea or any other country I should want to know the exact conditions under which voting would take place.
Freedom is a much misused word. We often hear about freedom of the press in Australia, but the fact is that the press of this country, like the press of the United States of America and of Great Britain, is not free. I do not believe there is freedom of the press even in Russia. Why is that so? The simple reason is that our press is controlled in the interests of pounds, shillings and pence.
A citizen has no chance to express his political opinions through our newspapers, if they are contrary to the views of the newspaper proprietors, unless he pays for the right to do so. Even when the newspapers do publish statements not in accordance with their own policies, they mutilate the phrases in 99 cases out of 100 so that the original meaning is lost. All sorts of reasons are given for this censorship. I do not quarrel with the press on this ground, because that sort of thing is part of the system under which we live in this country. But why should people be hypocritical about it and say that our press is free when they know that it is not? When people talk about the freedom of the press in Australia they talk with their tongues in their cheeks. All the propaganda about freedom of the press in Australia, Great Britain and the United States of America, is mere “ hooey “. There is no freedom of expression for the great multitude of the people or their representatives. The newspapers- represent the big financial interests - the organized profitmaking community. Their job is to hoodwink the people if they can, and they have been fairly successful up to date. At present, they are conducting a nation-wide campaign and publishing all sorts of statements and advertisements. If the opponents of this campaign want to put their views before the public, they are told to produce their “ dough “. That is not freedom of the press as I understand it.
In countries which are occupied by the military forces of foreign powers there can be neither free elections nor free newspapers. Freedom of speech is also stifled. All of these freedoms are set out in the Atlantic Charter, upon the principles of which the United Nations was founded. This new international organization was brought into existence in order to prevent war and to promote all sorts of high-sounding ideals. However, up to the present, it has not been successful. That is largely due to the clash of ideologies between the member nations. I am firmly of the opinion that if the United Nations continues to keep its head in the sky it will prove to be just such another fiasco as was the League of Nations. However, some good came out of the League of Nations, and I believe that the United Nations, too, can produce good results. Talking about “ pie in the sky when you die “ is of no use.
A great deal of the statement prepared by the Minister for External Affairs is very misleading. I do not like it for that reason. It does not state all of the facts about the discussions that are taking place at the United Nations. Certainly it deals with the actual debates, but it does not explain the economic factors that give rise to them. The. peoples of Australia and of other countries are not being told the whole truth. Why is that so? It is simply because of the fact that most nations are working under a capitalist system of society and want to protect their old privilege of exploiting the rest of the world. That is why we hear all the balderdash that is being reiterated by the members of the Opposition. Another aspect of international affairs is the present situation in Germany. In order to understand that situation, it is necessary to recall conditions there in 1934 or 1935 before Germany started to build its war machine. The revolution had changed the whole economic system in Russia, and other countries were too busy trying to stop the advancement of the new Russian ideology to take a close interest in events in Germany. After World War I. the general idea was to prevent Germany from again becoming an armed State. About 1935 conferences took place between the representatives of various powers, and the Russian representatives pointed out that Germany was beginning secretly to re-arm and that it was using its economic plight to obtain credits from other nations. Let us not forget that Great Britain was one of the countries that was fooled by Germany. The Russian representatives pointed out that the credits extended to Germany were being used by that country for rearmament, but their warning fell on deaf ears. At that time, most of the powers were obsessed by the idea of preventing the spread of “ Bolshevism “ to their respective nations. In those days the word “ Communism “ was not used a great deal, and “ Bolshevism “ was the cry. As time went on Germany expanded its sphere of influence, and because of the armed strength which it had created from the credits provided by the various powers, it began to pursue a vigorous policy of expansion, first to the east, and then to the west. No great harm was done to the interests of the major powers by those advances, and not much protest was made. Then Germany began to expand north, and Poland became involved. In Poland there were representatives of international interests which controlled many millions of pounds, and the democracies could not allow that expansion to proceed without protest. Hence they protested, and, as the result, a global war developed.. Even then the armed might of Germany had not been directed at Russia, and the peoples of the democratic nations were assured that some sort of agreement had been reached between Russia and Germany. Of course, it had ; the controllers of Russia knew that Germany was being rebuilt for the express purpose of striking at their country. Russia fought for time. Later Germany’s forces became involved in a number of operations in various parts of the world, and then they turned on Russia. Great Britain and the United States of America, and the other allied nations, rushed to the assistance of Russia, and provided armaments, foodstuffs and supplies in order to stop the avalanche which they had started in Germany. I am not concerned with the contentions of the United States of America, Russia, and Great Britain that their respective forces won the war; all I know is that each of the allied nations played its part in destroying the German war machine which they had themselves helped to construct. To-day, we are confronted with this situation: The war is over, but a state of armistice still continues ; peace treaties which were solemnly enacted apparently do not matter very much to some of the allied nations; and- there are armies of occupation in the British and American zones in Europe which have now been amalgamated in what is termed the “ Allied Zone “. Arguments are going on between the diplomatic representatives of the several countries interested as to what should be left to a particular allied power of the German property in an occupied zone, and propaganda is being disseminated concerning the “ Imperialistic expansion of Russia “, and the allegation is made that Russia is “ ‘Spreading its tentacles “ all over the world. Not one word is said about the people who support the governments of Russia and the various countries which have alined themselves with Russia, and no mention is made of the fact that those people exercise a vote and some control of policy. Recently, a great deal of propaganda has been disseminated concerning Czechoslovakia. That propaganda completely ignores the fact that a democratic election was held in that country approximately three years ago, as the result of which representatives were elected to the national parliament. After that election, no particular political party possessed a majority in the parliament and a coalition government was formed. In that government the Czechoslovakian Communist party and the Socialist party were represented. The members of that government did not work harmoniously, and later another government was formed which included a liberal section. A further quarrel developed and the Communist sections of the government threatened to withdraw. No compromise was reached, and ultimately the non-Communist sections withdrew, leaving the Communist section to form the government. That is how the Communist Government of Czechoslovakia was formed. Immediately that happened there was a spate of propaganda designed to lead the world to believe that the Communists had unconstitutionally seized the government of Czechoslovakia, that the new government had curtailed freedom of speech, had imperilled the liberty of the people, and bad rung down the “ iron curtain “. However, the fact remains that the present government is composed of members of the Czechoslovakian parliament, who were elected at a general election held only three years ago, which was lauded to the skies by the representatives of the Allied Nations who were present. It is clear that the reason why a minority party controls that government is that the representatives of the other parties could not agree amongst themselves. Furthermore, it should be borne in mind that a general election is to be held in that country in the near future. The mere fact that a minority party controls the government of Czechoslovakia does not imply that the government is undemocratic; it must be obvious that there is a sufficient number of people who favour the policy of the government, or it could not continue in power. Indeed, we have an analogy in the recent political history of this country. In 1941 the members of the Menzies Government quarrelled amongst themselves, and were succeeded by the Fadden Government. That administration was succeeded, in turn, by the Curtin Government, which had a minority in both Houses of the Parliament. However, at the general elections held in 1943 the Curtin Government was returned with a substantial majority of supporters in the House of Representatives and an overwhelming majority of supporters in this chamber. I suggest that that is exactly parallel to what has happened recently in Czechoslovakia. However, the propaganda disseminated completely ignores the fact that the rise to power of the Czechoslovakian Communist party followed a constitutional course -
– “What about the suicides which occurred in that country?
– A man named William Shakespeare once wrote a play entitled “ A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, in which he included a human character who had an ass’s head. If honorable’ senators listen carefully to the debate they can detect the braying of an ass. Before I was interrupted I was referring to the constitutional situation in Czechoslovakia. I had pointed out that the members of the present government of that country were regularly elected at a constitutional election. What relation has that to Russia? I invite honorable senators to recollect the course of events in 1938, which was not long before the outbreak of World War II. There was an alliance between Great Britain, France, Czechoslovakia, and, I think, Poland, which provided that in the event of. aggression by Germany against any of those powers the others would go to its assistance. What happened? When Germany began to debate the fate of the Sudeten lands the allied powers “ crayfished “ and did not attempt to help Czechoslovakia. The climax was the Munich agreement, by the terms of which Czechoslovakia was thrown to the wolves and the Germans obtained all the resources of Czechoslovakia, including the great Skoda armament works. The real reason why the allied powers adopted the attitude which they did was that they hoped that Germany would go to war with Russia, but that did not happen. Had Australia been thrown to- the wolves as Czechoslovakia was would we be prepared to trust Great Britain and the other countries concerned? I do not think we should. That is why Czechoslovakia has turned to Russia for help.
Sitting1 suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I drew attention to the intense propaganda being carried on to-day in favour of the brand of democracy existing in the United States of America, and showed that that propaganda was directed mainly against Russia. I also made the point that as Germany was re-armed with the assistance of funds supplied by some of the allied nations and used those arms against Russia in the recent war, Russia is now bent on protecting itself by extending its sphere of influence along the lines previously employed by the allied nations. It is doing so mainly for the” purpose of protecting itself against a re-armed Germany. Apparently, that is the reason for the vitriolic propaganda that is being disseminated against Russia. I also reminded the Senate that Germany had been the cause of the two world wars. Russia also seeks to protect its own political system. The same observations can be applied to the policies being pursued by the United States of America. Both Great Britain and France have been so greatly weakened economically as the result of the recent war that the United States of America now finds itself filling the roles which those countries previously played. Thus the United States of America is endeavouring to bring within the sphere of its influence China, Greece,
Turkey, Italy and, through the Marshall plan, many other countries.
I propose to discuss conditions existing in. the United States of America and in those countries which may now be considered to fall within its sphere of influence. Despite the activities sponsored by the United Nations in respect of agriculture and trade and the provision of foodstuffs for the relief of distressed peoples, the United States of America has failed to stabilize its own economy to anything like the same degree as Australia or Great Britain have done. Price controls have been lifted to such a degree in the United States of America that the prices of most commodities have how. risen so high that the ordinary working people cannot afford to purchase them. A similar state of affairs exists in China, where inflation has developed unchecked. Of course, as usually happens in such circumstances, many people are anxious to “cash in “ on the opportunities presented by those conditions. That is the explanation of the fact that in the United States of America an ordinary cut of beef costs 5s. 8d. per lb. following a recent reduction from 6s. 4d. per lb. Obviously, the ordinary working people cannot afford to pay those prices. The point I make is that we find those conditions in a country which has played such a prominent part in the activities of the United Nations with the object of stabilizing the world’s economy. We in Australia are in a more fortunate position due to the fact that we still retain prices control under the Commonwealth’s defence power. Prices have not risen here to anything like the degree that they have risen in the United States of America. Under the international trade agreement we have arranged for the disposal of our surplus wheat overseas, but in the United States of America, which is one of the world’s largest producers of wheat, and is also a party to that agreement, the price of a 1-lb. loaf of bread is ls. 3d. compared with our price of 3£d. for a similar loaf. In order to make effective any international agreement with respect to any commodity, each country which is a party to the agreement should set up its own organization for the purpose of stabilizing the price of that commodity within its own boundaries. Only in that way shall we be enabled to prevent one country from obtaining a greater advantage than another. In China, the prices of the necessaries of life have practically risen out of sight. That is because no control of prices exists in China. The only commodity that is even rationed in that country is rice. In respect of every other commodity there is an “ open go “. The inflationary trend in China has had its repercussions in Australia. Big business in this country is anxious to sell Australian products to China at the high prices prevailing there even though that may mean denying adequate supplies to our own people. That is because prices are fixed in Australia. The United States of America, however, has not followed our example in that respect.
In Greece, which has also come within the sphere of influence of the United States of America, prices have risen to such a degree that the ordinary working people cannot afford to buy the necessaries of life. As in China, those conditions have caused internal strife in Greece. These observations apply to all countries which now fall within the sphere of influence of the United States of America. The nation’s first approach to countries which it desires to bring within its sphere of influence is made on an economic basis, but, later, little feelers are put out in respect of the political control of those countries with the object of controlling them politically as well as economically. I’ hope that our people will realize that we are in a more fortunate position to-day mainly because of the retention of rationing and prices control in this country. I hope that Australia will not be dominated by American influences to the degree to which the other countries I have mentioned are. That would not be a good thing for the industrial workers of this country or our primary producers. [Extension of time granted.) Under our system of economic controls, the primary producer is guaranteed a fair price for his product, and is enabled to purchase the commodities he requires at fair prices. At the same time, we are enabled under international trade agreements to sell our surplus production overseas at fair prices. The United States of America, Great Britain and France are parties to the agreements sponsored by the United Nations, but they have failed to follow Australia’s example by maintaining controls to stabilize prices within their boundaries. Indeed, Australia’s system can be taken as a pattern for those countries to copy. I admit that in those countries which have come within the sphere of influence of the United States of America political conditions have not favoured economic stabilization. I hope that in the near future that result will be achieved by the United Nations through subsidiary bodies similar to the International Labour Office in the industrial sphere.
– The people of this country should be proud indeed to be represented in world councils by a man of the outstanding ability of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), who has been described as the greatest diplomat ever to leave our shores to attend international gatherings. This great Australian has placed Australia’s name high in the international sphere, and his ability has been generously recognized by the people of all countries except his own. At Philadelphia, and at other places that 1 visited during my recent visit overseas, people convinced me that the right honorable gentleman had rendered a splendid service, not only to Australia, but also to the cause of international understanding. It is sad indeed to hear the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies), and the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Senator Cooper) endeavour to belittle the effort of the Minister in the international field. They are little people who realize that they cannot possibly measure up to a giant who has done so much for this nation that the Government of which he is Deputy Leader must remain in occupancy of the treasury bench for many years to come.
For a considerable time prior to the tabling of the statement that we are now discussing, members of the Opposition parties were urging that the Parliament be told something of the activities of the Minister for External Affairs overseas.
Now we have before us a document of 212 pages, which deals exhaustively with the events leading up to the decisions of the various international conferences that have been held since the last report was made to the Parliament. But instead of welcoming all this information, honorable senators opposite, like their counterparts in the House of Representatives, have again attempted to discredit the Minister’s work. They say disparingly that a wheelbarrow would be required to carry the document away. I have no doubt that some members of the Opposition parties had not read the statement because they realized that if they did so, they would have to pay a tribute to the Minister for External Affairs for the excellent work that he has done.
My approach to international problems differs somewhat from that of honorable senators opposite. For many years, the imperialistic aims of successive British governments resulted in encroachment upon many other lands, including Egypt, Burma and South Africa. British policy was aggressive, and was aimed at territorial expansion. But in Great Britain to-day there is a Labour government whose policy is to restore the sovereign rights of the people of Burma, Egypt, Palestine and other countries under British rule. Military police forces are being withdrawn from these countries so that the local inhabitants may govern themselves in their own way. Many of those individuals who criticize Russian imperialism to-day, have little right to do so, because in their earlier years they supported British imperialism. We on this side of the chamber, who have always opposed British expansion at the expense of other nations, are the only ones in the Parliament who can honestly criticize Russian policy to-day.
Delegates to the International Labour Organization conference at Geneva last year, landed first at Sourabaya. We had not been there long before the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) and I came to the conclusion that Australia should not interfere in Indonesian affairs, and that Indonesia should be left to the Indonesians, who were quite capable of working out their own destiny. A month before the news reached the Indonesians, we knew that the Dutch intended to embark upon a military campaign to regain control of Java. Our next call was at Rangoon,, and there we reached a similar conclusion.. We agreed that Burma should be left tothe Burmese; but the strange thing was that, although the British were leaving: Burma, the Chinese were infiltrating that country at the rate of approximately 6,000 a day. From Rangoon we travelled to Cairo, where we learned that the British forces were leaving Egypt. Today the Middle East presents a vexed problem because of the situation in Palestine. What the ultimate fate of Palestine will be I do not know, but I am pleased indeed that the British forces are leaving that country. We then travelled on to London, where we saw ample evidence of the plight ‘of the British people and their need for every possible assistance from Australia and other food-producing countries. I pay a tribute to successive Labour governments in this country for what they have done to alleviate Britain’s economic distress. The names of the late Mr. Curtin and that of our present Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) stand very high indeed in both England and Scotland. The British people appreciate Australia’s help, and they deserve everything that we can send to them.
While travelling through London I stood in a street at Clapham - I had been in a hospital at Clapham during World War I. - and looked across a cleared area more than a mile long and wide enough for a double row of streets with gardens in between. I thought the demolitions had been carried out for the construction of a new thoroughfare, but I was informed that I was looking at the results of German bombing of London. Similar devastation was evident in many other parts of London, including the West End and the East End. In the past, Great Britain has played a leading part in world affairs, and it is the duty of the people of the world, as well as of the British Commonwealth of Nations, to assist that country to the utmost. We should not lose sight of the fact that the British people alone stemmed the onrush of the Nazis in the early days of the war. I am pleased indeed that the Marshall plan, which will be of enormous benefit to the people of the United Kingdom, has come into operation. In the United States of America, where I was the guest of various commercial radio interests, on every possible opportunity I urged them to use whatever political influence they had to ensure that America would send all available supplies of food to the people of Great Britain.
From England we travelled to France, but our stay in that country was short. We were fortunate enough to have the services of a man who knew Paris thoroughly, and with his assistance we saw most of the interesting places. He was able also to give us a great deal of information about the city. My visit to France was my first experience of real inflation and I hope that the people of this country will never experience the inflation that exists in France to-day. Although the franc was officially rated at 170 to the fi sterling, the black market rate was 1,000 francs to the £1 sterling, and almost everything that the worker required had to be bought at the blackmarket rate. The French people were impoverished, and I regret to learn that they have been further pauperized by the devaluation of the franc. However, I do not intend to discuss that matter further at this stage.
From Paris we went to Geneva to attend the International Labour Office conference, and there we met many of the people who had attended similar conferences in the United States of America. I understand that the next International Labour Office conference is to be held at Philadelphia in 1949, and I stronglly urge the Government, either to forgo Australian representation altogether, or to send a delegation which will be sufficiently large to permit Australian participation in the work of the various committees that will be formed. In passing, I should like to warn all those who look to the International Labour Office for the emancipation of the worker by the introduction of improved working conditions, social services, and amenities, that there is no hope of any such development from that organization. Opposing the unanimous decision of the trade union representatives that natives in South Africa should be allowed to organize and become members of trade unions, the representatives of the employers’ organization in that country contended that if this were permitted, the natives would become Communists. If the members of that body were allowed to have their way, there would be not trade unions in this or any other country. The Australian Government was one of the few’ which supported the claims of workers under other governments.
While in Ireland I had the pleasure of discussing with the leaders of the trade union movement in Eire, the situation as I viewed it. The trade unions of Ireland have no local autonomy; they are directed from London. I suggested to their leaders that Ireland should become an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I am pleased to be able to say that Mr. de Valera, on a subsequent visit to America, suggested that American influence might be used in an effort to persuade the British Parliament to abolish the partition of Ireland, and thus permit the six Ulster counties to be amalgamated with the 26 counties of the southern division. Ireland would then be united. As honorable senators are well aware, an Australian has been elevated to the highest position in this country, the Governor-Generalship. Therefore, nothing should be placed in the way of the Irish people administering their country on a national basis. I trust that any influence which the Australian Government may have with the British Government will be used to support Mr. de Valera, and to abolish the partition of Ireland, thus enabling Ireland to become a great member nation of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
We then proceeded to the United States of America, and I am happy to inform honorable senators that I was made most welcome in that country from the time of my arrival I am quite sure that the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) also was warmly welcomed during his stay, and that any other member of this Parliament who visits that land will be cordially received. The American people have a high regard for Australians. I believe that much of the credit for this must go to the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). A large measure of credit can be given also to American servicemen who visited this country during the war. It ill becomes the Opposition to discredit the Minister for External Affairs for political reason’s. He has done valuable work on behalf of the Government and people of Australia.
Honorable senators will be interested to hear of some of my experiences which have a bearing on the subject-matter of this debate. The prices charged for meals in America, while I was there, were anything but constant. A meal consisting of grilled steak may cost one dollar on one day, one dollar fifty cents on the next day, and one dollar seventy-five cents on the following day. That is an example of what can happen when price control is removed. It is to be hoped, therefore that the people of Australia, at the referendum on the 29 th May next, will support the Government’s proposals. Further examples of high prices come to my mind. I saw steak sold for 7s. per lb., and butter for 6s. 3d. per lb. Those are prices which the workers have to pay. Honorable senators may be astonished to learn that the average American worker must, of necessity, send his wife and children to work, to supplement his own income, and provide the wherewithal for the mere existence of the family unit. Beyond all doubt, the workers in Australia enjoy the best conditions that are to be found in the world to-day. The conditions of the workers in America, generally speaking, are far below the Australian standard.
While in America, I had the opportunity and pleasure of visiting Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. In parts of those cities, people are living in tenements which, were they in Australia, would have been condemned long ago as slums. I was amazed, when passing a particularly long tenement house, to observe negroes sitting on the footpath and leaning on the window sills of the building, with white people doing precisely the same thing in the adjoining tenement building. There is no doubt that the American Government is faced with a big racial problem. Such experiences convinced me that the Australian Labour party’s adherence to the white Australia policy is undoubtedly right.
A great deal has been said in this country about communism. Opposition senators would have the people believe that there is imminent danger of Communists taking control of this Parliament and subjecting the people of Australia to their will. If anything has been done in Australia to defeat communism, the present Government has been responsible for it. By the expansion of social services, it has done more to combat the aims of communism than was done by previous governments. Members of the Opposition in both the House of Representatives and the Senate are determined, if they can do so, to convince the people of Australia that the Government is composed of “ fellow travellers “ of the Communist party. Their one desire is to confuse the issue. Communism will not grow side by side with the expansion of social services. Undoubtedly, the number of its adherents is increasing throughout the world, because of the hardships which the peoples of various countries have to suffer. In the great, free, and fair land of America, what was known as the Taft-Hartley legislation was introduced. Its provisions were so drastic that it was vetoed by President Truman, but both Congress and the Senate negatived the veto and the legislation became law. Since it has been in operation, there have been strikes caused by minorities, and the instigators of them have been fined thousands of dollars in the courts. For example, Mr. Lewis, the leader of a number of American workers’ organizations, was fined thousands of dollars. I shall give honorable senators an idea of how this legislation would operate in Australia. Let us assume that the head-quarters of an important union is in Sydney or Melbourne, and that there is a branch in Inverell, New South Wales. If that branch elected, as one of its executive officers, a Communist, or a supporter of communism, the union would be de-registered throughout Australia. Workers who intend to strike have to give notice of their intention several weeks ahead. We all know what would happen to Australian workers with a grievance who were compelled to give notice of their intention to strike. I have observed that .Senator Taft is not receiving many votes in his attempt to obtain selection as the Republican candidate at the Presidential election. One reason for that, in my opinion, is that his legislation would be truly fascist. Out of fascist legislation, communism grows. I recall the passage by the BrucePage Government of what became known as the “ dog-collar act “, which did more to foster communism in this country than any other piece of legislation. In the past, numerous promises have been made to the people of the world but have not been fulfilled. The people, generally, have been told that they should have a greater share of what society has to offer. Statements along those lines were repeatedly made in the years between 1939 and 1943, by representatives of governments throughout the world. I heard the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) say in that chamber, when the Japanese were in New Guinea, that when the war was over the people must have a bigger share of what society had to offer. He also said that they must be given a share of industry. At that time, no fewer than 800,000 persons were serving in the Australian armed forces. When the war was over, they were demobilized and many of them returned to their former avocations. When they went hack to work on the wharfs, in the mines, and in other walks of life, they found that the bosses were trying to do things which they could not tolerate. One objectionable practice was that of tying two bales of wool together to be handled in one operation. Because the wharf labourers refused to move these “ double dumps the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives and his supporters branded those heroes, to whom they had promised “ a bigger share of what society had to offer “, as Communists who refused to work. Those were the men who fought to save Australia! The nation depended upon them in time of war, and it depended upon them to re-establish the economic stability of the nation when peace returned. But because they demanded the fair treatment which had been promised to them by the Liberal party, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Melbourne Herald, the Melbourne Sun News-Pictorial, and allied interests, they were branded as Communists.
We hear a great deal about what is described as Russian encroachment in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Manchuria and other countries, but we are never told about the reasons for these political changes. The truth is that the changes were brought about to meet the wishes of the people of those countries who were told during the war that if they went underground and disorganized the Nazi forces they would be given an improved way of life when peace returned. What led to the so-called rape of Poland ? Three men - Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill - were responsible for it. They met at Yalta and bargained over the fate of Poland. None of them represented the Labour party; two of them represented capitalism as we know it, and the third represented another form of capitalism. At that conference, Roosevelt and Churchill gave Poland to Stalin. They would have given him the moon at that time if they had had the power to do so. Nations are suffering to-day because of the concessions that were made at Yalta. The newspapers reported some time ago that the Communists had captured the Hungarian parliament. First they called the new government a Communist government; now they say that it is a “ Communist-dominated “ government. I met delegates from many other nations when I attended the International Trade Conference at Geneva not long ago, and I have kept in touch with them since my return to Australia. One of these men is Dr. Simonovits, chief of the Industrial Hygiene Section at Budapest in Hungary. I shall read his account of events in that country under the control of its so-called Communistdominated government.
– What is the date on the letter?
– The letter was written in Budapest on the 17th March, 1948. It states-
Thank you for your letter. I am very grateful for the interest that you have shown towards the progress being made with the reconstruction of my country. In connexion with this I wish to draw your attention to the enclosed short synopsis dealing with the industrial hygiene organization of Hungary.
The attached report is as follows: -
The supervision of the organization of industrial health in Hungary was in the old times the responsibility of the Minister of Commerce. The law regulating the hygiene of industry did not consider the health of the workers, it was solely concerned whether the factory did not have a detrimental effect on the public health conditions of the vicinity.
These appalling conditions led to a new law which instituted a body with the view to protect the interest of the -workers. This body consisted first of engineers and consequently their work could not possibly be satisfactory from health point of view, therefore from the beginning of this century there are medical men delegated to it. Besides this every factory is supervised regularly by medical officers.
The health administration of a borough was directed by an official of legal training and he is to decide on industrial and public health questions as well. The medical officer, who is to regulate the industrial hygienic question of factories, is subordinated to him. The medical officer, contrary to the English system, cannot decide any problem, he only has the right to propose. In case the directorate of the factory objects to such a decision, it has the right to appeal to higher authorities.
Since Hungary became a democratic state, great improvement occurred in this field as well. In every factory there is a Committee of Workers - both manual and intellectual workers - which resembles very much the work councils of the English-speaking countries. These committees play an important role not only in the prevention of industrial diseases and accidents, but they carry on a very important public health propaganda; they set up kitchens for the workers, day-nurseries for their children under school-going age, where they are fed and cared for during the whole day; culture-centres, &c. The trade unions insist on supplying all suitable installation, what are necessary to prevent accident and disease, according to the collective contract; in certain industries the provision of protective food, &c. In these activities the Ministry of Welfare, or rather its immediate subordinate, the State Hygiene Institute, has an important role.
In the past, factories had no physicians of their own. To-day there is a special training for factory-physicians. The physician of the factory does not only the preventive work, hut also the curative one. Every worker is insured against sickness, accident and old-age, the financial responsibility for which belongs to the employer. The physician of the factory is an employee of the Social Insurance Institute, which circumstance makes him independent from the owner and manager of the factory.
The factory physician has a nursing staff and next to them there is a social worker, whose work is closely connected with that of the physician, both in the preventive and curative work and in the social welfare sphere as well.
I have read this document in to show that the allegedly Communist-dominated government of Hungary is beginning to overtake the progressive legislation that was enacted in the Commonwealth sphere in Australia, and in the State of New South “Wales, many years ago. It is introducing such amenities as sickness and accident benefits and age pensions. Apparently the change of government in that country was necessary in order to bring about a belated improvement in social administration. I assure honorable senators that my correspondent is anything but a Communist. He dislikes the Communist party as much as I do. These facts discount the newspaper reports of events in Hungary.
The newspapers are capable of condemning the government of any country in the eyes of the people because there is no other means of spreading the truth. Suppression is the greatest weapon that the press holds. I have heard a great deal of talk about freedom of the press in Australia. The fact is that the press is free to publish what it wishes and to suppress what it wishes. It could suppress the Labour party in Australia as the newspapers of Great Britain suppressed Lloyd George and the Liberal party after World War I. Lloyd George had been carried shoulder high and greeted as “ the great Welshman who had delivered the goods for England”, but, within eighteen months of that triumph, the people had forgotten about him because of a conspiracy amongst the newspapers to displace him and his party. As the result of that newspaper campaign, Lloyd George and his supporters suffered political annihilation at a general election. The press published everything discreditable to the Liberal party and suppressed any reference to anything in its favour. That is the sort of freedom that the newspapers enjoy ! They say, “ Do not shackle the press; let us shackle the people”. As Senator O’flaherty has said, newspaper proprietors would do anything for money. They are quite prepared to publish subversive advertisements as long as they are paid for doing so. I should like to see established in Australia and in all other countries newspapers owned and controlled by governments responsible te the people for their conduct. That might put an end to the war-mongering that is going on throughout the world to-day.
We live in the atomic age. Atomic energy is a terrible thing. As has been said over and over again, it knows no people ; the rich and the poor alike can be destroyed by the explosion of an atomic bomb. If the nations of the world would send to international gatherings for the promotion of peace men of the calibre of the Australian Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), and a number of women as well, I am sure that they could work out some solution of their problems that would save the world from another terrible war. During this century one of the most revolting forms of barbarism in history has been brought into force in war. During World War I., cities were bombed and shelled, but the women and children usually were taken to safety beforehand. During World War II., bombs were dropped indiscriminately. Governments cared not whom they hurt or killed. Women and children hundreds of miles away from the front lines were callously slaughtered. The atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities disintegrated people. Surely, in this great age of scientific progress, men and women have enough intelligence to say, “Atomic bombs shall never again be used for the purpose of destruction. We shall harness the energy of the atom to provide power for industry and commerce so that oil will lose its value. By this means we will prevent further wars, because greed for oil as a source of power appears to be one of the chief causes of international conflict.” It is as well that amongst the delegates to the international conferences, there have been people like the Minister for External Affairs and I trust that the influence of the Australian Governmentwill at all times be exerted towards preserving the nations, and particularly the English-speaking countries, from the destruction which another war would surely bring upon them.
I commend the Minister and those who were associated with him in the compilation of the document now before the Senate, and I believe that it contains all the information which one would desire in regard to these matters. I trust that members of the Opposition, both in this chamber and in the House of Representatives, as well as the press, will give to the Government the credit which it deserves for the part that it has played in recent international discussions. I hope that the document will be printed and that it will be read by honorable senators and by the people, because it contains most valuable information, for all who seek to acquaint themselves with current international affairs.
– In making my contribution to the debate on this vitally important matter I desire to express my pleasure that the statement has been presented in such a comprehensive form. Copies of the document have been available to us only for a short period, and therefore I cannot discuss as I would wish many of the important matters to which it refers. However, one feature of the document which has impressed me is the part played by Australia’s representatives at conference after conference on international affairs. Although I do not desire to raise political issues, I deprecate the continued attempts of members of the Opposition, in this chamber and in the House of Representatives, and of the press generally, to decry the efforts of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), and other illustrious Australians who have represented our country in the international discussions which have taken place. Prior to the outbreak of World War I., Australia was, from the point of view of international relations, of only minor importance. Nevertheless, there were amongst the nations which dictated the course of world events in those days some which respected the ideals of decency and good citizenship, for which we are now contending. Following the “ war to end war “, strenuous, but unsuccessful, efforts were made by various powers to devise some method of eliminating war from international relationships. Their efforts were so unsuccessful that the world was again plunged into a conflict, and that war proved more savage and barbarous than any which had preceded it. Of course, an overwhelming majority of the peoples of the countries which took part in that war had no desire to engage in conflict. Indeed, when we examine wars rationally, we ask ourselves what have the citizens of any country to gain from them? I may view this problem through glasses tinted with experience and bitterness, because, as the . years pass, I realize the extent of the sacrifice made by my family in World War I. In the light of that experience I can .sympathize with the people who are undergoing nervewracking anxieties, not only in this country but also in other countries, because of the disturbing trend of current international events. One hesitates to conjecture just what the future holds.
The statement on international affairs which was presented to the Senate this afternoon comprises approximately 200 pages and recounts the failure of conference after conference of the representatives of the world powers to devise some means of preventing the outbreak of war. Of course, the discussions at all those conferences commenced with the pious hope that the peoples of the world should live in contentment and enjoy the good things of the earth. However, one can discern, even in the pages of the statement, the influences of the forces making for war. The motion dealing with war propaganda submitted by Mr. Vishinsky, the Russian representative, to which an amendment was suggested by the Australian representative, is most significant. Mr. Vishinsky did not mention any country in particular in the terms of that motion, but he vigorously denounced the .propaganda for war which is being disseminated, and advocated the adoption of counter measures. He pointed out that war propaganda may assume many forms. One has only to observe the propaganda which is disseminated daily to realize that not a single avenue is neglected by the propagandists. When we analyse that propaganda and seek to discover the motive behind it we can only come to the conclusion that it is a sordid result of the capitalistic system which is represented in almost every country of the world. The operators of that system have exploited ruthlessly the illiterate populations of countries which possessed natural wealth. That process has been going on for a long time, and in the course of it the people of the exploited countries, who were its victims, have protested against being assigned the role of mere cogs in the machine. Over the years their resentment has resulted in political agitation and reform. Because of our knowledge of the recent history of the world we know that the Australian moye to .eliminate war propaganda was a wise one. Dr.. Evatt pointed out that peace would best be preserved by the free circulation of uncensored news. I mention that because it is something which vitally affects Australians.
I am as much opposed to communism as is any member of the political parties opposite, and I regret that on every possible occasion they criticize the Government for allegedly pandering to the Communists. Ever since Labour first took office it has had to carry the extremists of the right as well as of the left, and the solid support which it enjoys to-day is proof of the fact that the majority of the people approve its policy. Because of the acceptance of that policy Labour governments have been able to introduce measures which have benefited substantially the mass of Australians.
Senator Amour referred to the frightful danger to the world of the atomic bomb. In common with many others I believe that Providence has endowed men with the ingenuity to devise such remarkable things as atomic energy, and that Providence intends that their discoveries should be devoted to the welfare of mankind. Indeed, it is hardly possible to visualize the boon which would be conferred on mankind if the benefits of modern science were devoted exclusively to the welfare of mankind. However, the jealousies and the hatreds bequeathed to men down the centuries which have elapsed since the advent of capitalism will not allow them to use these things solely for their benefit. For that reason the discovery of atomic power constitutes a menace to mankind which is far greater than its potentialities for good. I do not pretend to be able to suggest the steps which might be taken to control the use of atomic energy so that it could be directed to the improvement of the lot of the peoples of the world. Instead, I am amazed at the problem of distribution which confronts the world to-day. On the one hand, there are countries whose millions are starving, whilst, on the other hand, there are countries whose rulers are already advocating another war. Weapons of which the imagination can hardly conceive are being devised. However, I believe that the vast mass of public opinion will assert itself in the countries of the world and that Christian principles will prevail. One of the most -disappointing features of the recent international discussions is that -conference after conference failed to evolve a satisfactory method of preserving the peace of .the world. That is because of the greed, hate and jealousy of many nations which refuse to trust others. It is a grave anomaly that governments .of various nations while urging their people to produce more to relieve the starving peoples of the world, at the same time are making every preparation for war. It is said that military preparedness is the best defence. To a degree that is sound; but other nations also are justified in preparing for war as the best means of protecting themselves.
T am startled when I read certain articles appearing in publications circulating in this country. They would be humorous if one could afford to ignore the troubled times through which the world is passing. Every section of the Australian community with the help of the Government is ready and anxious to deliver as much foodstuffs as possible to the people of Great Britain and the starving peoples of Europe. Honorable senators, therefore, will share my astonishment upon reading the following article which appeared in The Housewife : -
We definitely now know that all our surplus butter has not gone to Britain. Other countries have been using it and the public is again being bluffed, because such a large quantity of concentrated butter ie being sent to Italy - we are told only for their children.
We would like some guarantee that the adults are not also using it, while we go fairly short here. There are many Australians, because of other foods as well as butter of which they are short and occasionally left without altogether, suffering from malnutrition, and their resistance is lowered and illness intensified.
If there is one country in the world that should have plenty of fatty oils, surely that country is Italy. They have oily fish, and in the past they have used goats’ milk. They have had their miles and miles of olive groves where olive oil and other essential oils for food, to which Italians have been accustomed, should even now be grown prolifically.
It does not seem fair to us that we live on 0 oz. of butter a week and Britain on 3 oz., while this is being sent to enemy countries and, after all, Italy twice stabbed the Allies in the back at crucial moments of World Wars I. and II., and then when they were beaten crept under the Allies’ umbrella for protection.
No doubt the latter part of that article is true, but when the leaders of the nations decide in conference which sections of suffering humanity are most in need of relief, the expression of such views is entirely out of place and does a disservice to the cause of the United Nations and its endeavours to lay solid foundations for the maintenance of future peace. It is all very well for some people to recall what this or that country has done in the
East, but if we are to relieve suffering humanity it ill behoves any one to resurrect such facts. Thousands of people who are now starving in Europe find themselves in their present plight through no fault of their own; they are victims of war. The welfare of humanity as a whole calls for the establishment of conditions under which all peoples will enjoy freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of thought and worship and freedom to live in peace with their neighbours. In my view the first of the freedoms is freedom from want. We .must first ensure that no one will be obliged to go hungry. I cannot conceive that any one would oppose measures to relieve starving peoples in whatever country they may live. To-day, turmoil, unrest and fear exist in many European countries to a degree unparalleled in history. Even Great Britain, because of the sacrifices which it was called upon to make in the recent war, when for a time it stood alone in defence of the rights of humanity, and carried more than its fair share of that burden, finds itself in distress. At the same time, however, Great Britain has acted as the protector of less fortunate peoples who have become victims of economic and industrial dislocation and tribal conflicts within their boundaries. Great Britain now finds itself obliged to evacuate its forces from Palestine and to leave the people of that country to the tender mercies of those who will take charge of it. We sincerely hope that Great Britain’s decision in that respect will be justified. We know, of course, that the decision has been made only after the most thorough consideration by British leaders. However, since Great Britain announced its decision to evacuate Palestine, we have read almost daily in the press reports of insurrections and uprisings there.
Even though the conferences at which Australia has been represented as a member of the United Nations have not met with the measure of success we hoped for, the Australian people will do well to realize fully the difficulties now confronting the world. It is at least gratifying to note the remarkable receptions which have been given overseas to our emissaries, particularly the Minister for External Affairs. It would be futile for me to attempt to criticize the failure of many of those conferences to arrive at concrete decisions. Some ‘have adopted proposals which should prove of benefit to humanity as a whole. However, in view of the universal predominance of hate and jealousy, the problems confronting the world must be settled speedily if they are to be settled at all. I fear that many peoples are beginning to feel that Christianity and the teachings of Our Saviour have been in vain. I say without reservation that, as the purely material approach to international problems has failed, the world sadly needs to return to Christian principles. Perhaps the individual application of the Ten Commandants and a practical observance of love and humanity on the part of all peoples will do more than anything else to establish that peace for which the world yearns. I sincerely hope that in the near future we shall have tangible evidence of a change of heart in that direction.
– This debate affords an opportunity to remind ourselves of the preamble to the United Nations Charter, which reads -
We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to re-affirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and for these ends to practise tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security . . .
It is hardly necessary to say that the implementation of such worthy sentiments will find the most cordial and enthusiastic support from people of goodwill the world over, particularly in a country like Australia, which, through the goodness of Providence, has not suffered to anything like the degree other countries have suffered. Thank God, it has not yet been our sad fate to hear the tramp of enemy feet upon our own land. If there is any contribution which we as a people can make to remove from the people of less happy lands that fear and dread which must haunt them day and night it is our duty to do what lies within our power. We are discussing a voluminous report. In some respects, it is an interesting travelogue. Some parts of it would provide sufficient material for a full debate, and it would be idle for honorable senators, in the short time at our disposal, to try to do justice to the various matters and incidents with which it deals. That the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has been energetic, active and capable is beyond doubt. That he is a man of colossal capacity and phenomenal intellect is also beyond doubt. His intellect is equalled only by his colossal vanity and his unflagging efforts and enthusiasm in pursuing the ambitions of Dr. H. V. Evatt. Much is recorded in the report before us, but the account of things accomplished is not very impressive. Much time has been devoted to devising the correct forms and formulas, the precise manner in which resolutions should be worded; but, unfortunately, in the light of subsequent events, lip service only has been given to resolutions ably, earnestly and sincerely moved, I have no doubt, by the Minister for External Affairs. Lip service has been given to those resolutions by subscribing nations, but the performances of those nations is inconsistent with their spoken word.
– The honorable senator does not blame the Minister for that?
– No. I am not an authority on world affairs, and I cannot speak with intimate knowledge of conditions prevailing in Poland, Hungary, Roumania, Bulgaria and other countries which have, since the establishment of the United Nations organization, come under the influence of Soviet Russia. I am prepared, however, to believe by virtue of the validity of the authorities by which I have informed myself, that there is a veritable iron curtain screening these unfortunate peoples from the rest of the western world. Not long ago, these peoples enjoyed free institutions - institutions upon which were impressed their own particular national characteristics. World War II. was fought to liberate the small peoples all over the world; but the liberty won for those nations was shortlived indeed. In many instances, no sooner was the iron heel of the Nazis removed from their suffering body politic, than the double iron hoof of Russia was pressed upon them. There may be some amongst us who are supremely naive and sufficiently credulous to believe that these peoples continue to enjoy freedom as we understand it. In my opposition to the Communist way of life, I do not necessarily feel an antagonism to the individual Communist. 1 do not subscribe to the idea that all Communists eat their young, and are guilty of other unnatural personal atrocities; but so far as their way of life and form of government is concerned, I could hot like anything less, and I am sure that that is the feeling of most of the people who live under their enforced regime. If these people are really happy, and if, as some honorable senators have indicated, the changes we have seen in those countries have merely been ordinary changes of government such as we experienced in this country when the Menzies Government gave way to the Fadden Government, the Fadden Government to the Curtin Government, and the Curtin Government to the Chifley Government, there are some matters that require an explanation. So far as I know, none of our displaced leaders has committed suicide, or has fled from the country, leaving his wife and family at the mercy of the succeeding administration, and in a foreign land now wonders what cruelty and bestialities are being inflicted upon his loved ones. That does not happen in a civilized country, but that is precisely what has happened in the countries to which I have referred. We have in exile in America the former Premier of Hungary. He does not seem to think that his displacement resulted from an ordinary change of government, and that he will be welcomed back to Hungary as an erudite elder statesman. He is not likely to return for some time, if ever. After the recent coup in Czechoslovakia, the Foreign Minister committed suicide, and the Deputy Premier and twelve Cabinet Ministers were arrested and gaoled. That is not the way that civilized governments usually treat members of a defeated administration. Honorable senators opposite who to-day enjoy Cabinet rank need have no fear that after 1949 they will be driven to suicide or will be forced to flee from the country just because the present Opposition parties will be in power. I assure members of the Government that we shall observe the traditional decencies of civilized people.
In reply to a courteous interjection of mine earlier to-night, Senator O’Flaherty passed a very ill-mannered remark. I am sure that the stony silence in which his attempted humour was received by the Senate was as discomfiting to him as it was pleasing to me. It was not the first time that I had been subjected to the same ill manner; but I assure the Senate that a person with my background can never be insulted or offended by a man like Senator O’Flaherty. At any rate, I do not propose to waste any more time upon the incident, and I shall not refer to it again unless I have occasion to do so.
The statement that we are now discussing is sadly lacking in any account of things of major importance that actually have been accomplished. Certainly, resolutions have been adopted, but the general trend of world affairs does not appear to have been very much influenced by those resolutions, so piously and earnestly agreed to.
– What does the honorable senator suggest should be done ?
– Had the honorable senator been listening to the earlier portion of my speech, he would have heard me say that we should leave no stone unturned in our efforts to bring an influence for good upon the troubled world ; but we must not lose the substance for the shadow. The mere formulation and adoption of nicely worded, well phrased, resolutions will get us precisely nowhere. Apart from the absence of any record of accomplishments in regard to the matters to which I have referred, there are some questions upon which the attitude of the Australian representatives has not been in accordance with the wishes of the Australian people. There is great danger in presuming to express the opinion of the citizens of this country without first ascertaining their views through their representatives in this Parliament. The document that we are discussing is a record which, in its ramifications, goes back for twelve months. For all practical purposes, that is precisely as useful as last year’s calendar. There is nothing mentioned in it that we can undo. There is nothing in it which if commended or condemned by us will add the slightest tittle to the sum of human happiness. It is a record of what has already been done. If Australia is to bring to the councils of the world a voice that will carry the weight, feeling, and sentiment of this country, a debate should first take place in the Parliament 30 that the considered opinion of the Australian people may be ascertained. Otherwise, there is grave dang-r that misunderstandings may result in serious injury to the prestige and unity of the British Commonwealth of Nations. On some comparatively minor matters Australia has taken a view diametrically opposed to that of Great Britain. “Whilst we are not slavishly bound by decisions that Great Britain may make, each member of the British Commonwealth of Nations is expected to be loyal to the others, and unless a vital matter of principle is involved, differences of opinion should be adjusted satisfactorily in private. To discuss them in the open councils of the world may create a false impression in the minds of other nations that there exists the seed of the disintegration of the British Commonwealth of Nations. “We realize that in the final analysis we are each others best, most loyal and trusted friends. I shall cite some instances in which our representatives have given expression to a personal rather than a considered Australian national point of view. That would be dangerous if allowed to continue, because we do not wish officials of the Department of External Affairs to be the personal ambassadors or representatives of the Minister, but the representatives of the Australian nation. The first instance that comes to mind is Australia’s support of the Indonesians against the Dutch, particularly bearing in mind the fact that at that time the Indonesian Government was a puppet government, established by the Japanese, whereas the Dutch were our allies ; their blood had been shed with ours, and their ships had fought alongside and had gone down with our ships. I instance also Australia’s support of the Indians in South Africa against the South Africans. That was rather a delicate and somewhat presumptuous interference by us in the affairs of a sister dominion, particularly when we remember our adherence to the “White Australia policy. We also supported the Russians in southern Korea against the Americans, another unwise action. We supported the Russians against the British when the latter sought the support of the United Nations organization for the extension of human rights to the forcibly detained Russian wives of British and American soldiers. We supported the Russians against the Arabs in Palestine.
In regard to the general set-up of the United Nations organization, it is extremely disappointing to members of the Opposition and, I am sure, to some members of the Government, to find that two major countries - major in the sense that they have children of their own blood throughout most of the world - have not been admitted to membership of the United Nations. I refer to Eire and Spain. The influence of these nations throughout the world is considerable, and in my opinion they have been refused membership of the United Nations because of the ideological clash between them and Soviet Russia.
Pursuant to its association with the United Nations, Australia is sending wool, foodstuffs and clothing to other parts of the world, but great care should be taken to- ensure that, if the satellite countries of Russia receive any of those commodities, they shall not be allowed to carry on a system of proselytization. Any one who is familiar with the history of Ireland during the forties and ‘fifties of last century - at the time of the famine - will be aware of the proselytization which went on at that time. The catch-call was “ Don’t apostatize, and you don’t get the soup “. The motto for the starving people of middle Europe is “ Join in our civilization ; accept our scheme of life and we will feed you. Unless you join us, you will starve “. We should see that any food or clothing which is sent from Australia is wisely distributed.
Another very cogent reason why international affairs should be discussed more frequently is that thereby we should be better informed as to the drift of world events. During the last few months we have heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) say one thing, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) another, and the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) and others, including authorities in both America and England, something else. As recently as the 22nd of March, the Minister for External Affairs said that the present world situation could only be described as a drift towards war. On the other hand, the Minister for Defence said there was no prospect of war; the Prime Minister said that nothing had happened in the last few years calculated to make any one believe that we are being driven to war.
– What does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition think?
– I think we have been very badly informed. We should be able to get the facts and the opinions of our leaders, and then we should have an opportunity to debate the opinions and the facts placed before us. Until that state of affairs comes about we cannot have a healthy, intelligent, and well-informed public opinion regarding these matters which vitally affect the lives of all of us. I trust that Senator Sheehan will use his influence with his party to ensure that the subject will be debated fully and frankly so that we may have the benefit of an enlightened opinion.
Practically every page of this voluminous report contains items of interest. I trust that in the future the Senate will be given more up-to-date information instead of being reminded- of what happened twelve months ago, so that we shall have an opportunity to debate the intended or projected attitude of our representatives at the meetings which are in contemplation months ahead. There is very little we can doafter the position has been met, except to commend or condemn the action, but that does not accomplish anything. It is quite possible that, arising out of a debate, the Minister for External Affairs would be informed of lines of thought and points of view which hitherto had not occurred to him. However, commendable the sentiments expressed in the preamble to the Charter may be, we must bear in mind happenings in the world around us, and not delude ourselves into a false sense of security. We must face the facts as they are and not solace ourselves by imagining a state of affairs which is far removed from reality. The term “ human rights “ is referred to in the preamble to the Charter. In terms of Christian philosophy human rights have a vastly different meaning from that attributed to them in the athiest and materialistic philosophy which is so evident in the world to-day. Meanwhile we should make whatever contributions we can towards a happier and better world. There is very little hope for any permanent improvement until the nations of the world accept and obey the rule of law which is based upon the Christian principles of truth, justice and charity. Not until then will fear be removed from the lives of the people; not until then will the small peoples of the world be allowed to lead quiet and happy lives, far removed from the frightful fears which overshadow their thresholds to-day.
.- During my lifetime there have been two tragic wars and a world-wide depression. After those two world wars we find ourselves in a state of society which is described by Mr. W. G. W. Duncan, in the excellent Current Affairs Bulletin, as follows : -
The world scene is an unpleasant one, marred by tensions, intrigue, diplomatic sparring and thinly disguised threats; it is essential, then to attempt an unprejudiced analysis of the situation and of the motives which lie behind the moves which are openly made. That there is peril in the present clash of Russian and American interests is obvious. To look at the facts which have led to this crisis, the historical, ideological and economic influences at work in poisoning the relationships of the two great powers is the task attempted in this bulletin.
That is a true analysis of the position in which we find ourselves. After World War I. the League of Nations was established. I was a member of that organization for a great many years, and I know of the excellent work that it accomplished. Now, after a second world war, we have a new organization known as the United Nations. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), who has been praised by honorable senators on both sides of the Senate this evening, has stated that if the organization can be kept alive for two or three years more it may be virtually impossible for another shooting war to break out within our lifetime. We certainly hope that he is right, but, in the meantime, what are we going to do about it?
I sincerely believe that it is the duty of the Government to set up a foreign affairs committee in each House. We have in this Parliament some excellent representatives of the people, who are men of the world and understand the existing situation. We have already set up a number of statutory bodies, including the Public Works Committee and the Broadcasting Committee, which do excellent work. The foreign affairs committees which I have suggested could work separately for the most part, but could combine for the purpose of arriving at decisions. In my opinion, the committee system works better than any departmental activity, because in a committee many different opinions are expressed, and ideas are put forward freely and are discussed frankly. Research officers may report to the committee, which can then deliberate calmly and arrive at sound conclusions. Such a’ committee is in a better position to deal with difficult situations than is any government department. Working on their own, without any parliamentary influence, departmental officers tend to become hidebound.
During the last fortnight I have listened with interest to debates in both the
House of Representatives and the Senate, and I have come to the conclusion that a factor which could assist to bring about industrial peace has been lost sight of. I refer to the necessity for a universal language. Our representatives who attend conferences in many countries listen to speeches by representatives of many nations but cannot converse with all who take part in the conferences. The International Labour Office has a most successful system of interpreting what is said. On the desk in front of each delegate is an instrument with a dial which enables him to tune in to the delegate who is speaking. By means of the dial he can select the speech he wishes to hear and can follow it in his own or in one of a number of other languages. But that is not enough. After the conference has concluded, or perhaps when the sitting has been suspended for the day, it is desirable that the delegates of the various countries should meet socially, because by this means a good deal of useful information can be exchanged and friendly relations established. That cannot be done under the present system. In one generation, if the nations tackled the problem seriously, we could have a universal language which we could all understand and be able to use. At the conference which I attended at Seattle in 1946, I found that the ‘representatives of Argentina - a country which has been blackguarded throughout the world - were very friendly men, and I enjoyed talking to them. The effort to understand their version of the English language was painful, but I was anxious to learn their ideas about methods of government and international affairs. I regretted that I could not talk readily with them so that I could understand their points of view and put them forward in this House. I experienced the same disability in conversation with the Belgians and the Mexicans. I particularly wanted to’ learn what was being done for the social welfare of the Mexican people because 1 had heard that great strides in that field had been made in that country. However, I could not speak their language, and therefore I could not find out what had been done. I also wanted to ask the Greek delegates about the activities of Russians in the guerrilla warfare in Greece, but again I was hampered by the absence of a common language. I consider that it is -absolutely necessary for us to tackle the problem of creating a universal language. We have the radio, which can be used as a means of education. Also we can use aerial services to travel to any part of the world within a few days. We have great opportunities to advance the cause of peace if only we knew how to use them to the best advantage. We should tackle first things first, and I believe that the first thing necessary to achieve desirable results is a universal language.
We should seek the help of our great church organizations in promoting international friendship. The mighty Church of England has spheres of influence in all parts of the world. The Roman Catholic Church is international in character. It uses the Latin language, and wherever one may be in the world, one can understand its services. We are not taking advantage of the great opportunities made available to us by these religious organizations. What would be wrong about the United Nations seeking the aid of the churches in organizing conferences in various parts of the world in order to spread the gospel of universal Christianity and peace? They could do a great amount of good for humanity in this way. We have overlooked their influence too long. When I was in the United States of America in 1946, the newspapers every day published headlines such as this - “ We must fight Russia now”. That was capitalist propaganda, and I say at once that I sincerely believe that the working people of the United States of America were not in sympathy with it. I found them to be just as honest and sincere as the people of Australia. They were not, of course, as well organized as Australian working people and they lacked the appreciation of trade union principles which is apparent in this country, but they were good, honest and upright citizens. I have nothing to say in criticism of them. I make bold to say that they will endorse Mr. Henry Wallace’s policy at the forthcoming election, and that the result will be to the advantage of people all over the world.
While I was in America, the capitalists were collecting funds to finance illegal immigration to Palestine. In publishing advertisements in almost every newspaper, calling for money for this purpose, they were committing an absolute breach of faith. My view is supported by statements that have been made by a San Francisco lawyer named Crump, who was a member of the United Nations Palestine Committee. He wrote a book about the results of his investigations in Palestine and declared in it that the Americans actually gave one order to the Arabs openly, but contradicted it by secret communications through diplomatic channels. Any honorable senator who wishes to read that account of the Palestine situation can obtain Mr. Crump’s book in the parliamentary library. The position has been mishandled from start to finish as the result of the unstable attitude of the United States of America.
In Europe, the great Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is trying to spread its influence throughout the western nations. Small countries with large populations, such as Austria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Albania, have come under Soviet domination. Whether that is good or bad, only time will tell. We know that previously the educational and social standards of most of those peoples were very low indeed. Whether the Soviet Union can improve them and provide the people with greater security than they had under capitalist regimes is a question that will be answered only in the future. Russia claims that it is working for the welfare of those people. The United States qf America claims that it has a duty to fight for democracy and to prevent the extension of Russian influence into those spheres, and it has decided to do everything that it can do, both politically and economically, to prevent communism from spreading beyond the borders of Russia. I agree with Senator O’Flaherty that eventually there must be a show-down between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, but I sincerely hope it will not be in our time. I believe that, if we could harness all the forces for good in the world, we should be able to convince the United States of America, through its labour organizations - especially if Mr. Henry “Wallace is successful at the forthcoming election^ - that it should steer further to the left, and, at the same time, persuade Russia to steer further to the right. A former president of this Senate, exSenator J. B. Hayes, always declared that the solution to the world’s problems lay in a compromise between the two great oppose ing factions - super-capitalism and communism. I believe that he was right. To-day the Labour party is steering the proper course. It is really the centre party. On one hand we have the capitalists trying to dominate and enslave the working classes. On the other hand we have the Communists, who are trying to make the dictatorship of the proletariat supreme. The Labour party will ultimately prevail and become the ruling power throughout the world. The gospel preached by the Labour party is that all the resources of the world should be distributed fairly to all peoples. I consider that this Government did very good work in sending the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to the Havana trade conference. I have read the reports of the Australian delegation and I have been greatly impressed by the work of the Minister. We can create a greater measure of human understanding and better international co-operation by lowering trade barriers.
I refuse to believe that atomic bombs will be used against the working people of the world. I have more faith in humanity than to believe that anybody would be so barbaric as to use such dreadful weapons for the slaughter of other people. I believe in the inherent goodness of human beings. If we bring sufficient energy to bear upon the dissemination of educational propaganda, the peoples of all nations will realize the stupidity of their past actions and a permanent brotherhood of man will arise throughout the world. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) that we should strengthen the British Empire. The situation of the Empire in the world to-day is somewhat similar to that of the Labour party in politics. The Labour party is the middle bloc in politics; the Empire is the middle bloc between two opposing international factions, one on the extreme right and the other on the extreme left. Before World War II., the
British people had investments .throughout the world and they used their income from those sources to purchase foodstuff? which they could not produce in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately they neglected the immense economic resources of India. A few years ago, I made a speech in this chamber on the importance of India to the Empire, and the truth pf my statements has been born out since then. At the time, members of ,the OPPO.sition laughed and said that I was supporting economic materialism. Nothing was further from my mind. I still believe that India has economic resources at least equal to those of the United States of America. The trouble is that those resources have not been developedIndia has vast reserves of coal and iron, and of potential water-power. Above all, it has a huge supply of man-power. Had the British people continued to develop those economic resources, the security of the Empire, would have been guaranteed for all time. That is a materialistic point of view, but I have faith in it. The Empire also has great resources in Kenya and other areas within its boundaries. The British people have taken the right course in embarking upon socialization of the main industries of the United Kingdom so that they can be used to the fullest extent for their own uplift and well-being. I sincerely believe that the British way of life is the only suitable way of life for Australians.. Australia should continue to look to the United Kingdom, as it has always done, for a lead in economic affairs. We should emulate its successes.
Senator O’sullivan criticized the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) for supporting the Indonesians against the Dutch. I have always believed in the right of any people to selfdetermination. The policy of the Dutch towards the Indonesians was wrong; it involved the exploitation of the Indonesians. Had the Dutch followed the example set by the British in Australia, the Indonesian people would have been satisfied with self-government and would have worked well for the Dutch Empire. I believe also that this Government took the correct stand in relation to the Russian wives of British servicemen. Whether its moral attitude was proper .or not is another matter. The
Government was right’ in saying that any government should have the right to determine the affairs’ of its own people. That was” the only issue at stake. The Australian Government has done well, through the Minister for External Affairs, in its activities in the field of international affairs. Nevertheless, I believe it can achieve even better results by creating a foreign affairs committee in e’ach House of this” Parliament. I hope that in due course the Government will adopt the suggestions that I have made.
– The statement on international affairs prepared by 6he Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), which was presented t’o us yesterday afternoon, consists, in all, of 909 pages. It is all-embracing and deals with activities ranging from the business df the United Nations to the conclusion of a trustee’ship agreement coverins: the small and obscure Pacific Island of Nauru. Great credit is due to the Minister and his staff fdr the efficient manner in which they have compiled and presented all this’ information. I should like’ to have had at least a week in which to study it in detail. The subject of international affairs, which embraces the relationships between governments and peoples’ and the spheres of influence, radial, geographic, industrial, financial and religious which have been demarcated, requires the constant and vigilant’ attention of all members’ of the Parliament so that the Government may riot find itself committed to a course of action which is opposed to the’ ideals and the interests df the Australian people. “We cannot know too much of what is happening, and for that reason - 1 consider that the statement on international affairs which is now before us is most informative and should receive great publicity. ‘ That statement is a most extraordinary one and contains a’ remarkable record of positive action. I regret that I did not have access’ to it prior to yesterday, because I believe’ that it is impossible fdr any member of ‘ this’ chamber to digest it sufficiently in the time allowed to us.
The circum’stances existing in the world to-day are such that precipitate or ill-considered action by any nation could plunge the’ world into a conflict more hideous than any we have ever known. In Palestine 100,000 Jews have been mobilized, and already the Arab and Jewish forces are locked in a struggle, the end df which it is impossible to foresee. A fire in the bush can easily be extinguished in its initial stages, but a bushfire is something which may do incalculable damage arid is always very difficult” to extinguish. Having participated iri the” last war, I arn dismayed to realize the ominous portents of war which threaten us’ to-day. In Greece, large numbers of guerillas’ are operating”; fighting continues in China in what appears to be a war’ df attrition, and sporadic outbreaks have’ occurred iii .South America- and in the Netherlands East Indies. I agree” with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) that our concern with foreign relationships is so important that it should occupy the whole attention of the Minister for External Affairs. “Whilst paying tribute to the right honorable gentleman for the competence and e’nergy which he has displayed, I suggest that we might very well follow the lead of the United States by giving this chamber a share in the control of Australia’s foreign policy. For that reason I believe that the suggestion advanced by Senator Lamp is a good one. In the meantime, I think that the best interests of this Country would be served by reducing the size and increasing the frequency df ministerial statements- on foreign affairs. Since I have been a member of this chamber the present statement is the first one which has’ been presented to the Senate.
The subject of international relationship is one in which I have been interested foi1 a considerable time and in which I had an opportunity to gain some first-hand knowledge during’ the recent war. The end of that wai” brought about great strategic changes, the consequences of which no one can foretell. “When Germany, Italy and Japan were eliminated a3 major powers, the effective powers in the world were reduced to three, the”- United States of America, Russia and’ Great Britain. Moreover, the recent war witnessed the development of methods of mas,s destruction by atomic and biological warfare. The” result of that development is that any one of the three powers which. I have mentioned could control the world. Senator Lamp has pointed out that the British Commonwealth occupies the central position between the political aims of Russia and the United States of America. However, the danger is that the victorious powers, which combined to overthrow the common enemy, will now combine to overthrow one another. We see indications of that tendency in the unscrupulous use of the power of veto in the United Nations Assembly and in the general trend of power politics in Europe. I emphasize that Australia must interest itself in any development in Europe, because a disturbance of the present balance in Europe might have very direct repercussions on this country. Large scale operations are about to commence in Palestine, and the situation in the Netherlands East Indies and in China is causing great apprehension. The United States of America insists on its right to examine closely the terms of a trade agreement made by Sweden with Russia, and the manifestations of Russian policy in China or Manchuria may easily create an entirely new situation in Berlin.
Now that it is obvious that the purposes for which the United Nations was established are not likely to be realized, the activity of the diplomatic representatives of the world powers has become intensified. Military alliances have been concluded between various powers. Because of that, and the new weapons of warfare which have been devised, fear has been engendered in the peoples of the world. The moral distinction between offensive and defensive .action is becoming increasingly obscure. It was believed that after the last war the great powers of the world would progressively disarm-; instead, we find them increasing their armaments as rapidly as possible, and regardless of the expenditure involved. It is obvious that we must be vigilant, and, whilst retaining our freedom of action in relation to international affairs, work in partnership with other units of the British Commonwealth in order to maintain the security of our people. In passing, may I pay a tribute to the British Foreign Minister, Mr. Ernest Bevin, who has done a wonderful job in circumstances of unparalleled difficulty. He has done his utmost to prevent a widening of the rift between the three major powers and to prevent Europe from lapsing into another war. In the course of one of his recent speeches he said -
Much of Europe is not free to choose British leadership. The foreign policy of every European Sate was influenced by Russia. Germany, the economic key to European unity, was prostrate under a four-power occupation. Most countries which were free to choose their foreign policy were divided between Left wing parties, which looked to the Soviet, and Right wing parties, which clung to the United States of America, whilst the socialist parties lay uneasily between them. Wherever possible we have tried to help these socialist parties.
In the light of those remarks, I emphasize the comments made by Senator Lamp, who explained the policy of Great Britain as it applies to Russia and the United States of America.
In Australia we are pre-occupied with the Pacific region. Our late enemy, Japan, which we had hoped would never again be able to overrun countries in the Pacific, has already been rehabilitated by American finance and economic aid to a stage from which it may again become one of the great massproducing nations. Is Japan to become an outpost of American defence? It does not require a great deal of imagination to appreciate the trend of global strategy to-day. The United States of America has established a base 3,000 to 4,000 miles from its western shores, and it was decided yesterday that Australia should establish a naval and air base at Manus Island, from which large modern aircraft-carriers may operate. I know those areas well because I served there during the war, and I appreciate their importance as an outer bastion of our defence plan. At the same time, New Guinea possesses enormous potentialities, more particularly if we solicit the support and co-operation of the natives as we did before and during World War II. We must endeavour to understand the needs and ideals of those people so that should we again find ourselves in difficulties we may look confidently to them, if not for help, at least to maintain a friendly neutrality. I congratulate the Government and Mr. Justice Kirby on the efforts made in the name of Australia which resulted in bringing about a truce between warring factors in the Netherlands East Indies. Through the good offices of the committee of which Mr. Justice Kirby was a member, the Government was enabled to inform itself of the actual position existing in that country. It gives me great satisfaction to know that Australia has played a part in bringing about a cessation of hostilities between the Indonesians and the Dutch authorities. For us the magnitude of the populations of countries lying to our north is most significant. In the Netherlands East Indies alone there are over 80,000,000 people, whilst the population of resurgent India, free Burma and China must be counted in hundreds of millions. On the other hand, Australia is a large continent with a very small population. Those facts must bc borne in mind in the determination of our relations with the peoples to our north. We must develop a sympathetic approach to their problems, and should be ready to give to them whatever cultural, economic and financial aid we can supply. Obviously, it is far better that we win and retain their friendship than do anything that will make them hostile towards us. In this respect we shall do well to bear in mind the example set by Great Britain in granting complete independence to India and Burma. That action was consistent with the principle of British policy that all peoples have the right to govern themselves. Great Britain has now been obliged to evacuate its forces from Palestine because it is no longer able to bear the financial burden of policing that country. That fact emphasizes the need for Australia and New Zealand to play an increasing part in the international sphere. We can do so only by developing every country within the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Honorable senators must note with pleasure the success which is attending our immigration policy. To hold this country we must first populate it. From a mere trickle the flow of migrants to this _ country has now become a stream. We welcome all migrants to Australia because we need them to help us to develop this continent. I was pleased to read in today’s press that 900 migrants from Scotland on Empire Brent are due to arrive in Melbourne on the 10th May. That is the first vessel to bring migrants to this country direct from Scotland. Incidentally, it was constructed in 1925 at Glasgow and its skipper is Captain James Cook. The majority of the migrants coming to Australia are British. They are the best that we can get. Large numbers of Scandinavians, Poles and Baits are also arriving in this country.
Practically 80 per cent, of the news space in our daily press is devoted to international affairs. Unfortunately, however, much of the press criticism of Dr. Evatt and the foreign policy of this Government consists of half-baked theories and conjecture bearing no practical relation to the welfare of Australia or of mankind as a whole. The mo9t appropriate comment I can offer on such reports is the following which I take from Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the French Revolution, written in 1790 -
Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, repose beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field; that, of course, they are many in number; or that, after all, they are other than the little, shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome, insects of the hour.
Many years of patient and determined effort lie before us if we are to play our proper role in international affairs. We shall no doubt experience many disappointments before the nations arrive at a real understanding and we can look forward with hope to the establishment of the Parliament of Man. Under the broad, generous leadership of the Australian Labour Government and that of Great Britain and other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations we can be sure of making a major contribution towards the maintenance of world peace.
– In this discussion upon foreign affairs we are fortunate to have at our disposal the reports prepared by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) and his able colleagues who have represented Australia at recent international conferences. The Opposition has failed to offer any constructive criticism of the ‘Government’s foreign policy. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) had much to say about the failure of the League of Nations. All of us know of the failures of the League to attain the objective for which it was set up. However, Labour governments were not in office either in this country or in any of the major countries of the world during the life of the League. We know, too, that many of the failures of the League were due to the hypocrisy that pervaded international affairs for a considerable period of its existence. It was not surprising, therefore, that at the outbreak of World War II. the League went out of existence.
The United Nations Charter was ratified by the Parliament on the 24th’ September, 1945, and implemented as from the 22nd October, of the same year. In. the brief intervening period since then Australia has made important contributions to international affairs, and enhanced its prestige as :a nation. We are justly proud of the efforts made by the able representatives whom we have sent abroad to represent Australia’s interests and, in accordance with Labour’s policy, the interests of. the people of the world1 as a whole. Nothing that has been said in the debate upon the paper now before us in either this chamber or the House of Representatives detracts from those achievements. Whilst the newspapers of Australia have paid glowing tributes to the achievements of our delegates at international conferences, they have at the- same time, because, of party political influences,, suppressed much information that, would redound to their credit. To-day,, we are able to plan in the knowledge of the defects which wrecked’ the League of. Nations. The reports now presented to us show that the nations of the world have learned something from history. We have been privileged to implement the policy of a Labour government which is concerned with the interests, not only of the people of Australia,, but also those of mankind as a whole. The Government- through the Minister for Externa]? Affairs1, oan. claim credit for having established tha Court of Human- Rights which willi give- to all nations-‘ the oppor- tunity to settle disputes in a judicial and conciliatory atmosphere. Honorable senators opposite do not regard the establishment of that Court as worthy of note. I hold the opposite view. The honest manner in which the Minister for External Affairs has presented the opinions of the Australian people has been acclaimed by the representatives of other nations. Invariably, the views expressed by our representatives have been warmly appreciated and accepted as substantial contributions to the problem of maintaining world peace.
The Labour party abhors war. Above all, it upholds the principle of tolerance embodied in the United Nations Charter. The Government has not merely given lip service to the ideals of the United Nations. Honorable senators opposite say that we must do something more effective towards the maintenance of world peace. However, the Charter prescribes that only in the most extreme circumstances should any nation resort to force. Yet, mem’bers of the opposition parties in the House of Representatives frequently advocate the use of force against workers in Australia because they struggle for what they consider to be their rights. In any event the courts of this land determine those- rights. That is fair. Australia desires to adhere to that principle of justice and is anxious to show the world that it does1 so. Honorable senators opposite say that the United Nations has not achieved anything. The causes’ of war fait under many headings - finance, trade, commerce, differences of opinion and differing ideologies. Australia’s; representatives have made substantial contributions to all discussions’ of the United Nations- fo* the settlement of urgent problems.
I recall that when we recently discussed the tariff proposals resulting from the International Trade Agreement a’t Geneva, upon which I commend the Government, honorable senators opposite expressed the fear that Australia might be giving something away. Of course, Australia was: giving something away under those schedules. That was unavoidable, because there are two’ parties to’ every agreement. In the’ case of countries where the production capacity remained normal or had increased through- the war, concessions were reciprocal ; in cases where the production potential had been destroyed, the concessions were generous, This applied particularly to the United Kingdom. We realize that other countries have been devastated by war. To their peoples, even our enemies in the recent war, we must show mercy. Only by making such an approach to world problems can we maintain world peace. The Opposition objects to that approach. They have endeavoured to make party political capital out of the fact that the Government concluded a reciprocal trade agreement with New Zealand. The object of the agreement was to supply our sister dominion with commodities of which it was deficient, and that action was taken inrecognition of the fact that during the war New Zealand made good many deficiencies existing in this country. I have no doubt that the Government will continue to pursue that policy which is designed primarily in the interests of the Australian people and secondly, to show the people of New Zealand that we desire to co-operate in maintaining the excellent relations that at present existbetween our twocountries. Of equal importance is the necessity for a human instead of a hypocritical approach to the problems of civilization. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Australian Government had shown weakness in international affairs; but he did not suggest how the Government could be stronger. We could, of course,emulate the dictatorships. Are they strong? They believe in the force of arms,and their potential fighting power, we are fold by the Opposition, is tremendous. But we believe thatwe can protect ourselves on any future occasion aswe have done in the past. We do not intend to resort to strength if strength means imposing upon other nations that which we do not want imposed uponus. The Labour party is assisting to implement the provisions of the United Nations Charter. If we were to heed the advice of the Opposition, which in many respects is closely allied with the outlook of the non-democratic nations, we should adopt force as a means of gaining what we desire in the internationalsphere, but that is not our way. There have been allegations of weakness not only on the part of the Australian Government but also on the part of the United Kingdom Government whose policy has always been expressed honestly and fearlessly. No one can deny that Mr. Bevin is a strong man.
In Europe, country after country is coming under the domination of the Russian dictatorship. Even nations which desire to retain their own form of government are unable to do so because of Russian interference. Many matters of grave concern to us all are being consideredby the United Nations. We have not forgotten that, not long ago, while the Yugoslav delegates were presenting their case for the withdrawal of international forces from Greece, their own country lost its independence. Australia’s attitude on that question is clearly set out in this document. We hold that the proper administration of any nation should be entrusted to its democratically elected representatives. We advocate tolerance, and where necessary, assistance from the United Nations to support such a policy. This policy could have been formulated in co-operation with the Opposition had it been prepared to aproach international problems honestly. However, they are more concerned with making political capital by prostituting the United Nations charter.
I comenowto the subject of war propaganda which has been mentioned in this chamber and in the House of Representatives. In the pressvery day one sees propaganda issued by interests in this country which are politically opposed to Labour and are prepared to do everything possible to defeat Labour. These individuals would have us accept a position that wouldnot be tolerated in any democracy. We can defeat them in this country, and we can assist other nations to defeat them. The first necessity is education. This Government has set out to educate the people of the Commonwealth and we believe that other countries should follow our example. We believe that there should be a world-wide systemof education in decency and morals, as well as in international law, to help to preserve the dignity of nations as well as of individuals. We have sought also to eliminate starvation and privation throughout the world. We have not given mere lip service to these things. Our contributions to Great Britain in the form of food and hard cash have been substantial. We have also contributed generously to international relief organizations, whilst our sound economy has permitted us to give assistance to other countries as well as receiving through trade agreements. It is remarkable that the individuals who, in this country to-day accuse Labour of disloyalty in the international sphere, are the very people who, as honorable senators opposite admit, are not prepared to maintain full production in this country because of the allegedly oppressive taxation. And for what purposes are the taxes imposed ? They are imposed so that Australia may assist to alleviate distress in other countries, particularly those in which the standard of social services is low. They are imposed so that we. may build up an economy which will ensure the continuity of full employment. If there were full employment and adequate social services in all countries of the world, there would not be any wars. These are not only the opinions of the Minister for External Affairs. They have been expressed by him, but they were born in the great democratic movement, representatives of which occupy the treasury bench in this Parliament to-day.
Senator O’sullivan said that a full analysis of the document that we are now discussing could result in a debate on every page. I assure the honorable senator that if such debates occurred, they would all end in a victory for the person who prepared the statement presented to the Parliament and for the Government. The Opposition claims also that little has been accomplished in the international sphere, but what do honorable senators opposite want? So far as I am aware, few complaints regarding Australia’s foreign policy have come from any other source. Our representatives have fulfilled every obligation imposed upon them by. the United Nations Charter. They have placed the views of the people of this country honestly before international assemblies sponsored by the United Nations.
If there is a real fear amongst Opposition members that the Communists will, gain control in this country, let me assure them that the best way to countercommunism is to foster a truly Christian, civilization, providing social justice, and giving to all citizens an opportunity toshare the wealth of the nation. Financial interests should not be permitted to exploit poverty and deny to workingpeople the right to a reasonable living standard. No country should recommend: to others that they do things that that country itself is not prepared to do. That is the real test of honesty in the international field. Australia has carried out faithfully within its own borders all thethings that it has recommended for adoption by other nations. There has been some criticism of our attitude tothe partition of Palestine, but in my opinion the United Nations has drawn, up a plan which is the best that can be devised in the circumstances. It provides for the free entry into Jerusalem of members of both races. Unfortunately^ honorable senators opposite are prepared to make a political football of our high moralities. That is exactly what is being done for strategic purposes in Palestine.
Down the ages, Great Britain has sacrificed much to maintain the Christian civilization and the democratic way of life. It is argued that Great Britain has “ poked its nose “ into the affairs of other nations; but .if we were all isolationists there would be no basis on which international agreements could be made for the improvement of the lot of humanity. Recently, Australia has despatched an expedition to the Antarctic to follow up the work of earlier expeditions. So far, the mission has been successful, and the meteorological information that is being obtained will be of great benefit not only to Australia but also to the rest of the world.
Criticism has been offered by the Opposition because of the failure of the United Nations to make a peace treaty with Japan, but I remind the Senate that the responsibility for this does not lie solely with Australia. This country is prepared to do its part. In fact, at a recent conference in Canberra, certain conditions which were regarded as a reasonable basis for the peace treaty were agreed upon. But Australia is only one member of the United Nations. Moreover, Japan is being rehabilitated, and the delay is not inflicting any hardship upon any one. We have in mind, too, the disastrous results of the peace settlements that followed World War I., when huge reparations were demanded of impoverished nations. When international financiers found that cheap labour was available in those countries they soon exploited the position, because it offered a good investment. During that period, communism reached its greatest strength in this country. Communism breeds in misery and degradation. To-day it has not anything to offer to the people of this country and it will wilt here; and if we were able to convince the leaders of other nations that wealth and health and the right to human dignity should not be the preserve of a small coterie in the community, communism would not survive in any country. We have a freedom of which we are proud and which weintend to maintain. We are confident that there will always be in this country a democratic system of government. Throughout the articles of the Charter of the United Nations, to which we have subscribed, and throughout the document that we are now discussing, can be seen the hall-mark of the labour movement - “ Live and let live “. Force must be only a last resort. We, have an abhorrence of war and the blood sacrifices that it entails. Whatever good has resulted from the various conferences has been achieved, not by representatives having one eye on the interests of combines and the other on those of particular nations, but by delegates acting solely for the good of humanity. We claim to have achieved something which may lead to peace. After Word War I. there were cartels and combines, and international agreements in respect of trade were effected, principally by powerful internal interests operating in all countries dealing with matters vital to international relationships. They entered into agreements without regard for national or international welfare. The Opposition cannot charge this Government with not having done all in its power to prevent such a state of affairs from recurring. When the Government sought to obtain constitutional power by a referendum to control the operations of combines and cartels, those powers were refused by the people. The Bretton Woods and other agreements should assist financial arrangements between signatory nations and prevent international manipulation of monetary affairs which has had such disastrous results in the past. I hold that all international agreements, whether made between private interests or by representatives of governments, should be approved or disallowed by the Government.
In our dealings with other countries we have shown a reasoned approach to the difficulties confronting tribunals dealing with international problems. The statement under discussion shows that much has been accomplished.
Debate (on motion by Senator Nash) adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department -
Civil Aviation -R. S. Choate, F. R. Liebelt, A. J. Sutherland.
Labour and National Service - G. W. Kesson.
Postmaster-General - M. Knight.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 49.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 50.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes-Yalgoo, Western Australia.
Senate adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 April 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1948/19480429_senate_18_196/>.