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Wednesday, 17 September 1919

Mr J H CATTS - That letter was written in February, 1917.

Mr Maxwell - What is the bearing of this on the Peace. Treaty ?

Mr J H CATTS - The bearing of it is that it disposed of the German Possessions in the Pacific in 1916-17, while we have been told that the matter was arranged at the Peace Conference - that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) went there and effected an arrangement. I am showing that the arrangement was effected in 1917, and that, so far as the Peace Conference is concerned, our delegation had nothing to do with the settlen ent.

Mr Maxwell - The Prime Minister did not say that he arranged with Japan about the islands of the Pacific.

Mr J H CATTS - I wish to give the facts. If the honorable member thinks that this disposition of the islands, and its results, have nothing to do with Australia, all that I can say is that I am of a vastly different opinion.

Mr LAIRD SMITH (DENISON, TASMANIA) - Where did the honorable member get this correspondence?

Mr J H CATTS - From the records produced before the Foreign Relations Committee of the American Senate.

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - Do you think it was in the power of the Australian Delegation to vary the terms?

Mr J H CATTS - President Wilson offered an alternative to which reference will presently be made.

When the negotiations to which I have been referring were in course of completion another arrangement was entered into between Japan and Italy to the same effect. ,

I regard what has been done to China as one of the greatest blots on civilization. As shown by the French correspondence, China was induced to come into this war for the advantage of the Allies, to release 40,000 tons of German shipping for the use of the Allies, China was induced to declare war on Germany. The only reward China received has been her despoliation right and left.

Sir Joseph Cook - What do you mean by " despoiled right and left "?

Mr J H CATTS - I mean that to hand over 36,000,000 defenceless Chinese in the province of Shantung to Japan, for the simple reason that China, being practically unarmed, was not in a position to fight, is a disgraceful blot, on civilization.

Sir Joseph Cook - Was China governing these people before?

Mr.- J.H. CATTS.- That is a very nice little trick question. I know just as much about this matter as the honorable member himself does.

Sir Joseph Cook - A great deal more!

Mr J H CATTS - As a matter of fact, in 1915 Japan, by threat of force, compelled China to enter into an agreement to give up Shantung; and China went to the Peace Conference and told the representatives there that the province was wrung from her by intimidation, which she had no power to resist.

The same thing happened in regard to Roumania. Similar conditions were made to induce that country to come into the war with a secret arrangement re the Banat, but the Peace Conference would not regard the settlement. If Roumania had been in a position to fight, as Japan was, she would have received her pound of flesh. The arrangement with China was made under duress.

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - For whom are you pleading - Roumania, Japan, or whom ?

Mr J H CATTS - I am pleading for justice to an unarmed and defenceless people.

On the 28th January, 1919, the Daily Telegraph, under the heading of " The Pacific Islands," contained the following:

Mr. LloydGeorge had a private talk with the Japanese Peace delegates. It is suggested that he is anxious to appease Japan and accede to her demands in the Pacific. The Japanese are under the impression that the United States favours Australia's demands for the islands. Not only Mr. Lloyd George, but other British statesmen, appear dissatisfied with Mr. Hughes' statements that Australia must have the islands. - Montreal message.

Let us come to those islands, and see what, according to Japan, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) - statesmen on both sides - is the issue involved in their disposition.

In an interview in the Paris Le Matin, on the 2nd February, 1919, the Prime Minister stated Australia's position in the following words: -

The question of these (German) islands means life or death to Australia.

He referred to the whole of them -

The people of France know the importance of such strategical positions. It is our national roof. We want the roof safe as a whole, and not open to the fancies of passers-by, or the aggression of marauders. . . . What the Rhine frontier is to France, what the Monroe doctrine is to America, an equitable settlement of the Islands question is to Australia. The. blood of Australian soldiers has flowed in. great . rivers in order that their country's liberty should be secured. Their most cherished ideals, and their country's political, industrial, and social conditions are here and now at stake.

That is how the Prime Minister, on behalf of Australia, states the issue at stake in the disposition of the Marshalls, the Carolines, the Ladrones, and other German islands.

Mr Sampson - On what authority do you say that the Prime Minister referred to the whole of the islands ?

Mr J H CATTS - The Prime Minister's remarks were as to the whole of them, as the full context clearly shows.

Mr Sampson - Where does he say that?

Mr J H CATTS - The honorable member must have been absent while I have been linking my statement together. The Treasurer (Mr. Watt), in Australia, made a similar statement on the same day.

Mr. GeorgeMarks, who, I suppose, is one of the best authorities in this country on the principles of strategy -

Mr MASSY-GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - Has the honorable member got the Treasurer's statements there?

Mr J H CATTS - I shall give some of his statements presently.

Mr. Marks,in supporting his claim, stated in the Sydney Sim on the 8th February, 1919, as follows: -

The Ladrone, Marshall, and Caroline groups involve our strategic and national safety in the Pacific, and are inevitably linked with Australia's future greatness and expansion.

Mr. Marksput up a strong plea, and quoted a string of historical examples of nations making demands for the control of strategical position=. He showed clearly that the Caroline, Marshall, and Ladrone groups of islands were certainly in that position with regard to Australia. We have thus seen the position from the stand-point of Australia as put by the Prime Minister.

Now let us see what Japan has to say about it. Baron Makino, Who was Japan's leading representative at the Peace Conference, made this statement on 10th February, 1919, in answer to the Prime Minister -

Regarding the Marshall- and Caroline Islands, Japan captured them from German domination.

Japan did nothing of the kind, as I have shown -

They were peopled by uncultivated tribes, and Japan could claim the right to occupy them for peaceful development.

Japan's aim' must be to educate and help the natives. Justice supported the claim by Japan to the islands, and she believed that the islands could be developed to her advantage, and controlled to the greater advantage of the natives by Japan than by any other Power.

Furthermore, the whole of the people in Japan felt that this would be a proper recognition of Japan's work in the Pacific. The Japanese would resent these islands 'being placed under other control as constituting a reflection upon Japan.

The AsahiShimbun, which, translated, means the Japanese News, one of the leading daily newspapers' of Japan, puts the matter a little more plainly in these words -

The Marshalls and Carolines are the big question of the Pacific, which is really a world problem.. involving America, Great Britain, and Japan as supreme Powers in the Pacific Ocean.

The Paris Matin said -

The Japanese programme embodied nine points. 1\ agreed that Australia should take New Guinea, the Samoan question to be decided in agreement with Britain and America, Japan to have the Marshall, Caroline, and Ladrone islands, as well as Tsing-tau and KiaoChau.

Those were the issues that Japan submitted to the Peace Conference for settlement.

On the one hand, there is the statement by the Australian Prime Minister that the' Marshall and Caroline Islands and the other German Possessions in the Pacific meant life or death to Australia.

On the other hand, Japan said that she should have them, not as a matter of life and death to her, but as a reward for her alleged activities in the Pacific.

Mr Sampson - Will the honorable member say where the Prime Minister mentions the Caroline and Marshall Islands in his statement?

Mr J H CATTS - He mentioned the whole of the islands. It is of no use to quibble in that way. Why does not the Prime Minister give the information he is asked for in the House? What is the use of taking up my time by splitting straws in that fashion? The Prime Minister made the statement regarding the whole of the Pacific Islands. There was no limitation. He claims to have asked for the whole of the Pacific Possessions of Germany, although he had bargained them away in 1915, and the answer of Japan was that she would not part with the islands north of the Equator.

Sir Joseph Cook - You began .by saying that the Prime Minister put up no fight, and now you are saying that he did-

Mr J H CATTS - I did not say he did riot put up a fight. What I said was that apparently he gave the islands away in 1915, and then went and kicked up a shindy in Prance in 1919 to mislead tlie people of this country.

President Wilson did not want to see an alteration of the balance of power in the Pacific. He therefore stepped in and proposed the creation of «. buffer State under the control of the League of Nations.

The German Possessions in the Pacific are a small Empire in themselves.

We do not realize the enormous territories surrounding these shores in the Pacific.

There is more .territory in these Pacific Islands than there is in Great Britain, Germany, France, and Italy put together, and there are millions of coloured people living on them.

The Americans are having quite a heap of trouble in. the Philippines and the Hawaiian Islands to-day. In the latter islands there are 106,000 Japanese settled, and they are increasing, with a birth-rate of 45 per thousand.

Mr Corser - Did not you object to any annexations 1

Mr J H CATTS - Yes. Mr. Corser. - Then what .are you mak- ing a fuss about?

Mr J H CATTS - I am making a fuss because this settlement has brought the frontiers of Japan 3,000 miles nearer to Australia. President Wilson suggested an international buffer State in the Pacific. "Let us create," he said, " international control."

Mr Atkinson - But he would not take up his responsibility in it.

Mr J H CATTS - Yes, he would. In a special article in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on the 30th January, 1919, headed, " Secret Treaty," " Britain and

Japan," " Marshall and Carolines," the following statements were made: -

The disclosure of a British-Japanese secret treaty allotting the Marshall and Caroline islands to Japan, has surprised American opinion.

President Wilson intends to submit a counterproposal for the internationalization of all the Pacific colonies.

Britain supports Japan's claims to the Marshall and Caroline islands.

Mr. Hughesattended a meeting of the Supreme Council, at which President Wilson's plan for the internationalization of the German Pacific colonies was discussed.

The Prime Minister, therefore, had the opportunity then. The islands north of the Equator had .been put -practically into the hands of Japan, and the Americans came in and offered the solution of internationalization and the creation of a buffer State.

The Prime Minister cabled to his Government in Melbourne, and Australia was represented in Paris as holding mass indignation meetings throughout the length and breadth of this country, protesting -against this internationalization .and the creation of a buffer State. Any such representation was an entire fabrication.

The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) issued a public statement, and the Prime Minister did iri Paris what he did here in connexion with the conscription campaign. He waved aloft the cables he had received from oversea; in this case from Australia, demanding that the scheme of internationalization should not be proceeded with.

The alternative was that Japan would get the islands north of the Equator, and the Prime Minister would come back " with his basket full of fruit, delivering the goods," as I saw it represented in one of the newspapers. He would bring German New Guinea, . and the Bismarck Archipelago back in his basket.

So this scheme of America for the internationalization of these islands, and the creation of this buffer State, which would have been' a God-send to this country, was turned down.

If honorable members want to "see what internationalization would have meant, and what kind of Government it would have given us, let them look at the Peace Treaty for the control of the Oder and Elbe Rivers in Germany, the navigation of which is put under an International Commission. Article 340 provides -

The Elbe(Labe) shall be placed under the administration of an International Commission, which shall comprise - 4 representatives of the German States bordering on the river; 2 representatives of the Czecho-Slovak State; 1 representative of Great Britain; 1 representative of France; 1 representative of Italy; 1 representative of Belgium.

Whatever be the number of members present, each delegation shall have the right to record a number of votes equal to the number of representatives allotted to it.

If certain of these representatives cannot be appointed at the time of the coming into force of the present Treaty, the decisions of the Commission shall nevertheless be valid.

And Article 341 is -

The Oder (Odra) shall be placed under the administration of an International Commission, which shall comprise - 1 representative of Poland; 3 representatives of Prussia; 1 representative of the Czecho-Slovak State: 1 representative of Great Britain; 1 representative of France; 1 representative of Denmark; 1 representative of Sweden.

If certain of these representatives cannot be appointed at the time of the coming into force of the present Treaty, the decisions of the Commission shall nevertheless be valid.

Such a Commission and form of government for this new buffer State in the Pacific is what was offered to Australia, and the Prime Minister turned it down. In turning it down he did the greatest disservice this country has ever had rendered to it. So far from safeguarding the White Australian policy, it is the longest and most disastrous step towards breaking down that policy that has ever been taken.

Sir Joseph Cook - What you are saying now in effect is that internationalization of the White Australia policy would have been a good thing for us ?

Mr J H CATTS - I did not say anything of the kind.

Sir Joseph Cook - You said it was the best thing that could have happened to Australia to internationalize those islands.

Mr J H CATTS - That is so.

Sir Joseph Cook - The best safeguard of our White Australia policy ?

Mr J H CATTS - I did not say that. Will the honorable member allow me to put it in my own way? I am not now referring to the internal government of this country, but to those external arrangements that would solidify or weaken our fundamental internal economy. I am saying that a buffer State between this country and Japan would have helped to safeguard the White Australia policy. That safeguard was denied us by the refusal of the Prime Minister to accept the creation of that buffer State as proposed by President Wilson.

Sir Joseph Cook - Are you aware of what actually happened over the question of the insertion of these words in the covenant of the League of Nations?

Mr J H CATTS - My honorable friend and his colleague have definitely refused to give us the information.

Sir Joseph Cook - I am talking of something the Prime Minister said in this House the other night.

Mr J H CATTS - What is it?

Sir Joseph Cook - I will find it for the honorable member if he will allow me to quote the exact words afterwards.

Mr J H CATTS - Certainly. My complaint is that we have not got the information. We are compelled to put together the evidence that we gather from different parts of the world, and link up the story ourselves, because there is a deliberate conspiracy on the part of these delegates to keep from the House information which it should have at its disposal:

Mr Burchell - Is the honorable member in order in saying that our Peace delegates have deliberately conspired to keep information from the House?

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