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Thursday, 16 November 1939

Thu Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, said yesterday that prestige wasa good thing if it meant honest pride, but a bad thing if it meant, vanity or self-love. " Take some question of national prestige," he said. " and put in one scale, and take more than 1,000,000 human lives and years and years of human happiness in the other, and there is no doubtas to which scale must weigh down."

Mr. Menzieswas addressing800 members of women's organizations at a reception by the Women's U.A.P. Club. He was commenting on the view, bo said, some people held that, if the British Empire did not take action, its prestige would bc injured. " Never before in the history of the world has there been such an upsurge of deep, passionate desire for peace," declared the Prime Minister. " It has been said that the only real foundation for permanent peace is complete understanding. That has been the foundation of Mr. Chamberlain's policy, and that is the reason for its success. It has been criticised, but it is a good policy."

The proof of the world's desire for peace, he went on, was that any one of the many incidents that had happened in the past 12 months would 30 years ago, have led to war over-night. "War solves no problems; it creates them," Mr. Menzies said.

The concluding statement of the right honorable gentleman is quite true. It is a fact that war creates problems and does not solve them. If those were the views of the right honorable gentleman at that time, why has he altered them ? If, then, he believed that war could not solve any problems, why is he to-day advocating war as the solution of certain problems?

In the light of the right honorable gentleman's own published statements I feel that I am justified in demanding that every effort should be exercised to bring this stupidity of war to the speediest possible conclusion. The right honorable gentleman in the course of his statement yesterday said -

Our cause is that there shall be justice and a quiet living for the weak as well as for the strong. It is a great and humane cause. It has been the dynamic force in our domestic political growth for centuries.

Hearing such comments, one might imagine that the Australian people enjoyed social justice and were not subjected to misery, degradation and injustice, but an examination of the conditions of many people in this country will show the hollowness of any such claims. The reason why the Government has not been able to obtain the recruits it desired for the various arms of the defence services is clear. The workers of this country are asking themselves what they have to defend. They want to know what the war is about. They are asking whether their participation in it is likely to lead to any improvement of their conditions.

I direct attention now to a report which appeared in the Sydney Morning. Herald recently in relation to malnutrition. I cite the Sydney Morning Herald in preference to a Labour journal because Government members will not then dare to challenge its veracity. The report reads -

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