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Thursday, 24 September 1936


Senator DEIN (New South Wales) . - I congratulate Senator Abbott upon the eloquence and fervour lie displayed in moving the motion now before the Senate. According to the speeches already delivered on the subject, a majority of honorable senators supports the principle, but some do not approve of the method proposed. No one denies that in order to remove the prejudices, jealousies and animosities which exist today a better understanding between the nations of the world is desirable. The main question involved is whether the adoption of a universal language would be beneficial or detrimental to the world generally. I believe that a universal language would assist to mako the world a far better and happier place than it is to-day. Senator Leckie said that the adoption of a common language would be the means of promoting animosity and that, in time of war, this danger would inevitably be greater than it is to-day. If the nations would agree to the adoption of a common language, the jealousies, prejudices and animosities prevalent to-day would be removed, and the possibility of war reduced. The honorable senator then proceeded to show that pre vious attempts in this direction had always failed; but that should not deter us from advocating something which may eventually benefit the whole world. Mr. Henry Ford said that he regarded failure as nothing more than the stepping-off place for ultimate success. I do not consider that this subject is of such magnitude that the Senate should hesitate to deal with it.

I was very interested in the remarks of Senator Millen, who referred to the dangers that would accrue in India if a universal language were adopted in that country. Although I respect the honorable senator's opinions and ability, his conclusions were purely assumptions. Following upon the British conquest of Canada in 1763, a measure of self-government was provided. Owing to racial differences, the problem of government was exceedingly difficult, and the British Government, in 1791, in its desire to overcome the trouble, passed the Constitution Act, which divided Canada into two sections - the upper and the lower. Each portion was given its own Parliament, with power to make its own laws. Each taught its own language in its schools. In the upper portion English was spoken, and in the southern French was the national language. This resulted in confusion and chaos, and the prejudices, jealousies and animosities mentioned by Senator Leckie increased, because the people did .not understand thoroughly each others' views. Danger could be seen on the horizon, and after about 50 years under that form of government Lord Durham, an eminent English authority, was sent to Canada as Governor. During his term of office he prepared a masterly report on the state of affairs in Canada, in which he informed the British Government that the only way in which to overcome the difficulty would be to remove the two governments and to set up one constituted authority. The Union Act, which was passed in 1840, provided that one parliament should govern both sections. Each was to have equal representation in Parliament. Thi9 constitutional change laid the foundation for a common language. A few years later the Union Parliament even spoke of federation. Later, the

British. North America Act was passed, under which the two portions of Canada, which previously had been in open conflict, were brought together, with. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the one dominion; later Prince Edward Island was added. Who will say that Canada did not speak with one voice in 1914, when the descendants of the French joined with the British in the one army ?


Senator Foll - Two languages are still spoken- in Canada.


Senator DEIN - In 1914 the Dominion of Canada spoke and acted with one voice. That is a practical illustration of what has been achieved, and the Canadian situation should be compared with the difficulties which Senator Millen said would arise in India if a common language were spoken there. Senator Leckie also mentioned Australia. Though this continent is almost as large as Europe, ite people speak -with one voice. We have political differences, but we can appreciate each other's point of view. As an illustration of this, I remind honorable senators that to-morrow we shall probably be asked to vote sums of money to certain States that are alleged to suffer disabilities. If a different language were spoken in each State of the Commonwealth, could we speak with one voice and work as harmoniously as we do at present? We could not. What is done in Australia and Canada would be done all over the world if the nations could be induced to adopt a universal language. National animosities, prejudices, and jealousies would gradually be removed, and with their removal would go the threat of war.

I am glad to know that an overwhelming majority of senators heartily endorse the objective which Senator Abbott seeks to achieve. The question which agitates the minds of honorable senators at the moment is as to what authority a resolution of the Senate should be addressed. Senator Allan MacDonald, in his amendment, suggests that it should, be sent to the League of Nations. The original motion provides that it should be forwarded to His Majesty the King. I see a difficulty in that. If, after receiving a resolution of this Senate, and after consultation with the Imperial Government, His Majesty calls an international conference or a convention to consider the matter, it is quite possible that Germany, Japan, and other nations may refuse to attend such a gathering. If that happened, the prestige of His Majesty the King would, I am afraid, suffer greatly. If, on the other hand, the resolution were sent on to the League of Nations, it could be discussed, not only by the Members of the League, but also by nations at present outside the League. If nations, whether inside or outside the League, refused to attend such a convention, there would be no loss of prestige on the part of the British Government or of His Majesty the King. For that reason, I think that the amendment should be agreed to, and I feel sure that, if the resolution were sent on to the League of Nations, the objective of the move would have much better prospects of success.

Senator Abbottis regarded by some as a dreamer. That, I think, is somewhat flattering, because almost everything worth while in the world has been conceived by people who were regarded as dreamers or visionaries. I do not think that such remarks will discourage Senator Abbott in the least. The honorable senator does not claim that the acceptance of his motion will do immediately everything to which he aspires. Honorable senators are at least unanimous in desiring to promote peace and a better understanding among the nations of the world, and those who are t opposed to the motion have not explained what means they would adopt to bring about such a desirable result. In conclusion, I join with other honorable senators in commending Senator Abbott for the idealism that has actuated him in bringing this motion before the Senate.







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