Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 2 August 1934


Mr MAXWELL (Fawkner) .- I rarely inflict myself upon honorable members; but I find it impossible to retain my seat after such a speech as we have just heard from the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). This, I understand, is supposed to be a deliberative assembly. We are discussing a matter that one would think is capable of simple, commonsense statement. There is no necessity for any heat to be displayed. I sometimes think that men seek to make up in heat what they lack in logic. I always suspect the soundness of position of a man who becomes heated over a matter in regard to which there is no need for heat. 1 have the profoundest respect and admiration for the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), whose selfrestraint on most occasions I greatly admire; consequently, I was astounded at his loss of control while discussing what ought to be a simple matter. We are asked to say whether the sum of £500,000 should be spent in the manner suggested bv the Government. What we have first to ascertain in a matter of this kind is, whether there is any aspect of the question on which there is unanimity. I suggest that there is one thing on which there should be absolute unanimity ; that is, the imperative duty that rests upon every government to see that the country whose affairs it administers is adequately protected against foreign aggression. We ought to know whether there is any mem ber of the committee who believes that there is no necessity for any such defence of Australia. He would be a bold man who would say deliberately that there is no necessity to provide for the defence of this country. Yet, listening to the speaker who "has just resumed his seat, I came to the conclusion that he is one who believes that no such necessity exists to-day. . His' argument seems to be this: We see no sign of danger to Australia from any quarter; there are avenues in Australia along which we can spend our money; there are causes that are crying out for monetary assistance, and so long a3 those causes exist we should not spend a single penny upon defence. If the speech of the honorable member means anything, that is what it means. Let us examine for a moment the argument that there is no necessity for any defence because we cannot indicate the source from which we apprehend that danger will come. I wonder if the honorable member would be ready to apply that argument in the ordinary government of the community; about which he is so much concerned ! We believe, and I hope that he believes, that in this as in every other community it is necessary to maintain law and order. He surely must believe that there are within our own borders members of our community against whom it is necessary to defend ourselves. For the protection of our law-abiding citizens, we find it necessary to establish, for example, a police force. That is a defence force. Would the honorable member say, I wonder, that before we could justify the establishment of a police force we must be able to indicate the members of the community aga'inst whom we think that we may have to protect ourselves ? I have had something to do professionally with enemies of society. There are such persons in every community, and as wise people we have to protect ourselves against them. We establish a police force for purposes, not of aggression, but of ' defence; in other words, the maintenance of order. What is the difference between that and the establishment of a defence force, having regard to the fact that there are enemies abroad? Is there any one so far bereft of sense in this chamber to-night as to suggest that there is no possibility of attack in the future, that there is uo power in the world against which we must protect our community? If there be such a possibility, we must do what is just and reasonable in the interests of our community.


Mr Holloway - Does the honorable member-


Mr MAXWELL - I recognize that as the voice of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway). I am sorry to think that such a thoughtful man, who usually speaks with lucidity and pointedness, should have so lost himself as he did to-night in dealing with this subject. He would not say in so many words that we should not spend money on the defence of Australia; but if I understood him aright, he did say that our best defence should be the development of the intelligence and the character of our people. If that meant anything, it meant that he is prepared to take up the extreme position of non-resistance to evil. He would depend upon character, upon the high standard of conduct of our people. He would depend upon the justness with which the Commonwealth acted. He would have sufficient faith that the Commonwealth would act in such a way as never to court aggression, never to give offence.


Mr Holloway - And always to mind its own business.


Mr MAXWELL - That is so. The honorable member practically admits that that is his position. He says in effect that if we mind our own business, and act justly in all our relations with other nations, there will be no cause of offence, and therefore we will need no defence at all. But surely that is a counsel of perfection if ever there was one ! My friend would evidently go the length of Emerson, who says, " The appearance of character makes the State unnecessary." I believe that if all the members of our own community were men of sterling character who acted according to the highest moral principles there would be no necessity for a police force or anything of that kind. But that is not the condition of affairs in Australia, let alone the world at large. Men are not acting according to the highest moral law.


Mr Holloway - Does the honorable member suggest that Australia is in any danger, or that she is likely to engage in an act of aggression ?


Mr MAXWELL - I only know that it is impossible to foretell the effect of some international move over which we have no control. Something may happen in the world to-morrow regarding which we have no say whatever, and yet it may involve us in war. We cannot get out of that situation with the world as it is to-day. I wish with all my heart that it were otherwise. We all hate war. We are surely at one with that. My friends opposite are constantly suggesting that one of the things which foment and promote war is that men engage in the manufacture of armaments and stand to make profits if war occurs. But is it only the employer who profits in that case? Do not all the workmen engaged in the armament-making industry also stand to profit if war occurs? At any rate they are sure of their work. Why should honorable gentlemen postulate that the employers are the only ones who stand to profit? Of course, the employees also reap an advantage.


Mr Holloway - That does not make wrong right._


Mr MAXWELL - I offer this suggestion to my Labour friends. They believe in the solidarity of labour - in the internationalization of labour-

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the amendment before the Chair.


Mr MAXWELL - We are dealing at the moment with the question whether it it right to remove a proposed vote from the Estimates, and I am replying to the arguments that have been used by honorable gentlemen who wish that course to be adopted. I shall say one sentence in conclusion. The workmen of the world have it in their power to stop war tomorrow if they have the will to do so. Let them go out on a universal and general" strike, and absolutely refuse to put their hands to any piece of work, the object of which is to make the implements of war.







Suggest corrections