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Thursday, 16 November 1939


Sir CHARLES MARR (Parkes) . - The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has just given us an idea of the policy which he would follow if his party were in control of the treasury bench. In contrast to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) who, in a speech this afternoon, enunciated an indefinite policy, the honorable member for Batman has said definitely that he is in favour of a policy of complete isolation. Listening to these speeches we cannot but remember the Labour party as it was led by Andrew Fisher, who achieved a wonderful election success with the slogan that Australia was behind the Old Country " to the last man and the last shilling ". I have before me some extracts from the speech made in 1936 by the honorable member for Batman on the Naval Estimates. The anti-British policy which he enunciated on that occasion is identical with the anti-British policy which he has enunciated to-night. Any one who is antagonistic to the British Empire at this time has no right inside the British Empire. If a person supports the policy of sovietism let him go to the country that practises it. The honorable member said, in effect, to-night - " I believe in Hitlerism because my isolationist policy will not allow me to raise a hand to smash it". He has no sympathy for the smaller countries of Europe. He is indifferent to the fate of Czechoslovakia, which had developed a political and industrial organization that had won the admiration of Europe. There were no better and freer workers in Europe than the Czechs, before their country was raped by Germany. If the last war did any good - the Lord knows it did a tremendous amount of harm - it restored to the peoples of many countries of Europe the freedom which had been enjoyed by their forebears and which had been filched by aggressors. I am as much concerned at " man's inhumanity to mau " as is the honorable member ; I believe, as he does, that men of all nations should act as brothers to each other. And that is done when we cross the road and lift up the weary traveller and put him on his feet again, not by crying because some wrong has been done and taking no action to rectify it. On the last occasion on which the honorable member for Batman spoke in this strain he said -

I.   am not to bc put oil by the suggestion that I am anti-British, merely because I am anti-ghoulish or anti-high finance, or because I stand for the rights of the common people in this country, Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland, and every other country who have been batoned down, bayoneted, poisoned, and exploited to fill the coffers of these disciples of

Mammon..... Our association with the

British Navy is entirely an evil one.

I deny that. I say that the safety of this country depends upon our association with the British Empire and the protection of the British Navy. The honorable member also said -

Wc have gone into Chinese waters; we have sent our battlecraft there as messengers of illwill..... they have been emissaries of illwill wherever they' have gone.....

I could take him up to the little port of Fau on the Persian Gulf, the people of which thank God for the British Empire and the protection of the British Navy. Three hundred yeans ago the British Navy drove out the pirates that infested those waters and the Shiek of Koweit has hoisted the Union Jack because he knows that under it there is protection for his people. Yet the honorable member for Batman says " Our. association with the British Navy is entirely an evil one ". He went further and said that the Navy in truth could no longer serve any useful purpose so far as Australia is concerned. I would say to the honorable member, to every member of this House and to every person in the country, that our very life depends on the protection of the British Navy. What a vast difference there was between the speech to which we have just listened and the speech recently delivered by the Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand. Mr. Savage said - " This country can exist only while we are part and parcel of the British Empire." T take off my hat to him and say " Thank God there is a. man who has such blood flowing through his veins that he will not, in any political stress, depart from that great sentiment that keeps the British Empire together and recognizes the defence that the Empire demands and deserves." The honorable member for Batman also said -

I know of no more inveterate fallacy than that which is constantly being reiterated ad nauseam, that we in Australia are dependent for our safety on the British Navy.

We should repeat these words in every electorate in Australia; we should let the people of Batman know what their representative in this House has said. I refuse to believe that the people in Batman would endorse a policy of that sort. Why, the world to-day is in the throes of war, and God knows that nobody here wants war, and that nobody here has been the cause of it. When I last spoke I said that the honorable member's attitude reminded me of a family of boys of upwards of 21 years, one of whom said when a burglar entered the family home : " I do not care if you rob father's room, mother's room or my sister's room; you can have what you like if you do not touch my room.-" The honorable gentleman says that we have adopted a "hit and run " policy. His policy is a " run and hide " policy. If there were an attack on this country I have no doubtthat some of my friends opposite would be buried in the Jenolan Caves where the enemy could not get them. The honorable member for Batman also said : " Our policy is the defence of our own territory." I agree that the primary objective of our defence policy should be the protection of this country. I say further that the best protection this country could have, apart from being inside the British Empire, is protection outside its own shores. This country has never yet conscripted a man for service overseas. I pray that if this country be ever attacked the fight in its defence will take place outside its borders and not inside. To what can we look for that defence but to the British Navy and the Royal Air Force? The Minister for the Army (Mr. Street), who has just been relieved of a portion of his former duties as Minister for Defence, did a wonderfully good joh of work in the department over which he had control. It was a bigger job than could be reasonably asked of any man. I am hoping that with the redistribution of work his task may be done a little more efficiently, not because he was inefficient, but because with three Ministers perhaps more time can be devoted to the various services.. We all are able to criticize departments and find fault with their administration. I have done so myself. I have let the Minister for Defence know certain things which to my knowledge were happening because I thought he should know of them. I regard it as thejob of all of us to make our services efficient. The defence of Australia is a task that belongs not only to the military, naval and air forces, but also to every man in the country. In my opinion the scheme of universal training should include the boys and girls at schoolby giving to them physical training which would make them more fit to discharge the obligations of later life. I would force every man to defend this country, either here or overseas. I have never favoured conscription, but I have consistently advocated a system of universal training which would include both employers and employees.


Mr Pollard - With no exemptions.


Sir CHARLES MARR - Except for medical reasons. A man who offers his life for his country risks all that he possesses. My idea of universal training is that the man who possesses wealth has at least as great an obligation' to serve his country as has any man in more humble circumstances.


Mr McHugh - The Government which thehonorable member supports does not think so.


Sir CHARLES MARR - I think that it does. The Government tells us that already in this war more money has been expended than in a similar period during the last war. I could reply to that by saying that in 'the last war more money was expended in one day than in the whole of the Wars of the Roses. I disagree with the Government on some matters. Every person in the community should be allowed to criticize the Government so long as his criticism is constructive and not destructive. Why pull down an existing structure unless we can put something better in its place? I regret that the honorable member for Batman should advocate a policy of isolation. To a greater degree than during the last war,

Canada has declared in no uncertain terms its support of the United Kingdom.I remind the honorable member for Batman of what happened in Canada recently. A French-Canadian Premier advocated a policy of isolation; he was not in favour of Canadians beingcalled up to serve in the Empire forces. Although his Government had more than 60 supporters before the election, it had only about eleven supporters when the result of the election became known. The loyalty of the Australian people is undoubted; the humblest worker may be just as loyal a Britisher and as true to the ideals of the Empire as any one else. I go further, and say that many who are in receipt of the dole are loyal. There should be no need in this country for the accursed dole system. I advocate a comprehensive scheme of development as well as of defence for this country. When the last war ended, we were not prepared for peace; there were not sufficient jobs in civil life into which to fit the men on their return from active service. Even now, we ought to be evolving schemes for the absorption of the men when they return to Australia, should they be required to serve outside this country. It was my privilege and honour to represent Australia at the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1929. I have the happiest recollections of the great statesmen whom I met there. I never met a better Britisher than the black-faced leader of the Indian delegation. He told me that the people of India admired the Australians, but did not understand our White Australia policy which kept them out. We had many talks and later, he said that he agreed that Australia had just as much right to evolve a policy for its development as the people of India had to devise their own policy. He went on to say that India was gradually progressing and in time would become a self- governing dominion of the Empire. In all parts of the Empire, and among all sections of the community, as well as among members of all political parties, there is general unanimity as to theunity of the British Empire; it remains for the honorable member for Batman to advocate an isolationist policy. He spokeof the brutes who went into Scapa Flow, and with a few dirty torpedoes sank the mighty battleship Royal Oak, causing the death of 800 brave men. He deplored such happenings. We all deplore them., as we do the action of the hit-and-run motorist who passes on and leaves his victim lying on the road. We all abhor war; but is that any reason why we in Australia should sit down and say *'* Thank God, we live in an island continent; we are not at war with any one, and even if we are attacked we shall not fight. Come and take us if you like." ? If we were to adopt that attitude, our fate might easily be that which has befallen Czechoslovakia, a country with a bigger population than Australia, and an army greater than Australia is ever likely to have. Indeed, Czechoslovakia had a bigger standing army, in proportion to its size, than any other country. Moreover, it had the second largest armament works in the world, and its workers enjoyed a considerable measure of freedom. Yet its people, who were prepared to fight to defend their privileges, were trampled upon by the monster of Hitlerism. , Mr. Ward. - Mr. Chamberlain agree ! to what happened.


Sir CHARLES MARR - He did not. At the time of the Munich Conference the British Empire was in a weaker condition than ever before. The honorable member knows that that was largely due to the pacifist policy of such idealists as Mr. Arthur Henderson and Mr. Ramsay MacDonald. Their disarmament policy would have been all right if other nations could have been persuaded to adopt similar peaceful methods. Through its leaders the British Empire said that it would show an example to the world. It agreed to lay down its arms, sink some of its battleships, and dismantle some of its munition factories. Finding the British Empire weak Germany began to re-arm. The result was that in Germany an intense nationalism developed under Hitler. If that policy of peace at any price had been continued, Australia, as well as Great Britain, would before this have been under a despotism similar to that which now exists in Czechoslovakia, Austria and Poland. Does our interest in humanity extend no further than the people of our own country? We should be able to set an example to the people of other countries. If our shores are threatened, we should be prepared to defend them here, or in New Zealand, or Canada, or elsewhere, as the occasion demands. Among the leading nations of the world there has for some, time been a belief in a policy of co-operation for the prevention of wars. Probably most honorable members have read a book by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) on that subject. The attacker was to be ostracized. The writer of that book said that it was possible to give effect to decisions of the League of Nations only if the League had sufficient power to enforce them. Australia will be less liable to attack if every healthy person in the community is trained to defend it.







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