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Tuesday, 16 December 1941


Mr HUTCHINSON (Deakin) .- The speech of the honorable member for. Batman (Mr. Brennan) reminds me of a once-famous remark which was attributed to a British Cabinet Minister some years ago. Asked what was wrong with democracy, he replied, " Nothing but the democrats ". No doubt exists in my mind that much of the trouble which the world is. now undergoing is due to the moralists and philosophers, who have preached a creed divorced from all reality. True, certain totalitarian leaders began this war for conquest, for acquisition, and, if we accept the statement of the honorable member for Batman, for a certain form of culture, which the German mind in particular nearly always envisages. But a culture unsupported by strength is invariably doomed. That has been the history of every great nation in the past. Unless we democrats are prepared to back up our form of government with strength, we are doomed.

The whole of the trouble lies in the fact that for some years too much attention has been paid to the statements of moralists and philosophers. When we were talking of a new world order to be achieved through an international assembly, the practical men of certain countries were laughing at us. They faced stern, cold facts. They knew that the human being was not yet an angel, and that no matter how great the culture of a nation might be, it would fall and vanish if it were not supported by strength. Long before the outbreak of this war, we were told what Germany was doing, and of its ultimate aim regarding a totalitarian war. Books by Ludendorff and others explained their conception of a totalitarian war, in which the whole of the resources of the country including manpower, transport,, industry and the economic system, would be subordinated to the main theme of ultimate victory. Every phase of national activity and sentiment had to be subordinate to the military plan for winning, a totalitarian war. There is no doubt in my mind that democratic countries, by foolishly failing to heed what was happening in totalitarian countries, contributed to this world catastrophe. Undoubtedly, the failure of democratic countries^ particularly the United States of. America; to face realities,, has Been a contributory factor to the entry of Japan into the warHonorable members should cast their minds back to the first four or five months of the war. In that period, the United States of America,, reduced the strength of its army. Only a few weeks ago, Congress passed legislation of great national importance by a mere thirteen votes. Isolationists - we have them in

Australia, too - preached a doctrine of keep out of the struggle ".


Mr Archie Cameron - We still have them.


Mr HUTCHINSON - Yes, unfortunately. Isolationism, over-confidence and the under-estimation of the power of the enemy have given people in the United States of America a rude shock during the last few days. Surely the lessons which they have learned have been driven into the hearts and minds of the people of Australia ! There should be no resort to debate in the Parliament of the Commonwealth on any subject other than measures that mean action against the foe. The honorable member for Batman described this as a " great occasion ". It is more than that. It is a most fateful occasion. Although we have participated in two world wars, this is the first time that it can be truthfully said that Australia is right in the firing line, and that a near power is menacing the lives and security of Australians. This is the first time that men have been engaged in our capital cities in digging trenches by clay and possibly by night as they dug them in Hyde Park, London, in 1938. To expound moral ideals and philosophies which will not reduce the threat to this country is merely to waste time.

Every honorable member on this side of the chamber is anxious to assist the Government in these days of peril. But I was disappointed to-day when I heard of the steps which the Government contemplates to meet that peril, because it demonstrated to me that complacency still exists in high places, that the strength of the enemy is still underestimated, and that a proper recognition is still lacking of what a democracy must do in order to defeat the foe. Australians must "snap out of it". Other great civilizations have vanished, and our civilization may also perish unless we protect our culture and our democratic system by every force at our disposal. This period of crisis is no time for recriminations such as the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) vented. If that is an example of the speechifying which will be bandied from one side of the chamber to the other, honorable members on this side could doubtless say many hard things. But in the face of a near foe who possesses a great navy, a powerful army and, unfortunately, a better air force than we anticipated, I should think that the first thing to ensure in the Parliament as in the country is the greatest degree of unity. That means, in plain words, a national government. Political parties in Great Britain united to form a national government when across 20 miles of water, Hitler menaced the security of the heart of the Empire. Is anything wrong with a national government? Is it wrong to set to the public such a splendid example by bringing in to the war effort the best brains in the Parliament, and achieving unity? That ideal has been very dear to members of the United Australia party and the United Country party. A short time ago, the previous Government invited the then Leader of the Opposition to accept the Prime Ministership if ho so desired, provided he would consent to participate in a national government. At the last federal elections, the formation of a national government was one of the foremost planks of policy of the United Australia party and the United Country party. I hope that I do not mis-state the position when I say that it was also the first plank of the platform of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles). I should like to know what he thinks of the present situation.

Naturally, I appreciate the difficulties of the Government; unfortunately there are powerful influences at work behind the Labour party. But surely a Supreme War Council is the next best thing to a national government. Such a body, if composed of the best abilities in this Parliament, could best direct our war effort, and would provide a rallying point for our people. No section of the community would fear or mistrust it. I sincerely hope that it is not yet too late to set up such a body.

The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) advocated the establishment of an Australian zone of defence in which military service should be made compulsory. Honorable members know that I believe in conscription. As the interests of all are involved in this fight, all should serve in it. In the words of Nelson, "Every man this day shall do his duty". Until we can plan and command to tlie same degree as the dictators, we shall not set ourselves on the road to victory. I realize, however, .that people who have not even yet awakened to the urgency of our present situation may oppose any suggestion of compulsory service beyond our shores. At the same time, the demarcation of a zone of defence in which military service would be made compulsory is absolutely necessary in order to enable us to defend this country effectively. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), in his speech to-day, said, " The attack on Singapore constitutes a. direct attack on Australia". The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), in his most contradictory speech to-night, declared, "If Singapore is menaced and lost, then that loss is a menace to Australia ". Since the outbreak of the war, honorable members opposite have made much progress in their views on the defence of this country. In the early days of this conflict, they declared that no Australian soldier should be sent outside the 3-mile limit, not even to New Guinea or Thursday Island. Their policy was to confine our defence operations to the shores of this country, or at least within the 3-mile limit. They have made a great deal of progress since that time, but, unfortunately, not sufficient. If Singapore or any area in the Pacific is vital to the security of Australia, as no doubt Singapore is, is it not the duty of every Australian to defend such areas at the call of his Government? Will any honorable member deny that Singapore is our northern door, and should the enemy break through that door, the security and welfare of the Australian people are menaced? If that be so. is it not the duty of the Government of this country to command Australians at any time to safeguard that northern door? The proposal of the Leader of the Opposition will be applauded by every Austraiian. The Government should adopt it. There can be no argument about it.

All of us realize that if Singapore falls, we shall be placed in a most difficult situation, and shall then need the trenches which are now being dug in the parks of Sydney. Surely we shall not allow that to happen. I believe that we have sufficient common sense to ensure that that bastion of the Empire shall not fall. That would be as far as we need go at the moment, because under present conditions I cannot visualize sending thousands of our troops outside what might be called Australia's defence zone. "We know that the balance of man-power has altered very considerably as the result of the entry of the United States of America into the war, and the declaration of that country that every man called to the colours will serve at the command of his government in any part of the world. This development will enable us, if necessary, to release increasing numbers of the Australian Imperial Force for action in any other theatre of war. It will also ensure sufficient man-power for the defence of Malaya and Singapore or any other vulnerable area within our defence zone. I again urge the Government to consider the establishment of an Australian zone of defence.

I shall now deal with the role played by aircraft in the war. It seems strange that in a number of instances the value of aircraft in actual combat has been under estimated. Apparently, many people are still of the opinion that the role to be played by aircraft in this war is the same as it played in the last war. namely, for reconnaissance work and bombing raids. Although I speak as a layman I feel certain that apart from those operations which will always be assigned to aircraft, its most important role in this war will be that of modern artillery. It has been used in that way by Hitler, who, in some respects, is like Napoleon. He believes in speed in action, and the value of artillery. We know that every German mechanized division is complete with aircraft. It consists of medium, light and heavy tanks, infantry, cyclists and field pieces, but it is not complete without its quota of modern aerial artillery which does not fire from miles behind the lines but goes right over its target and strikes with deadly result. We must follow Hitler's example in this matter. A modern torpedocarrying aeroplane is rauch more useful than a submarine. When we realize fully the value of aircraft, we shall not hesitate to ensure that in all of our operations sufficient aircraft are provided. By that means we shall pave the way to victory.

I now propose to estimate what this war means to Australia. It means more to this nation than any other nation. We have a young undeveloped country, with a very small population. I have had the privilege of seeing much of tha world. I travelled extensively through the United States of America, and iti doing so I was convinced that Australia is a marvellous country. As I journeyed through California and saw thriving areas which had been converted practically from desert, I envisaged the possibilities of this vast country. Australians have a wonderful heritage. Our standard of living is unsurpassed in any other part of the world; and every Australian without exception subscribes to the White Australia policy- Let us suppose that Britain, and even the United States of America falls, and that France remains as it is. I feel sure that those nations will always remain much the same as they are at present because they are very thickly populated. However, should wc lose the war we shall lose our White Australia policy, and within a short period numbers of yellow people, with whom we have nothing in common, will flow into this country. Our defeat will mean that eventually the control of Australia by the white race will vanish. That prospect cannot be too strongly stressed. We must make our people realize that we have more to lose than any other country should we be defeated. Australia would never be the same again. We should never be given an opportunity as was given to Germany to rise again, and turn the tables on our victors. We should be overwhelmed by the coloured races. If the people of Australia realize that possibility surely the time bas come to take action in every direction in which we think we can strengthen our defence. Let us remember Churchill's words, " Come, then, let us to the task, to the battle and the toil. There is not a week, a day or an hour to be lost ".







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