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Friday, 6 March 1942
Page: 270

If Britain wishes to remain a groat power, she must fully realize that changed conditions in the Far East require a complete alteration of her attitude to India, and China.

Making this forthright declaration to-day TheTimes adds that the fall of Singapore, seen in theperspective of history, may appear the greatest blow that has ever befallen the British Empire since the loss of the American colonies. "It is in one sense equally irretrievable", it adds.

British dominion in the Far East cannot be restored- nor will there be any desire for its restoration in its former guise. " But defeat may serve, as did the American defeat, as a. starting point of a fresh advance, and by adapting herself to changes and needs, Britain may again become a pioneer of new policies and new outlook. "Noother alternative is open if Britain wishes to remain a great power. She mast offer the world of the twentieth century something,the world needs. " The spirit and machinery of British colonial administration in more than one continent has been staggeringlychallenged, which can only be met by a searching self-examination and far-reaching reform ". 1, too, ask that a searching examination be made of the position so that the affairs of the Empire may be placed upon a sounder foundation. In Burma, the Premier, U. Saw, was interned some time ago, and the Burmese natives in many country districts have, according to despatches from the American volunteer air group in south-west China, revolted and killed unarmed Britishers. The Burmese are assisting the Japanese inevery possible way, and the British are evacuating all large towns, including Mandalay. Contrast thatwith what is happening in the Philippines, where the Filipinos are fighting side by side with General Macarthur's army. They are doing this because the Americans adopted a generous policy towards them, and gave them self-government. Indeed, in another two years they would have enjoyed complete independence. They are fighting now because they know that their own freedom, and the independence of their country, are at stake. The Federated Malay States are no longer British territory ; Shanghai, Hong Kong , and Singapore have gone one by one. Canada is rent over the conscription issue, and in Australia, according to the statement of an American pressman who travelled on the train between Melbourne and Canberra with members of the Cabinet, there exists the same atmosphere as was to be found in France before the fall of that country, and in Singapore before its recent capture by the enemy. There is a sense of mass frustration throughout the country. Every day people come to me in my office in the city, employees and employers alike, asking to be allowed to serve in some way. Many of them do not want payment; they want only to assist in the war effort. So far, the effort has been dominated by vested interests and red tape. The vested interests, which control the manufacture of armaments, are beginning to realize that they may have dug their own graves. Unfortunately, they may have dug ours also. It only remains for officialdom to swathe us in red tape, and we shallbe ready for interment. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) has dispensed with the services of a number of the senior officers of the Army. That is a step in the right direction, because we need leaders with youth and vigour. However, it is not enough to make scapegoats of Army leaders, many of whom have done a very good job at home and abroad. The present critical position is not attributable to their lack of effort or fighting qualities. They have been " let down " on the production side. When I make that statement, I do not blame the workers, because they have been only too anxious to assist the war effort in every way. When they established production committees in an endeavour to increase production, their efforts were frustrated by those in control. On a number of occasions, I have referred to certain sinister influences which have been at work, particularly in the aircraft industry. The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) has admitted that selfish influences, with an un-Australian outlook, have delayed the production of aircraft in this country. After the outbreak of war, the production of aluminium in Australia was unsatisfactory, and I discovered that the local organization was associated with Industrial Gesellschaft of Germany. The records of the Registrar-General in Sydney contain that evidence. Other influences at work in the manufacture of machine tools have had a vital effect in holding up production. These matters should he dealt with in the manner suggested by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear). Parliament should discuss the subject of munitions production at a secret meeting because, to date, we have not had an opportunity to do so. In the past at secret meetings, Ministers have read long statements describing the progress that has been made in the munitions industry. Those statements looked very well on paper, but in the final analysis it is the practical application that counts. Any one who has studied industry as closely as I have will be convinced that many matters require the attention of the Government. Boards, directors and executives have been appointed to control various phases of the war effort, but the paramount consideration, which is production, has been left untouched. So far as I can ascertain, no person has been appointed for the purpose of launching a production drive in industry. That is a grave oversight. True, the Government has appointed a retired librarian, who spent 50 years among books, to organize certain phases of the war effort, but althoughhe may be a worthy man in many respects, I doubt whether he is capable of accelerating the output of munitions. If the Government discovers that our progress is being retarded by lack of technicians and machinery, we should post-haste emulate the example of the Soviet Union. When Russia was broken and disorganized as a result of civil war, the newly-established Soviet Government sent an economic mission to the United States of America and obtained the services of 100,000 technicians and highly-skilled executives. That wise policy enabled Russia to establish the industries which have played such a tremendous part in its present war effort. If Australia lacks technicians and machinery, the Commonwealth Government should immediately despatch an economic mission to the United States of America in order to remedy the position. If we can supply an army with adequate air strength, we shall smash any invasion fleet. The few soldiers who might succeed in landing wall be swept aside by our tommy-gun fire, or disposed of by guerillas organized by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) and others with similar plans. Instead of trying to stifle criticism, we should act on the biblical injunction -

First cast out the beam out of thine own eye and then shall thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

I quote the following article by John Gordon, editor of the Sunday Express London : -







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