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Friday, 6 March 1942


Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) (Minister for the Navy and Minister for Munitions) . - The paramount thing in these times is surely the maintenance of public morale. Any expression that is likely to impair the solidarity and morale of the people weakens the national effort for the protection and the security of this country. The debate of the last two days has introduced many elements which do not render to this country the service expected from the occupants of public positions. Any sug gestion that there is fundamental weakness in our attitude as a constituent member of the British Commonwealth or in our internal circumstances saps the strength that this country should be able to put forth in order to prevent trespass upon our soil. If ever there were a time when the Australian people needed unity that time is this moment, but I am afraid that some of the statements that have been made tend to destroy instead of create unity. The honorable member for Richmond' (Mr. Anthony) has striven hard to fasten on to this Government a suggestion that it is not wholeheartedly in the war with Great Britain.


Mr Anthony - No!


Mr MAKIN - The honorable gentleman may seek to excuse himself, as he certainly will, but I say that, in spite of all the protestations and all the expressions with which he concluded his speech, he was desperately trying to make out a case against the Government and charge it with having made statements which might in some way be interpreted as containing a sinister suggestion against the interests of the United Kingdom and its war effort. I say most emphatically to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes), who shows an inclination to interject, and all other honorable gentlemen opposite that thi? Government will not place its loyalty second to theirs or that of any one else. We have from the moment we took control of the treasury bench been 100 per cent, sincere in both action and desire to assist the Mother Country in every way possible. Furthermore, in all the close associations and consultations that have taken place we have sought so to dispose ourselves as to co-ordinate and synchronize our war effort with the whole of the effort that the great British people are putting into this fight. The sinister, vague and veiled suggestions made by members of the Opposition that there are limits to the loyalty of this? Government to the British Commonwealth of Nations and, particularly, to the Homeland itself, the United Kingdom., I deprecate with all the strength of mind, soul and heart that I possess. So does every other member of the Government. Prominent in the minds of honorable gentlemen opposite is the wrong conviction that they have a royal prerogative to occupancy of the treasury bench. They are upset to-day because they have been deprived of the prestige, social and otherwise, that would have come to them if they had been able to continue in power. But they are in for a long spell in Opposition. The attitude that they now adopt will not strengthen the feelings of the people either towards them or cowards the cause that they espouse. Their attitude is in distinct contrast to that shown by the Labour party when it occupied the Opposition benches. The records of this House prove how helpful were members of the Labour party in their efforts when the parties opposite held office. By pursuing their present course honorable gentlemen opposite are rendering a distinct disservice to Australia. If Opposition members think that they have matters which should be brought to the notice of the Government they should choose another occasion and should adopt a different approach.

There is another important matter to which I shall refer. Whilst we recognize our fidelity and allegiance to the United Kingdom, and whilst we acknowledge our responsibility to cooperate with other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations in all that can be done for the defence of democracy, we should not be unmindfall of the assistance that has been given no us, and other assistance that is promised to us, by the great Englishspeaking people of the United States of America. We should take care that no words of ours cast any reflection upon the efforts that are being made by all of die united nations to improve our common defence and our general relations. Statements made in this House recently suggest that an effort has been made by the Government to oast some slights upon our relations with the people of Great' Britain. I deny that this is so. We do not slight any people who are giving us such substantial help to improve our security. I deprecate the suggestions of honorable members opposite that our relations with the United Kingdom are not cordial; or that they are in any way adversely affected by our attitude towards the people of the great ifpublic 'of the- United States of America.

We may have, and express, a warmhearted cordiality towards the people of the United States of America and, at the same time, emphasize our cordial relations with the United Kingdom. Surely it is not only possible, but proper, for us to express at the same time our strong desire for a good understanding with the peoples of both countries. By so deporting ourselves as to indicate our desire for the most cordial relations to continue between the people of Australia and those of the United Kingdom and the United States of America we shall be serving the best interests of our country in these days of national stress and emergency.

If the high standard set for this debate by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), when he made his statement to the House, with the realism that is* characteristic of him, had been continued by other honorable gentlemen who have participated in the debate, great good might have been done. As it is, certain unfortunate statements have been made during the debate, which may impair our national effort. As a member of the Government I deprecate, with all the emphasis at my command, the gibes that have been made by the Opposition concerning the allegedly cool attitude of this Government towards the Government of the United Kingdom. Such gibes cannot he substantiated. In every way possible we are associating ourselves with the efforts of the Government of the United Kingdom, and by the coordination of effort and services are giving every help that this country can give at this time to the total war effort. In that way we shall best prove ourselves to he worthy of membership in the British Commonwealth of Nations.


Mr Prowse - Surely the Minister does not suggest that his statement represents the true view of the Opposition.


Mr MAKIN - An attempt has been made to show that the Government, by some specious means, is trying to weaken the ties that bind our people to the people of Great Britain. If that be the desire and design of certain honorable members opposite, their words have been both futile and unworthy. It is therefore just as well that we should unmask what must- seem to many people to be the true intention of such honorable gentlemen, namely, to try to gain some cheap political advantage for themselves and to discredit this Government so that they may regain occupancy of the treasury bench. They should remember that by discrediting this Government they discredit the nation and do a distinct disservice to it at this time of national emergency. I hope, therefore, that in the future honorable gentlemen opposite who discuss these subjects, will do so with greater caution and with at least some of the discipline of mind that is demanded in these days, so that they may do greater justice to the issues at stake and indicate more accurately the true relations of this country to the people of the other united nations.







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