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
Wednesday, 25 March 1942

Mr BRENNAN (Batman) .- The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has moved that the papers be printed, and I support that motion because I think that our historical records should be complete; but I think that, even in these days of job-hunting and make-believe - which are volatile characteristics of this time of war - this is still an outstanding example of a small thing being made to look great. I do not know whether there could be any matter at the present time of less importance than the question of whether Mr. Casey shall go from the United States of America or stay there. The occasion is meet for recalling the circumstances and political manoeuvring associated 'with his leaving this country for Washington. He was at that time, as I happen to know very well, suffering from a sense of frustration. The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) had beaten him somewhat handsomely in the race for the Prime Ministership of this country, and Mr. Casey's first reaction was- immediately to rush off to what the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) very properly described as his spiritual home in the United Kingdom to seek some sort of soothing ointment for his wounds. When, in due course, he returned to Australia, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) being, in spite of their differences, a good-natured man when he was able to get everything he wanted, had relented, and immediately made the job at "Washington for Mr. Casey, just as Mr. Bruce had made Mr. Casey's job as liaison officer in the first place. History, therefore, repeated itself. Apparently, Mr. Casey regarded the political position in Australia as being unsettled fmd, from his point of view, unsatisfactory - as, indeed, it was. Mr. Casey was so situated that he never knew when he would get the " order of the boot " from the Australian Government, and it is very natural that he should have jumped on the running-board of Mr. Winston Churchill's train at New York with all the celerity and adroitness of a ticket checker, and bitten that right honorable gentleman's distinguished ear all the way from there to Washington. It is not difficult to know the nature of that conversation. I hasten to add that Mr. Casey and I were quite good friends. Personally, I liked him very much. I can imagine how he addressed Mr. Churchill. He would naturally say: " Well, now, Winston, you know me, don't you? I am the gentleman with the Irish name, but definitely not Irish. I am the bloke that Bruce put into a job in the United Kingdom when he showed how our Public Service Act could be evaded painlessly. Good fellow, Bruce, Winston, good fellow! Now I want you to give me a job; things are tough in Australia. A Labour Government is in power - queer guys, these Labour fellows. The Government seems to be all right, and Caucus at the moment seems to be all right, but you never can tell what might happen. As a matter of fact, a Caucus that would make a

Minister out of Eddie Ward might do anything." We can imagine him continuing in that vein, and going on to say : " Now, Winston, I have got Halifax all right on the Christian side, and I have Hopkins all right on the other side; and the Australian Government - that's easy, if you write a personal letter to Curtin. I know Curtin, and he'll frame it." We can imagine Mr. Casey chuckling, and saying as a parting word when they got nearer the station at Washington, " Tell him when you write to him to appoint Menzies. I should' love to see Bob on the gridiron after the way he treated me."

Some honorable members seem to think that we are living in very amusing times, seeing that they are prepared to laugh at this graphic and exact account of an unimportant event. I repeat that, to me, it is a matter of profound unimportance whether Mr. Casey remains in Washington, or goes to his spiritual home in London. And it is particularly his spiritual home. When I had the honour to represent Australia at Geneva, Mr. Casey was then merely a liaison officer and I was somebody of importance. Now, you see how events have changed. I am of no importance, and he is, apparently, of great importance. However, when he came to Geneva, he wanted to know whether he could be of any assistance to me as leader of the Australian delegation to the League of Nations. I told him, I hope with becoming modesty, that I was thoroughly familiar with all the diplomacy of the 56 nations represented at Geneva, and that I did not want any assistance, so that he could avail himself of his return ticket to London; or, if he felt that the air of Campagna was oppressive, I would frank him to the top of Mont Blanc. Yet he was very nice and polite, and in his own spiritual home I think he will be able to do as much good as Mr. Winston Churchill has been able to accomplish. May I add that, up to the present, that is not a great deal.

Sir Frederick Stewart - It is more than De Valera has been able to do.

Mr BRENNAN - With this exception, that Mr. Churchill has not maintained peace in his own country. Through no fault of mine, ' my fellow countrymen are being slaughtered in my own country, and to me that is a matter of tremendous interest. I think we should concentrate more on that subject of importance and interest to Australia than on the unimportant question of Mr. Casey's unhappiness in Washington - where he suffered grave anxiety as to whether he would get the boot at any time - or of his translation to his spiritual home on the other side of the water.

Suggest corrections