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Wednesday, 27 February 1952


Mr CASEY (La Trobe) (Minister for External Affairs) . - in reply - Since I first entered this House more than twenty years ago, I cannot remember, during any debate on a matter of high national importance, having listened to such irresponsible speeches as have been made by a large number of honorable members opposite. One can understand speeches of irresponsibility and lack of realism on smaller matters, but I do not suppose that this House has considered for some considerable time a matter of such national importance for the present and the future as the Japanese peace treaty. It has been a grievous disappointment to myself and other members of the Government, and I am sure to most of the honorable members in this House, to hear speeches of that kind from some members of the Opposition. Not all honorable members opposite spoke in that strain. Indeed there were two or three speeches from honorable members on the back benches on the Opposition side that I thought were admirable analyses of the general situation in Asia, but they were the exceptions. It was a most grievous disappointment to me that the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and almost all his colleagues were deliberate attempts, because1 I cannot believe that their remarks were actuated by ignorance, to mislead the Australian public on the true situation.

I have made two long and considered statements in this House about the Japanese peace treaty. The first waa made six months ago, when the treaty was signed, and the other was made on the day that we received the melancholy news of the King's death. Those speeches have .been made available in printed form to all honorable members of the House. In a wholly non-party political way I sought to analyse this treaty as objectively as I thought it was possible to do. I mentioned with complete frankness the fears that have obsessed a good many of us on both sides of the House. I could have cast my statements in ยป wholly different way had I wished to do so, but I did not believe that any fairminded person who had no party political bias could have come to any other reasonable conclusion than that this Japanese peace treaty is in the best interests of Australia.

I shall not repeat the many arguments that I attempted to traverse on those two previous occasions, except on two or three matters which may properly he referred to in such a speech as this is. Is first apologize for mentioning again matters that should be completely obvious, but which apparently are not obvious. I remind the Opposition that Japan to-day is unarmed and defenceless and that its economy has been ravaged. If Japanremains in that state it will become au easy prey to Chinese and/or Russian com.munism. That is something devoutly to be avoided, because unless the Japanese economy and the ability of the Japanese to defend themselves are restored, in reasonable and progressive measure, Japan will fall to communism from internal or external sources. This peace treaty will determine largely the future of Japan and the idealogical camp into which the Japan of the future, possibly of the quite near future, will fall. There are only two courses. In the future, Japan will either come down on the democratic side or on the Communist side. I submit that, by reason of this treaty, which I do not propose to analyse again in detail because that has already been done almost ad nauseam, the probability is that Japan will come down on the democratic side. I do not make that statement in any dogmatic way. I have never put the matter other than in terms of probalilities. The probability is that, owing to the terms of this treaty, which I consider to be a far-sighted one, Japan will come down on the democratic side. If a harsh treaty were imposed upon Japan, I should say with certainty that, within a given number of years, not necessarily very many, the Japanese would be absorbed into the Communist camp. The danger at present is, not that Japan will become too strong too quickly, but that it will remain too weak for too long.

Honorable gentlemen opposite have asked whether this treaty will guarantee the future. Of course it will not do so. Throughout the course of history, peace treaties have never guaranteed the future. It is clear that honorable gentleman opposite have learned nothing from the result of the peace treaty that was concluded at the end of World War I. The point that I wish to make is that a harsh treaty, which sought to keep Japan down both economically and militarily, would leave that country defenceless and weak, and in an emergency Japan would have to be defended by the democracies, if it were to be defended at all. Such a treaty would give rise to emnity and hate in the breasts of the vast majority of the Japanese people. Those of us who know only a little history realize that the terms of a peace treaty will not be observed for any length of time unless the vanquished country is occupied by force. Which of the democracies would occupy Japan by force ? The Americans have done so for the last five or six years, with great generosity and world spirit. They have expended themselves upon Japan, and have made vast efforts there. Incidentally, I did not hear from honorable gentlemen opposite a single word of recognition of anything that our great American friends have done in that respect. The members of the Opposition exhibited the very reverse of generosity in the references that they made to the United States of America. That is opposed to the Australian national interest. I hope that it will never be possible to say with truth that the Opposition is anti- American, because that would be a tragedy for Australia.

Which is the more dangerous menace that confronts the democracies at present? Is it Japan, or is it communism? I suggest to the members of the Opposition that, in some respects, they are very like the country which, it was once said, was always perfectly prepared for " the last war ". The Opposition is speaking of " the next war " in terms solely of " the last war ". Thinking of that kind has caused the downfall of many countries in the past. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), with the greatest possible economy of words,, expressed the object of the foreign policy of any country. He said that it was to keep the country out of war, or, if by evil chance war came, to ensure that the country should enter the war with the aid of as many and as strong friends as possible, This treaty is designed for that, purpose. The word " survival " lias been used occasionally, rather lightly. In no other period of so-called peace in our history have we been required to remind ourselves so much of the reality of the word " survival " so far as Australia is con cerned. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) delivered a speech of great intensity and truth, in which he brought the members of the Opposition up against some of the stark facts of the international position.


Mr Ward - It was a lot of rot.


Mr CASEY - I was afraid that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and his friends would say that that was so, and would try to persuade the people of Australia to believe them. We are either at the beginning, in the middle, or coming to the end - I do not know which. - of a period in which we are fighting for our survival. We are engaged in what is now called a cold war. I do not know when a cold war becomes luke-warm or hot. Our survival as a free British country is at stake. 1 am talking in terms not of a generation to come but of the immediate future. Even if the worst were to happen and if there were a tremendous revival of militarism in Japan, that country could not he a menace to us for a considerable period of years. The menace is on our doorstep now. I wonder how much thought and attention honorable members opposite give to these matters. I do not know how often they bring out their maps of South-East Asia and of Asia generally. I look at those maps almost every day of my life. I am continually reading telegrams about Asia. The news from six areas in South-East Asia is becoming progressively worse, every week.


Mr Curtin - Anthony Eden did not say that.


Mr CASEY - I do not want to pursue the matter. There is no point in attempting to make the flesh of honorable members creep. I am trying to make the point that the potential enemy is international communism, and that it is a hundred times more important to us than Japan can be during the next decade. Any one who tries to induce the Australian people to believe that Japan is a potential enemy is, if I may say so with respect, misleading the Australian people.







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