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Thursday, 13 April 1961


Mr KILLEN (Moreton) .- The speech that has just fallen from the lips of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) will surprise nobody. It was, of course, a leftist speech. That is to be expected, because the honorable member's intellect and sympathy are both directed perceptibly and willingly towards the left. He finished his speech by referring fleetingly to the problems of South Africa, having devoted most of his time to what he is pleased to call an analysis of South-East Asia. Having considered what the honorable member has said about South-East Asia, I suggest that one could say quite accurately and quite simply that he has vamped the theme of colonialism. According to him, all the countries of the world that have ever had any interest in South-East Asia have been rotten and corrupt. It is strange to hear this suggestion, which is not, of course, in accord with the facts. If there is one thing that has appalled me during the course of this debate, it is the way in which the facts, the record and the history of events have been trampled upon, disposed of and dismissed and not even acknowledged.

What are the facts about colonialism? Let me give them to the honorable gentleman. Between 1945 and 1960 the Western Powers brought 38 nations to full independence. In the years between 1920 and 1958 the Soviet Union extended its complete control over seventeen countries and in eight regions. This is the colonial record that should be examined by the honorable gentleman.

The amendment that has been proposed by Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is. as ruthless an expression of political cannibalism as I can imagine. The honorable gentleman set out to belittle the record of the Prime Minister. Let me say this to honorable members opposite: When their leader moved this miserable, contemptible little amendment, it was their unworthiest hour. Their battle cry in this debate, as it seems to be in any debate, is, "Anything for a vote ". That is the battle cry of the Labour Party. Few in this century have worked with such a sense of devotion and a sense of understanding, in the interests of the Commonwealth, as has the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I do not believe in indulging unnecessarily in flattery. I believe in supporting the sturdy qualities of candour. However, that is my belief, and even though some may think I am in error, when the eye and the mind of the historian look back on the record, I believe he will come to the conclusion that I have already arrived at. But a fundamental truth, of course, is that great ideas are never understood by those who have little minds.

The Labour Party has said in this debate that the South African policy of apartheid is a non-domestic matter. Very well, concede that argument for the time being. What is the formula by the use of which you can say that one policy is domestic and another policy is not? Am I to understand that the policies pursued by Archbishop Makarios in Cyprus - the leader, sponsor and inspirer of the wretched Eoka movement that killed men, women and children - are a domestic issue? Am I to understand that the policies of the Prime Ministerapparent of an emerging, independent Kenya - Jomo Kenyatta - are domestic? Is there any person in this House or in the fourth estate who can go to his womenfolk and without batting an eye-lid recite the oath of the Mau Mau? Am I to understand that the wretched form of blasphemy of Dr. Nkrumah in Ghana, who during the course of the last election styled himself greater than Jesus Christ, is non-domestic? It offends me.

What of some of the policies of Ceylon and of India? The fact of the matter - and I would hope that the House and the country clearly understand this by now - is that there is no formula devisable to determine what is domestic and what is nondomestic. But in the case of the Commonwealth it has been the settled convention that no discussion upon domestic issues would take place. I am going to summon this evening in support of my contention that the policies of South Africa were domestic, the most violent and consistent opponent of apartheid in the world. I summon, not a person in this Parliament, but Mr. Nehru, whose whole life, history and being have been involved in the detestation of apartheid. This is what Mr. Nehru had to say speaking in the Indian Constituent Assembly on 16th May, 1949 - r am often asked how we can join a Common wealth in which there is racial discrimination, in which there are other things happening to which we object. That, I think, is a fair question, and it is a matter which must necessarily give us some trouble in our thinking. Nevertheless it is a question which does not really arise . . .

This House knows that in the last few yeaTS one of the major questions before the United Nations, at the instance of India, has been the position of Indians in South Africa. One of the pillars of our foreign policy, repeatedly stated, is to fight against racial discrimination, to fight for the freedom of suppressed nationalities. Are you compromising on that issue by remaining in the Commonwealth? We have been fighting on the South African-Indian issue and on other issues even though we have thus far been a Dominion of the Commonwealth.

He continued -

It was a dangerous thing for us to bring that matter within the purview of the Commonwealth, because then the very thing to which you and I object might have taken place. That is, the Commonwealth might have been considered as some kind of a superior body which sometimes acts as a tribunal, or judges, or in a1 sense supervises the activities of its principal nations. That certainly would have meant a diminution in our independence and sovereignty if we had once accepted that principle.

Therefore, we were not prepared and we are not prepared to treat the Commonwealth as such or even to bring disputes between principal nations of the Commonwealth before the Commonwealth body. We may, of course, in a friendly way discuss the matter; that is a different matter.

Now who has turned the somersault? In 1949, when India was admitted to membership of the Commonwealth, Mr. Nehru said that South African policies were not to be taken before the Commonwealth for consideration.

The British Prime Minister has contended that the concept of the Commonwealth has changed. Let that be conceded. He has gone on to describe the Commonwealth as being an association now. He said -

This association must therefore depend not upon the cold concept of common allegiance but on the new principle of common idealism.

The words " common idealism " are the important ones. Let us assume that Mr. Macmillan is completely correct. What is the common idealism? I want to put three questions to the House. First, is that common idealism represented by a common support for parliamentary democracy? The answer plainly is " No ", because some Commonwealth countries do not vaguely parallel our concept of parliamentary democracy, and this, mark you, in some cases after years of effort. Secondly, is the common idealism a common support for the principles of justice, the maintenance of order, the protection of the weak and the discipline of the unruly? That could hardly be the case because contemporary experience simply does not confirm the existence of these qualities in some Commonwealth countries, nor as yet any affection for them.

Thirdly, is the common idealism referred to by Mr. Macmillan as being the core, the heart and soul of the Commonwealth to-day, common support for the onward march of man towards a new dignity, towards fresh and compelling pursuits of human endeavour and towards a lasting and genuine peace? The fact of the matter is that some Commonwealth countries are still manacled by the forces of ignorance, superstition and a solemn stolidity.

Having dismissed the idealism in that way, we ask: What is it? I say plainly that the idealism has gone. The common idealism of the Commonwealth was to be found in a brotherhood which was certainly unique and which strove to give meaning to its belief through a steady practice of tolerance of the weaknesses of its members. The brotherhood sought enlightenment not through resolution, but through persuasiveness. Patience and restraint were its virtues and its plea. You will not find the ambitions of the Commonwealth detailed in minutes. It has been content to let its achievements find a firm place in the chronicles of free men. For good reason the Commonwealth did not lay down the rights and responsibilities of its members, realizing that the integrity of man is never won by the flourish of pen on paper, but only when both mind and heart will it.

The great strength of the Commonwealth hitherto has been found in the fact that it did not resort to rules, preferring to promote, change by encouragement and quiet inducement without caprice and bitterness intervening. Agreement appeared, not by the boisterous winds of argument, but by the steady assuring winds of influence with centuries of respectable tradition behind it. Now the Commonwealth has been swept by the winds of change. Gone is the old sturdy unwillingness to propound a code of ethics, a charter of rights, or canons of conduct. That is gone. Each and every Commonwealth country now has a clear right to bring into debate the actions of any other member.

Many people have watched the changing structure of the British Empire with anxiety and regret. From Empire we passed to British Commonwealth and then to Commonwealth. Now, in the light of the last Prime Ministers' Conference, what do we pass to? There was a time when, in the words of Pitt, we could say that we were one people. " Be one people ", was Pitt's great cry. We no longer have anything approaching a voice in world affairs that has any unity about it at all. One of the supreme follies of this century, apparently not to be conceded by the Labour Party, is that so many people have accepted the view that the instinct for selfgovernment can be claimed in the same way as a chattel under a will. The genius of the British world in history was found in the reluctance of our people to base their policies on mere legalism. Our people established their principles inductively, not deductively. Even so, their behaviour had a strong oneness about it.

From the Balfour Declaration we progressed to the Statute of Westminster and now to the Prime Ministers' Conference of 1961. Sir, I believe that the old concept of the Commonwealth has gone for ever because of the conference. In its present form the Commonwealth is utterly useless. Having passed that judgment on the domestic policies of a member country, the old concept has gone and the significance of it cannot be easily exaggerated. I believe that those who are interested in the heritage of their people must re-think furiously their concept of Commonwealth.

I suggest that a focal point for a new Commonwealth could be a Crown Commonwealth, consisting of countries that accept the Crown as a living part of their parliamentary system. A Crown Commonwealth with a unity founded upon a common allegiance and taking up again some of the old sense of direction, purpose and vigour, could restore to a world threatened with calamity a tranquility that would last. Whatever faults may have possessed the British Empire of old, it did have moral and intellectual qualities not to be denied, and it has profoundly benefited mankind. Everywhere in the world where parliamentary democracy is found, something of those qualities can also be found, and just as it was our forebears who nurtured and cultivated parliamentary democracy, so too did the same breed defend it whenever it was assailed.

It is impossible, to my mind, to examine critically contemporary events without feeling that the world desperately needs a third force that is not only dedicated to the cause of peace and that has a moral resolve but also one that has a vision that has been stimulated and steadied by experience. If this civilization is not to disappear, then some authority must come between the world-wide political design of Moscow and the well-meaning contentiousness of Washington. To look to the United Nations for that authority is to look for fish in the desert sands, for that body now encompasses some nations barely out of the cradle of independence and, unfortunately, some nations utterly incapable of following the natural law.

A Crown Commonwealth could, with high hope for all, undertake the mission I have outlined. Little now separates the world from disaster. The establishment of peace on earth and goodwill towards men is no mean ambition. A Crown Commonwealth would immeasurably enable that end to be gained.







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