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Thursday, 14 April 1921


Senator MILLEN (TASMANIA) . - I propose, at a later stage to move, for several reasons, that consideration of this Bill be postponed. In the first place, I think it is time the Senate should take its stand and do everything possible to enforce economy. In the second place, I want the consideration of the Bill postponed until the return of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) from the Imperial Conference, so that he may be able to tell us something about the true position of the. League of Nations. We have just come through a terrible war, the winning of which every one hoped would go a long way towards preventing the recurrence of another war. Right through the whole pages of history one reads of views, and ardent desires, given expression to by philosophers, jurists, lawgivers, and rulers concerning the vital need for amity among the nations of the earth. In our study of Greek history we learn of the amphictyonic councils of Delphi and Thermopylae, gatherings which took the form of semi-religious festivals, and sought to unite .in one partnership for mutual protection the different races which spoke the Hellenic tongue, and upheld Hellenic ideals. Might we not get a good example from those people « to what we should do in these days ? I wish it were possible there could be such an understanding between the Englishspeaking peoples of the world as would prevent all wars in the future. I believe that if America and England could, come together in a rapprochement, and get in amongst the Chinese to put a S.top to the " Japanizing," if I may coin a term, of the Chinese, and instead, Anglicize them so that they would appreciate som.e of our national ideals, a great move would be made towards maintaining the permanent peace of the world.

Passing from the Greets . to the Romans, we are reminded of the Roman ideal, Paz Romana, depending on the annexation, incorporation, and consolidation of those peoples within the Empire. Their ideal stood until the dawn of Christianity. When Christ stood before Pilate He was asked the question, "What is Truth?" and as He refrained from answering, Pilate was surprised. Standing before him dejected and broken down was the central figure of the greatest power-system which history has ever seen. Pilate could not he able to understand the passing of power from the individual to the social integration. In the early days the Papacy claimed to he the centre of the Respublica Christiana for the unity of the people. Owing to its secularization and, at times, to its tyranny,- it brought a protest from Henry IV. of Navarre, who wished to throw off the Papal yoke so that he might bring about Christian unity among the nations; but Ravailac, in .1610, thrust the assassin's blade into his body.

Passing on from those times through the Middle Ages to the rise of modern States, we remember a number of jurists and legislators whose purpose it was to bring about this amity among the nations. Principal among them was Grotius, who, in 1625, published his book, The Law of Peace and War, in which he tried to secure international amity outside of the Christian religion and the Bible. In 1692 William Penn endeavoured to bring together a Diet of the nations of Europe ' for the purpose, it is said, of putting an end to the trade in soldiery, in order to improve education and stimulate the pursuit of industry, science, and art. I do not for a moment suggest that I am a pacifist, but I do say that we want to give this League of Nations, which has come into ;being, a chance. The Treaty of 'Utrecht, in 1713, which put an end to the Spanish war of succession, was an occasion when the Great European Powers thought they had the key to the amity of peoples by means of territorial equilibrium. But having no permanent organization, it was foredoomed to failure. Then followed the Holy Alliance, in 1815, between Francis I. of Austria, and Frederick William II. of Prussia, and Alexander I. of Russia,' called at the instance of, the Czar, who was inspired by the eccentric and' mystic Baroness von Kruldener. But. that came to nothing for the simple reason that it was merely a matter of one ruler wanting to help another. This was exemplified in the case of Austria and Hungary.

I pass now horn ISIS to 1871, when the German States came into being, and from that to 1888, when the ex-Kaiser came to the throne. He spoke of being a good and dutiful ruler, but the next page of history revealed his declaration to the army that it had developed in blood, that it had been born for him, and he for it, and, therefore, it was his duty, to see that, as time went on? it was handed over to his successor more powerful than ever. In 1899, during the Socialist troubles in Germany, he urged the soldiers to take an oath, in which they agreed to slaughter even blood relations at the bidding of the Emperor. This was what Tolstoy described " as the abyss of degradation."

Thus we have the position of militarism defined; and I want to say definitely that if we can get Article VIII. of the Covenant of the League of Nations in effective operation, and do away with this war spirit which hitherto has torn the very soul of the world to tatters, we shall be doing something of the greatest moment for the people of the world. What does the League provide? It provides for two sorts of cases, justiciable or or non- justiciable. In the latter case it is agreed that in the event of disputes amongst nations which they cannot settle they shall submit same to the League. If then one nation member declines to accept the dictation of the League, it will be in the position of having to oppose practically the balance of the League. In other words,it will lose the moral support of all the others. That mighty power of moral support was illustrated in the last war. It led to England's participation in the struggle, and subsequently it brought America in. We must realize that the principal nations of the world are dependent on instantaneous communication and international commerce, and it seems to me that any nation would hesitate to declare war, in the certainty that in the war it would have to depend on its own resources - that in other relations it would be treated as an outsider. It is also impossible to imagine that in the struggle for supremacy, rivalry among the monarchs of Europe will ever againplay a part; but we should realize that, if war comes again, it will tear the very soul out of the nations.

It is in the hope that we may be able to fulfil the ideal of the League of Nations that I ask that consideration of this measure be postponed until the Prime Minister shall have returned and informed us of the position in relation to the League. In reference to the second fundamental point, in regard to the reduction of armaments, we should await his report. Then, if we can do away with the need for spending vast sums upon armaments upon munitions, upon warships, and the like, we shall be able to expend more in the furtherance of the arts of peace. When the Great War came about the people of Germany were prepared for it as an outcome of the crushing burden of taxation. If all people and nations endeavour to bring to perfection their armaments and military organization, then I do not care whether there be a League of Nations or any other league, it will be impossible to prevent further war. At present the people of the world are aspiring to what the League of Nations connotes. They are in travail with the birth of a new era, and there is a grave possibility that we shall have passed from a Democracy to a military autocracy. We must guard against that peril, and, as a member of the League of Nations, do all that may be possible to uphold the hands of the League, and try to bring forward a scheme which will do away with armaments. I appreciate what Senator Elliott said, namely, that we can continue to keep the skeleton of our military arrangements. But, pending that day when we shall know what the League is going to do, and what the economic position is to be - when the Prime Minister shall have returned and informed us- I move, by way of amendment -

That all the words after the word "That" he left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " further proceedings on the Air Defence Bill be postponed until the return of the Prime Minister from the Imperial Conference."







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