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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) .- -I move-

That tbe Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 12 o'clock to-morrow.

I have bad from the elected representatives of Ireland under the leadership of Mr. de Valera a communication, & copy of which, I presume, every honorable senator has received.

Senator Henderson - I have not received a copy.

Senator Cox - Nor have I.

Senator LYNCH - Several honorable senators, including members of the Government, have told me that a copy of the communication has been received by them.

Senator Earle - I have had a copy.

Senator de Largie - Copies have been sent to all honorable senators.

Senator LYNCH - The purpose of this memorandum, sent to us by the elected representatives of Ireland, is plainly to seek from this country, which is described in it as a foreign nation,

Borne form of sympathy. I take this action to-day to avoid the awful and unthinkable contingency of this country ever being regarded as a nation foreign to Ireland, and with the desire that Australia shall be looked upon, not as a foreign, but as a sister, nation of Ireland.

This is the fourth occasion on which I have interested myself in this question. It is necessary for me to mention that fact, because I, unfortunately, find myself, at the present time at least, out of harmony with those who think differently from me as to what Ireland's policy should be I would remind those people that whenever Ireland has looked in this country for a mouthpiece and sponsor she has always found me, as she has a right to do, at my post, whether it has been as a humble wayfarer in the State from which you come, Mr. President, as a public representative of the people, or as a Minister of the Crown. I have never flagged in my fidelity to my native land in. those successive vicissitudes, and in the policy that I havo advocated from the earliest days of my youth.

Senator Bakhap - Nor has the honorable senator flagged in his loyalty to the Empire.

Senator LYNCH - I hope not. I allude to this fact, because, us some honorable senators will remember, when occasion arose to find in this Parliament Irishmen who were prepared to speak, as they should have been, there were some who recoiled into obscurity or indifference rather than take the part that I was prepared to take. In my representative capacity I have stood forward as I do now at a time when, as members of this Senate wild bear witness, it was difficult to find men who were ready to do bo in the cause of Ireland, and I feel therefore that I am entitled now to raise my humble voice for what it is worth in the cause of Ireland's welfare. I should, of course, feel hurt to think that I am not idolized to-day by many of my fellow countrymen ; but when I recall the experience of that faithful champion of Ireland, John Dillon, who, as a result of his association with his leader and chief, Parnell, brought the Ireland of my memory from almost a state of destitution and rags to a comparatively high state of opulence, and who, majestic figure in history, after nearly forty years of fight, was turned down in his declining years, I feel that I have no right to complain.

I am seeking for a settlement of this question on the lines proposed by the Prime Minister of South Africa, General Smuts, and I say, advisedly, as I have said repeatedly, that if it is not settled the probability, nay the certainty, is that it will settle the Empire. As the book of human experience teaches us, smaller causes have produced even greater results. This question can be approached from three stand-points, and I propose, on the present occasion, to stress one feature of it that has not bulked largely, either in Home circles or in this country. I will refer particularly to the interests of Australia in this matter. This is a subject of threefold significance, and it can be approached from the point of view of the Empire, of Ireland, and of Australia. I have stated already what I conceive to be the best, safest, and fairest adjustment of the difficulty, namely, the acceptance of the proposals mentioned by the Prime Minister of South Africa. What he has urged was urged centuries ago, and has been asked for by the responsible mouthpiece of Ireland from Grattan to John Redmond. The name of Grattan is one that more than any other kindles j;he liveliest emotions in the Irish heart. Grattan was a patriot who did something for Ireland, and he asked only for what General Smuts has asked the people to accept. O'Connell asked for the same form of adjustment of the Irish difficulty many years later, and on behalf of a different generation. Parnell came later on, and asked for the same adjustment and the same measure of self-government. So also did John Redmond. So that in four succeeding epochs of Irish history and on behalf of four different generations - from Grattan's time in 1788, to O'Connell's time in 1848, to Parnell's time in 1888, and to John Redmond's time in 1908 - the invariable Irish unchangeable demand was for the form of selfgovernment on behalf of which I now ask for an expression of sympathy by this Senate.

Something greater we are told is being asked for to-day, and that something greater marks the difference between the stand I take here and the stand now taken by those in charge of the popular party in Ireland. I stand, humble though my station is, where Grattan stood, and he did something for Ireland; where O'Connell stood in 1848, and he also did something for Ireland, though he said that the winning of Ireland's freedom was not worth the shedding of a single drop of blood. I stand where Parnell and John Redmond stood, and although I do not go so far in my demands as do those who are at the present time in charge of national affairs in Ireland, I nevertheless feel that I am not any less sincere in my attachment to my native land, and my desire to see her happy, prosperous, and free.

The position of the Empire in connexion with this matter has to be studied, and briefly I will say that I do not want to see this Empire go down. This is not the first time I have said so. I have asked people who have expressed the opinion that this Empire might be superseded by a better organization to outline for me a plan to supersede the Empire on superior lines, and I would be glad to listen to them. They have failed to suggest any organization which, in my view, would be an improvement upon the Empire structure to which Ave belong. In this connexion, let me say that I am rather tired of hearing, as we continually do, these constant references to Englishmen as beings who would turn a deaf ear to every appeal for sympathy and justice. I want to say here that, in the course of my career abroad in the world, I have helped men out of difficulties, and have been in difficulties myself. I have met Irishmen who like the Levite of old, passed on the other side and turned their heads from me; whilst Englishmen have come across the* road and have spontaneously and generously offered to help me out of them. In the light of such experience, I do not listen to the things that are said about the mass of Englishmen, suggesting that they have failed to respond to any plea or plaint for justice and fair play, not merely within the bounds of the Empire, but the world over. When I compare the history of the Empire with that of other nations, I remember that the shackles were struck off the slaves in the territories under its sway centuries before they were struck off the slaves in the Great Republic of the West, when it was declared there that " all men were born free and equal." That is some testimony to the greatness of soul and the instincts of humanity which have actuated the Government of the Empire on that colossal issue. I have been told that it is lagging behind, but I deny it. When I measure the slow progress of humanity up the steep slopes in the effort to secure universal justice and fair play, and mark the point which has been reached to-day, I say that the pace of humanity in climbing those steep and difficult slopes has been much accelerated by the men who spoke with the tongue of Shakspeare. I am not here to detract from the merit which attaches to what Englishmen and Britishers generally have done on behalf of humanity within the Empire and the world over. I am here to bear witness to what I conceive to be the truth. The position of Ireland, of course, is the one sad exception. Still, I would say of Englishmen that Almighty God must be very fond of them, or else He would not have made so many of them. I have no fault to find with Englishmen as such, and I suggest that England to-day is a vastly different proposition from the England of the time when the ascendancy class ruled. We have a democratic England to-day; and that fact, I am afraid, is lost sight of by those in control of the majority voicing the political destiny of Ireland to-day.'

In regard to the connexion of Aus-* tralia with this matter, I am brought to what I consider to bethe vital feature of the " whole question, Dr. Mannix, the leader and exponent in the Commonwealth of the faith that I 'profess, has told the world that the menace to Australia is an Asiatic one. I accept that statement in the fullest extent, and I proceed now in a few words to dwell upon its significance to this country. It has been said over and over again that we are a lonely Possession here; that we have 12,000 miles of coastline, and that to attempt to defend this country without help from the outside would be to attempt the impossible. We have a coastline greater than that of most of the countries of Europe put together, and its defence, it is suggested, is the single job of 5,000,000 people. I have always contended that if it had not been protected by the pervading power and might of the strong arm that has girdled the nation since it has been in swaddling clothes - I refer to the British Navy - this country could not have held its own for five seconds. To suggest that anything short of a front-rank navy and a front-rank mercantile marine would' be of any use for the protection of this country would be equivalent to saying that we might as well rely upon the skin canoes of the South Sea Islanders to come to our aid. We need a front-rank navy and a front-rank mercantile marine until we have advanced to man's estate, and are in a position to take a larger share in our own defence.

If Ireland succeeded - which God forbid - in weakening or paralyzing the arm that is the sole defence of" Australia, the interests of this country would not have been considered. When the tide of aggression sets out from Asiatic shores, what direction will it take? When the Asiatic menace begins to be felt, who will receive the first shock of contact? It will roll to those countries where the population is thinly sown. And this country will be the first to receive the dreadful impact. It will not roll towards the congested countries of Europe. The people of England, Scot. land, and Ireland will never feel it; but we shall feel it here. And who are we? We are of the same stock with the people of England, Ireland, and Scotland. Amongst the sympathizers with Ireland in Australia, I am glad to say that there are hundreds of thousands who are not of Irish extraction, and who are sympathetically disposed to Ireland. The fact that resolutions to that effect have been passed in this Chamber over and over again prove that statement. It is admitted that we are in the place of peril, and exposed to danger front and rear, and I say that if action is about to be taken which must inevitably and unmistakably weaken the power on which we depend for our safety and security, such action will bo taken without consideration for the interests of this country. I have said that there are many in this country not of Irish extraction who have shown themselves to be friends of Ireland, and that this has been proved by the resolutions that have been carried in the past. There are also probably 1,000,000 people in Australia who are Irish or of Irish extraction, and it is very questionable whether the little extra amount of freedom for which those in control of Irish affairs are now asking would be of much value in securing the maximum of human happiness for the people of Ireland, whilst it may be, perhaps, that that little extra demand would be the means of throwing to the Asiatic wolves the friends' of Ireland here "who are not of Irish extraction as well as the 1,000,000 of Irish people. This may be the awful fact. In speaking thus, I am only repeating what I have emphasized over and over again as to the position of the Empire in regard to Ireland. The safety of this country depends upon the amount of assistance which the Mother Country may be able 'to give us in the testing time. Where should we stand in the f future with an Irish republic as a foreign nation to the Mother Country on the one side, and other foreign nations established on the other side ? It stands to reason that England would have to concentrate her naval power in that place where she could best defend her own interests, with the result that Australia would go short of that extra assistance so essential for our safety. This only emphasizes what I have already said, that the future of Australia as a component part of the Empire depends upon its adequate defence by a front-rank navy and. a front-rank mercantile marine.

Although we in Australia have not that sovereignty, that extra something for which the leaders of Irish opinion are to-day asking, are we the less happy for the want of it? Are we the less prosperous? And do we want it? We are perfectly satisfied with the system of government which we enjoy, and do not ask for anything more.

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