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Thursday, 25 August 1921


Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I do not know whether to think ill or well of the action taken by Senator Gardiner, since, on the one hand, it will give additional publicity to the appointment that has been made by the Government; while, on the other, the discussion that has taken place on this motion will show the world that if the matter had rested with the Senate, a co-ordinate branch of the Legislature of the Commonwealth, a vastly different appointment would have been made. While this motion will give wide publicity to the appointment which has been made by the Government, the balancing advantage will lie in the publicity given to our criticism., and the fact made plain during this debate that this Chamber would have made a very different selection. The Government, in defence of the action taken by them, have cited the relative unimportance of the business set down for consideration by the Assembly of the League. I agree that a superficial reading of the agenda paper does not suggest that the business set down for consideration is very important. There is, however, one item of very great interest to us. I refer to the plea of the people of certain South American nations that an attempt shall be made to adjust their contending interests. In the settlement of that international dispute the Assembly may lay down principles of a far-reaching character that may finally affect even Australia. I attach the utmost importance to that question. In its determination principles will be laid down for the future guidance of the League of Nations, and we need to have a man of no ordinary capacity to adequately represent Australia in the con sideration of such matters. As to the ether questions to be considered, it is quite clear that, while the reports to which reference has been made will not be finalized, some action may be contemplated that will call upon Australia's representative to clearly and thoroughly set | out the views of the people, of this country, and the question arises as to whether Mr. Shepherd is the man for the | job.


Senator Keating - The various representatives will be sounding one another with the object of ascertaining their views on different questions.


Senator LYNCH - That is so. Revert ing ito the question of the relative unimportance of the business to be dealt with, I think that the contention put forward on behalf of the Government is answered by &. statement that appeared in the daily pre&s some time ago in regard to the indignation felt by Lord Robert Cecil when the | British Government, in selecting a representative to attend the Conference, passed him over. That is an ample reply to the plea of the Government that this second Assembly of the League is unimportant. Lord Robert Cecil desired to be present at the Conference, and, according to the newspaper reports, felt very keenly the | way in which he had been ignored. He would not have wished to attend a mere formal gathering. He must have considered that matters of importance would arise, and that his presence, as one of the creators of the League of Nations, was desirable. $ re-echo the view expressed by Senator Fairbairn, that if any nation has} reason to look with hope and confidence towards this newly-created boc|y, it is Australia. We have good reason to rely upon our former means of security, but we are entitled to regard the League of Nations as an additional safeguard, and as being Australia's third if not second, line of defence. The smaller countries of the American Conti nent, from Labrador to Cape Horn, have the1 dead hand of President Monroe to protect them, even if they do nothing for themselves. Australia is the one part of the British Empire which is l more exposed to attack, and has more reason to fear the future than any other nation. In view of that fact, we' must see to it that this new form of safety and defence, the League of Nations, is not lowered in prestige or importance. A sure means of lowering its prestige and destroying its power for good would be the selection of men of inferior calibre to take part in its deliberations. We do not select feeble or incapable men for appointment to Ministerial office, and the principle that guides us in creating Governments should be followed in the selection of men to take part in the councils of the League of Nations. I regret that the Government have taken this action. We have to consider what may be the views of those gathered round the council table, who naturally sum each otherup and inquire as to the standing of their fellow members. It is necessary that our representative should have the confidence of the Assembly. I hope that good will issue from this discussion, and that as a result of the criticism inwhich the Senate has indulged, the Government will plainly recognise that we do not indorse the action they have taken, and they should try to amend it.







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