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Wednesday, 23 November 1921


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - I feel it necessary to point out that there are to my mind very fatal objections to the course proposed by the honorable senator. First of all, it is a complete reversal of the attitude taken up by this Chamber on three distinct occasions. I venture to say, also, that if it were carried it would come somewhat as a shock to the people of Australia. When we found ourselves participants in the recentlyconcluded great war, the one idea that I think was in the minds of most people, so far as these islands were concerned, was that we should seek to obtain them, not as additions to our already broad area., but as additional measures of security. Particularly was the possession of them desired as a means of securing what we know as our national policy. Australia, surely, was under no illusion as to what the acceptance of this responsibility would mean. She must have known that she could not take these islands without considerable thought and trouble, and possibly great' expense; but as against that she saw very clearly that they were essential to her safety. In no uncertain voice this Chamber and the other House, and, I venture to repeat, the people of this country, . affirmed that it was desirable, in the interests of Australia, that weshould, if possible, acquire control of these islands. Two resolutions were passed in this Chamber bearing upon the point. The first was passed in August, 1917. It was moved by Senator Bakhap, and it affirmed that in no circumstances should these islands be returned to Germany. A little later, on the 14th November, 191S, after the signing of the Armistice, this Chamber and the other House passed a resolution which went a little farther than the previous one. I will read it -

The Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia declares that it is essential for the future safety and welfare of Australia that the captured German possessions in the Pacific, which are now occupied by Australia and New Zealand troops, should not, in any circumstances bc restored to Germany.

That, in substance, was the same as the first resolution. The difference in the two resolutions was contained in the words I have yet to quote -

That in the consideration and determination of proposals affecting the destination of these islands, Australia should be consulted.

The resolution arose from a declaration made in the House of Commons as to the future of the islands. Australia, at that time, was rather perturbed at the suggestion contained in the declaration. It was regarded as a suggestion that, in some way or another, the islands might be disposed of otherwise than as they have been, that is to say, they might have passed from our control. The resolution was submitted to and approved by both Houses of Parliament. Later the Senate was asked to 'assent to an Act fortaking the islands over under Mandate not then issued. The Act was assented to in September, 1920. Further, I would like to remind the Chamber that part of the mission intrusted to me at Geneva was to try to obtain possession of that Mandate. Australia new has the Mandate. All this has been clone deliberately. What has happened since to influence us, so suddenly, to reverse our policy, to- declare that these islands are of no value and importance to us, and to say that we would be well quit of them? There does not appear to be any absolutely effective way of protecting our national policy except to retain, control of these islands.

Senator Lynchhas suggested that America should take them over. Honolulu has been taken over by America. If I look into the facts of Honolulu to-day I am not able to discover much assurance there regarding our national policy. Here are the population figures : - Hawaiians, or partly so, 38,000 ; Chinese, 22,000 ; Japanese, 113,000; Philippinos, 5,000; and Koreans, 5,200; making a total of I8 6,000 Asiatics.


Senator Lynch - Those races were there long before America took control.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That statement by the honorable senator is only partially correct. If he will look at the rapid rate at which the Asiatic population has increased he will have the answer to his own question. As against a total of 186,000 Asiatics, there is a total population of Americans, British, Germans, and Russians, of only 25,000. The population has increased by 37,908, or 24 per cent. since 1900. I venture to say that does not offer a very reassuring picture to the people of this country. I would remind Senator Lynch that America has put forward, not through an irresponsible journal, or out of the mouth of an individual statesman, but in a formal manner, the demand that all Mandated Territories should be open to any member of the League of Nations. She made that demand with regard to Mesopotamia, in the first instance, but she did not limit it to Mesopotamia. She put it forward as a principle to apply to all mandates. She still stands to that principle, and it seems to me that she is likely to continue to do so, because of her profound desire to get free access to the oil deposits of Mesopotamia. It means that if she takes over these islands and maintains the policy of the " open door," we shall have reproduced the position in Honolulu. Some mighty change would require to come over the sentiment of the people of this country before they would willingly agree to a proposition of that kind. I come to paragraph 2 of the honorable senator's proposal -

That, in view of the expressed desire of the United States of America to act as a Mandatory Power in respect to certain of the Pacific Islands, and its special fitness for that office, the Government of that country might be in vited to accept responsibility for the whole or part of the Territories now under Commonwealth guardianship.

I rather wonder at Senator Lynch, who is generally so well informed in these matters, making that mistake. America has not only not asked for a Mandate; she has flatly refused one. She was pressed to accept one, and she declined to do so. She was taunted with her action in refusing to accept responsibility after having done so much to create the idea of the Mandate.


Senator Lynch - Did she not accept the Mandate for the Cable Station, Island of Tap?


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not at all certain that she asked for a Mandate. She wants the open door. She wants somebody else to keep the house painted and in order, and to give the open door to her citizens. She flatly refused at Versailles to accept a Mandate. Even if America were willing to accept a Mandate, it is not a matter of traffic between Australia, America, and any other country as to what becomes 'of these islands. They were surrendered to the Allied and Associated Powers, and from them, through the Council of the League, Australia received a Mandate. If we contemplate surrendering these islands, we can only surrender the Mandate to those from whom we received it. If the Mandate goes back to the League, the League will look for some other Mandatory Power. I want to remind the Chamber that Germany is still a claimant for the Mandate for these islands. She addressed a memorial to the League claiming that these Mandates ought not to be issued until she had become a member of the League, so that she might be an applicant for them. When the League, at Geneva, declined to assent or wait, she wrote saying that in no sense did she surrender her claim, andthat in due time - her own good time - she would renew the application, based upon what she regarded as a sound claim. Since then the feeling against Germany has not intensified. If we surrender these islands, and say that we will no longer accept responsibility for them, we must surrender them to the League. If Germany's claim is then again pressed forward, there will be a strong danger that Germany will be given the Mandate. Senator de Largie reminds me that the

Mandate might possibly be given to the adjoining Mandatory Power, namely, Japan.


Senator Lynch - I am not so foolish as to suggest that.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am aware of that, but my argument is perfectly logical. I submit that we cannot offer the Mandate to America. It came to us from the League of Nations, and if we surrender it we can surrender it only to the League.


Senator Lynch - America's acceptance of it should be a condition of our surrender of it.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I submit that the Mandate is not a transferable document.


Senator Lynch - If it is not, that ends the matter so far as I am concerned.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not think for a moment that we can bargain with it. We hold it in a fiduciary capacity, and cannot surrender it except to the League of Nations. If we do surrender it to the League, Germany may be an applicant for it, and Germany has many friends in the League of Nations. Japan holds adjacent islands a few miles away, and it is quite conceivable that she might be a claimant for the Mandate, or some other country that does not understand or appreciate our White Australia policy. Apart from the impracticable nature of the second paragraph of the honorable senator's motion, his proposal would constitute such a vital danger, and be so inimical to the interests of the Commonwealth, that I trust the Senate will find no difficulty in rejecting the motion.







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