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Wednesday, 23 November 1921


Senator BAKHAP (Tasmania) . - I felt assured that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) would express himself in language, if not eulogistic of the terms of my motion, at least of its intention. I feel sure that every member of the Senate indorses and supports my heartfelt desire that the outcome of die Washington Disarmament Conference may be fraught with very great benefit to mankind.

It is unnecessary for me to traverse the terms of the motion. I was favoured with the close attention of honorable senators when I submitted it a few weeks ago. It may be remembered .that I submitted the motion almost as soon as Senator Pearce commenced his journey to America as our representative with the members of the British delegation at the Washington Disarmament Conference. But let me say that since I submitted this motion the House of Commons, in its wisdom, has thought it desirable to adopt au almost entirely similar motion. To show the unanimity of feeling that existed in that great body, which is our prototype and exemplar, let me say that the motion, in terms which did not greatly differ from mine, was moved by a member of the Labour party, and secured the unanimous indorsement of all the members of the House of Commons present when it was submitted. If that very distinguished body, which is represented at the Washington Disarmament Conference by some of its most illustrious members, thought it desirable to formally express its opinion of the Conference, and, so. to speak, to wish it God-speed in its efforts to promote the welfare of mankind, it is not out of place that the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament, the only Parliament which looks after the affairs of one of the world'? continents, should take it upon itself to declare its attitude towards a Conference which is likely to be famous for all time.

It may be that the Washington Disarmament Conference will not achieve a tithe of what even at the present moment is expected of it, but beyond doubt it will 'be an historic mark, which will indicate to succeeding ages that even at this stage of its history mankind had awakened to the fact that we " are brothers all," and, if possible, -should bring to an end the terrible warfare' in which human races have indulged for untold centuries past.

I am not forgetful of my own statement, very often repeated, that man is a fighting animal. But while war and conflict may at one time have been regarded as evolutionary forces, making for the betterment of the human race, and some of the very best of our philosophers have argued that war has been a great disseminator of civilization, has made the human race what it is, and enabled it to achieve what it has achieved', let it not be forgotten that war at the present time is taking on a hideous form which may involve the total destruction of humanity if the peoples of the world dp not wisely call a halt. I must admit, and the proceedings of the Washington Dis-, armament Conference so far disclose the fact, that man only very jealously gives up any portion of his rights as a fighting animal. It is easy to see at this stage that a great .deal too much may be expected from the Washington Disarmament Conference, and a great deal more than is likely to be achieved at this period of the world's history. But I am entirely of the opinion which has been expressed' by General Smuts in- this connexion. The genesis of the idea was implanted in my mind by an old Cornwall mining captain, who, many years ago, said .that what would bring war to an end would be a discovery which would put a million men as much at the mercy of half-a-dozen as at that time half-a-dozen were at the mercy of a million. " Then," said he, " men thoughtful of the race, and fearful that it may possibly be wholly annihilated, will take thought and relinquish warfare." Since I submitted my motion to the Senate, General Smuts has said that warfare has become so horrible because of the advance in chemical science that this very advance will bring it to an end. Let us hope that the disclosure of the formidable and the terrible in man's empire over the secret processes of Nature may serve to bring Avar to an end. I believe that the consummation of such a desirable result will follow rather from man's knowledge of chemistry, and of the secret and tremendous operations of mother Nature, than perhaps from any Conference such as that which is at present sitting at Washington.

This need not prevent us from having the greatest good-will towards the delegates assembled at the Conference, and towards the great American people,whose rulers conceived the idea of calling together delegates of the peoples of the world. In this spirit, the same spirit which caused the House of Commons to adopt unanimously a similar motion submitted at the instance of a Labour member, I ask the members of the Senate of the Australian Commonwealth to pass this motion. It will be a blazon of that spirit of hope which we entertain in common with all decently civilized people, that men will soon achieve that standard of common sense which will cause them to see that it is desirable that man should not make war against man, that we had better hang the trumpet in the hall, war no more, live in peace and amity with each other, and endeavour to prepare the way for great ' conquests which must be before our posterity if their energies are not diverted from the conquest of nature by the terrible pursuit of self-destruction. I submit my motion for the decision of the Senate with pleasure and with hope.

Question resolved in the affirmative.







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