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Wednesday, 13 November 1935


Senator DEIN (New South Wales) . - I shall not deal at length with the bill, or elaborate upon the circumstances which necessitated its introduction. Suffice it to say that, the League of Nations has been designed to support and strengthen the greatest and noblest conception of the human mind. The League was born in a sea of human suffering and it had not long been in existence before it was called upon to nurse and tend a sick and tottering civilization. Unfortunately, like all man-made things, the League has made mistakes; but who will say that those mistakes were of sufficient magnitude to warrant its destruction ?


Senator Collings - No one.


Senator DEIN - Then why does the Labour party adopt an attitude towards the League which, if followed generally would inevitably smash the League and destroy the ideals which it has set up?


Senator Collings - The Labour party believes in maintaining the League, and making a success of it.


Senator DEIN - All sections of the British Empire, and a vast majority of all the signatories to the Covenant of the League, agree that the League is entitled to support in the stand it has taken in the dispute between Italy and Abyssinia. It lias remained for a small group of "little islanders," known as the Australian Labour party, to take a stand which would, if generally accepted, destroy thi1 ideal that the world has set up. Other sections of British people have looked into the future and seen civilization tottering on the brink of an inferno, and have pinned their faith to the League of Nations as the only hope for peace. The Austraiian Labour party has also looked into the future, but, with blurred vision, it can see nothing but the Australian Labour party. It is out of its depth and floundering in a sea of hopeless bewilderment.


Senator Hardy - The Labour party has suffered from blurred vision for more than twenty years.


Senator DEIN - During the sixteen years that the League of Nations has been in existence, it has had the undivided rapport of the Australian Labour party, whose representatives in this Parliament have not objected to considerable sums of money being voted towards its support.


Senator Collings - They will continue to support the League. The honorable senator is misrepresenting the attitude of the Labour party.


Senator DEIN - Why does the Labour party now abandon the policy it has followed for many years ? It would appear that its support of the League in the past has been only lip service. The Covenant of the League is not new, and the Labour party should have known long before the present trouble between Italy and Abyssinia developed, what the Covenant involved. Strangely enough, only recently has the Labour party learned that sanctions may have serious consequences.

Now that the League is on its trial, now that it has reached the cross roads in its history, now that the sincerity of the signatories to its Covenant is put to the test, and now that the worth of its true friends is revealed, this is the time when the Labour party chooses to adopt an attitude which, if generally adopted would mean the destruction of the League. I remind the Opposition that the destruction of the League means the destruction of its subsidiary organizations also.

What the ultimate result of the present crisis will be is a matter for conjecture. The Opposition may be right in its contention that the action taken by the League must inevitably lead to war; but, on the other hand, it may be wrong. We all sincerely hope that the conflict will not extend. Time only can tell. The League came into . existence in order to prevent war. Failing to prevent war, it seeks next to limit and localize the conflict. On this occasion the League did fail to prevent war between Italy and Abyssinia. It is now taking the next step and is attempting to limit the war and bring it to an early conclusion. Although this bill has been introduced to that end, the Opposition has been loud in condemning it on the ground that sanctions must inevitably lead to war.


Senator Collings - Sir John Latham is of the same opinion.


Senator DEIN - Time only will tell whether Sir John Latham was right. The fact remains that when the League Covenant was prepared it was not thought that sanctions would inevitably lead to war. Had that been the belief at the time provision would have been made in the Covenant for financial, economic and military sanctions to apply simultaneously. The Covenant, however, provides for the gradual application of sanctions. Whether financial and economic sanctions will be effective is, I admit, a matter of conjecture.


Senator Herbert Hays - The Leader of the Opposition believes in enforcing industrial sanctions.


Senator DEIN - Members of the Opposition owe their election to this Parliament to the acceptance of. the principle of sanctions in industrial affairs.


Senator Collings - The honorable senator knows that lie could not enjoy his present security unless the hungry and dispossessed in the community were controlled by trades unions.


Senator DEIN - I admire trade unions, and agree with the principle underlying them. But I submit that if sanctions are right in industrial affairs, they are right in international affairs also.

It has been said that the League of Nations did not apply sanctions against Japan when that nation invaded China a few years ago. Everyone admits that on that occasion the League made a mistake.


Senator Collings - The mistake was not admitted at the time.


Senator DEIN - All man-made organizations make mistakes, and the League has not been an exception. The result of that mistake is seen in Mussolini's attitude towards the League to-day. Is it not clear that the failure of the League to take action against Japan inspired Italy to attack Abyssinia ? There are good grounds for believing that before another bully nation contemplates an attack against a weaker nation, it will have a different conception of the League from that of Mussolini, who thought that as the League had failed once in its duty, it would fail again. He thought that every party and every nation was of the same kidney as the Australian Labour party; but he has slipped badly.


Senator Collings - He has not slipped so badly as the honorable senator thinks, for his troops are winning all along the line.


Senator DEIN - He has a long way to go yet, and time alone will tell whether or not his troops will prevail. The Opposition has made a strong point of the failures of the' League, but has not had one word of commendation to say regarding its many successes. Honorable senators would do well to ask themselves what is to take the place of the League if that body be destroyed. The Opposition has -not told us how to avert the calamity that confronts civilization. It shows a willingness to throw away the substance, and to grasp at the shadow. Senator Collings touched upon many matters, but did not deal with the provisions of the bill. He spoke of the horrors of war; but is not the last great conflict fresh in our memories? What is required is advice as. to how to avert another such disaster. What would the honorable senator set up -in place of tho League of Nations ? He says, in effect : " Away with the League !"


Senator Collings - Did I say that?


Senator DEIN - I tried to read something else into the speeches by Senators Collings and Brown, but the only inference which I could draw from their remarks was that they wished to smash the League. They said: "Away with the League! We do not want it."


Senator Collings - I rise to a point of order. The last statement made by the honorable senator is deliberately inaccurate, and I ask that it be withdrawn. [ have never said : " Away with the League!" I have never condemned it. 1 intend to support it in this chamber at every opportunity.


The PRESIDENT - If the honorable senator's remark is offensive to the Loader of the Opposition, I ask that it be withdrawn.


Senator DEIN - J said that the only inference to be drawn from the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition was that he meant : " Away with the League !"


Senator Collings - I ask for an unqualified withdrawal of the remark.


The PRESIDENT - Senator Dein did not attribute to the Leader of the Opposition the express words complained of, and therefore they need not be withdrawn.


Senator Collings - I am accustomed to this sort of thing. It does not worry me.


Senator DEIN - The honorable senator read extracts from certain newspapers, some of which are reputable. He particularly quoted at some length the remarks of a writer who, in 1921, deplored the fact that there was a race of armaments, and appealed to the leaders of thought in order that some steps might be taken to check it. The League of Nations had its birth in the year 1919, and although we had hoped for better results than have been obtained by it, its task ha3 been exceedingly difficult Yet it has come through its ordeal fairly well. What result other than a race of armaments can be expected if we smash the League? What would the Opposition give us in its place? The alternative offered by the Labour party to the collective security obtained through the League is a policy of " adequate defence," but exactly what that term means has never been explained.


Senator Collings - We have both the League and armaments race to-day.


Senator DEIN - We have both because, in my opinion, there are traitors to the League itself. While there are traitors abroad and traitors in Australia


Senator Collings - To whom does the honorable senator refer? If he does not say it here, I am sure he will do so elsewhere.


Senator DEIN - If the cap fits, I do not desire to prevent the honorable senator from wearing it. There is sufficient weight of testimony on that point without having to quote opinions such as that given by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn.)

The bill states definitely that no financial assistance of any kind shall be given to Italy, yet the Leader of the Opposition objects to it. The Labour party would, presumably, allow all possible financial assistance to be given to Italy. It would not prevent any individual or society from forwarding money to that country to assist it in its attack on Abyssinia. The Opposition says that it does not want the bill. The only deduction to be drawn from that declaration is that it is prepared to help Italy in its war on Abyssinia. The Opposition goes even further than that. The bill prevents the export of arms to Italy, and as the Labour party objects to the bill, ii must be willing to allow any armament or munition firm to send warlike material to Italy. The bill prohibits imports into Australia from Italy. That is a very proper provision, because the money which Italy would receive for its goods would be used in the purchase of warlike material. The Labour party objects to the provision, and, therefore, says, in effect: "Let' Italian imports come in. With the proceeds Italy can purchase the warlike material it requires in its attack on Abyssinia."


Senator Collings - No member of the Labour party has ever said that. The honorable senator cannot go on lying his way through the argument. He knows he is lying!


The PRESIDENT - I ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw that remark.


Senator Collings - I withdraw it. Having said it, I have all the satisfaction T want.


The PRESIDENT - The remark must be withdrawn without qualification.


Senator Collings - I withdraw any words which you, Mr. President, ask me to withdraw.


Senator DEIN -I was merely pointing out that the object of the bill is to curb the actions of Italy by the application of financial and ecomonic sanctions. As the Labour party opposes the bill, the only inference to be drawn from its attitude is that it is prepared to help Italy against Abyssinia.


Senator Collings - I say definitely that the honorable senator is a liar!


The PRESIDENT - The Chair will not tolerate this repetition of disorder. I ask Senator Collings to withdraw and apologize to Senator Dein.


Senator Collings - I will not apologize. You can do what you like.


Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - I think Senator Dein has gone a good deal " over the odds".


The PRESIDENT - I appeal to the Leader of the Opposition, to whom we look to set an example. He has repeated his most offensive remark, and in doing so, has deliberately set himself at defiance of the Chair. I again ask him to withdraw and apologize.


Senator Collings - I withdraw, butI will not, in any circumstances, apologize; and I will take any thing that is coming to me for it. Senator Dein has been allowed to say things which reflect on my honour and truthfulness.


Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - If we had said such things we should have been bundled out.


Senator Collings - In deference to you, Mr. President, I willingly withdraw what I have said, but I will not apologize to this man.


The PRESIDENT - I appeal to the Leader of the Opposition to realize that in this chamberhe must accept the statements of a fellow senator in good faith, and in the spirit in which they are uttered, I urge him to realize his position, and to set an example of decorum and good sense. I now ask him to withdraw and apologize to Senator Dein.


Senator Collings - I will not do it. I withdraw and apologize to you sir, but not to him. He should have been pulled up long ago.


The PRESIDENT - The Leader of the Opposition considers that Senator

Dein has placed a wrong construction on a portion of his speech, and since he has apologized to the Senate, I am prepared to accept his apology in that form.


Senator DEIN - I regret that the Leader of the Opposition has adopted his present attitude. I did not reflect on him personally, but on the judgment of the Labour party, which' is prepared to do what, in my opinion, would amount to assisting Italy in its attack on Abyssinia. I agree wholeheartedly with the course of action taken by the League of Nations to hamper the operations of Italy. The bill gives me an opportunity to register my protest against the Italian attitude, and I regret that every section in this chamber does not stand behind the Government and the League by supporting this legislation.

Senator Collingshas drawn my attention to a book written by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), from which Senator Brown quoted extensively in regard to sanctions. If he endorses the sentiments expressed by the writer, he will have no alternative but to cast his vote in support of this bill as did the right honorable member referred to. I trust that the regrettable war in Abyssinia will soon be terminated, and that it will be unnecessary for the Government to bring down further legislation on this subject.







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