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Wednesday, 13 November 1935

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) . - Little did we in Western Australia reck about ten years ago when we formed the League of Nations Union there that we should live to hear such an awful verbal exhibition as that to which we have been treated in this Parliament by members of the Labour party. Amongst the most prominent founders of that union, the members of which held varied political beliefs, were gentlemen eminent in the Labour organizations. Now that the first concrete effort made by the League in the interests of peace affects our own nation, we find that the opposition to the application of the sanctions is practically confined to prominent members of the Labour party. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this situation is that the members of the Opposition are only fair-weather friends of this instrument for world peace. The League itself it the only protective barrier which exists at present to reduce the risk of war. The barrier may contain holes and be weak in places, but the fact remains that the League is an active, instrument and the only alternative to resort to the clash of arms. To-day, any action that may possibly weaken the prop, should be avoided. To abandon the League would be to invite trouble, because it is the only means by which friction between the two belligerent nations can be reduced. The nations of the world, with few exceptions, have accepted the fact that Italy is the aggressor, and, if we are not prepared to apply the conditions laid down in tins bill, we must continue our trade relations with Italy. Perhaps the Opposition would like to see the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited works turning out munitions or military accoutrements to be consigned to Italy for use against the poor unfortunate Abyssinians. As Senator Dein has pointed out, if the Labour party votes against this bill, it will declare, in effect, that our present trade relations with Italy .shall continue,, and that we shall supply it with materials for war. I cannot understand the Labour party's present attitude, because it has applied the expression "sanction" throughout its political activities. People are living in "Western Australia to whom the Labour party applied sanctions in 1917, because of their political beliefs, and a political vendetta continues against them.

Senator Brown - Vendetta ?

Senator ALLANMacDONALD.Yes, a vendetta not only against the alleged culprit, but also against his family.

Senator Sampson - And these people are the lovers of peace!

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - It is a question, not of peace, but of the application of sanctions or restrictions, and in the case that I have in mind the restriction related to personal liberty. I am glad to note that the Federal Labour party is not expressing the opinion of the great majority of the individuals in the Labour movement. 'So far as Australia is concerned there is no war, and no declaration of members of the Opposition can convince me that there will be a war between Italy and Australia. In my opinion the Labour party has overlooked the point that if you scratch an

Australian, you will find a Briton. The Parliamentary Labour, party is not interpreting the attitude of the moral courage of me Labour movement generally throughout Australia. Its political representatives are giving a one-sided view of sanctions, and are not speaking for that large concourse of Labour voters who are British to the backbone. The Labour Premier of Western Australia (Mr. Collier) is a believer in the League, and still considers that by the imposition of sanctions Australia can contribute something towards easing the present military situation in Europe. Other prominent Labour men hold similar opinions, and in this regard I propose to quote the family bible of Labour members of Parliament, the Labor Daily. As recently as the 20th and the 22nd August last, that eminent mouthpiece of Labour politics published this sentiment-

Another conflict similar to that of 1914-18 is unthinkable, but the rape of Abyssinia would represent a direct challenge by Italy to the entire system of collective security that must be met by effective application of economic and financial sanctions.

That opinion does not emanate from any so-called " die-hard- tory '' newspaper.

Senator Arkins - Will the honorable senator show the cutting to the Leader of the Opposition?

Senator ALLANMacDONALD.Gladly, but I doubt very much if his opinion can be altered.

Senator Arkins - He could not call the honorable senator a liar for making that statement.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Ihope not, although he may think I am. But the fact remains that the expression is to be found in the Labor Daily, the organ of the Labour party in> New South Wales. Why the Labour party should attempt to overthrow thu solemn Covenant of the League, I cannot, understand. The very hand which signed on behalf of Australia that solemn declaration - the League Covenant - signed another' solemn declaration, the sugar agreement. The gentleman whom Senator Brown is so fond of mentioning in this debate, the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, signed both of those instruments, and I suggest that if we can repudiate one, we can repudiate the other. Parham that would not suit honorable senators from Queensland!

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - There will be an attempt to vote out the sugar agreement when it comes before this chamber, although the Government has already signed it.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - On that occasion perhaps Senator Brown will refrain from mentioning the name of Mr. Hughes. Out of the wealth of opinions expressed on this bill one thing stands out prominently in the present situation. I could not better express it than in the language used by the German Government recently when it paid a very high compliment to Britain, for having regained the leadership of the League, which was formerly held by France. I emphasize that this compliment has been paid to Great Britain by a recent enemy, for the work it has done in trying to maintain peace. This occasion should not be allowed to pass without mention being made of the excellent work that the British Minister for League Affairs, Mr. Anthony Eden, has performed at Geneva on behalf of world peace. He has striven for long months to find a way for the nations to compose their differences, and has been a master of patience; to his untiring efforts the people of Australia should pay tribute.

Another aspect which has appealed to me both before and during the discussion on this bill is the need for Australia to be prepared for any debacle such as that contemplated by the Opposition. Should its security be menaced Australia itself will require all the help the world can offer. Unfortunately, during the last few years Australians have not realized the low ebb at which the defences of this country stand. To the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes I would pay the compliment that at least he has done much in the last fortnight by the publication or his now famous book to cause the public to realize the acuteness of the. danger to which Australia is exposed through its lack of defence. I hope that this will be a reminder to the Australian people that it is high time to ensure that the Commonwealth is adequately defended - and defended by ourselves, without leaning too heavily, as we have done in the past, or.

Britain and the British Navy. We have a duty to our people which wemust shoulder, and i trust that, as a result of the discussion on this bill, we shall be a step nearer to the day when we shall be adequately protected. The defence policy of Australia should be revised, starting from the bottom, with the re-introduction of compulsory military training. The discipline and the training under that system were the finest that we have ever had in Australia, and until it is reintroduced, we shall encounter considerable difficulty in building up adequate defences. I commend the bill, becauseI feel sure that it will contribute towards a peaceful settlement of the European situation. It is an honest endeavour to carry out our solemn obligations as a consistent member of the League of Nations from its inception. The League is on trial, and we should do our share to help it in its time of trouble. Unfortunately, the Opposition seems to base its attitude on the two alleged failures of the League, in connexion with the Gran Chaco and Manchukuo wars. The former, as the Leader of the Senate mentioned, was an old and musty family quarrel, and could be ignored. The position in Manchukuo was entirely different because that country is nearer to Australia. Perhaps our friends in opposition would have liked the League to have intervened in that instance, and to have applied all kinds of economic financial and military sanctions to Japan, in which case they would be in a very sorry position to-day. The League may have failed in that it did not interfere in the Manchukuo dispute, but as an Australian I thank God that it did not. 1 commend the bill to honorable senators and express the hope that it may help to calm the European turmoil.

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