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Wednesday, 13 November 1935


Senator ARKINS (New South Wales) . - In the course of my remarks upon this important subject, it will be my purpose to break new ground, if that be possible after the lengthy debate that has already taken place. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has not denied that the League of Nations was established for the purpose of preventing future wars from destroying civilization. On the contrary, he has, I understand, on many occasions upheld the ideals of the League.

The League of Nations came into being when the Treaty of Peace with Germany was ratified on the 10th January, 1920. Its charter, containing 26 articles, is known as the Covenant which includes a number of provisions for the prevention and settlement of disputes. These clauses bind natio'ns which are members of the League not to employ force for the settlement of the disputes until they have first been submitted to the League of Nations, or to arbitrators or to judges. The right to resort to war was retained in the event of the League or the arbitrators failing to reach a unanimous decision, but even then only after a delay of three months after such failure. This right to war was abandoned by the 60 States which signed the Kellogg Pact. Thus for the first time in history machinery was devised for the establishment of an international tribunal with a set purpose to prevent war, which is regarded as the greatest scourge of mankind.

Apparently the ideal of the League is too high for certain members of the socalled Labour party of Australia.


Senator Brown - What "so-called" Labour party?


Senator ARKINS - Because Labour's spokesmen in this chamber do not represent the virile rank and file of the workers of Australia. The preamble to the Covenant of the League of Nations reads as follows : -

The High Contracting Parties -

In order to promote international cooperation and to achieve international peace and security - by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war, by the prescription of open, just and honorable relations between nations, by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among governments, and, by the maintenance of justice and the scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another,

Agree to this Covenant of the League of nations.

If Labour senators believe in the League of Nations, if they believe in its ideals they must endorse its Covenant, which states specifically that "there shall be scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations." No one will deny that Italy has violated one article of the solemn treaty made between the nations represented at Geneva. By that Treaty of Paris the signatory nations pledged themselves to the Covenant of the League, and the moral rules governing its members. On the 1st November, a cable message, which appeared in the Australian press, reported Mr. F. B. Kellogg, a former American Secretary of State, as having said in an interview at St. Pauls, Minnesota, in reference to the Kellogg-Briand Pact-

The United States of America in common with other countries can and should designate Italy as the aggressor in flagrant violation of the sovereignty of another nation. The United States of America should denounce Italy's violation of her treaty obligations and announce that it will take no step to interfere or nullify the measures which other nations are now taking to put a stop to this war What some American peopleseem to have forgotten, and what the Italian people or their Government seemed to have entirely ignored is that when Italy invaded Abyssinia, she was thus, beyond a. shadow of a doubt, proceeding to use war as an instrument of national policy. Italy has violated a treaty with the United States of America, and thus violated the supreme law of our land.

I emphasize that the United States of America really stands outside the League. Nevertheless, so prominent a spokesman for that country, one who played a foremost part in the formulation of the League Covenant, has said that Italy in breaking the League Covenant has violated treaty obligations with the United States of America. Mr. Kellogg emphasized -

Italy has violateda treaty with the United States of America and thus violated the supreme law of our land.

When the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues say that they believe in the

League of Nations, surely they accept a fundamental principle of the League, that members must scrupulously observe all their treaty obligations. The Leaderof the Opposition must have been aware of that fact when he said a year ago that he believed in the League. He was then practically a protagonist of the League, and on one occasion he corrected honorable senators who suggested that the League was not all that it should be. In view of his previous statements surely he believes that when Italy has broken a treaty Australia should support other nations in upholding the treaty. Labour parties in Great Britain, France, and practically throughout the world have supported the League in the present conflict, because they recognize that if the League is to be worth anything at all its members must stand up to their treaty obligations. It is futile to talk platitudes about the League. The peace of the world will not be secured by words. Mr. Kellogg has stated definitely that in its non-observance of the League Italy has violated treaty obligations with the United States of America. Honorable senators who support this measure hold the view that Italy has also violated treaty obligations with Australia. Referring again to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and to the attitude of the United States of America, Mr. Kellogg said -

I hope that those considering trading with Italy will have it brought home to them constantly that in supplying oil. cotton or machinery they are aiding and abetting a nation that treats a solemn treaty as a scrap of paper.

In opposing the imposition of sanctions, members of the Opposition really suggest that Australia should break faith with the rest of the world. In following such a course we would probably not only cause confusion among the other nations which constitute the League, but would also support the opening of the door immediately for all sorts of open trading in oil, armaments, munitions, and all requirements of war. Thus we would add fuel to the flames and do the very thing which Australia as a member of the League has undertaken to prevent.


Senator Brown - If Germany supplied oil to Italy, would the honorable senator suggest that Australia should go to war with Germany?







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