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Wednesday, 13 November 1935


Senator BROWN (Queensland) . - I congratulate Senator Hardy upon the able manner in which he marshalled his so-called facts; but 1 was surprised that the honorable senator should accuse the Labour party of being in favour of the export of arms to Italy. The Labour party has always been opposed to the private manufacture and export of arms, and consequently cannot be accused of favouring their export.

At the conclusion of his speech Senator Hardy said that if Australia did not support sanctions it would mean the further development of a policy of selfsufficiency or economic nationalism. In passing this measure we are forcing Italy and perhaps other countries to become even more self-contained than at present.

Every war and every rumour of war has the effect of developing economic nationalism in order to reduce the risk of defeat. It has also been said that we have opposed this measure for party purposes, and the next moment we. are told that there are few people behind us. How can the two statements be reconciled? In order to clarify the position perhaps I should say that the members of the Labour party have no sympathy with Italy or its dictator. Mussolini. Any one who has read of the Fascist development in Italy must realize that the members of the Labour party have no love for Mussolini.


Senator Collings - He has gaoled and shot those who support our policy.


Senator BROWN - Yes, he has been responsible for leaders of the trade union movement being tied behind motor cars and dragged through the streets of Italy until the poor devils died. We knowhow they have been persecuted and illtreated. How can it be said that we have any regard for Italy and its leader? On the other hand we have no love for Abyssinia. Only to-night the Parliamentary Librarian showed me a book published by the League of Nations picturing the horrors being perpetrated in that country. No one can peruse that book without feelings of horror at the way in which certain Abyssinian people are treated. We have definitely decided to take a certain line of action because we feel that in supporting the League of Nations in this dispute we may be embroiling Australia in another war. Only a few days ago I read the following comments by Mr. Walter Duranty, one of the world's most prominent international journalists. He said -

The development of the Italo-Abyssinian affair has concentrated Europe's thought more than ever on the future, and in the opinion of European capitals has hastened the day when the world will be plunged into a conflict more terrible than anything in history.

That is the opinion, not of the members of the Labour party in this chamber, but of a man in close contact with international affairs. He continued -

This shadow of coming war looms black and threatening across all Europe which is cowering and trembling in the darkness for fear of the wrath to come. The majority of the League powers have little faith in the League, but fearing the coming war they clutch at the League as a drowningman cluches at a straw . . . Armament factories all over Europe arc working full blast obviously for war giving prosperity to shareholders and employees . . . The fact is thatEurope is preparing for war and neither statesmen nor theman in the street believe it is avertible.

When we say that thereis every possibility of war, we are accused of suffering from hysteria; but there is no justification for that criticism when prominent men in Europe Bend such messages to Australia. Honorable senators opposite are now silent. In the past members of the Labour party have supported the appropriation of money to defray the expenses of the League. We shall do that again, simply because we believe that it. is endeavouring to ensure peace. We do not however believe that it can prevent all wars, or that we must support it in every action which it takes. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said -

The adoption of the principles of the Covenant tied the hands of the powers. Individual action was prohibited. Eur years the peace-loving nations of the world have been moving in a world of unrealities. Because they were sincerely desirous of upholding the principled upon which the League of Nations rested, they refrained from taking action to check the ambitions designs of those nations which landed the League with their tongues in their cheeks. The League of Nations established to ensure the territorial integrityof all nations - especially the weaker ones - has not only failed to protect them, but has created conditions that encourage aggression.

The views I have just expressed are not those of a member of the Labour party, but of a gentleman who until it few days ago was a member of the Government. Itis easy for honorable senators opposite to play upon the emotions of the people by speaking of the good old Mother Country and the boys of the bulldog breed. Honorable senators in opposition who have similar feelings contend that thepeople should know exactly what is happening, and should they decide to support sanctions we shall have nothing further to say. The course we are following is to ensure peace and to safeguard Australian development in such a way that there will be no need for war.

SenatorFoll.- Does the honorable senator think that Australia should remain a member of the League?


Senator BROWN - I have heard that parrot-like cry again and again.


The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator is not in order in using that expression.


Senator BROWN - Then I shall say it is not a parrot-like cry, but that of a magpie. It is puerile for honorable senators supporting the Government to ask repeatedly certain questions that have been answered on so many occasions. Our views on this subject are well known. We contend that war will never be prevented by the imposition of sanctions; that, to ensure peace among the nations, we must eliminate the basic causes of conflict. It was thought, when the peace treaty was signed, that Germany was utterly crushed. To-day Germany is as strong and virile as ever, and now threatens the peace of Europe. Within two years, it will be demanding the return of its colonies, the return of Memel and Danzig, and the elimination of the Polish corridor. It has not lost sight of its objective - a Mittel Europa extending from the Baltic to the Persian Gulf. Italy, too, is desirous of expansion. Its dependence on raw materials for the development of its secondary industries is compelling Mussolini to look to Northern Africa for the satisfaction of its needs. I repeat that we shall never eliminate the struggle between nations unless we come to some reasonable agreement for the supply of raw materials to those nations in need of it.


Senator Arkins - The Russian Communists are not in agreement with the honorable senator about the imposition of sanctions.


Senator BROWN - It is true that the Soviet Government is, in this matter, supporting the Commonwealth Government; but it did not always hold its present views concerning the League of Nations. In a speech to the July Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Partyof the Soviet Union in 1928., Stalin stressed the danger of imperialist wars, and intervention in the following words : -

The most popular method of lulling the working class and diverting it from the struggle against the danger of war is presentday pacifism with its League of Nations, the gospel of " peace," the " outlawry of war," the nonsense about "disarmament" and so forth. Imperialist pacificism is an instrument for the preparation ofwar and for the masking of those preparations bypharisaical talk about peace. Without this pacifism and its instrument, the League of Nations, the 'preparations for war under present conditions would be impossible.

That was Stalin's opinion of the League of Nations in 1928. To-day, theSoviet is behind the League. This merely shows that time brings changes in the outlook of governments, as well as of individuals.


Senator Arkins - There is an ordered social system in Russia now.


Senator BROWN - What has that to do with its present attitude?


Senator Arkins - The honorable senator said that a change in the world's social systems would eliminate wars, and I am reminding him that, although Russia has changed its system of government, it is now supporting the League.


Senator BROWN - Recently the Workers Weekly stated -

Should the demand for collective application of sanctions fail, and an imperialist war ensue, the conflict of Italian and British imperialism, the mass movement against war, and Fascism must be brought into action to change the imperial war into a war for the overthrow of capitalism.


Senator Arkins - Russia is supporting the League of Nations.


Senator BROWN - The Soviet Government is supporting this Government against Italy. The Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) this evening noted, with obvious pleasure, the fact that the Soviet has come into line. But although Russia is now supporting the League and this Government against Italy, its system of government is anathema to the imperialist nations within the League of Nations. It is anathema to Germany, and also to Italy.


The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the motion for the third reading of the bill.


Senator BROWN - I presume that, measures or regulations, similar to the provisions contained in this bill will be carried by France, Great Britain, and possibly, also by Soviet Russia, thus indicating a community of interest between these three great powers; but the effectiveness of sanctions about to be imposed against Italy is likely to be impaired by the antagonism between the system of government operating in Russia and the systems in Great Britain and France.







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