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Thursday, 24 September 1936

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) . - I join with other honorable senators in congratulating Senator Abbott upon the energy and enthusiasm he has displayed in submitting this motion to the Senate. I am sure that the honorable senator is the last one to ignore history, which records that right down through the ages a common tongue has not prevented war. Many reforms, once considered impracticable, have since been adopted. We revere our own language and would resent any suggestion that it be taken from us. I do not know what would be done with prohibited migrants if the present multiplicity of languages were abolished, and a common tongue substituted. Under the language test the authorities could no longer prohibit migrants, such as Hen Kisch, from landing in Australia if my mother tongue were treated as a foreign and dead language. In Ireland to-day there is a strong movement to eschew the English language and to revert to the mother tongue of the Celt. There is no urgent necessity to adopt a common language; rather is there need to engage the nations in a discussion of its desirability. The Leader of the Senate has clearly indicated the attitude which would be adopted should a majority favour the motion. After all; we have at hand an instrument of potential peace, and whatever shocks that organization has received in the immediate past it is still the only definite instrument functioning in the interests of real world peace. Major nations may break away, return to the fold and break away again, but ' the whole structure is working in the interests of universal peace. I believe that the League of Nations will continue to function and extend its influence throughout the world. I do not doubt the sincerity of Senator Abbott in suggesting a method by which this motion should be placed before the world. Many races have a decided opposition to anything British. We wish to give this motion a reasonable chance of being carried, and to take steps towards bringing it to fruition without any suspicion of trying to introduce basic English. We should, therefore, be careful of the form in which the motion leaves this chamber. Those nations which are not now full members of the League still have representatives on many of its important committees. The Australian representative at the recent International Labour Conference at Geneva has just returned to this country. During his absence abroad he was in collaboration with representatives of the United States of America, Germany, Japan, and other countries which do not ally themselves with the principal policy of the League of Nations. It is not right to suggest that we should forward a resolution of this Senate to some weak-kneed organization not representative of the comity of nations. To obtain the best possible results from his long months of painstaking work, Senator Abbott should take steps to see that his motion is not presented to the world as the opinion of one single nation. The matter should be referred to the Assembly of the League of Nations; this neutral organization could arrange for the discussion, of the need for a. common language, which, I agree with Senator Abbott, if adopted, would go a long way towards bringing about universal peace. I submit that Senator Abbott would be well advised to have his efforts consummated through some neutral avenue which would be free from any suggestion of nationalistic prejudice; therefore, I move -

That paragraphs (2) and (3) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph: " (2) That the President of the Senate be requested to forward this resolution of the Senate to the League of Nations with a request that ft be referred to the Committee of the League on International Intellectual Cooperation for consideration."

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