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Thursday, 24 September 1936


Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - On the two occasions on which this motion has been debated, some fine speeches have been made for and against it; but I am not nearly so sanguine as to the results which would attend an international conference on the subject of a universal language, as some honorable senators appear to be. I see many difficulties in the way. Perhaps I have not the profound respect for philosophers, professors and scientific men I should have, and I am inclined to support Senator Arkins's view, that anything that is to be of any use in this world needs a mixture of the academic and the practical. I am reminded of the story of a man in America who, when opening a hide and skin store, decided as a novel advertisement to place calves' tails through two or three holes over the front door of his store. On the following morning he found a man gazing with interest at the sight, and asked him if he were interested in the nature of the business, and if he were a farmer. " No," replied the man, "I am a philosopher, and I am wondering how the calves got through those holes." We sometimes are prone to forget the practical while speculating on theories - to soar above earthly levels in seeking to attain the almost unattainable. In my opinion, a universal language would not be an effective contribution towards the peace of the world. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) cited wars which have occurred between peoples who speak the one tongue. He instanced the American civil war, and the civil war which is raging to-day in Spain, and he might have cited, also, the French revolution. I am informed on the best of authority that Great Britain is controlling India to-day almost entirely through the hatred which exists between the two main castes of Indian people. Each caste is always prepared to support the Government against the other, and this enables a handful of Englishmen in the garrisons to control the vast Indian empire. If honorable senators require another example of the fact that a common language does not make for peace, it is provided by Ireland. The Irishmen speak but one language, but internal peace and brotherhood are by no means assured in their land. It has been stated in this chamber that a universal language would enable the doctrine of international peace to be disseminated by wireless broadcasting. I was struck by the remarks of Senator Millen when he very forcibly pointed out that not only could a universal language be employed for broadcasting messages of peace and goodwill, but also for purposes of the very opposite nature. Furthermore, the existing methods of broadcasting programmes would have to be revolutionized. In Australia to-day broadcasting provides nothing for the man outback who really needs it, except ten or fifteen minutes of news each day; beyond that, most of the matter which is broadcast comes from gramophone records. The Leader of the Senate declared that, if earned, in its original form, the motion would have to come back to this chamber before it reached its final destination. I have no reason to doubt that, but the Senate has been assured by Senator Abbott that this motion could be despatched directly to the King. Of course, we would have no control of its course subsequently. The fact should be remembered, that efforts to establish a universal language have been made before and have failed.


Senator Collings - Where? What we are pressing for to-night has never been tried.


Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Esperanto and basic English are examples of the failure of similar movemen ts. It is sometimes wise, if you fail at first, to try again, and, as I am sincere in my desire to do everything possible towards the maintenance of world peace, I am prepared to support the motion.







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