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Friday, 25 June 1937

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - -I have very little to say in respect of this document. It represents more or less a method of conveying information to honorable senators, and contains quite a deal of informative matter; for that reason, we are glad to have it. It i3 desirable that these conferences be held, and that Australia be represented at them, for we should do everything in our power to support the League. Probably I shall have an opportunity on some future occasion to deal more fully with that phase of the matter. The speech of the Right Honorable S. M. Bruce at the 17th Assembly of the League of Nations on 29th September, 1936, which is published in Appendix D. of the report, is worthy of more than passing notice; it is an admirable address, and I recommend it particularly to the attention of the Government. In the course of his remarks, Mr. Bruce said -

It is urged in some quarters that, unless the existing practice is abandoned in favour of the literal interpretation .of obligations, certain nations will take advantage of that freedom to refuse co-operation. That view I challenge, because I suggest it takes no account of the greatest potential' force in the world to-day, namely, the will to peace of the great mass of ordinary men and women in every country. In the minds of a large proportion of the populations of the world are vivid recollections of the horrors of the Great War. They remember how, in that ghastly cataclysm, the use of modern weapons a┬░dded to the barbarity of war. Nowadays, through the media of the press, the cinema and other methods of modern publicity, the world is learning bow the discoveries of science are 6till further adding to the horrors and terrors of war. As a result, there is, in most countries to-day, such a detestation of war as to create an almost incalculable force of public opinion which demands that the League shall not be allowed to fail, that temporary failure, though severe; shall be converted into an opportunity for the re-adaptation of League machinery so that it may become more effective in the preservation of world peace.

The strength and pressure of that world public opinion, to which I have referred, will grow progressively in force and will, in the last resort, compel statesmen to act with justice and righteousness whenever the issue is that of the maintenance of world peace or the restraint of an aggressor.

I impress upon the Government that it cannot afford to ignore that statement. Included among the allies of this Government, along with a section of the press,, are many who are victims of a war hysteria, which is merely a psychological reaction to all that is going on in the world to-day. In support of Mr. Bruce's remarks, I wish to impress upon the Government that we in this Parliament should recognize that the peoples, not the governments, of the world do not want war and do not want any of us to do any of those things which would ultimately lead to war. Other remarks made by Mr. Bruce in concluding his speech also are worthy of the most careful attention of the Government -

It is almost impossible tr> exaggerate the possibilities for the improvement of the world's standard of living and of comfort, of culture and even of leisure, that the achievement of mankind in the fields of science have made possible.

That is the plea which I have made consistently on behalf of the Opposition in this chamber, and I wish that the Government would thoroughly digest that very pregnant statement by Mr. Bruce. He continued -

It is our duty to ensure by co-operative action that these possibilities shall be opened up to the people of all nations.

The nutrition campaign launched at last year's Assembly is a step in the right direction, but we should regard it as a spear point of a movement to substitute for the policy of restriction of production, the wiser one of increased consumption.

Coming from Mr. Bruce, that statement is most noteworthy. It represents all that the Opposition has ever pleaded for in this connexion. We urge the Government to concentrate on the fact that it is essential to increase the consumption of our goods; the demand is there if only the consumers can be enabled to secure the wherewithal to purchase them. I wish, the members of the Cabinet, particularly, would take notice of the fact that Mr.

Bruce is not now in the hurly burly of political controversy, and, therefore, is perfectly free to express opinions which in the circumstances existing earlier in his political career, he would not have expressed on the floor of the Parliament. 1 shall preserve his speech, and probably resurrect it on numerous appropriate occasions in the future; it is indeed worthy of the most careful study.

Debate (on motion of SenatorFoll) adjourned.

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