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Thursday, 21 August 1941

Senator SPICER (Victoria) .- The issue to which this debate is now reduced falls into a very small compass. It seems to me worth -while emphasizing, first of all, what are the things upon which every member of this Senate agrees. We all agree with the view of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that it is desirable at this time that the voice of Australia should be heard in the council chamber of the Empire. I reach that conclusion because of the terms of the resolution passed by the Labour party. The second portion of the resolution acquiesced in the view that a case had been made for representation of Australia in London, and I take it that the members of the Labour party believe that that state of affairs should be brought about as soon as possible. The simple position is that there is only one practical way open to-day to achieve the object which the Labour party, in common with every other party, believes should be attained. The facts are that a Prime Minister of a dominion visiting London is entitled to take part in the deliberations of the British War Cabinet, and that there is no representative of Australia or of any other dominion who to-day is entitled to take part in those deliberations. We do not seek to get this representation six or twelve months hence. That would be of no use to us at all. The points on which we desire our voice to be heard are current matters, in which conditions and circumstances are changing from day to day. They are matters which are vital to the safety and future of this country. That being so, it seems to me to be thoroughly impractical to suggest that we should not send the only person who could make his voice heard there, but that we should engage in a long and, for all we know, unsuccessful effort to bring about an alteration of the constitution of the British

War Cabinet which would enable us to have somebody other than the Prime Minister there. Why? Partly to satisfy some fetish that the place for the Prime Minister is in Australia. Why in the name of goodness must we tie the activities of the Prime Minister to the continent of Australia?

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.

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