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Thursday, 18 September 1941

Senator COLLINGS (QueenslandLeader of the Opposition) . - It has been frequently said that one of the difficulties of the Opposition arises from the fact that it is expected to oppose every proposal submitted by the Government. I have never conceived it to be my duty to adopt that policy invariably, and my brief remarks on this motion will be offered, not for opposition's sake, but because, in my opinion, I am called upon to discuss the statement presented by the Minister (Senator McBride). Although I do not wish to be unkind to the

Minister, who was faced with the duty of reading the statement prepared for him, I do not think I can be accused of using extravagant language when I say that there was little of value to any of us in the statement. Practically everything in it had already been read by us in the press. It contained certain comments, which, of course, we could not have read, .but those were merely comments by officials. It seems to me that the statement would not have been presented to us except for the fact that the Government had no other business to place , before the Senate. I do not object to Parliament being called together, because it had decided to reassemble not later than the 17th September, but the Government should see that we have work to do when we meet.

I was delighted, as I am sure every other member of the Opposition was, to notice that Australia is extending its reciprocal diplomatic and trade relations with other countries. That is one of the most gratifying developments in connexion with the national Parliament in recent years. I welcome the fact because I have always held the opinion that along that pathway lies an immediate better understanding of other countries and their problems, as well as a better understanding on their part of us and our problems. Ultimately, the extension of our friendly relations will result, I believe, in such a wide acceptance of the principles of democracy and democratic institutions that we sha.ll approach nearer than ever to a state of universal brotherhood, and eventually achieve the complete outlawry of war.

I was interested in some of the remarks of the Minister regarding our relations with Russia. I was pleased to note the admirable references to the remarkable fight that Russia is putting up against the common enemy. .We all hope that its efforts, together with those of Great Britain and the great republic of the United States of America, as well as the other countries that are holding out in the hope of being able to render some assistance to the cause of the democracies, will be crowned with success. Our great need at the moment is additional allies. We should not imagine that, because a country may hold a certain political faith, it cannot render assistance to our cause. We in Australia stand for the British and democratic way of life, but we have no right to criticize another country's way of life merely because it happens to differ from our own. I hope that ere long we shall see consular representatives of Russia in Australia, and that Australia will be similarly represented in Russia. We should do all we possibly can to promote friendly relations with the people of Russia, and with any other country that is prepared to join the democratic cause. While the present Government remains in office it should not attempt to fill in gaps by the introduction of statements of this kind which can be of no real value to the country. As far as the hurly-burly of politics permits, the Government should arrange that, when the Parliament is called together, business is placed before it.

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