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Wednesday, 17 December 1941

Senator AMOUR (NEW SOUTH WALES) - He said that when the Minister was not present a 100 per cent, effort was not being obtained, but that is not a true statement. What a Minister can do in Melbourne he can also do in Canberra, Sydney or Brisbane. He is quite capable of doing his job on behalf of the people of Australia, irrespective of where his services may bc required for the time being.

Senator Follreferred to the statement by Mr. Churchill after the withdrawal from Dunkirk, and stated that Mr. Churchill had declared that, if the Germans landed in Britain, every town, village and street would be defended. Senator Foll went on to say that Australia would be defended in a similar manner if the enemy came to our shores. Yet he i3 prepared to see Australia denuded of its man-power in order that islands around Australia may be defended. My recollection of what Mr. Churchill said was that the British forces would defend Britain first, the trade routes second, the dominions third and the colonies fourth, and that if the colonies were lost they could be re-taken later. At the outbreak of the present war Senator Brand declared that Australia would never again be prepared to have its man-power depleted. At that time the Japanese had not entered the war, and Japan had not joined the Axis Powers. The late Mr. Street, formerly Minister for the Army, made a similar statement at a time when Japan had not entered the war, but to-day Japan is knocking at the door of Australia and we cannot prevent it. But we can defend Australia by having such a force in this country that will be capable of doing the job. Our men should be not only equipped, but they should have equipment of the best quality and in such quantity as is required. I should like to see the Australian Imperial Force brought back from Syria to Malaya. I should feel much more contented, and I believe that the people of Australia generally would feel much safer, if the Australian troops now in Syria were in Malaya. We have capable airmen and trained pilots who could be brought backto Australia for the purpose of operating machines in this country in order to defend our women and children. I should like to see those who have been sent to Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme brought back to Australia for a similar purpose. I am opposed to any man leaving Australia until such time as the British or American fleets, in cooperation, can stem the Japanese attack, and clear Malaya and the Philippines of the invaders, as well as drop a few bombs on Tokyo. Then Australia could review the position, but, until such time as we have driven the invaders back, Australians - men, women and children - should be protected.

Senator J B Hayes - Does not the honorable senator think that we should help to push them back?

Senator AMOUR - In defending an island which may mean nothing to Australia, we may lose Australia.

SenatorFoll. - The defence of some islands to the north of Australia may mean a lot to us.

Senator AMOUR - I am concerned with the defence of Australia. Too long has international capital controlled the world to its own advantage and the disadvantage of the people generally.

SenatorFoll. - We do not want the enemy to get bases near to Australia.

Senator AMOUR - I am concerned with protecting first the people of this country, just as the people of Great Britain are concerned primarily with their own safety. Why any member of this Parliament should say that the statement that Australian soldiers left this country without proper equipment is untrue, I cannot understand, because, unfortunately, it is true that Australian soldiers who fought in Libya, Greece and Crete did not have proper equipment. Surely no honorable senator feels proud of that record. We must ensure that no man will again leave Australia without proper equipment, and continuous supplies of food and equipment. Those on whom may fall the responsibility of defending our shores are entitled to the best equipment possible, and that is why we need order, not panic, in the community. Nothing is to be gained by having people running from place to place uncertain what to do next. We should see that our rural population continues to work in an orderly way until itis required for other purposes associated with the defence of the Commonwealth. Those responsible for maintaining our food supplies should be allowed to continue working in an orderly way. Indeed, every person in the community should be encouraged to carry on in his usual occupation until called up for service in the Army, or in some other capacity, and when called up he should know that he will be properly trained and given the maximum of protection. It is futile to put men into uniform unless they are supplied with rifles or other equipment.

The Government has done a good job in connexion with air raid precautions. In this connexion, I deprecate the statement attributed to Major-General Sir Thomas Blarney that the need for such precautions does not exist in Australia It is probable that a fortnight ago the people of Honolulu were of the same opinion as Sir Thomas Blarney. The Commonwealth Government has done well to provide against air raids. Order must he maintained in the community if Australia is not to be handed over to the Japanese nation.

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