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Wednesday, 17 December 1941

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - There are one or two features of Japan's attack upon the democracies which we must bear in mind.

A few years ago we witnessed an unprovoked attack by Japan upon Manchukuo. The Lytton Commission reported upon it; and one distinguished Chinese pundit said at the time that Japan's aggression on that occasion marked the beginning of a world war. How truly he spoke! Shortly afterwards we witnessed the violation of all international relations by Italy, now a partner in the Asis, in its conquest of Abyssinia. It was not hindered by the powers which stood for peace, and, for sinister reasons we are told, no effort was made in that direction by the League of Nations, which was charged with the preservation of international peace. I do -not know whether honorable senators have read Van Paassen's remarkable book, Days of Our Years, in which he discloses the absolute treachery and lack of morality in international affairs, except on the part of English-speaking nations, and a few of their allies. Can we envisage anything more terrible than the story which this author tells, and which has been confirmed, concerning the proposal by Goering to bomb Paris overnight by an air attack without warning? Let it be said to the credit of some people in Germany that they did not accept such a proposal as part of Germany's policy. But having destroyed all opposition in Germany, the Fuhrer interviewed Mussolini at Venice, and put the proposition to him, but it was rejected. Following that interview, Mussolini published in the Italian press a statement which was not nattering to his present ally. But what was the national morality of Italy in that regard? Certainly Italy refused to be a party to the bombing of Paris, but its action on that occasion was the price of Laval's treachery to Great Britain and Abyssinia, and his refusal to give to Britain the use of the French Mediterranean and West African bases to enable us to keep Italy in check. One can realize how Italy was influenced by that refusal. That was the beginning of the present war. Wo have seen the rape of Czechoslovakia and Poland; country after country has become dominated by German force. We have seen valiant peoples crumble under the heel of this European dictator; but now, at last, he is confronted with a power which is likely to begin his overthrow. The British Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill) said that in a ttacking Russia Hitler made one of his greatest mistakes; but i3 that so? Had he waited longer, would things have been any better for him? Only too well did he know what was going on in Russia. After the last war Germany built up armed forces in Russia in contravention of the Versailles Treaty. It was in Russia that the great Krupp armament works operated when we could find no trace of arms production in Germany; it was in Russia that the vast Essen interests began to build up the mighty mechanized organization that it is to-day. Russia knew better than the British Secret Service what Germany was doing, and so Russia prepared, and knowing the intensity of Russian preparations, Hitler accelerated Germany's plans. He feared the might of Russia, and so he struck. Mr. Churchill said that he struck foolishly, but I think that he struck because he feared the immense preparations that were being carried out by the Russian people. Then, when disaster overtook the German forces in Russia, Hitler and his confederate, Mussolini, dragged into this world conflagration a neighbouring nation of ours - a nation which America stirred into the first activities of civilization; a nation that was happy and contented within itself; a nation which Captain Perry said would come under the heavy barrage of guns unless it came out from its seclusion and traded with the world; a nation which has turned out to be extraordinarily fertile in various regards, and amazingly capable of living under conditions which we are unable to live under; a nation which has done well in commerce, and manufacture; and one which permeated into the highest civilizations of Europe and joined the League of Nations. Unfortunately, it was also a nation with territorial ambitions. The second point to which I should like to draw the attention of honorable senators is this: Every propaganda technique which the Central European Axis partners pioneered - protests against alleged encirclement, demands for living space, and suggestions of imminent attack by imaginary foes - has been exploited to the

I'u I i by the Japanese. Japan lias also copied another technique which has been used successfully by Germany in every var in which that country has been engaged in recent years - namely, the technique of fighting its battles in other countries. Last week Japan launched out and struck hard while u message from President Roosevelt was in transit to the Emperor of Japan. The Japanese attacked fan wise; they struck at America, the British Empire and the Netherlands East Indies, in such a manner as to keep the war out of its own country. Fortunately, for Japan, the war in China had reached such a stage that bases were available for launching these attacks to the south. Vet even in the face of these happeningsome people in this country are inclined to regard with complacency the possibility of fighting of our battles at Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Fremantle. Every nation which realizes the devastating effect of war is endeavouring to keep the conflict inside the boundaries of other countries. France was devastated during the last war; Palestine was a battleground and Gallipoli was a battleground - all well away from the German borders. Some of the statements made by Senator Sampson to-day seemed to indicate that many of us have lost sight of the imperative necessity to keep war away from our shores. To-day, we who have been living under the sheltering arm of Great Britain are threatened. It was for our safety that Britain established, at tremendous cost, the vast Singapore naval base and fortifications, which, I venture to suggest, will withstand all attacks by Japan. No doubt, having regard to the feelings of the people of this country, Britain despatched its latest battleship, Prince of Wales and a formidable battle cruiser, the Repulse, to our northern waters. Unfortunately, as is often the case with the British race, risks were taken with those ships, and they were lost. I read with admiration, the statement by Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, in regard to the risk he was taking of being bombed by suicide squads of Japanese airmen. On one occasion when I was discussing with a certain gentleman bow useless aeroplanes were against pro- perly armed and air-escorted battleships, I was told that a battleship would be dealt with by hundreds of aircraft dropping heavy bombs on all the vital parts of the vessel. The gentleman with whom 1 was discussing the matter is a very gallant Australian who has proved himself a capable aviator. He was in charge of the Centaurus, the first big flying boat to come to this country. I asked him how many planes used in such a way against a battleship would return, and he said, " None ". I suggested to him he was visualizing suicide squads, and he replied that that was exactly what he ha-l in mind. The Japanese philosophy in regard to after-life makes it easy indeed for them to engage in such hazardous tasks. While they may not be as great fighters as the British, French, Dutch and Germans, in the hope of future enchantment they go to their doom with great cheerfulness. I can well understand the apprehension which Admiral Sir Tom Phillips felt when he ventured into the waters in which he eventually lost his ship. On, or two honorable senators opposite have become a little hot under the collar about observations made by Senator Sampson, but I appeal to them to be tolerant. Those of us who have been in the Senate for a number of years know Senator Sampson well. In season and out of season, hp has advocated the need for preparedness in this country. He spoke with all possible sincerity, and even in the mid.?i of our gravest financial worries, hp begged and prayed of the Government of the day not to undo a great deal of the preparatory and educational defence work which had already been accomplished in this country. To-day, Senator Sampson spoke with his usual sincerity and earnestness, and I urge honorable senators who may not know him as well as I do to endeavour to understand him. I assure them that his statements to-day were the same as those which he has been making ever since I came into this chamber fifteen or sixteen years ago. They are sound sentiments; he believes that the first line of defence of this country is beyond our shores. Should anything befall the Netherlands East Indies, what hope have we in this country? Our oil supplies have already been considerably reduced, but if our source of supply in the Netherlands East Indies were to he cut off, we should be in a perilous state.

SenatorCourtice. -We would still fight; we would have to.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I have no doubt that the honorable senator is a man of courage, but has he ever studied this problem? Has he ever thought that we are merely a nation of 7,000,000 people? Has he ever considered how many men we could actually put into the field here to look after our thousands of miles of coastline? No doubt, we should be able to give a good account of ourselves, but is the honorable senator aware that in the absence of opposing sea power, Japan landed 1,500,000 men in China within three weeks of the launching of the attack upon that country several years ago? Honorable senators must face the facts. I do not wish tobe an alarmist. I believe that with the great American republic with us, and with the valuable support of the Netherlands East Indies, a staunch and capable ally equipped better than most of us imagine, the time has come for us to assert ourselves in the Pacific. Do not let us delude ourselves. Once our chain of defences in the north is broken, and perhaps our neighbouring dominion of New Zealand with its 1,500,000 people is under the domination of Japan, do not let us imagine for a moment that our shores can remain inviolate. Our air Force and our Navy, such as it is, will no doubt give a wonderful account of themselves. Our fighting men are as gallant and our people are as true as their forebears in Great Britain have proved themselves to be, but it is a question of numbers and of where we shall draw our supplies. The Government is perturbed about the petrol restrictions,but this precaution has become necessary in the interest of Australia's defence. I am not criticizing anybody, but the position is so clear that we should not hesitate to fight the enemy on the blue waters of the Pacific as far away from Australia as possible. We should not permit the enemy to obtain a footing in New Zealand, which is as rich throughout the whole length of that dominion as the most fertile parts of Australia. Another possible base which should not be allowed to fall into the hands of an invader is Timor, which is about 300 miles, as the crow flies, from the most northern part of Australia. Imagine that island in the hands of a foe equipped with supplies of oil and petrol from the Netherlands East Indies ! The battle of the Pacific must be fought in the neighbourhood of Australia. I appreciate the full and frank ministerial statement that has been made upon the i n tern ati onal si tua ti on .

SenatorCourtice. - We have discussed almost everything except those papers.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The white papers are technical in character, but I commended to honorable senators, as a document worth reading, the despatch transmitted by President Roosevelt to the Emperor of Japan.

On the motion for the adjournment of the Senate yesterday, Senator Foll referred to certain newspaper comments regarding the war situation. Surely that, is a matter for the taste of the newspapers themselves, but, in certain evening newspapers published in at least two capital cities, there have been comments designed to give the impression that the information has come from ministerial heads, and that officials in high military positions are shortly to be displaced.

Senator Ashley - Has not the honorable senator read of similar happenings in England ?

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yes ; I do not blame the Government, but I contend that such criticism should cease. If the Government considers that certain officers are too old for their jobs it should take appropriate action, but it is subversive of all discipline that rumours of the kind to which I have referred should he published in the press. Such statements make the officials concerned uneasy in their work because they wonder when the axe will fall. If the services of these officials ought to be dispensed with, there will be no criticism from me when they are discharged, but they should not bo left in a state of suspense for weeks.

I deplore the entry of Japan into the war. I had hoped that that country would have had the good sense not to embark on a venture which I believe will prove to be its undoing. I thought that the relations between Japan and Great Britain during the last war would have deterred that country from taking up arms against its former allies; but, unfortunately, national morality seems to be a thing of the past. I have had no illusions in that regard since 1914, when the solemn agreement between .Germany and Belgium was referred to as a scrap of paper. The action of Japan is only in keeping with what Hitler did after the Munich Conference. I hare no doubt that our democratic .allies will stand fast by their bond, for that is the only hope for civilization. What higher duty can a country have than to keep its covenants with its neighbours? The results of this war in blood, tears, famine and disease are such that civilization has been put back centuries. In all sincerity, I say that we should not trust our enemies in future.

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