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Wednesday, 9 September 1942

Sir EARLE PAGE (Cowper) .- I wish to thank honorable members for the warmth of the welcome which they have extended to me upon my return from overseas, and for their kindness during my recent illness. It was almost worthwhile being ill to find that I had so many friends. Especially, I should like to thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) for his consideration and help which enabled me to carry out fully the instruction of my doctor, otherwise I should not have been so well as I am to-day.

My mission abroad had a dual objective^ - to secure aid for Australia and the Pacific area generally, and to secure an effective voice in British war policy in the making. Both of these objectives have been realized, and, of course, they are co-related. Obviously, if an effective voice in British war policy .be secured, aid will .be obtained if there be any source of supply. The circumstances of my mission are well known. I was commissioned by the Fadden Government which subsequently was defeated, but my charter was continued by the present Administration. Before I left Australia I was assisted by many people whose overseas experience enabled them to offer valuable advice. I refer especially to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), the Secretary of the Department of Defence Co-ordination (Mr. Shedden) and the Chiefs of Staff. I trust that I return to Australia enjoying the confidence of this Government just as I had its support while I was away, and I am pleased to accept the Prime Minister's invitation to make my experience and knowledge available to the Government and the people of Australia by attending meetings of the Advisory War Council and of the War Cabinet.

The danger to Australia is still very real and very close. Skilled planning is necessary, and there will be desperate fighting before victory is secured. For that reason we need every ounce of experience and co-operation that is obtainable. In order to see the whole war problem in its proper perspective, and to be fully acquainted with the latest information, I visited the key points of Pacific strategy on my way to London. On the return journey I took a different route, and therefore was able to visit places which I missed on my journey over. In the course of those two voyages, I think that I can say, I saw every place that really matters in Pacific war strategy. I discussed our joint problems with President Roosevelt, with the Government of the United States of America and Chiefs of Staff, and with the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. MacKenzie King. While in London I was privileged to work for many months with the British Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, and his advisers, and in addition, I had valuable contacts with the leaders of many countries which are still fighting with the United Nations, such as Norway, Belgium, Holland and Greece. Here I should like to state that the world is fortunate indeed in having Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt as the war leaders of the two great Englishspeaking nations which are fighting for the democracies of the whole world.' Though they are optimists, they are also realists. They are convinced that they cannot possibly be defeated, but at the same time they see all the difficulties in the way of ultimate victory, and are always ready to take every practical step to ensure that victory. Between them there is a whole-hearted friendship and a spirit of willing co-operation which enables them to overcome difficulties which otherwise might be insurmountable. In addition they are in close contact with the Russian leader, M. Stalin, and the Chinese leader, General Chiang Kai-shek.

Upon my arrival in Great Britain, I waa faced with three immediate problems. The (first was to ascertain the views of the British War Cabinet and the British Foreign Office in regard to the imminence of war with Japan. The second was to find out what aid could be secured from Britain should a conflict in the Pacific he imminent. That question was of paramount importance and urgency so far as Australia was concerned. The third problem was to ascertain the position regarding what might be called mechanics of conducting the war - how could Australia best influence strategy and ensure the supplies necessary to carry out that strategy in a struggle which undoubtedly would be waged on our own shores, in our own waters, and in the .air above us. In regard to the first problem, I found a general recognition in Britain of the danger in the Far East, but at that time the Libyan position was extremely grave. The 'battle had just been joined with the Axis forces, and it was absorbing almost all of Britain's resources, both in munitions and ships, after giving the fullest aid to Russia. Britain therefore had to take some chances in the Far East, and had to recognize that the master strokes of diplomacy in that area lay in the hands of President Roosevelt and not in those of Mr. Churchill. Britain was already fully occupied with its European, Atlantic and Mediterranean commitments, and could not deal successfully with the Pacific as well, without the whole-hearted support of the United States of America. Britain therefore was quite willing that President Roosevelt and Mr. Cordell Hull should assume the diplomatic initiative in the Far East, and the final responsibility for maintaining peace while they prepared their nation for war. The outcome, as honorable members are aware, was the treacherous, but suicidal attack upon

Pearl Harbour by the Japanese, carried out at the very moment when their envoys were purporting to be engaged in peace negotiations with the United States of America. The effect of that attack was to bring America into the war 100 per cent. Had the Japanese attacked Singapore, or the Dutch East Indies, without touching American possessions, no doubt America would have come into the war, but much more slowly. The Pearl Harbour attack transformed the position overnight, and the whole American nation was welded into one solid fighting mass. In regard to the second problem, namely, that of ascertaining what aid Britain could render to Australia and the Far East generally should Japan enter the war, I found thai although undoubtedly some mistakes had been made, the aid available for the Pacific theatre was governed largely by circumstances attendant upon the fall of France. During the previous year Britain had had to stand up to the fall of France, the Battle for Britain, the deteriorating position in Europe generally, aid to Russia, and increasing danger in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately by that time the battle fleet destined for Singapore had been half crippled and, worst of all, the aircraft carriers had been damaged. Two months before the outbreak of the war with Japan, Britain had sent that part of the fleet which was in good order, including the Prince of Wales and the Repulse, to take up positions at Singapore, but it had to go without aircraft carriers because no aircraft carriers were available. Britain had planned that if Japan should enter the war, equipment should be moved forward immediately to reinforce the forces at Singapore, even if it had to be taken from the battle line in Libya, or from Home Forces in Great Britain.

Looking back now, it is obvious thai Japanese air strength was greatly underestimated. There was an insufficient recognition also, at the time, of the importance of air power and, especially, of its importance in association with attacking naval power. The aircraft carrier which was intended to accompany tinbattleships was damaged as it was leaving the Mediterranean, and unfortunately land-based fighter planes from the Middle East and Europe could not be made available except by ship, which would have meant a delay of many weeks.

I immediately asked, however, that everything .should be made ready for immediate action if Japan should strike. As we now know, the entire strategy of the war, not only in the Pacific, but also elsewhere, has been revolutionized by the proved dominance of air power as shown by the loss of the Prince of Wales and the Repulse in Malayan waters.

Australia's first line of defence has always been visualized by the British High Command, and also by the Australian High 'Command in the terms of the defence of Singapore and the Malayan 'barrier. The first consideration, consequently, in providing aid for Australia, was not necessarily the placing of men and equipment in Australia, but the stopping of the Japanese before they could invade this country. The order of priority had always been, first Singapore, then Burma, in order to keep the Burma road open, so that China could remain a fighting force, and, next, the Dutch East Indies with Australia and Ceylon in that order. Australia recognized this priority in a practical way by sending its own troops to Singapore and the Netherlands East Indies, and la tei- to Ceylon. .That was the picture as seen by the strategists.

Immediately' Japan entered the war Mr. .Churchill offered to release all Australian t>roop3 unconditionally to defend this country if the Australian Government thought that they were needed here. Moreover, when the capital ships were sunk, other aid was immediately given to Australia by Great Britain. Every avenue was searched to find ways and means to help the Far Eastern position and, particularly, Australia. Air-force units and military strength were at once set moving towards this theatre of war. All possible effort was made also to send munitions here.

Very shortly after the Pacific became an active theatre of war the impossibility of directing all active service operations in the various war theatres from one cent-re became obvious. Consequently,

Mr. Churchillarranged with President Roosevelt for the division of the control of the war into compartments in such a way as to ensure effective action. After full discussion these two leaders agreed that there should bethree divisions, the object being partly to ensure that the United States of America, which was nearest to Australia, and an important supplier of equipment to this country, should become primarily responsible for assistance to us with, troops and equipment. The three zoneswere set out in broad terms. First, there was the Atlantic zone, which was to be the joint responsibility of the United States of America and Great Britain; secondly, there was the European, the Middle East, Indian and the Indian Ocean zone, which was to be Britain's primary responsibility; and, thirdly, there was the Far Eastern, Pacific, Australian and New Zealand zone, which was under the ChiefsofStaff at Washington and was primarily America's responsibility. In addition to this, Great Britain and the United States of America agreed to pool all their resources everywhere and for all purposes. Although the divisions to which I have referred were effected, Mr. Churchill made it clear that Great Britain recognized its obligation to do everything possible, and to make every sacrifice necessary, to ensure the safety of this country. The consequence was that men and material began to be transported, and machines began to fly, to Australia from the United States of America. An agreement was made also that certain Australian troops were to stay at the battle stations where they were defending the Russian flank and oilwells, and also giving time to provide British troops for reinforcements in Ceylon and India. This procedure conserved shipping and kept veterans at fighting points.

At the same time the Government took steps to ensure that the voice of Australia would be effectively heard in the war councils overseas. It was largely owing to the attitude of the Commonwealth Government that the Pacific War Council was established. By means of that council all governments concerned are able to have a voice in relation to operations in the various battle areas. The council met first in London, but since then it has met at different times at both Washington and London. By this means various commands, such as the A.B.D.A. area and the South-west Pacific, were brought into being.

While this was being done, other steps were taken to meet the equipment situation at Singapore. I do not intend to deal in detail with that aspect of the subject at the moment, for I understand that I am to be given another opportunity to talk to honorable members on this phase of the war. I think, however, that I can say publicly, without taking any risks, that it is a mistake to assume that Singapore was lost through lack of men. It was really lost through the carrying out of a faulty plan of campaign. If there is one thing we need to learn in connexion with that campaign it is that we must not make a similar mistake elsewhere.

My third problem was to ascertain the true position in relation to what I call the .mechanics of conducting the war, in order to suggest how Australia could influence strategy and secure supplies. When I arrived in London I found that there was a notable lack of information - particularly up-to-date information - such as was necessary to make any kind of sound judgment. Information could always be obtained at the meeting of the War Cabinet, but that was too late to counter argument or alter decisions of the Chiefs of Staff. At once I tried various methods to supply this deficiency and in these endeavours I had the complete collaboration of Mr. Bruce. During the whole of the time I was in Great Britain Mr. Bruce placed his great experience at my service and collaborated with me in every possible way. When I found that one method to supply the deficiency failed, I at once tried another. The seething international position was such as to make this possible, because, if one method failed one day, there would sure to be a crisis in the next day or two, during which another method could be tried. Under these conditions different procedures were practicable almost day after day. The result was that by the time Japan entered the war I had worked out, in full collaboration with Mr. Bruce, a method by which Australia could influence policy. This method was founded on three principles : First, that the Commonwealth Government should have a full knowledge of all essential facts, developments and trends of policy; secondly, that it should obtain this knowledge in time to express its view before decisions were taken; and, thirdly, that it should have the opportunity, through its accredited representative, to present to and discuss with the Wai' Cabinet, and also with such important committees as the Defence Committee, and with the Prime Minister and other senior Ministers, any suggestions concerning new policy or views on policy under consideration which it might, from time to time, desire to submit. The machinery to ensure this desired end was partly British, partly Australian, and partly joint British and Australian. We had always maintained that the Dominion Secretary should be a senior Minister of the British Government. In war-time, and particularly during a war of the magnitude of this one, it would be hardly practicable for the Prime Minister himself to fill the office, but I aim glad to say that the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee, who is the Leader of the British Labour party, is now filling the office of Dominion Secretary, and is a permanent member of the War Cabinet. In the second place, we suggested that Australia should have an accredited representative at the War Cabinet and on the Defence Committee, with all rights excepting the right to vote. The right to vote, of course, was one for which we could not ask in a British War Cabinet, which is, after all, finally responsible to the House of Commons. But in all Cabinet meetings, matters are not determined by votes, but by expressions of opinion, and there must be general agreement on most matters of policy. Consequently, Australia did not suffer to any great degree because it did not have a vote. The important thing is to have a voice, and, most important of all, the accredited representative should be fully informed at the War Cabinet meeting to ensure that he would be able to argue his case in the best possible way.

He should have a complete picture hefore him, and at the same time should be as well informed as the British Ministers are.

So we proceeded to bring into existence a joint British and Australian organization, and, in order to enable honorable members more readily to understand how that organization works, I shall describe the characteristics of the British War Cabinet Secretariat and the Defence Committee. I think that 400 or 500 years have elapsed since Britain has been actually invaded, and throughout that period all expeditionary forces have been joint forces. The Army must be carried overseas by the Navy. Consequently, before the advent of air power, there was always some definite collaboration between the services. When there were only two services that was a comparatively easy job; but in Great Britain during the last war, the Air Force was established as a separate force. As that force grew, a few years' experience showed that it was necessary to have some other organization, which brought the Air Force into constant planning activity with the Navy and the Army. As the result of that, a joint planning committee of the three services was brought into being in 1923 and that committee was responsible to the Committee of Imperial Defence, on which the Dominions had a voice. When war broke out, the Committee of Imperial Defence was replaced by the British War Cabinet. The War Cabinet had multifarious duties to perform, and it handed over the actual conduct of the war to a Defence Committee, consisting of the British Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Service Ministers, the Minister of Supply and the Chiefs of Staff. That body differed from the Committee of - Imperial Defence, in that it not merely discussed matters, but was able also to make decisions and act on them immediately. Certain of its recommendations went to the British War Cabinet, but many of its decisions were of such a nature that they had to be acted on immediately, and the Defence Committee had that executive power. In order to ensure that it would be a hie to make those decisions on a right basis, it established an organiza tion called the Joint Planning Staff, which was composed of four sections. One section dealt with the executive planning of the war itself, another with the planning of the future of the war, and a third section devoted itself entirely to studying the war from the point of view of the enemy, and trying to find out what the enemy was thinking. The fourth section was a Joint Intelligence Committee. These bodies were linked together by the Directors of Plans. These sections were not isolated bodies, 'but the Directors of Plans were constituent members of the Joint Planning Staff and were drawn from all the fighting services. My plan was to put men into these organizations at different planes - first before anything went on paper, then at the planning stage, then in a body that considered the plans. These men not merely influenced their respective opposite numbers, but kept the accredited representative in constant touch with everything that was done. The representative also gives his advice to them in their work, in which he was fortified by a small chiefs of staff committee consisting of the senior officers of the various Australian services in London. This settled most of the questions that had previously .been in conflict at lower levels, so that they did not come up to the Defence Committee but had been resolved by mutual agreement in the various stages.

Strategy in the last analysis, however, is determined by supplies, used in the wider sense - ships, aeroplanes, guns, tanks, food, ammunition, &c. It is essential there should be co-ordinated effort in that regard. When I arrived in London the position of supply was very difficult and confused. There were many isolated efforts to get results, one man trying to get aircraft, another machine tools, another munitions. Many matters had reached a dead end. Some were held up because the items had not been brought into existence. Some were held up because of the lack of precise description of the size and type of the tool needed by Australia. .Some were held up because the Board of Trade did not get export licences to enable them to be sent out because it was said that they were needed in Britain. Some were held up by departments like Aircraft Construction, Supply, and the Admiralty, who said they needed them much more urgently for their own job than Australia did. Co-ordination was obviously very necessary. Each department had a good picture of what it needed itself, but there was no central point of contact to ascertain whether machine tools could not have been better distributed in Britain, thereby making so]ne available that could be used in Australia. I immediately discussed the whole matter with Sir Andrew Duncan, President of the Board of Trade, who had been Minister of Supply. ' 'He asked for a list of the most 'Urgent outstanding cases and went into them personally, and inside a month he had given consent to export licences being given to practically all. Obviously some machinery was needed that would be automatic in bringing together both the Australian and English controllers of production and in ensuring that we did the best we could as a whole amongst ourselves.

At the instigation of the British Ministry of Supply, we had established the Eastern Group Supply Council, which had done valuable work in apportioning between India, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia the manufacture and supply of the various goods that were needed. But the work in these countries was frequently held up by the fact that some small but indispensable, part of equipment for the factories could not be obtained from Britain, either because of the Board of Trade banning its export or because of the Department of Supply not being willing to hand it over or to order its manufacture. The absence of a British representative on the Eastern Group Supply Council was seriously felt because it caused British ignorance of the position as a whole. Our talks had well progressed as to what ought to be done to correct this when Japan came into the war. The agreement then made by President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill to pool supplies of munitions, raw materials, shipping, machine tools, &c, gave an opportunity to perfect a mutually satisfactory scheme of Empire cooperation. The working of this pooling agreement of supplies rendered imperative the creation of an Empire clearing house to adjust and state the position of the various parts of the Empire. These agreements to place the entire resources of Great Britain and the United States into a common pool and to place their control under joint Anglo-American chairmanship may be found to be the real turning point of the Avar. The theory of assignment is that the entire production of Great Britain and the United States of America is pooled and divided among the United Nations in accordance with strategic needs. lt is not possible to make a division by a single board. The assignment can be done only on complete information- about the operational situation in the various theatres of wai-, the state and equipment of the troops, and the requirements for training. To gather this mass of information into one centre would not only require the setting up of a very large staff which would be largely duplicated in the work of the service departments in their home country, but would also mean a vast amount of cabling of details. Geography, therefore, decides that the work must be done by two boards - one in Washington and one in London. The two boards work in parallel. The Washington board assigns that portion of the total pool produced in the United States of America, and the London hoard assigns the British production. The whole of the 40 claimants are divided into two groups - the British group and the American group. The members of the British Empire and the European Allies fall naturally into the British group. They are equipped almost entirely with British types of military equipment, and the closeness of their association with the British forces makes full details of their requirements readily available in London, and the whole of their circumstances and needs can best bt, assessed there. The requirements of the whole British group are thus ascertained in London, and as far as possible they are satisfied, by assignments made by the London board from British production. The surplus requirements which cannot be met in this way are submitted by the British representatives in Washington to the Washington board, where they are considered alongside the requirements of the American group. If desired, any member of the British group can instruct its representatives in Washington to attend the meetings at which its requirements are being dealt with and to reinforce the arguments put forward on their behalf by the British representatives. The Washington Assignment Board makes a bulk assignment to the British group. This bulk assignment is then allocated amongst the members of the group by the board in London.

Throughout the whole process the criterion is the strategic need as assessed in accordance with instructions issued by the combined Chiefs of Staff who give rulings on strategic priority. At the same time the civilian chairman imparts to the board any relevant information as to the policy of the British and United States Governments as affecting the issue. If a satisfactory settlement could not be reached by the board, the matter would in the last resort be referred to the Prime Minister and President for decision. It could be seen from this how useful the Empire clearing houses are in covering supplies from the Empire and putting up the needs of the Empire, and enabling the British position to be dealt with through one channel. The supply contacts are at different levels, just as in planning strategy. But we must do more than deal with the assets actually in existence. We must also increase our production to overcome deficiencies and secure superiority ir equipment. To win the war we must do more than simply organize present production. We must fulfil the vastly greater target of supplies and ships set up by the combined Chiefs of Staff. To do this rapidly we must use to the full all productive capacity which is efficient and capable of employment, wherever it is situated. There must also be a point at which the whole problem of Allied production should come under review-. We need a complete picture of what is being and can be done as a whole with existing productive capacity, as well as continuous planning, of how we can use latent or potential resources, and of the kind, size and location of the equipment necessary for their use. The British Ministry of Production and the Joint War Production Board in America have been brought into being to perform these important tasks. [Extension of time granted.]

As the result of that pooling, it has been necessary to create organizations which are now working satisfactorily. There is first an Anglo-American pool to deal with the assignment of manufactured munitions. Another deals with the pooling of raw materials, and the British representative in that regard is Sir Olive Baillieu, an Australian. Another organization supervises the assignment of shipping, and another devotes attention to new production. The latter is one which the Australian High Commissioner and I were keen on seeing brought into being, because we were trying to secure a general review in Britain itself of the Empire position as far as new production is concerned, in order to meet the deficiency in the munitions supply. Until we were able to get a review, it was impossible to ascertain how and in what countries the things required ought to be made. In the apportionment of the materials available, the criterion established is its strategic needs as assessed by the Chiefs of Staff. What Australia has to do is to make certain that it is able to put up a story that will ensure that it gets its proper share in the apportionment of the materials available. That applies not merely to the assets in existence in the way of raw materials or manufactured munitions, but also to new production. We have established an Empire Council of Production, which is the final authority on matters affecting the planning and programme of Empire production.

With regard to shipping, we find that if we are to get through the war successfully, we must insist on the shortest possible haul being used. If we use ships on an unnecessarily long haul and keep them too long in ports, that is exactly the same as allowing more of them to bc put out of action by the enemy. In order to secure this control an AngloAmerican executive has been appointed, consisting of Lord Leathers, in England, and Admiral Land, in Washington. The shipping position is very serious, though it is being improved somewhat in spite of heavy sinkings, because of the way in which the Americans have revolutionized the method of ship construction.

Mr Menzies - What authority is exercised by this Anglo-American executive ?

Sir EARLE PAGE - It has complete control over allied shipping.

Mr Menzies - Does the executive allocate shipping to whatever task it thinks fit?

Sir EARLE PAGE - Yes, the members of the executive say just where the shipping is to he used, and for what purposes.

Dr Evatt - The British representative at Washington of the joint shipping board is Sir Arthur Salter.

Sir EARLE PAGE - Yes, he is the projection in America of Lord Leathers. Shipping, of course, is of vital importance to Australia.

Mr Ward - Evidently the right honorably gentleman did not think so when he gave away the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers.

Sir EARLE PAGE - It was not given away; it was disposed of in order to save the primary producers of Australia millions of pounds, and to preserve the British shipping connexion, which has been of incalculable value to Australia during this war. Let no one cast aspersions on the British mercantile marine, which contains, perhaps, more heroes than any other service associated with the war. These are the men who took the convoys through Arctic seas to Russia last winter. These are the men who have kept British ships on the high seas in spite of all the efforts of the enemy, and we owe them an everlasting debt. As a matter of fact, we have to rely upon British and American shipping to bring munitions of war to us, and to transport our military forces.

Mr Ward - That is why the righthonorable gentleman gave the ships away?

Sir EARLE PAGE - I am sorry that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) has seen fit to sound the party note. During all the time I was away I tried to look at these problems from an Australian point of view.

Mr Ward - Well, that is a change from the right honorable gentleman's usual attitude.

Sir EARLE PAGE - The Prime Minister will admit that I have always given the most disinterested advice, and have always regarded our problems from the Australian .point of view. The introduction of electric welding into shipbuilding has revolutionized the industry. Men who three years ago knew nothing of shipbuilding are now turning out ships at an astonishing rate. The first ship took 185 days to construct, the next 100 days, and the third 60 days. Ships are now being launched within 30 days of the laying of the keel, and they are being delivered within another ten or twelve days. These are 10,000-ton cargo ships, well-found, with a speed of 11 to 12 knots. They are being launched in such numbers that the losses through the submarine menace are being met, and will eventually be overcome. Already the submarines have been controlled along the European coast, and the work of Australian aviators, working in co-operation with the Royal Air ForcE in the Bay of Biscay and over the English Channel, is an epic in itself. With their help, and the help of those who are building ships in America and Great Britain, we shall contrive to get munitions of war to where they are needed, and to carry food to .Great Britain.

Another organization which has been brought into existence is the AngloAmerican pool for the control of food. If we are to win the peace as well as win the war we must do more than produce weapons of destruction. As a matter of fact, our purpose in fighting this war is to achieve a peace worth having. If we are to have a new world, and one without war, our first task upon the cessation of hostilities will be to feed the famished peoples of the world. When we recall the period which followed the last war we realize that the delay which occurred in solving this problem sowed the seeds, of much of the trouble which is afflicting us to-day. The immediate task of the Food Control Board is to stimulate agriculture in the United States of America in order to take advantage of the short haul in supplying food to Britain. However, while doing this, it must also make sure that its present activities will not impede the restoration of American agriculture to normal after the war. In order to ensure that the starving people of the world will be fed after the war it is necessary to maintain the agriculture of the United Nations at its greatest capacity. I have been urging that the board should buy everything that can be produced by the United Nations, and store it for use after the war. The opportunity should be seized to use vacant space in returning ships which have carried munitions to various countries in order to carry this food as near as possible to the points at which it will eventually be used.

The Food Board can do this work in its stride. It has executive functions, statutory powers, funds supplied by both the British and American Governments, and will be able to proceed without unnecessary political interference. In fact, the Baw Materials Board, the Food Board, and the Joint War Production Board should all be thinking in terms of the future as much as the present. They should be laying down a basis of collaboration between the major industries of all countries - in agriculture, in mining and in industrial development. Their aim should be not merely to enable us to win the war, but to ensure the building up of a more prosperous world after the war, to increase the total sum of international trade, to ensure higher individual purchasing power and better standards of living. Only by these means can the enormous wounds inflicted by the ravages of the world war on our social and economic fabric and on our productive resources be repaired.

The current, production of the world, if properly developed, will be great enough to overtake in a relatively short time the wastage of war, and this will' occur if our productive resources be allowed to function in a natural way. Thus, the work done in this connexion by Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill may prove to he not only the turning point of the war, but also something of decisive importance to the future of the world. With this organization it should be possible to devote to the work of post-war reconstruction the same energy, skill and determination as are now being devoted to the winning of the war itself. If we can do that, the world will be a more prosperous place after the war. We shall be able to ensure higher individual purchasing power, and a better standard of living.

How important the system of intergovernmental contacts may be in the conduct of the waa-, and during the period of post-war reconstruction is now becoming evident. I have been intimately associated with it, and been largely instrumental in creating the Empire machinery associated with it. Its importance far transcends party and even national considerations. It is international in its effect. When I accepted the invitation of the Prime Minister to give him what help I could, I felt that I could be of use, not only in the consideration of current problems, but also in planning for the post-war period, so that Australia shall be able to take itf proper place in the affairs of the world.

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of personal contact in international relationships. The successful functioning of this plan of vertical liaison if essential if we are to retain our position in the councils of the United Nations. On the calibre of the men who represent us will depend the success of the negotiations on which they are engaged, and the extent of the aid we shall get. We should he represented at every stage of the negotiations, and should use our representation to the best advantage. Moreover, we should bring our representatives back to Australia at frequent intervals so that they may keep in touch with Australian thought. We should maintain permanent representation in London and Washington, and, in addition, there should be frequent visits by Australian statesmen to Great Britain and America. During the last war, the influence of Mr. Hughes upon Empire policy was important because of his presence in London from time to time. Mr. Menzies made a great impression when he was overseas, and the visit of Dr. Evatt was very useful in placing a certain point of view before the representatives of Great Britain and America. .1 believe that the Prime Minister could perform a. service of very great value to Australia, and also to the Empire, by accepting President Roosevelt's invitation to visit the United States of America. If he could spare the extra few weeks required for a visit to London, so much the better. I am sure that Mr. Hughes, Mr. Menzies and Dr. Evatt, who have experienced the value of these personal contacts overseas, will agree with me. Mr. Roosevelt, when discussing this subject with me, emphasized the Importance of the periodical visits of the Prime Minister of Canada to Washington, as a result of which practically all difficulties had been removed. FieldMarshal Smuts and Mr. Fraser have also been invited. I should greatly like to see the Prime Minister make this visit, notwithstanding that last year the view was expressed in this Parliament that the Prime Minister should not go outside Australia in war-time. However, the situation at the present time is so critical and the need for a proper understanding so great, that that decision might well be reconsidered in the light of the existing circumstances.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Would it not mean political suicide?

Sir EARLE PAGE - On the con tra ry. I think that the Prime Minister's already great reputation would be enhanced hy a visit overseas.

I thank the Government for the confidence reposed in me and for the consideration given to me during my absence abroad. I am grateful also for the welcome extended to me on my return. I take this opportunity to express my great sense of indebtedness to my staff, Major Coleman, Mr. Low, and Miss Ross, who worked hard and long under distressing and dangerous conditions. I wish to acknowledge, too, the great help given by the High Commissioner, Mr. Bruce, during the whole period of my stay in England.

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