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Thursday, 14 May 1936

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [6.7]. - by leave - I desire to inform honorable senators that at the meeting of the Council of the League of Nations on the 11th May, a resolution was adopted which recalled the conclusions reached and decisions taken in the Italo-Abyssinian dispute since the 3rd October, 1935, and continued to the following effect : " The Council of the League of Nations is of the opinion that further time is necessary to permit its members to consider the situation created by the grave new step taken by the Italian Government, decides to resume its deliberations on this subject on the 15th June, and considers, in the meantime, that there is no cause for modifying the measures previously adopted in collaboration by members of the League." Representatives of Chile and Ecuador, whilst agreeing to the resolution, made a reservation regarding the last paragraph of the resolution, and expressed the view that sanctions should be raised forthwith.

As has been fully reported in the press, the Council was advised, at the commencement of the meeting, that the Italian representative had been recalled to Rome. Italy, however, has not given any intimation of what its future attitude as to continuation of League membership will be. The subject of sanctions is one which is being most earnestly considered by the Commonwealth Government, and by every State member of the League at the present time. The Commonwealth Government is of the opinion that the Covenant itself, as well as the existing League machinery to establish collective security and to maintain the rule of law in international relations, should be re-examined in the light of the experience of the past six months. In the meantime, sanctions will be continued by League members until the 15th June, when the question will be reviewed.

The action taken throughout this dispute by the Commonwealth Government and by all other governments of the State members has been collective, and the same risks and responsibilities have been shared by all. The sanctions policy has been one for consideration and recommendation by the Co-ordination Committee, acting on behalf of all State members, and . the question of the removal or continuation of sanctions will, no doubt, be referred to that body, to ensure that the collective principle shall be maintained. In the meantime, the Commonwealth Government feels that it would be unwise for individual governments to announce publicly their views and attitude on the question while sanctions are still in force, as this would only bring about disunity among League members, and add to the difficulties of arriving at a final solution.

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