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Thursday, 16 November 1939

Mr WHITE (Balaclava.) .- The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) gives to Parliament an opportunity to receive authentic reports on what the Government has done, and also gives to honorable members an opportunity to offer commendation or criticism of the Government's actions. In recess we are dependent for information as to what the Government is doing largely on broadeasts and the press, and therefore it is necessary that, in a democratic community, we should have these opportunities for discussion in the Parliament. I do not intend to criticize where criticism is not deserved. On the contrary, I am prepared to give commendation where commendation is deserved. The Government is to be commended on the fact that it has made good economic bargains overseas. The Minister for Commerce (Senator McLeay), his Assistant Minister (Senator McBride), and the officers associated with them deserve the greatest credit in this regard. There are some difficulties to be surmounted in connexion with apples and the like, but, generally speaking, the fact that the great primary industries of Australia will be assured of a steady income for the duration of the war. is very satisfactory. The position in regard to defence, however, is not such a happy one. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) said that he does not believe in sending an expeditionary force overseas. He pointed out that there may be dangers confronting us with the different line up of nations and that we have to 'be alive to these dangers, but I say to him that Australia's fate may not be fought out within its own boundaries. The first essential is that we should win the war. The honorable gentleman says that he believes in that. I point out, however, that you cannot win a war by merely being the supplier of foodstuffs and not the supplier of man-power, and that we must use the utmost endeavour fo win through this war to victory. I feel that it is rather premature to talk at this juncture about a just peace and to attempt to define our aims and the like, however much these things may be a subject for helpful discussion in a minor way.

Mr McHugh - Ninety-five per cent, of the people of the world want peace.

Mr WHITE - But one man does nor. You have to deal with him first. It may be that a. just peace may come from a combination of circumstances that do notarise in our minds at the present time. It may come about with the assistance of other nations, because this may be a long and protracted struggle. We see behind Germany and its armed might much that we in Australia may not appreciate. Consider the energy and enthusiasm behind the Nazi machine. We know of Germany's swift campaign in Poland in which over 100,000 were killed, 800,000 taken prisoner by the Germans, and S0.O00 taken prisoner by the Russians - in fact a country of 30,000,000 people taken over into serfdom in a swift campaign.

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