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Friday, 15 May 1931

Senator MCLACHLAN (South Australia) . - As one who has taken a humble part in the conferences held at Geneva, I may perhaps be permitted to say a word regarding the proposals now before the Senate. Both the Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) have analysed them. Dealing with the matter in a broad way, I desire to say that that portion of the general act to which we have agreed was the subject of considerable discussion by the Motherland and the dominions, and that the decisions eventually arrived at were in agreement with those generally expressed on the other side of the world. The point was raised, whether it would not be better to have individual agreements, providing for the settlement of international disputes, than a general act dealing with them. Senator Pearce has referred to the difficulty in relation to the construction of paragraph 4. There is another probable source of trouble; so far as I can judge the temper of the nations which confer at Geneva, the tariff question will eventually lead to serious international difficulties. Nevertheless, it is well, in the interests of the general movement for peace, that the British Empire, and Australia as a part of it, is prepared to accept the General Act subject to these reservations.Whatever may be charged against the League of Nations, it can be said that it has maintained peace in. Europe up to the present. There have been serious misunderstandings and difficulties; but, notwithstanding thom, the work of the League has gone on steadily, not only in the directions of maintaining peace, but also in the rehabilitation of nations which, without its assistance, would practically have gone out of existence. In my opinion, to preach the doctrine of the incapacity of the League is to advocate a policy of despair. Another such holocaust as that of 1914-18, and civilization will totter to ruin. Civilization has failed before; and it may fail again. The existence of the League of Nations has meant the stabilization of civilization. The League stands for all that is best in human nature, and for that reason alone it should have the support of every rightthinking person. It is easy to criticize the League, and to point out its weaknesses. If it has one weakness more than another it is that Soviet Russia is not a member of the League. That nation, with its great scheme of socialization of which We heard this morning, is, in my opinion, the greatest menace to world peace that at present exists. Russia's desire to force on the rest of the world its socialistic ideas, its employment of forced labour amounting to slavery-

Senator Dunn - I rise to a point of order. It is true that, in my speech this morning, I referred to the ideal of the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and that I dealt with Russia's army and navy; but I said nothing about forced labour or slavery in Soviet Russia.

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