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Thursday, 24 February 1944

Mr.R. G. Menzies once again " in fancy strays " from empire interests.

Always adept as saying the wrong thing at the right time, Mr. R. G. Menzies, Leader of the Opposition, has, we understand, once again raised the ire of his confederates (and supporters) in his party. The "party" is of course the United Australia party, the Liberal Democratic party or the " Institute of Public Affairs " - take your pick. With Australia - and the Empire - locked in a death struggle with ruthless enemies, Mr. Menzies has turned his attention to the " future prosperity " of those enemies.

Mr. Menzieshas found himself in many tight corners before, and he has extricated himself by the simple expedient of resigning from something or other. Just what method he will adopt on this occasion, or what form his resignation will take, will be awaited with interest . . .

The puny sentiments expressed by Mr. Menzies may find favour in some quarters. With Hitler and Tojo - if they deem them worthy of consideration - they will be applauded. But with wives and mothers and fathers and children who mourn the loss of those who have laid down their lives or who contemplate the bleak and hopeless future of those who have been permanently maimed, in the fight for freedom; or with the men who have suffered privations and experienced the brutality of our enemies, they will be received with astonishment and disgust.

There is no need to recite in full the atrocities that have been committed by the Japanese; a recital of them has already been made in the House of Commons as well as in the American House of Representatives and in this country. I merely impress upon honorable members the fact that the statement of the Leader of the Opposition in favour of a prosperous Germany and Japan was made on the very day on which the Japanese atrocities were announced in this country and elsewhere. The Sydney Morning Herald published the following on the 29th January, 1944: -

Thousands of British Empire prisoners of war held by the Japanese had died (not 100 as Tokyo had reported), and a high proportion of the others were seriously ill, the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Eden, revealed to the House of Commons to-day in a deliberate statement on the unspeakably savage maltreatment of prisoners by- the Japanese.

Thousands of British Empire prisoners in Siam were being forced by the Japanese to work under tropical jungle conditions without adequate shelter, clothing, food, or medical attention.

Eight hundred prisoners were killed when the Lisbon Al am was torpedoed by an Allied submarine on the 21st October, 1942.

The Japanese crew and military guards kept prisoners under the hatchways and abandoned ship forthwith, although it was 24 hours later before the ship sank. Some of the prisoners who broke out and swam to land were fired on.

There is no need for me to read further. Honorable members, and the public of Australia, know what atrocities have been perpetrated against our unfortunate prisoners of war. But this posturing individual with the scowl of Mussolini, the bombast of Hitler, and the physical proportions of Goering, would distract attention from his statements 'by seeking to make it appear that I am the one who has injured the cause of the United Nations. I have always been in favour of a whole-hearted war effort. Unlike honorable members opposite, who want all sorts of restrictions imposed upon the workers of this country, but do not want their privileges or wealth to be interfered with, I would have everything go into- the pool in order to secure victory.

I conclude with a statement indicating the opinion that is held of the Leader of the Opposition by the Japanese authorities. They read his excellent contribution in favour of a prosperous Germany and Japan, and the following official statement was subsequently made over the Japanese short-wave radio : -

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