Diary of a Labour Man: 1917 - 1945

Full text Leader of the Opposition




"We are in the war, not only because the British Commonwealth of Nations is in it, but also because the war is taking a course which brings more immediately to us not merely the potentiality but also the possibility of actual attack upon us in our own territory.

"It would be an act of unwisdom were I to thrust myself or my party into a National Government. We see no reason for such a government.

"Whatever failure there has been in connection with the organisation of Australia's war effort has not been a failure on the part of the Parliament. It is a Governmental failure, if there be any failure at all.

"I regard the primary responsibility of any Australian Government as being to pivot the whole of its policy, first, upon the security and integrity of its own soil and people and, secondly, upon the contribution that it can make to the common cause. The maximum of our man-power is the minimum of our national requirements.

"It is our duty to make certain that this nation is quickly and efficiently organised on a maximum war footing.

"A strong air power is indispensable for the defence of this country. I can see no way in which Australia can now effectively organise an air force except in complete collaboration with the Empire Air Scheme.

"Steps should be set in motion to place land and shore defences on a better basis.

"Immediate steps should be taken to train 100,000 volunteers. Then another 100,000 volunteers should be called up. This army must be mechanised, by taking into account how this war is being fought.

In dealing with trades unions "the maximum effort can best be obtained by argument and persuasion; by inducement and consideration and not by coercion and dictation.

"The Prime Minister and the Minister for the Army and another Minister should be independent of any particular department. They should deliberate as a committee, exercising general superintendance over the whole administration in respect of war effort.

"We need men who can engage in ship construction. If we cannot build ships, they should be acquired.

"I have yet to discover in what way the graving dock to be built can be related to Australia's war effort.

"We have to make certain that we are using the type of munitions for which we can be assured of a continuous supply. Let us have a balanced organisation, so that we shall know that we have munitions for whatever guns we use.

"Something will have to be done in regard to reserves of oil, petrol and rubber. I ask that the people of Australia be, at once, directed to reduce petrol consumption.

"All subversive elements are not related to those who are being systematically accused of being Leftists. Much is being said which is tending to undermine confidence in the Government; frustrate its activities and lessen the respect for national leadership.