Diary of a Labour Man: 1917 - 1945

Full text Leader of the Opposition


Fellow Britishers,

At this time of crisis and trial, with dark forebodings of things to come, I bring to you a message from Australia. A message not of mere words, but a factual statement of what we, in a Dominion of the British Commonwealth, are doing, and will do, so that your heroic struggle will be made easier and the ultimate victory so much swifter.

I will not dwell on what you have gone through in the past. That is a story of human gallantry, stoic courage and grim determination unparalleled in history. It throbs our hearts with pride and gratitude. We say to you that we have taken a pattern from it. In Australia we have made up our minds that no sacrifice can be too great; no effort shall be beyond our ability; and no obstacle shall daunt us in ensuring that Australia's part in the Battle of Britain will be faithfully and inflexibly honoured.

As you may know, I am the leader of the Australian Labor Party. I can speak for the great mass of the people of Australia in general and for the men and women, the workers in industry in particular. These workers who are engaged, in ever increasing numbers and with ever growing efficiency, in war work. They are devoting themselves in widening the scope of existing industries. They are applying themselves with amazing adaptability to the demands which the new war industries are making upon them. And they are doing all that with such efficiency, enthusiasm and a desire to get the best done in the shortest possible time, that today Australia has become an armoury upon which you in Britain and those in our sister Dominions may draw with a certainty that very few, if any, of your wants will remain unsatisfied for very long.

In this war, as you well know, the backbone of the nation is in the workshop and in the factory. The workers of Australia have made that backbone a very real thing and they have done so because they have a wholesale conviction of the justice of Britain's cause. They are with you in this struggle because they are assured that everything they regard as being worthwhile is at stake. Bone of your bone, the workers of Australia are kindred. They are of your stock. Their forebears came from England, and from Ireland, and from Scotland, and from Wales. They inherit the ties of blood and grace and tongue that have joined British people together for centuries. Australia is a British land of one race and one tongue. It is a land in which people came from the British Isles to carve out for themselves, in freedom and equality, an opportunity to make for themselves and their children a better and freer life. That opportunity and the opportunity to aspire to even better things are still here. We are not going to allow our hopes to be thrust aside by any doctrine of repression and any doctrine which abnegates human rights.

Australians feel that they are playing their part. Australians are modestly proud of what our soldiers and airmen in the Middle East have achieved. We are proud of what our navy has done and we are bringing the production of raw materials and manufactured materials very swiftly to a maximum so that Britain, as far as Australia is concerned, at least will not lack. We have our own problems and the working out of the tangled skein of ambitions and counter ambitions in the Pacific involves us very deeply.

Our position in the Pacific is shortly stated. We do not want war here. We believe that aggression should play no part in the policies of the peoples of the Pacific. Nevertheless, we will resist aggression and, just as you, our kinsmen in Britain, stand to arms in defence of those fair isles, so also do we stand ready to keep war out of Australia.

Be of good cheer. The black of the night must pass into the brightness of morning; a morning for a new world in which human freedoms will be the paramount factor. Australian labour sends a comradely message of united endeavour to British labour. Australia sends to Great Britain her unflinching devotion and her steadfastness in the belief that victory must come in the battle for all that is meant in the word freedom. Good luck to you all.