r Man: 1917 - 1945

Full text Prime Minister


“The primary purpose of my journey from Australia is to attend the conference of Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth of Nations called for next month in London. But it is only natural, because of the close association of the United States and Australia in the Pacific war, that I should pass through America during my journey and have consultations with the President of the United States, with the Secretary of State, and with leading officers of the United States armed forces and civil administration.

I should say right away that I have had a consultation with President Roosevelt. We discussed matters of major importance to the United Nations in general, and to our countries in particular. There was complete harmony between our views and I look forward, on my return from London, to further discussions with the President. The President and I reviewed the whole strategic position in the Pacific and then turned to the problems which will present themselves when the war has ended. These included the paramountly important insurance against future aggression and the means which will need to be employed to remove the fear of want and social insecurity from all mankind. On these matters, the President and I found ourselves like-minded, and I am highly encouraged as the result of our talks.

On behalf of the Australian people I expressed to the President the warm and lasting gratitude which is owed to the people of the United States for the aid given in the preservation of our country from the aggression of Japan. The President, in turn, was pleased to express his admiration of the heroic all-out effort of the Australian people in safeguarding their country and in retaining a base from which to conduct what we both are confident will be a victorious campaign against the common enemy.

Reconquest is now the keynote of the South-West Pacific war theatre. No longer threatened with invasion, Australia is able to add the pressure of its fully mobilized war potential to the pressures developing from the east and south against Japan, and by acting as an advanced supply base, to aid the pressures from theatres other than its own. As Allied ascendency becomes progressively evident, the enemy is being driven back at every point of contact. The war in the South-West Pacific is by no means over; but its successful outcome is assured by the increasing strength the Allies are able to bring to bear against Japan. Successful actions in the past, predominantly aggressive in concept and design, have been achieved in spite of deficiencies in equipment and numbers.

Removal of the threat of invasion has put into the hands of the Australian people a great new opportunity for further service to the cause of the United Nations, the cause of the democratic peoples of the world. It is a great opportunity, and a great responsibility. This is to feed, and in part to equip and service, not only Australia's own fighting forces and the Australian civil population, but the fighting forces of the United States and other Allies in the South-West Pacific; and to help to feed the people of Britain.

We are a fighting nation - that we have proved on the field of battle all over the world - and we fight on. But now we can do more. We can, ourselves, continue to fight and we can, and we will, help others to fight more effectively by feeding, equipping and servicing.

These tasks are of great magnitude and are vital to the plan of reconquest of the territories enslaved by the Japanese and the Nazis. They are being carried out by a country with only 2,800,000 adult males. Of that number, over 800,000 were enlisted in they fighting forces - over 600,000 of them for service in any part of the world - and over 700,000 in war industries. Nothing has been held back by the Australian people in their contribution to the war effort, whether it be severe food and clothes rationing, curtailment of amenities and entertainments, freezing of wages, taxation at saturation point or the abrogation of working conditions. For example, public subscriptions to war finance from our 7,000,000 people total 1,850,000,000 dollars, and within a fortnight I know that the Australian people will respond handsomely to the latest appeal for 500,000,000 dollars asked for by the Australian Government in the First Victory Loan.

Crossing the American continent, seeing a little of the great cities, envisaging the Canberra of the future after looking at Washington, meeting Americans in differing stations of life, I have gathered a superficial impression of this country and its way of life upon which I hope to improve, on my return journey. But one impression will be lasting and that is that Australia, has, and can have, much in common with America. And that brings me to post-war relations between our two countries. In the crucible of war, much goes into the melting pot. The dross is unimportant. It is the pure metal of human understanding, the ability to see and understand the other fellow's point of view, the realization that only in the common good of all can the individual welfare of any one nation be assured, that will emerge. Upon the surety that that will be the consolation which war will provide I rest my hopes for the future of mankind.

So when I am asked what I contemplate will be the future relations of America and Australia I say that my country is comparatively small; that it must look in the future for such agreements and understandings that will safeguard it, not only against aggression, but also against the inflictions of misery and human degradation suffered during the economic depression of fifteen years ago. Australia will look to the United States in the future, as it will look to the other great Powers with the greater resources, to work out, internationally, the salvation of human beings. Australia's voice, small although it may be, will be heard in these matters for my country, as a Pacific nation, has a concern in Pacific affairs which is very life itself. We are a small nation, but we are neither mean nor inconsiderable. We have shown ourselves prepared to accept our responsibilities in war and we shall be prepared to accept the responsibilities which will come to us in peace.

Many American women have sons and brothers and husbands and sweethearts in Australia, and, doubtless, are wondering how they are doing. I can say that they have won a warm place in our hearts and Australians have endeavoured to do the very best they can to make them feel at home. In fact, an ancillary sort of ‘Reciprocal Lend-lease’ appears to be working out quite well by which some of your fighting men are sending Australian girls to America as their wives while others are finding Australia a fine country in which to live after the war, On the latter point, I can say that Australia will sympathetically regard all Americans desiring to remain in that country.

Before concluding, I offer my greetings to Australian airmen training in Canada, and to the people of that great fellow member of the British Commonwealth. I look forward to visiting Canada on my return from Britain.

It is a very great privilege to visit America and, as head of the Australian Government, I can say without any reservations that the results will be of lasting value to both our countries. I have learned, and will learn, much before returning to Australia. It has been my endeavour to translate something of my country to those Americans I have met. Americans have a good way of life. I believe that in Australia we have a good way of life, too. Those ways are not dissimilar. Americans and Australians have fought, and are fighting, to retain their way of life and to have the chance of improving it still further.

"We have found in war much in common, and what we have found in common will endure. Whatever; can be found for mutuality in the future will be the basis for great, undertakings and high endeavour. If it were to be otherwise then the agony of war would be unendurable. With that thought, I say good night to you and may God bless you all."