AUSTRALIA LOOKS AHEAD
AN ADDRESS BY REV. W. G. MARTIN, D.D.
Chairman: The President, Mr. Eric F. Thompson
Thursday, March 14, 1946
MR. THOMPSON: Gentlemen, the Empire Club of Canada, today welcomes to it's platform, one who is well known to most of you not only as a former resident of this province, but as Ontario's first Minister of Welfare, which post he so ably filled.
A graduate of Victoria College, University of Toronto, where he won the Gold Medal in Oratory, he has since put his talent to good use in that his vocation is that of a sky pilot. In addition to his outstanding services as a preacher, he has lectured and delivered dramatic recitals throughout Canada.
During the World War of 1914-18, he served overseas in both England and France, as Chaplain in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. In 1926, he was elected to the Ontario Legislature and held office until 1934, during part of which time he was a member of the Cabinet. In 1943, the United College, Winnipeg, conferred upon him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity.
He has not only travelled this country from the Maritimes and Newfoundland through to the Pacific Coast and Northward to within 700 miles of the North Pole, but has visited all the principle parts of the British Empire. He has just returned to his home in Winnipeg after a long stay in that most important unit of our great Commonwealth-Australia.
It is indeed a pleasure to present to you, the Pastor of Grace United Church, Winnipeg, Reverend W. G. Martin, D.D., who will speak to us on the subject "Australia Looks Ahead".
REV. W. G. MARTIN: I have returned recently from a mission to Australia where for four months I' was the guest preacher at St. Stephen's Presbyterian 'Church, Sydney, which, by the way, is the largest church of that Denomination in the Southern Hemisphere. In addition to the great privilege of occupying that historic pulpit, it was my good fortune to meet many of our Canadian lassies who are wedded to Australian service men. I was present at the Central Railway Station in Sydney when 125 of these girls arrived. As on every such occasion, they were accorded a rousing welcome, and I would like to assure the relatives and friends of these girls, who have resolved to make their home in the Antipodes, that they are readily adjusting themselves to happy surroundings in a happy land. Everywhere I went in Australia I found that Canada stands ace-high in the minds and hearts of the Australian people. There is a tremendous appreciation of the hospitality which Canada bestowed upon the Australian lads who came to our shores for training under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and the gladness with which they welcome the Canadian war brides is an expression of the sense of gratitude which they feel towards us as a people.
I discovered in Australia universal admiration of Canada's war effort. Our achievement as a Nation in the cause of Freedom, and our generosity of action in support of the Motherland deeply moved the people of the Commonwealth. All in all the war has done much towards strengthening the bonds of friendship, understanding, and co-operation between our two great Nations.
Australia is a topsy-turvy place. The people there live in direct opposition to ourselves. They get up when we go to bed; celebrate Christmas in midsummer; go north in winter to get warm; and go south in summer to get cool. It is a land of violent contrasts. There is excessive drought and fertile coast lands; big cities and open spaces. It is a land of supremely Graceful and refreshingly aromatic gum trees; a land of kaleidoscopic wild flower pageantry; of beautiful birds rich in plumage and song. In the out-back country life is hard, riding over burning plains after sheep and cattle, and tilling the soil for wheat. There is an old Spanish proverb which says, " 'Take what you like' says God, 'take what you like but pay for it'." That has been true of the romantic story of the progress of civilization in Australia. It is said that in the early days of settlement the silent monotonous bush swallowed up by the people who strayed far into it. Also that many went eccentric and even mad in the silence and loneliness of the land. A story is told of an old fossicker who made his camp by a billabong. A fossicker is one who goes along the river banks panning for gold, and a billabong is a water-hole or washing place. After a while a boundary-rider appeared and camped near by: "Good morning" said the boundary rider. "Hmp" r-eplied old fossicker. "How's things" said boundary rider. "Hmp" replied old fossicker. Next morning the old fossicker was packing up, "Moving on?" said the boundary rider. "Hmp, too much damned conversation." In 1874 a pioneer named Forrest crossed Australia from East to West through a country of which he said the very sight it was enough to daunt a man and kill a horse. But it makes men, moulds and hardens them into the splendid stuff that built the Aussie who won immortality for his race on the fields of glory.
To this land there went in 1770 from Whitby, England, a grocer's apprentice, James Cook. In the name of the King's Majesty he took possession of the Eastern part of the continent. Eighteen years later Captain Arthur Phillip arrived with the first batch of white people to settle in the new land which Cook had discovered. It was to be expected that these first settlers would lay good foundations inasmuch as they were a company of picked men-the best judges of England picked them.
The Island-Continent, while in area is twenty-five times the size of Great Britain and Ireland, and three quarters the size of Europe, contains only .35 percent of the world's population, namely; 7,000,000. 87% of which are Australian born, and 99% British stock, living up to the best traditions of British justice, humanity, and hospitality. Because of the lack of mountains and watersheds, one-third of the area of Australia provides no reasonable living; one-third is sufficient for only a sparse population of pastoralists. Most of the remainder, from the coast to within 300 miles inland, is fertile.
Despite the fact of the forbidding nature of the country which greeted the first settlers with clenched fist, development has been such that within a century and a half 35,000,000 acres have been brought under cultivation.
Australia is the Land of the Golden Fleece. In May, 1788, the country boasted 29 sheep. Thirty-five years later the number had increased to 156,000. Today the sheep population is 105,000,000. The fact of a serious drought last year resulting in the death of ten million sheep has in no sense brought discouragement to the sheep raisers. Sir Frederick MacMaster, one of the most successful sheep men of the Commonwealth, whose station is 35,000 acres, gave it as his opinion that Nature must not be blamed for the drought conditions. He said, "It is not Nature that has brought this calamity upon us. It is the greed of man who is anxious to put as many sheep as possible on the acreage that the animals may nibble every blade of grass." He urges the policy of understocking, that is, less sheep per acre, indeed it should be less than one sheep for every acre of land. In addition to this there should be a practice of reserve stocking-setting aside certain areas to which the sheep have no access, thus giving the grass full opportunity to grow. "This", he says, "will solve the problem and increase the quality and quantity of wool which the Australian sheep stations will produce." At the present time Australia provides forty percent of the world's wool, while she has less than 1/6 of the world's sheep. The annual wool clip for the Commonwealth represents, at present prices, a value of £65 million.
The rabbit industry of Australia is commanding world-wide attention. Some idea of its extent may be gathered from the following figures, namely; in Sydney last year 3,500 tons of rabbit skins were auctioned and there are about eleven skins to the pound. The price is R-750 per ton. The best grade of skins will fetch £ 1 of Australian money for one pound of skins.
Australia's wheat harvest is approximately 100,000,000 bushels. In Queensland and New South Wales there are 357,000 acres producing sugar-cane, with an annual yield of 5,500,000 tons. Australia has 13,000,000 head of cattle and 1,700,000 horses. She grows a great variety of fruit including, apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, grapefruit, cherries, pears, pineapples, raisins, lemons, figs, and strawberries. Her vineyards comprise 123,000 acres. In two irrigation districts in New South Wales she produces annually 1,000,000 bushels of rice. Australia boasts some of the world's finest and tallest hardwood trees and is devising methods whereby hardwoods can be used in the development of her pulp industry.
In the days of the Gold rush diggers went from California to the Australian fields and Australian diggers went to the Californian fields. The rush meant a big influx to the population. Squatters in the land took tip a hostile attitude to the Gold seekers. The Legislative Council of Victoria, a stronghold of squatters, prohibited the sale of liquor at the diggings. In reply the diggers made a stockade at Ballarat, with the intent of resisting inspection. A pitched battle took place between the State soldiers and the miners, and one captain and four privates and sixteen miners were killed. It was a small incident, but of great historical importance for it represented the first real gesture of the spirit of Australia against oppression, a spirit which flowered into the gallantry of two World Wars.
Her two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne have a combined population of 2,300,000, practically 1/3 of the total population of the country. Sydney ranks second in size only to London, among the white cities of the Empire, and her harbour, spanned by the great Sydney bridge, is judged to be one of the finest in the world.
And so through pastoral developments, industrial and mining activities, and the growth of cities, Australia in the short space of 150 years has become the big Dominion which we know today.
The subject of my address, "Australia Looks Ahead," bears a definite relationship to the Commonwealth's political, industrial, and economic future. During the time that I was in Australia I experienced strenuous strike conditions. A miners' strike in New South Wales had brought about a serious power shortage with the result' that industry was severely handicapped and rigid restrictions with regard to the use of electricity had to be enforced. In a Sydney morning paper I saw a picture of, an Australian soldier bringing home from Borneo a. kerosene lamp in order that he might see his way about' Sydney-a weird homecoming for battle heroes who thought they made the world safe for a decent citizenship. It was a black Christmas "Down-under," all brought about by 3,000 to 4,000 workers whose efforts put half a million men, representing miners, iron workers, steel workers, and seamen, out of work. The trouble started when the miners refused to accept an award by the State of New South Wales' Arbitration Board. While this was a serious condition for Australia it was not different from what most Nations are experiencing at the present time. Indeed, the industrial conditions in Australia are not as critical as in some other parts of the world. An American business man who has been living in Australia but who recently went on a business trip to the United States, said, upon his return to the Commonwealth that he was glad to be back. As he put it in speaking to Australians, "You have a bubble which is about to burst. In the United States we have 135,000,000 people living on the edge of a surging volcano."
Leaders in Australian life, the heads of the Governments and of Industry, together with Economists, realize that as the Nation faces the problems of the post-war era, certain fundamental facts must be kept to the fore. One such is, that Governments must have the full co-operation of Private Enterprise must have the assurance of full co-operation on the part of Governments. In dramatic fashion Australia was brought to a realization that, while she had escaped invasion by the Japs, she was faced with a serious threat of invasion by the forces of Radical Socialism which are making desperate attempts to get a strangle-hold on the Nation. I believe that the average working man in Australia, as elsewhere, is desirous of getting on with his job, and doing it well, but he finds himself in the grip of professional agitators whose following pack meetings of workers where questions of wages, of hours, of labour, and other vital issues are discussed not fairly and impartially, and when a strike vote is taken it is an open vote, and any man who dares to raise a negative hand is denounced as a scab. At a Press conference I suggested the only solution to such a situation would be the use of the secret ballot. In Australia they have a system of compulsory voting in the electing of the representatives of the people. I did not suggest compulsory voting to express an opinion for or against a strike, this would not be democratic. On the other hand the secret ballot, which is a sacred institution of our democratic way of life, provides the only satisfactory solution to a vicious industrial situation which, in Australia as elsewhere, has developed tremendous strength.
The attitude of Left Wing Unionists in Australia is summed up menacingly by this quotation from a speech of one of their leaders--"The functions of Arbitrationist Legalism are to prevent strike struggles and to enforce acceptance, by law, of a low standard of living. It will be seen at once that Arbitration is detrimental to the development of the class struggle, and class consciousness, and that genuine and fundamental solidarity necessary to the revolutionary struggle of Socialism. The Communists regard the State Controlled Arbitration System as a pernicious, anti-working class institution, whose objective is to keep the worker shackled to the Capitalist State. We fight against this arbitration relying on the sanity and organization of the workers in the struggle to improve conditions." Thus this element, numerically small and insignificant, would declare war on a system which has grown with almost universal approval into the fabric of the Australian Economy. They are stubbornly blind to the fact that by adopting an Anti-Government. Anti-Constitutional attitude, and thinking only in terms of what they as a section of the community, wish and will have, whatever the cost, they are disrupting Australia's normal, economic way of life; crippling her industry; undermining her Overseas trade and closing the door to Overseas investment in Australia. If they had their way they would' reduce Australia's status to that of a puppet State, a third class Nation, without financial stability or adequate means of establishing her future as a strong people, capable o£ shaping a destiny worthy of her citizens and her resources, and totally unequal to the task of providing for herself the necessary defence of her territory against threat of aggression by a grasping lustful foe.
I witnessed public opinion rising rapidly to form a bulwark of resentment against the strike, which was a test deliberately sought by the Communist Party to destroy the arbitration system and so establish a Communist dictatorship over Australian industry. The attitude of the average citizen was that the Communist leaders must be so completely beaten on that issue that Unionism will be purged of their influence and of their doctrines, and that the menace of their efforts to disrupt the Labour movement and destroy the Australian Democracy shall be once and forever removed. The Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, head of a Labour Administration, displayed moral courage and political sagacity when he refused to yield to the demands of the Communists. His action satisfied Trade Unionism in general, and the Federal Government's show-down, which resulted in the surrender of the strikers, was a real contribution to the fortifying of what appeared to be a wobbling Democracy in that great country. Perhaps out of it all Australia will play a leading part in the task of making sure the Peace for which humanity has paid such a bitter price to secure.
One of the questions being asked in Australia, as I suppose it is being asked. everywhere, is, "What is the triumph of Democracy?" It is the question of men who tramped the highways of hell to ferret out the wild-beasts of hatred in the jungles of the Pacific, the mountains of Italy, and the deserts in the Middle East. These men have a right to know the answer, and the security of civilization for all classes of the people depends upon what is the answer. Of course, we regard as one of the fruits of victory the establishment of Social Security. One Aspect of that Security is Full Employment. Federal and State Governments in Australia are not being allowed to forget or side-step that issue. The Commonwealth Government recently passed a "Re-establishment and Employment Act." This Act provides ample legal provision for the training required for the rehabilitation of members of the Services, whose occupational training was interrupted by the war, or had never begun. All this is basic to a policy of high and stable employment. The Government recognizes that it is not satisfactory to have a policy of starting public works just for the sake of mopping up unemployment. Such a system would ultimately break clown by reason of its own costly weight. Further, it is recognized that planned full-employment presents many difficulties and the result may be not full-employment but a very low level of employment, involving manpower organizations directing people where, and at what they are to work, and perhaps compelling them. Australia's "Re-establishment and Employment Act" sets out to counteract and off-set this danger.
The problem of Employment as it relates itself to other countries who are her customers is of intense interest to Australia. In the past her depressions have come to her from abroad. Mr. Melville acting president of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Australian representative at the Bretton Woods Conference, said in a recent address, "It is when export prices fall, and, remain depressed for some time, that business activity alls off. Perhaps that is becoming less true with Australia's industrial development and may be, less true after the war than it was before. Nevertheless, fluctuations in the prices of Australian exports are still likely to play a dominant part in our affairs. This means that we shall be facing a different type of problem from that which the United States and Great Britain will have to face. If those countries can maintain full employment, perhaps the prices of our exports will not fluctuate very greatly, and the difficulties of our problem will be greatly reduced. If, however, they fail to maintain full employment, then we shall have to face our own peculiar problem. We shall have to try to find ways of countering the effects of a fall in export prices by an expansion of private and public investment." All this suggests that Australia's wool and wheat, which are her chief exports, face an uncertain future.
Australia is watching Britain very closely. Britain's Financial Policy; her Budgeting Policy; her Policy in relation to the retention of Controls; of cooperation in Industry and Agriculture; of encouraging exports and developing markets. And as Australia observes Britain's 'Industrial and Economic picture she seeks to copy it to the extent that it is applicable to the Australian Economy.
What about Australia's Foreign Policy? When I was crossing the Pacific on my return to Canada I gathered with fellow-passengers on the good ship "Mirrabooka", around the radio to listen to the news. Suddenly the announcer told us that in the election of members to the World Security Council two Nations failed to receive the requisite number of votes, Canada and Australia. Then he added that Canada had retired in favour of Australia. In our party, assembled in the little saloon of the steamer, were citizens of several countries, and when the announcement of this fine gesture on the part of our Dominion was made they looked towards me and gave a gracious nod of tribute. I felt a tingle of pride that I was a citizen of Canada. The action of the Dominion, of the Dominion's representatives in London, indicated Canada's recognition of the fact that Australia is destined to occupy an important place at the Council Board of the Nations.
Australia may appear on the map like a country far-removed from the rest of the world. This sense of isolation has ever been present in the minds of Australians. But a new day has dawned when the miracle of modern transport has brought the ends of the earth to our very back doors. We realize what is an age-long principle, namely; that no Nation, however far removed geographically, can live apart from the rest of the world. Australia is vividly conscious of the fact that what is happening in other parts of the Globe affects very considerably her own development. Twice have events in Europe led to Australia's participation in wars outside of her boundaries, and on several occasions world-wide depressions have caused great re-adjustments in the Australian Economy. This last great conflict has revealed that for better or worse she has vital interests in Eastern and Southern Asia, and in relations between Asia and America.
One factor towards off-setting the smallness of her population and the limitation of her resources is her membership in the British Commonwealth and in the Anglo-American group of Nations. She has a relatively favourable trade position and as a consequence has achieved a relatively high standard of living. Most of her resources have been devoted to her peaceful development without heavy expenditures on defence armaments.
One thing the war has done for Australia is to bring home to her an awareness of the strategic implications of the Continent's geographic position. No longer does she think of the main land of Asia as the Far East, but rather as the Near North. And the Japanese threat and attempts at the invasion of Australia indicates that she is an Asiatic as well as a Pacific Power-a Continental pendant to the Asiatic mainland connected by an easily traversable string of peninsulas and islands.
There was a time when Australia had no say and little interest in questions of Foreign Policy. She talked in easy language of the Yellow Peril, but it was not until 1935 that she really began to take external affairs seriously. She did not believe that her own security was in danger. At any rate she knew that a burly policeman was always on traffic duty off her Northern borders, in the person of the British Navy. Australia was secure, so she thought, but there came a day when she realized that she dare not expect the Navy of the Motherland to do everything and be everywhere. In 1942 this faroff country would have been invaded by the Japs had it not been for American aid. Wherever you go in Australia you find absolute agreement on that question. So the idea of an invulnerable Australia was an empty dream, and with the awakening came the realization that although Germany; and Japan were thrown out upon the scrap-heap, Australia, to safeguard her future, must address herself intensely to the development of an adequate Foreign Policy.
Japan, China and India have visions of being great World Powers, the equal of the mighty Powers of the Western world. It is true that Japan's aspirations have been dealt a disastrous and devastating blow, but she must be closely watched. Doubtless she will be a. thorn in Australia flesh. What trade will be possible with her, and what restrictions, territorially and militarily will have to be enforced remain to be seen. The blunt fact which must be faced is this, that if the Western Pacific, or the Indian Ocean were to fall under the domination of aggressive, anti-Western Powers or Coalition of Powers, Australia would be a doomed Nation. Therefore she is convinced that she must maintain, to the fullest possible extent, her political and economic ties with Britain and, the United States. While she has a tremendous appreciation, of the value of American military and economic aid during the war, events have deepened her conviction that now that the conflict is over, stable conditions in the Pacific cannot be assured apart from International collaboration for the maintenance of peace.
She is aware of what is involved in the Good Neighborly Policy advocated by the late President Roosevelt. It has a meaning for her that we, on the North American continent, cannot comprehend. Our good neighborliness brings instantly to mind the ties of friendship between our two great Nations of the North American Continent, and we accept this as a matter of course. Yonder in the Pacific good neighborliness among freedom-loving and peace-aspiring Nations represents a potent force necessary to the holding back of aggressive Powers. Powers that will seize upon any weakening of the bonds of International co-operation and accord to satisfy their selfish lust for territorial and political gain. Thus, a good neighbor policy, which means in effect collaboration on a free and equal basis by all Pacific Nations, is a matter of first importance if peace in the Indo-Pacific area is to be assured. That is why Britain and the United States must recognize to the full their responsibility in assisting Australia to strengthen and enlarge her economic ties, and to attain such markets as are necessary if she is to find herself adequately prepared for her part and place in the new world of Peace and Prosperity.
It is but the summing up of the matter to say that the Commonwealth is looking three ways. In the first place, she is looking towards the Asiatic mainland. Secondly, she is looking towards the United States. It is interesting to note when Australia fashioned her Constitution she studied the experiences of the United States with whose sons she fought shoulder to shoulder for the sake of the great Freedoms, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, which is but a revised version of the epic words of the great emancipator, "That Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." The other angle of vision is towards Great Britain, for she possesses a consuming loyalty to the Motherland. One reason why Mr. Winston Churchill or any other Statesman will not sit in at the liquidation of the British Empire is that crimson thread of kinship which binds the Nations of the Commonwealth to the Motherland by those hallowed ties which have made of our Empire, "This great family". And so, as in Canada, there is in Australia a two-fold patriotism-the Australian and the Imperial. We, of this Dominion, appreciate the sentiment of the Australian poet, William Charles Wentworth, who concluded his poem on "Australasia" with the following apostrophe to the Britain he ever loved:
"May all thy glories in another sphere Relume, and shine more brightly still than here; May this, thy last born infant, then arise
To glad thy heart, and greet thy parent eyes; And Australasia float with flag unfurl'd
A new Britannia in another world."
In the city of Melbourne stands an imposing shrine to the heroes of Gallipoli and other fields of conflict in the First World War. Within this Shrine is an Altar of Remembrance. High on the Eastern wall of the building is a tiny aperture and at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month a ray of sunlight passes through the aperture and falls upon the centre of the. Altar and illumines the words, "Greater love hath no man". So with a holy flame of freedom, lighted at the Altar fires of sacrifice, burning within her breast Australia looks ahead and marches ahead to a glorious and undying destiny in the unfolding drama of 20th Century civilization.