6 FEBRUARY 1942, Page 1

Australia and Britain

Mr. W. M. Hughes, who was Commonwealth Prime Minister in the last war, has spoken out frankly about the stream of " anti-British, anti-Empire " propaganda which has been poured out in the Australian Press, and described those who have been responsible for it as Australian quislings. He called to mind some of the things that Britain has done, such as keeping the Dominions immune from attack for two years, and some of the things that Australia has not done. Australia had contributed nothing to the cost of Singapore, and had not concentrated on the creation of an Air Force strong enough to deter the Japanese aggressor. We in this country would be the last to reproach her for these deficiencies in preparation—we, too, were insufficiently prepared —and we are far from thinking that our plans for the Far East were satisfactory. None the less, we do think, with Mr. Hughes, that it was unreasonable to expect this country, locked in mortal combat with Germany and Italy, to have been fully equal to any emergency that might arise when another first-class Power attacked in the Pacific. With the wars in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean on her hands, Britain alone could not have been expected to keep sea command in the Far East. Even if ' Prince of Wales' and Repulse' had not been lost in battling for the Empire, still Britain alone could not have kept naval supremacy there. For the maintenance of that we had chiefly counted on the American fleet. The disaster at Hawaii was not our fault. Those Australians who are feeling in a recriminatory mood might have directed their reproaches to the United States. But this ia no time for recriminations, and it is only a minority of Aus- tralians who for a moment forget that.