183 Translation of Broadcast to Italy by Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister
Extract SYDNEY, 28 April 1940
I am happy to take this opportunity of saying a few words to the Italian people in the name of the people of Australia.
We should understand one another better than we do. You have your own glorious history and ideas about the future of your country.
Our history as Australians is a late growth; but as British citizens it is long and glorious. We British citizens have had certain differences with you but, on the whole, there exists between us a well founded tradition of friendship, based on mutual respect.
To-day there is war-a war which from time to time bursts forth with such rapidity that every nation looks with fear at its neighbours. In this war Italy is neutral. Australia is belligerent. Now I want to explain to you why Australia is belligerent and why Australia forms part of the group of nations which is fighting Germany.
There are two reasons of special importance. First, we are a British nation. We stand or fall with Britain. Secondly we love liberty and we are ready at any moment to fight for independence.
The first of these reasons is usually little understood by non- British nations. For those who are familiar with our traditions, it is difficult to understand how the British Empire has been able to reconcile the absolute political independence of the Dominions with unshakeable loyalty towards a common Throne and common tradition of spirit and thought. Australia governs herself. As her Prime Minister I am responsible to Australian citizens and to no one else. If Australia had wished to stand aside from this war there would have been no obligation whatever for her to send a single man, to equip a single ship, to manufacture a single gun.
But in fact we are sending overseas thousands of our men, we have enormous factories steadily expanding for production of munitions and aircraft, our Fleet co-operates with the British Fleet in many seas wherever the battle zone extends, we send thousands of Australian pilots whose ability and daring can well be appreciated in a country like Italy which has achieved many magnificent successes in the field of aviation. We do all this of our own free will just as we shall do many other things for, whether we live in Scotland, England, Ireland, Australia, Canada, South Africa or New Zealand, we are all Britons and whoever is against one of us is against us all.
The second reason-our love of liberty and independence-will be readily understood by Italians. The names of Mazzini and Garibaldi are familiar to us. However much she has been attacked and in part subjugated, in the course of her long history, Italy has remained proud and independent. She would never have been able to achieve this if her sons had been prepared to accept the domination of a powerful neighbour, or if she had not had within her the flame of national pride. No country better than Italy can understand the feelings of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Holland and Belgium. These countries are either groaning under the heel of the invader or are anxiously wondering what tomorrow will bring. I say to you that no nation, loving liberty, can willingly adapt itself to watching the lamp of liberty going out in any country which has a great past.
Thousands of people throughout the world have looked on with intelligent goodwill at the great constructive work carried out after the war by your leader Mussolini. We are aware that your problems, like our own, require solution through the arts of peace and industry not through the destructive arts of war. When we Australians think of Italy, we think of great Roman legislators, poets, religious and secular thinkers, sculptors, painters and musicians: in a word, Italy has made an immense contribution to the arts of peace, and has thus contributed largely to the culture of every country. Must all these things be destroyed? Must the clock of civilisation be put back? Must the future of mankind be governed only by brute force? We cannot think so, together with other British peoples, we are determined that this shall not happen. You are neutral, we are fighting: but we are convinced that these precious things which we have in common are of supreme importance and that we shall have your sympathy and your understanding.