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113 Statement to be Made by Spender

Statement, Canberra, 30 August 1951


Hold for release until 8.30 a.m. September 2nd Australian time, 1951.

Statement by the Australian Ambassador the Honourable P. C. Spender K.C. on the occasion of the signature of the Tripartite Security Treaty between the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America, at 3.30 p.m. Saturday, the 1st of September, 1951. At the Presidium, San Francisco.

Today's ceremony is an occasion of great historical significance not only for my country and New Zealand, but as well to the United States of America. The Treaty about to be signed on behalf of the three countries expresses in formal language the close ties of fellowship, understanding and comradeship between us. But it does much more than that. It marks the first step in the building of the ramparts of freedom in the vast and increasingly important area of the Pacific Ocean. This day we here and now declare to the world that our three peoples share a common destiny. We publicly proclaim our intention and determination that that destiny shall be that we endure as free peoples and that we with other free peoples shall so labour that liberty shall not perish from the earth.

Let it be said clearly and in unmistakable language that this Treaty is directed against no nation. It is conceived not in hostility against anyone but in a devout dedication to the cause of peace. We are saddened by the great disharmony which more and more is dividing the world into two armed camps. We recognise only too well the dangers inherent in that division. We will constantly labour to reduce the unhappy tension which today plagues mankind. We will seek by whatever means are open to us to bring health into international relationships where today there is so much sickness. We fervently believe that given the will on the part of all nations there is no barrier which prevents the peoples of this world living in peace together and settling their disputes and differences by peaceful means. But since we shut our eyes to world realities, only at our peril, we - the nations of the United States of America, New Zealand and Australia - announce to the world that if any nation, no matter who that nation may be, engages in aggression against any one of us, we will stand fast together and in accordance with our respective constitutional process act together to repel the aggression. This treaty is accordingly an instrument not of offence but of defence. It is a pact for peace.

Australia is a nation of peace. It has never sought to interfere - nor will it ever - in the affairs of other nations. But it is equally determined that other nations shall not interfere in its affairs. It covets not the possessions of other peoples but it prides above all other things the great freedoms for which over many years men and women have struggled to achieve and to hold - freedom to worship, freedom to work and live together without fear of aggression from without or tyranny from within, freedom to associate peacefully for social progress, remedying of injustices, and for improving the lot of the underprivileged, freedom to strive for that form of society which will best secure and preserve for them constitutional liberty, social justice and equality before the law, and such is our dedication to these principles that there is no effort we will spare that they may not be imperilled.

Twice in our short history - twice in less than forty years, Australians have crossed the oceans of the earth to fight against despotic power seeking to destroy those freedoms and to impose its will upon the rest of the peoples of the world. Twice the men and women of New Zealand, United States of America and Australia have fought together with our kinsmen within the British Commonwealth and others against the forces of aggression. Twice in that short time we have witnessed the awful toll of human life and the terrible devastation of war. Twice in the end we have prevailed after bitter bloodshed, suffering and sacrifice, but only to find that tyranny like a foul and loathsome disease, stopped in one place breaks out in another. What a load would be lifted from the body and spirit of men and women everywhere in the world if we knew with certainty that all nations not only could, but would, work for mankind in peace!! But we have learned through bitter experience that freedom and constant vigilance are inseparable companions. We labour for peace and because we labour for peace, we must be prepared to meet aggression no matter whence it might come wherever it may strike. There is no other way.

The waters of the Pacific Ocean which we may see from here, wash the shores of many nations. They spill over on to the shores of the new nations of South and South East Asia, with whom it is Australia's special purpose and desire, as is in part evidenced by the Colombo Plan for economic aid, to work in sympathy and understanding. Its seas thunder on the golden beaches and the rocky cliffs of my own beloved country. They stretch over a vast area of the surface of the globe.

The history of mankind has been largely determined by the influence of oceans. Modern civilization had its beginnings in a Mediterranean Epoch. It developed in an Atlantic period. It is now entering the Pacific era. It is no exaggeration to say that here in this ocean will take place great historical events which will determine not only the destinies of western civilization but of free men and women throughout the world.

This Treaty, directed to regional security in the Pacific, fashioned within the framework of the charter of the United Nations, and dedicated to its high and noble purposes, takes the first step towards what we hope will prove to be an ever widening system of peaceful security in this vital area. In this sense particularly, Australia welcomes the conclusion of a similar Security Treaty[ ]between the United States of America and the Republic of the Philippines.

With a proper sense of the great honour that now falls to my lot and in deep humility asking the blessing of Almighty God upon this undertaking, on behalf of His Majesty's Government in Australia and of my countrymen, I attach my signature to this Treaty.

1 Sent to the Australian Consul-General, E. K. Smart, at San Francisco.

[NAA : A1838, 250/7/10, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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