DEFENCE OF THE PACIFIC
PitIME MINISTER OF COMMONWEALTH 1 SUGGESTS CO-OPERATION-BETWEEN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND. The Right Hon. A. Fisher, Prime "Minister of the Commonwealth, arrived at Auckland yesterday. Though his visit to New Zealand is primarily recreative, Mr Fisher hopes to find opportunity to foster a greater intimacy between tho Commonwealth and the Dominion by discussing the subject with the public men of New Zealand. A general statement of his views regarding naval defence was given by Mi Fisher last evening. He bad not prepared any definite scheme for the consideration of bis audience, but was content to enunciate a broad basis ot argument in favor of an Australasian policy. He declared that the events of the past few months had shown that the defence of the British Dominions in the Pacific was a matter demanding tho urgent consideration of the Australasian people from the point of practical necessity, e-nme people thought that the close of this contest with Germany and Austria would be followed by a peaceful period of manv years, but lie remarked that such a hope was too uncertain a foundation upon which to trust our safety and security. It was quite unreasonable to expect the Mother Country, with the pnomv at her gates, to devote her energy in the defence of distant Dominions whose tiwn strength enabled them to act in their own behalf. Moreover, tho national development of both Australia __and New Zealand would be stimulated if they determined to rely upon their own resources lor the defence of their countries, lor rliiea they already realised themselves to so responsible by undertaking the maintenance of a. naval force which was directly part of the Britrsdi Navy, but under the executive control of the two countries, so that it amid be utilised speedily ami efficiently at any time. Experience during the existence of the Australian licet bad shown that local control in naval defence was the most utilitarian and probably the only practicable method.
.Mr Fisher declared that the interests inti the destiny of both Australis and New Zealand wore so irrevocably related that it seemed to him that- co-operation was desirable and advantageous to both countries In some respects the interests of Canada were involved, hut her alfatrs were not so closely allied with ours. Suva a eo-operation need not impair the autonomy or the responsibility of either country. Theer was no idea in Australia that the Commonwealth should exercise a dominant control in the partnership, nor had it any desire to intlnenco the Dominion beyond its immediate interests and our rommon advantage. There tumid he no doubt that our responsibilities as Dominions would greatly increase with the growth in our population and importance. In his opinion the day had already come when our own self-respect should persuade ia to abandon the. policy of reliance upon the British taxpayer for our protection. vVe were not richer in financial resources, but. our countries were much richer in productive power, and our condition d - mantled that we should hear at least our full share of oar own deieiice, and so moperate in the maintenance of the Empire. -Mr Fisher added that he hoped to foster public sympathy with the policy !v w.i■idvocating. "If no more is achieved." he mnarked. " we can at least gam a. proper knowledge or each other’s point ot view, Whether New Zealand is prepared to enter into .such a. scheme of. co-opera-tion or not, Australia will continue to do her part in accordance with this policy, building her own ships, and striving to make her defensive pre'-autioiu independent of other countries.'' Mr Fisher will remain in Auckland until about Saturday, when he will proceed to Rotorua for a brief stay. A tour embracing tim whole of tho main districts of New Zealand is being mapped out.
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DEFENCE OF THE PACIFIC, Evening Star, Issue 15687, 29 December 1914