Australia's Bishops say
(Continued from page 1) pregnable bulwarks behind which Australia sheltered in the past have been torn down. The vacuum thus created is being filled by powerful forces which will be driven either by land hunger or by nationalism or by Communism to expand until they have overrun and subdued this country.
IS there any valid moral reason why we should strive for the survival of Australia as a nation predominantly European ? The answer to this question is all important.
The moral justification of Australia's survival will not simply be found in Australia's own achievement. This achievement, great in many respects, has been marred in others by manifestations of human frailty of which we can hardly be proud.
We have refused to populate this country. Contraception has ravaged our poulation. We have denuded the land and crowded our people into great cities.
Nor will the necessary justification be found in any false assumption of racial superiority which too often underlies the so-called White Australia Policy.
In fairness, it should be admitted that there is merit in the economic argument which has been used to justify this policy — that the mass migration of Asian peoples to Australia might be used by sinister forces to establish a cheap labour market to the detriment both of native Australians and of the newcorners.
The absolute exclusion of Asian migrants has little relation, however, to this economic argument and can hardly he justified.
In the last analysis. there is only one valid argument which will evoke the great sacrifice which will be needed to preserve Australia as a nation of primarily European texture. With all its defects. Australia is still to a considerable degree a Christian country.
The programme of European migration which is already under way will add greatly to the strength of the Christian elements in this country.
If these European migrants ane properly absorbed into the Australian community, within a century Australia can become a great Christian commonwealth.
A Christian nation located so close to Asia as Australia is, could be a major force in the conversion of Asia to Christianity.
But if Australia were absorbed by Asia within the next twenty years, it would be the absorption of a nation the basis of whose institutions is still largely Christian by peoples who, through no fault of their own, arc still pagan. It would he the elimination of a Christian culture by a pagan culture.
A Christian answer
IT is clear, however, that the
Christian culture of Australia will not be saved if it is only nominally Christian.
Is there a touchstone by which the true depths of Australia's Christian spirit can be gauged by Asian and Australian alike?
There is. As ever, the Christian spirit of a people will be judged by the charity which it manifests.
As a Christian people, and as part of the Western world, our duty towards Asia is clear. Asia suffers from an unbelievable poverty among its hundreds of millions of people.
In South and South-Fast Asia— those regions with which through the simple facts of geography we are most intimately connected—the great scourges of poverty, of starvation and of disease have reached depths which Europeans cannot begin to visualise.
Yet, it is not that South and SouthEast Asia do not possess the resources from which their teeming millions can be maintained. "The human and material resources of the area are large enough to solve its problems." declared the Commonwealth Consultative Comt$iittee (representing, among others, a number of Asian Governments) which evolved the Colombo Plan.
What is needed to enable Asia to maintain its millions is the development of its own great untapped resources. Asia's need is to bring under cultivation great tracts of land at present untouched by the plough, to irrigate lands with insufficient rainfall, to increase industrial power capacity, to expand and develop the present rudimentary transport services, to provide the beginnings of the industrial plant which Asia lacks. and to train technical experts in the skills which will be needed to achieve all these things.
How is Asia to achieve this immense transformation?
The pre-requisite is the inflow of capital on a very great scale— a scale which has been set down by experts at hundreds of millions of pounds. Because it is so underdeveloped. Asia cannot provide its own capital. -The Western World, on the other hand, possesses the resources with which the development of Asia could be begun.
The investment of a portion of the surpluses of the Western World in Asia—not to secure the exorbitant profits of the past but to ensure that Asia can maintain her people—is one of the methods by which the crying problem of Asia's poverty can be solved.
We wish therefore to stress the need for a great act of international charity which challenges the imagination, the moral worth and the essential Christianity of Western statesmen and of the Western Peoples to whom they are responsible.
Various export bodies in the United States have recommended the precise programme we have put forward, not so much for the moral reasons which should be utterly compelling for Christians, but because of the sheer necessities of foreign policy.
The British Commonwealth, in the Colombo Plan, has pledged itself to invest two billion pounds sterling to develop the backward economies of South and South-East Asia. All of this is but a beginning in the mammoth task involved in the development of Asia's resources, so that Asia's people may he fed. This programme will be carried through for high moral reasons of Christian charity—or it will not be carried through at all.
If it is left to business interest operating for private profit, it will not be undertaken at ail, for the returns will not be as great as those which can be obtained elsewhere. Nor would Asia accept this type of business investment of which it has had so many bitter experiences.
If it is left to politicians, as distinct from world statesmen, it may well be that, if the military power of international Communism were eliminated, the nations most involved in the programme would forget their obligations. It is not to their credit that these obligations were assumed so late in the day. largely through fear of Communism.
It would be unjust, immoral and disastrous if, with the elimination of Communism, the obligations and the promises were once again forgotten or ignored.
The salvation of Asia —and the consequent preservation of this country — will be achieved only if the Western World continues to realise its duty in Christian charity to the poor and oppressed people of that great continent; only if it acts in the knowledge that this is a moral issue and not primarily an economic or a political matter. If we refuse to accept the needy millions of Europe because it may possibly involve some temporary lowering of our own living standards, we shall discover that in our selfish attempt to hoard everything for ourselves we have doomed Australia to destruction and lost everything we value.
Australians must raise the level of public opinion within their community and thus automatically demand a higher level in public life. Thus, when great financial sacrifices must be made in the interests of our Asian neighbours, no vested interest or sectional group will -be allowed to stand in the way.
They must arouse the public conscience of the Western World, convincing it that the most remote Asian peasant is a brother to the citizens of the West and entitled to their fraternal aid.
Unless all of these things are done, Australia will not survive.
IN conclusion, it should be clearly understood by all, by the political leaders of the community and by the peoples whom they represent, that the very life of the nation is at stake, and that it will be an immediate issue every day for at least the next decade.
In this crisis, the nation cannot afford the luxury of internecine party strife, or the conflict of sectional interests which continually subordinate the public interests to their own immediate financial gain.
In this crisis, divisions which might be tolerated in normal times will certainly destroy us. Mediocrity, that fatal inability of a people to rise to the heights of sacrifice which a crisis demands, will certainly destroy us. Under God, it is only greatness of mind, of heart, of spins—which will save a nation endangered as Australia is today.