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Coe &j)%nep iîflornwg; ©trato.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1933.
MR. BRUCE AND AUSTRALIA.
From the expressions of opinion pub- lished In our columns this morning, it is clear that the Country party and the primary producing Interests which it represents regard the mooted resigna- tion of Mr. Bruce from Australian politics as a calamity. Dr. Earle Page speaks of the possibility as "a tragedy," and expresses the opinion of public feeling far outside the ranks of his own party when he says he hopes It is not too late for the whole matter to be reconsidered. All that has been officially stated is that the formal announce- ment of Mr. Bruce's appointment as High Commissioner is withheld pending receipt of Mr. Bruce's resignation of his
seat in Flinders along with his reslg- '
nation from Cabinet. Whatever the situation at the middle of last month which induced the Prime Minister to
I accept this resignation as the better of two alternatives, the aspect of things looks differently now In the light of aroused public opinion. The leader of the Country party protests against Mr. Bruce's going being associated with particular party interests. He and others declare that the friction between the two parties that fought the late election together would vanish like the morning mists with Mr. Bruce in his proper place here again. That statement invokes the question of leadership, and from that aspect alone there is force in the demand. The country wants at this juncture the best leader it can find, and about the unrivalled qualities of Mr. Bruce in this regard there is no dispute.
A wider public opinion than that of the Country party alone is aroused to protest against the relegation of Mr. Bruce to what Dr. Page calls the posi- tion of a mere servant of Cabinet, In which his influence has been pre- eminent. The resignation of several important Ministers from Cabinet during the past twelve months has weakened the team, as we have already pointed out; and this weakness must be repaired for sake of maintaining both here and overseas confidence that the policy which has restored Australian credit will be pursued with unabated resolution. Unmistakably Mr. Bruce has stood in the public eye as the main strength in the Ministry. The country learned his value as a leader during his seven years' term as Prime Minister. As for party politics, he was notoriously less a party man than any other Prime Minister of Australia had ever been. No Australian in Parliament or out of it has had his wide experience In finance and public affairs, in Australia and outside it. His recent absence from the local political arena, so far from being a disadvantage, has vastly enhanced his value as a leader on the course which Australia must follow. He has had an unrivalled experience and education in the conduct of Imperial and international affairs, and has won a reputation for statesmanship among
the leaders of all British countries. It is inexplicable that at this time, and after such proof of Mr. Bruce's value to Australia, the very Government which owes so much of its reputation to his own work should, even with some com- placency, be prepared to let him depart. Nobody credits for a moment the ostensible reason given by Mr. Lyons, that the absence of Mr. Bruce in London as Resident Minister is felt to prejudice the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility for Cabinet decisions. It seems to be a very sudden discovery.
Public opinion will not be disposed to let Mr. Bruce go like that, and some means must be found for bringing reconsideration to the matter of his proffered resignation. Mail distance from London and the formal require- ments of the process of resignation have happily interposed delay, and every advantage ought to be taken of that delay to represent public feeling to the Prime Minister. There is no reason why Mr. Bruce should not remain for a further short term as Resident Minister if his continued presence in London be essential; but It were better that some other Minister should relieve him of that work than that the interests of Australia should suffer in the manner threatened. As Dr. Earle Page says, the decision at this time, and the reasons given for it, are incomprehensible. Australia has made distinct recovery, but we have by no means overcome our difficulties, and there is no man better equipped to direct the Commonwealth's course on the path of the new Imperial economic policy than Mr. Bruce, who helped to design that course at Ottawa. The implicit trust in him and depend- ence upon him by the Prime Minister, both at Ottawa and in London for the loan conversion negotiations, appear Incongruous beside the present readi- ness to relegate him now to the back- waters of the High Commlsslonership.