Only Lloyd George surpasses him in force and fervour of eloquence. He has a marvellous trick of expression that never fails to make a winning appeal. His speeches are the Bible of the Australian worker, and they are fast becoming part of the Gospel of the wide-awake and progressive British wage-earner.
Since he was the first Statesman of the Empire to appreciate the grave business responsibilities that will come with peace, it is interesting to get his ideas on the relation between Trade and Government. In one of his impassioned speeches in England he declared:
“The relations between modern trade interests and national welfare are so intimate and complex that they cannot be treated as though they were not parts of one organic whole. No sane person now suggests that the foreign policy of the country should be dealt with by the laissez-faire policy. No one would dare openly to contend that the national policy should be one of ‘drift,’ although I admit that there are many most excellent persons who by their attitude seem to resent any attempt to steer the ship of State along a definite course as being an impious attempt to usurp the functions of Providence, whose special business they conceive this to be.
“I want to make one thing quite clear, that what I am advocating is not merely a change of fiscal policy, not merely or even necessarily what is called Tariff Reform—although this may, probably will, incidentally follow—but a fundamental change in our ideas of government as applied to economic and national matters. The fact is that the whole concept of modern statesmanship needs revision. But England has been, and is, the chief of sinners. Quite apart from the idea of a self-contained Empire there is the idea of Britain as an organized nation. And the British Empire as an organized Empire, organised for trade, for industry, for economic justice, for national defence, for the preservation of the world’s peace, for the protection of the weak against the strong. That is a noble ideal. It ought to be—it must be—ours.”
An extract from another notable address will reveal his gift of words. Commenting on the frightful price in human life and treasure that the Empire was paying, he said:
“Let us take this solemn lesson to heart. Let us, resolutely putting aside all considerations of party, class, and doctrine, without delay, proceed to devise a policy for the British Empire, a policy which shall cover every phase of our national, economic, and social life; which shall develop our tremendous resources, and yet be compatible with those ideals of liberty and justice for which our ancestors fought and died, and for which the men of our race now, in this, the greatest of all wars, are fighting and dying in a fashion worthy of their breeding.
“Let us set sail upon a definite course as becomes a mighty nation to whom has been entrusted the destiny of one-fourth of the whole human race.”