Billy Hughes

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The Dominions could not exist if it were not for the British Navy. We must not forget this. We are a united Empire or we are nothing.

William Morris Hughes, CH, KC (25 September 1862 – 28 October 1952) was an Australian politician who served as the 7th Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1915 to 1923. He is best known for leading the country during World War I, but his influence on national politics spanned several decades. Hughes was a member of federal parliament from Federation in 1901 until his death, the only person to have served for more than 50 years. He represented six political parties during his career, leading five, outlasting four, and being expelled from three.

Quotes[edit]

  • What was the economic policy of Britain going to be? It was not merely a question of a tariff; the great question, Were we going to take such steps as would ensure prosperity in Britain and throughout the Empire, or weakly by a policy of inaction allow the nation to drift on to the rocks? It was impossible for the workers of this or any other country in improve their working conditions unless sound economic conditions existed. And this could only be done by securing the home market and controlling the sources from which the raw materials came. Labour must, for its own protection, take up the question of after-the-war problems, of trade organisation, of securing raw materials. The Government should declare its policy, and the nation should see that no peace was made with the enemy by which these steps, so necessary for our salvation, were rendered impossible.
    • Speech in Cardiff (20 July 1918), quoted in The Times (22 July 1918), p. 3
  • Amongst those who are opposed to a sound economic policy are the pacifists. I am not surprised. A sound economic policy for Britain means material loss to Germany, and the pacifists seem to have a tender regard for her interests. “The Paris Economic Conference resolutions,” said Mr. Henderson, “must be strenuously opposed.” That is exactly what Germany said to Russia at the point of the sword. That was how Germany expressed the triumph of Prussianism. And Mr. Henderson says exactly the same thing. He goes on:—“British Labour desires to maintain the policy of the open door.” And Germany also desires us to maintain the policy of the open door. Emil Zimmerman says:—“The rise of Germany is due essentially to the British policy of the open door. Without that we should be at one stroke once more the Germany of 1870.” It is certainly curious, to say the least of it, that while England and Germany are locked in a life-and-death struggle an Englishman should agree with a German that the policy vital to the welfare of Germany should be maintained by Britain.
    • Speech in Cardiff (20 July 1918), quoted in The Times (22 July 1918), p. 3
  • He was sick of this canting humbug about internationalism. Nationalism, not internationalism, was the policy for Britain.
    • Speech in Cardiff (20 July 1918), quoted in The Times (22 July 1918), p. 3
  • They had now come out of the wilderness after a struggle which had torn the world to pieces. ... They had been opposed by the greatest instrument ever devised for the destruction of democracy—Prussian militarism. ... National safety for Australia was now in Australia's possession, and only their own folly could ever let that firm foundation on which they stood crumble beneath their feet. They had now the policy of a White Australia firmly established. (Cheers.) Australia was in the position of being able to say that Australia could be held now by the Australians. (Cheers.) He had had always appreciated the necessity for preparing for the defence of their great heritage. There had never been a day in the past when he had not seen quite clearly that the time would come when Germany or some other nation would endeavour to wrest it from them. The people of Australia were five millions, and they could never hold that country except by the means used by the Australian Imperial Force to achieve victory.
    • Speech to men of the Australian Imperial Force at the AIF and War Chest Club, London (4 July 1919), quoted in The Times (5 July 1919), p. 10
  • Australia regards the unveiling of the National Memorial not only as a tribute to her 60,000 dead but as a lasting symbol of that brotherhood of arms and blood which binds the Empire together. They and their brothers in Britain and the other Dominions fought and died to preserve the Empire and safeguard civilisation. They died that we might live as free men. They left us the legacy of liberty and a united Empire. It is for us to treasure their memory not only in the memorial now to be unveiled but in the realisation of those ideals and the maintenance of the Empire for which they gave their lives.
    • Message for the unveiling of the The Unknown Warrior, quoted in The Times (11 November 1920), p. 20
  • The difference between the status of the dominions now and twenty-five years ago is very great. We were colonies, we became dominions. We have been accorded the status of nations. ... What greater advance is conceivable? What remains to us? We are like so many Alexanders. What other worlds have we to conquer?
    • Speech to the Imperial Conference of 1921, quoted in Nicholas Mansergh, The Commonwealth Experience (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969), pp. 207–208
  • The Dominions could not exist if it were not for the British Navy. We must not forget this. We are a united Empire or we are nothing.
    • Speech to the Imperial Conference of 1921, quoted in Correlli Barnett, The Collapse of British Power (Eyre Methuen, 1972), p. 177
  • Look at the map and ask yourselves what would have happened to that great splash of red down from India through Australia down to New Zealand, but for the Anglo-Japanese Treaty. How much of these great rich territories and portions of our Empire would have escaped had Japan been neutral? How much if she had been our enemy? It is certain the naval power of the Empire could not have saved India and Australia and still been strong enough to hold Germany bottled up in the narrow seas. ... Had [Japan] elected to fight on the side of Germany we should most certainly have been defeated.
    • Speech to the Imperial Conference of 1921, quoted in Correlli Barnett, The Collapse of British Power (Eyre Methuen, 1972), p. 252

Quotes about Hughes[edit]

  • I then went to meet Mr. Hughes, the Australian Prime Minister. I found him a great Imperialist, and first and last out to win the war. He was there to do all in his power to help the Australian Imperial Force, and insisted that I should retain the command of it. He was a man of strong character and great determination, and a fine, forceful speaker.
    • William Birdwood, Khaki and Gown: An Autobiogaphy (Ward, Lock & Co., 1941), pp. 302–303
  • This plaque commemorates a great Australian and a distinguished champion of the whole Commonwealth and Empire in war and in peace. In his long lifetime he helped to mould the Australia of to-day. His pugnacious and imposing character made him one of the best known and best loved public men.
    • Winston Churchill's tribute to Hughes read out by Lord Denman at the unveiling of a bronze portrait plaque in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral (15 October 1953), quoted in The Times (16 October 1953), p. 11
  • He was a great Empire man and his name will be recalled with honour by future generations.
    • Robert Menzies' tribute to Hughes read out by Thomas White at the unveiling of a bronze portrait plaque in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral (15 October 1953), quoted in The Times (16 October 1953), p. 11
  • [Hughes] not only made Australia an earthly paradise for the working man but also ensured that it should last for ever as a white man's country.
    • Bishop of London William Wand's tribute to Hughes at the unveiling of a bronze portrait plaque in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral (15 October 1953), quoted in The Times (16 October 1953), p. 11

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