12 Letter From Norma Williams To Menzies

3rd November, 1951

Are you aware that two months after the signing of the peace treaty with Japan, and before its ratification by the representatives of the Australian people, goods are on sale in Sydney which could have been obtained from Britain, but were instead obtained from Japan? Are you also aware, that according to newspaper reports, British textile workers are unemployed because of Japanese competition in the textile market?

These goods are on sale, so I am informed by a relative who unwittingly bought them, at Murdochs, a large Sydney Department Store. My relative was told she could have the goods, pillowcases, at a cheaper rate if she would take those with the printing from the end of the roll of material on them (which will boil out). She did so, and on unwrapping the parcel found the printing consisted, in part, of the words 'Made in Japan'. This woman's husband fought the Japanese, when the threat to Australia was grave, for years in New Guinea.

Both Government and Press have told us that only those goods which are indispensable to Australia will be bought in Japan; we have also been informed that the only goods for which contracts have been signed are cement and steel. What are we to believe-the Government and the Press, or the evidence of our own eyes? Material for pillowcases is not indispensable, and could in any case have been obtained from Britain.

I am reluctant, personally, to see my country have any trade with Japan. Japan's rulers have not changed; Japan is ruled by the same gang, her industries owned by the same industrialists, who made war on this country and its allies only seven years ago. Her war criminals have in many cases been given their freedom. Her war potential is to be increased. It may be only another seven years, or less, before the capacity of Japan to make war, built up partially on Australian money, is sufficient for her unrepentant rulers to attempt invasion of this country once more.

However, some trade may be necessary in Australia's own interest.

I urge your Government to look into very carefully every application for licence to import Japanese goods, to make absolutely sure that no other possible source of those goods has been missed, and to review such licences frequently and rigorously. And, above all, I urge your Government to revoke such licences for textiles immediately, and never again, while Britain can supply our needs, allow Australian businessmen (though they are hardly worthy of the name Australian) to import goods from a country still technically our enemy. If we cannot obtain our needs from Britain, what is wrong with trading with India? Slave-wages prevail there, I hear, just as in Japan, but at least India is a member of the British Commonwealth and was our ally in the late war.

Personally, I shall boycott all Japanese and German-manufactured goods whenever I can buy goods manufactured elsewhere, and I shall urge everyone I know to do likewise.

[AA : A463/17, 56/984]