PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 1059


Photo of Menzies, Robert

Menzies, Robert

Period of Service: 19/12/1949 to 26/01/1966

More information about Menzies, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/02/1965

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 1059

Speech by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon, Sir Robert enie
Sir Norman, Parliamentary colleagues and ladies and gentlemen:
I am very happy to be here, because Norman Nock
is happy to have me here, and I tell you that this took
doing. He first of all started on me back in about September,
I think, or somewhere around there, or earlier. I found
every excuse in the world for saying no. He then had another
go at me and I found an equally valid excuse for saying no.
But he's like the character in " Alice in Wonderland" what
he says three times is right. And when he said it the third
time it was right I surrendered. And so I am here to perform
a very, very pleasant duty.
I am very glad to say that my pleasure is added
to by the fact that when I was sitting down there just now, I
turned around to the right and I saw, in one blow of the eye,
Dan Minogue, 14, P., and the Post Office clock. And this is
w.-orth mentioning, because this is a perfect further proof of'
the virtue of persistence; because the first gI times that
Dan Minogue got up and made a powerful speech even if a
trifle Hibernian about the Post Office clock I was heard
to say by my colleagues: " Lot of nonsense! L~ t of nonsense!
Thing looks better without the tower." But he won, in the
long run. Now the virtue of persistence is of course, a
great one . one of the great virtues. Enthusiasm and
persistence have done great things in this country and
Itd like to take this opportunity of telling you thai I regard
the N. R. M. A. as an outstanding example of what can be done by
this combination. It is very hard to believe in fact I I-ould
not have believed it unless I had seen it in print in the
annual report that you began really at the end ol 1923,
early 1924+ at about the time I was buying my first motor
vehicle. Now it is not a lon time ago, and to thin!, that within
that period of time you're Deginning to tal~ k soberly and
seriously of having a million members within another eight or
nine years is, I think, an almost phenomenal story, summarised
as it is in those figures.
Norman Nock said that he hoped that I or some
miserable successor at Canberra would be able to attend the
opening of a building there, having regard to the growth of
Canberra. ' dell, the growth of CanberraI just like the growth
of the N. R. M is a tremendous proof of what goes on in
Australia somethi~ ng that we ought to be more proud of,
perhaps, than we are.
When i first went to Canberra and became as
I was, I assure you an eminently respectable Attorney-General,
the population of Canberra was 6 000; you could stroll around
it in an afternoon. Now it is g07000; before you can say
" knife" l, it will be a hundred thousand. They tell me it will
be a quarter of a million not long after my time about
the turn of the century. So there's plenty of scope, Mr.
Chairman, plenty of scope for your work. ./ 2

Now I like, for the reasons that I have mentioned,
I like the symbolism of this great Association. Because it
does symbolise an Australian spirit and Australian growth.
We are a little bit inclined, aren't we, in Australia I seem
to have observed it myself a few times to " knock" our own
country or to " knock" our own Government ( well that I think,
is legitimate and sometimes justified). But we mustn't think
that our country is always wrong, or that some other countries
have some magnificent splendour about them that has been denied
to ours, because I affirm that this is the most exciting
country in the world. No country that wasn't exciting could
have in your own fashion, produced the results that you see
about you when you contemplate the record and achievements
of your own Association.
There is another thing about it. We have some
tendency, haven't we, to think that the Government is the
universal provider. I have even had deputations from
distinguished bodies including motorists' bodies who had
somethi~ ng to say to me on that point, and I won't revive these
arguments because I'm sure that before I'm much older, somebody
else will revive them for me. That's right. But there is
a disposition, isn't there, to say, 114all, we pay our taxes,
the Government should whatever the Government may be
Federal or State or TKunicipal it ought to attend toth
business." That is only true up to a point.
Governments and Government Departments are not, in
their nature, creators, They are regulators. They can come
in aid of what private citizens do, they can hinder what private
citizens do, but they are not in their own nature equipped for
the creative arts or the creative activities in a community,
These proceed from individuals. It is man and woman who are
the creative force in a community, It is the imagination of
the individual which, warming the imagination of a community,
or of a state, or of a nation, 9 can do such things for the
nation. And therefore) while Governments and Government
Departments have their -proper place, we must always be on guard
against thinking that they are the be-all and the end-all, the
port of first call and the port of last call, in all our
difficulties. Now the founders of N. R. M. A. understood this perfectly,
because if I were asked to define an organisation which
exemplifies the benefits of private responsibility, of a
sense of community of a sense of independence and of selfhelp,
I would say this is an outstanding example of it. Now
this is something to be proud of.
I have just been through this lovely building. It is
a good deal better than Parliament House at Canberra, and,
as my wife has pointed out the Board Room here is very much
better and more civilised than the Cabinet Room at Canberra,
But I have been through this lovely building and I share your
pride in it. But to go through it is to discover through the eye,
actually, what one has otherwise read on pieces of paper the
enormous variety of services that you provide. I even
revisited the glimpses of the moon by visiting your solicitor
in his office and there were briefs on the table, tied up
wtith red tape! Retrospectively my mouth watered. Oh, for
the dear dead days. But when they were on my table, they had
all come in, but on his table they were all ready to go out,
ready to gladden the hearts of some Junior Counsel. I felt for
them. It was lovely.

But to have all these people engaged in providing a
service to members in what may seem a rather dull occupation
but what, in my experience as a Junior, presented the most
infinite variety of activities And all being provided
for members by this great Association, and with great shx'eudness
if I may still stick to my lost like a good cobbler or with
great skill because I noticed in the report that, of the many
thousands of' occasions when appearances were made in court it
was only on a certain number that defences were entered. And
in those cases in which defences were entoz'od, 77% of the
defences succeeded* Now this is either a proof of the immense
skill and judgment exercised in this building, or of the
immense skill and judgmient of the Counsel who have been appearing
in these cases, or a new and genteel outlook on the part of
magistrates. Because I confess that in my time, which is now,
as you all know, many years ago, when I was appearing a little
in the Courts of Petty Sessions in Victoria, to appear for a
motorist charged with an offence was a mere formality. You got
your fee and he got his fine!
d~ ell, things have changed. Here's one excample, to
say nothing of the tremendous services that you give in the
field. This Association is an almost constant presence all
over the State, This is something to be thankful for. And
it is not done because an Act of Parliament said it had to be
done, It is not done because some Department was established
to do it. It is done because thousands of wise men and women
got together on this miatter and said, " We must have something
of this kind and we are prepared to establish it, and we are
prepared to maintain it." And the result is this tremendous
achievement that you are all thinking about today.
Now it would be a very poor show indeed if I spoilt the
opening of this building by rambling on, and I don't prop~ ose
to ramble on. All : I want to say is that Norman Nock spoke quite
truly when he said that he and I have been good friends for very
many years. I even listened to Norman make speeches when hie was
Lord Mayor, and that is the highest test of friendship, But it
is because of that, as well as all these other reasons of
substance that I have been referring to, that it has given me
very great pleasure to come here,
I would just like to say as she may not have an
opportunity of saying it for herself how deeply my wife
appreciates this rare compliment that you have paid her this
afternoon. I don't imagine there are many life members of this
Association of either sex. She is the first and she of course
is delighted, And delighted for an extra reason, an3that is t? 3t
al~ l our married life, or all our motoring life, I have been
heard occasionally to say, " Humph. 1 4oman driveril" ( This is,
mind you, a private admission-, it is not to go any further,
you know.) And she has in recent years, particularly, said,
" lNonsense. The women Lrivers are the best. Don't talk such
rubbish." You see? And Liow it turns out that stie's right.
Now thatts a wonderful thing. Here she is, demonstrated clearly
in the report on the graph, overwhelmingly, to be right. The
only comfort ihat I can take out of the same graph is that I
notice that the accident rate among the lads from 17 to 20 is
the d-ghest on the chart and I daresay some of my grandsons
will be entering that bracket disastrously in due course and
the fellows of 70 have the best record of the lot. 000000/ 4

Sir, I thank you very much for the opportunity
of coming here in a brief way to declare this building
open. I assure you that it is a very great privilege and
deeply appreciated by me.
I wish the Association all success. I hope and
believe that in another thirty years which will be, I
shrewdly suspect, after my time but not after the time of
some of you now present you'll have two million, and you'll
have three times the size of this building occupied in Sydney.
And as long as you do this will be living proof to the
people of what a greai country we live in and what magnificent
people we have in it.
Sir, I have great pleasure in declaring the
building open.

Transcript 1059