PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 217


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: 15/09/1960

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 217

Sir: I am delighted to be here in such delightfully mixed
company at the top table. I say nothing of the rest of you
who, after all, are paying for us, but I must say I've never
seen you look more relaxed or more human.
The first time I ever attended a dinner of the
Chamber in this place, in which I felt instinctively as I
looked around, " After all, they are all human beings"
( Laughter) Rather a pleasant sensation.
But up here of course, we're a mixed grill: I have
Dr. Heffron ( Laughter my old friend. Je both became
Doctors on the one day, did you know that? Of course not:
you're very ill informed. You are so busy attacking the
Government that you have no time for more interesting matters.
( Laughter) Bob Hoffron and I became Doctors on the one day ho
a Doctor of Letters, not including letters to the Sydney
Morning Herald ( Laughter) and I a Doctor of Law.
And also 1e have at the top table if I may make a
brief selection, my distinguished telegenic friend, Arthur
Calwell ( Laughter, Applause) who has torn himself away from his
television fans ( Laughter) for this night only, bringing with
him his Deputy, Gough 4hitlam. He's here somewhere tall,
good-looking fellow. They always have to travel together
otherwise they might disagree. ( Laughter)
So that wc at the top table here very properly
are the dead heads tonight and you, thank Heaven, are the
contributors. Judging by the Company reports that I have been
reading, you can jolly iell afford to entertain us ( Laughter)
at dinner. Now I've been tricked tonight. In the past what has
happened has been this: I've been about number five on the
list and somebody has got up and made a most offensive speech
about meno which has increased my blood pressure to such a point
that it has become normal. And then I've sort of fought my
way out. And tonight some low cunning I think it must be
the new secretary some low cunning has been exercised and I
have to break the ice. I go first. I can't feed on the
crumbs that fall from the poor man's table. I have to go
first and break it up. And I have to say something, I believe,
about Australian industry.
Nov, Sir, this is a most interesting title because I
can remember young as I am I can remember a time when the
toast would be " Australian manufacturing" or, in another
setting, " The / ool industry", or, in another setting, " The
Wheat Industry" according to where you were, and the particular
political circumstances in which you found yourself.
But tonight it is " Australian Industry". And that
very title tells me all that I want to tell you. Because
Australian industry has now begun to see itself as something so
closely related, one part to another, that it is almost

No longer do we need to go along and say to
manufactures, " Oh, it's quite all right, we ought to havo
manufacturers. Whatever they say against you, my dear boy, I
think there is a little to be said for you, you know,."
That day has gone. And the day has gone when
people in the great primary industries devoted their waking
hours to denouncing the existence of manufacturing in their
own country. And the day has gone by when both of the, or either
of then, occupies any time in talking about, what shall I call
it? " tertiary" industry: all the complexities of modern
commercial existence upon which, in the long run, we all
depend. And so " Australian Industry" it is. Industry
inter-dependent; industry in a country, a great and growing
and marvellous country, which itself enjoys inter-dceendence
with other groat free communities in the world.
It is really one of those occasions. I think it is
almost historic when the very name of the Toast conveys to us
something of the quality of the now Australia.
In my very earliest days when I was a boy, if you
can exercise your inagination to think of such a time, it was
many, many years before I ever became Prime Minister it is a
long time ago and in my very earliest days, born and bred
in the bush with whoatcrops nodding over the fence, I had a
father who used to say to me in the long winter evenings:
" Robert we must have manufacturing in Australia. you must grow
up to be a protectionist". Well at the age of ten you don't
quite know rhat a Protectionist is, do you? But I learned, I
learned. The old man gave me the works. By the tinm I was
fourteen I was a much more bigoted protectionist than a ro) dern
member of the Country Party. ( Laughter)
But those wore the days when it all had to be done
defensively. Those wore the days when Australia was thought
about in other countries, and perhaps even in the nother
country of our race, as a farming community. Those days have
gone. Australia today is two things. And it is worth
remembering them: It is a great industrial country and it is
a great trading country. are one of the groat tr; oaing
nations of the world. And how do we trade? Not just by
buying; not just by selling. But by doing it buth ways. A
great trading country'
Now up to now, or up to the oti-r day, owhe . ave sold
to the rest of the world predomrinantly the products of the
soil and of the pastures and of the skill of the c. untry. As
manufacturers we have predoninantly provided for ourselves.
We have said, 1oll we have a good ho-e market;
it's adequately protected". I say that loosely and
rhetorically gentlnmen ( Laughter) because I know that you all
feel that it never has been. But still, by and largo, you're
out of the Bankruptcy Court. Therefore I venture to say that
on the whole our manufacturing industry has been adequately
protected. But primarily we have sold to ourselves, to our
neighbours in our own country. Australian manufactu-ing
doesn't need to come of age in Australia: it came f ' go a
long time ago in . ustralia. But it does need to come of ae
in the internatio nal sensc.

I can't believe that Australia will occupy the place
that she ought to occupy in the world if her balance of
payments, her overseas reserves, depend primarily and substantially
on the price of wool, or the wheat crop, or the
price of wheat, or the prospects of the beef industry, or
whatever it may be.
These are, of course, troeendously important things.
But what has any groat exporting country in the manufacturing
field, what has it got that we haven't got? More skill? I
decline to believe it. I'n vain enough to say that in any
comparable fields of human activity, Australians ought never to
take second place in skill, or character, or quality, or
courage ( Applause). So wo don't give way in that field,
Somebody says, " Well, of course, we don't have the
same turnover; we don't have the same volume of business". I
don't suppose they did, once. I am prepared to assert that if
we have enough imagination to get up out of our own backyard, we
will find, in this new world which is blossoming all around us,
a field for our activities which will make those who were
gloomy about business turnover today, wonder what happened to
them in ten years tine.
All this requires an imaginate effort. We must get
up over the border of our c) untry and have a look at the world,
And if you look at the world, well what do you see?
You see new-nation after new nation coming what to? To
political independence? Yes. That is perhaps relatively easy.
But it is of no importance whatever unless they also cone,
perhaps not quite so fast, but in the quick run, to economic
independence. You look across Africa. You read the newspapers an.,
you see that there are eight, nine, now African countries
seeking to join the United Nations. oleo pen the newspapers and
we read all the horrors of the Congo internal disputes. We open
our papers and we read about Asia and Sjuth-East Asian countries
and all the turbulence that exists in countries from Laos to
Cambodia, to South Vietnam, moving down into Indonesia, our
nearest neighbour. Jell do we just look at this? And fool afraid? And
feel apprehensive? Or do we take enough time off to say to
oursclves, " What's going It nay be extraordinarily
uncomfortable at present; it may be marred by all sorts of
revolting incidents. But what is joing on is that you have
hundreds of millions of people struggling, not only to the
political life, but to a new standard of life and of living.
And here we are, Australia, right on the corner of
this development: the most advanced country, industrially, to
be found in the Southern Hemisphere, with people all of whom
are free and intelligent and active at least 49-or 50Jo of
them are intolligent politically ( Laughter). But let us use
it broadly and metaphorically: an intelligent people, a
people accustomed, each of him, to a standard of living, a
material standard of living better than his father's and ruch
better than his grandfather's.
This is a wonderful country to be in. And here we
are with all the advantages of technique, of technology, of
experience, of skill, of courage, of imagination. Why can't
these things bring about a result that in 50 years' time we
needn't worry: we won't be here but in 50 years' time
Australia is one of the great exporters of the product of her
factories, one of the leading exporters, and is able to say
that so far as she goos with the rest of the world her oconomy

is as soundly placed as any of the groat exporting nations of
the first half of the twentieth century.
Now I just say that to you. Not to be rhetorical,
but to urge you to soe with the eye of imagination what a
remarkable opportunity we have.
I know you nay , o away and say, " Well, of course we
could do that if it were not for the Government". Well
Governments, I'n happy to say, cone and -o and if we happen to
enjoy your favour we begin to think that we did a fri htfully
good job. We nay not be right.
As an old political sweat I want to toll you this:
That all the good things that have been done in Australia,
all the wonderful adhiovenents that have been made in
Australia, have been made by ordinary Australian non and wonen
with courage and with enterprise.
And because I believe that, I have the greatest
pleasure in the world in standing up before you tonight, never
having yet, contrary to all precedent, boon hooted even once,
and propose to you, not just as Manufacturers, but as prominent
citizens of a great all-round country, with groat all-round
industrial achievement, I stand and ask you to drink the
health of " Australian Industry".

Transcript 217