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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2928

SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER, MR EG WHITLAM, AT A VICTORIAN STATE ELECTION MEETING, ST KILDA TOWN HALL, MELBOURNE, 16 MAY 1973

Photo of Whitlam, Gough

Whitlam, Gough

Period of Service: 05/12/1972 to 11/11/1975

More information about Whitlam, Gough on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/05/1973

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 2928

SPEECH BY THE BRINE MINISTER
MR. E. G. WHITLAM, AT A VICTORIAN
STATE ELECTION MEETING ST. KILDA
TOWN HALL, MELBOURNE, 16 MAY 1973
When I asked the people of Australia to elect a Labor
Government on 2 December I said that we would need the help of all
Australians the best Australians in carrying out our mandate.
I still need that help. A vote for Labor a vote for
Clyde Holding on Saturday is one way of giving that help, that
support, We need that support.
We have to realise that we can never take anything for
granted: we have to realise that our opponents are bitterly
resentful about what happened last December0
The Liberal Party today is just the party of revenge0
They will miss no opportunity to take that revenge to take it
on the Labor Party, to take it on the Australian people0
It's incredible but true that this rabble, this mish-mash
of vested interests, factions, bitter old men and frustrated young
ones, this motley crew of incompetents still believe themselves to
be our natural heaven-born rulers0
They regard the verdict of 2 December as an aberration0 They
like to think that the Labor Government is only an interregnum.
Because of this attitude they will use every available
source of power to break the will of the Government and frustrate
the will of the people, to dilute the mandate you gave us0 They
must not succeed0 They hold power in the Senate and in the three
eastern States. The reactionary majority in the Senate will be looking to
Victoria next Saturday for encouragement for their disruption and
obstruction0 The Senate reflects the state of public opinion of three
and six years ago but that means nothing to these arrogant, fearful
men, It does not matter to them that they are flying in the face
of the clear and fresh expression of the will of the people: their
Withers are unrung.
The Senate is not being asked to ratify anything that was
not clearly spelled out in the Policy Speech. It was a clear precise
document0 We received a clear, precise mandate.
The House of Representatives this session will be putting
through 120 Bills all of them the legislative expression of the
Policy Speech0

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Unless our opponents in the Senate come to their senses,
unless they recognise what democracy is all about they will reduce
our legislative program to ruins.
Who will suffer thereby? It won't just be me, it won't just
be the Labor Party√ł The main victims will be the people of Australia,
the parliamentary system.
Not the least important aspect of our victory was to restore
faith in the parliamentary system to restore faith in the possibility
of change through Parliament.
Are those hopes, the hopes particularly of the new generation,
to be shattered on the rock of the wilfulness and bitterness of a
handful of Senators? We won't have a bar of it. The business of
Government can go on.
A great number of things can be done outside Parliament.
Indeed we showed that, in the early days of our Government. But we
were scrupulous to do nothing by extra parliamentary means for which
we did not have a clear and commanding instruction from the people.
But when a Government is forced, deeply against its own will
and inclination, to carry on the people's business by by-passing
Parliament, it's unhealthy for the Government, for the Parliament and
for the nation. We are not going to be forced into that position.
This country is still paying a heavy price for the opportunism
of Sir Robert Menzies in throwing the two Houses of Parliament out of
kilter in 1962.
As a result, since I became Deputy Leader just 13 years ago
I have had-to fight 8 national campaigns. But I don't suppose we can
blame Sir Robert Menzies for taking his chance when he saw it in 1963.
Nothing would give me greater pleasure personally and politically
to end this situation where the Government of Australia is to be
conducted in an atmosphere of perpetual electioneering.
I hope on Saturday the people of Australia will recall
recalcitrant, reacitionary Senators to their duty and call them to their
senses, I hope they will say on Saturday that they were deadly
serious about what they did last December and that they will insist
that the program of which we were elected is pushed through.
And it is not only the Senators: every vested interest who
feels in some way endangered or disadvantaged by our drive towards a
decent Australia is sweating on these elections. o / 3

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I won't say anything here about the strutting, stunting
Premier of Queensland Mr. 19%. ( 1 am referring to his electoral
support, not any other condition, not his dividends,,) All I can say
is I wish he would give Queensland and Australia a chance.
These are the people who rant and posture about our
electoral reforms0 Yet the Country Party Premier of Queensland has the
nerve to claim a popular mandate with 19% of the vote in that State.
The parties that tolerate that sort of electoral monstrosity
have the gall to preach to the Australian people about electoral
gerrymanders. The only electoral gerrymanders that survive in this country
were engineered by Labor's opponents.
They kept Labor out of office in South Australia for years
despite the will of the people. They still keep Labor out of office
in Queensland. They won't be allowed to deny Labor voters a fair and equal
chance in the national elections0
Our electoral reforms will ensure that no one group of the
population has an electoral advantage over any other. We dont believe
that country votes should be worth more than city votes or vice versa.
We are not going to allow privilege and social discrimination
to be permanently enshrined on our electoral laws.
Our electoral bill goes to the root of our parliamentary
democracy. Our electoral bill will bring nearer the only fair and
just basis for a voting system the principle of one vote, one value0
Who can trust the Liberals and their friends when it comes to
electoral reforms? They talked for years about votes for 18 year olds.
Mr. Gorton promised votes for 18 year olds at the last elections.
The Liberals broke that promise0 They were frightened of the
young people's vote.
Labor has legislated to give 18 year olds the vote. It was
left to my Government to carry through the reform promised by our
predecessors. 0
Our opponents are frightened of what' Labor can do with the
people's support. We have this extraordinary spectacle of the A. M. A. so-called
" fighting fund" a million and a half dollars to fight against our
health program0 A million and a half dollars five or six times the amount
spent by any of the parties in the last campaign. And for what?
V c*/

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To propagandise against a program which was at the very
heart of our policy in three national elections.
If any one issue was responsible for the tremendous gains
we made in 1969 the election which laid the foundations for victory
in 1972 it was our health program.
Nor all the misrepresentation of the not all their
millions, not all their false and misleading propaganda is going to
prevent us implementing our pledge to the people and is going to
prevent the Australian people from having a decent, efficient, just
health scheme. These are principally Federal issues but politics in
Australia is indivisible, certainly as far as the Australian Labor
Party is concerned. This is the third great meeting I have addressed in this
campaign in Victoria.
I know Mr. Snedden is much too busy to campaign in his home
State. But I have been glad to support Clyde Holding. I have b Tf
glad to indicate by my presence and by my wife's presence here
tonight the indivisibility of the Labor Party and the Labor program.
This is the first State election in this State since the
Victorian branch of our party was reconstructed and reformed in 1970.
Great progress has been made by our party in Victoria and
Clyde Holding has been in the forefront of that progress.
Victoria needs a young, contemporary and progressive leader.
Clyde Holding is such a leader.
Clyde Holding's actions in 1970 were as significant as those
of anyone in making Victoria the most successful branch of the Labor
Party in this country.
You have seen what our reforms achieved last December. The
biggest improvement in Laborts vote in any State occurred in Victoria.
The same progress can be achieved in the elections next Saturday..
I ask your support for Clyde Holding and the Labor Party
on Saturday, not just because they offer a better way for Victoria
but because I want a demonstration here in Victoria that the
irresponsibility and selfishness of our opponents in Canberra will
not go unheeded or unpunished.
A strong Labor showing on Saturday will give them the
warning they need. 0 0 000 0O * 0 a 0 0 0 e 0 0a 0

Transcript 2928