PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 4421

ADDRESS BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA, THE RIGHT HONOURABLE JM FRASER CH MP, TO THE AUSTRALIA BRITAIN SOCIETY/COOK SOCIETY, CAFE ROYAL, LONDON, 13 JUNE 1977

Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/06/1977

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 4421

AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSION LONDON
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Direct enquiry 01-433 ADDRESS BY THE PRIME 1MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA,
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE FRASER, M. P.,
TO THE AUSTRALIA BRITAIN SOCIETY/ COOK SOCIETY,
CAFE ROYAL, LONDON, 13 JUNE 1977
It is a great pleasure to have this opportunity to speak to you.
Your Societies' purpose of fostering the ties and understanding
between our two countries is an important one. The importance of
this task is in no way diminished by -he fact that our nations
share a common history, common democratic traditions, and
commitments. On the contrary, the situation which our two countries
along with other liberal democracies find themselves makes it
essential that we fully understand a-n clearly state the bonds we
have, and the interests we share. The nature of this relationship
the common interest of the democracies, is rarely sufficiently emphasised
or explored.
This is a somewhat meaty offering as he final course of a very good
lunch. But, I do intend to speak to : ou in a serious vein this
afternoon. This is a rare opportunity, and you will forgive me if I
am tempted to use the occasion to touch on some questions facing your
country and mine. The answers may ietermine future developments,
not only in Australia and Britain, but in other nations that
cherish free and democratic systems of government.
We are aware, but give little thought to the fact that the military
strength of authoritarian regimes is growing; the number of
nations committed to liberal democratic ideals has declined;
and around the world, human rights are still grievously infringed.
These circumstances are not irrelevant to our own policies
and our resoonse should be based on a global perspective.
Although the democracies are dispersei around the world, our future
is fundamentally a collective one. e need to understand
our inter-dependence, that we draw our strengths from one another,
commercially, politically, strategically, and perhaps most
important of all, philosophically. need to state openly
our common interests, and values. need to recognise that our
strength does not lie exclusively in t-he United States, Europe and Japan
not in any single region of the worii, but in our collective strength
and our collective purpose.
We cannot allow ourselves to be isclated from one another, either
strategically or commercially. Neith-er our national security, nor our
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economic well-being can be assured unless we take such a global
perspective. To ask for this approach is not to ask for too much.
For our; Societies are outward looking ones which do thrive on
their inter-connections with one another and with the rest of the
world. if we ignore this interdependence if for instance, we
take some temporary commercial advantage at another's expense then
we will have done damage to th. e interests we have in common.
We not only face important international challenges, but also major
domestic ones: the challenge of maintaining freedom and unity;
the challenge of relating expectations to resources; the challenge
to politicians to explain the problems they face-to the people;
the challenge of holding to good, and powerful ideas.
Perhaps the basic challenge is that maintaining freedom and unity.
We all know that no society can operate properly without a degree
of unity and cohesion. Maintaining our essential unity when there is
no single, overwhelmingly recognisable danger has always been a
fundamental problem for democracies. Today, the task of maintaining
liberty and unity is a more urgent problem than ever before.
Some people demand greater and greater freedom while rejecting the
legitimacy of any voluntary restraints and obligations. But freedom
is only possible if some degree of voluntary restraint and some degree
of political and social obligation is accepted. Democracy and anarchy
are not synonyms.
It is not a paradox to assert that to preserve the greater
freedom democracy'allows, some restrictions of freedom must be
voluntarily and responsibly accepted. Changing power relationships
and changing attitudes within democracies threaten that essential elemr
The proper authority of Parliament is challenged i its capacity
to resolve problems is put in question.
The second challenge is theproblem of rising expectations and th-..
inescapably reality of limited resources. Free men's aspirations
always reach out to a better society. This is one of democracy's
motive forces. one of the power forces for progress and achievement.
But there are'times when expectations so far exceed reality that
the result is hot progress but disillusion. We must all promote
an understanding of the limits of what is possible of the fact
that unreasonable gains by one group will involve unacceptable
deprivations for others. And we must promote this understanding
without forsaking our ideals of what should and can be achieved
in the future. Otherwise disenchantment with democracy and democratic
leaders will result.
As much as anything, the cause of unrealistic e:. ppecations lies
in the belief that government can year after : ear spend more
money than they raise. Keyne's view that high spending was
appropriate in times of high unemployment, low inflation, and low
interest rates has been translated by others into a policy for
all circumstances. The belief that we can spend our way out of
recession when inflation and interest rates are high, is a nonsense,
and needs to be put aside.

The nature of the democratic system played a major part in
fostering this illusion and promoting unrealistic expectations.
C6mpetitive bidding for electoral support has too often been allowed to
replace objective judgemenit and sound policy. This is based on a
somewhat cynical view of the-people's intelligence. A cynicism
democracies can no longer afford.
Economic reality, plain truth and their national acceptance
are now a pre-eminent requirement. The magnitude of the economic
problems we face suggests that any other course would involve
considerable danger. The competitive bid is no longer an option.
Democracy depends on the good sense of people That good sense
and judgement has seldom been adequately tested.
The final point I want to make is concerned with the democratic idea.
The democratic idea was once powerfully held and vigorously propounded.
With this idea aa a level, people'removed massive obstacles to freedom
and created liberal democratic societies. That power in that idea gave
birth to free societies.
Today, while people still believe that democracy is better than
other systems, there has emerged a doubt about the capacity
of our system to cope with contemporary problems, and a complacency
about the security of democratic institutions and values.
This doubt, this complacency must be dispelled. We must
revive the power and vitality of liberal democracy's fundamental idea.-
The importance of free people in human affairs; the fact that free
men andwomen can influence and shape reality not merely reflect it.
So long as we do this, so long as we do not lose our sense of
ourselves, our sense of purpose, and so long as we seek to understand
and strengthen one another, we will surmount whatever challenges there
may be. 000000000

Transcript 4421