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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 560

AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL OF RETAILERS' DINNER AT HOTEL CANBERRA, CANBERRA ACT ON 18TH JULY 1962 - SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE RT. HON. R G MENZIES

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: 18/07/1962

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 560

AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL OF RETAILERS' DINNER AT
HOTEL CANBERRA CANBERRA, A. CT.
ON 1 8' H JULY. 19
Speech by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon, RoGMonies
Sir, I would like to say, first of all, thank you
on behalf of my wife. She has been out of action for the
last two or three months, but she did hope to be here tonight,
and then, by the inscrutable wisdom of Providence, she
developed one of those sniffly, wheezy colds, in which she
found herself intolerable company for herself and for other
people. And so she decided, entirely in you. r interests, not
to come and whistle out germs on you, But when I go back
home, as I do occasionally ( Laughter) and tell her what you
said about her, and what other people approved of about her,
I'm perfectly certain that within twentyfour hours, she will
be saying to me, " Why didn't you insist on me going?" ( Laughter)
Because really you have spoken, I was going to say generously,
but I would prefer to say justly, about her and I will have
great pleasure in telling her what was said about her tonight
and how you received it,
I would also like to say, Sir, that apropos of young
Johnson, who has a genius so great that he ought to be working
for the Government, ( Laughter) ( Make a note of that, will you,
Hazel) ( Laughter) I liked in particular, the second-last
verse ( Laughter) There are no press here, so I don't need to
embarrass my partner and colleague, Jack McEwen, but he has
been referred to, as you may know, as " Black Jack" and I
occasionally address him as " Black" and, occasionally, when
I am in c highbrow mood, I address him as " Lo Noir" ( Laughter)
That's only when I don't want the other Country Party Minister
to know what I'm talking about. ( Laughter) And I love this
verse " We've asked the swarthy, crony Jack." Now John,
you must admit this is the best description of you that has
ever been put on the swarthy crony Jack", And'Hal"
now, really, if everybody would start lo call Harold " Hal",
we'd win the next election. ( Laughter) ( Applause) John, you
and I must start this fashion Hal who's gi'en us
mony a crack" ( Laughter) and theni rather dirtily, ( Laughter)
rather offensively, ho adds, which yersel' ye're nae
sae slack." ( Laughter) And I plead guilty, at once, to that.
And then he says, " A fearsome trio". Well, up to that point,
you might almost think you were reading the Sydney " Sun"
( Laughter) or the Sydney " Mirror" ( Laughter) or other humorous,
juvenile publications. ( Laughter) And then in brackets,
young Johnson says bowing in the direction of the balance
sheet, ( Laughter) "( But in a profit race I'd back Hosts Tam
and Theo)" Now this, I think, is the most superb verse written
in lowland Scots since Burns himself, ( Laughter) All that
stuff about " Wad the Puir, the Giftie gie us" it's very good.
My father used to recommend it to me in vain for a long time.
I mean the moral he used to recommend. But this fellow,
Johnson, has in that one verse, concentrated the whole fury,
and the whole glory, of Australian politics and the profit
and loss account, ( Laughter) of the Retailers' Association,
Now, the other thing I want to say to you is that
you may be surprised to know that two such contentious fellows
as John McEwen and I are hero tonight, Well, I will explain
it to you. I must begin on Monday. On Monday, I was in
Sydney and on ionday night I went to a Dinner to celebrate the
So00C oo/ 2

Fiftieth Anniversary of what was called, in the plural,
" The Commonwealth Banks" and it wasn'c a very happy night,
I received a moderate reception, modified rapture ( Laughter).
Under great pressure, I thought of one or two bright remarks
that they laughed at. But really, on the whole the Government
wasn't too good on Monday night ( Laughter) and we came
back here, and yesterday morning, afternoon and night were
discussing the Budget. Oh, I'm so glad there are no Press
here tonight because if I even mention the Budget, with the
press here, somebody, looking at the left eyebrow or the
right, would say, " The Prime Minister gave a broad hint"
( Laughter) You know what I mean about this or this or
this the poor old fellow hadn't thought of.
And therefore I'm lucky because yesterday, morning
afternoon and night, we discussed the Budget or aspects of
it; today, morning and afternoon, and when we were finishing
up at six o'clock this afternoon, the Treasurer, who is not
unconscious ( Laughter) of what people say about him, though
they could say it with much greater force about me, but some
old inhibition makes them say, " Well, the old fellow, you
know but, anyhow, he said, " I think we ought to sit
tonight" and, obviously, we should. And so we made a little
arrangement under which my swarthy friend and I came out to
tea, having a pair, so to speak, and tonight, they're working
on , omothing or other; well, I hope for the best and so does
he. And in the morning no doubt it will come out all right.
And tomorrow morning tomorrow afternoon, tomorrow night, we'll
be at it again, and by midnight tomorrow night, we will all
look at each other in the anteroom and say, " Well I wonder
what the retailers will say about this. ( Laughter3 I wonder
what the manufacturers will say about it." To which I will
probably add in my well-known cynical mood, " I wonder what
we will say about it when we read it". ( Laughter) And,
anyhow, that's the way it goes.
I must make the apologies tonight, Sir, for my
colleagues, most of whom would much sooner have been here
tonight than whacking out arguments on the Commonwealth Works
and Services Programme. Isn't that what they're on tonight?
Yes. Overall is here tonight Well, that's cowardly on
his part because if he were there, they would chop his vote
down by a million, ( Laughter) That's the kind of thing that's
going on, All I want to say I don't want to say anything
about the Budget except one thing perhaps. We've had the
great advantage, Tom ( Pettigrew), of hearing you and other
people on the state of the economy, I even heard two or
three people say that this was a year in which the Government
might take its courage in both hands and Budget for a deficit.
If you'll allow me to say so I'm not addressing your wives
who are much more sensible I'm addressing the rest of you
" Could anything be more funny?" We are not facing a problem
this year of whether we ought to budget for a deficit or
not; we are facing the problem of how much it ought to be
( Laughter) and this is not all that easy. I don't think
anybody could ever accuse me of ignoring the views of what
I night loosely call the ordinary man, the man in the street,
the man who runs a business, I've never been one of those
people who pretend that he can run a great business better
than the people who run it. It has never occurred to me.
But my business happens to be the business of the nation and
on this, after many many years, I think I might modestly
claim to have serve an apprenticeshipo ( Hear, hear).

The business of the nation. And this is not only
social and international but it is financialo It is all
these things. And all I want to say to you is, I have no
hidebound rules in my mind, I haven't been given orders by
anybody, but I have an acute sense of responsibility, not
only to my own country in 1962, but to my own country in
1963 and 1964 and 1965, ( Hear, hear) Because the job of
the politician is to say, " How many votes can you win next
week", I've had it; I've no interest tc. serve on this
matter. When they throw me out, they will throw me out.
I won't mind Buit the job of the statesman is to say, " What
is happening to my country and to the world not next week
but next year and the year after and in ten years' time?"
( Hear, hear) ( Applause)
We in Australia are not responsible for the future
shape of the world. No, but we have some influence over
it. It's a great mistake to think that the great countries
of the world go by the headlines. They do not go by the
headlines any more than I do, but they are influenced by
people from the great countries in the world, and we happen
to represent one of the great countries. Don't think that
I am suffering from any form of illusion that 102 million.
people count as much in the world as 200 million. I do not.
But I'd like to tell you that in this very year of grace my
distinguished colleague, what's he called " swarthy crony
Jack" he and I have both been in London, in Europe, in the
United States of America, and I will undertake to say that
between us, we have put ideas into people's minds ( hear, hear)
which they didn't have before we went, ( Applause), And in
that sense, we in Australia exercise an influence.
But for ourselves, in Australia, our prime responsibility,
look, do let me say, our task, is not on any Budget or
on any measure or on anything else to please you to please
John, or to please Bill or to please Tom. Thats not the
job. The job is to develop this country, 10o million people
a vast area to develop it as fast as we can into one of the
significant countries intrinsically in the world. What have
they in America? 180, 190 million people. This is colossal.
The same sort of area as we have ourselves, and we have
We are not going to have 10-forever, The day will come,
perhaps not in my time, w: hen it will be 20, the day will come
when it will be 30 or
Provided we exercise our genius and produce energy,
enthusiasm, a sense of devotion to our country there is no
reason why, at the turn of the century, Australia should not
be intrinsically one of the great nations in the world, or,
at any rate, one of the very great nations in the Southern
Hemisphere, And, really, as one grows older, one thinks less
of the next week or of the next election, about which I couldn't
care less. One thinks more and more of what kind of corntry
one's grandchildren are going to live in or one's greatgrandchildren
are going to live in. This is tremendously
important. And what kind of a country is it? Not one in
which everybody lives on the Government. That's a dependent
country, not an independent one, A country in which we
have made ourselves grow, in which we have understood that
the great industries take the manufacturing industries
must expand, if we are to expand our population, if % e are
to have more and more people; one in which the tertiary
industries are expanding, one in which the primary industries,
which are the very root of our international existence, .2 .6 0 0

succeed, grow, increase their productivity and do it at a
cost level which does not price them o-. t of the worldts
market, It is simple to state it, isn't it, in that way
and not very simple to achieve. Not very simple to satisfy
the demands of the manufacturer and at the same time keep
the woolgrower, the whoatgrower and the rest of them out of
trouble. Not so simple,
The interesting thing about Australia, the great
challenge about Australia is that every section of the economy
has its own demands, its own ambitions, which somebody might
call selfish ones, but in which all of these must be reconciled,
made loss selfish, made more conformable with the general
set-up of the country, so that when I've been given my
inevitable State funeral twenty years before, people will
be able to sit up at peace in Australia, have friends to
dinner at peace in Australia and in security and say, " You
know that in the last twenty years, this country has developed
to an extent that even the Americans, in the sixties of the
last century, didn't think of."
Now, Sir, this is a great ambition, and all of us
who preserve our sense of responsibility, contribute to it.
I am a great admirer of what is done by the manufacturers.
I am a great admirer of what is done by the importers. I
am a great admirer of what is done by the retailers. You
may go right down the list, and I have never had any stupid
ambition to try to run their business for them. But all I
hope is that all of us will never get so far out of balance
that we think our particular interest is to be preferred to
the interests of other people. I would hope that over the
years to come, difficult years, tremendously difficult years;
I am not only talking about the Common Market or something
of that kind, but talking about the difficult years in front
of this country down in its rather remote corner of the world.
I hope that in all those difficult years we will, as far as
we can, forget to be sectional and practice increasingly to
be Australians ( hear, hear) with one nation to serve and one
end to produce for our children and our grandchildren.
( Applause) o

Transcript 560