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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 655

ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF NATIONAL FARMERS' UNION OF AUSTRALIA, HELD AT CANBERRA ON 15TH NOVEMBER 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: 15/11/1962

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 655

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ANNUAL CONFERZ; NCE OF
T L:
NATIONA! L FARMERS' UNION OF
AUST ALI, A HELD AT CANBERA
ON 15TH NOVEMivBER 1962.
.2. Lecn & b the Primo Minister, te GMenzies
Mr. President and Gentlemen
I was thinking of the nrme of your body, the
National Farmers Union and that naturally rovoked in me
thoughts about the importance of a measure of unity among
organisations which represent primary producers and I know
that your own body represents a very substantial move in
that field. It has always been important, it has always
been difficult, because if I m! ay say so, having been born
among them and seen a few of them since the man on the
land is essentially an individualist, t hasn't been an
easy task to develop organisations of yciiur kind, but it is
tremendously important that that kind of work should go on,
I believe that we are, increasingly, in a period in Australia
when the highest possible degree of concerted opinion and
concerted advocacy on the part of men on the land will be
needed. I dontt say that in a gloomy way, hut I say it
because I think we are entering a period of very great
challenge. ! e have this challenge confronting us, as a
matter of fct, in several ways.
First of all, we hiiave all been exorcising our
minds about the Common Market and I dontt propose to make
a long talk to you about that becaus, really, there is yet
very little fresh to be said on it as a result of whlat has
or hasn't happened in the last six wee* ks. But I do think
that we all reaise that unless these negotiations by Great
Britain break down compl. etely, which is in the highest
degroe improbable I would havs thought, then the terms on
whichl Great Britain wi. ll ultimately enter the E. E. C. must
have an impact on what has bean our traditional pattern of
trade. We can't expect in the next six months or twelve
months or whatever it may be to find that we are going
along the old aths and existing in the middle of the same
pattern of Comonwalth trade. Those things are going to
be changed, And because they are going to be changed and
because the markets that we must look for and explore wil. l,
themselvces, tend to chsngeo tLhen it becomes infiniteJ. y more
important that the views or primary producers as a wholo in
Austiralia, in the defence and promotion of their owvn interests,
should be, as far as possible, fully concerted ones,
There is another aspect of the matter, One
of the great problems that has confronted Australia andt
we are not the only one to be confronted by it in the last
ton years has been the remarka1le decline in our terms of
trade. Our export earnings, in terms of value per unit,
price per unit, have tended to decline, Our import prices
have tended to rise and in the result, the termis of trade
have moved steadily against the primary-produacing and exporting
countries and, of course, steadily in favour of the highly--
industrialised countries of the Old ' 1orld TLhis is a
reciprocal process in whiiich Great Britain derives a benefit
we are not complaining about that but from which we derive
a marked disodvantago And it's because of this decline in
the terms of trade that a lot of the best minds in the world
have been concentrating themselves on the prpbj. ems of producing
a healthier international position in relation particularly to

primary products, to r eot some stability of price, to get some
payable element in the price, to get sone stability of market
and of opportunity of increasing access to whatever the market
may be, This is tremendously important and a good deal of
discussion occurred in London and indeed has been cccurring in
the last week at Brussels in relation to international commodity
agreements and as you know, Australia has been one of the
pioneers in this agitation. It's tremendously important,
I was down the other morning opening the Conference
of the Colombo Plan ard there you had represented a great number
of countries, new countries, some of which we had never heard of
probably five years ago. The Colombo Plan provides money, and
we have found substantial quantit. ies the United States of
America immense quantities of money, but every now and then it
is necessary to remind the donors particularly the donors of
the great, powerful countries of % he dest, that an increase
of a few per cent, in the prices of the articles or goods that
these people produce would be worth more than all the direct
cash aid put together, I think this truth is beginning to
be realised, We found increasing realisation of it in London.
I am certain that the President of the United States is
intensely conscious of it Ilnow that and that he hopes
that his new Trade Expansion legislation will enable him to
make a contribution to this kind of thing by exercising his
tariff powers to encourage a freer flow of international trade.
But there it is the terms of trade the urgent
importance, if the world is not to get completely out of balance,
to have primary production in relatively unadvanced countries
like some of those of South East Asia, in relatively advanced
countries like Australia, but, in any case, in any country in
which exports of primary products are of the essence of national
solvency, able to develop or create expanding markets. There
is the urgently important matter of international agreements
which give effect to that desire, which provide for payable
prices and which give some stability, without which you will
have all the up and down and all the uncertainties and with
those uncertainties of income, the periodical balance of
payments crisis in Australia with drastic measures having to
be taken, There is only one way in which we can get rid of
these occasional emergency actions and that is to get a greater
stability in our export earnings and if we can, then I believe
that we can stabilize our costs and everything else in Australia
much more satisfactorily, Now the Government, of course, will do what it
can on this. I assure you this is a problem very close to
our hearts, but it is essential if I may say so, that you
should never let us forget about it and the right way for you
not to let us forget about it is for you increasingly to
concert among yourselves and with other organisations, united
policies, because after all, though you will in a sense be
pursuing your selfish interests, you will in a much truer
sense be pursuing the best interests of the Australian nation.
The other thing that I want to say to you which
has a bearing on this point the reasons for these challenges
that we have is that Australia is going through a period of
most dynamic growth, and when a country is growing in population,
growing in resources, it encounters all sorts of internal
strains. I suppose they might be described as growing pains,
Here we are with a large immigration programme. I've not met
anybody who would abolish it. I think it is held all round / 3

Australia to be of great value to this countryo We've all
adhered, to a policy of full employment and I don't hear
anybody today challenge the desirability of that, e adhere
to a g: reat number of these broad national policies because
we believe that these are the conditions of Australian growth
and yet they are all fighting each other in a sense You
can build up your cost structure by a migration movement
which is not quickly absorbed into productive activity in
the country; you can build up your cost structure and full
employment becomes over-full employment with bidding up for
scarce labour and a high rise in the costs of production in
the metropolitan industries, You can have all these tensions,
these difficulties. All I want to say to you is that this
again presents a challenge. This is particularly perhaps a
challenge to government the challenge to keep all of these
great national objectives in balance so that you have your
development of secondary industries and of tertiary industries
without floating up the costs of the primary industries.
Then you may have a full development of primary industries
at effective prices without interfering rith some other
aspect in the overall national programme. It isn't easy,
but then nothing is easy that matters. The real task is to
keep these things in balance.
There are quite a lot of people in Australia
who seo one oroblom and see no others, It's our job to see
the lot and to keep all of these considerations in mind,
But, living as we do in great cities like Canberra, we
perhaps hear a little more of some aspects of this great
naional problem than we do of others. And, therofore I
come back, Sir, to what I said to you never be afraid to
maintain pressure on the political mind, It's an age of
pressure and I don't mind, I am an expert at receiving it.
( Laught But 1 have9 from the very beginning, taken a
groat interest in the National Farmers: Union and I hope
that you will continue to realise, Sir, that my door is
always open when you have views: that you want to put to me.
I hope that your Conference will be very
successful, I now declare it open.

Transcript 655