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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 746


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: 20/05/1963

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 746

MAY, 1961
Speech by the Prima Ministpr, the Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Menzies
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen
I speak here tonight under a certain disadvantage
because I have to make a speech about the Seventh Annual Meatworks
Convention and I am not a meatworker, norindeed in any
non-human sense do I drive any cattle ( Laughter) and I am up
here with an acknowledged Australian expert who has just spoken
to you, but I will try to survive this handicap.
Before I begin to survive it, I must tell you that
.1 looked at this pamphlet, somewhat ambiguously colured orange
on one side and yellow on the other ( Laughter), to have a look
at what you were going to discuss, and at once I felt at home
" Country Meatworks Effluent" ( Laughter). Nothing could make a
chap like me feel more at home instantly ( Laughter). " The
Tallow House" that awakens echoes in my mind. Then, of
course, remembering some of the debates in which I have taken
a hand " A Meat-cutting Demonstration" ( Laughter). And
remembering division lists and divisions in Parliament " Belt
Conveyors for Handling Meat" ( Laughter). Really, I must say,
Sir, that in the whole of my public life I have never known such
superb tact exhibited well in advance in the selection of The
topic. Now, as you have already been told, and I will
repeat it because that is one of the habits of my trade, this
is your Seventh Annual Meatworks Convention and the spons: ors,
the Country Meatworks Association, are twenty-one today, so
that this is at one and the same time, a relatively recent
organisation and a relatively experienced one. You really stand
in a very happy stage of your development and your work, and
I know what your purposes are I think I know. You want to
bring people together from the various country meatworks all
over the State executive people and so on, and let them get
to know each other and let them get to learn something from
each other bocauso wb. nll hnve something tG. o . learn from other
people, poolingour kiowledgea and"-. iap* oving our: technical
officioncy 0
It is the improvement of technical efficiency that
I want to talk to you about not at undue length but for some
little time. You will be surprised looking at my youthful
appearance, that I first went into Parliament in the State
Parliament of Victoria thirty-five years ago, I just almost
whisper that. Thirty-five years ago. And thirty-five years
ago in my own State, the one thing that you could get a heated
argument about instantly was inland killing establishments,
because we had about three and they were all broke ( Laughter),
and whatever government was in office they had to go along to
it and say " What about a little subsidy?" I learned at that
time that they were not financially successful because they
didntt have a long enough killing season, they didn't have a
sufficient variety of commodities to be handled they had all
the disabilities of long-distance transport to the principal
markets, they had the problem of an extra handling. / 2

So all the wise men including myself, no doubt at that stage,
who had ambitions to be wise said, " This is hopeless. You
cannot have establishmnents of this kind except at the main ports."
Now, Sir, I think you will agree with me that this was alr:', ost a
received doctrine at that time, thirty-five years ago having a
quick look at you before the lifetime of a considerable number
of you. And yet here you are celebrating your twenty-fivst
anniversary and celebrating it in an atmosphere of high confidence
and remarkable achievement. This, I think, deserves to h-ave a
chap~ lter of its own in Australian history the thing which was
thought to be doomed a failure by sceptical people has now proved
itself a magnificent success.
It hasn't done that by accident. Times have changed,
of course. Our production is a long way up. There is a mu--h
greater through-put. Excport markets have been opened in tho most
remarkable fashion. We have better markets at home and abrcad and
we, indodd have much bettor thansport than we had at the time
that I am talking about. All those things have added togeti-ier to
produce the foundation for what you are doing, but only the
foundation, because no system of this kind can succeed unless
you have individuals in government, if you like, scientific
people, experts in the service of government, individuals in the
induistry looking after the managerial side of the industry, and
indi1 viduals who are in themselves producers in the industry. All
these people must get together if you are to achieve success,
the kind of success that you have so far obtained,
I want to elaborate that. One of our problemns
in Australia is that we have never quite got to understan', the
system of government under which we live. We know, donli; we,
that we have a Federal Constitution. There are some peopLe who
can remember the great battles in the 90' s of the last century
to introduce it " one people, ono flag, one destiny" t.-jese
old slogans come back into the mind. So we became 62 yea-s ago,
a nation a nation which embraced within itself six separcate
States with limited powers, just as the new national ParlJament
had limited powers but of a wider, national character, And
beneath those, we have had the local governing system in Australia,
a system with a proud history and a remarkable record of service
to the people. But here we are Commonwealth, State, local
government, the individual. There are very many people to be
found in Australia who, whatever the problem may be and whatever
the power of the Commonwealth ma: y be it may be non-existent on
that point always speak first of going to the Commonwealth.
This troubles me because I am a federalist. I believe in States.
I believe in the distribution of power but as I have had
occasion to say before today, if we drift into the habit of
mind of saying that everything is, in financial terms, a
Commonwealth responsibility then the day will come when the
people will say, " Well if the Commonwealth the central government,
the central parliament are to have all. the financial
responsibility then perhaps they ought to have all power."
This is a great danger, but it can happen. Therefore I want to
put it to you that if we are to have this federal system of
ours working properly, we must begin by understanding tho
individual responsibility of each arm of government what is
its responsibility, what is its power? What is the power of
the State? What is its responsibility? What is the powerV of
some local authority or some statutory body? It sounds liJke
a lawyer's exercise, but it isntt. It is the very essenco of
understanding our own country and its problem. 0000" 00~~ / 3

Of course, the answer to it is not to be standing
off fighting about various things: " That's your business
that's my business thatts your business that's my
business." The answer is to establish a system of co-operation
so that each of us, each form of government will bring its own
power, its own authority to the common pool, in order to
achieve a common social result. Now I hope you don't think
I am being academic about this. I'm not. Vv been trying
to run a federal system for more years than anybody else in
the world and this is the kind of thing that constantly comes
up into my mind. We must have a system of co-operation.
Let us apply this, Mr. President, to this great
organisation and the kind of thing that you are engaged in.
You can't hope to produce the development in the meat industry
tlhat you want and that we want unless, year by yea~ r, there are
people engaged in research in the laboratoy on the farm or
wherever it may be, and unless there are other people who take
t; he results of the scientific research and who take them to
the man on the land who must put thom into practice if the
results are to be achieved,
Finally, we must have the man on the land wil-1ling
to receive this information and to put it into effect. Now
this sounds very simple, I venture to say it has prov-rI in
practice to be an amazingly difficult thing: scientifi.:
research, extension services and a willingness to receive
them and to practice them.
Sir, I remember when I was a boy of about twelve
I suppose, being up in the bush in the north-west of Victoria
in the wheat country in which at that time there was a
deficiency of scientific knowledge and application it was
marginal country with a somewhat dubious rainfall. I remember
going out as a youngster and standing behind a ring of good,
solid farmers in the district. On a little mound in the
middle was a notable agricultural scientist from the Vict,' orian
Department of Agriculture and he was standing there he was
a most practical chap and he was talking to them about when
they ought to burn their stubble and when they ought to harrow
and that thoy would all do well in this particular sandy loam
in that area by putting a hundredweight of super on to their
ground. They looked at each other I could see them. Little
pitchers occasionally have long ears I didntt miss much
that day. You could almost hear them saying to each other,
" Well. I've never done that before. What is this stuff,
anyhow? And what does it cost?" The scientist was magnificent.
He was practical and convincing. I was twelve years old.
He made me understand it crystal-clear, but of course I didn't
have a farm to put the super on. ( Laughter) There were three
farmers in the district who were first-class men, reco,-iised to
be the best farmers and they were persuaded but not com-pletely.
So they said, " Well, you know, it's a bit of an experirient.
What did he say a hundredweight. dell we'll try a half a
hundredweight." ( Laughter) And they useA half a hundredweight
of super and in that country with that soil and that rainfall,
when the harvest came in they were all three bushels to the
acre better off than their neighbours. Of course, the news got
around and within three or four years, everybody was using super
and not being frightfully afraid to use a hundredweight and
some bold spirits were using a hundredweight and a half.
Now I merely tell you this little story because
this is, in a small compass and in a small boy's memory, the
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whole problem of extension services somebody at the middle to
discover it; somebody on the scientific side to be competent
to analyse soils to discover what the deficiencies are, to
discover what ail must be given to that soil, and then otiier
people who can take this precious, carefully-garnered scientific
information and make it available to the people, and thirdly
the man on the land willing to receive it. You see, my l~ ittle
story has a moral in it because most of them weren't willing
to receive it, This calls for immense skill on the part of the
man who is running the extension service. He must have a clear
mind and a persuasive tongue and he must be backed by the
research work done here or here or here,
Now, Sir, I venture to say that this has a complete
application to the meat industry. I remember that before the
war, I wont over to England. I was then Attorney-General, but
a sort of useful rouseabout chap, you see. I went a couple of
times to argue about what? to argue about meat, the excport of
meat to the United Kingdom and we gave an awful lot of attention~
in taiose days to freight advantages that the Argentines had
you know, shipping freights and distances of voyage and these
were very important. But perhaps at that time we were not
giving enough attention to how you were to im~ prove your breeds
of cattle and accelerate their periods of maturity not only
by the genetics of the cattle industry but by developing pastures,
by producing appropriate legumes in particular parts of Australia.
These things were almost in their embryonic stage. These are the
things that have been worked on; these are the things til-at have
produced such an enormous development in the meat industr-y that
writh the slightest push, you would supplant wheat and flour as
the second-greatest export from Australia.
Sir, I think this is a groat work and I wish it
well, We have discussed it a great deal in my Cabinet w~ ith
my colleagues, indeed we have one or two papers coming up in
the lift at this very moment on it. I, myself, have had long
discussions with the Chairman of the C. S. I. R. O0 Sir Frederick
White, who is tremendously keen on this not only in connection
with extension services in the primary Industries but also in
the secondary industries.
You know it is a remarkablo thing in our country,
but we produce scientists of the first rank we needntt be
apologising for the native intelligence or the capacity for
scholarship of the Australian young man or woman. This is quite
clear. C. S. I. R. 0. and other bodies of a corresponding kind
conduct research into rural problems into manufacturing
problems. C. S. I. R. 0. researches inio wool, on which I opened
a new institute that they have created in Geelong only the other
day, operate both ways,
If wool is to be sold and if the woolgrower is to
continue to have an expanding market at a competent price which
is, of course, an entirely different matter but if he is to
have that then wool must sell itself around the world. I know4
there will be people to sell it but it must sell itself, it
must have a quality which commends it to the hundreds arid
hundreds of millions of people around the world who want to be
clad and kept warm, Therefore the C. S. I. R. 0. has done the most
remarkable series of research jobs into shrinkage, into
crea ' sing, into moth-proofing, into all these things whica
affect the sale of wool and, happily in the case of that
industry they have in quite recent times been able to establish
a compleie communion of spirit and of understanding with the
S 0 060009.15

wool industry. Sir ' Uilliam Gunn and Mr. Vines and these other
leaders in this field are now absolutely in touch, mentally and
physically, with the C. S. I. R. O. and the result is that the work
they do in that field can go oui.
But there are other people concerned. What about
the manufacturer? He can't conduct research into wool, He may
do it in a very trifling way but he can't conduct the great
researches into wool, into ail these aspects of it and therefore
ho is one of the people to whom the extension service must go.
C. S. I. R. O. do a lot of industrial research work. They produce
ideas. They find there is a litt'. le difficulty in bridging the
gap between whathppens in their labs. and what happens in the
factory. Therefore believe me, we all have to go out and sell
this idea of extension of scientific research into the ultimate
field of action, whether it is a factory, or a farm. This is,
I think, of tremendous importance. And It is because, Sir, I know
how warmly you agree with this general approach that I have
ventured to say something about it to this great and very important
convention tonight, Very important, because you come from all
over the State. Very important because in tho vary nature of
your occupation, you are in a position to influence the mindsevery
one of you of scores of people and perhaps hundreds of
W peopla. i am a species of Prime Minister and I have been
there a long time and there are those who say that I am notA
improving with age ( Laughter) and no doubt they are quite :. ight.
I wouldn't dare to dispute it but at least I have been thure
long enough to have some pretty clear idea of the problems of my
country4' This is my country and it is yours and I want to help
to solve its problems because, like you or some of you, I have
children and grandchildren and look to the future. Now, this
being so, what do ixre do about all this. We have at the moment
I repeat something in a different form that I said this afternoonin
this country an enormous period of development going on.
I am not going to make a party political speech there are some
who think it should do better and some who think it couldn't,
but, anyhow, we have had an enormous period of development and
W welre having it and in the course of this time thanks to the
policy instituted by Mr. Calwell when he was Minister for
Immigration, and pursued by us we have had a great order of
immigration into Australia. I saw this morning in the newspaper,
which perhaps was right ( Laughter) that we have now had two
million post-war mi grant s. All I know is that the rate of
increase in our population in Australia is quite formidable, quite
formidable. W~~ hea ve a bigger percentage net increase from bth
natural increase and immigration than Japan has at the present
time and as I took the opportunity of saying to the American
Congress on the last occasion that I was invited to address it,
we are receiving more migrants into Australia, per thousand of
our own existing population, than America did in the heyday of
her immigration after the Civil War. It's worth remembering that.
You cantt have this enormous increase in population,
with all the demands that it sets up without having certai n
results. One of them quite obviously is that if you are ' going
to have migrants, they must have work to do, and if they are to
have work to do, it is oqttally obvious that a mere fraction of
thorn can hope to find it on the land, on fars, for reasons that
I needntt discuss with you. Therefore, you must have manufacturing
industries and tertiary industries, servicer transport and the
like,, And all this is good. All this puts a tremendous
pressure on the resources of the country. All of this means that
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you have to develop new things, whether they are a vast affair
like the Snowy Mountains or whether they are beef roads in
Queensland or coal-ports or something somewhere else, You
must keep on developing the resources of the country and
this takes a lot of money and all of these things adled together
put a great pressure on the currency of the country. A
great pressure. Unless it is watched, it can become an inflationary
pressure and produce a rise in costs all round. Thatts why
every government has to say to itself, at least once a week
and indeed, I say it to myself more frequently " Our
international solvency depends on what we can sell to tho
world to match what we buy from the world." What we soll to
the world, although there has been a very healthy increase in
manufacturing exports is still predominantly the product of
the farm and the station. Because that is so, one of tLa
conditions of our international solvency and with it cur
prospects of future development, is that the cost level. should
be hept as stable as possible.
Now, everybody will agree that this is a great
problem. So it is. You don't solve that problem merely by
thinking in terms of wages or arbitration systems. You will
help to solve it very materially by increasing productivity
which means that the overheads are spread over a much greater
turnover; increasing efficiency in the means of production,
increasing efficiency in the means of handling, because these
are elements which counter cost increases and which enable these
great industries to continue to stand on their own feet and
look confidently to their own future.
And by that route again, I come back to what I
was saying to you efficiency efficiency is not something
you read about in a book, not something you necessarily achieve
by practising yoga exercises in the morning which I don't.
( Laughter) Efficiency for thlis purpose is something whW. ch
derives from increasing knowledge of the problems of the
industry, increasing knowledge of the scientific aspects of the
industry, whether they are biological or physical or whatever
they may be; increasing efficiency in the treatment of the
product, the handling of the product, in the marketing of the
product. Sir, I hope that nobody supposes that when your
organisation has a convention people just come along because
they are going to have a picnic and meet each other and have a
good time because I hope they will have all those but I am
perfectly certain behind all this is your determination that in
spite of the eccentricities of politicians and there are some
occasionally ( laughter), you are firmly determined that your
industry is-going to become more effective in itself more
efficient in itself and therefore meet the problem ol~ its growth
and of its costs. Sir, that is, I think what I wanted to say to you.
I think it is a great compliment Zo be asked to come up hiere,
Ifm going back afterwards, I hope. We haye a Cabinet meeting
in the morning. Lifets just one long routine, you knows
( laughter) in politics, but if the boys look at me in the
morning and say, " You know, you've got a bit of a { 7leam
in the eye this morning " 1 1 will refer them to you ( Laughiter)
and attribute all credit to you. Thank you very much for having
listened to me thank you very much for having invited me,,
wish you well and, for once, I mgigt0eebrwa
stood up to do I am going to declare the Convention open.

Transcript 746