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Transcript 9072

SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON P.J. KEATING MP THE INAGURAL SIR EDWARD WEARY DUNLOP ASIALINK LECTURE MELBOURNE, 8 DECEMBER 1993

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Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 08/12/1993

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 9072

PRIME MINISTER
EMBARGOED AGAINST DELIVERY
SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P. J. KEATING, lIP
THE INAUGURAL SIR EDWARD " WEARY" DUNLOP ASIALINK LECTURE
MELBOURNE, 8 DECEMBER 1993
It is a great privilege to be asked to deliver this
address I cannot imagine a greater privilege.
" Weary" Dunlop was an Australian of phenomenal
achievement. If his work as a surgeon and teacher were all that
distinguished his life, an annual lecture and much more
to preserve his memory, would be warranted.
If the sole criterion was his contribution as architect
and overseer of schemes for the betterment of his country
and the welfare of its people, he would rank among the
great Australians.
If he was known only as a pioneer of Australia's
friendship with the countries of Asia, we would be
justified in honouring his life's work this way.
Talking about his work in Asia in one of his last
interviews he remarked that he was " a bit ahead of
Keating." I unequivocally dips my lid. It is a galvanising thing
to know that we are, in some way, building on the work of
Weary Dunlop.
Would that we all shared his vision.
Would that we all might have half his courage, half his
reason, half his powers of leadership.
These among others were the qualities which lifted Weary
Dunlop into the ranks of the imnmortals.
In my days at school we read about the epic feats of
Sturt and Eyre and Stuart, the heroic philanthropy of
Caroline Chisholm, the remarkable feats of Mawson in
Antarctica, and the Anzacs at Gallipoli and we wondered
how men and women could be so brave, resourceful and
resilient. These were giants.

We should have also been reading about Weary Dunlop
even so soon after the war we should have been reading
about him.
And our children should be reading about him now.
For to read about Weary Dunlop in World War II, to read
his diaries, to hear him interviewed in the last years of
his life is to hear a story every bit as awe-inspiring
as any in our past. It is perhaps the most inspiring
story in our history.
As many of you probably know, the story began in the
bush. Ernest Edward Dunlop was a son of the soil,
raised at a place called Sheepwash Creek in north-eastern
Victoria. He was educated at State schools in Stewarton
and Benalla, and I would hazard a guess that the heroes
of his basic education were the same as those of my
generation. Gallipoli loomed large. Four members of his family had
gone to the First World War.
The Australia of Dunlop's youth, of course, was very
different. A new nation, Australia looked at the world
through the prism of empire. Our economy, our foreign
relations, our defence were all dependent on Britain.
Our people were overwhelmingly of British and Irish
extraction. This Australia was an outpost of the British empire,
separated from the civilisation we held to be the highest
by what we saw as an amorphous and potentially hostile
mass of humanity to our near north but which we called
the Far East.
" White Australia" kept the potential threat at bay
" White Australia" and the might of the British Empire.
It stood to reason that Australians looked to Britain for
their cultural, if not their spiritual, values. Not
because they were less Australian, it seems to me, but
because to share in the British heritage was one of the
most agreeable things about being Australian.
It conferred considerable advantages on us among them
the chance for young men of promise to further their
education and careers in an agreeably ancient yet
familiar culture.
Weary Dunlop was in London doing post-graduate study when
the Second World War broke out. As he said himself, he
couldn't wait to get into the Army, and somehow he
contrived to this country's everlasting benefit to
get into the Australian Army.

He served in the Australian Army Medical Corps with the
Second AIF in Palestine, Egypt, Greece and Crete.
By the time he sailed for the war in south-east Asia, he
had already experienced more than an average share of
hardship and danger; including service with the Sixth
Australian Division during the siege of Tobruk; and he
had already demonstrated his great physical strength and
his capacity to apply his wonderful skills under
conditions of extreme stress including his skills of
leadership. He arrived in Java in February 1942. Singapore the
bastion of Britain's Far East defences and Australia's
security had fallen to the Japanese. Three weeks
later, Weary Dunlop and his unit were captured at
Bandung. The prisoners very soon were made aware that they were in
the hands of a ruthless enemy. Almost as quickly they
became aware that in Weary Dunlop they had a leader of
equivalent bravery.
As the hospital in Bandung was being broken up and the
sick and wounded forced to march, Dunlop protested,
pointing to one man who, as he described him, was " blind
with a shattered face, amputated hands and a broken leg".
When the Japanese commander indicated to his guard that
the man was to be bayoneted, Weary Dunlop, to use his own
word, " interposed" his body.
In the next three years, Weary Dunlop ceaselessly
" interposed" his body between hope and despair, reason
and insanity, pride and humiliation life and death. He
was the principal reason for the survival of thousands of
men. Enduring the same hardships the illness, the
torture, the terror and squalor he was leader, doctor
and inspiration.
As one of his fellow prisoners wrote later:
When despair and death reached for us, he stood
fast, his only thought our well-being. Faced with
guards who had the power of life and death, ignoble
tyrants who hated us, he was a lighthouse of sanity
in a universe of madness and suffering.
Nothing I can say tonight could possibly describe the
horrors inflicted on Australian, British and allied
prisoners of war on the Burma-Thailand Railway or the
estimated 200,000 labourers from Thailand, Burma,
Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam who were press ganged
into service.
As one who went through it said the survivors often did
not talk about it simply because it was " indescribable".

The best account by far, of course, was written by Weary
himself. The detailed diaries he kept were themselves an
amazing testament to his strength and devotion to duty.
And that it was forty years before he got around to
publishing them is equally a testament to his humility
and no doubt to his determination to get on with life.
Weary Dunlop's great qualities were universal physical
strength, intelligence and insight, courage, persistence
and, above all, boundless love for his fellow man.
Yet much in his character and the values he brought to
the appalling human trial on the Burma-Thailand railway
we recognise as unmistakably Australian. And he was
unmistakably Australian.
It was the military history of his own country which
inspired him, indeed the military history of his own
district and his own family. He went to war in London
dressed in the uniform of the First AIF, and it was as if
he was filled with the same spirit.
There is the same familiarity in his pragmatism and the
astounding capacity for improvisation he displayed in the
camps of Thailand from the saline drips he devised for
cholera victims to his tax on fellow officers to raise
revenue for food and medical supplies.
As his diaries reveal, he took to the struggle not just
stoic courage but, in the best Australian tradition, an
unfailing sense of humour and irony.
In terrible necessity he saw the need for discipline but
he also knew that authority should be earned.
He recognised that the key to survival in adversity was
willingness to share the hardship, that reliance on each
other was essential. He knew the value of mateship.
Strong as he was, he did not despise the weakness of
others. He knew that if not all were of equal capacity,
all were equal in suffering and all equally deserving
help.
We do not have to believe that these are uniquely
Australian insights into human nature, or uniquely
Australian qualities, to see in them a continuation of
the values associated with the Australian legend
including the legend of Anzac. We can see in Weary
Dunlop, and Australians' admiration of him, an
affirmation of our values, an embodiment of our best
traditions. But the legend did not stop him. He did not live the
remainder of his life in defence of the past, but in
doing all he could to ensure that Australia had a future.

Although he had every reason to do so, he did not let the
evil he experienced destroy his faith in the capacity of
human beings for good.
The war did not close his mind to human possibility, it
opened it.
He did not live weighed down with hatred for Japan, nor
buoyed by satisfaction with his own heritage and culture.
Weary Dunlop was tortured, beaten, three times sentenced
to execution. He spent every day attempting to save the
victims of insane cruelty. He wrote in his diary on May
9 1943 that the sight of men " broken into emaciated,
pitiful wrecks, bloated with beriberi, terribly reduced
with pellagra, dysentery and malaria and covered with
disgusting sores" produced in him a " searing hatred" of
the Japanese.
Yet he overcame his hatred. He opened his heart and
his household to his old enemies, and widened his
perspective even so far, I understand, as to adopt
elements of their philosophy and culture.
He did not see his experience in Asia as confirmation of
Australia's old prejudice towards these countries, but as
proof of our necessity to understand and engage with them
not as colonisers but as colleagues.
The war convinced him that our future depended on
learning to live in Asia, and he never doubted that we
could do this and be enriched by it, and still carry on
those best traditions which he exemplified.
As one fellow POW, Tom Uren, said; " Weary Dunlop
continued to grow as a human being all his life".
That is one more reason why the story of Weary Dunlop
should be known to all Australians.
He embraced change, he encouraged it, he believed in the
possible for all his love of Australia ( and indeed of
Britain) he imagined a different Australia.
I cannot even begin to do justice to Weary Dunlop's
activity after the war. To read the startling entry in
Who's Who, rather like the Diaries, is to wonder if in
fact we are all made of the same clay.
He was pre-eminently a surgeon. The first Surgeon
appointed to the Royal Melbourne Hospital after the war,
Honorary Surgeon to the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear
Hospital, Consultant Surgeon to the Peter MacCallum
Clinic, special surgeon to the Repatriation Department,
the second Australian to become Vice President of the
International Society of Surgeons, and in 1969 leader of
the Australian surgical team in Vietnam.

He pioneered surgery in the oesophagus, mouth and throat;
but as Les Tanner, whose larynx Weary Dunlop removed,
pointed out this year, he was among the last of the " allover"
surgeons meaning he could operate on your toe or
your head and everything in between.
And of course he was an " all-over" man; a patron,
vice-president, committeeman and member of countless
organisations in the public interest beyond the scope of
medicine not least among them the association of ex-
POWs and their relatives.
He was a pioneer, of course, of the Colombo Plan, an
adviser to Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. He lectured in
countries throughout the region. He was President of the
Australian-Asian Society.
Ladies and gentlemen
In a speech in Seattle a couple of weeks ago President
Clinton summed up the change in the countries of Asia
and in our perceptions of them by saying that the
" dominoes have become dynamos"
Weary Dunlop recognised the potential for this long ago.
In 1954 he said:
The people in these emerging nations are going
toward what they want. They have their star to win,
and they let nothing stand in their way. It uplifts
you to find that spirit.
In 1993, we in Australia are coming to terms with the
reality of their astounding success.
Not that Asia has dawned on us all of a sudden. It is
often forgotten that Australia's relations with the
region go back to the very beginning of post-colonial
Asia from our support for Indonesia's independence
movement through our participation in the defence of
Malaysia during confrontation, to our involvement in the
Colombo Plan.
Far-sighted people like Weary Dunlop and Richard Casey
and a handful of others knew where Australia's interests
lay and worked hard to build up the trading,
institutional and cultural links as the countries of Asia
grew. From soon after the end of the war with Japan, Australia
played a vital role in the economic reconstruction of its
former enemy by providing the necessary raw materials and
minerals. Thus the ground was laid for the enormously
beneficial trade relationship we now have with Japan.

Some deep personal friendships and inistitutional and
commercial associations were forged which underpin the
close government relations and people-to-people contacts
we have today.
And I might say that we have to a very large degree
repeated this experience with the industrial miracle in
the Republic of Korea.
In the last decade, the growth of our trade and other
ties with Asia, including South-East Asia has
dramatically adcelerated.
A decade ago, 46 per cent of our exports went to Asia.
That figure has now reached 60 per cent. Over the same
decade our exports to South-East Asia have grown by 400
per cent.
We have seen a remarkable expansion in people-to-people
relationships. In 1980 just over 315,000 Australians
visited Asian countries. In 1992 the number had grown to
780, 000.
110,000 people from Asian countries visited Australia in
1979. In 1992-93 the figure was 1.2 million 650,000 of
them from Japan.
I've already made several references to " Asia" tonight.
It is a convenient term but, of course, it is also a
misleading one. It should not blind us to the great
cultural, social and other differences within the region.
It is a term we use in full knowledge of this diversity.
In this general regard, I think we can say that we have
seen substantial advances in the process of cultural
understanding. One measure of this, among many, is language learning.
In 1982, 15 per cent of Australian Year 12 students
learning languages other than English were learning Asian
languages. Today that figure has nearly doubled.
Another recent development is Australian Television
International which is now projecting images of Australia
to 15 countries of the region and fostering an
understanding of Australia that goes way beyond the old
stereotypes. I might say that this service also provides an
unparalleled opportunity for Australian business to reach
an increasingly sophisticated market through a quality
English language medium.
The sponsors of this lecture, Asialink, are another
example of the efftorts being made to heighten cultural
understanding.

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate Asialink for
the work they are doing and in particular tonight
commend them for the establishment of the Dunlop Asia
Awards Fund. I should also commend the Buckland
Foundation -for their initial contribution of $ 50,000.
And I take the opportunity to announce that the
Commonwealth Government will at least match it.
The Dunlop Fellowships will go some way towards creating
a generation of Australians who look to Asia for
stimulus, much as earlier generations looked to Britain
and Europe.
As I said, we are witnessing continuing development, a
steady progress, not a sudden revolution. Yet in the
past two years, there is no doubt that progress has been
suddenly more rapid, our activity suddenly more intense;
and, I believe, comprehension of the opportunities and
imperatives which the region represents has become
suddenly more general among Australians.
We have seen developments of considerable substance far
more developments and far more substance, I venture to
say, than we have ever achieved in such a short time
before. We have established a Ministerial Forum with
Indonesia, a structure which has enabled us to
increase co-operation across a whole range of
government business.
We have helped to create the ASEAN Regional Forum, a
new institution for the discussion of security
issues in an area formerly suspicious of
multilateral approaches to security.
We have seen the successful conclusion of the
Cambodian peace effort in which Indonesia and
Australia played such an important catalytic role.
Our relationship with Japan has developed new
dimensions and depth of co-operation. I have had
three separate meetings with the Japanese Prime
Minister in that period.
Most importantly, APEC has continued to develop, and
we saw last month in Seattle the remarkable meeting
without any officials present of a group of
leaders representing forty per cent of the world's
population and fifty per cent of its production to
discuss the challenges facing the region.
The role of leaders in these developments is vital,
because through their actions they inevitably set the
direction and symbolise national choices.
I have made it a priority to do what I can to set a
pattern of contact with the leaders of our region.

I am pleased to say tonight that at the invitation of
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai I shall visit Thailand next
year. During that visit I will have the opportunity to
pay my respect to over 1300 of Weary Dunlop's Australian
comrades who are buried at Kanchanaburi Cemetry. I hope
also to be present at the opening of the Australian built
and funded Friendship Bridge over the Mekong River
between Thailand and Laos.
Forging a new presence in our region has not been plain
sailing, of course, nor will it ever be. Countries have
different interests to pursue and different ways of
pursuing them.
I want to say something very briefly about the current
difficulty we are experiencing in the relationship with
the Government of Malaysia.
The difficulty began because of the reply I gave to a
question from a journalist at a doorstop press conference
in Seattle.
That answer, as I have said, was not intended to cause
offence and I regret that offence has been taken.
For more than 30 years we have had a close and mutually
beneficial relationship with Malaysia. More than 100,000
Malaysian students have been educated here; we have a
very balanced trade relationship; 85,000 Australians were
born in Malaysia.
We have always been committed to the security and
development of Malaysia and the Five Power Defence
Arrangement is a demonstration of the fact that we are
committed in the most fundamental way.
The Australian Government wants to preserve the interests
we share and the friendship between our two countries and
our two peoples. We want to work in harmony with the
Malaysian Government.
But any relationship of substance and value requires
commitment from both sides. For our part we are
committed. We are willing to put in the effort necessary
to keep the channels of communication open.
We have been putting in that effort at Ministerial level
with the visits of Senators Cook and Ray to Malaysia
within the last two days and with the contact today
between our two foreign ministers.
Ladies and gentlemen
There is now, I am sure, widespread recognition not only
that our future lies in the Asia-Pacific, but that we can
play a dynamic and rewarding role in the regional
community.

Eighteen months ago when I gave an address to the
Asia-Australia Institute in Sydney, there were still some
loud protests decrying our ambitions. We heard them
sporadically throughout the year. It was as if we were
advocating the abolition of Shakespeare and cricket.
Ladies and gentlemen
Soon after I took office as Prime Minister I made this
point in my first major speech on Australia's foreign
policy. I said and I think it bears repeating now that we go
to Asia " as we are"
Not with the ghost of empire about us. Not as a
vicar of Europe or as a US deputy. But
unambivalently. Sure of who we are and what we
stand for. If we are to be taken seriously,
believed, trusted, that is the only way to go.
Claims that the Government is attempting to turn
Australia into an " Asian country" are based on a
misunderstanding both of my own approach and the
direction of government policy.
This is something I want to be understood very clearly
because it is at the core of my view of Australia and of
the Government's approach to relations with our
neighbourhood. Put simply, Australia is not and can never be an " Asian
nation" any more than we can or want to be European
or North American or African.
We can only be Australian and can only relate to our
friends and neighbours as Australian.
This is not an expression of self-satisfaction. Nor is
it an assertion of our mores over those of any other
country. But we want to draw on all the distinctive strengths of
our history and our contemporary democratic, pluralist
culture the rich and ancient culture of indigenous
Australians, the energy, bravery and resilience of our
early European settlers and the institutions they
created, and all the creativity and drive which comes
from the people of 150 nations who now make their home in
Australia. And we want, in particular, to draw on the talents and
experience of those immigrants now almost half our
total intake who come here from Asia.
Ladies and gentlemen

In perhaps the most profound change of our history, the
monocultural Australia of Weary Dunlop's youth has become
a multicultural Australia; and the multicultural mix
includes a large number of people from Asian countries
who just a generation ago were excluded as a matter of
policy. In a change hardly less profound, the Australian economy
has been transformed into one which is much more diverse,
much more competitive, much less regulated and much more
capable of succeeding in the modern world.
Accompanying this process, and essential to it, a new
business culture is emerging with the emphasis on
cleverness, comparative advantage, excellence and
exports. It is no accident that exports have risen from
14 per cent of GDP in 1982 to 20 per cent in 1992.
At the same time, we have seen an extraordinary
revolution in the culture of Australian workplaces, from
perennial and habitual conflict to co-operation and
creativity. In many ways, as a consequence of these changes, we are
now seeing the greatest change of all the integration
of Australia into its own region.
The past ten years have given me the greatest faith in
the willingness and capacity of Australians to respond to
the need for change. Properly managed, change should not
be a problem for us. Our values and institutions are
strong enough our people sufficiently resourceful.
Resourceful enough to make me think that, if anything, we
should set ourselves more challenges than we have been
prepared to in the past.
Far from representing a threat to Australia's democratic
and cultural traditions, I am convinced that our capacity
for change is enlarged by living up to them. In fact I
am convinced the only way to successfully manage change
is by pulling the threads of our common values and our
common interest together.
We will not, for instance, make ourselves more
competitive by leaving marginalised large sections of the
population whether they are Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islanders or the unemployed.
I might say inter alia that that is why the Government
took up the challenge of Mabo: difficult and temporarily
divisive as the issue has been, the long term interests
of Australia can only be served by delivering to
indigenous Australians recognition of the truth and the
basis for justice.

Australia will be stronger f or tackling this 200 year old
problem. We will be stronger for knowing that we have
taken up the challenge; stronger for the unity it will
ultimately bring; stronger for the international respect
and, who knows, greater self-esteem it will bring.
The need to make us a stronger, more cohesive, more
inclusive nation not to say one which is more
productive and efficient is also why we have taken on
the task of regional development. And why we are
conducting the most intensive investigation in our
history of the causes of unemployment and the means of
creating jobs. Our standard of living, our decent
values, do not have to be lost in the course of
international or regional competitiveness.
Unemployment will not make us more competitive any more
thhan will: running down our health services, or cutting
away our social security net, or making access to
education less egalitarian, or undermining in any way the
policy manifestations of our tradition of the fair go.
If we want change we have to guarantee these things
above all, we have to find ways to solve the problem of
unemployment. Paradoxical as it may sound to the more simple-minded
economic rationalists, the cause of competitiveness is
best served by a spirit of co-operation. To learn the
lesson of cooperation and the value of pooling our
strength we need only go to Weary Dunlop's diaries. But
we should not have to go to them. That lesson has always
been the same we will be much stronger for having a
sense of common purpose, of shared national goals.
There can be no greater national goal than helping to
create a vibrant Asia-Pacific community, thriving on its
economic dynamism and its cultural and ethnic diversity.
A community whose members acknowledge and appreciate each
other's differences while sharing a sense of common
economic and security interests, and a common destiny. A
community with a small " I2cas I have always said. A
community with a shared sense of possibility, a shared
idea of the future.
Ladies and gentlemen
Until recently, the diversity of the Asia-Pacific was
overlaid by the fault-lines of the Cold War and by wars
which pitted neighbours against each other and cut across
common interests and complementarities.
Now the outlook is very different. Now it is reasonable
to imagine a great self-creating, self-defining regional
community of nations. Now it is possible as never before
to see the complementarities that exist in the region and
the opportunities for co-operation.

That is what the leaders of the region saw in Seattle.
That is why APEC is so important. APEC is a framework
for a new Asia-Pacific era. It recognises the benefits
of diversity in the region. It gives expression to the
sense of community which has emerged unplanned by
governments. And it offers a way to maintain the
momentum of co-operation and to ensure that we make the
most of the opportunities now within our grasp.
For Australia, APEC is the expression of our greatest
challenge. We want to engage with the region: to learn
from it, react with it, give something to it.
APEC is no abstraction. It is not the preserve of
politics and business.
It is important to every Australian and to future
generations of Australians.
Because APEC will make it easier for Australian companies
to do business in the region, APEC can underpin growth in
the regional economy and in the Australian economy and
thus create employment worthwhile, fulfilling
employment. Our economic integration with the region, like our
integration with the global economy, is an essential
prerequisite of economic growth and our standard of
living. It is a guarantee that Australians of the next generation
the Australians of the Pacific Century will live in a
country at the leading edge, where the innovation and
opportunities are.
At the Seattle meeting it was agreed to develop a common
non-binding set of investment principles, as a first step
towards an eventual investment agreement.
The meeting agreed to work on improving regional cooperation
in areas such as standards which will reduce
the costs of business, remove obstacles to exports and
encourage trade flows.
Recognising that continuing prosperity in the region must
be driven by the private sector, the meeting agreed to
establish a Pacific Business Forum; and recognising also
that small and medium businesses are the source of much
of the region's dynamism, they agreed that such
businesses will be brought into APEC discussions.
The meeting agreed to establish an APEC education program
which will foster people-to-people and cultural links.
The program will develop regional co-operation and higher
education, promote study of key regional economic issues,
improve workers' skills, enhance labour mobility and
foster mutual understanding of regional diversity.

All these initiatives widen the horizon for Australia.
Business, trade and employment opportunities present
themselves. A world of great cultural richness and
diversity is open to us a world in which Australia,
calling on its traditional and newly evolving strengths,
can play a creative and rewarding part and, in so doing,
deliver prosperity and security to the Australians of the
21st century.
Ladies and gentlemen
I said earlier in this address that I believe the life of
Weary Dunlop should be required reading for every young
Australian. In his story there is an irresistible greatness, an
irresistible lesson for our times.
The greatness stemmed from those universal qualities of
courage and resourcefulness and love for humanity which
he had in such astonishing abundance.
The lesson is that we should be open to change. The
lesson is that we can be true to ourselves and yet open
to others, that we can be bold and confident without
being parochial and intolerant. The lesson is that,
relying on each other, we can take on the most daunting
challenges and succeed.

Transcript 9072