PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 1061


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: 15/02/1965

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 1061

รต Pec th t. Hn. Robert Menzies
Mr. LeCouteur and Ladies and Gentlemen:
I think it is rather good fun for a poJJitic,-Lar
in these days to be invited to open Biligh House. ( Laugbter)
He had, as we are given to believe, some acquaintance with
mutiny and I wil. 1 pass on to the appropriate quarters in
Canberra the fact that I have now been associated with his
name. ( Laughter) One other thing struck me as I came in and that
was, apart from seeing all the " idle" business community in
Sydney as I always do on these occasions the quality and
depth of the carpets. Do you mind me referring to this?
( Laughter) Nothing gives you such a good feeling as to
walk along on a carpet into which you sink in the most genteel
fashion. I made an enquiry from Mr. Prideaux who was a
little uncertain in his reply as to whether the wool in the
carpets came from Australia, This apparently remains to be
seen, but if you don't mind putting up with me for half a
minute on this recollection of
I remember thirty years ago, almost, being in
charge of a little group of Parliamentarians from Australia
who went up to the Midlands in England, and we went to a
rather famous carpet area, Kidderminster. At lunchtime I
had a short but heated argument with the Mayor about bodyline
bowling ( Laughter) and we also went in to this vast
display room and we saw carpets. ' Ve began with beautiful
carpets. W4e gradually descended in the social scale until
we got to the far end of the room where there were the most
revolting carpets that I have ever seen in my life, all orange
and brown splodges and curlicues. I said to the general
manager who was showing us around, " Tell me, how is it that
you can bring yourselves to make carpets like these, having
regard to some that I have seen?" And he said, " That's
all right, Sir" ( he didn't know where we were from) " They
are for th Australian market Sir." ( Laughter) And do you
know that the very next time f went to some provincial town
in Victoria for some necessary purpose, I saw the very carpet
on the floor, ( Laughter) Now, I am not comparing it with
this one. This is one of the many proofs available to us
that we are getting on in the world,
Now this company of course, is a very old
company. I am talking about Lhe A. I. H. L. because I know there
are other people who will make their humble contribution to
this building by becoming tenants obscure people like
QANTAS and so on I know that, but today I just want to say
a few words about this great and famous company, over one
hundred years old, and therefore, for over a century, associated
with development in Australia in the most remarkable fashion.
Now, whenever I am invited to open something,
I usually like to be given a little of what we, in politics,
call the " dope" and so I got the " dope", volumes of it, and
it was very desirable that I should because I had not as
clearly in the po~ st recognised something about the work of the
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great pastoral companies in Australia because going back to
the beginning of this hundred years, lustra. Aan wool was sold
in London primarily, and sm dyhad to attend the financing
in the inierim six months, n-fne months and so these
companies of which this one is a conspicuous example came into
exitnce in order to finance the woolgrower, who even then was
extremely hard-up finance the woolgrower until the -money came
in. And that 1 imagine, is how it began. ! Jeil., loohkAng back
over the hundred yea.-s, only a portion of which I can surv:, y
writh my ovm eye I am bound to say and you are bound. J
that the wool industry in particular has been and is greatest
industry in this colantry, Its prosperity has meant the
prosperity of As i0Any period of depression in it has
W been a period of 6tE-pession for Australia. This is our great
industry, And htaving said that, one should ask oneself,
" What has contributed to that?" W4ell, there is the woolgrower
himself who has contributed to it because in my experience of
people who have succeeded their fathers and grandfathers in
wool, they have alwrays aimed at a higher and higher level of
quality and of production. This has been a matter of great
pride to the people concerned and of great advantage to Australia,
and at the same time, companies, and I in particular, refer to
this one, have been able to make a conlribution to the development
of wool, and later on, to the development of cattle and
so on, without which I doubt whether we could have had all the
advance that we have recorded in these years. And why is that?
It is not merely that a pastoral company of this kind has been
able to make business transactions with people. It is the
way in which the transactions have been made that has produced
the results that we are witnessing. It is interesting, I think,
to ask oneself what are the elements in this matter, Might
Iventure to suggest one or two of them to you?
First of all, there has been involved complete
integrity of dealing wiith the people with whom the company
deals complete integrity. One slightest breath of doubt could
have destroyed everything. But a complete integrity of dealing,
maintained over generations, has been a powerful contributing
factor, and so I mention it.
In the second place, there is the knowledge, the
personal knowledge the genuine personal interest of the
individual and in~ Zhe individual. This is true of all sorts of
things. I don't believe that anybody, whatever he is doing,
can achieve success unless he is interested in people, in the
individual person, not interested in them as if they were
statistics in a blue book, but interested in them as human
beings, and after all, the success, Sir, of this great company
is fundamentally based upon the fact that you have at all
stages been interested in the individual, you've knoiwn him,
you've known about him, you have been able to form judgments
about him, individual judgments not mass judgmnents,' and he,
in his turn, coming into the ciiy, coming into a branch, coming
into wherever it may be, has felt that he was an individual and
got to know your own people as individuals, so that there was
mutual confidence, mutual knowledge, and these two things are,
in reality, the basis of the success of an enterprise of this
kind. .* ee/ 2

And in the third place, you have been able to provide
for people on the land expert knowledge and advice, This is
something of tremendous importance. In my own lifetime, I have
seen the move occur because I was born in the country, in
Victoria I have seen the move occur from a stage at which
just rule of thumb observed: " This was all right. The old
man did this and it is good enough for me." de have moved away
from that to a stage where the resources of science, the resources
of new knowledge have been brought to the hand, to the arm of
the man in the field. This, I think, is tremendously important.
My own Government and it is not the only one in
this field my own Government has for a long time been concerned
about the great problem of extending the results of research
to the man who is actually on the farm, and this may seem a
simple enough matter but it is an almost intractable problem
because we rejoice, as you know, Sir, in Australia in having
seven Governments, of which mine is merely the least considerable,
( Laughter) and some Governments have a power, and some have
another power. It isn't easy to say, " 1dell, that's it. This
is what has been discovered, this is what the research men have
told us this goes out tomorrow under proper organisation to the
man on ihe farm, on the station, wherever he may be."
A great deal of work is being done in this matter a
great deal remains to be done. There is still too far greai
a gap between the work done by the scientist and the applied
scientist and the work actually done on the property itself.
We think this is improving. We hope that it will improve very
much more, but I want to express my public acknowl~ edgment to
companies like yours which have been practising this in a very
real sense for many years who have gone to great pains to have
experts in their own staff's, who have gone to great pains to
see that their expert knowledge and their expert advice has
reached the client of the company in the quickest possible time
and in the most effective possible way, You have been
engaging, although you are in a business, in extension services
in the most practical sense and I therefore take the opportunity
of saying that what you have been doing is w,, ork done in
parallel and sometimes more quickly in parallel with the wrork
that governments are seeking to achieve in Australia.
Then the fourth matter which presented itself to me
was this. I don't believe in the theory that some people have
that a business will succeed as long as you have a lot of hardfaced
fellows on the board who insist on getting the l. ast drop
of juice out of the orange, or if the days are rather bad out
of the lemon. ( Laughter) I don't believe in this. I don't
think that any concern of this kind can possibly grow so
dramatically and it has grown dramatically unless it has a
vision which goes beyond the profit and loss account. Indeed,
if it has the vision, if it has an imaginative grasp of the
problems of the man on the land, its profit and loss account
will turn out to be all right because it will represent the
results of imagination and vigour,
The two things that have to be kept in mind if the
imagination is to be exercised in this countiy are the necessity
for productivity Diore and more productivity in unit terms
and growth, growth with productivity. This is what we depena
on, In Australia our population is growing very rapidly
for one reason or another, but it is growing very rapidly, and
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the demands of our people are growing very rapidly. As
living standards rise, as purchasing power becomes greater
so we have a greater and greater demand, This demand canit
just be satisfied by more imports though it may have to be
to a degree it can't just be satisfied by the inflow of
capital from other countries although we've been rich in
that over a long time now; lundamentally it has to be met
by an increased production and activity in our owm country,
leading to bigger exports, leading to greater strength in
the international exchanges, but above all, leading to an
increased development of wrealth in Australia. Therefore,
productivity must never be overlooked and the need for growth
must never be overlooked. I venture to say that every man
who has an executive responsibility, either here or in a
branch or in the field is cons:-' ous of this and knows that
the best thing he can do for tthe client of the company is to
help him to improve his productivity, to help him to have a
contemplation of growth for the future so that he is never
satisfied with what is going on today but has an imagination
big enough and lively enough to contemplate what is going to
happen next year and in ten years'I time and in fifty years'
time. Now, in all these things this great company has
been carrying out work, I think, ol national importance, and
it satisfies me very much as no socialist, as you way
understand; it satisfies me very much that you have not
done this as the servant of government but as the ally and
friend of government. I know I didn't come down in the
last political showrer and I know that even in your boardroom
from time to time rude noises will be made about my
Government itts my Government at present but somebodyts
Government some time in the future. I know that, This is
good, this is very healthy. I have always been more receptive
to hooting than to applause. I find it very stimulating.
( Laughter) And in the middle-of all that, never forget that
we are playing in the same team, we are in the same interest,
we are both serving this country we, occasionally, by
compulsion; you, not by compulsion but by a great voluntary
and highly intelligent effort.
Now, Sir, I don't want to weary this audience, but
I thought I would like to mention those particular matters
because this is a great day in the history of the company,
a wonderful day. It is a pity that a nice old building had to
be knocked over, isn't it. I sometimes think it is a pity
that in fifty yedrs' time by which time, I assure you, I will
no longer be Prime Minister of Australia ( Laughter) it
comforts me to know it doesn't comfort me rather it
shocks me to know that in fifty years' time, almost every city
will look like almrost every other city. I suppose this is
inevitable in the course of nature because there are some
lovely things in this city, but still, they can't stand in the
wray of development, for practical purposes of the kind of
thing that I have been talking about. I iherefore want to
say to you, publicly, that I thank you on behalf of the
Government for the work that you are doing and that as an
individual, I esteem it a singular honour o be invited to
come here and to declare this building open. 0

Before I conclude, I must tell you this is one
of my better deed;~ but not entirely voluntary, because about
six months ago, I said to my Secretary, " ILook, I've had this.
I must cut down on my public engagements. There are far
too many speeches to be made and I am very tired of it,
Letts refuse all the invitations that come in for the next
three months." That was a bold stroke, you seel this is
what I believe they call a crash programme " Le Is refuse
them" and so I think I refused this one, and then it turned
out that my Deputy High Commissioner in London, in some way
having become involved with this company I mean in a
perfectly honourable way ( Laughter) he kept sending messages
saying, " As a personal favour60and so when a Prime
Minister is confronted by a Deputy High Commissioner, it
is always difficult but when the Deputy High Commissioner
turns out to have been the Head of the Prime Minister's
Department for half a dozen years, it becomes impossible, and
so I said, " I succumb. I will do it." I have done it very
badly but I assure you I have done it with very great pleasure.
I declare the building open. 5

Transcript 1061