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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 1660

CHAMBER OF MANUFACTURES AND CHAMBER OF COMMERE JOINT LUNCHEON, PERTH, W.A 13TH SEPTEBER, 1967

Photo of Holt, Harold

Holt, Harold

Period of Service: 26/01/1966 to 19/12/1967

More information about Holt, Harold on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/09/1967

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 1660

3 COCT 1967
CHAMBER OF MANUFACTURES AND CHAMBER OF
COMMl~ ERCE JOINT LUNCHEON, PERTH, W. A.
13th SEPTEMBER, 1967
Speech by the Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Holt
Mr. Hughes; Mr. Henderson; Mr. Premier; Ministerial
and Parliamentary Colleagues of the Commonwealth and State
2arliaments; Members of the Chambers of Commerce and of
Manufactures; Distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am glad to learn from you, Mr. ' Hughes, that such is
the relative state of prosperity of the members of the two
Chambers, that you have been inundated with requests to attend
this function. That is a symptom of the buoyancy of this State
and of the remarkable development which is occurring here and
indeed occurring in abundant degrees through the Commonwealth
as a whole and I want to say something to you, Sir, on the
subject of growth today. But before doing so may I thank you
for your welcome, the kind things you have said about my
election to office. It is one thing to be greeted with a
resounding win at your first election. It is a more satisfying
thing to be able to repeat the performance,. and we hope that we
will give you satisfaction in what we attempt over the period
which lies ahead before we come to our accounting with you
again. And I think we can claim that at least in the state of
Australia-and in particular the condition of the state of
' ivestern Australia we can point with some satisfaction to
effective organisation of what are the principle elements of
growth. Our human resources, our material resources, functioning
in an atmosphere of stability, economic stability and political
stability in a state of national security and with an environment,
an economic climate which is encouraging to incentive to
enterprise and to initiative. And if the results which you are
manifesting in this state of W; estern Australia can be taken as
reflecting the effectiveness of governments, Commonwealth and
State, and their partners in these enterprises, those who
hazard their skills and their fortunes, the entrepreneurs so
strongly represented here today then, Sir, that partnership I
believe has demonstrated its effectiveness and it is our goal
to see that it continues effectively over the period ahead.
I had the pleasure of making wvhat I understand is a
little State and Australian history today by attending a meeting
with the Premier and mem'bers of his Cabinet. I learned that
this was the first time an Australian Prime Minister had performed
this function and it only stressed to me the need for a closer
relationship than perhaps we have had in the past, if we are to
make the Federation function effectively and if we are to secure
the degree of partnership with each other as Governments and
with you who contribute so much to our resources, our revenues
and to the advancement of the nation by your own efforts. I
hope that at least our meeting here today where we have been
able to go over some mutual items of interest is a symptom of
the desire we have for that closer co-operation in the future.
Sir, I mentioned that we had in a country of some
3,000 square miles and with less than 12 million people that we
had no, I am sorry it is 3 million square miles that is a
pretty big percentage of error, I thought there was a catch to
it still there are less than 12 million of people and so my
point stands in that direction. qVe have, if wie take a comparisonand
I do not employ this critically of the countries concerned
but as a mark of what we have ourselves achieved the gross
national product of this country of less than 12 million people,
and compare it with some of our neighbours, we find that India

with a population 42 times our size generates in money value
just on double our gross national product. Pakistan and
Indonesia with populations 9 times our size that can point to
only one half the value of gross national product and so we
have been at least making advances ourselves in the way in which
we have managed our affairs inside this country. And we are
looking to greater things ahead for us, and in order to achieve
these greater things we have to build up our resources, our
human resources, which we are trying to do through an active
programme of immigration and the material resources largely
generated inside our own country. Eighty-five to 90% of our
fixed capital investment in Australia is generated from our
own resources but it is the remaining 10 to 15'/ which has been
so helpful in stimulating growth over these recent years. We
must do what we can to encourage that at the same time taking
such action as we can to make it possible for our fellow
Australians to participate appropriately in the development of
the resources of this country.
Thanks to this programme of population building we
have added 50% to our population over the last 20 years. Canada
is probably the only country that can point to a similar volume
of growth although I do not overlook the quite phenomenal
performance in a smaller population which Israel has carried
out but comparably Australia and Canada would rank outstandingly
amongst the industrialised countries of the world in the degree
of population growth they have attained through immigration.
And what th'is has meant to us is that whereas without
immigration we would have had about one-third of our population
under the age of 20, we have been able to lower the median age
of the population with all that that means in terms of work
force effort, the addition to the consumer requirements of the
community and the other advantages that a smaller average age
of the community brings to us. This has, as a result of
immigration, moved now from less than one-third under 20 to
something of the order of 407o under 20. If we had not had this
programme there would have been a drop in the number of people
in the 20 to 34 age group of about 132,000. Thanks to it we
have an increase more than double that dimension rather than a
fall of that size. 9hen we look to the skills which have been
brought to us as a consequence of this process, 42% 14 of those,
the males, coming to settle with us are skilled, against about
one in three of our own proportion of the work force. And so
the reliance we have come to place and I stress it to
members of two Chambers which have given us strong support in
this programme, I stress it to emphasise its importance for our
growth as a nation is that whereas even as recently as 1961,
immigration contributed 29% of our population growth, last year
it actually contributed because of our own declining birthrate
for a variety of social factors, it contributed 4%%
Now looking at this from another aspect, if it costs
about 5,000 to rear a child to productive age, then each
migrant who comes to us represents a considerable financial
asset. But as my friend, the Premier, realises only too well,
while you have that advantage of a saving in the cost of
bringing a child up to working capacity, you have the claims
on the community in the social and capital facilities of the
community which bear very heavily on governments and require
about 3 to 4% for migrants alone of our gross national product.
But with all this we have managed to succeed over the past five
years in maintaining a growth rate in Australia of an average
of 5-and this is only exceededso far as we can ascertain, by
one industrialised country, Japan and that high average growth
rate has been achieved despite a year of very serious drought
just a few years ago, serious, ccrtdinly, in relation to
Queensland and New South viales. doe are doing much to help

ourselves although we have turned to foreign investment to a
degree as I mentioned earlier but no country with the exception
of Japan ploughs more of its national income back into investment
than Australia roughly 27% of our gross national product
compared with 16 to 17% in the United Kingdom and in the United
States. Now all this has been a background to what have been
the quite spectacular and remarkable developments of recent
years, notably in the mineral field and no State has shown up
more spectacularly in this connection than has your State of
Western Australia. I am informed that the value of output from
our mining industries currently is of' the order of $ 900M. and
this should reach about " W1,700M. by 1975. Mr. Court would be
more familiar with these figures that I now mention than I am,
but my colleague, the Minister for National Development who is
with us, will have advised me that we have in sight iron ore
contracts, I think for this State alone, of an order of $ 39000M.
over the next 20 years. Somie 50 new mineral projects involving
a capital of 42,400M. are currently in progress in Australia,
and of course prospecting is going on actively for a great many
more. Now having mentioned something of what is occurring
inside the country, those of you who are here as representatives
of commerce will be well aware of the notable increase which is
occurring in our trade with Asia. In the early ' 50' s 15% of our
exports went East of Suez. Now more than 30% of our exports are
going East of Suez and with the percentage tending to rise.
Japan has, of course, become our largest customer, outstripping
the United Kingdom, and again, the trade there is on a rising
curve. As I went recently through some of the countries of Asia
I was struck with the potentialities which exist for the trade
of this country in the future, particularly in places such as
Taiwan and Korea. In both of those, Mr. Premier, they were
talking to me of the steel industries that they were setting up
there with a consortium already established in each of the two
countries and both said that they would be looking to Australia
for the iron ore they would be needing for that industry. And
this is just typical of the sort of growth which lies ahead for
us. Now if I may move from that broad economic picture to
a topic which may at first seem a little remote but does bear
quite intimately on our future prospects, the kind of stability,
security, the economic climate to which I referred in general
terms a little earlier, and that is the issue which has faced
us in Vietnam. I stress this because in recent times there has
been perhaps a disposition either to allow to recede into the
background the vital considerations which moved us to accept an
involvement in Vietnam and which at the ti; ne persuaded us that
not only was security involved but the kind of future of the
area in which we live that we want to see developed.
Now, of course, there are various important reasons
why we took the decision to participate. We have fought in two
world wars very far from Australian shores to support those who
were trying to resist aggression, small countries, themselves
under attack by larger powers and in this instance, of course,
the geographical factor is a very much more proximate one than
was the case in thnose two world wars. Darwin is closer to Saigon
than Perth is to Brisbane and so there is a security factor
involved there which was not apparent to us even in the same
degree in the two world wars. But in principle we were resisting
much the same thing a small nation under aggression from
others and we joined in the task of resisting it.
Secondly, of course, we ourselves being a small nation,
if we regard others as expendable and not worthy of support when
they come under attack can have no real assurance that we, should

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that situation ever arise, be ourselves able to rely on others
to come to our aid. In this connection, the realities of' our
present circumstances are that the most important pillar of
security for the Australian nation is the alliance we have with
the United States of' America and we are joined in the ANZLJS
Treaty, and for our part we have seen in the American action,
first in resisting aggression in Korea, secondly in coming to
the aid of South Vietnam, the same sort of principle of aid to
a weaker country that is wrapped up in the American obligation
in ANZUS there set out in more precise terms and perhaps more
reliably stated, but nonetheless the willingness of the United
States to join in resisting aggression there has been a matter
which we have had to properly take into account in our own
decision in relation to our participation in Vietnam.
And I mentioned the bearing it has on the kind of
world in which we wish to live, to trade, to co-operate and to
join in the activities of the region and what is far too often
overlooked, is the benefit that we have received and the countries
of the area have received. While we are conscious of all the
problems and agonies that are going on in Vietnam itself, there
is far less disposition on the part of the critics to look at
what has been achieved on the positive side in such countries
as Korea, and Taiwan, around the whole periphery of Asia in
Thailand, the Philippines, in South Vietnam itself' with some
prospect that this thing can be sorted out, of a secure and
prospering life in the future, and Australia and New Zealand
themselves made the more secure because of' the guarantees we
have against aggression if' that were ever to be directed against
us. So there have been these benefits immediately discernible,
currently discernible as a result of the resistance to aggression
in this area. Now, I lead from that to the query which I know arises
in the minds of many people, " Well why if' you feel this way
about Vietnam do you continue to trade with China?" And,
properly understood, there is no inconsistency in these two
courses of action.
We demonstrated in the case of Indonesia, when the
confrontation policy was in force there, that it was possible
on the one hand to resist the processes of confrontation but at
the same time maintain a channel which enabled a relationship
of friendship and of mutual interest to build up when circumstances
made this propitious. And we all know that there must come a
time when the free world will, with China, have to find an
accommodation, a process of' peaceful co-existence.
' te are not at war with China. We are engaging in
international trade on items which can be procured by that
country from a vaiiety of' countries. The products we sell,
wheat, wool, even steel, are readily procurable by China from
other parts of' the world. The steel sales, about which so much
of' public criticism was directed against us, represent less than
one-third of' 1% of' the steel availability from sources which
China has either internally or which it produces from overseas.
So, what we sell is itself marginal. Our total trade with China
represents less than 2% of the imports of that country from
other parts of' the world. And so they can dispense with their
trade with us far more with far less inconvenience and damage
to their economy than Australia can. Vie can put to better and
more effective use nationally what we secure from our trade than
the effect would be if it were to be cut off by China altogether,
and the bearing it would have on their trade.
But on the other hand just as trade does build up some
mutuality of' interest, some prospect of a capacity to live more
securely and in greater friendship with a country so we find that

this trade that China has with the free world has more than
doubled over the past five yeara. It has moved from 35-/ 0 of
total imports to 70% of total imports and that, one would
imagine, would in the long run have a bearing upon the policies
which finally emerge from China in relation to the rest of the
free world. Now, Sir, I know that you like to keep to a fairly
tight schedule in functions such as this, so could I just by
way of conclusion offer a few broad predictions as I, Head of
Australian Government, see the future course unfolding over the
years ahead. Surely if we can maintain a situation of peace
and peace is relative these days, we regard ourselves as being
at peace in one sense even when we have military forces engaged
as they are in Vietnam but the effect on the national economy
as a whole is still that of a peacetime economy, and providing
that a situation of' peace can be continued, Australia must be
able to look to an assured future and a continuance of effective
pcrtnership in a free enterprise system with Governments
co-operating in our Federation.
We can foresee a nation of 15 million people in 10 to
12 years' time with a growth rate and a productivity level
ranking among the best of the developed nations of the Western
world. As a nation with a diversification of our industry we
should be able to carry on without putting too many eggs into
one basket a nation with a much broader economic base a
greater variety of exports and more diversified markets. We
can look, with the application of methods of science and increased
fertiliser production, to spectacular rural development with
very large additional acreages responding to this scientific
knowledge and the application of scientific methods. We have
already witnessed a spectacular development of our mineral
industries with new communities, new factories arising around
them, and no-one imagines that we are at the end of discoveries
in this direction. We have a broader energy base for power
developing in the continent. This will flow from our recent
discoveries of oil and natural gas and the possibility of nuclear
power for peaceful purposes on an economic basis. We see our
own country as a continent of stability in Asia demonstrating
to the emerging nations there the happiness and practical virtues
to be found by a free people in a parliamentary democracy
stimulated by incentives matching their energies and enterprise.
WVe find a new intimacy developing with Japan, with Indonesia,
and the other free nations of Asia and a still closer relationship
likely to develop with New Zealand as we share some common
tasks in the area.
So we find in all these directions growth at work not
as something that can be guaranteed by edict but growth which
responds to the efforts of governments and peoples co-operating
freely together. And in that process I pay a tribute to the
Government of this State which itself has given so much by way
of leadership and effort to the prosperous growth of the State.
I hope I can be pardoned for including my able colleagues from
destern Australia, of my own MVinistry and of my own Parliament,
Senators and M~ embers from this State. They are of a high calibre
and I am indebted to them for all the assistance they bring to
the processes of Government.
Finally, it is through the work of responsible bodies
like your two Chambers that the partnership which the Premier and
I, and the Mlembers of our Governments so fervently desire, can be
given the most valuable practical expression by having responsible
voices with responsible membership conferring with us and able
to work out with us the policies which serve the national interest
best. It is in that spirit that I look confidently to a continuation
of the progress which in Western Australia and in Queensland,

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another great State of tremendous potential now stirring perhaps
for the first time in its long history into great activity. It
is through developments such as these that we look confidently
to the greater Australia of the future and to see ahead a
stronger, more prosperous and happier nation to which we can
all usefully contribute.

Transcript 1660