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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2074

GREAT SYNAGOGUE LUNCHEON - SYDNEY, N.S.W. - SPEECH BY THE THE PRIME MINISTER, MR. JOHN GORTON

Photo of Gorton, John

Gorton, John

Period of Service: 10/01/1968 to 10/03/1971

More information about Gorton, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 30/06/1969

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 2074

0 JUL W9
GREAT SYNAGOGUE LUNCHEON
SYDNEY, N. S. W. JUNE 1969
Speech by the Prime Minister, Mr. John Gorton
It is pleasant to be here and to talk to you at this luncheon;
to talk to you as Australians of the Jewish faith. I have long believed
your actions in the past and the present show that your community is not
an alien community any more than those who attend St. Andrew's Day
Dinners, or those perhaps more closely akin to my own forbears on one
side who wear green on St. Patrick Day. Mind you, I'm Church of
England I just want to make that clear:
But rather are we Australians a people who have, over the
years, come together from all corners of the world with differing religions,
with differing cultures, with differing customs, with different histories to
which we can look back but which should not condition all our thinking.
For while history is what is past, in one sense, it also beckons to us to
make it in the future in another sense. And a nation made of those who
come from so many different areas, from those who come with so many
different cultures, from those who have so many different things to
contribute, must be richer, must be more able to bend the course of
future history to its requirements, not as fragmented peoples, but as a
nation and a people embracing all. And because I believe this is your
belief and because I think in this approach lies true greatness for Australia
in the future, this is why I said it was such pleasure for me to talk to you
today. I have been called a nationalist, sometimes by my opponents
who tend to twist this in a way I think it should not be twisted, but I am
proud to admit to being a nationalist. I think that the future of this country
requires we should all have a national identity, national goals, national
aims and national pride. This should not be something shutting out the
rest of the world because of our nationalism, for that would be to wrap
ourselves up in a small parcel indeed and wrap out all the rest of the world.
But rather it should be something creating as a nation, having a national
pride, having something we can contribute to the general community of
nations in our own right and of our own identity for the good of all, much
as those members of a family, each with different capacities, each with
difference approaches, each with different personalities, can contribute
from themselves to the general family, as we can contribute to the family
of the world. / 2

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But to do that there is a need to meet requirements inside
this country competing requirements, all of which cannot be met, or at
least all of which cannot be met at once. It is easy enough seeing the needs
that lie before us in all the various fields, it is easy enough to promise
that they will all be done and they will all be done at once, but it is impossible
to deliver on that promise and all men of sense known that this must be
true. Let me sketch out for you some of the problems lying before
us, calling for manpower, calling for capital, calling for technological
expertise and you will see what I mean by competing claims.
First, I suppose because this is the rock on which
development and indeed existence must evemrally depend first is the
requirement for our own national security and our own national defence
against possible attack. History shows that no matter what a period may
indicate to people, those who neglect security, those who neglect defence,
do so ultimately at their own peril. And so we must devote a proportion
of our manpower, a proportion of our resources, a proportion of our
thought to building up defence forces ( insofar as a nation of twelve million
can), and to forming alliances with greater countries who, seeing that we
are prepared to help ourselves, will be prepared to come and help us in
time of need. And we must, I believe, become involved in the region in
which we live so that to the north of us, countries will see that we care
about them, that we will help them not only economically, n~ ot only with
aid, not only with training, but also that we are prepared to help them
should they be attacked themselves.
But here I want to make some qualifications. Up until now,
we have been in a situation where we contributed because the defence of
these regions to our north was the responsibility of Britain as, at the
moment and for some short time ahead, it still will be. The responsibility
for the defence was Britain's. She accepted that responsibility and sought
assistance from the local populations. We cannot do that. We cannot take
over responsibility for the defence of these areas and look for assistance
from the local population. Rather is it our task to expect the local
populations to assist themselves and to be ready to contribute to that
joint defence, and this is the great difference between what was and what
will be. In doing that and we have decided to do that we are, I think,
acting in Australia's interests.
But we are not giving blank cheques for the use of Australian
youth by others. Our forces must be under our control. We are not giving
a blank cheque for the use of Australian youth and the killing of Australian
youth unless we are sure that this is done to prevent aggression, to prevent
attack, and not done merely as an involvement in racial conflicts in a
particular area. And it is well, and necessary, that everybody should
understand this, because then there can be no danger in the future of any
breach of faith. This has been made clear. This is one call upon our
resources.

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We have another in a sense a corollary with the first; the
need to develop. We need to see that our mines come into production, that
our factories are stocked with the latest machinery with the latest
technological expertise, and with the latest scientific approach. We need
to see that our factories extend and that we become a nation of industrial
muscle, of strength within ourselves. This cannot be done quickly unless
we attract from abroad large sums of capital and large numbers of people
so that the requirements that I have spelt out can be met. This is being
done, it must continue, it must be another call or, our Government resources
because these things require that governments should put in roads, should
put in power plants, should put in water supplies, should put in the ancillary
requirements for such development should even, sometimes, please God,
put in sewerage: But here, too, it is necessary ( having said this and believing
it completely) to seek to ensure that these new developments will in their
beginning be required to offer to the Australian people some chance of
participation, This offer of some ownership by Australians should be made
at the start, so that as these enterprises grow, as Australia grows, then
the value of that initial participation will remain with Australians unless
they choose themselves to sell it to somebody else.
I used the word " offer". We are not going to be able in
Australia to provide from our own resources all the capital that is
required for all the development we need. I doubt if we are going to be able
to provide from within Australia all the capital that is required for half of
the development we need in the space of time in which we need it. But we
can supply varying proportions to varying industries and we wish, and have
let it be known that we expect that offers will be made for Australian equity
participation in new developments, or in expanded development, and if those
offers are not taken up, then that is Australia's fault and must not be allowed
to inhibit progress. This is another great call on our manpower and on our
resources and on our capital.
I haven't yet touched on many other areas because I do
believe, and you will know that I have said this, that it is necessary for a
great country not only to have industrial muscles, not only to be materially
great but to take care of those within it. In particular, I am speaking of
those who, their own race having been run, having reached a certain age,
ought to be able to live with some peace and some human dignity at the
hands of their fellow Australians. There ought to be provision so that if
some woman loses her husband and has a young family to bring up, that
family has the same chances of education, of clothing, and of food, as they
would have had had that woman's husband not died. / 4

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And there is too an increasingly evident requirement that
if citizens contribute during their working life to their own security, their
own living after they retire, then they should not find themselves in a
situation where they may be no. better off, and possibly even worse off
than citizens existing solely on a pension paid by the State. This, I hasten
to say, is not to be assumed to be any suggestion of abolishing the means
test, because it isn't. It is merely a suggestion that there is an area of
unfairness, an area of injustice, and that area of unfairness and injustice
is one to which we must direct our minds. But this, too, calls for a great
deal of our resources, a great deal of the taxes which you pay.
And so, too, do demands for better education which we all
want at least so do the calls for more money for education, which is not
necessarily the same thing. But more money for education and a
requirement that is directed towards better education call upon our resources,
as do calls for better hospital services, better roads, and for many things
which you appreciate and with which I will not weary you by enumerating.
Another factor is the calls, the heartfelt calls for no higher taxation to
meet all these requirements indeed for lower taxes if it is at all possible.
And there is some justice well not justice, I'm not going
to u--e that word but there is some sense in this because taxes must not
get to a stage where they inhibit initiative, where they prevent the rewards
for extra effort; because in this case we could not meet the other
requirements which I have already mentioned. Wellt these are all calls.
And there is the requirement to see that inflation is not allowed, because
if it is, then we are merely kidding ourselves that we are advancing without
in fact advancing at all. In a nation where less than one per cent is
unemployed, in a nation where our resources and goods are used to their
fullest as they are now, Lhe answer is not just issuing more money but
rather more capital, more people and more effort from all sections of this
community. Well, there will be arguments as to the priorities amongst
the things I have mentioned and the many others you can add. They are
right and proper arguments, but there can be no argument as to what I
said initially that should anybody promise all these things all at once
he will not be able to deliver on that promise. And as it is necessary that
there should be these arguments as to priorities, then clearly they should
be stated and judged by the people of Australia. And this is the course
which we will follow and which, indeed, we have endeavoured to follow.
It may take time it will take time to attain the goals of
full social justice, to attain the goals of proper educational facilities, of
roads which suit everybody, of hospitals which can care properly and
cheaply for all the population, and for all the other things I have mentioned.
But surely the proper course for a nation to follow and this is the one
that we will try to follow is to set the goals, advance towards each one

and of necessity, realising the constrictions I have spoken of, advance
over a period of time towards each one. This is inevitable, but with the
nation knowing what the ultimate goals are and the steps that are hoped to
be taken to reach them. This is what I regard as a prudent and proper
and honest approach to the Australian people and this is the one we have
been following and will follow. And this is the one, I think, most men of
good sense and judgment will accept as the proper course for an Australian
Government. Indeed, to finish, Sir, where I began, and to add one other
reason for my pleasure in speaking to you this afternoon, it is because I
think there would be within this hall such men of good judgment, of good
sense, of proper approach as would agree with and would support what we
have done and what we propose to do. Sir, we will make mistakes in the
years as we approach these problems. That is inevitable, for no man, no
woman, no government is perfect. But should such mistakes be made, they
will be honest mistakes. They will be admitted. They will be rectified.
And that, I think, is what the nation of Australia wants. At any rate, I
hope so, and I thank you for the chance of speaking to you.

Transcript 2074