PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2409


Photo of McMahon, William

McMahon, William

Period of Service: 10/03/1971 to 05/12/1972

More information about McMahon, William on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 23/04/1971

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 2409

CANBERRA, A. C. T. 23 APRIL 1971
รต peechby the Prime Minister, Mr. William McMahon
Your Maje.; ties, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Ladies and Gentlemen
Sir, this is the first time a reigning monarch from Nepal has come to Australia,
arid the first time that a reigning monarch from Nepal has been in the Parliament House
of the Commonwealth. We welcome you and we welcome your wife.
Sir, you should know that there has been a long association in one way or
another between the Nepalese people and ourselves. Many of us here today, if not all of
us, remember the fact that at Gallipoli, Gurkha troops shared the responsibility with our
own Fourth Brigade under General Monash. We can never forget their braveness. We
can never forget the assistance they gave us under the most troubled and difficult
conditions. And I well remember on many occasions, listening to a former Governor-
General of ours, Viscount Slim, when he continually referred to the tract that he liked
talking to the Gurkhas. He liked talking to your own people, and above all, he liked their
steadfastness under action, under active service conditions, and how much he liked them
fighting because he knew they would never fail.
But there are other reasons, too, Sir, why we have got reasons for happin ess.
Our own Colombo Plan was, in the days when I was Foreign Minister and that was
only a few weeks ago was, I believe, a little out of proportion to the vote that we gave
to other countries. I hope it hasn't changed, but if I find it has, or there is a likelihood
of change, I can assure you I will be the first one reminding my c& gethe Treasurer.
Now, Sir, we have a Colombo Plan, as you know, and we have already had
something of the order of 90 of your young students come here. We welcome them, and
we hope that more will come in the days to come. I can't say that we will bu-ild up the
programme because it is a difficulty for you just as much as it is for us. But we do like
them. We regard them as people who are adaptable, people who are fitting into the
educational system of this country and I hope they go back much better trained and able
to play their part in the future of your country.
And, too, Sir, we have these problems of tourism. Yours is a magnificent
country, of grandeur and of plains of the ranges and the mountains and the plains.
Providentially, nature built the ranges on the North and the plains on the South. And I
think, Sir, it has been a protection to you and it will, I believe, in time be a protection
to others. But I am sure what we can do is to build up our tourism. At least I know that
in the case of my own two children, not only do they know of Everest and of the exploits
of Hillary and of Sherpa Tensing, but they also, Sir, would like to come and find the
Abominable Snowman, if they could, even if they have to beseech your help, as probably
the best guide there is in Nepal, in order to try and find him. a. / 2

Then Sir, may I turn to you as a person and as a reigning constitutional monarch.
I have looked with awe, Sir, at all the portfolios that you have held. Roughly, I have
held about fourteen, one way or the other, but I believe, Sir, as I looked at the record,
you have held ever so many more than I have. And you have been there less time than
I have. I wonder how you fit into them the Treasurer, as well as the Chief
Administrator, as well as the Head of your National Development Corporation, and I
believe one or two other portfolios which for the moment the names evade me.
But, Sir, if I can look at what you have done the World Health Organisation,
in education for the young people and the people of the universities and the colleges, in
looking after the women and children. I think, Sir, that you have given the kind of
leadership that any country in the world, including our own, would be proud of.
And besides that, I was asked today by one of my officials, if I would care to
recite " The Man From Snowy River". Naturally it caught me a little by surprise because
it is so long since I have heard it. And when they asked me to do it, I couldn't
remember the opening bars. But I was told, Sir, that if I did ring you, Sir, as a. poet
in your own right, you who know the ranges and the mountains so well, would have
responded. And I perhaps, Sir, might have been a little flabbergasted and certainly
would have been put in the shade with the eloquence of your speech.
But, Sir, may I now turn to your Constitutional activities as the reigning
monarch, Head of State and Head of Government together. Sir, if I can refer to three
areas in which you have taken a part.
First of all, I want to refer to your activities in what we call the Panchayat
System of government, which commences right at the grass roots, and goes through
local government and other organisation working up to the central government under
yourself, both as Prime Minister and Head of State. Sir, we hope that this scheme
is successful, drawing the people into the government at the lower levels, giving them
the opportunity to participate, and in time strengthening the very fabric of government
in your own country.
But there are two other reforms that I believe will meet with the warmest
of warm approval by Members of Parliament and of the Australian people. The first
one is your adoption of the rule of law the application of law to everyone, no matter
who they might be and without any kind of discrimination, fairly and judiciously and
making sure that every single person in the community has the protection of an
independent judiciary. Secondly, the programme of " Back to the Village", designed
to ensure that the leadership shall come from you down to the paeons and the people and
back from the paeons and the people to the government itself, in combination working
in the interests of your own country.
Sir, naturally enough, we want each of these programmes to be successful
and we feel reasonably confident that under your direction and leadership that they will
be. In the international field that I have recently vacated, as I said a few moments
ago, I knew that on the last occasion I was at the United Nations the 25th anniversary
celebrations you were there too. Equally, too, can I say that the year before, whilst
I wasn't there, I knew that you were there, and that you played your part as the
leader of your own delegation and you certainly took a prominent part in the Economic
and Social Council. / 3

Internationally, too, with the non-aligned countries, you have taken a very
prominent part. First of all in Belgrade and later on in Lusaka. And we, Sir, again
if I can repeat these words, welcome the part that you played to try and mould this'
th~ ird force together. To be a force that can make a contribution, and in time a bigger
contribution, to try and ensure that there is a better balance of forces in the world"'
4nd consequently a greater prospect for peace, a greater prospect of success for the
things that we hold dear in your and in our time.
And, finally, Sir, may I say something to you about the grace and charm of
your wife. She, too, complements in very nearly every way your own activities. 7 with
the young women, with the children, with health and educational organisations, in
the. arts and in culture, and too, in conservation measures. We welcome you, Your
Maiesty, along with your husband, and we do hope that in the days to come, in reven
days that you are with us, they will be days of unequalled joy for both His Majesty
and for yourself. Now His Majesty himself. I first of all should say this to you as a maiter of
fact. Normally a reigning monarch under circumstances like this doesn't make a
speech. But the mood has caught him not while he was sitting here in Parliament
House, for which he would have been forgiven, but on the way here. Without urging
but voluntarily of his own free will, he has decided he would like to say a few words
to you in Nepalese, but translated by his Foreign Minister. I wanted you to know this
before I called upon the Leader of the Opposition to support the Toast.
But, Sir, I want to assure you before I sit down that we, the representatives
of the Australian people welcome you. We know that the Australian people Mvuld
welcome you too if they were given the chance. Thank you for coming. We will
always welcome you back again.

Transcript 2409