PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2603


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: 29/05/1972

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 2603

EMBARGO : Not for Release until 8.30 p. m.
CANBERRA 29 May 1972
Speech by the Prime Minister,
The Rt lion. William McMahon, M. P.
Just 12 months ago, I addressed you for the
first time as your Federal Parliamentary Leader and
Prime Minister. It was then a troubled party. Not only
were we going through the fires, ( if I can put it that
way), but there were great, complex and difficult questions
facing the People of Australia and particularly the people
of our own Party.
As I interpreted that situation, there was
nothing else to do but to get straight down to work,
producing new ideas, new approaches and new policies which
would be to thc Nation's benefit and rejuvenate our
political fortunes. This was urgent. Not because we
lacked ideas and approaches attuned to the times but because,
for understandable reasons, we were not getting action
quickly enough. We had to adjust, deliberately and rapidly, our
political life style and identity to the challenges and
choices of social and political change in Australian
society. My job was to see that this was done.
As Le~ ader of the Government, it is my dut to
translate Liberal policy into effective action. And to
make each and every decision subject to one single overriding
consideration. That consideration was the national
interest, the welfare, the security and the progress of
Australia and all Australians.

As you will know, new policies of lasting value cannot be
produced overnight. Individual effort was not enough. There had to
be a co-operative effort. And so, as the Federal Parliamentary Leader
and as Chairman of our Joint Standing Committee on Federal Policy, I
set the Party as a whole to work. They got down to it and did
the job. Quietly, with teamwork and patient determination the Liberal
Party set out to adapt its policy-thinking to the changing oattern of
attitudes and values, which were, and are, pervading Australian society.
We set a premium on new ideas. We set up fourteen specialised
sub-committees to review, renew and develop the whole range of our
policies. Mr 9octhey has already referred to these committees. The
Joint Standing Committee of our Party has now considered final reports
from the Party Committees on nine nolicy issues on education, on
health, the rule of law, urban notblems, the rural sector, defence,
national. goals, immigration, and laour and industrial law.
Reports and recommendations from the Standing Committee will
also be presented soon on the quality of life, on social services,
and on foreign affairs, as well as on nolitical matters such as
who runs the Labor Party ( You can be sure the answer will not be
Mr Whitlam), and the socialist alternative.
What are the results of the Committee's decisions to date
A number of Committee recommendations have already become Government
policy because we decided they should not be hoarded. The nature of
the policy-thinking that has gone on, and the results that are now
flowing through, reflecting, as they do, Party thinking and ideas,
show that the Liberal Party is a Party of the seventies. I think an
important result is that the Liberal Party of Australia today is at
least as productive of ideas and policy-thinking as at any time in the
Party's history probably more so.
Mr President, I turn now to three and only three of the
many important subjects that I mentioned before which have been through
the refining process of these policy committees.
First, let me speak about Education. We are a literate society
and education is crucially important in Liberal policy reviews and in
Government actions. Education is a world where the humanities vie with
the sciences and where technology, for the present, tends to dominate
the scene. We accent this, but we must not let technology overwhelm us.
We must so research and manage our educatinnal systems, that men and
women are adequately equiopcd to fuitili ' themselves in their chosen
spheres in a balanced society. We. must increase the opportunities for
education, and we must improve its quality. Our testament on this
philosophy was recently published in pamphlet form. And since then we
have announced new and stimulating policies designed to help all
Australian children in all Australian schools, Government and
independent. I am sure the action we have taken opens up a new era
in education in Australia. I know all Liberals will agree with me. / 3

Mr President, before going further, I want to mention one
essential precondition to the success of this strategy of new nolicy
innovation, new xolicy formulation, and new policy presentation. And
that precondition is, of course, a strong, diversified and structurally
sound economy. This is fundamental to our success and to the realisation of
our vision of the future. I don't need to tell you that we have had
extremely difficult economic, industrial, and social problems to
wrestle with. Our troubles have been aggravated by the end of the
mining boom, problems with the primary industries, excessive rises in
income and difficulties with international currency management and
with world trade.
The difficulties were compounded by the fact that today's
economic problems are not necessarily as amenable to traditional
analysis and resnonse as before. We were one of the leaders in the
new thinking that has developed about changing and more complex
economic conditions. As a consequence we have been deliberately more
flexible in national economic management than ever before. Above all,
we had to acknowledge frankly where predictions were wrong and act
quickly to apply remedial action.
Sir, with some experience in economic management, may t say
I know that the flexible and resnonsive economic stance we t6ok un
as early as last September is paying off. These measures all taken
in very recent months have included
Reductions in interest rates, public and private
Increased grants to the States
Increases in nensions and in aid for persons in nursing homes
Special assistance to the wool industry
Restoration of the investment allowance
A mini-budget which included a reduction in personal taxation
Increased grants for education, and
A reduction in excise duty on wine.
This is an impressive list.
All these measures were directed towards reducing unemployment,
encouraging sensible consumer spending, assisting needy sectors in
industry, and securing a balanced growth economy. And we have never
let up in our fight against inflation.
I also want to refer to other matters bearing on the economy
and the industrial scene in which the zovernment has made tremendous
progress in less than a year. I mention
1) The review of the arbitration and conciliation system ard the
changes in the public service acts to enable the rule of no
work no pay to apply amongst nostal workers.
2) The decisions on trade nractices and the intention to establish
a monopolies commission.
3j The Treasury paner on foreign investment recently presented to
Parliament. / 4

4) The wide-ranging taxation review which is to be held.
The white paper on defence.
6) The impending survey of prices and incomes policies.
I am sure that all this is contributing to a resurgence of
confidence in Australia today in business, in industry and in
Government. Next, let me refer to Health.
The national health scheme is voluntary and therefore differs
fundamentally fran Labor's p~ roposed compulsory scheme. It is based on
one fundamental principle and that is -the interests of the patient
must come first at all times. We have estbalished the principle that
the amount insured patients pay to their doctors will be lim-ited. The
amounts are small indeed compared with the normal cost of medical
treatment. We want to keep it that way. That is -why we accepted the
recommendations in the Mason Rep~ ort and why we are negotiating at present
with the Australian Medical Association about the common fee.
I would also remind you that under the existing health scheme
the burden of large hospital bills has been lifted from the patient.
Cabinet is now giving special attention to the problem of the chronically
ill in nursing homes and nursing attention in Drivate homes. And we
hope to be able to make known our decision soon.
So too, with child care. There is a shortage of child care
centres in Australia, and we are now considering what we can do about
that problem. As well, we have been active over a wide range of public health
We have taken warning action relating to the hazards to
health of smoking by our requirements for TV advertising.
We have made substantially increased grants for heart and cancer
research, and we are prepared to support more extensively the work of
the National Health and medical Research Council.

Now, let me turn to the environment.
For each individual we seek a quality of life which must
satisfy his needs in material, cultural and spiritual terms. A basic
essential i3 to secure his environment so that the things necessary
to fulfil those needs can germinate and flourish.
The scientist and the sociologist have sounded their warnings
around the world. Their voice is clearly heard here in Australia.
They remind us that the destructive nolltion of our physical environment
flows from the very successes of our industrial civilisation.
A few days ago my Government outlined to the nation the measures
it has in hand to protect the Australian environment. We stressed that
this was a beginning. And it is just that. There is still much to be
done. The challenge to free our society from the strangling grip
of overcrowded cities is being taken up.
So is the challenge of the changing balance of life in our
rural areas.
For an effective solution in a federation like ours, of course,
this problem has to be dealt with on the basis of the most intimate
co-operation with the Australian States.
Urban renewal, the elimination of slums, the reduction of
congestion, the planning of new cities and towns are at the heart of
Liberal policy for the seventies.
This is the basis of our approach to the future Australian
environment and we will say much more about it as the year goes by.

Mr President, nay I turn to the domestic and international
principles on which our policies are based.
I am sure I don't need to emphasise to you that at home
we are committed to sustaining the growth and development of this
country. Believe me, we are succeeding, despite the temporary
dI fficulties of the last year or two.
We see national development as directed to growth, in
the people's interest, in a climate of free enterprise and with
incentives to individual initiatives.
A full-scale examination is now being made to see whether
any action is desirable in the national interest in circumstances
where international corporations propose the takeover of Australian
companies. We will not allow monopolies to destroy the healthy
competition which Liberals believe is part of a free society and
wholly beneficial to that society. We have already announced our
intention to legislate for a Monopolies Commnission which among other
things will examine proposed takeovers by other Australian or overseas
companies which could result in monopolies or monopoly condition.
Now, Mr President, let me say something about foreign
investment in Australia. We have recently received the latest
assessment of the impact such investment has made and is making in
Australia. Shortly, several submissions will be made to Cabinet
relating to the problems associated with cap~ ital inflows and the
wisdom or otherwise of the need for regulation and control.
But lot me strike one note ofl caution here. Foreign
investment in Atralian industry has become an emotional issue as
well as a matter for serious examination and some regulation. I ask
you to all look at this matter in a commonsense way.
The criterion which must determine our actions is what
is in the best national interests of this country. And actions must
be based on a hardheaded appreciation of benefits and costs. That
is the attitude we, as Liberals, will take.
The other great responsibility we bear is in our
international relations. There is much of this that needs no
emphasis. Lot me summrarise : We have become a moderately-sized
power; we have become an industrialised nation; we are a good ally;
we are respected and trusted; other nations want us to join them in
co-operative efforts.
So far so good, but what does the future hold?
We have ties with Britain, and a crucial alliance with America. We
have mutual ties and arrangements with our friends in Asia, in
trade and aid, in cultural exchange, and in do-fence. We have mature
relationships with the old world and the new world. We are deeply
involved and deeply committed in Asia.
As liberals, you will recognise the commonsense and
value of such outward-looking and multilateral policies. They have

4 0. -7
been, in large part, the product of liberal initiative. We must
sustain these principles in the national interest. We must increase
our own capability in both '~ ecivil and defence spheres.
Shortly, I will visit three of our friends in the
South-East Asian region in Indonesia, in Singapore and in Malaysia.
It will be a goodwill visit to neighbours, a return of courtesies and
the refreshment of old friendships.
These visits will be made in the midst of momentous
changes in the contemporary world. The journeys of President Nixon
bear witness to this. Britain will soon be in the Common Market;
Japan has become our best customer; the pattern of world trade is
changing, and we are pursuing genuine efforts to develop a dialogue
with China, and at the same time we remain unwilling to abandon our
friends in Taiwan. These approaches demonstrate both the will anO the
willingness to play our part in a world of interdependence, and to
play it in a healthy, vigorous independent Liberal and Australian
Mr President, I come now to the alternative being
presented to the Australian people in this election year. It is
absolutely essential that we must take the mask off Labor policy
as often as we can. it is time the people know the dangers of
a Labor alternative. Let me make these points crf comparison and difference.
1) On liberty.
We stand for the individual for his freedom, his initiatives
and his opportunities.
Labcr stands for socialism, for the all-powerful state,
bureaucratic, anonymous, unfeeling.
2) On the law.
We believe in freedom of speech and assembly, and of dissent
within the law.
Labor tolerates disrespect for, and oven breaches of, the law.
3) On Australia's security.
We beieve that treaties involve responsibilities and we stand
ready to h'rnour them. The ANZUS Treaty is the cornerstone
of our security.
The Labor Party stands for isolation in defence it scorns
meaningful treaties and arrangements with friendly powers.
It gives lip service only to an ANZUS Treaty with the
heart and soul torn out of it.

4) On responsibility. We arc~ free to act and interuret our Policies and
platform without duress or interference.
The Labor Party in the Parliament is dictated
to by the Party outside. It is a Party in chains.
We have great responsibilities to Protect the
nation from being locked in a straitjacket of socialism. We
must safeguard the future of this great nation.
Post-war progress of the Australian nation is
our inheritance and its future safety and prosperity is
our destiny. It is our job as Liberals to fulfil these
responsibilities with vigour, with honestY and with imagination.
I know we are equipped to do it and to do it in
a manner and with a purpose that matches the times in which
we live. I thank you. 8

Transcript 2603