PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2707


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: 30/10/1972

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 2707

Speech by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. William. McMahon, CH, MP.
October 1972
Just as the strength of the family rests with
women, so does the strength of the nation depend upon the quality
of its women. And that leads me to say that I believe the same
principles apply to national political parties like the Liberal
Party of Australia. I don't think we could have succeeded as
well over the last twenty-two years, nor could we have endured
for so long and have such bright prospects as we now have, if
it had not been for the Liberal women.
Here, I am not talking exclusively about women
mem! Ders of Parliament. I am talking about the women of the
Party who comprise the backbone of our electoral and of our
campaign organisations. So today, I want to pay tribute to you on behalf
of the Liberal Party as a whole. But, now I am going to ask you
to work even harder during the next five weeks, or six weeks, in
order to ensure that we have a bigger majority in the House than
we have at the present time. I know you will. And I know you
are going to ensure your return on December 2 with a resounding
victory, and I repeat again with an evcn greater majority than
we have in the House now.
Now this election campaign will, I believe, be
decisive for all of us. It will in fact be a crucial decision.
On December 2 Australians will be making their choice between
a way of life that puts the individual, the family and the
nation first, living in and working in and sharing in the
Government of an Australia which has modern defences, strong
alliances and good neighbours. That is the Liberal way; that
is the Liberal choice. / 2

We will be choosing between this and a radically
different way of life, a radically different Australia,
compulsorily squeezed and moulded by artificial controls to
conform to Labor's foolish and repulsive socialist policies.
It is, I believe, becoming clearer, as the tide
of public opinion continues to turn in our favour, that
Australians will emphatically reject the wrong-headed visions
of our opponents. I want to emphasise this just as strongly
as I can. Labor's blueprints for remaking of Australian life
are alien to everything on which we have based the nationbuilding
of our post-war generation of progress, growth and
development. In every phase of national and personal life from
external security to ' Private morality, they want to attack the
way of life that the great majority of Australians have built
and which we want to preserve. For these reasons, Australians
are realising that this is an election not between similar
Parties and similar policies, with nothing more than a minor
shade of difference to tell them apart because the differences
between us are sharp and they are real.
So, it will be a major part of the Liberal Party
campaign in the next few weeks to drive home these unbridgeable
differences in public understanding. It is essential that all
of us in the Liberal Party make certain that no Australian goes
to the polls without a clear understanding of these differences.
That is one vital aspect of our campaign. But the most important
message that we should bring to the Australian people is this.
It is the message that in the past eighteen months this
Government has achieved more changes and reforms than any other
Government in history in a comparable period. This pattern of
change and reform matches, I believe, the new aspirations of the
Australians of the 1970' s.
But that is only a beginning. We have shown that
we have a combination of youth and experience in Government which
successfully tranerlates imaginative ideas into constructive and
into responsible action. In the next few weeks Members and
Ministers will be travelling the length and breadth of the nation
and we will convince Australia that the return of this Gpvernment
will be a mandate for continuous, constructive contemporary, and
above all, responsible change. 1
And so I want to put this to all Australians. Put
back a Government that will guarantee your freedom of choice while
it goes on changing and reforming and improving the quality of
life in a dynamic Australia. Whilst we are proud of what we've
done, we are not content. / 3

Before I go on to examine some specific areas of
policies and issue in this election lot me go bach~ a little over
what we have done in a very short period of Government. I remind
you immediately of the success of Premiers' Conferences and of
the Loan Council. But I want to move now fairly quickly to what
occurred three months ago whcn wco brought down the most
humanitarian, wide-ranging and far-sighted Federal Budget in
memory. We slashed personal taxation. They were the largest
cuts in th~ e nation's history.
We also demonstrated that this is a Government of
roal social conccrn going wel~ l beyond any previous actions.
The Means Test has been c" scd " a we ore pledgod t" its complete
abolition within the next throe years. Pension rates in the last
eighteen months brought an increase of 29 percent in the stanard
rate of pension, never before equalled in so short a time from
$ 15.50 per wcek to $ 20 per week or more than three times the
changes in the cost of living at that time. All other pension
levels went up to give thrm the largest buying power ever.
The wives of all pensioners become entitled to receive benefits
ranging up to an increase Df $ If.? 5 pcr week, and because we
allowed superannuation ponsions and annuities to be treated as
property, many thousands of people will receive further pensions
for tho first time.
Our nursing home and home care reforms will be a
milestone in the care of the aged. For care in the home, there
is now a home care allowance of $ 14.00 a wcek in addition to
their social service benofits.
The personal income tax cut has bcen cut an average
of 10 percent following a 2h percent reduction we made in April.
For the man on the average wage with a wife and four
children, the amount of tax paid is down by a quarter and his
take-home pay is increased by $ 3.10 a week. Dependants'
. Allowances have been increased by $ 52 a year.
We have exempted 600,000 taxpayers from tax completely
by lifting the tax threshold from $ 417 a year to $ 1,041 a year.
pstate duty exemptions have been doubled and the Home Savings
Grant has gone up from $ 5C0 tc $ 750.

In education, 1-ye are allowing u-p to $ 40~ 0 as a deduction
for self-education ex'-enses. Deductions for student children have
gone up from $ 300 to 450, and secondary and tertiary scholarships
have been increased dramatically from $ 53,000 to $ 123,000 a year.
Living allowances have been raised and limits on scholarship
holder's incomes abolished.
We have begun assistance in child care with an initial
million for centres for children in snecial needs and those
from low income families.
These, I assure you, are but nart, and only part, of our
Budget measures, and this I can assure you, is only part of the
story. Let us look at other major ' nolicy decisions. ! We have
within recent weeks, in fact -within the last ten days, implemented
controls on foreign takeovers, and if the advice tendered to me is
correct, and I believe it i3, it will -over 90 ner cent of the
cases. But equally important, I believe, that not only does the
law itself provide a major deterrent, but it is also indicative of
the fact that we will take whatever strona measures are needed in
order to ensure that no foreign takeover takes placeif it is contrary
to the national interest.
We have acted to Protect the environment. We have
established an ambitious new;, framework for urban growth. We have
already established an inquiry into poverty.
1bw these are just some of the things we've done, and they
are the kind of actions which we have shown we can initiate and
implement both capably and responsibly. We will do more, we will
do much more, but no Government can build this nation without
ensuring its basic security.
Not so many years ago we. ir elied for our defence and
security on the might of tie British-and American Navies, and to a
lesser extent uoon thoir airforcoes. World War II and subsequent
events, ' narticularly the dramatic changes that are occurring in
Asia, have changed that basic concept. For centuries the Asian
nations remained unchanged and unchangeable. Today this area of
the world is one of the most changing and dynamic and we are
participating in that change and those dynamic areas whcre the
change is taking place.
There can be doubt, howover that, China in its
international policieCs, continually promotes the idea of
insurgency in other countries, for example, in Thailand and
Malaysia, which are both very important to our security and to
our trade.

People might argue, that is all right, but we cannot
see immediate prospects of danger of an attack upon our nation's
frontier and on Australia itself. For them who argue this way,
I want to give an unequivocal answer. Akny person who is prepared
to take a risk with the security and defence of this country is
acting in a way that is completely intolerable and will not be
accepted by the vast majority of Australian people because the
unexpected can happen.
Let me 4ve you a few illustrations. You will
remember the confrontation between Indonesia and Malaysia a few
years ago and the possibility that this could have spilt over into
East Nlew Guinea. You will remember the insurgency in East Malaysia
and in North Malaysia and in Thailand and of the activities of the
Communists in Thailand and the military oerations between India
and Pakistan and you know, too, of the growing presence of Russia
in the Indian ocean. In these circumstances, we just could not
take a risk and any person or party who Promoted the idea that
the risks should be accepted is not worthy of representing the
Australian people. Of course we would wish for policies of
bipartisanship but this is not the nature of politics and cannot
be for long periods anyhow.
So you see there are great and fundamental differences
between the Government and our opponents but let me summarise them
to you. In our regional defences we are building good relations
with Indonesia and the Five Power arrangements with Malaysia and
Singapore were reaffirmed as in good shape during my visits to
those three countries earlior this year.
Labor, the alternative, would pull Australia out of
the Five Power arrangements. We will remain as long as those
nations want us to do so. We continue to support, and give full
support for the ANZUS Treaty as a guarantee of our security, while
continuing to build our self-reliance and our ability to help
others within the region.
Labor would downgrade ANZUS from a primary defonce
treaty to a social welfare document and concept. It would, in
fact, make ANZUS completely lacking in concept, lacking in vitality
for purely defence pu rposes.
Similarily they would write off SEATO as useless, even
though it is a regional arrangement which links the powers in our
part of the world, both to Britain and the Ujnited States and they
would do this through the immediate abolition of National Service
and they would straight away destroy the traditional strength of
the army which military experts state is the basic minimum structure

necessary for the army to be able to field in any significant
force. In fact they would reduce the size of the army from about
41,000 to 26,000 and they would reduce the strength of our army
from about nine to somewhere about five or six battalions.
This would inevitably mean that our army would
immediately drop out of the currency of diplomacy and of deterrence
in the region. Career opportunities in the army would be
irreparably damaged. our security would be undercut, and our
ab~ ility to give our Asian friends our word and be able to back it
up would be non-existent. If this is not the recipe for an
isolationist, friendly, and ultimately defenceless, Australia, I
cannot imagine what is.
They see no problems emerging in the Indian Ocean,
and they would deny ? imerica access to defence communications
installations in Australia. These are all very great differences
between us. I now turn to the important issue of immigration,
because, here again, my Government and the Labor Party are poles
apart. We believe that it is essential that the Government should
control population policies. Through our Liberal Party
immigration policy we exercise this control.
Labor runs away from this responsibility. It wants
the entire migration programme based upon sponsorship by relatives
of migrants already living here.
Now this assumes that the sum total of the individual
wishes of relatives of migrants will always equal the sum -total
of Australia's immigration needs. This is nonsense and many
people in the Labor Party know it and they let their views become
known. My Government combines two processes. A sponsorship
process to encourage family reunions and a process of actively
seeking migrants under Government sponsorshiD to fulfil those of
the nation's needs not met by sponsorship. Labor's policy of
non-control is doubly dangerous. It abandons the means of making
adjustments to meet the nation's varied social and economic needs.
Worse, it ensures that there will be an immediate and substantial
cut-back in immigration followed by a rapidly accelerating change
in the pattern of immigration.
In the past five years, only half of all settlers in
Australia were either Commonwealth or State nominees, only thirty
eight rprcent were privately nominated settlers. To abandon
Government nominated immigration as the A. L. P. would do would have the
effect of reducing settlers by at least one half, despite the
/ 7

weight of expert opinion that migrants put far more into the
economy than they take out of it. We would also lose an essential
supply of skilled workers and these, I believe, areD very important
figures to present to you.
In the past five years, Labor's policy would have
denied Australia 73,700 of the 98,000 skilled workers who came
here as assistant migrants. These skilled workors are essential
for regional development, such as the develonment over in the
North-West of Western Australia and the development as well in
various parts of Queensland, including the alumina developments
and the development of our bauxite deposits.
The other major effects of Labor's snonsorship-only
policy will be an inevitable change in the pattern or the
composition of immigration programmes because of the sponsor ship
rates of various nationalities. These show that the non-European
migrants have by far the highest sponsorship patterns of the
highest sponsorship rates. Under Labor there would be a
pyramiding effect of immigration amongst those migrants with a
traditionally higher sponsorship rate. This would mean the
systematic elimination of immigration from Northern Europa, the
United Kingdom and the 71mericas. Mr. Whitlam has done this with
complete disregard for the national interest. He even admitted
on television, as you probably know and saw, that this policy
was to get him " cff -the hook" on the issue of discrimination.
In summary, therefore, Labor would abandon the
existing immigration policy which, while by no means exclusively
European, is strongly oriented-I in that direction. Labor's policy
would ensure that no selection was to be made on the ground of the
country of origin. It would, in short, ignore the lessons learned
in other countries and it wouldl significantly alter the ethnic
structure of -Australia in the long tcrm.
By contrast, we support the existing immigration
scheme, with intake scale~ d to ensure maximum employment. Skilled
workers, 30 per cent of which wlould be eliminated by Labor, have
benefitted everybody by adding to the nation's nroductivity, and
their substantial demand for goods and services has helped to
sustain employment. This policy, based upon assisted European migration,
has encouraged rapid assimilation and it has given us an integrated
nation with minimal ethnic problems and controlled yet rapid
population growth, with an increasing insurance:-on our defence
potential. / 8

The last issue I want to mention to you today is
the question of freedom under the law and how it affects our
society. Democracy and the guarantee of individual human rights
to freedom and independence depend upon two concepts: They are
the rule of law and the maintenance of public order and regular
free Parliamentary elections.
The rule of law means this, that everybody has equal
freedom and equal rights under the law which are administered
fairly, impartially and honestly. This means freedom for
everybody, freedom without any sort of discrimination. Tp be
effective, the rule of law requires discipline in the use of
sanctions which in turn require legal enforcement. That is what
the maintenance of public ordcr means.
It is truly said that without law is without liberty.
When we s * oeak of freedom we mean your freedom under the law. It is
not a licence to do as you please without restraint or without
respect to the rights of others. Particularly some young people
think it fashionable or exciting to become involved with the
so-called conscientious breaking of the law through civil
disobedience. Such people are easily exr'loited and manipulated
by a small hard-core group of militant activists because of their
relatively innocent political idealism. This hard-core group
makes no pretence whatsoever of respect for the law or concern
for democracy although, as most of us know, they fully exploit
democratic freedoms to preach their own propaganda.
Our political opponents try to ridicule and degrade
freedom under the law with a smokescreen of self-righteousness
or attacks upon the police. The question must be asked: Why?
Here in Victoria, the Labor Party has answered by
its action in endorsing as a candidate for an unwinnable seat a
young man who is on a run from the law. That endorsement must cast
doubts on Labor's belief in our political system of democracy, or
at least that section of the Labor Party which took part in, or
applauded this candilate, because the endorsement of the young man
did nothing less than throw the concer't of the rule of law of
which I have been speaking into ridicule and contempt.. You would
think that a democratic constitutional party would immediately
disown this sort of action as political delinquency, something to
be condemned. What happenedl? Mr. Whitlam was asked about it, and
he retorded:---" Draft dodging is not a crime." As you know, or
you should know, Mr. Whitlam is, or is alleged to be, a Queen's
Counsel. / 19

4 9.
And what did Mr. Hawke do? He took part in the
young man's campaircn. Mr. Whitlam, I can assure you, put his
mouth to it, but Mr. Hawke went one better and out his foot in it.
Now Mr. Whitlam and Mr. Hawke are engaged in a contest
about who is going to be the front-runner in the Labor campaign.
Whichever one it is, this provides a fair indication of their
attitude to freedom under the law and the public order.
We are, unfortunately, living in an increasingly violent
society. This year alone, there were twenty-four bombing
incidents in an Australia, previously relatively free from them.
I ask you as Liberal women and those others, those other guests who
come within Liberal women today to ask and to frequently to ask
others this question: Which Party would you trust to preserve law
and preserve the authority of the law from the contempt which
eventually incident by incident will attack the foundation of our
society a foundation, steadily built un by the Liberals over the
years, steadily developed in a way that has given not only the
maximum of security internationally, but which has helped us to
develoo a world of our own where traditional values do matter, where
welfare of our own people is of paramount importance and where we
have created an impression overseas that is one of envy for what we
as people have done.
You, the women of the Liberal Party, who have played
such a magnificent part in developing this as a realistic concept
and making life better and better for every succeeding generation of
Australians deserve, I believe, the wholehearted commendation of all
Liberals and certainly deserve the respect of every Australian.
For these reasons, I have much pleasure in being
invited to come here, and I now officially declare this Conference

Transcript 2707