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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2721

MORAL ISSUES IN THE ELECTION - STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE RT HON WILLIAM MCMAHON CH MP

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: 26/11/1972

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 2721

-3 AUSTRALIA
PRIME MINISTER
FOR PRESS PM. No. 106/ 172
MORAL ISSUES IN THE ELECTION
Statement by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon.
Williar. _ IcMFahon, C. H. M. P.
During the election campaign questions have been asked
about the attitude of the principal parties on some of the moral
issues of the day. There are fundamental differences between the
Government and the Labor Party on a number of them.
What stand should a Government take on such issues?
Let me state my belief a belief which is implicit in our policies.
In a free society it is customary to regard the private
morals of an individual as a matter for his own conscience.
However, when such moral actions impinge upon others and are likely
to have adverse social effects, particularly if they are likely to
corrupt the young, then it is the duty of Governments in democratic
countries to intervene to protect the rights of others. With this
principle, I fully agree.
Abortion is a case in point. It is clear, of course,
that under certain conditions there is justification for therapeutic
abortion. The law should and does provide for this.
But my Government does not believe in abortion on demand.
I confirm the statements I have made before that we will not amend
the law relating to abortion.
My Government would apply the same principles to drugs,
whether " soft" or hard drugs. While we recognise that drug addicts
need and should get first-class medical attention, we would not, as
some Labor Party members urge, remove the penalties for drug-taking,
including marihuana. Medical science cannot exonerate marihuana from serious
physiological and psychological effects, including possible genetic
damage. In such circumstances, to give de facto legality to it by
removing penalties would be reckless irresponsibility.
Similarly, a Government has a responsibility to the
community on censorship, particularly in the protection of the
young. A Government should not be heavy handed or paternalistic.
It should try to reflect the ethical standards and voluntary
restraints of the community. This, we try to do. / 2

.4 -2
We reject the argument by some Labor members that
all censorship should be removed, except on cinema advertising.
In our view, the Australian people expect us to act on hard-core
pornography and we will continue to do so.
Mr. Whitlam. has stated his views on abortion and his
intentions towards influencing his Party's policy on this matter.
On 24 June 1971 he said: " I believe that if a woman
does not want to bear a child, she should not have to. I believe
in abortion upon request."
Commnenting on the 1971 Federal Conference of the ALP,
the official organ of the Queensland Branch of the ALP, " Trend",
reports in its issue of July 1971: " Gough Whitlan made it quite
clear that he favoured abortion on request, would campaign for it
and support any bill aimed at aclhieving this object."
We reject such an attitude. Clearly this is an issue
at this election because it involves Commonwealth criminal laws
which will be under review in the ni.; w Parliament. What the
Commonwealth does in the A. C. T. could set an Australian standard.
My Government does not intend to alter the existing
abortion laws which provide for therapeutic emergencies but also
protect against the unnecessary destruction of life.
CANBE RRA
26 November 1972

Transcript 2721