PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2726


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: 27/11/1972

Release Type: Broadcast

Transcript ID: 2726

Television Broadcast by the Prime Minister, the Rt.
Hon. William McMahon, CH, MP.
There is no issue which divides the Liberal and Labor
Parties more than the issue of respect for the law.
Our approach is quite clear. We believe that the laws
of Australia as made by Parliament and upheld by the Courts must
be respected and observed by everone. That is basic to the
survival of our democratic society.
I am sure the overwhelming majority of you support this
view. You know as we know, that to reject the authority of the
law is to advocate force as a substitute for lawful authority.
We will never accept this.
Labor leaders on the other hand hold opposite views. Many
of them, including Mr Whitlam, have encouraged breaches of the law.
In Victoria, they have endorsed a self-confessed law-breaker,
Barrie Johnston, as a candidate for the elections. Mr Whitlam
sought to justify his support of Johnston by claiming that
draft-dodging is not a crime: An amazing proposition for one who
seeks to be Prime Minister.
By holding this view, Mr Whitlam is advocating that every
citizen has a right to put his own value on the law; to obey
those laws which suit him and to disobey those which do not; this
is a condition of anarchy.
The Liberal Party's attitude is clear. We will always
defend the right of lawful protest and dissent. It is an essential
element in the democratic process, and it must never be modified.
But we believe there is only one way to change the law. That is
by the will of '. he majority expressed through Parliament.
Labor leaders are quick to react when violence and lawbreaking
touch them. For years the Liberal Party has warned of the
dangerous influence of communists in certain trade unions. We
have condemned their militant tactics and their abuse of union power.
But the response of the Labor Party has been a conspiracy of silence. / 2

Labor has accused us of kicking the communist can. It
took a physical assault on the respected union leader, John Ducker,
the President of the New South Wales Branch of the Labor Party,
for Labor leaders to admit that union violence might be a problem.
Yet Mr Whitlam uttered not a word of protest when some
building workers hammered down work done by apprentices at a High
School in his own electorate.
So strong is the power of the left wing militants in the
Labor Party that it can silence the Leader of the Opposition,
even when the rights of his own constituents are abused. What
kind of double standard is this?
There is no double standard in our attitude to these issues.
We believe that the law should apply with equal force to everyone,
unlike certain members of the Labor Party.
We utterly reject the proposition that some people,
particularly union militants, should be placed above the law.
That is a dangerous concept and an incitement to anarchy.
We shall always believe in the right of lawful protest and
dissent. But my Government and my Party say that Parliamentary
authority and respect for the law are the basis of our society.
We stand fast by this concept and believe the great
majority of you stand with us.
27 NOVEMBER, 1972

Transcript 2726