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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 3937


Photo of Whitlam, Gough

Whitlam, Gough

Period of Service: 05/12/1972 to 11/11/1975

More information about Whitlam, Gough on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 26/10/1975

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 3937

Thank you for coming along in your thousands
to support the cause of democracy in Australia. In the last
twenty-five years, three million people whc were born
overseas have decided to live in Australia. Most of themi
have come from countries where democracy has disappeared or
where democracy is weak or where democracy is being
challenged. Most of them cafle to Australia because they had
heard that Australia was a mocracy, a Parliamentary democracy.
They had heard that Australia was a country where everybody
could express his political views and where every three years
people could go along to polling booths and pass the secret
votes for the Party which they themselves supported. And they
had heard that not only in the national Parliament of Australia
but in all the six States in Australia it was possible every
three years to choose a government you wanted.
Three years ago, no-one was more delighted than the
migrants in Australia to find that after a very vigorous
election campaign when all the political parties where able
to put their arguments on the radio or in the TV or at public
meetings, then you could have an election. In December 1972
you were delighted you were enthusiastic that you were able
to see a change of government in Australia. The people voted
against the government that there had been and they voted for
a new government, a Labor Government.
The change from the Liberal Country Party Government*
to the Labor Government was a peaceful change. The people
expressed their wishes and their wishes came about. They were
fulfilled; in Australia migrants saw all their hopes were
fulfilled. Migrants saw that at least in Australia, it was
possible by the democratic means of a vigorous and open
election campaign, by a secret vote on the polling day it was
possible to have a peaceful change of government. Migrants
expected, as all other Australians. expected, that the Government
which was elected in December 1972 would be able to govern
for. three years. / 2

How many migrants were disappointed when the Government
which they helped to elect was forced to go to the people
prematurely in May l. ast year, only 1 years after the Government
was elected for three years? But once again the people of
Australia, including the millions of migrants who have votes,
once again they voted, after a vigorous campaign, in a secret
ballot, to have three more years of the Labor Government.
And now after another 17 months, before the
Government's 2nd term of office is half-way through, the
reactionary, the conservative, the fascist elements in
Australia are once again trying to interrupt democracy in
Australia, to frustrate democracy in Australia...
The Fraser fascists are now saying that because
they can get half the Senators voting against anything that
we put up, because they are therefore able to frustrate any
of our legislation, any of our motions, they are entitled to
govern the country... But-if you count up all the Members of Parliament
in Canberra, all the men and women who belong to the national
Parliament of Australia, there is a big majority of Labor men
and women over all -the others combined. That is, in the
Parliament as a whole and in the House of Representatives in
particular, Labor has a majority. Labor is entitled to govern.
And I will point out to you what the obstruction
has been this last week and the week before. The Budget Bills,
the basic Bills which enable the Australian Government to pay
the Public Servants, to pay the soldiers, to pay for services and
contracts which'people have provided, that's in a couple of
Budget Bills. And when they've gone to the Senate, the Senators
haven't voted against the Bills, they've just carried a motion
to defer the Bills, to postpone them.
And the device they u sed is to move an amendment
to the Bills that they don't be debated until there is an election
for the House of Representatives. And that motion has been

carried three times in the week before last, . three times
last week, because a Labor Senator from Queensland died.
And Mr Bjelke-Petersen appointed an anti-Labor Senator
to take the place of the Labor Senator who died. If the
Labor Senator had still been alive he would have been voting
as he had all the years hie was in Parliament, he would have
been voting with the Labor Party. And in that case, these
six motions to adjourn the Bill would have been defeated
because there would have been as many Senators voting
against the motion as were voting in favour of the motion.
That is, there would have been an equal number of votes
and the motion to adjourn would have been defeated. And
as Senator Steele Hall has said: the motion to adjourn the
debate on the Budget Bills was carried over a dead man's corpse.
Because the Liberals know that if they were'to have a vote
to reject the Budget, then some of their people would vote
to pass it. Because not all Liberals are fascists; there
are some decent Liberals...
The only way that Mr Fraser can keep all his people
in line, is to movre an amendment to defer the vote to put
it off, to postpone it, to stall it, because if he were to have
a vote on passing or rejecting the Budget, t-he Budget would
be passed. And it would be a very good Budget indeed,
because there are three million people who would pay smaller
taxes once the Budget is passed. And there are half a million
people who have to pay income tax now, who will not have to
pay income tax once the Budget is passed. And instead of
having these tax concessions or deductions, which benefit
the rich people much more than they benefit the poor people,
there will be a system of rebates which will be of equal value
to everybody, whatever their incomes. This is a very good
Budget indeed. It is the best Budget this country has put to
the Parliament for years and years.
This Budget will particularly help migrants, it
will help'the family man, the working man, the underpriviledged,
the disadvantaged, the newcomers. It is of particular benefit

for migrants. And the Liberals don't want you to feel and
enjoy the benefits of Bill Hayden's Budget. And they've
got no alternatives themselves. Because when Mr Fraser started
the debate on the Budget on the Opposition side, everybody
saw the disadvantages that would come if they got the chance.
Because there is going to be two lots of income tax, not
only Federal income tax but State income tax on top of that,
if the Liberals become the national Government. And now
they say that their Budget proposals are inoperative. You
remember that infamous word that President Nixon's Press
Secretary came out with, that a particular thing that the
President had said was " inoperative". Well that's what
they say now about their Budget. And they don't vote
against the Budget; they say that if there's going to be
an election for the House of Representatives, they will pass
the Budget... They're blackmailing you, they're depriving you
of the benefits of this Budget.
You ladies and gentlemen who come from overseas
have seen from your own bitter experience, that of your mothers
and fathers, how the reactionary, conservative and fascist elements
in * your countries have stopped at nothing to destroy democracy.
It's warning to see on an occasion like this, that
the people of Melbourne, and particularly the people in
Melbourne who were born overseas, want to see that democracy
is preserved in Australia. Because migrants in particular
realise that in my Government they have the first national
Government which has ever been interested in their welfare.
Because Liberal Government the government of Menzies and
Holt and Gorton and Billy McMahon once the migrants arrived
at the airport or at the port, they lost interest in them.
They were only interested until they landed or alighted in
Australia. After that they were factory fodder. And the
migrants. in Australia have been the principal victims of our
unplanned cities and our impoverished schools and our expensive

You know it' s the Labor Government which has
made sure that wherever people live in Australia, wherever
they were born, whatever their occupation, whatever their
income, they will have equal opportunities in this country.
It is the Labor Government which has seen that You
are entitled to get citizenship rights all after-the same
length of time: no first, second, third grades of citizens;
everybody who comes to Australia is treated the same.
You are all entitled to portability of pensions; if you
become entitled to any social welfare payments in Australia
then you can now enjoy those payments anywhere in the world.
And if you have dependent wives or children or parents
in another country, you can get benefit from your taxation
for them before they get here. You're now having ethnic
radio stations; you can hear on the radio, you can hear
programs of your own choice, in your own language when you
want. You now have legal aid, you have Medibank, and if you
ring up a Federal Government Department you can speak to
people in your own language or you can get your documents
translated. We have looked for people to appoint to government
commissions and boards and departments. Because we have
appointed migrants to Qantas; we've appointed migrants
to the Universities Commission' we'ye appointed migrants
to the Australia Council; we've appointed migrants to the
International Women's Year National Committee; we'vye
appointed migrants to the Australian Broadcasting Commission;
we've appointed migrants as Head of Government Departments.
Certainly we've been criticised for these things. But there
is no doubt, for the first time, under the Labor Government
elected in 1972 and re-elected in 1974 for a three year term,
migrants are being considered for government appointments.
You are now getting all the opportunities which
are available to people who were born here. Don't lose it:
support the Labor Government which brought these benefits. ./ 6

The Government that you elected twice, the
Government which you most recently elected in May last year,
the Parliament which was first able to meet on the 9th
July last year, the Parliament, the Government, which you
elected for three years still has a Labor majority.
And with your support and the support of millions of your
fellow Australians, you will have a three year Government,
a people's Government, with a majority in'the People's House.

Transcript 3937