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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 3948


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: 01/11/1975

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 3948

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, thank you
very much indeed for the organisation you've put into the
events of today. It was a great meeting in the park this
morning and this is a magnificent gathering for lunch now.
And I'm most heartened at the reception you gave the newest
minister, the youngest minister, in the Australian Government.
Only 31 years old, he's been in the Parliament less than
six years; I can assure you there is very great com~ petition
to get into the ministry. But you've been able to hear and
see the quality of the man, who less than six years in the
Parliament, barely 31 years of age, is able to win a ballot,
a secret ballot, among very tough competition. And I can
assure you, in giving you, as your new Minister for Northern
Australia, a man of this capacity, this drive, this capacity
to comprehend and convey the big things, the big opportunities,
to approach, and we trust, solve the big problems of this
immense area of our continent, we've made a very good decision
indeed. And I thank you for the reception you gave him;
he deserves it; he'll need a lot of support, and I know the
Labor people of this Territory, and indeed all, the people
who are here in this Territory to develop it, to produce
a good community in this Territory, will give him their support.
Now ladie~ s and gentlemen I spoke earlier in the
park'and so I needn't go over all the things I said then.
There is one particular thing that is rousing people from one
end of Australia to another. And this is the fact that for
the first time in the seventy-five years that we've had a
nation, and a national Parliament, the Senate has taken it on
itself, to block the Budget. It's true that in April last year
they moved a motion to defer the Supply Bills and in those
circumstances, I advised the Governor-General to dissolve both
Houses, to have a double dissolution of the Parliament.
There were a great number of things which needed to be solved,
and one of the thin~ gs which needed to be solved were some of
the-Electoral -Bills, including the bills which were to give you
representation in the Senate this you remember was in the
policy speech in 1972, it was in the policy speech in 1969 as
well. And in Opposition we had brought in bills to give
the representation and vote to people in the Senate from the
Territories. This has been a very long-standing platform of
the Labor Party and I've put it on the Labor Party's behalf
at many elections, and our opponents never objected, never.
Sure, they stalled it when we brought the bills in in Opposition;
but never during a campaign did they ever say, least of all
of course, in the Northern Territory where there was a member
for the House of Representatives, that they objected to you
having members in the Senate. They never said it.
Well, there were six bills in April last year which they had
twice rejected in the Senate, and this was one of them
Medibank was another, other electoral ones were also involved.
So we thought, right, we'll settle it, we'll have, dissolve
both Houses, we'll start off with a clean Parliament. And
at that timie, -they said, we said, that we were seeking to have
the opportunity of governing Australia for three years. They
lost; they made a grievous mistake; we won; we got a comfortable
majority in the House of Representatives; we got as many

Senators as they got in the whole Parliament we obviously
had the majority. That is, the majority of the members of
Parliament; but of course, in the community as a whole, we
had a very large majority of the votes. In the House of
Representatives I think we got half a million more votes than
all our competitors in the Parliament combined, that is~ the
representatives of the Parties in the Parliament. And in the
House of Representatives we got 165,000 more votes for the
Labor candidates, in the Senate, than were cast for the
candidates of all the other Parties that are represented in
the Senate So by every basis, every test every criteria,
we -ought to have been able to govern uninterrupted for
three years.. But our opponents who courted that election, who
lost that election, haven't seen fit to abide by the verdict.
of the people. And they're up to the same game again.
Once again they've passed the motion to put off a vote on
R~ loney Bills, on the Budget itself. And three times now
they have carried a motion to defer debate on three of the
Budget Eills the Loan Bills and the two Appropriation Billsthree
times they've done this for each of the three bills.
And this time I'm not going to buckle under because if I did,
not only would I, not only would this Government, but any
future Prime Minister, any Government that the people elect,
would have the same threat hanging over them. And the
threat would be made twice a year, because every October
you have to pass the Budget. Bills to pay for the business
of Government for the whole of the financial year from
the first of July previous, to the thirtieth of June following.
And every April you pass the Supply Bills to make provisional
appropriation for the next financial year, from the first
of July to the thirtieth of November, until the Budget in
turn is passed for the whole of that financial year. Twice
a year money Bills come up and if the Senate rejects those
bills and is thereby able to produce an election for the
House of Representatives.. no Government can carry out any
programs it would have to govern for a faw months ahead
alone. And the wicked part of it is that the Senate could,
usually, avoid going to the people itself. Because most of
the people in the Senate are safe as long as their IpArties
endorse them they're safe from the wrath of the electoratebecause
the number 1 and 2 on the Liberal and Country Party
tickets, the number 1 and 2 on the Labor Party ticket
in each of the six States is certain to get back it's only
the fifth person that there's any battle over whether it's
to be Labor or whether it's to be Liberal and Country Party.
There's onlyone-fifth of the Senators who are in any jeopardy
when there's an election for the Senate. But on most of these
occasions there wouldn't be an election for the Senate at all.
You can only have an election for the Senate in two circumstances:
one is when half the Senate is about to come to an end at the
end of the following June you can have an election for that
half of the Senate at any time during the previous twelve monthsthat
is, half the Senators well there've been a couple who've
left the Senate and so 28 of the Senators who are there now,
will be replaced or confirmed some time in this financial year,
and they'll take their places or people will take their~ places
on the. 1July next.

But at the present moment there are very
special circumstances. When there is an election for the
Senate or for the House of Representatives then for the
first time there will also be two Senators elected from
each of the mainland Territories and there will also be
a choice by the people to, for enators to replace the two
former Labor Senators whom the New South Wales and
Queensland Premiers had replaced with anti-Labor or
non-Labor people that is the successors for Murphy and
Milliner would take office f rom the day the result of the
election for the Senate was declared. So as soon as there's
half a Senate election, which can take place any time
in this financial year.. and the election is usually held
in November or December,. then on this occasion the new
Senators will take office, not from the 1 July only, but
there will be six who will take office from the time the
election result is declared. So that's one circumstance
in which you can have an election for the Senate.
And the other circumstance in which you can have
an election for the Senate is where there is a Bill, or more
than one Bill which has been twice rejected by the Senate.
Now that is the situation now as it was the situation, of course,
in the first half of last year when we had the double dissolution.
But if there is not half a Senate coming up, or if there has
not been a double rejection of any Bill by the Senate, then
there can't be an election for the Senate. And in those
circumstances-and these were the circumstances for the first
seven monqths that we were in Government, and they again were
the circumstances for the first seven months after we were
re-elected in May last year,.. then they can cut off the Budget,
they can cut off Supply and, they believe, can then bring
about an election for the House of Representatives without
having to face the people themselves. Now this is an end
to stable government in this country.
I've been astonished and gratified by the number of
migrantswno come to our meetings. And one of the r'easons, IVmconvinced,
why they come to our meetings on this issue, is
that they have so often come from countries where democracy
ha3 been destroyed or where.' it is very fragile or where it
is under challenge. And they thought that Australia, an
independent pioneering country,. but nevertheless a country
which was the heir to British parliamentary traditions, at
least was a country where people could change the Government
at the ballot box, where there could be a peaceful transfer
of power if the people saw fit, from a Government to an
Opposition. And then if the opposition became the Government
it had a fair go, it had three years in which to justify
itself. And then if it couldn't, it would then go back
into Opposition and the previous Government would come back.
At least they thought that in our democracy it was possible to
change governments peacefully and by your private decision
at the ballot box and then the government you chose could
govern.-I am determined to see that governments which are
elected by the Australian people are allowed to govern. I will not

have an election for the House of Representatives or the
Senate or both until the Budget is passed. And that's
to be quite clear.
I've never had any doubt as to the result of
an election between the Liberal-Country Parties on one
hand and Labor on the other. When it camne to an election,
when people had a choice, where they saw the alternatives,
where they saw us for better or for worse, and where
they had to size up our opponents for better or for-worse,
they once again would choose us. I believe the remarkable
thing of the last three weeks has been the perception by the
public of the type of man Mr Fraser is. They've seen him
to be impatient and greedy, because he's not the sort of
person that knows what the Australian people want in the
cities or the outback Sure, he represents what's
called a country electorate. But if you go to that country
electorate which he represents ) you will see that it is
a long-settled, very serene sort of place. -That is, it's
not bursting with vitality' it is not a pioneering outback
electorate; it hasn't got the new resources which
Australians want to develop for themselves; it's an
old-fashioned electorate.-good people undoubtedly, but
not the sort of people that have to face the problems which
now have to be faced in the cities and in the outback.
He's not in touch with the Australian people and the people
to whom he turns for advice are newspaper proprietors
including the exp;. triate -proprietor who owns your papers
in the'Territory I don't know how Rupert Murdoch II
remains on the electoral rolls or remainis as the owner of
television or radio stations because you're supposed to be
Australian residents if your to be on the rolls or if your ' re
to own the electronic media and he's not an Australian
resident. Nevertheless. the other-people that back him are the
Country Party, and the Country Party are the most selfish
people in Australia no question about it. And it was the
Country Party, as well as the Liberals, who didn't want you
to have votes in the Northern Territory. They thought you
would upset their apple-cart and if you go for your
advice, if you seek the views'of newspaper proprietors and
Country Party leaders you'll go wrong, and that's what Mr
Snedden did, and he went wrong, and he went bad, and this is
what Mr Fraser has done as well. I've always thought he'd
betray himself this way he's done the wrong thing, and he's
been found out and the people have noticed it. Now I've
always been certain that if we have an election campaign and
they have to give up just relying on our sins and try to
project some virtues of their own, they'd flop, and they willwhenever
I call the election. But the big thing is that I've
got to ensure that whatever the Government is . the people choose,
is able to govern. -It was a great shock to the conservative
system when we were elected in December 1972. Th * ey felt
that we were usurpers we were trespassers, and they are
doing their very best to see that the people' s will, twice
expressed ) is frustrated. They've wanted to keep us off balance,
or to get us off balance they're not going to. Because
we are fighting for a proper principle that if the People

choose a Government,. that Government must be given a
fair go. What's the alternative. Th extraordinary
thing I hear them expressing now is that if a Government
can't get things through the Senate then the Senate ought
to choose a Government. But they haven't got a majority
in the Senate either they have 30 meinbers,* half the
Senate and if you're to get something through the Senate,
you've got to get a majority. If a vote is even in the
Senate, then the motion or the Bill is not passed.
Now they'Ive not had a vote on the Budget and it's plain
from what Liberal senators have said on TV that if there
was a vote on the Budget the vote would go in the affirmativethat
is~ the Senate would pass the Budget. But the device
they've used, three times, on each of three Bills, is to
put up a motion that the debate should be deferred. That is,
as I put it at the meeting this morning, they've gone on
strike they won't do the job. And of course, even then
they wouldn't have carried it if Bjelke-Petersen hadn't
put in an anti-Labor person to succeed t1illiner.
If Milliner had been there, then the vote would have been
even and the vote to adjourn or to defer would have been
defeated. Now that is the technicality, the illegitimate
technicality) upon which they have gone on strike.
Now I put to you this morning a couple of things
which I believe are very great arguments to u ' se
in the' Territory. One is the way they've cut things off
for the Territory. Because here, and in Canberra, you
depend on the Federal Budget alone. There is no part of
Australia, with the possible exception of Canberra, where
so many people depend on national Government payments
they'e on he' payroll or they're doing contracts ' or the
Government. If federal money wasn't spent in the Northern
Territory most people in the Territory wouldn't have a job,
or they wouldn't be able to get contracts, or
make supplies. This Territory depends on the federal
Government more than any other part of Australia. It depends
on the federal Budget more than any State depends on the
federal Budget, and the State Government Budgets and the
Local Government Budgets combined. Private enterprise is
certainly valuable in the Territory as it is everywhere in
a mixed economy like Australia but private enterprise,
for historical and understandable reasons, bulks smaller
in the Northern Territory than anywhere else in Australia.
For better or for worse you depend on the Government in the
Northern Territory more than any other part of Australia
depends on Governments. You don't have State Governments
you depend, you only have a couple of local councils
you depend more on the national Government than any other
Australians depend on all Government activities
employment, orders, contracts,. combined. And this is what
they've done to you in the Budget. In the Budget, which
they've stalled, there's $ 439 million for the Northern
Territory there's $ 58 m for housing and construction;
there's $ 45 m for education; there's $ 113 mn to run the
Department of Northern Australia; there is $ 40 m for
health services and there is $ 32 m for Aboriginal welfare and

advancement. And in total $ 439 m held up. Now I believe
the people in this Territory will be outraged when they
see what is happening at the hands of the Liberal and
Country Party. And then I come to the other argument which I
believe is.. overwhelming, overpowering in this Territory.
The next _ election there is in this Territoryl or anywhere
in Australia, the next time there's an election for the
House of Representatives in Australia, the next time there
is an election for the Senate in any State in Australia, there
will also be an election for two Senators from the Northern
Territory and I believe in these circumstances you ought to
be able to get two-thirds of the votes, you ought to be
able to get in both Ted Robertson and Kevin Frazer
Frazer spelt with a I noticed from most of the signs
around Australia, the other Fraser is spelt with a
swastika! And you know they've got the gall now to
contest the Senate situation in the Northern Territory.
They've tried their level best, by every medns, to prevent
the Northern Territory and Canberra having the right to
elect Senators,. it's astonishing in this day and age
that a Parliament which makes laws for any community shou" Ld
not give, that community the right to choose members in the
law-making body. I mean this wouldn't occur, we would think,
anywhere else in the world, but you have to obey the laws
passed by the federal Parliament and the laws can only be
made if they-go through the House of Representatives and
the Senate as well. And they've said every Liberal
and every Country Party man,.-except one, on one occasion
has said that you shouldn't have senators in from the Northern
Territory, you shouldn't have a voice, still less a vote,
on anything in the Senate, even if it concerns the Northern
Territory alone, as some legislation does. You can not choose
your law-makers that's their proposition. And three
times we had to put this bill up in the Senate: on the
first time it came before the House of Representatives the
Liberals voted against it, -they've been consistent;
the Country Party on the first time voted in favour of it.
When it went to the Senate, they all there voted against it.
And it was defeated. So with an interval of three months,
which is required, we brought it up again; it passed through
the House of Representatives; in the Senate once again,
every Liberal and Country Party member voted against it.
And then that was all we could do in that Parliament, but it
was one of the bills for the double dissolution. After the
double dissolution we again put it up in the Senate it
was passed by the Reps" we put it up in the Senate, and
again, every Country Party and Liberal senator voted against
it, although it had been, once again, onre of thepp ledges--
the Government made. The first time they'd been a double
dissolution and the Senate had not passed the bill had
produced the double dissolution. So for the first time in
history we have to have a Joint Sitting and we had the
numbers in the Joint Sitting and every Country Party and
Liberal member voted against the Territory getting
representation in the Senate except Sam Calder; he cuts no
ice among his own crowd, because they all voted against hiim

Hie did vote for it himself, but he was terribly embarrassed
because for the first time he made a scene in the Househe
wanted to be thrown out so he wouldn't have to votebut
we weren't going to accommodate him that way; he
had to stay. So he voted for it; the best vote he's
ever cast in his years in the Parliament. And a]. l his
mates deserted him.
Th ese Country Party candidates-don't forget that every
Country Party man in the Senate, there' s no women in the.
Country Party, has voted against having representation
in the ( interjector whistles) they wouldn't be worth
whistling for if they were! Everybody, John Gorton,
Billy McMahon, Billy Snedden, Malcolm Fraser you seem
to have forgotten the others they were no betterand
Anthony and Sinclair and Nixon, and all of themthey
all voted against it. So when in the Senate
campaign any Lib EaJ. or Country Party person comes up here
* say Why did you vote against us having a vote for the
Senate?. Why because they all did. But then of course,
when it was finally through, that wasn't enough, a
* Country Party Premier, Bjelke-Petersen, he then asked
the High Court to say that it was unconstitutional, that
is*, something that the people had endorsed, one would
have thought at the ' 72 elections and again at the ' 74 elections,
something that had been passed by the House of Representatives
three times, and at a Joint Sitting, this was then said to be
unconstitutional. And he was supported by the Liberal Premier
of Western Australia. Well the High Court determined,
three weeks ago yesterday, that it was constitutional.
I notice somebody in the audience this morning blamed Murphy
for this-I meanMurphy did the
sensible, decent thing. I mean ~ some people seem to think
that there's something wrong in having a Labor Attorney-General
on the High Court, but it's O. K. to have a Liberal one.
And there's no need for me to tell you how Barwick voted on
this, and how he voted, and how Murphy voted on this.
on the Court. And Senator Greenwood made a great to-do
about this three weeks ago: how montrous that Murphy should
have given judgment on a piece of legislation on whose
constitutionality he had advised. Now the fact is that back
in 1961, when Barwick was Attorney-General, he advised the
Government that there shouldn't be a vote for people in the
House of Representatives from the Territories except on
matters which concerned the Territories alone. So one would
have thought that Barwick's views on representation and
voting for the Territories in the House of Representatives and
the Senate were well known, just as well known as Murphy's,
and they've been consistent, both of them; they've been
consistent. I don~' t blame Barwick for being consistent, but
I think it's a bit of a cheek to blame Murphy for being
consistent. On this matter they were ' paired'. But
not only this Bjelke-Petersen heaped insult on injury by
saying that the member of the House of Representatives from the
Northern Territory shouldn't be able to vote either
now we know he never speaks, but Bjelke-Petersen said he
shouldn' t vote either that you not only shouldn' t have people
in the Senate, with * seats or votes, the chap you had in the
House of Representatives could have a seat, couldn't speak
that makes no difference but couldn't vote either.

So I think it's pretty clear, up in this
Territory, you know what the striking Senators from. the
States, the Liberal and Country Party Senators from
the States, who've gone on strike, what they think of the
Territories. Canberra and the Northern Territory ought
to be outraged on this because they suffer more than any
other part of Australia. It's the Liberal and Country
Parties who are provoking unemployment in this country.
Just when we seem to be turhing the corner, in these
respects, . inflation and unemployment,.-they are now
wanting to exacerbate the position, to bring about a
deterioration. They're the wreckers. This Budget of
Bill Hayden's is the best the country has had for yearseverybody
in the Territory will benefit from it.
And they don't want to give it a chance to work. They
say that in certain circumstances they'd pass the Budget
Mr Fraser made a speech on the Budget himself made
quite a number of criticisms in fact and then they
were shown to be very shallow or in fact falacious.
And he now says that his Budget is ' inoperative' the
old Nixon word you remember Nixon's Press'Secretary,'
Zi * eglerj said that one of the answers, not altogether
accurate answers, that the President gave was ' inoperative'.
Well Mr Fraser's speech on the Budget, in his own words,
is now ' inoperative'. He doesn't want ours to operate either.
lie's got no alternative; purely negative.
Ladies and gentlemn, . I'm certain that when,
sometime before the end of next June, there is for the
first time an opportunity for the -people of this. Territory
to choose representatives in the Senate ~ that they will choose
people who will not brook any further damage to this Territory;
who will insist in the Territory having its, full rights
in the national Parliament, and they will turn to the Party
which has fought ok those things, through all the
obstruction, through all the opposition by States and Courts
and Senate that they will see that the Senate is only
properly represented from this Territory by two Labor
candidates Robertson and Frazer with a

Transcript 3948