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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 3949

PRIME MINISTER'S SPEECH AT PUBLIC MEETING, ALICE SPRINGS, 1 NOVEMBER 1975

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: 3949

PRIME MINISTER'S SPEECH AT PUBLIC MEETING, ALICE SPRINGS
1 NOVEMBER 1975
Ladies and Gentlemen: I've had along standing engagement this week
down in Port Augusta, but I thought that in the present circumstances,
the time when the Senate is on strike, when it's holding the whole
of the country to ransom, when there is going to be an election in
the next few months for the Senate, and because despite all Country
Party obstruction the people of the Territory will at last get a vote
for Senators in the National Parliament,. it is the people in the
Northern Territory and in Canberra who will break to strike by the
Senate. And I'll give you some of the consequences of this strike.
Because the two Territories, the Northern Territory and the Capital
Territory, depend more than any other parts of Australia on what is
in the National Budget. And for the first time in the country's
history the Budget is being stalled. It's not been rejected; it's
been stalled. The Senate hasn't gone on record against the Budget;
as a matter of fact, they see nothing wrong with the Budget. They
say if there is an election they'll pass the Budget the Budget must
* be beaut. But they've tried,. But they've gone on strike. They won'tt
vote on the Budget. And they've stalled it on one particular dirty
Country Party trick. Three months ago, a Labor Senator died in
Queensland. And a Country Party Premier appointed an anti-Labor man
to succeed the deceased Labor Senator.
Now don't blame the Liberal Ministers in Queensland because they
voted to do the right thing. Every Liberal Minister in the Queensland
Parliament voted in favour of a Labor replacement for the deceased
Labor $ enator. But it was the Country Party Ministers, the Country
Party Premier, the Country Party and Liberal rank and file who
perpetrated this dirty trick. They chose an anti-Labor Senator to
succeed a Labor Senator and accordingly when a motion was moved in
the Senate to put off voting on the Budget, to defer the Budget, to
stall the Budget, to go on strike, the motion was carried only because
a Labor Senator had died. If the Labor Senator had still been there,
if, a he had throughout his life., voted in favour of Labor principles
then the attempt ' by the Count ry' Party to defeat, to defer, to stall*
the Buidget would have been frustrated. As Senator Steele Hall said,
a former Liberal Premier of South Australia,* the motion to go on
strike in the Senate was carried over a dead man's corpse. ' If a
Country Party Premier had done the right thing and had appointed a
Labor replacement for a deceased Labor Senator, then the plot to go
on strike would not have been carried in the Senate. The Senate
would have had to vote for the Budget. And if there is a vote on
the Budget itself, then it will be passed in the Senate. Because
on T. V. last weekend a Liberal Senator, from Tasmania T. you might
never have heard of him, his name is Bessel) Senator Bessell said
that he would never vote against the Budget and he also said that
there were a number of other Liberal Senators of the'same mind. That
means that the Budget would be passed if it ever came to a vote. But
it's not being passed for the sole reason, that the Senate has gone
on strike.
Now let me show you the results of this strike by the Senate.
Because in the Budget there is a total for the Northern Territory
of '$ 439 million, $ 439 m'illion will come to the Northern
Territory as soon as the Budge---is passed. And this $ 439 million
is being held up, it's being denied to the Northern Territory

because the Liberal and Country Party Senators have gone on strike.
* Now up in the top, in Darwin, there is $ l02* million waiting
to reconstruct Darwin. It's being held up by the Senate strike;
-$ 102. rmillion. And then for housing and construction throughout
the Territory, on top of that, housing and construction which in the
Territory depend principally on Federal Government funds, there is
$ 58 million being held up by the Senate strike. Once the
Senate passes the Budget then this year there will be .$ 58 million
available for housing and construction in the Northern Territory
It's being held up by the Senate strike. And then for schools
and colleges in the Territory, there is a sum of $ 45 mnillion.
being held up by the Senate. The Senate strike is denying the
Territory $ 45 million for education. Then for health services,
hospitals, health centres) there is * the sum of $ 40 ' Million being
held up by the Senate strike. Once the Senate calls off its strike
there will be 40 million dollars available for hospitals and health
services in the Territory. And then for* all the rest of
the-functions which the Department of Northern Australia provides
in the-Territory there is a sum of $ 113 million being held
up by the Senate strike. And then for Aboriginal welfare and
advancement there is a sum of '$ 32 million. being held up by
the Senate strike.
Now Ladies and Gentlemen, the strike may finally be broken by having
elections for Senators in the Northern Territory and the Capital
Territory. And I will give to you the long-protracted fight we've had
to have in the Federal Parliament over the last three years to get
the right. for people in the Territories to elect people to the
Senate and to have votes for the people in the Senate. The Country
Party and the Liberal Parties have put up the longest battle against
this reform that they've put up on any issue whatever.
Now first, you'll remember that back in my 1972 Policy Speech I
promised that if we became the Government there would be Senators
for the two Territori'es with full voting rights. Two Senators for
the Northern Territory. Two Senators for the Australian Capital
Territory. And I'm on the platform here with Labor's candidate
as Senators for the Northern Territory, Ted Robertson and
Kevin Frazer. Now this is one of the good Fra * zer' s. I don't think
the other Fraser has ever been to the Northern Territory. Well
I don't think Billy Snedden -you remember Billy Snedden, he was once
Leader of the Liberals And I don't think he came here. And I don't
remember Billy McMahon coming here. And I don't remember John Gorton
' coming here, or Harold Holt, or Bob Menzies, that is, Liberal
Prime MinistersrLiberal Leaders never came to the Northern Territory.
I don't think Menzies or Holt, or Gorton, or McMahon, or Snedden or
Fraser. I'm sick of the constant change.
. I'm ih the process of doing over the fifth successive
Liberal Leader. And I don't think any of them ever bothered to hold
a meeting in Alice Springs. We did last last election in May,. ' 74,
* but-. they never came here. Because they didn't have elections for
the Senate. They didn't have to worry about you. But we promised
at the last electionsthat we would see that the Northern Territory
got representatives'in the Senate. Because you have to obey laws
which are passed by the Federal Parliament, both the House of
Representatives and the Senate. But according to the Liberals and
the Country Party you weren't entitled to have-anybody in the Senate
which had to make those laws. And because you will now have members in
the Senate you will be able to break the log jam that the Senate
has presented over the last three years. Because in the last three

years, the last three years, the Senate has rejected more Bills
than it had in the previous" 72 years. In all the years between 1901
and 1972 the Senate had rejected, all told, less than 70 Bills.
In the last three years the Senate has rejected over * 90 Bills.
So they've been more obstructive than any Senate in history.
Three years: they've done more to throw out than they had in the
previous 72. But this is what they've done about the Territory.
Is there anybody in this audience who doesn't think the Territory
should have representatives in the Senate? -Will you please raise
your hand if you think that the Northern Territory shouldn't have
a Senator? There's 2 people; there were 3 hands and 2 people. Is
this the best you can do?-Aren't there any people who'll support
the Liberals and the Country Party in denying the Territory
* representation in the Senate? I just want to go back, that is, I
want to tell the House of Representatives next week that in this,
the largest political meeting ever held in the Northern Territory, 4
there were only 2 people that were prepared to say that the Northern
Territory shouldn't have members in the Senate. Because this is the
history, this is the history of ourattempts to get representation in.
the Senate for the Northern Territory-We brought in the Bill on
the 30 May 19731 two and a half years ago in the House of RepresentativeE'
we passed the Bill to give the Northern Territory two Senators. That
is~ two and a half years ago. The Liberals voted against it. Gorton.,
McMahon, Snedden, Fraser, they all voted against you having
representatives in the Senate. The Country Party voted with us in
favour of the Northern Territory having Senators. It's the only time
the Country Party has ever voted for you to have representatives in
the Senate and when it went to the Senate every member of the Liberal
Party, every member of the Country Party and the DLP you
remember the DLPI'? they voted against you having representatives.
So that was the first time.
On the 7 June 1973 the Opposition in the Senate denied you having
representatives in the Senate. Then three months later we brought
the Bill in again and on the. 27 September 1973 it went through t'-he
House of Representatives; for the second time the House of Representatives
said you should have Senators from the Northern Territory.
It went up to the Senate and on the 14 November 1973 all the Liberal
and Country Party Senators, all of them, voted to defeat the Bill.
That meant the next election, the election in May last year for the
House of Representatives and the Senate, you couldn't get Senators
because the Liberal and the Country Party voted against you getting
them. And you remember in May 1974 in this town I repeated that if
we were returned once again we would try to get you Senators for the
Northern Territory. And we won the election. We won the second time.
And then we brought the Bill up again and in the House of
it was passed for the third time. And for the third time the Senate
rejected it; every Liberal, every Country Party Senator, on three
occasions has voted against the Northern Territory having Senators.
So then we had a Joint Sitting and at the joint sitting all the
Liberals and all the Country Party, with one exception your Country
Party member never speaks; silent Sam never has a word to say,
but for once in his life he did the right thing; he voted for you
to have representatives in the Senate. And such influence does he
have on his Country Party colleagues that they all. left him alone
and voted with the Liberals against you having Senators for the
Northern Territory.

if the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory
had had Senators, then the Senate would not have goneon Strike.
Because this is what the strike is costing the Northern Territory:
$ 439 million is being held up for the Northern Territory; $ 439
million is being held up for the Northern Territory by the Senate
strike. And $ 58 million is being held up because the Senators from
the* States have gone on strike and $ 45 million is being held
up because the Liberal and Country Party Senators from the States
have gone on strike. And aboriginal welfare and advancement in.
the Northern Territory is being denied $ 32 million; the Liberal
and Country Party Senators have gone on strike. And hospitals and
health services in the Northern Territory are being denied $ 40 million
because the Liberal and Country Party Senators from the States have
gone on strike. And schools and colleges, Government and Church
schools and colleges, in the Northern Territory are being denied
million because the Liberal and Country Party Senators from
the States have gone on strike. All help and all the affairs
of the Department of Northern Australia are being held up because
$ 113 million for administrative services to pay employees, to pay
contractors, to pay suppliers~ is being held up $ 113 million being
held up for the Department of Northern Australia because the Liberal
and Country Party Senators from the States have gone on strike.
All told therem$ 439 million waiting to come
tothe Northern Territory between now and the end of next June
because the State Senators, the Liberal and Country Party Senators
from the States have gone on strike.
Ladies and Gentlemen) I know perfectly well the attitude of the people
of this Territory. Never again will you allow the Senate to go on
strike. Never again, never again will the Senate be able to hold
the Teriitories up to ransom. Because the Territories more than
any other parts of Australia depend on the National Budget for their
welf are, their prosperity and their progress. If the Liberals
and the Country Party had not prevented the Northern Territory having
Senators since May last year, if you'd had Senators from the Northern
Territorythe Senate wouild not have gone on strike. The Northern
Territory would be getting the $ 439 million to which it is entitled
without interruption.
Ladies and Gentlemen , when the election comes don't forget to make
Ted Robertson and Kevin Frazer the first Senators from the Northern
Territory. Never again allow the Senate to hold up the welfare,
prosperity, and progress of the Northern Territory. Never again
allow State Senators to go on strike.

Transcript 3949