PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 4132

NATIONAL PRESS CLUB OPENING - 27 MAY 1976

Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 27/05/1976

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 4132

NATIONAL PRESS CLUB OPENING 27 MAY 1976
IT GIVES ME PARTICULAR PLEASURE TO BE STANDING
HERE THIS EVENING AND TO GAZE OVER A SEA
OF FRIENDLY FACES.
ON OCCASIONS LIKE THIS,: IT IS COMFORTING FOR
THE SPEAKER TO KNOW THAT HE IS AMONGST FRIENDS,
I HAVE ALWAYS ENJOYED VERY GOOD RELATIONS WITH THE
PRESS... SOMETIMES THEIR RELATIONS WITH ME'HAVE
BEEN A BIT STRAINED, IT HAS NEVER BEEN MY FAULT.
THI-S OCCASION,-IS OF COURSE, OF SPECIAL IMPORTANCE
TO THE PRESS IN CANBERRA. IT IS ALSO SIGNIFICANT
TO ME AS THE LIBERAL PRIME MINISTER.
YOU'VE HEARD FROM THE PRESIDENT THAT THE LAST
LIBERAL PRIME MINISTER, BILLY MCMAHON, 1URNED THE
FIRST SOD IN THIS SITE IN 1972,
HOWEVER, HE DIDN'T REFER TO THE CAPTION UNDER THE
PHOTO IN THE BAR OF MR MCMAHON PERFORMING THAT
TASK, IT READS: " BILLY MCMAHON TURNS SOD."

I AM INDEBTED TO THE MANAGEMENT OF THE NATIONAL
PRESS CLUB FOR SCHEDULING THE BUILDING AND
CONSTRUCTION WORK SO. THAT : A LIBERAL PRIME
MINISTER IS STILL ABLE. TO COMPLETE . THE COMMEMORATION.
THE PLAQUES WILL READ THE FIRST..' SOD WAS
TURNED BY: BILLY MCMAHON ETC, ETC," AND
" THIS BUILDING WAS OFFICIALLY OPENED BY MALCOLM FRASER."
So TO THE CASUAL OBSERVER, IT S AS THOUGH THE THREE
LABOR YEARS NEVER HAPPENED.
INCIDENTALLY, LOOKING ROUND THIS BUILDING AND
ITS FURNISHINGS, I CANNOT HELP BUT MARVEL AT THE
TRUE PATRIOTISM OF THE NATIONAL PRESS CORPS,
IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF WEEKS AGO THAT THE NEWSPAPER
HEADLINES ERRONEOUSLY SPLASHED OUT WITH
I.
" FRASER SAYSBUY BUY'BUYAND OLFRASER SAYS
GO OUT AND SPEND. .1
I

MR _ PRESIDENT, ' YOU SEEM;. TO HAVE DONE THAT WITH
A VENGANCE HERE. UNTIL NOW, T HADN T REALISED
THAT-. THE PRESS BELIEVED EVERYTHING I SAY.
SOME JOURNALI STS AMONG-YOU MAY FIND IT IRONIC
THAT.: MALCOLM FRASER OF ALL PEOPLE -' IS
STANDING . UF HERE READY TO OPEN THE NATIONAL
PRESS CLUB. C'
IVE BEEN CALLED MANY THINGS AND DESCRIBED
IN MANY ' WAYS BY JOURNALISTS. AND I MUST
ADMI. T THAT : IM NOT OPENLY REFERRED TO BY MY
CCOLLEAGUES AS THE_ JOURNOS FRIEND.
BUT-PERHAPS FOR MALCOLM FRASER THE TIMES ARE
CHANGING.. WITNESS A BRIEF EXTRACT FROM LAST
WEDNESDAY'S SUNDAY PRESS NEWSPAPER IN MELBOURNE
SWRITTEN BY A MELBOURNE AGE JOURNALISTS a 9* L
rr' 1117 1 I

2
:' t
I
i. E
i
. Z ;' il
i i.. I
r
' i i il L I
S.. THIS MAN, THE PRIME MINISTER, HAS
DONE MORE. FOR THE ORDINARY AUSTRALIAN
WOMAN-THE AVERAGE STAY-AT-HOME CHILD
:: BEARING HOUSEWIFE THAN ANY OTHER PERSON
IN THE COUNTRY'S HISTORY.
MORE THAN ALL THE GERMAINE GREERS, THE
PROTESTERS, THE BRA-BURNING, THE WRITING
Sø AND BALLYHOO PUT TOGETHER.
SIMPLY, HE GAVE HER-WHAT NO ONE ELSE HAS
BEEN ABLE OR WILLING TO...
, HE GAVE HER A BILLION DOLLA
$ 1125*. TO BE PRECISE. WHAT'
.' IT FROM HER HUSBAND."
I'M SURE YOU WILL ALL-AGREE . THA RS. OR
S MORE: HE TOOK
T THE TONE
WAS DISTINCTLY FAVOURABLE.
PLAINLY, THIS IS THE START OF A NEW ERA FOR ME
THE CHAMPION OF WOMEN JOURNALISTS, AT LEAST,

r I
s I1I IC 7 0.1/ 6
PERHAPS,. THAT ARTICLE HAS NOT CONVINCED YOU
OF HOW. THE PRESS REALLY SEE. MALCOLM FRASER:
PERHPAS. MY REPUTATION WITH . THE PRESS IS.
WELL FOUNDED.
BIIT I. CAN CLAIM A GOOD EXCUSE ITS HERIDITARY.
THE PATRIARCH OF THE FRASER
FAMILY,-. SIMON FRASER,-OCCASIONALLY CROSSED
SWORDS WITH THE AUSTRALIAN PRESS.
IN1889, THE WEEKLY MAGAZINE " TABLE TALK" SAID
THIS OF SIMON FRASER, THE POLITICIAN:
" HE CONTROLS THE POLICY OF THE EVENING STANDARD,
OF WHICH HE IS A LARGE SHAREHOLDER, AND IS A
FRIEND OF-THE PROPRIETOR OF THE AGE.
AT. THAT TIME SIMON FRASER SHARED A VIGOROUS
BELIEF IN FREE TRADE WITH THE AGE! S PROPRIETOR
DAVID SYME; HOWEVER AS OFTEN HAPPENS WITH
NEWSPAPER PROPRIETORS AND POLITICIANS THEY
FELL OUT, WHEN SYME BECAME AN ARDENT PROTECTIONIST.

I 6
SYME BANNED FRASER FROM THE EDITORIAL
COLUMNS OF THE PAPER.' BUT SIMON FRASER WAS NOT
EASILY DETERRED. -HE IMMEDIATELY RETORTED BY
PUBLISHING HIS OWN SPEECHES AS PAID ADVERTISEMENTS.
S. I: GUESS : TIMES HAVEN'T CHANGED THAT MUCH.
THE PROPRIETOR OF THE AGE: AND THE CURRENT
RASER. ARE'STILL CONCERNING THEMSELVES ABOUT
PAID ADVERTISEMENTS THAT RECENTLY APPEARED IN
THAT'NEWSPAPER. OF COURSE THE WARMTH OF THE BOND BETWEEN
JOURNALISTS UPSTAIRS IN THE GALLERY AND US
POLITICIANS DOWN IN THE GOLD FISH BOWL OF THE
CHAMBER VARIES.
SOMETIMES IT IS MORE CHEERY THAN AT OTHER TIMES.
SSOMETIMES IT IS FIERY 4
1dOWEVER I LIKE TO THINK. THAT OVER THE YEARS WE
ARE COMING TO KNOW EACH OTHER, ALTHOUGH FROM TIME
TO TIME I FIND MY BREATH CAN STILL BE TAKEN AWAY.

I WOULD LIKE TO RECALL A TIME DURING THE
POLITICAL CRISIS LAST YEAR, WHEN THE PRESS WAS
SPECULATING. INTENSIVELY. ABOUT WHETHER THE:
BUDGET WOULD BE PASSED BY. THE SENATE.
SEVERAL: MEMBERS OF THE GALLERY BECAME SO
IMPATIENT. THEY DECIDED BOTH TO ANTICIPATE
THE. EVENT ANDTO ENCOURAGE'A COURSE OF ACTION.
LET ME SUM IT UP FOR YOU, IN JUST ABOUT THE
EXACT WORDS THAT WERE USED:
" I THINK MALCOLM WILL REJECT THE BUDGET,
HE'S MAD IF HE DOESN'T," THEY TOLD MY STAFF.
" MIND YOU, WHEN IT HAPPENS, WE WILL KICK THE T
OUT OF HIM IN PRINT,"
WELL. THE SENATE DID REJECT. THE BUDGET, AND I W
LIKE TO COMMEND YOUR ABILITIES AS FORECASTERS
YOU DID KICK THE TRIPES OUT-OF US IN PRINT.
I THINK EVENTS LIKE THESE HELP PEOPLE TO UNDER
EACH OTHER BETTER. RIPE OUL STAI i.,
ES ND
/ 8

: I c
Z c~'
; I r-
: 11 I
i 1
i::
t.
.1' TO SUPPLY THE PUBLIC WITH INFORMATION.
HOWEVER, IN THE MINDS OF MANY, CONFIDENTIALITY
SWHEN.. IT APPLIES TO GOVERNMENT HAS COME TO
HAVE. A BAD OR EVIL. CONNOTATION.. THAT-IS A
MISCONCEPTION. 8.
ON A MORE SERIOUS NOTE, HOWEVER, AND SO
I MAINTAIN MY REPUTATION WITH THE PRESS
CAN I. BRIEFLY TALK . TO YOU ABOUT GOVERNMENTS
KEEPING SECRETS.
FIRST AND I . WANT TO MAKE THIS POINT CLEAR
' I STRONGLY. BELIEVE THAT: AS MUCH INFORMATION AS
POSSIBLE: SHOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC.
MINISTERS SHOULD BE APPROACHABLE, AVAILABLE AND
' ACCESSIBLE.
THEY HAVE BEEN REQUESTED TO MAKE THEMSELVES
AVAILABLE WHEREVER POSSIBLE TO THE MEDIA, AND ENSURE
THAT THEIR DEPARTMENTS MAKE THE GREATEST EFFORTS i

7: 1
9.4
i I
" i
I'
U" WITHOUT CONFIDENTIALITY IN THESE AREAS, MUCH OF
THE FABRIC OF OUR SOCIETY WOULD DISSOLVE,
OF3COURSE,-THERE ARE MANY PROTECTIONS AGAINST
EXCESSIVE. CONFIDENTIALITY.
THE NATURE OF OUR PARLIAMENTARY. SYSTEM PROVIDES
FOR THIS, . ESPECIALLY IF THERE IS AN EFFECTIVE OPPOSITION.
o. t
ALSO A VIGILANT AND RESPONSBILE PRESS CAN PROTECT
AGAINST EXCESSIVE CONFIDENTIALITY. WE'VE SEEN THAT
AMPLY DEMONSTRATED IN THE WESTERN WORLDAT.
THE RISK OF OVERSTATING THE ARGUMENT, CAN I
MAKE A COUPLE OF POINTS.
CONFIDENTIALITYIN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER, IS PART
OF * OUR LIVES PRIVATE-. LIVES, BUSINESS LIVES
. OR FOR THOSE IN PUBLIC AFFAIRS, PUBLIC LIVES.
, kNA RELATTONSHIP BETWEEN DOCTOR AND PATIENT,
. LAWYER AND CLIENT, -PRtIEST--PARTnrTiO'NERT, HERE
ARE MATTERS OF CONFIDENTIALITY OFTEN PROTECTED
BY LAW,.
' I

OVERTHE PAST FEW YEARS.
SOMETIMES THERE ARE SUGGESTIONS THAT THE GOVERNMENT
WANTS CONFIDENTIALITY FOR ITS OWN SAKE.
I WOULD.. PREFER TO ARGUE THAT THE GOVERNMENT
SOMETIMES SEES THE NEED FOR CONFIDENTIALITY
AND WHEN . IT DOES IT'MUST DEFEND IT AND TAKE
WHATEVER CRITICISM COMES.
IN RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN GOVERNMENTS,
CONFIDENTIALITY IS OFTEN QUITE ESSENTIAL IN THE
INTEREST OF-FRANK AND TRUTHFUL COMMUNICATION.
IN OUR FEDERAL SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT, RELATIONSHIPS
BETWEEN THE STATES REQUIRE A DEGREE OF CONFIDENCE
THAT WOULD NOT APPLY IF EVERY LETTER BETWEEN A
PREMIER AND PRIME MINISTERV-WERETO BECOME PUBLIC
IN THE PROCESS OF JOINT DECISION MAKING.
HAVING SAID ALL THAT, CAN RE-ITERATE MY FIRST
STATEMENT ON THIS SUBJECT. / 11
nl I I lr II I I I

11.
I WANT AN UNHINDERED FLOW OF INFORMATION TO
THE MEDIA, .1 WANT MINISTERS TO BE AVAILABLE
TO COMMENT . I WANT FACTUAL INFORMATION PROVIDED.
. How CAN ANY COMMUNITY PROGRESS WITHOUT CONTINUING
: INFORMED AND -INTELLIGENT DEBATE. AND HOW CAN
THERE'BE DEBATE WITHOUT INFORMATION,
FINALLY, WITH DUE DEFERENCE TO THE A. B. C. CAN I
S SYMPATHISE WILL ALL BROADCASTERS. I AM ONLY TOO WELL
AWARE: OF THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF BROADCASTING
AND THE HAZARDS.
A FEW WEEKS AGO, LATE ONE'EVENING, I SAT DOWN IN MY
OFFICE TO RECORD MY WEEKLY BROADCAST TO THE GOOD
PEOPLE OF MY HOME ELECTORATE, WANNON.
I THINK IT WAS ABOUT THE 1000TH SUCH TIME I HAD
SAT. DOWN TO IT, I VE. BEEN RECORDING IT WEEKLY FOR
SOUNST 21-. YEAR.
I READ THE FIRST COIPLEOF PARAGRAPHS, AND AS
I WAS A LITTLE TIRED I MADE AN ERROR.

Ir 12
UNCHARACTERISTICALLY, I GAVE AN INVOLUNTARY EXLAMATION..-
WORDS NOT-FIT TO BE REPEATED HERE STOPPED THE
TAPE AND STARTED AGAIN,.
THE-TAPE WAS DULY LANDLINED TO RADIO 3HA HAMILTON,
WITH A WARNING OF THE-FALSE START.
HOWEVER, SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LINE, THAT MESSAGE
DID NOT. GET THROUGH THE TAPE WENT'TO AIR
( ON A SUNDAY EVENING TOO) FALSE START AND ALL.
THE. MOST DISTURBING ASPECT OF THE INDICENT HOWEVER,
WAS THAT THE STATION DID NOT RECEIVE ONE
SINGLE COMPLAINT.
THAT COULD ONLY MEANTTWO THINGS NO ONE WAS ACTUALLY
TUNED IN, OR THOSE THAT WERE THOUGHT THE LANGUAGE
WAS THE NORMAL PRIME MINISTERIAL MANNER OF ' SPEECH.
MR PRESIDENT, I KNOW THIS DAY IS THE CULMINATION
OF AN EXTRAORDINARY AMOUNT-OF-TIME AND ENERGY
BY A GREAT NUMBER OF-JOURNALISTS OVER MANY. YEARS,
THERE IS NO DOUBT ALL THE EFFORT HAS BEEN WORTHWHILE. :. i
6:
;. i~ i d
"' i I
/ 13 r .1
I4

S 13.
I CONGRATULATE THE MANAGEMENT, PAST AND PRESENT.
THIS FACILITY WILL PLAY A REAL PART IN ENHANCING
THE-STANDING . OF JOURNALISTS IN AUSTRALIA,
. ON THATiNOTE . AND IN ACCEPTED PRIME MINISTERIAL
TQNES ' IT.-NOW DOES GIVE ME CONSIDERABLE PLEASURE
TOOFFIC. IALLY DECLARE THIS MAGNIFICENT
NATIONAL PRESS CLUB BUILDING OPENED.
I II I I I

Transcript 4132