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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 8693

TRANSPORT OF THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING MP, ADDRESS TO THE BARCALDINE COMMUNITY, BARCALDINE 10 OCTOBER 1992

Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 10/10/1992

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 8693

TRANSCRIPT OF THlE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING MP
ADDRESS TO T1IE BARCALDINE COM M UNITY, BARCA LDINE,
OCT~ OBER 1992
E OE PROOF COPY
Thank you very much Rob ( hulls), Lancc ( Norman), Pat (.) and Rob's wife
Petrina and ladies and gentlemen.
It's a great honour to be here and thank you very much for so many of you coming
out to see us, on this I'm sure another Queensland sunny day. My daughters are
telling me now I've got a bald patch up here I've got to watch and I should have had
the sun tan cream on it; I'm warming up for the Sydney summer. It is lovely to be
In such nice weather, but more particularly in nice company and thc nice company
being those of you who kept flying the flag of the L abor Party and the spirit of
Labor and thc spirit of Australia so known to be connected with the town of
Barealdine and the famous Tree Of Know. ledge under which the Labor Party Was
formed a century ago.
It is an interesting conjunction of events that in this decade, the last in this century,
that a century ago, in probably our worst drought and worst depression, the Labor
Party was formed and we went through that great time, that great spirit in
Australia, when Australia federated and became a nation. And that great spirit of
experimentation continued right until the First World War. And now a century
later, in what is not a general drought but one near by here, and a rcession we arc
now moving from, we are contemplating that spirit of Australia again because we
lost that sense of social experimentation which came in the 1890s and in the first
fifteen or so years of this century. And the problem was it was snuffed out at

G9allipoli when all the conservative forces of this country took what was a very
radical thing, the contribution of the young men and women of Australia to the
First World War,-and wrapped themselves conservatively and all their conservative
mores around it.
And then, of course, we had the ' 20s, a period of economic expansion, the ' 30s with
the depression. the ' 40s with the war and thcn, under Menzies in those years, the
and ' 60s, we again kept focusing back on other countrics rather than our own.
So we lost that sense of nation, that sense of experimcritation, that spirit of
Australia which was kindled here a century ago.
That spirit has, I think, returned and there's now a greater sense of national identity
than there was at any time since just before the First World War. Anrd that_ has
been recovered, I think, across the countryside; people are much more clear about
their identity as Australians and Australia as a country is more clear about its
identity in the world as a nation.
The Labor Party has always been called upon to lead that national spirit and one
wonders today if we hadn't federated a hundred ycars ago would we fcderatc in this
decade. Given all the various rivalries between the States and thc Commonwealth
I don't know.
But yesterday we had another indication, I think, that that spirit is around. We
decided in June this year to form a National TrainingAuthority that's to take the
TAFE system and turn it into a nati-onal ratherthan a state-s-ystem and yesterday
the deision was made to put the headquarters of the national body in Brisbane.
So, for almost the first time, Brisbane has picked up a national authority in the
State of Queensland and that spirit of co-operation which will produce for
Australian kids a vocational cducation system to sit beside the universitics is
perhaps a glimpse of that great spirit that obtained in the 1 890s in this country and
in this part of Australia.
So the spirit of Australia, the spirit of Labor owes a great deal to Barcaldine, but
the Labor Party still carries the spirit on and in this century, in the latter half of it,
we've had to remake Australia in Labor's image. That is, try and take it from a
closed country to an open, robust country again one that is prepared to look at
some social experimentation like a century ago but this time go out to the world
in trade. And we have done this in the 1980s. We've made the great cultural shift
out, Instead of staying with'the cultural shift in which we had through all the post
war years. This is the first year that we'll export more manufactured goods than
rural exports or mining exports. Because the problem was, though the great rural
industries and mining industries have been such strong things for Australia, they

weren't able to pay for our imports as long ago as 1980 over a dccade ago. So we
had to start developing our goods and our services, but you can't develop goods and
services, you can't develop sophisticated things, without developing the most
valuable resource and that's our young people our children.
When we came to office only three children in ten completed secondary school;
this year that's over seven in ten, and in five years' time we think it will be nine in
ten. And then we created enough places for 40 per cent of them to go onto
universities. But there was always a hole: those who couldn't get into university.
And we're now filling that by developing a proper vocational education system
under that so that wc end up with a trained workforce that can develop
sophisticated products and not only that add value to our rural product-, so instead
of selling beef and wool in an unprocessed way, wc start adding value to it and
selling it to those markets that really matter. That's what really is going to add
income to Australia, add benefits to the country and put a stable base in
employment right across the country.
These are the things which we've done, but as well as that we'vc picked up all the
social aspects of the people, the views of the peoplc who have met here a century
ago. And while there was drought here a century ago, now we have drought relief
courtesy of a Labor Government.
Where they were talking about unemployment a century ago in that depression,
we've got unemployment benefits. Now Dr Hewson, our Tory friend, wants to cut
them out after nine months) but we've got them there, we've increased them
through the 1980s and we've got a decent social security _ system. sitting there for
Australians courtesy of the fact that a Labor Party was formed -so long ago. And it
means now that access to health through Medicare, access to education, support for
the aged in retirement, a new scheme of support for the aged with occupational
superannuation for those who will be retiring in some years hcncechild care, as
well as all those aged care things, all that support in the education system, that
great social wage has come from a Labor Government that knows to keep Australia
strong, you'vc got to keep Australia together. And the notion that the rich should
prosper and they'll flick some crumbs off the table and the rest of the public pick
that up, is not our view of the world.
We say all Australians should come along together. So we want to build a strong
industrial base, but not just growing wheat and wool or even raising beef, but to
add value,-to make sophisticated products, to get into services like tourism as we
see tourism changing the whole of thc state of Queensland, an industry that
developed entirely under a Labor Government in the past ten years. And that trade

4
in international services, whether they be tourism or medical services or financial
services or health services, have all come from a Labor Government.
The funny thing is, it has taken a Labor Government to give Australia an open
market econom~ y. In that great struggle between capital and labour here a century
ago, capital won, but capital has been tamed since so that now it works with labour
to make Australia stronger. We are working together. And now the great phalanx
of enterprise agreements across Australia, where unions and employees and
managers and businesses are sitting down making novel changes for productivity
and higher wages, is part of the growing up and maturing of Australia, part of the
maturing of Labor and the country.
There's always been a to-ing and fro-ing in this century between the notion of
private interest and private reward being the key to everything and government
intervention being the key to everything. We saw the robber baron capitalists of
the United States and Britain in the 19th century believing that private interest and
private reward was everything, and yet we saw the communist parties of Europe, of
Russia, and some of the other socialist parties, believing that government
intervention was everything.
In the Labor Party we've had neither one of those things. We've always had that
nice happy mix, that fair mix of saying not everything is going to be solved by
private reward or looking after yourself and it's not all going to be solved by the
government sector getting too big so let's render unto Caesar thc things that are
Caesar's, but let's get that nice balance in there.
We think we've got that balance in there, that is the rights of the individual, the
freedom to achieve, but at the same time this concept of nation and community.
And that's what I think our friend Dr I-ewson has forgotten. He's trying to tell us
basically that greed is good, if you go out and achieve for yourself that's all that
matters, but God help you itf you are not an achiever, God help you if you are not
on the top of the heap because in that sort of a world you get left behind. We heard
John Howard speaking at the Press Club during the week about industrial relations,
he wants to deprcss Australian working conditions. So it's the same old stuff. As I
said during thc week, Howard could have made the speech in Lancashire in 1895
and I'm quite sure the people arguing for capital could have made it here in
Barcaldine in 1890 or 1891. It's the same old argument, put by the same sort of
people, but wve're not having a bar of it. We're saying all Australia comes along
together, let's grow together prosperously, lct's rekindle the spirit of Australia that
came with the federation in the 1890s and let's do it with the spirit of Labor which
came from Barcaldine in 1891.

Let's make the spirit of Labor in the 1990s as relevant as it was in the 1890s and
let's show as we did a century ago that Australia leads the world in social
experimentation and social change and economic change with it-We can do it
again, in fact we arc doing it again and while the recession has been a real problem
for us and brought a lot of suffering to people as we get out of it into a recovery, a
strong recovery, the basic breadth and depth of the country will mean that we've
got those balances right and that spirit and hope which the Labor Party has always
been able to provide will be there again in the last decade of this century.
To the people of Barcaldine can I say not only thank you for seeing Rob and me
here today, but thanks for keeping the faith, thank you for keeping the spirit and the
hope of Labor which has for nearly all of this century been the hope of Australia,
And a century later say that your loyalty has brought back that economic and social
change, that economic and social experimentation which this town and my Party
started a century ago.
T'hank you very much.

Transcript 8693