PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 992


Photo of Menzies, Robert

Menzies, Robert

Period of Service: 19/12/1949 to 26/01/1966

More information about Menzies, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/09/1964

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 992

Speech by the Prime Minister. the Rt. Ho. Sir Robert Menzies
Sirs, Your Excell. ency
I am speaking tonight at a great disadvantage.
Jell, as you know, I usually do. I looked at the programme
of the sports, as you might say, and I realised that I was
the first. Now that is a position I don't caro for,
except, of course, in my capacity as a cold-blooded dictator.
I am going to be replied to by young Ferrier here who has
all the advantage of being able to disagree with me with
exquisite courtesy and then Mr. Pettingell who is a strange
mixture of a man he's in the gas busiress as I am, he's
in the manufacturing business for some reason that I don't
understand and he's a banker for some reason that, technically,
I don't understand. And I thought for a moment he was going
to be replied to by John Renshaw and indeed here is Pat
Hills here tonight. You think of what mischief he'll make
of me! Henry Bolte won't be in the same street' And then
my old friend Mr. Herford is going to speak and then Harry
Jensen, When I've made a mess of it and even somebody else
has made a mess of it, he turns up and leaves us all for
dead. Great pity. I regret that he didn't become the Member
for East Sydney, And do you know why I regret it? Because
I really thought that that would have given us our cnly
chance of fixing him up. You know what I mean. But instead
of that no no, there he is. Anyhov" good luck to him, as
long as he lays off this strenge idea that Tullamarine is
to be the chief international airport.
Do you know, gentlemen, that about a w ek
eight days nine days ago, I found that in a moment of
sickness when I was in my bed, I had agreed to make a speech
here to another Association The Australian Industries
Development Association. So I came down, and I made whac
you might loosely call a powerful speech and I looked around
the pecple to whom I was talking and I realised with a
horrible clutch at the heart that they were just the same
gang qs I would be spealzing to tonight. And, consequently,
I am at a very great disadvantage. I admit that with
exquisite courtesy........ And so with your kind permission,
when I go back to Canberra early in the morning, I will
tell Dan Minogue that as a special compliment to him the
clock rang. ( Laughter) Now, you members of the N. S. U. Chamber of
Manufactures I hope that's right have been beguiling or
ordering me here for many years and I've had a variety of
experiences. I can remember believe it or not occasions
on which when I stood up to speak the people applauded.
This is a very happy memory on my part and I remember on one
occasion ( I think it must have been in 1952 when we had a
painfully unpopular Budget) that I arrived here and walked
in and somebody proposed my health in the most offensive
possible terms, everybody applauded him like mad. I won't
mention him you all know him and then I got up to reply
and was received with great courtesy by two members who
said ( slow applause) well, even two are better than none

from the point of view of the politician and I remember on that
occasion you will remember this Sir, I said that there was
a musical comedy coming on in Melbourne which ultimately was
bound to reach the provinces in which the theme song, slightly
altered for my purpose was " One Enchanted Evening" " One
Enchanted Evening, you will see a supporter across a crowded
and that was true, and mind you, you've been much
better ever since. I must say that for you. You've had your
civilised moments in dealing with me. Therefore tonight
perhaps I might have a civilised moment or two to speak tc you.
I've been thinking about manufacturing and doing
a little manufacturing of my own, no doubt, and hearing about
manafacturing and being indoctrinated for a lorg time, and I
said the other night, somewhere else, my earliest political
recollection is being told by my father who strangely enough
had great dynamic violence and lack of toleration in his view
not a bit like me, And I remember my earliest lesson at my
father's knee they talk about your mothel's knee but it is
my father's knee was that the. one thing to be iun. erstood in
Australia was that we must hive manufacturing and we must have a
protective tariff. Now some of you gentlemen may think that in the
course of time I've wandered a little off the course, but this is
when I was fourteen years old, and at fourteen years old, in my
experience, you don't quarrel with your father. ' Jell, that's
not true in the case of my own children but it was in our cae,
And so from the very beginning of my political life, I've understood
something about protection and I've understood something
about the reasons for it, but i have never succumbea to the
easy arguments which occdsionally were produced against the
creation of manufacturing in Australia. And therefore I say to
you, as I've said many times before, this matter has gone beyond
argument. I believe that there are sume settled policies in
Australia, national policies, policies which are shared by all
parties and one of them is that we must do -eaerything we can to
develop secondary industry in Australia and in recent years we've
added to this. And to develop the capacity of secondary
industry to export to the rest of the world.
Nowr, Sir, this is easy enough to say but I think
we've become sophisticated enough, haven't we, to have a look
at this and to consider its implications. WJhen I was this small
boy of sixteen, short and thin, people imagined that the great
argument in life was whether you were a protectionist or a free
trader and even later on in my life, there was a great argument
as to whether you believed in secondary industry or primary
industry as these were two branches of industry fighting with
each other. Now I do hope that we've grown out of that.
Ue are now Australians and we are Australians in a country in
which farming, grazing, manufacturing, tertiary industries
retailing industries are all engaged in some or other aspect of
total national effort. This is the one thing I think that we
must now come to learn because I will assume that you are all
manufacturers. Let me therefore at once say to you that being
manufacturers you are also the greatest importers in the
country that's right isn't it? Because if you were to analyse
the volume of imports into Australia you would find thac the
bulk of the imports came in as raw materials, and as plant and
as equipment for manufacturing industry. And therefore I address
you as manufacturers, and I address you as major importers.
This is something worth remembering. When I address you as
manufacturers and importers, I address you as major employers / 3

in Australia. You can't get this thing off on to particular
sections or groups. You are great employers and because you
are great employers, you represent a body of activity without
which we couldn't have an immigration programme at all.
So I emphasise that immigration. It is to the
lasting credit of my opponent in the Federal Parliament, Mr.
Calwell, that he was the Minister who had enough courage to
start a major imigration movement in this country after the
war, And I have never hesitated to pay tribute to it. But
we have gone on with it. And this year7 were importing
that's the right word we are bringing into Australia a greater
number of immigrants than we have for a long long time. They
come here expecting to work.
They could not come here without any genuine
expectation of work unless we had been wise enough and you
had been wise enough to develop enormous manufacturing,
secondary activity in Australia. Because, of all the migrants
who come here, very few go on to the land. The land has
succeeded in producing more and more with fewer and fewer
people, for obvious reasons. And therefore I've never been
able to discuss an immigration programmne without saying to
myself, " Well, this can't succeed unless we have a great
manufacturing programme. Secondary industry and immigration
are intimately bound together," And therefore I might describe
you not only as great producers and great importers, but as
great immigrators, and this is worth thinking abcut,
You see my point I want you to give up, if I
may say so, thinking about yourselves as specialists in a
special field, In reality. manufacturing today has become the
general practitionere You must not regard yourselves as merely
concerned with manufacturing, but you are concerned with
importing, you are concarned with immigration, and indeed
nowadays you re concerned with exporting. I know there are
people who think in a rath. er shallow way that a little flush
of inflation does no harm, it will improve the equities and it
will reduce the burden of the debentures you know what I mean
a little bit of inflation.
In the short run yes, I can understand that some
people, in the short run, will think that a little bit of
inflation does no harm, like a little bit of something I would
mention in other circumstances. This is not true. In the
short run it may be, but in the long run your interests and my
interests and all the interests of all the responsible people
in Australia depend upon having a reasonable stability of the
currency, so that people will save money and not be afraid, so
that they will save money for investment and not be afraid, so
that the loan market will be healthy, and unless the loan
market is healthy I say to you, quite frankly we will either
have to stop a lot f works of development which are vital from
your point of view, or we will have to increase taxes to an
exorbitant extent. And, therefore, you have in the long run a
tremendous interest in the stability of the currency. And then
there are two other matters in which you are interestedo
I've mentioned the others.
If I may say so, Mr. President and Your Excellency,
you are interested as citizens, because we have too much
disposition, even in our own relatively small country, to divide
ourselves into a body of special interest, or a body of special
pressure groups. We've only eleven million people. We've
never lived in the whole course of our lives in a state of
go 60/ 4

greater risk than that in which we live today. We have only
to look on the map north of ourselves to realise that some of
the greatest and most crucial events in modern history are
occurring near to us. And we're not frightened of our fears
it's not in our nature to be frightened but it is essential
that in looking at all these matters that are going on, we
should remember that we are one people with one vital interest.
And, therefore, wha' I've baen saying to you tonight is designed
to indicate that we must not just think of ourselves as manufacturers
but think of ourselves as importers, think of ourselves
as employers of migrant labour, think of ourselves in a variety
of capacitieso This is essential, because given Australia is
a united nation, we're not going to be easily overthrown by other
people, And that means, Sir, coming to the end of this
exercise, that the interesting thing, the obvious thing but at
the sama time the uncommon thing, is that we're all citizens
of one country, citizens of no mean country. Don't let us take
too much time off to argue with some other section or some other
group. Let us defend our interests, of course this is auite
right, but let us always have in mind that, whether you're a
manufacturer or a farmer or a grazier or even a poor wretched
politician, you are subordinate to one great thing and that
is the interest of our countryo
Now, Sir, I knew this is well understood, I know
as well aj most people could know how manufacturing industry
has understood these things, has worked on these things, and I
as the head of the Cormonwealth Government am immeasurably
indebted to your representatives for the advice that we ask for
and receive from time to t. me. I don't want to underestimate
that at all. I bops it will go on mo. re and more and mcre. But
in proposing the health of Austrolian indisstry. I vwould like to
make it clear that I am not proposing the health of a foreigner,
but proposing the hedlth of somathing which is in the va:' y web
of our national beingo Now have I made that clear?
I'm happy, and if I haven t made it clear, you
will still be happy to join with me in drinking the health of
Au., ralian industryo '-3

Transcript 992