Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
1991 Australia day address by the Honourable John Dawkins MP Minister for Employment Education and Training Quality and Reality issues for the 90's



Download PDFDownload PDF

mbargo'ed u n n l? \f*r>. . ' ? . f ] } j° fj>v

1991 AUSTRALIA DAY

ADDRESS

BY

THE HONOURABLE JOHN DAWKINS MP

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND TRAINING

QUALITY AND REALITY ISSUES FOR THE 90’s

PERTH

Australia Day message by the Hon. John Dawkins, MP on January 28,1991 An abberviated version of this address was delivered a t an' Australia Day Sundowner in Fremantle, WA.

COMMONWEALTH

PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY Ml CAM

THE WAR IN THE GULF OBVIOUSLY CASTS A PALL OVER OUR CELEBRATION

OF THIS AUSTRALIA DAY.

SINCE 1838, WHEN JANUARY 26 WAS PROCLAIMED AS AUSTRALIA DAY ITS

CELEBRATION HAS COINCIDED WITH OUR PARTICIPATION IN WARS ON NO

FEWER THAN 47 OCCASIONS - 37 OF THESE SINCE FEDERATION. HOW

APPALLINGLY COMMONPLACE WARS HAVE BECOME.

ARMED CONFLICT HAS BEEN THE SCOURGE OF THIS CENTURY AND IT HAS

EXACTED A TERRIBLE HUMAN TOLL. UPWARDS OF 100 MILLION PEOPLE

HAVE BEEN VICTIMS OF THE WARS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. FOR

THE MOST PART, THESE VICTIMS HAVE BEEN NON-COMBATANTS -

ORDINARY MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN CAUGHT IN THE CROSS FIRE OF

OPPOSING ARMIES OBLITERATED BY INDISCRIMINATE BOMBARDMENT, OR

STRUCK DOWN BY HUNGER, PESTILENCE AND OTHER CONSEQUENCES OF WAR.

HISTORY WILL UNDOUBTEDLY RECORD THAT, FOR ALL OUR TECHNOLOGICAL

AND MATERIAL PROGRESS, WE OF THIS CENTURY WERE UNABLE TO

CONQUER THE DARKER FORCES AFFLICTING HUMANITY.

BUT OUT OF THE TRAGEDY AND DESTRUCTION OF THE GULF WAR, WE

MIGHT TAKE CONSOLATION THAT THERE IS DEVELOPING AN IMPETUS

TOWARDS A JUST RESOLUTION OF THE CONFLICT WHICH HAS SCARRED THE

MIDDLE EAST FOR GENERATIONS

2

THE TRAUMA OF THE GULF WAR, HAS BEEN CYNICALLY PORTRAYED BY THE

TELEVISION NETWORKS AS SOME UNFOLDING DRAMATIC PRODUCTION,

CREATING AN ENTIRELY NEW STANDARD OF BAD TASTE.

IN THE PROCESS OUR GAZE HAS BECOME, AT LEAST TEMPORARILY,

DIVERTED FROM THE DOMESTIC HORIZON.

WE MUST NEVER FORGET THAT AUSTRALIA'S REAL WAR IS ECONOMIC AND

THE ENEMY IS THE EXTERNAL DEFICIT.

OUR EFFORTS AS A GOVERNMENT HAVE BEEN DIRECTED TOWARDS WINNING

THAT ECONOMIC WAR, AND THE CURRENT RECESSION MUST BE SEEN AS A

PERIOD OF RETREAT IN AN OTHERWISE RELENTLESS ADVANCE.

IN THE SHORT TERM THE RECESSION HAS CREATED A SENSE OF

DISAFFECTION WITH THE GOVERNMENT AS PEOPLE STRUGGLE TO

RECONCILE THE SEEMINGLY CONSTANT CHANGE IN OUR MESSAGE.

NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE STOCK, AND DESPITE THE INTERNATIONAL

DESPONDENCY, DEVELOP FOR THIS NATION A STRATEGY TO TAKE US

BEYOND THE RECESSION TOWARDS A RECOVERY WHICH IS BOTH ENDURING

AND COMPLETE.

SINCE ITS FORMATION A HUNDRED YEARS AGO, THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR

PARTY, MORE THAN ANY OTHER MAINSTREAM POLITICAL ORGANISATION,

HAS BEEN THE SOURCE OF SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC

INNOVATION, THE PARTY OF PROGRESSIVE REFORM IN THIS COUNTRY.

3

THIS GOVERNMENT FITS SQUARELY WITH THIS TRADITION, IN TERMS OF

BOTH SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC POLICY.

BUT THAT BEING SAID, I DO BELIEVE THAT IT IS TIME TO RENEW OUR

PURPOSE AND PLANS FOR A MODERN AUSTRALIA.

THE OCCASION OF LABOR'S CENTENARY PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY TO

PAUSE FOR REFLECTION. A TIME TO REPLACE THE EVIDENT CRISIS OF

CONFIDENCE WITH THE DISCOVERY OF A CONTEMPORARY "LIGHT ON THE

HILL".

TO FIND THE ORIGINS OF BEN CHIFLEY'S ILLUSIVE BEACON WE NEED TO

RETURN TO THE TIME DURING ANOTHER WAR WHEN JOHN CURTIN FORCED

HIMSELF TO LOOK BEYOND THE TERROR OF WARFARE AND STARTED

PLANNING THE PEACE.

IT WAS IN JULY 1944 WITH THE SECOND WORLD WAR STILL RAGING IN

EUROPE AND THE PACIFIC THAT CURTIN COMMISSIONED HIS LANDMARK

WHITE PAPER ON FULL EMPLOYMENT.

IT WAS PRESENTED TO PARLIAMENT IN MAY 1945 JUST MONTHS BEFORE

THE WAR'S END. THE WHITE PAPER BECAME THE CORNERSTONE OF THE

POST-WAR RECONSTRUCTION PROGRAM AND WAS PREDICATED ON THE

DEVELOPMENT OF AUSTRALIA'S INDUSTRIAL CAPACITY TO MAINTAIN FULL

EMPLOYMENT.

CURTIN PROVIDES THE SUPREME EXAMPLE OF LOOKING BEYOND CURRENT

ADVERSITY TO FUTURE PROGRESS AND PROSPERITY.

4

MOST IMPORTANTLY HE REALISED THE PRE-EMINENCE OF ECONOMIC

SUCCESS IN FASHIONING THAT FUTURE. WITHOUT ECONOMIC PROGRESS

OUR ASPIRATIONS FOR A FAIRER AND BETTER SOCIETY WERE OUT OF

REACH.

HIS WHITE PAPER WAS UNAPOLOGETICALLY FOCUSSED ON INCREASING THE

STRENGTH OF AUSTRALIA'S INDUSTRIAL BASE AS A MEANS OF PROVIDING

FOR A FULLY EMPLOYED WORKFORCE.

IT IS AUSTRALIA'S MISFORTUNE - AND THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE

STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS OF THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY EVEN TODAY - THAT

POST-WAR RECONSTRUCTION WAS DISTORTED AND CORRUPTED BY THE

NARROWMINDEDNESS OF MCEWEN WHO FOR SO LONG DOMINATED ECONOMIC

POLICY.

THIS GOVERNMENT, FORTY YEARS LATER HAS BEEN PURSUING THAT

CURTIN IDEAL BY STRIPPING AWAY THE PROTECTION OF THE 50'S AND

THE 60'S AND CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR NEW INDUSTRIES IN A

MORE COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT.

INDEED THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE RETURNING TO THIS THEME IN THE

UPCOMING POLICY STATEMENT IT HAS FORESHADOWED.

AS WE DO SO WE NEED TO BE NOT ONLY INFLUENCED BY OUR GREAT

WARTIME LEADER BUT ALSO BY THE LEADER OF AUSTRALIA'S OWN

CULTURAL AND SOCIAL RENAISSANCE IN THE 70'S.

5

GOUGH WHITLAM DECIDED TO MAKE UP FOR THE LOST OPPORTUNITIES AND

THE DASHED HOPES OF THE POST WAR DECADES.

AS DONALD HORNE OBSERVED IN THE LUCKY COUNTRY. PUBLISHED IN THE

LATER YEARS OF POST WAR CONSERVATIVE RULE:

"THE POTENTIAL FOR CHANGE WITHIN THE ORDINARY PEOPLE OF

AUSTRALIA IS GREAT; IT IS THEIR MISFORTUNE THAT THEIR

AFFAIRS ARE CONTROLLED BY SECOND-RATE MEN WHO CANNOT

UNDERSTAND THE PRACTICALITY OF CHANGE. WHO ARE IN OTHER

WORDS CONFORMIST. IT IS NOT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE STUPID

BUT THEIR MASTERS, WHO CLING TO POWER BUT FAIL TO LEAD

___ YET WITH DIFFERENT LEADERSHIP, THE AUSTRALIAN

PEOPLE MIGHT DISPLAY A PROUD RECORD".

AFTER THE GREY, BLAND MEDIOCRITY OF THE 50'S AND 60'S, THE

VISION OF AUSTRALIA'S FUTURE PRESENTED BY WHITLAM IN THE "IT'S

TIME" SPEECH OF NOVEMBER 1972 WAS REMARKABLE IN ITS SCOPE AND

BREADTH. THAT MEMORABLE CALL TO THE "MEN AND WOMEN OF

AUSTRALIA" HERALDED A PERIOD OF EXUBERANT OPTIMISM AND

PASSIONATE COMMITMENT TO AN ENHANCED QUALITY OF LIFE FOR THE

PEOPLE OF THIS NATION.

AS WHITLAM PUT IT, THE 1972 ELECTION PROVIDED "A CHOICE BETWEEN

THE PAST THE FUTURE, BETWEEN THE HABITS AND FEARS OF THE PAST,

AND THE DEMANDS AND OPPORTUNITIES OF THE FUTURE". HIS PROGRAM

FOR GOVERNMENT COVERED JUST ABOUT EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE IN

AUSTRALIA.

6

BUT THE MISFORTUNE OF THE THREE BRIEF YEARS OF THE WHITLAM

GOVERNMENT WAS THAT ITS VISIONARY IDEALISM WAS NOT MATCHED BY

AN EQUIVALENT GRASP OF THE ECONOMIC CIRCUMSTANCES THEN FACING

THIS COUNTRY. WHITLAM'S WAS A GOVERNMENT OF CHANGE. BUT THE

WORLD CHANGED TOO AND AFTER SO LONG IN OPPOSITION, HE AND HIS

COLLEAGUES WERE OBLIVIOUS TO THE NEED TO ADAPT THEIR REFORMS TO

FIT THE ECONOMIC CONDITIONS OF THE TIMES.

WHITLAM MADE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE CAPACITY OF THE ECONOMY TO

DELIVER INCREASING LIVING STANDARDS AND COMMITTED SUBSTANTIAL

FUNDS TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF AUSTRALIAN LIFE, IN EDUCATION,

THE ARTS, URBAN AND SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE STATUS OF

WOMEN AND THE LIVING CONDITIONS OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLE: IN

HEALTH, FOREIGN POLICY INITIATIVES AND WELFARE.

THE RATE OF INCREASE IN EXPENDITURE WAS HOWEVER UNSUSTAINABLE

AND WAS CUT BACK BY SUBSEQUENT GOVERNMENTS.

BUT DESPITE THE MISMATCH OF THE WHITLAM DREAM WITH ECONOMIC

REALITY IT IS NOW TIME TO REVISIT HIS CONCEPT, AND REVIVE HIS

COMPREHENSIVE IMAGE OF WHAT AUSTRALIA COULD BECOME.

IT WOULD HAVE TO BE ADMITTED BY EVEN THE MOST IMPLACABLE

CRITICS OF THE WHITLAM GOVERNMENT THAT, DESPITE ITS ULTIMATE

POLITICAL FAILURE, IT FOREVER CHANGED THE FACE OF AUSTRALIA -AND THE WAY WE PERCEIVE OURSELVES.

7

THE WHITLAM GOVERNMENT GALVANISED AUSTRALIA WITH A

CONSCIOUSNESS OF NATIONAL IDENTITY: WITH A PRIDE THAT WAS

NEITHER NARROWLY XENOPHOBIC NOR POLITICALLY OPPORTUNIST.

BUT THE MASTERLY FEATURE OF THE WHITLAM PROGRAM WAS THAT IT WAS

NOT A GRAB BAG OR A CYNICALLY CRAFTED APPEAL TO VARIOUS

POLITICALLY INFLUENTIAL MINORITIES.

INDEED WHAT CHARACTERISED THE WHITLAM PROGRAM WAS ITS COHERENCE

AS A WHOLE ALMOST IN SPITE OF THE UNPOPULARITY OF SOME OF THE

SEPARATE PARTS.

FOR INSTANCE:

. HE CHAMPIONED THE RIGHTS OF THE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE IN

SPITE OF WIDE SPREAD HOSTILITY;»

. HE PROPOSED A NEW DEAL FOR ETHNIC MINORITIES IN SPITE OF

THE RESENTMENT OF THE ANGLO-CELTIC MAJORITY;

. HE PROPOSED INCREASED SUPPORT FOR THE ARTS IN SPITE OF

THE INDIFFERENCE OF BOORISH PHILISTINES;

. HE PROPOSED A NEW, UNIVERSAL HEALTH SCHEME IN SPITE OF

THE OPPOSITION OF THE DOCTORS;

. HE ARGUED FOR A NEW CONCERN FOR THE ENVIRONMENT IN SPITE

OF THE THEN ALL POWERFUL DEVELOPMENT LOBBY;

8

. HE PROPOSED A NEW INDEPENDENT FOREIGN POLICY IN SPITE OF

THE PREVAILING SURRENDER TO AMERICAN PRIORITIES; AND

. HE PROPOSED NEW PROGRAMS IN AREAS OF STATE, AND MUNICIPAL

RESPONSIBILITIES DESPITE THE CHARGES OF CENTRALISM FROM

THE PREMIERS.

IT WAS A MASSIVE PROPOSAL FOR CHANGE IN SPITE OF THE WIDESPREAD

ANXIETY ABOUT ANYTHING NEW, DIFFERENT OR THREATENING.

HIS GENIUS WAS TO WELD TOGETHER, IF ONLY BRIEFLY, A COALITION

OF INTERESTS CONCERNED NOT SO MUCH ABOUT THEMSELVES AS THEY

WERE ABOUT THE NATION ITSELF.

HE WAS, IN SHORT, ABOUT BUILDING GREATER QUALITY INTO THE

FABRIC AND PSYCHE OF AUSTRALIA.

AND IT IS TO THAT SEARCH FOR IMPROVED QUALITY WHICH WE MUST

RETURN. BUT IT MUST BE COMPREHENSIVE AND BALANCED. THE

SOPHISTICATION OF AUSTRALIANS IN 1991 IS SUCH THAT NAKED AND

DISCRETE APPEALS TO PARTICULAR GROUPS WILL BE TREATED WITH

SUSPICION BY SUCH GROUPS THEMSELVES AND HOSTILITY BY THE REST.

AND THIS TIME IT MUST BE SET IN A FRAMEWORK OF ECONOMIC

REALITY. ITS ACHIEVEMENT WILL REQUIRE AN ABUNDANCE OF

POLITICAL COURAGE AS WELL AS A THOUGHTFUL APPROACH TO POLICY.

9

WE SHOULD STRIVE FOR A POLITICAL AMALGAM WHICH COMBINES THE

QUALITY OF THE WHITLAM PROGRAM AND CURTIN'S SOBER REALISATION

THAT THE PURSUIT OF QUALITY MUST BE TEMPERED BY THE PACE OF

ECONOMIC IMPROVEMENT.

QUALITY AND REALITY ARE INSEPARABLE PARTS OF ACHIEVING THE TYPE

OF FUTURE WE WANT AND NEED FOR OUR COUNTRY.

IF WE NEGLECT REALITY OUR ASPIRATIONS REMAIN DREAMS

UNFULFILLED. IF WE NEGLECT QUALITY THAN OUR ACHIEVEMENTS WILL

BE DISAPPOINTINGLY BARREN AND INCOMPLETE.

AND FROM BOTH CURTIN AND WHITLAM WE DERIVE THE PRIMACY OF

POLITICS AS A MEANS TO CREATING THE FUTURE. AS ROBERT KENNEDY

SAID AFTER CURTIN'S TIME BUT BEFORE WHITLAM'S:

"THE FUTURE IS NOT A GIFT : IT IS AN ACHIEVEMENT. EVERY

GENERATION HELPS MAKE ITS OWN FUTURE. THIS IS THE

ESSENTIAL CHALLENGE OF THE PRESENT".

THOSE GOVERNMENTS CAPABLE OF DISTILLING THE NATION'S WILL AND

CREATING THE FRAMEWORK FOR ITS REALISATION WILL BE ENTRUSTED

WITH THE TASK OF MAKING THE NATION'S FUTURE.

THIS IS A TASK THAT ONLY GOVERNMENT CAN DO: THE MARKET PLACE

IS NOT ENOUGH. THE DISCONNECTED SUCCESS OF INDIVIDUALS, GROUPS

AND CORPORATIONS, HOWEVER BRILLIANT OR COMMENDABLE, DO NOT

AUTOMATICALLY COMBINE TO PRODUCE IMPROVED NATIONAL PERFORMANCE.

10

IN AUSTRALIA THIS MEANS RESOLVING AMONG OTHER THINGS, THE

PERENNIAL PROBLEM OF THE DIVISION OF POWERS WITHIN THE

COMMONWEALTH.

THE CURRENT DEBATE OVER THE FEDERAL COMPACT PROVIDES THE

OPPORTUNITY FOR REFORM BASED ON CONTEMPORARY NATIONAL

OBJECTIVES.

THIS PROCESS SHOULD NOT BE PROLONGED BY THE BUREAUCRATS*

ENDLESS FASCINATION FOR DETAIL.

NOR CAN THE STATES BE ALLOWED TO USE THE OPPORTUNITY MERELY TO

PURSUE THEIR SPECULATIVE DESIRES FOR GREATER POWER.

WHEN FOUR OF THE STATES ARE STILL RECOVERING FROM THE EFFECTS

OF FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT OR PUBLIC IMPROPRIETY NOW IS HARDLY

THE TIME TO ENLARGE OR ENHANCE THE STATE LEVEL OF

ADMINISTRATION.

THIS IS NOT AN ARGUMENT FOR FEDERAL INTRUSION INTO AREAS BEST

MANAGED BY THE STATES. IT IS, HOWEVER, AN ARGUMENT FOR THE

STATES TO RECOGNISE THAT THERE IS A NATIONAL PURPOSE TO BE

PERMANENTLY ACKNOWLEDGED, NOT JUST AT A TIME OF WAR.

THE RECOGNITION OF THIS NATIONAL PURPOSE IS SOMETHING WHICH

ONLY THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT CAN ACHIEVE - IT'S FOR THE STATES

TO COMBINE WITH EACH OTHER AND WITH CANBERRA TO DO THE BEST FOR

11

OUR COMMON MASTERS - THE PEOPLE.

SINCE 1983 THIS GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN PREOCCUPIED BY ITS

APPRECIATION OF THE REALITY OF AUSTRALIA'S SITUATION. HOW

QUAINT IT NOW IS TO RECALL THE RHETORIC OF OUR PREDECESSORS WHO

CLAIMED THAT AUSTRALIA WAS "LEADING THE WORLD"! : THE TRUTH WAS

THAT THE REST OF THE WORLD HAD LONG SINCE PASSED AUSTRALIA BY

AND WE WERE LANGUISHING IN ITS WAKE.

AS LEE KWAN YEW WARNED US, AS PERHAPS ONLY HE COULD, AUSTRALIA

WAS IN DANGER OF BECOMING THE WHITE TRASH OF ASIA.

PAUL KEATING'S 'BANANA REPUBLIC* REMARKS IN 1986 SERVED AS A

POWERFUL REAFFIRMATION OF REALITY; UNLESS AUSTRALIA PUT ALL ITS

EFFORTS INTO TURNING AROUND THE SERIOUS TRADE IMBALANCE, ITS

FUTURE AS A SECURE AND PROSPEROUS NATION WOULD BE THREATENED.

OUR TRADE IMBALANCE IS MORE THAN JUST AN "ECONOMIC ISSUE". THE

FUTURE QUALITY OF ALL OUR LIVES DEPENDS VERY MUCH UPON OUR

CAPACITY AS A NATION TO SUCCESSFULLY COMPETE IN WORLD MARKETS.

THE KEY POINT I WISH TO MAKE IS THAT AUSTRALIA - FACED WITH A

RECESSION AT HOME AND CONFLICT ABROAD - MUST LOOK BEYOND THESE

CURRENT DIFFICULTIES AND PRE OCCUPATIONS.

THE GOVERNMENT MUST LOOK TO THE RECOVERY, AND DECIDE NOW ON THE

KIND OF IMPROVEMENTS IT WILL BRING.

12

WE MUST ENSURE THAT THOSE WORKERS DISPLACED BY THE RECESSION

ARE HELPED BACK INTO A WORKFORCE, THE CORE OF WHICH IS

DEDICATED TO SELLING THE FRUITS OF THEIR LABOUR ABROAD.

AN ECONOMY WITH A LARGER EXPORT SECTOR IS ESSENTIAL TO UNDERPIN

A LEVEL OF MODERATE GROWTH WITH ITS INEVITABLE DEMANDS FOR

IMPORTS. IMPORTS ARE A NATURAL RESULT OF THE EXPOSURE OF THE

ECONOMY TO THE WORLD - THEY SHOULD NEITHER BE RESISTED NOR

RESENTED. IMPORTS SHOULD, HOWEVER, BE BALANCED BY A GROWING

EXPORT SECTOR IN GOODS AND SERVICES IN AREAS WHERE AUSTRALIA

CAN EXCEL. IN SOME CASES, GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS WILL BE REQUIRED

TO STIMULATE EXPORTS JUST AS GOVERNMENT POLICY HAS BEEN

DIRECTED TOWARDS RESTRAINING IMPORTS. THESE ARE TWO SIDES OF

THE SAME EQUATION - IT'S JUST THAT ONE APPROACH CONSTRAINS

GROWTH AND THE OTHER PROMOTES IT. THE RECENT PROPOSALS FROM

THE INDUSTRY COMMISSION FOR THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CAR

INDUSTRY MAY WELL BE APPLIED MORE BROADLY TO OTHER SECTORS.

BUT OUR APPROACH TO RECOVERY IS NOT JUST ABOUT NARROW ECONOMIC

OBJECTIVES, IT IS ALSO ABOUT ENSURING THAT WE NOW PLAN THE KIND

OF SOCIETY WHICH A MORE ROBUST ECONOMY CAN SUPPORT.

SOUND ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT IS ESSENTIAL TO OUR FUTURE WELL-BEING

BUT IT IS MERELY A MEANS TO THAT END.

13

THE WAY AHEAD FOR AUSTRALIA IS A HEALTHY ECONOMY AND A

DEDICATION TO THE KIND OF QUALITY WHICH PERMEATED THE WHITLAM

PROGRAM.

LET ME HIGHLIGHT SOME OF THE ELEMENTS OF THAT PROGRAM WHICH CAN

NOW BE CONFIDENTLY REVIVED.

- THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF INDIVIDUALS IN SCIENCE AND THE ARTS

MUST BE SUPPORTED AND ENCOURAGED:

. . SCIENCE HOLDS THE KEY NOT ONLY TO A LEVEL AND TYPE

OF DEVELOPMENT CONSISTENT WITH THE LIMITS OF THE

ECOSYSTEM BUT ALSO TO MAKING OUR DAILY LIVES MORE

ABUNDANT AND FULFILLING.

. THE ARTS AND CULTURE HELP T O fEXTEND OUR MINDS

BEYOND THE CONSTRAINTS OF EVERYDAY EXISTENCE, TO

PUSH BACK THE HORIZONS OF HUMAN VISION AND

VIRTUOSITY. THROUGH THE ARTS EACH NATION IS ABLE

TO CELEBRATE, QUESTION, CRITICISE, DISCOVER AND

REDISCOVER, AS WELL AS HELP TO SHAPE OUR

CONTINUOUSLY DEVELOPING AUSTRALIAN CONSCIOUSNESS.

WE SHOULD SEE THE ARTS BOTH AS AN INDUSTRY AND, FOR

INDIVIDUALS, AS A CONTEXT FOR THEIR OWN CREATIVITY.

- WE NEED TO BUILD ON THE SUCCESS OF MULTICULTURALISM SO

THAT WE MAINTAIN A NATION WHICH IS BOTH TOLERANT AND

COHESIVE. THE FRACTURING OF AMERICAN SOCIETY AROUND

14

LANGUAGE, RACE AND ETHNICITY MUST BE AVOIDED HERE IN

AUSTRALIA. CITIZENSHIP IS UNAMBIGUOUS - IT IS NOT OPEN

TO INDIVIDUAL INTERPRETATION. IT PERMITS AND INDEED

ENCOURAGES DIVERSITY BUT IT ALSO REQUIRES ADHERENCE TO

WHAT EMERGE AS ACCEPTED NATIONAL NORMS AND PATTERNS.

- ACCESS TO EDUCATION HAS EXPANDED ENORMOUSLY. WE MUST NOW

TURN MORE OF OUR ATTENTION TO HOW WELL THE EDUCATION

SYSTEM PERFORMS ITS CENTRAL FUNCTION OF TEACHING AND

LEARNING. THIS WILL REQUIRE MORE MONEY. BUT AS WELL, IT

WILL REQUIRE IMPROVED OPPORTUNITIES AND ENCOURAGEMENT FOR

THOSE WHO ARE TEACHING TO IMPROVE THEIR WORK.

- THE CORE OF ANY MODERN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY IS THE CITY.

THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE OF AUSTRALIA, WHICH IS THE MOST

HIGHLY URBANISED NATION ON EARTH. BUT IN AUSTRALIA WE

HAVE ENCOURAGED A TYPE OF DEVELOPMENT WHICH ISOLATES

RATHER THAN INCLUDES ITS CITIZENS. SERVICES IN OUR

CITIES HAVE BEEN FRAGMENTED, AND ORGANISED TO ACHIEVE

OBJECTIVES WHICH ACCIDENTALLY, IF AT ALL, NURTURE THE

CHARACTER OF CITY LIFE. WE CAN HARDLY BUILD A BETTER

NATION IF WE IGNORE THE QUALITY OF THE LIVES OF MILLIONS

OF URBAN AUSTRALIANS.

THE ISSUES I HAVE RAISED HERE ARE ISSUES ABOUT THE QUALITY WE

DESIRE FOR OUR COUNTRY. THEY ARE ISSUES FOR THE NINETIES JUST

AS THEY ARE A REVIVAL OF THE CAUSES OF THE LATE 60'S AND EARLY

70 'S

15

AS WE EMBRACE AGAIN THESE ISSUES, WE DO SO WITH THE PROMISE

THAT WE WILL BENEFIT FROM A PERIOD OF ECONOMIC CONSOLIDATION

DURING THE 80'S - A PROCESS WHICH IS ADVANCED BUT NOT OVER.

BUT WHAT IS DIFFERENT - AND MOST SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT - IS

THAT NATIONAL EXPECTATIONS HAVE CHANGED.

WE NOW KNOW WE CAN'T HAVE SOMETHING FOR NOTHING.

WE ALSO KNOW THAT WE MUST HAVE A GREATER COMMITMENT TO

COOPERATION. WE EITHER HANG TOGETHER OR EVENTUALLY HANG

SEPARATELY.

TODAY THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE HAVE A CONSIDERABLY MORE

SOPHISTICATED UNDERSTANDING OF THIS COUNTRY'S ECONOMIC

CIRCUMSTANCES THAN IN THE 1960'S AND 1970'S.

OUR CURRENT ASPIRATIONS ARE NOT AS BOUNDLESS AS THEY MAY HAVE

BEEN 20 YEARS AGO.

AND YET THERE IS A RESTLESSNESS AND EAGERNESS TO WORK FOR THE

ENRICHMENT OF OUR COUNTRY. FAIRNESS AND DECENCY AS WELL AS

PROSPERITY ARE RESURFACING AS IMPORTANT GOALS.

THE QUALITY OF OUR LIVES, THE QUALITY OF OUR SURROUNDINGS, BOTH

NATURAL AND BUILT, AND THE QUALITY OF OUR NATIONAL CHARACTER

ARE BACK ON THE POLITICAL AGENDA.

16 f ‘

THE CHALLENGE FOR GOVERNMENT IS TO RECOGNISE THIS CHANGE IN

MOOD AND TO RESPOND COMPREHENSIVELY TO IT. THIS WILL NOT BE A

PERIOD OF DRAMATIC REFORM BUT RATHER A PERIOD OF IMPROVEMENT.

AUSTRALIA'S CITIZENS MUST BE THE ANTITHESIS OF THOSE

"BARBARIANS" DEFINED BY THE SCHOLAR ISAIAH BERLIN.

"ONLY BARBARIANS," HE SAID, "ARE NOT CURIOUS ABOUT WHERE THEY

COME FROM, HOW THEY CAME TO BE WHERE THEY ARE, WHERE THEY

APPEAR TO BE GOING, WHETHER THEY WISH TO GO THERE, AND IF SO,

WHY, AND IF NOT, WHY NOT?"

I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN

LABOR PARTY ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO AND THOSE WHO FORMED OUR

FIRST NATIONAL PARLIAMENT TEN YEARS LATER, IN 1901, SHARED SUCH

CURIOSITY, DETERMINATION AND WISDOM.

WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY IN TRANSFORMING THE ECONOMIC REALITY OF

OUR NATION. WE CAN NOW INFUSE IT WITH THAT SENSE OF QUALITY

WHICH DISTINGUISHES A GREAT NATION FROM THE REST.