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"Not by the bottom line alone" the annual Sir Kenneth Anderson memorial address

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I am especially delighted to be given the honour of delivering the Sir Kenneth Anderson Memorial Lecture to this annual dinner of the City of Sydney Special Branch of the Liberal Party.

The contribution of the late Ken Anderson to Australia, both in World War II ^ when he was a prisoner of the Japanese on the infamous Burma-Thailand Railway - and subsequently in public life, is very well known to this audience.

He is still remembered with great affection in the Ryde area which comprises a significant portion of my own electorate of Bennelong.

In many ways he epitomised the decent, hard core of middle Australia whose aspirations were personal self-fulfilment, a strong family commitment and patriotic service at both a local community and a broader national level.

Ken Anderson achieved the trilogy of some in public life. He was mayor of his local municipality, a member of state parliament and later a federal senator, becoming a cabinet minister and ultimately leader of the Government in the


This dinner takes place at a time of great opportunity and potential for the Liberal Party tinged as that must be with some puzzlement, even consternation, at a state election result which surprised virtually everyone.

Federally, Labor is in pathetic disarray. The leadership fight smoulders on in a spiteful, vituperative fashion while the economy shows at best only very tepid signs of recovery.

The Liberal Party has made all of the policy running over the last twelve months.

John Hewson, Peter Reith and Tim Fischer all deserve our praise for the job they have done over that time.

We have reinforced the importance of radical industrial relations reform as fundamental to greater national productivity. It is truly an idea whose time has come.

Sure evidence of this is the debate now taking place between a number of people and groups as to who promoted the idea first. It wasn't always like this. It was a very unfashionable idea five years ago even in sections of the Liberal Party with some

state leaders publicly disowning the policy.

Boldly and correctly the Coalition has committed itself to major taxation reform. Our intention to bring in a broad- based consumption tax is but one element of totally changing the tax system.

Every attempt will be made by the Labor Party and our other opponents to distort, destroy and misrepresent our plans to deliver a more efficient, modern taxation approach.


The taxation debate over coining months will be a test not only of the resolve of Liberals to advocate a vital economic reform but also of the maturity of the Australian electorate as it grapples with the verbal onslaught and abuse which will come

from an increasingly irrational, hysterical Prime Minister.

Bob Hawke's only stock in trade in the taxation debate is emotion-laden rhetoric. He cannot invoke reasoned argument against a consumption tax because six years ago he and Paul Keating both said there was none.

In other areas such as tariff and industry reform the Liberal and National Parties have also succeeded in setting the agenda.

It is ironic that the Hawke Government now luxuriates in the positive publicity surrounding the privatisation of the Commonwealth Bank yet only a few years ago such a proposition, according to the Prime Minister, was akin to burning down the

gum tree.

How many of you recall the Prime Minister's Ben Chifley Memorial Lecture in 1986 when he said that the Labor Party would keep the memory of Ben Chifley "fresh and green" by fighting the privatisation policies of the Coalition while "it

had breath in its body".

We may ridicule Labor's policy U-turns. Yet what we will ridicule at our political cost is the great success the Labor Party frequently achieves in relating policy changes and new policy positions - however dramatic - to the historic political and social goals of the Labor movement.

Although they are now infinitely more pragmatic, our opponents never forget that politics is ultimately a battle of political ideas and political beliefs.

The capacity and determination of the Labor Party, their acolytes and supporters, in various areas and institutions of Australian society to re-write and interpret Australian political history according to Labor perspective is at times

both audacious and breath-taking.

It is also a threat to a proper understanding of what has happened in this nation over the last 30 to 40 years.

This was brought home to me dramatically in the wake of the screening of the ABC TV programme "The Ming Dynasty" which dealt at length with the prime ministership of Sir Robert Menzies.

The almost universal reaction amongst Liberals to whom I spoke after the programme was one of immense relief with the comment "it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected", effectively summing up their sentiments. .


In other words, they were conditioned to expect a highly negative analysis of the Menzies years. Some of this is no doubt due to the perceptions of some about the ABC.

More importantly, however, it connotes a much too defensive view by us of a period in Australian political history which should be the object of immense pride and satisfaction.

Of course Menzies made mistakes and, of course, some of his economic views today appear protectionist and inward looking.

But by any measure he must have got many things right. He presided over a period of enormous economic, political and social stability. It was a time when Australia became a Mecca of social and political tranquillity for millions of migrants

from many parts of the world.

His governments did more for higher education than any others in Australian history. In almost one stroke his breakthrough on state aid to Catholic schools helped to end decades of sectarian division in our community.

The systematic demolition job done by the Labor Party and its supporters on the Menzies period, the attempts to categorise his government as having delivered Rip Van Winkle years to the Australian economy must never be allowed to go unchallenged.

If the Labor Party makes us defensive and robs us of our pride about our own past it has the potential to undermine our confidence about our future.

The extraordinary collapse of communist ideology in Eastern Europe over the last two years has totally transformed world politics. It was a stunning vindication of individual freedom and of economic practices based on capitalism and the

free market.

Some have mistakenly seen these developments as heralding the end of ideology in politics. This is a grievously mistaken view.

In Australia the economic policies of the two major parties have come closer together in recent years. That does not mean that our ideological differences have dissolved.

We would be politically naive to think that Australian politics has now become non-ideological. That is precisely what our opponents would have us believe. To them politics will always be about ideological differences.

Those differences may have shifted and changed over recent years but they nonetheless remain.


Politics in the 1990s will not just be a question of competing competence in the area of economic management - important though this will jcemain. .

Ultimately politics is about the kind of society we have and the kind of people we are.

Australian liberalism, with its unique blend of conservatism and classical liberalism, is more about the condition of the human spirit than it is about the bottom line.

In the wake of what was a disappointingly close New South Wales election result many have cast around for reasons. The explanation does not lie with the proposition that the Greiner Government went too far with its economic


Likewise, it is too simplistic to say that the reforms could have been sold better.

By any decent yardstick, Nick Greiner ran a highly competent government in difficult economic times and achieved an immense amount of economic reform in areas bearing upon the delivery

of basic public services.

I am delighted that by his actions since the election he has shown a determination to stick with his reformist zeal.

All Liberals should remember that economic rationalism, economic competence, good economic management - call it what you will - is not a stand alone political philosophy.

It is of itself merely a tool in implementing a broader philosophy for the kind of society we in Australia want. It is not an end in itself but merely a means to an end.

As someone who can claim a central role in leading the Liberal Party to embrace the economic policies of the free market and deregulation I have a deep and abiding interest not only in the Liberal Party keeping those policies but also the

successful advocacy of them to the Australian people.

The challenge of this must be fully realised. There is a danger that any political setback will prompt calls - particularly from within our own ranks - to slow down the pace and reduce the level of commitment to economic reform.

Not only would this be against the national interest at a time when economic reform is crucial but it would also totally misread the mood of the Australian people.

Australians know our country has immense economic difficulties.


They want and expect honest political analysis and guidance as to what should be done. They want neither perpetual stories of gloom nor endless false dawns, ,

They will accept radical economic changes provided they are convinced of two things.

Firstly, they must be persuaded that it is good for Australia that particular radical changes be made. And secondly, they must be satisfied that the burdens of change are fairly and evenly spread throughout the community.

To achieve success on these fronts Liberals must always remember that politics is essentially a contest of values and ideas, often between fundamentally different views, as to how our society should be structured.

If you doubt this proposition let me illustrate by reference to industrial relations reform.

We are for radical industrial relations reform because we regard individual freedom as more important than the privileges and power of institutions in our community.

Those who defend the industrial relations status quo are defending the entrenched privileges of existing institutions, namely state and federal industrial tribunals, the ACTU, existing employer organisations, state labour councils and so


I believe in free bargaining because I believe that every man and woman has a natural right to bargain about his or her own future. I reject the paternalistic, collectivist,

interventionist view of society which says that individuals cannot be trusted to make rational decisions about their own future.

The right to join or not to join a trade union must surely be as fundamental as the right to join or not to join a political party of one's choice or the right as a parent to choose the kind of schooling one's child should enjoy.

Yet tenaciously the Labor Party clings to the view that the group or institutional interest must have primacy over individual freedom.

In the recent SPC dispute both John Halfpenny and Peter Cook seriously argued that the workers at the Shepparton cannery had no right to make decisions about their own job security without obtaining the permission of others.

There is, of course, a strong economic argument for workplace bargaining. It will deliver higher productivity at the workplace and therefore higher national productivity.


That is the economic argument. It is very important. But the freedom argument, the philosophical repository, viz individual liberty, is even more compelling. t.

In recent years as the Labor Party has struggled to embrace economic rationalism it has not abandoned its deeply authoritarian streak.

Not only does it continue to support compulsory unionism? it propounds a prohibition on political advertising; its union affiliate, the ACTU, censors the screening of a publicly-funded film about the labour movement because it is

critical of the movement; and now its new Treasurer, John Kerin, intends to conscript by legislation the payment of wage increases via increased superannuation contributions by Australian employers# despite the fact that such increase has

been denied by the Industrial Relations Commission and would certainly not be agreed in workplace bargaining arrangements.

This is eloquent testimony to the fact that corporatism will always triumph over individual liberty in Labor Party deliberations.

No amount of convergence in the area of economic policy has altered this reality one iota.

What all of this means is that our commitment to rational economic policies must remain rock solid. But those policies must be promoted and explained to the electorate as serving the broader goals and philosophical beliefs of our Party.

We need a radical industrial relations policy because major change driven by a concern for individual liberty is needed.

Conversely, we ought to take a truly conservative view regarding the basic institutions of our government.

True conservatism is that which preserves what is good from the past without becoming a slave to the past.

The proposition that Australia should become a republic is one I oppose because I believe the present Constitutional arrangements for our Head of State have produced an atmosphere of stability, predictability and political impartiality almost without parallel anywhere in the world.

I find nothing demeaning in those arrangements. Those who want change have yet to persuade me that the proposals they have in mind for choosing the figurehead president of an Australian republic would bring about an equal degree of

stability, predictability and political impartiality.

I have already said what a rich lode of ideological difference can be mined by the Liberal Party in the area of individual ; liberty. 1


Another area ripe for philosophical argument is that of the role of the family in our society.

It is difficult to know where to begin in listing those ills of our society which flow directly from the erosion of family life.

The blight of long term unemployment which lies increasingly heavy on the conscience of the nation at present probably derives more poverty induced by family breakdown than ordinary economic failure.

The emergence of an urban under-class born into unemployment and in some cases doomed to die in unemployment is a tragic consequence of social decay more than economic incompetence.

Basic societal structures simply do not exist for these people.

I do not assert that specific government policies can change all of this.

But I do assert that economic policies - particularly in the area of taxation - specifically designed to give more support to those with family responsibilities will make a contribution towards strengthening the capacity of Australian families to keep people out of poverty and despair.

Such policies will not only return social dividends but also make economic sense. The cost of picking up the pieces of broken and dispersed families is much greater than the cost of keeping some of them together.

To be effective such policies will need to be emphatic. Token, tepid tinkering which remains on the side of being neutral about the family unit will have no influence.

Liberal audiences before have heard me speak of just how important I believe it is to change our taxation system to give it a pronounced bias in favour of assisting families.

Over recent years our taxation system has steadily eroded the financial position of families relative to two-income households without dependants.

The 1980s was a great decade for the DINKS 1

We can stand by and allow this to continue or with some social vision commit ourselves to a taxation approach which gives a greater level of equity to families. I

I have never believed that the taxation system should be neutral when it comes to family dependants. Such an attitude is economic purity gone mad. Those who support members of their family should get taxation help for so doing.


As someone who has an abiding interest in the health of the Liberal Party organisation, especially here in Sydney, I should not allow this opportunity to pass by without some comments on organisational matters.

When a political party does worse than expected in an election there is a tendency to strike out for culprits. There is evidence that this has happened in recent weeks in New South Wales.

I do not doubt for a moment that there were deficiencies at both a pari lament aacy and organisational level in the recent New South Wales campaign. I suggest, however, that such weaknesses as we do have are the product of longer term trends

rather than specific instances of failure over a short period of a few weeks.

Therefore, the political execution of individuals is barely likely to bring about a change for the better - to borrow a phrase.

There are two longer term trends which disturb me. The first is the relationship between the parliamentary party and the organisation.

It used to be the case, certainly here in New South Wales, that the relationship between the parliamentary party and the organisation rested upon an implied covenant.

That was that in return for the parliamentary party having an unfettered right to ultimately decide policy and the freedom from a rigid caucus system of discipline the lay members of the party remained completely in control of the organisation and, of course, had the overwhelming say in giving or withdrawing the endorsement of candidates.

I am concerned that for a number of reasons that division has become blurred in recent years. It is important that it be fully re-established.

There come times in the life of any political party when blunt messages must be delivered by the organisation to the parliamentary party. Unless there is a totally arms length relationship the delivery of those messages can become muffled.

Hy other concern relates to the widely recognised emergence of factions within the New South Wales Division which seem to exist more to promote particular results in preselections or state executive ballots rather than to promote or propound a particular philosophic coherence.

I do not mean by these comments to be critical of particular outcomes of particular ballots in recent years. There have been some very good results and presumably some fairly ordinary ones. That is not the point. .

Given the philosophical values most of us hold in common, it ought to be possible for our Division to function as a powerful unit of still the most successful political party in Australia's history without the distraction of factional


It matters not who cast the first stone. The important thing is that the stone throwing should stop.

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