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Speech to ALP Victorian State conference

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Speech to ALP Victorian State conference 23 October 1977*-The following is the text of a speech to the ALP State conference at the Colling- wood Town Hall, Melbourne, by the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. E. G. Whitlam:

We are, in all probability, on the eve of another great bat­ tle, an election campaign as important as any we have ever fought. 1 put it to you in the most serious way that the task

before us is to stop Malcolm Fraser breaking np'^S 7 country. The events of the recent past can leave no dovgj about the true meaning and the real consequence;jh j Fraserism. It has been a classic application of the old d<5 r

trine,‘divide and rule*. "’h B i

There is no need in Victoria, least of all at this meetia0! to stress the seriousness of the SEC dispute. But out of® j the turmoil one thing is dear, the last thing Fraser ®; t Hamer wanted was an early settlement, or any settlemea,'=: by conciliation, arbitration or negotiation at all The ]& ■ thing the man who campaigned on the slogan, ‘turn otttfe 1 lights’ wanted, was for the lights to go on in Victoria.The I last thing Hamer wants is for more light to be throynj® ' the land deals of his scandal-ridden Government 1 ■::.r

I have it on good authority that the Liberals hive j cooked up a new slogan for the coming campaign. Itwu to be ‘Australia on the move". They have scrapped the I one; now it is to be—believe it or not—‘Right to work*. The . ‘Right to work*: this from a Government which he': y created the worst unemployment since the great dept® .,

sion! Let them talk about the right to work to the 400000 ·' who will be jobless by February—7 per cent of the wo*.; · force. Let them talk about the right to work to the 100.000. t school leavers who will be without jobs next year, /-r-f,:- .

The Australian people will vote for the right to w di ’ 1 The real right to work has nothing to do with trumped-gp ; slogans or the repressive industrial legislation rammed through Parliament in twenty-four hours last week. It w8 not be the Liberals, but the Labor Party which will be ' campaigning on the real issue of the right to work-the right to full employment, the right of Australia’s youag , men and women to get jobs, the right of Australians to choose the career for which they are trained. This is the real meaning of the right to work. It is a right deliberately

being denied by the Fraser Government to hundreds and thousands of our fellow Australians. ·.·".■

The other slogan of the Liberal campaign will, of course, be the hoary old catch-cry ‘who's running lie , country*. At the moment, the answer has to be, nobody* governing the country. The uncertainty and confusion created has brought normal administration to a halt No

administration, no public service can function effectively in the distracted atmosphere Fraser has deliberately created. The same paralysis of normal administration be

inflicted on Australia and our Government for a month is 1975 he is now wilfully inflicting on his own. The dedsioni that should be taken at a critical time in economic mu-agement are not being taken.

While the hamlet of Nareen grandstands, the machin­ ery of government staggers and stutters. Parliament itsdf is being debauched. The most reactionary industrial legis­ lation since 1929 was rushed through in a day. Ralph Willis had the Bill an hour before it came in. He handled* superbly. He has been able to expose, clause by clause, the true implications and the potential disastrous conse­ quences of the legislation. He exposed the breach of fifth, the repudiation of clear commitments given to the ACTU by Fraser and Street. And he was able to demonstrate devastatingly how this legislation, far from contributing*> the settlement of the SEC dispute could only prolong * · indefinitely. And of course, that's the intention-to ■ ■ voke, to divide, to create deeper and deeper bitterness And this is why this Government, with its strange and obsessed Prime Minister takes on so sinister a character.

I Something altogether new and dangerous is entering | the public life o f this country. We, as a nation, have O r j vided deeply on issues in the past That is the very naroff of a democracy, but what is new, what is frighteningi*®*1 ,

! for the first time, we have a Prime Minister a*0 * I deliberately creating issues with the express purpo**®·

dividing the country; deliberately setting Australian against Australian, section against section, class against class and, if he could, worker against worker. This has never happened in Australia before because we have never had such a Prime Minister before—a man who has never outgrown the narrow prejudices of a privileged ado­ lescence with which he now proposes to shackle this nation. Would you buy a used Ferrari from this man?

This is the Prime Minister who said two years ago, ‘only under a Liberal-National Country Party Government will there be jobs for all who want to work*. This is the Prime Minister who said in his policy speech two years ago, ‘we have a comprehensive strategy to restore prosperity'; who said ‘spending on essential education, health and welfare programs will be maintained*. This is the Prime Minister . who declared, ‘we will maintain Medibank'; who said, ■ -we will continue urban programs'. This is the Prime Min­

ister who promised, ‘we will work positively in co­ operation with trade unionists'. This is the Prime Minister who promised, ‘the Government will support wage inde-1 xation'. This is the Prime Minister who promised, ‘we will ! be generous to those who cannot get a job*. This is the

Prime Minister who said, ‘a Liberal-National Country Party Government will initiate a new deal for migrants'; who said, ‘we will maintain present levels of assistance to Aboriginals’; who said, ‘we shall ensure no person is de­ nied legal aid because of lack of means'; who said, ‘only under a Liberal-National Country Party Government will there be a return to business confidence’.

Only last Thursday, George Polites agreed with Ralph Willis at the National Press Club that the biggest impediment to business confidence was Fraser's current shennanikins. If there is an election this year, it will be the fourth House of Representatives election in five years. This is the perfect recipe for political instability which des­ troys the very basis of parliamentary democracy and re­ sponsible government and all those elections have been ! caused by. the actions of the Liberals, the self-proclaimed I champions o f parliam entary democracy, the self­ ' proclaimed upholders of responsibility and stability. You

ha ve to go back to 1961 to find a normal election—that is a ; joint election for the House of Representatives and half the Senate at the end of a normal three year term. The ■ result of Menzies’ timing of the 1963 elections was to ' throw the two Houses out of joint. If we have an election

this year, we shall have had ten national elections in four- | teen years. Is it any wonder the system is cracking under ί the strain. And Fraser is imposing a further intolerable 1 strain' upon it. We won't have a banana republic— just a , banana monarchy.

! I said before that the new industrial legislation was the | most restrictive and reactionary attempt since 1929. The i people of Australia responded by throwing out the Bruce ■ Government at the earliest opportunity. The last Prime i Minister, in a Western democracy to attempt to divide his 1 country on the slogan o f ‘who's running the country* was

Heath. He too called a premature election; the people of Britain threw him out and then his own Party threw him out. John Gorton predicted that Fraser would break up the Liberal Party. It is already crumbling—Chipp, Went­ worth, Ellicott, Richardson—breaking up the Liberal Party is one thing; breaking up Australia is another. And under this obsessed man, the fragile consensus by which the Governor-General-designate suggests that Australia exists, is breaking up. We must not allow this man, with his obsessions, his prejudices, his elitism to break up our country. There never was a time when Labor’s cause was in the deepest sense more Australia’s cause—Australia as a united, eglitarian, tolerant nation.