Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Address by the Prime Minister to the Australia Britain Society/Cook Society, Cafe Royal, London



Download PDFDownload PDF

mfr «.Λ- ι “ *- .. -ivl ■■ ■ ^ *msmP le iii quote in reply Branch:Our Ref:Direct enquiry 0M 33

A U S T R A L IA N HIG H C O M M IS S IO N · L O N D O N

AUSTRALIA HOUSE STRAND VVC2B 4L A — TEL. 01-433 8COO

. \ ' ' .

■ E M B A R G O : 2 . 1 5 p.m.

C H E C K A G A I K S T D E L I V E R Y

9

ADDRESS BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA,

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE J.M. FRASER, C . H . , M.P.,

TO THE AUSTRALIA BRITAIN SOCIETY/COOK SOCIETY,

CAFE ROYAL, LONDON, 13 JUNE 1977

It is a great pleasure to have this opportunity to speak to y o u .

Your S o c i e t i e s ’ purpose of fostering the ties and understanding between our two countries is an important o n e . The importance of '

this task is in no way diminished by the fact that our nations share a common history, common democratic traditions, and commitments. On the contrary, the situation which our two countries - along with ether liberal democracies - find themselves makes it essential that we fully understand and clearly state the bonds we h a v e , and the interests we s h a r e . The nature of this relationship the common interest of the d e m o c r a c i e s ,' is rarely sufficiently emphasise or e x p l o r e d . „

This is a somewhat meaty offering as the final course of a very good l u n c h . B u t , I do intend to speak to you in a serious vein this a f t e r n o o n . This is a rare opportunity, and you will forgive me if I. am t e m p t e d to use the occasion to touch on some questions facing your country and m i n e . The answers may determine future developments, not only in Australia and Britain, hut in other nations that cherish free and democratic systems of g o v e r n m e n t .

We are a w a r e , but give little thought to the fact that the military strength of authoritarian regimes is growing; the number of nations committed to liberal democratic ideals has d e c l i n e d ; and around the world, human rights are still grievously i n f r i n g e d .

These circumstances are not irrelevant to our own nolicies., and our response should be based on a global perspective. ·

Although the democracies are dispersed around the world, our future is fundamentally a collective o n e , We need to understand ·

our inter-dependence, that we draw our strengths from one a n o t h e r , commercially, politically, strategically, .and perhaps most -

important of all, philosophically. We need to state openly ■

our common interests, and values. We need to recognise that our strength does not lie exclusively in the United States, Europe and Japan not in any single region of the world, but in our collective strength and our collective purpose. .

We cannot allow ourselves to be isolated from one a n o t h e r , either stra t e g i c a l l y or c o m m e r c i a l l y . Neither our national security, nor our

. · · 12

economic well-being can "he assured unless ve take such a global perspective. To ask for this approach i#s not to ask for too much. For our"Societies are outward looking ones which do thrive on . their'inter-connect ions with one another and with the rest of the world.

If we ignore this interdependence - if for instance, we take some temporary commercial advantage at another's expense - then we will have done damage to th.e interests we have in common. We not only face important international challenges, "but also major

domestic ones: the challenge of maintaining freedom and. unity; the challenge of relating expectations to resources; the challenge to politicians to explain the problems they face, to the people; the challenge of holding to good, tested and powerful ideas. Perhaps the basic challenge is that -of maintaining freedom and unit/^

We all knoA·/ that no society can operate properly without a degree of unity and cohesion. Maintaining our essential unity when there is no single, overwhelmingly recognisable danger has always "been a fundamental problem for democracies. Today, the task of maintaininV* liberty and unity is a more urgent problem than ever before. Some people demand greater and greater freedom while rejecting the legitimacy of a.ny voluntary restraints, and obligations. But freedom

is only possible if some degree of voluntary restraint and some degree of political and social obligation is accepted. Democracy and anarchy are not synonyms. " _

It is not a paradox to assert that to preserve the greater freedom democracy allows , some" restrictions of freedom must "be voluntarily and responsibly accepted. Changing power relationships and changing attitudes within democracies- threaten that essential e Q i

The proper " authority of Parliament is challenged WEfesiai its capacity to resolve problems is put in question.

The second challenge is the problem of rising expectations and the inescapably; rea.lity of. limited resources. Free men's aspirations alvrays reach out to a better society. This is one of democracy's motive forces. - one of the power forces for progress and achievement.

But there are"times when "expectations so far exceed reality that . " the result is hot progress but "disillusion. We must all promote an understanding of the limits of what is possible - of.the fact that unreasonable gains by one group will involve undeceptable deprivations for others. And we must promote this understanding without forsaking our ideals of what should and can he achieved

in the'future. Otherwise disenchantment with democracy and democratic leaders will result. . . .

A s much as anything, the cause of unrealistic, expec at ions lies in the belief that government can - year after year - spend more money than they raise. Keyne's view that high spending was appropriate in times of high unemployment, low inflation, and low

interest rates has been translated by others into a policy for all circumstances. The belief that we can spend our way out of recession when inflation and interest rates are high, is a nonsense, .end needs to be put aside. "

The nature of the democratic system played a major part in fostering this illusion and promoting unrealistic expectations. Competitive bidding for electoral support has too often been allowed to replace objective judgement and sound policy. This is based on a

somewhat cynical view of the.people's intelligence. A cynicism democracies.can no longer afford. Economic reality, plain truth and their national acceptance are now a pre-eminent requirement. The magnitude of the economic problems we face suggests that any other course would involve

considerable danger. The competitive.bid is no longer an option. Democracy depends on the good sense of people That good sense and judgement has seldom been adequately tested.

The final point I want to make is concerned with the democratic idea. The democratic idea was once powerfully held and vigorously propounded. With this idea as. a level, people ' removed massive obstacles to freedom and created liberal democratic societies. That power in that idea gave birth to free societies. -

Today, while people still believe that democracy is better than other systems, there has emerged a doubt about the capacity of our system to cope with contemporary problems, and a complacency about the security of democratic institutions and values. . This doubt, this complacency must be dispelled. Vie must revive the power and vitality of liberal democracy's fundamental idea. The importance of free people in human affairs; the fact that free men and women can influence and shape reality - not merely reflect it.

So long as we do this, so long as ve do not lose our .sense of ourselves, our sense of purpose, and so long as we seek to understand and strengthen one another, we will surmount whatever challenges there may be .

OOOoooOOO