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Prime Minister's speech at opening of Curtin campaign, Perth



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PRESS OFFICE TRANSCRIPT THURSDAY, 12 FEBRUARY, 1981

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PRIME MINISTER'S SPEECH AT OPENING OF CURTIN CAMPAIGN, PERTH

First I would like to start by thanking Sir Charles, Ian Warner, the Western Australian Division and every Branch member in this State, for the tremendous work that was done during the last Federal election, where the result overall was pretty good, and where the result in Western Australia was certainly outstanding.

There was a lot of talk before the last Federal election. There was a lot of reporting about polls which did not seem to mean much in the final result. But I know quite well that where we come out is dependent on the overall support of members of this

Party wherever they are right throughout this State and throughout Australia.

Sir Charles might disagree with me, but in a sense it is not what Premiers and Prime Minister's do, it is the kind of support that comes from Branches, and the rank and file members of the Party, the people who are prepared to get out and say "Well,

Sir Charles must be right because it is Sir Charles", or even say "the Commonwealth must be right because they are Liberal", and prepared to back that judgement, even sometimes when they might think in their hearts "well, oh, are they really right after allĀ·?".

But it is that kind of support that keeps the Liberal Party to the fore in this State and right throughout the Commonwealth of Australia. And it is the kind of support and unity which I believe the Liberal Party in Western Australia in particular has been noted for down through the years. And so far as the last

Federal election is concerned, I want to thank you all - and you especially, Sir Charles - for what you did to contribute overall to the final result.

Over the years the Western Australian Division has made an enormous contribution to the Liberal Party in Canberra. I am not allowed - or if I am allowed it would be unwise to make comparisons between candidates or members from one State to another - but I think it is notable that Western Australia has had more than its proportional share of Federal Ministers over a long period of years

and that must be a tribute to the regard with which Western . Australian members have been held in the Federal parliament: doing a job not only for this State but for Australia.

I know this election, in a sense, has been foisted on you, and to the extent that I am responsible for that, well, I would like to apologise for it. But Vic Garland has been a very able Member for Curtin and a very able Minister, who had been asked to

undertake a very important job indeed. I think you know that we regard our representation in Europe, in London, not just as some routine thing. We have had an onslaught into the Common Market. We have re-opened the doors for trade within Europe. There

were people who said it was not worth trying; that those doors had been shut. They were slammed and locked in the Labor time and we would never open them again. But we have opened them a bit. And Vic was the first Minister for Special Trade Representations who spear-headed that particular onslaught. But it is an ongoing business. It is an on-going dialogue, an ongoing argument with the

European Community in relation to these matters.

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Australia's High Commissioner in the United Kingdom is going to be in a critical and important post in making sure that the advances we have won are maintained and built upon in the

years ahead. Let me only say, Sir Charles, I know nobody better than Vic Garland, with the experience that he has had, to maintain that role; to advance it for the interests of this State - which is a great exporting State for rural industries and for minerals as you all know much better than I do - and also for the whole of Australia.

This is not the kind of job that just be done by any person. You need somebody with particular qualities. So, even if it meant asking the electors of Curtin to go out for a second election within a short time phase, I thought when it was put to you, you

would understand that that job in London that Vic Garland is going to is one of enormous importance to this State and enormous importance for Australia. I do not know any other Australian who can fill it so well at the present time.

Allan Rocher - Iwillbe glad to see you sworn in on the 24th when the House meets, and I am sure that the vote is going to be so clear and so decisive that the poll can be declared. And even though the. vote is on the 21st, have all the ritual done by

the 24th on the first day of the new Session. I welcome you for many reasons. You have been in the Senate, which many people regard as a superior place, and you have shown an (inaudible) humility in being prepared to come into the lower place. You have

a great deal to contribute. You have already as a Senator for Western Australia, and as Member for Curtin I know you will . carry on the traditions of this electorate and contribute to the value of the work that the Liberal Party does in Canberra and the Government generally in advancing the interests of this State and of the whole Commonwealth. So, good fortune to y ou. I would like to say you are welcomed by all your colleagues when that victory runs up. I

I am not quite sure you are having a campaign opening over here, because I am sure in the electorate of Curtin you know what it is all about. But if you ever needed reminding, Bill Hayden got up a couple of days ago and he said - if I could (inaudible) - he

said something like this: "you know, the Labor Party is at fault because we have been trying to hide the fact that we are really rampant socialists. We have been trying to pretend over the last few elections that we are reasonable, sensible, moderate people

and not really socialists at all. That really, of course, is why we have been done in the elections three times"- and three of the greatest victories that we have ever had. But now, he says, since we've done three times on that platform, we are going to

come out and proclaim the fact that we.really are socialists after all. With all the objectives of socialism, with all the policy of socialism, proclaimed in the loudest and hardest way that has ever been proclaimed in Australia. We'll let them .

just have a general election on that platform and I'm not sure there would be a Labor member left in the Parliament. That mightn't really be a good thing for Democracy. But it really was a remarkable speech for somebody to come out and say, 'well we've got to be extreme, we've got to be socialists and double

socialists and that's the way we are going to go to another election.

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I don't know whether he was really aiming at us or at Bob Hawke, or the Labor Party or whatever but it was in fact I think a timely reminder. That of course would stop this State dead, as they stopped Western Australia and Australia dead in the years from 172 to '75. Well, Sir Charles Court's policies and

the Federal Governments policies have got Australia moving in a way which is the envy of nearly every advanced industrial country around the world. You know one of the remarkable things about this, people can now see that this State is going

to move forward in the most remarkable way. And then you get some people saying that there may be too much development, do you think we can manage it it's going to have a lot of

problems. Well if there are problems with development, problems with progress give me those any day compared to the problems of stagnation of going backwards, the kind of problems the '

Labor Party landed this country with. And that the policies that Sir Charles supports and that are supported by the Commonwealth.

There is a great future for Australia. We are on the threshold of the greatest developmental age that this country has ever seen. It'll beat the gold rushes of the 50's , 1850's not the 1950's. It'll beat the development period of the 1950's

and 60's and there are opportunities available in Australia which are not matched by any other advanced industrial country.

And that's already been seen in the figures. Employment is growing strongly. Investment is growing even more strongly, and where the rest of the industrial world is standing still or going backwards. Gernany, which has been held up as one country

that has been well managed is expected to have no growth in its economy in 1981. But this economy, Western Australia, Australia, is going to grow strongly. Our inflation rate - the newspapers are not always right, but there was a great headline in one of the Eastern newspapers two or three weeks ago, they said Australia's inflation, third lowest in the Western world. Well, they were not quite right, but the thrust of what that headline says was right. Our inflation is amongst the lowest. That is held up as a beacon

right around the world. When people come into my office with funds to invest, they might well say there are only two countries in the world that I am prepared to invest in. One might be Germany, and another might be Australia. Now, this is all a

remarkable change from the years - just five, six, seven years ago - but it does not happen by accident. It happens because we pursue the policies that are right. It happens because we have a concern for individual people. It happens because we support

and encourage private enterprise, that believe people that make profits are the right people. There is not much point in making losses and there is no credit in making losses. Governments do not

get any taxes out of it and people get no employment out of it, . .

and profit is not a dirty word in our vocabulary. What has happened over the last five years has been a remarkable transformation in Australia, and over the next decade there are the opportunities

to build upon that in a way that has never been equalled in Australia, and that over that period will not be matched by any other country.

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But over this period we are going to be judged on what we do, judged on the decisions that we take. I believe that the people of Australia will want to know that the decisions we take are durable. That they are policies not for a week or a month or a year, that they are policies whose benefits will be seen through

the whole community over a period of time. I think people will want to know that we form our policies against our philosophy; that our policies are consistent with that philosophy, based on

private enterprise, based on a concern for individual people, and based on a concern for those who need particular help because they are disadvantaged and need special help from a State or from the Federal Government.

We have to have it understood, not just amongst the members of the Liberal Party in Curtin, but throughout the whole electorate, throughout the whole State, the whole Commonwealth, that our policies are offering a way of life. I know you can go through an election on the basis of the fact that we can offer a lower Consumer Price Index, or higher growth in productivity, or more

investment. That is one kind of measure of what we are about because we can and do achieve these things. But beyond that, the Liberal Party has an idea of the importance of people within this community, of each man and of each woman and of all children. Our

policies must be directed to their advantage and to their benefit. It is the importance of each individual, the knowledge that in the eyes of Government each individual matters, that we do offer a way of life that cannot be matched by any other political party in this country. If we can have that understood right around

Australia, I think our majorities in the States, and our majorities in the Commonwealth will be much more secure that if we just do it on the mechanical, technical fact that we can offer a higher material standard of living.

Perhaps I can emphasise the importance of this in another w ay. The last Federal election - if it was like any election that had gone before - I believe was like the one in 1954 when I stood for Wannon and lost by 17. Sir Robert Menzies w o n , ultimately, by a majority of three or four, and a very small margin indeed of a few hundred votes. It was a difficult election. It was five years

after the Labor Party had been kicked out and the Government had had to take many difficult decisions to draw Australia back from the brink of a very real disaster. But then after 1954, it was not the knowledge of Liberal positive so much that ensured the continuity

of that Government, but the total disaster of the'Labor Party falling apart with the anti-communists and the Labor Party and the rest of it having their own arguments which thoroughly disgusted the whole Australian electorate. Therefore, the Government majorities were secure. In a real sense we won not just on the positives of

that Government, but on the negatives of the Australian Labor Party. Well, I believe that there are going to be considerable attempts to paint the Labor Party as a reasonable, responsible, respectable alternative, even in spite of that speech of Mr. Hayden's, over

the next two or three years. And that we have to be prepared to win the next Federal election on the positives of the Liberal Party alone, and have those positives understood in such a way that it does not matter if people are prepared to say and concede that

the Labor Party is even a responsible and strong and united opposition, that even if they concede that so the Government has so performed for the people of Australia that there is no option but to vote for the Government.

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I think that is the challenge for the Government. I think that is the challenge for all members of the Liberal Party over the next three years; to have that understood.

It is not necessarily going to be a particularly easy fight. There will be a number of diversions along the way. I would like to instance the way those diversions can arise and the way some Liberals even themselves can fall for the diversion. We announced

- Ian Viner and Wal Fife - about a month ago that we were going to try and plan a new deal for 16 and 17 year olds who were getting, as we believed, a very rough time in Australian schools with not much chance of getting jobs when they leave school at the age of

15 or 16 or 17. The newspapers came out and said "Government plans to end the dole for 16 or 17 year olds". And friends and foes tended to say "well, you know, what a terrible thing". But it would have been reasonable enough to expect that commentators and critics and members of the Labor Party even, might show some kind of realistic concern for the problems of 16 or 17 year olds and not just to play politics with a very real human issue.

Of course, the facts are that a lot of kids go through school not finding a curriculum that suits their needs and their talents - and the Schools Commission itself has demonstrated that

now in its most recent report - and that there is a very real need for schools to change what they do to appeal not to just to those who can go to universities and colleges, but to the great majority of school children who do not end up in university and

colleges but who might be pretty good at some kind of technical or vocational training - which is not done in most schools at the present time.

What we said in that press statement that Ian Viner and Wal Fife put out was that we wanted to make sure there would be courses for all 16 and 17 year olds that met their talents and their inclinations, so that the system would not fail them as it does how. We said we wanted to look at the allowances that would be paid to low income families to make sure that if their kids did

stay at school longer, they would not be unreasonably hurt. Then, we said, those things being done, we wanted the Australian community and Governments to ask themselves whether unemployment benefits should still be available as an option. I think in the

circumstances that that would be a very real question indeed. But, when that statement was issued, people did not look at the issues. There was a knee-jerk reaction - what a terrible thing to even consider, ending unemployment benefits-without looking at the real issues and the real concern that I believe the Government was showing for the people involved; a much greater concern that

that which was exhibited by the critics themselves. That, if you like, is just an example of the way in which the Liberal Party is going to have to be prepared to stay on track on what it believes to be right, and not to be diverted by criticism or by editorials or whatever' it might be, or by comments from the Labor Party, because they appear to be advocating a more popular course in

the short term. Because I have not the slightest doubt what the Government is about is right for the people concerned.

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6 Curtin

Sir Charles, Allan Rocher and ladies and gentlemen, there is a role for all of us. This by election is important because it is important that Allan Rocher be returned with a good majority. Why should not it be a bigger majority than it was in the Federal election? Curtin, I do not think does anything necessarily

the way other electorates do. So, why should it not be normal for Curtin in a by election to increase the Government's majority rather than to do what other electorates and to reduce it a b it. That is a challenge. But it is also important that this

organisation, the Liberal Party, the greatest political organisation this country has ever or will ever see, keep its Members of Parliament - whether they are in the State, if I may say so Sir Charles, or in the Federal Parliament - properly attuned to your wishes, to your concerns, to the needs of your own families, because that is a vital part of our knowledge, of our background when we are making decisions that are going to influence and

affect all Australians. .

But the most important thing for the Liberal Party is something that I said when I began. We have been successful because we have been able to have a united view, because there has been support from the rank and file members of the Party - even when they have

felt sometimes that their politicians were wrong. All right, you grumble to me - you never grumble to Sir Charles I am sure - but you grumble to me and you can tell me that I am wrong. But do

it within the Party. For the wider world we are one Party, one team, one ideal and one philosophy, and it is the only philosophy that will advance Curtin, Western Australia and the whole Australian nation. That, Allan Rocher, for the people of Curtin,

is going to be entrusted to you. It is a very precious trust indeed and I know you will discharge it well.

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