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Leader of the Federal Parliament Labor Party



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EXTRACTS FROM A SPEECH AT THE TASMANIAN A.L.P. CONFERENCE, DEVONPORT, TASMANIA.

4 MARCH 1973 , BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON.E.G.WHITLAM, ____________________ Q.C., M.P.___________________________

LEADER OF THE FEDERAL PARLIAMENTARY LABOR PARTY

Exactly six years ago - 16 March 1967 - I made my first address to an A.L.P. Conference as the Party's leader, here at Devonport.

It was ^ critical time in the history and fortunes of our Party. We had just emerged from our worst defeat. There were people inside and outside the Party who genuinely questioned whether the A.L.P. could _

long endure. -I said then : " - There are literally millions of

ordinary Australians who wish profoundly to see a Labor Government in Canberra; there are thousands who are willing to work actively to secure that Government; there are hundreds

upon hundreds who want to give their time, ideas, energy and money towards it. No party is so rich in its potential resources. It is our duty to encourage, develop and use those human resources of energy and goodwill. " That was what I set out to do. My gratitude is deep and my debt immense to all those who joined in that great crusade - for it was nothing less than that.

The role of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Branch and my colleagues from Tasmania has been decisive.

a) First there is my personal and political debt to Lance Barnard b/ The Tasmanian Branch was the first to support my efforts to secure re-organisation

of the party structure, and Tasmania gave unwavering support at every stage, culminating in the great re-construction in the two great mainland States. This was

the key to victory.

c) Eric Reece's smashing victory last April set the pace of Labor's national march for the rest of the year. From that time on, _ we never looked back.

d) The magnificent Tasmanian performance in the House of Representatives elections - a clean . sweep - clinched the victory.

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; ' I may say in passing that there is cold

comfort indeed for our opponents in their claim that the swing to Labor was not so great after all. This is true only in relation to the great gains we made in 1969 - 17 seats with a massive swing of 7%. The

1972 election was in essence the last round in a six-year battle, and our share of the 1972 vote after preferences was in fact greater - 52% as against 51% - than the Liberal-Country Party achieved under Menzies in 1949.

We now look to a great future, for our country, and for our Party. Hard as the past years may have been, they have had one great advantage. We were able to use those years - preparing relevant and modern policies. No Australian Government has come to office so well

equipped with men and measures for the great tasks ahead. That is why we have been able to move so swiftly in the first few weeks. , We did not wake up to find ourselves in office and then wondering "Well, what do we do now ?" We knew exactly what we wanted to do and exactly what the

people wanted us to do. The Parliament which has just opened will be the great Reform Parliament in Australian history. It has a double task - to clear away the backlog of the past

23 years and to build new machinery adequate for the needs and hopes of Australians for the rest of this century and beyond.