Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Prime Minister's address to Young Liberals Foundation, Brisbane

Download PDFDownload PDF



This is an important occasion, and it is an important one not just because it is within a day or two of 30 years of the assumption of office in 1949 which led to the greatest period of growth and stability and development that Australia has ever

seen, but it is five more years, 35 years, since the foundation of the greatest political party that Australia has ever seen.

When the Liberal Party was formed in 1946, it was formed to make sure that the anti-socialist course could be strongly and powerfully represented. It was formed to make sure that those of liberal ideas and liberal view were able to express themselves

and had their expression of policy and philosophy carried through into the Federal political domain, and into a Federal Government.

Before the formation of the Liberal Party, I think it is worth recalling that there have been one or two divisions and difficulties for those who are a little older than myself - if you can remember it. Those divisions and difficulties within the Party and within the Federal Coalition had led to defeat during the War and defeat in 1943, to defeat in 1946. Sir Robert Menzies

spoke before the formation of the Liberal Party of the way in which the Labor Party was powerfully placed to inflict defeat upon defeat.on the divided and pragmatic anti-socialist forces. I think something like 14 parties - it might have been more -

but at least 14 - recognised that and recognised that while the State parties were going to remain in the Federal tradition, independent State parties in a sense, they became part of a great Federal Liberal Party of Australia in the tradition of the Federation of the Commonwealth. That movement was rewarded four or five years later with victory in 1949 with the presentation of Liberal.philosophy and policy and all the history that we know

since. .

While obviously as decades change policies change from the things we need to do are different as the challenges of the times march on, the basic philosophy of our Party and the basic attitudes to liberalism remains, .1 think, very much as it was. The

pre-eminence of people, the concern for individuals, and the belief and faith that governments ought not to be too large. What is important in society is people and being able to work out their future in their way.

For year after year, the Party carried through to victory after victory, building on what it had achieved and doing great things for Australia and for those of our philosophy. But then, something began to happen a little. In the early 1970's, what was it? Were we complacent? Did we believe that economic growth and

stability could go forward no matter even if we didn't pay adequate attention to it? Did we believe that other concerns that seemed to become more evident in people's minds in those years could replace.our paramount concern for commonsense and for stability and for strength in the economic management and the sensible running of this nation? .

. . ./2


I think we became a little complacent. I think we became a little apathetic in the years 1971 to 1972. I am certain that we underestimated the socialist threat. I do not believe there would be a person in this room who would believe that what happened in three years of Labor would be as damaging,

destructive, destroying, if they had been asked the question in 1972: could three years of Labor possibly do such great and enormous and devastating damage which they did in fact achieve. I think we all underestimated that. But we ought never to underestimate it again. We have been warned. We have been told at the Adelaide Conference that their Utopian fantasies,

to desire for bigger government, their determination to place powerful trade unions right above the law, their lack of concern with inflation which even such like Mr. Hawke called a gutless sell-out to the left. All of these things would spell disaster

and death for Australia if they were ever given an opportunity to give effect to those policies again.

They want to return to the past. They have no vision for the future whatsoever. So it is for the Liberal Party, in the 80s and beyond, the future and show really what this nation can become.

There are many countries around the world at the moment facing enormous difficulty. But I believe the prospects for the 80s in Australia are prospects of confidence, excitement, enthusiasm, it could even be the whole decade of the century; the best decade of all the decades of this century, because there are great opportunities opening in front of us. It is now

recognised, not only in Australia but it is recognised in North America, it is recognised in Europe and in Britain, that this country is well run. That is has sound and stable economic policy. You might say "What does that mean. It doesn't mean anything to us what they think is a good thing,

the way we are run". But it does, because we have energy that the world needs and coal and uranium. We have great supplies of minerals that the world needs. With the investment

that these things can attract, so long as our economic policies are soundly based, then we can do great things with Australia in the ten years ahead of us and going beyond that.

The basic ingredients are a sound and stable economic policy which keeps our policies more firmly based, more strictly run, with inflation below that of our major trading partners, so we are competitive and effective. Sound economic policies

and then bringing together cheaper supplies of energy, coal-based electricity, more processing of minerals, greater export of minerals and of energy and the capacities of the Australian people, the imagination and ingenuity of the Australian people.

bringing all these things together means that there is a future ahead of this nation which I believe might well be shared with very few and vast industrial countries wherever they may be. Therefore I believe we can face the end of this decade and the beginning of the next with great and enormous confidence.

I think there would be something wrong with us if we didn't have that confidence.

. . ./3


Young Liberals, who have organised this function, are very much the heirs apparent. Not only to the Liberal Party, but heirs apparent to the future of this nation, because we do not build just for ourselves, we build for what is going to

happen in the decades to come.

I think it is worth recording that many of the battles that we have to face can only be won for our time. They have to be re-fought, re-won, in the next decade and the generations beyond. The arguments over industrial relations — you can win the battle today or next year, but there will still be a

fight over the matters and the arguments in the years ahead.

We need to curb inflation. We can win the battle for our time, but if you relax in the years ahead, the enemy will get away from you once again. The fight for freedom, for the kind of liberal philosophy that we believe in — we could win for our

time. It is to young Liberals and to others to carry it on at some later stage. Because if we in the Liberal Party ever relax in our faith and our philosophy and our determination and dedication,in all things to place Australia above everything else

in this nation, if we ever relax in our determination to do that, then we face the prospect of a Labor Party once again governing in this country. I would believe that if they ever did it again with the kind of policies they have and with the

kind of people they have — well, I think you would probably be underestimating the damage they would do, just as it was underestimated in- the year up to the 'election; in 1972.

I think the changes might well be so great, the kind of free, liberal society that we believe in, in which people are pre-eminent, would never again find a place in Australia.

I think it is worth recording that one of the reasons we lost in 1972, apart from a certain losing of the way, was some very j . evident and public divisions within the governing parties in x Canberra. One of the reasons we lost in 1974 was because after

the defeat of 1972, we had no Coalition in Canberra, no Coalition at all. ■•• It· was formed shortly before the 1974" election, but the people were not convinced that the problems of division had adequately been overcome and so Labor was then returned

in 1974. .

In 1975 and 1977, we presented the Australian people with the most effective Coalition, and as I believe the most harmonious Coalition that this nation has ever had, that we had ever been part of, in all the years of our history, that we had a result

commensurate with the state of the Coalition and two elections in which the majorities were bigger than any that I think even Don Cameron might have predicted.

For the future, can I say to all of you, and to Young Liberals in particular, about the future we need to be positive and optimistic and imaginative, because we have every reason for confidence in this nation so long as we maintain confidence

in ourselves and our capacities. We need to accept tomorrow's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities. To know that the problems and questions we will have to resolve will be different from those of the past, but again confident in ourselves we can match whatever the challenge might be. . . ,/4


We have to maintain the most vehement attack on the excesses of socialism and never let up in our pursuit of a free liberal society. We need to challenge Labor's promises of reward without effort as a false and alien philosophy that has no place in the minds and hearts of Australians. We need to make liberalism the driving political force of

the decade immediately above us and in the years beyond to the year 2,000 and well beyond that. .

Thank you very much for asking Tamie and myself to come to this function with you tonight, and I am particularly pleased to be able to have done so, since it is the 30th anniversary of assumption of government, or near enough. . within a day or two,

the 35th anniversary of a formation of the greatest political party that this nation has .seen and which must be in our purpose to carry on, not just for the future of the Liberal Party, but because of the future of Australia and the service

that we in this Party must provide to what I believe is the best free nation of them all. ‘

— 000 —