It’s . e m i t
Back to Blacktown Australian Fabian News Vol 52, No3/4, 2012 ISSN 1448-210X Read online at www.fabian.org.au
40 years ago, at the Blacktown Civic Centre, Gough Whitlam announced: “Men and women of Australia”
Jonathan Biggins, (photographer, Sally Tsoutas for the University of Western Sydney, background image courtesy Fairfax Syndication)
A celebration of the speech that changed a nation Bowman Hall, Blacktown Civic Centre 13 November 2012
Australian Fabians Inc Patron The Hon Edward Gough Whitlam AC, QC
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Foreword Eric Sidoti, Director, Whitlam Institute 3
Eric Sidoti, Director, Whitlam Institute
Official welcome Professor Janice Reid AM, Vice-Chancellor, University of Western Sydney
The night, the party, the people The Hon Bob Hawke AC
Blacktown, 13 November 2012 Graham Freudenberg AM
‘It’s time’ Patricia Amphlett OAM (Little Pattie) and the Campbelltown Performing Arts High School Choir 10 Anniversary of Labor’s 1972 Campaign Launch Senator the Hon John Faulkner 11 Colin Jacobsen (Col Joye) AM and Patricia Amphlett (Little PattiE) OAM interviewed by Jonathan Biggins 15 ‘Back when we were beautiful’ And ‘Gough’ Performed by Tim Freedman 18 Men and women of Australia The Hon Edward Gough Whitlam AC, QC 18
It’s . time
Read the speeches, watch the videos
We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Whitlam Institute, and Fairfax Syndication in the production of this special edition of the Australian Fabian News.
Publication information: This edition Vol 52 No 3/4, 2012 ISSN 1448-210X Australian Fabians Inc ©2013 ABN: 32 959 088 931
Disclaimer: Views expressed by individual contributors to the Australian Fabian News are not necessarily endorsed by the Australian Fabians Inc
When Pauline Gambley contacted us to suggest that the Australian Fabians would like to publish a special edition of the Australian Fabian News on the Whitlam Institute’s Back to Blacktown celebration, there was no need for even a moment’s hesitation. I thought nothing could be more appropriate. While Gough Whitlam is Patron of the Australian Fabians, his engagement with ideas and representative democracy and reform have been interwoven with the Fabians since his earliest days in the Parliament. “Labor and the Constitution”, his first pamphlet for the Victorian Fabian Society (a copy of which resides in the Whitlam Institute’s Prime Ministerial Collection), remains a powerful articulation of the evolution of his own thinking on the Constitution which was the bedrock of the Whitlam Program. That pamphlet brought three Whitlam addresses under one cover: his Chifley Memorial Lecture of 1957 entitled “The Constitution versus Labor”; his Curtin Memorial Lecture of 1961 on “Socialism within the Australian Constitution”; and his 1963 address to the A.L.P. Conference on “Labor Powers”. Gough addressed Fabian forums on a number of occasions and readily acknowledged the Fabian contribution to the labour movement generally and to the Whitlam Government more particularly. Indeed, in his 7 June 1986 address to the Fabian Society Dinner in Melbourne he went so far as to acknowledge that “if it were not for the Fabians and the Fabian ideal in Victoria there may not have been a Whitlam Government”. This edition of Australian Fabian News comes to us then as the latest exchange in a conversation that has spanned decades. When we first floated the idea of returning to Bowman Hall in the Blacktown Civic Centre for a simple dinner to mark the fortieth anniversary of Gough’s landmark ’72 campaign policy speech, we had not fully appreciated the enthusiasm with which it would be met. While it is true that senior Labor figures and the party faithful were well represented, the occasion attracted a much broader group: those who may have been there on that night, including at least one former Liberal parliamentarian; artists, historians, representatives from various cultural institutions; the curious and the committed. Plenty of grey hair to be sure but a number of the younger politically minded and more than a few families.
It’s . e m i t
It was an opportunity to acknowledge not just Gough but the broader Whitlam team many of whom were in attendance: Tom Uren, the late Bill Morrison, Graham Freudenberg, Race Mathews, John Menadue, Stephen FitzGerald, Barbara Stuart, Carol Summerhayes among them. Doug McClelland and Les Johnson sent their apologies with a message that read in part “We were at Blacktown that famous night and we will never forget the spirit of the occasion and the electricity that prevailed the whole evening. It was a night we will always remember.”
The night took as its theme ‘the speech that changed a nation’ and our focus was as much about contemporary Australia as it was about the remembering. The speeches given that night, collected here, are remarkable for that very reason as they draw on the historical roots to illuminate the present. Just read the closing paragraph of Graham Freudenberg’s beautifully crafted address and you will know what I mean. Gough has always reminded us that social reform is a constant endeavour and it demands the working and re-working of policies and programs if it is to retain a contemporary relevance. The Whitlam Institute’s roots are deep within the social democratic tradition. Our job is not to preserve the past but, in all its beauty and occasional ugliness, to let it live and enlighten our understanding of our nation today. It is our job to do the hard yards in bringing intellectual depth and rigour to the formation of public policy. It is our job to nurture civil and robust public discourse. And it is our job to educate, to excite and to engage with young Australians and the community on our history and on the policy challenges of the present. That November night in Blacktown though, perhaps more than anything else, was for us a reminder of that most basic of ingredients when it comes to social reform. It is that fire in the belly that compels us to stay the course. PS If you want to know more about the Whitlam Institute and what we’re up to then do sign up to our It’s Time e-mag by going to our website www.whitlam.org
It’s . time
Official welcome Professor Janice Reid AM, Vice-Chancellor, University of Western Sydney
of Australia’s urban fringes, and for the people of Greater Western Sydney more specifically. Our university footprint is not too dissimilar from that of the seat of Werriwa, which Gough won, of course, in 1952.
is reflected in its growing and deepening public policy program. Engagement also means embedding ourselves in the community, and the institute’s education and outreach activities are breaking new ground in doing precisely that.
The Whitlam Institute is treasured by the university. The Prime Ministerial collection has grown to many thousands of items, and I’m told will be gifted another 200 boxes of materials from Mr Whitlam very soon. Among the growing number of donors to the collection, there are several here tonight. Graham Freudenberg has donated his papers. Bill and Marty Morrison not only donated relevant papers, but earlier this year, four wonderful sketches by Bruce Petty. Carol Summerhayes is not only donating her notebooks, in perfect Summerhayes shorthand, but, for those of us who don’t read shorthand, is transcribing them for the future benefit of readers as well.
This evening resonates strongly with all of these elements. More than this, it is an evening for storytelling, celebration and reflection. It’s an evening in which we celebrate the speech that changed the nation, and are reminded that our democracy is large enough and tough enough to embrace us all.
Our university is an engaged university, and that means in part, actively encouraging our scholars to involve themselves in public discourse and policy development. The institute is emblematic in that respect, and its commitment to the contemporary relevance of the causes that Gough championed,
So on behalf of the University of Western Sydney and the board of the Whitlam Institute, it’s my great, great pleasure to welcome you all ‘Back to Blacktown’. Thank you.
Professor Janice Reid AM, Jonathan Biggins and Patricia Amphlett OAM (photographer, Sally Tsoutas for the University of Western Sydney)
Thank you. The Honourable Bob Hawke, members of the Whitlam family, former ministers, staff and advisors of the Whitlam team, the Honourable Simon Crean and those serving, and former representatives present this evening. Senator the Honourable John Faulkner and my fellow members of the Whitlam Institute board, our special guests, all distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. On this night, exactly 40 years ago, Gough Whitlam committed his government to legislating to give the Aboriginal people land rights. Not just, he said, because their case is beyond argument, but because all of us as Australians are diminished while the Aborigines are denied their rightful place in this nation. I might mention that a year later, as the Outstation Movement gained pace, Gawirrin Gumana said to me in Yirrkala in Arnhem Land, if it wasn’t for Mr Whitlam, we could never have gone home. It seems proper and appropriate on this night especially, that I, on behalf of us all, acknowledge the Dharawal people, the traditional owners
of the lands on which we gather, and pay our respects to elders past and present. I pay my respects also to those Aboriginal friends and Torres Strait Islanders who may be among us this evening. It’s 12 years now since Gough Whitlam and the University of Western Sydney formally agreed to establish the Whitlam Institute within our university. I thought at the time, and have become the more convinced since, that there could be no more proper home for such a vitally important national institution. Our university is grounded in Gough’s vision for the people
Bowman Hall, Blacktown Civic Centre (photographer, Sally Tsoutas for the University of Western Sydney)
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The night, the party, the people The Hon Bob Hawke AC
The Hon Bob Hawke AC (photographer, Sally Tsoutas for the University of Western Sydney, background image courtesy Fairfax Syndication)
Thank you Jonathan, Vice Chancellor, members of the Whitlam family, members of Gough’s government, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Well, I was given the title of The night, the party, the people. Really, it’s impossible to find words that can convey to you tonight – although you may have got some sense of it from the film – it’s almost impossible to convey the sense of what was almost a feverish excitement and anticipation. We were assembled here in a room which was, I believe, supposed to hold about a thousand. There were a thousand and a half crammed into it, and hundreds outside. It was just seething with excitement. The crowd was made up of ordinary, committed Labor Party members, trade unionists, but we were also joined by some illustrious colleagues from the screen and stage, the literary, artistic, and the sporting world. Without being exhaustive, we had author Tom Keneally, we had painter Clifton Pugh, we had Bert Newton, Bobby Limb,
Col Joye, Little Patty – and it’s good to have some of those here tonight. And, for those of you with any sporting memory, there was also Bill Lawry, the former Australian cricket captain from Victoria. So there was the faithful, but all these people from leading parts of our cultural and our sporting world, coming here into this hall to share, as I say, this great sense of excitement. And when Gough came up to the microphone, all of us – and he came up to this well lit stage – all of us had the feeling that we could see at last the light at the end of that long, dark, tunnel of 23 years of devastatingly misguided and disastrous Tory rule. 23 years which had seen privilege propped up, and the poor, and the needy, and the disadvantaged ignored. 23 years in which we’d seen over 500 fine Australian lives lost in that futile and misrepresented
war in Vietnam – for which the conservatives have never apologised. All those dark days of deprivation and misguided priorities. We sitting down there could see now this light at the end of the tunnel.
gold standard of Labor into actuality in our life. And I know that all of you would join with me in asking the members of the Whitlam family to convey to Gough our love and our gratitude for all that he did.
Now Gough began what was I think unquestioningly the greatest opening election speech in our Federal history. Gough began that speech with borrowed coin: ‘men and women of Australia’. That rousing opening phrase was of course precisely the phrase that had been used nearly 30 years before when John Curtin, that great Labor figure in 1943, opened the 1943 election campaign. But from those opening words we were presented with a new and compelling currency of policies and ideas that were spelled out so compellingly and eloquently by Gough. So much so that within a very short time this new currency had become the currency of the political marketplace in Australia. The currency in so many ways was new, but it was based on the old gold standard. That gold standard of course was the traditional labour values that had lasted throughout the decades. Those basic labour values that established the gold standard for Labor were: the equality of opportunity, particularly as Gough emphasised, in education; was the concept and belief that was always a foundational role for government in assisting the least fortunate in society; and there was the belief that it was the responsibility of government to assist in the development of our resources so that there could be the greatest possible stimulus and encouragement to economic growth and to employment. Those were the great, solid labour values which constituted the gold standard for Labor.
The second point I’d make is the least important of the three, but I like to make it because, you know, politics has changed in many ways, but one of the ways it’s changed, which I regret so deeply, is that no more do we have those great public meetings like we had in ‘72. Why is that? Because of bloody television. You can have, and what was happening, we were having meetings with a thousand, two thousand people there, 99.5% who were one thousand percent behind you, but you’d have a group of people come determined to disrupt. The television would concentrate on them, so all you got from these public meeting was this negative sort of projection. And in the end, both sides of politics found that these public meetings were counter-productive. I think this is one of the great losses of public political life in this country.
Now it’s not part of my brief tonight, ladies and gentlemen, to explain that currency in detail that Gough laid out – that currency, the new currency of the new policies and the new programs. It’s rather to explain to you the feeling of the night. But you could gather, I think, from the opportunity of having watched that film, you can gather just how brilliantly and eloquently, and yet directly and plainly Gough spelled out the details of this new currency. But rather, I want if I can, to convey to you that we were at once, all of us here in this hall, we were at once transfixed, we were excited, and overall were eager to get going and do our part as soon as we could to help Gough deliver the new and vibrant Australia which he had shown we were capable of becoming. There’s three points I like to make in closing. The first, of course, is just a word about Gough. I had the opportunity of seeing Gough the other day on the occasion of his 96th birthday. Of course, as we know, he’s not at the top of his powers, but that spirit is still there, and it’s impossible I think to convey – and I hope all the members of the family understand this – I think it’s impossible to convey the debt that we owe to Gough, not just for that great speech on that great occasion, but for what he did to organise and discipline our party so that through his leadership we were able to transform those great values, of the
The final point I like to make is this my friends. I think the lesson we’ve got to learn from this experience of ‘72, before and after, is the continuing challenge of adapting our gold standard of values to changing circumstances. And of course not just a challenge of adapting our gold standard of values to those changing circumstances, but over time, adding to those values that make up our gold standard. And remember how we’ve done this over recent decades. I point to two additions to those basic values that have driven us in the past. The first of course is in relation to discrimination. We’d had the ‘White Australia’ policy. In that period from ’43 onwards, and under Gough, and then myself and others, we now have, as a fundamental value of Labor, the absolute opposition to any form of discrimination based on sex, race or creed. And, of course, the other area in which we’ve created a new value, of course, is in regard to our embrace of the environment. We are no longer a party that thinks simply of growth for growth’s sake. That we know we have a responsibility to this generation and future generations to talk about sustainable growth. So let me conclude, let me conclude my dear friends, by saying that we should, I believe, and can best honour Gough, 1972, and that great occasion 40 years ago today, we can best honour Gough, in my judgement, by rekindling in our hearts the enthusiasm of that night 43 (sic) years ago, and by recommitting ourselves unreservedly to those basic and great values of Labor’s gold standard.
It’s . time
Blacktown, 13 November 2012 GRAHAM FREUDENBERG AM
the speech: “We are coming into government after 23 years of opposition. The program is ambitious. It has to be so, it should be so, because the backlog is so great. And we cannot expect to clear away that backlog in three months or even three years.” Little did he think then that we would be returning to Blacktown for another policy speech, and another election, in 18 months – or that, despite winning a second election in May 1974, three years would be all that we would have. But the overwhelming thing about that night was the absolute certainty and conviction that those 23 years were over and a new era was beginning. And it’s no wonder that, in seeking the proper opening for this speech, we reached back beyond those 23 years to the greatest of them all. And although the first five words are now indelibly associated with Gough and the Blacktown Policy Speech, he has always acknowledged that it was John Curtin, in his broadcast to the nation on the night of Pearl Harbour and in his Policy Speech in the Melbourne Town Hall for the 1943 election, who began with the unforgettable words: Men and women of Australia. After that, the rest was easy. It did fall to me to put the material together. Perhaps I added a touch of rhetoric, borrowing from all those authors and orators I’ve been plagiarising for 50 years – Lincoln (“malice towards none”), Churchill and the rest. But effectively Gough had been writing this speech for five years, or longer.
Graham Freudenberg AM (photographer, Sally Tsoutas for the University of Western Sydney)
The “It’s Time” campaign committee met early in October 1972 and the Federal Secretary, the great, beloved and ever-missed Mick Young, announced the venue and date for the Policy Speech. It would be here at Blacktown, on 13 November. Everyone agreed, of course – Mick was running the show. And I said: “So it’s the 13th. I’m glad nobody here’s superstitious.” That’s not to say that some of us didn’t have our little rituals and superstitions. Gough, for instance, over the years, had developed a habit of touching me on the shoulder for luck, just when he was about to deliver any big speech we had worked on together. So, just before he made the grand entrance into this hall – I stayed in the Mayor’s room to watch the live television, and perhaps have a beer and a cigarette or two – he duly touched me on the shoulder and said: “It’s been a long road, comrade, but I think we’re there”. And so we were.
In the weeks before 13 November, if the colleagues were brave enough to inquire what might be in the policy speech, Gough would reply: “Well, comrade, read the platform”. Which was easy enough for him to say, seeing that he had re-written most of it himself at the Conferences of 1967, 1969 and 1971. But it’s a reminder that this speech was truly a collective effort, and it truly belonged to the whole Labor Party. Here I pay special tribute to Race Mathews. His contribution to policy development was immense and indispensable.
But that long road wasn’t just the nearly six years Gough had been Leader of the Party – or even the 12 years since he had become Deputy Leader. The longest road of all was those 23 years in opposition since Menzies defeated Chifley in 1949 – truly, for much of them at any rate, the years in the wilderness.
It’s also a reminder of how seriously we all took the policy speech in those days. The Policy Speech has been one of the great Australian political institutions. It has no equal in the other democracies. As the campaign opener, it was as Australian as “They’re off in the Melbourne Cup”.
In fact, no one in this room that night under the age of 47 had voted to see the return of a Federal Labor Government – nine successive defeats after 1946.
I cannot but think it a great loss to Australian politics and, indeed, to Australian governance, that the Policy Speech has been delayed and downgraded in the age of twitter and the 24/7 news cycle.
I can’t emphasise enough how much those 23 years influenced the content of this speech – and, it must be said, the conduct of the Whitlam Government. As Gough said towards the close of
So the It’s Time speech was consciously set in terms of a long tradition. It was not unique, but was special. It endures not only because it set out the program for the Whitlam Government,
but because it set, for the first time, the agenda on a range of issues – health, education, urban Australia, multicultural Australia, the environment, aboriginal land rights, a more independent foreign policy – which remained relevant for decades, and relevant still. And its over-arching theme: national responsibility and national solutions for national problems. Not that the people at Blacktown that night heard much of it. Nor did the people watching it live on TV at home – the ABC gave us half an hour. The printed document runs to some 42 pages in double space (2,000 words), all seven drafts typed flawlessly, as usual, as ever, by Carol Summerhayes – and she’s here. Gough’s reading copy we cut down to about 20 pages in large type. Barbara Stuart did that last-minute task - and she’s here. I think Gough got through about a third of that. But it was a marvellous start to a great campaign. And great fun. At one stage Mick Young had to warn us: ‘Go easy on the Billy McMahon jokes. You’re making people feel sorry for the little bloke.” But the momentum built up to the last triumphant crescendo at St Kilda Town Hall two nights before polling day. There were two main speakers – Gough and the President of the ACTU. I at least am on record as saying that there were two future Labor Prime Ministers on the stage of St Kilda town Hall that night. Gough make it in two days. Bob Hawke had to wait a bit longer. But it was worth it. And that’s the really important thing about tonight. Because what we are really celebrating is not just what happened here, in this room, 40 years ago. We are also celebrating what has happened in the 40 years after – unquestionably, the most important and successful years for the Labor Party and for Australia in our history. In the 71 years of Federation before 1972, we had been in power federally for a total of 17 years, winning five Federal elections. In the 40 years since, we have won nine Federal elections for a total of 21 years out of the 40 – 21 years that have transformed Australia. And that transformation began here on that night of 13 November 1972, forty years ago. In moments of discouragement or despondency, I always say: Try and recall what it was like in those 23 years before 1972. Then look at the last 40 years. When talking about policy, Gough’s favourite word is “relevance”. And when I think of those 40 years, with all their victories and defeats, achievements and set-backs, all the mistakes and self-inflicted wounds, I still believe Gough’s last words in this speech, in this hall, are as relevant as the glorious moment they were first uttered forty years ago: I do not for a moment believe that we should set limits on what we can achieve together, for our country, our people, our future.
Anniversary of Labor’s 1972 Campaign Launch John Faulkner, Labor Senator for NSW
It’s . time
Eric Sidoti, Tom Uren AC, Patrica Amphlett OAM and Tony Stephens (photographer, Sally Tsoutas for the University of Western Sydney)
IT’S Time VersE 1 Time for freedom Time for moving It’s time to begin Yes it’s time.
VersE 2 Time for old folks Time we loved more It’s time to care Yes it’s time.
VersE 4 Time for loving Time for caring It’s time to move Yes it’s time.
VersE 5 Time for better days to be here It’s time we moved Yes it’s time.
Written by Paul Jones and Mike Shirley Patricia Amphlett OAM (Little Pattie) and the Campbelltown Performing Arts High School Choir 10/24
VersE 3 Time for children Time to teach them It’s time it was free Yes it’s time.
It’s . time
Senator the Hon John Faulkner (photographer, Sally Tsoutas for the University of Western Sydney)
When Gough Whitlam strode onto the stage, here, on this day, in 1972 and addressed, with Curtin’s ringing exhortation, the ‘men and women of Australia’, I have little doubt that he had little doubt he was striding into the pages of Australian history as well. Yet, Gough’s superb and – usually – justified self-confidence aside, there was little reason to imagine that the words he spoke on this stage on that day would endure as they have in our political and popular imagination. That their message of hope and purpose would still have the power to make hearts beat a little faster four decades later. That they would echo down the years to move and inspire men and women of Australia not yet born when Labor won that 1972 election. There is a tide, as Shakespeare wrote, in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.1
And there is no doubt that there was a rising tide that lifted Labor, and Labor’s Leader, Gough Whitlam, in 1972. The cultural changes that swept the world in the 1960s, sharply contrasting with Australia’s long years of stultification under Menzies and his Liberal successors, made the 1972 campaign a pivotal point in not only Australia’s political landscape, but our social and cultural climate as well. There is no doubt, too, that much of that tide was the result of Gough’s hard work, and the hard work of all of us in Labor, in the months and years before – tapping into the public mood
There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; - Brutus Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224
for change, for modernity, and channelling it into the belief that a Labor government would provide that change and that modernity. So the 1972 launch speech was the culmination of years and years of work. By the time Gough strode into this hall, ‘it’s time’ was for many as much a statement of fact as an expression of political partisanship. It was a moment of great potential. And with his speech, Gough seized that moment. There is a power to a great political speech that no other creation of language has – no poem, no novel, no play, however dazzling, moving, or brilliant they may be. Not, by any means, all political speeches. Hundreds of thousands, millions of words are spoken every year around the world by politicians that are at best forgettable, and at worst, better forgotten. But those few which say exactly what must be said, at exactly the right time – when our elected representatives speak both to us and for us – inspire citizens and define nations. Lincoln’s Gettysburg address – Ben Chifley’s light on the hill – Churchill’s ‘never surrender’ – draw their power not only from the potency of their language, but also from the inextricable combination of authority and duty democracy bestows upon our leaders. We may be cynical about politics and politicians, we may be sceptical of the motives of those men and women who aspire to represent and to lead us – whether in Parliament, in community organisations and campaigns, or in social movements – but it is still their words which have the potential to express our aspirations, our beliefs, and our deepest sense of collective self.
But of all the occasions for political speechmaking which might provide that opportunity to seize the moment, to define the debate, to crystallise the argument, I think any politician would agree that a Leader’s policy speech is the least likely candidate. Of all types of political speeches, a Leader’s policy speech is the most meddled with, the most unwieldy, the least artistic. It is the camel of political speeches – designed by a committee. And that committee is often composed of Ministers, Premiers or State Opposition Leaders, party officials and advisors, all with their own opinions and their own priorities. On one particular occasion I still shudder to remember, that committee was composed of two people working until dawn the night before the policy speech was to be delivered. One of them was me. We lost that election. On another occasion, recounted by Graham Freudenberg in A figure of speech, a speechwriting committee was supplemented by South Australian premier Don Dunstan meeting Gough and Freudy at Adelaide airport and, using the hood of the Comcar as a desk, red-penning entire paragraphs and ripping out entire pages.2 Subject to multiple revisions and subservient to the need to shoehorn into its pages every skerrick of Party policy, often written and re-written under the shortening shadow of the deadline, while the crisis of the day – or the hour – intrudes on the Leader’s attention, the policy speech has to buck the longest odds to achieve greatness.
The political speech is the fusion of rhetoric with politics – politics, that ‘honourable profession’, as Gough has called it, through which we steer our country’s course, address our differences with ballots rather than bullets, and seek to meet the needs and unlock the aspirations of all in our community.
And yet it does not strike the ear as a shopping list of disparate policies, as so many such speeches do, from both sides of politics here in Australia and from political leaders around the world.
That vision is a grand one, but grand statements in political speeches are often disregarded as hollow rhetoric. What set Gough’s declaration of intent apart from so many others, what makes his speech so much more than a flourish of ideals, is the concrete, complex policy agenda that follows. And in that interplay between the idealistic and the pragmatic, the vision and the visible, lies the power and the greatness of this speech. The detailed policy makes Gough – and Labor’s – “three great aims” tangible and believable, while those great aims knit together seemingly disparate policy elements across the breadth and width of government. From Gough’s opening words on Australia’s “choice between the past and the future, between the habits and fears of the past, and the demands and opportunities of the future” to his final confident declaration that with the help of the Australian people, “I do not for a moment believe that we should set limits on what we can achieve, together, for our country, our people, our future”, no other speech could have served so perfectly the complex and competing demands a campaign launch brings.
As a speech launching an election campaign, it was a speech more purely about politics than perhaps any other. And it is a measure of the power of that vision, of those words, that it is impossible to read the speech today – as it was impossible, listening to it then – without believing once again that politics can and should serve our highest goals and not our basest interests. Much of what is written about the practice of political speechmaking these days is infused with an air of nostalgia, even eulogy. We live, we are told, in the age of ten-second sound-bites, not well-turned sentences. Commentators decry the prevalence of spin, of ‘lines of the day’, of communication professionals practiced in the dark arts of ‘the message’. Speechmaking, with its demands of eloquence and endurance, of reason and rhetoric, is supposedly a lost skill beyond the abilities of modern politicians, and outside the attention spans of today’s voters. It is unquestionably true that politicians today have many more ways to tell their fellow Australians what they believe, what they plan, and what they are doing, than did their predecessors. For generations, the political speech was the main and, aside from the occasional pamphlet pushed into a letter-box, the only way to persuade, to explain, to motivate.
It is not a short speech. (Few of Gough’s speeches ever are!) In its twenty-odd pages it canvasses – with what Clem Lloyd once termed Gough’s “remorseless didacticism” – Labor’s plans not only for health, education, defence and foreign affairs, but for local government and rates, sewerage, urban transport, telephone charges, insurance, wine, building costs – the list goes on.
Political speeches must take the tide at the flood.
and to liberate the talents and uplift the horizons of the Australian people.”
But in 1972, Gough’s speech transcended all of that.
Those who represent us accept both the right and the responsibility to speak for us as well. And, very often, they speak for us at the moments of our greatest triumphs and our sharpest grief; they both ask and seek to answer the most pressing questions of our age.
The political speech is designed for the moment of its delivery and it is shaped as much by its purpose as it is by its author. Paradoxically, no speech will stand the test of time unless it passes the test of its delivery.
It is bound together by a vision – a clear and a passionate vision – of a future Australia, an Australia in which all of these policies fit, and fit because they further the aims that Gough set out so memorably: •
“to promote quality
to involve the people of Australia in the decision-making processes of our land
Senator the Hon John Faulkner and Race Mathews (photographer, Sally Tsoutas for the University of Western Sydney)
A figure of speech, p 81
Now daily news and 24-hour news channels bring our words directly into the homes of millions each day, albeit for mere seconds at a time. The engaged citizen not only accepts but expects that their representatives will explain themselves on Twitter, and chronicle their work on Facebook and Instagram. And today, Australians have many more ways to inform and entertain themselves, without traipsing off to a school hall on a Tuesday night to hear a speech from their local MP or community activist. It has become accepted wisdom that attention spans today are too short, lives too busy, attitudes too cynical, for the soaring rhetoric and the detailed rationale of political speeches. But, and I think that recent weeks have made this case irrefutably, speeches that frame and are framed by key moments in our nation’s political and social life have not been made impossible or obsolete by new technologies and new ways to communicate. Rather, I think political speeches are potentially more powerful, and more important, than ever before. Today, two million people can see and hear a speech given in a venue that, physically, can hold only the tiniest fraction of that number. They can watch it and listen to it as it is given, or moments, or hours, or even months, later. Distance and the pressing demands of modern life are no longer a barrier to hearing our representatives set out, in their own voice, their values, their opinions, their reasons and their goals. The ‘Twitter generation’ is the YouTube generation as well.
Two million views of Prime Minister Gillard speaking in Parliament, one million in one day of President Obama speaking on election night last week, five and a half million of former President Clinton addressing the 2012 Democratic Convention should tell us all that the internet does not sound the death knell of the political speech – quite the reverse. If political campaigns are fought on the field of the ten second sound bite or three word message, as they seem so often to be; if those who aspire to lead us seem to have no desire to inspire us; if the memory of the hope and belief that Gough Whitlam gave to all who heard him, here forty years ago today, seems only the echo of a long-lost past: we must look for reasons somewhere other than the technology which carries our voices.
Colin Jacobsen AM (Col Joye) and Patricia Amphlett OAM (Little Pattie) interviewed by Jonathan Biggins
Not in how we communicate, but in what we communicate. Not in the medium, but in the message. The sophistication and immediacy of social media, the importance to modern campaigning of advertising, and the demands of the nightly news spot may make it possible to rely on slogans, and evade the dangerous and demanding challenge of arguing policy and principle. But they do not make it mandatory to do so. Those of us privileged enough to be elected to represent our fellow Australians still have every opportunity to speak to them, and every responsibility to speak for them. We may not hope to do so with the eloquence and elegance of Gough Whitlam – but do so we should, all the same. And if we fail to even try, the fault lies, to quote again from Shakespeare, not in our stars, but in ourselves.3
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)
Patricia Amphlett OAM and Bob Hawke AC (photographer, Sally Tsoutas for the University of Western Sydney)
Jonathan Biggins: So would you please welcome to the stage, formally known as Little Pattie, Patricia Amphlett and Col Joye. Applause. Cheers.
It’s . time
Jonathan Biggins: Hooray, hooray. You don’t need to provide your own applause. It’s alright. Here they are. Just take us back to those days. What was it like for you on that night? Did you actually perform that song in this hall, live, then? I always thought it was at the Opera House. Col Joye: No, we didn’t perform that song live on that night. I’ll go first, because I know the answer. Laughter. Col Joye: On that particular night I sat around about there (pointing).
Jonathan Biggins: There. Yes. Col Joye: Peter Anderson was there and I was just sort of just over there. And they said, ‘will you go and talk to the big fella because we’re running a bit late. ’ So we went down there, downstairs, and Mr Gough and Margaret were there, and we got to chatting about our industry. And he said, ‘how is your industry?’ I said, ‘well we need protection because no matter what happens, if there’s a catastrophe of any kind – be it bushfires, floods – the first people to step up are the entertainers or the musicians and all that.’ They get called upon and they do it. They’re only too pleased to do it. I said, ‘but we’ve got to protect them with all the other people that are coming through now.’ And he said, ‘what is it now?’ I said, ‘it’s seven and a half percent Australian material have got to be played on radio.’ He had a little envelope kind of thing in his pocket and he, he used to write things on it and he wrote it down and said, ‘we’ll fix
that.’ Straight away it went to 10 percent, when he got in. Then it went to 12.5 percent the next night (the next, the next night), that was yesterday, the next time. Then it went to 15 percent. And then of course become the dismissal and that would change from there. Some of these radio will play more than that. But just the same, he got all the entertainers you spoke about – Bert Newton, Chuck Faulkners and Jimmy Hannas, and Pattie and me and Judy Stone, and all those people. We went along and sung and were only too proud to do it and would do it again tomorrow. He changed the whole face of the entertainment industry. Applause. Jonathan Biggins: Well, You might have to do it again tomorrow. Because they’ve just scrapped the agreement that stopped live performers coming in and taking jobs off Australians. So the wheel is turning back full circle. But Little Pattie, it was a time of optimism wasn’t it? Little Pattie: Very much a time of optimism. And we had the Australia Council was formed. We had people not going overseas to earn their living as artists, performers. We had them staying in their own country which was good. At last we felt we had a strong leader who could understand the importance of an Australian culture alive and kicking. So, in many ways he promoted Australia to the rest of the world, and of course, to Australians. Jonathan Biggins: And it was the start of the Australian Film industry... Little Pattie: That’s right. Jonathan Biggins: ...as we know it. Breakthroughs in television. Music, as you say. Have we lost a bit of that impetus do you think or is it firmly entrenched? Little Pattie: I think there was a particular time. I think it was called the ‘Howard era’ (laughter), and a little bit of dumbing down went on – to coin a phrase – so (shrugs), you know the rest. Jonathan Biggins: We, as satirists, are actually indebted to the Howard era because it was during that time that, for many reasons, but we used to have to – if you wrote a parody lyric – you needed to seek the permission of the original author. But then Ruddock, the Attorney-General retrospectively changed the Copyright Act because the Australian cricket team had released an LP of songs, not knowing about this clause of the Copyright Act. So it was retrospectively changed to protect them. So we have in some ways benefitted from that. But, I mean, do you think...
Little Pattie: Look we still have (you know) lots of work to do in our area, of course we do. The employers union, which is Live Performance Australia, has just torn up – you know all the details of this Jonathan – they’ve torn up a 20 year agreement and of course we’d like them to talk to us for a start and... Jonathan Biggins: Would you like to see a return to the sort of passionate enthusiasm and actually someone having the courage politically to embrace that sort of change, and embrace the cultural community? Col. Little Pattie: Of course. It would be great. Col Joye: Well Mr Gough was a reformer, he could see, he was a reformer. There’s people in all parties I suppose, but there’s vey few reformers come through and he was a reformer. From that we got people like the Air Supplies came through and the Midnight Oils. Australia’s got more talent than for ratio of population than, I think, than anyone in the world. Coming through the schools today, coming through the schools, it’s awesome how good some of these kids can sing, how well they dance, how well they play their instruments and so forth. But, unfortunately, I can’t see, we have no platform for them today. There’s no platform like Bandstand, 6 O’clock Rocks or anything like that – that they can see and see what they do. If you’re a great classical piano player today, there’s nowhere to go. If you’re a great jazz player, if you’re a great opera singer, there’s just nothing to get you out there. And radio, they have a hundred playlists or something like that. Or they play oldies and goodies. I heard Pattie played on the oldies and goodies today. We’re oldies and goodies, but that doesn’t help the new one’s coming through today.
Little Pattie: He’s actually a very good Minister for the Arts, and of course we have a lovely senator in John Faulkner. We do. We have great people. And... times are tough at the moment though. Col Joye: I can’t think, in any other party, over the years, that we’ve had people. A lot of the characters have gone out of it now. The Fred Daly’s and all that. Even Jim Killen, he was good fun. He pulled a ukulele out of the cabinet one day. And I went down there, I went down to buy some C-130 aeroplanes they were selling. I had a friend in America, he said, ‘buy those aeroplanes for me’. I went down there, I said, ‘Jim, I want to buy those aeroplanes ’. He said, ‘What for?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know what for, but my friend wants to buy them’, and he said, ‘no, you can’t have them, you can have some helicopters’. I said I don’t want helicopters. And we were sitting eating here, and he yelled out to Gough, ‘he’s with the goodies today Gough’, and Gough gave him the thumbs up. They were good fun days then, and then the banter went out of it and it’s all changed now and it’s just not the same in politics as it was, and you don’t get the
characters. But of all the other parties, I’ve never seen anybody with the depth of field and the character of the Labor Party. They just seem to be there. I can’t find them in the Liberal Party. I can’t think. I mean the goodies can’t all be on the one side, but I’ve got to find the goodies, I’ve got to find the goodies on the other side. I mean that have got the character of the Mick Young’s and the Daly’s and all those people who came through. No, the Labor Party’s got a strength to it that... unmatchable right throughout the world. Jonathan Biggins: Would you please thank Pattie Amphlett and Col Joye. Applause.
Jonathan Biggins: The youngies and badies? Col Joye: That’s our future. It’s the young people coming through. Little Pattie: But I think Jonathan’s right, it would be lovely to have another Gough. Jonathan Biggins: Well, you know, do you think the creative and cultural community in Australia has been marginalised by the politicians? Little Pattie: Definitely. Jonathan Biggins: You do? Little Pattie: I agree. Jonathan Biggins: Well time to change. Senator Faulkner please take note. Alright, and I think Simon Crean’s here – Minister for the Arts. Little Pattie: Yes, we’ve spoken to him tonight.
Jonathan Biggins: We’re here. We’re here. Happy to help.
Tim Freedman and Col Joye (photographer, Sally Tsoutas for the University of Western Sydney)
Tim Freedman closes the evening’s celebration, performing ‘Back When We Were Beautiful’ (Tim Freedman), ‘Gough’ (The Whitlams)
It’s . time 17/24
Men and women of Australia: The decision we will make for our
country on 2 December is a choice between the past and the future. Between the
habits and fears of the past, and the
demands and opportunities of the future. There are moments in history when the
whole fate and future of nations can be
decided by a single decision. For Australia, this is such a time. It’s time for a new team,
My fellow citizens –
Our program has three great aims:
I put these questions to you:
To promote equality
Do you believe that Australia can afford another three years like the last twenty months?
To involve the people of Australia in the decision-making processes of our land
Are you prepared to maintain at the head of your affairs a coalition which has lurched into crisis after crisis, embarrassment piled on embarrassment week after week?
And to liberate the talents and uplift the horizons of the Australian people.
Will you accept another three years of waiting for next week’s crisis, next week’s blunder? Will you again entrust the nation’s economy to the men who deliberately, but needlessly, created Australia’s worst unemployment for ten years? Or to the same men who have presided over the worst inflation for twenty years? Can you trust the last-minute promises of men who stood against these very same proposals for twenty-three years? Would you trust your international affairs again to the men who nave you Vietnam? Will you trust your defences to the men who haven’t even yet given you the F-111?
a new program, a new drive for equality
We have a new chance for our nation. We can recreate this nation. We have a new chance for our region. We can help recreate this region.
opportunities for Australians, time for a
The war of intervention in Vietnam is ending. The great powers are rethinking and remoulding their relationships and their obligations. Australia cannot stand still at such a time. We cannot afford to limp along with men whose attitudes are rooted in the slogans of the 1950s – the slogans of fear and hate.
of opportunities. It’s time to create new
new vision of what we can achieve in this
generation for our nation and the region in which we live.
It’s time for a new government – a
Whitlam Prime Ministerial Collection, accessible at www.whitlam.org
If we made such a mistake, we would make Australia a backwater in our region and a back number in history. The Australian Labor Party – vindicated as we have been on all the great issues of the past – stands ready to take Australia forward to her rightful, proud, secure and independent place in the future of our region. And we are determined that the Australian people shall be restored to their rightful place in their own country – as participants and partners in government, as the owners and keepers of the national estate and the nation’s resources, as fair and equal sharers in the wealth and opportunities that this nation should offer in abundance to all its people. We will put Australians back into the business of running Australia and owning Australia. We will revive in this nation the spirit of national co-operation and national self-respect, mutual respect between government and people.
We want to give a new life and a new meaning in this new nation to the touchstone of modern democracy – to liberty, equality, fraternity. We propose a new charter for the children of Australia. The real answer to the modern malaise of juvenile crime, drugs and vandalism is not repression and moralising. The answer is to involve the creative energies of our children and our youth in a creative, concerned community. Under a Labor government, Commonwealth spending on schools and teacher training will be the fastest expanding sector of budget expenditure. This must be done, not just because the basic resource of this nation is the skills of its people, but because education is the key to equality of opportunity. Sure – we can have education on the cheap... But our children will be paying for it for the rest of their lives. We will abolish fees at universities and colleges of advanced education. It’s time to strike a blow for the ideal that education should be free. Under the Liberals this basic principle has been massively eroded. We will re-assert that principle at the commanding heights of education, at the level of the university itself. We intend to raise the basic pension rate to 25% of average weekly earnings. Australia did that in the late ‘40s. Does anyone say we cannot afford it now? We will do it by raising immediately, and then every spring and every autumn, all pensions $1.50. I repeat my 1969 pledge – to abolish the means test and establish national superannuation by 1975. We will involve the national government in a massive effort to rebuild our existing cities and to build new ones. A deep and direct national involvement in Australia’s cities will be the great thrust of our government. We will make a massive attack on the problem of land and housing costs. The land is the basic property of the Australian people. It is the people’s ,land,and we will fight for the right of all Australian people to have access to it at fair prices. We will give local government full access to the Loan Council and Grants Commission – not only because the burdens borne
by taxpayers as rate-payers must be reduced, but because the inequalities between regions must be attacked by the national government acting with and through local government. Rates are Australia’s fastest growing form of taxation. Only the national government has the resources to retard the growth of this burden on Australian homeowners. We will exert our powers against prices. We will establish a Prices Justification Tribunal not only because inflation will be the major economic problem facing Australia over the next three years but because industrial co-operation and good-will is being undermined by the conviction among employees that the price of labour alone is subject to regulation and restraint. Under Labor, the national government – itself the largest customer – will move directly and solidly into the field of consumer protection.
An Australian Labor government will want the Australian people to know the facts, to know the needs, to know the choices before them. We want them always to help us as a government to make the decisions and to make the right decisions. Australia has suffered heavily from the demeaning idea that the government always knows best, with the unspoken assumption always in the background that only the government knows or should know anything. Vietnam was only the most tragic result of that belief; the idea that the government must always know best permitted the Liberals to lie their way into that war. They could never have got away with it otherwise. The Australian Labor Party will build into the administration of the affairs of this nation machinery that will prevent any government, Labor or Liberal, from ever again cloaking your affairs under excessive and needless secrecy. Labor will trust the people.
The population fell for the first time since 1916. The percentage of Australian home-owners fell for the first time on record. This year, 100, 000 school-leavers will either be unable to find jobs or be forced into jobs well below their skills and expectations. Labor’s first priority will be to restore genuine full employment – with no hedging about what full employment means, no juggling with the figures. To achieve it, we need the co-operation of all sections of industry. And the co-operation we need depends on convincing all sections of the community that responsibilities, burdens and opportunities are being fairly shared.
We will change the emphasis in immigration from government recruiting to family reunion and to retaining the migrants already here. The important thing is to stop the drift away from Australia. We believe that the Australian people rather than governments should have the real say in the composition of the population.
The Labor Party is determined that every child who embarks on secondary education in 1973 shall, irrespective of school or location, have as good an opportunity as any other child of completing his secondary education and continuing his education further. The Labor Party believes that the Commonwealth should give most assistance to those schools whose pupils need most assistance.
We’ll establish a Schools Commission; but I’ll prepare for the Schools Commission in the same way Sir Robert Menzies prepared for the Universities Commission, which has revolutionised university opportunities in Australia. I shall write before Christmas to a small group of leading educationists, including representatives of the state and Catholic systems. I shall write in precisely the same terms as Sir Robert, requesting for all schools, as he did for universities, recommendations upon “their financial needs and appropriate means of providing for these needs”. Their report will be promptly published. In this way the government and nongovernment schools will be able to make their long-term plans right from the very earliest stages of a Labor government.
We will abolish conscription forthwith. It must be done not just because a volunteer army means a better army, but because it’s intolerable that a free nation at peace and under no threat should cull by lottery the best of its youth to provide defence on the cheap. We will legislate to give Aborigines land rights – not just because their case is beyond argument, but because all of us as Australians are diminished while the Aborigines are denied their rightful place in this nation.
We believe that the people are entitled to know. We believe the people will respond to national needs once they know those needs. And it’s in education – the needs of our schools – that we’ll give prime expression to that proposition and that belief.
And we will make a start right away.
We will issue National Development Bonds through an expanded Australian Industry Development Corporation, – not just because we are determined to reverse the trend towards foreign control of Australian resources, but because we want ordinary Australians to play their part in buying Australia back.
All of us as Australians have to insist that we can do so much better as a nation. We ought to be angry, with a deep determined anger, that a country as rich and skilled as ours should be producing so much inequality, so much poverty, so much that is shoddy and sub-standard. We ought to be angry, on our own behalf but even more on our children’s behalf, at the mindless destruction of our national and historical heritage. We ought to be angry, with an unrelenting anger, that our Aborigines have the world’s highest infant mortality rate. We ought to be angry at the way our so-called leaders have kept us in the dark – parliament itself as much as the people – to hide their own incapacity.
strengthen the laws against restrictive trade practices. We will use the Commonwealth’s power as Australia’s largest consumer and most powerful customer to prevent unjustified price rises. We will set up a National Consumer Standards Laboratory to conduct its own testing of foods and other goods of importance to community welfare and well-being. These reports will be published.
We shall give priority in public co-operation to setting up economic planning machinery with industry and employees’ representatives to restore and maintain strong economic growth. In the year past, Australia had its lowest growth since the depression.
At this very moment before the Arbitration Commission, the Liberals are demanding a wage freeze. They never worry about prices. Labor will protect the Australian consumers. We will establish a Prices Justification Tribunal. We will establish a parliamentary standing committee to review prices in key sectors. We will
Inequality is riveted on children for life even before school. We propose a six-year program to give every Australian child at least a year at pre-school. To administer this program of national enrichment and national equality we will set up a Preschool Commission. The Pre-school Commission will also be responsible for developing proper child-care facilities. So long as public child care remains inadequate, we will allow fees up to $5 a week paid at approved private centres to be tax deductions. We want to widen women’s choice and children’s opportunities – and the widening of choice and opportunities is also the basis of our health program. Our universal health insurance scheme will give patients and doctors alike a wider freedom of choice – and a freedom from
needless worry – that they just can’t get under the Liberals’ ramshackle scheme. Our plan for a single health insurance fund has been carefully costed to ensure that four out of five Australian families will pay less than they do under present arrangements, and 350,000 Australian families will pay nothing. I note that the latest complaint from the Australian Medical Association is that we have revised the details three times in the last five years. At least that’s two times fewer than doctors have raised their fees. But insurance is only a part of our health proposals. Even more important is our determination to make the health of the community truly a community affair. We will establish an Australian Hospitals Commission to ensure that hospitals are provided where the people need them – where they live, where they have to live. And hospitals are a prime example of the imbalance between community services and community needs and the imbalance in the way these services are paid for by the community. It’s a great and growing imbalance because of the failure of the Liberals to involve the national government in the cities and towns of our nation. A national government which cuts itself off from responsibility for the nation’s cities is cutting itself off from the nation’s real life. A national government which has nothing to say about cities has nothing relevant or enduring to say about the nation or the nation’s future. Labor is not a city-based party. It is a people-based party, and the overwhelming majority of our people live in cities and towns across our nation. This is a nation of home-owners. Yet the unbelievable fact is that under Mr McMahon home-ownership has declined for the first time in our history. Home-ownership is declining because of spiralling land costs, because of housing costs, because of interest rates, because of the burden of rates. These can be reduced, and they can only be reduced if the national government – with its overwhelming share of the nation’s financial resources – involves itself directly. We will. A Labor government will have two overriding objectives: to give Australian families access to land and housing at fair prices, and to preserve and enhance the quality of the national estate – the environment. We will set up a Commonwealth-state Land Development Commission in each state to buy substantial tracts of land in new areas being opened up for housing and to lease or sell at cost fully serviced housing blocks. As in Canberra until two years ago. And until the Liberals destroyed that system, Canberra was the only capital with stable land prices.
We believe that the most effective and equitable course in the interests of all those who have suffered from ever rising interest rates is to introduce a graduated form of tax deductions. Labor will deliberately plan to reduce interest rates wherever practicable. Meantime, we propose that a limited tax deductibility be available for interest payments. This tax concession will be concentrated amongst the groups which bear the greatest burden. All taxpayers whose actual income is $4,000 or below will be entitled to deduct 100% of their interest rate payments. The percentage of total interest payments which is deductible will be reduced by 1% for every $100 of income in excess of $4,000. After land and housing, there is a third basic element of the city – its transport. Australia must overcome the tyranny of the motor car, or face the destruction of its major cities as decent centres of our culture, our community, our civilisation. The national government must now accept a share of responsibility for the public transport systems of Australian cities. We are determined to make local government a genuine partner in the federal system. Until that is done, there’s no hope of getting Australian cities and towns properly sewered, no chance of getting the debts of semi and local government down, no hope of getting rates down. And until it’s done, there’s no chance for any real decentralisation – regional development – new cities around Australia. The cities and the countryside depend on each other. Our problems are the same – they are problems for all Australians. And one of those problems we all share in common is the development and ownership of our own resources. Unless Australians re-assert a greater measure of control over their own industries and resources, they will find opportunities within their own country closed to them. Australia’s most profitable, important and fast growing industries are already in foreign hands. The companies which control them are, more and more, multi-national corporations – corporations whose resources are as large as those of many national governments and larger than any of our own state governments. Yet we have had this year the spectacle of an Australian party leader – the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia himself – calling upon these foreign corporations to use their immense muscle-power to resist the claims of their own Australian employees. And here we get to the root of the matter – the common ground shared by all Australians, all Australian employees – salaried, professional, white-collar, industrial. The next time you hear the liberals attacking the principle of industrial negotiation, you will understand that they are attacking all employees –
and white-collar workers depend most of all on negotiated agreements. A Labor government will give a lead to maximising Australian ownership and control of industry by ensuring that where price, availability and accessibility are as good, the Commonwealth will make its purchases from Australian-owned and controlled companies. Labor will buy Australian. And we will make it Australian. We can make a better Australia, and we can help make a better neighbourhood – and we can be better neighbours. We now enter a new and more hopeful era in our region. Let us not foul it up this time. Australia has been given a second chance. We now have a new opportunity for sensible relations with China, the opportunity for a settlement of the war in Vietnam, the opportunity to institute an era of peace and progress in our region. Nothing worthwhile can be done unless Australia has a government that is willing to break out from and beyond its own path, its own inhibitions, its own failures. Above all, it is a time for a government which will base its foreign policy on Australia’s true national interests and on Australia’s true international obligations, not on the shifts and deceptions of domestic political need. My fellow Australians – Will you believe with me that Australia can be changed, should be changed, must be changed, if we are to have for ourselves and our children a better Australia, with a better grip on the realities of living in the modern world, and in our region as it really is? And will you believe with me that a new government, a new program, a new team, is desperately needed to provide that change? I believe it is, and I believe that most Australians in their hearts know these things to be true. We just cannot keep going the way we have these past twenty months. We cannot afford the instability of a government which has had sixty ministerial changes in the six years since Sir Robert Menzies.
Before this campaign is out, I shall have completed twenty years as a member of parliament. The basic foundations of this speech lie in my very first speeches in the parliament, because I have never wavered from my fundamental belief that until the national government became involved in great matters like schools and cities, this nation would never fulfil its real capabilities. For thirteen years I have had the honor to fill the second highest and then the highest place my party can bestow. Throughout that time I have striven to make the policies of the Australian Labor Party, its machinery, its membership, more and more representative of the whole Australian people and more and more responsive to the needs and hopes of the whole Australian people. This at least I have tried to do, and will continue to do; and, supporting me, I have the best of colleagues and the best of friends. We of the Labor Party have used these crucial last years in opposition to prepare ourselves for the great business of moving our nation ahead, to uniting our people in a Commonwealth cooperative endeavour and to making the democratic system work once more. The determination of a few and the dedication of thousands have reconstructed and welded the Australian Labor Party into the most representative political party Australia has yet known. We come to government with malice toward none; we will co-operate wholeheartedly with all sections of this nation in a national endeavour to expand and equalise opportunities for all our people. We shall need the help and seek the help of the best Australians. We shall rely, of course, on Australia’s great public service; but we shall seek and welcome advice and co-operation from beyond the confines of Canberra. But the best team, the best policies, the best advisers are not enough. I need your help. I need the help of the Australian people; and, given that, I do not for a moment believe that we should set limits on what we can achieve together, for our country, our people, our future.
I’m not able in this half-hour to go through our whole program. We don’t ask for a blank cheque. We want you to know our intentions fully. Our program is ambitious. I acknowledge that. It has to be so; it should be so, because the backlog is so great. And we cannot expect to clear away that backlog in three months or even three years. Nevertheless, the Australian people are entitled to the clearest possible account of our intentions, our hopes for our nation. It is not Labor but the Liberals who are the truly unknown factor in this election.
Back to Blacktown
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Rick Stevens/Fairfax Syndication
A celebration of the speech that changed a nation 13 November 2012
Bowman Hall, Blacktown Civic Centre
Published on Jun 3, 2013
Published on Jun 3, 2013
Australian Fabian News Vol52 No3/4 2012 "Back to Blacktown" A celebration of the speech that changed a nation.