Speech, Adelaide 29 March 1906
Published by Victor Perton as part of Australian Liberalism: The Continuing Vision
Liberalism (A Resource of Liberal Materials from around the world including definitions of Liberalism)
. . . The Liberal Party has been distinguished by two or three leading principles. It has sought social justice by trusting the people and developing the powers of self government. That is, it has sought its needs by the use of the agencies of the state. Against the Liberals is gathered a party much less defined, which has really no positive programme, and which adopts an attitude of denial and negation - a party which may be fairly called the anti-Liberal party. Its members are always found rallying in the defence of vested interests, as if they were absolute, instead of only conditional. The Labor Party is not distinct from the Liberal Party in regard to many questions involving social justice. It is not divided from the Liberal Party in the use of the powers of the state, but it has associated amongst its principles an extension of the powers of the state,which might threaten to absorb many of the great industrial functions of the community.
In that view the wing of the party which holds, it is, as every other wing, perfectly entitled to submit its case. There can be no possible objection to the men who consider that any monopoly can be better dealt with by the state than it can be in the hands of individuals, who are possibly abusing its powers - and in their antagonism to the monopoly they have the Liberal Party with them, but the Liberal Party looks both in the state and in the federation with caution upon the extension of state functions, knowing that these are accompanied by perils of their own.
. . . The Liberal Party does not fear to use the social powers and authorities, which legislation and administration present. Even anti-socialists and anti-liberalists do not propose to sell the railways, close the stateschools, or abandon the state post-office. They accept because they must what is established, because the people are convinced in their direction. The action of the state is justified by results.
While experience has justified certain forms of state socialism, we recognise that every proposal for its extension should be criticised when it takes shape,especially when it take the shape of a suggestion to amend the federal constitution. We look at it calmly as a question of practical politics, and judge-like businessmen on what is and ought to be a business question.
Speech, Adelaide 29 March 1906 - The Prime Minister at Adelaide (Reports of the Adelaide Press revised) Liberal Party publication: 1906
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Re-edited 25th July 2001