This extract is part of Australian Liberalism: The Continuing Vision
...Here we have one of the most complex of human problems. As we approach it we find ourselves pressed by two considerations, each of which is powerful, each of which acts in opposition to the other. Perhaps in the result we shall find ourselves using these competing pressures in order to establish a firm structure.
On the one hand we have the fact that the struggle for existence and for progress brings out the best in man, and leads, as history has repeatedly shown, to strength and endurance. On the other hand we have the equally clear fact that a never-ending and never-quite-succeeding struggle on the fringe of reasonable existence is destructive of hope and of humanity, which naturally looks for the time, in Browning's words, "when body gets its sop, and holds its noise, and leaves soul free a little"
Let me put the matter in another way. The arriving at a true answer to any difficult problem requires a just balancing of various factors. If our motto is to be, "Each for himself and the devil take the hindmost' then want will be the portion of the least active or the least fortunate, and our civilisation will be disfigured by those extremes of wealth and poverty, of comfort and despondency, which have defaced our history in the past, and which a proper understanding of human dignity will roundly condemn.
But if the motto is to be that each citizen is entitled, whatever his own effort or deserts, to a maintenance which will suffice without labour; in other words, that utter security in the economic sense is our divinely allotted portion; all incentive to effort will vanish and we shall become a race ready for the destroyer.
We would need to be blind not to have noticed already in this war the corroding effect of a generation of Government paternalism, of a political tradition of pandering and promises, of a growing belief that life owes the individual the fullest protection and security while the individual owes life nothing at all. We are threatened by the dry-rot of social and political doctrines which encourage the citizen to lean on the State, which discourage thrift, which despise as reactionary those qualities of self-reliance which pioneered Australia.
Freedom is not a commodity you buy over a counter. It is a principle of life. It must be strong to resist its enemies. It is a source of power, not something passive or dead. My right to be free imposes on me obligations of the most absolute kind to defend my freedom. And so if I am to have freedom from want I must pay the price of that freedom. I must work and strive. In the sweat of my brow must I earn bread.
Thus it is that freedom from want does not mean paid idleness for all. The country has great and imperative obligations to the weak, the sick, the unfortunate. It must give to them all the sustenance and support it can. We look forward to social and unemployment insurances, to improved health services, to a wiser control of our economy to avert if possible all booms and slumps which tend to convert labour into a commodity, to a better distribution of wealth, to a keener sense of social justice and social responsibility. We not only look forward to these things, we shall demand and obtain them.
To every good citizen the State owes not only a chance in life but a self-respecting life.
Radio Broadcast 10 July 1942 - Reprinted in The Forgotten People, Sydney: Angus & Robertson 1943