The Liberal Party is leading a revolution in thinking. As I have pointed out, we must look back a decade for the beginnings of this change. I have always felt Socialism on the large-scale to be repugnant to people of the Australian temperament. None of us takes easily to being organised and disciplined. We do better working on our own account, planning for ourselves, and seeing the results of our planning and initiative. That is why the people of this country, when it came to a showdown, rejected the Labor Party's "creeping Socialism". They were sick and tired of the physical restraints imposed on them during the war and early post-war years; and, as Australians they did not take kindly to a post-war world patterned on State ownership, buttressed with rules and regulations, and built round the word "security."
Very early in its young life the Liberal Party posed the question - "Do you want what the Socialist in the narrowest sense of the word calls "security' or do you want the kind of growth and development based primarily on private investment and personal risk-taking?" The majority of Australians decided most emphatically. They could see developing a rigid economy incapable of responding to change and they rejected it. On the economic level the term "stability" has replaced the term "security". The functions of responsible government under Liberal leadership took shape with a much clearer understanding by the average Australian of where we were headed.
...We reject the conception of class. It is anti-democratic and outmoded. The Communist, of course, must preach class warfare. In that lies his way to absolute power; but for a Labor Party politician to talk of class warfare is evidence either of ignorance or malevolence. We are not living in the Middle Ages. There may have been something medieval about the class antagonisms of the 19th Century, but in this new industrial age rigid class concepts are absurd. This age, with its changes, its opportunities, and its mobility, obliterates the old distinctions of a fixed and static society. The more we develop the more we produce a mixture of social and economic elements. Liberalism says that in this world of flesh and blood there is always a spirit of accommodation which makes men stretch out hands to find ways of living together in some measure of comfort. The extremist may shout his head off, but good sense has its victories too.
Liberalism, I repeat, rejects the concept of class warfare; it also sets itself implacably against sectarianism. It is almost beyond belief that any political leader familiar with the political history of his country should, to divert attention from his own difficulties, set man against man in the private field of religious belief. The Liberal Party will have nothing to do with sectarianism in politics. It is completely out of pattern with the Australia we have tried to build up - an Australia rid of bigotries and hatreds of any kind.
What's more important, of course, is that the Australian people have outgrown the kind of political thinking that seeks to perpetuate old antagonisms - and when I say Australian people I mean all who work with hands and brain, the great mass of trade unionists, who, like the business entrepreneur and the professional man, sense the growth and the opportunities in their country. Individualism and initiative are reckoned to be strong Australian characteristics. There are increasing signs that these qualities are re-asserting themselves.
...There is nothing tentative about the Liberal point of view. We have always proclaimed that Liberalism is the doctrine of the free man. We have always worked for a system of Government based on the free and full development of human personality. We reject the idea of class. We reject the ideology of a conflict between classes. We assert the rights of the individual under the law.
And so, as Liberals, we oppose implacably the totalitarianism of the Right and the Left.
But the Labor Party never seems to have realised that liberty is fundamental to democratic politics. Based on a false concept of class and governed by a rigidly doctrinaire political philosophy, the Labor Party demands implicit obedience and imposes (when it is strong enough) iron discipline.
...The Liberal Party makes no compromise with the professed enemies of democracy. Nor has it any great difficulty in recognising the enemy. For the battle for liberty is an old battle. Today's challenge is a chapter in a long history. At one time in its long course the battle was for the religious liberty. In those destructive religious wars of the 17th Century almost the whole western world was given over to fanatics. But Liberalism did prevail after decades of slaughter. At another time the battle for liberty turned on the issues of civil liberty. Here, too, the victory went to Liberalism when all men's rights were declared and guaranteed under the law. The third battle for liberty was political and that, too, was a victory for the Liberal Way. The long struggle was determined in favour of a parliamentary democracy in which every adult citizen was given a voice and a vote in the conduct of his country's affairs. There, then, we see the three-fold pattern of the long struggle, the resolve of free men to assert religious, civil and political liberty. So how can any man be uncertain as to the nature and magnitude of the challenge thrown down today?
Today we are fighting for all three liberties. We are fighting for them against a new and powerfully armed authoritarianism which is waging a war as much for the spirit of man as for his body. It fights us on remote frontiers, but also inside our own country, using here a whole armoury of propaganda weapons and the technique of industrial sabotage. In recent months the word "conspiracy" has been given a great airing, but we on the Liberal side know of only one conspiracy against Australia and the Australian people. We recognised it a long time ago. We called it then, and we call it now, the Communist conspiracy.
...Respect for the traditional rights of free individuals is of the essence of liberalism. It therefore follows that Liberal Governments are better able to meet the challenges of new circumstances as they arise. Because we are not burdened by doctrinaire inhibitions, because we are not obsessed with the demands of any one powerful sectional group, we, in office, can provide the leadership necessary to iron out sectional differences in the interests of the nation as a whole.
...It is one important task of the Liberal Party to work always for a higher quality of citizenship, a greater participation by all citizens in national affairs for, to succeed, democracy must enlist the thought of the whole community in a process of discussion. We should always aim to extend the range of popular knowledge and understanding. That is a very real job, because you can best defeat the propaganda of the Left with facts and information. After all, our basic purpose is towards a developing and prosperous life for all, a common framework, material and spiritual, for the infinite variety of individuals who make up a liberal and democratic community. Each week sees more and more Australians coming inside this framework. I said earlier that common sense has its victories - and that has been shown to be true many times in our affairs since 1949. Some of our political opponents seem to prefer the appeal to prejudice, even to hysteria, rather than the appeal to common sense; but, in this context, let me quote Bertrand Russell, "The ultimate victory is never to the fanatic, because he tries to keep men's emotions in a state of tension which the majority, in the long run, find unbearable"
Federal President: address to Federal Council 8 November 1954 (A Liberal Party publication)