This extract is part of Australian Liberalism: The Continuing Vision
Consider what it is that people in Australia really want. Imagine yourself on the top of some high hill, looking out over a populated valley where the lights twinkle below you at night, and thinking each one of those lights is a light in the home of an Australian family. What is it they seek to build their country into; what is it they wish for themselves, and how best can we try to achieve what they wish for themselves and what they wish for their nation? You can imagine yourself in that position. You would answer your question in what is perhaps a contradictory way.
You would say, I think, or I would say for you: What Australians want is to see that the aged needy, the ill needy, those really suffering from unfortunate circumstances through no fault of their own, should be adequately provided for by the nation, but that this should be done without destroying the incentive to save, and without destroying the incentive to self- reliance. This, in itself, requires I think, some rethinking of our policies in these matters, and requires some significant effort from governments and from the people from whom governments gain their revenue.
And, they would say, we want in this nation the capacity for every individual to be able to develop to the utmost of his own inherent capacities through edu- cation, whether it be conventional, or technical, or whatever it may be. And that requires enormous resources.
And, they would say, we want defence for this country, we want defence sufficient to make sure that we are true allies of those on whom in the ultimate our future may depend, our future existence may depend, that we can help those countries nearest to us towards stability, that we can have in our own country sufficient in the future to take the first shock of any attack that might ever be made upon us in the future, until such time as the allies whom we have supported and helped could come to our help, as I am sure they would. And that requires enormous resources from the people.
And, they would say, we want development of this nation. We want to see resources which now lie unused be utilised so that throughout the whole of this country we will have not only employment opportunities, not only new industries but the new industrial muscles which they will bring to us, and which in their turn will build us into a great material nation, and help, in their turn, the development of ourselves towards the future which is possible if we reach out to grasp it with sufficient effort. And this requires enormous resources.
And, they would say, and rightly say, while we want these things, we also wish that the burden of taxation upon individuals in this nation should not be raised to such heights that the incentive to produce, that the incentive to strive, that the incentive to save is removed from those individuals in the private sector, upon whom in the last resource the final growth of this nation must depend.
And, they would say, we wish to see not only these national objectives I have outlined are met but in the various parts of Australia those governments more directly in touch with the people should have resources to carry out the responsibilities directly laid upon them by the Constitution.
I could go on, I could go on expanding this list of that which you require, of that which our nation requires, but I think I have said enough, have I not, to indicate that all these things cannot at once be done, that they are to some extent contradictory, and that therefore there must be a choosing of priorities, a decision as to which of these programmes it is that will most advance this nation and most provide a happy existence for the inhabitants of it. And so, if there is to be choosing of priorities in these fields, as there must be, then that will be a choosing of priorities taken, I hope and believe, by a Commonwealth Government which is a Liberal/Country Party Government, by a State Government which is a Liberal/Country Party Government, and while there may be discussions as to the relative importance of particular priorities, at least it will be as I have said before, a family discussion, and one between people with the same ultimate objectives.
And these objectives, apart from those goals which I sketched, and sketched so briefly to you this afternoo4 are objectives which we feel that we must reach within a certain framework. We do not think that we can attain those aims I have set before you by handing everything over to a government and to officials and say: You attain this. We will bow out as individuals.' We feel, and it is undoubtedly true, that a government must create the climate for the achievement by individuals of which I have spoken, that in many fields the government must take social action for the good of the community as a whole.
Liberal Party Rally, Sydney Town Hall 5 February 1968
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