Similarly, if a federalist is one who believes that a national government should have no responsibility and no voice in such matters of nation-wide importance as education or health or national development or agricul- ture or in any other fields, that there is no room there for co-operation between a national government and a state government, then I do not think that such a person is a true federalist or serves the nation well.
Indeed, these words, these labels, unless they are defined in depth, have no real meaning, but the danger is that they are labels which can be used as a substitute for thinking. A proposal may be advanced or a practice may develop which is new or different - and I speak not only of proposals advanced for powers to come to Canberra or practices which develop, I speak of the living thing of federalism where, in either direction, proposals can be advanced. And in such a case, always if such a thing happens, there should be analysis and examination in depth to see whether what is proposed is advantageous to the nation as a whole, to each of the citizens who make up the nation, just as they make up the various States, and whether it is advantageous to a State or States or to the citizens who make up the State or States.
There should in such circumstances always, in an ad hoc matter, be debate of a friendly and constructive kind, not debate designed as an advocacy of previously- determined positions but debate designed to discover argument and to discover where the true balance of advantage lies, whether the goals sought are proper goals and whether they might perhaps be better attained in some other way; to discover whether the proposal fits properly into the co-operative federalism which we seek to retain. Too often, this exercise in thinking can be avoided and sometimes is by the initial use of a label and the condemnation of a proposal on the basis of that label.
Let us always examine these things on the basis of a close analysis, close examination, looking at the merits or demerits of any proposal and looking at the continuance we all desire of an evolving but not static Liberal federalism in Australia. I think that those who do not wish to do that perhaps will do both Australia and the Liberal Party a disservice, for we cannot remain static, and we do wish to preserve a federal system which our opponents, should they have the chance, would undoubtedly destroy completely as they have made more than evident over the last year.
We believe in a federal system but not a static one. Our opponents don't believe in a federal system at all, and this is a great and continuing difference between us.
Prime Minister's address to Federal Council 8 June 1970