...But in all our policy creation, in all of our committee meetings, in all of our electioneering, we must take care not to forget that the reason for all this activity is people.
A dry wind is blowing through Australian politics. It is blowing through the Liberal Party and the National Party. It is sweeping through the Labor Party, and Australian Government will be much improved be- cause of it
But it is essential, I believe, that the Liberal Party emerges from these changes dry and warm, rather than dry and cold.
The speed with which economic rationalism has come into vogue in this country is a matter of some satisfaction to those of us who have promoted it over the years. There is widespread agreement that those who spend the taxpayer's dollar are accountable for it, and that the limitations on successful government intervention in the economy are greater than was once believed.
At State level, in particular, major savings can be made and significant improvements can be achieved in the quality of service from the introduction of sound management practices.
But in our understandable enthusiasm for economic rationalism, let us never forget that the one and only purpose of all this political activity is people.
Preoccupation with increasing profits. Blind com- mitment to balancing the books. Ideological dedication to deregulation for its own sake. Ordinary men and women are chilled by such a message, and such are the hallmarks of a political platform that is dry and cold. I do not believe that the Liberal Party can succeed with such a platform.
At the other end of this spectrum are those who can be described as warm and wet. This group confuses a warm heart with a soft head and believes that caring for people means throwing money at them. As taxpayers most of us have given up believing in that group.
There is a third position, which I have characterised as dry and warm. Such a politician is one with a warm heart and a hard head. Such a person understands that consumers will be better off under a competitive economic environment, that workers will have a higher standard of living if industry is productive, that taxpayers are people too, and that governments need to consider their needs as well.
Australian politics for the next decade or more will be dry and warm. The Liberal and National parties must be dry and warm. That is how we must present ourselves. That is how we must be seen. That is what we must be.
Speech to the State Convention of the Liberal Party of Australia (NSW Division) 10 August 1985
Victor Perton's Home Page
Write to Victor Perton.