...[I] am surprised that Liberals find Opposition so depressing That is a state of mind born in a certain conceit Because we have governed for so long gives us no right to expect to govern. The role of Opposition in questioning and exposing the shortfalls of the Govern- ment for the time being and in building and promoting an alternative programme to allow the voter an alternative is as important to the concept of democracy as the role of government itself. And for us, having been rejected at the polls, to have to re-think and re-develop our alternative programme for a stronger, more prosperous, more just Australian society is a tremen- dous and exciting challenge. Greater concentration on that effort rather than bemoaning our position in Opposition will lead to an earlier return to the treasury benches.
...We were not only defeated in 1983 but as far back as the 1980 election the polls were showing disappoint- ment with our performance. To be again re-elected I believe it will be necessary to present a comprehensive set of policies which inter-relate and can be seen to be aimed at a number of major national goals. They cannot be simply seen as short term expediencies but must show a long term vision for this country and its people. This will be the minimum necessary to regain the confidence of the electorate we have lost.
...There is much from the past of which we can be proud and should adopt and not only in our areas of traditional strength. It is not a matter of starting from a vacuum ... for example our refugee policy, but other positive aspects are all too easily forgotten. We are led to believe that disarmament policy started with the Labor Government but in fact their major platform which is comprehensive test ban treaty in all environ- ments had been pursued for years in the international forums by the Fraser Government. We were con- demned for not being sufficiently conscious of the environment but all easily forget Kakadu, Fraser Island and Willandra Lakes. Our human rights record and as a friend and supporter of nations emerging from colonialism should not be forgotten.
What I have said is that we have gone some way along the road but that major challenges in this area remain. The organisation and particularly the younger elements of the organisation can and should help by provoking discussion, stimulating debate and urging imaginative solutions which their more conservative representatives might otherwise be too cautious to adopt.
There is much upon which we can build. There is much that yet remains to be done.
Text of Speech to NSW Young Liberals 1984