The struggle for
true Australian independence
Australia is faced with its fourth great challenge since Federation. The first was the First World War when Australia had to cope with severe military losses, bitter divisions on the home front over the issue of conscription and social dislocation. The second was the Depression when up to one third of the workforce was unemployed. The third was the Second World War and in particular the threat of invasion from Japan, when a limited form of conscription was introduced, but not without rancour.
These three great periods of stress and the responses to them have had an enormous influence on today's Australia. All three were clear cut and part of an international experience. Australia on the world stage was one of the smaller players, but it was not helpless in the face of international forces and pressure. It could and did make decisions to influence its own destiny and can do so in the challenge it faces today.
The fourth challenge is also part of an international experience, which is far more difficult to recognise, let alone define, but its outcome has the potential to shape the country far more completely than any of the preceding three. Australia is faced with an inexorable economic and social decline to the status of a Third World colony unless it rises to this challenge.
In spite of the fact that this entails coming to terms with powerful international forces, the country's biggest battle will be won or lost at home. It will be fought between groups with two broadly conflicting views of how Australia should respond to these forces to secure its future and the skirmishes have already begun. One view can be described as basically nationalist and the other broadly internationalist.
Naturally both sides will attract extremists, but it is the moderates with coherent visions and a commitment to democracy who will determine the outcome. There will be no shortage of attempts however, given the examples of the recent past, to link the moderates, particularly the moderate nationalists, with the extremists.
There are differences in emphasis between groups and individuals on one side or the other of course, some of them considerable. Some on the nationalist side would be embarrassed by the label and have only gradually aligned themselves to others who are more overtly nationalist. Some on the internationalist side consider themselves as strongly Australian, but also as pragmatists facing up to international realities.
Those sympathetic to the nationalist approach have the numbers, because they include the great bulk of the general public, but lack organisation. The internationalists though have gained the ascendant in the power elites which control and influence both Government and Opposition and so are both organised and well funded - to a large degree by public money. Crucially, the internationalist viewpoint is promoted and espoused by the bulk of the media, but there have been signs of a more sceptical approach on the part of some journalists, particularly recently.
During the last decade the internationalists have been in the ascendant to such an extent that the nationalists have had extreme difficulty in having their view accepted as a legitimate alternative. The nationalists have found themselves attacked and shouted down, no doubt by many who were driven by good intentions and feared the resurgence of an insular, counter-productive brand of nationalism. With the post-mortems over the financial excesses of the 1980s, the failure of a number of internationalist schemes such as the Darwin Free Trade Zone and the growing maturity of the immigration debate though, the nationalist viewpoint is gradually gaining legitimacy.
The nationalist viewpoint can be broadly described as putting the interests of Australia's own residents first and developing a more united independent outlook. Its proponents emphasise the capabilities and achievements of Australians and the necessity to invest in our own residents and resources. They say one of Australia's basic problems is that it allows its ideas to be developed overseas, rather than ensuring that we develop them. They oppose high immigration on economic, environmental and social grounds and criticise Australia's colonial cringe and cargo cult approaches. They say that our immigration program does nothing for the underlying problems of emigrant countries and that our skilled immigrant program is not only a form of intellectual piracy, it denies our own residents training opportunities. Australia could far more effectively assist foreign countries by using much of the money squandered on immigration to increase foreign aid programs.
The internationalists tend not to rate local abilities or adaptability to changing international circumstances highly and stress the need for high levels of immigration to invigorate the country, both economically and socially. They believe generally in multiculturalism, but specifically in integration with Asia. They look at the economic groupings of nations such as the European Community and the North American Free Trade agreement and fear that Australia will be left behind if it does not make a similar arrangement. As a basically European nation in an Asian region which promises, particularly in the North East, to be the world's economic powerhouse, they see it as being in Australia's interest to integrate with the region. There are differences in emphasis of course about how this should be done, but a blueprint which has been very enthusiastically greeted by academics, bureaucrats and in the media is Professor Ross Garnaut's "Australia and the North-East Asian Ascendancy".
This approach stresses, among other things, the need to take more immigrants from North-East Asian countries, so as to link up with the region and the need for an educational emphasis on the region, particularly the study of its languages. Others on the internationalist side would stress the significance of other countries, particularly in immigration, while not publicly opposing the Garnaut view. Garnaut also proposes abolishing all tariffs by the year 2000 as part of a commitment to a "level playing field" and the government has already significantly reduced tariffs.
On the other hand most of the nationalists call for government intervention to assist local industry and deny that there is any such thing as a level playing field. They say the economies which have prospered are interventionist, particularly Japan and Germany and for Australia to advocate a level playing field, when no other successful economy really believes in it is folly.
Intelligent nationalism stresses the importance of maintaining good relations with Asian countries, particularly with Japan, our major trading partner and does not oppose the desirability of becoming better informed about our neighbours. It stresses though that all these things can be done without sacrificing our own traditions or - in the glibly fashionable language which is current - becoming an "Asian nation". Indeed the Asian nations will respect us for approaching them as equal, but different, and secretly - and not so secretly - hold us in contempt if we attempt to submerge our traditions in an attempt to "fit in".
AUSTRALIA MUST HAVE THE COURAGE TO ACCEPT ITS UNIQUENESS
The nationalists say that if Australia "integrates" with Asia, we will lose everything we value as well as ultimately, the respect of the Asian nations themselves. Australia must have the courage to accept its uniqueness rather than attempt to extinguish it. It must also look to trade with the world and not become locked into putting all of its trading effort into Asia. Given the rapidly changing political and economic circumstances in the world, Australia not only has to have the ability to adapt quickly, but it cannot afford to put all its eggs in the one basket - in trade or any other area.
As you might have guessed, I support this intelligent, outward looking Australian nationalism. The Prime Minister pretends to be a nationalist too of course, but with him it is all window dressing. He postures as a nationalist while following the internationalist agenda. In fact the Keating republicans are in the main new class internationalists.
These internationalists dictate policy from above against the wishes of the great bulk of the people. They have become so powerful, with their media influence, that they have been able to define what constitutes acceptable political discourse. These unrepresentative pressure groups taken together are even arrogant enough to call themselves the "community".
Australia is developing into a corporate state where only those groups either established or recognised by those in power are given legitimacy in the political process. This mentality infects both political parties. The Liberal Fahey State government in NSW for example has followed the Keating approach, playing up to every politically correct cause and pressure group. Like Keating, Fahey has established ministerial positions to service them and passed legislation to suit them.
The Keating push for a Republic is bound up in the development of this corporate state, because of the baggage that the republican push brings with it.
MINIMALIST REPUBLIC HAS BEEN SHOWN TO BE A SHAM
If it was simply a matter of people being given the opportunity to vote one way or another: Republic or Monarchy, without this baggage, I wouldn't be so concerned. But the so-called minimalist republic has been shown to be a sham.
The bulk of the new class who want a republic want also to fundamentally rewrite our constitution, they want to abolish the states, they want to impose a so-called Bill of Rights, which will enshrine such things as the policy of multiculturalism and legalised discrimination, otherwise known as affirmative action. All these things are tied up in the present push for a republic.
I strongly reject all this baggage. That is why I oppose the push for a republic. I have always asked: what is to be gained and what sort of republic? If you ask those questions you get very disturbing answers.
The agenda of the new class in this republic push betrays their contempt for our history and the process which led to Federation and our constitution. This process which led to our Federation was one of the most democratic which ever brought a nation into being. The achievement of our constitution was a triumph.
The Prime Minister finds the language of our constitution uninspiring and uninspired. He has in mind, I suppose, the charged language of the documents of the American revolution. This sort of language would have been entirely inappropriate for our constitution, which was born not out of revolutionary feelings, but through an orderly and democratic process.
This is unfortunate for historians looking for a bit of colour, but very fortunate for the people of the time who did not have to sacrifice their lives on the battlefield to make an historian's holiday.
High flown language in our constitution would have been mocked by the Australia of the time. It was inappropriate. That does not take away one jot from the greatness of the achievement. The Prime Minister for one does not understand this, but that is not surprising.
How many of those who condemn our history as one of shame and dispossession are prepared to sacrifice money from their own comfortable incomes, incomes often provided from the taxes of the Australian public they so despise? No, others must bear the consequences of their high-mindedness.
UNDERSTANDING OUR HISTORY IS FUNDAMENTAL TO UNDERSTANDING OUR CULTURE
How many of these people fairly compare Australia to other countries and the conflicts and slaughter of these countries? Australia is not pure, but in comparison to other countries it has been more tolerant than any other country that I can recall. Understanding our history is fundamental to understanding our culture. We should all study it so that we are not at the mercy of those fashionable historians and do not have our country defined by them.
These same people who claim that it is necessary to become a republic to assert our independence, happily accept the neo-colonialist policies of multiculturalism and so-called integration with Asia. In fact the case for a republic is justified on this basis.
The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Senator Bolkus, is only one of many who have said that we must have a republic because multiculturalism makes our present system redundant. He sets up a straw man, claiming a position which does not exist - namely that we are still subservient to Britain - and then presents his supposedly enlightened alternative.
By using the policy of multiculturalism in this way as a justification, Bolkus betrays just how much the push for a republic is a creature of the elites. The policy of multiculturalism, fundamentally a system of patronage of so-called ethnic leaders and bureaucrats, is deeply unpopular with the general public.
The old time republicans of the 1890s, such as Henry Lawson, must be rolling in their graves at the sight of the poseurs and opportunists who have usurped their name and cause. These chardonnay socialists and silver spoon-fed merchant bankers imagine they are fighting the establishment!
Republicans like Malcolm Turnbull and Geraldine Doogue are establishment figures. They are just a different sort of establishment, one made up of a coalition of fashionable, politically correct elites. Not only is the Keating Republic, or what I call the politically correct or P.C. Republic, de rigueur among the media elite, it is also strongly backed by the arts industry.
The arts elite has shown just how independent minded it is by licking political boots in return for funding favours. Of course this lobby, led by the Australia Council, is strong for political correctness in general, which incorporates the Keating republic.
There are very few artists, a handful, who are prepared to speak out against political correctness. Most are either silent, or like the bulk of the media, active propagandists. These people claim to be the consciences of our nation. Keating once boasted that he had various economic figures in his pocket. He certainly has the arts industry in his pocket.
Then consider the academic elite, once again most of its vocal members are all for political correctness and the Keating Republic. Add to these people the bulk of the senior bureaucracy, many senior political leaders, high powered merchant bankers and businessmen and you have a very powerful establishment.
Leading supporters of a republic have gone so far as to openly advocate not only economic, but political integration with Asia. This would end in the dissolution of our country. Senator Gareth Evans said recently that the Randwick-based Asia-Australia institute was in the "forefront of the debate on how Australia should manage its relationship with Asia". The head of this institute, Dr Stephen FitzGerald, stated in an interview published on 20 November 1993, that economic integration wasn't enough and he was prepared to advocate and I quote, "some kind of ultimate political confederation", with Asian countries. How could we possibly retain our integrity as a nation in such circumstances? How does this equate with national independence?
Yet this sort of process is advocated by that great republican Senator Gareth Evans, and others of his ilk. He has also openly stated that Australia will have to cede aspects of its sovereignty in order to fit in to his grand plan.
SIGNING AWAY OUR SOVEREIGNTY THROUGH U.N. TREATIES
At any rate, we see our sovereignty being eroded in the use of the external affairs power to override our own states on the one hand and cede sovereignty to United Nations bodies on the other. Senator Rod Kemp has delivered an excellent speech on this subject recently to the Samuel Griffith Society. I recommend that you obtain a copy and read it. It shows how the government is basically signing away our sovereignty through UN treaties and giving power over our affairs to foreign bodies, in order to increase its own power over the states.
Although I am strongly against those who want to totally rewrite our constitution, I personally favour one change: a new section making it clear that no government has the power to sign any foreign treaties or UN resolutions that compromise our sovereignty without the mandate of an election or referendum.
Another way in which our sovereignty has been eroded is the increasing tendency of courts to impose sudden changes in the law, on the basis of so-called social justice principles, rather than interpret the law in an evolutionary and orderly way.
Traditionally in the Westminster system, which we have inherited and adapted from Britain, the parliament is the supreme law making body. Apart from the common law, which is supposed to evolve, not jump suddenly away from past precedent, the courts are supposed to interpret the law which parliament has made.
The parliament is supposed to be directly representative to the people. This principle of course has itself been compromised, but at least with an elected parliament, there is a stronger chance for the public, if organised, to exert pressure on politicians.
When courts take it upon themselves to make law in an arbitrary manner, the public can exert no such pressure. The judges are not elected officials; they have no fear of the ballot box. When they impose new class law on their own account they are, in effect, dictating law to general public. And the public is unable to express its disapproval by voting them out of office.
By this I do not intend to suggest that the independence of the judiciary should be compromised. It is in fact disturbing to see well advanced plans to supposedly re-educate judges in so-called gender awareness. Justice Diedre O'Connor has organised a re-education campaign for judges who don't measure up.
It has even been suggested, by the visiting vice-chairwoman of the American Bar Association, that a so-called "merit panel" should be established to screen judges before they are selected to test their views on gender awareness and other politically correct matters. If they fail to meet the politically correct standard, the vice-chairwoman recommends they not be selected. This road leads to fascism. I am not advocating anything like that. I simply state that if judges take it upon themselves to dictate laws, they will find themselves becoming increasingly part of the political battle and in danger of being held in contempt by the public. If the public loses faith in our judicial system then it will be in danger of being defied and our stability as a nation will be threatened.
In the end it is in the best interests of judges themselves to take their responsibility to the majority of Australians seriously. This is what I am asking them to do - consider their responsibilities to the wider community.
If we take the example of the High Court decision in Mabo, we see that this is a case where a majority of the judges have put themselves above the general community, instead of being responsible to it. Whatever might be said about the judgement, some of the language, particularly from Judges Gaudron and Deane, was highly emotive and included the phrase "unutterable shame" in respect of past treatment of Aboriginals. By doing this they symbolically separate themselves from that history and absolve themselves of blame. They can see the shame so they are pure; people who contest their version are by implication part of the society and the process they condemn.
SETTING UP OF A SEPARATE BLACK STATE IS ON THE AGENDA
Aboriginal Affairs have not only been manipulated for the guilt value by multiculturalists to suit their own agendas, let there be no doubt that the setting up of a separate black state is on the agenda of many Land Councils, churches and the legions of the politically correct.
I am concerned with improving conditions in a practical way for Aboriginals in health, education and employment and believe the push for such a state would not only be bad for Australia, but for Aboriginals as well. I can assure you that the majority of Aboriginals I speak to have no desire for such a state.
I am concerned with maintaining the integrity of our Nation, so that our best traditions of tolerance, free speech and free assembly can flourish. This is why I strongly oppose racial vilification legislation. This legislation is justified in high moral terms of course, but it is just a way of silencing public critics of immigration and multiculturalism. It is part of the process of imposing intellectual uniformity to suit the agendas of the anti-democratic elites.
For our best traditions to flourish we must have a strong economy, we must have a system in which the democratic will of the majority is taken seriously. We must have a system in which officials are responsible to the people and are accountable to the people in the spending of public funds.
As our economy declines those in the grievance industry continue to build their empires and extract public money for the purpose. In so doing they contribute to our economic decline, while through they're various politically correct bodies and laws they erode our democratic foundations. In the end we will all suffer, but they will continue to howl out for their rights. These are precisely the sort of people in the vanguard of the republic push.
It is a supreme irony that the Prime Minister, Mr Keating, claims that becoming a republic is the key to increasing our national independence and self-respect. Our national sovereignty has been declining, not increasing in recent years.
Our national sovereignty, that is to say our ability as a people to influence the destiny of our country, is being compromised with each passing year. Whether or not we become a republic will make very little difference to this process.
AUSTRALIA'S MASSIVE AND INCREASING FOREIGN DEBT
The most obvious way in which our sovereignty has been eroded has been through Australia's massive and increasing foreign debt. It is easy to understand the effect of this debt if we consider debt at a personal level.
If an individual is running a business for example and borrows from a bank to keep it afloat, the more that business goes in debt to the bank, the greater the control the bank has over the business. This is precisely what is happening to Australia, overseas economic interests have an increasing say in how our economy operates.
With a business if the debt gets bad enough the bank can directly intervene and dictate how the business itself should be run in order to recover the debt. This can happen to Australia. It has happened in the past.
In 1931 during the Scullin Government the Bank of England effectively intervened on behalf of our major, then British creditors, with recommendations which were subsequently taken up by the Commonwealth and Premiers in the so-called Premier's Plan. This plan involved a savage cut in outlays. So if Australia does not gain control of its debt intervention could occur again, but this time, instead of the Bank of England, it will be the International Monetary Fund which dictates terms.
Our major concern should be providing jobs for our own people. Unemployment must be tackled by providing, not just any jobs, but meaningful jobs. It would, I suppose, be possible to have full employment with our people working in menial, low paying jobs. I am not prepared to see my children become drink waiters and street sweepers in their own country, as I am sure you are not.
We must provide a future for our children with good jobs and have the courage to put our faith in our own capacity to succeed. Continuing to import skilled labour denies training opportunities to our children so they can get good jobs.
Getting good jobs means good education opportunities in universities. Yet opportunities are denied locals by the practice of universities taking large numbers of overseas students. While universities deny that this displaces locals, in fact universities have effectively and deliberately taken large numbers of overseas students in preference to locals in prime courses, such as medicine, engineering and computing. These are the very courses that are supposed to make us the clever country. This is done because overseas students pay full fees and universities have discretion over the use of those fees. It is simply more financially attractive to take such students. Why is that not being addressed?
We have to put our own population first. If we don't nobody else will. That also means that locals must make the effort to be involved in the political process. If they just sit back and hope others will do the job then their country will be taken from them.
WE NEED A SENSIBLE INDUSTRY POLICY
In order to provide good jobs we need a sensible Industry Policy. Industry policy is the arrangement of circumstances to provide the best opportunities for chosen industries to develop, thrive and to continue. It is not just directions for manufacturing in isolation, it has to be integrated with influences as diverse as industrial relations, immigration policy, social welfare policy, taxation, environmental policy, research and development policy, foreign aid, government purchasing policy and above all, government attitude to its own people and country.
Industry Policy has to be sensibly integrated with such other policies; because taken together they have a direct bearing on employment opportunities and the future prosperity of Australia. For example it is absurd to continue to bring in large numbers of unskilled, non-English speaking people in our immigration program when employment opportunities for people of this background are dramatically shrinking.
Government, though the tax system and other means should encourage investment in productive industry and not mere property development and speculation. This unproductive squandering of investment in property for short term gain was not only a feature of the 1980s, but has occurred repeatedly through our history. Immigration has historically been used to fuel such booms - most notably in the 1830s and 1880s - only to end in devastating economic depressions and severe debt. If the pattern continues there will come a day where our debt will be so large it will cripple us.
Government spending in general has to be very closely scrutinised and the massive wasted funding which goes to various unrepresentative lobbies and their fat cat bureaucrats redirected productively to the benefit of the community. This will involve a front-on attack on various politically correct holy cows, including the socially divisive policy of multiculturalism. There will be a media storm, but any government with the courage to ride out the empty sound and fury will find they have the support of the vast bulk of the general public.
We also have to reward initiative and work against the mentality that the country owes people a living. To do that though we have to create jobs and that needs a common sense industry policy.
The following policies are key to an integrated industry policy:
- Identify our industry sectors with growth potential and support them with sensible bounties, taxation incentives and accessible finance.
- Use government purchasing policy and a real economic cost model to give these growth sectors a sound domestic base.
- Integrate (not diversify) our workforce.
- Reduce immigration, especially during recession.
- Establish a charter of duties for trusties of superannuation funds, leading to long term investment in developing business, to match the long term requirements of retirees.
- Re-establish the Commonwealth Development Bank as the source of development finance for new and growing productive business.
- Immediately increase funding for Defence, DITAC, and DEET R and D programs and CSIRO, and look to finding positions for talented young unemployed researchers.
- Modify the constitution to allow citizens initiated referendums, according to the model suggested by Professor Walker of Queensland University. This is needed to impose some discipline on executive government and the courts.
At any rate, the push for a Republic involves all the baggage I have mentioned earlier - notably the policy of multiculturalism and Asianisation - which would reduce us to a colony. This links in with the grievance industry and the flight from responsibility to the public. Not only that, but the public is actually being systematically excluded from having a say in the policies it is forced to fund.
THE CHALLENGE FOR AUSTRALIA
I want Australia to stand on its own two feet and advance proudly. The challenge for Australia is build a positive vision which can achieve that end and unite us. For that to happen, people in authority must feel a responsibility to the entire society and not just those who claim to represent sections of it.
The government boasts of the increase in the export of elaborately transformed manufacturing industries. It is justified in doing so. These industries have grown at an average rate of 10.3 per cent since 1983. Unfortunately the base from which it grew was very small. Even more unfortunately imports of this same sort of product have increased at a faster rate off a bigger base. So relatively speaking, we are falling behind in this area, despite the encouraging export growth. This is not acknowledged by this government and does not appear to be understood by the opposition.
What has to be understood is that an import replacement dollar is the same as an export dollar. Because so many of our exports are capital intensive and primary industry requires little labour, import replacement is where we must look for jobs for our children.
A BASIC LESSON OF HISTORY
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), as a means of assistance to Australia, has been greatly over-rated. While Australia may wish to virtuously follow its strictures, other countries, immediately upon signing, seek to circumvent them. The more economically powerful the nation the more effectively it can do this. There is nothing remarkable about this. It is a basic lesson of history. So only a fool sees the salvation of his country in the strict observance of international agreements by other countries. There must be a fall-back position. Countries must take out insurance to protect their own interests.
Where the GATT is used, as it often is, as an excuse for not assisting local industries, it becomes a dangerous idol and while it is heresy to say so, I believe there is considerable potential in pursuing bi-lateral trade agreements.
Is it of course, arrant nonsense to suggest that our present status as a Constitutional Monarchy affects our viability as a nation, but the widening dichotomy between city and country, between the haves and have nots and the division fostered by the policy of multiculturalism are most certainly all acting to break down national cohesion. This cohesion is vital for our economic future.
Increasing foreign debt and foreign ownership, slavish adherence to United Nations Treaties, the adoption by all major parties of what is in reality a cargo cult mentality, in that they believe that our salvation will come from somewhere else and that our future lies in becoming Asian, are fundamental threats to achieving real Australian independence.
I do not believe our basic problems are insurmountable. They are fundamentally psychological. We need to believe in ourselves and give assistance to our own country and our own people. We have the talent and the capacity if we accept that our problems must be solved at home and that if we don't assist our own then no body else will. We need to counter those people who have bled and undermined this country with their anti-Australian propaganda. We need to assert the great positives of our history and heritage, not in a narrow way, but in order to provide that boost to morale and confidence which is fundamental to social and economic health.
AUSTRALIA CAN ACHIEVE TRUE NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE
I am interested in coming to grips with our problems of substance, not in window dressing exercises like the Republic. Australia can achieve true national independence only if we are prepared to stand on our own two feet as a nation and accept that our salvation lies in our own efforts. We will not achieve independence by pretending to be something we are not or by clutching to the apron strings of Asia. To be truly independent we have to take the hard decisions, we have to take the risk on our own people, we have to revive a strong Australian national feeling. All this will take courage, it will take commitment and it will need us as Australians to take responsibility for ourselves and our country. However, I, unlike some other politicians, have faith in the ability and character of my own people. I believe Australians have the will and the substance to engage in the struggle and emerge as winners.
2 September 1994