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18 November 1977. Thought for the Week: "Once a determined government begins the process of eroding human rights and liberties - always with the best possible intentions - it is very difficult for individuals or for individual groups to stand against it. If the experience of other countries is anything to go by, this (increasing bureaucracy) will mean a gradual reduction in the freedom of choice and individual responsibility, particularly in such things as housing, the education of children, health care, the ability to acquire or inherit personal property, to hand on commercial enterprises, the ability to provide for old age through personal savings and the freedom of the individual to exploit his skills or talents to suit him best."
Prince Philip in a Radio Clyde regional station interview, October 1977.
THE LEAGUE OF RIGHTS AND THE ELECTION
by Eric D. Butler
In the recent ABC television programme "This
Day Tonight", I stated that the Fraser Government was one of the worst
disasters ever suffered by the Australian people, having betrayed the
high hopes of all those who were shocked by the policies and behaviour
of the Whitlam Government. While I have been applauded by several who
continue to work inside the Coalition parties, and by many others who
have left these parties in disgust, I have also been criticised by several.
What I am advocating is, of course, that electors
must reject, a phony election, replete with more silly slogans and infantile
jingles, conducted on the theme: "Well if you do not like Fraser you
must support Whitlam." Which is like saying, "If you do not like being
boiled alive, you can settle for being shot." This is an ugly form of
As many of my friends know, even during the highly emotional days prior to the defeat of the Whitlam Government, I expressed my deep reservations about Malcolm Fraser and his colleagues. Such reservations were not popular late in 1975. And when in March, 1976, I warned in the brochure, "Fraser Government on Road to Disaster," many of those still clutching at straws said that this was "unfortunate," "Give them time" was the plea. The damage done by the Whitlam Government was enormous, but as shown so graphically in the latest issue of "Enterprise", issued by The Institute of Economic Democracy, the production system of Australia is so enormous that the major problem is not production, but how to change financial rules to enable the individual maximum access to that production.
It is hard to be patient with people who swallow uncritically the crude Doug Anthony propaganda that the Whitlam years were like a storm and that the "clean up" takes time. These people forget that Whitlam only came to office because of the failures of the Coalition parties in which Mr. Anthony was Deputy Prime Minister. They forget the days when farmers were told to "get bigger or get out", and of the large-scale destruction of the rural communities before Whitlam. And in spite of the destructive impact of the Fraser Government's financial policies, a continuation of the Whitlam Government's financial policies, the production system of Australia remains basically sound and would respond immediately to any increased demand.
Any stimulation of demand along the lines being suggested by the Labor Party would be like a drug: providing short-term relief while ensuring that inflation moved upwards. A starting point for reversing the present disaster policies would be a substantial reduction in taxation, both direct and indirect.
The League of Rights is recommending that electors must attempt to take advantage of Mr. Fraser's unwanted election to make it clear to candidates, irrespective of their labels, that unless they give firm commitments on basic policy issues, they will be placed low or last on the ballot paper. Those who insist that they are going to follow passively the Coalition parties' line, and not apply pressure to individual candidates, will only have themselves to blame for what must happen next year unless a change of domestic and foreign policy direction can be forced.
The critics of the League overlook the fact that it embodies now nearly 50 years of experience dealing with the realities of power in the field of politics, finance and economics. As C.H. Douglas observed, history is not a series of disconnected episodes, but crystallized politics. The Whitlams, Frasers and others come and go, but what does not go is the philosophy of power manifesting itself through various forms of centralisation, the most important being finance. The Federal election on December 10th can be used to challenge that philosophy.
THE QUEENSLAND ELECTIONS
The Queensland election result was a personal
triumph for Premier J. Bjelke-Petersen. We were not surprised by the
firm vote for the premier. Those responsible for one of the most concerted
and vicious attacks directed against an Australian political leader
since the end of the Second World War overlooked a basic truth enunciated
by the penetrating writer Robert Ardrey, that 'external pressure equals
Before the campaign of vilification of the Premier got under way, we felt that he would lose some electoral support. But the anti-Petersen campaign ensured that loss of support for the Premier was marginal compared with the substantial loss by the Liberals, whose image has been badly tarnished by Mr. Fraser. It was pleasing to note Premier Bjelke-Petersen's firm assurance that he is not retiring from the political stage over the next three years. He could provide a major barrier to the disastrous policies, which Canberra will attempt to impose irrespective of the label of the next Federal Government.
Whether or not the strong rural support for Premier Petersen will be transferred to Mr. Doug Anthony's Federal National Party remains to be seen on December 10th. But there was one feature of the Queensland vote, which should be concerning Prime Minister Fraser: the continuing anti-Liberal electoral backlash in outer metropolitan electorates. The voting pattern in Queensland has established the reality of the Australian Democrats as a major political factor in the current political climate. They obtained 10% of the votes in the 12 seats they contested, the highest vote of over 19% being in Toowong.
In a period of growing finance economic instability, when the two major parties have been tried in quick succession, and have failed, electors always turn to the smaller parties and independents. The coming Federal elections provide responsible electors with the opportunity to insist upon firm, written contracts from candidates on basic policy issues.
The latest report by Melbourne University's Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, which has an impressive track record now for reliable predictions, does not endorse Mr. Fraser's declared optimism about the state of the economy. The Institute says that a renewed downturn in Australia's economy is under way. The temporary improvement in the inflation rate has been matched with high unemployment, which will continue next year unless the Government modifies its financial policies. The Institute has consistently advocated a cut in taxation. The fractional reduction in interest rates, announced for election purposes, can only have a marginal effect on the Institute's predictions.
President Carter has suddenly discovered that the large numbers of Cubans in Africa are a "threat to peace". His UN representative Mr. Young however, is famous for his observation that the Cuban troops in Angola were a stabilising influence! The Cubans are the clients of the Soviet, and if President Carter is serious about getting the Cubans out of Africa, he must apply pressure on their Soviet masters. The first step could be to stop financing any more economic blood transfusions to the Soviet.
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