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5 February 1971. Thought for the Week: "Western men - the first in history who have attached serious value to time - can 'set the clock back' if they wish - what they have made by false ideas, they can unmake if they will return to the right ones.
Sir David Kelly in The Hungry Sheep.
LIBERAL PARTY COULD FACE DISINTEGRATION
"A warning that the Liberal Party could face disintegration was given by the former Minister for National Development, Mr. Fairbain, at the weekend. He told the Queensland Young Liberal Convention at Toowoomba, Queensland that the Party's greatest problem was its inconsistency and its willingness to yield to minority parties and pressure groups. He said that next year after the Federal elections the Government might find itself 'not' the Government but the Opposition." The Australian. February 1.
We do not agree with every view expressed by Mr. Fairbairn, but once again he has demonstrated that he has the courage to draw attention publicly to his own party's departure from its own foundation principles, and the inevitable political consequences if those principles continue to be violated.
As close students of the Australian political scene over the post-Second World War years, we have seen the creation of the Liberal Party and its sweep to office in 1949 on the anti-Socialist wave created by the Chifley Labor Government's impetuous attempt to nationalize the Australian banking system and have then witnessed the Liberal-Country Party coalition progressively embrace the very philosophy and policies it was elected to oppose.
In the early days of the anti-Socialist crusade many sincere men and women with an understanding of principles were attracted to the Liberal and Country Parties. Those were the days when Hayek's Road to Serfdom was a type of bible for Liberal and Country Party speakers. Many were familiar with Lord Hewart's New Despotism. Many a speaker for the Liberal and Country Parties made use of Eric Butler's notes on the Fabian-Socialist conspiracy. There was some genuine understanding of the nature of a true Federal system and the urgent necessity for decentralising power.
The retreat from principles started within months of the 1949 victory of the Liberal-Country Party coalition. Initially a few feeble efforts were made to implement promised policies, but the Federal bureaucratic power machine proved too strong. Commenting on the current plight of the Federal Liberal Party, Sydney political writer Alan Reid has expressed the view that as the Liberal Patty was the creation of Sir Robert Menzies, its political fortunes only started to ebb when Sir Robert relinquished the leadership of the Party. While most political observers would agree that the Menzies leadership was far superior to that of the Holt or Gorton leadership, it is a superficial view that the threatened disintegration of the Liberal Party only started with the departure of Sir Robert Menzies.
It is generally overlooked today that
in spite of the dramatic Petrov affair in 1954, the late Dr.
H. V. Evatt very nearly won the Federal Elections of that
year. In fact if it had not been for the special selective
anti-Evatt campaign conducted by The League of Rights and
associated anti-Socialist groups, Dr. Evatt would probably
have become Prime Minister and the course of Australian political
history would have been rather different. One day the full
story of the special anti-Evatt campaign of 1954 may be told.
The truth is that the Holt and Gorton Administrations inherited a long retreat from principles. The more obvious signs of that retreat were showing up clearly before Sir Robert Menzies stepped down. The caliber of the Members of both the Liberal and Country Parties has declined. The disastrous Gorton leadership merely reflects the deep malaise in both Parties. As Mr. Fairbain pointed out in his address to the Queensland Young Liberals, the Liberal Party did not give the impression of operating long-term policies. He said, "We jump from ad hoc decision to ad hoc decision... "
Mr. Fairbairn may not be too strong on finance-economics, but he is correct when he warns "If we are looking for the cause of lowering support for the Liberal Party I believe the number one reason is still the continual bickering between the States and the Commonwealth on financial relations." Mr. Fairbain went on to say that while the last Federal Council meeting of the Liberal Party had agreed on the necessity of returning to the States 'The right to share directly in income tax or some suitable form of gross tax", the Gorton Government had subsequently done nothing about the matter.
Apparently the Queensland President of the Liberal Party, Mr. E. L. Robinson, was not too enthusiastic about Mr. Fairbain's frank speaking: "... if you speak your mind too often it becomes a luxury you and the party cannot afford. You have to be very careful what you say, especially in the presence of the Press."
The growing disintegration of both the Liberal and Country Parties is not going to be halted by attempting to smother the healthy criticism of men like Mr. Fairbairn. The disintegration can only be stopped by a return to basic principles. If the Liberal and Country Parties lack the internal health to do this, no amount of political gimmickry can halt their political decline. Electors disgusted with the betrayal of principles by the Liberal-Country Party coalition will seek other forms of political representation. We express the opinion that Australia has reached a major political watershed, and that it is out of the current dissatisfaction with all the major political parties that a new and healthier approach to politics is developing.
THE A.L.P. WHITEWASH IN VICTORIA
"A mass meeting of A.L.P. rank and file yesterday backed proposals to reform the Victorian branch. The meeting voted for proposals by the A.L.P. advisory council. The council was appointed by the Federal executive to plan reconstruction of the branch, following Federal intervention last September. The proposals are expected to be fully approved by the executive." - The Age (Melbourne), February l.
General press coverage and editorial comment has given the impression that the Left wing has suffered a major defeat in the reconstruction of the Victorian branch of the A.L.P. The truth is rather different. One group of Left-wingers has defeated another group of Left-wingers not primarily because they disagree with the basic policies of their opponents, but because the method of promoting those policies have been electorally disastrous for the Labor Party.
Communist influence inside the A.L.P. has been exercised primarily through the Communist-controlled Trade Unions. The Trade Unions are still given majority representation in the reconstructed Victorian Branch. There were some bitter exchanges during the conference at the Melbourne Festival Hall, but a key to the reality of the situation was provided by Dr. Jim Cairns, who was given "enthusiastic applause" when he made an impassioned appeal for unity late in the conference. Dr. Cairns knows what is what. It now remains to be seen whether the whitewash by the sophisticated Left wingers of the Federal Executive of the A.L.P. will produce the electoral reactions so necessary if Labor is to win at the Federal Elections in 1972.
MR. DOUG ANTHONY SUPPORTS PHILOSOPHY OF BIGNESS
"He (Mr. Anthony) has frequently suggested that the best answer to falling primary export prices is more efficient production on larger units; in general he holds that government aid should be used to reform rural industry on these lines rather than support uneconomic units in continued inefficiency.... Outlining his philosophy in an interview last year, Mr. Anthony admitted that the reorganisation of the industry would decrease 'where necessary' the number of farms in the country." - John Hallows in a profile of the new Federal Country Party leader in The Australian, February 3.
Mr. Anthony is weak on both finance-economics and logic. If this is not the case, then he is a master of double-talk. Measured realistically, smaller and medium sized farmers are generally much more efficient than larger farmers. But if larger production units are much more efficient, as Mr. Anthony believes, then it is elementary logic that there will be progressively greater over-production.
Mr. Anthony is on record as saying that the Australian wage structure will be doubled in the next ten years. Typically of the brainwashed political rubber stamps of the economic "experts", he repeats, for political purposes, the cracked record about the evils of inflation but at the same time accepts that it is "inevitable". This means that as inflation continues, "reconstruction" will inevitably require bigger and bigger units. But already it has become clear that the overwhelming majority of existing primary producers do not see the much publicised "reconstruction" schemes as a means whereby they can leave the land they love - "with dignity", as the public relations men put it - but as a means whereby they can increase their size.
As one press commentator has observed, it is obvious that the voluntary system of "reconstruction" will have to be replaced with Government compulsion. Government compulsion is the end result of all policies not based on realities.
Probably because of his own background, Mr. Anthony relies heavily on the academic theorists. A report in The Sun (Melbourne) of February 3, raises the question of whether he will get much realistic advice from Mrs. Anthony: "Mrs. Anthony, an arts graduate, from Sydney University, was keenly interested in student politics in her undergraduate days. Her pet hate was the White Australia policy. "I'm much more idealistic than Doug - he is essentially very practical", she said. Mr. Anthony's "practical" approach to rural problems could see him presiding over the disintegration of the Australian Country Party.
SLANTING THE NEWS FROM SOUTH AFRICA
"Johannesburgh, January 28 - The Anglican Dean of Johannesburgh, the Very Reverend Gonville-French Beytagh, was released on $6,214 bail today when he appeared in court charged under the Suppression of Communism Act. He was accused of having dealings with the banned South African Communist Party and the African National Congress. After a 50 minute hearing the case was adjourned until February 26." - The Age, (Melbourne), January 27.
When the South African police first took action against the Dean of Johannesburg, the daily press generally burst into hysterical cries that the reverend gentleman was being persecuted simply because he was opposed to the South African policy of separate development. At this stage no charges had been made against the Dean, at least not in public, but the editorial writers had no difficulty in pronouncing him innocent of whatever he was supposed to have done. Now that formal charges have been laid against the Dean, there have been no apologies, but a continuation of the slanting of the news concerning the case in an endeavour to convince the world that the Dean is a victim of his anti-Government stand on separate development, and that the South African Government is now conducting a vendetta against the clergy following the visit to South Africa of Archbishop Ramsay and his wild accusations against the Government.
ON TARGET BULLETIN
SUBJECT FOR DISCUSSION
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