January 27 1978. Thought for the Week: "When struck by a thunderbolt, it is then too late to consult the book of dates."
Old Chinese Proverb.
THE LULL BEFORE THE NEXT STORM:
By Eric D. Butler
Mr. Fraser no longer can exploit Mr. Gough
Whitlam. He can no longer keep harping on what the Labor Party allegedly
did, and how he needs time to remedy Labor's disasters. Mr. Fraser
said before Christmas that Australia was now over the hump"; that
the economy was now on a sound basis: that unemployment would progressively
fall, along with interest rates, in the first half of 1978; that there
would be no further reduction in the inflation rate.
Only a few years ago it was stated by Mr. Fraser's predecessors that an inflation rate of 3-4% was disastrous. As of course it was. But now it is argued that any figure less than 10% is acceptable. Mr. Fraser claims as a great achievement his Government's alleged reduction of the inflation rate to 9%. Assuming that this figure is a rough reflection of reality, it has been achieved only by inflicting upon the Australian people massive economic, social and spiritual damage.
The young Australian forced to accept social welfare because of a policy which denies him the opportunity of meaningful participation in the economic system, may be psychologically damaged for life. He becomes potential raw material for the violent revolutionaries. And what of the tens of thousands of smaller business organisations forced into bankruptcy because of the Fraser Government's policies for lowering the inflation rate?
In the years not so far ahead Australians may pay a bitter price for the lack of an adequate defence programme. Even though there has been enormous unused production potential for defence, the Government has argued that the "fight against inflation must take precedence over a maximum defence programme.
As yet large numbers of urban Australians do not realise that much of rural Australia is experiencing the greatest tragedy in its history. The widespread drought conditions have merely aggravated a deep-seated disease, which must, unless tackled, have awesome national consequences. The Fraser-Anthony Government has argued that it could offer no financial relief, once again because of its "fight" against inflation. The pre-election gimmick of a Rural Bank will prove one of the cruelest hoaxes ever inflicted upon the desperate rural community. Eventually the backlash against this hoax could be explosive.
Even now in the lull following the elections, with an atmosphere of "let us wait and see", there are signs of hedging by the Government. It has been discovered that the famous deficit is much larger than anticipated, and therefore it is suggested that the promised reduction in interest rates may have to wait. Government spokesmen did concede that the latest unemployment figures were disturbing, with Mr. Tony Street, ever clutching at straws, claiming that the drought was a major factor retarding the much promised growth in the economy. However, the general theme is that it is only a matter of time when the benefits promised before the Federal Elections will be experienced and appreciated by the Australian people.
The truth is that unless the Government is prepared to challenge the bureaucratic financial "experts", and implement financial policies which will reduce financial costs and effectively increase consumer purchasing power, the current situation can only be described as a type of lull before the next storm breaks. Mr. Fraser has obtained, as did Mr. Gough Whitlam before him in 1974, a short-term political advantage, which will prove as unreliable as his pre-election promises. When the inevitable storm breaks once again Australian electors will have the opportunity to press for policy changes, which might ensure that Australia moves off the disaster course on which it is now travelling.
THE WIDER ASPECTS OF SECURITY
One of the most important comments concerning the developments, which have followed Premier Dunstan's sacking of Police Commissioner Harold Salisbury, has come from Victorian Acting Premier, Mr. Thompson. Mr. Thompson correctly observes that Members of Parliament should not be immune from the Law. "Once somebody is elected to Parliament it does not necessarily mean that he has entered the arena of the arch angels", he said. Mr. Thompson was replying to reports that the Victoria Special Branch kept records on State MP's and prominent citizens.
Former South Australian Governor Sir Marcus
Oliphant, in a strong defence of Mr. Salisbury, describes him as a
man of tremendous integrity. Sir Marcus also says that he is pleased
to know that the South Australian Special Branch had a file on him,
observing that a Special Branch should have all possible information
on prominent individuals.
If a State instrumentality is to be created for Security and Intelligence purposes, then obviously that instrumentality, if it is to be effective must be allowed to operate in secret. It is no doubt true that much material collected is, with the passing of time, irrelevant. Security officials are human and their assessments can be wrong. Our own impression is that many Security officials have only a superficial understanding of Marxism. But it is nonsense to assert, as Victorian Senator elect Mr. Gareth Evans does, that the South Australian Special Branch affair shows that people's rights are at risk.
The history of subversion during this century reveals that the most unsuspected individuals have turned out to be traitors. A few have been politicians. One of the most notorious traitors, Mr. Kim Philby, was himself a senior member of British Intelligence!
It is right and proper that all individuals employed by Governments, particularly those holding sensitive positions, should be subject to security checks. Provision can be made early for any individual to seek redress if he believes that he has been denied, for example, a promotion because of an inaccurate security report. The greatest threat is the politician, even if a Premier, who insists on having direct access to Security files.
We share the concern of Victorian Acting Premier
Thompson, who points out that Mr. Dunstan is proposing to destroy
all police Special Branch files which did not meet with his Governments
approval. Mr. Thompson insisted that Governments should not interfere
in security matters, leaving these to the discretion of the Police
Commissioner. As there appears to be no doubt that Premier Dunstan
has known for years of files kept by the South Australian Special
Branch, the important question now is what was the Premiers real motive
in sacking Mr. Salisbury in a manner which, even if legal, denied
Mr. Salisbury the most elementary natural justice.
In his formal public statement, Mr. Salisbury raised a most important question: "...whether a person as Commissioner of Police should be liable to peremptory dismissal by the political party currently in power", going on to say that '"For a long time there has been a wish on the part of certain elements and influences in South Australia to penetrate the special branch systems "
We would urge that all our South Australian
supporters join or support all movements designed to ensure that some
type of official investigation, preferably a Royal Commission, takes
place to examine all aspects of the Salisbury affair. Whether or not
Mr. Salisbury handled his clash with the Premier as effectively as
he might have is not for us to say. But we wish to be numbered amongst
those who admired Mr. Harold Salisbury for his high moral standards,
his integrity and his deep sense of loyalty to the values of traditional
"On Target" is published by the Australian League of Rights, Box 1052. G.P.O. Melbourne 3001.