On Monday, 22 May, Liberal party grandees, MPs and supporters will gather at a gala dinner in Canberra to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of Sir Robert Menzies’ speech, The Forgotten People.
At precisely 9.15 pm a reverential hush will descend on the assembled multitude and the actor Peter Cousens will read the speech over the wireless, just as Menzies did.
What the jolly band of celebrants does not know, however, is that this is not the only Forgotten People speech that Menzies wrote, for another and later version has now emerged from his long-lost private papers.
For months, we have had a team of history professors, all of whom have beards and wear sandals, engaged in painstaking research in a heavily fortified Safe Space at Sydney University to see if the speech could be verified and we can now reveal that this hitherto unknown masterpiece is indeed genuine.
We therefore offer it up today as a special Spectator contribution to the Liberal Party’s celebrations and wish it all the best for the future, as they will probably need it. The speech reads as follows:
My fellow Australians,
Here is my plan for the Forgotten People, the broad mass of citizens who want stability, prosperity, security and happiness for themselves, their families and their country.
My party will always stand as an unshakeable force for preserving those rocks on which our society has been built and continues to prosper – small government, no debt, low taxes, personal initiative, and the preservation of our constitution and our sacred institutions. And I give you this further pledge, that as the leader of my party I will be the chief advocate of those values. I will not abandon them simply because of a few adverse opinion polls and nor will I promote a pale shadow of the socialists’ agenda of debt, tax and wild spending, simply to curry short-term popularity.
Let me take the aspirations of the forgotten people in order and tell you what I will strive to do on each of them.
- Every budget will make the government smaller, not bigger. When you expand government, you stifle freedom and free enterprise, the greatest sources of human happiness and progress.
- Every budget will extol the virtues of the individual and what he or she can achieve by hard work and initiative. Not for me a budget that is a recital of new and inventive ways of stifling the people, increasing the burden of high taxes and wasting money on a vast array of new government schemes and controls.
- We will lay out a plan every year to pay back the debts the country owes and we will not incur any new ones. We will pay our way. Otherwise, we will go bankrupt and leave nothing but debt and despair for our children.
- There will be no special taxes on single industries like banks, who can be so easily singled out to punish because they are successful and have made profits that pay dividends, create jobs and help families to buy a home.
- We will take care of our sick, but without setting up yet another giant department of state costing billions that will impoverish the people for decades to come. And we will not lie to the people by calling it insurance when it would be just another handout to expand the government and entice the people to lean on it.
- We will reward success and encourage work by reducing taxes, not increasing them and especially by not dressing them up as levies. And we will not impose temporary taxes when we know they will be permanent.
- We will measure success in education not by how many billions we spend on it, but by whether our children are actually learning something that will be of value in their lives, and at the present it is not enough. Our objective must be at least to draw equal one day with Kazakhstan.
- Let us acknowledge that human rights are our rights and not something given to us by failed academics and people with big salaries and long names who think they know what is best for us.
- Let our old traditions stand and let us fight to stop the denigration of Anzac Day, Australia Day, Christmas and Easter and anything else that a woman in a funny turban wants to abuse, at our expense.
- You will never hear me describe the noble British settlement of Australia as an invasion or advocate that the constitutional monarchy that has brought us stability and pride should be thrown aside like a broken toy.
- We welcome migrants, but let us encourage them to become Australians, not members of little tribes huddled in their ghettos listening to their own wireless in a foreign language.
- You will never hear me say that marriage should be contorted into something it is not, even if every celebrity in the world tries to intimidate me into doing so.
- We rejoice in the wonders of nature, but honour the achievements of man: factories, farms, mines, dams and all that we can create. The sole test of whether a timber mill should be opened or closed will not be whether Leadbeater’s possum has been seen nearby.
- And you will never hear me open a meeting with the hypocrisy of a platitude about who owns the land.
- In all respects, we will leave our constitution exactly as it is.
I leave you now with this sacred charge: if I could come back to you in 75 years from now, even in my dreams, I would hope to see that you have been the faithful guardians of all these cherished principles. But then, I know you will not fail me or Australia.
God bless you all and goodnight.
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