There I was at the National Press Club, to hear the new Prime Minister. Some years have passed since I was last there. Often the take-home message has been given to the media, so you know what the speech is all about. But not this time. I had my recorder on, and I can tell you that this is exactly what he said.

Friends, he said, I have heard a lot of people speak in this renowned venue, and most of them look happily to the future, because of what they and their government, or their corporation, are going to do. They tend to pass quickly over the problems that will face them in achieving their goals. I understand the reasons all too well. I am going the other way, and what I say may not make my listeners happy. But there is no help for it. These things have to be said, and they should have been said many years ago.

First, governments can’t do everything. Indeed, they should not try to do everything. They should not set impossible goals. One of my distinguished predecessors set the goal of no Australian child having to live in poverty. We still have poverty. Governments do not control all the factors that lead to poverty. But there is a widespread perception in our country that if there is a problem ‘they’ will fix it. ‘They’ means our government, at whatever level. Some problems are not fixable now, and some may not be solved at all. It is easy to throw money at problems, a sign that the government takes the problem seriously. It is easier to talk about the problem, even to set up a committee or a commission, which will report in a year or two. When the report arrives, there will be new problems. You have all seen this process. My government won’t be going down those paths. We will say, most of the time, that some of these are problems that people have to solve for themselves, or learn to cope with. Tough? Yes, but necessary.

Second, there is no money tree. We could, if the electorate were so minded, raise a great deal more money to fund even more services. In my view it is better for people to use their own money to make good decisions for themselves than it is for governments to tell people what to do and how to do it, using the same money, or even more. Yes, there have to be safety thresholds, but the ordinary expectation is that these safety markers are for emergency, not as standard practice. My government can provide information to help people make better decisions, especially in areas of health and welfare. But if people choose not to profit from this information, then that is a decision that they make. We are not there to pick them up when they fall down. That is a job for their family and friends. They have no family or friends? Then it is a job for the charities. We may very well support the charities in some of their work, but government itself is not a charity.

Third, my government will concentrate on what I see as its core functions: defend the nation, with the States and Territories help to maintain law and order, ensure that essential infrastructure is there, and maintain cordial relations with other nations. Though Australia is a member of the United Nations, we do not see global governance as the right aim. We first need to ensure that all nations have approximately equal standards of living. We will not sign up to any UN treaty or agreement that is not squarely in Australia’s interest. Indeed, we will be much more interested in bi-lateral agreements with other nations than in universal treaties that do not work very well, that are high in aspiration but low in the possibility of implementation.

Fourth, we have a new religion in our land, and it exists elsewhere as well. It is a sort of environmentalism, and its current manifestation is a call for Climate Action! Let me make clear that whether or not we are heading for hell in a hand-basket in terms of fossil fuel usage is a matter about which there is considerable disagreement. Given what I have said before it is important that my government takes this matter seriously. But that does not mean that we take one side or the other. It is most important that our nation has a reliable, accessible, safe and cheap supply of electricity. That cannot come simply from so-called alternative sources.  They are erratic and expensive of land use. We have abundant coal, and should use it until there are better sources. My government is not against nuclear power, but it is expensive, and building nuclear reactors will take much time. We cannot avoid the use of coal, at least for the next twenty or thirty years. But my government will put funds into better research into climate factors, taking both sides equally seriously.

Finally, you will see that this manifesto of mine makes something of a break with the past, and I will need to persuade the Australian people that this is the right way to go. A lot of people will be upset, especially those who form lobby groups whose aim is get government to do something they want done, at the expense of the rest of us. My advice to them is to explore what can be done without government intervention, though community action especially. Government, to repeat, is not there to do everything, but to a do a small number of things very well. If it does those well, there will be less need for intervention in other areas. Where something ought to be done at a level lower than that of the nation we will support the relevant State or Territory to do what we all agree should be done. The same will apply to local issues, where the right body will be the local government council. Again, we will support it and the State, without wishing or trying to take the matter over. It might have been better at Federation had the founding colonies agreed to become agents of the new Commonwealth. It might have been better, but it didn’t happen, and was most unlikely to happen. Still, 120 years later we can see that the growth of central power, not just here but across the world, has reached the point where a lot of what central governments do is almost counter-productive. The right decision will be made locally, not centrally.

Thank you for giving me your attention. I am willing to take questions.

It was at that point that I woke up. It had been a dream.




Join the discussion 25 Comments

  • Turnitup says:

    Thanks Don – you had me going there!

  • Karabar says:

    You got me. I was thinking “Did he really say all that?”
    As you say, “Pity”. Only in dreams.

  • Peter Ridd says:

    I had worked out it must have been Howard by the fourth paragraph, and then got more and more confused, until the last line.

  • Lauchlan McIntosh says:

    Nice Don. Some years ago an ex NFF President became a Federal Minister and before his formal address to the Press Club said: “Until I was in parliament I never realised how many of you come to Canberra with your hands out!” So; “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”. I guess many of us are guilty in some way. Other industry leaders have had the temerity to say to Government: “Get your hand out of my pocket and let me get on my way”. But no harm in publishing dreams, we should hope they might come true!

  • JMO says:

    I had to resist the ever stronger urgent to flip to the end to see who it was. Knew it had to be post Hawke. Keating? Nah, Howard, agree with Peter Rudd, close but no cigar. Abbott? Could it really be? Oh the suspense, all my patience and self control was in overdrive. Thanks Don, great post.

    On a another matter, can anyone explain why Methane is a far stronger ” green house” gas than CO2. Is this a fallacy pushed by the climate doom-monger? It’s absorption spectra is at approx 4.5 and 7.5 microns. The first is outside Earth’s radiation into space therefore irrelevant. The second, the 7.5 micron wavelength, has twice the energy of the 15 micron wavelength (E=h mu, h is Planck’s constant, mu is wavelength, BUT, it is very narrow absorption line whereas CO2 ‘s 15 micron absorption line is a neck of a lot wider (therefore more energy absorbed in the atmosphere ). Water vapour, at much higher ppm, absorbs some of both 7.5 and 15 microns absorption lines anyway.

    Further, Methane is much lighter gas, molecular weight 16 v CO2’s 44. Therefore a lot less weight being added to the atmophere, which adds to atmospheric pressure and therefore to temperature (PV=nRT).

    Am I missing something?

  • JMO says:

    Sorry, mu is frequency not wavelength (ie the inverse of wavelength). Double the frequency, ie halve the wavelength, double the energy.
    I should have made this clearer.

  • Aert Driessen says:

    Good grief Don, everything that you say is so bloody obvious that the only question I have is, what can we do about it? 1. Leave the UN and UN bodies, particularly IPCC and WHO. If that is not possible for whatever reason, at least embark on some serious reform with other member nations. As for domestic politics, put every serious (expensive) policy issue to a public test by means of a public debate, and costed also. Put every bureaucratic recommendation to the test whereby those qualified people who are not paid from the public purse, have equal sway. All those experts (bar a very few) who support political views that want to control the populace, only do so to preserve their jobs, particularly those ‘supposed’ scientists in BoM and CSIRO. Every senior position on a ‘non government’ Board (like the Climate Council) should be filled by votes, not appointment. Craig Kelly is the only politician I see with leadership qualities, and guts. The moment I see him silenced by the government, they will lose my vote. All wishful thinking and all I can say, like you, is “Pity!”

    • Aert Driessen says:

      We are done Scomo. That very same night I saw you on TV bagging Craig Kelly. And you know what? He is right and has the backing of the best best doctor in the country on this issue, and you believe your medical ‘expert’ who gets paid out of the same purse as you do. What do you expect? You could simply have said that in my party we are not bound to follow a common line. We are free thinkers.

  • Karabar says:

    It’s as phony as the “pandemic”.
    Here is the info you are looking for:

  • Peter E says:

    Prime Minister Aitkin received a standing ovation and his re-election is certain.
    Just recently the following letter was published in ‘The Australian’:
    ‘The city Libs rejecting calls for new coal-fired power stations (‘City Libs fire back at Nats over coal,’ January 27, p 1) are living in a world of future fantasy as evidenced by your report yesterday (‘Power grid passes the test as heatwave hits,’ Business Review, January 26, p 15), which pointed out that the energy mix on 25 January was 52 per cent black coal, 22 per cent brown coal, 5 percent gas, 8 per cent hydro, 7 per cent wind and 6 per cent solar. Set within a geological time frame, carbon dioxide levels are not unusual, sea levels, hurricanes, global temperatures, droughts, bushfires and floods are perfectly normal, so there is no urgency about any transition to wind turbines, solar panels and batteries, the manufacture and disposal of which are neither clean nor renewable. Build the reliable coal-fired power stations now and super-charge manufacturing and other industries in Australia. Set a use-by date of 2050 and if, in the interim, the so-called renewables have proven their worth, then by all means transition to the brave new world.’
    Well, it wasn’t published but it was sent.

  • whyisitso says:

    Reminiscent of “The Green Green Grass of Home”.

  • Peter S says:

    It was a nice dream while it lasted!

  • Boxer says:

    A shame, is it not, that by the time anyone passes through the meat grinder of politics and becomes a cabinet minister, let alone a prime minister, all the backbone they had at the beginning had been reduced to small particles. So many deals have been done, compromises made, and skeletons boxed up and stashed in cupboards …

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    I cannot but hope there is another outbreak in Melbourne, forcing Mad Dan to cancel the Australian Open.

  • Chris Warren says:

    I really do not know what to make of this sort of stuff.

    • Boambee John says:

      That might be because your focus on particular obsessions limits your imagination?

      PS, are you able to inform us which branch of climate science you specialise in? Given your confident pronouncements on the subject, it must be something central to the field, such as atmospheric physics.

      • Chris Warren says:


        • Aert Driessen says:

          Chris, your use of the English language falls short. Your use of a hyphen is not appropriate in the context you portray. A ‘horizontal hyphen’ (!) would have conveyed your message much more accurately.

          • Chris Warren says:

            Maybe – notice the trolling that always erupts from Boambee…

          • Boambee John says:


            You are always happy to dish out insults, but not so keen to be (if I may borrow a phrase from you) “repaid in your own coin”?

            Dry your tears. That you did not “know what to make” of Don’s post shows a lack of imagination. Live with it.

        • Boambee John says:


          Always good to engage in civilised discourse. It is a pity you are not capable of doing so.

          Are you too humble to boast about your high qualifications as a climate scientist?

  • Alessandro says:

    By the third para I was thinking this can’t be, when has a politician ever switched on to what the majority of the electorate is thinking? By the fourth I knew this was BS but couldn’t believe Don would write BS so on to the fifth para during which I had to go to the bottom where credulity was invoked. This was the greatest speech an Australian PM never made. It needs promulgation to the masses so how do we do that?

    • Boambee John says:


      Indeed, a wonderful speech that really needs to be widely known. It is a pity that most of our elected representatives lack the courage to make it, but cower in fear of being unpersoned by the dictators of social media.

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