In this Whitlam Lecture Captain Bill Bolitho sketches a story of a vital national interest subordinated throughout its life to political interests, the profits of foreign shipowners and the fanaticism of economic ideologies.

“Flint hearted merchant captains with hearts as hard as stone. Who flog men and keel haul them and starve them to the bone”


The poet was describing the management philosophy of British shipowners at the time our story begins. At a time when on average one British ship and her crew was lost every week, week in week out, year in year out. He was speaking of the time when a nineteenth century Royal Commission into Unsafe Ships found that 92% of all British ships surveyed were unseaworthy. 92%!


Of a time when many shipowners overloaded and over insured their ships at will and sent their crews to their deaths with impunity. And at the time my story begins they did ladies and gentlemen. They did. And as Peter Morris has demonstrated in his justly famous “Ships of Shame report they are still doing it when my story ends two hundred years later.


But if I were to take you through this story in detail your patience would come to an end long before the story so I will merely sketch an outline for you and leave you to flesh it out yourselves from the written paper.


I will sketch for you an industry deformed at inception by the colonial system which gave it birth.


I will sketch for you an industry stunted in its growth by the opposition of powerful and politically influential foreign shipping interests throughout its life.


An industry emasculated by the actions of anglophile politicians.


An industry diminished by the sale of its best assets to its competitors.


An industry battered by powerful, long, deep economic forces in international shipping beyond its control and competition from untaxed, largely unregulated and frequently unsafe Flag Of Convenience ships of shame manned by exploited third world crews.


I will sketch for you a story of a vital national interest subordinated throughout its life to political interests, the profits of foreign shipowners and the fanaticism of economic ideologies.


A vital national interest which now stands on the brink of extinction alongside our textile clothing and footwear, manufacturing, timber and a host of other Australian industries. For Australian flag shipping is not a thing apart from the wider economy. Something to be quarantined and excised from the body politic as this Government would have you believe. It is a vital part of and intertwined with it and any attempt to replace it with untaxed, unregulated, unsafe Flag of Convenience ships of shame manned by exploited third world crews will also be an attack on that wider economy of which Australian flag shipping is inescapably a part.


Once entered into our waters and our domestic economy the exploited third world guest workers on the ships of shame will inevitably also enter our wider economy. Once the dyke is breached the flood follows and that flood of exploited foreign guest workers will sweep away more than the Australian flag shipping industry I assure you.


Well, if we are in this perilous situation, and in my view clearly we are, what can we do about it. What material do we have to work with in defence of our industry, our livelihoods, and our flag. What chance do we have against the enormous and powerful forces ranged against us and of which I will tell you in my story.


We have a chance in the negotiations currently in progress between the Australian shipowners and the maritime unions. A last chance certainly, but a chance nevertheless and we must take it if our industry is to survive. For if those negotiations fail then our industry will fail with them.


Well then what do we have to work with. We have plenty as I shall show you and it all stems from the decade of reform initiated by Peter Morris.


We have a modern hi tech fleet still well below the average age of the world fleet and we have a well trained and highly skilled work force competent to operate them.


We have a maritime training institution in Launceston second to none in the world. An institution, incidentally for which we can thank Gough Whitlam. Thank you Gough.


We have, in The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, AMSA, one of the most cost efficient, competent and incorruptible maritime safety authorities in the world.


We have a decade long history of industrial co-operation and reform prior to the actions and policies of Laurie Brereton in 1994. An attitude which can be recaptured and hopefully is being recaptured in the talks going on between the owners and the unions right now. Importantly, above all, arising from those reforms we have at long last discarded the master/servant, master under god and the beasts in the foc’sle approach to industrial relations and ship operations rivetted upon us by England along with our fetters and chains.


And despite what I have to say to you tonight, there are still many honest and competent shipowners in the world who run seaworthy ships under Flags Of Convenience for tax reasons only and treat their crews fairly and justly and some of them are Australian. It must be our policy to ensure that the impact of the blind, impersonal, economic forces of international shipping on our industry is limited to arrangements with first class owners such as them and only them.


So we do have the material of our defence at hand what we now need is the wit and the will to use it.


But know your enemy is the first lesson in the survival handbook, let us now see his face.


First to sketch No. 1 of the colonial system that gave us birth.


At the time our story begins the economy of England rested, in no small part, on a triangular trade of great profitability. Beads, baubles and cotton cloth to Africa, slaves from Africa to the plantations of the West Indies and sugar, tobacco and cotton home to complete the triangle. All carried in British ships. A further strength of their economy was the trade in opium from British India to China. Opium forced upon the Chinese people against their will by the gun boats and policies of Imperial England and carried there by British shipping companies some of whom, like P.&.O., are still with us today.


No sense of decency, morality or humanity deterred these eighteenth and nineteenth century shipowners, slave traders and drug runners of England and no law restrained them. Their greed was insatiable, their crimes inhuman and their malice to those who opposed them was implacable. And it was from them that we inherited the fatally flawed structure of Australian shipping.


It was a class based structure of the master under god and the beasts in the foc’sle and the dreadful industrial relations history of our industry sprang like dragons teeth from attempts to force it upon Australian seafarers. Attempts which are still continuing today in the industrial relations policy of the present government. A policy which is as industrially obsolete now as it was when we inherited it from the slave traders and drug runners of Imperial England two hundred years ago.


Plundered by and dependant upon Britain we also inherited a system of shipping owned and controlled by Britain through its Navigation Acts, which has lead to a situation where our freight rates and shipping services are still determined today not in Australia in the light of day but in the smoke filled back rooms of London, Hamburg, Tokyo and Piraeus.


In my school days in the 1930% and early 1940’s, every Monday morning I saluted the Union Jack, pledged allegiance to the King Emperor and marched into school to the beat of the drum of empire like the good little vegemite I was. It took me a long time to realise that while we were saluting the Union Jack, Jack was picking our pockets.


Now to sketch No.2. The opposition from the foreign shipping interests to the fledgling Australian flag industry.


From its first drafting in 1902, until its provisions came into operation nineteen years later in 1921 the bill for an Australian Navigation Act was bitterly opposed and frustrated by British shipping interests and an imperial shipping conference was held in London in 1907 in order to – and I quote – “forestall the serious injury that will be done to the interests of British shipping and the Empire”.


Nineteen years it took to get approval from Britain to control our own trade in our own ships in our own country under our own flag because the British owners opposed it, delayed it and lobbied against it on the grounds of the serious injury that it would do to the interests of British shipping and the empire.


The 1923 Royal Commission into the Navigation Act revealed that over this nineteen year period virtually the whole of the Australian shipping industry had fallen into the hands of the Inchcape Group and that their interlocking interests were such that and I quote” it becomes patent that a comparatively few persons, mostly resident outside Australia, and with large English and foreign interests, constitute an enormous Trust which, to a large extent, controls the economic destinies of Australia.”


The conclusion of the report was that the Navigation Act had failed to build up an Australian mercantile marine and that the actions and investments of foreign shipping interests, mainly British, were responsible for that failure.


In his 1982 report on the Revitalisation of Australian shipping, which was the basis of the reforms initiated by Peter Morris, Sir John Crawford expressed surprise that Australian shipowners were represented at Government level by the Australian Chamber of Shipping, an association of foreign shipowners whose interests were inimical to those of Australian flag and that the Government accepted advice from them on matters concerning Australian shipping. You can imagine the advice that they gave. It was a major factor in stunting the growth of the industry and it was not until Australian owners set up their own association in 1986 that this ceased. Incredibly I note from the DCN of 1 August 1997 that the foreign shipowners are at it again. Peter Jones, the President of ACOSS, expressing the view in honeyed words that we should now again place ourselves under their protective wing. God forbid we should ever again allow foreign shipowners to speak on our behalf.


Sketch No.3 The emasculation of our industry by anglophile politicians.


After the sale of the Commonwealth Line in late 1928, foreign shipowners immediately announced a massive freight increase and on 12 January 1929, the Australian Prime Minister, Stanley Melbourne Bruce, sent a cable to Lord Inchcape, head of the Inchcape shipping combine which virtually controlled Australian shipping and chairman of P.&.O.


Headed most secret it said in effect.


I promised that freights would not rise when I sold the Commonwealth Line and as you have now announced freight increases my Government is certain to be defeated on a vote of no confidence and the labour party will come to office under Billy Hughes pledged to reinstate the Commonwealth Line bigger and better than before. Please defer the freight increase until I can set up a spurious committee to rubber stamp it so that I and my government may remain in office.


On 14 January 1929 Lord Inchcape replied. “Considering all you have done the least we can do is carry out your wishes.” The freight increase was deferred.


In case any one has missed the point I will belabour it. In 1929 the Government of Australia was determined not publicly by the electorate but secretly by a foreign shipowner. A shipowner who had provided financial support to the Prime Minister of Australia.


When Bruce was first approached to stand for Parliament in 1917, £2,750 was subscribed to his election fund by the National Union, a secret organisation representing wealth and privilege. £1,000 of this came from Lord Inchcape. £1,000. A massive sum in 1917.


IN THE LIGHT OF ALL YOU HAVE DONE FOR US. Well what was it that Bruce had done for the foreign shipowners to merit such consideration. The destruction and sale of the Commonwealth Line, and the removal of its downward pressure on the freight rates charged by the foreign shipping lines would have to rank high amongst the possibilities. We cannot see beyond the public record, but that in itself is a revelation.


In 1925 during a strike by seamen he suspended the Navigation Act and tried to deport the leaders of the Seaman’s Union. He introduced a raft of legislation and amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act designed to coerce the maritime and waterfront unions. Including the Dog Collar Act which introduced non union labour on the wharves and the Beeby award which grossly favoured shipowners at the expense of the watersiders.


No wonder then that Lord Inchcape would accede to a humble request from an Australian Prime Minister with such a record of support for British shipping interests. And no wonder either that Stanley Melbourne Bruce later became a Peer of England, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, and a director of P.&.O. and even less wonder perhaps that H.G.B. Larkin, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Shipping Board from 1923 to the sale of the Commonwealth Shipping Line in 1928 to British shipping interests was also rewarded with a senior position with P.&.O.


Sketch No.4 The sale of assets.


The Formation of the Commonwealth Line by Billy Hughes in 1916 was bitterly opposed by the British shipping interests. Initially it was a huge success and by keeping freight rates down, a thorn in the side of the foreign shipowners until it was sold by the Bruce Page Government in 1928 after they had already hamstrung it through the Commonwealth Shipping Act of 1923 Here is what the Oxford History of Australia has to say. “Its reorganisation in 1923 had impaired its capacity to compete with the British shipowners and its sale in 1928 (to a British purchaser who subsequently defaulted) allowed the British shipping combine to immediately increase freight rates.”


Incidentally the Chairman of the shipping line which defaulted on the purchase, Lord Kylsant, later got his just deserts. He went to jail for issuing a false prospectus.


So from its formation by a labour Government in 1916 to its demise at the hands of Stanley Melbourne Bruce and his conservative Government in 1928, the Commonwealth Line was bitterly opposed by the foreign shipping cartels and that opposition was a principal factor in its demise.


In his 1932 story of the Commonwealth Line, D.J.Amos paints a picture of a viable national flag shipping line being sunk by Prime Minister Bruce for political purposes. The parallel between Bruce and the Commonwealth Line and Brereton and ANL half a century later is uncanny.


Sketch No.5. The subordination of the interests of the nation to political interests.


It was only with the appointment of Peter Morris as Minister for Transport in 1983 that for the first time in our history Australia’s maritime interests were placed before those of foreigners. The recommendations of the Crawford committee on the revitalisation of the Australian shipping industry were adopted and the decade from then until 1994 saw a virtual alphabet soup of reform initiatives MIDC, MISA, SIRA, WIRA and a host of others.


They chart a massive and successful reform of the Australian shipping industry which it is important to understand for when the reform process was halted by the anti Australian shipping policies and actions of Laurie Brereton in 1994 massive reforms had been achieved. We were well on the way to ridding ourselves us of the fatally flawed industrial and ship operating systems inherited from Britain and shipowner confidence had resulted in investments in modern hi tech tonnage of around $1.7 Bn.


Since the actions and policies of Brereton destroyed that shipowner confidence and brought the reform process to a halt in 1994 only about $200 M has been invested, the average age of the fleet has risen from 8 years to between eleven and twelve and the number of major ships on the Australian register has fallen from 94 in 1990 to just 63 today. So we now have fewer ships and older ships than before the reforms of Peter Morris were halted by the policies of Brereton which lead to the first national strike of the maritime unions in a decade.


But there has been a strike of capital as well in response to the mounting industrial unrest flowing from the policies and actions of Brereton. The devastation caused to Australian shipping in general and to the reform process in particular by its subordination to political interests cannot be overstated.


And now to what is perhaps the core of the problem facing us today. The F.O.C phenomenon.


In December 1992 the Australian Government released the Morris report of an inquiry into the loss in close succession of six bulk carriers engaged in the carriage of mineral exports from Western Australia and the deaths of a very large number of their crews. Others have been lost since then. These are the losses which caused Dr. Peters, one of the foremost maritime economists in the world and the principle maritime adviser to the World bank to ask the question “Is there an undeclared naval war going on in Australia that all these ships are sinking and lives are being lost.


No Dr. Peters, there is not an undeclared naval war raging in Australia, but there is an undeclared economic war raging and it is not confined to Australia. It is a war that has been raging world wide for a very long time and it will rage and roar with increasing ferocity for a number of years to come.


It is a war of good ships against bad. Of humane shipowners, shippers and charterers against inhumane. It is in a very real sense a war of good against evil. For I can think of few more acts more evil than to deliberately send seamen to their deaths for profit. As Peter Morris’s Ships of Shame report and events since show it is a war we are in danger of losing.


Shipowning in the free and perfect market of international shipping has now become a system of financial asset plays with “casino ships”. A shipping entrepreneur buys an old and unseaworthy ship cheaply on credit using the ship as security, registers it in a tax haven, crews it with unskilled seamen with fraudulent certificates of competency, classes it with a bodgie classification society sight unseen, operates it through a ship manager and places it in a single ship company.


If the ship sinks or is stranded so that pollution, personal injury or other liabilities attaching to it exceed the quite small value of the ship, then the owner simply bankrupts the company and walks away to repeat the process elsewhere. Leaving the wreck and its liabilities to the bank and leaving his creditors and any crew left alive to whistle for their money. If on the other hand the ship survives for a few voyages he makes a great deal of money and is received in Canberra with the red carpet and lauded as a perfect example of the free market at work. As indeed he is.


The existing systems of international regulation and control of shipping built up over centuries have failed to control the FOC ship phenomenon and new ones have not yet arisen to take their place.


But how did it come about. It began in America in 1917 when American shipowners, aggrieved at having to pay taxes on their profits, found that by setting up a so called open register in Panama and flagging their ships out to it they could avoid paying taxes. To their great delight that they found that they could not only avoid taxation but could also evade prohibition and other laws and in 1920 two American cruise ships, the “Resolution” and the “Resolute” were flagged out to Panama.


The origin and growth of these of the open registers and all the evils that have flowed from them arose from the introduction of modern taxation systems in America in the early part of this century, the increasing efficiency of the American administration in collecting that tax and the determination of American shipowners to avoid paying it.


Evasion of the laws of their nation state and a variety of other insalubrious practices have encrusted themselves upon the original problem since then, but tax avoidance and law evasion still lie at the heart of the problem today.


Since 1917, American shipowners have chased their freedom from taxation and from their obligations under the law from U.S. flag, To Panamanian flag, to Liberian and Honduran flags and now to the Marshall Islands flag and international shipowners in their hundreds and thousands have followed in their wake in order to avoid the taxes and laws of their own native states and their obligations under International Convention such as SOLAS and MARPOL.


When the American shipowners first avoided taxation and evaded the law by setting up the first modern open register in Panama three quarters of a century ago, they triggered a cascade of developments in tax avoidance and law evasion in ocean transportation which has become an avalanche, the outcome of which cannot be foreseen. From this tiny seed there has grown a tree of prodigious evil which is now bearing an abundance of poisoned fruit. This is the fruit of which the Government would have Australians eat.


I will not weary you with the full tale of the Glory Cape loading iron ore at Dampier a few months ago where the crew were beaten with iron bars and flung into the sea. Or the tale of the Giga II discharging iron ore at Port Kembla where a corroded bulkhead collapsed injuring two workers. The ship was a perfect example of an FOC. Owned and flagged in Malaysia, managed by a Norwegian ship manager, chartered by a Japanese firm, sub-chartered by an Australian firm and crewed by Filipinos who could not read the ships operating manuals which were in Japanese.


Or the case of the Panamanian bulker “Hunter” off Newcastle in January of this year where desperate shipboard conditions caused a crew member to jump overboard. But the following extract from an editorial in the Newcastle Herald is pertinent. – “Spot the deliberate mistake. First two affluent yachtsmen get themselves in trouble in the Southern ocean and are rescued at huge cost and welcomed to Australia as heroes. Next a poor crew man from a bulk carrier risks his life to escape what he alleges are horrific conditions on board. He is labelled an unlawful non citizen…” – Homo Nullius – A man who has no human existence in our eyes. Our very own Australian twentieth century version of the slaves of the nineteenth century.


We have opened our eyes and our hearts to the dreadful effects of the myth of Terra Nullius upon our fellow Australians. We have yet to open our eyes and our hearts to the dreadful effects of Homo Nullius, the beatings degradation and deaths of third world seamen in the FOC ships that carry our trade.


But ships are inanimate objects, intrinsically neither bad nor good so that behind every bad ship there is a bad owner and behind every bad owner there must also be a bad charterer and it is these bad charterers that we need to expose in Australia not encourage and protect them through our non policy of the free lunch.


This long held policy of the senior officials of Treasury and Finance and of politicians captured by them is to destroy Australian flag shipping and move to a total dependence upon the deteorating structure of international shipping. It goes something like this:


If other nations are foolish enough to subsidise their ships and if foreign shipowners are willing to take a punt on unsafe ships and if foreign seafarers are willing to risk death in them then more fool them. Australia should partake heartily of this free lunch provided by the free market in international shipping.


Worse still the policy advocates that we open our domestic waters and domestic economy to these untaxed, frequently unsafe and virtually unregulated vessels where the ability of a casino ship owner wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef to meet a massive pollution bill is non existent. They are determined to replaced Australian seafarers with sweated, exploited third world crews on the grounds that they are cheaper and using the recent experience of the opening of the New Zealand coast as an example for Australia to follow.


The principle underlying this approach is set out succinctly in a 1994 paper by RY Cavan of Wellington University who obtained the following statement of Treasury policy under the Freedom on Information Act.


“Employing local labour is not a sound objective. Labour or any other resource for that matter should be employed if it is the most productive resource. I cannot see any good reason for favouring NZ labour if foreign labour is more efficient”


This is the council of madness. What on earth is a democratic Government for if it is not to educate, protect and provide employment for its own citizens. The policy of the New Zealand and Australian treasury and Finance officers as set out above is not the policy of a democratic Government at all. It is the policy of an oligarchy of wealth and political power and it is an immutable, iron law of economic as that in order to enrich those few you must impoverish the many.


And that Ladies and Gentlemen is exactly what the current policies of the economic rationalists in Canberra is doing. Enriching the few at the expense of the millions of ordinary Australians. Seafarers are but one of a number of groups of Australian workers being impoverished by this policy of cheap foreign labour.


Reliance on cheap imported labour instead of improving your own resources, methods, equipment and training is a recipe for the destruction of any industry whether it is textiles footwear and clothing, manufacturing or shipping for they are all intertwined together in our domestic economy and what applies to one applies to all. In the longer term it is a recipe for the destruction of society itself as the gulf between rich and poor gets wider and deeper and society itself eventually falls into it.


In advocating the entry of foreign flag ships to the Australian economy, our economic fundamentalists are following in the footsteps of the American shipowners when they avoided tax and evaded the law by flagging out to Panama in 1917. Disguise it how they will and use whatever bureaucratic euphemisms they may. They are advocating the avoidance of tax and the evasion of the law under an economic policy of reliance of the free lunch of the free market and the destruction of Australian flag shipping.


It is criminal folly for an island nation to allow the carriage of its commerce to fall into the hands of its competitors and rely solely on the deteriorating free market in international shipping. A free market where the callous and inhumane treatment of seafarers is plumbing depths of human degradation and suffering not seen since the beginning of my story two hundred year ago.


I have spoken at great length on the origins and development of the FOC vessel in order to emphasise that this phenomenon is not going to go away. It is a deep rooted and formidable economic force in international ocean transport. The short term profits to shipowners and charterers are great, immediate and certain while any sanctions or penalties are slight, distant in time and unlikely to happen at all. It is therefore going to be impossible to reverse this process until the long term damage to the environment and the structure of ocean transport becomes abundantly clear even to the most doctrinaire economic fundamentalist or more likely completely overwhelms our established controls and institutions.


Make no mistake ladies and gentlemen the rise of the FOC ship of shame is not the product of yesterday and its solution will not be the product of tomorrow. It is the result of long maturing, impersonal, deep and powerful economic forces unleashed by American shipowners in 1917 when they first showed that it was possible to avoid taxes and evade the law by flagging out to tax haven ship registers. The ultimate consequences of this cannot be foreseen.


It is ultimately madness for an island nation to pursue a course of action which welcomes these developments uncritically without reservation and with open arms. On the other hand however their total rejection is impossible. It is beyond the power of any industry or indeed any nation to completely avoid the impact of these forces. The question that must be answered and quickly is not how to avoid them, they are unavoidable, but how best to withstand their impact and if possible turn that impact to advantage.


It is not possible to fully avoid the impact of the blind, impersonal, economic forces of international shipping but if the current negotiations reach a satisfactory conclusion then we might well be able to avert the full force of the catastrophe looming over us and even foster an expansion of Australian flag in our international trades, perhaps within mixed flag fleets where each party benefited equally from the arrangement.


But if agreement is not reached between owners and unions on the current restarted reform process and if alternatives such as mixed fleets and the positive recommendations of the SIRG are not examined and agreed then the forces of evil in Canberra and the smoke filled back rooms of London, Hamburg and Tokyo will prevail and our industry will be no more.


The only possible remedy against this process is for shipowners, ship managers and seafarers together to complete the process of reform which began so well under Peter Morris and was halted so disastrously by the actions and policies of Brereton. The discussions currently under way again between major Australian flag shipowners and the maritime unions are a last ditch attempt to deny the Government the excuse and the authority it seeks to introduce FOCs into our domestic waters and economy. These discussions must not fail.


For it is a last ditch effort ladies and gentlemen. It is literally reform or die. If these current reform discussions between the maritime unions and the shipowners fail then the industry will fail with them for the Government will then have the excuse and the authority it seeks to selectively implement the recommendations of the SIRG, open our domestic waters and economy to the FOC’s and in doing so destroy our industry.


The future of our industry, if it is to have a future, lies in the completion of the reform process. It lies in turning the impact of the FOC’s to our advantage through selective interaction with the best of them. It lies in building on the change from the class based system inherited from England of the master under god and the beasts in the foc’sle to that of small teams of highly productive skilled seafarers operating hi tech ships in the carriage of our own trade. That trade which we generate and the carriage of which is enjoyed by others to our detriment.


An industry without the ability to reform is an industry without the ability to survive and if we are now unable to complete the reform process so well begun under Peter Morris then we will have lost the ability to survive for the opportunity will not come again. If lost now it is lost forever.


I hope I have now convinced you that however hard it may be to do so we must continue with and complete the reform process now restarted between shipowners and unions and complete it quickly before the Government has an excuse to bring down, on a selective basis, those recommendations from the SIRG report which will give it an opportunity and a public platform from which to destroy the industry.


I hope I have convinced you this evening that one of the permanent interests of our island continent is a substantial, efficient and profitable Australian flag shipping industry. Owned by Australians, operated by Australians, crewed by Australians and available for the defence of Australia in emergency.


For if you are not convinced, then the reform process will fail, the Flags of Convenience will triumph and the story of Australian shipping will end on the level playing field of the economic rationalists defenceless against the forces of greed and evil where it began so long ago.


If you wish to see Australian seafarers join the tens and hundreds of thousands of their fellow Australians thrown on the scrap heap of unemployment by the policies of the economic fundamentalists then stay silent when the government opens the coast to foreign flag ships Ladies and Gentlemen. Stay silent and do nothing.


If you wish to see the Great Barrier Reef polluted by elderly, unsafe tankers like the “Kirki” then stay silent Ladies and Gentlemen. Stay silent and do nothing.


If you wish to see the carriage of our sea borne commerce totally in the hands of our foreign competitors then stay silent when the Government sells the nation’s shipping line. Stay silent ladies and gentlemen and do nothing.


If you wish to see third world seafarers continue to die under the Government’s policy of Homo Nullius in the carriage of our trade then stay silent ladies and gentlemen. Stay silent and do nothing.


If you wish to see maritime support for the armed service in the defence of our sovereignty placed in uncertain and possibly hostile foreign hands then stay silent Ladies and Gentlemen. Stay silent and do nothing.


But if I have convinced you then stand up and speak out against the philosophy of the market as God where every man and every thing have their price including human values and politicians votes.


Stand up and speak out against the destruction of our manufacturing industries and their workers. Stand up and speak out against the destruction of our textile and clothing industries and their workers.


And above all stand up and speak out against the destruction of Australian flag shipping and Australian seafarers.


For if you do not. Then it will be your turn next. For there is no end to this process unless we stand up, speak out and stop it now. For as Edmund Burke said so truly-


“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”


And Ladies and Gentlemen on these evils you have been silent and done nothing far too long.


Presented by Bill Bolitho Whitlam Lecture 1997 Sydney, 12 August 1997.