3 April 1946, Kerang, Victoria, Australia
The Australian dubbed this 'Australia's best unknown political speech'. Gorton was an RAAF pilot who twice crash landed his plane. He later served as the country's 19th Prime Minister, from 1968-71. Photo above is from this era.
We did not go to war to make a new and better world. We cannot expect to make a new and better world as the result of the exercise of brute military force. We can only expect to achieve the kind of world we want by the use of brains and effort during peace.
It was not wasted. We got what we went after. We retained a system of government in which we, the people, choose our governors, dismiss them when we wish, and have a voice in our own destiny. We retained a conception of justice in which the humblest one amongst us has equal rights before the law. We believed those principles were worth defending, not because in themselves they provided all that could be desired for human happiness, but because we believed that we could only advance to a full and satisfying life for all if we retained the freedom on which to build.
It is now, in the peace, that we must make our advances. I believe that the returned serviceman wishes us to secure for all men that economic freedom which we have never had, and to which all who are willing to work are surely entitled. We must remove from the minds of men the fear of poverty as the result of illness, or accident, or old age. We must turn our schools into institutions which will produce young men and women avid for further education and increased knowledge.
We must raise the material standard of living so that all children can grow up with sufficient space and light and proper nourishment; so that women may be freed from domestic drudgery; and so that those scientific inventions which are conducive to a more gracious life may be brought within the means of all. We must raise the spiritual standard of living so that we may get a spirit of service to the community and so that we may live together without hate, even though we differ on the best road to reach our objectives. And we must do all this without losing that political freedom which has cost us so dearly, and without which these tasks cannot be accomplished.
Outside Australia peace has set us tasks as hard. And we must take our place in the world, not as a self-sufficient, sealed-off unit, but as a member of a family, the members of which are dependent the one upon the other. What can we do? We can practise tolerance and understanding. And we can be ready always to defend against attacks, either from within or without, the political freedom, the measure of freedom which we already have.
I want you to forget it is I who am standing here. And I want you to see instead Bob Davey. And behind him I want you to see an army; regiment on regiment of young men, dead. They say to you, burning in tanks and aeroplanes, drowning in submarines, shattered and broken by high explosive shells, we gave the last full measure of devotion.
We bought your freedom with our lives. So take this freedom. Guard it as we have guarded it, use it as we can no longer use it, and with it as a foundation, build. Build a world in which meanness and poverty, tyranny and hate, have no existence. If you see and hear these men behind me - do not fail them.