Don Chipp: 'May I say that I have become disenchanted with party politics', resignation from Liberal Party - 1977

Don Chipp.jpg

24 March 1977, Canberra, Australia

By leave I wish to announce to the House that I have resigned from the Liberal Party of Australia as from today. I believe I have conformed with the courtesies demanded of such a decision. I have informed you,

Sir, the Leader of my Party, the Right Honourable the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), the Victorian State President of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Chairman of the Hotham Electorate Committee of the Liberal Party. It naturally follows that I shall not be presenting myself as a candidate for the Liberal Party of Australia in the division of Hotham at the next House of Representatives election.

I shall continue to represent the division of Hotham in this House for the duration of this Parliament or until such earlier rime as circumstances may demand. Although I am proud of the high personal vote I receive from the electors of Hotham, I recognise that I am here by virtue of my former membership of the Liberal Party and therefore believe it is proper that I should generally give my vote in support of the Government in the business before the House and in the conduct of the business of the House. However, I will exercise the right- which is already held by all members of the Liberal Party- to vote against the Government on any issue which a member believes to be not in the best interests of the country or his constituents. I extend my gratitude to the many friends and members of the Liberal Party in Hotham who have loyally supported me over the years and given me the privilege of serving in this House.

I hope that my friends and colleagues in the Parliamentary Liberal Party will understand my reasons in taking this decision and that the personal friendships and relationships that I have made and enjoyed over the years will not be impaired by my action. I note in passing that notwithstanding the tag of ‘rebel’ that some people have chosen to put upon me, I have never exercised that right of voting against my Party in my 16 years in this place. In fact, I think it is fair to me to place on record that during the 15-month term of this Government, I have been publicly critical of its decisions on only 5 occasions. These were:

  1. The 25 per cent cut in overseas aid;
  2. The abolition of the Australian Assistance Plan which I, with the full authority of the joint Parties had previously commended in this House as being one of the most exciting and progressive social reforms ever undertaken;
  3. The proposed abolition of the funeral benefits for pensioners;
  4. The original breach of the promise to index pensions; and
  5. The decision to devalue the currency and, once that decision was taken, the refusal to lower tariffs so as to contain the inflationary effects of that move.

When these 5 public criticisms are put against the dozens of times I have publicly supported the Government, even on occasions when I did not agree with it, I believe the tag of ‘rebel’ is palpably unfair. There have in fact been a great number of issues with which I have strongly disagreed and on most which I have been invited by the media to criticise my Party. I have refrained from that criticism in the interests of Party unity and with a view to assisting the Government in overcoming the massive problems it faces, many of which were inherited from the results of the gross maladministration of the Labor Party’s terms in office. However, the number of significant Government actions which conflict with my own views are now so many that I feel that my continued membership of the Liberal Party, as it is now led, managed and structured, would be incompatible with my beliefs and would constitute an act of hypocrisy. Inevitably some people will impugn my action and ascribe to it the motive that I am taking this course because I am not in the Cabinet. To that I simply state without argument that under no circumstances could I, or would I, serve as a Minister under the present leadership.

Members of the House would know that one reaches a decision such as this- after giving 16 years of one’s life to it- not without a great deal of deep thought and troubled deliberation; but as one who at least in latter years has tried to pursue a course of true liberalism, I find I can no longer do that within the confines of the Party. In these circumstances I believe the only honourable thing to do is to resign.

For the record I simply state my areas of contention without debating them. I cannot agree with the Government’s current economic policy. Particularly, I am concerned with its failure to honour the promise to the private sector to give it stable and definite future guidelines to allow it to plan and invest for the future. I believe the private businessman, especially the small businessman who employs the bulk of the work force of this country, is more confused, more in the dark about the future, and less confident than he was 15 months ago. This seems to be strange behaviour for a Party that champions the cause of free enterprise.

I am very critical of the lack of consultation between the Government and the trade union movement. It would be cruel and unfair to ask the worker to be the sole bearer of the cost of reducing inflation; but wages are too high and taxes are too high to provide incentive for increased productivity by both workers and management. Interest rates are devastating, especially to the young, and yet no attempt at real, sensible and sensitive discussions between the Prime Minister and the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions has been made. In fact the Prime Minister has refused to enter such discussions. Instead, while the economy continues to slump, these 2 leaders seem to be continuing in a public slanging match while the economy continues to deteriorate and the responsible blue and white collar Australian workers and management suffer.

I confess to a very deep concern about the intrasigence of the Prime Minister in bringing in the Industrial Relations Bureau legislation at this time- a time of remarkable industrial peace and at a time when it is being vigorously opposed by both employees and employers alike. I have been grossly disappointed with the attitude of the Government on uranium mining. Notwithstanding the repeated requests by the Fox report for a full parliamentary debate we have had 2 hours only on it and it is now off the notice paper. I am grateful to the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) for giving me an undertaking this morning that that matter will be restored to the notice paper.

The last straw on this issue was the action of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) in launching a pro-uranium book simultaneously with a statement by the Ambassador of Japan advocating the mining of Australian uranium. The breach of our promises to continue the Australian Assistance Plan, wage indexation, the value of the currency, the Social Welfare Commission, increased research on solar energy, are matters which have disturbed me greatly.

Further, our incredible attitude towards Timor; the overt and capricious provocation of Russia, an almost pathetic reliance on the nonproliferation treaty which the Fox report described as giving only ‘an illusion of protection’; the absence of strong Cabinet action to overcome the bureaucratic bungling and red tape affecting human beings seeking refuge from Indo-China are some other matters which have left me deeply concerned.

On the other hand I draw no comfort from the current attitudes and policies of the Australian Labor Party. Although the state of the world economy contributed in some way to Australia’s economic problems during its 3 years of office, its mismanagement of the economy resulting in the unique situation of causing unemployment to increase simultaneously with inflation was near catastrophic. I would be a little encouraged if I believed that it has learned some lessons from its errors but that does not seem to be the case. It is still motivated by events of the past, still obsessed with its socialist ideas and a hatred of private enterprise, and dominated by the shadowy faces in the trade union movement. In opposition its performance has been little short of ludicrous in questioning and probing the Government on the real issues that affect the country.

I draw no comfort at all from the public opinion polls which indicate a Labor Government is possible- if not probable- in the near future. I find it almost unbelievable that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam)- a man who led his Party to its most humiliating defeat in history just 1 5 months ago- now ranks about equally in popularity and respect with the Prime Minister. Does this mean that the people of Australia hold both men and both parties in relatively low esteem?

In conclusion may I say that I have become disenchanted with party politics as they are practised in this country and with the pressure groups which have an undue influence on the major political parties. The National Country Party properly represents the interests of a small sectional group- some of the rural community- but improperly in my view, and unduly, influences national policies quite out of proportion to the small group it represents.

The Labor Party is dominated by the vested interests of trade unions. The Liberal Party, although properly concerned with the vital role of private enterprise, seems too pre-occupied with the wants of what is euphemistically known as ‘big business’ to the sacrifice and detriment of medium and small-size businessmen who form the backbone of our industrial and commercial sectors.

The parties seem to polarise on almost every issue, sometimes seemingly just for the sake of it, and I wonder whether the ordinary voter is not becoming sick and tired of the vested interests which unduly influence the present political parties and yearn for the emergence of a third political force, representing middle of the road policies which would owe allegiance to no outside pressure group.

Perhaps it may be the right time to test that proposition. That move will have to come from those people in Australia who believe in the encouragement of free enterprise, who believe it has not had a ‘fair go’ from interfering Governments who regularly change, without warning, the conditions under which they operate. It must come from people who believe in true justice for the work force and compassion for those in need, but who believe that actions must be taken to prevent social problems from occurring rather than trying to cure them and hide them once they have arrived. But above all, it must come from those people who are disgusted with those politicians and political parties who indulge mainly in cheap political point scoring in the endless pursuit of votes at any price and from people who want their Parliament to identify the real and significant problems of the future and to take action now which will make the country a good, safe and sound place for future generations.


Mary Ann Shadd Cary: 'Break every yoke and let the oppressed go free', antil slavery sermon - 1858

6 April 1858, Chatham, Canada

Cary was born into an affluent free black family in Wilmington, Delaware. Nonetheless after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, Shadd joined thousands of other African Americans in emigrating to Canada. She was a vocal abolitionist. 

1st business of life, to love the Lord our God with heart and soul, and our neighbor as our self.

We must then manifest love to God by obedience to his will—we must be cheerful workers, in his cause at all times—on the Sabbath and other days.

The more readiness we Evince the more we manifest our love, and as our field is directly among those of his creatures made in his own image in acting as themself who is no respecter of persons we must have failed in our duty until we become decided to waive all prejudices of Education birth nation or training and make the test of our obedience God's Equal command to love the neighbor as ourselves.

These two great commandments, and upon which rest all the Law and the prophets, cannot be narrowed down to suit us but we must go up and conform to them. They proscribe neither nation nor sex—our neighbor may be Either the oriental heathen the degraded Europe and or the Enslaved colored American. Neither must we prefer sex the Slave mother as well as the Slave father. The oppress, or nominally free woman of every nation or clime in whose Soul is as Evident by the image of God as in her more fortunate contemporary of the male sex has a claim upon us by virtue of that irrevocable command Equally as urgent. We cannot successfully Evade duty because the Suffering fellow woman be is only a woman! She too is a neighbor. The good Samaritan of this generation must not take for their Exemplars the priest and the Levite when a fellow wom[an] is among thieves—neither will they find their Excuse in the custom as barbarous and anti-christian as any promulgated by pious Brahmin that [word crossed out] they may be only females. The spirit of true philanthropy knows no sex. The true christian will not seek to Exhume from the grave of the past [word crossed out] its half developed customs and insist upon them as a substitute for the plain teachings of Jesus Christ, and the Evident deductions of a more Enlightened humanity.

There is too a fitness of time for any work for the benefit of God's human creatures. We are told to keep Holy the Sabbath day. In what manner? Not by following simply the injunctions of those who bind heavy burdens, to say nothing about the same but as a man is better than a sheep but combining with God's worship the most active vigilance for the resurrector from degradation violence and sin his creatures. In these cases particularly was the Sabbath made for man and woman if you please as there may be those who will not accept the term man in a generic sense. Christ has told us as it is lawful to lift a sheep out of the ditch on the Sabbath day, i[f] a man is much better than a sheep.

Those with whom I am identified, namely the colored people of this country--and the women of the land are in the pit figuratively speaking are cast out. These were Gods requirements during the Prophecy of Isaiah and they are in full force today. God is the same yesterday today and forever. And upon this nation and to this people they come with all their significance within your grasp are three or four millions in chains in your southern territory and among and around about you are half a million allied to them by blood and to you by blood as were the Hebrew servants who realize the intensity of your hatred and oppression. You are the government what it does to  you Enslaves the poor whites The free colored people The Example of slave holders to access all.


What we aim to do is to put away this Evil from among you and thereby pay a debt you now owe to humanity and to God and so turn from their channell the bitter waters of a moral servitude that is about overwhelming yourselves.

I speak plainly because of a common origin and because were it not for the monster slavery we would have a common destiny here--in the land of our birth. And because the policy of the American government so singularly set aside allows to all free speech and free thought: As the law of God must be to us the higher law in spite of powers principalities selfish priests or selfish people to whom the minister it is important the [that?] we assert boldly that no where does God look upon this the chief crimes with the least degree of allowance nor are we justified in asserting that he will tolerate those who in any wise support or sustain it.

Slavery American slavery will not bear moral tests. It is in Exists by striking down all the moral safeguards to society by—it is not then a moral institution. You are called upon as a man to deny and disobey the most noble impulses of manhood to aid a brother in distress—to refuse to strike from the limbs of those not bound for any crime the fetters by which his Escape is obstructed. The milk of human kindness must be transformed into the bitter waters of hatred--you must return to his master he that hath Escaped, no matter how Every principle of manly independence revolts at the same. This feeling Extends to Every one allied by blood to the slave. And while we have in the North those who stand as guards to the institution they must also volunteer as [s]hippers away of the nominally free. You must drive from this home by a hartless ostracism to the heathen shores when they fasted, bowed themselves, and spread sack cloth and ashes under them. Made long prayers (&c.] that they might be seen of men, but Isaiah told them God would not accept them. They must repent of their sins--put away iniquity from among them and then should their light shine forth.

But we are or may be told that slavery is only an Evil not a sin, and that too by those who say it was allowed among the Jews and therefore ought to be Endured. Isaiah sets that matter to rest he shows that it is a sin handling it less delicately than many prophets in this generation. These are the sins that we are to spare not the sin of Enslaving men--of keeping back the hire of the laborer. You are to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens to break Every yoke and to let the oppressed go free. To deal out bread to the hungry and to bring the poor [word missing] speaking. Their cry has long been ascending to the Lord who then will assume the responsibility of prescribing times and seasons and [word crossed out] for the pleading of their cause--of and righteous cause—and who shall overrule the voice of woman? Emphatically the greatest sufferer from chattel slavery or political proscription on this God's footstool? Nay we have Christ’s Example who held the sexes indiscriminately thereby implying an Equal inheritance— who rebuffed the worldling Martha and approved innovator Mary. [The Him] who respected not persons [two words crossed out] but who imposes Christian duties alike upon all sexes, and who in his wise providence metes out his retribution alike upon all.

No friends we suffer the oppressors of the age to lead us astray; instead of going to the source of truth for guidance we let the adversary guide us as to what is our duty and Gods word. The Jews thought to that they were doing [H]is requirements when they did only that which was but a small sacrifice.