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Excerpts from Lang Hancock’s Wake Up Australia (Sydney: Dwyer, 1979).

Corporate Support for Bureaucracy

Having understood the basis on which our civilisation rests, it is also necessary to understand that Canberra’s power structure is largely sustained by Australia’s leading companies and institutions who, whilst loudly proclaiming their belief in “free enterprise” and decrying the heavy cost of government, are constantly pressuring the Cabinet for all forms of handouts, privileges and monopoly protection.

Unfortunately, under the present constitution, Messrs. Hayden-Fraser must give way to these pressures if they wish their parties to be elected to government. This is easy to understand and it must always remain so unless it is made constitutionally impossible to buy votes, but a phenomenon which is hard to understand is the blind, unthinking belief (which amounts almost to religious fervour) that Australians have in a magic crystal ball type of all-seeing wisdom with which they credit their governments. Such is the faith in the Solomon like wisdom of government that they encourage the government to intercede in every aspect of their lives. They ask Canberra to lay down guidelines for instance, when in fact the government are the least capable of doing so. So much so that our national anthem could well be called “the government oughta.”

Any thinking person should know that no government relying on the ballot box for its life can have any concern for the national welfare. When government talks of acting in the public interest, they mean their own interest.

Unfortunately, instead of sticking by “free enterprise”, most principals of organisations in Australia give lip service to free enterprise but “chicken out” when they come up against Canberra. For instance, in the words of the Australian Mining Industry Council: “The industry is subject to bureaucratic controls over many day to day matters and the maintenance of a certain amount of good will is necessary for our survival”. In other words, people keep feeding the crocodile in the hope that he will devour them last.

This attitude of currying favour with the Canberra bureaucracy is typical unfortunately of not only the big mining companies, but of most major companies in Australia. What they fail to understand is that governments view “Free Enterprise” with hostility because it represents a counteracting power to the state.

When I pleaded with them to take some positive action against socialism, their reaction was: “We do; we are very active on a low key basis; we have done much work behind the scenes to effect the best overall results”; I must stress that these words are an oft repeated chorus. I have personally heard them from the lips of a cross section of the chief executives of the top companies in Australia.

The Tragic Result of Corporate Weakness

As far as the mining industry is concerned, “the best overall results” following the corporate low key policy yielded the following tragedies:

  1. A super coal tax;
  2. The Fraser Island repudiation;
  3. A “big stick” export license threat over the whole industry;
  4. The Variable Deposit Rule still on the statute books;
  5. A threat of Resources Tax only just around the corner;
  6. Likewise a wealth tax;
  7. A few so-called aboriginals and communist-controlled unions running the government;
  8. Excessive specialised taxes on mining such as royalty which other industries do not pay;
  9. The acceptance of the Fitzgerald Report without a fight, resulting in the removal of tax inducements to capital;
  10. The acceptance of the philosophy that profit is sinful (the press reported “Utah’s sigh of relief” because its profit had declined).
  11. No security of tenure either for the discoverer or investor in minerals.
  12. The adoption of the all-party policy of stopping foreign risk capital investment under an absurd 50-75% Australian participation rule (A 2 year long all-party investigation was presented to the present Cabinet. It failed to find any instance of foreign capital being harmful.);
  13. The vilification of a company that made big profits by working leases that Australian companies would not work;
  14. Acceptance of the mining industry being saddled with unnecessary environmental impact studies.
  15. Acceptance of Connor’s policy (announced by Anthony) of government control of major mineral sales negotiations.
  16. Control of exchange rates to the detriment of exporters.
  17. Maintenance of enormous tariff barriers, the cost of which is borne by the primary exporters, mining and agriculture.

Mining Closures

Because of these factors the last five years have seen more shut-downs, cut-backs, losses and deferments in the mining industry than at any time since the 1930s.

We’ve seen gold mining decimated with the closure of Great Boulder, Hill 50, Lake View and North Kalgurlie; base metal mines to close include Gunpowder, Kanmantoo, Carr-Boyd, Scotia, Mount Diamond, Mount Gunson and Mount Evelyn; mining for manganese and molybdenum has virtually ceased on the mainland of Australia; beach mining has ceased on Fraser Island and Jurien Bay. The Duchess phosphate operation is in mothballs and the vast phosphate deposits at Yelvertoft are undeveloped.

As well as these closures we have seen cut-backs at Cobar, Mount Charlotte, Tennant Creek, Kambalda, Aberfoyle and in the beach sand industry. The Warrego Smelter, the Bellambi coke plant and the North West Acid Plant have closed.

The following mines are threatened with periodic losses every time metal market weaken: Greenvale, Mount Morgan, Mount Lyell, Goldsworthy, Mary Kathleen, Savage River and Blue Spec.

The deferments include coal mines in Norwich, Hail Creek and Nebo, the uranium mines, several iron ore, aluminium and beach sand projects, the Central Australian and North-West Shelf gas projects and the Townsville zinc refinery. Exploration activity has halved since 1970 and in 1977 not one oil well was drilled in Queensland.

This list does not include any mine which closed because of exhaustion of mineralisation. In most cases, political action or inaction was a significant reason for premature closure.

Since the bureaucracy has moved in, Parkinson’s Law has taken over ensuring that no major mine has been started up in Australia and will not be started up until the pendulum swings the other way and these controls eliminated, and in their place all forms of incentive to risk capital (foreign and Australian) are brought into being.

First Rights to the Discoverer

I have continually stressed to all companies that no person or group should be given first rights to minerals unless they discover them.

In this regard aboriginals should not be placed in a privileged position; they should have equal rights with everyone else — no more, no less.

It has been the custom of the world since time began that conquest determines land rights. With regard to Australia; there is a case for saying that this should date from the “Battle of the Coral Sea”, when our destiny was being decided by U.S.A. or Japan — not the Australian government or blackfellow.

Unless leaders in all walks of life are really positive about these things, the government and the press mistake silence for acquiescence.

Free Enterprise Pilbara?

Before the giant bureaucracies made their restrictive presence felt, the Pilbara iron industry got started entirely with private risk capital.

All infrastructure — that is gaols, schools, hospitals, customs houses, railways, towns, ports, power supplies, etc. — have been built by private money in Pilbara, amounting to $230,000 for every man employed. The government had contributed nothing in cash or “know how” but it has taken some 80% off the top through tax, royalties, excise, customs duties, etc. — not only from companies, but from the men employed by the companies and contractors.

Such government pillaging of our sources of wealth production is the path to national bankruptcy following hard on the heels of Canada and Great Britain. The latter will soon have the lowest standard of living in Europe. Already its per capita output is less than that of socialist East Germany. It is now no better than when the U.K. had the strike-caused three day week.

Politicians Powerless

In a nutshell,  the whole problem is that “big government” has got too big for the capabilities of politicians (no matter how well intentioned) to handle. Therefore it is useless changing government. This is proven by the election of the Fraser Government which, (despite its record majority and the free enterprise beliefs that Mr. Fraser had at the time of his election), has been powerless to depart from the practices of its predecessor. This contention will be proven once again when the electorate swings back and appoints an ALP government the next time around.

A study of these events should convince any intelligent person that the idea of good government is simply an idle dream under the constitution as it exists today. All economic meddling by government has proven to be counter productive and a menace to the nation. Therefore the less government — the less menace. This requires constitutional limits on the power of parliament to interfere in areas which are not the legitimate concern of government.

The ineffectiveness of the Australian parliament can be gauged if one reflects upon the fact that it passes something like 224 bills in 75 sittings. Can it be seriously suggested that any of these bills is properly understood by the members who pass them, or that they had any hand in their creation. In fact they have even been known to pass the wrong bill. According to the “West Australian”, February 22, 1979:

Senate officials were red-faced yesterday over a Bill that was passed by the Senate on Tuesday with the wrong amendments, but a Government official aid that “it was just one of those things”.

The mix-up occurred when a set of out-of-date amendments to the Crimes at Sea Bill were circulated in the Senate.

But neither the Government nor the Opposition realised the error till it was too late.

The old amendments drawn up last year had been superseded by new ones drawn up later by the Federal Attorney-General’s Department.

The fact of the matter is that the bills are the work of the various departments aimed at increasing the power and size of those departments. In fact, on balance, the bills will add to the problem which they are allegedly aiming to correct.

As it is impossible to get good government (it doesn’t matter what system is employed), it should be obvious that our country should have as little government as possible. There is truth in the words of Thomas Paine:

Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.

We in Australia are in the “intolerable” category suffering under the most diabolical of economic dictatorships.


How then can we change the situation so as to limit the power of government and so reduce its activities to an absolute minimum?

How then is this central bureaucratic power to be broken?

(a) One political possibility would be for a minor party, e.g. Progress Party, to obtain the balance of power in the Senate. This would have been possible by an election of one person of character for some of the Menzies era or the election of two for several governments since. This balance of power could be exerted to make certain that no further expansion took place in government departments simply by making certain that no bill was passed that ran the nation into debt. It could not however unwind the enormous growth of bureaucracy that has taken place in the past or lessen the power of “Big Government”, which by the very fact of having so much power, with so many favours to dispense by way of tariffs[,] subsidies, quotas, licensing, contracts and monopolies that it draws the support of big companies and institutions in Australia; institutions which should be fighting government on behalf of “free enterprise”, but who are actually aiding and abetting “Big Government” in exchange for receiving the many handouts that the central bureaucracy has to bestow.

(b) It could be broken by a referendum to change the constitution.

(c) It could be broken by a tax revolt, e.g. by “the man in the street” short paying his income tax assessment by a certain percentage or by employers refusing to act as unpaid collectors of PAYE tax and sales tax. This revolt would need to be continued until excessive government expenditure was pruned to the bone.

(d) It could be broken by obtaining control of the media and then educating the public.

(e) It could be broken by outright rebellion which is a possibility that increases the more Australian population moves from its Anglo-Saxon base to other nationalities who are more politically alive; some of whom have had a taste of communism.

(f) It could be broken be either W.A. or Queensland or both seceding under a constitution which limited the power of government. This would force other states to do the same and then possibly re-unite with government being permitted by the new constitution to carry out only the minimum of activities such as police, defence, a records office (for registering titles to private property), and a very small Treasury to handle minimised public funds.

Control of the press could be obtained for instance by such organisation as the Australian retailers banding together and refusing to give advertisements to any paper which did not support a change in the constitution to reduce government to an absolute minimum.

Control of the press could also be obtained by several of the big mining groups banding together with a view to taking over one or more of the present giant newspaper chains which control the T.V. and radio channels, and converting them to the path of “free enterprise”.

Precedent Set For Secession Legally

Of these alternatives, the most effective would be for Queensland, the Northern Territory and W.A. to join together and secede under a new, limited power constitution. Seeing that this would be for the salvation of the whole of Australia, the other states should support and help to facilitate such a proceeding. Not constitutionally possible did you say! After all, if the present government can give away part of Queensland to the foreign state of New Guinea, it would (by reason of the above precedent) have the power to secede the three states that I mention for the sole purpose of destroying forever the central power that has been built up in Canberra; a bureaucratic Goliath quite contrary to the intentions of the founding fathers of the Australian constitution.

It must be clearly understood that to secede without a constitution which reduced the power of government to almost negligible proportions would be to invite failure right at the outset.

Secession? Federation has Failed

W.A. has the potential to be the richest place on this earth. It will not reach its potential while it remains part of the Australian Federation under the present constitution.

The ten greatest years in Western Australia’s history were those immediately preceding Federation. It was during this period that the great leap forward was made.

In 1890, our State was granted responsible government, and the following ten years were ones of astounding growth — the population grew by 380 per cent, the railway line mileage increase by 702 per cent, revenue from postal and communication services shot up by 792 per cent, internal revenue went up by 671 per cent, while external trade expanded by 600 per cent and crop acreage was increased by farmers’ efforts by 287 per cent.

These figures are truly amazing, and the doubters of Federation had a substantial yardstick to gauge the success or otherwise of this ill assorted marriage.

We must not forget either, that two great engineering feats were conceived and born during those golden years — the magnificent water pipeline to the Goldfields (still acclaimed these 70 years later, as a great achievement) and the harbour at Fremantle.

During those booming, bustling years of development and expansion there was neither income tax nor land tax. The Colony was financed by funds derived from mines, customs and excise revenue, postal and railway operators, probate and licenses. Commencing with Federation, Western Australia went into decline and earned the name of “the Cinderella State of the Federation”.

The next big lift was the mineral boom of the 1960’s, triggered off by the withdrawal of government intervention in the Pilbara when the Federal iron ore export embargo was withdrawn and the State blanket on the pegging of titles was temporarily suspended.

(in order of appearance on
  1. Ron Manners’ Heroic Misadventures
  2. Hancock's Australia
  3. Hancock on Government Help
  4. Wake Up Australia: Excerpts Part 1
  5. Wake Up Australia: Excerpts Part 2
  6. Lang Hancock's Five Point Plan to Cripple Australia
  7. Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
  8. Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
  9. Jump on the Joh bandwagon
  10. John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
  11. Governments — like a red rag to a Rogue Bull
  12. Lang Hancock's Pilbara-Queensland Railway Proposal
  13. Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
  14. Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
  15. New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
  16. Small and Big Business Should Oppose Government, says Lang Hancock
  17. A Condensed Case for Secession
  18. Hancock gets tough over uranium mining
  19. Hancock's threat to secede and faith in Whitlam
  20. PM's sky-high promise to Lang
  21. Lang Hancock: "a catherine-wheel of novel suggestions"
  22. Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
  23. The spread of Canberra-ism
  24. Govt should sell the ABC, says Lang Hancock
  25. 1971 Monday Conference transcript featuring Lang Hancock
  26. Aborigines, Bjelke and the freedom of the press
  27. The code of Lang Hancock
  28. Why not starve the taxation monster?
  29. Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
  30. Party Promises to Abolish Tax
  31. Right-wing plot
  32. "The best way to help the poor is not to become one of them." - Lang Hancock
  33. WA's NCP commits suicide
  34. "You can't live off a sacred site"
  35. Hancock: King of the Pilbara
  36. Bludgers need not apply
  37. New party formed "to slash controls"
  38. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  39. Workers Party is born as foe of government
  40. Government seen by new party as evil
  41. Ron Manners on Lang Hancock
  42. Does Canberra leave us any alternative to secession?
  43. Bury Hancock Week
  44. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  45. Lang Hancock on Australia Today
  46. Hancock and Wright
  47. Lang Hancock on Environmentalists
  48. Friends of free enterprise treated to financial tete-a-tete: Lang does the talking but Gina pulls the strings
  49. Lang Hancock, Stump Jumper
  50. Lang Hancock: giant of the western iron age
  51. The Treasury needs a hatchet man
  52. We Mine to Live
  53. Get the "econuts" off our backs
  54. 1971 Lang Hancock-Jonathan Aitken interview for Land of Fortune (short)
  55. Gina Rinehart, Secessionist
  56. 1982 NYT Lang Hancock profile
  57. Enter Rio Tinto
  58. Hamersley and Tom Price
  59. News in the West
  60. Positive review of Hancock speech
  61. Lang Hancock International Press Institute General Assembly speech, Canberra, 1978
  62. Australia's slide to socialism
  63. The Great Claim Robbery
  64. Why WA must go it alone
  65. Lang Hancock in 1976 on Public Picnics and Human Blights
  67. Resource Management in Australia: Is it possible?
  68. The gospel of WA secession according to Lang Hancock
  69. Crystal Balls Need Polishing
  70. Minerals - politicians' playthings?
  71. John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
  72. Boston Tea Party 1986 style, hosted by Lang Hancock and Bob Ansett
  73. Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
  74. Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
  75. Tactics change by Hancock
  76. Lang Hancock complains to Margaret Thatcher about Malcolm Fraser
  77. 'Phony crisis' seen as 'child of politics'
  78. Lang Hancock on nuclear energy
  79. Lang Hancock beats the left at their own game on civil liberties
  80. Lang Hancock's Favourite Books
  81. 1977 Lang Hancock Canberoo poem
  82. Hancock's playing very hard to get
  83. Hancock proposes a free-trade zone
  84. An Open Letter to Sir Charles Court
  85. John Singleton 1976 ocker Monday Conference Max Harris debate
  86. Lang Hancock in 1984 solves Australian politics
  87. Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
  88. Lang Hancock asks what happened to Australia's rugged individualism?
  89. Precis of Ludwig Plan for North-West
  90. Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
  91. Lang Hancock's March 1983 attempt to enlist "former presidents of nations and heads of giant companies" to save Australia
  92. Lang Hancock asks us to think how easily environmentalists are manipulated for political purposes
  93. Invest in free enterprise
  94. Democracy is dead in Australia and Lang Hancock's education
  95. Lang Hancock Incites Civil Disobedience
  96. Hancock sounds call to battle Canberra
  97. Mining policy a threat
  98. Over Whitlam's head
  99. Lang Hancock suggests that newspapers don't give space to politicians unconditionally
  100. Lang Hancock on saving Australia from socialism
  101. Secede or sink
  102. Australia can learn from Thatcher
  103. John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
  104. How Lang Hancock would fix the economy
  105. Lang Hancock: victim of retrospective legislation
  106. Lang Hancock supports Joh for PM
  107. Hancock seeks miners' tax haven in the north
  108. The Ord River Dam
  109. Why Lang Hancock invested in Australia's film industry
  110. Lang Hancock's 1983 letters to The Australian: Lang's precedent for Steve Jobs, renaming the Lucky Country to the Constipated Country, and more
  111. Australia's biggest newspaper insider on manipulating the media
  112. 1980 Lang Hancock-Australian Penthouse Interview
  113. Canberra: bastion of bureaucracy
  114. Pilbara can be the Ruhr for South-East Asia
  115. 1982 Lang Hancock-John Harper Nelson Interview
  116. Australian elections are one of the greatest con games in history
  117. Our leaders are powerless
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