The Canberra Times, December 12, 1978, p. 8
SYDNEY: The Western Australian mining magnate Mr Lang Hancock called yesterday for the creation of a free trade zone which included Australia and Asian countries to the north.
He said that if a free trade zone was developed and Australia’s high tariffs discarded, “our trade would multiply out of all proportion”.
About 400 people paid $20 each to hear Mr Hancock promote free enterprise at a lunch in Sydney yesterday.
He said that countries such as South Korea, which had a faster growth rate than Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore, provided an enormous potential market.
But it would open up only if Australia got rid of its tariffs and was prepared to join in trade with these neighbouring countries without artificially imposed restrictions.
Mr Hancock, who was speaking on “Would would we do without our Government?” said that one reason the United States had developed a strong economy had been that its internal market presented one of the greatest free-trade areas in the world.
The high-protectionist lobby in Canberra was one of the four great pressure groups that controlled Australia, he said.
The lobby “practically writes its own tariff, writes its own quotas, indulges in ‘sweetheart deals’ with the unions, knowing that it can go back to the Government and get still higher tariffs put on”.
He said the other pressure groups were:
- The central bureaucracy in Canberra which was becoming even more powerful.
- The communist-controlled trade unions.
- The media, which lived on “hand-outs” from the other groups.
“It is beyond my comprehension that this nation, with the greatest riches on earth, is not the richest nation on earth”, he said.
“I believe that if you got rid of your Governments, got rid of government control, got rid of their power, that, left to our own devices, that is the role that we should fulfil”.
Mr Hancock was strongly critical of the Liberal Party as a party supporting free enterprise.
“Remaking it into a true free-enterprise party is a job beyond 14 million Australians”, he said.
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