A Modest Farmer [Bert Kelly], “Anniversary thought — and offer,”
The Australian Financial Review, August 17, 1979, pp. 11, 14.
Eccles is excited because this is the 500th Modest Farmer or Modest Member article. He takes the credit for the original idea and is proudly possessive when we turn out a good one.
But when a bad one comes along he quickly disclaims responsibility and gives me long lectures about my bad style or my primitive economic understanding.
I admit that I would have stopped writing the wretched things years ago if it had not been for Eccles’ ceaseless prodding.
“You have to keep belting away at people,” he says, “Never let up. They may get a bit sick of hearing about tariffs but you have to keep their noses down on the grindstone as I had to keep yours.”
The Modest Farmer [above, with Mavis] found the following letter on his desk. It reads:
The Editor; Dear Sir, Surely practically 500 defamations are reasons enough for at least a mild protest.
Loyal friends who are fully aware of my intrinsically low profile have undoubtedly been waiting for a long time for me to “blow my top.”
Even now I shall not do that. I shall just tear out that page and stamp on it as is my wont.
Mavis [Lorna Kelly] Burnside, South Australia.
Mavis tried to whip herself into a state of tired enthusiasm about the 500th anniversary but she soon gave up.
It was not so bad being called “Mavis” everywhere she went when I was a MP, when she could greedily grasp at any straw that might make me a minister so that she could, at the end, have the pleasure of attending my State funeral which is a perk that ministers have.
“You must have something to look forward to dear,” she used to say, but now she has put this goal from her.
She seldom reads the column these days and when she does she usually mutters something like “I wish Eccles was dead” or some similar sentiment.
Fred received the news that this was the 500th issue with indifference.
He often tells me that I would be far more profitably employed if I stopped writing and spent more time hoeing thistles or chasing the old ewes with the shears or similar simple things.
Sometimes he is pleased with me but he hates me trying to be funny.
“Life is real, life is earnest,” is his constant lament.
He used to grimly warn me that life wasn’t meant to be easy but he had gone off that poignant phrase lately for some reason.
When I look back over the 500 articles I sometimes feel cross because everyone has not by now accepted the message that Eccles and I have been preaching for so long.
I never expected to convince the economic troglodytes, such as the textile people who live in a sad little world of their own.
But it is tragic to find that the business leaders who guide the destinies of big companies like BHP and ICI are still inward looking.
They still seem content to behave like the big fat foster-mothered beef bulls being prepared for the shows.
They still get down on their knees, and suck away greedily at the economy and ask for another tariff handout. (That metaphor seems to have got a bit mixed).
When we tackle them about this, they claim that our complaint that tariffs have to be paid by exporters is only economic theory anyway. They really seem to believe that there is indeed, such a thing as a free feed.
It is sad to think that such powerful people can be so economically ignorant.
But there are other times when I get quite cheerful, when it become obvious that the spread of economic education has made it clear to most that exporters do, indeed, have to pay the price for tariff protection in the end and that there are great advantages for industry expanding into exports instead of sitting around waiting for another tariff subsidy from exporters.
It is particularly gratifying that the Stan Kelly Memorial Lecture which was endowed to encourage the lowering of world trade barriers, is to be given on August 29 by Mr John Uhrig, the managing director of Simpson Pope, a recognised secondary industry leader.
He has demonstrated that the rest of the world should be regarded as an opportunity and a challenge and not as a threat to be met by cowering behind the tariff wall.
Whenever I get too sorry for myself I remember the verses by Arthur Clough:
Say not, the struggle nought availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in the main,
And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light,
In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
But westward, look, the land is bright.
I know that Fred will be embarrassed by me quoting poetry but it has comforted me when my spirit has flagged. Things are indeed gradually getting better all the time. We cannot continue being as silly as we used to be.
To celebrate the 500th issue, I have decided to post an autographed copy of my book, One More Nail, to the people who send $9.95 to The Modest Farmer, GPO Box 568, Adelaide, 5001.
I have these uncontrollable fits of generosity once every 10 years.
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- 1976 Monday Conference transcript featuring Bert Kelly
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- Petrol for Farmers
- Some Sacred Cows
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- How Bert Kelly repays a free feed
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- Who needs literary licence?
- A touch of Fred's anarchy
- Helping the farmers help themselves
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- Bert Kelly responds to claims he is arrogant and uncredentialed
- Politics: it's a very confusing business
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- Blinded by their tears
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- An Idiot's Guide to Interventionism
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- Can government kiss it better?
- Bert Kelly Destroys the Side Benefits Argument for Government
- Bert Kelly gets his head around big-headed bird-brained politics
- First Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Second Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Third Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Fourth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Fifth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Sixth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
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- Bert Kelly feels a dam coming on at each election
- Bert Kelly Enters Parliament
- Why take in one another's washing?
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- We're quick to get sick of socialism
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- People not Politics
- Bert Kelly admits he should have had less faith in politicians
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- Bert Kelly's empowering feminism
- Mavis wants the Modest Member to dedicate his book to her
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- Moss Cass: "Flood plains are for floods"
- A worm's eye view
- Eccles returns to haunt us
- How to grip a politician's ear
- It's hard to digest this economic cake
- Time to Butcher "Aussie Beef"
- Cold water on government-instigated irrigation schemes
- Hooray for Ord River Dam!
- Tariffs paid by exporters
- The problem of principles v popularity
- If you support State Quotas, where will your logic take you?
- Against guidance by government
- A socialist in Liberal clothing
- Never ask the government to help
- Don't listen to economists!
- Bert Kelly's revolutionary strategy
- Whitlam's July 1973 25% tariff cut
- Bert Kelly on Import Quotas
- Good directions when government backseat driving, like reversing down wrong side of road
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- Bert Kelly reviews The War Diaries of Weary Dunlop
- Bert Kelly reviews We Were There
- Tariffs get the fork-tongue treatment
- Bert Kelly reduces government to its absurdities
- Politician sacrifices his ... honesty
- It's all a matter of principle
- Bert Kelly Destroys the Infant Industry Argument
- Bert Kelly Untangles Tariff Torment
- Bert Kelly resorts to prayer
- Eccles keeps our nose hard down on the tariff grindstone
- "Don't you believe in protecting us against imports from cheap labour countries?"
- Even if lucky, we needn't be stupid
- Great "freedom of choice" mystery
- Small government's growth problem
- I like my kind acts to get a mention in the press
- A Modest Member rakes the embers
- Tariffs Introduced
- More About Tariffs
- Sacred cow kicker into print
- Bert Kelly's 1984 two-article quote-collection on Aboriginal policies
- Modest Member must not give up
- Traditional Wheat Farming is Our Birthright and Heritage and Must be Protected!
- Tariff-cut nonsense lives on
- Bert Kelly brilliantly defends "theoretical academics"
- The high cost of protection
- Generosity creates problems
- The Society of Modest Members
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- Modesty ablaze
- Case for ministers staying home
- The unusual self-evident simplicity of the Modest Members Society
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- The Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Krill
- modest members society
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- Thoughts on how to kill dinosaurs
- Let's try the chill winds
- Taking the Right's road
- Bert Kelly: "I did not try often or hard enough"
- Bert Kelly "lacked ... guts and wisdom"
- A look at life without tariffs
- The Gospel according to Bert
- Tiny note on Bert Kelly's column in The Bulletin in 1985
- Why costs can't be guaranteed
- Hitting out with a halo
- Paying farmers not to grow crops will save on subsidies, revenge tariffs, etc
- "The Modest Farmer joins us" | "How The Modest Farmer came to be"
- Bert Kelly Destroys the Freeloading Justifies Government Argument
- Industrial Relations Club shovellers
- From Shann to Stone
- Government Intervention
- A sojourn in the real world
- The tariff wind swings
- Bigger Cake = Bigger Slices
- Bert Kelly on the Political Process
- A charabanc called protection
- Taken for a ride - to nowhere
- Down hill, in circles, all the way
- Economic facts and figures are statistics who should speak out
- Any cons arguing small business bad but big government good?
- Relationships with the Liberal Party
- Tariffs = High Prices + World War
- Bert Kelly's Family History
- Bert Kelly's Pre-Parliament Life
- What the MP could say to the Bishop
- Why Bert Kelly was not even more publicly outspoken
- WEATHER IS USUALLY UNUSUAL
- How to stand aside when it's time to be counted
- How the Modest Member went back to being a Modest Farmer
- My pearls of wisdom were dull beyond belief
- Bert Kelly on Political Football
- Undigested morsels in Fraser spew
- Bert Kelly on LSD
- Bert Kelly reflects on the Australian car industry in 1992
- Bert Kelly wants reprinted Shann's Economic History of Australia
- If tariffs are opposed here then why not there?
- The emperor has no textiles, clothing and footwear sense
- Ross Gittins Wins Bert Kelly Award
- Interesting 1964 Bert Kelly speech: he says he is not a free trader and that he supports protection!
- This is the wall the Right built
- Tariff Protection in Australia (1970)
- Has Santa socked it to car makers?
- Is the Budget a cargo cult?
- Will we end up subsidising one another?
- Keeping the bucket of worms alive
- Can we get off the stomach-churning head-spinning tariff merry-go-round?
- Do we want our money to fly?
- Can a bear be sure of a feed?
- How to impress your MP -
- The time for being nice to our MPs has gone ...
- Don't feel sorry for him -
hang on to his ear
- Trade wars can easily end up on a battlefield
- Tariffs Create Unemployment
- Bert Kelly recommends Ayn Rand
- Bert Kelly on Alf Rattigan's Industry Assistance: The Inside Story
- Bert Kelly's Satirical Prophecy: Minister for Meteorology (tick) and High Protectionist Policies to Result in War Yet Again (?)
- Bert Kelly in 1972 on Foreign Ownership of Australian Farmland and Warren Truss, Barnaby Joyce and Bill Heffernan in 2012
- Bert Kelly baits Welfare State Tiger
- Why does Govt wear two faces?
- Parliament a place for pragmatists
- Of Sugar Wells and Think-Tanks
- Bert Kelly: "I must take some of the blame"
- Bert Kelly on dumping duties
- The Govt's helping hand often hurts
- Unbuckling the hobbles on the motor industry
- A Modest Farmer looks at the Problems of Structural Change
- Government Fails Spectacularly
- Know your proper place if you want the quiet life
- Bert Kelly on political speech writers
- Having your cake and eating it
- Perish the thawed!
- Hooray for Northern Development!
- The silly image of our MPs
- Bert Kelly Question Time highlights
- Modest Farmer sees his ideas take hold
- Should facts stand in the way of a good story?
- Fondling one another's glass haloes
- What is the sense in making the effort to look after yourself?
- Fred's Feeling: Counterpatriotic country contrarian
- Handouts for big boys only
- Mavis trying to buy a hand loom
- Bad news for bearers of bad news
- Is it time to get aboard the tariff band-waggon?
- Why farmers resent tariff protection for motor makers
- A sordid use of scare tactics
- Goods vs services
- Tariffs are hilariously counterproductive
- Bert Kelly on decentralisation
- Inflation breeds moral decay
- Who envies equality?
- Growth – malignant or benign?
- Government wiser than Magna Carta
- Bert Kelly on looking to politicians for moral leadership
- Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
- Whitlam & co on the Dismissal
- 25% Tariff Cut
- Bert Kelly on pensions
- Mr Clunies-Ross of the Cocos Islands should rule Australia
- They get the wind up when it changes
- Why the Big Green Lie survives
- Ross McLean in 1982: "Malcolm! Why don't we try good government? It might be popular."
- Bert Kelly on the importance of exchange rate movements
- Bert Kelly shows how to attack
- Bert Kelly vs Bert Kelly vs Bert Kelly
- Industrial relations dinosaur, Bruce, chews his cud
- Hooray for "firmly entrenched"!
- Respect your dinosaurs
- What if something is "deeply ingrained" yet harmful?
- A case for ministerial inertia
- Why politicians don't like the truth
- Our great open spaces
- Ominous dark clouds are gathering
- Better to be popular than right
- Crying in the wilderness
- Ivory tower needs thumping
- Bert Kelly asks, "How can you believe in free enterprise and government intervention at the same time?"
- Politicians get undeserved praise, why not undeserved blame too?
- Feet in a bucket of champagne
- Rural Problems
- Health cover needs a $30 excess clause
- Unholy state of taxation
- Boring economics worth a smile
- The Libido for the Miserable
- Agricultural Development and Tariffs
- Fred's too poor to have principles
- Eccles Law of the constant wage share
- "He whom the gods would destroy ..."
- Tariffs: when to wean infant BHP?
- Keep any government as far as possible from farming
- The Playford charade is out of date
- Bert Kelly: the odd man out who's now in
- Dries must resist giving up struggle as going gets tough
- How a well meaning Government can be so stupid
- The icing on the economic cake
- Sir Roderick Carnegie's foreword to Bert Kelly's Economics Made Easy
- The Vale of Popularity and the Protection Procession
- Politics 101: Pay Lip Service to Capitalism and Shoot the Messenger
- Bert Kelly makes politicians eat their own words on tariffs, then says, "We cannot be blamed for treating the statements of our statesmen with cynical contempt"
- Bert Kelly on Free Enterprise
- Cartoons of protected industry, the welfare teat and the nanny state
- Bert Kelly on the theory of constant shares and the Fabian Society
- Bert Kelly vs Doug Anthony
- You're lucky if you escape being helped by government
- Bert Kelly on Small Farmers
- Bert Kelly on Apathy
- Bert Kelly in 1967 on "problems of government and things like that"
- The last "Dave's Diary"
- Bert Kelly vs The Australian on tariffs in 1977
- Bounties or Tariffs, Someone Pays
- Geriatric companies without a minder
- A free marketeer wary of free trade
- Nixon's puzzling profession of faith
- "Ford ... seems to spend more time bending its knees than its back"
- Clyde Cameron's weak ways with wise words
- Why flaunt what others flout?
- Bert Kelly yearns for Tim Flannery's powers of prediction
- Looking after yourself is silly
- Bert Kelly masterpiece on drought, fire, flood and other natural disaster relief schemes
- Government can take credit for our car industry mess
- Car makers want the 4wd driven deeper into tariff bog
- Why our MP is no longer prone to a good sob story
- Auto industry is in a straitjacket
- Bert Kelly on market predictions
- Why should dryland farmers subsidise irrigation farmers?
- How much should government decrease incentive for independence from government?
- Clarkson crowned Deputy Government Whip
- Bert Kelly to blame for soaring government healthcare costs
- 1959 return of Dave's Diary
- Bert Kelly in 1966 on developing northern Australia
- Successful government intervention can [sic] occur
- Vernon Report upholds Clarkson
- Quiet Man Makes An Impact
- Should it be compulsory to buy footwear and clothing?
- To save Australian clothing industry women must all wear same uniform
- Don't confuse plucking heart strings with plucking harp strings
- Speech only for public
- Catchy Tariff Circus Extravaganza
- Bert Kelly in 1985 on cars yet again
- Hurrah for the Gang of Five
- Thoughts on a verse about Balfour
- Bert Kelly pep talk to politicians
- Government intervention = Agony postponed but death brought nearer
- Recipe for disaster: Freeze!
- Recipe for government intervention: Gather winners and scatter losers
- Recipe for industry destruction: Blanket market signals
- Mavis writes!
- Bert Kelly's empiricism is not kneejerk reaction kind
- The $2,000 song of the shirt worker
- Subsiding only small farmers means subsiding the big banks
- Difficult to be fast on your feet when you've got your ear to the ground
- It would surprise people to see how sensible MPs behave if they think they are not being watched
- Bert Kelly on "this land of limitless resources" and "great open spaces"
- Growing bananas at the South Pole
- Car components tariff protection under fire
- Why carry a $300m car subsidy?
- Tariff feather beds for the foreign giants
- Bert Kelly says end compulsory voting to stop donkey vote
- Perhaps being smart and insured isn't all luck
- You gets your tariff, you pays a price
- More funds to train Olympians?
- Fire in their guts and wind in ours
- Should free universal healthcare include pets?
- Sound advice from a modest farmer
- A tottering monument to intervention
- Cunning meets wisdom
- Competition, Aussie-style: Who's the bigger parasite?
- Australians are proud patriotic parasites, says Bert Kelly
- Taxpayer-funded sport is cheating
- Being loved by all is not always a good thing
- Welfare State Destroys Society
- 1980 Bert Kelly feather bed series
- The White Mice Marketing Board
- Government intervention and advice can be harmful, even when right, even for those it tries to help
- One small step on the compulsory voting landmine
- The free & compulsory education sacred cows have no clothes
- Holding a loaded wallet to an economist's head
- Political No Man's Land
- Only blind greed demands both equality and prosperity
- A cow that sucks itself — that's us!