...There is much organisation of special interests for political pressure. This is inevitable. But some men, because of such organisation, tend to think exclusively of the problem of their own industry. If the Government does what they want, they are happy; if not, they will be hostile and bittter. Yet, no Government can please everybody, because many pressure groups are in conflict one with another. And a Government should not try to please everybody, for it ought to have principles and a mind of its own. The ultimate responsibility of a Government is to do what it thinks is best for the nation as a whole. Political leadership therefore requires considerable strength of character and patience and hard work, and much study and tenacity. If these were not so, we would not need or expect men of talent and industry and character to go into Parliament.
All political judgements must be made on balance. Somebody will think he is hurt by the decision, but a balanced judgement founded upon the interest of the nation must prevail. This is undoubtedly the hardest thing for most of us to understand. I will just give you one illustration. How should we deal with trade with Japan? Japan is a country with which we were recently at war, and whose conduct of the war was such as to produce immeasurable bitterness among our own people. But we are now at peace. Are we to say that we will not trade with Japan? Trade involves selling and buying.
Last year our trade with Japan was so lopsided that whereas Japan bought from us no less than 84,000,000 worth of goods-the largest item being wool-we bought from Japan under 5,000,000 worth of goods. Now that kind of thing simply cannot go on. Japan cannot buy our wool without paying for it. She cannot have money abroad with which to pay for wool unless she earns that money by exporting and selling goods herself. Her presence in the wool market has been of value, for it increases competition, builds up our national export income, and therefore increases our capacity to sustain our local industries.
You would at once agree that if we want to continue to be a great trading nation and maintain those exports which are our life- blood, we must be prepared to buy more things from Japan. Yet the moment it is proposed to increase the quota of Japan's exports to Australia, somebody will very naturally say that the goods coming in will compete with his products, and he will be very vocal about it. Now I don't want you to think that I fail to understand his case or to sympathize with him, but what is the duty of the Government in such a case? Is it to please the affected local manufacturer and sacrifice a substantial share of our wool market, or is it to preserve our export markets in the interest of the entire nation, including the great mass of manufacturers whose success is affected by every increase in the national income.
I give you this illustration to show that the problem of determining where the true Commonwealth advantage lies is one of great difficulty and that no Government could hope to solve it merely by giving way to special pressures within its own boundaries. The longer I live in public affairs the more satisfied I am that political leadership does not require the kind of mind which is blown about by every wind, but requires in full measure those very qualities of work and thought and determination and enterprise which we like to believe are the characteristic of the best elements in our nation and our people.