Extract from oral history of Tom Fitzgerald by Ken Inglis
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library. Records
of the National Library of Australia. Interview of Tom Fitzgerald, 01/02/1988 - 3/09/1988. JCPML00658/1. Original held by National Library of Australia
I think I was about equally annoyed by the bitter opponents of the paper
and its doughty champions because they each simplified and they each,
I thought, misunderstood. Most of all I was concerned about the Federal
Treasury’s wholehearted endorsement of the paper as grounds for
immediate action to change the tax laws in a drastic way. And in a retrospective
way. Affecting enterprises which had been launched on the assumption of
the tax concessions that were prevailing.
This became my big battle. I tried without success to make contact with
the top person in the Australian Mining Industry Council. He seemed to
avoid my indirect approaches to talk to him. I thought that if the mining
industry, which for public purposes reviled my paper, as though it was
trash, if they would begin to get down to serious discussion there might
be a means of having this subject calmly and quietly worked through and
Now when I found the Minister entirely supportive of Treasury that there
should be drastic changes in the coming budget I argued with him at very
long length both in his office and on the telephone. Against the idea.
I put up a long chain of arguments. I probably have a note of them somewhere.
I even contrived to have Gough Whitlam, in a speech in Queensland, say,
without knowing what he was doing, that there would not be hasty taxation
action in the coming budget. Words to that effect. He apparently had no
idea of my personal opposition to the proposal.
So a day or two before the budget was brought down I wrote him [Connor]
a letter. I hope not threatening, but telling him that I was deeply concerned.
That after all it was my paper on which they were acting and I didn’t
agree with this drastic response to it. He didn’t reply to my letter.
I read the budget speech when it came out and the next day I told him
again in writing that I was proposing to wind up and leave. I thought
that I should have the freedom to discuss general economic policy and
particularly attitudes to the mineral industry if the situation got too