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 TRC 2247

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 modified.

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 sticky.