Chapter 25 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974

Dr. Jim's Moral Indignation Meter


'Dr Cairns and his Department of Overseas Trade will boycott a Portuguese trade mission to Australia in protest against Portuguese colonial policy in Africa'- News item

Dr Jim's magic moral indignation meter sounded the alarm yesterday after a test run over all Australia's existing trade relationships. As a result an official of the Overseas Trade Department announced that it was now policy that Australia should not promote trade with any nation except the Republic of San Marino.

'Unfortunately, although San Marino survived Dr Jim's moral indignation test they don't sell us anything but pretty coloured postage stamps,' he said.

'So far as we can discover there's not much scope for us to sell them anything but glue.' In a hastily called Press conference Dr Cairns amplified his new policy as being consistent with his attitudes to foreign affairs over many years past.

'You all know of my concern for the rights of minorities everywhere and my opposition to regimes whether of the left or the right which infringe on the rights of man.

'There can be no double standard,' said Dr Cairns. 'In trade we cannot make a moral distinction between communist and fascist regimes which impose their authority on unwilling subjects.

'Both are evil and must be opposed. Therefore today I cancelled the Australia-China trade treaty because of continued Chinese military action against the people of Tibet and the imprisonment without trial of patriotic Tibetans opposed to outside intervention in their own affairs.

'I have also recommended to cabinet that we should cease trading with the Soviet Union until the cruelly oppressed Czechoslovak people gain their liberty.

'So long as we trade with Russia we condone the rape of Czechoslovakia carried out in 1968 by the Warsaw pact armies at the behest of the Kremlin,' said Dr Cairns, turning quite red with indignation.

'We must not also forget the other nations of Eastern Europe which are little better than de facto colonies of the Soviet Union, whose puppet regimes do not enjoy the popular support of the people. Think of Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland and East Germany and you will realise why we should impose a boycott.

'My sense of outrage-always to the fore in Cambodia and Vietnam-is no less directed at the Soviet Union over its subjugation of the peoples of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

'Just because these events took place a long time ago and in far away places does not make them less intolerable to my finely honed sense of justice.

'Of course I am not only concerned with communism but also with right wing regimes in Rhodesia and South Africa.

'In calling for sanctions of greater severity to be imposed against these two governments I wish to affirm my support for majority rule. 'I do this despite the evidence in the rest of Black Africa that democracy is no more than a sham, with military regimes and one party states being the norm.

'The imprisonment of political opponents, and cessation of what we know to be civil liberties has caused me to call with equal fervour for a boycott against Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and the rest of these bogus parliamentary democracies.'

Dr Cairns went on to denounce Cuba, Mexico, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, Panama and the Falkland Islands.

Dr Cairns made a point of singling out Yugoslavia for particular criticism because of its suppression of civil liberties in Croatia.

'My support for the heroic struggle of the Croatian people to achieve freedom is well known. The imposition of a trade boycott on the Tito regime is the most tangible support we can give to the revolutionary cause of the Croatian people.'

Dr Cairns said Australia by cutting off trade with ninety-nine per cent of the rest of the world was clearly demonstrating its unbiased commitment to furtherance of freedom, justice and liberty for all people.

'The trade we will lose by this action will be more than compensated for by export of my moral indignation meter, patent pending,' he said.

(This chapter originally appeared as a column in "The Bulletin", 25 August 1973, p. 17.)

Post publication note

Dr. Jim Cairns was a far-Leftist senior minister in the short-lived Australian Labor Party government led by Gough Whitlam in the early 1970s.

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