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Memento : Issue 16
4 memento january 2001 NEW INSIGHTS INTO GORTON CABINET John Gorton, in his third year of office, was confronted by a formidable body of political opponents and enemies. They included unusual adversaries for a Liberal Prime Minister: members of the Melbourne Club, the Packer press, several mandarins of the Public Service, the State Liberal Premiers, and many leading businessmen. Two particular initiatives in 1970 focused attention on Gorton's reputation. First, the Prime Minister supported John McEwen's proposal for an Industry Development Corporation, which aimed to boost Australian export industries and to retain Australian resources in Australian hands. The banks saw the Corporation as unfair competition, Treasury viewed it as an intrusion upon their bailiwick, and Liberal backbenchers thought it would become a socialist monster in Labor 's hands. Secondly, Gorton sought to assert Commonwealth control over off-shore, non-petroleum minerals. The States regarded the proposed legislation as a fundamental attack on their authority, revenues and sense of self-importance. Liberal backbenchers, acting on behalf of the States, successfully delayed the Gorton strategy. By the end of the year, when the government won just 38 per cent of the primary vote in the Senate election, the vultures were circling around the Prime Minister. In what year did both the Queen and the Pope visit Australia, Australian troops start to leave Vietnam soil, and everyone sing the Beatles hit 'Let It Be'? It was 1970, and the release of 30-year-old Cabinet records takes us back there. The documents reveal a snapshot of Australia as it was 30 years ago, the issues that consumed us, the events that made us laugh or cry, and the decisions that affect our lives today. Consultant historian Ian Hancock recently briefed the media on what the Cabinet papers of 1970 revealed to him and recalled the events that made the year memorable. Pressure mounted to bring all troops home from Vietnam. NAA: A1200, L85635 G OVERNMENT UNDER PRESSURE