Federation University’s Verity Archer discovered a letter written in 1975 by Sir Donald Bradman, the greatest cricket batsman ever to play with an unparalleled average of 99.94, to newly elected Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.
The 1975 federal election was undoubtedly a fiercely contested battle. Emotions were high. As any citizen was and is entitled to do, Bradman took a side and wrote:
“A marvellous victory in which your personal conduct and dignity stood out against the background of arrogance and propaganda indulged in by your opponents.”
Bradman next makes a prediction, which you would have to say history shows to be prescient:
“Now you may have to travel a long and difficult road along which your enemies will seek to destroy you.”
Cricket was a sport for amateurs in The Don’s day. Big money had not yet influenced the sport. Players therefore had to develop a career independent their sporting masters. They were tough men on long, self-funded tours, most unlike some knee-bending virtue-signalers and sandpaper betting-agency grubs you are more familiar with from more recent periods. In Sir Donald’s case, he was an accomplished and successful stockbroker in his own right with an advanced understanding of the regulatory framework of his time. Writing about regulations on capital, Bradman consequently wrote:
“What the people need are clearly defined rules which they can read and understand so that they can get on with their affairs.”
Seems fair enough. Sounds like Financial Disclosure Statement (FDS) rules decades later. He then adds:
“The public must be re-educated to believe that private enterprise is entitled to rewards as long as it obeys fair and reasonable rules laid down by government. Maybe you can influence leaders of the press to a better understanding of this necessity of presentation.”
There are four points in that paragraph:
- Belief in private enterprise. This is straightforward enough of an idea. It’s the basis of our Western, capitalist liberal democracy;
- Gaining the rewards of its initiative. Yes. Private enterprise offers goods and services to the public in return for a profit. This is basic economics. Got it;
- Some fair and reasonable rules. Well, let’s not have any rules if possible but, if we must, light-touch and easy-the-understand, sure;
- Explain this to the media. Not a bad idea for a government to share with the press the direction it would like to take the country. All good.
What’s to disagree with here?
Yet, out come the socialists and 1975 ancient historians with an axe to grind:
Broadcaster Phillip Adams wrote, “Sad. Lost letter from Bradman to Fraser after Whitlam’s dismissal reveals ‘the Don’ to be a RWNJ.”
Unaccustomed to shorthand slurs from journalists, I had to find what RWNJ meant: right-wing nut-job, apparently.
To some boomer-era, battle-axe activists-come-journalists, supporting free-enterprise, light-touch regulation and transparency with the media is radical. Apparently these positions are extreme, wild enough to be branded a right-wing nut-job!
At what point in Australian progress did free enterprise become a dirty word?
Or can we say Mr. Adams is the radical one for slandering a long-deceased Australian sporting icon because he believed in free enterprise.
… maybe, just maybe, Mr. Adams has another axe to grind. Perhaps he just hates supporters of Malcolm Fraser over the Political Crisis of 1975.
All Liberty Itch says in response is:
- Mr. Fraser won in a record landslide still not bettered today. Mr. Adams is surely not saying the vast majority of Australians including Sir Donald were RWNJs, is he?
- Mr. Fraser’s successor, Bob Hawke, thought highly enough of Mr. Fraser to appoint him to the Eminent Persons Group to tackle racism in Apartheid-era South Africa. Mr. Adams is surely not saying Bob Hawke was a right-wing nut-job as well for supporting Mr. Fraser, is he?
Like you, dear reader, I was taught never to speak ill of the dead.
It seems Mr. Adams wasn’t.
Long after Mr. Adams meets the Lord, free enterprise and Western liberal democracy will prevail.
I do hope though that the practice of throwing mud at men long dead and unable to defend their reputations will cease, for Mr. Adams’ sake you understand, dear reader.
For Mr. Adams’ sake.
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An entrepreneur who has employed 1,470+ people, Kenelm was admitted to the BRW Fast 100 three times with businesses in Australia, NZ, Singapore and New York, where he lived for 12 years. Kenelm’s investment firm performs mid-market leveraged roll-ups. He was a regular columnist for the Australian Financial Review. Kenelm is the Founder of Liberty Itch.