Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Australian Liberal Party Women

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Melbourne, Australia
Source: (1) Daily Telegraph , 17 September 1976 (2) The Sun , 17 September 1976
Journalist: (1) Ann Morrow, Daily Telegraph , reporting (2) Walter Terry, The Sun , reporting
Editorial comments: 1000 local time. MT took questions after the speech. Like the The Sun , The Times 17 September 1976 reported her remarks on terrorism - that she would "get tough with terrorism" if she became Prime Minister and that she would like to see the death penalty reintroduced for terrorist offences. She emphasised that she was expressing a personal view rather than party policy. "As far as I am concerned I would make the death penalty available as one possible punishment for acts of terrorism resulting in death". We attempted to trace Anne Morrow in order to clear permission to reproduce this article but were unable to do so.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 675
Themes: Parliament, Commonwealth (Rhodesia-Zimbabwe), Industry, Trade, Foreign policy (Africa), Family, Foreign policy (Australia & NZ), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Law & order, Northern Ireland, Terrorism, Women
(1) Daily Telegraph, 17 September 1976.

Mrs. Thatcher wins approval of women

Mrs Thatcher met some 1,500 women from all parts of Australia yesterday. Funnily enough, this engagement with members of the Federal Women's Committee of the Liberal party of Australia at a Melbourne rally, made her slightly nervous—and she rarely is.

She stayed up until 4.30 a.m. rewriting her speech so that it bore hardly any resemblance to the prepared address which journalists had been given.

When she arrived at the stylishly modern Dallas Brooks Hall, she looked groomed, in a pale coral outfit.

But as always her husband was close by and went on the platform to sit alongside the white-gloved senior matrons of Melbourne.

Evils of television

Within minutes, with her well-modulated address on the virtues of family life, and the evils of television, she had won her audience. Her knack of looking at every corner of the room is one of her skills as a speaker.

After the abrasiveness of Sydney, Mrs Thatcher shrewdly assessed the solid Victorian values of Melbourne, which considers itself the repository of good taste, good families, good business sense, and generally superior to Sydney.

In her speech, Mrs Thatcher said there were not enough women taking part in public life. “At home there are only 28 women out of 635 Members of the House of Commons.”

Question time was lively and she made no secret of her wish for the restoration of the death penalty for acts of terrorism in Northern Ireland.

She was asked about sanctions in Rhodesia and said the problems there were ultimately British responsibility and had hoped that the initiative would have been taken by the Government.

She talked about nuclear power stations and ships, and pointed out that the Soviet Union adds one extra nuclear submarine to its fleet every month.

The Melbourne Show, one of the classic annual occasions, is always held in springtime when the camellias and apple blossom are out.

The afternoon ended with a sentimental journey to see Sir Robert Menzies at his home. He is rather frail now. The Thatchers had tea with him and his wife, Dame Pattie Menzies.

Last evening Mrs Thatcher attended a reception hosted by the Australian-British Trade Association. She said with conviction: “I believe that times will get better …   . when we in Britain put our minds to it we are excellent at design and new technology.”

She drew the guests' attention to a picture of Concorde, saying: “We are very bright. We have some bright politicians but they are not in power.” [end p1]

(2) Sun, 17 September 1976.


Maggie's solution to the terrorists

Tory leader Margaret Thatcher came down strongly yesterday in favour of the death penalty for terrorists.

She told an audience of women in Australia: “It is the only way to treat them.”

Mrs Thatcher was asked in Melbourne what solution there could be to the Ulster problem.

She replied: “If there had been a simple solution we would have found it long ago.

“Only the people can settle it, but the troops must stay until a solution is found that will guarantee that every Irishman can live in peace.


“My view is that I would reintroduce the death penalty as a first step to stop acts of terrorism. I would be very tough with them.”

Mrs Thatcher emphasised that she was expressing only a personal view, and not Conservative policy.

But the fact that she is ready to go this far is remarkable. Party leaders usually steer clear of this sort of controversy.

Could Mrs Thatcher get a hanging law through Parliament? Most Tory and Labour MPs are against it, and whenever capital punishment is debated there is always a free vote.

Mrs Thatcher could pick up votes with her death penalty call, because many Tory MPs want a tougher line taken in Northern Ireland.