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II

During the progress of these troubles I had an anxious time. The diggers were convinced that in


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working alluvial claims on the Ivanhoe Venture lease they were both morally and legally right. As a matter of fact they were, but after they had done considerable work on their claims an injunction had been issued by the warden directing them to leave the lease.

The attitude of the Kalgoorlie Miner, of which I was editor, was to obey the injunction but appeal to a higher court. My advice at that time was, “Obey the law and the court's interpretation of the law whether it be right or wrong.”

The diggers appealed to a higher court, but refused to abandon the lease. In fact, they prepared to resist being driven off. A large force of police had arrived on the goldfields. The warden one evening told me that he had received instructions from the Government to march the police to the lease that night and take possession of it. I knew the diggers would fight and there would be bloodshed. The Mayor of Kalgoorlie, Mr. Fimister, and myself determined to go with the police and speak to the diggers, and at all costs avert trouble. We waited until after midnight, and, as the police were getting ready to start, a wire came from Perth countermanding the instructions.

Later several of the diggers were arrested for contempt of court and imprisoned, but were released when the Supreme Court reversed the warden's decision and upheld the view taken by the men.

Mr. Wittenoom was at this time almost a total stranger to me. Subsequently he became Agent-General and had a very long and most useful public career. He became Sir Edward Wittenoom, and I was for a great


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many years associated with him. We were both members of the Legislative Council, of which I succeeded him as President. When speaking to me about the issue of the ten-foot regulation he often told me that he had acted on the recommendation of certain prominent goldfields residents, some of whom, when the outcry was raised against it, instead of standing by him, joined in condemning him.

With Sir John Forrest I had also much to do, especially as he and I were amongst the five members elected to represent Western Australia in the first House of Representatives. Unfortunately I was more often an opponent than a supporter of his, though I recognise that he did great work for Western Australia. He had no stronger champion than I in his building of the great goldfields water scheme for pumping fresh water in pipes over three hundred miles to supply the needs of the mining community. I also backed him in his advocacy of the Trans-Australian Railway. But I did not agree with his hostility to the Esperance Railway, and though that his policy tended to promote the evil of centralisation, an evil that to my mind is particularly objectionable in a state extending over one-third of the Commonwealth. To-day almost one-half of the inhabitants of the vast empty area comprising Western Australia are crowded together in Perth. I did not agree with his remaining a member of protectionist federal governments and supporting exorbitant protectionist duties. Still, he had the attributes of a statesman and possessed a most attractive personality—breezy, loud-voiced and cheery. In his public speeches he was direct and possessed a good deal of shrewdness and common sense. He obtained his life's ambition


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when raised to the peerage as Lord Forrest, an honour he well deserved, but he did not live long to enjoy it. He died on a voyage to England, where he intended to take his seat in the House of Lords.

Lady Forrest was much help to him throughout his political career. She believed in using all the social influence she could exert to aid her husband, and constantly entertained and promoted functions for that purpose.

When one newly elected member, returned to oppose the Government of which Sir John was the leader, arrived in Perth, he received an invitation to an evening reception at the Forrests' home, “The Bungalow.” He had never been to such gatherings before, and he appeared in an evening dress with a pink shirt. Lady Forrest with great tact complimented him on the taste he had shown in his dress, hinted that the fashion he had set would become general amongst the young bloods of Perth, paid great attention to him all the evening, and pinned a bouquet on his coat. He was young and susceptible of flattery. After that Sir John could always rely on him, and he became one of his most ardent followers and champions.

Photograph Facing Page 144: Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie. Above, as it was in April, 1894; centre, in 1898; below, as it is to-day.



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