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I

ON December 16, 1903, there was a general election for the Federal Parliament. I stood for re-election and was unfortunate. Various things militated against me. Years of overwork had undermined my health, but I did not realise how really ill I was, and so went on working.

My supporters were over-confident of my success. My opponent, a young man, utterly unknown and without parliamentary experience, Mr. Charles Frazer, secured the nomination of the Labour Party because no one wanted it, as my return was considered certain no matter who stood against me.

I did no organising, and my friends thought none was necessary.

The Labour Party was just coming into power. Their leaders throughout the Commonwealth and on the goldfields preached with fervour the doctrine, “Vote Labour.” Labour enthusiasts who arose everywhere became fanatical in their zeal. My supporters


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were not concerned. They thought—and they were right—that at that time the Labour supporters were in a minority.

An untoward event upset calculations. The elements intervened.

On election day a cyclone passed over Kalgoorlie and Boulder City. It blew with terrific force. Rain fell in torrents. The water channels in the roadways became rivers. There were seas of mud, ankle deep.

Numbers of private and public buildings were wrecked. Schools, crowded with children, were blown down.

There was consternation. No one thought of the election, except Labour Party fanatics, who, notwithstanding the storm, polled every vote. A small percentage of the electors voted—only about 35 per cent.—and I was defeated. Great numbers of my friends and supporters had not voted, believing me to be quite safe. Such are the uncertainties of parliamentary elections!

No one likes to lose an election, and I did not like it. Later events showed that what happened was best. Although I ought to have won the seat at that election, it would probably have been impossible to hold it later owing to the rapid growth of the Labour movement amongst wage earners. It was better to have lost the seat at that early stage than later. Besides, it is extremely difficult to sit in the Federal Parliament and at the same time attend to a business that needs personal supervision in a distant state. The only alternative is to become a professional politician.

When elected, my successful opponent, Mr. Frazer, proved himself remarkably well adapted for political


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life. Parliament acts as a university to bright young men such as he. It was not long before he was a member of the Federal Ministry, and he was frequently spoken of as probable leader of the party. A promising career was cut short in 1913 by death at an early age.

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