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V

It was in September and October, 1925, that the third Imperial Press Conference was held, and the venue was Melbourne. There were six of the delegates who had attended all three Conferences—namely, Lord Burnham, Sir Harry Brittain and Sir Emsley Carr from England, Mr. J. W. Dafoe from Canada, and Mr. Theodore Fink and myself from Australia. Quite a number of the delegates had attended two of the Conferences. Lord Burnham, as Mr. Harry Lawson,


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was an active participant in the first Conference. His father, the first Lord Burnham, was President of the Committee that made the arrangements for the initial Conference, and on his death his son succeeded him in the Presidency of the Empire Press Union. The second Lord Burnham was the leader of the delegates who visited Canada, as he was also of the delegates who visited Australia, and in that capacity he was ideal, ever ready to say the right thing, and to the delegates courteous, considerate and affable. His charming wife, Lady Burnham, was as imbued as her husband with the desire to be of service to others, and was of great help to him in his work.

Amongst other delegates whose acquaintance it was a pleasure to renew were Sir Frank Newnes, son of the founder of Tit-Bits, Messrs. J. W. Dafoe of Winnipeg, C. F. Crandall of Montreal, J. R. Woods of Calgary, and Professor Bartolo of Malta.

Captain Anthony Eden, M.P., represented the Yorkshire Post, and he was accompanied by Mrs. Eden. It was but a year or two before that he had won the House of Commons seat for Warwick and Leamington. One of the Opposition candidates was a close relative, the socialist Countess of Warwick. Her son had married Eden's sister, but political differences did not interfere with family relationships, and the rival candidates were good friends even during the heat of the contest. When the poll was declared, Eden secured 16,337 votes, the Liberal, Mr. George Nichols, 11,134, and the Countess was at the bottom of the poll with only 4,015.




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When the British Press delegates were passing through New Zealand they were taken to the heights of Mount Eden, and at Auckland Captain Eden appropriately responded to the toast of the visitors, and recalled the connection between his family name and the city. About three miles from his own home is the small town of West Auckland, from which Lord Auckland, from whom he is descended, took his name. The name had been bestowed on the city, but it is a case of the child having outgrown the parent.

In Melbourne Captain Eden, representing as he did a Yorkshire paper, pointed out that Yorkshire has a specially close connection with Australia. He added, “Captain Cook was a Yorkshireman; it was his genius and courage explored your shores. Herbert Sutcliffe, a Yorkshireman, it was whose batting explored your bowling. A connection based on such a dual foundation must endure.”

Captain Eden's speeches were marked by his keen desire to further imperial unity and Empire preferential trade. In his last speech in Australia he wisely said: “A population of 6,000,000 is surely no corollary of a White Australia policy. There must be a considerable and more rapid increase of population if Australia is to be permanently safe for democracy.”

When he returned to England Captain Eden published his delightful book about the tour, “Places in the Sun,” a copy of which he sent me. There is an introduction by Mr. Stanley Baldwin, and in it Captain Eden freely and frankly, but shrewdly, discusses Empire problems, including the plethora of Australian Parliaments, second chambers, centralisation, governors from England, the aborigines, markets, compulsory


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voting, American competition, railway gauges, and tropical Australia.

One of the brightest memories of the Conference was Mr. A. P. Herbert of Punch. He described himself as “representing one of the more serious weekly papers.” The essence of humour is surprise, and he thought that was why people laughed when they saw a joke in Punch.

Whenever he sought enlightenment on some bird or beast or flower he was invariably told, “Oh! that is a pest; it comes from England.”

The visitors were taken round Canberra, then in course of erection. Mr. Herbert remarked that at Carthage visitors were shown the ruins of the historic buildings of a city which existed in remote times, but at Canberra they had the unique experience of going round a series of historic buildings that never had existed.

Tattersall's sweep in Tasmania he regarded as encouraging the three cardinal virtues—faith, hope and, in many cases, charity.

Matrimony is said to be a gamble, but in his opinion it is not; the gambler always has a chance.

Mr. Herbert's estimate of news values he indicated by the remark, “There is more joy in Fleet Street over one lover who cuts his sweetheart's throat than over nine hundred and ninety-nine just men who live happily ever after.”

He added, “The Psalmist said: ‘Sorrow may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ In Fleet Street they knew very well that joy might last a


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night, but a murder would last a fortnight. The best news story was bad news.”

The experience of the delegates to the third Conference in Australia was somewhat similar to that of the delegates to the second Conference in Canada. A couple of months were spent travelling from north to south of the continent, and from the far-famed Sydney Harbour in the East to the picturesque blue reaches of the Swan river in Western Australia. They were brought through the pastoral areas to view the extent of the wool and stock raising industries, to the agricultural districts to learn about wheat production; to see silver-mining at Broken Hill, coal-mining at Newcastle and gold production at Kalgoorlie; to inspect dairy farms and apple orchards, vineyards and vast city factories. They could view for themselves the wonderful resources of the continent and its immense empty spaces crying aloud for population. But what was even more useful from the Empire viewpoint was the close contact of the delegates with each other and the mutual exchange of knowledge and ideas of the Empire with its multifarious problems.

Photograph Facing Page 316: Imperial Press Delegates at Kalgoorlie, 1925. Photographed after spending an hour underground at Gt. Boulder Perserverance Mine. Left to right: Mr. Ernest Williams (general manager); Major the Hon. J.J. Astor, M.P. Fourth from left is Sir Frank Newnes, Bt., with Captain R.J. Herbert Shaw (The Times). Lady Violet Astor has Sir Joseph Reed on her left; Sir John Kirwan is carrying a miner's lamp, and on his left is Mr. Kyffin Thomas. Mr. J.M. Anderton (Hon. Sec. Kalgoorlie Reception Committee) is on the extreme right.



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