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  ― 145 ―

13. Chapter XIII. The Industrial Fight in Queensland

THE attack on the Labor organizations of Queensland in 1891 was but part of the great scheme of the Employers' Union, referred to elsewhere. The banks controlled the squatters, the latter formed a Pastoralists' Association, and the Government were but a committee for carrying out the behests of employers. All the powers of the colony were used against the workers. The public service was terrorised into helping the Government. Railway men were ordered to leave their union, and if one of them was reported as giving any assistance to the shearers he was dismissed. Every magistrate and officer of police knew that promotion depended upon his activity in getting unionists jailed on any pretext.

Pastoral employees had made no new or unreasonable demands. The squatters had cut wages. This was bad enough, but when they were going to fill white men's places with Chinese, and further insisted on “freedom of contract,” shearers and shed hands had no alternative but to go on strike. Even Sir S. Griffith admitted to a deputation that the request of the Union for open conference was reasonable. He did nothing to help, however; but on the contrary put his great ability at the disposal of the employers. He was one of the Cabinet at the time.




  ― 146 ―

Every effort at conciliation was made by the workers without avail. It has become clear since that the ruling authorities had never intended to give fair play. They laid their plans to crush the men, and it stands to the credit of the workers that in spite of all the powers of State, of suffering and imprisonment, they stood true to the cause they fought for, and proved themselves worthy sons of the great white race. Their Union was registered under the Trade Union Act, which they understood would protect them from the old law of conspiracy, but how they were deceived is explained in the remarks of Chief Justice Lilley in the appeal case of George Taylor. He said:—

“I think the Trade Union Act is something like a sham; it is a delusion and a snare. It does away with the old law of conspiracy to some extent, and provides that you may call yourself a trade union, and that shall not be a conspiracy. The fact is that all through the history of trades combination the law has been made to help the master and not the man. The present statute is a milk and water Act. It is, so to speak, simply a sprinkling of rosewater.”

(The Shearers' Union was registered in Victoria, but, in spite of the fact, a member named Waters was sent to jail for twelve months on the charge of conspiring to raise wages. He was in a camp of men who were on strike for union rates and by union orders, but it did not save him.)

The fight was bitter. It could not be otherwise. The marvel was that it did not result in civil war. The efforts of the leaders to try to effect


  ― 147 ―
settlement on reasonable lines, and the fixed idea of the men that they were engaged in an industrial strike, alone saved the country from civil war. At one time it was feared that it would come to that, and to prepare for such a contingency one of the leaders of the A.L.F. and myself held a private conference at three o'clock in the morning whilst travelling on the Adelaide express to Melbourne, and came to an understanding as to certain action to be taken by myself in the southern colonies. The men were becoming very exasperated at that time, and had they gone to extremes they would have taken possession of the country.

The Government had an idea that they maintained law and order by the force of military and police, but such an idea is an illusion. The Governments admitted breaking the law in their treatment of unionists. They did all they could to tempt men to break the law, so as to have an excuse to lock them up. Spies were sent into every camp. The scum of the cities of Australia was raked up to take the work from decent workmen. The use of the railways was given the squatters. The “scabs” were armed, and if they shot any union man they knew it would be to their advantage.

The police magistrate at Barcaldine (Mr. McArthur) was a fair man, and had an influence for good accordingly. He had reported that the unionists in camp there were law-abiding. He was removed to Muttaburra, which is known as the “Siberia” of the service. Mr. C. A. M. Morris, P.M., was put in his place with a promise of promotion if he “did things.” The P.M. at Rockhampton


  ― 148 ―
(Mr. R. A. Ranking) was put in charge of the whole affair. The secretary of the P.U. (Mr. Sherwood) stayed in the same house as Morris at Barcaldine, and at least on one occasion a meeting of the squatters was held there. Morris entered into the business of helping the squatters with a zest, and must have pleased them, as he secured promotion. That the Government had placed Morris and Ranking at the disposal of the Pastoralists' Union is clear from the following letters sent to Morris in April:—

“Queensland Pastoralists' Association,

“20th April, 1891.

“C. A. M. Morris, Esq., P.M., Barcaldine.

“Dear Sir,—The twenty specials were engaged yesterday, and will leave here tomorrow by steamer. They should arrive at Barcaldine on Wednesday next, where they have been told they will be met by you. They go up in civilians' clothes, and will require to be sworn in when they reach Muttaburra, or possibly at Barcaldine. See Ranking as to what would be best. Saddles, bridles, four pack-saddles, rifles, revolvers, and ammunition for each man go by same boat, packed up and addressed your care. The men carry their uniforms and blankets in their valises. They must not carry arms till they have been sworn in, and it might not be advisable then either. They are young gentlemen that have been promised treatment as such. It has been clearly explained to them that no one holds position


  ― 149 ―
over another, except that they will have attached to them a sub-officer and constable of police. They could be divided into squads of five if necessary. Sub-inspector White will be in full charge. Have twenty-four horses with you ready for them at Barcaldine waiting.

“Yours, etc.,

“F. RANSON.

“Secretary Federal United Pastoralists' Union of Queensland.”

“Darr River Downs,

“Muttaburra, 2nd May, 1891.

“C. A. M. Morris, Esq.

“Dear Morris,—I enclose copy of wire received by me from Secretary Pastoralists' Union, which of course explains itself. It is impossible for me to get down to see personally to these men. May I therefore ask you to take the matter in hand for me. I think it will be advisable to have them sworn in as specials immediately they arrive in Barcaldine; then, as there does not appear to be any boss man amongst them, kindly get police to put an official over them to conduct them up here with all speed consigned to care of P.M., Muttaburra. Upon arrival here I will hand them over to the authorities to guide their youthful minds in the way they should shoot. I am sending Messrs. H. Atkinson and Goss down with twenty horses for the men, and with instructions to report themselves to you and receive


  ― 150 ―
your orders. I fear I am rather adding to your trials just now, but see no other way to get the men put through to Muttaburra without a hitch.

“With kind regards, and hoping to see you soon,

“I am, yours sincerely,

“GEORGE E. BUNNING.

“P.S.—If any hitch occurs, wire Mr. Klugh as to what is to be done.”

The following advertisement appeared in the press:—

“The Government are prepared to provide free rations and protection in police or defence camps to all men, union or otherwise, who are willing to return to their work at once. A list will be kept of the names of all such men, and those applying first will receive the first engagement. Plenty of men can find work on those stations where shearing is about to commence, and on all other stations about the central district.

“CHARLES A. M. MORRIS,

“Assistant Government Agent.

“April 7th, 1891.”

One of the Union leaders (Mr. W. Mabbott) called attention to this advertisement publicly, and Boss Ranking at once saw the mistake of Morris, and sent him the following letter:—




  ― 151 ―

“Rockhampton,

“18th May, 1891.

“Dear Morris,—

“Above is an extract from ‘The Courier’ of the 11th May. There is no doubt that Mabbott has intended to refer to your advertisement. Lane, of ‘The Worker,’ who is here, tells Blair this is so. Of this advertisement Tozer, of course, is ignorant. We must not allow Tozer to remain any longer in ignorance, or he will commit himself and the Government unwittingly. However painful it may be to us, we must, without a moment's loss of time, put Tozer in possession of the whole facts. Such an explanation will come better from you than from me. I rely on you doing it by return mail. You can easily refer to par. and say you feel that he ought to be placed in possession of the facts. Send him copies of your telegrams to me when at Clermont, and my reply. Dwell on the fact that we were all expecting his approval of French's scheme, and let him understand that immediately you and I met you withdrew the advertisement. Don't lose a moment. It can make no difference to you, as you've got your promotion, and if you do not see your way to do it I must, in self-defence. I could not let the Government go to Parliament to have such a bombshell burst on them unawares.

Yours,

“R. A. RANKING.”




  ― 152 ―

TELEGRAM.

“Rockhampton,

“May 21st, 1891.

“Message for C. A. M. Morris, Barcaldine.

“Send a wire saying that you have by press of business been prevented from answering. I shall be up before Sunday, and you can reply Monday.

R. A. RANKING.”

Of course it was never intended that such letters should become public property, and it fell like a bombshell on the Government when they were read in the House by the leader of the Labor Party. They howled at him, charged him with stealing, etc. Morris was asked to account for their getting into the hands of the unionists, and he said that he had them in a tin box, which was abstracted from his luggage at Rockhampton railway station. This was untrue. By mistake, his luggage was sent with that of another man of the same name. The letters were not in his tin box at all. He did not take them with him from Barcaldine.

Strong effort was made to provoke the men to bloodshed. The Government sent a wire saying: “Don't dilly-dally. Exercise vigor, even if it cause bloodshed.” This was supposed to have been sent to Colonel French, but that was an error; it was sent to Ranking. The latter put vigor into his work. He wrote Morris, assuring him that if the leaders were run in it would stop supplies from the south. The Union Committee at Barcaldine was at once arrested by Inspector Douglas and Constable


  ― 153 ―
Malone. Outside, 200 military stood at attention. Secretary Kewley was locked up; a spy was put into the cell with him, and he was supplied with liquor in order to see if he would talk.

The strike committee was tried in private. The members of it were sent to jail in 1891 for three years, and ordered to find sureties afterwards. They served their full term, and did not come out until November, 1893. They were Messrs. H. C. Smith-Barry, W. Fothergill, A. Forrester, J. A. Stuart, G. Taylor, P. F. Griffin, E. R. Prince, W. J. Bennett, D. Murphy, W. Hamilton. Long after the 1891 trouble the Government was appealed to, and urged to release these men. They offered to do so if the men themselves would petition for release. This the men refused to do. They declined to crawl and cringe to such a ruffianly crew as the “continuous Government.” Two other men, named Lowry and Heathcote, did petition, and were released. After getting £18 15s. each from the Union Prisoners' Relief Fund they went away south and turned traitors to their fellows.

When the office was taken possession of, all the papers were seized, and any letters which could be used against the unionists were produced, but they refused to allow any in their favor to be read. Everything was glaringly one-sided. A Justice of the Peace was struck off the roll because he had been seen in company with unionists, whilst not a word was said to Mr. Newton, J.P., who wrote to Brisbane “Courier” advocating the shooting of unionists. A number of men were arrested and charged with arson. James Toohey tried to communicate


  ― 154 ―
with them, and was fined £15 or three months' imprisonment. The strong bias of judges is illustrated by the following quotation from the report of the trial of men for conspiracy:—

“There were 200 men in the crowd at Clermont.

“His Honor: It is a nice, pleasant country this, where such a state of things can exist.

“Mr. Dickson: How many policemen were there?

“Witness: Four.

“His Honor: Let me see. They all had six-shooters. Four times six are twenty-four. That would have been twenty-four shots. There would not have been many boohooed the second time if I had been one of them.

“Mr. Lilley: You cannot shoot men for disorderly conduct.

“His Honor: Very probably they could have found justification.”

The authorities were active in locking up every man who was a strong unionist. James Martin was “sent up” for two years in 1891, and for fifteen years in 1896. Justice Cooper sentenced unionists Jeffries and Murphy to seven years each for burning wet grass. Another man, Irwin, also got seven years. Ranking acted the autocrat. Letters were opened, also telegrams. A press wire of importance, addressed to “The Worker,” was detained for three weeks. Anything and everything was justified by the Government which tended to crush out the Union which was the only protection the workers had against the sweating and robbery of the banks and boodlers.




  ― 155 ―

Looking retrospectively at the events of those years, and the happenings since, the capitalist class which ruled then must see how foolish they were. They gained nothing. On the other hand, Labor was aroused, and has taken up the challenge, and is now almost in possession of the reins of government. William Lane, founder and editor of “The Worker,” sitting in the Court House at Rockhampton, wrote the following, which appeared in that journal on 30th May, 1891:—

“In the court-room at Rockhampton. A close, drowsy afternoon. A wearied, listless audience, being lulled into greater listlessness by the droning charge of the judge. For the great conspiracy trial is drawing to its close, and to-night, apparently, the jury will retire and the prisoners will know their fate—or rather Society will know its fate, for it is evident on the face of it that the prisoners are not on trial at all. A paradox, this, is it not? Ah, well, life is full of paradoxes, as you would think if you were sitting here in the Rockhampton court-room and began to ruminate over things as I have just begun to do.

“This is the court-room and the bushmen are here on trial, the judge will say; and the press and the lawyers and the squatters smile cheerily as Judge Harding ‘rubs it in.’ But it seems to me, sitting here, that they are not on trial. It is Society which is being tried, and the verdict of this jury will not matter, whatever it is. Society is being tried here as a


  ― 156 ―
whole, prisoners and squatters and judge and jury and lawyers, tried here as it is being tried wherever the opposing elements of Society are brought face to face, wherever the upspringing of Humanity finds an advocate or meets a foe. And its judge is God—the eternal God which has no defining and no dimensions, but which holds the stars in their places and makes Right Might, and Justice strong, the same God—call it Law, or Nature, or anything you like, what do names matter?—the same God that laid Rome low and shattered Greece, the home of art and slavery, and that judges our Society now, weighing it in the balance, as Olive Schreiner says, to know whether it be wanting. And it is ‘wanting,’ indeed it is, as you would think if you were here—and thought as I do. For justice here is a farce and Patriotism a mockery. Here in this court-room the class-fight is being fought out. Here squatter and laborer face one another, and the Government and the judge, and the whole judicial system chum in with the squatter, and one sees how hollow the Law is and how useless it is ever to think of working together, capitalist and Laborer, for the settlement of our social troubles. It is boiling over here—class-jealousy, class-hatred, class prejudice, class-bitterness; and penned up in this boiling cauldron are the bushmen, officially said to be standing their trial, and they have not two friends sitting together except in the public gallery, and there—well, there the squatters could not find two


  ― 157 ―
friends, only the public gallery does not count yet.

“In the prisoners' dock are the bushmen, rough-looking men, roughly dressed, with broad, browned hands, with poses that lack the grace of Vere de Vere and of the squatter who lounges easily on his bench half a dozen paces away. They wear moleskin pants, mostly, and few wear vests; one or two who are better dressed, with all the town-bred attachments, are lost in the general effect. I saw them in a dark, windowless, ill-ventilated cell, two hours or so ago, wherein they were awaiting the re-opening of the court, and they looked a pretty rough lot. And so would Judge Harding and his associate and young Lilley and Virgil Power and these aristocratic squatters, if they were dressed in nondescript garments and inducted in the same conditions. If you were to see these men out West, as I have seen them, camping under the starry sky and gathering in on horseback to the great bush meetings, free handed and free hearted, open as children and true as steel and simple in their habits as Arabs you would not have said they were ‘rough-looking’ then. You would have said that they fitted—but they don't fit here.

“For my part I would rather be prisoner at the bar than any one of them. Foolish some of those prisoners may have been; not one of them but has sought to aid his mates against the oppressor, not one of them but is being victimised now on general principles for having


  ― 158 ―
given that aid. They to-day, us to-morrow, you some other day; under some pretence or other those who love the people are doomed to suffer. And when our time comes, as theirs has come, may we be as they are, patient, courageous, and fearless, ready for the worst that can be done to us, comforting ourselves with the sure and certain knowledge that we prepare the way for those who will triumph in the end. And surely when the People's Jubilee has come when Labor shakes off its fetters, when Wrong and Misery and Poverty are rolled away like clouds before the wind, surely then men will give a thought to the martyrs who have made redemption possible, surely here in Australia men will remember those who stood their trial for Labor's sake at Rockhampton in 1891.”

What Lane wrote then is being verified to-day. It was Capitalism on trial—not Labor. It was the beginning of the end of capitalistic misrule. It was not a trial. The men were really sentenced ere a witness was called. It was a farce arranged in order to still further deplete the Union funds. The summing-up was but an excuse to browbeat the jury so that capitalism should have its victims. It was left to Lane and perhaps a few others, whose faith in the great cause never wavered, to see glimpses of the future when some of these very rough bushmen then “on trial” would take a place in the country's Parliament. More than one of them have done so. As the world grows older they, and many others of that period, will be placed on the


  ― 159 ―
Roll of Martyrs in the cause of human progress and the setting up of Justice.

In spite of the big cost though little gain in the industrial war of 1891, the P.U., aided by the Government under Nelson and Tozer, had another try in 1894. This time they passed a Coercion Act, which was practically a copy of Buckshot Forster's Irish Coercion Act. Anybody having or suspected of having fire-arms could be arrested without warrant and would be tried privately, no person other than the magistrate to ask any questions. No one could see him tried unless the magistrate permitted. A witness could be compelled to give evidence, even if he incriminated himself. A person could be kept locked up without trial for 30 days—and, under special warrant, two months—without trial. The bill was rushed through in one night. The Labor members put up a fight, but the gag was applied. Messrs. Browne, Reid, McDonald, Dawson, Turley, Dunsford, and Glassey were suspended for one week from attendance at the House. Mr. C. McDonald, who is now Chairman of Committees in the House of Representatives, shouted out as they removed him from the chamber, “A brutal Speaker and a brutal Chairman.”

Not long before a most awful case of gross violation and murder of a woman had taken place, and a reward of £250 only had been offered. Eight or ten men had been murdered up in the North, but scarcely any effort was made to find the murderer. Some men had been out eighteen days in an open boat, and the Government did nothing.


  ― 160 ―
These concerned human life. When it came to property they offered £1000 reward for the discovery of a fire on a ship, and £500 for conviction of anyone setting fire to a woolshed. Later £1000 was offered for conviction of damage to property.

The military was sent out West, and had to drag Nordenfeldts, Gatling guns, and a nine-pounder about over the back country. Colonial Secretary Tozer issued a manual of instructions, and under the heading, “Firing to be Effective,” they were told to pick out the leaders and not to fire over their heads, but to shoot straight. Major Ricardo, when addressing them before they started, said:

“Go forward, gentlemen, and defend your hearths and homes.”

In what way they were in danger he did not say, and probably had not the remotest idea. The officers were all made Js.P. The soldiers were a huge joke to the bushmen. They played tricks on them, but the officers seemed to take the business with immense seriousness. They kept up sentry duty, and turned out on the slightest alarm. One night a black gin went to the camp. It was raining and pitch dark. She only wanted to see her husband, who was a tracker, and wanted to know what they meant when the sentry took alarm and called out the whole regiment. Another night a pig got loose and kicked over some tins. The whole army was promptly aroused into action.

The military was only brought out at first through a joke. A considerable body of shearers were camped outside Clermont, and to amuse themselves a portion mounted and rode through the


  ― 161 ―
town and returned to camp. Later another body would ride through, and so on until, without any inquiry, a wire was sent to Brisbane that over a thousand armed men had passed through Clermont. The military was hurried out West at once, to find on arrival the ashes of a camp fire. The anti-Labor press had worked up a scare. A statement was made by the Colonial Secretary in the House one night to the effect that a homestead had been attacked, and that but for the police using their arms there would have been murder. The real fact was that a ram had wandered round the homestead, and the police had fired and shot it dead.

Photograph facing p.160. Marked Tree, Union Strike Camp of 800 Men, Hughenden, 1891.



Amongst the many extraordinary things done by the Government and their pliant tools I can only give space to a few. At Augathella six men were kept on one chain day and night for ten days. Fourteen men were kept in two cells 7 × 8 each. A man named Gavin was kept in handcuffs all night, though it was known that he was suffering from fever and ague. Men were taken long distances on horseback in leg-irons and handcuffs. When the horses knocked up the men had to walk. When Macnamara and Latrielle were arrested out at Augathella, Inspector Stuart covered them with a revolver and threatened to shoot if they did not move faster. Latrielle stopped and said:

“Fire, that's all you are good for—firing on defenceless men.”

The inspector then ordered them to be handcuffed, saying,

“Screw them together like dogs.”




  ― 162 ―

Hughenden woolshed and homestead are about one mile from the town of Hughenden. Edward Cowling was taken past the town lock-up and kept at the woolshed for six weeks. They had an idea that he knew something about the burning of Ayrshire Downs, and so they kept him, hoping to induce him to say something. He was offered £1000 and a free pardon, but had nothing to say. He was then paid £3 to sign a document; was let go, to be immediately re-arrested. He was tried at the woolshed by the manager of the station, and committed to Muttaburra. From there he was taken to Townsville in a first-class compartment. He was then ordered to dress well, and was taken by boat in the saloon to Rockhampton, where he was brought before the famous Ranking. Ranking sent him back to Muttaburra, but when the train reached Alpha he was taken out there. Cowling, together with James Martin, John Loyola, and D. Bowes, was tried by Judge Miller at Rockhampton on the 8th June, 1896, for burning Ayrshire Downs, and Martin was sentenced to fifteen years, the others to ten years each.

Another severe sentence was recorded by Judge Real in the case of a man named Prior, who was charged with shooting a man at Combe Martin. The evidence was notoriously weak, as the man who was wounded said it was a police officer, and not Prior, who had shot him. Still, Prior was sent up for six years. Six men were arrested and tried, and they decided that Prior was the right man!

To enforce the Peace Preservation Act it was necessary that some complaint should be sent in.


  ― 163 ―
Kyuna was proclaimed, and immediately a man named Finn went to the police and informed them that he had 2500 rounds of ammunition, which he would be glad if they would take care of for him. Inspector Cooper said it was unnecessary, as it was alright where it was. Shortly afterwards the police raided Finn's place, arrested him and two others, and brought them up for trial. They got off, and when Cooper was asked why he did not take the ammunition when offered, he replied:

“Oh, well, old man, it is like this: If we did not make some fuss up here, they would think down in Brisbane that we are doing nothing at all.”

Ten men who were engaged kangaroo-shooting left McKinley when it was proclaimed, but were arrested, brought back 80 miles, and chained by legirons to a log in a bough shed. They were fined five shillings, and had their rifles taken from them. These were returned afterwards, as the men were found to be of good character.

Maxwelltown Station was included in a proclaimed district, and four constables called there and began to search the men's huts for fire-arms. Hearing a noise in the shed hands' hut, the shearers came over to investigate. A dispute soon arose, and resulted in the men disarming the police. Jim Martin was shot in the hand, owing to a constable's revolver going off accidentally The men then ordered the police to leave the station. Next morning, seeing that the police had not gone, Martin said:

“How is it you have not gone? Didn't we tell you to clear out?”




  ― 164 ―

At the same time he was approaching the place where the police stood, when the sergeant took aim at him with a rifle, saying:

“If you come any further I will shoot you.”

Martin did not pause, but calmly walked up to the muzzle of the rifle, and taking hold of it wrested it from the sergeant. The police were then ordered off, and they went and camped some distance away. Later the station manager came to the men and urged Martin to return the weapons to the police, pointing out that they would be obliged to report their discomfiture, and would lose their billets. The men admitted that they did not want to injure the police, as their quarrel was not with them. Eventually, to help the police out, Martin agreed to return the weapons on condition that they would arrest such person as he would point out to them, and that afterwards nothing should be said about the matter on either side. This was agreed to, and a quiet man who had taken no part in the affair at all was arrested, and charged with resisting the police. He pleaded guilty, and was fined five pounds.

In another district a number of men were camped in some scrub when they heard that the police were on the warpath for arms. The whole crowd crept up to the edge of the scrub with sticks in their hands, with which they took aim at the police. The latter did not come close enough to investigate, but rode away out of rifle range as rapidly as they could. Another party of shearers rode out of their way to meet the police, and slung their rifles over their shoulders before riding up


  ― 165 ―
and saying “Good day.” They were not meddled with. The report of the Chief Commissioner of Police on the 1894 strike states that 78 men were arrested, of whom 44 were convicted for various offences.

One of the actions most characteristic of the Government took place in connection with this report. Colonial Secretary Tozer ordered an alteration in the report so as to make it justify his Coercion Act.

The Commissioner said: “That is the truth according to my light.”

Tozer replied: “I want the truth according to my light.”

Mr. D. T. Seymour, the Commissioner, had written in reference to the Act: “It was not necessary to enforce any of its provisions.” This was erased, showing to what lengths Tozer would go. Oakden, who had charge out West, dared to say that there were faults on both sides. Under the cross-examination of Labor members in the House, Tozer became so notorious for the unreliability of his statements that all over Queensland to-day, when you don't believe a statement, you say, “That's a Tozer.”

The Peace Preservation Act referred to was only put into force after the strike was declared off. Evidently the Government was not satisfied that the men had been sufficiently crushed. It quite realised from past experience that men of the stamp of the Australian bushman may be forced to give up a fight for want of funds, but that it makes no difference in his spirit or intention. He only intends to get ready


  ― 166 ―
to renew the attack, and will never stop fighting until his reasonable demands are acceded to. The country was saved the disaster of a civil war by the efforts of the Union leaders. If it had come to such a pass the Unionists would have taken possession.

Australians do not carry arms. In a camp of Union shearers and shed hands there would not be two per cent. who have arms, and these are in all cases men who keep a rifle as a tool of trade to make a living in the off season by kangaroo shooting. But the action of the Queensland Government and its grossly unfair administration of justice so provoked men that at one time it was probable at least 800 rifles, with ammunition for same, were in possession of the unionists. The business people of one town subscribed £200 for the purchase of rifles and ammunition, and one hundred rifles were secured in Brisbane and taken from there by rail under the very eyes of the police and detectives and safely landed in the Union camp. These were Mauser and Mannlicher rifles of up-to-date pattern. Men of the resource of the Australian bushmen could have taken possession with ease and without much bloodshed. In the “Sydney Morning Herald” of September, 1894, the following paragraph appeared, having been wired from Brisbane under the head of news from Winton district:—

“The mounted infantry men sent to the Winton district, with a few exceptions, are unfit for police duty. Several are utterly undisciplined and untrained. Some are very bad riders,


  ― 167 ―
with a mixture of plain clothes and uniform. The general impression is that a serious mistake has been made in sending such men to this district.”

The correspondent also says that one was charged with sleeping whilst on sentry duty. To take such a body of men prisoners would have been amusement to the organized unionists of the West. Assistance would have come from New South Wales of a very practical kind had such extremes been forced upon the men of Queensland. All along the Australian worker has asked for peaceful methods of settling industrial disputes. It has been the employing class and its pliant tools—who hitherto have had charge of the affairs of Government—who have adopted the coercive attitude. Unionists prefer constitutional methods to the adoption of force, hence the restraint always placed on the extremists. It was a lucky thing for Queensland that union leaders had more influence and more intelligence than the Government, as no Government ever did more to provoke and justify revolt than the Ministry ruling Queensland in 1891 and 1894.

Capitalism has hitherto ruled by force and foolery. The days of force are gone, and the days of foolery are nearly departed, as the worker is awaking to the realisation of his own power and his duty. The press no longer dominates him as it once did. The political dust-thrower can no longer blind the unionist with the foolery of platitudes and promises. Industrial organization and political education run together, and soon in every State


  ― 168 ―
and in the Commonwealth the masses will elect their chosen representatives who will make laws for the welfare of all the people; and class misrule and misgovernment, with all its attendant injustice and misery, will have become a thing of the dark ages of the past.

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