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14. Chapter XIV. Law and its Administration.

“ALL men are equal in the eye of the law.” This is one of the fallacies common to mankind. It is not even true in the abstract. It is not true, to judge even by the reading of the Statutes themselves; much less is it true in fact. The capitalists of the world claim and enjoy all the good things, and men have been so perverted in their judgment that even the masses seem to concede to the rich rights and privileges denied to others. Not only are the rich able to succeed at law because of being able to hire the ablest brains as advocates, but they start off with the advantage of having all the bias of administration in their favor.

The worker is told that it is a creditable thing for him to improve his position in life; but the moment he attempts to do so by seeking better conditions, or even when he refuses to be sweated or put on starvation wages, the view of his well-to-do adviser is suddenly changed. The striker is put upon the footing of a man taking part in a rebellion—one who ought to be shot on sight.

I can only recall one case in a thirty years' experience where the Government acted in such a way as to help the workers. That was in Victoria. The miners of Bendigo were on strike, and the mine-owners were fighting them. The latter held leases from the Crown on certain labor conditions—that


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is, they must employ a certain number of men per acre or the lease was liable to forfeiture. They applied for suspension of the labor covenants, but the then Minister for Mines (the Hon. Francis Longmore) refused. He took the correct neutral attitude by simply saying that work had to go on. The mine-owners soon came to terms with the workers after that message reached them.

In all our big industrial battles the Government has invariably aided the capitalists. We have not had a Government in power during any trouble which really trusted the people. Australians are a law-abiding people. They believe in law and order, and in good government. Above all, trades unionists are disciplined to a recognition of the principle of the common good being the first consideration. Absolutely without justification the police—and on many occasions the military—have been called into requisition to help degrade the workers and reduce their already small earnings.

Nothing will destroy the love of a people for law and order so quickly as to see its power abused by making it a weapon to do injustice. Where employers are so unreasonable as to refuse mediation or decline to meet delegates from the employees, they should have no consideration or help from the Government. If no police or military were placed at their disposal they could not, in Australia at any rate, get enough non-union labor to count at all in any case of industrial war, and would be forced to come to terms at once.

In mining they have not of late years been able to get men to take other men's places except in rare


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instances, and in these it was through the influence of the Government. In the Newcastle coal field they do not even now try to fill the men's places. They have not been fortunate in the past. In 1861 the employees of the A.A. Co. in the Borehole mine were on strike. The manager (Mr. Winchip) brought a number of men from South Australia to take the strikers' places. These men found that they had been misled, and refused to go to work. They went to prison rather than work against their fellows. A strike took place in the Australian Shale and Oil Co.'s mine, Joadja Creek. N.S.W,. and the company brought men from Scotland on a two years' engagement. These men likewise refused to work, and many absconded when they found out how they had been misled.

The class of men obtained by employers at strike time is invariably a low type, and not to be trusted. They will “take down” the employer just as readily as work against their fellow-man. They are always inferior workmen, and would not be kept on for a day except as tools to crush the unionist. This is the class the Government has backed up in the past as against the respectable honest worker.

If a ship enters one of our ports it is visited by the health officer, and if there are signs of any dangerous epidemic disease amongst passengers or crew the ship is sent into quarantine at once, and no one is permitted to land. Every one agrees that such an extreme step is quite justifiable on the grounds of public safety, and because to do otherwise would probably allow misery, suffering,


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and perhaps death to come to the people of the country in which we live. Governments profess to desire to see the masses improve their position and set up a high standard of civilisation; yet they not only permit a small minority of the people to introduce that which is worse than smallpox or plague, and which is deliberately directed to produce suffering, misery, loss, and death, but they help them to do so.

To introduce blacklegs and “scab” labor is to degrade the workers upon whom the prosperity of the country depends. “Scab” should be treated in the same way as smallpox. The Commonwealth Parliament has vaguely recognized this, as in the Immigration Restriction Act certain clauses prohibit bringing in labor under contract when any labor trouble is on. The principle should be adopted by the States and applied generally, unless they take the other method of providing proper tribunals to settle matters of industrial difficulties, and prevent strikes or lockouts taking place at all.

There is also the evidence of strong bias on the part of judges and others who administer the law. In 1894 some “scabs” were being escorted through Walgett, in New South Wales. As it was customary for unionists to interview all such in order to post them up as to the situation, a number of union men rode alongside the coaches as they passed through the town. Along the street a man standing on the footpath threw a stone at the coaches. He was caught in the act, arrested, and brought before a police magistrate the next day, and was fined £1. Thus the opinion of the magistrate was that a


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penalty of twenty shillings met the case. During the trial the sergeant of police was busy getting the names of the men who had interviewed the “scabs.” He then arrested them, and after being committed they were tried before Judge Docker, and twelve out of the thirteen were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of from ten to eighteen months. They had made no disturbance; but they were all union men, whilst the man who had thrown the stone was let off with a twenty-shilling fine because he was not a member of the Union.

In one place in Queensland in 1891, 200 men had assembled. There were 60 armed military in charge of a number of non-unionists. There was no disturbance, but a Justice of the Peace who was in readiness read the Riot Act. The unionists kept calm, and asked permission to interview the non-unionists. They were allowed to do so, and sixteen came away with them. Next day the six who had carried out the interview were arrested, and five of them were sent to prison for three months for intimidation. During that year some scores of unionists in Queensland were sent up for periods ranging from three months to three years.

In 1894, in New South Wales, 87 men were sent to jail for periods of from fourteen days to seven years. It was not necessary to have done anything—it was enough to be in a camp, and above all to be a unionist. Chief Justice Darley, when passing a sentence of seven years on a union man (C. Murphy), said that it did not matter if the man was 100 miles away when the offence was committed; so long as it was proved that he had been in the camp


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it made him guilty. At all times it is a common practice for men to form a camp when waiting for shearing to start, so clearly there was no offence in that.

Another man—a very quiet decent fellow, named Richardson—who took no part in anything, and did not know anything about it, stayed at the camp and was arrested. He was sent up for four years. He could easily have gone away, but very naturally thought that the courts of his country were courts of justice and would only punish the guilty, and that therefore the innocent had nothing to fear. In this particular case the real offenders were never caught.

In another case a very fine young man, named Wm. McLean, was shot in the chest by a “scab.” McLean was one of a party of unionists who went out to interview some non-unionists who were working at Grassmere Station, some 40 miles from Wilcannia, N.S.W. The unionists were approaching the hut to speak to the “scabs” when they were fired upon. McLean was shot in the chest, the lung being pierced; another unionist (J. Murphy) was shot in the shoulder; and a third man in the foot. The unionists were unarmed, as was usual, and had given no provocation. They hurried away so as to have the wounded attended to in the hospital, and on the way were arrested by the police. McLean was sentenced to three years' imprisonment. The wound and the coldness of the prison cell killed him. He was released in time to go home to his good old mother to die. No action was taken against the scoundrel who shot him—indeed, the president of the


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P.U. (Mr. W. E. Abbott) sent him his congratulations and a medal. He was also given a considerable sum of money. I have heard the same Mr. Abbott on a public platform boast that he had armed his non-union shearers with rifles and ordered them to shoot any unionist who came on the board.

It is not denied that many things were done which were wrong. Those men not only had no sanction from the Union, but they were strongly condemned. What the unionists complained of was the panic manner in which law was administered, and the evident bias against union men. They were placed on the footing of persons entering on a civil war against the State. Everything the employers did was right; everything the unionists did was wrong. Any interference was called “hindering.”

“Riot” and “unlawful assembly” were real dragnets. Any shearers' camp could be called an unlawful assembly. For these alleged offences thirty-two members of the Australian Workers' Union were sentenced in 1894—one to 15 months, five to 18 months, seven to two years, three to two years and a half, four to one year, one to two years and three months, nine to three years, and one to four years. For setting fire to station buildings four were jailed for seven years, and one received a like sentence for setting fire to a steamer. In all about fifty were sentenced to over a year's imprisonment each. Many of the disturbances were first of all started by city larrikins who were not union men at all. The plan of holding all responsible who were assembled in a camp gave a fine opportunity to pick out all well-known unionists—or, as


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in some cases, the most innocent and well-behaved members.

In 1890 the Defence Committee and the members of the Intercolonial Conference sitting in Sydney would have been arrested but for leading counsel advising the Government that the employers would also have to be arrested. The idea of locking up “leading” citizens was too shocking, so we escaped.

At Broken Hill during the strike of 1892 the strike leaders kept splendid order. There were a large number of Italians and other foreigners amongst the strikers. One night these men held a meeting, and after discussion sent for the strike leaders, who were the officers of the A.M.A. On the arrival of the latter, the chairman of the meeting explained that the large body of men present were all trained soldiers who had seen service, and they were at the disposal of the strikers. If the Union said “Keep out the blacklegs,” they would do it. They were armed, and knew how to use their weapons, and would take the risk. If, on the other hand, they were told to maintain law and order they would do so. The union leaders said, “Maintain law and order, and do no violence”; yet five of those leaders were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of from three months to two years.

“Shearers' Troubles at Brookong.

“A State of Siege.

“Brookong Station, Urana, is in a state of siege by the shearers. Police have been telegraphed for, as the local force are powerless


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to prevent outrages. The servants on the station have been dragged from their beds and ill-treated. The Hon. W. Halliday, the proprietor, has wired for forty Colt's revolvers. and one hundred rounds of ammunition for each. He intends to fight the shearers to the last.”

The above appeared in the columns of the “Wagga Wagga Advertiser” on the 16th August, 1888. It was the second year of enforcing the rules of the Shearers' Union. At first about 25 men were camped on a reserve near Brookong Station, N.S.W. By the date named in the paragraph the numbers had increased to about 150. Two union organizers were there, who, on behalf of the men, tried to induce the manager of the station to grant union terms. He refused, as he reckoned he had enough non-union labor. Shortly afterwards some of the wilder spirits left the camp at night, and entering the shearers' hut near the station, took away the men who were there, and who had engaged to do the shearing. They took them into the camp. The manager, together with the sergeant of police and two constables, visited the camp next day, and some of the “scabs” tried to leave with them, but were nearly all prevented by the men in camp. Some of them were roughly handled, but no serious injury was done to any. The servants at the homestead were not interfered with in any way. All that was done took place under the eyes of the police. The Union organizers took no hand in the matter. These facts are taken from the sworn


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evidence. Nine men were arrested, and on being tried before Judge Windeyer were sentenced to terms of imprisonment as follows:—Three to one year each; four to two years; and the two Union organizers, John Parker and Brian Lee, to three years each.

When one compares these sentences with those meted out to city “pushes”—bands of low ruffians who rob and ill-treat helpless old men and women—an idea is gained of the strong bias ruling on the Bench. The trial took place at Wagga Wagga, and, curiously, Windeyer had just been put on that circuit. The office of the local branch of the Union was in Wagga Wagga. The secretary (Mr. W. W. Head) and myself went to the court to hear the trial. We found a cordon of police round the court-house and the gates well guarded. Business people and squatters were admitted, but unionists were shut out. However, we managed to get in. I was president of the organization at the time. We had engaged counsel to defend the accused, and Mr. Head and myself were pushing our way to the front when I was rudely pushed back by a constable, whilst Mr. Head was rushed with rapidity into the dock and placed on trial with the others.

The dock in New South Wales is a remnant of the convict days, and is made of enormous iron bars with spiked tops about six feet high. It is more formidable looking than the tiger cage in any menagerie. To place men in the dock is to prejudice their case at once. When you look at them you feel instinctively that they must be dangerous to society, and unconsciously the jury finds each guilty before


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it hears the evidence. The judge was on the Bench when we went in. He had a look on his face which indicated that he meant business this time. It was he who had ordered the arraignment of Head. No doubt he felt sorry that he could find no excuse for running me in also. Mr. Head was given no warning. The others had been tried in the lower courts and committed for trial, so there was time to prepare a defence. No such chance was given branch secretary Head. He was not permitted to instruct counsel nor arrange for his office work, nor to say a word to his wife. All that Head was guilty of was that he had ridden out to the camp to see Mr. Halliday and the Union organizers. He had not stayed at the camp any length of time. Nevertheless, Windeyer tried hard to convict him, saying in his summing up:

“If a man came in and took a hand, so to speak, for ten minutes, that was quite sufficient to make him guilty, though perhaps not so guilty as some others.”

The jury, however, were not so biased as the judge, and Head was acquitted.

In commenting on the severe sentences given in this and other cases of a similar kind, we must remember that many of the men were persons of strong mentality, and of such character that they felt punishment much more than men of the low criminal type. A sentence of three years in New South Wales carries with it the awful cruelty of solitary confinement. So notoriously evil is this in effect that at least one judge (Simpson) has refused to give a three years' sentence in any case, no matter how bad the crime may be. Several of


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our unionists who served the longer sentences came out mental wrecks and ruined for life through the solitary system. As further illustration of law and its administration I make the following extract from my official report as President of the Shearers' Union issued to members at the close of the maritime strike in 1890:—

“In connection with the actions at law, the most extraordinary decisions have been given and strange courses followed by the administrators of our laws. Full advantage was taken of that unfair old fossil of a statute, the Masters and Servants Act. The fact that the maximum penalty under the Act is £10 was quite ignored. In the cases tried at Louth, one man who had been stinting himself in order to save his hard earnings to clear off a debt, had £35 wages due forfeited. Another man, who had put his earnings in various articles, had only 10s. to come. Both had committed the same act—one was fined £35, the other 10s., the decision being forfeiture of wages in each case. In a number of cases at Narandera, members' wages to the amount of £25 each were forfeited. Take two cases again as an illustration. One man was £2 in debt to the station, another on the same board had only 10s. to his credit. The latter was let off by forfeiting his 10s., but the former, not having a farthing to his credit, which would have saved him, was fined £10 or fourteen days in jail. Take, again, the following facts:—Sixteen members who had been


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fined elected to go to jail, as they had no money. They went to the lock-up, but the authorities declined to put them in. It was on a Saturday, and they were told to call on Monday. They accordingly did so, but were again refused, and told to go about their business for sixty days.

“Another peculiar case is that of the Union agent, Mr. Arthur Rae, at Hay. As agent, he gave a letter to the shed representative at Mungadel, and another to the shed representative at Toogimbie, notifying the men to come out. Rae was summoned by the owners of the sheds (named Messrs. Simpson, Parsons, and Dill respectively), although he had only done his duty, yet under that peculiarly elastic Act of our capitalistic Parliament sixty-one cases, one for each shearer, were taken against him. One set, that of the Mungadel cases, was taken, evidence being heard in one case only, that of the shed representative, which, although totally unlike all the others, was enough excuse for the individual who, unfortunately, has been made a magistrate, instead of being put in some position more suitable to his intelligence. He was dealing with a union man and an agent, and, after showing a bias sufficiently strong to have him kicked out of office in any country not ruled by wealth, he fined Rae £5, or fourteen days' imprisonment, for each of the twenty cases, costs added. He thus had to pay £155 12s. 8d., or go to jail for over twelve months. The other thirty-two cases had yet to


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be tried, as part of the evidence was taken and cases adjourned. As the magistrate must follow the same decision, Mr. Rae, for carrying out instructions—for doing his work honestly—must serve nearly two years and a half in jail, or pay over £320 fines.

“Another point is worthy of notice in this case. Mr. Rae stated in Court that he would not pay the fine, but would go to jail. Whether the gross injustice of taking away a man's liberty merely to gratify the spite of a squatter struck the magistrate or not, he would not let Rae go to jail. He first suggested bail, but, on being reminded by someone in Court that he could not let a man off on bail who had been convicted, he fixed it up by accepting Rae's cheque for £155 12s. 8d., same not to be payment of the fines, but to be held by the C.P.S. until Mr. Rae elects to take out his term. Mr. Rae did not know how much was to his credit at the time, and the fact was there was not sufficient to meet it, so that the cheque was practically valueless. This is one out of many samples of the free and easy style in which law is administered in New South Wales.

“As you are aware, we consulted counsel, and took the very earliest opportunity of bringing a test case before the Supreme Court in Sydney, where subsequently the decision of the Full Court was adverse to the A.S.U.

“We intend to see that every member who lost his wages by the call-out shall be paid. A large number of those pastoralists who had


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taken action, and even secured verdicts, have already paid shearers, as your officers took steps to induce them to do so, and members very properly refused to work for them until they agreed to pay.

“In Deniliquin district, a number of pastoralists have been mean enough to retain the hard-won money of the shearers, without even securing the co-operation of the magistrates to take possession. If these men do not give up that which is not theirs, it is probable that they may have to do their own shearing in future, as no one will work for them. We are collecting a list of amounts due, and will see that they are made good as early as we can, although we are not sure yet as to the amount; and if it is very large, the more fortunate will, we are sure, be willing to help their fellow-workmen who have suffered in upholding the principles of unionism.”

Payment of forfeited earnings and law costs put the Union to an expenditure of about £9000. In all cases where men were imprisoned the Union maintained their wives and families, and also raised a fund to give them a start of a few pounds when they were released. According to law Mr. Rae, as medium for inducing men to leave their hired service, was liable to two and a half years' imprisonment. Under the same law I am liable to over 643 years. I issued the order for the shearers and others to cease work, and over 16,000 men ceased work in consequence. So far the Government


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have shown no desire to start me on this long term. They have apparently seen the foolishness of applying a law made for one set of conditions to circumstances to which it was never intended to apply. Mr. Arthur Rae afterwards became a member of Parliament for the very district in which the farce of his trial was enacted.

The big strike forced on the Broken Hill miners in 1892 was full of incident, as showing how professedly democratic Governments attack Labor when it needs protection instead. The police magistrate in charge acted in the most glaringly partial manner by using his powers to help the wealthy mining company. The Government of the day helped them by suspending the labor covenants, and, when one extension was not enough, by giving them another. Further, they sent up a Crown Prosecutor to make doubly sure of getting hold of some of the men's leaders. The strike lasted from July 4th to November 6th, 1892.

After it had gone on for some time and good order had been maintained, it evidently did not suit, so eight men were arrested, including the leaders of the union. With well simulated sympathy the Government, on the pretence of getting the men a fair trial, had them sent to Deniliquin, where a jury of farmers might be got. Further, they specially sent up Judge Backhouse to try them, letting it be known that this was because he was not only unbiased against Labor, but rather the other way.

All this was sham and hypocrisy, and was said simply to mollify public opinion, which was against


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the Government. Usually persons out on bail are tried last when a Court sits. On that occasion there were seventeen other cases set down for hearing; but they had to wait and rot in jail, owing to the hurry of the Crown to run in the Labor leaders. The trial began on 24th October, and lasted six days. At its close the wonderful jury which they had been brought so far to be tried by declared all hands except one guilty of conspiracy. All of the accused were coupled with somebody excepting one, whom this marvellous jury wanted to convict of having conspired with himself. The judge pointed out the impossibility of such a thing, when they calmly asked if they could couple him with a certain other whom they named, but were informed that there was no evidence of his having had anything to do with the man mentioned.

Evidence mattered not to this jury, just as it did not matter to the Crown Prosecutor who acted for the Government in ordering the arrests. However, the man had to be discharged. As a reward for maintaining order the officers of the union were sent to jail—the leaders for two years each, two others eighteen months each, one nine months, and one three months. Two out of the eight were discharged, as there was not a tittle of evidence against them.

The sham of the whole thing was fittingly completed by the jury expressing surprise at the severity of the sentences, and saying that they had been misled by the judge, who had indicated in his summing up that he was not going to give them seven years even if they were found guilty. If he


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had not said that apparently the jury would have let them off altogether, which is only in keeping with most of what occurred. The best proof of how the public looked at the matter lies in the fact that both the two years' men (Messrs. Sleath and Ferguson) were sent into Parliament for some years afterwards, and by more than one constituency.

The trades unionists of Australia have received far worse treatment than those of the old world. The Governments have been more cruel and unjust, and judges have displayed a bias which can only be characterised as class hatred. Whatever judicial capacity may have been exercised in other cases, unionists met with neither justice nor mercy. Whenever a report appeared in the press of an alleged union outrage the authorities demanded that some one should suffer for it. A number of men were arrested for the burning of the steamer “Rodney.” There was no evidence against them, and when the Court adjourned for dinner it is alleged that a telegram was sent to headquarters at Sydney to the effect that the men were innocent. The reply was that some one must be punished for it. A victim was eventually found and sent to prison for seven years, though he was 200 miles away when the steamer was burnt. The real culprits were never punished.

If the advice of the judges before whom some of our unionists were haled had been taken, it would have led to the practice, so degrading to the masses in Western America, of being ever ready to shoot


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on sight—a practice hitherto unheard of in Australia. The great majority of the “scabs” were notorious criminals, well known to the police. Many of them were bullies and larrikins who in dark city lanes “dealt it out,” as they termed it, to weak old men. This was the advice Justice Stephen went out of his way to give such characters:—

“He had often been surprised that free laborers did not arm themselves and resist the outrages that were perpetrated against them. They were, of course, entitled to resist—and to resist, he maintained, with fire-arms—if they had a reasonable idea that their lives were in danger.… If Baker had to stand his trial for killing one of the men, he would go so far as to say that the jury might well have returned a verdict of justifiable homicide.”

The above is from the report of the trial of the Grassmere case at Broken Hill on the 18th October, 1894. Baker was the “scab” who shot McLean, referred to elsewhere.

Look also at the remarks of Sir George Innes when trying the cases of alleged riot at Weil-moringle:

“.… The case tried before me yesterday, in which the jury unhappily have not been able to agree, presented features of worse and more revolting barbarity; and serves to illustrate still more forcibly the fearful menaces to liberty and order which are now rampant.”

The case he commented on had to go before a fresh jury at Sydney, and his remarks were calculated to give that jury an unfair bias. The


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same judge, in the case before him, spoke as follows:—

“Possibly you are to some extent misled by the leaders, who are well paid, and who for their own sordid and selfish ends and purposes—under the guise of pretended sympathy with the poor and suffering—fan the flame of discontent and thrust you and others into the forefront of the battle, taking very good care to keep themselves comfortably out of the meshes of the criminal law. But it is to be hoped that justice will yet overtake these designing and unscrupulous men. In the meantime, the law must be vindicated and order maintained.”

The reckless way in which this judge slanders the leaders only shows how strongly he is influenced by the views set out in the capitalistic press. He had no evidence that any union official was paid at all. As a matter of fact, the highest officials of the organization were at the time and are still unpaid. The most bitter and unfair of the whole bench was Chief Justice Darley, before whom the Kallara men were tried—it would be more correct to say sentenced.

The camp was some three miles from the woolshed on the opposite side of the river. Some of the men, quite unknown to the rest, went across to the woolshed and came to the men's hut, which contained some “scabs” and police constables. The attacking party got close up against the walls of the hut, and when a constable put his arm over a wall and tried to fire on the men his revolver was quickly knocked out of his hand with a stick. The


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leader of that gang always used a stick. No damage was done, and the men returned to camp. Of course, those who had taken part knew the risk, and they left. The leader was an able man. The police looked for him towards Queensland. He expected that, so he rode the other way, and came right into the heart of the enemy, taking up his residence in Sydney for months after.

The police never arrested anyone who was really in the affair. A man named Murphy, who had been spending his time at the Kallara Hotel, step-dancing and drinking, and who had nothing to do with the so-called riot, was arrested, however; and, after being bashed about in a most disgraceful manner by the police on the banks of the Darling River, was locked up. He, with another innocent man named Richardson, had the bad luck to come before Darley, who spoke of unionists as “a closely knit band of criminals with commissariat arrangements, with waggons and fire-arms and ammunition, devastating sparsely inhabited country, holding the few inhabitants in terror, and compelling honest laborers to desist from work.” He also said they ought to be shot down like dingoes, or something to that effect.

His remarks not only show gross bias, but they are absolutely untrue as to fact. Waggons, for instance, are unknown and never seen in a union camp or on the road. Neither do unionists, as has already been pointed out, carry arms and ammunition. No evidence was given in that case that they had done so, hence he went out of his way to influence the jury. If the advice of these judges


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of New South Wales had been acted upon it would have led to men becoming armed, and as unionists are in the majority, and are braver men, there might have been a civil war, and the “scab” would have been annihilated. Fortunately, the Australian working man has more knowledge and more sense in these matters than the judges, so their advice was not acted upon.

It is a noticeable fact that whenever public opinion got a chance to express itself it was always against the action of the judges. Peter Lalor, the leader of the great strike of gold diggers which culminated in the fight at the Eureka Stockade in December, 1854, and for whom the Government offered a reward of £200, was sent to Parliament the following year, held the position of Speaker for four Parliaments, and when he retired was granted £4000 honorarium. Of unionists who suffered imprisonment in the years 1891–1894, over half-a-dozen were returned to Parliament so soon as an election came after their release. Several who are in Parliament to-day suffered justice's injustice for being unionists.

It may be urged that, as unionists were tried before a jury of their fellow-men, they had no reason to complain. But the juries were mostly as biased as the judges. The jury list is a limited one at best. When the Crown challenged it they weeded out working men likely to favor unionists, the other side challenged capitalists; and generally the result of the weeding out was to leave a jury mostly composed of shopkeepers or other men with little intelligence and no force of character.




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This story of the jury-room will illustrate this: Away back in the eighties, there was a serious industrial trouble at Newcastle, N.S.W. It was the time that Henry Parkes sent up the military with Nordenfeldt guns. A number of men were arrested. Several were sent to jail for fairly lengthy sentences. One lot was sent for trial before a Sydney jury. Both sides challenged freely.

One juror who passed was a young man who was then a builder and contractor. He took very full notes during the hearing in regard to the evidence as it affected each of the accused. There were eleven men on trial. On the conclusion of the evidence the jury retired to consider their verdict. Of course, our friend who had taken notes naturally expected that they would take each man's case on its merits, but soon found, to his consternation, that ten out of the twelve had no such idea. They held that their duty was to find all hands either guilty or innocent.

Our friend was stubborn, however, and at last they agreed to ask the judge. They retired again, and our friend decided to leave them alone for a while. They took the list; and, as it chanced, the first name was that of the worst case of all. If any were guilty it was this man. They found him not guilty. The next was treated the same way, and so they went on until about six had been found not guilty. They then reckoned that the rest ought to be brought in guilty, as it would never do to let all of them off.

It was here our friend took a hand. He had notes. the others had none; for, though a few had


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begun well in that respect, they had stopped after a few men had been dealt with. Our friend argued, and read from his notes to show that the men then under consideration were innocent—and especially when compared with those already let off. His notes were disputed, and eventually, at about eleven o'clock at night, the judge was called into Court, as was also the accused, and His Honor was asked to read his notes for the benefit of the jury. Again there was argument, and finally the jury went to bed.

The leader of the ignorant section of the jury was a suburban alderman with a big sense of his own importance, but without an atom of sense of justice. Our friend started on him at four in the morning, flattered his vanity and self-importance to such an extent that he got him to agree to let off two men, and disagree on the other three. He followed up by seeing another of the leaders of the party who held that it would never do to let all go unpunished, and by 8 o'clock in the morning he had his way; and so the eight who were most guilty—if any were—were found not guilty, and the jury reported disagreement in regard to the others. Needless to say, the latter were never tried again, and, further, owing to the verdict in the case of the others, the men already in jail had the remainder of their sentences remitted. The man who so successfully fought for fair play for each of those accused unionists is now a member of the Labor Party in the Commonwealth Parliament.

Here is an incident of another kind: After the English decisions in the celebrated Taff Vale and


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similar cases, the law was made use of in the new form in Australia so soon as opportunity offered. The A.W.U. conducted a big strike for an increase in shearing rates in 1902. It had a large camp at Coonamble, just outside the town. An injunction was obtained against us, and the camp had to be broken up. The first case connected with this camp had been heard in the Equity Court by Justice A. H. Simpson, and resulted in our favor. A second case was to come before the same judge, but by some means it was called on before Justice Walker. From the opening of the case it was evident that his mind was made up, and the Union would get no consideration from him.

The case was argued on affidavits, and we wanted a trial, so that we could cross-examine and compel some of the “scabs” who had made false affidavits to admit having been paid for doing so. Our funds had been drained, and apparently the judge knew that, because he insisted upon our paying the full amount of costs claimed—over £1500—into Court at once. We asked that costs should be made costs in the cause, and offered to pay in £1000 at once; but the judge was adamant, and it was with difficulty that our counsel (Sir Julian Salomons) could get three days' grace for this. We of course managed to raise the money in time, but it was clear that the pastoralists thought they had a chance to come down on the Union and take possession of “The Worker” newspaper, and also force General Secretary Macdonell and myself into insolvency and thus out of Parliament. When the costs were taxed afterwards the Taxing Master


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reduced the amount to about £800, so that our offer of £1000 was ample security.

The dodge of getting a favorable judge sent to try a case is a favorite one with those who have any influence with the men in authority. If an Attorney-General wants to get a man off he has him charged on a count on which the evidence is weak. Under capitalism the rich wrong-doer escapes in quite a legal way; the poor man has all the legal forces arrayed against him, backed by prejudice and class bias.

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