― 230 ―

19. Chapter XIX. In New South Wales.

THIS was the first of the colonies to return a Labor Party. The seed idea was there years before, but was not taken up seriously enough. The trades unionists of Balmain sent Jacob Garrard into Parliament in 1881, undertaking to pay him a salary. There was no State payment of members then. The attempt to pay their representative was not a success, however, and he drifted away into another party. Angus Cameron was sent in as a direct Labor man for West Sydney in 1883, and Frank Cotton ran for East Sydney in 1890, but was defeated. The real fact was that the workers generally were too apathetic to take up the idea vigorously. It required the upheaval of an industrial war to awaken them.

The maritime strike of 1890 was more severe in its effects in New South Wales than in any other colony, and hence the political result was quickly felt. No sooner had the industrial war ended than a conference was arranged for by the Trades and Labor Council. Previously a sub-committee of the Council (Messrs. Boxall, Cotton, and Houghton) had drafted rules and a platform for submission to the conference. (See Appendix.)

Labor Electoral Leagues were organized as rapidly and as widely as possible. The late Sir

  ― 231 ―
Henry Parkes was Premier at that time, and his Government being saved only by the casting vote of the Speaker, he sent the House to the country and on June 17, 1891, Labor entered the field of politics for all time. There had not been time for anything like complete organization, hence it was natural that there should be some who, anxious only for seats, agreed to the Labor platform, but who. when trials came, deserted the flag. Out of forty five candidates sent to the polls, thirty-six were returned, as follows:—Balmain—G. D. Clark, E. Darnley, J. Johnstone, W. A. Murphy; Balranald— J. Newton; Bogan—J. Morgan; Canterbury—T. Bavister, C. J. Danahey; Forbes—A. Gardiner and G. E. Hutchinson; Glebe—T. J. Houghton; Goulburn —L. T. Hollis; Gunnedah—J. Kirkpatrick; Grenfell —R. M. Vaughn; Hartley—J. Cook; Illawarra—J. B. Nicholson; Murrumbidgee—Arthur Rae; Namoi—J. L. Sheldon; Newcastle—J. L. Fegan, D. Scott; Newtown—F. Cotton, J. Hindle; Northumberland—A. Edden; Orange—H. W. Newman; Redfern—J. S. T. McGowen, W. H. Sharp; St. Leonards—E. M. Clark; Sturt—J. H. Cann; Upper Hunter—T. H. Williams; West Sydney—G. Black, T. M. Davis, J. D. Fitzgerald, A. J. Kelly; Young—J. G. Gough and J. A. Mackinnon. H. Langwell was also elected as a Laborite, but on a Labor platform framed locally by the Bourke League, and his entrance to the caucus was for a time regretfully refused.

Before the House met, the Party met in caucus and adopted the following:—

  ― 232 ―
“(a) That in order to secure the solidarity of the Labor Party, only those will be allowed to assist at its private deliberations who are pledged to vote in the House as a majority of the party, sitting in caucus, has determined. (b) Therefore, we, the undersigned, in proof of our determination to vote as a majority of the Party may agree, on all occasions considered of such importance as to necessitate Party deliberation, have thereunto affixed our names.”

This was a form of pledge which nearly all signed, but which at once brought out indications that the party was apt to split on the fiscal question, owing to the fact that Messrs. Edden, Gough, Mackinnon, Nicholson, Scott, Sheldon, Williams, and Vaughn had included Protection in their platform when seeking election. Mackinnon dropped out at once and left the party. No leader was chosen, and matters were left to a committee consisting of Messrs. Fitzgerald, Gough, McGowen, Sharp, and Houghton. The latter acted as secretary, and the late T. Davis was appointed “whip.” It was probably a mistake not to have appointed a leader, as jealousy was created when George Black made a memorable speech, and declared what he conceived to be the policy of the party.

The party had decided to support Sir H. Parkes, because of the fact that he had placed no less than seven of the party's planks on his programme for the session. In spite of this, when a trap was set by the Protectionists by an amendment on the Address-in-Reply, six of the members of the party

  ― 233 ―
fell into it, namely, Messrs. Edden, Gough, Morgan, Scott, Sheldon, and Vaughn. Later the Parkes Government went down, not on a fiscal vote, but over the insertion of a clause limiting the hours of labor to eight per day in the Coal Mines Regulation Bill. Mr. G. R. Dibbs took office. He was a Protectionist, and proposed to raise the tariff. The fiscal question split the party hopelessly, and only about one-half remained at all solid. Mr. McGowen became leader of the section which acted together, and afterwards Mr. Joseph Cook was appointed leader.

Photograph facing p.232. J.S.T. MCGOWEN, M.L.A., Leader of New South Wales Labor Party

In spite of the unhappy division of the party, it did good work in the 1891-4 Parliament, and after all, it fully represented the party outside the House, which was not at all united even apart from the fiscal question. The first party made a mistake in the form of a pledge it adopted, as a very short experience of Parliament proved the utter impossibility of voting according to caucus decision on all questions, simply because questions frequently arise so suddenly that it is impossible to hold a meeting of the party. There was also the fact that it was wrong in principle to bind members on any question outside the platform which they had submitted to the electors.

The Conference of the Leagues, which met on November 9, 1893, made matters worse. First of all, the conference was not representative, as the members of the Central Committee had seats, and the branches to which they belonged also had representatives on the committee. In other cases branches not properly constituted sent delegates who were

  ― 234 ―
simply adventurers. In spite of the members of the House showing how impracticable in working such a pledge was, as well as the strong opposition to signing it at all, the conference refused to listen.

The leader in urging the new form of pledge was Mr. Holman. The conference was very unruly, and was characterised by much abuse of the members who had been returned in 1891. The following form of pledge was carried, and was confirmed again in March, 1894:—

  • “(a) That a Parliamentary Labor Party, to be of any weight, must give a solid vote in the House upon all questions affecting the Labor Platform, the fate of the Ministry, or calculated to establish a monopoly, or concede further privileges on the already privileged classes, as they arise, and,
  • “(b) That accordingly every candidate who runs in the Labor interest should be required to pledge himself not only to the Fighting Platform and the Labor Platform, but also to vote on every occasion specified in Clause A as the majority of the Parliamentary Labor Party may in caucus decide.”

The result was foreseen by every serious member of the leagues. The raising of the pledge as something of transcendent importance, and at the same time the introduction of much in the way of personalities, brought about a serious split. Leagues were divided, and two parties—both earnest Laborites—contested the election in 1894. Just prior to the

  ― 235 ―
Parliament of 1891, payment of members had been passed. The House then numbered 141 members. The new Electoral Act reduced the membership to 125. The election took place on July 17, 1894. The organization had adopted a plan, followed ever since, of selecting certain planks upon which the public mind had been more or less educated as a fighting platform. Upon these the candidate is pledged, but is free to advocate other questions of local interest or even of national import if he so desires. The platform was as follows:—

“(1) Land Value Taxation; (2) Mining on Private Property; (3) Abolition of the Legislative Council and the substitution of the Initiative and Referendum; (4) Local Government; (5) the establishment of a National Bank; (6) Compulsory Eight Hours Legislation.”

The Independent or Parliamentary Laborites ran 22 candidates, nearly all pledged in some way to the Leagues which had selected them. The elections resulted—Freetraders, 58; Protectionists, 40; Solidarities, 15; and Independent Laborites, 12. The following were the Solidarities: —Alma, J. Thomas; Balmain South, S. J. Law; Broken Hill, J. Cann; Coonamble, H. Macdonald; Granville, G. W. Smailes; Gunnedah, J. Kirkpatrick; Lang, W. M. Hughes; Pyrmont, T. M. Davis; Redfern, J. S. T. McGowen; Sturt, W. J. Ferguson; The Tweed, J. Willard; Wallsend, D. Watkins; Waratah, A. H. Griffith; Wilcannia, R. Sleath; Young, J. C. Watson. This number was reduced to fourteen by

  ― 236 ―
the unseating of Willard on the ground of insufficient residence, but restored to fifteen when Loughnane, on a recount, unseated G. H. Greene for Grenfell. Mr. McGowen was chosen as leader, and Mr. Arthur Griffith as secretary. Mr. McGowen still holds office, but Mr. Griffith was succeeded by Mr. Niel Nielsen in 1903, when he ran for the Senate. Independent Labor—Ashfield, T. Bavister; Ashburnham, A. Gardiner; Condobolin, T. Brown; Darlington, W. F. Schey; Eden-Bombala, W. H. Wood; Gipps, G. Black; Goulburn, L. T. Hollis; Hartley, J. Cook; Kahibah, A. Edden; Illawarra, J. B. Nicholson; Orange, H. W. Newman; Wickham, J. L. Fegan. Which is to say that there were 27 pledged and independent Labor members returned to a Parliament of 125 members, against a reputed 35 Laborites out of 141 members in 1891.

The Australian Workers' Union removed its head office from Victoria to Sydney in 1895, and one of its first efforts was to try to effect a reconciliation of the two sections of Labor. The writer, with four others, met representatives of those favoring the 1893-4 pledge, and secured a modification, the pledge of 1895 reading as follows:—

“I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the selected candidate of this or any other Branch of the Political Labor League. I also pledge myself, if returned to Parliament, on all occasions to do my utmost to ensure the carrying out of the principles embodied in the Labor Platform, and on all questions, and especially

  ― 237 ―
on questions affecting the fate of a Government, to vote as a majority of the Labor Party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting.”

The result was a bringing together of the divided forces, and Labor has been solid ever since.

Sir George Dibbs having been defeated at the 1894 elections, Mr. George Houston Reid got the opportunity he had been so anxiously looking for as leader of the Freetrade Party, previously led by Sir Henry Parkes. Reid was cute enough to adopt some of the planks of the Labor Party's platform, and in addition, he promised to make good any loss of revenue resulting from a lowering of the tariff by the imposition of a land and income tax. Labor held the balance of power, and hence an opportunist like Reid was just the man for them.

Owing to the way the Legislative Council had rejected measure after measure passed by the Assembly, Reid obtained a dissolution in less than a year, and in July, 1895, appealed to the electors on the questions of direct taxation and Upper House Reform. Reid's following and Labor ran together, so as not to clash, and the result was:—Freetraders, 62; Protectionists, 45; and Laborites, 18 out of 45 seats contested. The Grenfell and Gunnedah seats had been lost to Labor—the latter chiefly by the tardy retirement of J. Kirkpatrick; but these losses were balanced in the gain of the Botany and West Newcastle seats by the return of J. R. Dacey and J. Thomson. The party was also numerically strengthened by the adhesion of Black, Brown, and Edden, who had all, without pressure, gladly

  ― 238 ―
accepted the new pledge. A few months later, the by-election at Narrabri, brought about by the death of Mr. Charles Collins, increased the party's number to 19. The Labor roll was then thus called;—Alma, J. Thomas; Balmain South, S. J. Law; Botany, J. R. Dacey; Broken Hill, J. H. Cann; Coonamble, H. Macdonald; Condobolin, T. Brown; Gipps, G. Black; Granville, G. W. Smailes; Kahibah, A. Edden; Lang, W. M. Hughes; Narrabri, H. Ross; Newcastle West, J. Thomson; Pyrmont, T. M. Davis; Redfern, J. S. T. McGowen; Sturt W. J. Ferguson; Wallsend, D. Watkins; Waratah, A. H. Griffith; Wilcannia, R. Sleath; Young, J. C. Watson. Of the remaining nine members styled Independent Labor in the prior Parliament, all were again returned, save Albert Gardiner, defeated for Ashburnham through the splitting of the Labor vote. Of the remainder, J. B. Nicholson remained independent; Joseph Cook had become Postmaster-General; W. F. Schey and W. H. Wood joined the Protectionists; while T. Bavister, J. L. Fegan, Dr. L. T. Hollis, and W. H. Newman were absorbed by the Freetraders.

Mr. Reid carried out the promise of imposing land and income taxes, but left the work of reforming the Upper House untouched. The coming to power of a strong Labor Government is still awaited ere that Conservative stronghold can be successfully assaulted. It will then have to go altogether, as all institutions which have outgrown whatever useful purpose they may have served have to do. During that Parliament the method of carrying out public works by day labor was introduced, and proved a great success. The Parliament

  ― 239 ―
also took steps to shut out colored aliens. The Enabling Act was passed which dealt with the question of the adoption of the Australian Constitution, and fixed the limitation as to the majority required for its adoption by referendum.

The party's platform at the elections on July 27, 1898, was:—(a) Abolition of the Upper House; (b) the introduction of the Initiative and Referendum. 2. Establishment of a National Bank. 3. State Pensions for Aged and Infirm Persons. 4. Local Government. The elections resulted as follows:— Alma, J. Thomas; Balmain South, S. J. Law; Boorowa, N. Nielsen; Botany, J. R. Dacey; Broken Hill, J. H. Cann; Cobar, W. G. Spence; Coonamble, H. Macdonald; Condobolin, T. Brown; Grenfell, W. A. Holman; Kahibah, A. Edden; Lang, W. M. Hughes; Narrabri, H. Ross; Newcastle West, J. Thomson; Pyrmont, S. Smith; Redfern, J. S. T. McGowen; Sturt, W. J. Ferguson; Wallsend, D. Watkins; Waratah, A. H. Griffith; Wilcannia, R. Sleath; Young, J. C. Watson. T. M. Davis retired from the party's Parliamentary ranks through the illness which ended in his death. A by-election for Boorowa had added Mr. N. R. W. Nielsen to the party, thus making the number twenty.

After the election the state of parties in the House was—Freetrade 46, Protectionists 56, with 19 Labor members and 4 Independents. Edmund Barton had been defeated, but Frank Clarke resigned his seat for the Manning to give it to Barton. Wm. J. Lyne had tried to put Reid out and failed, so Barton was appointed leader of the Protectionists in his place. His trial, on a vote of censure, failed

  ― 240 ―
worse than Lyne's. By this time, however, G. H. Reid had begun to go too slowly. He was becoming too conservative for the Labor Party, which had kept him in power for five years simply because he passed the measures they wanted.

When Reid would not move fast enough, Lyne got his chance. The Protectionists had seen the wisdom of re-instating him, and he soon found a peg to hang a vote of censure on. Reid had a number of measures on the stocks at this time, several of which Labor wanted. The party was very evenly divided as to whether it should put Reid out or no. He would probably have had a few months more given him but for the fact that Alf. Edden had discovered that Reid had paid J. C. Neild (one of his supporters) a sum of £300 on account of work done in collecting data in connection with Old Age Pensions without its having been passed by Parliament. The Opposition was cute enough to tack this on to the amendment, and so Edden and other members of the party could not vote against it, owing to the stand they had made when previously exposing the matter in the House. Reid's action in connection with Federation also caused votes to go against him, and the various factors counted. It is certain, however, that he would have been put out a month or two later anyhow.

W. J. Lyne made very definite promises to some of the party before the debate closed. He showed the writer a list of democratic measures, which he offered to give in writing and signed, to be used against him if he failed to pass them through the House. He kept his promise. Reid was passed out

  ― 241 ―
after five years of office, and Lyne came in. He took office in September, 1899, and between that date and July, 1901, he passed ten highly important measures. He took up all Reid's measures of any value. The Upper House had rejected two very important measures—the Industrial Arbitration Bill and Workmen's Compensation Bill.

For the general elections of 1901 the party's Fighting Platform was as follows:—

  • 1. Compulsory Arbitration.
  • 2. (a) Abolition of the Legislative Council; (b) Introduction of the Initiative and Referendum.
  • 3. Workmen's Compensation.
  • 4. Adult Suffrage.
  • 5. Free Education.
  • 6. Local Government.

This election followed changes in the personnel of leaders. Barton, Lyne, Reid, and McMillan had all gone to the Commonwealth Parliament, as had also several of the leading Labor members. Labor lost five seats and gained nine. Labor was 24 strong, the Ministerialists 39, the Opposition 40. There were 18 Independents, and 4 unattached who called themselves Labor. After the passing of the Arbitration Act, Sam Smith was appointed judge for Labor Unions, and McNeill took his seat. A by-election for Inverell was won by Mr. G. A. Jones, which made the party twenty-five, as follows:— Balmain South, S. J. Law; Balmain North, J. Storey; Boorowa, N. Nielsen; Botany, J. R. Dacey; Broken

  ― 242 ―
Hill, J. H. Cann; Cobar, Donald Macdonell; Coonamble, Hugh Macdonald; Condobolin, P. J. Clara; Darlington, P. H. Sullivan; Denison, A. J. Kelly; Erskine, R. Hollis; Gipps, W. M. Daley; Grenfell, W. A. Holman; Gunnedah, D. R. Hall; Inverell, G. A. Jones; Kahibah, A. Edden; Lang, J. J. Power; Monaro, G. T. C. Miller; Moree, W. Webster; Pyrmont, J. McNeill; Redfern, J. S. T. McGowen; Wallsend, J. Estell; Waratah, A. Griffith; Wentworth, J. Scobie; and Young, G. A. Burgess.

The Commonwealth elections of December, 1903, took away Mr. Webster, and his seat was lost owing to a bungle in not getting the nomination lodged in time. Mr. Syd. Law left the party during the Parliament. Mr. A. Griffith resigned, and ran for a seat in the Australian Senate, and Mr. Charlton was elected in his place. The party, therefore, at the close numbered twenty-three.

As a result of a ballot taken simultaneously with the Commonwealth elections in December, 1903, the number of members in the Legislative Assembly was reduced from 125 to 90. Sir John See, who had succeeded Sir William Lyne as Premier, resigned on June 13, 1904, and Mr. Waddell took his place. The elections on August 6, 1904, sent in twenty-five Labor men, as follows:—G. A. Burgess, Burrangong; J. H. Cann, Broken Hill; M. Charlton, Northumberberland; J. R. Dacey, Alexandria; W. M. Daley, Darling Harbor; A. Edden, Kahibah; J. Estell, Waratah; A. Gardiner, Orange; A. Griffith, Sturt; R. Hollis, Newtown; W. A. Holman, Cootamundra; G. A. Jones, The Gwydir; A. J. Kelly, The Lachlan; H. Macdonald, The Castlereagh; D. Macdonell, Cobar;

  ― 243 ―
P. McGarry, The Murrumbidgee; J. S. T. McGowen, Redfern; J. McNeill, Pyrmont; J. C. Meehan, The Darling; G. T. C. Miller, Monaro; J. B. Nicholson, Wollongong; N. R. W. Nielsen, Yass; R. Scobie, The Murray; P. H. Sullivan, Phillip; T. H. Thrower, The Macquarie.

The result of the elections frightened Mr. Waddell, who did not attempt to carry on, but called the House together on August 23, obtained supply, and then resigned. Mr. Joseph Carruthers, who had been leader of the Opposition, took office, and met the House on September 20. Labor now became the direct Opposition, with Mr. McGowen as leader. The remnants of the Lyne-See party also sat with them, but were an unreliable set of men when any fighting had to be done. When McGowen moved votes of censure in 1905 only one of them voted with Labor, and in 1906 none at all.

The following two years cover the period of New South Wales's greatest political disgrace—the exposure of the land scandals, and the still worse scandal of the Carruthers-Wade Government doing its best to hide the corrupt practices and help the guilty to escape. Mr. Carruthers had been Minister for Lands for five years under Reid. He introduced a system of Improvement Leases in the 1895 Land Act. This was to enable the Department to let, at a nominal rental, land covered with scrub, on condition that the lessee made certain improvements. The particular blocks had to be picked out and marked on the map by the District Surveyor, but the letting was practically in the control of the Minister. There was a large area of land in New South Wales which

  ― 244 ―
was of no use as it stood, but which would prove of high value if cleared and improved.

Such lands naturally suited someone in the immediate neighborhood better than any other person, and an excuse of this kind was given when the Minister was found granting leases to big squatters. Mr. Carruthers granted 502 leases, covering an area of 4,628,875 acres, at a rental of less than a halfpenny per acre. W. P. Crick, Lands Minister in the See Government, granted 628 improvement leases, embracing 3,807,601 acres, at a rental of nearly threepence per acre. In all, six Ministers had granted leases under this section covering 10,127,709 acres.

Owing to demands made by members of the Labor Party, but mainly because of certain disclosures in a law case of Sims versus Browne, the Government was forced to appoint a Royal Commission to hold an inquiry into the Sims case, the Myall Creek purchase (an estate sold to the Government for closer settlement), and also into the matter of land agents and their relations with the Department. Justice Owen was appointed. Evidence of a startling character soon came out. It was proved that one man in particular—W. N. Willis, for many years a member of the New South Wales Parliament, and a member whilst the smart practices were carried out—was the principal receiver of enormous sums, which were paid to him as land agent by big squatters, and intended as bribes to secure for them blocks of land. Three others had also been paid large sums. Evidence was given showing that fees aggregating £67,364 16s. 4d. had been paid in all to

  ― 245 ―
about twenty men. Willis had received £44,913, Peter Close £15,649, W. Bath £2575, and Senator E. D. Millen £1250.

As samples of the class of clients, I may mention Strahorn, who paid Willis £3951; McKay, £7675; Edols and Co., £6000; Cornish, £3324. How this money was used after Mr. Willis got it remains a mystery. He was naturally the principal witness wanted. He pleaded ill-health as an excuse, and the judge agreed to take his evidence later. He at once cleared out to South Africa. Premier Carruthers was the principal in the firm of Carruthers and Wilson. He was, and had been for years, the legal adviser of Willis. He was the legal adviser when Minister for Lands in the Reid Ministry. As Premier, he did nothing to prevent the main and essential witness from leaving Australia. He knew that Willis was going, because his firm drew up the power of attorney for Willis to sign before leaving, which enabled those authorised to carry on Willis's business. No wonder Willis was a successful land agent, when he had first the Minister for Lands and next the Premier for legal adviser. Peter Close gave evidence that he had divided his fees with Minister for Lands Crick.

It was proved that not only had scrub lands, as originally intended, been let under improvement lease, but that good agricultural land had been granted, and hence the big sums paid. It should also be mentioned here that, under the Land Act, the Minister could arrange exchanges of blocks of land in one place for blocks in another. This was intended to permit of making up areas which were too small

  ― 246 ―
by securing a portion of the adjoining land, and giving a piece somewhere else in exchange. Some of the money paid in fees was for this kind of work. Sir Samuel McCaughey is probably the biggest land holder in Australia. Likewise, he is one of the richest men. Waddell, who was taken into the Carruthers-Wade Ministry, is in partnership with him. While Minister for Lands, Carruthers granted half a million acres as improvement leases to Sir S. McCaughey, after having refused five other applicants who offered more rent. Cunning lawyer that he was, he so worked it that no enquiry at all was made into his administration. Mr. Carruthers, when leader of the Opposition, must have known of the “dummying” carried on by Willis, as his firm paid its own cheque for £770 3s. 6d. to prevent one of the dummies being made bankrupt, and thus possibly exposing the whole thing. This was during Willis's absence.

A storm was raised when Willis was allowed to leave the country, and no rest was given the Carruthers Cabinet until steps were taken to bring Willis back from South Africa. Eventually he was brought back and tried, but got off. Crick was tried also, but the Government made sure of his getting off by not charging him on the indictment suggested by Justice Owen. From beginning to end of this disgraceful episode the Carruthers-Wade Government did nothing they were not forced into doing. Even the two big morning journals, by whose support they were elected and kept in power, spoke strongly, as the following quotations will show:—

  ― 247 ―

“ ‘Daily Telegraph,’ July 24, 1906:— Coming down to hard facts, how has the Government dealt with the land scandals, except by taking the course most likely to prevent anything at all being done? … It argued on both sides and deliberately played for defeat of its own move.

“ ‘Daily Telegraph,’ August 2, 1906:— From the first it (the ‘Reform’ Government) showed an unwillingness to do any more than it was flogged into doing.

“ ‘Daily Telegraph,’ July 14, 1906:—The Government always moved too late, and every time came shambling in at the heel of the hunt. The doing of the right thing was doggedly delayed until the arrival of the wrong time.

“Referring to Mr. Carruthers' previous dealings with Land Agent Willis—‘A Citation of Plain Facts’—the ‘Daily Telegraph’ says:— The fact remains that he (Premier Carruthers) is supreme director of the proceedings in which both his land agent client (W. N. Willis) and the ex-Minister are mainly involved, and these proceedings have been bungled from the start in a way that has singularly suited the purposes of both.

“ ‘Daily Telegraph,’ December 12, 1906:— A lamer or more farcical conclusion to such a work as that of the Royal Commission has never been witnessed. … The Premier has preferred to use blank cartridge, and with this ineffective demonstration he expects the public to regard

  ― 248 ―
the honor of Parliament as vindicated and the claims of justice satisfied.”

Though there was a clear admission that numbers of wealthy men had paid bribes, no action was taken against them. The persistent demands of the Labor Opposition, and the fright given Carruthers at the 1907 elections, secured legislation under which a Court is set up which has power to declare improvement leases forfeited. Justice Owen presided, and recently he cancelled 95 leases to obtain which some of the thousands referred to had been paid. How many others ought to be cancelled, if there had been an investigation, it is hard to even guess. Justice Owen sat as Commissioner 93 days, and examined 251 witnesses and 387 documents, but he did not get a chance to make the full inquiry required, as he was baulked by the Government. The Carruthers-Wade crowd were called a “Reform” Government, and yet they cloaked the most corrupt transactions which Australia has any cognisance of. In spite of that they are kept in power by men who call themselves decent, respectable, Christian citizens.

Such men will excuse anything—will condone any crime against the public—and stand the odium thereof rather than see Labor in office. They have no objection to Labor's political programme; they publicly admit that Labor members have improved the tone of the House; but just because they stand for the masses as against the classes, so they will swallow any dirt rather than permit clean, honest men to rule the affairs of the country. It is Conservatism

  ― 249 ―
become desperate, and fighting in its last ditch. It is Capitalism's last stand. They have been unable to corrupt the Labor movement. Money is powerless against the onward march of Australia's hosts, because they are not worshippers of the almighty dollar. Capitalism has failed to weaken any Labor Party in any Australian State from within or without. No man will take a bribe, and even if he did his influence would not count for enough to accomplish anything. Hence Capitalism must fight openly and in a way to which it is unaccustomed. Its day is doomed, and it is feeling desperate about it.

The party lost one of its most popular members and a good fighter in the Cause when Mr. Hugh Macdonald died, on October 23, 1906. Mr. J. L. Trefle, the Labor candidate, was elected to the vacancy.

The history of this period bristles with such glaring acts on the part of the capitalistic Government that they should bring home to the people the danger of keeping such a class in power. A case in point is provided by the Gloucester Estate and North Coast Railway jobs. This estate belonged to that octopus, the A. A. Company, and they offered it to the See Government at ten shillings per acre. It was not accepted, but almost immediately afterwards a syndicate of Sydney politicians, bank managers, company directors, and landlords purchased the estate at 12s. 6d. per acre. Ex-Premier See held 1000 shares, and Carruthers and several politicians of the same school had an interest. The next move was to send a proposal to the Public Works Committee to consider the matter of a railway along

  ― 250 ―
the North Coast. The committee found that the line would cost £2,700,000, and that there would be a loss of £50,000 per annum in working it. They were opposed to the line unless the land through which it passed was loaded sufficiently to guard against loss. The Government brought in a bill to have the line constructed.

The Labor Party put up such a strong fight against the measure that a few of the Government supporters voted with them, and the bill was only carried by two votes. Carruthers dropped it for the time, but later brought up the measure again; and cracking the whip by making the bill a party one, and hinging the fate of the Government upon it, not only succeeded in carrying the measure, but struck out the loading provisions.

The line traverses the estate for forty-one miles, and, needless to say, the railway will put thousands of pounds into the pockets of the syndicate at the expense of the taxpayer. From Maitland to the estate is fifty-seven and a half miles, and thence forty-one miles through the estate. This is to be the first section done, and will cost £913,900. The estate embraces 207,000 acres, and the holders will get all the benefit. The whole object has been gained so far as Carruthers and his clique are concerned, and there is no justification for the line on public grounds, as it would only be a few miles from the sea all the way, and water carriage is much cheaper. This is one of the cases which illustrate their declared policy of helping private enterprise.

How little such a party cares for the poor is proved by the fact that Carruthers tried to cut

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down the sum allowed old age pensioners. But for Labor he would have succeeded. He made no attempt to cut down the £1820 per year pensions to judges on retirement. Though steadily increasing the indebtedness of the State by borrowing, he relieved the wealthy by removing the income tax of sixpence in the £ on all incomes over £4 per week. There had been no request for this to be done; but the doing of it, and the attempt to cut down the old age pensioners—whose maximum is ten shillings per week—exemplify the character of capitalistic Governments.

It was quite in keeping also that Carruthers and his gang had no patriotism. They are strongly anti-Australian. The work of the Federal Parliament had been too democratic to please them, and they lost no opportunity of trying to belittle Australia. It was in keeping with such small minds that the Premier of the mother State, as they were fond of calling it, forcibly seized sundry rolls of wire netting from His Majesty's Customs at Sydney Harbor. Poor little man, he thought to become a hero, but he only succeeded in becoming a bye-word and a disgrace. The Australian Government took no notice of him, and the High Court declared all State goods dutiable.

Joey Carruthers, as he was generally called, talked very big for a little man. He even threatened secession, and seemed to think that he owned New South Wales, but the results of the elections of September 10, 1907, gave him his quietus for ever. He put up a big fight, and called to his aid all the unscrupulous tactics of which he was a past master,

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but lost ground. Labor came out of the battle with 32 members as follows:—G. S. Beeby, Blayney; G. A. Burgess, Burrangong; J. H. Cann, Broken Hill; A. C. Carmichael, Leichhardt; M. Charlton, Northumberland; J. R. Dacey, Alexandria; J. Dooley, Hartley; Alf Edden, Kahibah; J. Estell, Waratah; A. Griffith, Sturt; W. C. Grahame, Wickham; R. Hollis, Newtown; H. E. Horne, Liverpool Plains; W. A. Holman, Cootamundra; G. A. Jones, The Gwydir; A. J. Kelly, The Lachlan; P. J. Lynch, Ashburnham; D. Macdonell, Cobar; P. McGarry, The Murrumbidgee; J. S. T. McGowen, Redfern; J. McNeill, Pyrmont; J. C. Meehan, The Darling; J. B. Mercer, Rozelle; G. T. C. Miller, Monaro; J. B. Nicholson, Wollongong; N. R. W. Nielsen, Yass; H. J. F. Peters, Deniliquin; J. Page, Botany; R. J. Stuart-Robertson, Camperdown; R. Scobie, The Murray; J. Storey, Balmain; J. L. Trefle, The Castlereagh.

There were fifteen who called themselves Independents, hence Carruthers was only left with 43 supporters. He saw that his day was done, and was not prepared to face the risk of an enquiry into his own administration, so on September 30, 1907, he resigned, and Wade became Premier, with Waddell as Treasurer. Mr. Wade lives up to the traditions of capitalism. He is a pliant tool in the hands of the employing class, and hates trade unionism like poison. The Arbitration Act expired on June 30, 1908. Wade lost no time in preparing another measure to take its place. It was a hybrid kind of thing, called the Industrial Disputes Bill. It was intended to crush unionism altogether. It

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was designed to encourage the development of “scab.” He called Parliament together on March 10, 1908, specially to deal with this wonderful measure. The storm raised by Labor frightened him, however, and he altered it until, as now law, it is a kind of cross between the Wages Board system and the Arbitration Court method of settling disputes.

As might be expected from the tyrant-minded, he takes plenty of power to deal severely with unionists who offend against his ideas of what the worker ought to do, and when he got an opportunity he did not fail to enforce the clauses. The Rock-choppers went on strike, and Wade had their leaders arrested and heavily fined. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company at Broken Hill locked out their workmen because they refused to accept a lower rate of wages than all other mines had agreed to pay. The miners had been working for two years under an award of the Arbitration Court. It terminated at the end of 1908, but prior to that date the Combined Unions asked for a conference with the mine-owners of the district. The conference was held. Before its conclusion, however, the Proprietary Company withdrew its representatives. All the other companies came to a friendly settlement with the Combined Unions. The latter communicated with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, and tried to meet them in every way.

The other mines had accepted a renewal of the agreement, but the modest request of the miners was met by the richest company on the field with a demand that their employees should accept a

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reduction of 12½ per cent. on the rates which a judge in a State tribunal had declared to be fair. The reduction meant a shilling per day less for the miner to live upon. The men had no option but to refuse; they could not in fairness go back on their mates or accept from the richest company less than the poorer companies had willingly agreed to pay. When they refused, the Company locked them out.

Section 42 of the Industrial Disputes Act of New South Wales reads:—

42. If any person—

  • (a) does any act or thing in the nature of a lock-out or strike, or takes part in a lock-out or strike, or suspends or discontinues employment or work in any industry; or
  • (b) instigates to or aids in any of the abovementioned acts,

he shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding one thousand pounds, or in default to imprisonment not exceeding two months:

Provided that nothing in this section shall prohibit the suspension or discontinuance of any industry or the working of any persons therein for any cause not constituting a lock-out or strike.

The Broken Hill Proprietary Company has had about £12,000,000 out of its mine, while many of the others are collecting calls from their shareholders; but Premier Wade, instead of taking action against the rich law-breaking company, sent about 400 fully

  ― 255 ―
armed police to browbeat the men into submission. These police almost at once attacked the miners whilst they were relieving pickets in the usual orderly manner, and with rough handling arrested twenty-eight men, including the leader, Tom Mann. It was admitted that the leaders of the miners were keeping the men under fine control, and that they were well behaved. It was, of course, because of this fact that the police were sent to provoke men to riot. A change was made in the Bench by sending up a special magistrate with a proper hatred of the union worker, so that the law could be judicially strained to punish those who upon any excuse or no excuse had been brought before Wade's Police Court.

The foolishness of thinking that workers can be intimidated in this way! Australian unionists may be starved into temporary submission, but they have never allowed themselves to be intimidated. It was because they were orderly that the men were arrested. It was hoped that the sense of injustice which brings indignation to any manly person would excite men to a genuine breach of ordinary good behaviour, and it speaks volumes for the discipline of trade unionism that the men exercised such marvellous self-control.

In this manner began the year 1909 at the Barrier. Meantime, Justice Higgins offered to give up his holidays and conciliate. The miners were willing, and at once sent their officer to confer with him, but the directors had the impudence to dictate terms which very properly the judge reminded them he had nothing to do with giving. Mr. Darling,

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chairman of the directors, asked that the military should be sent to help enforce his starvation wage. He said that if the miners would give up gambling and drinking they could live on 7s. 6d. per shift!

Broken Hill is one of the most costly places in Australia to live in, and the rich robber-parasite Darling is not content with his share of the £12,000,000 taken out of the lead mines at the expense of the men's lives, but asks them not only to ruin their health for all their miserable existence, but that they should starve whilst doing it. And very properly, and quite in the natural order of things, Premier Wade does his best to help Darling to secure his outrageous ends. Most strange of all is the fact that there are working men who voted for Wade, and even for Darling. Truly Labor has an uphill fight in its efforts to secure social justice, and it is the worker who stands blocking the path of progress.

Of the twenty-eight arrested twenty-three were discharged by Mr. A. N. Barnett, S.M., and five were committed for trial. Of these the jury found no case against the leader, Tom Mann, and disagreed in the cases of W. Rosser and Joseph Lyons. W. Stokes and John May were sent up for three and two years respectively. H. Holland, a Socialist visitor from Sydney, was sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labor for alleged seditious remarks.

Most excellent work was accomplished by the New South Wales Labor Party. It was due to one member of the Party (Mr. Sam Smith, for some years secretary of the Seamen's Union, but now,

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unfortunately for himself and the movement, laid aside by illness) that it has become safe to travel on some of the ferry boats of Sydney harbor. Prior to his taking the matter up in 1898-9, profit-making private enterprise was carrying thousands daily to Manly and other places in steamers the hulls of which were so rotten that if they had bumped a dead dog in the harbor they would have gone down. Rust and paint and marvellous luck carried them through. It was easy to poke holes through their sides with an umbrella, yet Government officers had passed such boats as fit for traffic. One steamer actually sank at her moorings.

When Sam Smith got at them, one of the worst was run into Mort's Dock to be replated. Sam had secured portions of the rotten plates as exhibits when moving on the matter in the House. One day a party of us went over to the Dock to have a look at the work. On arrival Sam discovered that the owners had removed the plates which had been taken off, and other old plates less worn out had been brought and laid alongside. This was done with a view of deceiving us and any inspector who might chance to call. Sam Smith knew all about it, and was able to tell them where the original plates had been planted, so they had to bring them back. They were eaten through with rust, and you could crumble them up in your fingers. Premier Reid put Sam on a Board after that, which stirred up things and gave some degree of safety to the lives of the public. Of the work done by the Party as a whole, I am indebted to an excellent pamphlet, “The Labor

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Party in New South Wales,” by Mr. Geo. Black, for the list of measures summarised below:—

  • “1. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1891. This measure was voluntary. The Court could not compel the attendance of the parties to a dispute, nor make an award, nor enforce a decision.—Parkes.
  • “2. The Electoral Act of 1893, which made residence the voter's sole qualification—and thus abolished plural voting, and provided for single electorates, electoral rights, and an extension of the voting hours.—Dibbs.
  • “3. The Labor Settlements Act of 1893, which provided for the placing of the deserving unemployed in communal settlements on Crown land, where they were provided with huts, food, clothing, seeds, and implements of every description—these expenses to be a charge against the products of the ground and their labor.—Dibbs.
  • “4. The Land Tax Act of 1895—falling on unimproved values at the rate of 1d. per £ with an exemption up to £240.—Reid.
  • “5. The income Tax of 1895 of 6d. per £ with an exemption up to £200.—Reid.
  • “6. The Franchise Act—giving votes to the police.—Reid.
  • “7. Two Mining Acts Amendments Acts—which lowered the charge for miners' rights from 20s. per annum to 2s. 6d. for six months, dating from the issue of the right—with the right to mine for minerals other than gold;

      ― 259 ―
    reduced the cost of occupation leases from £17 10s. to £3 7s.; and imposed labor conditions on all special leases granted to landowners under the original Act.—Reid.
  • “8. A Workshops and Factories Act which made registration imperative; provided for periodical inspection, sanitation, and ventilation, the fencing of dangerous machinery and belts; fixed meal hours; prevented the employ of children under 13 and permitted lads under 16 and females to work 48 hours only in factories and 52 hours in shops.—Reid.
  • “9. Coal Mines Regulation Act, which makes managerial daily inspection and periodical Government inspection compulsory; insists on the appointment of certificated inspectors, arbitration in disputes, coroner's inquiries on accidents, notices of abandonment, the fencing of abandoned shafts, payment by weight, appointment of check weighers by men, impulsion to the working face of not less than 100 feet of air in each minute for each man, boy, and horse in each mine; prohibits the employment of women and boys under 14, and public-house payments, also single-shaft mines.—Reid.
  • “10. The Selectors' Relief Act.—Reid.
  • “11. Re-appraisement of Special Areas.—Reid.
  • “12. The Perpetual Leasing Act.—Reid.
  • “13. The Navigation Act Amendment Act—so mutilated by the Council that its main provision was one for the reduction of pilot fees.—Reid.

  •   ― 260 ―
  • “14. The Elections Act Amendment Acts of 1896, 1897, and 1898.—These reduced the period necessary to qualify for a transfer from one electorate to another from three months to one month, and made voting under an original right valid until a transferred right is obtained—therefore the vote of the careful elector is practically continuous; revision courts sit monthly instead of half-yearly; the hours of polling were further lengthened; and the transmission of rights by post was permitted.—Reid.
  • “15. The Exclusion of Inferior Races.—This had to be arrived at by means of an educational test.—Reid.
  • “16. The Navigation Act Amendment Act of 1889, which abolished the Marine Board, constituted a Department of Navigation and Courts of Marine Enquiry; made inspection compulsory on the order of the Court; provided that all sea-going steamers shall carry holders of a first or second class engineer's certificate, and that other steam driven vessels shall carry a certificated engineer of the third class; also that all sea-going vessels shall carry a certificated captain and mate; also for the inspection of the load-line; also the provision of proper accommodation for seamen and others, of well-found boats, buoys, rafts, and life-belt; and so on.—Lyne.
  • “17. The Early Closing Act, which provides for the closing of all business premises at 6 p.m. on four nights of the week, at 1 p.m. on one day, and at 10 p.m. on another day.—Lyne.

  •   ― 261 ―
  • “18. The Act to Limit the Attachment of Wages—the exemption being up to £2 weekly.—Lyne.
  • “20. The Truck Act.—This measure put a stop to payment in public houses or stores, compulsory residence in the dwellings of the employer, compulsory dealing at the employer's store, and so on.—Lyne.
  • “21. Sam Smith Coal-Lumpers' Baskets Act.—This limited the capacity of the baskets carried by the coal-lumpers on their backs so that no fewer than eleven went to the ton of coal.—Lyne.
  • “22. The Old Age Pensions Act of 1900, which provides for the payment of 10s. weekly to adults of 65 years, resident in the State for 25 years prior to application and not possessed of property exceeding the value of £300, or an income exceeding £52.—Lyne.
  • “23. The Miners Accident Relief Act of 1900, which provides for allowances in cases of disablement; gives widows a funeral allowance of £12 and a weekly allowance of 8s., and 2s. 6d. for each child under 14 years of age.—Lyne
  • “24. The City Council Amending Act, which abolishes plural voting and gives the lodger a vote.—Lyne.
  • “25. The Wharves and Rocks Resumption Act.—This measure placed all the business wharves and waterside wharves of the city in the hands of the people, and also added to the common possessions a vast area of centrally situated land.—Lyne.

  •   ― 262 ―
  • “26. An Act to Amend the Early Closing Act (1900), which made it applicable to all country shopping districts proclaimed by the Governor, where the hours of closing on four days shall be six o'clock, on one day 10 o'clock, and on another (Wednesday or Saturday) one o'clock. This Act also made 8 o'clock on five nights and 10 o'clock on the remaining night the hours for newsagents and booksellers; limited the hours of assistants employed in hotels, restaurants, and eating-houses, of minors, of all bread, meat, and milk carters, and fixed certain holidays for their use.—Lyne.
  • “27. The Shearers' Accommodation Act of 1901, which makes compulsory the erection, on all stations where shearers and shed hands are hired, of buildings for their use which shall give 240 cubic feet of air space to each sleeper, which shall provide separate cooking and dining apartments, with the provision of good water and proper cooking and washing vessels, also sufficient latrine accommodation at a safe distance from the huts, with separate sleeping and eating apartments for Asiatics.—See.
  • “28. The Miners' Accident Relief Amendment Act of 1901, which brings under the provisions of the Act all works in the neighborhood of mines where owners may treat ore, coal, or shale; which provides for the selection of the committee of inspection in the proportion of one Government inspector, two miners' representatives, and one mine-owners' representative; and which makes payable to the fund by every mine-owner

      ― 263 ―
    a sum equal to one-half the aggregate of the sums deducted from the miners' wages for the support of the fund; and makes compulsory weekly payments to parents or unmarried sisters whose deceased brother supported them.—See.
  • “29. The Industrial Arbitration Act of 1901, which provided for the registration and incorporation of industrial unions and the making and enforcing of industrial agreements; constituted a court of arbitration for the hearing and determination of industrial disputes, and matters referred to it; defined the jurisdiction, powers, and procedure of such Court; provided for the enforcement of its awards and orders; and had purposes consequent on or incidental to those objects. The Act made illegal either strikes or lock-outs on the part of either employees or employers who had entered into a collective agreement; gave preference to Union labor, all things being equal; made Unionism compulsory on claimants and respondents; fined up to £1000 those who did not obey the Court's awards; and so on.—See.
  • “30. The Women's Franchise Act of 1902, which conferred on the women of New South Wales all the political rights enjoyed by men, save that of sitting in Parliament.—See.
  • “These are the legislative deeds of the Labor Party; their other doings are scarcely less important. They have not only educated Parliament and its successive leaders up to an understanding of what the people to-day demand, but have also exerted an important

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    influence in the Governmental management of all departments of State, as the following list will testify:—(1) Establishment of a Minimum Wage; (2) The Substitution of Day for Contract Labor as far as possible on Governmental works; (3) An Eight Hours Day for Railway Men; (4) A Week's Holiday Annually to the State's manual laborers as well as to its clerical workers; (5) Trade Union wages to all Government employees; (6) Preference to Unionists on all Government jobs; (7) Preference to Unionists, all things being equal, under the Arbitration Act in all employments; (8) The Abolition of the Sub-letting of Government Contracts; (9) The Establishment of a Government Clothing Factory; and so on.

“The following list includes the total of democratic measures passed by the Parliament of New South Wales prior to the advent of the Labor Party:—

  • “1. The Electoral Act of 1859—providing for manhood suffrage and vote by ballot.—Premier Cowper.
  • “2. The Goldfields Act of 1860, which placed some restrictions on aliens.—Cowper.
  • “3. The Robertson Crown Lands Alienation and Crown Lands Occupation Acts of 1861.—Cowper.
  • “4. The Chinese Immigration and Restriction Act of 1861—permitting the entry of only one Chinaman to every ten tons burden, under a penalty of £10 per capita and a poll tax of

      ― 265 ―
    £10 on each Chinaman permitted to land, with an annual payment afterwards of £4.—Cowper.
  • “5. The Public Instruction Act of 1880, which abolished State aid to denominational schools, and established a system of secular, compulsory, and partially free education.—Parkes.
  • “6. The Chinese Restriction Act of 1880, which restricted the number entering the State by any vessel and imposed a poll tax of £10 on all entrants whether by sea or land.—Parkes.
  • “7. The Chinese Restriction Act of 1888, which permitted vessels to carry only one Chinese passenger to every 300 tons, imposed a poll tax of £100 on all permitted to land, and refused them naturalisation and the right to mine without the permission of the Minister for Mines.—Parkes.
  • “8. The O'Connor Allowances to Members Act of 1889.—Parkes.”

From the above quotations from Mr. Black's pamphlet it will be seen that the interests of the masses had never been considered during the first 35 years of constitutional Government. Practically nothing was done until Labor took a hand. The thirty Acts listed by Mr. Black were passed by Governments kept in power by Labor. When Labor is put into Opposition by the coalition of the other two parties legislation of the kind ceases, and again the interests of capitalists dominate. The Income Tax is repealed, and renewal and amendment of the Arbitration Act are refused. Dominated by Labor,

  ― 266 ―
Carruthers introduced and carried a system of perpetual leasing called homestead settlement. No sooner had he got a majority behind him sufficient to make him independent of Labor support than he declared himself in favor of altering the tenure of a homestead selection to conditional purchase. Under this system experience shows that land monopoly is built up. The tone of Parliament has changed again. Everything is now being done for the rich; nothing for the poor. A close study of the two periods—that prior to 1891, and that since 1904—proves that nothing will ever be done for the welfare of the masses unless they place the Labor Party in a position to control legislation and administration.

Labor had no representation in the Legislative Council until April 11, 1899, when Messrs. N. J. Buzacott, J. Estell, J. Hepher, and James Wilson were called to that body. Messrs. Fred. Flowers and Hugh Langwell were added on June 12, 1900. On July 23, 1901, Mr. Estell resigned, and entered the Assembly; and on May 28, 1902, Mr. Langwell resigned owing to having been appointed a member of the Western Lands Commission, a position he still holds, and which he has filled with marked ability. In July, 1908, Mr. J. Travers was added to the Council, so that Labor now has five in the nominee House of New South Wales.