― 338 ―

22. Chapter XXII. South Australia.

THERE the idea was slow in development. Like a seed, it required heat to make it spring forth, and that heat was supplied by the maritime trouble. In 1874 the United Tradesmen Society was formed. In 1875 it had 16 branches, and changed its name to the Labor League of South Australia. It aimed at uniting all classes of Labor on a common platform. By 1881, however, there were only four societies left in it—the Carpenters, Tailors, Ironworkers, and the Typographical Society. The latter had about 200 members, the others about 80; so the old society died. In 1882 the Typos started a new body called the National Liberal Reform League, and it held the field for a year or two.

On January 31, 1884, the United Trades and Labor Council was formed. It took considerable interest in politics. Indeed, many of the old trade unionists thought it took too much part in it. At the election of 1887, seven out of nine candidates approved by the Council were returned to the Legislative Assembly. In 1888 G. W. Cotton was returned to the Legislative Council as a Labor member. In 1890 fourteen out of twenty favored by the Council were returned, though none could be classed as straight-out Labor men.

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It took the suffering of 1890 to wake up all hands, and so, in December of that year, the Council issued a circular to all unions and workers' clubs, asking their Executives to meet. The meeting was held in the Selborne Hotel on January 7, 1891. It was then resolved to run men for Parliament as direct representatives of Labor. A platform was drawn up, a form of pledge adopted, and later sixpence per member of affiliated societies was collected to pay expenses of candidates. In February Messrs. R. S. Guthrie, A. A. Kirkpatrick, and D. M. Charleston were selected to run for the Legislative Council. On May 9, 1891, Guthrie and Charleston were elected, and Mr. Kirkpatrick on the 16th.

This success gave encouragement, and on July 2 the Council decided to call for nominations for group selection, recommending that fifteen names be chosen from the highest on the poll. It was also decided to ask for one shilling per member from affiliated bodies per year. The voting was to be by members of the organizations affiliated. The method then adopted still obtains in South Australia. Sixty-two nominations were received. Just then Sir John Bray resigned to go to England as Agent-General, and the late Mr. J. A. McPherson was selected to run for the vacancy in the Assembly. The election took place on January 23, 1892, and the Labor nominee won by 174 votes.

The plebiscite for the fifteen took place on February 17, and it is worthy of note that the late Premier of South Australia (Mr. Tom Price) was sixteenth on the poll. By consent, his name was

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added, thus leaving sixteen to choose from when the elections came on. A vacancy occurred in the Council, owing to the death of Mr. G. W. Cotton, and Mr. W. A. Robinson was sent for it, winning by a large majority on April 15, 1892. On the same day the elections for the Assembly took place, and resulted in the return of the following Labor members:—R. Wood, J. A. McPherson, E. L. Batchelor, I. McGillivray, W. O. Archibald, F. W. Coneybeer, F. J. Hourigan, T. Price. The platform of the United Labor Party at this time will be found in the Appendix. Adams only lost by 24 votes, and in May, 1894, he was elected to the Legislative Council. Mr. McGregor won a seat for the same a few days later.

At the elections held April 25, 1896, the following Laborites were returned for the Assembly: —J. A. McPherson, East Adelaide (leader); E. L. Batchelor, West Adelaide; W. O. Archibald and I. McGillivray, Port Adelaide; F. J. Hourigan, West Torrens; F. W. Coneybeer, East Torrens; T. Price, Sturt; R. Hooper, Wallaroo; A. Poynton, Flinders; E. A. Roberts, Gladstone; W. H. Carpenter, Encounter Bay. The Party suffered a great loss by the death of the leader, Mr. McPherson, and Mr. J. Hutchison took his seat January 21, 1898. Mr. R. S. Guthrie had been elected to the Council on May 22, 1897, so that at this time the party numbered fifteen in the two Houses D. M. Charleston left the Party in 1897, and R. Wood was expelled in the same year for disloyalty.

The next Assembly elections took place on April 29, 1899, and the following Labor members were

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returned:—J. Hutchison, East Adelaide; E. L. Batchelor, West Adelaide; I. McGillivray and W. C. Archibald, Port Adelaide; F. J. Hourigan, West Torrens; F. W. Coneybeer, East Torens; T. Price, Sturt; W. H. Carpenter, Encounter Bay; R. Hooper, Wallaroo; E. A. Roberts, Gladstone; A. Poynton, Flinders. In 1900 Mr. W. A. Robinson lost his seat in the Council, but Mr. A. A. Kirkpatrick won in the same contest and for the same district. He had been defeated in 1897 when seeking re-election.

The Government, led by the late Right Honorable C. C. Kingston, and which had held office for over five years, resigned on November 29, 1899. Mr. Solomon formed a Ministry, in which Mr. A. Poynton accepted office without the consent of his party. This Government only lasted a week, and resigned on December 7. The party lost Messrs. Poynton and Roberts over this change. Roberts voted first to put Kingston out and Solomon in, and a few days afterwards voted to put Solomon out. Hooper drifted away from the Party also during this Parliament, leaving them three less than at first.

Mr. Holder then formed a Ministry, and by consent of the Party Mr. E. L. Batchelor, who had taken Mr. McPherson's place as leader, took office as Minister of Education and Agriculture. Mr. Tom Price was elected leader in place of Mr. Batchelor. On the coming of Federation, changes took place. Mr. Holder resigned May 1, 1901, and Mr. Jenkins took office on the 15th. The Constitution was amended in 1901, and the State divided into four districts for the Legislative Council returning 18

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members, and twelve electorates for the Assembly returning 40 members, and two for the Northern Territory—making 42. Mr. McGregor resigned his seat in the Council and went to the Commonwealth Senate.

The elections under the new Act took place on May 3, 1902, and Labor did rather badly. Messrs. Kirkpatrick and Guthrie were returned for the Council, and five were elected for the Assembly:—I. McGillivray and W. O. Archibald for Port Adelaide; F. W. Coneybeer and T. Price, Torrens; J. Verran, for Wallaroo. In December, 1903, Mr. R. S. Guthrie was elected to the Commonwealth Senate, leaving only one Labor member in the Council.

The turn of the tide came in 1905. The Jenkins Government had reconstructed twice, and on March 1, 1905, the Butler Government came in. The elections were held on May 27, and Labor scored a signal victory, returning fifteen to the Assembly as follows:—Adelaide, Messrs. W. D. Ponder, E. A. Roberts, and J. Z. Sellar; Port Adelaide, W. O. Archibald, I. McGillivray, and H. Chesson; Victoria and Albert, W. Senior; Wallaroo, J. Verran. A. E. Winter; Stanley, C. Goode; Torrens, F. W. Coneybeer, T. Price, C. Vaughan, T. H. Smeaton, G. C. A. M. P. Dankel. The Labor strength, united with that of the old Liberal party under Mr. Peake, formed a good working majority.

The House met on Thursday, July 20, 1905. After the election of Speaker and other formalities had been completed, Mr. Price moved—“That the

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House do now adjourn.” This was carried by 24 to 17. When the House met on the following Tuesday, Mr. Price wanted to know what the Government intended doing. Mr. Butler declined to do anything unless on a direct challenge, so Mr. Price again took the business out of their hands by moving the adjournment, which was also carried by 24 to 17. The Ministry resigned, and Mr. Price announced his team on the 26th as follows:—Premier, Minister for Public Works and Education, Mr. T. Price; Chief Secretary and Minister for Industry, Mr. A. A. Kirkpatrick, M.L.C.; Treasurer and Attorney-General, Mr. A. H. Peake; Commissioner of Lands, Immigration, Agriculture, and Northern Territory, Mr. L. O'Loghlin.

Like every other Australian State, South Australia is cursed with a Second Chamber, which takes every opportunity to thwart the will of the people. The Legislative Council was elected by a property vote, and it steadily held to the conviction that its business was not to study the welfare of the people generally, but that its particular mission was to see that every advantage was secured to the few whom it was elected by. Every attempt to broaden the franchise had been resisted. Mr. Kirkpatrick had brought in a Bill in 1894. Later, Mr. Grainger had a try. The Government of the day brought in a measure in 1895, and again in 1896. In 1897 two bills had been brought in. In 1898 Holder brought in a Household Suffrage Bill. He re-introduced the same measure in 1899. Solomon made an effort the same year.

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A Franchise Extension Bill was brought in in 1900. In 1904 the subject was revived, and the elections of 1905 had been fought on the same matter. The Labor Party favored adult suffrage, but their allies, the Liberals, would not go so far, and favored a £15 franchise. The elections proved that 119.204 electors favored adult suffrage, and 31,612 a £15 franchise, while 14,126 voted for candidates favoring £20 as a basis. But as one Labor man (Coneybeer) had received 12,543 votes, it was clear that the people wanted reform. There were 187,645 on the Assembly rolls, but only 52,000 on those of the Council. The State was therefore not governed by its people, even though they have adult suffrage, but was really governed by a clique of capitalistic property owners.

In spite of being hampered by the timid Liberals, Premier Price entered into the fight for reform of the Council with vigor. Fourteen bills had been dealt with in twelve years, and not one step had been gained. The Tory Council cared for nothing but the interest of the rich, and were like adamant to every appeal. Mr. Price sent up a bill in 1905. It was rejected. He sent up another in 1906, only to meet with the same fate. He then appealed to the country, and the country was with him, as the returns of the election which was held on November 3, 1906, show. In the metropolitan group Labor swept the poll. The result was:—Adelaide, W. J. Denny, W. D. Ponder, E. A. Roberts, J. Z. Sellar; Port Adelaide, W. O. Archibald, I. McGillivray, H. Chesson; Torrens, F. W. Coneybeer, T. Price, C.

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Vaughan, T. H. Smeaton, G. C. A. M. P. Dankel; Victoria and Albert, W. Senior, D. Campbell; Wallaroo, J. Verran, A. E. Winter; Stanley, C. Goode, H. Jackson; Burra Burra, J. Newland. This gave nineteen in the Assembly.

Photograph facing p.344. J.VERRAN, M.L.A., Leader of South Australian Labor Party.

On October 20, 1906, Mr. D. Jelly had won a seat in the Council, and Mr. J. P. Wilson secured one at the general elections, which raised the party's strength to four in that hotbed of Conservatism. Mr. Sellar died, and Mr. R. P. Blundell took his place on January 26, 1907. Owing to the death of Mr. Jelley, Mr. F. S. Wallis was elected to the Council on March 2 of the same year. Mr. Roberts resigned and was elected to the Commonwealth Parliament for Adelaide in place of the late Mr. Kingston. Mr. E. A. Anstey secured his seat in the Assembly on June 20, 1908. In December, Mr. Crush was elected for the Northern Territory, thus raising the strength of the party in the Assembly to 20 in a House of 42.

Mr. Price lost no time in trying the temper of the Upper House again, but found them just as stubborn as ever. His colleagues, the Liberals, would not go to the country again, and so, after all the struggle and fighting, a compromise was accepted fixing the right to a Legislative Council vote on a £17 franchise. The experience of South Australia is that of all the States, and only proves that no party outside that of Labor has the courage to tackle the reform of the obstructive Upper Houses with any degree of sincerity. The crusted Tories in those Chambers are quite aware of this fact, hence they

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hold on to power. When Labor secures a majority it will go for the only true reform, namely, sweep them out of existence as an unnecessary and harmful excrescence.

How coalition hampers a party is illustrated by a recent incident. In November, 1908, Mr. Verran, leader of the Labor Party, brought forward a motion in favor of adult suffrage for the Legislative Council. The division showed the Premier in favor and his colleagues of the Liberals against. On a motion against selling any more land, O'Loghlin, the Minister for Lands, voted against the motion, the Premier and Treasurer for it. It was a ridiculous position for nine men to control a Government. Labor had twenty and Peake nine, and the Labor twenty had to give way to the nine.

Unfortunately, Tom Price has been lost to the Labor Movement and to Australia. He died on June 1, 1909—another victim to the perils of industrial life and to the strenuous career of an earnest Labor Leader. His death at the comparatively early age of 57 was due to lung injury resulting from his trade as a stone-cutter. He helped to build the Parliament House in which he figured so ably as Labor Leader and Premier. His last message was:

“Tell the boys to take courage. You will have your ups and downs, but the Labor cause is the cause of humanity—is the just cause, and must eventually win.”

During Mr. Price's prolonged illness Mr. Kirkpatrick was Acting-Premier, but when the

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latter became Agent-General in London Mr. Peake took the position. Kirkpatrick's seat in the Legislative Council was lost at the by-election. On the death of Price Mr. Peake was sent for, but, instead of keeping to the understanding and allowing Labor the Premiership, he jumped the position, formed a Ministry of his own, and coalesced with the Conservative Opposition. On being challenged when the House met, he won by one vote.

Mr. T. Ryan secured the late Premier's seat for Torrens, and thus kept up the Labor strength. It will prove a good thing for Labor that the weak-kneed Liberals went over, as it will make the fight in future a straight-out one.

Tom Price had put up a big fight at the election which brought in his Government, and, needing rest, he accepted the offer of a friend who owned a cottage on Mount Lofty, which is the fashionable summer residence of the rich. George Reid's terrible bogey of Socialism had been the topic in the elections. Mr. Price took possession of the cottage quietly, and in the evening went to the local store for household supplies. The storekeeper knew him and nodded, but was too busy to attend to him for a few minutes. Whilst making up the order, he remarked:

“I have been much puzzled by the fact that there has been such a run on locks and bolts that I sold out, and had to send for a supply. I could not make it out, but I can see now how it is. It's because the leader of the Socialists has come up here to live.”

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As a brief outline of what the Party has accomplished in South Australia I quote the following from a leaflet issued in 1905:—


1. Adult Suffrage, 1894.

2. Affiliation Law, 1898.

3. Children's Protection, 1898-9, 1904.

4. Colored Alien Immigration Restriction, 1891, 1896 (latter was reserved for assent, and shelved by British Government).

5. Consolidated Stock and Sinking Fund, 1896.

6. Constitution Amendment, 1901.

7. Electoral Code, 1896.

8. Free Education, 1891.

9. Health Act, 1898.

10. Land Values Assessment (Part XIX.), 1893-4, 1900.

11. Married Women's Protection and Property Acts, 1896 and 1898.

12. Money Lenders Act, 1903.

13. Probate and Succession Duties, 1891-3.

14. Progressive Land Values and Absentee Taxes, 1894.

15. Village Settlements, 1893, 1895, 1901.


1. Conciliation, 1894 (largely inoperative owing to absence of compulsory clauses).

2. Early Closing, 1900, 1901, 1903.

3. Factories Acts, 1894, 1900, 1904.

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4. Liens Acts, 1893, 1896.

5. Railway Appeal Board, 1903.

6. Wages Attachment, 1898.

7. Workmen's Compensation, 1900, 1904.


1. Agricultural Holdings, 1891 (compensation to tenant farmers for improvements).

2. Closer Settlement (land repurchase), 1897, 1901, 1902.

3. Crown Lands (known as Reduction of Rents Act), 1898.

4. Butter Bonus, 1893.

5. Exchange of Lands and Reduction of Rents, 1894.

6. Fertilisers, 1894, 1898, 1900, 1903.

7. Pastoral Lands, 1898.

8. Seed Wheat Acts (6).

9. State Bank, 1895-6-7, 1901.

10. State Export Department, 1893.

11. Taxation Act Amendment, 1900 (reassessment of taxable values following reduction in rent or purchase-money).

12. Various amendments of Mining Acts, all tending to greater liberality and assisting legitimate mining on private and public lands.

13. Vermin and Vermin-Proof Fencing Acts (7).

14. Working Men's Blocks and Loans to Blockers (under different Homestead, Blockers, Loans to Blockers, Crown Lands, and Closer Settlement Acts).

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Thus, instead of the country being ruined by the Labor Party under a Labor Premier it has prospered, and no Premier has ever been more popular. He was a tiger for work. He passed twenty-nine bills into law in the 1907 session, and twenty-four others were put partly through. Tom Price had also successfully dealt with some big things. The contractors for the outer harbor were in a muddled state with their work, and had not complied with the terms of their contract, hence the Government decided upon taking it over. The lawyers thought they saw a chance of big fees, but Price sent for the contractors, made an offer conditional upon there being no litigation, and in a few minutes fixed matters up in a highly satisfactory manner. He did the same in the purchase of the tramways, where, by promptitude and quick decision, he secured everything wanted for £20,000 less than had been claimed. The question of disputed territory between Victoria and South Australia, which has hung up for years, was quickly settled by him. He proved to be the most energetic Premier the State has had, and the rich Anti-Socialists soon discovered that the Socialist Premier was not only a safe neighbor, but could be trusted with big business affairs.