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28. Chapter XXVIII. Socialistic Enterprises.

FORTUNATELY for Australia, Governments realised at an early stage that it was wise to have the ownership and control of such business undertakings as railways and posts and telegraphs vested in the people. The cost of the first railway lines was enormous, owing to having them done under contract. One line in Victoria cost £47,790 per mile, and one in New South Wales £29,420 per mile. In both States they are now being constructed for less than £2000 per mile on the average in country not too rough. Several lines averaged about £1200 per mile. In the Commonwealth there are 14,189 miles of State-owned railways open. The cost totals £137,196,168. This covers all equipment. They employ 47,325 persons. In spite of the high rate of interest on the older loans, and the outrageous profits of contractors on their construction, they return a net percentage of 4.35.

Owing to the absence of water carriage inland, railways are a necessity in order to open up the country. When a Socialist Government takes office they will be run practically free. Hitherto they have been run in the interest mainly of big cities. In Victoria and in New South Wales every effort is made to draw everything to the capitals. Nearly half the population of the State in each case is found in the metropolitan area. They are there


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because of the people who pioneer, open up, and work the out-back country. If the country interests flourish the metropolitan cannot help going ahead. Up to date this fact has not dawned upon any political party outside Labor. The man in the country has to pay freights on what he sells and what he buys, interest on cost of construction, and the whole cost of running the lines, whilst the city dweller goes scot free. The country worker also has to pay part of the rents going to city landlords and the travelling expenses of the commercial traveller who goes round as agent for big warehouses, trying to induce him to buy what he does not want.

What is needed is a commencement by way of an advance of a certain amount from the general revenue, and a corresponding reduction in freights and fares; increase the sum steadily year after year, and make it good by a tax on unimproved land values; continue this until the railways have the same relationship to the people as the lifts to a big hotel or warehouse, viz., a part of the running cost. The effect would be to reduce rents, to stop the growth of land monopoly, to equalise land values, and to place the producer who lives far back in a position of almost equal advantage with the man nearer the market. As it is, the railways have to come to the help of the farmer and grazier in times of drought by carrying his starving stock at a loss, and they have often carried water over 100 miles and supplied a large community at very much below cost.




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With more efficient management in the direction of the supply of material the cost of running could be lessened. With a State-owned coalmine the railways of New South Wales could save over £30,000 per annum which they now pay to a coal combine. Coalmines could be got on every main line in that State. The Labor Premier of South Australia was alive to this advantage, and took steps to secure a coalmine in New South Wales, and if the shipping ring overcharges for carriage of the coal no doubt State-owned ships will be put on.

The advantages of State-owned and controlled business undertakings have never been fairly stated by old-school politicians. They are so strongly in favor of everything being left to private enterprise that they try carefully to hide the facts regarding Australian experience in things publicly owned. Under capitalistic Governments it was inevitable that the administration should be unsympathetic, and that consequently the results have not been equal to what they would be under more interested and efficient control. Profits have not been shown as plainly as they ought to have been. For one thing, the Treasurer of the day did not want to encourage any further extension of the Socialistic movement; and, for another, he desired to quietly grab all sources of revenue in order to make out a good case for his financing.

The Auditor-General of New South Wales, in his report for the year ending June, 1908, points out the necessity for separating the records of


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business undertakings from those of administration. Taking four of the large undertakings run by the State, namely, railways and tramways, Sydney Harbor Trust, Metropolitan Water and Sewerage, and Hunter District Water Supply and Sewerage, he shows that the net profits for the past seven years total £1,690,044. Instead of giving this back in improved services or lowered rates, the Government quietly put it into the revenue account. The Auditor-General (Mr. Vernon) very properly says:

“The fact cannot be too often emphasised that these services were not established to yield profits above working expenses and charges for interest on loan capital and depreciation, hence the large excess credit of £1,690,044 should not be treated as a pure and final credit to the revenue—that is to say, these moneys should not be regarded as applicable year in and year out to expenditure on ordinary administrative functions.…To take the business establishment in the first instance, here we have a series of flourishing enterprises which, in the hands of any private company working on true business lines and for profit, would return a sum largely in excess of the present revenue, which is rated very largely from the point of view of the State's or public benefit; and such being the case, the business undertakings may be taken as more than providing for themselves or their financial requirements, with a wide margin of safety as regards rating power. The business


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undertakings are thus of no burden whatever to the State, and £67,000,000 of the State's public debt is wiped out by the value of the works upon which the money was spent. Not only so, but upon proper adjustments being made—that is, the removal of charges for interest now paid on account of States, etc.— it is found that over and above their own liabilities the business undertakings returned a sum of £75,874 in excess of the annual interest charge on the remaining loan liabilities of the State, viz., £13,476,096, upon which the interest at the average rate now paid (3.64 per cent.) would amount to £490,530. It is thus plainly to be seen that during the year 1906–7 the business undertakings not only squared their own liabilities, but also relieved the State of any burden on account of loan liabilities.”

There are only 1068 miles of privately owned railways in Australia, only 615 miles being open for traffic by the public. Their charges are in most cases double, and in many places treble, those of the State-owned, both in fares and freights. They give no concessions in time of drought. In tramways there are 585 miles, of which 174 miles are owned by Government, 222 by municipalities, and 188 privately. The net earnings on the Government trams for 1907 were 4.92 per cent. The charges on the privately owned are much higher than on those controlled by the State, and with one exception the service under private enterprise is very much inferior.




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The city of Adelaide had the first trams in Australia. They were horse traction, and owned by private enterprise. As is usual with those having a monopoly, the service got worse as the vehicles became worn and shaky and the poor horses got older and slower. Labor Premier Tom Price was not long in office before with quick business acumen he secured the ownership of the whole concern for the public, and an up-to-date electric tram service has been the result.

New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and West Australia have each magnificent workshops for the manufacture and repair of rolling stock. The buildings cover a very large area, and the machinery is the very best in every department. The works at Newport, Victoria, turn out all sorts of castings in iron, steel, and brass. During 1907 they were turning out castings at the rate of 250 tons per month. The huge forge turned out 2538 axles during 1907. For a number of years the railway engines had been made by the Phoenix Foundry Company at Ballarat. Extra prices were deliberately given at first to enable the company to put in the necessary plant.

The Phoenix Foundry Company started in 1870. Prior to the introduction of the engines known as the D.D. class they had made 344 locomotives for the Victorian railways at a cost of £1,263,568; including seven D.D. engines, 351 for £1,293,834. From March, 1873, to December, 1893, the average cost per ton was £84 1s., from July, 1899, to October, 1903, £76 10s. 10d.; and for the new engines


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of D.D. class, £67 2s. per ton. Owing to the pressure of the Socialistic agitation of Labor, the manager of Newport Workshops was asked to tender against all others for thirty-nine engines of the D.D. class. When the tenders were received the prices put in were as follows:—Australian Otis Co., £5036 per engine, or £76 13s. per ton; Phoenix Foundry Co., £5020 per engine, or £76 8s. per ton; Newport Workshops, £3792, or £58 per ton.

Private enterprise took alarm at this, and moved heaven and earth to try to prove that the manager of the Government Workshops did not know his business, and had not allowed for everything. Parliament appointed a Royal Commission to investigate. The Commission made an exhaustive examination, heard all that private enterprise had to say, and finally reported that the cost could be reduced still more by the Newport shops. In the meantime, the Phoenix Foundry Co. cut its price down by £8 per ton, and eventually the Government gave it a few engines to make— more for the sake of the workmen than for anything else. The Commission estimated that the Newport shops would construct the thirty-nine engines for £1186 per engine under the Australian Otis firm, and £1173 per engine under the Phoenix Co.—a total saving of £46,254 in the first case, and £45,747 in the other, as against private enterprise.

Taking the actual experience since, the cost has proved to be much less. The average of the last series of thirteen came out at £2119 per engine less than the best tender of private enterprise for


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the thirty-nine. The cost for the thirty-nine at the present rate is £82,641 less than under private enterprise. This saving the Railway Commissioner has given to the people who use the railways, and yet the majority of the farmers oppose Socialism which gives them this advantage. Fifty-six locomotives have been made in the workshops since 1903. Careful records of the cost have been kept, and after allowing for everything the result has been as follows:—

         
Average Cost per Engine.  Average Cost per Ton. 
First series of 10....  £3364  £52 4 0 
Second series of 10..  £3048  £47 11 0 
Third series of 10...  £2857  £43 15 0 
Fourth series of 13..  £2901  £44 7 10 

An increase in the price of metals accounts for the increased cost of the last series. These were all engines of the D.D. type. They have also built very large engines for the express passenger trains. The great advantage to the patrons of the railway by the saving in the cost of rolling stock is seen by the fact of the Commissioner having reduced fares and freights by £114,000 per annum. Recently a magnificent dining-room for the use of the workmen has been erected, where first class meals are well served at a very low rate. The dining rooms are under the control of the men themselves.

New South Wales has every facility for turning out the whole of the rolling stock required at much lower cost than private firms can do it, but has not been allowed to do so. It is paying over £80


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per ton for the same engine that Newport turns out at £44. The Government follows the old idea of putting as much as it can in the way of its friends at the expense of the taxpayer, hence only a portion of the work has been done at the workshops. Long ago it was proved that six Pullman cars could be made locally for a sum no greater than would be paid for four imported cars. The sleeping cars now designed and constructed in the Eveleigh workshops, N.S.W., and Newport, Vic., are much superior to the Pullman from every point of view.

South Australia, in addition to its railway workshops, has a Government pipe foundry at Granville. It employs 429 men and 93 boys. It has proved very successful. It carried out one contract for £11,332 less than the lowest tender in opposition. Private enterprise has already discovered that it has no chance of successfully competing, as it is conducted for profit only, whilst the other is serving the public at cost. Twenty-five municipalities own their gasworks in New South Wales, and six, including the city of Sydney, have their own electric light. Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works controls the water supply and sewerage of twenty cities, towns, and boroughs, and four shires. These serve a population of 513,000. The board is a State department. It made a profit on sheep at the Werribee sewerage farm of £11,948 last year. Adelaide sewerage farm netted £989 16s. 10d., or 4.002 per cent.

All the States do much for the farmer. South Australia was the first to start. In 1879 it set up


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a school of agriculture. It has an agricultural college and three State farms. Lectures are given in country districts. Victoria has two agricultural colleges and five farms. Experts travel and lecture also. Queensland has a central college at Gatton and six experimental farms. A dairy expert travels. New South Wales has a fine agricultural college and farm at Hawkesbury, and twelve experimental farms in different parts of the State. West Australia has three State experimental farms, and does much in other respects to help men to qualify as agricultural workers.

South Australia is the most advanced in regard to export arrangements, and has an export department which handles perishable produce and frozen foods. It arranges for space on the steamships, takes delivery of fruit, etc., at any railway station, and sends it to the world's market. This is done at bare cost—really for one-half the sum paid by Tasmanians to a private firm for similar work. Fruit, eggs, poultry, and lambs, are all handled in this way. The new killing yards and freezing works at Port Adelaide can treat 8000 lambs per day, and have cold storage for 200,000 carcases. Under the poultry expert and export department, an inter-State trade of £120,210 was done in 1907, in addition to £2000 worth sent to England. An order for 5000 eggs had even been filled for New Zealand, and no less than 36,487 dozen placed in cool storage. Poultry was exported to the value of £20,000. Recently the department has taken over the handling of the farmers' grain


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in the same way. It takes delivery at the railway station, and sends direct to the market in the old world, saving all middlemen's charges.

An illustration of how the producers are at the mercy of the middlemen occurred in Sydney in March, 1904. The Sydney Wool Buyers' Association and the wool-selling brokers have a rule of their organization which reads as follows:—“Cataloguing wool more than twice, penalty £50. No lot or portion thereof shall be offered at auction more than twice. Once a lot of wool has been shown and catalogued by one broker and unsold, such unsold wool or any portion thereof shall not go to another broker for public or private sale. To guard against any lot of wool being offered more than twice, when wool is received into the store the brand must not be altered or tampered with. The full brand must be always given on catalogues, also on invoices and specifications.” The firm of John Bridge and Co. had dared to infringe this rule, and was not only fined £50 but suffered a boycott by the buyers until it fell into line with the others. These are the people who denounce Labor for objecting to work with non-unionists.

In South Australia private enterprise was robbing the dairy farmer of the value of much of his cream, and so in September, 1906, the Government started a butter factory, which is now turning out four tons per week, and is proving so successful that another £75,000 is being expended in extensions. The export department takes the butter direct from the factory and ships it to England for sale. Not only are the middleman's


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charges saved and put into the producer's pockets, but there is a guarantee that the quality is first-class, and higher prices are thus secured, while a constantly widening market is obtained owing to the confidence there is in the State brand.

Contrast these Socialist methods with the Government-aided private-enterprise methods of Victoria, where in 1889-90 £230,000 was set aside in bonuses for agriculture, dairying, fruit, and wine industries. For want of a Government export department a couple of private firms swindled the dairy farmers and butter-makers out of nearly one-half their share of this. Two firms and one company, by means of secret rebates from shipping companies, did all the handling, and got hold of £52,447 of the bonus. These firms stuck at nothing which would bring profit. They got hold of the Government stamp and put it on inferior butter. They swindled the poor Tommies who were in the field at the Boer war by supplying tins containing only fourteen ounces when they were being paid for sixteen. South Australian methods leave no chance for this kind of thing, and it is no wonder that with what is, on the whole, inferior country the South Australian farmer is doing better than the Victorian. He does not allow the term Socialism to frighten him, but looks at any proposal from a common-sense point of view, and merely asks if it will prove advantageous.

Since the starting of the South Australian export department thirteen years ago, land within the Goyder line of rainfall has increased in value


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by £1 per acre, owing to the facilities provided by the Government for the export of lamb and mutton. The State abattoirs utilise all by-products in a scientific way. The various works under the department, when additions now being made are finished, will have cost £170,000. The loss since starting totals £6016. Last year's profit, after allowing for everything, came to £1753 13s. 9d.— £1626 11s. 3d. on the freezing works, and £127 2s. 6d. on the butter factory. About £20,000 was paid for cream to the 775 suppliers, and £500 was distributed in bonus. The average price—local, inter-State, and English—secured for all grades of butter was 11¾d. per pound, and producers received this. No canvassers or middlemen come into the transaction, as the bonus draws trade and is paid on the percentage of cream supplied. The whole business is run on co-operative lines. The Export Department sold last year the following:—Lamb and mutton, 276,119 carcases; wine, 55,618 gallons; fruit, 153,904 cases; eggs, 51,943 dozen; honey, 95,468 pound; oranges, 1645 cases; and lemons, 400 cases; in addition to poultry as before stated. Altogether the total value exported came to £282,817 4s. 3d.

Most of the States have Commercial Agents abroad looking up markets for Australian products. All the States, except Tasmania, have some system of assisting the man on the land financially. South Australia has a State Bank, which made a profit last year of £3797 14s. 9d. West Australia has an Agricultural Bank, and Victoria a Credit Foncier. The sum of £1,601,637 was advanced last year to


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help men on the land. Altogether, a total of £5,377,307 has been advanced, and the balance due at the end of 1907 was £2,702,816. The profits, exclusive of New South Wales, amounted to £14,772. In many other ways much is done. The New South Wales Government recently imported £40,339 worth of wire netting, which is supplied to farmers on deferred payments. When private enterprise was going to rob the South Australian farmers by exorbitant prices for wire netting, the Government came to their aid and secured the article at a very much reduced rate. Some millions of money have been spent on water conservation and in boring for artesian supplies.

Only two of the States—West Australia and Queensland—give facilities for new men to take up land. The States of New South Wales and Victoria have so far done more to build up big estates and help the growth of land monopoly than to settle upon the land men who will stay there and work it to advantage. New South Wales has immense unpeopled areas of good land, but fails to make it available. For every block thrown open there are hundreds of applicants. Some are no doubt speculators, but there are more bona-fide applicants than can get a chance to make a home for themselves and help to develop the country.

During the period from 1889 to 1903 inclusive, New South Wales Government supplied seed wheat to farmers at a cost of £126,726. There is a balance owing of £31,670. It was a very badly managed affair, as in many cases auctioneers and agents instead of the poor farmer got hold of the wheat


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and sold it at a big profit. For educational purposes, in addition to the lectures by experts, the Government departments in several of the States issue a monthly magazine of high value to the man on the land.

Considerable amounts have been spent in mining development, though much money has been wasted. In New South Wales £388,702 has been spent in prospecting. Only £1610 has been repaid. In Victoria £13,124 has been spent on diamond-drill boring for leads; £271,022 has been spent out of loan money on mining enterprise, which included £27,839 advances to miners for prospecting, and £125,669 to mining companies to help in development. We cannot class this as Socialistic enterprise. It is rather too much in keeping with the policy which has proved so ruinous to Australia, viz., using the taxpayers' money to help private individuals.

Take, for instance, the fact that the Victorian Government paid £11,302 to the Railway Department to carry the coal of a private company at a cheap rate, thus enabling the company to put dividends in its shareholders' pockets to that amount. In the same way £25,000 was paid to the department to make good the carriage of farm produce at losing rates. This was for last year only. If we take the last five years we find that £31,623 has gone to coalmining companies in that way, and £167,588 to Victorian farmers. It would take pages to detail the many amounts of this kind which have been taken out of the pockets of the taxpayer and


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diverted into those of a class. They have various names, such as loans, advances, and bonus.

In every other State capitalistic Governments have similarly abused their power and bolstered up private enterprise at the expense of the taxpayers. One of the most glaring cases occurred in West Australia under Sir John Forrest. The Collie coal field, the only coal field on the west coast of Australia, was discovered by prospectors in the employ of the Forrest Government. This mine was opened out, and the value of the coal proved by the Government, which paid the miners for the coal produced. A tunnel was driven, and everything put in working order. A railway was also built by the Government, and altogether about £50,000 was laid out, after which the whole concern was quietly handed over to a private company of capitalistic sharks. The Government purchased coal from this company, paying as high as 13s. 6d. per ton, loaded into trucks at the mine, whereas better coal in New South Wales cost less than five shillings at the mine.

Thus the Government first used public money to find and open up a coal field—which the State sadly needed—and then not only gave the result of that expenditure to a private syndicate, but placed it in a position to levy blackmail permanently upon the people who use the railways. Whatever were the inducements offered the Government, they were kept secret; but it is a striking example of the methods of Government adopted by Anti-Socialists. Labor would have retained that mine for the good


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of the whole community and supplied the railways at cost of production, and the people would have had a continuous dividend in the shape of reduced freights and fares.

Another glaring case in West Australia was the sale of the Government smelting plant at Ravensthorpe. The plant was erected by the Government at a cost of £18,000 for the use of the miners. To make it a success it needed a railway, but in spite of petitions from the miners this was refused. The Government then sold the whole plant to a Mr. Kauffman for £5000, and that gentleman obtained £5000 worth of metal from the slag which was on the ground. He applied for a railway from Hopetoun, and the present Government at once agreed to build it for him. Thus he has a free gift of the smelters, which cost the taxpayers £18,000, and a railway to enable him to make still more profit by exploiting the fool public.

West Australia has successfully managed Government ironworks in Fremantle. They turn out work at considerably less than private enterprise. From July to December, 1907, pipes to the value of £21,763 were turned out by the Government works, whilst private firms made £30,817 worth. A deputation recently asked the Premier to close up the works and leave all to private enterprise, but he refused, and said that the Government intended to keep the departmental works going as a check on private enterprise. Experience had shown that without this check they would have to pay exorbitant prices for their requirements.




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The influence of Labor was sufficiently strong in Commonwealth affairs to ensure that our first national effort in shipbuilding was carried out in State dockyards. The Commonwealth decided to conduct a series of experiments in deep-sea fishing off the Australian coast, and for this purpose needed a steam trawler constructed on the most up-to-date lines and with all the latest improvements. The management of the State-owned Fitzroy Dock, Cockatoo Island, N.S.W., took on the contract for £14,445. This covered everything except the winches, which cost £750 extra. The keel was laid on June 1st, and the boat was launched on 27th August, 1908. She is 135 feet long, and 23ft. 6in. beam, with 12ft. depth. She has 450-horse-power triple expansion engines, and can travel over 10 knots per hour. She can steam 4000 miles without coaling. The trawler section weighs ten tons, and is one of the biggest in the world. The boat has been named the “Endeavor.”

From time to time the cry for village settlements has been raised, and a good deal has been done in that way, the most successful being in South Australia. Many a working man has been enabled to secure a home in the suburbs under this provision. In Victoria land has been purchased by the State and cut up into residential blocks, and persons settled thereon. The Closer Settlement Board in Victoria is limited to an expenditure of £500,000 per annum for five years. It can purchase land and cut it up into farms not to exceed £1500 in value, agricultural laborers' blocks not to exceed £200, and workmen's allotments not to be over £100 in value.


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By the end of 1907 it had purchased 40 estates, totalling 207,788 acres and costing £1,458,645—an average of £7 1s. per acre. It has made available 1216 holdings, upon which there is a residential population of 3772. These represent holdings totalling 164,561 acres of a capital value of £1,240,135. This gives an average of £1020 per holding. The work of the board can hardly be called a success, as owing to the absence of a land tax the price of the land is too high. Many of the lessees have been unable to pay up their instalments, and have asked for payment of their second, third, and fourth instalments to be deferred, and have paid the fine imposed in such cases. A land tax and compulsory purchase are required.

The experience in New South Wales is similar, although it has more land. Under a better Government—and consequently superior management—the principle will prove a success, but so far the State invariably gets the worst of the deal in purchasing land for any purpose, and it must do so until a good progressive land-value tax knocks out the gambler's speculative value, and brings the price down to real use value.

Of other works the Sydney Water Supply gives a return of £3 17s. per cent. on a capital value of £9,062,000. The Harbor Trust, Sydney, has a return of £4 12s. per cent. on a capital value of £5,145,000. The capital cost of Socialistic enterprises under the State in New South Wales was £63,480,000, and the net return £4 16s. 7d. per cent. A big and successful enterprise was carried out in West Australia by the Government in the shape of a goldfields water


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supply scheme costing nearly £3,000,000, which carries water 351 miles and raises it 1200 feet on the way by pumping. Melbourne Harbor Trust made a profit last year of £60,412 on an expenditure of £99,252.

The Geelong Harbor Trust carries out a State farm upon which are successfully settled a large number of people. In their report for the year ended December, 1907, the Commissioners say:—

“The lands controlled by the Commissioners, which for the most part were waste areas, merely bringing in nominal rentals, or being used by various local authorities as commons, and yielding little or no surplus above maintenance charges, have been put to more profitable purposes, and will eventually prove a source of assured income, sufficient, it is confidently hoped, to meet all future financial obligations of the Trust and make a substantial contribution towards harbor developments, whilst demonstrating in no unmistakable way the possibilities of scientific agriculture along right lines.”

The Commissioners only began this work three years ago. They have reclaimed 2000 acres of land which was level with the sea at high tide. They have also reclaimed and drained 1750 acres of Reedy Lake, which was all under water after heavy rain. Land originally used for a racecourse has been turned into an irrigation farm with up-to-date appointments. It has an area of 727 acres. They have 413 head of cattle, 20 horses, and 151 pigs. Produce from the


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dairy, etc., is sold in Melbourne and locally. It is reckoned that taxation on shipping is reduced by the profits on the scientific use of the land, and there is also the value of the object lesson to be considered.

The State Clothing Factory in New South Wales was established as the result of a deputation from the Labor Party, led by Mr. McGowen, which waited on the then Premier (the late Sir John See) on 13th September, 1901. It was urged that the clothing for the military, railway, and post-office officials should be made by the State in a factory of its own. Previously 34,523 garments had been made in the jails, and 31,500 by private enterprise firms. The cost was high, and the quality of work and material alike inferior. The Government agreed to make the experiment, and a factory was started. But little chance was given the manager, and he was limited to 21 hands. The result of the first year was a loss of £179 10s. 5d. Wages averaged 18s. 6d. per week as against 15s. 2d. (the highest) and 10s. 0½d. (the lowest) rate in representative private firms. The Public Service Board held an inquiry and recommended going on, estimating that if all the State work was given to the factory the loss would only be £693, but this would be more than made up in quality. Since then the factory has carried on successfully, and had a total output for 1908 of £31,449 15s. 11d. This included fire brigade uniforms to the value of £2552 18s. 9d., and railway and tramway £13,360 9s. 3d. Under the able management of Mr. W. J. Fallon the factory is now working up to the limit of its capacity. It is


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overloaded with work, and cannot put on another hand. There are 177 employed, and generally they are getting rather over the Arbitration Court Award rates, which apply to all private firms as well as the State factory. The Government has been forced to start the erection of new premises.

The attitude of capitalistic Governments toward State enterprise is exemplified in connection with this factory. In order to provide constant work and thus reduce expenses the management wanted to tender for outside work, but the Carruthers Government prohibited them from doing so. The Cabinet minute gives as a reason that it would interfere with private enterprise. They admit that the State factory does better work and pays better wages, yet can do work at a lower cost than private firms, but they refuse to allow the public to reap the advantages. True to their nature, they help the few to take advantage of the many.

The Sydney City Council runs a big electric plant, supplying light and power, and returning thousands of pounds per annum in profit. Melbourne City Council does the same, and clears close upon £10,000 per annum. Many of the municipalities now own baths, sale-yards, abattoirs, etc. Launceston, Tasmania, is the most advanced. It owns practically all public utilities. It has a splendid electric power and light supply produced by water power obtained by putting a tunnel through a hill and tapping a river. From the profits of their water supply they built a large hall. They have large workshops, and possess hot, cold, and swimming baths, a fine museum and art gallery, a


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zoo, and public gardens. They have a pension system for their employees, and altogether they are up-to-date. Contrast the work of Launceston aldermen with that of the boosters-up of private enterprise dominating the City Council of Hobart. These latter geniuses actually granted a private company the right to run trams in the streets in perpetuity—a monopoly for ever! Other matters are mismanaged on similar lines.

These notes would be incomplete without some reference to the “New Australia” movement. Its founder was William Lane, and the idea grew out of the village settlement proposals. The latter subject was taken up by the Trades and Labor Council of Brisbane in 1886. A public meeting was held on 13th January, 1887, at which a definite scheme was adopted. Lane later conceived the idea of a co-operative settlement on communal lines. He was then running a paper called “The Boomerang,” in conducting which he was assisted by Alf. Walker and the late Frank Barnes. Lane first tried to secure land for such a settlement in Australia. He failed to do so, as not one of the Governments would attempt to make provision. He wrote to West Australia and to South America, and received a favorable reply from the latter country with offers of land before he had an acknowledgement from West Australia of his communication. I myself tried the New South Wales Government, but all they had to say was that they had no power under the Land Act to grant the area required.




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New Australia took a large number of our best men and women, as well as a considerable sum of money, out of Australia, but we have to blame the Governments of the various colonies for it. In April, 1891, Alf. Walker went to South America, and, after arrangements had been made and land chosen in Paraguay, emigration of members of the association commenced. They purchased a sailing ship called the “Royal Tar,” which was to sail from Sydney, and those who were to go came there to await the day. The Government was suddenly awakened. Premier Dibbs, who had never troubled his head to find land for them in unpeopled New South Wales when asked for it, did everything he could to put obstacles in the way of the “Royal Tar” getting away.

The steamers carrying thousands of passengers daily past the “Royal Tar” to Manly were rotten and dangerous, but not a word was said. The “Royal Tar” was a good ship, well found, and in good order, but it was marvellous how much red tape had to be surmounted ere she was permitted to sail. After a long search an Act regulating emigration was discovered. It was the only copy in the colony, and was over fifty years old. It suited Dibbs, as he was openly trying to block the party from going. It was such a reflection on the Governments of the colonies for a batch of nearly three hundred to be leaving, so he put his weight in to stop them. Fittings had to be put in the ship, and all sorts of more or less silly requirements had to be complied with. Billy Lane put up with it all patiently, though in a tight position financially. At


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last, when all was ready, one family was ordered ashore because the medical officer sent by the Premier considered one child had a touch of measles. The “Royal Tar” sailed for New Australia on the 16th July, 1893.

I do not propose to follow the fortunes and misfortunes of those on board, but will expose still further the action of the Government which refused them land and then tried to stop them from getting away. The Australian Workers' Union had a project on foot for forming a co-operative settlement, if it could get land and could put itself on a legal footing. I waited upon the late Henry Copeland, who was then Minister for Lands in New South Wales. He professed sympathy, but pointed out difficulties. He had “no power to do it under the Act,” etc. I urged that he should alter the Act, and pointed out that bad laws drove away the New Australians, and said we were prepared to use Union funds for the development of New South Wales; but he only discovered difficulties and was not disposed to do anything that would enable us to carry out our idea, though he had a scheme for co-operative settlements under consideration.

Just about that time a syndicate had two private bills before the New South Wales Parliament. On the surface one had nothing to do with the other. Different names were given as those of the parties interested. One measure was introduced into the Legislative Council, the other in the Assembly. The Council was asked to pass a bill to permit a syndicate to construct a line of railway—or tramway, as they termed it—from Broken Hill to


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the Menindie Lakes, on the Darling River. The bill brought into the Assembly was to grant the use and control of these lakes and about 22,000 acres of land as freehold on condition that the syndicate would establish an irrigation settlement. There was a market of over 40,000 people at Broken Hill, so the idea seemed all right.

The gentleman who had charge of the scheme on behalf of the syndicate, and who had done the lobbying, sent for me when he heard of my request to the Government and submitted a proposal. Shortly stated, he was prepared to grant to our Union a large area—he had drawn a line across the plan, and when scaled we found it contained 7300 acres—upon condition that we would find the men and settle them upon it, the syndicate on its part undertaking to employ our men three days a week on its works. I said to him:

“But you will never get this measure through the House. The Government is bound to oppose it, as Lyne has an Irrigation Bill to pass.”

The engineer smiled, and quietly replied:

“It will pass all right. Why, every member of both Houses outside the Labor Party has an interest in it.”

The Labor Party had been fighting against the measure, hence his offer to me was intended to induce me to influence the Party to withdraw its opposition and enable the A.W.U. to carry out its land settlement scheme. I gave our party the information, and they amended the bill so as to stop alienation, confining the syndicate to leasing.


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Nothing ever came of the scheme, but just observe the action of the Government. Neither Lane nor I could get any concession. They would not alter the law to enable us to develop unused country and help workers to settle on it. In our schemes there were no profit-makers. At the same time a syndicate which was openly out for gain could get 22,000 acres of land and a splendid supply of water without any trouble. We were to be forced to go to the syndicate to get a piece of land at the time held by the Crown. All this is in keeping with capitalistic methods, and comes quite natural to them. It is helping their friends and giving “encouragement” to private enterprise, and therefore in their opinion quite right. Labor's plan is to get rid of the middleman and all parasites, and to secure for those who work the full result of their industry.

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