The Heritage

 

 

We reprint a Labor Party pamphlet from the late 1920’s composed by John Curtin and Frank Anstey. We publish as part of the on-going effort of the modern Australian nationalist movement to connect with its roots. In the long-ago labour movement and Labor Party, we detect the true expression of Australianism, altruism directed at our own Australian People and service to a new Nation founded upon a definable ethnic heritage.

 

 

Lo! The elders hear the sweet

Voice, and know the wondrous song:

And their ancient pulses beat

To a tune forgotten long:

And they talk in whispers low.

With a smile and with a sigh.

And the valiant days gone by.

 

-Victor Daley

 

The labour movement in its world-wide sweep is the greatest reformative and progressive agency in history. It has broadened the constitutions, liberalised the laws, modified the power of oppressors, and ameliorated the conditions of life. Its influence has permeated all the institutions of our time.

 

The heritage

 

Thirty years ago in this Commonwealth the workers' lot was hard and cheerless. Sweating was then an evil which flourished in the land; wages were low; hours of labor were tedious; equality of social place and opportunity was an unrealised ideal.

 

We were then reproducing in Australia a second Europe, with its poverty, its wretchedness, its long hours, its misery, and its industrial servitude.

 

But for the work of the Labor Movement, the sacrifices of its founders, and the incessant and undefeatable struggles of its stalwarts, Australia would have continued a preserve of privilege, and a land where would have been reproduced every sweating device and condition that has made the Old World the shame and despair of every lover of his kind. The truth of this assertion is evidenced by the history of our country.

 

The age of misery

 

In 1898 a Western Australian Labor Conference drew the attention of the Government of the day the Premier was Sir John Forrest—to the unjust conditions of labor operating in the colony. In the timber industry and on the shearing sheds the vile truck system was in operation, and whole families were obliged to live year in and year out in the same place without ever emancipating themselves from their thraldom.

 

At Karridale - a notorious sweat pen– after working continuously for months, workers found themselves actually in debt to their employers, who, by operating the store account, kept their employees in bondage: wages were not paid either weekly, or monthly, and sometimes never the helot of a worker being accounted, on finally leaving the job, as owing his master for bread and boots.

 

On the mining fields the conditions of employment were shocking. Unionism was weak and the great gold discoveries, which meant fortunes to a few, did not benefit the many.

 

The Conference had asked John Forrest that legislation providing for Compulsory Arbitration be passed. He replied "that his Government did not intend to pass any Socialistic legislation of that nature." This answer was typical of that of the Governments of all the States.

 

A leading newspaper, commenting on the disclosure, said that "outside of a few Trades Hall agitators there would be no endorsement for the regulating of wages by law." Years passed before Parliament was moved to even consider the passage of industrial reform legislation. It was not until Labor had become a force in the land that the old order of "freedom of contract" was modified and the social conditions influenced for the better by the process of law.

 

 Down to the year 1900 in every State the Parliaments took little or no cognisance of the struggles of the poor. The Governments, for the most part, were composed of men hostile to every form of working-class combination, to every extension of political liberty, and to any and every form of social amelioration. The truck system, industrial victimisation, sweating of the most grievous character, and the power of exploitation had been sustained for over a generation by capitalist Governments, supported and upheld by the whole press of Australia.

 

When unions were weak

 

In those days of the not-so-long-since the workers were mostly unorganised. Those in the bush had no combination, unity among the miners was little more than a name, while in the cities and towns shop assistants and factory operatives were not only without unions of any sort or kind, but were worked from early morn till late at night. and the half-holiday was a rarity.

 

In 1902 a witness swore before a Justice of the Supreme Court in Perth that while continuously employed by a timber company in the previous year his wages for ten months were £98/10/- while his store account (which did not include drapery, doctor or medicine, newspapers, milk, or rent) was £82/10/-. At the end of the year he was as poor as at the beginning and had worked the whole period for a bare existence. There was no 8-hour day, no workers' compensation act, no inspection of machinery, and no regulation of apprenticeship. The employers fixed the terms of employment, and those workers who would not conform to the masters' terms had to "tramp."

 

Fear’s palsy

 

Mr. J. M. Lapsley, ex-Superintendent of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, tells the story of how on his arrival in Perth he commenced work as a plumber. The other trades-men were working nine hours per day they asked for eight, but the employer was not willing to grant the alteration. A meeting was called by the workmen to consider the position, but only five of those concerned put in an appearance. Mr. Lapsley had been made secretary and called a further meeting, but so great was the fear of the men at the consequences of taking part in the proceedings that he was the only person who turned up.

 

William Smith, now living at Albany, arrived there over 30 years ago to work on a coal hulk for McIlwraith McEacharn's. The conditions were intolerable; hours were long and wages low. He asked a fellow workman if he could be told where the local secretary of the Carpenters' Union was to be found. The answer was: "If you are a unionist you had better keep it to yourself, as the employers do not give jobs to men belonging to unions."

 

Sweating was universal.

 

In the secondary industries generally, the unions consisted of merely a small minority of those actually employed. Boycotts and black lists were exercised by the employing class as deterrents to solidarity, and through-out the continent the mass of workers and their families were the helpless victims of predatory interests.

 

Butchers' assistants in the Midland-Fremantle area commenced work at daylight and did not finish until 8 o'clock at night. Married men were paid 7/- per day and the week's hours aggregated 60. Female shop assistants in the city worked from half past 8 until half past 6, and on the late night until 10 o'clock, for a week. Young girls, styled either as "improvers" or given no designation, were paid anything from 5/- to 10/- a week. Their hours were long, and the conditions, uninfluenced by any Governmental regulation, very bad.

 

One shirt manufacturer told a Board of Inquiry that 5/- or 6/- per week was "good wages for a shirt finisher." Another admitted that he paid 2/7 for making a sac suit 1/3 for coats, 8d. for trousers, 8d. for vests. Shirt makers working in their own homes "were paid 2/10 per dozen and had to pro-vide their own machines and cotton."

 

The Board reported that the working men and women in the tailoring industries "had either to accept the starvation wages or appeal to charity."

 

In Victoria about this time the Trades Hall Council launched an Anti-Sweating League. The League's investigations disclosed that in all the States there was similar social degradation. similar industrial terrorism, and similar methods of utilising governments to plunder the people in the interests of "big business."

 

Now and then

 

The contrast between those days and now is extraordinary. The young man and woman of today cannot realise its extent. In the nineties factories worked 54 hours, and in cases 60 hours a week; only in certain trades was there a half-holiday, and this often commenced at 1.30 or 2 in the afternoon; late shopping nights were universal; there was no payment for time off due to sickness or other causes; no annual holiday; and no compensation for accident or industrial disease.

 

These ameliorative changes are the work of the Labor Movement. Not one aspect of the existing fabric of industrial legislation was initiated by the employers. Then, as now, they stood for the maintenance of the existing practice.

 

It is a fact of our history that of their own volition the employers have never applied humane and progressive ideas in industry.

 

Only the power of Unionism and the compulsion of the law forced the improvements which to-day assure a reasonable standard of decency for those who work.

 

In the nineties, factories existed in which the sanitation provisions were abominable. Privacy was not ensured, and it was not until the regulation of factories by properly appointed and independent inspectors was provided for in the law that the existing services in this respect were instituted.

 

utilising governments to plunder the people in the interests of "big business."

 

Now and then

 

The contrast between those days and now is extraordinary. The young man and woman of today cannot realise its extent. In the nineties factories worked 54 hours, and in cases 60 hours a week; only in certain trades was there a half-holiday, and this often commenced at 1.30 or 2 in the afternoon; late shopping nights were universal; there was no payment for time off due to sickness or other causes; no annual holiday; and no compensation for accident or industrial disease.

 

These ameliorative changes are the work of the Labor Movement. Not one aspect of the existing fabric of industrial legislation was initiated by the employers. Then, as now, they stood for the maintenance of the existing practice.

 

It is a fact of our history that of their own volition the employers have never applied humane and progressive ideas in industry.

 

Only the power of Unionism and the compulsion of the law forced the improvements which to-day assure a reasonable standard of decency for those who work.

 

In the nineties, factories existed in which the sanitation provisions were abominable. Privacy was not ensured, and it was not until the regulation of factories by properly appointed and independent inspectors was provided for in the law that the existing services in this respect were instituted.

 

New South Wales believed in free trade, and free sweating. Inspector Burkett reported that as soon as a girl asked for wages, she was dismissed " Two hundred and fifty boxes, for packing sweets, had to he made for one penny.

 

Girls under 18 were wheeling barrows in potteries for wages running from 8/6 to 12/6 per week. All over the Commonwealth it was the practice that employees should live in the houses and buy in the stores owned by the employers, and in many industries a system of practical peonage prevailed.

 

In the unorganised areas of the pastoral industry the squatters paid only for "sheep shorn to MY satisfaction" They charged as much as 3/- for a bar of soap, and by the double process of sheep "raddling" and extortion secured shorn sheep at slave rates.

 

The dawn of the new era.

 

After nearly twenty-five years of agitation the unions commenced nominating direct representatives to Parliament. Then, and not until then, one or other of the old parties gave, as the price of Labor support, that which they had never conceded to the demands of justice and humanity. With the advent of Labor in politics the era of reform by Parliamentary enactment commenced. The men who had denounced regulation of wages and conditions by law commenced to vote for it, not because they liked it, but because the people had been stirred by Labor to insist upon reform.

 

Their insincerity reflected itself in a thousand pitfalls wherein unions and workers, believing the law gave them protection, found that all too often it was but a snare and a delusion.

 

The case of the Perth shop assistants is cited as typical of countless others. Although the Arbitration Act was passed in 1902 it was not until 1914 that the Union was able to secure an award from the Courts. And even this only became possible because in 1912 a Labor Government amended the Act so that the evasive objections of the employers could no longer avail.

 

From 1900 onwards many attempts were made to establish a union amongst the Perth shop assistants. Effort after effort failed because of the hostility of the great employers and the fear of victimisation which prevailed among the workers.

 

Finally in 1912, a union having been formed despite strong opposition, its agent appeared in May before Mr. Justice Rooth for an award. The employers were represented by Messrs. Jas. Gardiner and S. J. McGibbon. The latter gentleman offered technical objections to the case being heard, and on his motion the application was dismissed on the ground that the Act had not been complied with.

 

Steps having been taken to correct this disability, a second case was heard by Mr. Justice Burnside in August. Once again the employers, who feared the disclosures of sweating which would be adduced, opposed the case being heard ; their agent (Mr. S. J. McGibbon) said that shopkeeping was not an industry within the meaning of the Act, and that the registration of the Union was illegal. The Court upheld the employers' objection and once again shop assistants were denied the protection of the law, denied an inquiry into the unjust conditions of their work, and denied legal redress for their grievances.

 

The men who thus withheld the benefits of arbitration from their workers were then, as they are now, the chief political protagonists of the party of anti-Labor.

 

Labor, the lawmaker

 

The deficiencies in the law had stood uncorrected for a decade, and it was not until a Labor Government altered the statute that the shop assistants were given legal access to the wage tribunal But their difficulties were not over. In 1913, even under the new law, the Union had to defend its registration which the employers opposed. Next year (1914) Mr. Justice Burnside, in April, commenced to hear the claims of the Union. It asked for a 48-hour week and a minimum rate of pay. The employers stood for a variety of technical objections, and even applied to the Supreme Court for an injunction prohibiting the Arbitration Court from issuing an award. The injunction was granted, although the hearing proceeded, but it was finally refused on appeal to the Full Court. and the award was issued.

 

The minimum rate for a male with five years' experience or who was of the age of 23 years or upwards was fixed at £2/15/- per week ; for a female of 21 years it was £1/14/6.

 

These rates are now considered absurd. but it was to resist a minimum of this amount that the employers exhausted every legal subtlety, and indeed for years succeeded in frustrating the demands of reform until a workers' Government altered the law and terminated the immunity from regulation which the wealthy emporiums of Perth had enjoyed under a succession of anti-Labor Governments.

 

It is well for the present generation to remember that in no State was anything done to alleviate the deplorable conditions of the working class until the Labor Party became an effective third party, holding the "balance of power" in Parliament.

 

Even to our own time

 

The Tasmanian Royal Commission Report, furnished as recently as 1907, demonstrates that the sweating system, abolished in States where Labor had become a power, was still in full blast in that State, and so remained until, in 1909, there was elected a Labor Party, comprising more than one-third of the Tasmanian Parliament.

 

Only last December the Tasmanian Upper House threw out a Workers' Compensation Amendment Bill, and even to this day in Western Australia the mutilating hand of the Legislative Council is ever-present.

 

The reason Why the Legislative Council Conservatives are more audacious in resisting industrial reform proposals than their own political colleagues in the Legislative Assembly is because the latter have to go before all the people for judgment, while the Council is elected on a property franchise.

 

The Upper Houses to-day repeat the history of anti-Labor. They reflect its soul. If Labor was weak the Assembly would be even as the Councils. It is only the power and vigilance of Labor that has made Australia the democratic and well-conditioned country which the present generation of youth finds so glorious a heritage.

 

The iron heel

 

The pioneers of these reforms, the men who pushed the work of unionism in the nineties, were the victims of boycott and the black list. The press denounced them as "asses, anarchists, and parasites." The then governments of the colonies used every coercive act to repress progress and were the vile instruments of capitalistic energy.

 

One Chief Justice denounced the members of trade unions as a "closely knit band of criminals." Another judge, summing up against some unionist workmen, told them that they were misled "by unscrupulous leaders, who by pretending sympathy with the poor and suffering, fanned the flames of discontent." He then sent the "misled" men to gaol for seven years.

 

Judge Windeyer told a jury that under the law "a union camp was an unlawful assembly," and if the accused was in the camp for 10 minutes he was guilty. In the instructions disclosed by the discovery of the Ranking-Morris correspondence, the administrators of the law were told to “exercise vigour even if it caused bloodshed."

 

Prosecution and persecution

 

When the Shearers' Union (it is now the great A.W.U.) was formed in 1886, the Government prosecuted two of its champions —Waters and McCormick—under an obsolete English Act for "conspiring to raise wages," and secured their imprisonment for 12 months.

 

Between 1886 and 1896 hundreds of Australian trade unionists were sent to gaol for terms ranging from a few months to fifteen years, under obsolete Acts, or specially devised coercive and restrictive administration, brutally carried out.

 

Sentences passed upon trade unionist workmen in the various colonies they are now the States of the Federation at this period totalled, in the aggregate, hundreds of years. In all States men were tried and sentenced, not for offences against the ordinary Criminal Code, but for alleged offences under ancient Acts of Parliament, long repealed in England, but resurrected by the reactionary powers of Australia, and so applied as to make every action and utterance of a workman a punishable offence.

 

By the year 180 the Australian industrial organisations were badly smashed. Many unions existed in name only, wages which were already low were further reduced,  sweating was intensified, unemployment and destitution accentuated. But the workers, defeated on the industrial field, had carried the fight into politics .A number of Laborites were returned to the Parliaments. Labor had become a Third Party, holding the balance of power between the old political factions. Governments, in order to exist, began to bid for its support.

 

The effect of Labor's entry into the Parliaments has been the most important fact in the political history of Australia. It commenced a new orientation in Australian public life, and marked definitely the determination of the democracy to use legality as an instrument of reform and social betterment.

 

From then onward men who, to quote the words of Sir John Forrest, "did not intend to pass any Socialistic legislation" (meaning thereby industrial reform laws), as the price of their political existence and under the moral duress of Labor's growing influence in the Parliaments and the constituencies, wrote into the laws the statutory beginnings of the new order.

 

The point to remember, however, is that it was not until the workers sent direct representatives to the State and Federal Parliaments during the early years of the present century, that legislation was introduced establishing anything in the form of a minimum wage, and which put the worker on a legal footing.

 

The pre-Labpr epoch

 

In all the States the history of the 20 years prior to the rise of the Labor Party is the history of land scandals, financial swindles, capitalistic profiteerings, public robbery, low wages, and wholesale unemployment; sweaters, squatters, financiers, and their political agents controlled the governments.

 

Financial institutions held vast areas of Crown land and profiteered by the sub-letting of the national property. Favoured individuals did likewise, and grew rich from the sub-letting of the auriferous and pastoral and forest areas of the Crown.

 

The Land Acts facilitated every kind of "dummying," and titles were secured to vast tracts of country by all manner of improper practices. The financial institutions used the governments as instruments to strengthen their peculative powers.

 

In 1890 the "British Investor's Review" issued a warning to the public of Great Britain that the then Governments of the colonies "permitted swindles to go unpunished." Financiers controlling the banks closed the doors, wiped off their personal liabilities by compositions of a farthing in the pound. Parliament was the instrument of these boomstears and busters, who, by fraud, brought Australia to the verge of ruin.

 

As an example of how these men operated. the case of Jas. McIlwraith (the founder of McIlwraith McEacharn & Co., pillars of the present Australian shipping combine) is cited. McIlwraith was a Queensland politician and banker. His Government borrowed English money and left it in the Queensland National Bank without interest. At the same time the Government borrowed from the Bank, did not use it, but paid interest for the undrawn money. Although the Bank was insolvent it paid over £1,000,000 in dividends to its shareholders out of public funds entrusted to its care. McIlwraith then borrowed from the bank without security, and cleared out of the country.

 

Even to this day the great financial institutions entrench themselves in our Parliaments. In the Legislative Councils their directors and representatives exert a malign influence on the public policy.

 

In the national arena the hamstringing of the Commonwealth Bank is a recent proof of the grip they hold over anti-Labor administration.

 

The conception of a White Australia

 

Profound as has been the ameliorating hand of Unionism on the conditions of industry generally, it is in respect to the establishment of the White Australia principle that the men and women of the present day owe an unpayable debt to the pioneers of the Labor Movement. All through the years of the infancy of the workers' party the forces of Capitalism were militant and all-powerful. Their policy was naked and undisguised. The White Sweaters and the Black Slave-trappers were twins, working in unison, in mutual control of Australian Governments. The black traffic was mainly in the North. Its financial heart-strings were in the cities of Sydney and of Melbourne--the seats of Australian Money-Power even in the present time.

 

Then, as now, the economic authority of the nation was centred in a comparatively few people. These were split into groups, and, on occasions, their interests diverged, the result being that the democratic impulse of the nation ever breathed the freer when they disagreed.

 

The originator of the Australian slave trade was Robert Towns. Of Sydney, owner of ships, wharves, stores, and territories, Director of the Bank of New South Wales, member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, and business associate of many of the founders of the greatest commercial houses of to-day.

 

The story deserves a hook to itself, and cannot be fully told here. During the Seventies a petition was sent to the British Government, declaring that: "Murder, piracy, kidnapping, and other acts of barbarity characterised the traffic." . . . "Kanakas on the stations are terrorised with the stockwhip." … "They die from poor feeding. bad water, insanitary houses, and over-work. ' . . . "They work 12 to 14 hours per day." ... "Australian aborigines are treated similarly." There was not one daily newspaper in Australia that stood for a White Policy. The daily newspapers of Australia unitedly opposed the White Australia idea, and denounced its advocates as fools and fanatics mouthing the "unworkable and impossible."

 

They unanimously supported the policy of coloured labor, and the most radical paper of the day, the Melbourne "Age," on July 16. 1883, advocated the importation of Indian coolie labour.

 

Repeating America

 

In a debate in the House of Commons it was said that part of Australia "had become a second South Carolina. The rule is that of an oligarchy, with all the vices of a slave-holding Government."

 

So grievous were the disclosures that the British Government appointed a Commission to investigate. As usual, the years passed, but in 1883 (October) the Commission presented its first report to the Imperial Government. It said :—"The Kanaka traffic is one long record of deceit, cruel treachery, kidnapping and cold blooded murders "

 

Lord Derby (June 8, 1884), described "the operations of the Australian Courts as shameful miscarriages of justice." He also said, "There is undoubted proof of kidnapping, murder, rapine, and piracy." But the then Government—a Government of squatters and their business confreres—refused to prosecute.

 

How terrible was the reality of the slave labor trade in Australia in those years is attested by the exposure of McMurdo, the blackbirder. He kept a diary, from which the following is extracted :—

 

"I have a new, cat. It is a beauty. It has five tails done up hard with strips of lead in the strands. The old one is worn out. It had no bite. This will make them hop. .. The wretches I flogged are all dying. . . . Seven of them are dead. £325 worth of good meat gone. Hard luck, but they would not work, they would not eat, they wanted to die."

 

Black politics

 

Because no redress could be had from Australian Money-Power Governments, recourse was again made to the British authorities. But London was far away. In 1888 McIlwraith, the capitalist politician already referred to, ran an election on the cry of "Cut the Painter," in violent protest against the interference of the British Government in the rights of Queensland on the black slave question.

 

He was supported by the Money-Power of the continent, by the united Tory Press of Queensland, and by the majority of the capitalist newspapers of the other States. By assiduous propaganda, he persuaded the people that a White Queensland meant collapse of property values, ruin of industry, and universal unemployment.

 

Under this alarmist spell he swept the country, the British Government retired from Interference, and the Black Labor gang held supreme control, having in the country no voices to contend with except those of unionists, and no opposition in the Parliament until the rise of the Labor Party.

 

Labor’s growing influence

 

In 1893 the Queensland Labor Party had sixteen members; in 1896, twenty; in 1899, twenty-three. But the members were always in the minority and could do no more than give persistent publicity to the conduct of the black traffic on plantations and ships; their increasing strength, however, reflected the growth of White Australian opinion.

 

All through the nineties Labor in all the States made the gospel of a

 

 

White Australia resound throughout the land. In Queensland, in particular, it fought a terrific struggle. The squatter kings, the sugar planters, and the great bankers, assisted by the press, persistently inveighed against the stalwarts of reform.

 

In every great forward movement it is always the faithful few, the "agitators," the "extremists," the men and woman who are described as "idealists" and "unpractical theorists," who blaze the track. This is as true in our own day as in the times that have passed.

 

It was not until the Laborites of Queensland could be given the actual legislative and political backing of the Laborites of the rest of the Commonwealth that the black stain was removed from Australia's escutcheon.

 

Erasing the black stain

 

In the first Federal Parliament Labor held the balance of power, and, for Labor support, the Barton Government, amongst other reforms, agreed to "The White Australia Policy." On the 17th December, 1901, it was decreed that "No Pacific Islander shall enter Australia on or after 31st day of March, 1904," and on 11 March, 1904, the Clansman carried into Queensland the last batch of Kanakas. The black-trappers carried on their evil trade to within twelve days of the end of more than two years notice of its prohibition.

 

There was by that time 30,000 Kanakas in Queensland, and their transportation back to their island homes was the work of years, and enormous expense.

 

Labor, the reformer

 

The first fact to be remembered in respect to the White Australia is that for forty years (on the evidence of Royal Commissions and declarations of British Ministers of the Crown) , black labor, accompanied by "kidnapping, rape, rapine, piracy, and cold-blooded murders," went on in Australia under anti-Labor Governments, without prohibition or punishment.

 

The second fact to remember is that the Black Slave traffic in Australia only came to an end when the Labor Movement had become a power in the land.

 

In respect to the great body of industrial law whereby the power of the sweater has been restricted, reasonable conditions ensured in factories and workshops, minimum wages prescribed, hours fixed, apprenticeship regulated, holiday pay provided, and compensation for injuries assured, our history suggests two things:

 

(1) That when Labor was weak and without representation in the Parliaments none of these things were written in the laws;

 

(2) That it was not until Labor became a virile political force in the Parliaments of the country that Governments yielded to the dictates of political expediency that which for 40 years they had refused to concede to the voice of humanity.

 

Let youth ponder.

 

Young men and women of today, entering into factories and workshops for a livelihood, and knowing not the story of the struggle whereby Labor has transformed the conditions of a nation, may ask themselves what has Labor done. It is a pertinent query, and Labor's answer is to point to the history of our country.

 

This continent has been called the land of "social experiment." Commentators have compared our adventurous political initiative to that of a pulsing giant whose sobriety of thought is allied with a matchless courage in action. But there is even more in it than that.

 

Australia differs from Europe today solely because here the power of Government has been made responsive to a public conscience, that has heard, and been guided by the voice of Labor on important national and social problems.

 

The soul of a naton

 

Our great national traditions were born in the aspirations of men and women, who having left the Old World were determined that here in the new one there would be a different outlook than the circumscribed life they had hitherto known. Chartists from England, Crofters from Scotland, Fenians from Ireland, Socialists and Democrats from the purlieus of the despotically dominated cities of Europe, came to this country to escape the thraldom of privilege and the palsy of centuries of custom.

 

Here they dreamed of a nation where all men would have an equal opportunity ; where hereditary lordship over the soil would be unknown and where by social action stimulated by democratic political institutions the miseries of the old world could be averted in the building of a new civilisation.

 

Their beliefs and their struggles for justice gave us the first unions, the use of the ballot, and manhood suffrage as distinct from a property franchise; they gave us government of the people, by the people, and for the people, as against dominion over the mass by a privileged few.

 

And on this foundation Labor has built its edifice of political democracy and industrial and social reformation.

 

The role of capitalism

 

It is attested in our history that the press of capitalism, and the Liberal and Tory wings of the anti-Labor political parties opposed necessary and progressive laws until opposition had become futile.

 

All the great principles of Australian democracy—the right of equal voting, the supersession of political privilege, the abrogation of the rule of property—to the extent that they exist are the fruit of Labor's achievement. Where these principles are denied—as in the municipalities, the Upper Houses, and the restrictive laws connected therewith—they are denied because remnants of the old power of the reactionaries still survive.

 

The great captains of industry and finance are more class-conscious than the workers. Their power is never destroyed by internal racial or religious discords.

 

They do not dissipate their solidarity on false issues, nor are they stampeded by bogus cries or mere platitudes.

 

 

They invest in politics as a business in order to secure the class domination of wealth, extended privileges and enlarged immunities for capitalism, and cheaper human material for the profitable production of wealth. As a result of the tremendous publicity forces they control they are enabled to retain a sufficient hold on the mentality of the people to now and again absolutely submerge the voice of progress, while at all times they are able to weaken its natural strength.

 

A contrast between Labor and Anti-Labor is not afforded by a mere comparison between the immediate administration of a Collier or a Mitchell, but by the conditions of Australia as they were under the unchecked authority of those who ruled before there was a Labor Party, and the conditions as they now exist.

 

This test will prove to the student the value of the services rendered to Australia by the men and women of Labor who, having glimpsed "the vision splendid" of a national heritage based on justice, equality, and liberty, toiled and are toiling, for its realisation.

 

To serve the future

 

This pamphlet closes with an appeal to the young. It is they, the heirs of the progress that has been made, who must carry on the work of the future. Only in the Movement of Labor can they find an effective outlet for their energy, a stimulus for their ambition, and a ready-made organism whereby the power of collective action may be harnessed to the individuality of their striving. Labor invites the youth of Western Australia to share in the service of the future; it reminds them of the debt they owe to those who in the past worked for these better days, and asks that this obligation be requited by an equal readiness on their part, by continuing the great democratic tradition, to serve their country, its needs, and its highest aspirations.

 

Labor opposes nothing except that which is evil; it supports all that is good and upright, and which contributes to the well-being of the people, and of those who are to live here after we have passed on.

 

Young men! Young women! You are the sons and daughters of our loins; it is upon your efforts that the destinies of the next generation — your own children — will in large measure depend. Problems, perchance not quite so perplexing as in other lands, face you. How shall you meet them?

 

Not by standing in the shadow of rich men, serving as public proxies for their narrow projects. Not that way.

 

But by striving for the mass; by upholding the rights of the people; by being unafraid of social experiment; and by being ever true to the enthusiasms and the sacrificial qualities which are the divine gifts of youth.

 

It is only in this way that you can do your part in your age and generation to combat iniquity, to serve justice, and thus maintain those ideals which the work of the Labor Movement has grafted into the soul of the Australian nation.


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