Mr. J. J. Kenneally at Broadford [7 September 1906]

[Editor: A report on an election meeting held in support of James Jerome Kenneally. Published in The Broadford Courier and Reedy Creek Times, 7 September 1906. In this article the newspaper capitalized some selected phrases and utilized them as sub-headings.]

Mernda Electorate.

Mr. J. J. Kenneally at Broadford.

Mr. J. J. Kenneally, the selected Labor candidate and Protectionist addressed a large number of electors in the Mechanics’ Hall on Monday evening (Sept. 3rd). Mr Kenneally showed himself to be thoroughly conversant with his subject, and is possessed of a pleasing personality and platform style and we feel certain that his programme will receive every consideration from the electors. One of the noticeable features of the meeting was the interest displayed by the ladies, who turned up in large numbers. Mr. K. McKenzie, shire president, occupied the chair, and in introducing the candidate he felt sure they would give him a patient hearing.

The candidate on rising was greeted with applause and said he appeared before them as a candidate for their suffrages in the coming Federal elections. The platform he represented he intended to place before them that evening and would ask them to deal with it on its merits. He and his party were placed at a big disadvantage at the unfair treatment they received from the

DAILY PRESS.

He addressed no less than six successful meetings and the Age had not reported one word of it in their columns. This was not justice not even to the electors, who were treated very unfair. Unless the Labour speeches of the various candidates were reported the electors had no idea concerning our politics, therefore they had to depend to a large extent on the country press to give full justice. He would ask them to set aside all prejudice they had in their mind and deal with the platform on a fair and impartial manner, which was formulated in Melbourne at a conference of inter-State delegates and was known as the Federal Labour Platform which was framed in 1905 would last for 3 years, anyway till 1908 before there was any alteration. By this the platform would not be twisted and turned at every meeting. What he was speaking to them about that night would be the same as the electors of Coolgardie were being addressed on. Let them consider it as

A PEOPLES’ POLICY.

They have struggled on for many years under a heavy strain, the majority having to work or starve. They had been legislated for by the rich and consequently their representatives were out of touch with the masses, and it was time that things were altered. A short time ago at South Melbourne, Mr. Geo. Reid who styles himself as an Anti socialist, said he objected to the

OBJECTIVE OF THE LABOUR PARTY

Now what is the objective of the Labour Party? It was (1) “the cultivation of an Australian sentiment, based upon the maintenance of a racial purity, and the development in Australia of an enlightened and self-reliant community.” (2) “The security of the full results of their industry to all producers by the collective ownership of monopolies, and the extension of industrial and economic functions of the State and municipality.” The recent exposure of the Butter Commission showed that the producers had been robbed of their toil. They had slaved hard and long for many a day. In the past these butter agents who had a monopoly of the industry held the farmers in the hollow of their hands. The Government should come to their assistance and superintend the exporting of butter to London and see that the exporters were only charged a reasonable and fair freight and also would stop the faking of butter on the London market. The Economic function of the Municipality was illustrated in the case of the Melbourne Tramways which would be taken over by the Melbourne City Council. The love of fair play and justice was the great characteristic of every British community, and with power placed in the people’s hands no one would suffer injustice. It would reduce the scope of the monopolists to crush the people. Let them remember the lines of Sir Walter Scott who penned those words —

Breathes there a man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said
This is my own my native land.

(Applause). This brought him to the first plank in their platform.

A WHITE AUSTRALIA

They lived in a British community and it was their desire to maintain it so. They should refuse citizenship to those of a lower standing than themselves. Let us build up a pure and self-reliant community. Let them look at the present existing state of things in America. There, there were all colors, from the half-caste to the skew-bald. Let them then take a lesson from the American state and enact laws that would prevent aliens from landing on our shores. If we want to be patriotic we must keep them out. The

OLD AGE PENSION

was the next platform of the Labour Party. The people who came to these shores in the early days had to endure great hardships. There were no railways for them to ride about on, no fine houses to live in, and those of them who had met with misfortune were entitled to some consideration for the work they had done in opening up this great country. It was only a Christian principle that they should be recompensed for all they had done and enabled to spend the evening of their days in comfort and security.

THE TARIFF

was the bone of contention in politics, and amongst Freetraders and Protectionists it was much commented upon. They should have a Tariff Referendum, though the result was a foregone conclusion as nearly 80 per cent of the electors in Victoria were strong Protectionists. In N.S.W. Protection was growing stronger and in West Australia the same thing applies there. Personally he was a strong Protectionist. (Applause). He could see no other policy for the redemption of Australia. If we want to be a self-reliant people we must produce here what we require. The

PROGRESSIVE TAX ON UNIMPROVED LAND VALUES

was the next debated on. All sorts of things had been said about this platform of the Labour Party. His party proposed to put a tax on land valued at over £5,000, exclusive of improvements at a ½d in the £ to £10,000 and at a 1d from £10,000 to £15,000 and so on. On the large estates the tax would be such that the owner would find that it would not pay to keep the land intact. He would have to cut it up for closer settlement which was the object aimed at and which would make provision for families to earn an honest living. In New Zealand the Labour Party who held the Treasury benches, had worked successfully in this line, and it was the desire of the Labour Party here to work on similar lines. The New Zealand official year book showed the total unimproved value to be as follows:—

1891, …… £75,497,379
1897, £84,401,244, increase £8,903,865
1902, £94,847,727 ,, £10,446,493
1904, £112,629,412 ,, £17,818,658
1905, £122,937,126 ,, £10,307,714

Showing the increase since 1891 when the Labour Party broke up the large estates by a Progressive Land Tax of £47,439,747.

The candidate in the field for Mernda was decrying this policy of the Labour Party by stating that the tax would reduce the value of land. But from these figures quoted how could it? Large estates were held by few men and put to little use, it was not earning the money it should and the only way to rectify it was to cut up and put it to proper use.

RESTRICTION OF PUBLIC BORROWING

was another plank of their platform. The curse of this country had been the borrowing of money, by past Governments. They were borrowing and the interest they paid amounted to almost what was borrowed. As a result they were taxed very heavy. When the Labour Party said they should restrict public borrowing they also said that the taxation of the people should be made as far as possible to pay the expenditure, and unless for the conversion of loans they would not go in for borrowing. They asked for

NAVIGATION LAWS

to provide for the protection of Australian shipping against unfair competition. During the last 20 years 12 vessels had left these shores on voyage but had never been heard of because they were not seaworthy. Proper inspection of vessels trading where human lives were at stake should be made so that those on board would have some security. They believed in a

CITIZENS’ DEFENCE FORCE

This should be added to the school curriculum that every lad should be trained in drill, and when he came of age prepared for soldier duties in the handing of the sword and rifle, so when the time arrived he would he able to take his stand for the preservation of the commonwealth from a foreign foe.

Amendment of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act was needed. At the time of the labor troubles in 1890, the advice given to them was to adopt constitutional means to redress their grievances instead of resorting to the barbarous system of strikes. The advice was taken and men were sent to Parliament to represent the Labor party. It was noteworthy that no constituency that had since given its vote for labor had gone back to Conservatism. (Hear hear.) The party that gave the advice that was adopted now turned round and blackguarded the Labor party for taking it. The Labor party had given satisfaction, and we were called anarchists, socialists, and all other kind of things. He asked the electors to take the records of

THE THREE PARTIES

represented in the Federal Parliament — the Deakin Party, the Reid Party, and the Labor Party. The Deakin Ministry was kept in power by the votes of the Labor Party, until replaced by Mr. Watson, who, with his colleagues, occupied office for four months and gave a clear and pure adminstration. When the success of the Labor Ministry began to show itself, Mr. Deakin allied himself with Mr. Reid to enhance his own chance of again getting into office. Thereby, the Labor Government were defeated, but when Mr. Reid took office he had to admit that every department had been well administered. That went to prove the ability of the Party to manage the affairs of the Commonwealth. Mr. Deakin finding Mr. Reid getting on very comfortably on the Treasury benches, notwithstanding the alliance and the fact that he had “sold” some of his supporters, went to Ballarat and made a speech which brought about the crisis. Mr. Deakin wanted office, and got it. Mr. Watson did not want office; he wanted laws for the benefit of the community, and as long as he could get them from Mr. Deakin he was prepared to use him. The Labor Party wanted progressive legislation — not office. A great objection urged against the Labor Party was that they were tied hand and foot by

SIGNING THE LABOUR PLATFORM

The necessity for that had arisen in this country in consequence of the corruption of both Liberals and Conservatives. When they turned turtle and were confronted with it, they said that they were misreported, or were misunderstood; they never said they didn’t say what was objected to, or, if they did say it they didn’t mean it. (Laughter.) When a Labor candidate signed the platform nothing like that could happen, for it was always there for production against him. If a man entered into a contract with electors why should he object to give documentary evidence of his sincerity? If any honorable man got into Parliament and found that he had been deceived on any plank of the platform then his course was clear. He should resign and go before the people on the amended platform. Thus, it was only a question of giving greater power to the people and less scope to the treachery of the candidate. As an illustration of the need for having a man’s platform in black and white there was the case of a gentleman in the State Parliament, who had been returned in the interests of the civil servants. He referred to Mr. Gaunson, who endorsed the Labor platform. When the time came for that gentleman to sign the platform one of the usual printed forms were not available, but a copy of a paper called the “Tocsin” was handy. That paper had the platform of the party printed in red on its cover, and Mr. Gaunson put his signature to that. But afterwards when he had departed from the platform, and was accused of the fact, he said: “I defy you to show me where I ever signed it in black and white.” Of course, he had never done so — he had signed it in black and red. (Laughter.)

THE OTHER CANDIDATES

Mr. Leckie and Mr. Harper, had each dealt with the Labor Party, and he might, therefore, be pardoned for dealing with their politics. Personally he had nothing whatever against either of them, and he would deal with them in a fair and square way, and in such a way as to gain the respect of those supporting them. (Applause.) Mr. Harper, in his address to the electors, complained that as the sitting member, obliged to attend to his duties in the House, he labored under a disability of which those who had already entered the field had been quick to take advantage. That, surely, was a childish complaint for a member to make. Mr. Harper had £400 a year to represent the electors, and a free railway pass to assist him to travel about, while he (the candidate) had no such privilege and had to pay his own railway fares; and he would ask them how many times had the sitting member addressed the electors since his election? Mr. Harper knew the Federal elections would take place this year, and was provided with every facility for getting about amongst the electors, and would have taken the opportunity of doing so if he had their interests at heart, or if he had had anything to place before them. Mr. Harper was free from Parliament on Saturdays and Mondays and could place these days at the disposal of the electors if he must stick so closely to his duties as to have no other time. If he failed to use his opportunities why should he blame other candidates? He had been in the Federal Parliament during the last week and had procured the list of attendances of the sitting member and the votes he recorded. In committee first session 1904 Mr Harper only voted on 14 divisions out of 37. Second session 1905 in committee, out of 42 divisions only voted on 3 and paired in one. Session 1906 voted against Anti-trust Bill (Hansard 1247) voted with Reid’s party. In the House from 3rd March to 14th Dec., 1904, only voted on 4 divisions out of 27. From 30th June to 19th Dec., 1905, out of 39 divisions only voted on 4, and did not vote on the stone wall debate 1905

THE CAUCUS

What was a caucus? It meant that the members of the Party met to decide on the line of action they would take to give effect to their programme. Having come to a decision they met the House as a solid, compact body. The leader spoke for the whole party; the whole party knew what the leader would say, and each had had a voice in deciding what he should say. Outside of the Labour platform every member was left free to vote as he thought fit. (The speaker here gave a local illustration of two bodies — which made it clearer to his hearers). So, when Mr. Harper talked about the caucus, he was beating the air and trying to frighten people with something which did not exist. (Applause). It was an insult to the intelligence of the electors of Mernda for so old a politican as Mr Harper to talk to them as he had done about the caucus party. It was only a bogey.

A PRACTICAL FARMER

Regarding his qualifications to represent Mernda electorate he might tell them a little about himself. He was born in this electorate at Gaffneys Creek and at the age of 8 years went on to his father’s selection near Benalla. For 20 years he worked on the farm and with his family had experienced all the hardships of the early settlers. While he was a boy he could not afford to get a good education and at the age of 22 he commenced to study by riding 6 miles 3 nights a week to night school. He did this for 2½ years and then attended college for another 2½ years and succeeded in passing in 6 subjects at the Matriculation examination at the Melbourne University. He then went into business as an auctioneer. He therefore claimed to have a perfect knowledge of the wants and hardships of the farming community as well as a good business training, and although he was able to improve his own position he never ceased to be a genuine laborite. His family now owned about 2,500 acres and he himself had a farm. He was therefore qualified to represent the workers and farmers of Mernda.

In conclusion the speaker thanked those present for the patient hearing they had given him, and asked that the programme of the Labour Party should be dealt with on its merits.

Mr. Kenneally resumed his seat admidst applause.

QUESTIONS.

Questions were then invited by the Chairman:—

Mr. Zwar:— Is the candidate in favour of the Contingent Voting Bill now before Parliament?

Mr. Kenneally said the Labor Party has had a good deal of experience with contingent voting. There is, however, a drawback with the system by which the best men would be placed on the bottom of the list of preferences; for example for the Senate there might be 3 candidates representing each of the 3 Parties. Let us suppose that Mr. Watson and 2 other Labor candidates, Mr. Deakin and 2 other Deakinites, Mr. Reid and 2 other Reidites. Now a Laborite voting for Watson 1, other Laborites 2 and 3, (2) Deakinites 4 and 5, (2) Reidites 6 and 7, Mr. Deakin 8 and Mr. Reid 9. Now instead of giving Deakin preference of his 2 supporters he is placed behind the 2 supporters of Reid. Those whose chance is least are placed before him. The proposal is, however, the best we know of and I would support it.

A Voice — Are you in favor of Local Option?

The candidate said it was out of the province of Federal matters, but he would tell them he was a teetotaler. He considered there should be proper supervision in the drink question. (Hear hear).

A Voice — Are you in favor of abolishing the State Parliament?

The candidate said there seemed to be a feeling over the electorate in regard to this question that they were over legislated. And the first thing he would be in favor of abolishing, was the Legislative Council. For the 14th time the Council had frustrated the will of the people by throwing out the Women Suffrage Act.

A Voice — Are you in favor of 1/- wage per hour?

The Candidate — This question is outside Federal politics. Under the Factories Act this matter was considered.

Mr. R. Holwell — Are you in favor of the Federal Government taking over the State Railways?

The Candidate said he did not think it would be practicable at present, in fact thought it ill-advisable, but at a later stage would be in favor of it.

Mr. Kenneally thanked them for the patient hearing they had given him. It was the first time he had spoken at Broadford and they had treated him nicely, and he hoped they would treat him equally as well at the poll. It was early in the day and he would endeavour to again address them before polling day. He would ask particularly all the labouring class to make a close examination of the rolls to see that every vote eligible was on.

Mr. A. Fischer here asked the candidate would it be necessary to go before a J.P. to get on the rolls.

The Candidate — Not at present. All you have to do is to go to the post office and ask the officer in charge for a form which you fill in and hand back to the official. Later on to obtain a vote you would have to go before a J.P. at a revision court.

A vote of thanks to the chairman concluded the meeting.

A strong committee was formed after the meeting to secure the candidate’s return.

We understand Mr Kenneally has been approached to deliver an address on charity in aid of the Kilmore hospital at the annual Sunday demonstration in November, and has consented.



Source:
The Broadford Courier and Reedy Creek Times (Broadford, Vic.), 7 September 1906, p. 3

Editor’s notes:
bogey = an imagined cause for fear or alarm (may also refer to: someone or something which causes fear or alarm; a frightening or haunting specter, especially a “bogeyman”; an evil or mischievous spirit; a demon; the devil)

Geo. = an abbreviation of the name “George”

half-caste = someone whose parents are of different racial backgrounds; someone of mixed racial descent

Local Option = the right of local electors, by referendum, to decide on the issuing of liquor licences (temperance movements in Australia were promoters of this practice; the control of alcohol at the local level was known as the “local option”, as distinct from state and national controls)

skew-bald = animals with patches or spots of white and any other colour except black, often referring to horses with brown and white patches

[Editor: Corrected “Labour Party!” to “Labour Party?”; “monoply” to “monopoly”; “peoples” to “people’s”; “half-cast” to “half-caste”; “recitify” to “rectify”; “loans they would would” to “loans they would”; “14 Dec,,” to “14 Dec.,”; “their programme,” to “their programme.”; “fathers” to “father’s” ; “Labor candidates” to “Labor candidates,”; “tetotaller” to “teetotaler” ; “Are your” to “Are you”; “State Parliament.” to “State Parliament?”; “per hour.” to “per hour?”; “State Railways.” to “State Railways?”; “candidates return” to “candidate’s return”.]

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