[Editor: This article by Henry Fletcher was published in Windsor and Richmond Gazette (Windsor, NSW), 31 May 1918. In this article the author opposes local positions being filled by foreigners, attacks a foreign superiority complex, and argues for a type of Australianism (cultural nationalism).]
“Australia for the Australians.”
(By Henry Fletcher).
The prelates Mannix and Kelly tell us we should think first of ourselves. Just so! Hear, hear! and Amen! This theory of home rule, and home rights, has a scientific basis in the law:— “Knowledge is only gained by experience.” To gain this experience, each country, each community, and each individual should govern himself. It is true the government in such a case may be bad; but only so is self-reliance and personality developed.
Consider what Australia for Australians means. We should at once charter a fleet of ships and put on board to return, carriage paid, all imported persons holding positions that could have been filled by Australians. There would be a procession down the gangway, led by the Governor General, of State Governors, Protestant, Catholic and Presbyterian Church dignitaries. All their positions could be filled by Australians with Australian sentiments and ideas. As new arrivals, the prelates Kelly and Mannix would go by the very first boat; and if their feelings are guided by logic, they would be happy to go; for this would mean that some young Australian priests would have a chance of preferment now denied them.
A natural law is not limited in its application as the law of gravitation acts always and everywhere. So this law of Home Rule, or “Each for Himself,” if sound, should be generally applied.
There should be an Australian Catholic Church, with an Australian Council in control, who would allow no say whatever by an outside authority in local affairs. The council moved by the spirit of “Each for Himself,” would evolve a new theology and church ceremonies suited to local needs. Moved by the same spirit, local priests would resist the interference of bishops or archbishops in their local affairs. They would claim to preach what doctrine they pleased, “Each for Himself.” Other churches would do the same. And what a blessing it would be! The feuds of England, Ireland, and Scotland are not our feuds, and we should long ago have forgotten all about them — but for the imported person who is always filling us up with them.
While Catholic prelates are the shocking example of dragging oversea squabbles and class feeling into this peaceful land, the Protestant prelates make a good second; for no man brought up in one country can escape its limitations when transported to another. And that by itself is a good reason why we should do without the imported person as a teacher or an authority.
As individuals these imported persons have usually been excellent and well-meaning; but they have not been Australians; and many of them after years of residence here, failed to understand us. Protestant prelates in particular appear to regard life in Australia as a species of purgatory and hurry back to England as soon as possible.
Is it not time for Australia to proclaim that she has grown up, and wants no more leading strings? Nor do we want to be propped up in trade, commerce or manufactures by someone else.
In the present extremity — that should have been foreseen by a real statesman — we in four years, with ample men and resources, have been unable to build a single ship. This while our wheat rots for want of ships.
Woolen goods are a fabulous price; although Australia supplies the world with wool. For it has been our absurd practice to cart the wool we wanted, first to the other end of the world, and then cart it back again.
“Each for Himself.” Just so! Let us make our own clothes, boots, hats — everything we want in a general way. Then only shall we have true home rule. But this will never come about while the imported person is in high places, and edits our newspapers. For quite naturally, these imported persons think the goods of their countries better than ours. And they make a good Australian very tired when they gas about the superiority of this, that, or the other, in their own country to what they find here. “We have no society, culture, art atmosphere; our food, wine and beer lacks the proper flavor; our servants and workers have no proper respect for superiors; and our language and morals are in all things what they ought not to be.”
If Australians were imported to England to boss that country they would return the compliment of disrespect, and say of it just what the imported person says of Australia. Having seen and lived in several other countries I should like Australians to take my word for it: that owing to climate, diet and social environment, they are, taken altogether, inferior to no other people on earth. All that others have done they could do, and often do better. We have quicker brains and more active bodies than Britishers; and we are as inventive as Americans. But as yet, largely owing to the gas of the imported person, we have not realised our own capacity.
When a Pommy comes into a workshop, or on a farm job, we find him slow as a funeral; and yet on this back number, compared to ourselves, we rely for guides and goods.
Wake up Australians! It is time you understood, and pasted in your hat for good and all:— “Each for Himself.”
Incidentally, when we woke up to realities, we shall find that we have an imported form of government quite unsuited to our needs. A government system enormous in cost and rotten in performance; and so perfumed that capable governing men keep out of it, and it is left to hot air merchants and gas bags. So that we have now misgoverning our destinies individuals who could not run a lolly shop. One tried in this district to run a dairy farm, and made a hash of it.
Rub your eyes, Australians, look at things for what they are, not what the imported prelates tell you. Be yourselves — “Each for Himself.”
Windsor and Richmond Gazette (Windsor, NSW), 31 May 1918, page 5
fabulous = astounding, hard to believe, made up, not believable (can also mean: very good, extremely good, fantastic, marvellous, very pleasing, superb, wonderful)
gas = talk, especially regarding people talking a lot (e.g. “He gassed on about how great his son was at cricket”)
gas bag = someone who talks too much, especially about inconsequential or unimportant matters; someone who talks a lot, especially in a boastful or pompous manner; the tern is believed to be derived from a hot air balloon, which uses propane (a gas) to heat up the air inside the balloon, so as to give it buoyancy
hot air merchant = someone who boasts and exaggerates a lot (“hot air” refers to boastful and exaggerated speaking)
Kelly = Michael Kelly (1850-1940), a Catholic clergyman; he came to Australia in 1901, and served as Archbishop of Sydney (1911-1963); he was born in Waterford (Ireland) in 1850, and died in Sydney (NSW) in 1940
See: 1) Patrick O’Farrell, “Kelly, Michael (1850–1940)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Michael Kelly (bishop)”, Wikipedia
3) “Death of Archbishop Kelly”, Manilla Express (Manilla, NSW), 12 March 1940, [p. 4]
lolly = a piece of confectionary, a candy, a sweet; an abbreviation of “lollypop” (plural: “lollies”)
Mannix = Daniel Mannix (1864-1963), a Catholic clergyman; he came to Australia in 1913, and served as Archbishop of Melbourne (1917-1963); he was born in Charleville (Ireland) in 1864, and died in Melbourne (Vic.) in 1963
See: 1) James Griffin, “Mannix, Daniel (1864–1963)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Daniel Mannix”, Wikipedia
oversea = an alternative form of “overseas”
paste in your hat = a reminder to oneself; regarding something which should be remembered (past tense: pasted in your hat)
Pommy = someone from England; of or relating to someone or something of English origin (can be spelt with or without an initial capital letter: Pommy, pommy) (the term can be used in an affectionate, neutral, or mildly derogatory manner)
prelate = a Christian clergyman with a high rank (e.g. an abbot, archbishop, bishop, cardinal, monsignor); the term is commonly used regarding archbishops and bishops
See: “Prelate”, Wikipedia
sound = complete, secure, solid, built on a firm footing, well-constructed; accurate, correct, valid; complete, thorough; reliable, sensible; healthy, in good condition
species = a class of animals or plants; a class or group which share some common appearance, attributes or characteristics; a class, group, kind, sort, type, or variety of something
[Editor: Changed “comliment” to “compliment”; “prelates, tell you” to “prelates tell you” (removed comma).]