This post continues my story of the life of the New England Leader David Henry Drummond. You will find a full list of posts here.
In 1907 Northern New South Wales was, in relative terms, an important part of Australia. Its population was then around 400,000, only one-third less than that of Queensland, roughly equal to that of South Australia, and far higher than the population of Western Australia or Tasmania. One New South Welshman in four, and thus just under one Australian in ten, lived in the North.
The local world that these people knew was in many ways very different from that existing today. The biggest urban concentrations in the North were, and still are, in the lower Hunter Valley: this area includes the North's biggest city, Newcastle, which had a population of 59,319 in 1911, as well as Maitland (12,377) and Cessnock (5,102). Coal was dominant in the lower Hunter, with the mines providing the main source of income. As a result the very texture of life was different from that found elsewhere in the North. Newcastle, along with Bunbury in Western Australia, was one of the last Australian ports in which sail was still a rival to steam. The tall ships in the river, the lumpers who loaded them, the boarding-house proprietors who looked after and exploited the sailors, and the merchants who supplied the ships all helped create a different atmosphere. But beyond all this was the stark reality of a life dominated by the harsh rhythm of the mines. The end result was a close-knit, inward-looking and clannish community which had little in common with, and less understanding of, life elsewhere in the north. This lack of understanding was fully shared by those living further north, for they distrusted and even feared the mining and industrial interests of the lower Hunter: the tensions flowing from these differences form one of the themes of Northern history.
Further north, the population structure was very different from that existing today. Although there were at least fourteen urban centres with populations exceeding 2,000, the main towns were very much smaller. Lismore, the largest centre in 1911, had a population of only 7,381, while there were only three urban areas with populations between 5,000 and 8,000. Equally importantly, the countryside had not then been depopulated. The rural population, that is people living on farms and in centres with a population of less than 600, varied from area to area but generally made up between 43 and 60 per cent of the total population. A further 16 to 23 per cent lived in towns and villages whose populations ranged between 600 and 2,000, while the proportion living in the bigger urban centres themselves ranged from 17 to 41 per cent.
The end result was a diversified population structure, ranged in a distinct hierarchy. At one extreme was the locality or rural district, whose total populations could reach several hundred. Such localities were usually, as at Arding near Uralla, centred on the school, church and tennis courts. At the other extreme were the larger towns such as Lismore, offering a relatively wide range of urban services. In the middle came a variety of towns and villages. These ranged from small settlements with perhaps just a hotel, bakery and general store, to mining centres based on tin and gold, to timber towns nestling in the hills with their small collections of unpainted weatherboard houses huddled around the mill, to medium size towns offering a wider range of services to the surrounding countryside. No matter how small, these centres generally sustained a range of community activities, such as church groups, sporting clubs and farmers' organisations. The result was a complex web of relationships, linking together both those living within the communities and the communities themselves.
Associated with this different population structure were very different transport patterns. The coast was not then linked together by railway, so that for many journeys it was easier and faster for passengers and freight to travel by coastal steamer. Inland, the train was the key form of transport, channelling passengers and freight first to Morpeth (originally the main river port on the Hunter) and Newcastle, and then, by 1907, to Sydney. However, away from the railways and steamer routes, the horse and bullock were still king. The first cars had begun to appear, but most towns were still linked by stage coach, with a posting station or inn every sixteen to twenty-one kilometres. In addition to the roads themselves, the North was linked by an intricate web of stock-routes, along which mobs of sheep and cattle moved continually.
These different settlement and transport patterns helped mould human thinking. Even with the fastest horse-drawn transport, the distance covered in a day was roughly equal to that covered by car in one hour on a modern highway; travelling as the stock moved, that hour's drive becomes a journey of more than a week. To the Northerners of 1907, their immediate world was huge, measured as it was in days, or even weeks, of travelling time. It was also more sharply focused: slower transport meant that the knowledge of the landscape was greater; insignificant valleys that today vanish in a few minutes then stood out in clear relief. Beyond all this, even though there were large areas with few or no people, it was a populated world. The posting stations and inns, the slower transport that allowed travellers to stop and chat, and the many farming settlements, meant that human life was spread across the landscape.
The heightened awareness of their immediate world helped develop strong emotional attachments between people and the districts they lived in. 'South of my days' circle, part of my blood's country,' Judith Wright later wrote of the Tablelands. Such emotional links strengthened local loyalties to the point where they hindered cooperation with other towns or districts within the North. But over time they also played an important part in the development of a wider Northern loyalty. The Northerners' perception of the large size of their immediate local world was normally associated with a deep-seated belief in its development potential. When this was continually frustrated, strong local loyalties were transformed into a sustained attempt to unite the North in order to radically restructure the existing governmental system. For David Drummond, who gave his total love and loyalty to the North, this fight would provide the central cause of his political life.
Armidale, the city Drummond arrived in on that cold day in 1907, was classified as a city because of its two bishoprics not because of its size; at the 1911 census its population was just 4,738. Established in 1839, Armidale had begun its life as the administrative capital of a pastoral district that stretched from the end of the Hunter Valley up into what would become Queensland. While its period as capital of this vast territory was brief, the city had developed into an important administrative, religious and education centre.
Drummond's first job in the district was to run a small mixed farm on the outskirts of Armidale. The year had been dry, the farm overstocked, there was no feed on the place, and fodder was scarce and expensive:
When I fed the stock well enough to keep them strong the owner - who appeared at weekends - growled, when they had their ration reduced with resultant weakness he growled even more. It was the beginning of my education in the twin evils of drought and over-stocking.
Drummond threw himself into the work, and by the time he left the place in the following autumn he had the satisfaction of seeing the sheds full of hay and maize while the surviving stock were sleek and strong.
The next three years were spent on farms around Armidale and partly on a sheep station at Kingstown, south of Uralla. His working hours were initially irregular but nearly always long; in 1909, when Drummond started his first regular hours, he worked from 7 am to 6 pm, five days a week, and from 7 am to 5 pm on Saturday, with an hour for lunch. In addition to long hours, the jobs were not without risk because of the inevitable accidents associated with farm work, particularly at a time when the horse was still so important. At one stage the lad was almost crippled when the draught horse he was unharnessing bolted, jamming him between the cart wheel and the shed post. Fortunately the old horse temporarily obeyed an order to stop, allowing Drummond to slip free; "Verily a cat has nine lives but a Scotchman ten', he wrote to Martha. Despite these problems Drummond seems to have enjoyed the work. He also showed early signs of ambition when, realising that as a farm labourer he would have little chance to save, he began to attend wool classing lessons at Armidale's Olympic Hall. '[I hope] to take up classing as a profession', he wrote at the time, 'for I believe that I should [do] well at it.' His marks were good, but he had to drop this plan when, after moving to another job, he could no longer take Wednesday afternoon off.
Drummond fitted in well with the Tablelands' small farming communities. He shared their Christian beliefs and also absorbed their simple, cooperative outlook. At that stage the Tablelands still produced considerable quantities of grain. Wheat, long a major Tablelands' crop, was already in marked decline by the time Drummond arrived, but he was able to see this old industry before its extinction. In addition to wheat, the Tablelands also produced oats, an important crop because of its use as horse feed. Both crops were harvested by cooperative effort. After being cut with a binder, they were stooked in the fields to dry and then built into round stacks. In due course a contractor with teams of up to sixteen bullocks would bring a portable steam engine and large threshing machine onto the farms and thresh the grain. Once the contractor had hauled his machinery onto a farm, all the farmers in the area would combine to supply a team of twenty to twenty-four men to carry out the threshing and later the chaff-cutting. The women from the farms would combine also to cook and serve food.
Usually one to 2 days would clean up farm No. 1 the gang would move on to the successive farms with their Women's Auxilliary till the whole group area was finished. It was a fine piece of co-operation in action ...
Drummond was clearly impressed: he would always believe in cooperative effort, although he was never blind to the problems involved in turning the ideal into reality.
The eye for detail revealed by Drummond's observations of harvesting techniques was one part of his growing interest in farming practice. During his time around Armidale he was exposed to a variety of farming and grazing techniques, many of them very primitive. The only method, for example, of dealing with worm infestation was to give the sheep a drench made of arsenic boiled in water, with the sediment drained off. This was dangerous, so the practice was adopted of selecting up to thirty of the poorest and wormiest sheep on whom the drench would be tested. If not more than half the drenched group were dead by morning, then the drench was about the right strength and could be given to the main mob. The lad absorbed the techniques he saw, sorting out in his mind those he would later follow.
In 1911 Drummond was given an opportunity to put his developing ideas into practice. John Ewing, produce manager for the Pastoral Finance Association, had some spare capital and began thinking about the possibility of using it to purchase either a portion of Rimbanda station south of Uralla, or a portion of Bannockburn station near Inverell. Ewing discussed his plans with Morris Drummond, who then arranged for his brother to go and inspect the blocks in question. At the time Rimbanda was known in the district as 'a boneyard of graziers' hopes', breeding 'Fluke and other worms in remarkable numbers', and Drummond had no hesitation in recommending against it. Bannockburn was quite a different proposition.
Inverell, on the western edge of the Tablelands, had long been known as a fine farming district. However, in the absence of a rail link to the district, farmers were effectively limited to their local market by the high cost of transport. In November 1901 this changed with the opening of the railway line to Moree: between 1904 and 1914 all landowners with holdings within twenty-four kilometres of the new line sold at least a portion of their land to farmers. As part of this process Bannockburn, one of the district's oldest grazing properties, was subdivided and put up for sale.
The block Drummond looked at was 518 hectares of mainly arable basalt soil, with a half kilometre frontage to the MacIntyre River. It had a ring wire fence, two silted up dams, was uncleared although the timber had been ringbarked, and lacked farm buildings. However, it clearly had potential: to use a local farmers' phrase, Drummond later recalled, 'you could not go wrong.' Drummond recommended in favour of the block, and it was jointly purchased by Ewing and James Shepherd, a private wool operator. The new owners offered Drummond the position of manager, an offer he eagerly accepted. 'From a weekly wage of 1 [pound]... and board and lodging, I became at 21 years of age Manager of 'Maxwelton' [the name selected for the new property] with a share in the wheat harvests', the later wrote with some pride.
Ready to begin work, he packed his goods into a 'spider' sulky drawn by a half-bred welsh pony and, with a six-month-old foal and a sheep dog attached, returned to Maxwelton. His first job was to turn one large paddock into a viable mixed farm. He attacked the work with great energy: fencing and dam-cleaning contracts were let, sheds and stock yards erected, and working stock and farming plant purchased. The work was not easy. The virgin black soil was difficult to plough, and weather conditions proved difficult. Nevertheless, by the end of 1912 Drummond could look on his results with satisfaction.
With the outlook good, Drummond's mind turned to other matters. While working at Arding, a farming district south of Armidale, he had met the Goode family. John Goode had originally come to the district to search for gold on the nearby Rocky River goldfields, but had then preselected land at Arding and become a successful farmer. Now Drummond asked for the hand of Pearl, John and Ellen Goode's twenty-five-year-old daughter. In doing so, he found himself in one of those embarrassing situations to which his deafness made him prone. When John Goode asked the young man what he would give for Pearl, the mishearing Drummond, thinking Goode had asked him the cost of a type of buggy, replied two pound ten shillings, second hand. Although Pearl never let David forget the incident, she accepted him and the couple were married on 11 March 1913 by Arthur Johnstone in the Methodist Church at Arding.  The clipping from the local paper provides details.
The newly married couple settled down to life in the small farming community centred around Oakwood, the village that had sprung up with the development of the farms. Pearl was quiet and shy, but also had the capacity to make friends; one of the Drummonds' friends from the Inverell period, Arthur Cosh, described her more than sixty years later as 'a magnificent woman'.
Travelling by sulky along the black soil tracks, she and David joined in the social activities of the community, visiting, playing tennis, or attending the church functions that played such a key part in the community life. Apart from their social life, marriage also meant increased domestic comfort for David Drummond. The manager's home on Maxwelton was a little pre-fabricated cottage with a kitchen and two tiny bedrooms, a cottage that must have been hot and uncomfortable during the sweltering summer months. Now Drummond added first a verandah and then a proper laundry.
During this early period everything went well for the couple. The 1913-14 season was an extremely good one; of the smaller growers, reported the Inverell P. and A. Association in 1914, Mr D.H. Drummond of Oakwood was this year amongst the most successful. The Association's report is revealing not just because it shows that Drummond had had a good crop, but also because it refers to 'his carefully kept figures.' The attention to detail that Drummond would show throughout his life was clearly already well established. The good crop must have been a relief to David and Pearl, given that their income depended heavily on his share of the harvest. Certainly Drummond now felt confident enough to sponsor a Scottish cousin, David Harper, as an immigrant, along with two of the Harper's friends. Harper was given a job at Maxwelton, while Drummond found jobs for the other two elsewhere in the district.
Apart from their growing prosperity, David and Pearl had another reason for happiness. In 1914 their first child, Phyllis, was born, followed by Edna in 1915.
This period of peace and relative prosperity proved short. On 1 July 1914, the assassination of Sarajevo of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife set in train a series of events that led inexorably to war. News of the outbreak of war reached Australia on 5 August and led to an immediate outpouring of loyalty to the Empire and Australia. The resulting heavy enlistments from the districts around Oakwood (including David Harper and his two Scottish friends) significantly affected local life. Not only did everybody have friends or relatives in the army, but the very fabric of social life changed. Many of the organisations around which community life had revolved, such as the Farmers and Settlers' Association branches, were forced to close down for the duration because of the loss of members to the front. New community events emerged to take their place, such as France's Day, Allies Day, Belgium Day and Anzac Day.
War brought other changes as well. On 25 August, just twenty days after the news of war reached Australia, Will Drummond enlisted. It had been an agonizing decision. His Christian beliefs would not allow him to take life, but he also felt that he must do his duty. His solution was to join as a stretcher bearer: 'I have tried to play the game and to live up to the ideas Jesus has set before me', he wrote to Morris on the day of the Gallipoli landing (25 April 1915). The photo shows Will Drummond in 1916 on convalescent leave following his return to Australia from the front.
Morris and David did not enlist immediately. The three brothers had agreed that David, as the only married one, should stay to be in a position to look after their sister should that prove necessary. Later, when David did try to enlist, he would be rejected twice. For Morris's part, he followed events closely, finally deciding in August 1915 that he too must enlist. He wrote to David:
Perhaps you will not be altogether surprised but I have felt it coming on - like a bad cold... while I have the conviction that men are really required I cannot hang back and let someone else carry my bundle ... I've taken the step and hope it won't be labour in vain, but at any rate I've no delusions about the fun and glory of it.
Morris was offered an immediate commission but declined it. Officer training would have delayed his passage, and he also wanted first to know something about the men he would command.
The war marked the start of troubles for David and Pearl. The 1914-15 season brought a short but severe drought which forced Drummond and a neighbour to combine together to move their 3000 sheep along the crowded stock routes to Hazlegreen, a Tablelands' property which still had grass. In 1916 seasonal conditions improved, but now the family was struck by personal tragedy.
In July Phyllis contracted flu and died suddenly. She had been an attractive and much-loved child, and her death was a severe blow to them all.The photo shows Phyllis right with Edna.
Family problems continued into 1917. Going to bed late one night, Drummond saw a fire in the hayshed. The men and the neighbours - who came from near and far - were able to save a big wagon and some stacked lucerne nearby, but 102 tonnes of fodder were destroyed. The loss was a disaster, for 1917 turned into a bad drought year.
Worse was to follow, for in May the news came that Morris (now a lieutenant) had been killed in a brave but futile attempt to force the German lines in front of Reincourt. 'Maurice was ... the most fearless officer in the Battalion, he was exceeding his duty at the time, very typical of him', one of his fellow officers wrote to Will. The photo taken prior to the War shows Morris Drummond .
The three brothers had always been very close, with Morris and Will forming a close knit team providing support to both David and Bid (the brothers' pet name for their sister Ellie). Throughout the war Morris had written regularly to David; cheery letters full of details, such as descriptions of French farming methods, intended to interest the younger brother. However, they also gave a clear picture of the hardships and dangers associated with the war. In these circumstances, Drummond's reaction to the industrial trouble that broke out in New South Wales in the middle of 1917 can be understood.
In August 1917 a strike began in the Government Tramway workshops at Randwick. Starting over a relatively small cause - the introduction of a new system of job records (the 'card system') - the strike spread in spectacular fashion. Five weeks later 69,000 men were on strike, transport and industry had been paralysed in New South Wales, and the strike was spreading to other states. Many felt that the strike was politically motivated, aimed at the destruction of the State. The Industrial Workers of the World and the Irish were mainly responsible for the trouble, the Australian Prime Minister, William Morris Hughes, suggested to Lloyd George. Given such views, many reacted savagely to the strike, and readily answered the Government's call for volunteers to break it. Drummond would later conclude that the Government itself was to blame for the strike and for its aftermath, which embittered industrial relations for years to come. In his view, official blindness to growing opulence on one hand, and to the pressure of rising costs of living on the family man on the other, had driven decent men in their thousands into the ranks of the extremists. Nevertheless, he felt then and later that it was wrong to strike in war conditions and so joined with some 200 other volunteers from the Inverell district.
The men were housed in the showground buildings and taken from there to work each day. In Drummond's case this was at the docks, starting at 6.30 am. The men on the dock were generally young, fit and enthusiastic, taking pride in the volume of cargo they could shift. Although Drummond enjoyed the experience and was offered a permanent job, he was glad to return to the farm at the end of three weeks, for the growing drought was an ever-present worry. Although the sheep were placed on agistment for a period, by October 1918 sheep numbers were down from 1750 to less than 600. However, his biggest worries came from the dairy.
The development of new farms in the Inverell district was associated with a significant expansion of dairying. By introducing dairying the farmers were able, in theory at least, to gain an immediate cash flow to tide them over until their other farming operations generated income. Drummond had opposed this idea for Maxwelton on the ground that the property had insufficient fodder reserves, but the owners had insisted. The project began in drought, largely continued that way throughout, and then ended with the great flu epidemic in 1919, which left Drummond as the only fit man on the place. The maintenance of the dairy and other farming operations in these conditions proved impossible. Drummond drew a hard lesson from the experience: in his view, 'when a manager is convinced a policy is wrong he should refuse to carry it out and if necessary resign.'
Since Drummond depended on his share of the wheat crop for his income, the Maxwelton years had not been very successful financially. But they had been rewarding in other ways. After the trials of his early years, Drummond had now established a secure place for himself within his local community. He had also been able to maintain his reading, buying a set of 150 classics to add to the smaller collection given to him over the years by Will Drummond. To David Drummond, the reading he did during his Maxwelton period was particularly important, for it gave him 'a sound introduction to good English and a knowledge of the basic principles of sound administration.' Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, the Inverell years saw Drummond become involved in the community activities that helped form his political views and gave him his political base.
While working at Arding, Drummond had become involved with the Methodist Church. After moving to the Inverell district he became an active lay preacher within the Church. To make his preaching more effective, Drummond purchased books on public speaking and practised the various techniques in the paddocks around the house. He learnt to control his breathing, to throw his voice great distances, and developed a deep, sonorous delivery. These were important skills, for they made him an effective speaker at the open-air meetings that were a marked feature of the political life of the period.
Drummond's preaching brought him into contact with another lay preacher, Ernest Christian Sommerlad, a man who was to play an important role in his life. Sommerlad was four years older than Drummond, a serious-minded man who had originally trained for missionary work but who had then been forced to withdraw from this field because of ill-health. Since he had always enjoyed writing, Sommerlad decided to try journalism and in 1912 succeeded in obtaining a job with the Inverell Times. In 1913 Sommerlad took over the post of editor on the rival Inverell Argus. The Argus was already a bigger and better paper than the Times and under Sommerlad's influence it moved further ahead. In recognition of Sommerlad's growing reputation, John Sinclair of Waterloo Station, Glen Innes, suggested to him that he should buy the Glen Innes Examiner. Sommerlad could not afford it, so Sinclair organised a dozen 'backers' and in May 1918 Sommerlad became proprietor of the Examiner. From Drummond's view-point this proved to be an important move, for Sommerlad's Examiner would later give him crucial political support.
While Drummond's church activities widened his contacts and developed his public speaking, it was his involvement in farm politics that laid down the base for his future political career. Immediately after his arrival at Maxwelton in 1911 Drummond had joined the Oakwood Branch of the Farmers and Settlers' Association. The FSA - the Association was normally known just by its initials - was the main New South Wales farmer organisation. It had been formed in 1893 because of the dissatisfaction of many selectors over land tenure issues. The successful selectors wanted land for their sons, while those less favourably placed wanted state assistance to ease their financial burdens and increase their holdings. They saw the solution to their problems lying in combined action which would allow them to exert maximum pressure on the Sydney Government. Their initial efforts brought quick success: the FSA was able to make land reform a key issue at the 1894 elections. As a result, a new Crown Lands Act was passed in 1895 which met a number of farmer grievances. Following this success, the FSA broadened its approach to include other issues of concern to farmers, such as education and transport.
The FSA's formation coincided with the emergence of the Labor Party. At the beginning Labor drew considerable country support, particularly within the FSA, since many FSA members were small farmers who retained working class connections. At the 1895, 1901 and 1904 conferences there were unsuccessful moves to have the Association formally confer with the Political Labor League. The Association broke with Labor over that Party's support for leasehold tenure. Although many small farmers supported leasehold as a way of freeing land for settlement, opinion within the Association had moved strongly in the direction of freehold. In addition, many of the wealthier and more conservative members of the Association were opposed to Labor on other grounds. At the 1905 Conference, the main pro-Labor activists (J.L. Trefle and Thomas Brown) failed to secure re-election to the Executive. At the following Conference, Trefle and the other Labor supporters fought the Executive's frankly anti-Labor policy but lost vote after vote. As the Association became increasingly pro-Liberal and pro-freehold many pro-Labor farmers left. The Association responded with a series of recruiting campaigns which lifted the number of branches from ninety-five in 1906 to 373 in 1912. In doing so it reached a broad stratum of farmers, such as Drummond, who had not previously been involved politically. As a consequence, the direction of the Association was to change again.
Although the Association had swung away from Labor by the time Drummond joined it, given Drummond's experiences as a farm labourer and the existence of Labor support within the wheatlands, it is fair to ask why he did not join the Labor Party. Drummond himself attributed this to an early experience while shearing. He was asked to join the Australian Workers Union, declined, but agreed to take an annual subscription to its paper The Australian Worker. The paper totally alienated him:
.. for sheer gall & bitterness & downright class hatred the "Worker" at this period excelled anything I have read either then or later ... The constant theme was that the world consisted of two groups, i.e. employees or "wage slaves" and the rapacious heartless employers who ground them the "workers" & exploited them.
Drummond accepted that there 'was more than sufficient truth in the charges to provide some (much?) justification for the destructive and poisonous propaganda', but nothing would cause him
.. to accept the doctrine that society was divided into 2 classes & 2 only. I knew that in between there was a middle class of decent law abiding people, farmers, graziers, small shopkeepers, & to a certain extent professional men. They were either self employed or small employers but largely consisted of people who valued their independence and sought by hard work to build a secure place in society they could sustain .. To the solid core of the "middle class" the unprincipled exploiting greed of employers was as loathsome as the destructive ill-balanced doctrines of extreme unionism.
Drummond's explanation is interesting for a number of reasons. First, while rejecting the simple worker/capitalist model, it remains a class approach, dividing society as it does into three groups each with specific behaviour patterns. Further, in defining his middle class Drummond excludes groups - such as the remaining professionals - who would normally be classified as middle class: in essence the middle class constitutes the smaller men. In so doing Drummond - who also speaks of this group as the petit bourgeois of Communist doctrine - has come very close to what Ron Neale (in the context of early nineteenth century England) would later define as the 'middling' class:
.. petit bourgeois, aspiring professional men, other literates and artisans. Individuated or privatized like the middle class but collectively less deferential and more concerned to remove the privileges and authority of the upper class in which, without radical changes, they cannot realistically hope to share.
Drummond's family background, in terms of both his father's occupation and the Presbyterian influence, had a strong bias towards independence and hard work. His brothers had established themselves, and now it was David Drummond's turn 'by hard work to build a secure place in society.' Equally important, Drummond knew from his own experience that success was not certain, that economic circumstances could destroy these efforts. Hence his emphasis on 'sought' and 'they could sustain.' If the definition suited Drummond's history, it also fitted well his chosen occupation. Not only did the farmer lack the status attached to the grazier, he was also involved in an occupation that was individualised and in which the risk of failure was very real. In these circumstances the virtues of hard work and the desire for a secure place both had strong appeal. Equally, there was a strong resentment against those, such as the bankers and financiers - city capital - who could be seen to threaten the dream.
Drummond's experiences as a farm labourer influenced both his activities inside the FSA and his management practices. He considered that the wages and conditions for rural employees were greatly inferior to those received by urban employees and that, unless this were altered, the quality of the rural work force must decline. This was a sensitive issue, and Drummond therefore did not tackle it head on. Instead he began to argue within the FSA that the interests of the rural employer and his employee were indivisible: 'The right way to tackle the problem was not to depress the employee but to fight for better conditions of marketing and prices.' This would enable both the farmer and his employees Saturday afternoon off. This had quick repercussions. Drummond's near neighbour, Michael Brodie, with whom Drummond played tennis every Saturday afternoon, came across to see him.
"What is this you are doing Drummond? Alec (his ploughman) was working away on Saturday afternoon when your man Charlie came along. Alec asked him if he was sick? then Charlie told him his boss gave him every Saturday afternoon off. You know you can't do this Drummond. They will all be wanting it." I did not answer him directly but said I was sorry I could not join him at tennis last Saturday, and did he have a good game. His reply was they had a great time, I should have been there. At this stage I said. "Mick did it occur to you that your man might like a game of tennis too?"
Brodie took the point and never raised the question again. Indeed he and his wife remained Drummond's friends for life. At the same time Brodie was quite right: before long the Saturday half-holiday had become common practice.
Drummond's arguments were not particularly influential at the time, for he was still only a minor figure within the FSA. But he was developing the basic political views that he would hold for the remainder of his life. In doing so, he was also influenced by new ideas now emerging in country districts, for Drummond had arrived in Inverell at a time of economic and social transition. In Northern New South Wales, it was in fact the third broad period of change since white settlement.
Europeans had originally come to the North in two broad streams. In the inland, settlement moved from the newly settled areas in the Hunter up through the Western Slopes and the Northern Tablelands and then onto the Northern Rivers and the Moreton Bay district. On the coast, settlement went from river valley to river valley by sea. By 1850 a pastoral ascendancy had been established with large runs dominated by sheep, with cattle in the rougher country and on parts of the coast. Transport routes mirrored settlement patterns: on the coast shipping was dominant, whereas inland (at least from about Armidale south) the main routes ran overland to the river port at Morpeth in the Hunter. North of Armidale transport went south and also east over the rough escarpment for shipment by sea, largely from Grafton, which was the major river port.
These early transport and settlement patterns created enduring social and economic links. The Hunter Valley, Western Slopes and, to a lesser degree, the Northern Tablelands formed one embryonic unit. This overlapped with a second grouping consisting of the Tablelands and Northern Rivers. South of the Northern Rivers and the coastal zone had progressively less contact and fewer links with either the Tablelands or the Northern Rivers; by Taree the coastal orientation was exclusively south. The coming of the railways during the second half of the century strengthened the north-south axis (the inland grouping) at the expense of the east-west (the Northern Tablelands - Northern Rivers), but otherwise left the basic pattern unchanged. As we shall see, it was a pattern that was to be of importance both to David Drummond and to Northern history.
The 1850's saw a successful challenge to pastoral domination. The large pastoral leases blocked out those wishing to farm and led to demands that the land be unlocked. Their demands were supported by town interests, which recognised that the growth of their towns depended upon a rising population in the countryside, and by the miners who had come to the area as a consequence of the discovery of gold at places such as Hanging Rock (1851) and Rocky River (1852).
A marked feature of the period was the expansion of farming brought about by rising prices for wheat on export markets, the extension of the railways, and technological and organisational advances such as the development of the dairy factory. Dairy farming expanded dramatically, particularly on the coast and the Dorrigo plateau, while on the Western Slopes wheat acreage grew substantially. Only on the Tablelands, where farming had already reached the limits of suitable soil, does agriculture appear to have contracted.
This new agricultural expansion had a number of side effects. The pattern of settlement was significantly altered. New towns and villages such as Oakwood and Delungra emerged. New settlement increased the demand for social infrastructure such as schools and roads, while the dispersed nature of the settlement made it more difficult to meet such demands and as a consequence reinforced old transport and communications grievances. The new farming patterns also accentuated the economic and social differences between the different regions within the North. On the coast, the dominance of dairying with its fixed and demanding day-to-day, year-round routines meant that the farming population had less time to become involved in local activities. Average incomes in dairying were probably lower, and the number of wealthy farmers lower, than in other industries, which also worked to limit involvement in local activities. At the same time, the dairy farmer shared many of the ideas and images of the small farmers elsewhere and had least in common with the pastoralist.
The pattern on the Tablelands was completely different. By the mid eighties suitable farming land had been largely taken. Further, much of the Tableland country that could be farmed was in fact best suited to a mixed farming/grazing regime so that the successful selector inevitably became a pastoralist as well. Since the pastoralists were generally the most conservative section of the country community, the Tablelands also tended to be conservative. Further, status divisions on the Tablelands were also more apparent than elsewhere, reflecting the longer established nature of society.
The expansion of farming activities on the western edge of the Tablelands and on the Western Slopes was different again because of the dominance of the wheat farmer. Wheat growers were traditionally the most radical group within the country community. However, while they continued to be relatively radical, and thus modified within the country community the more conservative pastoral view, the newer settlements altered the previous pattern. Many of the new subdivisions were privately arranged and were taken up by established farmers, including some from outside the area. This, combined with the presence of already successful selectors, made the northern wheat fields more conservative than the southern.
The marked expansion of farm output in Northern New South Wales (and elsewhere in Australia) meant that a growing proportion of the crop, and particularly of wheat, had to be exported, which increasingly exposed producers to the vagaries of the export market. In turn this meant that farmers switched their attention from problems of land tenure to those of costs of production, marketing and price stabilisation. Farm groups began to discuss alternative solutions. In time, these discussions would lead many farmers to support free trade instead of protection as a way of keeping costs down. They would also lead many, including David Drummond, to support the concept of a country party.
The growth in Northern farming encouraged growth in certain Northern towns such as Lismore and Tamworth, but for many towns the eighties and nineties were periods of relative stagnation. The extension of the railway net may have made it easier to get produce out, but it also brought in cheaper manufactured goods which gradually destroyed the small local manufacturing industries such as boot and shoe factories and breweries. The end result was a sharp break in town growth, a break that helped replace optimism with gloom. Country stagnation was particularly marked when compared with the continued growth of Sydney.
From the start of the seventies, Sydney's share of the state population began to rise, from 27 per cent in 1871 to 30 per cent in 1881 to 35 per cent in 1891. Then, after a brief pause in the nineties, the proportion began to rise again, from 36 per cent in 1901 to 39 per cent in 1911. The reasons for this increase are complex. The combination of the growth in rural production and the centralisation of the rail net in Sydney was one important cause. The urban boom of the eighties, while not as pronounced in Sydney as in Melbourne, also aided the process because it allowed Sydney's growth to feed upon itself. Then federation brought a further factor into play, for it united economically disparate colonies into a common market sheltered by a common tariff-wall, a tariff-wall that had to be set at a level that took into account the interests of Victoria, the most highly protected of the colonies. As a consequence, the distribution of production and income throughout Australia changed; incomes were redistributed from the non-industrial to the industrial states and from country areas to the capital cities. Sydney's position was thus reinforced at the expense of the country districts who not only received few economic benefits from federation, but had also to pay higher prices for their manufactured goods.
Anti-Sydney feeling had been endemic in country areas for a long time. As early as the 1840's, the Maitland Mercury had complained about Sydney's disproportionate size and economic dominance. By 1880, the images of an oppressed country and a greedy city had been well established both in the North and in other country districts. 'The quality of our indictment against Sydney may be broadly summed up in one word - that word is misgovernment', an Inverell paper editorialised in 1879. 'Our revenue has been abstracted and spent either on the capital or elsewhere. The little of it that has been expended on us has only been what is necessary to keep up the show of our subjection.' In the decades of relative stagnation after 1880, this type of feeling intensified, steadily fuelled by the country press.
Anti-city feelings appealed to different groups in different ways. They probably appealed least to the pastoralist, who generally operated on a larger scale, was better educated and had established links with the city. By contrast, farmers were isolated and insecure, with only limited reserves to carry them if something went wrong. Not surprisingly, they developed systems of beliefs designed to explain their experiences and carry them through hard times. Central to these was a belief in the virtues of rural life as opposed to life in the town or city. Anti-city feelings fitted naturally into this mould, simply reinforcing views already held. The country town-dwellers did not necessarily share the farmers' view of the virtues of rural life, but in their case, anti-city feelings appealed as an explanation for their own town problems.
One particular feature of the development of anti-city feeling in Northern New South Wales was its link with agitation intended to separate the Northern districts from New South Wales. This agitation began in the 1840's with a movement first for union with the proposed Moreton Bay colony and then, after Queensland was established, for independence as a separate colony. The agitation subsided, but over the following decades there were half-a-dozen further separatist outbreaks of greater or lesser intensity. Even at Newcastle in the far south, some speakers at an 1888 protest meeting, called over the railway plans of the Sydney government, advocated separation. The move was rejected, but the newly formed North and North-western Decentralisation League subsequently proposed that the Colony should be divided into ten provincial districts, each entitled to a share of the national revenue.
The pattern of separatist agitation clearly reflected the broad economic zones discussed earlier. Apart from the one Newcastle example, separatist agitation was generally concentrated on the Tablelands and Northern Rivers, the area affected by the east-west shipping patterns. Further, the most popular proposed boundaries incorporated the coast north of the Manning River, the Tablelands, and the Western Slopes and Liverpool Plains; the Hunter Valley was generally excluded.
While there were regular separatist outbreaks, they did not result in a sustained campaign such as that maintained in North Queensland during the same period. However, by the end of the century a tradition of separatist agitation had been well established. This tradition was not to be drawn on in a move that marked the start of a long running separatist campaign.
The sense of country grievances was particularly strong in the Grafton area. The construction of the north-south inland railway had first damaged and then destroyed the traffic from the Tablelands and Slopes to the Grafton port. Attempts to gain a railway line from the Slopes and Tablelands to Grafton to help revive the trade had failed repeatedly. Grafton's sense of grievance associated with the destruction of its trade and the failure to gain an east-west rail link, was aggravated by the failure of attempts to gain a north-south coastal rail link, and by the failure of the Government over many years to take any action to remove the reef at the mouth of the Clarence, a reef that significantly hindered shipping.
The accumulating grievances came to a head early in 1915. The Minister of Public Works in the Holman Government, Arthur Griffith, decided to remove the free steam ferry Helen from the Grafton-South Grafton run. Since the Helen was the main means of transport between Grafton and South Grafton, on opposite banks of the Clarence River, this led to an indignant public reaction culminating in a public meeting in the Grafton Town Hall attended by about 250 people from both municipalities.
Although the meeting had been called to discuss the Helen incident, it changed character completely when Earle Page moved a motion suggesting that the time had now come for the North to consider separation, either alone or in connection with the southern portion of Queensland, and calling for the appointment of a committee to investigate the question and confer with other portions of the North Coast, Tablelands and Queensland. Page was then thirty-four. Born at Grafton, he had been educated first in the Clarence and then at Sydney High School before studying medicine at Sydney University. After a little over a year as house surgeon at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Page returned to the Clarence and quickly established a thriving practice together with a modern private hospital at South Grafton. Page's travels across his practice - it covered an area of some 16,000 square kilometres - gave him a detailed knowledge of the Northern Rivers district, of its potential and problems. By 1913, when he was elected to the South Grafton Municipal Council, he was well-known in his own area. Now, with the Helen incident, began a chain of events that was to throw Page into national prominence and help give particular form to Northern history and to David Drummond's life.
Page's separatist motion was carried unanimously. The committee then formed reported in April 1915. Its report, subsequently published as a pamphlet, detailed many of the arguments that were already and were to remain traditional in separatist propaganda. The central complaint was that the North was suffering because of the centralising policies of the Sydney Government; these had retarded the progress of the state in order that the artificial progress of Sydney might be maintained. Separation was the only way to halt this process. The report then went on to recommend that the new state should include the North Coast as far south as the Hastings Range south of Kempsey, the Northern Tablelands, the Liverpool Plains and Western Slopes, and a strip of the Western Plains as far west as Bourke.
The report was discussed at a large public meeting in Grafton on 29 April which decided unanimously in favour of separation and then formed a Northern New South Wales Separation League. The new League, with Earle Page and F. McGuren from Grafton and David Ritchie from Dorrigo as its chief propagandists, spread rapidly; by August there were twenty-two branches on the coast and an attempt was being made to extend the organisation inland. Towards the end of 1915, the new movement vanished as fast as it had risen, probably because of the growing impact of the war which took away its leaders, including Page himself. But by then it had revived and popularised separation as an idea.
Page returned to Grafton in June 1917. Before his departure, he had been interested in the possibility of developing hydro-electricity in the Clarence Valley, centred on an area known locally as the Gorge. Having investigated hydro plants overseas, he returned to the Clarence full of renewed enthusiasm for their possibilities. He had also developed the idea of combining all the councils in the Clarence into one big council able to carry out larger projects. He therefore set out to generate enthusiasm for hydro development. At the same time, he relaunched the campaign for subdivision in a major speech given on 13 August 1917 to a meeting of 150 delegates of the Australian Provincial Press in Brisbane.
Page's central argument in the speech was the need for unification, which he defined as the strengthening of the federal government 'in those fields of common significance throughout Australia' such as taxation, education and transport. The existing States, 'with all the pomp and paraphernalia', were a handicap both to the rural development and to the proper governing of Australia as a nation. They should be abolished and replaced by a larger number of smaller provincial governments which would be subordinate to the federal body but which would retain 'sufficient powers to carry out major works on a local front in co-operation with a national authority'. In essence, provinces 'whose outlines are determined solely by the lines of community of interests, big enough to attack national schemes in a large way, but small enough for every legislator to be thoroughly conversant with every portion of the area.' Page was thus advocating separation through unification, where the new provinces would have more limited powers than the existing states but still powers sufficient to carry out works such as his beloved Gorge scheme.
Although Page followed up his Brisbane speech with a series of further articles, the unification theme did not gather public support in the same way as separation had done previously. Page therefore varied his strategy. In April 1918, at a public dinner in Grafton in honour of the Premier, Mr W.A. Holman, Page delivered a major attack on the Government for its neglect of the Valley. The speech swept the audience before it. In response, the Premier provided a reasonably definite promise on the Clarence harbour works and also stated that the North Coast and Dorrigo railways were high on the Government's priority list.
As the war came to an end, and as Holman had apparently forgotten the promised railways and harbour facilities, local dissatisfaction rose again. In October 1918 a conference, attended by delegates from most of the coastal centres between Kempsey and the Queensland border, decided to form the North Coast Political and Development League (the word 'political' was later dropped from the name) to press for the development of the North Coast through major schemes of public works. The new League elected Page as President and also adopted the Gorge Scheme as a major objective.
With the formation of the North Coast Development League, Page took to the road advocating hydro-electricity and the virtues of the League. In April 1919, after initial successes on the coast and in Sydney, Page turned his attention to the Tablelands, speaking first at Inverell on the 6th and then at Glen Innes and Armidale on the following nights. His reception was enthusiastic, a sister North-West Development League was formed at Inverell, and by 10 April Page could report that 'the whole of the tableland [was] solidly with the coast pushing for the consummation of this big movement.
Drummond was one of the 300 people who packed the Inverell picture theatre at 3 pm on 6 April to listen to Page. Page was then at the height of his powers. He spoke for two and a half hours, pouring out a stream of facts, figures and ideas on the theme of the North's neglected assets and the need for their development. At the time the Inverell audience's reaction was best described by a local bank manager who told Page: 'I feel as though I had been hit on the head with a brick!' Drummond was just as impressed. From this time he came increasingly to idolise Page, regarding him as one of the greatest men he had ever met, and the man who provided the Country Party with its philosophy and sense of direction.
Page's campaign had limited tangible results. However, the enthusiasm he generated, and the organisations that developed as a consequence of this campaign, were laying the necessary groundwork for another, still bigger, campaign. During the 1915 separation campaign Victor Thompson, editor of the Tamworth Daily Observer, had promised Page that he would support the separation campaign once the war ended. Now he redeemed his promise.
Although born in Sydney, Thompson entered country journalism at eighteen and soon accepted country values and aspirations. He was twenty-six when appointed editor of the Observer in 1911. Thompson and the Observer had campaigned vigorously for the full implementation of the recommendations of the 1910-11 New South Wales Decentralisation Commission (established as a consequence of growing country opposition to centralisation) including the establishment of Port Stephens, north of Newcastle, as an overseas port. When this campaign failed to bring Government action Thompson, now convinced that separation was the only real answer to the North's problems, persuaded his directors that the paper should publish a series of articles in favour of new states. The 1919 influenza epidemic delayed publication until January 1920, but by then conditions were ready for an immediate public response. Returned soldiers were discontented with local conditions, the campaigns of the North Coast and North West Development Leagues had highlighted the issues involved, while the serious 1919 drought had also intensified discontent.
Thompson began his campaign on 5 January 1920 with an editorial arguing that a new outlook was necessary if country stagnation was to be overcome. Over the next eleven issues he published a series of articles calling for the establishment of a new state in northern New South Wales. The Thompson proposal was very similar to the earlier Page proposal except for the boundaries. The southern boundary of the Grafton scheme, lying between Kempsey and Port Macquarie, did not appeal to Thompson who believed that the boundary should be further south so as to include the whole railway net from Newcastle. Although this boundary difference was to cause trouble later, for the present the Thompson articles generated considerable popular support. This support resulted in the formation of an organised separation movement. It also benefited Drummond, who was by then actively involved in the formation of a new political party.
There was one aspect of Page's Inverell message that particularly appealed to Drummond, for Page had argued strongly 'the utter futility of expecting any constructive action from the existing Nationalist and Labor Parties. Country men were needed to represent Country People and their industries in all Parliaments'. This message reflected moves already going on in the countryside for the formation of a new political party that could better represent country people.
The proposal to form a country party for country people had a long and chequered history. The need for better country representation had long been accepted in country areas, particularly among farmers, but there was no agreement as to the best way of achieving this objective. The result was a period of experimentation and change. In 1892, 1902 and 1913 'Country Parties' had been formed by parliamentarians within the existing parties to represent country interests, but each had failed and disbanded quickly. Then in 1917 two embryo country parties emerged in 'Uncle Wiseman's' Country Party, sponsored by J.S. Stephen the editor of the Farmer and Settler, and in G.S. Beeby's Progressive Party, though neither was immediately successful.
As the main farmer organisation in New South Wales, the FSA was deeply involved with this period of experimentation. Originally non-party political in approach - the 1902 Conference had rejected a motion of support for the Parliamentary Country Party formed that year - by 1905 opinion had changed sufficiently for its Conference to pass a motion providing for the selection of FSA candidates. Thereafter the supporters of independent action lost ground, and the re-grouping of the non-Labor forces to form the Liberal Party resulted in the Association entering into informal alliance with the Liberals. By 1904 this alliance was strong enough for the Association to call for 'a strong Liberal Party ... as a means of building up a united, loyal and contented community.'
Notwithstanding this call, support for independent action growing. The recruitment campaign launched by the FSA to build up its strength after the loss in members associated with the withdrawal of Labor supporters from the Association, was by now bringing in many small farmers such as Drummond, who were uncommitted or opposed to the Liberal party. From the 1913 Conference those supporting independent action were clearly in the majority, although there was also still majority support for that action to include some form of electoral alliance between Association candidates and the Liberal Party.
After a series of abortive moves towards independent action, the Association decided in 1915 to form an alliance with G.S. Beeby, who had formed his Progressive Party in 1913. A 'Progressive Party' platform was adopted and a Political Executive Committee formed. In the short term this move, too, proved abortive. With the split in the Labor Party, and the subsequent formation of the National party, Beeby and the Progressives were effectively absorbed back into the National Party.
In November 1918 the Premier, W.A. Holman, introduced one of the Progressives' platform measures, proportional representation, with five-member city constituencies and three-member country ones. This decision drastically changed the political outlook. Many country people had opposed the idea of a country party because of the fear of splitting the non-Labor vote. Their fear was now removed, for the new system allowed surplus country votes to be distributed to the Nationalists and vice-versa. There was, in fact, nothing to be gained by having a limited number of non-Labor candidates. With the risk of splitting the anti-Labor vote removed, the FSA declared in March 1919 that it would run its own candidates at the following election. The following September the Conference instructed the Association's executive to open discussions with all other party primary producer bodies about uniting 'in one political body known as the Country Party to secure representation in the next Parliament.' Beeby had also now broken with the Nationalists, including T.J. Ley and T.R. Bavin. Discussions began between the various groups, culminating in the reformation in October of the Progressive Party as an amalgam primarily of the FSA, the Graziers' Association, and the Beeby group.
The inclusion of the Graziers' Association represented a significant change in the balance of forces within the countryside. Originally called the Pastoralists' Union, the Association had been formed by the large pastoralists as a response to the industrial troubles of the 1890's. The 'old and exclusive' Union, to use Drummond's description, had later been joined by an increasing number of relatively prosperous mixed farmers, the same group that had helped make the relatively radical FSA more conservative, a tendency that was later accentuated by the adoption of a rule that ten shillings per annum would be the minimum membership fee, a rule that made it easier for the small man to join. Partly as a consequence of changing membership, the Union changed its name in 1916 to the Graziers' Association and broadened its objectives from the purely industrial to include political aims. In turn, this change allowed the Graziers' Association to join with the FSA in the formation of the Progressive Party. This was not a whole-hearted choice on the part of the Graziers' Association; in Drummond's judgement, it was made despite 'the fact that from the outset the Graziers' Executive clung to the old political affiliations.' In time, the continued loyalty of the Graziers' Association to old allegiances would create problems. In the meantime, the alliance was an important one, for it joined the FSA's large membership and extensive branch structure with the Graziers' Association's financial resources, including its Special Fund established in 1916 to fund political campaigns.
David Drummond's experiences reflected the growing farmer involvement in politics, for by 1913 his involvement with the FSA had translated itself into direct involvement in politics. During the Federal Election campaign in May that year, Drummond chaired two meetings for the Liberal candidate for Gwydir, a party organiser sent up for the purpose from Sydney. He found the candidate unimpressive:
.. a more colourless individual I have yet to-meet. He read exactly the same speech from about 3 foolscap sheets of typed script, paused at exactly the same place for dutiful applause and, like the famous baby which spoke when six days old, when asked a question "said exactly nothing."
Drummond, enraged that 'in this great rural electorate the Liberal organisation could not find one person in the area to ably demand tardy justice for the primary producer', promptly cast the first vote of his life for the successful Labor candidate William Webster. Later that same year Drummond was also involved in the successful combined FSA - Liberal campaign for J.T. Crane for the State seat of Gwydir.
Early in 1918 Drummond was invited one Sunday to the home of a farmer near Oakwood. 'To my surprise I was met there by a deputation which invited me to nominate for the next State Elections.' Drummond, feeling that he was not prepared, declined the offer. However, in the following year, with the announcement of the formation of the Progressive Party and a request by the FSA executive to branches to look for suitable candidates, Drummond received another offer. One Sunday he delivered the sermon at the Church on Thomas Browning's property at Arrawatta. Ray Doolin, an Inverell stock and station agent, was a member of the congregation.
We were looking for new candidates ..., young men for preference .. I was so impressed with his earnest delivery and voice, I said to Bowling, "Dave is one of the candidates we are looking for." Next day I got a few together, Tom Bowling, R.J. Higgins, A. Macfadden, and went out to the farm. Drummond was working on shares ... He was very surprised and said he would give us an answer after he discussed it with Farmers and Settlers members and his friend Arthur Cosh.
A few days later, after talking to Cosh, Drummond said he would stand and then accepted nomination from the Mt. Russell Branch of the FSA.
In late October, farmers and graziers formed a Northern Tableland Progressive Electoral Council at Glen Innes, followed by a further meeting on 4 November which was convened and addressed by Arthur Trethowan, the President of the FSA. Trethowan provided details of the new party and suggested that its object was 'to secure direct country representation in the Federal and State Parliaments'. However, the meeting found that they may have had a name but they certainly had no political organisation to put this object into effect. It was therefore decided to ask Drummond to take on the position of electorate organiser. He agreed to do so on two conditions:
First that my acceptance would not invalidate my right to be a candidate. When I had received their assurance that I would still be eligible to contest at the elections, my next condition was that I would accept no payment for my services apart from out of pocket expenses.
The first of these conditions was later to be of crucial importance.
The electoral climate was right for the Progressives. They represented the new ideas and beliefs in the countryside at a time when their main rivals, the Nationalists, were in disarray. Despite visits by Holman and Archdale Parkhill, Alfred Purkiss, the secretary of the Armidale Branch of the Nationalists, was forced to admit in mid-November that 'half the active Nationalists look as if they will go over to the ranks of the Progressive Party'.
Drummond threw himself into the organising campaign. During the first six weeks he covered all the Tablelands except for Tenterfield, meeting with considerable success except in Armidale where ill-health (he had badly overtired himself) led to the failure of the first organising attempt. He returned to Armidale on Saturday 24 January 1920, and this time successfully formed a branch. He also met R.N. Hickson, a local architect and former New South Wales cricketer, who was to be his electoral secretary and a key supporter for forty years.
Drummond's speech at the second Armidale meeting was typical of his message. The National Party, he told his audience, 'was controlled purely by vested city interests and the Labor Party by the industrial interests of Sydney.' Since Parliament was controlled by city interests supported by the city press, the country had been neglected. Further, the pre-selection systems used by those city parties had degraded government and politics. The only solution was a party that represented country interests, that would provide cross country railways and ports, and stop the drift to the city. Drummond summarised the Party's policy as 'decentralization, development and decent government.'
With the organising campaign well under way, the Progressive's Electorate Council met at Glen Innes early in the year to consider candidates. In addition to Drummond, seven nominations had been received from the branches: M.F. Bruxner (grazier and stock and station agent of Tenterfield); J.S. Crapp (grazier of Uralla); F.B. Fleming (grazier of Moree); P.R. Little (grazier and storekeeper of Bundarra); G.B. Ring (financial agent of Inverell); George Codrington (journalist of Inverell); and A. Piggot (orchadist and farmer of Inverell).
The meeting was to be a very difficult one for Drummond. The Progressives, consistent with their slogan 'No pre-selection or pledge' were strongly opposed to any form of pre-selection of candidates. At the same time, only two candidates could hope to be successful in the three member electorate (Labor was assured of the third seat), while there were also financial problems associated with large numbers of candidates. An immediate move was made to reduce the number of candidates by excluding Drummond:
It was apparent from the outset that the other candidates ... with perhaps two exceptions ... [felt] that I had had a flying start and ... must be excluded.
It was to avoid just this possibility that Drummond had gained the assurances from the president and secretary of the Council that his organising work would not invalidate his candidature, and he refused to budge.
The Council then packed the candidates off to the Municipal Council Chambers to debate who should withdraw. Just before lunch it was proposed that the candidates should have a ballot among themselves to select the three or four most likely to succeed. Drummond rejected this: he politely told the group that he had been invited to run, was correctly nominated, and until his Committee asked him to withdraw 'there was nothing doing'. Immediately after lunch the candidates, with Drummond dissenting, asked the Electorate Council to indicate which four were most likely to succeed. The Chairman, Colonel H.F. White, 'one of the most likeable and sterling characters' Drummond had met, refused on the grounds that 'it would be really pre-election selection which they had come into existence as a Party to destroy'. The candidates thereupon returned to the Council Chambers.
By now the pressure was intense. 'We are getting nowhere', one candidate told the group angrily, 'Drummond is a beggar to argue'. As a number of candidates needed to catch the 5 pm southbound 'Glen Innes Mail', the proposal was made that they should hold a ballot among themselves to select the most likely four, but that the result should not bind Drummond. Drummond, 'heartily sick of playing a lone hand all-day', agreed, as did Council Chairman White. One candidate, Fleming, withdrew, leaving seven candidates in the ballot.
In the vote that followed, Drummond, with three votes, was fifth, with Bruxner (seven votes), Crapp (five votes), Little (four votes) and Ring (four votes) making up the successful four. When Drummond caught the south-bound 'Glen Innes Mail' that night for Uralla (Pearl and the children were staying at nearby Arding) he realized that publication of the ballot result must damage his changes. There was to be an FSA District Council meeting at Inverell next day, and he therefore decided to return to Inverell in the morning to get the Council's endorsement for his action. That decision changed his life for waiting on the Uralla platform next morning for the north-bound train he
.. met a farmer who casually remarked "All the other candidates are going down to meet Central Council tomorrow. I suppose you will be going". In a flash I replied just as casually "Yes I will be going" though it was the first I knew of it.
In some ways this deliberate attempt to exclude Drummond from the field is not surprising. To the party officials he would almost certainly not have appeared a good candidate, despite the organising abilities already displayed in the pre-election campaign. He was young, turning thirty the next month; very deaf (and adequate hearing aids were still some years off); relatively unknown outside his own district and a non-smoker and non-drinker lacking in easy social graces. Equally, Drummond's stubbornness at Glen Innes would certainly not have endeared him to the other candidates or their supporters. However, this stubbornness now came to his aid again. He reacted to the news immediately. He calculated that he just had time to travel to Inverell as planned: north by train to Glen Innes then sixty-eight kilometres across country, get a letter from his District Council stating that they still regarded him as a properly endorsed candidate, then get back to Glen Innes to catch the 5 pm south-bound train.
Next morning Drummond presented himself at the FSA's Sydney headquarters where the Party's Central Council was to meet. The Party's General Secretary (J.J. Price, also General Secretary of the FSA) tried very hard to convince Drummond that he should withdraw. Drummond refused, produced the Inverell District Council letter, and was asked to wait. From where he was sitting he faced the lift.
At that moment one of the chosen 4 at the GI meeting stepped from the lift. I have often heard the expression "So & So was so surprised he literally tripped over his own feet". This was the only occasion on which I have ever seen it. I had been deliberately barred ... from information that the Central C'ncl would interview candidates that morning and here I was calmly sitting outside the Council room when I was supposed to be 400 miles away in the peaceful countryside.
While waiting his turn to speak to the Council, Drummond decided on his approach. He would 'pull no punches' and therefore delivered a vigorous speech finishing with a final shot that reflected both the divisions in the countryside and Drummond's own position as a small farmer:
You claim to be a Farmer's Party yet every attempt has been made to prevent the one bona-fide farmer from being endorsed as a candidate. At present your team consists of two Graziers, a store keeper & a money lender. If you think with this team you are going to beat the Labor Party which has one if not two genuine Farmers in its team, then I believe you will find yourself badly mistaken.
The appeal was successful. Next day it was announced that Bruxner, Crapp, Little and Drummond were the endorsed Progressive candidates. Later F.J. Thomas, the retiring Nationalist member for the old seat of Gough, was also endorsed when he switched from the Nationalists to the Progressives.
The North's ill-defined boundaries make population estimates difficult. In 1924 the North's population, based on 1921 census data and excluding the lower Hunter but including a greater proportion of the western area, was estimated at 359,000. (Report of the Royal Commission Of Inquiry into Proposals for the Establishment of a New State or New States, formed wholly or in part out of the present territory of the State of New South Wales, Government Printer, Sydney, 1925, p.19.) Adjusting this figure downwards by deleting the population growth in the main Northern towns (ex lower Hunter) during the period 1911 to 1921 (6,000), and then adding the lower Hunter main town population in 1911 (76,000), gives a Northern population estimate for 1911 of about 429,000; in these circumstances 400,000 for 1907 seems a reasonable population approximation. New South Wales as a whole had a population of 1.4 million at the 1901 census and 1.6 million at the 1911 Census. Population figures are taken from: Official Year Book of New South Wales, No. 56, Government Printer, Sydney, 1959, pp.65-66; R. Ward, A Nation For A Continent: the history of Australia 1901-1975, Heinemann Educational Australia, Richmond, 1977, p.446.
The description of life in the North contained in the following paragraphs has been compiled from a variety of sources. A detailed list is set out in the bibliography; the following references are some of the main ones. For autobiographical accounts see: R.J. Doolin, A Boy From The Bush Goes To Town, Published by the author, North Star, 1973; A.E. Cosh, Jumping Kangaroos, Devill Publicity, Armidale, 1978; P.A. Wright, Memories of a Bushwacker, University of New England, Armidale, 1971; and E.C.G. Page, Truant Surgeon: The Inside Story of Forty Years of Australian Political Life, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1963. For a description of life in a smaller settlement see B.L. Cameron and J.L. McLennan, "Scots' Corner": A Local History, B.L. Cameron, Armidale, 1971. H. Brown's Tin at Tingha, Brown, Armidale, 1982, deals with life in one of the mining towns, while E. Wiedemann's World of its Own: Inverell's Early Years 1827-1920, Devill Publicity, Inverell, 1981, deals with life in a larger urban centre. N. Braithwaite and H. Beard (eds.), Pioneering in the Bellinger Valley, "The Bellinger Courier-Sun", Belligen, 1978, give a particularly vivid feel for life on a portion of the coast. J.C. Docherty, 'The Second City. Social and Urban Change in Newcastle, New South Wales 1900-C1929', PhD thesis, Australian National University, 1977, provides an interesting analysis of Newcastle.
The figures in this and the next sentence are drawn from: D.A. Aitkin, The Country Party in New South Wales. A Study of Organisation and Survival, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1972, p.5. Since Aitkin's figures are mainly drawn from the 1921 census, they probably understate rural populations for the pre-war period.
From 'South Of My Days', J. Wright, Collected Poems: 1942-1970, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1975, p.20.
This paragraph is drawn from: L. Gilbert (with E.S. Elphick, D. Rose and D. Hope), An Armidale Album: Glimpses of Armidale's History and Development in Word, Sketch and Photograph, New England Regional Art Museum Association, Armidale, 1982. Unless otherwise cited, material on Drummond in this chapter is drawn from DM, p.184ff.
The material in this paragraph is largely drawn from the only known surviving letter between David and Martha, dated 1 November 1909. Original in FP.
The rise, and fall, of the wheat industry (and of other Tableland industries) is outlined in D.M. Long, 'A History of the New England Region in the Nineteenth Century', MA thesis, Sydney University (New England University College), 1950. See also: G.S. Harman, 'New England and Armidale Politics 1891-1898. An Examination of the New England and Armidale Electorates to View Political Activity on the Local Level and to observe what Light is Thrown on N.S.W. Politics During the Eighteen Nineties', BA (Hons) thesis, University of New England, 1959, p.12ff; G.S. Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level - A study in Armidale and New England, 1899 to 1929', MA (Hons) thesis, University of New England, 1964, p.17ff.
Interview with Mrs Morris, 1 October 1982. DM, p.22.
Unless otherwise cited, the material on the Inverell period (including the quotations) in this and the following paragraphs is drawn from DM, p.22ff, and from E. Wiedemann, World of its Own.
Wheat fetched much less than wool per ton, so transport costs had a far greater impact.
The wedding certificate is in FP.
Interview with A.E. Cosh, 24 June 1982.
Interview with Mrs Morris, 1 October 1982.
From pamphlet entitled The Inverell District Exhibit competes under the auspices of the Inverell P. and A. Association by whose direction this booklet is issued 1914, p.20. A copy of the pamphlet is in Mr A.E. Cosh's possession.
Interview with Mrs Morris, 1 October 1982.
Interview with A.E. Cosh, 24 June 1982.
Cosh, Jumping Kangaroos, p.46.
The Australian Army's Central Records Office (CARO) provided enlistments details for Will and Morris Drummond. (CARO to author, 5 February 1982.)
Copy in FP.
Morris to David, 7 August 1915. In FP.
Interview with Mrs Morris, 1 October 1982.
This incident is described in C.E.W. Bean, 'The Australian Imperial Force In France 1917', Volume IV, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1933, Note 88, page 456.
Lt. Jim Harrison to William Drummond, 6 May 1917. In FP.
I. Turner, Industrial Labour and Politics. The Dynamics of the Labour Movement in Eastern Australia 1900-1921, Australian National University, Canberra, 1965, p.139ff.
L.F. Fitzhardinge, The Little Digger 1914-1952. William Morris Hughes. A Political Biography, Vol.11, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1979, pp.275-277.
Wiedemann, World of its Own, p.209ff describes the introduction of dairying into the Inverell district. Drummond's reactions, including the quotation, are drawn from DM, p.33.
Or so Drummond told the writer. The books are in the writer's collection.
The material on E.C. Sommerlad is drawn from: E.C. Sommerlad, Mightier than the Sword: A Handbook on Journalism, Broadcasting, Public Relations and Advertising, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1950; D.J.R. Sommerlad, 'D.H. Drummond: Parliamentarian and Pressman', Armidale and District Historical Society Journal and Proceedings, No.22, March 1979, pp.43-52; Wiedemann, World of its Own, p.197.
The general material on the FSA is drawn from: W.A. Bayley, History of the Farmers and Settlers' Association of N.S.W., The Association, Sydney, 1957; M.C. Fisher, 'Land Legislation in New South Wales 1895-1913: The Necessary Condition for the expansion of the Wheat Industry', Litt B thesis, University of New England, 1969; B.D. Graham, The Formation of the Australian Country Parties, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1966; and U.R. Ellis, The Country Party: A Political and Social History of the Party in New South Wales, F.W. Cheshire, Melbourne, 1958.
Graham, Formation of the Australian Country Parties, pp.55-65, p.75ff.
This and the following quotations are taken from DM, pp.41-42.
R.S. Neale, Class and Ideology in the Nineteenth Century, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1972, p.30.
This material taken from DM, p.29ff unless otherwise cited.
In December 1911, the Rural Workers' Union sent out a circular letter requesting employers of agricultural and dairy workers to agree to a log of claims, stating that if they did not, an application for an award would be made to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Although this effort failed when the Australian workers' Union refused to back the Rural Workers' Union, the FSA had in the meantime taken the issue up as a representative of the employers. Consequently, to some degree at least, Drummond's arguments ran against the official line of the FSA. Graham, Formation of the Australian Country Parties, p.77.
As pointed out in the introduction, the history of Northern New South Wales has still to be written. The summary of nineteenth century history presented in the following paragraphs is a first synthesis drawn from a wide range of references. There are too many of these to list in a single footnote; for source details the reader should consult the bibliography, particularly the sections on Northern history and the Country movements.
The analysis that follows of the development of anti-city feeling draws heavily from Aitkin's account in The Country Party in New South Wales, pp.1-20. It differs from Aitkin in two important respects: first, that anti-city views were well established far earlier than he suggests and secondly, that Aitkin does not take into account the indirect impact of Federation in the further intensification of country grievances.
The statistical material in this and the next sentence is taken from: W.A. Sinclair, The Process of Economic Development in Australia, Cheshire, Melbourne, 1976, pp.108 and 140; and Ward, A Nation For A Continent, pp.446-447.
A simple analysis of the costs and benefits of customs unions can be found in: J.D. Belshaw and N. Benjamin, 'Pacific Trade Liberalisation: Prospects for Australia', Bureau of Industry Economics Discussion Paper, March 1983, pp.6-21. This paper is presently classified, but a copy of the relevant section can be supplied on request. The paper is being modified for publication.
Material on the growth of anti-city feeling is drawn from: J.R. Linge, Australian Awakening: A Geography of Australian Manufacturing 1788 to 1890, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1979; R.W. Birch, 'The New State Movement in Northern New South Wales', BA (Hons) thesis, Sydney University (New England University College), 1947; M.A. McDonald, 'The Great Northern Railway in the New England Pastoral district 1867-1890, BA (Hons) thesis, Sydney University (New England University College), 1954; I.M. Lazlo, 'Railway Policies and Development in Northern New South Wales 1846-1889', MA thesis, University of New England, 1956; and R.L. O'Hara, 'The Influence of the Moreton Bay Separation Movement in New England and the Clarence 1850-1862', BA (Hons) thesis, University of New England, 1967.
Cited by J. Linge, Industrial Awakening, p.117.
Glen Innes Examiner, 22 July, quoting the Inverell press. Cited M.A. McDonald, 'The Great Northern Railway', p.122.
Material in this paragraph is drawn from: Aitkin, The New South Wales Country Party, pp.1-20; G.S. Harman, 'Graziers in Politics: The Pressure Group Behaviour of the Graziers' Association of New South Wales', PhD thesis, Australian National University, 1968; and Graham, Formation of the Australian Country Parties.
For material on Northern nineteenth century separatist agitation see: U.R. Ellis, New Australian States, The Endeavour Press, Sydney, 1933; D.M. Long, 'A History of the New England Region in the Nineteenth Century'; S.C. Caldwell, 'New England Politics 1856-1865. An Examination of the Electorate of New England Constituencies which throws some light on New South Wales Politics during the First Decade of Responsible Government', BA (Hons) thesis, University of New England, 1958; E.R. Woolmington, 'The Geographical Scope of Support for the New State Movement in Northern New South Wales', PhD thesis, University of New England, 1966; R.L. O'Hara, 'The Influence of the Moreton Bay Separation Movement in New England and the Clarence', Armidale and District Historical Society Journal and Proceedings, No.11, December 1968; pp.2-19; G.J.R. Ling, Industrial Awakening; and E.J. Tapp, 'The Colonial Origins of the New England New State Movement', Royal Australian Historical Society Journal, Vol.49, p.13, November 1963, pp.205-221. References on other nineteenth century separatist agitations include: Ellis, ibid; B. Kennedy, 'Regionalism and Nationalism: Broken Hill in the 1880s', Australian Economic Review, Volume XX, No.1, March 1980, pp.64-76; and C. Doran, Separatism in Townsville, 1844 to 1894: 'We should Govern Ourselves', Studies in North Queensland History No.4, History Department, James Cook University of North Queensland, Townsville, 1981, and 'North Queensland Separatism in the nineteenth century', PhD thesis, James Cook University of North Queensland, Townsville, 1982.
Unless otherwise cited, the material that follows on the Grafton based separatists of 1915-1919 is drawn from: J.B. O'Hara, 'The Entry into Public Life of Sir Earle Christmas Grafton Page (1915-1921)', BA (Hons) thesis, University of New England, 1969. For a published version of O'Hara's views see 'A Doctor in the House: Earle Page 1915-1920', Armidale and District Historical Society, Journal and Proceedings, No.14, April 1971, pp.87-99.
A British engineer, Sir John Coode, brought to Australia in the 1880's to examine N.S.W. ports, had suggested the blowing up of the reef and the extension of two breakwaters. At first Coode's plan was rejected by the Parliamentary Public Works Committee on the casting vote of the chairman, but after further agitation from the Clarence was approved by the Committee. Arthur Griffith (the Minister for Public Works) then vetoed the scheme, and suggested another of his own. The uncertainty was obviously frustrating to those concerned with river transport. J.B. O'Hara, 'Entry into Public Life', pp.16-17.
Detail on Page's early life is drawn from J.B. O'Hara, 'A Doctor in the House', and Page, Truant Surgeon, pp.1-49.
A New State: Proposed Separation of Northern New South Wales. The Case for Separation, Examiner Print, Grafton, 1915.
In addition to material from J.B. O'Hara, 'Entry into Public Life', p.7, this paragraph draws from U.R. Ellis, New Australian States, pp.80-81.
Details of the speech are taken from J.B. O'Hara 'Entry into Public Life', p.45ff.
Daily Examiner, 11 April 1919. Cited J.B. O'Hara, 'Entry into Public Life', p.65.
Material on Page and the Inverell meeting is taken from DM, pp.55-56.
Details of Thompson and his campaign can be found in Ellis, New Australian States, p.151ff; Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level'; G. Harman, 'New State Agitation in Northern New South Wales, 1920-1929', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol.63, pt.1, June 1977, pp.26-39; E. Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation, after 1901, for the Establishment of a New State in Northern New South Wales', MA thesis, Sydney University (New England University College), 1953. The following paragraphs draw particularly heavily from Harman and Ellis.
There was at least some outside pressure on the Observer. Doolin (A Boy from the Bush, p.100) records that he wrote a new state letter to the Observer which it declined to publish at that point because the directors had not decided their policy on the issue.
DM, p.56. The material on the early history of the New South Wales Country party is drawn from: B.D. Graham, Formation of the Australian Country Parties; U.R. Ellis, The Country Party: A Political and Social History of the Party in New South Wales, F.W. Cheshire, Melbourne, 1958; B.D. Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties from their Origins until 1929', PhD thesis, Australian National University, 1958.
Cited Ellis, New South Wales Country Party, p.25.
Cited Graham, Formation of The Australian Country Parties, p.121.
DM, p.45. This material on the Graziers' Association is generally taken from DM, p.45ff.
The material in this paragraph is drawn from DM, pp.47-8. The candidate was J.E. Blackney.
Doolin, A Boy From The Bush, p.103.
Cosh, Jumping Kangaroos, p.55.
The material on the formation of the Council is, unless otherwise cited, drawn from Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level, pp.352-353, 356. Drummond (DM, p.56-57) refers only to the first meeting.
Armidale Chronicle, 5 November 1914. Cited Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level', p.352.
DM, p.57. Drummond recalls that he was offered the position at the October meeting. However, Harman ('Politics at the Electoral Level', pp.356-357) suggests that it was at the second meeting.
Armidale Express, 18 November 1918. Cited Harman, ibid, p.357.
The material on the second Armidale meeting is drawn from Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level', p.357, who in turn draws from the Armidale Express, 27 January 1920. For a summary of similar speech by Drummond in Tenterfield see: D.A. Aitkin, The Colonel: A Political Biography of Sir Michael Bruxner, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1969, p.35.
Material on the Glen Innes meeting is drawn from Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level', p.360; Aitkin The Colonel, p.36; DM p.58ff.
42Drummond (DM, pp.59-60) records the first point but does not mention the financial problem. This is mentioned in Harman ('Politics at the Electoral Level', p.360) citing the Armidale Express, 23 January 1920.
DM, p.59. All the material in the following paragraphs is drawn from DM, pp.59-63.
In accepting the candidates' decision White remarked 'that what the Candidates agreed to was their business but the El. Council would not act to force any candidate out.' DM, p.60.
Drummond was certainly correct in this judgement. Aitkin's account (The Colonel, footnote p.36) mirrors the confusion that followed: 'The Tenterfield Star, 15 January 1920, talked of six candidates going before the Glen Innes conference ... and later (12 February 1920) reported that the Inverell Times had claimed that the candidates had balloted among themselves to reduce their number and that the Glen Innes Guardian denied that there had been a ballot. H.F. White, in a letter to the author (15 May 1960), remembers that Drummond was not at first endorsed, an account which appears to square with that of the Inverell Times (which did not list Drummond as one of the endorsed candidates), ... However, Drummond is listed as a Progressive in newspaper election reports.'