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.
Drummond had won the first round, but his election was by no means assured. Under the multi-member proportional representation system being tried for the first time, three members were to be elected. Drummond considered, accurately, that the Labor vote would be disciplined and that their number one candidate, Australian Workers' Union organiser Alfred McClelland, would certainly be elected first. He also considered, again accurately, that Colonel M.F. Bruxner, the Progressives' star candidate, would be elected next. Bruxner was then thirty-eight. Deservedly popular, he had a fine war record, was a member of an old grazing family and a grazier and stock and station agent himself, was a noted amateur rider at picnic races and had a friendly, out-going personality. Bruxner's assured success left Drummond contending for third place against a galaxy of candidates, including two sitting members, F.J. Thomas and H.W. Lane, the Nationalist member for Armidale.
This was difficult enough. In addition, however, each Progressive candidate had to organise his own campaign committee and pay for his own personal expenses including publicity, printing, advertising and travel. The Central Council, which was short of funds, would pay only for general party advertising and for rent of halls when authorised by the District Councils. This created no problems for the wealthy and popular Bruxner, but for the still poor and struggling Drummond it was another matter. Although his campaign committee numbered thirty, no less than twenty-nine were from the Inverell district. The Drummond campaign organisation was described by a local stock inspector as 'one newspaper and a handful of cockies'.
They may only have been 'a handful of cockies' but their loyalty and work were vital. The support given by Drummond's old friends from Mt. Russell, the Coshs, was particularly important. Leonard Cosh appointed himself Drummond's advance agent and political secretary. He was supported fully by his brother Arthur. Their uncle, Stephen Cosh, provided transport. Stephen Cosh had recently lost his wife and, when advised by his doctor to go away on a trip, bought a large car with a camping body intending to take his daughter on a tour of Western Australia. The daughter's appendicitis forced the trip's cancellation, and Stephen Cosh then offered to drive Drummond around the electorate free of charge 'except for petrol and a tyre or two'. He stipulated, however, that he would not stay in hotels because of his nervous condition.
To Drummond, who had a store of inexhaustible energy and a powerful voice but little money, this offer was a Godsend. Their normal practice was to move from meeting to meeting, up to ten in a single day. Drummond would usually speak in the open air (during the whole campaign he only spoke in halls three times including his campaign opening in the Inverell Town Hall) then adjourn to a room with his local committee to sign scrutineer and other forms and lay out the plan of organisation. After the meetings were finished, he and Stephen would retire, often as late as 1 am, to a quiet place in the countryside to spend the night. The travellers had always to be ready for the unexpected. Drummond arrived at Ashford one night to find the whole village in darkness, for the circus was in town and the whole countryside was at it. Since there was no chance of coming back Drummond asked the manager if he could speak at half-time. The manager responded dubiously, 'that if I could stand it he supposed he could.'
As soon as half time was announced I bounded into the Ring with a small wooden box. "Ladies & Gentlemen. My name is David Drummond Progressive Candidate at the forthcoming State Election. Take a good look at me and make up your mind what you think of me. Vote Drummond No. 1". Then I grabbed the box and made a fast exit before the bottles etc. began to fly. That the shortest political speech I ever made.
Considering that the other Progressive candidates would concentrate first on the towns, Drummond elected to concentrate on the country districts. In those days, before radio and television, politicians could still attract large public audiences, and since Drummond was the first candidate in the field it was not unusual to find ninety to one hundred people gathered at some agreed cross roads, '.. really alert and stirred up to break free from being run by "City Lawyers" & nominees of the Nationalist Party Executives'.
Drummond usually devoted the first half of his speech to an explanation of proportional representation which he had studied in some detail and had reduced to clear and simple terms. This always gained a good response and allowed him during the second half of his speech to preach his political message. His theme was always 'Decentralization, Development and Decent Government'. He usually finished by saying that 'Parties, Platforms and Policies' existed for only one reason, 'the good government of the people.' When they ceased 'to serve this end they should cease.'
From the beginning of this campaign Drummond laid down basic campaign guidelines that he was to generally observe throughout his long political career:
.. I never made the mistake then or later of slanging my opponents. I simply ignored their existence. Never did I make the cardinal blunder of dealing with past incidents in Parliament. "You people know all about what has been happening in the past in Parliament. What you are interested in hearing is the Policy of the Progressives" & I went on to explain my own version of that policy. This served two purposes. It was new and held an audience tired of the old political clap. Secondly it compelled the opposition to fight on a battle ground of my own choosing.
This was a particularly effective technique that first election, for since there was no precedent or past Progressive mistakes, Drummond's opponents 'were at a loss to know how to meet my tactics'.
Once the other candidates swung to the countryside Drummond turned his attention to the towns. There he made one major tactical error. Certain that Bruxner would have a large surplus vote, Drummond decided to campaign heavily in the Tenterfield area, hoping to pick up Bruxner's second preferences. Although Bruxner did poll well, he did not secure a quota till the sixth count and Drummond's Tenterfield campaign was wasted. The two men seem to have had considerable contact during the campaign. Bruxner liked Drummond immediately, but there was a considerable differences in outlook between the polished grazier and the young farmer. At one point Ray Doolin organised a combined meeting for them at the mining village of Emmaville.
Anxious that our two colts would work together, I asked the Colonel how he was getting on with Dave. He replied "Oh Dave is coming on, I got him into the Pub and he drank a soda water." After the meeting I asked about the Colonel - Dave replied "Ray, he is a very fine and able man, but I think he is a bit of a lad."
The difference in temperament between the two men did result in at least one clash, probably during Drummond's Tenterfield campaign, but after that 'temperate but straight speaking episode' the two became firm friends and allies.
The Northern press played an important role in the Progressive's campaign. While Thompson's separatist campaign was non-party, it benefited the Progressives most. Despite its earlier Northern successes, Labor was not (outside its traditional strongholds in the lower Hunter) was very much a minority party. It also generally faced a hostile press: previous support for the party had largely disappeared, partially as a result of the general press sympathy for country ideas and the country movement. In addition, Labor had now adopted unification as an objective which, while it could be interpreted in such a way as to allow Queensland Labor supporters to continue to be new staters, did make wholehearted identification with the new state movement more difficult. For the Nationalists, their city orientation created problems. By contrast, Progressive candidates such as Drummond were already separatists, or at least shared the underlying views of the separatist movement, and could therefore both identify with and be identified with the Thompson campaign. In addition to any general votes this may have given them, it probably helped in other ways as well: separatist groups appear to have worked for both Drummond and Bruxner.
Press support was particularly important for the lesser known Drummond. Drummond's old friend, Ernest Sommerlad, supported him strongly through his paper the Glen Innes Examiner. In addition, Sommerlad was able to persuade the supporters of F.J. Thomas, the sitting member for Gough (Inverell and Glen Innes), to exchange preferences with Drummond. Interestingly, even though official Progressive party advertisements advised people to vote Nationalist after Progressive, Drummond's advertisements did not: they advised simply 'You must vote for every candidate in the order you prefer them, beginning by voting Drummond I'.
Election day, 20 March 1920, saw the Progressives poll well, with 49 per cent of the vote as compared with Labor's 37.2 per cent and the Nationalists' meagre 13.8 per cent. As expected, Bruxner, with 23.5 per cent of the vote, was the second candidate elected after Labor's McClelland. The position in the third seat was not immediately clear. However, Drummond with 10 per cent of the vote had out-polled Thomas by more than 400 votes. The preference deal arranged by Sommerlad held firm, and Thomas's preferences gave Drummond an unbeatable lead over the other candidates. The result was probably a surprise to many. As the FSA's official journal, The Land, put it some years later:
Mr Drummond was a young farmer of Inverell. He had ideas, and had been active in the Farmers and Settlers' Association. No one knew much about him, but that was of no consequence. He proceeded to tell them. There were no widely signed requisitions for him to contest Northern Tablelands. They were not required. He had made up his mind. He informed the electors he knew about politics, and would be able to run the country as it ought to be run. At first he was not taken seriously, but he was quite confident the people would elect him to Parliament, and they did.
Following the elections, David, Pearl and the children moved to Glen Innes, buying a house next door to the Sommerlads in Macquarie Street. The move was a sensible one, since it brought Drummond towards the centre of a very large electorate with a direct rail connection to Sydney. It also helped cement the growing friendship between the Drummond and Sommerlad families.
The first photo from James Vicker's collection shows Edna and Helen Drummond at the new house in Glen Innes in 1920, the second the family in Glen Innes around 1922. From left to right David, Kathleen, Helen, Edna and Pearl.
The young Drummond must have found his new Parliamentary colleagues a mixed lot. The Party may have campaigned as a new broom, but nine of the fifteen members returned had sat as Nationalists in the previous Parliament. Further, some of the nine were very experienced. R.A. Price, for example, had first been elected in 1894 and was the 'Father of the House'.
Reflecting the Party's mixed background, the Progressives broke into three groups. David Drummond and the other new country members had campaigned on the basis that the country was neglected and saw the Party's central role as representing country interests. By contrast, the four city members were essentially Nationalist in outlook, but had broken with their party because of their opposition to Holman. In the centre was a group of ex-Nationalist country members, such as Walter Wearne, who shared many of the aspirations of the new country members, but who were also close to the Nationalists in basic sympathies. The new Party lacked a coherent fighting platform that might have unified these groups, for its members had fought the election on their own personal platforms linked by common slogans. This allowed the Party to maximise its vote by being, in effect, all things to all men, but left it ill-equipped to face the Parliamentary situation resulting from the 1920 election.
With fifteen members, the Progressives were in a potentially strong position in a House which included forty-four Labor, twenty-seven Nationalists and four independents, of whom one was independent Labor. However, to make effective use of this balance of power required a coherence of policy and objective that the Progressives were unable to achieve. At first the Nationalists attempted to gain Progressive support to continue in Government, but were finally forced to admit defeat in April, opening the way for Labor leader John Storey to form a Government on 13 April, with independent Nationalist Daniel Levy as Speaker. Although the Nationalists had failed to gain Progressive support, the Party's attitude to the relative claims of the Labor and Nationalist Parties was not officially clear. It was not until 19 April that G.S. Beeby - who had been elected as the Progressives' deputy leader - told a Wagga audience that the Party would give the Ministry discriminating support provided that it did not introduce any 'wild legislation', a position that was finally endorsed publicly by party leader Walter Wearne on 11 August and then confirmed by the FSA Executive.
The new Parliament, which met for the first time on 27 April, was to be the stormiest in Drummond's career. The Nationalists, furious at Levy for accepting the speakership, 'heaped abuse & the bitterest invective upon him'. At that time there was not standing order defining the length of speeches, and four-hour speeches were not uncommon:
.. sometimes for a week men did not leave the House... this incredible strain was not moderated by the fact that we had not quite emerged from the age when it was not a social sin for men at a formal dinner to drink themselves under the table. Some very ugly scenes developed and on more than one occasion the floor was covered with shouting, fighting members.
One episode stood out in Drummond's mind. Hugh Connell, one of the Labor members, had been having a bath in the small hours and dashed into a Division clad only in his overcoat just as the doors were closing.
There was much shouting that Connell was "paired". After the Division, Colonel McArthur-Onslow walked across & bent over to remonstrate with Connell. As he did so a Sydney Journalist Vol. Molesworth, told the Colonel to get back where he came from. The Colonel replied in a calculated insulting way. It was magnificent but it was not war. Molesworth sitting immediately under him shot up & landed an upper cut which nearly knocked the Colonel cold. Immediately there was bedlam...
Despite the tensions in the Assembly, Drummond settled down happily, learning how to cope with the demands of Parliament and of his electorate. He wasted not time in making his maiden speech, speaking on the second day of the session. Naturally enough it concerned the drought which had gripped the North throughout 1919 and into 1920:
I wish to support the remarks of my leader, the hon. member for Namoi (Mr Wearne) as to the dangers of a lengthy adjournment. Representing, as I do, a country electorate which has been badly hit by the drought I am very concerned at the prospect of any long delay in handling the many serious questions which are involved in the situation today.
He went on to suggest that once the drought broke, the financial institutions would foreclose on the farmers. This would be a harsh result:
.. the men who will suffer are not wasters, nor are they extravagant. They have put their backs into their work... if [sic] will be cruel if we allow these men, who have put up with hardships which people in the city cannot realise, to be deprived of their holdings after their prolonged heart-breaking battle with nature ...
But, he added, in addition to any personal hardships involved, this result would adversely affect the state's finances. It would discourage others from entering rural pursuits. It would increase unemployment both on the farm and in the town.
Drummond criticised the measures introduced by the previous Holman Government as both inadequate and unfair to the State's taxpayers. In his view the Government should be prepared to take over the mortgages under a closer settlement scheme. Should the settlers receiving assistance then fail, the Government would have acquired the properties at a cheaper rate for closer settlement purposes than it could have done on the open market. To carry out the scheme, the Savings Bank Act could be extended to enable the Bank to take over the mortgages. Alternatively, a special bank could be established.
In many ways Drummond's first speech set the tone for his speeches during the next few years. With its emphasis on drought and closer settlement it reflected his experiences on Maxwelton and within the FSA, experiences that he would draw on again and again in his contribution to debate. It was also, like so many of his early speeches, terribly earnest. 'In the first place I appreciate to the utmost possible extent the clear indication of the wonderful earnestness of a number of hon. members who are new to the House', J.C.L. Fitzpatrick (Bathurst) told the Assembly after one of Drummond's typical speeches. 'I particularly refer to the younger members of the Progressive Party'.
That first speech referred to the problems of the rural producer in general. However, many of the later speeches were to concentrate more specifically on the problems of the farmer (as opposed to the grazier) and of the wheat grower in particular. He stressed how the wheat grower suffered from poor returns and bad transport. He also kept up a series of questions about the wheat industry and particularly about wheat pools and the associated question of wheat advances. His persistent questions sometimes drew tart answers. On one occasion when he asked the Minister (Captain Dunn) whether he was aware that the Prime Minister had stated that he could sell the wheat crop at ten shillings a bushell and whether he had received any notice to that effect, the exasperated Dunn replied: 'I have not, and I doubt very much if he could. If he can I wish he would do it at once.'
While not unsympathetic to the Labor Party during his first year in the Assembly, Drummond's speeches reveal him as a conservative in many of his attitudes, a supporter of traditional values but also as a supporter of the small man. In a heated exchange with Labor's J.J. McGirr, he defended his 1917 strike-breaking action on the grounds that he considered the men involved guilty of disloyalty in war time:
Mr Drummond: I did not scab on anyone... as I have said, I do not believe in butting in on strikes in ordinary conditions, but here was an extraordinary set of conditions.
However he was quite prepared to see the strikers taken back, but not at the expense of those who had been loyal:
I claim that I have as much sympathy with the working man as many of my friends on the other side, if not more... as far as I am concerned, I am quite prepared to see the Railway Commissioners take back the men who struck. I have no bitter feelings against those men, but the men who stood by the Government, the men who were honestly loyal.. should not suffer....
In supporting the smaller man Drummond set out that view of society already described and which he was to hold throughout his life. In one speech he attacked the Attorney-General for believing that society consisted of two parts, representatives of wealth and capital and those on the bread line, a mistake 'made by too many members of Parliament and others'. Instead there were those in the middle whom Drummond believed he represented: 'that section which forms the solid basis of the prosperity of the country'. Consistent with this self-identification, Drummond supported the solid middle class verities of self-reliance associated with help for the under-privileged. In his view the existence of suffering showed that there were 'flaws in our social system'. The only thing in the world worth anything
.. is the application of the principle that those who are down and out should be assisted by a self-respecting community, while those who are strong physically should be allowed to exercise to the full their individual efforts and by application to their business find their proper level in life. The application of that broad principle will build up a country strong and independent.
It was in accord with this principle that Drummond attacked the proposed Motherhood Endowment Bill 'because it would sap the independence of our people'. Similarly, although Drummond supported compulsory registration to vote, he was opposed to compulsory voting itself: if the voters did not wish to exercise 'the greatest benefit that has been conferred on the mass of the people' then 'let them put up with the results until they are forced by bad laws into using it'. His support for public education, first expressed in the Supply Debate in November 1920, was also in accord with this principle. Drummond believed that 'education was essential to good citizenship' and he attacked low education spending: 'In the past it would seem that our Governments regarded a little knowledge as a dangerous thing, and a little more knowledge as more dangerous still.'
Drummond spoke regularly in the Assembly, but not always for long periods. Although at times he could speak for well over an hour, his speeches were often short, sharp and to the point. Several lasted for only two minutes. Within his speeches he frequently used statistical material and overseas examples to support his case. Reflecting his painfully acquired learning, he also quoted various authorities to support his position. A leader of the English Cooperative Movement was quoted in support of his position on closer settlement, while Parkes, Dunmore Lang and Sir John Quick supported his views on constitutional issues. Even his old friend Carlyle was used to refute the Attorney-General's views on the French Revolution. It was also noticeable that, as a young an inexperienced member, Drummond felt it necessary to cite his experience as a justification for adopting a position: 'it may be urged that I am a young member of the House without much political experience', he told the Assembly at one point, but 'the fact remains that I have had experience outside the House'.
The lack of country development and the associated need for effective decentralisation were also constant themes in Drummond's speeches and those of the other new Progressives. He first set out the problem in his second speech to the Assembly. In his view, what was wanted was not so much promises of decentralisation as realisation of promises already made:
The other day I got a letter from the Public Works Department stating that a survey was to be made in a certain district. Let me inform hon. members that if they go to our northern districts they will find enough axe-marks on the trees to have produced many cords of wood; they will find also enough paint on survey routes to cover a decent size house.
The general theme was repeated in debate after debate. 'I would advise the Minister to find out why it is that such a large section of the population is jammed into one corner of the state', he told the Assembly in November 1920. 'When he has solved that problem and caused a proper distribution he will have settled the difficulty regarding housing'.
For Drummond, the only solution to the centralisation problem was new states and particularly the creation of a new state in Northern New South Wales. In August 1920 he told the Assembly:
In my opinion the best system of decentralisation which can be given to this country is decentralisation of administrative, executive and judicial offices, so as to give that northern portion of New South Wales real decentralisation, which is self-government.
Although the reaction of many members was hardly sympathetic to this approach - Drummond commented in the same speech: 'I know that when this matter is mentioned, a very genial smile overspreads the faces of my colleagues in this House' - the campaign launched by Victor Thompson in January 1920 was now well on the way to transforming itself into a mass political movement. In so doing, it would create new problems and opportunities for Drummond and the other Progressives.
On March 1920, the initial success of the Thompson campaign had led to a meeting of Northern newspapers at Glen Innes. Attended by eleven of the seventy-five or so newspapers in the area, and with up to a further twenty-three expressing support, the meeting had decided to form a New State Press League and Press Propaganda Executive, with Thompson as secretary, to direct an intensive propaganda campaign. It also decided to broaden the organisation by bringing into existence propagandist public bodies. Over the next twelve months the Propaganda Executive distributed news and editorial material each week to most of the Northern newspapers, the cost being met by the twenty-seven newspapers who had joined the League.
The operation was a large one. By the second meeting of the Propaganda Executive, Thompson was able to report that of the sixty-five papers selected as having space to publish articles, only five - in Lismore, Gunnedah and Taree - had refused to accept articles. The Lismore and Gunnedah papers eventually came round, but Taree remained a problem: 'the two papers ... are ... quite against the movement', Thompson reported. Still, Thompson had every right to claim the Executive could feel 'a certain amount of pardonable elation' at the results to date. By the end of the year the volume of published material was immense: the Observer alone had published almost 400 columns of material, generally in prominent positions.
In their campaign the papers drew upon many traditional northern prejudices and complaints. They complained of the drift to the city; of the congestion and lack of cleanliness of Sydney; of excessive investment in Sydney; of discrimination against country interests in transport, investment and provision of community facilities; that administration was centralised, remote and extravagant; of scandals and disorders in public life. These complaints were not of course new. What was new was their wholesale incorporation into a single litany of complaint against the metropolitan government.
The major role played by the papers in the agitation was widely recognised. 'For the present the northern new state is a newspaper state only', claimed the Melbourne Argus. However, this view failed to recognise the genuine popular enthusiasm unleashed by the new state proposal which was seen by its exponents not only as a way of rectifying grievances but also of introducing new ideas. The Inverell New State League considered that since the party system resulted in minority rule, a clause should be introduced into the new constitution making it impossible for the party system to be introduced into the new state Parliament. Others saw it as an opportunity to reform Parliament and to introduce measures such as elective ministries. A leading Anglican clergyman thought that in the new state bishops might cease to be attached to a particular diocese, while clergy might be allowed to transfer freely throughout the state. The ideas put forward were not always practical, but they did represent a popular optimism that in the new state existing problems could, and would, be solved.
The first move to channel the growing enthusiasm came in April 1920 when the Tamworth Municipal Council circularised other councils in the North asking for an expression of opinion on the desirability of a new state. Many reported enthusiastic support and followed Tamworth's example by calling public meetings to launch new state leagues. By the end of May fifty-four councils were prepared to take action. Generally support came from within the traditional broad regional arc stretching from the Northern Rivers across the Tablelands and Western Slopes and south through the Liverpool Plains into the Upper Hunter. Most non-participating councils - including Muswellbrook, Taree, Dungog, Macksville and Gloucester - were clustered around the edges of the arc.
The Northern parliamentarians, particularly Page, Bruxner and Drummond, helped the cause by speaking on tour and by assisting in the establishment of local leagues. In late May 1920, Drummond was the main speaker at a major rally in Tamworth, attended by an estimated 5,000 people, a remarkable attendance at a time when Tamworth's population was just over 7,000. The rally was preceded by a procession more than a mile long. This included '500 children clad in white, marching in fours' who, reporting the Sydney Morning Herald, on being denied a half holiday for the purpose, 'deserted the schools'.
In August, Drummond attended a conference at Glen Innes convened by the Tamworth and Inverell New State Leagues to discuss the further development of the Movement. Those attending - more than sixty in all, including delegates from twenty-three leagues - appointed a Provisional Central Executive of the Northern New State Movement with Colonel P.P. Abbott (a Glen Innes solicitor) as President and Victor Thompson as secretary. It was empowered to draft a constitution, appeal for funds, continue the propaganda campaign and arrange for a representative convention of delegates.
With an organisation in place, the Movement turned to gather support for a major convention to be held at Armidale. Again the parliamentarians played a key role. Page, Bruxner and Drummond, along with Thompson, initiated a platform and propaganda campaign using charts, maps, graphs, lantern slides and press publicity to help spread the message. Raymond Perdriau, a Progressive Party parliamentarian from the North Coast, was appointed General Secretary of the North Coast Development League (which had formally become part of the Movement) to help coordinate the coastal campaign while Drummond was appointed to a similar position inland.
Enthusiasm continued at a high level. Meetings were generally well attended, even in the smaller centres. Money followed the growing popular support: a Tamworth carnival, for example, raised 1000 pounds. By the end of the year Page could justifiably write to Thompson: 'Altogether, I think you will be satisfied with the result of your labours this year. The fire you started has travelled far, and burnt well'.
In December 1920 the publicity campaign took a major step forward with the publication of Australia Subdivided. The new booklet, drawing heavily from the 1915 Grafton pamphlet with supplementary material provided by the Northern parliamentarians, was largely edited by Ernest Sommerlad and carried a foreword signed by seven parliamentarians (Page, Bruxner, Drummond, Perdriau, Bennett, Carr and Chaffey) plus Alf Pollack, a Grafton solicitor who had been active in the Movement since 1915. Later regarded by the new state enthusiasts as 'The New State Bible', Australia Subdivided was a detailed and sophisticated presentation of the new state case.
The booklet argued that Australia was suffering from over-centralisation of population and industry in the capitals and also from high cost government brought about by duplication of federal and state government activities and if inefficient and unintelligent administration within the generally overlarge states. It suggested that the existing economic, financial and governmental structures were designed to perpetuate these arrangements: 'By bitter experience the conviction is forced on all alike, that the country is bled that Sydney may flourish'. Interestingly, given the signatories to the foreword, the booklet attacked suggestions that solutions could be found in remedies such as country parties or decentralisation. These measures were doomed to failure because they failed to strike at the root of the trouble, 'the dominance of the capital'.
We cannot have a successful Country Party because the country is split into other parties which control the political machine, whilst Sydney interests at all times dominate the whole.
The only solution was subdivision, which would give local control over specifically local matters such as public works but would also allow a strengthening of Commonwealth powers, thus removing duplication and encouraging the development of a proper national outlook.
In addition to presenting a wide range of material to support is case, Australia Subdivided also outlined a detailed plan for Northern development. New short railway lines were to be constructed on the coast and western slopes and plains, joining the Northern and Queensland rail networks thus giving Northern producers direct access to the Queensland market and Brisbane shipping facilities. In addition, new lines were to be constructed in stages from inland to the North Coast ports. New deep sea ports were to be developed which, fed by the new feeder lines, would encourage inter-state and overseas trade and the development of the area's natural resources such as the coal deposits, at Ashford and Gunnedah. Development of the hydro-electric and water resources of the Eastern escarpment (particularly the Gorge scheme) would allow the development of water and electricity-intensive industries such as wool scouring, nitric acid and pulp and paper and the further development of existing local industries such as dairying. These developments would be aided by their closeness to adequate shipping facilities. Taken together, these changes would then force decentralisation of service industries such as finance and wool-selling. The new plan faced a number of problems - the capital costs would have been tremendous - but it was at least an integrated development plan which attempted to overcome the North's disabilities by utilizing the area's natural assets. Certainly even its partial introduction would have significantly changed the social and economic structure of the area.
The basic constitutional thrust of Australia Subdivided was not new. Page had, for example, expressed similar arguments as early as 1917. At the same time it seems probable that the form taken by the constitutional argument was influenced by Drummond. Drummond had been interested in constitutional issues from early in his parliamentary career. He felt that such issues were important and since no-one else in the State party was interested, set himself to become an expert. He read continually during the long night sittings, vandalising the books in the Parliamentary Library with extensive pencil markings and then typing his notes up in his distinctive self-taught style. As early as August 1920, Drummond had defined a basic constitutional position identical with that adopted four months later in Australia Subdivided:
The experience of government in this country, where we have the sovereign powers of state and Commonwealth overlapping, where we have expensive duplications, where we have inefficiency through overlapping, is that the time is speedily coming when we should review the whole situation, and give our national government those sovereign powers which are necessary for the proper government and development of this country retaining to our States or provinces that absolute control of local affairs which will make them proper-self-governing states or provinces, and which also prevent centralisation.
An important feature of Drummond's speech, and of the general constitutional position adopted by the Northern new staters, was their emphasis on the need for the states or provinces to have 'that absolute control of local affairs which will make them proper self-governing states or provinces'. Although supporting greater federal power, they were opposed to the unification platform adopted by the Federal Labor Party in 1919 which saw Australia divided into a series of provinces, with delegated powers, that would be essentially creatures of the central government.
Australia Subdivided was generally well received. The Melbourne Argus and Age reviewed it favourably, while The Daily Mail in Brisbane published it in its Sunday editions. Following its publication, the Movement concentrated on building support for the Convention proposed for Armidale in April. Perdriau, Page and Bruxner toured the North Coast setting up new state leagues, while Drummond and Thompson followed a similar course in the North-West.
On 19 April 1921, 220 delegates from 124 new state leagues met in Armidale for a three-day convention. Despite comments from Labor Premier Storey 'that he did not regard the Northern New South Wales secessionist movement seriously' and later claim by the Sydney Morning Herald that more than half the delegates 'in the course of conversation declared the new state idea to be a shibboleth', the mood was undoubtedly one of optimism. The Armidale Express carolled happily: 'Here in this city are to be laid the foundations of the greatest movement since federation... From this week's Convention the whole future of Australia will be changed'. This optimism had, however, still to be turned into political reality and in this respect the Convention faced a number of significant difficulties. Central to these were complex constitutional problems.
The Australian Constitution contains specific provisions (Sections 111, 122, 123 and 124) allowing for the creation of new states or territories and for variations in the boundaries of existing states. These provisions have never been tested in practice, and their precise meaning remains obscure. However, in essence they provide four different ways by which new states might be created: by surrender of territory to the Commonwealth and its subsequent creation into a new state; by creation of a new state from part of an existing state; by union of states into larger states; or by combination of parts of existing states. In all four cases approval of the state parliament or parliaments is required, and the first problem faced by the Convention was therefore how to place sufficient pressure on the New South Wales Government to gain the necessary consent. Alf Pollack, chairman of a legal sub-committee that had reported to the Convention that state parliament's consent was essential, recommended that a major petition should be prepared. The Convention accepted this and also decided that it should be presented at a huge procession of Northerners through Sydney.
It was already clear to delegates that state approval was going to be difficult to obtain. Experience had shown that no state government would willingly cede part of its territory and power regardless of the abstract validity of the arguments. It was therefore desirable to give the Commonwealth a more effective power to create new states, a power that could not be blocked by opposition within state parliaments. This in turn raised a new set of constitutional and political arguments for it required amendment of the Commonwealth Constitution. The difficulties involved in this were formidable since it required an essentially regional movement to gain national support, including support in the metropolitan areas. At the same time, there was considerable public interest in constitutional change at the time, and the Prime Minister (W.M. Hughes) was committed to the holding of a constitutional convention. This would give the Movement a public platform to press its case, and the immediate problem therefore became the best way of ensuring support for new state ideas within the proposed convention.
The Movement was aware of this problem prior to the Armidale Convention, and some preliminary steps had already been taken. Australia Subdivided had discussed the proposed constitutional convention in some detail, while Earle Page had laid the basis for national campaign. Late in 1921 he had spoken at Mildura, where he found feeling strongly in favour of an Irrigation State, and at the University Club in Sydney and had also obtained a promise from the Member for Townsville in the Queensland Parliament, Green, that he would organise some meetings as soon as that Parliament resumed. Page had then travelled to Western Australia early in 1922 to further spread the gospel. As a consequence of these activities the Armidale Convention was attended by representatives from Albany (Western Australia) Great Southern Separation Movement and from the Central Queensland Separation Movement. The delegate from the latter was Francis Michael Forde, then the Labor member for Rockhampton, and later (from 1941 to 1945) Deputy Prime Minister.
The Convention moved to consolidate the progress already made. On Bruxner's motion, it decided that a policy of general sub-division would be likely to bring the swiftest results for the North and enunciated the principle of 'self determination', under which 'communities which can show that their numbers and resources are sufficient' should have the right to become separate states. The Convention also adopted the view of the Central Executive, put forward by Drummond, 'that the ancient prerogative of the Imperial Government to sub-divide existing States on the petitions of their inhabitants should be delegated to the Commonwealth Parliament'. On the proposed constitutional convention itself, the Convention accepted Drummond's motion affirming the desirability of a federal convention to secure:
.. a more definite apportionment of the powers of the States and the Commonwealth to enable -
(a)The Commonwealth to efficiently discharge national functions;
(b)To definitely safeguard and define the State powers of Government and local development to prevent duplication and friction; and
(c)To provide easy machinery to facilitate subdivision of present States to secure normal development, economy of government and decentralisation of administration.
While Drummond's motion effectively supported the desirability of greater federal powers it was also, consistent with his previous position, concerned with safe-guarding and defining the powers of the states.
With these decisions the Armidale Convention laid down a general policy framework for the Movement and its future campaigns. While this was a reasonable achievement, the debates revealed that the Movement faced a number of continuing internal problems. The opening discussion on boundaries revealed the continued existence of a split between the inland view that portions of the Hunter Valley should be included and the opposing coastal view. The proposal to fix boundaries was consequently dropped because of a fear that the Movement might succumb to local jealousies if some districts were included and others left out. For similar reasons no attempt was made to select a capital, although the Convention did accept a motion, moved by the Grafton delegates, that 'the political centre of New State be situated at some convenient centre inland'. However, while the discussions revealed that the old local jealousies were still strong, they also suggested that some progress had been made even in this most intractable of areas.
Northern leaders were well aware of the strength of local loyalties and jealousies and of the way in which previous agitation had been bought off by the metropolitan Government. They recognised the need to build a general Northern loyalty if these problems were to be overcome, and campaigned on that basis. By August 1920 the Daily Observer was prepared to claim that the success of the new state campaign had resulted in 'the virtual abandonment of all isolated claims for railways, etc.' This was an exaggeration: as the discussions on boundaries showed, local loyalties were still very strong. Equally, as Moore has suggested, the Convention showed that the Movement was ceasing to exist solely for the remedy of local grievances and instead was moving towards implementation of an ideal capable of calling forth its own loyalties and securing adherence on theoretical grounds. The willingness of the Grafton delegates to move for an inland capital was one sign of this. Another was the Convention's resolution that it would 'not accept or consider any concession or compromise'.
With the successful completion of the Armidale Convention the Movement extended the campaign. Drummond and Perdriau left almost immediately for a tour of Queensland. Upon their return Perdriau wrote to page that their trip had been very successful. In Rockhampton they had found public opinion formed by the old Central Queensland sub-division movement and had simply tried to modify the idea of sovereign states to that of a general sub-division with the powers of the divisions specified by the constitution (as in the Canadian constitution). Drummond had spoken well and Perdriau thought they had made a favourable impression. At Bundaberg, public opinion was in favour of unification with certain powers to the divisions. There Perdriau found Page's friend Steve Walker, the editor of the Bundaberg News, extremely sympathetic; 'With Walker you are the curly headed boy and the new Prophet - the John the Baptist of Australian politics'. Perdriau's letter also contained a rare private view of the young Drummond.
Drummond has improved very much & is becoming possessed of a large fund of information. Unfortunately he is becoming more deaf & it is a bit trying to travel with him because he only speaks what is in his own mind irrespective of the current of conversation & not being able to hear others speaking he starts in the middle of a conversation some other subject. I am trying to persuade him to get an ear trumpet.
Drummond was not to get an adequate hearing aid until 1927. In the meantime, his private study was certainly bearing fruit.
While Drummond and Perdriau were in Queensland, Page's earlier efforts in the Riverina were bringing results. Reflecting the area's history, support for annexation to Victoria had reappeared after the War. In May 1921, the growing interest in constitutional change led to the calling of a convention at Albury to discuss the alternatives of creation of a new Riverina state, annexation to Victoria, or establishment of provincial councils within New South Wales. The Convention, attended by 100 delegates, decided to support the new state proposal and set down an objective that bore clear similarities to the Northern idea:
That this Conference favours the abolition of State Parliaments as constituted at present, the subdivision of Australia into a number of smaller States, with a simple form of Government, and considers the whole of the railway system should be controlled and administered by the Federal Government.
The Albury Convention was followed by a further conference at Narrandera in October. Its agenda, and the subsequent decisions, clearly reflected the inter-linked nature of the separation campaigns and the degree of commonality in ideas about constitutional reform. Constitutional items related to the incorporation of the initiative referendum system into the Federal and State Constitutions (this was to become a permanent part of new state policy); amendment of the Commonwealth Constitution to make it easier to create new states; simplification of state administrations by abolition of the Upper Houses, Agent-Generals and other unnecessary officials and by combination of the offices of Chief Justice and Lieutenant-Governor; and alteration of the Commonwealth Constitution to give specific powers to the states leaving all other powers to the Commonwealth (again the Canadian system). These motions seem generally to have been adopted as policy.
The Northern new state leaders maintained the pressure throughout 1921: new branches were formed in the North; Page, Bruxner and Thompson addressed meetings in Sydney and Melbourne; in August Bruxner accompanied Page to Western Australia where they briefly preached the gospel anew; and Thompson and Page toured Queensland. The campaign met with some definite successes. The annual FSA Conference strongly supported a new states motion brought forward by Drummond and also promised support for new state candidates at the elections for the proposed Constitutional Convention, a decision that provoked the Sydney Morning Herald into one of its periodic attacks on the new movement. By the end of the year the number of new state leagues in the North had reached 200, the Northern Movement was supported by growing agitation in the Riverina and Queensland, and a New State League had been formed in Sydney.
The growing movement then suffered a major set back. At the end of 1921 Hughes finally introduced his long promised Constitutional Convention Bill. Under its provisions the Convention was to consist partly of seventy-five elected members, one for each Federal electorate, plus a group of thirty-six members nominated in equal numbers by the State Parliaments. Unfortunately, the Bill pleased no one. The Labor Party was opposed to the idea of a Constitutional Convention and contended that all constitutional amendment proposals should first be decided by the Federal Parliament. The Nationalists had never been enthusiasts while Page, now leader of the Federal Country Party, wanted the states to have equal numbers of elected representatives as they had had in the Constitutional Conventions of 1891 and 1897. When it became clear that the Bill as drafted would be defeated, Hughes withdrew it and instead announced that the Government would bring proposals for amending the Constitution directly before the House.
It is easy to understand why the new staters might have had reservations about the Bill. They had wanted a large Convention elected by proportional representation as a way of maximising their own numbers. As worded, Hughes' proposals would probably have biased the Convention in favour of the status quo. At the same time, it was a significant defeat. Page tried to put a brave face on the matter. He asserted that he had Hughes' assurance that if there was reasonable support it, Hughes would seek an alteration of the Constitution to allow the establishment of new states on Federal initiative. Thompson was more realistic: he admitted that the blighting of hopes for the Convention had depressed the Movement.
While the new state campaign was developing during 1920 and 1921 the Progressive Party was facing significant problems of strategy and survival. The Progressives had fought the elections as a loose confederation of interest groups. If the Party was now to survive and grow it had to establish a unified organisation, develop a coherent policy and define for itself an agreed parliamentary strategy that would allow its parliamentarians to pursue effectively the Party's aims.
Moves to reshape the Party's organisation began in the middle of 1920. A new constitution was adopted which provided for a Central Council of fifteen members, with five each coming from the FSA, the Graziers' Association and the metropolitan Progressive branches. The constitution provided for the formation of Progressive Party branches while allowing FSA and Graziers' Association local committees to be constituted as Progressive Party branches after application to Central Council. Provision was also made for an Annual Conference of branch delegates, but the Conference was given no power to alter either the party platform or constitution. Constitutional changes required approval by a three-fifths majority of both the Graziers' Association and FSA Conferences.
In 1921 the Party's constitution was altered to allow the proposed annual conferences to suggest alterations of the Party's platform to the Central Council and also to allow three representatives of the Parliamentary Progressive Party to sit on the Council. This second change, which was bitterly opposed by a section of FSA Conference, was later to be of considerable importance.
The new organisational arrangements represented a major step forward for the Party, but did pose a number of potential problems. First, they ensured continued rural dominance within the Party since the rural organisations provided a majority of Central Councillors, could control constitutional changes within the Party, and also provided much of the organisational strength. This position was consistent with the wish of Drummond and his country colleagues that the Party should represent country interests, but posed problems for the city members who needed a party offering wider appeal. The problem was intensified by the Party's failure, outside the existing city branches, to develop its own grass roots organisation. This failure was hardly surprising. The new constitution may have provided for the formation of party branches and for an Annual Conference, but it gave neither the branches nor the Conference any meaningful role within the Party. The Party's failure to develop fully its own internal organisation was an important weakness, since such an organisation would have provided the Party with a greater degree of internal cohesion.
While the organisation was being re-ordered the Parliamentary Party was trying to develop its own strategy in the Assembly. The basic problem was simple: how to use its new parliamentary strength to maximum effect. As a third party, the Progressives could not form a government in their own right. They were therefore forced to use their numbers to support one or other of the major parties in return for concessions. Two alternative strategies were to emerge. The first, conditional support, required the Party to remain independent while trading its favours to the highest bidder. The second coalition, required the Party to enter into a firm arrangement with one of the other parties in return for ministerial responsibility.
The experienced politicians such as Bavin or Ley favoured the coalition approach since they had joined the new Party with the aim of breaking the Holman Nationalists. By contrast, Drummond and the other new country members were committed to an independent stand and would not support the coalition approach at any price. As the Party settled down the difference between the two groups emerged, a trend accentuated by the growth of anti-Labor feelings among the Party's supporters which increased pressure to cooperate with the Nationalists.
From the beginning, the Party came under attack, particularly from the Sydney Morning Herald, for weakening the anti-Labor vote. These attacks increased following the Party's decision to give the Labor Government discriminating support. Opposition to Labor was particularly strong within the grazing community. In March 1920 Goldsborough Mort and Co. Ltd. refused to donate to the Graziers' Association Special Purposes Fund - which helped fund the Progressives - on the grounds that a split vote would help return 'the Bolshevik Party' A number of members of the Graziers' Association resigned for similar reasons. At the Association's Annual Conference in 1920, conflict developed between those wishing to either force the Association to withdraw from politics or force the Progressives into alliance with the Nationalists and those wishing to preserve the Party's separate identity. The opposing forces were evenly balanced: a motion to have the Executive negotiate for a reconciliation between the Progressive and National Parties was just defeated, thirty-nine votes to thirty-three. Even within the Parliamentary Party, which was after all meant to be supporting the Ministry, anti-Labor feeling was strong. The Progressives voted against the Government in about three-quarters of Divisions. Further, the ex-service members of the Party (Bruxner, Main, Perdriau, Rutledge and Wilson) resented the fact that the trade unions had been on strike in 1917 at a time when Australian troops were suffering heavy casualties.
While anti-labor feeling was pushing the Progressives towards the Nationalists, the growing separatist campaign created opposing pressures. The Movement remained non-party, but its continual attacks on city government strengthened the desire for an independent country party. To reconcile, or at least control these opposing pressures, required strong leadership. This - at least in Drummond's view - was lacking.
The first leader elected was Walter Wearne, a kindly, bluff old gentleman..... It was not to be expected that very able men like G.S. Beeby, Thomas (later Sir Thomas) Bavin, K.C. and the ill-starred Thomas Ley would enjoy serving under a worthy but intellectually inferior leader. The result was that......the Party was ripped wide open.
As early as July 1920 Ley made his position clear when he declared that with the removal of Holman and Graham, the Nationalists, with certain policy changes, would 'have so far advanced as to bring re-union within the sphere of discussion'. In September Beeby retired from the Assembly and was replaced as Deputy Leader by Bavin. This meant that both the top parliamentary positions were now held by men who favoured closer liaison with the Nationalists. The Nationalists called for closer cooperation, but this approach brought a sharp response from Killen and Trethowan (FSA President and Vice-President respectively). They declared that there could be no fusion of the parties, that the Nationalist defeat in 1920 would have been worse but for the presence of progressive candidates, and that past Nationalist governments had neglected rural interests. A few days later a letter from Walter Wearne was published in the press which seemed to hold the door open for amalgamation, although Wearne subsequently denied this at a Central Council meeting following an attack on his letter by Trethowan.
In 1921 the FSA Annual Report noted that the attempts 'to coerce the party into entangling alliances' had failed. However, pressures for closer liaison continued. Reflecting these Trethowan, now Central Council Chairman, told the Retail Traders' Association that although the Progressives could not guarantee support to Nationalist candidates before their selection, the Progressives would always give Labor their last preference and would not, except in reprisal, attack the Nationalists. Although the Progressives had directed their preferences towards the Nationalists in the last elections, these were important concessions. While the Graziers' Association supported exchange of preferences, the 1920 FSA Conference had declared against the practice. Further, it was clear and explicit recognition of the role of the Progressives as an anti-Labor party.
In September 1921 the growing anti-Labor feeling led to a Nationalist motion attacking the Government on a range of issues. Wearne promptly moved an amendment extending the attack, and in the subsequent debate the Nationalists and the Progressives launched a full scale onslaught. Drummond was one of the speakers. It was a long speech (an hour and thirty minutes) reflecting both the customary country attitudes and his personal beliefs.
He opened by saying that:
I have read the Governor's speech very carefully and I cannot find anything in it which would justify the people of New South Wales putting their confidence in the present Government.... We have a big state with vast resources, but in the Governor's speech I see outlined no broad policy which is calculated to advance the interests of the state.
He pointed out that the Government had been guilty of lack of economy: it had appointed sixteen new members to the Upper House, but it had failed to spend money in country areas. it could find 300,000 pounds to put up new offices in Sydney, offices 'which it could very well manage without for a while longer', but yet could not find 250,000 pounds to build the Gorge Scheme.
Drummond attacked the Government's railway building policy for perpetuating a system in which lines continued to radiate from Sydney imposing an unfair cost burden on country people while preventing closer settlement. What was the use of spending money on country ports if railway lines were not to be provided to them? He also suggested that the railways could be financed by a betterment tax upon the land immediately adjoining the work and which would be benefited by it. He concluded that the Government had failed to develop the country and, unless it was prepared to follow a different policy, the lot of the man engaged in rural industry would become intolerable. City and country were entwined, and if the country came down, so would the city.
In October 1921, John Storey, the Labor Premier died, and was succeeded by James Dooley. Storey had felt that his thin majority, and the presence of a hostile Upper House, required him to 'go slow' in introducing his legislative program. By contrast, under Dooley the Government became more radical in appearance, pushing ahead with legislation which disturbed the more conservative groups within the community. The pressure on the Progressives, and particularly on those who opposed liaison with the Nationalists, increased: the theme that neither an electoral nor government alliance with the Nationalists would damage the Party's independence but that they were necessary to oust Labor from office was continually emphasized.
The budget in late November brought matters to a head. It proposed new taxation measures to yield additional revenue of about two million pounds and also foreshadowed the imposition - by Parliament instead of the Board of Trade - of a basic wage of four pounds five shillings per week. Legislation to implement this last proposal was introduced by McGirr during the first week in December. The inclusion of rural workers in the measure was strongly opposed by the Progressives: Wearne later commented that as a result of legislation such as this he 'decided to leave not stone unturned to put the Government out of office'.
Immediately after the Budget speech the Parliamentary Progressives met and decided unanimously that Wearne and Bavin should confer with Fuller and the Independents about a censure motion 'that would probably cause Mr Levy to decide whether or not his position as speaker had become untenable'. This decision started a chain of events that tore the Progressive Party apart. Wearne and Bavin conferred with Fuller, who then spoke to Levy: Levy agreed to resign if the two parties cooperated, but on condition that no Nationalist would accept the speakership. The ex-Nationalist Levy had taken the speakership in the first place on a matter of principle, and it would seem that he had not forgotten the invective heaped upon him by his former colleagues as a consequence of that decision. Levy's promise gave Fuller the numbers, with Progressive Party support, to defeat the Government. Now the Progressives, influenced by Fuller's claim that one or two Labor members would cross the floor, thus giving him the ability not only to defeat Labor but also to form a new Government, agreed formally to support a National Government whose first and only duty would be to seek an early election. On 8 December Levy resigned, and Simon Hickey, a Labor member, was appointed his successor. This deprived the Government of its majority, and on 13 December it was defeated by forty-five votes to forty-four. Dooley immediately resigned. The Governor, after refusing a request for a dissolution, gave Fuller a week to establish his ministry.
In the events leading up to the Government's fall the Progressives had made their position clear: they would support a Nationalist Government whose sole job was to seek an early election but would not enter into a former coalition. However, this was not acceptable to Sir George Fuller who began immediate negotiations with Wearne and Bavin. Given the strength of feeling within the Progressives, the moves did not immediately involve the whole Parliamentary Party. Thus Main, Ley, Wearne, and several other Progressives, but not Drummond, Bruxner or Kilpatrick, were invited to Bavin's home in Ryde and urged to move for an alliance with the Nationalists.
On Friday 16 December, the Parliamentary Party was officially informed by Wearne that Fuller declined to form a Government unless the Progressives agreed to form a coalition for the life of the current Parliament and the next. The pressure on the Progressives was now enormous. The State was without a Government, the Party clearly bore at least partial responsibility for this situation, while within the Party organisation there was considerable support for the coalition concept. In the face of this the Parliamentary Party voted seven to six for coalition, with Bavin, Ley, Perdriau, Wilson, Onslow, Bennett and Hill voting for, and Drummond, Buttenshaw, Bruxner, Rutledge, Main and Kilpatrick against. Price, who was absent, was against coalition, while Wearne refused to use his casting vote. Those in favour included all the city Progressives and all but one of the ex-Nationalists.
Given the closeness of the vote, the matter had to be referred to Central Council, which met with the full Parliamentary Party later the same day. Wearne and Bavin tried hard to persuade the Council. They asked it to vote on the following assumptions: five Progressives would receive portfolios; there would be no pre-selections of candidates or pledges; the Government would accept proportional representation and adopt the Progressive's decentralisation policy; and each party would have equal representation on a joint council to control election organisation. It was also assumed that at least two members of the Labor Party would cross the floor, although Bavin did qualify this with the words: 'as far as it is humanly possible to accept any man's word, this condition did exist'. The divisions within the Parliamentary Party on the issue were reflected in the Council: in Ley's absence it deadlocked eight votes to eight. The Chairman then gave his casting vote in the negative to enable the Council to further consider the issue. The coalition protagonists did not accept this negative vote as binding and continued the negotiations over the weekend. The Monday newspapers reported that a coalition was to be formed on terms similar to those foreshadowed to the Council on Friday night.
The strains on those opposing coalition had been considerable. 'They were very stressful day and nights', Drummond later recalled. 'It was the policy of those allied to Sir George Fuller to entice as many as possible from the [Progressives]. In rooms with closed doors and windows, poisonous with stale tobacco smoke, vigorous argument went on day and far into the night'.
On Monday 19 December, the Parliamentary Party held its last meeting under the chairmanship of Walter Wearne. All the coalitionists were present: on the other side only Drummond, Buttenshaw and Kilpatrick were there. Drummond later described the meeting:
Shortly after the meeting opened I rose and took objection to the trend of the discussion. "If this meeting has been called to further discuss whether we shall join forces with Sir George Fuller I am eligible to remain. But if, as it appears, we are to discuss the terms on which we shall join them, I have no right in this meeting." Ley, with an easy smile said, "There is no need to leave, we all understand your position." Perdriau, with heavy wit, interjected, "Perhaps he thinks he has more right here than we have". To which I bitterly retorted. "Since you raise that issue let me say that this is the Progressive Party Room and I am a Progressive but I am dashed if I know what your and your friends are" and immediately left the room.
Bavin followed Drummond out and urged him to come back:
From the outset I felt it would be a base betrayal of those men and women of the Country ... who were sick and tired of being the doormat of Metropolitan dominated parties and elected us to redress the balance. "What alternative do you suggest?" asked Mr Bavin. "I suggest we stick to our own Party and contest the elections as such". "Well if we do we shall get no portfolios in the New Ministry." "That may be so," I replied, "But do not forget that if we stick to our guns we may be the people who will decide who shall get what." "That will never be", he replied.
Buttenshaw and Kilpatrick left the Party room shortly after Drummond. Thinking the problem over, Drummond
.. realised that we must act swiftly if our Party - 7 in all - were not to be beaten by adverse propaganda. I therefore drafted a statement and suggested to Buttenshaw that he should issue it over his name as acting Leader. He was diffident about this course, but agreed to sign it as convenor ... [it announced] us as still the Progressive Party ... in Parliament to carry out the policy [we] were elected on.
That evening Wearne and Bavin met Central Council again. The two leaders made it clear that they were already committed to the coalition, but the Council put the matter to the vote again and once more deadlocked, this time nine votes to nine. Although the five FSA delegates voted against coalition, four of the five Graziers' Association delegates and two of the three Parliamentary representatives. This time objections were raised to the use of the Chairman's casting vote and the Council remained deadlocked. On Tuesday morning the anti-coalitionist Progressives met and, accepting the Drummond-drafted statement, declared:
That, whilst prepared to conform with the promise made by the whole party, to support any Government Sir George Fuller might form, with a view to obtaining an early dissolution, we ... have never, at any time, agreed to any step which might jeopardise the political entity of the party, and remain now, as we have always been, Progressive in fact as well as name.
In the evening the new Ministry met the House. The proposed ministers included Bavin, Wearne, Ley and Perdriau - the promised five had already shrunk to four.
The position of the new Government was completely uncertain, for the promised Labor dissidents had failed to appear. When Fuller called for nominations for speaker, W.R. Bagnall, the National Party Whip, angrily nominated himself: 'I cannot reconcile myself to this recognition of the men who were the chief assassins of the last National Government,' he declared. This action was a breach of the understanding with Levy who then immediately put his own name forward. Fuller, accepting defeat, had Levy renominated, thus destroying his majority. He was then forced to resign after a record short ministry of just seven hours, 'sworn in, sworn out, sworn at' as one weekly put it. Dooley resumed government, forming a 'caretaker' cabinet.
The position of the 'True Blues' - as the anti-coalitionists were to be called - must have been very confused during those last two sitting days, Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 December. With their party split down the middle, without formal leadership and with Walter Wearne recognised as one of the three party leaders by the Speaker, the future must have seemed uncertain. However, while the Speaker may have recognised Wearne, the avenging Bagnall was under no illusions:
.. this so called coalition ... really means that seven or eight members of the Progressive party have seceded from their party and joined the National Party.
Of the coalitionists themselves, Perdriau must have had some doubts, for on 22 December he announced to the House that his position was now 'that of an independent country representative supporting the coalition'.
Despite the chaos Drummond and Bruxner had the presence of mind on that final sitting day to go on the offensive. In a house from which opposition members were notably absent, Drummond spoke no less than seven times. He criticised public works expenditure and increased employment in Government departments; he attacked the direction of education spending and advocated increased expenditure of loan monies on schools; he suggested that fees should be charged on agricultural school farms; and moved to reduce the Colonial Secretary's vote (by 25,000 pounds) and the loan estimates (by 100,000 pounds). In both these motions he was supported by Bruxner. He also supported a motion by Bruxner to cut the cost of the post of Agent-General in London. The grounds he gave were characteristic:
It is essential that we should cut out unnecessary expenditure and this is an expenditure which is unnecessary because we should carry on business in London as an Australian people rather than as a mere section of the people of Australia.
The House finally recessed, with an election called for 25 March 1922. Drummond, exhausted, escaped to stay with friends on the South Coast: 'For the first and only time in my life my hands were so shaky I could not read the print in my hymn book during divine service'.
Unless otherwise stated, material in this next section is drawn from DM, p.64ff.
D.A. Aitkin, The Colonel: A Political Biography of Sir Michael Bruxner, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1969 provides a detailed picture of Bruxner at this stage in his life.
B.D. Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties from their Origins until 1929', PhD thesis, Australian National University, 1958, pp.277-279.
Aitkin, The Colonel, p.36.
R.J. Doolin, A Boy From The Bush Goes To Town: Autobiography, Cranbrook Press, Toowoomba, 1973, p.104.
U.R. Ellis, New Australian States, The Endeavour Press, Sydney, 1933, pp.140-150.
Doolin, A Boy from the Bush, p.103.
G.S. Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level - A Study in Armidale and New England, 1899-1929' MA (Hons) thesis, University of New England, 1964, p.364 records that Drummond received particularly strong press support.
Armidale Express, 12 March 1920. Cited Harman, ibid, p.361.
Election figures are taken from Harman, ibid, p.383 and Aitkin, The Colonel, p.279.
16 December 1927. Cited Aitkin, The Colonel, footnote p.38.
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, p.45.
Aitkin, The Colonel, p.45. The description of political events in this chapter has been drawn very heavily from: Aitkin, ibid, pp.45-96; U.R. Ellis, The Country Party: A Political and Social History of the Party in New South Wales, F.W. Cheshire, Melbourne, 1958, pp.52-72; B.D. Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', pp.287-346; B.D. Graham, The Formation of the Australian Country Parties, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1966, pp.143-175.
Bavin put their position clearly in a letter to John Latham in Melbourne: 'I have broken with Holman and the National Party and propose to fight the elections as a Progressive - which is a sort of non Holman Nationalist.' Bavin to Latham, 30 January 1920. Cited in Aitkin, The Colonel, p.46.
Sydney Morning Herald, 7 April 1920. Cited Graham 'Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', p.310.
Sydney Morning Herald, 19 April 1920. Cited Graham, 'Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', p.311.
NSWPD, Vol.79, 11 August 1920, pp.156, 162.
FSA Executive Report, 1920, p.23. Cited Graham, 'Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', p.311.
NSWPD, Vol.79, 28 April 1920, pp.52-53.
An act to establish a rural bank was passed later in 1920.
NSWPD, Vol.79, 25 August 1920, p.434.
See, for example, NSWPD, Vol.79, 25 August 1920, pp.429-434; Vol.80, 23 September 1920, p.1017; Vol.80, 14 October 1920, pp.1592-1596; and Vol.85, 30 November 1921, pp.2280-2284.
NSWPD, Vol.79, 25 August 1920, pp.429-4.
NSWPD, Vol.85, 30 November 1921, pp.2780-2784.
During the first two years Drummond asked questions about wheat on 28 September 1920 (NSWPD, Vol.80, p.1050); 26 October 1920 (Vol.80, p.1828, p.1893); 10 November 1920 (Vol.81, p.2274); 17 November 1920 (Vol.81, p.2563); 30 November 1920 (Vol.81, p.2901); 2 December 1920 (Vol.81, p.3057); 30 August 1921 (Vol.83, p.37); 27 September 1921 (Vol.83, p.713); 20 October 1921 (Vol.84. p.969); and 30 November 1921 (Vol.85, p.224).
NSWPD, Vol.81, 30 November 1920, p.2901.
NSWPD, Vol.79, 25 August 1920, pp.432-433.
Ibid. In adopting this position Drummond was noticeably more sympathetic than his colleagues. Bruxner, for example, who had been in Palestine at the time of the strike, had been disgusted by what seemed to him as the next thing to treachery. The episode dragged on wretchedly throughout the twenties and into the thirties. As Governments changed the seniority of the strikers was downgraded or upgraded. Aitkin, The Colonel, pp.194-195.
NSWPD, Vol.80, 14 October 1920, p.1592.
NSWPD, Vol.83, 8 September 1921, p.299.
NSWPD, Vol.81, 8 December 1920, p.3366.
NSWPD, Vol.81, 23 November 1920, p.2635.
See, for example, NSWPD, Vol.80, September 1920, p.1006 and pp.1009-1023.
See, for example, NSWPD, Vol.81, 2 November 1920, pp.2686-7.
NSWPD, Vol.85, 30 November 1921, p.2284.
NSWPD, Vol.79, 25 August 1920, p.430.
NSWPD, Vol.83, 8 September 1921, pp.298-299.
NSWPD, Vol.80, 14 October 1920, p.1592.
NSWPD, Vol.79, 22 September 1920, p.934.
NSWPD, Vol.79, 25 August 1920, p.430.
NSWPD, Vol.81, 24 November 1920, p.2779.
NSWPD, Vol.79, 25 August 1920, p.430.
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, p.33, records that twenty-three others expressed support. However, 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, p.28, suggests that there were only apologies from nineteen newspapers.
The Executive consisted overwhelmingly of the inland press. Minutes of Press Conference. Cited Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', p.33.
Minutes of Press Conference. Cited ibid, p.37.
Minutes of the Controlling Committee of the New State Press League, 23 August 1920. Cited Harman, 'New State Agitation', p.28.
Material in this paragraph is mainly drawn from Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', pp.33-34: Moore draws from Thompson's report to the meeting.
Moore, ibid, p.40ff analyses the form taken by press complaints.
Cited ibid, p.36.
Armidale Express, 31 December 1920. Cited ibid, p.42.
Armidale Express, 18 January 1921. Cited G.S. Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level', p.198.
Armidale Express, 22 June 1920. Cited Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level', p.198.
This and the next sentence are drawn from Harman, 'New State Agitation', p.30. At the same time, in reverse of 1915, Tamworth new staters decided to send a delegation to the coast. Daily Observer, 21 April 1920. Cited Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', p.87.
Sydney Morning Herald, 26 May 1920. Cited Moore, ibid, pp.39-40.
Moore, ibid, p.38, lists dissenting councils.
Armidale Express, 1 June 1920. Cited ibid, p.37.
V. Thompson, Brief History of Movement in North and Elsewhere. New States, Issued by Northern Central Executive, April 1929. (Date and authorship given by supporting papers), Page Papers, National Library MS 1633/2146/9.
Armidale Express, 28 May 1920. Cited Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level', p.199.
Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', p.37.
Sydney Morning Herald, 27 May 1920. Cited ibid, p.37. The Tamworth Observer commented the same day: 'Nothing like yesterday's much talked about New State Demonstration was ever seen in any Australian town before'. Cited ibid, p.38.
The material on the Glen Innes meeting is drawn from: U.R. Ellis, New Australian States, p.153; Harman, 'New State Agitation', pp.199-200; Harman 'Politics at the Electoral Level', p.31; Thompson, Brief History; and Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', p.48.
Ellis, New Australian States, p.153.
Page to F.C. Smart, Fassifern, Murwillumbah, 18 December 1920. Page Papers, National Library, MS 1633/1021/153.
See Daily Observer, 15 November 1920, 29 November 1920; Sydney Morning Herald, 22 November 1920. Cited Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', pp.37-38.
Daily Observer, 29 November 1920. Cited ibid.
Page to Thompson, 18 December 1920. Page Papers, National Library, MS 1633/1021/160-161.
Australia Subdivided. The First New State, "Examiner" Printing Works, Glen Innes, December 1920.
The signatories appear also to have paid for the booklet. (Aitkin, The Colonel, p.52). During the first four years of the Movement, Drummond contributed fifty pounds a year to its costs.
The description given by one witness to the 1924-1925 New States Royal Commission. Another witness described it as 'our testament'. 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.10.
Australia Subdivided, p.10.
This material is drawn from the transcript of the interview between Drummond and George Baker, February, 1964. In FP.
For similar reasons he immersed himself in graphs and statistics, learning how to collect and present information. Ibid.
Drummond described how he taught himself to type during these sessions (ibid). However, the final result, while no doubt speedy, was marked by misspellings, misused words, distinctive abbreviations and erratic spacings. Since state members did not have electorate secretaries, ability to type was a distinct advantage for members.
NSWPD, Vol.79, 25 August 1920, p.431.
The development of the Labor platform is outlined in Ellis, New Australian States, p.133ff.
Page to Thompson, 18 December 1920. Page Papers, National Library, MS 1633/1021/160-161. Page to Perdriau, 18 December 1920. Page Papers, National Library, MS 1633/1021/142.
Aitkin, The Colonel, p.52.
On 1 February 1921 Drummond wrote to Page: '... very pleased indeed that you have treated my blundering efforts so generously. So far I have not taken the field but Thompson and I start on Monday next for a tour in the north-west.' Page Papers, National Library, MS 1633/1021/116.
Northern New State Movement, Official Summary of Proceedings of Convention held at Armidale on April 19, 20, & 21, cited Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level,' p.205.
Armidale Express, April 25 1921. Cited R.W. Birch, 'The New State Movement in Northern New South Wales', BA (Hons) thesis, Sydney University (New England University College), 1947, p.25.
21 April 1921. Cited Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level', p.205.
The Constitutional discussion is drawn from: C. Howard, Australia's Constitution, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1978, particularly pp.57-64, p.129ff; H.R. Anderson, 'The Constitutional Framework', in S.R. Davis (ed.), The Government of the Australian States, Longmans, London, 1960, pp.1-53, pp.52-53; J. Quick and R.R. Garran, The Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1901, pp.941-942, p.967ff. Material has also been drawn from the Page Papers in the National Library: A.P. Canaway, K.C. & R. Windeyer, K.C., Legal opinion on the alteration of the constitution, 4 October 1921 (MS 1633/1022); Windeyer to Page, 19 October 1921 (MS 1633/1022); R.R. Garran (Solicitor General) to the Secretary of Prime Minister's Department, 13 July 1922 (MS 1633/1026); W.M. Hughes to Higgs, 30 October 1922 (ibid).
Ellis, New Australian States, pp.154-155.
Page to Thompson, 18 December 1920. Page Papers, National Library, MS 1633/1021/160-161.
Northern Daily Leader, March 1921. Cited Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', p.48.
Convention details are in Ellis, New Australian States, pp.154-155; Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level', pp.205-6; Moore, 'The Causes of Agitation', p.48ff; and Birch, 'The New State Movement', p.23ff. Details on Forde are from: J. Rydon, A Biographical Register of the Commonwealth Parliament 1901-1972, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1975, p.77.
Ellis, New Australian States, p.155.
Official Summary of Proceedings, Cited Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', p.52.
Cited ibid, p.52.
Cited Ellis, New Australian States, p.155.
Official Summary of Proceedings. Cited Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', p.52.
13 August 1920. Cited ibid, p.38.
Official Summary of Proceedings, Cited ibid, p.49.
Perdriau to Page, 15 May 1921. Page Papers, National Library, MS 1633/1021/163-166.
Cohen Commission Report, p.7. See also Ellis, New Australian States, p.162ff.
Cited Ellis, New Australian States, p.162.
A copy of the Conference Agenda is in the Page Papers, National Library, MS 1633/1023.
The decisions listed by Ellis (New Australian States, pp.162-164) are generally consistent with the Agenda. The handwritten notes on the copy of the Agenda in the Page Papers (while not completely clear) also suggest this.
Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level', p.206.
Aitkin, The Colonel, p.52.
Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level', p.206.
Daily Examiner, Leader, 15 August 1921. FSA Conference Report 1921.
Daily Examiner, Leader, 15 August 1921.
Harman, 'New State Agitation', p.30.
Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level', p.205. Also Northern Daily Leader, 22 November 1921. Cited Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', pp.54-55.
The material in this paragraph is drawn from Ellis, New Australian States, p.158; and from G. Sawer, Australian Federal Politics and Law 1901-1929, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1956, p.203.
Sawer comments: 'The Bill was brought in at the fag end of the first session, when in any event there was not time to deal with it properly. Page's proposals for equal representation of the States would have ensured that no proposals to extend Commonwealth powers could have been carried, so it seems likely that he must by now have abandoned his earlier proposals (highly unpopular with most of his Country Party colleagues) for greater federal powers'. (Footnote 131, p.203). Leaving aside the question of attitude of Page's colleagues, (the extent of support in the country for both new states and constitutional reform throws some doubt on this assertion) there is no evidence at this stage to suggest either that Page had abandoned his proposals or that equal elected representation from the States would have made the Convention more conservative.
Northern Daily Leader, 9 December 1921. Cited Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', pp.55-56.
Northern Daily Leader, 31 December 1921. Cited ibid, pp.55-56.
The Progressive Party of New South Wales, Constitution and Rules, Sydney, 1920. Cited Graham, 'Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', p.305.
N.S.W. Graziers' Annual, 1921, p.29; N.S.W. FSA Conference Report, 1921, pp.58-63. Cited ibid, p.306.
For a discussion of the strategic problems faced by both the Progressives and the other emerging country parties see Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties'; and Graham, The Formation of the Australian Country Parties.
Ellis, The Country Party, p.58.
Goldsborough Mort and Co papers, ANU Archives, Letter book CP20, pp.921-2. Cited Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', p.316.
Graham, ibid, p.316.
Main to Graham, 17 July 1956. Cited ibid, p.311.
Sydney Morning Herald, 16 July 1920. Cited Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', p.318.
Daily Telegraph, 1 February 1921. Cited ibid.
Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', p.318.
Minutes of the Political Executive of the Progressive Party, 23 February 1921. Cited Ellis, The New South Wales Country Party, p.58.
FSA Conference Report, 1921, p.21. Cited Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', p.320.
FSA Conference Report, 1920, p.64, Cited ibid.
NSWPD, Vol.83, 8 September 1921, pp.288-301.
Cited in M. Perks, 'The Rise to Leadership', in H. Radi and P. Spearritt (eds.), Jack Lang, Hale and Iremonger, Neutral Bay, 1977, pp.22-37, p.28.
NSWPD., Vol.85, 29 November 1921, pp.2160-2181.
Ibid, 6 December 1921, pp.2436-2443.
Sydney Morning Herald, 6 February 1922. Cited Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', p.324.
The Real History of the Coalition - A Final Word from the Seven Progressives - An apologia put out by the Progressives for the 1922 election. Cited Aitkin, The Colonel, p.57.
Sydney Morning Herald, 20 January 1922 (statement by Buttenshaw); 6 February 1922 (statement by Wearne). Cited Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country parties', p.325. See also Aitkin, The Colonel, p.56.
Sydney Morning Herald, 19 January 1922 (statement by Kilpatrick). Cited Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', p.325.
Sydney Morning Herald, 21 December 1921, 9 January 1922 (statement by Ley). Cited ibid.
NSWPD, Vol.85, 8 December 1921, pp.2598-2600.
Sydney Morning Herald, 14 December 1921. Cited Graham 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', p.325.
Interview between Graham and Hugh Main. Cited ibid, p.326.
Sydney Morning Herald, 21 January 1922 (statement by Oakes). Cited ibid.
Ellis, The New South Wales Country Party, p.61. Buttenshaw was later to claim that Ley switched sides at the last moment before the vote was taken. (Sydney Morning Herald, 24 January 1922, cited Ellis, ibid). If so, it was a crucial defection since one vote would have given the anti-Coalitionists a clear majority.
Aitkin, The Colonel, pp.57-58.
Ellis, The New South Wales Country Party, p.61.
Sydney Morning Herald, 24 January 1922 (statement by A.E. Hunt). Cited Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', p.326. There is in fact some confusion on the exact vote.
Sydney Morning Herald, 19 December 1921. Cited ibid, p.327.
Drummond's description of the split in this and the following paragraphs is drawn from DM, pp.85-91.
The Monday date is inferred from internal evidence.
Graham, 'The Political Strategies of the Australian Country Parties', pp.327-328.
Sydney Morning Herald, 21 December 1921. Cited ibid, p.329.
NSWPD, Vol.85, 20 December 1921, p.2618.
Quoted in DM, p.86.
NSWPD, Vol.85, 22 December 1921, p.2667.
Ibid, 21 December 1921, p.2625.
Ibid, 22 December 1921, p.2667.
Ibid, 22 December 1921, pp.2725-2726.
Ibid, 22 December 1921, pp.2733-2734.
Ibid, 22 December 1921, pp.2734-2735.
Ibid, 22 December 1921, pp.2741-2742.
Ibid, 22 December 1921, p.2749-2750.
Ibid, 22 December 1921, p.2739.