Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Drummond's life 7 - the Nicholas Commission 1932-1935

The Governor's dismissal of Lang, however welcome it may have been to the opposition parties, created a new and dangerous situation.[1] Whatever the dissensions in the Labor Party, it still had a majority in the Assembly and could therefore defeat Stevens on the floor of the House at the next sitting day, Tuesday 17 May. The political and constitutional consequences of such a defeat were incalculable, and it had to be avoided at all costs. There was only one certain way of doing this: a caretaker government must be formed, gazetted and the Parliament prorogued before midnight on Monday 16 May. This done, an election could then be called without reconvening the Parliament. However, before these steps could be taken, Stevens had to reach some form of agreement with the Country Party.

The Governor's action had placed the Country Party in a quandary. The Party's decision to reject the previous coalition agreement and contest all seats reflected the traditional and deep-seated view that independent action best served the interests of the Party and its supporters, a view reinforced by the Party's renewed commitment to the separatist cause and by the not impossible hope that independent action could see it emerge as the major non-Labor party.[2] In these circumstances a renewed coalition, with the inevitable reimposition of limits on the Party's right to contest seats, not only meant the sacrifice of the Party's electoral hopes but could also expose it to criticism from some of its own supporters. but if they did not agree, then the Party would be exposed to very serious criticism from other quarters. At a hastily convened Central Council meeting on the Sunday, Drummond summed up their dilemma:

The position was fraught with danger, unless we could persuade the people that our actions would result in them obtaining that for which we have fought so long. If we did not enter in to some arrangement with Mr Stevens, we would have to face very serious criticism, and if he went out and stated the terms on which he desired us to co-operate with him, we would have dangerous repercussions. The Press would flog us. He was reluctantly compelled to admit that under the present conditions in the country we had to come to some arrangement's with the U.A.P., but we should give our Leader some idea of the irreducible minimum that would be acceptable to us... our policy put into operation, a Boundaries Commission appointed, and a referendum taken immediately.[3]

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the pressure he was under, Stevens accepted these terms immediately. In addition, he agreed that there should be four Country Party Ministers (Bruxner, Buttenshaw, Drummond and Main) in the interim ministry of ten, and that this proportion would be maintained following the election.

Whatever Drummond's own reservations, now that the die was cast he moved quickly to avert any criticism of the decision. On 19 May he sent identical letters to twenty of his key supporters within the Armidale electorate, stressing that the circumstances surrounding Lang's dismissal made coalition necessary, but also assuring them that he still supported the separatist cause.[4] 'It was not until I was assured that this part of our programme would be definitely safeguarded and that the principal points of our policy would be accepted by the Leader of the United Australia Party, that my colleagues and myself agreed to enter into any consideration of a joint endeavour to save the State from Langism.' Drummond need not have worried. The country reaction to Lang's dismissal and to the new coalition was wild relief, and the coalition went into the election campaign (an election had been called for 11 June) on a wave of popular enthusiasm.

It had been agreed that Stevens would deliver the policy speech for the two parties, and this he did over two nights, in Sydney on 25 May and then at Mudgee on the following night. His presentation was cautious, promising little, but was nevertheless satisfactory from a country viewpoint, for it gave prominence to both rehabilitation of the primary producer and constitutional reform. A United Australia Party - Country Party Government, he declared, would support the constitutional reform principles contained in the Joint Policy agreed to by the two parties the previous November.[5] This was most satisfactory, for it committed the Government to support moves to amend the Federal Constitution to facilitate the creation of new states and to re-align state and federal powers. However, the best was still to come: a coalition Government, Stevens promised, would be 'prepared in such areas of New South Wales whose boundaries would be defined by an impartial, expert and non-political tribunal to take a referendum' on the new states issue and abide by the people's decision. For the first time, the Northerners had a firm promise of government action.

The election campaign was short but emotional. Threatened on one side by the coalition parties and on the other by the Federal Labor Party which was running its own candidates against his State Labor Party, Lang fought back: his policy speech, delivered at Auburn on 26 May, was greeted with riotous applause by the large crowd. On the coalition side, too, there were large and emotional meetings.

Drummond and Bruxner concentrated their attention on the central west, an area where Country Party support had always been patchy.[6] The two campaigned well as a team. As Party Leader Bruxner would go first, concentrating on the main centres, with Drummond following a few days later, looking after the smaller centres and particularly those that Bruxner was forced to miss. Despite these pressures, Drummond found time to campaign in Newcastle on behalf of the Mayor, Alderman C.J. Parker, who was running as an All For Australia candidate.[7] This move was significant for two reasons. As Minister for Education, Drummond had built up contacts in Newcastle, and he was therefore one of the few Country Party parliamentarians with any form of political base in the city. More importantly, it was a sign that his attitude towards Newcastle was changing. At the time of the Maitland Convention he had opposed a far southern boundary for New England, largely on pragmatic grounds. Now, however, he felt that there was 'a place, and a very definite place, for Newcastle in the scheme of things', and accordingly in his Newcastle campaign address he set out the reasons why Newcastle should join with those further north.[8]

The elections proved a Country Party triumph. The Party increased its representations from thirteen to twenty-five, gaining three seats in the North, five in the central west and four in the Riverina. Its share of the vote increased to 15 per cent, the highest it would ever be. Labor's vote was correspondingly reduced. Within the new state area as defined at Maitland, the combined Labor vote (including that received by Federal Labor candidates) fell from 42.6 per cent to 30.9 per cent of the total vote.[9] Even Newcastle and the coalfields were affected. There the Labor vote fell from 81.4 per cent to 72.1 per cent, a sharp fall but not enough to return any of the non-Labor candidates. Drummond share in his Party's success: his vote in Armidale rose from 52.1 to 66.2 per cent, the highest percentage he would ever get.



The United Country Party's success presented it with a new challenge.[10] Since the split in 1921, the Party had operated as a small cohesive force, linked by ties of friendship as well as common political loyalties. The situation now was very different, for with twenty-five members in the Assembly the UCP was the second largest party; the election debacle had reduced Lang's Labor Party to just twenty-four seats. Whereas in the past the Northerners had dominated the Party, they were now slightly outnumbered by members from other parts of the state. The challenge to the Party, then, was to maintain its old cohesion and direction in these very different circumstances.

In practice, the challenge turned out to be more apparent than real, for the Country Party maintained its traditional cohesion with relative ease. This was no doubt due in part to Bruxner's leadership for (as of old) he had the ability to inspire and give loyalty. It was also assisted by the long experience and high standing of the Party's other leaders, including Drummond. Beyond these things were two further influences. The first was the basic homogeneity of the Parliamentary Party. As Aitkin pointed out in his biography of Bruxner,[11] the Party had never been a rich man's party. Most of its parliamentarians were, like David Drummond, men from humble backgrounds who had established a position in life by hard work and good fortune; of the thirteen parliamentarians who went to the people in June, six had started in manual occupations, mainly farm labouring, while only two came from the grazing elite and one from the urban professional class. The June election had maintained this pattern. Although the new members had more diverse backgrounds, the self-made man again predominated. The existence of widely shared experiences within the Parliamentary Party helped create common ideas and, as such, aided unity. This process was strongly reinforced by the second influence, separatism. Not only did the new members include new state leaders such as R.H. Hankinson and George Wilson, but the campaigns of the previous two years meant that all members shared, to some extent at least, the new state ideology. As such, it provided a strong emotional bonding within the Party and between the Party and its supporters. This would erode in time, but for the present it was a powerful influence.

The elections had also increased the United Australia Party's numbers sharply, from twenty-three to forty-one. However, here the resemblance ended, for the UAP lacked the Country Party's unity. In addition, the UAP had inherited the old Nationalist dislike of the Country Party as a third party. Its members were conscious that, with just five more seats, they could have done as their federal colleagues had done and formed a solely UAP government. This quickly led to trouble. The pre-election agreement had specified that there would be two Country Party ministers for every three from the United Australia Party. Now, faced with such a large back-bench, an embarrassed Stevens was forced to ask Bruxner whether he would object to the inclusion of one or two more UAP ministers. Bruxner agreed, and Stevens subsequently announced a new ministry of fifteen. It included five Country Party ministers (Bruxner, Buttenshaw, Drummond, Main and Vincent) instead of the six that would have been necessary to maintain the originally agreed ration, as well as two UAP honorary ministers.

Although this problem had been settled amicably enough, it was a foretaste of things to come. However, for the present, the members of the Stevens-Bruxner Government were too busy, too absorbed in day-to-day pressures, to have time for internal fights. The economic and social problems facing the State were difficult enough, but the new Ministry had also to cope with an administrative backlog inherited from the last chaotic days of the Lang administration. For the first twelve months Cabinet met three times per week, beginning at 10.30am and continuing until midnight.[12] There were few breaks in this unending round, for the Cabinet even ate together in a private room, allowing discussions to continue.

While Cabinet's time was necessarily heavily devoted to Depression and Depression-related issues, Ministers had also to consider the constitutional reform promises made in Stevens' policy speech. Three days after the election, Page's private secretary, Ulrich Ellis, set out the new staters' position in a letter to an officer of the Bank of New South Wales.[13] There were, he suggested, three related constitutional questions that had to be decided, Legislative Council reform, territorial subdivision and redistribution of federal and state powers. Of these, territorial division was the most difficult, and action must not be delayed; the area to be offered statehood must be defined by a boundaries commission, while a technical committee should be appointed to solve the legal and financial problems.

Ellis' emphasis on the need to move immediately on the subdivision question was sound, and the Government did indeed take the first step quickly: it appointed a Cabinet sub-committee consisting of Roy Vincent (UCP), Joseph Jackson (UAP), with Drummond in the chair, to examine the technical problems associated with the proposed Boundaries Commission.[14] To assist the sub-committee's work, Drummond was given authority to consult H.S. Nicholas K.C. on the various legal problems involved. But after this first step, the Government took no further action. Instead, Legislative Council reform was made the overriding constitutional priority.[15] This emphasis on Council reform is not surprising, given the fears raised by Lang. Legislation such as the Mortgages Taxation Bill suggested that it was not sufficient just to protect the Council from abolition; it must also have the power to prevent extreme legislation, and this could not be guaranteed by a nominee chamber alone.

At the end of June the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Cabinet had six separate plans before it, and that a Cabinet sub-committee had been appointed to investigate them.[16] Over the next two months press reports suggested that the Government was continuing to examine a variety of options including some mixture of elected and nominee members.[17] In the event, the Government returned to the Drummond/Bavin proposals of 1929. Legislation to this effect was introduced on 13 September 1932, and the proposals were then put to the people on 13 May 1933.

While the new legislation was the same as the Bavin/Drummond scheme of 1929, and hence very similar to the second Drummond proposal of 1927, it did differ from that proposal in one significant way. Drummond's original idea had been that where a member retired or died between elections, his place should be filled by a member of his own party. 'We were so obsessed with the idea of keeping the House a non-party House that we did not accept that', Bruxner told a Country Party Conference in 1953. 'We tried as far as we could to see that there was no such thing as a Party in the Legislative Council'.[18] This proved a bad error. Since Council members were elected by the combined vote of the two houses, it allowed the party with the greatest aggregate numbers to win all by-elections. Even during the thirties, when the Country Party at least was committed to the Drummond principle, some casual vacancies were filled by other than members of the original party. Once the Labor Party gained a clear majority in the forties the principle went by the board: Labor had never accepted it, and the Party thereafter ensured that all casual vacancies were filled by Labor supporters.

While the proposals were accepted by the people, the referendum campaign was an uncertain affair. With the defeat of Lang, passions subsided, and consequently so did fear of Upper House manipulation. The Labor Party campaigned strongly against the proposals: if Labor members could not abolish the Council, then they preferred a nominee chamber regardless of their previous violent attacks upon it. In the end the winning margin was small, 40,904 in a poll of nearly 1.4 million. This vote was a sign that the electorate was returning to its traditional voting pattern. In Armidale, the yes vote was 56.6 per cent as compared with the 66.2 per cent Drummond had obtained the previous June.[19] Equally importantly, whereas Drummond had obtained a majority in fifty-four of the fifty-nine polling booths, now twelve booths gave no majorities; Labor strongholds such as Uralla and Tingha had returned to their traditional allegiance. The voting pattern was significant in another way as well; since the separatist cause had risen with anti-Lang feeling, the vote suggested that popular enthusiasm for separation might be in decline. This was in fact the case.



In June 1932 Drummond's dream of a separate New England appeared at last to be within reach. Not only was the new Government publicly committed to meeting the separatist demands but, with twenty-five Country Party members in the Assembly, the separatists seemed to have the numbers required to compel the Government to carry out its promises. However, they still faced formidable problems in turning the dream into reality. The basic issue was simple enough: while the political turmoil of the preceding years had increased the separatists' strength, the existing system still had powerful vested interests committed to its maintenance. Opposition from these had to be overcome if separation (or any other major constitutional change) was to be achieved. This was no easy task. The Northerners' previous campaigns suggested that the Sydney Government (and those that supported it) would never voluntarily relinquish territory, and would respond only to overwhelming pressure. To date, the separatists had been unable to sustain the necessary pressure. Their campaigns had forced the Government to react, to temporize and to grant concessions, but never to consider seriously their basic demands. Could they now, with their new strength, change this situation?

The strength of the opposition was clear from the beginning. The separatists' old adversary, the Sydney Morning Herald, quickly came out against them.[20] The paper was in a difficult position. It was not prepared to accept the separatist proposals but, as a strong supporter of the new Government, could not attack them directly. Instead, the paper counselled delay and patience. The Government's commitment meant that new states would, for the first time, enter the realm of practical politics sometime during the next three years, but there were far more pressing issues to be resolved first. The Herald's opposition was not the only problem. Within the Assembly, the Labor Party would fight separation to the death while the UAP was less than enthusiastic. Of the forty-one UAP members, twenty-nine came from Sydney, with the remainder coming largely (but not exclusively) from country areas such as the South Coast and the metropolitan fringe where separatist support was weak. Drummond must have been aware of these problems, but they do not seem to have affected his determination to bring his dream into existence.

As we shall see in the next chapter, he remained an active Minister for Education. But despite the demands of his portfolio, throughout 1932 and 1933 he poured his efforts into the separatist cause. As soon as the election was over, and the Cabinet sub-committee appointed, he moved in several directions at once. His first problem was to define boundaries for the new units for consideration by the proposed Boundaries Commission. This involved several steps. He had first to develop general criteria by which boundaries could be defined. Once this was done, the new units as defined had to be accepted by the UCM in general and by the constituent movements in particular. Finally, the new boundaries had to be accepted by those living within the proposed units. In all, this was no mean task.

In their previous discussions on the boundary issue, the New Englanders had developed very general principles to be used in the determination of new self-governing units.[21] They considered first that such units must be relatively small so as to allow their governments to concentrate fully on the development of the territories under their control. However, while the desirability of smallness was accepted by all, there had been considerable dispute as to what the minimum size should be. Many within both the New England and Riverina Movements, influenced by the belief that small states would lead to simplified government and also by their faith in the development potential of their own areas, had wanted very small units. Others, conscious of the need for a certain minimum size if the new state was to be a fully viable partner within the Federation, had wanted significantly larger units to begin with; further subdivision could then take place as required once the new state had developed.

Smallness was associated with a second general principle, that of community of interest. It was necessary to break 'down the big, unwieldy and inefficient Parliaments into smaller units, having a community of interest and a common purpose', Colonel White had written in 1931.[22] Although 'community of interest' was never precisely defined, the general intent was clear enough: the boundaries of the new states must be defined in such a way that the people living within them had shared outlooks and aspirations.

The necessary vagueness associated with ideas such as 'smallness' and 'community of interest' meant that they were of limited assistance when dealing with the practical problems associated with the definition of boundaries. Nevertheless, they did provide general guidelines which Drummond made use of in drawing up boundary proposals for consideration by the Boundaries Conference that the UCM had convened for 13 July 1932.

Drummond's initial proposals provided for the division of New South Wales into either three, four or five units.[23] In developing them, he had to take into account three overriding constraints: the strongly defined centres of interest in New England and the Riverina meant that each must become a unit in its own right; the boundaries of New South Wales may have represented historical circumstance rather than basic geographical or economic realities, but the State's long existence had imposed its own print on the pattern of human life, and this could not be ignored; finally, some means had to be found for handling the overwhelming population concentration that had developed within the Sydney metropolitan area. The last was the most important constraint.

Drummond suggested two alternative solutions to the Sydney problem. Under the first, New South Wales would have been reduced to a coastal strip centred on the old capital. The exact boundaries of this strip varied depending on the scheme, but in general it would have included the central coast of New South Wales, part of the south coast, and the inland mountain ranges. In essence, it incorporated those areas of New South Wales that came most strongly under the direct influence of Sydney. The dramatic nature of this territorial reduction - it would have reduced New South Wales to an area of between thirteen and nineteen thousand square kilometres, giving the State a territory less than half the size of Tasmania - makes it sound a drastic solution. However, to keep this in perspective, New South Wales would still have had an area equal to or greater than nine of the U.S. states and would also, in terms of population and resources, still have been the second most powerful unit within the Federation. In addition, this solution did offer one major advantage: it would have allowed the subdivision of the remainder of New South Wales into three or four units of roughly equivalent population and resources, each with a population significantly higher than that of Tasmania. Drummond's second solution to the Sydney problem was a simple tri-partite division of the State into northern, central and southern units. This would have given the New England and Riverina Movements their long-sought goal, while leaving Sydney with a significant hinterland under its control.

Turning to New England itself, Drummond's proposals incorporated three alternative boundaries, which precisely reflected the various stages in the New England Movement's history. As before, the main problem lay in the southern boundary. Drummond's first alternative incorporated the boundary as set in the coastal proposals, that is it included most of the North Coast, the Tablelands and Western Slopes but excluded the Hunter Valley and the Taree-centred Manning Valley; these areas were to be incorporated in another new state centred at Newcastle. The second alternative adopted the boundaries as set at the 1931 Maitland Convention. As such, it incorporated the Upper Hunter, an area of consistent separatist support, and Manning Valley but left Newcastle within the Sydney state. Finally, Drummond suggested a low southern boundary that incorporated Newcastle and all the Hunter.

It is clear that Drummond himself supported the idea either of a separate Newcastle-centred state or of the inclusion of Newcastle and the lower Hunter within New England. On 23 June he wrote to Alderman Parker, the Mayor of Newcastle, saying that he would like to discuss with him the part Newcastle might play in the sub-division movement.[24] It had, Drummond went on, long been clear to him that Newcastle's growing importance meant that the city 'must become a very important factor in the whole business, not only from our point of view but for its own good, and its future welfare.' However, and here he made a point that was to become a constant theme in the separatists' treatment of Newcastle, that city itself must take the lead. Should it not do so, he warned, then the alternative was the inclusion of Newcastle in a Sydney state. This warning hit home. Parker recognised that Newcastle's commercial future depended in part on the maintenance of its Northern links, and over the coming months he was to argue strongly that Newcastle must be included in New England.

While Drummond was drawing up his boundary plans and trying to organise Newcastle, planning continued for the UCM Boundaries Conference which met in Sydney on 13 July 1932.[25] It was a big meeting, with twenty-six parliamentarians, fifty-six delegates and five observers from Newcastle and two from Illawarra. The Newcastle team was led by Parker and included Alderman Kilgour (a former Mayor), and the NENCO joint managing directors J.J. Price and W.E. Taylor. Hardy's opening remarks set the tone of the meeting. Over the next twelve months, he told delegates, an intensive campaign would be conducted for the creation of new Federal units. However, he warned that they 'would have to face a blast of criticism, especially from the cities.' Many of the other parliamentarians also warned of the difficulties. They could not hope to succeed, Page told them, without substantial backing in Sydney, while Bruxner warned that attacks would be made on the ground that small states could not be financially viable.

In the midst of these warnings, it was left to Drummond to strike a positive note. He began by tracing the history of the fight for subdivision, concluding 'that what was once derided as parochial and un-Australian was now regarded authoritatively as being in the realm of practical politics.' He then went on to discuss the boundaries issue. The best scheme, he suggested, was a simple tri-partite division into northern, central and southern. Drummond's support for this scheme must have been a disappointment to many of the delegates. Not only dit it leave the west and central west under the control of a Sydney government, but it ran against the recurrent trend in country thought in favour of significantly smaller self-governing units. It seems probable that the parliamentarians had discussed this issue prior to the meeting, for all spoke strongly in favour of a tri-partite subdivision. Their arguments swayed the Conference, and delegates accepted the Drummond proposal in principle. A committee, consisting of representatives from the New England, Riverina, Western and South Coast-Monaro Movements, plus Newcastle and Sydney, was appointed to examine the scheme in detail; Drummond was appointed one of the New England representatives.

This Committee met two days later, on 15 July.[26] It re-affirmed the tri-partite principle, but not without opposition from the Western Movement. At the Boundaries Conference its delegates had accepted the inclusion of Sydney within the central state, but this decision proved unacceptable to many within the Western Movement, forcing the Western delegates into opposition to the Drummond scheme. Despite the Committee's decision to re-affirm support for the tri-partite scheme, (a decision subsequently confirmed by the UCM Executive on 26 August) there was widespread support for the Western position. It was therefore decided that while the tri-partite scheme would be the official UCM position, the Western Movement should be allowed to present its own case, with its own boundaries, to the proposed Boundaries Commission.

An important aspect of both boundaries meetings was the presence of delegates from the Sydney-based Federal Reconstruction Movement.[27] Formed early in July 1932, the Movement's objective was to work towards 'the constitutional reconstruction of the Federation with a view to simplification, economy and progress.'[28] While the impetus for its formation seems to have come from the Sydney new staters, the new organisation included many not previously connected in any way with the new state cause, including R.W.G. Mackay, H.L. Harris, F.A. Bland, I.D. Fell and G. Remington. The presence of these particular new members was important, for they were all part of an interlocking group of intellectual activists brought together by the traumatic events of the Depression.[29]

Generally drawn from the professional and academic elites of Sydney, and particularly from among those who had been actively involved in the Workers' Educational Association, the group began to question a system that could allow such a disaster as the Depression to happen. They were generally not revolutionaries, but instead wanted to remove the defects from the existing system. The group was always diffuse, linked together through common organisations such as the Federal Reconstruction Movement, the Round Table, the Constitutional Association, the Free Library Movement and (particularly) the Australian Institute of Political Science, and through certain common beliefs. In this regard they believed, with varying degrees of certainty, in state intervention and state planning, in discussion and interchange of information, in the need for improved national efficiency, and in the duty of the state to intervene to reduce social hardship. There was much argument among them, but out of the debate grew ideas that would later form an important part of post-war reconstruction and of the emerging Australian welfare state.

The members of this broad group were not necessarily new staters. Nevertheless, the group was important to the separatist cause and to Drummond personally. Many in the group, if now new staters, were sympathetic to the needs and aspirations expressed by the United Country Movement, and were therefore prepared to give it some measure of support. Thus the Country Party's espousal of new states and constitutional reform had given the Party, as it had previously for a brief period during the twenties, a reform constituency in areas far removed from its normal electoral base. For Drummond himself, the organisations formed by the group, and particularly the Australian Institute of Political Science, gave him a further platform from which to expound his views.

The UCM boundaries meetings may have accepted the tri-partite division, and laid down general boundaries, but a number of problems remained. The suggested boundaries, but a number of problems remained. The suggested boundaries had to be accepted by the various divisions and that meant, in New England's case, acceptance of Newcastle. Although there was no immediate evidence of serious opposition on this point, the previous boundary disputes provided ample evidence that acceptance could not be taken for granted. Drummond was well aware of this. He continued his support for the Newcastle separatists, both within Newcastle.[30] and further north. Thus at the first meeting of the New England Executive following the Sydney meeting (on 12 August), Drummond reported on the boundaries discussions and explained why Newcastle had been included in the Northern area.[31] Although the meeting did express its support for the Western Movement's desire for their own state, there was not formal opposition to Newcastle's inclusion. However, some opposition did emerge at the New England Division's first annual conference, held in Armidale on 18 and 19 November 1932.[32]

It was a large and representative meeting, attended by fourteen parliamentarians and by 161 delegates from ninety-four sub-groups, with delegates coming from nearly all parts of New England; the most obvious gap was the absence (apart from Parker himself) of any delegates from the lower Hunter. However, reflecting the New England Movement's new position as a division of the Country Party-affiliated United Country Movement, it was a very different meeting from previous conventions. For a start, the composition of delegates was noticeably different. Whereas a majority of past delegates had come from shire and municipal councils and from civic groups such as progress associations, such delegates were now completely absent. Further, since the great majority of sub-groups was to be found in rural areas, that rural weighting first visible at the Maitland Convention was now virtually complete. There was also a noticeable change in the matters discussed. As before, the majority of the Conference's time was devoted to constitutional issues and to the achievement of the new state goal. However (as might be expected in what was now a party organisation) there was also much discussion of electoral laws and organisation and of day-to-day items of country life, such as rabbits and wire-netting; the continued importance of such topics at Country Party State Conferences has always bemused the city observer, forgetful that to those involved these items are as important as harbour crossings or beach pollution.

Despite these various differences, the continued emphasis on constitutional reform made the discussion familiar. As at previous conventions, Page made (in words of the Armidale Express) a 'profound impression on the delegates.' 'The Country Movement was essentially a reform progressive movement and reform always brought intense opposition', he told them. The Movement, he suggested, was now very close to getting out of the wilderness. Page went on to make a trenchant attack on the tariff. 'In his opinion nothing in the world could prevent the tariff from toppling over. It was putting two-pence a pound on the cost of wool which is not paying.' They must 'go into every electorate in Australia and fight this question of the tariff.' Page's words struck an immediate chord, for the inequity of the tariff was still a burning country issue.

If Page set the Conference's tone it was Drummond, as before, who moved the key constitutional motion. This affirmed that the early sub-division of New South Wales into self-governing units was a matter of paramount importance to the Commonwealth of Australia; that such self-governing units should be granted a constitution, under the Crown, which would adequately safeguard the people's rights; and that steps should be taken to provide machinery for the elimination of overlapping in federal and state spheres with the National Parliament carrying out national functions. This motion, seconded by Harry Carter, M.L.A. for Liverpool Plains, was duly carried.

In addition to moving the key constitutional motion, Drummond pursued his boundary plans. The Conference had before it motions from the Kentucky and Bundarra sub-groups calling for the exclusion of Newcastle from the Northern State. Alderman Parker, given permission to address the meeting, delivered a strong speech in favour of his city. Newcastle would be a great asset to the new state, Parker told delegates. Its port and industries would be of great benefit. Further, Newcastle did not want to be the capital. It knew that it would be the commercial and industrial capital of the new state, but thought that Armidale should be the political capital. Whether Parker's appeal would have carried the delegates remains unknown, for Drummond did not allow the issue to go to the vote. Instead, the Conference accepted his motion, seconded by Page, that the tentative boundaries accepted by the Northern representatives to the Boundaries Conference should be referred to the sub-groups for their consideration; the Kentucky and Bundarra motions, along with several others, were then left to the Executive for consideration.

Drummond's move no doubt reflected his own belief in the importance of popular consultation, but in a practical sense he probably had no choice. Although the Cabinet sub-committee on the separation issue had already reported to the Premier, the Government had yet to make a decision on the matter.[33] In this regard, Drummond's and Bruxner's combined advice to the Armidale Conference that the Movement must agree on boundaries before asking for a Boundaries Commission no doubt reflected their assessment of the political situation. The Executive could try to impose boundaries, thus speeding the process up, but this ran the risk of re-opening the wounds inflicted by the old debates. At the same time, the decision to refer the proposed boundaries to the sub-groups raised an important problem: the sub-groups had neither the technical expertise not the information with which to make specific boundaries suggestions. To overcome this problem, Drummond had already arranged for the State Statistician to prepare basic information for use by the sub-groups, and he now prepared a draft letter to go to them over Hickson's signature setting out some of the principles involved.[34]

The letter is interesting for a number of reasons. To assist the sub-groups, information was given by statistical division, so that members could 'trace out the result of any sub-division which they may have in mind, not only in regard to its economic effect on the rest of the State.' The need for political and economic balance was stressed: 'members will realise that any proposed sub-division which does not result in a fair distribution of the present and potential wealth of the State and give a fair political distribution will be fiercely opposed and probably defeated.' This last was clearly intended to allay fears expressed earlier by the Sydney Morning Herald that Labor might dominate in a Sydney state. However, it gave rise to one of those delightful ironies inherent in the Movement's new political affiliation. Where else could one get a letter drafted by a senior Country Party Minister, signed by a key party official, and addressed to Country Party branches, advising those branches that they must have political balance, that is they must give Labor a chance to govern? The letter then went to summarise the views of the other Movements (including the dissident position put forward by the Western Movement) regarding boundaries, before setting in conclusion a number of specific questions for the sub-groups to answer.

In discussing the boundaries alternatives, Drummond referred to the views put forward by James MacDonald Holmes, McCaughey Professor of Geography at Sydney University since 1929. MacDonald Holmes and the New England group shared many common concerns. He was particularly interested in the relationship between geography and government - an old Drummond favourite - and the ideas he developed and expressed through books such as The Geographical Basis of Government[35] formed one of the threads that came together in the abortive regional planning attempts of the forties and early fifties. Holmes did not agree with all New England views - he defended centralisation as the thing that had given Australia a modicum of first class things - but he was to provide the New Englanders with one of the things they most needed, as expert witness who, while not committed to their cause, was at least sympathetic.[36]



The care Drummond put into the preparation of the letter to the sub-groups shows the importance he placed upon it: it was well constructed and thoughtful, designed in part to get a specific result but still trying to give the sub-groups sufficient information and guidance to allow them to discuss a complex issue in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, the need to collect the necessary information took time. The Armidale Convention had been held on 18 and 19 November but the letter was not despatched until January 1933. However, in the meantime Drummond had not been idle.

The educational campaign that he and Charles Hardy had launched twelve months earlier had become a very large exercise indeed.[37] Speaker groups, sixty-one in all, were established to educate the faithful in the arguments and to build up a cadre of trained speakers to supplement the efforts of the Movement's leaders. A weekly lecture was prepared at UCM headquarters in Sydney and despatched to the speaker groups and to interested individuals. Reflecting the Movement's new political affiliations, the topics included a range of general political issues as well as separatism. These efforts were supplemented by a visual campaign: slides were prepared and despatched, along with projectors, to key country centres. This central campaign was matched by a variety of activities at a local level. At Armidale, for example, a public debate was organised between Roy Blake, the editor of the Armidale Express, and Bishop Moyes,[38] while at Scone the Scone and District Committee of the United Country Movement published a pamphlet explaining the separatists' position.[39]

Drummond's influence was evident throughout the campaign. He spoke often, particularly to city audiences, as well as preparing material.[40] More importantly, the very tone of the campaign bore a marked Drummond stamp. It was intended to educate, not entertain, and the mass of factual and statistical material required its audience to be willing to learn. Whether this approach was politically wise is open to question, for the separatists had to sell their story as much as educate. Nevertheless, the campaign met with a good response, for the public demand for material outran the Movement's financial capacity to supply it.

The education campaign was certainly needed, for the New Englanders were again facing the old problem of disunity and declining popular enthusiasm. Although Drummond maintained his Newcastle campaign in 1933, speaking at the city in February to a meeting organised in part by the Chambers of Commerce and of Manufactures,[41] it was becoming clear that he had failed to spark any popular enthusiasm. In April, when presented with a fill from the Chamber of Commerce for costs associated with the February meeting, he wrote angrily to Bob Hickson that it was pretty hot it a place like Newcastle could not find sufficient funds to assist itself.[42] This merely strengthened his own beliefs, he went on, 'that if these people want to come in, they will have to fight their own hand and we are not going to bring them in willy willy.'

Further north the separatists had other problems. Beneath the resentments that had been aroused by the inclusion of Newcastle lay the old area rivalries that had dogged previous campaigns. To avoid these, it was necessary to maintain a delicate balance, reconciling the different interests and individual personalities involved. The New England Division had no full-time staff, so that the maintenance of Movement unity was thrown back onto voluntary workers like Bob Hickson as well as the political leaders like Drummond; even with the best will in the world, both were liable to make mistakes.[43] In addition, a new problem had emerged on the coast.

Sydney had always been an important market for Northern produce. The fear that separation might lead to loss of that market was therefore always a potent argument against the separatist cause for those benefiting from Sydney sales. In November 1932 the directors of the powerful Norco Co-operative, fearful for their Sydney butter market, expressed public reservations about the new state proposal. Drummond responded immediately.[44] The people of the North Coast, he told the Lismore Northern Star, 'would expect something more from the Directors of Norco than a mere side-stepping, such as that indicated in their statement.'

In fact, as Drummond recognised, there was a real problem. On 6 December he wrote to Page that, following enquiries, it appeared that the gentleman's agreement governing dairy marketing did give the North Coast butter producer an advantage of about two pence per pound by protecting his Sydney market.[45] This would vanish as soon as the new dairy stabilization scheme was introduced, but in the meantime there was 'a great deal of truth in the claim that the North Coast man... would be hit if subdivision were immediately brought about.' Drummond's response, he told Page, was to suggest to the coastal people that even under the best of conditions subdivision would take time, and by then the market situation would have altered. This was at best a partial solution, and the problem remained a worry. 'I cannot help feeling', he went on, 'that this is not a mere incident, but is part of a very cleverly designed attack on the solidarity of the New State Movement'. While there is no evidence that there was a conspiracy, Drummond's general worry was well founded. The problem continued into 1933, providing a steady focus for anti-separation agitation.

Early in January 1933, the new staters were struck by another blow that affected them personally and politically. Earle Junior, Page's eldest son, was killed by lightning while droving a mob of cattle back to Boolneringhbar, the property Page had purchased in the Upper Clarence.[46] Page decided to withdraw temporarily from politics. He was sorely missed: whatever Drummond's strengths, he lacked Page's ability to generate enthusiasm, and this was now badly needed.

In the midst of these problems came news that seemed to confirm many of the New Englanders' concerns about the future of Australia as a nation. They had long argued that the imbalances within the Federation could lead to secession attempts by the smaller states. Now Western Australia moved to turn this fear into a reality.[47] The growing resentments within the State towards the tariff and the eastern Government, fuelled by the State's depression problems, culminated in a major and popular secession campaign, which led the Western Australian Government to hold a referendum on the issue on 8 April 1933. This resulted in a very large majority for secession - 138,653 to 70,706. The Government then forwarded the State's case to London for decision by the Imperial Parliament. The State's petition would be rejected in 1934 by a Joint Select Committee of the two Houses of the Imperial Parliament on legal grounds, but in the meantime the issue provided continuing ammunition for the eastern separatists.

As the Western Australian referendum campaign got underway, the New South Wales separatists increased their pressure on the State Government.[48] Well aware of the fluctuating public support for their cause, their growing concern turned to anger when they found that the Government intended to proceed first with Upper House reform rather than the long-promised Boundaries Commission. In February 1933, the United Country Movement's Central Council warned Stevens and Bruxner by letter that

the Council of the United Country Movement believes it will be impossible to get the country people to support the Upper House Referendum unless the Boundaries Commission is appointed, and the date of the sitting fixed, before the Upper House Referendum is held.

When this warning seemed to have no effect, the separatists wrote to the Parliamentary Country Party asking for action, and sent telegrams to Stevens from each of the Divisions. Hardy, distressed by the lack of action, wanted to resign as Chairman, but agreed to carry on until they received a reply from the Premier.

The position of Drummond and the other Parliamentary separatists must have been invidious. They had to reconcile the conflicting claims of the cause they supported with their responsibilities to a Government which included UAP members who were, at best, unsympathetic to their ideals. However, by the middle of March they had apparently persuaded the Government to act, for on the 20th Drummond was able to advise Victor Thompson that the Commission was likely to be announced shortly.[49] In fact it would not be announced until August, but this was due as much to the new staters themselves as to any Government delay. For almost four months the decision to appoint the Commission to make H.S. Nicholas the Commissioner, remained an open secret while the various Movements organised themselves.

The Cohen Commission of 1924 had taught the new staters a hard lesson. Now they tried to ensure in advance that the new Commission's report would be favourable. On 7 April the New England Executive directed Thompson to discuss the Commission with Nicholas. Thompson duly arranged to see Nicholas on the afternoon of 1 May. However, earlier that day Drummond spoke to Nicholas himself. He later explained to Thompson: 'As it was doubtful whether I could see Mr. Nicholas at 4.15, the hour which he set down to see you, I thought it well that he should know what was in our minds, and there be ready to give you a considered statement of his intentions', adding, 'I think you will approve of this course.'[50] Drummond's explanation was no doubt accurate enough, but it was also somewhat disingenuous, for following his discussions with Nicholas he had sent him a very carefully worded confidential letter:

Following on our conversation this morning regarding the desire of the New England Divisional Executive to discuss, through Mr V.C. Thompson, M.H.R. matters relevant to the proposed inquiry by yourself, as Boundaries Commissioner, I wish to confidentially place before you the memorandum of the following points:-

1. Will you, as Commissioner, accept evidence from any person or bodies for or against the establishment of new Federal units, or, alternatively, will the acceptance of evidence be limited to representative Bodies and representative men?

2. Will you as Commissioner, advertise in the leading papers of the State as to what persons or Bodies evidence will be accepted from, and in what places, and at what time evidence will be received?

3. Will you, as Commissioner, cross-examine witnesses, or do you propose to recommend that the Crown be represented by Counsel to cross-examine?

4. If the Crown decides to be represented by Counsel, will various Movements also be permitted to retain Counsel to cross-examine witnesses who oppose the proposals for subdivision?

5. Do you, as Commissioner, desire that the Movements should submit a statement of their proposals as to boundaries etc. as a necessary preliminary to any further inquiry throughout the State?

6. Will you, as Commissioner, disregard any question of the desirability of any proposed subdivision, and limit the terms of reference to the fixation of boundaries and the capacity to areas within those boundaries to maintain a separate government?[51]

Drummond's letter is a fascinating document, for it gives a rare private view into the workings of a Royal Commission. His questions certainly set out the New Englanders' main concerns. However, on the surface at least they seem to do rather more than this. As a senior Cabinet Minister, and as Chairman of the Cabinet sub-committee that had been set up to investigate the technical aspects of the new state question, Drummond's words must have carried special weight. Consequently, even though the memorandum is carefully phrased so as not to give Nicholas directions, it comes very close to doing just that. Here Drummond was treading a very narrow line. Nicholas was no mere cypher, and with the Government far from unanimous on the new state issue, any attempt to pre-empt the Commission was potentially dangerous.

In his discussion with Thompson, Nicholas apparently followed closely the grounds set out in Drummond's memorandum, although without in any way compromising his position. On the day following the meeting Thompson wrote to Drummond that Nicholas knew nothing of the Government's ideas regarding terms of reference, but assumed that he would have to inquire into resources, communications and public feeling.[52] He also hoped to have the assistance of Counsel, and would take evidence from individuals as well as organisations. In this regard, and this was a key point, he could not exclude 'anti' opinions. The new staters could not really have expected Nicholas to exclude anti-witnesses, but still this stand opened the way for organised opposition. However, even here there was some comfort: 'He does not think it will be necessary for him to traverse all the ground covered by the last Royal Commission... He expects he will have to report on the practicability of establishing New States within the area suggested: but, he doubts whether he will be able to report on desirability'. This was an important point. The Cohen Commission had had desirability as one of its terms of reference, and had made it the central point in its rejection of the new states cause. Understandably, therefore, the new staters wanted to exclude desirability, limiting the Commission just to practicability. Their ability to do this would, in the end, depend upon the precise wording of Nicholas' terms of reference. In the meantime, his attitude gave them some grounds for hope.

Apart from general issues relating to the running of the Commission, the discussions brought another fact to light. Hardy had already seen Nicholas, Thompson wrote, 'and asked him to postpone the opening of the inquiry till September'. On the surface this was a surprising request, given Hardy's previous desire for action, but it was also realistic: now that the enquiry was a reality the new staters wished to present a strong and united case, and this was going to take time to prepare.

The UCM's Annual Meeting, held in Sydney on 27 June 1933, resolved at least some of the problems facing the respective movements. Drummond, who had gone into the meeting with a number of reservations, was generally satisfied with the outcome.[53] True, the western people were still disorganised, but despite this he felt that the Conference had agreed upon action that would enable them to capitalise on the appointment of the Boundaries Commission. The meeting agreed, first, that Drummond should prepare a joint case to be presented to the Commission on their behalf, following which the individual movements could present their cases. It was also agreed that a combined UCM delegation should see Nicholas the next day to discuss his approach to his task. From a New England viewpoint, perhaps the most important decision was that relating to boundaries for the proposed New England state. Meeting as a sub-committee of the Conference, the New England delegates finally agreed to accept the boundaries as laid down at the Maitland Convention, that is to exclude Newcastle and lower Hunter. Drummond thoroughly approved of this decision. Finally, the Conference elected Bruxner as UCM leader in place of Charles Hardy, who had finally resigned pleading pressure of personal business.

The day after the UCM General Meeting, on 28 June, a UCM sub-committee chaired by White saw Nicholas to discuss the Boundaries Commission.[54] Nicholas' advice was similar to that he had previously given to Thompson. They must assume, he told them, that the advisability of creating new states was not being called into question. However, he would discuss the cost of self-government and examine whether any proposed area could support itself. As such, evidence should deal with means of access, communications, resources and stability; by this last term Nicholas meant capacity to withstand a succession of bad seasons. It should be assumed that each new state would start with the same powers as the original state, but those giving evidence should deal with the question of re-arrangement of powers they considered necessary between the new states and the Commonwealth. One question that would have to be considered was the effect the formation of new states might have on the residue of New South Wales. However, should evidence be given on behalf of Sydney, suggestion that sub-division might be inimical to the interests of the metropolis, then other bodies would be allowed to give evidence in the rebuttal. Cross-examination would also be allowed.

The month following the UCM meeting was an extremely busy one for Drummond.[55] Nicholas had told the UCM sub-committee that it would be two to three months before he began hearings, but Drummond himself was due to leave for Western Australia on 31 July, and there was much to be done before then.

To take maximum advantage of the Commission, the New Englanders needed three things; a strong will-researched case, a good advocate to present it, and money to fund the whole operation. In many ways the last was the key, for without it the case must fail. An appeal for funds was therefore directed at the groups and sub-groups, supplemented by direct appeals to known sympathisers. While the appeal details were being worked out, Drummond turned his attention to the selection of an advocate. His choice fell on C.S. Faulkner, a young Bathurst solicitor. On 14 July he wrote to Faulkner to ask him whether he would accept such a commission, and if so at what remuneration: 'I personally feel that any man handling the case, and handling it well, would establish a reputation for himself and receive an advertisement that would carry him far along the road to professional success', he told him. Faulkner duly accepted the bait.

Of all the demands on Drummond's time during July, the preparation of evidence was probably the heaviest. He had promised the UCM General Meeting that he would prepare a general statement for presentation on behalf of all the movements, but he had also to organise New England's own case. This was a heavy load for a government minister to help coordinate matters, but he still had to do any research and writing himself. Whatever the difficulties, there is no doubt that Drummond's 'desire to serve New England' (as he put it in a letter to White on 27 July) remained total. By the last days of July the draft statement had been prepared and circulated to leaders of the various movements, and he could turn his attention to the preparation of the New England case. Here his task was somewhat easier. Now that he had persuaded the New England Movement to appoint legal counsel, all he had to do was organise the collection of data; Faulkner could then be left to prepare the first draft of the case.

This was still no light task. Over the last week in July Drummond wrote more than a dozen letters seeking detailed information to support the New England case. MacDonald Holmes was asked to prepare a geographical description of the area, various government ministers were asked to provide basic statistical information, while Movement supporters were asked to prepare material on their respective areas of interest such as Page on hydro-electricity and White on defence.

While Drummond was organising the New England case, he found time to visit Wagga on 21 July to attend a Riverina Division Executive meeting.[56] He was impressed. 'They have secured the services of Ulrich Ellis for the preparation of their case and are tackling the whole thing in a very business-like and efficient manner', he wrote to Page. He particularly noted the number of younger men in the Riverina Movement as compared to New England; unless, he suggested, 'we can introduce some vigorous and public spirited young men into our Northern Movement to strengthen the Movement, the "palm will pass" to the Southern people'. He did not begrudge them that,

but when I look at our Northern experience and I realise how much it means, and has meant, to the virility of that Movement, that you took some young cubs like myself and others, such as Bruxner, and pumped your own ideas into us, I feel a little despondent when I note the lack of that type coming forward at the present time.

He then went on to make one of his rare critical comments on his Party colleagues:

Confidentially, the North Coast whilst represented by sound men, are not represented as "blue ribboned" cities should be. Even Grafton, where we ought to have a chap of outstanding driving force, is represented by one who does not appear to take anything very seriously, either in, or out of the House, but otherwise a charming fellow.

Drummond's comments to Page are partially an interesting reflection of his own age. He had turned forty-three the previous February, and while still at the height of his powers no longer saw himself as a young man. But they were also an early sign of a significant problem that would face both the Country Party and the New England Movement. In 1919 and 1920 growing dissatisfaction with the existing state of things had brought into public life a group of men who might not otherwise have sought political careers. They were not interested in political office as such, but rather in rectifying what they saw as wrongs, in trying to put into practice sometimes imprecise but deeply-felt dreams. The problem now was to sustain this drive into the second and third generations in a situation where the very success of the country movements had made the perquisites of office much closer and the grievances and dreams more remote. This was no easy task, and it was to cause Drummond much worry and even despair.



After the events of July, Drummond's main feeling when he and Pearl joined the train to Perth on 31 July was probably one of relief. However, the trip was no holiday: he was there to campaign for the Party, and he spoke often. Nevertheless, it was his first visit to the West and he enjoyed it, being particularly struck by the West's remoteness and by the differences between it and the eastern states. His trip, he told the Sydney Chartered Institute of Secretaries in December, had convinced him that Western Australia was about as remote as the poles.[57]

Drummond's return from Western Australia coincided with the long-awaited appointment of the Boundaries Commission. On 25 August 1933, Nicholas was given a commission to inquire into the areas of New South Wales suitable for self-government and in which referenda should be taken to ascertain the wishes of the electorate.[58] With the Commission's formal appointment, scattered opposition emerged. In the south-west of the state, the Holbrook United Australia Party organisation resolved that new states were a waste of money; there were too many parliaments already. This view was supported by the Gulargambone Branch of the United Country Party; it suggested that the new state cause 'was detrimental to the west and to the state generally'. A Gilgandra supporter of the Country Party wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald that there was no enthusiasm in the west for the new state cause: it had been a mistake for the Country Party to absorb the new staters; the non-Country Party new staters had now returned to their old parties, leaving the Country Party only an absurd, pious, aspiration. On 22 September the Herald resumed its old opposition. 'There remains a suspicion', the paper commented in an editorial, 'that the new states agitation is part of the Country Party's shop-window dressing for election campaigns rather than a necessary commodity in regular demand by country taxpayers.'

This opposition did not surprise Drummond. 'Frankly, I think that we may expect some very insidious and bitter opposition from "the other side" in ways that will be most unexpected', he had written to Harold White early in September. He also knew that this opposition was not going to be easy to overcome: 'However, if our people remain loyal, the sooner the fight is on, the better'.[59]

While Drummond had been in the West, Faulkner had continued with the preparation of the New England case. This was a difficult task. Faulkner had both to prepare the formal case and to coordinate witnesses. In addition, he had to convince the Movement's supporters of the value of the cause and of his work, since they had to provide both the witnesses and the financial support. Fortunately, his appointment proved to be a wise choice. He was hard working and able, and quickly developed (in White's words) 'a very good grip of the position and a good outlook'.[60] He and Drummond seem to have got on; certainly they worked well together.

One of the issues to be resolved in the presentation of the case was New England's ability to support its own government, the issue that had brought them down before the Cohen Commission. In July, Drummond, conscious of the earlier problems, had wanted the New England case to concentrate of the area's primary resources since (in his view) these were the basis of all wealth. This was a dangerous argument. Not only did it ignore the wealth added in other sectors of the economy, but it also implied that the truncated Sydney state would be left in a weak position, since its primary resources were limited. Both White and Faulkner therefore opposed his stance. White told Drummond that they must satisfy Sydney's query as to what would happen to her. In his view, Sydney would prosper as the manufacturing and financial centre regardless of the structure of Government.[61] Faulkner pointed out that manufacturing did create wealth since it added to the value of the primary product, and also noted that they could not ignore the fact that a high proportion of company tax came from city-based manufacturers.[62] Drummond accepted both points, but warned Faulkner of the dangers of trying to draw up detailed income and expenditure estimates: they would, as had happened with Cohen, 'be riddled by the Commission, or at least by our opponents'.[63] As Western Australia which was closer to New England in population and use it as a basis of comparison. This approach had in fact also been criticised by Cohen but it was, as Drummond told Faulkner, much more difficult to criticise than the alternative.

While the New England case was being prepared, moves began to organise the witnesses. Here the Movement suffered an initial set-back. As a government minister, Drummond could not give evidence before the Commission. He therefore had to find someone else to present the general case he had so painstakingly prepared on behalf of all the movements, and this proved difficult. On 6 October he wrote disconsolately to Page to ask him if he was prepared to do it, but Page was apparently unable to help.[64] Apart from this setback, the organisation of witnesses went smoothly. It was agreed that Faulkner would tender the official statement of case, followed by witnesses speaking on behalf of the Movement as a whole; Thompson was to deal with the resources and capacity of the area for development, Page would concentrate on the north coast, while White would deal with defence, the beef industry and land settlement. Their evidence would be supplemented by expert witnesses on geography (MacDonald Holmes), railways (Albert Tooth, a retired rolling stock inspector) and finance (Frederick Sky, a Sydney chartered accountant). With the overall case laid down, local witnesses were to concentrate on their own areas. To assist them, a pamphlet was printed and circulated detailing the approach they should follow,[65] while local committees were formed to coordinate the organisation and presentation of evidence.

While Faulkner handled the preparation of the case and the coordination of witnesses, those with problems almost inevitably gravitated to Drummond. In many cases (Jack Davis, Scone, or Ray Morell, Inverell) it was a simple request for information which could be easily satisfied. However, other problems were more complex and required Drummond's personal attention.

On 14 October J. Lowe, the secretary of the Casino Branch of the United Country Movement, wrote to Drummond to say that the North Coast butter interests were still causing problems and that a drive along the coast was needed to counter the anti-campaign. Drummond agreed that such a drive was necessary, but was unable to undertake it himself.[66] Instead, he wrote to Page asking him to take action.[67] He also wrote to Arnold Sweeney, the Manager of the Inverell Butter Factory, setting out the problem and asking him if he would appear as an expert witness to counter what Drummond described as an insidious campaign;[68] Sweeney apparently agreed, since he appeared as a witness during the Commission's Inverell hearings. Finally, Drummond wrote to J.C. McKenzie, the Manager of the Norco factory at Byron Bay, to suggest that if the Norco board had opposed the new state cause they should reconsider their position.[69] McKenzie replied that the Norco directors had not decided to oppose the new state nor, to his recollection, had they even considered the issue.[70] McKenzie was either being disingenuous or, alternatively, was not aware of the real situation. In November Drummond received another SOS from Lowe: one of their key witnesses, Raymond Perdriau (the former Progressive Party member and long-standing separatist), was reluctant to appear because of the now public attitude of the Norco directors.[71] H.L. Anthony (later MHR for Richmond) also wrote to Drummond to say that Norco's attitude was creating a real problem.[72] Drummond wrote to Perdriau, who agreed to appear, but the difficulty remained.[73]

Not all the news was bad, however. Faulkner had met with a good response wherever he went, the organisation of witnesses had generally proceeded well, funds were coming in (if more slowly than Drummond would have liked), and the preparation of the case itself seems to have generated enthusiasm. In general, Drummond could take some satisfaction from the results. 'Reports from almost every quarter show a continued interest and zeal in securing the objective we have long asked for', he wrote to D.W. Macpherson of Grafton on 9 October, 'and I am anticipating that when the Commission finally takes the field we shall have a very good case indeed to place before the Commissioner'.

The hearings opened in Sydney on 18 October 1933.[74] The first day was devoted to argument as to the Commission's scope and to the presentation of the initial submissions on behalf of the Western and New England Movements. The battle lines were drawn from the start. In his opening remarks Nicholas made it clear that his Commission was set in wide terms. It did not limit the inquiry to any proposed areas or to any number of areas, nor did it furnish him with any test by which to judge the suitability of any area for self-government. The only requirement for which an area must be suitable was that of a state within the Commonwealth of Australia. He did not propose to take general evidence as to the advantages and disadvantages of subdivision or centralisation, nor on the influence which subdivision might have had on the development of other countries. 'On the other hand', he went on,

I shall ask those who advocate the establishment of a new State in any area to show that that area has resources sufficient to enable it to carry on as a State in the Commonwealth, and I shall be glad of evidence of the effect which the excision on any portion of New South Wales will have on the part that is left.[75]

He would also accept any evidence that might be tendered on the suitability of any extended form of local government.

In the discussions that followed Nicholas' remarks the separatists, and particularly P.C. Spender (who was appearing as counsel with S. Jamieson on behalf of the Riverina Movement), tried to limit the scope of the inquiry. These moves were opposed by Dr. F.R. Louat, counsel with Holman for the New South Wales State Unity Movement, a shadowy organisation formed specifically to oppose the separatist cause. 'My organisation', Louat told the Commission 'is an organisation of citizens who view with apprehension the possibility of ill-advised plans for New States and who desire to call evidence as to the suitability of the plans put before you'.[76]

While Nicholas' remarks had limited the Commission's activities to some extent, the first day's hearings left the Riverina Movement seriously concerned. An agitated Ellis wrote to Drummond on 21 October that the Commissioner's rulings 'were extremely vague and disjointed, and indicated that the enquiry will be conducted without any definite guiding principles to which we will be able to conform'. Hardy too was worried about Nicholas's plans.[77] Drummond tried to ease their fears. 'I have carefully gone through the transcript of the evidence and proceedings to date with Mr Faulkner, and while there are some points which are rather disturbing, I am afraid that on the whole I cannot agree with your sweeping condemnation of the attitude of the Commissioner', he wrote to Ellis on 25 October. 'So far as I can see, there are only two points which are in doubt which need gravely concern us, and one is the possibility that Enquiry may be extended to include an enquiry into alternative local governing proposals, and the other is that comparison with other States of Australia may be excluded'. Drummond's advice was sound: in the end, even his two fears proved groundless.

While the Commission was getting under way, Drummond found time to indulge in one of his much loved but rarely practised habits, trout fishing in the streams of the eastern Tablelands. He wrote asking MacDonald Holmes to join them:

.. I am quite certain that unless you are particularly well-acquainted with the District in question, if we happen to strike the right weather, you will find a charm that is not usually found in any other part of Australia. Whether you find fish in sufficient quantities is a matter in the lap of the Gods and the training of your right wrist and elbow.[78]

It must have been a welcome break, for there was something disturbingly familiar about the Commission's on-going hearings. It was not just that the initial dispute over the Commission's scope harkened back to the Cohen Commission. It was also the witnesses and advocates. While Holman's ill-health prevented his active appearance (he in fact died in 1934)[79], his involvement was a constant reminder of 1924-25. The anti-witnesses included a former Mayor of Tamworth, William Green, now living in Sydney who had strongly opposed the separatists during the Cohen Commission.[80] The New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures, which strongly opposed the separatist plans, was represented by H.V. Howe, former private secretary to the separatist's old opponent, William Morris Hughes.[81] Even Hughes himself made a brief but effective cameo appearance on behalf of the State Unity Movement.[82]

There were similarities, too, in the arguments presented. As before, railway policy was an important topic during the proceedings,[83] while there was lengthy argument as to the financial viability of the proposed states.[84] This time, however, the new staters were able to mount a sustained and generally successful attack on the approach accepted by the Cohen Commission, the construction of a hypothetical new state budget. Instead discussion focused on state and national income and on the concept of taxable capacity. In many ways it was a sophisticated debate, reflecting both the advances made in Australian economics during the twenties and early thirties and the capacities of those involved, for the witnesses included many of the country's leading economists.[85]

But while the debate led to a rejection of the Cohen budgetary approach, it did raise difficulties for the separatist cause. It confirmed the old problem facing the predominantly rural states; not only were taxable incomes higher in the cities, but those incomes tended to be more stable. Thus rural states were faced not only with lower taxable capacity, but also with greater income instability. In this regard the tariff remained a crucial problem. While H.V. Howe, as the manufacturers' representative, argued that assistance given to the rural sector was as high as that given to manufacturing, the expert witnesses generally accepted the country position, that is that the tariff, and the manufacturing growth it inspired, had been at the expense of country areas and the smaller states (particularly Western Australia). However, this was followed by a sting that was definitely not in accord with country thinking. The tariff, argued the witnesses, had to be accepted as a given. Consequently, the income and production structures that it supported had also to be accepted as given, which meant that the financial problems of the predominantly rural states would continue. This was clearly germane to the Commission's argument, for it ran directly counter to some of the separatists arguments concerning development and taxable capacity. Worse was to follow. Big governing units, argued F.R.E. Mauldon, could reduce the adverse impact of the tariff: tariff-induced taxation revenue could be spent in areas adversely affected by the tariff, thus compensating those areas for some of the costs involved. In a sense this was just Page's old 'get into the vicious circle' argument in another guise, but it was certainly a twist that Page had never thought of.

The separatists themselves did not realise the full significance of this argument. While they had to oppose the tariff, and argue that increased rural representation in the Senate was one way of handling the problem, they had generally not regarded it as the over-riding issue. Instead, they had always believed that separation itself would bring development by allowing the people in the proposed states to concentrate on and solve their own problems. In addition, those who had argued for the inclusion of Newcastle within New England had to recognise the importance of the tariff to that industrial city. Nevertheless, the separatists' position was arguably mistaken. Whatever the general arguments in favour of new states, the tariff was clearly working against the achievement of their major objectives, combining with other forces to bring about fundamental changes in the structure of Australian society and of the North's position within that structure.

The North that David Drummond had known in 1907 had now altered almost beyond recognition.[86] The area's relatively slow population growth meant that the population of the proposed new state had dropped from perhaps 20 per cent of the total state population in 1907 to 17 per cent in 1921 to 16 per cent in 1933. This change, while significant, is much more dramatic when compared with Sydney's growth. Whereas in 1907 the North's population (excluding Newcastle and the lower Hunter) had been more than 50 per cent of that in the metropolitan area, this had dropped to 40 per cent in 1921 and then to one-third in 1933. The decline in the area's relative population was inevitably associated with a decline in political strength, although the full impact of this was still several decades away.

The separatist witnesses to the Commission reflected the changing circumstances. There would have been less emphasis on past grievances and future development anyway, given that desirability was largely excluded from the Commission's scope. However, the sense of emotional certainty that had marked the start of the Cohen hearings was absent. The cases were well researched and presented, the long-running support was still there, but to the later reader there is not the same sparkle of ideas. The ideas put forward by the separatists in the twenties may not always have been sensible, but taken together they did give a coherent plan for Northern development. Circumstances may have overtaken many of the elements in the plan, but the ideas had forced their opponents to meet them on their own ground. Now the defeats and strains of two decades of struggle, combined with the events of the Depression which had damaged or destroyed so many hopes, made the problems bulk larger; the belief in the North's potential was still there, but the difficulties that had to be overcome seemed so much greater. Further, the Movement's character had also changed. Whereas the Northern Movement of the twenties had drawn its strengths from a positive attempt to solve the North's problems, the New England Movement of the thirties had drawn much of its strength from the negative reaction to the government of J.T. Lang.

The hearings continued into the middle of 1934, with Nicholas finally reporting in January 1935.[87] In the end, he had given the separatists at least some of the things they wanted. There were, he concluded, three areas suitable for self-government: a northern area which included Newcastle, a central-west/south-west area, and a residue consisting of Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the south coast. He suggested that a referendum should be taken in each area, starting in the north. On the surface this was a great step forward, but the result was anti-climax, for the movements were in no position to take advantage of the recommendations. As the fears raised by the Lang Government had receded and with growing economic recovery, popular enthusiasm for the cause had waned. As with Cohen, this process had been accelerated by the diversion of separatist efforts from the maintenance of the popular campaign to the hearings themselves. The long-running hearings had exhausted the movements' reserves of money and manpower, leaving them dispirited and ill-equipped to fight what were likely to prove expensive and bitterly-fought referenda campaigns. Many, also, were unhappy at the precise boundary proposals. The Riverina Movement rejected the proposals outright, and while the New England Movement did accept the inclusion of Newcastle, many supporters were unhappy at this decision.

With an election due in May 1935, Stevens declared in the joint-policy speech that the Government would consider whether to proceed with a referendum. He also told Bruxner privately that he could have a referendum if he wanted it.[88] Now that the crunch had come Bruxner rejected the offer, for he was fearful that, without a long education campaign, a referendum might be defeated by the Newcastle and coal fields vote. In retrospect, this was a bad decision. A referendum might have been defeated, but it would have at least kept faith with those who had supported the cause over so many years. At worst, a defeat might have set the Movement back a decade. But by refusing to accept the risk, Bruxner (and the other Northern leaders) achieved this result anyway. Exhausted, the various separatist movements collapsed. It would be more than a decade before the New England Movement would again spring to life.

Whatever the arguments, the sense of lost opportunity remained with the Northern leaders always. They had come so close several times, only to fail in the end. David Drummond may have argued against the use of force in 1931 and 1932, a view he would always hold, but he would come to feel that those like him who had argued restraint had been ill-served by the actions of subsequent governments.[89] For Bruxner too, the failure to achieve separation in the 1930's was to become his most persistent regret, and he would always resent keenly any suggestion that he and Drummond had used the Movement only as a means to political power.



While the Nicholas Commission hearings proceeded, the relationship between the United Australia Party and the United Country Party had been deteriorating, first at a federal level and then in New South Wales.[90] Locked into a cross-bench situation because of the absolute majority Lyons had gained in December 1931, the Federal Party faced a situation that Bruxner and Drummond knew well from their Progressive days: the Party had to force Lyons to take their views into account yet could not push him out. Throughout 1932 and 1933 the Federal UAP and Country Parties remained divided, particularly over the tariff, a situation that worried their colleagues in New South Wales where the coalition was generally working well.

With a federal election in the offering, the New South Wales Central Council (with Hardy dissenting) decided in May 1934 to seek an electoral arrangement with Lyons in that state at least. However, remembering the United Australia Party's breach of the 1931 'joint agreement', the Council instructed that any agreement negotiated should be signed by the leaders of the two parties and published in the press. Lyons promptly rejected the offer, suggesting that the only solution was a complete merger between the parties. This was bad enough, but from Drummond's viewpoint worse was to follow: the United Australia Party decided to press ahead with its plans to run candidates against H.V.C. Thorby in Calare and Victor Thompson in New England. Both men had annoyed Lyons, and the UAP challenge was a new partial response.

State Cabinet had already decided that NSW ministers could take part in the campaign, but not in electorates where United Australia Party/United Country Party candidates faced each other. The United Australia Party challenges to Thorby and Thompson placed this decision under real strain. Bruxner nominally observed it, although his strong attacks on the UAP breached its spirit. The angry Drummond was less restrained. A campaign advertisement over his signature attacked the UAP in New England with singular venom.

A vote for the United Australia Party candidate is a vote to offend those customers who purchase our wool; it is a vote to endanger the financial stability of the Commonwealth. More than that, it is a vote to endanger the prosperity of every business man in New England. It is a vote to endanger the employment of every shop-assistant; to endanger the prosperity of the grazier and the settler; to endanger the employment of the shearer and every bushworker, and, consequently, it is a vote that is against the best interests of the northern community, as well as a vote against the initiation of a sound international policy.[91]

These were strong words, as strong as those applied to Lang at the height of anti-Lang feeling, and led to immediate UAP moves against Drummond.

Following the election - Thompson retained the seat although 30 per cent of the UAP preference went to Labor - a delegation of UAP parliamentarians saw the Premier to demand Drummond's resignation from the Ministry. A number of parliamentarians also told Stevens that they would withdraw from the UAP if no action was taken. Despite the UAP resentment, Drummond's position was perfectly secure: in the circumstances, the chances of the Country Party allowing action to be taken against him were slim indeed. But the resentments created by the incident lingered on within the UAP, and would resurface.

The September elections had again given the Federal Country Party the balance of power. However, initial moves to form a coalition with the UAP broke down over the tariff. Lyons was willing to accept the Country Party demand for a Tariff Board inquiry into the meaning and best method of implementing Article ten of the Ottawa Treaty, but rejected the demand for a general Tariff Board inquiry into the incidence of duties. This was unacceptable to the Country Party. Lyons then proceeded to form a purely UAP administration.

Events quickly forced him to change his mind. In October Lyons proposed to adjourn the House to permit members to attend the Melbourne Cup. Page announced that he would oppose the move on the grounds that urgent business required the sitting to continue. Labor also decided to oppose Lyons' proposal, and it was clear that the Government would be defeated. While this was only a small matter, it held a clear lesson for Lyons: negotiations were immediately re-opened for the formation of a composite ministry, this time with success. On the vexed tariff issue, Lyons now gave Page an undertaking that the Government's decision on outstanding Tariff Board reports and recommendations would 'be of such a character as would be generally acceptable to the Country Party'.[92] This was not as much as the Party had wanted, but it formed an acceptable compromise.

While the formation of the coalition agreement was probably inevitable, it marked an important turning point in country history. As in the twenties, the Party had been forced to compromise on the tariff. However, this time the defeat had long-term consequences for the Party, for it forced it to modify its basic ideology. In this regard, Drummond would play a crucial role both in formulating the ideas (which drew heavily from Page's policies of the twenties) and in selling them to the Party.

As we have seen, Drummond had previously shared the country opposition to tariffs, and had indeed campaigned on that basis. However, the lessons he drew from the Depression led him to change his mind. The reasons for this change, set out in his manuscript autobiography, are not very clear, but seem to have gone something like the following.[93] Australia, he pointed out, had borrowed large sums prior to the Depression to fund capital works and would need to do so again. Further, she had also to import large quantities of capital equipment, largely from Britain, to produce both her primary and secondary products. The interest on loans, and the capital equipment purchased, had to be paid for by exports of primary products. Now in this regard Australia had no control over overseas interest rates not could she control the price of overseas-made capital equipment, but yet she also had no control over the external prices of her own export products. As a consequence, the country was very vulnerable to any overseas downturn. In the Depression, for example, the price Australia received for her export products had collapsed, but interest rates had remained the same. As a result the real burden of interest rates for both nation and farmer had risen because the quantity of primary products necessary to pay for them had risen. Further, the down-turn in real rural incomes had helped spread the Depression quickly throughout the economy. The result was economic hardship for both the nation and the farmer.

In Drummond's view, the solution to the problem was to insulate the economy more effectively from economic downturn. The manufacturing sector should be developed, particularly for producer goods, to reduce Australia's dependence on imports and hence her vulnerability to sharp falls in export income. Drummond still believed that free trade was best in theory, but now felt that it was unrealistic in practice since other countries were not prepared to drop their protective barriers. Protection for manufacturing should be balanced by guaranteed returns for the primary producer, thus maintaining rural incomes (and the urban incomes dependent upon them) and reducing rural hardship. Taken together, these measures would allow balanced national development.

Although Drummond's views were influenced by his Depression experiences, and particularly by his feeling of helplessness in the face of the growing economic troubles, their basic strands can be seen much earlier. The concept of balanced development, and of protection for both rural and manufacturing sectors, clearly drew from Page's practical response to the tariff situation of the early twenties. Further, the idea that the primary producer should have some form of income guarantee had been one of the crucial elements in Drummond's argument about the need to have a well paid rural workforce; guaranteed farm incomes were needed if this were to happen. But if many parts of Drummond's views were not new, his rejection of the anti-tariff argument was both new and important; by the mid thirties Drummond's prestige in the State Party was such that he could usually (if not always) sway the Party to his viewpoint. And so it proved in this case. After discussing the issue with the State Parliamentary Party and with the organisation, Drummond moved at the New South Wales State Conference of the Party that the Conference recommend to the Executive that manufacturing organisations be approached with a view to forming a joint secretariat for 'the protection of mutual interests and to ensure a price that will prevent serious divergences of cost and prices in their respective field'.[94] The Conference carried the motion unanimously.

Drummond regarded this as a crucial decision. In his view:

The unanimous support for the motion marked a radical change in the policy of the CP. It did more than that. It made clear that the Country Party had aligned itself with the other political Parties, in a determination that never again would we be caught as a supplicant to ask other people to pay us what they liked for our exports and to charge us what they liked for our imports.[95]

Drummond's assessment of the importance of his motion is probably correct. By accepting it, the Party had accepted that there was more uniting the manufacturing and primary sectors than dividing them, and this marks an important stage in the emergence of the Party's dominant ethos of the fifties and sixties. At that time the Party was to argue, in an approach subsumed under the popular label "McEwenism", that it represented the great wealth producing industries and, as such, was the proper party to represent manufacturing, and then mining, as well as the rural sector. The idea of the wealth producing industries drew its strength in part from an early country belief, that those who produced physical goods produced the wealth on which everyone else depended. However, it was the events of the Depression, as encapsulated in the Drummond motion, that broadened this belief into the more general concept of the 'wealth producing industries'.

There is nothing to suggest that Drummond himself saw the Party's new direction as damaging the longer term interests of either the Party or its supporters. He believed sincerely that, in an imperfect world, the Party's stand was in the best interests of both the country dweller and the nation. Nevertheless, the approach represented a crucial defeat. As before, the costs of protection would continue to be borne by the export industries and those dependent upon them, that is by the very people the Party represented. As a consequence, the Party's new direction built an internal conflict into the Party, a conflict which was only partially eased by its continued success in gaining concessions for the rural dweller. Further, just as the Party's failure to force major tariff modifications in the early twenties had helped cement in place the economic trends favouring the industrial and metropolitan complexes, so now its second failure meant that those trends would continue with a consequent inevitable reduction in the relative importance of the non-metropolitan populations. In turn this meant that the need for decentralisation, and the search for mechanisms to bring decentralisation about, would continue as a major element in the political rhetoric (if not always the policies) of all parties during the forties, fifties and sixties.

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.

[1]Political material in this section, is drawn from: D.A. Aitkin, The Colonel: A Political Biography of Sir Michael Bruxner, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1969, p.142ff; and DM, pp.154-155.

[2]To achieve this, the Party had to win a substantial majority of the forty-one seats outside Newcastle and Sydney; there were then ninety seats in all. Putting this another way, following the 1932 election, the UAP held twelve country seats. The CP would have had to win nine of these to become the majority non-Labor party.

[3]Cited Aitkin, The Colonel, p.143.

[4]Copy in Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8.

[5]The material in this, and the next two sentences, is drawn from: U.R. Ellis, The Country Party. A Political and Social History of the Party in New South Wales, F.W. Cheshire, Melbourne, 1958, p.161.

[6]The material on this and the next two sentences is circumstantial. The DM sets out general details of the normal Bruxner/Drummond campaign approach. Aitkin (The Colonel, p.147) suggests that Bruxner campaigned largely in the central west, while Drummond's letter of 19 May to his key supporters suggested that he was planning to campaign mainly in the west. In these circumstances, it seems probable that the combined approach was used.

[7]W.E. Nancarrow to Drummond, 21 June 1932. Drummond to Parker, 23 June 1932. Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8.

[8]Drummond to Parker, 23 June 1932, ibid.

[9]The voting figures from Newcastle and the North have been calculated from the returns in: C.A. Hughes and B.D. Graham, Voting For The New South Wales Legislative Assembly 1890-1964, Department of Political Science, Research School of Social Sciences, Canberra, 1975. An itemised analysis of returns can also be found in the Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3011/1.

[10]Background material in this next section is drawn from Aitkin, The Colonel, p.150ff.

[11]Ibid, pp.153-154. The analysis in this paragraph is drawn from Aitkin and from H. Radi, P. Spearritt and E. Hinton, Biographical Register of the New South Wales Parliament 1901-1970, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1979.

[12]The material in this and the next sentences is drawn from DM, p.159.

[13]14 June 1932. Copy in Page Papers, National Library MS1633/1025.

[14]Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 1932; NSWPD, Vol.134, 18 October 1932, pp.1155-1156.

[15]Unless otherwise cited, material on Council reform is drawn from: K. Turner, House of Review? The New South Wales Legislative Council, 1934-1968, Sydney University Press, Sydney, 1969, p.20ff.

[16]28 June 1932. Cited ibid, p.20.

[17]Labor Daily, 25 June 1932, 28 July 1932. Sydney Morning Herald, 2 September 1932. Cited ibid, p.21.

[18]Quoted in Aitkin, The Colonel, p.157.

[19]Based on electoral returns in the Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8.

[20]June 23, 1932.

[21]The material in this paragraph is drawn in part from previous discussion. For an outline of the proposals relating to minimum size, and for the 1929 Peden recommendations as to minimum size, see: Report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution, Government Printer, Canberra, 1929, pp.213-219, 256-259.

[22]H.F. White, Separation: The Case for New England, Armidale Express Print, Armidale, no date but almost certainly 1931, p.5.

[23]A copy of the Drummond proposals is in the Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8.

[24]Copy in Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8.

[25]The Conference is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 1932. See also the evidence of E.J. Munro to the Nicholas Commission: New States Royal Commission 1933-1934: Evidence of the Royal Commission of Inquiry as to the Areas in New South Wales Suitable for Self-Government As States in the Commonwealth of Australia also List of Exhibits, Vol.1, Government Printer, Sydney, 1934, p.1818ff. The quotations in this and the next paragraph are drawn from the Herald report.

[26]New States Royal Commission 1933-1934, p.1818ff.

[27]Unless otherwise cited, material on the Federal Reconstruction Movement is drawn from Drummond's file on the Movement. Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives. A248/3010/6. See also Stanley Kingsbury to Page, 13 June 1932. Page Papers, National Library, MS1633/1020/2.

[28]Report to Annual Meeting by the Provisional Executive Committee, 28 September, 1932. Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/6.

[29]The material in this next section is drawn particularly from: J. Wilkes, 'Fifty Years On', The Australian Quarterly, March 1978, Vol.50, No.1, pp.4-7; and J. Wilkes, 'In the Beginning', The Australian Quarterly, December 1978, Vol.50, No.4, pp.4-9. Supplementary biographical data has been drawn from: J.A. Alexander (ed), Who's Who In Australia, XIVth Edition, Colorgravure Publication, Melbourne, 1950; J. Rydon, A Biographical Register of the Commonwealth Parliament 1901-1972, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1975; and H. Radi, P. Spearritt and E. Hinton, Biographical Register of the New South Wales Parliament 1901-1970, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1979. T. Rowse's Australian Liberalism and National Character, (Kibble Books, Melbourne, 1978, p.149ff) deals briefly with the group and attempts to fit them into a particular (Marxist) historical context. However, he does not mention their country links.

[30]The correspondence relating to Newcastle can be found in the Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8.

[31]Minutes of the Executive Meeting of the New England Division of the United Country Movement, Armidale 12 August, 1932. Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8.

[32]The material on the Conference is drawn from: Minutes of the First Annual Conference of the New England Division of the United Country Movement held in Town Hall, Armidale on 18th and 19th Nov, 1932. Dr. Barton's papers, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society Archives; Armidale Express, 18 and 21 November, 1932.

[33]NSWPD, Vol.134, 18 October 1932, pp.1155-1156.

[34]The draft letter, plus Drummond's letter to Hickson of 20 December forwarding the draft, can be found in the Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8. A copy of the letter sent to the sub-groups can be found in the Page Papers, National Library, MS1633/1021/46-48.

[35]Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1944.

[36]See J. Macdonald Holmes, The "New States" Idea and its Geographic Background, New Century Press, Sydney, 1933.

[37]Unless otherwise cited, material on the education program is drawn from the evidence of E.J. Munro to the Nicholas Commission. See New States Royal Commission 1933-34, p.1819ff.

[38]Interview, Edna Belshaw.

[39]United Country Movement: As it stands to-day, Scone Advocate Print, Scone, no date but almost certainly towards end of 1932. Copy in the W.T. Seaward Papers, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society Archives, Scone.

[40]Correspondence relating to the campaign, including the preparation of the slides, can be found in the Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8.

[41]J.J. Price to Drummond, 10 February 1933. Drummond Papers, ibid.

[42]11 April. Drummond Papers, ibid.

[43]In May 1933, for example, the Secretary of the Grafton Branch of the UCM complained to Page about Hickson's failure to notify him of a key meeting. Page Papers, National Library, MS1633/1022.

[44]18 November. A copy of the release is in the Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8. The papers relating to the Norco episode are all in this bundle.

[45]Page Papers, National Library, MS1633/1033.

[46]This incident was described in E.C.G. Page, Truant Surgeon: The Inside Story of Forty Years of Australian Political Life, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1963, pp.190-192.

[47]The material on the secession campaign is drawn from F.K. Crowley, Australia's Western Third: A History of Western Australia from the first settlements to modern times, Heinemann, Melbourne, 1970, pp.272-277.

[48]This paragraph is drawn from Aitkin, The Colonel, p.161.

[49]Drummond to Thompson, Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8.

[50]Drummond to Thompson, 1 May 1933. Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8.

[51]Drummond to Nicholas, 1 May 1933. Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8.

[52]Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8.

[53]Drummond to P.A. Wright, 28 June 1933. Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8. The material in this and the next paragraph relating to the Conference is largely drawn from this letter. Supporting material is drawn from other letters in the same folder in the Drummond Papers (A248/3010/8) and from Aitkin, The Colonel, p.161.

[54]Material on this meeting is drawn from: Brief Notes of interview on 28th June 1933 by the sub-committee, headed by Colonel White, with the Hon. H.S. Nicholas, M.L.C., Boundaries Commissioner. Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8. There is no evidence that Drummond himself actually attended this meeting.

[55]The details on Drummond's July activities in this and following paragraphs are drawn from letters in the Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3010/8. The letters cover the organisation of evidence, fund raising, publicity and general political matters.

[56]Material in this paragraph is drawn from a letter from Drummond to Page, 26 July 1933.

[57]D.H. Drummond, Australian Problems of Government: Federation v. Unification, Armidale Express Print, nd, p.5.

[58]New States: Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (H.S. Nicholas). Respecting Areas in the State of New South Wales Suitable for Self-government as States in the Commonwealth of Australia, and as to the Areas in the said State in which Referenda should be taken to ascertain the Opinions of the Electors on any question in connection with the establishment of New States, together with Maps, Government Printer, Sydney, 1935, p.1. The material on opposition in the next sentences is drawn from Aitkin, The Colonel, p.160.

[59]Drummond to White, 6 September 1933. Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, 3010/8. Unless otherwise cited, material on the Nicholas Commission is drawn from letters in 3010/8.

[60]White to Drummond, 25 August.

[61]White to Drummond, 3 September 1933.

[62]Faulkner to Drummond, 25 August 1933.

[63]Drummond to Faulkner, 4 September 1933.

[64]Page to Drummond, 26 September 1933.

[65]The Royal Boundaries Commission: Preparation of the Case for New England ... Directions to Witnesses: Approved by the Central Executive of The New England Movement, "The N.D. Leader" Printers, Tamworth. Copy in Drummond papers, University of New England Archive, A248/3010/8 and in author's possession.

[66]Drummond to Lowe, 17 October 1933.

[67]17 October 1933.

[68]17 October 1933.

[69]19 October 1933.

[70]28 October 1933.

[71]18 November 1933.

[72]19 December 1933.

[73]20 November 1933.

[74]Details on the Commission's hearings are drawn from: New States Royal Commission, 1933-34: Evidence of the Royal Commission of Inquiry as to the Areas in New South Wales Suitable for Self-Government As States in the Commonwealth of Australia, also List of Exhibits, Vol.1, Government Printer, Sydney, 1934.

[75]Ibid, p.1.

[76]Ibid, p.1.

[77]Hardy to Ellis, 23 October 1933. Page Papers, National Library, MS 1633/1034/1-2.

[78]Drummond to MacDonald Holmes, 18 October 1933.

[79]H.V. Evatt, William Holman: Australian Labor Leader, Angus and Robertson, (abridged edition), Sydney, 1979, p.419.

[80]Evidence, Vol.1, p.1816ff.

[81]Evidence, Vol.1, pp.1151-1165, p.1202ff.

[82]New States: Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (Mr H.S. Nicholas), Respecting Areas in the State of New South Wales Suitable for Self-Government, p.63.

[83]See particularly Evidence, Vol.1, pp.79-85, 142-3, 1175-1184, 1838-1841, 2100-2105.

[84]See particularly Evidence, Vol.1, 119-136, 1151-1165, 1190-1213, 2088-2099.

[85]The participants include Torleiv Hytten (Professor of Economics at the University of Tasmania), A.G.B. Fisher (Professor of Economics at Otago in New Zealand), F.R.E. Mauldon (senior lecturer in Economics at Melbourne), Thomas Waites (the New South Wales Government Statistician) and J.T. Sutcliffe (General Manager of Amalgamated Textiles but formerly head of the Labour and Industry Department, Commonwealth Statistician's Office).

[86]The material in this paragraph is drawn from: Evidence, Vol.1; Appendix VII in R. Ward, A Nation for A Continent: the history of Australia 1901-1975, Heinemann Educational, Richmond, 1977; and the statistical material in footnote one, Ch.2.

[87]Unless otherwise cited, the material in this and following paragraphs on the Nicholas aftermath is drawn from Aitkin, The Colonel, pp.162-63.

[88]Ellis, The New South Wales Country Party, p.165.

[89]DM, p.150.

[90]Unless otherwise cited, material in this next section is drawn from Ellis, The Australian Country Party, p.200ff; and Aitkin, The Colonel, pp.164ff.

[91]The details of the advertisement and this incident are taken from NSWPD, Vol.143, 13 February 1935, p.5700.

[92]Sydney Morning Herald, 2 November 1934. Cited Ellis, The Australian Country Party, p.211.

[93]DM, pp.161-165.

[94]DM, p.163.

[95]DM, p.142.

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