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

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

The Growers' Co-operative debate

 Harry Freame pictured with Grace on Anzac Day in Sydney. This is the eleventh in a series on Australia's early intelligence activities, the seventh on the life of Harry Freame.  
In June 1924, a meeting was held at Kentucky to consider the formation of a growers’ cooperative. In addition to the soldier settlers, the meeting was attended by Mr A A Watson, Director of Soldier Settlement, and Mick Bruxner, one of two Progressive Party members for the state Northern Tablelands seat.

Harry Freame had been an active supporter of the move to develop a grower’s cooperative. Now he expressed reservations.

“Why should I put in a board of directors to run my business, and I pay them to do my work?”, he asked.“I can buy my materials as cheap as they can, and get as good a return.” This was a substantial challenge, for Harry had considerable influence.

Reading the newspaper report of the meeting, there were two problems that worried the settlers.

The first was membership. Should this be limited to soldier settlers or should other growers be allowed to join? The second was one of scope and costs, the extent to which the cooperative might limit the freedom of growers to run their own businesses.

Both Watson and Bruxner argued strongly in favour of the cooperative.

Bruxner put the matter bluntly. There were six equivalent settlements into NSW alone coming into full production at the same time. Cooperation was needed. On the question of a broader membership, put the rum and milk together was his advice.

The meeting decided to proceed with the cooperative.

While Harry was concerned with farm and settler activities, May Freame’shealth was deteriorating. She had not recovered from depression and towards the end of 1924 she disappeared from the scene, not returning until 1930. While the exact circumstances are unclear, Tait suggests that she had been admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Josephine had remained a member of the Freame household, joined in 1923 by her son John (Chappie).

Josephine Collins nee Clarke was born at Tenterfield in 1886. She had married a Brisbane surveyor, Walter Collins, with son John born in 1914. That marriage had broken up before she became May’s companion and then housekeeper.

While May was away, Harry continued his community involvements. Josephine, too, was active within the community.

A relationship developed between the two. The result was a daughter, Josephine Grace Freame, born in October 1927.

Grace was always recognized as a Freame family member. She was close to her half-brother and father. Later, she accompanied Harry on his annual Anzac day visit to Sydney.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 24 April 2019. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015,  here for 2016, here  2017here 2018, here 2019   


Johnb said...

A debate that continues Jim, HS succeeds because of our capacity to cooperate but where are the boundaries between Private and Public.
Harry was in a slightly better position than others via his Store Manager appointment so felt less of a need to form a cooperative than others. Farmers are invariably Price Takers in the market place other than in exceptional circumstances and Cooperatives and statutory Marketing Boards are one way to seek a better balance. Another way more common in current markets is to grow under contract to a set price for a processor or retailer, the rise of a National duopoly in food retailing has also been a Market power game changer.
Reference May, if she was in an institution would it most likely have been Morrisset for Tablelands folk ?

Jim Belshaw said...

That's an interesting comment, John. Could well be Morrisset.

Harry started as a strong supporter of the coop, played a major role in its formation, but I think that by the end he thought that it might leave him less well off.The story of coops and marketing boards is an attempt to get marketing power. The duopoly has been a real problem.