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4-203 (Text)

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author,male,Thomson, R.,un addressee,male
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Public Written
Official Correspondence
Clark, 1975
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4-203-plain.txt — 5 KB

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Just at this time, when new ideas are ripening that if allowed to grow without interference would land the Australian people in the status of a united and powerful nation, one set of persons is trying to divert the attention of Australians from the straight course before them to the meshes of the net of Imperial Federation, whilst another set, which chiefly resides in Sydney, is trying its utmost to stop the growth of National ideas by Setting the Australian States at enmity with one another. 
Regarding the first of these foes to the National Cause, it may be said that their distinguishing feature is absenteeism. If they are not actually absent from their colony, their hearts are; but as a rule it may safely be said that the actual absentees are the strongest Imperial Federationists. These persons, whilst contributing nothing to the country which protects their properties and from whence they draw the means to live in luxury in foreign countries, are for ever prating of what Australia should do for Imperialism - which, when closely analysed, means for themselves. These are the people who cry out for Australian contributions to maintain mercenary fleets. They pay, in Australian gold, taxes to the British revenues, and the less the cost of Britain's armaments the greater the probability of a reduction of her taxation, and consequently of the amount of income-tax required from the London colonials. If the whole of the colonies were to undertake the cost and duty of "maintaining their connections with the centre of the Empire", it is safe to say that Britain's naval expenditure might be immensely reduced - a result which would cause a certain reduction of taxation, and hence of the amounts required from the colonial absentees. This no doubt would be eminently satisfactory to those gentlemen, and if in decreasing their own expenses, they caused an increase of that of the home staying Australian, why they would only be forwarding the glorious cause of Imperial Federation, whose cardinal principle is that the centre should be nourished at the cost of the extremities! The absentee Imperialists have other games to win in pushing on their Imperial Federation fad. If the country that yields them their revenues - if our Australia - will only behave like a good and dutiful child to her grand, old, affectionate mother; if she shows that she is willing to spend her blood and treasure in the cause of Imperialism; if she will waste her substance that bondholders may securely draw drawn their interest from downtrodden Egypt; or that the Russians may be kept out of lands in which the Australian people have not the faintest interest; then the Carlton Club will smile on Australia, and what is better - much better - on all that boast themselves as being connected with her. Then to be an Australian would be the absentee's best title to the patronage of the British aristocracy. It would give him the entrée to salons where unaided his own vulgar wealth could never aspire to. It would give him influence with the Government and perhaps assist his son to a fat and fashionable sinecure, and himself to a ribbon or a star. Looking at the matter with dreams of this kind floating round him, can we wonder that the absentee should preach Soudanism and Imperialism. 
Let the critic sneer at 1788 It shall yet be a date that the wide world shall honour. What though our land was born in sorrow and shame; yet out of the cradles of poverty and sin, empires have emerged and the regenerators of mankind have arisen.
When we think of the teachings of history we can well believe that in the time to come - it may be before this generation has passed away - 1788 will be a date that will be classed in the world's history with the founding of Rome, the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, or the storming of the Bastille. There will be but one greater day in our own Australia's annals, and that will be the anniversary of the Declaration of her Independence. For that great date, now that we are at the dawn of the second century of our existence as a people, it is the duty of our countrymen to make preparation. It will be a fateful event, and epochs of that character are slow in coming and are not the progeny of chance. Work, earnest work, must smooth the way, and the more the labourers and the more earnest their labour, the sooner and the better will the triumph be achieved. Too many of my countrymen give no thought to the morrow. It suffices them that they eat, drink, and be merry. But empires are not built by muscles and bodies alone. Brains must be exerted. There must be they who will plan and work for other ends than those which are demanded to obtain the wherewithal to eat and drink.
Australians! you are the vast majority of the people of this land. Why do ye not rule it? Wherefore leave to your veteran fathers the task of governing a land for which they cannot have the same affection as you have? Our fathers' hearts must of necessity feel but a divided affection for this land of ours. It is not natural to expect otherwise. We know, even those of us who think of little but athletic sports, how well we love our native land. We know, too, that we could never love another as well. How, then, can we expect our fathers, whose native lands are in the northern world, to feel for our Australia as we do? They cannot do so, and if not how can they be such fit rulers of our land as ourselves, who know no other land, nor wish to, save as a curiosity; who sprang from the soil of this land; who live