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4-265 (Original)

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author,male,Morgan, Hank,un addressee
Newspaper Article
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Newspapers & Broadsides
Clark, 1975
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The question as to whether any other colony may choose to elect its own Legislative Assembly on a basis of equal electoral power, or not, does not matter to us, it being entirely the business of each colony to decide for itself whether every man should have one vote, and one vote only, or some have none, some one, and a few twenty.
But when we are asked to take part in a Conference to draw up a scheme of Government, which must affect for good or evil every man, woman, and child in Australia, and millions yet unborn, we have a right, a duty, to insist that the members of that Conference or Convention shall voice the opinions, fairly and equally expressed, of the great masses of the people, and not have the results of their labors distorted and biased by the class feelings and ambitions of those elected by the plural votes of Conservative property holders.
Therefore, until every Australian Province grants to its inhabitants exactly equal elective power, commonly termed "one man one vote", which is only simple justice, the people should decline to have anything to do with Federation.
It is no use New South Wales and South Australia having the One man one vote system in force if we are ruled by a Federal Parliament, in which the plural voters of Victoria, Queensland, and West Australia will make laws, which we single voters will be compelled to obey.
Of one thing we may be perfectly sure, that if all the Australian Provinces do not secure Electoral Reform before Federation, they will stand a poor chance of getting it afterwards.
They say now, that if we had Federation, the Federal Parliament would abolish Black Labor in Queensland and all over Australia. [495] Don't you believe that; it is only a catch-cry. If every white man in Queensland had one vote, and no one any more than one vote, the Queenslanders would simply sweep away Black, and Yellow Labor too, in one short and glorious act.
My advice to the workers is not to accept Political Federation for Australia until we first establish a Federation of Labor right through the land. Then let the best men from all the colonies or provinces, appointed by ballot of the Labor Federation members, draw up a list of conditions and safe-guards against possible tyranny.
Instruct all Labor Members in every colony to insist upon those conditions being embodied in any scheme of Federation.
If refused, the Labor Members in Parliament, and the Federation members outside, can simply wreck any scheme brought forward.
The conditions would require the most careful consideration, but right here I will give a few rough ideas of my own on the matter.
First. No standing army to be instituted, because armies are only required by Monarchies and Aristocracies, in order to cow the people into submissiveness, and make them find the money to pay some of their own mates to shoot them down, if they strike against injustice or robbery. For instance remember the Great Maritime Strike.
Secondly. Have no titles or distinctions of any kind, hereditary or otherwise, granted to Australian citizens, as they are only used to gratify vanity and ambition, and often to buy the leaders and betray the people.
Thirdly. Give every State the absolute right of Secession On a certain proportion, say three-fourths of the adult inhabitants desiring it and agreeing to discharge all joint obligations. Voluntary Union is the only Union worth having, and if any State has the right to refuse to join it should have the same right to refuse to remain. Have only one House in the Federal Parliament on a population basis, and submit all questions of importance back to each State. The people or Parliament of each State to approve any such law before it can become operative in any such State. Do not have any Federation "under the Crown". Let us separate quietly and in a friendly spirit from the Mother Land, and then we can manage our own affairs in our own way, and keep free from the quarrels and wars of the Old World.
Some people imagine that if we put off Federation, some disaster may occur, such as a Russian invasion, which will compel us to federate hurriedly, and that in the event of such happening we might make great mistakes, which it would be difficult to remedy afterwards. [496]
I think this idea is made too much of. In the event of any such danger we could come to terms with each other on the understanding that the agreement arrived at should be thoroughly revised when peace was restored.
Again, many want to know how we would defend ourselves against outside interference without a standing army.
Well, drill everyone - boy and man, and woman too! (why not?) - and let the people get a chance to bring about such a condition of things as will make life worth living, our homes worth fighting for, and our country worth dying to defend, and you will find that when danger threatens, every man, and woman too if need be, will die to preserve their rights and liberties. No foe could conquer such a nation as that, and few would care about trying.
In conclusion, my advice to the Workers of Australia at the present time is not to take any heed of appeals made to their patriotism. If an enemy should invade our shores, we have a brilliant chance. Let us say to the capitalists: - "This is not our country at present; you own it nearly all in times of peace, so you can fight for it now - we won't." GO ON STRIKE BOYS! Make terms; it wouldn't take long. Demand nationalisation of the land, coalmines, and all minerals, and machinery; the only compensation would be our assistance to fight for their retention.
If the Capitalists refuse, stand neutral. Swapping bosses can't hurt us much, and may do us good. Remember it would be good fun to see the Capitalists fighting for their own property for the first time in the history of the world.
What has this to do with Federation? Well simply this, that if we take up the attitude indicated, the ruling class must come to our terms; if we federate hurriedly we will have to take theirs. All the difference in the world. Strike for liberty first - greatness next or any time.
P.S. The only real first-class thing about that Federation Scheme was the name, the Commonwealth of Australia. Commonwealth, means common weal, or the general good, the well-being of the community. Republic is only the Latin term for nearly exactly the same thing. Let us keep the good homely pure English word, "Commonwealth", and make Australia the first nation in the world to work and legislate for the good of all, not of a privileged unscrupulous minority. H.M.