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of the party's very large contribution to the Australian army, became the home of all the pacificists and shoddy cosmopolitans in the Commonwealth, and still shelters them, despite certain slight modifications of attitude forced on it by the desire to reabsorb returned soldiers. Where it is in office, the war is officially tabu; war trophies are refused or neglected, war services disregarded or even held to be disqualifications; the fact that there was a war is something to be forgotten or at any rate left unmentioned. Not all the Labour leaders, of course, are aliens or Bolshevists. The great expulsion spared a few of the older and more thoughtful; and Labour's useful instinct for putting its most acceptable representatives into its most prominent positions still does it good service. Mr Tudor remains its leader in the Federal Parliament, Mr Storey heads the New South Wales Ministry. Against such men no reasonable critic has any grave charges to make. But, as in the case with Labour in Great Britain, the leaders are too often led.
In putting forward adverse criticism of a big political party, it is essential to check personal judgments by others that may be less liable to bias. Alongside the estimate just given of the personnel of Labour's new directorate may therefore be set that of the Sydney • Bulletin,' a journal which no one will suspect of violent conservatism :
. With the new control a new sort arrived, naturally, to fill up the Labour ranks. All manner of wild-eyed, wild-haired revolutionaries came in. The useless, unproductive nonlabouring “pony"* element arrived. So did the baser sort of drink-selling interest. So did a new sectarian force. And with that force a surprising number of men who have become rich without doing anything hard or useful men who no doubt argue that it is safer for a rich man to be inside than out, for then he can help to so arrange matters that laws for the destruction of capital shall pass by his kind of capital. . . . Naturally these men have low ethical standards; so that, whenever any dubious job is suggested, it is almost taken for granted that a New Labourite invented it; and that is about the last thing that would have been suspected of Old Labour, which was the most transparently
* I.e. the lower type of racecourse hanger-on, always prominent at pony raee-meetings.
honest and sincere body that the world has seen since the days of the Apostles.'
There is, by the by, no need to assume the existence of any pro-German propaganda in this connexion. In actual fact Australia seems to have been exceptionally free from enemy intrigue. The transformation of the Labour party from one dominated by love for Australia to one obsessed by hatred for Britain is sufficiently accounted for without dragging in Germans; the alien strain was rather American-Irish, strengthened by an influx of fugitives from nearly every country to the one refuge where conscription could not touch them.
The Labour disruption of course necessitated a complete reorganisation of Federal parties. For three months (including the Christmas holidays) Mr Hughes held on with a Ministry chosen from the expelled section of Labour. But in February 1917, seeing that the chasm was impassable and that without a machine of any sort he must inevitably lose the coming elections, he effected a coalition with the old “Liberal' party and formed a National War Government' in which he as Prime Minister had only four colleagues of his own way of thinking, while Mr Cook had five. The Prime Minister's section, however, was united, while Mr Cook's included three former Deakinites, a personal rival (Lord Forrest) and a detached philosopher (Mr Glynn); so that the Government suffered less from internal troubles than might have been expected. After the second Conscription Referendum this Ministry was enlarged by taking in another supporter of Mr Cook and the only prominent Deakinite who had not followed his leader into the fusion of 1909. By this time, however, Mr Hughes' marked superiority to all his colleagues had produced its effect, and both in Parliament and in the country he was the only man who counted. Probably he was (and is) as much detested by many of his supporters as by most of his opponents; and persistent efforts have been made ever since to replace him, sometimes with Mr Watt (who flatly refused to countenance them), sometimes with an
"unknown' who was never selected; but his own genius and the utter lack of anything like genius among other members of Parliament have so far made him indispensable.
In such a situation on the one side, a party torn and discredited, its machine at a standstill because the extremists in control of the mechanism are at loggerheads with the mass of unionists who supply, or will not supply, the fuel; on the other, a coalition which has lost its reason for coalition (the war) and is constrained to follow the leader of its minority simply because its majority cannot provide a leader worth following-one finds some difficulty in describing the policy of either party. They are differentiated, as regards most of the immediately offered legislation, rather by methods than by objects. Both, that is, are avowedly hostile to profiteering, to delays in arbitration, to excessive expenditure; both promise (at election times) further bounty to returned soldiers; both propose to use Governmental instruments in the development of public and private wealth. Apart from the attempts of a certain section of Labour to substitute its own cliques and organisers for Parliament and its Ministries as the governing force in the Commonwealth, the most notable feature of the new Labour policy is its determination (on paper, at least) to isolate and unify Australia. The
• Senate,' said Mr Tudor in a recent policy speech, and the State Parliaments and Governorships shall be abolished. Local governmental powers shall be exercised by provincial legislatures and municipalities, constituted by and subordinate to the Commonwealth Parliament. The High Court shall become the final court of appeal in any Australian case. . . . All Bills passed by the Australian Parliament must receive assent on the advice of Australian Ministers only.' As for defence, he went on-having previously regretted that the terms of the recent Peace Treaty did not provide for the total disarmament of all nations'-a Labour Ministry would in its first session repeal all classes of the Defence Act providing for compulsory service and compulsory training, and enact that, except in pursuance of an expressed vote of the people, no force to take part in an oversea war should be raised within the Commonwealth. This is the moderate leader speaking; the views of his more extreme followers may be judged from the latest utterance of a president of the Labour Council'-The Navy does not produce anything
of a productive nature, and the millions of pounds spent for its upkeep could be well spent elsewhere.'
The Ministerial policy, on the other hand, so far as Mr Hughes can shape it (and that is a grave qualification, for no one knows what his colleagues may be up to when the Prime Minister is away), is based on the fact that Australia cannot thus isolate herself. Defence against outside aggression is the purpose towards which every specific measure is directed. For defence of so vast an area a large population is indispensable; therefore immigration must be fostered (but, just because the object is defence, it must be immigration of British settlers), and larger families must be encouraged. The economic policy of this party ... must create conditions in their employment which will benefit the great mass of the people, and must encourage a large population to develop the resources of the country.' Similarly measures to open up the irrigable lands of the Murray valley, and to provide a uniform gauge throughout the Australian trunk lines, are adopted because they have a high defensive value. As for the more technical forms of defence, naval and military, little progress can be made while the burden of war debt so severely cripples Australian finance; and the naval side, in particular, is apparently being allowed to slacken. But this is purely a matter of money and of the immediate crisis ; it would be unjust to assume, as some English critics appear already to have done, that Australia is reverting to the old policy of expecting Britain to defend her.
• We as a people,' said Mr Hughes the other day, 'have no right to throw our burdens on the other nations which comprise the British Empire, or to make their burdens any greater than they are.' But this policy, unfortunately, depends for its maintenance almost entirely on Mr Hughes. Indeed, the most encouraging feature of the political situation is that everything depends on him. For reasons shortly to be discussed, there is not another man in the Ministerial party, friend or enemy, fit to take up his work and develop his ideas. And if they are not developed — whether the uninspired plodding of his colleagues or the windy, vapourings of the Labour Council replace them, the future of Australia will be dark indeed.
The Conscription Referendum of October 1916 marks a turning-point in Australian Labour tactics. In the first place, the expulsions that followed it established for the first time a principle often previously advocated but never agreed to-that Labour members of Parliament were under the orders of the annual Trade-Union Conference. The older pledge, in spite of many misrepresentations, was logical and consistent with Parliamentary duty. It provided that the adhering member should be bound by the fighting platform'on which he had been elected, and on all questions involving that platform should vote as the majority of his fellowmembers decided; but on matters with which the platform did not deal the member was free to use his own judgment. But the Conference was ill-content with this degree of subordination. The Federal 'fighting platform,' formulated at a special Conference held about halfway between dissolutions, was usually more than a year old before the elections, and therefore out of date by the time Parliament was sitting. So, when the Federal Labour Ministry in 1916 defied the extremist invaders and brought in a proposal for Conscription (which, not being considered in the 1914 .fighting platform,' was avowedly a matter for each man's personal decision), the indignant Conference, completely mastered by its extremist section, asserted its power to dictate the Labour vote, and to expel from the party any member refusing to accept its orders. Every advocate of Conscription who refused to withdraw his declarations and admit his subordinate position was wiped off the list of Labour members, and ipso facto became the most hated of Labour's opponents.
There and then the Australian Labour Party, as men had known it from its inception-the party of nondoctrinaire socialism, of sober practical legislative progress and cautious administration, of Watson and Fisher and Batchelor and Hughes, which the official Socialists' of Australia had always denounced as bourgeois-died and was buried.
It lost its leaders and its organisation together with its character and its aims; and the party that stole its name and its machinery, and tried to assume its position in politics, was an imposture. It is true that it was on the whole an intelligent imposture,