Works in the Bulletin 1912
Sit you down, discerning brother, let us understand each other,
   And push forward with a little scheme apace.
It concerns our Constitution and the "threatened revolution,"
   As the heated Tory quaintly puts the case.
It concersn these referenda and how far we ought to go,
And the very vital question: Are we voting Yes or No?

You are sick, as I am, brother, and indeed full many other Men of sense and perspicacity (like us) - Sick of ev'ry quip and quibble, and the party cries that dribble From the politicians; sick of all the fuss, Of debates that lead to nowhere, and the howls of mock distress, And the most transparent blather of a very biassed press.
Wherefore, friend, with your permission, let us form a small commission, Just a very small and quite select affair. You and I alone comprise it; it no others recognise it We can let it go at that. Why should we care? 'Tis a matter that concerns, in brief, the votes of you and me; So we'll waste no time in fretting if some others don't agree.
We'll assume, as time is flitting, our commission now is sitting. It comprises two plain men of common sense And, though others may ignore us, we shall weigh the facts before us And report correctly on the evidence. Our first witness is the man of whom the daily papers bleat - He's the "average elector" or the "person in the street."
Takethbookinyerrightand . . . . . Thevidence .... Selpyer ... Kissthbook.
"You represent the average elector?" "I do." "Are you in favor, of any alterations in the Federal Constitution?" "Well, you see, I haven't quite made up me mind. There's one bloke says" - "Never mind what people say. Have you thoroughly considered these Constitutional questions?" "I got me job to look after." "Do you, believe in the regulation of injurious Trusts?" "My oath!" "Well, do you think that these proposals will help to regulate Trusts?" "I dunno. The MORNIN' MEGAPHONE says" - "Never mind what the papers say. Do you believe all you read in the papers?" "Not much! But, then, the member for Mud Flat says" - "Do you believe all the politicians tell you?" "No fear!" "How do you propose to come to a decision?" "It's a fair cow, ain't it?" "Yes, but you have to make up your mind, you know. Do you favor unification?" "I dunno." "Do you favor State Rights?" "My oath!" "Do you uphold Legislative Councils, the Property Vote and Government by the Wealthy?" "No blanky fear!" "You believe in government by the people?" "You bet!" "If you don't believe in these other things why don't you abolish them?" "You're pullin' me leg." "You have the power." "Aw, dicken!" "The witness may stand down."
You'll observe, my learned brother, that this man, like many other Fellows of his type, is in a perfect maze - What with politicians' capers and the wrangling of the papers, This way and that he oscillates and sways. He doesn't know which way he'll vote, though vote he feels he must. For our next witness let us have the Spirit of the Trust.
Takethebook. . . .Trootholetrooth. . . . .Kissthebook.
"You represent the Trust or Combine?" "Yes." "With regard to these referenda questions; do you?" - "It is a deliberate attempt to wreck the established form of Government and interfere unduly with Private Enterprise!" "What do you suggest should?" - "We only ask to be let alone." "What were your profits for the?" - "I refuse to answer." "What capital?" "I refuse to answer." "Did you, last year, subscribe to the funds of the party that is fighting these amendments?" "I refuse to answer." "Is it a fact that you subscribed 500,000,000?" "I give that statement an absolute and unqualified denial!" "What sum did you subscribe?" "I refuse to answer. Let us alone." "But why should the Trusts fear?" - "There are no Trusts in Australia." "But you said just now that you represented the Trusts?" "I wish to amend my reply. There are no Trusts in Australia!" "The witness may stand down."
I regret that our commission, friend, is not in a position To compel replies more definite than his. Since he's chary of revealing facts, there's something he's concealing; But we'll weigh his evidence just as it is. 'Tis said that money talks, but when it suits it can be dense. The Spirit of Democracy will now give evidence.
"You represent the Democratic Spirit?" "I do." "Do you favor the extension of national power?" "Why should I not? Is it undemocratic to trust the people?" "The Federal legislators might misuse these powers?" "They are controlled by the people." "But why rob the States of their rights?" "The States possess no rights that the people do not possess." "Or privileges?" "It is a section - a small section - of the people who are privileged through the existence of Houses of Property." "The Legislative Councils?" "Yes." "But are not these controlled by the people?" "By only a privileged section." "Then the extension of Federal power would help to break the power of privilege?" "Undoubtedly. It would be taking the power away from the privileged and placing it with the people." "One moment, though. Are not Legislative Councillors wiser and freer from prejudice than the people's representatives?" "You will have your little joke!" "The witness may retire."
Now, good friend, a light is breaking while this evidence we're taking, For this witness does not hesitate or hedge. Judging by his answers solely, it appears the issue wholly Rests between the People's Rights and Privilege. But let us hear the other side and ponder that reply. The Honora61e TORYPHAT will forthwith testify.
. . . .Bookinyerightand. . . . Selpyer. . . .Kissthbook.
"You represent Wealth, Privilege and the Reactionary Spirit?" "I have that honor." "But not necessarily Intellect or Wisdom?" "Pardon me. To become wealthy one must necessarily be intelligent; and the man who has made a success of his own business is best fitted to look after the business of his country." "To the detriment of his own business?" "I don't see what that has to do with it." "You do not believe in any extension of Federal powers?" "Most emphatically no! The Labor party with these powers"- "Then YOU think the Labor party will retain office?" "Certainly not! Our party has every chance of beating them next elections." "Then why object to putting these powers into the hands of your own party?" "While there is the remotest chance of Labor ever getting back again, it is unsafe." "Then you would never extend the power of the Federal Parliament?" "Never! It is unsafe." "Each of the States has a 'safe' House?" "Thank Heaven!" "What do you mean by a 'safe' House?' "I mean a House that will always vote as we wish it to, and will not brook any undue interference with Private Enterprise and the rights of the better classes." "So, when you speak of States Rights you really mean the rights of the Legislative Councils - the right of Capital to veto legislation?" "Put it that way if you like." "And the question fines itself down to this: Federal rights are the unqualified rights of the people; State rights are also the rights of the people - the same People, qualified by the privileges of the Legislative Councils; and the forthcoming fight will really mean, the Legislative Councils versus the people?" "Perhaps. But the people will never perceive the real issue." "The people are not fools?" "My dear sir, the people are fools; and there are ways of persuading them. I have said there are some smart men in our party. Also, there are the newspapers. "You mean to cloud the issue?" "Why not? Our cause is just." "The witness may stand down."
On the evidence before it - though some part was apt to bore it - This Commission now reports to those concerned It has come to the conclusion that States Rights are an illusion; And amid the crows there's much to be unlearned. That some may disagree with it 'tis ready to confess. As for itself, its vote will be a very solid "Yes."

The Bulletin, 26 December 1912, p8-9

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