Kids! by C.J. Dennis

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The Treasurer said that the policy of importing farm laborers had been undertaken at the request of the Rev. Mr. Gwynne, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, who, on behalf of English immigration societies, had asked the Government to take from 100 to 200 lads a year.

Mr. Bowser said that hundreds of farmers badly needed laborers.  The Labor Bureau wanted 100 unmarried farm laborers, at £1 a week and keep.  Farm life in Victoria offered boys better general opportunities than they would get in any other country. (Cheers.) - Debate in Vic. Assembly.

Hundreds of 'em for the farmer! Kids of an imported brand;
Thousands of 'em for the country!  Lo, the man upon the land
Loud for England's surplus youngster - five whole bob a week, 'tis said;
And their value to the nation stands at many pounds a head.
      But the nation never riz 'em.
      That "would tend to Socialism";
So we have to fetch 'em over from the country where they're bred.

Send us kids from good old Britain - sons of men who won't be slaves -
From the land where countless paupers seek dishonorable graves
We're prepared to offer for them.  Ship them out across the deep,
From that dear old Freetrade country where the cost of labor's cheap.
      While, of our unmarried workers -
      (Married men are costly shirkers)
We will take a meagre hundred at a pound a week and keep.

We can't raise 'em in Australia, where employers by the score
For the bloke without a missus in the labor depôts roar
Ship 'em out!  The noble farmer yearns to mould their bright young lives.
Ship 'em young that for a dozen years they may not seek for wives.
      When they think of getting married
      Maybe they'll regret they tarried
Where the kid-encumbered worker vainly for a billet strives.

We don't want 'em when they're babies, for their raisin' costs a heap.
We don't want 'em when they're married, with their own young broods to keep.
And brakes upon the wheels of progress are such futile folk.  Just look
At the bob advertisement.  You'll see their chance of work is "crook."
      Ship 'em out in handy sizes
      For the cove that advertises
For the unencumbered couple - "Man to milk and wife to cook."

Spare our days!  Why should we raise 'em? We can get 'em ready-made
From a land where there's a surplus, thanks to good old BULL's Freetrade.
It will save the careful farmer.  He can give his man the sack -
Costly man who owns a missus and a child or two to whack.
      Ship 'em out, he's yearnin' for 'em;
      While they're young he'll just adore 'em
Then, when they grow up and marry, someone else can ship 'em back.

Pass in with cheap boy labor - "badly needed farming hand";
Ships pass out with young Australians seeking work in other lands.
Hurrahs! are loudly sounded for the patriotic bloke -
He who perpetrated this unseemly emigration joke.
      Cheers for him who brings the kiddy
      To a job that's sure and "stiddy"!
It will balance the outgoing of our workless married folk.

Lo, we want them - want them badly!  There is none denies the fact -
Kids to populate the country.  And behold, our noble act
England of her surplus toilers - we can do with quite a heap.
We can't breed them in the country - boys to plough and boys to reap.
      And who says it is surprising
      When we're daily advertising
For a hundred men - unmarried - at a pound a week and keep.

First published in The Bulletin, 25 August 1910

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 25, 2013 7:56 AM.

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