Political Evolution 1

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Gourmet's Guide to Lismore & District

Chapter 11

Political Evolution - 1920s

1922 NSW
1922 Federal
1925 NSW

1925 Federal
1928 Federal

1927 NSW
1929 Federal

Country Party Ascendancy
(As seen through the eyes of the Northern Star)

The period 1919/20 marked a changing of the Greek guard and a cycle of frequent turnovers in cafe ownership until things started to settle down in the mid 1930s. The region's fluctuating fortunes and escalating anti-dago sentiment accompanying continuing political upheaval didn't help. The 1916 conscription referendum, which won Richmond the distinction of being the only country electorate to say yea, had generated great political turmoil and a realignment of all local Machiavellians, many taking sometime to figure out where they stood. The State election in early 1917 saw Protestant Irishman George Nesbitt, sitting Liberal for Lismore, stand as a Nationalist against an Independent Laborite, Catholic Irishman Michael Conlan O'Halloran, founder of the United Irish League, an ex-school teacher, ex-President of the Lismore branch of the Political Labor League, ex-Vice President of the Farmers and Settlers Association, and now proprietor of The Northern People, the left-leaning competitor of the right-leaning Northern Star, which was under the editorial control of chameleon Robert Browne (variously an Anglican Englishman and Catholic Irishman raised in India.) A couple of weeks later the Federal election campaign opened with sitting Liberal for Richmond, Englishman Walter Massy Greene, running as a Nationalist against a Sydney interloper, Independent John Steel/e, an ex-Laborite but now President of the The Young Australia National Party advocating abolition of the States. Nesbitt and Greene romped home with a nod from the respective 53% and 71% of the eligible voters who bothered to front, attributing their increased majorities (on 1913) to the votes of the conscriptionists within the Labor camp.  

Greene and Nesbitt had a lot of help from the Northern Star, still branding itself the recognised organ of Liberalism in the region, which held a Presbyterian view of the world and condemned anti-conscriptionists for dereliction of duty, labelling  the 'closet Labor' candidates as anythingarians. At Casino the Richmond River Express, under the editorial pen of William Way Wilson, denounced  the shirkers as defeatists (and in the second round argued that compulsion was vital in the great struggle to keep Australia white and free.) Over in the Tweed-Brunswick Scotsman George Cameron, owner and editor of the Mullumbimby Star, was an equally ardent conscriptionist, while at Murwillumbah Catholic Phil Tarlinton, owner of the Tweed Daily, was on holiday overseas courtesy of the AIF, leaving George Hollinsworth to wield a stern editorial quill in thrashing the draft dodgers. (These four newspapers were the regional survivors and eventually became stablemates.)

[Despite the Star's hysterical campaign for the second conscription referendum, (20Dec1917), the subdivisions of Casino and Murwillumbah joined Tenterfield in the No club, and Richmond's total ‘yes vote’ fell from 60% to 57%. (The Casinoids and Murbahians, coincidentally making up the two proportionally largest Catholic enclaves in the region, lost their resolve in the face of steadfast editorial chairs, the Murbahian seat temporarily occupied by 17yr old Anglican conscriptionist Harry Budd.) The overall NSW vote increased to 60% No, but the same 5 out of 26 electorates remained loyal yea sayers. Of great entertainment during the campaign was the arrest of O’Halloran for publishing ‘statements likely to prejudice the recruiting of His Majesty’s Forces in Australia’ in contravention of the War Precautions Act, when he wrote All I can say is that if those who are responsible for the continuance of the carnage are not lunatics they are certainly providing a huge crop of future lunatics. He was found guilty, but his lawyer, Mr Sullivan, pleaded that the PM take into consideration that a fine which might be easily borne by one might crush another. Defendant was not one who had command of too much of this world’s goods. Presbyterian Lawyer McIntosh, a member of the Nationalist Party and President of Lismore’s ‘Win-the-War League’, represented the prosecution and urged the Magistrate to impose a fine such as defendant would not continue. But he did, and six months later was rearrested for ‘publishing statements likely to prejudice His Majesty’s relations with foreign Powers’, a new addition to the War Precautions Act, and once again found guilty. His sin was to speculate on Japan’s possible direction after Germany was defeated, likely to cause the same international incident as a Tasmanian provincial paper did when it screamed a headline ‘We Warn The Tsar’ during the Crimean War. (Another sinner against the War Precautions Act was Fr Henry Van Riel, Catholic Parish Priest of Tweed Heads, who had to do penance for 'statements likely to cause public alarm' a week before the second referendum.)

It seems O'Halloran, who was beaten up and had his office trashed after the first referendum (Oct1916), had had enough of Lismore, packing up and leaving town by the end of 1918. Perhaps having a bearing was the appointment of Lieutenant Lukin as Lismore's very own resident Press Censor two weeks after the first court case. The Northern Star shed no tears and for the first time ever had no competitors. O'Halloran had contested 7 previous elections - at Wellington, Bogan and Cobar - initially as a Protectionist before switching to Labor in 1894. His son, lawyer Robert Emmet, stood as Endorsed Labor for Randwick in 1917 and also bombed out. But he won in 1920 and served intermittently as an MLA through to 1947 when the Country Party finally took his seat of Orange.]

In the State seat of Byron it was a 5 horse race with sitting Liberal, now Nationalist and long-time Sydney resident,  72yr old Honest John Perry, under fire for being asleep on the job. Perhaps thinking it would give him an edge, Catholic Lawyer Tighe of Ballina, who stood as Labor against the London-born Massy Greene in 1913 but was now a convert to Independent Nationalism, played up the fact that he was the only Australian-born of Presbyterian Perry's four challengers, the foremost contender being Oliver Virtue, another Independent Nationalist with whom Perry apparently broke a 'Kirribilli Agreement'. Virtue, a Wesleyan Methodist from Northern Ireland and now of the prominent Bangalow auctioneer's firm of Virtue & Noble, lost to Perry by 56 votes, but, in accordance with the electoral system then in vogue, the two had to undergo a run-off in a second ballot, at which Perry got home with an absolute majority of 52%, awarded by 56% of the eligible voters. This election got a little dirty, with sectarianism getting a run along with personal abuse, while Tighe's conversion left the Star with no Laborite to blame for the end of civilization. Perry MLA took his pension to the Legislative Council just before the next election and died 2yrs later, having served Byron as an MLA for 31yrs.

Post war the cost-of-living started running away, Unions started getting more militant and new award wages and working conditions were being struck regularly, while the district was in the grip of the worst drought in yonks and the farmers were still up in arms over tariffs and the price fixing of butter, the main fixer from Mar1918 being Walter Massy Greene MHR, an ex-dairy farmer of Nimbin, a monty as future Prime Minister and recently appointed Chairman of the Butter Pool Committee, which had controlled very largely the butter industry during the war period. The region’s fortunes rode on the cow's back, but whether they were improved with his removal from the saddle is a contentious point. Nevertheless, the next step in the political revolution began with the Federal election of late 1919 when the new Country Party started to get a grip on the reins.

Two thirds of the eligible punters fronted to slap Greene on the wrist with an award of 66.9% of the primary vote, a big dip from the generous 75.2% they gave him in 1917. The Northern Star, his most ardent fan, branded this the most extraordinary apathy … at a most critical period of Australia’s existence. his two opponents, Endorsed Labor O'Dea and Independent Steel (but still closet Labor reckoned the Star), were… out of touch with us as a whole in every respect and with their interests in Sydney.... Oddly, he was less popular in the wealthy banana republic of the Tweed-Brunswick (64% of the primary vote), than in the Richmond part of the electorate (70%). But he lost Tenterfield, having previously won all subdivisions.

Winning at the same election was Methodist Dr Earle Page of Grafton, representing the Farmers and Settlers’ Association. Ten others from various farmers' groups were also winners, six of whom joined Dr Page to take their seats as the Country Party and go on to transform (or destabilise) Australian politics by wielding the balance of power. They couldn’t stomach Prime Minister Hughes whom the Star reckoned was a top bloke and not actuated by motives of personal ambition, but is inspired by his knowledge that the future prosperity and progress of the Commonwealth depend upon the only party which can be relied upon to administer its affairs on sound and statesmanlike principles. That this view of the situation is an absolutely correct one must be apparent to anyone capable of unbiased judgment. Mr Hughes has pointed out that the Country Party cannot possibly….

1920 NSW

At State level the punters went to the polls in early 1920 under a new electoral system that saw the introduction of proportional representation, with the electorates of Lismore and Clarence now absorbed into Byron for the election of three members. The Northern Star sent them on their way with a warning that they’d better vote for George Nesbitt of the Nationalist Party, his running mate William (‘I am not a German’) Zuill of Grafton and, reluctantly, Raymond (aka Stephen) Perdriau of the Progressive Party, formed by disaffected Nationalists with the backing of the Farmers and Settlers' Association and the Graziers' Association. While naturally dismissing the communists, aka Labor, the Star also warned that others have broken away from the Nationalists and are contesting the election as Independents and Progressives – Progressive not for the benefit of the electors but for themselves. These men include Missingham (Prog), McDougall, Tighe, Yates, Nicholson (Ind Prog - Clarence) and Winterton…. The electors the ‘Star’ specially appeals to are too fair-minded, too generous in spirit, too appreciative to turn down a consistent straightforward representative… at a time when everything in the State is in a most critical condition… it would be unthinkable that the electors would elect anyone else…. (Nesbitt couldn't stomach Premier Holman and mostly campaigned as an 'Independent Nationalist', while Anglican Perdriau, founder of the Tweed Fruit Growers Association and appearing for a political maiden run, had a foot in both camps.)

The Nationalists were the first to start complaining about ‘mud-slinging’, aired by their mates at the Star: We have dealt at some length with the charges brought by those discredited politicians controlling operations on behalf of the Progressive party whose representatives here are masquerading under the style of the Country party. The charges… being wickedly framed by unscrupulous and shifty politicians for the one purpose of creating a hostile feeling in the minds of the farmers, and inducing them to vote the National Government out of power. … The measures the Progressives rely upon to win the preferences of the electorate are identical with the programmes enunciated from a Lismore platform in 1919… The Progressives have stolen the planks of the Nationalist. (In 1919 Greene had outlined a scheme aiming at co-operative control of dairy produce upon a Federal basis.)

And sectarianism was back in vogue. Monsignor McGuire thought too many elections are contested and won in this district by appeals to the anti-Catholic bias. …Throughout the coming week if any candidate or any Lismore journalism should appeal by insinuation or directly to anti-Catholic prejudice, by standing for what you know to be injustice to Catholics, then remember you as Catholics cannot be represented by such a candidate or the creature of such journalism….  Further, if any candidate or any Lismore journalism should attempt to stir up prejudices  by condemning a candidate because he happens to be a Catholic, then by your votes endeavour to vindicate the right of a Catholic to take part in making the laws of a country where all are free. …There is a bursary Act in New South Wales which gives an opportunity to bright young Australians, including Catholic lads, of winning in public examination their way to University education. Mr Nesbitt has publicly stated that he is in favour of repealing this beneficial Act…. (Mr Nesbitt, an 'Orangeman' born in Northern Ireland, wanted bursaries only being tenable at State public schools.... )

Perhaps stung by the Catholics over unfair treatment, (Bishop Carroll had complained from the pulpit that the newspaper 'held over' letters from Monsignor McGuire), on the day of the election the Star, run in the interests of the Orangemen reckoned the Rock Choppers, said, It is sometimes asked what right have newspapers to direct the electors how to vote? None, absolutely. …Newspapers do not direct but they advise, after having focused attention to the shortcomings or good qualities of each claimant to Parliamentary honors. In the present election there has been a vein of bitterness running through the contest from the outset. This is entirely due to the discreditable attitude of the Progressive faction…. Nesbitt, endorsed by the Farmers and Settlers' Association in 1913, said he knew Mr Missingham as a Liberal in 1913, and now that candidate was known as a Progressive in the morning, a Farmer’s party man in the afternoon, and a Country party man at eight…, and placed him fifth on the Nationalist's how-to-vote card.

Fifty three percent of the eligible voters responded by giving Nationalist Nesbitt 24% of the primary vote, Labor Swiney 20%, Confused Progressive Perdriau 17%, Progressive Missingham 10%, Nationalist Zuill 9%, and the other 7 candidates the remainder (6 of whom came in behind Mr Informal who scored 6.9% of the vote.) The two 'closet Country' candidates posing as Independents, Ballina Tighe (but still 'closet Labor' according to the Star) and Cudgera McKeever (a 78yr old Northern Irishman), shared 5%, while their blood brother, Pastor John Yates, a tenant farmer of Alstonville calling himself the Farmers' candidate, scored 3%. No candidate reached the quota of 5103. Presbyterian Labor Swiney, a Sydney apparatchik making his debut, took North and South Lismore while Storekeeper Nesbitt romped home in Lismore proper. Swiney's running mate, Labor Ryan, also a meddler from Sydney, put in one appearance in the electorate and won 1% of the vote. After preferences Perdriau (27.43%), Nesbitt (26.29%), and Swiney (25.47%) were given the nod. The Nationalists lost the auction and Premier Holman, another who switched from Labor after the 1916 conscription referendum, lost his seat (but had a win over Tarlington of the Tweed Daily, successfully suing him for libel.) And the Star was mortified, condemning the Progressives as the party of deceit and the voters who didn’t front as unpatriotic and who showed what a howling farce adult suffrage has proved at a time when the very best statesmanship is required to tide the country over its critical days.

In Apr1921 the Star changed ownership when Presbyterian proprietor, Thomas Mackenzie Hewitt, became a minority shareholder upon selling out to Presbyterian Lawyer J.C. McIntosh Snr and a bunch of mates who became directors of the new entity called Northern Star Ltd and advertised for a new editor (at £600/yr) by specifying 'Duties literary only', perhaps implying that the managing director would dictate the paper's political stance. Mr A.G. Davies of the ‘Brisbane Courier Parliamentary reporting staff’ won the job and the previous editor, pseudo Catholic Robert Browne, a man of ‘conservative and Imperialistic sentiment’, moved to Mullumbimby to manage a banana farm on behalf of Miss Mary Hewitt. [At which time Sectarianism was again building. On the 18Feb21 at the opening of Marist Brothers School extensions Irishman Bishop Carroll uttered a few words on State Aid, but, curiously, the Star held-over Letters-to-the-Editor on the speech until 10Mar21, publishing two anti-Catholic diatribes adjacent to his ‘Lenten Pastoral Address’ ...the right reverend gentleman dwells at length upon the following subjects:- (1) The criticism his church received from certain public speakers recently in this district. (2) What he declares to be the glaring injustice inflicted on the Roman Catholic community because the State does not subsidise their sectarian schools. (3) The hoary, evergreen, and eternal question of alleged injustice to Ireland.…said Mr W.F. Oakes, President of the Protestant Federation, still unforgiving of the perceived anti-conscription, anti-Hughes and anti-English stance of the Irish-born patriotic Australian Bishop. (And Editor Browne remains an enigma. Upon his third marriage, to an Irish lass in 1901 Brisbane, he converted to, or passed himself off as, a Catholic, and came to Lismore in 1909 to take up editorship of the Catholic newspaper, The North Coast Daily News. In 1911 he switched to the opposition Northern Star where he demonstrated lukewarm Catholic empathy at best. Nevertheless, his family farewelled him with Catholic rites from St Carthage's Cathedral, Lismore, upon his death in Mullum in 1926.)]

1922 NSW

The Labor government collapsed after the death of Premier Storey, followed by a hung parliament after the Progressive Party split on support for the Nationalists, forcing NSW again to the polls in early 1922. The Star, still with no great change in editorial direction, condemned the Labor Satanists back to hell and advocated, in order, Nesbitt (Nationalist Coalition), Perdriau (Progressive Coalition), Missingham (Country Progressive), Blackman (Country Progressive), Williams (Nationalist Coalition, but mostly simply 'Coalition') and Zuill (Country Progressive)… and the elector must see that he or she does not put a mark of any kind in the square opposite the names of the three Labour candidates (Swiney, Kiely, Reidy)

Nesbitt won 28% of the primary vote and easily made the quota. Perdriau got 22% and made it on the second count. Missingham snatched 10% and made it with the flow of Perdriau's surplus, just pipping Swiney who had scored 21.9% of the primary and asked for a recount (finally losing to Missingham 7505 to 7282). Nesbitt easily took Lismore (except for the Labor enclaves of North and South Lismore), while Swiney’s only other win was in Casino where the Richmond River Express was editorially neutral. Presbyterian Zuill, elected to Clarence under the Farmers and Settlers ticket in 1915 but switching to the Nationalists in 1917, openly declared himself 'Country Party', winning a minor 9% of the primary vote, mostly from his home turf of Grafton. Blackman called himself ‘Country Progressive’ most of the time while Methodist Missingham (mainly spruiking 'Country men for Country interests') was a bit confusing. And Williams, confused Coalition, was placed second on Perdriau’s card, superseding Nesbitt at number three. (But Williams got the bulk of Nesbitt's surplus.)

The Star was happy enough that a coalition of Nationalists and Progressives won power and not too concerned that upon taking their seats the Progressives who opposed the coalition repackaged themselves as ‘True Blue’ Progressives, including Missingham, a dairy farmer of Dorroughby, President of the Richmond District Council of the Primary Producers Union, successor to Walter Massy Greene as Terania Shire President in 1909, and now President of the NSW Shires Association. He apparently left the farm to his sons and took up residence in Sydney for the rest of his life. (And by the bye, Terania, which embraced the Orange village of Clunes, was home to the largest Methodist and smallest Catholic communities in the region, notwithstanding that the combined weight of all religious persuasions just matched the amused Anglicans.)

The Star reckoned the campaign which now has been brought to a conclusion has not been characterised by the objectionable tactics to the same extent as has been the case in the past…, but the introduction of the sectarianism issue was regrettable.... The ‘Protestant Federation District Council’, which endorsed Mr Nesbitt and Mr C.J.T.F. Williams ('Nationalist' winning 3.32% primary), had a bucket of money that the Star was happy to accept in exchange for running regular half-page adverts advising readers that Rome was making a bid for temporal power through the wicked Labor Party, leaving devout left-leaning Proddies with a problem. Labor made a comeback at the next State election by fielding local born and bred candidates, one even being a Mick. (And in both elections the Catholics stayed curiously quiet.)

Presbyterian storekeeper Nesbitt, a past Mayor of Lismore and ex-President of the Chamber of Commerce, was given a victory celebration at the Richmond Hotel hosted by his campaign manager and current President of the Chamber of Commerce, Methodist A.T. Stratford, and current Mayor, Presbyterian Lawyer McKenzie, both later perplexed when Nesbitt was recruited by the Progressives.

Byron enjoyed the distinction of being the only electorate in the State not to have a Labour representative, but it didn't lead to any harmonious singing from the same hymn book; the three conservatives quickly had a falling-out, each claiming a greater sanction to solo for the Byronians. Perdriau figured Nesbitt's win was due to a cleverly contrived sectarian coup, and not to any political issue..., while Missingham was 'implacable.' Their different stances during one tangled parliamentary debate prompted the SMH to declare the debacle a strong argument for a return to the principle of single electorates. Missingham subsequently convinced Nesbitt of their common interests.


1922 Federal

For the following Federal election of late 1922 the Star again backed the wrong horse and the farmers were again provoked into anger over Massy Greene, now Minister for Defence and Deputy Leader of the Nationalist Party, wrongly blaming his sharp increases in tariffs whilst Minister for Trade and Customs for their increased production costs and their current hard times, a point of view circulated by the Country Party. The Star reckoned that The Country Party... If it continues its present insensate attitude of hostility to Mr Hughes and the Nationalists its only possibility of political action will be through co-operation with the Labour Party – the party which constitutes the gravest menace to the well-being of Australia at the present time. The Labour Party, dominated as it is by the Communists to whom patriotism is unknown….will not defend or uphold the ideal of a White Australia…. Mr Massy Greene is unquestionably the man best fitted to represent the Richmond electorate and to look after the welfare of the electors as a whole….

Massy Greene could only make it for the last week of the campaign, having spent most of his time around the country delivering the Nationalist message. He found on arrival that the Country Party had been making serious misrepresentations and distortions of the truth… and deluging the electorate with false and misleading pamphlets and leaflets…, and that one of the propaganda statements circulating was that he was responsible for a tariff which had placed the highest tax on all implements used by the man on the land…when the exact opposite was the case. While feuding between the two conservative groups distracted them both from combating the 'socialist candidate, Dr Page and the Countriotes maintained their momentum and were relentless in pushing home the early advantage. (But as usual the Star did most of the anti-socialist/communist work for them anyway.)

Nevertheless, despite the bickering the Countriotes were never too detailed on what they were offering in the way of product differentiation from the Nationalists, preferring the ‘us and them’ argument in insisting that the Nationalists were beholden to city commercial interests, and distractions such as the New State Movement. Richmond, the largest dairy electorate in Australia, now included Deepwater and Emmaville and had grown in size from 33,992 in 1919 to 39,803 in 1922 (said the local electoral officer.)

The Star, apparently still under the influence of Mr T.M. Hewitt, although Mr Davies signed off on editorial election comment and Hewitt on the policy content of certain articles, thrice issued its readers a how-to-vote card and warnings on voter apathy. And on the day of the election Mr Hewitt, as ‘Publicity Officer of the Richmond Branch of the National Association,’ said: Electors, let your answer to Dr Page to-day be ‘Hands off Richmond.’ And the deaf mob went and gave the seat to Page’s protégé, the cunningly named Roland Green (occasionally spelt with an added e), who survived Gallipoli to lose his leg in France and come from Sydney to win top spot on the ballot paper, after passing up the seat of New England and following earlier unsuccessful tilts at the State seats of Newcastle and Namoi as a Progressive. He scored 46% of the primary vote and 53% after 'Labor' preferences, against Greene's 45% primary (189 votes less than Green) and 47% after preferences. Greene held Lismore and environs, but lost most of the other subdivisions, although the punters took an each-way bet and for the Senate vote gave the Nationalists a win in almost every subdivision. 'Labor' (alias Independent J.B. Steel, but bankrolled by Labor reckoned the Star) scored a miserable 9% of the primary, a big drop on the 21% in 1919, while Mr Informal's vote fell from 1412 to 692. Nevertheless, 'Labor' preferences decided the result and over subsequent elections the Labor faithful reminded everyone that they’d been conned into believing the Countrioids would be more sympathetic to their cause than the Nationalists.

And the farmers didn't know what they were in for. Their best ever returns ran from Aug1920 to Feb1921 with the monthly butter cheque consistently paying over 2/- per lb, peaking at 27½d in January, but 2mths later the lucrative war-time contract with Britain was terminated and in Sep21, after years of agitation by Norco and others, the domestic price controls were lifted, resulting in a crash to 9d/lb in Dec21 and the subsequent realisation that the free-market wasn't such a bright idea after all. (The returns varied across the region until the formation of the Factories' Association in 1922 fixed the monthly payouts, with only the bonuses varying from factory to factory. Norco progressively gobbled up the other co-operative factories until the recalcitrant Casino farmers and the proprietary company, Foley Bros, remained the only colluding competition.) By Aug22 the payout had climbed back to 21¾d after the huge stockpile of butter was exhausted, but again spiralling down to 14¾d in December, and Massy Greene, paradoxically proposing a plan for continuation of the compulsory pooling and price fixing system, reaped the farmer's reward. The monthly pays continued to be all over the place and never stabilized anywhere, playing havoc with forward planning, despite the Countiotes later voluntary 'Paterson Plan'. Over the next 10yrs to 1932 the average monthly pay/lb to farmers decreased by 35%, Richmond-Tweed production increased by 24% (16,000 to19,800 tons/yr), but didn't compensate for the reduction in the gross value of production of 32% (a cumulative loss to the region of almost £5,000,000.) The year 1933 marked the devastating collapse to an all time low price, following a desperate period of compensatory acceleration in production. The Countriote's voluntary butter stabilization scheme was abandoned in 1934 and replaced with a variation of the compulsory Massy Greene scheme, but the farmers weren't to see the Jan21 pay again until 1950, helped along by heavy Country Party subsidies.

The number of eligible electors who bothered to take an interest fell further to 59%, but better than the State average of 56%. [Conversely, the Lismoreiotes had shown keen interest in Local Government affairs just prior to the Federal election. A strong field of 21 alderman candidates stood for 12 Lismore Municipal seats and fully 54% of eligibles turned out, nearly double the number at the last election. The Star was happy to report that neither religious sectarianism nor party politics had any real influence on the result, despite one of its new directors, Lawyer and ex-Mayor Charles McKenzie, being voted out.]

It seems the Country Party specifically targeted Richmond. After the poll the party's campaign director said ...we forecasted... that the Richmond would be the surprise packet of the election. The Star editorialised on A Temporary Eclipse: Now that the final result of the polling for the Richmond division in the recent Federal elections has been made known, it may be fitting to give some passing thought to the effect of the people’s decision… which… gave a tremendous surprise to his friends and supporters (and questioned the myth of media power.) …That Mr Massy Greene’s political eclipse will be only for a time may be taken for granted…. But a few months later he sold-up at Nimbin and settled in Sydney and the Senate, although retaining his home at Brunswick Heads for a while. Across the country this election saw 14 Country Party members returned, while the Nationalists won only 26 seats, a loss of 11, and Labor gained 4 to sit on 30. Billy Hughes resigned as Prime Minister and leader of the Nationalist Party in favour of Stanley Bruce who formed a coalition with Dr Page, while from the Senate the staunch Hughes supporter, Massy-Greene (hyphen formalised in 1933 with the knighthood), became one of their greatest critics, considering them far too parochial. Dr Page is now immortalized with the Federal electorate of Page, while Massy-Greene graces a caravan park at Brunswick Heads.

Ironically, as a result of the price-fixing of butter in 1915 Massy-Greene, a Liberal at the time, became one of the founders of the Richmond Primary Producers Union, the largest PPU branch in the State, which was now the Countraians power base (and increasingly becoming an arm of Norco.) Presbyterian Chris McRae, ex-Mayor and storekeeper of Coraki, ex-Chairman of the Coraki Co-operative Butter Co and President of the Northern Rivers Associated Butter Factories, was one of the driving forces behind formation of the PPU, becoming foundation President in 1916, moving to Sydney to become President of the NSW umbrella organisation in 1919, and reigning until 1924, at which time he'd built membership to over 14,000 farmers spread across ~300 branches, making it a powerful political lobby group, recognised by Premier Fuller with an appointment to the Legislative Council in Aug1923. And the PPU continued to maintain it was non-political. Presbyterian Max Dunlop, a dairy farmer of Kyogle and secretary of the Richmond District Council of the PPU, moved to Sydney with Mr McRae in 1919 to become general secretary of the NSW PPU. He served as secretary through to 1933 thence President until his death in 1941, in the meantime appointed as a Country Party MLC in 1932.

One of those objecting to McRae's acceptance of the Nationalist appointment was adaptable Dr Goldsmid, a past mayor of Murbah and now president of the Murbah branch of the PPU. Eight months later he had a conversion on the road to a meeting of the Tweed District Council and moved that the union include politics within its activities.... He also questioned whether men with money invested in farms had received two per cent. on their money during the last three years... during that period the industry had not paid a living wage, much less interest on invested money..., perhaps implying he had landlord interests rather than 'hands on' farming. He also advocated a compulsory butter stabilisation scheme, putting him in the Massy Greene camp. But a week later he convened a meeting to form the Murbah branch of the Progressive Party and subsequently was often touted as a Progressive election candidate. And at a PPU meeting 6mths after that he reckoned that a Country party that was not prepared to support a Labour Government in return for concessions, was practically a Nationalist party.... Dr Page had tied himself to the Nationalists, and now Mr Bruce could snap his fingers at the farmers. Dr Goldsmid strongly advised all dairy farmers to take notice, at the ballot box, that the Country party, by entering into a pact, had tied themselves hand and foot to the Nationalists, and had thus defeated the purpose for which they had been sent into parliament by the producers. Nevertheless, he worked with his fellow medico on the executive of the 'Northern New State Movement' (the movement is not dead and the Royal Commission report is only a temporary setback...), following his appearance before the commission in mid 1924 when Judge Cohen tied him in knots on how the new state could work financially.)

[In May 1923 Mr Davies resigned from the Star and the editorial pen passed to Mr J.A. Irvine of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, who wielded the quill until March 1925 when he resigned in favour of Mr C.H. Peek, an earlier reporter and sub-editor, described as a man of retiring nature but kindly disposed towards all. He reigned until May 1933 when ill health forced retirement, stating in his farewell speech that In following his calling he had never allowed personal views to obtrude. The director’s chair passed to his associate editor and member of the ‘literary staff’, Englishman Mr W.T. Care, who had an obsession with Royalty, taking the unprecedented step of chartering an aircraft in late 1934 to get pictures of the Sydney arrival of the Duke of Gloucester. (Care had been pointed towards Northern NSW as a safer place to practice journalism by Tarlinton of the Tweed Daily whom he met during WW1. Both died in 1942.) In 1926 Mr Hewitt became seriously ill and retired from active duties, as well as interest in politics and other phases of public life, and subsequently fell into financial difficulties.]

1925 NSW

In mid 1925 the State elections came around again and while the Star fired its usual broadside at the pinko Laborites it sat on the fence in choosing which conservative bunch to run with, although mentioning that the Nationalist-Progressive coalition had become a corrupted Nationalist party through 'piebald politics', provoking a strenuous denial from Perdriau.) And the farmers were angry again over lack of consistency in butter returns, market forces having already caused many to desert the game and drift elsewhere, while commercial interests in Lismore were getting a little concerned on where things were heading after the railway superintendent's office was downgraded and there was talk of removing the workshops and transferring a further 90 employees. Coincidentally, the Board of Trade was sitting in town to take evidence on fair rents of workers’ cottages, which disclosed that over the period 1921-24 rents had been static (the average 4 room cottage without a bathroom costing 12/- per week), but since the beginning of the year had started to fall, with many landlords putting their houses on the market and finding no willing buyers. One real estate agent stated he had sold no houses for 18mths. (Building activity in Lismore had peaked in 1922 with Development Applications to the value of £109,430 approved, falling to a low of £42,312 in 1925. Due to some big ticket items like the new Norco factory and Woodlawn College, a new record of £126,831 was set in 1930, but dropped dramatically to £47,982 the following year.)

Dr Page ignored these ominous economic rumbles when he came to town to endorse the ‘True Blue’ Progressive candidates, paying a glowing tribute to Mr Missingham and Mr F.W. Stuart. But his advocacy of a voluntary Commonwealth-wide butter stabilization scheme involving levies and bounties, aka the ‘Paterson Scheme’, apparently didn’t appeal to the co-operative butter companies, which allegedly backed Labor’s State proposal to pay an advance, pool and store the stuff and release it in low production periods. Mr Lang cunningly threw this in two days out from polling day, giving nobody a chance to debate it. Mr Crowther, District Organising Secretary of the Progressive Party and President of the Lismore Branch of the Primary Producer’s Union, managed to get a letter published next day about the companies' stance, but couldn’t categorically deny it: I sincerely hope that the dairymen will not be sidestepped into the belief that this sop, and what I regard as a shrewd misrepresentation of the co-operative leaders, will not be taken seriously, or other than a political vote catching move….

[After the election a meeting of the Lismore branch of the Progressive party instructed the secretary to write to the Richmond District Council of the Primary Producer’s Union, and to the boards of directors of the three companies, asking for an explanation of the statements alleged to have been made by these three leaders of the co-operative dairying industry (ie Norco, Berrima Co, and Coastal Farmers.) But a strange silence reigned, at least publicly, and 6mths later the County Party’s voluntary butter stabilization scheme was put in place, just after Berrima and Coastal Farmers merged to form the Producers Distribution Society because of Norco's withdrawal from the co-operative selling floor. (By 1928, when they were still tinkering with the thing to control competition between States, still trying to find a satisfactory equalization mix between domestic/export quantities and prices, and still trying to sign up recalcitrant farmers/factories, the NSW agricultural bureaucrats had branded the plan ‘Paterson’s Curse’ …The scheme has gone astray – may it be lost forever. Earlier, some perplexed farmers had dubbed the convoluted scheme ‘Paterson’s Puzzle.’ But Norco and Countrioid theologists continued to preach unpoliceable voluntarianism, insisting that the farmers should have control of their own product rather than be dictated to by Government Departments staffed by non-dairy bureaucrats. The general manager of PDS, the exceptional Mr Meares, who was initially dubious about the scheme, eventually accepted the fait accompli and is credited with getting it in some form of financial working order, while Mr Crowther later lost his faith and went into Labour.)]

This election got more entertaining, with White Australia along with Sectarianism also to the fore (The Catholic Federation framed the policy, the priests expounded it, and the Labour Party put it into execution. …Our education system has been the object of more Roman abuse than that of any other two State systems put together.) But the Micks refused to be assimilated and the Proddies eventually accepted integration in lieu (although it took until the 1980s before a secular truce was called). As for the dagoes, in the Lismore district the Star, while reporting and editorialising on a few alien shortcomings, never reached the paranoia of the Tweed-Brunswick papers. Nor did the district's political agitators make a rallying call for the formation of a defence force similar to the 'Tweed Anti-Foreign League'. Nevertheless, whilst these other issues were enjoyable distractions, as in past elections all candidates knew that the main game was keeping the farmers laughing.
(See under 'Undesirable Aliens' at http://freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~aliens/chapter_1.htm for the Tweedies' dago debate.)

Again with a lorry-load of cash, Mr Oakes, District President of the Protestant Federation, and Pastor P.J. Pond, District Master of the Loyal Orange Lodge, weighed-in heavily with half-page adverts and addresses all round the region over the Vaticanisation of the Labor Party… and endorsed Anglican Perdriau (Progressive Coalition), Methodist Missingham (True Blue Progressive) and Major C.A. Munro ('Coalitionist'). Philip Pond, wearing his second hat as Secretary of the North Coast Temperance Council, separately endorsed, in order,  Major Munro, Presbyterian Stuart (True Blue Prog), Perdriau, Missingham and Lieutenant J.K. Williams (True Blue Prog). Major Munro, who opened the Diggers Cafe in 1919 and is probably connected to the Munro who had opened Lismore’s first Temperance Café in 1901, was also endorsed by the RSL. Other ‘returned soldier’ letter writers supported Lt Williams, one saying on the day before the poll that Mr Missingham, unknown to Messrs Stuart and Williams, signed the Protestant Federation platform. Apparently the three candidates agreed not to seek a sectarian vote by not seeking endorsement of a sectarian organisation… but behind the backs of the other two candidates Mr Missingham did obtain the Protestant Federation endorsement. The humour lies in the fact that Mr Stuart is indignant that his colleague should resort to such tactics when as a matter of fact I have knowledge of a circular being issued by the Orange Lodge advising its members to solidly support Mr Stuart with their number 1 votes, and while Mr Stuart may or may not have been responsible for underground engineering in order to get the endorsement the fact remains that he did not refuse it…. Perdriau was also subject to a hoax pamphlet campaign declaring he didn't back the proddie platform.

But the fun and games were all too late for anybody to correct/confirm/comment/whatever, although ‘The LOL and Protestant Federation’ managed to get a last-minute letter published lamenting the charge of political trickery and saying we particularly regret to learn that… Mr Stuart…, a branch president of the Protestant Federation… had entered into a pact with a political party which would ignore the federation’s requirements… Notwithstanding the possibility of censoring, the Catholics were again strangely quiet, and this time around the Star didn’t find sectarianism regrettable.

The National-Progressive Coalition handed out a card with Perdriau at number 1, Munro 2, Fayle 3, Missingham (Prog) 4, Stuart (Prog) 5, Williams (Prog) 6, and Foyster (Prog) 7. The Independent Progressives put Missingham 1st, Williams 2nd, Stuart 3rd, Foyster 4th, Perdriau 5th, Munro 6th, Fayle 7th, and emphasizing that Perdriau, Munroe and Fayle were 'Nationalists' and that there was no such thing as a 'Coalition'. (But despite the party preferences everyone punched out their own cards and post election the Star, in commenting on the unworkability of proportional representation, said One need not go further than the Byron electorate for an example. The "How to Vote" cards distributed throughout the electorate and advertisements in the newspapers represented a split as to the order of preference within the particular party's own ranks.) Chameleon Nesbitt, a staunch member of the Protestant Federation who had switched to the Progressives, didn’t nominate and no Nationalist Coalition candidate stood in his place, although Munro and Fayle were never too clear on which side of the 'coalition' they leaned. Nevertheless, the 'Nationalists' were routed and Monro and Fayle came in behind Mr Informal, along with Foyster (a farmer of Mooball claiming to be 'True Blue' Progressive but mainly campaigning as 'New State Party') and Hollis-Neath (a Catholic Laborite of Mullumbimby.)

[Earlier in the year adaptable Nesbitt appeared on stage in Lismore with Col Bruxner and formally announced his switch to the Progressives, stating he had not changed his coat, but merely had it cleaned.... He was recruited into the Country Party and got himself appointed to the Legislative Council in 1927. He offered to stand aside, or was tapped on the shoulder, for the 3rd Upper House ballot in late 1933 to make way for the PPU president, Max Dunlop, who at that time was vital to the dairy industry in framing the new butter marketing Act following the collapse of the Paterson Scheme. In any event they were both re-elected. (The referendum of May33, at which the punters had to decide whether they wanted to continue the practice of the Government appointing members to the Legislative Council or a new system of a max of 60 members, one third of whom were elected every 3yrs by members of both houses, saw the country electorates carry the day.)]

Out of a field of ten the punters figured Missingham (‘True Blue’ Progressive with 32% of the primary vote and easily making the quota) should be given another run, assisted by Gillies (another local Laborite for a change, winning 18% primary and elected on the eighth count), and Stuart (‘True Blue’ with 11% primary and elected on the final count after pipping Perdriau, who out-polled him in the primary but failed to win over enough of Nesbitt's old Nationalist followers). Missingham easily won Lismore (except the labor strongholds of North and South Lismore), while Stuart dominated around Murbah and Gillies at Casino. (At the declaration of the poll Anglican Gillies, President of the Tweed Shire and the son-in-law of Cudgera McKeever, mentioned how it was brought home to me in the campaign what I owed to the establishment of an honourable name by my late father..., Scotsman Dougald Gillies who founded the North Coast Anti-Alien Society with Anglican Thomas Temperley, proprietor of the Richmond River Times at Ballina. He also acknowledged the support from his Presbyterian brother, William Neal, the Labor Premier of Queensland, who, as a Tintenbar dairy farmer, had run against both Massy Greene and Honest John in 1910.)

Also appearing for Labour was Comrade Swiney, a Lang Mate, attempting a comeback and splitting local Labour into two camps. (John Steel also sort Labour endorsement for this election, but along with Gillies was rejected by the 'Central Executive' on the grounds he didn't have 3yrs continuous membership of the ALP. He gave up, but the local Labour supporters were more persistent in pressing Gillies' credentials.) At the opening of the campaign Gillies was nowhere to be seen when Swiney appeared with Comrade Lang and other Labor mavericks on the Casino stage, where Gillies subsequently dominated by a long shot. Swiney trounced Gillies at Grafton (where Williams, a storekeeper of Coraki, won for the Progressives), and out-polled him in a lot of the Brunswick booths (including Mullum where he almost matched Missingham), but Gillies comfortably beat him in most of the 194 booths (including Lismore and Sth Lismore but with Nth Lismore a tie), all implying that the region's Laborites were a moderate mob, a lesson forgotten by the local Labor branches during the Depression (although the Brunswick district Labor punters remained Lang-biased.) 

Labor scored 45 seats, the Nationalists 32 and Progressives 10, and Labor formed a two-seat majority government under Premier Jack Lang after the Independents sorted themselves out. Under the leadership of Colonel Bruxner the ‘True Blue’ Progressives came out of the closet and rebranded themselves, finally taking their seats as the Country Party, with Methodist Missingham as Deputy Leader. (Anglican Bruxner handed over to Anglican Buttenshaw, a wheat grower, in late 1925, but got the gig back in early 1932.)

In an odd act of self-promotion, the Northern Star, on the day of declaration of the poll, prominently reported how it was hosted to a giant knees-up at the Richmond Hotel by ‘executive officers of various public bodies’. Mayor Brewster proposed a toast, saying that the town was fortunate in having at the head of its newspaper a gentleman such as Mr Peek, who had resided there for a long time, and was held in high esteem, and who had always presented an unbiased view of public affairs through the medium of the newspaper. While anyone engaging in public life must expect criticism, still this was not resented as long as it was fair and clean. It was essential to the well-being of the community that the actions of men in public positions should be criticised, and any person endeavouring to give the community of his or her best did not fear criticism. The newspaper represented by Mr Peek had adopted a fair attitude, and he knew that in his hands no bias or unfairness would occur….
The President of the Chamber of Commerce (Mr A.T. Stratford) said …he was sure that now Mr Peek was editor that it (the Chamber) would receive even more consideration. He desired to congratulate him on his appointment to the editorial chair of the leading paper in the State outside of Sydney….
Mr Peek, in responding, said that he would indeed be a person possessed of a poor soul if his emotions had not been stirred by the unexpected tributes. … He was pleased to be back in daily journalism in Lismore after an absence of two years and to meet the men who were guiding the destinies of the fine city.
(He joined the Star as a reporter in 1913.) He presumed that the present function was in the way a tribute to the ‘Northern Star’ which he represented and which he was proud to be associated with. He had always held the view that the destiny of a district was reflected in the paper issuing from the district. It was his wish, and he knew it was also the wish of the directors of the ‘Star’ that every worthy aspiration of the people should receive a full measure of publicity, and it was desired that this fact be generally known….
[Perhaps Mr Peek and the directors (who were part of the ruling clique at The Lismore Club, which ran Lismore say the conspiracy theorists) were trying to reassure everyone that the new kids on the block were returning the Star to a 'fair go to all' platform. After the loss of the restraining hand of Hewitt Snr in late 1915 it became a touch hysteric as a mouthpiece for righteous conservatives, although it had started turning odd in 1911 after Hewitt Snr handed over editorial control to Robert Browne. Post war, while maintaining the rage over 'slacking and shirking eligibles' and other hobby horses (the teaching of 'patriotism' in schools), it gradually sobered up, although retaining the heavy conservative bias.)]

1925 Federal

In late 1925 came another Federal election and, much to the delight of the Star, compulsory voting. (But, curiously, it was opposed to Premier Lang’s proposal for similar State and Council compulsion. All Richmond Local Government Councils also opposed it on the grounds that it diluted the voting rights of property owners.) The mob had an interesting choice between Major J.B. Greene MC for the Nationalists (and brother of Senator Massy Greene), Lieutenants Roland Green and John Keith Williams for the Country Party, and the non-commissioned Laborite, Mr Harry Green, new owner of the Freemasons' (Canberra) Hotel in Molesworth Street. (The selected Labour candidate, Roy Whalan, the leading organiser of the 'Tweed Anti-Foreign League', had withdrawn in favour of Harry Green after the mid year reformation of the 'Lismore Labour Committee', which declared it was unaligned to the ALP and will not preach the doctrine of communism.) But the Star again rained fire and brimstone upon the head of the Labor communist, and on the conservative front came out in favour of the Country Party, and this time always qualifying each editorial broadside with: Written to express the views of the ‘Northern Star’ by C.H. Peek (but never again in any subsequent election).

Dagoes and White Australia were still issues, but once again satisfying the farmers and the dairy industry was the priority in every candidate’s pitch, although Publican Green, an advocate for Massy Greene's dairy industry proposals, was diverted by the Temperance crowd. (It seems Presbyterian Dr Robert Arthur MLA, founder and president of the Immigration League of Australia and member of the Australian Protestant Defence Association, was invited to town by Pastor Pond to address the Temperants, but he took time out to endorse Major Greene, stating A reason why you should vote for the Bruce-Page Government is your natural patriotic desire to keep Australia a white nation for your children and your children's children....)

Massy Greene opened the electioneering for his brother, now a Tamworth resident, by calling for peace between the anti-Labor forces. …It was the urgent request of people in all parts of the electorate that he and his brother should do all in their power to sweep away the differences among the anti-Labour forces, and bring them together in one anti-Labour party as they used to be. And on Senate voting: The truth, added Senator Greene, was sometimes unpalatable, but he was going to tell them. The Richmond electorate was to blame for it all. The Government very nearly won three seats in the Senate last time, but they won only one. Instead of Richmond voting 52 or 53 per cent, as it did, had it voted in the full strength it was able to put up against Labour this one electorate could have changed the whole situation in the Senate. Were they going to let it happen this time? Voices: No!.... There were 5 Senate seats to be filled and 10 candidates nominated (1 Country, 4 National and 5 Labor.)

Two weeks out from the election the Sydney-based 'central executive' of the Country Party brought pressure to bear on Williams to stand aside. Williams, who advocated a compulsory Paterson, was endorsed by the Lismore branch of the Country Party and refused to back down, supported in his stance by the Star, prompting Roland Green to retort … Your leader (the Star’s editorial) advocates the claims of Mr Williams because he is a ‘local candidate’. Although I was born and lived in this electorate (born 1885 Emmaville and lived Unumgar, Kyogle district, pre WW1 for a short period) I have not put forward the claim of being a ‘local candidate’ as to do so would, in my opinion, be degrading the national Parliament of Australia to the level of parish pump politics. …. In this campaign the lying tongue of slander has already been heard, but I confidently believe that every right-thinking elector will treat with contempt this despicable attempt to bring personalities into politics…. And denied he had anything to do with the decision by the ‘central executive', which also turned off the flow of campaign funds to Williams.

Mr Stuart MLA thought that …By the way they were dragging the contest in the gutter they would probably lose the seat. The tactics which brought the Nationalist Party to the ground were the same as were now being used. According to the argument of some people, once a man was returned to Parliament no one had a right to oppose him. An indelible stain had been cast on the electorate by the casting out of Mr Massy Greene, one of the best men that ever entered the house. He was relegated to the dirt by the sinister motive of a certain crowd…. Mr Stuart contended that the electors of Richmond… would support and return Mr Williams.... Mr Missingham MLA also mentioned the Central Executive's 'error of judgement', but wouldn't be drawn beyond that, preferring to keep a low profile throughout the election. (At the next State election, Oct1927, White Australia Stuart was disendorsed and stood as Independent Country Party, narrowly losing to the endorsed whiter Mayor of Murbah.)

And Dr Page obfuscated, implying preference for Green without condemning Williams, while changing the subject to the Labor communists and devious Nationalists whenever the question got too tricky: ...Dr Page regretted that the inter-party contest in Richmond, which had been made more or less personal by the choice of Major J.B. Greene as the Nationalist candidate, would tend to obscure the main issue. He was sure the personal issue which had arisen between the Country party candidates was the result of mutual misunderstanding between the central executive and Mr J.K. Williams…, and maintaining that the Greenes had broken a coalition pact because when Mr Massy Greene had been placed in the Senate list and had decided to run on the combined Nationalist-Country party ticket for the Senate, ...he agreed that no other Nationalist candidate should run for Richmond. Despite the wishes of the leaders, an inter-party contest is taking place here which has been made more or less personal by the fact that Mr Massy Greene’s brother has been chosen as the Nationalist candidate. I, myself, have been striving to prevent any local irritation which might come from this fact from acting adversely in the voting for the Senate, because it is absolutely essential, if this menace of communism….

The question of who was to get first preference remained contentious, but on the day before the election the Star defied Dr Page and came our in favour of Lieutenant Williams on the ground of a greater knowledge of the requirements of the electorate, and that he is a local man in the fullest sense of the term. And left the matter of whether Greene or Country Green should get number 2 or 3 spot to the electors, as long as they gave Comrade Green number 4.

After all the brow-beating the punters gave Country Green 30.9% of the primary vote, Labor Green 29.6%, Country Williams 18.5%, Nationalist Greene 18.2% and Mr Informal 2.8%. Although Williams won a greater flow of Nationalist Greene's preferences than Country Green, it wasn't sufficient for him to remain in the race, Country Green finally beating Labor Green by 13,114 votes (67.7%). Despite a decade-long campaign by the Star, Norco and a clique of Lismore Countrioids to unseat him, the punters continued to give Roland Green the nod until undermined by Larry Anthony in 1937.

But regardless of the candidate, the Star had now irrevocably committed itself to the Country Party, leaving itself no manoeuvring room during the Depression years when there was dissention in the conservative ranks and a desire by many to return to the Nationalist/Liberal fold. Nevertheless, the coalition pact was enforced, giving the Country party a free run in Richmond ever since, and rural socialism ruled over market forces. (And it's an odd phenomenon that the Country Party was able to grasp the mores of  isolated farming communities living lives on a co-operative basis, including meat pools and the like, while the socialists and Liberals/Nationalists couldn't. The typical self-employed farmer, whether owner/operator, tenant/lessee or sharefarmer, worked his family to death in preference to exploitable farm hands on non-award wages. Englishman Massy-Greene, a supporter of trade unionism and profit sharing, described 'Co-operation' as 'sane socialism', perhaps shooting himself in the foot.)

As for Englishman Comrade Green, the Star prudently toned down its 'communist' scaremongering when there was a possibility of an upset election after initial counting had Labor way out in front on primary votes: ...the candidate does not seem to be a 'red flag' exponent, and many people therefore gave him a vote on personality.... It seems Harry, a classic Australian hybrid who married a Catholic Irish lass in Brisbane after a Jewish upbringing in London (to where his Dutch parents had migrated), withdrew from politics after factional infighting again broke out in the Lismore Labor branch. Infighting had been a hallmark of the local branch since the year dot, and failure to agree on anything probably accounts for their non-appearance at the next two federal elections, after which the the 'Lang' faction gained the ascendancy and they continued at the back of the race.

In the Senate race Country Abbott pulled almost twice the number of votes locally as Nationalist Greene. [Colonel Abbott, lawyer and ex-Mayor of Glen Innes, had served as a Liberal/Nationalist MHR with Massy Greene 1913-19. He won the Senate primary vote in Richmond for the Country Party in 1922, taking the game from Nationalist Senator Millen by just over a 1000 votes (although the total vote of the 3 Nationalist candidates exceeded that of the 3 Countrites). But he wasn't popular enough State-wide and missed out on a seat until this time around. Greene was appointed to the Senate in Oct1923 upon Millen's death. He bombed out at this election but was reappointed in 1926 and continued to serve as a Senator until retiring in 1938, having played a vital role in navigating the country through the Depression. He remained a patron of the prestigious Lismore A & I Society (along with Green, Nesbitt and Missingham) into the 1930s.] In the Reps, nationally  the Nationalists romped home, gaining 11 seats to 37 (inclusive of 5 Victorian Liberals who joined the fold), the Country Party remaining static with 14 seats and Labor losing 6 to sit on 24. And despite compulsory voting, only 88% of the Richmond eligibles fronted.

Immediately following this poll came the Local Government Elections and a healthy 27 people nominated, including Walter Gray of the Elite Café, for 12 positions on the Lismore Council. Auctioneer M.S. Gray, Secretary of the Lismore Citizens and Ratepayers Reform Association, punched out a how-to-vote card excluding ex-Mayor Charles McKenzie. Mr J.S. Churchyard, secretary of the Lismore Electors and Ratepayers Association, punched out a different ticket including McKenzie and his earlier council. And the left-leaning South and North Lismore Associations endorsed a combination, but excluding Presbyterian McKenzie (and probably favouring Presbyterian Mayor Brewster on the grounds that he was a sympathetic ex-railway man.) It was all about roads, footpaths, neglect and development. The vote by 55% of the eligible voters saw 7 Aldermen lose their seats, including Mayor Brewster (whose daughter married Dr Page's brother), and amongst the new faces was his nemesis McKenzie. While Methodist Alderman George Stratford polled the most votes Scotsman Dr Kellas was elected Mayor. In late 1928 the future Alderman, Country Party MLC, Chairman of Northern Star Limited, owner of a Bexhill dairy farm and half of Lismore, Presbyterian Lawyer J.C. McIntosh Jnr, was President of the Ratepayers and Citizens Association and managed to get the North and South Lismore associations on side to endorse a common ticket for the elections, at which McKenzie was re-elected and voted in as Mayor for his third consecutive year, and making it the eleventh time he had filled the position. 48.8% of interested eligible voters fronted to do their duty. Ald McKenzie initially tried retirement in 1930 after 22yrs community service, and 765 of the 3476 eligible voters fronted at the by-election to select his replacement.

1928 Federal

This election of late 1928 was a non-event in Richmond, Country Green being returned to Canberra unopposed, with not even a grumpy Independent Laborite prepared to make a token effort. And no Laborite bothered to visit the electorate to guide the punters to the ballot box to lodge their Senate selection. The Star reckoned Labour passed by an important area of the State. The would-be Labour senators do not want the votes of the people of the north, or they recognize that their fight is a forlorn one. Plus there were 4 referendum questions, all to do with the Commonwealth taking over States’ debts, even though it was a laid-down misere with the State Governments already having accepted the financial arrangements. They also restricted the right of each State to borrow for its own development without approval from a Loan Council, a restriction that subsequently got Premier Lang of NSW in a spot of bother.

Nationally the Bruce-Page Government was returned, despite the Nationalists losing 8 seats to sit on 29, the Country Party losing 1 to a 'Country Progressive' to sit on 13 and the Labor Party gaining 8 to now perch on 32. The coalition continued to dominate the Senate.

[The number of electors on the Richmond roll had slipped, from 43,121 registered to vote in 1925 to 42,726 for this election (-0.9%), with no boundary changes/redistribution, marking the first population loss in Richmond's history apart from the 'enlistee' dip of WW1. (But see alternate figures on the number of disappearing punters at http://freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~aliens/electoral_statistics.htm .) The drift was still on-going by the time of the late 1929 Federal election when 42,512 were registered, an overall slump of 1.4% in 4yrs despite an influx of railway navvies, all perhaps implying on-going turbulence in the dairy industry along with the collapse of the banana industry. There was a big turnaround by the next Federal election of late 1931, a jump of 8.4% to 46,089 registered voters, and still with no redistribution, although there had been an internal rearrangement of subdivisions and perhaps something odd happened. More likely it implies that farmers were being enticed back to the milking shed and/or many people were abandoning the industrial belt to find work in the countryside.]

1927 NSW

Single seat electorates were reintroduced for the late 1927 State selection and Lismore again became master of its own destiny. It was a two-horse race and Country Missingham romped home with 73% of the vote, sending Comrade Boyd scurrying back to Sydney. Why Labor again chose to pre-select one of its Sydney apparatchiks in preference to a local commie is a great mystery, but the South Lismore branch of the ALP had stated in mid 1927 that it was the only league functioning in the electorate and issued a statement to-day in defence of Mr Gillies, declaring that the league was not in any way allied to the Seale-Lang-Willis faction. (Distressed Gillies was running around Byron declaring he had been expelled by the extremist element in the Labour Party because he would not concede the Premier the rights of a dictator..., after initially signaling his intention to contest Lismore.) As usual the only booths Langite Boyd won in the whole electorate were in North and South Lismore, but who helped him organise is a mystery.

During the campaign prominence was given to the proceedings of the Conciliation Committee, sitting in Lismore to hear the AWU's argument for a dairy workers' award of £3/19/6 for 48hr week. Stephen Perdriau, now a dairy farmer of Kyogle and secretary of the PPU, was one of the witnesses arguing against the award, stating At present it was only possible to carry on dairying through the labour of wives and children.... One of the many Country Party promises to farmers was an undertaking for removal of rural workers from the machinations of the Arbitration Act (and hence no minimum basic wage), as well as advances up to ninety per cent to be made available for building country homes…and the usual roads and rail lines, water and sewerage schemes, schools, hydro power,…, but very little mention of butter apart from:
praising the benefits of the Paterson Scheme
confusing assertions by both Labor and Country as to whether Mr W.H. Clifford, General Manager of Norco, did or did not support Premier Lang's butter marketing proposals;
and agitation by Catholic Laborite James David Condon, President of the Mullumbimby Branch of the PPU, to break from the PPU and form (or reform) the Dairy Farmers' Union
. (Condon, son of Southern NSW newspaper proprietor Michael John, had been politically blooded during Mullum's WW1 referendums, needing police protection whilst rallying the anti-conscriptionist vote, at which time he was also President of the Richmond-Tweed Tenant Farmers Union and battling generous landlords.)

[The Condons were political heirs to Catholic Laborite Robert Campbell of Bangalow, one of the leading agitators for the formation of the Dairy Farmers Union during the election of 1901 when concern that the 'capitalist' proprietary dairy companies were threatening the co-operative movement in their advocacy of compulsory pasteurisation. Credit for initiating the local co-operative movement is given to Catholic James Garvan of Bangalow, defeated in the Tweed election of 1894 by Catholic Joseph Kelly of Tyagarah, the foundation chairman of Norco. The Condons got the rival Dairy Farmers' Society, opposed to the Paterson scheme, off the ground, with J.D.'s brother, W.P. Condon, a later staunch DLP man, as outspoken secretary. In 1932 it was hijacked as the vehicle for the Nationalists to re-launch an assault on the region. (And in 1936 when Norco further suborned the independence of the PPU by subsidising its running costs at the rate of 15/- for each of the 4200 suppliers, W.W. Condon of Myocum objected because the scheme meant the conscription of suppliers into the Union.... The Condons were also leading lights in the Mullumbimby branch of the Australian Hibernian Catholic Guild, a meeting of which was held in Jan24 and addressed by Bishop Carroll, who indulged in a bit of politicking and scathingly denounced the present State Government... leaders of both National and Progressive Parties had turned their backs on fair play.... He regarded the Labour Party as one of Australia's greatest achievements against the entrenched strength of Capitalism...., but modifying his stance somewhat after the ALP pledged itself to secular education.)]

In Byron it was a four-horse race, Endorsed Country Budd (35.8% Primary) unseating Independent Country Stuart (36.3%) by a short head after preferences from Comrades Gilles (Independent Labor) and Graham (Endorsed Labor, Sydney resident and Lang fan). Upon resignation/ejection from the Labor Party Gillies said he had been approached to stand for the Country Party, which he subsequently did, but at this stage felt it necessary to say he could see no distinction between that body and the Nationalists.... In any case, Byron was deemed to be an exception to the Country Party ‘endorsement rule’. The Central Executive instructed the Byron Electorate Council to select one candidate because the executive some time ago entered into an agreement with the Nationalist Association that certain constituencies, of which Byron was one, should be regarded as Country Party seats…. a condition of the pact entered into was that each party was to minimise this danger (of Labor getting in) by endorsing one candidate only in each constituency… the running of two anti-Labour candidates, one Country Party, and one Nationalist, would greatly endanger the seat…, implying sitting member Stuart was a closet Nationalist. The secretary, Presbyterian Larry Anthony, a banana grower of Crystal Creek, complied with the instructions and summoned 65 delegates from all over the electorate to meet at Mullumbimby, where they gave the nod to the Mayor of Murbah, Anglican Budd, the future grandfather-in-law of Doug Anthony MHR. Presbyterian Stuart reminded them all that the Country Party had a constitution and a platform, and foremost in that platform is NO pre-selection. Today that had been violated.... Mr Buttenshaw, leader of the parliamentary Country Party, backed Stuart, but the Tweed Daily, a Budd fan, just managed to sway enough readers to the central executive's view. (The campaigning got very entertaining - when Stuart was spruiking at Murbah a few dissenters tried to join him on the back of his lorry and a fracas occurred, lasting several minutes.... Mr Stuart returned to the platform and commenced to attack Mr H.L. Anthony (who was interjecting from the audience) ...Mr Stuart ordered his arrest, and wild disorder again prevailed....)

[At an earlier mid year meeting at the Empire Theatre in Mullum 74 delegates from 54 Byron branches endorsed Stuart, Budd and Williams, despite the arguments of Mr McArthur, the Central Executive rep, for one candidate. This meeting was decidedly lively at times, but swayed by the Murbah  branch rep, Stainlay of the Daily, that the constitution of the Country Party was against pre-selection.... The Central Executive had a bigger set of dangly bits and convinced the irresolute Byronians (and adaptable Stainlay) to keep meeting until they got it right, but couldn't stare down Buttenshaw who admonished the Tweed Daily for its treatment of Stuart. (And following the pre-selection bungle which threatened to split the party in 1934 resolute Mr Anthony confirmed that 'no pre-selection is a cardinal plank of Country Party policy.')

Part owner and editor of the Tweed Daily 1921-23 was Budd's son, Harry Vincent (later Sir Harry), a Country Party MLC 1946-79, who, at the 1922 upset election, performed a nice balancing act in heavily endorsing Massy Greene while condemning the Nationalists (and advocating a Country vote for the Senate.) The Tweed Newspaper Co Pty Ltd was formed in 1913, 75% owned by Catholic Phil Tarlinton and 25% by Anglican George H. Stainlay, but in 1926 Tarlinton sold a swag of shares and the register greatly expanded, although he and the Stainlay family retained a controlling stake. (The sale apparently took place just after the Sep26 referendum at which the Bruce-Page proposals for 'Essential Services' and 'Industry and Commerce' Bills were defeated, despite strong Yes votes from the Tweedies, said returning officer A.E. Budd. While Tarlinton was busy advocating Yes votes from the editor's chair, managing director Stainlay, secretary of the 'Tweed Yes League', appeared with Dr Page and Mr Stuart on stages all over the place.) Tarlinton/Tarlington sold his remaining shares in 1928, at which time G.A. Stainlay was managing director and, along with the Budd family, one of his new shareholders was Farmer Pratt of Tygalgah, later chairman of the board, president of the Murbah branch of the Country Party, a director of Norco and president of the Tweed District Council of the PPU. Another was Jack Price MC of Coorool, who became Managing Editor in 1933 and elected Chairman of Country Press Ltd in 1939. Earlier, from at least 1925, he was secretary of the Tweed's Central District Council of the Progressive Party, and by 1936 a Norco shareholder when he proposed the co-op subsidise membership of the PPU. (Downstream Darcy Stainlay and Arthur Aubrey Budd became directors of Northern Star Holdings upon their company finally becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Star group in 1970.)

As for the popular Mr Stuart, in the turmoil of the late 1931 Federal election his loyal followers tried to rush him to the starting gates as a United Country Party candidate to run against Green MHR, but it was too late to register. He continued to stand for Byron as an Independent at each State election through to 1944. The Countrioid recruiters were more successful with Comrade Gillies who converted to Countraianism after a fling with the fascist All for Australia League. He became secretary and paid proselytiser for the Lismore branch of the UCP and a vice president of the Richmond Electoral Council along with Mr Anthony.]

There was no Labor candidate in Clarence, but similar machinations saw a race between two same-sex horses; Endorsed Country Pollack winning 59% to take the ribbon from Independent Country Zuill, giving the commies of Casino no option but to be corralled into the Country fold until the separate electorate of Casino was formed in 1930. [Presbyterian Lawyer Pollack died 1931 and his seat passed to Methodist Lawyer Henry who died 1938 and his seat passed to Presbyterian Storekeeper Wingfield who sat on it until his death in 1955. In the 12 elections between 1917 and 1953 Labor contested only once (1930). Post 1953 the lefties made an intermittent appearance until Clarrie finally fell for Labor in 1981 upon Casino being reunited with Clarence and Don Day, a Maclean resident and sitting member for Casino, carried the day. (And by the bye, in 1976 Day MLA had won Casino with the endorsement of Norco and the support of dairy farmers, becoming Minister for Agriculture in the new one-seat majority Labor government and temporarily propping up the North Coast dairy industry by opening up the Sydney milk market to local producers, something the Country Party had never been able to do. Faithless Clarence returned to the rebranded Countrioids in 1984 as the pace of the region's fleeing farmers again picked up.)]

Premier Lang and the Bolsheviks were routed and the coalition under Mr Bavin took command, but no North Coast Country members, or any Country member from a dairy electorate anywhere, made it to cabinet.

More important for the regional economy than the election was the referendum of Oct28 when the dairy farmers finally got to vote on whether they should come under the compulsory pooling of the Lang 'Marketing of Primary Products Act', as slightly amended by the new conservative coalition. This sales job involved far more electioneering and dirty tactics than the State election. The revered Mr Clifford of Norco rejected the Act and was in direct opposition to the great Mr Meares, his counterpart at PDS, who, in his sales pitch around the Northern NSW traps, said that eight years ago he had stood side by side with the late Mr C.J. McRae urging the dairymen to accept an Act by a Nimbin dairy farmer, Hon W. Massy Greene..., the rejection of which has cost dearly. Bill Missingham MLA walked a tightrope in supporting Norco, while not upsetting the PPU or his parliamentary colleagues. But Mr Thorby, Minister for Agriculture and Country Party member for Dubbo, got wind of his machinations: I wish to definitely deny that I at any time promised Mr Missingham or anyone else that a special Act would be framed to deal with butter if the present poll was defeated.... Budd, Pollack and all CP parliamentarians except Missingham had supported the amended Act, and while the leadership of the PPU initially had rejected the draft Bill because it excluded an 'equalisation clause', upon its pass in Parliament they were now advocates (except for most leaders locally - including Mr Crowther who declared that it was a Trades Hall bill, and was amazed that the Government and the PPU executive had fallen into the Labour Party's trap to socialise distribution and exchange.) And while there was certainly a deathly silence from A.E. Budd MLA during the campaign, A.A. Budd, a Director of the Tweed River Co-operative Butter Society, preached against accepting the Act, and on the day of publication of the poll results the Tweed Daily gave A.E. some manoeuvring room - 'They (A.E. and Missingham) were both strong opponents of the present Act in its relation to butter, contending, we believe rightly, that it was not suitable....'

Mr F.W. Stuart campaigned against Mr Missingham, as did Mr W.P. Condon of the DFS who reckoned that If a competition were arranged and prize awarded to the politician that could speak the longest and say the least, the Member for Richmond (sic) could be backed as a 'cert'.... There can be no question but that misconception is existing in the minds of many due to misrepresentations on the part of opponents of the 'Bill'. On this score the Member for Richmond has acquired the unenviable notoriety of being ring leader.... I am thoroughly convinced that the opponents of the 'Bill' have but little or no argument to address, and so far as Mr Missingham's circumlocutary effusions are concerned, venture to say that whilst sound might be mistaken for sense by some, intelligent persons are not impressed by the Member for Richmond.... and ...the Massy Greene Scheme, as pointed out, was turned down at the instigation of a body comprised chiefly of existing Executive and Directors of Norco Ltd. This was a case of 'the blind leading the blind'... and they blew it once so don't trust 'em agin'. (Also campaigning for the Act was Farmer Whipps of Alstonville who had been appointed to the committee formed in Aug28 to assist the PPU sell the thing to members. A year earlier he was acting secretary of the new 'North Coast Dairy Farmers Union' when he sought to have it formally registered as a union, but whether this is the same organisation as the Condon's subversive DFS is a head scratcher. He was also the leading figure in the formation of the Alstonville 'Dairymen's Union' in 1901, 4 days ahead of Campbell's 'Dairy Farmers' Union' at Bangalow.)

Norco, a shareholder in PDS, figured (wrongly according its critics) that it made the best quality product and could get a premium price by going its own way rather than pool its stuff with everyone else. Anglican Clifford didn't want control of the industry passing to an independent board and, besides, Norco's brand-new selling floor in Sydney, a six-storey edifice later named Clifford House, was almost complete. So all sides campaigned around the region for a month or so, but Norco had the most resources and got most of the publicity, sponsored the most adverts, sent circulars to the most producers (4000 of its captive suppliers received letters signed by Anglican Hayter, Chairman of the Board), as well as having Mr Missingham and the Northern Star on side.

In early Oct28 the farmers in 30 dairying districts throughout the State convincingly said Yes to the Marketing Act, voting 9314 to 6311, but because it wasn't a two thirds majority it lost by default. The big majorities agin' the Act in the dominant districts of Byron (1406 to 446) and Lismore (1479 to 641) won the day. Although there's more than a whiff of suspicion that Mr Missingham 'owed' Mr Hayter and Norco, a month later at the annual PPU picnic at Byron Bay, just after the death of Mr Clifford, Dr Page congratulated them all on a good decision, making it harder to get a handle on the confusing nature of contradictory Countriote core values. (The Clarence district, where Dr Page owned a dairy farm, voted 1052 to 284 to support the Act.) The Queensland dairy farmers, who already had much the same disciplined Act put in place by their Labor Minister for Agriculture, W.N. Gillies, back in 1922, continued to enjoy 2d/lb of butter more than their NSW counterparts, while 12mths later Mr Thorby was still trying to accommodate butter in amendments to the NSW Marketing Act. (Englishman William Clifford, an ex-school teacher, died at his home in Sydney 7Nov28, his death attributed to stress brought on by the campaign.)


1929 Federal

Eleven months after sending Country Green off to Canberra, the punters were asked to do it all over again when, in late 1929, six rebel coalition members voted with Labor to defeat legislation to abolish the federal arbitration system and transfer the Commonwealth's powers to the States, prompting Prime Minister Bruce to call a snap election. No Laborite bothered to stand in Richmond to take advantage of the situation and a dirty contest developed between Country Green, still a Sydney resident, and Country Gibson, Secretary of the Richmond District Council of the Primary Producers’ Union. The popular rumour was that Gibson, allegedly an Oxford educated economist, was encouraged to stand by Norco, but the company denied it, saying it was ‘non-political’ and implying that the insinuation was being circulated by Green. Nevertheless, Mr J.J. Hayter, chairman of Norco and vice-president of the Richmond Council of the PPU, heavily endorsed Gibson, but insisted he was speaking as ‘just plain Jack Hayter’ and not on behalf of the company or its 5000 shareholders.

Mr Bartlett, the 69yr old English-born President of the Richmond Council of the PPU, and Mr Grant, President of the NSW umbrella organisation of the PPUs, also endorsed Gibson, mainly on the grounds that Green had been asleep when the PPU was making its lengthy submission to the Tariff Board for a 6d/lb duty on New Zealand butter. (All that Mr Green had done could have been done by a 15-year-old boy, weighed-in Mr Hayter.)

And contradicting the arguments from the Country Party leaders on how the farmers’ lot had improved under their stewardship, and how the Paterson Scheme had restored confidence in the stability of the butter industry, the Gibson supporters at a rally in Lismore reckoned that The dairying industry has been in a backward state for many years and in Mr Gibson we have a man possessed of the requisite understanding to help bring the industry back to its former level of prosperity…. Here we are as dependent upon butter as the Newcastle district is upon coal, and if our main industry was suffering....

[Post election the great Spencer Cottee, a perennial critic of Norco, argued the main problem as the Paterson Scheme's artificially high domestic price of butter (the consumer subsidising the farmer), but was having little effect as the farmer was still working from 4am to 6pm and later, and at the end of the month earned 30s per week.... He advocated the reverse (drop the price and increase consumption), as well as diversification away from butter, but the Norco directorate always ridiculed his arguments and he never got re-elected to the board after the aberrations of 1902-09 and 1920-22. At the same time as Cottee's agitation for a product mix the local 'boutique' ice cream manufactures (amongst whom were the Greek cafes) were urging Norco to diversify into this sideline to satisfy the huge Sydney market, and undercut the mass-producing Sydney manufacturers increasingly undercutting their Lismore market. Other agitators were advocating the amalgamation of Norco and PDS.

The dairy industry was alleged to have stabilized, with the Paterson touted as one of the major incentives to rejoin the game, and 1929 did indeed mark a turnaround in dairy rewards, Norco delivering an average monthly butter cheque of 16.75d/lb, the best return to farmers in 6yrs. But whereas in 1929 60% of butter production was consumed domestically, by 1933 60% was being dumped on a glutted export market, overproduction occurring at the same time the Australian consumers were tightening their belts - at which time the powerful Kyogle PPU took up the ice cream diversification argument with Norco, urging the establishment of an ice cream factory to take the game from Peters, currently boasting that its Sydney factory was the largest in the British Empire and dominating the NSW market. But Norco stuck with butter.]

And the Star was right behind Gibson: Since the election campaign commenced Mr R.F.H. Green has seen fit to attack the Primary Producers Union (which had awarded the Star the contract to print its weekly newspaper, 'The Primary Producer'  - and the Star continued to have a vested interest in supporting the PPU until losing the contract in 1972, when that once mighty institution had to amalgamate with other dairy organisations.) ...According to Mr Green the Richmond has been very fortunate in its Parliamentary representative during the past seven years. According to men who know, the position is somewhat different. But, of course, Mr Green can see only through Mr Green’s eyes…. Evidently Mr Green had just come to life from his Rip Van Winkle sleep …
As for the attitude of the ‘Northern Star’, about which Mr Green has had so much to say, this journal has been quite consistent. In deciding to support the candidature of Mr Gibson there has been no sudden display of frenz
y for the Gibson cause. The ‘Star’ has never believed Mr Green to be the right man for the representation of the Richmond. Mr Green came here in the first instance in a rush, as it were, and having by the vaguaries of fate secured sufficient votes to elect him, has remained in office ever since. But he has not continued to represent the Richmond because of his qualifications, his interest in the welfare of the district’s industries, or his energy, but because a suitable man has not come forward. Mr Green was returned unopposed at the last elections. That was not because the people of the Richmond had been so enthralled with the wonders of his representation that they wanted him to continue. It was because there was no other candidate available at the time. There are any number of men in this electorate who could represent it to the greatest advantage, but it is not always convenient… When, however, a man thoroughly qualified in every way did appear on the political scene – and from within the district’s own border – the ‘Star’ had no hesitation in wholeheartedly supporting his candidature….
As for this being a personal contest, all campaigns are are more or less personal. Col. Bruxner, in his advocacy of Mr Green’s claims, stated that this was the first occasion he knew of where 'one of our own followers had tried to wrest a seat from a comrade.’ Col. Bruxner’s memory must be very short
l Bruxner:… I sincerely hope that there will be no animosity or bitterness in the campaign….
Green: Those who are backing Mr Gibson – the executive of the PPU – went to sleep on the job and let the farmers down until we were able to wake them up to the the butter duty. They are still asleep
Gibson: Green had neglected his electorate and seldom visited it. He is out of touch with the districts needs….

And on and on.

The Star deplored the personal element…. Every decent-minded man and woman in the Richmond electorate must view with disgust the tactics used to discredit Mr R.C. Gibson…. Green’s camp was accused of spreading anonymous circulars and slanderous rumours of the war record of a man who volunteered that ...is distasteful to the mindsof nice people like us. It all stopped when Gibson published an endorsement from General Sir John Monash. ...Following the exposure of the methods used to discredit Mr Gibson, …politics was not a very popular topic around Lismore. (The removal of Green was mostly a Lismore obsession. Over on the coast the Tweed Daily stayed quite and Budd MLA advised that he would not participate in the campaign, or address any meeting on behalf of any candidate, while at Casino Methodist Editor Beer of the Richmond River Express stayed strictly neutral.) And the temperance crowd didn’t like Green because he was agin’ prohibition. White Australia also got a run, with each claiming to be whiter than the other. 

[And of all things, the ‘Amusement Tax’ became a significant diversionary election issue. Col Bruxner reckoned While Messrs Bruce and Page were trying to sing ‘Advance Australia Fair’ to good Australian music they had Hughes, Marks and Theodore endeavouring to drown their voices to the tune of a Wurlitzer organ, ... It was all right to hear clap trap about White Australia and Australia for Australians, but there were men who then turned around and were led by the nose by the first bit of Yankee propaganda put over. (Applause.)…. The new ‘Talkies’ were attracting people in droves and new theatres were opening all over the place, (and laying-off musicians all over the place), but Hughes etc were opposed to the tax and were getting all the propaganda that could be put over. Messrs Bruce and Page stood for Australian sentiment and were prepared to make these people (theatre owners) pay and pay well for the privilege of shoving their Yankee dope over Australia. The Government proposed to tax them instead of taxing the primary producer…
(Treasurer Page introduced the ‘Amusement Tax’ in the mid 1929 Budget, struck at 5% of admission price and anticipated to raise
£600,000 per year, but came in at ~£60,000 in the first year. The State Government jumped in for a cut wef 1Jan30, raising the total tax to 12%. In the budget of Oct33, one of the final acts of the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Sir Walter Massy-Greene, before his resignation from Cabinet, was to repeal the Tax, forgoing £140,000 in revenue and making theatre proprietorship more profitable. At this time the Greeks were beginning to dominate the theatre scene. From 1915 through to the 1960s they operated almost one third of theatres in NSW country towns, in most cases next door to their cafes. They ‘controlled their town’s principal entertainment…(and they) had direct input into the moral and social values of the communities in which they operated….’ said Kevin Cork, theatre historian. And introduced the American voice, which is, to say the least, unmusical and devoid of charm reckoned the Star.)]

Alas, the punters in every subdivision chose to go with the endorsement of Dr Page, Colonel Bruxner and ex-Senator Abbott (defeated in 1928) and gave Green 61% of their vote (Murbah 73%, Lismore 56%). The Lieutenant, very peeved with the PPU, proclaimed that It is going to be my ideal to reconstitute that great farmers’ organisation and make it something worthwhile. Nationally however, much to the shock of the Star and the Lismore citizens, the Bruce-Page government was routed, Labor winning 46 seats, the Nationalists 14 and the Country Party 10, and Prime Minister Bruce lost his seat. (There were also 3 ‘Independent Nationalists’ and 1 Independent Something.) James Scullin was sworn in as Prime Minister two days before Wall Street collapsed, which formally sounded the bell for the start of the Great Depression. Thereafter, with only 7 of the 36 Senate seats, Labor had little legislative effect on the monetary mess.

In the meantime one of Labor’s first acts was to allot £1,000,000 to the States to bring some Christmas cheer to the unemployed. The money came from the  £20,000,000 earmarked by the Bruce-Page Government in 1928 for supplementation of the States' 10yr main roads programme, but little had been spent. Premier Bavin parceled out NSW's share at £200 per Shire and £275 per Municipality to enable employment on Council projects, which allowed Lismore Municipal Council to give three weeks re-employment to some of its outdoor staff, all of whom had been retrenched in late Nov29. (One gang was employed in breaking rocks at the quarry and another in landscaping around the swimming pool.) The council was seriously overstretched on loans, but, paradoxically, 1929 had seen a Lismore building record and confidence in a financial turnaround. (Six months later PM Scullin allotted another £1,000,000 to the States for relief work projects. And 6mths after that, Dec1930, another £500,000 to bring some Christmas cheer to the dole bludgers, nearly 40% of which was distributed by Premier Lang in NSW, of which 1% was granted to the Richmond district after protracted pleading.)

December 1929 also saw the Industrial Court of NSW declare the living wage for a man with wife and one child at £4/2/6 a week and for adult female employees at £2/4/6. Justice Piddington, President of the Court and a Lang Mate,… made some scathing comments… Under the legislative provisions of the present month employees are to contribute out of the wealth which they produce £3,100,00 per annum more than hitherto for the support of employers and children of employers, while the employers are to contribute of the wealth they produce £3,100,000 less for the support of their employees and the children of those employees. … He concluded with a summary in which he set out that there was a uniform reduction in the basic family income of 7s 6d a week. Referring to the living wage for adult female employees, he said the position of mothers as employees was seriously affected by the present family endowment reduction. All State public servants will be affected by the new basic wage declaration. The men will lose 2s 6d a week and women employees in the public service 1s 6d a week.... Rural awards had just been abolished, notwithstanding that the dairy industry had always been unique in never having had a basic wage struck for cow hands. The elimination of rural industries from the jurisdiction of the Industrial Arbitration Court had been one of the Country Party’s election promises back in 1927, on the grounds that it would increase farmer’s profitability, but in this parliamentary debate had subtly switched the argument to one of increasing employment in country areas.

(Chapter 12 continues the saga into the 1930s.)



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