1920s >> 1929 >> no-298-june-1929

The Labour Failure in Queensland

After being in power for 15 years, the Queensland Labour Government was heavily defeated at the General Election early in May. In the last Parliament it held 43 seats out of 72. At the election, the Labour Party lost 16 seats and now holds only 27.


For 15 years the I.L.P. in this country have been proclaiming that Queensland was an illustration of “Socialism in Practice.” If that were true we should be faced with the fact that the Queensland workers had tried Socialism and rejected it and, needless to say, this has been gleefully exploited by the Conservatives and Liberals. The truth is that at no time has there been any attempt made to replace Capitalism by Socialism in Queensland or any other Australian State. Capitalism is and always has been the system of society operating there. The Socialist Party all through these years has constantly warned the workers that the Queensland experiment would bring no material change in the position of the working-class there, and would fail to solve any of the various problems arising out of Capitalism. By pretending otherwise, the I.L.P. has been deceiving the workers and misrepresenting Socialism.


One outstanding event which illustrates the impossibility of administering Capitalism for the benefit of the workers was the 1927 railway lock-out. The State railway workers decided to assist striking sugar workers by refusing to handle “blackleg” goods. The Labour Premier, faced with the necessity of safeguarding the operation of Capitalist industry, locked out 11,000 railwaymen in just the same manner as has been done by non-Labour Governments. Whatever their sympathies, a Government, any Government, which undertakes to administer Capitalism, has no choice but to use the powers of the State in defence of Capitalist interests when these are threatened by striking workers.


Failing to solve the problems which are insoluble within Capitalism and having no mandate to establish Socialism the Queensland Labour Government, like Labour Governments here or elsewhere in the same position, was foredoomed to failure.


The circumstances under which the Queensland Government entered office were clearly explained by Labour Premier Theodore.


Writing in the “Labour Magazine” (London, September, 1923), he expressed himself as follows :-


  The Labour Party in Queensland found itself called on to administer a capitalistic state of society, and without any direct mandate or authority to overturn the existing order or to undertake a drastic reconstruction.

Incidentally, this fiasco proves the fallacy of one foolish, if not dishonest, I.L.P. and Communist argument. Members of the I.L.P. who were somewhat critical of the Labour Government, and Communists who frankly condemned it, united in voting for it on the specious plea that after expenencing the failure of the Labour Party, the workers would be ready to “go further.”


In “Queensland,” the successful party now is the National Country Party, which is frankly Capitalist. The Communists have not got the support which they believed would come to them when Labour failed. What these dishonest supporters of the Labour Party always forget is, that you cannot win Conservative working-men over to voting Labour by telling them, that the Labour Party is no good. Communists who tell the workers to vote Labour are, therefore, compelled, if they wish to be effective, to hide their real views and tell the voters that the Labour Party is worth their votes. When the Labour Party proves its inability to solve working-class problems, its Communist supporters are carried down with it, and the disappointed workers vote Conservative “for a change,” or stay away from the polls.


Edgar Hardcastle