50 Years Ago: Australian Labourism

Labour Prime Ministers and Labour leaders of Australia have been prominent in Great Britain of late owing to the Imperial Conference and the Coronation. . . .  All the enemies of Labour have gathered together to do honour to ‘these men who have risen from the plough’. Amidst the eulogies of Asquith, Balfour and the rest of the holy capitalist family, they have toured the country urging the propertyless wage slaves to emigrate to the scene of ‘Labour’s triumphs’, and so escape from the sufferings they encounter here.


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The State ownership of such services as are already nationalised has been a mixed blessing to the toilers. New South Wales is the State of Labourism’s greatest advance, yet the capital (Sydney), will be remembered as the centre of the great strike of State employed tramwaymen for ‘a living wage’. State ownership is the refuge of the business man being crushed by the trusts.


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The taxation of Land Values is a prominent feature of the Labour programme. Its existence in the Commonwealth has led to it being boomed here, and in view of Australia being the pet example of the ‘good’ effect of land taxes, it would be well to show their real character and influence.


The great merit of land taxes is said to be the releasing of the land and bringing it within the means of the poor man. But the Labour Premier, Mr. Andrew Fisher, told a deputation from the London Chamber of Commerce that ‘land sold at prices quite as high as, if not higher than, those realised before the tax was passed.’ and the report (Manchester Guardian 14/6/11) goes on to say that ‘he asserted that since the tax was passed Australian credit had been higher than for many years before.’


From the Socialist Standard, August 1911.