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No. 468.-JULY, 1921.
23Art. 1.-AUSTRALIAN LABOUR AND AUSTRALIAN 23 IDEALS.
1. The Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia. McCarron, Bird, 1901–19.
302. In Your Hands, Australians! By C. E. W. Bean. 3 Cassell, 1918.
$3. Australia: Economic and Political Studies.
by Meredith Atkinson. Macmillan, 1920.
$4. Australasia. By A. Wyatt Tilby. Constable, 1912. 5. A Short History of Australia and New Zealand. By Arthur Jose. (Seventh Edition.) Angus and Robertson, 1921.
THE life of the Australian Commonwealth since its inauguration on Jan. 1, 1901, falls into three well-marked stages. Its first ten years, or rather less, were devoted to finding its feet. Certain problems whose satisfactory solution was essential to national existence, notably those connected with defence by land and sea, had to be considered, and a decision made by the electors on the methods of solution. Certain other problems (the most important of which related to land settlement and industrial arbitration) were gradually entrusted to the Federal Parliament for discussion, because in the State legislatures-within whose proper sphere they lay-the attitude of irremovable and unrepresentative Upper Houses blocked any legislation that Australians at large would accept. In three Parliaments and under seven Ministries, drawn from all the Federal parties in turn, problems and solutions were thrashed out; nor, considering the novelty and importance of the work, is so Vol. 286.-No. 468.
protracted a discussion to be wondered at. The end came in April 1910, when the electors put into office, with a safe majority in both Houses, the Labour Ministry headed by Mr Fisher.
During the next three years-the second stage of Federal activities-the essential solutions were found. The Parliament of 1910-13 settled, under Labour guidance, schemes of naval and military defence and adjustments of Federal with State finance; it passed a long-delayed Navigation Act, established a Commonwealth Bank and an Australian Notes issue, began the building of the trans-continental railway and the Federal capital, took over the Northern Territory, created the Inter-State Commission, imposed a Land Tax designed to encourage closer settlement, and did its best to enlarge and strengthen Federal control over industrial affairs. By the end of its term it had practically exhausted its mandate, and a period of slack legislation was inevitable; the Parliament of 1913-14 spent itself in futile quarrels. And on this cat-fight (for it was little better) broke the thunder of the war.
The war is the third stage. The conflict itself it would not be pertinent to discuss here; but its concomitant events and its local results must be the main theme of this article. Ten years ago the debates and contentions of the first stage, the doctrines and the personal influences that dominated them, the solutions proposed and (in part) those accepted were described with some particularity in the pages of this Review (Q.R., October 1911). Of the second stage all has just been said that need be said; it was a period of great achievements, but it is accounted for by the preceding ten years, and requires no further explanation. Any attempt, however, to explain the Australian situation to-day in terms of 1901-10 would be useless and extremely misleading. The Labour party of Mr T. J. Ryan and Mr Theodore resembles that led by Mr Fisher very much as Mr De Valera resembles Mr Isaac Butt. The National' Government in power to-day cannot be discussed in any terms that would have fitted a pre-war Government. No chain of events considered possible in, say, 1914, could have brought Sir Joseph Cook, Sir Granville Ryrie, and Mr Millen into the same Cabinet as Messrs Pearce, Poynton,
and Wise, or under the leadership of Mr W. M. Hughes. Two things only, in the welter of transformations and reconstructions, have remained unshaken and of undiminished importance-the supreme Australian virtue of comradeship, and the 'White Australia' creed.
We shall, then, be considering three phenomena in the main. Because it is the key to current Australian politics, we must explain the existence and nature of the new Labour party. Because on them may well depend the coherence of the Empire in a future war, we must take note of the resources and defensive power of the Commonwealth. And because that future war may easily arise from misconceptions about the Australian creed, and may be averted by a clear understanding of it, we must reach, without polite evasions or diplomatic periphrases, a clear definition of White Australia' as Australians in the mass idealise it. This triple discussion will necessitate some repetitions; we must, for instance, review Commonwealth history from a fresh standpoint in order to explain the metamorphosis of Labour; but Commonwealth history, after all, is just as three-dimensional as any other solid fact of existence.
For the first ten years of its life the Commonwealth wrestled with a problem that all British communities must face sooner or later. For in all British communities lurks the innate desire to meet every question with a plain 'Yes' or 'No'; wherefore their whole legislative and administrative system is based on the assumption that for every important political measure public opinion will range itself under either the 'Yes' or the 'No' banner. The so-called 'two-party' system is almost essential to the efficiency of parliamentary institutions on the British model. Unfortunately public opinion rarely crystallises in this form. Certain definitely-marked problems may produce it; the fiscal problem, for instance, or that of self-government for Ireland, when presented in their old pre-war shapes. But in general there are at least three parties among the people of a British State. One section is terrified by the future; another has been embittered by the past; in these, which are the extremes, intelligence is definitely subordinated to emotion. Between them lies a great