Mr. Bourke At Tumut

The Tumut & Adelong Times

1 March 1917

Mr. P. M. Bourke, the selected candidate of the National party for Yass constituency, addressed the electors, at the Oddfellows' Hall on Monday evening last, and there was a fair attendance, nearly all being men.

Mayor Elphick presided and, introducing the speaker said he felt that there was room for improvement in the last parliament, and he hoped the people would not be gulled by agitators.

The question of Conscription was dead and buried, and had no right whatever to be resurrected. We should look to the future now, not the past.

Mr. Bourke was born in the electorate, was of the cleanest of characters, honest and truthful, and would certainly represent the constituency in a creditable manner.

Mr. Bourke, who was greeted with applause on rising, said he had to apologise for the absence of Mr. R. Donaldson (their former member) that night.

The Premier sent a telegram on Saturday saying that that gentleman was coming to Tumut to attend the meeting, but Tuesday night was mentioned. The speaker at once sent an urgent telegram intimating that Monday was the meeting night.

It was known that Mr. Donaldson came as far as Cootamundra on Monday, and a wire was sent to him requesting that he would come on to Tumut per motor-car, but as no answer came the inference was that the message had not been delivered in time.

He (Mr. Bourke) had contested the election last time. against Mr. Donaldson, but not a bitter word had passed from one towards the other.

When speaking here before he advised the adoption of moderatism, not extremism, inl politics, and he was more convinced than ever now that such course should he adopted. It was wrong that an irresponsible party, not representative of the people, should rule the doings of parliament.

Men like McGowen, Spence, Howell, Holman, and others, had been expelled from that party because they desired to exercise their own consciences. He, the speaker, was not opposed to honest labor representation, but it had divorced itself through men that were ruling.  (He gave Labor credit for its ideals, aims and ambitions, but differed with the methods, principally the caucus system.

Their adherence to leasehold and against freehold was another objection.

The new National party formed was not conservative; it consisted of Liberals and Laborites, but no extremists - none of the I.W.W. crowd. They were taking all that was good out of the platforms, and were opposed to setting class against class.

Their motto was 'Fair play and fair pay,' with just Jaws for both sides. They intend to further extend closer settlement, on more liberal terms. The present reappraisement principle would be knocked out, and a fresh one substituted. The pay to returned soldiers was to be made up from 30s., given by military authorities, to L2 per week.

Full assistance was to be given to primary producers, and share farmers were to get better consideration than at present. Small landholders were to be helped in building homes for themselves, as was done in Queensland.

An Estate, Land and Agricultural Bank was to be formed, to hold security on lands, which was the best known. Encouragement was to be given to private enterprise, instead of socialistic schemes. One of the best planks was that dealing with decentralisation.

Electoral reform would be introduced, with preferential voting instead of second ballot. Steps would be taken to minimise strikes, by getting cases brought before Arbitration Court. All charitable institutions would be recognised and compensated, with Govt. inspections.

Bush nursing scheme would be extended. Simplification of taxation forms would be attended to, with no duplication of taxes. At the close of the war another referendum would be taken as to closing hours for hotels, and the Victorian principle of giving compensation would be followed. [Mr. McCutcheon here caused some interruption, but was called to order by the chair man.]

The caucus party were extremists, and made promises they could not fulfil.

Mr. Durack, whilst acting as the leader ot the Labor party, said they had no connection with the I.W.W. men; at the same time Mr. Brookfield, who was on the same platform, and got the endorsement of the P.L.L., said 'they would fight like hell to get the I.W.W. men of Broken Hill released.'

They held up the red flag, standing for 'revolution, bloodless if possible. They would make slaves of men to an imaginary duty, abolish the boss and wage system, also private property, etc. But their ideals were going to be put down, as shown by the late election for Sturt, where the seat was won by 349 votes instead of some thousands as at previous election.

Mr. Story said this election was to be fought, on the Conscription issue, thus resurrecting a ghost of the past - the matter had been decided on Oct. 28th, and could not be interfered with.

It was only drawing a red herring across the track of politics.

He (the speaker; had taken no part in that campaign, although asked to do so, but he replied that he would let the people act according to their own consciences.

He had offered his services for the war at present raging, but was turned down; his idea was that he would have been able to help with horses, and thus allow a younger man to go to the front, but no reservation was made in the offer given to enlist.

He would take second place to no one for loyalty.

Letters in his possession would prove correctness of his statement. In conclusion he desired to make a few references to the present member for Yass, who hadn't been much amongst his constituents since last election.

He signed a round robin to extend the time of parliament, and later demanded an early election, saying that he would not blame the people if they refused to pay taxes or abide by laws made under such circumstances.

Hansard of 15th Nov. contained the assertions made. This was inciting people at a critical time.

After the riot in Sydney Mr. McCirr said he would have an hotel at every street corner, and keep them open all night and day; also that extreme temperance men were more dangerous to young women than were the drunken class - [Mr. McCutcheon: I don't doubt that.]

The speech was classed as the most disgraceful that was ever made in parliament.

The speaker made an appeal to all to be sure and vote on 24th March, and do their duty in helping to change the obejctionable state of affairs in parliament.

A vote of thanks to the chairman concluded the proceedings