Arthur Rae: a ‘Napoleon’ in Exile

Arthur Rae (1860–1943) was a New Zealand shearer and labourer who moved to Australia in 1889. The son of a long-serving official in the New Zealand railway’s union, he became an organiser and later a prominent leader in the Australian Workers Union (AWU) during the 1890s and into the early years of the twentieth century. In 1891 he began his somewhat sporadic career in Labor politics as one of the first Labor members to be elected to the New South Wales Parliament in 1891. Rae’s activism was informed by his deep commitment to late nineteenth socialist ideals and to ameliorating the condition of working people. His commitment to these socialist ideals and his refusal to compromise them were the determining factors in his labour movement career. It eventually cost him his career in, and membership of, his union and relegated him to the periphery of Labor Party politics. Rae’s struggle was to find the ways to proselytise his socialist vision for Australian workers despite his marginalisation within mainstream labour institutions. That he was able to do this over a period of almost three decades is a testament to the powerful role individuals can play making labour history.

Arthur Rae was a committed socialist. He was one of the early organisers with the Amalgamated Shearers Union (ASU) then later Executive Council member and, briefly, General Secretary of the Australian Workers Union (AWU). Following the formation of the Labor Party, Rae was elected as one of the first Labor members of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and subsequently as a federal Labor senator. Both the AWU and the Labor Party provided Rae with effective platforms from which to proselytise his beliefs. However, by 1920 he had been expelled from the AWU and removed from the centre stage of Labor politics to its radical margins. Undeterred, Rae remained committed to the goal of convincing the Australian labour movement to embrace socialism. That he continued to be influential both politically and industrially despite being expelled from his union and marginalised within the Labor Party is testament to his individual tenacity, his leadership qualities and his steadfast belief in the socialist cause.

This article begins by exploring Rae’s early career as a bushworker and later, an organiser with the ASU. It examines Rae’s rising career as a member of the AWU’s leadership group, his growing stature in the realm of Labor politics and the tempering of his socialist commitment between the late 1890s and 1914. Following a discussion of the events which led to Rae’s expulsion from the AWU and his marginalisation by the Party hierarchy by 1920, the article seeks to describe and explain how, despite this, he was able to maintain a leadership role within, and to exert considerable influence amongst, both the AWU rank and file and the Party constituency over two decades. As a leader, Rae exhibited charismatic qualities but also assumed a role as a conservator of the union’s originating values and principles. An evaluation of his leadership provides further confirmation of the view that leaders draw their bases of power from areas beyond formal leadership positions within organisations.

Beginnings : Organising in the Sheds

Arthur Edward George Rae was born on 14 March 1860 in Christchurch, New Zealand to Ann Elizabeth and Charles Joseph Rae. His father was a painter and glazier by trade who later became secretary of the Railway Employees Association at age 70 and played an important role in the New Zealand 1890 railway strike. Little is known of Rae’s early life. He attended Blenheim Primary School, then did some training as a mechanic before turning his hand to shearing and labouring work.

In 1886, he joined the Amalgamated Shearers Union of Australasia at its formation, presumably during the first organising drive in New Zealand. He moved to Australia in 1889, initially working in railway construction jobs and ringbarking trees in Gippsland, Victoria, before becoming an ASU organiser for the union at Creswick (Victoria) and later in Wagga Wagga (NSW). In July 1892, he married Anne Fryer at Blenheim, New Zealand.[1]

Organising the shearing workforce in the latter part of the nineteenth century was an arduous and often dangerous task. Travelling on horseback and often on foot, organisers followed the migratory trails recruiting members shed by shed in the face of staunch and sometimes violent opposition from the pastoralists. These men were the pathfinders. There was no historical tradition of worker solidarity within the industry to which they could appeal — they were making their own history.[2] Some recruits had responded to appeals to logic and commonsense but others joined in response to explicit displays of leadership in the field.

W.G. Spence, a founding member and inaugural president the ASU, reported on several incidences which occurred in the early days of the union that demonstrated both Rae’s courage and initiative. The Union’s greatest battle was in Victoria where it encountered organised opposition from the pastoralists who adopted any number of ruses to convince shearers to concede to the employer’s demands. If these failed and the men refused to shear until union demands were met, ‘scab’ labour would be brought in to take their place. Sometimes the vigilance of ASU organisers resulted in the interception of the ‘scabs’ before they reached their shed and, by fair means or foul, they could often be induced to leave. Nevertheless, some always managed to get through.[3]

On one such occasion in 1888 in Barwidge, Victoria, Arthur Rae, then the district organiser, posed as a shearer to infiltrate a group of ‘scabs’ and attempt to persuade them either to leave or to join the union. He was betrayed to the station boss but was able to get away and avoid the service of a summons which, as Spence relates, ‘chased him all over Victoria for a month or two afterwards’.[4] While there is a touch of humour about Rae’s experience here, shearers were well aware of the dangers ASU organisers faced. In the same year, at a property not far from Adelaide, the station boss and his brother not only ‘hunted’ an ASU official off the property at revolver point but attempted to ride a horse over him.[5] During the Maritime Strike in 1890, Rae exhibited leadership qualities in another fashion by managing to convince some 300 angry unionists in Hay, New South Wales to surrender a ‘scab’ they were about to lynch and accept his judgement of the man. Rae ruled the ‘scab’ had 20 minutes to leave the town or the crowd could have him back. Spence claims the man would have been hung but for Rae’s intervention.[6]

The Maritime Strike in 1890 saw Arthur Rae constantly flaunt the law by exhorting sheds to strike. He was eventually apprehended and sentenced to 61 consecutive fortnights imprisonment. He was gaoled after refusing to pay the fine but released after serving a month through the pressure of public outrage.[7] The strike ended in November 1890 in a defeat for the unions. Rae had been cautious about the ASU’s early success. In 1889 he advised the membership not to be deluded by this and had articulated his vision of the ultimate aim of trades unionism, ‘building labour cooperation across the colonies, and throughout the world’.[8] Although the union had lost, Rae had demonstrated his courage and leadership qualities both to his peers in the leadership group and to the rank and file membership. As a measure of this, Arthur Rae was awarded a life membership of the union for his efforts during ‘the bitter conflict’.[9]

Figure 1
The diminutive Arthur Rae characteristically takes on the big fellows. Senators J.J. Long and Arthur Rae resort to mock fisticuffs over the appropriate site for Australia’s federal capital, June 1910
Reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Australia

As we have seen, Rae’s father was a senior union official in the New Zealand railways union well into his 70s and Rae’s commitment to socialism and to ameliorating the condition of working people was no doubt forged early in his life through the beliefs and ideals he was exposed to in the family home. It was these ideals Rae took into the shearing sheds in Australia after he moved here in 1889. In the aftermath of the 1890 strike, Rae, now a member of the Wagga Wagga (New South Wales) branch, founded a small newspaper, the Hummer, with Walter Head in 1891. Its first editorial provides some insights into Rae’s socialist beliefs. The editorial espoused a belief in ‘equal rights for all’ and ‘special privileges for none’, concluding that if this was to occur then radical social change was needed. Workers were entitled to the ‘whole produce’ of their labour and ‘in some system of collective ownership of the means of production lies the only solution, at once just, permanent, and practicable of the whole world-wide labour problem’.[10] The Hummer was absorbed by the Australian Worker in 1892.

Even before the 1890 strike, Rae firmly believed that the union could not survive alone against the employers. In July 1889, he expressed little doubt that many of these employers ‘would spend a good sum of money even now to crush us, and if they liked to combine their funds they might yet be able to do it’.[11] Within a year, Rae’s prescient view had almost been played out. In November 1890, Spence suggested that the strike should stimulate ASU members to ensure their names appeared on the electoral roll and the Shearers’ Record also cajoled both shearers and labourers to register to vote.

In 1891 Rae and Head had also written in the Hummer that the union had taken the advice the metropolitan papers had offered during the strike — to redress their grievances through the political process. Rae quickly understood the potential parliamentary representation offered labour, not only in terms of seeking to redress the imbalance in the employment relationship, but as a vehicle to advance the implementation of socialism. In November 1891, he was one of the first Labor members to be elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, winning the seat of Murrumbidgee.[12] His entry into the political arena did not spell an end to Rae’s commitment to the union. In fact, he would secure a heightened profile within the AWU over the course of the next two decades.

The ASU saw parliamentary representation as a way of providing a specific solution to their industrial troubles. The union favoured the introduction of arbitration boards as a means of settling disputes between employers and employees. However, not all ASU members shared this view and Rae was an early opponent of arbitration. As he wrote many years later:
the belief in the sufficiency of Arbitration as a means to secure economic justice was almost a death-blow to industrial solidarity by placing unlimited trust in the efficacy of political action to remove the evils of Capitalism while leaving Capitalism in possession of all its powers and privileges.[13]

Rae also became interested in women’s issues in the early 1890s a fairly unusual pursuit for a male unionist. His main influence was Rose Scott, the social reformer and philanthropist. She was keen to create links with the emerging organised labour movement and Rae and fellow socialist, Frank Cotton were anxious that Scott understand the socialist cause;firstly because of her willingness to directly engage with the working class (she had addressed working-class audiences) and secondly, because of her political networks. This relationship also resulted in Rae and Cotton addressing women’s issues as demonstrated by their support for woman suffrage within the labour movement and in the face of resistance from many working-class men who opposed reform.[14] Rae was one amongst a minority of socialists at that time who saw the unionisation of women workers, not just as a means of obtaining wage justice, but as a vehicle for the establishment of an independent women’s movement.[15]

Whilst it is possible to piece together enough evidence from dispersed and fragmentary sources to construct a reasonable representation of Rae’s trade union and political activities during the 1890s, it is more difficult to produce a broader biographical portrayal of Rae. He was a teetotaller and there is evidence that he supported the banning of the service of alcohol in the parliamentary refreshment rooms.[16] We also know he was a secularist and a member of the Australasian Secularist Association in Sydney. Along with fellow socialists and secularists such as William Holman and Bernard O’Dowd, Rae became the object of attack from the Association’s leader, the dogmatic and combative Joseph Symes, who frequently denounced the socialist beliefs of his secularist allies in the pages of the Association’s journal, Liberator.[17]

Leading from Within 1892—1918

Rae’s election to Parliament did not lead to any reduction in his union activities. Apart from his prominence as a successful travelling organiser, Rae played a significant role in securing the future of the ASU by organising the shedhands into a General Labourers Union (GLU), the leadership of which was dominated by ASU officials. By 1894 Rae and W.G. Spence were respectively president and secretary of the GLU when a joint conference that year voted in favour of amalgamation of both organisations to form the Australian Workers Union (AWU).[18]

Rae lost his parliamentary seat in 1894 but was elected AWU President in the following year. Far from adopting a more sedentary disposition, he travelled some 16,000 miles in 1895 on his railway concession pass, to which he was entitled as an ex-parliamentarian, organising for the AWU and the Labor Party.[19] Despite his willingness to join the pastoralist in battle in times of industrial warfare, Rae knew when to retreat. The industrial struggle of the early 1890s, exacerbated by the declining fortunes of the colonial economy, had hit the union hard both financially and in terms of membership numbers.[20] The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Rae in 1895 as asserting industrial peace was ‘the earnest desire of every official’.[21]

By 1895, the AWU leadership was under strain. Throughout 1894 they had been continuing to defend the conditions of the 1891 shearing agreement, threatening to fine shearers who defied the union’s stand and accepted lower rates being offered by the pastoralists. This created further tensions in the relationship between the leadership and the rank and file which had already been severely tested by several years of industrial defeats in an environment of economic depression and high unemployment. At the AWU’s annual conference in February 1895, Rae was most vocal amongst delegates in insisting that the 1891 agreement be maintained unless the pastoralists agreed to meet with the AWU. Support for this position was buoyed by the union’s apparent success in the 1894 strike which Spence claimed had resulted in 75 per cent of the sheds ‘shearing union’.[22]

However, in May 1894, the AWU Executive Council issued a manifesto informing members that the policy of forcing pastoralists to observe the 1891 agreement was to be abandoned. Amongst the reasons cited for this was that the union needed ‘breathing time’ to restore finances. Members were advised to try and secure the best possible agreement, to remain loyal to the union and to attempt to recruit as many new members as possible. This decision opened more fissures in rank and file solidarity. The back-down was seen by some as an insult to the ‘manhood of our best members’ and they rejected the idea that more members and greater funds were the key to winning future battles. The criticism was so prolific that the Worker acknowledged it lacked the space to print all of the correspondence received from members.[23]

Rae was amongst those in the leadership who resented what was seen as gratuitous advice from the rank and file. His previous conviction that a militant approach should be adopted in the negotiation of the new season’s shearing agreements had been dampened by reports he had been receiving from the sheds. In 1896 he conceded that between February and May of 1895 he had received information demonstrating ‘much poverty and weakness among members’ which had led him to the conclusion that ‘a renewal of the … struggle … would be a blunder and a crime’.[24] In a statement published in the Worker attempting to justify the Executive Council’s decision, Rae admonished the rank and file with the words:
As some members will persist in publishing the mistaken opinion that they know more than all their selected representatives combined, it is just as well to show them where they are wrong.[25]

Rae had long been a strong supporter of the democratic institutions of trade unionism. However, if the historian John Merritt is right, his conversion to the notion that the rank and file could not always be trusted to make the right decisions and must heed the advice of their elected representatives can be seen in both his willingness and that of Spence to support a scheme which circumvented a rank and file plebiscite result and opened the way for the GLU/ASU amalgamation at the 1893 ASU Conference.[26]At the 1896 AWU Annual Conference, Rae’s exasperation with the rank and file was again apparent when he called for ‘drastic alterations’ in the AWU’s work methods claiming that the membership should have faith in the ‘best men’ they had carefully selected to lead them and give them loyalty and support.[27] By 1898 Rae was the general secretary of the AWU and part of a leadership group which was now convinced that the rank and file should have no more than a token role in the creation of union policy.[28]

The 1899 AWU conference saw Rae depart from his militant position on the struggle between the shearing workforce and the pastoralists. Rae now argued against the move to maintain the union rates agreed in 1898 and sought to vary the AWU’s position so that shearers in low-priced districts could shear at the current rates while those elsewhere should only shear union. His amendment to the original motion was lost as was his subsequent proposal to permit men to shear under the union rate of £1 per 100 while still maintaining their union membership. Two years before, Rae had been overtly critical of this very same position.[29] As we will see this volte face did not represent a complete renunciation of his militant approach towards achieving socialist objectives but certainly signalled a tempering of it. By the end of the 1890s, it was clear that the fledgling Australian union movement was in no condition to continue an offensive against capital, and despite his obvious passion for the cause, Rae was pragmatic enough to realise this.

Rae had lost his State parliamentary seat in 1894 and had subsequently failed to win again in 1895 and 1898. He also unsuccessfully contested the Federal seats of Hunter in 1903 and Parramatta in 1907. In the meantime he remained an active member of the Labor Party and of the AWU. In 1905 he was a member of a New South Wales Labor Party sub-committee at its Conference in that year which recommended the Party adopt a two-part non-socialist objective thus reflecting the continued supremacy of the moderates in the Political Labor Leagues.[30] Frank Farrell argued that throughout the first decade of the twentieth century up until the outbreak of World War I, Rae resiled from his earlier radical socialism and ‘merged his militancy in Labor populism and nationalist enthusiasm’, also shaping his progressive views on welfare and women’s issues during this period.[31]

For several years Rae farmed wheat in the Riverina. In 1912 he and his family moved to Glenorie, north-west of Sydney, where he tried his hand at fruit-growing.[32] Rae remained an organiser with the AWU — he reported in the Worker in 1909 on ‘a tour of the sheds’ — however he no longer occupied a senior leadership position and had no doubt resorted to farming occupations to supplement his income.[33] Elected to the Australian Senate in April 1910, Rae served as a member of the Fisher Labor Government which held office until 1913 when the conservatives won office under former Labor politician Joseph Cook. Rae, who had been a vociferous opponent of lavish defence spending by Labor governments since his election to the Senate, was unequivocal in his opposition to conscription and war.[34] On 17 September 1914, the Labor Party, led by Fisher, was returned with a solid majority in the House of Representatives and won 31 of the 46 Senate seats. Rae was one of the Senate casualties. Election material published in the Worker between July and August 1914 shows Rae at various occasions at position three or four on the Labor Party Senate ticket which would not have made his task easy. Writing in the Worker immediately following the election, R.J. Cassidy consider Rae’s defeat could be attributed to ‘the lamentable ignorance of the younger generation of Labor voters’. Certainly his outspoken opposition to the war would have proved unpopular with many voters, but his position on Labor’s Senate ticket virtually placed him in position where he could not win and this, more than any other factor, probably cost him his seat.[35]

The pages of the Worker reveal the regard in which Rae was held within the ranks of the AWU. In a strident testimonial to Rae, deploring his defeat at the polls, the Worker informed its readers that Rae was ‘the spirit incarnate’ of the labour movement and one of its ‘Napoleons’. The Victoria-Riverina and Adelaide branches of the AWU expressed regret at his defeat as did the New South Wales Labor Council. One week later, W.A. Norris, a Victoria-Riverina branch organiser, reported that he had met ‘a good number of men out of work. General regret is expressed at the non-success of such a sterling democratic as Arthur Rae’.[36]

Any notion that Rae had forsaken his early radicalism was removed by the political leadership he exhibited after the outbreak of war. In his history of the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party, Graeme Freudenberg described Rae as ‘unusual among Labor leaders in having opposed Australian participation in the War from its outbreak’.[37] In was on Rae’s motion that the 1916 NSW Labor conference resolved to oppose conscription overseas which was to produce ‘a chain of expulsions’ from the party including W.G. Spence.[38] The following year, Rae successfully moved a further resolution at the NSW Labor conference declaring war to be the inevitable outcome of capitalism.[39] At the 1918 Federal Labor Party Conference, Rae led the debate and put a motion to ban the departure of any more Australian reinforcements. It was narrowly defeated.[40] By 1918 Rae was securely established as a prominent member of the left wing of the Labor Party.

Rae’s growing militancy since 1914 had led him back from the politically moderate position he had embraced after the turn of the century. It would be difficult not to ascribe at least part of the reason for this to the extent which Rae was personally affected by the war he had so stridently opposed from the beginning. In 1916, the Worker had published a photograph of Rae’s sons on their way to the Front. By the war’s end, only one of his three sons who served was still alive. His wife never recovered from the tragedy and died in 1929.[41] The end of hostilities also marked the end of Rae’s career in the AWU and he would need to seek a new platform from which he could continue his advocacy of socialist causes.

Outside Looking In : 1919–43

One Big Union

Prior to the outbreak of war there had been some interest in the concept of a One Big Union organised along industrial lines among some sections of the labour movement. Interest was maintained during the war mainly due to the activities of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)[42] groups and socialist thinkers. By 1916 socialist influence within Labor ranks had increased and there was rising militancy among trade unionists due to rapidly deteriorating economic conditions on the home front. In New South Wales some informal discussions on the desirability of forming a ‘union of unions’ took place among the larger organisations not affiliated with the Labour Council. Craft unions were invited to participate but the Labour Council remained sceptical on the grounds that unity seemed to imply absorption of unions by the AWU. Despite such misgivings, a conference on the question took place in 1916 and the principle of a One Big Union (OBU) was endorsed. In an endeavour to ally the fears of some of an AWU takeover, the Miners Federation delegates were successful in having an amendment adopted which called for such an organisation to be based ‘on industrial and allied trade lines’ — a direct snub to the AWU’s regional organisation. The Labour Council continued to perceive the OBU as a threat and sought to preserve its position by aggressively seeking the affiliation of the mass unions. However, for the time being, the idea of an OBU was overshadowed by other events — the conscription campaigns and the 1917 Great Strike.[43]

As much of the labour movement licked its wounds in the aftermath of the Strike [44], the results of the post mortem gave a new impetus to the idea of a One Big Union. A recurring criticism of the conduct of the Strike was the ‘lack of any authoritative central organisation’ and the Labour Council, which now boasted a militant majority led by an enthusiastic new Secretary, Jock Garden, was keen to press ahead with the OBU scheme. These new endeavours resulted in the convening of a Union Congress on 5 August 1918 attended by 141 delegates from 79 unions, the majority of whom were of militant persuasion. The Congress endorsed the Labour Council’s scheme. The new organisation was to be known as the Workers Industrial Union of Australia (WIUA). Its statement of principles, which provided for revolutionary as well as for political and industrial action, and its structure, closely mirrored that of the Industrial Workers of the World. The Miners’ secretary A.C. Willis was elected President and Labour Council secretary Jock Garden, the General Secretary.[45]

An All-Australian Conference of trade unions was convened in January 1919. Following an unsuccessful motion to have the constitution of the AWU adopted as a basis for the OBU, the conference resolved to formally adopt the preamble and rules of the WUIA. Despite the resilient mood of the conference, the WUIA was faced with opposition from both sides of the labour movement: a radical critique from socialists and syndicalists on the left and a more moderate critique from politicians, craft unionists and the AWU leadership on the right.[46]

The AWU and the Labor Party were to prove the greatest hurdles for the OBU to surmount — the AWU because its officials feared their union would be submerged and their positions of power in the labour movement destroyed, and politicians because they feared the consequences of revolutionary trade unionism for their electoral prospects. Ernest Lane claimed the AWU regarded the OBU as ‘an unscrupulous poacher’ on its preserves and a revolutionary menace to the ‘sane’ moderate Labour movement. At the 1920 AWU Convention it was reported that the Executive Council had rejected the WUIA scheme on the grounds that ‘it was not in the best interest of the AWU to endorse the … scheme of industrial organisation’. The AWU constitution, the Convention decided, was ‘the only basis upon which can be built that One Big Union which we all so ardently desire’.[47]

The view of the AWU leadership on the undesirability of the WUIA was not universal amongst the AWU officialdom. Both Arthur Rae and the Western Branch secretary, John Cullinan, endorsed the organisation. As we have seen, Rae had been an opponent of compulsory arbitration since the early 1890s and the leadership itself acknowledged that there were those amongst the membership who were continuing to advocate direct action in its stead.[48] By April 1919, the AWU leaders were in open opposition to the WIUA. The AWU Executive Council met and announced in a ‘manifesto’ to the membership that it had unanimously decided to abandon the WIUA, pointing out that its IWW—type objectives were akin to ‘madness, direct action, sabotage, dissension, disruption and destruction of the Union Movement’.[49]

The 1919 State Labor conferences were the scene for the next clash between the Party and the AWU and the WIUA. Victoria had rejected the adoption of the OBU preamble in favour of Blackburn’s ‘socialist objective’ while in New South Wales the Party’s objective also proved to be the central issue. A.C. Willis moved the adoption of the words: ‘the establishment of a State of social democracy, in which the entire means of wealth production shall be owned and controlled by the community of workers industrially organised’. AWU officials and the parliamentary party voiced the strongest objections to this proposal and the motion was lost 127–112. In AWU ranks, Arthur Rae was the lone dissenter. He supported the change claiming that it should be possible to distinguish the Labor platform from that of their opponents ‘without a microscope’. The defeat of Willis’s proposal prompted the militants, including Arthur Rae, to walk out of the conference the following day.[50]

The WIUA’s propaganda campaign proved worrying for the AWU leadership. The 1920 AWU Annual Convention demonstrated that a quarter of the Union’s 40 or so delegates were sympathetic to the WIUA. The leadership found itself under fairly heavy attack from within but opposition was eventually subdued though not repelled, by the dissolution in July 1920 of the AWU’s Western Branch in New South Wales, of which Rae was a member. Western Branch had for some time been a repository for militant opposition to AWU officialdom and Ernest Lane believed that its abolition was a means of eliminating its radical secretary, Jack Cullinan.[51]

The AWU and WIUA were eventually able to reach a compromise which resulted in the establishment of an Australasian Workers Union to replace the WUIA. The new union was, in essence, an AWU-run one big union, although Ernest Lane thought the new organisation ‘a nauseous pill’ for the AWU to swallow.[52] Soon after its formation, the OBU (AWU) encountered critical constitutional difficulties which could only be overcome by dissolution and reconstitution. Faced with this dilemma, both the AWU and the miners union became increasingly nervous and suspicious of each other which eventually led to a resumption of hostilities. By August 1923, the OBU (AWU) had been laid to rest.[53]

By the end of 1919 the AWU leadership had become increasingly concerned about the likelihood of its own officers ‘ratting’ on the union. So much so that they compelled them to sign a pledge swearing their total loyalty to the union and resolving not to join any industrial or political organisation ‘opposed to the policy of the AWU’.[54] Cullinan had been one of the pledge’s initial targets but he had foiled the attempt to get rid of him by agreeing to sign it.[55]

Following Rae’s walkout of the 1919 NSW ALP Conference, he and many of the other rebels had joined the Industrialist Socialist Labor Party (ISLP). The ISLP was an initiative to establish a genuine workers’ party and has since been seen as a first step to the formation of an Australian Communist Party.[56] Rae refused to leave the ISLP and was called before the 1920 AWU Annual Convention to explain his actions ‘in joining a breakaway party’.[57]

Rae did not offer an apology to Convention — he felt that ‘unnecessary’. He explained he had taken the decision to join the breakaway party ‘after full consideration and without regret’. Rae argued that as a Labor MP he had often been perceived as ‘too revolutionary’ yet had often ‘refrained from voicing certain views’. However, he considered the ‘present political methods of the ALP were misleading and would do nothing to emancipate workers from wage slavery’. Rae thought the NSW ALP ‘more than corrupt; it was putrid’ and beyond reformation from within. The only option ‘was to get out and start again’. Convention debated what action the AWU should take but in the end, his refusal to sign the pledge resulted in AWU President Arthur Blakeley ruling that Rae ‘automatically cease to be an officer of the AWU and his name be removed from the AWU list of agents’. To add insult to injury, the AWU also ensured that Rae was removed as editor of the Labor Daily.[58] Rae thought his treatment by the AWU had been ‘disgraceful’ but had known that the Executive Council had wanted him removed. In the end, Rae’s life membership of the union had meant nothing — he had defied the ‘machine’ and paid the ultimate penalty.[59]

Bushworkers Propaganda Group and the Pastoral Workers Industrial Union

By 1920, Rae no longer played a central role in Labor politics having been banished to its radical margins. Initially he pursued a career in journalism as writer and, for a time editor, of Common Cause, the official journal of the Miners Federation. In 1923 A.C. Willis’ victory over the AWU at the NSW Labor Conference marked the beginning of Rae’s journey back into the mainstream of the Labor Party. The following year Common Cause was merged into the Labor Daily providing Rae with a broader platform to express his views to launch his attacks against the AWU.[60]

As the AWU grew during the 1920s, so to did dissatisfaction amongst its rank and file. There were pockets of dissent within the rank and file which, for ideological reasons or otherwise, failed to share the AWU’s zeal and commitment to the arbitration process as a means of furthering the worker’s lot over the use of the strike weapon. However there were others within the membership who were becoming increasingly frustrated over the level of dominance of AWU officialdom — in both the union bureaucracy and the more open forum of the annual convention — over rank and file participation in the operational and policy-making machinery within the AWU.

On October 14, 1920, in his usual report in the ‘Bushworkers’ Budget’ the page in each edition of the Worker which was given over to the publication of AWU notices and Branch secretary’s and organisers’ reports, Central Branch Secretary, Bill Lambert made reference to ‘spurious circulars’ which had been drawn to his attention asking members of the AWU to pass a vote of no-confidence or censure against the officials of the union for ‘allegedly accepting less than the Queensland conditions in the shearing industry in other States’. The circulars were also asking members to endorse an alternative conference.[61]

In a manifesto to all members, AWU President Blakeley and General Secretary Grayndler referred to attacks on the union’s officers:
by a few discredited members, backed by the usual annual gathering of malcontents, we yet deem it our duty to warn members against these persons, and put them on their guard against the machination and plotting of a small gang of individuals who annually set themselves up in place of the elected officers of the Union, and with brazen impudence profess to speak on behalf of A.W.U. members.[62]

Vere Gordon Childe, in his 1923 study of the early Australian labour movement How Labour Governs, noted the difficulties being experienced by the AWU leadership during the period of economic downturn in the early 1920s. Justice Power had reduced shearing rates and other conditions in his adjudication of the 1922 Pastoral Award, prompting the AWU to instructed the rank and file to refuse to work under it. Such defiance on the part of the leadership was short-lived. Faced with a court injunction, the AWU forbade its members to participate in any illegal strike. Nevertheless, according to Childe a strike did take place and Arthur Rae, among others, organised the shearers’ resistance to it.[63]

By 1925 this rebellious element, organised by Rae, had formed a cell within the AWU membership known as the Bushworkers Propaganda Group.[64] The Group submitted a list of resolutions to the 1925 annual convention and while the thrust of the resolutions is not disclosed in the Convention Report, they were undoubtedly related to the demand for a greater voice for the rank and file in operational and policy-making areas of the union. Central Branch secretary George Buckland warned that the Group was not just attacking his branch but ‘the whole of the officials of the organisation’. One delegate was convinced that the Group’s desire was to ‘smash the union’. The South Australian Branch secretary, Frank Lundie argued that the AWU did not permit sections inside the union and that the Group had ‘put themselves outside the pale of the organisation’. Convention declared the Group ‘a bogus body, and inimical to the working-class Movement’ by 18 votes to six.[65] The Bushworkers Propaganda Group continued to act as an irritant to the AWU leadership. Worker editor, Henry Boote in an address to the 1928 AWU Annual Convention mentioned Rae specifically in a warning of the dangers of a communist conspiracy against the union.[66] The Group was eventually absorbed into the Rank and File Movement to later re-emerge as the Pastoral Workers Industrial Union in 1930.[67]

In 1927, Rae was readmitted to the NSW ALP following Willis and Lang’s victory over the AWU faction and found himself a controversial nomination to fill the Labor Senate vacancy the following year caused by the death of John Grant. Although he lost the nomination to an alternative candidate, Labor stalwart Albert Gardiner following a joint sitting of the New South Wales Parliament, this was to prove a minor setback. Rae was elected to the Senate in the 1928 federal election and took his place there in 1929.[68]

By the late 1920s, the Great Depression had resulted in much hardship both for workers and their trade unions and this was particularly true of pastoral workers and the AWU. Shearers and other shed workers had suffered wage rate reductions of between 10 and 20 per cent and their discontent yielded fertile ground for the emergence of another ‘bogus union’. Strike camps had sprung up in response to the 1930 Pastoral Award in a number of locations in New South Wales with approximately one thousand shearers on strike. Moreover, the rank and file had become disgruntled over allegations of ballot-rigging by the leadership of the powerful New South Wales Branch.[69]

At the inaugural meeting of the Pastoral Workers Industrial Union (PWIU) held in Sydney on 27 and 28 December 1930, the chairman Arthur Rae emphasised the ‘class character of the new union and its fight against arbitration and the anti-working class policy of the AWU officials’.[70] As we have seen, Rae had been an early opponent of compulsory arbitration. Now some 40 years later, his position had not changed. Two years earlier, Rae had argued in The Pan Pacific Worker that ‘what organised Labor gained in numerical strength by arbitration it more than lost in the average quality of the trade unionists it created, as well as a general lowering of the fighting spirit of the membership of the old unions’. Observing that a generation of workers had laboured under arbitration and knew no other method, the 68-year-old agitator lamented that they ‘look upon the facts of the early struggles of their fathers as the mere babblings of old age passing into its second childhood’. Yet for Rae, all was not lost. He saw ‘hopeful signs’ that employer-dominated Parliaments had demonstrated to a large number of workers that ‘Labor’s emancipation’ lay in a ‘United Front of the working class’ and that
we may yet escape the dangers of our past folly and at length realise that not from Capitalist Parliaments and Courts but by the workers’ own united efforts can social freedom and economic justice be won.[71]

The AWU, probably somewhat unnerved that a former icon of the union was leading the charge against them and convinced of its Communist credentials, campaigned vociferously against the PWIU particularly through the pages of both the Australian (formerly Sydney) Worker and the Queensland Worker. With a tinge of sarcasm, the Queensland Worker in an attack on the PWIU, noted that it was
a matter for keen regret that Senator Arthur Rae is associated with this breakaway section of the AWU but Rae is a very old man, and he is well in his dotage. For him there might be some excuse …
Warming to the task of deprecation, the report continued:
This poor old demagogue now prates of ‘direct action’ as a means of settling industrial disputes, and in the next breathe [sic] he says, according to the reports in the capitalist press, that the ‘New Union’ has made application for registration. Quite clearly it is time that the Labor Movement, amongst other things, provided some sort of home for its worn-out leaders, where the old chaps might spend their days contentedly mouthing such platitudes without the danger of the young and unsophisticated being unduly impressed and temporarily led astray.[72]This demonstration of bravado in demeaning Rae’s role in the PWIU might have been just that for Rae had lost none of his former enthusiasm for the role of a travelling organiser.

Now a Labor senator again, Rae was to find his parliamentary travel pass quite useful in his organising role with the PWIU. The Worker reported Rae’s presence in the sheds on an number of occasions and he travelled as far afield as Charleville in southwestern Queensland to rally the rank and file to embrace the new organisation during the 1931 Queensland shearers’ strike.[73] Following the collapse of that strike, Rae’s role was recognised by the Pastoral Review which reported on 16 March 1931 that
the remarkable thing is that the local shearers could not see that they had not a leg to stand on, and probably would not have been led astray if it had not been that men like Senator Rae came into Queensland stirring up strife.[74]

It is quite probable that his high-profile involvement may have prompted the approach by the AWU to engage the NSW Graziers Association to undermine the influence of the PWIU and its rank and file converts. The Association and the AWU agreed to exchange information and both took initiatives to seduce and intimidate the rank and file which impaired the PWIU’s campaign. In the long term, the PWIU failed in its mission to erode the AWU’s power base. In 1933, the PWIU reported a membership of only 400 nationally, down on its reported membership of over 1,000 in 1931. This decline was attributed to the inability of the PWIU to send out an adequate number of organisers (only 3 to cover all New South Wales in 1933) and to successful manoeuvring by the AWU in removing the unpopular leadership of the NSW Branch and finally convincing members that the union had been cleansed and they should come back into the fold.[75]

During its six years as a thorn in the side of the AWU, the PWIU never had more than 2000 members at any one time and its industrial activities were often also compromised by its close association with the Communist Party of Australia (CPA).76 The PWIU was never a purely communist union but, in its time, was the closest the CPA went to achieving one. There is no doubt that the CPA fostered the formation of the PWIU and controlled its executive. It was on Party orders that the PWIU was finally disbanded in 1936.[77]

The Radical Senator

Rae was never a communist but could be certainly deemed a fellow-traveller. He was an executive member of a number of Communist-front organisations including the Movement Against War and Fascism and the Australian Branch of the International Class War Prisoners Aid during the 1930s.78 On his death, the Communist paper, Tribune described Rae as being
right from the start a friend of the Soviet Union … The Communist Party always had the most fraternal and comradely relations with him. He was a visitor at the famous 12thCongress of our Party.79Perhaps this correspondent had forgotten that Rae had also been a recipient of the Party’s numerous vehement attacks against Labor Party members. Alistair Davidson records that Rae was ‘attacked and reviled as a social fascist and on one occasion reduced to tears’.[80]

Parallelling his industrial role with the PWIU, Rae also embellished his maverick status politically. By the end of 1929, Senator Rae, along with several of his NSW colleagues in federal Parliament, felt aggrieved over the Scullin Labor government’s refusal to set aside £25,000 to assist the suffering of unemployed Hunter Valley miners and their families. Rae had joined the Miners Federation sometime after his dismissal from the AWU. During the factional struggles within the NSW Labor Party in 1926–27, both the Miners Federation and Rae had been supporters of the then NSW Premier Jack Lang. By 1930, when Lang again became NSW Premier, Rae was solidly in the Lang camp and a supporter of the Lang Plan devised as a panacea for Australia’s economic crisis but which sat at odds with the strategies formulated and endorsed by the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party (FPLP). At a Caucus meeting in April 1931, the FPLP refused to accept as a member the winner of the by-election for the seat of East Sydney, Eddie Ward who had campaigned on the Lang Plan in defiance of the federal Party’s instructions. Rae was a joint mover of a dissent motion against Scullin’s ruling on Ward and when this was soundly defeated, he and several of his NSW colleagues walked out of caucus and formed the breakaway Lang Labor group which ensured the defeat of the Scullin-led federal Labor Government later that year.[81] Rae remained a Labor senator until 1935 when he lost his position in federal election held in that year. 53
In 1934, Rae was one of the leaders of the protest against the refusal of the Lyons Government to allow the prominent Czech writer Egon Kisch to leave the ship on which he had travelled to Australia as an invitee to the Australian Congress against War and Fascism to be held in Melbourne in November of that year. The Federal Government refused to allow Kisch into Australia on the ground that he was suspected to be a member of the Czechoslovakian communist party. Rae attempted to board the ship but was stopped at the gangway. He challenged the police to arrest him and was allowed to proceed.[82]

Rae died on 25 November 1943 at Liverpool, New South Wales. He was survived by two sons, two daughters and an adopted daughter.[83] Rae’s leadership qualities were such that he could command a following from outside the union as well as within. In 1914, after Rae lost his Senate position the first time, a tribute article in the Worker declared: ‘tell the story of Arthur Rae and to a manifestly large degree you will tell the history of the Australian Labor Movement’. The tribute went on:
Wherever the din of conflict roared the loudest and the stress of battle surged the hardest, there, and nowhere else was Arthur Rae the Indomitable to be found.
Arthur Rae-ism and the rebel spirit of twenty years ago are behind much, indeed ALL of the progressive and humanitarian legislation that Labor has succeeded in putting on the Statute Book.[84]

Influence and Leadership : an Evaluation

Rae fought the battles for better terms and conditions with the men in the shearing sheds, particularly during the struggles of the early 1890s. Some of his exploits became legendary and the union made sure the legend was perpetuated. He is portrayed in both of Spence’s early works, The History of the AWU and Australia’s Awakening as a ‘warrior’ organiser prepared to sacrifice his liberty to ensure the defeat of those who threatened the hard-fought gains of the union.

In his early career, Rae brought the union into the sheds and led the rank and file by example. He saw his leadership role in the context of the struggle between capital and labour and preached the gospel of union solidarity in the sheds. Recruitment was conversion to the cause — the extension of unionism throughout the continent and across the globe. The rank and file followed him and the ASU leadership into battle in the early 1890s but were defeated by the combined power of capital and the State.

Rae soon realised the struggle had to be fought on two fronts — the political and the industrial. His constituency must be defended not only in political terms but by engaging the opposition on the ground. Despite his embrace of party politics, Rae did not see victory in the struggle between capital and labour as a consequence of having differences mediated and compromised through State-sanctioned tribunals. Only direct confrontation would secure industrial victory which would then be protected by power in politics.

Early on, Rae championed the empowerment of the rank and file. The union needed to be democratic if it was to truly represent its constituency. The late 1890s witnessed a change of attitude on Rae’s part. It was not so much that his earlier militancy had been tempered by a recognition that the formulation of a radical strategy must take account of the ability and willingness of the followers to follow. Rather, in Rae’s view, and irrespective of the wider environment, the rank and file needed to have faith in and express their loyalty to the ‘best men’ who constituted the leadership group of which Rae was a senior member. It was, after all, they who knew better.

It was also around this time that Arthur Rae seems to have moved away from a career leadership role within the AWU. There seems little doubt, as Farrell argued, that Rae’s militancy ‘merged with Labor populism and nationalist enthusiasm’ during the first decade of the new century. Perhaps the more sanguine environment which had been created for the labour movement by the constitutional initiatives which accompanied Federation led Rae to question his strident militancy. Or perhaps he sought a role in advancing the cause by championing the broader issues of socialism as his enthusiasm for general welfare reform and the rights of women might imply.

Certainly, it can be argued Rae begins to see his labour movement role in political rather than industrial terms from this time. It is clear that he was always politically ambitious. He contested parliamentary seats on a number of occasions in the 1890s and into the first decade of the twentieth century unsuccessfully before finally resuming his parliamentary career with his election to the Senate in 1910. The next decade was pivotal in Rae’s career. World War I regenerated his militant spirit. As almost a lone voice in Labor Party circles, he vigorously opposed the preparations for war, and the likelihood of Australia’s involvement. When war broke out he was a vociferous opponent of conscription and played a critical role in the 1916 NSW Labor Conference resolution on the question which initiated a sequence of expulsions. The war cost Rae dearly — not only his parliamentary seat but the lives of two of his three sons.

By the Armistice in 1918, Arthur Rae no longer had a leadership role within the AWU and within two years his long association as a member of the union is terminated following his expulsion for refusing to sign the pledge. As we have seen, Spence’s influence in leadership terms ended with his resignation from the AWU in 1916 over conscription. It would be wrong however to see Rae’s expulsion in the same light. For varying periods over almost the next 20 years, Arthur Rae was able to influence and lead a sufficient cohort of the AWU membership to cause considerable concern to the leadership group. The invention of the term ‘Arthur Raeism’ gives some credence to the view that Rae exerted a particular charisma which convinced this cohort of the rank and file membership to accept him as their leader.

Certainly by the end of World War I, Rae had chosen the Labor Party over trade unionism as the forum for the expression of his socialism. To some extent, the AWU may have made the decision for him although he did join the Miners Federation of New South Wales and held membership of the Australian Journalists Association. Over the next two decades Rae was still active in seeking to ameliorate the condition of working people, and his role in the PWIU and on behalf of the miners in the Hunter Valley dispute are manifest examples of this.

Rae’s commitment to his socialist ideals and his refusal to compromise are the determining factor in his labour movement career. For Rae it was these ideals that had shaped the principles and values out of which the AWU had emerged. To a large extent, Rae’s militancy and activism can be seen as a continuous crusade to have these ideals conserved within the AWU and the wider labour movement.

The durability of his legendary status within the union movement was instrumental in his ability to retain a degree of influence with the AWU rank and file after his expulsion from the union. Moreover, it was also critical in his ability to continually make his presence felt within the Labor Party itself. Had Rae been more of a compromiser and less of a maverick and militant, there is little doubt he would have been able to secure a comfortable sinecure within both the AWU and the Party leadership. That he was able to exert the influence he did as a maverick and often an outsider is a significant measure of Arthur Rae’s qualities as a labour movement leader.

It is evident that by the time of his accession to the senior ranks of the AWU leadership in the mid-1890s, Rae would have been seen by the rank and file as a charismatic leader. He had already exhibited outstanding qualities as a union organiser in the field. This was no more apparent that during the 1890 strikes. Weber argued that charisma arose when social crisis occurred and the leader emerged with a radical vision that presented a solution to the crisis.[85] We can identify Rae’s radical vision in terms of his socialist beliefs which drove him to openly defy and challenge the law in his attempts to mobilise the shearers to strike. Moreover, his socialist beliefs, underpinned by strong moral and ethical values, informed his appeals to the rank and file to support the union and the strike.

What was even more significant in terms of Rae’s leadership was that, after 1920, he was able to perform a leadership role from outside the union. In terms of the French and Raven typology of the bases of power which sought to demonstrate that leaders draw their power from sources beyond that of a formal and legitimate leadership position within an organisation, Rae certainly exhibited referent power in the sense that the rank and file identified positively with his personal traits around which his legendary status was built. While his possession of referent power was central to Rae’s ability to retain influence amongst the rank and file of the AWU, follower identification with his knowledge, skills and expertise was also evidence of the possession of expert power.[86] The lesson here may well be that in terms of trade union leadership analysis, the existence of leaders who can lead and influence a cohort of members from outside the institution should not be ignored if the complete institutional picture is to be attained.

Finally, Rae was able to harness his charisma, his courage and persistence and his skills and expertise as a leader in the quest to ensure that the AWU’s founding principles and values, defined within an emerging Australian socialism, were worthy of preservation. This would seem to place him in the leadership role of conservator, despite the fact that he performed this role from outside the union. This concept suggests that leaders are continually obliged to engage in a process of ‘controlled adaption to changing circumstance’ with a view to the preservation of institutional integrity.[87]


Arthur Rae’s life tells us something about the struggle faced by many individuals within the broad Australian labour movement to construct a meaningful identity that would enable them to pursue both the political and industrial goals they hoped and believed would achieve fairness and justice for working people.

The industrial defeats of the 1890s dented Rae’s confidence in the belief that organised labour in itself could achieve the objectives of socialism. For a brief period, Rae wavered in his strong commitment to socialism yet this merely serves to demonstrate human vulnerability to the seeds of self-doubt. Rae’s militancy was often tested and mediated over his lifetime and, although shaken on occasions, was constantly revived by his sense of purpose and the strength of his commitment to socialism.

This study of Rae also demonstrates that the direct engagement with followers in their own environment accompanied by acts of personal sacrifice in a common cause can build a bond between leaders and followers which is sustainable even after the withdrawal of formal leadership authority. It was Rae’s activism as an organiser and his constant presence amongst the rank and file in the shearing sheds whilst a member of the AWU leadership group during the 1890s, that substantially contributed to his legendary status amongst the AWU membership. Despite his expulsion from the union, Rae was able to draw on that legacy to gain considerable influence amongst the AWU rank and file for almost over 20 years.

Overall, the various characteristics and qualities exhibited by Arthur Rae coalesced to create a unique and complex portrait of an influential trade union leader.


*� This paper has been peer-reviewed for Labour History by two anonymous referees.

1.� Frank Farrell, ‘Arthur Rae’, Australian Dictionary of Biography 1891–1939, Vol. 12, (ADB), Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic., 1966, pp. 323—324.

2.� See John Merritt, The Making of the AWU, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, New York, 1984, p.103 ff. for a short profile of an ASU organiser.

3.� W.G. Spence, History of the AWU, Worker Press, Sydney, 1911, p. 27.


5.�Ibid., p. 31.


7.� Farrell, ADB, p. 32.

8.� M. Hearn and H. Knowles, One Big Union: a History of the Australian Workers Union 1886–1994, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1996, p.37

9.� Farrell, ADB, p. 324.

10.�Hummer, 19 October 1891 quoted in Merritt, The Making of the AWU, p. 205.

11.�Shearers’ Record, January 1890, p. 4.

12.� Hearn and Knowles, One Big Union, pp. 55–57.

13.� Arthur Rae, ‘The Curse of Compulsory Arbitration’, The Pan-Pacific Worker, 2 April 1928, p. 18

14.� Judith A. Allen, Rose Scott. Vision and Revisionism in Feminism, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1994, pp. 104–5.

15.� B. Scates, ‘Socialism, feminism and the case of William Lane: A Reply to Marilyn Lake’, Labour History, no. 59, November 1990, p. 56.

16.� ‘Rae, Arthur Edward George’ in A. Millar (ed.), Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate Vol.2, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic. 2004, p. 382

17.� F. B. Smith, ‘Joseph Symes and the Australian Secular Association’, Labour History, no. 5 November 1963, p. 41

18.� For a brief outline of the formation of the GLU and the process which led to the formation of the AWU see Merritt, The Making of the AWU, pp. 175–177; 227–230.

19.� Ray Markey, The Making of the Labor Party in New South Wales, University of New South Wales Press, Kensington, NSW, 1988, p. 276.

20.� John Merritt finds some validity in AWU President Sleath’s assertion that AWU membership numbers had declined from around 17,000 at the beginning of 1895 to some 7000 by the end of that year. Merritt, p. 264.

21.� Quoted Merritt, The Making of the AWU, p. 258.

22.� Hearn and Knowles, One Big Union, pp. 79; 73–77.

23.�Ibid., pp. 80–81.

24.� Quoted in Merritt, The Making of the AWU, p. 257.

25.�Worker, 15 June 1895, p. 1.

26.� See Merritt, The Making of the AWU, p. 277 and pp. 227–230 for an account of the amalgamation lead-up.

27.�Ibid., p. 279.


29.�Ibid., p. 262.

30.� R.McMullin, The Light on the Hill: the Australian Labor Party 1891–1991, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1991, p. 56

31.� Farrell, ADB, p. 324. For insights into Rae’s interests in women’s rights see Judith A. Allen, Rose Scott: Vision and Revision in Feminism, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1994.


33.�Worker, 14 July 1909, pp. 4–5. Rae was elected as a federal labor senator in 1910

34.� McMullin, The Light on the Hill, p. 93.

35.�Worker, 17 September 1914; Ward, A Nation for a Continent, p. 94; Ian Turner, Industrial Labour and Politics: the Dynamics of the Labour Movement in Eastern Australia, 1900–1921, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1965, p. 102.

36.�Worker, 17 September 1914; Worker, 24 September 1914.

37.� Graeme Freudenberg, Cause for Power: a History of the New South Wales Labor Party, Pluto Press, Sydney, 1991, p. 108.

38.� Turner, Industrial Labour and Politics, p. 102; Farrell, ADB, p. 324.

39.� Turner, Industrial Labour and Politics, p. 172.

40.� McMullin, The Light on the Hill, p. 110.

41.�Worker, 25 June 1916; Farrell, ADB, p. 324.

42.� The Australian branch of the IWW was formed in 1907 based on the De Leonite organisation in the United States of America. By 1919 it had significant influence in the labour movement.

43.� Turner, Industrial Labour and Politics, p.182.

44.� Not all unions were involved. For example the AWU did not participate in the strike but supported it financially — see Hearn and Knowles, pp. 123–125.

45.� Based on the account in Turner, Industrial Labour and Politics, pp. 183–184.

46.� Turner, Industrial Labour and Politics, pp. 185–186; Worker, 16 January 1918.

47.� Ernest Lane, Dawn to Dusk, William Brookes and Co., 1939 (Republished by Social History of Australia Publishing Enterprise, Sydney, 1993), p. 208; AWU 1920 Annual Convention Report, p. 8.

48.� Markey, p. 169; AWU 1920 Annual Convention Report, p.8.

49.� Turner, Industrial Labour and Politics, p. 188; Worker, 15 May 1919.

50.�Worker, 12 June 1919.

51.� Lane, Dawn to Dusk, pp. 248–249.

52.� Turner, Industrial Labour and Politics, p. 194; Lane, Dawn to Dusk p. 270; Report of Inaugural Convention of the Australasian Workers’ Union, E154/19, AWU Collection, Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University, Canberra.

53.� Joan Simpson, ‘Radicals and Realists: the AWU Response to the One Big Union Challenge’, in Traditions for Reform in New South Wales, Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch), Pluto Press, Sydney, 1987, p. 48

54.� Hearn and Knowles, One Big Union, p. 135; Minutes of AWU Executive Council Meeting, 24 September 1919.

55.� Lane, Dawn to Dusk, p. 249.

56.� Freudenberg, Cause for Power, p. 122.

57.� Minutes of AWU Executive Council Meeting, 24 September 1919. Although Rae was not currently working in any industry covered by the AWU, he was able to retain his membership as an ‘agent’ — a provision sanctioned by the Federal Arbitration Court. See Lane, Dawn to Dusk, p. 244.

58.� Farrell, ADB, p. 324

59.� 1920 AWU Annual Convention Report, pp. 62–65, 134–139; for the reference to the AWU as the ‘machine’ see the remark of Queensland Branch President, Beecher Hay in 1942, quoted Hearn and Knowles, One Big Union, p.195.

60.� Millar, Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate, Vol. 2, p. 384

61.�Worker, 14 October 1920.


63.� Vere Gordon Childe, How Labour Governs, p. 181 note.

64.� See Irwin Young, ‘Changes Within the N.S.W. Branch of the Australian Workers’ Union 1919–1924′, Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 16, no.1, March 1964, p. 56, n.18.

65.� 1925 AWU Annual Convention Report, pp. 36–37.

66.� Report of the 1928 Annual AWU Convention, pp. 72–76.

67.� Andrew Moore, ‘The Pastoral Workers’ Industrial Union, 1930–1937, Labour History, no. 49, November 1985, p. 62.

68.� Millar, Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate, Vol. 2, p. 384

69.� Hearn and Knowles, One Big Union, pp.175–176, 140.

70.� Minutes of the First Annual Conference of the Pastoral Workers’ Industrial Union (PWIU), 27 and 28 December 1930. Q331.8806/P, Mitchell Library, Sydney (ML).

71.�Pan-Pacific Worker, 2 April 1928, pp. 16–19.

72.�Queensland (Brisbane) Worker, 14 January 1931.

73.�Worker, 17 and 21 January, 1931.

74.�Pastoral Review, 16 March 1931, p. 296. For further details of the strike see ch. 9.

75.� Secretary’s Report, Minutes of the 4th Annual Conference of the PWIU, 1933, ML.

76.� Hearn and Knowles, One Big Union, pp. 176–179.

77.� Stuart Macintyre, The Reds, Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, NSW, 1998, p. 189; A. Davidson, The Communist Party of Australia: a Short History, Hoover Institution Press, California, 1969, p. 60.

78.� Frank Farrell, International Socialism and Australian Labor: the Left in Australia 1919–1939, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1981, p. 125; W. J. Brown, The Communist Movement and Australia: an Historical Outline 1890–1980s, Australian Labor Movement History Publications, Sydney, 1986, p. 68.

79.�Tribune, 2 December 1943.

80.� Davidson, The Communist Party of Australia, p. 63.

81.� Farrell, ADB, p. 324; Heather Radi and Peter Spearritt (eds), Jack Lang, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1977, pp. 38–48; McMullin, The Light on the Hill, pp.156, 171; Patrick Weller (ed.), Caucus Minutes (vol. 2, 1917–1931), Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic., 1975, pp. 421–422.

82.� Ralph Gibson, The People Stand Up, Red Rooster Press, Ascot Vale, Vic., 1983, p. 138.

83.� Farrell, ADB, p.324.

84.�Worker, 17 September 1914

85.� Gary Yukl, Leadership in Organizations (5th edn), Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 2002, p. 241.

86.� Jon L. Pierce and John W. Newstrom, Leaders and the Leadership Process (2nd edn), Irwin McGraw-Hill, New York, 2000, p. 75.

87.� Larry Terry, Leadership of Public Bureaucracies. The Administrator as Conservator, Sage Publications, London, 1995, p.61