Labour History & Unionism


Australia has a long history of socialist thought including the publication of newspapers and magazines produced by the Left.
Those interested in this subject are advised to refer to Warren Fahey’s two books on the subject: ‘The Balls of Bob Menzies’ and its later revised edition ‘Ratbags & Rabblerousers’

Select the Collected Material to view the words available
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COLLECTED MATERIAL TUNE FIRST LINE COMMENT
What I Think of Australia I sing of Australia, that dear little land, Australian Melodist No 20
Mitchell library 784.8/A
By Pat Finn

This song seems to be a song about the trials of the working man. It must be seen in relation to the time it was written, around the 1890 mark when the great shearer’s strike led to the establishment of the Australian Labor Party. It then, in the latter part of the song, goes into comparing workers with leading sporting heroes. Check the Sports section of the site to see who these people are.

Song of Europe (anon) Sing a Song of Sixpence Sing a song of Europe, highly civilized, Printed in THE IRON WORKER
Vol1 No 4 1928
(331.8806/72 )

Newspaper of the NSW A Branch of Federated Ironworkers Assoc.

unnamed 2 lines Not a minute on the day
Not a penny off our pay
THE IRON WORKER
Vol 1 No 5. 1929
The Scab Appeared in THE IRONWORKER written by Jack London
Ten Little Kanaka Boys Ten Green Bottles Ten little kanaka boys were up-ending pine, This song was printed in theQueensland Figaro Magazine at the turn of the century. Morrison is possibly a reference to the famous fisticuff boxer who appears in several ballads, notably as ‘Morrissey and the Russian Sailor’ or, equally possible, a reference to the outstanding shearer of the time whose grandchildren went on to establish the Morrison Clothing Company.
Nursery Rhyme for Squatters Nursery rhyme for young squatters
Will Lochrane’e Scotch Stump Speech(VOTE FOR LABOUR.) LADIES and gentlemen,—Kindly turn your optics toward me for a few weeks, IMPERIAL SONGSTER NO. 97 – 1907
This stump speech most probably comes from the Sydney Tivoli and can be dated at the time Australia became Federated because of its mention of George Read. It is typical of the genre and should be compared with two other stump speeches from the period as recalled by Joe Watson – refer Australian Folklore Unit under Watson.

I can only surmise that ‘Scotch’ was the equivalent of our ‘double-Dutch’.

I Wonder Who Invented Work? This world I have searched over, I’ve been in every land, Printed in the Imperial Songster No. 169 in 1924 and attributed to Claude Baker, Jack Veil and Roy Burch. It was performed ‘with laughable absurdity’ by Alfred Frith.
Just Tell Them That You Saw Me Parody: Just Tell Them That You Saw Me I’ve just come back from Europe This must have been a popular tune at the turn of the century as it was collected from both Susan Colley and Sally Sloan in the 1950s. This parody of the song was remarked by T. E. Leonard and was printed in the Tivoli Songster of 1900.
The Gum Tree Wih Six Branches Australia’s On The Wallaby I roamed the bush one summer’s eve, while wattle trees were blooming This song was sung at the Tivoli Music Hall about 1910 and the words are attributed to Walter P. Keen with music by that old trouper, Joe Salter. The tune has been suggested by Warren Fahey who unearthed the song in 1979. The gumtree now has eight branches with the addition of the Northern Territory and the ACT. A recorded version appears on the 2MBS-FM record Ryder Round Folk, Sydney.
It’s a Long Way Down the Soup-Line It’s a Long Way to Tipperary Bill Brown was just a working man like others of his kind. Anonymous parody from the Depression. This song was collected from swagman Jack Pobar of Toowoomba, Queensland, who had leant it off a socialist songbook of the 1930s
Charlie Sullivan.
The Number One Ticket Holder
(poem) Charlie Sullivan is dead, Charles Sullivan was the first member to join the Amalgamated Workers Union holding membership card number 1 dated 1886.

The document, from Wagga Wagga, was written by Tim Sullivan. Charles died in 1942 and this handwritten poem was written by him to celebrate the death of the Union’s Secretary and Tim changed the name to Charles as a dedication.
Microfilm

The Union Of The People Marching Through Georgia Sound the unions’ cry over sea and land, By C. Drake and from an undated manuscript in the Mitchell Library, SYDNEY
Union to the Core We are shearers, and not wealthy; By The Dipsomaniac
THE BULLETIN
April 25. 1891

Several of the words of this song appear to have disappeared from colloquial use.
store = money in the pocket/reserve.
gatling = a type of rifle/gun.
Pooches = possibly derivative of pouches.
Moocheys = I suspect this is a reference to dogs.

Sogers = an Irish derivative of soldiers.
Gunny = this could be a derivative of gunyah but also possibly of ‘gun-moll’ or loose woman.

The Working Man’s Candidate stump speech Gentlemen: I stands before yer, as a candidate, to represent yer in the big talking shop, at the top of George Street. This nonsense speech is typical on these nineteenth century recitations. It also brings in racist comments against Chinese, Kanakas and Emigrants.