THE "NEW AUSTRALIA" SETTLE-
MENT IN PARAGUAY.
MR. GILBERT CASEY AT THE THEATRE
Mr. Gilbert Casey addressed a large audience in the Theatre Royal last evening, with the object of explaining the purposes of the pro- posed "New Australia" settlement in Paraguay. The chair was taken by Mr. T. Glassey, and there were on the platform several Labour members of the Legislative Assembly and some of the intending settlers.
The Chairman, in introducing the lecturer, apologised for the absence of the Rockhampton contingent of the intending emigrants, who had not yet arrived in Brisbane. Mr. Glassey also denied the statement which had appeared in the Press that he was going to Paraguay, although he knew some people in the colony would very much like to see him take his departure. He did not intend going yet, although he did not know what time and experience might bring forward. He knew there were as good and as honest men amongst the immigrants as himself, and personally he regretted very much that he was going to lose such good friends to the Labour cause. He
knew the movement was creating a great deal of interest, both in Australia and in the old country. Many great minds were en- deavouring to settle the great problem of putting the great mass of unemployed on the land. The present was a great and a noble venture, and if it did not succeed it certainly deserved to. (Applause.) At the same time he regretted very much that the venture had not been made in Australia. (Cheers.) At the same time he trusted such an endeavour would be made here ; but if the movement in Paraguay did succeed, then the lesson which would be taught would be one for the whole civilised world to study. (Applause.)
Mr. Casey said his endeavour was to lay before the meeting the aims and objects of the emigrants. They had been called cowards and deserters. That he denied. (Applause.) Cowards were never found on the side of the weaker party; they were generally found in the big battalions.
Another thing, those who termed them cowards were those who had never been in the front ranks of the battle, but those who had skulked behind, and who thought they might be called on to take the lead now. The issues in the present matter were greater than those con- nected with any movement he had ever taken part in before. There were 1600 people enrolled in their association, determined to go away to a new country; people who were risking their all. Were they cowards? (Applause.) In speaking of the subject he had
in hand he claimed to have made himself acquainted with Paraguay and with the aims and objects of Socialism. If what he said were not true, then he challenged their criticism. The meeting reminded him of the first meeting which he addressed in the Town Hall seven years ago, when a State-aided village settle- ment scheme was drafted and submitted to the Government. That was the first step towards the present Paraguayan scheme. Yet how were they met? Their politicians ignored them, and after battling with misery and desti- tution for seven long weary years, they were informed that it was not the province of the Government to settle the people on the land and to find work for the unemployed. (Applause.) It appeared to him that Sir Thomas M'Ilwraith wanted to keep the Government and the colony in his waistcoat pocket. He denied that the Labour party had altered their policy, and asserted that it had kept on the same line all the way through. It
was the Government which had altered its policy, now embracing the Labour policy which they had sneered at in the past. (Ap- plause.) He did not think the Government were sincere now, and he was content to be sneered at with regard to the Paraguayan scheme; for that was only following the prece- dent which had been created with regard to their village settlement scheme seven years ago. Had it been adopted then the present depres- sion would probably never have taken place. (Applause.) It was true there were various schemes all over the colony for the amelioration of the condition of the working classes. The emigrants were told they should stay here; but it seemed to him that the social reformers in the colony and elsewhere were very like the theologians, who believed that the brotherhood of man was quite right; but, believing that, they fought, and snarled, and quarrelled as to how it should be brought about.
(Applause.) They fought over the shadow and lost the substance. (Applause.) The Paraguay settlers were going to see whether they could not grasp the substance and practise those principles which all religions believed in, no matter what their doctrines. (Applause.) Every new movement had been sneered at and scorned. In Brisbane was not he in the early days scouted for pro- moting the Australian Labour Federa- tion scheme; but what was it now? In the first phase of the new settlers' existence they were met by ridicule. When they had got over that they were met with fighting, and the fighting usually took this form: misrepresentation of their aims. (Ap- plause.) When they overcame that they were told the people who were going were not fit. They were not fit, for instance, for one-man-one-vote; they did not know how to use it — M'Ilwraith did, but they did not. (Laughter and applause.) Mr. Casey referred at length to the criticisms which had appeared in a Sydney weekly journal. That paper had objected to the people who were going, the ship they were going in, the sun which would shine on them, the water they would float on, and the land they were going to. (Laughter.) They were taunted with going to Paraguay with the object of establishing a soup kitchen. (Laughter.) Well, they had that in Queens- land, and in New South Wales as well. (Hear, hear.) As to the ship they were going in being a small wooden one, did they think they were going to have a brass one with silk sails? That critic had better go with them to polish the handle of the big front door. (Laughter.) They were told the sun would rise every morning like the bald head of the devil-(laughter)-that it rose every morning at half-past 9 like a bad egg-(laughter)-and set at half-past 2 (laughter)-and that there were nineteen hours of darkness. That was criticism by the Radical newspaper of Australia! It was horrible. (Applause.) The principles of the new community, however, were what he wished to be attacked, but they had been let alone. They were going to establish an equal com- munism, with an equal distribution of the wealth production amongst the members of the community. They believed that laws should be made as necessity arose. Those laws would take the form of regulations, which would be revised every year. If that had been done in Queensland there would not have been the injustice they had seen and were still seeing. (Applause.) The opposition of the newspapers was doing them good. They wanted good people-men and women who were not afraid and not ignorant. Those they had obtained; but they were even now being weeded out by the action of the New South Wales Govern- ment and the delay which was taking place. As to the nature of the land to which they were going let them not take his word for granted, but go to some standard authority- the Encyclopædia Britannica, Chambers's
Encyclopædia, Whitaker's Almanac, Hazell's Annual, and such like works-and he main- tained they would all bear out the reports they had received from their paid and trusty agents. The information most Australians possessed with regard to South America was very much like that possessed by the aged mother in England who advertised in the "missing friends column" for her son, John Smith, who was at Billybong, Australia, and who subse- quently went to Sydney. (Laughter.) In South America they had a mighty conti- nent very little known. Only a fringe on the coast was settled. There was an inland continent surrounded by huge forests, but in the centre was Paraguay. They would have to travel 1000 miles up the Paraguay River to reach it. The soul of the
country to which they were going was of the richest possible description, well watered, and not subject to floods and droughts. They got the land free, and they had navigable water up to their doors. They could not get those ad- vantages in Australia-that was why they were going to Paraguay. As to the resources of the soil, he referred to the official reports of the country in Whitaker's Almanac for 1893 and Hazell's Year-book for the same year. "Harper's Miscellany" referred to Paraguay as situated within the most favoured region of South America. The " Encyolopædia Britan- nica" said the climate was moist and salu- brious. The temperature in Paraguay occasionally rose in summer to 100deg., and in the winter it went down to 46deg. Last summer the temperature in Brisbane during the summer went up to 99deg. and down to 37deg. They were told they were leaving the protection of the British Government. He was glad. (Laughter and applause.) The sooner Australia left it the better. (Applause.) The cant talked about the protection of the British flag, and the freedom enjoyed under it, made him sick. (Applause.) What was the freedom of the British Government doing for the unem- ployed at the present time? (Hear, hear.) What was it doing for the union prisoners? (Applause.) What was it doing for the tramway men who were working for starvation wages? (Applause.) In Paraguay they had a system of settlement by which as soon as there were fifty men banded together they were established into a commune, and could make their own laws. Another thing which caused them to go to Paraguay was the taxation which they were subjected to here. He and every- body in Australia were in pawn to the British capitalist, and he repudiated that by clearing out. (Applause.) Another thing they had to take into consideration was that the means of communication with markets was far better
than in Australia. For the disposition of their products they were only twenty-six days from London. The soil was prolific, and the reason why no capitalist had ever taken it up was that they could not get men to work, the means of livelihood to them were so easy. In the reign of one of the Lopez, an authority told them the food supply of the people had to be cut down in order to make the people work; but even then the supply grew so fast that they did not do very much. Under such circumstances as he had referred to failure
to his mind seemed impossible. They were taking the best machinery which was necessary for their purposes. They had been told the new settlers could not agree. Well, he had seen men have to agree for a "boss," and he thought they could agree for themselves. (Applause.) In conclusion Mr. Casey said they had more applications than they could deal with at the present time, and the promoters bad decided to put a premium of £10 on each child. That arrangement was one which could be afterwards rescinded if necessary, but it had been done for this reason. Australia was
in a bit of a fix at the present time, and the promoters feared a panic. People who were so influenced were the people they did not want. (Hear, hear.) In every man's and every woman's heart, he believed, there was some good. The promoters of the new settlement believed that what was wrong was not so much the material conditions which surrounded men and women. It was not so much the sorrow and destitution and misery which was wrong- not the more material misery. There was some- thing wrong which underlaid it all. The man who was rich was not happy. It seemed to him they could not get the happiness desired in the present form of civilisation. Every man's hand was against his neighbour's. (A laugh.) They might smile, but that was so. Everyone had thousands arrayed against him. That made them desire to have a better state of things. In every man's heart there was a feeling that something was wrong; and that something was a feeling of sympathy and fellowship. (Applause). It was impossible to obtain it under the civilisation of the present day. It was something higher they were struggling for than they could at present
obtain. As long as they worshipped the god of
mammon so long would this state of things continue. There was something higher which appealed to them, and that was the God of humanity. (Applause.) What man or woman dared on the morrow to do what they thought and believed to be right and just? If he were a workman, his boss would get rid ot him, and if he were a tradesman the bank would come down on him. Whatever condition of life they took there were none who were free. There was no pleasure or sympathy in life, because they were cut adrift by the laws of profit and loss; the law of supply and demand, as it was called. (Applause.) Their lives and their conditions were regulated by the standard of gold and silver, and not by the standard of humanity. That was what they were going to New Australia to do away with. (Applause.) They believed it was possible to live together on better terms of relationship. He believed it was possible. He felt capable of it himself, and he knew there were many men and women who were better than he. Every man who looked within himself would recognise a desire for friendship and sympathy, and the men who practised it would find that they were repaid a hundredfold. Thorough happiness was not to be gained by self-gratification. He believed he had the most happiness who sacri- ficed himself for some one else. (Applause.) They were told what they were practising was socialism and communism, and that what they proposed would not bear analysis. He was content with that criticism, for he knew what they proposed appealed every time to the human heart, and every great deed which they saw recorded in history sprang from such a feeling. (Applause.) He believed the move- ment was the movement of the century, and that the result which it would accomplish would prove that there was something better behind their human nature than their critics said there was. (Applause.)
Mr. Casey replied to numerous questions which were put to him by members of the audience. He said the form of government which existed in Paraguay was that of an in- dependent republic, modelled on the Swiss con- stitution. It was no more a Spanish Govern- ment than the Queensland Government was an English Government-not so much, in fact. A member of the audience asked whether there were any banking institutions in Paraguay. The questions caused some laughter, and Mr. Glassey replied that he presumed the questioner meant banks on the same lines as those in Queensland. Mr. Casey replied that there were three banks. The first was a State or national bank. The other two were in about the same position as those in Queens- land-in the hands of British investors. There was a considerable difference, however, between Paraguay and Queensland, in the fact that the national debt of Paraguay amounted to only 16s. per capita, while in Queensland they paid £8 10s. If the questioner went to Paraguay he would find that he saved £7 14s. per annum, and that without doing any work. (Laughter and applause.) Replying to other questions, Mr. Casey said the new settlers had no fear of attack from the surrounding States. If they were attacked internally they had their own resources to look to. In his opinion, they had been too much accustomed to rely on protec- tion from the Government, but at the same time he had always found it very useful to be strong in
the right arm. (Laughter and applause.) Amongst the settlers they proposed to have a paper currency for their own use. The English language would be used amongst them- selves, but for the purpose of communication with the natives some of their number had already learnt the native tongue. No matter if an intending settler were possessed of £600 he had to put the whole of it into the common fund, and arriving in Paraguay he was not possessed of more authority than the man who had only put in £60. It was the curse of gold which had been the ruin here. It was the man whom they wanted and not the money he might possess. (Applause.)
The proceedings concluded with a hearty vote of thanks to Mr. Glassey for presiding.
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