Solidarity Forever

Chapter Fourteen


Michael Patrick Considine was another outstanding man who disproved the common idea that "every man has his price". Mick Considine was a fine stamp of man, over 6 foot, intelligent, studious, a fluent speaker and a man of principle. Considine's part before, during and after the war was courageous. He was arrested and sentenced on numerous occasions for "disloyal utterances", "flying the red flag" and similar.

Mick Considine against the Coercion Act

Postcard featuring Mick Considine and others "jailed for protesting against the Coercion Act". This resulted from a demonstration in Sydney in 1910 against state industrial legislation.

He was born in Ireland and came here at the age of five years. He lived in Kempsie, N.S.W. He was working on the trams and was active in the 1908 strike. For his efforts he got two weeks' gaol and was barred from the trams for life.

He then proceeded to Broken Hill and got a job as a greaser. He worked underground and above-ground. Active in the AMA he was elected president from January 1915 to July 1917, a record at that time, of 5 half-yearly terms. In the meantime, on May 5th, 1917 he was elected to the Federal Parliament under the ALP banner. He scraped in with a majority of 13. There was no preference system, but when this was introduced he romped in at the next election.

Mick Considine

Mick Considine

In 1920 three Independent Labor Party candidates ran against three ALP men in the State Elections. Amongst these three was Percy Brookfield who had always been to the left of the ALP. He retained his seat under the ILP banner.

The ALP did its best to involve Considine, as an ALP representative, to fight against Brookfield and the other two ILP candidates. Prior to the election campaign the AMA had asked Considine to go to Tasmania, as a miners' delegate, to collect money for Barrier strikers.

He subsequently received a letter from W. Carey, General Secretary, ALP in the State of NSW dated 21st January asking him to be at the disposal of the CE for campaign work in the coming State Election. Considine replied that he was going to Tasmania. He then received a letter dated 24th February, signed by Ex-Senator Grant on behalf of the campaign committee saying: "The campaign committee has carefully noted the contents of your letter dated 29th January. It is of the opinion that you should be at least one week in the Sturt electorate before the 19th prox. Kindly, let me know by return mail if you are prepared to do so."

W. Carey under date 25th February wrote: "I am directed by my executive to ask that you proceed to Sturt at the very earliest moment, in order to take part in the campaign there, on behalf of the 3 selected and endorsed labor candidates. Owing to the disturbed state of the political world in Broken Hill it is most necessary that every assistance possible be given to our candidates for Sturt. Trusting that you will give this letter your urgent attention, and thanking you in anticipation."

Considine replied: "It is not my intention to take the platform against men whom I believe to be fully bona fide labour men, and whose work in the labour movement in this country constitutes a record of which any member of the party might well be proud. I regret that the disinclination of the executive to take any steps in the direction of healing the unfortunate breach existing in the ranks of labour in the Sturt electorate, forces upon me the very disagreeable task of choosing between participating in the commission of an act of grave injustice on Messrs. Brookfield and O'Reilly, or of placing myself in direct opposition to the expressed wishes of the executive. I have decided that I will not go to Sturt . . ."

In response to this he received a wire "If you cannot come to Hill, wire wishing success to official labor party candidates," signed "Huckell, Assembly ALP."

On the 19th March, the day before the election Considine received a wire from the Barrier Daily Truth as follows: "Huckell has received wire signed Considine Haymarket, Sydney, wishing success official labor party. Wire reply immediately if this is genuine. Urgent."

Reply read: "Any telegram, letter or message from Sydney with my name attaching thereto is a forgery. I have not been in Sydney since January."

Mick Considine

Mick Considine, seated (others not identified).

Considine had Post Office detectives enquire into the whole matter with the sole result that the PMG Department on 12th August stated: "While suspicion points strongly to one source as that from which the telegram came, sufficient evidence has not been obtained to enable a charge to be proved." The evidence was that an Underwood typewriter in ALP Headquarters had the same peculiar characteristics as was displayed in the typing on the telegram form.

Considine raised the whole matter in Parliament to the discomfort of the ALP. The Argus November 19th announced Mick Considine's retirement from the ALP. He sent a statement to the General Secretary pointing out his dissatisfaction with the ALP's failure to give a decision to his charges. He, like Brookfield, was too radical for the ALP and it was glad to dispose of them both.

In July, Considine had written to Jock Garden, then secretary of the One Big Union:

Dear Comrades,

I desire to tender my sincere congratulations to your Council on launching the OBU and trust that no effort will be spared to endeavour to make it a potent protest instrument in the task of working class emancipation. I am confident that industrialism generally will greet with enthusiasm the new organisation, and hasten to link up their respective departments now that a definite beginning has been made, so that we shall be enabled to build up a working class movement worthy of joining hands with our comrades of the Moscow Third International in waging relentless war on the common enemy, until we also can proudly point to a Workers' Republic, as a worthy member of a league of free peoples. I desire to do whatever I can to aid the cause, I place my services at the disposal of the OBU to be utilised as it deems best in the interests of the movement.

He stood as an independent at the next elections but was defeated.

In 1954 he was guest of honour at Broken Hill May Day. Mick settled in Melbourne and there lived an active political life.

The book Solidarity Forever! is Copyright © the estate of Bertha Walker 1972.

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