Friday, March 26, 2010

Matthew Charlton

Matthew Charlton was a leader of the Labor Party. I think he came right after Frank Tudor. For a moment there, I couldn't remember Tudor's name. Oops.

Lord Wiki says that Charlton was the Labor Party Leader from 1922 to 1928. I guess he got in after Tudor died. Scullin replaced him in 1928, and soon after became Prime Minister.

Baby Matthew was born in Linton, Victoria on 15 March 1866. I think he was the same age as Tudor. Wasn't his birth year 1866?

Okay, yes. I just checked. Tudor was just a couple of months older than Charlton.

I'm going to go to Google Maps and find Linton. It's right near Ballarat...about forty-five minutes to the south-west.

When Charlton was about five, his family moved to Lambton, New South Wales. That's a suburb in Newcastle. It was a coal-mining area, and after Charlton finished with primary school at Lambton Public School, he worked in the mines. I guess he was a bit like Joseph Cook.

Lord Wiki says that Charlton was a coal trapper. This was a job specifically for children. It involved opening a trap door, when the coal and it's transporters came zooming by.

In his early twenties, Charlton got married.

Like most Labor politicians I've researched, Charlton's political life began with union stuff. In 1896, plans were announced to reduce coal worker's wages. Understandably, people were upset about this. Charlton joined the fight, and unfortunately they lost. He left the coal-mining world for awhile, and did gold stuff in Kalgoorlie. Around two years later, he returned to New South Wales.

In 1903, Charlton joined the New South Wales Legislative Assembly with the seat of Waratah. Then for some reason he was transfered to Northumberland. I don't think I've ever heard of a transfer like that.

During his time in local politics, Charlton continued to work in defense of miners. Although it doesn't really seem that he had much luck with any of that. Lord Wiki says, Charlton was unsuccessful in gaining better conditions for the miners but he did settle the dispute, talking to miners around the state and convincing them to return to work. That's kind of sad.

In 1910, Charlton went Federal. He got the seat of Hunter, which is now the seat of Joel Fitzgibbon. Edmond Barton was the first to have that seat.

In the several years, Charlton served under Fisher, Cook, Hughes, and then Tudor. Then in 1922, he got to be the leader. He never won an election though, and never got to be Prime Minister.

This is kind of interesting. Lord Wiki says Charlton was against conscription, yet he voted for Hughes' conscription legislation to show loyalty. Why would he do that? He also defended Hughes against attacks. Did he like Hughes as a person, and stuck up for him for those reasons? Or was it some kind of political move?

I respect loyalty, but I think it's more important to stick by one's principles. Although I think you can do both, in a way. You can be loyal by not abandoning a friend or colleague...remaining friends with them despite your differences. But I don't think you have to vote for something you don't believe in.

I have friends that are Republican, and I wouldn't abandon them because of their political beliefs. But I wouldn't vote a certain way to make them happy, or give my time or money to one of their Republican causes.

Lord Wiki says that as leader, Charlton lost the election because of illness. He couldn't do enough campaigning. Although there's no proof he would have won if healthy.

In 1924, Charlton went to the Geneva Conference. He was very anti-war by this time, and wanted Australia to sign the Geneva Protocol. This would prohibit poisonous gases and biological warfare. Australia wouldn't sign it. Charlton lost that battle.

I'm trying to find out more about this Protocol, who signed it and all that. This website says that some countries said they'd see it as ceasing to be binding if other countries used chemical/biological weapons on them first. I guess that makes sense....sort of. I guess it's how nuclear war works. We won't hit you if you don't hit us. I guess nuclear weapons would count as chemical weapons.

Although if I'm reading this right, it looks like many countries have removed this condition. This includes Australia. Other countries that have withdrawn the reservation include: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Mongolia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

My damn country hasn't changed it. Oh well, maybe Obama will work on that now that the health thing is somewhat fixed.

It looks like the first country to remove the conditions was Ireland. I'm very impressed with them.

Now I'm going to look at the Australian Biographical Dictionary. Maybe I shall learn something new there.

Charlton's father was a miner from Durham, England. I wonder when he came to Australia.

There's no mention of siblings here, and this usually is mentioned. Maybe Charlton was an only child?

Charlton was an advocate for nationalization of the coal-mining industry. I guess this means he wanted uniform laws and wages? Supposedly, the competition between mines across Australia contribute to lower wages. I don't really understand that. I would think the competition would cause higher wages? Although maybe the competition was in selling coal, and not with hiring workers. Although I'd still think one would lead to the other. From what I know of modern business, companies compete for both customers and employees. Or am I wrong about that?

Anyway, the mine nationalization thing didn't go through. It was seen as being too radical.

I'm sure the scene with Hughes walking out was a spectacular one. Charlton started off defending Hughes. But when Hughes walked out, Charlton wasn't one of those who joined him. He stayed behind, and supported Tudor. Parliament is full of drama. Who needs soap operas?

Charlton died in December 1948....a few months before my mom was born. He would have been about eighty-two when he died.

I think this is going to be another short post.