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Our Sea Of Sugarcane (1927)

A Song of Job Control (By UNCLE JAMES).

At a dinner given to him by the Sugar Manufacturers' Association in North Queensland, the Prime Minister
(Mr. Bruce) was told that he was the greatest sugar manufacturer present. It was owing to his efforts, the
chairman said, that tlie whole of the north coast of Queensland, from Isis to Mosman, was one sea of sugar
cane. Referring to the strike at the South Johnstone sugar mill, the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs
(Senator Crawford) said that it was merely a case of job control. There is no need to fear a sugar shortage.
It is estimated that there will be a surplus this year of 130,000 tons.--News item.

Innisfail ! Innisfail ! Where they strike and--fight and rail--
It is only just an island, sticking out above that sea ;
If they sound extremely cranky, full of wicked swears and blanky,
It is just the Queensland climate, making language frank and free !
In the land where the Kanaka used to earn his stick of 'bacca,
Lo, the white man lifts the burden from his hot, perspiring soul ;
And he does it, sirs, by striking--when the world's not to his liking
He goes soaring like a rocket, spitting sparks of job-control !

* * * *

Sugarcane ! Sugarcane ! Land of heat and tropic rain--
Where accursed flying saw-mills called mosquitoes fill the air ;
When the people in the South taste good sugar in their mouth,
Let them thank the Queensland workers, though they curse and strike and swear !
From the Isis to the Mossman every living soul's a cross man--
It's the climate sets them raging, flaming red around the gills ;
Sugar's sweet, but perspiration gets the darned stuff to the station--
Oh ! the language, sirs, is shocking in the Queensland sugar-mills !

Job-control ! Job-control ! How the nouns and adverbs roll--
How they tear the night asunder with the thunder of their swears ;
Ah ! the wicked man up North--he's a vessel filled with wrath ;
But when Bruce arrives they hear him with most deferential airs !
That's the quaintest thing about it--when they're mad they simply shout it--
Nay, you'll hear no beg-your-pardons and excuse-mes from that lot ;
But they'll quieten down instanter, and they'll pass the best decanter--
Underneath the strikes and swearing, if you'll mention that it's hot !

* * * *

Innisfail ! Innisfail ! When the beer is cold and pale,
How the wildest and the fiercest clasp your hand with friendly fists?
They're the Bolshies--they're the fellows with the red, volcanic bellows--
Aye, the climate makes the madmen and the raging Communists !
When that sea of sugarcane gets the thund'rous tropic rain,
Then the language starts in Queensland, and red lightning fills each soul ;
But beneath it all they're human--when the wildest strikes are boomin' !
They are merely letting steam off in the shape of Job-Control !


From the Sydney newspaper the Sunday Times 14 August 1927, p. 9.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory