Australian Folk Songs

songs | books | records | articles | glossary | links | search | responses | home

The Workman's Goal (1911)

A local resident sends the following:--

What does the workman want? He wants his own,
His honest share of what his hands produce.
He craves no charity, and begs no bone--
But only asks for freedom from abuse.

What does the workman want? He wants good will:
But not at cost of justice and of life;
Not if it means that he must needs be still,
While others rob his babies and his wife.

What does the workman want? He wants fair play--
And equal rights and equal chance for all;
And privilege for none to steal and slay,
Or force his weaker brother, to the wall.

The workman wants the reign of common sense;
He wants the true democracy of man;
Nor any patronage, nor all pretence
Will hold him long to any other plan.

The common welfare is the workman's goal;
The common, use of all the common wealth;
The common rights of every common soul;
And common access to the springs of health.


From the NSW Newspaper the Lithgow Mercury Oct 1911 p. 3.

This spikey anti establishment verse was later published in 1924 by the
Australian Railways Union in the "Railway Union Gazette" with an added two verses:--

What does the workman want? He wants his right,
Against the vain traditions of the law,
Against the sophistries of age and might,
Against religion's oft mistaken awe.

And everyone a worker by and by,
His own employer, his own king and priest,
Nor any rich nor poor, nor low nor high,
When all the world monopolies have ceased.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory