The Prospectus of the
Miners' Protective League
[The Miners' Protective League was established in Lambing Flat in 1861, following the Lambing Flat Rebellion]
The neglect indifference and apathy shown by the government of New South Wales about everything appertaining to the mining interest has been so great, so culpable, and unjust that it is now thought absolutely necessary that a society should be formed which would devote itself exclusively to the discussion, agitation, and removal of the numerous grave obstacles at present impeding and obstructing the progress and prosperity of the working classes.
Chinese on the goldfield
Complaints have been repeatedly made to the government of the many various injuries that Europeans have sustained from the presence of such vast masses of the Chinese upon the different goldfields of the colony - it has been represented over and over again how they waste an extraordinary quantity of water, which is actually necessary to the regular miners for the successful prosecution of their arduous pursuits, this wanton waste often occurring in places where water is as precious as gold, for gold cannot be procured without it - that they filthy and destroy water set aside for domestic purposes, and fill up holes with tailings and sludge which would pay the ordinary digger moderate wages besides rising up and destroying immense quantities of auriferous ground, which would afford an independent means of subsistence to thousands of civilised men in future years, for it must be borne in mind that these holes were the work of Europeans and many of them were only abandoned for a time, perhaps on account of some new rush which seemed to hold out a prospect of a better class of ground being obtainable. It has been explained that the present desolate and insolvent state of the old goldfields of the colony is solely due to the admission of such overwhelming numbers of this abominable race into the country, and that it is impolitic and unjust to the working classes that a labor market already overstocked should be glutted by the importation of such hordes of a hostile race, whose habits and customs are repugnant to all civilised men, and who are tainted with a terrible and dangerous disease.
Six thousand miners congregated upon the Burrangong goldfields are not considered by the government of this great progressive colony of New South Wales to be deserving of a regular postal communication.
We have only a nominal police protection.
Our gold is taxed.
Our public lands are locked up in such a way that no poor man can buy them.
We also contribute towards the upholding of ministers of the Gospel, and yet we have no place of public worship. It will therefore be one of the main objects of the Miners' Protective League that the Word of God shall be promulgated throughout the mining districts of this colony.
The banner of the White miners during the Lambing
Flat Rebellion: "No Chinese, Roll Up, Roll Up"
And lastly, a diggings discovered and developed by European enterprise is exposed to the incursions of a swarm of Mongolian locusts who have forced us to fly with our wives and families from all the other diggings in the country until we are obliged to turn at bay upon this our last resting-place - our only hope of establishing a homestead - and drive the moon-faced barbarians away.
The government has been dead to all our complaints; the welfare, prosperity and happiness of a lot of adventurers was not thought worth their attention or consideration, and a body of laborious and industrious men - the bone and sinew of the colony - are neglected, their interests uncared for, by those whose duty it is to be their guardians and protectors. Therefore it behoves the miners to take immediate steps to secure a few of the benefits to which they can lay just claim.
A well-founded conviction being gradually forced upon the diggers of the colony, that unless the mining community take some decided course to obtain the privileges, rights, and benefits that they are entitled to, they deserve to be under the curse of that neglect. Believing that complaints may be made until doomsday without any beneficial results, they have felt it their duty to adopt a clear, resolute and united plan of action and after due deliberation the idea of a Miners' Protective League was decided upon.
Representation Based on Population
The representation of the mining community in Parliament has been always overlooked by the legislators of this colony. The southern miners, with a population of about twelve thousand, is represented by only one member, whereas several pastoral districts with a population of less than two hundred returns two members. Consequently the Miners' Protective League calls upon every miner to join the League and unite in order that their voices may be heard within the walls of the Assembly.
Protection to Native Industry
In looking at the depressed state of the labor market, we see a great number of tradesmen not able to get employment, all through the introduction of goods manufactured in the prisons of the United States and Great Britain. It will, therefore, be the duty of the League to agitate and petition Parliament about the desirability of at once imposing an import duty on all such goods imported into this country.
Troopers attack the White miners
Objects of the Miners' Protective League
The objects of the Miners' Protective League are to organise and unite all the great labouring classes - the mining community - in fact, every member of the great working body - in one grand harmonious confederation, having the same objects in view, and pursuing the same line of conduct for their accomplishment, the members of the League being all governed by the same rules and entitled to the same benefits.
The Purposes to which the Funds of the League may be Devoted
As the business of a public body cannot be conducted without expense, it was found necessary that a fund should be raised in the following manner. Every person on becoming a member of the Miners' Protective League to pay two shillings and sixpence entrance money, and one shilling per month. A portion of the money to be expended in building places where the League can hold its meetings, in paying for printing, postage of letters, payment of secretary, etc. The members of the League have also considered it would be their duty to use a portion of the funds of the League in procuring proper medical assistance for any member of the society who may require such assistance.
Duty of Members of the Miners' Protective League
As it frequently happens that a considerable number of men are collected upon new rushes particularly in a very short space of time, and it being impossible for the proper authorities to be on the ground at a moment's notice, it will be the duty of the members of the Miners' Protective League to use their utmost energies to preserve order and to protect the property, and rights of every individual, and to seize, secure, and hand over to the government authorities any thief, robber, or ruffian who violates the laws of the country.
We invite men of all nations, except Chinamen, to enrol themselves as members of the League and lastly we call upon every man whose spirit yearns for equality, fraternity and glorious liberty. Let us then unite, organise and go hand in hand in our grand struggle for the advancement of our race - let us lift up our voices and exclaim, "Fairplay to all", in one grand harmonious shout that will be echoed from the north to the south, from the east to the west, until the deafening sound is responded to by an acknowledgement of our rights as freeborn men, the descendents and patriots of all the world.
The Miner and General Advertiser (Lambing Flat), 3 December 1861
This document is an extract from A Documentary History of the Australian Labor Movement 1850-1975, edited by Brian J. McKinlay (Richmond, Victoria, 1979), pages 323-325. The Prospectus was reprinted in Communist Review, July 1939, pp. 413-415.
The Association for the Advancement of Australian Culture