The Ministry of Men

Henry Lawson, 1904

      We worked for more than twenty years and waited in the west —
      There was not one Australian name that stood above the rest —
      And still we fought and still we hoped and preached with tongue and pen
      That time would bring a leader and a Ministry of men.

      We worked for Nationality beyond the furthest run,
      And humbugs claimed the credit for the work that we had done;
      And bounders sought to profit by the spirit rising then,
      While all Australia called as one for leaders and for men.

      More rotten grew each government that smirched Australia's name;
      They hounded true Australians down and sunk the flag in shame —
      They sent her sons to deeds of blood and wrong beyond our ken,
      But time was gathering one by one a government of men.

      They scattered pamphlets broadcast, they preached old things as new,
      They held their monster meetings and they mixed the false and true,
      Till unsexed women shrieked and fought with slander vile, and then
      The time was right for Watson and his Ministry of men.

      God give them strength to keep their foes and followers in hand
      For the welfare of Australia and the future of the land;
      And if the Government should fall 'twill fall to rise again,
      And serve the South for many years - a parliament of men.

      They've taught a lesson that shall last while shines the Southern Star —
      For they have proved how pitiful trade politicians are;
      How abject, mean, and powerless the gang of humbugs when
      They're placed beside a Statesman born, backed up by honest men.

      Time-serving toadies shamed us long — 'twas crawl beneath a crawl —
      Till England's best had but contempt or pity for us all;
      But Lady Vere de Vere hath bowed, and sons of earldoms ten,
      With sons of Adam, raise their hats to Watson and his men.

      I dreamed it twenty years ago — a dream of destiny —
      The pictures from a future grand flashed back at night to me,
      In faces bent beneath the hod or by the shearing pen,
      I pictured men like Watson and his Ministry of men.