7th February, 1929


(Due to arrive Canberra 7.3.29)

My Dear P.M.,

The Twelfth Session of the international Labour Conference opens at Geneva on May 30th. The Agenda is general and the selection of employers' and employees' representatives will, I imagine, take place about the time this letter reaches you.

The Thirteenth Session of the International Labour Conference opens at Geneva on October 10th, and the Agenda (copy of which I enclose) is concerned solely with maritime questions. I have had talks with Havelock Wilson (President of the National Seamen's Union) [1] here and he hopes very much that Tom Walsh will be selected as the employees' representative. In the circumstances and for obvious reasons this would be a good thing-as far as one can see from this end. I don't know whether it is possible for you to influence this in any way. There is a good deal of intrigue going on, I know, in the Seamen's Unions and, as it is put to me by Havelock Wilson, Tom Walsh is said to be fighting the forces of disruption on the one hand without very much assistance from the forces of reaction (the shipowners in Australia) on the other. [2] Still, Walsh was elected Secretary of the Australian Seamen's Union in the teeth of considerable opposition from the extremists, so presumably he has sufficient backing to ensure his selection for Geneva in October.

In the ordinary course of events I understand that, in selecting the employees' delegates on these conferences, you ask for nominations from the accepted central employees' body-probably the Trades and Labour Council, but as this particular conference is one which affects the maritime workers solely, it would seem to be a case in which these Unions only need to be consulted. But your local adviser will doubtless have views on this point.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 General President, National Sailors' and Firemen's Union; he died in April 1929.

2 An irony was that several years earlier Bruce had tried to have Walsh deported under the Commonwealth's immigration power as a troublemaker, but the High Court had held that, having migrated before federation, he was not subject to this power.