Politics – Liberal Party (1947-1949)
Along with my friend Bert Cutten I had joined the Liberal Party in 1947 and attended meetings and also luncheons at Boans to hear well-known speakers on politics and the economy. As I recall our State President then was J L Paton. I was not able to attend regularly as the shop came first but my interest in the Liberals and their forward-looking policies became keener and finally led me into a future that I had never envisaged for myself at the time. Robert Menzies’ statement that the new Liberal party he had formed must not be beholden to the interests of big business drew my attention as a good point. It meant that the old UAP policies were on the way out, but it then obligated the Liberals to raise and control their own monies. The writing was on the wall for the Chifley Labor Government despite their win in 1946 and the Liberals were looking to the 1949 elections to give them the mandate to take over the running of the country.
A local branch of the Liberal and Country League was formed while we were at Belmont and I became the first Secretary (later Pres?). Our President was Mr. Rumble. We were in the Swan electorate and our Liberal candidate was William (Bill) Grayden. On election day 10th December 1949, Joan and I were manning the local hall at the corner of Wright Street and Belmont Avenue to give out polling information, e.g the nearest polling booth (not at “our” hall), check roll enquiries, give out Lib/CP how-to-vote cards etc. The Labor Party candidate was Harry Webb. Well, Mr Webb turned up, took one look at our set-up outside the hall, and putting it mildly he gave us a burst about canvassing for votes outside a polling booth, which broke the then rules. We gently told him that this hall was not a polling booth so he said something to himself and was off. Our man, Bill Grayden, won the seat for the Liberal/Country Party. Neither Harry Webb nor myself knew that nine years later we would meet again, in the electorate of Stirling, and in different circumstances far from my mind in 1949.
Politics – Liberal Party (1957-1958)
1957 was a year that changed our lives in several ways. We were members of the Liberal Party since our days at Belmont and 1957 saw the formation of a branch in Yokine. The first meeting was at Tuart Hill State School. A good roll up. There the Mt Yokine/Tuart Hill Branch was duly formed as at 26th August 1957. The Secretary and Treasurer appointment came my way and the Presidency to Max Clark/Bob Ward(?). The guest speaker for this occasion was Arthur Griffiths MLC. We were good friends over the years. He was MLA for Canning 1950/1953 when he switched over to the Legislative Council in 1953. In May 1974 he was elected President of the Legislative Council. He retired in May 1977. I remember walking along the Terrace with him one day expressing my concern for the future of the Baltic countries and the heavy Russian attitude to independence for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. What was being done about it? Arthur listened with interest and expressed the view that the best place to have that question answered would be in the Federal Parliament. Some months later I was to recall his remarks and express my views at one or two Liberal Party meetings. That opportunity came when I stood for endorsement as the Liberal Party candidate for the Federal seat of Stirling then held by the ALP member, C.H. Webb, since 1955. The seat was created in 1955.
Politics – Liberal Party, Election (1958)
1958 was the year that changed our lives forever. Late in 1957 I had agreed to submitting my name for consideration as a Liberal Country League candidate for the seat of Stirling at the November 1958 Federal Election. Later I had to line up with several other candidates at the Stirling Division temporary meeting place, the Mount Hawthorn Kindergarten. All candidates had to address the meeting and answer many questions. Finally I was selected as the Division’s candidate for recommendation to the State Council of the Liberal Party. The Divisional President at the time was George Branson, later to be a Senator for WA. The Secretary was Hughie O’Doherty. The Divisional Staff Officer was Owen Regan. The Stirling Division recommendation went to the State Council on 10 March 1958 and on 30 April I was advised by letter from the State Secretary that the State Council had endorsed me as the Liberal Country League candidate for Stirling electorate.
Document – Minutes of the First Annual General Correspondence of the Stirling Division. Source: Doug Cash Collection
The West Australian (30/4/58) broke the news to the public.
NEWSAGENT TO OPPOSE C.H. WEBB
The Liberal and Country League has endorsed Earl Douglas Cash (38), a St. George’s Terrace newsagent, as its candidate to oppose sitting Labor member C. H. Webb for the Stirling seat in the House of Representatives.
The State President of the League, F.A. Johnston, said yesterday that the State Council of the League had re-endorsed Territories Minister Paul Hasluck for Curtin, G. Freeth for Forrest, F. C. Chaney for Perth and R. Cleaver for Swan.
What a busy day we had. Customers and friends were wishing me well throughout the day. One or two probably went amiss that day because of their strong views on other philosophies, and that was fair enough. There were several telephone calls from businessmen around town and especially from ex-members of the RAAF in the suburbs and the country. Requests for a full profile with photos came from the local and national press. Expected date for the election was not yet fixed but it was expected to be November or December. (November 22nd was polling day).
The Stirling Division of the Liberal Party went into action now that they had a named candidate to help and promote at every opportunity. Plans were made for publicity, letterbox literature distribution, polling day rosters, and street corner meetings. Branches accepted responsibility for their areas but co-operated with our district organiser Owen Regan. All branch and Division meetings had to be attended to unless I was at some public function. Even then you would try to attend both meetings. Precise timing was the key then. Being late at a Stirling committee was alright if you were attending a community meeting. You had to balance up. Closer to the elections you had to be everywhere at once. As the polling day got nearer you had to take every opportunity to talk to the residents of the electorate, at their front doors or at hall meetings.
Door to door calling was essential for a candidate in those days. The personal touch helped but no guarantee of a vote in your favour. You answered any questions and left your cards: “the people next door are Liberals”, “they are out in the house on the corner”. Most people were polite and took your card but others would just say “we’re Labor here mate”. Most Laborites would take your card but not all of them. So I made some ground. Much of the Stirling area was in tough country. Bassendean, Midland and up to Koongamia at one end, Nollamara and Osborne Park in the middle, and Innaloo near the west. Door knocking, hand shaking and getting your card into their hand. All very necessary. Later, when we knew the polling date we would do more letterbox drops with a new pamphlet. At that time we were planning to get set for street corner meetings and using our mobile PA system as well.
What about your family life and your business life when you are a political campaigner? That is a story in itself. We all lived with Joan’s Mum and Dad at 6 Fletcher Street, Yokine. Lynnette (11) and Pamela (going on 10) were at Tuart Hill School and doing well. We had no problems there. Lucy and Arthur Moore, my in-laws, were very helpful indeed. It was their house. We had all moved here to this address where Joan and I live today. The lounge was fairly large and we sat our people here for Liberal Party meetings. Our Liberal Party leaders visiting our local area in my campaigns could take a breather here. It was the Moores who welcomed them. Hubert Opperman was one. I had met him early in life when I rode in a Malvern Star Schoolboys Championship out at Welshpool.
Branch meetings, Stirling Division meetings, Head Office contacts with the Secretary Viv Ockerby and other key staffers who needed reports on my progress and activities, and campaigning made time fly. Royal Show time arrived and Joan and I took the kids down to the Show. I wore a large name badge in our Liberal Party colours of blue and white. We also had a good supply of smaller thinner cards printed on both sides, CASH FOR STIRLING. Lyn and Pam had a good time leaving them here and there, on tables and chairs and in many other places. To win you must leave no stone unturned. Late September/early October and election date eagerly awaited.
Late in October nominations for the Senate and House of Representatives were called for the 22 November 1958 Federal Elections. On 23 October I nominated with a deposit of twenty five pounds. My nominees were Max and Margaret Clark, Jack and Edna Hansen, Pamela and Charles Sanders, and Bill and Joy Pope. They were all well-known people from the Tuart Hill/Yokine area, who gave much time to the campaign before/on polling day.
I enjoyed street corner meetings. We would pull up our vehicle on a well-lit corner, usually about 6.30, speak there for 20 minutes and then move on to another spot. We had a public address system which could be heard very clearly in the selected area. Listeners varied in numbers with only the odd protest now and then. During the day we would move through the electorate in the last weeks with the PA systems: “On November 22nd vote Liberal, vote Cash 1”. Fred Lathby from Head Office sometimes became the driver while I gave out the message, varying that from place to place. We had the loan of a vehicle from a friend who sold cars. Not many of us had cars then. My friend was Les G. We had that car for 6 months.
Meanwhile business was business and I had to be there for part of the day as well. People came in for a chat about my step into the arena of politics. Joan was well-known to most of the customers so news of my activities was always available to any enquirer if I was out on the hustings, walking the streets of Scarborough or Midland Junction and Koongamia. A long way from the coast there.
I walked into the premises of John Bell, the auctioneer, one day when I was on my way to the bank, to have a look at something he had there. His auction rooms were in Hay Street opposite His Majesty’s Theatre. He came up to me and said, “Doug, if you win Stirling I’ll give you this business”. I gave him my candidate card and said “keep this card as a reminder. I’ll be back”.
Public meetings were held in various areas in the local hall. I remember one at The RSL Hall in Brighton Road, Scarborough where I had two senior Senators to pave the way for me and the big audience. There were Federal Minister, Senator Bill Spooner, and Senator Malcolm Scott to support me, one before and one after my address to the meeting. All a new experience for me but made easier by my constant contact with the public in our business. This (in part) is what I said in my address.
Speech – First Public Meeting – Opening of Official Campaign. Source: Doug Cash Collection
“Friends, your attendance here tonight is a good indication of the great interest in Liberalism throughout Australia – an indication of the sincere wish in all our hearts that the Liberal Party will be re-elected, re-elected as a Government, to keep this great country of ours steady on its course as it steers towards its destination of permanent peace, prosperity and happiness for all.
Speech – First Public Meeting – Opening of Official Campaign. Source: Doug Cash Collection
I SPEAK TO YOU, as the Endorsed Liberal Party Candidate for Stirling, because I believe that only through the continued freedom of the individual will this country maintain its amazing rate of progress.
The problem that concerns every Australian in this election is whether their freedom as an individual will continue.
WE in Australia are prone to take Liberty for granted; yet it is under constant challenge, as it is now, by those who want the Socialist State.
LIBERALISM IS LIBERTY, Liberalism is a positive thought. It believes in the individual – it aims at helping him.
MY BELIEF IN LIBERALISM and the freedom of the individual, MY BELIEF that all action must be taken to REJECT the notion of the State as the Supreme Master, and that is the reason why I stand here before you tonight.
THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT led for the past 9 years by our great Prime Minister, R.G. Menzies, has achieved added some real milestones of progress –
OUR STANDARDS OF LIVING has been built up. (Better homes, Domestic Appliances, transport improvements – medical science, social services).
OUR RESOURCES DEVELOPED and plans made for more development.
OUR INDUSTRIES EXPANDED (with 53,000 factories producing goods worth about £4,000,000 per year).
OUR POPULATION necessarily increased by large-scale planned migration.
OUR FOREIGN POLICY has won us powerful friends in the Free World and greatly enhanced our prestige in world affairs.
THE CO–ORDINATED HEALTH SCHEME, introduced by the Menzies Government, has attracted world-wide interest and admiration.
EXPENDITURE ON SOCIAL SERVICES For 1957-58 was more than £200,000,000 million pounds, far in excess of any such amount ever spent by previous Labor Government. …
REMEMBER:? NO LIBERAL GOVERNMENT HAS EVER REDUCED PENSIONS. The Labor Party have reduced pensions before and could do it again – when it suits them.
WE OF THE LIBERAL PARTY appreciate the Pensioner’s problems and we have done much to help the older people. I, personally, have had talks with many pensioners during the campaign – some say they are quite happy with their lot, others some say they are not. NOW THIS MEANS that every pensioner has individual problems, different to his fellow pensioners, and I would like to help out where possible; elected or not.
I PUBLICLY ASK HERE AND NOW, and I ask you all to take away my message, I would like every pensioner to write me personally with their particular problem. Tell them not to leave it till tomorrow or the next day but write now, so that I can get on the job and make my personal contribution to helping out on whatever pensioner problems they might have.
I hope, and I will work to see, an Australia where those who have reached the evening of life shall live out their years in peace and security – where pensions and insurance for all other people shall be given as a matter of right to all. …
THE LABOR PARTY wants Australia to stop in its track. We are asked to turn aside from the paths of productivity and progress – to turn back the clock – Australia will not turn back, neither will we be bribed by extravagant promises of fabulous things. …
ONE LAST THOUGHT, SIR: Tomorrow every Australian will be free to go out to live their daily lives in peace, free to say and do what they wish, free to worship as they please. …
The people will vote knowing that the ballot is secret – that they cannot be called to account, by the union or the State, for the way in which they cast their vote. …
KEEP IT THAT WAY – Keep out the Socialist – vote Liberal on November 22nd and vote Cash-In In Stirling.”
As we headed into the last two weeks we had the bigger meetings in Forrest Place. I liked them best of all. The real excitement was there. Good crowds with plenty of interjections but ready to hear what you had to say. A good quip I liked came from a stirrer close to the dais when I was speaking. “What if Menzies promises us more value in the pound. The only value he’s giving us in this “Sterling” area is DUD Cash”. All part of the job. A lunchtime meeting could attract 3,000. More for Prime Minister R.G. Menzies. On Friday 14 November we started with Geo. Branson, Senate candidate. At 12.15 C.W. Court MLA. At 12.30 Fred Chaney MP for Perth. 12.45 Peter Goode for Fremantle. Then 1pm Doug Cash for Stirling. 1.15 Richard Cleaver MP for Swan. 1.30pm Senator Shane Paltridge. 1.45 Hon. Paul Hasluck. Il spoke in Forrest Place two or three times during the campaign hoping that many Stirling voters were there. Only a few days to go. Last minute calls to be made. Some inward calls to me each day as we got closer to polling day. All sorts of last minute queries late at night. Fake wake up calls too, LATER.
Election Day 22 November 1958 saw us awake at 6am. A quick breakfast and Joan was off to the newsagency, and I was ready for battle. It was to be a most exciting day. The polling booths were to open at 8 o’clock and helpers were ringing in to give a status report on booth manning. Election signs and “How To Vote Liberal” card supplies had to be reported on. Each booth helper had to report to a mobile driver if a listed volunteer was late arriving so that any gap could be closed at once. It worked well most of the day. Little hitches did occur but were quickly fixed. Our election day planning was now being put to the test.
With the Stirling boundaries stretching from Scarborough to Midland Junction, and on to Koongamia, we had to have a big team to man the 54 booths from 8am till 8pm. Later, the several counting centres would be manned with scrutineers who had to be in the counting centres before 8pm or no entry. Some volunteers with cars were essential. Their job was to pick up voters unable to get to the booths under their own steam and to keep the booth helpers supplied with candidate cards. Different drivers would run me from booth to booth. They would drop me in one area where I had another driver for the next section after a few minutes chatting at the booth.
Two or three stops were back at 6 Fletcher Street where our local helpers worked from. (In 1998 we still live on site). In the lounge they had pinned up some “Good Luck” messages from Prime Minister Robert Menzies, Treasurer Harold Holt, and David Brand, then Leader of the State Opposition. I cannot think of anything dramatic happening that day. It was simply a hard working day for us all as we had a sitting Labor Party man in C.H. Webb M.H.R. to beat. I visited all the 54 booths during the day, talked with most of our helpers, and then went home to Yokine to await phone calls from scrutineers and the main Stirling committee. Telephone calls were coming in from Liberal Party headquarters as well. Liberal Party head office was seeking information and giving some for other electorates. We had sitting members in Fred Chaney for Perth, Dick Cleaver for Swan, and Paul Hasluck for Curtin. They would be re-elected. Once the counting started after 8pm the tension mounted. We waited for calls from scrutineers as the votes were counted for each of the boxes as they came in from the polling booths. Our scrutineer would be replaced and he then left the counting centre and rang his figures through to headquarters. Nothing dramatic for a while but as the night wore on our excitement mounted. I was getting good figures as was the DLP candidate Brian Peachey. His preferences had been allocated to me. They were critical.
When counting finished for the night our get together with our campaign helpers wound up and most went home with a smile on their face. The count so far looked good but it was to be quite a few days before the Divisional Electoral Officer announced the final figures and named the successful candidate.
The Sunday Times printed a 1.30 a.m. Special Election Issue with the headlines “ALP MAY LOSE SEAT IN WA”. “Sitting member for Stirling, Mr Harry Webb, in danger of defeat in Stirling “. Monday saw the West Australian with the headline, “C.H. WEBB IN DANGER OF DEFEAT”. The paper had front-page photographs of the two anxious candidates in their homes waiting for the latest figures. The news photographers had a picture of our youngest daughter, Pamela, sitting alongside me as Il answered well-wishing calls, which started with a very early call from David Brand, the Leader of the State Opposition. In 1959 he was to become the Premier. Lynnette was noting down the many telephone calls that we received. Final results came days later.
Monday 24 November 1958 and Joan and I were back in the shop and ready for business at 158 St Georges Terrace. What a day! The phone was kept busy as people rang in to wish me well in the final count. Others congratulated me as though I had already won. There were the postal votes still to be received. The preferences still to be distributed. It was to be another week before the declaration. People kept coming in for the latest day-by-day counting figures. I would take a break from the shop and walk up town for a break but people would stop me for a chat about the election. Outside the Ambassadors Theatre I ran into Alec Barrass from the West when he was talking with the theatre manager. We talked about the election and the excitement of waiting for the final result. The theatre chap suggested I might need a break to settle me down a bit, so he invited me to go in and see the show. I sat down in there and watched the movie for about an hour. O.K. On 2 December the “News” advised readers on the latest count. “CASH GAINS”. In Federal election counting for Stirling I gained 40 primary votes more than my main opponent in a count of 300. The next day the Daily News put it in these words:
LIBERAL CANDIDATE DOUGLAS CASH TODAY WON THE STIRLING SEAT FROM HARRY WEBB (ALP) BY 213 VOTES
It was all over?? Not quite. A recount was called for. There were 46,400 votes to be recounted in the presence of scrutineers and electoral officers. Particular attention had to be paid to the 1,842 informal votes. The final figures were Cash 22,198 and Webb 22,000. My margin was 198 and there was a new Member for the Federal electorate. My life and that of our family was to be changed forever. Congratulations for a hard-fought campaign against tough opposition came flooding in. Telegrams, phone calls and letters of congratulation from Prime Minister R. G. Menzies and Treasurer Harold Holt and many others. Wartime Air Force friends came in to see me at our newsagency at 158 St Georges Terrace and others in the country sent telegrams or letters. Everything was happening at once. A hectic life lay ahead of us.
One of the first telegrams I received came from Hubert Opperman, the Government Whip in the House of Representatives. I had first met him in my junior cycling days, when he was a hero to all the younger, and older, riders. In 1937 “Oppy” rode across Australia. I was working at the Coolgardie Post Office in 1937 and the local cycling club made sure that he would get a rousing welcome when he pedalled through the town. A friend of mine, Bernie Messenger, was a motorbike man and with me as his passenger, we went off down the track to find him. We knew he had passed through BullaBulling. We finally found him, a bit behind ‘schedule. He had been keeping on the “verge” of the road to avoid the corrugations but had been unlucky enough to take a false trail into the bush. Easy enough in those days. When he realised his mistake he had to take a short cut carrying his bike back to the road. His escort unit, Bruce Small in charge, were glad to see him again. We sped back to Coolgardie to report that he would be in Coolgardie within the hour. Down past the racecourse “Oppy” hit the bitumen strip into town and rode on through the town at a brisk pace to help him make up lost time. Everybody had come out of the Denver City and Railway Hotels to cheer him on, as they waved hats and flags. The trials and tribulations of the trip across the Nullarbor were yet to come. “Oppy” met every challenge and arrived in Martin Place, Sydney, on 19th November 1937. My wife, Joan, was 13 then, and she remembers looking through the fence of the family farm at Hines Hill and waving a flag when they all saw “Oppy” ride by. Merredin was 12 miles further on and a big crowd gathered there. The ride was over 2,751 miles. “Oppy” did it in the record time of 13 days, 10 hours, 11 minutes. Fremantle to Sydney.
Back to Parliament and the telegram from Canberra. Hubert (Oppy) was the Government Whip in the House of Representatives. It was his responsibility to see that all Government members, old and new, were present for the Liberal Party meeting on Monday 8 December 8, and later on the days that the Parliament would be in session in the new Parliamentary year that lay ahead. He advised me to make contact with the Parliamentary Offices in the Commonwealth Bank on the corner of Forrest Place and Murray Street regarding flight tickets etc. My office was not made available till the departing Labor member cleared out his personal papers and this was a few days, as I remember. Federal Members were allocated a secretary to service the letters and phone calls that came in every day. Urgent matters warranting a call to Canberra were passed on to me, otherwise I would handle them on the weekend when I came home.
During the Stirling campaign Joan and the staff, and the family, had kept our newsagency on an even keel while I was campaigning. Now my full attention had to be given to my new appointment. No problem there. Joan liked being in business and enjoyed meeting new people. As 158 St George’s Terrace was part of the busiest section of Perth, friends would drop in, and new customers would often become regulars. Others would seek my telephone number to ring about a variety of matters. It was not in the current book. I had personal cards printed and these were passed on at every opportunity. Both office and home numbers were listed on the cards. No secret numbers. I took the view that I should always be available to my constituents on a personal basis when possible. At home (or the shop) Joan could take a message and pass it on to me when I was in Canberra. Some calls were passed to my Perth office.