Union Songs

The Basic Wage Dream

A song by Don Henderson©Don Henderson 1963
Sung by Bill Berry

I dreamed a doctor told a judge from the Arbitration Court
That he would only live to preside on one more case being fought.
The judge whose conscience was ill at ease thought if this case will be my last,
To hand down a fair decision might make up for his unjust past.

The next case that was to come before this very worried sage,
Was a request to raise by fifty-two bob the weekly basic wage.
The old chap granted the raise in full and to assure his place in heaven,
Made the payments retrospective to nineteen hundred and seven.

On the first pay day after the trial I couldn't believe my luck,
The paymaster brought my wages out on a fork lift truck,
I dreamed we got paid on a Friday and on that lovely night,
Mayne Nickless sent an armoured car to get me home all right.

On the way we stopped at the R.S.L. and as I walked inside,
A poker machine took a look at my pay and committed suicide.
I turned around when I heard a man behind me softly speak,
It was Dr. Coombs trying to borrow a quid to see him through the week.

The alarm went off and I recalled as I was waking up,
How people dream they saw the horse that won the Melbourne Cup,
But they can't remember what number it was, well my dream was just the same
For I can't for the very life of me think of that judge's name.


Don Henderson wrote:

"A wage claims case was being held in Sydney. During the recess for lunch, a group of building workers trouped into the court room in their hard hats and gum boots and conducyed a mock trial, in which they awarded themselves the full rise asked for, in a record time of three minutes.
It is not often that a song writer gets his story line handed to him like that.
This was the first Australian song transmitted by satellite. Gary Shearston sang it on a program called "The Union Man" which was compiled for the launch of Telstar"

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