Union Songs

Are you ready, Monty Miller?

A poem by Vic Williams©Vic Williams 1970

Are you ready, Monty Miller?
For the lords. beyond the sea
have ruled that all the diggers
must pay the license fee.
They would make us conscript labor,
take from us the rights we won,
but the diggers are defiant and
now the red-coats come.

I was ready, fellow diggers,
faced the guns at Bakery Hill
and the sabres of the soldiers
as they came to slash and kill.
But though their guns are silent
and their whips are hidden now
their creed of force is written
in the scar across my brow.

Are you ready, Monty Miller?
Loud as the Kaiser's guns
the generals shout for power
to make conscripts of our sons.
They'd smash the referendum,
black out the warning lamp.
For their victory and their profit
they have marched our sons to camp.

I was ready, follow workers
when the robber war began.
We called for strikes to block them
but they jailed us, every man.
They condemned us for sedition,
but still our numbers grow.
It was Labor's road to freedom
when the people shouted "No."

Are you ready, Monty Miller?
For we tread the waves of war.
Their bombers circle Darwin,
their marines have stormed ashore.
Our land, our youth are hostage
to their rising nuclear tide.
For our lives, our independence
we need you by our side.

I will give the youth my courage,
I bequeath the old my cause,
but it needs the many millions,
to put down their many wars.
When you need a new Eureka
and my voice to crush their lies,
Monty Miller will be with you
when you march and organise.


Vic Williams, the wharfie poet, wrote this poem in 1970 at a time of huge demonstations in Australia against the US war in Vietnam, and against the conservative government conscription laws that sent young Australians to fight alongside the US.

On the roneoed sheet with the poem Vic Williams added this biography of Monty Miller


Monty Miller was twenty when he fought at Eureka, Ballarat. He was slashed across the forehead by a sabre and carried the scar to his grave.
He spent forty years in Victoria helping to build the unions and went to Kalgoorlie in 1894. in 1901 he founded the Social Democratic Federation at that time the loading working class organisation.
He opposed the 1914-18 war from the beginning. He was very active in the anti-conscription movement. He was one of the twelve arrested and charged with "Conspracy to commit arson and sedition". He was bound over to keep the peace for two years and his old age pension was cancelled. He was then eighty five.
He refuesed to be silenced. He spoke a meeting of 150,000 On the Domain supporting the general strike against the speed-up. When the magistrate offered him leniency if he ceased from agitition he refused and was jailed for six months.
Back in WA he welcomed the Russian Revolution. He met Katherine Prichard and studied Marxism. In his pamphlet Labor's road to Freedom he set out to apply Marxism to the problems of the Australian workers.
Katherine Pricherd wrote.
"When the Communist Party of Australia was formed he was in the throes of his last illness .. His face lit up when I told him the good news ... Had I asked him, I feel sure he would have jioned the new Party."
Monty Miller spanned more of Australian working class history than any other working class leader.
He has a right to become one of our legendary heroes.

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