A tribute to the life
and legacy of

A. E. Clarkson

Business and Politics

Mr. A. E. Clarkson (ex-President of the Chamber of Commerce}, in an address to the Liberal Men’s Educational Association, on the question of ‘Business and politics’ last week, pointed out the apparent reluctance on the part of many business’ men to enter politics, although they were vitally affected by legislation, with restrictions hedging them in from almost every quarter.

The growing evil of industrial unrest which men had to face, and the problem of industrial harmony called for the best brains and men. Politics, in the main, required accurate business acumen, and no Parliament could hope to be very successful without the guidance and assistance of business men, or men with a business training, that made their policy sound and shrewd. 

Professional men, lawyers, and so on, were invaluable, also, in political life, and it was to their credit that so many had sacrificed their profession to serve the State. Business men must impart into their politics more of the spirit of conciliation, to have the wider vision than that of the partisan or money-maker. 

Two vital factors — capital and labour — today were bitterly opposed to each other. This was a great pity, as their interests were identical. In the past, unscrupulous employers had treated their employees shamelessly, and trades unions and intelligent labour thinkers had done much to ameliorate the condition of the workers. Unionism was endeavouring to continue that work today. But it must not go too far, as business had to be run on business lines.

Nationalism and Communism or Socialism might read all right, and be arguable; in fact, in theory it seemed possible, but in practice it would not hold. Experience had taught that private enterprise was far the better means of carrying on business, because it allowed for personal energy, enterprise, and initiative. Under Nationalism they -would stagnate, and mismanagement and other evils would make the system far more costly and inefficient.

It was a mistake for parties to a dispute to go into the conference room with their minds made up by outside organizations. It was far better that the disputants should meet each other with an open mind, and in a conciliatory spirit, and treat the questions at issue on their merits, rather than leave it to the bitterness, acrimony, and bias along party lines, which caused generally the deadlock in the negotiations.

National Library of Australia
Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 – 1929), Tuesday 15 May 1923, page 8