Conference Abstracts

“Italians Deported – Australians Next”

Karen Agutter

For over two decades prior to the First World War Italians living and working in Australia had been on the receiving end of union hostility. Regularly referred to as cheap, even coloured, labour, they were frequently accused of working for less than award wages, as strike breakers, and as a major threat to Australian workers’ rights. In 1918, having successfully fought against conscription in two referendums, the Australian labour movement found itself in an unusual position. The round up and forcible deportation of allied Italian men by the Australian authorities, effectively selective conscription, was seen as a direct challenge to the ‘NO’ vote and as the first step towards wider conscription of other nationalities and ultimately Australian workers. Around the county groups within the labour movement helped organise protest meetings, posted flyers and wrote petitions in support of the Italians as they fought against their deportation. According to the Military Investigation Bureau, who closely monitored these activities, “the Labor Party and Socialists [did]…much to create and foster the soreness…among Italians”. Certainly the Labor Movement provided an avenue of protest for these Italians where no other means existed. This paper will consider how the plight of allied Italian men fitted into the Australian Labor Movements anti-militaristic and anti-conscriptionist beliefs and how the events around this protest brought a group of previously distrusted workers, albeit briefly, into the fold.

Karen Agutter is an historian with a focus on migration, specialising in issues of migrant identity and the impact of immigrants on host societies particularly at times of conflict and war. She has published on a number of aspects of the Italian deportations during WWI as well as other areas of migration history. Karen is currently researching foreign born soldiers who served in the First AIF and is also involved in an ARC funded research project seeking to identify the social impacts of post-WWII migration in particular through hostels and work camps.


Anti Welfare, Pro Australia: neoliberalism and Australian national character in the 1970s

Verity Archer

This paper examines ‘Australian national character’ rhetoric and its political application by the Liberal and National Country Party Coalition in the 1970s. It analyses the ways in which Australian national character frames, such as mateship, anti-intellectualism and egalitarianism were used by the two major right-wing parties. It argues that these ‘national character’ frames promoted an emerging neoliberalism as ‘naturally Australian’. Finally, this paper argues that national-character and popular-interest rhetoric enabled the Coalition to present ‘average Australians’ as beneficiaries of neoliberal economic reforms, such as those to reduce welfare expenditure and cut the public sector. This process paved the way for the creation of the well-known ‘Aussie battler’; a defining feature of John Howard’s Prime Ministership and his ‘culture war’ against the Australian Left.

Verity Archer is a lecturer in Sociology at Federation University. She is a past winner of the Australian Political Studies Association PhD Award and the Bob Gollan Award for Labour History (ECR) for her work on the Australian Dole Bludger.


Police v workers: a two-way “war”?

David Baker

During the 1920s, Australia experienced considerable violent conflict between police forces and unionised workforces. This paper focuses on the rare, but extreme, occurrences in Australian industrial history when three fatalities resulted from police shootings. The deaths of Edwards, Whittaker and Brown raise the fundamental question: were the police merely performing their duty by enforcing the law or were they agents complicit to extreme and reckless violence? The paper argues that these case-studies share certain characteristics. All occurred during a prolonged and bitter era of anti-union hysteria when fears of a Bolshevik revolution formed part of the police mindset, despite most police being of working-class backgrounds. The wharf and coal-mining communities were closely-knit and supportive of fellow workers when assailed by police force. The lack of accountability of police and government, police dysfunction and confusion, deficiencies in the administration of justice and the dangers of press partisanship remain poignant lessons from the clashes. Despite significant advances in policing and union dialogue since the 1920s, could a repeat of the tragic deaths occur in 21st century Australia? Complete denial is dangerous. During the 1998 national waterfront dispute, Chief Commissioner Comrie spoke of the possible loss of life on the docks during close, physical contact between police and workers on the picket-lines. The paper concludes that industrial “war” is not universally extinct, as evidenced by the fatal police shooting of platinum miners at Marikana, South Africa, in August 2012.

Associate Professor David Baker is Head, Criminal Justice, Federation University at Gippsland campus. He is the author of Batons and Blockades: Policing Industrial Disputes in Australasia, 2005, and he is currently writing a book entitled Police, Picket-lines and Fatalities: Lessons from the Past. His other research publications relate to the policing of protest, histories of policing, comparative policing, police use of force, police unionism and labour history.


Back to Grass Roots: Peak Councils and Community Campaigning

Nikola Balnave and Alison Barnes

Despite the long history of peak union bodies in Australia, their place in the public domain has diminished and their purpose has been the subject of debate in recent years. Declining union membership and the policies of various governments have undermined the collective ability of unions to successfully represent members at the workplace level alone. In response, peak bodies such as Unions NSW have returned to a grass roots strategy, in part developed during the ‘Your Rights at Work’ campaign. While this campaign has received considerable analysis elsewhere, it is the aim of this paper to examine the developments in this local-level, grass roots strategy of Unions NSW since this time – namely the establishment of Local Union Community Councils (LUCCs). Drawing on interviews and participant observation, the paper examines the opportunities and challenges faced by LUCCs, and how they might contribute to community mobilisation and stronger union campaigns.

Dr Alison Barnes is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Marketing and Management and member of the Centre for Work Force Futures at Macquarie University. She has conducted research into the service industry and trade unions and employee behavior. Alison is particularly interested in employee resistance and trade union strategy. Nikola Balnave is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Marketing and Management and a member of the Centre for Workforce Futures at Macquarie University. She has conducted extensive historical research on the management strategy of welfarism in Australia. Her research since 2005 has focused on consumer co-operatives in Australia and New Zealand. Nikki is the President of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History and is Deputy Editor of the Society’s journal Labour History. She is also an executive member of the Academic Association of Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools.


Deindustrialisation, Memory and Struggle at the APPM

Ruth Barton

The Associated Pulp and Paper Mill (APPM) at Burnie, Tasmania, came out of Tasmania’s hydro-industrialisation and was part of a raft of major industries attracted by supplies of cheap electricity and labour symbolised Tasmania’s move from an agricultural economy to a modern economy dominated by heavy industry. APPM transformed the town. Burnie grew from a town in 1936 of 3,000 people dependent on sending farm produce and mining materials out through its port; to a major industrial town of 10,000 in 1945 and 20,000 in 1988 when it was awarded city status (Jamieson, 2011). At its height in the 1960s the company employed 3,500 people and was heavily unionised. As part of the Collins House group of companies APPM took an avid interest in industrial welfarism and a paternalistic approach to their workforce. In this sense the company was deeply integrated into the community. However changes in the global pulp and paper industry and ownership changes saw ownership changes, industrial unrest and the gradual decline of the factory until its closure in 2010 and the demolition of the majority of the mill buildings in 2013. APPM’s decline and the mill building demolition have been accompanied by debates over the mill site and its history in charting a narrative about Burnie’s future as a post-industrial city. This can be seen in the context of struggles over the memory and interpretation of an industrial site that dominated Burnie for 80 years.

Ruth Barton is in the Centre for Sustainable Organisations and Work at RMIT University. Her research interests include women and work, trade unions and Tasmanian industrial history. She is currently a Chief Investigator on an ARC project on Unions and Industrial Regeneration that focuses on North West Tasmania.


The controversial deportation case of Ignazio Salemi (1976-1977): The National Archives of Australia files

Simone Battiston

This paper sheds new light on the controversial deportation case of Italian-born journalist, migrant rights campaigner and Italian Communist Party member Ignazio Salemi. It does so by critically reviewing the rich body of records held at the National Archives of Australia, which have so far been little researched by migration history scholars.

Simone Battiston is the Cassamarca Senior Lecturer of Italian in the School of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Swinburne University of Technology. He completed his PhD in Italian Migration Studies at La Trobe University in 2004. He has published widely in local and international journals and his research includes migration history, transnational politics and labour and artisan history.


The Evening Echo: leading the anti-war cause in World War I

Anne Beggs-Sunter

The Evening Echo commenced publication in Ballarat in 1895, becoming the organ of the Ballarat branch of the Australian Workers Union in 1910. In the early twentieth century it had the largest circulation of any newspaper outside Melbourne, with future Prime Minister James Scullin editing the newspaper between 1913 and 1922. During World War One, the paper under the socialist Scullin took a forceful anti-imperialist view, particularly when it came to the two conscription campaigns, when it was the strongest voice against conscription in Victoria. This paper will examine the role of the newspaper, its editorial stance, reaction to it both locally and in Melbourne, where its twice daily editions were widely read. Its influence in representing labour causes in a strongly conservative media environment will be assessed.

Dr. Anne Beggs-Sunter is a lecturer in Australian History at the Federation University Ballarat campus. She has an abiding research interest in the influence of the Eureka Stockade on Australian culture, and has also specialised in the history of Ballarat.


Economic conscription and Irish discontent: the possible resolution of a conundrum

Robert Bollard

It has long been recognised that a source for discontent with the Great War was the disaffection of Irish Australians, fanned by the suppression of the Easter Uprising and the subsequent increase in sectarian hostility. In this context LL Robson’s revelation in 1973 that Catholic enlistment to the AIF was in proportion to their demographic share of the population, and that there was no drop off in that enlistment after the Easter Uprising, has presented historians with a conundrum. This paper will present a possible resolution of this conundrum based on a study of recruitment patterns in a number of locations, including the mining centre of Maitland in the Hunter Valley and the town of Koroit in western Victoria. It will argue that consideration of the economic position of Irish Australians in this period explains why they were more vulnerable to “economic conscription” and that this most likely compensated for the ideological and political disincentives to their enlistment.

Robert Bollard currently teaches at Deakin University. He was runner up for the Serle Award in 2008 for his PhD thesis on the Great Strike of 1917 and is the author of In the Shadow of Gallipoli: the hidden history of Australia in World War One.


Peace, Anzac and Australia’s 1980s

Frank Bongiorno

The 1980s – a period of Labor political ascendancy in Australia – are being increasingly recognised as a significant moment in the modern revival, or reinvention, of the Anzac Legend. So far, accounts of this process have focused on the impact of the mass media and popular culture through film and television, the increasing salience of narratives of war trauma, the failure of the Bicentenary of 1988 to act as an occasion for national unity, and the impact of the 75th Anniversary pilgrimage to Gallipoli led by Bob Hawke. While all of these matters warrant attention, commentators have paid little attention to another context; Hawke’s prime ministership began amid the most intense (and well-founded) fears of nuclear war for a generation, and it ended a few months after Australian participation in the Gulf War against Iraq. In this paper, I treat the 1980s as a period of notable conflict on the left over Australian defence and foreign policy in the context of the Hawke Government’s strong support for the United States alliance, a direct challenge from peace activists to the Labor Party in 1984, the New Zealand Labour Government’s ban on visits by nuclear ships, and continuing debate in the Australian Labor Party over uranium policy. I suggest that while Anzac’s reconfiguration was indebted to a number of influences, we need to consider among them the immediate context of Labor Party politics and the role of Anzac in fostering a sense of patriotic pride in Australia’s military past and present.

Frank Bongiorno teaches history at the Australian National University and is a member of the Canberra Region Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History and the Australian Fabians. He co-edits History Australia.


Social Democratic anti-war protest in Berlin, July 1914

Andrew Bonnell

In the last week of July 1914, over half a million Germans participated in protest meetings against the threat of war organized by the Social Democratic Party all over Germany. Although the extent of these protests was documented by Wolfgang Kruse in the 1980s, and made known to English-language readers subsequently by Jeffrey Verhey, awareness of the extent and seriousness of German working-class protest against the threat of war during the July crisis is still yet to permeate general and popular accounts of the outbreak of the First World War. This paper will focus on events in Greater Berlin, where around 100,000 people took part in protests on 28 July 1914, which spilled over into spontaneous street marches and demonstrations. What do these protests tell us about the views of the rank-and-file and the party leadership respectively, and why were they snuffed out so quickly and comprehensively? This paper challenges interpretations based on notions of the innate patriotism of the workers, or “betrayal” by labour aristocracy or functionaries.

Andrew G. Bonnell is an Associate Professor in History at the University of Queensland, Australia. He studied at the University of Sydney (PhD), University of Marburg, and the Technical University, Berlin. Publications include the books The People’s Stage in Imperial Germany (2005), Shylock in Germany: Antisemitism and the German Theatre from the Enlightenment to the Nazis (2008), and (edited) An American Witness in Nazi Frankfurt: The Diaries of Robert W. Heingartner, 1928-1937 (2011) and numerous articles on modern German history, particularly on German Social Democracy.


Strikes against war, the nuclear threat and other ‘political’ strikes in New Zealand from the late 1960s to mid-1980s

Toby Boraman

‘Political’ strikes, including several strikes against the Vietnam War and visits by American nuclear vessels, became commonplace in New Zealand after the late 1960s. Indeed, several unions played an important and often overlooked part in resistance to war and the nuclear threat during these decades. However, ‘political’ strikes over such ‘social issues’ were relatively rare – most ‘political’ strikes were protests against government attempts to suppress wage increases and workers’ ability to strike, and also were protests against employers using court injunctions to imprison picketing workers and trade union officials. Such strikes were the most significant and controversial stoppages of the era. Consequently, during a time of heightened contestation in the workplace and society, the traditional division between ‘political’ and economic strikes was blurred. Indeed, many trade unionists argued that politics and economics could not be separated, in that trade unions were formed as political organisations, and that all strikes were in some sense political. This paper will examine this debate, but more importantly will provide an overview of the actual practice and content of ‘political’ strikes, their importance and their effect, how attempts were made to suppress them, and how they were eventually overcome by a variety of factors, especially the neoliberal turn.

Dr Toby Boraman is an independent historian from New Zealand who has published on the New Left and libertarian socialism, and is currently researching the New Zealand strike wave of the late 1960s to mid-1980s.


Before industry super: trade union campaigning and superannuation

Cathy Brigden and Bernard Mees

The current compulsory superannuation scheme in Australia is the outcome of a drawn-out and uneven process that that reached its key developmental stage under the Hawke and Keating governments (1983-1996). The Australian superannuation system is internationally unique, however, in terms of its origins in trade-union agency and its industrial-relations dimensions. The Keating government’s Superannuation Guarantee has its origins in trade union campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s, and the ALP/ACTU Prices and Incomes Accord. Yet the trade union role reflects campaigns for pensions dating back to the 1920s and 1930s. This paper will explore the developing trade-union attempts to win superannuation for their members over the longue durée of the past hundred years. Different trajectories, and hence union strategies, developed over time, with left-wing unions in the coal-mining and maritime industries initially taking a leading role. Their motivation was the health and welfare needs of their members particularly due to the physical demands of their work. The maritime unions’ pension campaigns reached fruition in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with funds finally secured. Other unions embarked on the path of establishing their own funds, such as the Pulp and Paper Workers Union, the Storemen and Packers and the Meatworkers Union, and embarking on campaigns to sign up employers. There was growing rank-and-file support with a 1979 survey of union members both identifying superannuation as a key issue and supporting union action. Growing frustration with the limitations in superannuation arrangements including lack of portability, narrow coverage, gender inequity and employer-dominated fund governance led to unions across the ideological spectrum and the ACTU to campaign for the establishment of union-run schemes.Based primarily on archival research, this paper examines the union campaigns and arguments from the 1920s to the 1970s (the pre-industry superannuation period)

Associate Professor Cathy Brigden and Dr Bernard Mees, Senior Lecturer, teach in School of Management and the Centre for Sustainable Organisations and Work, RMIT University.


Syndicalist and Socialist Anti-Militarism 1911–18: How the Radical Flank Helped Defeat Conscription

Verity Burgmann

Before and during the Great War, syndicalists and socialists dominated the anti-militarist movement that opposed Australian pre-war preparedness and involvement in the war. By campaigning against any involvement in war, syndicalists and socialists acted as a radical flank that helped create political space for the more moderate movement against conscription. Especially significant in ant-war campaigning was the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The explicit and developed basis of IWW internationalism, inherent in the principles and tactics of revolutionary industrial unionism, enabled it to grow in size and influence at this time when capitalism was revealed at its worst. Socialists were also a significant force, especially in mobilising against “boy conscription” from 1911. However, at the outbreak of war the socialists were compromised and embarrassed by European socialist parties voting for war credits, which raised further the profile of the IWW, untainted by the Second International’s disgrace. With Australian socialists disoriented, it was the IWW that spearheaded anti-war agitation and it did so from the moment hostilities commenced. Its anti-war activity won it supporters amongst workers inclined to be critical of the senseless slaughter and angered by inequalities of sacrifice on the home front. This paper analyses the balance of left-wing forces within the anti-militarist movement of the Great War period and its prelude, and how this uncompromising anti-militarism encouraged the fragmentation of the labour movement into a left/anti-conscription majority and right/pro-conscription minority.

Verity Burgmann is an Adjunct Professor in Politics at Monash University.


The young John Curtin and James Scullin: Fighting Labor’s War, conscription, the split, and Labor’s political culture 1914-1921

Liam Byrne

James Scullin and John Curtin are best known as Labor Prime Ministers with vastly contrasting places in party lore. Less known is that between 1914 and 1917 these young men were two of Victorian Labor’s most important figures. Scullin represented the moderate AWU led wing of the movement, and Curtin the growing socialist forces within the unions. These two forces united to oppose conscription but for vastly different reasons. Where the moderates were seeking to defeat Hughes and enforce union control over the party the socialists sought to take opposition to the measure further to oppose the war itself. I shall argue both that the Victorian movement was the key player in initiating the national campaign, and that the socialist left played a cohered and organised part in this initiation not recognised in past literature. But this story reveals more about Labor in this period than this narrative alone. In this time of great stress and recalibration of the organisation the ideological division between the socialists and the moderates played a creative role in developing arguments against conscription, but also conceptions of Labor’s role and what the party should be. This was a debate that would continue until the 1921 adoption of a socialisation objective – a poisoned chalice for party radicals. Scullin and Curtin were crucial agents in this contest, movement intellectuals who were both activists and agitators, each connected to an important movement power base. The story of these young men concerns not just how Prime Ministers were made, or how conscription was defeated, but the very nature of the ALP itself – a story that has rarely had more relevance for today.

Liam Byrne is a PhD Candidate in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on the political culture of the Victorian Labor Party between 1914 and 1921.


From Shanghai to Sydney – resisting and accommodating Japanese militarism 1932-3

Shane Cahill

In August 1932 more than a thousand Communist Party of Australia members demonstrated in Sydney against Japanese militarism in China. This paper will examine the resultant response from the organised Right in Australia drawing it closer to its booming trading partner and ideological soul mate. While the CPA judged the protest a success in raising worker consciousness of events far away, the response from the Right was more far reaching. The paper will focus on the roles of the key figures in galvanising this alliance – Kuramatsu Murai and Major Jack Scott. Murai, as Japanese Consul-General in Shanghai had set the hardline terms which lead to 20,000 mainly civilian Chinese deaths after the conflict broke out in 1931. He would survive a Korean nationalist assassination attempt on the Emperor’s birthday in April 1932 and during his convalescence was appointed Consul-General in Australia. Scott, military commander of the Old Guard, was in the process of the winding down of that body and turning his attention to the Japan-Australia Society. Scott was outraged by the protest and commenced writing pro-Japanese pieces in the sympathetic Sydney Morning Herald. Murai continued his provocative actions in Shanghai, simultaneously communicating to his new constituency through the Herald. On Murai’s arrival in Sydney in 1933 Scott would become his PR agent in justifying Japan’s continued expansion into China. The Consul-General and Mme. Murai established themselves as the darlings of Sydney’s social elite. The paper will argue that it was in this milieu, where the high life, business and ideology blended, that a vision of a shared future began to emerge.

Shane Cahill is a PhD candidate in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne.


Labour Victories: A comparison of labour campaigns in 1945 in Britain and 1946 in Australia

Alex Chorowicz

This paper is a comparative study on the British national election in 1945 and the Australian federal election in 1946. Both of these elections saw Labour Party’s either win or maintain office. The paper seeks to highlight the nature of labour ideology in the immediate post-war era, using these election campaigns as case studies. This comparative approach will also highlight key differences and similarities between both Labour party’s in terms of ideology, policy and the role of class in the post-war era.

Alex Chorowicz completed his Masters thesis on a comparative history of these two elections in September last year. He is also in the process of publishing a book chapter on the relationship between the ALP and Israel. This should be out by the middle of the year. In 2013, Alex on the ALP’s 1946 campaign at the 13th Biennial Labour History Conference.


“Security and Justice”: H.V. Evatt’s Foreign Policy and the Beginning of the Cold War

Lachlan Clohesy

In the context of emerging Cold War tension in the immediate post-war period, the United States and United Kingdom regarded the Soviet Union with deep suspicion. However, Australia’s External Affairs Minister from 1941–59, Dr H.V. Evatt, decided on a different course. Evatt was widely regarded as a liberal internationalist who fostered international cooperation, culminating with his election as the President of the United Nations General Assembly. In doing so, he sought a greater role for Australia on the international stage in pursuit of a policy that was increasingly independent of both Britain and the United States. This paper seeks to trace the origins of Evatt’s foreign policy, revealing the extent to which it was influenced not only by incipient Cold War tensions, but by the relationships Australia had experienced with its allies during World War II. This paper will, in turn, assess the effectiveness of Evatt’s policies in External Affairs as responses to Cold War conflict.

Lachlan Clohesy teaches history in the College of Arts at Victoria University, Melbourne. He completed his doctorate, entitled ‘Australian Cold Warrior: the Anti-Communism of W. C. Wentworth’, in 2010. His research interests include anti-communism, security and intelligence, nuclear power and weapons, Aboriginal affairs and Australian political history.


Heroes of the Fireplace: Conscientious Objectors in Australian Newspapers during WWI

Rhys Cooper

With censorship and sedition laws enacted during the First World War, the Australian print media of the time was predominantly an arm of propaganda for the federal government. As such, the depictions presented in mainstream, Australian print media of anti-war campaigners and conscientious objectors were typically negative. A common method used by newspapers to persuade public opinion against women and men who challenged the war was to compare their perceived cowardice with the bravery of returned or serving Australian soldiers. Letters and opinions of those who were serving, or had served on the front lines declared anti-war protestors in Australia to be “worse than cowards.” Furthermore, journalists frequently compared the gallantry of those serving in the Australian armed forces, with the unpatriotic and weak natures of those who opposed the conflict. Such representations attempted to create a stark contrast between heroes and cowards, Australian and un-Australian, and help to further part a nation already divided by the conscription campaigns. This paper examines the dichotomy created by Australian print media of the cowardly pacifist and conscientious objector with the heroic soldier as well as how this contrast altered over the course of the Great War.

Rhys Cooper is a PhD student in History at the University of Melbourne, where he is working on a thesis titled Savior to Slayer: Constructions of Australian heroism during the Great War. Rhys completed Honours at the University of QLD where he worked on a project, in conjunction with Queensland Health and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which identified trends in WWI veteran life expectancies.


Venereal Disease in WWI

Jeanette Debney-Joyce

This paper will propose that in male-dominated societies women, especially prostitutes, are blamed for the spread of venereal diseases. It will propose that the myth of the “fallen woman” was juxtaposed against the myth of the “idealised” woman. It will attempt to investigate the management of venereal diseases in the Allied Forces in WWI. It will examine the definition of venereal disease either as a moral issue or a medical issue, and the public relations problem that this caused for Military Command. It will place the issue within the context of the stress of war. It will acknowledge the critical work of Ettie Rout (1877-1936) in recognizing the infectious character of venereal diseases and advocating the proper medical treatment. Finally, the failure of the Allied Governments to recognize the veracity of Rout’s work and her significance needs to be re-examined.

Jenny Debney-Joyce is a PhD history student at Federation University Ballarat, researching the life of Dr Fanny Reading, a Jewish doctor who studied medicine at the University of Melbourne during World War I.


“Insidious Propaganda”: the New Theatre and State Repression

Phillip Deery and Lisa Milner

For much of the twentieth century, the six branches of the New Theatre in Australia presented left-wing theatre within a culture that was largely resistant to their ideas. Their orientation was explicitly pro-working class, their support base was the Communist Party and left-wing trade unions, and their long-term legacy was a counter-hegemonic activist tradition. Along with several other left cultural organisations deemed “subversive” to national security, their activities were a source of concern to the Australian government and, especially, the security services; indeed, the Commonwealth Investigation Bureau and ASIO files on the New Theatre, which cover the period 1936 to 1965, are voluminous. Using those files and the records of the New Theatre itself, this paper examines the efforts by the Australian Government to circumscribe the activities of the New Theatre. In particular, the paper uses two historical snapshots of political persecution a decade apart – the banning of the CPA in 1940 and the attempted banning of the CPA in 1950-51 – to illuminate the impact on and reactions of the New Theatre in Melbourne and Sydney to the repressive policies of the two Menzies’ governments.

Phillip Deery is Professor of History at Victoria University, Melbourne. He is the author of is Red Apple: Communism and McCarthyism in Cold War New York (New York: Fordham University Press, 2014). Dr Lisa Milner, originally a film-maker, teaches at Southern Cross University. She has published widely on radical theatre and labour history.


Australian Fabianism and the Incrementalist Approach to Reform: Some Historical Reflections

Cassandra Devine and Frank Bongiorno

There have been Fabian organisations in Australia since the 1890s, and organised Fabianism has had a continuous existence since 1947. During that time, Australian Fabians have included a diverse range of radical and progressive opinion among its ranks. Its members, however, have been united in their rejection of violent or revolutionary approaches to achieving change, in favour of the peaceful means and gradual steps closely associated with the British Fabian Society from the time of its inception in the 1880s. In this paper, we explore the commitment to peaceful means within Australian Fabianism, and we examine how Fabianism’s emphasis on producing research, hosting debates and working to influence the Australian Labor Party from within has compared with other – sometimes rival – strategies for achieving progressive change. We argue that while it needs to be considered as part of a broader set of progressive organisations and movements deploying a range of tactics and strategies, Fabianism’s emphasis on evidence-based research, rational debate and working through, and with, the Australian Labor Party has in some historical contexts yielded significant results for the progressive cause in Australia, both in terms of policy outcomes and in helping to shift the terms of debate. Finally, in an environment where the methods pursued by the Fabians seem under greater pressure than ever before, we argue for the continuing relevance of the Fabian tradition in modern Australia.

Cassandra Devine is a researcher with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and a Board member of the Australian Fabians. She is also completing a Masters of Employment and Labour Relations Law at the University of Melbourne. Frank Bongiorno teaches history at the Australian National University and is a member of the Canberra Region Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History and the Australian Fabians. He co-edits History Australia.


Mobilising morale: some responses of Ellen Mulcahy and the North & West Melbourne community to World War I

Wendy Dick

In 1913 Miss Ellen Mulcahy incurred the wrath of her local North & West Melbourne community when, disillusioned with organised Labour, she stood as an ‘Independent Labour’ candidate for the House of Representatives seat of Melbourne against the incumbent Labour member, Dr William Maloney. Having handed in and thus broken her pledge, Mulcahy faced expulsions and ceased her activities within the unions and the political party for which she had worked energetically since retiring as a school teacher. A little more than a year after the 1913 Federal elections Australians were called to arms as part of the British Empire. As the War deepened and the extent of the slaughter grew, responses of Australians ranged across the patriotic fervour of young men enlisting, calls for conscription opposed by a strong anti-conscription movement, food shortage protests, the formation of the Women’s Peace Army and efforts of local communities in service organisations. From the outset Ellen Mulcahy quickly re-emerged as an organiser in her local community when the people of North & West Melbourne mobilised on what became known as the home front. Her work during World War 1 was, it can be argued, consistent with the beliefs and expertise she had shown in her labour activism. A review of community activities in North & West Melbourne during the War and Ellen Mulcahy’s roles in them allows us to identify several aspects of a response that was intended to boost morale and to provide practical support to soldiers and their families

Wendy Dick has had a career in education.  Her PhD thesis, “Ellen Mulcahy: A Study of Her Work and Life in the Context of Her Times” (University of Melbourne, 2012), was awarded the 2012 Australian Industrial Relations Centennial Prize.  With a particular interest in biographically based inquiry into formation, she is continuing to study early twentieth century Australian labour women activists.


Advertising and Progressive Media, 1910-1935

Jackie Dickenson

This paper aims to shed light on the relationship between consumer culture and political organisations in Australia by examining the adaptation of the Australian labour movement to the nascent advertising industry. From the 1890s, trade unions and Labor Party affiliates began to publish daily and weekly newspapers aimed at their working-class constituency: by 1900 there were more than 100 such newspapers across the Australian colonies. These papers achieved impressive circulation figures as working people sought information about their new and expanding political rights. At the same time, the Australian advertising industry was taking shape and media of all types, including progressive media, relied on advertising revenue to supplement their incomes. This paper explores this topic from two perspectives. First, it examines the types of products and brands that were promoted in progressive media. Did these differ from those promoted in the non-labour press and, if so, how? Second, the paper explores the ways in which progressive organisations used advertising revenue to promote their brands and promulgate their ideas, through their ownership of newspapers and, from the mid-1920s, radio stations. What use did these outlets make of emerging marketing techniques, including advertising? The paper finds that progressive media attracted fewer large advertisers than the non-labour press and a limited range of products was advertised in their pages. For the promotion of their ideas, progressive organisations took a pragmatic approach, utilising a range of marketing techniques, including advertising.

Jackie Dickenson is a researcher based at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of Trust Me: Australians and their Politicians (Sydney: NewSouth, 2013) and Renegades and Rats (Melbourne: MUP, 2006). Behind Glass Doors: the World of Australian Advertising Agencies, 1959-1989 (co-authored with Robert Crawford), will be published by UWA Publishing in 2015.


“A curse to the landowner, but a blessing to the poor man”: The rabbit industry in south-east Australia, 1870-1970

Warwick Eather and Drew Cottle

In 1929 the rabbit industry was reported to be the largest employer of labour in Australia. During the hundred years covered by this paper, over 20 billion rabbits were trapped or poisoned in south-east Australia for commercial purposes. Each rabbit carcase or skin was worth money. Carcase prices varied from 3d a pair in the 1890s to 24d a pair in the early 1950s, while skins were worth between 1.5d and 10d a pound in the 1890s and reached 249d a pound in 1946. Thousands of rabbiters in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and southern Queensland earned in a week up to ten times the rates of pay earned by building and metal industry tradesmen, and earnings remained high until 1970. Trappers were independent suppliers who chose when to work, how long to work, what to work for, skins or carcases, or a mixture of both, and who to sell to. Unlike other rural workers, who had to travel continuously in search of seasonal or intermittent work, rabbiters were able to reside in one location all year. The rabbit industry revolutionised work practices in rural areas and stimulated local businesses like no other industry. Wool remained the nation’s major export earner but income from wool ended up in relatively few hands, while the rabbit industry provided cash money on a daily basis to thousands of trappers and workers. This money was spent locally in hundreds of rural businesses, used to buy cars, homes and farms, or saved. Unlike other rural industries, the rabbit industry prospered during war, depression and drought.

Dr Warwick Eather is an Australian historian based in Shanghai. Dr Drew Cottle teaches History and Politics at the University of Western Sydney. 


Today We Own the Streets

David Faber

This paper employs documentary, oral history and participant observer techniques to chart the organisational background of the successful Adelaide NoWar protests against the war on Iraq of 2003. The papers of NoWar, now lodged with the State Library of South Australia, were consulted together with my own recollections as the contemporary historian of the movement and the recollections of about a dozen other senior activists. The thesis advanced is that the consensus decision making processes of the organising collective worked well when the movement was at its height, but broke down after war broke out when it came to attempting to set up an enduring peace movement structure. It is suggested that in future collective methods be favoured when managing numerous groups, but that traditional labour movement committee and membership structures are more suitable for the long haul, and that the transition needs to made expeditiously.

Dr David Faber is a labour historian and Executive member of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History Adelaide Branch. He is a freelance historian, a 4th generation socialist peacenik, and a member of the Historical Society of South Australia. With Jeanie Lucas and Mike Khizam he is an Executive member of the Australian Friends of Palestine Association S.A.


Che Guevara and the Dandenongs: a view on the anti-conscription/anti-Vietnam years

Des Files

This paper examines my opposition to the Vietnam War and conscription. I worked alongside Dr Jim Cairns, whose role as a leading ALP opponent of the Liberal/ Country Party government was to change public opinion against the well devised tactics of the government in engendering fear in the electorate of a communist invasion of Australia. The difficulty the protest movement faced was changing the opinion of people who took the government’s arguments at face value. The key organisations in bringing about the change were the labour and progressive movements largely because union officials, Labor MP’s, church officials, and academics, had long experience in public campaigning. When I formed the Draft Resistance Movement in Melbourne and was at risk of being charged with “treason” and, later, “sedition”, when I was on police charges over the LBJ demonstration, I was well advised and assisted by the labour movement. The paper will draw on ASIO files compiled on me from 1965 to 1974.

Des Files a Melbourne based anti- war campaigner/ Draft Resistance Movement convenor/ trailed by ASIO 1965-1974.


Women, Workers and Peace: India-Australia, 1946-86

Heather Goodall and Devleena Ghosh

When Primla Loomba from the National Federation of Indian Women spoke in Fremantle in 1986 to endorse the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace, there had already been a long shared history between Indian and Australian women as peace and worker activists. Kapila Khandwala spoke on peace in Sydney and Adelaide in 1946 and Lucy Woodcock travelled from Sydney to Madras to be at the Peace Congress there in 1954 before going to Bombay to see Kapila. They remained in touch until Lucy’s death in 1968. Lucy and Kapila were outspoken advocates of women workers in all occupations, with Lucy on the NSW TLC and the ACTU, but for both of them, the major focus over their long careers was on women teachers and girls’ education. They saw women’s equality and education as major conditions for lasting peace. Education for peace – for girls and boys – was a theme to which they both returned again and again. How and why were these two activists – and many other Australian and Indian education workers – in touch with each other in the decades after WW2? And why has their collaboration fallen out of sight since then?

Heather Goodall is Professor of History in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney and a senior researcher in the Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre. Devleena Ghosh is an Associate Professor and head of the Indian Ocean and South Asia Research Network (IOSARN) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney.


Songs and Poems of the Australian Anti-Conscription Movement.

Mark Gregory

“Anti-conscriptionist Demonstration. A procession of 300 women and girls, headed by Mr W. Maloney, M.P., marched through Melbourne on Saturday singing anti-conscription songs.” The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record, Monday 23 October 1916, 3.

Access to digitised newspaper reports such as that above alert us to the possibility of retrieving the actual songs that were sung in the streets or at meetings. The labour, peace and women’s suffrage movements published a number of interesting songs in the anti-conscription campaigns of World War I (there were, of course, pro-empire pro-conscription songs too) and my paper will include ones that I have recently discovered in my research into the songs and poetry of the Australian labour movement. This lyrical material has a special historical relevance as we consider the range of voices in the century that began in World War I in 1914.

Since the early 1960s Mark Gregory has been interested in lyrical commentary on working life in song and poem, tracing and collecting examples to study the origins and traditions of such material in Australia.  In 2014 Mark submitted his PhD in History at Wollongong University: Australian Working Songs and Poems – A Rebel Heritage. Mark’s research played an important role in two recent ABC Radio National Hindsight programs, “Isle of Denial – William Cuffay in Tasmania” focusing on Chartism and broadcast in 2012 and “Frank the Poet – A Convict’s Tour to Hell” which was broadcast locally in 2013 and in Ireland in 2014. One of his recent discoveries has been the earliest publication of the iconic shearer’s song “Click Go the Shears” under its original title “Bare Belled Ewe”. This research became the subject of a popular ABC Landline national television broadcast in 2014 foregrounding the historical connections between the song and the 1891 shearers’ strike.


Racism in the trenches: the experiences of Portuguese soldiers in World War One

Sarah Gregson

The involvement of American, Canadian, British and Australian returned soldiers in post-war, home-front race rioting is widely acknowledged. Less is known, however, about the antipathy of these troops towards southern Europeans fighting on the same ‘side’ in World War One. In 1917, Portugal sent two divisions into the French trenches under the command of the British Expeditionary Force. While negative stereotypes of German ‘Huns’ might be explained as contrived wartime xenophobia towards an enemy nation, Portuguese soldiers suffered terrible casualty rates fighting under the flag of ‘Britain’s oldest ally’ and yet were frequently characterised as cowardly and uncivilised peasants who were unable and unwilling to match the military feats of other nations. Set up to fail from the beginning, Portuguese soldiers, or the ‘pork and beans’ as they were derogatorily labelled, endured poor resourcing and patronising treatment, were made scapegoats for ‘cowardly’ defeats in the field and, on several occasions when out of the line, faced violent attacks from ‘white’ troops. This study suggests that all national soldier stereotypes, from the Herculean Anzac Australian to the panic-stricken Portuguese, are political and historical inventions that must be explained in context. In the case of the Portuguese troops, the negative stereotypes attached to them were used both to justify their relegation to menial tasks behind the lines and to further boost the reputed prowess of ‘white’ troops by comparison.

Sarah Gregson teaches industrial relations in the School of Management at the University of New South Wales. Her seemingly diverse research on racism, returned soldiers, aviation maintenance and the social history of the Titanic sinking is united by an overarching interest in struggles for and against hegemony.


The philosophical and intellectual roots of early British Socialism; Charles Hall’s Analysis of Industrialism and the Vulnerability of Labour

Rhianne Grieve

This paper will address conceptions of human nature and ‘sociability’ within early nineteenth-century British socialism, focusing particularly upon the thought of the little known socialist, Charles Hall. Charles Hall was born in 1740 and practiced as a physician. In the introduction to his major work, The Effects of Civilisation on the People in European States published in 1805, he claimed that the medical profession provided him with first hand opportunities of acquiring knowledge about the lives of the common people. Hall’s analysis, based upon his personal observations, provided a powerful and poignant portrayal of the conditions endured by the labouring poor in the early nineteenth-century. Very little is known however, about the philosophical foundations upon which Hall based his criticisms. My paper will examine the roots of Hall’s thought within European philosophical debates about human nature, from the early modern period onwards. It will look at how preceding conceptions of ‘sociability’ provided Hall with the theoretical means to criticise competitive commercial enterprise, industrialism and the division of labour and to propose an alternate social system based on principles of mutual co-operation. The paper will conclude with a discussion about Hall’s place and relevance in the broader intellectual of history early-nineteenth century British socialism.

Rhianne Grieve graduated with a BA/LLB (Hons) from the University of Technology, Sydney in 2006. She subsequently worked as a solicitor for the NSW Government and the union movement. In the course of her undergraduate studies, she was awarded the McCallum Medal by the NSW Law Society for her paper on the constitutional implications of federal industrial relations law reform. In 2012, Rhianne completed her MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge. Currently she is undertaking her PhD in History at the Australian National University and researching conceptions of “sociability” in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century British socialist thought.


White Australia: Did the working class benefit?

Phil Griffiths

The dominant view of the White Australia policy, even now, is that it was imposed by the labour movement in order to prevent competition from “cheap coloured labour”. The corollary, sometimes assumed, sometimes openly stated, was that the “white” working class benefited from White Australia. I have argued elsewhere that White Australia reflected a series of ruling class agendas. This paper seeks to outline the structure of an argument against the idea that the working class benefited from White Australia and identify some of the issues that must be addressed.

Phil Griffiths teaches political economy at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba. His research has centred on the development and unwinding of the so-called “Australian settlement”, including the development of the White Australia policy, the triumph of protectionism after federation, and conflicts over both within the Fraser government.


A History of Stolen Wages Practices at Lake Tyers, Victoria

Andrew Gunstone

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Australian governments and their agencies, such as Aboriginal Protection Boards, generally controlled the wages, savings and benefits of Indigenous people. Indigenous people largely received no wages or were systemically underpaid for their employment. Any monies paid to Indigenous people were often paid into trust accounts. The accounts were generally mismanaged, sometimes fraudulently, and were largely inaccessible to Indigenous people. Indigenous people were also often excluded from accessing social security benefits, such as child endowments, maternity allowances and old-age pensions. These types of practices are referred to today as the ‘stolen wages’ practices. In this paper, I analyse a number of these stolen wages practices that occurred at Lake Tyers reserve in Victoria during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Lake Tyers was the sole remaining staffed reserve in Victoria from the late 1920s. The stolen wages practices at Lake Tyers included failing to pay any or adequate wages to Indigenous people, excluding Indigenous people from accessing social security benefits, lack of accountability and governance in the administration of Indigenous affairs and the enforcement of harsh employment controls on Indigenous people.

Associate Professor Andrew Gunstone is Associate Head: Research and Research Education at the David Unaipon College of Aboriginal Education and Research (DUCIER) at the University of South Australia. His main research interests are in the politics of Australian reconciliation and the contemporary and historical political relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Australia. He is also the Founder and Editor of the Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues.


Fighting for loyalty?: Irishness during the First World War in Australia

Dianne Hall and Adrian Threlfall

Much of the anxiety and blame over the anti-conscription campaigns of 1916/17 was placed at the feet of Irish Catholic voters. While the influence of Archbishop Mannix and the results of the conscription referenda have been extensively studied, this paper will analyse how popular ideas of Irishness, as an ethnic and racialised category, intersected with the conscription debates in the national and regional press.

Dr Dianne Hall is the author of Imperial Spaces: Placing the Irish and Scots in colonial Australia (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011) (with L. Proudfoot) and Women and the Church in Medieval Ireland c. 1140-1540 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2008). Dr Adrian Threlfall is the author of Jungle Warriors: From Tobruk to Kokoda and beyond, how the Australian Army became the world’s most deadly jungle fighting force (Melbourne: Allen & Unwin, 2014). Both Dianne and Adrian teach at Victoria University, Melbourne.


Antinuclear Campaigning and the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone (Rarotonga) Treaty, 1960-85

Michael Hamel-Green

Previous histories of the disarmament movement have given relatively little attention to the sustained role that Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Island anti-nuclear movements played over three decades from 1960 to 1985 in initially proposing the establishment of a Pacific and wider Southern Hemisphere nuclear free zone, lobbying their respective Labor Parties and Labor Governments for changes in party policy, and eventually prompting regional governments to commence the SPNWFZ treaty negotiations that led to the signing of the 1985 Rarotonga Treaty. At the time this was only the second regional NWFZ to be established anywhere in the world. It continues to ban land-based nuclear weapon stationing by any nuclear power and constrains any Australian moves to acquire nuclear weapons. The paper draws on available primary and secondary documentary sources to identify the specific ways in which Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Island antinuclear movements influenced (and in some aspects failed to influence) government policy on regional denuclearization. The paper concludes that while the treaty as finally negotiated contained many weaknesses from the viewpoint of complete nuclear disengagement, particularly in its failure to prevent nuclear ship visits, missile testing, nuclear-weapon-related electronic bases, and reliance on extended nuclear deterrence on the part of Australia, it has achieved some partial advances in legally constraining potential Australian moves to acquire nuclear weapon, reassurance to regional neighbours, prevention of stationing of nuclear weapons by external nuclear weapon states, and encouragement of regional states to participate in a global network of nuclear free zone member states that is acting as an international lobby group to work for the global elimination of nuclear weapons.

Michael Hamel-Green has published extensively on regional security and regional arms control and disarmament, including a comprehensive study of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty and a brief account of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement. His most recent work includes studies of regional denuclearization in Northeast Asia and the Middle East, and a forthcoming book chapter on the role of nuclear weapon free zones as multilateral regional initiatives contributing to global disarmament. He his currently working on a negotiation history of the existing six nuclear weapon free zone treaties.


Protest or Propaganda? Psychology and Australian Memory of the Great War

Carolyn Holbrook

The psychological turn in Great War remembrance over the past three decades has been noted both internationally and in Australia. In the Australian context it has been conceptualised alternatively as a reflection of the obsession with trauma in the wider culture, and as the triumph of victimhood and the sentimentalisation of war. This article examines the history of psychological perspectives on the Great War and their changing meaning over the decades. It engages with the contemporary debate about whether the psychological turn sentimentalises war.

Carolyn Holbrook is a research fellow in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University. Her book, Anzac: The Unauthorised Biography, about the history of the Great War in Australian memory, was published by NewSouth in September 2014. Her main areas of academic research are war and memory and twentieth century Australian political and cultural history. She is currently working on a project that traces the history of Australian policy-making in the 1940s and 1980s, and compares historical processes with how contemporary policy is made. Carolyn has previously worked as a policy adviser in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Canberra and as a food and wine journalist.


The Accord after Thirty Years: Corporatism in the Neoliberal Era

Elizabeth Humphrys

Most authors critical of the economic rationalism of the Accord era posit the social contract as exogenous to neoliberalism. They conceptualise the Accord as being in competition with, or a buffer against, the implementation of neoliberalism. However, the driving force and key achievement of the Accord was its agenda of wage cutting. This primary objective — of increasing the rate of exploitation to resolve problems of capital accumulation after the end of the long boom — also sits at the heart of neoliberalism. So, although the modified Keynesianism of the social contract appears on the surface inconsistent with neoliberalism, it is in fact deeply correlated with the latter in the case of Australia. This paper argues that when the Accord is analysed as a process of class rule, and as the form that neoliberalism took, its mechanisms and content are better understood. This paper uses Leo Panitch’s work on corporatism, and Antonio Gramsci’s notion of the Integral State, to explore the reciprocal interpenetration and buttressing of ‘political society’ and ‘civil society’ (within a state-form) in the Accord era. Corporatism is analysed as a specific state strategy to meet the more universal aims of the capitalist state in relation to crisis management, and in the case of the Accord the restoration of profitability and accumulation. The paper argues the Accord ensured the ‘integral state’ could secure the hegemonic project of the capitalist class, through the integration of the subaltern groups into the dominant project.

Elizabeth Humphrys is a PhD researcher in the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney. She is co-convenor of TASA’s Sociology of Economic Life thematic group and co-editor of Interface Journal (an academic/activist journal for and about social movements).


“Couldn’t we actually try and do this in Australia?”: Reading the Vietnam Moratorium in its Global Context

Nick Irving

The Australian historiography on the War in Vietnam understands the three Moratorium Campaigns in one of three ways: within a continuous history of peace movement activism in Australia, which privileges trade union and Christian pacifist involvement; within the context of the war itself, which reads it as a response to that war; or as a movement that borrowed uncritically from American activists rather than responding to local political conditions. This paper aims to assess the Moratorium within a global counterculture, examining the ways Australian activists critically adopted American protest practises but adapted them to suit the specific historical circumstances of Australian anti-war activism. It will also look at the ways American government responses to American protesters – the rhetoric of ‘Law and Order’ – were adopted in public discussions of the Moratorium in an attempt to silence or stifle protest during the second and third Moratorium campaigns. The paper will show that Australians were attuned to a transnational counterculture, and expressed their opposition to the war and their ideas about protest in terms adopted from that counterculture.

Nick Irving is completing a PhD at the University of Sydney on the transnational dimensions of Australian protest during the Vietnam War. He has taught extensively in Australian and American History at both Sydney and Macquarie Universities. His research interests include the Cold War, transnational protest and social movements, pacifism and war.


“Citizen” Grove, Oliver the Spy, and The Great Bustard: Spies in The Making of the English Working Class

Greg Kealey

This paper is derived from a symposium on the 50th anniversary of the publication of EP Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class. As much of my recent work has focussed on the repressive aspects of the Canadian state security and intelligence system, I found my self intrigued by Thompson’s use of spy reports for much of his discussion of the Jacobin underground. This paper analyzes this material and contrasts it to its treatment by earlier labour historians.

Greg Kealey is the founding editor of Labour/le Travail, which he edited from 1976-1997. He remains on its editorial board and is the Treasurer and Chair of the publications committee of the Canadian Committee on Labour History. He also edits the Canadian Social History Series for University of Toronto Press. Gregory Kealey is a Professor in the Department of History at the University of New Brunswick (UNB).


Women’s Internationalism and the World Disarmament Campaign of the 1930s

Kate Laing

After the signing of the Kellogg Briand Peace Pact in 1928, it was widely thought ‘the pacifist’s dream was coming true’. However, in just one decade, the seemingly achievable desire for worldwide disarmament gave way to increasing tensions in Europe and the Pacific, and an international race to rearm. This paper will investigate the Australian section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) during the 1930s and their response to the changing atmosphere in the women’s peace movement. The beginning of the decade saw the Australian WILPF enthusiastically organising their part in the petition that the joint international women’s organisations presented to the 1932 Disarmament Conference. An internationally minded Labor government led by James Scullin, who decreased defence spending and supported the League of Nations, encouraged their optimism. Yet, by the end of the decade, the international women’s movement became severely fractured and networks struggled to survive. The breakdown was in part because of debates around absolute pacifism promoted by some, and the acceptance of ‘collective security’ as a way of confronting fascism by others. World War II created the context for a real interrogation of the meaning of WILPF and the debate about which struggle was more important: peace or freedom.

Kate Laing is a current PhD candidate at La Trobe University. She has a BA Hons in history and an MA in US Studies from the University of Sydney. Her research looks at the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in Australia, and their contribution to the wider international women’s peace movement throughout the twentieth century. Kate was a 2014 National Library of Australia Summer Scholar, and is a member of the Lilith Feminist History Journal editorial collective.


Equality or Militarism: The Conflict of Founding Narratives

Marilyn Lake

One of the achievements of which the liberal idealists who created the Commonwealth of Australia were most proud was that federation had been a peaceable process: ‘An orderly sequence of growth is apt to appear tame in itself’, wrote Alfred Deakin, ’while the fortunate absence of the pomp and circumstance of war deprives the federal climax of much picturesqueness…[it] makes its appeal to the reason and patriotism of its people’. The ideals proclaimed by the founders of the Commonwealth also included equality, social justice and the common good, all three invoked by Deakin when he introduced the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in 1903. The new court would provide a means ‘to resolve conflict and prevent war between the classes’, he stated, quoting German Field Marshal Von Moltke to say ‘War is destruction’. ‘War is that and nothing else’, affirmed Deakin, ‘destruction of life, of property, of the means of happiness and progress. Lockouts and strikes equally involve destruction – destruction of labour, of machinery, of capital, of social relations and of social peace’. Then in 1915 a new founding narrative was promoted by the official war correspondent CEW Bean, educated in the ideals of manliness and  imperial service at Clifton College, a man who had little sympathy with ‘the democracy with socialistic tendencies’ beloved of pre-war radicals, men and women. Now it was the military virtues displayed by men at war, who, it was said, proved at once their manhood and nationhood on overseas battlefields.

Marilyn Lake is a Professor in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne.


From Gallipoli to the Iraq War – Anti War Peace Poems of the late Denis Kevans.

Jefferson Lee

Denis Kevans (1939-2005) was known widely in the environment, labour and peace movements as Australia’s “Poet Lorikeet” for both the vernacular and authentic voice in the Australian Tradition often employing humour, his sense of place in his work, his reflection of local reality and the deep sense of history. His anti-war poetry reflected both his family involvement in wars and his political education within the ranks of the Australian left-wing where the influence of the Realist Writers Group and the CPA in the early 1960s where the .Ban The Bomb’ anti-nuclear movement occurred within a Cold War atmosphere. At Sydney University Kevans lead a ‘Sydney to Canberra March for Nuclear Disarmament’. The following year in 1962 Kevans was predicting Australia would follow Uncle Sam into Vietnam. Soon after he wrote “The Slouch of Vietnam” which later became a rallying call for the late 1960’s Moritorium protest movement, in Sydney at least. As the superpowers threatened nuclear annihilation with Cruise and SS-20 missile war heads over Germany in the early 1980s Denis recited “Century of The Child” to over 100,000 people in Hyde Park in1984.Then came the reading of “Your Friends Will Never Forget You” on Sunday 5th September 1999 as Dili, East Timor burned, penned then read  on ‘Macca All Over’ with a million ABC radio listeners. Among his last poems written just prior to his death in August 2005 was “Abu Ghraib” on torture in Iraq. For fifty years, from high school in the 1950s at St Joseph’s College in Sydney as head of the debating society, until his death on August 23rd 2005, Denis Kevans spoke and recited on the evils of war as a protestor for peace. It is only fitting that Labour Historians acknowledge one of their giants a decade after his passing and on the Centenary of Anzacs where his grand father and uncle fought which inspired many fine poems, some recorded and put to air in the 1870’s by ABC radio as a documentary on the legacy of war called  “A Forest of Crutches”! Lest We Forget the true ‘Poet Lorikeet’!

Jefferson Lee undertook an MA in Australian Studies at the University of New South Wales.


Worker for peace from behind the Iron Curtain

Doris LeRoy

This paper examines the life of Professor Josef Hromádka, his close involvement with the Soviets, his visits to Australia and his influence on those Australians who shared like views. Hromádka was a Czech Lutheran pastor, who became an influential theologian worldwide despite embracing socialism. He was a founding member of the World Council of Churches. Hromádka was an undoubted worker for peace, but also was a supporter of the Soviet Union and world communism and awarded the Order of Lenin, whilst remaining the ideological leader of the evangelical movement in Czechoslovakia. The Australian receptions given Hromádka in 1954 and 1956 were extremely mixed. They verged on hysterical anti-communist vitriol to an acceptance that he was a genuine worker for peace, attempting to find a middle way for those Christians forced to live under Soviet rule. Those Czechoslovakian refugees living in Australia regarded Hromádka as a traitor.

Dr Doris LeRoy gained her PhD for the study of Anglican attitudes in Australia to communism in the early Cold War from Victoria University. Her interest is in the nexus of Religion and Politics.


Anstey’s War

Peter Love

Frank Anstey was a prominent critic of the war and especially the war policy of the Fisher and Hughes Governments. He became one of the leading figures in the oppositional left faction of the Labor Caucus that opposed the war policy of the Government. He simultaneously developed and expounded a radical populist theory of the political economy of finance capital, which he termed the Money Power. As the political divisions widened during the war he steadily distanced himself from the Labor Party and the unions to identify with what he saw as an insurgent working class.

Peter Love’s PhD thesis was a political biography of Frank Anstey. He has taught Politics and History at Swinburne University of Technology and been an active member of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History for more than twenty-five years.


Grappling with the Bomb: Popular opposition to nuclear testing in the Pacific

Nic Maclellan

In the fifty years from 1946-1996, the United States, France and the United Kingdom conducted over 315 nuclear tests in the Pacific islands. Starting in the 1940s, there was popular opposition to these testing programs across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, led by trade unions, churches and indigenous organisations. The author, who was a member of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement (NFIP) and served in its regional secretariat in Fiji, will discuss the impacts of nuclear testing on the civilian and military personnel who staffed the test sites over fifty years, as well as neighbouring island communities. Using British nuclear testing on Kiritimati (Christmas Island) as a case study, the article will detail ongoing efforts by nuclear survivors to seek recognition and compensation for the health an environmental impacts of testing.

Nic Maclellan works in the Pacific islands as a correspondent for Islands Business magazine (Fiji) and has co-authored three books on nuclear issues in the islands region: La France dans la Pacifique (Editions la decouverte, Paris), After Moruroa – France in the South Pacific (Ocean Press, New York and Melbourne) and Kirisimasi (PCRC, Suva).


Recommencing the Forward March of Labour

Ray Markey

In 1978 Eric Hobsbawm delivered a lecture published as The Forward March of Labour Halted? (E. Hobsbawm, “The Forward March of Labour Halted?”, in The Forward March of Labour Halted?, ed. M. Jacques and F. Mulhern (London: Verso and Marxism Today, 1981), 1-19.) where he analysed the declining support base of the British Labour Party, drawing on its historical record to suggest ways forward. In like spirit, this paper draws on the historical experience of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to address the need for reform as its support base has fallen away. A number of reform proposals have recently been mooted by party leadership and commentators. Some measures have already begun to be introduced. However, these are shallow measures, which may even hinder rebuilding the ALP as a mass workers’ party. This paper argues that Labor’s history suggests more substantive reforms that retain the essential nature of the party. At the origins of the Labor Party in 1890-1, we may observe the broad social base from which candidates were chosen and to which the party appealed, the regional and local basis for organisation, links with like-minded radical organisations, and the role of the platform in education and campaigning. We should especially note the key role of trade unions, at local and peak body levels. Rather than weakening the unions-party relationship, it requires renovation to recapture the dynamic political input of unions on a more representative basis.

Professor Ray Markey joined Macquarie University in November 2011. He has extensive international workplace research experience over 25 years, and has published 20 books/monographs and 120 research articles.


The traces of peace: Documenting anti-war struggles

Sigrid McCausland

The history of Australia in the 20th century is punctuated by war and war and the deeds of war are remembered all around us. But what of the cause of peace and the people who fought for it? There are few physical memorials to remind us of peace and its dedicated adherents, but there are documentary traces scattered throughout major collections, for example in state libraries and university archives. This paper will survey the documentary record of Australian peace movements and their participants from the Boer War through world wars, the anti-nuclear movement and the first Iraq War. In doing so, it seeks to uncover and document the traces of the organisations and memories of the people who stood up for peace and against war, often in the face of suppression by the state. The paper also explores why understanding the past is central to peace movements. It argues that those who prefer peace to war today need to find ways of ensuring that the next generation of peace activists are aware of the struggles of their dedicated and compassionate predecessors. It concludes with some suggestions as to how peace can be remembered in the online age.

Dr Sigrid McCausland is a Lecturer in the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University, where she coordinates the records and archives management specialisations. Previously she had a long career as an archivist, including several years as University Archivist, ANU where she was responsible for the Noel Butlin Archives Centre. Her research interests include advocacy for archives and managing and providing access to analogue and digital community cultural heritage.


Anzac: Memory and Forgetting in Local Landscapes

Chris McConville

If global violence shaped cultural identity in the first half of the twentieth century, then surely, over the last 60 years, the civic culture of the neoliberal west has come to rely, viscerally, on memory. This reworking of memory into a public memorialism typically mirrors the politics of the nation-state, in which the purposeful commonality demanded by war has been all but erased. Public memory of world wars thus becomes an opening for political assertion by the marginalised, the last vestige of wartime mass solidarity for a group now dwindled to a minority, and beyond these sectional interests, a mask behind which an individualising transnational neoliberalism can continue its erosion of national civic identity. The simple admonition, ‘Lest We Forget’, always engenders a tangled politics. Historians are now well practiced in identifying elisions and absences in the memorialism of both world wars, since even the most elaborate commemorative event – that for D-Day is a classic example – must be selective. Perhaps, though, there is something more that we can say about public memorialism; a commentary beyond our now routine unearthing of evasions and silences in such sites of memory? A cultural theorist such as Andreas Huyssen (especially in his reflections on Berlin) can write critically but in the end perhaps, positively, about this culture of memory. In the interest of a renewed civic life, some historians of the twentieth century, amongst them the late Tony Judt, have envisioned a more forgetful response to genocidal wars. The civic life that Judt suggested, seems to be anti-national, and in fact might operate best in localised settings. In what sense might forgetfulness rather than memorialism allow for a civic future in a time of neoliberalism? This chapter examines the localised material culture of public war memory in Australia and Europe, using examples in particular, from Ballarat in Victoria for World War 1 and Linz in Austria for World War II. It is proposed here that localised memorial sites can provide some resistance to the neoliberal capture of public memory at a national and transnational scale. At the same time, since our forgetting is always selective, it can never cohere in any sustained counter-memory. There are then difficult questions we need to ask of history and memory, of war and genocide, for any new civic life to flourish.

Dr Chris McConville is Senior Research Fellow, Federation University. He previously taught at the University of the Sunshine Coast and Victoria University, Melbourne.


Tomorrow and Tomorrow When The War Ended

Andrew Milner and Verity Burgmann

Marjorie Barnard (1897-1987) and Flora Eldershaw (1897-1956) were prolific Australian authors, radical intellectuals connected with the labour movement, who co-wrote as M. Barnard Eldershaw. Their final collaboration, a future fiction entitled Tomorrow and Tomorrow, was published in 1947 but reissued by London feminist publisher Virago in 1983. The novel’s frame narrative is set in the ‘Tenth Commune’, in the Riverina district in the 24th century, a socialist utopia, albeit a flawed one. By contrast, the dystopian core narrative brings both socialist and pacifist sentiments to bear in a moving account of the struggles of a Great War veteran and his family in the inter-war period then Second World War. The account of war-time Sydney departs vividly from historical reality: it suffers a fate similar to Darwin and mass support for the Peace Party forces the Labor Government into neutrality. (The heavy hand of the military censor is evident in the original manuscript in the Mitchell Library, but the published version is nonetheless compelling.) Most spectacularly, the novel depicts the apocalyptic destruction by fire of Sydney by a revolutionary party of workers weary of war and the grotesque inequalities of sacrifice on the home front. This extraordinary violence will be contrasted to the non-violent character of the Tenth Commune and situated in relation to Barnard’s growing involvement in the pacifist Peace Pledge Union.

Andrew Milner is Emeritus Professor in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at Monash University. Verity Burgmann is an Adjunct Professor in Politics Monash University.


At Daggers Drawn: The International Women’s Movement and the Struggle to Avert War, July-August 1914

Douglas Newton

The spirit of internationalism ran high in the British women’s movement in July 1914. In part this followed from a chance event: the International Women’s Suffrage Association (IWSA) happened to be meeting in London in mid-July, bringing inspirational international feminists into contact with the British suffrage organizations. At a series of IWSA events, a group of mainly younger British women (Mary Sheepshanks, Maude Royden, Kathleen Courtney, Emily Leaf, Catherine Marshall and Helena Swanwick) made common cause with their visitors, such as the charismatic Hungarian feminist Rosika Schwimmer. Together these international and British feminists persuaded the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) to mount a public campaign against the threat of war in late July. They prepared a passionate and prescient manifesto, predicting the catastrophic impact of a long war of mechanized killing and urging international arbitration. Prodded into further action by Labor women’s organizations, the IWSA/NUWSS leadership also decided upon a large demonstration in London’s Kingsway Hall, to be held on Tuesday evening 4 August (as it happened, just hours before Britain declared war). This packed meeting was one for the ages: the international women’s movement denounced any resort to war, on behalf of the powerless and largely voteless women of twenty-eight nations, on the very brink of the ruinous conflict. This paper, based on the private papers of many of the leading participants, considers the significance of the women’s movement’s peace activism on the eve of the Great War.

Douglas Newton is a retired academic. He has held teaching positions at Macquarie University, Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand, and was an Associate Professor in European History at the University of Western Sydney 1991-2008. He is the author of British Labour, European Socialism and the Struggle for Peace, 1889-1914 (OUP, 1985), and British Policy and the Weimar Republic, 1918-1919 (OUP, 1997). His two most recent books are Hell-bent: Australia’s Leap into the Great War (Melbourne: Scribe, 2014) and The Darkest Days: The Truth Behind Britain’s Rush to War, 1914 (London: Verso, 2014).


The Vietnam peace movement made a difference

Val Noone

Drawing on primary sources (including personal experience), this paper challenges the views of official historian Peter Edwards that “the withdrawal from Vietnam was not a political victory for the protest movement” and of political scientist Paul Strangio that the peace movement against the Vietnam War had “probably not much” effect on the government. In contrast, this contribution asserts that the peace movement made a measurable difference. A case study is offered of changes among those Irish Australian Catholics who formed part of the base for the Democratic Labor Party. The paper also suggests that accurate memories about the Vietnam War years can promote hope about the possibilities of change today.

Dr Val Noone is a fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne and the author of Disturbing the War: Melbourne Catholics and Vietnam. In 2013 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Literature from the National University of Ireland for his contribution to Irish studies in Australia.


Activism in Brisbane between 1966 and 1972 – Women’s Struggle against War and Conscription

Jennifer O’Dempsey

Anti-Vietnam war protests and demonstrations against conscription were worldwide events in the 1960s and 70s. Much has been written about anti-war activists throughout the world, however a gap exists in closely examining the role of activists in Brisbane. Although Brisbane became the location of significant and active anti-Vietnam war and anti-conscription protests between 1966 and 1972, secondary sources are limited. Literature regarding the roles of women is extremely limited. My paper will address the role of women in the protests against war and conscription in Brisbane and will examine how various groups including students and trade unions campaigned, how these groups worked together or maintained their differences during the events that transpired. This paper will trace the path of activism in Brisbane through the years from 1966 to 1972. It will specifically examine the activism of women and how they integrated with the trade unions and students groups that also campaigned. The anti-war protests and the anti-conscription campaign carried on in Brisbane were part of the international restiveness but events and characters in the city ensured that the conflict became localised and unique. Activists campaigning against war and conscription in Brisbane protested actively and their efforts became widely known. This paper will shed new light on the pivotal roles played by women activists and will identify how they took part in the struggle together with the trade unions and students in anti-war and anti-conscription activism in Brisbane between 1966 and 1972.

Jen O’Dempsey is a PhD candidate in History with Charles Sturt University.  The topic of her thesis is The Roles and Visibility of Women in the Brisbane Social Protests 1967–1982. Her interests include the history of women’s involvement in the period of social unrest in the late 20th century, how women were affected and adapted in the light of major social upheaval.  Jen wrote her Honours thesis on Love Songs in Popular music and Social Change in Western Society between 1964 and 1975.  


Refusing the Sack: Rank-and-File Resistance to Retrenchments in Australia in the 1970s

Sam Oldham

Large numbers of Australian workers face retrenchment under the Coalition Government. In the vehicle industry and elsewhere, this is the continuation of a decline in the manufacturing sector that began in the early 1970s. Yet the mood of Australian workers was different in this period. The destabilising effects of the Vietnam War had radicalised Australian society and ideas of worker control over production re-emerged. A spontaneous and unpredictable industrial militancy developed. As unemployment grew, it took the form of direct challenges to retrenchments and dismissals. “Refusing the sack” emerged as a distinct tendency. This paper explores the history of this tendency with a focus on manufacturing and the metal trades. Research is supported by interviews with former metal workers and rank-and-file publications, particularly the Melbourne-based Link.

Sam Oldham is a Master of Arts candidate at Monash University. His thesis is an analysis of the “workers’ control” tendency as it existed in the Australian metal trades in the 1970s. He has a broad interest in trade unionism, anarchism, syndicalism and radical labour history.


The Neighbour from Hell: Rethinking Foreign Policy

Tom O’Lincoln

The beginning of war against the Islamic State has revived accusations (notably by the Greens) that Australian governments are subservient to the United States. Such accusations are popular but lack empirical proof. This paper reviews the role of great-power imperialism and its interaction with Australian foreign policy, arriving at the conclusion that the latter is a form of imperialism in its own right. Australian governments insert themselves into the far greater ventures of allies such as the US and pursue their own interests. This is termed “boutique imperialism”.

Tom O’Lincoln is a free-lance historian and activist. He is the author of Into the Mainstream: The Decline of Australian Communism; Years of Rage: Social Conflict in the Fraser Years; and The Neighbour from Hell: Two Centuries of Australian Imperialism.


The Peacemaker’s Role in the Anti-Vietnam War Movement

Bobbie Oliver

When the Menzies government reintroduced National Service in 1964 and then sent conscripted soldiers along with volunteer service personnel to fight in the Vietnam War, the pacifist movement in Australia was faced with the dilemma of whether to actively encourage young men to be conscientious objectors to National Service, or merely support those who already held such beliefs? One of their most effective tools was the newspaper The Peacemaker, founded in 1939. The Peacemaker provided an alternative voice during the war, and supported conscientious objectors to military service in both war and peacetime. Always short of funds, The Peacemaker survived on subscriptions and donations until the end of 1971, when it ceased publication. The Federal Pacifist Council [FPC], which produced the newspaper, regarded it as a worthwhile investment in time and resources. In order to assess the extent of its impact, this chapter surveys issues of The Peacemaker from the last seven years of production (1964 to 1971), and examines FPC Minutes and correspondence between objectors and the newspaper’s editor, Vivienne Abraham. It is intended that examining The Peacemaker as a case study may shed some light on the broader issue of the efficacy of the alternative press as a means of communication.

Associate Professor Bobbie Oliver teaches History at Curtin University, Perth. Her research interests focus on labour history and heritage and conscientious objectors to military service. Her most recent publication is: Bobbie Oliver and Sue Summers (eds), Lest we forget? Marginalised Aspects of Australia at War and Peace (Bentley: Black Swan Press, 2014).


Allied POWs in Nagasaki: The Unresolved Issue of Mitsubishi’s Wartime Slave Labour

David Palmer

During World War II’s final years, Japanese authorities confined over 800 Allied prisoners-of-war to camps in the city Nagasaki. Over 300 worked as slave labourers at Mitsubishi’s industrial complex in the Urakami district. Dutch, Britons, Australians, and Americans at this site suffered not only as prisoners-of-war and as slave labourers under Japanese military rule, but also directly from the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Twenty-four Australians were among these POWs. The story of one Australian survivor, Alan Chick, reveals the complexity of understanding the POW experience within Japan, its aftermath, and the controversy over unpaid forced labour. In 2013 the author led a Japanese team from Nagasaki to Heyfield, Victoria to meet Alan Chick, then 92, assisted by local RSL people. With Alan’s information we successfully petitioned the Japanese government to grant him hibakusha survivor status and health benefits. But he and other POWs, as well as Koreans and Chinese forced to work in wartime Japan, have never been properly compensated for their labour under Mitsubishi and other zaibatsu. German and Austrian governments and companies have recognised and provided compensation for unpaid foreign forced labour, but the Japanese government refuses to adopt the European model of reconciliation, just as it refuses a full apology and compensation to wartime sex slaves. Japan can only achieve genuine reconciliation with its neighbors if it addresses historical problem of foreign forced and slave labour concretely, including financially compensating survivors or the families of the deceased.

David Palmer holds Academic Status, School of International Studies, at Flinders University and is a Visiting Associate, School of Politics and History, at the University of Melbourne. His publications include “Nagasaki’s Districts: Western Contact with Japan through the History of a City’s Space,” Journal of Urban History; “Japanese and Korean/Chinese Reconciliation through Experience-based Cultural Interaction,” Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, Vol. 1 No. 1 (2013); and Organizing the Shipyards: Union Strategy in Three Northeast Ports, 1933-1945 (Cornell U.P., 1998). He is currently working on a history of Nagasaki city.


A Denial of the Judeo-Christian Tradition? Norman Z. Alcock and the Canadian Peace Research Institute, 1961-1975

Graeme Phillips

In 1961, Norman Alcock, founded the Canadian Peace Research Institute (CPRI) to research the causes of war through scientific study. A nuclear physicist, Alcock was convinced that peace research could rationally and objectively solve the world’s problems. Public response to the CPRI was decidedly mixed. Praised in certain quarters, other Canadians deemed Alcock and his scientific approach naïve. The CPRI’s most vocal critics included Canada’s mainstream churches, which argued that science had usurped the place of morality and the Church in the postwar era. The United Church of Canada maintained that peace was not the business of scientists and could only be achieved when religion was restored to its rightful place in society. My paper explores the tense relationship between science, religion, and peacemaking in Cold War Canada. Examining the papers of Alcock, the CPRI, and a variety of publications such as the United Church Observer and Presbyterian Record, my study asks pertinent questions, for example: Did scientists feel a moral responsibility to preserve the peace in the nuclear age? And, was science viewed as a panacea for the world’s problems? Arguably, the central tenets for a peaceful society – love, tolerance, and concern for your fellowman – have been expounded by churches for centuries. Yet, during the Cold War many Canadian churches scorned would-be peacemakers. My paper will highlight the struggle of science and religion to co-exist within the peace movement, and contribute to the limited, but growing historiographical discussion of peace in postwar Canada.

Graeme Phillips is a third-year doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Western University (London, Canada). Composed of a series of poignant case studies, my dissertation examines peace in Cold War Canada. Exploring how peace is situated and conceptualized, my work highlights how Canadians created a broad culture of peace in the postwar era.


Falling in and out of love: Doris Hordern, Maurice Blackburn and the WPA, 1911-15

Carolyn Rasmussen

At 21 Doris Hordern was introduced to the Women’s Political Association (WPA) and her enthusiastic embrace of its activities soon led to an important role as joint campaign secretary in Vida Goldstein’s bid for the Senate in 1913. In the course of that campaign she fell in love with Maurice Blackburn, at that stage something of a pin-up boy with the WPA. Blackburn was in transition from the Victorian Socialist Party to the Labor Party, and his election as the State member for Essendon allowed Maurice and Doris to marry, but not before war had broken out in August 1914. By then Blackburn was already at odds with the WPA on the matter of a citizen defence force, and the WPA was changing. Exchanges on various matters, including venereal disease and equal pay, became heated and by March 1914 Blackburn no longer felt welcome. Doris agreed sadly about the growth of ‘sex-antagonism’ in the WPA, but it was the outbreak of war that brought her into conflict with an organisation she had thought to be her spiritual home. She felt unable to support the purely pacifist stand taken by the WPA, but it was the manner of decision-making on this, and other matters, which finally drove her away. She would continue to further the broad goals of the WPA but in new associations and with new friends and activists, most notably the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Running parallel with, and occasionally overrun by her work as a Professional historian, Carolyn Rasmussen has maintained her engagement with the history of labour and peace movements, beginning with a masters thesis on the Coburg branch of the ALP and a PhD on opposition to war and fascism in the interwar period. A common thread through all this work has been the story of Doris Hordern and Maurice Blackburn. With the aid of an Australia Council grant and Roger Coates Research Grant she has recently made significant progress on a joint biography of this important political couple.


Ballarat’s Avenue of Honour and Arch of Victory

Phil Roberts

On 3 June 1917 the first plantings for the avenue on the western edge of Ballarat took place and by the last planting on 16 August 1919 this avenue at 14 miles (22 kilometres) was the longest in the world. More than 3,800 Ballarat servicemen and women who served in the Great War were each commemorated by the planting of a tree. These memorials were a permanent visual reminder of the death of many who served and the impact of war. Following the Ballarat plantings many other avenues were planted in western Victoria. It is an intriguing story about how the avenue came about in a city where the union movement and the Labour Party had a very strong foothold and where the conscription campaigns of 1916 and 1917 had caused major rifts within the society. The story will be told as a result of close research of the contrasting emphases of Ballarat’s three major daily newspapers – The Star, The Courier and The Evening Echo – and other local primary documents. As part of the story an exploration will be made about the reasons for so much war commemoration in Ballarat and the contribution of the ‘Lucas Girls’ who were involved in the plantings.

Phil Roberts is currently studying a PhD at the Mount Helen Campus of Federation University: “Avenue & Arch: Ballarat’s commemorative practices and attitudes to war and peace as reflected in the civic management of the Avenue of Honour and Arch of Victory.” Phil is a former secondary history and geography teacher and school principal. Since 1982 he has written 15 local history books about schools, sporting clubs and community organisations.


First World War Women Working for Peace in Melbourne 1914-1919 

Geraldine Robertson

Women who actively opposed the First World War in their own right and through their own organisations have often been neglected. This paper is about an eight-panel exhibition, First World War Women working for peace in Melbourne 1914-1919. It documents in the women’s own words fifty quotes that are mainly from the journal of the Women’s Political Association and the Women’s Peace Army. The paper seeks to locate these women and their work into an historical context, from Eureka to the Women’s International Peace Congress and after, from these women’s hopes for a constructive peace, their despair at the Versailles Treaty, to the collapse of the Women’s Political Association in 1919.

Geraldine Robertson was a small part of Women’s Liberation in Melbourne in the 1970’s and ‘80’s, and since then has maintained a strong belief in women’s power to effect change. In the belief that some feminist activism was being lost with digitisation, she decided to document and publish women’s lives and work, first through Women’s Web stories actions website and, later, in book form. She has also published First World War Women working for peace in Melbourne 1914-1919 as an exhibition of panels based on The Woman Voter.  


Marxists in the age of Palmer: a genealogy of ‘anti-politics’

Geoffrey Robinson

The decline of trust in Australian political institutions and the rise of anti-political sentiment, most dramatically represented by the phenomenon of Clive Palmer, has been largely perplexing to the Australian left whether in its labourist, green or revolutionary varieties. In recent years support for Labor and the Greens has fallen, union membership has continued to stagnate and the revolutionary left has failed to break out of its campus enclaves despite a global crisis of capitalism. This article provides a critical examination of a minority trend within the Australian left that seen the rise of ‘anti-politics’ as a positive development. Leading figures in this have been Tad Tietze, Elizabeth Humphrys, Marc Newmann and anonymous blogger The Piping Shriek. Their work has been critical of attempts to revive traditional institutions of the left and has argued that the organised left has become committed to a project of state management of individual behaviour. This line of argument represents a distinctive critique of politics that echoes themes espoused by John Anderson and Sydney libertarianism. This article applies Michel Foucault’s genealogical approach to explain the revival of libertarian themes on the left and their particular resonance within Sydney political culture.

Dr Geoffrey Robinson is a Senior Lecturer in History and Politics at Deakin University.


“So this is how the wealthy used to live, now it is the workers”: Materialism and mobility in the travel diary of an Australian Communist delegate to the WIDF World Congress of Women ‘For peace’ Copenhagen, June 1953

Margaret Sampson

Communist Party Member, Fuschia Lewin, nee McWilliams, travelled as a Sydney representative of the Seaman’s Union and the Waterside Workers’ Federation to the Copenhagen Peace conference of the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF) in 1953. She kept a diary of her travels around Europe and of the hospitality offered the delegation by various communist parties at the height of the cold war. I interpret her diary, not only as a document of the Australian peace movement but also as evidence for a ‘Sheila Fitzpatrickian’ desire for social and geographical mobility amongst Australian Communists. The WIDF has become more interesting to historians of late. No longer dismissed as merely a cold war front, its underlying feminism has now been celebrated. Its peace agenda in 1953 was indeed the servant of cold war politics. Nevertheless, the ‘universal maternalism’ of its ideology deserves more attention than Zora Simic allows, when confining it to the dustbin of history.

Margaret Sampson first studied labour history with Bob Gollan at ANU in 1978. She afterwards studied at the Universities of Sussex and at Cambridge, where she was awarded a research fellowship at Emmanuel College on the basis of her research dissertation. She has lectured in history at the Universities of Queensland, Newcastle, Sydney, and now at Macquarie University. Her interests lie in the fields of intellectual history, the social history of ideas and historiography.


The first casualty of war: contesting the Anzac centenary

Bruce Scates

In 2012, a team of researchers based at Monash University offered the 100 stories project to the Anzac Centenary Board in Canberra – 100 stories to mark the centenary of the Great War.  These narratives were drawn from across the length and breadth of Australia.  They highlighted the experience of women as well as men, recovered the too often forgotten contribution of Indigenous Australians, and emphasised the ongoing cost of war to the community as a whole.  The 100 stories remembered not just the men and women who lost their lives but also those who returned to Australia, the gassed, the crippled, the insane, all those irreparably damaged by war.  Why did the 100 stories prove so controversial in Canberra?  Why did some seek to censor the project and substitute “confronting” stories with “positive, nation building” narratives?   And one hundred years on, is our country prepared to confront the cost of war – or will the Anzac Centenary be more an act of forgetting than remembering?  This paper will be framed by a discussion of Repatriation records, a new source recently opened to researchers and likely to change popular perceptions of the Great War.  It will also reflect on other problematic projects, most notably the history of the Shrine of Remembrance and the (forthcoming) Interpretative Centre at Villers-Bretonneux.

Professor Bruce Scates is the Director of the National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash University.


On Editing Labour History: reflections, regrets and recommendations

John Shields is Deputy Dean (Education) of The University of Sydney Business School and Professor of Human Resource Management and Organisational Studies in the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies. John is the editor of Labour History.


History and journalism

Jeff Sparrow is a writer and the immediate past editor of Overland. He is a honorary research fellow at Victoria University. He has written several books including Communism: A Love Story (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2007). 


Conscription and the First World War: Power within the Australian Workers Union

Scott Stephenson

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) was a leading force in the fight against conscription during the First World War. Historians agree that the AWU in this period was the archetypal authoritarian and undemocratic trade union. Yet there has never been a detailed study of power and organisation within the AWU. As part of my doctoral research I am conducting such an investigation, focusing primarily on the union’s New South Wales branches. This paper will place the AWU’s opposition to conscription within the context of its internal politics. Understanding how power operated inside the union is crucial to understating the AWU’s key role in the battle against conscription.

Scott Stephenson is a PhD student in the School of History at the Australian National University. His doctoral thesis will investigate power and organisation within the NSW labour movement 1910-39.


Campaigning for peace in Vietnam-the Adelaide mobilisation, 1967-1972

Greg Stevens

This paper will traverse the activities of the principal anti-war groups in South Australia between 1967 and 1972. It will first explain how the Campaign for Peace in Vietnam (CPV) was founded in 1967,and how that organisation expanded from 50 members initially to a figure of nearly 3000 in a little over two years. The paper will then detail how the CPV in January 1970 put it’s administrative and banking facilities and it’s organisational weight behind the newly formed Vietnam Moratorium Campaign (VMC), while still maintaining its own structure. The paper will identify how an agreement was reached at that time with all other anti-war organisations to establish a VMC Co-ordinating Committee comprising members of the Executive Committee of the CPV and persons elected at a General Meeting. The planning and execution of the May 1970 demonstration will then be compared with the September 1970 demonstration, which led to the occupation of a city intersection and the arrest of over 100 demonstrators. Next the paper will outline the proceedings and outcome of a Royal Commission set up by the State Labor Government to enquire into the demonstration. The organisational fallout that then occurred which resulted in a number of key individuals resigning from the Executive Committee will then be examined. The paper will seek to analyse the main points of difference between the two organisations, their successes and failures, and the difficulties that arose in the co-ordination of such a wide range of individuals and groups. Finally the paper will outline what the author believes to be the lasting benefits of the CPV/VMC’s activities, both in the sense of ending the war abroad, and achieving improvements in civil liberties at home.

Greg Stevens was a member of the Executive Committee of the CPV,and was the first Chair of the VMC. At that time he was an Industrial Officer with the Public Service Association of SA. He was also then a member of the State Executive of the ALP and became State President in 1974-1975. He subsequently became a Commissioner then Deputy President of both the State and Australian Industrial Relations Commissions. He is the Vice-President of the Adelaide Branch of the ASSLH.


“A revolt against all the forces of darkness”? The 1980s Nuclear Disarmament Movement

Jonathan Strauss

In the 1980s, partly in response to the resurgent Cold War, a large, diverse and vibrant nuclear disarmament movement arose in Australia. This paper uses findings from archival research and interviews conducted by the author over a number of years to show that strategy in the movement was contended and the movement’s debates and internal development had a substantial impact on its rise and decline. The views of movement activists about how to campaign for its demands, such as an end to uranium mining and, especially, for the closure of nuclear war-fighting bases in the country, differed greatly. The appearance of the Nuclear Disarmament Party highlighted divergent views that had arisen in the movement about how to relate to the Australian Labor Party. A potential for alternative political and social leadership underlay the insurgent movement’s arguments.

Jonathan Strauss writes and occasionally teaches in politics and history in Cairns after completing his thesis on the Accord and the politics of workers in 2011 at James Cook University. His ongoing research concerns workers’ political consciousness, including the roles of social and labour movement participation, issues related to the formation of new worker parties and insights offered by Gramsci’s work. You can contact him at <>


The Hidden Labour History of Spooks: reflections from across the Tasman

Kerry Taylor

Labour historians have frequently treated the history of spooks as a subset of ‘knowing the enemy’. In the cold war this is a paradigm that is hard to counter, when the principle objective of surveillance was the close monitoring of the communist movement and the operation of the ‘purge procedure’, both driven by an increasingly paranoid fear of Soviet espionage. In contrast to Australia the early cold war in New Zealand saw the Police Special Branch confirmed as the principle agency of political surveillance. However by the end of the 1950s the Police had relinquished this role to a new Security Service. One of the key elements of this reorganisation was a problem in creating the ‘rewards and incentives’ to become involved in this line of policing. Within the rank and file of the Police the Special Branch was widely perceived as a backwater in terms of promotion prospects. Security reform had become an industrial relations issue. This paper explores this little know labour history of New Zealand spooks.

Kerry Taylor is the Head of the School of Humanities at Massey University. He is also Director of the W.H. Oliver Humanities research Academy. His work has explored the history of the New Zealand communist movement. He has recently begun a comparative project with Greg Kealey on Commonwealth Security Services in the Early Cold War.


“A harder thing than dying”: Peace Activism and the Protestant Left in Australia During the Early Cold War

Kim Thoday

Research findings concerning “Protestant left” involvement in the Australian peace movement during the early Cold War. This chapter will highlight how their religious convictions caused the “peace clergy” to be, paradoxically, both vulnerable and resistant to communist influence. The Rev. Alf Dickie’s evolution as a peace activist and his role as president of the Australian Peace Council will be examined as a test case for this resistance and vulnerability. His association with organisations such as the Christian Common Wealth Movement, the Federation for the Resistance to War, the Democratic Rights Council and the Peace Quest Forum will shed light upon the motivations of the peace clergy, for whom Dickie was broadly representative. It will be argued that the Australian Peace Council and the Peace Quest Forum (whose membership was limited to clergy, including a disproportionally high number of Churches of Christ ministers) were closely affiliated and that this affiliation was symptomatic of the diversity of motivation, ideas and strategy within the peace movement; a diversity that eschewed communist interests and Cold War divisions.

Kim Thoday, a chaplain in South Australia, recently completed an MA research thesis at Victoria University on Christian Socialism and peace activism in the early Cold War in Australia.


Women Leaders of the Landmine Campaign

Lorel Thomas

This paper details the history of the civil society campaign for a ban on the use of antipersonnel landmines, the extension of this campaign to cluster bombs and the relevance of these two campaigns today. Throughout, I will highlight the importance of this campaign, historically and today, and examine the women leaders of the campaign – internationally and in Australia. The paper will also touch on the early campaign, the obstacles that had to be overcome, and the lessons to be learned by campaigns today, in particular the importance of civil society. The conclusion will touch on Quaker involvement in the landmine campaign and in the Anzac Centenary Peace Coalition.

Lorel Thomas is the National Coordinator of SafeGround (formerly the Australian Network to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions) and has been a member of the organization since 1999. She was the newsletter editor from 1999-2010 and also held the role of National Secretary from 2008-2010. Lorel has been involved in research and documentation on a wide range of global landmine, cluster munition and other related Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) issues. She was a co-editor of the publication “In Search of Safe Ground”, which documented the problem of cluster munitions and ERW in North Eastern Cambodia. Lorel has attended international Meetings of State Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions on behalf of SafeGround and was on the government delegation on one of these occasions. She was an active lobbyist for changes to Australian domestic legislation on cluster munitions as part of the Cluster Munition Coalition Australia (CMCA.) Lorel is a member of the Australian Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Anzac Centenary Peace Coalition. She has a life-long commitment to advocacy for peace and conflict resolution.


“Keeping in step”: The Left Book Club in Britain and Australia

Chloe Ward

In Britain, the Left Book Club was one of the key agents of anti-fascist activism in the late 1930s. Progressive Australian readers also embraced the Club’s authors’ themes of democracy, socialism and peace. Reading and discussion of the books could provide the intellectual foundations for the political action necessary to prevent war. This paper traces the Australian Left Book Club’s relationship with its British parent. The two shared a common goal of stopping war in Europe. However the exigencies of the book trade, Australia’s geography, its position in international politics and the domestic political juncture determined that the Australian Club’s form differed from that of the British. Nonetheless in the 1930s the Australian Club depended on the British for its politics, its program and its resources. The outbreak of the Second World War enabled the Australian Club to chart an independent course. From 1940, it pursued tasks analogous to, but in their political analysis and form distinct from those of the British Club. The British Club saw democracy’s future in a vital and independent civil society. The Australian Club, by contrast, vested its hopes for the future in the state. These perspectives were reflected in their books and in their members’ activism. Their goals were, however, broadly similar. Where in the 1930s the Left Book Clubs tried to stop international war, in the 1940s they sought to influence the shape of the nation in peace time.

Chloe Ward is a PhD candidate in History at the University of Melbourne. Her doctoral research, focusing on the Left Book Club, explores aspects of political culture in Britain from the 1930s until the end of the Second World War.


“To voice the longing of the peoples for disarmament, tranquillity and peace” : Women’s transnational organisations negotiate for peace in the 1930s

Ellen Warne

International women’s organisations such as the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) engaged actively in peace campaigns and peace organisations. Their connections with the League of Nations and the debates happening there was crucial to a belief that peaceful association with other women around the world provided a platform, and machinery from which to negotiate a peaceful future. Both organisations in fact were central players in the Women’s Disarmament Committee of the Women’s International Organizations, which leased rooms in the World YWCA headquarters in Geneva, and was active throughout the 1930s, presenting petitions to the League of Nations with over 8 million signatures from women around the world. Mary Dingman, who moved between leadership roles in the YWCA and the Women’s Disarmament Committee had a strong pacifist and international labour background which she had developed through her YWCA work as ‘industrial secretary’ in France, Europe more generally; Shanghai, the US and Australia. Dingman always leaned towards active diplomacy for change. But there was a paradoxical element to constructions of peace in this era which played out in Australian branches of the organisation as well: with some members calling for aggressors to be reigned in, while others advocated a ‘get-to-know-you’ approach to find out the best elements of ‘Hitlerism’ and ‘Communism’: each approach an effort to maintain peace. This paper will position the Australian YWCA and WCTU within the international context.

Dr Ellen Warne is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education and arts at the Australian Catholic University.


“I didn’t want to be a soldier anymore”: German Deserters in World War II

Steven R. Welch

The Nazi glorification of war logically entailed a rejection of pacifism. After the Nazi assumption of power in 1933 any German who expressed ‘anti-military’ attitudes risked persecution. Within weeks after Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor Ernst Friedrich’s Anti-War Museum in Berlin was destroyed by Nazi storm troopers, and Friedrich and other leading German pacifists were arrested or forced to flee into exile. Compulsory military service was reintroduced in 1935 and with the start of the war in 1939 all attempts to avoid military service, including appeals based on religious beliefs or conscience, became capital crimes. During World War II there were two main forms of anti-war protest available to men who were unwilling to serve in the Wehrmacht: conscientious objection or desertion. Drawing on court-martial records, my paper will examine some selected cases from both of these categories. Men who refused service on grounds of religion or conscience were prosecuted for the crime of ‘subversion’ under Article 5 of the Special Wartime Penal Code. Those who deserted were court-martialed under Article 69 of the Military Penal Code. An examination of cases in both categories provides insight into the motives and the fates of men who chose to reject the dominant ethos of soldierly self-sacrifice for the nation. These cases also serve to illustrate the brutal punishment meted out by the German military justice system to those men who refused to carry out military service in the Third Reich.

Dr Steven Welch teaches in Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. His current research focuses on the military and social history of the Third Reich.


Australian Opposition to the outbreak of the Great War

Graham Willett

Remembering, as we are often reminded, involves a process of forgetting. This is certainly the case with the opposition to the Great War in Australia, a story that is almost entirely forgotten, or reduced to the anti-conscription campaigns of 1916-17. In this paper I want to look at those who responded in the earliest days to the war and at the reasons for which, and the ways in which, they stood against the imperial and national fervour. This is a richer and more diverse field of activism than we often assume and it deserves a place of honour in Australian history.

Graham Willett is an Honorary Fellow at the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne.


‘“I voted NO”: The soldiers’ vote in the Australian conscription plebiscites of the First World War

Nathan Wise

The conscription debates of 1916 and 1917 divided Australian society, but caused barely a stir amongst soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) serving overseas. As a result, little attention has been paid within the historical literature to the conscription plebiscites within the AIF. To address this gap, this paper explores the situation surrounding the two conscription plebiscites of 1916 and 1917 and considers how the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns were carried out within the military. It considers how the timing of the first plebiscites, shortly after the horrendous fighting around Pozières, played against Prime Minister Hughes’s eager attempts to win the soldiers’ vote and promote the results back home in support of the ‘Yes’ campaign. This paper further utilises the diaries and letters of soldiers in exploring the reasons behind their vote in an attempt to shed more light upon a relatively obscure aspect of Australia’s past.

Dr Nathan Wise is a Lecturer in Public and Applied History in the School of Humanities. He has previously worked at the Refugee Review Tribunal, Monash University, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Wollongong.


2 thoughts on “Conference Abstracts

  1. jefferson LEE says:

    Could you find a space in program for my paper entitled….. “From Gallipoli to Iraq – the anti war peace poems of the late Denis Kevans (1939-2005)” ? I sent an abstract through an hour ago…. but it got lost in the ether at this end…regards Jefferson LEE (MA Hons Australian Studies 1986 UNSW)


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