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The Labor Party And White Australia

Part Four:

Labor's Federal Leaders From Tudor To Calwell 1916 - 1967



Kevin McCauley

Sydney: February 2003



Preface

1. Frank Tudor
2. Mathew Charlton
3. James Henry Scullin
4. Frank Forde
5. Ben Chifley
6. Dr. Herbert V. Evatt
7. Arthur Calwell




Preface


This is the fourth part in a series. In this pamphlet, I continue to show the opinions of Federal Labor leaders on the questions of a 'White Australia' and our national identity. The modern corrupted Labor Party forgets its past.

The men discussed here came from working class backgrounds. There were unlike contemporary Labor parliamentarians who have been mostly lawyers and whose origins were generally from 'middle class' liberal families. We can give examples such as Gough Whitlam, Don Dunstan (from a wealthy Fiji family), Carmen Lawrence and Democrat 'turncoats' - like Cheryl Kernot. We remember that Ben Chifley was a train-driver and John Curtin who was employed in many odd-jobs during his youth.

This pamphlet concludes with Arthur Calwell, the last Australian-minded Labor leader. His successors turned out to be fakers and internationalists with no concern for the Australian people.

The reader should know that three more pamphlets will follow: on how 'White Australia' defeated William M. Hughes over the conscription issue; John Curtin, saviour of a Continent and Jack Lang's Century newspaper.

This heritage is part of our culture and should be respected. It should be remembered that those who trash their own culture actually trash themselves!

Kevin McCauley, Sydney, February 2003.





1. Frank Tudor


Frank Tudor was the fourth Federal Labour leader, and was in fact, the first Australian-born leader. He was born on January 27 1866 in Williamstown, Victoria. In his teens he was apprenticed to the felt-hatting trade. At the age of 23, he decided to journey to Britain where he became involved in the felt-hatting industry. He also involved himself in union affairs. He then travelled to the United States for further experience at his trade. He then returned to Australia and became involved in the union movement. In 1899 at the age of 33, he was elected president of the Melbourne Trades and Labour Council; the following year he was elected to the State seat of Yarra and later became a member of the first Federal Parliament. In the first Labour government of Watson, he was chosen as 'whip'. In Andrew Fisher's first government of 1908, he was elected to Cabinet rank. He remained thereafter, whenever Labour was in office, as a Cabinet member. After Prime Minister Hughes put forward his plan for conscription, Frank Tudor resigned from the Cabinet on September 4 1916. On November 14 1916, Prime Minister Hughes and twenty-five members of the Labour Party in Federal Parliament walked out. This was the first and most divisive split the party suffered. Tudor was elected to replace Hughes as Federal leader. He threw himself into the fight against conscription with the remaining forty-three members of the Federal parliamentary party. Hughes lost the Conscription Referendum in 1916 and in 1917 put the proposal forward again and lost by an even larger margin. Frank Tudor remained leader until his death in 1922.

"The question with which we are now dealing is one entirely beyond all party consideration. Australia spoke with a unanimous voice on this subject of shutting out coloured aliens at the time of the Federal Elections, and I think I went further than most honourable members when I stated I was prepared to stop the influx of coloured aliens immediately. I preferred to cut off the tail of the dog at once, instead of taking it off a joint at a time - as much as for the sake of the dog as for the sake of the person performing the operation. If we mean business - and I believe honourable members are unanimous as to the desirability of excluding coloured aliens - the Home Government will have no hesitation in assenting to a measure as will carry out our wishes. Honourable members need not be afraid that there will be any delay in the matter, because when the Home Government are made aware of the unanimous feeling that has been expressed during this debate, they will without doubt, assent to the measure. The Attorney-General in his speech referred to the utterances of the Right Honourable Joseph Chamberlain when the Australian premiers were in England in 1897. At that time Mr. Chamberlain said that the Home Government would offer no opposition to any law that might be brought forward, even though it might be painful to the British Government. It would be more painful to us, seeing that we have suffered from the effects of this coloured immigration, if we could not do something to restrict the influx of such undesirable additions to our population. If the Home Government conceive any idea we are willing to accept half measures, they may feel inclined to concede us only a quarter of what we really require, but if we are bold and firm in our attitude, they will accede to our wishes with a good grace. The effects of the introduction of aliens amongst us has been very serious in some parts of Australia. In Victoria some trades have suffered particularly, and in the furniture trade the competition which has been brought about by Chinese workers has been such that, had it not been for the Factories Act, that trade would have been wiped out of existence so far as European workmen were concerned. I recently formed one of the deputations which waited upon the Premier of Victoria with reference to this question, and upon that occasion employers and employees were unanimous in stating that the Chinese were continually endeavouring to break down the Factories Act - that they were not law-abiding citizens, but were continually transgressing the Act which others were compelled to obey. I took the trouble to go through the Factory Inspectors' Reports and I found that whilst there had not been one prosecution for a breech of the Act amongst the 242 European manufacturers, there had been over fifty prosecutions and convictions amongst the Chinese manufacturers. Fully forty per cent of the Chinese manufacturers had been before the court in twelve months, and had been convicted f breeches of the Act. These men would still be in our midst even though we passed the Bill in its present form, and I would go further and support the Honourable Member for Coolgardie in the amendment which he intends to propose to the effect that whenever any of these aliens who are now amongst us are convicted of any offence against the law they shall be deported. I suggested to the Premier of Victoria that some such action shall be taken in that State. It was then represented that it was very hard to secur4e convictions against these men, but my feeling is that when they are caught steps should be taken so that they may not have an opportunity of offending again. We know that the conditions under which these people live are not such as to commend themselves to Europeans, and the experiences I have gained in travelling through my electorate where there are a number of Chinese gardeners would enable me to throw a good deal of light upon that aspect of the matter. It has been said that the white workers are to blame for patronising Chinamen who trade in the metropolitan and other areas.

Mr Page: So they are.

Mr. Tudor: I have never dealt with a Chinaman in my life, but I know that some other people do, and I am aware in the country districts particularly the Assyrians make themselves such a pest that many women are glad to purchase goods from them in order to get rid of them. The Chinese have not only gone a very great length towards monopolising the furniture trade of Victoria, but fully five sixths of the men engaged in market-gardening in and around Melbourne are Chinamen, and we find that their numbers are increasing, not withstanding statistics which seem to point the other way. I trust that the government will not be satisfied with the provisions of the Bill as they now stand, but will be prepared to rise to greater heights and to accept the amendment of the Honourable Member for Bland, and also that of that Honourable Member for Coolgardie."

Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, September 12 1901, pp. 4830 - 4831.


"That reminds me that, in 1905, I was told in Mackay, Queensland, that if we insisted on applying the White Australia Policy to the sugar industry the grass would be growing in the streets of Mackay. The grass is not growing there yet, the sugar industry is more flourishing than ever, and two years ago, despite the White Australia legislation, more sugar was produced in Queensland than ever before. I sincerely hope my honourable friend's prophecy will be falsified as completely as the prediction of the black Labour Party on the other side of the House in 1905. "

Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, May 20 1916, p. 8161.





2. Mathew Charlton


Matthew Charlton was the fifth Federal Labor leader. He was born in Ballarat on March 15 1866. In 1871 his family moved to Newcastle, New South Wales. At the age of 12 Charlton started work as a coal miner in the Hunter Valley. At the age of 18 he was at the coalface and mining three tons of coal a day for four shillings and twopence a ton. In the 1880's there was a depression in the coal industry; due to this, Charlton made his way to Kalgoorlie and tried gold mining. He stayed in Western Australia for about two years before returning to Lambton. During his time in Western Australia, he took an active part in the formation of the Amalgamated Mine Workers in that State as a foundation member. On his return to New South Wales, Charlton became active helping the miners in the Newcastle area. Hundreds of people went to him for advice with their problems. It was inevitable that a man of such outstanding qualities and beloved by the vast number of Hunter Valley people would be approached to stand for parliament. He stood for and was elected for the New South Wales State Electorate of Northumberland where he remained until 1909. The next big step for Charlton was his election to the Commonwealth Parliament for the seat of Hunter in 1910. He was made a temporary chairman of committees; in 1914 he was made the chairman of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, a position he held until 1922. After the Labour Party split over conscription, he became the closest associate of Frank Tudor. After Tudor's death, in 1922, Matthew Charlton was elected the new Federal Labor Party leader. During the years 1922 - 1928 Charlton rebuilt the Labor Party. A year after his resignation as Federal leader, Labor under James Scullin came to power.

"A great number do not register, and, unfortunately, some of the unemployed do not belong to any union at all. Unemployment is being increased by the Commonwealth Government's immigration policy and little consideration is given to those already here who are unable to get work. It is idle to quote the industrial conditions prevailing in Great Britain, when those in Australia when those in Australia are such that we cannot find employment for our own people. For the last three or four months the Prime Minister and other public men have been endeavouring to cause people to believe that Australia is in imminent danger of invasion. The same thing happened a few years ago when we were told that the White Australia Policy was menaced and if the people of Australia did not take some action to defend themselves, they would awake one morning to find an enemy on Australian territory. We were led to believe by a certain person that Japan had not sufficient elbow room for her teeming millions, and in consequence must look to Australia for territory on which to settle them. We were told that Japanese soldiers would land on the islands adjacent to Queensland and eventually establish themselves on Australian territory and we were asked what we could do to prevent them. I said at that time that I did not agree with those whom I termed 'war scare mongers' and Japan's subsequent actions justified my judgement. If Japan had had hostile designs upon Australia she would have made an attack while Great Britain was engaged in a World War. Everybody knows that Japan used her military and naval strength and money in loyally assisting the allies. After the war was over, and while Japan's attitude to the White Australia Policy was being discussed, that country, at the first appeal, agreed to do all in her power to bring about the world's peace, and became a signatory to the covenant of the League of Nations. Subsequently Japan was represented at the Washington Conference and subscribed to the agreement for a reduction of naval power, and advertised throughout the world that she stood for peace. Now the 'war scare mongers' are busy again, and the lessons of the war have been forgotten. My sympathies are with those who suffered for this and other countries in the recent war. Not withstanding the sacrifices made by the soldiers, the Prime Minister is still endeavouring to create among the people an impression that it is necessary to prepare for war. He tells us most solemnly that the only method of preventing war is to prepared for war. The history of the past teaches us that to those countries that prepare for war, war eventually comes. They develop their armaments to such an extent that when a slight quarrel with other nations, instead of trying to settle the dispute amicably they make it a pretext for war. War preparedness merely encourages nations to war upon each other. The proper means to prevent war is to look for peace, and I welcome peace by whatever means it is attainable. The Prime Minister twittered me the other day about always talking about the League of Nations. The honourable gentleman too, is an advocate of the League, and yet he said to me, 'let me tell the honourable member that if the League of Nations becomes a reality we must look out for what may happen in regard to the White Australia Policy.' While professing to be an advocate of the League of Nations, the honourable gentlemen yet asks us to believe that it would interfere with Australia's right of self-government. I believe that the League of Nations will have sufficient common sense to allow the different countries to manage their own affairs. That must be the first principle of the covenant if it be properly drafted, and it is idle for the leader of the government to endeavour to get people to believe that they are in imminent danger of war, or that the White Australia Policy will be menaced by the League of Nations."

Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, June 19 1923, pp. 174 -175


"The bill may be divided into two parts, one of which restricts the admission of immigrants, and the other provides for the deportation of persons resident in Australia. In his second reading speech, the Prime Minister devoted much time to explaining what the United States of America had done to restrict immigration. He pointed out that the American legislature had realised the necessity for restricting the number of immigrants into that country, providing, in the first case, for a quota of not more than three per cent of the number of nationals of each country domiciled in the United State of America at the time of the 1910 census ….."

"I wish to make it quite clear that I have nothing to say against the immigration into Australia of persons of white race if they can be absorbed and I shall discuss the bill from the point of view of an Australian, with reference particularly to the necessity of providing for the absorption of those who come here, whether from Great Britain or from other countries. I have always held, and still hold, that it is necessary, before embarking upon schemes intended to induce people to come here in large numbers, to provide for absorbing on arrival, those who it is desired to invite."

Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, 1923, p. 562


"If migration were placed upon a proper footing and Australians were all employed, the Labour Party would have no objection to bringing migrants here. We wish to see this country populated, but it should be done in a proper manner. It is easy for honourable members opposite to say, in an airy way, "we want population. We have large undeveloped areas, and there is danger of invasion." But it is necessary to necessary to establish a basis upon which we can build a durable structure without impoverishing our own people in doing it. It has been contended that increased population is necessary in order to defend our White Australia Policy and, in that connection, the Northern Territory has been mentioned. But what are we doing to populate the Northern Territory? Is there not land there that is not capable of supporting settlers? The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has stated that land is available there, he has told us exactly where it is, and that it can be used for raising certain tropical products which he has enumerated. "

Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, June 29 1926, p. 3593


"Then the necessary machinery will be put into operation for convening the economic conference for the discussion of matters of domestic concern. In such an event, where will Australia stand? It is a matter of vital importance to us, and we should do everything possible to prevent our policy of a White Australia from being placed in jeopardy. It will be in jeopardy when the League deals with the question of migration. We shall not be able to shelter ourselves behind international law in a big conference which will have the power to change the whole aspect of our policy. We shall be entirely at its mercy. If we do not now lodge an objection against that proposal, we shall have only ourselves to blame. I have every confidence that the Australian delegation will look closely into this matter. It is only fair to ask that we should display an intelligent interest in what is happening. We have these reports to guide us and they show clearly what is aimed at. It must not be forgotten that many nations on the Continent of Europe are behind this proposal.

Mr Marks: "The probability of our having to make a struggle to maintain our White Australia Policy is coming closer every day"

Mr. Charlton: "Unless the British Empire says definitely "we do not agree to this matter being discussed", Australia will be in danger. We should have pointed out at the commencement of the proceedings that we agreed to the proposal to have an economic conference, but not for the purpose of discussing matters of domestic concern. It was not sufficient for the representatives of the British government to say that they preferred that the matter should not go to a preparatory committee for fear that it might prejudice the decision of the council. That was only a half-hearted way of expressing opposition. Would it not have been far better for them to have said: "we shall have nothing whatsoever to do with this proposal. It deals with matters that according to international law, are of domestic concern." If Great Britain had adopted that attitude, this committee would not consider these questions….

Although Great Britain and the Dominions were opposed to any proposal that was put forward, it would be possible for them to be out-voted by the other nations. Such a contingency can be prevented now by the vote of Great Britain or Australia on the floor of the assembly …..

But if action in that direction is not taken we may be led onto dangerous ground. If the economic conference decides that the questions of the tariff and migration have to be dealt with in the interests of all the nations, those countries that are heavily populated, realising that Australia is thinly populated, and possesses a great deal of territory that is capable of production, may exert pressure to have compulsion applied to us to admit their people free from any restriction. What then will become of our White Australia Policy? This is a matter of the greatest importance and it should be scrutinised by every honourable member."

Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, July 27 1926, p. 4606.





3. James Henry Scullin


"The maintenance of White Australia was the primary objective of a Labor government." 1928

James Henry Scullin was born at Trawalla near Ballarat Victoria on September 18 1876. James Scullin contested the seat of Ballarat against Alfred Deakin in the 1906 Federal election. Scullin was defeated but Deakin was so impressed by his performance that he said in reference to this young man: "who might well become a future Prime Minister."

During the years waiting for the next opportunity, Scullin operated a grocery store, many a poor family was carried on his books, but he averaged it out. He was a foundation member of the Ballarat Labour League. In the Federal Election of 1910, he won the seat of Corangamite. However in 1913 he was defeated. He participated in the anti-conscription campaign, passing a Labour Party motion, passed also be Caucus, that no Labour M.P. who supported conscription or who left the Federal Party to join Hughes, could return. On the death of the Federal leader Mr. Tudor he was elected to his seat of Yarra in 1922. In 1927, he was elected deputy leader of the parliamentary Labor Party and in 1928 was elected Federal leader on the resignation of Mr. Charlton. The following Federal election saw the Labor Party returned to office in a landslide; however in 1929 the Great Depression began. The Labor Party did not have control of the Senate and several members of the party switched over to the conservatives. The Labor government was unable to put forward a clear programme as it no longer had a majority in the House of Representatives. The so-called Premiers' Plan was put forward which called for reduced wages, pensions and interest. Scullin did not accept the Premiers' Plan but wanted to go to the people and receive a clear mandate with a clear programme offered. However, many Labor M.P.'s feared losing their seats in an election. The party was deeply divided and Scullin gave in and accepted the Premiers' Plan. The Scullin government fell soon after and John Curtin was elected leader in 1935. Scullin died on January 28 1953.

Scullin was a committed Australian nationalist. He praised the first Fisher government because it established the foundations of "an Australian Navy manned by Australians, and owned and controlled by the Australian government." The basis for a much more populous and wealthy Australia lay primarily in Labour's policy of land tax, the nationalization of monopolies, higher import duties, a White Australia, increased powers for the Federal Parliament and a Commonwealth Bank. All this, boasted Scullin, "the true Australian ring about it". And Scullin warned that the country needed to develop its resources because "Eastern countries were casting greedy eyes towards Australia."

"The White Australia Policy has in it more than the mere racial question; it includes very largely the industrial or economic aspect. …

I believe first in maintaining the purity of the Australian race…

I do not intend to argue that this infringes the White Australia Policy. That policy embodies the question of residence in Australia, quite apart from the manning of the boats. Whatever concession the minister might feel inclined to make to British shipowners who, even though they are not paying the Australian rate of wage, are at least paying wages that are fit for white men, whatever inroads he intends to make upon the progressive legislation that has been passed for the benefit of the men who "go down to the sea in ships". I suggest that he ought not to make any concession to those who employ cheap, sweated, coloured labour. In my opinion the bill is not required and it makes a very serious breach in important legislation the Commonwealth Parliament took many years to pass."

Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, January 1926, p. 402


"… Australians should be more appreciative of the beauties of their own land, for it truly was a land of the dawning awakening to a grand, glorious future …..

(and) …irrespective of creed, to join together with united force to make their country a great, grand, free, open-hearted White Australia …

Some people of course scoff at sentiment - hard-headed practical men who declare that Australia cannot live by sentiment. Sentiment is at the basis of every practical idea we have…"

Lecture to the North Richmond branch of the Labor Party, 1922.


"Any attempt to undermine the White Australia plank of our platform will be stoutly resisted."





4. Frank Forde


Francis Michael (Frank) Forde was Prime Minister for exactly seven days from July 6 - 13 1945. His government was the caretaker between the death of Prime Minister John Curtin and the election by caucus of Mr. Ben Chifley as his successor. Forde was Deputy Prime Minister during the whole Curtin government period and the Chifley administration until his defeat at the 1946 General Election. Frank Forde had represented the Queensland constituency of Capricornia for twenty-three years. Forde administered the most vital portfolio of the 'Army' during the whole period of the Pacific war. He was a very hard working Minister, but found it difficult to satisfy everyone about demobilisation. In 1947, he was appointed as the Australian High Commissioner to Canada. He retired from this important office in 1953 after a successful tenure.

Frank Forde also represented Australia as the leader of the delegation to the inaugural conference of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945.

Upon his return from overseas in 1953, he entered the State Parliament of Queensland constituency of Flinders. At the election of 1957, he was defeated by one vote. If Frank Forde had become Premier of Queensland instead of Vince Gair, the Queensland Labor Party may not have split and paved the way for the corrupt Bjelke-Petersen administration.

Frank Forde died in 1980.

"The honourable member looked at the position from the point of view of employers. Today, he would like to see thousands of men unemployed, so that there would be great competition and a rush for jobs.

Mr. Coarser: That is an unfair statement.

Mr. Forde: The honourable member knows that what I have said is perfectly true. He has seen the great transformation which has taken place in Queensland since the time when he was engaged in bringing Kanakas to work in the sugar plantations at .. (one shilling) … a day.

Mr. Coarser: Were not those same men anxious to join the Federation on conditions which would do away with coloured labour on the sugar plantations? I was president of an association that agreed to that.

Mr. Forde: The Labour Party in the different states blazed a track in connection with the White Australia Policy. Later, when the majority of the people were found to be behind that policy, certain other men who desired to obtain seats in parliament also subscribed to it. I remind the honourable member that all the members of this parliament of the time whose opinions coincided with those held by him, voted against the adoption of a White Australia Policy when the question came to the vote. Instead, they voted for the continuance of the employment of black labour.

Mr. O'Keefe: The members of the Labour Party at that time had to fight tooth and nail for their ideal.

Mr. Forde: At the honourable member for Denison (Mr. O'Keefe) was a member of another place. He knows the opposition that existed at that time to the White Australia Policy, and the strenuous efforts that were necessary to secure its adoption. It was vehemently opposed by the champions of black labour at .. (one shilling) .. a day.

Mr. Coarser: I rise to make a personal explanation.

The Chairman: The honourable member cannot interpose a personal explanation at this stage but may do so later. Mr. Forde: Among the members of the National Party are still many champions of black labour.

Mr. Cunningham: 'Black' Barwell in South Australia, for instance.

Mr. Forde: Sir Henry Barwell, the ex-Premier of South Australia, when he advocated black labour for the northern portions of Australia, said that he expressed what a great number of his supporters thought, but were afraid to say. He spoke on behalf of a large section of the conservatives of Australia when he advocated black labour. I believe that in the National Party today, there are many men who would like to see black labour reintroduced. When Lord Leverhulme visited Australia -

Mr. Pratten: What did we say to him?

Mr. Forde: I do not know what was said to him by the party to which the honourable member belongs, but I do know what the Leader of the Opposition said to him. Mr. Charleton told Lord Leverhulme that he nothing about Australia, and the sentiments of its people, and that his views on this question of black labour would be hotly opposed by the Labour Party. A great many people on the Tory side in politics agree with Lord Leverhulme in this matter, but are afraid to voice their opinions. If, by any means, black labour could be reintroduced into Australia, they would welcome it. I have a met a number of employers of labour in different parts of Australia who have stated that, in order to develop this young country, black labour must be utilised in the northern parts of this country. The Labour Party, on the other hand, believes in a sound and sane policy of immigration, and not in the haphazard policy of bringing people to Australia some of whom are no longer wanted in the old country…."

Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates , 9 September 1924, p. 4087


"It is well known that in the early days of the sugar industry in Queensland thousands of Kanakas were introduced from the South Sea Islands to serve for a stipulated period at niggardly rates of pay. Owing chiefly to the attitude of the Labour Party in the Federal And various State governments, black labour has now been abolished in Queensland and the place of the Kanakas has been taken by Australians and by immigrants principally from Great Britain but also, in later years, from Southern Europe."

Mr. McKay: The honourable member's memory is conveniently bad in respect of the Kanakas.

Mr. Forde: That is not so. The Kanakas would have been in Queensland had it not been for the Labour Party.

Mr. Prowse: The honourable member believed in deportation for the Kanakas.

Mr. Forde: They were not deported, but restored to their own country from which they were taken away against their will ….. So were the Kanakas until they were forced to go to Queensland to be driven like slaves ..….

I welcome men who will be able to look after themselves and be able to create employment, but every opportunity should be given to poor men to make a start. It is no use dumping them down without assistance. It is often said that the Labour Party has been responsible for keeping capital out of Australia, but that is not the case. We welcome capital here, and we hope that the time will come when we shall not have to send practically the whole of our raw materials abroad but when, on the contrary, we shall manufacture it here. It is not true that the Labour Party has no definite policy on immigration."

Commonwealth Parliamentary July 16 -17 1925, p. 1169.





5. Ben Chifley


Joseph Benedict Chifley was born on September 22 1885, at Bathurst. He was the eldest son of a local born blacksmith and his Irish-born wife. Ben was separated from his parents and eldest brothers at the age of five. For the next nine years, he seldom saw them and lived on his grandfather's farm north of Bathurst where he slept on a wattle mattress in a humble shack with an earthen floor. He entered the workforce as a junior employee at a local store. He later joined the New South Wales railways. He progressed so rapidly that he became the youngest train-driver in the State. At this time, he became active in union affairs. During World War One, Chifley was a staunch anti-conscriptionist. During the Great Railway Strike, as one of the strike-leaders, Chifley lost his job. While railway workers in Sydney, dispirited, gave up the fight, the Bathurst railway workers wanted to continue the struggle. Chifley was ultimately re-employed but was no longer a driver, but he had to work under men he had trained. Lang finally restored the seniority rules of the railway workers.

Chifley won ALP pre-selection for the Seat of Macquarie, but was unsuccessful at the 1925 election, but was finally elected in 1928. As Defence Minister in the Scullin government, Chifley was quietly impressive. He gained valuable administrative experience. During the 1931 Federal Election landslide against Labor he lost his Seat. In 1940, Chifley was re-elected for Macquarie. In the Curtin government, Chifley was appointed Treasurer. He lifted taxation on the wealthy and increased company, sales and land tax. In 1942, wary of inflation, he introduces controls on wages, prices and profits and initiated a national income tax scheme. As Curtin's health declined, during the later phase of the war, Chifley took up more responsibilities. After Curtin's death, Chifley assumed the leadership from Forde's temporary position.

Shortly after becoming Prime Minister, Chifley announced Japan's surrender. Throughout his period as Prime Minister, he stayed in a small room at the Kurrajong Hotel rather than the official residence - The Lodge.

Under the Chifley government, returned soldiers were provided with a war gratuity entitlement to vocational training, special unemployment and preference in employment for seven years. Every effort was made to avoid the deficiencies in the conditions of returned men of the First World War. Australia's vital export industries were given post-war foundations. Plans were made for the rapid industrialisation of Australia with the establishment of a local motor vehicle industry. A bold immigration scheme was introduced. The Hospital Benefits Act established free public wards by giving subsidies to the States. Chifley maintained a tight rein on the economy, knowing that inflationary pressures were building. Prices, imports and rents were all curbed. Rationing was maintained and consumer demand contained. The financing of Australia's immense war effort did not result in an escalation of overseas debt which, in fact, was substantially reduced - an incredible achievement under the circumstances. The Chifley government was returned to power in 1946. The Snowy Mountains Scheme began, the Australian National University was founded and Atomic Energy Commission was initiated. An attempt to nationalize the banks failed, giving wind to the Liberal Party. The Communist Party sabotaged Labor's program through unnecessary political strike actions. These factors contributed to Chifley's defeat in the 1949 election. Chifley remained as Labor leader until his death in June 13 1951.

The conservatives began in the period after the war to undermine the White Australia Policy. From 1947 to 1949 the conservatives launched attacks against the Minister for Immigration, Arthur Calwell, for his rigid defence of the White Australia Policy. These "borderline cases" where Asians were deported by Calwell were beaten up in the newspapers and then reported in Asian newspapers and instead of the conservatives forming a united front to defend Australia's interests carried on to undermine it.

Chifley firmly supported Calwell.

"There is no possibility of a change in our attitude to non-European immigration. Most of our representatives in the East, are of course, constantly badgered about immigration matters and as they are associated a great deal with representatives of other countries, unless they are pretty strong minded, they are likely to be embarrassed. However, I have made it clear to each of them that while stationed in the East, they must be firm in regard to the matter."

Letter To Arthur Calwell, June 1949.


"The only way for Asians to achieve peace and prosperity for all their nations is through strenuous efforts in their own lands, not through migration."

Often quoted. Source not determined.


"The only reason that Asia is not aflame today is that Britain gave self-government to India, Pakistan and Ceylon, otherwise the white races would not have a friend today in Asia. One of the things to be faced in Asia - while remembering that the communist jumps on everybody's shoulders - is that the people of Asia no longer want white government. It should be remembered too, that most of the radical leaders in Asia are not wage-earners, but are most English university products, and that many of them are wealthy.

An Address To The Federal Conference Of The Federal Labor Party, March 2 1951.


"We do not have to be too soft-hearted to understand the big task before them. It must be an awe-inspiring task to settle in a new country. Not only have we to get the newcomers here, but we have to make them fit in as well as they can. We must do our upmost to smooth the rough path over which these people have to travel."

To aid his appeal to Labor men to subdue their fears of unemployment and migrant competition for jobs and homes, Chifley bluntly warned about another traditional Labour fear, an Asian influx. He told the Labor Party's Federal Executive:

"This is Australia's great opportunity … It may never come again. If we do not grasp it then Asian countries will undoubtedly be looking at us and there will be increasing pressure for an outlet for their population."

L.F. Crisp, Ben Chifley: A Biography, p. 320





6. Dr. Herbert V. Evatt


When Ben Chifley died in 1951, 'Doc' Evatt took over as Federal leader of the Labor Party. He held the position until 1960. Doctor Herbert Vere Evatt was born April 30 1894 in the coalmining region of the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. He was the fifth of eight sons of Maitland hotelier, John Evatt. When he was seven, his father died. The eldest two boys went to Sydney to work. Herbert Evatt was a brilliant student at Fort Street High School in 1915. Evatt graduated in Arts with First Class Honours in English Mathematics and Mental Philosophy. He won more scholarships and went to do his Master Of Arts and Doctor Of Law degrees. During World War One Evatt twice tried to enlist and was rejected both times. In 1916, Evatt began his legal career as secretary and associate of the Chief Justice of New South Wales. He appeared on the Edmonds Commission that investigated the promised restoration of jobs and seniority to which the Railway Commissioners had agreed to in the bitter railway strike.

In the 1925 State Election, he won the seat of Balmain and became a member of the Lang Labor government. The Scullin government appointed Evatt as Justice of the High Court of Australia. In 1926, Evatt attended an International Labour Conference where the White Australia Policy came under attack. Evatt, a fierce supporter of that policy, defended it with vigour. In 1940, he was elected to the Federal Parliament; in the Curtin government, Evatt was appointed Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs. After Japan entered the war, Evatt was sent to Washington to insist Australia was not merely one more British colony, only to regarded as a base of operations. In London and Washington, he demanded and got war supplies and a greater say for Australia. In the election of 1943, Labor swept the polls winning control of the Senate as well as the House of Representatives. When Curtin died and Chifley became P.M., Evatt retained his ministerial posts.

After the A.L.P. won in 1946, Evatt became Deputy Prime Minister. At the San Francisco Convention in 1945, Doc Evatt vigorously argued for a Charter Resolution which prohibited United Nations' authority from interfering in the domestic policy of member states. His concern was that pressure would be exerted to change the White Australia Policy, which he regarded as vital to the country's survival. Evatt emphasised a policy based on friendship with the newly emerged nations of Asia. He believed friendship did not involve interfering in other countries' internal affairs.

As Leader of Opposition, and after nearly winning the 1954 election, he became embroiled in the 'Petrov Affair' which damaged his credibility. He lost the 1955 election and the 1958 election and retired as leader in 1960. He thereafter served as Chief Justice for New South Wales.

"It is quite unnecessary for me to wait for the closing of any debate in order to give that assurance. I gave such an assurance during the debate on international affairs, but I point out that the subject was mentioned then only because a question on it had been addressed to me by the honourable member for New England. I gave the assurance then, and I give it now. If the honourable member likes, I will give it morning, noon and night. The White Australia Policy is absolutely basic to the economy and politics of this country. There has never been any suggestion, direct or indirect, that it would be interfered with. The subject has never been mentioned by me except in the circumstances in which I have recounted. I am obliged to the honourable member for giving me the opportunity to remove the so-called uneasiness which, if it exists at all, has been caused by what other people have said and not by anything that I have ever said."

Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates 12 March 1947 p. 527


"This debate has covered such a wide field, and many of the speeches on international affairs, have been most extensive that I feel impelled to remove some of the doubts which have been expressed and to clarify certain problems which have arisen. Before I deal with some of the early speeches, I desire to refer to several matters that were discussed this evening. First, the honourable member for Reid, 'Mr. Lang', said that the Australian government was 'tinkering' with the White Australia Policy. That statement is absolutely incorrect and quite unjustified. There is not a tiddle of evidence to support it. During this debate, the House has had a most clear and unequivocal affirmation of this fundamental principle of our policy, not only by me on behalf of the government, but also by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), on behalf of honourable members opposite. I said, in answer to a question which was asked during the last few weeks, that I should be prepared, if necessary, to state and restate the principle morning, noon, and night, but I do not need to do that when there can be no dispute about that principle in this Parliament or in the country. The honourable member for Reid was right when he said the White Australia Policy is related to the security of Australia. I state quite frankly that had the Policy not been applicable to the territories of Australia when war with Japan occurred, the result would probably have been the overrunning of a substantial portion of this country by the enemy. However, the thing is axiomatic. It is fundamental to all our way of thinking. Our relations with our countries to the north of Australia are not prejudiced or should not be prejudiced by that fact. Indeed, I do not believe that they could be prejudiced by it. If the declaration is clear, that is the basis for friendship and mutual understanding. So, it is necessary for me again to make that perfectly clear. That was the only point, I believe, made by the honourable member for Reid in his speech."

Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates 25 March 1947, p. 1135 - 1136


"Mr. Abbott: Was the White Australia Policy raised in the discussions with India?

Dr. Evatt: That matter has never been raised by India or by Australia at any stage. The subject was not mentioned on the appointment of an Indian High Commissioner to this country, on the appointment of the Australian High Commissioner to India, Sir Iven McKay, or on any of the very numerous occasions when our representative has been in touch with the Indian government, not merely before the recent constitutional developments, but also during those developments. A telegram that I have received only today confirms that view. Dealing with the migration policy in India, the Indian spokesman recently referred to in the press made no special reference to Australia. He was referring to the policy of migration in relation to all countries. A firm and lasting understanding with the people of India - this is not merely desirable but also essential - can be based only on a frank understanding of the immigration policy of this country. No nation makes more definite demands to the right to determine the constitution of their own population than do China and India. We demand that right for this country. No doubt honourable members will have some suggestions to make about this matter. I believe that a clear and frank understanding of our basic policy on migration is an absolute condition to rapid progress in cooperation between the two countries. I do not think there will be any difficulty in reaching that understanding. No doubt there are some rules and regulations that might be altered to connection with the visits to Australia by students, and also by representatives of commercial undertakings to permit a freer flow of trade between this country and Eastern countries. But the migration policy to which all members of this House are pledged is basic to our economy, and I do not think that the government of India would ever challenge it. Certainly it has not done so in the negotiations or discussions that have already taken place."

Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates 26 February 1947 p. 165





7. Arthur Calwell


Arthur Calwell was born at 100 Stanley Street West Melbourne on the August 28 1896. He was one of seven children of a Catholic policeman. At age six he survived diphtheria that affected his throat and larynx and vocal chords for the rest of his life. When he was eight, his mother took him to Melbourne city to hear the man he would later succeed in the Federal Parliament, Dr. William Maloney. In 1913, he started work in the Victorian Public Service in the Department of Agriculture. At age eighteen, he was secretary of the Melbourne branch of the A.L.P. During World War One, Calwell was a fierce opponent of conscription and went to the mass meetings, 70,000 strong, to hear anti-conscriptionists such as Frank Brennan, Frank Anstey and others attack William Hughes over the issue. Although an opponent, Arthur Calwell volunteered for military service but was rejected. He stayed at the Victorian Department of Agriculture until 1927 when he transferred to the Treasury, remaining until 1940, when Dr. Maloney died and he was elected his successor. In 1931, he was elected President of the Victorian Branch of the Labor Party. In 1943, Labor Prime Minister Curtin appointed Calwell to his Cabinet as Minister For Information. When Curtin put forward his plans for conscription, Calwell opposed him. Although it can be argued Calwell was wrong then, it must be said that his stand on the issue never changed through to the Vietnam War.

In 1945, Prime Minister Chifley appointed Calwell as the first Minister For Immigration, a post he held until 1949. It was Calwell who invented he term 'New Australian' to describe the new settlers from all parts of Europe. He should go down in history as the greatest Minister For Immigration Australia ever produced. His program was so successful that the Menzies' government maintained it. After the bitter years of Dr. Evatt's leadership of the Labor Party, Calwell took charge in 1960. In the election of 1961, the Menzies government scraped back on a few hundred votes in a single seat. This seat, Moreton, the Liberal candidate, Jim Killen, won the seat with Communist Party preferences. Nationally, the A.L.P. out-polled the Liberals.

In 1963, Menzies called a snap election a year before time and the result was that the Liberals won seventy-two seats to Labor's fifty. The result could be explained by the electorate's concern over the situation in South East Asia and the Democratic Labour Party's preferences favouring the Liberals.

In 1966, Calwell faced a new opponent in Harold Holt. The Vietnam War was popular with voters. Calwell opposed the Vietnam War and conscription. Interestingly, Gough Whitlam adopted a more moderate attitude Australia's involvement than Calwell's. Calwell attempted to adopt a modified isolationist White Australia argument in opposing the conscription of Australian youth for Vietnam. However 1966 was not 1916 and he lost the election in a Liberal landslide. During this election campaign, Calwell attended a meeting a Mosman Town Hall and after the meeting he saw a young man running towards his car. Thinking he was a well-wisher, Calwell wound down the window of the vehicle and a shot rang out. Mr. Peter Cocan had attempted his assassination. He lost his position as Opposition Leader in 1967 to Gough Whitlam, an ardent liberal internationalist who would go on to say: "The White Australia Policy is dead; give me a shovel, and I will bury it." (Spoken while he was toasting the health of the notoriously corrupt oriental dictator, Ferdinand Marcos who looted his countries treasury of billions of dollars which went into Swiss bank accounts Whitlam also gave the green light to the military dictator of Indonesia, General Sueharto to invade East Timor and who committed one of the worst genocides of the Twentieth Century.)

Calwell also stood up for the rights and heritage of Australian Aborigines, stating shortly after he entered parliament on June 25 1941:"I direct the attention of the House to the flagrant and disgraceful manner in which the Parliament and people of Australia are treating the Aboriginals." In believing that "we should try to assist" Aborigines "in every way possible", he showed himself a true patriot. He later said in his autobiography : "They are the only non-European descended people to whom we owe any debt." He appreciated that Aboriginal Australia and White Australia were bonded in the struggle against Asia.

"I stated on the previous occasion that Australia will not continue to be a white man's country even if we win this war, unless it has a population of approximately forty millions."

"No sensible man would honestly object to the immigration of white people under proper conditions."

"It would be far better for us to have in Australia twenty million or thirty million people of one hundred per cent white extraction than to continue the narrow policy of having a population of seven million people who are 98% British.

Mr Rankin: And commit national suicide?

Mr. Calwell: Yes."

"There will be no future for Australia unless it has a population to defend it when a militarized Asia, not a militarized Japan, moves south, at a time when Europe will probably have settled its many quarrels and when America may be disinclined to give us any further assistance."

"If we are to remain a white race, we can do nothing else than maintain the White Australia Policy. If we cannot get a population of twenty million or thirty million people in this country within a generation or so, by means of immigration and an increase of the birth rate, the day of the white race in Australia will be finished."

"I proudly take my stand with those who have issued a Christian program for social justice in the names of the Anglican Social Questions Committee, Catholic Action, and Christian Social Order Council, the way to have a sane and safe Australia is to give social justice to everybody. We shall not be able to hold this country as a citadel of European civilization in this part of the world unless we can obtain a population of fifteen million or twenty million within a generation."

"I do not agree that the White Australia Policy is of economic origin. Our immigration restriction laws are not based upon economic grounds. They are based upon our national desire to preserve the homogeneity of our race which is the right of every people Asian and European alike."

"The Indonesians have no claim whatsoever to Dutch New Guinea whether on ethnical, historical or other grounds … We shall never be able to make an alliance with Indonesia or other Asiatic country unless we give to the people of that country the same opportunity to settle in Australia as is enjoyed by Europeans, and we could do that only at our peril."

The previous quotes are extracts from a biography: Nelson Kiernan, Calwell: A Personal And Political Biography, pp. 79, 80, 81, 83, 171, 172.


"No red blooded Australian wants a chocolate coloured Australia."

"A man who is not proud of his race, is not a man at all."

From Arthur Calwell, Be Just And Fear Not, 1972.
(Note: Calwell's autobiography is such a rich source of material, that the reader should, indeed must, consult it. This book is a great statement of Australian nationalism.)


"So long as the Labor Party remains in power there will be no watering down of the White Australia Policy … No matter how violent the criticism, no matter how fierce and unrelenting the attacks on me personally may be, I am determined that the Flag of White Australia will not be lowered … A united race of freedom-loving Australians who can intermarry without the disadvantages that inevitably result from the fusion of dissimilar races, a united people who share the same loyalties, the same outlook and the same tradition … "

The Sydney Morning Herald, March 24 1949.


"The ultra-conservatives and land-barons would like vast pools of near-slave labour, the communists wish to bring about any condition of strife poverty and mistrust in the community which would make good government more difficult … Asians present a menace to our society. Australians are fearful of foreigners. They have xenophobia and they do not want their rhythm of life disrupted. Because of this, the established policy is the best one."

Arthur Calwell, Danger For Australia, Government Publications, 1949, p.7


"It is true that a measure of discrimination on racial grounds is exercised in the administration of our immigration policy. That is inevitable in a policy which is based on the concept that the homogeneous character of the population, which settled and developed the country, shall be maintained."

Arthur Calwell, Australian Tradition In Immigration, p.5


"The only claim ever made or implied in our policy is that there are different varieties of the human species distinguished from one and other not by skin pigmentation but by languages, religions, standards of living, cultures and historical backgrounds, and that it is wise to avoid internecine strife, and the problems of miscegenation which such differences have caused in all countries throughout history where races of irreconcilable characteristics have lived in the same community."

The West Indian Economist, March 1960, p. 26.


"Australians are descended, to a predominant degree, from people of English, Scotch, Irish and Welsh origins. That predominance should not be disturbed. Labor believes that our policy of assimilation and absorption is the only sensible policy for Australia to pursue. It is determined to continue to oppose, for many obvious reasons, any attempt to create a multi-racial society in our midst. We can and do absorb migrants from Asia as well as from Europe and we shall continue to do so, but a policy that avoids the tragedies of Ceylon, Fiji, Indonesia and Singapore to give but a few instances is one to be supported. It must have the support of all Australians, young and old, and whether born in this country or not, who are mindful of their heritage and the need to maintain and improve their living standards and social conditions."

Arthur Calwell, Canberra Times, November 11 1966.


In May 1972, the Ecumenical Council of Australia issued a joint statement on behalf of the World Council of Churches and the Catholic Bishops deploring the measure of race as the basis of selection for migrants to Australia. Arthur Calwell put up on the noticeboard in the Parliament House Press Gallery a last testament and warning to the people of Australia:

"I am neither terrorised nor influenced by the pious outpouring of those prelates who seek to stigmatize all red-blooded Australians who want to keep this country as our pioneers, those who were born here or came here before Federation, made it. Why can't the bishops develop a new theory on war? When will most of our Christian clergy stop pandering to the middle class in our supposedly Christian community and stop posturing when it comes to opening the floodgates to unwanted and unnecessary coloured migrants? The silence of Dean Maitland was eloquent alongside the mammoth silence of most of our church leaders on everything associated with the brutal, filthy, immoral, unwinnable, criminal, genocidal, civil war in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia."



The Association for the Advancement of Australian Culture