by Stephen Holt
(A review of Liam Byrne’s new book Becoming John Curtin and James Scullin: The making of the modern Labor Party. The article was published in The Canberra Times of 7 July 2020 and is posted here with the permission of the author.)
On 14 December 1918 an election took place in the federal seat of Corangamite. It was held to choose a successor to the previous member J. C Manifold who had fallen victim to the influenza pandemic that was then sweeping the world. Continue reading
Australian Prime Ministers get to have a federal electorate named after them after they die.
There are 22 deceased Australian Prime Ministers and after the latest redistribution there are, seemingly in line with this practice, 22 federal seats bearing the name of a deceased Prime Minister.
There is an anomaly though and it bears directly on our very latest Prime Minister. Continue reading
First published in The Canberra Times’ Public Sector Informant December 2015
Troy Bramston and Paul Kelly’s new book, The dismissal: in the Queen’s name, refers to a private seminar arranged for then governor-general Sir John Kerr at the Australian National University in September 1975.
Originally published in Now & Then magazine of the National Museum of Labour – April 2011
Speech to the Sydney Institute – 9 June 2010
The late public servant and ALP official, Bill Byrne, was an engaging link to Labor’s history in Canberra, Stephen Holt writes. Continue reading
February 5, 2013
Labor’s first federal preselection contest in the ACT was conducted after the Chifley government awarded Canberrans parliamentary representation. The resulting preselection turned out to be a fraught affair indeed, replete with chicanery and religious sectarianism. Continue reading
by Stephen Holt
This is a condensed version of a longer article published elsewhere on this site under the heading Billy Hughes’ Canberra Son. Continue reading
William Morris Hughes remains the archetypal Judas-figure in the demonology of the Australian Labor Party. He was a leading figure in the early party but split from it in 1916 over the issue of military conscription and threw in his lot with the anti-Labor forces in federal politics. There was no reconciliation with his former comrades.
What is still vaguely remembered, though, is that Billy Hughes had a son who in the grim years of the 1930s was involved in organised agitation in support of unemployed workers thereby creating a piquant contrast with his father’s act of desertion. This latter-day embrace of the labour cause within the Hughes family took place in Canberra and forms a significant episode in its local political history. Continue reading
Review of ACT Labour 1929-2009 – A Short History
Chris Monnox, Ginninderra Press, Port Adelaide 2013
The Australian Labor Party is not a terribly alluring outfit these days. Any core cohesive beliefs are difficult to identify while its membership base badly needs resuscitating and is still under the thumb of factional hacks. This unattractiveness makes it harder for the ALP to produce stable reforming governments anywhere in the continent. Continue reading