Oily Sam Griffith’s moment of truth
Broadcast on Melbourne community radio 3CR 30 September 2017
Samuel Walker Griffith is known today from a NSW country town, an inner Canberra suburb and a Queensland university. The more politically aware might recall that he drafted the Commonwealth Constitution in 1891 and became the first Chief Justice in 1903, having served as Premier of Queensland and its Chief Justice from 1893. Continue reading
The forgotten fascists – Menzies’ chosen people
For the 75th anniversary of the start of the Menzies radio addresses, Howard and his gang are in the business of promoting ’the greatest speech ever made in this country’. The fact that ‘The Forgotten People’ was not a speech but one of a series of wireless broadcasts is the least of their lies. Their Big Lie will be to conceal what their hero had dared to say. Continue reading
FRESH BOER WAR ATROCITY
The Boer War memorial along Canberra’s Anzac Parade includes statues of four horsemen to represent an Australian patrol on the Veldt. What truth demands is a Boer War memorial with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to recall the 25,000 Boer women and children and at least 15,000 black Africans who died in British concentration camps. Continue reading
by Humphrey McQueen
26 January – or thereabouts
Vox Pop illustrates that the most enthusiastic celebrants of Australia Day do not always know what happened on 26 January 1788 in Sydney Cove. Continue reading
Conscription for war and profit: classes, nation-market-states and empires
Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Canberra Branch,
Seminar, Saturday, 29 October 2016: ‘The defeat of conscription: a centennial retrospective’.
‘Here and today, a new epoch in the history of the world has begun.’ So said Johann Wolfgang Goethe to the Prussian commanders on the night after their defeat at Valmy on 20 September 1792. French volunteers had charged the invaders’ guns shouting ‘Vive la Nation!’ and singing ‘Ca ira’ – ‘It goes well, It goes well, It goes well.’ ‘A new epoch’ indeed, for, on the following day, the Convention abolished the monarchy. Within two years, the lyrics of ‘Ca ira’ had been rewritten to include ‘Les aristocrates a la lanterne!’
by Humphrey McQueen
A revival of interest in the dismissal of the Whitlam government on 11 November 1975 is focusing on who advised the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr. The role of the Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Garfield Barwick, has been known almost from the start. Knowledge of a second counselor has been there for many years, with the near certainty that he was also a member of the High Court, and later Chief Justice, Sir Anthony Mason. Continue reading
Speech by Humphrey McQueen at the Port Adelaide Workers Memorial
May Day 2011
One does good, neither from fear of punishment nor promise of reward, but because good is good to do. They were the sentiments of the nineteenth-century American Rationalist, Colonel Robert Ingersoll, whose writings would have been popular with some the people whose names went on to the Workers’ memorial. Continue reading
Although we are more than half way through our May Day dinner, it is never too late to say grace: ‘For the food and drinks that we are enjoying, we thank the working classes’. We have already expressed our thanks to the catering staff who know that the good things have come from further afield than their kitchen. Hence, we thank farmers and fruit-pickers; the factory hands who built the tractors and trucks; the navvies who laid the expressways and rail tracks; the building workers who constructed the processing plants and warehouses; the packers and delivery drivers; the clerks in offices and supermarkets. It is to them, and many more, that we owe the food we put on our tables three times a day. Hence, we owe all our meals to the entirety of the working people, to a social continuum of human creativity around the globe. We should have the grace to thank them.
Article headed Down Under Brunuel by Humphrey McQueen
Published by Meanjin Quarterly Vol 35/2 June 1976
Describes chaotic scenes at an ANU event attended by then Governor-General Sir John Kerr.
Kerr at Bruce Hall 1976
18 May 2015
I think poetry should be treated, not as a lofty art separated from life, but as a way of seeing and expressing not just the personal view, but the whole context of the writer’s times. For me, it has been a way of searching for understanding of my own life and of what was happening to me and around me.
Judith Wright, ‘Foreword’, A Human Pattern (1989)
‘… with love and fury’ is how the environmentalist, feminist, historian, literary critic, poet and secretary of the Treaty Committee, Judith Wright, often signed off her letters to friends. Continue reading
Speech by Humphrey McQueen at launch of Paul Robert Adams’s ‘The best hated man in Australia’, The Life and Death of Percy Brookfield 1875-1921 (Puncher & Wattmann), held at the Noel Butlin Archives Centre, Australian National University on 25 August 2010. Continue reading
(The Queensland Journal of Labour History, 11 September 2010, pp. 24-31.)
The Queensland branch the Australian Builders’ Labourers’ Federation (ABLF) is unique in keeping the BLF name alive for the Federation’s centenary on 9 September 2010. Continue reading
Speech to Wikileaks rally, Garema Place, Canberra, 16 December 2010
By what right are we here today? Why are we confident that we can protest and not be shot at by the political police on the fringes of this crowd? We take it granted that we won’t be arrested as we leave. We do not expect to lose our jobs by speaking out for Wikileaks. Continue reading
By Humphrey McQueen
A talk given at the Katoomba section of the Sydney Writers’ Festival, 17 May 2011 to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Varuna Writers’ Centre. Continue reading
Navvies rocked this city
Canberra Historical Journal, New Series, 67, December 2011, pp. 17-24.
For the Federal Area to become a Federal Capital on the ground as well as in law, hundreds of navvies had to construct before tradesmen and other labourers could build. Continue reading
Humphrey McQueen (2012)
Media coverage of the ALP’s deal with Rinehart to import 1,715 skilled and semi-skilled construction workers for Roy Hill has been as intense as it has been shallow. These notes place the 457 visas and Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMAs) in larger contexts – industrial, economic, political and social-cultural. Continue reading
November 13th, 2013, Wheeler Centre, Melbourne.
Sponsored by Spirit of Eureka, Victorian Trades Hall and Liberty Victoria Continue reading
3CR, ‘Solidarity Breakfast’, 14 December 2013
Seventy-five yeas ago, the wharfies at Port Kembla were in the middle of a two-month strike. They were not out over wages or working conditions, crook though both were. They were in a political strike to stop the export of pig iron to Japan. Continue reading
Seeing Red, 2003 (slightly updated)
The current campaigns to defend and extend Medicare offer the opportunity to diagnose the commodification of life, both by merchandisers and by corporatised medicine. Whether health care is treated as a human right or as a commodity will always be the outcome of social action. Human rights are brought into existence through imagination and struggle. Continue reading