Category Archives: Speeches & lectures

Unions and anti-Chinese agitation on the Victorian goldfields

Unions and anti-Chinese agitation on the Victorian goldfields
The Clunes riot of 1873

by Jerome Small

Small, Jerome – Clunes riot 1873

This paper (access via the above link) was presented at the seventh national Labour History Conference held in Canberra in April 2001. It never appeared in the published proceedings. At a time of heightened anti-Chinese racism in Australia, its publication now in 2020 is a timely reminder of how little has changed. The paper was condensed from the author’s 1997 Honours thesis which can be found in full at the following website:

Why did Australia go to the great war?

We gratefully acknowledge permission from the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society at UNSW to publish this excellent collection of seminar papers on Australia’s involvement in World War 1.

Click here to access the papers.


ACSACS Occasional Paper Series No. 8

Why did Australia go to the great war?

Proceedings of a Symposium held at the University of New South Wales, Canberra 8 May 2018

Edited by Peter Stanley


Peter Stanley: Introduction

Greg Lockhart: Effacing the nation: the imperial romance and its persistence in Australian Great War history

John Mordike: Outlining national-imperial tensions in the development of the Australian Military Forces, 1901-14

Douglas Newton: Choosing war, and choosing war aims: British and Australian decision-making, 1914-1918

Gerhard Fischer: The Little Welshman’s dream: the war aims of William Morris Hughes

John Moses: Between truth and polemic: comprehending imperial Germany’s war-aims 1914-18

Robert Stevenson: ‘Why Australia Went to the Great War’ – Commentary

Published by the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society, March 2019

Oily Sam Griffith’s moment of truth


Oily Sam Griffith’s moment of truth

Humphrey McQueen

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

James Normington Rawling Collection

James Normington Rawling Centenary Seminar – 17 Apr 1998

This seminar was co-hosted by the ASSLH and the Noel Butlin Archives Centre (NBAC) to celebrate the centenary of the birth of James Normington Rawling (1898-1966) returned serviceman, pacificist, rationalist turned CPA functionary, expelled from the CPA in 1939, flirted with Trotskyism, became chief informer at the Victorian Royal Commission on the Communist Party in 1949, was subsequently connected with Catholic Action and the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Rawling was a literary historian, a pioneer labour historian and unrivalled collector of Australian radical manuscripts, pamphlets and ephemera. Continue reading

Conscription for war and profit

Conscription for war and profit: classes, nation-market-states and empires

Humphrey McQueen

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.[1] Within two years, the lyrics of ‘Ca ira’ had been rewritten to include ‘Les aristocrates a la lanterne!’[2]

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Conscription – the sequel

Conscription: The Sequel*

Bill Thompson

Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Canberra Region Branch

This paper will briefly examine the aftermath of the failed attempts to introduce conscription for overseas service into the Australian military forces during World War I. It will discuss the inter-war years; the constraints imposed by anti-conscription sentiments on recruitment for World War II, and the subsequent, successful, but again controversial, introduction of two conscription schemes for military service in the 1950s and 1960s. The situation at the present time will then be reviewed. Continue reading

Port Adelaide Workers Memorial

Speech by Humphrey McQueen at the Port Adelaide Workers Memorial
May Day 2011

Pt Adelaide workers memorialOne 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

Speech to May Day Dinner, Adelaide, 2011


Humphrey McQueen

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.

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Humphrey McQueen

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

The Catholic Right in SA Labor

Gary Lockwood


A speech delivered by Mr Gary Lockwood – (President of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History – Adelaide Branch) at a meeting of the Florey Sub Branch of the ALP on Monday 21st February 2011.

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Pig Iron

3CR,  ‘Solidarity Breakfast’, 14 December 2013

Humphrey McQueen

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