Category Archives: Culture, Arts, Literature & Media

The fallacy of remoteness

The fallacy of remoteness

KM Dallas

Kenneth McKenzie Dallas (1902- 1988) was a Tasmanian historian, teacher, writer and socialist. In September 1968, the Tasmanian Historical Research Association (THRA) published a collection of three articles by Dallas, each offering a different perspective on aspects of Australian history.
The second of the three: ‘The fallacy of remoteness’ is a critique of Geoffrey Blainey’s ‘Tyranny of Distance.’ Dallas argues that “The inland plains were a land of promise not a distance to be overcome” (p 55).  The article is republished here with the kind permission of the THRA.

Dallas – The fallacy of remoteness

What happened to Childe?

V. Gordon Childe (1892-1957) made himself the most influential Australian scholar in the humanities and social sciences. Forty years after his death, his ideas stimulate thinkers well beyond his own field of Prehistoric archaeology. Humphrey McQueen has returned to Childe’s writings to reflect on current disputes about facts, theorising and politics in the piecing together of our past. Continue reading

26 January – or thereabouts

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

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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‘…with love and fury’ – The centenary of Judith Wright, 31 May 1915


 Humphrey McQueen

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

An Australian Newspaper in Paraguay 1894–1904

 by Victor Isaacs


Following the failures of the maritime dispute in 1890, the shearers’ dispute in 1891 and the great economic depression of the early 1890s, many in the Australian working class came to the conclusion that Australia would not become a workingman’s paradise. Some sought other solutions, such as starting anew elsewhere. Continue reading

Labour Dailies


by Victor Isaacs


This is not an article based on deep research – it is more in the nature of a survey of already published information, with a bit added by me. It surveys labour daily newspapers in Australia, that is, newspapers controlled by the labour movement, which attempted or claimed to provide a comprehensive daily news service. Continue reading


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

2011 ASSLH conference – Framing the Unions: The Changing Images of Unionists on Screen


Framing the Unions: The Changing Images of Unionists on Screen

Lisa Milner


 In Australia in the 1950s, the Waterside Workers’ Federation Film Unit was the only film production group in the world that was funded by a trade union. The unit produced short films on subjects that other production units would never tackle, like the political background of protests from the union members’ viewpoint, and issues concerning workers’ rights. The filmmakers took a particular stylistic approach to the portrayal of workers, in a period when attempting to make public any labour culture was problematic.  

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