When the Australian ruling class embraced fascism

It is commonplace today to treat the far right and far left as mirror images of each other: both extreme, ideologically rigid, intolerant and similarly isolated from the sensible mainstream.

But history demonstrates that there is little truth to this characterisation. Behind a considerable veil of secrecy though it may be, the history of the Australian far right is one closely intertwined with that of the ruling apparatus: the political establishment, business circles, the military and police force. The far right’s main leaders have been drawn almost exclusively from the upper echelons of society: the wealthy, the respectable middle class, the military brass and the political elite. The same cannot be said of the far left.

Nor can it be said that the far right and far left have faced similar levels of hostile interest from the security services. Indeed despite its predisposition to unconstitutional and seditious acts, the far right has operated essentially with impunity for much of its existence. Nor has it faced vilification or censure as a result of its extreme ideas and activities. It has tended to arouse the sympathy and organisational protection of the powers that be much more than their wrath.

This history is not well known. In part this is due to the covert or legally dubious nature of much far right activity, and the consequent need for secrecy. But it also reflects the shadow that historical perspective has cast over its activities. Enthusiasm about Mussolini or the Third Reich is rightly regarded as shameful today, but it was common currency within Australian conservative circles of the 1920s and 1930s. Repression and intimidation of the union movement and the left, a willingness to dispense with democracy in favour of dictatorship and rampant authoritarianism – all qualities the Australian far right admired about European fascism – were widely considered at the time to be both desirable and applicable here.

The myth of Australia as a happy-go-lucky egalitarian country free from the ideological baggage of Old Europe obscures this record and fosters complacency that fascist ideas could never take hold here. But with the far right once again entering the political mainstream in the form of right wing populism laced with virulent racism, raising awareness about this history is a vitally important part of meeting the threat posed by the far right’s resurgence today.

Defining the movement

The Australian far right movement is complex and not well suited to strict classification. It has consisted of a spectrum of organisations, ranging from the conservative to the openly fascist. Within these groups there has often been a diversity of political viewpoints. Added to this, no single group, with the partial exception of the New Guard, has achieved national prominence, and many of them have tended to be short-lived. To further complicate the matter, there has been significant overlap between the far right and mainstream conservatism.

Given these difficulties and the problems inherent in clearly demarcating far right movements and ideology from that which it is appropriate to label fascist, this article will examine a range of groups that can reasonably be considered to be on the extreme edge of right wing politics. The characteristics that qualify them for consideration here include a sycophantic loyalty to the British empire, with the consequent racism associated with that which meant support for white Australia, rabid hostility towards Irish catholics, and anti-semitism. They stood for an authoritarian commitment to preserving the economic status quo, a willingness to embrace dictatorship over democracy when the interests of the capitalist class are threatened, an acceptance of the need for violence to achieve this goal and a vehement opposition to the left, from communism to the union movement and Labor Party.

The fact that they do not necessarily share all the features of the European fascist regimes, and therefore don’t lend themselves entirely accurately to the label fascist, should not be interpreted as implying that they are any less of a threat, or less ideologically extreme.

The far right pre-World War I

Far right activity can be traced back to the earliest days of white Australia. The weak position of the colonial ruling class – underpinned by their geographic isolation, relatively small size, weak state apparatus and the restive, heavily Irish population of colonial Australia – tended to make them fearful and paranoid.

One consequence of this was the tendency of the colonial rulers to adhere more vehemently to British customs and culture than even was the case in Britain at the time. Indeed, contrary to the nationalist folklore of egalitarian mateship dominating Australian life, the Australian ruling elite has historically been more uptight, reactionary and resistant to change than their supposedly more stuffy European brethren. Defending the British empire and British customs from various threats was in fact an obsession for them, in stark contrast to the pervasive image of Australia as a laid back, happy-go-lucky paradise free from the class-ridden norms of Old Europe.

Related to this was the colonial ruling class’s acute fear of the masses and hostility to democratic reform of any kind. The achievement, for example, of universal male suffrage in 1859, along with the land laws of 1860-61, was profoundly unsettling for them. As Andrew Moore has argued, their “wistful longing for a pre-democratic age, for the ‘old days’ before the levelling influence of democracy…corrupted political life” was a defining characteristic of the colonial elite.[1] Not surprisingly then, the numerous struggles and riots of the 1850s and 1860s perturbed them greatly. During the Lambing Flat riots of 1861, one historian describes how “in Sydney drawing rooms respectable people were talking of the advantage of military dictatorship in keeping down the unruly and vagabond element”.[2]

These authoritarian inclinations, born from fear and impotence in the face of popular revolt, created fertile conditions for the growth of a far right movement. From them developed a convention that would become central to the movement: that of wealthy and influential private citizens volunteering or being called on to uphold law and order and reinforce state power in times of social crisis. The Sydney Police Act of 1855 explicitly provided for such measures in the event that “any tumult had taken place, or may be reasonably apprehended”.[3] Such paramilitary activities forged links between conservative individuals and associations within the colonies, laying the basis for longer term collaboration and ideological accord.

The labour movement in Australia provided no shortage of opportunities for such collaboration. The strikes of the 1890s, in particular the 1890 maritime strike and a series of bitterly fought shearers’ strikes, were important examples. Lasting two months, the maritime strike involved 50,000 workers, including thousands from the mining and wool industry who came out in solidarity. The employers were determined to break the power of the unions and restore their authority in the workplaces. To achieve this, they arrayed all their power against the workers, including the courts, the police, scabs and right wing thugs to protect them. Thousands of “special constables” were recruited into the New South Wales police force for this purpose, swelling police numbers from 559 before the strike to 3,952 during it.[4] This was a mobilisation of politically motivated civilians, organised through the apparatus of the state to repress rebellious workers.

The 1891 Queensland shearers’ strike was even more of a life and death struggle. It led to battles between strikers and strike breakers so intense they threatened to escalate into civil war. The pastoralists recruited an army of scabs and the Queensland colonial government dispatched artillery and 1,422 mounted soldiers as well as vast numbers of police to protect them. The key strike leaders were rounded up and given harsh prison sentences, and hundreds of rank and file shearers were arrested and jailed.[5] Similar methods and forces were used against the even more brutal 1894 shearers’ strike in NSW, though this time they failed to crush the unionists.

Ultimately, the employers emerged victorious from this wave of strikes, their courts, police and strike-breaking militias proving too great a force for the workers to overcome. Yet from this victory emerged new problems for the right wing and the ruling class. In particular, the formation of the Labor Party in the strikes’ aftermath was, from the point of view of the far right, a disastrous development and an affront to decency and order.

The perception of the ALP as exclusively representing the sectional interests of workers in parliament – as opposed to society as a whole as the ruling class parties professed to do – was almost too much for the colonial rulers to bear. The Sydney Morning Herald expressed this sentiment in 1891: “[o]ur greatest peril comes from the intrusion…of the labour struggle into the field of politics” which would bring “social strife” and “extreme bitterness and violence”.[6] The right’s hostility to the Labor Party, and the communist menace that it supposedly formed a Trojan horse for, was to become a key rallying point during World War One and the inter-war years.

World War I

The First World War gave rise to profound turmoil and political polarisation in Australian society. Two bitterly fought referendums on conscription in 1916 and 1917 intensified this into open conflict. On one side were most politicians, the wealthy, the protestant churches, the middle class and the press, all of whom stridently supported the war and conscription, were loyal to the British Empire and considered those who weren’t to be traitors. On the other was most of the ALP, the unions, the socialist groups, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and Irish catholics. The most prominent opponent of conscription outside of the labour movement was the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Daniel Mannix, who considered the war to be nothing more than “a trade war”[7] and conscription to be “a hateful thing”.[8] This alliance between the labour movement and the Catholic Church terrified the right.

Both referendums resulted in a defeat for the pro-conscription campaign, causing ever greater panic within the ruling class. The issue split the Labor Party, leading to the dramatic expulsion of the pro-conscription prime minister, Billy Hughes.

Meanwhile strike levels, which had plummeted at the beginning of the war, began to surge after 1916. In 1917, industrial action started by engineers in tramways workshops in New South Wales escalated into a mass nation-wide strike involving 97,000 workers.[9] Despite massive support, including regular demonstrations in the Sydney Domain involving over 100,000 people, the strike ended in a severe defeat for the workers. The large-scale mobilisation of scab labour and strike breakers by the government was crucial to this outcome.

Yet despite the right’s victory, the mass strike left a bitter legacy for the far right: avenging the “curs of 1917” became a preoccupation in conservative circles. It provided confirmation that the right’s fears of rebellion were well founded and symbolised all that they saw as their duty to prevent.

International developments only added to the atmosphere of turmoil. The Dublin Uprising of Easter 1916 exacerbated right wing concern about the ever disloyal Irish being galvanised into treasonous action locally. And of course the Russian Revolution of 1917 radicalised workers everywhere, including in Australia, where it provided the impetus for the formation of the Communist Party of Australia. This only further fuelled the right’s paranoia. So radical was the situation perceived to be in this period that in April 1917 the King’s private secretary reportedly opined of Australia “the Socialistic element seems to be asserting itself as much as it does at the present time in Petrograd”.[10]

The government attempted to respond, unleashing a wave of repression against the left, and rushing through a host of authoritarian measures intended to curb dissent. This included the collection of information on prominent activists, the banning of numerous publications and restrictions on democratic rights. In 1916 twelve members of the IWW were arrested and jailed for treason and the IWW was declared illegal under the Unlawful Associations Act. So intense was the repression that even the Commonwealth solicitor-general, Sir Robert Garran, was moved to comment that “John Citizen was hardly able to lift a finger without coming under the penumbra of some technical offence under the War Precautions Regulations”.[11]

This was not sufficient to allay conservative concerns about an imminent communist uprising however. A lack of confidence in the state’s capacity to meet the threat, combined with a perception that social order was breaking down, spurred them into action.

In 1918, a series of meetings involving powerful and influential people formed the Australian Protective League (APL). Inspired by the American Protection League, the APL’s purpose was to coordinate the country’s “best citizens” into paramilitary squads ready to assist with the maintenance of law and order when called upon to do so.[12] It was also involved in carrying out surveillance of “enemy activities”. Herbert Brookes, industrialist and doyen of the Melbourne establishment – the Malcolm Turnbull-type liberal of the day – headed up the League with a group of handpicked influential friends including solicitors, academics and aldermen. Also connected with it were the acting prime minister, the defence minister, top spies and military figures, as well as a slew of influential Melbourne capitalists.[13]

Military and ex-military figures played a central role in this flurry of far right organising. As the key historian of the security services in Australia, Frank Cain, has outlined:

Indeed it was the Australian Army who saw itself in the forefront of any drive to stem revolutionary action in Australia. On 18 January 1919, the Chief of the General Staff, Major-General Legge, called a meeting in Melbourne with Mitchell, Inspector-General of Police in New South Wales, and W.R. Davidson, Acting Chief Commissioner of Police for Victoria, to discuss cooperative action in dealing with any Bolshevik revolutionary action that could be launched under cover of an industrial dispute. The Army was to provide military equipment, groups of picked men with machine guns and aeroplanes with bombs. The police were to supplement their numbers with special mounted constables recruited by police officers in country districts.[14]

A key constituency the right set out to win over at this time was returned soldiers. These were a destabilising factor in Australian society, with many having arrived home traumatised and cynical about the war effort.[15] They typically had difficulty settling down and were inclined towards riotous behaviour. In the interests of stability as well as strengthening their own strike-breaking ranks, the right undertook to organise them. In 1916, the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA) – forerunner of the Returned Services League (RSL) – was formed as a means to achieve conservative hegemony over this volatile social layer.

The RSSILA/RSL was from the outset an organisation dominated by the officer class, not rank and file soldiers. It received government recognition in return for “defending the powers that be”, and had a political agenda which first and foremost involved “fighting Bolshevism”.[16] In 1919 it was able to muster a 2,000-strong army in Brisbane alone for this purpose. The RSL quickly became an important organisational hub for the various secret right wing militias that operated in the inter-war years, with the recent and collective experience of war for their membership making such activity seem relatively natural. The RSL also worked closely with other like-minded groups, such as the Loyalty League and the King and Empire Alliance.

The ideology of the RSL was typical of that which galvanised the far right at the time. It centred on the glorification of soldiers and militarism and enthusiasm about the British empire (which did not always sit easily with Australian nationalism). It involved a characterisation of Labor, unions and the left as disloyal German agents, intent on denigrating the sacrifice of soldiers. Striking during the war was considered the height of disloyalty and evidence of the pernicious influence of communism. Communism was considered the root of all evil, Lenin to be a German agent in league with the Kaiser, and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk a capitulation to the German hordes.

But while the RSL and groups like it provided boots on the ground, the key leadership of the far right movement around the time of the war was the commercial and social elite. These were businesspeople (many of whom were ex-military officers), university academics, landowners and members of the legal fraternity. And while these leaders preferred to exert their considerable influence primarily from the shadows, they did nevertheless establish a public profile as well.

In 1920, for example, the King and Empire Alliance was launched at a meeting of some thousands held at Sydney Town Hall. The Alliance quickly became the “largest and most vibrant organisation espousing the cause of imperial patriotism and anti-communism” and was, according to one of its leaders, an organisation “very much on the lines” of the “Fascisti movement in Italy”.[17] By 1922 it could claim a membership of 10,000.[18]

Another public group formed in Sydney in 1920 was the Commercial and Industrial Publicity Bureau (soon to become the Sane Democracy League [SDL]), the purpose of which was to “combat Communism, and to bring about a better understanding between employer and employee for the common good”.[19] The SDL also campaigned to “persuade employees of the errors of a socialist way of life”.[20] It held public meetings, ran a radio show and published a journal with a circulation of 10,000 per month, which covered a relatively narrow range of issues, consisting mostly of “Russia, communism, the Labor party, J.T. Lang, strikes and the evils of unionism”.[21]

According to its promotional material, the SDL was made up of “well known patriotic citizens” drawn primarily from the business elite.[22] These included wealthy tanners, people in military intelligence and parliamentarians.[23] It received funding from big business, in particular BHP, Commonwealth Steel and the Colonial Sugar Refineries.

Such links were typical of right wing groups in this period, as were links with the political establishment. The SDL, for instance, was “backed by the conservative political parties of the time and their extra-parliamentary groups”[24] and their membership also overlapped to some degree. One prominent SDL member was president of the Lane Cove branch of the United Australia Party (UAP) for 15 years; another was on the executive of the All For Australia League; and yet another, Millicent Preston-Stanley, was a UAP parliamentarian from 1925-27.[25]

Not surprisingly then, the state at this time showed a distinct sympathy for these far right groups over their left wing adversaries. One incident that took place in Brisbane was typical of this. It involved plans on the part of the Soviet Alliance (a left wing group made up of the significant anti-tsar Russian migrant population of Brisbane at the time) to hold a celebration to make the first anniversary of the Russian Revolution in Centennial Hall. The right-wing Loyalty League requested the Queensland Labor premier Ryan to stop the meeting on the basis that it represented a “threat to good order”. Ryan refused, upon which

[t]he Brisbane non-Labor press, the RSL and the Rejected Volunteers’ Association raised such an outcry over the meeting that Senator Pearce in Melbourne issued an order under the War Precautions Act that the Centennial Hall was to be kept closed because the proposed meeting would be “prejudicial to public safety”. Watt, the Acting Prime Minister, then telegraphed this prohibition to Ryan and the Army commandant in Brisbane. The Army appeared to show partiality in the affair, however, because instead of the hall being closed, the Loyalty League held a meeting of its own there on the same evening.[26]

In 1919 the attorney-general’s department established the Special Investigations Branch, headed up by Major H.E. Jones.[27] This became an integral link between the state and the far right. As Moore has pointed out, far right militias in post-war Australia were in essence “civilian auxiliaries linked to government through the Commonwealth Investigation Branch”.[28] Cain describes this dynamic:

In contrast to the thrusting and enterprising style with which the Branch pursued the left in Australia, its policy regarding the right was…marked by inactivity and moderation. No surveillance was maintained on the anti-Labor political groupings or their supporting organisations and when the new phenomenon of the radical right developed in Australia…the Branch displayed a marked reluctance to collect information about them. This was in spite of the fact that such groups were secretly organized and were known to conduct military-type drilling, to have access to arms and to be led and supported by senior Army officers.[29]

This even extended to tacit approval of the establishment of a secret society modelled on the Ku Klux Klan in New South Wales. A report from Longfield Lloyd from the Branch’s Sydney office described their stated aims – which included paramilitary activity as well as throwing prominent leftists out of the country – as “truly admit[ting] little answer”. He went on to comment approvingly that “it shows a wide terrain of thought amongst people, who, fired by the exploits of the Fascisti in Italy, are rather keen on clearing out the poisonous elements in our midst which the law, although fully adequate, has not been made to do”.[30]

The entry into parliament after the war of ex-military intelligence officers, people like John Latham and T.R. Bavin, brought with them a covert state mentality which helped to encourage this culture of tolerance toward secret militias and the like. In some cases, senior state officials themselves were directly involved in the organised right. Latham for example, who was attorney-general in the conservative Bruce government and instrumental in the formation of the Investigations Branch, was backed by the Australian Legion, a strongly anti-communist group modelled on Italian fascism. He was also a close associate of the then solicitor general, also a hard-line conservative. They shared friends and intellectual interests in common including, for example, both belonging to an informal but exclusive right wing discussion group known as the Bookbooks Society.[31] These overlapping networks of power and political affinity were a key source of the far right’s strength, and provided them substantial legal and political protection.

This was important given the nature of much far right activity at the time. Despite being formed on an ostensibly defensive basis, that is to protect the status quo against communist insurrection, their actual practice was much more like that of vigilantes.

In Brisbane, for example, right wing militias staged four weeks of street fighting between March and April 1919, during which they laid siege to the Russian Club for over three hours, stormed the offices of the ALP newspaper the Daily Standard and generally terrorised leftists. The “Red Flag Riots”, as they came to be known, were retaliation against the scandalous provocation of workers carrying red flags on a march organised by the Queensland Trades and Labor Council. Rioters were mobilised by the Returned Services League, which alone commanded as many as 2,000 men, as well as other right wing groups like the Royal Society of St George and the Navy League.[32]

There were similar offensive mobilisations in New South Wales in 1921. A few days after May Day in that year, a “monster loyalty meeting” of 100,000-150,000 descended on the Domain, bringing together right wingers from all over Sydney and rural New South Wales. The massive crowd brutally attacked representatives of the Socialist Labor Party, the Communist Party and the returned soldiers’ section of the ALP who had assembled for their customary speeches in the park, with one nearly having his eyes gouged out.[33] The loyalists then spent the remainder of the day marauding through the city threatening to attack left wing offices.

Victorian police strike

Perhaps the most important organising focus for the far right in the immediate post-war period though was the occasion of the 1923 police strike in Victoria. On 2 November, 650 Victorian police went on strike demanding better conditions and an end to the government’s covert monitoring of their work.[34]

The mere suggestion of strike action on the part of the very citizens expected to maintain law and order and themselves break picket lines struck terror into the hearts of the conservative establishment. The intense rioting, looting and general disorder that followed only compounded their distress.

Despite a massive deployment of force on the part of the Victorian state government, including patrols of lorries mounted with machine guns and the mobilisation of an entire navy fleet, the situation could not be brought under control. [35] Two days after the strike began the state government was forced to notify the Commonwealth that it could no longer guarantee the security of Commonwealth government buildings.

In the face of this weakness it was to the conservative citizenry, already cohered through the previous few years’ organising efforts, that the government turned. The premier assembled a Citizens’ Committee charged with the responsibility of “marshalling the resources of the community to meet any emergency”.[36] This led to the creation of a Special Constabulary Force under the leadership of Lieutenant-General John Monash, comprising 6,000 men (nearly ten times the number of police on strike) under arms.

This was an unprecedented mobilisation of the right. As Andrew Moore describes in his account of events, “[a]ppeals for volunteers were flashed onto cinema screens, employees in government departments were circularized… The newly formed Legacy Club and the newly formed returned soldiers’ association lent their support and after a phone call from Monash the Naval and Military Club emptied”.[37] Residents of Melbourne University’s elite colleges also rushed to join up.

Prominent within it were, as the Argus newspaper reported, “leading commercial and professional men” as well as some “interstate graziers” in town for the Melbourne Cup. The composition of the force itself was “strongly representative of the petit-bourgeoisie”.[38] The Melbourne Town Hall served as the centre of operations. Moore describes the scale of the effort:

Wireless communication was established between the Town Hall, various drill halls and the Base Commandant at Victoria Barracks… Liaison was also established between the Special Force and the Police Commissioner… Motor and horse transport were provided by the RAAF, the staff Corps and the Commonwealth Garage. The Royal Automobile Club also lent assistance.[39]

Plans were drawn up to bomb the bridges across the Yarra river to prevent workers crossing into the wealthy suburbs should the specials lose control of the situation. The special constables hospitalised 200 “rioters” on the night before the Melbourne Cup through actions that exposed the thin veneer of civilised order. As Moore put it:

Glittering steel and the rifle barrel rapidly emerge at times of social “crisis”… A reporter who witnessed the scene later recalled, “One thing that struck me was how easy it would be to raise a fascist army in Australia”.[40]

Ultimately, the strike breakers were able to subdue the unrest and defeat the strikers, although skirmishes continued in working class areas for some time afterwards. Monash’s specials were officially disbanded by May 1924, but the experience left an important legacy. One element of this was the creation of a Special Motor Patrol in Victoria comprised of people drawn from prominent Toorak families like the Baillieus. These patrols regularly cruised the streets armed with revolvers.

Another more important element of the strike’s legacy involved the creation of a secret organisation known as the White Army. This was a covert volunteer force with close connections to the security services, the purpose of which was to “rally in times of civil or industrial unrest”.[41] The White Army later formed the basis of the League for National Security (LNS), the largest and most important far right organisation in Victoria during the 1930s.

Composed of rich influential and respectable people sharing a contempt for democracy, the LNS largely cohered through social and business events that were not explicitly political. Its key leaders included Colonel F.P. Derham, an eminent solicitor, director of several Melbourne companies and future major general, Sir Edmund Herring, subsequently chief justice of the Victorian Supreme Court and then Lieutenant Governor of Victoria, and Sir Thomas Blamey, the Victorian police commissioner who later reached the exalted rank of Australia’s only field marshal and commander of the army in World War Two. Given Blamey’s involvement, it is hardly surprising that the LNS enjoyed the support of the police, who secured them access to ammunition via a friendly gun-maker and also provided them with access to the Williamstown armoury.[42]

The head of the Investigations Branch of the Victorian police, Roland Browne, estimated the LNS’s membership at around 30,000 in 1931.[43] He described it as “no doubt a big organization” with “groups in the city and suburbs and [which] can assemble a formidable protective force in the twinkle of an eye”.[44] Members of the LNS took an oath of loyalty and secrecy, and the organisation had different names in rural areas, making it difficult to gauge the full extent of its operations. One participant in it described the LNS’s mode of operation:

The organisation seemed to have what we would now recognize as fascist characteristics. The situation was that the civil power was about to lose control and that the RSL was mobilizing support… I was a member of the militia and the Melbourne University Rifles. We had been given to understand by the Adjutant that persons were required to be available in the event of civil emergency and that this was quite unofficial. A number of us went to the drill hall each lunch time, made contact with the Adjutant…and then went to practising handling our automatic weapons and machine guns.[45]

Within right wing circles, especially the LNS, there was widespread support for overriding the democratic system and installing a strongman. Their person of choice to take up this role of “controller or dictator” was former General John Monash.[46] Monash was known at the time as another small-l liberal, but it was widely recognised that such figures could seamlessly turn to anti-democratic, far right solutions when they felt their class was threatened. Although he supported the LNS and considered such an idea to have “merit”, Monash ultimately rejected the proposal.

In March 1931 the LNS, terrified by rumours of a march on Melbourne by the unemployed leading to an uprising by a coalition of communists and Irish catholics, mounted a co-ordinated military action throughout much of rural Victoria to crush the disloyalists. Thousands of heavily armed “loyal” respectable citizens were mobilised to seize control of dozens of towns. Machine gun posts and sandbagged gun emplacements were set up around vital infrastructure and key buildings. Catholic schools and churches (where the guns for the revolutionaries were supposedly being stored) were surrounded by these armed vigilantes. Subsequently this blatant example of the lengths to which the rich and powerful are prepared to go to defend their interests was almost totally written out of history.[47]

The LNS was not an isolated phenomenon. It formed the national leadership of a series of “secret armies” around the country that reached their zenith in the early 1930s. In Western Australia they were known as the Khaki Legion, in New South Wales the Old Guard or “X Force”, in South Australia the “Z Force” or special constables and in Tasmania and Queensland secret armies operated without formal titles.[48]

These forces played a role in breaking several strikes during the 1920s, and intimidating unionists. In 1925 for example, the conservative Bruce government asked a prominent member of the emerging far right militia movement, later to be Chief of Staff of the Old Guard, Major Jack Scott, to “recruit 500 men who could meet a large scale working class demonstration opposing the deportation of Walsh and Johnson”.[49] Walsh and Johnson had been the key leaders of the seamen’s strike earlier in 1925, in which Australian seamen had taken action in support of striking British seamen who at the time were tied up in Australian ports.[50] The Bruce government moved to deport them but had to back down after protests and a legal challenge found the action to be unconstitutional.

Similarly, in Adelaide during the 1928 waterside workers’ strike a civilian paramilitary group, the Citizens Defence Brigade, alternatively known as Z Force, was mobilised against the strikers.[51] Although this was their only serious mobilisation, it is estimated that up to 6,300 such paramilitary members were on standby in Adelaide in case of unrest.

Despite these episodes, in general the police proved themselves able to cope with most of the industrial disturbances of the late 1920s. This relative calm was to change in 1930 with the election of the Lang Labor government in NSW. The Lang government was everything the far right feared. Its election led to the most significant counter-revolutionary mobilisations of the inter-war years.

NSW 1931-32

The onset of the Depression created conditions in which the far right was readily able to grow, as was the far left. Massive unemployment, second only to that of Germany, along with the growth of the Communist Party, sparked fear among the wealthy and middle classes of imminent revolt. With one in three workers without a job, a slashing of the basic wage and ten percent reductions to all awards, fears of a restive working class were far from unfounded. The emerging fascist regimes in Europe seemed to offer a bulwark against this and for the far right served as a compelling example to emulate and to adapt to local conditions.

Spurred into action by these developments, there was a proliferation of far right groups in this period. The Who’s for Australia League, the All for Australia League, the Citizens’ League of South Australia, the Western Australian Liberation League, the new states movements in the Riverina and New England districts of NSW, as well as the better known New Guard, were all established or took off in this period. The most “pervasive, secretive but respectable of all” was the Old Guard, the New South Wales equivalent of the League of National Security. All of these groups built rapidly – the All for Australia League, for example, was estimated to have a following of 130,000 within months of its formation in 1931.[52]

But it was the election of the Lang Labor government that gave these burgeoning right wing organisations an immediate focus and mobilising purpose. Lang was a charismatic and popular politician who won the 1931 New South Wales state election in a landslide. Although not aligned with the left of the Labor Party, he became famous for championing the “Socialisation Units” as a democratic means to organise industry, moving against the undemocratic Senate and attempting to restore the 44-hour working week.[53] In February 1931, Lang announced a plan to suspend interest payments to British bondholders, reduce interest on Australian government borrowings from six to three percent and replace the gold standard of currency with a “goods standard”.[54] This was an attempt to stand up to those who, in Lang’s words, “want to take the bread from the mouths of your sons and daughters to satisfy the insatiable greed of financial interests”.[55]

But a premier with the self-described intent to “[p]ut the people of New South Wales before the British plutocrats” was too much for the far right. The enmity Lang aroused in conservative circles and among the wealthy cannot be overstated. For them, Lang’s plan “would destroy national stability and weaken the bonds of Empire”. Respectable bourgeois citizens were exhorted not to “stand by and see the fair name of Australia dragged into the dust of infamy”.[56] Lang’s infamy even spread as far as London, where the Daily Telegraph described him as the “Mad Dog Premier of New South Wales”.[57]

There was no question in conservative circles: Lang had to be destroyed. The general manager of the Bank of New South Wales (today’s Westpac), Alfred Davidson, summed up the mood of the time in a letter to a friend: “[t]he cat is out of the bag – Lang’s party has confessed itself openly Communist… The fight [is] on with a vengeance now”.[58] As indeed it was. Two days after Lang proposed his plan a large meeting was held at Sydney Town Hall to found the All for Australia League. The meeting attracted around 4,000 people who were, according to New Guard leader Eric Campbell, “the extreme Right Wing of respectable and law-abiding conservatism”.[59] It was obvious to them that they needed to step into the political arena and impose order through force: respectable citizens thus prepared for revolution. Moore describes the extraordinary events:

Believing that a communist insurrection was nigh, that the unemployed might revolt, or that governments might collapse, perhaps as many as 130,000 men around Australia – solicitors, doctors, dentists, engineers, accountants, businessmen and graziers – absented themselves from hearth and home to practise drilling and the martial arts.[60]

One small indication of this was the jump in the number of gun and pistol licenses issued in New South Wales at the time. Between 1930 and 1931 the number increased from 13,148 to 16,360. This was the wealthy elite arming themselves – in the wealthy eastern Sydney suburb of Woollahra, the number of licenses tripled between 1928 and 1933.[61]

The most powerful and well-established far right organisation in existence in New South Wales at the time was the Old Guard. The Old Guard was a highly secretive network with members drawn almost exclusively from the powerful elite: “those loyal and highly influential citizens upon whom we have to rely in emergency” as one army major described its members in 1932.[62] This included citizens like Alfred Davidson, Philip Goldfinch, general manager of CSR, and Sir Samuel Hordern, president of the Royal Agricultural Society and chairman of the AMP. These were powerful private citizens with whom the idea of democracy had never sat well. If necessary, they were prepared to replace the democratic institutions of the state with a form of dictatorship of the wealthy; a “committee of capable men” as it was euphemistically expressed.

In 1930 the Old Guard began to prepare in earnest for a counter-revolutionary mobilisation, the need for which seemed increasingly imminent. From the basement of the Mercantile Mutual Building in Sydney they laid out plans to “assist the Civil Power in the event of any riot or revolution taking place”.[63] Moore describes how “[e]fficiently and silently the Old Guard set about developing the capacity to protect vital and strategic points, power stations, transport centres, munition dumps, oil plants, banks, post offices, telephone exchanges, roads and bridges, and prepared to launch a solid counteroffensive against the enemies of capitalism”.[64] Tensions soon emerged within the Old Guard about how open and combative the movement should be. There was a growing impatience about the need to militarise and launch pre-emptive action against Lang, rather than simply wait for the situation to get out of control. This led to a split in 1931, and the formation of the New Guard.

The New Guard was less secretive than the Old Guard, and in general its membership was drawn from a slightly lower rung of the social ladder. It was made famous by the antics of Francis De Groot during the Sydney Harbour Bridge opening, when from a horse he dramatically used a sword to cut the ribbon before Lang was able to do so. Although generally more sedate than the better known and more open New Guard, Old Guard members were no less ruthless in their counter-revolutionary zeal. Henry Braddon, prominent businessman and diplomat, expressed via personal correspondence his support for guillotining moderate Labor prime minister Scullin and assassinating Jack Lang, and his conviction that “what we really need is a capable, ruthless Dictator”.[65] The New Guard’s principles, as stated in the pledge members signed on to, were:

Unswerving loyalty to the Throne
All for the British Empire
Sane and honourable representative Government throughout Australia
Suppression of any disloyal and immoral elements in Governmental, industrial and social circles
Abolition of machine politics
Maintenance of the full liberty of the subject
[66]

The New Guard was led by Eric Campbell, a colonel, prominent solicitor, company director and frequenter of prestigious gentlemen’s clubs.[67] Its founding meeting took place in February 1931 and consisted of about eight of Campbell’s business associates: well-connected men in their 30s, almost all ex-military officers.[68] The composition of the New Guard was more typical of European fascist movements than most other Australian far right groups. It consisted of

[s]mall capitalists, dependent upon bank credit and subject to the fierce competition of larger and more established business firms, they were doubly damned because of their susceptibility to the body blows meted out by organised labour. The backbone of a property-owning democracy, they were small shopkeepers, grocers, tradesmen, service station proprietors, reliable, straightforward men, but not the big end of town. To such men Lang’s “repudiation” of interest payments due to British bondholders was an affront to their sense of decency and fair play. One left-wing observation of the audience at a New Guard rally at the Sydney Town Hall in December 1931 is probably accurate: they were “well-dressed, well-fed members of the middle class, suburban shopkeepers and men about town, and a fair sprinkling of callow youths of the public school and city office type”.[69]

New Guardsmen were regularly involved in violently attacking meetings of the left and of the unemployed. Taking advantage of their superior access to motor vehicles, New Guardsmen laid siege to and broke up meetings as far afield as Newtown, Double Bay, Lakemba, Bondi and Bankstown.[70] In December 1931 a group of 1,000 New Guardsmen attacked a leftist meeting in Darlinghurst, resulting in several injuries.[71] In May 1932, a small inner group of the New Guardsmen, known as the Fascist Legion, dressed themselves in Ku Klux Klan-like uniforms and bashed prominent socialist and trade union leader Jock Garden in his home.[72]

But the main game for the New Guard was bringing down the Lang government. They made immediate preparations to this end. During April and May 1932 drilling took place in the northern suburbs of Sydney, and Eric Campbell issued instructions for street fighting which included directives for marching in formation, rifle carriage and advice about the clearance of “strongly held buildings”. He instructed that “[d]epending on the level of resistance encountered, revolvers, rifles, tear gas and grenades were to be used.” Moore describes how

[t]hey stockpiled arms and ammunition, having secured a set of duplicate keys to the police armoury. Its members were “worked up to the point where they were prepared to use the bayonet”. Armed battalions of New Guardsmen were reputedly ready to occupy all approaches to Sydney and cut off the electric light prior to their forcible seizure of power. [73]

An opportunity for a trial run of this anti-government uprising arose in March 1932. The occasion was a court appearance of De Groot and some other New Guardsmen on charges arising from their Harbour Bridge stunt. The New Guard assembled in force outside the court, and in so doing pitted themselves against the might of the New South Wales police. The New Guard had a vexed relationship with the police due to the police essentially remaining loyal to the Lang government during its conflict with the hostile federal government. For their part, the police were keen to avenge the embarrassment caused to them by the New Guard’s Harbour Bridge theatrics. Despite a considerable mobilisation of the New Guard, their dress rehearsal was not a success. Under instructions to “belt their bloody heads off”, the police made short work of them in the melee. Many injuries were inflicted on New Guardsmen and twelve were arrested, leading to a rethinking of tactics amongst some in the New Guard. [74]

As it turned out, the uprising that this episode was in preparation for never eventuated. Instead, the state governor moved to sack Lang before the far right displaced him by force. But the plans indicate how seriously the New Guard took the proposition that democracy would best be replaced by a form of dictatorship, and what an immediate prospect this was.

Shifting sands

The removal of Lang in May 1932, and his acquiescence to this fate, halted the momentum of the far right. Adding to this, by the mid-1930s the economy was beginning to improve, with unemployment dropping from almost one-third in 1932 to just 8.7 percent in 1938.[75] An uprising by the unemployed no longer seemed to pose an imminent threat. At the same time, the spectre of communism was fast being superseded by the prospect of war with the fascist regimes which, to the Australian ruling class, had only recently been welcomed as the salvation for conservative order. The ground was thus shifting beneath the feet of the far right.

By 1935, the New Guard had effectively ceased to exist, as had the Sane Democracy League. The Old Guard and League of National Security likewise retreated to their exclusive clubs, although they continued to exist well into the 1950s. But it would be wrong to conclude from this that the far right groups of this period exited the historical stage or found themselves no longer relevant once the economic turmoil of the Depression passed.

Just as much as it did their declining relevance, the right’s retreat reflected their major successes. The radical challenge to capitalism had been decisively seen off, without the secret networks of the far right being forced into the open. The Stevens NSW government that replaced Lang was not only a hard-line reactionary one that harshly attacked workers and the unemployed and severely restricted civil liberties. It was actually packed with a large number of New and Old Guard members. A swing to the right at the federal level after the 1934 election further consolidated this rightward shift. The integration of the far right within mainstream conservative politics meant that far from being sidelined, the far right was firmly entrenched in parliamentary politics and in running the country by the late 1930s. They had merely swapped harsh cold nights drilling for warm comfortable seats in parliament.

This parliamentary road was not the inevitable result of the crisis of the early 1930s. Had Lang seriously fought the coup that removed him, the battle between labour and capital could have found expression on the streets rather than in parliament. As it was, hundreds of thousands of workers demonstrated in support of Lang in the days after the sacking, indicating there was a preparedness to fight. But the Labour Volunteer Army and other bodies like it simply weren’t politically serious or well organised enough to lead this charge or alter events. Had the Communist Party, which could have had a significant impact on the situation despite its relatively small size, given a lead to workers it could have made a difference. Instead the communists maintained their disastrous position that the Labor Party represented simply another form of fascism – “social fascism” – and therefore refused to mobilise in Lang’s defence.

There is every reason to believe that in the event there had been serious resistance mounted to Lang’s sacking, both the Old and New Guard would have mobilised to overthrow Lang and establish a dictatorship. This would have significantly altered the course of Australian history.

International fascism

The influence of continental European style fascism, while not entirely absent from the Australian far right, was not widely embraced. The tendency was much more to shy away from too close an association with “foreign” (i.e. non-British) manifestations of right wing power, and indeed this “foreignness” was an element in the eventual collapse of the New Guard’s membership in the mid-1930s.[76] This reflected in part entrenched British chauvinism in establishment circles towards “dirty foreigners”, but also a general aversion to serious ideological engagement. With some exceptions, the Australian far right consisted of respectable citizens who saw themselves as carrying out no greater mission than simply defending the “British way of life”, the social order and the status quo, and their own economic interests within it. These were conservative middle of the road people motivated primarily by a loyalty to country and empire and an opposition to communists and other trouble-makers. They were far from being acolytes of foreign fascist regimes or ideologies, nor did they conceive of their activities as having much international significance. This lack of a hard-core ideological embracing of European fascism also made it easier for large numbers of small-l liberal worthies to join the various secret armies.

But this doesn’t mean there wasn’t considerable support for European style fascism in Australia. Indeed Mussolini’s fascist coup in 1922 was enthusiastically welcomed within mainstream conservative circles as well as those of the far right, as was the rise of Hitler to power in Germany.

The Brisbane Courier wrote in 1923 of Mussolini’s ascension, “every barrier against Communism – and the Fascisti have proved a strong one – is a bulwark of civilisation”. In 1923, the premier of Victoria, Lawson, had a private audience with Mussolini in which he expressed his “keen sympathy with the fascist movement”, and the New South Wales premier at the time likewise expressed admiration for the new regime.[77]

There was no shame associated with this political affiliation, despite the well-publicised repression and terror of Mussolini’s Italy. Wilfred Kent Hughes was typical of establishment attitudes. A former captain of Melbourne Grammar, Rhodes scholar, president of the Victorian branch of the Young Nationalists, minister in the Victorian cabinet and later the Menzies government, Hughes in 1933 wrote a series of columns in the Sydney Morning Herald under the heading “Why I Am a Fascist”.[78] This appeared to attract no disapproval within Hughes’ exclusive circles.

Attitudes to Hitler followed this pattern. The attorney-general at the time and future Liberal prime minister Robert Menzies visited Nazi Germany in 1938, and came home gushing about the “really spiritual quality in the willingness of the Germans to devote themselves to the service and well-being of the state”.[79]

Likewise the Liberal and Country League premier of South Australia, R.H. Butler, along with the Director of Technical Education for the state, visited Germany in the mid-1930s and both were said to have been “especially impressed by the Youth Labour Camps”. The right wing Labor premier of Tasmania, Ogilvie, also visited Nazi Germany and had a similar reaction.[80]

The wife of a University of Melbourne professor who gave a series of talks following her return from a prolonged visit to Nazi Germany in 1934 described how “[t]he labour service inaugurated by the Hitler regime, which involved the young unemployed being taken off the streets to be engaged in useful labour under a quasi-military discipline, had a decided appeal among middle-class Australians”.[81] Many Australian businesspeople also visited and expressed support for Hitler’s regime, including prominent Old Guard leaders Sir Philip Goldfinch and Sir Robert Gillespie.[82]

In line with this, the Australian security services displayed a distinct bias towards the right in struggles that went on between fascist sympathisers and anti-fascists of Italian origin. Upon request from Antonio Grossardi, the fascist Italian Consul-General, the Australian government used its wide-ranging war powers to outlaw Italian anti-fascist publications and prevent their import. Fascist-sympathising Italians also found it much easier to secure citizenship than anti-fascists. It was not unusual for officers of the Investigations Branch to personally vouch for important figures in the Italian fascist movement, and urge that their citizenship applications be expedited, while anti-fascists could be left waiting for years.[83]

Given this warm reception for fascist governments it is not surprising that representatives of European fascism could achieve reasonable success building support in Australia. By the 1930s, Mussolini’s Partita Nazionale Fascista had branches in every capital city, as well as in the north Queensland towns of Cairns, Innisfail and Badinda, where there was a significant concentration of Italian migrants. While the numbers weren’t large – they had 258 members in Sydney in 1938 – they were a strong force within the Italian migrant community.[84]

The German Nazi Party likewise attempted to wield influence in Australia by building support amongst migrants of German origin and sympathisers within Australian ruling circles, of which there were a considerable number. A Stutzpunkt, or party branch, of the German Nazi Party was formed in Adelaide in 1932, reflecting the significant German population resident in South Australia at the time. Others followed, including in Sydney and Melbourne, in 1934. At the outbreak of war in 1939, efforts were being made to establish branches in Brisbane and Perth.[85] Although never commanding great numbers – the Australian Nazi Party was thought to have just 160 members in 1937 – they nevertheless exercised “considerable influence”.[86]

Some direct links existed between Australian and international fascists. The New Guard leader Eric Campbell in particular took an interest in his counterparts overseas. In 1933 he travelled to Britain and Europe and met with leaders of the British Union of Fascists such as Oswald Mosley. He likewise met with the German Nazis and visited fascist Italy. At home, Campbell enjoyed a “close relationship” with the German consul-general, who applied to join the Nazi Party in 1933. It was from him that Campbell requested a photograph of Hitler to go alongside the one of Mussolini on Campbell’s office desk.[87] So while open fascism explicitly modelled on the European experience never managed to win a substantial following in Australia, its influence was nevertheless felt.

One major difference between the two movements however concerned the level of working class and proletarian participation. The Australian far right movement had a very low level of working class participation compared to some of the far right movements in Europe or North America.[88] In part this reflected the hegemony of the Labor Party within working class politics, which left little space for right wing demagogues. But also a factor was the Australian far right’s disinterest in building a mass following among workers, the lower middle class or the unemployed like that which has characterised a number of their European counterparts. The Australian far right’s propaganda tended not to involve the sorts of attacks on the wealthy bankers and financiers that were an element of German fascist rhetoric and an important element of winning a wider following and making fascism seem relevant to those outside the narrow elite. They were more inclined to hysteria about Irish catholics and anyone who could be portrayed as “Bolsheviks”, such as Russian immigrants.

With the partial exception of the New Guard Australian fascism has primarily been a secretive movement dominated by the already wealthy and powerful, and has depended for support largely on networks associated with that social layer: the private school system, elite university colleges, gentlemen’s clubs, business lobby groups, automotive associations, returned soldiers’ organisations and ex-military connections. This has been reinforced by less direct organisational support from conservative political parties, the security services and, except in a few cases, the police. They have not seen the need to build a broader mass plebeian movement and ongoing street-based mobilisations.

The ideology of the Australian far right thus has much more reflected the reactionary interests of the rural elite and urban capitalist class and those layers of the middle class more immediately associated with them. It appealed to mainstream conventional values – nationalism, law and order, stability, defence of the family and respect for authority and the monarchy. It essentially remained an apologist for capitalism and bound to the establishment. Other than emphasising the need to be prepared take up arms to preserve their way of life and crush working class traitors and the left, there was nothing that radically distinguished the far right’s ideological standpoint from either mainstream conservative or even mainstream small-l liberal opinion in this period.

Women’s involvement

Far right politics is typically associated with men. This is particularly true of the Australian far right, which has relied heavily on connections forged through the private boys’ school system, the military and exclusive gentlemen’s clubs.

Nevertheless, women have played an active part. Indeed many thousands more women involved themselves in organised right wing politics during the first half of the twentieth century than in the organised left. One such example is the Australian Women’s National League (AWNL). The AWNL was formed in 1904 by the Victorian Employers Federation with the purpose of “combat[ing] the influence of socialism among the new electorate” (women having gained the vote in 1903). Fifteen thousand women joined the organisation in the first five years of its existence, and membership averaged 30,000 across 300 branches subsequently.[89] In 1922 the Country Women’s Association was formed which provided further organisational ballast for the reactionary, Old Guard-aligned graziers and rural elite. Founded by the wives of reactionary Rotarians, its state executive was dominated by members of wealthy squattocracy families for the entire first two decades of its existence.[90] Within a few years it had attracted nearly 15,000 members and was still growing.

A further right wing women’s organisation, the Australian Women’s Guild of Empire, was founded in 1929 by the former suffragette, then socialist turned fascist Adela Pankhurst Walsh, but its membership was somewhat smaller.

Women played a role in the far right outside of specific women’s organisations as well. During Melbourne’s police strike, women of the Red Cross provided meals and clean clothes to Monash’s special constables. The Red Cross by the early 1930s was widely considered to be a front for the Old Guard, and Red Cross women were on standby to transport 10,000 men to Sydney in the event that such force might be required.[91] Women like Grace Munro, foundation president of the CWA and member of the prominent country New South Wales and Old Guard-aligned Munro family, played a crucial role when needed of organising support for scabs and other strike breakers. Munro assisted in this way during both the 1917 mass strike and the 1925 seamen’s strike.[92]

Among the non-women-specific far right organisations, several organised women’s subsections. The Sane Democracy League, for example, had over fifty women’s branches across New South Wales, including in Scone, Neutral Bay, Burwood, Artarmon and Strathfield.[93] In 1931 representatives of these branches attended a meeting in Sydney to discuss declining morality and the crisis of socialism.[94] The first ever female member of the NSW parliament, Millicent Preston-Stanley, was the organising secretary of the women’s section of the SDL during much of 1932.

Later on in the 1930s, the Nazi Party women’s organisation was active in Australia, and the Nazis gained influence within the Women’s Community associated with the German Lutheran Church in Sydney. This opened up a wider audience for Nazi influence among women. There was also a Hitler Youth for girls formed alongside that for boys. Italian fascist groups in Australia likewise had youth sections for girls.

These organisations, overwhelmingly run by and for women, happily promoted the idea that women’s role was primarily one of housekeeping and child-rearing. They understood that this was an important plank of social stability, conservative order, and therefore of economic prosperity for their social class.

Conclusion

The history of the far right before World War Two is not one of persecution, vilification and marginalisation like that of the far left. Rather it is one closely intertwined with that of the ruling elite. Unlike the far left, the far right has enjoyed the tacit, and at times active, support of sections of the political class, the military, the police and the wealthy. This has helped it to maintain a veneer of respectability, despite its activities involving highly dubious methods such as secret armies, plans to overthrow democratically elected governments and brutal repression against its opponents.

It also demonstrates that the mainstream of the ruling class in Australia, despite their professed commitment to democracy, are in fact quite amenable to the idea of dictatorship when their economic interests are sufficiently threatened. Indeed, the far right can trace its heritage, both politically but in many cases also genetically, to the colonial rulers of the nineteenth century, who regarded democracy as a contumelious intrusion on their God-ordained right to dominate society.

The tumultuous events of the early 1930s are the closest Australia has come to a fascist uprising and the Australian far right to having its mettle tested. As it turned out, the mainstream political establishment proved itself capable of fending off the threat posed by the Labor Party and the working class, and the circumstances in which the right could have seized the reins of power and realised their authoritarian vision never arose. Because of this, the lengths to which the far right was prepared to go in subverting the democratic process to protect the interests of the capitalist class was not tested in Australia, as it was in Europe.

The experience nevertheless demonstrates that the establishment of such a movement is entirely possible in the supposed egalitarian paradise that is Australia. It is therefore the case that the re-emergence of such groups, even if they seem inconsequential or risible at first, should be taken seriously, staunchly opposed and actively combated.

References:

Amos, Keith 1976, The New Guard Movement 1931-1935, Melbourne University Press.

Bollard, Robert n.d., “Victorian Workers in the 1917 Mass Strike”, Marxist Interventions, http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/interventions/1917strike.htm.

Cain, Frank 1983, The Origins of Political Surveillance in Australia, Angus & Robertson.

Cathcart, Michael 1988, Defending the National Tuckshop: Australia’s secret army intrigue of 1931, McPhee Gribble.

Cooper, Roslyn Pesman 1993, “‘We want Mussolini’: Views of Fascist Italy in Australia”, The Australian Journal of Politics and History, 39 (3).

Forward, Roy and Bob Reece (eds.) 1968, Conscription in Australia, Queensland University Press.

Garton, Stephen 2015, “Demobilization and Empire: Empire Nationalism and Soldier Citizenship in Australia After the First World War – in Dominion Context”, Journal of Contemporary History, 50 (1).

Gollan, Robin 1967, Radical and Working Class Politics: A Study of Eastern Australia 1850-1910, Melbourne University Press.

Hirst, J.B. 1988, The Strange Birth of Colonial Democracy, Allen & Unwin.

Hoyle, Arthur 1993, Jock Garden: The Red Parson, self-published.

Moore, Andrew 1982, “Guns Across the Yarra: Secret Armies and the 1923 Melbourne Police Strike” in Sydney Labour History Group, What Rough Beast? The State and Social Order in Australian History, George, Allen and Unwin.

Moore, Andrew 1989, The Secret Army and the Premier: Conservative Paramilitary Organisations in New South Wales 1930-32, New South Wales University Press.

Moore, Andrew 1995, The Right Road: A History of Right-wing Politics in Australia, Oxford University Press.

Moore, Andrew 2005a, “The New Guard and the Labour Movement, 1931-35”, Labour History, vol. 89.

Moore, Andrew 2005b, Francis De Groot: Irish Fascist Australian Legend, The Federation Press.

Perkins, John 1991, “The Swastika Down Under: Nazi Activities in Australia, 1933-39”, Journal of Contemporary History, 26.

Richmond, Keith 1977, “Response to the threat of Communism. The Sane Democracy League and the People’s Union of New South Wales”, Journal of Australian Studies, 1.

Svensen, Stuart 1989, The Shearers’ War. The history of the 1891 shearers’ strike, University of Queensland Press.

Teather, Elizabeth Kenworthy 1994, “The Country Women’s Association of New South Wales in the 1920s and 1930s as a Counter-revolutionary Organisation” from Journal of Australian Studies, 41.

Turner, Ian 1983, In Union is Strength: A History of Trade Unions in Australia 1788-1983, Thomas Nelson Australia.

Victoria Police Management Services Bureau 1980, Police in Victoria 1836-1980, Victoria Police Force.


[1] Moore 1995, p9.

[2] Hirst 1988, pp173-194.

[3] Moore 1989, p14.

[4] Gollan 1967, p134.

[5] Svensen 1989, pp296-304.

[6] Moore 1995, p16.

[7] Forward and Reece 1968, p245.

[8] Quoted in “Address by Dr. Mannix”, The Argus, 18 September 1916, p6.

[9] Bollard n.d., “Victorian Workers in the 1917 Mass Strike”, http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/interventions/1917strike.htm.

[10] Moore 1995, p24.

[11] ibid., p24.

[12] Moore 1982, p230.

[13] ibid., p230.

[14] Cain 1983, p237.

[15] Garton 2015.

[16] Moore 1995, p25.

[17] Moore 1989, p36.

[18] ibid., p37.

[19] Richmond 1977, p73.

[20] ibid., p74.

[21] ibid.

[22] ibid., p78.

[23] ibid.

[24] ibid., p79.

[25] ibid., p80.

[26] Cain 1983, pp230-231.

[27] ibid., p190.

[28] Moore 1995, p30.

[29] Cain 1983, p213.

[30] ibid., p208.

[31] ibid., p205.

[32] Moore 1989, p32.

[33] ibid., p40.

[34] Victoria Police Management Services Bureau 1980, p68.

[35] Moore 1982, p221.

[36] ibid., p222.

[37] ibid., p222.

[38] ibid., p223.

[39] ibid., p224.

[40] ibid.

[41] Cain 1983, p213.

[42] ibid., p215.

[43] Cathcart 1988, p44.

[44] ibid., p45.

[45] ibid., p51.

[46] ibid., p41.

[47] Cathcart 1988, p3.

[48] Moore 1995, p40.

[49] Cain 1983, p214.

[50] Turner 1983, p74.

[51] Moore 1989, p64.

[52] Cooper 1993, p353.

[53] Moore 1989, p79.

[54] Amos 1976, p23.

[55] ibid., p29.

[56] ibid., p24.

[57] ibid., p29.

[58] Moore 1989, p79.

[59] Amos 1976, p24.

[60] Moore 1995, p40.

[61] Moore 1989, p85.

[62] Moore 1982, p231.

[63] Moore 1989, p87.

[64] ibid., p87.

[65] Moore 1982, p232.

[66] Amos 1976, p27.

[67] Moore 2005a, p1.

[68] Amos 1976, p76.

[69] Moore 2005a, p3.

[70] ibid., p6.

[71] ibid., p6.

[72] Hoyle 1993, p104. See also Moore 2005a p6.

[73] Moore 2005b, p150.

[74] ibid., p146.

[75] Turner 1983, p88.

[76] Moore 2005a, p11.

[77] Cooper 1993, p349.

[78] Cooper 1993, p355.

[79] Moore 1995, p46.

[80] Perkins 1991, p113.

[81] ibid., p113.

[82] Moore 1995, p46.

[83] Cain 1983, p212.

[84] Perkins 1991, p115.

[85] ibid., p112.

[86] ibid., p112.

[87] Cain 1983, p114.

[88] Moore 2005a.

[89] Teather 1994, p69.

[90] ibid., p68.

[91] ibid., p69.

[92] Teather 1994, p75.

[93] Richmond 1977, p77.

[94] ibid., p82.