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Australian History

AOS3 - The Great Depression

“that rather unique and happy fellowship” – Eric Campbell on the New Guard
"The boys wouldn't raise their hands to do a thing in the house... the women had to do the lot" Jean Fowler (PRIMARY)
“To the rich there was no depression”- a past domestic (PRIMARY)
All For Australia League (AFAL) Sydney based - Membership of 100,000 Described itself as a "moral force to...[make the] government... realise that the people in this country want it governed in a rational and honourable manner"
About 40% of Australia’s exports were wool, while wheat made up another 20%.
The 1933 census shows the national level of female unemployment at only 14.5% (Spenceley)
According to the Commonwealth Year Books, from 1929 to 1932 the percentage of unemployed trade unionists rose from 13.1% to 30%
According to the Commonwealth Year Books, from 1929 to 1931 the percentage of unemployed had risen from 12% to 37.8%
One abortion was admitted for two births. 31% of maternal births were the result of abortions. - Royal Women’s Hospital (reported in 1935)
“I wouldn’t be seen talking about the depression. We didn’t really suffer”-Dame Elizabeth Murdoch (wife of Sir Keith Murdoch)
"My mother thought it was better to have a small house with a good address, so we lived in Toorak, the wealthiest suburb in Australia" - Ruth Crow (PRIMARY)
“Everything depended on who you knew. You got scholarships because you knew someone, not because you were clever” – Ruth Crow (PRIMARY)
Susso – from 1931 to 1932 state governments introduced federally funded sustenance schemes. - 6 shillings worth of food a week if you were a single man - 16 shillings worth of food for a married man with three children - didn’t mean much for anything else.
"I do not want the sustenance only the work and am willing to do anythin" JWB
New Guard - formed shortly after Lang Plan announced - Had 50,000 card carrying members at its peak, with prominent citizens such as Sir Charles Kingsford Smith
With right wing groups such as The Sane Democracy League, Australia First Party, Vigilantes in Brisbane, Soldiers and Citizens Party and Empire Party all professing to be anti-political and proposed ‘self sacrifice’ as an antidote to economic collapse
Communist Party of Australia – Saw in the Depression the failure of capitalism and the exposure of unionists and Labor politicians as class traitors - Increased its membership from 300 to 3000 between 1929 and 1935 - Always polled at under 1% in national elections
A Melbourne unemployed march demanded a "100% increase in sustenance allowance to provide for new boots, blankets, and clothing for the unemployed and their families" (Argus, 1931)
Perth – single men ransacked a dining hall where they were forced to use their ration cards because food was inadequate.
Adelaide – Unemployed rioted because there was no beef in their rations
Over 30,000 British migrants returned home between 1930 and 1936
1929 – Footscray – opening of the new market was marred by accusations that only Italian concreters had been employed on the project and Italians had been given preference as stall holders. - The council decided from then on to only employ road and building workers of Australian or British birth.
In northern Australia the policies of removing ‘half-caste’ children from their mothers and taking them away for training as domestics and workers was extended and formalized in the 1930s.
Government relief projects could not absorb the increasing amount of unemployed. – The Great Ocean Road, Shrine of Remembrance and the Yarra Boulevard are examples of some of these projects.
Escapism - Donald Bradman (Cricket) - Phar Lap (Horseracing) - Cinemas
“Patches were put on patches” - Wendy Lowenstein
“Class positions harden” - Wendy Lowenstein
“The sense of community was strong” - Wendy Lowenstein
“Sometimes the Depression tore families apart, especially with men going bush” - David Potts
“Benevolent societies collected relief and handled distribution of clothing” - Wendy Lowenstein
“An army of outcasts had suddenly appeared, not carrying leprosy or syphilis but poverty” - Janet McCalman
“The U.W.M was a front for the Communist Party of Australia” - Janet McCalman
“The U.W.M was very good at mobilizing anger and raising morale” - Janet McCalman
“The Great Depression afflicted many who believed themselves immune” - Janet McCalman
“The Depression widened inequalities of wealth and income” - Stuart Macintyre
The Depression was "a time when Australians lost their way, failed to pull together and were betrayed by their leaders." - Paul Kelly
“The depression did not tangibly affect the social world of the rich” - Drew Cottle
"Australian men responded to the depression by shows of strength, by marches and demonstrations, by re-forming army units into paramilitary militant displays of manhood“ Patricia Grimshaw
“What is necessary for a new disaster is only for the memories of the last one to fade” - J.K Galbraith
The Great Depression was an economic, social and political crisis. In Australia its economic roots can be found in too much debt due to heavy borrowing throughout the 1920s by the Bruce/Page government, and a heavy reliance on export markets. A crash in the stock market in 1929 and led to the collapse of international commodity prices, triggering a fall in export earnings and increasing overseas debt.
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