‘Unequal to the task‘, The Age, 22 March 2012
Notes that Australian egalitarian principles were strongly in evidence before World War I, as seen, for example, in the work of HB Higgins (see also here).
It is timely to recall these discussions [before World War I] about national ideals, because many contemporary Australians, blitzed by the myth of Anzac, know little of our founding political traditions and the people who shaped our values. Many forget that the founding ideal of the ”common good” was expressed in the very name of the Commonwealth of Australia and that the reforms of universal suffrage, old age and invalid pensions and compulsory arbitration were enacted during the first decade of the 20th century.
For those who believe the Australian nation was born at Gallipoli and that Australian values are to be found in the Spirit of Anzac, it must come as a surprise to learn that our nation builders – women and men, liberal and labour – were laying down our national ideals during the long peace that preceded World War I.