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Type: Book chapter
Title: “Italians Deported – Australians Next”: Italians, World War I and the Labour Movement
Author: Agutter, K.
Citation: Fighting Against War: Peace Activism in the Twentieth Century, 2015 / Deery, P., Kimber, J. (ed./s), Ch.9, pp.157-176
Publisher: Leftbank Press
Publisher Place: Melbourne Australia
Issue Date: 2015
ISBN: 0980388325
Statement of
Karen Agutter
Abstract: For over two decades prior to World War I Italians living and working in Australia had been on the receiving end of union hostility. Regularly referred to as cheap, even coloured, labour, they were frequently accused of working for less than award wages, as strike breakers, and as a major threat to Australian workers’ rights. In 1918, having successfully fought against conscription in two referendums, the Australian labour movement found itself in an unusual position. The round-up and forcible deportation of allied Italian men by the Australian authorities, effectively selective conscription, was seen as a direct challenge to the “No” vote and as the first step towards wider conscription of other nationalities and ultimately Australian workers. Around the country groups within the labour movement helped organise protest meetings, posted flyers and wrote petitions in support of the Italians as they fought against their deportation. According to the Military Investigation Bureau, who closely monitored these activities, “the Labor Party and Socialists [did] … much to create and foster the soreness … among Italians.” Certainly the labour movement provided an avenue of protest for these Italians where no other means existed. This chapter will consider how the plight of allied Italian men fitted into the Australian labour movement’s anti-militaristic and anti-conscriptionist beliefs and how the events around this protest brought a group of previously distrusted workers, albeit briefly, into the fold.
Keywords: Pacifism
Rights: Copyright status unknown
RMID: 0030049366
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Appears in Collections:History publications

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