Again and again over the weekend, speakers disavowed electoral politics. Instead they argued in favour of popular movements to force change from below. As White put it: ‘Asking nicely doesn’t work.’ Examples from Australian history were frequently cited: the Green Bans of the 1970s, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the massive protests that won marriage equality.
The former Commissioner of Australia Border Force, Roman Quaedvlieg, took time out of pouring petrol on the au pair scandal last week to pen his reflections on a far bigger scandal that is somehow not really a scandal at all. Initially self-published, then re-posted on Meanjin, Quaedvlieg wrote about a trip he took to Nauru in the second half of 2015.
In May 1925, Australian seaman and returned serviceman Noel Lyons was deported from New Zealand. His crime: encouraging fellow workers to slow down. The quality of food served to trans-Tasman seamen had always caused discontent, especially when compared to the fine dining lavished upon first-class passengers. The situation came to a head aboard the Manuka when the crew refused to leave New Zealand’s capital of Wellington until their food was improved.
What I want to do in this essay is to offer a suggestive and perhaps even a provocative reading of Tony Birch’s Ghost River.
Why has it never been brought to my attention, throughout my primary, secondary and tertiary education, that Australia has a vast queer history? Only independent research has led me to discover the extent of Australia’s homosexual colonial past. The teachers and lecturers of Australian history, whom I have been a student of, have never touched upon the country’s queer histories.