Lucy Taksa

This issue of The Hummer reflects the diverse nature of labour history, as well as the membership’s breadth of interests. The articles included, together with information on work-in-progress in our Noticeboard, highlight the interconnections between industrial and political struggles and labour culture.

The editorial collective welcomes contributions and would again like to invite members to enhance our knowledge of past and present struggles by putting pen to paper! While this issue’s Noticeboard informs readers of research projects being conducted in the academy, we would also like to encourage members who are active in other arenas to participate in this forum. We invite conunentaries not only on matters relating to the industrial wing of the labour movement but also on local issues and history, heritage matters and current political struggles including, for instance, the activities of pensioners’ associations.

In this issue John Low adds to our remembrance of the late Herbert Roth. John sent us a song written by this recently departed stalwart of the New Zealand labour movement which highlights the importance of culture to collective struggles. Allan Ashbolt’s article on ‘The Conditions which gave rise to the art and culture of the wharfies in the 1950s and 1960s,’ similarly illustrates this point. The politics of labour should not be construed narrowly in terms of institutions. Rank-and-f1le activists have long been involved in artistic projects which have helped to sustain not only their own particular socio-political concerns but also labour traditions.

Ross Edmond’s article on ‘International Women’s Day in Newcastle, The First Decade,’ illustrates how struggle and celebration may be closely intertwined. In addition, the nexus between grass-roots activities, institutional machinations and collective memory is also reflected in two pieces on republicanism in Australia. We thank Braham Dabscheck for his review of AI Grassby’s The Australian Republic and hope that his treatment inspires members to add to the discussion.

Thanks must also go to Eric Fry for supplementing our knowledge of the republican urge in Australian history. His piece on Sydney’s Republican
Riot of 1887 provides a context for Henry Lawson’s The Song of the Republic, and so demonstrates how links between popular sentiment, mobilisation and culture can develop. The fact that this Riot has eluded the collective memory indicates just how important it is for us to become more energetic in the reclamation of labour heritage.

This is not to suggest that traditional institutional labour activities and involvements are outdated. Jeff Shaw’s biographical prof1le of Max Falstein highlights the importance of individuals and their personal efforts in shaping Labor Party policies.

In our next issue, in March 1995, The Hummer will publish a number of papers which were originally presented as Sydney Branch talks, such as the recollections of the Eureka Youth League and the 1980s Jobs for Women Campaign at BHP’s Port Kembla plant and Eureka Youth league. We call for further reminiscences on these or other topics for the future, as well as songs, poems and cartoons for the cover.