This issue of the Hummer continues the tradition of reproducing branch talks; a tradition initially established by the Austral ian Society for the Study of Labour History soon after its formation in the early I 960s. First otTthe mark is the text of the session on the ‘Jobs For Women Campaign’ at BHP’s Port Kembla plant. Presented by Robynne Murphy and Yasmin Rittau this talk gives us insight into a particularly drawn-out struggle for industrial equality and equity. We would especially like to thank Yasmin for supplying the cartoon which adorns the Hummer’s front cover.
This article is followed by recollections of the Eureka Youth League during the 1960s provided by Barrie Blears and Beverley Symons. We appreciate being given access to these personal memories of an organisation that, despite its demise nearly thirty years ago, had a profound impact on the I ives of labour stalwarts by giving them what Bev refers to as ‘a great “training ground”‘, in organising and political activism. As she also points out, the women who were prominent in the EYL provided exceptional role models for the younger members of the 1960s. The struggle against the Vietnam War during that decade, Barrie believes, was critical in isolating the EYL, even though it was one or the lirst groups to engage in public protest over this issue. Rowan Cahill’s reminiscences of his personal experience of this struggle, entitled: ‘Conscription Story’ therdore provides us with another impression of the political activisn~ of this decade.
The next article, by Jeff Shaw entitled: ‘The Curious Case or Leon Trotsky’s Heirs in Sri Lanka’, also shows that apparently outmoded political commitments continue to have relevance well into the I 990s. As Jeffpoints out, even though ‘the hegemonic communism of Joseph Stalin is all but dead, there is at least the tiny spark of life left in his assassinated rival’ in present day Sri Lankan politics.
We would like to thank Jeff for his continuing contributions to this newsletter and congratulate him on his accession to the dizzy heights 01 Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations in the new Call I,abor Government. It is particularly pleasing that such a keen laboul historian is currently engaged in an effort to introduce new industriallegislation which is much fairer than the previous Coalition government’s 1991 Act.
Our final two articles by Ross Edmonds and Diane Fieldes both relate to one of the most drawn out struggles of Australia’s history, notably the dispute over ‘terra nullius.’ Ross outlines the nature of this term and the way it has been used, while Diane examines the outcome of the High Court’s Mabo decision, itself the outcome ofa ten year legal battle. Much like the outcome of the women’s campaign at BHP, the attainment of legal remedy does not appear to have solved the problem at hand. Land rights continue to be as elusive as women’s rights to jobs! In this issue’s Noticeboard we include information on the research being conducted at the University of Newcastle’s History Department which was kindly supplied by Erik Eklund.
Finally we would like to announce some changes to our editorial arrangements. We bid adieu to three members of our collective. Diane Fieldes is off on extended leave to Scotland for about a year to finish her magnum opus, Bradon Ellem is off to the United States to continue his study of trade unions during the Cold War and Chris Wright has tendered his resignation due to the weight of other duties. Diane’s lay-out skills will be sorely missed as will Chris’s collation activities.
We again invite readers to send us contributions, information, cartoons for the cover and even letters.