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Arthur Calwell Memorial Lecture 2012: Chris Bowen

This is the text of the Arthur Calwell Memorial Lecture delivered by the Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen.

Chris BowenThank you and it’s a pleasure to join you tonight to give the Arthur Calwell Memorial Lecture.

I’d like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin Nation, the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today and pay my respects to the elders – past and present – and thank them for their stewardship of our land over the millennia.

I would also like to acknowledge Dr Mary Elizabeth Calwell, Arthur’s daughter, who is here with us tonight. I know Mary Elizabeth herself has an abiding interest in both the past and future of the Labor Party, including her father’s legacy.

I would also like to thank my friend Maria Vamvakinou for the invitation to be here. Maria is a first class Member of Parliament. She makes unfailingly thoughtful contributions in our Caucus and in Parliament. She is a fearless advocate for her community and, in my area of responsibility, a passionate believer in multiculturalism. Best of all, I count her as a trusty counsel and a firm friend. [Read more…]


Labor’s 2001 Capitulation Should Be Forgiven, But Not Forgotten: Tanner

The ALP’s Shadow Minister for Communications, Lindsay Tanner, has called for Labor to revive “idealism” and “to restore definition to Labor’s identity.”

Delivering the Arthur Calwell Memorial Lecture, named in honour of the former ALP leader who held Tanner’s electorate of Melbourne between 1940-72, Tanner said: “Labor’s capitulation to the tactics of group vilification and racial discrimination in 2001 may be forgiven, but should not be forgotten. We can’t fight that battle again, but we can learn from this terrible episode. We must never again allow ourselves to be forced to jettison our fundamental values in pursuit of political survival.”

This is the text of Lindsay Tanner’s Arthur Calwell Memorial Lecture.

Lindsay Tanner, Shadow Minister for CommunicationsTonight we honour the memory of a man of courage and compassion, a great Labor leader, Arthur Calwell. Few Australian political leaders have influenced the shape of our modern society more. Few have received less credit from history for such a major contribution.

The Australia that Arthur Calwell knew when he entered Parliament was a profoundly different place from the one we know now. In those days being anything but Anglo-Irish was a matter for curiosity and suspicion. Arthur Calwell had the heart and imagination to see the part Australia could play in relieving the suffering of millions of European refugees. He had a vision for a stronger and more vibrant nation. He imagined a bigger and better country, and played a vital role in bringing it into being. [Read more…]


Calwell Memorial Lecture: South Australian Premier Don Dunstan Announces Land Rights For The Pitjantjatjara People

The South Australian Labor Premier, Don Dunstan, used a speech in Melbourne on July 24, 1978 to announce that his government would legislate for land rights for the Pitjantjatjara people.

Dunstan delivered the A.A. Calwell Memorial Lecture, named in honour of Arthur Calwell, leader of the ALP from 1960 to 1967. The lecture was hosted by the Monash University ALP Supporters Club and delivered in the Robert Blackwood Hall.

Legislation was introduced after this speech to recognise the traditional land rights of the Pitjantjatjara people. The government lost office before the Bill was passed. The Anungu elders negotiated with the Liberal government of David Tonkin and legislation was finally passed in 1981. South Australia was the first state to recognise land rights with a direct communal title. [Read more…]


The Death Of Sir Robert Menzies

Sir Robert Menzies, Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, died on May 15, 1978, at the age of 83.

Menzies served two non-consecutive terms as Prime Minister, for a total of 18 years, 5 months and 12 days. [Read more…]


Arthur Calwell Responds To The Menzies Government’s Military Commitment To South Vietnam

Arthur Calwell, the ALP Leader of the Opposition, announced the ALP’s opposition to the commitment of troops to South Vietnam in a speech to the House of Representatives on May 4, 1965.

Don Watson, speech writer for prime minister Paul Keating, described Calwell’s speech in these words:

“Among Australian speeches, Arthur Calwell’s 1965 speech in which he declared Labor’s opposition to the war in Vietnam stands out. The speech, when I last read it, seemed to have something of the sinewy intelligence and courage that FDR’s speech had. It is not eloquent for the sake of eloquence, but in proportion to the argument and the conviction that underlies it. Graham Freudenberg built it on a proposition, not a political convenience; that is why it is free of both cliche and condescension and the phrases still ring long after we have ceased to care about the subject. Speeches like this are rarely written nowadays because the political climate does not allow of much intellectual effort or, in general, politicians of much character. Perhaps they should bear in mind that while Labor lost the election that year it did help them grow a spine and eventually they won because of it.”

The Age

Speech by Arthur Calwell, Leader of the Opposition, to the House of Representatives.

CalwellMr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Leader of the Opposition) – The Government’s decision to send the First Battalion of the Australian Regular Army to Vietnam is, without question, one of the most significant events in the history of this Commonwealth. Why I believe this will be explained in the course of my speech. Therefore, it is a matter for regret that the Prime Minister’s announcement was made in the atmosphere that prevailed around the precincts of this Parliament last Thursday. When one recalls that even two hours before the Prime Minister rose to make his statement it was being said on his behalf that there was no certainty that any statement would be made at all, it can hardly be said that the Government’s handling of the matter was designed to inspire confidence or trust. [Read more…]