kythera family kythera family

General History

History > General History > Chapter Five, Kalgoorlie between the Wars: a mine of racism? [Part B]

History > General History

submitted by George Poulos on 28.12.2004

Chapter Five, Kalgoorlie between the Wars: a mine of racism? [Part B]

Chapter Five,
Kalgoorlie between the Wars:
a mine of racism?

of, A. Markus's, Australian Race Relations 1788-1993, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards,
1994, p. 150, is available at:

as a PDF file.

Part B. Continued from previous entry.

Industrial opposition to the riots

In 1934, notoriously anti-union publisher, Critchley Parker, denounced any suggestion that trade unionists were not responsible for the riots as ‘verbal whitewashing’, claiming that their failure to quell the violence demonstrated that unionism had not ‘honestly opposed’ it. [136] However, while some miners undoubtedly participated in the 1934 riots, there is considerable evidence to suggest that the vast majority did not. Instead, they held meetings, took votes, denounced the violence and organised to prevent further outbreaks of rioting. Chief Inspector Hunter of the Kalgoorlie Police stated in his report that he was ‘convinced that few if any of the real miners took part.’ [137] While we might debate what being a ‘real miner’ might mean, newspaper reports indicate that the real afternoon shift went underground as usual on the Monday and was oblivious to the turmoil above. [138] In the midst of the ensuing strike, the conservative newspaper, the West Australian, reported that few of the older miners could be seen on the streets. In line with the official attitude of the union [AWU], they seem to be holding aloof from the anti-foreigner campaign and some of them are not slow to express their abhorrence of the lawlessness. [139]
In an article entitled ‘Miners are Blamed for Work of Irresponsibles’, the Goldfields
Observer emphasised the youth of the majority of demonstrators and pointed out that many miners dissociated themselves from the riots. It was stated that the miners ‘scoff at the idea of the gathering [on Richardson Reserve], which virtually howled down the Minister for Works, being classed as a miners’ meeting and contend that it was a gathering of irresponsibles who had no right to speak for, or act on behalf of the genuine miners’. [140] The Kalgoorlie Miner report of the AWU meeting held on Friday, 2 March, stated that:
The general feeling of the meeting was against any association with the element which ran riot and caused such havoc and distress. It was mentioned that they had burned out some fine members of the community. The homes of boys who had given their all in sport for the entertainment of the public and who had been popular citizens, had been destroyed. [141]
AWU records suggest that a tiny number of their members were in the forefront of the riots, although some of the arrestees listed their occupation as ‘miner’ or ‘labourer’. Of the sixteen charged specifically with rioting, only one, Alan Pereira, was an AWU member. Of the eighty six persons charged in total, only eight were listed on AWU membership rolls. [142] It is possible that some rioters were members of the Federated Miners’ Union or the Eastern Goldfields Tributers Association. If so, FMU members would have been far more exposed to RSL ideology than to labour movement influence. In addition, the Tributers Association appears to have had significant migrant membership (approximately thirty per cent) and, during the strike, its executive resolved to interview management with a view to ‘protect[ing] the interests of those tributers who may be absent’. This resolution was a recognition that some migrant members had fled into the surrounding bushland to escape the rioting and were not immediately confident to return. As tributing contracts contained clauses which stipulated that abandonment of the tribute could result in the issuing of termination notices, the Tributers Association was concerned to ensure that the tributes of their migrant members were not forfeited. [143]
Because the early mass meetings had undoubtedly included a great many nonunionists, AWU officials took steps to limit attendance at subsequent meetings to those with union tickets. By the end of the week, the unofficial miners’ committee had agreed to leave negotiations with management to the AWU leadership. Despite the AWU’s constant refusal to support a stopwork over the presence of migrants on the mines, the outcome of the dispute revealed the ambivalent attitude of the union leaders towards the explosion of racism on the fields. For them, it would appear that the main issue was the strike, not the racism. By playing on the common stereotype that foreign miners were dangerous underground because they lacked English skills, the officials were able to reach a deal with the Chamber of Mines for a more rigorous application of the language test. On the Sunday, by an almost unanimous vote, the miners agreed to return to work on the understanding that the language regulations would be strictly enforced. This arrangement was little more than a cheap ploy to get the miners back to work, because the AWU leadership had no real interest in scapegoating migrant miners. In fact, they organised a defensive force of some three hundred miners to patrol Boulder on Wednesday evening to prevent further trouble. In addition, a deputation of AWU miners met with the Mayor and demanded that the violence be stopped. The West Australian reported that ‘[t]he Mayor said that many had told him that they were in sympathy with the stricken foreigners, and deplored the fact that no provision had been made for their housing and care during the day.’ [144] Moreover, the AWU leadership expressed its ‘determination to give the union ticket to all members irrespective of nationality’. [145]
When leaving the fields, Minister for Works, Alex McCallum, was reported to have said, ‘The dispute was created outside the ranks of the union and was handed over to irresponsible individuals who had no experience and were not even known in union circles’. [146] AWU miners at the Sons of Gwalia mine censured Labor Premier Collier for not visiting the fields and taking a firm stance on the need for unity among all workers, which was especially significant given that many migrant miners were employed on that mine. [147] Collier, for his part, blamed foreign communists for the riots, a claim that was eagerly repeated by the Sydney Morning Herald in its palpable anxiety to protect Australia’s international reputation. [148] For their part, Communist Party leaders castigated an unnamed Western Australian member for failing to see the difference between supporting the right of migrants to have jobs and getting behind the mine managers’ position. On the contrary, one editorial argued, employers wanted to retain migrant workers ‘as a fruitful source of division among the workers’. [149] Jack Crisp suggested that it was the employers who acted to maintain racial divisions in the workforce in the aftermath of the rioting. He recalled: There was a great deal of bitterness. I was working underground at the time and ... the Australians, Italians and Slavs were a mixed workforce underground and things were very unhappy for quite a while. The mine staff did the very best to segregate the Australian[s] from the southern Europeans. [150]
The Westralian Worker, the AWU-run weekly paper, somewhat cynically denounced those union members who took part in the rioting as having displayed ‘an inexcusable lack f solidarity’. However, its articles did explain that the main factors leading to the riots were speed-ups, graft and high youth unemployment, maintaining that all workers, regardless of nationality, faced the same conditions and that racism only played into the hands of the Chamber of Mines. One writer pointed out, ‘We cannot, as workers, afford to quarrel with the workers of any other country ... [W]e need their assistance in our struggles against a common enemy.’ [151]
Many decades later, Jack Coleman movingly described the terrible toll inflicted by the conditions on the mines which served to divide the workforce and deflect anger away from the employers, towards the migrant workers. In his opinion: The animosity was always there, this racist sort of an outlook. But as one old fella made it clear when he got up on the stage … the night they carried the motion they would go back to work but they had to learn English. He could hardly speak. He was silicotic. His lungs had gone in the mines. And he had a boy, a bit younger than me and couldn’t get in the mines and this was everybody’s attitude. You see, if there’s unemployment, you look around for someone that’s different and say ‘Oh they’re doing it.’ The real unemployment on the mines came from the avalanche of people who crossed the Trans line ... farmers’ sons, farmers’ unemployed. They weren’t growing wheat, their wheat was one and six a bag or something. And there were droves of them. There used to be a saying on the Lake View and Star … that if you wanted a job on the Star, tell him you were five foot eight at a minimum, you know, weighed twelve stone and a farmer’s son and you got on because [of] no industrial experience and there was some truth in that too. You just think. You are there. You’re dusted. You’re dying and your kid can’t get a job. Well, who’s taken my kid’s job. Those foreign bastards, they’re taking my kid’s job. And that’s the thing that made it possible to develop … some disagree with me and say ‘No, it’s just inherent in people, that they don’t like others’ but it wasn’t true because we worked with ‘em and played with ‘em. [152]
For his part, Richard Hamilton, President of the Chamber of Mines, expressed the view that it was a deficient education system that had led to the riots.
Sanctimoniously, he said:
It shows that secular education alone, without a sufficient police or moral force, will not keep some people from becoming savages when acting under mob impulse. Let us hope that we shall never again see such a display of cruelty, hatred and destruction. [153]
While little credence can be given to Hamilton’s analysis, the 1934 Kalgoorlie race riots do show that, despite the contradictory position taken by some union leaders, the union movement potentially provided the classrooms where anti-racist lessons could be learned. In addition, while racism was certainly widespread in Kalgoorlie, forces which drew working class people together could also be identified. At school, in sporting competitions, at social events and at work, there were many opportunities for Britishers to meet and mix with their migrant counterparts. Although this interaction did not automatically challenge racist ideas, it did provide as many opportunities for fraternisation as for friction. It is to these examples that this discussion now turns.

Signs of integration

An examination of the role of unions and workers in the 1934 Kalgoorlie riots illustrates important incongruities in previous interpretations of the empirical evidence on this period. Other scholars have indicated that a significant degree of social, economic and political division existed between the Britisher community and the various groups that comprised the ‘foreign’ population. While it is perhaps predictable that studies of race riots highlight racial division, such a focus should not distract attention from countervailing undercurrents. Gerritsen, for example, claimed that ‘[t]he basis of the social problems that came to the fore in the ‘twenties was undoubtedly the foreigners’ separation from the local Australian community. The foreigners had their own clubs, hotels, sports … social habits and living areas.’ [154] If ethnic segmentation was as strong as Gerritsen suggested, why were Jordan and his Britisher friends socialising in an Italian-run hotel? Certainly, many establishments attracted regular customers on the basis of nationality, but this division was always somewhat elastic. At the inquest into Jordan’s death, Rena Gianatti, the co-proprietor of the Home from Home Hotel, said that the deceased had been a regular at her establishment. Claudio Mattaboni, the barman who threw the fatal punch, concurred by saying that he had known Jordan for at least twelve months because the fireman was a frequent patron of the Italian-run hotel. [155] Wally Dawes, a resident of Kalgoorlie during the riots, spoke of the integration that existed between the Britisher and foreigner communities. As he put it: [T here had been Italian families there from quite early days and they were well integrated into the community. They were fairly well thought of ... and their boys mixed with the Australian boys and all that. And although they invariably went to a different school [from Wally], meaning they were mostly predominantly Catholics. Well, there was quite a lot of Australian boys and girls went there too. [156] In a similar vein, Anthony Splivalo, a Dalmatian immigrant, recorded that his early school experiences were very welcoming. Even after being rounded up and interned during the First World War, he explicitly differentiated the state sanctioned racism of his internment from the often welcoming response he received from many ‘ordinary’ Australians. [157] Evelyn Villa, whose father was Italian and mother was Australian, recalled a woman whose business had been destroyed in the riot. She said ‘the lady that owned the hotel [Mrs Furia, formerly Osmetti], she had four boys [who were] very good sportsmen; they were in everything’. [158] Descriptions of local Australian Rules matches are littered with tales of the sporting prowess of the Osmetti brothers and members of other migrant families, playing alongside their Britisher team mates. In one game in 1935, ‘Jacko’ Osmetti opened the scoring, while Diorites dominated play in the final quarter. In another match, Marchesi replaced the injured Forrest while Tomich and the Osmetti brothers were named, alongside Laffin, Spence and Gibson, as the best players for the Mines Rovers team. [159] This ‘ethnically-integrated’ line up was the team for which Edward Jordan had played before his death. Marjorie Henderson mentioned that she was in the same class as one of the Osmetti boys and that they were ‘very well known, very well respected and liked’. [160] In the memoirs of a Kalgoorlie local, ‘Blue’ Nelli, also the child of an Italian father and Australian mother, recalled that he played in a schoolboy team which represented the Goldfields in Perth. [161] In fact, three years after the riots, Tomich, Dellaca and Charlie Osmetti were selected to play in a goldfields team that defeated South Australia on the Kalgoorlie Oval. Also selected for that team was Frank Jordan, Edward Jordan’s brother. [162] Indeed, Jack and Nancy Crisp both felt that such integration was widespread. Nancy said: But in the tennis clubs and football clubs, they’d been to school together and ... there was general friendliness in the district ... up our way, support was entirely with the southern European element ... I knew of no support for the rioters. [163]
Evelyn Villa recalled that her father played an important role in the social life of Kalgoorlie. She said:
[W]e were one of the families with a very, very nice car and he was called on such a lot to participate at funerals and weddings and things like that and I think he was a very highly respected man in the community.
When asked to think about whether there were any signs that the riots might occur, she said that there was some social segregation, but that it contrasted with integration in the workplace, where ‘[t]here was a big majority of Slavs and Italians and a few Greeks and that on the goldfields and I think they all worked in harmony with one another’. [164] It was not only in the mines that the workforce was mixed. The Kalgoorlie Miner reported that many Britisher women had been thrown out of work when the Greek-owned cafes, in which they were employed, were destroyed. [165] When asked to recall any incidences of migrant men being disrespectful to local women, Cora Sudlow disputed such a stereotype. She said, ‘we felt so safe … we’d walk home across a mining lease at night, just a couple of girls, and we never dreamt of having to worry about anything.’ [166]
Far from a ‘sense of shame’ that was often mentioned in the aftermath of the riots, the Crisps showed contempt for the rioters and commented on the way in which people gave support to migrants by offering them places to stay, food, clothing and other practical assistance.
Jack said: Amongst my friends in Boulder were quite a number of young men of Italian descent, but Australian-born, and my sympathies were very largely with them. I had no time at all for the rioters. [167]
It should be noted that Jack specifically mentioned those friends who were Australian born, as if this was a higher recommendation. Similarly, Sidney Hall, the man who blew on the bugle to rouse the rioters, freely admitted in court that he did not like foreigners but gave evidence that he had gone to the Boulder riots accompanied by a young Italian man. [168] These instances suggest that racist ideas and Britisher/southern European interaction were a constant influence on race relations in Kalgoorlie, but were pressures that could produce unpredictable results.
Some migrants who hid in the bush outside town left prized possessions with their Britisher neighbours. Beatrice Wellington recalled that her mother kept cases in her chook pen for southern European friends. Mr E. Fraser described how his family helped fleeing migrants:
I remember the people coming to the house with their tin trunks ... They were mostly people that lived on the Flats below our home and they wanted us to look after their belongings ... Well, our verandah was full of black, tin trunks. [169]
Lily Larcombe, whose father-in-law owned the Golden Eagle (where, incidentally, Charlie Stokes’ sister, Irene, was a frequent drinker) related how her father-in-law harboured fleeing foreigners in his hotel and turned away rioters at the door. [170] Nancy Crisp told of her mother comforting the proprietor of one of the hotels that had been destroyed:
She went up to her and she saw her standing in the street almost in tears and gazing at the still-smoking ruins of the hotel. And she just went up to her and put her arms around her … and she just said well, she was so sorry.
Incidentally, Mrs Crisp remembered the proprietor’s reply, which was also indicative of the degree to which many migrants felt that they had been integrated into community life. She said, ‘I didn’t think they’d do it to me.’ [171] Stella Villa fondly remembers all the help they received when it became clear they would have to leave their South Boulder home until the rioting had ceased. She recalled that:
[T]hey were all Australian neighbours apart from the one across the road. They shifted any furniture of value out of our homes, put it in different homes and I think the next door neighbours were very, very good. They took Dad’s car up the garage and had it refitted. Saw that the tyres were okay ... they refilled the car and we set sail. [172]
This evidence calls into question claims made by Boncompagni that some migrant groups in Kalgoorlie had a ‘tendency to form group settlements’ and that their own actions ‘worked against rapid assimilation’. [173] In a similar vein, Bertola suggested that the riots were inflamed, in part, by the ‘social behaviour’ of the migrants. [174] Both writers downplay the effects of racism on migrant behaviour and both analyses, if taken to their logical conclusion, place partial responsibility for the riots on the shoulders of those who had homes and possessions destroyed. In effect, such analyses are little different to that produced by the Age at the time of the riots. In a classic case of ‘blaming the victim’, its editor argued that:
[e]ntirely by their own choice foreign nationals live intensely segregated … [and] … make little or no effort to live up to the economic and social standards which, not without much hard struggle, Australians have contrived to set up … If the latter find these standards imperilled resentment is natural; antipathy towards those responsible is not racial, but economic. [175]
Certainly, such generalisations are at odds with Stella Villa’s description of life in her street. Her recollections suggest that integration occurred at a number of different levels. Intermarriage was not uncommon, nor was it unlikely that a migrant family would have Britisher neighbours. Sport and other social occasions provided many opportunities for ‘ethnic mixing’. Overwhelmingly, it would seem, people made friends on the basis of proximity, rather than nationality.
The most misleading stereotype of the local migrant community has been the claim that migrant workers continued this process of ‘self-segregation’ by abstaining from labour movement politics. [176] With little corroborating evidence, Boncompagni announced that ‘the large majority of them was driven by economic needs and displaye little interest in politics, the local Anglo-Australian society or labour organization’. [177] In fact, AWU records confirm the degree of Britisher and migrant integration in the miners’ union. The 1933-34 and 1934-35 state membership rolls reveal numerous names of obvious southern European background. To make a numerical calculation of southern European AWU membership on the goldfields and to minimise regional variation, seven common goldfields addresses were chosen – Coolgardie, Wiluna, Kalgoorlie, Boulder, Gwalia, Southern Cross and Fimiston. In the 1933-34 rolls, 2,477 members recorded their address as being in one of these towns and, of those, 569 had southern European surnames. In the 1934-35 rolls, of the 3,123 members living in the aforementioned towns, 643 names suggested southern European birth. These figures indicate that, in stark contrast to descriptions of the migrant community as ‘nonintegrated’, more than 20 per cent of the AWU goldfields membership in Western Australia came from southern Europe, roughly analogous to their presence in the workforce. This membership density did not alter in the wake of the riots. [178] Indeed, given the tendency of migrants to Anglicise their names, especially in the wake of World War One attacks on migrant liberty, this calculation is likely to have underestimated the southern European presence.
Moreover, because of the ferocity of the 1934 riots, it might have been expected that migrant miners would suffer greater discrimination in employment, but the evidence suggests that there was little scapegoating. In a report from the monthly meeting of the AWU Mining Branch, Secretary Alf Watts advised that, of 405 men who had undergone the language test, only two workers had failed. [179] In addition, while CPA reports of the extent of Communist influence must be ‘taken with a grain of salt’, it is worth mentioning Jack Coleman’s impression that the anti racist position taken by the local Communist Party branch during and after the rioting had not harmed its reputation and had, in fact, played a role in getting a leading CPA member, Bronc Finlay, elected to the secretaryship of the AWU Mining Branch in 1938. [180]
All these indications of integration were to provide the social and industrial basis for a unified struggle in the following year. Indeed, the Chamber of Mines/RSL combination that encouraged racial division among Britisher and migrant workers would soon receive a severe setback. In 1935, the AWU challenged the mine managers over working hours on the mines. During this dispute, the Kalgoorlie mining workforce was able to promote inter-ethnic solidarity as a means of increasing its industrial strength, as the following account demonstrates.

They wanted shorter hours, so they took them!: the 1935 hours dispute

Just one year after ethnic division racked Kalgoorlie, the Chamber of Mines and the
AWU entered into a protracted dispute over the length of the working week. During 1934, the AWU Mining Division had served a log of claims on the Chamber of Mines. The new award gave some pay increases but allowed for no reductions in hours and suggested that the existing eighty-eight hour fortnight could be worked using alternating forty and forty-eight hour weeks, instead of the weekly forty-four hours that had been in operation. The AWU agreed to accept the new award but warned the Chamber of Mines that any attempt to implement the new hours clause would be regarded as a ‘hostile action’. Immediately hostile, the Chamber proceeded to implement the new hours, locking out those miners who attempted to work under the old arrangements. The AWU leadership called for strike action. [181]
It was reported that the strike inspired ‘a wonderful demonstration of solidarity’ throughout the goldfields. [182] Around six thousand workers were affected by the dispute, and there was little evidence of dissension within the ranks. [183] Initially, pickets were placed at the shaft heads but even the West Australian had to admit that they were peaceful affairs. No-one attempted to defy the union’s decision. [184] The Sons of Gwalia miners had been working the new hours for some two years, professing a preference for the extra day to make a trip to the ‘city’, but they too agreed to stop work in support of the Golden Mile unionists. [185] A deputation from nearby Grant’s Patch came to Kalgoorlie to express their support. Throughout the dispute, the strike committee produced a weekly bulletin to boost solidarity. [186] An Appeal Committee swung into action and donations came from all over Australia. A letter was forwarded to the NSW Labor Council, urging financial assistance. Lance Sharkey moved a motion, seconded by Jock Garden, that an appeal be sent to all unions to support the Kalgoorlie miners.
Garden reminded delegates that the Western Australian miners had, in the past, forwarded thousands of pounds to support other strikers. The motion was passed unanimously. [187]
Efforts were also made to overcome the racial division of the past. Slav miners discussed details surrounding their representative who had been sent to the coast to raise support funds. They passed a resolution which indicated that they were ‘quite satisfied with the handling of the trouble by their British comrades’. [188] An entertainment committee organised boxing and wrestling matches to raise money for the strikers.
Fundraising dances were held, with the Yugoslav Society providing both band and premises for the event. [189] The training hall, trashed in the riots of the previous year, became a ‘hive of industry’, with a high level of fraternisation between Britisher and southern European workers. [190] The Sparta Soccer Club donated to the strike fund and workers at the Lake View and Star Company, one of the goldfields' largest employers of foreign labour, solidly supported the strike action. [191] Workers’ Weekly was moved to print that:
A steel front of native and foreign workers has been preserved in the struggle, and amongst the ranks of those who fought with rifles a year ago is the most intimate fraternisation in the face of the common enemy. [192]
Even if the picture painted by the CPA was not so rosy in reality, the unanimity of the strikers suggests that, even after the terrible events of 1934, sufficient mutuality and trust between migrant and Britisher workers existed to accomplish an organised, disciplined and successful strike.
The Chamber of Mines also displayed ‘wonderful solidarity’ during the struggle over working hours. It often refused to negotiate with AWU delegations, even a delegation that included the Minister for Mines, and it was widely believed that the Chamber was prepared to ‘starve the miners back to work’. [193] Although the editorial of the RSL’s journal expressed regret at the hardship faced by families, it refused to take sides in the dispute, except to point out that the business owner, ‘who is a working man himself’, was having to carry his customers. [194] After six weeks, a return to work was accepted, although a significant level of opposition to this move was reflected in the 320/200 vote. Management and union agreed to abide by the outcome of a ballot to be taken among union members for the purposes of ascertaining which working hours arrangement was preferred. [195] On 30 March 1935, AWU members voted overwhelmingly to reject the imposition of a forty-eight hour week. Bertola pointed out that, as a result of the dispute and its successful resolution, ‘AWU membership among the underground workforce rose from about 40 per cent in February 1934 to over 72 per cent’ by the time the ballot was held. [196]
At a mass AWU meeting on 7 January 1935, one speaker from the floor had suggested that the union should consult with the Kurrawang woodcutters in order to gain their support. It was stated in reply that the woodcutters (mainly southern
Europeans and highly unionised) would support any action that the AWU decided to take regarding the new award. [197] However, the response of the woodcutters was more mixed than this statement suggests. In October 1934, the woodline workers had taken their own industrial action in pursuit of claims for an increased price for cutting engine wood, open competition for provision of supplies, restoration of holidays lost in the 1931 award, and the forty-four hour week. A stopwork meeting of all AWU members on the goldfields heard one of the delegates, Mr Graeme, oppose press statements to the effect that the Britishers wanted to resume work, assuring members that all the woodline workers, ‘irrespective of nationality were 100 per cent. strong’ in supporting the strike action. [198] After much debate, it was recommended that the woodcutters should resume work and that the matter would be settled at arbitration. Three months later, when the woodcutters were asked to support the miners, the vote was split 80 votes for, 80 votes against, striking. The AWU official presiding over the meeting cast his vote in favour of remaining at work. The miners received word that the woodcutters would assist the dispute financially, and that they would stop work immediately if asked. [199] No request was forthcoming. The woodcutters’ arbitration case was much delayed and it was not until April 1935, that Justice Dwyer handed down an amended award which granted the forty-four hour week and restored the lost holidays. Dwyer chastised the woodline workers for striking and made the following comment:
It is difficult to understand the mentality of the workers at Kurrawang in these circumstances. Some excuse may be made for them in consideration of the fact that fully 75 per cent of the Kurrawang wood cutters are foreigners from Southern Europe and Italy, nearly all of whom do not understand the English language or read our newspapers. They present a fertile field for the sowing and cultivation of subversive industrial propaganda by agents, whose motives and objects are not for the good of the State or the workers. [200]
At a subsequent meeting of the Kalgoorlie and Boulder section of the AWU Mining Division, a motion was carried extending congratulations to the woodline workers for their victory. The members also resolved to protest to the State Executive about President Dwyer’s remarks, which, they said, would ‘promote racial hatred’. [201]


A detailed examination of the three Kalgoorlie race riots demonstrates that racism is not an immutable feature of working class politics, but an ideology that can be contradicted, both by the material conditions of workers’ lives and by the practical intervention of those who choose to stand against a racist hegemony. While other historians have tended to study one or another of the riots in virtual isolation, this study demonstrates the importance of linking the three outbursts in an effort to understand the ebbs and flows of racist ideology. While, in 1916, opposition within the labour movement to racist policies was slight, by 1919, sufficient workers were convinced of the need for solidarity to take up the cause of migrant workers in a relatively concerted fashion.
Although the 1934 Kalgoorlie riots still stand out as one of the most ugly instances of racial antagonism in Australia, significant evidence exists to show that resistance to racist ideas among workers could emerge even while racism was quite literally ‘running riot’. While not seeking to ‘whitewash’ the degree to which racism did permeate working class consciousness, this case study illustrates that the majority of workers used their union to offer solidarity to the migrant workers. Even among those for whom racism was unexceptional, the experience of living, working and socialising in a town of many nationalities served to cement relationships and sympathies that could not be instantly swept aside by an upsurge of racist violence, nor by a crude calculation of available jobs. Although competitive employment relations on the mines undoubtedly created tensions, the collective nature of the workforce offered opportunities for workers to build inter racial solidarity for their mutual industrial benefit. Far from ‘starting on the mines’, it was the Kalgoorlie labour movement that was able to challenge racial
division and promote inter-ethnic solidarity. At the very least, racism was, for workers, a contested issue.
The principal force responsible for racial division in Kalgoorlie was the Chamber of Mines, which consistently sought the most competitive forms of labour hire. In order to further this aim, it promoted ‘white’ solidarity by outwardly upholding a policy of Britisher preference while, in practice, offering the worst and most lowly-paid work to southern Europeans. It refused to take any action against perceived corrupt hiring practices and inflamed racist sentiment by praising southern European miners as hardworking and submissive. The RSL was a useful ally in these efforts to both incorporate and marginalise migrant labour. While it consistently supported the employers’ right to freedom of contract, its constant vilification of southern Europeans fostered greater alienation of migrant workers from their Britisher counterparts, and encouraged the perception among both groups that their most devoted ally was the Chamber of Mines. Because the RSL was cross-class in nature and dominated by conservative sections of society, its members played an important role in the dissemination of nationalism among working class people. For the RSL, internationalism was anathema to its vision of a homogenous, capitalist White Australia. Edward Jordan’s death gave RSL activists an opportunity to capitalise on their longrunning campaign against southern Europeans. In 1934, the evidence suggests that RSL members helped to fan latent racist views into active racist turmoil.
For its part, the AWU leadership had a protean record in the defence of solidarity across national divisions. Self-seeking to the end, it sought a larger membership and was prepared to recruit southern Europeans to further that goal. Membership records show that it was at least as successful at recruiting southern Europeans as they were Britisher workers. However, officials were also prepared to sacrifice the interests of southern European members when they became useful scapegoats for poor conditions on the mines. While the AWU leadership would not fight racism, it generally had no material interest in perpetuating division, except to cover industrial and political weaknesses.
During the 1935 strike, Kalgoorlie unionists were able to challenge racial antipathy, build unity along class lines, and win an impressive industrial victory in the process.


1 M. Cathcart, Manning Clark’s History of Australia, (abridged), Penguin, Melbourne, 1996, p. 609.
2 See C. A. Price, Southern Europeans in Australia, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1963, pp. 208-
9; A. Markus, Australian Race Relations 1788-1993, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, 1994, p. 150; J.
Yiannakis, ‘Kalgoorlie Alchemy: Xenophobia, Patriotism and the 1916 Anti-Greek Riots’, Early Days,
vol. 2, no. 2, 1996; H. Gilchrist, Australians and Greeks, vol. 2, Halstead Press, Rushcutters Bay, 1997,
pp. 23-28.
3 See J. Murray, ‘The Kalgoorlie Woodline Strikes 1919-1920: A Study of Conflict Within the Working
Class’, Studies in Western Australian History, vol. 5, 1982; B. Oliver, War and Peace in Western
Australia: The Social and Political Impact of the Great War 1914-1926, University of Western Australia
Press, Nedlands, 1995, pp. 156-158, ‘Disputes, Diggers and Disillusionment: Social and Industrial Unrest
in Perth and Kalgoorlie 1918-24’, Studies in Western Australian History, vol. 11, June 1990 and ‘“For
only by the OBU shall Workmen’s Wrongs be Righted’’. A study of the One Big Union Movement in
Western Australia, 1919 to 1922’, in C. Fox and M. Hess (eds), Papers in Labour History, no. 5, April
1990; T. Vanderwiel, The Goldfield Riot of August 1919, unpublished manuscript, Battye Library, 1959.
4 See P. Bertola, Ethnic Difference in Kalgoorlie 1893-1934, unpublished Honours thesis, Murdoch
University, 1978 and Kalgoorlie, Gold, and the World Economy, 1893-1972, unpublished PhD thesis,
Curtin University of Technology, 1993, pp. 229-232; B. Bunbury, Reading Labels on Jam Tins,
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, South Fremantle, 1993, pp. 100-27; G. Casey and T. Mayman, The Mile that
Midas Touched, Rigby, Adelaide, 1964, pp. 187-97; T. Docker and R. Gerritsen, ‘The 1934 Kalgoorlie
Riots’, Labour History, no. 31, 1976; R. Gerritsen, ‘The 1934 Kalgoorlie Riots’, University Studies in
History, vol. 5, no. 3, 1969; D. Hancock, ‘Murder and Mayhem in Kalgoorlie’, This Australia, vol. 5, no.
1, 1985; J-M. Volet, ‘Some of the Reasons which led to a Night of Terror in Kalgoorlie and Boulder on
Monday 29 January 1934’, Early Days, vol. 9, no. 4, 1986. For a literary reference to the riots, see K. S.
Prichard, Winged Seeds, Virago, London, 1984.
5 Gilchrist, Australians and Greeks, p. 358.
6 Kalgoorlie Miner, 8 December 1916.
7 Gilchrist, Australians and Greeks, p. 23.
8 Ibid., p. 25; Kalgoorlie Miner, 11-12 December 1916.
9 Yiannakis, ‘Kalgoorlie Alchemy’, p. 207.
10 Ibid., p. 208.
11 In 1916, the Kalgoorlie and Boulder miners amalgamated into the Federated Mining Employees’
Association of Australia. Locally, they were simply referred to as the Miners’ Union, until the FMEA
merged with the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) in 1917.
12 Kalgoorlie Miner, 9 February 1916.
13 Kalgoorlie Miner, 29 January 1916.
14 Kalgoorlie Miner, 5 February 1916.
15 Kalgoorlie Miner, 7 February 1916.
16 Kalgoorlie Miner, 9 February 1916.
17 Kalgoorlie Miner, 14, 30 March 1916.
18 Kalgoorlie Miner, 22 March 1916.
19 War Precautions Acts (1914-16) and War Precautions Regulations (1915), Official Yearbook of the
Commonwealth of Australia 1901-1914, no. 8, Commonwealth Bureau of Statistics, Melbourne, 1915, p.
20 Kalgoorlie Miner, 8 February 1916.
21 Westralian Worker, 11 February 1916.
22 Kalgoorlie Miner, 28 February 1916.
23 Kalgoorlie Miner, 1 March 1916.
24 Westralian Worker, 31 March 1916.
25 Kalgoorlie Miner, 14 February 1916.
26 Kalgoorlie Miner, 8 February 1916.
27 This uncomfortable fact did not stop the editor of a Chamber of Mines publication from categorically
stating that ‘[f]or the alarming shortage of labour that the mines of the Golden Mile have experienced this
month those who own and control them are in no way to blame; the responsibility for it rests entirely upon
the mine workers’ unions.’ Chamber of Mines of Western Australia (Incorporated), Monthly Journal, vol.
xv, part 1, 29 February 1916, p. 5.
28 Kalgoorlie Miner, 22 March 1916; Presidential address to the 15th annual general meeting of the
Chamber of Mines, reprinted in Kalgoorlie Miner, 29 March 1916.
29 G. Fischer, “Enemy Labour’: Industrial Unrest and the Internment of Yugoslav Workers in Western
Australia during World War Ι’, The Australian Journal of History and Politics, vol. 34, no. 1, 1988, p. 11.
30 Kalgoorlie Miner, 24 March 1916.
31 Kalgoorlie Miner, 25 March 1916.
32 Kalgoorlie Miner, 27 March 1916.
33 Kalgoorlie Miner, 30 March 1916
34 Kalgoorlie Miner, 9 February 1916.
35 Chamber of Mines of Western Australia (Incorporated), Monthly Journal, vol. xv, part 1, 29 February
1916, p. 5.
36 Westralian Worker, 3 March 1916.
37 Chamber of Mines of Western Australia (Incorporated), Monthly Journal, vol. xv, part 1, 29 February
1916, p. 7.
38 ‘Alien Enemies Commission’, The Chamber of Mines of W.A. (Incpd.), Kalgoorlie, 31 October 1916,
pamphlet held in the National Library of Australia.
39 Kalgoorlie Miner, 14 February 1916.
40 Kalgoorlie Miner, 25 March 1916.
41 The Sun, 5 March 1916.
42 Kalgoorlie Miner, 1 April 1916
43 The War Precautions (Land Transfer) Regulations (1916) and The War Precautions (Enemy
Shareholders) Regulations (1916) cited in Official Yearbook of the Commonwealth of Australia, no. 9,
Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Melbourne, 1916, p. 1004.
44 Oliver, War and Peace, p. 64, 70. See also E. Scott, Australia During the War, Angus and Robertson,
Sydney, 1936, pp. 112-3.
45 This is probably a misspelling of the more common ‘Bauer’. Kalgoorlie Miner, 9 February 1916;
Official Yearbook of the Commonwealth of Australia, no. 11, Commonwealth Bureau of Census and
Statistics, Melbourne, 1918, p. 1040.
46 Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, 12 January 1916, pp. 39-51; Official Yearbook of the
Commonwealth of Australia, no. 11, Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Melbourne, 1918,
p. 1042.
47 M. McKernan, The Australian People and the Great War, Thomas Nelson Australia, West Melbourne,
1980, pp. 150-177.
48 Oliver, War and Peace, p. 64. For a personal account of the period by an internee from Western
Australia, see A. Splivalo, The Home Fires, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle, 1982.
49 Kalgoorlie Miner, 23 March 1916. For similar editorial messages, see Kalgoorlie Miner, 16 August
50 Kalgoorlie Miner, 7 July 1919.
51 Gilchrist, Australians and Greeks, p. 23.
52 Kalgoorlie Miner, 11 December 1919.
53 A loyal enemy subject was any migrant from an area forcibly incorporated into the Austrian Empire.
54 Kalgoorlie Miner, 25, 29 August 1916.
55 Kalgoorlie Miner, 1 September 1916.
56 Kalgoorlie Miner, 3 November 1916.
57 See, for example, D. Hood, ‘Adelaide’s First ‘Taste of Bolshevism’: Returned Soldiers and the 1918
Peace Day Riots’, Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia, no. 15, 1987; D. W. Rawson,
‘Political Violence in Australia’, parts 1 and 2, Dissent, Autumn and Spring 1968. See also Thomson’s
summary of the Melbourne Peace Day riot and the anti-Bolshevik riots in Brisbane in A. Thomson, Anzac
Memories, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1996, p. 17.
58 West Australian, 13 August 1919.
59 Kalgoorlie Miner, 13 August 1919; West Australian, 13, 15 August 1919; Murray, ‘The Kalgoorlie
Woodline Strikes’, p. 25; Oliver, War and Peace, pp. 156-7.
60 At the time of the 1919 strike against non-union labour on the mines, it was reported that only seven
returned men were not members of the AWU. However, W. Howell, acting secretary of the FMU
(Boulder Branch) stated that its membership totalled more than three hundred, and of this number, over
fifty were returned soldiers. Westralian Worker, 28 November 1919; Kalgoorlie Miner, 13 November
61 It should be noted that, between these antagonistic political positions, were many who stood somewhere
between the two poles. For example, Alf Wilson, a propagandist for the OBU, indicated that he knew an
RSL member who was in sympathy with the OBU, but who ‘was compelled for certain privileges to
remain with those who fought and thought the country was theirs.’ See extracts from A. Wilson, ‘All for
the Cause, being the experiences of a socialist propagandist’, Labour History, no. 65, 1993. See also A.
Reeves, ‘Yours ‘til the war of classes is ended’: OBU Organisers on Western Australian Eastern
Goldfields’, Labour History, no. 65, 1993.
62 Murray, ‘The Kalgoorlie Woodline Strikes’, p. 27.
63 Woodline workers or wood cutters produced the timber that was used for mine construction and safety.
Whenever the woodline workers engaged in a strike of any duration, the mines ceased operation. For an
evocative account of life on the woodline, see B. Bunbury, Timber for Gold, Fremantle Arts Centre Press,
Fremantle, 1997.
64 Those who fought within the RSL for more radical demands were frequently ostracised from the
nationally-recognised organisation. See, for example, B. Oliver, ‘‘The Diggers’ Association’: A turning
point in the history of the Western Australian Returned Services League’, Journal of the Australian War
Memorial, no. 23, 1993 and, in the post-World War Two context, L. J. Louis, ‘The RSL and the Cold War
1946-50’, Labour History, no. 74, 1998.
65 Oliver, War and Peace, pp. 156-60.
66 Kalgoorlie Miner, 13 August 1919.
67 West Australian, 13, 15 August 1919.
68 West Australian, 15 August 1919.
69 West Australian, 21 August 1919.
70 Westralian Worker, 22 August 1919.
71 Vanderwiel, The Goldfield Riot of August 1919, pp. 12-16.
72 Murray, ‘The Kalgoorlie Woodline Strikes’, p. 30.
73 Westralian Worker, 22 August 1919.
74 The Italian Aliens on the Kalgoorlie Goldfields, report dated 18 November 1919, Australian Federal
Police, Western Division, Intelligence Section, NAA: PP14/1, 16/1/290.
75 The Sun, 3 August 1919.
76 The Sun, 17 August 1919.
77 For a detailed account of these altercations, see B. Oliver, Arrested in their beds at Midnight: An
account and analysis of the events at Fimiston, 6 November 1919 and their aftermath, unpublished paper
presented to the Australian Historical Association conference, University of Sydney, 7 July 1998.
78 The Sun, 9 November 1919.
79 Murray, ‘The Kalgoorlie Woodline Strikes’, p. 27. Jack Coleman remembered his father’s participation
in union meetings at the time. He said, ‘The trouble was then that the companies were trying to form a
company union called the Coolgardie Miners’ Union and the ... AWU ... were opposing it very
strenuously to the extent that ... you realise this is 1919. They were just returned boys from the First
World War. Strangely enough, the Boulder RSL wouldn’t be in any activity to take a stand against the
miners but they marched them out from Kalgoorlie RSL.’ Interview with Jack Coleman, conducted by
Stuart Reid on 19 September 1988, Battye Library ref. no. OH2062.
80 Chamber of Mines of Western Australia (Incorporated), Monthly Journal, vol. xviii, parts x, xi, xii, 31
December 1919, p. 124.
81 Westralian Worker, 14 November 1919.
82 The Sun, 9 November 1919; West Australian, 8 November 1919. A. H. Panton, Labor MLC and
member of the Kalgoorlie RSL executive, stated that his fellow executive members had overstepped the
mark by intervening in an industrial dispute and that the majority of returned soldiers supported the AWU.
83 McQueen, Gallipoli to Petrov, p. 214.
84 Chamber of Mines of Western Australia (Incorporated), Monthly Journal, vol. xviii, parts x, xi, xii, 31
December 1919, p. 123.
85 Westralian Worker, 14 November 1919; Bertola, Ethnic Difference in Kalgoorlie, p. 31.
86 Williams, The First Furrow, p. 81.
87 For detailed descriptions of the riots, see the references listed in Footnote 4. See also file of
correspondence, claims for damages, newspaper clippings etc. in connection with riots. Boulder Police
Station records, acc. no. 430, item no. 700, State Records Office of Western Australia.
88 Bunbury, Reading Labels on Jam Tins, p. 108.
89 Williams, The First Furrow, p. 143.
90 Interview with Nancy and Jack Crisp for ‘A Bad Blue’ (The 1934 Kalgoorlie Riots) ABC Social
History Radio feature, 1986, producer Bill Bunbury, Battye Library ref no. OH1396.
91 D. Casey-Congdon, Casey’s Wife, Artlook Books, Perth, 1982, p. 112.
92 Sunday Times, 4 February 1934.
93 West Australian, 31 January 1934. J. J. Baker is the man featured third from the left, not M. Gilbert as
noted in the West Australian. This information was relayed by John Terrell from the recollections of his
father-in-law, Alan Deas, who knew Baker. Letter to author, 21 August 2000.
94 Interview with Robert Fletcher, conducted by Stuart Reid on 27 July 1988, Battye Library ref no.
95 See Gerritsen, ‘The 1934 Kalgoorlie Riots’, p. 75. If Collier’s ‘red-ragger’ reference meant that Thomas
was a member of the CPA, this makes the ideological mix of the committee even more remarkable, given
that the local branch of the CPA actively opposed the riots. It seems more likely that Thomas was a
‘fellow traveller’. Justina Williams did not recall mention of his name among the many interviews she
undertook. Letter to author, 23 September 2000.
96 Alan Deas described Baker as ‘a good talker and very friendly person, who soon fitted in very well’.
Letter to author, 21 August 2000. See also newspaper description of Baker as ‘well-known in the cycling
world of Kalgoorlie and as a broadcast speaker from 6KG’, Sunday Times, 6 January 1935; Western
Australian Post Office records, William Grundt Library, Kalgoorlie.
97 Charteris’ service record indicates that he was born in India of British parents, enlisted in Melbourne in
1915 and served in Egypt and France. Due to a family matter, he deserted in 1918 and was courtmartialled
and discharged from the army in 1920. See H. Charteris, service no. 3073, World War One
Personnel Records, National Archives of Australia, Canberra; Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA),
Medical Records file no. 31576, held at DVA, Perth office. I am indebted to Victor Oates, DVA,
Canberra, for this information. Also see Western Australian Post Office records, William Grundt Library,
98 Interview with Jack Coleman; Interview with Bronc Finlay, conducted by Stuart Reid on 16 November
1988, Battye Library ref no. OH2071; Williams, The First Furrow, pp. 144-5.
99 Interview with Bronc Finlay. See also Communist Review, June 1934, p. 15.
100 Ironically, in some quarters, this stance was portrayed as a principled position. In one mining
periodical, the editor argued that: ‘[i]n declining to be bullied by barbarianism, unblushing and
undisguised, into becoming tools of barbarians and sanctioning causes of tyranny and injustice, the
Chamber of Mines has done something real in the way of cleansing and defending the reputation of State.’
Industrial Australian and Mining Standard, 15 February 1934.
101 Goldfields Observer, 4 February 1934
102 West Australian, 5 February 1934.
103 Kalgoorlie Miner, 5 February 1934.
104 Return of arrests and charges and results in connection with the Kalgoorlie Riots, 19 February 1934,
Police file, acc. no. 430, item no. 700, State Records Office of Western Australia.
105 Ibid. Police records show that the vast majority were under the age of 30.
106 See Gerritsen’s comment that ‘[a] familiar refrain around Kalgoorlie when the riots are mentioned is,
“it all started on the mines”.’ Gerritsen, ‘The 1934 Kalgoorlie Riots’, p. 57.
107 Volet, ‘Some of the Reasons’, p. 110.
108 Kalgoorlie Miner, 16, 24 March 1934.
109 Goldfields Observer, 18 February 1934.
110 Kalgoorlie Miner, 16 March 1934.
111 The Australian, 15th July 1998.
112 Cowle was the executor of Mr Gianatti’s will. Mrs Gianatti operated the hotel after her husband’s death
and was Mattaboni’s employer.
113 Private papers of Mary Augusta Cowle, letter dated 30 January 1934, MN1027, acc. no. 2981A, State
Records Office of Western Australia.
114 Kalgoorlie Miner, 12 September 1916.
115 G. Kristianson, The Politics of Patriotism: The Pressure Group Activities of the Returned
Servicemen’s League, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1966, p. 13.
116 Sunday Times, 4 February 1934.
117 West Australian, 2 February 1934.
118 Sunday Times, 4 February 1934.
119 See D. W. Rawson, ‘Political Violence in Australia’, p. 21.
120 Sunday Times, 4 February 1934.
121 Kalgoorlie Miner, 31 January 1934. Several days after the riots it was reported that there were
persistent rumours that the machine gun parked outside the Boulder RSL had been used in the rioting,
although the gun was almost certainly for ceremonial use only. Police records, acc. no. 430, item 700,
State Archives, Perth; Goldfields Observer, 4 February 1934. Consideration should also be given to the
fact that it was the Boulder sub-branch which supplied the guns. This suggests that the earlier radical
orientation of the Boulder group did not survive the immediate post-war period.
122 Interview with Stella and Evelyn Villa and Mr E. Fraser for ‘A Bad Blue’ (The 1934 Kalgoorlie Riots)
ABC Social History Radio feature, 1986, producer Bill Bunbury, Battye Library ref no. OH1396.
123 J. Coulter, By Deadline to Headline, Access Press, Northbridge, 1997, p. 34.
124 Sunday Times, 4 February 1934.
125 Kalgoorlie Miner, 2 February 1934.
126 Interview with Fred Wayman, conducted by John Clements in 1984. Transcript held in the J. S. Battye
Library, Perth, reference no. OH1313, p. 47.
127 West Australian, 2 February 1934.
128 Kalgoorlie Digger, February 1934.
129 Kalgoorlie Digger, March 1934.
130 Kalgoorlie Digger, February 1934.
131 Ibid.
132 West Australian, 30 January 1934.
133 D. W. Rawson, ‘Political Violence in Australia’, p. 22.
134 Fortunately, copies of this revealing volume are held in the Battye Library, Perth.
135 Dimensions, ABC Television, episode 5, broadcast 11 March 2002. See transcript on
136 Industrial Australian and Mining Standard, 15 February 1934.
137 Report to the Commissioner of Police, Police file, acc. no. 430, item 700, State Records Office of
Western Australia, Perth.
138 West Australian, 31 January 1934.
139 West Australian, 1 February 1934.
140 Goldfields Observer, 4 February 1934.
141 Kalgoorlie Miner, 3 February 1934.
142 At his trial, Pereira revealed that he had been accused of being a ‘ding’ and that his brothers had been
subjected to the language test. The prosecutor suggested to him that he took part in the riots to prove he
was Australian. Pereira denied participation. Kalgoorlie Miner, 24 March 1934. Three other men, Dwyer,
Gilbert and Kelly, were possible AWU members, but the surviving details are inconclusive. AWU (WA
Branch) Membership Roll, 1934-35, file no. N117/1129, Noel Butlin Archives Centre, Australian
National University.
143 Minute Book and Record of Membership Fees and Levies Paid, 1934-35, Eastern Goldfields Tributers
Association, acc. no. 1730A, item 5, State Records Office of Western Australia.
144 Ibid.
145 West Australian, 2 February 1934.
146 Ibid. This was not entirely true, of course. Bob Fletcher, one of the members of the Unofficial Miners’
Committee, was prominent in ‘union circles’. However, it can be confirmed that more than half of the
members of the committee (Charteris, Gilbert, Baker and Brozam) were not members of the AWU.
147 Red Star, 2 March 1934.
148 Kalgoorlie Miner, 31 January 1934; Sydney Morning Herald, 1 February 1934.
149 Communist Review, April-May 1934.
150 Interview with Nancy and Jack Crisp.
151 Westralian Worker, 2, 9 February 1934.
152 Interview with Jack Coleman.
153 President’s Address, Annual General Meeting, The Chamber of Mines of Western Australia
(Incorporated), Kalgoorlie, 27 March 1934, copy held in the National Library of Australia.
154 Gerritsen, ‘The 1934 Kalgoorlie Riots’, p. 62.
155 See transcript of inquest, Goldfields Observer, 18 February 1934.
156 Interview with Wally Dawes for ‘A Bad Blue’ (The 1934 Kalgoorlie Riots) ABC Social History Radio
feature, 1986, producer Bill Bunbury, Battye Library ref no. OH1398.
157 Splivalo, The Home Fires, pp. 15, 26, 29, 36, 52-3, 57-8.
158 Interview with Stella and Evelyn Villa and Mr E. Fraser.
159 Kalgoorlie Miner, 17 February 1935.
160 Interview with Marjorie Henderson for ‘A Bad Blue’ (The 1934 Kalgoorlie Riots) ABC Social History
Radio feature, 1986, producer Bill Bunbury, Battye Library ref no. OH1401.
161 W. Blue Nelli, The Best Battler, no publication details, held in the William Grundt Memorial Library,
162 For the information regarding Frank Jordan, I am grateful for correspondence from John Terrell, author
of Goldfields Sport, A Century of Heroes, Heroines and Happenings, Bateman, 1993, letter dated 4
February, 2000, and to John Merritt for bringing Terrell’s book to my attention.
163 Interview with Jack and Nancy Crisp.
164 Interview with Stella and Evelyn Villa and Mr E. Fraser.
165 Kalgoorlie Miner, 31 January 1934.
166 Interview with Cora Sudlow for ‘A Bad Blue’ (The 1934 Kalgoorlie Riots) ABC Social History Radio
feature, 1986, producer Bill Bunbury, Battye Library ref no. OH1402.
167 See, for example, M. and A. Webb, Golden Destiny: The Centenary History of Western Australia,
published by the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Kalgoorlie, 1993, p. 661; Interview with Nancy and Jack
168 Kalgoorlie Miner, 24 March 1934.
169 Interview with Beatrice Wellington for ‘A Bad Blue’ (The 1934 Kalgoorlie Riots) ABC Social History
Radio feature, 1986, producer Bill Bunbury, Battye Library ref no. OH1403; Interview with Stella and
Evelyn Villa and Mr E. Fraser.
170 This hotel was purchased by the Larcombe family with the proceeds from the sale of the ‘Golden
Eagle’, the largest gold nugget ever found in Australia. Interview with Lily Larcombe for ‘A Bad Blue’
(The 1934 Kalgoorlie Riots) ABC Social History Radio feature, 1986, producer Bill Bunbury, Battye
Library ref no. OH1403. Bunbury, Reading Labels on Jam Tins, p. 44.
171 Interview with Jack and Nancy Crisp.
172 Interview with Stella and Evelyn Villa and Mr E. Fraser.
173 A. Boncompagni, ‘From the Apennine to the Bush: ‘temporary migrants from Tuscan communities to
Western Australia, 1921-1939’, Labour and Community Conference, Proceedings of the Sixth National
Conference of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Robert Hood and Ray Markey
(eds), Wollongong, 2-4 October, 1999, p. 30.
174 Bertola, Kalgoorlie, Gold and the World Economy, p. 230.
175 The Age, 1 February 1934.
176 The dangers of making sweeping political generalisations on the basis of nationality are outlined in G.
Cresciani, ‘Italian Anti-Fascism in Australia, 1922-45’ in E. Wheelwright and K. Buckley (eds), Essays in
the Political Economy of Australian Capitalism, vol. 3, Australian and New Zealand Book Company,
Sydney, 1979.
177 Boncompagni, ‘From the Appenine to the Bush’, p. 30. While Boncompagni’s study focussed on
Tuscan workers, his work suggested that their experiences were not dissimilar to those of other southern
European migrants.
178 AWU (WA Branch) Membership Rolls, 1933-34, 1934-35, file no N117/1129, Noel Butlin Archives
Centre, Australian National University.
179 Westralian Worker, 6 April 1934.
180 Interview with Jack Coleman.
181 Kalgoorlie Miner, 7, 8 January 1935.
182 West Australian, 18 January 1935.
183 Westralian Worker, 14, 18 January, 8 February 1935.
184 West Australian, 8 January 1935; Branch Secretary’s Annual Report, AWU (WA Branch), for the year
ended 31 May 1935, Noel Butlin Archives Centre, Australian National University.
185 West Australian, 7 January 1935; Workers’ Weekly, 11 January 1935; Kalgoorlie Miner, 18 February
186 Workers’ Weekly, 26 April 1935.
187 Workers’ Weekly, 8 February 1935.
188 Kalgoorlie Miner, 1 February 1935; Westralian Worker, 14, 18 January, 8 February 1935.
189 Kalgoorlie Miner, 14 January 1935.
190 Workers’ Weekly, 15 February 1935.
191 Kalgoorlie Miner, 15, 19 January 1935.
192 Workers’ Weekly, 1 February 1935.
193 Kalgoorlie Miner, 4 February 1935.
194 Kalgoorlie Digger, February 1935.
195 Workers’ Weekly, 1 March 1935.
196 Bertola, Kalgoorlie and the World Economy, p. 239; Branch Secretary’s Annual Report, AWU (WA
Branch), for the year ended 31 May 1935, Noel Butlin Archives Centre, Australian National University.
197 West Australian, 7 January 1935.
198 Westralian Worker, 26 October 1934.
199 West Australian, 14, 16 January 1935.
200 Westralian Worker, 31 May 1935.
201 L. J. Triatt, Sec, AWU (MB) to P. J. Trainer, Secretary, State Executive ALP, dated 28 May 1935,
ALP WA State Executive correspondence files, State Records Office of Western Australia.

Leave a comment