The struggle for Anzac Day 1916-1930 and the role of the Brisbane Anzac Day Commemoration Committee.
It was entirely natural that the first Anzac Day should be celebrated wherever Australians found themselves in 1916. Australian and New Zealand Troops did so more or less spontaneously--in small units at bases in Egypt and the Middle East, in France (where they had just arrived) and Britain. The landing on Gallipoli in 1915, and all the excitement that it had entailed, ensured that the day would be celebrated in Australia also. (1)
The Hobart-based historian and evangelical Christian, Richard Ely, (2) too, seems to prefer the spontaneity theory, or a variant of it, and it prompts the question, why is there little interest in the actual institutionalisation of the day?
Events or movements do have a habit of suddenly breaking out and flaring up, certainly in some historical writing. It is a convenient metaphor that invites the reader to imagine the pre-existence of combustible material just waiting to self ignite, as in the phenomenon of spontaneous combustion. It saves the writer from the tedium of investigating causal links. In the case of Anzac observance, though, it has to be conceded that there did exist a considerable body of publicity that had seized the popular imagination, but this does not explain the organizational origins of the day nor account for the way in which it was sustained, for it was by no means a foregone conclusion that it would continue after the first allegedly spontaneous celebration in 1916. We can, of course, agree with K. S. Inglis, David Kent, Kevin Fewster, Richard Ely and Alistair Thompson (3) that a `cult of Anzac' had very early been established during the eight months of the Dardanelles campaign due to the reportage of Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett and Charles Bean, and these undoubtedly provided the combustible material--to stay with the metaphor--which enabled the movement to be ignited. There was, however, an additional source of emotional fuel, namely the religious movement of commemoration that began first in Anglican cathedrals throughout the country from June 1915, encompassing other denominations, that has hitherto been neglected by historians of Anzac. It will be argued here that this local upsurge of `grief management' within the framework of traditional Christian liturgy is at least equally a source of energy leading to the institutionalisation of Anzac Day.
Consequently, two sources of `combustible' material would need to be recognised that fuelled the Anzac Day movement; one was undeniably the dramatic reportage from the Dardanelles, the other was the public response of the churches. Someone, though, had to ignite the fuel, and because of the nature of fires, also keep the fuel up in order to prolong the combustion. In short, someone had to tend them.
This paper will outline the origins of the first Australian Anzac Day Commemoration Committee (ADCC) which was founded in Brisbane on 10 January 1916, and trace the persistent efforts of that committee until 1930 when at last legislation was enacted to establish Anzac Day as the unchallenged sacred national day of mourning for the nation' s fallen. There were particular reasons why this should have begun in Brisbane, and the paper will attempt to account for them and why the Brisbane committee was always at the forefront of the movement to have the day gazetted as a close public holiday like Good Friday, and to impart to the day a highly religious significance, indeed a character that would make it in the words of the committee, `Australia's All Souls' Day'. (4) At the beginning, other States and New Zealand marked Anzac Day in ways significantly different from Queensland. (5)
An essential pre-condition for commenting on the origins of Anzac Day observance would be a detailed consultation of the records of the ADCC in the Oxley Library in Brisbane supplemented by the files of the Prime Minister's Department relating to Anzac Day. In the files of the ADCC one discovers that the idea to set aside 25 April as a day for the commemoration of the fallen in the Dardanelles campaign, came from a Brisbane auctioneer named Thomas Augustine Ryan (1847-1923), a member of the local recruiting committee and the father of a soldier who survived the expedition. (6) Ryan suggested this idea to the then Premier of Queensland, T. J. Ryan, who in collaboration with the State Governor, Hamilton Goold-Adams and the Secretary of the Queensland Recruiting Committee, Canon David John Garland, convened a public meeting in Brisbane at the Exhibition Hall on the evening of 10 January 1916. The agenda of this meeting had been drawn up by Canon Garland, a high profile local Anglican priest, arguably the politically most involved Australian cleric next to the `red' Bishop Ernest Burgmann. (7)
Garland had acquired his reputation already from ten years service in Western Australia (1892-1902) where he had successfully agitated for the amendment of the State Education Act to allow religious education in government schools. He had done the same in Queensland, leading the Bible in State Schools' League to a spectacular referendum victory in 1911 as a preliminary to having the Act changed there. (It is still in force.) As well, Garland had been an Army chaplain since before the Boer War and had reactivated his commission at the beginning of the 1914-18 war. (8) A Dubliner by birth in 1864, he had emigrated to Queensland in 1886 having the intention to continue to read for the law, something he had begun in Dublin. This he apparently resumed in Toowoomba because it was there prior to 1889 that he came under the influence of the Anglo--Catholic rector of St. James Church of England, Canon Thomas Jones. Garland functioned on the Darling Downs as Canon Jones' Catechist, while Jones was preparing him for ordination according to the practice in the days before theological colleges. Garland's priesthood in Brisbane since his arrival there in 1907 had been marked by a definite tension between himself and his first Brisbane archbishop, St. Clair Donaldson, apparently on personality grounds. They agreed, however, on the central importance of defending the British Empire against Prussianism, and hence both gave vigorous support to recruiting in Brisbane as well as Anzac commemoration. (9)
From the detailed newspaper account of the public meeting that resulted in the founding of the ADCC in Brisbane it is clear that Garland was the spiritus rector of the occasion, having stage-managed it from beginning to end. The Governor presided over an official party consisting of the Premier, the mayors of Brisbane and South Brisbane, other state and municipal politicians as well as the Roman Catholic prelate, Archbishop James Duhig, and the guest of honour and key-note speaker, namely the recently returned Inspector General of the Australian forces, Major General J. W. M'Cay.
Although the Queensland Recruiting Committee organized the meeting, the agenda included more than recruiting business. General M'Cay, however, made the point that it was not sufficient to cheer from the sidelines; the men in the arena of war needed reinforcements in order to finish the job already begun. It could not now be left to the remnant still fighting. However, the main business was the passing of a motion put by Canon Garland:
That a committee be appointed to make all necessary arrangements for, and carry out the celebrations for Anzac Day, such committee to consist of the Mayors of Brisbane and South Brisbane, the Premier, the Hon. James Tolmie, the Chairman and the Hon. Secretaries of the Queensland Recruiting Committee and the Entertainments Committee, with power to add to their number.
The Brisbane Courier went on to report what Canon Garland had said:
It was perfectly right, added the speaker, to celebrate what was not a victory, because it showed that bravery, honour and courage were valued for their own sake, and not because of any gain that had been brought to them. This war was teaching them their duty to God in a degree that would compensate for their neglect of God in the past. The war was also teaching them the things that really mattered, which they either could not or would not learn before; and therefore there was no disgrace in their withdrawal from Anzac. (10)
The new ADCC was now enrolled by Garland. He took pains to see that it was truly representative of the citizens of Brisbane, especially of the mainstream churches. It was ecumenical from the start. Garland, it must be remembered, had already won the confidence of the non-Roman churches through his work for The Bible in State Schools League. To them he was something of a hero by virtue of the vigour with which he pursed the latter cause. And the fact that he was a Dubliner lent him an edge in working with the Irish Roman Catholic hierarchy whose support for the committee was essential. There is further indication that Roman Catholic prelates in Queensland wished to collaborate with the `separated brethren' in an eirenical spirit on all issues that did not compromise their religious beliefs. Anzac commemoration was an issue in which they wanted to be seen to be as involved as the other churches. (11)
The immediate task of the ADCC was to prepare the celebration for the first Anzac Day the next April. It is noteworthy that no one challenged Garland's ideas for this. The nonconformist clergy on the committee, such as the former Gallipoli and Western Front chaplain, Dr E. N. Merrington (Presbyterian), were all undoubted Empire patriots like Garland. (12) As well, the Roman Catholic archbishop, (initially co-adjutor) James Duhig, was no less keen to be represented on the Brisbane ADCC which included such high profile Roman Catholic laymen as A. J. Thynne, and, of course, T. A. Ryan. The commemoration was to have both a religious and secular dimension. Indeed, each denomination agreed to mark the day in accordance with its own theological tradition. And here the Church of England had already set the pace. At 10.00 a.m. on 10 June 1915, a Thursday, a time when the first casualty lists were becoming alarmingly long, the Anglican archbishop of Brisbane, St. Clair Donaldson, celebrated a solemn Requiem Eucharist in John's Cathedral in the presence of the state Governor and both Russian and French consular officials. There were 600 worshippers in attendance and the Russian Kontakion for the Departed was sung, a choir performance customary in the Russian Orthodox mass for the dead and on Good Friday. (13) The public shock at the number of fallen was particularly acute in Brisbane because the first troops ashore had been in fact those of the 9th Battalion of the 3rd Australian Infantry Brigade, raised in Queensland. (14)
This event of commemoration was in keeping with the Anglo-Catholic character of the Diocese of Brisbane and was unique in the country, although there were very large ad hoc prayer meetings in other Anglican cathedrals later that month. (15) These services initiated a series of weekly services of commemoration from then on for the remainder of the year that were followed also by other denominations. (16) By the time of the withdrawal from Gallipoli there was an appeal in Brisbane endorsed by all churches to make 11 December 1915, a day of penitence and prayer for the cessation of hostilities. (17) The evidence of a surge of commemorative activity leading up to the 10 January meeting in Brisbane is overwhelming. We may conclude that a culture of commemoration preceded the institutionalisation of Anzac Day.
The ADCC, although remarkably inter-denominational, seemed content with Garland's characterisation of the day as `Australia's All Soul's Day', the day on which Catholic Europe commemorated all the departed, obviously with a Requiem Mass. The problem for Australia was that it was not only populated with people from a variety of denominational backgrounds, divided by non-negotiable theological positions, the then second largest denomination, the Roman, also maintained a strict exclusivity from any ecumenical involvement. This situation required that there could be no joint or common church commemoration. And in any case, Protestants did not pray for the dead, although the memorial services in the Albert Street Methodist Church in Brisbane, for example, seem to have been doing precisely that. (18) Consequently, it was agreed that each denomination on 25 April conduct memorial services in accordance with their own theological convictions and liturgical tradition, to begin with at 11.00 a.m. As well, earlier services at the graves of deceased returned men were held.
After the 11.00 a.m. church parade there was a march followed by luncheon for the men, catered for by the women's auxiliaries of the various churches. There was initially also to be a joint public service in the evening at which there was certainly to be a religious component but one that was, as far as theology was concerned, designed to be inoffensive to conventional sensibilities. Hymns could be sung, all suggested by Garland, that were broadly theistic and hence theologically innocuous. But the genius of Garland' s concept was the stipulated two minutes silence that enabled persons of both Catholic and Protestant persuasion to pray as they were wont. There would be a short address by a local dignitary, followed by hymns, the silence, the Last Post and the National Anthem. Patriotic resolutions would be passed, speeches held recalling the deeds of the fallen, their names solemnly read out. Later, this event, that became a feature of virtually every town and hamlet in the Queensland, was followed by a concert of light entertainment with a military flavour. However, the ADCC was adamant that the day was to be as solemn as Good Friday when no cinemas, hotels, racecourses or other sporting venues would be open. It was to be totally dedicated to commemoration, the purpose being not only to render thanks for the sacrifice of the fallen, but also to call the population to repentance for the sins that led to war. It had undeniably the character of a Christian revivalist event though with a secular, patriotic facade. This, of course, was intentional. (19)
Secular-humanist writers, most recently K. S. Inglis, who have tried to penetrate the character of Anzac Day have not always been able to come to terms with the concept of `sacredness'. In his extensive study, Sacred Places, Anzac Memorials in the Australian Landscape (1998), Professor Inglis studiously avoided defining `sacred'. There seems to be some anxiety about investigating this dimension and a reluctance to acknowledge the fact of the broad Christian heritage of the Australian population. Veteran diggers, it is assumed, simply had an overwhelming desire to remember their fallen mates in a spirit of what George Shaw termed `Australian sentimental humanism'. (20) The problem is encapsulated in the undoubted acceptance of the concept, `That greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends' (John XV, 13) and a shyness in acknowledging its source.
No such shyness inhibited Canon Garland, or indeed any of the chaplains, regardless of denomination, who had served in the theatres of war. Their understanding of what constituted `sacred' is spelled out in their numerous sermons and address collected from 1921 onwards and published by the ADCC each year until 1939. Anzac Day was undoubtedly a `holy day' because the youth of Australia had offered their lives in a sacred cause, namely the defence of the British Empire, and thereby their own new country, against the forces of ungodly aggression. The chaplains' point of departure was that Australia was basically a Christian country, and the central Christian belief was Christ's resurrection from the dead. And because Christ died for the sins of the whole world, the fallen would be forgiven their sins and united with Christ in death. It was right that they should be commemorated on Anzac Day, and the mourners comforted.
Canon Garland, of course, upheld a distinctly Anglo-Catholic understanding of commemoration that emphatically linked the sacrifice of the Anzacs with that of Christ. As preacher at the St. John' s Cathedral Solemn Eucharist on Anzac Day 1924, Garland reminded the congregation:
On Anzac Day we gather collectively, and plead for them that Sacrifice of Calvary, to which they united themselves by offering their souls and bodies as a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice, after the example of Him who by word and from the pulpit of the Cross taught that `Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends.' Thus in the House of God, pleading before the Altar of God, we find the most comfort, not in the sorrow of those without hope for them that sleep in Him, nor the swamping of our grief in noisy demonstrations; but emphasizing in mind and thought the reality of that life beyond the veil where they live for evermore, and where some day, we too, shall meet them. Thus again there is no room for anything but solemn observance of Anzac Day--the All Souls Day of Australia--and so we come before God not in the bright vestments of festival and the joyous music of triumph; but with tokens of Christian penitence and sorrow for the sins of the world which caused the sacrifice of those bright young lives, our dearest and our best. (21) [Emphasis added]
Obviously, not all chaplains would have shared this particular theology of the sacred, but even the most Protestant chaplains could only make sense of the loss of life in defence of the Empire with reference to the blood of Christ on Calvary. (22)
For the present purpose, it must be noted that Garland made strenuous efforts to apprise the governments, State and Commonwealth, as well as the mayors of cities and country towns throughout Australia and New Zealand, of the way in which the Brisbane ADCC celebrated the day. As well, it was due largely to the initiative of the ADCC that the service attended by the King in Westminster Abbey on 25 April 1916 was organized and the two minutes silence introduced for the first time. The ADCC also elicited from the King a message to the people of Australia for the occasion. (23)
The activities and achievements of the Brisbane ADCC from January 1916 onwards appear to have been of pioneering significance in the history of the movement. To begin with, it was the first in Australia to seize the initiative in trying to establish Anzac Day as a national day of mourning for the fallen. Secondly, it immediately notified the other States, the Commonwealth and New Zealand of the plan and invited them to do likewise. Thirdly, the commemoration was intended to have decidedly solemn religious character for the reasons outlined.
Canon Garland on behalf of the Brisbane ADCC had urged the setting up of ADCCs in every centre in Queensland providing them with guidelines as to how to proceed, even to the extent of instructing an appropriate person to visit each state school on the day before to educate the children on the meaning of Anzac. Further, in order that returned men might make it to the march at no expense to themselves the ADCC arranged annually with Queensland Railways that they be issued with free passes for the day. The committee under Garland' s guidance had become adept at assiduous lobbying; nothing was to be left to chance. Attendances were monitored year by year to gauge whether the public was behind the movement. The ADCC was particularly proud of the endorsement it won from the Federal government after the 1922 celebration:
Your proposals for Anzac Day Commemoration are altogether admirable and intensely interesting. I consider yours is the finest programme in the Commonwealth and congratulate you on your splendid conception. [Minister for Works Hon. W. N. Foster]
The Prime, W. M. Hughes, had also communicated to the ADCC at the same time:
The Commonwealth government proposes to invite through the Press the churches of all denominations throughout the Commonwealth to hold a memorial service at 11 a.m. on the morning of 25th April. (24)
The ADCC had been lobbying the Prime Minister since 17 September 1919 at the latest with a view to achieving a uniform celebration for the entire Commonwealth. And here it is of significance that in the files of the Prime Minister's Department relating to Anzac Day one only finds correspondence from Canon Garland on behalf of the Brisbane ADCC urging their conception of Anzac commemoration on the federal government. No other such committees throughout Australia seem to have been moved to make such representations. This suggests strongly the uniqueness of the Queensland initiative and of Garland's singular contribution. (25) In order, though, for a uniform celebration to occur, the States first had to acquiesce. (26) This required legislation setting aside 25 April as a day of solemn remembrance. New Zealand had already accomplished this on 11 November 1920, and the Act followed precisely the recommendations that Garland had communicated, namely that the day would be kept as if it were Christmas Day or Good Friday. No hotels were to open, and no racecourses were to operate. It was to preserve the character of a sacred day.
Of the Australian States, it was Western Australia that first instituted a public holiday for the observance of Anzac Day (28 October 1919), but it was simply an ordinary public holiday inserted into the Schedule of the Bank Holiday Act. However, an amendment on 15 December 1923, brought Western Australia in line with the New Zealand Act, and that which was enacted in Queensland on 31 October, 1921. In fact Queensland had understood its Act to be the first of its kind in the Commonwealth because of is stipulations regarding the closing of hotels and racecourses. Indeed, it was entitled, perhaps rather presumptuously, `An Act to Constitute Anzac Day a National Holiday'. In the Second Reading, the Premier, E. G. Theodore, acknowledged that the Bill was inspired by the New Zealand Act. (27)
While the institution of a public holiday on 25 April with the closure of hotels and racecourses certainly went some of the way to establishing the day officially as a sacred day, the Act had too many loopholes for the ADCC who insisted that only a total closure of all businesses on 25 April would satisfy the requirements of a truly holy day. The similarity to Good Friday and Christmas Day lay only in the fact that hotels were not allowed to trade, nor were races to be held. Otherwise, businesses were only required to close until 12.30 p.m. in order to allow returned servicemen to march, and church services to be held. The complete close holiday legislation had to wait until 1930. What was essentially at issue was the confusion over the difference between proclaiming Anzac Day a public holiday or a close public holiday. Most groups such as the RSSILA and several States preferred the idea of a public holiday that enabled solemn observance to take place in the morning and sports to be held in the afternoon. The RSSILA was emphatic, for example, that it should be declared Australia's National Day. On 21 March 1921 the RSSILA New South Wales branch advised the prime minister:
We are not quite in accord with the suggestion that Anzac Day should be a day of mourning as we contend that while they live soldiers will continue to mourn the loss of their comrades, similarly the dependants of deceased soldiers will commemorate their losses, but to the Australian Nation as a whole the day means more than a day upon which many soldiers lost their lives. Its real significance lies in the fact that upon that day Australia proved itself a Nation and it soldiers proved that they were Men, and also upon that day was laid the foundation of the traditions which were so nobly lived up to by the A.I.F. during the whole progress of the war. (28)
Clearly, the RSSILA had a rather different agenda from bodies like the Brisbane ADCC. Irreconcilable concepts of what constituted the nation collided here. The one was secular, exclusively masculine and military, while the other conceived of the nation as a spiritual community united under the sovereignty of Almighty God. For the one the war had been an opportunity to prove `manliness' to win the credentials necessary to be recognized as an actor on the stage of history. For the other it was an occasion to call the entire community to reflect on both the wickedness and cost of war; to do penance, commemorate the fallen and to render thanks for their sacrifice in the cause of freedom. In time, of course, the rhetoric of both these positions would become intertwined.
However, in 1921 the time had come for the Premiers' Conference to address the twin questions of fixing the 25 April as unequivocally the day of commemoration and whether it was to be simply a holiday with the opportunity of both solemnity and jubilation or a sacred day like Good Friday.
The remainder of this paper will follow the progress of the agitation at both the Commonwealth and State levels to establish the day uniformly throughout the Commonwealth as a close, sacred holiday, an objective that was ultimately frustrated.
It needs here to be observed that the way in which each State of the Commonwealth and New Zealand responded to the Gallipoli event was different. As the commentators already mentioned, and most recently Alistair Thompson, (29) have pointed out, a legend about the exploits of the Anzacs had been effectively prepared; the public imagination had been fired. In addition, as has been shown, there was an accompanying outpouring of grief that was channelled by the churches, preeminently by the Church of England, into a series of public services of commemoration and intercession.
The response to all this in Brisbane was the institution of the ADCC under the guidance of an extremely high profile Anglo-Catholic priest, Canon Garland, who possessed the diplomatic skill that enabled him to work with both Roman Catholic and nonconformist leaders. This suggests strongly that the culture of Church-State relations was more than just subtly different from State to State. Garland's committee under the ex-officio chairmanship of the State Premier consisting largely of clergy from all mainstream denominations, went ahead and prepared what was essentially a secular requiem. In Sydney, by way of contrast, the Premier, W. A. Holman, appointed the theatrical entrepreneur, J. C. Williamson, to stage-manage the first Anzac Day celebrations in that city. (30) This could indicate that Holman was reacting to the suggestions he received from the Brisbane ADCC. But what resulted, as John Luttrell has demonstrated, was decades of debate in New South Wales arising from the complaint of Roman Catholic clergy that a secular committee was foisting on them a kind of Anzac ceremony that would automatically exclude Roman Catholic soldiers who had fought for their country. (31)
Behind this, of course, was the then official prohibition placed on Roman Catholics from joining in any public inter-denominational religious service. To do so would have been tantamount to a recognition of the validity of the orders of `Protestant ministers'. Non-Roman Catholics had, of course, no official reservations in attending services at which a Roman Catholic padre led the prayers. Indeed, the Roman Catholic opposition to participating in any Anzac service that was deemed to be `religious' is interesting because the assumption was that the religious convictions of non-Roman Catholics were erroneous and heretical, consequently rendering association with `non-Catholics' theologically compromising. The concept of `civic religion' had not yet been articulated, but it existed in Queensland. And this makes the Brisbane ADCC's strongly inter-denominational mode of Anzac observance of particular significance in the history of the evolution of Australian civic religion. The ADCC in Brisbane succeeded in finding a common denominator well in advance of other State capitals. While the Roman Catholic mind generally perceived a stumbling block in any collaboration with `non-Catholics' Garland's inter-denominational committee had constructed a golden bridge over which all churches could march in unison to express both national grief and pride in the sacrifice of the fallen.
Allowing, then, for the variations in how each State handled the Anzac Day celebration, in the end they all adapted the `Garland model', as an examination of the introduction and then gradual amendments to the various State Acts will show. It is striking how all States came to comprehend the celebration as at least a partially sacred one of basic religious significance, though not all had linked religion to the concept of nation as Queensland had done, because they could not consistently reject the desire of many citizens to spend part of the day hedonistically.
As indicated, the Commonwealth could not avoid taking a position on Anzac Day. Prior to the Premiers' Conference of November 1921, Prime Minister Hughes was subjected to a range of advice on the matter. The Brisbane ADCC had telegraphed him in April 1921 suggesting that the observance of Anzac Day should be along the lines already adopted in Queensland. He was reminded that the details had been regularly communicated to him from the previous five celebrations. (32) As well, Garland had sent directly to Hughes the ADCC's format for the 1921 celebration. These ideas were, however, not uncontested. Indeed, the opinions of the various public bodies at the time differed considerably. The RSSILA at its Congress in August 1921 was still of the view that the afternoon of the 25 April should be given over to sports and `jubilation' as it had been during the war at base camps. And it should be Australia's National Day. (33) The Victorian United Retailers' Council advised the acting prime minister that it was most undesirable to increase the number of statutory holidays, whereas The Townsville Chamber of Commerce wanted to see Anzac Day as a sacred holiday. And as a variation on that theme The Victorian Chamber of Manufacturers did not want a holiday at all as it would degenerate into a sports day and preferred to celebrate Anzac Day on the nearest Sunday. And the nearest Sunday appealed also to the Shepparton branch of The National Federation in order to preserve the devotional character of the day. (34)
All these recommendations were received by the Premiers' Conference in November 1921. By that time several States had either passed legislation or declared 25 April a public holiday of sorts. Hughes now urged all States to legislate to ensure that, `irrespective of the day on which it falls, Anzac Day should be observed on 25th April and that the holiday should be uniform throughout the States'. The Commonwealth gazetted it a holiday for public servants in 1922. (35) Further, in a forceful statement, endorsing everything the Brisbane ADCC had recommended, Hughes commented:
... The landing of our men at Gallipoli was a great event, and one which will live when we are all dead and forgotten. It seems to me that it will be a bitter reflection upon that event if we are not prepared to recognise it as we recognise Anniversary Day--the day upon which Australia was discovered. The argument which has been advanced against its celebration is that it will become a day upon which people will attend race meetings and other forms of sport. I do not agree with that view. Upon Good Friday we commemorate the crucifixion of Christ. Nobody suggests for a moment that the commemoration of that event should be held upon a Sunday. Upon Easter Sunday Christ rose from the dead, and we commemorate that event with a service of joy and thanksgiving. Here is a thing which is very very different no doubt, because it has to do with mundane affairs; but as far as the commemoration of a great national event in our history is concerned, it ought to be given a separate day. If you say that we should enact by statute that no race meeting shall be held upon Anzac Day I am perfectly satisfied. Of course, in every seven years or thereabouts, Anzac Day will fall upon a Sunday, but I think that it would be wise to set apart a separate day for its celebration and with that end in view, I shall be prepared to vote to eliminate one of the existing public holidays. (36)
Hughes, however, apparently forgot that he had said all this in November 1921 because on 28 July 1922 he received a delegation of three shire councillors from Orbost in Victoria, introduced by a Senator Guthrie, who wanted to celebrate Anzac Day on the nearest Sunday in order to preserve its solemnity. Hughes had now, apparently, only a hazy recollection of what had been discussed at a Premiers' Conference although he remembered the concern to establish a uniform day and added:
I am in doubt as to which day was chosen. My opinion is that Sunday should be the day, and it should be that Sunday which falls nearest the 25th April. In that there is no difference of opinion between us. I have not the authority to declare public holidays in the States but I have the power to declare what is Anzac Day, because that is the day which ought to be fixed by the Commonwealth whose duty it was to carry on the war. (37)
When this interview was reported in the press (Brisbane Telegraph, 28 July 1923) it elicited a very disturbed entreaty from the ADCC to the prime minister that encapsulated all the arguments for retaining the 25 April as the actual day of celebration except when it should fall on a Sunday. The letter, that went out under Garland's signature, was not devoid of a tone of indignation that the mode of observance originated in Brisbane and followed faithfully over the past seven years could be overthrown by some petty delegation of obscure shire councillors from country Victoria. Clearly the prime minister needed to be repeatedly instructed. Garland explained:
The opinion is very general in Queensland that the actual date except when on a Sunday should be the day of observance, and the feeling is strong against the Sunday observance, even when the 25th of April falls on a Sunday. There are religious difficulties which come into operation: occasionally Easter Day falls on the 25th April, and certainly two Churches and probably others would not allow anything to intrude upon the observance of Lord's resurrection, as the greatest festival in the Christian Year. Sometimes the first Sunday after Easter (commonly called Low Sunday) occurs on 25th April, and the same objection would apply though with lesser force. In any case there are large sections of Christians who would not have or do not think it desirable to have Requiems or Memorials of the dead on any Sunday, each Sunday in the year being a miniature Easter Day. The choice of Sunday as exclusively Anzac Day would not fail to result in divided observance or a section or sections of Christians failing to observe it. At present it is a day of commemoration of our dead which in Queensland so far has been kept by every denomination and in every part of the State, and in a religious manner according to the teaching and ritual of each denomination. Surely that unity of purpose is worth retaining instead of introducing a method which certainly would break that unity. There is no weekday in the whole year and possibly no Sunday on which the Churches of all denominations are so well attended as on Anzac Day morning. In this State at least, beyond an occasional and sporadic action never repeated in any locality, there has been no tendency to turn the observance into one of jubilation, much less into one of sports. The Act of parliament passed by Queensland prohibiting races and ordering the closing of hotel bars on Anzac Day commended itself without exception to all political parties and all religious bodies.
Garland concluded by urging the prime minister to consider that the experience of a committee that had been the very first successfully to introduce and organise Anzac observance over seven years was of `more value on its own particular subject than that of an organization which apparently represents other matters in a couple of Shires and Boroughs'. (38)
William Morris Hughes was no longer prime minister for the 1923 Premiers' Conference, having been replaced by Stanley Melbourne Bruce. Bruce endorsed in the strongest possible terms the Queensland recommendations. The Conference passed the following motion:
(a) That Anzac Day shall be observed throughout the Commonwealth as Australia's national day.
(b) That the actual anniversary of Anzac Day, i.e. 25th April each year shall be the day of observance.
(c) That the States shall take the necessary steps to provide for the fitting observance of the day.
(d) That the morning of the day shall be observed by the holding of religious and memorial services; that the afternoon to be devoted to the giving of suitable addresses and instilling into the minds of the children of Australia the significance of Anzac Day. (39)
With this motion adopted, the Commonwealth unequivocally owned Anzac Day. The Brisbane ADCC was duly notified and in return expressed its appreciation to the prime minister, adding, `It is sincerely hoped that in addition to these suggestions, the Queensland practice of addressing school children in the Schools on the day previous, and the holding of public meetings on the evening of Anzac Day may be adopted throughout the Commonwealth'. (40)
The Brisbane ADCC could congratulate itself that in the fixing of Anzac Day in the national calendar a point of no return had been reached. It continued to be fearful, however, that `certain Southern States' were still advocating celebration on the nearest Sunday, despite Commonwealth proclamations. (41) Strict uniformity of observance throughout all States was virtually impossible to achieve because of the local cultural idiosyncracies in each State and in particular because of the lack of a common resolve from within the ranks of the RSSILA itself. (42) The Premiers' Conference, however, continued to wrestle with the issue not least because of the representations it continued to receive from the Brisbane ADCC as well as from the RSSILA. The position of the Commonwealth as arrived at in 1923 remained, however, the basis for Anzac observance. The mode of commemoration was determined by the legislation in each State.
By 1927 the legislation in place concerning Anzac Day appeared as follows, as compiled for the Prime Minister's Department:
New Zealand: Act assented to on 1.11.20, providing for Anzac Day as a holiday. Licensed premises to be closed in the same way as on Xmas Day and Good Friday. Horse racing also prohibited. On 6.2.22 an Amendment was passed providing that Anzac Day shall be observed in all respects as if it were a Sunday. Western Australia: Act assented to on 28.10.19 providing that 25th day of April (Anzac Day) shall be a public holiday throughout the State. Queensland: On 31.10.21 an act was assented to which constituted Anzac Day a holiday under the Holidays Act of 1912. Hotels are closed on this day and no race meetings are held. South Australia: Act assented to on 21.12.22, providing that in addition to the several days mentioned in the 2nd Schedule of the Principal Act, the 25th of April (Anzac Day) shall be a Public Holiday and a bank holiday and when the day falls on a Sunday the holiday shall be held on the following Monday. New South Wales: Banks and Bank Holidays Amendment Act of 1924 assented to on 10.11.24 provided for an amendment by inserting in Part I after the words `Easter Monday' the words `the twenty-fifth day of April' Anzac Day. Victoria: On 2.11.25 an Act was assented to which constituted Anzac Day a Public and Bank Holiday for other purposes. It was provided that Anzac Day shall be observed as a holiday within the Public Service Acts and as a holiday in all Banks within the meaning of the Banks and Currency Act of 1915. All factories, shops and warehouses are required to close on Anzac Day with the exception of certain places such as fish and oyster bars, eating houses etc. and all employees shall be given a whole holiday on that day. No race meetings to be held. In Sec. 7 of the Theatres Act of 1915 after the word Sunday the words, `or Anzac Day' are inserted, which means that Theatres are closed. Tasmania: Act of 14/11/27 adds `Anzac Day' to list of holidays to be observed annually as close holiday in all Banks. Every Bank Holiday is by law observed throughout the State as public Service Holiday. All shops are required to be kept closed on the 25th April each year and it is the practice in every determination made under the `Wages Board Act 1920' to preserve Anzac Day as a public holiday in the trade to which the determination relates. (43)
By the eve of the Premiers' Conference of May 1929 there were still representations being made to the Commonwealth to achieve more uniformity, but the Prime Minister could only respond by informing the State Premiers:
As you are aware, the day is observed as a holiday in Commonwealth Departments, and action is being taken with a view to ensuring that the celebrations will be in keeping with the deep solemnity and national significance of the occasion. As in previous years, the Commonwealth government is inviting the churches of all denominations throughout the Commonwealth to hold memorial services in the morning at 11 o'clock, and the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia has been asked to participate to the extent of arranging short meetings of remembrance wherever there are memorial halls, monuments and honour rolls ... (44)
There was no getting around the sovereignty of the States to determine precisely how Anzac observance would be constituted. The RSSILA may have helped to gain the desired uniformity had it been able to make up its mind between a composite of solemnity and jubilation on the one hand and a completely close sacred holiday on the other. It is interesting to note the swings in opinion that occurred in the Queensland branch. By 1928 they were urging a sacred and close holiday, in full conformity with the views of the ADCC. (45) The federal executive, however, continued to urge the composite model; solemnity in the morning and carnivals in the afternoon, which, of course, meant allowing all manner of sporting activity alongside open hotel bars.
Another source of opposition to the sacred and close model was the commercial world. Business was clearly reluctant to add yet another holiday to the plethora of such days in some States. Queensland, for example, had in addition to the usual public holidays St. George's, St. Patrick's, St. Andrew's and St David's and a Friendly Societies Day! These were all repealed by The Holiday Act Amendment Bill, September, 1930. (46)
The amendment to the Queensland Act of 1930 to make Anzac Day a close sacred holiday had been preceded by a degree of intense lobbying already under the Labor Premier William McCormack. By 1929 both the RSSILA and the ADCC were in full accord on this matter, and the Chamber of Commerce had no objection provided one of the existing public holidays was repealed. (47) Premier McCormack had indicated that he would indeed bring in the desired amendment at the next sitting of parliament. However, before the end of 1929 the Labor administration was replaced by the conservative government of Arthur Edward Moore whereupon the lobbying began anew, both the ADCC and the RSSILA leading the campaign in unison. (48)
In the event the Moore government brought in the strictest Anzac Day amendment bill in the country, complying in every respect with the long expressed wishes of the ADCC. The Labor Party supported it unreservedly. A future Labor premier and close confidant of Canon Garland, William Forgan Smith, summed up the feeling of the House in the second reading of the bill:
People have come to realise that Anzac Day is not only a day for the commemoration of the deeds of our illustrious Anzacs, but also a day for national meditation, when people can review in their own minds the causes that led up to the Great War, and reflect on the effect of it upon civilisation and all the countries of the world. Whilst the people pay their tribute of respect to the heroism of those who took part in the war, a public conscience can be awakened, and a desire stimulated to eliminate so far as is humanly possible all those things in the national mind which go to make for war ... On Anzac Day the people can consider these things and resolve that, so far as in them lies, their influence will be used in the direction of peace and the propagation of fraternity among the nations of the world; that international agreements and arbitration rather than the law of the jungle, with all the crimes against humanity that it involves, should and, so far as they can contrive, will be the future method of settling international disputes. That is the significance of the day, which is increasing in importance ... (49)
What was then agreed upon in Queensland was that only by the most solemn marking of Anzac Day could this lofty goal be achieved. Other States concurred only partially. Elsewhere there was still an element of `jubilation' allowed on the day. Finally, the Garland model for Anzac Day lasted in Queensland until 1964 when it was ultimately revised to allow the opening of hotels, racecourses and other places of amusement. (50) Further, the churches have long since abandoned their special services on that day, the only public solemnity being retained in the dawn service and in the march. Whether this signifies the triumph of hedonism over religion is a moot question, but certainly for a period of almost fifty years Queensland evinced a significantly different religious/political culture from that pertaining in most other States.
School of Classics, History and Religion University of New England
(1) Eric Andrews, `25 April 1916, First Anzac Day in Australia and Britain', Journal of the Australian War Memorial, no. 23, October 1993, p. 13. Dr Andrews' secularism led him vigorously to denounce the role of chaplains in the Great War when he presented this paper at the Australian War Memorial Conference held at the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1992.
(2) Richard Ely, `The First Anzac Day: Invented or Discovered?', Journal of Australian Studies, 17, Nov. 1985, pp. 41-58. This is a digest of the post-Gallipoli journalism and rhetoric that educated the public mind to appreciate the unique significance of the campaign for Australian national self-awareness. Dr Ely is a well-known high-profile evangelical Christian. A vigorous anti-Catholic mindset is certainly of significance in how one approaches such a theologically sensitive issue as commemoration of the dead. Religious conviction, it would seem on the available evidence, does affect one's world view.
(3) See: K.S. Inglis, C.E.W. Bean--Australian Historian, The John Murtagh Macrossan Lecture, 1969, Brisbane, 1970; `The Anzac Tradition', Meanjin Quarterly, vol. 24, no 1, 1965, pp. 25-44; `The Australians at Gallipoli I', Historical Studies, vol. 14, no. 54, April, 1970, pp. 219-30; `The Australians at Gallipoli II', Historical Studies, vol. 14, no. 55, October 1970, pp. 361-75; David Kent, `The Anzac Book and the Anzac Legend: C.E.W. Bean as Editor and Image Maker', Historical Studies, vol. 21, no. 84, April 1985, pp. 376-90; Kevin Fewster, `Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett and the making of the Anzac Legend', Journal of Australian Studies, no. 10, 1982, pp. 17-30; Alistair Thompson, Anzac Memories: Living with the Legend, Oxford, 1994; see also Thompson' s articles in the Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, Melbourne, 1999, `Anzac Day' and `Anzac Legend'.
(4) Canon Garland repeatedly used this designation for the day. See his Anzac Day sermon held in St. John's Cathedral 25 April 1924 in the Anzac Day Book published by the ADCC, Brisbane, 1925, p. 9.
(5) See Mary Wilson, `The Making of Melbourne's Anzac Day', Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 20, no. 2, 1974, pp. 197-209; Maureen Sharpe, `Anzac Day in New Zealand: 1916 to 1939', New Zealand Journal of History, vol. 15, no. 2, 1981, pp. 97-114; New South Wales employed a theatrical entrepreneur to stage its first Anzac Day (see footnote 30) For references to other States see footnote 42.
(6) ADCC minute book (Oxley Library), 18 February 1916. pp. 82-3 where Garland moved that a letter be written to Mr T.A. Ryan, `recognising him as the originator of the observance of Anzac Day, congratulating him on its world-wide celebration and that he be elected a member of the General Committee', seconded by Mr. Macgregor, and supported by Colonel Thynne, who stated that the observance of the day arose from a suggestion to him by Mr. Ryan. See also the obituary of T.A. Ryan in The Queenslander, 5 January 1924, p. 40.
(7) Peter Hempenstall, The Meddlesome Priest: A Life of Ernest Burgmann, Sydney, 1993.
(8) See Garland's service record, Australian Archives, Personnel Records. On Garland's career see the entry on him in the Australian Dictionary of Biography by Wendy Mansfield, plus the following contributions by John A. Moses, `Canon David John Garland and the Anzac Tradition', St Mark's Review, no. 154, winter (1993) pp. 12-21; `Anzac Day as Religious Revivalism: The Politics of Faith in Brisbane 1916-1939' in Mark Hutchinson and Stuart Piggin (eds), Reviving Australia, Sydney, 1994, pp. 170-84; `Canon David John Garland and the Problem of who Leads' (with Alex Kidd) in Alan H. Cadwallader (ed.), Episcopacy: Views from the Antipodes, Adelaide, 1994, pp. 151-64; `Canon David John Garland (1864-1939) as Architect of Anzac Day', Royal Historical Society of Queensland Journal, vol. 17, no. 2, May, 1999, pp. 49-64.
(9) This aspect of Garland's career is portrayed by Alex Kidd, The Brisbane Episcopate of St Clair Donaldson 1904-1921, Ph.D thesis, University of Queensland, 1996, pp. 192-229. Initially, St. Clair Donaldson did not want Garland in the diocese as his reputation as a difficult priest had gone before him, but he could not help but admire Garland' s organizational ability for which he paid him the back-handed compliment of calling him a `Triton among the minnows' i.e. compared to the other diocesan clergy. See Kidd, p. 129.
(10) Brisbane Courier, 11 January 1916.
(11) See Neil J. Byrne, Robert Dunne 1830-1917 Archbishop of Brisbane, Brisbane, 1991, p. 232, and T.P. Boland, James Duhig, Brisbane, 1986, p. 146.
(12) E.N. Merrington `Memoirs' (unpublished, located at Emmanuel College within the University of Queensland). Merrington has the unique distinction of having personally taken the Australian flag with him to Gallipoli, Egypt, France and Belgium. This full-sized flag, made by and presented to Merrington by the ladies of St. Andrew's Church, Brisbane, was the only Australian flag available to be flown over Australian Headquarters in France on Armistice Day 1918. It is now preserved at Emmanuel College Brisbane. I am indebted to the Principal of Emmanuel College, Mr. Angus Edmonds, for access to this source.
(13) Brisbane Courier, 11 June 1915, and `For Those Who Have Fallen', The Church Standard, 18 June 1915. The Cathedral Service Register for that day is signed by Donaldson as celebrant and notes that there were 100 communicants. The following Wednesday was set aside as a day of continuous intercession for the war. It was begun with the Eucharist celebrated by the Archbishop at 7.45 a.m., concluding at 7.30 p.m. A culture of commemoration had been initiated.
(14) C.W. Wrench, Campaigning with the Fighting Ninth, Brisbane, 1984, pp. 37-85.
(15) At St George's Anglican Cathedral in Perth a memorial service for fallen soldiers was held on Wednesday 30 June 1915 and attended by 1350. Regular intercessory services for peace had been held there every Wednesday evening since 18 November 1914. See `Register of Services' held in the Battye Library, Perth.
(16) The Methodist Church was also very active in this movement of commemoration. It had declared Sunday 31 October 1915 as a Day of Memorial and Intercession. See The Methodist Leader (Brisbane), 15 October 1915, p. 303.
(17) The Church Chronicle (the Brisbane Church of England newspaper), 1 December 1915.
(18) The point is that patriotic Protestants needed at the time to recover a liturgy of commemoration. Indeed, the Brisbane Methodist Leader, 15 July 1915, p. 214, reported a `Memorial Service for fallen soldiers in the Albert Street Methodist Church last Tuesday evening' with a fully surpliced choir. Indeed, the Methodist Church in Brisbane founded the first Anzac Memorial Church in that city in the suburb of Indooroopilly. See The Methodist Leader, 21 April 1916, p. 25.
(19) The ADCC minute book from 1916 records the recommendations made each year subsequently for the conduct of the Anzac Day services.
(20) `Bicentennial Writing: Revealing the Ash in the Australian Soul' in G.P. Shaw (ed.) 1988 and all That: New Views of Australia's Past, Brisbane, 1988, pp. 2-15. See in this context, K.S. Inglis, `Anzac and Christian--Two Traditions or One?', St Mark's Review, November 1965, pp. 3-12.
(21) Sermon given in St. John's Cathedral, Brisbane, Anzac Day 1924 in The Anzac Books 1921-1939, p. 9 of the 1925 Anzac Book produced annually by the ADCC, Brisbane. The sermons and addresses collected here provide a unique insight into the intellectual/spiritual history of the time regarding not only Anzac, but also the theology of the Great War and Empire. See also, Sermons and Addresses delivered throughout Queensland, 1921, compiled by H. J. Diddams for the ADCC of Queensland.
(22) As representative for Protestants, see Rev. E.N. Merrington's sermon in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, Anzac Day, 1921, in Anzac Day Sermons and Addresses, pp. 51-54, and the Rev. A. G. Weller (Methodist) delivered at the Nundah Baptist Church 24 April, 1921, pp. 100-01 of the same publication. Both these chaplains were early members of the ADCC. See the group photograph of the 1921 committee.
(23) Summarised from the ADCC minutes by Alderman H.A. Diddams, a member of the ADCC in `The Celebration of Anzac Day: A Short History of the Great Movement in Queensland' in Anzac Commemoration 1921, p. 9.
(24) ADCC minute book, 8 June 1922.
(25) The ADCC in Brisbane was indeed unique in having a highly active Anglo-Catholic priest as its driving force. No similar personalities seem to have appeared in the other state capitals.
(26) ADCC Joint Honorary Secretaries (Garland and Pike) to Hughes, 27 February 1922, repeating the earlier recommendation for a uniform celebration throughout the Commonwealth, especially in a form that would preserve its solemn character, Australian Archives (AA) Series A 457/1, Item 520/1/58.
(27) Queensland Parliamentary Debates, Legislative Assembly, 22 September 1921, p. 886.
(28) Hastings to Hughes 24 March 1921, AA Series A 457/1, Item 520/1/58.
(29) Anzac Memories: Living with the Legend, Oxford, 1994. See also Alistair Thompson's articles, `Anzac Day' and `Anzac Legend' in The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, Melbourne, 1999.
(30) Ely, `The First Anzac Day ...' p. 57. Sydney did convene an Anzac Day Observance Committee under Dr Mary Booth. See, `Deputation received by Sir Joseph Cook at the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney, on 22 February 1921, in regard to the celebration of Anzac Day', AA Series A 457/1, Item 520/1/58, and Booth to Secretary Premiers' Conference, 22 May 1923, AA Series A 461, Item 90926. See also, Booth, Mary (Papers), Mitchell Library (ML) MSS 2109, PIC ACC 12177 ML 1398/70. Papers relating to the Anzac Observance Committee and Anzac Festival committee are located in Box 4, ML, Sydney.
(31) John Luttrell, `Cardinal Gilroy's Anzac Day Problem', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. 85, part 1, June 1999, p. 5. Luttrell's claim in refutation of R. Ely `Secularisation and the Sacred in Australian History', Historical Studies, vol. 19, no. 77, 1981, pp. 553-66, stands in need of revision.
(32) D.C. Cameron had forwarded the contents of the ADCC telegram of 9 April 1921 to the prime minister on 13 April 1921. See AA, `Anzac Day Observance as a Holiday', 1921 Papers, A457/ 1.
(33) `Anzac Day Observance as a Holiday'. The national congress of the RSSILA had sent a memorandum to the prime minister expressing these views on 29 August 1921.
(34) `Anzac Day Observance as a Holiday'. This file clearly contains a representative selection views at the time that were placed before the 1921 Premiers' Conference.
(35) Commonwealth Gazette, 1922, p. 526, under `Proclamations'.
(36) Premiers' Conference 1921, `Business of the Conference', pp. 4-5, AA A1.
(37) Deputation to the Prime Minister on Friday 28 July 1923. AA Series A 461/7, Item I3/1/10 Pt I.
(38) Garland to Hughes, 3 August 1922, Item I3/1/10 Pt I.
(39) From the extracts of the debates of 25 May 1923, Item I3/1/10 Pt I.
(40) Joint Honorary Secretaries of the Brisbane ADCC to PM 20, Item I3/1/10 Pt I.
(41) ADCC minute book, 2 March, 1926, `Anzac Day 1926'.
(42) That the RSSILA during the 1920s was still seeking to arrive at an appropriate form of commemoration is evidenced in the letter of the General Secretary to the Assistant Secretary of the Queensland Branch 30 January 1925: `From my knowledge of personal observance and also from reports that have been made to me, Queensland's method is certainly the best. For instance in Victoria last year a public meeting was held at the Exhibition Hall at 11. o'clock and while there was a good attendance, it was really nothing remarkable for the capital city of Australia. The Exhibition Hall was far from being filled. Nothing was done in the afternoon, and at 8.o'clock at night a dinner was arranged or organised by the League to pay tribute to General Sir John Monash.' The writer went on to observe that the situation in Sydney was similar; Hobart did have a parade in the city to the Domain where a combined religious service was held and a large public meeting at night in the City Hall; in South Australia there was an unveiling of memorials, a large procession of returned servicemen with bands etc. and a commemoration service at the Cross of Remembrance in addition to religious services. He was unaware of events in Western Australia, and he concluded, `There does not appear to be perhaps the enthusiasm in respect to State Schools, that is in addressing children on 24th April, as is carried out in Queensland'. See the files of the RSL held in the Manuscripts section of the Australian National Library, RSL 1391 B.
(43) Memorandum to the Prime Minister: `Laws governing observance in various States and New Zealand', AA Series A461; Item 90926.
(44) Conference between Commonwealth and States, May, 1929, `Memorandum of Commonwealth Government, No. 9. Observance of Anzac Day', Item 90926.
(45) Hon. Sec. Qld. RSSILA to D.C. Cameron MHR, 15 March 1928, Item 90926.
(46) Queensland Parliamentary Debates, 24 September 1930, p. 1161.
(47) State President RSSILA to Premier, 7 February 1929. Anzac Day File, Premier' s Department, Batch 146.
(48) Joint Secretaries Brisbane Sub Branch RSSILA to Premier, 21 August 1929, and State President RSSILA to Premier, 3 September 1929, Batch 146.
(49) Queensland Parliamentary Debates, 1930, p. 1274
(50) See `Anzac Day Act 1921-81', Queensland Government Printer, 1983.
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|Author:||Moses, John A.|
|Publication:||Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2002|
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