[Marxism] Re: Don't mention the war

Ozleft ozleft at optushome.com.au
Wed Apr 27 07:46:50 MDT 2005

By Bob Gould

Further to Tom O'Lincoln's point about Aboriginal Australians and the 
AWU. The AWU rules, almost from the beginning, excluded Chinese and 
South Sea Islanders, but allowed Maoris, American Negroes and Australian 
Aborigines to join.

The provision allowing Maoris to join is of some significance because 
for a time the AWU had a rural workers' union in New Zealand as an 

The provision allowing Aborigines to join obviously had a material base, 
in that Aboriginal workers were an important part of the rural workforce 
all over Australia, and obviously the people who formed the AWU saw the 
wisdom of bringing Aboriginal rural workers into the union, if only to 
reduce the danger of a non-unionised section of the workforce being used 
as scabs.

The early leaders of the AWU often had reasonably friendly things to say 
about Australian Aborigines, and generally avoided racist statements 
about them.

It would be gilding the lily to conclude from this that the organised 
rural workers in the AWU were paragons of virtue on racial matters. The 
rhetoric of the AWU was certainly fierce against Asian migration to 
Australia, and in some periods against even non-British southern Europeans.

Nevertheless, this contradictory set of attitudes on race questions 
considerably undermines any proposition that the AWU was part of a rigid 
labour aristocracy with rigid stratification based on race.

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