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Andrew Moore

There was a time in Australia when right-wing citizens of this country were passionate and organised enough to bring the left-led state of New South Wales to the brink of civil war on political grounds. This violent opposition was led by rebel elements among ‘as many as 30,000 members’ of a conservative and ‘formally constituted civilian reserve’ known as the Old Guard. Impatient with the staid organisation, they had forged a more militant collective under the guise of the New Guard. One of the major players in this evolution was Captain Francis Edward De Groot, an antique-dealer and reproduction furniture manufacturer from Ireland, whose ambition and taste for adventure had led him to Australia. De Groot went on to star in the most famous scene of this political drama and to carve his name into Australian popular myth by usurping Premier Jack Lang as the ribbon-slasher at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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