Letters to the Editor

Mary E. Calwell et al.
Published in May 2013, no. 351

Myth and misrepresentation

Dear Editor,

Lyndon Megarrity’s review of my book, I Am Bound to Be True: The Life and Legacy of Arthur A. Calwell, begins with assertions about Arthur Calwell that appear to be intended to deter the reader from being interested in my book (April 2013). It recycles comments that have made the history of postwar immigration to Australia a maelstrom of myth and misrepresentation. Megarrity ignores the detailed explanation of Australian Labor Party policy that was binding onevery ALP member, and widespread community support for the Restrictive Immigration Act, which Calwell was the first to amend in March 1947. His efforts were eventually successful in achieving Australian citizenship for Asian residents and those of Papua New Guinea. Megarrity appears indifferent to the environment in which events occurred. The quotation from 1972 (‘No red-blooded Australian wants to see a chocolate-coloured Australia in the 1980s’) was in the context of turmoil overseas by ‘Black Power’ and the wish to protectAustralia from social divisions based on race, while continuing to promote education for people from Third World countries. Megarrity would find many refutations of racist comments by Calwell in Hansard and should have mentioned his support for Australian Aborigines and the people of Papua New Guinea.

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Published in May 2013, no. 351

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