Arthur Augustus Calwell is hardly the most celebrated or mythologised politician in the history of the Australian Labor Party. His achievements as the first minister for immigration have been overshadowed by his very public advocacy of the White Australia policy. Calwell’s ultimate personal ambition to become prime minister was denied him. Even his crazy-brave last stand as Opposition leader in the 1966 election – running an anti-conscription campaign when support for the Vietnam War was at its peak – has not acquired the legendary aura of the Dismissal of the Whitlam government nine years later.
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