Bowen honours Calwell biography
Life and legacy of the father of multiculturalism launched by Immigration Minister
300 people crammed into the Museo Italiano in Melbourne's Carlton district last week for the launch of I am Bound to be True: the life and legacy of Arthur A Calwell. Written by Calwell's daughter Mary Elizabeth, the book tells the story of Australia's first Minister for Immigration, and the man widely regarded as the father of Australian multiculturalism.
Arthur Calwell (1896-1973) entered Federal Parliament as ALP member for Melbourne in 1940. During WWII he served as Minister for Information in the Curtin government, and at war's end became Australia's first Immigration Minister in Ben Chifley's Labor administration. As the architect of Australia's post-war immigration program, Calwell ensured hundreds of thousands of European refugees were able to find a better life, far from their war-torn homelands.
With his strong links to the trade union movement and his skillful presentation of the need for immigration to drive Australia's industrial growth, he overcame resistance to mass immigration by promoting it under the slogan "populate or perish". Officially launching the biography, current Immigration Minister Chris Bowen described Calwell as "one of the most substantial figures of the second half of the 20th century in Australian politics," as well as being a misunderstood figure. "This is a substantial book about a substantial man.
He is justifiably recognised as the father of Australia's immigration, not just as the first immigration minister, but as the intellectual driving force behind that program," said Mr Bowen. In homage to his predecessor, Mr Bowen described many of Calwell's initiatives that created today's multicultural society, including how Calwell, as early as 1941, had argued that people of Chinese heritage in Australia should be offered full naturalisation rights. Bowen reminded the audience that it was Calwell in 1947 who had first chipped-away at the White Australia Policy, moving amendments to the restrictive Immigration Act of 1901.
"His argument for a generous program of resettlement to Jewish refugees after the war, means that Australia is the host to more Holocaust survivors - and descendants of Holocaust survivors - than any nation in the world other than Israel", said Mr Bowen. Most widely known for his remark, "two Wongs don't make a White" made in Parliament in 1947, Bowen said that it was "intellectually lazy" for Calwell's detractors to define him by that one comment. "How many people know that when Arthur Calwell said [that], he was actually answering a question from a Mr White?" said Mr Bowen.
"It may not have been the best-judged comment he ever made, but look at his actions and not just his words." Also in the audience to celebrate the book's launch were Federal Members Simon Crean and Maria Vamvakinou. Mr Crean said that it was important to reflect that post-war Australia had a population of seven million people, which had trebled within 50 years, due to the policy foundations laid by Arthur Calwell.
"Immigration has been great for this country, economically, socially and culturally," said Mr Crean. "Calwell's values were developed through his Catholicism - values that went to the issues of fairness, equality and social justice - and that all people were created equal before God." Maria Vamvakinou spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Julia Gillard who described Arthur Calwell as a great Australian whose contribution to the nation was substantial and enduring.
The PM added that "no one could be more suited to writing the biography than his daughter, who writes from a close personal perspective but who writes as an author and scholar in her own right: no father could wish for a more faithful daughter."
I Am Bound to be True: The Life and Legacy of Arthur A Calwell by Mary Elizabeth Calwell is published by Mosaic Press. ISBN 9781743241400.
- Register Now
- The Hellenic Club brings the Greek Presidential Guard to Sydney
- WikiLeaks – in the face of betrayals they remain heroic, guarding a Thermopylae
- Hellenic community marches with the Anzacs who fought in Greece and Crete
- Nick Polites recalls his journey
- Darebin Homemade Food & Wine Festival returns
- Tasmania: the treasure island
- Eat like the Greeks
- Cruise ship with 200 Chinese passengers marks a first for Greek tourism
- The Greek National Guard touched by their Australian welcome
- The death of the 457 visa (FAQ)
- Greek Orthodox Bishop calls on Erdogan to denounce Islam and be baptised
- A Greek fish & chippery tops Herald Sun's crème de la crème
- Athens' little treasure adorning the heart of Plaka
- The world's most impressive building will be Greek
- Travelling to Greece? New Corinth-Patra highway finally open
- The nine Evzones in Australia next week
- The 19 best Greek islands according to international travel experts
- ISIS gunmen open fire at the St. Catherine monastery in Egypt
- 18 Greek establishments amongst the best restaurants in Australia
- Dimitrious Gargasoulas says he is 'the saviour'
The Greek Community visits the Hellenic American Educational Foundation, as part of the 'Melbourne-Athens: a journey of friendship' program.
Neos Kosmos visits the family business' newest establishment in the heart of Oakleigh, bringing six decades of seafood legacy and modern culture to your table.
A pioneer of Australian Greek welfare services, staunch advocate for wider migrant services, and legendary jazz musician, Nick Polites tells his life story in his own words.
A new report shows greater than anticipated growth in 2017-18.
Next month the 17-year-old embarks on a 19-day-tour of Brazil as part of the AFA Australian youth futsal squad.
The increased tax burden in Greece has been attributed to hikes in income tax and social security contributions of workers and employers.
Writer Alexandros Massavetas and artist Olga Alexopoulou react to the referendum result that threatens to steer the country to a regressive autocracy.
As Spinalonga enters the final stage of its nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage site, cast and crew of the iconic Greek show The Island share their memories.
Each year we take part in Easter traditions, but what exactly is the significance behind dyeing eggs red on Holy Thursday?
New, much tighter visa regulations to be applied.
While in Greece, historian Jim Claven reflects on the Anzacs who showed bravery as volunteers from Australia and New Zealand in 1941.
Representatives of four Greek islands have expressed concerns the wind parks will impact tourism.
Honouring Thessaloniki's Danish hero.
Olive and Thyme Catering has filled a gap in the market, offering handmade food from traditional recipes that are packed with flavour, and aesthetically pleasing spreads.
Down Under from the UK as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, the Greek comedian has added an additional show to his tour.
The proposal comes with the added suggestion that Russian President Vladimir Putin be his godfather.
Could mass migration be a potential catalyst to forging a common European identity?
Police will be on alert this long weekend with fines for those caught using fireworks approximately $15,000.