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BORN IN 1951? WHAT ELSE HAPPENED? 65th BIRTHDAY

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An excerpt:

JANUARY:  TROUBLE WITH REDS

From the very first day, 1951 looked as if it would be a good year. All the early signs were positive. The economy was in great shape, with boom prices being paid for many of our primary products, especially record-breaking wool. Everyone who wanted a job had one, and working conditions, which had suffered during the War, were improving, granted at a slow pace. The population was booming both from natural increase, and from the huge numbers of European migrants who were being offered very good deals to settle here for three years. Steak was on the menu in most houses whenever they wanted it, beer was often available, and Christmas last year had been the best it had been for twelve years at least. All the hated rationing from the past had now gone, and the black markets had gone with it. Even the dreaded rabbits were on the decline, thanks to the new virus disease, myxomatosis, which was being successfully spread by mosquitos down on the Murray.

Of course, there were a few flies threatening the ointment. Wages were fairly good, and so inflation was on the increase. Many people said that inflation was taking away all benefits, but, in truth, real standards of living were gradually increasing. The population boom was putting a great strain on housing, which had never recovered from the War, but bank loans were available with a big enough deposit, so that young couples were slowly getting their own place to live. Then again, there were more than enough strikes for everyone. It seemed that the whole population was always going on strike, and even worse, such strikes were never justified, except of course for one’s  own.

But these complaints were by-the-by.  In all, things were pretty good for most people, so that I suggest the scene is set for you to have a very good and prosperous year. Let’s see what happens.

Two background matters from 1950.   Reds in Australia. Bob Menzies had come to power just over a year ago, and he lived up to his election promise that he would try to curb the power of the local Communist Party. This Party had gained control of most of the major Trade Unions in the nation, and was constantly calling on its members to strike. Menzies thought he could put an end to this, and he introduced a Bill that would have outlawed the Communist Party, and would also have taken all of their property. Further, he would have had the power to “declare” a person or organisation who was a Communist and who presented some sort of menace to the nation. It was clear that persons who advocated a strike would be seen as such menaces, so this Bill was seen in many quarters as denying the worker the right to strike. The Labor Party had not wanted to oppose the Bill outright, because, in the grubby world of politics, they would have been seen as fellow-travellers, so they stalled it for six months. But Menzies had got it through Parliament at the end of 1950.

The Communist Party and nine Unions promptly challenged the Act in the High Court, and the hearing had lasted till the Court’s Christmas break. As yet, of course, there had been no prosecutions under the Act.

At the end of January, the nation was waiting for the High Court’s decision. If the decision went against the Government, that is if the Court found the Act invalid, there was no expectation in anyone’s mind that Menzies would back off. He knew his anti-Red strategy was a political winner, and he would undoubtedly join the attack again. The only unknown was how he would re-enter the fray.

Reds in Korea. For the last six months, the two great ideologies of the worlds, Capitalism and Communism, had been locked in a war in Korea. No one cares about how it started, because it was in all respects just a battle, between these two ideologies, that happened to be fought in a convenient foreign land. Each side wanted to say to the world, at last, that it was the most powerful, and that it was also the greatest champion of justice. And, the corollary was, that all other nations should adopt the political and economic system of the good guy.

So, by January the North Koreans, now supported by the Chinese, had pushed past the border at the 38th Parallel, and were half way down the Korean peninsular. Then the South Koreans, now supported by America, and Australia, and by a few countries of the UN, had moved the front line right up to the Korean border with China. After that, they had all moved back South again, and were fighting just south of the border.

Throughout the month of January, and also through the month of February, the front lines did not move far. This might have been because there were various levels of talks going on in the UN to stop the war, but it was also because of the extremely cold weather the country suffered in winter. In any case, after all those months, both sides were back where they started from. America has lost about 4,000 sons killed, and 6,000 missing on the battle fields. Australia had lost over 100 dead, and 200 missing. The number of Reds killed would be about 2 billion, if you believed the propaganda machine. No one ever counts how many civilians were killed. 

This issue, though, had not gone away. Unfortunately it will surface again and again, and we will catch up with it in later months.


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CONTENTS:
 
JANUARY BACKGROUND:  REDS AND KOREA
JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS
 
FEBRUARY:  1951 COAL STRIKE
EXECUTION OF JEAN LEE
 
MARCH:  A VISIT TO THE G-G
LETTERS ON LEVITICUS
 
APRIL:  THE GREAT MOWER WAR
Mac ARTHUR SACKED
 
MAY:  IN THE ARMY NOW
DADS PRESENT AT BIRTH
GENERAL BLAMEY DEAD
 
JUNE:  BURGESS AND MacLEAN
CHIFLEY DEAD
 
JULY :  PERSIAN OIL
HIRE PURCHASE
 
AUGUST :  GIBBIT THE LOT
SUNDAY FILMS
 
SEPTEMBER:  MENZIES SHOT DOWN
BRITS PAY FULL FARE
 
OCTOBER:  ABORIGINES
KANGAROOS
 
NOVEMBER:  INFLATION
CALL TO THE NATION
 
DECEMBER:  TIDYING UP
THE YEAR THAT WAS 

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EXTRA READING --  COMPLETELY OPTIONAL

 

YOU WILL NOT BE EXAMINED ON ANY OF THIS

 ABOUT THIS SERIES   …  But after that, I realized that I really knew very little about these parents  of mine They had been born about the start of the Twentieth Century, and they died in 1970 and 1980. For their last 50 years, I was old enough to speak with a bit of sense.  I could have talked to them a lot about their lives. I could have found out about the times they lived in.  But I did not.  I know almost nothing about them really. Their courtship? Working in the pits? The Lock-out in the Depression? Losing their second child? Being dusted as a miner? The shootings at Rothbury? My uncles killed in the War? Love on the dole? There were hundreds, thousands of questions that I would now like to ask them.  But, alas, I can’t. It’s too late.

 

Thus, prompted by my guilt, I resolved to write these books. They describe happenings that affected people, real people.  The whole series is, to coin a modern phrase, designed to push the reader’s buttons, to make you remember and wonder at things  forgotten. The books might just let nostalgia see the light of day, so that oldies and youngies will talk about the past and re-discover a heritage otherwise forgotten. 

Hopefully, they will spark discussions between generations, and foster the asking and answering of questions that should not remain unanswered.

 

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