Unrest at home, October 1914
In mid-October one hundred years ago, while war was escalating in Europe, recruitment campaigns were well underway at home. Anti-German feeling was on the increase, and on the 12th October, the Brisbane Courier reported backlash against naturalised Germans and Austrians, who were refused employment in some sectors. A group of German and Austrian stevedores were unable to obtain employment because the Port Phillip Stevedores’ Association refused to work alongside them.
Other unrest was occurring in Queensland. On the 14th October 1914, the Brisbane Courier reported a protest by the Pioneer River Farmers’ and Graziers’ Association in Mackay. The protest pertained to the depression in sugar prices, and the Government’s neglect in not revising the sugar tariffs. While cane growers were as ready to make reasonable sacrifices in the interests of their country as men in any other Australian industry, agriculturalists felt that the sacrifice expected of them was unreasonable, and voiced their opposition to planting greater areas of cane in order to cope with the Empire's shortage in sugar supplies, while subject to persistent low prices. Further, the agriculturalists suggested that those who would most benefit from cheap sugar were suffering no detriment whatsoever because of the war, but were selfishly using the situation to advance their own domestic and political interests.
In Federal parliament, the Minister for Defence moved a recommendation that a grant of £100,000 be made to the people of Belgium. ‘The country was a small one, he said, and was bravely facing the greatest military power of the day. By refusing to allow the German troops to pass through her territory Belgium had held back the German troops sufficiently long to allow the Allies to mobilise their troops’. The recommendation was passed, along with the Supply Bill, although as yet the Government had yet to develop its policy as to how the war expenditure was to be met. The pensions scheme would certainly be applied to all persons engaged in the naval and military services since the outbreak of the war.
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