ONE OF THE ASSUMPTIONS pervading the study of Australian history is that the working class and their political correlate the Labor Party were the bearers of what is distinctively Australian. It is perhaps for this reason the history of the Labor Movement is a favorite field of study for Australian historians. A New Britannia is essentially a history of the Labor Movement — but with a difference. It is not Humphrey McQueen’s primary intention to argue the significance of the strikes of the 1890’s; to date with accuracy Labor’s intention to enter politics; or to dissect the more notorious strikes of the twentieth century. McQueen refers to these other peaks in the history of the Labor Movement and sometimes records a deviant interpretation. But the central impulse of the book is to locate the Labor Movement in the materialistic, acquisitive perspectives of Australian society as a whole.
Recommended CitationMurnane, Mary, A New Britannia, Australian Left Review, 1(29), 1971, 70-75.