Publication Details

Hagan, J, From Bicycles to Mercedes. Italians in Rural NSW and Political Choice: Griffith 1947-1984, in Hagan, J and Rando, G (eds), La Diaspora italiana dopo la Seconda Guerra Mondiale. The Italian Diaspora after the Second World War, Bivongi [RC], International AM Edizioni, 2007, 339-347.


There were a few Italians in Griffith when the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area Scheme began in 1913, but they did not arrive in large numbers until after the Second World War. They joined over a thousand people of Italian birth or direct descent who had succeeded at small-scale farming and displaced the majority of Australians who had been the original block-holders. This produced some resentment and discrimination, which led to Italians setting up their own economic and social networks. They did not however act as a single community ; fundamental divisions between Northern and Southern immigrants remained and persisted, and so did old prejudices about the status of women. These differences became significant politically, when in 1984 the electors ended 40 years of control of the State electorate of Murrumbidgee by the Australian Labor Party. But they do not alone explain that result; the defeat of the Labor candidate at that and all elections that have followed reflected also the increasing prosperity of the Griffith Italians, many of whom had become landowners of properties very much larger than the little blocks they or their fathers had once farmed as lessees.