Publication Details

Cahill, R. (2014). Home front WW2: myths and realities. The Queensland Journal of Labour History, (19 September), 6-18.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Qld Journal of Labour History


In October 2013, the right-wing journal Quadrant published the book Australia s Secret War, an account by conservative intellectual Hal Cole batch of home front industrial disruptions by Australian trade unions during World War 2. Described as a secret history rescued from "folk memory", one previously suppressed by leftists, it detailed 'treacherous' industrial actions by unionists that variously denied or delayed vital war materials to the frontlines between 1939 and 1945, resulting in the deaths of service personnel.

These actions, the argument went, pointed to a deliberate and coordinated attempt at sabotaging the war effort by the communist leaderships of the unions involved. Maritime unions, in particular the Waterside Workers' Federation (WWF), were the focus of the book.