G17: from ‘a Bolshevik Corner’ to ‘the Deep North’ — understanding Queensland in the 20th Century

The next meeting of the 17 Group will be held on Wednesday the 4th of March at 7 pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St, West End.

Tom Cochrane will speak on the topic: “ From ‘a Bolshevik Corner’ to ‘the Deep North’—understanding Queensland in the 20th Century. ”

A summary of the talk:

In the 1970s and 80s, not a few Queensland bred people fled. I was one of those, very youthful at the time. Within months of leaving, I found myself pre-occupied and embarrassed by a sense of rising ridicule among acquaintances in Sydney.

When Dennis Murphy’s biography of TJ Ryan was published in 1974, it made an astonishing read for “Qld expats”. Ryan, Premier from 1915-19, had a list of reforms as impressive in their time as Whitlam’s, so crisply reprised by Noel Pearson last November. So a great curiosity naturally arose. Why and when had it been possible for Queensland to undergo such an apparently complete political inversion?

So I went looking, and came up with perhaps some of the answer, now back in Queensland during the worst times of the Bjelke-Petersen regime. This talk outlines some of the findings.

Folk Singers in the Seamens Union contingent of the 1965 Labour Day march - Photo: Garner, Grahame. 'Images documenting radical protest and street marches in Brisbane , 1960-1980.' F3400. Fryer Library, University of Queensland
Folk Singers in the Seamens Union contingent of the 1965 Labour Day march – Photo: Garner, Grahame. ‘Images documenting radical protest and street marches in Brisbane , 1960-1980.’ F3400. Fryer Library, University of Queensland

Biographical notes on the speaker:

Tom Cochrane is currently Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia. He was formerly, (until retiring from the position in December 2013), Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Vice-President) at QUT, heading a Division which combined the services of the Libraries, Information Technology Services, eLearning Services, Learning Environments and Technology Services and QUT Printing Services in the one structure.

His research area in Queensland studies was the 1920s, a detailed examination of the events in the State surrounding its “Loans Affair”, when the State Government of E G Theodore, (former Treasurer in T J Ryan’s cabinet) became embroiled in a bitter dispute with the London Money Market and Pastoral Lobby.

Other present roles include: Director, Australian Digital Alliance; Member, Board of Queensland Museum; Director, Board of Knowledge Unlatched (UK); Member, Board of Enabling Open Scholarship (Europe). In 2013 external appointments also included Director, Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation; Member, Publications Board of CSIRO; Member, Advisory Committee of the Australian Law Reform Commission 2012-2013; and Member, Book Industry Collaborative Council Scholarly Book Publishing Expert Reference Group (ERG);

Tom was co-leader of the Creative Commons project for which QUT was the institutional partner leading its introduction to Australia. This project, together with other open access initiatives locally based at QUT, signals a long standing commitment to access to knowledge, and to research output worldwide.

Leon took a particular interest in the 1915-19 aspect of the topic, and after a brief allusion to the famous red flag riots in Brisbane, settled on Kerensky, his exile and his successful wooing of Nell Tritton the bourgeois Brisbane lass, contrasting it with his unsuccessful wooing of the Russian people in 1917. He had gone into the full flight of meditative recall in his usual lengthy and entranced citation of his own works as we left once again with no promise of his attendance:

“In reality, Kerensky was no powerful Bonaparte in control of events. He took his orders from Miliukov – and ambassador Buchanan. Kerensky refused to take action against the threat of reaction while his government repressed the workers and soldiers…”

And so on … as we made our way out the door.

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