These stories explore the threat to Australia from within, from the identification of a section of the population as ‘enemy aliens’ to the formation of the jingoistic Anti-German League, and the radical ideology and activities of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
On New Year’s Day 1915, a mass shooting in which four people were killed and seven injured occurred in the mining town of Broken Hill. The attackers, two men variously described in the press as Hindoos, Indians or Turks, were later killed in a gun battle with local rifle-club members, civilians and police. The act of violence made headlines around Australia: ‘Dreadful affair’, ‘Two foreigners run amok’, ‘War in Broken Hill’, ‘War in Australia’, ‘Holy War at Broken Hill’. The story of that day in Broken Hill is complex and emotionally charged. The actions of the two shooters, Mullah Abdullah and Gool Badsha Mahommed, have been variously understood as the violent eruption of two unhappy and disenfranchised men or as an act of war on Australian territory.
Sometime in 1912, Paul Schreiterer (1868–1939) and his family decided to have their comfortable home, Bangoola, located in the Sydney suburb of Mosman, photographed for posterity. The photographs suggest the story of an immigrant’s success.
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), also known as the ‘Wobblies’, was a radical labour organisation founded in the United States in 1905. The organisation was opposed to the separation of workers’ unions by crafts, committed instead to providing ‘one big union’ for all workers, including unskilled and semi-skilled workers ineligible to join established trade unions. By October 1907 the IWW had arrived in Australia with the establishment in Sydney of a club under the aegis of the Socialist Labour Party.