Brisbane in the 1920s certainly had its tense moments, but what struck me most forcibly in browsing the local newspapers from the period was how successfully political and social conflicts were absorbed into the peaceful, civil and law-abiding fabric of Brisbane life. World-altering events like the Russian Revolution, the Armistice and the Treaty of Versailles, the Irish Troubles and the rise of Mussolini were reported and discussed in the press and elsewhere, but matters seldom went further than that despite the real potential — given the presence of significant Russian, German, Irish and Italian minorities in the city's population — for ‘imported’ tensions. Even the momentous political developments that occurred in Brisbane in the early 1920s, when the state government's efforts to secure foreign loans were sabotaged by an opposition-funded delegation to London, and the Premier, EG (‘Red Ted’) Theodore, forced the parliamentary upper house to terminate its own existence, failed to polarise or fracture the community to any significant degree.
Patrick Buckridge teaches literature in the School of Humanities at Griffith University. He has published widely on Australian literature and reading, and is the author of a biography of Brian Penton (1994) and co-editor, with Belinda McKay, of a literary history of Queensland (2007).