Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Containing Discontent: Anti-Chinese Racism in the Reinvention of Angus Cameron

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2008), 94, (1), 69–88.

Abstract

Angus Cameron is usually remembered as one of the pioneers of labour representation, a carpenter elected to the New South Wales parliament in 1874 who became a leading advocate for legislation to stop Chinese immigration. Historians have seen this link as evidence that racism was pushed from below by the working class. This article shows that Cameron turned to anti-Chinese agitation at the very point he broke with the labour movement, and argues that he most likely did so in the hope of saving his political career. In particular it looks at Cameron’s infamous Select Committee Report into Common Lodging-houses, and the crisis in Cameron’s parliamentary career that preceded the establishment of the select committee. It also suggests that key members of the Sydney ruling class had an interest in deflecting attention from the appalling condition of rental housing in Sydney, and that Cameron’s report relieved some of the pressure on them.

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Author details

Griffiths, Phil

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