The coolie labour crisis in colonial Queensland

Article


Griffiths, Phil. 2017. "The coolie labour crisis in colonial Queensland." Labour History: a journal of labour and social history. https://doi.org/10.5263/labourhistory.113.0053
Article Title

The coolie labour crisis in colonial Queensland

ERA Journal ID34266
Article CategoryArticle
Authors
AuthorGriffiths, Phil
Journal TitleLabour History: a journal of labour and social history
Number of Pages26
Year2017
PublisherLiverpool University Press
Place of PublicationHaymarket, NSW, Australia
ISSN0023-6942
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.5263/labourhistory.113.0053
Web Address (URL)https://liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/journals/article/57620
Abstract

The conflict over 'coolie labour' was of great importance in colonial Australia. Like the debates and conflicts over Chinese immigration and Pacific Islander labour, the outcome helped shape dominant national strategies around labour, immigration and nationalism, summed up in the idea of a White Australia. Unlike the issue of Chinese immigration, it drove major capitalist interests into a prolonged and bitter conflict with each other. Sugar planters in Queensland demanded the government facilitate the large-scale recruitment of indentured labourers from British India, and liberal obstruction of this led the planters and their allies to campaign for separation from Queensland. This article describes this conflict, the divisions and rival perspectives within the ruling class that shaped it and the reasons that almost the entire southern establishment, Conservative as well as Liberal, galvanised against the planters. It outlines the role played by British anti-slavery thought, and the belief that such a plantation colony in the north would develop a radically different social and political structure, one that was a threat to the free-labour economy.

KeywordsWhite Australia, indentured labour, coolie, Queensland, North Queensland Separation movement, Griffith, McIlwraith, Macrossan, slavery, sugar industry, liberalism
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020430302. Australian history
Public Notes

© 2017 Australian Society for the Study of Labour History. Permanent restricted access to Published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Commerce
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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