Jun
17
2010

What were Australians debating during the early 1940s?

A child watches the Australian Women's Army Service march (Australian War Memorial photo - NKCR)

The Mosman Debating Society debates of the early 1940s started with topics related to World War II:

  • That the centre of the British Empire should be transferred to Australia
  • That Britain should bomb Germany
  • That women like war
  • That Australia is capable of defending itself unaided

All of those took place in 1940. After that, there were no debates relating to foreign policy until the war ended. The next few debates related to quite general topics:

  • That an hour of life is worth a decade of existence
  • That the unfit should be restrained from parenthood (defeated)
  • That chivalry in war is unjustified (defeated)
  • That astrology is humbug (carried)
  • That brains are a handicap
  • That opportunism is the only true philosophy
  • That limitation on profit is essential as a means of equity (defeated)
  • That the liquor trade should be nationalised (carried)
  • That everyone should be conscripted (carried)

With many of its members serving in the war, the society then went into recess for 30 months, before resuming in 1944 with these debates:

  • That economic security is more important than liberty (defeated)
  • That preference for returned soldiers should not be introduced (defeated)
  • That unionism is no longer any use (carried)
  • That the Commonwealth needs a women’s government (carried)
  • That the Post-war building programme be taken out of the hands of private enterprise (defeated)
  • That the liquor trade should be nationalised

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