Thursday, November 26, 2009

Paul Hasluck

I don't know who Paul Hasluck is. I think MAYBE I saw his name yesterday when researching John Curtin. Perhaps there's some connection?

Well, Lord Wiki says he was a Governor-General.

He had the job from 1969-1974. I probably also saw his name when reading the book by Gough Whitlam. Hasluck was the Governor-General before the infamous John Kerr.

Hasluck was Governor-General when I was born.

He was born on April Fool's Day in 1905. His town of birth was Freemantle Western Australia. Freemantle always reminds me of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. I know that sounds random. But when I did the climb, I met this Canadian man who was doing a cruise. I asked him which was his favorite Australian place so far. He said Freemantle.


Hasluck's family were Salvationists. I wasn't sure what that was. It turns out that they're the Salvation Army. I don't know much about this group, but I feel a little weary of them. I understand they do some good things for those in need, but I'm not sure I feel comfortable supporting them. I don't really know their stance on certain issues. I do give them my spare change now and then. But maybe I should make sure they don't stand for something I'm strongly against. If they do, I'd be better off donating elsewhere.

The Salvation Army started in England. That was around 1865. It came to Australia and the United States in 1880.

In many aspects, they sound like a good organization. They do a lot of disaster relief stuff. There's some homosexual issues. I'm trying to understand it. From what Lord Wiki says, I'm getting that they don't discriminate against hiring homosexuals for most of their job/volunteer positions. But they do want to not ordain homosexual ministers.

Well, now I'm looking at the actual Salvation Army website. They have a whole page on homosexuality. Their religious beliefs do cause them to frown down on homosexuality. But I have to give them credit. They're not as nasty as the Westboro Baptist folks.

They say:

For this reason, and in obedience to the example of Jesus whose compassionate love was all-embracing, Salvationists seek to understand and sensitively to accept and help those of a homosexual disposition and those who express that disposition in sexual acts. Salvationists are opposed to the victimisation of persons on the grounds of sexual orientation and recognise the social and emotional stress and the loneliness borne by many who are homosexual. 

The Army regards the origins of a homosexual orientation as a mystery and does not regard a homosexual disposition as blameworthy in itself or rectifiable at will.

But they do say homosexual behavior makes a person ineligible for soldiership. I think that's kind of sad, but I do understand it in the context of their beliefs. I personally though would prefer to donate to disaster relief programs that are more inclusive and a little less evangelical.

Anyway, I should get back to the Hasluck guy.

He went to Perth Modern School. It's a school for gifted kids. Although Lord Wiki says it didn't become a school specifically for gifted kids until 2007.

For University, Hasluck went to the University of Western Australia. Is that in Perth? I forgot.

Okay. Yeah. Lord Wiki says it is.

In 1923, Hasluck joined the staff of a newspaper called The West Australian. He would have been about eighteen then.

History seems to have been his thing. I wonder if that's what he got his degree in. He wrote about Western Australia history, and later started teaching history at the university.

In 1932, he got married to a fellow writer and historian. The lovely couple ended up with two sons.

In 1939, Hasluck started a publishing company called Freshwater Bay Press. Oh! It's still around.

Here's their website. The first book they published was a collection of poems Hasluck wrote himself. It was called Into the Desert. You can still buy it from the publishing company's site.

In 1941, Hasluck started working for the Department of External Affairs. I guess that would be foreign relation type stuff? With this new position, Hasluck did some international traveling. At one point, he had some contact with H.V. Evatt. Lord Wiki says Hasluck didn't like him. I wonder why.....

After World War II, Hasluck wrote books about the war. Then he decided to enter politics. Although wasn't working for the Department of External affairs part of politics? Maybe we should say he went BACK to working in politics.

Lord Wiki says one of his motivations for getting into (or returning to) politics was he didn't like Evatt's way of handling foreign policies.

In 1949, Hasluck became a Liberal Member of Parliament via the seat of Curtin. Oh. Well, maybe that's how I saw his name yesterday. It's funny. Although the division is named after a Labor Prime Minister, the people in the seat have always been Liberal.

A couple of years after he became a MP, Hasluck became the Minister for Territories. This gave him responsibility over Papa New Guinea and The Northern Territory. Lord Wiki says that he followed an assimilationist policy for the Indigenous Australians. I can't say that surprises me.

In 1964 and 1964, Hasluck was Minister of Defense. After that he became Minister for External Affairs. This is the job that Evatt previously had. But Hasluck didn't immediately take Evatt's place. Before him, you had Percy Spender, Richard Casey, Menzies, and Garfield Barwick.

Hasluck was Minister for External Affairs during the Vietnam War. Lord Wiki says he was a strong supporter of the conflict. He also supported strengthening ties with the United States and other anti-Communist countries. He opposed making friends with China.

After Harold Holt died, Hasluck opposed William McMahon becoming Prime Minister. He put his own name into the hat, but the Liberal Party feared Hasluck was too old and conservative. They didn't think he'd be able to compete with Whitlam. John Gorton ended up with the job.

Lord Wiki says there's a belief that Gorton didn't like having Hasluck in his cabinet. To get rid of him, he offered him the job of Governor-General. Well, that's pretty clever.

Hasluck accepted the honor. He resigned from Parliament. Lord Wiki says this might have ruined Hasluck's further chances of becoming Prime Minister. If Hasluck hadn't become Governor-General, when Gorton lost the job, Hasluck might have replaced him instead of McMahon.


Eventually, Whitlam became Prime Minister. This was a bit of an issue because he and Hasluck kind of hated each other. Back in 1965, Hasluck said to Whitlam, You are one of the filthiest objects to ever come into the chamber. Whitlam had responded by throwing a glass of water in Hasluck's face. Wow. What drama!

Okay, but when he was actually Governor-General, it seemed the two men were fairly civil to each other. When Hasluck's term was about to expire, Whitlam even offered to extend it. Hasluck declined the offer, saying he preferred returning to private life. Wow. Would history have been any different if he remained Governor-General?

Hasluck died in 1993.

After his death, Hasluck's son published some of his dad's private papers. The book was called The Chance of Politics. The book had some negative comments about various people, and therefore was quite controversial. Interestingly, I don't see the book on the Freshwater Bay Press website.

Anyway, I'm done with Lord Wiki. I'm going to eat some lunch and rest my eyes a bit. Then I'll find some other websites to look at.

The National Museum of Australia has a little write up on Hasluck. It's posted in a section called Collaborating for Indigenous Rights.

In his young adult years, Hasluck was part of an organization called the Aboriginal Amelioration Association. I can't find much about this organization, but I just learned the word Amelioration has the definition of the act of relieving ills and changing for the better.

I have a feeling then the organization might have had most of their heart in the right place. But they probably had some backwards and prejudicial ways.

Hasluck believed the best future for Indigenous Australians was to join white society and leave their aboriginal kinship and culture behind.

I think the world would work best if we say, You be like you, and I'll be like me. Then we'll learn from each other. I think this is preferable to the typical assimilation philosophy. Be just like us and not like you. Then we'll all feel safe and happy.

Here's a drawing made by Hasluck. It's of William McMahon. I'm not really seeing McMahon in the drawing, but I am impressed with Hasluck's ability to draw noses.

Here's a British obituary for Hasluck. They say that Hasluck is sometimes described as the best Prime Minister Australia never had. Oh, I don't know about that. I bet there are plenty of better Prime Ministers that Australia never had.

In his journalist days, Hasluck also wrote poetry (yeah, we already knew that) and did some drama critic stuff.

Okay. This is interesting. In the 1930's, some people wanted to segregate Indigenous Australians. They wanted to force them into missions and reserves. Hasluck fought against this.

So, what's worse forced assimilation or forced segregation? Well, I'd say anything forced is equally bad. There's a difference between saying Hey, you're welcome to join us white people. Come hang out with us. Come work with us! and going into homes and stealing children. There's a difference between providing areas for people to live and work, and forcing them to stay segregated.

Forced segregation is probably more racist though. Well, it's more overt, I suppose. In that, you're saying stay away from us. We don't like you. We don't want you around us. In the other, you're saying we don't mind long as you act more like us and less like you.

Well, yeah. I think they're both bad. But assimilation might be seen as a stepping stone to better degrees of tolerance.

The Indigenous issue was one that Hasluck was passionate about. He wrote his masters thesis on the subject.

A former Minister of Foreign Affairs (the job that was once called Minister of External Affairs) did a whole speech about Hasluck. Alexander Downer did the speech for the first of something called Hasluck Asia Oration. Maybe it's a thing with speeches about Asia? Well, Downer says the annual event was designed to assist the Centre's purpose to work towards enhancing Australia's understanding of its Asian environment and its capacity to deal effectively with the region.

Downer's father was in Parliament with Hasluck. He told his son that Hasluck had a good sense of humor.

In 1938, Hasluck and his wife went on a three month journey to South East Asia. So even before he became Minister of External Affairs, he had some experience in that area.

This website shows a photo of Hasluck addressing Indigenous children in a Darwin classroom in 1958. I wonder what kind of things he said to them.

Here's something fairly random and interesting. This old article from 1969 says that Hasluck might have ancestors in common with Prince Charles. Both men might be descendants of an ancient British king named Caedwalla.

Here's an article that Hasluck himself wrote in 1966 regarding Vietnam. Well, it's probably more of an editorial.

It's about something called SEATO. Lord Wiki says that stands for Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. It was formed to combat Communism in Asia. The organization was formed in 1954 and ended in 1977.

Hasluck talks about his support of fighting in Vietnam. I guess it was alleged by some that Australia supported the war only out of obligation in being part of SEATO. Hasluck says this isn't true. Even if they weren't part of SEATO, he feels they'd support the war.

A blogger named Robert Van Krieken has a whole post about Hasluck. He wrote it a few weeks after Kevin Rudd did the whole apology thing.

Van Krieken argues that we shouldn't just apologize for generalized departments of government. Apologies need to be made on behalf of specific individuals. He says, If we are to apologize, not just for the hurt and suffering experience by Aboriginal families over the years, but also for what Commonwealth and State governments have done to bring that suffering about, I think we need to attach human faces and names to them. Generally this makes apology for historic injustice a lot more confronting and a lot more uncomfortable, but also a lot more realistic.

I can see his point in some ways, but in other ways.....

Well, I don't know.

Can we truly apologize for other people? What if they're NOT sorry?

Van Krieken says Hasluck was was probably the most sophisticated intellect behind Australia’s assimilation policies, including Aboriginal child removal, for most of this period. He is seen as a hero of the Liberal Party. They're very fond of him. Van Krieken says their reluctance to issue a former apology to the stolen-generations might come out of some sort of loyalty to Hasluck. Interesting. He might have a good point there.

Van Krieken points out that some of Hasluck's views of Aboriginal Australia matches the one of Rudd's Ministry. There's a desire to close the gap. The difference between now and then is today there's more interest in allowing people to celebrate and keep their culture.

Van Krieken says, Aboriginal culture and its way of life, especially once it had encountered European civilization, was presented by Hasluck and almost every other administrator in Aboriginal affairs as inherently flawed, producing only illness, disease, drunkenness and degeneracy.....

Reading all's chilling. Van Krieken talks about correspondences that occurred between Hasluck and individuals concerned with taking babies from their mothers.

In one letter Hasluck writes, I have again asked the Administrator to ensure that, in the application of this policy, every care and sympathy must continue to be shown for the natural feelings of the people concerned.

Okay. Yeah. You can steal babies away from their mothers. But please do it in a nice way. Be sympathetic about it!

I think what Van Krieken is trying to get us to understand is these policies were not always made by wicked villains who found joy in hurting others. They were often made by people who truly felt that they were doing the RIGHT thing. In hindsight, most of us see what these people did as being dreadfully wrong. It would be helpful if we didn't have to wait for hindsight. We need to better evaluate our actions NOW. Today. When we go out and try to help someone, are we truly helping, or are we somehow causing them great harm?

So often I hear the excuse. Well, he was a product of his time. You have to look at things within historical perspective. People back then......

Personally, I hope my grandchildren never have to excuse my behavior with one of those above statements.


  1. Did you eat turkey today?

    You know, I think the world would actually stop if you were to stop blogging. You're like a rock - writing each day (or making it appear that way).


    I betcha that someone someday will say that you were a product of your time.
    I bet that will happen.

    But don't sweat it! happens to the best of us.

    hasta luego (o bien pronto)
    Thanks for writing each day :) (no pressure)

  2. Hi Dina,

    I had never heard of Hasluck before but found him very interesting. I think his heart might have been in the right place but what has always astounded me was that they never seem to ask the people what they want or need.

    Aboriginal people were definitely segregated and set up on missions or 'the mish' as they are know and they still exist but now in the form of public housing. For instance in Kempsey most people and the town centre is on the north side of the river and 'the mish' is on the south side and is where most of the aboriginal population live. They also still have segregated cemeteries where all the aboriginal people are buried together but i think they prefer it like that.

    Im not sure if naming names would have helped with the reconciliation process. To me it was about acknowledging the past injustices and trying to bring the two communities together and i don't think naming people would have help that process.

  3. HappyOrganist: I did my research while at the table. Every so often, I'd take a break and ask someone to pass the mashed potatoes.

    No, I took a break today and yesterday! No research or writing. I agreed to take the break because Tim said he'd need my help with the cooking. Then all he ended up needing was me cutting the potatoes. Seriously. Oh and I zested one orange. So basically I had two days of fun/relaxation. Well, besides helping with the massive clean-up.

    How was your Thanksgiving???

    And you're right. I'm sure I will end up being a product of my time...probably naive of me to imagine otherwise ; )

    Matt: I've never connected missions with public housing...makes sense though.

    Segregation is definitely still a part of life. It may be rarely enforced in an official way, but various barriers tend to keep people separated. And sometimes it's chosen. Like I know SOME Jewish people like to keep with their own kind. And they too have their own cemeteries.

    I agree about the naming. In a way, it almost seems like scapegoating. If we can name someone to blame then it's easier to ignore our own guilt and responsibilities.

    I feel that way about Hitler. Not that I think he's a lovely guy. But when we talk about as some huge monstrous villain, it makes it easier to ignore the fact that a LOT of people did the wrong thing during that time period. And well people continue to do bad stuff. It's easier to point our fingers at various people than to look at the darkness within ourselves.

  4. I recently read Sir David Smith's book on the office of Governor General. He was private secretary to many of them, including Sir John Kerr, and read the proclamation that dissolved the Whitlam Government.

    Anyway, I think he said re Hasluck, he was the first ex politician to be appointed to the role and the Labor Party initially opposed him, but later supported him continuing.

  5. Michael, Yeah. It seems like there was bad blood between Hasluck and the Labor party at first, but then things got better. Did your book talk about how/why the relationship improved?

  6. Just that Hasluck performed his role very well and won respect from all sides of parliament.

    Something similar happened with Bill Hayden.