Honour denied : a study of soldier settlement in Queensland, 1916-1929

Johnson, Murray (2002). Honour denied : a study of soldier settlement in Queensland, 1916-1929 PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Johnson, Murray
Thesis Title Honour denied : a study of soldier settlement in Queensland, 1916-1929
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2002
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Total pages 468
Collection year 2002
Language eng
Subjects 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management
210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
430101 History - Australian
780199 Other
Formatted abstract Post-World War One soldier settlement was an important, though largely neglected episode in our past which has not received the close attention it so rightly deserves. Perhaps this stems from an acknowledgement that the scheme was an abysmal failure. Until recent decades it was far more comforting to parade triumphs rather than ignominious defeats. Such a view, of course, distorts our historical perspective, and in an environmentally fragile land, subject to the whims of the El Nino Southern Oscillation, it is crucial to unravel the intricacies of the past to comprehend the future better.

Soldier settlement in Queensland served a dual purpose. Not only was it intended as a 'reward' for veterans of the horrific global holocaust of 1914-18, the scheme also became an instrument to spearhead the social and agricultural policy being implemented by the newly-elected Labor government. As all forms of repatriation were a Commonwealth prerogative, and therefore entitled to Commonwealth funding, soldier settlement offered a relatively inexpensive means for determining which regions of the State were agriculturally viable, and the minimum area of land necessary for it to be sustainable. While glorious optimism abounded, the rural potential of Queensland was largely undetermined. Soldier settlement ultimately disclosed not only the agricultural limitations, but also the associated problems -- particularly marketing deficiencies -- which existed at the time.

The scheme was undeniably a defeat; but just as soldier settlement was the product of a specific period of time, so too were a number of factors that contributed to its demise. To grasp these complex issues in full requires examining the scheme and the individual group settlements in close detail. What emerges is a grim struggle in which men who had been traumatised in a horrific war were forced to endure an entirely new nemesis. With their wives and children, many displayed remarkable tenacity and adaptability. Many also paid the supreme sacrifice in their bid to carry out this social and agricultural experiment.

As this thesis will show, the final outcome was far worse than previously understood. For too long historians have uncritically accepted the findings of Justice Pike in 1929, in which sixty percent of Queensland's soldier settlers were believed to have remained on the land. This is not borne out by the evidence. On the contrary, this thesis will demonstrate that post-World War One soldier settlement in the northern State was a tragedy of massive proportion.
Keyword Veterans -- Queensland -- Economic conditions
Veterans -- Queensland -- Social conditions
Veterans -- Employment -- Queensland
Land settlement -- Queensland -- History
Agriculture -- Queensland -- History
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