History Seminar Week 2: Contesting 'the Ballarat cry': Alfred Deakin's Narrative of Trade and Race in the 1903 Federal Election Compaign


Evening News (Sydney), 10 December 1903 .

How did the Australian people respond to Prime Minister Alfred Deakin’s ‘Ballarat cry’ of ‘fiscal peace and preferential trade for a white Australia’ that framed his 1903 federal election campaign? Tracing the conduct of the federal election campaign identifies a need for a critical assessment of Deakin’s narrative of trade and race and its context. The Ballarat cry reflected a search for security from intensifying racial and trade threats posed by rapid globalization. Deakin’s narrative was both embraced and subverted by the press, letters to editors, and comments by men and women attending election meetings. The evidence of the 1903 election restrains assumptions of homogeneous nation building, and an ‘Australian settlement’ consensus around immigration restriction, industrial relations and trade policy. A powerful free trade, anti-immigration restriction narrative proved politically punishing for Deakin’s Ballarat cry during the 1903 election.

Dr Mark Hearn’s research focuses on aspects of the history of ideas and governance in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Australia. He was awarded an Australian Prime Minister’s Centre fellowship, Museum of Democracy, Canberra, for 2014–15. He teaches Australian history in the Department of Modern History and Politics, Macquarie University.

Date & time

Wed 24 Feb 2016, 4.15–5.30pm


McDonald Room, Menzies Library, ANU

Event series


School of History


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