View of the sandstone exterior of the Trade's Hall


News of the day

Northern Star, Friday 28 March 1919, page 2


To the law-abiding throughout the Commonwealth the proceedings which have taken place in Brisbane during the past few days will come as a shock. It seems incredible to think that the law of the land should be openly flouted and blood spilled through the inactivity of the Federal and the indifference of the State Governments. Neither would these things have happened - not even in Queensland, which has ever been in the van of the other States with its Trades Hall revolutionary propaganda - were it not for the fact that a Labor Government, under the domination of the Trades Hall caucus, is in power there. This supergoverning force of irresponsibles for some time has been getting more and more aggressive, openly embracing as members of the "brotherhood of man" a number of red-rag Russian agitators and publicly vaunting their Bolshevik tenets. To put a check on the spread of the aliens' activities in the direction of lawlessness, a regulation was issued under the War Precautions Act prohibiting flying the red flag.

But thanks to the sympathies of an administration itself "red" to the finger tips this hitherto has been little more than a dead letter so fas as Queensland is concerned, the authorities were permitting the flag to be carried through the streets on St Patrick's Day without taking any action.


These undersirables and their destructive principles must taint our nationhood far worse than perpetual association with the lowers orders of Asiatic or African life. Australia wants immigrants badly enough, but in satisfying that want we should admit only those - white, black, brown or yellow - who can produce evidence of their desirability as citizens from the authorities where they have lived. Education, often enough a clock of the vilest scoundrels, is of itself no test as to whether we are getting the men who will build our country up rather than reduce it to chaos. We want better immigration methods if our communities are to be preserved pure. But above everything is needed the deportation of all Bolshevik aliens, associated with our own extremists, as sharply as possible.


The following is courtesy of the Queensland Historical Atlas:

Trades Hall had long been a centre for radical agitation, from the great strike of 1912 to Peter Beattie’s famous bashing on its steps by overzealous cops after the 1971 Springboks demonstration. Foco however added a different angle to this radicalism – transforming the building’s disused third level into a series of rooms and spaces for a variety of youth-inspired political and cultural activity. The building, already considered a left-wing blight on Brisbane’s landscape, gained added notoriety through its association with ‘dangerous’ New Left types – with its premises being regularly surveilled by special branch officers and Labour movement leaders constantly defending themselves in the press against charges of hosting a drug den. 


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