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03 December 2014

The Eureka Stockade

The 1854 Eureka Stockade in Ballarat was one of the defining moments in Australian history. It was a struggle for democracy against authority and for economic justice against establishment interests, which has inspired generations of militants in the workers’ movement and beyond. Jessica Lenahan in Red Flag tells the story of goldfields in revolt. Here is a snippet.

A monster meeting of more than 10,000 was held at Bakery Hill on the following day, 29 November. Here the miners were informed that their demand for the freedom of the hotel rioters was denied. Lalor gestured to Carboni: “I called on all my fellow-diggers”, he later recalled, “irrespective of nationality, religion, and colour, to salute the Southern Cross as the refuge of all the oppressed from all the countries on earth.”

Lalor then invited those present to pledged allegiance:

“We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties.”

Those words ring as true today as they did in 1854