Ethnic solidarity vs. national policy

Bethany – Adelaide, March–April 1929

German immigrants find jobs in a Auslandsdeutsche rural community, making a comfortable living below the generous official minimum wage.

In a narratively expedient twist of fate Colin Ross remeets an acquaintance when attending mass in the German-Australian village of Bethany (See: Infighting among Lutherans in Australia). A German crew member of the steamer on which Ross came to Australia has been looking for a job in Australia. But even in this ‘workers’ paradise’ of European lore the job opportunities are not as plentiful as he had hoped. Finally, he and his fellow ex-crew members have found employment as agricultural laborers with Auslandsdeutsche. They get paid below the official minimum wage rate, but the man’s groomed appearance suggests that this is enough to get by in these parts: “He wore a brand-new blue suit, collar and tie, was clean, shaved and—went to church.” [p. 63]

This anecdote not only suggests the ineffectiveness of national labor laws, with high minimum wages thwarting job growth, and the opportunity awaiting the jobless in the countryside, rather than the crowded cities. (As to this last point, see: Crowded cities, untouched forests) It also contrasts those problems of Australia’s economy with solutions based in ethnic solidarity among the population of German extraction.

Joachim Schätz

Colin Ross. Das zweite australische Erlebnis. In: Der unvollendete Kontinent. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1930; 61–3.

Topic: Auslandsdeutsche
Case: Oceania-Asia trip 1928-30

See also

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