Australian cartoonists at the end of empire: no more 'Australia for the White Man'

David Olds, Robert Phiddian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter observes the changes in Australian attitudes to colonialism through the prism of the Bulletin and The Australian in the 1960s. When Sir Frank Packer took over the magazine in 1961, he made Donald Horne editor, whose first move was to take ‘Australia for the White Man’ off the banner. This was not merely cosmetic: Horne was determined to remake the symbolic organ of White Australian cultural nationalism in a new internationalist way. While Horne’s politics were Cold War conservative, he was a maverick, hiring closet communist Les Tanner to edit the cartoons and images. Tanner led a new generation of progressive cartoonists who came to dominate Australian newspapers and magazines from the 1960s. Tanner and his protégés rather abruptly lifted the national tradition from its imperialist and racist mode, turning politically and culturally away from Britain and empire to a more modern and liberal (even socialist) nationalism. When Rupert Murdoch set up The Australian in 1964 with Bruce Petty as cartoonist it, too, was culturally and politically anti-establishment for a decade. Petty was consciously decolonialising even before the anti-Vietnam movement, and there’s a clear argument that a group of cartoonists were among the leaders of this social and political change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComic empires
Subtitle of host publicationImperialism in cartoons, caricature, and satirical art
EditorsRichard Scully, Andrekos Varnava
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9781526142955
ISBN (Print)9781526142948
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2019


  • Cartoons
  • Caricature
  • Imperialism
  • Empire
  • Punch
  • Cartoonists
  • Puck
  • Race
  • Colonialism
  • Decolonisation


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