By David Lowe
Half biography, half transnational heritage, this learn info the lifestyles and occupation of Percy Spender, one in all Australia's so much admired twentieth-century political figures.
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Additional resources for Australian Between Empires: The Life of Percy Spender
13 There is little information about their experiences in what Spender later called ‘the outskirts of Asia’, save for one memory that seemed to be etched on his mind; that of hundreds of labourers carrying coal on their backs into the holds of ships in Hong Kong. It was an unforgettable moment on his first trip Politics and Youth 35 in the summer of 1928–9. The sight of the human treadmill was confronting, ‘almost inhuman’, he said. 14 His later seeking introductions at an official level in Japan also suggested an element of fact-finding and assessment that was typical of his analytical mind.
68 As happened regularly with Jean’s writing, a good deal of Percy found his way into The Charge is Murder!. Paul Rawlins was an alert, resourceful and influential barrister with a ‘tan that much golf and surfing had bestowed on him’ and an ability to tower over others despite his relatively slight build. Rawlins was also a risk-taker who stood out boldly in a profession that could be overly-precious: … Paul could not help grinning at his ignominious position. 69 Spender’s drive to central Sydney from Turramurra was no hardship for he loved cars and, like many of his legal colleagues, upgraded them through the late 1920s and 30s as more models reached Australia.
These groups were deliberately elitist. Their impatience with representative government and popular democracy was matched by a preparedness to identify an elite suited to ruling, a position unlikely to strike chords with Spender, given his humble beginnings. In fact, he went out of his way to criticize fascism in Europe in one of his first recorded comments on international affairs in 1936. In his office arrangements and his preparedness to range far and wide across the legal spectrum, he signalled the limitations of the New South Wales bar as a proscribing influence.