The Australian Constitution and State Politics: Creeping Deserts and Human Extinction in “Dust Bowl” Warnings of Impending Doom
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Beginning with The Grapes of Wrath, this chapter revisits iconic US Dust Bowl imagery describing human erosion/soil erosion leading to declining civilizations, “man-made deserts” then human extinction. It describes Dust Bowl imagery as constructed by war-time Australians. Among them, Geoffrey Thompson, Arthur Calwell, Noel Adams, Fred Alexander, Ken Hall, Elyne Mitchell, and Gerard Blackburn drew on US experiences, knowledge and arguments, to try and construct a national “dust bowl” narrative for Australia, and a national soil service inspired by US warnings and conservation achievements. Repeated references to the US Dust Bowl and Dust Bowl refugees converged in this imagery, with Australian ideas about “creeping deserts,” “the dead heart,” federalism, and state and rural politics. But state politics (Victoria’s Premier Albert Dunstan) frustrated this national vision.