The Global Impact of the Great Depression, 1929-1939

By Dietmar Rothermund | Go to book overview

8

AUSTRALIA’S REACTION

Overproduction and devaluation

Australia was heavily indebted to British banks on the eve of the depression. It faced a balance of payments crisis and experienced a change of government in October 1929. The Conservatives had to hand over power to the Labour Party which had been in opposition for thirteen years. But the new government had a majority only in the lower house and not in the senate which continued to be dominated by the Conservatives who threw spanners into the works and prevented essential legislation. Moreover, the new government was inexperienced and owed its victory to strikes in mining and industry. The farmers did not figure at all in the Labour Party’s political calculations. They were soon pushed into an awful predicament by the government. In order to overcome the balance of payments crisis the government had the bright idea of inaugurating a ‘Grow More Wheat’ campaign at the most inopportune moment. Wheat export was supposed to earn the foreign exchange which Australia badly needed at that time.


THE ‘GROW MORE WHEAT’ CAMPAIGN

The Australian farmers who joined this campaign were mostly indebted due to investment in the cultivation of new land in the 1920s. They had cleared 3 million hectares of land for wheat production in this period and now they were supposed to step up production even more. The government encouraged them by making all kinds of promises, e.g. the banks were going to provide credit and the government would guarantee the price of wheat. It turned out later on that the government could not keep these promises because the banks would not provide credit and there-

-82-

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The Global Impact of the Great Depression, 1929-1939
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Tragedy of the International Gold Standard 19
  • 3 - The Dilemma of War Debts and Reparations 32
  • 4 - World Production of Agricultural Produce 38
  • 5 - The Origin of the Depression in America 48
  • 6 - The Transmission of the Crisis to Europe 59
  • 3 - Turkey and Egypt 74
  • 8 - Australia’s Reaction 82
  • 9 - Colonial Crisis Management 87
  • 10 - The New Role of the State in Latin America 98
  • 11 - Contrasts in East Asia 110
  • 12 - Reactions to the Depression in Southeast Asia 120
  • 13 - The Fate of Africa 126
  • 14 - The Political Consequences of the Depression 136
  • 15 - From Depression to War 149
  • 16 - The Aftermath 156
  • Bibliographical Notes 164
  • Index 176
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