David Cameron, Manufacturing and the Ruralist Ideology in Queensland

Manufacturing and the ruralist ideology of the political economy in Queensland, 1859-1930.

David Cameron

A paper presented to the ‘Looking Ahead’ Postgraduate Conference, Newcastle, 3 July, 1998

During a debate on a motion to establish a state iron and steel works, put before the Queensland Parliament in 1906, John Mann, M.L.A. for Cairns, argued that an economy and its society could not exist on primary industries alone. Mann, dissenting from the usual calls to bolster rural development, stressed that secondary industries should be encouraged and that Queensland actually required a ‘manufacturing population’ to underpin the consumptive demand necessary to support a dynamic manufacturing sector. (1) Mann’s sympathy for secondary industries and urban development were politically unfashionable at this time and manufacturing was very much the black sheep of the political economy in Queensland. Over a decade later the keen eyed Queensland political observer Charles Bernays expressed the commonly held perception that the state of the manufacturing sector in Queensland was ‘well nigh beneath contempt’. (2) Bernays’ comment reflected the political stigma associated with manufacturing that remained largely unchallenged in Queensland until well after the Second World War. The developmentalist zeal of Queensland colonial and state governments was avowedly pro-rural and anti-urban, with the secondary industries generally considered less than worthy of government attention or aid. In Queensland, unlike the other eastern states, manufacturing was virtually ignored because urbanisation was more than counter-balanced by rural expansion and significant decentralisation. The political, economic and geographic factors that limited urbanisation in Queensland’s decentralised economy also reduced much of the potential for the expansion of its secondary industries. However, the vast geography and decentralised nature of Queensland did encourage localised manufacturing activity to service regional markets and the rapidly expanding primary exports sector. Nonetheless, despite the political and social marginalisation of the manufacturing sector these industries have made a crucial and significant contribution to the successful economic development of Queensland.

Queensland’s economic development is the story of the complex interaction between distant export markets, politically powerful pastoral and mercantile elites, an increasingly active and electorally successful labour movement, rural isolation and intensification, decentralisation, and varying degrees of urban growth and urbanisation. (3) The centralisation of production in the metropolis was not as pronounced in Queensland as it was in the southern states, because of Brisbane’s eccentric location in the extreme South-East, nor did manufacturing grow to dominate the economy to the degree that it has in the southern states. The centripetal forces of the metropolis were counter-balanced by the centrifugal forces of foreign and domestic markets, rural production, and patterns of settlement, leading to distinct economic and demographic divisions in the South, Centre and North. The colony was so large that the growth of the metropolis, and its numerous feeder towns concentrated in the South-East, did not hinder the development of large and small urban clusters in the Centre and the North. Queensland’s economic geography therefore ensured that the trade flows of commodities, from its expanding and contracting economic frontiers, were not funnelled predominantly through the metropolis. The spatial diversity of Queensland’s natural resources guaranteed the development of ports and urban clusters to the north of Brisbane such as those at Maryborough, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay, Bowen, Townsville, Cairns, Port Douglas and Cooktown. Two of these ports, Rockhampton and Townsville, eventually dominated trade in their hinterlands and became the defacto capitals of Central and North Queensland respectively. (4)

Manufacturing in the Nineteenth Century

As populations began to develop from the 1840s in the South-East, and in the hinterlands of Rockhampton and Townsville during the second half of the nineteenth century, the demand for local manufacturing industries grew. Indeed, the rate of industrial growth in Queensland in the nineteenth century was quite rapid. (5) There was an expanding market for locally manufactured “essential” items, these goods included basic food and drink, soap, clothing, leather goods, building materials, tools, agricultural implements, fabricated iron products, wagons, barrels, boxes and so on. The market for “non-essential” items, such as imported foodstuffs, textiles, Manchester, cutlery, specialised machinery, chemicals, etc., was at first generally denied to local manufacturers. Factors that contributed to the delay in development of “non-essential” goods manufacture in Queensland included, inter-colonial and overseas competition, a lack of access to investment capital, (6) the relatively high costs of materials, labour and transport, difficulties in achieving economies of scale, (7) and a cultural preference for imported items that only began to recede during the First World War. (8) Growth eventually occurred in the “non-essential” sector as the economy expanded and local products were adopted or adapted to suit local conditions and markets. Eventually, with the growth in population densities, these markets would reach a point of critical mass when it became viable to establish “non-essential” goods manufacturing enterprises. (9)

Throughout the nineteenth century the manufacturing sector struggled to develop beneath the shadow of a pastoral sector that clearly dominated both the economy and political discourse in Queensland. Pastoral development was a consistent priority of all Queensland governments. While successive Queensland colonial governments became increasingly active in the affairs of the pastoral and agricultural sectors, in which most parliamentarians were intimately involved promoting developmental railways, pastoral expansion, and ultimately closer settlement agriculture, manufacturing was generally left to its own devices. (10) For Queensland’s pastoral and mercantile power elites manufacturing was generally considered unnatural and unnecessary as their profits relied on the continued development of exporting rural commodities to the United Kingdom. Indeed, British investors were much more inclined to support a cycle of trade and profit based upon importing Queensland’s commodities to fuel Britain’s factories and exporting their manufactures back to the colonies. Moreover, this cycle of finance and pattern of trade reflected the hegemony of the political economy of Empire.

Within this context the Queensland government initiated rural development programs that were aligned with this hegemony and sought to tap into this trade cycle, and the government became increasingly reliant upon massive British loans, and the revenues derived from the wool trade, to finance these schemes. When the wool market collapsed in the late 1880s, the government attempted to prop-up rural investment via land sales associated with closer settlement schemes. (11) Historian Glen Lewis has described this process of political economy as the ‘Trinity of Hope’ (land, immigration, and developmental railways). From separation through to the mid-1880s, the trinity was unchallenged as the primary means of promoting economic development and discouraging urbanisation and industrialisation. (12) However, by the turn of the century it had become clear, even to the political promoters of this strategy, that the trinity was fiscally unsustainable and had failed in its task of socially engineering greater rurality on a scale envisaged by its political patrons. (13)

Despite the intense focus on rural development, there were some measures taken to encourage selected manufacturing activities. Several governments sought to encourage meat processing and exports and later also offered financial and regulatory assistance to the sugar industry to help establish cooperative controlled sugar crushing mills. (14) Two legislative measures, the Manufacturing Industries Act 1869 and the Encouragement of Native Industries Act 1869, were adopted in 1869 in the hope of fostering textile production in Queensland. However, both of these Acts failed in their objectives. (15) Nevertheless, by the mid-1870s the composition and distribution of secondary industries had achieved reasonable levels of complexity and decentralisation, if not in overall sophistication and diversity.

The data available in the Statistics of Queensland for the 1860s is not reliable enough to indicate the true shape of the sector in that decade, however, by 1875 we know that there were 578 factories operating in Queensland. (16)

During the 1870s and 1880s the growth of the sugar industry, mining, smelting, and railway construction promoted expansion in the metals and engineering sectors in the regional urban centres of Ipswich, Toowoomba, Maryborough, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Mackay, and Townsville. The growth in domestic and export demand for meat products promoted a general expansion in the number and scale of operations of meat works and associated processing industries. (17) Moreover, growth in urban populations, and the trend toward higher wages and levels of consumption, created new and expanding forces of demand for local and imported manufactures. By 1885 there were 1079 factories, and this expanded quickly to over 2600 by 1899; an increase of over 350 per cent. Production and employment figures are only available from 1892 and they indicate that employment increased by ninety-six per cent, from 12,209 to 23,879 between 1892-1899. The value of output also increased, expanding from 4.6 million in 1895 to ,8.9 million in 1899. (18) These figures demonstrate something of the dynamism of the secondary industries during the 1890s, a truly remarkable achievement in the shadow of the early 1890s depression.

The 1890s were a critical and pivotal decade for the economic development of Queensland. The manufacturing sector performed well and was the stand out success of the decade, despite the bitter depression of 1891-1893. The depression, which was experienced Australia-wide, was induced by financial speculation and over-production in Europe which drove down commodity prices, and therefore reduced export incomes in Australia, to the extent that the levels of public debt became temporarily unserviceable. The ensuing credit squeeze effectively cut off the economic fuel supply to much of Queensland’s economy. (19) The extent of the impact of the depression, and droughts, floods and federation later in the decade, on Queensland’s economic development can be seen in the reduction of immigration and population growth. Net immigration decreased markedly during 1891-1892 and stagnated for the rest of the decade. Queensland again experienced net migration losses between 1900 and 1905, and a decrease in its population, as a result of another depression associated with the long drought of 1898-1903. (20)

Nevertheless, after the tumultuous economic changes of the early 1890s, Queensland’s economy recovered more quickly than the other colonies. Indeed, the unique characteristics of Queensland’s decentralised rural-urban structure underpinned the colony’s recovery, as its workforce was less reliant upon large scale manufacturing centred in the metropolis. It must be remembered that Queensland’s economy was not homogenous, as it was, and still is, comprised of several distinct regional economies subject to wide variations in climate, commodity markets, and population densities. While population growth stalled between 1899-1903, Census data indicates that from the mid-1890s Queensland’s workforce grew faster than the Australian average in percentage terms. Apart from transport and communications, Queensland’s urban based workforce also grew more quickly in percentage terms than the rest of the states. (21) Nevertheless, the manufacturing workforce still lagged proportionally behind the Australian average. (22)

In terms of the overall composition of Queensland’s workforce primary producers accounted for approximately thirty-eight per cent of the total workforce in 1901, this had fallen to less than twenty-five per cent by 1933. Likewise urban workers accounted for fifty-seven per cent of Queensland’s workforce compared to sixty-four per cent for Australia as a whole. Those working in Queensland classified as having urban occupations accounted for over fifty-three per cent. (23) This indicates that Queensland was more reliant upon its primary industries, and that it’s population was less urbanised than the Australian average. However, a rather different picture emerges when one considers non-rural occupation classifications (manufacturing, commercial, etc.) irrespective of urban or rural location, here the statistics for Queensland demonstrate a clear dominance of non-rural employment. That is, the vast majority of employees and employers were involved in occupations other than those directly engaged in primary production. For example the combined non-rural workforce as a percentage of the total workforce fluctuated between sixty-eight and seventy-five per cent between 1881 and 1933. (24)

Federation and Manufacturing in Queensland

The distinctly rural and decentralised nature of Queensland’s economic geography has led historians to generally assume that Queensland’s manufacturing sector was relatively primitive and underdeveloped; a rather laggardly cousin compared to its southern competitors. (25) Indeed, federation in particular has often been blamed for seriously retarding Queensland’s manufacturing sector in the early twentieth century, due to the introduction of cheaper imports from interstate following the dismantling of colonial tariff barriers. (26) In many respects this is true, as Queensland’s manufacturing sector did tend to be less sophisticated and underdeveloped when compared directly to those in the southern states. Although Queensland’s secondary industries made great progress after the depression of the early 1890s, these gains were quickly whittled away by the economic repercussions of the long drought, and by the changes to intercolonial trade after federation in 1901. The number of factories in Queensland declined markedly through to the First World War and the sector was in a constant state of flux. However, what appeared to be a massive regression in the fortunes of the manufacturers was, under closer examination, a combination of decline in some industries and dynamic reorganisation in others that suggests this sector was not as backward as it is generally assumed.

The statistical record illustrates some of the structural changes that occurred at the time of federation. In fact a rapid and dramatic decline in the number of factories had begun to occur prior to federation, and taking into account the changes in classification methodology, (27) the collapse had largely stabilised after 1902-1903. The most dramatic decrease occurred between 1899-1902 corresponding with the worst years of the long drought. Indeed, many contemporary observers, and some historians, concede that the drought had a greater negative economic impact than federation. (28) The subsequent slump between 1906-1909 is, however, more attributable to the impact of post-federation trading conditions. The decline in factory numbers was also initially accompanied by an appreciable reduction in employment between 1901 and 1903, however, this was followed by a strong growth curve that stabilised between 1909-1910, prior to a much stronger expansion that continued through to 1913. In the early years of the 1900s the firms with between one and four, and more than sixty hands employed were the most effected by changed trading conditions associated with federation. The medium sized firms of five to sixty hands, either remained stable or experienced some growth in number. (29) Taken together these trends indicate that some manufacturing industries foundered in the wake of the drought and federation, however, there was a more important process of structural change occurring, most prominently that of consolidation where fewer factories employed more hands and increased production. (30)

Manufacturing in the Early Twentieth Century Queensland

Essentially many manufacturers in Queensland were severely weakened by the economic impact of the drought and the simultaneous onset of free trade proved too much for many of the more marginal operations, leaving them more exposed to interstate competition. (31) The stronger industries tended to profit from the competition and increased their market share. Large concerns grew larger, swallowing up their local competition, an in some cases, began exporting goods interstate. (32) Indeed, when one closely examines the decline in factory numbers a significant structural change can be identified.

It is evident that many Queensland factories were experiencing a process of consolidation where fewer factories employed more hands and increased production. This process of consolidation is clearly evident within the Statistics series. In 1899 there were 2610 factories employing 23,900 workers operating in Queensland. By 1900-1901 this number had declined to around 2100 factories employing approximately 26,000 workers. Factory numbers then stabilised between 1900-2000 with employment bottoming out at 19,300 in 1903 (in the wake of the worst year of the long drought), and then recovered to 25,400 by 1906. The number of factories declined to a low of 1420 in 1909 before increasing from 1910 onwards, although it was not until 1930 (2104 factories and 40,474 employees) that the number of factories recovered their 1901 level (2110). (33) It is important to note that the change in factory classification (from two or more to four or more hands) after 1907 negatively distorts the actual scale of the decline. This is so because all of the many smaller factories employing less than four employees were not counted in the official statistics from 1908, making the slump look much worse than it was.

The ‘factory’ figures certainly suggest stagnation in the manufacturing sector. While there were fewer factories in operation by 1930 than there were in 1901, and keeping mind there was a recession experienced in Queensland from 1927 (2118 factories), these factories actually employed over 40,000 workers compared to the 26,000 of 1901. Factory employment grew from 26,000 to a peak of 50,500 in 1924-25 and then settled back to between 46,000-48,000 until 1930. This represents an increase of fifty-six per cent between 1900-1930 and ninety-four percent between 1900 and 1925. (34) During this period the larger factories with fifty-one or more employees improved somewhat, the middle range ones of eleven to fifty stagnated, while the smaller factories grew steadily in number throughout. (35)

Furthermore a close examination the Factories and Shops Reports [F&SR] (36) provides an alternative range of statistics that suggest there were many more factories operating in Queensland than is revealed in the Statistics. The F&SR records 1261 registered factories in 1900, lower than the Statistics figure of 2078 because of problems with employers not submitting statistical returns, 2832 in 1915 (Statistics: 1742), and 4411 by 1930 (Statistics: 2104). The disparity between these series is due to the F&SR utilising different census collection dates and district boundaries to the Statistics (the former collected by the Department of Labour the later by the Registrar-General’s Department) and included all registered factories regardless of the number employed or motive power used.

Further evidence of consolidation can been found in the Statistics series which indicate that there were consistent increases in output and productivity. In 1901 manufacturing output (wholesale value of manufactured goods) was valued at ,8.9 million, by 1909 this had increased to ,12.7 million, tripled to ,39.8 million by 1920, and peaked at ,47.6 million in 1928. (37) The gross value of output actually increased by over 500 per cent during this period, despite the apparent stagnation in factory numbers. In this area Queensland’s performance was second only to New South Wales between federation and the Second World War. (38) Estimates of the value of production (crude estimate of value added by the manufacturing process) are not available until 1911, in that year the value of manufacturing production was recorded as £5.5 million, peaked at £18.8 million in 1924 (an increase of 242 per cent), fluctuated between £16-18 million until 1929, and declined to £14.9 by 1930 (an increase of 171 per cent between 1900 and 1930). Moreover, an examination of the relative output values of the various industry sectors in Queensland, from late in the nineteenth century onwards, shows that manufacturing consistently out-performed every sector, except the pastoral industry. Indeed, official estimates of the value of manufacturing output are at least three times greater in value than that attributed to the agricultural and mining sectors combined. (39) When one considers the combination of factory numbers, workers employed, and value of output and production, the broader statistical picture suggests that the manufacturing sector performed reasonably well under the often difficult circumstances it endured between 1890 and the late 1920s.

In terms of the industrial geography of manufacturing and centralisation of production, the ratio of factories to head of population in Brisbane was only slightly ahead of its share of the population between 1900-1930. Indeed, between sixty and seventy-five per cent of factories were located outside of the metropolitan area. (40) Of the three great divisions of Queensland, the South accounted for over fifty per cent of all factories and manufacturing employment, Central Queensland less than thirty per cent, and North Queensland less than twenty per cent. (41) Moreover, thanks to Queensland’s unique economic geography, the majority of the state’s workforce may not have made the metropolis their home, but they nevertheless lived and worked in urban or semi-urban environments. The high rate of non-rural employment reflects the reality that manufacturing, and particularly the tertiary sector, were key components of Queensland’s economy. The uniqueness of the growth in manufacturing production in Queensland was its simultaneous linkage to urban intensification, rural development, and primary production. These linkages encouraged the consolidation of the larger enterprises in the metropolis, and also enabled smaller and larger operations to exist in distant locales where they enjoyed a degree of immunity from southern competition.

Manufacturing and the Political Economy

Queensland’s manufacturers were not, however, immune to government apathy and neglect. Glen Lewis has argued that the allure of industrialisation and manufacturing did not generally impress Queenslanders. (42) This is especially true of the state’s political leaders. A bias towards rural development infused the political economy of Queensland for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. All Queensland governments, regardless of their political persuasion, adopted overtly ruralist policies, only differing in their emphasis towards pastoral or agricultural development, and their degree of opposition or support for socialist principles. (43) Indeed, for many on both sides of politics, industrialisation, urbanisation and manufacturing were almost anathema. Various excuses were offered as to why the government should not encourage the development of secondary industries. These included concerns that it would detract from the ‘essential’ task of rural settlement, that industrialisation and urbanisation would unleash new social evils, lead to the occupational cohabitation of males and females, encourage young people to covet an urban life instead of a rural existence, that the climate was too hot for factories, and it was generally an ‘unnatural’ industry to Queensland and ran counter to the yearning of the people for a life and employment in the bush. (44)

Prior to the First World War the conservative Philp and Denham governments flatly rejected any proposals to materially assist or encourage the development of secondary industries. The notionally labour oriented Morgan and Kidston coalition governments expressed some interest in manufacturing, however, they both preferred to champion closer settlement schemes. After the First World War, while the other states and the Commonwealth were pro-active in fostering secondary industries, the Labor government in Queensland adopted a strategy of patronage towards primary producers. (45) Labor successfully courted the farming vote thanks largely to government efforts towards the reorganisation of the agricultural sector by encouraging cooperative dairy production, commodity pooling, price fixing, and producer controlled marketing of primary produce. (46) This political economic strategy was avowedly anti-urban and an exercise in neo-socialist agrarianism. One Nationalist Party critic noted in the late 1930s that rural development had been accompanied by polices that simultaneously suppressed ‘the aggregation of large populations in cities and towns’. (47) Historically the full force of developmental policy in Queensland was directed primarily towards rural intensification in order to check the spread of urbanisation and the perceived social and moral evils that attended it. (48)

The political divide between urban and rural development was driven by a deep seated ideology that openly opposed urbanisation and industrialisation. In the popular mind and populist politics of Queensland, the city and its modern problems (overcrowding, social unrest, noise, pollution etc) was unfavourably compared to the perceived wholesome and morally superior rural lifestyle. Ideology is, of course, difficult to quantify, but it can be discerned from the public discourse on the political economy in the press and from the temper and language of parliamentary debate and political policy. The political appetite for rural development and the yeomanry ideal was perhaps, in part, the result of the personal experiences and social memory of the tens of thousands of migrants who had left the urban confines or semi-feudal agricultural backwaters of the United Kingdom and Europe for an new life in Queensland. This mass migration occurred in the wake of the great social and economic upheavals associated with the acceleration of the industrial revolution from the 1850s. A new vast and distant landscape offered the potential fulfilment of the yeomanry ideal in the manner expressed by the populist utopians such Edward Wakefield, Henry George, John Dunmore Lang, and Queensland radical William Lane. This popular antipodean imagery of a new world fit for the new agriculturalists, was championed over the evils and degradation of the urban, and found its most potent political expression in Queensland. (49) The voices advocating industrialisation were few, and until after the First World War they were largely drowned out by what Queensland historian Ross Johnston has succinctly described as the ‘call of the land’. (50)

The yeomanry ideal, the dream of closer rural settlement based upon small scale family farming, shared popularity across the political spectrum. (51) The working class saw it as a mode with which to counter the social, political and economic power of the squattocracy and the largely British controlled mercantile and pastoral companies that dominated the pastoral industry. (52) The middle class liberals welcomed closer settlement for similar reasons and also to counter the growth in radical socialist ideals among the working class. (53) The pastoral companies and individual pastoralists did not generally oppose it after the 1880s, as closer settlement potentially provided them with a more permanent and compliant workforce (as opposed to the transitory and militant one they usually had to contend with). Indeed, the break up of the larger pastoral runs for closer settlement enabled many pastoralists to convert the best land to freehold and rural intensification effectively increased the value of their freehold lands. (54) All sides thought it important to populate the interior and all suffered the common racist paranoia of a constant fear of invasion from the north with the credo ‘populate or perish’ being a particularly strident one in Queensland politics.

Nevertheless the rise of urban concentrations in Queensland, especially in the South-East, continued apace despite the vast sums thrown at developmental railways, assisted immigration and closer settlement schemes. Regardless of its overtly ruralist identity, Queensland was as intensely urbanised and decentralised as it was agrarian. Here the contradiction is compelling. Nowhere was the political drive for rural development so strong, and the reluctance of immigrants and urban dwellers to partake in closer settlement so contradictory. Successive Queensland governments worked against the demographic reality and continued to promote rural development, despite the fact they could not induce nearly enough people to take up a new life on land. This can be seen in the Census data that indicates that those engaged in non-rural occupations increased from sixty-eight to seventy-four per cent of the total workforce between 1881-1933.

While Queensland governments virtually ignored the manufacturing sector, there is evidence to suggest there was an embryonic shift towards state support for the development of secondary industries during the First World War. In 1917 Labor Premier T. J. Ryan proposed the establishment of a State Iron and Steel Works, a project that was intended to provide a panacea to the state’s endemic unemployment problems, to promote rural infrastructure development, and ultimately the greater industrialisation of Queensland. (55) During the war it became apparent to the Labor cabinet that the iron industry was of critical strategic importance, and that it also symbol of economic progress and societal maturity. In a sense the Labor cabinet were being influenced by the broader logic of modernity associated with twentieth century industrial capitalism, albeit tempered by their unique agrarian socialist ideology. In another sense this was a pragmatic response to the fiscal reality of the ever increasing cost of importing iron and steel products, particularly iron rails, for rural infrastructure projects.

After a Royal Commission in 1917, and several years of detailed investigations and much speculation, a site for the steelworks was eventually chosen at Port Denison near Bowen in 1920. Surviving documents indicate that it was estimated that the works would have cost 2.4 million to establish and Premier E. G. Theodore had attempted to raise the necessary finance for the project during his visit to the United Kingdom in 1920. (56) The Bowen site was, however, inferior to alternative sites at Urangan (Hervey Bay) and Bulimba (Brisbane) in the South, and its selection, against the advice of the appointed expert John W. Brophy, was a clear demonstration of the rural decentralist bias and political expediency of a Labor Cabinet dominated by North Queensland M.L.A.’s. Prominent Labor politicians such as Theodore, William McCormack, Charles Collins and others made no secret of their collective desire to promote northern development, particularly if this meant avoiding the greater centralisation of manufacturing production, urbanisation and industrialisation in Brisbane. (57) Moreover, there may have been a significant link between Theodore’s long held dream to establish a new Australian state in North Queensland, and his desire to establish a heavy industrial base in the North. (58) Whatever the case the Labor cabinet’s decision cannot be justified on economic or commercial grounds, as the Bowen works would have cost about ,500,000 more than locating the works in Brisbane. (59) The Labor cabinet were clearly prepared to pay a premium of at least twenty-five per cent for the pleasure, and perceived political gain, of locating the works in North Queensland. Nevertheless, both Ryan and Theodore were genuinely committed to the project, along with the other state manufacturing enterprises, and the project’s ultimate demise in 1923, after six years of planning, was almost entirely due to financial restrictions forced upon the government during the London loans embargo of 1920-1924. (60)

If the state steelworks was a victim of this funding crisis, so too were the embryonic plans of the Theodore government to assist the development of Queensland’s secondary industries. However, the level of Labor’s commitment to industrial development should not be overstated. The agrarian development ethos would have remained intact regardless of the success, or otherwise, of a steel industry in Queensland. (61) Indeed, during the 1920s the Labor government held fast to the electoral certainties of supporting the rural vote, and the manufacturing sector was again generally left to fend for itself. It is nonetheless historically significant that the overtly ruralist Labor government was moving towards state support for, and involvement in, the secondary industries sector from late in its first term in office.

Support for the encouragement of secondary industries was also apparent within the ranks of the conservative opposition during the 1920s. A conservative government under the Premiership of Arthur ‘Boy’ Moore (1929-1932) attempted to address Queensland’s lack of sophistication in manufacturing in the late 1920s. Moore clearly understood the importance of fostering secondary industries and secured the passage of the Industries Assistance Act 1929. The Act was intended to aid the establishment of new manufacturing enterprises through the provision of practical and financial assistance by the government. This laudable scheme was, however, unfortunately timed and its provisions proved to be impractical in application, and any future potential it might have had was cut short by the Great Depression. (62) The die was cast in the loans crisis of the early 1920s, the opportunity of heavy industrialisation was lost, and the primacy of rural development would retain its hegemony in the political economy until the 1960s.

In conclusion it is clear that Queensland’s self-image, and economic and demographic structure, has been shaped by several inter-related factors. These factors include its late development, its vast and demanding geography, the strong links between the source of most of Queensland’s investment capital and its export markets, and the particularly strong influence of the ruralist ideology that infused its political economy and social identity. The various factors, economic, political, social and ideological, that restricted urbanisation also tended to limit the expansion and centralisation of secondary industries. The centralisation of production was not as apparent in Queensland, its manufacturing sector was more decentralised, less sophisticated and generally of a smaller scale. Queensland’s urban workforce were more reliant upon the primary and tertiary sectors, and its factories on the processing of primary produce. The machinations of the political economy consistently favoured of rural development and this deprived the urban clusters of much needed public and private investment in infrastructure and services. Governments offered little by way of encouragement to secondary industries, and when they did, it was usually too little or too late. The financial services sector all but ignored the manufacturing sector and capital investment in manufacturing came primarily from earnings being reinvested in businesses, therefore placing unnecessary limitations upon growth in this sector. The benefits of industrialisation, and the urban lifestyle that accompanied it, were not seriously considered within the political economy until the economic and social implications of the First World War shook some from their agrarian slumber. The political economic power of the pastoral interests forestalled the progress towards outright industrialisation in the early 1920s, and the Labor government abandoned its uneasy industrial embrace for the more familiar rural landscape. Nonetheless, by the late 1990s the manufacturing sector was the single most significant contributor to Queensland’s Gross State Product (12.41 per cent or more than $7 billion per annum), employing in excess of 180,000 people. (63) In the final analysis it is clear that the manufacturing sector has proved to have been of critical importance to the successful economic development of Queensland and its rather laggardly and marginal reputation is not wholly justified.