Distinguished Australian academic and former federal politician Dr David Kemp has undertaken the mighty task of documenting Australian liberalism and its contribution in making Australia one of the freest and most prosperous countries on the globe. A five volume undertaking, the first book was published last year.
Volume 1 The Land of Dreams: How Australians Won Their Freedom, 1788–1860 tells the story of how Australians became a free people, gaining the liberties they desired to take control of their lives, the right to govern themselves and the capacity to address their own political problems through democratic institutions.
Volume 2, A Free Country: Australians’ Search for Utopia 1861-1901 is the subject of this book session and tells how Australians, inspired by their new democracy, attempted to use their freedom to build a society without social and economic conflict. As the second book in a landmark five-volume Australian Liberalism series, A Free Country shows the successes and missteps in the attempt to establish the legal and moral foundations for a liberal society in Australia, examining the ideological battles of the period. The national politics of twentieth-century Australia had their roots during this time, as utopian dreams of ‘social reconstruction’ opposed liberal ideals of individual freedom, fostering the concept of ‘class wars’ and leading to the ongoing involvement of trade unions in politics. As emerging collective ideas of nationalism, empire, race and class challenged individual rights and threatened to seed domestic and international conflict, liberals succeeded in bringing the six colonies into one Australian nation founded on liberal principles, writing a constitution hailed as the most democratic in the world.