Land, law and literature: Dad and Dave and Australian national identity
journal contributionposted on 01.12.2020, 06:05 by Francine Rochford
On Our Selection is a series of stories by Steele Rudd, the pen name of Arthur Hoey Davis. The stories portray elements of small ‘selector’ farming in federation-era Australia and represent a significant body of literature originating in or ‘about’ the ‘bush’, the ‘outback’, the ‘never-never’ – unspecific appellations attached to regions of non-urban Australia. The stories detail the Rudd family’s experiences after taking up a ‘selection’ in the Australian bush – the arduous processes of early clearing through to their relative prosperity. ‘Dad Rudd’ has been described as ‘Australia’s Everyman’, and his pugnacious attitude of opposition to the ‘squattocracy’ and the cities resonated with audiences. The sketches, periodicals, radio plays, theatre productions and, eventually, films that continued the Rudd legacy made these stories a significant voice in the creation of Australian national identity – or at least the ‘bush’ identity. However, an attempt to update the representation to the 1970s in a television series was unsuccessful. This article considers the interaction between the legislative creation of ‘selection’ of land and the depictions of life on a selection in the creation of the Australian national identity. It then considers the media and social changes that contextualise the failure of the television series.
- La Trobe Law School