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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Cultural Studies »

Moss Cass on how he joined the ALP and stood against then Prime Minister about White Australia

Moss Cass and Mara Moustafine.

Former politician Moss Cass describes how he joined the ALP and stood against then Prime Minister R.G.Menzies in Kooyong in 1961, on the issue of White Australia.



Date Added:

31 March 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

10.6 MB




I then came to Melbourne in 1955 or ’56 it would have been, I’d been invited to come to Melbourne by an old friend from my medical school days who was a psychiatrist and I met a girl who became my wife, Shirley. So I moved to Melbourne, got a job at – I got a job at the university working with Panzy Wright in physiology school at the same time working at the children’s hospital where I was doing research on hypothermia which allowed surgeons to operate on the heart, but at the same time, met up with an old friend from Sydney who’d moved to Melbourne, I don’t know why, who was in the Labor Party and he invited me to join the Labor Party which I did in 1955 just after the split.

And then because Shirley wanted to travel and I didn’t give a damn much about anything then, other than being married and doing research work so we went to England, I got a job at the Guy’s Hospital in London and came back to Australia in 1959 and rejoined the Labor Party in 1960 – again the same bloke who invited me to come back, who was down in Elsternwick area I joined it. And then we moved to Kew and I joined the Labor Party there, the same branch as Senator Sam Cohen was a member.

Approaching the ’61 election, or just before that, in ’60 it must have been, Don Chipp resigned from his position on the Kew council because he’d been offered a seat and he stood for a seat south of the Yarra, got elected, I forget the name, I think it was Higginbotham but I’m not sure. Anyway, so the local branch of the ALP decided we had to run a candidate for the local election and there’s an old bloke, whose name I forget, who’d stood for year after year after year to you know, show the flag for the Labor Party and of course they always came at the bottom of the pile, he finally got fed up and he said, “Well I think it’s time some of the young blokes took this on.” So the secretary of the party said, “Well I think I agree, it ought to be a younger bloke do it. And I think it ought to be Moss because he got a handle to his name, he’s a doctor and they’re two-bob capitalists in Kew. A few more might vote for us.”

I said, “Well I don’t want to be a bloody councillor.” He said, “But that’s not the issue, you’re not going to at all, it’s the bottom of the barrel but we might get a few more votes.” So, why not?” So I said, “Okay but on the condition I don’t want to do anything about it.” You know, not enthusiastic at all. Anyhow when the campaign started I had to issue all the usual rubbish that’s – you know, “Vote 1, Cass” and all that crap and I – I was too vain to agree to that. So I decided I’d write something about kindergartens and newsletters for the advertising, you know instead of a half page just, Vote 1 Cass.

And the committee didn’t object so I took it along to the paper and the editor looks at it and he said, “Oh.” Pointed out I had a spelling mistake in it, he said, “Oh this is good, I’ll run it as an article. You can have your advertising if you like, but I’m going to run this as an article.” So I did a few articles like that. All the branch members decided they’d door knock and we finished up door knocking every house in the electorate which was also not usual. I didn’t win. I headed the poll until the distribution of the last preferences, and you know, some RSL bloke got it. But that was a shock too, so then I was asked to stand for the election in Kooyong. So I then was nominated to stand for the Kooyong electorate in the 1961 election campaign against Menzies. 04:04

Transcript ends