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Several of the dominant discourses of the times in which Enid Blyton lived and wrote are reflected in her writing; and this resulted in much negative criticism of her work. However, her writing also offers evidence of alternative and emergent discourses, as defined by Raymond Williams. In this article, Blyton's often contradictory representation of gender roles is considered, with particular reference to the portrayal of the characters Anne and George in the Famous Five series.


It would be strange indeed were I not tonight deeply conscious of the fact, if not a little awed by the knowledge, that my shoulders rests a great weight of responsibility; because this is the first occasion upon which a woman has addressed this house. For that reason it is an occasion which, for every woman in the Commonwealth, marks in some degree a turning point in history.

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I am well aware that, as I acquit myself in the work that I have undertaken for the next three years, so shall I either prejudice or enhance the prospects of those women who may wish to follow me in public service in the years to come. I know that many honorable members have viewed the advent of women to the legislative halls with something approaching alarm; they have feared, I have no doubt, the somewhat too vigorous use of a new broom.

I wish to reassure them. I hold very sound views on brooms, and sweeping. Although I quite realize that a new broom is a very useful adjunct to the work of the housewife, I also know that it undoubtedly is very unpopular in the broom cupboard; and this particular new broom knows that she has a very great deal to learn from the occupants of I dare not say this particular cupboard. At all events she hopes to conduct herself with sufficient modesty and sufficient sense of her lack of knowledge at least to earn the desire of honorable members to give her whatever help they may be able to give.

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I believe, very sincerely, that any woman entering the public arena must be prepared to work as men work; she must justify herself not as a woman but as a citizen; she must attack the same problems, and be prepared to shoulder the same burdens. But because I am a woman, and cannot divest myself of those qualities that are inherent in my sex, and because every one of us speaks broadly in the terms of one's own experience, honorable members will have to become accustomed to the application of the homely metaphors of the kitchen rather than those of the operating theatre, the workshop, or the farm.

They must also become accustomed to the application to all kinds of measures of the touchstone of their effect upon the home and the family life. I hope that no-one will imagine that that implies in any way a limitation of my political interest. Rather, it implies an ever widening outlook on every problem that faces the world to-day. Every subject from high finance to international relations, from social security to the winning of the war, touches very closely the home and the family.

Australian dictionary of biography

The late King George V, as he neared the end of a great reign and a good life, made a statement upon which any one may base the whole of one s political philosophy, when he said, "The foundation of a nation's greatness is in the homes of its people". Therefore, honorable members will not, I know, be surprised when I say that I am likely to be even more concerned with national character than with national effort. Somewhere about the year there began a period in Australian history which for me has always held a peculiar fascination.

I should like to have been born at about that time. I should like to have been alive in the days when bushrangers flourished, when life was hard and even raw, when gold was discovered, when the colonies became States, and when all of the great social and political movements were born which so coloured the fabric of Australian life; because, during all those years very much of what we now know as the Australian character was formed.

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It was during those years that we learned those things which still characterize the great bulk of our people hatred of oppression, love of "a fair go", a passion for justice. It was in those years that we developed those qualities of initiative and daring that have marked our men in every war in which they have fought qualities which, I hope, will never be allowed to die.

We are now on the threshold of such another era, when further formative measures will have to be taken; because we are today an organized community which no longer ' exists purely upon the initiative of its individual members, and if we would ' serve Australia well we must preserve those characteristics that were formed ' during that early period of our history. I have been delighted, since I came here, to find the almost unanimity that exists in respect of the need for social service and in respect of many of the other problems that have been discussed in this chamber.

Australian dictionary of biography

In the matter of social security one thing stands out clearly in my mind. Such things are necessary in order that the weak shall not go to the wall, that the strong may be supported, that all may have justice. But we must never so blanket ourselves that those fine national qualities of which I have spoken shall no longer have play.

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I know so well that fear want and idleness can kill the spirit of any people. But I know, too, that security can be bought at too great a cost the cost of spiritual freedom. How, then, may we strike a balance? That, it seems to me, is the big question for us to decide today There is one answer.

We know perfectly well that any system of social security devised today must be financed largely from general taxation. Yet I would insist that every person in the community in receipt of any income whatsoever must make some contribution to the fund for social security.

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I want it to be an act of conscious citizenship. I want every child to be taught that when he begins to earn, then, for the first time, he will have the first privilege and right of citizenship to begin to contribute to the great scheme that has been deed to serve him when he is no longer able to work and to help all of those who at any period of their lives may meet with distress or trouble.

In such a scheme, I believe, there should be pensions for all; there should be no means test; those who have should contribute according to their means. But every one, however little he or she earns, should contribute something, be it only a three-penny stamp, as a sort of token payment for the advantage of Australian citizenship. In passing, let me say this: There is one reform, at least, that could be applied to our present pensions system, which would have the greatest effect in making a little brighter the lives of those upon whom the years are already closing in.

I consider that every pensioner should have his or her pension posted to him or her in the form of a cheque. At the present time any pensioner who so wishes has the right to have the pension sent in that way, but few pensioners are aware of it.

If that were done, I believe that not only would congestion in post offices be relieved, but also that a small contribution would be made to easing the burden of those who have come to old age or illness. I am delighted that the honorable member for Denison Dr. Gaha should have secured the honour of having introduced to this chamber, in this debate, the subject of population.

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Other members also have seized upon that subject, apparently with a very great deal of pleasure, and have dealt with it at some length; but to the honorable member for Denison go the honours. I, like him, have pondered on this subject not with my feet upon the mantle-piece, but knee-deep in shawls and feeding bottles. I have pondered it, surrounded by those who, by their very s, have done quite a good deal to boost the population of Australia. I believe that I have at least tried out some of the theories which would make for a better population, and that I know some of the difficulties that present themselves to any person who, in these days, desires to rear a family.

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One honorable member has spoken of the need for a greater population for reasons of defence. That, of course, is something that has to be considered. But there has also to be considered the fact that, unless we fill this country we shall have no justification in the years that are ahead for holding it at all. Another honorable member spoke of the need for decentralization.

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On the north-west coast of Tasmania, which is a part of the district that I represent, there is, I believe, the best example of decentralization that is to be found anywhere in Australia; but I do not want the House to believe that that is why eleven members of the Lyons family were born at Devonport. I consider that something more than decentralization is necessary if the population of Australia is to be increased. It would be well to go back a little while and look for the reasons for the decline of population during the last 50 or 60 years.

Two main reasons are ascribed, the first the growth of industrialism and the changed conditions resulting therefrom. Population became urban instead of rural, and the conditions in which children were brought up became less and less suitable. People were crowded. Housing was inadequate, and the large families went to the wall.

The incidence of disease increased, and industrial disease came with the development of new occupations.

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The workers were unmercifully exploited. State paternalism became necessary, and even in State paternalism certain reasons for the decline of family life can be found.

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At the other end of the social scale other reasons can be found for the declining birth-rate. New inventions, and the provision of luxuries, provided new ways of spending incomes and leisure.

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There was less domestic help to be had. Finally, people began to think that the woman who became the mother of a family was something of a lunatic. About 30 years later she began to be regarded as something of a criminal lunatic. In the end the belief developed that it was a social virtue to produce fewer and fewer children.

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Where such a state of affairs exists, it is a matter of courage, even of hardihood, to have a family of more than two or three. Still another reason for the declining birthrate is sometimes advanced, a reason belonging to the moral rather than to the economic sphere. It is to be found in that strange reluctance to reproduce themselves that has overtaken the peoples of the past in the final years of their decline.

That is a picture which none of us cares to contemplate. I agree with the honorable member for Denison that we cannot hope, merely by economic measures, to increase the birthrate Certain things are necessary to be done in order to ease the burden on families, but they must be looked upon only as measures of justice to those who are prepared to face their responsibilities. We need maternity and nursing services; we need some kind of domestic help service; we need better houses.

But those things cannot in themselves revive the falling birthrate We must look to the basic wage, which at present provides for the needs of three children for every man who receives it; yet how many thousands of men in this country have no children at all?

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How many have fewer than three yet the three notional children of the man who has not any militate against the success in life of the children in other families of six and seven and eight. The basic wage is meagre enough in all conscience too meagre but it should be estimated upon the needs of a man and his wife, or of a man who must provide later for a wife, and the children should be provided for by an extension of the child endowment system. Let the man's wages be a direct charge upon industry, but the children should be a charge on the whole community.

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If we hope to increase the birthrate we must look to a resurgence of the national spirit, a resurgence of national vitality. We must look to a new concept of the dignity and worth of the family in the social order.

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I agree with Paul Bureau that the family is the matrix of humanity, the secret laboratory in which every unit of human society is prepared, organized and maintained, and if that laboratory is disorganized or chaotic, the most serious disorders in social life must be expected. Let us pause for a moment and think of the time when the war shall end. Many speakers in the course of this debate have said that they believe that the war will end during the life of this Parliament, and all too many people hope and believe that by the attainment of victory we shall step straight into the golden age.

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Nothing could be more foolish, because the golden age will arrive only when you and I and everyone else have made some contribution towards it. We shall have to plan for it, and work for it and sacrifice ourselves for it.

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We speak of the men coming back, who must be kept on Army rates of pay until suitable work can be found for them. It sounds easy, but is very, very hard. First of all, what is suitable work for each of these men?

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