Evelyn Douglas (Doug) Darby MP (24 September 1910 – 22 August 1985) was an Australian politician, elected as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. His efforts in denouncing socialism, attacking the labour movement, breaking strikes, organising anti-Soviet Eastern European émigrés, supporting Australia's military commitment to the Vietnam War, and championing non-communist Taiwan, established Darby's reputation as a powerful right-wing ideologue.
Darby was born in Lowestoft, England, and remained proud to be British throughout his life. He trained at Portsmouth Teachers College before taking a job as steward and galley hand on a P&O liner bound for Australia. When Europe went to war in 1939, Darby attempted to enlist in the Second Australian Imperial Force but was rejected because of myopia. Instead, having studied at the University of Sydney, he was seconded from primary teaching to the Youth Section of the Federal Department of Labour and Industry, to work as a vocational officer.
Darby went on to found the British Orphans' Adoption Society (BOAS) which "sought to bring British war orphans to Australia for legal adoption." From June 1940 to January 1941, the Society sent 2,000 pounds in weight of warm clothing to England. Dame Enid Lyons, the widow of former Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, Professor F.A. Bland, Darby's economics professor, and Sir Arthur Rickard, owner of Sydney's largest real estate company, became BOAS patrons. Darby married fellow teacher Esme Jean McKenzie in 1941 and moved to the Sydney beachside suburb of Manly in 1951, before purchasing a house in nearby Balgowlah in 1953 where he spent the rest of his life. Douglas and Esme had two sons and four daughters.
In 1945 BOAS became a member of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association (UNRRA), and a chance meeting with Richard Thompson, a United Australia Party Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council (MLC), led to Thompson supporting Darby's nomination as the Liberal Party candidate for Manly in that year's New South Wales State election.
Representing Prime Minister Menzies' "forgotten people" in post-war Manly, Darby proved a strong advocate for his middle-class seaside constituency, and his advocacy of individual liberty became a hallmark of his career. His opposition to communism led him to become the founding president of the Captive Nations Council of New South Wales in 1959.
A year after winning Manly for the Liberal Party, Darby attempted to break a 24-hour tram and bus strike in his electorate, seeing the Tramways Union as part of Labor's "servile state". Although denounced by strikers as a "strike breaker", most commentators supported Darby's efforts. A further bus and tram strike in January 1947 brought Darby's Manly Emergency Services Committee into operation and there were physical conflicts with communists from Sydney. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, seven public transport strikes occurred in Sydney, but each strike was weakened by the many individuals who responded to Darby's appeal for motorists to offer lifts to stranded commuters.
Breaking strikes won Darby approval in his electorate and among his parliamentary colleagues, acts that he increasingly saw as fighting the enemy of communism within. Darby's preoccupation with the communist menace, and success of his "interventions", encouraged him to mount 'Operation Potato' in March 1947, after 6,000 Sydney waterside workers "refused to convert to a 53-hour week again", and he used volunteers to unload food ships under police protection. That helped Darby to return with an increased majority in that year's state election. As the Cold War conflict intensified, Darby began to make his mark as an anti-communist, believing that the "Free World" was threatened "by Soviet Communist tyranny and its agents worldwide". Darby also campaigned against juvenile hooliganism, poker machines, and the fluoridation of Sydney's water supply. He campaigned for the introduction of daylight saving, and the development of Bathurst as the new capital of New South Wales.
Darby contested the 1965 State election as an independent Liberal, supported by the Worshipful brothers of the Empress of India Masonic Lodge, including local notables, Harry South and Norman Ely. Independence allowed Darby to devote his political energies to even more extreme right-wing politics. From 1960, support for Taiwan became another of Darby's causes, along with the Australian role in the Vietnam War. By 1970, as the New South Wales President of the Captive Nations Council, Darby was authorised by the Polish-Hungarian World Federation (Australian Branch) to be their Honorary Representative at the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) Conference in Tokyo, and by 1973 he helped found the Australia-Free China Society, subsidised by both the Taiwanese Travel Service and the Taiwanese government. The Society established an office in 1974 to provide services for Australians visiting Taiwan. Darby was the editor and principal contributor to the Society's fortnightly newsletter, Australia-Free China News. The promotion of "Free China", along with his parliamentary duties, took up much of Darby's time during the Whitlam years. He retired from State parliament in 1978, after 33 years as a parliamentarian.
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- D. Davies, The Ustasha in Australia, Communist Part of Australia, Sydney, 1972, p. 10. J. Playford, The Truth Behind Captive Nations Week and the Extremist Émigrés: A.B.N. (Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations) in Australia, Outlook Publication, Sydney, reprinted 2000.
- Katharine West, Power in the Liberal Party, F.W. Cheshire, Melbourne, 1965 Connell and Gould, Politics of the Extreme Right, p. 37. Darby believed that his quest for moral leadership in parliament led to his political isolation. See John Power, 'The Candidates', in John Power (ed.), Politics in a Suburban Community: the N.S.W. State Election in Manly, 1965, Sydney University Press, Sydney, 1968
- K.I. Turner, 'A Profile of Manly' in Power (ed.) Politics in a Suburban Community
- Alan Stewart, A Hard Row to Hoe: People and Politics in New South Wales, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney
- Darby, A Try for Manly
- Alexander Downer, Six Prime Ministers, Hill of Content, Melbourne
- Denis Freney, Nazis Out of Uniform: the Dangers of Neo-Nazi Terrorism in Australia, Denis Freney, Sydney South, 2000
- Connell and Gould, Politics of the Extreme Right
- A. Moore, The Right Road? A History of Right-Wing Politics in Australia, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1995, pp. 89–92.
|Parliament of New South Wales|
|Member for Manly
1945 – 1978