Guiseppe Mifsud, 1926

Author: Dr. Barry York, Europe-Australia Institute,

It is possible to identify some of the excluded Maltese. The individual excluded by the dictation test in 1926, for instance, was almost certainly Guiseppe Mifsud, whose case was reported in the daily press. Mifsud and his English wife and young daughter were detained on board the Moreton Bay at each Australian port until their final destination, Sydney, when they were deported on the Esperance Bay. According to press reports, Mifsud had "failed the migrants' test"; a test which had been applied because of his alleged Communist sympathies. Press reports indicated that, two days out from Fremantle, Mifsud had refused to stand for the playing of the National Anthem at the conclusion of a concert on board the ship. Reports are not entirely clear, but it seems that a group of young men started to sing the 'Red Flag'. Officers on the Moreton Bay had reported that Mifsud was spreading Bolshevik propaganda among the younger migrants.

Mifsud was angered by the prohibition and denied that he had attempted to spread Communist doctrines. A veteran of the first world war who had served in the British Army Services Corps as a baker and, on being demobilised in 1919, in the Royal Navy as a cook, Mifsud possessed a certificate of discharge which described his conduct in the service as very good. Completing his service in the Navy in January 1926, he unsuccessfully sought employment in England until he signed on with the ship Relion as a cook. The Relion was headed for America, where Mifsud hoped better employment prospects might lay. However, the Relion sank 500 miles from Ireland and Mifsud and his shipmates spent three days and nights in open boats before making it to the safety of the Irish coast. Mifsud then decided to try his luck in Australia.

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