Candid Comment
1950’s Iran Excerpts in Sunday Herald Column

The Mossadegh Project | January 28, 2021                           


The following excerpts on Iran derive from Candid Comment, a column which ran in The Sunday Herald (Sunday edition of The Sydney Morning Herald) in Australia. The column was credited to one “Onlooker”.

Australian media archive



Candid Comment by Onlooker

April 6, 1952

Stiff Upper Lip

THE Anglo-Iranian Oil Company has been circularising industrialists in this and other countries with a letter which contains a masterpiece of British understatement.

It says: “As a result of recent events in Persia, a considerable number of our staff are now surplus to our requirements.”

The company is trying to find new jobs in other firms for these surplus employees, who follow a very large range of occupations. They include boatswains, football coaches, chefs, statisticians, and 22 types of engineers.

July 28, 1952

CONTINUING political instability in Persia is reflected in the re-election to the Premiership of the unstable Mossadeq, who is a sort of political Johnny Ray, with weeping and fainting the star turns in his tactical repertoire. Recent events stopped just short of a revolution, the probability of which is never far away while the various power groups wrestle for ascendancy, with little thought for the condition of Persia’s submerged and impoverished masses. It is an ideal political fallow for the Communists. They are not only exploiting the discontent of the poverty-stricken masses but capitalising on the Anglophobia so industriously propagated by Mossadeq over the Abadan affair. The future of the country looks grim as seen through the mists of rival fanaticisms.

[30 Tir reference. Mossadegh had resigned and was reinstated after popular revolt.]

August 31, 1952

Fun Abroad

THE Department of Commerce has found time to compile a 12-page list of public holidays in overseas countries. It is distributing the list “for the information of Australian businessmen planning overseas visits.” Among other things, it mentions that in Egypt February 11 is “Birthday of H.M. King Farouk (Now Cancelled),” and that in Persia September 30 is a holiday to celebrate “Murder of H.H. Imam Hussein.” Persians also knock off work on March 19 to commemorate “Nationalisation of the Petroleum Industry.”

The Department’s reason for providing this information is not altogether clear. I presume it is to enable businessmen to time their overseas visits to include as many public holidays as possible. This will give them more leisure in which to have fun and book it up to expenses.

December 20, 1953

OIL looks like getting mixed up with politics even before we are sure it exists here in quantity. There were several references to the Exmouth Gulf strike during the Gwydir by-election campaign.

Treasurer Fadden suggested-rather imprudently, I thought-that Labour socialisationists might “do a Mussadiq” on the Australian oil industry some day. And Senator Nick McKenna retorted by abusing the Government for selling out of C.O.R.; hinted that Anglo-Iranian, Vacuum, and other companies had a “very good idea” oil would be found when they prepared for big refining works.

[Intro to a longer piece on Australian oil]

Oil Discovered In Western Australia’s Exmouth Gulf (1953)
Oil Discovered In Western Australia's Exmouth Gulf 'Rough Range' (1953)

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Related links:

Rubaiyat Revised | Candid Comment | Sunday Herald (May 25, 1951)

The Odd Spot | Australian Column by Doug Eason on Iran (1950’s)

As I See It by Vee Cee | The Sunday Times column, 1951-1953



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