1924: Wowsers work to “regain dreadful power”

In 1924, Brisbane Truth warned of the danger in taking our liberties for granted and ignoring the efforts of wowsers.

Wowsers who saw anyone different to themselves as terrible sinners warned the paper. Those same wannabe Inquisitors once exercised dreadful power, and they wanted that power back.

“By diabolically, devious dodges they are capturing seats on municipal councils, and gradually strengthening their grip on Parliament.”

Everything old is new again.

The Brisbane Truth published those words in 1924!

But QNews reported this week on a neo nazi candidate attempting to win election in Busselton, WA while hiding his extremist views and agenda.


The Aussie slang term wowser refers to people who attempt to deprive others of pleasures they regard as sinful.

CJ Dennis defined a wowser as “an ineffably pious person who mistakes this world for a penitentiary and himself for a warder.”

Almost a century later, as 2024 zooms in on us, there are wowsers aplenty at work in Australia.

The Brisbane Truth article reminded readers of the injustices visited by wowsers on their fellow citizens in centuries past.

It also listed the many activities wowsers sought to criminalise in 1924.

“Today, we laugh at the wowser who denounces the sinfulness of sport, surf bathing, and swimming, Sunday picnics, the movies and the theatre, light literature, and Sunday papers…

“We enjoy the widest freedom, a broad franchise, and popular parliaments. All these boons, we hold lightly because we have enjoyed them so long. Because we forget the terrific battle that was waged by men dead and gone to win them for us. We view the wowser with amused contempt and reckon not that in every city in Australia today, there are men with twenty-century bodies and seventeenth-century minds…”

The best prophet of the Future is the Past

“By diabolically, devious dodges they are capturing seats on municipal councils, and gradually strengthening their grip on Parliament. Once they get the upper hand they will establish their damnable Inquisition into the moral, and religious opinions of the citizens. If our citizens will remember always that the best prophet of the Future is the Past, and are guided by the lessons of history, they will never permit the men with twentieth-century bodies and seventeenth-century minds to dominate the social and religious life of Australia.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of Liberty.”

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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1 Comment

  1. Michael Reid
    16 September 2023

    Curious isn’t it?! How those black & white head shots, used to illustrate who these uber unfriendlies, this article, is talking about, are. Act like olden day mug shots posted in every Police station & Post Office for any sightings or known whereabouts, but not to approach as they are “Extremely Dangerous!” Sigh! How deep does the hook need to be to extract these interminable thorns in our sides?!

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