In the 1800s, Britain banished its political rebels to prisons at the edge of the known world. Trade unionism and democracy didn’t start with Eureka or the strikes of the 1890s, they landed on our shores shackled in chains!

Why do men who have bullets and silver,
fear those who want no more
than ballots and bread?’
Billy Bragg, 2015

Convicts worked the forests and built the settlements. They were the masons, miners and millers. They worked the land and the sea. Their story is the story of Australian Trade Unionism.

My name is William Cuffay, by trade I am a tailor,
I’ve been called a yellow jacket, a chartist and a traitor.
But there is no shame, no convict stain has left its mark on me.
For I am the rarest of all birds, an English revolutionary.’
Billy Bragg, 2015

Conviction Politics is a transmedia project based on Dr Tony Moore's landmark book Death or Liberty and the acclaimed Roar Film documentary of the same name.


Convict Politics
in 100 Objects

  1. Objects of Rebellion; the chartist manifesto, union banners, court documents, O'Brien's constitution etc
  2. Objects from the media; newspapers, posters, poetry, cartoons
  3. Objects of Oppression
  4. Personal Objects; letters, awards, journals


Convict Politics
in 100 Digital Stories

  1. Revolution and Rebellion
  2. The Political Convicts
  3. Convict Punishment
  4. Great Escapes
  5. New songs of Rebellion
  6. Stories of construction, forestry, mining and energy
  7. Death or Liberty excerpts
  8. Convict/union connection


Interactive Atlas
of Conviction Politics

  1. Who were the 'Politicals' and where were they from?
  2. Revolutions, Rebellions and Resistance?
  3. Where did the Rebels end up?
  4. Where did the Movements originate?
  5. Influence and impact?
  6. Collective resistance by ordinary convicts

Conviction Politics will use virtual reality, dramatic re-creation, interviews with social historians and icons of the worker’s movement. It will feature original music from Mick Thomas, Billy Bragg, Tex Perkins and Lisa O’Neill and an interactive atlas of struggle, collective action and radical politics across the Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Did the jailers break our spirits, as their masters did intend,
No we flew the flag of freedom and we fought them to the end.
And our deeds will live for ever in a land both bright and free,
Gone but not forgotten, we sowed the seeds of liberty.’
Mick Thomas, 2015

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