Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Dique, John Charles (1915–1995)

by Mark Cryle

This article was published online in 2019

John Charles Allan Dique (1915–1995), haematologist, pathologist, and political activist, was born on 5 August 1915 at Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar), son of Indian-born parents John Stephen Dique, an assistant surgeon in the Indian Subordinate Medical Department (a component of the Indian Army), and his wife Norah Avice Georgiana, née Heyne. Both parents were descended from European colonists. The family moved to India, where John junior was educated at the Philander Smith College (a boarding school at Nainital) and the Madras Medical College, University of Madras (MB, BS, 1941). In addition to being a bright scholar, he was a capable sportsman, winning an all-India inter-university freestyle swimming championship.

On 31 October 1941 at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Vepery, Madras (Chennai), Dique married Doreen Delta Faith Bartley, a journalist, poet, and visual artist. With World War II in progress, earlier the same month he had been appointed as an assistant surgeon in the Indian Medical Department (captain, Indian Medical Service, from 1943). He worked in hospitals and other medical units at Rawalpindi; on the Burmese border, treating casualties of the Japanese invasion; and at Poona (Pune).

Disturbed by the political unrest in India after independence from British rule in 1947, Dique migrated with his wife and children to Australia, where he had relatives. He unsuccessfully sought work at hospitals in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney, but secured an appointment in 1948 as transfusion and resuscitation officer at the Brisbane General (Royal Brisbane from 1966) Hospital. There, he developed improved sets for administering blood transfusions and a better apparatus for introducing fluids through the umbilical veins of infants suffering from erythroblastosis fetalis. His publications, some with his assistant, Dr Dorice Wrench, quickly gained him a reputation as an innovator in the field.

Dique further enhanced his standing when he and the hospital’s chief electrician, Harold Lloyd, built a rotating-drum artificial-kidney machine based on the Dutch researcher Willem Kolff’s design. On 10 February 1954 Dique used it to save the life of a young woman diagnosed with critical post-partum renal failure, the first time such a treatment had been performed in Australia. He later oversaw the construction of a second machine, modifying a design by the Swedish inventor Nils Alwall. Between 1954 and 1963 Dique, who meticulously documented his work and published the results, treated twenty patients with acute renal failure and achieved a 45 percent survival rate.

In 1956 Dique became a founding fellow of the (Royal) College of Pathologists of Australia (Australasia). Despite the medical advances he pioneered, he was unable to save the life of his three-year-old son, David, who died from chronic renal failure in 1957. After this tragedy, he left clinical medicine and established a private pathology practice.

Retiring in 1984 after a coronary thrombosis, Dique devoted his time to lobbying on social and political issues, a practice he had begun in the mid-1960s. From those years he expounded reactionary views in letters to newspapers, an activity, he claimed, that was prompted by the Australian government’s declaration of trade sanctions against Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1965. He extolled the merits of the White Australia policy and Australia’s hereditary ties with Britain, often citing theories, propounded by Arthur Jensen and others, that linked mental capacities with race. Following the election of Gough Whitlam’s Australian Labor Party government in December 1972, and the shift to promote multiculturalism as a basis for national identity, he became increasingly active as a political campaigner.

As president from 1975 of the Queensland Immigration Control Association, Dique published his militant racist beliefs in its monthly newsletter, News and Views (Queensland), and in a number of monographs, including Immigration: The Quiet Invasion (1985). He warned of the dangers of ‘invasion’ of Australia by migrants with non-European backgrounds; railed against increased taxation, charging that it resulted in a declining birth rate; and espoused liberty and free speech, claiming that anti-racist laws impinged on these values. The radical right-wing organisation the Australian League of Rights, of which he was a member, published several of his works. Joining the National Party, he asserted that the rank and file agreed with his opinions but were afraid ‘of being called racist’ (Crisp 1989, 48).

Dique was a devout Catholic. In his spare time he cultivated his garden at his Windsor home, played the violin, sang, practised recreational carpentry, and enjoyed the company of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren—what he called the ‘Dique dynasty’ (Dooley 1995, 201). Although personally frugal, he was generous to others. He died on 18 January 1995 at Chermside and was cremated. His wife survived him, as did their three daughters and three of their four sons. He left both a rich professional legacy and a reputation as an uncompromising racist.

Research edited by Darryl Bennet

Select Bibliography

  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane). ‘Medical Pioneer Dies.’ 24 January 1995, 7
  • Crisp, Lyndall. ‘Harvest of Hate.’ Bulletin (Sydney), 4 April 1989, 42–49
  • Dooley, Desmond J. ‘John Charles Allan Dique.’ Medical Journal of Australia 163 (21 August 1995): 201
  • George, Charles R. P. ‘John Dique: Dialysis Pioneer and Political Advocate.’ In ‘History of Nephrology 10,’ eds, Natale Gaspare De Santo1, Biagio Ricciardi, Boleslaw Rutkowski, Vincenzo Savica, and Athanasios A. Diamandopoulos, special issue, Giornale Italiano di Nefrologia (S66) (2016). https://giornaleitalianodinefrologia.it/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/pdf/GIN_A33VS66_00232_13.pdf. Copy held on ADB file
  • National Archives of Australia. A997, 1947/371

Additional Resources

Citation details

Mark Cryle, 'Dique, John Charles (1915–1995)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dique-john-charles-27689/text35252, published online 2019, accessed online 21 September 2019.

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