Diary of a Labour Man 1917- 1945

1921 Editor of the Westralian Worker

Monday 31 January Cottesloe

JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. John Curtin aged 10 months, November 1921. JCPML00004/8
JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. John F Curtin aged 10 months, November 1921. JCPML00004/8

Birth of son, John Francis Curtin, at Nurse Jones’ Hospital which was located on the corner of Marmion Street and Napier Street.

Saturday evening
19 February


  Speaks at meeting.1

Sunday afternoon
20 February

  Addresses a special meeting of railway employees.2
c. Monday 16 May St Andrew’s Hall, Perth

Speaks on 'Labor and the Church' at public questions demonstration of the Presbyterian General Assembly.

'Mr Curtin said that both the Church and the Labor Movement were tremendous facts of life of the world. Each had a history that was almost a counterpart of the other, and in many respects both stood for the same ends. Labor spoke of unionism, of socialism, of co-operation and communism. These terms all indicated the one principle – that man should associate with man for the common good. The Church believed in brotherhood, and in this respect the term "brotherhood"’ could be accepted by both the Labor Movement and the Church as a condition towards which each was striving.'3

Sunday evening 22 May

Perth Trades Hall?

Opens winter series of lectures speaking on 'The Things Imperative'.

'A lengthy discussion followed, to which the speaker replied.'4

Sunday evening 5 June

Hibernian Hall, Murray Street, Perth
  Speaks on 'The Report of the Labor Commissions to Ireland'.5

Wednesday evening 8 June

By boat to Melbourne
  Leaves for holiday and to represent WA at 'the big Union Congress.'6
Monday 20 June to Monday 27 June Melbourne
JCPML Records of Lloyd Ross. Union Presidents and Secretaries assembling for the Labour Congress, Melbourne Punch, 1921. JCPML00633/9. Original held by National Library of Australia: MS 3939, Series 15, Box 67.
JCPML Records of Lloyd Ross. Union Presidents and Secretaries assembling for the Labour Congress, Melbourne Punch, 1921. JCPML00633/9.
Courtesy National Library of Australia: MS 3939, Series 15, Box 67.

Attends All Australian Congress of Trade Unions. Takes a 'prominent part in proceedings.'7

'One of the outstanding figures at the Trades Union Conference was Jack Curtin, formerly the boy orator of Melbourne Trades Hall … Curtin is eloquent, studious and desperately in earnest, and if he doesn’t kill himself with overwork (a feat he nearly accomplished at the last Federal election…) he will go far.'8

According to the 30 May 1921 meeting of the Board of Directors of the People's Printing and Publishing Company, Curtin's attendance at the Congress was paid for by the Westralian Worker Board and Timber Workers Union.

That the Worker board and Timber Workers Union combine with a view to sending Mr Curtin to the June conference, the expenses not to exceed £50, each body to pay half. 8a

Sunday evening 10 July

The Esplanade, Perth
  Speaks on the All Unions Congress, but 'heavy rain stops him in the middle of his exposition.'9

Sunday evening 17 July

Trades Hall, Midland Junction, Western Australia
  Speaks on 'The Decisions of the All Unions Congress'.10

Sunday evening 24 July

Fremantle Trades Hall
  Speaks on 'The Decisions of the All Unions Congress'.11
Friday 29 July Perth Trades Hall

Attends special meeting of the Shareholders of the People's Printing and Publishing Company, to consider "ways and means for financing a Daily in this State".

Mr Curtin said that the ALP Conference, held in Bunbury some years ago, started the proposition, since then all other Conferences have merely carried a series of resolutions in favour of supporting it. In regard to the June Conference, if I were asked what particular aspect of the Conference was the most important, I would say it was the resolutions in connection with the Chain of Labor Dailies. The proposition is now before us, we have all the rough and ready graft to get the money. The Conference was informed that there were 720,000 unionists in Australia. I think this is an over-estimation; however should it turn out that the monies raised by the 10/- is not sufficient we can come again for an additional levy.

We were told that we required £367,000 of new capital for the Chain of Dailies. It is true that we have Dailies operating in the Commonwealth today, but these papers are not, effectively staffed. In this connection there are a combination of circumstances that must be faced. We must have a complete staff, we must have our own cable service. Newspaper organisation represents one complete form of specialised development. To have a newspaper in every sense of the word is difficult. The power of an up-to-date paper is wonderful.

Lord Northcliffe is out to get a foothold in the newpaper world of Australia.

The Directors have in mind a scheme which tonight is incomplete, but they want authority to get the requisite money.

With regard to the amalgamation I realise that there will be some difficulty, but it is felt that we as a movement should have control. While we are endeavouring to raise money we are at the same time cultivating a desire for the shareholders to become subscribers. It is no use us having an up-to-date building, and up-to-date plant and a good paper if the people go on buying the opposition paper.

We have to get busy, we have a big job ahead of us. This thing represents something indispensable in the lives of our people. It is not like our weekly with its many columns of heavy stuff, it must be presented in a manner that will attract the attention of our people. I trust that the Directors will be given the authority they are now asking. 11a

Sunday evening 31 July

Boulder Town Hall , Western Australia

Gives an address on the 'Aims and Results of the All-Australian Trades Union Conference.'

'There was a splendid attendance, and Mr Curtin dealt with his subject in a lucid manner; and gave a very clear conception of the present and prospective trend of the Australian Labor Movement. The lecturer was in his best form, and held the interest of his audience for more than two hours.'12

August ?
  Lectures on results of recent trade union congress.13
September ?
  Part of deputation to the Premier to discuss unemployment.14

Wednesday 21 September
8 pm

  Speaks (with others) for the ALP Child Welfare Campaign at Citizens’ Rally on 'Our responsibility towards the Younger Generation'.15

Sunday 25 September
8 pm

St Andrew’s Hall, Pier Street, Perth
  Speaks as part of a series of 'propaganda activities' by the Metropolitan Council of the ALP, in response to an invitation from the Child Welfare League, to awaken public interest in child welfare.16

Wednesday night
28 September

Probably Cottesloe


Probably convalescing.

Although the Westralian Worker of 30 September and 7 October17 refer to Curtin catching the train to travel to Brisbane to act as a delegate at the Federal Congress, it appears that he did not go, and that his place was taken by R S Ross.18

'The constant pressure had caught up with him again. He had wanted to go to Brisbane by boat instead of by train, presumably as a way of restoring his energy.'19

'Nowadays Curtin is the best writer and about the best speaker the Westralian Labor Party has got. He could easily have had a nomination for a State constituency, but he nearly killed himself by conducting a strenuous campaign for Perth at the Federal elections and editing his paper, the "Westralian Worker" at the same time. Jack’s idea of editing the paper being to write nearly everything himself. So by doctor’s orders, he has eschewed politics for the present and reduced his literary output from 20 columns to 15 columns a week. In journalism it is always the willing horse that is overworked.'20

Thursday evening
24 November

Trades Hall, Midland Junction

Speaks on the Premier’s arbitration proposals.

'Boiled down, he told the meeting that schemes, which were good for facilitating attacks on wages were like an improved apparatus for safe-breaking, and could well be done without.'21

spacer spacer
Previous spacer
spacer spacer
Next spacer
spacer spacer
Home spacer