Diary of a Labour Man 1917-1945


1928 Editor of the "Westralian Worker"


Monday 30 January Perth
  Hears evidence in Royal Commission on Child Endowment.1
Friday 3 February evening Perth

Attends as guest of honour and speaks at the Meanwhile Club

'Mr John Curtin was the guest of honour and treated the club to an enjoyable talk on matters of mutual interest. Miss May Holman, MLA (President) was in the chair, and Mr Curtin expressed himself as being delighted with this new and shining wing of the Labor Movement.' 2

Saturday 11 February Fremantle

Royal Commission on Child Endowment or Family Allowances. Report. Canberra, Australia, 1929. JCPML00453/419
JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Royal Commission on Child Endowment or Family Allowances. Report. Canberra, Australia, 1929. JCPML00453/419

Leaves by boat for the Eastern States where Royal Commission on Child Endowment will resume its investigations.

'If there is one thing a Commission does it is to use up enormous quantities of paper through which the Commissioners have to wade to discover the facts worth noting. It is well, perhaps, that Mr Curtin has the patience and industry necessary to wade through great quantities of “dry stuff” and discover the things that matter. At the present rate of progression it looks as if the Commission is good for a long while yet.' 3


c. Monday 27 February – Wednesday 29 February Adelaide, South Australia

Hears evidence as a representative of the Child Endowment Commission.

'Mr Curtin is the only representative of Labor in the Commission, and the workers of Australia may rest assured that Mr Curtin will be ever alert to see that the true facts affecting childhood endowment will be presented ungarbled before them.

To hear him speak at public meetings is an inspiration; to meet him for an hour in private is the equivalent of an education.'4

Thursday 1 March

Adelaide, South Australia
  Leaves Adelaide for Melbourne.5

Monday 9 April


Returns to Perth.

'Mr J Curtin, editor of the" Worker", returned to Perth on Easter Monday morning by the Eastern express for a brief spell owing to the Child Endowment Commission having adjourned for a couple of weeks over the holiday period. From present appearances it is unlikely that the Commission will conclude its labors before the end of next June. Whatever may be the result of the Commission there will have been a mass of valuable evidence gathered and the workers' viewpoint will be efficiently put by their lone representative (Mr Curtin) on the Commission.' 6

c. Saturday 28 April –
c. Sunday 9 September
Probably in Eastern States

Hears evidence as a representative of the Child Endowment Commission.

Arranges a Labor Papers conference in Sydney. Curtin was asked to organise the conference by the Board of Directors of the People's Printing and Publishing Company at their meeting of the 18 June 1928.

A discussion lasting considerably over an hour on the question of holding a Labor papers conference in Sydney took place, and subsequently:
Mr Willcock/Mr Millington - that Mr Curtin will in the Eastern States be asked to endeavour to arrange a conference with representatives of the Brisbane and Sydney Workers together with himself representing the Westralian Worker with a view to discussing:
1. Retention of the propaganda paper
2. How to hold our circulation
3. The advisability of presenting news that would appeal to those who were not keen students of politics. 6a

Monday 18 June Perth Trades Hall
  The Board of Directors of the People's Printing and Publishing Company approve an increase in Curtin's salary as Editor of the Westralian Worker from £12 to £14 per week. 6b
Wednesday 12 September Perth

Returns to Western Australia

'The editor of the" Worker", Mr John Curtin, returned home on Wednesday morning by the trans-train having completed his portion of the work attached to the preparation of the report to be submitted in connection with the Royal Commission on Child Endowment. It is improbable that the full report will be submitted to the Government until after the present Parliament dissolves for the Federal elections. The Commission has been a long job, lasting for over ten months, and it has been a trying one as well. Mr Curtin has come back to what will include his campaign for the Fremantle seat upon which he intends to enter without delay. Irrespective of what the report may be Labor will have every feeling of confidence that its side of the question will be faithfully presented by its representative on the Commission.' 7

Curtin saw child endowment as 'emphatically a Federal matter. The Federal Government, which is the voice of the whole nation, demands the people’s sons as soldier, while at the same time it welcomes the daughters as potential mothers of more soldiers, therefore the same executive which strips the subject of his children in time of national feud, should shoulder the responsibility of assisting over-burdened mothers in the proper rearing of their children in times of peace.' 8

Curtin found his work on the Royal Commission on Child Endowment frustrating. 'He was angered by his inability to impress his views on the conservative members of the Commission and, with Mildred Muscio in produced a forceful minority report.' 9

Monday 17 September Fremantle

Mrs Curtin, with other members of the Fremantle Labor Women, attends the funeral of Mr H Beadle, husband of 'Comrade Mrs Jean Beadle JP'.10

Tuesday 18 September Claremont Parish Hall, Claremont

Mrs Curtin attends a children’s ball, which John Curtin was unable to attend to due 'pressure of Labor business in Fremantle.'

'A charming children's ball was held by the Claremont branch of the ALP at the Parish Hall, on Tuesday, September 18, when there was a large assemblage of gaily dressed little folk. … Mesdames J Curtin and J Burgess acted as judges and gave general satisfaction.

The hall was prettily decorated, dome fashion, with blue, yellow, pink and mauve streamers and shaded balloons. These were fastened to the walls by a row of large pink paper flowers, which were very effective. Miss Rothmen's orchestral music made the dance go with a swing throughout. A dainty supper was served by the committee, who deserve every credit for the undoubted success of the affairs.

The usual cosmopolitan throng paraded the hall – Hawaiians, Early Victorians, Flower Girls, Powder Puffs, Rising Suns, Indians, Aboriginals, etc. Expensive and valuable prizes contributed by the people of Claremont were distributed as follows: Best Sustained Character, "Robinson Crusoe", Douglas Maw. Girls, 9 to 11: Best Dressed, "Hawaiian", Gladys Heron; most original, "Violets", Trixie Hancock; special, "Rainbow", Kath. McBride. Girls, 7 to 9: Best-dressed, "Early Victorian", Pat Brick; most original, "Moonlight and Roses", who proved to be a boy, Donald Critchley; Under 7 years: Best-dressed, "Silver Fairy", Mavis Marshall; most original, "Leap Year", Norma Hughes; poster, "Cabbage", Jeannie Heron; special, "English Posy", Bonnie Bolan; "Rajah", Douglas Bolan. Boys, 9 to 14 years: Best-dressed, " Speedway", Neil Stewart; most original, "Unemployed", Jack Male; special, "Linesman", Alex. Williams. Boys, 7 to 9 years: Best-dressed, "Toreador", Vernon Bertram; most original, "Father Xmas", Walter Heron; poster, "Paramount", Keith Nunn. Boys, under 7 years: Best-dressed, "Bubbles", Allan Green; most original, "Hussar", Best Garrott; special, "Footballer", Colin Com.

Miss Gault brought a pretty Wattle Set, which was dressed in green and yellow poms. Mrs Connarty was wearing a black crepe de chine frock; Mrs Williams, pink silk, piped with emerald green; Mrs J Curtin, fawn silk; Mrs Burgess, salmon craysheen, black silk shawl with embroidered roses; Mrs Turner, mauve figured tissue; Mrs Saunders, pink silk overdress of lace; Mrs Day, floral georgette; Mrs Gibbons, floral crepe de chine; Mrs Norton, navy blue silk relieved with biscuit trimmings; Miss Davis, turquoise chenille frock.'11

Tuesday 25 September Trades Hall, Perth

Speaks at the second conference of Labor women.

'Leschenaultia, Iceland poppies, and many shaded geraniums adorned the tables of an assembly room at the "Trades Hall, Perth, where on September 25, the second conference of Labor Women was opened under the happiest auspices. Miss May Holman, MLA (President of the Labor Women's Central Executives occupied the chair and in addition to a thorough knowledge of procedure, maintained an atmosphere of felicity throughout, and took such shorthand notes as enabled the conference to dispense with the services on a minute secretary. On the second day of the conference, beautiful flowers were brought along by Mr A H Panton, MLA for decoration purposes, and he is hereby thanked for his kindness.….

Mr J. Curtin (Editor of the" Westralian Worker") said that there was no force which would give to women such a constructive part in the world as the force organised under the name of the Labor Movement. Some of the men were a little disappointed at the slow progress made in respect to the organisation of women. It was true that in various phases, such as daring elections and strikes, women did and do wonderful work. In the formation of Labor's policy, however, there was room for women to take a more conspicuous part. He was struck at Geneva by the remarkable capacity exhibited by the women representatives; not only of the Labor Movement but of every other association and movement. They had definitely set themselves the task of qualifying for public service by study. Up to now they had not reached anything like a corresponding plane in Australia. Women should be more in the Movement to abolish wars. The Union of Democratic Control, which was started by E.D. Morel, was now almost entirely officered by women. It was necessary that women should be able to hold their own. The evil forces in society were so great that women of ability and character were wanted as comrades with men to help in getting all the reforms that were necessary. He counselled the women not to afraid to ask the men for money. Organisation could not be done without it. The Federal Women's Conference should be able to produce a budget and ask the district councils for the required money.…'12
Monday 22 October Roads Board Hall, Claremont

First meeting of the Fremantle campaign.

'Mr John Curtin, the Labor candidate, was well received, and delivered a splendid exposition on the activities of the Bruce-Page administration. A vote of confidence in the candidate was moved by Mr E H Gray, MLC seconded by Mr J Nunn, and carried enthusiastically by the audience.' 13

Tuesday 23 October

Unity Theatre, Trades Hall, Perth


Attends Metropolitan Council of ALP 'At Home' to welcome Mrs Needham, wife of Senator Needham, to Western Australia.

'The theatre was decorated with many colored streamers and on the small tables were bowls of stocks, roses and Geraldton wax flowers. … Mr J Curtin made a characteristic speech in which he pointed out that the most patriotic thing that could be done in the Movement was to alter the policy which was at present being pursued in Australia by returning a Labor Government. If they could not capture the Treasury Benches, he hoped that at least the position of the Bruce-Page Government would be considerably weakened. It was not always necessary for Labor to govern in order to do the best work. No changes that made for the building up of a child-life and womanhood in this country had taken place since last election.'14

  Town Hall, Fremantle

Attends and speaks at official opening of the Federal Labor campaign. 15

'Mr Curtin spoke for one hour and thirty minutes to an audience whose attention he gripped from start to finish. His splendidly delivered, easily understood criticism of the Bruce Government's administration, and the lucid explanation of the financial position of the Federal Government and its relation to the various States together with a very clear statement explaining the much discussed financial agreement made a very deep impression upon his audience. Many opined that Mr Curtin had never been heard to better advantage.

The meeting was an auspicious opening for the Fremantle campaign. A vote of confidence in the Senate Labor candidates and Mr Curtin was moved by Mr J.B. Sleeman, and carried with enthusiasm.'16

Frances Shea played the piano in the 'packed-out' Fremantle Town Hall to put 'people in a good mood before he arrived.' She recalled his powerful speech which criticised the government’s industrial relations policy and 'held his audience, because he was amazing the way he could stand with one note. He had a wonderful vocabulary, you know, he was so dynamic. You could hear a pin drop when he was speaking. He really was a wonderful orator. I do think too, that people admired him because every word he said they knew he believed in…'17
Wednesday 24 October Public Markets, West Subiaco
  Attends and speaks at Federal Election meeting. 18
Thursday 25 October Roads Board Hall, Cottesloe Beach
  Attends and speaks at Federal Election meeting.19
Monday 29 October evening Cambridge Street Hall, Leederville
Jolimont Hall,Jolimont
  Attends and speaks at Federal Election meeting. 20
Tuesday 30 October New Oxford Theatre, Leederville
Pangbourne Street Hall, Wembley
  Attends and speaks at Federal Election meeting. 21
Wednesday 31 October Town Hall, East Fremantle
  Attends and speaks at Federal Election meeting. 22
Thursday 1 November North Fremantle Town Hall
Wesley Hall, South Fremantle
  Attends and speaks at Federal Election meeting. 23
Friday 2 November
8 pm
Rosemount Hall, Fitzgerald Street, North Perth
Mt Hawthorn Tram Terminus
  Attends and speaks at Federal Election meeting. 24
Monday 5 November
2.30 pm
Fremantle Town Hall

Attends and speaks at the Ladies Meeting. [Mrs Elsie Curtin was a member of the Fremantle Labor Women’s Committee.]

'The Labor campaign at the port is progressing with enthusiasm. There is no lack of willing workers and the meetings are being well attended. One of the most successful meetings of ladies ever held in Fremantle took place at the Town Hall, on Monday afternoon last. There was a large attendance. Mrs Needham (wife of the Senator), Miss May Holman, MLA, and Mr John Curtin were the speakers. The selected Labor candidate for Fremantle was in good form and delivered an eloquent address on child endowment and kindred subjects.' 25

8pm Swanbourne

Attends and speaks at Federal Election meeting. 26

'John Curtin must receive a tremendous majority in Fremantle itself, although there are indications that the Labor candidate will receive a big vote in Cottesloe and Claremont which are recognised as the most conservative strongholds in the metropolitan area.'

Tuesday 6 November Princess Theatre, Claremont
  Attends and speaks at Federal Election meeting.27
Thursday 8 November Agricultural Hall, Osborne Park
Nyookenbooro, [probably now known as Nookenburra]
  Attends and speaks at Federal Election meeting.28
Friday 9 November
8 pm
Canning Road Committee Rooms, East Fremantle
  Attends meeting of East Fremantle Committee. 29
Monday 12 November Opposite the Leopold Hotel, Bicton
  Attends and speaks at public meeting. 30
Sunday 11 November
10.30 am
Mr O Cook’s residence, Adrian Street, Palmyra
  Attends meeting of Bicton-Palmyra Committee. 31
Tuesday 13 November Oxford Theatre, Leederville
  Attends and speaks at Federal Election meeting. 32
Thursday 15 November Trades Hall, probably Fremantle
Wells Hall, Cottesloe

Attends 'At Home' given by Fremantle Labor Women’s Organisation.

'One hundred and fifty women and a number of men were present. Mrs Mannion (President) was in the chair, and Miss May Holman, MLA delivered addresses which were much appreciated by all present. Mrs Truman and Miss A O'Donnell rendered several attractive vocal items, and dainty afternoon tea was handed round. Miss O'Donnell was the recipient of a lovely bouquet of roses presented by the Vice-President (Mrs Day) on behalf of Mrs Needham. Mrs Green moved a vote of confidence in the candidates, which was seconded by Mrs Ryan and a vote of thanks to Miss May Holman, MLA. of whom all Labor Women are extremely proud, was also carried. In returning thanks, Mr Curtin thanked the artists, those who had decorated the hall so effectively, and the other workers.' 33

Attends and speaks at Federal Election meeting. 34

Friday 16 November
Opposite Wesley Church, Fremantle, intersection of Cantonment and Market Streets
  Attends final rally, a 'spectacular finish' to the Labor campaign. 35
Saturday 17 November  

Election Day

'… the culmination of weeks of effort by the various Labor committees who have actively canvassed the extensive Fremantle division in the interests of Mr John Curtin, the selected Labor candidate and the Labor Senate candidates Senators Needham, Graham, and Ernie Barker. It is anticipated that the Fremantle district itself will respond with a tremendous majority for the Labor candidates.

As is usually the case, the bulk of the arduous and very often discouraging work of canvassing has fallen upon the shoulders of the Labor Women. The Fremantle Labor Movement is fortunate in possessing a goodly number of first-class Labor workers. They have given magnificent service during this campaign and they richly deserve the victory that Labor should secure…

To finish the campaign effectively, it is necessary that Laborites should report themselves at the respective committee rooms … as early as possible. Much depends on Labor supporters who are required in large numbers outside the respective booths in order to initiate the ill-informed Labor supporters how to vote. There will be thousands of them who will require advice and assistance. Without such assistance informal votes will be cast.'36

Curtin converted a 6000 vote loss in the 1925 election to a 1600 vote victory in this 1928 election. 37

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