Diary of a Labour Man


1938 Leader of the Opposition

Wednesday 5 January Perth
Attends afternoon session of Australian Workers’ Union Conference and reviews ‘the industrial and political aspects of the various States’, and expresses the view that ‘trade unionism in Australia is today in a better position than it has occupied for some years’ 1
c Wednesday 26 January Fremantle

Together with Minister for Works, Mr H Millington, Mr E Tindale, Engineer of Works, and Messrs J Sleeman, T Fox and J T Tonkin (Members of the Legislative Assembly) makes a tour of inspection of Fremantle and North Fremantle. At North Fremantle the party was joined by the Mayor, Mr A Turton.

‘The tour embraced inspection of the Traffic Bridge, the Round House, the Arthur’s Head Forts and the recently commenced extensions to the Fish markets breakwater.

Subjects discussed during the tour included the future tramway service to North Fremantle.

The party later continued to the Fremantle Road Board District for further inspection.’ 2
Wednesday 9 March Fremantle

Attends fortnightly meeting of Fremantle ALP District Council.

‘…stated that he anticipated leaving for the Eastern States shortly and would be away for several months. In conveying his good wishes to the Council he hoped that all delegates would band themselves together for the common good and for the accomplishment of the ideals of Labor.’ 3
Saturday 12 March and Sunday 13 March Fremantle
Interviews officials of Fremantle Lumpers’ Union and makes representations asking them to lift the ban imposed some months ago on coaling Japanese whalers. 4
Monday 14 March Fremantle
Addresses lumpers at the pick-up point regarding the ban on coaling Japanese whalers. Subsequently the ban was lifted. ‘The arrival of the Japanese whalers on their return from Antarctic waters is expected in the near future.’ 5
Monday 21 March Perth

Attends the funeral of David Allan Watson and writes that:

‘One would prefer to remain silent and in the quiet of solitude to recall the memory of a long friendship. But it cannot be that way. The work which was his must be continued, and others will be the more encouraged to its undertaking by knowing something of what he did, why he did it, and of the quality which made him so valuable a man for the cause of Labor.

Dave Watson was managing “The Westralian Worker” when I came to the State 21 years ago. The premises were rented, the paper was machined by another proprietor, the equipment was but poor indeed. Yet the vision and the industry of the manager was very rich. He planned and strove and as progress was made aimed ever forward. He had the right to be proud when the day came which saw this paper printed on a modern press built on a concrete foundation in the building absolutely owned by the workers. And as his funeral procession passed at Holman House we who followed sorrowfully knew that there was the proof of his well spent years and the hallmark of his manliness as a Labor servant.


Sad hearts all over the State this week bear testimony to the esteem and affection Dave Watson had won. The tribute of sorrow is all that is now left to us. We can, however, derive comfort from the contemplation of the loss which Labor has sustained. For that loss is but the measure of the service we have had from him. The workers’ cause is his debtor. We can take up the work which he has left to us, encouraged by the faith he had in it, and glorified by the proud memories of one who was a man among men.’ 6

c Monday/Tuesday 18/19 April Perth Railway Station

Catches train for Canberra.

Farewelled by John Willcock, Labor Premier of Western Australia, Alexander Reid, State Under-Treasurer, and Ralph Doig, Under-Secretary of the Premier’s Department. 7
Wednesday 20 April Canberra

JCPML.  Records of Adele Hodges.  John Curtin and Adele Mildenhall, 1940.  JCPML00217/1

Arrives in Canberra to prepare for the parliamentary sittings after Easter.

Writes letter to Elsie Curtin for their wedding anniversary on 21 April:

‘My Dearest,

Got here today. It is cold but sunny & more cheerful than Melb. Tonkin, Gibbons, Rogers & Miss Mildenhall are now strenuously at work.  The desk is cluttered with matter[s] to see about.

I wrote this because tomorrow the 21st is the 21st anniversary of our wedding day.  And I bless every hour of all the days that have passed. You have been gracious & loving always; no man has been more fortunate than myself. I love you more & more & my greatest happiness is when I am home with you.  All I hope is that you will have happiness & content for ever. That is my prayer.

I suppose Elsie will be at home before this reaches you. They are lucky kids in their mother.

I feel well & will be glad to have got settled down before we start next week. So far I am the only MP here - the cabinet being in Melb. for the Loan Council.

Willcock, Reid & Doig saw me off last night at the train. They look well. Doig is the father of a daughter.

And now I have to get on with things. All my love my darling & my devotion for the love & help you give me always.


Your loving husband

John’ 8
Thursday 21 April Canberra

JCPML.  Records of the Curtin Family.  The Curtin Family, 1938.  JCPML00376/18

Celebrates 21st wedding anniversary.

Wednesday 27 April Canberra

10.30 am? – 12.55 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and outlines ‘procedure of business as proposed to be followed by the Government upon the re-assembling of the House’

House of Representatives


  • a statement by the Prime Minister which calls for a revision of Australian defence policy due to the international situation. Refers to Australian reliance on British assistance in defence.
  • the Government for submitting a Bill for appropriation of money for defence spending, before giving the Parliament the opportunity to discuss defence and foreign affairs. 9
Thursday 28 April Canberra
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, and recommends opposing the second reading of the Loan Bill. Recommendation adopted.
House of Representatives
Reiterates criticism of Government for raising a loan overseas for defence spending. Is also critical of the lack of detail in the allocation of the defence spending and of Government plans to purchase equipment overseas rather than in Australia. 10
Wednesday 4 May Canberra
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. 11
Thursday 5 May House of Representatives
Reiterates concerns about proposals to raise funds overseas to cover increased defence spending, during the second reading of the Loan Bill 1938. 12
Wednesday 11 May Canberra

10.30 am? – 12.45 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

‘Mr Curtin reported to the meeting that the Prime Minister intended [to] bring down a Bill to restore Members salaries by £50 pa and to make certain adjustments to Ministers salaries as well as an increase to the Prime Ministers salary.

Mr Curtin suggested that members were free to speak as they might wish upon the increase to Ministers salaries, as also to the Prime Ministers increase of salary, but suggested that no division be called, but if a division be called by other members of the House, the whole of the members of the Party to vote in accordance with his lead. Moved Mr Barnard, seconded Mr Makin, that the Leader’s suggestion be adopted. Carried.’

House of Representatives
Suggests an amendment to a proposed Bill on the salary of the Prime Minister to eliminate any reference to the increase being related to expenses. 13
Wednesday 18 May Canberra

10.30 am? – 12.50 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party

House of Representatives
During committee debate on the Tariff Proposals 1937-1938, calls for an ‘...inquiry into the incidence of indirect taxation imposed by this Government’. Argues that the Government policy relies too heavily on indirect taxation for revenue and that this is inequitable. 14
Thursday 19 May Canberra

10.30 am? – 12.50 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

House of Representatives
Criticises Government proposals to place an embargo on the export of iron ore given the Government's tacit support of an English company’s exploration in WA. 15
Tuesday 24 May House of Representatives

Gives a ‘masterly analysis’ of the Commonwealth Government’s insurance proposals during the second reading of the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill, 1938.

‘In his remarks Mr Curtin gave conclusive evidence that the Government’s Bill was national in name only and contained anomalies amounting to injustices in its general plan of contributions and benefits.’ 16
Wednesday 25 May Canberra

10.30 am? – 11.55 am
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. 17

Thursday 26 May Canberra

10.30 am? – 12.35 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

‘This meeting was specially convened to deal with the following motion: "That this Party appoint a delegation to wait upon the Federal Executive to request that body to call a Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party according to the rules for the purpose of making fundamental alterations in the constitution of the Australian Labor Party." Carried.'
House of Representatives
Calls for more considered reports and discussion on issues arising from League of Nations meetings, particularly in regard to proposed parliamentary legislation. 18
c Wednesday 1 June - Tuesday 7 June Canberra

Indisposed and unable to attend meetings of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party on 1 and 2 June.

‘The Deputy Leader advised members that the leader Mr Curtin was unable to be present owing to illness. It was resolved that a message be conveyed of good wishes for a speedy recovery to good health.’ 19
Wednesday 8 June Canberra

10.30 am? – 12.45 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. 20

Wednesday 15 June Canberra

10.30 am? – 12.10 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. 21

Tuesday 21 June Canberra

10.30 am? – 12.43 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, and:

‘…thanked members of the Party for the splendid cooperation during all stages of the debate on National Insurance and a special appreciative reference was made by Mr Curtin to the valued services and industry of Mr Blackburn.’ 22
Tuesday 28 June House of Representatives

Criticises the Treasurer for his inability to accurately forecast the budget surplus. Comments on:

  • the trade balance
  • the Government's failure to introduce legislation in response to issues from inquiries
  • the Royal Commissions the Government has instigated
  • the taxation system
  • unemployment
  • the broadcasting system 23
Wednesday 29 June Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.20 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. 24

Wednesday 1 July Canberra

10.30 am? – 12 noon
Chairs ‘Special meeting’ of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

‘Mr Curtin welcomed all members of the new Senate team, then proceeded to explain the decision of the Party that the election for the position of Leader and Deputy Leader in the Senate would be taken as the first business on the occasion of the first party meeting to be held upon reassembling for the Spring session and until then the present occupants of the offices would continue in their positions…’ 25
Wednesday 6 July Perth
  Arrives in Perth 26
Monday 18 July Unity Theatre, Perth
  Attends meeting convened by the State Executive of the ALP and attended by over 400 delegates and explains the implications of the new National Health and Pensions Act. Recommends that trade unions take ‘immediate steps towards becoming approved societies in connection with the administration of the National Service and Pensions Act’. 27
Thursday 21 July Wesley Hall, South Fremantle

Attends social evening held by the South Fremantle Branch of the ALP.

‘The function was attended by visitors from other nearby branches and affiliated organisations, in addition to the local branch members.

A most enjoyable evening was spent by all who attended; an address by Mr J Curtin MHR, being a feature.

Mr Curtin’s subject was “The Life and Works of Arthur Henderson MP,” and the address proved of great interest to the gathering.’ 28
Thursday 28 July Perth
  Criticises the government’s defence policy in an interview, saying that ‘in the vital matter of defence the general principle of the Government appeared to involve reliance on London’. 29
Monday 1 August Perth

Responds to statement made by Mr Thorby, Minister for Defence, that he lacked an Australian outlook on a national question.

‘Mr Thorby has completely evaded the substance of my criticism, which was the failure of the Government to decentralise the preparations for the defence of Australia.’ 30
Wednesday 24 August Fremantle
  Attends meeting of the Fremantle District Council of the ALP, together with Senator D Cameron. There was ‘a good attendance’ of delegates. 31
c Thursday 25 August Perth - Eastern States
  Leaves for the Eastern States.
Wednesday 31 August Melbourne
  Visits Melbourne. 32
Tuesday 6 September Sydney
  Confers with Australian Labor Party officials. 33
Tuesday 13 September Newcastle, New South Wales
  Visits New South Wales at the invitation of the State branch of the Australian Labor Party and attends function arranged by the local organisation of the party. First visit to Newcastle since becoming Federal Leader of the Australian Labor Party. 34
Tuesday 20 September Canberra

? – 5.40 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, at which there was an election of officers for the Senate. Leader Senator J Collings, Deputy Leader Senator R V Keane, Whip Senator Ashley, Member of Works Committee Senator G Brown.

Makes statement to the Party on the international situation and intimates his intention of ‘making a very clear statement to the House of Labor’s policy against war. Debate then ensued. Mr F Brennan thought that the Party should take more definite action by a No confidence vote against the Government and an emphatic pronouncement by the Party against any participation in world wars.’

[Chamberlain had met Hitler in Munich on 15 September]. 35
Wednesday 21 September Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.10 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

‘Mr Curtin explained that the Prime Minister had informed him and permitted [him] to read a cable received from the British Government asking that no discussion be made on the International situation at this moment owing to the delicate stage of the negotiations that were proceeding to settle peaceably the dispute in Central Europe. … Mr Curtin recommended to the Party that discussion on the International situation be deferred until tomorrow.’ Carried.

  House of Representatives

Objects to a Sales Tax Bill because:

  • it pre-empts the budget legislation
  • it does not give the Opposition an opportunity to examine complete budgetary proposals
  • of inequities of indirect taxation. 36
Thursday 22 September House of Representatives

During the Second Reading of the Supply Bill, 1938-39, announces his desire to:

‘…exercise the right which Parliament has long had to refuse Supply until certain matters... have been satisfactorily dealt with by the Government’.


  • the Prime Minister's lack of action on the current crisis in the coal industry.
  • the payment of large salaries to ‘tall poppies’ in the armed forces and the effect on the defence budget.
  • the high cost of sending ministerial delegations abroad.
  • the implications of resuming European migration
  •  the activities of the National Insurance Commission. 37
Top of page


Saturday 24 September Melbourne

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of the Curtin Family.  Kate Curtin, John Curtin's mother, Melbourne 1930s.  JCPML00376/215
JCPML.  Records of the Curtin Family.  Kate Curtin, John Curtin's mother, Melbourne 1930s.  JCPML00376/215

Death of mother Catherine (Kate) Curtin, aged 81, from long-term effects of diabetes and bronchitis.

‘… Words are hard things when they fail and they fail me fairly often. My mother did live to be a great age as the saying goes, but somehow I have felt but a small boy and she a comparatively young woman. I do not think years matter much in cases like this…’ 38

[Kate Curtin (nee Bourke) was an Irish Catholic from County Cork. Her family lived in Fitzroy, where her father was a publican.]

Sunday 25 September
  Travels to Melbourne by train
Monday 26 September Brunswick, Victoria
  Attends funeral mass for mother at St Ambrose’s Church, Brunswick, followed by a private graveside service at Coburg Cemetery. Returns to Canberra. 39
Tuesday 27 September Canberra

Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

‘Mr Forde Deputy Leader submitted the following resolution of sympathy which was approved by all members standing in silence: That this meeting of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party expresses its deepest sympathy with our esteemed Leader, Mr John Curtin and the other members of their family in the great loss they suffered by the death of their Mother.

Mr Curtin then reported to the meeting the result of his interview with the Prime Minister concerning the Parliament being given the opportunity to discuss the International situation. … He recommended that he ask leave to make a statement setting out the Labor Party’s policy on the International situation.’ Recommendation adopted.

Reiterates Labor Party opposition to war to settle international grievances and argues against sending Australian troops to Europe. Stresses the need to put the welfare and security of the Australian people first.


  House of Representatives
  Questions the spread of the taxation burden during the Committee of Ways and Means on the Income Tax Bill 1938. Raises problems faced by families on lower wage scales and suggests that the wealthy should bear the greater proportion of taxation. 40
Wednesday 28 September House of Representatives


Reiterates his hope for a peaceful resolution to the European conflict and restates his belief that Australians should not be involved if war should arise. 41

Monday 3 October Canberra

Makes statement on ‘Labor and Overseas War.

'Declaration by the Leader of the Australian Labor Movement.

To all sections of the Australian Labor Party it is my duty to point out now that when I uttered the statement in my speech in the House of Representatives on September 27th, 1938, defining the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party’s attitude to the international position, that

“Whatever we may do as a Dominion of the British Commonwealth of Nations, no men shall be sent out of Australia to participate in another war overseas.”

It carried the weight of the opinion of 44 other M’sHR and Senators comprising the whole of the members of the party. They were unanimous that I should say it; in the way it was said. ….'42
Wednesday 5 October House of Representatives
  Calls for the Government to indicate its policy on military support should a conflict arise in Europe. Restates Labor Party policy on settlement of international disputes and military support for overseas wars. 43
Thursday 6 October Canberra

10.30 pm? – 1 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

‘Mr Curtin reviewed the questions of the moment, namely Unemployment, Coal Industry dispute and the 40 hour working week. He felt that to raise the questions this week would be rather a disservice to the matters of serious import to the workers. The community had not calmed itself from the issues of last week and thought better results would be secured by a deferment until after this week. … Mr Curtin thanked members for their cooperation during the period of the recent crisis.

The following resolution was moved by Mr Forde and carried unanimously and with acclamation: That the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party places on record its appreciation of the capable manner in which the Leader Mr Curtin placed before the Parliament and the people the policy of the Labor Party on the European crisis and that we endorse the sentiments expressed by him.’ 44
Friday 7 October House of Representatives
  Queries the value of the proposed allocation to Public Works for employment creation. Questions the decision to allocate money to modify private factories for armaments manufacture. 45
c Monday 10 October House of Representatives
  Comments in the debate over the Works Expenditure on Defence cost overruns. 46
Wednesday 12 October House of Representatives
  Supports a motion by a member of the Opposition opposing ‘...incubating private vested interests in Australia in connection with the defence needs’. 47
Thursday 13 October Canberra
  Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.
  House of Representatives

Comments on the States Grants Bill 1938 and suggests that a more equitable system should be adopted to calculate Commonwealth grants to the smaller states, and that an average figure using the past five years statistics would avoid the shortcomings of the current system. 48

Wednesday 19 October Canberra
  Chairs meeting of Federal Labor Party.
  House of Representatives

Proposes that the Inter-State Commission Bill 1938, be rejected on the grounds that its resurrection will not assist in improving Commonwealth – State relations until Constitutional problems are overcome. Claims the work of the commission would duplicate work done by other statutory bodies.

Issues press statement proposing the formation of a ‘National Works and Services Council (for lack of a better name) which would combine the functions of the Loan Council and the Defence Council and would pay attention to the matter I have raised in the past – the need for an Australian Employment Council’. 49
Friday 21 October Canberra

Works in office.

Broadcasts address on defence policy. 50
Tuesday 25 October Canberra

Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

‘Mr Curtin reported to the meeting that the Executive unanimously recommended that he should move a motion of want of confidence in the Government.’ However later Mr Curtin called members together ‘to indicate the latest news received regarding the air disaster and suggested that he should agree to deferring the No confidence motion until next week. The suggestion was agreed to.’

[The air disaster was a crash in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne, which claimed the lives of eighteen people, including that of C A S Hawker, UAP MHR for Wakefield, SA 1929-1938]. 51

Saturday 29 October Sydney

Addresses special conference of the New South Wales Branch of the Labor Party.

‘”I have not come here as a representative of any State or of any section.” Mr Curtin said, “I  have come here to discharge of my duties as Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. I have not come to talk platitudes, but to tell you what, in my opinion, is desirable to regain for the representatives of the workers in the Commonwealth and New South Wales Parliaments that power and authority which will enable the Labor Party to serve the welfare of the Australian people.

I say that New South Wales should do better. New South Wales is a great industrial State, the greatest in the Commonwealth. It has the largest population of all the States and sends more representatives to the Federal Parliament than any other State. There can be no success for a Labor Party in the Commonwealth Parliament unless it wins New South Wales. But the Labor Party of New South Wales has not succeeded. It is capable of doing better than it has done.

You must consider deeply what should be done to make Labor powerful; powerful enough to put to an end almost a decade of Tory misrule.

I do not ask you to be loyal to me personally, but I do insist that you should be loyal to each other and to the platform that has been built up over years of conferences and deliberations….' 52
Wednesday 2 November House of Representatives
  Moves a motion of lack of confidence in Government handling of the defence of Australia. Claims that Government wasted funds allocated for defence expenditure because it ‘.... relied on theories of collective security and imperial co-operation instead of using the money as the foundation upon which to build a policy of self-reliance in Australian defence.’ 53
Thursday 3 November Canberra

Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. Requests ‘a fortnight’s leave on account of urgent private affairs. Leave granted.’

  House of Representatives
  Takes part in resumed debate from 2 November on the motion of lack of confidence in the Government. 54
Friday 4 November House of Representatives
  Is informed by the Treasurer. Mr Casey (Corio) that the information he requested concerning the total amount of loan money requested by the State Governments for public works is confidential to the Loans Council. Draws public attention to the issue. 55
Saturday 5 November - Friday 18 November  

Is on ‘a fortnight’s leave on account of urgent private affairs’.

[A search of Hansard for these dates reveals that on 8, 9 and 17 November Curtin pairs with J A Lyons, and for the remaining days Hansard gives no indication that he is present in the House.

A photograph titled ‘Opposition leader John Curtin, 7 November 1938’ from the Records of John Fairfax & Sons Pty Ltd, JCPML00445/12, may not have been taken on that date, and may in fact, have been the date of publication]. 56
Tuesday 22 November South Australia

Opens the campaign on behalf of the selected Labor candidate for Wakefield.

[Wakefield is an Australian Electoral Division in South Australia, located north of Adelaide. It was won by Sydney McHugh (ALP) in 1938 and he held the seat until 1940]. 57
Thursday 24 November Canberra

Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, and:

‘reports to the meeting that the Hon W M Hughes had approached him and asked that he take a position on the Recruiting Committee and a statement to be published on the matter.

It was resolved that the request be not accepted. This motion, moved by Mr Curtin and seconded by Senator Collings, was carried unanimously.’

[W M Hughes had begun a national campaign to raise the strength of the militia from 35 000 to 70 000]. 58
Wednesday 30 November Canberra
  Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. 59
Wednesday 7 December Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.30 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

‘The Leader reported that he had had two interviews with the Waterside Workers of Port Kembla who had waited on the Attorney General and stated that the AG had extended the time for Waterside Workers to reconsider their decision.’

[The waterside workers refused to load pig iron onto ships for export to Japan. Menzies made statements on the topic and also addressed a meeting of unionists at Port Kembla. This incident resulted in him being nicknamed ‘Pig Iron Bob.’]

‘Mr Curtin stated that he believed that the Defence proposals of the Minister and Treasurer were genuine and suggested that the Party accept the increased Defence proposals as outlined by the Minister for Defence. The Leader recommended that the Party oppose the suggestion of the Treasurer to borrow money by way of loans from overseas for the new Defence proposals. …  Motion that the recommendations of the leader be adopted carried by 22 votes to 12.’ 60

Saturday 17 December Western Australia

Returns to Western Australia.

‘Mr Curtin has left off work to carry bricks, for it goes without saying that he will presently be again working hard in helping to return a Labor Government in this State. As such a happening would add greatly to the peace of mind of Labor Women of WA, we can all again say, “Thank you,” in advance.’

‘It is a matter for congratulation, too, that Mrs Curtin keeps in touch with the women’s section of the movement and has recently accepted the position of president of the Fremantle Labor Women’s Organisation, and that bright-eyed daughter, Elsie, is an active member of the Young Labor League, as well as having given certain indications that she inherits her father’s literary ability.’ 61
Thursday 22 December Perth
  Is interviewed by the Westralian Worker, summing up the Wakefield by-election, won by the ALP. ‘A changed political outlook’. 62
Friday 23 December Trades Hall, Perth

Attends Christmas gathering of trade union secretaries and political Labor leaders.

Extends ‘sincere good wishes’ and adds that:

‘At times individuals were disposed to view what the Parliamentarians were doing as “tiddley-winking”; but small things worked into the big fabric which actually was the whole of life. Summed up that meant that the people should have sufficient means of existence, and the Labor Movement was ever moving to that objective.’ 63
Sunday 25 December Perth

‘Special Christmas and New Year Message from the Leader of the Australian Labor Party:

Mr John Curtin, MP

Another Christmas has come round and, with it, the time for taking stock. The Australian Labor Party can look back on a year of achievement, in many ways.

The party controls the Government in three States of the Commonwealth. Its position in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania has been solidified. In Victoria, the party’s position is better than when an entirely anti-Labor composite Ministry held office. In South Australia there is a marked tendency towards the solidity of effort and of forces which is so desirable. The Wakefield campaign has had the effect of mobilising the party’s strength to common effort. In New South Wales, unhappily, not a good deal of progress has been made.

Federally, I say with pride that the party has made almost giant strides. Its constant alertness, vigorous debating and constructive effort has enabled the decay of the Lyons-Page Government to be shown up in bold relief. Labor is witnessing the disintegration of the anti-Labor Government, and, more than that, is firing its guns and reloading with telling shots against the Ministry.

Economically, Australian Labor has much to achieve. Many of our people are still workless; others on the morale-breaking sustenance and relief work. The shorter working week is still far off. Wages and conditions have not advanced with the same momentum as have living costs. The position of many of our trade unions is but a shadow of their former power and strength.

It is, therefore, my purpose that this special Christmas Message should be a call to action for the New Year. It is my sincere hope and ambition that 1939 will see Australian Labor, industrially and politically, march on in renewed and greater strength against the common enemy.

This is a call to arms; not a call to the sounds of blaring bugles and beating drums, but a call to the masses for help, individually and collectively, the great Australian Labor Movement march on unitedly to the achievement of those aims, ideals and ambitions we all cherish.’ 64