|c. Early January||Perth|
|Indisposed. May miss meeting of Advisory War Council. 1|
|Monday 6 January||Perth|
|Attends special meeting of the State Executive to discuss Dinan Burks enquiry. 2|
|Wednesday 8 January||Fremantle|
|Attends meeting of the Fremantle ALP District Council where he is given a rousing welcome and invited to speak. 3|
|c. Wednesday 14 January||Perth|
|With Senator J M Fraser addressed a meeting of the Metropolitan District Council of the ALP. 4|
|End of January/Early February||Perth-Eastern States|
|Travels to Eastern States.|
|Saturday 1 February||?|
|In good health. Will attend meeting of War Council and other meetings. 5|
|Wednesday 5 February||Probably Melbourne|
|Attends Advisory War Council Meeting, and issues press statement. 6|
|Monday 10 February||Sydney|
|Addresses annual convention of the Australian Workers Union, pledging the ‘complete cooperation of the Labour Party in the Commonwealth’s war effort’. 7|
|Thursday 13 February||Canberra|
|Joins with Acting Prime Minister, Mr Fadden, in issuing a statement on the state of the war. 8|
|Saturday 15 February||Canberra|
|Comments on a warning by the Acting Prime Minister, Mr Fadden that the war had moved to a new stage involving the utmost gravity. 9|
|Sunday 16 February||Canberra|
|Comments on joint statement issued with Mr Fadden, Acting Prime Minister, indicating that the statement ‘had not been made to cause alarm, but because the people needed to be told the general position’. 10|
|Monday 3 March||House of Representatives|
Writes letter to Mrs Elsie Curtin:
‘March 3 '41
The weather map in the paper today shows a big depression in your nor'west.. Maybe Perth may get a big rain by the time this reaches you & give a good break-up for the summer. It was very sultry here yesterday & on Saturday.
I enclose a cheque for £100. It will keep the home fire glowing for a while.
Our war news is not good. The attacks on shipping are constant and serious. Another convoy of 14 boats has been knocked about with heavy losses. The squeeze economic is on the old country. Bulgaria has joined the Axis and the road from Berlin to Greece & Turkey opened up. Japan is ready & waiting the day of maximum opportunity. This is dependent on how Britain stands up & on the Japanese reading of the USA policy. My own view of America is that Gt Britain & the Atlantic Ocean mean much more to that country than does Australia & what is called Oceana. And that means Australia would be mad not to exert the maximum precautions in and on all the stepping places & approaches to ourselves.
I am well. I send you my love, pride & gratitude for what you have been & are. Keep your heart glowing my beloved.
Your loving husband
|Tuesday 4 March||Canberra|
|Urges maximum national effort to produce munitions and equipment for the armed forces. 12|
|Thursday 6 March||Melbourne|
Broadcasts on Australia’s war effort and sends ‘an inspiring message to the people of England’. Complementary to the broadcast to Britain, addresses a message to the people of Canada and the United States from the people of Australia. 13
|Monday 10 March||Canberra|
? – 5.50 pm; 8.00 pm – 10 pm
‘… Mr Curtin read a communication received from the General Secretary of the NSW Branch of the ALP stating that as a result of unity that had been effected in NSW with members of the Non-Communist Party who had signed the Party’s pledge, it was desired that Messrs J A Beasley, J S Rosevear, D Mulcahy, T Sheehan, S K Armour and J Armstrong, should be invited to attend the meetings of the caucus.
Mr Curtin expressed an earnest hope that by the unity that had now been accomplished there would come to the men and women of the Labor movement throughout Australia a better prospect for the future. The welfare of the working communities was inseparably bound up with the unity which the organic powers of Labor could express. This was only possible with the unity that Labor should command in its affairs. The present unity betokened a better prospect for better things to our people.
|Tuesday 11 March||Canberra|
10.30 pm - ?; 2.30 pm - ?; 8 pm - ?
‘Mr Curtin emphasised the seriousness of the leakage of information from the Party room and stated that at the luncheon adjournment he had refused to see the press. At the dinner adjournment the press had, as usual waited upon him, and although he had been given to understand that the press knew the text of the resolutions proposed at an earlier sitting, he did not make any comment thereupon, but only indicated the actual resolution that had been passed. His position made it essential for him to grant an interview to the press (it had always been the practice that had been followed) but he had only communicated actual decisions made by the Party without any comment.Mr Ward stated that he had an equal concern regarding the leakage of information. He pointed out that no information could have been given by either Mr Morgan or himself because during the whole period of the debate they had not left the room.’ 15
|Wednesday 12 March||House of Representatives|
|Supports a Government motion to adjourn parliament to allow a secret session of both Houses for the discussion of matters associated with the progress of the war. 16|
|Thursday 13 March||Canberra|
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.
‘Mr Curtin warmly denied that he had by inference or otherwise conveyed any expressions of opinion to the Press [regarding Mr Ward’s attitude]. He had done as he always had done when interviewed by the Press after Party meetings, conveyed to them actual decisions when such decisions were ready for release. Because of the criticisms he had safeguarded himself by having another member of the Executive present when giving these interviews. Mr Curtin further stated that the previous evening he had actually seen another member of the Party in consultation with a Pressman and perusing the report of that pressman before sending same on to his paper.
Mr Ward stated that although he had been seen in the presence of a Pressman and perusing his report he did not convey any information from the Party room. Whatever he had done was done openly for anyone to see and he had no reason to apologise for anything he had done.’
[The Daily Telegraph of 13 March 1941 claimed that Ward had left a secret session of Parliament because he disagreed with the party’s attitude towards the government. In a debate in Parliament Curtin and Ward blamed each other for leaks to the press.]
|House of Representatives|
Gives speech which is ‘marked by the fact that, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament, a speech was received by handclapping.' 17
|Friday 14 March||House of Representatives|
|Responds to criticism from Mr Brennan regarding the actions of the War Council. 18|
|Wednesday 19 March||Canberra|
|Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. Makes statement regarding the impending visit of the USA fleet and recommends that the Party should support the gesture of goodwill proposed by the adjourning of Parliament.|
|House of Representatives|
|Responds to a speech by Mr Fadden concerning a speech by the American President, Mr Roosevelt, on the Aid to Democracies Act. Confirms his appreciation of the action and the sentiments of the American legislation. 19|
|c. Thursday 20 March||Canberra|
|Speaks at official dinner tendered to T Kawai [Japanese Minister to Australia]. 20|
|Tuesday 25 March||House of Representatives|
|Criticises the actions of a court for acting as the Government wished in an industrial relations matter. 21|
|Wednesday 26 March||Canberra|
|Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. 22|
|Monday 31 March||Canberra|
? – 10.25 pm
|Tuesday 1 April||House of Representatives|
|Indicates that the Opposition will agree to the passing of the Pay-Roll Tax Assessment Bill 1941, because the proceeds of the Bill are to be used for child endowment. 24|
|Wednesday 2 April||House of Representatives|
|Argues against a proposal to increase the size of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Points out the limitations imposed on the ABC news service, particularly on their sole reliance on the news service provided by Australian newspapers. 25|
|c. Wednesday 9 April||Eastern Sates - Western Australia|
|Travels to Western Australia.|
|Sunday 13 April||Perth|
|Arrives in Western Australia. 26|
|c. Tuesday 22 April||Fremantle|
|Attends meeting of the Fremantle ALP District Council, and ‘addressed the Council on Federal, political and national matters of importance’.27|
|Friday 25 April||Perth|
|Leaves Perth for Eastern States. 28|
|Saturday 26 April||Adelaide|
|Spends a quarter of an hour in conference with Lord Gowrie, the Governor-General, while the east-west train is in Port Augusta. 29|
|c. Monday 28 April||Melbourne|
|In Melbourne ‘to answer the latest suggestions that the Labor Party should participate in a national all-party ministry’. 30|
|Wednesday 30 April||Melbourne|
With Mr Scullin MP, visits a peace-time engineering works which had been converted to munitions manufacture.
On the eve of May Day makes statement on Labour’s ‘war pledge’:‘The cause of Labour has ever been the cause of Australia … Labour never has and never will falter in its loyalty and service to the advancement of Australia.’ 31
|Saturday 10 May||Canberra|
|Denies that there is a breach with Mr Beasley and Dr Evatt, and a challenge to his leadership of the ALP. 32|
|Tuesday 20 May||South Australia|
Travels to South Australia, makes a speech in support of Lawton in the Boothby by-election campaign. 33[The Boothby by-election was caused by the death of J L Price (UAP) on 23 April 1941. It was held on Saturday 24 May 1941 and won by Sir Archibald Price (no relation to J L Price), also of the UAP. The result was a good one for Labor whose candidate, Tom Lawton, picked up 10 000 more first preference votes than at the general election nine months earlier. At the general election of 1943 the seat was won by Tom Sheehy for the ALP.]
|Wednesday 21 May||Adelaide|
|Tuesday 27 May||Canberra|
? – 5.50 pm
‘Mr Curtin reported to the meeting that he had an interview with Mr Menzies the Prime Minister who had stated to Mr Curtin that he proposed to make a general statement on war matters to the Parliament tomorrow. This statement would be public but that such parts that he felt should not be released publicly he would draw attention to strangers and then proceed to give such information in secret session.’
Makes statement on the Prime Minister’s offer for the formation of a National Government.
‘… I am willing to do all I possibly can for Australia and for the men and women who live here, and also for the unborn children, but I refuse to desert the great body of Labor to prop up political parties of reaction and capitalism.
Whatever this war may bring, Labor will give its maximum co-operation. But to be merely a part of a government would destroy Labor and would be a disaster for Australia…
The establishment of a National Government would promote disunity. In the national interest, therefore, I ask that the task of those charged with the responsibility of leadership in the Australian Labor Movement be not further embarrassed by loose talk of a National Government.
To the irresponsibles – the propagandists, and the controversialists – I say: Devote your energies to something more useful in the national interest.Labor has pledged its all. It is giving its all. We will win through by the strong arm of working-men and women; not by the idle chatter of disruptionists.’ 35
|Wednesday 28 May||House of Representatives|
|Following some heated debate and a motion of adjournment to enable a meeting of both Houses, calls on the recently returned Prime Minister to ‘... put aside political catch-cries, in which event we shall put aside all political partisanship’. 36|
|c. Thursday 29 May – c. Thursday 12 June||Melbourne|
|Spends three weeks in bed after contracting pneumonia. 37|
|Sunday 1 June||Canberra|
|Issues statement that the war effort should be put in front of politics. 38|
|c. Tuesday 10 June||Canberra|
|Suffers from rheumatism. 39|
|Wednesday 11 June||Melbourne|
Writes to Adele Mildenhall, his long-time secretary on the occasion of her marriage.
‘My Dear Adele,
Today Dr Pennington told me that I was not to book for a train journey until after he sees me again on Friday. That means I cannot be at Canberra at least before Monday. It grieves me very much. Apart from the discomfort I am enduring I am unhappy at the prospect of not being present at your marriage ceremony, which would have given me very great delight.
Therefore I write this note to wish you happiness and the good life all your days. You count very much in my friendly affection as a workmate and collaborator in matters of great moment to our country. In fact what we have been associated in has meant much more to others than to ourselves. We have, humbly but in great faith, worked for the general good.
As a member of our team you played the game. Now you form a team with the man of your heart for the highest natural purpose. I know you will again & always play the game. So my hopes & my interest & my prayers combine to wish you content and material happiness now that you are to have a husband & no longer to have a somewhat dictatorial but I also hope a respected employer. You go to a new avocation - the greatest a woman attains. Our mothers had this work to do & we, their sons & daughters, have the road mapped for us illuminatingly. Fear no labour which love warrants; stint no service which your sense of wifehood prompts; spare no gifts of friendship which your generous nature suggests - These are the bread upon the waters ultimately bringing nourishment to your spirit.
Read what St Paul said & translate it as you will - wives owe duty as they acquire rights. And because you become a wife all the more honour thy father & thy mother for the family is the very core of a true people.
Because I feel these things deeply I include in my "God Bless You" the supplication of all the Curtins.
Yr Affectionate Friend,
P.S. Give me a cup of tea some time!’ 40
|Friday 13 June||Melbourne|
Has consultation with Dr Pennington and is cleared to travel back to Canberra. 41
|c. Saturday 14 June||Canberra|
Recovers sufficiently to travel to Canberra and attend Adele Mildenhall’s wedding at which he presented her with a teapot ‘in recognition of all the cups of tea that she had poured for him over the previous five years.’
Adele Mildenhall recalls:
‘…I was engaged to a man in Melbourne and we hadn't any wedding plans and we didn't really have enough money to set a wedding date and I was wishing I could live in Melbourne, or have more travelling with my job to keep in touch with my fiance. It so happened the next week I was in the Ministerial office on the Government side and they were looking for an extra secretary and I told them I wanted a job that had more travelling and the reasons behind it and a few days later they rang me up and said the job was mine if I wanted it - would I give them an answer in a day or so. So I thought about it and rang my fiance and he said that would be wonderful, so I went into Mr Curtin and I gave him three weeks or a month's notice and told him why I was leaving and how sad I was, but that my heart was in Melbourne with my fiance. So he quite understood and then he wrote me the most beautiful letter. The letter is this:
I find it difficult to express my regret that you should find the time has come to transfer to another appointment. This ending of our association is a wrench. Your work has been so faithfully done and the way you have done it has so charmed your colleagues and myself that I could wish you were going on with us. But life does cause these severances and I understand well the urges of your nature and can out of my experience and my friendship give them full echo. I thank you very much for all the help you have been, for the comfort which confidence in you gave me, and for the pleasure I had daily in observing your charm of disposition and grace of mind. And very, very much I wish you happiness and fulfilment in the years ahead. Will you please in some little token of your own selection use the attached cheque as a reminder of the time you have spent here with us. We shall be glad, and I know I shall count myself in nothing half so blessed as in remembering my good friends and may you too feel a little blessed in a similar recollection. My compliments to your mother and father and my deep regard to you.
Well that letter was my undoing … I went back to Mr Curtin and said, “I'm sorry I don't want to leave; can I stay?” And he said, “Of course, you can.” So I have this wonderful letter of a man who spoke from the heart.
I then carried on with him for another 12 months, saved up my pennies and I got married in June 1941.
|Wednesday 18 June||House of Representatives|
|Comments on the Prime Minister’s statement on his trip abroad, and takes the opportunity to highlight the necessity of having an effective Air Force. Calls on the Prime Minister to consider the needs of workers during the war, and to make opportunities for discussion and negotiation with the union movement. 43|
|Thursday 19 June||Canberra|
10.30 am? – 1.20 pm
|Tuesday 24 June||House of Representatives|
|Supports Menzies’ statement on the conflict between Germany and Russia, and the need for all countries to fight an aggressor who is attempting to impose its views by force. 45|
|Wednesday 25 June||House of Representatives|
|Comments on the Ministers of State Bill 1941, acknowledging the need for a larger Cabinet due to the responsibilities of war and agrees to the passage of the Bill. 46|
|Thursday 26 June||Canberra|
|Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. 47|
|Friday 27 June||Canberra|
Chairs ‘Special meeting’ of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.‘The Leader stated that the reason for calling the meeting was on account of him receiving a note from the Prime Minister who stated that he proposed setting up a Rural Industries Committee and suggesting the appointment of Labor representatives on same.' 48
|Tuesday 1 July||House of Representatives|
Comments on Industrial Relations matters and a proposed amendment to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act foreshadowed by the Attorney General. Cites a recent resolution of the ACTU and calls for moderation by both employers and workers in industrial relations matters to facilitate the war effort.Leaves Canberra to travel to Perth. 49
|Sunday 6 July||Perth|
Arrives in Perth.Issues statement showing that he didn’t regard ‘Parliamentary developments since he left Canberra for Western Australia last Tuesday as bringing any serious change in relations between the Government and the Opposition’. Denies possibility of an early election. 50
|c Monday 14 July||Fremantle|
|Attends meeting of the Fremantle ALP District Council with Mr E Needham MLA. ‘Both were warmly welcomed by the assembly, and each invited to address the meeting’. 51|
|Tuesday 15 July||Trades Hall, Perth|
|Attends meeting and strongly criticises ‘workers who go on strike unnecessarily, thus impeding Australia’s war effort’. 52|
|Wednesday 16 July||Trades Hall, Fremantle|
|Attends reception for the ‘British Laborite, Mr W Holmes’. 53|
|Thursday 17 July||Perth|
|Appeals to the ‘commonsense of trades unions and the Federal Government to end war industry stoppages’. 54|
|Friday 18 July||Fremantle|
|Attends Mr Holmes’ Fremantle meeting and proposes the vote of thanks. Appeals for ‘continued and continuous war production’. 55|
|Thursday 24 July||Perth|
Deplores ‘the strike threat as a protest about the continued detention of Ratcliff and Thomas, declaring that such a remedy would be disastrous to the cause which the ACTU and the whole Labor movement espoused’.[In December 1940, Max Thomas and Horace Ratcliff were charged with breaches of the National Security Act Regulations and convicted. They served the full sentence and were released in June 1941. Subsequently, although there were no further charges they were placed under military detention. In October 1941 they were released after signing bonds undertaking to observe and comply with the National Security Act and its regulations]. 56
|Monday 28 July||Perth|
Denies that he is going to resign the leadership of the ALP because of his state of health.‘My health is very much better than that of many of the defenders of Tobruk, and, as they are not talking of giving up, neither am I. I have no intention of walking out on my responsibilities.' 57
|Early August||Perth - Eastern States|
|Travels to Eastern States.|
|Tuesday 12 August||Melbourne|
|Has conference with Prime Minister Menzies and the Federal Treasurer, Mr Fadden. 58|
|Thursday 14 August||Melbourne|
|Attends meeting of the Advisory War Council which discussed possibility of allowing PM Menzies visit London. 59|
|Wednesday 20 August||Parliament House|
Attends special meeting, also attended by Franke Forde and Norman Makin. 60
Is sent a communication from the Board of Directors of the People's Printing and Publishing Company requesting increased capital for the company.
It was resolved on the motion of Messrs Trainer and Millington that this recommendation be endorsed and that a communication be forwarded to Mr Curtin setting out the position of the company with regard to the need of increased capital to finance the broadcasting station and asking his assistance in securing the necessary permission under the National Security Regulations. 60a
|Thursday 21 August||Canberra|
10.30 am? – 1.20 pm
‘Mr Curtin made a review of the Far Eastern position and its relation to world war events. He reported that the Government had requested the Prime Minister to proceed to London to consult with the British Authorities. The Prime Minister had declared that he would not go unless all parties of the House agreed. The Executive of the Party had met and unanimously recommended the following resolution be adopted by the Party.
“The Labor Party declares:
The motion was finally carried with three dissentients.’
|House of Representatives|
|Responds to a motion by Menzies that the Prime Minister should visit London, outlines the views of the Labour Party which stress the need for the Prime Minister to be in Australia to assist with the war effort. States that his party will not support the proposal and instead suggests that an alternative representative attend the British War Cabinet meetings to provide the Australian perspective. 61|
|Tuesday 26 August||Canberra|
? – 3.30 pm
Tables a letter from the Prime Minister, Mr Menzies, which stressed ‘the imperative need for political stability in Australia so that we may confront and deal with our grave problems with unity, strength and effectiveness’ and the ‘urgent desire on both sides for Australian Ministerial representation in London.’
Mr Menzies added that ‘… at this grave and perilous time no personal considerations should be allowed to retard or prevent the formation of such an administration.” He proposed the formation of a new Cabinet consisting of equal numbers of Government and Opposition members, under the leadership of either the present Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition or another leader to be chosen by some method to be agreed on.
Mr Curtin reported that the Executive had met and considered Mr Menzies’ letter. A recommended reply was tabled and adopted. It stated:‘… As we have repeatedly declared, Labor opposes an all party Government because it believes that its formation would stifle honest patriotic criticism without which a successful war effort is impossible. Labor knows that most of the soldiers and war workers are drawn from the people it represents. That knowledge, and a determination to be loyal to them has made Labor a critical and constructive co-operator in the Government’s war effort. Labor believes that the people would be more satisfied if the war effort were directed by a Labor Government…' 62
|Thursday 28 August||Canberra|
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party
Tables a letter of reply from Mr Menzies indicating that ‘No good purpose would be served by my dealing in detail with the various statements contained in your letter. Almost every paragraph is controversial, but I see no value in carrying on the controversy by correspondence.’ 63[Menzies resigned on 28 August and was replaced as Prime Minister by Mr Fadden.]
|Friday 29 August||Canberra|
|Suffering from a chill. 64|
|Tuesday 2 September||Canberra|
Issues press statement on the war and on Labor’s preparedness to govern. 65
|Thursday 18 September||Canberra|
10.30 am? – 12.20 pm; 8.30 pm - ?
|Saturday 20 September||Sydney|
|Wednesday 24 September||Canberra|
|Chairs ‘Special meeting’ of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.|
|House of Representatives|
|Attacks government over the ‘Secret Funds’ issue. 68|
|Tuesday 30 September||Canberra|
Writes letter to Mrs Elsie Curtin to wish her happy birthday for Saturday 4 October:
‘… You have given me a deep well of content & met the urges of my nature completely. I have had supreme happiness in your love and loveliness. And no man has ever had more than that. Not a moment’s anxiety have you given me regarding your housewifery. My affairs have been managed far better than I could ever have done. If I heap blessings on your head, as I do, it is because not a day have I been in doubt of your prudence, good sense, generosity, & cheerfulness. And all you have been & what you are in essence is all that I have relied on. Know that firmly on your birthday, my dearest dear. … all my love & all my heart & all my gratitude for all you have been & are, the wife – the stouthearted, sweet-natured wife – of my manhood & beloved of my soul.
Your loving husband
|Wednesday 1 October||House of Representatives|
Comments on the general principles of the 1941-42 budget with emphasis on the payment of servicemen and raising funds for the war effort. Suggests an amendment to the Bill which calls for ‘... a more equitable distribution of the national burden’ in the spirit of ‘equality of sacrifice’.Is presented with a gold railway pass after six years service as Leader of the Opposition. 70
|Thursday 2 October||Canberra|
10.30 am? – 11.40 am
‘Moved Mr Scullin, seconded Mr Forde, the Party congratulates Mr Curtin on the 6th anniversary of his election as Leader of the Party and expresses its deep appreciation of his capable leadership and earnest work for the Labor Movement. The motion was carried enthusiastically and by members singing ‘For he is a jolly good fellow.’Mr Curtin expressed his warmth of appreciation for the congratulations tendered and sincerely thanked members for their loyalty and helpfulness during his term of leadership. He would continue on with those same resolves that had won for him the confidence and goodwill of the Party. 71
|Friday 3 October||House of Representatives|
Coles and Wilson, the two independents, vote down the Government, paving the way for Curtin to become Prime Minister. He was sworn in on 7 October 1941.