Diary of a Labour Man


1942 Prime minister

Thursday 1 January Canberra

Makes statement on proclamation calling on all male members of the medical profession under 60 years of age to serve as medical officers in the citizen forces.1

Saturday 3 January Canberra

Makes statement on declaration by allied nations.

Which ‘…subscribed to a common programme of purposes and principles embodied in the joint declaration of the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, dated 14th August, 1941, and known as Atlantic Charter, being convinced that complete victory over their enemies is essential to defend life, liberty, independence and religious freedom to preserve human rights and justice in their own lands as well as in other lands, and that they are now engaged in a common struggle against savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world..'.2

Sunday 4 January Canberra

Makes statement on Pacific Unity of Command.

‘… a system of unified command will be established in the south-west Pacific area. All the forces in this area, sea, land and air, will operate under one supreme commander.’3

Monday 5 January The Lodge

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of the Curtin Family.  John Curtin working on a Sunday morning, Lodge study, Canberra. 1942.  JCPML00376/6
JCPML.Records of the Curtin Family. John Curtin working on a Sunday morning, Lodge study, Canberra. 1942. JCPML00376/6

Writes to Mrs Elsie Curtin, that:

‘The war goes very badly and I have a cable fight with Churchill almost daily. He has been in Africa and India and they count before Australia and New Zealand. The truth is that Britain never thought Japan would fight and made no preparations to meet that eventuality.

In addition they never believed airpower could outfight seapower and now they will not risk ships uncovered by air support and there is no early probability of air support. In Australia we have to produce our own aircraft. Notwithstanding two years of Menzies we have to start production.4

But enough, I love you, and that is all there is to say.’

Makes statements on:

  • Victualling of Darwin.
  • Telegrams sent on the coalmining industry.
Announces the appointment of members of the Aircraft Advisory Committee for the co-ordination of aircraft production.
Tuesday 6 January Canberra

Announces regulations covering the Department of Aircraft Production.

Makes statements on:

  • Visit of the Lieutenant Governor-General of the Netherlands East Indies, Dr H J van Mook.
  • Reduction in press telegram rates.
  • Cabinet consideration of transport services.
Possible recall of Sir Earle Page from London.5
Wednesday 7 January Canberra

Comments on President Roosevelt’s speech of 6 January 1942.

Makes statement on telegrams sent re coalmining industry.

Receives the Lieutenant Governor-General of the Netherlands East Indies, Dr. H. J. van Mook.6
Thursday 8 January Canberra

Celebrates fifty-seventh birthday with 'a continuous round of interviews and engagements, sandwiched in with many personal and distant felicitations.'

Makes statement on transport services for race meetings.

Receives the new High Commissioner for Canada, Major-General V W Odlum, who hands him a message from the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr MacKenzie King) to the people of Australia. Replies to message.7
Friday 9 January Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Holidays and Anniversary Day Public Holiday.
  • Diminishing coal production.

Announces insertion of new regulations in National Security (Coal Control) Regulations.8

Saturday 10 January Canberra

Makes statement on Singapore representation, concerning the appointment of General Wavell, and recall of Mr Duff Cooper.9

Tuesday 13 January Melbourne

Attends meetings of the War Cabinet and the War Council.

Makes statements on:

  • Status of officers from the AIF who return from overseas while the war is in progress.
  • War Cabinet approval for discharge of a limited number of members of the AIF to accept commissions in the Indian Army.
  • War Cabinet decision against the remains of members of the fighting forces who are killed or die abroad being brought back to Australia.
  • War Cabinet consideration of congestion on the wharfs in Melbourne.
  • War Cabinet decision to permit the entry of a token number of Chinese and Eurasian women and children.
  • War Cabinet authorization of reallocation of Australian-made supplies of respirators and steel helmets.
  • War Cabinet decision not to alter the present war savings certificate scheme.
  • Constitution of an Administrative Planning Committee by War Cabinet to deal with questions relating to the war in the Pacific region.
  • War Cabinet decision to maintain an alternative air mail service to the Middle East and the United Kingdom, should this become necessary.10
Friday 16 January Melbourne

Makes statements on:

  • AIF action in Malaya.
  • Intervention regarding the intention of the Road Transport Workers Union to hold a stop-work meeting.11
Saturday 17 January Melbourne

Makes statements on:

  • Japanese propaganda.
  • Movement of ships and requisitioning by the Navy.
  • Undertaking by union to unload ship.12
Sunday 18 January Melbourne
Makes statement on a regulation prohibiting eviction orders against members of the forces and their dependants. 13
Monday 19 January Melbourne

Receives telegram from an employers' representative on the Industrial Relations Council (Mr. Perry), re suspension of sittings and sends a response.

Makes statement on War Cabinet decisions regarding the manpower position. 14
Tuesday 20 January Melbourne
Not well, and urged by colleagues to take a brief rest.15
Wednesday 21 January Melbourne

Makes statement on scientific resources survey.

Leaves by night train for Adelaide and Perth, for a break after ‘nearly two months of constant stress and ceaseless work.' 16

Thursday 22 January Adelaide
Meets with the South Australian Premier, Mr Playford. 17
Friday 23 January Kalgoorlie

Meets the press on East-West Express.

States that the only Australians who would co-operate with the Japanese would be dead Australians.

Sends telegram to the President of the Metal Trades Union Group, Trades Hall, Sydney, asking that 'every hour possible be used in industry.' 18
Saturday 24 January Perth

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of the Curtin Family.  At Perth Railway Station, Jan. 1942.  JCPML00004/26
JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. At Perth Railway Station, Jan. 1942. JCPML00004/26

Arrives in Perth to be met by his wife and daughter and ‘a large crowd of cheering supporters.’

Attends the wedding of Syd Gray to Roma Milbourne.

[Syd Gray knew John Curtin through his sister, Frances Shea, who had been employed at the offices of the Westralian Worker in the late twenties. Curtin was also associated with the Gray family through their father Edmund Harry Gray, a unionist, socialist and Labor MLC for West Province from 1923-52.]

According to Mrs Shea her brother was in AIF uniform on Adelaide Station when he saw John Curtin. ‘He said, “Remember me?” John Curtin said, “Course I remember you Syd, come into my carriage.” So Syd came in and he asked how he was - the crowd outside, they were cheering … So Syd said to him “Well I hope you can come to my wedding.” … He [Curtin] said, “Of course I’ll come … I daresay the invitation is at home isn’t it? That will be the first social event when I get there.'

Makes statements on:

  • Criticizing the British Broadcasting Commission for suggesting he is on holiday.
  • The strategic direction of the war.
  • Repeating view of holidays and obligations of civilians:

‘Having regard to all the circumstances that to-day enmesh our country, the man not fighting has no valid excuse for not working.’

Makes national broadcast for Australia Day.

Full text


Sends telegram to Mr F T Perry, a member of the Employers' Panel, on the functioning of the Industrial Relations Council. 19

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Sunday 25 January Cottesloe
JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. John Elsie Curtin with daughter Elsie and son John, Cottesloe 25 January 1942. JCPML00381/29.
At home with family. 20
Monday 26 January Perth

Interview with Premier Mr J C Willcock

11 am
Speaks at civic reception.

12 noon
Speech – Australian Day message ‘Fight or Work’ is broadcast nationwide.


Receives telegram from Generalissimo of China (Chiang Kai-shek) for Australia Day, and responds. 21
Tuesday 27 January Perth

Attends a luncheon in his honour provided by the Perth City Council, the Australian Labor Party and the Chambers of Commerce and Manufacturers.

Makes statements on:

  • The Industrial Relations Council and the obligations of employers.
  • Cable thanking Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, who worked to provide defence capacity in the Far East, on the termination of his appointment. 22
Wednesday 28 January Fremantle Town Hall

Addresses constituents at civic reception.
Makes ‘passionate appeal for war sacrifice. “Doctrines and philosophies of human betterment must stay in escrow while the nation struggles for its existence,” he said.’

Broadcasts over radio station 6KY.


In the course of a ‘fireside chat’ from his home in Cottesloe, the Prime Minister said ‘that the work with which he had been occupied on his visit to Western Australia was important not only to West Australians, but was most definitely to the security of the Commonwealth. When Australia was at war no part of it was unimportant.’

Makes statement on war strategy and response to Churchill’s speech of 27 January in House of Commons.

Sends message to the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. Mackenzie King), in appreciation of the support of the Canadian Government.23
c. Wednesday 28 January Perth
Attends luncheon in his honour provided by Returned Soldiers League.24
Thursday 29 January
Returns to Eastern States.
Monday 2 February Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Unity with Britain.
  • Expansion plans for aircraft production.25
Tuesday 3 February Canberra

Attends meeting of the Loan Council, at which there was a meeting of the State Premiers.
Mr Curtin gave the State Premiers ‘a broad picture of the serious war position confronting Australia.’

Holds press conference.

States that he was ‘shocked and amazed’ at allegations that ‘there were doubts about the complete unity of the people of Australia and the people of Great Britain. 26
Wednesday 4 February Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Review of air-raid precautions developments in Australia since the Premiers' Conference of 20 December, 1941.
  • Evacuation of industry and civil population.
  • The attendance of the State Premiers at a meeting of the Australian War Council at which Chiefs of the Fighting Services were present. 27
Thursday 5 February Canberra

Attends meeting of War Cabinet.

Makes statements on:

  • Conversion of rolling-stock to provide ambulance trains on Australian railway systems.
  • War Cabinet decision on provision of air-raid shelters.
  • War Cabinet decision on compensation for Civil Defence Volunteers.
  • War risk insurance, damage to State property. 28

Makes statements on:

  • British Government agreement to Australian representation in the War Cabinet.
  • Entry into the fighting forces.
  • Re-assembly of Parliament.

Holds press conference

  • With reference to ‘People’s Army’, stating that ‘Any organisation outside the authority of the Minister for the Army will be illegal, and the Government will not allow it to be formed. 29

Saturday 7 February


Makes statement on Port Kembla dispute and the maintenance of steel production.

St Andrews Presbyterian Church, Canberra

Together with daughter Elsie and a girlfriend of Elsie’s, attends wedding of Fred Southwell’s daughter Thelma. Proposes a toast to the couple at the reception at the Masonic Hall, and puts his car at the disposal of guests wanting a lift to the station.

[Curtin became close friends with Fred Southwell and his brother Jack, meeting them through their sister Belle Southwell, who managed the government-owned Kurrajong Hotel, where many Labor politicians stayed when in Canberra.] 30 30a

Monday 9 February Canberra
Makes statements on:
  • Receiving gift of cheques towards the purchase of RAAF aircraft, preferably for use in Malaya.
  • Establishment of Pacific War Council in London. 31
Tuesday 10 February Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet decision to call up an additional number of men for full-time duty in the Australian Militia Forces.
  • National Economic Plan.
  • War Cabinet decision to appoint Captain G F Greenwood Port Superintendent at Darwin.
  • War Cabinet decision on payment of compensation to ‘immobile' members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment in respect of injury or death suffered in the course of their duties. 32
Wednesday 11 February Canberra

Issues National Security Regulation 17AA regarding the removal of all forms of road signs where such information was likely to afford assistance to the enemy in the event of hostile attack.

Issues regulations requiring that all radium, when not actually in use on a patient, be either stored in containers or in a storage depot in a safe place.33

Thursday 12 February Canberra
Makes statement on change in naval command of the Combined Naval Forces of the ABDA area.34
Friday 13 February Canberra
Makes statement on Government's economic plans for control of manpower and material resources.35
Sunday 15 February Canberra

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of Thelma MacKinnon.  Belle Southwell, John Curtin & Eric Tonkin, St Ninian's Church, 15 February 1942.  JCPML00721/1/8
JCPML. Records of Thelma MacKinnon.Belle Southwell, John Curtin & Eric Tonkin, St Ninian's Church, 15 February 1942. JCPML00721/1/8

Attends dedication of St Ninian’s Church.

Receives phone call from General Sturdee, who presses for return of the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions to Australia. 36

Monday 16 February Canberra

Confirmation of fall of Singapore reaches Australia.

Makes statement on fall of Singapore:

‘The fall of Singapore can only be described as Australia's Dunkirk. It will be recalled that the fall of Dunkirk initiated the Battle for Britain. The fall of Singapore opens the Battle for Australia. …’

‘In the late afternoon Parliament House was gloomy, almost deserted. To the newspaper reporters, Curtin looked weary and was desperately worried. The lights in the lobby were out and the shadows fell across the faces of those who were watching the Prime Minister. E H Cox, who subsequently reported the incident, remarked to Curtin that he looked tired. Abruptly he replied: “I am tired, but I am not going to get much sleep tonight.” They waited for an explanation. They sensed that Curtin’s weariness was due to the movement of the Australian troops, who had fought in the Middle East and who were on the water. … But he continued: “Before tomorrow morning I must take the biggest and most important decision I have had to make since Japan entered the war.” … “You know of a certain movement which is now in progress. Events have moved fast since it started, and it is now at a stage where an immediate decision must be made on where it is to end”’ … “What is decided will be vital both to the men concerned and to Australia. Tonight I have got to decide where the men will fight so that orders can go forward to the convoy first thing tomorrow.” … He walked towards his room, then suddenly turned and walked back to the reporters. “What I have to settle is whether even for a very good reason, I am justified in taking the risk of sending men, whose arms and equipment are on ships far behind them, into places where the Japanese may very well reach them before their arms and ammunition do.” Then he disappeared into his room.' 37
Tuesday 17 February Canberra

After a restless night makes decision to ask for return of Australian divisions to Australia. Cables Churchill to demand ‘the return to Australia of the two Australian divisions rather than have them squandered in a useless defence of either Java or Japan’.

Meets E H Cox in King’s Hall late in the day… ‘and he paused as he passed and remarked with a wry smile: “Well, as I said yesterday, I didn’t have a very good night, but the decision has gone forward. They are coming back to Australia.”’

Attends meeting of Full Cabinet.
‘To organise the unstinted and unflagging assistance which will enable us not be become a people governed by others.’

Makes statement on Full Cabinet decisions to:

  • Appoint the Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser) as Minister Assisting the Minister for the Army.
  • Appoint the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) and the Minister for Health and Social Services (Mr Holloway) to the Production Executive.
  • Set up an Allied Works Council.
  • Gazette the regulations necessary for the total mobilization and ordering of all the resources - human and material - of Australia on a Commonwealth-wide basis. ‘To ensure the defence of our country.’

Travels to Sydney for public launch of War Loan in Martin Place.

St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney


Suffers attack of gastritis, and is taken to hospital for treatment. 38
Wednesday 18 February St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney
Keeps in touch with proceedings of War Cabinet and War Council by consulting with Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Forde and is constantly on the telephone to Ministers.39
Thursday 19 February St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney

Receives visit from daughter, Elsie, who finds him ‘surrounded by hundreds of goodwill messages.’

On being advised of bombing of Darwin, issues statement from hospital announcing, ‘this first battle on Australian soil,’ claiming that the people of Darwin had ‘comported themselves with the gallantry that is traditional in the people of our stock.’

Makes statements on:

  • National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations.
  • Approval of National Security (Economic Organization) regulations.
Attack on Darwin.40
Friday 20 February Sydney

Checks out of St Vincent’s Hospital and drives straight to Canberra to address joint session of Parliament.

Makes statement on casualties and damage as a result of attack on Darwin.41
Saturday 21 February Canberra

Receives cables from Churchill and Roosevelt repeating their arguments for retaining Australian troops for the reinforcement of Burma.

Attends War Cabinet meeting at Parliament House to consider cables. War Cabinet repeats demand for return of troops.

Attends secret session of Parliament.

Goes for walk around Mt Ainslie, causing concern because his whereabouts were unknown, and his agreement to draft cables was required.

Makes declaration published in Sydney Morning Herald that:

‘There is no more looking away now. Fate has willed our position in this war. From now on until victory, fate and war are the total words. We accept the issue and follow our destiny.'

Makes statements:

  • On Japanese disregard for the rules of war in attack on Darwin.
  • Expressing ‘utter disgust’ that two race meetings were held in Melbourne that day.42
Monday 23 February Canberra

Makes statements concerning:

  • Restriction on information released regarding the attack on Darwin.
  • Japanese propaganda.43
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Wednesday 25 February Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Ministers’ use of private members to assist them in work connected with the war.
  • The state of the war.
  • The continuance of the goldmining industry.


  • That the Minister for Social Services and for Health (Mr. Holloway) will act as Assistant Minister for Munitions.
  • The appointment Sir Harold Clapp as Director General of Land Transport.
  • The appointment of a parliamentary committee to examine the Government’s economic regulations 44
Saturday 28 February Canberra
Announces National Security (Allied Works) regulations.45
Monday 2 March Canberra
Statement on meeting of War Cabinet and Chiefs of Staff with Major-General H G Bennett concerning the Malayan campaign, and including the battle for and the surrender of Singapore.46
Tuesday 3 March Canberra
Statement on the vulnerability of the north of Australia and the use of air power. 47
Wednesday 4 March Canberra
Makes statements on:
  • Major matters of procedure to be considered by the Government when implementing its policy for the limitation of profits.
  • Rumours concerning the attack on Darwin.
  • The second attack on Darwin.
  • Payment of interest on Liberty Loan. 48
Thursday 5 March House of Representatives

Agrees with Fadden regarding the lack of concern shown by the media with respect to matters of national security.

Refuses a request from Calwell to call a secret meeting of parliament to hear a report from Major-General Bennett with respect to the situation in Singapore.

Responds to a question by Mr Spender on censorship of the media and the role of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.49

Friday 6 March House of Representatives

Following criticism from the Opposition with respect to meetings of the House, responds to particular comments on censorship of the media and more generally on the opportunity for members of the Opposition to debate matters relating to the conduct of the war.

Makes statements on:

  • Mission to New Zealand, led by the Minister for Supply, Mr Sullivan
  • Call-up under total mobilization.
  • Holidays, working days and penalty rates.
  • National Security (General) Regulations securing the removal of road and other signs likely to afford assistance to the enemy in the event of hostile attack.
  • Feasibility of normal functioning of Government in war-time.50
Saturday 7 March Canberra
Makes statement on unity with Britain and the allies. 51
c. Monday 9 March Canberra

Elsie, Curtin’s daughter arrives from Perth to spend about a month with him.52

Makes statement on advertising and the war effort. 53
Tuesday 10 March Canberra
Makes statements on:
  • Labour for allied works
  • Telegram received concerning use of racecourse for military training.
  • Arrival of Netherlands East Indies government officials.
  • Over-subscription of Liberty Loan.
  • Decision by War Cabinet that industrial agreements must be observed, and statutory rule 77 enforced.54
Friday 13 March Canberra
Makes statements on:
  • Inquiry by Justice Lowe to report on all the circumstances connected with the attacks made by enemy aircraft on Darwin on the 19 February, 1942.
  • Availability of workforce at Broken Hill for the construction of urgent war work.
  • Presumed loss of HMASs Perth and Yarra. 55
Saturday 14 March Canberra Civic Centre

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of Lloyd Ross.  John Curtin, historical broadcast to USA, 1942.  JCPML00617/65/31
JCPML. Records of Lloyd Ross.John Curtin, historical broadcast to USA, 1942.JCPML00617/65/31
Courtesy National Library of Australia, MS 3939, Series 11, Folder 65.

Makes radio broadcast primarily to USA, but also broadcast throughout Canada, South America, Great Britain and Europe, stating that:

Evatt is coming, ‘to tell you that we are fighting mad, that our people have a Government that is governing with orders and not with weak-kneed suggestions’ and that Australians, who were ‘the Anzac breed … will trade punches’ with the Japanese ‘until we rock the enemy back on his heels. …There will be Australians fighting on Australian soil until the turning point be reached, and we will advance over blackened ruins, through blasted and fire-swept cities; across scorched plains, until we drive the enemy into the sea.'56

Monday 16 March Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • British Government decision re command at Ceylon.
  • Fourth raid on Darwin.
  • Objectives of fourth raid on Darwin.
  • Return to Australia of Australian representative on the Eastern Group Supply Council at New Delhi (Sir Bertram Stevens). 57
Tuesday 17 March Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Use and purpose of sport in war-time.
  • Discontinuance of daylight saving.
  • Types of air-raid shelters. 58
Wednesday 18 March Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Observance of Anzac Day.
  • State Governments and the regulation of liquor sales
  • .Arrival of General MacArthur.
  • Message from Canadian Government.
  • Gift from Canadian women. 59
Thursday 19 March Canberra

Attends meeting of War Cabinet.

Makes statements on:

  • Fifth air-raid on Darwin.
  • Purchase and provision of emergency food stocks.
  • Compulsory civil defence duties.
  • Priority of Commonwealth Works.
  • Appointment of Mr S M Bruce as Australian Minister to the Netherlands.60
Friday 20 March Canberra

Statements on:

  • American Forces in Australia.
  • Focus of fifth air-raid on Darwin.
  • Food relief for allied prisoners. 61
Saturday 21 March Melbourne

JCPML. Records of an anonymous person.Curtin shaking hands with MacArthur, 194? JCPML00175/1

General Douglas MacArthur arrives by train, to act as Supreme Commander at the invitation of Curtin.

MacArthur’s arrival caused:

‘the greatest sigh of relief that ever happened in any country, you could hear the nation go, “Aaaaagh the Yanks are here” … and MacArthur taking poses for the cameras, he was the greatest actor I’ve ever known but he was a ham, he really was a ham, he’d take a photo, watching the cameras all the time.’‘This John Wayne-like figure, with his penchant for dramatic language and theatrical behaviour, seemed to have stepped out of a Saturday matinee. He was the cavalry captain, with bugle blowing and flag flying, riding over the hill to disperse the besieging Indians.’

Makes statement on second attack on Broome and announces that Derby has been attacked. 62

Sunday 22 March Melbourne

Makes statements on:

  • Sixth air-raid on Darwin.
  • Attack on Katherine.
  • Survivors from HMAS Yarra. 63
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Monday 23 March Melbourne
Makes statement on second attack on Wyndham. 64
Tuesday 24 March Melbourne? Canberra?

Makes statements on:

  • State Premiers’ power to suspend local government elections.
  • Fortitude of the people of the Netherlands East Indies.
  • Stories from survivors of HMAS Yarra.
  • Service pay rates for members of the forces serving overseas and in Australia.
  • Chinese nationals in Australia. 65
Wednesday 25 March House of Representatives

Apprises members of the House with the latest developments in both the Pacific and in Europe and the Middle-East. With respect to the former discusses the role of General MacArthur and the United States in the conduct of the war in the Pacific region. In addition comments on the bombing raids on Darwin.

Responds to criticism concerning his reaction to an involvement in the appointment of R G Casey to a position in Great Britain.

Due to criticism from the Opposition with respect to government powers to appropriate private property in the interests of the war effort, outlines the exact nature of the powers available to the government and reassures critics that proper compensation will be made and that the delegation of these powers will be limited.

Tables documents relating to the appointment of His Majesty's Australian Minister at Washington (Right Honorable R G Casey) as Minister of State of the United Kingdom.

Makes statements on:

  • Australian/Chinese relations.
  • Referring question by Mr Guy on efficiency of State Parliaments to State Premiers.
  • The state of the war.
  • Close consultation with New Zealand Government.
Replies to question on broadcasts by the BBC. 66
Thursday 26 March Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.15 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and makes statement on the war situation.

House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • Constitutional reform.
  • Industrial relations, refusing to disallow Statutory Rule 77.

JCPML.Records of the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.Prime Minister John Curtin and US General Douglas MacArthur, 194? JCPML00178/8

Attends Advisory War Council Meeting, and holds first meeting with General MacArthur, who addresses the Council.

Attends dinner, in parliamentary dining room, to welcome General MacArthur.

‘It was here that the General gave Australia the stirring message: “We shall win, or we shall die; and to this end I pledge you the full resources of all the mighty power of my country, and all the blood of my countrymen.”’ 67

Friday 27 March Canberra

Meets General Blamey.

[General Blamey had been recalled from the Middle East several weeks before to become Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Army.]

House of Representatives
Moves adjournment of House until 29 April. Carried. 68
Saturday 28 March Canberra

Makes statement on seventh air-raid attack on Darwin.

Sends message to Consul-General of Greece on Greece’s National Day of Independence, 29 March. 69
Sunday 29 March Canberra
Makes statement giving further details of seventh air-raid attack on Darwin. 70
Monday 30 March Canberra? Melbourne?

Makes statements on:

  • Eighth air-raid attack on Darwin.
  • Inquiry into attack on Darwin on 19 February 1942.
  • Setting up of Pacific War Council in Washington.
  • Easter holidays. 71
Tuesday 31 March Melbourne Town Hall

Hosts public reception for General Blamey.

Promises that Blamey would ‘enjoy unfettered control’ of his new command, declaring that ‘Military matters were for military men and neither the Government nor the Parliament will override their decisions.’

Makes statements on

  • Ninth air-raid attack on Darwin.
  • Relinquishment of post of Australian Minister at Washington by R G Casey. 72
Wednesday 1 April Melbourne

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet decision to carry out x-ray examinations of all members of the Citizens Forces.
  • Details of ninth air-raid attack on Darwin.
  • Tenth air-raid attack on Darwin.
  • Regulations and public holidays.
  • War Cabinet decision on postal rates.
  • War Cabinet decision on service pay rates and income tax deductions. 73
Thursday 2 April Melbourne
Makes statement on eleventh air-raid attack on Darwin.74
Friday 3 April Melbourne
Makes statement giving further details of eleventh air-raid attack on Darwin. 75
Saturday 4 April Brunswick football ground
Revisits the scene of some of his youthful football and cricket activities and watches the Brunswick sub-district cricket club win its third successive premiership. 76
Sunday 5 April Melbourne

Makes statements on:

  • Twelfth air-raid attack on Darwin on 4 April.
  • Thirteenth air-raid attack on Darwin. 77
c. Monday 6 April

Elsie, Curtin’s daughter leaves for Perth, after spending about a month with him.

Makes statement on Australian and enemy losses during twelfth air-raid attack on Darwin on 4 April. 78

Tuesday 7 April Melbourne Town Hall
Attends and speaks at reception by the Lord Mayor (Councillor Beaurepaire) for the Archbishop-elect of Melbourne (Reverend J J Booth). 79
Wednesday 8 April Melbourne

Attends first meeting of Prime Minister’s War Conference.

Announces creation of advisory committee of newspaper representatives to work with the censorship branch of the Prime Minister’s Department. 80
Thursday 9 April Trades Hall, Melbourne

Pays unexpected visit to a meeting of the Trades Hall council, where many years previously he had sat as a delegate.

Makes statement criticising New South Wales miners. 81
Friday 10 April Melbourne

Holds press conference.
At which the news is ‘bad’.
‘We have been granted a priceless breathing-space since the fall of Java. But we shall pay a heavy penalty if we don’t put every minute of it to good use…’

Makes statements on:

  • Additional enemy losses during twelfth air-raid attack on Darwin on 4 April.
  • War Cabinet decision on drawing up separate regulations for the coalmining industry.
  • War Cabinet decision to erect an aluminium fabrication factory.
  • Review of man-power by War Cabinet subcommittee.
  • War Cabinet consideration of treatment of civil servants with Papua/New Guinea under military control. 82
Thursday 14 April Melbourne?Canberra?

Makes statements on:

  • Amendments to strengthen the National Security (Coal Control) Regulations in regard to the duty of owners to keep coalmines open and the failure of employees to work.
  • New coal mine regulations.
  • Establishment of a Civil Construction Corps.
  • Additional provisions in the National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations to facilitate placing services and property at the disposal of the Commonwealth.
  • Replacement of HMAS Sydney.
  • Department of Defence Co-ordination, change of name to the Department of Defence.
[Curtin was Minister for Defence Coordination to 14 April 1942 and Minister for Defence from 14 April 1942]. 83
Wednesday 15 April Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • General MacArthur as Supreme Commander in the south-west Pacific.
  • Appointment of second Commissioner of Taxation.

Makes national broadcast launching the National Savings Campaign. 84

Full text
Thursday 16 April Canberra
Announces that the Minister for the Netherlands in Australia (Baron F C van Aerssen Beyeren van Voshol) had presented his letters of credence to the Governor-General (Lord Gowrie). 85
Friday 17 April Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Attitude of coal mine owners.
  • Acquisition of field peas. 86
Sunday 19 April Canberra

Makes statement on General MacArthur’s appointment as Commander-in-Chief, south-west Pacific area.

Replies to Opposition Leader on policy in war time.

Announces the appointment of the Honorable Sir Owen Dixon as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary for the Commonwealth of Australia to the United States of America. 87
Tuesday 21 April Melbourne
Makes statement on the state of the war. 88
Melbourne Railway Station
Meets Mrs Elsie Curtin who has arrived to stay with Curtin at the Victoria Palace Hotel, to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. 89
Wednesday 22 April Melbourne

Opens Premiers Conference and gives an address on uniform taxation

Makes statements on:

  • Amendments of the National Security (Supplementary).
  • Regulations for Anzac Day.
  • Loss of HMAS Vampire. 90
Thursday 23 April Melbourne
Makes statements on:
  • Clerks of Courts acting as agents for the Commonwealth Government.
  • State Premiers attending conference with General MacArthur.
  • Sunday entertainment for forces.
  • Assurance by State Premiers that no State would seek to make a profit out of vacant State Crown land transferred to the Commonwealth for tax purposes. 91
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Friday 24 April Melbourne or Canberra

On eve of Anzac Day calls on Australians to:

‘Rededicate themselves “to the spirit of Anzac, to the spirit of self-less devotion to duty and self-sacrifice … so that Australia can be forever the home of the Anzac people.” While there would be "a new dawn bringing with it peace and freedom,” they could only ensure its coming, by striding bravely through the storm and the blood and grief of war.”’

Makes statements on:

  • State Premiers agreement to submit draft orders issued under National Security (General) Regulations 35A to the Minister for Home Security.
  • Frequency of Premiers’ conferences.
  • Subsidization of air-raid precautions equipment by States.
  • Prisoners-of-war in Japan. 92
Monday 27 April Melbourne or Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet decision that the Food Advisory Committee be enlarged to deal with civil and defence supplies.
  • The enlistment of scientific resources in the war effort. 93
Tuesday 28 April Canberra
Makes statement supporting retention of Statutory Rule 77, concerning industrial relations. 94
Wednesday 29 April House of Representatives

Provides a review of the war situation in the main theatres of war with particular reference to the impact of developments in those areas on the situation in Australia.

In response to a question from Mr Holt, outlines the rationale behind government regulations with respect to industrial relations matters in the protected industries.

Proposes motion that his statement on the war be printed.

Makes statements on:

  • Use of Australian Forces.
  • Important developments in allied war planning.
  • Australian relations with the Vichy Government.
Broadcasts speech on BBC to the British people (later replayed on ABC) in which he attempts to create sympathy for Australia in an effort to assist Evatt's attempts to ‘extract defence resources from Churchill. 95
Thursday 30 April Canberra

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

‘The Prime Minister made a statement on the question of sending Australian troops outside the Commonwealth; portions of Cables dealing with this matter were read. The PM made it quite clear that the position was fully understood by both the British & American Authorities & recommended that the position remain as at present. Carried.’

House of Representatives

Speaking in a debate on a motion to disallow National Security regulations, defends the need for such legislation in war-time and points to the fact that the regulations were in fact proposed and enacted by the opposition parties when they were in Government.

Makes statement indicating Federal Labor Party’s opposition to motion to disallow Statutory Rule 77, concerning industrial relations.

Makes statements on:

  • The nearing completion of the work of the Administrative Planning Commission.
  • Complaints of insufficient power to deal with phases of the liquor question. 96
Friday 1 May House of Representatives

Argues against a motion proposed by the Opposition concerning an amendment to the Defence Act to allow conscripted forces to serve overseas.

Makes statements on:

  • Conference with representatives of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions.
  • Use of Australian Military Forces in war theatres.
  • Maintaining a supply of medical practitioners to meet the needs of the civilian population. 97
Tuesday 5 May Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet decision that a general conference of trade unions be held.
  • Payment to people disemployed as a result of the Government’s restrictions on non-essential production.
  • War Cabinet decision on the personnel, purpose and functions of the Allied Supply Council. 98
c. Wednesday 6 May Canberra

Holds press conference at which he:

‘with a burst of generosity, pure Socialism, or what-you-will, … produced from a locked drawer his “hoard” – three small packets of a popular brand and offered to “loan” a packet to anybody left without cigarettes for the week-end. The Prime Minister’s press secretary, Don Rodgers, promptly borrowed two packets, then spent all his spare time scouring cigarette starved Canberra to replace them.’

House of Representatives

Replies to question by Mr Stacey on General MacArthur’s command.

Makes statements on:

  • Exchange of representatives with Russia.
  • The fall of Corregidor.
  • Cables to and from Prime Minister Churchill and Deputy Prime Minister Atlee on arrival in London of Dr Evatt, Minister for External Affairs.
  • Retirement and appointment of members of the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal.
  • Appointment by the Chinese Government of three liaison officers to Australia.
  • Reports by the Joint Committee on Social Security.
  • Consideration of post-war social security. 99
Thursday 7 May Canberra

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

Makes national broadcast stating:
‘Invasion is a menace capable hourly of becoming an actuality,’and explaining rationing and restrictions.

House of Representatives

Indicates intention of making a complete statement covering the whole of the coal situation next week.

Makes statement on Japanese treatment of prisoners-of-war. 100
Friday 8 May House of Representatives

Announces to the House that a major naval battle is taking place in the Coral Sea and as a consequence, calls on all Australians to consider the actions of the forces fighting in this battle and to be aware that for those who are not fighting, there is no excuse for not working.

Broadcasts on national radio on consumer rationing. 101
Saturday 9 May Canberra
Announces temporary cessation of battle in the Coral Sea.102
Monday 11 May Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Appointment of Judge Clyne to the positions of chairman of the Shipping Control Board; the Salvage Board; the Marine War Risk Insurance Board and member of the Allied Consultative Shipping Council.
  • Appointment of Central Wool Committee chairman. 103
Wednesday 13 May House of Represenatives

Following a comment made by Mr James concerning the coal miners strike in New South Wales, responds by outlining his reaction to the situation and calling on the workers to consider the grave state of the war and return to work.

Makes statements on:

  • Disallowance of National Security (Werribee Beef) Regulations.
  • Coalmining.
  • Provisions to ease wharf congestion. 104

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Thursday 14 May Canberra

10.30 am? – 1 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and gives short statement on the war situation.

Makes statements on:

  • Beef supply in Australia.
  • Serving of orders under Statutory Rule 168 to Millfield/Greta Colliery. 105
Friday 15 May Canberra

Attends meeting of War Cabinet.

House of Representatives

Responds to suggestion of committee of inquiry into coalmining industry.

Makes statements on:

  • Meeting representatives of the Coalminers’ Federation.
  • Delegation of specific financial powers to AMF commanders.
  • Relations with America. 106
Monday 18 May Trocadero, Sydney

Gives luncheon speech to the New South Wales Branch of the Royal Empire Society.

‘His speech which emphasised the need for complete co-operation among the United Nations, was punctuated with applause.' 107
Tuesday 19 May House of Representatives

Makes statement on cause of stoppages in the coalmining industry.

Declares bills on uniform taxation a vital government measure. 108
Wednesday 20 May Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.15 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and makes a statement on the concentration of the Japanese Fleet and also other phases of the war position.

[The battle of the Coral Sea had taken place 5-8 May and allied forces had been withdrawn from Burma on 20 May.] 109
Thursday 21 May House of Representatives
Makes statement favouring a parliamentary review on reconstruction. 110
Friday 22 May Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Conference with mine owners and meeting with representatives of the Coalminers’ Federation.
  • Postponement of trades union conference to 19 June 1942.
  • Full Cabinet decision on public holidays.
  • Full Cabinet decision on payment of honoraria to members of the Literary Censorship Board.
  • Full Cabinet approval of payment to League of Nations.
  • Review and increase of wool prices. 111
Tuesday 26 May Canberra

Attends War Cabinet meeting at which a drastic new policy to free men and women for war needs was approved.

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet review of war commitments.
  • Position of Danish consul in Australia after dismissal by Danish Government.
  • Public holidays.
  • Movement of rail traffic. 112
Wednesday 27 May House of Representatives

Responds to questions concerning civil offences committed by visiting servicemen, regulations related to news broadcasts and proposals on uniform income taxation.

During debate on the Income Tax (War-time Arrangements) Bill 1942, responds to criticisms from the Opposition, particularly with respect to the crucial question of the Commonwealth assuming total responsibility for income taxation.

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet review of war commitments in man-power.
  • United States forces and criminal charges. 113
Thursday 28 May Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.10 pm

Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. 114
Friday 29 May Canberra

Presides over two joint meetings between coalminers and mine owners, to work out a plan for peace in the industry.

New South Wales dockyard
Mrs Curtin launches ‘a naval vessel’. 115
Saturday 30 May Canberra

Presides over a further meeting between coalminers and mine owners.

Makes statement on agreements reached at the coal conference of 29/30 May. 116
Sunday 31 May Sydney

Attack on Sydney Harbour by midget submarines.

Makes statement on observance of Flag Day on Sunday 14 June. 117

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Monday 1 June ??
Attends and reports on Prime Minister’s War Conference, which was also attended by General Douglas MacArthur, Major-General R. K. Sutherland, General Sir Thomas Blamey, Sir Guy Royle and Air Vice-Marshal G. Jones. 118
Tuesday 2 June Melbourne Town Hall

Opens the Second Liberty Loan.
‘”I defy the enemy to land large forces in Australia,” said the Prime Minister, Mr Curtin, in a stirring speech.’

Makes statement on arrival in USA of new Australian Minister to Washington, Sir Owen Dixon.

Broadcasts on national stations, recorded message for Foundation Day (WA). 119
Wednesday 3 June House of Representatives

Responds to questions from Mr Spender concerning the Government’s policy on the nationalisation of banking.

Requests a subcommittee of Cabinet to prepare a report relating to the operations of the Department of Information.

Makes statements on:

  • Post-war planning.
  • Employment of men by the Allied Works Council.
Mrs Curtin returns to Western Australia from Melbourne. 120
Wednesday/Thursday 3 and 4 June House of Representatives

Outlines the state of affairs in the various theatres of war around the world and indicates changes in appointments to various posts in London.

Reports on and quotes communiqués on midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour on 31 May. 121
Thursday 4 June House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • Satisfactory state of Allied War Planning.
  • On a re-examination of Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act and amendments.
  • War with Japan.
  • State of the war.
  • Visit to London by Dr Evatt.
  • Appointment of Mr Bruce as accredited representative of the Commonwealth Government in London.
  • Exchange of representatives with Soviet Union.
Moves adjournment of the House until ‘about the middle of August’. 122
Friday 5 June House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • New Empire air agreement.
  • Government control over purchase, importation and distribution of tea in Australia.
  • Tables and speaks to report of the Australian delegation to the International Labour Organization Conference. 123
Saturday 6 June Canberra
Makes statement on Australian Broadcasting Act and appointment of standing committee. 124
Monday 8 June Canberra
Makes statement on completion of an agreement to enable maximum coal production to be attained. 125
Tuesday 9 June Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Cabinet decision to substantially revise the Department of Information.
  • Uniform taxation – High Court case. 126
Wednesday 10 June Canberra

Makes statement:

  • Clarifying revision of Department of Information in the light of inaccurate press reports.
  • On Cabinet appointment of members of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. 127
Thursday 11 June Melbourne

Meets with MacArthur to review the implications of the Battle of Midway.

Makes statements on:

  • Rates for 1942-1943 Budget.
  • Progress reports on the Second Liberty Loan. Expresses disappointment.
  • The Anglo-Soviet Treaty. 128
Friday 12 June Melbourne

Attends meeting of War Cabinet.

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet decision re increase in subsistence allowance to members of the military forces.
  • Celebration of MacArthur Day. 129
Saturday 14 June Melbourne

Makes motion picture in support of the Second Liberty Loan.

Mrs Curtin catches overland express on first stage of return to Perth. 130
Wednesday 17 June Melbourne

Makes national broadcast calling on Australians to subscribe to the Second Liberty Loan.

Calls on trade unions to ‘postpone their campaigns for improving the wages and conditions of their members until after the war was won’. 131
Thursday 18 June Commonwealth Bank, Melbourne

JCPML.Records of the Curtin Family. General Douglas MacArthur & PM John Curtin investing in Liberty Loan No.2, Melbourne n.d. JCPML00381/36

With General MacArthur signs up subscribers to the Second Liberty Loan.

Makes statement on coal agreement and forthcoming meeting with trade unions on 19 June. 132

Friday 19 June Melbourne Town Hall

Acts as chairman at conference between the Government and industrial unions.

'Delegates at the trade union conference cheered the most challenging statements in a fighting speech by the Prime Minister, Mr Curtin.' 133
Saturday 20 June ???
Meets with NZ M Peter Fraser. 134
Sunday 21 June Canberra
Makes statement congratulating the Russian government and people on anniversary of Russo-German war. 135
Tuesday 23 June Canberra
Makes statements on:
  • State of the war.
  • Return of Dr Evatt from America on 21 June.
‘Nobody, at this stage of the war, can assess the value to the country of what Dr. Evatt has done. All I can say is that he has achieved our fullest expectations.' 136
Wednesday 24 June Canberra
Announces over-subscription of Second Liberty Loan. 137
Thursday 25 June Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Annual leave.
  • Pegging of profits.
  • Cut in beer production and sale. 138
Monday 29 June Canberra
Announces total subscription to Second Liberty Loan. 139
Tuesday 30 June Canberra

Holds press conference which includes an expression of anger over reported statements in Washington by Mr Hartnett [Managing Director of General Motors Holden 1934-1947] and Mr Wasserman [Chief, United States lend-lease mission to Australia. Mr Curtin said that:

‘”Gasbags were – [expletive omitted from original] the United Nations. Before he accepted the mission to America, Mr Hartnett assured Mr Curtin that his country came before his company – General Motors Holdens. He had gone to America to get those things which Australia could not supply herself with, including components of war equipment as well as complete items. Mr Curtin said: “If we could get some Spitfires we could bash the enemy in New Guinea. The Spitfires could fly higher than the Zeros and force them down to the Kittyhawks which could deal with them.” The Prime Minister was not impressed with Wasserman when he was in Australia. He said he talked like a movie star, full of gestures and fine words. … In view of statements published in America, including those of Wasserman and Hartnett, he fears that the feeling may get abroad in America that supplies which would have been sent to Australia could be better employed elsewhere. The government has been informed that there is a strong section in the United States which regards Australia as “the stepchild of the United Nations”.’

Makes statements on:

  • Payment of subsistence allowance to women’s services.
  • Lack of discussion regarding the despatch of another Minister to the United States or Britain.
  • Inaccurate reporting of lend-lease negotiations.
  • Review of man-power commitments.
  • Grants for maintaining goldmines which have closed.
  • War Cabinet decision re funds for dehydration of fruit and vegetables. 140
Wednesday 1 July Canberra

Holds press conference, which includes discussion on the meeting in Washington between Roosevelt and Churchill:

‘As Mr Curtin put it: “Two men thousands of miles from here are inclined to think that Australia is in no great danger.” Mr Curtin said he had suffered bitter disappointment. He was now looking to a harder and longer war. He would have to commence his fight for strength in the Pacific all over again.’

Makes statement on celebration of Independence Day. 141

Thursday 2 July Canberra

Makes statement on Memorandum of Agreement on wheat between Argentine, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Sends telegram to Smith’s Weekly indicating that General Blamey 'has the complete trust and confidence of the Commonwealth Government and the War Cabinet..' 142
Saturday 4 July Canberra
Attends ceremony to commemorate United States Independence Day, at which the foundation stone of the new American Legation was laid by the American Minister, Mr Nelson T Johnson. 143
Sunday 5 July Canberra

Makes statement on War Cabinet approving an amendment of the Australian Military Regulations covering saluting.

'…the relaxation of the provisions relating to saluting (approved on 29th October, 1941) had contributed towards casualness and carelessness which had become noticeable and contributed to a lack of smartness that was dangerous because it did not give soldiers a disciplined state of mind which was important under active service conditions.' 144

Monday 6 July Canberra
Pays tribute to Chinese people for maintaining resistance to Japanese aggression over five years. 145
Tuesday 7 July Canberra

Holds press conference in which Mr Curtin expresses the view that it was:

‘… unfortunate that Sir Keith Murdoch [Chairman of Directors, Herald and Weekly Times, Melbourne] in the Melbourne Herald should advocate that the government should promise full rights of citizenship to all our allies. He [Mr Curtin] points out that our allies include Chinese and other coloured people. At the present moment he is engaged in what he describes as a “tulip dance” with Dr Hsu Mu [Minister for China to Australia 1942-1945] on the rights of Chinese in Australia. As a result of this article he expects Dr Hsu to descend upon him with further demands.’

Makes statements on:

  • Reciprocal aid to United States forces.
  • Full Cabinet decision on control of meat surpluses and the price of lamb. 146
Wednesday 8 July Canberra

Holds press conference which includes:

‘A long discussion on newspaper rationalisation. Mr Curtin said the proprietors had made no suggestion whatever at the first conference regarding the release of manpower. As a result alternatives had to be put forward not as threats but to give a basis for discussion. According to Mr Curtin the proprietors became hysterical. Their latest suggestion was that 800 men should be released from the industry. Mr Curtin said this was an excessive number and to accept it might be to benefit the strong members of the Australian Newspaper Proprietors Association to the disadvantage of the weak. He was sure the government would not accept the offer. It would mean a drastic curtailment of individual judgment of newspapers and news services. … He had insisted that the press should be left free.’

Makes statements on War Cabinet decisions to:

  • Amend National Security (General) Regulations to define the rights and powers of sentries to arrest or fire on suspected persons.
  • Establish a Scientific Liaison Bureau. 147
Thursday 9 July Canberra
Attends War Cabinet meeting. 148
Friday 10 July Canberra
Holds press conference in which he describes the progress of the munitions industry as ‘nothing short of amazing’. In referring to the newspaper industry he said that ‘in his opinion the employers’ offer of another 800 men from the industry might mean that some papers would have to close and he did not agree with this.’ 149
Saturday 11 July Canberra

Reports on AIF action in Egypt. 150

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Tuesday 14 July Canberra

Holds press conference which included coverage of action in the Middle East, and on the Russian front. Mr Curtin also commented on the coal industry and statements by the South Australian Premier Mr Playford about the lack of coal stocks.

‘”I know where I stand on coal,” said Mr Curtin. “One of these days when someone cracks me about coal, I will tell him the present position and the coal figure when we came into office.” 151
Wednesday 15 July Canberra
Holds press conference and ‘had a lot to say about the coal position.’ 152
Friday 17 July Canberra

Has conference with General MacArthur.

Holds press conference together with General MacArthur, in which MacArthur gave a ‘brief “off-the-record” interview in which he expressed several interesting points of view.’ 153

Saturday 18 July Canberra

Holds press conference in which he expresses anger at:

'Mr Ward’s [Labor MHR for East Sydney and Minister for Labour and National Service 1941-1943] embarrassing statements in public speeches at various towns along the route of his present tour. He described his Labour Minister as a “bloody ratbag”, but indicated he could not disturb national harmony by a controversy with him.’ 154
Sunday 19 July Canberra
Opens an exhibition of Russian war photographs and drawings. 155
Monday 20 July Sydney Central Railway Station

Greets General MacArthur and NZ PM Peter Fraser

Vestibule, Sydney Town Hall

Speaks at the ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of Sydney as a city.


Dines with NZ PM Peter Fraser and discusses Pacific policy. 156
Tuesday 21 July Sydney

Makes statement on conference with miners regarding increased coal production.

American Centre, Elizabeth Street, Sydney
Pays surprise visit for 'a brief look round.' 157
c. Wednesday 22 July Canberra
Suffers a spell of 'incessant ear-ache, and brooding irresolution.' 158
Thursday 23 July Canberra

Holds press conference which includes foreshadowing important reorganisation of Army commands in the near future, and emphasis, both on and off-the-record, of the necessity of striking the Japanese ‘hard’.

Reports on further Japanese landing in Papua.

Makes statements on the validity of legislation for uniform taxation.

Announces that Full Cabinet would consider the re-introduction of daylight saving during 1942-43. 159
Friday 24 July Canberra

Makes a 'fighting comeback' after a “spell of bleak news, incessant ear-ache and brooding irresolution.”

Makes statements on:

  • Stoppages in the coal-mining industry.
  • Uniform taxation and States rights.
Announces meeting of Commonwealth and State ministers on 10 August and of the Loan Council on 11 August. 160
Sunday 26 July Canberra
Announces extension of term of Governor-General, Lord Gowrie.161
Monday 27 July Canberra

Holds press conference which includes comments on the raids on Townsville, which Mr Curtin said:

‘…as on other occasions the enemy had struck while Australia generally was “weekending”. He said he intended to have something to say on this question to Parliament. He thinks the “weekend” mentality of Australia with the war so close is incredible. Possibly, a “wake-up” editorial on these lines would be helpful.’ 162
Tuesday 28 July Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Reserved occupations.
  • Japanese propaganda. 163
Wednesday 29 July Canberra

Holds press conference which includes comments on recruiting and on the coal shortage in the southern States which has occurred because ‘ships were being assembled for the forthcoming operation of which he spoke some days ago.’

Presents report on alcoholic liquor prepared by the Minister for Customs, Senator Keane.

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet decision to pay endowment to repatriated children.
  • Shipping coal from Newcastle to Adelaide.
  • War Cabinet decision to call up refugee aliens and non-refugee enemy aliens for work with the Allied Works Council.
  • Authority of the States to make decisions on matters affecting sport, including racing. 164
Thursday 30 July Canberra

Holds press conference which includes an expression of annoyance at ‘Fadden’s statement on coal last night.

“What did they do when they were in power?” he asked. “Bob [Menzies] sat here like a pontiff and then decided to go and make a speech which aggravated the bloody position.”’

Makes statement questioning coalminer's right to strike when Australia is at war.


  • Visit of Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr Fraser, and his presence at a meeting of the War Cabinet.
  • Presence of the Chairman and the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank at a meeting of the War Council. 165
Friday 31 July Canberra


  • Strengthening of Australian service representation in Washington and London.
  • Increase in pay and allowances for service personnel.

Makes statements on:

  • Allied offensive.
  • Roles of State and Commonwealth Police in the enforcement of laws against illicit and unlawful drinking.
  • Price regulation and the prevention of profiteering. 166
Monday 3 August Canberra


  • Full Cabinet decision to abandon plans for profit limitation.
  • Provisions in budget for changes to rates of pay for fighting forces and service personnel.

Speaks in defence of war organisation of industry.

Makes statements on:

  • Full Cabinet decision to cut beer production and sale.
  • Full Cabinet decision on income tax deductions and concessions granted.
  • Proposal asking Parliament to assemble on 2 September 1942.
  • Commencement of daylight saving 1942-1943.
  • Full Cabinet decision to approve the preparation of legislation to establish a mortgage bank. 167
Tuesday 4 August Canberra

Holds press conference and is:

‘… worried and angry over the loss of the West Australian battalion at Ruin Ridge in the Middle East. … He said the West Australian battalion had been “butchered”. … He was angry that the Australians had again been made the “chopping block” although there were 900,000 other troops in the Middle East. Once again he said the tanks had arrived too late.

Attends meeting of Full Cabinet.

Makes statements on:

  • Field allowances paid to officers being assessable income.
  • Criticism by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) on prices and profits, and offers an enquiry.
  • Appointment of Cabinet sub-committee to keep under review the progress of reconstruction planning and to co-ordinate and direct inter-departmental activities.
  • Criticism of membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations by Pandit Nehru. 168
Wednesday 5 August Canberra

Makes statements:

  • In response to criticism of Allied offensive by Mr Hughes, UAP.
  • On Leader of the Opposition, Mr Fadden’s, accusations and lack of evidence relating to price control. 169
Thursday 6 August Canberra

Makes speech on difficulties in adequately supplying the Allied offensive.

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet recommendations for medical care and after-treatment of invalided members of the forces.
  • War Cabinet decision to amend National Security (Civil Defence Works Compensation) Regulations to provide cover for personal injuries suffered by civil defence workers while travelling to or from duty.
  • War Cabinet decision to re-appoint Mr. A B Corbett as Director-General of Civil Aviation for a further period of one year.
  • War Cabinet decision concerning shortage of public service typists and their acceptance by women’s war organisations.
  • War Cabinet decision to approve the production of uniforms for Air Training Corps and Military Cadets Corps personnel.
  • War Cabinet decision on eligibility of members of the Civil Constructional Corps for compensation for personal injury.
  • Consideration of report of sub-committee of War Cabinet on war commitments and man-power. 170
Saturday 8 August Canberra

Gives an ‘impassioned’ speech at a ‘smoke concert’ of the Commercial Travellers Association.

Declaring ‘that for the sake of civilisation and freedom it was essential that this continent should be regarded as a primary theatre of war.’ 171
Sunday 9 August Canberra
Makes statement clarifying war communiqués issued from the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet (Admiral C W Nimitz) on the attack on the Solomons. 172
Monday 10 August Melbourne

Attends Premiers’ Conference.

“Had a vexatious day … Lunched on a cup of black coffee, missed dinner, remained at the conference until midnight.”

The Premiers’ Conference was ‘of a most harmonious character’ and the ‘Prime Minister was happy to take the Premiers into his confidence and enlist their co-operation in the tremendous difficulties facing the nation. … There has never been a Prime Minister so open and co-operative with the Premiers,’ and ‘every decision at the conference had been reached unanimously.’

Makes statement on decisions of conference regarding sale, trading hours, and other issues concerning alcoholic liquor.

Responds to statement by the Leader of the United Australia Party (Mr Hughes) concerning the shortage of planes and tanks. 173
Tuesday 11 August Melbourne

Breakfasts on two chops and an egg and wearing his 'new dark suit … sallied briskly into Melbourne’s bitter north-easterlies.'

Brunswick Town Hall

Attends, with Mrs Curtin, as guests of honour at a patriotic ball.

'This function took the place of the usual mayoral ball, and the total proceeds, … will be divided among the Red Cross, the Australian Comforts Fund and the Prisoners of War Fund.'

Makes statement on decisions of conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers on consumption and serving of alcoholic liquor. 174
Wednesday 12 August Melbourne

Addresses luncheon arranged to celebrate the centenary of the incorporation of the City of Melbourne.
[On 12 August, 1842, Melbourne was incorporated as a Town by Act 6 Victoria No. 7 of the Governor and Legislative Council of New South Wales.]

Suffering an attack of neuritis, he was found later in the afternoon, 'wrapped in a rug, brooding in the dark in his room at the Victoria Palace. The news was better that night and his neuritis lifted again.'

Makes statement denying censorship of leader of UAP Party, Mr Hughes. 175
Thursday 13 August Melbourne

Attends meeting of Advisory War Council. Afterwards announces no tolerance of political censorship. Promised censorship 'will be confined to security.'

Makes statements on:

  • Possible breach of censorship law by leader of the UAP, Mr Hughes.
  • Submission of names and composition of Trades Union Advisory Panel.
  • Food supplies and the Australian Food Council. 176
Friday 14 August Melbourne

Mrs Curtin arrives in Melbourne, en route to Canberra.

Makes statements on:

  • Continuous review of decisions of Premiers’ Conference.
  • Expressing confidence in Chief Publicity Censor (Mr E G Bonney).
  • Compulsory unionism in the textile industry.
  • An order under National Security (General) Regulations to control the acquisition, sale, distribution or disposal of all maps of Australia.
Announces increases in pay and allowances for members of the forces and their dependants. 177
c. Sunday 16 August Brisbane

Travels, with Mrs Curtin and Frederick Shedden by train to Brisbane to meet with MacArthur at MacArthur’s new headquarters.

[In World War II Sir Frederick Shedden (1893-1971) became Australia’s 'most important public servant. As the head of the Department of Defence, he played a crucial role in bringing Australia to a war footing … but the prime source of his power and influence was his position as secretary of the War Cabinet.'

'Shedden set up a highly organised and functional War Cabinet Secretariat. He attended almost all the War Cabinet meetings, took notes of proceedings, prepared minutes confirming decisions and then, as Defence Secretary, set about ensuring they were implemented. … Shedden’s orderly mind, unrivalled understanding of bureaucratic process and knowledge of defence administration resulted in a highly efficient Secretariat, which enhanced the War Cabinet’s authority.']

Arrived looking 'remarkably fit and well.'

Mrs Curtin rejoined Curtin in mid-August after spending two months at home in Cottesloe. 178
Monday 17 August Brisbane
Announces termination of Sir Earle Page’s appointment as special representative in London. 179
Tuesday 18 August Brisbane

JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Mrs Curtin launching HMAS Fremantle, August 1942. JCPML00376/197

JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family.  Launching of HMAS Fremantle, August 1942.  JCPML00376/196.

Meets with General MacArthur.

Attends launching of HMAS Fremantle by Mrs Curtin.

Makes statements on:

  • Complaint by leader of the UAP, Mr Hughes and the censorship of external communications.
  • Censorship.
  • Defending Department of War Organisation of Industry.
  • Expressing gratitude to the United States for assistance in the war with Japan.

Holds press conference and launches an attack against the Opposition and the Press. 180

Wednesday 19 August Brisbane City Hall

Attends Parliamentary luncheon given for him by the State Government.

Gives address at civic reception covering Allied offensive and supplies, and austerity.

Makes statement defending Government’s administration.

Mrs Curtin attends a morning tea given in her honour by Mrs Conelan, wife of the Federal Government Labor Party Whip. 181
Thursday 20 August Brisbane

Expresses sympathy on behalf of Government to next-of-kin of crew on loss of HMAS Canberra.

South Brisbane Railway Station

Air raid warning sounds just as Mr and Mrs Curtin were about to leave by train for Sydney.

Takes shelter 'together with many Queensland Parliamentarians who were seeing them off … Passengers were in the shelter for 25 minutes and Mr Curtin’s train was 40 minutes late in starting.' 182

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Friday 21 August Sydney

Attends 16 appointments, including an interview with Earle Page.

Visits a Bondi film studio and makes a campaign short on the Austerity Loan, timetabled for 10 minutes.

'Actually the shooting occupied 50 minutes, and the PM hot and badgered missed his lunch.

However despite the delay, and, despite his hatred of all forms of cameras, Curtin endured shots and re-shots, changes in lighting, re-adjustments in focussing, hoarse instructions and urgent countermands, with smiling good humour and unruffled patience.' 183
Saturday 22 August Sydney

With Mrs Curtin, attends and speaks at the 77th birthday party of Dame Mary Gilmore, held at the Pickwick Club.

Mr Curtin, who knew Dame Mary 30 years ago when she edited the woman’s page of the Worker, said in his speech: "Dame Mary Gilmore is one of the makers of the real wealth of this nation, and therefore among the immortals."'’

Mrs Curtin presented Dame Mary with a pair of Russian bedsocks, which she had knitted on her journey from Perth, and a chiffon scarf.

['Mary Jean Cameron (1864-1962) was born at Cotta Walla near Goulburn, New South Wales, and was a school teacher before she joined William Lane's New Australia experiment in Paraguay; in Paraguay she married William Gilmore in 1897. They returned to Australia in 1902 and settled on a farm near Casterton in western Victoria. In 1908 she began to edit the Women's Page of the Sydney Worker, which she continued to do until 1931. In 1912, her husband joined his brother on the land in north Queensland, and she and her son moved back to Sydney.

Her life span of nearly a century joined pioneering Australia to the modern Commonwealth, just as her verse projects some of the basic elements of the Australian ethos into twentieth century literature. In 1937 she was made a Dame of the British Empire for her services to Australian literature.

Mary Gilmore is one of two Australian writers (A B Paterson is the other) featured on the 1993 ten-dollar note.'] 184
Monday 24 August Canberra

Returns with Mrs Curtin to Canberra.

Announces Loan and Austerity Campaign. 185

Tuesday 25 August Canberra

Announces amendments to the National Security (General) Regulations concerning total mobilization.

Makes statement on the Loan and Austerity Campaign. 186
Wednesday 26 August Canberra

'A crowded and tedious day and night, with Full Cabinet.'

Makes statements on:

  • Full Cabinet approval of Commonwealth Entertainments Tax.
  • Full Cabinet approval to provide compensation to the Canberra Hospital Board due to the cessation of the Australian Capital Territory Hospital Tax.
  • Full Cabinet decision to amend the income tax law so that periodic payments of alimony made under court orders or deeds of separation would be treated as assessable income.
  • Full Cabinet decision that no alteration be made in regard to taxation of gold-mining. 187
Thursday 27 August Canberra

Receives visit from one of the “Westralian Sandovers from a nearby military training school.”

'The Sandovers are a great Australian Rules football family of the West. Curtin put his feet on the table talked football for a grateful ten minutes.'

Makes statements on:

  • The control of meat prices.
  • Clarifying that leak of classified information was not through members of the Australian War Advisory Council.


  • Co-option of Sir Earle Page, to the Australian Advisory War Council and to attend meetings of the War Cabinet.
  • Appointment of Mr. E T Kennedy, chief executive of Associated newspapers Limited, Sydney, to the Press Censorship Advisory Committee. 188
Friday 28 August Canberra

Holds press conference which includes discussion on diplomatic representation to Russia, Japanese landings at Milne Bay and a proposed visit of dominions Prime Ministers to America.

Receives visit from Premier Forgan-Smith, with whom he discussed the Queensland sugar crop and labour shortages

‘Premier Forgan-Smith, his Scotch-thick accent anxious and insistent, lumbered down from Brisbane for long talks with Curtin on Friday.' 189
Sunday 30 August Canberra

Makes statement on the introduction of sugar rationing.

Records Austerity broadcast.

‘One disc cracked and he amiably repeated six minutes of speech.’ 190
Monday 31 August Canberra

Expresses gratitude 'to the gallant forces and the able leadership for all that is being done for us. Australia is well served.'

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet removal of the restriction on the appointment of women doctors to the Royal Australian Air Force.
  • War Cabinet decision to appoint a War Historian.
  • Review of manpower commitments, and War Cabinet consideration of report by subcommittee. 191
Tuesday 1 September Canberra
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, adjourned at 6.30 pm. 192
Wednesday 2 September Canberra
Expresses pleasure at the safe return to Australia and to the Parliament, of Sir Earle Page, M P, and in his restoration to health. 193
Thursday 3 September House of Representatives

Attends secret session of Parliament, where he appeals to members to control criticism:

'If it were evident that the High Command were blundering along, it would be the duty and obligation of the Government to intervene in the interests of national security. Some recent criticisms were made on what were only phases of the main events. Finally, unless public criticism is well based on vital factors it can only place a distinguished American soldier, who has come here to help us, in a most invidious position. If this is carried out to any great lengths on unsubstantial grounds, I forecast a grave reaction on American co-operation in this theatre.'

Responds to a question on replying to queries by trades unions conference that the Government should introduce compulsory unionism.

7.30 – 9.00 pm
Launches the Austerity Campaign from all Australian radio stations:

Full text

'He announced, in addition to sacrifices imposed by the Budget, decisions to reduce the number of racing, greyhound coursing, and trotting meetings and the limitation of hotel and café meals to three courses.'

Announces conclusion of reciprocal agreement on lend-lease negotiations. 194

Friday 4 September Canberra

Announces aid from and to the United States under the reciprocal lend-lease agreement.

Makes statement supporting curtailment of race meetings. 195
Tuesday 8 September Canberra

Holds press conference in which he refuses to comment on a proposed visit to America, commenting that ‘I would not be going there to be banqueted’.

Attends meeting of War Cabinet, which prohibits members of the Naval, Army, and Air Forces receiving gifts, 'either in cash or kind, from the public in recognition of services rendered in the performance of their duty.'

Announces gift of cruiser HMS Shropshire to Royal Australian Navy.

Makes statements on:

  • Proposed meeting with representatives of racing clubs, and use of manpower by sport.
  • War Cabinet approval for the use of vitamised margarine.
  • War Cabinet approval of an agreement with the Australian Red Cross Society for the establishment and management of convalescent homes.
  • War Cabinet prohibition of acceptance of public gifts by members of the forces. 196
Wednesday 9 September House of Representatives

Holds press conference and comments on Admiral King’s [Commander-in-Chief US Fleet 1941-1945] visit to London, saying, ‘”It doesn’t auger much good to us.” He added that King was in London to see how much better Hitler could be fought and Stalin helped.

“It is going to be a long struggle for us to hold this place,” said Mr Curtin with some despondency. “We might have a 100 years’ war.”’

Delivers a stirring speech to the House on the topic of Australia’s place in the context of the war in other parts of the world. Stresses the importance of accepting the fact that Australia cannot rely on assistance from other nations when they are involved in other theatres of war. Then suggests that Australians must be prepared for .'.. constant application to the task of industry.'

Makes statements on:

  • Allotment of quotas to National Savings Campaign Committees.
  • Industrial matters and the inadvisability of allowing a weekend break.
  • Manpower and the release of men from the Army.
Announces that Mr E. J. Harrison has been replaced by Mr McDonald on the Parliamentary Repatriation Committee. 197
Thursday 10 September Canberra
Is 'engaged with a deputation.' 198
Friday 11 September Canberra

Holds press conference which includes off-the-record background on the Madagascar operations pending a de Gaullist representative taking over the civil administration of the island.


  • An austerity order limiting meals supplied to the public in cafes, hotels and the like to three courses.
  • The award of Victoria Cross to Private A S Gurney.

Makes statement on proposal to send a government representative to New Guinea. 199

Top of page


Monday 14 September Canberra

Holds press conference which includes a discussion on the purpose of Sir Owen Dixon’s [Australian Minister to Washington 1942-1944] conference with President Roosevelt:

‘… to impress on him the need for assistance to Australia. Curtin’s words were: “Dixon went to put the same case to Santa Claus as we have been putting up since January.”’

Makes statement on a telegram from King George VI re change of name of HMS Shropshire to HMAS Canberra. 200
c. Monday 14 September - Friday 18 September Canberra

Receives visits from 'union delegates, State Parliamentary delegates, brewery delegates, dairy delegates and lone wolf delegates.'

Receives visit from Arthur Mailey. [Daily and Sunday Telegraph sporting writer and cartoonist, who had been loaned to the government to help organise the Austerity campaign.]

Directs press secretary Don Rodgers 'fit him in somehow; maybe he’ll show me how to throw up a full-toss at some of my problems.' 201
Thursday 15 September Canberra

Makes statement on necessity of preparedness of civilian population for war and austerity.

Tables exchange of telegrams with W O Fairfax concerning membership of the Advisory Committee on Censorship. 202
Wednesday 16 September House of Representatives
Responds to criticisms from the Opposition concerning what they see as inflationary trends in the Budget, by pointing to the necessities of war and to the fact that the budget is similar in structure to that of the Opposition when they were in Government. 203
Thursday 17 September Canberra and House of Representatives

Holds press conference in which he ‘spoke in serious terms and without the touch of humour that invariably lightens his press conferences.’

Receives telephone call from General MacArthur warning that 'Moresby might be lost ' and requesting that General Blamey be sent there to take 'personal control of the battle.'

Attends meeting of Advisory War Council.

Denies that the Commonwealth Bank Board made statement relating to the budget or to the financial policy of the Government.

Defends Director General of Allied Works Council, E G Theodore, and expresses confidence in him.

Makes statements on:

  • Further restrictive action in regard to racing.
  • Compulsory unionism.
  • Inadvisability of using compulsion in recruiting for Volunteer Defence Corps. 204
Friday 18 September Canberra
Holds press conference at which he says that the ‘position in New Guinea was now much more stable. Fighting had died down and our men were in a much stronger position. He thought now that if the ordinary rules held good, we should be able to hold on until we were ready for an offensive.' 205
Monday 21 September Canberra

Holds press conference and announces that America and Britain had ‘rejected our further appeals for aid’.

Curtin said he was ‘”profoundly disturbed” at the replies from the Prime Minister and the President’ and ‘told the whole story today, reading us the secret cables from Bruce, Dixon and Roosevelt, and he is convinced that nothing can alter the decision, and that it would be useless for him to go to Washington. …

The Curtin interview lasted more than an hour. He reiterated that he was “profoundly disturbed” and he seemed glad to talk about his troubles.’

Announces terms of the ₤100,000,000 War and Conversion Loan.

Makes statement on decision by War Cabinet to restrict deliveries of alcohol to services’ messes. 206
Tuesday 22 September Canberra

Telephones General Blamey in Brisbane, reiterating previous order to go to Port Moresby.

[The visit resulted in an altercation between General Blamey and General Rowell, his subordinate, which resulted in General Rowell being relieved of his command.]

Makes statement on Full Cabinet consideration of public holidays and pay rates. 207
Wednesday 23 September Canberra and House of Representatives

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

Makes statements:

  • Criticizing arrangement of a boxing match on a raceless Saturday.
  • Indicating that no Ministry of Reconstruction would be established at this stage.

    And on:
  • Compulsory unionism.

  • Amendments to National Security (Supplementary) Regulations authorizing a State Premier to make provisions to conserve coal supplies.
  • Appointment of Mr T P Hoey as State Publicity Censor in Victoria. 208
Thursday 24 September House of Representatives
Announces re-enactment of regulations concerning the employment of women. 209
Friday 25 September Canberra

Attends annual election of officers of Canberra sub-district of the Australian Journalists Association.

'The sub-district’s secretary checked Curtin’s financial standing in the union, found it in order, and handed him his ballot paper.' 210
Monday 28 September Canberra
Expresses concern regarding maintaining recruitment in professions such as medicine, dentistry, engineering and chemistry. 211
Tuesday 29 September House of Representatives

Holds press conference which includes commentary on New Guinea and in which he reveals:

‘…that some months ago Darwin was 'bashed to pieces' by Japanese bombers. At that time they had reached a position where they would have been able to establish a bridgehead on Australian soil. However, the position had improved since then.’

During the second reading of the Women’s Employment Bill 1942, justifies his decision to continue the operation of the Women’s Employment Board as part of the war effort.

Full text

Expresses thanks to Australian Jockey Club for their consideration in 'coming to Canberra and frankly discussing the twin problem of the best interests of racing and the best interests of Australia in the present crisis.'

Announces awards for gallantry. 212
Wednesday 30 September Canberra and House of Representatives

10.30 am? – 1.15 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and gives:

'a resume of the War position in the Pacific and on other fronts of an interesting and all embracing character.'
[The Australian Army had started a counter-offensive along the Kokoda trail on 25 September.]

Debate on the Women’s Employment Bill continues. Responds to some amendments proposed by the opposition particularly with respect to the composition of the Board. 213
Thursday 1 October House of Representatives

Debate on the Women’s Employment Bill continues. Responds to some amendments proposed by the opposition particularly with respect to the composition of the Board.

Responds to continued questioning with respect to the composition of the Women’s Employment Board.

Makes statements on:

  • Dispatch of parcels to prisoners of war through proper channels.
  • The confidential report by Justice Lowe concerning the first raid on Darwin. 214
Friday 2 October House of Representatives


  • The Commonwealth Bank Bill 1942 referral to a special parliamentary committee.
  • Pending prosecutions in cases of stoppages of work at coal mines. 215
Saturday 3 October The Lodge, Canberra

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of the Curtin Family.  Elsie Curtin with chauffeur Ray Tracey and "Dinah" the dog outside the Lodge 194?  JCPML00376/17
JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Elsie Curtin with chauffeur Ray Tracey and "Dinah" the dog outside the Lodge 194? JCPML00376/17.

Holds press conference which includes comments on army administration in New Guinea, financial arrangements between the British and Australian Governments, and loss of shipping:

‘Since the beginning of the war the Allies have lost about 15 million tons of shipping (Curtin is not so sure if this includes naval losses, but he doesn’t think so.) This is about half the total we started with. He smiles a bit grimly when someone remarked that the old claim had been made again that building was overtaking sinkings.’

Later Curtin:

'Escapes briefly from a pile of official documents and cables' to examine a 'fowlhouse and run which is being built at The Lodge' by “Big Bill Tracey, the PM’s chauffeur, who is also a keen punter” who “elected with a grin to begin the job on Australia’s first raceless Saturday.

The PM sauntered down with a cigarette to view the work, and complimented the perspiring Tracy on his design and architecture.'

Announces Emergency Services appeal for additional voluntary workers. 216

Sunday 4 October The Lodge, Canberra

JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Elsie and John Curtin at Prime Minister's Lodge Canberra, 1942. JCPML00004/28.

First anniversary of prime ministership and Mrs Curtin’s birthday . Celebrates, together with Mrs Curtin, at a “small fireside party”

Makes national austerity loan broadcast.

Full text

'Mr Curtin’s appeal was supported by broadcast addresses from three other Dominion Prime Ministers.' 217

Monday 5 October Canberra
Makes statement on War Cabinet consideration of an interim report from the Minister for Supply and the Minister for Commerce on the vegetable position in Australia. 218
Tuesday 6 October Canberra

Holds press conference which includes an expression of anger at this morning’s Daily Telegraph editorial.

He said it was not much use giving newspapers the “off-the-record” information if they were going deliberately off the track. He said that the newspapers would be sorry if they lost him as a friend as he was the only friend they had in the Labor Party. The Daily Telegraph, he said, was a “nitwit” paper which was doing a great disservice to morale' 219
Wednesday 7 October Canberra
Attends meeting of Full Cabinet at which appreciation of his leadership for the past year was expressed.
Kings Hall, Parliament House

Presents relics of the London blitz of May, 1941, to the Speaker, Mr Nairn, 'for incorporation in the structure of the permanent Parliament House when it is built at Canberra.' … 'Mr Curtin said he regarded the relics as symbolic of the unbreakable tie existing between Australia and Britain.'

Makes statements on Full Cabinet consideration of:

  • A report investigating man-power problems, dairy herds, the level of remuneration to producers and related matters in the dairy industry.
  • A further reduction in newsprint rationing. 220
Thursday 8 October Canberra and House of Representatives

Mrs Elsie Curtin returns to Perth.

Makes statements on:

  • The referral of Constitution Alteration (War Aims and Reconstruction) Bill to a special committee.
  • Denying statement by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions that a change was planned in the basic wage.
Announces secret sessions of Senate and House of Representatives. 221
Friday 9 October House of Representatives

Holds press conference at which there is:

‘an amazing outburst from Curtin against Sir Keith Murdoch over the latter’s article in the Melbourne Herald on Tuesday night in which he assailed Forde as Army Minister, and criticised Curtin’s war policy. He said:

Frankly this attack on Forde is silly and unfair. The basis of it was all wrong and what Sir Keith hopes to gain from it is hard to say. But I say it is no good for public morale. I do not like Sir Keith Murdoch. I do not trust him. He is utterly unscrupulous in the way he conducts his newspapers. … He is full of hot air and witlessness.’

Makes statement on preserving and protecting rights of recognized tradesmen after the war.

Proposes calling Parliament together before Christmas, foreshadows possible earlier sitting.

Adjournment of Parliament. 222

Monday 12 October Sydney Town Hall

Attends public celebration of anniversary of prime ministership at a Australian Labor Party rally.

The audience ‘stood and cheered for several minutes’ on his arrival and when he rose to speak burst into "For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow".

'Curtin used the occasion to repeat his call for austerity, insisting that he was "not going to take men out of the army to make beer."' 223
Wednesday 14 October Canberra

Attends meeting of War Cabinet which approved expansion of Volunteer Air Observer Corps.

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet authorization for Minister for Munitions to acquire and maintain reserve and emergency stocks of goods and materials not directly needed for the munitions production programme.
  • Message received from British High Commissioner for the Western Pacific at Suva confirming reports of murder of missionaries at Guadalcanal.
  • War Cabinet approval of an expansion of the Volunteer Air Observer Corps. 224
Top of page


Thursday 15 October Canberra

Holds press conference.

Pays tribute to merchant navies of the United Nations.

Makes statement re War Council expression of satisfaction on the state of the New Guinea campaign.

Reviews manpower commitments.

Announces gift of £5,000 by the Queen's Canadian Fund to the Canadian Women's Association in Australia to aid war victims. 225
Friday 16 October Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Full Cabinet consideration of a report by the Minister for Commerce on plans for the conservation of fodder.
  • The International Red Cross’s offer of mediation to the British and German Governments in connection with the chaining of prisoners of war.
  • Legality of Women’s Employment Board.
  • The provision of manpower for war purposes.
  • The futility of NSW branch of ALP’s advocacy of an increase in race meetings.

The problems of war “leave me short of time, as it leaves the nation short of resources, to provide more tennis balls and added facilities for betting and drinking. Only dwellers in a world of illusion would think otherwise."


  • Full Cabinet decision to maintain the price of superphosphate for 1942-43 at previous level.
  • Referral by Full Cabinet of report by the Parliamentary Repatriation Committee to a sub committee. 226
Sunday 18 October Canberra


  • The appointment of Mr Beasley as Minister for Shipping.
  • Full Cabinet decision to appoint Mr G T Chippindall as Director-General of the Department of War Organization of Industry. 227
Tuesday 20 October Canberra
Announces definition of powers of Minister for Shipping. 228
Thursday 22 October Canberra-Perth

Arrives in Perth on an “unannounced visit.”

The visit to Perth was very low-key. When he arrived at Perth station he was greeted by just the Premier and a few Labor officials.

'He lunched on a pie and a cup of tea in a small Perth café, unrecognised by locals until a Sydney woman spotted the quiet and plainly dressed patron. He visited his mates at the offices of the Westralian Worker and then "travelled home, tranquilly and unrecognised, in the sixpenny bus which runs from Perth to Fremantle.’". 229
Friday 23 October Perth

Makes statement calling on Australians to observe the first Sundays of November and December, 1942, as Austerity Sundays.

'I put this request for austere ways of living by every Australian on the highest possible grounds of national service. Our present peril demands it.' 230
Saturday 24 October Perth

Attends VDC March through Perth.

Announces that to conserve paper stocks and avoid expenditure no member of the Commonwealth Ministry would issue cards for Christmas, 1942. 231

Tuesday 27 October Perth
Makes statement indicating no objection to the giving of austerity loan bonds or war savings certificates as trophies by sporting and other bodies. 232
Thursday 29 October Perth

Makes statement on comments by General MacArthur that:

'No nation in the world is making a more supreme war effort than Australia. It is rapidly gearing to full capacity. Resources are relatively meagre, but it is utilizing them to the utmost.' 233
Friday 30 October Perth
Announces approval for flags to be flown on Commonwealth buildings on 7 November, 1942, national day of Russia. 234
Monday 2 November Perth
Announces convening of Commonwealth Telegraph Conference in Australia. 235
Tuesday 3 November Perth and Capitol Theatre, Perth

Attends march through Perth on the occasion of the opening of the £1 000 000 Austerity Loan.

Opens Austerity Loan.

Full text

Makes statement on use of military forces outside the Commonwealth of Australia. 236

Wednesday 4 November Perth

With Mrs Curtin, attends the wedding of their daughter Elsie, to Cottesloe dentist, J W Cole.

[Miss Elsie Curtin subsequently married Stan McLeod on 14 May 1945.] 237

c. Thursday 5 November - Saturday 7 November Adelaide

Suffers attack of neuritis on train crossing the Nullarbor and stops in Adelaide to have diathermy treatment.

Speaks at civic reception organised by the Premier of South Australia, Tom Playford. 238
Sunday 8 November Adelaide
Makes statement on successful AIF action in Egypt based on message received from Commander-in-Chief, Middle East. 239
Monday 9 November Adelaide Town Hall
Speaks at loan rally. 240
Tuesday 10 November Adelaide

Makes statement indicating 'absolute confidence' in General MacArthur and Sir Thomas Blamey.

Broadcasts nationally to mark the eve of Armistice Day.

Full text

'… All must share the burdens, all must work and fight if all are to survive. I give you an example. A few days ago I saw a march of the Volunteer Defence Corps through the streets of Perth. Marching gamely and proudly with his mates was a man with a stiff left leg and with practically the whole of his right side paralysed. I hope that man is listening to-night, because to me he was the living evidence of the true spirit of the Australian people. What that man can do, all can do.'241
Wednesday 11 November Adelaide-Melbourne
Against doctors’ advice, takes the night train to Melbourne to address Armistice Day commemoration, and after a 'sleepless night in the sleeperless Adelaide Express,' suffered an attack of neuritis and was forced to cancel all engagements and see a doctor at his hotel.242
Thursday 12 November Melbourne

Makes statements on:

  • Role of censorship.
  • The success of the North African campaign should not lead to any diminution of the war effort.
  • Quoting text of letter praising fighting prowess of division, from the Commander of the 30th Corps in the Middle East to the Commander of the Ninth Australian Imperial Force Division. 243
Friday 13 November Melbourne


  • Resignation of Mr Scullin from the Press Censorship Advisory Committee, and personally takes over chairmanship of that committee.
  • Announces meeting of Parliament on 10 December.

Sends message to Commander of the 30th Corps in the Middle East expressing admiration for handling of offensive.

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet consideration of compensation for members of the women’s auxiliaries.
  • War Cabinet consideration of salvage of materials.
  • War Cabinet consideration of responsibility and eligibility for war graves.
  • War Cabinet decision to gazette a National Security Regulation to enable the effective prosecution of rumour-mongers. 244
Mid November Melbourne
Speaks at Journalists Club luncheon. 245
c. Monday 16 November Melbourne

Attends ALP Conference.

Responds to resolution by Australian Newspaper Proprietors' Association Conference on the suppression of information.

'I know of no suppression in respect of information. If the newspapers expect the commanders to put out elaborate communiqués which would give information to the enemy then I do not regard it as suppression when they do not do so, but as an elementary precaution in planning strategical campaigns.' 246
Tuesday 17 November Melbourne
Makes statement regarding the attack on the Solomons, and expresses gratitude to USA for assistance. 247
Wednesday 18 October Melbourne

Makes statements on:

  • Visit by General Sir Thomas Blamey to New Guinea, and on the New Guinea campaign.
  • Establishment of an Engineering Industry Man Power Committee. 248
Friday 20 November Melbourne

Holds press conference – the first in Canberra for a month. ‘The entire interview was occupied by discussion on the “one army” proposal.'

Makes statements on:

  • Allied offensive and use of militia.
  • International Red Cross efforts to acquire information on prisoners-of-war held by Japan. 249
Monday 23 November Canberra

Holds press conference at which he announces that ‘negotiations for the return of the 9th Division from the Middle East had been successful. The division would return as soon as the date of departure and transport could be arranged.’

Attends meeting of Full Cabinet.

Expresses 'gratitude and appreciation' to President Roosevelt for 'the magnificent services rendered to us by your gallant forces in the battles of the Solomon Islands.' 250
Tuesday 24 November House of Representatives

Opens Federal Constitution Convention and gives speech of welcome on behalf of Commonwealth Government.

Full text

Announces award of Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) to Lieutenant-General Sir Leslie Moreshead, commander of the Ninth Division, Australian Imperial Force, in the Middle East. 251

Wednesday 25 November Canberra
Announces appointment of Mr F W Bulcock, Minister for Agriculture, of Queensland, to the position of Commonwealth Director-General of Agriculture. 252
Thursday 26 November Trades Hall, Sydney

7.30 pm
Attends meeting of NSW executive of the official Labour Party, paying a 'special visit' to Sydney to do so.

By 23 votes to 13 the executive endorsed Curtin’s proposal for more extended use of militia in the South-west Pacific area.
Makes statement on successful action by HMAS Bengal and the Dutch tanker Ondina in the Indian Ocean, against two heavily armed Japanese raiders. 253
Monday 30th November Canberra

Attends Constitutional Convention.

Makes statement on position of Commonwealth Government on Mr Cosgrove’s proposed amendment at Constitutional Convention and clarification of issues.
Trades Hall, Sydney
Attends ALP Conference. 254
Tuesday 1 December Canberra
Sends message to Prime Minister of the Netherlands, and receives message from Queen Wilhelmena, re the tercentenary of the discovery of Tasmania by Abel Tasman. 255
Wednesday 2 December Canberra
Attends Constitutional Convention. 256
Thursday 3 December Canberra

Holds press conference which covers the slowness of the Allied advance in New Guinea. Curtin also replies to complaints of delay in the transmission of press cables.

‘Curtin said that his own cables are held up in some cases by 28 hours. The congestion on the transmission lines both externally and internally was very great. [Postmaster-General] Ashley had told him he didn’t know how the Post Office was going to handle the flood of Christmas greetings.’

Makes statements on:

  • Investigation of Social Security Schemes by Government sub-committee – completion of preliminary survey on all aspects of social planning.
  • Observance of 'Austerity Sundays' and austerity campaign. 257
Sunday 6 December Canberra

Makes national radio broadcast reviewing the events of the last year.

Full Text

'I can promise you no smoother path, no easing of restrictions and deprivations, no departure from the stern demands of duty.'

Makes statement on the policy of the ALP and use of militia in the war with Japan.

'It is not feasible for me to be a good Labour man when I conscript men for Rabaul and New Guinea and to become a `suspect' Labour man when doing the same thing in respect to Timor. As both places are vital to the one strategy of the one cause, they can be met by only one policy.' 258

Monday 7 December Canberra

Holds press conference and replies to:

'whispered comments said to have come from Americans in Australia that Australian tanks were a “joke”. Curtin read from a secret report dated 16 November which showed not only that remarkable progress had been made but that tanks were being made by Australians which were superior to Rommel’s, particularly in gunpower.’

Attends meeting of War Cabinet which gave approval for increases in the rate of subsistence allowance to members of the Army and RAAF living away from home.

Makes statement decrying 'bootleg' bookmaking and betting.

'On a recent Saturday afternoon I was held up on the phone. I was telephoning a State Premier. The call was put in by my staff, which then left. I was working and then noticed that some time had elapsed. I thought the call had been a long time and rang the exchange. I understand that there were 60 calls ahead of me. I learned subsequently that most of them were betting calls. I told the exchange to put everybody off the line. Somebody lost money that day.'

Makes statement on War Cabinet approval of:

  • Compensation for injuries for accredited civilian camoufleurs.
  • Increases in the subsistence allowance to members of the Army and Royal Australian Air Force living away from home.
  • The exhibition in Australia of a collection of war paintings by Australian and British official war artists.

Sends message of appreciation to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek on the first anniversary of the outbreak of the Pacific War, for:

'…the courage and tenacity with which the Chinese armed forces and civil population have resisted the Japanese aggressors for so many years and our confidence in the power and determination of China under your leadership to wage this war to a successful conclusion.' 259
Tuesday 8 December Canberra

Holds press conference which includes comments on reciprocal lend-lease.

Curtin ‘is rather bitter on the subject of New Zealand and its lack of industries. He went through a long list of war materials we have supplied ending with a statement that we supplied practically all the equipment for the New Zealand division abroad. … He thinks the Americans are asking for more than they were supposed to get and more than their own government would expect or want.’ 260
Wednesday 9 December Canberra

Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and makes statement in which he proposes that the conscripted AMF and the AIF should be merged and deployed in the south-west Pacific area, and not merely in Australia.

Top of page

House of Representatives

Receives message of response sending 'warm greetings and good wishes' from Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek of China.

Makes statement on War Cabinet consideration of broadcasting of names of Australian prisoners-of-war by Japanese-controlled wireless stations, 'to induce people to listen to propaganda broadcasts.' 261
Thursday 10 December House of Representatives

At the commencement of a special two day sitting of Parliament to consider the war situation, provides a review of activities in the major theatres of war with particular reference to the implications for Australia.

Moves that his statement on the war be printed.

Makes statements on:

  • Allied war planning.
  • Pacific strategy and the provision of the forces and supplies
Calls emergency meeting of Cabinet to consider the position of the government when a section of the Labour Party attacked his proposal to extend the area of service in the militia. 262
Friday 11 December Canberra

Chairs 'Special meeting' of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

Makes statements on:

  • Personal consideration of the general position of the Allied Works Council.
  • Denying rumours of a planned general election.
House of Representatives

At the conclusion of the special sitting, thanks the Opposition and the members of his own Government for their support in difficult times.

Moved adjournment of House to a date and hour not later than 27th January, 1943. 263
Monday 14 December Canberra
Holds press conference and announces that ‘Churchill has agreed to the Australian Government’s representations for the return of the 9th Division from the Middle East, … [and that] Churchill’s response to the request … [was] “most gracious”. … He remarked that editors should act with great discretion about the 9th Division.’ 264
Tuesday 15 December Canberra

Holds press conference and passes on a message from the British Government:

‘…requesting that Australian editors be asked in confidence not to play up or amplify stories relating to the unshackling of prisoners of war. … The government has some anxiety that too much talk might lead the Germans into a decision not to follow our lead in unshackling war prisoners. … Curtin’s private view is that the British Government has acted very foolishly over this question. The British Government was not entirely blameless in the matter of shackling war prisoners.’

Opens the Telegraph Conference.

Responds to criticism of a decision by the Constitutional Convention to increase powers of Commonwealth in respect to replacement of soldiers, care of their dependants and for the purposes of post-war reconstruction. 265
Thursday 17 December Canberra

Holds press conference and is ‘extremely worried over the shipping position. He read a very illuminating cable from London on the subject.

Attends meeting of War Cabinet.

Makes statement on the use of militia:

'My position as a Labour man is clear and decisive. The Commonwealth Labour Conference decided that the total resources of the nation should be used for the defence of Australia. It decided there should be compulsory service for this purpose.

The defence of Australia is being fought now on an outer screen of islands adjacent to the mainland. Being pledged to defend Australia, I find its defence involves these islands and, therefore, our total resources should be available for that purpose - not some of our resources, but all of them.'

Announces institution in Commonwealth aircraft and munitions factories of joint Production Consultative and Advisory Committees.

Gives personal opinion that 'a National government would be a national tragedy.' 266
Friday 18 December Canberra

Makes statements:

  • Congratulating the country on the 'epochal achievement' of over-subscribing to the £100,000,000 austerity loan.
  • On Full Cabinet approval to increase company’s share of assets in the oil-field at Lakes Entrance (Victoria).
  • On War Cabinet consideration of the Restriction of Employment (Domestic Servants) Order, which aimed “to divert labour-power wastefully employed in domestic service to war activities.”


  • Decision of Full Cabinet to provide £15,000 for an Australian-wide nutritional educational programme during the next twelve months.
  • Decision of Full Cabinet to suspend scheme providing free passages for wives of members of the forces who have married abroad, until after the war.
  • Lifting of prohibitions on the Communist Party and its press. 267
Monday 21 December Canberra

Under National Security Regulations appoints Sir Harry Percy Brown to inquire into the administration of the Allied Works Council.

Announces appointment of Victorian State Censor (Mr T P Hoey) as the censorship authority for films, radio and press.

Makes statement on application of Restriction of Employment (Domestic Servants) Order.

'Is it a fair thing that I should, as a private citizen, commandeer for my exclusive use the services of a person required for the general war effort?

There are people who talk about total war effort, about making sacrifices, so as to enable troops to get additional supplies. The first time you ask them to make those sacrifices, they kick up a fuss.' 268
Tuesday 22 December Canberra


  • Appointment of Mr J B Chifley as Minister for Post-war Reconstruction.
  • Change of name of portfolio of Commerce to Commerce and Agriculture.
  • Government’s adoption of a Tariff Board recommendation that the dairy subsidy be distributed on a flat-rate basis to butter and cheese producers.

Makes statement on Full Cabinet consideration and endorsement of a report on the operations of the Production Executive of Cabinet and of the Department of War Organization of Industry. The report surveyed the measures introduced to organize the Australian economy for war over the twelve months since the establishment of Production Executive.

Presents report on the findings of the Telegraph Conference. 269
Wednesday 23 December Canberra
Makes statement on revision of Restriction of Employment (Domestic Servants) Order, to rectify any legal flaws. 270
Thursday 24 December Canberra

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of the Curtin Family.  Cablegram from SM Bruce to John Curtin, 23 December 1942.  JCPML00398/44
JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family.Cablegram from SM Bruce to John Curtin, 23 December 1942. JCPML00398/44

Announces loss of minesweeper HMAS Armidale.

Receives many seasons greetings from political acquaintances including one from The Rt. Hon S M Bruce, C H, M.P.,

Sends Christmas message to fighting forces. 271

Full Text
Friday 25 December Canberra

'Mrs Curtin and Elsie are at Perth, Jack is at Adelaide & I am at Canberra. Tough!'

Receives letter of thanks from Robert Menzies him for the ‘many personal courtesies ‘ extended to him during the year.

Telephones Mrs Menzies to wish the family ‘a good Xmas’.

Shares Christmas Dinner with seven RAAF men 'in accordance with a precedent set last year.' 272
Wednesday 30 December Canberra
Holds press conference and gives an ‘end-of-year summing-up of the position which indicated our limitations in disheartening fashion and which included the statement that Australia was Churchill’s “forgotten land”.’ 273
Thursday 31 December Canberra

Broadcasts New Year’s message:

Reiterates austerity theme and asking Australians to make selflessness 'the guiding factor in everything that comes to pass', warning that if they did not do so they would 'fail not only ourselves and our children' but would 'fail in the face of an enemy who has no regard for the Christian way of life and all that 1942 years of Christianity has stood for. 'Though seeing “a hard road” ahead he hoped that “with God’s blessing, 1943 will be a better, a more victorious, year than was 1942.'

Receives and responds to messages from:

  • President Roosevelt asking that best wishes and greetings of the season be sent to the armed and auxiliary forces and their families with 'a fervent hope and prayer for a speedy and complete victory and a lasting peace.
  • Mr MacKenzie King extending 'cordial greetings and warm good wishes for the New Year.'

Responds to:

  • A press report that British-Australian relations could be better and that the gift of the Shropshire had not been received as warmly in Australia as it might have been.
  • Positively, a press report urging visit to Australia by British Minister.


  • New Year message asking that:

'The nation, as a new year opens, to take stock of itself and resolve that selflessness shall be the guiding factor in everything that come to pass. For, with that as a basis our strength cannot be denied however the enemy may assail us. But if there be weakness, our prospects in 1943 will diminish.'

Comments on American press statements supporting further United States aid to Australia.

Makes statement on the volume and delivery of Christmas telegrams. 274