Cartoon Sheet Seven

It's simpler
this way

In this guided interpretation you will learn how to 'scaffold' a political cartoon.

Scaffolding is a methodology for cartoon interpretation where the cartoon is built up element by element. By examining one element at a time it is easier to come to a full understanding of the cartoon.

Before you try the guided interpretation activities, here’s some useful contextual information that will help you understand the political situation in Australia leading up to the introduction of Uniform Taxation in 1942.


Australia entered World War Two in September 1939 against Germany and later Italy.
Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941 the United States, Britain, Australia and other allies declared war on Japan.

The Japanese forces captured Singapore on 15 February 1942 and bombed Darwin on 19 February 1942.  Australia was poorly prepared for the sort of war effort required to repel a Japanese invasion. The expenses involved in waging a war against Japan were beyond anything that previous governments might have imagined.  In order to meet the emergency and also to pay for planned post-war social services, the Curtin Government needed to increase national income but this presented it with a constitutional problem. Both the states and the Commonwealth were entitled to collect income tax but at that stage it was chiefly a state power. The rate of tax varied from one state to another as well as between the states and the Commonwealth, resulting in a very complex situation.

The Menzies war time government had put a proposal to the states regarding tax but failed to convince them of the need for change. The Curtin Government put a further proposal to the Premier’s Conference in April 1942 asking the states to refer their income taxing power to the Commonwealth for the duration of the war.  The states summarily rejected the plea on the grounds that it represented an invasion of states’ rights.

As a consequence of the failure to find a suitable solution to the tax issue, the Commonwealth Parliament passed four bills in May and June 1942 that resulted in its total acquisition of income tax (Uniform Taxation) to be levied across the nation at uniform rates as a source of revenue.  The Curtin Government also refused to rule out the possibility that the new arrangements would continue after the end of the war.

The bills survived a subsequent High Court challenge and uniform income taxation, paid only to the Commonwealth, became a settled feature of post-war Australian life.


Sheet One - Focus: Date and Origin

Sheet One

What is significant about the date of the cartoon?

Check answer

Sheet Two - Focus: The Cyclists

Sheet Two

Describe what you see in Sheet Two.

Check answer

What do you think the bicycle and the cyclists represent?

Check answer

Why are three of the cyclists drawn facing the wrong way?

Check answer

Sheet Three - Focus: The Car and the Man Leaning Out

Sheet Three

Who is the man leaning out of the car?

Check answer

What is he trying to say to the cyclists?

Check answer

What does the car represent?

Check answer

Sheet Four - Focus: 'To Victory' Sign

Sheet Four

What is the meaning of the 'To Victory' sign?

Check answer

Why are Curtin and the car drawn going in the same direction as the Victory sign?

Check answer

How does the cartoonist show that the States are going in the wrong direction?

Check answer

Sheet Five - Focus: Sign on the Car Bonnet

Sheet Five

To what does 'Single Federal Tax' refer?

Check answer

Sheet Six - Focus: Sign Above the Cyclists

Sheet Six

What is the meaning of 'States Taxation Handicap'?

Check answer

Sheet Seven - Focus: Caption

Sheet Seven

What does the cartoonist mean by 'It's simpler this way'?

Check answer

Does the cartoon present a positive or negative image of Prime Minister John Curtin? Explain.

Check answer



JCPML Home Page