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image icon John Curtin meets the Canberra Press Gallery, 1945

John Curtin meets the Canberra Press Gallery, 1945
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is a black-and-white photograph of Prime Minister John Curtin (seated) in his office at Parliament House, Canberra, meeting with members of the Canberra Press Gallery (which was known as 'The Circus') in 1945.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset suggests the good relationship that John Curtin maintained with members of the press - Curtin, who was Prime Minister from 1941 to 1945, is shown seated comfortably in his office at Parliament House with about a dozen members of the Canberra Press Gallery standing, relaxed and smiling, around his desk; Curtin had previously earned his living as a journalist (he was editor of the Western Australian labour newspaper the 'Westralian Worker' from 1917 to 1928); he respected the role of journalists and enjoyed their company.
  • This asset was probably taken at one of the background briefings that Curtin gave, often twice daily, to senior correspondents when he was in Canberra - although time consuming, these meetings allowed Curtin to establish direct conduits for transmitting information to shape news content and editorial opinion; in directly providing information about war strategy and the conduct of war to the upper echelons of the press during the Second World War years, the Government ensured that information vital to the preservation of national security was controlled.
  • This asset shows the Prime Minister's office in Parliament House in the 1940s, along with some of its furnishings - the leather swivel chair, carpet and the panelled wooden desk with telephone, ink blotter, inkwell and document trays are clearly visible; not visible are the blue leather armchairs and settees, the sober, panelled walls, and the wide windows that looked towards the War Memorial.
  • This asset illustrates the formal clothing worn by working professional men in the 1940s - all the men are dressed in suits and ties.
  • This asset indicates that journalism, and particularly political journalism, was a male-dominated profession in the 1940s - all the press representatives meeting with Curtin are men; standing from left to right are Don Whitington ('Daily Telegraph'), Ross Gollan ('Sydney Morning Herald'), an unidentified man, John Corbett ('Argus'), Frederick Smith (Australian United Press), Richard Hughes and Norman Kearsley ('Brisbane Telegraph'), T L Thomas (Australian United Press), Ted Waterman and Joe Alexander (Melbourne 'Herald'), Jack Commins (Australian Broadcasting Commission) and Don Rodgers (Curtin's press secretary).