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image icon Excerpt from an interview with Frederick Mann, 1997

Excerpt from an interview with Frederick Mann, 1997
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is an excerpt (approximately 3 minutes) from a 1997 oral history interview with Labor supporter Frederick Mann, in which he recalls John Curtin's 1934 election campaign in the Western Australian federal seat of Fremantle.

transcript iconA transcript is available for this resource.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset reveals something of how election campaigns were conducted in Australia in the 1930s - in these pre-television years, politicians carried out much of their campaigning face to face, with candidates presenting their policies at public meetings; Frederick Mann's father was a staunch Labor supporter and campaign manager for John Curtin (1885-1945, Prime Minister 1941-45) in the 1934 election in the federal seat of Fremantle; Mann recalls going to hear 'Jack' Curtin speak at the Mosman Park Town Hall.
  • This asset illustrates how political advertising was organised in the 1930s - Mann recounts how, as a young boy, he helped to paste election posters at eye level on power poles on street corners at night, and how the town crier with his 'great big bell' and 'tremendous voice' would spread the word about the campaign speeches in a voice that 'would carry hundreds of yards', calling out 'Oyez, oyez, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Jack Curtin will lecture to you people in the Mosman Town Hall at 8 o'clock on Friday night'.
  • This asset indicates that Curtin's 1934 election campaign focused on economic issues and policies - Mann recalls that one of Curtin's favourite phrases was 'fiduciary issue', a term relating to confidence in the government in the issue of flat money; at the time, Australia was in the grip of the Great Depression, with unemployment high and the economy stagnant; Curtin was an early follower of the economist Maynard Keynes and advocated banking reform, employment-creation programs and radical credit-creation policies as remedies.
  • This asset relates to the 1934 federal election in Fremantle - Curtin, a former newspaper editor, won the seat of Fremantle for Labor in 1928, only to lose it three years later to United Australia Party candidate William Watson, in an election that saw the landslide defeat of the Scullin Labor government; when Watson retired in 1934, Curtin won the seat once more, despite a spirited challenge by conservative candidate Florence Cardell-Oliver; Curtin then held the seat until his death in office in 1945.