John Curtin's Legacy: Leading Australia from War to Peace

In some senses John Curtin, Australia’s wartime prime minister, stands as the first of the modern leaders. His focus on a more independent Australia and his ideas for social welfare in the postwar economy have become the foundation for contemporary Australian politics. It was John Curtin’s government which put in place the mechanisms for federal control and instigated policies which allowed Australia to participate in the global economy.

This exhibition follows Australia's progress from 1942, the most critical year of the war, when Prime Minister Curtin 'looked to America' for help, until 1951 when the ANZUS Treaty was signed. It explores the Curtin Government's initiatives in areas including the economy, immigration and foreign policy and how these developed in the postwar years under Ben Chifley (1945 to 1949) to form the foundations of modern Australia.

View exhibition brochure (232 kbyte pdf file)

Foreign Policy
Aliens to Australians


Virtual Tours of Original Exhibition
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Image: Victory celebrations in Brisbane. Courtesy Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria: Accession No. H98.101/362
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Published by John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library © 2005