1. In 1942, what body did John Curtin see as primarily responsible for post war reconstruction?

John Curtin believed that primary responsibility for Post War reconstruction rested with the Commonwealth.

2. As prime minister, what did Curtin vow to do for Australia's armed forces and workers?

John Curtin vowed that the armed forces and workers and their ‘kith and kin’ would be adequately compensated in the post war world for their contribution to the war effort.

3. a. When was the Department of Post War Reconstruction set up? 1942

    b. What does this say about Curtin’s planning for the future?

He believed that you needed a framework for the future and that planning was the key to a better society.

4. List the 3 commissions and the training scheme set up by this department.

Commonwealth Housing Commission
Rural Reconstruction Commission
Secondary Industries Commission
Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme

5. What other changes did Curtin introduce to set the foundations for a fairer post-war Australia?

Brought in the Uniform Taxation system, introduced the Widows’ Pension and Unemployment and Sickness Benefits.

6. Which of these changes do you think was most important? Justify your choice.

The changes to the tax system resulted in a great transfer of power to the central government on a permanent basis – the states challenged the federal government's right to keep control of income tax but lost. Now that the federal goverment had ‘power over the purse’ it was able to carry out major projects in the post war era, like the Snowy Mountains Scheme, which would otherwise never have occurred.

The introduction of a Widows Pension fulfilled Curtin’s promise to look after the ‘kith and kin’ of those that had contributed to the war but also helped to ensure that the loss of a husband did not lead to women and children becoming destitute.

Curtin had lived through two Depressions and he knew what it was like to be unemployed and to live in poverty without any means of sustenance from the government. By introducing Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Curtin hoped to prevent the suffering that Depressions brought.
All the changes were very important but the tax system change was the most extensive in terms of its impact on the whole of Australia and the way in which it changed a fundamental aspect of the constitution.

7. Why was Curtin so concerned about having a social welfare state?

Curtin had grown up in poverty and experienced the effects of unemployment for much of his youth. He believed the federal government should provide the means to protect the poor.

8. Do you think Australia still needs the sort of social welfare programs that existed in the 1940s? Justify your answer.

Many private welfare organizations believe that the federal government has abrogated its role to protect the poor, especially with the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the changes to the Commonwealth Employment Service (now CentreLink). They believe that there is increasing poverty in Australia because of federal government policies. Research shows that the gap between rich and poor in Australia is growing and there have been calls for the federal government to address social welfare issues more effectively. It is therefore possible to argue that Australia does need social welfare programs today but these may be different in their format than those of the 1940s.

9. Study the cartoon The Honeymoon is over and its caption.

    a. Identify the characters in the cartoon and their role in Australian politics.

Man with fair hair: Robert Menzies - Leader of the Liberal Party which was then in Opposition.

Man with dark hair: Arthur Fadden - Leader of the Country Party which formed part of the Opposition.

   b. Suggest a date for the cartoon giving reasons for your choice.

1946. This is a cartoon from the 1946 election campaign. Menzies had set up his new Liberal Party by this time and was trying to offer a real alternative as a government.

  c. Who do you think is in the honeymoon suite?

The Labor Government and its leader Prime Minister Ben Chifley

  d. To what does the caption refer? Put the cartoon in its historical context.

The caption refers to the fact the Labor Party has been in power now since 1941. Menzies believes that is long enough and that they don’t deserve a third term (first term 1941 –43, second term 1943 – 46). This is a 1946 election cartoon suggesting that the Labor Party’s time is up i.e. the honeymoon is over. The war is over now. People want to get on with their lives without all the wartime controls, some of which were still in place.

10. Look at the comic book style cartoon called 1946 Repeats Itself - Chifley Spells Security.
Comment on the following aspects of the cartoon:

   a. Source of cartoon: This is a piece of Labor Party election propaganda.

   b. Target audience:

The target audience is all those people who have benefited from the social welfare policies of the Labor Govt especially families.

   c. Bias: Given the source of the cartoon there is no doubt that it is biased in favour of the ALP.

   d. Purpose:

This is an election cartoon designed to persuade readers to re-elect the Labor Govt on their past record.

   e. Style of presentation and its effectiveness:

The use of the cartoon style is quite appealing. It’s like someone telling you a story and it’s easy to understand. It would appeal to the common man and woman – ordinary working class Australians – the sort of people that Labor traditionally represented and could expect support from. It’s a ‘folksy’ sort of approach that was probably quite effective in it’s day. You didn’t need to be well educated to get the message.

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