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John Curtin Prime
Ministerial Library, Records of the Curtin family, Federal Labor Party
1936, JCPML 367/152.
As a member of the ALP, John Curtin represented Australia at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference in 1924 in Geneva, attended numerous party conferences and sat on the Child Endowment Royal Commission and a Committee on Public Works. After he became Leader of the Opposition in 1935, John Curtin became much more vocal in Parliament, stating that Australia should have its own independent foreign policy separate from that of Britain. He spoke on the need for Australia to have its own defence force, as well as about social welfare issues and unemployment.
John Curtin Prime
Ministerial Library, Records of the National Library of Australia,
Leader of the Opposition, John Curtin, Parliament House, Canberra,
1941, JCPML 00438/12.
"I hope that this Parliament will take the initiative in attempting to remove the causes of discontent so that the federation will, in fact, be a union of the Australian people with the central government a coordinating body and the
States regarding themselves as partners with the Commonwealth in ensuring the welfare and happiness of the citizens of Australia. As a believer in the Australian nation and in good government, I am strongly of the opinion that this Parliament must take steps to give effect to the hopes and aspirations of the Australian people when federation was consummated. The Australian federation was a statesmanlike attempt to obtain uniformity, where uniformity is necessary or desirable, and at the same time to preserve the autonomy of the States in regard to certain domestic activities ..."
(Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol.147, 16 October,1935, p.740)
Extract from oral history of Frederick Mann, acquaintance of John Curtin
In his report to the Prime Minister, Curtin pointed out that the Australian delegation laboured under a number of difficulties. Having no support staff, they were unable to attend many of the committees where matters relevant to Australia were discussed. In contrast to Australia's ill-prepared delegation, the four British delegates had the benefit of 27 support staff. He concluded his report by saying:
of delegates from 40 countries ... meeting on a common platform to
consider proposal for the more humane regulation of industry possesses
a moral significance of immense value to civilisation. It is a great
and a big thing that the subjects associated with work and wages,
unemployment, and industrial amelioration generally, should be regarded
the world over as a definite part of the problem of universal peace;
it is, furthermore, an immense step forward for the nations to solemnly
contract with each other to remove such obstacles as stand in the
way of a general improvement of the standard of life which the workpeople
of the respective countries have to endure."
John Curtin Prime
Ministerial Library, Records of the National Library of Australia, John
Curtin at ILO Conference Session, Geneva, 1924, JCPML 00438/17
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Records of the Curtin family, John Curtin speaking at opening of South Beach, Fremantle, c.1930s, JCPML 00376/160
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Records of the Curtin family, Advisory War Council 1940, JCPML 00376/71.
John Curtin presenting
trophy to Arthur Atkinson at the Claremont speedway.