Diary of a Labour Man

1943 Prime Minister
Friday 1 January


Holds press conference in which discussion includes British/Australian relations, supplies for the Pacific theatre and Pacific war strategy.

Spends a ‘full day and two full nights’ with his son, Corporal John Curtin, RAAF, who has just been posted to a battle station. 1

Monday 4 January Canberra

Makes statement on Christmas, New Year holidays and annual leave for 1942-43. 2

Tuesday 5 January Canberra
  Makes statement on facilitating transfers from the Militia to the AIF. 3
Monday 4 January –
Tuesday 5 January
  Attends ALP Conference as delegate from Western Australia. 4
Wednesday 6 January Canberra?

Announces intention to take action on ‘bootleg’ bookmakers. 5

Thursday 7 January Canberra

Receives deputation seeking ‘repeal of ban on Pleasant Sunday Afternoon broadcasts from Wesley Church.’

Presents report on review of manpower commitments by the War Commitments Committee.

Announces promotion to admiral of Vice-Admiral Sir Guy Royle. 6
Friday 8 January Canberra

58th birthday.

Confers with Postmaster General Senator Ashley.

Meets Premier of Victoria, Mr Dunstan. 7
Saturday 9 January Canberra

Announces arrival in Australia of Major-General R H Dewing, head of a small liaison staff of British Army and Royal Air Force officers. 8

Monday 11 January Canberra
  Sends teleprinter message to General MacArthur congratulating him on the victory in New Guinea. 9
Thursday 14 January Canberra
  Extends congratulations on behalf of the Australian Government to Mr French on the award of a VC to his son, Corporal J A French. 10
Friday 15 January Canberra

Meets with General Blamey and has a long conference with him on ‘the position in the north.’

Holds press conference which includes discussion of the war ‘in the north’. Curtin maintains that:

‘We would be in a pretty pickle if the AIF had not come back. If they had gone to Burma or to some other places that were mentioned, this country could well have been lost.’


  • Full Cabinet decision to appoint Dr H C Coombs as Director-General of Post-War Reconstruction.
  • Resignation of Mr W James as WA State Censor and the appointment of G Casey, G Lynch and V M Evans-Jones as censorship authorities in WA.

Makes statements on:

  • Full Cabinet consideration of report of the Commonwealth Telegraph Conference and adoption of the recommendations of the conference by the Commonwealth Government.
  • Australian representation at the Dominion Trades Union Congress.
  • Proposed referendum and parliamentary discussion of period of time powers of the Commonwealth should be increased to 'deal with a special group of problems.' 11
Saturday 16 January Canberra

Attends meeting of Full Cabinet which discussed labour shortages and manpower.

Announces Full Cabinet approval of the formation of a labour corps of enemy aliens.

Makes statements on:

  • Full Cabinet decision to continue policy of price reduction to stimulate sale of wheat for stock food.
  • Full Cabinet consideration and approval of changes in organisation and administration of the Australian Women’s Land Army.
  • War Cabinet review of manpower position. 12
Monday 18 January Canberra

Holds press conference which includes discussion on censorship. Also:

‘Mr Curtin revealed that the United States is sending out to Australia an army commander of staff and an admiral with amphibian experience. He did not know whether to hope that this might be a prelude to an increase in American strength in this area.’

Reviews war commitments, manpower and the utilization of resources.

Expresses thanks to General Blamey and the men under his command for their heroism and devotion to duty during New Guinea campaign.

‘They have stood between the enemy and Australia with a heroism and devotion to duty under difficulties greater than fighting men have ever previously faced. We owe to them the fact that in our great cities, our women and children, need not look to the sky with fear and anxiety.’

Makes statement on the attack on Broome.

‘The story of Broome is a lesson for all Australia. It gives, in arresting starkness, an indication of what full-scale attack on this country could mean. There is no consolation in the fact that this happened months ago. It is true that the desperate situation of months ago has been changed now to one of great defensive capacity, but the line of Japanese-occupied islands still stands astride us. That is Australia's battle-line to-day. To hold that line, so that there will be no more Broomes, so that our soil will remain inviolate, must be our abiding preoccupation.' 13
Tuesday 19 January Canberra
  Holds press conference which includes discussion on torpedoed vessels, the proposal to set up an Allied Associate War Council, and the situation in China. 14
Wednesday 20 January Canberra

Holds press conference which includes a report on the loss of the steamer Kalingo. Curtin also said that:

‘… all his submissions were in the right hands for consideration by Churchill and Roosevelt at their meetings. He had no further information,’ and also ‘revealed that the “highest influences” were behind the proposed Dominion Trade Union Congress.' 15
Thursday 21 January Canberra

Holds press conference.

Reviews war commitments, manpower and machinery. 16
Monday 25 January Canberra

Holds press conference and says that:

‘… he did not think that even Churchill’s War Cabinet knows of Churchill’s meeting with Roosevelt, which is now taking place. Curtin said he had this from the best source. He thought it was poor commentary on the democratic war organisation when Churchill and Roosevelt met to discuss major strategy apparently without Cabinet direction. He said Bruce had picked up word of the meeting from some undisclosed source.’ 17
Tuesday 26 January Canberra

Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, which, after dealing with some business is adjourned until 8 pm.

Attends meeting of Full Cabinet, which ‘enormously enlarged the powers of the Director-General of Man-Power, Mr Wurth.’

Broadcasts Australia Day message over Australian national and commercial stations and USA stations. The broadcast was also made available to the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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Argues that the south-west Pacific ‘was too crucial to be left to a force of caretakers,’ and stating that, ‘the whole history of war is a record of the inability to strike at a time when the enemy would have suffered most.’

Makes statement on Full Cabinet consideration and review of war commitments and manpower.

Receives Australia Day message from Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek of China.

8.5 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party which is adjourned at 11 pm until 10.30 am on 28 January. 18

Wednesday 27 January House of Representatives

Following a brief statement concerning changes to the Cabinet, outlines details of a meeting between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain to discuss plans for the conduct of the war. Then proceeds to propose a motion concerning war policy. In particular, raises the issue of repatriation of service personnel and the care of dependants of those killed or disabled in the war. In addition, raises general questions relating to the use of resources and manpower to assist the war effort.

Moves and speaks to a motion concerning unity to the British Commonwealth, pride in the achievements of the armed forces and determination to achieve victory.

Responds to interjections by members of the Opposition during statement on the state of the war:

‘If members of the Opposition do not wish to hear what I have to say, it is open for them to follow a certain course, and I invite them to do so. Let them follow the course open to any Opposition in order to effect a change of government if that is what they wish. The state of the country is such that an Opposition which has not the courage to challenge the Government has no right to obstruct it. If the Opposition does not propose to take steps to terminate the existing situation in this Parliament they owe it to the country to make Parliament a workable instrument of democratic government. I wish to make it quite plain that I asked only for a clear and straight issue. The Opposition has as much right as any other party in this Parliament to move motions of whatever nature it thinks proper, and it can vote if it so chooses to turn the Government out of office. If it does not take the course which might lead to the assumption by it of responsibility for the government of the country, then it owes it to the country to make certain that Parliament behaves itself when it sits.’

Tables communiqué concerning the meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt in Casablanca.


Makes statements:

  • On the dangers of complacency and difficulties with supplies in the war with Japan.

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  • Detailing total casualties in fighting forces from the beginning of the war until the 31st December, 1942. 19

Thursday 28 January Canberra

Holds press conference and reads operational report on Japanese concentrations in the north of Australia, and expresses the view that ‘the fact that the Japs had been outfought in New Guinea would lead them to bring in their best troops for the next effort.’

10.38 am – 12.55 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

Makes statement of congratulations and sympathy to the families the late Sergeant Kibby and the late Private Gratwick, part of:

‘the spearhead of the recent allied attack against Rommel. Such gallantry is beyond the realm of mere words. To the families of these gallant men, I offer the congratulations and sympathy of the Australian Government for, I am confident, they will be comforted by the fact that all Australia will join with them in their pride and grief.’ 20
Friday 29 January House of Representatives

Introduces the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill, to authorize the Service of Members of the Citizen Military Forces to the South-western Pacific Zone for the duration of the present war.

Requests the Trade Union movement for names of representatives for Trade Union Advisory Panel. 21
Saturday 30 January Canberra
  Makes statement concerning extension of compensation scheme for members of the Civil Constructional Corps.22
Monday 1 February House of Representatives
  Tables text of letters sent to Premiers of each state concerning police powers and ‘bookleg’ bookmakers. 23
Tuesday 2 February Canberra

Holds press conference which incudes Curtin embarking on:

"‘… a long and rambling discourse after being asked to comment on the Opposition criticism of the omission of Malaya from the South-West Pacific area.

… Reverting to the war, Curtin said it would outlast him and a good many other people. He was asked if he meant it would outlast him politically, or in fact. He did not answer directly, but pointed out that he had been leader of the party for 7½ years, a fact which meant a bit of a strain.

Curtin said: “Look at Churchill. He has only to consider higher strategy. I have other jobs. Even though Chifley spares me as much as possible..."' 24
Wednesday 3 February House of Representatives

Moves the second reading of the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill 1943. This bill is designed to override the previously restrictive limitations on the compulsory sending of Australian forces overseas contained in the Defence Act and the National Security Act. Proposes that Australian forces may be required to serve in the South West Pacific Area.

Tables two communiqués concerning an engagement between United States and Japanese forces near the Solomons.

Makes comment on a report that the Legislative Council of Tasmania had rejected the Powers Bill. 25
Thursday 4 February Canberra

Holds press conference which included comments on a story in the Daily Telegraph which described reports of Japanese concentrations in the north as ‘all hooey’.

Curtin ‘had the cutting from the Daily Telegraph and relevant War Council documents before him. He opened out on the Telegraph man and, addressing everybody, said that if his information was not believed he could serve no purpose by continuing to give it. He was very angry, but quietened down towards the end of the interview.’

10.30 am? – 1.26 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. 26

Saturday 6 February Canberra

Makes statement concerning the Premier of SA, Mr Playford and the regulation of racing:

‘The Premier of South Australia (Mr. Playford) is humbugging himself. He has had the power to regulate racing not only since National Security (Racing Control) Regulations have been operating but the Parliament of South Australia has had the power during the whole of the history of Federation. … I am not going to be put into the position of chiding other Premiers in order to express admiration of Mr Playford. His attitude appears to be that in the other States the Premiers do not know how to handle racing.’ 27

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Monday 8 February Canberra

Holds press conference.

‘Curtin sent out a special call to the roundsmen this afternoon to talk to him. He mentioned the attacks on Fadden particularly in the Daily Telegraph. He was particularly bitter about the Telegraph. He said that Fadden’s stand in favour of the Militia Bill followed reading to War Council last week of the Casablanca cables. These showed that there was to be no change in the “beat Hitler first” policy and that Australia must hold on. … Curtin said that the attacks on Fadden were unfair…' 28
Tuesday 9 February Canberra
  Expresses sympathy to the family of Private Kingsbury, second VC of the New Guinea campaign. 29
Wednesday 10 February Canberra
  Makes statement on the powers of the Chief Publicity Censor. 30
Thursday 11 February Canberra

Holds press conference at which it was announced that the first echelon of American army corps had arrived in Australia. ‘Curtin is very reticent about these troops. He won’t say anything about them for the time being.’

10.30 am? – 12.10 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and makes a statement on the position in New Guinea and other adjacent centres, also a comprehensive statement on all fronts throughout the World.

Announces release from the Army of General Manager, ABC Lieutenant-Colonel C J A Moses, to resume ABC duties. 31
Monday 15 February Canberra


  • War Cabinet appointment of Mr Gavin Long as general editor and editor records in connexion with the official history of Australia's part in the present war.
  • New terms of reference for West Australian Industry Expansion Commission.
Makes statement on War Cabinet approval of employment of refugee and enemy aliens by Allied Works Council. 32
Tuesday 16 February Canberra
  Makes statement on Full Cabinet approval to amend the Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act to make voting provision for members of the forces serving within and outside the Commonwealth. 33
Wednesday 17 February Canberra

Attends meeting of the War Cabinet.

  House of Representatives

Replies to questions concerning preference in employment for essential service workers and returned soldiers.

Denies Australian Comforts Fund request for concession on the payment of excise duty on tobacco and cigarettes.

Makes statements on:

  • Withdrawal of essential services, particularly in relation to stoppage by slaughtermen at Homebush (NSW) abattoirs.
  • Problems of manpower in rural industry.
Gives direction that flags be flown on Commonwealth buildings on the 23 February, 1943, the anniversary of the foundation of the Red Army. 34
Thursday 18 February Canberra

Makes statement on granting franchise to servicemen from the ACT.

Replies to a question by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Fadden) that he has no knowledge of misuse of information by members of the Australian Advisory War Council. 35
Friday 19 February Canberra

Issues proclamation that any member of the Citizen Military Forces may be required to serve in the South-Western Pacific Zone as specified by proclamation.

Makes statements on:

  • Air raid alarms at Sydney and Port Kembla.
  • South Australian amendment to Powers Control Bill.

Walks back to The Lodge after work:

‘… stops and chats to a woman in a bus shed. Learns that her child is 21 days old and by law registration should be made that day. Brings a car from The Lodge and takes the woman to the registrar of births a few minutes before closing time. The child is registered with Mr Curtin as a “distinguished witness.”’ 36
Wednesday 24 February Canberra

Holds press conference which includes reports of a plane over Sydney on Friday night, which resulted in sirens being sounded to prevent people being hurt by shrapnel.

‘Curtin was told of rumours in Sydney that the warning was a scare. He expressed disgust. … The 9th Division has arrived in Fremantle [and] …Curtin believes that the Jap plane on Friday night was looking into Sydney and along the coast to see whether these troops had arrived.’

10.30 am? – 1.15 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

  House of Representatives

Makes further statement and statement in Parliament on air raid alarms at Sydney and Port Kembla.

Announces second visit by Dr Evatt to London and Washington.

Makes statement on consideration of personal visit overseas. 37
Thursday 25 February Parliamentary Dining Room, Canberra
JCPML. Records of Frederick McLaughlin. John Curtin with Frederick McLaughlin, 1944. JCPML00129/20.

During adjournment of Parliament attends Moral Rearmament revue, Battle for Australia under the direction of Ivan Menzies.

Comments that he thinks the show had an important contribution to make to raising morale and that he wanted all Australians to see it quickly.

[Fred McLaughlin, Curtin’s secretary, was a committed member of the Moral Rearmament Movement. He ‘was a meticulous person and dotted every “i” and made sure everything was done’. ‘He was one of these people who were always doing.... at least expecting you to do good deeds and live a better life than you were living and so he used to leave notes for us all round saying how we could make our lives better.’ He was seen as a ‘strange man. … a very genuine sort of a fellow’ who tried to get his friends in the Moral Rearmament Movement behind the war effort.

‘This religious zealotry, and his membership of the Mural Rearmament Movement, led him to try and encourage Curtin back towards Christianity, although with limited success.’]38
Friday 26 February Canberra

Holds press conference and gives assurance that there will not be an early election.

  House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • Australian representation at Dominion Trades Union Congress, to be held in London.
  • Clarifying position of the Commonwealth in regard to the proposed transfer of powers by the States to the Commonwealth Parliament.
  • Return of Australian of Minister in Washington (Sir Owen Dixon) to report and confer with the Commonwealth Government.

Announces approval of King for retention of name Shropshire by new cruiser presented to Australia by British Government. 39

Saturday 27 February Canberra

Makes statement reiterating that Dr Evatt would return to Australia after his overseas visit.

‘The statement that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr Evatt) may not return to Australia is an utter fabrication.’

Announces the exchange of High Commissioners between the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments, and the appointment of Mr C A Berendsen as High Commissioner for New Zealand in Australia. 40
Tuesday 2 March Canberra

Attends meeting of War Cabinet, which decides to ‘constitute a reconstruction training committee to deal with problems involved in the training, for ultimate return to civil life, of members of the fighting services.’

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet decision on payment of deferred pay to members of the Women's Auxiliary Services.
  • War Cabinet decision to continue paying allotments and dependents’ allowances on the present basis, in respect of missing members of the forces.
  • War Cabinet consideration of, and action on, report into forces educational services.
Announces terms of the Third Liberty Loan. 41
Wednesday 3 March House of Representatives
  Comments on unacceptability of Fadden’s amendment to the Income Tax Assessment Bill. 42
Thursday 4 March Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.25 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

  House of Representatives


  • Victory in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, quotes communiqué from General MacArthur and his response.
  • Presence of Spitfire squadrons in Australian battle areas.
  • Pending prosecutions for absenteeism in the textile industry. 43
Sunday 7 March Melbourne
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of West Australian News Ltd.  Mr Curtin speaks at Caulfield rally, 8 March 1943.  JCPML00409/7 JCPML. Records of West Australian News Ltd. Mr Curtin speaks at Caulfield rally, 8 March 1943. JCPML00409/7
Addresses – giving a ‘War Loan lesson’ - more than 20 000 people at Caulfield at a ceremonial parade, after the Australian flag, with an appropriate inscription, had been presented to a US serviceman’s band on behalf of Caulfield citizens. 44
Monday 8 March Melbourne
  Delays departure for Canberra as he was ‘feeling a little weary.' 45
Tuesday 9 March House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • Limited air strength and its achievements in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.
  • Post-war nutrition and food policies. 46
Wednesday 10 March House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • Honesty of governments in payment of interest on public loans.
  • Difficulties concerning resolution by ACTU on Australian representation at Dominion Trades Union Congress.

‘It is a little incongruous that a Labour Prime Minister, who has been a trade unionist for 40 years, according to the terms of the ACTU resolution, is disbarred from having a representative at the Congress. I am not a member of any organization affiliated with the ACTU. I do not think the ACTU can impeach my trades union position or record. It seems to me to be a little silly that 100,000 men in the AWU have no right to be heard at the London gathering. Cabinet will decide the matter.’

  • Report by Coal Commission that 27 collieries were idle.

‘I look at this report with great distress and with bitter disappointment. The mere existence of such a report is a condemnation. I do not know the causes which have contributed to any of the stoppages, or whether some of them are, from the point of view of those participating in them, justified or not.

As head of the Government, I regard stoppages on the coalfields at this time, whatever the cause, as something which does infinite mischief to Australia's capacity to wage war.’

Quotes text of letter from General MacArthur written in response to congratulations for victory in Battle of Bismarck Sea. 47
Thursday 11 March House of Representatives
  Makes statement on Allied aid to Russia. 48
Monday 15 March Canberra

Radio broadcast opening the Third Liberty Loan. 49

full text

Tuesday 16 March Canberra

10.30 am? – 2.20 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and tables text of letter to Mr Fadden concerning Income Tax Bill. Meeting adjourned at 2.20 pm.

  House of Representatives

Moves motions concerning Income Tax Bill. Quotes text of letters to Fadden concerning Bill.

7.8 pm – 7.30 pm
Chairs resumed meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. 50

Wednesday 17 March House of Representatives

Holds press conference and ‘has been reticent on background information for some weeks now. This follows his angry outburst against a certain paper which, after learning what the real position was, wrote editorials which were contrary to fact.’

Makes statements on:

  • Report on absenteeism by the Department of Labour and National Service.
  • Government approval of appointment of small body of experts to make a factual survey of medical and hospital services throughout Australia. 51
Thursday 18 March House of Representatives

Announces overseas mission to study data and methods of production of modern war aircraft.

Makes statement on the Brisbane Line in response to article in The Argus (Melbourne) 18 March 1943. 52
Friday 19 March House of Representatives
  Makes statement quoting letter from, and response to, Leader in the Senate on the granting of, and a misunderstanding over, the granting of pairs. 53
Wednesday 20 March Canberra

Establishment of record by the Curtin Government of 529 days without a change in personnel or of portfolios.

[The Government was sworn in on 7th October, 1941. The record was held by the second Fisher Government, which was sworn in on 29th April, 1910. The first change came after 528 days on 8th October, 1911. The Fisher Government then remained intact until the elections - a further 611 days.]

Announces amendment to National Security (Meat Industry Control) Regulations, making provision for the control of the meat industry by the appointment of a Controller of Meat Supplies and a Meat Advisory Committee. 54
Tuesday 23 March Canberra

Holds press conference in which he states he is:

‘profoundly disappointed at the number of subscriptions so far lodged for the Third Liberty Loan’.

He also expresses disappointment at a speech by Churchill in which he ‘disposed of the Far East in a few sentences.’ … [and said] ‘he regarded Churchill’s speech as a direct intimation to the Australian people that there was a long struggle ahead of them.’

Makes statement supporting Stevedoring Industry Commission scheme for operation of Port of Sydney.

Announces safe arrival in Australia of Ninth Division of AIF. 55

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Wednesday 24 March Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.30 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party in which:

‘An argument developed on a statement made by Mr Calwell [on the conscription issue], as a result of which the PM retired from the meeting.

Mr Forde took the Chair; He then read a letter from the PM as follows:

Dear Mr Forde

In view of the accusation made against me by Mr Calwell, i.e. “that I will finish up on the other side (the anti-Labor side) leading a National Government”, I invite the party either to dissociate itself from the accusation or appoint another leader. Obviously, if the charge has a semblance of justification, the party is in an invidious position in entrusting its leadership to a potential traitor.

Yours faithfully
John Curtin

Mr Calwell withdrew the statement he had made and expressed regret for what had occurred.’

Announces publication of booklet The Job Australia is Doing.

Makes statements on:

  • Allied offensive and supplies in relation to comments by British Prime Minister. Stresses importance of maintaining the war effort.
  • The supply of labour for the production of strategic minerals.
Announces Military Forces (Women's Services) Regulations and National Security (Women's Services) Regulations containing special provisions necessary to establish and regulate the women's services of the Army. 56
Thursday 25 March Canberra

10.30 am? – 12.30 pm
Chairs ‘Special meeting’ of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, and submits:

‘… a Bill for consideration of the Party giving Preference of employment in the Commonwealth Public Service to various bodies mentioned serving in the War and asked leave to introduce the Bill this day. After explaining the Bill he moved the adoption of the submission. Seconded by Senator Amour. Carried.’

Outlines the planning being undertaken on the production of food, the rationing of certain items, the export of foodstuffs to Great Britain and the requirements of the armed forces.
  House of Representatives

Presents the Commonwealth Public Service Bill 1943, which is designed to give preference to returned soldiers in public service employment. The provisions of the Bill are explained and questions responded to.

Makes statement on deferral by the Senate of a bill on electoral rights.

‘I regard it as contemptuous treatment and abuse of the parliamentary institution. This seems to be a device which is a compromise between postponement of a bill for six months - which is tantamount to the rejection of a bill - and the period which is a sanctuary for the Senate. Furthermore, it does not leave any pretence of the Government being in control of the order in which business shall be dealt with or the days on which Parliament shall meet. I do not think there is a similar instance on record in the annals of the Parliament. It is a clear case of nineteen men trying to control 110.’

Reviews problems of food supply and price control. 57

Friday 26 March Canberra

Chairs ‘Special meeting’ of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

In Parliament – makes statement on Senate’s attitude to preference in employment.

Makes statement on the valued work of Mr Nelson T Johnston, United States of America Minister in Australia. 58
Sunday 28 March Canberra
  Speech asking for support for the Third Liberty Loan. 59
Monday 29 March Canberra

Opens the Annual Congress of the Canberra Branch of the Returned Soldiers’ League.

‘”Australia’s immediate task is to build her strength in a struggle for sheer survival,” Mr Curtin said.’" 60

Tuesday 30 March Canberra
  Holds press conference.
  House of Representatives

Makes statements:

  • Concerning Stevedoring Industry Commission scheme, the cessation of work and the employment of troops.
  • On the disappointing progress subscription to the Third Liberty Loan. 61
Wednesday 31 March Canberra

10.30 am? – 1 pm
Chairs ‘Special meeting’ of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. Makes statement and moves a motion concerning ‘present position on the suggested amendment to the Repatriation Act granting preference to Soldiers’.

  House of Representatives

Discusses the amendment proposed to the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill 1943 concerning preferential employment for returned soldiers. Discusses in detail the definition of a returned soldier, and the categories of people who would be given preferential employment.

Continues to respond to particular criticisms concerning the categories of people who shall qualify for preferential employment. 62
Thursday 1 April House of Representatives

Following a slow response to the Third Liberty Loan, makes an impassioned plea for Australians to ensure the success of this fundraising loan.

full text

Moves that the amendment of Senate’s amendment concerning preference in employment, be not pressed. (Carried). 63

Saturday 3 April Canberra

JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Liberty Bonds - double decker buses in Sydney depicting Churchill and Curtin, March 1943. JCPML00376/130

Announces pleasing progress of subscriptions to the Third Liberty Loan. 64
Wednesday 7 April Canberra
  Makes statement on proposals for an International Clearing Union. 65
Thursday 8 April Canberra

Announces arrival in San Francisco of Dr H V Evatt and the Director of Post-War Reconstruction, Dr H C Coombs.

Makes statement on war in the Pacific, on the anniversary of the fall of Bataan. 66
Friday 9 April Canberra

Sends telegram to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Ward) that:

‘In view of refusal of men in the protected industry of wharf-labouring at the Port of Sydney to continue at their work as prescribed, I desire you take steps to have their reserved position cancelled as from Monday at noon; they to be available thereupon for direction in accordance with the law. Inform union's officers accordingly.’

[On 12 April, 1943, the members of the Waterside Workers' Federation voted by ballot and decided to resume work.]

Makes statement on War Cabinet adoption of recommendations by Reconstruction Training Committee on a reconstruction training scheme for members of the forces. 67
Saturday 10 April Melbourne

Holds press conference at which he was:

‘…very scathing about the off-the-record story which the Sun ran about Kenney [Deputy Commander and Commander, Allied Air Force, South-West Pacific Area, 1942-1945]. He said the papers might as well tell Tojo everything. He was sick of it. He wondered if offices instructed employees to disregard all censorship instructions. He regarded the Sun’s offence as a serious breach, and he was disappointed that information which he provided to enable newspaper editorial writers to be well informed should have been disclosed.’

  Brunswick, Victoria
Watches cricket match between sub-district team and Williamstown. 68
Sunday 11 April Melbourne

Makes national broadcast together with the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Forde, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Fadden, and the Deputy Leader, Mr Hughes, appealing for support for the Third Liberty Loan. 69

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Monday 12 April Melbourne
  Gives analysis of those engaged in war occupations. 70
Tuesday 13 April Melbourne Town Hall

Speaks at War Loan Rally.

“Fill the loan, or else….”
The WAAF choir and the US Service band provided musical entertainment.

Makes statement on recommendation by Commonwealth Prices Commissioner for an increase in subsidy for the dairy industry. 71
Wednesday 14 April Melbourne

Attends meeting of War Cabinet at which it was decided that occupation by the services of certain schools in the Melbourne metropolitan area must continue for the present.

Makes statements on:

  • Exchange of prisoners between Britain and Italy.
  • Japanese air strength and activity.
  • War Cabinet consideration of the occupation of schools for services purposes.
The Government’s prices stabilization plan and policy. 72
Thursday 15 April Melbourne

Holds press conference and reviews the position in the South-west Pacific as presented to War Council and War Cabinet in the past few days.

full text


  • Special survey of incidence of malaria amongst troops, to be conducted by Sir Earle Page.
  • Establishment of a Food Executive, to control production, control and distribution of foodstuffs.
Defends the constitution of the Prices Stabilization Committee against accusations that it is unsatisfactory and cannot be upheld. 73
Sunday 18 April Melbourne

Broadcasts in support of the Third Liberty Loan.

Makes statement on production and distribution of food and the role of the Food Executive. 74
Thursday 22 April Perth

Travels to Perth by train.

‘As his train proceeded across the Nullarbor, it passed a train crowded with troops who, on hearing that Curtin was aboard, called out “Where’s John? Bring out old John!” Curtin was enjoying the comforts of the Railway Commissioner’s carriage which had been made for a visit in 1921 by the Prince of Wales. It had two bedrooms, a bunk room and a big dining room and kitchen, and came with a chef and waitress. When Curtin appeared on the observation platform, “he was subjected to a volley of cheers. At one station, he came across troops playing a game of two-up, who stopped when they saw him. But he indicated that they should continue playing.”

A small staff went with him, collecting cables that were usually waiting at each stopping place of the train and had to be decoded and typed up for Curtin.’ 75

Find out more about John Curtins railway journeys by exploring the online resource On Track: John Curtin's Railway Journeys.

Thursday 23 April Perth
  Announces over-subscription of Third Liberty Loan. 76
c. Friday 23 April –
c. Friday 7 May
  Spends two weeks over Easter in Western Australia attending political meetings and making speeches. Presents luncheon address to the Perth Rotary Club. 77
Tuesday 27 April Perth
  Makes statement on update of figures published in booklet The Job Australia is Doing. 78
Wednesday 28 April Perth

Speaks at private reception tendered to him by executives of the Perth Chamber of Commerce and the WA Chamber of Manufacturers.

‘At the conclusion of his address the acclamation was so spontaneous and overwhelming that even Mr Curtin himself was visibly affected.' 79
Thursday 29 April Fremantle Town Hall
  Impresses on ‘a big audience … his belief that Australia was facing a protracted war and that continued sacrifices would have to be made by the civilian population.’ 80
Saturday 1 May Perth

Comments on ‘militant’ political speech by Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McLeay).

Makes statement on the value of the Port Pirie/Broken Hill Railway line. 81
Tuesday 4 May Perth

Speaks at reception ‘tendered to him by the executive of the Returned Soldiers’ League.’

‘”I cannot say that all is well in Australia,” said Mr Curtin, “It is not. There is very stupid complacency by too many people in too many places.”’

Makes statement on the value of converting the Port Pirie/Broken Hill Railway line to standard gauge. 82
Wednesday 5 May ??

Makes statements on:

  • The revival of economic relations between the Allied Nations and Madagascar.
  • Manpower and the production of strategic minerals, particularly gold. 83
Monday 10 May Melbourne
  Meets with the Australian Minister to Washington, Sir Owen Dixon. 84
Tuesday 11 May Melbourne

Answers criticism of the prices stabilization policy.

Comments positively on a statement by Mr W M Hughes that no man should be discharged from the Army unless he had a position to go to.

Makes statements on:

  • Political philosophy and socialization.
  • The control of propaganda.

Sends messages to, and receives replies from, PM Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt on the North African campaign. 85

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Wednesday 12 May Melbourne

Makes statements on:

  • Occupation of schools by the services and the release of cultural establishments as soon as practicable.
  • Repatriation rights of civil aviation personnel stationed in war zones outside Australia.
  • War Cabinet decision to appoint a committee to review the Commonwealth civil war injuries compensation scheme.
  • War Cabinet decision on payment of deferred pay to members of the Military and Air Forces. 86
Thursday 13 May Melbourne

Announcement of torpedoing of Australian hospital ship Centaur, off the Queensland coast.

‘The “Centaur” was, at 4 o'clock on the morning of Friday, 14th May, 1943, a short distance off the Queensland coast. The weather was fine and clear and the visibility good. The ship was brightly illuminated in accordance with the Hague Convention. Illuminations, in addition to the usual navigation lights, consisted of red crosses on each side of the hull, red crosses on each side of the funnel, a large red cross directed upwards on the poop and rows of brilliant bright lights along the side of the hull to illuminate the characteristic green painted band - in this case 5 feet wide - which encircles hospital ships. On board the “Centaur” at the time were 332 persons, consisting solely of the ship's crew and medical personnel, including twelve nurses. No wounded were on board. In all there were only 64 survivors, including one nurse. Remaining 258 persons, including members of the ship's crew, nurses and other medical personnel, lost their lives.' 87
Friday 14 May Melbourne

Attends meeting of War Cabinet, which allocated £125 000 towards the capital cost of sheds and canteens regarded as essential to the 'proper conduct of the stevedoring operations.'

Announces thanksgiving services for victory in the North African campaign.

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet decision to streamline the payment of pensions and allotments to war widows.
  • War Cabinet approval for the Commonwealth to bear the capital cost of canteens and shelter sheds for the stevedoring industry. 88
Sunday 16 May Canberra

Makes national broadcast in which he:

‘deliberately used the word “treachery” … to describe interruptions to war work,’ caused by industrial stoppages.' 89

Monday 17 May Canberra

Holds press conference which covers the sinking of the Centaur and allied shipping losses in recent months.

Makes statement on industrial production and the Allied offensive, re-iterating his deliberate use of the word ‘treachery’ in yesterday’s broadcast to describe industrial stoppages as:

‘It is the antithesis of the other word which I used, which was “homage”. Men and women do not respect the soldier in the fighting line by being unnecessarily idle in their own job.' 90
Tuesday 18 May Canberra

Attends meeting of Federal Cabinet which decided to ‘attempt more stringent action to prevent the industrial disputes which at present are impairing the war effort.’

Makes statement on War Cabinet decision on penalties for strike action.

Receives telegram from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Fadden) on the Brisbane Line and claiming misrepresentation of the state of Australia’s defences by Minister for Labour (Mr Ward), when the Fadden Government in power. Ward suggested that, ‘When the Fadden Government was in power Australia had hardly means at her disposal to ward off native canoes.’ 91
Wednesday 19 May Canberra

Attends meeting of War Cabinet which discussed compensation rates for injured workers.

Announces Full Cabinet decision to substantially increase the subsidy for the dairy industry.

Makes statement on Full Cabinet decision to relax restrictions on the observance of public holidays throughout the Commonwealth.

Announces War Cabinet decision to adopt rates of compensation provided in the New South Wales Employees' Compensation Act for the Civil Constructional Corps compensation scheme.

Makes statement that no violation of convention took place to cause the torpedoing of the hospital ship Centaur, as all on board were non-combatants.

Announces Government decision to hold the Third Trades Union Conference on 18/19 June 1943, and that he would:

‘… preside at the conference, the purpose of which will be the conduct of an examination of the position of Australia in relation to the war in the light of circumstances existing at the present time, and what part the employees and their organizations can play in the solution of the problems confronting the nation. It is hoped that the fullest and frankest exchange of views will take place and that the meeting will result in a more complete understanding of the difficulties with which the Government and people of Australia have to contend.’ 92
Thursday 20 May Canberra

Holds press conference.

Makes statement that:

‘The right way to avenge the death of the nurses, medical personnel and seamen who perished in the hospital ship Centaur is to stiffen the war capacity of the country in all ways devised by the Government. Contributions to the reserves of the Government - to war loans and in free gifts to the nation for war purposes - will all be used in that combination of effort required to make Japan pay for its murderous onslaught.’ 93
Friday 21 May Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Food supplies to Australia and allocation of food to United Nations.
  • Collection and use of money raised in connection with sinking of the Centaur.


  • Intention to discuss the state of the war, and the country, and the problems of national survival at the third Trades Union Conference, 18/19 June 1943.
  • Parliament would re-assemble on 21 June 1943. 94
Saturday 22 May Canberra

Holds press conference which covers food and the rural position generally.

Makes statement on the observance of Empire Day. 95
Monday 24 May Canberra

Makes statement indicating no plans for a general election, as he has ‘enough to do without them.’

Sends letter in response to Mr Fadden’s telegram of 18 May 1943, clarifying the state of defence of northern Australia and the viability of the Brisbane Line.

Makes statements:

  • Expressing confidence in the work of the Chief Publicity Censor.
  • Expressing satisfaction with the work of the Press Censorship Advisory Committee, and an appreciation of its value. 96
Tuesday 25 May Canberra

Holds press conference which includes Curtin’s plans for going to Brisbane to meet MacArthur and extensive commentary on the press and censorship.

‘Curtin criticised an article in yesterday’s Melbourne Herald by Murdoch. He described it as a “dirty stinking article”. The article referred among things to the relationship between Churchill, Roosevelt and Curtin. Curtin said these relationships had always been on the highest plane of cordiality and responsibility. Another article by Murdoch, intended for publication today, was censored completely. … The article set out to show that the Japanese did not intend to sink the Centaur, because they were kind, considerate foes who had treated their prisoners, the Red Cross and everybody else very well indeed.’


  • The appointment of a Commonwealth Food Controller.
  • That the Australian Legation at Kuibyshev will assume representation of Polish interests in the Soviet Union. 97
Wednesday 26 May Canberra

Makes statement on the first anniversary of the signing of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty.

‘This treaty provides for common and unrelenting warfare against Germany until victory is secured, and for a twenty years' alliance after the war to prevent any recrudescence of German aggression. The importance of this treaty cannot be over-estimated. It has brought together in formal partnership the two great representatives of the United Nations in Europe for the purpose of overthrowing Axis tyranny. It also contains the greatest promise to date of that co-operation between the British and Soviet peoples after the war on which peace in Europe will depend.’ 98
Thursday 27 May Canberra

Announces amendments to the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations.

Issues direction on flying of flags on Commonwealth buildings on Memorial Day, 'in commemoration of deceased war veterans of the United States of America.'

Makes statement denying a report that the Australian Government had ‘washed its hands’ of Australian prisoners of war. 99
Friday 28 May Canberra

Makes statement on the Brisbane Line and defending Lieutenant General Sir Iven Mackay, who:

‘With the forces then at his disposal and the absence of aerodromes, roads, communications and workable harbours in the northern parts of Australia … had the soundest of military reasons for avoiding a wide dispersal of an inadequate force.’

Announces monitoring of industrial unrest by the Commonwealth Investigation Branch in association with the Department of the Commonwealth Industrial Inspector. 100
Saturday 29 May Canberra
  Makes statement on Cabinet review of restrictions on sport on public holidays and decision to slightly relax restrictions. 101
Monday 31 May Canberra

Comments in response to a statement of policy by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Fadden), saying that:

‘It appears to me to be an election omnibus on which wolves and lambs, bank mobilizers and anti-socialists, private entrepreneurs and monopoly controllers, stand-patters and promoters of new social orders are all invited to go for a ride.’

Announces additional amendments to the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations. 102
Tuesday 1 June Canberra

Holds press conference and appeared to have become:

‘…suddenly election conscious in view of the Opposition policy announced by Fadden. … Finishing up the interview on defence, Curtin said that the day which had saved Australia had been the day of the Coral Sea battle in which our fate (and he had known it) had hung in the balance, and which had made the Japs doubtful of their forces in all subsequent attacks.’

Presents analysis of losses of Empire troops and gives details of Australian casualties to end of March 1943. 103
Thursday 3 June Canberra

Makes statement indicating that the Advisory War Cabinet had discussed the Brisbane Line, and that all documents had been tabled as requested by Mr Fadden.

Declares that all coalminers undertakings in pursuance of National Security (Man Power) Regulations are protected for the purposes of regulation 103 of National Security (Supplementary) Regulations.

Makes statement on the meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt in Washington that:

‘Australia has every reason for satisfaction with the decision of the British Prime Minister (Mr Churchill) and President Roosevelt that the war in the Pacific will be prosecuted with the same vigour as the war in Europe. I have expressed to them on behalf of the Australian people our appreciation of the deep significance of their assurance relating to the Pacific.’

Announces further appointment of cadets for diplomatic staff. 104
Friday 4 June Sydney

Attends meeting of War Cabinet which considered the establishment of a Central Salvage Commission.

Together with Lord Gowrie, meets Lord Burghley, Controller of Repairs and Overseas Supplies in Britain, at Admiralty House.


  • The arrival of a giant four-engined Avro-Lancaster bomber in Australia.
  • National Security Act Regulation conferring a general power on the State Premiers to stagger hours to alleviate overcrowding on transport.

Makes statements on:

  • Amendment of regulation concerning the production of identity cards on request so that ‘a person who is a civilian or purporting to be a civilian shall be obliged to produce his identity card on demand or be liable to be detained to enable proof of identity to be established. … It has been found that the two clear days at present provided … for the production of identity cards has enabled evasion of the duties of citizens as well as evasion of the responsibility of members of the armed forces who are absent without leave.’
  • A War Cabinet decision to refer rates and assistance available for the education of discharged members of the forces and widows of deceased soldiers, to a committee. 105
Sunday 6 June Trades Hall, Sydney

Attends ALP Conference. Gives a speech which:

‘had its flashes of pure patriotism and its chilling passages of party propaganda.' 106

full text

Monday 7 June Sydney

JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. War leadership, 8 June 1943. JCPML00376/73

Meets General MacArthur for discussions on Allied strategy in the South-west Pacific zone.

After the meeting states that while Japan was no longer able to invade Australia, the nation was ‘not yet immune from marauding raids which may cause much damage and loss.’

Makes statement that there has been one dispute since amendments to the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations came into force. 107

Wednesday 9 June Canberra

Holds press conference which includes discussion on the Brisbane Line and also reveals that:

‘… important operational and strategical operations were pending. Without going into too great detail he said that limited offensives would be undertaken as soon as possible which would have the effect of making Japanese-held positions on the southern fringe of the defensive areas, which she is building on the north, vulnerable when Germany is defeated.’ 108
Thursday 10 June Canberra

Responds to statement by Mr McEwan, MP, on the Brisbane Line, indicating that a letter to Mr Fadden ‘cleared up the matter.’


  • Meeting held with General MacArthur held on 7 June.
  • Concession on restrictions to trotting permitting betting on races within the State, and putting the New South Wales Trotting Club on the same basis as country greyhound clubs on whose courses wagering on metropolitan horse events is conducted.

Makes statements on:

  • advice received on ‘go-slow methods’ and indicates action taken to prevent it.
  • The maintenance of butter rationing. 109
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Friday 11 June Canberra

The Curtin Government establishes an all-time record since federation - 612 days without a change in the personnel or the allocation of portfolios in the Cabinet.

[The record was previously held by the second Fisher Government which, after a change on 8 October, 1911, following the death of Mr E G Batchelor, remained intact until the elections on 24th June, 1913 - a total of 611 days.]

Makes statement on and presents text of draft agreement for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.


  • Arrangements for the celebration of United Nations Flag Day.
  • Increased subsidy to the diary industry. 110

Saturday 12 June Canberra

Responds to criticism of his statement that ‘I do not think the enemy can now invade this country.’

Finds the criticism ‘surprising’.
‘It has all the appearance of a craven fear of being great and of a willingness to glorify other countries but never our own country.’

Makes statement assuring Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt of a warm welcome, should she visit Australia. 111
Monday 14 June Canberra
  Holds press conference. 112
Tuesday 15 June Canberra
  Announces amendments to the National Security (Patriotic Funds) Regulations. 113
Friday 18 June Canberra,

Holds press conference.


Makes requests to Premiers regarding the staggering of hours and shop opening times.

Repeats belief that the enemy can no longer invade Australia:

‘That statement is not based on any personal military views of my own. It is based on my knowledge of the resources available to us and of assessments which have been competently made. Mine is not a belated realization. I have to point out that since I made my previous statements on invasion dangers vast changes have occurred. Anything I have said at any time on Australia's war position has been said strictly in accordance with the state of the war and quite regardless of politics.’ 114
Friday 18 -
Saturday 19 June
  Presides over Third Trade Union Convention. 115
Sunday 20 June Melbourne, Canberra

Responds to a joint statement by the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney and the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney:

‘The joint statement is welcome as an influential approach to problems which have to be solved if we are ever to save mankind from the evils which have afflicted recent generations. We can never get rid of wars unless we are assured of justice in the relationships of man to man. If these relationships are to be conditioned by purely economic standards then conflicts will inevitably arise. As these conflicts arise not only between classes but between States co-operation is negated by the doctrine of economic necessity. We have to substitute human values for material values.' 116
Monday 21 June Canberra

10.30 am? – 12.30 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

  House of Representatives

Responds to a no-confidence motion in the Government, moved by Leader of the Opposition, Mr Fadden:

‘I am willing to carry on with the task which fate gave me and to fulfill it to the end. But I respect the parliamentary system of this country and all its institutions. If they do not allow me to carry on, I, of course, cannot do it. I am very happy that whatever may be the opinions of the Opposition towards the Government the terrible burden which was thrown upon us to defend this country in circumstances of dire peril of its existence has been carried and that the enemy, at any rate from outside, has not destroyed this Government; that it is still free to the Australian people to have a government of their own choice. I feel that this is a situation which the circumstances of the war enable me to say can be long maintained.’

The motion was defeated.

Announces resignations of the Speaker, Mr Nairn, and the Chairman of Committees, Mr Prowse. 117
Tuesday 22 June House of Representatives

Responds to a ‘motion of want of confidence in the Government’ with respect to domestic administration by referring to the importance of the war effort and the difficulties of maintaining normal domestic arrangements in times of war.


  • Allied offensive.
  • Reviews formulation of evacuation plans in relation to the Brisbane Line.

Updates figures on the use and distribution of manpower.

Responds to statement by Leader of the Opposition Mr Fadden, saying:

‘We do not believe in compulsory unionism; but we believe in preference to unionists.' 118
Wednesday 23 June House of Representatives
  Gives assurance that all documents had been supplied in relation to the Royal Commission and the Brisbane Line. 119
Thursday 24 June House of Representatives

Foreshadows the need for an election in a motion of adjournment.

Announces standing down of Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Ward) until the completion of the Royal Commission into the missing document on the Brisbane Line is complete. 120
Friday 25 June House of Representatives
  Makes statement on a report on the incidence of malaria by Sir Earle Page, and action taken. 121
Monday 28 June Canberra
  Announces resignation, due to ill-health, of Australian Minister to the USSR (Mr W Slater).122
Wednesday 30 June House of Representatives

Outlines action taken by the Government subsequent to the preparation of a report on the economic position of Tasmania as affected by the war. In addition announces the creation of the Tasmanian Industry Expansion Commission.

Makes statement on the manufacture of aluminium in Australia. 123
Thursday 1 July House of Representatives

Moves for the adjournment of the Parliament and as this is the last opportunity prior to the forthcoming election thanks colleagues, the Leader of the Opposition and the parliamentary staff for their support.

Announces convening of a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers for 14 July at Melbourne.

  Parliament House

Attends complimentary dinner tendered to him by members of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party. ‘A number of members were visibly moved when the Prime Minister responded to the toast of his health. 124

Friday 2 July Canberra

Issues directive,’that flags should be flown and bunting displayed on Commonwealth buildings on Sunday, 4th July, 1943, in celebration of Independence Day.’

Makes statement comparing United States and Australian aid in Lend Lease Reciprocal Agreement. 125
Monday 5 July Canberra

Holds press conference which includes comment on discussions (which ‘have not yet reached the announceable stage’) with Portugal concerning use of the Azores by the Allies for building facilities ‘to enable the war against the U-boats to be carried on. Development of such a base would mean that U-boats would be subject to attack from almost every part of the Atlantic.’

Makes Independence Day broadcast to the United States in which he ‘compared the Pacific War to a football match, in which the United Nations had kicked off after the interval, and were going to carry the ball into the enemy territory for a smashing victory.’

Announces dissolution of Parliament on 7 July, a general election on 21 August, and the re-assembly of the new Parliament on 27 September. 126
Wednesday 7 July Canberra
  Parliament dissolved. 127
Friday 9 July Probably Melbourne

Makes statements on War Cabinet:

  • Approval of payment of proficiency pay for skilled soldiers at present paid as privates.
  • Approval of recommendations for the provision of meals in places of work.
  • Approval of a revised shipbuilding programme.
  • Acceptance of liability for superannuation contributions of all its employees serving in the forces during the war period.
  • Approval for training of personnel to assist in the administration of the recaptured territories of New Guinea. Decision to extend benefit provisions in the mercantile marine. 128
Monday 12 July Melbourne

Makes statements on Full Cabinet:

  • Plans for the rehabilitation of the territories of New Guinea freed from the enemy.
  • Decision to establish a wool appraisement centre at Geraldton, Western Australia, to save haulage to Fremantle, and relieve congestion at the port.
  • Decision to follow Britain’s practice of issuing cards for good service to officers and men of the Army and Air Force.
  • Decision to amend the National Security (Land Transfer) Regulations to prevent the leasing of land by an enemy alien for more than one month; the sales of land to enemy aliens being already prohibited. 129
Tuesday 13 July Melbourne

Attends meeting of War Cabinet.

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet decision that for the purposes of priority, the production of essential foods be regarded as a war activity.
  • Exports to Britain. 130
Wednesday 14 July Melbourne

Holds press conference and refers to:

‘the offensive now in progress in the north. He said he felt certain that by the end of this month the offensive would be in reasonable shape. … He said War Councillors were surprised at what he had shown them. “It will not be too bad – the Japs are reinforcing as they must, but they cannot do it properly. We can match them plane for plane, gun for gun. They will do some damage, they will try diversions; there will be raids and they will also bring task forces down. All that is being met, but I cannot ignore it at present. We are getting into the third quarter and they are thinking of using the 19th man. I have been looking at our side and it may pay to put our 19th man in now.”’

Attends two-day conference with Premiers.


  • Decision of conference for drainage scheme to assist in the eradication of malaria.
  • Decision of Premiers’ Conference to establish a National Works Council to determine post-war works policy.

Releases Royal Commissioner’s report on the Brisbane Line missing document, and writes to Mr Ward MP that:

‘… The reasons which caused me to direct you to abstain from the administration of your office, therefore, continue and will continue until the Parliament has dealt with the matters involved. For these reasons, I now repeat my direction to you to abstain from performing any of the duties of your office and have arranged for the Honorable R J Holloway, MP, to continue to act for and in your place.’

National Archives of Australia RecordsSearch database Royal Commission on the matter known as the Brisbane Line

Sends message on behalf of the Australian people, to French people throughout the Pacific, to mark the National Day of France. 131

Thursday 15 July Melbourne

Attends two-day conference with State Premiers

At the close of the conference Mr Curtin thanked the Premiers ‘for the cooperation they had given him and asked them to continue that cooperation with whatever “Australian headed an Australian Government” after the elections.’

Sends message of appreciation to the Volunteer Defence Corps on its third anniversary.

Makes statement concerning regulations covering strikes and review of operations. 132
Monday 19 July Canberra

Holds press conference and says he is considering a reply to a cable received from Churchill who is concerned about the use of British policy as an issue in Australian elections:

‘Curtin recalled that Churchill said nothing last federal elections when Menzies and Churchill’s pictures were shown together. … Curtin also took the Melbourne Herald rep to task over an advertisement in Saturday night’s Sporting Globe. The advertisement showed a workman being directed to a munitions factory at Berriwillock despite his protest that he was already engaged in war work. … Firstly, Curtin said that if there was a munitions factory at Berriwillock the newspaper had infringed national security by disclosing it; secondly, if there was not such a factory, the advertisement published a lie. He went on to refer to the responsibility of newspapers and said that a time was coming when newspapers must take responsibility for statements appearing in them.' 133
Tuesday 20 July Canberra
  Announces measures to maintain and improve supplies of essential commodities and for stabilizing the cost of living. 134
Wednesday 21 July Canberra

Holds press conference and says he has received ‘a brief message from naval authorities’ … that the Australian cruiser Hobart had been torpedoed by a Jap submarine off the Solomons. Two destroyers were standing by. He has no further information at present.’

Denies postponing announcement of Price Stablization Plan for electioneering purposes.

Announces instructions to munitions establishments and the services in connection with the general election. 135
Thursday 22 July Canberra

Attends press conference at which he says ‘that there would be no discrimination in the reimbursements to employers of the cost of living wage increases caused by the higher index figure for the June quarter.’

Makes statements on:

  • No limiting of profits in the administration of the Price Stablization Plan.
  • Administration of regulations in regard to election posters. 136
Friday 23 July Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Retail prices and margins.
  • New scale of leave proposals for Army personnel, by Mr Fadden, Leader of the Opposition.
  • Issues invitation to Canadian newspaper representatives to visit Australia.


  • Acceptance of invitation to English newspaper representatives to visit Australia
  • Announces new regulations covering the coalmining industry.

‘… Finally, I have to say to every coalminer that the law will be enforced absolutely. …I will regard every coalminer who stops work as not only a breaker of the law, for which he should, and will, be punished, but also as a factor in giving aid to the enemies of his country.’

Speaks in reply to Opposition policy speech. 137

full text

Monday 26 July Canberra

Holds press conference and comments on Mussolini’s resignation on 25 July that:

‘… while he had had no official background on Mussolini, his opinion was that Mussolini’s resignation had been secured in order to obtain better peace terms with Allied Nations.

Curtin reiterated that he had received cables from Churchill objecting to the manner in which Opposition members were using his name in speeches for their election campaign. Churchill was very “snaky” about it, Curtin said.’ He had conveyed Churchill’s objections to Opposition members of the Advisory War Council .

Goes to broadcasting studio and presents election policy speech.

full text

Launches election campaign, laying great emphasis on the Labour Government’s war achievements. 138

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Tuesday 27 July Canberra
  Leaves for Brisbane.139
Wednesday 28 July Brisbane

Speaks at City Hall.

‘The City Hall, which holds 2500 people, was crowded, and many soldiers were among the audience.

When Mr Curtin appeared on the platform the crowd rose and cheered. He was given a most enthusiastic reception. The enthusiasm continued throughout his speech, and often his points were lost to many by the applause.

Mr Curtin gave great emphasis to the war record of his Government.’ 140
Thursday 29 July Griffiths

Speaks at meeting.

‘At each meeting there would be crowds of supporters, with hardly an interjector among them, and loudspeakers to carry Curtin’s message to the many who could not fit inside.’

Reviews the sugar crop and the sugar industry.

Makes statement on the replacement of HMAS Sydney and the decision to temporarily invest the fund. 141
Friday 30 July Brisbane

Leaves for Sydney. 142

Saturday 31 July Sydney
  Arrives in Sydney. 143
Monday 2 August Sydney Town Hall

Addresses political meeting, stating that ‘the Labour Party was asking for a mandate for the peace.

It was one of the largest political meetings in the history of Sydney. Mr Curtin received an ovation when he mounted the platform and again when he rose to speak.' 144
Tuesday 3 August Eden- Monaro/Goulburn

Delivers an ‘outspoken denunciation of Communism’ declaring that ‘any Communist elected to Federal Parliament would have a better chance of being included in the Opposition group than any Labor party.’


  • Institution of the Africa Star and 1939-43 Star. ‘In commemoration of expulsion of the enemy from North Africa and to recognize services rendered in operations during the first four years of the war.’
  • The death of the President of the National Government of China (Dr Lin Sen). 145
Wednesday 4 August Ballarat

Travelled through a snowstorm from Melbourne to address:

‘an orderly meeting with no interjections.

Mr Curtin mentioned he had been born in Creswick, 12 miles from Ballarat, and that Mrs Caddy, aged 70 years, who nursed him as a child was present at the meeting.' 146
Thursday 5 August Melbourne Town Hall

Speaks at meeting.

Announces application of the National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations (concerning strikes) in respect of members of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen's Association, the Federated Ironworkers Association and the Electrical Trades Union of Australia employed at Yallourn (Victoria) by the State Electricity Commission.

Makes statement on exports to Britain. 147
Friday 6 August Melbourne Town Hall

Addresses a crowd of 3,000 at a meeting which was broadcast over the national network.

Defended the employment of soldiers on the wharves, stating that ‘the volume of cargo handled in the first half of 1943 was about double that in the latter half of 1942, … and declared that this increase and other war calls on manpower made the work of soldiers on the wharves a military necessity.’ 148
Saturday 7 August Melbourne
  Makes statement on financial policy. 149
Sunday 8 August Melbourne
  Makes statement on defence policy. 150
Monday 9 August Horsham, Victoria

Speaks at civic reception stressing the importance of ‘a population of two or even three times the present number.’

Speaks at Town Hall supporting retiring Labor member Mr McLeod.

Reiterated Australia’s support for the allies while holding the Japanese in the Pacific. Stated that, ‘There has been no diminution with flow of food and supplies to Great Britain,’ and ‘at the same time great war supplies have been coming to this country from America and England.’ 151
Tuesday 10 August Adelaide
  Makes statement on post-war planning in response to statement by the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board (Sir Claude Reading), expressing his personal view on the use of bank credit in post-war planning. 152
Wednesday 11 August Adelaide

Speaks to ‘the biggest meeting so far of his election tour,’ at Adelaide Town Hall.

‘His account of the course of the war and the way in which his Government had tackled the problems confronting it, was listened to with rapt attention by his audience.’

Makes statement on the making of regulations by Parliament and the Opposition’s role.

Replies to a statement by Senator Foll on the defence of Singapore. 153
Thursday 12 August South Australia

Makes statement responding to request for review of regulations covering racing meetings.

‘…the matter will be reviewed when circumstances justify.’

Asks the States for their views on the re-introduction of daylight saving. 154
Friday 13 August Kadina, South Australia
  Addresses an audience of more than 500, charging ‘previous non-Labor Governments with having failed to carry out essential strategical works in pre-war years on the plea “that there was no money available."'
  Port Pirie, South Australia

Speaks to ‘a big audience’ stating that ‘his appeals to America for aid in Australia’s darkest hour of peril did not indicate a lack of faith in Great Britain.’

Makes statement, in response to comment by Mr Fadden, on the protocol of referring to cables between the Australian Government and the Dominions Office, without first consulting the British Prime Minister. 155
Saturday 14 August Adelaide

Speaks at United Commercial Travellers’ Association annual dinner, urging the ‘formation of an Imperial consultative body to deal with Empire problems.’

‘An Empire council may lead to some larger world body about which men have dreamed. It will be impossible to deal with the legacy of the war in the higher councils of the nations unless machinery similar to that set up for war is maintained.' 156
Sunday 15 August Adelaide

JCPML. Records of West Australian News Ltd. PM Mr Curtin with the crew of a Lancaster bomber in which he flew, 19 August 1943. JCPML00409/8

Flies to Perth on four-engined Lancaster bomber spending final week of the campaign there.

‘Mr Curtin made the journey from the cabin behind the wireless operator and watched the activities of the crew.’

‘When the machine was coming in to land at Kalgoorlie the starboard engine faltered, causing the starboard wing to drop. The machine landed on one wheel with a bounce, but skilful handing by the pilot Flight-Lieutenant Isaacson, enabled a safe landing.’

[‘The bomber had been flown out from Britain ostensibly to publicise the war loan campaign but really to sell the aircraft for possible production in Australia, and thereby tie the growing Australian aircraft industry to Britain.’]

Makes statement on the use of the Australian Imperial Force. 157

Monday 16 August Fremantle Mayor's Parlour
  Attends welcome by the Mayor (Mr F E Gibson, MLC), councillors and business men.
  Leederville Town Hall

Opens election campaign for the Fremantle seat.

‘Speaking for an hour and three-quarters, without stress and with practically no special emphasis on any topic, he mainly described the part his Government had played in organising Australia for war.’

Speaks to ‘at least six more meetings in Perth and Fremantle, attracting large and sympathetic crowds’ during the week to the election. 158
Tuesday 17 August South Perth

Speaks at meeting where he ‘was keenly questioned’ and ‘given an excellent hearing by about 300 women.’

Makes statements:

  • Confirming inability to make public references to secret and personal cablegrams interchanged with Dominions Governments on the conduct of the war.
  • On the export of meat to Britain and the increased demand by the civilian population.
  Victoria Park - Mint Street State School, Western Australia

Speaks to an audience ‘upward of 1,000’ who ‘listened attentively.’

‘The audience was accommodated on a long spacious verandah … which was packed to capacity, an overflow extending to the children’s playground, where extra seats had been provided and loudspeakers installed.' 159
Wednesday 18 August Fremantle Town Hall
  Makes national broadcast stating that ‘The Labour government would not, during the war, socialise any industry; the Labour Party had no affiliation with the Communist Party; Labour was not willing to govern with all other parties; the Government had used its National Security Powers wisely.' 160
Thursday 19 August Fremantle electorate

Spends time in electorate.

Makes final statement before the general election, referring to it as ‘the most momentous election in the history of Australia.’ 161


Friday 20 August Western Australia

Spends time in electorate. 162

Saturday 21 August

Western Australia


Election Day.

Curtin won an ‘astounding victory’. In Fremantle his previous majority of just 600 votes had been converted into a majority of 20 000. 163
Sunday 22 August Western Australia

On winning the election, makes statement that:

‘The people have broadly endorsed the administration of the Government at a period during which the nation was in grave peril and they have given us a mandate to proceed with the execution of the policy which I enunciated on behalf of the Government. I deeply appreciate this demonstration of confidence and all the members of the Government will do their utmost to justify the trust that has been imposed in them.' 164
Monday 23 August Cottesloe

Hears of success in election and says that the Labour Party would ‘endeavour to discharge the great trust that has been reposed in us.’

Makes statement indicating continuance of War Council on the same basis, with the same functions. 165

Wednesday 25 August Cottesloe

Having several days’ rest:

‘…potters around the garden of his modest brick villa … spends many hours in the pleasant book-lined sitting room reading … may have an odd night out at the pictures and see a local game of Australian rules on Saturday.’


He ‘receives a daily visit from his private secretary … scans cable messages keeping him in touch with the latest war developments and signs essential papers as Minister for Defence to keep the administration moving.’ 166
Thursday 26 August Western Australia
  Announces the terms of the Fourth Liberty Loan. 167
c. Friday 27 August Perth - Canberra
  Leaves Perth by train to Canberra. 168
Wednesday 1 September Melbourne

Welcomes and meets with the Under Secretary of the Department of War of the United States (Judge R P Patterson) and the Director of Production in the Office of the Secretary of War of the United States (Lieutenant-General W S Knudsen).

Announces that, ‘On the cordial invitation of the Commonwealth Government, Mrs Franklin D Roosevelt will visit Australia on completion of her present tour of New Zealand.’

Announces an amendment to the National Security (Racing Restriction) Regulations. 169
Friday 3 September Canberra

JCPML. Records of the Australian Labor Party WA Branch. John Curtin with Eleanor Roosevelt, September 1943. JCPML00713/2

Meets Mrs Roosevelt visiting from America

Makes statement on the state of the war on entering its fifth year.

‘…I am confident that victory is in sight. The leaders of the United Nations now plan for attack, not for the desperate defence of such a short time ago. In Europe, over the Atlantic, in the Pacific, the banners of the United Nations are unfurling in high endeavour. Our fighting men thrust at the enemy; the supreme effort is near. The peoples of the United Nations have built up a strength in resources which reflects the toil of the four years that have passed.

For the fifth year of war, I ask the Australian people for a maintenance at the fullest peak of the war effort so manfully attained by this young nation. Victory means liberty and peace; freedom from the enemy's shackles for the peoples of the Pacific and Europe; peace in which to build for ourselves a great nation. ..' 170

Saturday 4 September Parliament House, Canberra

Tenders official welcome to Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt on behalf of the Commonwealth Government.


Attends luncheon to honour of Eleanor Roosevelt, at which she was presented with ‘the first photographic copy of Captain Cook’s autograph journal – one of Australia’s most historic treasures. 171

Monday 6 September Canberra

Holds press conference which includes matters to be discussed by the new Cabinet, and at which Curtin was asked

:‘… about his intentions regarding a trip abroad.’ Curtin replied that ‘There were no immediate problems which called for his presence as Prime Minister abroad’ and that: … ‘A visit abroad by himself at present would have no more purpose than goodwill. There were more important problems still at home. He also announced his intention to build up the External Affairs Department and to appoint ‘men to go into the islands after the Japanese had been driven out to watch Australia’s economic and commercial interests. This was where a friendly press would help because some of the men appointed would have no apparent diplomatic claims but would be really “economic” bandits who would fight the go-getting American commercial interests on Australia’s behalf.’

Makes statement indicating ‘gratifying and encouraging interest’ in ‘a new approach to Empire government after the war’ in the form of an Empire Council. Announces first session of the 17th Parliament for 23 September 1943. Makes statement on War Cabinet adoption of a recommendation that the essential needs of the Pacific islands are to be fulfilled to the maximum extent, having regard to Australia's own essential requirements. 172

Tuesday 7 September Canberra

Holds press conference and talks about his proposed Empire Council, before turning to the White Australian policy:

‘He said this was not racial theory. … Implementation of such a policy did not occur in any Australian Act. The only Act which dealt with immigration was the Immigration Restriction Act … Dr Soong, the Chinese Foreign Minister, fully appreciated Australia’s views on this matter, but not so Dr Hsu Mu, Chinese Minister in Australia, whom Curtin could have recalled if he wished.’

Announces repeal of amendments to the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations.

Makes statement on War Cabinet consideration of second report of the Parliamentary Man-power and Resources Survey. 173

Wednesday 8 September Canberra
  Makes statement on conference with coalminers. ‘The Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr Beasley) and I have conferred to-day with officers of the Coal and Shale Employees Federation. The discussions centred around the need for increased production. ’Makes statement indicating that delays in the movement of shipping would not be countenanced. 174
Thursday 9 September Canberra

Announces surrender by Italy. [On 8 September 1943 (Greenwich time), the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces (General Eisenhower) announced that the Italian Government, of which Marshal Badoglio was Prime Minister, had signed terms of unconditional surrender.]

‘Waiting until France was prostrate, the Fascist Government of Italy struck. Now the unhappy people of Italy have had to lay down their arms in the face of the advancing United Nations and, at the same time, combat all the vengeful horrors which their German masters will, no doubt, perpetrate. Italy can rely on the United Nations in resisting German outrage and in dealing justly with its people and their problems.

The collapse of Italian resistance points the way to victory in Europe. Nazi Germany faces unconditional surrender which will be delayed only to the extent that the people of Germany continue to suffer the overlordship of the Nazi party.The swiftly moving events presage the defeat of Japan. Our gallant forces in the Pacific are taking the war to Japan. Slowly the attrition is taking its toll of Japanese strength. That, combined with the ultimate loss of both Axis partners, makes the end for Japan inevitable.

We can celebrate the surrender of Italy with thanksgiving in our hearts, but without any relaxation in our devotion to duty. Until the men on the battlefronts of the Pacific can take a holiday, it would be incongruous for us at home so to use a day required for work as to lessen the support for those men.’

Makes statement indicating that the proposal for the appointment of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to report on the application of National Security Act regulations, would stand. 175

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Sunday 12 September Melbourne

Joined by Mrs Curtin, who stayed ‘for the customary two months before returning to her family home.’

At a reception held for Mrs Curtin at the Melbourne Town Hall, she stated that ‘it was the duty of all women to take an interest in politics.' 176

Tuesday 14 September Menzies Hotel, Melbourne
  Attends luncheon in honour of American senators touring Australia and the South-West Pacific area to investigate the war situation.
  Attends meeting of War Cabinet. 177
Wednesday 15 September Canberra
  Welcomes to Australia Senators R B Russell, R O Brewster, A B Chandler, J Mead and H C Lodge, junior, of the United States Congress. 178
Saturday 18 September Canberra
  Sends messages of appreciation to Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Land Forces (General Sir Thomas Blamey) and Commander-in-Chief of the South-West Pacific Area (General Douglas MacArthur) on the successful capture of Lae. 179
Monday 20 September Canberra

? – 2.00 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

‘Moved Senator Collings, seconded Mr Barnard, that Leader and Deputy Leader be elected without the usual ballot. Carried.

Mr Rosevear moved, Mr Barnard seconded a motion That Mr Curtin be appointed as Leader. Carried unanimously.

Mr Curtin thanked members and gave a short resume of the war position.’ 180
Thursday 23 September Canberra
  Announces personnel in the ministry of the second Curtin Government. 181
Friday 24 September Canberra
  Makes statement on government policy on the continuance or otherwise of war risk insurance. 182
Saturday 25 September Canberra
  Announces composition of Production Executive of Cabinet and makes a statement on its role.183
Monday 27 September House of Representatives

Parliament re-assembles.

Makes statement on War Cabinet decision to relax National Security (Racing Restriction) Regulations so that racing on the first Saturday in each month is permitted.

Announces Full Cabinet decision to appoint Dr Lloyd Maxwell Ross as a senior member of the research staff of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction.

Attends last formal meeting of Prime Minister’s Conference. 184
Tuesday 28 September House of Representatives

Makes statements

  • On proposal to consult with those ‘who are associated with the control of the coalmining industry, both employees and employers, at the earliest opportunity, to discover whether or not more coal than we are now getting can be obtained by a further effort.’
  • Confirming status, authority and command of General MacArthur.

Announces Full Cabinet decisions:

  • That the application of daylight saving would not extend to Western Australia.
  • To relax restrictions on public holidays.
  • To refer to the Parliamentary Public Works Committee a proposal for the erection of a permanent Arbitration Court building at Melbourne on a block of land opposite the High Court building in Law Courts Place.
  • To refer to the Parliamentary Public Works Committee a proposal for the erection of a new building to accommodate the Department of External Affairs at Canberra.
  • That a bill be prepared by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr Beasley) for the establishment, control and direction of the aluminum ingot industry in Australia.

Tables report on the Brisbane Line missing document and moves that the report be printed. 185

Wednesday 29 September Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.5 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

  House of Representatives

Welcomes women MPs, congratulating Dame Enid Lyons on her maiden speech as the first woman to sit in the House of Representatives.

Makes statement on stoppages in the coalmining industry.

‘I regret these stoppages. They are detrimental to the war effort, but it is Australian citizens who are associated with them. They have their grievances. Some are legitimate, while others are, I think, just excuses for other purposes which the men may have in mind.

If the problem were as simple as some Members of Parliament seem to suggest, I am quite certain that there would be no difficulty in obtaining increased production.’

Announces that there would be no further co-options onto the War Council. 186
Thursday 30 September Canberra
  Makes statement on the use of manpower and refuting the suggestion that US government will be asked to send civilians to Australia. 187
Friday 1 October Canberra

Makes statement on War Cabinet review of the nature, extent and balance of the Australian war effort in the light of the manpower position.

Makes statement on the intention of some miners’ lodges to disregard daylight saving.

‘Complete disorganization will result unless miners attend for work under daylight saving time. National Security (Daylight Saving) Regulations are the law of the land and, in the name of the Government, I direct that the law be obeyed.’ 188

Sunday 3 October Canberra

JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Elsie Curtin with chauffeur Ray Tracey and "Dinah" the dog outside the Lodge 194? JCPML00376/17

Opens exhibition by the Canberra Kennel Club.

Says he has the ‘greatest respect for the sagacity, loyalty and intelligence of dogs. Amid laughter he added: “I sometimes think that the qualities displayed by dogs might well be displayed by humans – certainly in some of the councils I have in mind.” A dalmation owned by chauffeur Ray Tracey, won second in its class.’ 189
Monday 4 October Sydney Town Hall

Opens the 4th Liberty Loan for £125 million to back the attack now being launched against the enemy. Appeals to people ‘on the home front to back the attack not only with their money but by their behaviour.’


‘More than 2000 were in the hall, which will seat 2600. About 1000 stayed outside, where they said it was cooler. An amplifying system relayed speeches and musical items to them. The flag was decorated with Allied flags and loan slogans.’ 190
Tuesday 5 October Sydney

Confers with a representative gathering of unions associated with the coalmining industry.

‘Today's discussions were largely exploratory and were useful. The miners' representatives put to me the great strain felt upon workers by fatigue …’

Makes statement on Japanese atrocity on allied airman, in response to the release by Allied head-quarters of a Japanese diary describing the execution by decapitation, of an Allied airman in New Guinea. 191
Wednesday 6 October House of Representatives

Makes statement on strikes in the coalmining industry.

‘I have to say that I am doing my very best to get coal for Australia. … I have endeavoured to do my best with those that are responsible for getting coal. … I say to the country that a little more understanding of the problems of coalmining would perhaps evoke realization on the part of the coalminers that they are not the mere slave of industry which at times they had reason to believe they were. It is desirable, I believe, to evoke in their minds realization of the importance of their labour to the salvation of the country.’


  • The continuance of the Advisory War Council and government representation on it.
  • The continuance of Mr S M Bruce as High Commissioner of the Commonwealth in Britain, as the Australian Accredited Representative on the Imperial War Cabinet, and as His Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary for the Commonwealth in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 192
Thursday 7 October House of Representatives

 John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of Owen Marks.  Troop ship [HMAS Shropshire?] in Fremantle Harbour, ca. 1941.  JCPML01138/20
JCPML.  Records of Owen Marks.  Troop ship [HMAS Shropshire?] in Fremantle Harbour, ca. 1941.  JCPML01138/20.

Reviews the New Guinea campaign, based on reports tabled at a meeting of the War Council.

Announces arrival of new cruiser HMAS Shropshire, a gift from the British Government, replacing HMAS Canberra.

‘... In HMAS Shropshire, Australia has acquired a very formidable fighting ship. Completed late in 1929; with a main armament of eight 8-inch guns and eight 4-inch anti-aircraft guns, she has undergone refits which embody the lessons learned in four years of warfare. Just what those improvements are it would be unwise to suggest, just as it would be unwise to give any indication of the ship's present whereabouts or her future movements.’

States that, ‘as soon as it is practicable for all the [Dominion] Prime Ministers to assemble it is almost certain that they will then meet.’

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet review of war commitments, manpower, and the release of men to primary production.
  • Suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Menzies) for the appointment of an all-party committee on `pay-as-you-earn' taxation. 193
Friday 8 October Canberra

Announces instructions for the flying of flags on Commonwealth Government buildings and public participation on the national day of China on 10 October, marking the 32nd anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese Republic.

Makes statement on changes in the economy required for the continuation of the war. 194
Monday 11 October Canberra

Presents statement of views of the president of the southern district of the Coal and Shale Employees' Federation, Mr F Lowden.

Makes statements on:

  • Coalmining strikes, the proposals of the Coal and Shale Employees Federation, and the government’s views.
  • Action on a suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Menzies) and the formation of a committee on `pay-as-you-earn' taxation.
  • The banning of twilight trotting meetings between the hours of 6 pm and 9 pm during the currency of daylight saving.
  • Government policy not to release information about atrocities by the enemy.
Announces composition of party of Canadian newspapermen to visit Australia as the result of an invitation to Canadian Prime Minister, Mr MacKenzie King. 195
Tuesday 12 October House of Representatives
  Makes statement on nationalisation. 196
Wednesday 13 October Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.45 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

  House of Representatives

Announces amendments to the National Security (Racing Restriction) Regulations, removing some of the restrictions on racing.

Announces amalgamation of Department of Information and the office of Publicity Censorship and the appointment of the Chief Publicity Censor, Mr E G Bonney, as Director General of the combined departments. 197
Thursday 14 October House of Representatives

Holds press conference at which he hands on to press representatives a request from the British Government that:

‘Comment in Australian newspapers suggesting that the end of the monsoon season in Burma would see the beginnings of an offensive in the Southeast Asia area, be discontinued. … The published comment had had the effect of creating excitement and causing Japanese reinforcement of the area.’

During debate in the Estimates Committee, is required to respond to criticisms that the armed forces are oversupplied with manpower and that these additional people would be better served in agriculture or industry.

Makes statement on Government decisions on the production and rationing of coal. 198
Friday 15 October House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • The Constitutional referendum to extend the powers of Parliament to enable the problems of post-war reconstruction to be dealt with effectively.
  • Government proposal (on a suggestion by Mr Menzies, Leader of the Opposition) to appoint a special parliamentary committee to examine pay-as-you-earn taxation and alternative proposals. 199
Tuesday 19 October Canberra

Makes statement on War Cabinet appointment of an inter-departmental committee to report on civil aviation organisation and policy during the war and post-war period.

‘So that Australian civil aviation may be established on sound lines as soon as possible, and be in a position to proceed with its vigorous development when the war ends.’

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet approval of the proposal by the Commonwealth War Workers Housing Trust to build homes and hostels for war workers near Brisbane.
  • An increase in war pensions for merchant seamen.
  • The continuance of the war risk insurance scheme. 200
Wednesday 20 October Canberra

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of Don Delaney.  Mrs Curtin on board Lancaster bomber "Queenie VI" with Flt Lt Peter Isaacson and Pilot officer Don Delaney, Canberra, 21 October 1943.  JCPML00385/2
JCPML. Records of Don Delaney. Mrs Curtin on board Lancaster bomber "Queenie VI" with Flt Lt Peter Isaacson and Pilot officer Don Delaney, Canberra, 21 October 1943. JCPML00385/2.

Mrs Curtin inspects Lancaster bomber “Queenie VI”

Makes statements on Full Cabinet decisions :

  • To re-appoint the President (Mr P Rees) and the Actuarial Member (Mr W C Balmford), as members of the Superannuation Board for seven years from 21 November, 1943.
  • To continue the apple and pear acquisition scheme in Tasmania and Western Australia during the 1944 season.
  • To appoint a departmental committee to report on various phases of the question of migration to Australia.
  • And on Full Cabinet consideration of the elimination of marginal wheat areas.Makes statement on the awarding of the third Victoria Cross in the New Guinea campaign to Flying Officer W E Newton .

The citation reads (in part):

'....In March, 1943, he dived over half a mile through intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire to bomb his target at the lowest possible altitude. When his bombs burst they started a fire which was later widened by other aircraft and ultimately developed into a conflagration sending flames to 1,000 feet and smoke to 8,000 feet. In the course of this attack his aircraft suffered four direct hits which punctured the petrol tanks and caused considerable damage to both mainplanes and engines. He flew the aircraft in this condition for 180 miles and landed with his crew safely at his base despite a flat main tyre. On the following day, without hesitation, although conscious of the danger, he repeated this magnificent act. His objective was a building adjacent to the same anti-aircraft positions, but a more difficult target. He attacked with the same inimitable courage, through similar accurate anti-aircraft fire, but when he made a direct hit on the objective his aircraft burst into flames. He executed an excellent landing on the water and members of the crew were observed swimming to the shore. The burning target was evidence of the success of his project which was undertaken with great risk to life. By skill and great bravery he accomplished his task, but there is every reason to suppose that in so doing he gave his life in the service of his country.’

Mr Curtin said, ‘“This is the third Victoria Cross to be awarded in the New Guinea campaign, and is an indication to the world of the deathless heroism of Australia's fighting men. I offer to the family of a brave man the congratulations of the Australian Government on the award, and am sure that all Australia joins in offering solace in their proud grief." 201

Thursday 21 October Canberra
  Makes statement on the decision of Full Cabinet to introduce meat rationing. 202
Friday 22 October Canberra

Speaks at State luncheon to the United Kingdom Press delegation, stating that ‘Australians were to be regarded not only as Australians but as British people holding a great bastion for the Empire.’

Makes statement on new instructions for addressing mail to prisoners of war and internees in enemy hands.

‘… Only relatives and close friends should write. This restriction is in the interests of the prisoners, as delays in censorship abroad are increased if letters are too long or too numerous. In the case of letters to prisoners in Japanese hands, it is emphasized that the text of the letter must not exceed 25 words, and the letter must be typed, or written in block capitals. Letters to such prisoners should not be sent more frequently than once a fortnight.' 203
Sunday 24 October Canberra
  Makes national broadcast warning that if the goals of the Fourth Liberty Loan were not met that ‘the Government could not countenance “the things that retarded a total war effort.”’ 204
Monday 25 October Canberra

Makes further statement on meat rationing.

Makes statement on the volume of betting at race meetings.

‘I would very much have liked if the money invested at Randwick and Flemington racecourses on 23rd October, 1943, had been devoted to the Fourth Liberty Loan. Most of the punters would have done better to have backed Australia than the horses they apparently backed. … I understand, also, that a great number of punters pulled rolls of notes out of their pockets which reveals at once why the note issue has gone up. I do not hesitate to say that the man who pulled five £100 notes out of his pocket, as reported, to put on a horse, is a thoughtless enemy of his country. That is putting it mildly.’ 205

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Tuesday 26 October Canberra

Holds press conference and says he was ‘pleased at the trend of the Moscow talks on which he has been fully informed.’ He also:

‘…gave the tip that while all eyes are on Italy which is in the news, we should look elsewhere for possible openings. He did not elaborate further except to say that we were hoping for air bases from which to operate against the Rumanian airfields.’


  • That no member of the Commonwealth Ministry would issue Christmas cards in respect of Christmas 1943, ‘in the interests of the conservation of paper stocks and with a view to avoiding expenditure on items regarded as non-essential.’
  • The resumption of the conference between the Government and the Australian Coal and Shale Employees’ Association. 206
Wednesday 27 October Canberra
  Met with miners’ leaders in a ‘nine-hour long discussion of coal problems.’ 207
Thursday 28 October Canberra

Makes statement on banning Christmas greetings to internees and prisoners-of-war in enemy hands.

‘After very careful consideration and having regard to the welfare of Australian prisoners of war and internees in enemy hands, the Government has decided not to grant permission this year to despatch to them Christmas greetings, cards and calendars, thereby falling into line with the practice adopted for this year in Britain.

The decision has been made after learning the views of the camp leaders who had pointed out that last year prisoner of war mails became disorganized by reason of enemy censorship being unable to handle in reasonable time the volume of normal mails because of Christmas greetings, cards and calendars. It had been pointed out by the camp leaders that the delay in ordinary mails at Christmas had caused great disappointment to prisoners of war and internees who preferred not to receive Christmas greetings, cards and calendars at the expense of delay to normal letters.’

Announces usual observance of the signing of the Armistice of 1918 at the conclusion of the first world war. 208
Friday 29 October Canberra
  Announces the appointment of a Secondary Industries Planning Commission. 209
Saturday 30 October Canberra

Makes statement on the Government offer to the House of Commons, to supply a replica of the Speaker’s Chair in the House of Representatives of the Australian Parliament to replace the one destroyed at Westminster.

[The Australian chair is a replica of the Speaker’s Chair of the House of Commons, given in 1927 by both Houses of the British Parliament. The offer was accepted by the British Government, but the matter was left in abeyance until after the war.] 210
Sunday 31 October Canberra
  Expresses disappointment at the progress of subscriptions to the Fourth Liberty Loan. 211
Monday 1 November Canberra
  Receives Major-General J S Lethbridge, leader of the British military mission in Australia, Rear-Admiral F H W Goolden and Air Commodore L L MacLean. 212
Tuesday 2 November Canberra

Holds press conference at which:

Curtin delays his promise to release ‘off the record the decisions of the Moscow conference,’ but which includes ‘the story on the proposed trade missions … He referred to the missions as “commercial bandits” who were going to see that the “bandits” of other nations did not deprive Australia of her trade.’

Makes statement that the selection of units to take part in specific operations is entirely a matter for the Commander-in-Chief, General MacArthur.

‘It would be curious for me to say to General MacArthur that he must use one particular force in an operation and not the force he himself determined.’ 213
Wednesday 3 November Canberra

Holds press conference which includes discussion on merchant shipping and supplies. Representatives receive the ‘transcript of an off-the-record talk to correspondents in Moscow by Mr Anthony Eden,’ which was cabled out to Mr Curtin.

Makes national broadcast warning that the failure of the Fourth Liberty Loan would be the ‘equivalent of losing an AIF division with all equipment in action.’


  • War Cabinet approval of funds to enable the release of schools at present occupied by Departments of Navy and Air.
  • The appointment of a committee to inquire into increased costs to wheat-growers resulting from the Harvest Workers' Award. 214
Thursday 4 November Canberra

Gives directions for the displaying of flags on Commonwealth buildings on 7 November, the National Day of Russia, and inviting private citizens and business firms to join in. 215

Friday 5 November Canberra

Makes statement on the four-power (United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and China) declaration of security at the Moscow Conference.

‘Although the four-Power declaration of security has less of an immediate practical character than some other decisions of the Moscow conference, it has a special significance in that it is the first agreed governmental statement outlining the security arrangements contemplated for the immediate post-war period. The declaratory powers pledge themselves to act in concert both in bringing about the surrender and disarmament of their respective enemies and in the adoption of the measures necessary to prevent those enemy powers from again becoming aggressors. Until a general system of security is established, the four Powers undertake to act as custodians of the peace on behalf of all the United Nations, each of which will have the right to take part in the consultations preceding any decision to take joint action on behalf of the community of nations.’ 216
Saturday 6 November Canberra
  Mrs Elsie Curtin leaves to return to Western Australia. 217
Monday 8 November Canberra
  Attends luncheon for the Canadian Press Delegation, Messrs A Ford, B T Richardson and L Pare, and expresses gratitude for Canada’s assistance during the war. 218
Wednesday 10 November Melbourne, Victoria Barracks

Meets with members of the Australian Council of Trades Unions and discusses coalmining questions

Attends meeting of War Cabinet.

Announces over-subscription of the Fourth Liberty Loan. 219
Thursday 11 November Melbourne

Holds press conference and:

‘… privately describes Evatt’s statement on the Moscow conference as “somewhat effusive”. … Evatt also privately agrees that there has been some rather fulsome talk about the conference.

Curtin was angry about the publication of the proposal to bring the Duke of Gloucester here as Governor-General. He said the information had been obtained in a sneaky fashion from somebody who had expected to get something from a section of the press, and he probably would. … He declined to say anything for publication. The King, he said, would be shocked at the report. Already he (Curtin) had been swamped with remonstrances.’

Attends ceremony to place Commonwealth and State wreaths on Rock of Remembrance.

Speaks about Armistice Day:

‘Every generation has its challenge. For the men of 1914-18 it was a sacrifice, the measure of which will endure wherever the English language is spoken. Remembrance of them calls from us all on this day a determination that to-day's generation shall be as worthy.

We look back upon the years that have passed since the Armistice Day of 1918. We see the evidences of the failure to achieve the things for which those men fought - the lost causes and the unfulfilled ideals. So to this generation comes the challenge that not only shall the fighting men be given everything that will enable them to win through in this terrible struggle, but that they shall have, in common with all peoples, a new world.

This is a solemn day. It should be for all an occasion for dedication. Upon the sacrifices of the men of the last war and of this war can, and must, be built a society in which the causes of war shall be eliminated. It will not be sufficient if gallant men give their lives, shatter their bodies and wreck their minds simply to win a military victory over the forces of aggression. There must be, too, a victory over everything that is alien to a decent way of life. That should be our Armistice Day ideal, for realization within our generation.’

Makes statements on:

  • The use of militia in New Guinea.
  • War Council consideration of a review of the nature, extent and balance of the war effort in the light of the manpower position. 220
Friday 12 November Melbourne
  Makes statement on production policy for heavy bombers. 221
Sunday 14 November Melbourne Town Hall
  Speaks at reception for Canadian press delegation, given by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Nettlefold. Uses the occasion to ‘stress the ties of Empire rather than the new-found links to North America.' 222
Monday 15 November Melbourne

Holds press conference and reveals that ‘Britain and Russia have decided to ask Turkey to join in the war by the end of the year.’

Announces the appointment of HRH the Duke of Gloucester as Governor General of Australia, to succeed Lord Gowrie.

[Lord Gowrie was Governor of South Australia, 1928-34; Governor of New South Wales, 1935-36; Governor-General of Australia from 1936 - a term which was extended for one year in 1940, for a further year in 1941, and for a further year from January, 1943.] 223
Wednesday 17 November Canberra
  Holds press conference and intimates that Australia’s role in the South-West Pacific would be that of ‘”a hewer of wood and carrier of water”. By this he meant that we were to concentrate on the food supply position and leave the fighting to others.' 224
Friday 19 November Canberra


  • Amendments to the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations.
  • Total subscription of the Fourth Liberty Loan.

Makes statement indicating no change in the portfolios of Mr Beasley as Minister for Shipping and Mr. Drakeford as Minister for Civil Aviation, in response to comment by Minister for Transport, Mr Ward, that all land, sea and air transport should be controlled by the Commonwealth Transport Department.

Makes statement on the arrangements made with the State Premiers for State police to co-operate in the policing of illegal trade in rubber and tyres.225
Monday 22 November Canberra
  Statement comparing Australian and Canadian methods of loan-raising. 226
Tuesday 23 November Canberra

Attends meeting of full Federal Cabinet, which decided to appoint a sub-committee on Constitutional powers.

Announces the reconstitution of the Central Coal Reference Board.

Makes statements on:

  • Proposed constitution referendum and a decision by Full Cabinet to appoint a sub-committee of Cabinet to submit final recommendations to Cabinet on the Powers Bill.
  • Full Cabinet decision on appointments to the Repatriation Commission.
  • Full Cabinet decision on payment of income tax concessions. Full Cabinet review of manpower commitments and release of manpower for primary production. 227
Wednesday 24 November Canberra

Attends meeting of War Cabinet which decided to appoint ‘a Central Realisation Board to consider the question of disposal and realisation of war assets at the termination of hostilities.’

Makes statements on:

  • Questions concerning constitutional amendment.
  • War Cabinet decision on future policy for the enlistment of women in the services.

‘Women (including widows) with children under sixteen years will not be enlisted unless they have special academic or technical qualifications not usually held by women and which are required for particular posts in the women's services. The possession of these qualifications must be supported by the production by applicants of a certificate or diploma of a recognized institution or body for the special qualifications required. In these cases also, it must be assured before enlistment that the children will be properly cared for, for example, by relatives or at boarding schools. In regard to women with dependants other than children, these will be enlisted if it is considered desirable by the interviewing services' representatives attached to the manpower offices.’

  • War Cabinet decision to move away from cost-plus profit method of contracting, and government contracting arrangements.
  • War Cabinet consideration of the disposal and realization of assets on the termination of hostilities. 228
Thursday 25 November Canberra

Holds press conference and indicates that he is:

‘… anxious that Australian papers should avoid raising the White Australia issue or even referring to the term “White Australia” at the present juncture. He [Curtin] is concerned about the effect on the coloured people, particularly the Chinese, who are on our side in the war. He points out that there is no legal term “White Australia” which is a term arising out of a policy legally set out in the “Alien” Immigration Restriction Act. … He said he does not want the Japanese to be given propaganda material for use in China. … Dr Hsu Mu, the Chinese Minister, has raised the White Australia question with Curtin in the past and on previous occasions Curtin has indicated that he has had a number of difficulties with Hsu Mu. …

Curtin made a brief statement for publication today on the White Australia issue, but he issued instructions that it should be censored for broadcasting and transmission overseas.’

Announces application of strike regulations (National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations), to woodline workers employed by Goldfields Firewood Supply Company, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

Denies reported references in the press to a contemplated change in immigration policy.

Makes statements on:

  • Betting beyond the course at race meetings in response to a reported statement by the Premier of South Australia (Mr Playford) that he would not take action to prohibit betting beyond the course on South Australian race-courses.
  • Future policy for the manufacture of aircraft engines in Australia, endorsed by the Advisory War Council.
  • The text of a telegram received from the State Secretary for Dominion Affairs and the reply sent, concerning the service of the Australian Forestry Group in Britain. 229
Friday 26 November Canberra

Holds press conference and indicates he is ‘greatly concerned over the implications of the Moscow decision regarding a second front in Europe in the spring, which America favours and Russia seeks. … Curtin said that he had no doubt that Churchill was very worried.’

Makes statement defending black market prosecutions and breaches of the Simplification of Meals Order. 230
Monday 29 November Canberra
  Makes statement on a report submitted to the War Cabinet on lend lease, the reciprocal agreement and the provision of aid by Australia to the United States. 231
c. end November Brisbane
  Meets with General MacArthur, and discusses issues that had ‘particular reference to the “serious and prolonged operations” against Japan.’ 232
Wednesday 1 December Canberra

Makes statement on Australia’s food commitments to Britain.

‘The Government is determined in regard to food that the commitments that it has given to Britain, together with the obligations that it has undertaken in relation to the forces, will be discharged.

This makes it imperative that Australians should ration themselves cheerfully as another contribution to the united cause for which we are fighting. … It must not be forgotten that in Australia's hour of danger Britain supplied not only Spitfires, but much of the equipment that helped to save this country from invasion. Australia could not do less than its utmost to safeguard the British people from starvation.’ 233
Thursday 2 December Canberra
  Announces the appointment of a special parliamentary committee to examine the pay-as-you-earn taxation plan and alternative proposals. 234
Friday 3 December Canberra

Makes statement on meeting with General MacArthur:

‘…The war effort of Australia is now entering upon a new phase. The defensive stage has passed and the initiative has been gained from the enemy. … I repeat the gratitude of the nation to all those on the fighting and home fronts who have contributed, many with their lives or at great sacrifice, to this improvement in the situation. … There is no more difficult and delicate operation in war than the passage of a nation from defence to offence. The diversions and re-groupings involve endless adjustments over the entire national economy. … General MacArthur has expressed his full agreement with the general principles laid down by the Government. … [his] attitude has been in keeping with the warm co-operation and complete understanding that have always expressed themselves in his relations with the Australian Government. … I have assured General MacArthur that Australia's war effort, whatever shape it may take by this process of re-adjustment, will be the maximum of which Australia is capable.’

Makes statement on meeting between President Roosevelt, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek and Mr Churchill and issues text of joint public communiqué. 235
Saturday 4 December Canberra

Makes statement on Christmas spending.

‘The Christmas season is almost at hand. I ask the Australian people to pause before planning this year's celebration. Normally, all would be commencing to purchase gifts for friends and relatives. But this season of friendship and goodwill is overhung by the shadow of war. All Australians will not celebrate Christmas in Australia. Men and women of the fighting forces are scattered on battlefront of sea, land and air throughout the world as part of the democracies' army against oppression.

This country is on a war footing, keeping to a plan that will ensure to the fighting forces a steady and expanding stream of war material without which all their valour would be of no avail. An orgy of unrestrained and foolish Christmas spending would disrupt that plan and reduce the effectiveness of the nation to maintain its war programme.

No true Australian at such a time in the nation's history dare do anything that would divert the energies of the country away from the vital task. Thoughts of a peace-time Christmas must be set aside. That means saving, not spending money. I ask the Australian people not to waste money on peace-time gifts. The war effort dictates the type of gift to give - war savings certificates and national savings stamps. Keep Christmas for the fighting men's benefit, not for individual pleasure and satisfaction.’ 236
Monday 6 December Canberra

Holds first press conference since returning from Brisbane and a meeting with General MacArthur. Mr Curtin said ‘he did not intend to give any off-the-cuff record review of his talk with General MacArthur.’

Reviews the state of the war.

Makes statement and speaks at a press conference on the official anthem of Australia, God Save the King, and the playing of Advance Australia Fair:

‘The Government does not recognize Advance Australia Fair. It is not the official anthem. ... I do not know of any anthem, other than the national anthem, God Save the King, which has been adopted as the Australian anthem, but I know that Advance Australia Fair has been used extensively as a typical Australian song by the Australian Broadcasting Commission at public meetings and the like, and so has Waltzing Matilda been sung a lot, particularly in Canada by our airmen.’

Makes statement on Full Cabinet decisions on cost of living increase, the reduction in the rate of pensions, and the fixing of the rate by regulation. 237

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Tuesday 7 December Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Full Cabinet approval of a draft bill covering unemployment, sickness and special benefits and Cabinet approval for the establishment of a national pharmaceutical service.
  • Full Cabinet consideration of a report by the Commonwealth Housing Commission.
  • Full Cabinet housing target of 50,000 houses in the first year after the war. 238
Wednesday 8 December Canberra

Remains in the Lodge all day with slight illness.

Issues statement confirming the entitlement to play Advance Australia Fair if so desired:

‘The Minister for Information (Mr Calwell) is perfectly entitled to request the motion picture theatres to play Advance Australia Fair, or any other anthem if he thinks that it will help build morale. The leaders of the motion picture industry are equally entitled to carry out his request if they so desire.’

Makes statement on Full Cabinet decision to amend the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations, prohibiting the display of posters containing electoral matter over a certain size, providing for their operation in all State and Territorial elections and referendums.

Receives message of ‘cordial greetings and good wishes’ from Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek on Australia entering the third year of the war and responds appreciatively. 239
Friday 10 December Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Future policy for air raid precautions and civil defence.
  • The setting aside of a radiotelegraph channel specifically for the transmission of press traffic between Britain and Australia. 240
Monday 13 December Canberra

Makes prime ministerial statement on censorship.

‘The Australian Government's view, which is shared by the Commander-in-Chief, is that the newspapers should be free to treat all accounts of the war as their judgment regards proper, the only stipulation being that there shall not be conveyed to the enemy information that would be of use to him.’ 241
Tuesday 14 December Canberra

Holds press conference on censorship issues.

Makes two-hour speech at opening session of federal Labor conference stressing Australia’s attachment to the Empire.

‘Curtin was given standing ovations by the delegates and his speech was hailed by the press in both Australia and Britain.’

‘Mr Curtin’s fine speech … to the delegates of the ALP Conference was in line with the ideas of every thinking Australian.’

Makes speech on Australian policy on external affairs.

‘A new world is being created to-day by the terrific struggle in which we are engaged. The declarations of the aims for which the peoples of the United Nations are fighting, working, suffering and dying have promised that it will be better than the one we knew with its recurrent wars and grievous sacrifices, its economic depressions and widespread want. These declarations mark new milestones along the road of human progress and confer new charters on the rights of man. The four essential human freedoms defined by President Roosevelt, and the common principles of national policies as outlined in the Atlantic Charter, are comparable in their significance to Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. Freedom of speech and worship, freedom from want and fear are the minimum conditions under which man can attain his best self as an individual, as a citizen of a nation, and as an inhabitant of a world society.

Australia should collaborate with other peace-loving nations, in accordance with the provisions of the Atlantic Charter, “to establish a peace which will confer on all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries and which will afford assurance that all may live their lives in freedom from fear and want”.’ 242
Thursday 16 December Canberra
  Makes statement denying newspaper reports that he had told delegates at a Labor Party conference that he would be visiting London early in the new year. 243
Friday 17 December Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Censorship in response to a question asking if his statement of 13 December was a direction to the Chief Publicity Censor.
  • Advice received from the Duke of Gloucester that he did not wish for any unnecessary expense to be incurred in relation to his forthcoming term as Governor General, or any facilities in excess of those supplied to his predecessors. 244
Sunday 19 December Canberra
  Makes statement on application of a direction under National Security (Supplementary) Regulations to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, to ‘discontinue the lock-out at the beginning of the shift commencing at midnight, 19th December, 1943.' 245
Monday 20 December Canberra
  Holds press conference and says he will not ‘budge on the seamen’s dispute over escort vessels. … “If it was not Christmas or if an election in the Seamen’s Union was not pending, there would be no trouble,” said Curtin. “We just cannot provide the ships for the trade. … It is utterly impossible to authorise more escort vessels without weakening the position in the north.”’ 246
Tuesday 21 December Canberra

Makes statement on a direction to (under National Security Australasia, (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations) members of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia, to return to work.

Makes prime ministerial statement on food supplies and food shortages.

Wednesday 22 December Canberra

Holds press conference in which:

He ‘makes special reference to a cable message published in some morning papers revealing that an airline was operating between Ceylon and Australia. Existence of this line was revealed by Curtin off the record some weeks ago. He said he was not blaming the papers for publishing the story, but the Communications Censor should have stopped it. … Curtin said he did not propose to impose a censorship on further reference to the line but he makes a request to all papers to exercise a voluntary censorship.’

Makes statements on:

  • Regulations covering deserting seamen not born in Australia.
  • The strike by members of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia and the manning of ships by naval ratings. 248
Friday 24 December Canberra - Melbourne

Travels by car to Melbourne.

From the time Curtin ‘leaves Canberra until he returns three weeks later, his movements will be subject to censorship. He will give no interviews and make no statements during his absence from Canberra, all statements in his name being issued from Canberra. … During his absence no Cabinet meetings will be held.’ 249
Saturday 25 December Melbourne

Spends third successive Christmas away from home, but with his two married sisters and his brother, George.

‘He has not had a Christmas dinner with Mrs Curtin since he became Prime Minister.’

Leaves by train for Perth. 250
Sunday 26 December Melbourne - Perth

Visits St Vincent’s Hospital to see Tom Unkovich, a West Australian jockey who was injured in a severe fall at Moonee Valley.

‘Leaves Melbourne for Perth for a well-earned few days’ rest from public engagements.' 251

Wednesday 29 December Perth

Makes statement on the award of the Victoria Cross to Private Richard Kelliher.

‘The award of the Victoria Cross to Private Kelliher is symbolical of the heroism with which our fighting forces have engaged the enemy in the New Guinea campaign. I offer my congratulations to his mother, with whom the nation will share a great sense of pride.

During an attack by this soldier's platoon on an enemy's position at Nadzab, New Guinea, on the morning of 13th September, 1943, the platoon came under heavy fire of a concealed enemy machine gun post approximately 50 yards away. Five of the platoon were killed and three wounded and it was found impossible to advance without further losses. In the face of these casualties Private Kelliher suddenly, on his own initiative, and without orders, dashed towards the post and hurled two grenades at it killing some of the enemy but not all. Noting this, he then returned to his section, seized a Bren gun, again dashed forward to within 30 yards of the post and with accurate fire completely silenced it.

Returning from his already gallant action Private Kelliher next requested permission to go forward again and rescue his wounded section leader. This he successfully accomplished, though under heavy rifle fire from another position. Private Kelliher by these actions acted as an inspiration to everyone in his platoon and not only enabled the advance to continue but also saved his section leader's life.

His most conspicuous bravery and extreme devotion to duty in the face of the heavy enemy fire resulted in the capture of this strong enemy position.' 252