Diary of a Labour Man

1944 Prime Minister
Tuesday 4 January Perth


  • Additional payment to wheat-growers to cover additional costs for the 1943-1944 season.
  • Conference of Commonwealth and State ministers to be held on 25 January, to be followed by meetings of the Australian Loan Council and the National Works Council. 1
Wednesday 5 January Perth

Announces terms of First Victory Loan. 2

Saturday 8 January Perth

Celebrates fifty-ninth birthday in Perth.

‘…early in the morning, the telephone and front-door bell rang repeatedly, as many personal friends of the Curtin family sent good wishes. The Prime Minister rose as usual about 7 am and spent an hour or so in his garden before paying one important call, and attending to a few routine official matters. Otherwise his birthday was very little different to any other day.’

Received many congratulatory letters. Secretary Gladys Joyce was responsible for posting replies to the letters, but found when she went to the post office for stamps she was limited to five only. ‘When she requested more and disclosed who they were for, she was informed that it would not matter “if he was the King of England – five is the allowance.”’ 3
Tuesday 11 January Canberra
  Makes statement expressing pleasure on learning of awards for gallantry to United States personnel. 4
Monday 17 January Canberra

Presides over conference between Australian and New Zealand ministers.

Makes a ‘notable speech’ stating that the conference was of ‘deep significance to the whole structure of the British Commonwealth of Nations. New Zealand and Australia had found that their war problems could not be satisfactorily settled separately.’

Makes statements on:

  • The awarding of the 1939-1943 Star to the fighting forces.
  • The First Victory Loan.
‘The war is costing Australia £1,600,000 a day and the assistance of all the people, whether in the services or in civil life, will be needed to bring it to a victorious conclusion. Australia has gone far on the road of internal finance, and I am confident that those Australians whose responsibility it is to back the fighting men will not be found wanting in ensuring that all their requirements are met in full, and that those who are at home do all they can to speed the victory.’ 5
Tuesday 18 January Canberra

Attends first business session of conference between Australian and New Zealand ministers.

Makes a statement at the conference on the defence of the South-West Pacific. 6
Wednesday 19 January Canberra

Holds first press interview since his return from the West which includes questions on :

  • the supply of aircraft

‘… every time there was any sort of offensive in Europe, allocations to this theatre dropped.

  • The use of United Kingdom forces coming to join Australian and New Zealand troops.

‘Curtin said that this would not happen immediately, but before the land forces came here there would be considerable naval strength diverted here.’

Announces that Dr Evatt will act as Minister for Supply and Shipping, as Mr Beasley has had medical advice that he should ‘refrain from active exercise of his duties.’ 7
Thursday 20 January Canberra

Makes statement on a meeting of War Cabinet attended by the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Ministers for Defence and Labour of New Zealand, where a discussion took place on the war efforts of the two Dominions in the light of their respective manpower positions. 8

Friday 21 January Canberra
  Attends meeting of War Cabinet which decided that a departmental committee be appointed ‘to review Australia’s shipbuilding industry, and to recommend plans for its vigorous development on a peace-time basis.’

Signs Australia-NZ Pact on Pacific Security:



‘An historic instrument of agreement embodying decisions made this week for collaboration between Australia and New Zealand in defence and other mutual problems in the Pacific zone…

The agreement is of threefold importance. It is a landmark in international collaboration in the Pacific. It is a landmark in the development of Australian and New Zealand foreign policy. It is a landmark in the constitutional growth in the British Commonwealth of Nations. For the first time, neighbouring Pacific countries - Australia and New Zealand - have agreed to collaborate in the handling of international problems of common interest. The agreement represents an attempt by the two countries to draw on their special knowledge and to use their own resources to contribute to the peace, welfare and good government of the whole Pacific region, not in the interests of themselves alone but in the interests of the native peoples of all Pacific countries.’

Makes statements on War Cabinet:

  • Adoption of recommendations covering members of the women’s auxiliary services when pregnant.
  • Decision on changes in policy on entry and length of courses at Royal Military College, Duntroon.
  • Consideration of post-war plans on Australian civil aviation policy and organisation.
  • Decision to appoint a departmental committee to review Australia's shipping position and the shipbuilding industry and to recommend plans for its vigorous development on a peace-time basis. 9
Monday 24 January Canberra

Makes statements on Full Cabinet:

  • Authorisation of the importation of nitrate of soda from Chile, for agricultural purposes.
  • Decision that Australia should be represented at the conference of the International Labour Office to be held in the United States in April, 1944. 10
Tuesday 25 January Canberra

Attends Premiers Conference at which the press were admitted, but ‘unable to report on two items on the agenda – the use of internees and prisoners of war, and civil aviation. Note-taking during discussion of these items was prohibited but press representatives were permitted to remain and listen.’

‘Curtin gave the Premiers a review of the war, details of which he did not disclose to press representatives’ and:

‘… told the conference that Allied command could not be expected to treat the people of Italy with kid gloves, but it also had to be borne in mind that the command was out to show the Italians the difference between Allied and Fascist control’.

Makes statements:

  • On issues of health and youth welfare at the conference of State Ministers.
  • In response to 24-hour stoppage in tram and omnibus services in Sydney metropolitan area. Issues a directive under National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations to all members of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Tramway and Motor Omnibus Employees’ Association to perform their usual duties on and after 25 January, 1944.
  • On Commonwealth Government consideration of domicile in relation to uniform divorce laws.
  • On Commonwealth request to forgo grants to States.
  • On prospects for coal production in 1944.

‘In 1943 too much coal was lost through strikes and absenteeism. … Everything depends upon the coal industry of New South Wales. If the men and the managements pull together and avoid pin-pricking, one of the basic causes of economic difficulty in the industries of Australia will be greatly reduced in its incidence.’ 11

Wednesday 26 January Parliament House, Canberra

Holds press conference which included comments on:

‘…the need to keep the Army to the requisite level, and the difficulties associated with this policy. … Curtin said people were saying that the Army was growing “too fat”’ when only a year ago people were saying that he was preventing the Army from getting enough men to march to the gates of Tokyo.’

Receives official call from the Diplomatic Corps to mark the celebration of Australia Day.

Speaks at an Australian Natives’ Association function commemorating Australia Day.

Makes statements:

  • On housing issues at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers indicating that State officers would consult with the Commonwealth department to identify specifics.
  • Expressing strong dissatisfaction at stoppages by tram and omnibus workers, and coalminers, on Australia Day.

‘I am appalled at this maltreatment of the Australian war effort on this Australia Day by Australian workers who have put their own grievances in a higher priority than the services that are vital to maintaining the fighting men at the front with the maximum capacity the nation could give them if everybody gave his or her utmost. Today in the Sydney metropolitan area the Munitions Department has had to make arrangements to get to the plants the workers without whom there would be a slow-up of munitions supplies to the front.

The loss of coal by 21 mines not operating means that it is merely begging the issue to ignore the effect that this loss of production must have on munitions and supply production and on transport services and, therefore, on the effectiveness of the country to wage the war efficiently.’ 12
Thursday 27 January Canberra

Addresses meeting of National Works Council.

‘”The sternest tests are still in front of this country,” he said, “There can be no relaxation at all of the intensity and comprehensiveness of our war effort.”’

Makes prime ministerial statement on the state of the war.

Reviews manpower resources and shortages. 13
Sunday 30 January Canberra
  Has ‘a pleasant interview with General Lumsden, Mr Churchill’s personal representative.’ Curtin thought General Lumsden ‘would give Mr Churchill a very favourable report,’ and ‘was pleased with Lumsden’s judgment of the Australian war effort and his statement that Australians were the best fighters. … No public reference would be made to the capacity in which General Lumsden was visiting Australia.’ 14
Monday 31 January Canberra

Holds press conference.

Makes statement on atrocities in the Pacific area.

‘The facts [from official statements by the United States Army and Navy Departments and by the British Foreign Secretary, Mr Eden] are so horrifying that they surely speak for themselves and reveal to every body the nature of the enemy which Australia has, for over two years, been resisting. To relieve the prisoners of war in Japanese hands - who include not only the fighting forces but also civilians of our own race and peaceful citizens of other races - calls for the earliest termination of the war. Resolutions of protest and expressions of horror are insufficient and what is needed is the complete devotion of all to the termination of the war victoriously.' 15

Tuesday 1 February Canberra

Makes prime ministerial statement on strikes.

‘I address a few quiet words to the workers of this country. I speak to them particularly because without them, whether as members of the fighting forces or as industrial and rural workers, this nation could not have continued to wage war for over four years. I say that because I know their worth as I know their weaknesses - a lifetime association with workers' movements has given me that knowledge.

I put it to the workers that, as a class, they have been given much by this Government. Equally, they have a responsibility not only to the Government and the nation but they have a duty to their class. For, if they fail the Government and the nation at this crucial period in our history, then they fail their own class for all time.

I put it again to the workers of this country. I see no escape from the strains and stresses that war has imposed. Victory alone ran effect the desired change. Without victory, the workers as a class, and Australia as a nation, vanish. I give an assurance that a balance has been struck and will be held as evenly as possible of all the demands made upon manpower. But the Government will not give way to pressure groups. It will stand as firm as it does against the enemy. I ask the workers to stand as firmly for Australia.’ 16
Thursday 3 February Canberra

Holds press conference which includes comments on:

  • Extra revenue from beer and tobacco duties.
  • Complaints by US newspapers on the Anzac Pact.
  • Churchill’s announcement in the House of Commons of a Prime Ministers’ conference.
Discusses miners’ grievances, especially meat rationing and taxation matters, with a deputation of Miners’ Federation officials. 17
Wednesday 4 February Canberra

Holds press conference which includes:

Curtin expressing ‘doubt about whether the target date for the invasion of Western Europe would be achieved.’ He refers ‘feelingly to the difficulties of invading Europe and said he wouldn’t like to be among the poor ---s who would undertake it.’

Makes statements on War Cabinet decisions on:

  • The Commonwealth Government Re-construction Training Scheme.
  • The payment of Australian forces held as prisoners by Germany and Italy.
  • The extension of the free superannuation scheme for members of the Commonwealth Public Service and permanent members of the forces.
  • The transfer of operations performed by the Commonwealth Salvage Board to the Department of the Navy
  • The provision of funds for the expenses of the Army Education Service for 1943-1944. 18
Monday 7 February Canberra

Attends meeting of Full Cabinet.

Makes statements on:

  • Full Cabinet’s view that the Commonwealth’s active participation was necessary to assist the States to overcome the housing shortage, and the terms of the assistance that could be provided to the States.
  • Action taken by Full Cabinet to alleviate the housing shortage, including the redrafting of regulations, the reconstitution of the War Workers' Housing Trust as the Commonwealth War Housing Trust and the appointment of a Director of War Housing.
  • Full Cabinet approval for the extension of benefits for employees’ compensation and bringing the Commonwealth Act into conformity with New South Wales legislation covering compensation for injury to workers.
  • Government control of munitions production.
  • Full Cabinet consideration of recommendations for further works under the River Murray Waters Act.
  • Full Cabinet approval for the entry into the Commonwealth of up to 150 additional Jewish refugee children from France:
  • Full Cabinet authorisation for the preparation of a bill to control the coal industry:
‘…I could wish that there was some one in this country who could tell me how to get more coal. … we need 2,000,000 more tons of coal than we are now getting in order to prosecute the war with the strength which our other resources enable us to deploy. I say that candidly and frankly. I have said before that I believe that it is the duty of the Australian Coal and Shale Employees’ Federation to use all its strength in the interests of the great cause to which it is pledged no less than is the Government.’ 19
Tuesday 8 February Canberra

10.30 am? – 12.55 pm, 2.35 pm – 6.24 pm, 8.8 pm – 10.15 pm

Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, and makes a ‘statement on the war position and also indicated the Bills to be brought down during this session’. 20
Wednesday 9 February House of Representatives

Provides a review of the situation in the various theatres of war together with an outline of the implications of the changing situation to Australia. Points to the fact that the allies are on the offensive in all areas but that much more hard work and sacrifice will be required if victory is to be achieved. Also points to the difficulty in manpower and resource planning as a result of the changing requirements of the armed forces as the war progresses.

Proposes a motion that a committee comprising of the Treasurer (Mr Chifley), chairman, the Minister for Customs (Senator Keane), Senator Spicer, Messrs Anthony, Coles, Scullin and Spender be appointed to enquire into and report on pay-as-you-earn income tax. Motion carried.

Decides against holding a secret meeting of the Parliament to discuss 'certain matters of Army administration.'

Makes statements on:

  • New Civil Construction Corps Compensation Scheme.
  • The state of the war:

‘I know of no burden that the people of Australia are today bearing which is comparable with that of the peoples of China, Russia, or Britain. I know something of the facts. As we have no burden equal to that which they are carrying, and are asked to make no sacrifices equal to those which they will still be called upon to make, it surely is not too much to ask that every man and woman in this country will regard this year not only as a year of fate, but also as a year in which his or her devotion to the total cause will either shorten or prolong the struggle.’

Gives direction under National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) regulations to all persons employed at the works of General Motors-Holden's Limited, Woodville (South Australia) to perform the duties they were performing before an industrial stoppage. 21

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Thursday 10 February House of Representatives

Holds press conference at which he says he has ‘ordered the censoring for overseas of all references in the House and the Senate to the transfer of Australian senior Army officers to their posts. He had done this after consultation with Menzies.’

Makes statement on opposition to meat rationing:

‘No person in Australia is entitled to be supplied with meat without the presentation of a coupon, unless he or she is resident in an exempt area. That is the law, and it is going to stand. No butcher is entitled to obtain supplies of meat in excess of what would be a reasonable quota for him to have in order to conform to the reasonable anticipations of his trade. In view of all that has happened, I suggest that those interested parties who seek to destroy meat rationing in this country had better give the matter further thought.’ 22
Friday 11 February House of Representatives

Following comments from the opposition concerning the low level of coal production in Australia and the problems of strikes and absenteeism, attempts to justify the Government’s actions in this regard. In addition, foreshadows legislation with respect to the coalmining industry.

Makes statement on there being no Executive interference in the judiciary.23

Saturday 12 February Canberra
  Announces a decision of the Commonwealth Government to purchase dressed sheepskins as a gift to the Soviet Union. 24
Monday 14 February Canberra


  • Discontinuance of daylight saving at 2 am on Sunday 26 March.
  • First advance in the number six wheat pool payment. 25
Tuesday 15 February Canberra

Makes statement marking the second anniversary of the Fall of Singapore:

‘After two years it may be said that Australia has survived her Dunkirk in a manner not unworthy of people who are members of the British race. But there is no more cause for complacency now than there was when the main barrier between Australia and the Japanese had been smashed down and gloomy prophets were competing with foolish optimists. Until Japan has been finally smashed, satisfaction at the comparative safety of Australian homes must always be tempered by the memory of the number of homes from which well-loved members of family are missing. Any tendency to slacken the war effort cannot survive the thought of the men of the Eighth Division, who are in the hands of a cruel, uncivilized enemy.

Reviewing the happenings of the past two years, gratitude and a sense of responsibility to our fighting men, and to those of the Allies who have helped us to keep Japanese savagery out of Australia, are feelings which can have no limits. For the duration of this war and for a long time after that, this gratitude must be expressed in actions, not in pious phrases.’

Announces Full Cabinet decision to re-appoint the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, Mr H T Hermitage, and Deputy Governor Mr G M Shain, for a period of two years from 1 July. 26
Wednesday 16 February Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.35 pm

Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, and asks ‘leave to introduce a Bill to deal with the Coal Mining industry; after an explanation of the general terms of the Bill leave was granted on a motion of Senator Large & Mr Conellan.27
Thursday 17 February Canberra

10.30 am? – 12 noon
Chairs ‘Special’ meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. States that ‘the reason for calling the meeting was to determine procedure to be adopted in connection with the Censure motion as moved by the Leader of the Opposition; after discussion it was resolved to leave the whole matter in the hands of the Leader.’

  House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • Consultations between Australian Coal and Shale Employees’ Federation and the Government.
  • The Commonwealth Historical Memorials Committee and the commissioning of portraits, including one of himself by Captain Ivor Hele.
  • A report from the Commonwealth War Housing Trust in regard to the progress of the new permanent home building programme.
  • Maintenance of export of food supplies to Britain. 28
Friday 18 February House of Representatives

Makes statement on State law in respect of coalmines.

Exchanges letters with Leader of the Opposition, Mr Menzies, Mr Hughes, Deputy Leader of the UAP and Mr Fadden, Leader of the CP, concerning participation in, and resignation from, the Advisory War Council. 29
Saturday 19 February Canberra

Makes statement on a consultation with the Leader of the Country party, Mr Fadden, the Deputy Leader of the Country party, Mr McEwen, and Sir Earle Page, MP on the Advisory War Council, its work, functions and procedure.

Announces formation and functions of a committee to look at promotion of Commonwealth Officers. 30
Monday 21 February Canberra
  Makes statement on the anniversary of Red Army Day, and directs that flags be flown from Commonwealth buildings. 31
Tuesday 22 February Canberra

Attends meeting of Full Cabinet, at which it was decided to create a standing subcommittee to deal with all civil administration in Papua and New Guinea.

Announces Full Cabinet consideration of the report on pay-as-you-earn taxation by the Joint Parliamentary Committee, and the adoption of its plan.

Makes statement on Full Cabinet consideration of a report by a sub-committee of Cabinet, on the future administration of Papua and New Guinea. 32
Wednesday 23 February House of Representatives

Introduces the Second Reading of the Coal Production (War-Time) Bill 1944 and initially points to the importance of the coal industry to the nation, particularly in terms of war. After alluding to the industrial problems in coalmines in NSW, outlines the major provisions in the Bill relating to the power of the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner to ensure continued production of coal.

Sends letter to Mr P Spender confirming a conversation on his continuing membership of the Advisory War Council.

Makes statement acknowledging the contribution of members who have resigned from the Advisory War Council and stressing the importance of the Council’s work.

Announces direction ‘to certain persons employed at the Commonwealth Oxygen and Acetylene Proprietary Limited's works at Sydney, New South Wales, to resume work.' 33
Thursday 24 February Canberra - Melbourne

Attends meeting of War Advisory Committee.

Responds to comments from Mr Cameron concerning the apparent lack of effectiveness or organisation of the armed forces and in particular of certain senior officers.

Presents report of meeting of the Advisory War Council at which Sir Earle Page took the oath of an Advisory War Councillor.

Makes statements:

  • Advising that the Governor General in Council has accepted the resignations from the Advisory War Council and approved the appointment of Sir Earle Page to the Council.
  • On changes of command in the Australian Army.

Makes prime ministerial statement expressing confidence in General Blamey.

Travels to Melbourne to attend ‘an extremely important conference with the Chiefs of Staff’ on ‘the significance of a Japanese concentration of warships in Singapore,’ though ‘the story given out at the time was that he was going to Melbourne to visit a relative.’ 34

Friday 25 February Melbourne
  Attends ‘an extremely important conference with the Chiefs of Staff’ on ‘the significance of a Japanese concentration of warships in Singapore’. 35
Saturday 26 February Melbourne

Attends ‘an extremely important conference with the Chiefs of Staff’ on ‘the significance of a Japanese concentration of warships in Singapore’.

  Gloucester Park, Perth

JCPML.  Records of the Curtin Family. 'Kollector' winner of the Sires Produce Stakes of 1944 Bred and owned by Mr J P Stratton Decorated with the Winning Sash by Mrs John Curtin, wife of the Prime Minister Gloucester Park February 26th 1944. JCPML00376/158

Mrs Curtin presents winning sash to Kollector, winner of the Shires Produce Stakes. 36
Sunday 27 February Melbourne
  Attends ‘an extremely important conference with the Chiefs of Staff’ on ‘the significance of a Japanese concentration of warships in Singapore’. 37
Monday 28 February Melbourne
  Attends ‘an extremely important conference with the Chiefs of Staff’ on ‘the significance of a Japanese concentration of warships in Singapore’ 38
Tuesday 29 February Melbourne - Canberra
  Probably returns to Canberra.
Wednesday 1 March Canberra
  Indisposed. 39
Thursday 2 March Canberra
  Holds press conference and indicates that ‘the armistice is “not far off”, and advises reporters to "keep a close watch on what would happen in the weeks to come in Australia". 40
Monday 6 March Canberra

Attends meeting of War Cabinet, at which it was agreed that the Commonwealth Government should bear the cost of cargo protection for various ports.

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet consideration of a report on the administration of reciprocal Lend Lease aid, Australia to the United States.
  • War Cabinet approval for the Commonwealth Government to bear the cost of cargo protection schemes for various ports.
  • Strike by coalminers of the southern district Australian Coal and Shale Mine Employees’ Federation.

‘The men have defied not only the Government but the leadership of their own union and have apparently made their minds up that coalminers are able to work when they like, how they like. The answer to that is a coalminer not working at coal becomes available for any kind of service which the laws prescribes. I have only to say that the law in relation to this matter is going to take its course inexorably. No group of men can usurp the functions of the Government of Australia.’

  • War Cabinet decision to increase the size of the Army Education publication Salt, from 48 to 64 pages. 41
Tuesday 7 March House of Representatives

Holds press conference and indicates that ‘one of the biggest operational movements in the war in the west’ had been made ‘during the weekend. Japanese warships were detected proceeding south from Singapore. … We got everything in readiness for an attack but the Japanese ships turned back.’

During debate on the Post-War Reconstruction Bill, responds to an amendment proposed by the opposition and discusses the related question of the need for Constitutional reform to give greater powers to the Commonwealth.

Moves a new standing order on the appointment of a committee of privileges. Carried. 42
Wednesday 8 March House of Representatives

Speaks and makes a further statement on the strike by coalminers of the southern district Australian Coal and Shale Mine Employees’ Federation.

Makes statement on consideration by the committee of the Commonwealth Literary Fund of an increase in the rate of pension paid to beneficiaries under the fund.


Speaks at meeting forming a Canberra committee of the Gowrie Scholarship Trust Fund.

[In accordance with the Trust Deed, Gowrie Scholarships are awarded to members of the Forces and children of members of the Forces, including, in the discretion of the Trustees, grandchildren or other lineal descendents of such members. Annual Research Scholarships (normally one or two in number), are offered for research study, to graduates of Australian universities, or to others who have completed a course of tertiary education at recognised institutions in Australia. The Scholarships are tenable for up to two years at universities or other recognized research establishments, either in Australia or overseas. The Trust Deed requires that the Trustees, in awarding the Scholarships, take into consideration (in addition to educational attainments) character and other activities of the candidates, and show special consideration to lineal descendents of a member of the Forces who was killed on active service or who died as a result of any occurrence which happened during his period of enlistment. If other requirements are satisfactory, then financial hardship circumstances are given special consideration.]. 43
Thursday 9 March Canberra

Chairs ‘Special’ meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

Announces Cabinet approval of the appointment of Mr N R Mighell as Coal Commissioner, and of the call-up for military service of certain members of the southern district of the Australian Coal and Shale Employees’ Federation, and the control, under the Coal Production (War-time) Bill, by the Coal Commissioner of Coal Cliff Colliery. 44
Friday 10 March House of Representatives

Makes prime ministerial statement that it is not government policy to nationalize coalmines.

Makes statement on discussions at the proposed meeting of Prime Ministers.

‘It will not be possible for me to discuss every subject of importance to Australia during the time I shall be overseas. I shall have discussions with Ministers of State only on matters which involve inter-governmental relations. The basic purpose of my visit to London is to discuss matters with the Prime Minister and Government of Britain.’ 45
Saturday 11 March Canberra
  Makes statement on payment of passages of wives of members of the Australian forces married overseas. 46
Monday 13 March Canberra

Responds to critical statement by Sir Earle Page on the allied offensive in New Guinea.

‘Expressions of opinion about the New Guinea campaign by Sir Earle Page, MP, are unsound and misleading. They are not based on a complete knowledge of the facts.

The test by which a military campaign should be judged is by the results achieved and the price paid for them. In no campaign in this war has there been such an unbroken run of successes for so little cost as in New Guinea. There have been no disasters such as those experienced in Norway and Flanders, nor like the reverses in North Africa and Greece, nor the tragedy of Malaya.' 47
Tuesday 14 March Canberra

Attends meeting of Full Cabinet which adopted a threefold programme for the standardization of Australian railway gauges.

  House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • Inquiry into censorship - investigation and report by parliamentary committee.
  • Consideration and rejection of discussion of pay of American forces in Australia, with American Government.
  • Full Cabinet consideration of position of enemy alien internees from Britain.
  • Full Cabinet decision on the personnel of the Australian delegation to the International Labour Office Conference at Philadelphia on 20 April 1944. 48
Wednesday 15 March Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.15 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and states ‘that the full Cabinet had decided that he should go overseas for consultation with other Prime Ministers as early as possible after Parliament rises this period.’

Announcement, after consultation with Mr Menzies and Mr Fadden, of the constitution of a committee to enquire into censorship. 49
Friday 17 March House of Representatives

Moves that the matter of opening by censors of letters addressed to Members of Parliament be addressed to the Committee of Privileges. Carried.

Makes statement to mark the second anniversary of the arrival in Australia of General MacArthur.

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  Parliament House, Canberra

JCPML. Records of West Australian News Ltd. John Curtin with General MacArthur, 17 March 1944. JCPML00409/12

Attends dinner to commemorate the second anniversary of General MacArthur’s arrival in Australia.

‘Before the dinner, Lord Gowrie invested MacArthur with a knighthood that, on Curtin’s recommendation, had been bestowed on him by the King.’

Broadcasts on a network arranged by the United States Office of War Information to mark the second anniversary of the arrival in Australia of General MacArthur.



Monday 20 March Canberra

Makes statement on War Cabinet decisions:

  • That overseas internees, other than Japanese, remaining in custody may be released at the discretion of the Minister for the Army provided there is no individual security objection and provided they may be placed in employment or otherwise suitably supported.
  • To improve pay rates and conditions of Torres Strait Islanders enlisted in the forces.
  • To provide discharged male members of the forces with a civilian suit as part of their rehabilitation into civilian life. 51
Tuesday 21 March House of Representatives
  Responds in the negative to a question on the possible amendment of the Defence (Militia Forces) Act, to remove geographical limits on Australian Militia forces. 52
Thursday 23 March House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • Government consideration of an inquiry into falling birth rate.
  • The award of a Victoria Cross to Sergeant Thomas Currie Derrick, ‘for most conspicuous courage, outstanding leadership and devotion to duty’. 53
Friday 24 March Canberra

? – 10.25 am
Attends ‘Special’ meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Mr Forde.

‘The reason for the meeting was to make a presentation to the Prime Minister and to wish him Bon Voyage and a safe return to Australia.

The presentation was an Australian made travelling rug and was made on behalf of the Party by Mr Forde.

Mr Curtin on rising to reply was greeted by prolonged applause; he thanked the Party for the present, also for the good wishes expressed, also for the wholehearted [support] at all times given to him by the Party. Three cheers were called for and were lustily given.’

  Members' dining room, Parliament House

Attends function of farewell for overseas trip attended by Senators and MHRs.

‘The members, who were quite jolly by the time that Curtin rose to reply, burst into “Why Was He Born So Beautiful?” as Billy Hughes waved a glass of ginger beer about. Curtin said that “it seemed like a dream” that “the lad who once ran along the streets of Creswick, Ballarat and Brunswick was about to represent his country overseas.”’ 54
Sunday 26 March Canberra
  Announces acceptance by the Australian Government of an invitation for an Australian Press delegation to visit Canada during May. 55
Monday 27 March Canberra

Makes nation-wide broadcast opening the First Victory Loan for £150 million.



Makes statement on Full Cabinet decision to retain the ban on night sports throughout the Commonwealth because the use of power for lighting for unessential purposes could not be countenanced. 56

Wednesday 29 March Melbourne Town Hall

Makes stirring appeal for support for the First Victory Loan.



Sends letter responding to a communication from the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Mannix concerning the safety of Rome and the Pope.

‘The Vatican City is not only hallowed soil for all members of the Catholic Faith - it is a neutral State - and its immunity from hostile attack extends to the Sovereign Pontiff and to all its members. This immunity has always been and will always be respected.’ 57
Saturday 1 April Box Hill Cemetery, Melbourne

Attends funeral of ‘old adversary’ Maurice Blackburn.

[Maurice McCrae Blackburn was born in Victoria in 1880. After a career as a lawyer he was elected as Labor member for Essendon in the Legislative Assembly, however his strong stand as an anti-conscriptionist and against the war cost him his seat in 1917. He was re-elected in 1925 and served as member for Fitzroy from 1925 to 1934. In 1934 Blackburn moved to Federal politics as member for Bourke, which he held until 1943.

His sympathy for communism and the Soviet Union led to his exclusion from the Labor Party in 1942. He did not apply for re-admission after Russia became an ally and presided over the No Conscription Campaign in Victoria. He was the only member of Parliament to vote against the defence bill which introduced limited overseas conscription in February 1943. In August of that year he was defeated in the general election by the official Labor candidate. He died of a cerebral tumour in 31 March 1944.] 58
Tuesday 4 April Canberra

Writes to children, John and Elsie:

‘My Dears
I send you my deep love & hope this separation will be short. I shall be so happy when I come back to you. May you both be blessed.
Your loving Father
John Curtin’

Makes statement on figures of battle casualties to all ranks of the armed forces in the British Empire in the first four years of war. 59
Wednesday 5 April Canberra/Sydney

JCPML. Records of West Australian News Ltd. Official party, headed by John Curtin, waving goodbye from aboard ship, 6 April 1944. JCPML00409/13

9 am. Departs Canberra by car, lunches at Camden Inn.
1.30 pm. Boards US naval transport Lurline at Prymont, Sydney.
2.30 pm. Departs Sydney
3.30 pm. Passes out through Sydney Heads. 60

6 - 19 April Statements and announcements probably issued from Canberra in Curtin’s name, while he is in America and England.

Thursday 6 April
Announces approval for literary pensions to be increased.
Tuesday 11 April
Statement on the decision of the Historic Memorials Committee to secure a portrait of Senator Dorothy Tangney for the national collection.
Sunday 16 April
Statement on the future of Japan and Emperor Hirohito after the defeat of Japan.
‘The question of how Japan should be handled after her defeat and what should happen to Emperor Hirohito is a matter for the peace conference itself.’
Wednesday 19 April
Statement on the Commonwealth Literary Fund Committee proposal for the production of a number of Australian books in cheap editions.
Prime ministerial statement on action taken by the Chief Publicity Censor to seize certain Sydney newspapers following their disobedience of a censorship order. 61

Thursday 6 April -
Tuesday 18 April
Pacific Ocean

Sails across ocean in ‘crowded and blacked out’ ship.

‘Elsie developed an adverse reaction to a last minute smallpox vaccination. For two days Curtin scarcely left her side; he bathed her face, combed her hair, read to her and supervised her food. “It is hard to imagine a more devoted couple,” observed a journalist on the ship.’

‘Curtin paced the decks at night, keeping a bulky kapok life jacket with him in preference to the standard inflatable one. At least once he stayed up all night for fear that some disaster was about to strike.’ 62
Wednesday 19 April San Francisco

10 am. Arrives in heavy rain and is met by party which includes Sir Owen Dixon, General Sir John Lavarack, Air Marshall R Williams, Lt General Delos C Emmons (US Commanding General Western Pacific Command) and Vice Admiral Bagley, US Commandant Western Sea Front.
Disembarks and proceeds to Fairmont Hotel.
12 noon. Holds press conference at Fairmont Hotel.
Attends official reception which includes an army band.

Makes statement [probably at the press conference] on meeting the press of the United States.

‘I am very happy to meet the representatives of the press of the United States of America, and, if other countries are represented here I am equally glad to meet them … I have been a working pressman, I know how it is. I regard the profession of journalism as a very honorable one that carries with it a high degree of responsibility. I believe in the truth and nothing but the truth. We have felt it proper that we should give facilities rather than hindrance to the press. We know the people have a right to be told. We know war imposes limits. You cannot allow the enemy to know lots of things that would be helpful to him. We live in an age of broadcast and organizations responsible for the collecting of news. In the competition between newspapers, the worst will sometimes outsell the better. There has to be some code. I have attempted to live up to it as a journalist and have sought to have it maintained since I have been doing other duties.’

Responds to questions on:

  • The use of Australian troops in the offensive against Japan.
  • The future of the Netherlands East Indies.
  • Whether Australian censorship allows the USA to get a fair picture of Australia at war.

Makes statements on:

  • The state of the war and global strategy:

‘When a man in the street is beset by two footpads he does not win until he has knocked both of them out. I consider the war against Germany and the war against Japan as one global war.’

  • Supplies for allied offensive.

‘On the day we get sufficiency, that will be the day the enemy will be defeated.’

  • General Douglas MacArthur and candidature for political office in the United States.

‘We have discussed only the organization and use of the fighting forces which have been placed at his disposal by my Government, his Government, and other governments.’

  • Future relations with America.

‘As to the future, I shall certainly look to America and to the great powers to insure that the peace of the world will not be disturbed by aggression… We look forward to an uninterrupted friendship with the people of this great country.’

  • American servicemen marrying Australians.

‘We do not fear American soldiers marrying Australian girls and sending them back to the United States. Neither the Prime Minister of Australia nor the President of the United States of America can get outside of the law of natural attraction. And I do not propose to bring in any statute. I think the simple rule is that if a man loves a woman and a woman loves a man, no matter where they come from, their marriage is their business.’

  • Post-war cooperation.
  • Australian representation at the Peace Conference.

‘Australia expects to be represented at the Peace Conference as a sovereign country whose government has been maintained to the winning of the war, and war is a supreme test of a government and a nation. We have no doubt whatever that we will be represented at the Peace Conference on the same basis as the other nations.
I have no illusions, the great Powers have the great resources and the greater responsibility, and they will have a greater influence on the decisions of the Peace Conference. Australia will not be voiceless. It has a national status. And that is its title to participate in the conference... I am quite sure good ideas rather than narrow interests will be he general character of the Peace Conference.’

  • Post-war cooperation on territorial questions concerning Pacific bases.

‘Australia would not set up any title or sovereignty over islands or places which the enemy previously held because Australia was assigned the military role of retaking them.
The mandated islands in the Pacific should not be allowed after the war to become potential bases of strength to aggressor countries. I am quite certain that there is no problem in this matter that the Allied nations will not adjust in the most satisfactory way.’

  • Government policy on migration.

‘The best kind of social order that the circumstances made possible is the inducement Australia offers for people to settle there after the war. We have every desire to double and treble the population of Australia as early as possible. We feel that that is a matter of internal policy which should ensure that there will be opportunity of full employment for everybody with reasonably good social conditions. We proclaim that we have opportunities for many, many people which, we think, are at least equal if not better than a number of other countries. We shall welcome to Australia those who care to come to us. The practical questions that are incidental to that - whether they shall be put on the land and given training, or paid fares, and the like - will have the most sympathetic outlook from the Australian Government towards the settlement in Australia under good conditions of desirable immigrants, men and women who realize that nothing can be got by them but by their own work.’

  • The effect of the Australia-New Zealand Agreement on other nations.

‘Basically, the Australia-New Zealand Agreement is an agreement of outlook and purpose. Its spirit and intention is really its basic feature. We feel it is an example that two Dominions who are neighbours, who are in one part of the world, should present the spectacle to the rest of civilization of being able to meet and reach agreeable conclusions.’

  • Australian relations with China.

Reviews war commitments and manpower.
‘No country in the world has made a military effort in ratio to men and economic resources greater than Australia. We have suffered great strains and great stresses more than any country on the Allied side.’

Makes statement on the meeting with President Roosevelt and with the British Prime Minister (Mr Churchill).

‘Two peoples whose freedom has been at stake felt it wise to confer and conclude certain statements of common purpose, so that the risks we have surpassed will not quite so readily occur. For my coming meeting with President Roosevelt and with the British Prime Minister (Mr Churchill) there will be an exchange of views on all matters that are related to the present state of the war, and we will discuss how we are going to shape for each other the world when the war is won.

I do not see any change of status for the British Commonwealth of Nations. I am the Prime Minister of a comparatively small country. In the very nature of things the great Powers have the great responsibilities. But I have a paramount responsibility for the safety and welfare of the people of my own country. I say that quite candidly. I share with the great Powers the purposes for which they are at war, and I am quite confident that our consultations, like all family gatherings, will be for the family good. Time does not stand still and the world is constantly changing. We need to keep abreast of the march of time, and not be a little behind as we were in 1939.’

7.45 pm. Takes car to Oakland and boards train for Chicago.
‘Although a special carriage had been arranged, it had been lost on the way’ and a ‘Pullman coach that was less comfortable than the other carriages on the train,’ was used. 63

Thursday 20 April En route to Chicago
  Travels by train.
Friday 21 April En route to Chicago

JCPML. Records of Frederick McLaughlin. Curtin and Elsie on board US train, 1944. JCPML00018/5

While on the train celebrates, with Mrs Curtin, their twenty-seventh wedding anniversary and receives a bouquet of flowers arranged by the US Minister in Canberra. 64

Saturday 22 April Chicago

9 am. Arrives Chicago and is met by British Consul.
10.15 am. Takes car through the city and along the shores of Lake Michigan.
1 pm. Lunches at Blackstone Hotel.
3.10 pm. Takes train for Washington.

Makes statement on reciprocal lend-lease in response to a speech by the British Prime Minister, Mr Churchill, on Imperial preference and post-war Empire-American relations. 65

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Sunday 23 April Union Station, Washington

JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. PM John Curtin with Sir Owen Dixon (Australian Ambassador to USA) Washington, 23 April 1944. JCPML00376/112

9.15 am. Arrives in Washington and is met by Mr and Mrs Cordell Hull and is also greeted by Sir Owen Dixon, Australian Ambassador to USA, and Lord Halifax, British Ambassador to the USA. Proceeds to Blair House, a ‘sumptuous’ four-storey ‘distinguished-looking stucco structure’, with a ‘colourful history’, which was the ‘American Government’s official home for visiting members of the United Nations.’

1 pm. Lunches with Mrs Curtin at Australian Legation and then takes a drive with Sir Owen and Lady Dixon.

5.30 pm. Receives visit from Mr Walter Nash. 66
Sunday 24 April Washington

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of the Curtin Family.  PM John Curtin with Sir Owen Dixon (Australian Ambassador to USA) Washington, 23 April 1944.  JCPML00376/66s
JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. John and Elsie Curtin in Washington, USA 23 April 1944. JCPML00376/66

Beginning of official talks:
10 am. Meets (at the White House) Mr James Byrnes, Director of War Mobilization and Economic Adviser to President.
11 am. Meets (at the Navy Building) Admiral King.
12 noon. Holds Press Conference at Blair House. ‘Quick-witted rejoinders to some searching questions raising world issues enlivened Mr Curtin’s Press conference with 80 of the nations leading journalists.’
Lunches at Blair House
3.30 pm. Meets (at the State Department) Mr Cordell Hull.
5.30 pm. Attends cocktail party at Australian Legation.
7 pm. Mrs Curtin, attends dinner at the White House.
8 pm. Mr Curtin attends dinner with Field Marshall Sir John Dill at 3023 Q Street.

Makes prime ministerial statement reviewing the war and the current war situation and paying a tribute to the United States, to the people of Britain, and the nations of the Commonwealth. Statement repeated in London on 4 May 1944, with different introduction.

Take 1
It is a great pleasure for me to be here in the United States of America and to express the thanks of the people and government of the Commonwealth of Australia for the great change that has marked the conduct of the war. Australia was in dire peril, peril of actual invasion by the Japanese. We have surmounted that danger, and we owe our position first to the courage of our fighting men; secondly to the great skill with which the High Command has led them; thirdly to the great aid that has been given to us by our allies; and lastly, but not less important, to the magnificent war effort of our own people. Now that Australia is a rock, safe and secure, the rest of the world can be assured that Australia will stay in the war until victory has been won. We are in it to the uttermost limit of our resources to the entire termination of the struggle.

Take 2
I am glad to be here in the United States to express gratitude to its people and government for the great help accorded to us and for the change that has come over the war. Australia was in dire peril of actual invasion by the Japanese. That danger has passed. And we owe the change first to the courage of our fighting men; secondly to the skill with which the High Command led them; thirdly to the great aid given to us by our allies; and fourthly and not least to the great war effort of the people of Australia. Now that Australia stands secure and free like a rock, the rest of the world can be assured that we stay in the war until the victory has been won. We are in it to the uttermost limit.66a

Makes statements on:

  • The Empire Council.
  • The Emperor of Japan.

‘I do not individualise as to the Emperor of Japan in the war against Japan. I speak always as to the power of Japan. That must be defeated.’

  • The allied advance in Hollandia.
  • Future relations with America.
  • Meeting with President Roosevelt.
  • The Australia-New Zealand Agreement.
  • Migration and non-white races.
  • Priorities for settlement and the difficulties of settling the Kimberley region.
  • Post-war plans for an international civil aviation authority. 67
Tuesday 25 April Washington and South Carolina

JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Elsie and John Curtin with Mrs Franklin D Roosevelt, USA, 1944. JCPML00004/34

9 am. Travels, with Mrs Curtin from Blair House to the White House ‘whence they proceeded with Mrs Roosevelt by air to meet the President,’ at an ‘undisclosed place in the south.’ [South Carolina]

Returns to Washington by air with Mrs Curtin and Mrs Roosevelt. Spends night at White House. 68
Wednesday 26 April Washington

9 am. Returns with Mrs Curtin to Blair House.

Falls ill with possible ‘neuritis and symptoms of high blood pressure’, and a full schedule of official engagements are cancelled.

1.15 pm. Mrs Curtin attends lunch at the British Embassy.
3.30 pm. Mrs Curtin sees press at Blair House.


7.30 pm. Makes radio broadcast from Prime Minister’s suite at Blair House. 69


Thursday 27 April Washington

Indisposed, remains at Blair House.

Makes statement on a comment by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Menzies, on a speech at the International Labour Organization Conference by the Minister for Supply, Mr Beasley, on Australian acceptance of the principles of the Atlantic Charter – freedom from want and full employment. 70
Friday 28 April Washington - Bermuda

5 am. Departs Washington by car.
6.40 am. Arrives Baltimore and proceeds to Flying Boat Base.
7.15 am. Departs Baltimore by Boeing Flying Boat ‘Bristol’.
12 noon. Arrives in Bermuda and lunches with the Governor, Lord Burghley.
4.15 pm. (local time). Departs Bermuda.

Mrs Curtin remained in America, staying with Sir Owen Dixon, the Australian Ambassador and Lady Dixon. When asked on her return to Australia why she didn’t continue on to London Mrs Curtin maintained she ‘was just dumped. I was very cross about it. There were seven men in the plane and they didn’t want me just because I was a woman.’ 71
Saturday 29 April Ireland - UK

2.15 pm (GMT). Arrives Foynes in flying boat (after a run of 19 hours, covering 3140 miles).
3 pm. Travels to Reannar Aerodrome by car.
4.30 pm. Flies out in twin-engined Dakota.
9.15 pm (BST). Arrives at Croydon aerodrome, south of London, where he was greeted by reporters.
9.45 pm. Leaves Croydon.
10 pm. Arrives Savoy Hotel, London, and stays in a bedroom that ‘overlooks the Thames & is on the second floor of a seven floor building.’

‘The Savoy had become something of a sandbagged fortress’ and the party were ‘issued with steel helmets and gasmasks and taken down to the cellars’ and told what to do if there was an air raid.

Makes statement on the meeting of Prime Ministers.

‘I have come to England to join with other Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth in the consideration of problems common to us all. Each one of us, I have no doubt, will have something to contribute to the discussions from the experience of our own countries during these hard years of war.

The mere fact that the Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth are meeting at this time is in itself important. The British Commonwealth can render a great service to civilization by the development of the fullest co-operation between its members. From their experience as units in a greater unity they can make a contribution to the wider circle of international co-operation.

I hope later to have opportunity of conveying to the people of Britain the admiration of the people of Australia for the lead they have given the world in the past four bitter years. I hope, too, to be able to tell the people of Britain something of the fight the Australian people are making in both the military and production fields.’ 72
Sunday 30 April London

JCPML. Records of West Australian News Ltd. PM John Curtin broadcasting to Australia on arrival in England, 30 April 1944. JCPML00409/14

Strolls along the Embankment to Westminster. Views bomb damage in the City, including the St Paul’s area – ‘the buildings are just ruins & the scarred city has a queer impression.’

12 noon. Receives visit from Mr Bruce.
1 pm. Lunches with Mr Bruce, General Blamey and Sir Frederick Shedden.

Drives, with Frederick Shedden to the upper reaches of the Thames, visiting Windsor, Stoke Poges and Burnham Beeches. ‘Saw the winding hedge-bordered lanes, the grass, the blossoms & the people out in the sunshine.’

Receives telephone call of ‘cordial welcome’ from Mr Churchill. 73

Letter to Elsie Curtin who was in America



Monday 1 May London

10 am. Visits Australia House to meet staff of High Commissioner’s office.
10.45 am. Meets Lord Cranborne at Savoy Hotel.
12 noon. Attends first meeting of Prime Ministers in Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street.

‘It is a very great privilege and a high duty to be present here today. The Commonwealth of Australia needs no statement from me for its presence today to be understood here and in the world at large. We are with you in your undertakings because of the high cause that animates them. We are with you in that high cause completely and unequivocally to the ultimate finish.

The Australian people have been delivered from a mortal peril. This has been effected by the gallantry of the Australian and American forces, the ability of the High Command, the aid of Britain and the United States, and the war effort of the Australian people. The world-wide nature of the war has placed us in a sphere of American strategic responsibility, and we are deeply grateful for the aid of the American people. Although British resources were largely committed elsewhere, we nevertheless received valuable aid from the people of Britain.’

3 pm. Meets Australian press at the Savoy Hotel.
5.30 pm. Attends meeting of Prime Ministers and advisers at 10 Downing Street for a review of the war situation.
8.30 pm. Attends dinner for Prime Ministers at Buckingham Palace, where ‘Princess Elizabeth now of age and attended her first big “occasion”. … She sat between General Smuts and Mr MacKenzie King. The party numbered 22 and included many members of the Royal Family.’ 74

Tuesday 2 May London

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of the Curtin Family.  Dominion Prime Ministers Conference, London, 1944.  JCPML00004/31
JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Dominion Prime Ministers Conference, London, 1944. JCPML00004/31

11.30 am. Attends Prime Ministers’ Conference for review of war situation.
3 pm. Meets Mr D. McVey at the Savoy Hotel.
5.30 pm. Attends meeting of United Kingdom War Cabinet to discuss the foreign and military situations and other business.
8 pm. Dines with Mr Bruce at Savoy Hotel.
9.30 pm. Confers with Mr Bruce, General Blamey and Sir Frederick Shedden.
10 pm. Receives visit from Lord Cranborne. 75

Wednesday 3 May London

11 am. Attends Privy Council Office, Whitehall, to rehearse taking of oath ceremony as a member of the Privy Council.
11.30 am. Attends Conference to discuss conduct of war against Japan.
1.15 pm. Dines with Mr Churchill at 10 Downing Street.
4 pm. Meets Mrs Rischbieth, West Australian feminist.
5.30 pm. Attends Conference to discuss conduct of war against Japan. 76

Thursday 4 May London

11 am. Sworn in as a Privy Councillor at a meeting of the Privy Council at Buckingham Palace.
11.30 am. Attends Conference for a review of foreign affairs.
1.15 – 1.30 pm. Lunches at Claridges Hotel with Mr Bruce and meets Diplomatic Corps.
3 pm. Holds general press conference at Ministry of Information.
5 – 7.30 pm. Attends At Home at 10 Downing Street (Prime Minister and Mrs Churchill).
Responds to a press report that at the Prime Ministers' conference Australia would press for men to be sent from Allied countries to relieve the manpower strain in Australia.

Makes statements on:

  • The Empire Council and responds to questions on consultation, the idea of and views on, a secretariat, reconsideration of Empire, and per capita contribution to defence.
  • Australian secondary industries in response to questions on Imperial preference, development of supplementary industries in different Dominions, and British-Australian trade relations.
  • An increase in Australian diplomatic representation abroad.
  • The re-establishment of ordered government in France.

‘I should be glad to see France re-established. But I am not humbugging myself by placing reliance on what is not there. A stable France is one thing, an occupied France is quite another. At the moment, one can have all the intentions in the world to re-establish France, but the re-establishment of France on a basis of ordered government and political stability is predominantly the task of the French people themselves. The Allies can do all they can to help that, but they cannot do it.’

  • The war and the current war situation and paying tribute to the United States, to the people of Britain, and the nations of the Commonwealth. Same statement given in Washington on 24 April 1944, with different introduction.

‘In addition to attending the meeting of Prime Ministers, an important purpose of my visit as the head of the Australian Government is to express to the people of Britain the unbounded admiration of all Australians for their heroic stand in the cause of world freedom. The people of Australia have been greatly inspired in their own war effort by the fortitude, courage and endurance of their kinsfolk in these islands under heavy air attack and during periods of grave peril and anxiety. Their actions have been in keeping with the glorious history, traditions, and characteristics of the British race, which has again demonstrated a capacity for leadership of the human race at a time of world crisis.’

  • Sovereignty of bases in the Pacific.
  • Migration policy and the consideration of assisted migration, and defending the Immigration Act.

‘The Immigration Act has no spirit of antagonism towards any people because of their nationality or of their location. The words “white Australia” do not appear in any Australian statute. The Immigration Act is to protect Australian standards against the incursion of organized coolie labour, slave labour, badly-paid labour, badly-housed labour, which are not in the interests of those people nor in the interests of Australia. An end was put to it and Australia is not going back to it.’

Responds to question on post-war cooperation and world organisation and the possible expansion of the British Commonwealth.

Makes statement that ‘The Australian Government is a very polite government’ and that the status of India was a matter between Britain and India. 77
Friday 5 May London

11.30 am. Attends Conference to continue review of foreign affairs.
Is received in audience by the King at Buckingham Palace.
1.30 pm. Lunches at Buckingham Palace with Their Majesties, the King and Queen.
5.30 – 7.30 pm. Attends cocktail party given by senior members of Australian Defence Services. 78

Saturday 6 May London

Makes statement on acceptance of immigration from Scandinavian countries.

Visits Lord Hankey, former secretary of the Committee for Imperial Defence.

Calls on the Western Australian feminist Bessie Rischbieth. 79
Sunday 7 May London
  9 pm. Broadcasts ‘the postscript to the news bulletin’ over the BBC and ABC portraying Australia as ‘the bastion of British institutions, the British way of life and the system of democratic government in the Southern World.' 80
Monday 8 May London

JCPML. Records of Great Britain. Board of Admiralty. John Curtin speaking at Empire Prime Ministers' dinner, Greenwich 8 May 1944. JCPML00723/1
Courtesy Imperial War Museum, IWM 4700-01, A23164.

12.30 pm. Visits Boomerang Club at Australia House to meet RAAF personnel.
1.15-1.30 pm. Attends luncheon given by Dominions Office at the Savoy Hotel to meet Prime Ministers
5.30 pm. Attends meeting of United Kingdom War Cabinet.
8.30 pm. Attends dinner given by the First Lord of the Admiralty at RNC Greenwich.

Broadcasts from London. 81

Tuesday 9 May London

11.30. Attends Conference to discuss Posts War World Settlement.
3.15 pm. Is received by the Duke of Gloucester at St James Palace.
5.30 pm. Attends Conference to discuss colonial questions.
8.15-8.30 pm. Dines with Mr Churchill.

Makes statement on proposed visit to Australia by British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who indicated that he had ‘long looked forward to visiting Australia and I hope I will be able to. But everything must wait upon events.' 82
Wednesday 10 May London

12 noon. Receives Freedom of City of London ‘in bomb-scarred’ Guildhall.



1.30 pm. Lunches as guest of Lord Mayor of London at Mansion House.



4 pm. Meets Mr Barrington Ward, Editor of London Times.

5.30 pm. Attends Conference to discuss civil aviation and shipping. 83
Thursday 11 May London

11 am. Attends Conference to discuss post war world settlement.
3 pm. With Mr McKenzie King, addresses both Houses of Parliament.
6 – 8 pm. Attends reception at Claridges Hotel. 84

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Friday 12 May London

11 am. Attends Conference to discuss post war employment plans and migration.
3 pm. Meets Sir Keith Murdoch.
4 pm. Meets Lord Portal. 85

Saturday 13 May London
  Spends weekend at Chequers. 86
Sunday 14 May London
  Spends weekend at Chequers. 87
Monday 15 May London
  3 pm. Attends Conference to discuss Empire co-operation. 88
Tuesday 16 May London

JCPML.Records of the Ministry of Information, Great Britain.Dominion premiers signing an agreement at Downing Street on 16 May 1944. JCPML00724/1
Courtesy Imperial War Museum, IWM 4700-08 HU55580.

12 noon. Attends closing meeting of Conference, and thanks Churchill for chairing the talks. He added that his visit to London was ‘not only from a sense of duty but also with a deep desire to be associated in a humble way with deliberations which I knew would reach conclusions of historic significance not only to the Commonwealth and Empire but I do believe to the world at large.’

Attends signing of an agreement with other Dominions Prime Ministers.

3 pm. Meets Australian press at the Savoy.
5.30 pm. Attends meeting of United Kingdom War Cabinet.
7 – 9 pm. Attends reception by Parliamentary Labour Party and Trades Union Council at Porchester Hall. 89

Wednesday 17 May London

1.30 pm. Lunches with Empire Parliamentary Association at Savoy Hotel.


2.30 pm. Meets with Members of Parliament at Houses of Parliament.
4 pm. Attends Press Club.
5 pm. Meets Polish Prime Minister and Polish Foreign Minister at Savoy Hotel.

Makes statement at closing session of meeting of Prime Ministers and signs joint communiqué. 90


Thursday 18 May London

1 pm. Attends luncheon given by Australian Club at the Dorchester Hotel.


4 pm. Meets Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Russian Embassy.
5.15 pm. Attends communications meeting at Dominion Office.
6.15 pm. Attends meeting of War Cabinet.
Evening. Attends dinner given by Mr Eden at the Savoy Hotel, Mikado Room. 91

Friday 19 May London - Lincoln

JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Mr John Curtin and Mr Peter Fraser, following Lord Baldwin Chancellor of Cambridge University, 1944. JCPML00376/95

10 am. Leaves London by car for Cambridge.
12 noon. Arrives Cambridge.
12.30 pm. Lunches with University Vice Chancellor (Mr Hele) at Lodge, Emanuel College.
2 pm. Together with New Zealand Prime Minister, Peter Fraser is conferred with Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law at Cambridge University.
3 pm. Leaves Cambridge for Waddington Air Force Station.
Dines with officers.
10.45 pm. Leaves Waddington and arrives at the White Hart Hotel in Lincoln at 11.30 pm. 92

Saturday 20 May Lincoln - London

10 am. Leaves Lincoln.
11 am. Arrives at Binbrook and visits RAAF 460 Lancaster Squadron, lunching with officers, and seeing RAAF crews in action. ‘He saw Lancaster “G for George” the Australian squadron’s veteran with a record of 90 operations, take off on its last war flight,’ and watched Lancaster squadrons take off to bomb railway targets at Tours and other centres in France. He remained at the airfield until the last machine had left, and ‘had a message flashed to the pilots as they were crossing the French coast: “Good luck – Curtin.”’

2.30 pm. Leaves Binbrook.
7 pm. Arrives London. 93

Sunday 21 May London
  11.15 am. Leaves for Chequers 94
Monday 22 May London

9.15 am. Leaves London by car.
12 noon. Arrives Badminton.
1 pm. Lunches with Queen Mary.
2 pm. Leaves Badminton.
5 pm. Arrives London.
6.30 pm. Attends meeting of War Cabinet. 95

Tuesday 23 May London

4.15 pm. Calls on His Majesty the King at Buckingham Palace.
7.30 pm. Attends MRA Revue at 45 Berkeley Square. 96

Wednesday 24 May London

11.45 am. Attends Parliament House for statement by Mr Churchill.
6.15 pm. Attends meeting of United Kingdom War Cabinet.

Evening. Makes an ‘Empire broadcast' which includes the plea, ‘Let us all – we who speak the same tongue – join with one voice in expressing our determination to make of our Empire a shining example for all.’ 97


Thursday 25 May London

4 pm. Meets Mrs Hore Ruthven.
5 pm. Meets Mr Bruce.
8 pm. Dines with prominent Labor Party minister, Hugh Dalton, and Sir Frederick Shedden. 98

Friday 26 May London

11.30 am. Attends conference on Australian War Effort.
3 pm. Meets Sir Charles Portal.
3.30 pm. Meets Mr D McVey.
4 pm. Meets Lord Cranborne. 99

Saturday 27 May Lords cricket ground

JCPML. Records of Frederick McLaughlin. Curtin at Lords Cricket ground, 27 May 1944. JCPML00018/15

11.30 am. Watches cricket match between Service teams from Australia and England.


  London to Chequers
  5 pm. Departs for Chequers. 100
Sunday 28 May Chequers - London
  4pm Returns to London 101
Monday 29 May London - Ireland

1.30 pm (BST). Leaves London by car for Croydon Aerodrome.
2.30 pm. Flies out of Croydon to Reannar Aerodrome.
6.30 pm (IST). Arrives Foynes.
7 pm (IST). Departs Foynes by Boeing Flying Boat “Bangor”. 102

Tuesday 30 May Newfoundland - Ottawa, Canada (Mr Curtin)

10,30 am (GMT). Arrives Botwood, Newfoundland, departs by flying boat.
2.30 pm (local time). Arrives Montreal Flying Boat Base and is met by Sir William Glasgow and taken by car to the Windsor Hotel, Montreal.
8 pm. Departs Montreal by train.
10.15 pm. Arrives in Ottawa, as a guest of the High Commissioner.

  Montreal - Ottawa (Mrs Curtin)

8.55 am. Mrs Curtin arrives in Montreal and is conducted to a special car on the train to Ottawa.
12.45 pm. Mrs Curtin arrives in Ottawa and is met by Lady Glasgow, Dr Wynes and some of the wives of members of the War Committee of Cabinet.
Mrs Curtin ‘stepped off the train at Union Station at one o’clock wearing a black and white printed frock with a shiny black straw sailor and carrying a black coat.’
9.45 pm. Mrs Curtin, accompanied by Lady Glasgow, proceeds to Union Station to meet Mr Curtin’s and ‘boarded the train to greet her husband.’

Comments on the success of the meeting of Prime Ministers:

‘Never has there been a more successful meeting of British Commonwealth Prime Ministers than the one just concluded. Events will be a better criterion of what has been done than anything I could say. Just as we stand here together so the British Commonwealth and the United Nations stand side by side to ensure that the war will be brought to as early a conclusion as is practicable. That unity gives promise of victory as early as possible, but nothing less than complete victory will do because, if the aggressors are not vanquished, then real peace cannot come. However, with the unity of which I have spoken, I am confident victory will bring so decisive a verdict that evil will never rear its head again.’ 103
Wednesday 31 May Ottawa

10.30 am. Calls on Deputy Governor General.
11 am. Holds press conference at House of Commons.

Typescript of press conferences during visit overseas April, May, June 1944

Make statements on:

  • Post-war plans and tariffs.
  • Post-war plans for an international civil aviation authority, and the protection of the Australian civil aviation authority.
  • The administration and structure of the British Commonwealth
  • World security and cooperation, the British Commonwealth, and influences on them.

Comments on the success of the meeting of Prime Ministers:

‘I am very pleased with the advances that have been made at the recent Prime Ministers' Conference and at the great degree of collaboration and cohesion which the conference made clear. I regard it as a model of association which I would recommend as indicating hope to the world at large.’

Makes prime ministerial statement on the state of the war.

1.15 pm. Together with Mrs Curtin and Sir William and Lady Glasgow, lunches with Prime Minister at Laurier House.
3.30 pm. Attends meeting of War Committee of Cabinet, with General Blamey and Sir Frederick Shedden.
5.30 pm. Attends reception at residence of Australian High Commission.
8 pm. Attends dinner given by Canadian Government at Country Club. 104

Thursday 1 June Ottawa - Montreal

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of the Curtin Family.  Australian Prime Minister John Curtin & Mrs Curtin With Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King examining Book of Remembrance in Memorial Chamber, Peace Tower, in Parliament Buildings.1944.  JCPML00376/104
JCPML.  Records of the Curtin Family.  Australian Prime Minister John Curtin & Mrs Curtin With Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King examining Book of Remembrance in Memorial Chamber, Peace Tower, in Parliament Buildings.1944.  JCPML00376/104

1 pm. Lunches with High Commissioner and Lady Glasgow.
3 pm. Addresses both Houses of the Canadian Parliament.
Motors to Country Club for afternoon tea.
5.45 pm. Leaves by train for Washington.
10 pm. Arrives and departs Montreal.

Travels by train. 105
Friday 2 June Montreal - Washingtom

7.30 am. Arrives in New York.
8.30 am. Leaves New York.
1 pm. Arrives in Washington, where he and Mrs Curtin are guests of Sir Owen and Lady Dixon.
2.30 pm. Meets with Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee.
4 pm. Meets Messrs. Beasley and Barnard at Shoreham Hotel. 106

Saturday 3 June Washington

10 am. Attends bi-monthly meeting between Lord Halifax and British Missions in Washington.
11.30 am. Calls on Lord Halifax.
12.30 pm. Meets staff of Australian legation.
5 pm. Meets with General Blamey. 107

Sunday 4 June Washington

Makes statement on the fall of Rome:

‘Joyfully Australia tenders congratulations on the Allied liberation of Rome, and pays deep tribute to the gallant forces of the United Nations whose devotion has evoked this latest advance towards final victory which will free all the world from despotism and tyranny.' 108

Monday 5 June Washington - New York

12.30 pm. National Press Club Luncheon.
3.30 pm. Calls on President Roosevelt and issues statement on discussions.
8 pm. Leaves Washington.
12 midnight. Arrives in New York and stays at Ritz Carlton Hotel.

[Just hours after Allied invasion force landed on beaches of Normandy.] 109

Tuesday 6 June New York

1.30 pm. Takes trip by ferry and a partial trip of the harbour by launch.
6.30 pm. Dines as a guest of Mr Ralph Doyle at the Hotel Gotham.
8 pm. Attends performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Oklahoma, as a guest of Mr Doyle.

‘On 6th June, 1944, the following communiqué was issued from London: “Under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied naval forces supported by strong air forces began landing Allied armies this morning on the northern coast of France.”’ 110

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Wednesday 7 June New York

1 pm. Calls on Mayor La Guardia of New York.
6.30 pm. Leaves by train for Pacific coast.

Makes statement on the invasion of Europe.

‘Great events are taking place which cannot be encompassed by mere words. The prayers and hopes of every Australian will go with the Allied forces in their liberating march.’ 111
Thursday 8 June Chicago

12.45 pm. Arrives Chicago and proceeds to Blackstone Hotel.
8.15 pm. Leaves Chicago by train. 112

Friday 9 June Chicago - San Francisco
  En route
Saturday 10 June Chicago - San Francisco
  En route
Sunday 11 June San Francisco

9 am. Arrives by train and proceeds by car to the docks and boards SS Matsonia.

11 am. Sails for Brisbane. 113
Monday 12 June -
Sunday 25 June
At sea
Monday 26 June Brisbane

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of Frederick Shedden.  Prime Minister John Curtin (right) and Frederick Shedden (Secretary of the Department of Defence and Secretary to the War Cabinet) entering GHQ Brisbane for his conference with General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander in the South-west Pacific. In the rear is Colonel L Lehrbas, aide to General MacArthur. 27 June 1944.  JCPML00591/2
JCPML. Records of Frederick Shedden. Prime Minister John Curtin (right) and Frederick Shedden (Secretary of the Department of Defence and Secretary to the War Cabinet) entering GHQ Brisbane for his conference with General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander in the South-west Pacific. In the rear is Colonel L Lehrbas, aide to General MacArthur. 27 June 1944. JCPML00591/2
Courtesy National Archives of Australia A5954 661/12

Arrives home from USA, and within a ‘few hours of his return from abroad’ confers with General MacArthur.

Holds press conference.

Responds to a question on the taking over of the South West Pacific Area by United States forces.

Makes prime ministerial statement on post-war cooperation.

Makes statements on:

  • War commitments and manpower:
  • The possibility of British migrants. 114
Thursday 29 June Sydney

Arrives in Sydney and is welcomed by Premier of New South Wales, Mr McKell.
Confers with Governor-General, Lord Gowrie, at Admiralty House.

With Mrs Curtin departs for Canberra. 115
Friday 30 June Canberra

Makes statement expressing good wishes on behalf of the Government and people of Australia on Canada Day, the 77th anniversary of Canada's birth as a nation.

‘This war has brought Australia and Canada closer together than ever before. The many thousands of our young men who have gone to Canada for training under the Empire Air Training Scheme have cemented the personal links binding our two peoples. The kindness and hospitality they have received is widely known and will ever be remembered in many thousand Australian homes. No less do we appreciate the material assistance which Canada has given us under the Mutual Aid system. The large quantities of military supplies and equipment of all kinds which Australia has received from Canada has been of inestimable value in our war effort. This year, on Dominion Day, your thoughts will be with the thousands of young Canadians who are acquitting themselves so gallantly in Normandy. The magnificent war effort of Canada is a source of pride to all those who have been associated with her in this long struggle for freedom. The people of Australia send you cordial greetings and their sincere good wishes for Canada's future happiness and prosperity.’

Issues directions for the flying of flags and bunting from Commonwealth buildings on 4 July, Independence Day. 116
Monday 3 July Canberra

Holds press conference and discusses issues from his visit to the United States, Canada and England, including:

  • Publicity:

‘I say to you that press treatment of the war news is in my view the most jaundiced one-eyed piece of journalism. I am speaking of the press as I saw it in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Objectively the Australian press gives a far better picture of the global conflict….’

  • Mr Churchill:

‘”He is the most important person arrayed against our enemies. He is indispensable because I do not know of any other equal who can replace him. He is an inspiration, a driver. He has the complete faith of the British people. He is the master of the House of Commons and no man has yet been its master”. …”Mr Churchill has a great tiredness about him,” which Curtin put down to anxiety about the second front. “Mr Churchill fires every shot and suffers every wound.”’

Sends message to President Roosevelt to mark Independence Day. 117
Tuesday 4 July Canberra

Holds press conference which includes:

  • a new censorship code, reporting of the British Parliament
  • overseas appointments, manpower, and the Chicago Tribune.

Attends meeting of Full Cabinet. 118

Wednesday 5 July Canberra

Announces the decision of Full Cabinet to prorogue Parliament and open a new session on 17 July.

Makes statements on:

  • delaying the release of a report by Justice Webb on alleged Japanese atrocities.
  • briefing the Advisory War Council of matters dealt with overseas, including the conduct of the war, manpower, and the views of various Prime Ministers.

Makes prime ministerial statement on the Constitutional Referendum.

Responds to a charge by Mr A J Hannan KC, the Crown Solicitor of South Australia, that his mail had been interfered with at the Constitutional Convention of 1942 and that his telephone conversations had been listened to after his return to Adelaide. 119
Thursday 6 July Canberra

Holds press conference which discusses the Webb Report, manpower, and at which he was ‘extremely critical of certain members of the High Court’.

Announces invitation to Professor Sir Howard Florey to visit Australia in about a month’s time and stay for about three months.

‘Professor Florey is an Australian and a distinguished medical scientist of world-wide reputation … [and is] one of the joint discoverers of the method and use of penicillin for the treatment of human disease. … It is considered that his visit will be of inestimable value and lead to the saving of many lives during the period when Australian treatment is, to a certain extent, experimental. …

The Government considers that Professor Florey's visit will give a general stimulus to medical science as well as having a special value in connexion with the use of penicillin.' 120
Friday 7 July Canberra

Announces terms of the Second Victory and Conversion Loan.

Tables British White Paper on Employment Policy, outlining the British Government's general economic policy after the war, which is ‘an impressive document’. 121
Saturday 8 July Canberra
  Announces the appointment of Mr Justice Clyne to inquire into charges by the Crown Solicitor of South Australia, Mr A J Hannan KC, that letters posted by him in Canberra during the Constitutional Convention in 1942 had been opened and that his telephone conversations had been listened to after his return to Adelaide. 122
Monday 10 July Canberra

Makes statements:

  • expressing surprise that the work of the Parliamentary Committee on Censorship had not been completed.
  •  concerning the setting up of a judicial inquiry to look into matters raised by Mr Hannan, the Crown Solicitor of South Australia, on interference with his private letters and telephone calls.
  • on the constitutional referendum and industrial conscription.

‘As far as I am concerned, there will be no “industrial conscription” after the war - but I am not too sure of the United Australia party.

I wanted conscription of any sort in 1942 and 1943. I say that flatly. I wanted it for works and services so that Australia could resist forces that would have occupied this country.

I cannot see any reason why there should be compulsion for service of any description when war has ended. I have said I do not consider that there should be conscription of any sort or kind when the war is over. This is a more unequivocal statement than any United Australia party member has made.’ 123
Tuesday 11 July Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • The interpretation of the constitution and an error in parliamentary practice.
  • The consumption of coal:

‘Australia must get more coal and consume less. It is not a question of the Government ordering a further reduction in consumption, because, if the coal was not there, it could not be burned.’

  • British White Paper on Employment Policy, indicating its support of private enterprise.

Makes further statement on the Constitutional Referendum and the additional powers sought.

Announces approval of the six recommendations contained in the interim report of the Parliamentary Committee on Censorship.

Responds in the negative to a reported statement by Mr Dunstan, Premier of Victoria, that State lotteries should be included in the proposed limitations of charitable and other appeals during the currency of war loan campaigns. 124
Thursday 13 July Canberra

Attends meeting of Full Cabinet, which decides ‘no returned serviceman should be assisted to settle on the land unless there was satisfactory evidence of his suitability, qualifications and experience.’

Makes statement on the Constitutional Referendum – amendment of regulations.

Announces farewell dinner for the Governor-General Lord Gowrie at Parliament House on 17 July 1944.

Gives directions for flying of flags in 14 July, France’s national day. 125
Friday 14 July Canberra

Holds press conference and discusses the Army, censorship, the war and Lieutenant General Berryman’s recall.

Makes statements on:

  • Full Cabinet approval of a Commonwealth contribution towards the experimental production of charcoal iron in Western Australia.
  • proposed constitutional changes.
  • Full Cabinet decision to approve the principles of a soldier settlement scheme.
  • Full Cabinet approval of third advance for the No. 4 Barley Pool.
  • Full Cabinet consideration of proposals for a Commonwealth Hospital Benefits Scheme, to be submitted to State Governments.
  • Full Cabinet consideration of a submission concerning Commonwealth financial assistance to the campaign against tuberculosis.


  • Full Cabinet approval of a grant of £100,000 towards the cost of the development of the Leigh Creek (South Australia) coalfield.
  • Decision of Full Cabinet that the Commonwealth Government would not contribute to miners’ pension funds.
Issues directive that permission to enter Commonwealth factories to address employees in connection with the Constitutional Referendum will not granted. 126
Monday 17 July Canberra

Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, and ‘gave a most interesting statement regarding his consultations with the Prime Ministers of other Dominions, and of Great Britain, reviewing certain phases of the war effort.’

  House of Representatives

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of the Curtin Family.  Lord Gowrie in ceremonial dress, 1944. Inscribed and with letter.  JCPML00376/12
JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Lord Gowrie in ceremonial dress, 1944. Inscribed and with letter. JCPML00376/12.

Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, and ‘gave a most interesting statement regarding his consultations with the Prime Ministers of other Dominions, and of Great Britain, reviewing certain phases of the war effort.’

Following personal tributes to the Governor-General (on his impending departure) and to Mr Hughes (on the occasion of his fiftieth year in parliament), gives a lengthy speech outlining the status of the war and international affairs. Relates details of his overseas trip earlier in the year and his meeting with Commonwealth and world leaders.

With Mrs Curtin attends Commonwealth farewell dinner to the Governor-General Lord Gowrie and Lady Gowrie. 127


c. mid-July Canberra

Holds press conference which includes discussion on:

  • Administrative appointments.

‘He said for office information that when bigwigs said they were going to retire, he did not turn a hair because there were many younger men who could fill their places. He was referring to administration of the services both now and after the war. He said he was not going to have pot-bellied blimps running the show.’

  • Wage pegging.
  • Monetary confidence.
  • Australia House being hit by a flying bomb.
  • German use of rocket guns. 128
Tuesday 18 July Canberra

10.30 am? – 1.28 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party

  Parliament House
  Mrs Curtin gives reception to say farewell to Lady Gowrie.129
Wednesday 19 July House of Representatives
  Makes statement on the International Monetary Fund Conference. 130
Thursday 20 July Canberra and House of Representatives

Responds to questions from the opposition concerning the problems in the coal industry and the influence of the taxation system on the current situation in that industry.

‘The coal control legislation … is not a dead letter. The law should be enforced, and I am doing my very best to see that it shall be enforced. At the same time, I have to face the problem which every government in this country has faced, that of knowing quite clearly in its mind that it cannot imprison simultaneously all the men who are absenting themselves from work; and, further, that it cannot find from any other source an adequate replacement for them which would have the necessary skill, ability and experience to do the work.’

Makes statements on:

  • Proposed visit to Australia of the British Prime Minister, Mr Churchill, at the conclusion of the war.
  • Formation of joint committees to examine:
  •  war expenditure.
  • means of improving social and living conditions in Australia.

Gives the full text of a broadcast by the Japanese Bureau of Information over Tokio Radio, announcing the resignation of the Japanese Cabinet.

Receives visit at Parliament House from Mrs Curtin, who was attending a party given by Mrs Forde (wife of the Army Minister) to welcome her back to Canberra. Wives of members of Parliament were invited and were entertained for half an hour by Mrs Curtin speaking ‘without notes and with an easy informality’ giving a ‘racy account of her trip to America.’ 131

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Friday 21 July House of Representatives

Responds to various comments made by the opposition concerning the Governor-General’s speech. In particular, elaborates on the role of the Commonwealth in world affairs.

Makes statements:
  • that in the view of the Government the necessity for the appointment of scrutineers on behalf of the Commonwealth at the forthcoming referendum does not arise at the present time.
  • On the operation of wartime government industrial plants in the post-hostility period.
  • On changing the work of the parliamentary committee on censorship to a judicial enquiry.

Makes further observations on the British Commonwealth of Nations meeting of Prime Ministers in London. 132


Saturday 22 July Canberra

Makes statement on the first report of the Regulations Advisory Committee appointed to examine and report on the various regulations made under the National Security Act.

Meets General Blamey and discusses manpower reallocation ‘at length.' 133
Monday 24 July Canberra

Makes statements:

  • Clarifying conflicting reports regarding the Australian Government's participation in the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference.
  • On representation of the Australian Capital Territory in the Commonwealth Parliament.

‘I have no arguments that I can advance against the principle of representation of the Australian Capital Territory in the Commonwealth Parliament. There are, however, practical problems in this matter which need consideration. No one group of citizens should have greater authority than another group in the formulation of the law. Under the Constitution there are certain quotas of representation in Parliament. A representative of a hand full of people in a "pocket borough" must not have an influence in Parliament far greater than the representatives of other sections of the community.

I do not know whether Parliament is, at this stage, ready to provide representation for 8,000 electors in the Australian Capital Territory when no greater representation is provided for electorates of from 60,000 to 90,000 electors. …’ 134
Tuesday 25 July Canberra?

Holds press conference which includes discussion on internal events in Germany and Polish-Russian relations, and tells reporters that:

‘During the past few weeks diplomatic exchanges have become exceptionally heavy – so heavy that … they almost demanded his whole attention. He said the minds of governments were being shaped and the interchange of views was therefore very great.’

Formally launches the referendum campaign with a national broadcast.


[The referendum was designed to give the federal government increased powers to deal with such things as post-war inflation and unemployment.]

Makes statements:

  • on meeting with representatives of colliery proprietors and representatives of the Australian Coal and Shale Employees Federation on coal production.
  • concerning the constitutional referendum in response to comments made by Mr D Maughan KC, and the Leader of the Country Party, Mr Fadden.
Announces the appointment of the Chief Justice of Queensland, Sir William Webb, to inquire into and report on matters of censorship. 135
Friday 28 July Sydney

Meets with representatives of the New South Wales Government, the colliery proprietors, the Australian Coal and Shale Employees Federation, and the craft unions connected with the coal-mining industry.

‘Now that everybody is delivering ultimatums to me, I am delivering one. I am interested as a man who seeks to do good and to have humane considerations applicable to industry. That would be my paramount outlook under any circumstances; but in the circumstances of this country at this time I am looking at it as the head of a nation which is at war and which has to find coal in order effectively to conduct the war …therefore in order to get the requisite essential to the conduct of the war efficiently in this country I am prepared to pledge myself and my reputation to the miners, and everything that I have that I will bring this plan into the Federal Parliament.

I deliver my ultimatum to the workers; I deliver it to the owners. … I say the owners should get no more money for their coal, and I say that the men in the industry should get no more wages for their work than they have been getting during the past year. I think the price of coal should be kept at its present figure.

I want the conference to agree to the methods that are requisite to get that quantity of production for the nation. I want it done on the basis that the owners are already getting a fair return for the coal they supply to the nation. I want it done on the basis that the workers are already getting a fair return for the work that they do, and I will undertake to produce the Commonwealth plan of pensions and superannuation during the next session of Parliament so long as I see reasonable evidence that the quantity of coal requisite for the purpose of this nation is being produced.

Now, if those present are agreeable to a continuation of the conference in order to discuss how and by what means those ideas can be carried through, I shall be glad to stay; but if not, I beg you not to waste my time.

After deliberation, the conference agreed that the requirements of the country, as stated by the Prime Minister, involve a minimum coal production of 1,200,000 tons which is requisite for the purposes of the war. It has been agreed by all the parties to the conference that this production is a task which the industry as an industry should accept and carry out. To complete the task, it has been decided to establish an advisory committee … [which] will constantly report to the Prime Minister regarding the progress that is being attained. The Prime Minister has been requested by conference to address a personal message by way of letter to all persons engaged in the industry regarding the importance of attaining the objectives of the conference.’

Makes statement on preference in employment to members of the forces. 136

Monday 31 July Canberra

Holds press conference which includes discussion on:

  • Developments in Turkey
  • Censorship orders covering the movements of Lord and Lady Gowrie and the Governor of Victoria, Sir Winston Dugan.

Makes statement on approval of a lease being granted for a portion of a munitions factory near Newcastle, NSW, to be used for a textile industry on a large scale. 137

Tuesday 1 August Canberra
  Makes statement of policy on the utilization and future of government industrial plants in the post-hostility period. 138
Wednesday 2 August Canberra

Makes statement on:

  • numbers of government factories, annexes and private firms producing munitions.
  • limitations on being able to provide preference in employment to members of the forces.

Issues orders under:

  • National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations directing meat employees to resume work.
  • National Security Regulations directing all members of the Australian Coal and Shale Employees Federation employed in the Portland (NSW) area to resume work.

Conducts prime ministerial review of war commitments and re-assessment of manpower.

Mrs Elsie Curtin returns to Western Australia for the birthday of her 86-year old mother, Annie Needham, who subsequently died on 5 September, 1944. 139
Thursday 3 August Canberra

Makes statements:

  • in response to comment by the President of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, Sir Marcus Clark, that the Government should not operate any factories in competition with taxpaying private industries.
  • on the definition of the end of the war, commenting that the ‘Allied Commanders will decide when the war is ended and not the lawyers.’
Comments on speech by British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, which surveyed the world scene and gave ‘encouragement all over the freedom-loving countries, and more so in the enemy-occupied territories, that the liberation of enslaved peoples is now in sight.' 140
Friday 4 August Ivanhoe Town Hall, Melbourne

Speaks to a ‘big audience’ at a referendum meeting. ‘There were a number of interjections’ but ‘most of the audience of more than 1,000 appeared to be Government supporters and Mr Curtin was loudly applauded during his speech.’

Announces overseas visit by Director General of Munitions, Mr Essington Lewis

Makes statements on:

  • War Cabinet approval for the ordering of equipment and tools for the Reconstruction Training Scheme.
  • The production of books.
‘In my view it would be most improper to invoke war-time regulations to issue directions to Australian publishers regarding the types of books they are to publish. To do so would be to strike a blow at one of the freedoms for which the war is being fought.’. 141
Saturday 5 August Probably Canberra

Sends message to and receives reply from the leader of the British Delegation of the Empire Parliamentary Association, Lieutenant-Colonel E T R Wickham, on the delegation's departure from Australia.

Makes statements:

  • denying that Cabinet had considered appointing an Australian Minister to France.
the Constitutional Referendum and the desirability of price control. 142
Sunday 6 August Probably Canberra
  Makes statement on reports from the Solicitor-General (Sir George Knowles) and from the Coal Commissioner (Mr N R Mighell) on the application of strike regulations in NSW and Victoria. 143
Monday 7 August Canberra

Holds press conference which includes discussion on:

  • the attitude of the anti-Labor forces to the referendum.’… they’re in a state of funk. They’re thoroughly frightened.’
  • the wool agreement with Britain.
  • definition of the end of the war.
‘I think it is utter nonsense that the formal ratification of the peace conference should be looked on as the end of the war. I think the war ceases when the last shot has been fired and soldiers are no longer fighting.’ 144
Tuesday 8 August Adelaide Town Hall
  Speaks to a ‘very sympathetic’ crowd. The ‘only interjections were favourable’ and only one question was asked at the end of the speech. 145
Wednesday 9 August Adelaide

Holds press conference which includes discussion on civil aviation.

Broadcasts over the national network stating that the Commonwealth would be able to provide a ‘nation-wide, but decentralised employment service if it was given the powers it sought at the referendum.' 146


Thursday 10 August Canberra
  Announces retirement of Mr W C Wurth, the Director-General of Man Power. 147
Friday 11 August Canberra

Makes statements:

  • expressing satisfaction over meeting with the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Military Forces, (General Sir Thomas Blamey), the Minister for Air (Mr Drakeford) and the Chief of the Air Staff (Air Vice-Marshal Jones).
  • on the Constitutional Referendum and the duration of powers
  • indicating that the Commonwealth Government had no intention of appointing scrutineers for the forthcoming referendum. 148
c. Monday 14 August Canberra

Suffers illness which requires him to ‘cancel public engagements under doctor’s orders.’

Releases report by the Chief Justice of Queensland, Sir William Webb, enquiring into matters of censorship. 149
Tuesday 15 August Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • the appointment of scrutineers by State Governments in the constitutional referendum.
  • the constitutional referendum, manpower and freedom in employment. 150
Wednesday 16 August Canberra

Broadcasts final referendum appeal over the National network. The appeal was delivered from his study as Mr Curtin was ill with bronchial influenza. 151


Thursday 17 August Canberra

Releases report by Justice Clyne into the public safety and defence of the Commonwealth particularly in relation to statements attributed to Albert James Hannan, Crown Solicitor of South Australia, in the Advertiser newspaper of 30 June 1944.

‘Mr Hannan had no good or sufficient reason for believing that any of his letters posted at Parliament House during the first week of the conference held at Canberra in November and December, 1942, were intercepted in the post, [and] ... he had no justification for his belief that after his return to Adelaide his telephone conversations were listened into.’ 152
Friday 18 August Canberra
  Sends letter to the president of the Australian Coal and Shale Employees' Federation (Mr H Wells) expressing concern regarding strikes in the coal industry. 153
Saturday 19 August Canberra

Voting in the Constitutional Referendum.

This referendum sought to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to legislate for five years over fourteen specified matters. These included the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, national health, family allowances and ‘the people of Aboriginal race’. Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and religion were also to be included as were safeguards against the abuse of legislative power. The referendum was lost on a ‘No’ vote of 2 304,295, ‘Yes’ 1,963,191, and Informal: 56,598. 154
Sunday 20 August Canberra

Makes statement on results of Constitutional Referendum.

‘I am disappointed but not surprised at the result of the constitutional referendum.

I understand from the expositors of th "no" case that they do stand for some form of constitutional amendment. I will give careful and sympathetic consideration to any positive proposals they advance. We have put forward the proposals in which we believe, and they have been defeated. It now remains for those who opposed our plan - but profess to have another - to produce a plan. Otherwise, Australia will face an era of great difficulty with powers vested in the Commonwealth Parliament which the ‘yes’ advocates and the prominent expositors of the ‘no’ case both acknowledge to be inadequate.’ 155
Monday 21 August Canberra

Holds press conference which includes references to:

  • disarmament
  • Pacific bases
  • Philippines
  • Manpower
  • escapees from Cowra prisoner-of-war camp

and said that during the ‘past few days he had been giving attention to the diplomatic side of the war to ensure that there would be no doubt about Australia’s views’.

Makes statements:

  • on the strength of the AMF and RAAF.
  • indicating doubt in the existence of an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, concerning the production of motor vehicles.
  • on improved service and charges for air mails to Britain through the Empire Air Service. 156
Tuesday 22 August Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • preliminary discussions for the re-organisation of telecommunications services throughout the British Empire.
  • Full Cabinet consideration of a report on the deterioration in Australian coal stocks, and its decision to reduce supplies to industry, transport, gas and electricity providers.

Announces Full Cabinet:

  • decision to re-appoint Mr M B Duffy as a member of the Commonwealth Bank Board.
  • approval of the general principles of the Budget for 1944-45, as submitted by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley). 157
Wednesday 23 August Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • celebrations for the centenary of the explorer, Charles Sturt.
  • War Cabinet approval of an increase in the financial allocation for occupational and diversional therapy at military hospitals.

Announces prosecution of idle collieries.

‘I am informed that a number of mines were idle to-day. In the case of mines where the stoppage was not due to a mechanical breakdown or other unavoidable reason, I have directed that the law shall take its course.’ 158
Thursday 24 August Canberra

Sends message to the people of France on the liberation of Paris.

‘The Government and the people of Australia convey their warm congratulations to Frenchmen, and particularly to the citizens of Paris, on the occasion of the liberation of their famous and beautiful capital city. Australians rejoice with you and trust that in the very near future the whole of France will be once more free when all the resources of your great country will be marshalled with the forces of the other allied Nations in striving for complete victory.’

Denies press reports that instructions had been given to place additional mines under complete federal control. 159

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Friday 25 August Canberra

Announces resolutions adopted at the second meeting of the National Works Council, concerning the Government’s plans for reconstruction.

Makes statement on, and gives details of, an agreement reached by Commonwealth and State Ministers on post-war housing plans. 160

Saturday 26 August Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • consideration by Commonwealth and State Ministers of the principles for a land settlement scheme for ex-servicemen.
  • The approval by State Premiers of a hospital benefit scheme.
  • The Commonwealth’s plans for assisting the campaign against tuberculosis, and the concurrence of Commonwealth and State Ministers.
  • The unanimous decision of the Commonwealth and State Ministers that daylight saving would not operate in 1944/45.

Announces at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers:

  • The decision to grant life passes on railways to holders of the Victoria Cross.
  • The continuing subsidy for venereal disease. 161
Monday 28 August Canberra

Announces the release of the report of the inquiry into restrictive practices by retail stores and ‘quota sold’ notices.

Sends message of congratulation to the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester on the birth of a son.

‘On behalf of the Government and people of Australia, I desire to convey to your Royal Highnesses felicitations on the happy occasion of the birth of a son.’ 162
Tuesday 29 August Canberra

? – 6 pm and 8 pm – 11.5 pm
Chairs meeting of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, and ‘spoke briefly on World affairs in regard to the War position, more particularly to the position in the Pacific. He also made an interesting statement on the coal position.’

Makes statement on comments by the general secretary of the Australian Coal and Shale Employees' Federation, Mr G W S Grant on a Commonwealth-wide pensions scheme for miners. 163
Wednesday 30 August House of Representatives

Provides an outline of the war situation in Europe and in the Pacific and then addresses the question of manpower needs in agriculture and industry in the light of domestic requirements, the needs of US forces in Australia and Australia’s commitments to Great Britain.

Announces that the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr Dedman) will preside over future meetings of the War Commitments Committee, as Minister assisting the Minister for Defence, following the resignation of the chairman, Mr W C Wurth, as Director-General of Man Power.

Speaks at dinner to mark the 50th anniversary of the election of Mr W M Hughes, Independent, UAP, to an Australian Parliament:

Mr Hughes announced he had received a telegram from Arthur Mailey, former Test cricketer, and Jim Bancks, Sydney cartoonist, congratulating him ‘on having survived sticky wickets to reach a 50, and expressed the hope he would make a century. Mr Curtin said it was an appropriate tribute from Australia’s greatest googly bowler to its greatest googly statesman.’ 164
Thursday 31 August House of Representatives

Following a censure motion on the handling of strikes in the coalmining industry, outlines the actions taken by the Government to ensure increased coal production and highlights the inability of the opposition to control similar situations when they were in power.

‘The idea of assuming control of a mine in which a dispute of a non-industrial character has occurred will not be entertained. Where disputes of an industrial character do arise, and are germinated either by provocation or indifference on the part of the management, then, should an examination of the position satisfy us that control by the Government would increase production, the mine or mines concerned will be controlled; but no mine will be taken over or controlled merely for the sake of taking it over or controlling it. The only justification for the exercise of control, surely, must be that control would result in greater production. I venture to say, however, that the men who go on strike under the present management of a mine would go on strike under any other kind of management. Therefore, strikes must be stamped out. I say to the union that it will be destroyed if it cannot exercise discipline over its members, and I accept also as logical, the fact that the Government will be destroyed unless it also can enforce discipline.’


  • the appointment of Mr W H Tucker as one of the Commonwealth Government's representatives on the board of Commonwealth Oil Refineries.
  • the re-appointment of Professor R C Mills chairman of the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
  • A visit by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner Professor D B Copland to the United States, Canada and Britain to inquire into the problems of price control and price stabilization.
  • the extension of term of the High Commissioner for Australia, Mr. Bruce.
Issues an order under National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations directing all members of the Federated Gas Employees Industrial Union, New South Wales Branch, employed by the Australian Gaslight Company or the North Shore Gas Company Limited to resume work on 1st September, 1944. 165
Friday 1 September Canberra

Makes statement on the enforcement of National Security (Mobilization of Services and Property) Regulations in respect to industrial action by members of the Federated Gas Employees Industrial Union, New South Wales Branch, and all employees under the South Australian Railways Commissioner.

Announces the appointment of a Commonwealth Disposals Commission to release to the public the vast stores of government goods accumulated during the war. 166
Saturday 2 September Canberra
  Makes statement on total casualty figures suffered by the forces of the British Commonwealth and Empire. 167
Monday 4 September Canberra

Issues order prohibiting the running of special transport to sporting fixtures.

Announces amendments of National Security (Racing Restriction) Regulations. 168
Tuesday 5 September Mt. Lawley, Western Australia
  Death of John Curtin’s mother-in-law, Annie Needham, aged 86. 169
Wednesday 6 September Government House
  Attends swearing in of Sir Winston Dugan, acting Governor-General, pending the arrival of the Duke of Gloucester. 170
Thursday 7 September House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • recommendations for the appointment of press attaches to Australia's diplomatic representatives in Ottawa, New Delhi, and Wellington, and of other officers of the Department of Information.
  •  government policy giving preference in employment to returned soldiers.
  • refuting claim in the United States Congress that the Australian Government knew before 7 December, 1941, that a Japanese Fleet was proceeding towards Pearl Harbour.
Tables documents relating to the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference held at Bretton Woods (USA) 1-22 July, 1944. 171
Friday 8 September House of Representatives

Rescinds order issued on 4 September, prohibiting the running of special transport to sporting fixtures.

Makes statements:

  • praising the amount of coal produced in the last two weeks.
  • on the escape by Japanese prisoners from an Australian camp on 5 August 1944. 172


Monday 11 September Canberra
  Makes statement on support for Poland by the British Commonwealth and Australia, and announces decision not to reintroduce daylight saving. 173
Tuesday 12 September Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • Rationing of coal stocks and rail congestion.
  • Full Cabinet endorsement of a bill to approve of Australia's membership of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • Indicating the Commonwealth Government would welcome specific proposals from British interests anxious to establish industries in Australia after the war.
  • Full Cabinet consideration and adoption of recommendations of a report examining motor car manufacture in Australia.
  • Satisfaction that the views of the Australian Government were being adequately put in discussions in Quebec between the British Prime Minister (Mr Churchill) and President Roosevelt.
  • Full Cabinet consideration and deferment of a request that citizens of the Australian Capital Territory be given representation in the Commonwealth Parliament.
  • Full Cabinet approval of request by some parents for the retention in Australia of children evacuated in 1940 for the duration of the war.


  • Appointment of the Assistant Director-General of Man Power (Mr W Funnell) as Director-General of Man Power, succeeding Mr W C Wurth.
  • Decision of Full Cabinet to erect a building in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
  • Sends letter to organisations associated with the meat industry concerning production targets. 174
Wednesday 13 September House of Representatives

Responds to criticisms of the 1944-45 Budget by pointing to the relative performance of the Australian economy in the comparison with those of the allies. Also points to the difficulties of managing a national economy in times of war and concludes by pointing to the need for international co-operation in the post-war years to ensure that the homeless of Europe and Asia are fed and clothed.

Announces swearing in of Sir Winston Dugan as Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia on the departure of the Governor-General (Lord Gowrie).

Makes statement on post-war plans for civil aviation. 175
Thursday 14 September Canberra

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

Makes statement on claim that Consolidated Industries Ltd has an agreement with the Commonwealth under the Motor Vehicle Agreement Act. 176
Friday 15 September House of Representatives

Announces that the Australian High Commissioner in Canada (Sir William Glasgow) and the head of the Australian Military Mission at Washington (Lieutenant-General Sir John Lavarack) have gone to a meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill in Quebec and will participate in discussions if necessary.

Makes statements on:

  • the production of aircraft (Lancaster bombers) and the use of manpower.
  • the return of Sir Owen Dixon to the High Court Bench and his replacement as Australian Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in the United States of America.
Releases second report of the Regulations Advisory Committee reviewing National Security Act regulations and orders in the light of changing circumstances of the war. 177
Saturday 16 September Canberra
  Makes statement on the progress of meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill in Quebec. 178
Monday 18 September Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • aid by Australia to the United States under the reciprocal agreement.
  • discussions and Australian representation at a meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt in Quebec
  • War Cabinet decision to provide clothing for female members of the services on discharge.

‘…civilian clothing of sufficiently good quality and make to enable them to take their place in civilian life. Provision will be made in the form of a cash allowance of £6 10s being the amount estimated as required to purchase retail a suitable two-piece suit or frock and hat. Service issue garments including skirts, shoes, stockings, summer and winter underwear, gloves and overcoats may be retained by the personnel being discharged. Benefits will be conditional on the completion of three months' satisfactory service and that the discharge is not for disciplinary reasons.’ 179

Tuesday 19 September Canberra

Writes to Yatala Ovenden in the wake of the death of his mother-in-law, to whom he was close, saying that he was ‘feeling flat and sad and over-burdened’. [Annie Needham died on 5 September 1944.]

Makes statements:

  • indicating that a state of war will exist until Japan surrenders regardless of a German surrender.
  • on migration to Australia, of United States and other servicemen. 180
Wednesday 20 September Canberra

Holds press conference which included Curtin saying:

‘He had had a complete account of the Quebec conference. The decision of the conference brought down to definite shape Allied participation in the defeat of Japan. … the despatches from Churchill contained a good deal of detail. Curtin said he had shown them to Menzies and Fadden. It was decided there should be no disclosure to the Opposition or government members generally. … Curtin said, “I go home tonight more relieved than I have been since the war commenced.” … A target date had been set for the defeat of Japan but Curtin refused to say what it was.. He said jokingly that it ought to be a month before the next election was due, then added seriously: 'It could be that too.' 181
Thursday 21 September Canberra
  Makes statement on compulsory unionism and wages benefits. 182
Friday 22 September House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • examination of draft bill submitted by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia concerning preference in employment to returned soldiers.
  • no immediate intention to vary the existing broadcasting system as far as frequency modulation was concerned.

Announces staff of the Governor-General Designate (the Duke of Gloucester).

Injures ankle by slipping while walking along one of the galleries at Parliament House and was ‘ordered to bed by Dr Sir Earle Page MP’…

Mr Curtin had broken the same ankle in a tennis accident ten years previously when playing tennis in the front garden of his home in Cottesloe, with his son, John Francis Curtin.

‘He followed a forehand retrieving shot too far into the surrounds and he went on the garden edge. There he lay carrying on verbally, telling me and my mate to get his so-and-so shoe off. Then we had to half carry him on one leg along the path up the stairway and on to the bed. We were verbally harassed because it was our fault for playing the ball wherever we played it.' 183

Monday 25 September Canberra

Makes national broadcast officially opening the Second Victory loan, with a target of £5 million.

Makes statement on Full Cabinet approval of the appointment of an inter-departmental committee to examine the post-war requirements of Darwin and surrounding regions. 184
Tuesday 26 September House of Representatives

Provides information on Australia’s contribution to food supply in Great Britain.

Announces forthcoming private joint meeting of both Houses of Parliament.

Makes statement on the use of militia in the war with Japan. 185

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Wednesday 27 September House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • proposal to set up a parliamentary committee to look into and report on migration.
  • investigations and possible prosecutions over stoppages on the coalfields.
  • the future composition of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, and the re-appointment of Professor R C Mills as chairman.
  • arrangements made with the British Government for the purchase of Australia's exportable surplus of meat and dairy products.
Announces visit by Senator Keane to the United States to discuss lend-lease and reciprocal lend-lease. 186
Friday 29 September House of Representatives

Makes statements on:

  • consideration by the Government and British authorities of the award of a special medal for service in New Guinea and other areas in the Pacific theatre.
  • conference with General Blamey regarding manpower and the war with Japan.
the constitution of a committee to consider a gratuity indicating the nation's recognition of the services by fighting men. 187
Saturday 30 September Canberra
  Attends last informal meeting of Prime Minister’s War Conference. 188
Sunday 1 October Canberra

Sends message to the Prime Minister of Belgium on the liberation of Belgium.

‘My colleagues and I have greeted with joy the liberation of Belgium after its four years of German occupation, and are greatly impressed by the energetic and democratic manner in which, under the direction of your government, Belgian national life has been resumed. The constancy and courage of the Belgian people during the past years has won the admiration of us all, and we rejoice to see the restoration to them now of the liberties in which they never lost faith. We share the emotion with which you have returned to your capital after your struggle by our side abroad, and extend our heartiest congratulations on this happy event. Please accept our cordial good wishes for the future prosperity and peace of Belgium.’ 189
Tuesday 3 October



Attends Premiers’ Conference and puts forward proposal on financial arrangements for land settlement of ex-servicemen.

Announces that officials of the British Commonwealth Governments will meet in Montreal on 23 October, 1944, to discuss operational and technical problems connected with the establishment of air routes between members of the British Commonwealth. 190
Wednesday 4 October Canberra

Attends Premiers’ Conference and speaks on possible amendments to the Prices Regulations.

At conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, makes statements on:

  • Commonwealth’s plans for regional development and planning, and on resolutions agreed to.
  • the main principles adopted for the administration of a price stabilization plan for government departments.
  • a strict system of branding and grading beef, mutton and lamb on a quality basis be adopted.
  • aspects of the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Act.

Holds press conference at which he indicates he:

‘…is angry with Lazzarini over his pamphlet on banking policy. He said, “I wish some of these architects of the New Order would shut up. There is a loan on. A man who cannot see the difference between banking policy in this war and the last is the man who is unable to see the difference between 6 per cent and 3¼ per cent.’" 191
Thursday 5 October Canberra

Makes statements on:

  • the adoption by the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers of agreements and principles for land settlement of servicemen.
  • a resolution adopted at conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers on drought relief to farmers.

At the conclusion of the conference:

Thanks ‘the Premiers for the diligent manner in which they have devoted themselves to the deliberations of the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers just concluded. The conference has done well in dealing with the major purpose of the meeting - to consider plans for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. I believe that the time devoted to the subject has been put to good use and I sincerely hope that, with the Commonwealth and the States co-operating, ex-servicemen themselves, who have such a large personal interest in this matter, will have a confident expectation of success. It will be good for the country if they succeed and it will be happy for it if they succeed.’ 192
Friday 6 October Canberra

Holds press conference which includes discussion on the war in Europe. Curtin said:

‘”The war in Europe is not going to go as fast as some people imagined.” He regretted General Montgomery’s promise that November would see and end of the war. He thought a politician could make such predictions but a soldier could not make such promises to other soldiers.’ 193
c. Saturday 7 October Perth
  Leaves for brief holiday in Perth 194
Thursday 12 October Perth

Sends communication to the Federal Executive of the Chamber of Manufactures, Canberra, and to the Chamber of Manufactures in each State on the Government’s plans for trade and commerce.

Makes statement on post-war cooperation, world organisation and the Dumbarton Oaks Conference.

‘The nations with the greatest resources have the greatest responsibilities. Upon the British Commonwealth, United States and Russia, really depends the efficacy of machinery to make the Security Council secure its purposes. Peace requires very much more than abstract principles and a huge deliberative assembly. To preserve the peace of the world requires a stronger army than that of any would-be aggressor or aggressors.’ 195
Monday 16 October Victoria Park, Western Australia

 John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of West Australian News Ltd.  John Curtin addressing pupils at Kent Street State School, Victoria Park, October 1944.  JCPML00409/16
JCPML. Records of West Australian News Ltd. John Curtin addressing pupils at Kent Street State School, Victoria Park, October 1944. JCPML00409/16

Visits Kent Street State School and gives an address to students on the ‘Ideals of Citizenship’. 196
Tuesday 17 October Perth Town Hall

JCPML. Records of West Australian News Ltd. John Curtin speaking at the Perth Town Hall, 2nd Victory Loan Campaign, 18 October 1944. JCPML00140/1

Speaks at Second Victory Loan demonstration, issuing ‘a frank and firm warning that the less people concentrated on the war from now on the longer they would have to suffer the fact that the war would continue.’ 197
Wednesday 18 October Perth

Announces that during the absence of the Minister for Air and Civil Aviation (Mr Drakeford), the Minister for Home Security (Mr Lazzarini) would act as Minister for Air and Civil Aviation.

Makes statement on sinking of Japanese transport and rescue of Allied prisoners.

‘Most of them are in good health. They are from Malaya and Siam. The British party are being brought home via the United States as soon as possible. The Australian party is now en route to Australia. The next-of-kin of the recovered survivors have been informed. It is feared that a number of prisoners lost their lives when the transport was torpedoed. A demand has been made of the Japanese authorities for full lists of those who were on the transport and of any survivors in their hands.’ 198
Thursday 19 October Perth
  Makes statement on the war with Japan, preparations in the Pacific theatre for the defeat of the Japanese, and the part to be played by Australia. 199
Friday 20 October Perth

Makes statement on the landing in the Philippines and the fulfilment of a pledge by General MacArthur that he would return.

‘Now that the great bulk of United States forces have moved from the mainland of Australia, I offer to them and to their great Commander-in-Chief (General Douglas MacArthur) the deep gratitude of the Australian Government and people.

Australians will never forget the feeling of deep relief which swept this country when United States forces first landed here early in 1942. During their stay here, we have learned much from them and I trust that they have come to know Australia and Australians better. The contacts made will, I am sure, prove permanent in many cases, and to this end arrangements have been made to smooth the way for any United States serviceman who desires to live permanently in Australia.

These men are now engaged in the greatest operation in the Pacific war so far, and until Japan is subdued they will go on to greater conflicts. They will share a comradeship in arms with Australian forces which must have a lasting effect in the collaboration that will be so vital in the peace. The hopes and prayers of all Australians will be with these fighting men wherever they go to strike at our common enemy.’ 200
Saturday 21 October Gloucester Park, Perth
  Takes march-past for Rotary Youth Week at Gloucester Park. 201
Sunday 22 October Araluen Park, Roleystone

Visits park that ‘his old friend and one-time enemy J J Simons had developed for his Young Australia League,’ and ‘absorbed the peaceful atmosphere of the park’s surroundings.' 202

Wednesday 25 October Perth/Melbourne

Broadcasts over the national network promoting the Second Victory Loan.


Leaves for Eastern States by train. Feels unwell on train journey. 203

Thursday 26 October Melbourne
  Makes statement announcing damage and casualties suffered by HMAS Australia, during the Allied invasion of the Philippine Islands. 204
c. Friday 27 October Melbourne

Keeps to his hotel for several days.

Details submarine attacks on shipping from July 1942 to December 1943. 205
Sunday 29 October Melbourne

Makes joint broadcast with Leader of the Opposition (Mr Menzies) and the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Fadden) on the necessity for greatly improving the response to the Second Victory Loan. 206


Tuesday 31 October Melbourne

Makes statements:

  • foreshadowing meeting in early November with officers of the ACTU to review general problems of industry and labour with a view to ensuring maximum production in 1945.
  • on Australian survivors of the sinking of Japanese transport announced on 18 October.

‘It is now known that 92 Australian prisoners of war were among those saved when a Japanese transport was torpedoed on 12th September, 1944. Of these, 86 have arrived in Australia, 81 belonging to the Australian Imperial Force, four to the Royal Australian Navy, and one to the Royal Australian Air Force. The remainder, all Australian Imperial Force, are expected in Australia shortly.

Pending information from the Japanese authorities, the survivors have been requested to carry out the difficult and responsible task of compiling from memory a list of other prisoners of war who were on board the transport.' 207
Wednesday 1 November Melbourne


  • that due to a late rush, details of amount raised and number of subscribers in the Second Victory Loan, would be delayed.
  • arrangements for the observance of Armistice Day, 1944.
  • funding for research and publicity for the wool industry as ‘a matter of great urgency if wool is to withstand the threat of alternative materials. 208
Friday 3 November Melbourne
  Suffers an apparent heart attack and is taken by ambulance to Mercy Private Hospital.' 209
Saturday 4 November Canberra
  Announcement in the name of the Prime Minister, John Curtin, of arrangements to mark the national day of Russia on 7 November. 210
Friday 10 November Canberra

Announcement by Acting Prime Minister Forde of the illness of John Curtin.

‘I have received from Dr F Blois Lawton, medical adviser of the Prime Minister (Mr Curtin), a report indicating that Mr Curtin's health had become affected, involving some strain on the heart, as a result of the heavy and continued burden of his official duties. It is considered that complete rest of Mr Curtin in hospital this month is necessary, that this must be followed by modified rest during December, and that resumption of work should be possible some time in January, 1945. A decision regarding the last-mentioned will be made later.’

The question of the illness of the Prime Minister (Mr Curtin) was discussed at Full Cabinet this morning, and members asked me to convey to the Prime Minister regret at his illness and to express their profound hope that he will soon be completely recovered and able to resume his place at the head of national affairs.’ 211
Saturday 11 November Mercy Private Hospital, Melbourne
  Requires ‘complete rest in hospital for the rest of this month and modified rest during December,’ and is ‘not likely to resume his full duties until January’. 212
Monday 13 November Canberra

Requests Mr Forde to act as Prime Minister in his absence.

A meeting of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party chaired by Rt Hon F M Forde, Acting Prime Minister, resolved that:

‘This meeting of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party expresses to the leader (Mr John Curtin) its deep regret at his illness and offers the heartfelt hope that he will be fully restored to health so that he may continue to lead the party which he has done so ably in the past nine years.

This meeting extends its congratulations to the leader on the fact that shortly he will have been Prime Minister longer than any other Labor leader.

This meeting expresses to the leader its admiration of the manner in which he has led the nation through the years of crisis and assures him of its complete support in carrying out the great tasks that lie ahead. 213
Wednesday 15 November Mercy Private Hospital, Melbourne

Writes to his wife, Elsie Curtin:

‘Today I am endeavouring to write my first letter … I feel that I am now beginning to make headway. The first week was not too good; but I now consider myself justified in writing a confident letter … It appears that my heart has been affected for some time .. I had fears about leaving home this time. I did want someone with me. However, all my love my darling and remember all the years we have had together and the joys we had.

Your loving husband.' 214
Wednesday 22 November Mercy Private Hospital, Melbourne

Writes to his wife, Elsie Curtin:

‘Time presses along: I feel that I am making headway but of course it takes patience and more days than are comfortable to get things made new. … Incidentally I have knocked off smoking. A whole week has passed without one cigarette and prior to that I smoked only a few a day. I did smoke far too many. Anyhow in here I came to the conclusion I should give the treatment the field to itself without the adverse influence of nicotine. … I have read several novels and at night listen for a short while to the news and perhaps an odd item if it is not crooning. But when I get better I am going to give the ABC fits and Charles Moses two fits. Glad to get your letters. Tell Elsie and Jack I love them and not to worry. I am going to be better but it is an uphill road and fairly long.

All my love my dearest dear.’ 215
November Mercy Private Hospital, Melbourne

Receives a succession of visitors:

‘Mollie and Francie, Kath and George, Ann Evans and Mrs Ovenden and Mrs Glennie – they were Yat and Bob Bruce when I was young. And I have had Dr Mannix twice, Mr Scullin twice, General Blamey twice and Arthur Calwell once. That is the lot! 216
Wednesday 29 November Mercy Private Hospital, Melbourne
  Saw the doctors again and though they were satisfied with his progress ‘an additional period of complete rest for a fortnight was ordered.' 217
Tuesday 5 December Mercy Private Hospital, Melbourne

Writes to his wife, Elsie Curtin:

‘… So tomorrow I will be five weeks in bed. Tough! I feel pretty good but of course I must have weakened in my limbs and every other part as a result of continued inaction … However, it is no good being a moaner. I just have to keep on this road, however long it may be in order to be of any use thereafter, and time passes and when it is over now we soon forget how tough it was. I am still a non-smoker – three weeks now! Only I have not got a money box in which to place the money saved.

… I am so glad Elsie [daughter] is coming. Both of you would be best but one will be fine. Lots of miserable hours here and I need a lady to boss me.

I hope you are keeping well and that the troubles of the day are not too many. In writing to John I told him I remembered my own wedding day and my best wish for him is that his wedding brought him the graces mine brought me.’ 218
Friday 8 December Mercy Private Hospital, Melbourne

Is allowed up for 15 minutes while the bed is made.

  Message sent to the Prime Minister for the Australian people from President Chiang Kai-shek, on the third anniversary of the outbreak of the Pacific War extending the best wishes of the Chinese nation. 219
Saturday 9 December Mercy Private Hospital, Melbourne
  Sits in a chair for 45 minute meeting with Donald Nelson, a personal representative of President Roosevelt who had been on a mission to China and Russia. Also present were Dr Evatt and the US Minister, Nelson Johnson.
  West Perth

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.  Records of the Curtin Family.  John Curtin and his bride Catherine leaving Ross Memorial Church, West Perth after their marriage 9th December 1944.  JCPML00376/239
JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. John Curtin and his bride Catherine leaving Ross Memorial Church, West Perth after their marriage 9th December 1944. JCPML00376/239

Wedding of son, John Francis Curtin to Catherine Reid Neill at Ross Memorial Church. Sends telegram of good wishes. 220
c. Monday 11 December Melbourne
  Daughter Elsie arrives from Perth. 221
Tuesday 12 December Mercy Private Hospital, Melbourne

Writes to his wife, Elsie Curtin:

‘The report is the best one so far. … No plans have been made for my leaving hospital … Everything depends on how I stand up to the job of getting upon my feet, and walking about. All my love my dear one. I have no decisions to announce as to the future – they have to wait.' 222

Monday 25 December Mercy Private Hospital, Melbourne
  Has cardiograph which turns out ‘satisfactory’. 223
Friday 29 December Mercy Private Hospital, Melbourne

Writes to his wife, Elsie Curtin:

‘Well it appears that I am making satisfactory progress. That is the verdict. … Dr L--- brought the expert Dr T--- today. I could see that Dr L--- expected Dr T--- let me out of bed in say a few days. But Dr T--- says I should stay in bed and complete the work of restoring the arterial thing that went wrong in my ear. So that is how things stand. … It looks as though at best I will be here in bed another fortnight and then it will take a fair while to get me on my feet. No good being in the dumps about it. … PS The nurses are all lovely and nice and if I was not nearly 60 I would fall for anyone of them. Who do you love the best now?’ 224

End of December Melbourne/Canberra

Discharged from hospital into his daughter’s care.

Chauffeur Ray Tracey drives Curtin and his daughter to Albury, where they stop overnight, and then continue on to Canberra. 225