Diary of a Labour Man: 1917 - 1945

Full text Prime Minister



On the 24th May, 1944, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) broadcast from London on the occasion of Empire Day. Mr. Curtin said –

This day celebrates an association which goes on presenting every day to the world the spectacle of self-governing nations working loosely, yet closely; independently, yet unitedly; in a manner so successful that the British Empire has come to be recognized as the greatest in man's history.

Self-government is the predicate upon which responsible government is founded and Australians are completely free to govern themselves. Nothing can be done in Britain that will affect any law the Australian Parliament chooses to pass. The Australian Parliament is modelled upon the British Parliament because Australians believe that it is right to have responsibility and authority vested in the people.

The free institutions of Australia - its Parliament, its bodies of association, trades unions, political parties and the like - are British institutions. Numerically - because Australians are over 90 per cent. British stock - and in every other aspect, the Australian people are a replica of Britain and the way of life in Britain. In the southern hemisphere, 7,000,000 Australians carry on a British community as trustees for the British way of life in a part of the world where it is of the utmost significance to the British-speaking race that such a vast continent should have as its population a people and a form of government corresponding in outlook and in purpose to Britain.

That is why, in war, the Australian people have fought not only to retain their most precious possession, liberty, but have insisted that the retention of the Australian continent as a strategic base is just as vital to the struggle against Germany and Japan as any other factor.

Equally, in peace, the Australian people hope to share the great task which men of goodwill everywhere must join in shouldering. The part in that work which British people must play will be no mean one. The British Empire must give a lead to the world, but, in so doing it must of itself have a house that is in order. I believe that much that has been done at the recent gathering of Empire. Prime Ministers will make that possible.

The co-operation and collaboration achieved by brothers-in-arms in wartime must not be lost beyond the war. It will be the duty of the civil populations of the Empire to ensure that the fighting men who stood between them and the enemy are a primary national responsibility. Further, it must be a national duty to ensure that want, misery, hardship and inequality shall, in the years beyond the war, not stalk the lives of human beings as they did before the war.

I believe that there is a great hope and a great outlook for mankind. But ideas and ideals will not be realized without hard work and, possibly, not without a good deal of misunderstanding on the part of many who may honestly or maliciously mistake the aims and objectives of the British Empire. Let us all then - we who speak the same tongue - join with one voice in expressing our determination to make of our Empire a shining example for all. For, in so doing, we make for millions of Britishers yet unborn a place in which justice and decency will replace those things which must become part of the dead past.

Australia salutes her partners in the British Commonwealth and pledges herself to work for Empire Days of the future which will reflect milestones in the advance of mankind towards a better and happier way of life."