The research papers of  Tom  Fitzgerald


Curtin as a journalist

Before entering parliament in 1928, and for a few years in the early nineteen thirties, John Curtin earned all or part of his livelihood as a journalist. The research papers include many references to Curtin in this role.

Fitzgerald also researched Curtin's involvement with the Special Course of Study for Journalists offered at the University of Western Australia, especially during the years Curtin was WA President of the Australian Journalists' Association in the 1920s.




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Notes re Curtin as journalist

As an M.H.R., Curtin never claimed more than to be a ticket holding member of the journalists’ professional association. In fact, he had held and exercised a leading position among journalists in WA, having been the State Branch President of the AJA for....! (several) years, and been very active in that position in promoting the educational qualifications of working journalists. His leadership was accepted, of employees of the Perth metropolitan newspapers.

After his 11 years as a newspaper editor in Perth, producing a Labor paper whose quality was respected by journalists and others who were not of his party (Hasluck, Rev. Hector Harrison), as a politician he not only brought an easy and natural relationship to his contacts (association) with journalists, but also an unconscious (probably) air of seniority in their company, as seems to be detectable in his manner of dealing with them in the Press Conferences as recorded by F.T. Smith, when Curtin sometimes appears to be swanning it rather in recounting to the newspaper men events and information from his current experiences as P.M.

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library. Records of Tom Fitzgerald. Notes re Curtin as journalist. n.d. JCPML00653/28/20.




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Extracts from: Notes re Curtin: the writer and the doer (journalist and parliamentary leader)

Curtin: the writer and the doer (journalist and parliamentary leader) – ideology and idealism qualified.
What a person writes in the abstract, especially when young and without responsibility for performing action, will be different from what he does, can do, when required to have electoral support for what he does...

At times, when young, Curtin scorned this distinction but not for long, sustained periods. These was Anstey’s example and influence to counter and correct his syndicalist phase picked up from the Mann. Yet Anstey, later, was to despair...

Even as a parliamentary backbencher, Curtin recognised some of the necessary qualifications: see his explanation to Theodore after the 1931 defeat of why he opposed the Labor government’s adoption of the Premiers Plan.

What Curtin showed in practice (as PM) was great political shrewdness (and powers of leadership). But he was more prepared than the majority of his government to defer radical action until when he considered the opportune time. Trace how his Parliamentary experience moulded him from the start in 1928. (eg Ross pp 90 pp).

But also, the politician does become middle class – never goes back to manual work. Same as the union official in the “Marat” [article in the Socialist newspaper] of August 1911 recognised that common factor between politicians and union leaders – a big shock of revelation.

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library. Records of Tom Fitzgerald. Notes re Curtin: the writer and the doer (journalist and parliamentary leader), 1911-1986. JCPML00653/90/18




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Extracts from: Australian Journalists' Association Course of Study at University of W.A.

The University of Western Australia is continuing its Special Course of Study for Journalists in April 1922, at the instance of the Australian Journalists’ Association (Western Australian District).

Lectures will be delivered on (a) Logic, (b) English Composition.

Students may take either or both of the above subjects, as they desire. One lecture per week will be delivered in each subject. The English Composition course will not commence until the second term, which starts in June. Intending students are asked to bear in mind the importance of giving regular attendance at lectures.

There will be no examinations.


Fellow Members –
This District has pioneered the establishment of a definite association between working journalists and the culture and stimulus of University life. The District committee are proud to have been enabled to set this example, and, of course, very grateful to the authorities of the University of Western Australia, without whose sympathy and generosity nothing could have been done...

May I point out that the Education Course is a plank in the policy of the Association. It is there because, on every occasion members have discussed it, they have carried resolutions, the effect of which is that the Committee are in honour bound to assure adequate support to the University authorities, who go to much trouble to give to journalists an opportunity for training not paralleled in any other sphere of work.

This year’s syllabus is particularly attractive. It includes Logic under the direction of Mr Fox, and English Composition, which is in the hands of Professor Murdoch. The Committee will be gratified – and the University as well – if every member will undertake the enrol himself as a regular attendant at the lectures. I ask this in the name of loyalty to the Association. The things done in our name should be done by all of us, and not only by a faithful few. To associate for education is not less splendid, and is no less profitable, than to associate for wages. Will you, then put your name down as a 1922 student?

Yours faithfully,


John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library. Records of Tom Fitzgerald. Australian Journalists' Association Course of Study at University of W.A. for 1922. JCPML00653/231/22.


Investigating John Curtin home
Curtin's writings as a socialist
Curtin and economics