John Curtin

From Revolutionary Firebrand to Journalist in Spirit

John Curtin is best remembered as the prime minister who led Australia through the dark days of World War II.

However, before entering parliament, and for a few years in the early nineteen thirties, John Curtin earned all or part of his livelihood as a journalist.

The story of John Curtin's development as a journalist and his special relationship with the media as prime minister is explored here.

Former journalist John Curtin meets the Canberra Press Gallery (known as the Circus) c. 1945

Former journalist John Curtin meets the Canberra Press Gallery (known as The Circus) c1945. Records of the Curtin family. JCPML00376/2.


Revolutionary Firebrand
As a young man, John Curtin contributed fiery articles to the Socialist, the newspaper which dubbed itself the 'Organ of Revolution' of the Victorian Socialist Party (1906-1915).

Union Editor
In 1913, as Secretary of the Timber Workers Union of Victoria, he founded and was part-time editor of the Timber Worker.

Westralian Worker Editor
From 1917 to 1928, John Curtin was editor of the Westralian Worker, the 'Official Organ of the West Australian Labor Party'.

Casual Journo
After a term in Federal Parliament, he wrote sporting columns for the Worker and political commentary for the two Perth daily newspapers (1932-34).

Journalist in Spirit
As prime minister, John Curtin relished being involved with those presenting the war-time news he was helping to create.

John Curtin brought a single focus to his journalism - starting with the promotion of revolutionary socialism and, later, the more conventional politics in the Australian Labor Party. He wrote in the Australasian Journalist:

'All over the world the Labor movement starts off with a soap-box. Around this "Temple of the Winds" gather the faithful. Their immediate, in fact their sole purpose is to spread the gospel.'

In the spreading of the socialist gospel, the printing press followed the soap box. It was not surprising that Curtin's journalism retained the rhetorical flourishes and partisan judgments of the street-corner meeting.

  For students and teachers - test your knowledge with the On-line quiz and Mix & Match Activity.

Author: Ron Davidson
Web Design: Sue Grey-Smith and Lesley Wallace
with assistance from David Wylie
Education Interactives: Ros Marshall
Acknowledgements: The JCPML thanks Kodak Australia for their financial support of this educational web resource.

You'll need QuickTime to listen to audio clips contained in these pages.
Download QuickTime Plug-in

JCPML Home   Copyright Information
Published by John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library © 2000