Free for educational use
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 5min 2sec
Tags - Australian History, biography, Great Depression, historical representations, language, Prime Ministers, reporting, representations, see all tags
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About the Video Cliptop
Joseph Lyons’ Love Letters is an episode from the series The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures, produced in 2007.
The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures
Award winning cartoonist and yarn spinner, Warren Brown, reveals the emotional lives of Australian Prime Ministers through 10 objects they used every day or even adored – from Robert Menzies’ home movie camera, to Joseph Lyons’ love letters, Harold Holt’s briefcase and Ben Chifley’s pipe. These treasures reveal the nation’s leaders, as you have never seen them before.
The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures is a Film Australia National Interest Program produced in association with Old Parliament House and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
At Level 6, students write sustained and cohesive narratives that experiment with different techniques and show attention to chronology, characterisation, consistent point of view and development of a resolution. They write persuasive texts dealing with complex ideas and issues and control the linguistic structures and features that support the presentation of different perspectives on complex themes and issues. They select subject matter and begin to use a range of language techniques to try to position readers to accept particular views of people, characters, events, ideas and information.
Joseph Lyons was elected to the Commonwealth Parliament in 1929 as the Australian Labor Party member for a seat in Tasmania. Two years later he was Prime Minister, representing the United Australia Party, having left the ALP in protest against that party’s Depression economic policies.
The Depression meant a huge increase in unemployment. The major parties disagreed over what they should do. The Labor Government wanted to increase government spending to stimulate economic activity and create jobs. Where would the money come from to do this? From delaying or reducing the payment of debts to British investors and banks. To Lyons, this was irresponsible. He wanted Australia to cut its spending, not increase it, and to pay back debts, not defer them. He split from his party and became leader of the new United Australia Party, and was elected in 1931.
Lyons was a trusted figure. He and his adored wife and confidante, Enid, presented a genuine picture of domestic harmony and security to the Australian public despite the many separations they endured as he commuted from the family home in Tasmania to the Australian capital. They had 12 children together. Politics rarely produces impassioned romantics, which is just what makes the hundreds of letters Joseph Lyons wrote to Enid as fascinating as they are unexpected. He died in office and Enid went on to become the first female member of the Federal House of Representatives and the first woman in Federal Cabinet.
Joseph Lyons (1879 -1939) was Prime Minister of Australia from January 1932 to April 1939. Joseph Lyons’ love letters are held at the National Library of Australia in Canberra
Writing a biography
One form of communication about a Prime Minister can be through a biography.
A biography of a Prime Minister should tell us about:
- The person’s background
- His life before politics — and how that shaped his later life
- Why the person entered politics
- How the person became Prime Minister
- What the person achieved, and failed to achieve, as Prime Minister
- The influence of others on him in the role
- His life after the Prime Ministership
- An assessment or evaluation of the impact of the role on him, and his impact on the nation.
You should research these aspects, and then use the object as a way of focusing on or introducing your biographical story to your readers.
Your presentation can be as:
- A journalistic article
- An imaginary memoir
- A formal biographical article
- A PowerPoint-supported oral presentation
- A debate (e.g. that Prime Minister X contributed more to Australia than Prime Minister Y)
- Or some other format.