Free for educational use
John Curtin’s Australian Journalists’ Association Badge
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 5min 12sec
Tags - Australian History, biography, icons, identity, leadership, media, media influence, national identity, Prime Ministers, representations, representations of war, television documentaries, television drama, World War 2, see all tags
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About the Video Cliptop
John Curtin’s Australian Journalists’ Association Badge 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.
John Curtin started out as a copy-boy on The Age, working his way up the ladder via the union movement. He joined the Australian Journalists’ Association (AJA) in 1917 and was elected Western Australian President in 1920, before moving into politics. Twenty years later he became Australia’s fourteenth Prime Minister.
Curtin became Prime Minister in October, 1941. Many Australian troops were fighting in the Middle East and north Africa, and the others were based in Singapore. In February 1942 the Japanese took Singapore, with 30,000 Australian troops becoming prisoner. Australia seemed vulnerable to attack and even invasion. Curtin now moved to bring the Australian troops home from overseas, but British Prime Minister Churchill wanted to deploy them to Burma. Curtin fought against this, and won — but had to endure the anguish of knowing thousands of Australians were virtually without protection against a strong Japanese fleet as they made the return trip to Australia. And at the same time he had to stop Australians on the home front from panicking — and that meant controlling the news that the press would release. How could he do this?
Curtin’s affinity with the press served him well during these arduous years of World War 2, when he kept newspaper editors onside with regular press briefings, even revealing dispatches from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He wore his AJA badge every day he was in office.
John Curtin (1885-1945) was Prime Minister of Australia from October 1941 to July 1945. John Curtin’s Australian Journalists’ Association badge is held at the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library in Perth.
Using Curtin in the classroom
In 2006 the telemovie Curtin told the story of Curtin and his struggle to bring Australian troops back to defend Australia after the entry of Japan into the war.
Watch the film and use the Metro Study Guide to explore the questions:
- Can films that use historical reconstructions be good history?
- What are their strengths?
- What are their weaknesses?
- What qualities or characteristics do they need to have to qualify as good history?
Go to the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library
For more photographs, cartoons and other historical images of this Prime Minister go to the National Library of Australia and search using the Prime Minister’s name.