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Video clip synopsis – Bruce Petty demonstrates his representation of key Australian political figures.
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 2min 2sec
Tags - art, creativity, drawing, icons, Interpretation, Learning Journey Satire, representations, satire, see all tags


Cartooning Techniques

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About the Video Clip


Talkback Classroom is a forum program run by the Education section of the National Museum of Australia. Each year, panels of three secondary students selected from schools Australia-wide interview leading decision makers on important current issues. The panels participate in a ‘learning journey’ (researching the issues and developing interview skills) to explore the issues and prepare for the forum.

In 2007 a forum on the topic of ‘Political Satire’ was held. The guests interviewed were John Safran, SBS TV/Triple J radio presenter and Canberra-based cartoonist David Pope. The interview panellists were ACT students Kirrily Howarth (Yr 12 St Francis Xavier College), Samantha Bobba (Yr 10 Lyneham High School) and Wil Francis (Yr 9 Belconnen High School). In preparation for the forum, students participated in a learning journey that involved interviewing Australian cartooning icon Bruce Petty and Joe Hockey, Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing.

Background Information


Australia has a rich political history. A significant part of this history is political satire; this allows society to see the ‘underbelly’ of the political process and to gain insights into governmental behaviour and decision making.

Political satire in Australia is most often seen in the form of cartoons or television programs. The first political cartoon published in an Australian newspaper appeared in 1835 in the Cornwall Chronicle in Launceston, Tasmania. Many of Australia’s major newspapers continue to feature political satire cartoons as part of their daily editorial. With the arrival of television in Australia, political satire soon moved into this medium in the form of shows such as The Mavis Bramston Show, The Games, The Glasshouse and The Chaser’s War on Everything.

Many contemporary topics are covered by political satirists. Climate change, terrorism, economics, the environment, elections and government ‘indiscretions’ are often targets for political satire. Often the satirists will interpret a topic in such a way that will expose the real substance of it, frequently allowing people to gain a better understanding of the topic and to be better informed. Political satire performs an important role in Australia’s democratic society; it is a potent device that can expand awareness of the matters that affect all Australians.

Classroom Activities


Before you watch

Collect a range of political satire cartoons from newspapers and online sources. Analyse the styles of the cartoonists in regard to the way they draw famous Australian and international political figures. Look at the way they emphasise facial and other body features, tallness and shortness, clothing, hair and posture.

Select one or two cartoons and assess them with regard to how accurately they express the character of the political figures in them. Write up your assessment setting out how the cartoons achieve the aim of expressing the characters of the political figures depicted.

While you watch

Observe closely the way cartoonist Bruce Petty draws the Prime Minister.

  • What features does he focus upon to characterise Mr Rudd?
  • How successful is his characterisation?

He goes on to draw Mr Joe Hockey, Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing.

  • How does that drawing compare to the drawing of Mr Rudd?
  • What are the similarities and differences?

After you watch

Try your hand at political cartooning. Collect some photographs of Australian politicians from newspapers or online. Select one or two as the subject matter for your cartoons. Research some current affairs in which they are involved so that you can combine your characterisations with a relevant topic. Practise your cartooning techniques before you produce your final piece. Look for specific things to emphasise in your practice. Once you are satisfied that you have developed an effective characterisation, create your cartoon on the topic relevant to your political identity or identities. Present your cartoon to others in the class; if possible, have them all displayed together.

Further Resources


National Museum of Australia’s Talkback Classroom website

National Museum of Australia ‘Behind the Lines’ Political Cartooning schools’ competition entries

National Museum of Australia Civics and Citizenship studies units