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The Effects of World War 1 on the Australian Economy

Video clip synopsis – When our troops were sent off to war in 1914, industry in Australia boomed. Steel was necessary for guns and ships.
Year of production - 1914-18
Duration - 1min 17sec
Tags - ANZAC, Australian History, economic development, Gallipoli, national identity, World War 1, see all tags


The Effects of World War 1 on the Australian Economy

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About the Video Clip


The Effects of World War 1 on the Australian Economy is an excerpt from the film Cavalcade of Australia 1901-1951 (34 mins), produced in 1951.

Cavalcade of Australia 1901-1951: Produced by the Australian National Film Board to celebrate the Jubilee of Federation, Cavalcade of Australia 1901-1951 provides an historical review of the development of the nation between 1901 and 1951. The film opens with the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary) to Australia in 1901 to open the first Commonwealth Parliament. Through the use of historical footage, the film not only covers notable events in the Commonwealth story but also social development, fashions and economic growth over the period.

Cavalcade of Australia1901-1951 was produced by the Department of the Interior.

Background Information


In 1914 Australia entered World War I.

At the start of the war Australia was a nation whose main economic activity was agriculture and natural resource production. During the war the disruption of international shipping and the channelling of materials to war production meant that many imports to Australia were reduced, or no longer available. Australia began expanding its own secondary manufacturing industries as a result, including the development of steel production. Much of this was focused in the Newcastle area of New South Wales.

During 1915 Australia’s main involvement in the war was at Gallipoli, in Turkey, where Australian troops were part of an Allied invasion designed to force Turkey out of the war. The invasion failed, but many people in Australia saw Gallipoli as proof that Australians had passed the 'test’ of nationhood. The end of this clip alludes to the impact that the war had upon Australia’s economy.

In this video clip we see a government information film presenting a narrative that explains the development of Australia’s steel industry in this war context.

Classroom Activities

    1. What is the image of war that is presented in the video clip? Consider what words are used, what images are presented. Consider also what typical images are not presented. Why do you think that image is being constructed by the filmmakers?
    2. Look at the variety of footage that is presented to show the Gallipoli experience. Discuss what elements might be real footage from the time and what might be a later reconstruction. Explain how you distinguish between the two.
    3. Watch the video clip with the sound off, and make a shot list of the different images presented about Gallipoli.
    4. What is your image/impression is of the nature of the war experience at Gallipoli.
    5. How satisfying is the video clip as a representation of the Gallipoli experience? Make a list of the types of shots you would like to see added to this representation to make it more in line with your image of Gallipoli and decide where you would place these new shots or scenes.
    6. Imagine that this video clip is being watched by the sets of people listed. How might each respond to the video clip?
      * A returned soldier who was at Gallipoli
      * The family of a soldier who died at Gallipoli
      * A man who has gained work at the Newcastle steel works.
  1. Gallipoli is seen to be a crucial element in the formation of Australian identity.
    1. If you ONLY had this video clip about Gallipoli, what would you say was the impact of this event on Australia? Why do you think the video clip presents such a limited image of the significance of Gallipoli to Australia?
    2. Research the image of Gallipoli in Australian national identity. What is stressed or emphasised and what is not? How has it been presented in Norman Lindsay’s recruiting posters from the time, in literature such as Albert Facey’s ¬¬A Fortunate Life and Alan Seymour’s The One Day of the Year, and in Peter Weir’s film Gallipoli.
  2. What does this clip suggest about the impact that the war had upon the economy?
  3. Study an ANZAC Day ceremony as a representation of national identity. Look at such aspects as:
  • Who is actively involved
  • Who watches
  • What symbols are present
  • Where events are focused
  • What music is associated with it
  • What words are used
  • How it is commented on by the media
  • What ideas are associated with it.
    If an outsider, a visitor to Australia, were to see all this, what conclusions could they draw about the meaning and values associated with ANZAC Day for Australia.

Bonza: Australian colloquialisn for ‘great’
Cobber: Australian colloquialism for ’‘mate’
Johnny Turk: is a term used by Australian troops to describe the Turkish enemy