Australians Wartime Leaders ; Robert Menzies

Robert Menzies was Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister and was elected in 1939, he headed the United Party until he resigned and started the Liberal Party. Robert Menzies committed Australia to war in Late 1939. After this speech Australians weren’t as encouraged to join the war effort because of their experience with WW1. Australia struggled to make the necessary 20,000 troops. Menzies didn’t introduce conscription because he believed that the many campaigns would help make the required amount of soldiers that he had promised to Britain. (10,000). this group of men was called the 6th Division… The Menzies government was the first to introduce rationing which was used because of the shortages and lack of many needed raw materials.


In 1939 the Menzies government also passed the National Security Act. This gave the government more power over the people allowing them to imprison the perceived internal “threats” such as German and Italian born citizens In 1947 Menzies opposed the banning of the communist party but 2 years later he had changed his mind. This is due to the widespread fear of communism in Australia.


John Curtin was one of Australia’s Prime Ministers during both world wars. In 1941 John Curtin became Prime Minister following the termination of the Menzies Government. He was responsible for the alliance between Australia and the U.S because he saw that they were the only country who would be able to avoid a Japanese invasion of Australia. This agreement was made after a disagreement with Winston Churchill in which he argued that Australian troops (7th Division) needed to be brought home to defend Australia, Winston Churchill disagreed. In the end, the troops were sent home. In 1943 John Curtin revised the defence act; this allowed the military to be sent to limited areas in the South-West pacific outside Australia.


Just one year earlier Curtin believed that the Japanese threat was too great and that it was necessary to send the militia outside Australia. Curtin also introduced s ration booklets which contained coupons to a certain value. In 1942 John Curtin introduced major rationing on many hard to come by items, such as butter, tea, alcohol, meat, clothes petrol, and chocolate. To stop the sale of such items at inflated prices in 1942 he also introduced the Black Marketing Act. Curtin died just before the war ended due to “the immense pressure/strain leading Australia during periods of war”



Australia Now and Then    Gary Disher   Oxford University Press

Australia in the 20th Century        Done Scott & Lindsay Dann          Oxford University Press

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