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08 January - John Curtin, A man lead us in War

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08 January - John Curtin, A man lead us in War

Unread postby Max ADU » Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:56 pm

Australian Birthday Today - John Joseph Curtin, 8 January 1885, Creswick, Victoria – 5 July 1945, was 14th Australian Prime Minister.


    Son of a police officer of Irish descent; Curtin attended school until the age of 14 when he started working for a newspaper in Creswick

    In September 1939 the world plunged into war when Germany invaded Poland. Prime Minister Robert Menzies proclaimed war on Germany as well and supported the UK war effort. In 1941 Menzies travelled to the UK to discuss Australia's role in the war strategy, and to express concern at the reliability of Singapore's defences. While he was in the UK, Menzies lost the support of his own party and was forced to resign.

    While he was in the UK, Menzies lost the support of his own party and was forced to resign when Curtin formed a minority government in 1941 after the crossbench consisting of two independent MPs crossed the floor in the House of Representatives, bringing down the Robert Menzies Coalition minority government

    . On 7 December 1941, the Pacific War broke out when Japan bombed Pearl Harbour.

    Curtin addressed the nation on the radio:
    "Men and women of Australia. We are at war with Japan. This is the gravest hour of our history. We Australians have imperishable traditions. We shall maintain them. We shall vindicate them. We shall hold this country and keep it as a citadel for the British-speaking race and as a place where civilisation will persist."

    Watch on youtube.com
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    On 10 December HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were both sunk by Japanese bombers off the Malayan coast.

    The Japanese threat was underlined on 19 February, when Japan bombed Darwin, the first of many air raids on northern Australia.

    Curtin formed a close working relationship with the Allied Supreme Commander in the South West Pacific Area, General Douglas MacArthur. Curtin realised that Australia would be ignored unless it had a strong voice in Washington, and he wanted that voice to be MacArthur's. He gave control of Australian forces to MacArthur, directing Australian commanders to treat MacArthur's orders as coming from the Australian government.

    He is widely regarded as one of the country's greatest Prime Ministers. General Douglas MacArthur said that Curtin was "one of the greatest of the wartime statesmen".

    In social policy, the Curtin Government enacted a wide range of progressive social reforms during its time in office.

    Pensions were introduced for deserted wives and widows, while the establishment of the Women’s Employment Board led to increased wages for some women during the war. Aboriginal Australians were provided with significantly increased entitlement to welfare benefits, while maternity allowances were extended.

    On 5 July 1945, at the age of 60, Curtin died, the only Prime Minister to die at The Lodge. He was the second Australian Prime Minister to die in office within six years. His body was returned to Perth on a RAAF Dakota escorted by a flight of nine fighter aircraft. He was buried at Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth.
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