The thesis statement aims to find out why John Curtain was a better prime minister in comparison to Ben Chifley who was also leading labour party during his tenure. Despite his very famous speech “Light the Hill” he cannot become a successful leader in the hearts and minds of the Australian people. His moderate behavior with the Australian communist party and his attempt to make all the private banks nationalized were the main reasons for his defeat in 1945 (Henderson et al. 2017). John Curtin was 14th Prime minister of the country who served from 1941 to 1945. He served the country during the world war second. John Curtin is considered as one of the most successful leaders of his time no less than a hero. On the other hand, Ben Chifley was 16th Prime minister of the country who served the nation from 1945 to 1949. He was born on 22nd September in Bathurst, New South Wales. He began working as an engine driver in railways. At a very young age, he joined the labour party. He even worked with The National advocate newspaper and thus he was able to understand the people with an eye of journalists.
John Curtin served the country in the most difficult times and did not even take a toll on his health. John Curtin was born in a middle class Irish working family (Henderson et al. 2017). He grew up in a period of social untrust and has experienced poverty. It is due to this reason he can easily understand the situations of people going through the same. He was greatly influenced by Tom Mann and Frank Anstey and this led to his involvement in the labor movement and politics.
When he became a part of the labour party he begins to take the motive of the labour movement ahead. He started aiming to improve the standards of living of the people and help them achieve happiness in life (Fitzgerald 2017). He was ready to give them a helping hand in all the areas where people needed support. He wanted to make his citizen feel safe and secure. He was trying hard to establish a nation where people do not have to strive for food and feel safe and comfortable in the country.
On the very first day of being Prime Minister, he announced that my task as a leader is to win the war. He established an Allied Work Council to start arranging the major capital work that is required for creating a strong force for defence. He asked the state government to surrender their powers and raised income tax. He also directed Common Wealth to take control from the states and collect the revenue percentage for the war efforts. These step taken by John Curtin could not be taken by any other prime minister of the country be it Ben Chifley itself. John curtain introduced the daylight saving time in January 1942 under National security regulations with a motive to save fuel and electricity.
His other victory was noted in the same year when he attacked Japanese aircraft who has already captured Indo- China and Singapore. Japanese troop was moving towards the country and therefore it was very essential for Curtin to stop the invasion in Australia. He fought a great naval battle in the Pacific that day. He bombed Darwin on 19th February and made world history. As soon he received a message he went straight into the parliament to share the grim of the news (Colebatch 2018). The year 1942, brought an immense change in the life of Australian people. He with his power encountered Australia and resisted Americans in the country. John Curtin was the needed leader Australia could ever get during the most difficult time.
Soon after the war, the Curtin established Post-war department for reconstruction. He appointed Dr HCCoombs as director-general of the department. In 1943, he brought the widow's pension scheme and created a goal to restore full employment in the country become his priority. In addition to this, he also introduced coal production bill in the parliament to deal with industries who were utilizing coal without any measure for their production purpose while threatening the reserves of the coal in the country. In fourteen powers of the referendum, he extended the power of Common Wealth in different genres like production, prices, distribution, monopolies, infrastructure, national health, family allowances and so on. But later these amendments were rejected by the public.
It is during his tenure the Dorothy Tangney arrived at the Senate as a representative of the labour party after winning in the federal elections of 1943. Dorothy Tangney became the first lady to get elected in the parliament (Edwards 2017). In the same election, Enid Lyons was arrived in the House of Representatives after winning the elections. He even signed a treaty with New Zealand to consult and work together after the post-war territories in the security and defence sector of the country. The ANZAC pact was signed for the welfare of the people in the Pacific’s who suffered a lot in the war.
Ben Chifley, on the other hand, was a committed centralist and during his tenure of being president, he introduced national projects for the country such as snowy mountain hydro-electric scheme and immigration program. He also made amendments to give power to the Common Wealth and made it a collector of income tax so that it can have more control over the economy of the country. Chifley also served as a treasurer in the tenure of John Curtin (Gray 2020). He was a prime member of the economic organization during the war period. He expanded tertiary education and also brought the Common Wealth training program for all those ex-servicemen who let education in the middle for some reasons (McCann 2016).
He provided war gratuity to all the soldiers who returned after the war and passed a bill in the parliament to provide them with employment for the next seven years. He brought allowances provided vocational training to the soldiers for their betterment. It was he who established Trans- Australian Airlines in 1946. The industry was small at first but later the conservative governments expanded it. Post-war he established a rehabilitation centre for the war causalities and even established the concept of separate Australian citizenship. He also founded the Security Intelligence organization in Australia to keep the country protected from other countries invasion plans during the cold war.
He even established an Australian university with university scholarship schemes. During his tenure, he even expanded the hospital benefit acts. Under this act state government will get some subsidies to provide free ward treatment to the people. In the year 1945, he helped in passing the Commonwealth state housing agreement for subsidization of the house construction with the help of the commonwealth funding (Fitzgerald 2017). In the year, 1947, he appointed Sir William Mckell as the governor-general of the country. He was the second Australian born governor after Sir Isaac Isaacs.
He even signed an agreement to take all the citizens who were displaced from their native land during the war. This agreement marked the beginning of the post-war immigration program in the country. The agreement was signed between the United Nations refugee agency on 21st July 1947. In his period Dr Herbert Vere Evatt who was external minister of affairs in Australia was elected as the president of United Nations General Assembly (Day 2016). In 1948 under his jurisdiction, the first mass-produced family car was launched in the market on 29th November. It was found out in the research that after ten years the production of Holden cars reached 5,00,000 (Babb 2016).
Curtin’s motivation lies in the statement that the pursuit of knowledge is far better than the knowledge as it helps the individuals to shape their character through trainings that involves discipline. He even used to say that a game is never lost or won until and unless the last ball goes. He even stated that if you played the game then create your team with the man who has the power to lead and for the nature of the purpose (Coatney 2016). He even stated that captioning a government is more exacting then being a caption of a football team because he had done both in his life as it requires great skills and attention towards major issues and problems faced by the people in Australia.
In comparison to John Curtin, Ben Chifley had a different vision to see things. It could be made clear from his quotes which states that instead of crying over the spilt milk, all one must do is bail up a new cow. This quote is enough to identify the thinking ability of the Prime Minister. Ben Chifley was a person with the far vision he wanted people to know that if one thing isn't working try for the other (Fitzgerald 2017). He even said that job of an evangelist is difficult. He even stated that it is better to run a government with one wise man and a dozen fools instead of running the government by a single man alone. He was a man with entirely different thinking skills but his objective was common. He wanted to work for the welfare of people. In his last speech also he talked about the light up to the hill. He was a true supporter of the labor movement and throughout his tenure, he tried to work for the betterment of the people.
The work done by John Curtin could not be forgotten as he united the entire nation with his policies and asked every Australian to put Australia first than any other thing at that time. He even urged people to help the government with funds stating Australia counts upon you. John Curtin could understand the public mood and take actions based upon them. He used to push the things for even greater effort than what he was receiving from the citizens (Coatney 2016).
No doubt Ben Chifley was a great human as he used to listen to the stories of the individuals and also promised to resolve them. He even used to address 10000 men and visit 11 units in a single day to find out the suffering of the people (Thornton et al. 2018). He even visited hospital wards to have a close eye on the things happening in the country. So that he can help people by announcing the policy in the benefit of the sufferers. After the war got over he was the one to officially announce that the war is over. Despite so many work done by him, he is not remembered by the people in Australia like other prime ministers.
At last, I want to conclude that Australia would never forget John Curtin. He would always be remembered in history as a brave prime minister who saved his nation by serving its people in the situation of the cold war between the countries. I agree Ben Chifley was served his period well but he did not come up with something that attracted people towards him. John curtain was announced as a hero of war and Ben Chifley, on the other hand, was just a successor ofCurtin. Australia gives tribute to such a leader who saved his country from conscripted troops. The leadership quality that he possesses is far better than Ben Chifley. John Curtin was the longest-serving leader after Gough Whitlam. It is due to his work and efforts he is regarded as a war leader. It is because in the time of crises he demonstrated courage, leadership and a great vision for the country. The best part of John Curtin was he even compromised his health to serve his country. The dedication portrayed by him is phenomenal. It is rarely seen in the people but he worked out of his depths and thus, is still remembered by the people in Australia.
Babb, J., 2016. Australia's once and future car industry. News Weekly, (2983), p.15.
Coatney, C., 2016. John Curtin: how he won over the media. Australian Scholarly Publishing.
Colebatch, H.G., 2018. John Curtin: A wartime leader out of his depth. Quadrant, 62(4), p.30.
Edwards, J., 2017. John Curtin's War (vol. I): The coming of war in the Pacific, and reinventing Australia (pp. 1-560). Penguin Group Australia.
Fitzgerald, R., 2017. The light on the hill and the gink's revenge. Quadrant, 61(12), p.56.
Henderson, D., Whitehouse, J. and Zajda, J., 2017. The Portrayal of John Curtin as Australia’s War Time Labor Prime Minister. In Globalisation and Historiography of National Leaders (pp. 261-273). Springer, Dordrecht.
McCann, J., 2016. Traits and trends of Australia's prime ministers, 1901 to 2015: a quick guide. Parliamentary Library.
Thornton, D., Bowman, D., Mallett, S. and Cooney-O'Donoghue, D., 2018. From social security to welfare conditionality: the shifting principles behind the trajectory of Australian welfare policy.
Day, D., 2016. Settling the Office: The Australian Prime Ministership from Federation to Reconstruction. Australian Journal of Politics & History, 62(3), pp.469-470.
Gray, G., 2020. ‘In my file, I am two different people’: Max Gluckman and AL Epstein, the Australian National University, and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, 1958–60. Cold War History, 20(1), pp.59-76.
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