John Curtin

Australian politician, 14th Prime Minister of Australia (1885-1945)

John Joseph Curtin (8 January 18855 July 1945), Australian politician and 14th Prime Minister of Australia, led Australia when the Australian mainland came under direct military threat during the Japanese advance in World War II. He is widely regarded as one of the country's greatest Prime Ministers.

John Curtin

QuotesEdit

  • Since the outbreak of war, Australians have been asked to join the armed forces and to make heavy sacrifices in many other ways for the preservation of freedom and democracy. The response by the people of Australia has been magnificent. But the words ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ must be more than a slogan. They must represent real and living things in the lives of ordinary men and women.
  • There must be no hesitation to assume control of the means of production where that is essential in the public interest. In the economic life of the nation, no private interest can be allowed to stand against the welfare of the majority. Irrational privileges which disfigure our present order should be abolished. Economic freedom must be made real by giving security and a rising standard of living to all who, by their labour, make civilised life possible. We must substitute co-operation for competition and public service for private profit.
  • Let us hope that the war in which Australia, in common with the rest of the Empire, is engaged will elevate the conscience of our nation to new and nobler purposes.
  • The Labor Party has no objection whatever to the Germans practicing nazi-ism in Germany; that is their concern. We do not engage in any philisophic discussions with them about that system so long as they make no endeavour to foist it by force upon people outside their country. We stand for self-government. In the same way, we offer no opinions regarding the justification or non-justification of bolshevism in Russia; that is the concern of the Russian people. Their form of government is their own affair, just as our form of government is our affair. The Labor Party believes in the right of peoples to govern themselves, and to enjoy a way of life which they themselves decide upon. We concede that right to Russia. We concede that right to Germany, and it is because we are claiming it for ourselves, and Germany denies it to us, that we are at war with Germany.
    • Speech to the Commonwealth House of Representatives (Hansard, page 286) (24 June 1941)
  • The Australian Government, therefore, regards the Pacific struggle as primarily one in which the United States and Australia must have the fullest say in the direction of the democracies' fighting plan. Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.
  • Be assured of the calibre of our national character. This war may see the end of much that we have painfully and slowly built in our 150 years of existence. But even though all of it go, there will still be Australians fighting on Australian soil until the turning point be reached, and we will advance over blackened ruins, through blasted and fire-swepted cities, across scorched plains, until we drive the enemy into the sea. I give you the pledge of my country. There will always be an Australian Government and there will always be an Australian people. We are too strong in our hearts; our spirit is too high; the justice of our cause throbs too deeply in our being for that high purpose to be overcome.

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