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Describe The Controls On Australian Civilian Life Imposed By The War Time Government

1267 words - 6 pages

The Australian war time government issued a number of controls upon Australian civilians throughout the war-time period of WWII including: manpower controls, censorship, rationing and conscription.The Australian government during World War II had greater powers over money and manpower than any Australian authority at the time. Co-ordinating the war became its main concern and in 1939 the ‘National Security Act’ passed giving the government new powers and controls such as the right to prohibit public meetings, arrest people without warrants, carry out trials in closed court rooms and also control banking, wages and prices. The government forced the Commonwealth bank to limit ...view middle of the document...

The number of people employed in factories not related to the war effort decreased sharply. Such non-essential occupations included clothing manufacturing, furniture and brick-making. The highest priority was given to the manufacturing of weapons. But, as the attention was directed away from the "non-essential" products, shortages of goods increased resulting in an extreme shortage of firewood which led to families turning to gas. This forced the government to ration gas.As resources were being concentrated on the war effort rationings were introduced by the government. Rationing is assigning people a fixed allowance of essential and non-essential goods. It was intended as a way in which Australians could contribute to the war effort through sacrifice of certain luxuries and foods. Rationing was supported by most Australians because it ensured that everyone would be able to access essential items. Most Australians were able to obtain a fair share of essential item regardless of income.Ration books and coupons were printed and were organised to be distributed. The cash to a coupon economy was established in which all shops participated in.Each Australian citizen received a ration book with 112 coupons. Purchasable items had a coupon value, for example, a man's suit for 38 coupons, whereas a pair of socks cost 4.Many everyday items were rationed in the period of WWII some being tea, sugar, butter, meat, coffee, rice, prunes, potatoes, and many fresh fruits and vegetables. Strict rationing was applied to petrol as it was already in short supply prior to the war. The Austerity Campaign was also introduced by mid 1942 which involved living as simple as possible. The message was ‘save and save Australia”.Upon the outbreak of World War II, Prime Minister Robert Menzies instituted conscription for militia operating in Australia and its territories. All unmarried men aged 21 and over were required to attend three months of compulsory military training. The Australian government did not have the intention of changing this conscription policy.For the early years of World War II, the Australian public did not like the idea of mandatory overseas military service for its citizens. In 1941, John Curtin was elected Prime Minister of the Labor government. In World War he argued aggressively against conscription and was jailed for a short period. When Curtin became Prime Minister, he assumed responsibility for Australia's war effort and defence, and the threat of Japan changed Curtin's view on conscription.Australian soldiers had been seriously injured, had caught diseases and were suffering from exhaustion. If Australia's war effort was to be taken seriously by the rest of the world, and provide adequate defense for the...

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