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Political history

The following clips have teachers’ notes related to this topic:

Laying the railway line

from the documentary Across the Trans-continental Railway: From Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta (G)

Railway workers unload materials from a railway truck for the construction of a segment of the trans-continental railway line. Two men in a horsedrawn buggy ride past the camera. Another view shows men laying timber …

MV Tampa and September 11

from the documentary Anthem: An Act of Sedition (PG)

News footage of the Norwegian freighter MV Tampa carrying over 400 rescued asylum seekers off the coast of Australia is accompanied in a split-screen by barrister Julian Burnside QC who outlines the international laws protecting …

The trauma of Bali

from the documentary Anthem: An Act of Sedition (PG)

A split-screen shows images of the Bali bombings memorial service in Canberra in October 2002 and Brian Deegan, who lost his son Josh in the bombings. As the images of the memorial service unfold on …

The strike spreads

from the newsreel Australasian Gazette – The Strike Spreads (G)

‘Produce Merchants’ unload perishables from a ship on the docks, possibly part of the New South Wales General Strike of 1917.

Sunday in Melbourne

from the television program Australian Visit (G)

Air Vice-Marshall Ky and his wife, on their visit to Melbourne, meet Vietnamese students at Victoria’s Government House, before attending a final press conference.

Menzies in Cairo

from the home movie Australia to England via Tobruk and Benghazi: Menzies Wartime Tour (PG)

This clip from a Menzies home movie features the Prime Minister inspecting Australian troops stationed in Cairo in 1941. We then see him inspecting Bardia, Tobruk and Benghazi from the air before arriving at an …

The First World War begins

from the documentary The Battleships (PG)

The clip describes Germany’s military build up prior to WW1, including the widening of the Kiel canal, commenced in 1907, to enable its new fleet of dreadnoughts to be able to enter the North …

Pearl Harbor

from the documentary The Battleships (PG)

Without a declaration of war, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor in Hawaii with 350 aircraft. The unexpected attack destroys 21 US vessels including eight battleships. The USA declares war on Japan.

Concentration camp war trials

from the documentary Belsen For Example (PG)

SS Guards from the Belsen concentration camp are put on trial before a British military court, with sentences ultimately ranging from hanging to release. The narrator wonders why the British Army did not pursue more …

The hungry mile

from the television program A Big Country – On the Hook (PG)

Waterside workers are seen on the wharf while the voice-over describes their comfortable work conditions and job security, A montage of historical footage shows a queue of workers in the 1930s, and waterside workers using …

‘They look after you down here’

from the television program A Big Country – On the Hook (PG)

We see waterside workers using machinery. The voice-over describes how mechanisation has greatly reduced the hard labour required for the job and the number of employees needed. Current 'wharfies’ confess to little knowledge of 'the …

Planning for the future

from the sponsored film The Bones of Building (G)

Marg and Bill Smith (Dick Hackett) marry in the mid-1940s. As cheerful instrumental music plays, a montage shows Bill Smith working hard on a small construction site building cottages during the postwar boom. During a …

‘This scaffolding’s safe’

from the sponsored film The Bones of Building (G)

Bill Smith (Dick Hackett) now works on a commercial high-rise construction site. In this dramatised scene, Smith’s foreman (Jock Levy) persuades him that the scaffolding used on the site is safe and that the …

‘Shoot straight’

from the documentary The Breaker (PG)

Voice-over accompanied by still photos details the judicial process leading to the execution of 'Breaker’ Morant and Peter Hancock – Australian soldiers attached to the British Army in the Boer War 1899-1902.

A re-enactment of the …

China’s Cultural Revolution

from the documentary A Breath (PG)

The Cultural Revolution started in 1966 and lasted ten years. Artists Huang Miaozi and his wife Yu Feng were arrested along with other artists and writers. Many were imprisoned without trial. Communist leader Mao Tse …

Democracy in action

from the documentary Canberra Files, The (PG)

Standing in the House of Representatives Chamber in Old Parliament House, actor Michael Caton provides the context for early newsreels in Australia. This is followed by a Paramount Gazette newsreel from 1929 that shows ex-Prime …

Fraser has the numbers

from the television program The Dismissal (PG)

Malcolm Fraser (John Stanton) is being interviewed by journalist Stuart Littlemore (playing himself). The Liberal leader will not be drawn on his party’s plans for the Supply Bill in the Senate. His desire to …

Is this a time for the reserve powers?

from the television program The Dismissal (PG)

Sir John Kerr (John Meillon) has invited the Prime Minister (Max Phipps) to a celebratory drink with the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak (Peter Collingwood). Razak boldly brings up the issue of the …

Into the history books

from the television program The Dismissal (PG)

In the panic and confusion of the Labor government’s sacking and the packing up and the frenzied shredding of documents, Gough Whitlam stands alone, a tragic figure, before all his friends and colleagues. He …

We Are Going

from the documentary Dreamtime, Machinetime (PG)

Aerial views of Minjerriba (Stradbroke Island), and Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) walking along the beach with children. Oodgeroo tells us the inspiration for her poetry, and its role in personal and political resistance to white …

‘Long live human rights’

from the documentary Fond Memories of Cuba (PG)

Dissident writer Mario is interviewed in the street where pro and anti Fidel protestors gather and argue. Mario is facing an eighteen-month prison sentence for criticising the government. Some of the gathered crowd shout 'Long …

A meeting of minds

from the television program Four Corners – American Dreamers (G)

News footage shows John Howard and George Bush at a press conference together at the White House prior to the invasion of Iraq. Despite the phalanx of media, they appear relaxed and seem the best …

Unity is strength

from the documentary Friends and Enemies (G)

Premier Bjelke-Petersen says the union protest will be a 'fizzer’ and adds in his own inimitable style, 'don’t be bulldozed into anything that you don’t want to be bulldozed into’. Unionists protest outside …

The Liberal with a Labor face

from the television program The Gunston Tapes (G)

John Gorton had been dropped as prime minister by his own casting vote in 1971. Norman Gunston’s opening question for this interview is whether Gorton was considered by his own party to have been …

The issue of conscription

from the television program Interview with Archbishop Mannix (PG)

In this excerpt from an interview with Dr Daniel Mannix, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Mannix describes the circumstances in which he advocated against conscription during the First World War.

‘They’ve sacked the boss’

from the documentary The Life and Times of Margaret Whitlam (PG)

Wife of former Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, Margaret Whitlam, recalls the day that the Governor-General John Kerr sacked her husband on 11 November 1975. At the end of this clip Gough Whitlam is seen on …

Boys – lay down your lives for the empire

from the television program More Winners – Boy Soldiers (G)

It’s 1914 and Australia is preparing for a war in Europe. In voice-over, Scratch (Lachlan Jeffrey) recites the reasons why Australia’s young men should fight for the King.

When Sydney rabbito Ned Crocker …

‘I don’t mean you’

from the documentary My Mother India (PG)

In 1984 the Uberoi family has to leave India to escape the anti-Sikh riots. The filmmaker’s sister Zoe describes her distress when a school friend criticises the Sikhs but says she means nothing against …

Telegraphists spread the news

from the historical Naming the Federal Capital of Australia (PG)

The intertitles at the beginning of this clip explain it all: ‘Telegraphists at work sending the news to Sydney. 200 words a minute. A record’.

Propaganda or news?

from the feature film Newsfront (PG)

Film editor Geoff (Bryan Brown) makes a political joke, and a statement, by tampering with a newsreel to make fun of the newly-elected Prime Minister, Mr Menzies. His conservative boss, AG Marwood (Don Crosby), is …

Goodbye Somoza

from the documentary Nicaragua: No Pasaran (PG)

Set to a jaunty song about having fun in Nicaragua, Bradbury uses stills and black and white archival footage to describe Somoza’s rise to power, backed by the US who provided military training and …

Nicaragua under attack

from the documentary Nicaragua: No Pasaran (PG)

Nicaragua is attacked at its borders by the Contras. They are backed by the USA, which claims that Nicaragua is supplying arms to leftist guerrillas in El Salvador. Tomás Borge, the Nicaraguan Minister for the …

Lucky shot

from the documentary No Survivors: The Mysterious Loss of the HMAS Sydney (PG)

The HMAS Sydney was drawn into battle with the German raider HSK Kormoran off the Western Australian coast on 19 November 1941. Early in the engagement the Sydney was fatally hit and both vessels sank …

‘A fair go for the working people’

from the documentary November Victory (G)

This is a partly dramatised, newsreel-style sequence depicting the WWF’s appeal to the broader labour movement for help in fighting amendments to the 1954 Stevedoring Act. Waterside workers’ wives prepare food …

November victory

from the documentary November Victory (G)

On 8 November 1954, Federal Parliament authorised a Bill to secure the right of employers to recruit labour for the waterfront, overturning the tradition of waterside labour being picked by the union. This clip dramatises …

Nellie Melba

from the newsreel Official Opening of Canberra by His Royal Highness the Duke of York (PG)

Dame Nellie Melba sings the national anthem, God Save the King, on the steps of Parliament House (now Old Parliament House), in Canberra at the official opening in 1927. The camera pans across the official …

Official opening of Old Parliament House

from the newsreel Official Opening of Canberra by His Royal Highness the Duke of York (PG)

This shows the Duke of York officially opening Parliament House in 1927, which is now Old Parliament House, in Canberra. A statue of King George V is then unveiled in the foyer and the senators …

‘Work or die’

from the documentary Paying For the Past (PG)

Slave labourers were used by German industry during the Second World War. Siemens, BMW and Krupp are named. Survivors Kitia Altman and Abraham Biderman recall the horrors of being slave labourers.

‘We want an apology’

from the documentary Paying For the Past (PG)

The organisation The Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany seeks to compensate the victims of slave and forced labour by German industry during the Second World War. Karen Heilig works for victims and …

‘Victims’ justice is going to prevail’

from the documentary Paying For the Past (PG)

President Rau of Germany publicly apologises to the forced and slave labourers used by German industry during the Second World War. German lawyer Dr Michael Vitti says that getting closure is difficult for the Holocaust …

‘The price of profit’

from the documentary Pensions for Veterans (G)

This clip argues the dangers of working on the waterfront by highlighting excerpts from the Report on the Medical Examination of Waterside Workers (1945) about high blood pressure, lung disease and hernia. X-rays of workers …

The Great Leader

from the documentary Pyongyang Diaries (G)

At a celebration at Kim Il Sung Square for the founding day of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the DPRK or North Korea), a woman speaks to camera about her happiness and her …

‘Our way to socialism’

from the documentary Pyongyang Diaries (G)

Filmmaker Solrun Hoaas ventures onto the streets of North Korea to do some impromptu filming and sees some children gathered on a street corner before the start of school. In what becomes a common instance …

Revolution by referendum

from the advertisement Revolution by Referendum: Political advertisement by Mr Costello (G)

In a series of takes and retakes, an unidentified man stands in front of a curtain and addresses the camera. He outlines his association’s vision for the wealth of the nation through the ‘abolition …

‘Not a slaughter’

from the documentary Shadow Play (PG)

After gaining power by a coup in 1965, President Suharto authorised the murder of up to a million of his countrymen using the excuse that they were communist sympathisers. Journalists, Frank Palmos, Don North and …

‘Stop filming’

from the documentary South of the Border (PG)

Filmmaker David Bradbury is filming Salvadoran protest song being sung by young people at a train station. A policeman tells him to stop as he does not have permission to film. The crew continues to …

‘Punch a postie’

from the documentary Super 8 Soldiers (PG)

Vietnam veterans Rowan Marsh and Peter Stainthorpe recollect the anti-Vietnam demonstrations with ambivalence. They explain that when unions put a go-slow on mail delivery to soldiers in Vietnam as part of the protest, that was …

‘I just didn’t seem to fit in’

from the documentary Super 8 Soldiers (PG)

Vietnam veterans Peter Stainthorpe and Rowan Marsh recall returning to Melbourne after two years of active service in Vietnam. They felt that nothing had changed at home and yet they had changed. They sought out …

The war is the news

from the television program Vietnam (M)

The slowly disintegrating Goddard family are watching the news. They are painfully aware that their son, Phil (Nicholas Eadie) is in Vietnam as a conscript. The evening news shows the terrible and soon to become …

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