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Australia Today – Customs Officers Fight Against Drugs (1938)


This Australia Today newsreel contains three segments (two of which have been selected): Contraband about illegal drug importation and crime syndicates; Below the surface about working in Australia’s coal mines; and Backyard betting about SP bookmaking and gambling.

Curator’s notes

Australia Today was set up in the late 1930s by independent filmmaker Rupert Kathner as an alternative news source to the established newsreels, Cinesound and Movietone, and billed itself as a ‘pictorial digest of current events’. A feature of the Australia Today newsreels is their documentary style and use of re-constructions and re-enactmentments. This allowed an investigation of topics broader than events-driven pieces, and also produced a dramatically engaging product. Unlike other newsreels, many of Kathner’s Australia Today stories engaged with the issues of crime, poverty and politics. This newsreel is a strong example of this focus.