Australia in the 1940s


Between 1943 and 1953, the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) began to broadcast nationally and daily the children's program, Kindergarten of the Air, designed to educate young children as many kindergartens had closed during the war.

In July 1946, ABC radio began broadcasting House of Representatives and Senate sessions.

In July 1947, the ABC went to air with its first independent news service, which had no reliance on commercial interests.

Between 1944 and 1949, the popular serial The Lawsons, written by Gwen Meredith, was broadcast by the ABC. The Lawson family lived on a property called 'Wongalee' and represented ordinary Australians who battled to survive everyday life. This struck a familiar chord with thousands of Australians as their lives revolved around concerns for their family members who were away at war. Another popular radio serial was Blue Hills, also by Gwen Meredith, which began in 1949 and was the longest running daily radio serial, surviving for 27 years.

Simultaneously, the commercial radio sector was also flourishing in what would become known as radio's 'golden age'. Radio stations multiplied throughout the country. Commercial businesses paid for advertising time on high-rating radio dramas, such as the popular serials Big Sister and When a Girl Marries, which were the original 'soap operas'.

A snapshot of 1948

  • January
    • Employees working under the Federal Award System begin working a 40-hour week.

  • May
    • The Housing Commission in Melbourne holds its first ballot to allocate new homes for families of returned servicemen.

  • June
    • The federal government ends the rationing of meat and clothing.

  • August
    • The federal government's legislation to nationalise private banks is declared invalid by the High Court.

  • October
    • The first Australian Holden motor car comes off the assembly line and becomes a symbol of Australian prosperity.

  • December
    • Dr Herbert Vere Evatt (1894–1965), former minister for external affairs and attorney-general, is elected president of the General Assembly of the United Nations.


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