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The Parliament of Western Australia commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII

The Parliament of Western Australia commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II on 21 August 1945. This page has been prepared to honour members of Parliament who served during the World War II. The information provided depicts the social, economic and political challenges of war, including on home soil.

Australian Commonwealth Military Forces logo

The Prime Minister of Australia, Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, on 3 September 1939 announced on every national and commercial radio station in Australia the beginning of Australia's involvement in World War II.

Almost a million Australians served in World War II. They fought in campaigns against Germany and Italy in Europe, in the Mediterranean and in North Africa, as well as against Japan in South-East Asia and other parts of the Pacific.

The Australian mainland came under direct attack for the first time, as Japanese aircraft bombed towns in north west Australia and Japanese midget submarines attacked Sydney Harbour.

Western Australia - the War Years

Legislation supporting the War effort



What was said in Parliament - Major Proceedings


Portrait of Premier John C Willcock

Premier John C. Willcock


5 September 1939

THE PREMIER (Hon. J. C. Willcock - Geraldton) [4.36]: I propose to make a statement to the House about the national emergency that has arisen. All members are aware that a state of war exists between Great Britain and Germany. While we all hoped, with what proved to be unwarranted optimism, that this dreadful catastrophe would in some way have been averted, we have to face the actual reality that it has now overtaken us and we must be prepared to do our part with the utmost resolution and fortitude.
The State Government has, of course, received official information that Australia is at war with Germany. During the past couple of days I have consulted with His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, the Leader of the Opposition and other members of parties in the House, and also with the Lord Mayor of Perth, to the end that we might be able to act unitedly and endeavour to take whatever steps are necessary to conserve the interests of Western Australia as an integral part of the Empire...
Read the Hansard record of the statement

Portrait of Hon H Millington

Hon. H. Millington


7 September 1939

THE DEPUTY PREMIER (Hon. H. Millington - Mt. Hawthorn): Before we conclude today's sitting, I desire, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, to make available to the House the contents of a telegram received from the Prime Minister, which will supplement the information that I gave the member for Mt Magnet (Mr. Triat) yesterday. The telegram reads:
Commonwealth Government would greatly appreciate if your Government would defer price fixation legislation and action pending matters being discussed at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in Canberra this week. You have no doubt seen the announcement that Commonwealth Government proposed taking immediate action and desired to co-operate fully with State Governments. You will appreciate it is essential that principles and procedure should be uniform.
In view of the interest taken in this question, I deemed it advisable to make that information available to members.

House adjourned at 6.15 p.m.

Portrait of Charles North

Mr Charles Frederic John North


13 September 1939

Mr. NORTH asked the Premier :
1. Does the policy governing air raid precautions emanate from Federal, State or local authorities?
2. Is any plan being worked out for the evacuation of civilians from the whole or portions of the metropolitan area?
3. What is the position regarding the stock, quality, and distribution of effective gas masks?
4. If undesirable, in the opinion of those responsible, that answers to 1, 2 and 3 be published, will the Premier make the same available to the Cottesloe Citizens and Parents' Association?

The DEPUTY PREMIER (for the Premier) replied:
1. The policy emanates from the Federal Government. The plans for A.R.P. are evolved by the State Government in co-operation with local authorities.
2. Preliminary planning for evacuation has been and is being considered by the State authorities. Actual evacuation depends upon the direction from the Commonwealth Government, guided by conditions varying from time to time.
3. General distribution is not a necessity at the present moment. Those available in the State are being used for training. Meanwhile the matter of stocks and standards is the subject of active correspondence with the Commonwealth Government.
4. Answered by 1-3. 


Portrait of Hon Alexander Panton

Hon Alexander Hugh Panton


22 August 1940

On 22 August 1940, the Western Australian government introduced the Civil Defence (Emergency Powers) Bill 1940. The Minister for Mines, Hon. A.H. Panton, stated  in moving the second reading:

This is one of the most important and might also be said to be one of the most far-reaching Bills introduced into this Parliament.

The Bill provided for a comprehensive civil defence structure to spring into action should the war come to our shores. Every sizeable town would have air-raid wardens, and fire and rescue services were to be expanded to cope with the aftermath of any air attack.

 It was a far cry from Frank Wilson’s pronouncement of August 1914:

I do not think Western Australia is likely to attract the attention of the Powers with which Great Britain is at war, nor do I think they are likely to come as far as our shores to injure us.

Portrait of Lucien Triat

Mr Lucien John Triat


31 July 1940

During his speech on the Address-in-Reply on 31 July 1940 Mr Lucien Triat (Mt Magnet), raised the possible of invasion of Australia by Japan and raised concerns of country areas, particularly in Western Australia, being able to defend themselves. He urged the Government to develop a civil defence in preparation for an invasion.


Portrait of Lt Gov Sir James Mitchell

Lieutenant-Governor Sir James Mitchell


31 July 1941

The war was on everyone's mind, and the Lieutenant-Governor's Speech for the opening of the third session of the seventeenth Parliament provided an insight into the Government's agenda. read the Hansard record of speech.

 Portrait of Sir Duncan McLarty

Sir Duncan Ross McLarty


12 August 1941

Sir Duncan Ross McLarty was concerned about the war effort, particularly fundraising. read the Hansard record about these concerns.


8 December 1941

Listen as John Curtin, Prime Minister of Australia, announces War with Japan on 8 December 1941

 Portrait of Premier John C Willcock

Premier John C. Willcock


12 December 1941

The resumed debate on the bill to postpone the general election of the Legislative Assembly on 12 December 1941 raised questions of civil defence.

Premier John Willcock confirmed that the Civil Defence Council had been established to provide direction in case of a war emergency, including evacuations:
Members of the Civil Defence here have information of all the experience, knowledge and advice gained in places that have been subjected to bombardment and warfare of all kinds. This information has been passed on to us and to the Eastern States. It is not a matter of what we think we should do, it is a matter of what we must do in the light of that experience. The Minister has told the House that we have 6,000 people who have been trained and are capable of doing the work required. 




9 April 1942

Premier John Willcock covered issues such as the up and coming Premiers' Conference and the defence of the north west of Western Australia, including evacuation of key infrastructure including ports. read the Hansard record of the Premier's Statement.


 Portrait of Premier John C Willcock

Premier John C. Willcock


23 April 1943

Premier Willcock provided an overview of the legislation passed during 1943 as reported in the Daily News, 23 April 1943

Portrait of Lt Gov Sir James Mitchell

Lieutenant-Governor Sir James Mitchell


5 August 1943

Lieutenant-Governor's Speech for the opening of the seventeenth Parliament of Western Australia on 5 August 1943 makes reference to the war and the magnificent victories of the United Nations have inspired the hope that the war may be brought to a successful conclusion earlier than was previously thought possible.


Portrait of Lt Gov Sir James Mitchell

Lieutenant-Governor Sir James Mitchell


27 July 1944

The Lieutenant-Governor's speech for the opening of the eighteenth Parliament was very optimistic for the future, particularly with regards to the war effort, Read the Hansard record of the Lieutenant-Governor's speech


19 August 1944

This referendum related to giving the Commonwealth power, for five years, to legislate on 14 specific matters, including the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, national health, family allowances and 'the people of the Aboriginal race'.

The referendum was unsuccessful, although both WA and Queensland voted 'Yes'.


 Portrait of Premier John C Willcock

Hon John C. Willcock


31 July 1945

HON. J. C. WILLCOCK (Geraldton) [4.32]: I would like to inform the House that since its last meeting I have waited upon His Excellency the Lieut.-Governor and tendered my resignation as Premier and Treasurer.
Read the Hansard record of the resignation speech

Portrait of Premier Frank Wise

Hon. Frank Joseph Scott Wise


31 July 1945

Hon. Frank Joseph Scott Wise (Gascoyne) accepted the position of Premier. Read the Hansard record of his Acceptance Speech

 Portrait of ARG Hawke

Hon A.R.G. Hawke


21 August 1945

THE ACTING PREMIER (Hon. A.R.G. Hawke - Northam) [4.32]: With your permission, Mr. 'Speaker, and with the indulgence of the House, I desire to move, on behalf of the Government, the following resolution:
That, following the recent unconditional surrender of Japan and thereby the complete victory of the Allied Force", the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia in Parliament assembled expresses its profound gratitude to Almighty God, its deep and abiding loyalty to His Majesty the King, and its, great admiration of all those men and women of the British Commonwealth of Nations and the other United Nations who fought and worked to destroy German and Japanese aggression and tyranny and that His Excellency the Lieut.-Governor be asked to transmit the foregoing resolution to His Majesty the King, read the rest of the motion in the Hansard record.

Other Resources

Key to Your House Episode 9 – Parliament at war

Student Activity sheet – Episode 9