Modernising Menzies, Whitlam, and Australian Elections

Robert Crawford, Monash University


Scholarly accounts of Robert Menzies’ electoral success in 1949 and Gough Whitlam’s victory in 1972 invariably refer to the respective victors’ electoral campaigns. However, the analysis of the campaigns’ innovative advertising appeals and techniques in these studies is somewhat simplistic. By comparing and contrasting the organisation and execution of the successful campaigns of 1949 and 1972, I demonstrate how these campaigns helped usher Australian politics into the modern era. More broadly, I highlight how commercial imperatives introduced during these campaigns continue to affect the conduct of electioneering in Australia.

Dr Robert Crawford is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash University. His articles on advertising and national identity have appeared in Journal of Australian Studies, War & Society, and Labour History. He is currently completing a history of Australia’s advertising industry during the 20th century. He can be contacted at <>.

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