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‘Chifley Spells Security’ Badge #2011-0096

Blue and white printed pin-back badge bearing an inscription and the image of J. B. Chifley; tin back with plastic (possibly Bakelite) front.


Joseph Benedict Chifley (1885-1951) was Australia’s 16th Prime Minister. Born in Bathurst, NSW, he began his career on the railroads as an engine driver, eventually progressing through the union movement and into the Commonwealth Parliament as a Labor MP in 1928. He lost his seat of Macquarie in the anti Labor landslide of 1931 but regained it in 1940. From October 1941 he served as Treasurer in the wartime government of John Curtin. He was seen as Curtin’s natural successor and was elected to succeed him after Curtin’s death in July 1945. Chifley was a popular prime minister, described by biographers as plain, down to earth, charismatic and very much a ‘man of the people’.

The duo of Curtin and Chifley, close friends as well as political allies, had led Australia through the majority of the Second World War and presided over a post war period of economic growth and social change. The opposition Liberal Party, formed by Robert Menzies from the ashes of the United Australia Party, were untested and there were doubts as to their electoral viability and capacity to govern. The Australian Labor Party painted a picture of the popular Chifley as a stable leader to guide the nation towards prosperity. This strategy was successful in re electing the Chifley government in 1946, though in 1949 it failed when the Liberal/Country Party coalition under Menzies swept to power.

In his final term Chifley made a controversial attempt to nationalise the Australian banking sector. The attempt, portrayed by opponents as socialism, was blocked by the High Court and the Privy Council and proved Chifley’s undoing. After Labor’s electoral defeat Chifley remained as Leader of the Opposition until his death in 1951, at the age of 66.

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This badge is significant because of its association with Prime Minister Ben Chifley and the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and their electoral history. It dates from either the 1946 or 1949 federal elections (which Chifley won and lost respectively) and is an example of Labor political campaigning material from that era. The slogan ‘Chifley Spells Security’ was used by the ALP at both federal elections in the late 1940s and illustrates the political climate at the time.

  • ‘Chifley Spells Security’ Badge‘Chifley Spells Security’ Badge —


Depth 4mm
Diameter 22mm
Medium Tin; Plastic
Creator’s name Patrick, A. W. (Maker)
Date created c.1940s