Volume IV – War Economy, 1942–1945 (1st edition, 1977)

Author: Butlin, Sydney James Christopher Lyon

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This is the second of two volumes on economic aspects of the war of 1939–45 in Australia. The volume covers the period of war in the Pacific, from late 1941 until the surrender of Japan in August 1945. Thus it describes the steps taken to mobilse the economy fully: the diversion of labour to the Services, the growth of munitions production, internal and external transport organisation, food production, the introduction of the National Economic Plan, and the many measures taken to restrict and control private activities.

At the same time the Pacific war involved a great enlargement of Australian–American economic relations and a reduction in the Anglo–Australian economic connection. The tensions involved in this change are fully described.

Early in 1943 it was realised that the degree of war mobilisation was out of proportion to the then reduced threat from Japan. Much of the second half of the volume is concerned with the difficult process of reducing the scale of the war commitment, and of making plans for post-war reconstruction both at home and abroad. While much post-war planning was unproductive, it did yield some notable decisions such as the authority to General Motors–Holden’s to build an Australian car.