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Government of Inflation

2005.0057.0003

Government of Inflation

Object information

Physical description

Green and white, political handbill in imitation of the Australian two dollar bank note, which has a face value of three dollars. The obverse is headed "GOVERNMENT OF INFLATION". The face of Prime Minister William 'Billy' McMahon is on the proper left side, and it is titled "Billy McMahon / P.M. (prize muddler), / the Grand Billy of them all. / CHIEF ADVISER "TRICKY DICK" NIXON U.S.A.". Billy Snedden's face is on a goat in the middle, which is titled Billy Sneddon [sic] / Treasurer of Inflation". The reverse is printed with "This Bill is as phony as / the McMahon Government / Too many Billys - / get rid of them on December 2 [1972] / VOTE LABOR".

Statement of significance

The John Beagle Collection consists of three political handbills from the 1932 NSW Elections and five political banknotes from various Federal elections from 1972 -1987. The 1932 handbills produced by the UCP (forerunner to the current National Party) for the 1932 NSW election were intended to disparage Labor Party Premier Jack Lang. The banknotes from the 1972 and 1977 elections were created by the Labor opposition; the 1984 banknote was produced by the Seamen's Union of Australia and the $0.57 dollar for the 1987 election by the Liberal Party. Overall, the purpose of the notes was to mock the current government's social and economic policies, by suggesting the devaluation of currency or public trust.

The use of handbills in the form of spoof banknotes, debentures or IOUs has been a popular campaigning technique throughout the twentieth century. The 1930s handbills speak directly to political responses to the Great Depression, while the 1970s and 1980s banknotes critique the tax, trade and foreign affairs policies of the Hawke, Fraser and McMahon governments. Paper handbills offered an immediate, tangible but ultimately ephemeral method of conveying a political message. Although they were handed out in large numbers they were usually quickly discarded. These surviving handbills offer an excellent representation of this method of political campaigning in unusually fine condition.

Object information

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