This 1939 newspaper shows Australia’s politicians have behaved the same way for 80 years

I found an old Australian newspaper the other day, from 1939.

You should see the stories inside.

They touch on so many issues that concern us today that it makes you wonder: Have we been complaining and talking about the same things (and families) for more than 80 years? 

If you’d like a break from coverage of the federal election, have a look at this.

Smith’s Weekly, founded by Joynton Smith

The newspaper is Smith’s Weekly, a popular weekly paper published from 1919 to 1950.

Its hometown was Sydney but it was read around the country.

One of its founders was the journalist Robert Clyde Packer, the father of Sir Frank Packer, father of media baron Kerry Packer, and grandfather of James Packer.

Some famous people worked for it through the years.

Kenneth Slessor (the poet) edited it for a while. Henry Lawson, Dorothy Drain and Lennie Lower all wrote for it.

The edition I stumbled across is from January 14, 1939.

So, it comes from a time just before World War II officially began. 

Have a go at its front page story.

“Organised starvation of the poor by Australian governments promises to leave on the political records of this generation the darkest stain in the Commonwealth’s history,” the story begins.

The paper condemned Australia’s governments for keeping 200,000 people in severe poverty.(ABC News: Gareth Hutchens)

“Denied the right of employment, 200,000 Australians, including adults and children, are being doled out food rations, which, even the BMA admits, are insufficient for the maintenance of healthy life.” 

The story was written the same way as a modern news story.

The paper’s journalists gathered statistics on the food allowances paid in different states, for different household types.