Australian Biography: Jim Cairns


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1999, 26 Minutes. Exempt from classification.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s Dr Jim Cairns held a unique position in Australian public life as the intellectual leader of the political left. As a senior and influential member of the Whitlam Government, he was involved in many of its achievements and also heavily implicated in the circumstances that led to its overthrow.

In this deeply reflective account of his extraordinary life, Jim Cairns describes a career which took him from the Victorian police force, to the army, to university life, to involvement in the peace movement and finally into politics, where he was committed to a program of social and economic reform. The Vietnam War protest marches resulted in huge numbers of people turning out on the streets of Melbourne and it was during these rallies that Cairns demonstrated his great capacity for leadership and inspirational oratory.

Jim Cairns' intellectual views have been well examined elsewhere. The facts associated with his role as Deputy Prime Minister to Whitlam, his involvement in the loans affair and the Junie Morosi affair have been worked over intensely in the many recent examinations of that particular period of Australian history. However, in this interview, Cairns brings a new dimension to our understanding of his role in the nation's history by relating it to the broader motivations of his life. His revelation of the childhood secret which lay at the heart of many of his future frustrations, disappointments and vulnerabilities, is an exceptionally moving contribution to our understanding of the human condition.

A Film Australia National Interest Program. Made in association with SBS TV. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.


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Producer/Director/Interviewer: Robin Hughes

Year: 1999

Running Time: 26 Minutes

Classification: Exempt from classification

Region: 0

Curriculum Links: Politics, Studies of Society and Environment, Australian Studies, English, Personal Development and Australian History.


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SKU 199710804
Brand Film Australia

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