Old Soldier, New Uniform

Two of Australia’s most caricaturable prime ministers are shown in Mahony’s 1939 cartoon. Joe Lyons always looked like a benign koala, while Billy Hughes was almost a walking caricature. The cartoon refers to the dispute with Nazi Germany over former German colonies in New Guinea and the Pacific, which had been placed under an Australian mandate at the end of the First World War. While the Lyons government worked through diplomatic channels, Billy Hughes, a rebellious member of Lyons’ cabinet, openly criticised the German government. Cracks in government unity and rebellious former prime ministers; it could never happen now, could it?