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The first Australian Government War Cabinet meeting was held in the first floor Conference Room in a large blue stone building at Victoria Barracks in Melbourne on 27 September 1939. War had been declared against Germany on 3 September 1939. All major decisions regarding Australia's wartime operations between 1939 and 1945 were made in this room by the War Cabinet.

This first War Cabinet meeting was attended by:-

Prime Minister and Treasurer, Mr. Robert G. Menzies
Attorney General
Minister for Defence
Minister for Supply and Development
Minister for External Affairs and Information
Minister for Commerce
Cabinet Secretary

The Conference Room was enlarged and more formerly established as the War Cabinet Room over the next few weeks after this initial meeting. The Declaration of War with Japan was signed by the Governor General and the new Labour Prime Minister, John Curtin, in the War Cabinet Room at Victoria Barracks on 8 December 1941.


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Plaque outside the blue stone building
housing the War Cabinet Room


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Blue stone building housing
the War Cabinet Room


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Victoria Barracks


The various Chiefs of Staff of the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force would also attend the War Cabinet Meeting on request and later when General Douglas MacArthur had established his headquarters for the US Army Forces in the Far East in the Trustees Executive & Agency Co. Ltd. building at 401 - 403 Collins Street, Melbourne in March 1942, he would also attend by request.

There is a story there was a boat moored near Swanston Street  on the Yarra River during WW2 and in the event of an air raid, the occupants of the War Cabinet Room at Victoria Barracks would be whisked up the Yarra to a large underground bunker near Dights Falls at Abbotsford on the Yarra River.

The War Cabinet continued to meet in this conference room at Victoria Barracks until January 1946.


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This page first produced 1 September 2002

This page last updated 25 January 2020