The task

Complete an individual research essay exploring one prime minister. Explore how the prime minister represented Australia on the world stage. Use at least one primary document such as a speech or letter to support your essay. You can choose up to five images to support your essay. Images must be captioned with the title, year and source (if available).

Information about word length, presentation, referencing and registration is available from the National History Challenge website.


  1. Research how former Prime Minister Billy Hughes led the nation during the First World War. Start by visiting the Billy Hughes at War website. Using the primary documents on the site, find out about Hughes’ role in 1918 peace treaty negotiations.


  1. Research one of the following former prime ministers using primary documents provided on the resource page:
    • Stanley Bruce and immigration 1920s
    • Robert Menzies and trade with Japan 1950s
    • Bob Hawke and the environment 1983
    • Paul Keating and APEC 1992


  1. Choose any historic moment when an Australian prime minister met the world. Focus on one key event or issue and include evidence from a primary document.

All entries should consider:


  • What issue/event will your essay focus on?
  • Who was involved?
  • Where and when did it happen?


  • What was the significance of the prime minister’s meeting with the world?
  • What does it tell us about the job of being prime minister?
  • What does it tell us about the personality of this prime minister?
  • How did the event/issue impact on Australia?
  • How did it impact on the world?


  • What happened before the event/issue?
  • How did people in Australia and the world react at the time?
  • What were the outcomes or implications for Australia and the world?
  • Are there links to contemporary issues?

Primary documents

  • Use at least one primary document in your research. You may use the documents provided or choose your own.
  • Clearly describe the document.
  • What is it?
  • Where is it from?
  • How is it relevant to the issue/prime minister?
  • Does the document tell the whole story or is it biased?
  • Use the document along with secondary sources to give evidence supporting your essay.

The Museum of Australian Democracy’s Australian Prime Ministers Centre sponsored this category in the 2008 National History Challenge. Find out more about the latest National History Challenge.

The National History Challenge is a research-based competition for students. More information is available on the National History Challenge site.