Labor formed the national government from early October 1941 to the end of 1949. It was the party’s first extended period in power and an opportunity to shape social policy; but it was inevitably overshadowed by the demands of the war. Eight weeks after coming to power, Japan had entered the war and the nation faced a serious prospect of invasion. Under Curtin and Chifley, as Prime Minister and Treasurer respectively, Labor oversaw a massive expansion of the national government’s role in economic organization, in directing the labour force, and in centralizing and expanding income tax partly to pay for the war and partly to restrain inflation. By the war’s end in 1945, Labor had established as much as it would achieve of its promised ‘new social order’. While looking forward to that promise of what was worth fighting for, Labor’s welfare benefits also looked backwards to the decades of unfinished business of the past, such as the widow’s pension in 1942 (part of Labor’s platform since 1915) and unemployment benefits in 1944 (which explicitly looked back to the Depression).