Traits and trends of Australia’s prime ministers, 1901 to 2015: a quick guide

Updated 3 February 2016

PDF version [512KB]

Dr Joy McCann
Politics and Public Administration Section

 

Introduction

  • This Quick Guide presents information about the backgrounds and service of Australia’s 29 prime ministers, from Edmund Barton to Malcolm Turnbull. It includes information about of their backgrounds (age, place of birth, gender and occupational background), period in office, experience in other parliaments, parties, electorates and military service.
  • The majority of Australia’s prime ministers have been Australian-born, middle-aged, tertiary-educated men with experience in law or politics, representing electorates in either Victoria or New South Wales. Only one woman has served as Prime Minister since Federation.
  • Australia’s prime ministers have ranged in age at the time of first taking office from 37 years to 67 years. The average age is 52 years, which reflects the age profile of Australian parliamentarians more generally (51 years).
  • Three-quarters of Australia’s 29 prime ministers (22) were born in Australia. Of those born overseas, all but one came from the United Kingdom (England, Scotland or Wales). The only non-British overseas-born Prime Minister was Chris Watson, who was born in Chile and raised in New Zealand. Of those born in Australia, the majority were born in either Victoria (nine) or New South Wales (eight).
  • Thirteen prime ministers have represented electorates in New South Wales, 11 in Victoria, four in Queensland and one each in Western Australia and Tasmania. There have been no prime ministers representing electorates in South Australia, the Northern Territory, or the Australian Capital Territory.
  • The length of service as prime minister ranges from over 18 years (Robert Menzies) to eight days (Francis Forde). Most have left office after defeat at an election, in the Parliament or in the party room.

Party abbreviations

ALP Australian Labor Party
CP Australian Country Party
FT Free Trade
LP Liberal Party of Australia
NAT Nationalist Party
NAT LAB National Labour
PROT Protectionist Party

Traits and trends

Table 1 summarises some of the more notable aspects of Australia’s 29 prime ministers since Federation. More detailed information about each trait is provided under separate headings below.

Table 1: Traits and trends of Australia’s prime ministers, 1901 to 2015

Trait Trend
Period in office
  • Robert Menzies was Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister both continuously (16 years 1 month 8 days) and in total (18 years 5 months 12 days). Francis Forde was the shortest-serving (eight days).
    Most prime ministers have left office after being defeated at election, in the Parliament or in the party room.
Age
  • Average age 52 years (at appointment): the youngest Prime Minister was 37 years (Chris Watson) and the oldest Prime Minister was 67 years (John McEwen)
Country of birth
  • 76 per cent Australian-born
    one Prime Minister was born in a non-English speaking country (Chris Watson was born in Chile and raised in New Zealand)
Gender
  • 28 men and one woman
Education
  • 68 per cent tertiary-educated
Occupational qualifications/experience
  • 36 per cent with legal qualifications
    32 per cent with trade union experience
Parliamentary experience
  • 39 per cent with prior experience in colonial, state or territory parliaments
Electoral representation
  • 79 per cent represented NSW (12) and Victoria (11), including Billy Hughes who represented both states during his terms in office; 21 per cent represented Queensland (4), Tasmania (1) and Western Australia (1)
Military service
  • 25 per cent enlisted for military service (including four who saw active war service)

Source: Compiled by Parliamentary Library from Parliamentary Handbook

Diversity

Age

Australia’s prime ministers have ranged in age at the time of first taking office from the youngest—Chris Watson, 37 years, to the oldest—John McEwen, 67 years (see Appendix 1). The average age is 52 years, reflecting the age profile of Australian parliamentarians more generally (51 years).

Place of birth

Three-quarters (22) of Australia’s 29 prime ministers were born in Australia (see Appendix 8). Of the seven prime ministers born elsewhere, all but one came from the United Kingdom (England, Scotland or Wales). The only non-British overseas-born Prime Minister was Chris Watson, who was born in Chile and raised in New Zealand. Of those born in Australia, the majority were born in either Victoria (nine) or New South Wales (eight). Only one Prime Minister has come from a non-English speaking background (Chris Watson), and no Prime Minister has identified as an Indigenous Australian. This reflects the generally low level of ethnic diversity in the Commonwealth Parliament as a whole. (Around 13 per cent of parliamentarians were migrants or children of migrants from a non-English speaking background, and only four of the current serving 226 senators and members are Indigenous Australians.)

Figure 1: Places of birth of Australia’s prime ministers, by country and Australian state

Figure 1: Places of birth of Australia’s prime ministers	, by country and Australian state

Source: Compiled by Parliamentary Library from Parliamentary Handbook

Gender

Of Australia’s 29 prime ministers since Federation, only one has been a woman, reflecting the under-representation of women in federal ministerial positions more generally. According to political scientist Jennifer Curtin, there has ‘always been a public fascination with women political leaders, primarily because there have been so few of them; they are indeed exceptional’.

Education and occupational background

The educational qualifications of Australia’s 29 prime ministers have varied widely, from primary school level to postgraduate qualifications. Three of Australia’s 29 prime ministers have held Rhodes scholarships (Bob Hawke, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull).

In terms of their employment experience before becoming prime minister:

  • 12 worked in the legal profession as a judge, barrister or solicitor
  • nine were employed in business or the corporate sector
  • eight were employed in trade or clerical positions
  • five worked as a trade union organiser, official or advocate
  • five worked as journalists
  • three worked as teachers
  • three had experience in the public service
  • two worked as political staff members
  • two worked as miners
  • one worked in the medical profession
  • one was a diplomat and
  • one was a rouseabout.

As former press gallery journalist Michelle Grattan observed in her edited book Australian prime ministers, wealth and education have never been prerequisites for the nation’s highest political office. Indeed, several of the early-twentieth century prime ministers began as unskilled labourers or turned to shopkeeping or small business, and many experienced difficult personal and family circumstances as a result of illness, accident or financial loss. ‘It could be said that many of them were forced to become adults before their time, assuming responsibilities and making decisions. Many, too, were early self-improvers’.

Period in office

Australia has had 29 prime ministers since Federation serving 35 separate terms of office (see Appendix 1). Their periods of service range from 18.5 years (the Right Hon. Robert Menzies who held office twice, from 1939–41 and 1949–66) to eight days (the Right Hon. Francis Forde who served as caretaker Prime Minister for just eight days following the death of the Right Hon. John Curtin in 1945).

Figure 2: Period in office

Figure 2: Period in office

Source: Compiled by Parliamentary Library from Parliamentary Handbook

Note: Excludes current serving Prime Minister, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP (15 September 2015 ̶ )

Reasons for leaving office

  • The majority of Australia’s prime ministers (22) have lost office as the result of defeat at a general election, on the floor of the House or the party room ballot following a leadership spill.
  • As at 31 October 2015 there has been a total of 23 changes of Prime Minister without an election, including:
    • seven prime ministers defeated in the party-room (Billy Hughes, Robert Menzies, John Gorton, Bob Hawke, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott)
    • five were defeated in Parliament (Alfred Deakin—who was defeated twice, Chris Watson, George Reid, Andrew Fisher and Arthur Fadden)
    • four left office voluntarily (Edmund Barton, to take up an appointment at the High Court, Andrew Fisher in his second term to become Australia’s High Commissioner in London, Billy Hughes who resigned but remained in the House of Representatives as a private member and minister, and Robert Menzies to retire after his second-term)
    • three died whilst in office (Joseph Lyons, John Curtin and Harold Holt)
    • three deputy prime ministers served in a caretaker capacity following the death of the Prime Minister (Earle Page replaced Lyons in 1939, Frank Forde replaced Curtin in 1945 and John McEwen replaced Holt in 1968)—in each case they continued in the caretaker role until a party room ballot could be conducted, but none of the three was subsequently elected as leader and
    • one left office as a result of vice-regal intervention (Gough Whitlam).
  • Five prime ministers resigned from Parliament after losing office (Malcolm Fraser, Robert Hawke, Paul Keating, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd).
  • Two sitting prime ministers lost their seats at an election (Stanley Bruce and John Howard).

Experience in other parliaments

Eleven of Australia’s prime ministers had experience in an Australian state parliament prior to being elected to the Commonwealth Parliament, including five in the NSW Parliament, three in the Queensland Parliament, two in the Victorian Parliament and one in the Tasmanian Parliament (see Appendix 6).

Stanley Bruce is the only Australian Prime Minister to have become a British Peer in the UK House of Lords (as Viscount Bruce of Melbourne) following his prime ministership. The Right Hon. George Reid served in the UK House of Commons following his prime ministership, making him the only Australian to sit as a representative in three different parliaments (colonial, Commonwealth and UK parliaments).

Electoral representation

The majority of Australia’s prime ministers have represented electorates in NSW (13) or Victoria (11), including the Right Hon. Billy Hughes who represented both states during his record 51 years in the Commonwealth Parliament (see Appendix 1).

Figure 3: Electoral representation of Australia’s prime ministers

Figure 3: Electoral representation of Australia’s prime ministers

Source: Compiled by Parliamentary Library from Parliamentary Handbook

PMs from the Senate

Australia’s prime ministers have traditionally been selected from the House of Representatives—the house where government is formed. However, as Australian Parliamentary Fellow Scott Brenton noted in What lies beneath: the work of senators and members in the Australian Parliament:

It is only by convention that the leader of the majority party (or parties) in the lower house becomes Prime Minister. This Westminster convention is largely based on the democratic legitimacy of Britain’s elected lower house, even though British prime ministers have sat in the unelected upper house. However, both Australian houses are popularly elected.

The reverse is true in the United States Congress where, as Stanley Bach noted in Platypus and parliament: the Australian Senate in theory and practice, the tradition is for Members of the House of Representatives to move to the Senate as ‘the more common breeding ground for Presidential aspirants ... A US Senator has not voluntarily relinquished his seat to run for a seat in the House since well before the American Civil War’.

There have been a few occasions where ministers in the Senate have acted as Prime Minister for short periods. Only once since Federation has a sitting senator been commissioned to form a government. In early 1968, following the presumed death of Prime Minister Harold Holt, the Liberal Party chose Senator John Gorton as its new leader. Gorton resigned his place as a Senator on 1 February 1968 in order to seek election to the House of Representatives. Between 1 February and 24 February Gorton was not a member of either House but, as permitted by the Constitution, he was able to remain Prime Minister during this period. He was subsequently elected as the Member for Higgins, the seat left vacant by Mr Holt’s death.

Military service

One-quarter of Australia’s prime ministers enlisted for military service at some point in their lives (see Appendix 7). This includes four who saw active service (Stanley Bruce, John Gorton, Earle Page and Gough Whitlam). Two (Bruce and Gorton) were wounded during active service.

Religion

While attitudes to religious belief have changed markedly since the 1960s when religious sectarianism underscored social, economic and political differences in Australian society, the role of belief (or non-belief) are still considered to be an important factor for voters who seek to understand a prime minister’s character and actions.

Oaths and affirmations

One indicator of religious belief may be found in the oath or affirmation sworn by prime ministers (together with ministers and parliamentary secretaries) when becoming members of parliament and again before being sworn in as a Minister of State. The Prime Minister determines the form of the oath and affirmation of office, which can be changed according to their preference. The Official Oath sworn by the ministry in 1901 was ‘I [name] do swear that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Victoria in the Office of [name] So Help Me God’. From the second Deakin ministry in 1905, ministers took the Oath of Allegiance, the Official Oath and the Executive Councillor’s Oath. Julia Gillard became the first Australian Prime Minister to make an affirmation of office rather than swearing on the Bible when she was sworn in on 24 June 2010.

Believers and non-believers

Whilst religious beliefs are difficult to quantify, political scientist John Warhurst attempted to categorise Australia’s 27 prime ministers from Edmund Barton to Julia Gillard according to their religious belief, religious practice and religious affiliations. He estimated that about half took their religion seriously, noting that ‘[f]or some it has been a driving force and a central part of their public personality. But for many others it has been a trivial characteristic.’ Based on their actions and associations, Warhurst estimated that there have been:

  • five Catholic prime ministers
  • about nine Anglican prime ministers
  • three Presbyterian prime ministers (although several others had ‘Presbyterian antecedents’)
  • one Methodist Prime Minister (although others were ‘brought up Methodists’), and
  • a high number of agnostic and secular prime ministers when compared with British prime ministers and American presidents.

In another study, Roy Williams considered that 16 of the 23 prime ministers he examined believed in God, although most of the others had some associations with Christianity. The author concluded that only two were ‘lifelong agnostics’ (Edmund Barton and Harold Holt).

Official residences of Australia’s prime ministers

There are two official residences for Australian prime ministers. These residences, whilst they are often used by the Prime Minister for official functions, do not form part of a group of ministerial houses, nor are they used to accommodate the Prime Minister’s Office or the Cabinet (unlike 10 Downing Street, London, which is both an official residence and office of the British Prime Minister’s Office). The two residences are:

  • The Lodge in Canberra which was built in 1926 ̶ 7 to coincide with the opening of the first Canberra-based federal Parliament House (now known as Old Parliament House) and
  • Kirribilli House in Sydney, built in 1855 and acquired by the Commonwealth Government in 1920 as the prime minister’s alternative residence when not in Canberra for parliamentary or government business.

Both buildings are managed by the Official Establishments Trust, an independent, non-statutory body that advises the Prime Minister and Special Minister of State on the conservation and development of the properties.

Appendix 1: Australia’s prime ministers, 1901–2015: party, age and period in office

No. Name Party Electorate Age at appointments
Dates in office
Period in office
       
years
months
 
years
months
days
1st Barton, the Rt Hon. Sir Edmund, GCMG, KC PROT Hunter, NSW
51
11
1.1.1901–24.9.1903
2
8
24
2nd Deakin, the Hon. Alfred PROT Ballaarat, Vic.
47
1
24.9.1903–27.4.1904
-
7
4
    PROT*  
 
 
5.7.1905–13.11.1908
3
4
9
    PROT  
 
 
2.6.1909–29.4.1910
-
10
28
3rd Watson, the Hon. John Christian (Chris) ALP Bland, NSW; South Sydney, NSW
37
0
27.4.1904–17.8.1904
-
3
21
4th Reid, the Rt Hon. George Houstoun, KC
(later Sir George, GCB, GCMG)
FT* East Sydney, NSW
59
5
18.8.1904–5.7.1905
-
10
18
5th Fisher, the Rt Hon. Andrew ALP Wide Bay, Qld
46
2
13.11.1908–2.6.1909
-
6
21
    ALP  
 
 
29.4.1910–24.6.1913
3
1
26
    ALP  
 
 
17.9.1914–27.10.1915
1
1
11
6th Cook, the Rt Hon. Joseph (later Sir Joseph, GCMG) LP Parramatta, NSW
52
6
24.6.1913–17.9.1914
1
2
25
7th Hughes, the Rt Hon. William Morris, CH, KC ALP
NAT LAB
NAT
West Sydney, NSW; Bendigo, Vic., North Sydney, NSW; Bradfield, NSW
53
1
27.10.1915–14.11.1916
14.11.1916–17.2.1917
17.2.1917–9.2.1923
7
3
14
8th Bruce, the Rt Hon. Stanley Melbourne, CH, MC
(later 1st Viscount Bruce of Melbourne)
NAT* Flinders, Vic.
39
9
9.2.1923–22.10.1929
6
8
14
9th Scullin, the Rt Hon. James Henry ALP Corangamite, Vic.; Yarra, Vic.
53
1
22.10.1929–6.1.1932
2
2
16
10th Lyons, the Rt Hon. Joseph Aloysius, CH UAP
UAP*
Wilmot, Tas.
52
3
6.1.1932–9.11.1934
9.11.1934–7.4.1939
7
3
2
11th Page, the Rt Hon. Sir Earle Christmas Grafton, GCMG, CH CP* Cowper, NSW
58
8
7.4.1939–26.4.1939
-
-
20
12th Menzies, the Rt Hon. Robert Gordon, KC (later Sir Robert,
KT, CH, QC)
UAP
UAP*
LP*
Kooyong, Vic.
44

54
4

11
26.4.1939–14.3.1940
14.3.1940–29.8.1941
19.12.1949–26.1.1966
2

16
4

1
4

8
13th Fadden, the Rt Hon. Arthur William (later Sir Arthur, GCMG)[1] CP* Darling Downs, Qld; McPherson, Qld
46
4
29.8.1941–7.10.1941
-
1
9
14th Curtin, the Rt Hon. John Joseph Ambrose ALP Fremantle, WA
56
9
7.10.1941–5.7.1945
3
8
29
15th Forde, the Rt Hon. Francis Michael ALP Capricornia, Qld
54
11
6.7.1945–13.7.1945
-
-
8
16th Chifley, the Rt Hon. Joseph Benedict ALP Macquarie, NSW
59
9
13.7.1945–19.12.1949
4
5
7
17th Holt, the Rt Hon. Harold Edward, CH LP* Fawkner, Vic.; Higgins, Vic.
57
5
26.1.1966–19.12.1967
1
10
23
18th McEwen, the Rt Hon. John (later Sir John, GCMG, CH) CP* Echuca, Vic.; Indi, Vic.; Murray, Vic.
67
8
19.12.1967–10.1.1968
-
-
23
19th Gorton, the Rt Hon. John Grey, CH (later Sir John, GCMG, AC) LP* Higgins, Vic.
56
4
10.1.1968–10.3.1971
3
2
-
20th McMahon, the Rt Hon. William, CH (later Sir William, GCMG) LP* Lowe, NSW
63
0
10.3.1971–5.12.1972
1
8
25
21st Whitlam, the Hon. Edward Gough, AC, QC ALP Werriwa, NSW
56
4
5.12.1972–11.11.1975
2
11
7
22nd Fraser, the Rt Hon. John Malcolm, AC, CH LP* Wannon, Vic.
45
5
11.11.1975–11.3.1983
7
4
-
23rd Hawke, the Hon. Robert James Lee, AC ALP Wills, Vic.
53
3
11.3.1983–20.12.1991
8
9
9
24th Keating, the Hon. Paul John ALP Blaxland, NSW
47
11
20.12.1991–11.3.1996
4
2
20
25th Howard, the Hon. John Winston LP* Bennelong, NSW
56
7
11.3.1996–3.12.2007
11
8
23
26th Rudd, the Hon. Kevin Michael ALP Griffith, Qld
50
2
3.12.2007–24.6.2010
2
6
22
    ALP Griffith, Qld.
55
9
27.6.2013–18.9.2013
-
2
23
27th Gillard, the Hon. Julia Eileen ALP Lalor, Vic.
48
8
24.6.2010–27.6.2013
3
-
3
28th Abbott, the Hon. Anthony (Tony) John LP* Warringah, NSW
55
10
18.9.2013–15.9.2015
1
11
29
29th Turnbull, the Hon. Malcolm Bligh LP* Wentworth, NSW
60
11
15.9.2015–
 
 
 

Source: Compiled by the Parliamentary Library from the Parliamentary Handbook.
*Coalition government.
Bold text indicates electorate represented whilst in office where more than one seat was held.

Appendix 2: Australia’s prime ministers, 1901 ̶ 2015: reason for leaving office

Name Parliamentary Term(s) Reason for leaving office
Barton, Sir Edmund 29.3.01–30.9.03 (Res) Resigned to take up appointment to High Court
Deakin, Alfred–1 See below (Ret) Defeated on the floor of the House. Remained in House of Representatives
Watson, John Christian 29.3.1901– 19.2.1910 (Res) Defeated on the floor of the House. Became Leader of the Opposition until 5.7.05
Reid, George 29.3.1901–18.8.1903 (Res)
4.9.1903–24.12.1909 (Res)
Defeated on the floor of the House. Became Leader of the Opposition until 16.11.08
Deakin, Alfred–2 See below Defeated on the floor of the House. Remained in House of Representatives
Fisher, Andrew–1 See below Defeated on the floor of the House
Deakin, Alfred–3 29.3.01–23.4.13 (Ret) Defeated at general election. Became Leader of the Opposition until 20.1.13
Fisher, Andrew–2 See below Defeated at general election. Became Leader of the Opposition until 17.9.14
Cook, Joseph 29.3.01–11.11.21 (Res) Defeated at general election. Became Leader of the Opposition until 17.2.17
Fisher, Andrew–3 30.3.01–26.10.15 (Res) Resigned to become High Commissioner in London
Hughes, William M. 29.3.01–28.10.52 (Died) Resigned. Remained in House of Representatives as private member and minister
Bruce, Stanley Melbourne 11.5.18–12.10.29 (Def)
19.12.31–6.10.33 (Res)
Defeated at general election and lost own seat.
Resigned to become High Commissioner in London
Scullin, James 13.4.10–31.5.13 (Def)
18.2.22–31.10.49 (Ret)
Defeated at general election. Became Leader of the Opposition until 1.10.35
Lyons, Joseph 12.10.29–7.4.39 (Died) Died as PM
Page, Sir Earle 13.12.19–9.12.61 (Def) Caretaker
Menzies, Robert–1 See below Party room defeat. Remained Minister until 7.10.41
Fadden, Arthur 19.12.36–14.12.58 (Ret) Defeated on the floor of the House. Became Leader of the Opposition until 23.9.43
Curtin, John 17.11.28–19.12.31 (Def)
15.9.34–5.7.45 (Died)
Died as PM
Forde, Francis 16.12.22 ̶ 28.9.46 (Def) Caretaker
Chifley, Ben 17.11.28–19.12.31 (Def)
21.4.40–13.6.51 (Died)
Defeated at general election. Became Leader of the Opposition until death
Menzies, Robert–2 15.9.34–17.2.66 (Res) Resigned as PM and resigned from Parliament 3 weeks later
Holt, Harold 17.8.35–19.12.67 (Died) Died as PM*
McEwen, John 15.9.34–1.2.71 (Res) Caretaker
Gorton, John 22.2.50–1.2.68 (Sen)
24.2.68–11.11.75 (Ret)
Party room defeat, own casting vote. Remained in Ministry for 5 months, then private member, Ind. last 5 months
McMahon, William 10.12.49–4.1.82 (Res) Defeated at general election. Remained in House of Representatives as private member
Whitlam, Gough 29.11.52–31.7.78 (Res) Dismissed by Governor-General and then defeated at general election. Became Leader of the Opposition until 22.12.77 , then private member for 7 months
Fraser, Malcolm 10.12.55–31.3.83 (Res) Defeated at general election and resigned two weeks later
Hawke, Robert 18.10.80–20.2.92 (Res) Party room defeat. Resigned two months later
Keating, Paul 25.10.69–23.4.96 (Res) Defeated at general election and resigned seven weeks later
Howard, John 18.5.74–24.11.07 (Def) Defeated at general election on 24.11.2007 and lost own seat
Rudd, Kevin – 1 See below  Lost support of party on 24.6.2010 (no ballot). Became Minister for Foreign Affairs on 14.9.10 until 26.2.12
Gillard, Julia 3.10.98–5.8.13 (Ret) Party room defeat; retired on 5.8.2013
Rudd, Kevin – 2  3.10.98 ̶ 22.11.13 (Res)  Defeated at general election and resigned 76 days later 
Abbott, Tony 26.3.94– Party room defeat
Turnbull, Malcolm 9.10.04–  

Source: Compiled by the Parliamentary Library from the Parliamentary Handbook.
*Disappeared in sea on 17 December 1967 and presumed dead on 19 December 1967.

Note: In the early post-Federation years, 'defeated on the floor of the House' was used for occasions when the Prime Minister resigned before a vote was taken, having seen where the shifting alliances were headed.

Appendix 3: Australia’s prime ministers, 1901–2015: party representation

Party Prime Minister Total by party
Australian Labor Party Chris Watson
Andrew Fisher
William Hughes*
James Scullin
John Curtin
Francis (Frank) Forde
Ben Chifley
Gough Whitlam
Robert Hawke
Paul Keating
Kevin Rudd
Julia Gillard




12
Country Party/National Party of Australia/The Nationals William Hughes*
Stanley Bruce
Earle Page
Arthur Fadden
John McEwen

5
Free Trade Party George Reid
1
Liberal Party/Liberal Party of Australia Joseph Cook
Robert Menzies*
Harold Holt
John Gorton
William McMahon
Malcolm Fraser
John Howard
Tony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull


9
National Labour Party William Hughes*
1
Protectionist Party Edmund Barton
Alfred Deakin
2
United Australia Party Joseph Lyons
Robert Menzies*
2

Source: Compiled by the Parliamentary Library from the Parliamentary Handbook.
*Led more than one party.

Appendix 4: Australia’s prime ministers, 1901–2015: first speeches

Prime Minister Source
Abbott, Tony House of Representatives, Debates, 31 May 1994, p. 1080
Barton, Sir Edmund House of Representatives, Debates, 21 May 1901, p. 106
Bruce, Stanley House of Representatives, Debates, 24 May 1918, p. 5137
Chifley, Ben House of Representatives, Debates, 21 Feb 1929, p. 499
Cook, Joseph House of Representatives, Debates, 22 May 1901, p. 169
Curtin, John House of Representatives, Debates, 14 Feb 1929, p. 274
Deakin, Alfred House of Representatives, Debates, 6 Jun 1901, p. 789
Fadden, Arthur House of Representatives, Debates, 17 June 1937, p. 35
Fisher, Andrew House of Representatives, Debates, 18 Jul 1901, p. 2761
Forde, Francis House of Representatives, Debates, 2 Mar 1923, p. 127
Fraser, Malcolm House of Representatives, Debates, 22 Feb 1956, p. 149
Gillard, Julia House of Representatives, Debates, 11 Nov 1998, p. 59
Gorton, John
Gorton, John
Senate, Debates, 1 Mar 1950, p. 204
Senate, Debates, 2 Mar 1950, p. 258
Hawke, Robert House of Representatives, Debates, 26 Nov 1980, p. 97
Holt, Harold House of Representatives, Debates, 10 Oct 1935, p. 660
Howard, John House of Representatives, Debates, 26 Sep 1974, p. 1911
Hughes, William House of Representatives, Debates, 23 May 1901, p. 321
Keating, Paul House of Representatives, Debates, 17 Mar 1970, p. 512
Lyons, Joseph House of Representatives, Debates, 28 Nov 1929, p. 465
McEwen, John House of Representatives, Debates, 15 Nov 1934, p. 373
McMahon, William House of Representatives, Debates, 2 Mar 1950, p. 313
Menzies, Robert House of Representatives, Debates, 2 Nov 1934, p. 164
Page, Earle House of Representatives, Debates, 4 Mar 1920, p. 194
Reid, George House of Representatives, Debates, 21 May 1901, p. 92
Rudd, Kevin House of Representatives, Debates, 11 Nov 1998, p. 162
Scullin, James House of Representatives, Debates, 1 July 1910, p. 41
Turnbull, Malcolm House of Representatives, Debates, 29 November 2004, p. 63
Watson, Chris House of Representatives, Debates, 22 May 1901, p. 182
Whitlam, Gough House of Representatives, Debates, 19 Mar 1953, p. 1423

Source: Compiled by the Parliamentary Library from the Parliamentary Handbook.

Appendix 5: Australia’s prime ministers, 1901 ̶ 2015: prior employment experience

Occupational category Name* Employment experience
Legal Edmund Barton
Stanley Bruce
Alfred Deakin
Julia Gillard
Harold Holt
John Howard
William Hughes
William McMahon
Robert Menzies
George Reid
Malcolm Turnbull
Gough Whitlam
Barrister, judge
Barrister
Barrister
Solicitor, legal partner
Solicitor, barrister
Solicitor
Barrister
Solicitor
Barrister
Barrister
Lawyer
Barrister
Business Stanley Bruce
Malcolm Fraser
John Gorton
John McEwen
Earle Page
Kevin Rudd
James Scullin
Malcolm Turnbull
Chris Watson
Businessman
Primary producer
Orchardist
Farmer
Businessman
Consultant
Grocer
Investment banker and venture capitalist
Company director
Trade/clerical Ben Chifley
Joseph Cook
John Curtin
Arthur Fadden
Andrew Fisher
Francis Forde
Paul Keating
Chris Watson
Engine-driver
Coal-miner, clerk
Clerk
Accountant
Miner, engine-driver, finance manager
Railway clerk, electrical engineer
Pay clerk
Newspaper compositor
Trade union John Curtin
Robert Hawke
Paul Keating
James Scullin
Chris Watson
Union organiser
Research officer and advocate, ACTU
Union advocate
Union organiser
Union official
Journalism Tony Abbott
John Curtin
Alfred Deakin
James Scullin
Malcolm Turnbull
Journalist
Journalist
Journalist
Journalist
Journalist
Teaching Frank Forde
William Hughes
Joseph Lyons
Teacher
Teacher
Teacher
Public service Stanley Bruce
George Reid
Kevin Rudd
Public servant
Public servant
Public servant
Political organisation Tony Abbott
Julia Gillard
Press secretary and political adviser to Leader of the Opposition
Chief of staff to Victorian Leader of the Opposition
Medical Earle Page Surgeon
Diplomatic service Kevin Rudd Diplomat
Labourer William Hughes Rouseabout

Source: Compiled by the Parliamentary Library from National Archives of Australia, Australia’s prime ministers, accessed 21 October 2015.
*Some prime ministers are represented in more than one occupational category.

Appendix 6: Australia’s prime ministers, 1901–2015: other parliamentary experience

Name Service in other parliaments
Barton, Edmund NSW Legislative Assembly 8.1879–11.1880 (University of Sydney); 11.1880–11.1882 (Wellington); 11.1882–6.1894 (East Sydney); 9.1898–2.1900 (Hastings-Macleay); NSW Legislative Council 3.1887–6.1891, 5.1897–7.1898
Bruce, Stanley Member of the House of Lords (UK) after serving as Prime Minister of Australia
Cook, Joseph NSW Legislative Assembly 7.1891–6.1901 (Hartley)
Deakin, Alfred Victorian Legislative Assembly 7.1879–8.1879; 7.1880–3.1889 (West Bourke); 4.1889–10.1900 (Essendon and Flemington)
Fadden, Arthur Queensland Legislative Assembly 6.1932–5.1935 (Kennedy)
Fisher, Andrew Queensland Legislative Assembly 4.1893–3.1896; 3.1899–5.1901 (Gympie)
Forde, Francis Queensland Legislative Assembly 5.1917–10.1922 (Rockhampton); 3.1955–8.1957 (Flinders)
Hughes, William NSW Legislative Assembly 7.1894–6.1901 (Sydney-Lang)
Lyons, Joseph Tasmanian Legislative Assembly 4.1909–9.1929 (Wilmot); Premier 10.1923–6.1928
Menzies, Robert Victorian Legislative Council 10.1928–11.29 (East Yarra); Victorian Legislative Assembly 11.1929–7.1934 (Nunawading)
Reid, George NSW Legislative Assembly 11.1880–6.1894 (East Sydney); 7.1884–6.1901 (East Sydney-King); Premier 8.1894–9.1899; Member of the House of Commons (UK) 10.1.1916–12.9.1918
Watson, Chris NSW Legislative Assembly 7.1894–6.1901 (Young)

Source: Compiled by the Parliamentary Library from the Parliamentary Handbook; Re-Member (former Members), Parliament of Victoria; Former Members, Parliament of New South Wales; Former Members register, Queensland Parliament; ‘Lyons, Joseph Aloysius’, The Parliament of Tasmania from 1856, all accessed 18 August 2015.

Appendix 7: Australia’s prime ministers, 1901–2015: military service

Prime Minister Military service
Bruce, Stanley Commissioned in the UK Worcestershire Regiment in World War I and seconded to the Royal Fusiliers as temporary captain. Wounded in Gallipoli campaign and invalided to England. Awarded Military Cross and Croix de Guerre avec Palme.
Gorton, John Served as RAAF fighter pilot during World War II. Posted to British squadron in 1942 which was sent to Singapore four weeks before Japanese occupation. Injured after being forced to crash land his aircraft on Bintarn Island. Rescued and evacuated on ammunition ship that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. He survived 24 hours on life raft before being rescued by HMAS Ballarat. Served with No. 77 Squadron in Darwin where he had a second flying accident, then sent to Milne Bay, New Guinea where he survived a third flying accident. Posted back to Australia in 1943 and became instructor in fighter tactics.
Holt, Harold Whilst serving in Cabinet he enlisted in army in May 1940 and trained as gunner in 2nd Australian Imperial Force but never left Australian shores. Returned to Cabinet following death of three ministers in an air crash in Canberra on 13 August 1940 and discharged from AIF.
McEwen, John Enlisted in 1st Australian Imperial Force and called up in 1918, but World War I ended while awaiting departure for France and subsequently discharged.
McMahon, William Called up in 1940 and served in a militia infantry battalion and machine-gun training battalion before becoming a staff officer at the Headquarters of Eastern Command and the Second Australian Army. Volunteered for overseas service but classified as medically unfit due to a hearing problem. Resigned his commission in 1943.
Page, Earle Enlisted in Australian Army Medical Corps in 1916 and served overseas as doctor in Egypt, England and France before securing an early discharge.
Whitlam, Gough Enlisted in RAAF in 1941 and called up in 1942. Served as navigator and stationed at Gove in the Northern Territory, protecting convoys off northern Australia. Undertook bombing raids on enemy supply camps. Ended his war service as Flight Lieutenant Navigator in 1945.

Source: Compiled by the Parliamentary Library from the Parliamentary Handbook; Australian National University, Australian Dictionary of Biography; National Archives of Australia, Australia’s prime ministers, M Lumb, S Bennett and J Moremon, Commonwealth Members of Parliament who have served in war, Research brief 10, 2006 ̶ 07, 26 March 2007, all accessed 18 August 2015.

Appendix 8: Australia’s prime ministers, 1901–2015: birthplaces and places of burial/cremation

Name Party Seat Birthplace Place of burial/cremation
Abbott, Tony LIB Warringah, NSW London, England, UK  
Barton, Sir Edmund PROT Hunter, NSW Glebe, NSW South Head Cemetery, NSW
Bruce, Stanley NAT Flinders, VIC Melbourne, VIC Cremated, ashes over Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, ACT
Chifley, Ben ALP Macquarie, NSW Bathurst, NSW Bathurst Cemetery, NSW
Cook, Joseph LIB Parramatta, NSW Staffordshire, England Cremated, Northern Suburbs Crematorium, NSW
Curtin, John ALP Fremantle, WA Creswick, VIC Karakatta Cemetery, WA
Deakin, Alfred  PROT Ballarat, VIC Fitzroy, VIC St Kilda Cemetery, Vic.
Fadden, Arthur CP Darling Downs, QLD Ingham, QLD Cremated, Mt Thomson Crematorium, Brisbane, Qld
Fisher, Andrew ALP Wide Bay, QLD Ayrshire, Scotland Hamstead Cemetery, England
Forde, Francis ALP Capricornia, QLD Mitchell, QLD Brisbane General Cemetery,  Qld
Fraser, Malcolm LIB Wannon, VIC Melbourne, VIC *
Gillard, Julia ALP Lalor,VIC Barry, Wales, UK  
Gorton, John LIB Higgins, VIC Melbourne, VIC *
Hawke, Robert ALP Wills, VIC Bordertown, SA  
Holt, Harold LIB Higgins, VIC Sydney, NSW Never recovered from sea. Plaque set into rock at Portsea, visible low tide.
Howard, John LIB Bennelong, NSW Earlwood, NSW  
Hughes, William ALP/
NAT LAB/
NAT
West Sydney, NSW
Bendigo, VIC
North Sydney, NSW
London, England Northern Suburbs Cemetery, NSW
Keating, Paul ALP Blaxland, NSW Sydney, NSW  
Lyons, Joseph UAP Wilmot, TAS Stanley, TAS Mersey Vale Memorial Park, Quoiba, Tas.
McEwen, John CP Murray, VIC Chiltern, VIC Cremated Springvale Crematorium, Vic.
McMahon, William LIB Lowe, NSW Sydney, NSW Cremated, Northern Suburbs Crematorium, NSW
Menzies, Robert  UAP Kooyong, VIC Jeparit, VIC Cremated, Melbourne, Vic.
Page, Earle CP Cowper, NSW Grafton, NSW Cremated, Northern Suburbs Crematorium, NSW
Reid, George FT East Sydney, NSW Renfrewshire, Scotland Putney Vale Cemetery, England
Rudd, Kevin ALP Griffith, Qld Nambour, QLD  
Scullin, James ALP Yarra, VIC Trawalla, VIC Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton, Vic.
Turnbull, Malcolm LIB Wentworth, NSW Sydney, NSW  
Watson, Chris ALP Bland, NSW Valparaiso, Chile Cremated, Northern Suburbs Crematorium, NSW
Whitlam, Gough ALP Werriwa, NSW Kew, VIC *

Source: Compiled by the Parliamentary Library from the Parliamentary Handbook and information supplied by the Office of Australian War Graves.
*Information not available at time of publication.


[1].     Arthur Fadden was Prime Minister for six weeks in 1941, but also served as acting Prime Minister for periods totalling nearly two years during Prime Minister Menzies’ visits to Britain in 1949 ̶ 58.

 

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