Law making in Australia – 10 interesting facts about our Prime Ministers
As Australia waits to find out who will be the Prime Minister after the Federal Election on 2 July 2016, we have prepared a list of interesting facts about the position of Prime Minister of Australia.
- The office of Prime Minister is never mentioned in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. It exists only by convention.
- As at the date of writing, Australia has had 29 different Prime Ministers.
- Three Prime Ministers have died in office – Joseph Lyons, John Curtin and Harold Holt.
- One of Australia’s Prime Ministers, Sir Earle Page, had the middle name “Christmas”.
- Sir Edmund Barton, our first Prime Minister, resigned his position to become one of the inaugural Justices of the High Court of Australia. He is the only Prime Minister to also sit on the bench of the High Court.
- Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister was Sir Robert Menzies. He was Prime Minister for approximately 18.5 years, spread across two terms.
- Australia’s shortest serving Prime Minister was Francis Forde, who was Prime Minister for only 8 days. As the Deputy Prime Minister, he was sworn in on 6 July 1945 after the death of the sitting Prime Minister, John Curtin. On 13 July 1945, a leadership ballot was held by the Labor Party and Ben Chifley was elected leader (and therefore Prime Minister) in his place.
- In the inaugural Federal Election in 1901, three major parties contested the election, with 75 seats available. The Protectionist Party won the most seats (31), followed by the Fair Trade Party (28 seats) and the Labour Party (14 seats). The Protectionist Party, lead by Sir Edmund Barton, formed a minority government with the support of the Labour Party. Seven of Australia’s 29 Prime Ministers were elected to the House of Representatives in the inaugural Federal Election – Barton, Deakin, Watson, Reid, Fisher, Cook and Hughes.
- Harold Holt (born 5 August 1908) was the first person born in Australia after Federation to become Prime Minister when he succeeded Robert Menzies in 1966. William McMahon (born 23 February 1908) was born in Australia before Harold Holt but did not become Prime Minister until 1971. Only 12 of the 29 Prime Ministers were born after Federation, and two of those Prime Ministers (Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott) were not born in Australia.
- Only two sitting Prime Ministers have lost their seat at a Federal Election – Stanley Bruce in 1929 and John Howard in 2007.
The Prime Minister of Australia, as leader of the Commonwealth Government, plays a crucial role in dictating the Federal laws that govern our society – Laws which give rights to everyday Australians like the clients of Stacks Goudkamp.
Written by Brett Watts.