Ministerial Resignations and Dismissals Since 1901

This is a complete list of ministers who have resigned or were dismissed from Federal Governments since 1901 under the conventions of collective or individual ministerial responsibility.

It does not include ministers who resigned because of retirement or appointment to other offices, or ministers who were demoted or sacked in reshuffles.

Note: It is not unusual to read inaccurate statements about the reasons why ministers resign. For example, it is often claimed that ministers used to resign for misleading parliament, but only three out of 75 have done so in 114 years. Many more resignations have taken place due to conflict of interest allegations, disagreements over policy matters, disputes with the prime minister, or personal behaviour.

Ministerial Resignations & Dismissals Since 1901
Name Date Reason
Barton Ministry (Protectionist)
Charles Kingston
MHR, SA
24 July 1903
Policy disagreement.
Deakin Ministry (Protectionist)
John Forrest
Swan, WA
30 July 1907
Policy disagreement.
Hughes Ministry (Labor)
Frank Tudor
Yarra, Vic
14 Sept 1916
Disagreement over conscription.
William Higgs
Capricornia, Qld
27 Oct 1916
Disagreement over conscription.
Senator Albert Gardiner
NSW
27 Oct 1916
Disagreement over conscription.
Senator Edward Russell
Vic
27 Oct 1916
Disagreement over conscription.
Hughes Ministry (Nationalist)
William Morris Hughes
Bendigo, Vic
8 Jan 1918
Token resignation by Prime Minister was followed by his immediate recommissioning.
Jens Jensen
Bass, Tas
13 Dec 1918
Dismissed following Royal Commission.
Bruce-Page Ministry (Nationalist-Country Party Coalition
Percy Stewart
Wimmera, Vic
5 Aug 1924
Protest over electoral pact.
Littleton Groom
Darling Downs, Qld
18 Dec 1925
Ministry failure. Resigned over attempts to deport ‘foreign agitators’ and his conduct at the League of Nations.
Scullin Ministry (Labor)
Edward Theodore
Dalley, Qld,
9 July 1930
Found guilty by Queensland Royal Commission into Mungana business dealings.
Joseph Lyons
Wilmot, Tas
4 Feb 1931
Protest at Theodore reinstatement.
James Fenton
Maribyrnong, Vic
4 Feb 1931
Protest at Theodore reinstatement.
Edward Holloway
Flinders, Vic,
12 June 1931
Protest over Premiers’ Plan.
Charles Culley
Denison, Tas
24 June 1931
Protest over Premiers’ Plan.
Lyons Ministry (United Australia Party)
Charles Hawker
Wakefield, SA
23 Sep 1932
Policy disagreement. Resigned over government refusal to reduce parliamentary salaries.
James Fenton
Maribyrnong, Vic
13 Oct 1932
Policy disagreement. Resigned after voting against a bill ratifying the Ottawa Agreement, establishing Imperial Preference.
Lyons Ministry (UAP-CP Coalition)
William Morris Hughes
North Sydney, UAP
6 Nov 1935
Policy disagreement. Resigned after publication of his book, Australia and the War Today, which alleged a lack of war preparation.
Henry Gullett
Henty, Vic
11 Mar 1937
Policy disagreement. Resigned over disagreement with trade policy.
Senator Alexander McLachlan
SA
7 Nov 1938
Conflict of interest.
Thomas White
Balaclava, Vic
8 Nov 1938
Policy disagreement.
Robert Menzies
Kooyong, Vic
20 Mar 1939
Policy disagreement.
Menzies Ministry (United Australia Party)
John Lawson
Macquarie, NSW
23 Feb 1940
Conflict of interest.
Menzies Ministry (Liberal-CP Coalition)
Leslie Bury
Wentworth, NSW
27 July 1962
Policy disagreement.
Gorton Ministry (Liberal-CP Coalition)
David Fairbairn
Farrer, NSW
12 Nov 1969
Dispute with Prime Minister.
Malcolm Fraser
Wannon, Vic
8 Mar 1971
Dispute with Prime Minister.
McMahon Ministry (Liberal-CP Coalition)
Leslie Bury
Wentworth, NSW
2 Aug 1971
Dispute with Prime Minister.
John Gorton
Higgins, Vic
13 Aug 1971
Dispute with Prime Minister.
Whitlam Ministry (Labor)
Clyde Cameron
Hindmarsh, SA
6 Jun 1975
Refused reshuffle offer.
Dr. Jim Cairns
Lalor, Vic
6 Jun 1975
Ministerial irregularities relating to overseas loans. Treasurer Cairns authorised George Harris to seek overseas loans on behalf of the government. Prime Minister Whitlam argued that Cairns’ action was taken without his knowledge and without advice from the Treasury. Cairns accepted demotion to Minister for the Environment.
Dr. Jim Cairns
Lalor, Vic
2 Jul 1975
Misleading parliament in relation to overseas loans. Cairns denied signing a letter agreeing to pay George Harris a 2.5% commission on overseas loans. He later claimed not to remember signing the letter. Cairns refused to tender his resignation, so Prime Minister Whitlam advised Governor-General Sir John Kerr to withdraw Cairns’ commission.
Rex Connor
Cunningham, NSW
14 Oct 1975
Misleading parliament in relation to dealings with Tirath Khemlani in connection with overseas loans.
Fraser Ministry (Liberal-National Coalition)
Victor Garland
Curtin, WA
6 Feb 1976
Electoral irregularities.
Robert Ellicott
Wentworth, NSW
6 Sep 1977
Cabinet decision protest.
Philip Lynch
Flinders, Vic
19 Nov 1977
Alleged irregularity in relation to land deals.
Senator Glen Sheil
Qld
21 Dec 1977
Sheil took the oath as an Executive Councillor on December 20, preparatory to his swearing-in as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. That same day, he gave an interview expressing support for South African apartheid. The following day, Prime Minister Fraser advised Governor-General Sir Zelman Cowen to terminate Sheil’s Executive Council appointment. Sheil never became a minister.
Senator Reg Withers
WA
7 Aug 1978
Dismissed after Royal Commission finding into electoral redistribution allegations.
Eric Robinson
McPherson, Qld
23 Feb 1979
Dispute with Prime Minister.
Ian Sinclair
New England, NSW
27 Sep 1979
Alleged criminal offences.
Andrew Peacock
Kooyong, Vic
16 Apr 1981
Dispute with Prime Minister.
Michael MacKellar
Warringhah, NSW
20 Apr 1982
Ministerial impropriety in relation to importation of a colour television set.
John Moore
Ryan, Qld
20 Apr 1982
Ministerial impropriety in relation to importation of a colour television set.
Hawke Ministry (Labor)
Mick Young
Port Adelaide, SA
14 Jul 1983
Ministerial impropriety in relation to Ivanov affair. Young resigned as Special Minister of State over allegations he had leaked Cabinet discussions. He was cleared by the Hope Royal Commission and was reinstated as Special Minister of State in January 1984.
Stewart West
Cunningham, NSW
04 Nov 1983
Disagreed with Cabinet decision on uranium mining. West was Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. He left the Cabinet but remained in the Ministry. He returned to the Cabinet on April 3, 1984
Mick Young
Port Adelaide, SA
26 July 1984
Accused of making a false Customs Declaration regarding a Paddington Bear and $1093.00 of duty. Young stood aside but did not resign. He resumed his duties a few weeks later, following an investigation by Michael Black QC. Black said Young should have exercised greater care but had no intention to evade the duty.
John Brown
Parramatta, NSW
18 Dec 1987
Misleading Parliament. Brown resigned over remarks he made over the tendering process for a theatre within the Australian Pavilion at Brisbane’s Expo ’88.
Gary Punch
Barton, NSW
28 Mar 1989
Policy protest over Sydney Airport.
Paul Keating
Blaxland, NSW
3 Jun 1991
Dispute with Prime Minister.
John Kerin
Werriwa, NSW
9 Dec 1991
Inability to explain policy.
Keating Ministry (Labor)
Senator Graham Richardson
NSW
18 May 1992
Ministerial impropriety in relation to Marshall Islands affair.
Alan Griffiths
Maribyrnong, Vic
22 Jan 1994
Ministerial impropriety in relation to Sandwich Shop affair.
Ros Kelly
Canberra, ACT
27 Feb 1994
Ministerial impropriety in relation to Sports Rorts affair.
Howard Ministry (Liberal-Nationals Coalition)
Senator Jim Short
Vic
14 Oct 1996
Ministerial impropriety in relation to conflict of interest concerning bank licences.
Senator Brian Gibson
Tas
15 Oct 1996
Ministerial impropriety in relation to conflict of interest concerning bank licences.
Senator Bob Woods
NSW
3 Feb 1997
Alleged improprieties in relation to expenses claims.
Geoff Prosser
Forrest, WA
11 Jul 1997
Ministerial impropriety in relation to conflict of interest.
David Jull
Fadden, Qld
24 Sept 1997
Ministerial impropriety in relation to Travel Rorts affair.
John Sharp
Hume, NSW
24 Sept 1997
Ministerial impropriety in relation to Travel Rorts affair.
Peter McGauran
Gippsland, Vic
26 Sept 1997
Ministerial impropriety in relation to Travel Rorts affair.
Sen. Ian Campbell
WA
3 Mar 2007
Ministerial impropriety in relation to dealings with Brian Burke.
Sen. Santo Santoro
Qld
16 Mar 2007
Conflict of interest and ministerial impropriety in relation to private share dealings.
Rudd Ministry (Labor)
Joel Fitzgibbon
Hunter, NSW
4 Jun 2009
Ministerial impropriety in relation to conflict of interest concerning brother’s company’s dealings with Defence Department.
Gillard Ministry (Labor)
Kevin Rudd
Griffith, Qld
22 Feb 2012
Minister for Foreign Affairs resigned alleging prime minister did not repudiate attack on him by ministerial colleague.
Simon Crean
Hotham, Vic
21 Mar 2013
Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, and Minister for the Arts dismissed after privately and publicly demanding prime minister call a leadership spill.
Richard Marles
Corio, Vic
21 Mar 2013
Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs resigned after supporting prime minister’s opponent, Kevin Rudd, in leadership spill.
Chris Bowen
McMahon, NSW
22 Mar 2013
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, and Minister for Small Business resigned after supporting prime minister’s opponent, Kevin Rudd, in leadership spill.
Martin Ferguson
Batman, Vic
22 Mar 2013
Minister for Resources and Energy, and Minister for Tourism resigned after supporting prime minister’s opponent, Kevin Rudd, in leadership spill.
Senator Kim Carr
Vic
22 Mar 2013
Minister for Human Services resigned after supporting prime minister’s opponent, Kevin Rudd, in leadership spill.
Rudd Ministry (Labor)
Wayne Swan
Lilley, Qld
26 Jun 2013
Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister refused to serve in Rudd ministry following overthrow of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Greg Combet
Charlton, NSW
26 Jun 2013
Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation refused to serve in Rudd ministry following overthrow of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Craig Emerson
Rankin, Qld
26 Jun 2013
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, and Minister for Trade and Competitiveness refused to serve in Rudd ministry following overthrow of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Peter Garrett
Kingsford Smith, NSW
26 Jun 2013
Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth refused to serve in Rudd ministry following overthrow of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Senator Stephen Conroy
Vic
26 Jun 2013
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and Leader of the Government in the Senate refused to serve in Rudd ministry following overthrow of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Senator Joe Ludwig
Qld
26 Jun 2013
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry refused to serve in Rudd ministry following overthrow of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Abbott Ministry (Liberal-Nationals Coalition)
Senator Arthur Sinodinos
NSW
19 Mar 2014
Assistant Treasurer stood aside pending investigations by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. Sinodinos returned to the ministry on September 21, 2015 as Cabinet Secretary under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Malcolm Turnbull
Wentworth, NSW
14 Sep 2015
Dispute with prime minister. Minister for Communications resigned and informed Prime Minister Tony Abbott that he was launching a challenge for the Liberal Party leadership. Turnbull was elected leader of the Liberal Party on the evening of September 14 and was sworn in as prime minister on September 15.
Turnbull Ministry (Liberal-Nationals Coalition)
Jamie Briggs
Mayo, SA
29 Dec 2015
Minister for Cities and the Built Environment resigned over allegations of inappropriate behaviour involving a female public servant during an official visit to Hong Kong in November 2015.
Mal Brough
Fisher, Qld
29 Dec 2015
Special Minister of State and Minister for Defence Materiel and Science stood aside pending the outcome of a police investigation into allegations about his behaviour in relation to former Speaker Peter Slipper and James Ashby. Update: Brough announced his resignation on February 13, 2016.
Stuart Robert
Fadden, Qld
12 Feb 2016
Minister for Human Services, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC was forced to resign for being in breach of ministerial standards because of an indirect financial stake in a company he helped in Beijing.

 

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