Abbott Moves Into 23rd Place

Tony Abbott is now the 23rd longest-serving prime minister since Federation.

With his official prime ministership – dated from his swearing in on September 18 last year – now of 3 months and 21 days duration, Abbott has surpassed John “Chris” Watson’s term in 1904.

Abbott has already overtaken Frank Forde, Earle Page, John McEwen and Arthur Fadden.

For trivia buffs, Abbott is now sandwiched between Watson and George Reid, who both served in 1904, the first year of three prime ministers. Abbott was himself one of three prime ministers in 2013.

On August 5, he will overtake Reid and move into 22nd position among the 28 prime ministers since 1901.

Provided he survives the year, Abbott will also overtake the first Liberal leader, Joseph Cook, in November.

When he catches up to Harold Holt in August 2015, Abbott will finally have moved ahead of a prime minister who actually won an election.

Tony Abbott Sworn In As Australia’s 28th Prime Minister

Anthony John Abbott has taken the oath of office and is now Australia’s 28th Prime Minister.


Abbott was sworn in at a ceremony at Government House, Yarralumla, at 10.29am, by the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.

The swearing in of the Coalition government is about to take place.

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  • Watch the swearing-in (5m)





Why Is Kevin Rudd Still Prime Minister?

The federal election was held ten days ago. The Labor government was defeated. Tony Abbott has announced his new ministry. But Kevin Rudd is still prime minister.

Rudd will remain prime minister until tomorrow morning.

At that time, Abbott will be sworn in as prime minister and his ministers will take the oath of office.


Until that moment, Kevin Rudd remains caretaker prime minister, as he has been since the beginning of the election campaign.

This is quite normal.

  • In 2007, Kevin Rudd won the election on November 24 but was not sworn in as prime minister until December 3. John Howard remained prime minister until that date.
  • In 1996, the election was held on March 2 but John Howard did not replace Paul Keating as prime minister until March 11.
  • In 1983, the election was held on March 5 but Bob Hawke was not sworn in to replace Malcolm Fraser until March 11.
  • In 1949, the election was held on December 10 but Robert Menzies was not sworn in to replace Ben Chifley until December 19.

Excluding the immediate installation of Malcolm Fraser as prime minister, following the dismissal of Gough Whitlam, on November 11, 1975, the fastest transfer of the prime ministership in recent decades took place in 1972. Because Gough Whitlam wanted to get down to business immediately, he was sworn in as prime minister three days after the December 2 election in which he had defeated William McMahon and the Liberal-Country Party coalition. Whitlam and his deputy, Lance Barnard, served as a two-man government until December 19.

Transferring the Prime Ministership

The process followed this year by Rudd and Abbott is part of a long tradition.

On September 8, the day after the election, Rudd tendered his resignation to the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.


In resigning, Rudd surrendered his commission to the Governor-General. Bryce accepted Rudd’s resignation but asked him to remain as caretaker prime minister until the swearing-in of the new ministry.


Rudd’s resignation will take effect the second that Abbott is sworn in. In this way, there is always a prime minister in place. [Read more…]

Julia Gillard’s Place Amongst The List Of Australian Prime Ministers

It’s January, it’s the holiday season, but it’s also an election year, so let’s play with some historical data.

Don’t take it too seriously, but 2013 offers a number of interesting possibilities for Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Gillard is the 27th person to serve as prime minister in the 112 years of Australia’s federation. She is the 11th Labor prime minister.

Gillard is currently the 17th longest serving prime minister, having exceeded the terms of 10 prime ministers, 7 from the conservative side (Page, McEwen, Fadden, Reid, Cook, McMahon & Holt) and 3 from Labor (Forde, Watson & Scullin).

Of the ten PMs Gillard has already overtaken, only three ever won an election (Cook in 1913, Scullin in 1929 & Holt in 1966). None could be regarded as raging successes.

  • Joseph Cook called a double dissolution in 1914 and became one of the first casualties of the Great War. Andrew Fisher, the Labor PM Cook had defeated in 1913, returned to the post.
  • James Scullin’s government, elected one week before the Wall Street crash ushered in the Great Depression in 1929, split three ways and was demolished at at an early election by his former Treasurer, Joe Lyons, who had defected to the conservatives.
  • Harold Holt won a smashing victory against the ALP and Arthur Calwell in 1966. At the time of his death by drowning in 1967, his leadership was under threat from rivals within and from without by a rampant Gough Whitlam.

Three of the prime ministers Gillard has overtaken (Page, Forde & McEwen) assumed the office on a temporary basis following the death of the incumbent.

  • The Country Party leader Earle Page served for 20 days after Lyons died in 1939. Despite a vicious verbal assault by Page, the United Australia Party elected Menzies as their new leader.
  • Frank Forde was prime minister for 8 days after John Curtin died in 1945. He continued serving as the ALP’s deputy leader after Ben Chifley became leader but lost his seat at the 1946 election.
  • Like Page, John McEwen was leader of the Country Party when he became prime minister after the death of Harold Holt. His major achievement in this time was to threaten to bring down the government if the Liberals chose McMahon to replace Holt. He succeeded in delaying McMahon’s accession to the position for another three years.

Two of the prime ministers Gillard has surpassed (Watson & Reid) served briefly after upheaval in the House of Representatives.

  • John Christian (Chris) Watson became the first Labor PM after the House amended Alfred Deakin’s Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Deakin handed the job to Watson who lasted nearly four months until the House passed another amendment to the same bill. The Governor-General refused to grant Watson an election and Reid took over.
  • George Reid lasted for 10 months until the House amended the Address-in-Reply and the Governor-General again refused to grant an election. Deakin returned for the second of his three terms as prime minister.

The 10th prime minister Gillard has overtaken (Fadden) would appreciate the position she has faced for the past two years.

  • Arthur Fadden was Country Party leader when a joint meeting of the United Australia Party and the Country Party made him prime minister in 1940 after Robert Menzies resigned. Even though the UAP had elected the 77-year-old Billy Hughes as their leader, it wasn’t thought he was sufficiently able-bodied to return to the post he had last held in 1922. Fadden lasted for 40 days until the two independents who held the balance of power in the hung parliament tossed him out in favour of Labor’s John Curtin.

Gillard’s achievement in rising to 17th place in the list of longest serving prime ministers doesn’t look overly impressive when you consider the circumstances of the 10 men she has overtaken.

In terms of prime ministerial longevity, what does 2013 hold in store for Gillard? [Read more…]

Kevin Rudd Sworn In As Australia’s 26th Prime Minister

Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia

10.00am – Kevin Rudd has been sworn in as Prime Minister by the Governor-General, Michael Jeffery, in a ceremony at Government House, in Canberra. [Read more…]