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Turnbull Now 23rd Longest-Serving Prime Minister

Malcolm Turnbull is now Australia’s 23rd longest-serving prime minister.


Turnbull is the nation’s 29th Prime Minister. Whilst he has not yet reached a year in office, he has surpassed the terms of 6 of the other 28 who have held the office since 1901.

Turnbull has been prime minister for 10 months and 18 days, a total of 324 days. After overthrowing Tony Abbott in a Liberal Party leadership ballot on September 14, 2015, he was sworn in as PM on September 15.

If Turnbull is still Prime Minister on December 9 this year, he will overtake Joseph Cook’s 452 days in office. Cook’s Liberal Party won office in 1913 with a majority of one, as Turnbull has just achieved. He went to a double dissolution election less than halfway into his term and was comfortably defeated by the ALP’s Andrew Fisher, who then became the second man to serve three terms in the top job.

Turnbull has overtaken the time in office of 2 Labor and 4 non-Labor PMs: Frank Forde (ALP, 8 days), Earle Page (Country Party, 20 days), John McEwen (Country Party, 23 days), Arthur Fadden (Country Party, 39 days), Chris Watson (ALP, 113 days) and George Reid (Free Trade, 321 days).

None of those six came to office as the result of an election. None contested an election as prime minister.

Three of them – Page, Forde and McEwen – were stop-gap leaders, filling in as prime minister following the deaths of Lyons, Curtin and Holt.

Watson, Reid and Fadden all took office between elections due to shifts in support in the House of Representatives.

Watson was the country’s first Labor prime minister, in 1904. At 37, he is the youngest man ever to have been PM. He lasted in office for just under four months.

Reid was Australia’s only Free Trade leader. He succeeded Watson in 1904 and lasted nearly 11 months. By the time of the 1906 election, Reid had rebadged his party as Anti-Socialist. In 1909, it fused with the Protectionists to form the first Liberal Party.

Fadden was the longest-serving Country Party PM, in 1941. The Coalition government turned to Fadden after Menzies was forced to resign. He may have lasted longer in office but the two independents who held the balance of power shifted their support to the ALP and the Curtin government took office in October 1941.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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