Last updated on December 27, 2023
The Liberal Prime Minister, Harold Holt, disappeared in the surf at Cheviot Beach, Portsea, on this day in 1967.
Like today, it was a Sunday. Holt had been prime minister for just on 20 months, having succeeded Robert Menzies who had held the office for 16 years from 1949. Menzies had won seven consecutive elections, whilst Holt had secured a landslide re-election in 1966.
The Country Party was the junior coalition partner and its leader, John McEwen, was sworn in as an interim PM on December 19, holding office for three weeks until the Liberal Party elected Victorian Senator John Gorton as its new leader.
Gorton subsequently contested the by-election for Holt’s former seat of Higgins. He is the only senator ever to have been prime minister and the first PM since Edmund Barton to have not been a member of parliament for some period of his prime ministership, a situation permissible under Section 64 of the Constitution.
The video shown above is the 7pm ABC Melbourne news from December 17, 1967:
Newspaper front page from December 18, 1967, are shown below:
This video, Retrofocus from the ABC is titled The Massive Search for Harold Holt. NOTE: A YouTube glitch means it may not start at the beginning but you can take it back to the start.