Tom Hughes, the last surviving Liberal minister from the long period of coalition rule between 1949 and 1972, turns 100 today.
Born on November 26, 1923, Hughes studied Law and joined the Royal Australian Air Force during World War 2. He fought at Normandy during the D-Day landings in 1944.
He joined the New South Wales bar in 1949, building a large practice that was notable for some famous defamation cases.
Hughes entered parliament as the Liberal Party member for Parkes (NSW) in 1963, defeating the ALP’s Les Haylen, who had held the seat since 1943. Hughes was re-elected in 1966 and moved to the electorate of Berowra (NSW) in 1969, following a redistribution.
Hughes was Attorney-General in the outer ministry of the Second Gorton Government from November 12, 1969 until March 22, 1971.
Following Gorton’s toppling from the leadership, the new Prime Minister, William McMahon, sacked Hughes from the ministry.
Hughes retired from parliament at the 1972 election, returning to the Sydney bar. He practised as one of NSW’s leading barristers until his retirement at the age of 90 in 2013.
Twenty-seven years ago tonight, the fifth change of government since World War II took place. This page contains full video of the 1996 federal election night count.
The election saw the Labor government of Paul Keating defeated by the Liberal-Nationals coalition led by John Howard.
The election brought to an end 13 years of Labor government that began under prime minister Bob Hawke in 1983. The Hawke-Keating governments won 5 elections, in 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990 and 1993. It remains the longest-serving Labor government since Federation.
This is the maiden speech by Alan Tudge, delivered in the House of Representatives on October 26, 2010.
Tudge was 39 when he was elected to the Victorian electorate of Aston in Melbourne’s outer east.
Watch Tudge’s maiden speech – final half only (16m):
Aston had been held for the Liberal Party by Chris Pearce since a by-election in 2001. Previously, the seat had been held since 1990 by Peter Nugent, whose death precipitated the by-election. The only ALP member for Aston was John Saunderson, who won the seat at its creation in 1984, was re-elected in 1987 and defeated by Nugent in 1990.
Aston included the suburbs of Vermont, Knox, Scoresby and Wantirna. By the time Tudge retired in 2023, the seat had been redistributed a number of times and had shifted eastward to take in Boronia and Ferntree Gully, areas formerly in La Trobe.
Prior to his election, Tudge worked as a management consultant. He was seconded to Noel Pearson’s Cape York Institute. From 2002, Tudge worked as an adviser to Howard government ministers Brendan Nelson and Alexander Downer, before setting up his own policy advisory firm.
Tudge became a minister in 2016 and served in a number of portfolios under prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison, until the government’s defeat in 2022. His first portfolio was as Minister for Human Services. His role in the RoboDebt scandal led to him giving testimony to the RoboDebt Royal Commission in the week before his retirement.
Tudge’s ministerial career ended as Minister for Education and Youth. He stood aside in December 2021, following allegations about his relationship with his former press secretary, although he retained the title until the government lost office.
At his final election on May 21, 2022, Aston recorded an 11.64% fall in the Liberal Party’s primary vote. A two-party-preferred swing of 7.32% saw Tudge retain the seat with 52.81% of the two-party vote.
This post was updated on February 9, 2023, following Tudge’s announcement of his retirement. A transcript of Tudge’s maiden speech appears below, as does video of his resignation statement.
Watch Tudge’s resignation statement and responses by Prime Minister Albanese and Opposition Leader Dutton (16m):
Fifty-five years ago today, December 18, 1967, Australia experienced a singular event. For the only time since Federation in 1901, a whole day passed without a prime minister in office.
The day before, December 17, prime minister Harold Holt disappeared in the sea off Cheviot Beach, in Portsea, Victoria. On December 18, a search for his body was continuing, but little hope was held for its recovery. It was not until December 19 that Holt’s successor, John McEwen, was sworn in as prime minister.
Constitutional convention requires that there must always be a prime minister to advise the Governor-General. Two previous prime ministerial deaths in office were followed by same day or next day appointments of a new prime minister.
Prime ministerial resignations following retirement, party leadership challenges or electoral defeat always take place at the precise moment the new prime minister is sworn in. In this way, continuity prevails.
In 1967, Christmas was only a week away. Parliament had adjourned for the year. Politicians had left Canberra. Holt disappeared on a Sunday. Speedy appointment of a new PM was difficult.
An important complication arose because there was no such office as Deputy Prime Minister at that time. Who was the deputy to the prime minister? The deputy leader of the Liberal Party? The leader of the junior coalition party?
Ultimately, the decision about who to appoint had to be made by the Governor-General. Lord Casey, formerly Richard Casey, was a former long-time Liberal Party politician. He served as Treasurer for three and a half years under Lyons in the 1930s. In 1940, he was Minister to the United States, effectively ambassador. In 1944, he was appointed Governor of Bengal. In 1949, he returned to the Commonwealth Parliament as the Liberal member for La Trobe, a new seat in Melbourne’s outer east. Until 1960, he held portfolios in the Menzies government, including ten years as Minister for External Affairs, now called Foreign Affairs. In 1965, Menzies appointed him Governor-General.
Casey’s decision on Holt’s successor was informed by his understanding of politics, the Liberal Party and the coalition relationship. He had served alongside all the key players in the Liberal-Country Party coalition government since 1949.
Two days after Holt’s disappearance, on December 19, the Country Party leader, John McEwen, was sworn in as Australia’s 18th prime minister.
McEwen’s appointment by Casey was in accordance with the precedent established in 1939, following the death of PM Joseph Lyons on April 7. The Country Party leader, Earle Page, was appointed prime minister the same day. As the leader of the junior coalition partner, he was deemed appropriate as a temporary stand-in.
Page held office over 20 days, from April 7 until April 26, 1939. He relinquished office to the newly-elected leader of the United Australia Party, Robert Menzies.
When Labor prime minister John Curtin died in office in 1945, the choice of replacement was much easier. The deputy leader of the ALP, Frank Forde, was sworn in the next day. He served as PM over 8 days from July 6 until July 13, when he relinquished the prime ministership to the new ALP leader, Ben Chifley.
McEwen held office over 23 days as prime minister from December 19, 1967 until January 10, 1968, when he relinquished the post to the new Liberal Party leader, Senator John Gorton. Gorton subsequently won the by-election for Holt’s Melbourne electorate of Higgins and moved to the lower house. He is the only senator to have ever served as prime minister.
In 1968, the position of Deputy Prime Minister was officially created. John McEwen was the first person to hold the title, even though it had been used unofficially for many years.
Upon taking office in 1967, McEwen paid tribute to Holt. The official statement is shown below:
John Fahey, the former Liberal Premier of NSW, and Finance Minister in the Howard government, has died, aged 75.
Fahey was first elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly in 1984 as the member for Camden. He transferred to Southern Highlands in 1988 and was a minister in the Greiner government following the 1988 election.
He became Premier on June 24, 1992, following the forced resignation of Nick Greiner, in the aftermath of an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Coruption.
As premier, Fahey is best remembered for the role he played in securing the 2000 Sydney Olympics for NSW.
Fahey’s Liberal-Nationals coalition was defeated in the 1995 election and Bob Carr became Labor premier. Fahey transferred to the federal division of Macarthur at the 1996 federal election and became Minister for Finance in the Howard government, a position he held until he retired at the 2001 election.
His career after politics is notable for his role as president of the World Anti-Doping Agency. He also served as Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University.