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The Right Honourable Sir John Gorton GCMG, AC, CH

This is a brief biography of Sir John Gorton and comments about his life.


  • Prime Minister from 10 January 1968 to 10 March 1971.
  • Born September 9, 1911 at Melbourne, Victoria.
  • Educated Headford Preparatory School of Sydney Church of England Grammar (‘Shore’) School; Geelong Grammar School; Oxford University.
  • RAAF fighter pilot 1940-44. Severely wounded in place crash.
  • Member Kerang shire Council 1946-52, President 1949-50.
  • Joined the Country Party, but switched to Liberal Party.
  • Defeated for election to Victorian Legislative Council June 1949. Elected to the Senate December 1949. Re-elected 1951, 1953, 1958, 1964.
  • Minister for the Navy (1958-63), Minister Assisting the Minister for External Affairs (March 1960-December 1963), Minister-in-charge of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (February 1962-December 1963), Minister for the Interior (December 1963-March 1964), Minister for Works (December 1963-February 1967), Minister-in-charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research under the Prime Minister (December 1963-December 1966), Minister for Education and Science (December 1966-February 1968), Leader of Government in the Senate (October 1967-February 1968).
  • Elected leader of the Liberal Party January 9, 1968, appointed Prime Minister January 10, 1968. Resigned from the Senate on January 31, 1968, to contest by-election for Higgins on February 24, 1968. Re-elected to Higgins 1969, 1972, 1974.
  • Lost 18 seats at October 25, 1969 general election.
  • Leadership ballot on March 10, 1971, resulting from resignation of Defence Minister Malcolm Fraser, tied 33-33. Gorton opted to vote himself out of the leadership, but was elected deputy leader and became Minister for Defence until August 12, 1971, when he resigned following publication of newspaper articles titled “I Did It My Way”.
  • Served as shadow minister for Urban and Regional Development, Environment and Conservation following election of Whitlam government in December 1972.
  • Resigned from Liberal Party November 1975, following coalition’s blocking of Supply. Stood unsuccessfully as independent Senate candidate in ACT at December 13, 1975 election.
  • Died May 19, 2002 at Sydney, New South Wales.
Malcolm Farnsworth
© 1995-2024
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