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45 Years Ago Today: Man Lands On Moon

It is 45 years ago today since Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

The Lunar Module landed on the moon’s surface at 20:18 UTC. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface six hours later at 02:56 UTC on July 21.

Richard Nixon was six months into his first term as President of the United States. It was three days after Mary Jo Kopechne died on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, in a car driven by Senator Edward Kennedy. [Read more…]

John Gorton Memorial Service; Howard Speaks, Hughes Excoriates Fraser

This is audio from the memorial service held for the former Prime Minister, Sir John Gorton.

Gorton died on May 19, 2002, at the age of 90.

The first clip features Prime Minister John Howard.

The second clip is from barrister Tom Hughes, who served as Gorton’s Attorney-General from 1969 until 1971. It contains an excoriating attack on former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, the man who resigned as Gorton’s Defence Minister in March 1971, precipitating Gorton’s downfall. [Read more…]

John Gorton: Condolence Speech by Simon Crean

This is the text of the speech by the Leader of the Opposition, Simon Crean, on the Condolence Motion for the late Sir John Gorton in the House of Representatives.

  • Listen to Crean’s speech (6m)

Speech by Opposition Leader Simon Crean on the Condolence Motion for Sir John Gorton.

GortonI support the motion moved by the Prime Minister and on behalf of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party I want to express our deep condolences on the death of Sir John Gorton. He was a great Australian.

He was a man who loved his country deeply, and served the nation magnificently in both peace and war.

Sir John did not have the benefit of a close family upbringing. In fact his background made him tough, it made him independent and it also made him determined to enjoy life. He did it his way. [Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

John Gorton, Australian, Former Liberal Prime Minister, Dies, 90

John Grey Gorton, Australia’s nineteenth Prime Minister from 1968-71, has died, at age 90.

GortonRenowned as a ‘larrikin’, Gorton became the first prime minister to assume the nation’s leadership from the Senate. A centralist who alienated coalition State Premiers, Gorton’s private life was often in the headlines, but he will be remembered for his economic nationalism, support of Australia’s fledgling film industry, and for the spectacular manner of his departure from the prime ministership.

A World War II pilot, Gorton’s face was disfigured in combat. His ‘craggy’ features later became part of his appeal. Gorton came to public prominence during the ‘VIP Planes Affair’ when he tabled travel records in the Senate and rescued the government from a lingering crisis.

He became prime minister in January 1968, after Harold Holt disappeared in the Portsea surf. The Country Party leader, John McEwen, vetoed the election of William McMahon as prime minister, paving the way for Gorton to defeat the establishment candidate, Paul Hasluck. He moved to the House of Representatives as the new member for Holt’s electorate of Higgins, now held by Peter Costello. [Read more…]

1970 Cabinet Documents Released

The National Archives of Australia has released Cabinet documents from 1970 under the 30-year rule.

The papers show that the Gorton government looked for a civilian alternative to national service, reconsidered a Federal public order bill to prosecute protesters, and started to soften its punishment
of conscientious objectors to the war.

The Liberal-Country Party coalition government was in its 21st year in office in 1970 and was led by John Gorton, who had succeeded to the prime ministership following the drowning of Harold Holt in December 1967. Holt had succeeded Sir Robert Menzies in Janaury 1966. Menzies had governed since December 1949.

1970 is best remembered as the year of the anti-Vietnam moratorium marches. Led by Dr. Jim Cairns, the moratorium movement was at its peak in this period. [Read more…]

John Howard Comments On Death Of Sir William McMahon

Sir William McMahon, Australia’s 20th Prime Minister, died on March 31, 1988, at the age of 80.

McMahon served as the Liberal member for Lowe between 1949 and 1982. He was a long-serving minister, having assumed office under Robert Menzies in 1951. He was Treasurer in the governments of Harold Holt (1966-67) and John Gorton (1968-69). He was Minister for Foreign Affairs under Gorton (1969-71). He replaced Gorton as prime minister in March 1971.

McMahon was defeated by Gough Whitlam and the ALP in 1972, ending 23 years of coalition government. [Read more…]

Peacock Moves Against Howard; Murphy Sentenced

On September 3, 1985, Federal Opposition Leader Andrew Peacock called a special Liberal Party meeting to vote on the deputy leadership.

It was a fateful move. In his attempt to remove his deputy, John Howard, Peacock miscalculated badly. Howard was re-elected, Peacock resigned the leadership and Howard was then elected leader.

The first two video clips show how Channel 9 and the ABC reported the news. [Read more…]

Malcolm Fraser’s Resignation Speech: “Disloyalty Intolerable And Not To Be Endured”

The Minister for Defence, Malcolm Fraser, resigned from Prime Minister John Gorton’s Cabinet on March 8, 1971.

FraserThe following day, Fraser explained his resignation to the House of Representatives. In his speech, he accused Gorton of disloyalty that was “intolerable and not to be endured”.

Fraser said of Gorton: “The Prime Minister, because of his unreasoned drive to get his own way, his obstinacy, impetuous and emotional reactions, has imposed strains upon the Liberal Party, the Government and the Public Service. I do not believe he is fit to hold the great office of Prime Minister, and I cannot serve in his Government.”

The next day, March 10, 1971, the Liberal Party held a leadership ballot. Gorton was challenged by his Foreign Minister, William McMahon. The vote was tied and Gorton surrendered the leadership to McMahon. In a remarkable development, Gorton was then elected deputy leader to McMahon and became Defence Minister until he was sacked later in the year.

Fraser returned to the Cabinet as Minister for Education and Science in August 1971. He became leader of the Liberal Party in March 1975 and became Prime Minister on November 11, 1975, following the dismissal of the Whitlam government.

Text of Malcolm Fraser’s speech to the House of Representatives.

Mr MALCOLM FRASER (Wannon)– Mr Speaker, I take it from what has been said by the mover of this motion that there is no need for me to ask for the leave of the House to make a statement concerning recent Press reports and concerning the office I held as Minister of State for Defence. I was surprised to learn on the morning of Tuesday, 2nd March, that a story had appeared in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ alleging principally that the Joint Intelligence Organisation had been ordered to report to me on Australian Army activities in Vietnam because I did not trust Army reports. Immediately I reached Canberra, on my own initiative and not at the direction of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), I drafted a reply denying the report and pointing out the function of the Joint Intelligence Organisation. I emphasised that JIO is not an intelligence gathering organisation. It assesses information given to it by the Services in Vietnam, principally by the Army, by the Department of Foreign Affairs and by South Vietnamese Government agencies. It has no officer or office in Vietnam. [Read more…]