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2013 And The Years Of Three Prime Ministers

This morning on ABC News Breakfast, a former newspaper editor told viewers that in 2013 Australia had three prime ministers “for only the second time in history”.

In the interests of accuracy, and because this is not the first time I’ve heard someone get it wrong this year, here are the figures.

The Years of Three Prime Ministers

There have been 5 years in the history of the Australian federation when three prime ministers were separately sworn into the position. They are: 1904, 1939, 1941, 1945 and 2013.

The Years of Three Prime Ministers
Year First PM Second PM Third PM
1904
Alfred Deakin
Protectionist
defeated in House
John “Chris” Watson
ALP
defeated in House
George Reid
Free Trade
1939
Joseph Lyons
United Australia Party
died
Earle Page
Country Party
relinquished to new leader
Robert Menzies
United Australia Party
1941
Robert Menzies
United Australia Party
resigned leadership
Arthur Fadden
Country Party
defeated in House
John Curtin
ALP
1945
John Curtin
ALP
died
Frank Forde
ALP
relinquished to new leader
Ben Chifley
ALP
2013
Julia Gillard
ALP
deposed by party
Kevin Rudd
ALP
defeated at general election
Tony Abbott
Liberal Party

 

1904 – The System Works

The prime ministerial changes of 1904 are notable because it was the first time government changed hands as a result of legislative difficulties in the House of Representatives. Parliamentary manoeuvres were central to each change of government, as was the role of the Governor-General in refusing requests for a dissolution of the House. [Read more…]