Arthur Fadden

Arthur Fadden (1895- 1973) first took centre stage in public life in 1918 when he and an alderman took charge of the city of Mackay after a destructive cyclone. Later Fadden became an accountant, and went into state politics. In 1936 he was elected to federal parliament. He resigned from his party in protest at Earle Page’s attack on Menzies in 1939, but became Country Party leader in 1940 as the only man who could reunite the party. After the failure of Menzies' first government he became prime minister himself. He inherited a deeply divided coalition, and fell after little more than a month when two independents crossed the floor. Fadden later became Treasurer in the post-war Menzies governments, serving from 1949 to 1958.

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Events

22 January 1922

Country Party forms federally

The Country Party is first formed in Western Australia in 1913, having emerged from various farmer and settler leagues. It becomes a national political party in 1920, largely sponsored by state farm organisations fighting for a better deal for the ‘man on the land’. The Party is represented in federal parliament from 1922. Its leader, Earle Page, becomes Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister in the first federal coalition government in 1923, establishing a tradition when the coalition is in government. The Country Party changes its name to the National Country Party of Australia in 1975, then to the National Party of Australia in 1982 as part of a strategy to extend its national representation to urban electorates. Three of the Party’s leaders — Earle Page, Arthur Fadden and John McEwen — briefly serve as Prime Minister on occasions when the leadership of the major coalition party is in transition.

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Portrait of Sir Earle Page.
29 August 1941

Arthur Fadden becomes Prime Minister

Robert Menzies, his government having become unstable, resigns as Prime Minister. A joint meeting of the United Australia and Country parties chooses, Country party leader, Arthur Fadden, as Menzies’ successor as Prime Minister. For more information, visit the Australian Prime Ministers Centre.

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Arthur Fadden c.1957.