James Scullin had the difficult task of managing Australia’s economy with its substantial foreign debts during the beginning of the Great Depression of the 1930s, while leading a party reluctant to cut social welfare and wages. A series of bitter splits destroyed his government within little more than two years. Australia’s first Catholic Prime Minister, Scullin began his working life as a grocer and was a leading campaigner against conscription during World War I.
James Scullin becomes Prime Minister
At the 1929 federal election, the Bruce government is heavily defeated by Labor, led by James Scullin. Bruce loses his own parliamentary seat, the first prime minister to do so. During Scullin’s term as Prime Minister, the Wall Street Crash begins the Great Depression and Sir Isaac Isaacs is appointed Governor-General, the first Australian to hold the position. For more information, visit the Australian Prime Ministers Centre.