Stanley Melbourne Bruce

A Gallipoli veteran and experienced businessman, Stanley Melbourne Bruce (later Viscount Bruce of Melbourne) entered Parliament in 1918. Within little more than four years he was Prime Minister. Among his enduring achievements was the coalition agreement between the non-Labor parties. He oversaw Parliament’s move to Canberra in 1927, but lost his seat at the 1929 election, and after winning it back in 1931 had little real influence. Outmanoeuvred by Joe Lyons after the fall of the Scullin government, he was unwillingly sent to London as high commissioner and represented Australia at the League of Nations.

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Events

9 February 1923

Stanley Melbourne Bruce becomes Prime Minister

Following the 1922 election, Country Party leader Earle Page, whose party holds the balance of power in the House of Representatives, refuses to form a coalition with the Nationalists unless Billy Hughes resigns as Prime Minister. Hughes eventually does so and the party elects 40-year-old Treasurer Stanley Bruce as the new Prime Minister, governing in coalition with Page. The Bruce–Page government formalises Cabinet as a decision-making body and is the first government to sit at what is now Old Parliament House, on 9 May 1927, when the federal government formally moves to Canberra. For more information, visit the Australian Prime Ministers Centre.

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Stanley Melbourne Bruce c.1923.
30 January 1924

First Cabinet meeting in Canberra

Prime Minister Stanley Bruce holds the first federal Cabinet meeting in the national capital, at Yarralumla House. In 1931, at the depth of the Great Depression, Cabinet begins meeting in the federal parliament building (now Old Parliament House). The location of Cabinet within the parliament signifies the growing power of the Executive branch of government over the elected parliament during the 20th century.

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The first meeting of the federal Cabinet at Canberra, Yarralumla House, 30 January 1924.