John Gorton

John Gorton’s (1911-2002) prime ministership ended with his resignation, after a party motion of confidence resulted in a tied vote. Gorton won the leadership after the death of Harold Holt. He had been elected in the Menzies landslide of 1949, but adopted different policies and a style unlike that of the Menzies era. He was seen as someone who could stand up to the aggressive new Labor leader, Gough Whitlam, but his most damaging opponents were to be from within his own party. He ended his career as an Independent, resigning from the Liberal Party after Malcolm Fraser won the Liberal leadership in 1975.

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10 January 1968

John Gorton becomes Prime Minister

The Liberal Party chooses its leader in the Senate, John Gorton, to formally succeed Harold Holt as Prime Minister and he replaces John McEwen. Although he is elected to the Lower House shortly afterwards, Gorton is the first Senator to become Prime Minister. The Gorton government increases funding to the arts through the Australia Council and begins Australian withdrawal from the Vietnam War. For more information, visit the Australian Prime Ministers Centre.


John Gorton.