A Detailed List of Australian Prime Ministers Since 1901

List of Australian Prime Ministers Since 1901
Since 1901, Australia has had 28 Prime Ministers. Many have served one term, while there are few who served for two or three terms. This Historyplex article provides you with the entire list of Prime Ministers in the order of their term of office.
Historyplex Staff
Last Updated: Apr 29, 2018
Creation of the Office of Prime Minister
The office of the Prime Minister was created on January 1, 1901 when the six Australian colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia joined together to become the Commonwealth of Australia.


The Prime Minister of Australia is appointed by the Governor General. He holds the apex position in the Cabinet. He should be the part of the House of Representatives. His/her term of office is not mentioned in the Australian Constitution. His term starts with his appointment and ends with him being either voted out at the elections, if his resignation is accepted by the Governor, or in case of his death.
List of Prime Ministers Since 1901
Name: Sir Edmund Barton (1849 - 1920)
Party: Protectionist
Term of Office: 1 January 1901 - 24 September 1903 (2 years, 8 months, 24 days)
About: Barton was an Australian politician and judge. He contested his first federal elections and became the first Prime Minister of Australia. He resigned in 1903 to become a judge of the High Court of Australia.

Name:
Alfred Deakin (1856 - 1919)
Party: Protectionist
Duration: 24 September 1903 - 27 April 1904 (7 months, 4 days)
About: Deakin held office by the courtesy of the Labor Party. He did not want to accept radical legislation insisted upon by the Labor Party. Thus, he resigned without passing any legislation.

Name: Chris Watson (1867-1941)
Party: Labor
Term of Office: 27 April 1904 - 18 August 1904 (3 months, 21 days )
About: Watson served a brief term. He resigned because there was a breach in the issue to extend the scope of industrial relations laws apropos the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill between him and Deakin.

Name: Sir George Reid (1845 - 1918)
Party: Free Trade
Duration: 18 August 1904 - 5 July 1905 (10 months, 18 days)
About: Reid was the first former state premier to become Prime Minister. He did not have majority in either of the houses. He was voted out of power when the Protectionists and the Labor Party reconciled.

Name: Alfred Deakin (1856 - 1919)
Party: Protectionist
Term of Office: 5 July 1905 - 13 November 1908 (3 years, 4 months, 9 days )
About: This was Deakin's longest and most successful term as Prime Minister. During this term, he gave various bills and passed many acts. The Labor Party was dissatisfied with his working. Thus, they withdrew support, leading to the fall of Deakin government.

Name: Andrew Fisher (1862 - 1928)
Party: Labor
Duration: 13 November 1908 - 2 June 1909 (6 months, 21 days)
About: Fisher was the first to apply the funds provided for the naval expenditure. This led to the creation of the first independent navy in the British Empire. He brought about various amendments in the constitution to give Commonwealth power over labor, compulsory military training for youths, replacement of currency, and protection of the sugar industry. The conservative Protectionists and Free Traders merged to form the Commonwealth Liberal Party, which led to the defeat of the Labor Party in the House.

Name: Alfred Deakin (1856 - 1919)
Party: Commonwealth Liberal
Term of Office: 2 June 1909 - 29 April 1910 (10 months, 28 days )
About: The merger of the Protectionist Party with the Anti-Socialist Party was considered by many as a betrayal of Deakin's liberal principles. He ordered a battleship and established a financial agreement of 25 shillings per person annually. They faced clear defeat at the hands of the Labor Party in the 1910 elections.

Name: Andrew Fisher (1862 - 1928)
Party: Labor
Duration: 29 April 1910 - 24 June 1913 (3 years, 1 month, 26 days)
About: The victory of the 1910 elections gave the Labor Party control over both houses and became Australia's first federal majority government. This was also called the second Fisher Government, which turned out to be the period of reform in defense, constitutional matters, finance, transport, communications, and social security. He passed 113 acts during this time. The Labor Party was defeated by one vote in 1913, putting an end to the Second Fisher Government.

Name: Joseph Cook (1860 - 1947)
Party: Commonwealth Liberal
Term of Office: 24 June 1913 - 17 September 1914 (1 year, 2 months, 25 days )
About: The party won by just one seat in the House of Representatives. It did not have any majority in the Senate. Cook tried for double dissolution repeatedly. But the outbreak of World War I in 1914 before the September elections led the Labor Party to come into power.

Name: Andrew Fisher (1862 - 1928)
Party: Labor
Duration: 17 September 1914 - 27 October 1915 (1 year, 1 month, 11 days)
About: With the outbreak of World War 1 in the middle of the elections, the Labor Party campaigned for an independent Australian defense force and asked people to "stand beside the mother country to help and defend her to the last man and the last shilling." He again won the elections with an absolute majority. However, he resigned in 1915 from the post, as war time management was too taxing for his health.

Name: Billy Hughes (1862 - 1952)
Party: Labor
Term of Office: 27 October 1915 - 14 November 1916 (1 year, 1 month, 18 days)
About: Hughes succeeded Fisher after the latter resigned. Hughes was a strong supporter of Australia's participation in the World War I. The Generals explained to Hughes that conscription was necessary for Australia to sustain in the war. But majority of the party members were against him. Hughes wanted to change the conscription of the 1910 Defense Act. The conscription was only in the defense of the nation, whereas he wanted it to include the word "overseas". Later, on September 15, he was expelled from the party.

Name: Billy Hughes (1862 - 1952)
Party: National Labor
Duration: 14 November 1916 - 17 February 1917 (3 months, 3 days)
About: Hughes and his followers, after expulsion from the party, sought to form a socially radical and nationalist party. This party was named as the National Labor Party. They had to depend upon the Commonwealth Liberal Party, led by Cook. In 1917, Hughes and Cook came together to form the Nationalist Party.

Name: Billy Hughes (1862 - 1952)
Party: Nationalist
Term of Office: 17 February 1917 - 9 February 1923 (5 years, 11 month, 8 days)
About: The formation of the Nationalist Party conveyed the message of national unity man from working-class led middle and upper-class Party people. After receiving a vote of no confidence, Hughes resigned from the post. But there was no eligible candidate, and he was, thus, immediately recommissioned by the Governor General. After 1920, his political position declined. His party pressurized him to resign in February 1923.

Name: Stanley Bruce (1883 - 1967)
Party: Nationalist (Coalition)
Duration: 9 February 1923 - 22 October 1929 (6 years, 8 months, 14 days)
About: He was a treasurer of the Nationalist Party. He implemented many reforms. His strategy of "men, money and markets" was an attempt to expand Australia's population and economic potential. His preference to industries brought him into continuous conflict with laborers. In 1929, he proposed to abolish the Commonwealth arbitration, which led to a change in alliance of his party members. Thus, he lost his position in the coming election.

Name: James Scullin (1876 - 1953)
Party: Labor
Term of Office: 22 October 1929 - 6 January 1932 (2 years, 2 months, 16 days)
About: After acquiring the post of the Prime Minister, there was a situation of great economical crisis. The stock market of Wall Street, US, faced a crash. It was the beginning of the Great Depression in the countries related to western industries. This seemed to be an overwhelming situation for him because the political situation was already weak. He tackled the situation by repaying foreign debt, providing relief to farmers, and creating economic stimulus to curb unemployment. The party faced a three-way split, which brought down the government in 1931. Scullin remained a leader figure despite his chaotic term of office.

Name: Joseph Lyons (1879 - 1939)
Party: United Australia (Coalition)
Duration: 6 January 1932 - 7 April 1939 (7 years, 3 months, 2 days)
About: Lyons came to power in 1932. He was powerful enough despite being short of four seats for the majority. In 1935, he was forced to take help of the Country Party into his government. He adopted the same financial policies as that of Scullin, cutting public spending and debt. Also, to his benefit, there was gradual recovery across the world. He tried to come to terms with dictator countries, but still took interest in military expansion. While in office, he died of a heart attack on 7 April 1939.

Name: Sir Earle Page (1880 - 1961)
Party: Country (Coalition)
Term of Office: 7 April 1939 - 26 April 1939 (20 days)
About: Earle Page was appointed as caretaker of the post of Prime Minister by the Governor General. He held office until the UAP elected their next leader, Robert Menzies. Page disliked him and accused him personally in the house for ministerial incompetence and labeled him as a coward for not joining the military in World War I.

Name: Robert Menzies (1894 - 1978)
Party: United Australia (Coalition)
Duration: 26 April 1939 - 28 August 1941 (2 years, 4 months, 4 days)
About: After being elected as Prime minister, almost immediately, he had to face crisis. Page accused him of ministerial incompetency as well as refused to work under him. Menzies reformed coalition with the successor of Page. On September 3, Britain and France declared war against Germany. He declared Australia's support to Britain. This marked the beginning of World War II. With the threats and effects of World War I looming large, people lost their faith in their leader. The Labor Party refused to form a war coalition and was not in favor of using Australian army for war. Menzies lost his position at home when he spent time discussing war strategies in Britain. On his return, he was forced to resign.

Name: Arthur Fadden (1894 - 1973)
Party: Country (Coalition)
Term of Office: 28 August 1941 - 7 October 1941 (1 month, 9 days )
About: After Menzies' resignation, Fadden was appointed as the new Prime Minister by UAP and Country Party. On 3rd October, the parliamentarians refused to support Fadden anymore. They were unhappy with the way Menzies was treated. Fadden had to resign. He called himself the Flood: "reigned for 40 days and 40 nights".

Name: John Curtin (1885 - 1945)
Party: Labor
Duration: 7 October 1941 - 5 July 1945 (3 years, 8 months, 29 days )
About: After Fadden's resignation, Curtin was appointed as Prime Minister by the then Governor General Lord Gowrie. It was in the middle of the World War II when Australia was under the threat of a Japanese attack. During this crucial time, Curtin successfully led Australia and is considered as one of the greatest Prime Ministers. He passed away when the peace was at the bay on 5th July 1945.

Name: Frank Forde (1890 - 1983)
Party: Labor
Term of Office: 6 July 1945 - 13 July 1945 (8 days )
About: Australia's 15th Prime Minister had the shortest term of office, counting to 8 days. On 13th July, an election was held to choose the leader which was lost by Forde, thus putting an end to his term.

Name: Ben Chifley (1885 - 1951)
Party: Labor
Duration: 13 July 1945 - 19 December 1949
About: In 1946, Chifley won against the Liberal Party (post World War II). The political approach came back to square one. Chifley came up with policies of having to improve the working condition, employment to everyone, and an equal opportunity for income. He successfully passed various medical allowances. He handled the economic condition after the war very tactfully. He started various welfare plans. He and his team of ministers planned war time economy in such a way that it minimized debts after war. His aim of nationalization of banks was turned down. He lost the elections of 1949 to the coalition by 48 seats.

Name: Sir Robert Menzies (1894 - 1978)
Party: Liberal (Coalition)
Term of Office: 19 December 1949 - 26 January 1966 (16 years, 1 month, 8 days)
About: The Liberal and Country Part coalition won the elections by 51%. Menzies was appointed as the Prime minister and leader of this coalition. He expected that his legislation to ban Communists would be rejected by the Senate, but the High Court rejected it, as it was against the establishment. His Banking Bill was not accepted by the Senate, and thus, provided him an opportunity to call for election. In the 1951 elections, the coalition won by 50.7 % and also won in the Senate. As an aftereffect of World War II, there was a war in Korea. Menzies sent the Australian Army for the war. There was a fear of Cold War which acted in his favor, and he won the elections. This led to a split in the Labor Party and Menzies' government came back to power in 1955 with increased majority. In 1958, he again won the elections very easily. By this time, the economic condition after the war was improving. Exporting of goods added to the national income as well. In 1961, Menzies narrowly won the elections by 49.5%. He used the differences in the Labor Party in his favor over the Cold War and American Alliance. He won his last elections in 1963 by an increased majority. He is the only Australian to be knighted as a Knight of the Order of the Thistle (1963). On 26th January 1966, celebrated as Australia Day, he resigned from his post, becoming the longest-serving Prime Minister.

Name: Harold Holt (1908 - 1967)
Party: Liberal (Coalition)
Duration: 26 January 1966 - 19 December 1967 (1 year, 10 months, 23 days )
About: Holt gained imperceptible support in federal elections. The coalition won by 56% votes, a huge margin in the history of Australia. However, Holt's term is characterized as one filled with maximum unrest. It was the era of the hottest Cold War. In this situation of turmoil, Holt brought in a reform, where aboriginals became a part of the Commonwealth. The most important turning point was the disappearance of Holt, and he being declared dead after two days.

Name: John McEwen (1900 - 1980)
Party: Country (Coalition)
Term of Office: 19 December 1967 - 10 January 1968 (23 days )
About: After Holt's death, McEwen was appointed as caretaker until the next elections. He was the oldest Prime Minister to be appointed at the age of 68. He was replaced by Gorton.

Name: John Gorton (1911 - 2002)
Party: Liberal (Coalition)
Duration: 10 January 1968 - 10 March 1971 (3 years, 2 months )
About: Gorton is the only Prime Minister who was a senator. He tried to distance Australia from Britain, but continued his country's support in the Vietnam War. Due to his habits of drinking and involvement in women, he lost trust of his close members. He finally resigned in 1971.

Name: William McMahon (1908 - 1988)
Party: Liberal (Coalition)
Term of Office: 10 March 1971 - 5 December 1972 (1 year, 8 months, 25 days )
About: McMahon was elected as the new leader of the Party and the Prime Minister. But he was struggling to keep up with the vigor and energy of the Labor Party. In June, he canceled a nuclear program planned by Gorton. McMahon called for elections on 2nd December, and he lost to the Labor Party.

Name: Gough Whitlam (1916 - present)
Party: Labor Party
Term of Office: 5 December 1972 - 11 November 1975 (2 years, 11 months, 7 days)
About: Whitlam won at the elections, but he lacked power at the Senate. After his holding of office, and till the whole cabinet was determined, Lance Barnard was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister. They banned sports teams who were involved in racial discrimination. Opposition at Senate, willing to control the Whitlam government, rejected many government bills. But re-elections were held resulted in the balancing of the power in both the houses. In mid-1974, Australia faced inflation leading to unemployment. Still the expenditure in the budget was more. The economic crisis continued, and the Governor General had to terminate Whitlam.

Name: Malcolm Fraser (1930 - present)
Party: Liberal (Coalition)
Duration: 11 November 1975 - 11 March 1983 (7 years, 4 months )
About: Fraser was very liberal with his approach. His efforts were spoiled by the increase in unemployment. But he was good at foreign policy and allowed more immigrants in Australia. He also allowed teams to go for the Olympics. However, he supported multiculturalism. In 1983, Fraser called for elections and coalition faced a severe loss. Fraser soon resigned after this event.

Name: Bob Hawke (1929 - present)
Party: Labor
Term of Office: 11 March 1983 - 20 December 1991 (8 years, 9 months, 9 days )
About: After holding the office, Hawke divided the Government into two tiers. He took a public role as a Prime Minister. Hawke and his treasurer Keating became the reason behind Australia's economic stability and increase in value of Australian Dollar. Being an unorthodox person he enacted various social reforms. He was seen as reformist. He resigned from the post after losing hold over his leadership.

Name: Paul Keating (1944 - present)
Party: Labor
Duration: 20 December 1991 - 11 March 1996 (4 years, 2 months, 20 days )
About: After taking charge, Keating had an extensive plan about balancing the relations with the aboriginals, economic and cultural relations with Asia, and changing the monarchy in Australia into a Republic. He focused on providing employment as it was the period of recession. Keating lost the following elections.

Name: John Howard (1939 - present)
Party: Liberal (Coalition)
Term of Office: 11 March 1996 - 3 December 2007 (11 years, 8 months, 22 days )
About: Howard was elected for three consecutive terms. He was very clear about how he would lead the country. He did not cater to the thought of republic. But he followed the orthodox view of being in power and believed in monarchy. He put forth the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States Security) Treaty after the terrorist attack of 11th September 2001. He served the nation for the second-longest term. He unfortunately lost the elections of 2007.

Name: Kevin Rudd (1957 - present)
Party: Labor
Duration: 3 December 2007 - 24 June 2010 (2 years, 6 months, 21 days )
About: After the World War II, Kevin was the first Labor Minister who did not mention monarch. He fell into controversies due to lack of management during financial crisis. Thus, he lost the leadership elections which were asked to be conducted by Julia Gillard in public. But understanding that he lacked support of his party members, he resigned from the post.

Name: Julia Gillard (1961 - present)
Party: Labor
Term of Office: 24 June 2010 - 27 June 2013 (3 years, 3 days )
About: Gillard became the first female Prime Minister. In the 2010 elections, Coalition and Labor Party won 72 seats each. Since 1940, this minority government formed the first hung parliament. Gillard resigned after losing the leadership challenge with Kevin Rudd in 2013.

Name: Kevin Rudd (1957 - present)
Party: Labor
Duration: 27 June 2010 - 18 September 2013 (2 months, 22 days )
About: After winning against Gillard, Kevin requested to conduct federal elections, which he lost to Abbott.

Name: Tony Abbott (1957 - present)
Party: Liberal (Coalition)
Term of Office: 18 September 2013 - till present day
About: Abbott canceled the Carbon Tax and started Operation Sovereign Borders. Abbott canceled 10,000 "Red Tape" regulations. He also invited the Chinese to participate in joint military exercises.