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People of the Liberal Party:
John Gorton


    Prime Minister from 10 January 1968 to 10 March 1971


    John Grey Gorton was born on 9 September, 1911 in Melbourne. He was educated in Sydney at North Shore's Church of England Grammar School, before moving to Geelong Grammar School.

    Gorton later studied Economics, Politics and History at Brasenose College, Oxford University.

    In his spare time Gorton became a pilot. In World War II, he enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force. Gorton was shot down twice. He was badly wounded and after the war Gorton underwent plastic surgery to rebuild his shattered lower face.

    In 1949, he was elected to the Senate. Nine years later, he was appointed Minister for the Navy.

    He held a variety of positions after this including: Minister for Works and also Education, before becoming leader of the senate under Harold Holt.

    When Holt disappeared in December 1967, Gorton did not appear a likely candidate as leader, as he was in the Senate. However, when Country Party leader John McEwen refused to work with the likely Billy McMahon, Gorton became Prime Minister.

    Gorton was a well liked Prime Minister who had a touch of the larrikin about him. He was not however as popular with his party, often criticised for making decisions without consulting relevant portfolios.

    He survived a strong swing to the ALP in the 1969 elections against Gough Whitlam, and just survived a leadership challenge.

    In March 1971, Fraser became disenchanted with Gorton's style of leadership and told Parliament "He is not fit to hold the great office of Prime Minister." The next day Gorton and William McMahon drew even in a party room ballot for the leadership. Gorton used his casting vote to see McMahon become the Prime Minister. Fraser was seen as instrumental in Gorton's defeat.

    Gorton was elected deputy leader, and Minister of Defence. McMahon later demanded his resignation for disloyalty after a series of articles written by Gorton.

    In 1975, Gorton resigned from the Liberal Party, and stood as an Independent. He failed to get elected. He was a fierce critic of the Fraser Government.

    Gorton, recently celebrated his 90th birthday in Sydney and was well attended by people of all political persuasions.


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Written and Authorised by A.Molloy, PO Box 669, Double Bay, 2028.
Responsibility for Election Commentary taken by A.Molloy, PO Box 669, Double Bay, 2028.
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