|13 July 1945 – 19 December 1949|
|Prime Minister||Ben Chifley|
|Deputy|| Frank Forde (1945–1946)|
H. V. Evatt (1946–1949)
|Origin||Chifley wins 1945 Labor leadership election|
|Demise||Lost 1949 election|
|Successor||Menzies Government (II)|
Term of Government (1945-1949)
The Chifley Government was the federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister Ben Chifley. It was made up of members of the Australian Labor Party in the Australian Parliament from 1945 to 1949.
When Labor Prime Minister John Curtin died towards the end of the Second World War in July 1945, Frank Forde served as Prime Minister from 6–13 July, before the party elected Ben Chifley as Curtin's successor.
Following his 1945 election as leader of the Australian Labor Party after the death of John Curtin, Chifley, a former railway engine driver, became Australia's 16th Prime Minister on 13 July 1945.The Second World War ended with the defeat of Japan in the Pacific just four weeks later. Chifley served as Prime Minister and Treasurer. To combat inflationary pressures, he proposed a continuation of wartime price and import controls, and rationing of scarce commodities.
Chifley went on to win the 1946 election. Labor won 43 House of Representatives seats, with 15 won by the newly formed Liberal Party of Australia led by Robert Menzies, and 11 by their coalition partner, the Country Party (a further 4 seats went to splinter parties). In the Senate, Labor won 16 seats and the Liberal–Country Party coalition won 3 seats.
Labor had sought to secure power over the supply of money and credit – amidst opposition from the private banks. The High Court of Australia invalidated part of his government's banking legislation, so in mid-1947 Chifley legislated to require at least local authorities and State governments to bank with the federally owned Commonwealth Bank. The Melbourne City Council successfully appealed against the legislation in the High Court. In response Chifley then proposed the total nationalisation of the banks. The move alarmed conservatives and Menzies said it foretold of a 'coming dictatorship in Australia'. Chifley told parliament the legislation would guard against both depression and inflation. Country Party leader Earle Page described the plan as a 'communist ramp'. The High Court declared the law unconstitutional and an appeal to the Privy Council upheld that ruling. Chifley nevertheless refused to repeal the law, and it remained a controversial issue at the 1949 election.
In the pursuit of centralist economic policy, the Chifley Government also confirmed the continuation of the wartime measure under which the Commonwealth was the sole collector of income tax. Major national projects were also instituted, including the Snowy Mountains Scheme and an assisted immigration program. Despite demobilisation of Australian forces following war's end, Australia faced a labour shortage and Minister for Immigration Arthur Calwell launched the post war migration program – intended to bring out mainly British migrants to augment the Australian population.
In foreign policy, attorney-general and minister for external affairs H V Evatt was active in the formation of the United Nations. Australia played a significant mediatory role in the early years of the United Nations, successfully lobbying for an increased role for smaller and middle-ranking nations, and a stronger commitment to employment rights into the U.N. Charter. Evatt was elected president of the third session of the United Nations General Assembly (September 1948 to May 1949).Internationally, the rise of Communism was a developing concern for many in Australia. Chifley sought to oppose the re-establishment of Dutch control of Indonesia and refused help to British efforts to quell the developing insurgency in Malaya. The Catholic-based "Movement" meanwhile campaigned strongly to drive Communists out of leadership positions in trade unions, prefiguring a coming split in the ALP over the growing influence of the Movement.
At the conference of the New South Wales Labor Party in June 1949, Chifley sought to define the labour movement as having:
[A] great objective – the light on the hill – which we aim to reach by working for the betterment of mankind... [Labor would] bring something better to the people, better standards of living, greater happiness to the mass of the people'.
With an increasingly uncertain economic outlook, and after his attempt to nationalise the banks, his government's continuation of some wartime controls, and a strike by the Communist-dominated Miners Federation, Chifley lost office at the 1949 federal election to Robert Menzies' Liberal-Country Party Coalition.The Liberal Party won 55 seats and its coalition partner the Country Party 19 in the House of Representatives, as opposed to Labor's 47 seats. Labor then commenced a 23-year period in opposition in the federal parliament.
The prime minister of Australia is the head of government of Australia. The prime minister is the leader of the federal government and is also accountable to federal parliament under the principles of responsible government. The incumbent prime minister is Scott Morrison, who took office in August 2018 as leader of the Liberal Party.
Sir Robert Gordon Menzies,, was an Australian politician who twice served as Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1949 to 1966. He played a central role in the creation of the Liberal Party of Australia, defining its policies and its broad outreach. He is Australia's longest-serving prime minister, serving over 18 years in total.
The United Australia Party (UAP) was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945. The party won four federal elections in that time, usually governing in coalition with the Country Party. It provided two Prime Ministers of Australia – Joseph Lyons (1932–1939) and Robert Menzies (1939–1941).
Joseph Benedict Chifley was an Australian politician who served as the 16th Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1945 to 1949. He was leader of the Labor Party from 1945 until his death.
Francis Michael Forde was an Australian politician who served as prime minister of Australia from 6 to 13 July 1945. He was the deputy leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) from 1932 to 1946. He served as prime minister in a caretaker capacity after the death of John Curtin, and is the shortest-serving prime minister in Australia's history.
Arthur Augustus Calwell KCSG was an Australian politician who served as the leader of the Labor Party from 1960 to 1967. He led the party to three federal elections without success.
Herbert Vere Evatt, was an Australian politician and judge. He served as leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Leader of the Opposition from 1951 to 1960, Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs from 1941 to 1949, and as a judge of the High Court of Australia from 1930 to 1940.
Edward James "Jack" Holloway was an Australian politician who served in the House of Representatives from 1929 to 1951, representing the Labor Party. He served as a government minister under James Scullin, John Curtin, Frank Forde, and Ben Chifley.
Australia suffered badly during the period of the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Depression began with the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and rapidly spread worldwide. As in other nations, Australia suffered years of high unemployment, poverty, low profits, deflation, plunging incomes, and lost opportunities for economic growth and personal advancement.
The history of Australia since 1945 has seen long periods of economic prosperity and the introduction of an expanded and multi-ethnic immigration program, which has coincided with moves away from Britain in political, social and cultural terms and towards increasing engagement with the United States and Asia.
The 1951 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 28 April 1951. All 121 seats in the House of Representatives and all 60 seats in the Senate were up for election, due to a double dissolution called after the Senate rejected the Commonwealth Bank Bill. The incumbent Liberal–Country coalition led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies defeated the opposition Labor Party led by Ben Chifley with a modestly reduced majority, and secured a majority in the Senate. This was the last time the Labor party ever held a Senate majority. Chifley died just over a month after the election.
The 1949 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 10 December 1949. All 121 seats in the House of Representatives and 42 of the 60 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Labor Party, led by Prime Minister Ben Chifley, was defeated by the opposition Liberal–Country coalition under Robert Menzies. Menzies became prime minister for a second time, his first term having ended in 1941. This election marked the end of the 8-year Curtin-Chifley Labor Government that had been in power since 1941 and started the 23-year Liberal/Country Coalition Government. This was the first time the Liberal party won government at the federal level.
The 1940 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 21 September 1940. All 74 seats in the House of Representatives and 19 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Coalition, consisting of the United Australia Party led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies and the Country Party led by Archie Cameron, defeated the opposition Labor Party under John Curtin despite losing the overall popular vote.
Although most Australian civilians lived far from the front line of World War II, the Australian home front during World War II played a significant role in the Allied victory and led to permanent changes to Australian society.
The Curtin Government was the federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister John Curtin. It was made up of members of the Australian Labor Party in the Australian Parliament from 1941 to 1945.
The Menzies Government (1939–1941) refers to the federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies. Menzies led the United Australia Party in the Australian Parliament from 1939–1941. Menzies served a later and longer term as Prime Minister as leader of a successor party, the Liberal Party of Australia from 1949–1966.
The Fadden Government was the federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister Arthur Fadden, as leader of the Country Party. He was appointed prime minister on 29 August 1941, during World War II, following the resignation of Robert Menzies of the United Australia Party (UAP). Fadden continued the coalition government between the Country Party and the UAP, but after just over one month in office the government was defeated on a confidence motion. Fadden was succeeded as prime minister on 7 October 1941 by John Curtin of the Australian Labor Party (ALP).
The history of the Australian Labor Party has its origins in the Labour parties founded in the 1890s in the Australian colonies prior to federation. Labor tradition ascribes the founding of Queensland Labour to a meeting of striking pastoral workers under a ghost gum tree in Barcaldine, Queensland in 1891. The Balmain, New South Wales branch of the party claims to be the oldest in Australia. Labour as a parliamentary party dates from 1891 in New South Wales and South Australia, 1893 in Queensland, and later in the other colonies.
The Australian Labor Party held a leadership election on 12 July 1945, following the death of Prime Minister John Curtin. Treasurer Ben Chifley won an absolute majority on the first ballot, defeating three other candidates – deputy leader and interim prime minister Frank Forde, navy minister Norman Makin, and attorney-general H. V. Evatt.
This page details numerous records and characteristics of individuals who have held the office of Prime Minister of Australia.