Deputy Prime Minister of Australia

Last updated

Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
Michael McCormack 2018-02 (cropped).jpg
Incumbent
Michael McCormack

since 26 February 2018
Australian Government
Style The Honourable
Reports to Prime Minister of Australia
Seat Canberra
Appointer Governor-General of Australia, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister
Term length At the Governor-General's pleasure
Inaugural holder John McEwen
Formation10 January 1968 (first gazetted)
SalaryAU$416,212 (since 2017)
Website dpm.gov.au
Coat of Arms of Australia.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Australia

The Deputy Prime Minister of Australia is the second-most senior officer in the Government of Australia. The office of Deputy Prime Minister was officially created as a ministerial portfolio in 1968, although the title had been used informally for many years previously. The Deputy Prime Minister is appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. When Australia has a Labor Government, the deputy leader of the parliamentary party holds the position of Deputy Prime Minister. When Australia has a Coalition Government (as it does now), the Coalition Agreement mandates that all Coalition members support the leader of the Liberal Party becoming Prime Minister and mandates that the leader of the National Party be selected as Deputy Prime Minister. [1]

Contents

The present office-holder, Michael McCormack, was elected Leader of the National Party on Monday 26 February 2018 [2] at a meeting at which the resignations of his predecessor, Barnaby Joyce, became effective. [3] [4] [5] Joyce resigned following controversies over his actions [3] and returned to the back bench. [6] McCormack was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister later the same day. [7]

The 2017–18 Australian parliamentary eligibility crisis resulted in the position being made vacant for the first time since its official creation. Barnaby Joyce, the then-incumbent, was ruled ineligible to be a member of parliament by the High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns on 27 October 2017, as he held New Zealand citizenship at the time of his election in contravention of Section 44 of the Constitution of Australia. [8] [9] Joyce regained the position on 6 December 2017 [10] after he won the by-election for the seat of New England several days earlier. [9]

History

Prime Minister John McEwen with John Gorton on 9 January 1968. The following day, Gorton was sworn in as Prime Minister, and McEwen became the inaugural Deputy Prime Minister. McEwen And Gorton.jpg
Prime Minister John McEwen with John Gorton on 9 January 1968. The following day, Gorton was sworn in as Prime Minister, and McEwen became the inaugural Deputy Prime Minister.

Originally the position of deputy Prime Minister was an unofficial or honorary position accorded to the second-highest ranking minister in the government. The unofficial position acquired more significance following the 1922 federal election, which saw the governing Nationalist Party lose its parliamentary majority. The Nationalists eventually reached a coalition agreement with the Country Party, which called for Country Party leader Earle Page to take the second rank in the Nationalist-led ministry of Stanley Bruce. While Page's only official title was Treasurer, he was considered as a deputy to Bruce. [11]

From then until 1968, the Coalition agreement between the Liberals (and their predecessors) and Country Party called for the leader of the Country Party (subsequently the National Party) to rank second in Cabinet. That continues to be case when the Coalition is in government. [1] In the case of Labor governments, the party's deputy leader ranks second in Cabinet.

On 19 December 1967, John McEwen, the long-serving leader of the Country Party in the Coalition government, was sworn in as interim Prime Minister following the sudden death in office of Prime Minister Harold Holt. (There was discussion that deputy Liberal leader and Treasurer William McMahon should assume the office. McMahon had planned a party room meeting on 20 December to elect a new leader, intending to stand for the position himself. However, this was pre-empted by McEwen who publicly declared on the morning of 18 December that he would not serve in a McMahon government.) McEwen was sworn in as Prime Minister on the understanding that his commission would continue only so long as it took for the Liberals to elect a new leader. Governor-General Lord Casey also accepted the view put to him by McEwen that to commission a Liberal temporarily as Prime Minister would give that person an unfair advantage in the forthcoming party room ballot for the permanent leader. McEwen's appointment was in keeping with the previous occasion when the main non-Labor party was without a leader; Earle Page of the Country Party was interim Prime Minister between 7 and 26 April 1939—the period between Joseph Lyons' sudden death and the United Australia Party naming Robert Menzies his successor.

The Liberal leadership ballot was rescheduled for 9 January 1968. As it turned out, McMahon did not stand, and Senator John Gorton was elected, replacing McEwen as Prime Minister on 10 January 1968. [12] McEwen reverted to his previous status as the second-ranking member of the government, as per the Coalition agreement. He had unofficially been Deputy Prime Minister since becoming Country Party leader in 1958, and since 1966 had exercised an effective veto over government policy by virtue of being the longest-serving member of the government; he had been a member of the Coalition frontbench without interruption since 1937. To acknowledge McEwen's long service and his status as the second-ranking member of the government, Gorton formally created the post of Deputy Prime Minister, with McEwen as the first holder of the post.

Since 1968 only two Deputy Prime Ministers have gone on to become Prime Minister: Paul Keating and Julia Gillard. In both cases, they succeeded incumbent Prime Ministers who lost the support of their party caucus mid-term and their election as party leader preceded their predecessor's resignations and their subsequent appointments as Prime Minister. Frank Forde, who had been deputy Labor leader when John Curtin died, was interim Prime Minister between 6 and 13 July 1945, when a leadership ballot took place that elected Ben Chifley as Curtin's successor.

In November 2007, when the Australian Labor Party won government, Julia Gillard became Australia's first female, and first foreign-born, Deputy Prime Minister.

In 2017, the position became vacant for a period of 40 days, the only time in its history when it has been unoccupied. As part of the 2017–18 Australian parliamentary eligibility crisis, it emerged that the then-incumbent Barnaby Joyce was a citizen of New Zealand by descent ( jus sanguinis by right of blood) at the time of the 2016 federal election. [13] Joyce told the House of Representatives that he was advised of his citizenship status on 10 August 2017 by the New Zealand High Commission [14] and his renunciation of his dual citizenship became effective on 15 August 2017. [15] Nevertheless, he asked for his case to be referred to the High Court of Australia (sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns) for adjudication, [13] and they ruled that his election was invalid under section 44 of the Constitution of Australia. [8] [9] The government immediately issued writs for a by-election for the seat of New England to be held on 2 December 2017, which Joyce won easily. [9] Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove re-appointed Joyce as Deputy Prime Minister on 6 December 2017. [10]

In practice, only National party leaders or Labor Party deputy leaders have held the position.

Duties

The duties of the Deputy Prime Minister are to act on behalf of the Prime Minister in his or her absence overseas or on leave. The Deputy Prime Minister has always been a member of the Cabinet, and has always held at least one substantive portfolio. (It would be technically possible for a minister to hold only the portfolio of Deputy Prime Minister, but this has never happened).

If the Prime Minister were to die, become incapacitated or resign, the Governor-General would normally appoint the Deputy Prime Minister as Prime Minister on an interim basis until the governing party elects a new leader, but is not obligated to do so. This has not occurred since the office was created as a portfolio in 1968.

Salary

Members of parliament receive a base salary of $203,030, which is set by the Remuneration Tribunal (an independent statutory authority). Government ministers receive an additional amount, which is determined by the government itself based on the recommendations of the Remuneration Tribunal. [16] The deputy prime minister receives an additional 105 percent of the base salary, making for a total salary of $416,212. [17] The holder of the office also receives various other allowances and entitlements. [16]

List of Deputy Prime Ministers of Australia

The following individuals have been officially appointed as Deputy Prime Minister of Australia since the office of Deputy Prime Minister was created as a ministerial portfolio in 1968: [18] [19]

#Deputy Prime MinisterParty affiliation
and position
Portfolio(s)Term startTerm endTerm in officePrime Minister
1 John McEwen Sir John McEwen.jpg   Country
Leader 1958–71
Trade and Industry 10 January 19685 February 19713 years, 26 days  John Gorton
2 Doug Anthony Doug Anthony.jpg   Country
Leader 1971–84
Trade and Industry 5 February 197110 March 19711 year, 304 days 
 10 March 19715 December 1972  William McMahon
3 Lance Barnard LanceBarnard1967.jpg   Labor
Deputy Leader 1967–74
Defence 5 December 197212 June 19741 year, 189 days  Gough Whitlam
4 Jim Cairns Jim Cairns.jpg   Labor
Deputy Leader 1974–75
Treasurer 12 June 19742 July 19751 year, 20 days
5 Frank Crean FrankCrean1967.jpg   Labor
Deputy Leader 1975
Overseas Trade 2 July 197511 November 1975132 days
(2) Doug Anthony Doug Anthony.jpg   Country National
Leader 1971–84
Trade and Industry 12 November 197511 March 19837 years, 119 days  Malcolm Fraser
6 Lionel Bowen Lionel Bowen.jpg   Labor
Deputy Leader 1977–90
Trade
Attorney-General
11 March 19834 April 19907 years, 24 days  Bob Hawke
7 Paul Keating Paul Keating 1985.jpg   Labor
Deputy Leader 1990–91
Treasurer 4 April 19903 June 19911 year, 60 days 
8 Brian Howe Second Keating Cabinet 1994 (cropped Howe).jpg   Labor
Deputy Leader 1991–95
Health
Housing
Community Services
Local Government
Regional Affairs
3 June 199120 December 19914 years, 17 days 
 20 December 199120 June 1995  Paul Keating
9 Kim Beazley Kim Beazley crop.jpg   Labor
Deputy Leader 1995–96
Finance 20 June 199511 March 1996265 days 
10 Tim Fischer Tim Fischer.jpg   National
Leader 1990–99
Trade 11 March 199620 July 19993 years, 131 days  John Howard
11 John Anderson John Anderson 2001 (cropped).jpg   National
Leader 1999–2005
Transport and Regional Development 20 July 19996 July 20055 years, 351 days
12 Mark Vaile Mark Vaile (TM).jpg   National
Leader 2005–7
Minister for Trade
Transport and Regional Services
6 July 20053 December 20072 years, 150 days
13 Julia Gillard Julia Gillard 2010.jpg   Labor
Deputy Leader 2006–10
Employment and Workplace Relations
Education
Social Inclusion
3 December 200724 June 20102 years, 203 days  Kevin Rudd
14 Wayne Swan Treasurer Wayne Swan, 2009, crop.jpg   Labor
Deputy Leader 2010–13
Treasurer 24 June 201027 June 20133 years, 3 days  Julia Gillard
15 Anthony Albanese   Labor
Deputy Leader 2013
Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Infrastructure and Transport
27 June 201318 September 201383 days Kevin Rudd
16 Warren Truss Warren Truss Portrait 2010.jpg   National
Leader 2007–16
Infrastructure and Regional Development 18 September 201315 September 20152 years, 153 days  Tony Abbott
15 September 201518 February 2016 Malcolm Turnbull
17 Barnaby Joyce Barnaby Joyce Portrait 2010.jpg   National
Leader 2016–18
Agriculture and Water Resources
Resources and Northern Australia
(25 July 2017 27 October 2017)
18 February 201627 October 20172 years, 8 days
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
(from 20 December 2017)
6 December 201726 February 2018
18 Michael McCormack Michael McCormack 2018-02 (cropped).jpg   National
Leader 2018–Present
Infrastructure and Transport
Defence Personnel
(until 5 March 2018)
Veterans' Affairs (until 5 March 2018)
26 February 201824 August 20182 years, 94 days
24 August 2018Incumbent Scott Morrison

Living former Deputy Prime Ministers

As of May 2020, there are 11 living former Deputy Prime Ministers of Australia, the oldest being Doug Anthony (born 1929). The most recent former deputy prime minister to die was Tim Fischer (1996–1999), on 22 August 2019.

Informal Deputy Prime Ministers

The office of Deputy Prime Minister was created in January 1968 but prior to that time the term was used unofficially for the second-highest ranking minister in the government.

NamePictureTerm of officePolitical party and positionMinisterial OfficesPrime Minister
Alfred Deakin AlfredDeakinA-G.jpg 19011903 Protectionist Party
Deputy Leader 1901–03
Attorney-General
Acting Prime Minister 1902
Edmund Barton
William Lyne Williamlyne.jpg 19031904Protectionist Party
Deputy Leader 1901–09
Minister for Trade and Customs Alfred Deakin
Gregor McGregor Gregor McGregor1.jpg 19041904 Australian Labor Party
Deputy Leader 1901–14
Vice-President of the Executive Council Chris Watson
Allan McLean 19Allanmclean.jpg 19041905 Protectionist Party Minister for Trade and Customs George Reid
William Lyne Williamlyne.jpg 19051908Protectionist Party
Deputy Leader 1901–09
Minister for Trade and Customs
Treasurer
Alfred Deakin
Gregor McGregor Gregor McGregor1.jpg 19081909Australian Labor Party
Deputy Leader 1901–14
Vice-President of the Executive Council Andrew Fisher
Joseph Cook Joseph Cook - Broothorn Studios.jpg 19091910 Commonwealth Liberal Party
Deputy Leader 1909–13
Minister for Defence Alfred Deakin
Gregor McGregor Gregor McGregor1.jpg 19101913Australian Labor Party
Deputy Leader 1901–14
Vice-President of the Executive Council Andrew Fisher
John Forrest JohnForrest1909.jpg 19131914Commonwealth Liberal Party
Deputy Leader 1913–16
Treasurer Joseph Cook
Billy Hughes Billy Hughes 1915.jpg 19141915Australian Labor Party
Deputy Leader 1914–15
Attorney-General
Acting Prime Minister 1915
Andrew Fisher
George Pearce Sir George Pearce.jpg 19151916Australian Labor Party
Deputy Leader 1915–16
Minister for Defence
Acting Prime Minister 1916
Billy Hughes
19161917 National Labor Party
Deputy Leader 1916–17
William Watt 24Williamwatt.jpg 19181920 Nationalist
Deputy Leader 1918–20
Treasurer
Acting Prime Minister 1918–19
Joseph Cook Sir Joseph Cook.jpg 19171921 Nationalist
Deputy Leader 1920–21
Minister for the Navy
Treasurer
acting Prime Minister May–September 1921
Earle Page Earle Page 1920.jpg 19231929 Country Party
Leader 1921–39
Treasurer Stanley Bruce
Ted Theodore Ted Theodore 1931.jpg 19291932Australian Labor Party
Deputy Leader 1929–32
Treasurer James Scullin
James Fenton James Fenton.jpg 19301931Australian Labor Party
Temporary Leader 1929–32
Acting Prime Minister 1930–31 James Scullin
John Latham Johnlatham.jpg 19321934 United Australia Party
Deputy Leader 1932–34
Attorney-General
Minister for External Affairs
Minister for Industry
Joseph Lyons
George Pearce Sir George Pearce.jpg 19341934United Australia Party
Deputy Leader 1934
Minister for External Affairs
Minister in Charge of Territories
Earle Page Earle Page.jpg 19341939Country Party
Leader 1921–39
Minister for Commerce
Minister for Health
Archie Cameron Archie Cameron 1940.jpg 19401940Country Party
Leader 1939–40
Postmaster-General
Minister for Commerce
Minister for the Navy
Robert Menzies
Arthur Fadden FaddenPEO.jpg 19401941Country Party
Leader 1940–58
Minister for the Air
Minister for Civil Aviation
Treasurer
Acting Prime Minister 1940
Robert Menzies Robert Menzies in 1939.jpg 19411941United Australia Party
Leader 1939–41
Minister for Defence Co-ordination Arthur Fadden
Frank Forde Frank Forde 1941 crop.jpg 19411946Australian Labor Party
Deputy Leader 1932–46
Minister for the Army
Minister for Defence
Acting Prime Minister April–July 1944, November 1944 – January 1945, Prime Minister for one week in 1945
John Curtin
Ben Chifley
H. V. Evatt Herbert V. Evatt.jpg 19461949Australian Labor Party
Deputy Leader 1946–51
Minister for External Affairs
Attorney-General
Arthur Fadden Arthur Fadden.jpg 19491958Country Party
Leader 1940–58
Treasurer Robert Menzies
John McEwen John McEwen 1957.jpg 19581967Country Party
Leader 1958–71
Minister for Trade and Industry
Acting Prime Minister June–July 1965
Harold Holt

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