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Prime minister of Australia
Coat of Arms of Australia.svgSix Australian prime ministers – Forde, Curtin, Menzies, Hughes, Fadden and Holt – at a meeting of the Advisory War Council in 1940. Percy Spender (Minister for the Army) seated third from the right.

The youngest person to become prime minister was Chris Watson – 37,[40] who was also 37 when he ceased being prime minister. The oldest person to become prime minister was John McEwen – 67 as an interim prime minister,[41] otherwise William McMahon – 63.[42] Robert Menzies was the oldest person to ever be prime minister, leaving office at 71 years old.[43]

Honours

Prime Ministers have been granted numerous honours, typically after their period as Prime Minister has concluded, with a few exceptions. Prime Ministers were awarded honours within the British honours system before 1975, when appointment to the Order of Australia began. Only one former Prime Minister, John Howard, has been awarded a British Honour since 1975, being the Order of Merit (within the Queen's personal gift) in 2012.[44]

Nine former Prime Ministers were awarded knighthoods: Barton (GCMG, 1902),[45] Reid (GCMG, 1911),[46] Cook (GCMG, 1918),[47] Page (GCMG, 1938),[48] Menzies (KT, 1963),[49] Fadden (KCMG, 1951),[50] McEwen (GCMG, 1971),[51] Gorton (GCMG, 1977),[52] and McMahon (GCMG, 1977).[53] Of those awarded, Barton and Menzies were knighted whilst still serving as Prime Minister, with Page awarded his before becoming Prime Minister, and the remainder awarded after leaving office. Reid (GCB, 1916)[54], Menzies (AK, 1976)[55] and Fadden (GCMG, 1958)[56] were awarded a second knighthood after leaving office.

Non-titular honours were also bestowed on former Prime Ministers, usually the Order of the Companions of Honour. This honour was awarded to Bruce (1927),[57] Lyons (1936),[58] Hughes (1941),[59]

All except Cook and Bruce, as former Prime Ministers served in Parliament at the same time between Chifley succeeding Forde on 13 July 1945 and Forde losing his seat at the 1946 election. This marks the greatest number (six) of former prime ministers serving in Parliament concurrently at any one time.


Ben Chifley lived the least of all former prime ministers, as he died one year and six months after his term as prime minister.[38] All other deceased former prime ministers have lived at least another 10 years, with the longest surviving former prime minister being Gough Whitlam, who lived 38 years and 11 months after office, surpassing Stanley Bruce's previous record of 37 years and 10 months.[39]

Ben Chifley lived the least of all former prime ministers, as he died one year and six months after his term as prime minister.[38] All other deceased former prime ministers have lived at least another 10 years, with the longest surviving former prime minister being Gough Whitlam, who lived 38 years and 11 months after office, surpassing Stanley Bruce's previous record of 37 years and 10 months.[39]

The youngest person to become prime minister was Chris Watson – 37,[40] who was also 37 when he ceased being prime minister. The oldest person to become prime minister was John McEwen – 67 as an interim prime minister,[41] otherwise William McMahon – 63.[42] Robert Menzies was the oldest person to ever be prime minister, leaving office at 71 years old.[43]

Honours

Prime Ministers have been granted numerous honours, typically after their period as Prime Minister has concluded, with a few exceptions. Prime Ministers were awarded honours within the British honours system before 1975, when appointment to the Order of Australia began. Only one former Prime Minister, John Howard, has been awarded a British Honour since 1975, being the Order of Merit (within the Queen's personal gift) in 2012.[44]

Nine former Prime Ministers were awarded knighthoods: Barton (GCMG, 1902),[45] Reid (GCMG, 1911),British honours system before 1975, when appointment to the Order of Australia began. Only one former Prime Minister, John Howard, has been awarded a British Honour since 1975, being the Order of Merit (within the Queen's personal gift) in 2012.[44]

Nine former Prime Ministers were awarded knighthoods: Barton (GCMG, 1902),[45] Reid (GCMG, 1911),GCMG, 1902),[45] Reid (GCMG, 1911),[46] Cook (GCMG, 1918),[47] Page (GCMG, 1938),[48] Menzies (KT, 1963),[49] Fadden (KCMG, 1951),[50] McEwen (GCMG, 1971),[51] Gorton (GCMG, 1977),[52] and McMahon (GCMG, 1977).[53] Of those awarded, Barton and Menzies were knighted whilst still serving as Prime Minister, with Page awarded his before becoming Prime Minister, and the remainder awarded after leaving office. Reid (GCB, 1916)[54], Menzies (AK, 1976)[55] and Fadden (GCMG, 1958)[56] were awarded a second knighthood after leaving office.

Non-titular honours were also bestowed on former Prime Ministers, usually the Order of the Companions of Honour. This honour was awarded to Bruce (1927),[57] Lyons (1936),[58] Hughes (1941),[59] Page (1942),[60] Menzies (1951),[61] Holt (1967),[62] McEwen (1969),[63] Gorton (1971),[64] McMahon (1972),[65] and Fraser (1977),[66] mostly during office as Prime Minister. John Howard was appointed to the Order of Merit in 2012.

In almost all occasions these honours were only accepted by non-Labor/conservative Prime Ministers. However, appointment to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom was accepted by all Prime Ministers until 1983 (with the exception of Alfred Deakin, Chris Watson and Gough Whitlam), with Malcolm Fraser being the last Prime Ministerial appointee.

Since its introduction in 1975, former Prime Ministers of Australia have been appointed to the Order of Australia and to its highest level – Companion: Whitlam (1978),[67] Fraser (1988),[68] Gorton (1988),[69] Howard (2008),[70] Gillard (2017),[71] Rudd (2019),[72] and Abbott (2020).[73] Keating refused appointment in 1997.[74] Bob Hawke was appointed a Companion in 1979, for service to trade unionism and industrial relations, before becoming Prime Minister in 1983.[75] Menzies was appointed to the higher grade of Knight of the Order, which is no longer awarded, in 1976.

In addition to these honours, all deceased former Prime Ministers of Australia currently have federal electorates named after them, with the exceptions of Joseph Cook (a Division of Cook does exist, but it is only named after explorer James Cook) and the recently late Bob Hawke.

The longest-serving prime minister was Sir Robert Menzies, who served in office twice: from 26 April 1939 to 28 August 1941, and again from 19 December 1949 to 26 January 1966. In total Robert Menzies spent 18 years, 5 months and 12 days in office. He served under the United Australia Party and the Liberal Party respectively.

The shortest-serving prime minister was Frank Forde, who was appointed to the position on 6 July 1945 after the death of John Curtin, and served until 13 July 1945 when Ben Chifley was elected leader of the Australian Labor Party.

The last prime minister to serve out a full government term in the office was John Howard, who won the 2004 election and led his party to the 2007 election, but lost. Since then, the five subsequent prime ministers have been either voted out of the office mid-term by the caucuses of their own parties, assumed the office mid-term under such circumstances, or both.

Frank Forde, who was appointed to the position on 6 July 1945 after the death of John Curtin, and served until 13 July 1945 when Ben Chifley was elected leader of the Australian Labor Party.

The last prime minister to serve out a full government term in the office was John Howard, who won the 2004 election and led his party to the 2007 election, but lost. Since then, the five subsequent prime ministers have been either voted out of the office mid-term by the caucuses of their own parties, assumed the office mid-term under such circumstances, or both.

No. Name
(birth–death)
Portrait Party Term of office Elections won Ministry