Arthur Fadden

Sir Arthur William Fadden, GCMG, PC (13 April 1894  21 April 1973) was an Australian politician who served as Prime Minister of Australia from 29 August to 7 October 1941. He was the leader of the Country Party from 1940 to 1958.


Sir Arthur Fadden

Fadden in 1940
13th Prime Minister of Australia
In office
29 August 1941  7 October 1941
MonarchGeorge VI
Governor-GeneralLord Gowrie
Preceded byRobert Menzies
Succeeded byJohn Curtin
Leader of the Opposition
In office
7 October 1941  23 September 1943
Prime MinisterJohn Curtin
Preceded byJohn Curtin
Succeeded byRobert Menzies
Treasurer of Australia
In office
28 October 1940  7 October 1941
Prime MinisterRobert Menzies
Arthur Fadden
Preceded byPercy Spender
Succeeded byBen Chifley
In office
19 December 1949  9 December 1958
Prime MinisterRobert Menzies
Preceded byBen Chifley
Succeeded byHarold Holt
Leader of the Country Party
Elections: 1943, 1946, 1949, 1951, 1954, 1955
In office
12 March 1941  26 March 1958
DeputyJohn McEwen
Preceded byArchie Cameron
Succeeded byJohn McEwen
Deputy Leader of the Country Party[lower-alpha 1]
In office
16 October 1940  12 March 1941
LeaderVacant
Preceded byHarold Thorby
Succeeded byJohn McEwen
Federal electorates
Member of Parliament for
McPherson
In office
10 December 1949  14 October 1958
Preceded byNew seat
Succeeded byCharles Barnes
Member of Parliament for
Darling Downs
In office
6 November 1936  10 December 1949
Preceded byLittleton Groom
Succeeded byReginald Swartz
State electorates
Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly for Kennedy
In office
11 June 1932  11 May 1935
Preceded byHarry Bruce
Succeeded byCecil Jesson
Personal details
Born
Arthur William Fadden

(1894-04-13)13 April 1894
Ingham, Queensland Colony, British Empire
Died21 April 1973(1973-04-21) (aged 79)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Resting placeMount Thompson Crematorium
Political partyCountry (from 1936)
Other political
affiliations
CPNP (until 1936)
Spouse(s)
Ilma Thornber
(m. 1916)
Children4
EducationWalkerston State School
OccupationAccountant

Fadden was born in Ingham, Queensland, to Irish immigrant parents. He was raised in Walkerston, and left school at the age of 15. He was appointed town clerk of Mackay in 1916, but following the 1918 cyclone moved to Townsville and opened an accountancy firm. He was elected to the Townsville City Council in 1930, and in 1932 was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly for the Country and Progressive National Party. Fadden lost his seat in 1935, but the following year won a by-election to the federal Division of Darling Downs.

In March 1940, Fadden was named a minister without portfolio in the government of Robert Menzies, who led the United Australia Party in a coalition with the Country Party. A few months later, following the deaths of three senior ministers in an air crash, he took over as Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation. In October 1940, Fadden replaced Harold Thorby as deputy leader of the Country Party. The leadership was vacant at the time, following Archie Cameron's resignation, so Fadden became acting leader of the party and de facto deputy prime minister. Menzies subsequently promoted him to Treasurer of Australia.

Fadden served as acting prime minister for four months early in 1941 (while Menzies was away in Europe), and became popular for his conciliatory manner. He became the official leader of the Country Party following a ballot in March 1941. In August 1941, Menzies resigned as prime minister after losing the confidence of his ministry. Fadden was elected leader of the UAP–Country coalition in his place, and consequently became prime minister. However, he held office for just 39 days before being replaced by John Curtin, whose Labor Party had successfully moved a motion of no confidence. After losing the prime ministership, Fadden continued on as Leader of the Opposition for two more years. He eventually resigned in favour of Menzies following the coalition's massive defeat at the 1943 election.

When Menzies returned as prime minister in 1949, Fadden became Treasurer for a second time, holding office until his retirement from politics in 1958. Only Peter Costello has served in the position for longer. Fadden enjoyed one of the most rapid rises in Australian political history, moving from private citizen to the prime ministership in just 11 years. He was the first prime minister born in Queensland, and the first and only member of the Country Party to become prime minister with his own mandate (rather than just serving as a caretaker after the death of a predecessor).