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Arthur Fadden
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Arthur Fadden

Sir Arthur William Fadden (April 13 1894 - April 21 1973), Australian politician and 13th Prime Minister of Australia, born at Ingham in northern Queensland, the son of a Presbyterian police officer. He was educated as state schools, and later studied accountancy while working as a clerk. Once he had qualified he became asisistant Town Clerk of Mackay, then Town Clerk. In the 1920s he established a successful accountancy firm with offices in Brisbane and Townsville. He was active in the Country Party from its foundation.

In 1932 Fadden was elected for one term to the Queensland Legislative Assembly. He was defeated in 1935 but the following year he was won a by-election in the federal seat of Darling Downs. He was blunt, effective debater and soon made an impression. When Archie Cameron resigned suddenly as Country Party leader in 1940, there was a deadlock between Earle Page and John McEwen in the ballot to replace him, and Fadden was chosen as a compromise candidate. He was appointed Minister for Supply and Development, then Minister for Air, then Treasurer (finance minister).

In August 1941 Robert Menzies resigned as Prime Minister. The United Australia Party was so bereft of leadership by this time that Fadden was invited to become Prime Minister, although the Country Party was the smaller of the two conservative parties. But the two independent MPs who were keeping the government in office were so disgusted at the way Menzies had been treated that they voted against Fadden's budget, and in October he resigned: Labor under John Curtin then took office. Fadden joked that he was like the Flood: he had reigned for 40 days and 40 nights.

Fadden continued as Opposition Leader, and led the conservatives to a crushing defeat in the 1943 elections. He then handed the Opposition leadership back to Menzies and his new Liberal Party, while remaining Country Party leader. Always an outspoken conservative, in the late 1940s he became a violent anti-communist, urging Menzies to adopt the policy of banning the Communist Party.

When Menzies won the 1949 elections, Fadden once again became Treasurer, a post he held for eight years. Although inflation was very high in the early 1950s, forcing him to impose several "horror budgets," he generally presided over a booming economy, with times especially good for farmers. He was a loyal deputy to Menzies and was knighted in 1951. His extreme political views were concealed behind a jolly public manner and he enjoyed his nickname "Artie." He retired in 1958 and lived quietly until his death in 1973.

Further Reading

Preceded by:
Robert Menzies
Prime Ministers of Australia Followed by:
John Curtin
Preceded by:
Archie Cameron
Leaders of the
Country Party
Followed by:
John McEwen