Spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia

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Spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia
Incumbent
Margie Abbott

since 18 September 2013
Residence The Lodge
Inaugural holder Jane Barton
Formation 1 January 1901
Enid and Joseph Lyons in the 1930s.
Robert and Pattie Menzies in the 1940s
John and Bettina Gorton in the 1950s.

The Spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia is an unofficial title, which, by convention, is the host or hostess of The Lodge and Kirribilli House. The position has gained significance since the 1960s, with the Prime Ministerial Spouse acting as a key national figure in social activism. On top of assisting the Prime Minister in welcoming foreign dignitaries to Parliament House and the official residences, the Spouse of the Prime Minister also has the role as an advisor to his or her spouse.[1] Until the tenure of the 27th Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, the post had always been filled by a woman; Tim Mathieson was Gillard's de facto partner. Margie Abbott is the incumbent spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia.

Current[edit]

The current spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia is Margie Abbott, who assumed the role when her husband became the Prime Minister of Australia on 18 September 2013. There are currently five living spouses of former prime ministers of Australia:

The most recent spouse of an Australian prime minister to die was Hazel Hawke (ex-wife of Bob Hawke), on 23 May 2013.[2]

Activities[edit]

The Prime Minister's spouse has no official duties. Some earlier spouses stayed mainly at home and took little part in public life.[3]

However, most recent Prime Ministers' spouses have been involved in charities or community organisations, working to raise public awareness, funds, and support for a range of causes. They generally assist their partners in political campaigns, and participate in official duties that come with the position, such as hosting foreign dignitaries, and, in particular, entertaining the spouses of dignitaries; accompanying the Prime Ministers on national and international trips; attending conferences and functions; and speaking in public, particularly in the Prime Minister's constituency.[4] They have attended the opening of Parliament; hosted visitors at The Lodge and Kirribilli House; visited Buckingham Palace, the White House, or the Japanese Imperial Palace; and been present at royal coronations and conferences.[4]

Others were preoccupied with rearing children, most notably Dame Enid Lyons (1932–39), who had 12 children (one died in infancy). Despite her maternal role, she is the only Prime Minister's spouse to have gone into politics in her own right. In 1943, four years after her husband's death in office, she was the first woman to be elected to the House of Representatives. She was a junior minister in the Menzies Government from 1949 to 1951.

Official recognition[edit]

Some Prime Ministers' spouses have received official recognition for their services to the community:

Tamie Fraser was the first spouse of a Prime Minister to be provided with an official secretary for dealing with her correspondence.[7]

Table[edit]

No. Prime Minister Term start Term end Spouse Born Died
1 (Sir) Edmund Barton [8] 1 January 1901 24 September 1903 Jane Barton (Lady Barton) [8] 11 June 1851[9] 23 March 1938
2 Alfred Deakin 24 September 1903
5 July 1905
2 June 1909
27 April 1904
13 November 1908
29 April 1910
Pattie Deakin [5][6][10] 1 January 1863 [5] 30 December 1934
[5][6]
3 Chris Watson 27 April 1904 18 August 1904 Ada Watson 1859 19 April 1921
4 George Reid 18 August 1904 5 July 1905 Flora Reid [11] 10 November 1867 1 September 1950
5 Andrew Fisher 13 November 1908
29 April 1910
17 September 1914
2 June 1909
24 June 1913
27 October 1915
Margaret Fisher 1868[9] 15 June 1958
6 Joseph Cook 24 June 1913 17 September 1914 Mary Cook [12] c. 1863 24 September 1950
7 Billy Hughes 27 October 1915 9 February 1923 (Dame) Mary Hughes [13] 6 June 1874 2 April 1958
8 Stanley Bruce 9 February 1923 22 October 1929 Ethel Bruce [14] 25 May 1879 16 March 1967
9 James Scullin 22 October 1929 6 January 1932 Sarah Scullin 1882 31 May 1962
10 Joseph Lyons 6 January 1932 7 April 1939 (Dame) Enid Lyons [15] 9 July 1897 2 September 1981
11 Sir Earle Page [16] 7 April 1939 26 April 1939 Lady (Ethel) Page [16] 1875 26 May 1958 [17]
12 (Sir) Robert Menzies [18] 26 April 1939
19 December 1949
28 August 1941
26 January 1966
(Dame) Pattie Menzies [19] 2 March 1899 30 August 1995
13 Arthur Fadden 28 August 1941 7 October 1941 Ilma Fadden [20] c. 1895[9] 14 May 1987
14 John Curtin 7 October 1941 5 July 1945 Elsie Curtin 4 October 1890[9] 24 June 1975
15 Frank Forde 6 July 1945 13 July 1945 Vera Forde c. 1894 1967
16 Ben Chifley 13 July 1945 19 December 1949 Elizabeth Chifley 1 August 1886 9 September 1962
17 Harold Holt 26 January 1966 19 December 1967 Zara Holt [21] 10 March 1909 14 June 1989
18 John McEwen 19 December 1967 10 January 1968 None [22] - -
19 John Gorton 10 January 1968 10 March 1971 Bettina Gorton [23] c. 1915 2 October 1983
20 William McMahon 10 March 1971 5 December 1972 Sonia McMahon [24] 1 August 1932 2 April 2010
21 Gough Whitlam 5 December 1972 11 November 1975 Margaret Whitlam 19 November 1919 17 March 2012
22 Malcolm Fraser 11 November 1975 11 March 1983 Tamie Fraser 28 February 1936 living
23 Bob Hawke [25] 11 March 1983 20 December 1991 Hazel Hawke [25] 20 July 1929 23 May 2013
24 Paul Keating 20 December 1991 11 March 1996 Annita Keating [26][27] 5 October 1948 living
25 John Howard 11 March 1996 3 December 2007 Janette Howard 11 July 1944 living
26 Kevin Rudd 3 December 2007
27 June 2013
24 June 2010
18 September 2013
Thérèse Rein 17 July 1958 living
27 Julia Gillard 24 June 2010 27 June 2013 Tim Mathieson [28] c. 1957 living
28 Tony Abbott
18 September 2013 Incumbent Margie Abbott 1 February 1958 living

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Misha Schubert and Shaun Carney, The Age, 20 July 2007. "Revealed: the steel hand of PM's wife"
  2. ^ Carolyn Webb and Catherine Chisholm, The Age, 23 May 2013. "Hazel Hawke dies after battle with dementia"
  3. ^ "Elizabeth Chifley". Australia's Prime Ministers. National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 2008-07-20. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  4. ^ a b "National Hostess". Mrs Prime Minister—Public Image, Private Lives: Travelling exhibition. Old Parliament House (Commonwealth of Australia: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts). Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  5. ^ a b c d Australian Women's Register. Retrieved 27 June 2013
  6. ^ a b c National Archives of Australia, Australia’s Prime Ministers: Pattie Deakin. Retrieved 27 June 2013
  7. ^ "Tamie Fraser". Australia's Prime Ministers. National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 2008-07-30. [dead link]
  8. ^ a b Edmund Barton was knighted in 1902, during his term as Prime Minister, and Jane Barton became Lady Barton.
  9. ^ a b c d Museum of Australian Democracy, "Mrs Prime Minister", http://moadoph.gov.au/exhibitions/online/mrspm/timeline.html
  10. ^ Pattie Deakin accepted the award of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1934, to be announced in the New Year's Honours of 1935; she died two days before the announcement
  11. ^ Flora Reid became Lady Reid upon her husband's knighthood in 1911, and Dame Flora Reid in her own right in 1917, being the first Australian to be appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE).
  12. ^ Mary Cook became Lady Cook upon her husband's knighthood in 1918, and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in her own right in 1925.
  13. ^ Mary Hughes became a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 1922, during Billy Hughes' term as Prime Minister.[1]
  14. ^ In 1947, Stanley Bruce was elevated to the peerage as Viscount Bruce of Melbourne, and Ethel Bruce became Viscountess Bruce of Melbourne.
  15. ^ Enid Lyons became a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 1936, during Joseph Lyons' term as Prime Minister. She was also made a Dame of the Order of Australia (AD) in 1980.
  16. ^ a b Earle Page was the only Australian Prime Minister to have been a knight at the time of becoming Prime Minister.
  17. ^ On 20 July 1959 Sir Earle Page married his secretary Jean Thomas. Lady (Jean) Page died as late as 20 June 2011.
  18. ^ Robert Menzies was knighted in 1963, during his second term as Prime Minister.
  19. ^ Pattie Menzies was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 1954, during Robert Menzies' second term as Prime Minister. Although he was also knighted, this occurred after she had become a Dame in her own right.
  20. ^ Ilma Fadden became Lady Fadden upon her husband's knighthood in 1951.
  21. ^ Zara Holt became a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1968, after her husband's death. She later married Jeff Bate and was known as Dame Zara Bate.
  22. ^ John McEwen was a widower, the only Australian Prime Minister to be single during his term of office. His wife of 45 years, Dame Anne McEwen, had died in February 1967. In July 1968 he married Mary Byrne, who became Lady McEwen when he was knighted in 1971.
  23. ^ Bettina Gorton became Lady Gorton in 1977 when John Gorton was knighted.
  24. ^ Sonia McMahon became Lady McMahon in 1977 when William McMahon was knighted.
  25. ^ a b After Bob Hawke left the prime ministership in 1991, he and Hazel Hawke divorced. He later married Blanche d'Alpuget.
  26. ^ After Paul Keating left the prime ministership in 1996, he and Annita separated; she reverted to her maiden name Annita van Iersel. They are now divorced; it is believed this occurred in 2008.
  27. ^ Sharp, Annette (2013-06-08). "Coy Keating must publicly 'fess his love". The Daily Telegraph. 
  28. ^ Tim Mathieson is the domestic partner of Julia Gillard. They are not married.

Further reading[edit]

  • Langmore, Diane (1992). Prime Ministers’ Wives: The Public and Private Lives of Ten Australian Women. Ringwood, VIC: McPhee Gribble. 
  • "Mrs Prime Minister—Public Image, Private Lives". Travelling exhibition. Old Parliament House (Commonwealth of Australia: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts). Retrieved 2008-07-30.