Kim Beazley Sr.

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Kim Beazley
Kim Beazley 1971.jpg
Beazley in 1971
Minister for Education
In office
19 December 1972 – 11 November 1975
Prime MinisterGough Whitlam
Preceded byGough Whitlam
Succeeded byMargaret Guilfoyle
Member of the Australian Parliament for Fremantle
In office
18 August 1945 – 10 November 1977
Preceded byJohn Curtin
Succeeded byJohn Dawkins
Personal details
Kim Edward Beazley

(1917-09-30)30 September 1917
Northam, Western Australia
Died12 October 2007(2007-10-12) (aged 90)
Claremont, Western Australia
Political partyAustralian Labor Party
(m. 1948)
ChildrenKim, Merrilyn, David
Alma materUniversity of Western Australia (BA)
Australian National University (MA)

Kim Edward Beazley AO (30 September 1917 – 12 October 2007) was an Australian politician who served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1945 to 1977, representing the Labor Party. He was Minister for Education in the Whitlam Government from 1972 to 1975.

Early life and education[edit]

Beazley, the youngest of seven children, was born in Northam, Western Australia. He was the son of Alfred Beazley, a storeman and packer, and his wife Mary Wright.[1]

Beazley grew up in Fremantle. He attended the academically selective Perth Modern School (1933–1935), where he topped the state in history and English. He went on to Claremont Teachers College, and first worked as a teacher at the Richmond State School East Fremantle, and then Arthur River, Midland Junction, and Claremont. Beazley later studied politics at the University of Western Australia (UWA), and tutored at Claremont Teachers College and at UWA. He was later to gain an MA from the Australian National University.[1]


Kim Beazley c. 1949

Beazley was active in the Labor Party, and the elegance of his writings and the eloquence of his speeches marked him out as a rising star. He served as vice president of the State School Teachers' Union and as a member of the State Executive of the Party.[2]

On the death in office of Prime Minister John Curtin in 1945, the 27-year-old Beazley was preselected for, and won, Curtin's Federal Parliament seat of Fremantle. He was the youngest member of the federal parliament when elected, and was known as "the student prince".[3] He became the Father of the House in 1975, and held his seat until he retired in 1977.

A committed Christian (he was brought up and baptised in the Church of Christ),[4]: p.24  and member of Moral Rearmament, Beazley was prominent on the right-wing of the Labor Party during the ideological battles of the 1950s and 1960s. He claimed a central role in the events leading to the Labor Party's fateful 1954 split and harboured lifelong regret that he failed to help avert the split when he felt it had been in his power to do so.[4]: p.102  During the leadership of Arthur Calwell (from 1960 to 1967) he was considered a possible future leader of the party, but his right-wing views, particularly his support for the U.S. Alliance, cost him support, and Gough Whitlam emerged as Calwell's successor.

Beazley was the education minister in the Whitlam Government from 1972 to 1975. Though afflicted with severe illness for part of his tenure, he carried out important reforms in the education field, such as abolishing university fees and introducing needs-based funding for all schools through the Schools Commission.[5] During the 1970s Beazley worked for the United States of America in what a historian has called "a discreet relationship".[6]

Later life and death[edit]

After the defeat of the Whitlam Government in 1975, Beazley was elected to the Labor front bench, but resigned when it was revealed that Gough Whitlam and Bill Hartley, with the ALP national secretary, David Combe, had been seeking money from the Iraqi Ba'ath Party to pay for the party's election campaign.[7] He retired from politics in 1977.[2] At the time of his death he was the last parliamentary survivor of the Chifley government, as well as the earliest surviving member of the Commonwealth Parliament. He died in Perth on 12 October 2007, and was accorded a state funeral on 20 October.[5]

His memoirs were published posthumously in February 2009[4] with a foreword by his son Kim Christian Beazley who himself had a distinguished career as a Labor politician and party leader. The Beazley Medal, annual awards to the top secondary students in WA, were named in his honour.[8]

Kim Edward Beazley's death came almost a year after the death of his other son, David.

Personal life[edit]

Beazley married Betty Judge, a fellow teacher, union official and an athlete (she was Australian women's 880 yards champion), on 7 February 1948, at Claremont. They had two sons, including Rhodes Scholar, Deputy Prime Minister and Governor of Western Australia Kim Christian Beazley, and one daughter.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Kim Edward Beazley - Member for Fremantle 1945-1977". John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library. 18 December 2006. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Pearce, Bob (15 October 2007). "Labor's moral pillar". The Australian. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  3. ^ Farquharson, John (15 October 2007). "Beazley Snr, a politician of extraordinary principle". The Age. Fairfax Media.
  4. ^ a b c In Beazley K E Father of the House: The memoirs of Kim E Beazley Fremantle Press, January 2009
  5. ^ a b State funeral planned for Beazley Sr, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 14 October 2007.
  6. ^ Coventry, C. J., "The Eloquence of Robert J Hawke: United States informer, 1973-79," Australian Journal of Politics and History, 67:1 (2021), 85.
  7. ^ Parkinson, Tony Shame, Whitlam Shame The Age, 15 Nov 2005
  8. ^ "Beazley Medals to top TEE Student and top Vocational Student". 4 January 2002. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2017.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Minister for Education
Succeeded by
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by Member for Fremantle
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Father of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by