Spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia

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Spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia
Incumbent
Jenny Morrison

since 24 August 2018
Residence The Lodge
Inaugural holder Jane Barton
Formation 1 January 1901
Dame Mary Hughes and Dame Enid Lyons (pictured together in 1955) are among the longest-serving prime minister's wives, both holding the position for more than seven years.

The spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia is generally a high-profile individual, and assists the prime minister with his or her ceremonial duties as well as performing various other functions. The wife of the current prime minister is Jenny Morrison.

With a few exceptions, the prime minister's spouse has been a public figure and the subject of media interest. Most have used the position to promote charitable causes. By convention, the spouse of the prime minister serves as the host or hostess of The Lodge and Kirribilli House, the official residences of the prime minister. He or she also assists the prime minister in welcoming foreign dignitaries to Parliament House and various other locations during ceremonial events. However, the position is unpaid and there are no official responsibilities.

The prime minister is often assisted by his or her spouse when campaigning at elections. However, only two prime minister's spouses have held public office in their own right – Enid Lyons became the first woman elected to the House of Representatives several years after her husband's death in office, while Lucy Turnbull served as Lord Mayor of Sydney over a decade before her husband became prime minister. Ethel Page held senior offices in the organisational wing of the Country Party.

All prime ministers except John McEwen and Julia Gillard were married for the duration of their term in office. McEwen was a widower during his short term, while Gillard had a domestic partner, Tim Mathieson. Until relatively recently it was uncommon for the spouse of a prime minister to have their own career. Zara Holt, a fashion designer, was the first to continue her career during her husband's term in office, and reputedly earned more money than him. Other businesswomen to hold the position have included Thérèse Rein, who ran an employment services company, and Margie Abbott, who ran a childcare centre. Bettina Gorton was an academic who lectured part-time at the Australian National University.

Role[edit]

The Prime Minister's spouse has no official duties. Some earlier spouses stayed mainly at home and took little part in public life.[1] Although a Prime Minister's wife may be unofficially referred to as Australia's "first lady", a spouse does not receive a staff or official budget.[2]

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.[3] 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.[3]

Others were initially preoccupied with rearing children, most notably Dame Enid Lyons (1932–39), who had 12 children (one died in infancy). 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.[6]

List of spouses[edit]

No. Portrait Spouse
(Maiden name)
Tenure Prime Minister
1 Jane Barton 1902 crop.jpg Jane "Jeanie" Barton (née Ross)
11 June 1851 – 23 March 1938
(aged 86)

1 January 1901

24 September 1903
Barton
m. 1877
2 Portrait of Pattie Deakin Elizabeth "Pattie" Deakin (née Browne)
1 January 1863 – 30 December 1934
(aged 71)

24 September 1903

27 April 1904
Deakin
m. 1882
3 No image.svg Ada Watson (née Low)
4 February 1855 – 19 July 1921
(aged 60)

27 April 1904

18 August 1904
Watson
m. 1889
4 Portrait of Flora Reid Florence "Flora" Reid (née Brumby)
10 November 1876 – 1 September 1950
(aged 82)

18 August 1904

5 July 1905
Reid
m. 1891
(2) Portrait of Pattie Deakin Elizabeth "Pattie" Deakin (née Browne)
1 January 1863 – 30 December 1934
(aged 71)

5 July 1905

13 November 1908
Deakin
m. 1882
5 Portrait of Margaret Fisher Margaret Fisher (née Irvine)
1874 – 15 June 1958
(aged 83–84)

13 November 1908

2 June 1909
Fisher
m. 1901
(2) Portrait of Pattie Deakin Elizabeth "Pattie" Deakin (née Browne)
1 January 1863 – 30 December 1934
(aged 71)

2 June 1909

29 April 1910
Deakin
m. 1882
(5) Portrait of Margaret Fisher Margaret Fisher (née Irvine)
1874 – 15 June 1958
(aged 83–84)

29 April 1910

24 June 1913
Fisher
m. 1901
6 Portrait of Mary Cook Mary Cook (née Turner)
1863 – 24 September 1950
(aged 86–87)

24 June 1913

17 September 1914
Cook
m. 1885
(5) Portrait of Margaret Fisher Margaret Fisher (née Irvine)
1874 – 15 June 1958
(aged 83–84)

17 September 1914

27 October 1915
Fisher
m. 1901
7 Portrait of Mary Hughes Mary Hughes (née Campbell)
6 June 1874 – 2 April 1958
(aged 83)

27 October 1915

9 February 1923
Hughes
m. 1911
8 Ethel Bruce Ethel Bruce (née Anderson)
25 May 1879 – 16 March 1967
(aged 88)

9 February 1923

22 March 1929
Bruce
m. 1913
9 Sarah Scullin Sarah Scullin (née McNamara)
1880 – 31 May 1962
(aged 81–82)

22 March 1929

6 January 1932
Scullin
m. 1907
10 Portrait of Enid Lyons Dame Enid Lyons (née Burnell)
GBE
19 July 1897 – 2 September 1981
(aged 84)

6 January 1932

7 April 1939
Lyons
m. 1915
11 Portrait of Ethel Page Ethel Page (née Blunt)
20 September 1875 – 26 May 1958
(aged 82)

7 April 1939

26 April 1939
Page
m. 1906
12 Portrait of Pattie Menzies Pattie Menzies (née Leckie)
2 March 1899 – 30 August 1995
(aged 96)

26 April 1939

29 August 1941
Menzies
m. 1920
13 Ilma Fadden Ilma Fadden (née Thornber)
1895 – 14 May 1987
(aged 91–92)

29 August 1941

7 October 1941
Fadden
m. 1916
14 Portrait of Elsie Curtin Elsie Curtin (née Needham)
4 October 1890 – 24 June 1975
(aged 84)

7 October 1941

5 July 1945
Curtin
m. 1921
15 No image.svg Veronica "Vera" Forde (née O'Reilly)
31 December 1894 – 9 November 1967
(aged 72)

5 July 1945

13 July 1945
Forde
m. 1925
16 Portrait of Lizzie Chifley Elizabeth "Lizzie" Chifley (née McKenzie)
1 August 1886 – 9 September 1962
(aged 76)

13 July 1945

19 December 1949
Chifley
m. 1914
(12) Pattie Menzies 1963.jpg Dame Pattie Menzies (née Leckie)
GBE
2 March 1899 – 30 August 1995
(aged 96)

19 December 1949

26 January 1966
Menzies
m. 1920
17 Portrait of Zara Holt Zara Holt (née Dickins)
10 March 1909 – 14 June 1989
(aged 80)

26 January 1966

17 December 1967
Holt
m. 1947
01.1 None; John McEwen was a widower. 17 December 1967

10 January 1968
McEwen
18 Portrait of Bettina Gorton Bettina Gorton (née Brown)
23 June 1915 – 2 October 1983
(aged 68)

10 January 1968

10 March 1971
Gorton
m. 1935
19 Portrait of Sonia McMahon Sonia McMahon (née Hopkins)
1 August 1932 – 2 April 2010
(aged 77)

10 March 1971

5 December 1972
McMahon
m. 1965
20 Margaret Whitlam 1954.jpg Margaret Whitlam (née Dovey)
19 November 1919 – 17 March 2012
(aged 92)

5 December 1972

11 November 1975
Whitlam
m. 1942
21 Coat of Arms of Australia Tamara "Tamie" Fraser (née Beggs)
28 February 1936
(aged 82)

11 November 1975

5 March 1983
Fraser
m. 1956
22 Portrait of Hazel Hawke Hazel Hawke (née Masterson)
20 July 1929 – 23 May 2013
(aged 83)

5 March 1983

20 December 1991
Hawke
m. 1956
23 Annita Keating.jpg Anna "Annita" Keating (née van Iersel)
5 October 1948
(aged 70)

20 December 1991

11 March 1996
Keating
m. 1975
24 Portrait of Janette Howard Janette Howard (née Parker)
11 August 1944
(aged 74)

11 March 1996

3 December 2007
Howard
m. 1971
25 Portrait of Thérèse Rein Thérèse Rein
17 July 1958
(aged 60)

3 December 2007

24 June 2010
Rudd
m. 1981
26 Portrait of Tim Mathieson (with Julia Gillard) Timothy "Tim" Mathieson
1957
(aged 60–61)

24 June 2010

27 June 2013
Gillard
domestic partner
(25) Portrait of Thérèse Rein Thérèse Rein
17 July 1958
(aged 60)

27 June 2013

18 September 2013
Rudd
m. 1981
27 Portrait of Margie Abbott Margaret "Margie" Abbott (née Aitken)
1 February 1958
(aged 60)

18 September 2013

15 September 2015
Abbott
m. 1988
28 Portrait of Lucy Turnbull Lucinda "Lucy" Turnbull (née Hughes)
AO
30 March 1958
(aged 60)

15 September 2015

24 August 2018
Turnbull
m. 1980
29 Jenny Morrison (née Warren)
1968
(aged 49–50)

24 August 2018

present
Morrison
m. 1989

Living former spouses[edit]

There are currently seven 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.[7]

Others[edit]

A number of prime ministers have remarried after leaving office or had marriages that ended before taking office.

  • Billy Hughes was in a common-law marriage with Elizabeth Cutts from approximately 1890 to her death in 1906. He had six children with her, and also raised her son from a previous relationship.
  • Chris Watson married Antonia Dowlan in 1925, following the death of his first wife Ada in 1921. They had one daughter together.
  • Earle Page married Jean Thomas in 1959, following the death of his first wife Ethel in 1958. She had previously been his personal secretary.
  • John McEwen married Annie McLeod in 1921; she died in 1967, ten months before he became prime minister. He remarried in 1968 to Mary Byrne, who had previously been his personal secretary.
  • John Gorton married Nancy Home in 1993, following the death of his first wife Bettina in 1983.
  • Bob Hawke married Blanche d'Alpuget in 1996, after divorcing his first wife Hazel in 1994. d'Alpuget had previously been his biographer.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Elizabeth Chifley". Australia's Prime Ministers. National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
  2. ^ Visentin, Lisa (2018-08-25). "Jenny Morrison, Australia's new first lady". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2018-08-25.
  3. ^ 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 30 July 2008.
  4. ^ Australian Women's Register. Retrieved 27 June 2013
  5. ^ National Archives of Australia, Australia’s Prime Ministers: Pattie Deakin. Retrieved 27 June 2013
  6. ^ "Tamie Fraser". Australia's Prime Ministers. National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
  7. ^ Carolyn Webb and Catherine Chisholm, The Age, 23 May 2013. "Hazel Hawke dies after battle with dementia"

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 30 July 2008.