Spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia

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Spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia
Lucy Turnbull in 2015.jpg
Incumbent
Lucy Turnbull

since 15 September 2015
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, the holder of which, by convention, is the host or hostess of The Lodge and Kirribilli House, the official residences of the Prime Minister. An unpaid position that has no official responsibilities, the role has gained significance since the 1960s, with the Prime Minister's spouse acting as a key national figure on social issues and a prominent symbol of government. The Spouse also assists the Prime Minister in welcoming foreign dignitaries to Parliament House and the official residences.

The 18th Prime Minister, John McEwen, was a widower during his short term, but otherwise, 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. Lucy Turnbull is the spouse of the incumbent Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull.

Current[edit]

The current spouse of the Prime Minister of Australia is Lucy Turnbull, who assumed the role when her husband became the Prime Minister of Australia on 15 September 2015.

There are currently six 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.[1]

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.[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
(Spouse, unless noted)
1 Coat of Arms of Australia Jane "Jeanie" 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" Browne
1 January 1863 – 30 December 1934
(aged 71)

24 September 1903

27 April 1904
Deakin
m. 1882
3 Coat of Arms of Australia Ada 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" 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" Browne
1 January 1863 – 30 December 1934
(aged 71)

5 July 1905

13 November 1908
Deakin
m. 1882
5 Coat of Arms of Australia Margaret Irvine
1874 – 15 June 1958
(aged 84–85)

13 November 1908

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

2 June 1909

29 April 1910
Deakin
m. 1882
(5) Coat of Arms of Australia Margaret Irvine
1874 – 15 June 1958
(aged 83–84)

29 April 1910

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

24 June 1913

17 September 1914
Cook
m. 1885
7 Portrait of Mary Hughes Mary Campbell
6 June 1874 – 2 April 1958
(aged 83)

27 October 1915

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

9 February 1923

22 March 1929
Bruce
m. 1913
9 Coat of Arms of Australia Sarah McNamara
1880 – 31 May 1962
(aged 82–83)

22 March 1929

6 January 1932
Fisher
m. 1901
10 Portrait of Enid Lyons (with Joseph Lyons) Enid Burnell
19 July 1897 – 2 September 1981
(aged 84)

6 January 1932

7 April 1939
Lyons
m. 1915
11 Coat of Arms of Australia Ethel Blunt
1875 – 26 May 1958
(aged 82–83)

7 April 1939

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

26 April 1939

29 August 1941
Menzies
m. 1920
13 Coat of Arms of Australia Ilma Thornber
1895 – 14 May 1987
(aged 92–93)

29 August 1941

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

7 October 1941

5 July 1945
Curtin
m. 1921
15 Coat of Arms of Australia Veronica "Vera" O'Reilly
1894 – 1967
(aged 72–73)

5 July 1945

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

13 July 1945

19 December 1949
Chifley
m. 1914
(12) Portrait of Pattie Menzies (with Robert Menzies) Pattie Leckie
2 March 1899 – 30 August 1995
(aged 96)

19 December 1949

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

26 January 1966

17 September 1967
Holt
m. 1947
18 01.1 Vacant; John McEwen was a widower. 17 September 1967

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

10 January 1968

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

10 March 1971

5 December 1972
McMahon
m. 1965
21 Portrait of Margaret Whitlam Margaret Dovey
19 November 1919 – 17 March 2012
(aged 92)

5 December 1972

11 November 1975
Whitlam
m. 1942
22 Coat of Arms of Australia Tamara "Tamie" Beggs
28 February 1936
(age 81)

11 November 1975

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

5 March 1983

20 December 1991
Hawke
m. 1956–1995
24 Coat of Arms of Australia Anna "Annita" van Iersel
5 October 1948
(age 68)

20 December 1991

11 March 1996
Keating
m. 1975–2008
25 Portrait of Janette Howard Janette Parker
11 August 1944
(age 72)

11 March 1996

3 December 2007
Howard
m. 1971
26 Portrait of Thérèse Rein Thérèse Rein
17 July 1958
(age 58)

3 December 2007

24 June 2010
Rudd
m. 1981
27 Portrait of Tim Mathieson (with Julia Gillard) Timothy "Tim" Mathieson
1957
(age 59–60)

24 June 2010

27 June 2013
Gillard
esp. 2006
(26) Portrait of Thérèse Rein Thérèse Rein
17 July 1958
(age 58)

27 June 2013

18 September 2013
Rudd
m. 1981
28 Portrait of Margie Abbott Margaret "Margie" Aitken
1 February 1958
(age 59)

18 September 2013

15 September 2015
Abbott
m. 1988
29 Portrait of Lucy Hughes Lucinda "Lucy" Hughes
30 March 1958
(age 59)

15 September 2015

present
Turnbull
m. 1980

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carolyn Webb and Catherine Chisholm, The Age, 23 May 2013. "Hazel Hawke dies after battle with dementia"
  2. ^ "Elizabeth Chifley". Australia's Prime Ministers. National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2008. 
  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. 

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.