Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bennelong time...

Since the incumbent Prime Minister has lost his seat in an election (see what I did? Damn I'm funny...). Nearly 80 years they said, so I thought I'd do a little digging and see if I could find the history and lo and behold, I learned something new.

The last time it happened was in 1929. The Prime Minister was Bruce, Stanley Melbourne, Viscount of Melbourne and he lived from 1883 - 1967. He was Australia's eighth Prime Minister, a decorated war hero and came to be Prime Minister in 1923, our second youngest at the age of 40.

It happened because after the 1922 election, Hughes couldn't form a majority and the Country Party had refused, yet again, to form a coalition so Hughes recommended Bruce for the job. Bruce was a shrewd politician and managed to concede 5 of the 11 portfolios to Sir Eagle Page who was then quite happy to see the merit of a coalition between the National Party (currently called the "Liberal Party") and the Country Party (later to become the "National Party"). So it was that the first priority of Bruce's incumbency was maintaining the coalition.

His entire incumbency was plagued by industrial relations issues though. He wanted to build a federal system of arbitration and he didn't like unions at all, so much so that he applied to have a few of them decommissioned. He had so much trouble in this area that the Nationalist premiers (his own party) got together in 1928 and agreed to "insist on the Commonwealth vacating the field of arbitration." His solution was a complete back flip and a bill to abolish the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, which upset quite a few within his party so he offered to stand aside for Latham. Latham insisted that the bill go forward but the damage was done and on October 22 the following year (1929), Bruce ceased to be Prime Minister because he lost his seat.

So there you go Johnny. You should have looked a little further back, past Menzies which is obviously where you got stuck, and learnt a little about your own party's history. It looks to me like there's almost a correlation between draconian industrial relations policies and the current incumbent losing his seat.

4 Comments:

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

LOL good one Plonka.

Interesting that it was bad IR policy that got them both the boot.

Dikkii said...

Damn Sean, you beat me to it.

I never knew that Bruce had a peerage.

Dikkii said...

Oh, and could you scrape me up off the ground where I currently am after Costello announced his retirement?

Rather shocked by that, I was.

Plonka said...

Sean: Thanks, I couldn't resist...:)

Interesting that it was bad IR policy that got them both the boot.

It is a bit, isn't it? I wonder if it's a trend. It's only happened twice, so I don't think we can say it's definitive, but it's worth thought...

Dikkii:

I never knew that Bruce had a peerage.

Apparently so. He and his family did spend a lot of their time in England, but the ANU stuff I found didn't really go into it.

...after Costello announced his retirement

I have to admit that I was a bit shocked by that myself. I though it wold be his opportunity to shine, but apparently not.

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