Arthur Fadden, August 1941 - October 1941

Prime Minister Menzies was overseas for four months in the first half of 1941, and Arthur Fadden was Acting Prime Minister during this period. Menzies returned to Australia in May to be beset by dissension in his own party. On 28 August he resigned and Fadden stepped in as Prime Minister of Australia, a position he held for forty days (29 August - 7 October 1941).

Personal glimpses of the PM in the press . . .

The press reported on 'Artie' Fadden as a forthright, unpretentious, family man, strong willed and independent.

To be in Brisbane with [Prime Minister Menzies'] successor, Mr Fadden, meant to be stopped on every corner with, 'How are you, Artie? Good on you boy.' 1

Prime Minister Arthur Fadden

Prime Minister Arthur Fadden
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library. Records of the Government Photographic Service. Sir Arthur William Fadden (1895-1973) Prime Minister August-October 1941. JCPML00036/12

Mr. Fadden is a thoroughly self-made man. He left school at the age of 15, and became general rouse-about to a gang of cane cutters in the Mackay district. He boiled their billy and swept their sleeping quarters. Later he got a job as office boy for the Pleystowe Mill, then applied for the job of assistant to the Town Clerk in Mackay. At the age of 21 he was Town Clerk, and at 24 set up his own accountancy and tax agency firm in Mackay.
...and was known throughout the north as a straight and honest man.
He had, too, the gift of making people like working for him, surely a useful quality in a Prime Minister.
He attacked everything with the same passion for accuracy as he did his figures. For instance, he occasionally came across an unfamiliar word in a newspaper or a book. I would then be enlisted to look it up in the three dictionaries and reference books he kept by him. One dictionary wasn't enough. He wanted to be absolutely sure of it, and I often noticed him use the word later, when a suitable context arose.
I have heard that he is Canberra's best mixer. That is not surprising, for in contrast to the unfortunate and oft-quoted remark that Mr. Menzies once made about himself, nobody can ever say that Artie Fadden is 'too-damned superior.' 2

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Political honors are falling thick and fast on Mr. Fadden, Federal Treasurer, and at 45 he is youngest Acting Prime Minister, after four years in politics.
Devoted family man that he is, these honors will not fully counterbalance the long separations from his wife and children inevitable in his job.
From Toowong (Qld.) to Canberra is a far cry. Still, Mr. Fadden spends a lot of time with his family over the long-distance telephone. 3

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Fadden, as Leader of the Country Party which had only 13 members in the House of Representatives, relied on the United Australia Party and two Independents to retain power. Hence the 40 days Fadden was Prime Minister were ‘simply a stopgap’ and he ‘lacked the time and power to make any impact’. 4

Travel itinerary for Acting PM Fadden,

This travel itinerary for Acting Prime Minister Fadden in late February 1941 shows him travelling from Brisbane to Sydney to attend meetings of the War Cabinet and Advisory War Council.
National Archives of Australia: A461, P4/1/12

Letter from PM Fadden to Tatsuo Kawai, 2 September 1941

Formal letter to His Excellency, Mr Tatsuo Kawai, Japanese Legation, from Prime Minister Fadden expressing thanks for his 'kind letter on my assumption of the Prime Ministership', 2 September 1941.
National Archives of Australia: A461, P4/1/12




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