Australia's wartime Prime Ministers

Five Prime Ministers served Australia during the war years. Explore the stories of those who worked for them.

On 26 April 1939, Robert Menzies was sworn in as the 12th Prime Minister of Australia, after he had been elected leader of the United Australia Party. Arthur Fadden followed Menzies on 29 August 1941 but after his coalition government lost majority support in the House of Representatives, John Curtin became Prime Minister on 7 October 1941. Following Curtin’s death on 5 July 1945, the Deputy Prime Minister Frank Forde acted as Prime Minister until the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party elected Ben Chifley as its new leader. Chifley was sworn in as Prime Minister on 13 July 1945.

Fadden, Hughes, Curtin, Menzies and Chifley, 1942

Four of the five Prime Ministers who led Australia during the Second World War dining together.
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library. Records of the Curtin Family. Five Australian Prime Ministers dine, 1942. Fadden, Hughes, Curtin, Menzies and Chifley. JCPML00376/90

Robert Menzies
Arthur Fadden
John Curtin
Frank Forde
Ben Chifley






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Offices on the move Wartime discussions and decisions
Australia's wartime Prime Ministers War Cabinet and Advisory War Council The War Cabinet Secretariat Parliament House and Victoria Barracks