Edmund Barton was Australia’s first prime minister. Federation was Edmund Barton’s ‘one great thing’. One of the key architects of Australia’s Constitution, Barton became the new nation’s Prime Minister at a grand ceremony in Centennial Park, Sydney, on 1 January 1901.
Admired for his intelligence and calm temper, Barton revealed a keen sense of humour; it was evident of his love of good food, fine wine and stimulating conversation. With a rich and powerful voice, he commanded authority wherever he spoke. In 1903 Barton resigned to become one of the three judges who founded Australia’s High Court.
Australia’s 25th Prime Minister served from 11 March 1996 until 3 December 2007, the second-longest prime ministerial term after Robert Menzies. When he lost the seat of Bennelong in 2007, John Howard also became the second Australian prime minister to lose his seat, the first being Stanley Melbourne Bruce in 1929.
John Howard entered parliament as the Member for Bennelong in May 1974. After the controversial dismissal of the Whitlam government in November 1975, he took his first portfolio as Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs in the Coalition government of Malcolm Fraser and Doug Anthony. John Howard was then Treasurer from 1977 until the Fraser government lost office in 1983.
As Prime Minister, John Howard led a government with a wide reform agenda, initiated by the sale of Telstra, the nation’s chief telecommunications carrier. His government achieved a restructuring of industrial relations, including the introduction of direct employer–employee enterprise agreements. A key economic reform was the introduction of a goods and services tax.
In international relations, the government provided support enabling East Timor to achieve independence and developed an ‘Asia-first diplomacy. After the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC on 11 September 2001, Australia’s role in international responses to terrorism was a major element in the foreign and defence policies of the Howard government.
Kevin Rudd was Australia’s 26th Prime Minister and the 19th Leader of the Australian Labour Party. He held the office from 3 December 2007 until 24 June 2010 when he was replaced as the leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party by Julia Gillard.
Kevin Rudd departed from firm Labour Party practice when he selected his own ministers – he was the first Labour Prime Minister to break the traditional role of the Caucus. There were 42 members of the Rudd government executive, 20 Cabinet members, 10 other ministers and 12 parliamentary secretaries. Kevin Rudd was also the first Australian Prime Minister to appoint a female deputy, Julia Gillard.
The historic highlight of his first months in office, however, was his apology to Indigenous people in the opening week of Australia’s 42nd parliament.
The Prime Minister followed the lead of all Australian post-war prime ministers and visited countries considered significant in Australia’s international and trade relations. With the issue of climate change at the forefront, Kevin Rudd’s first visit abroad was to Indonesia for a conference on climate change where, on behalf of the Australian Government, he ratified the Kyoto Protocol. In his first months in office Kevin Rudd also visited China, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
At home, the new government gave immediate priority to its key policy areas of education, employment and health, and introduced legislation to reverse some of the major workplace reforms of the Howard government.
On 24 June 2010 Julia Gillard became Australia’s 27th Prime Minister and the first womanto hold the office. She was elected unopposed by the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Before becoming Prime Minister, she served as the Deputy Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010 in Kevin Rudd’s Labour government, where she was Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations; Minister for Education; and Minister for Social Inclusion.
She is the Federal Member for Lalor (Vic) and was first elected to Parliament in 1998.
Summary: It is these amazing Prime Ministers that has made our Australia how its is now. We learn from their actions and we improve Australia to make an amazing country.
By JAMES HUANG