TLIAD - Advance Australia Where?

The Footnote
July 1 1945 to July 11 1945

Joseph Benedict "Ben" Chifley (1885-1951) was Prime Minister for just eleven days – the shortest in Australian history – and is remembered primarily for that reason. When John Curtin died on July 1 1945, Chifley was the senior member of the government still in the country – the deputy leader and foreign minister were returning from a United Nations conference at San Francisco – and it was he and not they who was accordingly sworn in as Prime Minister by the Duke of Gloucester, the Governor-General.

After officiating at the memorial service in King’s Hall, Canberra, the Prime Minister was too distraught to accompany his close friend on his last plane ride back to Perth, and the government was represented there instead by the Minister for the Army. Chifley subsequently withdrew from the ALP leadership ballot to replace John Curtin, and was reappointed Treasurer by the new prime minister.

Chifley had planned to retire at the 1951 election, but was persuaded to stay on by his leader and his party. Ever the loyal servant, he could do little but acquiesce to their request. Chifley passed away suddenly during a dinner held at Parliament House to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Federation. The Prime Minister announced his passing to a room of shocked guests and the ball ended abruptly.
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Number Two Becomes Number One
July 11 1945 to September 30 1946

Francis Michael Forde (1890-1983) had lost the ALP leadership ballot to John Curtin in 1935 by a single vote. Putting party ahead of personal ambition, he served faithfully as a loyal deputy for over a decade, before rising to the mantle of the Prime Ministership. He received word of Curtin’s passing while in transit from San Francisco to Sydney and quickly moved to secure the leadership, allegedly offering Chifley complete control over financial policy in return for his support.

It fell to Forde to announce to the Australian public the Allies’ victory over Japan in the Second World War, and for a while, the country galvanised around the leadership of the quiet man from Rockhampton. However, a surprise swing to the opposition during the 1946 election saw Labor lose a very close result by two seats. Forde was out of office after fourteen months, and the record of no Labor government winning two elections in a row was intact.
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The False Dawn of Conservatism
September 30 1946 to December 19 1949

Robert Gordon "Bob" Menzies (1894-1978) had already served as Prime Minister of Australia during a tumultuous term which saw Australia enter the Second World War. His first period in government ended in embarrassment as two independents abandoned the United Australia Party government and supported Labor instead.

Menzies took the opportunity in opposition to re-establish the various competing conservative parties under a single cohesive and unified banner, to be called the Liberal Party. Unexpectedly, Menzies found himself delivering a victory speech at the 1946 election, with the Coalition winning a slender two-seat majority.

The first Liberal Party government was much like the last United Australia Party government. Menzies found opposition from nearly every corner, from the belligerent Earle Page who still harboured deep resentment over Menzies’ first accession to power in 1939, to rivals such as Richard Casey who returned from war service in the United States, Egypt and Bengal, where he served as governor.

Ultimately, the pressure of defending a margin of two seats was enough to fracture the infantile Liberal Party once again. The House of Representatives expanded from 74 seats to 120 at the 1949 election, and the Liberal/Country Coalition would win 53; Labor returned to government with 67.

After his defeat in the 1949 election, he stayed as Opposition Leader until a second defeat at the 1951 election convinced him to ride quietly into the sunset. There, Menzies engineered perhaps his greatest accomplishment, convincing the then-Country Party leader to defect to the Liberal Party and be installed as his successor. Although Menzies was largely a failure during his time as Prime Minister, he ensured the survival and success of his Liberal Party through this act and firmly established the conservative side of Australian politics after decades of fragmentation.

His successor as Liberal Party leader ultimately appointed Menzies as Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, where at long last the boy from Jeparit got his knighthood. He formally retired from private life in 1969, but like Stanley Bruce before him, stayed in Britain in his retirement, musing on cricket, the fortunes of the Carlton Football Club, and what could have been.

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[High Five]

We did it!

Anyway, looking forward to seeing where this goes - obviously, Harold Holt is the long-serving Premier who establishes a popular beach safety campaign.

Hahahaha! Let's say that history is a little kinder to poor old Harold in this version of events.

The Forde Revival
December 19 1949 to December 15 1960 (second term)

In 1946 Frank Forde appeared finished in Australian politics. He suffered the largest swing in an election since Scullin, and his various rivals were circling in the ALP, some of whom wanted to install Chifley or Evatt as leader, and others who would be happy to see anyone but Forde stay in the leader’s seat.

A series of timely events ensured that Forde would hold on, at least in the short term. Firstly, the Duke of Gloucester, the Governor-General, returned home to England and Forde had appointed the Chief Justice of Australia, Sir John Latham – a former United Australia Party leader – to the vice-regal role. This followed the precedent set by James Scullin back in 1930, and the move met only token resistance from Menzies and the Coalition.

Evatt, in his capacity as Attorney-General, had selected Justice Sir Owen Dixon to take over as Chief Justice but had not decided who would take the vacant seat on the bench by the time the election occurred.

The newly-elected Menzies, sensing an opportunity to weaken the Labor Party in opposition, offered the vacant seat to the ambitious Evatt himself, obstinately on the pretext that he had already served ten years on the highest court of the land and was the best available candidate for the job. To the general surprise of everyone, Evatt accepted. His departure saw most of the anti-Forde forces in the ALP dissipate, and the former Prime Minister was able to lead the party to victory in the 1949 election. Evatt would stay on the High Court until his retirement in 1960, where he would resurface to affect the course of future events once again.

Forde was fortunate in his second term to come to office at a time of relative prosperity in Australia, as well as a severely fractured opposition, which resulted in his re-election in 1951, 1954 and 1957. The decade became synonymous with the quietly spoken Queenslander; the Forde Fifties.

It was Francis Michael Forde who welcomed the youthful Queen Elizabeth II to Australia in 1954, two years after the death of her father cancelled her initial foray to the antipodes. Two years later the Queen and her husband would return to open the Summer Olympics in Melbourne. The two royal visits reinforced Australia's position as a loyal son of the British Empire, and Forde benefited as a result.

A trademark of his governance was to typically do nothing and let the events take their course. In this regard he was often accused by his party as being "more conservative than the Liberals". This mantra went out of the window in dramatic style on the eve of the 1960 election, as the tired 70-year old prime minister attempted to dismiss his treasurer and attorney-general from cabinet on the grounds of disloyalty. Far from demonstrating strong leadership, the move backfired and was perceived as the last gasp of an exhausted leader wanting to hang on at any cost. The result was a Liberal landslide, while Forde lost his seat of Capricornia.

Francis Michael Forde had served Labor as either leader or deputy leader for a quarter of a century - indeed, at the time of his leaving of office, he had served the party in a leadership role for 25 of its 59 years in the Federal Parliament. Despite the tumultuous ending of his time in office, Forde is remembered as one of the great Australian prime ministers, as well as its longest-serving.

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Sleep well, I am reading with interest. I will only be familiar with the names from the OTL 1980s onwards (Whitlam and Holt excepted) but I'll keep an eye on this.
So Pig Iron Bob blew his chance. How has the Forde government been different from OTL, has the post-war European Migration program proceeded as in OTL, what about the White Australia Policy?

Gentle Jack, the Unifier
December 15 1960 to January 26 1966

John McEwen (1900-1980) was one of the most controversial yet likeable figures of Australian politics. A member of the Country Party since its inception and eventually its leader in the House of Representatives after Arthur Fadden stood aside in 1949, he made a dramatic and sudden switch to the Liberal Party in 1951 at the urging of retiring leader Bob Menzies, who said McEwen was the only man who could capably lead the conservative forces of government to victory in the future.

The switch was unheralded but received the endorsement of the voters in the seat of Murray, who narrowly re-elected McEwen in a special by-election; the new Liberal leader felt uncomfortable about remaining in parliament as a Country-elected member and wanted his electorate’s blessing. The move caused a deep split in the Coalition. The Country Party – those that were left behind and didn’t follow McEwen over to the Liberals - formally broke ranks and reluctantly ran against their former leader on a “Stop McEwen” ticket. They would not completely return until the generation of Page and Fadden had moved on in the early 1960s.

By the time the 1960 election came around, McEwen’s experience and age was seen as an asset by the electorate, and Forde’s experience and age was not. The Liberal Party won a small majority, and a renewed Liberal-Country Party coalition was re-established in 1962, healing a rift that had lasted for the best part of a decade. The conservative forces of Australian politics were now seemingly set, and in 1963 McEwen became the first leader from the non-Labor side of politics since Lyons to win two elections in a row.

McEwen was seen as an effective leader by his colleagues, and never had a bad word to say about any of his cabinet, who dubbed him “Gentle Jack” in return. Unlike his predecessor "Pig Iron Bob", the nickname was completely affectionate and genuine; occasional attempts by Labor figures to use the name to deride McEwen as a pushover were unsuccessful.

The almost-universal affection towards McEwen may explain in part why no leadership challenge was launched against him after the 1954 or 1957 election defeats. He enjoyed an excellent working partnership with his treasurer, who he described – without a trace of irony – as the ‘boy wonder’. Working in tandem, the duo established high tariffs for the Australian manufacturing industry, which persisted until the 1980s.

McEwen was the first Australian Prime Minister to visit Japan since the Second World War, where he was feted and honoured like no Australian visitor before or since. This indirectly led to an unofficial relaxing of the “White Australia Policy”, which was completely done away with by the end of the decade.

When he retired as Prime Minister on Australia Day 1966, the feeling in the country was that Australia was about to launch forward into a bright new future. Gentle Jack had been a steadying hand, much in the tradition of Joe Lyons, and the country was in good shape for a dynamic new successor to take control.

McEwen remained close to all of his former Liberal colleagues, and eventually reconciled with his old friends in the Country Party, who afforded him life membership of the party just before he passed away.
So Pig Iron Bob blew his chance. How has the Forde government been different from OTL, has the post-war European Migration program proceeded as in OTL, what about the White Australia Policy?

The assisted migration scheme which OTL began under Chifley straight after the war proceeded largely intact ITL, Calwell would still have been the responsible minister and Forde would have very much shared Chifley's preference for Roman Catholic migrants in lieu of Britons.

White Australia is on its way out by 1966.

Billymania and the Boulevard of Unfulfilled Promise
January 26 1966 to February 3 1968

William McMahon (1908-1968) was, for the briefest of times, a force that transcended politics. The first Australian Prime Minister to understand and capitalise on the power of television, McMahon cultivated his own fanatical following among the electorate, who first got to know him as Gentle Jack’s affable trade minister, then treasurer and ‘boy wonder’.

Bill McMahon was all things to all people; he was a Liberal Party darling, he was the man who stood up to the British and Yanks over tarrifs and exports. He was a Cold War warrior to the Americans, and he was the kindly face of Australia to migrants arriving in a new country search of a new life. He was the swinging sixties embodied to the baby boomers, and he was an ideal conservative party leader to those still old enough to remember Stan Bruce and Joe Lyons. The line “he’s a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction” described McMahon perfectly.

When McEwen made the decision to retire from the Lodge on his own terms – the first Australian Prime Minister to do so – ‘Billymania’ went into full force. McMahon was elected Liberal leader unopposed with a glowing endorsement from his former boss. He reversed the small number of Australian troop deployments to Vietnam and then won a landslide election fought solely on that issue, successfully wedging the ALP leader and deputy leader on the issue.

McMahon’s masterful control of the media was second to none who came before him. He enlisted the support of the son of a powerful Sydney media baron to “assist” in the presentation of his image, policies and general demeanour. McMahon’s masterful media presentation alone forced the stodgy curmudgeon leading the Labor Party, Arthur Calwell, into retirement. Every night on the news there would be a short, circumspect soundbite from the confident, assured Prime Minister, usually in tandem with McMahon doing something; dancing, sailing, jogging, greeting shoppers.

After having the 70-year old Forde, and then the 66-year old McEwen in office, the 58-year old bachelor was a breath of fresh air, and McMahon - completely in control of his party and the parliament - seemed assured of a long run in the Lodge, maybe even the longest of all. Therefore it was a traumatic shock to the nation when McMahon abruptly dropped dead after a rigorous game of squash at his home in Sydney early in 1968, just days before a lavish 60th birthday party was planned.

McMahon remains one of the great “what-ifs” of Australian politics.

I'm off to bed now, but keep plugging away at this - it's fun to see the twists and turns you've taken. I like how (like in the original STD) you've had to address the 'er, we've had an awful lot of quite old PMs' problem.
Really enjoying this- keep it up!

Thanks for reading!

Meadow said:
I'm off to bed now, but keep plugging away at this - it's fun to see the twists and turns you've taken. I like how (like in the original STD) you've had to address the 'er, we've had an awful lot of quite old PMs' problem.

Yes, there is quite a bit of a swing between the very oldest and the very youngest in this with the other series!