Can You Name These Australian Prime Ministers?

HISTORY

By: Hania Syed

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wikicommons by Jaraullo / Wikicommons by Kate Lundy from Canberra, Australia

About This Quiz

Despite being relatively young as a country (in terms of being a federated nation), Australia has an extensive track record of colourful prime ministers. Are you on top of all your Aussie PMs, such as the nation's first prime minister, its first female prime minister, and its rapid switcharoo of prime ministers in the 2000s? Are you also familiar with the key accomplishments of Australia's most famous prime ministers, and which streets, buildings and landmarks have been named after these political figures? 

With there being a federal election every three years, Australia goes through its fair share of political heads. Australia also goes through periods of electing mostly Liberal PMs, and then Labor PMs, depending on the political leanings of the time. At the same time, Australia isn't really known for diversity when it comes to its elected officials (something that will hopefully change in the near future!)

With all these facts now being at the front of your mind, let's have a squiz at your knowledge of Australian politics in general, and its prime ministers specifically. Can you tell your Chifley from your Parkes, or your Chisholm from Barton? How about challenging your mates to this quiz to see how much they still remember from their primary school education?

Becoming a High Court Justice later in life, who was Australia's first prime minister?

The first prime minister of Australia was Edmund Barton, remaining in office from 1901 (the year of Federation) until 1903. Those who were close to him affectionately called him Toby!

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Known for being the youngest Australian prime minister thus far, who is this individual?

At just 37 years of age, Chris Watson became prime minister of Australia in 1941, making him the youngest PM thus far. Watson was also a notable PM due to the fact that he was originally from Chile!

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This politician made a return to the top job in 2013. Can you name him?

After being prime minister from 2007-2010, Kevin Rudd was briefly back at the top between June 2013 and September 2013 after a leadership conflict between him and then-PM Julia Gillard.

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Known for being Australia's first female prime minister, who is this woman?

Julia Gillard made history by becoming Australia's first female prime minister in 2010. With a background as a solicitor, Gillard entered Parliament in 1998 and was in government from 2010-2013.

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This prime minister holds the record for longest time in office. Who is he?

Sir Robert Menzies served as prime minister of Australia twice, from 1939-1941 and then again from 1949-1966. In total, he served as prime minister of Australia for a whopping 18 years.

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This prime minister was known for having a quirky middle name. What was it?

As the 11th prime minister of Australia, Sir Earle Christmas Grafton Page served as prime minister for 19 days after the death of Joseph Lyons. He continued to serve in Parliament for long after this.

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This Australian PM famously went missing while swimming. Do you know his name?

Prime Minister Harold Holt is thought to have drowned while swimming near Portsea, Victoria. While his body was never found, he was declared dead in absentia. This made him the third PM to die in office.

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Known for serving the shortest term as prime minister, who is this figurehead?

Franke Forde was the acting prime minister for 8 days after John Curtin's untimely passing. After a caucus, he was promptly replaced by Chifley, making his prime ministership the shortest in Australian history.

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This prime minister was dismissed from office by the governor-general. Who was it?

In what is now known as the 1975 Australian Constitutional Crisis, Gough Whitlam was famously dismissed from office by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr for refusing to authorise government spending bills.

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This prime minister was known for quirky things like eating a raw onion and wearing budgie smugglers. Who was it?

Serving from 2013-2015, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is often known as the PM who chomped down on raw onions, wore budgie smugglers to the beach and made quirky remarks on numerous occasions.

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Who was the nation's only prime minister from the Free Trade party?

The Free Trade Party was an Australian political party from 1889 to 1909 with its leader George Reid being prime minister from 1904-1905. The party has also been known as the Anti-Socialist Party.

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Who was the prime minister of Australia through most of World War II?

Regarded as one of Australia's most successful leaders, John Curtin led Australia through much of World War II. The tough conditions were thought to take a toll on his health, with Curtin eventually dying of a heart attack.

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Out of this list, the prime minister pictured is the only one who did not die in office. Who is he?

John Curtin, Joseph Lyons and Harold Holt all passed away while in office. Edmund Barton, however, did not, pursuing a successful career in law after his time as prime minister of Australia.

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Out of these four prime ministers, only one was elected by the public. What is his name?

11 Australian prime ministers have come to power without facing an election, either due to replacing a previous prime minister or winning through a leadership spill. Abbott, however, was elected by the public.

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Which PM established the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS)?

Malcolm Fraser's government established SBS, Australia's iconic public broadcasting network. The network is now known for its inclusive storytelling, cultural consciousness and interesting programming.

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Who was the first prime minister to be born in Australia?

Perhaps surprisingly, Australia's first Prime Minister Sir Edmund Barton, was actually born in Australia. Specifically, he was born in Glebe, which was then known as the Colony of New South Wales.

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Which PM hailed from the town of Bathurst?

Ben Chifley (full name Joseph Benedict Chifley) was born in the small but bustling town of Bathurst in New South Wales. He was buried in his hometown upon his death in 1951 at the age of 65.

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This former PM is known for being a career politician. What's his name?

Some call Malcolm Turnbull a career politician due to his extensive experience and time in the field. However, he has actually enjoyed successful careers as a lawyer and an investment banker!

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Out of this list, only one man was not a member of the Protectionist party. Can you name him?

The now-defunct Protectionist Party featured prominent leaders Sir Edmund Barton and Alfred Deakin who became the first and second prime ministers of Australia. Fisher, however, was of the Labor Party.

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Which Aussie PM was known for being incredibly relatable?

Bob Hawke is one of Australia's most beloved prime ministers, often called a "typical Australian" due to his larrikin ways. His death in 2019 at the age of 89 affected many Australians, with tributes flooding in.

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This prime minister grew up in the trendy Sydney suburb of Bronte. Who is he?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison grew up in the affluent Sydney suburb of Bronte. Interestingly, he is descended from William Roberts, a convict who stole yarn and was transported to Australia on the First Fleet in 1788

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This PM worked as a miner before starting his political career. Who was it?

Andrew Fisher emigrated from Scotland in 1885 to Queensland, where he found work in the mines along with his brother. They first found work on the Burrum coalfields at Torbanlea then the goldfields at Gympie.

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Three of these men left their position as PM voluntarily. The one pictured did not. Who was it?

All the prime ministers mentioned above left their position voluntarily, due to a career change, retirement or personal reason. Deakin, however, was voted out and therefore did not leave voluntarily.

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Several of our PMs have actively served in the military. The man pictured did not. What is his name?

All the prime ministers listed actively served in the military at some point, except McEwen. He enlisted in the Army in 1918 and was actually waiting to depart for France when the armistice was declared.

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While many Australian PMs have been agnostic or atheistic, this one was a Methodist. Who was it?

While many Australian prime ministers have said they were brought up Methodist, only one actually continued to identify as Methodist later in life: Joseph Cook. Others, like Howard, converted later in life.

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This former PM is thought to be the richest ever. What is his name?

The salary for a prime minister is known to be very high, but Malcolm Turnbull's overall earnings truly astound. His estimated net worth is thought to be over $200 million due to his other work and investments.

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Who was Australia's first Roman Catholic PM?

Australia has had five Roman Catholic prime ministers, with the first being James Scullin. A further nine were Anglican, three were Presbyterian, one Methodist and a large number were agnostic or secular.

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Which Australian prime minister was named after a famous British prime minister?

John Howard's middle name is Winston, a clear nod to legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Some prime ministers have even gone by their middle names as their first names, such as Gough Whitlam and Ben Chifley.

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Many suburbs in Canberra are named after PMs. This PM, however, does not have a suburb named after him. What's his last name?

Numerous suburbs in Canberra, the nation's capital city, are named after former prime ministers. These include Scullin, Watson, Fisher, Reid, Cook and many more. Scott Morrison, however, does not have a suburb named after him.

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Which Australian PM descends from convict Mary Wade?

Many Australians are descendants of convicts who first settled in Australia. Kevin Rudd is one of them, descending from Mary Wade, who was only 13 years old when she was transported to Australia!

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Which former PM was caught without his pants in Memphis, Tennessee?

In 1986, Malcolm Fraser stumbled into the lobby at a Memphis, Tennessee, hotel without any pants. He was instead wearing a shirt, tie and tiny towel. It remains a mystery what happened to him on that night.

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Which PM was the least productive when measured by their acts proclaimed?

Judging by acts passed per day, George Reid was the least productive PM in Australian history. On the flipside, Julia Gillard is noted as the most productive prime minister, passing 0.515 acts a day.

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This PM gave Australia’s most famous prime ministerial speech. What was it?

Julia Gillard's Misogyny speech was voted as the most unforgettable moment in Australian TV history, with the speech going viral throughout the world and being applauded by countless other world leaders.

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Who is the only Aussie PM who never blamed the state of the nation on their predecessor when in office?

This one's a bit of a cheeky trick question. The answer has to be Edmund Barton, because he didn't have a predecessor! Every other PM will, of course, blame their predecessor for the state of the nation.

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This PM was a member of the Free Trade Party, and then the Anti-Socialist party. Who was he?

George Reid was the only Free Trade prime minister, before switching over to the Anti-Socialist party later in life. He was also the only Australian to serve in all three legislatures – colonial, Commonwealth and British.

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Who was the shortest male prime minister in Australian history?

While Bob Hawke was known for his smaller stature, Billy Hughes was actually the nation's shortest male PM at 1.68m. When talking about all PMs in general, female Prime Minister Julia Gillard was the shortest at 1.66m.

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This prime minister worked as a teacher, railway clerk and electrical engineer in his lifetime. Can you name him?

The shortest-serving prime minister, Francis Forde, worked as a teacher, railway clerk and electrical engineer throughout his lifetime. Today, most prime ministers have a background in law, journalism or finance.

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Which PM was a lifelong teetotaller and non-smoker?

James Scullin was a devout Roman Catholic, which also meant that he chose to avoid alcohol and cigarettes throughout his whole life. Did you know he was also a grocer before becoming prime minister?

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This PM was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by the Australian government. Who was it?

Stanley Bruce was nominated by the Australian government for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1936. This was partly on the basis of his work on nutrition and his commitment to world peace.

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