March 03, 2015

Horse 1850 - Australia's Prime Ministers - No 13 - Arthur Fadden

XIII - Arthur Fadden

When Menzies resigned as leader of the UAP because of increasing pressure to resign, the party was so completely rudderless that Billy Hughes was appointed to convene the joint UAP/Country caucus to elect the new premier. Thus Arthur Fadden was appointed at the thirteenth Prime Minister of Australia, despite coming from the smaller of the two parties in coalition.
His tenure was short-lived.

Even though Fadden's cabinet was a star studded cast which included no fewer than six Prime Ministers both past and future, it was still teetering on knifeedge.

In the 1940 federal election, when Menzies had led the coalition to victory, it still required the support of two independents Arthur Coles and Alex Wilson to secure supply; they were still annoyed at the way that Menzies had been treated.

On the 3rd of October 1941, not even six weeks after becoming Prime Minister, Fadden's government lost supply when Coles and Wilson voted against Fadden's budget; thus creating a loss of supply.
The Opposition Leader John Curtin, whose Labour Party had 32 seats, then formed its own coalition with the curiously named "Australian Labor Party (Non-Communist)" which was a break-away party led by former NSW Premier Jack Lang and the Coles and Wilson.
They then proceeded to pass exactly the same budget with Fadden's government had tried to pass but had varied it by £1.
Fadden would later go onto joke that he was like the Flood in that he had "reigned for 40 days and 40 nights".

As Opposition leader, he was always overseeing a coalition that remained in crisis and at the 1943 election, the UAP/Country coalition lost even more ground with the loss of 18 seats.

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