On this day …….. 29th of August 1941
Arthur Fadden, the second of five men who served as Australian Prime Minister during World War II, is sworn into office.
At the time that World War II began, Australia’s Prime Minister was Robert Menzies. It was Menzies who made the announcement in September 1939 that Australia was at war with Germany. However, party dissension led Menzies to resign as Prime Minister in August 1941. Menzies’ successor was Arthur Fadden. Fadden was born in Ingham, Queensland in 1895, and first entered politics as an alderman for Townsville in the State Parliament. After losing Townsville in 1935, and declaring his exit from politics permanently, he then won the Federal seat of Darling Downs in 1936. Fadden was one of five Country Party members included when Menzies reshuffled his Cabinet to form a coalition government with the Country Party in March 1939. He was given the portfolios of Air and Civil Aviation when three Country Party ministers were killed in an aeroplane crash in August 1940. He rose to the position of Deputy Leader of the Country Party and, following a leadership crisis within the party, was officially elected leader of the Country Party in March 1941. During this time, he also served as Deputy Prime Minister while Menzies was overseas for four months. Soon after Menzies’ return from overseas, party dissension caused him to resign. A joint United Australia Party – Country Party meeting resulted in Arthur Fadden being elected Prime Minister, and he was sworn in to office on 29 August 1941. However, in the federal election five weeks later, the coalition government lost majority support in the House of Representatives, and John Curtin became Prime Minister.