Name That Prime Minister!


1. The position of prime minister in Australia officially exists by virtue of:

(a) Section 64 of the Constitution of Australia
(b) an Act of the Parliament of New South Wales
(c) generally accepted practice in Britain at the time of Australia’s federation
(d) an executive order of the Governor in Council in 1901

2. Which Australian serving prime ministers lost their seats at a general election?

(a) Andrew Fisher, Francis Forde and William McMahon
(b) Stanley Bruce and John Howard
(c) Joseph Lyons and Gough Whitlam
(d) Joseph Cook and John Howard

Bonus point: who is the only PM in Australia's history to lose his seat and not win it back?

3. Prime Minister Robert Menzies committed Australian forces to the war in Vietnam in 1965.

Which prime minister withdrew the troops?

(a) John Gorton
(b) William McMahon
(c) Gough Whitlam
(d) Malcolm Fraser

4. Former prime minister Paul Keating left school at age 14. His teenage jobs included managing a rock band named:

(a) The Ramrods
(b) The Scumbags
(c) The Gutless Spivs
(d) The Painted Gigolos
(e) The Band We Had to Have
(f) The Old Jellybacks

5. Which wily prime minister was a close friend of the CEO/chairman of two of Australia’s biggest transport companies when a bitter confrontation broke out between industry bosses and a transport union which eventually saw that union virtually destroyed?

(a) John Gorton
(b) Malcolm Fraser
(c) Bob Hawke
(d) Paul Keating
(e) John Howard

Bonus question: What was the name of the union?

6. Which candidate for federal leader of an Australian political party in 1994 gave a solemn, witnessed undertaking that if his party appointed or reappointed him leader he would hand over the leadership after one and a half terms as PM?

(a) Bob Hawke
(b) Alexander Downer
(c) Kim Beasley
(d) John Howard
(e) Paul Keating
(f) Peter Reith

7. The most famous undertaking by a recent prime minister begins: “There will be no carbon tax under a government …”

How many words end that undertaking?

(a) Two
(b) Seven
(c) 13
(d) 15

Bonus point: What are the words?

8. The television news clip of Australia's Prime Minister being dragged shoeless by a grim security guy on Australia Day 2012 during a protest in Canberra circulated around the world. The segment shows Julia Gillard’s immediate reaction when warned of potential danger.

Her response was:

(a) “Get me out of here! Help! Help!”
(b) “Well, make sure my staff and the guests are ushered out safely, won’t you?”
(c) “What about Mr Abbott? Where have you got him? We’d better help him through too, hadn’t we?”
(d) “Where’s my shoe? Send the riot squad back for my shoe!”

9. The Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 34 Squadron flies the prime minister in specially fitted aeroplanes. The aircraft’s callsign when the PM is aboard is:

(a) Eaglehawk
(b) Eastern rosella
(c) Emperor
(d) Executive
(e) Envoy

10. A leader in a Westminster democracy once heard rumour of a challenge to his leadership. He immediately called a party meeting and demanded anyone dissatisfied to step forward and challenge. No-one dared.

He was hailed far and wide as a courageous victor for this assertion of his overwhelming authority. The one and only possible challenger swore fealty for life. When this occurred in Australia in March 2013, however, it was an embarrassment, a stalemate, a humiliation, a damp squib and a failure for the victorious leader.

This is because:

(a) the outcome confounded all predictions of the smug commentariat
(b) the leader was a woman
(c) the media and other powerful forces resolved long ago to destroy her administration whatever her accomplishments
(d) all of the above

11. In the third week of March 2013, while the Australian media was obsessed with a non-existent leadership challenge, the Gillard Government achieved which of these:

(a) the National Disability Insurance Scheme
(b) increased pensions and welfare benefits
(c) Hazara refugees now welcome in Australia when their safety in Afghanistan is at risk
(d) national apology supported by all parties to mothers and children forcibly separated for adoption
(e) progress towards eradicating asbestos from old homes and buildings
(f) the Sex Discrimination Act extended to reinforce legal rights of all Australians
(g) Australian workers given the right to negotiate more adaptable working arrangements, including rosters, working hours and unpaid parental leave
(h) compulsory licensing of financial advisers and planners, curbing ripoffs
(i) superannuation funds required to allow members to consolidate multiple accounts
(j) Electoral Commission now able to use Tax Office records to update electoral rolls
(k) coal seam gas operators required to carry out environmental impact studies on their water usage
(l) a new record for legislative action accomplished in one week
(m) all of the above

Bonus question: Was this the week when Australia’s media also set a new world record – the greatest number of far-reaching national developments completely ignored?

12. Which Australian prime minister after taking office never blamed the sorry state of the nation on his predecessor?

(a) Alfred Deakin
(b) Edmund Barton
(c) John Curtin
(d) Bob Hawke
(e) Kevin Rudd


1. (c) Westminster convention only. The Constitution mentions "Ministers of State" but not the prime minister.
2. (b) Stanley Bruce and John Howard. Bruce won his seat back at the following election.
3. (a) and (b) are both correct. Gorton made the initial decision to withdraw. McMahon accelerated the process and extracted all combat troops. Whitlam then withdrew the remaining military advisors.
4. (a) So unimaginative
5. (c) Bob Hawke took on and won a protracted battle with the Australian Federation of Air Pilots in 1989. His mate Peter Abeles was Chairman of TNT and CEO of Ansett.
6. (d) John Howard
7. (d). "There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead. What we will do is we will tackle the challenge of climate change.”
8. (c)
9. (e) Also unimaginative.
10. Probably (d)
11. (m) and almost certainly yes.
12. (b) Edmund Barton had no predecessor.

Disputes with the quizmaster are most welcome and correspondence will definitely be entered into.

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