Big Winners And Bigger Losers


1. Which Australian prime minister served in the federal Parliament for more than 50 years?

(a) Stanley Bruce
(b) Billy Hughes
(c) Robert Menzies
(d) John Howard

2. The Commonwealth prime ministers’ wartime conference in London in May 1944 was attended by Australia’s John Curtin.

At a cocktail party, an alert 18-year-old Princess Elizabeth noticed him alone and without a drink. So she made him:

(a) a cup of tea
(b) a gin and tonic
(c) a scotch and soda
(d) an original cocktail of vodka, absinthe, lemonade and Pimm’s thereafter known among the aristocracy as a Lemon Lizzie
(e) a non-alcoholic fruit cup

3. Who was the first intrepid prime minister to campaign by aeroplane, with flights between Canberra and his electorate, and in which federal election?

(a) James Scullin in 1929
(b) Stanley Bruce in 1931
(c) Joseph Lyons in 1934
(d) Earle Page in 1937
(e) Robert Menzies in 1940

4. More prime ministerial firsts: three of these statements are true. Which one is false?

(a) Australia’s first Labour (as it was then spelled) PM Chris Watson in 1904 made Australia the first nation in the world with a Labour prime minister.
(b) James Scullin was the ninth prime minister, but the first to choose the Governor-General (Sir Isaac Isaacs, in 1931).
(c) Robert Menzies in 1941 became the first Australian prime minister to fly overseas, when he flew to England in a QANTAS Empire flying boat.
(d) Bob Hawke was the first leader to become prime minister without ever serving as a minister.

5. Which successful prime minister, born in country Victoria in the late 1800s, was a prominent leader of the Federation of Labour – known then as "the Red Feds" – before entering Parliament? His government has been regarded by political science academics as having had the highest level of ministerial integrity of all Westminster nations since 1820 – until surpassed recently.

(a) Andrew Fisher
(b) William Morris Hughes
(c) Michael Joseph Savage
(d) James Henry Scullin

Bonus point: Which Westminster nation prime minister now has the distinction of leading the government with the highest level of ministerial integrity – as measured by sackings and resignations for incompetence or corruption?

6. Which of these prime ministers were removed by their own party during their first term?

(a) Billy Hughes
(b) Robert Menzies
(c) John Gorton
(d) Kevin Rudd
(e) Julia Gillard

7. Biggest loser: one of these statements is false. Which one?

(a) First ALP prime minister Chris Watson established Labor’s solidarity rule – binding all caucus members to party decisions – which was later used to expel him from the party.
(b) William Morris Hughes helped found three political parties, and was expelled from them all: the Labor Party (in 1916), the Nationalist Party (in 1929), and the United Australia Party (in 1944).
(c) Ben Chifley died two days after he was re-elected leader of the federal parliamentary Labor Party on 11 June 1951.
(d) Malcolm Fraser’s loss in the 1983 election – to the Labor Party led by a rampant Bob Hawke – was the biggest loss of seats in any federal election.

8. Of the last five Australian prime ministers, which one did not attend a government high school:

(a) Bob Hawke
(b) Paul Keating
(c) John Howard
(d) Kevin Rudd
(e) Julia Gillard

9. Which of these statements are true? Julia Gillard was:

(a) the first woman to lead a political party in the federal Parliament
(b) the first female federal deputy leader of the Australian Labor Party
(c) the first female leader of the Opposition in federal Parliament
(d) the first female leader of the Australian Labor Party in federal Parliament
(e) first female prime minister of Australia

10. In 1973 Kevin Rudd, aged 15, wrote to then prime minister Gough Whitlam asking for advice on pursuing a diplomatic career.

Whitlam’s advice to the young lad was:

(a) Comrade, you must first join the Labor Party.
(b) Go to university and study international politics.
(c) You must first learn a foreign language.
(d) Study the writings of Manning Clark and Humphrey McQueen.
(e) Forget diplomacy. You have a big future in home insulation.

11. But what of the young Paul Keating and Gough Whitlam?

After an oration which made it apparent the teenager had political aptitude as well as ambition, Keating was approached by the Great Man, who said, "That was a good speech. You should go back, Comrade, and get yourself an honours degree."

Keating’s reply?

(a) Thank you, Comrade Whitlam. I will do as you say.
(b) Well, I will certainly give your excellent advice my most serious consideration, Sir.
(c) What for? Then I'd be like you.

12. Figures have been published showing the rate of legislation passed by governments through Australia’s history.

Just looking at the most recent eight prime ministers – Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Paul Keating, Bob Hawke, Malcolm Fraser, Gough Whitlam and William McMahon – who was most productive, and who was least productive?

(a) Bob Hawke most productive, Malcolm Fraser least productive
(b) John Howard most productive, Julia Gillard least productive
(c) Julia Gillard most productive, Kevin Rudd least productive
(d) Kevin Rudd most productive, John Howard least productive
(e) Paul Keating most productive, William McMahon least productive


1. (b) Billy Hughes
2. (a) a cup of tea, but I wish it was (d).
3. (c) Joseph Lyons in 1934 who required air transport between Canberra – where an airport had been opened in 1931 – and his electorate in Tasmania.
4. (d) The first was John Curtin (1941-45), not Bob Hawke.
5. (c) Michael Joseph Savage, prime minister of New Zealand from 1935 – 1940. Some claim Michael Savage was the greatest prime minister Australia ever produced. His government iswashighly regarded for many accomplishments including having had a very low rate of ministerial departures due to corruption, incompetence or scandal. This record was surpassed in 2012 when the Rudd/Gillard government became the regime with the best record on ministerial integrity in the Westminster world since the early 1820s. I'm sure you read about it …
6. (b) Robert Menzies and (d) Kevin Rudd.
John Gorton and Julia Gillard were second term removals.
7. (d) is false. Malcolm Fraser actually won the greatest victory in 1975 when the Labor government of Gough Whitlam sustained the biggest loss.
8. (b) Paul Keating. He attended De La Salle college in Bankstown, the local Catholic school. He later took night classes at Belmore Technical College for a couple of years in his teens.
9. (d) and (e).
Not (a). The Democrats have had five women leaders. First was Janine Haines.
Not (b). Jenny Macklin preceded Julia as deputy Labor leader.
Not (c). There has never been one.
10. (c) Learn a foreign language. He did.
11. (c)
12. (c) And with a hung Parliament too.

Disputes welcome and correspondence will be entered into.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.