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From August 29 until October 7, 1941, Arthur Fadden served as Australia‘s 13th Prime Minister. In addition to his “40 days and 40 nights” in office, he served as acting prime minister for over two years under his coalition administration with Prime Minister Robert Menzies.
See the fact file below for more information on Arthur Fadden, or you can download our 28-page Arthur Fadden worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- In the Menzies government of 1940-41, Fadden was Minister for Air and Civil Aviation, then Treasurer.
- He became Country Party leader in March 1941, then Prime Minister after Robert Menzies resigned in August 1941.
- Fadden was born in Ingham, north Queensland, on April 13, 1894. He was the firstborn of Irish immigrants Richard and Annie (Moorhead) Fadden, who had ten children.
- Fadden attended Walkerston School when his father, a police officer, was assigned to the little community of Walkerston near Mackay.
- He started working in the local canefields at the age of 15 in 1909. He eventually got a job as an office boy at the Pleystowe sugar mill.
- He was a clerk at the Mackay Town Council by April 1913, and he was interested in local cricket, Rugby Union, and amateur theatre. Fadden’s aptitude for numbers earned him the position of Mackay Town Clerk in 1916. He married local milliner Ilma Thornber on December 27 of that year.
- In September 1918, Fadden opened an accountancy firm in Townsville after completing a correspondence course.
- He eventually founded accounting firms in both Melbourne and Brisbane. Fadden was elected to the Townsville City Council in 1930.
- Fadden joined Queensland’s Country and Progressive National Party and was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly for the Kennedy seat in 1932.
- He was shadow Treasurer in 1934 but was defeated the following year after an election redistribution in Queensland.
- Fadden joined the rural faction that separated from Queensland’s united Country and Progressive National Party in March 1936.
- Since then, Queensland has had a separate Country Party from the United Australia Party.
Member for Darling Downs 1936
- Fadden was elected to the House of Representatives for the Darling Downs district when sitting member Littleton Groom died in a by-election in 1936. In 1937, he was elected in a legislative session that lasted barely 29 days.
- His United Australia Party had 29 seats, the same as John Curtin’s Labor Party.
- On April 26, 1939, Arthur Fadden was sworn in as an Australian cabinet minister. He was a member of the coalition administration led by Robert Menzies’ United Australia Party.
- Three United Australia ministers were killed in an airplane disaster on August 13, 1940.
- Fadden was supposed to be on the trip, but the tragedy turned into his opportunity.
- On October 29, 1940, he was named to the all-party Advisory War Council. The next month, he created his first budget. On March 12, 1941, Fadden was elected leader of the parliamentary Country Party. The United Australia Party chose William Hughes as party leader.
- In a 1936 by-election, Arthur William (Artie) Fadden won the rural Darling Downs seat in southern Queensland. From 1937 until 1955, he ran in eight federal elections. He maintained the Darling Downs seat until 1949 when he acquired the McPherson seat, which he kept in the three successive House of Representatives elections.
- In a by-election on December 19, 1936, Fadden won the Darling Downs seat.
- The Lyons-Page government was re-elected to the House of Representatives with 29 members (one held by an ‘Independent UAP’ candidate). The Country Party, the government’s coalition partner, gained 16 seats, including Fadden’s Darling Downs seat.
- To Labor’s 32 seats, the United Australia Party gained just 23 (and lost one when Arthur Coles proclaimed himself an Independent).
- This was the first double-division election since 1914.
- The Menzies government returned with a reduced majority in the House of Representatives but with control of the Senate. In the House, the Liberal Party and the Labor Party each won 52 seats, and the Country Party 17 seats, including Fadden’s seat of McPherson.
- Arthur William (Artie) Fadden led a coalition administration for 40 days, from August 29 to October 7, 1941.
- After deposing Robert Menzies and appointing William Hughes as a temporary leader, the United Australia Party was an unstable coalition partner, jostling for control.
- Though Labor leader John Curtin maintained Labor’s unwavering opposition to an all-party wartime “national government,” Fadden subsequently observed that the Leader of the Opposition had consistently offered “friendship, collaboration, understanding, and loyalty.”
- Arthur William (Artie) Fadden remained in parliament for 17 years after his brief tenure as Prime Minister in 1941.
- He was the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer in Robert Menzies’ coalition administration for nine years, from 1949 to his resignation from Cabinet in 1958.
- Fadden left the House of Commons in 1958 to pursue his business interests.
Leader of the Opposition 1941-1943
- Robert Menzies stepped down as leader of the United Australia Party following the fall of the Fadden administration.
- Percy Spender was defeated by William Hughes, 77, by one vote. Following that, a combined United Australia Party-Country Party gathering chose Arthur Fadden as coalition leader and Leader of the Opposition.
- To the chagrin of members of his own party, especially Robert Menzies, William Hughes relied on coalition party gatherings.
- Menzies informed his Kooyong constituents in July 1943 that he did not endorse some aspects of the coalition electoral platform. Fadden was enraged by this “stab in the back.”
- Fadden resigned as Leader of the Opposition on September 23, 1943, following the coalition parties’ catastrophic election performance on August 21, 1943. Robert Menzies, who had succeeded William Hughes as head of the United Australia Party, was elected Leader of the Opposition.
- Despite this turbulent start, Arthur Fadden remained the Country Party’s leader for 17 years. Menzies led the Liberal Party for 21 years after its foundation in 1944.
- For 15 years, the two presidents maintained a stable coalition and a solid political relationship. They led a coalition administration for nine of those years.
- With 55 members in the expanded House of Representatives, the Liberal Party, led by Robert Menzies, secured an absolute majority and constituted government.
- He was sworn in as Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister on December 19, 1950.
- In the final investiture of King George VI, who died the following month, the Knight Commander of the Order of St George and St Michael was bestowed upon him.
- The Fadden’s traveled to Canada and the United States for meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank from September to November 1954.
- Sir Roland Wilson, the Treasury Secretary, was a significant adviser. During Arthur Fadden’s stint as Treasurer, the Commonwealth Bank was restructured in 1957, establishing the Reserve Bank of Australia as the government’s central bank.
- The Commonwealth Savings Bank and the Commonwealth Trading Bank were overseen by a distinct Commonwealth Banking Corporation. Fadden also spearheaded legislation creating a Commonwealth Development Bank, which was passed in 1959.
- On March 26, 1958, Fadden resigned as parliamentary leader of the Country Party and deputy Prime Minister, and John McEwen was elected as his replacement. Fadden stepped down as Treasurer on December 10, 1958, after retiring from parliament.
- Fadden continued his company and stayed engaged in political and community organizations after retiring.
- Arthur Fadden died on April 21, 1973, in Brisbane, a week after his 78th birthday.
Arthur Fadden Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Arthur Fadden across 28 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching kids about Arthur Fadden, who served as Australia’s 13th Prime Minister from August to October 1941.
Complete List of Included Worksheets
Below is a list of all the worksheets included in this document.
- Arthur Fadden Facts
- Must Need Them
- Who Am I?
- Search for the Answer
- Stamp Me
- Story of His Life
- Past VS Present
- Take the Risk
- Scene to Remember
- For the Future
- Mark It
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Link will appear as Arthur Fadden Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 10, 2022
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.