William McMahon

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Rt Hon Sir William McMahon
20th Prime Minister of Australia
In office
10 March 1971 – 5 December 1972
Preceded by John Gorton
Succeeded by Gough Whitlam
Personal details
Born 23 February 1908(1908-02-23)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died 31 March 1988(1988-03-31) (aged 80)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Sonia McMahon
(m. 1965-1988, his death)
Children Melinda, Julian, Deborah

Sir William McMahon (23 February 1908 – 31 March 1988) was the 20th Prime Minister of Australia. He was elected to the Australian parliament in 1949, and stayed as Member for Lowe, in Sydney, for 33 years. He challenged John Gorton for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Australia in 1971 and won. He was 63 years old. He lost the next election in December 1972 to Gough Whitlam of the Australian Labor Party. This made him the first Prime Minister not to win an election since Labor's Ben Chifley (who lost in 1949). McMahon was married to (Lady) Sonia McMahon from 1965 until his death from cancer. Actor Julian McMahon is their son.[1]

The Liberal party had won lots of elections since 1949, but had some popularity problems by 1971. Australian soldiers were still in the Vietnam War. McMahon replaced John Gorton, then made him defence minister, but soon after made him resign for talking about problems in the Liberal Party. McMahon's government was the first to have a Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Aboriginal land rights were an important topic of debate at this time. On foreign affairs, McMahon said the Opposition leader, Gough Whitlam, was wrong to visit communist China in 1972 - but soon after U.S. President Richard Nixon visited China and McMahon was embarrassed. The economy was not looking too good when the government went to the 1972 election.[2]

References[change | edit source]

Prime Ministers of Australia Flag of Australia.svg
Barton | Deakin | Watson | Reid | Fisher | Cook | Hughes | Bruce | Scullin | Lyons | Page | Menzies | Fadden | Curtin | Forde | Chifley | Holt | McEwen | Gorton | McMahon | Whitlam | Fraser | Hawke | Keating | Howard | Rudd | Gillard | Abbott