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Rt. Hon. John McEwen CH GCMG PC

1900 – 1980

Sir John (‘Black Jack’) McEwen CH GCMG PC (1900-1980) was leader of the Australian Country Party and deputy prime minister from 1958 to 1971. He took up a land grant after war service and built up a productive holding in Victoria. He joined the Country Party at 19, and became minister for the interior in 1937, a portfolio with many and varied responsibilities including immigration, Aborigines, mining, oil exploration and railways. After serving on the Advisory War Council he had a continuous run of 21 years as a minister during which he secured trade agreements with Britain and negotiated the Agreement on Commerce with Japan (in 1973, he was appointed to the Order of the Rising Sun). He was an articulate proponent of protectionism, to the extent that it was known as ‘McEwenism’. During Menzies’s prime ministership McEwen acted as prime minister ten times, and after Harold Holt’s death in late 1967 he was appointed caretaker prime minister. McEwen retired from politics in early 1971; in 1975, he sold his beloved farm to spend his last years in Toorak.

Updated 2017