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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Senator John Button

1987
Andrew Sibley

oil on canvas (183 cm x 137.5 cm)

John Button (1933-2008), Labor politician, studied arts and law at the University of Melbourne and made his name as a barrister in Melbourne before becoming involved in the Victorian branch of the Labor Party in the late 1950s. Over the next decade he endeavoured along with a group of other moderates to move the branch from the left to the middle ground. In 1974 he was elected to the Senate. Deputy Labor Leader and then Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1977, in the leadup to the 1983 election he helped to engineer Bob Hawke's accession to the leadership. That year, he began a ten-year stint as Minister for Industry and Commerce, during which he pressed through far-reaching industrial reforms. After his retirement in 1993 he continued to influence the party while teaching at Monash University and writing the hit memoir As it Happened (1998). Just before his death, political commentator Alan Ramsey described Button as 'the best Prime Minister we never had'.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 1999
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Andrew Sibley/Copyright Agency, 2021

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Andrew Sibley (age 54 in 1987)

John Button (age 54 in 1987)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

Donated by

Andrew Sibley (16 portraits)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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