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John Gorton
, 1970, cast 1999

by Victor Greenhalgh

cast bronze

The Rt Hon Sir John Gorton GCMG AC CH (1911–2002), elected Liberal prime minister of Australia in 1968, resigned from the office in 1971 after a party motion of confidence resulted in a tied vote. Gorton had been elected in the Menzies landslide of 1949, but adopted policies significantly different from those of the Menzies era. Candid, brusque and irreverent, with cigarette perpetually in hand, he won the leadership of the Liberal Party after the death of Harold Holt. Considering himself ‘Australian to the boot heels’, he initiated the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam and restricted opportunities for overseas control of Australia’s natural resources. It was hoped that he would be able to stand up to the aggressive new Labor leader, Gough Whitlam, but his most damaging opponents were to be conservatives from within his own party. He resigned from the Liberal Party after Malcolm Fraser won the leadership in 1975, and ended his career as an independent.

The National Portrait Gallery has the terracotta head of Gorton that Greenhalgh made as the basis for his bronze head in the Ballarat gardens. This bronze was also cast from that terracotta version.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Cast 1999, from terracotta donated by
Paul and Wendy Greenhalgh 1999
Accession number: 1999.80