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John Gorton
, 1997

by Nathan Kelly

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 40.3 cm x 30.3 cm, image: 31.4 cm x 20.7 cm)

Sir John Grey Gorton GCMG AC CH (1911-2002) was prime minister of Australia from January 1968 to March 1971, selected for the office after Harold Holt vanished. His flirty and raffish style was unprecedented in a Liberal leader, and he anticipated the mood of the Whitlam years in establishing such bodies as the Australia Council and the Australian Film and Television School. Relationships between the government and the states were strained, however, and Gorton snubbed many of his best departmental heads. In March 1971 the defence minister, Malcolm Fraser, resigned when he could not secure Gorton's support. Gorton stood down, becoming defence minister under McMahon, but was sacked when he published a series of articles criticising his Cabinet colleagues. He was estranged from the Liberal Party until 1999, when he was honoured at a dinner in Old Parliament House.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2002
Accession number: 2003.207