Spouse of the prime minister of Australia
Currently in role
Jenny Morrison
Since August 24, 2018
ResidenceThe Lodge (Primary)
Kirribilli House (Secondary)
Inaugural holderJane Barton
Formation1 January 1901
Dame Mary Hughes and Dame Enid Lyons (pictured together in 1955) are among the longest-serving prime minister's wives, both holding the position for more than seven years.
Dame Mary Hughes and Dame Enid Lyons (pictured together in 1955) are among the longest-serving prime minister's wives, both holding the position for more than seven years.

The spouse of the prime minister of Australia is generally a high-profile individual, and assists the prime minister with his or her ceremonial duties as well as performing various other functions. The wife of the current prime minister is Jenny Morrison.

With a few exceptions, the prime minister's spouse has been a public figure and the subject of media interest. Most have used the position to promote charitable causes. By convention, the spouse of the prime minister serves as the host or hostess of The Lodge and Kirribilli House, the official residences of the prime minister. He or she also assists the prime minister in welcoming foreign dignitaries to Parliament House and various other locations during ceremonial events. However, the position is unpaid and there are no official responsibilities.

The prime minister is often assisted by his or her spouse when campaigning at elections. However, only two prime minister's spouses have held public office in their own right – Enid Lyons became the first woman elected to the House of Representatives several years after her husband's death in office, while Lucy Turnbull served as Lord Mayor of Sydney over a decade before her husband became prime minister. Ethel Page held senior offices in the organisational wing of the Country Party.

All prime ministers except John McEwen and Julia Gillard were married for the duration of their term in office. McEwen was a widower during his short term, while Gillard had a domestic partner, Tim Mathieson. Until relatively recently it was uncommon for the spouse of a prime minister to have their own career. Zara Holt, a fashion designer, was the first to continue her career during her husband's term in office, and reputedly earned more money than him. Other businesswomen to hold the position have included Thérèse Rein, who ran an employment services company, and Margie Abbott, who ran a childcare centre. Bettina Gorton was an academic who lectured part-time at the Australian National University.

Role

The prime minister's spouse has no official duties. Some earlier spouses stayed mainly at home and took little part in public life.[1] Although a prime minister's wife may be unofficially referred to as Australia's "first lady",[a] a spouse does not receive a staff or official budget.[5]

However, most recent prime ministers' spouses have been involved in charities or community organisations, working to raise public awareness, funds, and support for a range of causes. They generally assist their partners in political campaigns, and participate in official duties that come with the position, such as hosting foreign dignitaries, and, in particular, entertaining the spouses of dignitaries; accompanying the prime ministers on national and international trips; attending conferences and functions; and speaking in public, particularly in the prime minister's constituency.[6] They have attended the opening of Parliament; hosted visitors at The Lodge and Kirribilli House; visited Buckingham Palace, the White House, or the Japanese Imperial Palace; and been present at royal coronations and conferences.[6]

Others were initially preoccupied with rearing children, most notably Dame Enid Lyons (1932–39), who had 12 children (one died in infancy). In 1943, four years after her husband's death in office, she was the first woman to be elected to the House of Representatives. She was a junior minister in the Menzies Government from 1949 to 1951.

Official recognition

Some prime ministers' spouses have received official recognition for their services to the community:

Tamie Fraser was the first spouse of a prime minister to be provided with an official secretary for dealing with her correspondence.[9]

List of spouses

No. Portrait Spouse
(Maiden name)
Tenure Length of tenure Prime Minister
1
Jane "Jeanie" Barton (née Ross)
11 June 1851 – 23 March 1938
(aged 86)
1 January 1901

24 September 1903
2 years, 8 months and 23 days Barton
m. 1877
2
Elizabeth Martha Ann "Pattie" Deakin (née Browne)
1 January 1863 – 30 December 1934
(aged 71)
24 September 1903

27 April 1904
7 months and 3 days Deakin
m. 1882
3
Ada Jane Watson (née Low)
4 February 1855 – 19 July 1921
(aged 66)
27 April 1904

18 August 1904
3 months and 22 days Watson
m. 1889
4
Florence Ann "Flora" Reid (née Brumby)
10 November 1876 – 1 September 1950
(aged 82)
18 August 1904

5 July 1905
10 months and 17 days Reid
m. 1891
(2)
Elizabeth Martha Ann "Pattie" Deakin (née Browne)
1 January 1863 – 30 December 1934
(aged 71)
5 July 1905

13 November 1908
3 years, 4 months and 8 days Deakin
m. 1882
5
Margaret Jane Fisher (née Irvine)
1874 – 15 June 1958
(aged 83–84)
13 November 1908

2 June 1909
6 months and 20 days Fisher
m. 1901
(2)
Elizabeth Martha Ann "Pattie" Deakin (née Browne)
1 January 1863 – 30 December 1934
(aged 71)
2 June 1909

29 April 1910
10 months and 27 days Deakin
m. 1882
(5)
Margaret Jane Fisher (née Irvine)
1874 – 15 June 1958
(aged 83–84)
29 April 1910

24 June 1913
3 years, 1 month and 26 days Fisher
m. 1901
6
Mary Cook (née Turner)
1863 – 24 September 1950
(aged 86–87)
24 June 1913

17 September 1914
1 year, 2 months and 24 days Cook
m. 1885
(5)
Margaret Jane Fisher (née Irvine)
1874 – 15 June 1958
(aged 83–84)
17 September 1914

27 October 1915
1 year, 1 month and 10 days Fisher
m. 1901
7
Mary Ethel Hughes (née Campbell)
6 June 1874 – 2 April 1958
(aged 83)
27 October 1915

9 February 1923
7 years, 3 months and 13 days Hughes
m. 1911
8
Ethel Dunlop Bruce (née Anderson)
25 May 1879 – 16 March 1967
(aged 88)
9 February 1923

22 March 1929
6 years, 1 month and 13 days Bruce
m. 1913
9
Sarah Maria Scullin (née McNamara)
21 April 1880 – 31 May 1962
(aged 82)
22 March 1929

6 January 1932
2 years, 9 months and 15 days Scullin
m. 1907
10
Dame Enid Muriel Lyons (née Burnell)
GBE
19 July 1897 – 2 September 1981
(aged 84)
6 January 1932

7 April 1939
7 years, 3 months and 1 day Lyons
m. 1915
11
Ethel Ester Page (née Blunt)
20 September 1875 – 26 May 1958
(aged 82)
7 April 1939

26 April 1939
19 days Page
m. 1906
12
Pattie Maie Menzies (née Leckie)
2 March 1899 – 30 August 1995
(aged 96)
26 April 1939

29 August 1941
2 years, 4 months and 3 days Menzies
m. 1920
13
Ilma Nita Fadden (née Thornber)
2 April 1895[10] – 14 May 1987
(aged 92)
29 August 1941

7 October 1941
1 month and 8 days Fadden
m. 1916
14
Elsie Curtin (née Needham)
4 October 1890 – 24 June 1975
(aged 84)
7 October 1941

5 July 1945
3 years, 8 months and 28 days Curtin
m. 1921
15
Veronica "Vera" Forde (née O'Reilly)
31 December 1894 – 9 November 1967
(aged 72)
5 July 1945

13 July 1945
8 days Forde
m. 1925
16
Elizabeth Gibson "Lizzie" Chifley (née McKenzie)
1 August 1886 – 9 September 1962
(aged 76)
13 July 1945

19 December 1949
4 years, 5 months and 6 days Chifley
m. 1914
(12)
Dame Pattie Maie Menzies (née Leckie)
GBE
2 March 1899 – 30 August 1995
(aged 96)
19 December 1949

26 January 1966
16 years, 1 month and 7 days Menzies
m. 1920
17
Zara Kate Holt (née Dickins)
10 March 1909 – 14 June 1989
(aged 80)
26 January 1966

17 December 1967
1 year, 10 months and 21 days Holt
m. 1947
01.1 Vacant 17 December 1967

10 January 1968
24 days McEwen
Widower
18
Bettina Edith Gorton (née Brown)
23 June 1915 – 2 October 1983
(aged 68)
10 January 1968

10 March 1971
3 years and 2 months Gorton
m. 1935
19
Sonia Rachel McMahon (née Hopkins)
1 August 1932 – 2 April 2010
(aged 77)
10 March 1971

5 December 1972
1 year, 8 months and 25 days McMahon
m. 1965
20
Margaret Elaine Whitlam, (née Dovey)
19 November 1919 – 17 March 2012
(aged 92)
5 December 1972

11 November 1975
2 years, 11 months and 6 days Whitlam
m. 1942
21
Tamara Margaret "Tamie" Fraser (née Beggs)
28 February 1936
(aged 85)
11 November 1975

5 March 1983
7 years, 3 months and 22 days Fraser
m. 1956
22
Hazel Susan Hawke (née Masterson)
20 July 1929 – 23 May 2013
(aged 83)
5 March 1983

20 December 1991
8 years, 9 months and 15 days Hawke
m. 1956
23
Anna Johanna Maria "Annita" Keating (née van Iersel)
5 October 1948
(aged 73)
20 December 1991

11 March 1996
4 years, 2 months and 20 days Keating
m. 1975
24
Janette Howard (née Parker)
11 August 1944
(aged 77)
11 March 1996

3 December 2007
11 years, 8 months and 22 days Howard
m. 1971
25
Thérèse Rein
17 July 1958
(aged 63)
3 December 2007

24 June 2010
2 years, 6 months and 21 days Rudd
m. 1981
26
Timothy Raymond "Tim" Mathieson
1957
(aged 63–64)
24 June 2010

27 June 2013
3 years and 3 days Gillard
domestic partner
(25)
Thérèse Rein
17 July 1958
(aged 63)
27 June 2013

18 September 2013
2 months and 22 days Rudd
m. 1981
27
Margaret Veronica "Margie" Abbott (née Aitken)
1 February 1958
(aged 63)
18 September 2013

15 September 2015
1 year, 11 months and 28 days Abbott
m. 1988
28
Lucinda Mary "Lucy" Turnbull (née Hughes)
AO
30 March 1958
(aged 63)
15 September 2015

24 August 2018
2 years, 11 months and 9 days Turnbull
m. 1980
29
Jennifer "Jenny" Morrison (née Warren)
8 January 1968
(aged 53)
24 August 2018

Incumbent
3 years, 2 months and 16 days* Morrison
m. 1989

* Incumbent's length of tenure last updated: 9 November 2021.

Living former spouses

There are currently seven living spouses of former prime ministers of Australia:

Spouse Tenure Date of birth Age (longevity)
Tamara Margaret "Tamie" Fraser 1975–1983 (1936-02-28)28 February 1936 85 years, 254 days (31,301 days)
Anna Johanna Maria "Annita" Keating 1991–1996 (1948-10-05)5 October 1948 73 years, 35 days (26,698 days)
Janette Howard 1996–2007 (1944-08-11)11 August 1944 77 years, 90 days (28,214 days)
Thérèse Rein 2007–2010, 2013 (1958-07-17)17 July 1958 63 years, 115 days (23,126 days)
Timothy Raymond "Tim" Mathieson 2010–2013 1957 63 years, 313 days to 64 years, 302 days (23324 days to 23678 days)
Margaret Veronica "Margie" Abbott 2013–2015 (1958-02-01)1 February 1958 63 years, 281 days (23,292 days)
Lucinda Mary "Lucy" Turnbull 2015–2018 (1958-03-30)30 March 1958 63 years, 224 days (23,235 days)

[11]

The most recent spouse of an Australian prime minister to die was Hazel Hawke (ex-wife of Bob Hawke), on 23 May 2013.[12]

Others

A number of prime ministers have remarried after leaving office or had marriages that ended before taking office.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The only male (as of March 2020), Tim Mathieson, was sometimes referred to as the "first bloke".[2][3][4]

References

  1. ^ "Elizabeth Chifley". Australia's Prime Ministers. National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
  2. ^ Harris, Talek (25 June 2010). "Beer-swilling hairdresser is Australia's 'First Bloke'". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  3. ^ "First Bloke Tim Mathieson apologises for prostate joke 'in poor taste'". The Australian. 28 September 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  4. ^ Walsh, Kerry-Anne; Benns, Matthew (27 June 2010). "First bloke is a man's man". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  5. ^ Visentin, Lisa (25 August 2018). "Jenny Morrison, Australia's new first lady". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b "National Hostess". Mrs Prime Minister—Public Image, Private Lives: Travelling exhibition. Old Parliament House (Commonwealth of Australia: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts). Retrieved 30 July 2008.
  7. ^ Australian Women's Register. Retrieved 27 June 2013
  8. ^ National Archives of Australia, Australia’s Prime Ministers: Pattie Deakin. Retrieved 27 June 2013
  9. ^ "Tamie Fraser". Australia's Prime Ministers. National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ Updated daily according to UTC.
  12. ^ Carolyn Webb and Catherine Chisholm, The Age, 23 May 2013. "Hazel Hawke dies after battle with dementia"

Further reading