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People of the Liberal Party:
Harold Holt

    Prime Minister from 26 January 1966 to 19 December 1967

    Harold Holt was born on 5 August 1908. His father Thomas J. Holt was a theatrical entrepreneur.

    He attended Wesley College in Melbourne, then Melbourne University, becoming a Solicitor.

    In 1935, he was elected to parliament for the United Australia Party, winning the seat of Fawkner.

    Holt enlisted as a gunner in World War II, however he was called back 5 months later without service, when three of Menzies cabinet ministers were killed in an air crash. He was appointed Minister for Labour and National Service.

    When Menzies lost Government in 1941, Holt sat on the opposition benches, until Menzies win in 1949, where he was Minister for Immigration, and also Labour. In 1956 he became Deputy Leader. In 1958 he became Treasurer.

    In 1965 Holt met President Johnson and discussed Australia's involvement with the Vietnam War.

    In January 1966, Holt was announced as Menzies successor. He initiated closer ties with many Asian neighbours.

    In November 1966 Holt was re-elected largely due to the opposition being disarray. 1967 however, saw the rise of Gough Whitlam as the new ALP leader and Holt started to feel the strains. The Vietnam War began to overshadow his Government.

    1967, did see a successful referendum put forward by the Government to give Aboriginal Rights.

    In the following months, there was a scandal over VIP aircraft use without authority. Opposition continued to the Vietnam War, and prior to Christmas 1967 Holt was handed a letter from the Party whip which raised concerns from MPs about the Government's performance.

    On 17 December, 1967 Holt disappeared, last seen swimming in heavy seas at Cheviot Beach, Victoria.

    Many conspiracy theories arose, similar to JFK. One was that the CIA had Holt assassinated because he was about to withdraw Australian troops from Vietnam. This was supported when the next Prime Minister John Gorton increased the war efforts.

    It is believed though, that Holt wished to escape the pressures of the year and in the sea where he was a strong swimmer and felt so comfortable.

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Written and Authorised by A.Molloy, PO Box 669, Double Bay, 2028.
Responsibility for Election Commentary taken by A.Molloy, PO Box 669, Double Bay, 2028.
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