Harold Holt

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Harold Holt was Australia’s 17th Prime Minister. Before he became Prime Minister in 1966, he was a member of parliament for 31 years, which was the longest time for any Australian Prime Minister. He was born in Stanmore, New South Wales, and his childhood was hard. When he was 10, his parents split up, and when he was 16, his mother died. Because his parents split up and his mother died when he was young, he grew up alone and scared. He got a scholarship to Queen’s College at the University of Melbourne, where he did well in cricket, football, and debating, among other things. Viola Thring, his first love, left him for his father. Harold then got his law degree, but he couldn’t find work because of the Great Depression. His father wanted him to study more in England, but as the economy got worse, he was no longer able to do so. In the early 1930s, he ran for federal office a few times but lost. It wasn’t until the 1935 by-elections that he finally won. When Robert Menzies became Prime Minister, he made Harold a Minister without a portfolio and became his mentor. From there, he worked hard and slowly moved up the political ladder until he was the Prime Minister. But fate got in the way again, and soon he was getting harsh criticism from his own party members about a number of things. In the first year of his job, he went swimming with his friends and never came back. Even though Australia had one of the biggest searches in its history, they couldn’t find him or his body.

Early years and childhood

Harold Edward Holt was born to Thomas James Holt and Olive May on August 5, 1908, in Stanmore, New South Wales. Cliff, his younger brother, was born in 1910. When he was 10, his parents split up.

Holt first went to Randwick Public School and then spent a short time at Abbotsholme, Killara. When he was 11 years old, he and his brother were both sent to Wesley Preparatory School in Melbourne. Harold got a lot of awards there for sports, character, and being a leader.

Harold won a scholarship to Queen’s College at the University of Melbourne, where he started studying law in 1927. He was very good at cricket and football, and he led the Sports and Social Club and the Law Student’s Society.

He got his degree in 1930, and on November 10, 1932, he was let into the Victorian Bar. Because of the Great Depression, he couldn’t find work as a lawyer, so he became a lawyer’s assistant in 1933.

Harold Holt’s Career

Harold Holt became more and more interested in politics, so in 1933 he joined the Prahran branch of the “United Australia Party” (UAP). He ran against former Prime Minister James Scullin for the Labor seat of Yarra but lost.
In March 1935, he ran for the Labor seat of Clifton Hill in the state of Victoria but lost. In August of the same year, he won a by-election in Fawkner and became one of Australia’s youngest MPs. He was in office until 1949.

Robert Menzies, who had been his mentor, became Prime Minister in 1939. He put him to work as a Minister without Portfolio. Holt worked with the Minister for Development and Supply.
In October 1939, he became the Minister in Charge of Scientific and Industrial Research. From November to December 1939, he was also the Acting Minister for Air and Civil Aviation.

He joined the Second Australian Imperial Force as a gunner in May 1940, but he did not quit his job. But a few months later, when an airplane crash killed three Cabinet ministers, Prime Minister Menzies called Holt back from the Army. Holt was first named Minister without Portfolio, and in October 1940, he was named Minister for Labour and National Service.

In August 1941, there was a revolt on the front bench, which forced Menzies to step down. Holt was one of the people who surprised everyone by pulling their support. A “no-confidence” vote got rid of UAP after two months. 1944 was the official end of the party.

In 1945, Menzies joined with the Country Party to make a new party called the “Liberal Party of Australia.” Harold was one of the first people to join the Prahran branch of the party. He became the main and most vocal opponent of socialism.

Harold was named “Minister for Labour and National Service” from 1949 to 1958 and “Minister for Immigration” from 1949 to 1956 when the coalition took power.
In 1953, he was made a Privy Councilor, and in 1956, he became the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and the Leader of the House.

In 1958, he was named Treasurer, and in 1959, he gave his first budget. He set up the Reserve Bank of Australia and planned for decimal money to be used.

In 1960, he made a mini-budget to reduce the deficit, slow down consumption, and control inflation. The move backfired, sending the economy into a recession, sending the stock market down, and sending unemployment to a 30-year high.

In the 1961 election, Liberal Billy Sneeden’s narrow victory in Bruce saved the coalition government.
Menzies left office in 1966, and Harold was chosen as the leader of the Liberal Party. On Australia Day, January 26, Harold became the prime minister.

Holt got the job at the worst time possible. As the “Cold War” was at its height and the world’s political, economic, and military alliances were being redrawn, he was in charge of the CIA.

During Holt’s time as prime minister, the 1967 referendum was held. An overwhelming majority of Australians voted in favor of giving the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Indigenous Australians and to include them in the Commonwealth census.

In 1967, the Holt government did something that had never been done before: it was the first time in history that the Australian dollar was not devalued along with the British pound sterling.

Works of note

Holt got the Child Endowment Act passed in 1941 when he was Minister for Labour and National Service.
Harold Holt did two things that changed history while he was Prime Minister. First, he held the 1967 referendum. Second, he didn’t let the Australian dollar fall in value along with the British pound sterling, as had been done in the past.

Personal History and Legacies

Harold Holt dated Viola Thring, whose father was a business partner of his father’s. She eventually married his father, who was already divorced, and became Harold’s stepmother.

Holt went out with Zara Kate Dickins when he was in college. After they broke up in 1934, she moved to London, married a British Army officer in March 1935, and had three boys. Her marriage didn’t last long. In 1946, she married Harold, and he took the three boys in.

Estimated Net worth

Harold is on the list of the most popular and wealthiest politicians. Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider all say that Harold Holt has a net worth of about $1.5 million.


In 1954, he was chosen as one of the six best-dressed men in Australia.