John Grey Gorton
John Grey Gorton

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Name: John Grey Gorton
Occupation: Politician
Gender: Male
Birth Day: September 9, 1911
Death Date: May 19, 2002 (age 90)
Age: Aged 90
Country: Australia
Zodiac Sign: Virgo

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John Grey Gorton

John Grey Gorton was born on September 9, 1911 in Australia (90 years old). John Grey Gorton is a Politician, zodiac sign: Virgo. Find out John Grey Gortonnet worth 2020, salary 2020 detail bellow.


He is the only Australian Senator to have ever been elected Prime Minister.

Does John Grey Gorton Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, John Grey Gorton died on May 19, 2002 (age 90).

Net Worth

Net Worth 2020


Salary 2020

Not known

Before Fame

He served in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War Two where he sustained dramatic facial injuries.

Biography Timeline


Gorton spent his early years living with his maternal grandparents in Port Melbourne, as his parents were frequently away on business trips. When he was about four years old, his parents took him to live with them in Sydney, where they had an apartment at Edgecliff. Gorton began his education at Edgecliff Preparatory School. When he was eight years old, his mother contracted tuberculosis and was sent to a sanatorium to avoid passing on the disease. She died in September 1920, aged 32. Gorton's grieving father sent his son to live with his estranged wife Kathleen. There, he met his sister Ruth for the first time; he had previously been told that she was dead. Although she was his full sibling, she had been raised by Kathleen since birth, and rarely saw her biological parents. Gorton initially lived with Kathleen and Ruth at their home in Cronulla. They later moved into a larger house in Killara, in the north of Sydney.


While living in Killara, Gorton began attending Headfort College, a short-lived private school run by a former Anglican minister. In 1924, he began boarding at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore), initially on a weekly basis but later on a full-time one. He did not excel academically, failing the Intermediate Certificate on his first attempt, but was a well-liked boy and good at sports. Gorton began spending his holidays with his father, who had purchased a property in Mystic Park, Victoria, and planted a citrus orchard. He left Shore at the end of 1926, and the following year began boarding at Geelong Grammar School, which he would attend for four years from 1927–30. He represented the school in athletics, football, and rowing, and in his final year was a school prefect and house captain.


After leaving Geelong Grammar, Gorton spent a year working on his father's property in Mystic Park. His father then took out a second mortgage to allow him to travel to England and attend Oxford University. Gorton arrived in England in early-1932, and after a period at a "cramming school" passed the exam to enter Brasenose College. He also took flying lessons around the same time, and was awarded a pilot's licence in June 1932. Gorton began his degree in October 1932 and finished in June 1935 with an "upper second" in History, Politics, and Economics. He was initially something of an outsider, with relatively little money and no social connections. However, his prowess in rowing – he won the O.U.B.C. Fours in his first year, and was Captain of the Brasenose College Boat Club – saw him elected to Vincent's Club and Leander Club. In 1934, while on holiday in Spain, he met his future wife Bettina Brown, the younger sister of one of his College friends. They married in early 1935.


During a holiday in Spain while still an undergraduate, Gorton met Bettina Brown of Bangor, Maine, United States. She was a language student at the Sorbonne. This meeting came about through Gorton's friend from Oxford, Arthur Brown, who was Bettina's brother. In 1935, Gorton and Bettina Brown were married in Oxford. After his studies were finished, they settled in Australia, taking over his father's orchard, "Mystic Park", at Lake Kangaroo near Kerang, Victoria. They had three children: Joanna, Michael and Robin. Gorton's first wife died of cancer in 1983. In 1993, he remarried to Nancy Home (née Elliott) a long-time acquaintance.


After his graduation, Gorton and his wife returned to Australia via the United States, spending some time with her family in Maine. He had expected to take up a position at The Herald and Weekly Times, Keith Murdoch's newspaper group. However, he arrived in Melbourne to find his father in failing health; he died in August 1936. Gorton had taken over the management of his father's orchard as soon as he entered hospital. He inherited an overdraft of £5,000, which took several years to pay off. However, the property – located on the western side of Kangaroo Lake – was in good condition, requiring only minor improvements. He employed up to ten seasonal workers during picking season. Mystic Park remained his primary residence until he was appointed to the ministry, at which point he and his family moved to Canberra.


On 31 May 1940, following the outbreak of World War II, Gorton enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve. At the age of 29, Gorton was considered too old for pilot training, but he re-applied in September after this rule was relaxed. Gorton was accepted and commissioned into the RAAF on 8 November 1940. He trained as a fighter pilot at Somers, Victoria and Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, before being sent to the UK. Gorton completed his training at RAF Heston and RAF Honiley, with No. 61 Operational Training Unit RAF, flying Supermarine Spitfires. He was disappointed when his first operational posting was No. 135 Squadron RAF, a Hawker Hurricane unit, as he considered the type greatly inferior to Spitfires.


During late 1941, Gorton and other members of his squadron became part of the cadre of a Hurricane wing being formed for service in the Middle East. They were sent by sea, with 50 Hurricanes in crates, travelling around Africa to reduce the risk of attack. In December, when the ship was at Durban, South Africa, it was diverted to Singapore, after Japan entered the war. As it approached its destination in mid-January, Japanese forces were advancing down the Malayan Peninsula. The ship was attacked on at least one occasion by Japanese aircraft, but arrived and unloaded safely after tropical storms made enemy air raids impossible. As the Hurricanes were assembled, the pilots were formed into a composite operational squadron, No. 232 Squadron RAF.


After arriving in Australia he was posted to Darwin on 12 August 1942 with No. 77 Squadron RAAF (Kittyhawks). During this time he was involved in his second air accident. While flying P-40E A29-60 on 7 September 1942, he was forced to land due to an incorrectly set fuel cock. Both Gorton and his aircraft were recovered several days later after spending time in the bush. On 21 February 1943 the squadron was relocated to Milne Bay, New Guinea.


Gorton's final air incident came on 18 March 1943. His A29-192 Kittyhawk's engine failed on takeoff, causing the aircraft to flip at the end of the strip. Gorton was unhurt. In March 1944, Gorton was sent back to Australia with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. His final posting was as a Flying Instructor with No. 2 Operational Training Unit at Mildura, Victoria. He was then discharged from the RAAF on 5 December 1944.


During late 1944 Gorton went to Heidelberg Hospital for surgery which could not fully repair his facial injuries; he was left permanently disfigured.


After resuming his life in Mystic Park, Gorton was elected unopposed to the Kerang Shire Council in September 1946. He remained on the council until 1952, overlapping with his first term in the Senate, and from 1949 to 1950 served as shire president. Although he had little previous experience, Gorton began to develop a reputation as a powerful public speaker. His first major speech, in April 1946, was an address to a welcome-home gathering for returned soldiers at the Mystic Park Hall. In what John Brogden has described as "Australia's best unknown political speech", he exhorted his audience to honour those who had died in the war by building "a world in which meanness and poverty, tyranny and hate, have no existence". Gorton's next major speech was made in September 1947, at a rally against the Chifley Government's attempt to nationalise private banks. He told the crowd in Kerang that they should oppose the establishment of banks run by politicians, and objected in particular to the government's decision not to take the issue to a referendum. According to his biographer Ian Hancock, "the bank nationalisation issue marked his advance beyond purely local politics and stamped him firmly and publicly as an anti-socialist".


Gorton had been a supporter of the Country Party before the war, along with most of his neighbours. Over time, he became frustrated with the party's frequent squabbles with the Liberal Party and its willingness to cooperate with the Labor Party. After the Victorian Country Party withdrew from its coalition with the Liberals in December 1948, Gorton became involved in efforts to form a new anti-socialist movement that would absorb both parties. At some point he was introduced to Magnus Cormack, the state president of the Liberals, who became something of a mentor. In March 1949, Gorton was elected to the state executive of the new organisation, which named itself the Liberal and Country Party (LCP). On a number of occasions he addressed Country Party gatherings, urging its members to join the new party and stressing that it would not neglect rural interests, as many feared. However, the LCP did not achieve its goal of uniting the anti-Labor forces, as most Country Party members viewed it as simply a takeover attempt; the new party affiliated with the federal Liberal Party of Australia.

Gorton was a nominal Christian at least in the early part of his life, but was not a churchgoer. Some sources have identified him as agnostic or even atheist. He attended Anglican schools, and was influenced by the Christian socialist views of James Ralph Darling, his headmaster at Geelong Grammar. In a 1948 speech, Gorton said that "the story of Christianity is the most tremendous in the history of the world". However, in the lead-up to the 1999 referendum he publicly opposed mentioning God in the preamble. According to his biographer Ian Hancock: "Gorton may not have been a believing, let alone a practising, Christian, and when he spoke of religion of 'the soul' he did not have a particular faith in mind. Rather, his religion was founded upon the injunction in the Book of Deuteronomy: 'Man doth not live by bread only'."


In June 1949, Gorton stood for the Victorian Legislative Council as the LCP candidate in Northern Province. It was a safe Country Party seat, and at the preceding three elections no other parties had bothered to field a candidate. Making right-wing unity the focal point of his campaign, Gorton polled 48.8 percent of the vote to finish less than 400 votes behind the sitting member, George Tuckett. The result impressed the LCP's leadership, and the following month he was preselected in third place on its joint Senate ticket with the Country Party. He was relatively unknown within the party, and his rural background was a major factor in his selection. The Coalition won a large majority at the 1949 federal election, including four out of Victoria's seven senators. The LCP candidates joined the parliamentary Liberal Party.


Gorton's term in the Senate began on 22 February 1950. He was re-elected to additional terms at the 1951, 1953, 1958, and 1964 elections, and from 1953 occupied first place on the Coalition's ticket in Victoria. Gorton's early speeches on domestic policy foreshadowed the stances and policy initiatives he would later adopt as prime minister, such as economic nationalism, support for a strong central government, and support for nuclear energy. One of his first notable actions in the Senate came in November 1951, when he successfully moved a motion opposing "any substantial measure of ownership or control over any Australian broadcasting station" being granted to non-Australians. In his early speeches on foreign policy, Gorton drew analogies between the actions of the Soviet Union and Communist China and those of Nazi Germany. He developed a reputation as a "hardline anti-communist", speaking in favour of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill and campaigning for the "Yes" vote during the 1951 referendum to ban the Communist Party. At a campaign rally in September 1951, he had to be restrained by police after attempting to drag a heckler from his seat and shouting at him to "come outside, you yellow rat".


From 1952 to 1958, Gorton served on the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, including as chairman for a period. He developed a keen interest in Asia, which was rooted in his anti-communism, and joined parliamentary delegations to Malaya, South Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. He strongly supported Australia joining the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO), a collective defence initiative designed to prevent the spread of communism in the region. He also supported Taiwanese independence and opposed Australian recognition of the People's Republic of China (PRC). On a number of occasions, Gorton spoke of the need for Australia to develop a foreign policy independent of Britain and the United States. In May 1957, he told the Senate that Australia should acquire its own nuclear deterrent, including intercontinental missiles.


Gorton was a supporter and admirer of Robert Menzies, who was sympathetic to his ambitions for higher office and assigned him additional responsibilities. In 1959, he was tasked with securing the passage of the Matrimonial Causes Bill, which introduced uniform divorce laws; he described it as "a systematic attempt to make a new approach to the problem of divorce". The bill was opposed by religious conservatives (mostly Catholics) on both sides of politics, but it eventually passed the Senate with only a single amendment. Gorton was appointed assistant minister to the Minister for External Affairs in February 1960, working under Menzies and later under Garfield Barwick and Paul Hasluck. In February 1962, he was also made minister-in-charge of the CSIRO. During question time in the Senate, he represented ministers from the House of Representatives, allowing him to gain experience in portfolios beyond his own.


Gorton was elevated to the ministry after the 1958 election, as Minister for the Navy. This was a junior position subordinate to the Minister for Defence, Athol Townley. Although his promotion was unexpected, he would serve as Minister for the Navy for more than five years, the longest-serving navy minister in Australia's history. Gorton regularly attended meetings of the Naval Board, unlike previous ministers, and championed its recommendations at cabinet meetings. He was able to secure most elements of the board's desired modernisation program, despite Townley showing more interest in the air force. During Gorton's tenure, the navy acquired four Australian-built frigates and six British-built minesweepers, as well as placing orders for three Charles F. Adams-class destroyers and four Oberon-class submarines. He postponed the phasing out of the Fleet Air Arm, due to occur in 1963, and secured the purchase of 27 Westland Wessex helicopters.

After the 1963 election, Gorton relinquished the navy portfolio and was placed in charge of the government's activities in education and scientific research. He was also made Minister for Works and Minister for the Interior, relatively low-profile positions dealing mostly with administrative matters; the latter post was taken over by Doug Anthony after a few months. Menzies had a personal interest in education, having previously handled the portfolio himself, and told Gorton that it should be his primary focus. He was given oversight of the Australian Universities Commission, the Australian National University, the Commonwealth Archives Office, the Commonwealth Literary Fund, and the National Library of Australia. In January 1966, Menzies retired and Harold Holt became prime minister. Gorton was elevated to cabinet, and at the end of the year was given the title Minister for Education and Science. He was placed in charge of the new Department of Education and Science, the first time those portfolios had been given a separate department at federal level.


Gorton presided over a "major intrusion" of the federal government into the education sector. His tenure saw significant increases in the number of university scholarships available, the number of new university entrants, and overall funding of education. One of the first major issues Gorton confronted was that of state aid to non-government schools. He believed that private schools should have equal access to federal government funding, and in 1964 announced that the government would fund science laboratories for private schools. This stance, supported by the Catholic education sector but opposed by secularists and most Protestant schools, eventually achieved widespread acceptance. In September 1965, Gorton created the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education, tasked with advising the government on non-university technical and further education (TAFE). He announced that the federal government would fund technical colleges on a pro-rata basis with the states, and personally oversaw the establishment of the Canberra College of Advanced Education, the forerunner of the University of Canberra. As science minister, he lent his support to the Anglo-Australian Telescope project, securing cabinet approval for its construction in April 1967.


Harold Holt disappeared while swimming on 17 December 1967 and was declared presumed drowned two days later. His presumed successor was Liberal deputy leader William McMahon. However, on 18 December, the Country Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister John McEwen announced that if McMahon were named the new Liberal leader, he and his party would not serve under him. His reasons were never stated publicly, but in a private meeting with McMahon, he said "I will not serve under you because I do not trust you". McEwen's shock declaration triggered a leadership crisis within the Liberal Party; even more significantly, it raised the threat of a possible breaking of the Coalition, which would spell electoral disaster for the Liberals. Up to that time, the Liberals had never won enough seats in any House of Representatives election to be able to govern without Country Party support. Indeed, since the Coalition's formation in 1923, the major non-Labor party had only been able to govern alone once, during Joseph Lyons' first ministry. Even then, Lyons' United Australia Party had come up four seats short of a majority in its own right, and was only able to garner a bare majority of two when the five members of the Emergency Committee of South Australia joined the UAP party room.


In the subsequent leadership struggle, Gorton was championed by Army Minister Malcolm Fraser, Government Whip in the Senate Malcolm Scott and Liberal Party Whip Dudley Erwin, and with their support he was able to defeat rivals Paul Hasluck, Les Bury and Billy Snedden to become Liberal leader even though he was a member of the Senate. He was elected party leader on 9 January 1968, and appointed Prime Minister on 10 January, replacing McEwen. He was the only Senator in Australia's history to be Prime Minister and the only Prime Minister to have ever served in the Senate. He remained a Senator until, in accordance with the Westminster tradition that the Prime Minister is a member of the lower house of parliament, he resigned on 1 February 1968 to contest the by-election for Holt's old House of Representatives seat of Higgins in south Melbourne. The by-election in this comfortably safe Liberal seat was held on 24 February; there were three other candidates, but Gorton achieved a massive 68% of the formal vote. He visited all the polling places during the day, but was unable to vote for himself as he was still enrolled in Mallee, in rural western Victoria. Between 2 and 23 February (both dates inclusive) he was a member of neither house of parliament.

Gorton was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1968, a Companion of Honour in 1971, a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1977 and a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1988. He was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001. Commonwealth Railways CL class locomotive CL1 was named John Gorton in February 1970.


After the 1969 election, Gorton was unsuccessfully challenged for the Liberal leadership by McMahon and National Development Minister David Fairbairn. With the Liberals falling further behind Labor in the polls in 1971, a challenge was launched in March when Defence Minister Malcolm Fraser resigned. Fraser had strongly supported Gorton for the leadership two years earlier, but now attacked Gorton on the floor of parliament in his resignation speech, saying that Gorton was "not fit to hold the great office of Prime Minister."


A number of polls during McMahon's prime ministership had Gorton as both the preferred Liberal leader and the preferred prime minister. In 1972, businessman David Hains commissioned a series of polls in marginal electorates that showed the Coalition would significantly increase its vote if Gorton mounted a successful comeback; for instance, polling in the Division of Henty found that his return would add eight points to the Liberal vote. However, Gorton generally downplayed the polling and did not mount an active campaign to oust McMahon. Labor went on to win a nine-seat majority at the 1972 election, ending 23 consecutive years of Coalition rule. A number of Gorton's contemporaries – including Country Party leader Doug Anthony and Labor ministers Clyde Cameron, Doug McClelland, and John Wheeldon – retrospectively expressed doubts as to whether Whitlam could have won if Gorton had returned to the prime ministership. Rupert Murdoch, whose newspapers endorsed the Labor Party, stated in 2000 that "we would most certainly have supported the re-election of a Gorton Government in 1972. And he would have won!".


Early in 1973, Gorton stated his public support of "abortion on request, under certain conditions"; he was opposed to "compulsory pregnancy". He nonetheless voted against David McKenzie and Tony Lamb's private member's bill to legalise abortion in the Australian Capital Territory, as he believed it did not provide clear enough guidelines for medical practitioners. He preferred the conditions of the Menhennitt ruling. Gorton was also a supporter of no-fault divorce. During the debate over what became the Family Law Act 1975, he crossed the floor to oppose a Coalition amendment which he thought complicated the requirements for divorce through separation.

In October 1973, Gorton introduced a motion in the House of Representatives calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality, co-sponsored by Labor's Moss Cass. It was modelled on the recommendations of the UK's Wolfenden report. While noting his personal objections to homosexuality, Gorton stated that most gay people "hurt no one, harm no one and yet have this hanging over them". He dismissed arguments that decriminalisation would violate "God's law", noting that many religious leaders were in favour of a change, and stated that the existing law had led to "bashing", blackmail, and suicides. The motion passed by 24 votes, with all parties receiving a conscience vote. However, it was of no legal effect as homosexuality law was the province of state laws and territory ordinances.


Gorton was re-elected at the 1974 election with an increased majority. He was dropped from shadow cabinet after the election. In November 1974, following an unsuccessful attempt to install Malcolm Fraser as Liberal leader, he condemned those involved and stated they had caused "irreparable damage" to the party. On 3 March 1975, as leadership tensions continued to build, Gorton announced that he would not recontest his seat in parliament at the next election, citing his unwillingness to be a perpetual backbencher. He also stated: "If Fraser got in, it would be a disaster. He is extreme right-wing. The Liberal Party can't be a right-leaning affair." When Fraser won a leadership spill on 21 March, Gorton reportedly stormed out of the meeting and slammed the door behind him.


On 23 May 1975, Gorton announced his resignation from the Liberal Party and his intention to be an independent candidate for one of the new Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Senate seats. He hoped to join Steele Hall on the crossbench and secure the balance of power. Opinion polling shortly after his announcement showed him winning 55 percent of the primary vote. His candidacy received endorsements from the small local branches of the Liberal Movement and the Australia Party. Gough Whitlam was dismissed as prime minister on 11 November, sparking an early election on 13 December. During the preceding constitutional crisis, Gorton had denounced Fraser's actions in blocking supply in the Senate. In the election, he polled 11.9 percent of the ACT Senate vote running on a two-man ticket with Harold Hird. It was the second-highest percentage for an independent candidate nation-wide, after Brian Harradine's 12.8 percent in Tasmania, but nowhere near enough to win election. He had campaigned mainly on local issues, which obscured his candidacy somewhat in an election that was a virtual referendum on the Whitlam Government.


In 1977, Gorton was recruited to record a series of three-minute radio broadcasts on current affairs, titled "Sir John Gorton's viewpoints". He wrote and recorded around 400 segments over the following four years, which were syndicated and broadcast by over 80 radio stations around the country. His broadcasts covered a wide range of issues – he supported the decriminalisation of marijuana and prostitution, called on Australians to welcome Vietnamese boat people, opposed the creation of SBS, denounced "the cacophony known as modern music", opposed Aboriginal land rights, supported uranium mining, and opposed republicanism. He frequently criticised the Fraser Government, but grudgingly admired Fraser's ability to get his way as prime minister.


Gorton retired to Canberra, where he largely kept out of the political limelight. However, in March 1983, he congratulated Bob Hawke "for rolling that bastard Fraser" at that year's election.


In the 1990s, Gorton quietly rejoined the Liberal Party; John Hewson credited himself with "returning Gorton to the fold." In 1993, Gorton was invited to open the Liberal Party's campaign headquarters for the 1993 election. He endorsed Hewson's Fightback! package. In his old age he was rehabilitated by the Liberals; his 90th birthday party was attended by Prime Minister John Howard who said at the event: "He (Gorton) was a person who above everything else was first, second and last an Australian." Although he was back within Liberal circles, he never forgave Fraser; as late as 2002 he told his biographer Ian Hancock that he still could not tolerate being in the same room as Fraser.


Gorton died at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital at the age of 90 in May 2002. A State funeral and memorial service was held on 30 May at St Andrews' Cathedral where extremely critical remarks of Fraser, who was in attendance with wife Tamie, were delivered during the eulogy by Gorton's former Attorney-General Tom Hughes. Current and former Prime Ministers Howard, Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke were also in attendance. Gorton was cremated after a private service and his ashes interred within the 'Prime Ministers Garden' at Melbourne General Cemetery.

Family Life

John had a very close relationship with his wife, Bettina Gorton, and they had three children: Joanna, Michael, and Robin. John married Nancy Home in 1993, ten years after Bettina's death.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, John Grey Gorton is 110 years, 8 months and 17 days old. John Grey Gorton will celebrate 111th birthday on a Friday 9th of September 2022. Below we countdown to John Grey Gorton upcoming birthday.


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