Harold Edward Holt – Fact sheet 83
Prime Minister of Australia 1966–67
A solicitor by profession, Harold Holt entered Parliament as a member of the United Australia Party following a by-election for the seat of Fawkner (Victoria) in 1935. Holt was a backbench member of the Lyons government. He first entered the ministry in 1939 as Minister Assisting the Minister for Supply and Development in the first government of Robert Menzies.
With the outbreak of war, Holt resigned from the ministry in order to enlist in the Second AIF. He was recalled to the government following the death of three senior ministers (Fairbairn, Gullett and Street) in an aircraft accident in August 1940, and appointed Minister for Labour and National Service. He held this portfolio until the collapse of the government in October 1941.
Holt served as a minister throughout the 16 years of the Menzies government (1949–66), holding the positions of Minister for Immigration (1949–56), Minister for Labour and National Service (1949–58) and Treasurer (1958–66). On Menzies' retirement in January 1966, Holt became leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister.
During his time in office, Holt strongly supported United States' involvement in Vietnam. One of his first acts as Prime Minister was to increase the size of the Australian forces in Vietnam by one third.
An active sportsman, Harold Holt disappeared while swimming in heavy seas off Portsea in Victoria on 17 December 1967. His body was never recovered.
Records relating to Harold Holt held by the National Archives
The National Archives holds many records relating to Harold Holt's years in parliament, including his period as Prime Minister and the many years he spent as a minister. The personal records of Harold Holt held by the Archives are listed below. All records are held by the Archives in Canberra.
The Archives also holds many records about Harold Holt and the issues he was involved in during his years in government. Information about Holt will also occur in the records of a range of Commonwealth departments, especially those of the Departments of Immigration, Labour and National Service and the Treasury.