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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/23089
- Albert Dunstan: the jumping jack premier
- Costar, Brian
- Albert Dunstan was Victoria's second longest-serving premier, his 3834-day tenure eclipsed only by Henry Bolte. Other than being farmers, the two could not have been less alike: Bolte always led majority Liberal governments whereas Dunstan was the master of Country Party minorities; Bolte's administrations were policy frenetic whereas Dunstan was a virtuoso of procrastination. The Argus newspaper cartoonist, Armstrong, depicted him as an ostrich, always eager to place his head in the sand in the hope that problems would remain unseen.1 Dunstan must also hold the record for the number of soubriquets collected by an Australian politician: Artful Albert, Fat Albert, Alibi Albert, Albert the Great, Iscariot Dunstan, Billy Bunter, Uncle Albert, Albert the Wrecker, Humpty Dumpty and the Jumping Jack premier were just some of the terms employed by his admirers and enemies alike. Despite holding office from 1935-1945, an extraordinary island of stability in a sea of political turmoil, Dunstan has become one of the least revered of the State's premiers. Labor leader, John Cain Snr, was trying not to speak ill of the dead when, in the condolence motion for Dunstan, he described him as a "most capable statesman". His biographer, John Paul, is more realistic in summarising the key features of his premiership as follows: he was obsessively committed to staying in power; he placated supporters with piecemeal reforms; he was miserly with money, both his own and the public's; by pork-barrelling rural areas he caused unbalanced economic development; and he was deeply suspicious of the public service and treated it badly. The case against Dunstan is that he was opportunistic, devious and squandered his 10 years in office by avoiding hard policy decisions.
- Publication type
- Book chapter
- Research centre
- Swinburne University of Technology. Faculty of Life and Social Sciences. Institute for Social Research
- The Victorian premiers: 1856-2006 / Paul Strangio and Brian Costar (eds.), Chapter 17, pp. 215-226
- Publication year
- Australia; Australian politics; Biography; Dunstan, Albert (1882-1950); Government; History; Premiers; Victoria
- Federation Press
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 2006 The Federation Press and contributors.
- Peer reviewed