Harold Holt

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Harold Holt

Harold Edward Holt (5 August 1908 – 17 December 1967) was the 17th Prime Minister of Australia. A Liberal MP since 1935, he replaced Robert Menzies as prime minister in January 1966. He was the first Australian prime minister born in the 20th century, and was seen as a moderniser, winning over the public with a much more open leadership style than his predecessor. Holt engaged with Asia to an extent not previously seen, and reaffirmed Australia's commitment to the War in Vietnam. On 17 December 1967, Holt disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach, Victoria. His death has entered Australian folklore.

Quotes[edit]

Early career[edit]

As prime minister[edit]

  • "Australia cannot stand aside from the struggle to resist the aggressive thrust of Communism in Asia and to ensure conditions in which stability can be achieved. Our own national security demands this course. We cannot be isolationist or neutralist, placed as we are geographically and occupying, as we do, with limited national strength, this vast continent. We cannot leave it solely to our allies – and their national servicemen [conscripts] – to defend in the region the rights of countries to their own independence and the peaceful pursuit of their national way of life."
  • statement on the creation of a self-contained Australian task force to fight in Vietnam, 8 March 1966[1]
  • "Australia has, in its short history, paid a heavy price in human life in the cause of liberty and national survival. No one can foretell what the price will be in South-east Asia."
  • statement on the death of Private Errol Noack, first Australian conscript killed in Vietnam, 25 May 1966[2]
  • "In the lonelier and perhaps even more disheartening moments which come to any national leader, I hope there will be a corner of your mind and heart which takes cheer from the fact that you have an admiring friend, a staunch ally that will be all the way with LBJ."
  • address to President Johnson at the White House, 27 June 1966[3]
  • " This Australia of ours is a vast island continent inhabited largely by people of British or other European stock and with a heritage of national freedom, personal liberty and the institutions of a British parliamentary democracy. But geographically we are part of Asia, and increasingly we have become aware of our involvement in the affairs of Asia. Our greatest dangers and our highest hopes are centred in Asia's tomorrows. Already one Asian country [Japan] has become established as the largest purchaser, in terms of money value, of Australian exports. The only military operations in which we are now engaged or in which we have been engaged since the Second World War are located in Asia."
  • address to federal parliament after returning from a tour of Asia, 12 April 1967[4]
  • "Anything but a yes vote to this question would do injury to our reputation among fair-minded people everywhere."
  • statement on the referendum on Aboriginal Australians, 26 May 1967[5]
  • "One mistake and you're gone. You just don't make that mistake. With time one's skill increases and one learns hunting tricks. With greater knowledge the dangers diminish. It is wonderful to be free, alone down there."
  • interview with journalist Nigel Muir in 1967, talking about the dangers of spearfishing[6]
  • "Look Tony, what are the odds of a prime minister being drowned or taken by a shark?"
  • private conversation recounted by his press secretary Tony Eggleton, after being confronted about the dangers of his hobby[7]

Quotes about Holt[edit]

  • "It is ironical that, being a man of peace, he should have presided over one of the greatest build-ups of military power that Australia has found itself engaged in."
  • "When he went to some Asian country for the first time and was received with honour and goodwill he imagined that his own 'instant diplomacy' had immediately created the goodwill and that the honour was due to a personal diplomatic triumph, while of course we knew that the goodwill had resulted from years of conscious, careful and calculated effort by the Australian Government, and its officers in a succession of situations."

Sources[edit]

  1. The Life and Death of Harold Holt, p. 178.
  2. The Life and Death of Harold Holt, p. 180.
  3. The Life and Death of Harold Holt, p. 181.
  4. http://pmtranscripts.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/original/00001559.pdf
  5. The Life and Death of Harold Holt, p. 213.
  6. The Life and Death of Harold Holt, p. 273.
  7. The Life and Death of Harold Holt, p. 273.
  8. Hansard
  9. The Chance of Politics, p. 135.
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