The Liberal spill means Prime Minster Tony Abbott has survived what could have been an embarrassing and hilarious dismissal but it hasn't always worked out that way for Australia's other PMs as 'totally legitimate historian' David Blumenstein shows...
David Blumenstein

10 Feb 2015 - 1:51 PM  UPDATED 10 Feb 2015 - 1:51 PM

If Tony Abbott had lost the prime ministership for giving a knighthood to the Queen's husband, well... that would have been pretty bloody funny. But what are the funniest ways prime ministers have lost their job?


Chris Watson (1904)


One of the shortest prime ministerships in Australian history was held by Chris Watson, the first leader of what was then called the Labour Party. He attempted a dissolution of parliament because having the "u" in "Labour" bothered him.


Jokingly, MP Billy Hughes told Watson that, were he to continue debating spelling, "there would, assuredly, be no "u" in Labour." Watson attempted to horsewhip Hughes before being ejected from the House.


Stanley Bruce (1929)


Stanley Bruce lost his seat, and the prime ministership, after attempting to abolish the Arbitration Court. Under his proposed system, industrial disputes would be decided by a penguin called Redmond, popularly believed to be in media mogul Keith Murdoch's pocket.


William McMahon (1972)


McMahon's reputation was already under fire when he made the mistake of leaving a sensitive file on his desk. Mr Peacock, Ms Brahms and Mrs Slocombe peeked at the file and were shocked to find that the whole Grace Bros staff would soon be sacked.


Mr Humphries came up with a plan to save their jobs: sell a record number of bras at the annual Grace Bros. "Bra Week" sale! Unfortunately, this led to a spectacular brawl during which Mrs Slocombe's pussy gave birth in the middle of the womenswear department.


Young Mr Grace arrived at the end of the episode to reveal that, in fact, the file said that the staff would get a free holiday, not the sack!


Mr McMahon was replaced in series 2 by Mr Tebbs.


Andrew Fisher (1913)


Fisher had already been Prime Minister six times, having agreed on a permanent job-share arrangement with co-Prime Ministers Alfred Deakin, writer Henry Lawson and wrestler "Samoan Joe" Afamasaga. His seventh prime ministership came to an end when rascally Minister for Home Affairs King O'Malley stole his moustache, which later turned up in a Melbourne brothel.


Fisher became Prime Minister three more times after this.



Robert "Bob" Hawke (1991)


Bob Hawke hated rakes. Hated them. There was no way he was going to allow one near him. Even if it was being used by his own gardener. But what could stop a rake? The rake is plastic. Indestructible.


The gardener, however, was only human. Humans could be stopped.


Stopped with murder.


Robert Menzies (1941)


Robert Menzies' second prime ministership (1949-1966) is the longest in Australian history, but people sometimes forget his first prime ministership (1939-1941), which ended suddenly when, cleaning his driveway, he slipped on some wet fallen flower petals and fell into a hole, recently dug to the centre of the earth, by Billy Hughes.


He returned to Australia by steamship eight months later and was disappointed to find that, in his absence, he had been replaced as Prime Minister by notorious gangster/blues guitarist Viscount Slim.



Peter Costello (2013)


Having successfully defeated Prime Minister John Howard in a 2001 leadership challenge, Costello quickly became Australia's most beloved leader ever. His economic reforms, strong diplomatic sense and winning way with the common man paved the way for unparalleled electoral success for the Liberal Party.


Total Aboriginal reconciliation and a swift end to the second Iraq war soon followed.


It's believed Costello's prime ministership could have continued for twenty years or more, had Billy Hughes not unplugged the power cable that was keeping his flesh-form at a temperature of 3° C. Absent refrigeration, Costello's gelatine-based body quickly sloughed off and revealed the steam- powered clockwork brain inside.


The brain rose into the air, flashed a curious sequence of bright lights across its iridium superstructure and vanished. Instantly, the universe rearranged itself.


It was time for Tony Abbott, and Earth would never know any different.







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