Doug Anthony

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Doug Anthony

John Douglas Anthony (born 31 December 1929), Australian politician, was born in Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales. He was the son of Larry Anthony, a well-known Country Party politician. Doug Anthony was educated at a private school in Sydney and at an agricultural college in Queensland. After graduating he took up dairy-farming near Murwillumbah. In 1957 he married Margot Budd, with whom he had three children.

In the same year Larry Anthony, who was Postmaster-General in the Liberal-Country Party coalition government led by Robert Menzies, died suddenly, and Doug was elected to succeed him in the House of Representatives, aged 27. He was appointed Minister for the Interior in 1964 (in Australia this is a minor position with none of the security and policing functions it has in other countries). In 1967 he became Minister for Primary Industries. It was obvious that the Country Party leader, John McEwen, was grooming Anthony to succeed him.

When McEwen retired in 1971 Anthony was duly chosen as his successor, becoming Minister for Trade and Industry and Deputy Prime Minister in the governments of John Gorton and William McMahon. He was an attractive figure and many people would have preferred him as Prime Minister rather than the bumbling McMahon. He showed his tough streak when he forced McMahon to back down on petrol prices and other issues which affected country voters.

After the coalition's defeat in 1972, he favoured a policy of absolute opposition to the Labor government of Gough Whitlam. He urged the Liberals to take a hard line against Whitlam throughout the next three years and welcomed his dismissal by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, in 1975. To broaden the appeal of his party beyond its declining rural base, he changed its name to the National Country Party, and began contesting urban seats in Queensland and Western Australia.

When the coalition parties returned to power after the 1975 elections Anthony again became Deputy Prime Minister, with the portfolio of National Resources. But with the dominating Malcolm Fraser as Prime Minister, and the Liberals having a majority in their own right between 1975 and 1980, Anthony found that he did not have the same power he had had in the coalition governments before 1972.

Anthony saw that the deregulatory policies of the Thatcherite wing of the Liberal Party were a threat to the future of his party and its traditional policy tariff protection for Australia's rural industries, which the Thatcherites derided as "bush socialism." From 1980 to 1983 he resisted the deregulatory policies of the Liberal Treasurer, John Howard, and usually succeeded in persuading Fraser (himself a farmer) to take his side against Howard.

When the Fraser government was defeated in 1983, Anthony remained as National Country Party leader for less than a year. He resigned from Parliament in early 1984. By then, although still only 55, he was the longest-serving member of the House. He returned to his farm near Murwillumbah and generally stayed out of politics. In 1996 his son, Larry Anthony, won his father's old seat, creating the first three-generation dynasty in the House of Representatives.


Doug Anthony's name was used by the anarchic Australian comedy trio The Doug Anthony All Stars, who rose to fame with celebrated appearances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the 1980s and came to national prominence in Australia ca. 1990 with their popular performances on the cult TV sketch comedy series The Big Gig.

Template:Succession box one to two
Preceded by:
Frank Crean
Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
Succeeded by:
Lionel Bowen
Preceded by:
Sir James Killen
Longest serving member of the Australian House of Representatives
Succeeded by:
Tom Uren

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