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Kim Edward Beazley

Taken in 1949
Personal data
Date of birth30 September 1917
Place of birthNortham, Western Australia
Date of death12 October 2007(age 90)
Place of deathClaremont, Western Australia
Political partyAustralian Labor Party
SpouseBetty Judge
ChildrenKim Beazley, Merrilyn, David
10th Minister for Education
In office19 December 1972 - 11 November 1975
Succeeded byMargaret Guilfoyle
Preceded byGough Whitlam

     Home | Office Holder | Kim Edward Beazley

Kim Edward Beazley, AO (30 September 1917 12 October 2007), known as Kim Beazley during his career, Australian politician, was Minister for Education in the government of Gough Whitlam and a Labor member of the Australian House of Representatives for 32 years, from 1945 to 1977.

Beazley, the youngest of seven children, was born in Northam and grew up in Fremantle. He was the son of Alfred Beazley, a storeman and packer, and his wife Mary Wright.

He showed early scholastic promise, winning a place at the academically selective Perth Modern School (1933-1935), where he topped the state in History and English. He studied at Claremont Teachers College, and worked as a teacher at Arthur River, East Fremantle, Midland Junction and Claremont. He studied politics at the University of Western Australia (UWA), and tutored at Claremont Teachers College and at UWA. He was later to gain an MA from the Australian National University.

He was active in the Labor Party, and the elegance of his writings and the eloquence of his speeches marked him out as a rising star. He served as vice president of the State School Teachers' Union and as a member of the State Executive of the Party.

He married Betty Judge, a fellow teacher, union official and an athlete (she was Australian women's 880 yards champion), on 7 February 1948, at Claremont. They had two sons, including Rhodes Scholar and Deputy Prime Minister Kim Christian Beazley, and one daughter.

On the death in office of Prime Minister John Curtin in 1945, Beazley, at the age of 27 was preselected for, and won, Curtin’s Federal Parliament seat of Fremantle. He was the youngest member of the federal parliament when elected, and was known as "the student prince". He became the Father of the House in 1975, and held his seat until he retired in 1977.

A committed Christian (he was brought up and baptised in the Church of Christ), and member of Moral Rearmament, Beazley was prominent on the right-wing of the Labor Party during the ideological battles of the 1950s and 1960s. He claimed a central role in the events leading to the Labor Party's fateful 1954 split and harboured lifelong regret that he failed to help avert the split when he felt it had been in his power to do so. During the leadership of Arthur Calwell (from 1960 to 1967) he was considered a possible future leader of the party, but his right-wing views, particularly his support for the U.S. Alliance, cost him support, and Gough Whitlam emerged as Calwell's successor.

Beazley was the education minister in the Whitlam Government from 1972 to 1975. He carried out important reforms in the education field, such as abolishing university fees and introducing needs-based funding for all schools through the Schools Commission.

After the defeat of the Whitlam Government in 1975, Beazley was elected to the Labor front bench, but resigned when it was revealed that Gough Whitlam and Bill Hartley, with the ALP national secretary, David Combe, had been seeking money from the Iraqi Ba'ath Party to pay for the party's election campaign. He retired from politics in 1977. At the time of his death he was the last surviving member from the period of the Chifley Labor Government (1945 49) and the earliest surviving member of the Commonwealth Parliament. He died in Perth on 12 October 2007, and was accorded a state funeral on 20 October. His memoirs were published posthumously in February 2009. with a foreword by his son Kim Christian Beazley who himself had a distinguished career as a Labor politician and party leader.

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