Harold Holt


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Australian statesman and Liberal prime minister (1966–67).

Born in Sydney, the son of a theatrical businessman, Holt was educated in Melbourne and graduated in law from Melbourne University in 1930. He first entered politics in 1935, when he won the safe federal seat of Fawkner for the United Australia Party. In 1956 he became deputy leader of the Liberal Party and was elected unopposed as leader and prime minister in 1966 following the retirement of Menzies.

As prime minister, Holt was preoccupied with the Vietnam War. Remembered for his statement ‘all the way with LBJ’, he gave an open-ended commitment of military support to the USA in Vietnam. He also encouraged friendship with Asia and relaxed Australia's restricted immigration laws. Known for political loyalty, Holt was a less dominant leader than his predecessor. He died in a swimming accident at Portsea, Victoria, while in office.

Subjects: Australasian and Pacific History.

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