Gordon Scholes

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Gordon Scholes

Gordon Scholes HD-SC-98-07512.jpg
Scholes in 1983
Minister for Territories
In office
13 December 1984 – 24 July 1987
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Preceded byTom Uren
Succeeded byJohn Brown
Minister for Defence
In office
11 March 1983 – 13 December 1984
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Preceded byIan Sinclair
Succeeded byKim Beazley
Manager of Opposition Business
In office
27 January 1976 – 22 December 1977
LeaderGough Whitlam (1976-77)
Bill Hayden (1977)
Preceded byIan Sinclair
Succeeded byMick Young
Speaker of the House of Representatives
In office
27 February 1975 – 16 February 1976
Preceded byJim Cope
Succeeded bySir Billy Snedden
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Corio
In office
22 July 1967 – 8 February 1993
Preceded byHubert Opperman
Succeeded byGavan O'Connor
Personal details
Gordon Glen Denton Scholes

(1931-06-07)7 June 1931
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died9 December 2018(2018-12-09) (aged 87)
Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Political partyLabor
Spouse(s)Della K. Robinson

Gordon Glen Denton Scholes AO (7 June 1931 – 9 December 2018) was an Australian politician. He was a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and served in the House of Representatives from 1967 to 1993, representing the Division of Corio. He served terms as Speaker of the House of Representatives (1975–1976), Minister for Defence (1983–1984), and Minister for Territories (1984–1987).

Early life[edit]

Scholes was born in Melbourne, the son of Thomas Glen Denton Scholes and his wife Mary Louisa O'Brien. He was the Victorian Amateur Heavyweight Boxing Champion in 1949. He joined the Australian Labor Party in 1955 and was President of the Geelong ALP Branch from 1962 to 1964. He was President of the Geelong Trades Hall Council from 1965 to 1966, and a councillor of the Geelong City Council from 1965 to 1967.


Scholes in 1968.

Scholes was the Labor Party candidate in the Division of Corio, centred on Geelong, in the 1966 election, and was defeated by incumbent Liberal Sir Hubert Opperman. However, Opperman resigned a few months after the election to become Australia's first High Commissioner to Malta. Scholes won the seat at the ensuing by-election on a swing of 11 percent. He won the seat in his own right at the 1969 election.

Speaker of the House[edit]

Scholes served as Speaker from 27 February 1975 until 16 February 1976, a period taken up almost entirely by the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis. On 11 November 1975, following the dismissal of the Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, and the appointment by Kerr of the Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Fraser, as caretaker Prime Minister, the House of Representatives passed a motion of no confidence in the Fraser government, by 10 votes. The no confidence motion also called on the Governor-General to reinstate the Whitlam government. As Speaker, Scholes was charged with conveying that resolution of the House to the Governor-General and to request Kerr to dismiss Fraser and re-appoint Whitlam. Kerr refused to see the Speaker or to recognise the motion of no confidence in the Fraser government by the House of Representatives, keeping Scholes waiting for more than an hour.[1] By the time the Governor-General agreed to see Scholes, Kerr had already dissolved the Parliament on Fraser's advice, which was something Fraser had undertaken to do once he had secured passage of the Supply bills through the Senate. Scholes later accused Kerr of bad faith for making an appointment to receive the Speaker shortly after 3pm, and then not waiting to hear from him before dissolving Parliament more than an hour later, with the appointed Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser still as Prime Minister, without the confidence of the House of Representatives.

Government minister[edit]

Scholes was Minister for Defence in the first Hawke Ministry from March 1983 to December 1984 and then Minister for Territories until July 1987. He retired before the 1993 election.

Personal life and death[edit]

He was an honorary member of the Geelong Philatelic Society .[2]

Gordon Scholes died on 9 December 2018, aged 87. A State Funeral was held on 18 December.[3]


  1. ^ Jenny Hocking The Dismissal Dossier: Everything You Were Never Meant to Know About November 1975 MUP 2017
  2. ^ "Biography for Scholes, the Hon. Gordon Glen Denton, AO". ParlInfo Web. Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 3 August 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2007.
  3. ^ Tucker's Funerals. Retrieved 14 December 2018
Political offices
Preceded by
Ian Sinclair
Australian Minister for Defence
Succeeded by
Kim Beazley
Preceded by
Tom Uren
Australian Minister for Territories
Succeeded by
John Brown
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Hubert Opperman
Member for Corio
Succeeded by
Gavan O'Connor
Preceded by
Jim Cope
Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Billy Snedden