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On 10 January 1968, John Gorton became the 19th Prime Minister in unusual circumstances. He was elected Liberal Party leader to replace Harold Holt, who had disappeared the previous month while swimming off the Victorian coast, and was presumed dead. Gorton also left the job in unusual circumstances – he declared himself out of office after a tied party vote of confidence in his leadership on 10 March 1971.
A determined non-conformist and a passionate Australian nationalist, Gorton wanted to turn thinking in the party, and in the nation, in a more independent direction.