Stanley Melbourne Bruce – Fact sheet 74
Prime Minister of Australia 1923–29
Born in Australia in 1883 and raised in Melbourne, Stanley Melbourne Bruce studied at Cambridge before settling in London in the years before World War I. During the war he served with the British Army in Egypt (where he was awarded the Military medal) and Gallipoli (where he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre). Wounded at Gallipoli in 1915 he was invalided to London. In 1917 Bruce returned to Australia to join the family importing firm of Paterson, Laing and Bruce.
Bruce entered the House of Representatives in 1918, winning a by-election for the seat of Flinders. He served as Treasurer (1921–23) in the Hughes Nationalist Government, and became prime minister in 1923 when new coalition partners, the Country Party (led by Earle Page), would not accept Hughes as Nationalist Party leader. As well as prime minister in the Bruce–Page Government, Bruce also held the portfolios of External Affairs (1923–29), Health (1927–28), and Trade and Customs (1928).
Legislation designed to return responsibility for conciliation and arbitration to the states caused the downfall of Bruce’s government in 1929 when Hughes and a number of his colleagues who had defected from the Labor Party in 1917 voted with the Opposition to defeat the bills. Bruce lost his seat in the subsequent election and, although he regained it in 1931, he resigned from parliament in 1933 to take up appointment as Australian Minister (later High Commissioner) in London. As well as serving as High Commissioner from 1933 to 1945, Bruce also represented Australia at the League of Nations during the 1930s.
Records of Stanley Melbourne Bruce held by the National Archives
The National Archives holds a comprehensive collection of records created and accumulated by Stanley Bruce. These include private records covering his personal achievements, but also records relating to his period as prime minister, minister and member of parliament, and his long period of service as High Commissioner in London. Many of these are listed in the table below. You can search the collection to find more information about these records.
The Australia's Prime Ministers website contains further information on the life and political times of Stanley Bruce, and the location of archival and other research resources on him and his career.
Memento, Issue 24 – 'An officer and a gentleman' (pdf, 980kb)
The National Library of Australia also holds a collection of papers of Stanley Bruce.