Allen Fairhall

Sir Allen Fairhall KBE FRSA (24 November 1909  3 November 2006) was an Australian politician who served in the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1969, representing the Liberal Party. He was a government minister under four prime ministers, most notably as Minister for Defence from 1966 to 1969.

Sir Allen Fairhall

Member of the Australian Parliament
for Paterson
In office
10 December 1949  29 September 1969
Preceded byNew seat
Succeeded byFrank O'Keefe
Personal details
Born(1909-11-24)24 November 1909
Morpeth, New South Wales, Australia
Died3 November 2006(2006-11-03) (aged 96)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Political partyLiberal
Monica Ballantyne (m. 1936)
OccupationElectrical fitter, radio officer

Early life

Fairhall was born at Morpeth, New South Wales, and attended East Maitland Boys' High School. After school he was apprenticed as an electrical fitter at the Walsh Island Dockyard in Newcastle, while attending Newcastle Technical College. At the same time he developed an interest in radio and gained an amateur radio licence. He was able to convince the then Postmaster-General's Department that Newcastle needed a second commercial radio station. In 1931 he established 2KO. During World War II he worked on the supply of signals equipment for the Australian armed services. From 1941 to 1944 he was an alderman of the City of Newcastle.[1][2]

Political career

In 1949, Fairhall entered the Federal Parliament as the Liberal Member for Paterson. He was Minister for Interior and Minister for Works (1956–58), Minister for Supply (1961–66) and Minister for Defence (1966–69). In the latter role, he was responsible for the introduction of the F-111 fighter aircraft and the reintroduction of conscription for the Vietnam War. The purchase of the F-111 was a major political issue in the late 1960s and early 1970s due to price escalation and late delivery. The Royal Australian Air Force retired its last F-111Cs in December 2010.[3]

Following the disappearance of Harold Holt in December 1967, Fairhall had support to nominate for the leadership of the Liberal Party (effectively for the Prime Ministership), but he declined to do so.[4]

Later life

Fairhall retired before the 1969 election. After retirement he wrote a book on Henry George, Towards a New Society.[5] He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1970, received an honorary Doctorate of Science by Newcastle University, and was awarded the James N Kirby Medal from the Institution of Production Engineers (Australian Division) and life membership of the Wireless Institute of Australia.[1]

He died in November 2006, aged 96.


  1. "Sir Allen Fairhall, K.B.E". Retrieved 3 February 2008.
  2. Farquharson, John (10 December 2006). "A fair bet for PM, but he declined". Sydney Morning Herald.
  3. Dodd, Mark. "RAAF puts F-111 out to pasture." The Australian, 23 December 2010. Retrieved: 19 May 2019.
  4. Sir Allen Fairhall, K.B.E. - Prime Minister of Australia ... if he had nominated?
  5. Fairhall, Allen (1997). Towards a New Society. Newcastle: Allen Fairhall. p. 114. ISBN 0-646-30921-8.
Political offices
Preceded by
Wilfrid Kent Hughes
Minister for Interior
Minister for Works

Succeeded by
Gordon Freeth
Preceded by
Alan Hulme
Minister for Supply
Succeeded by
Denham Henty
Preceded by
Shane Paltridge
Minister for Defence
Succeeded by
Malcolm Fraser
Parliament of Australia
New division Member for Paterson
Succeeded by
Frank O'Keefe
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