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Harold Holt and the Vietnam War

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years ago


 Harold Holt and the Vietnam War 



Note: There should be 4 sections. If you cannot see all of them, try scrolling to the bottom and clicking "Enable Java Scripts" (under 'page info') then refresh the page.




Who was Harold Holt?


  • Harold Holt served as a minister throughout the 16 years of the Menzies government (1949–66). He held the positions of Minister for Immigration (1949–56), Minister for Labour and National Service (1949–58) and Treasurer (1958–66).

  • In January 1966, Robert Menzies retired and Harold Holt became the new Prime Minister of Australia.


  • Johnson valued Holt's loyalty and support and he in turn supported Holt .


The sudden death of Holt is an infamous episode in Australian history. In December 1967, he disappeared at Cheviot Beach in Victoria in rough seas. His body has never been found.



Holt's Involvement in the Vietnam War


  • One of his most important policies was that his belief that Australia had a responsibilty to support the USA. During his visit to Washington in 1966, he announced that Australia would go "all the way with LBJ [President Lyndon Johnson]".

All the way with LBJ badge

  • As a strong supporter of the USA, one of Holt's first actions as PM was to increase the number of Australian troops in Vietnam by one-third. In March 1966, after a request from the USA, the Australian force was increased to 4500 in number. By October 1967, another 1700 additional men were sent.
  • He also called around 1500 National Service conscripts to fight in Vietnam. (see Conscription for more info)
  • He believed strongly that the threat of communism in Asia had the potential to reach Australia if Vietnam fell.
  • His actions angered many anti-war citizens, who obviously thought he was sending the soldiers to their deaths.


Holt was not alone in his support. Public opinion polls in May and July 1965 showed that a majority of the public also approved of his actions (52% agreed in May, and 59% in June). Holt enjoyed a successful majority of 41 seats in the House of Representatives in the election of 1967.


For more information about the relationship between Australia and the USA, click on this link HERE (not here) about the American Alliance.


Other Information


 Harold Holt also made other important decisions in during his term in office. These included:

  • Introduction of decimal currency (cents and dollars, as opposed to pennies and pounds)
  • Allowance of non-European immigration
  • On 27 May 1967, the Constitution was changed to include Indigenous Australians (the Aboriginal people) in the census. Holt had effectively dismantled the "White Australia" policy that was clearly dominant in the past.






  1. Image 1: Harold Holt portrait - www.britannica.com/eb/art-11667 (Britannica encyclopedia online)
  2. Image 2: Harold Holt with daughters-in-law - www.smh.com.au/news/175-years/mr-holt-believed-dead/2006/04/171145126044958.html (Sydney Morning Herald site)
  3. Image 3: All the way with LBJ http://www.campaignbuttons-etc.com/lbj3E.jpg
  4. Image 4: All the way with LBJ (2) http://abc.net.au/news/indepth/featureitems/2002/foreignpolicy/default.htm


  1. Experience of Nationhood (5th edition), K J Mason, copyright 2007, McGraw-Hill publishers Australia
  2. National Museum of Australia, [unknown authors], [no date], http://www.nma.gov.au/education/school_resources/websites_and_interactives/primeministers/harold_holt/
  3. National Archives of Australia, 2002, http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/PersonDetail.asp?M=3&B=CP+27
  4. National Archives of Australia Meet a PM, 2007, http://primeministers.naa.gov.au/meetpm.asp?pageName=inoffice&pmId=17



(Any attempt to vandalise this page will be investigated and the offender(s) shall be severely punished.)


AUTHORS: Michael Fleming, Jonathan Mui


This page last updated 19/07/2007


Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 8:53 am on Jun 19, 2007

On the issue of Holt's Involvement in the Vietnam War, that little picture at the bottom deserves a awwwwwwwwwwww. As for the begining pictures, I hope I am that "popular" (if you know what I mean,aye,aye). But besides the limited text, it still manages to be quite meaningful and useful, β out of 67.

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