Sir John McEwen Commemoration
Sir John McEwen Commemoration, incorporating a sculpture and a mosaic pavement artwork, is located outside the House of Representatives Gardens and was unveiled by His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia on 11 December 2020, to mark the Centenary of the National Party of Australia.
Emblematic of The Nationals’ resilience and values, Sir John McEwen sculpture is positioned within a commemorative pavement reflecting the Party’s centenary of service to the nation.
In the design, radiating branches depict the Party’s role championing essential industries and services to support rural and regional communities. The background represents the Party’s influence in the international context.
Victorious in his trade efforts on Australia’s behalf, McEwen gazes across Queen Victoria Terrace to the former East Block Commonwealth Offices. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture’s Administration and Inspection Divisions were temporarily located there from 1948 to 1951 while he served as Minister for Commerce and Agriculture from 1949 to 1956.
The design and construction of the commemoration was managed by the National Capital Authority on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Sculptor: Lis Johnson Terrazzo
Pavement: Artwork Designers – Rob Tindal, Shane Cargill
Sir John McEwen
Sir John McEwen, GCMG, CH (1900-1980) became Australia’s 18th Prime Minister on 19 December 1967 after Harold Holt’s disappearance.
Before becoming Prime Minister, McEwen, as Australian Country Party Leader, was the second most senior member of the Government and had acted as Prime Minister for 463 days.
After the Liberal Party elected a new Leader on 10 January 1968, he became the nation’s first formally titled Deputy Prime Minister.
A Determined Man
Born in Chiltern, Victoria and orphaned at a young age, McEwen went on to be elected to Parliament in 1934, entering the Ministry in 1937. He served in the War Cabinet under Robert Menzies and acted to prevent the Japanese from potentially using New Caledonia as a base against Australia in World War II – something he regarded as his greatest achievement.
From 1949 he controlled key ministries responsible for trade, negotiating many international agreements, notably the historic Australia-Japan Agreement on Commerce, signed in July 1957.
His tariff policies developed manufacturing industries, employing millions of post-war migrants, while enhanced pricing and marketing programs supported the competitiveness of Australian farmers. Menzies had long recognised McEwen’s strength and prime ministerial potential. However, McEwen rejected overtures to change parties, saying that to leave the Country Party was ‘unthinkable’.
McEwen retired in February 1971 after more than 36 years in Parliament, being succeeded as Party Leader by Doug Anthony.
The Australian Country Party, known today as the National Party of Australia, was formed on 22 January 1920. The Sir John McEwen Memorial commemorates the Party’s centenary.
Over 100 years, the Party maintained continuous representation in the Parliament of Australia. In all Coalition Governments its Leader was electively Deputy Prime Minister and on three separate occasions was appointed Prime Minister.
Originally a farmers’ party, the Party broadened its policies to be representative of all interests across rural and regional Australia, dedicated to improving development and opportunity for those living and working beyond the capital cities.
The Party has brought a balance to politics, ensuring debate is not dominated by city-based politicians.
The commemorative pavement depicts many of the services and industries established through the Party’s representations over 100 years.
Branch A: Mining
A1: Bucket wheel excavator – Mining industry
A2: Helmet with light, pick and shovel - Mining industry
A3: Haul truck - Mining industry
Branch B: Trade
B1: Aeroplane circling the globe – Air freight industry
B2: Warehouse with goods – Ground based distribution industry
B3: Container ship with goods – Shipping industry
Branch C: Agriculture
C1: Pineapple – fruit (and vegetable) industry
C2: Wheat sheafs – grain industry
C3: Cow – dairy, livestock industry
C4: Sheep - wool, livestock industry
C5: Fish – fisheries and aquaculture industry
Branch D: Communications
D1: Envelope – Postal industry
D2: Communications tower and signal – Telecommunications industry
D3: Television/Computer – Television/digital services industry
D4: Rotary/Mobile Telephone - Telecommunications industry
Branch E: Manufacturing
E1: Production line – Manufacturing industry
E2: Factory - Manufacturing industry
E3: Production vats – Beverage, chemical industry
Branch F: Transport
F1: Truck – Road transport industry
F2: Aeroplane – Aviation industry
F3: Train – Rail industry
Branch G: Medical Services
G1: Elderly person in home – Aged care industry
G2: Medical aeroplane – Aeromedical services industry
G3: Medical worker – Healthcare industry
G4: Pill bottle and pills – Pharmaceutical industry