Stanley Melbourne Bruce, 1st Viscount Bruce of Melbourne, (15 April 1883 – 25 August 1967) was the 8th Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1923 to 1929.
He made wide-ranging reforms and mounted a comprehensive nation-building program in government, but his controversial handling of industrial relations led to a dramatic defeat at the polls in 1929.
Bruce later pursued a long and influential diplomatic career as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (1933–1945) and chairman of the Food and Agriculture Organization (1946–1951).
Born into a briefly-wealthy Melbourne family, Bruce studied at the University of Cambridge and spent his early life tending to the importing and exporting business of his late father.
He served on the front lines of the Gallipoli Campaign in World War I and returned to Australia wounded in 1917, becoming a spokesperson for government recruitment efforts.
He gained the attention of the Nationalist Party and Prime Minister Billy Hughes, who encouraged a political career.
He was elected to parliament in 1918, becoming treasurer in 1921 and then prime minister in 1923, at the head of a coalition with the Country Party.
In office Bruce pursued an energetic and diverse agenda.
He comprehensively overhauled federal government administration and oversaw its transfer to the new capital city of Canberra.
He implemented various reforms to the Australian federal system to strengthen the role of the Commonwealth, and helped develop the forerunners of the Australian Federal Police and the CSIRO.
Bruce's "men, money and markets" scheme was an ambitious attempt to rapidly expand Australia's population and economic potential through massive government investment and closer ties with Great Britain and the rest of the British Empire.
However, his endeavours to overhaul Australia's industrial relations system brought his government into frequent conflict with the labour movement, and his radical proposal to abolish Commonwealth arbitration in 1929 prompted members of his own party to cross the floor to defeat the government.
In the resounding loss at the subsequent election the prime minister lost his own seat, an event unprecedented in Australia and one that would not occur again until 2007.
Although he returned to parliament in 1931, Bruce's service in the Lyons Government was brief.
Instead he pursued an international career, accepting appointment as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in 1933.
Bruce became an influential figure in British government circles and at the League of Nations, emerging as a tireless advocate for international cooperation on economic and social problems, especially those facing the developing world.
Particularly passionate on improving global nutrition, Bruce was one of the key figures in the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization, serving as the first chairman of its governing council.
He was the first Australian to sit in the House of Lords, as well as the first Chancellor of the Australian National University.
Although his diplomatic career went largely unnoticed in Australia, he continued throughout his life in London to vociferously advocate for Australian interests (particularly during World War II) and asked that his remains be returned to Canberra when he died.