Sir John Grey Gorton (9 September 1911 – 19 May 2002) was the nineteenth Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1968 to 1971.
He led the Liberal Party during that time, having previously been a long-serving government minister.
Gorton was born out of wedlock and had a turbulent childhood.
He studied at Brasenose College, Oxford, after finishing his secondary education at Geelong Grammar School, and then returned to Australia to take over his father's property in northern Victoria.
Gorton enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in 1940, and served as a fighter pilot in Malaya and New Guinea during the Second World War.
He suffered severe facial injuries in a crash landing on Bintan Island in 1942, and whilst being evacuated; his ship was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine.
He returned to farming after being discharged in 1944, and was elected to the Kerang Shire Council in 1946; he later served a term as shire president.
After a previous unsuccessful candidacy at state level, Gorton was elected to the Senate at the 1949 federal election.
He took a keen interest in foreign policy, and gained a reputation as a strident anti-Communist.
Gorton was promoted to the ministry in 1958, and over the following decade held a variety of different portfolios in the governments of Robert Menzies and Harold Holt.
He was responsible at various times for the Navy, public works, education, and science.
He was elevated to the Cabinet in 1966, and the following year, he was promoted to Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Gorton defeated three other candidates for the Liberal leadership after Harold Holt's disappearance on 17 December 1967.
He became the first and only senator to assume the office of Prime Minister, but soon transferred to the House of Representatives in line with constitutional convention.
The Gorton Government continued Australian involvement in the Vietnam War, but began withdrawing troops amid growing public discontent.
It retained office at the 1969 federal election, albeit with a severely reduced majority.
Gorton's domestic policies, which emphasised centralisation and economic nationalism, were often controversial in his own party, and his individualistic style alienated many of his Cabinet members.
He resigned as Liberal leader in 1971 after a confidence motion in his leadership was tied, and was replaced by William McMahon.
After losing the premiership, Gorton was elected deputy leader under McMahon and appointed Minister for Defence.
He was sacked for disloyalty after a few months.
After the Coalition's defeat at the 1972 federal election, Gorton unsuccessfully stood as McMahon's replacement.
He briefly served as an opposition frontbencher under Billy Snedden, but stood down in 1974 and spent the rest of his career as a backbencher.
Gorton resigned from the Liberal Party when Malcolm Fraser was elected leader, and at the 1975 election mounted an unsuccessful campaign for the Senate as an independent.
He later spent several years as a political commentator, retiring from public life in 1981.