Australian politician and soldier
Died when: 88 years 3 days
Star Sign: Aries
Lieutenant Colonel Sir Michael Frederick Bruxner (25 March 1882 – 28 March 1970) was an Australian politician and soldier, serving for many years as leader of the Country Party (and its predecessors) in New South Wales. Born in the north of the state, Bruxner was educated at The Armidale School and started studies at University of Sydney but later dropped out to take up employment as a grazier and station agent in Tenterfield. After serving in the Citizen Military Forces from 1911, Bruxner enlisted into the Australian Light Horse upon the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Serving with distinction in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Returning to Australia in 1919, Bruxner sold his business and joined the Progressive Party, being elected to the Parliament of New South Wales for Northern Tablelands at the 1920 election. Bruxner came to political prominence when he led the rural "True Blues" faction of the Progressive Party that went against their Leader's decision to form a coalition in Sir George Fuller's short-lived government in 1921. Bruxner emerged as the leader of the reduced Progressive Party, which consisted of the members of his faction, but they nevertheless joined with Fuller's Nationalists to form government in 1922. Bruxner also became involved in the New England New State Movement. Bruxner resigned the party leadership, now for the renamed Country Party, at the end of 1925. At the 1927 election, with the abandonment of proportional representation, he won the new seat of Tenterfield unopposed. Bruxner was included in new Premier Thomas Bavin's cabinet as Minister for Local Government, which included the responsibility for transport. He served until Labor won the 1930 election. In April 1932 Bruxner was elected again as the new Country Party Leader, which he would hold continuously until 1958. When Sir Philip Game dismissed Jack Lang and called upon the Leader of the Opposition Bertram Stevens to form a caretaker government in 1932, Stevens formed a coalition with Bruxner's Country Party and Bruxner was named as the first Deputy Premier of New South Wales. Bruxner was also sworn in as Minister for Transport and briefly resumed his former Local Government portfolio. Bruxner also worked with his long-time friend and Minister for Education David Drummond, to establish the New England University College in 1938, which was later to become the University of New England. Bruxner was central in ensuring Alexander Mair became Premier after Stevens was defeated in the house in August 1939. The Coalition lost government at the 10 May 1941 election and Bruxner would never again serve in government. The rest of Bruxner's parliamentary career was to be on the opposition benches, leading the Country Party through five more elections and through the instability of the larger opposition parties that eventually united as the Liberal Party. On 6 May 1958, Bruxner formally resigned as Leader of the Country Party, having served continuously in that role since 1932. He continued to serve in his capacity as Member for Tenterfield for one more term before retiring from politics before the 1962 election. Bruxner was Knighted as a KBE in 1962, and thereafter served in various capacities on boards and continued his passion for horses before his death aged 88 on 28 March 1970.