|7th Prime Minister of Australia|
27 October 1915 –9 February 1923
|Governor-General|| Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson |
|Deputy|| George Pearce 1915–1916|
Sir Joseph Cook 1916–1921
Stanley Bruce 1921–1923
|Preceded by||Andrew Fisher|
|Succeeded by||Stanley Bruce|
|Born||25 September 1862|
Pimlico, London, England
|Died||28 October 1952 90) (aged|
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Resting place||Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium|
|Political party|| Labor (to 1916)|
National Labor (1916–17)
United Australia (1931–44)
Liberal (from 1945)
William Morris Hughes, CH , KC (25 September 1862 –28 October 1952) was an Australian politician who served as the 7th Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1915 to 1923. He is best known for leading the country during World War I, but his influence on national politics spanned several decades. Hughes was a member of federal parliament from Federation in 1901 until his death, the only person to have served for more than 50 years. He represented six political parties during his career, leading five, outlasting four, and being expelled from three.
The Prime Minister of Australia is the head of government of Australia. The individual who holds the office is the most senior Minister of State, the leader of the Federal Cabinet. The Prime Minister also has the responsibility of administering the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and is the chair of the National Security Committee and the Council of Australian Governments. The office of Prime Minister is not mentioned in the Constitution of Australia but exists through Westminster political convention. The individual who holds the office is commissioned by the Governor-General of Australia and at the Governor-General's pleasure subject to the Constitution of Australia and constitutional conventions.
In Australia, the outbreak of World War I was greeted with considerable enthusiasm. Even before Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, the nation pledged its support alongside other states of the British Empire and almost immediately began preparations to send forces overseas to participate in the conflict. The first campaign that Australians were involved in was in German New Guinea after a hastily raised force known as the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force was dispatched from Australia to seize German possessions in the Pacific in September 1914. At the same time another expeditionary force, initially consisting of 20,000 men and known as the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF), was raised for service overseas.
The Federation of Australia was the process by which the six separate British self-governing colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia agreed to unite and form the Commonwealth of Australia, establishing a system of federalism in Australia. Fiji and New Zealand were originally part of this process, but they decided not to join the federation. Following federation, the six colonies that united to form the Commonwealth of Australia as states kept the systems of government that they had developed as separate colonies, but they also agreed to have a federal government that was responsible for matters concerning the whole nation. When the Constitution of Australia came into force, on 1 January 1901, the colonies collectively became states of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Hughes was born in London to Welsh parents. He emigrated to Australia at the age of 22, and became involved in the fledgling labour movement. He was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1894, as a member of the New South Wales Labor Party, and then transferred to the new federal parliament in 1901. Hughes combined his early political career with part-time legal studies, and was called to the bar in 1903. He first entered cabinet in 1904, in the short-lived Watson Government, and was later Attorney-General in each of Andrew Fisher's governments. He was elected deputy leader of the Australian Labor Party in 1914.
The Welsh are a Celtic nation and ethnic group native to, or otherwise associated with, Wales, Welsh culture, Welsh history and the Welsh language. Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom, and the majority of people living in Wales are British citizens.
The Australian labour movement began in the early 19th century and since the late 19th century has included industrial and political wings. Trade unions in Australia may be organised on the basis of craft unionism, general unionism, or industrial unionism. Almost all unions in Australia are affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), many of which have undergone a significant process of amalgamations, especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The leadership and membership of unions hold and have at other times held a wide range of political views, including communist, socialist and right-wing views.
The New South Wales Legislative Assembly is the lower of the two houses of the Parliament of New South Wales, an Australian state. The upper house is the New South Wales Legislative Council. Both the Assembly and Council sit at Parliament House in the state capital, Sydney. The Assembly is presided over by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
Hughes became prime minister in October 1915, when Fisher retired due to ill health. The war was the dominant issue of the time, and his support for sending conscripted troops overseas caused a split within Labor ranks. Hughes and his supporters were expelled from the party in November 1916, but he was able to remain in power at the head of the new National Labor Party, which after a few months merged with the Liberals to form the Nationalist Party. His government was re-elected with large majorities at the 1917 and 1919 elections. Hughes established the forerunners of the Australian Federal Police and the CSIRO during the war, and also created a number of new state-owned enterprises to aid the post-war economy. He made a significant impression on other world leaders at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, where he secured Australian control of the former German New Guinea.
The Australian Labor Party split of 1916 occurred following severe disagreement within the Australian Labor Party over the issue of proposed World War I conscription in Australia. Labor Prime Minister of Australia Billy Hughes had, by 1916, become an enthusiastic supporter of conscription as a means to boost Australia's contribution to the war effort. On 30 August 1916, he announced plans for a referendum on the issue, and introduced enabling legislation into parliament on 14 September, which passed only with the support of the opposition. Six of Hughes' ministers resigned in protest at the move, and the New South Wales state branch of the Labor Party expelled Hughes. The referendum saw an intense campaign in which Labor figures vehemently advocated on each side of the argument, although the "no" campaign narrowly won on 14 November. In the wake of the referendum defeat, the caucus moved to expel Hughes on 14 November; instead, he and 23 supporters resigned and formed the National Labor Party. Frank Tudor was elected leader of the rump party. Hughes was recommissioned as Prime Minister, heading a minority government supported by the opposition Commonwealth Liberal Party; the two parties then merged as the Nationalist Party of Australia and won the 1917 federal election. The Nationalist Party served as the main conservative party of Australia until 1931, and the split resulted in many early Labor figures ending their careers on the political right.
The National Labor Party was formed by Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes in 1916 following the 1916 Labor split on the issue of World War I conscription in Australia. Hughes had taken over as leader of the Australian Labor Party and Prime Minister of Australia when anti-conscriptionist Andrew Fisher resigned in 1915. He formed the new party for himself and his followers after he was expelled from the ALP a month after the 1916 plebiscite on conscription in Australia. Hughes held a pro-conscription stance in relation to World War I.
The Commonwealth Liberal Party was a political movement active in Australia from 1909 to 1917, shortly after Federation. The CLP came about as a result of a merger between the two non-Labor parties, the Protectionist Party and the Anti-Socialist Party which most of their MPs accepted. The CLP is the earliest direct ancestor of the current Liberal Party of Australia.
At the 1922 election, the Nationalists lost their majority in parliament and were forced to form a coalition with the Country Party. Hughes' resignation was the price for Country Party support, and he was succeeded as prime minister by Stanley Bruce. He became one of Bruce's leading critics over time, and in 1928, following a dispute over industrial relations, he and his supporters crossed the floor on a confidence motion and brought down the government. After a period as an independent, Hughes formed his own organisation, the Australian Party, which in 1931 merged into the new United Australia Party (UAP). He returned to cabinet in 1934, and became known for his prescient warnings against Japanese imperialism. As late as 1939, he missed out on a second stint as prime minister by only a handful of votes, losing a UAP leadership ballot to Robert Menzies.
The 1922 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 16 December 1922. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives, and 19 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Nationalist Party, led by Prime Minister Billy Hughes lost its majority. However, the opposition Labor Party led by Matthew Charlton did not take office as the Nationalists sought a coalition with the fledgling Country Party led by Earle Page. The Country Party made Hughes's resignation the price for joining, and Hughes was replaced as Nationalist leader by Stanley Bruce.
The Liberal–National Coalition is an alliance of centre-right political parties that forms one of the two major groupings in Australian federal politics. Its main opponent is the Australian Labor Party (ALP), and the two forces are often regarded as operating in a two-party system. The Coalition has been in government since the 2013 federal election, most recently being re-elected in the 2019 Australian federal election. The group is led by Scott Morrison as Prime Minister of Australia since August 2018.
The National Party of Australia is an Australian political party. Traditionally representing graziers, farmers, and rural voters generally, it began as the Australian Country Party in 1920 at a federal level. It would later briefly adopt the name National Country Party in 1975, before adopting its current name in 1982.
Hughes is generally acknowledged as one of the most influential Australian politicians of the 20th century. He was a controversial figure throughout his lifetime, and his legacy continues to be debated by historians. His strong views and abrasive manner meant he frequently made political enemies, often from within his own parties. Hughes' opponents accused him of engaging in authoritarianism and populism, as well as inflaming sectarianism; his use of the War Precautions Act 1914 was particularly controversial. His former colleagues in the Labor Party considered him a traitor, while conservatives were suspicious of what they viewed as his socialist economic policies. However, he was extremely popular among the general public, particularly ex-servicemen, who affectionately nicknamed him "the little digger".
The War Precautions Act 1914 was an Act of the Parliament of Australia which gave the Government of Australia special powers for the duration of World War I and for six months afterwards.
Digger is a military slang term for soldiers from Australia and New Zealand. Evidence of its use has been found in those countries as early as the 1850s, but its current usage in a military context did not become prominent until World War I, when Australian and New Zealand troops began using it on the Western Front around 1916–17. Evolving out of its usage during the war, the term has been linked to the concept of the Anzac legend, but within a wider social context, it is linked to the concept of "egalitarian mateship".
Hughes was born on 25 September 1862 at 7 Moreton Place, Pimlico, London, the son of William Hughes and the former Jane Morris. His parents were both Welsh. His father, who worked as a carpenter and joiner at the Palace of Westminster, was from North Walesand was a fluent Welsh speaker. His mother, a domestic servant, was from the small village of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain (near the English border), and spoke only English. Hughes was an only child; at the time of their marriage, in June 1861, his parents were both 37 years old.
Pimlico is a small area of Central London in the City of Westminster, built as a southern extension to neighbouring Belgravia. It is known for its garden squares and Regency architecture. It is marked off to the north by Victoria Station, and bounded by the River Thames to the south, Vauxhall Bridge Road to the east and the former Grosvenor Canal to the west. At its heart is a grid of residential streets laid down by the planner Thomas Cubitt from 1825 and now protected as a conservation area. Additions have included the pre-World War II Dolphin Square and the Churchill Gardens and Lillington and Longmoore Gardens estates, now conservation areas in their own right. The area has over 350 Grade II listed buildings and several Grade II* listed churches. Residents have included politician Winston Churchill, designer Laura Ashley, philosopher Swami Vivekananda, actor Laurence Olivier, illustrator and author Aubrey Beardsley, Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta, lawn-tennis inventor Major Walter Wingfield and world record-holding pilot Sheila Scott.
The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London, England.
Welsh ; [kəmˈrɑːɨɡ](
Hughes' mother died in May 1869, when he was six years old. His father subsequently sent him to be raised by relatives in Wales. During the school term, he lived with his father's sister, Mary Hughes, who kept a boardinghouse in Llandudno named "Bryn Rosa". He earned pocket money by doing chores for his aunt's tenants and singing in the choir at the local church. Hughes began his formal schooling in Llandudno, attending two small single-teacher schools.He spent his holidays with his mother's family in Llansantffraid. There, he divided his time between "Winllan", the farm of his widowed aunt (Margaret Mason), and "Plas Bedw", the neighbouring farm of his grandparents (Peter and Jane Morris).
Hughes regarded his early years in Wales as the happiest time of his life.He was immensely proud of his Welsh identity, and would later become active in the Welsh Australian community, frequently speaking at Saint David's Day celebrations. Hughes called Welsh the "language of heaven", but his own grasp of it was patchy. Like many of his contemporaries, he had no formal schooling in Welsh, and had particular difficulties with spelling. Nonetheless, he received and replied to correspondence from Welsh-speakers throughout his political career, and as prime minister famously traded insults in Welsh with David Lloyd George.
At the age of eleven, Hughes was enrolled in St Stephen's School, Westminster, one of the many church schools established by the philanthropist Lady Burdett-Coutts. He won prizes in geometry and French, receiving the latter from Lord Harrowby. After finishing his elementary schooling, he was apprenticed as a "pupil-teacher" for five years, instructing younger students for five hours a day in exchange for personal lessons from the headmaster and a small stipend.At St Stephen's, Hughes came into contact with the poet Matthew Arnold, who was an examiner and inspector for the local school district. Arnold – who coincidentally had holidayed at Llandudno – took a liking to Hughes, and gifted him a copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare; Hughes credited Arnold with instilling his lifelong love of literature.
After finishing his initial apprenticeship, Hughes stayed on at St Stephen's as a teaching assistant. He had no interest in teaching as a career though, and also declined Matthew Arnold's offer to secure him a clerkship at Coutts.His relative financial security allowed him to pursue his own interests for the first time, which included bellringing, boating on the Thames, and travel (such as a two-day trip to Paris). He also joined a volunteer battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, which consisted mainly of artisans and white-collar workers. In later life, Hughes recalled London as "a place of romance, mystery and suggestion".
At the age of 22, finding his prospects in London dim, Hughes decided to emigrate to Australia.Taking advantage of an assisted-passage scheme offered by the Colony of Queensland, he arrived in Brisbane on 8 December 1884 after a two-month journey. On arrival, he gave his year of birth as 1864, a deception that would not be uncovered until after his death. Hughes attempted to find work with the Education Department, but was either not offered a position or found the terms of employment to be unsuitable. He spent the next two years as an itinerant labourer, working various odd jobs. In his memoirs, Hughes claimed to have worked variously as a fruitpicker, tally clerk, navvy, blacksmith's striker, station hand, drover, and saddler's assistant, and to have travelled (mostly on foot) as far north as Rockhampton, as far west as Adavale, and as far south as Orange, New South Wales. He also claimed to have served briefly in both the [[Queensland Defence Force]] and the Queensland Maritime Defence Force. Hughes' accounts are by their nature unverifiable, and his biographers have cast doubt on their veracity – Fitzhardinge states that they were embellished at best and at worst "a world of pure fantasy".
Hughes moved to Sydney in about mid-1886, working his way there as a deckhand and galley cook aboard SS Maranoa.He found occasional work as a line cook, but at one point supposedly had to resort to living in a cave on The Domain for a few days. Hughes eventually found a steady job at a forge, making hinges for colonial ovens. Around the same time, he entered into a common-law marriage with Elizabeth Cutts, his landlady's daughter; they would have six children together. In 1890, Hughes moved to Balmain. The following year, with his wife's financial assistance, he was able to open a small shop selling general merchandise. The income from the shop was not enough to live on, so he also worked part-time as a locksmith and umbrella salesman, and his wife as a washerwoman. One of Hughes' acquaintances in Balmain was William Wilks, another future MP, while one of the customers at his shop was Frederick Jordan, a future Chief Justice of New South Wales.
In Balmain, Hughes became a Georgist, a street-corner speaker, presidentof the Balmain Single Tax League, and joined the Socialist League. He was an organiser with the Australian Workers' Union and may have already joined the newly formed Labor Party. In 1894, Hughes spent eight months in central New South Wales organising for the Amalgamated Shearers' Union and then won the Legislative Assembly seat of Sydney-Lang by 105 votes.
While in Parliament he became secretary of the Wharf Labourer's Union. In 1900 he founded and became first national president of the Waterside Workers' Union. During this period Hughes studied law, and was admitted as a barrister in 1903. Unlike most Labor men, he was a strong supporter of Federation [ citation needed ] and Georgism.
In 1901 Hughes was elected to the first federal Parliament as Labor MP for West Sydney. He opposed the Barton government's proposals for a small professional army and instead advocated compulsory universal training.In 1903, he was admitted to the bar after several years part-time study. He became a King's Counsel (KC) in 1909. (The title changed to Queen's Council (QC) on the accession of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.)
In 1911, he married Mary Campbell.He was Minister for External Affairs in Chris Watson's first Labor government. He was Attorney-General in Andrew Fisher's three Labor governments in 1908–09, 1910–13 and 1914–15.
In 1913, at the foundation ceremony of Canberra as the capital of Australia, Hughes gave a speech proclaiming that the country was obtained via the elimination of the indigenous population. "We were destined to have our own way from the beginning..[and]..killed everybody else to get it," Hughes said, adding that "the first historic event in the history of the Commonwealth we are engaged in today [is] without the slightest trace of that race we have banished from the face of the earth." But he warned that "we must not be too proud lest we should, too, in time disappear."
His abrasive manner (his chronic dyspepsia was thought to contribute to his volatile temperament) made his colleagues reluctant to have him as Leader. His on-going feud with King O'Malley, a fellow Labor minister, was a prominent example of his combative style. Hughes was also the club patron for the Glebe Rugby League team in the debut year of Rugby League in Australia, in 1908.[ citation needed ] Hughes was one of a number of prominent Labor politicians who were aligned with the Rugby League movement in Sydney in 1908.[ citation needed ] Rugby League was borne out of a player movement against the Metropolitan Rugby Union who refused to compensate players for downtime from their jobs due to injuries sustained playing Rugby Union. Labor politicians aligned themselves with the new code as it was seen as a strong social standpoint, politically, and it was an enthusiastic professional game, which made the politicians themselves appear in a similar vein, in their opinions anyway.[ citation needed ]
Following the 1914 election, the Labor Prime Minister of Australia, Andrew Fisher, found the strain of leadership during World War I taxing and faced increasing pressure from the ambitious Hughes who wanted Australia to be firmly recognised on the world stage. By 1915 Fisher's health was suffering and, in October, he resigned and was succeeded by Hughes. In social policy, Hughes introduced an institutional pension for pensioners in benevolent asylums, equal to the difference between the 'act of grace' payment to the institution and the rate of IP.
Hughes was a strong supporter of Australia's participation in World War I and, after the loss of 28,000 men as casualties (killed, wounded and missing) in July and August 1916, Generals Birdwood and White of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) persuaded Hughesthat conscription was necessary if Australia was to sustain its contribution to the war effort.
However, a two-thirds majority of his party, which included Roman Catholics and union representatives as well as the Industrialists (Socialists) such as Frank Anstey, were bitterly opposed to this, especially in the wake of what was regarded by many Irish Australians (most of whom were Roman Catholics) as Britain's excessive response to the Easter Rising of 1916.[ citation needed ]
In October, Hughes held a national plebiscite for conscription, but it was narrowly defeated. [ citation needed ]The enabling legislation was the Military Service Referendum Act 1916 and the outcome was advisory only. The narrow defeat (1,087,557 Yes and 1,160,033 No), however, did not deter Hughes, who continued to argue vigorously in favour of conscription. This revealed the deep and bitter split within the Australian community that had existed since before Federation, as well as within the members of his own party.
Conscription had been in place since the 1910 Defence Act, but only in the defence of the nation. Hughes was seeking via a referendum to change the wording in the act to include "overseas". A referendum was not necessary but Hughes felt that in light of the seriousness of the situation, a vote of "Yes" from the people would give him a mandate to bypass the Senate. [ why? ] considering him to be "a guest, rather than the representative of Australia". [ citation needed ]The Lloyd George Government of Britain did favour Hughes but only came to power in 1916, several months after the first referendum. The predecessor Asquith government greatly disliked Hughes
On 15 September 1916 the NSW executive of the Political Labour League, Frank Tudor (the Labor Party organisation at the time) expelled Hughes from the Labor Party, after Hughes and 24 others had already walked out to the sound of Hughes's finest political cry "Let those who think like me, follow me."Hughes took with him almost all of the Parliamentary talent, leaving behind the Industrialists and Unionists, thus marking the end of the first era in Labor's history. Years later, Hughes said, "I did not leave the Labor Party, The party left me." The timing of Hughes's expulsion from the Labor Party meant that he became the first Labor leader who never led the party to an election.
Hughes and his followers, which included many of Labor's early leaders, called themselves the National Labor Party and began laying the groundwork for forming a party that they felt would be both avowedly nationalist as well as socially radical.Hughes was forced to conclude a confidence and supply agreement with the opposition Commonwealth Liberal Party to stay in office.
A few months later, the Governor-General, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, persuaded Hughes and Liberal Party leader Joseph Cook (himself a former Labor man) to turn their wartime coalition into a formal party.This was the Nationalist Party of Australia, which was formally launched in February. Although the Liberals were the larger partner in the merger, Hughes emerged as the new party's leader, with Cook as his deputy. The presence of several working-class figures—including Hughes—in what was basically an upper- and middle-class party allowed the Nationalists to convey an image of national unity. At the same time, he became and remains a traitor in Labor histories.
At the May 1917 federal election Hughes and the Nationalists won a huge electoral victory, which was magnified by the large number of Labor MPs who followed him out of the party. At this election Hughes gave up his working-class Sydney seat and was elected for Bendigo, Victoria, becoming the first of only a handful of people who have represented more than one state or territory in the Parliament. Hughes had promised to resign if his Government did not win the power to conscript. Queensland Premier T. J. Ryan was a key opponent to conscription, and violence almost broke out when Hughes ordered a raid on the Government Printing Office in Brisbane, with the aim of confiscating copies of Hansard that covered debates in the Queensland Parliament where anti-conscription sentiments had been aired. A second plebiscite on conscription was held in December 1917, but was again defeated, this time by a wider margin. Hughes, after receiving a vote of no confidence in his leadership by his party, resigned as Prime Minister. However, there were no credible alternative candidates. For this reason, Munro-Ferguson used his reserve power to immediately re-commission Hughes, thus allowing him to remain as Prime Minister while keeping his promise to resign.
The government replaced the first-past-the-post electoral system applying to both houses of the Federal Parliament under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1903 with a preferential system for the House of Representatives in 1918. That preferential system has essentially applied ever since. A multiple majority-preferential system was introduced at the 1919 federal election for the Senate, and that remained in force until it was changed to a quota-preferential system of proportional representation in 1948.Those changes were considered to be a response to the emergence of the Country Party, so that the non-Labor vote would not be split, as it would have been under the previous first-past-the-post system.
In early 1916, Hughes established the Advisory Council on Science and Industry, the first national body for scientific research and the first iteration of what is now the CSIRO. The council had no basis in legislation, and was intended only as a temporary body to be replaced with "Bureau of Science and Industry" as soon as possible. However, due to wartime stresses and other considerations the council endured until 1920, at which point an act of parliament was passed transforming it into a new government agency, the Institute of Science and Industry. According to Fitzhardinge: "The whole affair was highly typical of Hughes's methods. An idea coming from outside happened to chime with his preoccupation of the moment. He seized it, put his own stamp on it, and pushed it through to the point of realization. Then, having established the machinery, he expected it to run itself while he turned his full energies elsewhere, and tended to be evasive or testy if he was called back to it. Yet his interest was genuine, and without his enthusiasm and drive the Commonwealth intervention would either not have come at all or would have been far slower".
On 10 March 1919 Prime Minister of Australia Billy Hughes announced a £10,000 reward to the first aviator who will fly from the United Kingdom to Australia in less than 30 days.Ross and Keith Smith won the race when their Vickers Vimy G-EAOU twin engine plane, won the £10,000 prize after they landed in Darwin.
In 1919 Hughes, with former Prime Minister Joseph Cook, travelled to Paris to attend the Versailles Peace Conference. He remained away for 16 months, and signed the Treaty of Versailles on behalf of Australia – the first time Australia had signed an international treaty. At Versailles, Hughes claimed: "I speak for 60 000 [Australian] dead". He asked of Woodrow Wilson; "How many do you speak for?" when the United States President failed to acknowledge his demands. Hughes, unlike Wilson or South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts, demanded heavy reparations from Germany, suggesting a staggering sum of £24,000,000,000 of which Australia would claim many millions to off-set its own war debt. Hughes frequently clashed with President Wilson, who described him as a "pestiferous varmint".
Hughes demanded that Australia have independent representation within the newly-formed League of Nations. Despite the rejection of his conscription policy, Hughes retained popularity with Australian voters, and in the Australian federal election of December 1919 his government was comfortably re-elected. At the Treaty negotiations, Hughes was the most prominent opponent of the inclusion of Japan's Racial Equality Proposal, which as a result of lobbying by him and others was not included in the final Treaty. His position on this issue reflected the dominant racist attitudes of the White Australia policy. He told the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George that he would leave the conference if the clause was adopted. When the proposal failed, Hughes reported in the Australian parliament:
The White Australia is yours. You may do with it what you please, but at any rate, the soldiers have achieved the victory and my colleagues and I have brought that great principle back to you from the conference, as safe as it was on the day when it was first adopted.
Japan was notably offended by Hughes's position on the issue.
Hughes had entered politics as a trade unionist, and like most of the Australian working class was very strongly opposed to Asian immigration to Australia (excluding Asian immigration was a popular cause with unions in Canada, the U.S, Australia, and New Zealand in the early 20th century). Hughes believed that accepting the Racial Equality clause would mean the end of the White Australia immigration policy that had been adopted in 1901, writing: "No Gov't could live for a day in Australia if it tampered with a White Australia".Hughes stated: "The position is this – either the Japanese proposal means something or it means nothing: if the former, out with it; if the latter, why have it?"
Like Jan Smuts of South Africa, Hughes was concerned by the rise of Japan. Within months of the declaration of the European War in 1914, Japan, Australia and New Zealand had seized all German territorial possessions in the Pacific. Though Japan had occupied German possessions with the blessing of the British, Hughes felt alarm at this turn of events.In 1919 at the Peace Conference the British Dominions of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia argued their case to keep their occupied German possessions of German Samoa, German South West Africa, and German New Guinea respectively; these territories were given as "Class C Mandates" to the respective Dominions. In a same-same deal Japan obtained control over its occupied German possessions north of the equator.
With reference to Hughes's actions at the Peace Conference, the historian Seth Tillman described him as "a noisesome demagogue", the "bete noir [ sic ] of Anglo-American relations". Unlike Smuts, Hughes totally opposed the concept of the League of Nations, as in it he saw the flawed idealism of "collective security". [ need quotation to verify ]
After 1920 Hughes's political position declined. Many of the more conservative elements of his own party never trusted him because they thought he was still a socialist at heart, citing his interest in retaining government ownership of the Commonwealth Shipping Line and the Australian Wireless Company. However, they continued to support him for some time after the war, if only to keep Labor out of power.
A new party, the Country Party (now the National Party), was formed, representing farmers who were discontented with the Nationalists' rural policies, in particular Hughes's acceptance of a much higher level of tariff protection for Australian industries (that had expanded during the war) and his support for price controls on rural produce. In the New Year's Day Honours of 1922, his wife Mary was appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE).
At the 1922 federal election, Hughes gave up Bendigo and transferred to the upper-class seat of North Sydney, thus giving up one of the last symbolic links to his working-class roots. The Nationalists lost their outright majority at the election. The Country Party, despite its opposition to Hughes's farm policy, was the Nationalists' only realistic coalition partner. However, party leader Earle Page let it be known that he and his party would not serve under Hughes. Under pressure from his party's right wing, Hughes resigned in February 1923 and was succeeded by his Treasurer, Stanley Bruce.Hughes was the longest-serving Prime Minister, until his term was surpassed by Robert Menzies (in 1957).
Hughes was furious at being ousted by his own party and nursed his grievance on the back-benches until 1929, when he led a group of back-bench rebels who crossed the floor of the Parliament to bring down the Bruce government. Hughes was expelled from the Nationalist Party, and formed his own party, the Australian Party. After the Nationalists were heavily defeated in the ensuing election, Hughes initially supported the Labor government of James Scullin. He had a falling-out with Scullin over financial matters, however. In 1931 he buried the hatchet with his former non-Labor colleagues and joined the Nationalists and several right-wing Labor dissidents under Joseph Lyons in forming the United Australia Party (UAP), under Lyons' leadership. He voted with the rest of the UAP to bring the Scullin government down.
The UAP won a sweeping victory at the 1931 election. Lyons sent Hughes to represent Australia at the 1932 League of Nations Assembly in Geneva and in 1934 Hughes became Minister for Health and Repatriation in the Lyons government. Later Lyons appointed him Minister for External Affairs, but Hughes was forced to resign in 1935 after his book Australia and the War Today exposed a lack of preparation in Australia for what Hughes correctly supposed to be a coming war. Soon after, the Lyons government tripled the defence budget.
Hughes was brought back to Australia by Lyons as Minister for External Affairs in 1937. By the time of Lyons' death in 1939, Hughes was also serving as Attorney-General and Minister for Industry. He also served as Minister for the Navy, Minister for Industry and Attorney-General at various times under Lyons' successor, Robert Menzies.
Defence issues became increasingly dominant in public affairs with the rise of Fascism in Europe and militant Japan in Asia. – initially composed of Prime Minister Menzies and five senior ministers including Hughes.From 1938, Prime Minister Joseph Lyons had Hughes head a recruitment drive for the Australian Defence Force. On 7 April 1939, Lyons died in office. The United Australia Party selected Robert Menzies as his successor to lead a minority government on the eve of World War Two. Australia entered the Second World War on 3 September 1939 and a special War Cabinet was created after war was declared
Labor opposition leader John Curtin declined to join and Menzies lost his majority at the 1940 Election. With the Allies suffering a series of defeats and the threat of war growing in the Pacific, the Menzies Government (1939-1941) relied on two independents, Arthur Coles and Alex Wilson for its parliamentary majority.[ citation needed ]
Unable to convince Curtin to join in a War Cabinet and facing growing pressure within his own party, Menzies resigned as Prime Minister on 29 August 1941. Although the UAP had been in government for a decade, it was so bereft of leadership that a joint UAP-Country meeting elected Country Party leader Arthur Fadden to lead the Coalition.[ citation needed ] Hughes remained in the Fadden government, serving as Attorney-General and Minister for the Navy. A month later, Coles and Wilson joined with the Labor opposition to defeat the budget and bring down the government. The independents, under prodding from Governor-General Lord Gowrie, then threw their support to Opposition Leader John Curtin, who was sworn in as Prime Minister on 7 October 1941. Eight weeks later, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
Going into opposition the UAP opted for a joint Coalition opposition led by Fadden, which led Menzies to resign the leadership. Hughes was narrowly elected leaderbut widely regarded as a stop-gap given his age. Hughes led the UAP into the 1943 election largely by refusing to hold any party meetings and by agreeing to let Fadden lead the Opposition as a whole. The Coalition was severely defeated, winning only 19 seats. Hughes himself was nearly defeated in North Sydney on a swing of over 14 percent, seeing his majority dwindle from a comfortably safe 67 percent to a marginal 53 percent. After the election, Hughes—who had widely been reckoned as a stopgap leader—yielded the leadership of the UAP back to Menzies.
In February 1944, the parliamentary UAP voted to withdraw its members from the Advisory War Council. Hughes and Menzies resigned, but Percy Spender chose to remain on the council and was expelled from the UAP. A few months later, Hughes rejoined the War Council at the personal invitation of John Curtin. He was expelled from the UAP on 14 April 1944, and replaced as deputy leader by Eric Harrison.Hughes and Spender sat as an independents until 13 September 1945, when they joined the new Liberal Party of Australia that had been founded earlier in the year. By that point the War Council had been abolished.
A major redistribution and expansion of the House of Representatives occurred prior to the 1949 election, with much of the northern portion of North Sydney transferred to the new Bradfield. Hughes faced a preselection challenge for the first time since 1894, but defeated Harry Turner for Liberal Party endorsement and won a comfortable victory.He was re-elected to the House of Representatives for the 20th and final time at the 1951 election, with 79 percent of the vote. Hughes' last speech in parliament was an attack on the Menzies Government's decision to sell its share in Commonwealth Oil Refineries, one of the state-owned enterprises his government had established over 30 years earlier. According to H. V. Evatt, his speech "seemed at once to grip the attention of all honourable members present [...] nobody left the House, and nobody seemed to dare to move".
Hughes celebrated a number of milestones in his last years in parliament. In 1944, a celebratory dinner was held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his election to the Parliament of New South Wales, and 50 consecutive years of service as an MP. Prime Minister John Curtin toasted him as someone who had "fought like hell for what he believed to be right, and for that Australia will honour him".In June 1951, Hughes was the guest of honour at a banquet marking the golden jubilee of the federal parliament. The following year, "almost every member of the House of Representatives and Senate" attended his birthday dinner. Prime Minister Robert Menzies observed that Hughes had been a member of every political party at one time or another, at which point Arthur Fadden interjected that he had never joined the Country Party. Hughes then remarked "had to draw the line somewhere, didn't I?".
Hughes died on 28 October 1952, aged 90, at his home in Lindfield.His state funeral was held at St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney and was one of the largest Australia has seen: some 450,000 spectators lined the streets. He was later buried at Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium with his daughter Helen; his widow Dame Mary joined them upon her death in 1958.
At the age of 90 years, one month and three days, Hughes is the oldest person ever to have been a member of the Australian parliament.His death sparked a Bradfield by-election. He had been a member of the House of Representatives for 51 years and seven months, beginning his service in the reign of Queen Victoria and ending it in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Including his service in the New South Wales colonial parliament before that, Hughes had spent a total of 58 years as an MP, and had never lost an election. His period of service remains a record in Australia. He was the last member of the original Australian Parliament elected in 1901 still serving in Parliament when he died. Hughes was the penultimate member of the First Parliament to die; King O'Malley outlived him by fourteen months. Hughes was also the last surviving member of the Watson Cabinet, as well as the first and third Cabinets of Andrew Fisher.
Soon after arriving in Sydney, Hughes entered into a common-law marriage with Elizabeth Cutts, the daughter of one of his landladies. Their relationship was never formally registered or solemnised, but they lived as husband and wife and had six children together – William (b. 1891; died in infancy), Ethel (b. 1892), Lily (b. 1893), Dolly (b. 1895), Ernest (b. 1897), and Charles (b. 1898). They also raised Arthur (b. 1885), Elizabeth's son from a previous relationship, who took Hughes as his surname. Their marriage was solid, though sometimes strained by Hughes' devotion to his work and frequent absences from home. Elizabeth had little interest in politics, and was sometimes ill at ease in the social situations that obtained as her husband's career progressed. She died of heart failure on 1 September 1906, aged 42, after a long period of ill health.
Hughes' great-granddaughter is married to the great-grandson of another prime minister, Joseph Lyons.
After his first wife's death, Hughes' oldest daughter Ethel kept house for him and helped look after the younger children.After a brief courtship, he remarried on 26 June 1911 to Mary Ethel Campbell, the daughter of a well-to-do pastoralist. At the time of their marriage, he was 48 and she was 37. Mary was politically and socially astute, and her husband often turned to her for advice on political matters. Unusually for the time, he insisted that he accompany her on all of his overseas trips, even those made during wartime. Through his second marriage, Hughes also became the brother-in-law of John Haynes, one of the founders of The Bulletin . His niece, Edith Haynes, lived with him and his wife as a companion for many years.
The only child from Hughes' second marriage was Helen Myfanwy Hughes, who was born in 1915 (a few months before he became prime minister). He doted upon her, calling her the "joy and light of my life",and was devastated by her death in childbirth in 1937, aged 21. Her son survived and was adopted by a friend of the family, with his grandfather contributing towards his upkeep. Because she was unmarried at the time, the circumstances of Helen's death were kept hidden and did not become generally known until 2004, when the ABC screened a programme presented by the actor Martin Vaughan. Vaughan had played Billy Hughes in the 1975 film Billy and Percy , and his continuing interest in him led to the unearthing of Helen's fate.
Hughes had a severe hearing loss that began when he was relatively young and worsened with age. He relied on a primitive electronic hearing aid, which was so bulky that it could only be worn for short periods and had to be carried around in a box. However, his deafness could sometimes be to his advantage, as he could feign misapprehension or simply turn off his device when he no longer wished to listen to someone. Physically, Hughes was short in stature and slightly built, standing 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) and weighing around 9 stone (57 kg) at most. He had a "naturally weak constitution", suffering frequently from colds and other infections, and to compensate became a "fanatical devotee of physical fitness". He also suffered from chronic indigestion, on account of which he abstained from red meat and alcohol and rarely ate large meals. Hughes often worked himself to exhaustion, and would require long periods of convalescence to recharge – sometimes weeks or even months. He was prone to bouts of depression interspersed with periods of euphoria, and following a near nervous breakdown in 1924 was diagnosed with "psychasthenia".
Hughes was a lifelong Anglican.He inherited this affiliation from his maternal side – his father was a Primitive Baptist and a deacon at the Welsh Baptist Church in London, though he wed with Anglican rites. Hughes attended church schools as a boy, and knew the King James Bible "back to front". As an adult, he would often use Biblical turns of phrase in his writing and public speaking. Hughes' participation in organised religion seemingly declined after he moved to Australia, and some writers have suggested that he became an agnostic or an atheist. The evidence for this is largely circumstantial – he was not a regular churchgoer, his first marriage was never solemnised in a church, and he frequently used blasphemous language.
All of Hughes' biographers have regarded him as a sincere Christian, albeit with a rather idiosyncratic theology. Fitzhardinge writes that Hughes had "a generalised faith in the spiritual values of Christianity" combined with "a profound belief in the after-life and the all-pervasiveness of God".Hughes rarely addressed metaphysics in his own works, but in his memoirs did note that he had rejected the doctrine of predestination at an early age: "I believed as a man sowed so he should reap [...] by faith and works he might find salvation." Manning Clark was somewhat skeptical of the earnestness of the beliefs that Hughes professed in public. With regard to Hughes' personal philosophy, Clark wrote that he had a "bleakly Hobbesian view of life", seeing it as "a savage elemental struggle for survival in which strong men crushed the weak".
Hughes frequently exploited religion for political ends. In his early days in the labour movement, he drew on his mastery of scripture to reassure Christians that socialism was not anti-religious or atheistic.Hughes became stridently anti-Catholic during World War I, though this was due to political interference from the church hierarchy rather than on theological grounds. He "inflamed sectarianism to a tragic degree" with vitriolic personal attacks on Catholic leaders; James Scullin, Australia's first Catholic prime minister, would later suggest that Hughes' divisiveness "very nearly wrecked Australia". He also banned the use of German in Australian churches, though this affected Lutherans more than Catholics.
Hughes, a tiny, wiry man, with a raspy voice and an increasingly wizened face, was an unlikely national leader, but during the First World War he acquired a reputation as a war leader—the troops called him the "Little Digger"—that sustained him for the rest of his life. He is remembered for his outstanding political and diplomatic skills, for his many witty sayings, and for his irrepressible optimism and patriotism. At the same time, the Australian labour movement never forgave him for defecting to the conservatives, and still considers him a "rat."
At the 50th jubilee dinner of the Commonwealth Parliament, a speaker paid tribute to him as a man "who sat in every Parliament since Federation – and every party too". Arthur Fadden interjected: "Not the Country Party!" "No," said Hughes, still able to hear when he wanted, "I had to draw the line somewhere."
Hughes was honored with fifteen 'Freedom of the City' awards – more than any other Prime Minister of Australia. Among these include:
Hughes received honorary degrees from the following universities:
The Division of Hughes and the Canberra suburb of Hughes are named after him. A park in Lane Cove, New South Wales is named 'Hughes Park' after Billy and Dame Mary Hughes.
In 1972, he was honoured on a postage stamp bearing his portrait issued by Australia Post.
After marrying his wife Mary in 1911, the couple went on a long drive, because he did not have time for a honeymoon.Their car crashed where the Sydney–Melbourne road crosses the Sydney–Melbourne railway north of Albury, New South Wales, leading to the level crossing there being named after him; it was later replaced by the Billy Hughes Bridge.
Sir Earle Christmas Grafton Page, was an Australian politician who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Australia, holding office for 19 days after the death of Joseph Lyons in 1939. He was the leader of the Country Party from 1921 to 1939, and was the most influential figure in its early years.
The Liberal Party of Australia is a major centre-right political party in Australia, one of the two major parties in Australian politics, along with the centre-left Australian Labor Party (ALP). It was founded in 1944 as the successor to the United Australia Party (UAP).
Sir Robert Gordon Menzies,, was an Australian politician who twice served as Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1949 to 1966. He played a central role in the creation of the Liberal Party of Australia, defining its policies and its broad outreach. He is Australia's longest-serving prime minister, serving over 18 years in total.
The United Australia Party (UAP) was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945. The party won four federal elections in that time, usually governing in coalition with the Country Party. It provided two Prime Ministers of Australia – Joseph Lyons (1932–1939) and Robert Menzies (1939–1941).
The Nationalist Party was an Australian political party. It was formed on 17 February 1917 from a merger between the Commonwealth Liberal Party and the National Labor Party, the latter formed by Prime Minister Billy Hughes and his supporters after the 1916 Labor Party split over World War I conscription. The Nationalist Party was in government until electoral defeat in 1929. From that time it was the main opposition to the Labor Party until it merged with pro-Joseph Lyons Labor defectors to form the United Australia Party (UAP) in 1931. The party was a direct ancestor of the Liberal Party of Australia, the main centre-right party in Australia.
Joseph Aloysius Lyons was an Australian politician who served as the 10th Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1932 until his death in 1939. He began his career in the Labor Party, but became the founding leader of the United Australia Party (UAP) after the 1931 party split. He had earlier served as Premier of Tasmania from 1923 to 1928.
Sir Arthur William Fadden, was an Australian politician who served as Prime Minister of Australia from 29 August to 7 October 1941. He was the leader of the Country Party from 1940 to 1958.
Sir John Greig Latham GCMG QC was an Australian lawyer, politician, and judge who served as the fifth Chief Justice of Australia, in office from 1935 to 1952. He had earlier served as Attorney-General of Australia under Stanley Bruce and Joseph Lyons, and was Leader of the Opposition from 1929 to 1931 as the final leader of the Nationalist Party.
The Australian Party was a political party founded and led by Billy Hughes after his expulsion from the Nationalist Party. The party was formed in 1929, and at its peak had four members of federal parliament. It was merged into the new United Australia Party in 1931, having never contested a federal election.
Sir Bertram Sydney Barnsdale Stevens was an Australian politician who served as the 25th Premier of New South Wales, in office from 1932 to 1939 as leader of the United Australia Party (UAP).
Sir Percy Claude Spender, was an Australian politician, diplomat and judge. He served in the House of Representatives from 1937 to 1951, including as a cabinet minister under Robert Menzies and Arthur Fadden. He was later Ambassador to the United States (1951–1958) and a member of the International Court of Justice (1958–1967), including as president of the court from 1964 to 1967.
Sir Eric John Harrison, was an Australian politician and diplomat. He was the inaugural deputy leader of the Liberal Party (1945–1956), and a government minister under four prime ministers. He was later High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1956 to 1964.
Sir Robert Archdale ParkhillKCMG was an Australian politician who served in the House of Representatives from 1927 to 1937. He began his career in politics as a campaign director for the Commonwealth Liberal Party and Nationalist Party. He later joined the new United Australia Party in 1931, and served as a minister in the Lyons Government between 1932 and 1937.
The Democratic Party was a short-lived, urban, conservative political party which was active in New South Wales, Australia between 1943 and 1945.
The Commonwealth Party was a short-lived, urban, conservative political party which was active in New South Wales, Australia in 1943-1944.
The Menzies Government (1939–1941) refers to the federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies. Menzies led the United Australia Party in the Australian Parliament from 1939–1941. Menzies served a later and longer term as Prime Minister as leader of a successor party, the Liberal Party of Australia from 1949–1966.
The Lyons Government was the federal Executive Government of Australia led by Prime Minister Joseph Lyons. It was made up of members of the United Australia Party in the Australian Parliament from January 1932 until the death of Joseph Lyons in 1939. Lyons negotiated a coalition with the Country Party after the 1934 Australian Federal election. The Lyons government stewarded Australia's recovery from the Great Depression
The Fadden Government was the federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister Arthur Fadden. As leader of the Country Party, Fadden led a United Australia Party-Country Party coalition government in the Australian Parliament from 29 August to 7 October 1941 during World War II.
The United Australia Party held a leadership election on 18 April 1939, following the death in office of Prime Minister Joseph Lyons on 7 April. Robert Menzies narrowly defeated Billy Hughes – a former Nationalist prime minister – on the third ballot, following the earlier elimination of Treasurer Richard Casey and Trade Minister Thomas White. Another former prime minister, Stanley Bruce, had also been considered a leadership contender, but for various reasons he was never nominated. Menzies was not sworn in as prime minister until 26 April.
The United Australia Party (UAP) held a leadership election on 9 October 1941, following the resignation of Robert Menzies on the same day. Billy Hughes was elected as his replacement.
At one point, Wilson reminded the Australian leader that he spoke for only a few million people. 'I speak for 60 000 dead', Hughes shot back. 'How many do you speak for?'
The usually reserved Wilson even described Hughes as 'a pestiferous varmint.'
Billy Hughes who, at 90, was the country's oldest serving MP before he died in 1952
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Billy Hughes .|
|Parliament of New South Wales|
|New district|| Member for Sydney-Lang |
John Joseph Power
|Parliament of Australia|
|New division|| Member for West Sydney |
| Member for Bendigo |
| Member for North Sydney |
|New division|| Member for Bradfield |
| Father of the House of Representatives |
Sir Earle Page
| Father of the Parliament |
| Minister for External Affairs |
| Attorney-General of Australia |
| Attorney-General of Australia |
| Attorney-General of Australia |
| Prime Minister of Australia |
| Minister for Trade and Customs |
|New title|| Minister for External Affairs |
| Minister for Health |
| Minister for Repatriation |
| Vice-President of the Executive Council |
| Minister for Health |
| Minister for Repatriation |
| Minister for External Affairs |
| Minister in charge of Territories |
| Vice-President of the Executive Council |
| Attorney-General of Australia |
H. V. Evatt
| Minister for Industry |
| Minister for the Navy |
|Party political offices|
| Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party |
| Leader of the Australian Labor Party |
|New political party|| Leader of the National Labor Party |
| Leader of the Nationalist Party |
| Leader of the Australian Party |
| Leader of the United Australia Party |