James Catts

Last updated

James Catts
James Catts.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Cook
In office
12 December 1906 16 December 1922
Preceded byNew seat
Succeeded by Edward Riley
Personal details
Born(1877-08-12)12 August 1877
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales
Died26 November 1951(1951-11-26) (aged 74)
Huntleys Point, New South Wales
Nationality Australian
Political party Labor (190622)
MLP (1922)
Spouse(s)1) Eva Alice Weber (divorced 1920)
2) Dorothy Marguerite Purcell

James Howard Catts (12 August 1877 26 November 1951) was an Australian politician, unionist and businessman. [1]

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 26 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.


Early life

Catts was born at Wagga Wagga, New South Wales to joiner and grocer James Catts and Amy, née Hedger. He lived with his paternal grandfather at Stanmore as a child, being educated until the age of 13 at Macdonaldtown Public School.

Stanmore is a suburb in the Inner West of Sydney, in New South Wales, Australia 6 kilometres south west of the Sydney central business district. It is part of the local government area of the Inner West Council. Its known for its long strip of shops running along Parramatta Road.

In 1894 the Catts family began a bakery in Forbes, which young James helped to run. At the age of 17, he became the secretary of the Farmers and Settlers' and the Progress associations at Forbes, and was general secretary of the United Progress Association of New South wales from 1900-03. He was also organising secretary of the New South Wales Temperance Alliance, and held other prominent positions in railway unions. From 1913-14 he became general secretary of the Australian Union Federation and president of the Australasian Labour Federation, and founded the United Secretaries' Association in 1915.

Forbes, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Forbes is a town in the Central West region of New South Wales, Australia, located on the Newell Highway between Parkes and West Wyalong. At the 2016 census, Forbes had a population of 8,432. Forbes is probably named after Sir Francis Forbes, first Chief Justice of NSW.

Temperance movement 19th- and 20th-century global social movement

The temperance movement is a social movement against the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Participants in the movement typically criticize alcohol intoxication or promote complete abstinence from alcohol (teetotalism), and its leaders emphasize alcohol's negative effects on people's health, personalities and family lives. Typically the movement promotes alcohol education and it also demands the passage of new laws against the sale of alcohol, either regulations on the availability of alcohol, or the complete prohibition of it. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the temperance movement became prominent in many countries, particularly in English-speaking and Scandinavian ones, and it eventually led to Prohibition in the United States which lasted from 1920 to 1933.


Catts's first attempt to enter politics was unsuccessful, running in the 1904 state election as the Labor candidate for Granville. He became the youngest member of the Australian House of Representatives in 1906 when he was elected to the seat of Cook at the age of 28, and became associated with King O'Malley and Billy Hughes. He became known as a protectionist and nationalist in Parliament. In Sydney on 12 August 1907, he married Eva Alice Weber; they were divorced in 1920.

1904 New South Wales state election

The 1904 New South Wales state election was held on 6 August 1904 for all of the 90 seats in the 20th New South Wales Legislative Assembly and it was conducted in single-member constituencies with a first past the post voting system. For the first time, women were entitled to vote. Both adult males and females were entitled to vote, but not Indigenous people. The 19th parliament of New South Wales was dissolved on 16 July 1904 by the Governor, Sir Harry Rawson, on the advice of the Premier, Thomas Waddell.

Australian Labor Party Political party in Australia

The Australian Labor Party is a major centre-left political party in Australia. The party has been in opposition at the federal level since the 2013 election. The party is a federal party with branches in each state and territory. Labor is in government in the states of Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and in both the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. The party competes against the Liberal/National Coalition for political office at the federal and state levels. It is the oldest political party in Australia.

Electoral district of Granville state electoral district of New South Wales, Australia

Granville is an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of New South Wales in Sydney's West. It is currently represented by Julia Finn of the Labor Party.

On 18 August 1910, Catts was suspended from the House of Representatives for one day, the first member to be suspended. This was because he referred to a statement by Elliot Johnson as "a dirty, skunky thing to say", and also referred to members opposite as "you dirty skunks". [2] Catts was director of the Federal and State Labor campaigns in New South Wales from 1914 to 1922. He was also the director of voluntary recruiting in New South Wales 1915-16, producing the weekly magazine Call to Arms. [3] He was also an opponent of communism and conscription, and was prosecuted for asserting that Japan hoped to annexe Australia. He married for the second time on 8 September 1920, again at Sydney, Dorothy Marguerite Purcell.

Elliot Johnson (politician) Australian politician

Sir William Elliot Johnson KCMG was an Australian politician and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Communism socialist political movement and ideology

In political and social sciences, communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.

Conscription Compulsory enlistment into national or military service

Conscription, sometimes called the draft, is the compulsory enlistment of people in a national service, most often a military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names. The modern system of near-universal national conscription for young men dates to the French Revolution in the 1790s, where it became the basis of a very large and powerful military. Most European nations later copied the system in peacetime, so that men at a certain age would serve 1–8 years on active duty and then transfer to the reserve force.

Catts was expelled from the Labor Party in 1922 having been accused of sectarianism, and unsuccessfully ran at the elections for the Majority Labor Party.

The Majority Labor Party, sometimes called the Majority Australian Labor Party, was an Australian political party formed by federal Australian Labor Party MP James Catts in 1922. It did not win any seats in parliament.

Later life

Catts continued to be active in the Labor Party, running unsuccessfully as the Federal Labor candidate for Martin in 1931. He was opposed to the Lang Labor Party, but unsuccessfully ran in East Sydney in 1940 as a United Australia Party candidate. In 1944, he failed to be elected to Sydney Municipal Council, and subsequently retired.

In his retirement, Catts became secretary and treasurer of the New South Wales branch of the British Astronomical Association, devoting more time to his hobby of astronomy. He died on 26 November 1951 at Huntleys Point, and was survived by his second wife, their son and three daughters.

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  1. "Catts, J. H. (James Howard) (1878-1951) - People and organisations". Trove.
  2. corporateName=Commonwealth Parliament; address=Parliament House, Canberra. "Selected political records of the Commonwealth Parliament". www.aph.gov.au.
  3. Stanley, Peter (29 August 2017). "The Crying Years: Australia's Great War". National Library of Australia via Google Books.
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
new seat
Member for Cook
Succeeded by
Edward Riley