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"The Right Honourable
Billy Hughes
"CH "KC
""Billy Hughes 1919.jpg
7th "Prime Minister of Australia
Elections: "1917, "1919, "1922
In office
27 October 1915 – 9 February 1923
Monarch "George V
Governor-General "Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson
"Lord Forster
Deputy "George Pearce 1915–1916
"Sir Joseph Cook 1916–1921
"Stanley Bruce 1921–1923
Preceded by "Andrew Fisher
Succeeded by "Stanley Bruce
"Leader of the United Australia Party
In office
29 August 1941 – 23 September 1943
Preceded by "Robert Menzies
Succeeded by Robert Menzies
"Leader of the Australian Party
In office
1930–1931
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by "Joseph Lyons (as Leader of the "United Australia Party)
"Leader of the Nationalist Party
In office
17 February 1917 – 9 February 1923
Deputy "Sir Joseph Cook
Preceded by Himself (as "Leader of the National Labor Party)
Succeeded by "Stanley Bruce
"Leader of the National Labor Party
In office
14 November 1916 – 17 February 1917
Deputy "George Pearce
Preceded by Himself (as "Leader of the Labor Party)
Succeeded by Himself (as "Leader of the Nationalist Party)
"Leader of the Labor Party
In office
27 October 1915 – 14 November 1916
Deputy George Pearce
Preceded by "Andrew Fisher
Succeeded by "Frank Tudor
"Deputy Leader of the Labor Party
In office
30 July 1914 – 27 October 1915
Leader Andrew Fisher
Preceded by "Gregor McGregor
Succeeded by "George Pearce
Member of the "Australian Parliament for "Bradfield
In office
10 December 1949 – 28 October 1952
Preceded by Seat Created
Succeeded by "Harry Turner
Member of the "Australian Parliament for "North Sydney
In office
16 December 1922 – 10 December 1949
Preceded by "Granville Ryrie
Succeeded by "William Jack
Member of the "Australian Parliament for "Bendigo
In office
5 May 1917 – 16 December 1922
Preceded by "Alfred Hampson
Succeeded by "Geoffry Hurry
Member of the "Australian Parliament for "West Sydney
In office
29 March 1901 – 5 May 1917
Preceded by Seat Created
Succeeded by "Con Wallace
Member of the "New South Wales Parliament for "Sydney-Lang
In office
17 July 1894 – 11 June 1901
Preceded by New district
Succeeded by "John Power
Personal details
Born 25 September 1862
"Pimlico, London, England
Died 28 October 1952(1952-10-28) (aged 90)
"Sydney, "New South Wales, Australia
Resting place "Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium
Political party "Labor (1894–1916)
"National Labor (1916–17)
"Nationalist (1917–30)
"Australian (1930–31)
"United Australia (1931–44)
"Liberal (1944–52)
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Cutts
"Mary Campbell
Children 7

William Morris Hughes, "CH, "PC, "KC (25 September 1862 – 28 October 1952) was an Australian politician who was the seventh "Prime Minister of Australia, from 1915 to 1923.

Born and raised in London, Hughes was the son of Welsh parents. At age 22, he emigrated to Australia and entered politics. Over the course of his 51-year federal parliamentary career (and an additional seven years prior to that in a colonial parliament), Hughes changed parties five times: from "Labor (1894–1916) to "National Labor (1916–17) to "Nationalist (1917–30) to "Australian (1930–31) to "United Australia (1931–44) to "Liberal (1944–52). He was expelled from three parties, and represented four different "electorates in two states.

Originally Prime Minister as leader of the Labor Party, his support for "World War I conscription in Australia led him, along with 24 other pro-conscription members, to form National Labor. National Labor merged with the Commonwealth Liberal Party to form the Nationalist Party. His prime ministership came to an end when the Nationalist party was forced to form a coalition with the Country Party, who refused to serve under Hughes. He was the longest-serving prime minister up to that point, and the fifth longest serving over all. He would later lead the United Australia Party to the 1943 election, though "Arthur Fadden served as Coalition leader.

He died in 1952 at age 90, while still serving in Parliament. He is the "longest-serving member of the Australian Parliament, and one of the most colourful and controversial figures in Australian political history.

Contents

Early years[edit]

Birth and family background[edit]

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 Wales[a] and was a fluent "Welsh speaker.[1] 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.[2]

Wales[edit]

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.[3] 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).[4]

Hughes' early years in Wales were the happiest time of his life.[4] 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.[5] Hughes called Welsh the “language of heaven”, but his own knowledge of the language was mostly colloquial. He had no formal schooling in Welsh (like many of his contemporaries), and spelling errors were frequent. Hughes received and replied to correspondence from Welsh-speakers throughout his political career, and as prime minister famously conversed (and traded insults) in Welsh with "David Lloyd George.[6]

London[edit]

At the age of eleven, Hughes was enrolled in St Stephen’s School, "Westminster, one of the many church schools established by the noted 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.[7] At St Stephen’s, Hughes came into contact with the noted 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.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10] In later life, Hughes recalled London as “a place of romance, mystery and suggestion”.[2]

First years in Australia[edit]

Queensland[edit]

At the age of 22, finding his prospects in London dim, Hughes decided to emigrate to Australia.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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 served briefly in both the "Queensland Defence Force and the "Queensland Maritime Defence Force.[14] 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".[15]

New South Wales[edit]

Hughes moved to "Sydney in about mid-1886, working his way there as a deckhand and galley cook aboard "SS Maranoa.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

Early political career[edit]

In Balmain, Hughes became a "Georgist, a street-corner speaker, president[18] of 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.[19] 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.[19][20]

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.[21]

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Hughes in 1908.

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.[19] 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.) [22]

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Group photograph of all Federal Labour Party MPs elected at the inaugural "1901 election, including "Chris Watson, "Andrew Fisher, Hughes, and "Frank Tudor.

In 1911, he married "Mary Campbell.[23] 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.[19]

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."[24]

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]

Labor Party Prime Minister, 1915–16[edit]

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.[25]

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 Hughes[26] that "conscription was necessary if Australia was to sustain its contribution to the war effort.[27]

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.[28] Melbourne's Roman Catholic archbishop, "Daniel Mannix, was his main opponent on the conscription issue. 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.["citation needed]

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.[29] 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["why?][30] considering him to be "a guest, rather than the representative of Australia".["citation needed]

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."[31][32][33] 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.[34] Years later, Hughes said, "I did not leave the Labor Party, The party left me."[19] 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.["citation needed]

Nationalist Party Prime Minister 1916–23[edit]

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Animated cartoon of Billy Hughes by Harry Julius (1915).

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.[19] 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.[35] 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. 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.[19]

Domestic policy[edit]

Electoral reform[edit]

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.[36] 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.

Science[edit]

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".[37]

Paris Peace Conference[edit]

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Australian soldiers carrying the "Little Digger" down "George Street, Sydney, after Hughes returned from the Paris Peace Conference.
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Paris 1919 Australian delegation

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".[38] He asked of "Woodrow Wilson; "How many do you speak for?" when the United States President failed to acknowledge his demands.[39] 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.[40] Hughes frequently clashed with President Wilson, who described him as a "pestiferous varmint".[41]

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 general mindset of "racial categories" during this time. Japan was notably offended by Hughes's position on the issue.[19]

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.[42] 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.[42]

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".[42] Unlike Smuts, Hughes totally opposed the concept of the League of Nations, as in it he saw the flawed idealism of "collective security".[43]["need quotation to verify]

Political eclipse[edit]

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"Parliament House portrait of Hughes by "George Washington Lambert, 1927

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.[19] 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 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.[19]

Political re-emergence[edit]

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Billy Hughes, "John Curtin, and the "Governor-General of Australia "Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester in Canberra, 1945

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.[44]

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.[44]

Defence issues became increasingly dominant in public affairs with the rise of Fascism in Europe and "militant Japan in Asia.[45] From 1938, Prime Minister Joseph Lyons had Hughes head a recruitment drive for the Australian Defence Force.[46] 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 – initially composed of Prime Minister Menzies and five senior ministers including Hughes.

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 and leader of the UAP on 29 August 1941. Although the UAP had been in government for a decade, it was so bereft of leadership that it was forced to elect Hughes as its leader. In the normal course of events, this should have made Hughes Prime Minister for the second time. However, Hughes was only a month shy of 79 and had been in declining health for some time. For this reason, he was deemed too old and frail to be a wartime Prime Minister, and gave up the leadership of the UAP-Country Coalition—and the Prime Ministership—to Country Party leader "Arthur Fadden.["citation needed] He remained as the #2-man 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.[47] Eight weeks later, Japan "attacked Pearl Harbor.

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Billy Hughes in 1945 aged 83, seven years before his death

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 UAP withdrew its members from the "Advisory War Council in protest against the Curtin government. Hughes rejoined the council, and was expelled from the UAP.[19]

In 1944 Menzies formed a new party, the "Liberal Party, and Hughes became a member. In 1949, much of the northern portion of North Sydney was redistributed to the new seat of "Bradfield; Hughes transferred there and won easily. He remained a member of Parliament until his death in October 1952, sparking a "Bradfield by-election. He had been a member of the House of Representatives for 51 years and seven months. 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.

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.[48]

Death and funeral[edit]

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Grave of Billy, Dame Mary and Helen Hughes at "Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium.

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.[49]

Personal life[edit]

First marriage[edit]

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.[50]

Second marriage[edit]

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Helen Hughes (1915–1937), as painted by "Philip de László in 1931

After his first wife's death, Hughes' oldest daughter Ethel kept house for him and helped look after the younger children.[51] 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.[52] 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.[53]

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",[54] 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 program 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.[19][55]

Health[edit]

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.[56] Hughes often worked himself to exhaustion, and would require long periods of convalescence to recharge – sometimes weeks or even months.[57] He was prone to bouts of depression, interspersed with periods of euphoria, and following a near "nervous breakdown in 1924 was diagnosed with ""psychasthenia".[58]

Religious views[edit]

Hughes was a lifelong "Anglican.[59] 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,[60] and knew the "King James Bible "back to front".[61] As an adult, he would often use Biblical turns of phrase in his writing and public speaking.[62] 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.[63]

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".[59] 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."[64] "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".[63]

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.[62] 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.[65] He "inflamed "sectarianism to a tragic degree" with vitriolic personal attacks on Catholic leaders;[66] "James Scullin, Australia's first Catholic prime minister, would later suggest that Hughes' divisiveness "very nearly wrecked Australia".[65] He also banned the use of German in Australian churches, though this affected Lutherans more than Catholics.[67]

Legacy[edit]

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.

""
""
Bust of Billy Hughes by sculptor Wallace Anderson located in the "Prime Ministers Avenue in the "Ballarat Botanical Gardens

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."[68]

Honours[edit]

Freedom of City[edit]

Hughes was honored with fifteen ‘"Freedom of the City’ awards – more than any other Prime Minister of Australia. Among these include:

Honorary Appointments[edit]

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.[70]

In 1972, he was honoured on a postage stamp bearing his portrait issued by "Australia Post.[71]

After marrying his wife Mary in 1911, the couple went on a long drive, because he did not have time for a honeymoon.[19] 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.

Published works[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ either from "Holyhead, "Anglesey, or from the "Vale of Clwyd in "Denbighshire.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fitzhardinge, Laurence (1964). William Morris Hughes: A Political Biography / Vol. 1: That Fiery Particle, 1862–1914. "Angus & Robertson. p. 1. "ISBN "0207137463. 
  2. ^ a b Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 2.
  3. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 3.
  4. ^ a b Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 4.
  5. ^ "Hughes, Aneurin (2005). Billy Hughes, Prime Minister and Controversial Founding Father of the Australian Labor Party. "John Wiley & Sons. p. 34. "ISBN "9781740311366. 
  6. ^ Hughes (2005), p. 34.
  7. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 5.
  8. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 9.
  9. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 10.
  10. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 11.
  11. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), pp. 11–12
  12. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 13
  13. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 14
  14. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 16
  15. ^ a b Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 17
  16. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 19
  17. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 20
  18. ^ Laurent, John. Henry George's legacy in economic thought. Cheltenham, UK Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Pub, 2005.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Fitzhardinge, L.F. "Hughes, William Morris (Billy) (1862–1952)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Mr William Morris Hughes (1862–1952)". Members of Parliament. "Parliament of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 24 March 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  21. ^ Bastian, Peter (2009). Andrew Fisher: An Underestimated Man. Sydney, N.S.W: UNSW Press. p. 110. "ISBN "1742230040.
  22. ^ Australia's Prime Ministers, primeministers.naa.gov.au; accessed 22 March 2016.
  23. ^ "William Morris Hughes – Australia's Prime Ministers". "National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  24. ^ "HONOURING THE STATES". "The Sydney Morning Herald (23,454). New South Wales, Australia. 13 March 1913. p. 10. Retrieved 26 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  25. ^ "Pandora Archive". Pandora.nla.gov.au. 23 August 2006. Archived from the original on 14 September 2004. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  26. ^ (Bean, vol III)
  27. ^ The Official History of Australia in The War of 1914–1918, Vol III, The AIF in France, C.E.W Bean, p. 864
  28. ^ "Plebiscite results, 28 October 1916". Parliamentary Handbook. "Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  29. ^ The Great War, Les Carlyon
  30. ^ Billy Hughes in Paris-The Birth of Australian Diplomacy, W.J. Hudson, p. 2
  31. ^ The Australian Century, Robert Manne
  32. ^ The Age, 16 September 1916
  33. ^ Caucus minutes of 14 November 1916 in A Documentary History of the Australian Labor Movement 1850–1975, Brian McKinley, (1979); "ISBN "0-909081-29-8
  34. ^ The Australian Century, Robert Manne, pg. 75
  35. ^ "Ronald Munro Ferguson". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Retrieved 5 October 2010. 
  36. ^ "A brief history of the society and its purpose". Proportional Representation Society of Australia. Retrieved 22 April 2007. 
  37. ^ Fitzhardinge (1979), p. 64–67.
  38. ^ David Lowe, "Australia in the World", in Joan Beaumont (ed.), Australia's War, 1914–18, Allen & Unwin, 1995, p. 132
  39. ^ Compare: "Tink, Andrew (2014). "9: A land fit for heroes ?". Australia 1901 - 2001: A narrative history. Sydney: NewSouth Publishing. "ISBN "9781742241876. Retrieved 2017-02-19. 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?' 
  40. ^ Lowe, pp. 136–137
  41. ^ Xu, Guoqi (2017). "7: The Japanese Dream of Racial Equality". Asia and the Great War: A Shared History. The Greater War. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 201. "ISBN "9780191632723. Retrieved 2017-02-19. The usually reserved Wilson even described Hughes as 'a pestiferous varmint.' 
  42. ^ a b c Lowe, "Australia in the World", p.129.
  43. ^ Lowe,p. 136
  44. ^ a b Brian Carroll; From Barton to Fraser; Cassell Australia; 1978
  45. ^ "In office – Joseph Lyons – Australia's PMs – Australia's Prime Ministers". Primeministers.naa.gov.au. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  46. ^ "Anne Henderson; Joseph Lyons: The People's Prime Minister; NewSouth; 2011.
  47. ^ "In office – Arthur Fadden". Primeministers.naa.gov.au. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  48. ^ O'Brien, Amanda (6 May 2009). "Tuckey refuses to stand aside for younger candidate". The Australian. Retrieved 24 June 2010. Billy Hughes who, at 90, was the country's oldest serving MP before he died in 1952 
  49. ^ Sydney Morning Herald. Rt. Hon. WILLIAM MORRIS HUGHES, C.H., Q.C., M.H.R. Funeral Notice. 29 October 1952.
  50. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 177.
  51. ^ Fitzhardinge (1964), p. 178.
  52. ^ Fitzhardinge (1979), p. 255.
  53. ^ Hughes (2005), p. 155.
  54. ^ Fitzhardinge (1979), p. 278.
  55. ^ "Rewind: ABC TV". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 16 April 2010. 
  56. ^ Fitzhardinge (1979), p. xv.
  57. ^ Fitzhardinge (1979), pp. 265, 563.
  58. ^ Fitzhardinge (1979), p. 530.
  59. ^ a b Williams, Roy (2013). In God They Trust?: The Religious Beliefs of Australia's Prime Ministers, 1901–2013. "Bible Society Australia. p. 72. "ISBN "9780647518557. 
  60. ^ Williams (2013), pp. 72–73.
  61. ^ Williams (2013), p. 77.
  62. ^ a b Williams (2013), pp. 74–75.
  63. ^ a b Williams (2013), pp. 71.
  64. ^ Williams (2013), pp. 77–78.
  65. ^ a b Williams (2013), p. 76.
  66. ^ Williams (2013), p. 70.
  67. ^ Williams (2013), p. 78.
  68. ^ Fricke, p. 66 Profiles of Power, The Prime Ministers of Australia
  69. ^ It's an Honour
  70. ^ http://inthecove.com.au/2016/02/20/hughes-park-lane-cove/%7C Hughes Park Lane Cove - Retrieved 2017-03-10
  71. ^ "Australian postage stamp". Australian Stamp and Coin Company. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

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