McDONALD, Charles (1861-1925)


McDONALD, Charles (1861-1925)
speaker, Commonwealth house of representatives
was the son of Charles Thomas Young McDonald, and was born at Melbourne in 1861. He was educated at state schools, and at a comparatively early age was taken by his parents to Charters Towers, Queensland. He became a watch-maker and as a young man showed an interest in social questions. He was president of the Australian labour federation 1890-2, and in 1893 was elected for Flinders in the Queensland legislative assembly. He began to be interested in parliamentary practice and was soon an expert upon the standing orders. As he was a born fighter and knew the exact limits of his rights, he was frequently in conflict with the speaker. His experiences were useful to him, however, in later years when he became a presiding officer himself.
McDonald left Queensland politics in 1901 to enter the federal house of representatives and from 1906 to 1910 was chairman of committees. In July 1910 he was elected speaker and held the position until June 1913, when the second Fisher (q.v.) government resigned. He was again speaker from September 1914 to early in 1917. Originally a very strong man, tireless after riding around his electorate on a bicycle during election campaigns, he fell into ill-health in his later days, and died at Melbourne on 13 November 1925, the day before a federal election at which he was again a candidate. In 1892 he married Miss Tregear, who survived him with a daughter.
McDonald was in parliament for a continuous period of 33 years. He was not a good public speaker though at times a vigorous and voluminous one. Known in his younger days as "Fighting Mac" he advocated the views of his party with great persistency, and showed that he had given much attention to financial questions. As speaker of the house of representatives he declined to wear the robes of office, but he carried out the duties with dignity, ability and impartiality. In private life his hobby was painting in both oils and water-colours.
The Brisbane Courier, 14 November 1925; The Age Melbourne, 14 November 1925; The Australian Worker, 18 November 1925; C. A. Bernays, Queensland Politics During Sixty Years; H. G. Turner, The First Decade of the Australian Commonwealth.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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