McGOWEN, James Sinclair Taylor (1855-1922)


McGOWEN, James Sinclair Taylor (1855-1922)
first labour premier of New South Wales
was born of English parents at sea on 16 August 1855. His father was on his way to Melbourne under contract to the Victorian government as a bridge builder, and the family landed at Melbourne three weeks later. Removing afterwards to Sydney, McGowen was apprenticed to a firm of boiler-makers. At 19 years of age he became secretary to the Boilermakers Society and held this position until he was 25. He entered the railways department, in 1888 was elected president of the executive of Trades Hall committee, and worked hard and successfully to raise funds to build the Trades Hall at Sydney. He was elected as member of the legislative assembly for Redfern in 1891, and three years later succeeded Joseph Cook as leader of the parliamentary Labour party. At the election for representatives of New South Wales at the federal convention of 1897 McGowen polled highest of the Labour group with 39,000 votes. In October 1910 he became premier and colonial treasurer in the first Labour government to come into power in New South Wales. In the following year he visited England at the time of the coronation of King George V, in November 1911 gave up the treasurership, and in June 1913 resigned the position of premier in favour of Holman (q.v.) and was given the portfolio of minister of labour and industry. In 1917 he was in favour of conscription and consequently lost the party nomination at the election held in that year. He stood as an independent Labour candidate but was defeated. He had represented Redfern for 26 years. He regretted his defeat but said that if he were faced with the same question again he would take the same course. "A man's country should always be before his party." He was nominated to the legislative council, and remained a member until his death, still fighting for the same principles that he had always held to be right. He was chairman of the housing board until shortly before his death, and for some time acted as censor of moving pictures. He died on 7 April 1922 and was survived by his wife, five sons and two daughters.
McGowen took a keen interest in cricket in his younger days, and helped to establish electorate cricket in Sydney. He was an earnest Sunday-school and church worker, a man of absolute sincerity and honesty, who made personal friends of his most extreme political opponents. He was not a great leader neither had he unusual ability, but the rising Labour party was much feared in those days, and wisdom was shown in selecting as leader a moderate man with a likeable personality and a reputation for rugged honesty.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 April 1922; The Australian Worker, 12 April 1922; H. V. Evatt, Australian Labour Leader; Who's Who, 1922.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • James McGowen — James Sinclair Taylor McGowen (August 16 1855 – April 7 1922) was an Australian politician and Premier of New South Wales from October 21 1910 to June 30 1913. Early life and family McGowen was the son of James McGowen, a boilermaker, and his… …   Wikipedia

  • James McGowen — James Sinclair Taylor McGowen (16 août 1855 – 7 avril 1922) était un homme politique australien qui fut le dix huitième premier ministre de Nouvelle Galles du Sud du 21 octobre 1910 au 30 juin 1913. Sommaire 1 Jeunesse et famille 2 Carrière… …   Wikipédia en Français


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