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William Holman

William Holman

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William Arthur Holman (4 August 1871 – 6 June 1934) was an Australian Labor Party
Australian Labor Party
The Australian Labor Party is an Australian political party. It has been the governing party of the Commonwealth of Australia since the 2007 federal election. Julia Gillard is the party's federal parliamentary leader and Prime Minister of Australia...

 Premier of New South Wales, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, who split with the party on the conscription issue in 1916 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and immediately became Premier of a conservative Nationalist Party
Nationalist Party of Australia
The Nationalist Party of Australia was an Australian political party. It was formed on 17 February 1917 from a merger between the conservative Commonwealth Liberal Party and the National Labor Party, the name given to the pro-conscription defectors from the Australian Labor Party led by Prime...

 Government.

Early life


Holman was born in St Pancras
St Pancras, London
St Pancras is an area of London. For many centuries the name has been used for various officially-designated areas, but now is used informally and rarely having been largely superseded by several other names for overlapping districts.-Ancient parish:...

, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in 1871, the son of William Holman, an actor, his mother was also on the stage under the name of May Burney. He was educated at an Anglican school and was apprenticed as a cabinetmaker. He attended night classes and literary societies. There were bad times in the theatrical profession during the 1880s, and the Holmans were glad to obtain an engagement with Brough and Boucicault
Dion Boucicault Jr.
Dion Boucicault Jr. was an actor and stage director. Son of the well-known playwright, Dion Boucicault, he followed his father into the theatrical profession and made a career as a character actor and a director...

 in Australia. The family migrated to Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 in October 1888. The burning of the Bijou theatre in Melbourne resulted in their move to Sydney
Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

.

Trade union activity


As a cabinet maker in Sydney he was interested in the ideas of John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, economist and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of...

, William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

, Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer was an English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era....

 and Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

, and became very active in the Australian labour movement
Australian labour movement
The Australian labour movement has its origins in the early 19th century and includes both trade unions and political activity. At its broadest, the movement can be defined as encompassing the industrial wing, the unions in Australia, and the political wing, the Australian Labor Party and minor...

. He joined the Single Tax League
Single Tax League
The Single Tax League was an Australian political party that flourished throughout the 1920s and 30s.Based upon the ideas of Henry George, who argued that all taxes should be abolished, save for a single tax on unimproved land values, the Single Tax League was founded shortly after World War I, and...

, the Australian Socialist League and the newly-formed Labor Electoral League, a forerunner to the Australian Labor Party (ALP). In the Australian Socialist League he mixed with anarchists and socialists and met future Prime Minister Billy Hughes
Billy Hughes
William Morris "Billy" Hughes, CH, KC, MHR , Australian politician, was the seventh Prime Minister of Australia from 1915 to 1923....

, Creo Stanley, Ernie Lane, Henry Lawson
Henry Lawson
Henry Lawson was an Australian writer and poet. Along with his contemporary Banjo Paterson, Lawson is among the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period and is often called Australia's "greatest writer"...

 and J.D.Fitzgerald. Holman and Hughes were associated with Arthur Desmond
Arthur Desmond
Arthur Desmond , a.k.a. Arthur Uing, Ragnar Redbeard, Richard Thurland, Desmond Dilg and Gavin Gowrie, was a New Zealand politician, Australian anarchist, poet and author...

 on the scandal sheet
Scandal Sheet
Scandal Sheet is a black-and-white film noir directed by Phil Karlson. The film is based on the novel The Dark Page by Samuel Fuller, who himself was a newspaper reporter before his career in film...

 paper, The New Order.

In 1893 he became Secretary of the Railways and Tramways Employees’ Union, representing the union on the Sydney Trades and Labor Council
Labor Council of New South Wales
The Labor Council of New South Wales is a representative body of Trade union organisations in the State of New South Wales, Australia. As of 2005 there are 67 unions and 8 Rural and Regional Trades & Labor Councils affiliated to the Labor Council, representing 800,000 workers in NSW...

. With the support of the Labor Electoral League he unsuccessfully stood for election to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
New South Wales Legislative Assembly
The Legislative Assembly, or lower house, is one of the two chambers of the Parliament of New South Wales, an Australian state. The other chamber is the Legislative Council. Both the Assembly and Council sit at Parliament House in the state capital, Sydney...

 in 1894 and 1895. During this period he was the proprietor of the Daily Post newspaper, sympathetic to the labour movement, which wound up in liquidation, with Holman and four other directors convicted of fraud. He spent nearly two months in jail before the conviction was quashed. He went on to become a journalist for the Grenfell Vedette, and later its proprietor. From 1896 to 1898 he worked as an organiser for the Australian Workers Union.

Legal profession


In 1900 Holman began to study law part time and in 1903 he passed the University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

's intermediate examination, and was admitted to the bar as a barrister of the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 31 July 1903. In 1909 he co-authored with P.A. Jacobs Australian Mercantile Law. In the 1920s, when he resumed his legal practice, he was made a Kings Counsel. After a lectureship in Brisbane
Brisbane
Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred around Brisbane, encompasses a population of...

 in 1928, The Australian constitution : its interpretation and amendment was published.

Politician and Premier


In the late 1890s Holman was on the central executive of the embryonic Labor Party, before being elected as the Member for Grenfell
Electoral district of Grenfell
Grenfell was an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of New South Wales, created in 1880, partly replacing Lachlan, and named after and including Grenfell. It was abolished in 1904, with the downsizing of the Legislative Assembly after Federation.-Members for...

 in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
New South Wales Legislative Assembly
The Legislative Assembly, or lower house, is one of the two chambers of the Parliament of New South Wales, an Australian state. The other chamber is the Legislative Council. Both the Assembly and Council sit at Parliament House in the state capital, Sydney...

 in 1898. He became deputy-leader of the Labor party in 1905, and at the 1907 election he was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for the seat of Cootamundra
Electoral district of Cootamundra
Cootamundra was an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of New South Wales from 1904 to 1941, in the Cootamundra area. It elected one member between 1904 and 1920 and between 1927 and 1941. In 1920, it absorbed Burrangong and Yass and elected three members under...

. In 1910 the Labor Party first won Government in New South Wales with a slim majority of 46 seats in a parliament of 90 seats, with James McGowen
James McGowen
James Sinclair Taylor McGowen was an Australian politician and the first Labor Premier of New South Wales from 21 October 1910 to 30 June 1913.-Early life and family:...

 as Premier, and Holman made Attorney General.

On 30 June 1913 McGowen resigned and Holman took over as Premier of New South Wales. During his government many state-owned enterprises were established to compete with private businesses, as a compromise to the Labor policy on Nationalisation. The Labor Party had a policy commitment to abolishing the New South Wales Legislative Council
New South Wales Legislative Council
The New South Wales Legislative Council, or upper house, is one of the two chambers of the parliament of New South Wales in Australia. The other is the Legislative Assembly. Both sit at Parliament House in the state capital, Sydney. The Assembly is referred to as the lower house and the Council as...

, with Holman moving a motion in 1893 that the upper house be abolished. Only 47 per cent of Government bills were passed by the Upper House for the period between 1910 and 1916. But Holman contradicted his position in 1912 by making nine appointments to the Upper House, some of which were not members of the Labor Party, without consultation with the party machine or the Trades and Labor Council. Other issues placing him at odds with the labour movement include the failure to control prices and profiteering during the war, and attitudes to pay and conditions of public servants.

In 1916 the conscription issue divided the Labor Party and wider Australian Community. While much of the Australian labour movement and general community were opposed to conscription, Australian Labor Prime Minister Billy Hughes
Billy Hughes
William Morris "Billy" Hughes, CH, KC, MHR , Australian politician, was the seventh Prime Minister of Australia from 1915 to 1923....

 and Premier Holman strongly supported conscription, and both crossed the floor to join the conservative parties. Holman formed a coalition on 15 November 1916 with the leader of the opposition, Charles Wade
Charles Wade
Sir Charles Gregory Wade KCMG was Premier of New South Wales 2 October 1907 – 21 October 1910. According to Percival Serle, "Wade was a public-spirited man of high character...

, with himself as Premier. At the general election in March 1917 he was elected as a Nationalist Party of Australia
Nationalist Party of Australia
The Nationalist Party of Australia was an Australian political party. It was formed on 17 February 1917 from a merger between the conservative Commonwealth Liberal Party and the National Labor Party, the name given to the pro-conscription defectors from the Australian Labor Party led by Prime...

 candidate, and continued in the Premier's role.

During his leadership of the Nationalist Government he vigorously defended the Government-owned enterprises from his fellow conservatives in power. Most unusually for a serving Premier, he lost his seat in the state legislature on 12 April 1920, with the election of a Labor Government led by the short-lived John Storey
John Storey (politician)
John Storey was an Australian politician who was Premier of New South Wales from 12 April 1920 until his sudden death in Sydney...

; but he continued outside Parliament as a senior figure in conservative politics.

Holman's later parliamentary career was less notable than might have been expected from his 1910-20 achievements. Elected as a United Australia Party
United Australia Party
The United Australia Party was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945. It was the political successor to the Nationalist Party of Australia and predecessor to the Liberal Party of Australia...

 MP, for the Division of Martin
Division of Martin
The Division of Martin was an Australian Electoral Division in the state of New South Wales. It was located in the inner western suburbs of Sydney, and initially included the suburbs of Concord and Mortlake, although by the time it was abolished in 1955, it had moved to cover Abbotsford, Balmain...

, to the Australian House of Representatives
Australian House of Representatives
The House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the Parliament of Australia; it is the lower house; the upper house is the Senate. Members of Parliament serve for terms of approximately three years....

 in December 1931, he had an undistinguished time in Federal Parliament as a backbencher in the Joseph Lyons
Joseph Lyons
Joseph Aloysius Lyons, CH was an Australian politician. He was Labor Premier of Tasmania from 1923 to 1928 and a Minister in the James Scullin government from 1929 until his resignation from the Labor Party in March 1931...

 government. His health having deteriorated over a considerable period, he died on 6 June 1934 in the Sydney suburb of Gordon
Gordon, New South Wales
Gordon is a suburb on the Upper North Shore of Sydney in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Gordon is located north-west of the Sydney Central Business District and is the administrative centre for the local government area of Ku-ring-gai Council...

, apparently from shock and loss of blood after a difficult tooth extraction on the previous day.

Holman is a controversial figure, as, along with Billy Hughes
Billy Hughes
William Morris "Billy" Hughes, CH, KC, MHR , Australian politician, was the seventh Prime Minister of Australia from 1915 to 1923....

, he is considered one of the "rats" of the Australian labour movement
Australian labour movement
The Australian labour movement has its origins in the early 19th century and includes both trade unions and political activity. At its broadest, the movement can be defined as encompassing the industrial wing, the unions in Australia, and the political wing, the Australian Labor Party and minor...

 for crossing to the conservative side of Australian politics.

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