Edmond Hogan

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Edmond John Hogan
30Nedhogan.jpg
30th Premier of Victoria
In office
20 May 1927 – 22 November 1928
Preceded by John Allan
Succeeded by William Murray McPherson
In office
12 December 1929 – 19 May 1932
Preceded by William Murray McPherson
Succeeded by Stanley Argyle
Personal details
Born 12 December 1883
Wallace, Victoria, Australia
Died 23 August 1964(1964-08-23) (aged 80)
Melbourne, Australia
Nationality Australian
Spouse(s) Molly Magdelene, née Conroy
Religion Catholic

Edmond John "Ned" Hogan (12 December 1883 – 23 August 1964), Australian politician, 30th Premier of Victoria, was born in Wallace, Victoria, where his Irish-born parents were small farmers. After attending a Roman Catholic primary school he became a farm worker and then a timber worker, and spent some time on the goldfields of Western Australia.

Hogan became active in trade union and Labor Party politics in Kalgoorlie. In 1912 he contracted typhoid and returned to Victoria to recuperate, and took up farming at Ballan.

Labor politics[edit]

In 1913 Hogan was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for Warrenheip, a seat near Ballarat, which was renamed Warrenheip and Grenville in 1927. He held this seat for 30 years: although it was not a natural Labor seat, it was heavily Irish-Catholic, which helped Hogan, an active Catholic, retain it. In 1914 he was elected to the Labor Party's state executive and in 1922 he became State President. In 1924 he was Minister for Agriculture and Railways in the short-lived minority government of George Prendergast.

Hogan was a fine speaker and soon became a leading figure in a parliamentary party which was thin on talent. Victoria was Labor's weakest state and in the 1920s there seemed little chance it would ever win a state election. When Prendergast stepped down in 1926, Hogan was the obvious choice to succeed him. His main drawback was his close association with the Melbourne horse-racing, boxing and gambling identity John Wren, who was widely suspected of corruption. The Wren connection alienated many middle-class voters from Labor through the 1920s and 1930s.

Nevertheless, at the 1927 state election Hogan was able to capitalise on resentment against rural over-representation in the state Parliament and consequent domination by the Country Party. Labor won 28 seats to the Nationalists 15 and the Country Party's ten.

Hogan was able to form a government with the support of four "Country Progressives" and two Liberals. But this alliance broke down in 1928 in the face a prolonged and violent industrial dispute on the Melbourne waterfront, and in November he was defeated in a confidence vote and resigned, being succeeded by the Nationalist William McPherson.

In 1929 the Country Party withdrew its support from McPherson's government and there was another election, fought just as the Great Depression was breaking over Australia. Hogan led Labor to its best result yet, winning 30 seats to the Nationalists' 17 and the Country Party's 11. A collection of Progressives, Liberals and independents held the balance, and they agreed to support a second Hogan government. Tom Tunnecliffe was Chief Secretary, John Cain was Minister for Railways and William Slater was Attorney-General.

The Depression had a devastating effect on Victoria's economy and society, since the state was heavily dependent on agricultural exports, mainly wheat and wool, for its income, and these industries collapsed almost completely as demand in Britain dried up. By 1931 most Victorian farmers were bankrupt and about 25 percent of the workforce was unemployed. Hogan's government, in common with all other governments, had no solution to this disaster. Even if the Labor government was minded to attempt radical solutions, it was dependent on Country Progressive support in the Assembly, and had only six members in the Legislative Council.

Hogan adopted the orthodox economic view that governments must balance their budgets, and since the Council would not permit any increases in taxation, the only way to do this in the face of falling government revenue was to cut expenditure. This increased the burdens on the poor and unemployed, while providing no stimulus to the economy. There was little possibility of effective unemployment relief, although there were some government works to soak up unemployment, such as the Shrine of Remembrance and the Great Ocean Road.

In August 1930 Hogan attended a conference with the other Premiers and the Labor Prime Minister, James Scullin, to consider what to do. On the advice of Sir Otto Niemeyer, a senior official of the Bank of England (which controlled most of Victoria's access to credit in the City of London), they agreed to radical cuts to government spending and borrowing. This provoked a storm of protest in the Labor Party and trade unions, who regarded Scullin and Hogan as traitors.

A second conference in June 1931 produced the Premiers' Plan, which entailed further cuts in government spending, accompanied by increases in taxation on the wealthy. In the circumstances both of these measures further depressed the economy, while not satisying either side of politics. The New South Wales Labor Party, led by Jack Lang, rebelled and brought down the Scullin government in November, but Hogan survived since the Country Party continued to support him from the cross benches. In any case the Nationalists (now renamed the United Australia Party (UAP) preferred to see Hogan implement the Premiers' Plan.

In February 1932 Hogan travelled to London to talk to the banks about Victoria's desperate economic plight. While he was away Tom Tunnecliffe was acting Premier, and he was much more willing than Hogan to reject the Premiers' Plan. As a result the Country Party withdrew its support, and in April the government was defeated in a confidence vote.

Tunnecliffe replaced Hogan as Labor leader and led the Labor campaign in the May elections, now rejecting the Premiers's Plan completely. The Labor Party Executive expelled everyone who had supported the Premier's Plan, including Hogan, although it did not run a candidate against him in Warrenheip and Grenville. At the elections the UAP won 31 seats to Labor's 16 and the reunited Country Party's 14. Hogan and one of his ex-ministers were elected as "Premiers' Plan Labor" candidates. The UAP's Stanley Argyle became Premier.

After sitting as an independent for four years, Hogan joined the Country Party in 1935, and formed a close relationship with the Country Party leader Albert Dunstan. The result was a renewed alliance between the Country Party and Labor, brokered by Hogan, John Wren and the Victorian Labor State President, Arthur Calwell. In April 1935 Dunstan walked out of Argyle's government, and became Premier with Labor support. Hogan became Minister for Agriculture and Mines, and held these posts through Dunstan's record term as Premier until September 1943.

At the 1943 elections, Labor, now led by John Cain, benefitting from the popularity of John Curtin's wartime federal government, won 22 seats, including Warrenheip and Grenville, where the 60-year-old Hogan was defeated after 30 years as its member.

He retired to St Kilda in Melbourne, where he lived until his death in 1964, aged 81. Hogan lies interred in a modest lawn grave at the Cheltenham Memorial Park (Wangara Road).

References[edit]

  • Australian Dictionary of Biography (Online Edition)
  • Geoff Browne, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1900–84, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1985
  • Don Garden, Victoria: A History, Thomas Nelson, Melbourne, 1984
  • Kathleen Thompson and Geoffrey Serle, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1856–1900, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1972
  • Kate White, John Cain and Victorian Labour 1917–1957, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1982
  • Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel. A History of the Parliament of Victoria, 1856–1990, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992

External links[edit]

Victorian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
George Holden
Member for Warrenheip
1913–1927
District abolished
District created Member for Warrenheip and Grenville
1927–1943
Succeeded by
Raymond Hyatt
Political offices
Preceded by
John Allan
Premier of Victoria
1927–1928
Succeeded by
William McPherson
Preceded by
William McPherson
Premier of Victoria
1929–1932
Succeeded by
Stanley Argyle
Party political offices
Preceded by
George Prendergast
Leader of the Labor Party in Victoria
1926–1932
Succeeded by
Tom Tunnecliffe