Frank Cooper (Australian politician)

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The Hon
Frank Cooper
StateLibQld 1 120576 Frank Arthur Cooper.jpg
25th Premier of Queensland
In office
16 September 1942 – 7 March 1946
Preceded by William Forgan Smith
Succeeded by Ned Hanlon
Constituency Bremer
29th Treasurer of Queensland
In office
12 April 1938 – 27 April 1944
Preceded by William Forgan Smith
Succeeded by Ned Hanlon
Constituency Bremer
Personal details
Born Frank Arthur Cooper
(1872-07-16)16 July 1872
Blayney, New South Wales
Died 30 November 1949(1949-11-30) (aged 77)
Kedron, Queensland, Australia
Resting place Cremated
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Agnes Maisie Hardy
Occupation Journalist, Trade union official
Religion Church of England

Frank Arthur Cooper (16 July 1872 – 30 November 1949) was Premier of Queensland from 1942 to 1946 for the Australian Labor Party.[1]

He was born on 16 July 1872 at Blayney, New South Wales, the son of an English miller and his Irish wife who had immigrated to Australia. Frank was educated in Sydney and worked as a clerk in various capacities around Sydney, including the Sydney diocese of the Anglican church and the Westinghouse brake company. In the latter capacity he moved to postings around the country before settling in Ipswich, Queensland where the main railway workshops for the State of Queensland were located.[2] Cooper joined the Brisbane Clerical Union and became involved in Labor politics in Ipswich, including as president and secretary of the Ipswich Workers' Political Union, and was involved in the eight hour day movement in provincial Queensland. His political activities, particularly his support for workers strikes in the state in 1912, caused him to run afoul of employer and he was dismissed, and Cooper subsequently became a journalist and activist within the Labor movement. He became editor of the Queensland Leader, a workers publication in Ipswich, in 1915 and remained so until 1925.[3]

In 1915 he was tapped to run for the seat of Bremer in the Queensland Parliament, a seat based in Ipswich which he would hold for the next three decades. In 1924 he became an alderman and eventually deputy-mayor for Ipswich City Council. In 1925 he married Agnes Hardy. Cooper had joined the first majority ALP government in Queensland under T.J. Ryan shortly after his election and became a prominent and well regarded member of the administration. Labor went back to opposition in 1929 but Cooper soon distinguished himself as an effective debater and parliamentarian. His reputation was such that he became Assistant Treasurer and Secretary for Public Instruction upon the election of William Forgan Smith as premier of a new ALP government in 1932.[2] By 1938 Cooper was sitting on the Queensland ALP's central executive and was treasurer. He excelled in the position: that year he delivered the state's first budget surplus since 1927. He became deputy leader of the parliamentary party in September 1940, and played a key role in preparing Queensland's resources and mobilization for the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific.[1]

In 1942, the Federal ALP government under John Curtin introduced uniform taxation which ended the system of dual income taxes levied by both the states and the Commonwealth, instead making the Commonwealth the sole collector of income taxes with grants to be given back to the states to compensate for any losses. Many states, including Queensland, challenged the law in the High Court but were ultimately unsuccessful. Although William Forgan Smith accepted the decision he resigned soon after, and Cooper was duly elected to replace him as Premier of Queensland. Although now in his 70s, Cooper was an ardent supporter of the Commonwealth's prosecution of the war effort and worked with Curtin closely, sometimes invoking the ire of his own party in Queensland.[1] Cooper continued in the premier role throughout the war, however at the war's end he stood down in favour of his Treasurer Ned Hanlon. In retirement he was active in the Anglican synod and on the senate of the University of Queensland, and died at his home in 1949.

Cooper was accorded a State funeral which took place from St John's Cathedral to the Mount Thompson crematorium.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Cooper, Frank Arthur (1872 - 1949)Australian Dictionary of Biography
  2. ^ a b Cross, Manfred (1993). "Cooper, Frank Arthur (1872–1949)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 
  3. ^ "Cooper, Hon. Frank Arthur". Member Biographical Database. Queensland Parliament. 2013. 
  4. ^ "Family Notices.". The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954) (Brisbane, Qld.: National Library of Australia). 1 December 1949. p. 16. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
William Forgan Smith
Premier of Queensland
Succeeded by
Ned Hanlon
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Forgan Smith
Leader of the Labor Party in Queensland
Succeeded by
Ned Hanlon
Parliament of Queensland
Preceded by
James Clarke Cribb
Member of Parliament for Bremer
Succeeded by
Jim Donald