Clarrie Martin

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Clarrie Martin
37th Attorney-General of New South Wales
In office
16 May 1941 – 23 February 1953
Preceded by Edward Manning
Succeeded by Bill Sheahan
Personal details
Born (1900-02-10)10 February 1900
near Ballarat, Victoria
Died 5 September 1953(1953-09-05) (aged 53)
Centennial Park, New South Wales
Political party Australian Labor Party (NSW), Australian Labor Party

Major Clarence Edward Martin (2 February 1900 – 5 September 1953) was an Australian politician and a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1930 until 1932 and from 1939 until his death in 1953. He was variously a member of the Australian Labor Party (NSW), the Industrial Labor Party and the Australian Labor Party (ALP). He was the Attorney-General of New South Wales from 1941 until 1953 and also held the position of Minister for Transport for six months prior to his death.

Early life[edit]

Martin was born in Ballarat, Victoria and was the son of a miner. He was educated at state schools in Broken Hill, New South Wales and was orphaned at an early age. He initially worked in the Broken Hill mines but continued his education privately. At age 17 he moved to Sydney, underwent teacher training and taught in state schools in rural NSW while continuing part-time studies in economics at the University of Sydney. During the period he was out of parliament he studied law at the university. Martin graduated and was called to the bar in 1936, in 1952 he was appointed a Queen's Counsel . He was the founder of the NSW branch of the Fabian Society and a trustee of the New South Wales State Library. He served in the Second Australian Imperial Force in New Guinea and the Middle East for 4 years and reached the rank of Major.

State Parliament[edit]

Martin entered the New South Wales Parliament at the 1930 state election as the labor member for Young. He defeated the sitting Country Party member Albert Reid and his victory helped Labor form a government under Premier Jack Lang. However, he was defeated in the 1932 landslide that ended Lang's premiership. During his time as an MLA for Young, Martin was active in forming and working with the Socialisation Units of the ALP. These Units promoted a transition to "socialism in our time" in the midst of the Depression crisis. This work led him into conflict with Premier Lang and his followers.[1] By the mid-1930s, while still out of Parliament, he was a recognised leader of the left-wing forces inside the ALP. He was a supporter of rebel union-backed Labor Party, the Industrial Labor Party, and stood as their candidate at the by-election caused by the death of the United Australia Party member for Waverley, John Waddell. His victory and that of Clive Evatt in a by-election in Hurstville were seen as evidence of Lang's declining power. Within a few months of his entry into parliament, the Industrial Labor Party was re-admitted into the ALP caucus and Lang was replaced as leader by William McKell. The Federal Executive of the Labor Party intervened in the NSW Branch to convene a "Unity" conference, which effectively removed Lang and his followers from control. Martin retained the seat of Waverley at 5 subsequent election and died as the sitting member in 1953


With the election of the Labor government of William McKell at the 1941 election, Martin was appointed as the Attorney-General. He retained this position until 1953 when illness caused him to take the less hectic post of Minister for Transport.


Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Albert Reid
Member for Young
1930 – 1932
Succeeded by
Albert Reid
Preceded by
John Waddell
Member for Waverley
1939 – 1953
Succeeded by
William Ferguson
Political offices
Preceded by
Edward Manning
1941 – 1953
Succeeded by
Bill Sheahan
Preceded by
Joseph Cahill
Minister for Transport
Succeeded by
Ernest Wetherell