Frank McManus (Australian politician)

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Frank McManus
Leader of the Democratic Labor Party
In office
10 October 1973 – 18 May 1974
DeputyJack Little
Preceded byVince Gair
Succeeded byparty representation ceased
Deputy Leader of the Democratic Labor Party
In office
8 May 1956 – 10 October 1973
LeaderGeorge Cole
Vince Gair
Preceded byoffice established
Succeeded byJack Little
Senator for Victoria
In office
1 July 1956 – 30 June 1962
Preceded byCharles Sandford
Succeeded byMagnus Cormack
In office
1 July 1965 – 18 May 1974
Preceded byGeorge Hannan
Succeeded byJean Melzer
Personal details
Francis Patrick Vincent McManus

(1905-02-27)27 February 1905
North Melbourne, Victoria
Died28 December 1983(1983-12-28) (aged 78)
Melbourne, Victoria
Political partyDemocratic Labor Party

Francis Patrick Vincent McManus CMG (27 February 1905 – 28 December 1983), Australian politician, was the last leader of the parliamentary Democratic Labor Party and a prominent figure in Australian politics for 30 years.

Early life[edit]

McManus was born in North Melbourne, into a working-class family of Irish Catholic background. He was one of three boys to Patrick, a wagon driver and Gertrude his wife.[1] He was educated at Christian Brothers schools, including St Mary's Primary School, West Melbourne, St. Joseph's, CBC North Melbourne (1918–1922),[2] and St Kevin's College, Melbourne. Following his secondary schooling, and with the assistance of a scholarship, he attended Newman College at the University of Melbourne where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts(Honors) and Diploma of Education which allowed him to become a school teacher. Later he became an official in the Victorian Department of Education.[3]

Political life[edit]

In 1950 McManus was appointed Assistant State Secretary of the Australian Labor Party. The Victorian Branch of the party was then under the control of right-wing forces aligned with B. A. Santamaria's secretive anti-communist "Movement." In this position McManus supported the Industrial Groups which the party had set up within trade unions to combat the influence of the Communist Party of Australia.[1]

After Labor's defeat in the 1954 federal election, the federal Leader, Dr H. V. Evatt, publicly blamed the Victorian Branch and Santamaria's "Movement" for the defeat, causing a split in the Branch between pro- and anti-Evatt factions which eventually split the whole party. McManus along with hundreds of other "Groupers" was expelled from Labor.[3] They formed the Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist), which eventually became the Democratic Labor Party (DLP).[1]

McManus was elected to the Senate at the 1955 federal election as an ALP (Anti-Communist) candidate,[4] whose ticket polled 17.8 percent of the vote in Victoria.[5][6] He was defeated in 1961,[7] but re-elected in 1964,[8] and again in 1970.[9] At the 1970 election, campaigning on the slogan "Vote Mac Back", he polled 19.1 percent, the DLP's best-ever result.[10]

In the Senate, the DLP had between one and five Senators between 1955 and 1974, led first by George Cole of Tasmania and then by Vince Gair of Queensland, with McManus as Deputy Leader. The DLP gave critical support to the Liberal governments of Robert Menzies and his successors, pressing them to adopt more militantly anti-communist policies both domestically and internationally, particularly on issues such as the Vietnam War and the recognition of the People's Republic of China believing there was a real threat from communist domination.[11] They also supported conservative Catholic views on social issues. On some issues, such as pensions, the DLP supported traditional Labor policies.

In 1973, following the election of the Whitlam Labor government, Gair was forced out as DLP Leader and was succeeded by McManus, who at 68 was only three years younger than Gair. The election of Whitlam had robbed the DLP of most of its influence, and Gair's acceptance of the post of Ambassador to Ireland from Whitlam split the party and caused a collapse in its support. In 1974 the DLP supported the Liberal leader, Billy Snedden, in threatening to block the Whitlam government's budget bills in the Senate.[4]

When Whitlam responded by immediately calling an election for both the House and Senate (a double dissolution), McManus informed the Victorian Central Executive that Billy Snedden had agreed to the Liberals running a joint Senate ticket with the DLP, which would have guaranteed him a winnable Senate spot. But this joint ticket did not eventuate, and all the DLP Senators lost their seats,[1] McManus polling only 6.4 percent in Victoria.[9]

Later life[edit]

McManus ran for the Senate again at the 1975 election following the fall of the Whitlam government, but was not elected, his vote falling to 5.8 percent.[9] In 1976 he resigned as leader and the party was wound up in 1978.[1]

He was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1979.[12]

He died in Melbourne in 1983 leaving a wife and four children.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Browne, Geoff (2012). "McManus, Francis Patrick (Frank) (1905–1983)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  2. ^ St.Josephs. Review of St. Joseph's Christian Brothers' College North Melbourne on the Occasion of the Golden Jubilee 1903-1953. Melbourne: Advocate Press. p. 126. OCLC 1344202462.
  3. ^ a b "Obituary: Mr Frank McManus". The Canberra Times. 30 December 1983. p. 7. Retrieved 6 May 2014 – via Trove.
  4. ^ a b Warhurst, John (2010). "McManus, Francis Patrick Vincent (1905–1983)". The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  5. ^ Carr, Adam. "1955 Senate election: Victoria". Psephos Adam Carr's Election Archive. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  6. ^ "McManus sure of Senate seat". The Argus. 17 December 1955. p. 6. Retrieved 6 May 2014 – via Trove.
  7. ^ Carr, Adam. "1961 Senate election: Victoria". Psephos Adam Carr's Election Archive. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  8. ^ Carr, Adam. "1964 Senate election: Victoria". Psephos Adam Carr's Election Archive. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  9. ^ a b c Carr, Adam. "1975 Senate election: Victoria". Psephos Adam Carr's Election Archive. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  10. ^ "Victoria has an orgy of self-criticism". The Canberra Times. 24 November 1970. p. 10. Retrieved 8 January 2023 – via Trove.
  11. ^ "DLP outlines defence plan". The Canberra Times. 29 August 1969. p. 3. Retrieved 6 May 2014 – via Trove.
  12. ^ "Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) entry for Francis Patrick Vincent McManus". Australian Honours Database. Canberra, Australia: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 1979. Retrieved 8 January 2023.

Further reading[edit]

  • McManus, Frank (1977). The Tumult and The Shouting (memoirs). Rigby. ISBN 9780727002198.