Hugh Mahon

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The Honourable
Hugh Mahon
Hugh mahon.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Coolgardie
In office
29 March 1901 – 31 May 1913
Preceded by New seat
Succeeded by Division abolished
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Kalgoorlie
In office
22 December 1913 – 5 May 1917
Preceded by Charles Frazer
Succeeded by Edward Heitmann
In office
13 December 1919 – 12 November 1920
Preceded by Edward Heitmann
Succeeded by George Foley
Personal details
Born (1857-01-06)6 January 1857
Killurin, Ireland
Died 28 August 1931(1931-08-28) (aged 74)
Ringwood, Victoria
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Mary Alice L'Estrange
Occupation Newspaper owner

Hugh Mahon (6 January 1857 – 28 August 1931) was an Irish-born Australian politician and a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament for the Australian Labor Party. He was the only Member of Parliament ever expelled from the Federal Parliament.

Mahon was born at Killurin, near Tullamore, King's County, Ireland and migrated with his family to the United States in 1867, where he learnt about printing. He returned to Ireland in about 1880 and was jailed in 1881 for political agitation along with Irish National Land League leaders including Charles Stewart Parnell, but was released due to ill-health. He migrated to Australia in 1882 to avoid re-arrest and worked for newspapers in Goulburn and Sydney, before acquiring a newspaper in Gosford. He married Mary Alice L'Estrange in 1888 and subsequently sold his newspaper to follow her back to her birthplace, Melbourne. In 1895, he moved to Coolgardie, Western Australia.[1]

Political career[edit]

Group photograph of all Federal Labour[2] Party MPs elected at the inaugural 1901 election, including Chris Watson, Andrew Fisher, Billy Hughes, Frank Tudor, and King O'Malley. Mahon is middle row standing fourth from left.

In 1897 Mahon stood unsuccessfully for the state seat of North Coolgardie and the following year he was appointed editor of the Kalgoorlie Sun, a salacious newspaper similar to John Norton’s Truth, in which he regularly denounced the Forrest government for alleged corrupt practices. Mahon’s notoriety as a fighting editor helped him to win the new federal seat of Coolgardie at the 1901 election for Labour.[3] He was Postmaster-General in the Watson government in 1904 and Minister for Home Affairs in the Fisher government of 1908–09. In 1913, the seat of Coolgardie was abolished and partly replaced by Dampier, for which he stood unsuccessfully. He re-entered Parliament in the seat of Kalgoorlie; following the death of the incumbent, Charles Frazer, a by-election was called, but at the close of nominations on 22 December 1913 Mahon was the sole candidate and was declared elected unopposed.[4] He became Minister for External Affairs in December 1914 until the Labor Party split in 1916.[1]

Mahon lost his seat in 1917, but won it back in 1919. After the death in October 1920 of the Irish nationalist Terence McSwiney, who had been on hunger strike, Mahon attacked British policy in Ireland and the British Empire, referring to it as "this bloody and accursed despotism" at an open-air meeting in Melbourne on 7 November. Prime Minister Billy Hughes moved to expel him[1] and on 12 November the House of Representatives passed a resolution that Mahon had made "seditious and disloyal utterances at a public meeting," and was "guilty of conduct unfitting him to remain a member of this House and inconsistent with the oath of allegiance which he has taken as a member of this House". Mahon became the only MP ever to be expelled from the Federal Parliament, since, under Section 8 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act, 1987,[5] neither house of the Parliament now has the power to expel a member.

Mahon failed to win back his seat at the December 1920 Kalgoorlie by-election, suffering a 3.5 percent swing.[6]

After a trip to Europe and Ireland, Mahon died in 1931 in the Melbourne suburb of Ringwood, and was survived by his wife and four children.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Gibbney, H. J. "Mahon, Hugh (1857–1931)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  2. ^ As noted further on in the article the spelling of "Labor" in "Australian Labor Party" was not adopted by the party until 1912.
  3. ^ Kildea, Jeff (2011). "Remembering Hugh Mahon" (PDF). Recorder. 271: 2–4. 
  4. ^ Parliamentary Handbook of the Commonwealth of Australia (29th ed). Commonwealth of Australia. 2002. p. 436. ISSN 0813-541X. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Australian Electoral Office (1983). Commonwealth By-elections 1901–1982. Commonwealth of Australia. pp. 31, 182. ISBN 0-644-02369-4. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Philip Fysh
Succeeded by
Sydney Smith
Preceded by
John Keating
Minister for Home Affairs
Succeeded by
George Fuller
Preceded by
John Arthur
Minister for External Affairs
Title abolished
Parliament of Australia
New division Member for Coolgardie
Division abolished
Preceded by
Charles Frazer
Member for Kalgoorlie
Succeeded by
Edward Heitmann
Preceded by
Edward Heitmann
Member for Kalgoorlie
Succeeded by
George Foley