James Cunningham (Australian politician)

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The Honourable
James Cunningham
James Cunningham.jpg
Senator for Western Australia
In office
23 October 1937 – 4 July 1943
Preceded by Thomas Marwick
Personal details
Born (1879-12-28)28 December 1879
Wirrabara, South Australia
Died 4 July 1943(1943-07-04) (aged 63)
Albury, New South Wales
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Occupation Goldminer

James Cunningham (28 December 1879 – 4 July 1943) was a Western Australian state and Australian federal politician, becoming President of the Senate.

Cunningham was born in Wirrabara, South Australia to parents who could not write,[1] and he received little formal education there. When he was about 20 he moved to Western Australia to become a goldminer. He worked at Norseman and then at Boulder. He contracted the disease silicosis through this work.[1]

He was secretary of the Federated Miners' Union before his election to the Western Australian Legislative Council in 1916 as a Labor member. In 1922 he left the council, but in 1923 he was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly as the member for Kalgoorlie. He was an honorary minister 1924–1927 and held the portfolios of Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Goldfields and Minister for Water Supply 1927–1930. His alcoholism prevented him being reappointed to the Ministry in 1933 when Labor regained office.[1]

In 1936 the Labor Party decided to allow three candidates to stand for the seat of Kalgoorlie, after irregularities were discovered in the pre-selection ballotting process. Cunningham was soundly defeated.[1]

In 1937 he was elected to the Australian Senate as a Labor Senator for Western Australia. In 1940 he was elected Deputy Senate Leader. On 1 July 1941 he was elected President of the Senate, serving until his death in Albury, New South Wales, on 4 July 1943.[2] He was buried in Karrakatta Cemetery, Perth, after a state funeral.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Australian Dictionary of Biography
  2. ^ Carr, Adam (2008). "Australian Election Archive". Psephos, Adam Carr's Election Archive. Archived from the original on 20 July 2007. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
John Hayes
President of the Senate
Succeeded by
Gordon Brown