Jim McClelland

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Jim McClelland
Senator for New South Wales
In office
16 March 1971 – 21 July 1978
Preceded byJames Ormonde
Succeeded byKerry Sibraa
Personal details
Born(1915-06-03)3 June 1915
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died16 January 1999(1999-01-16) (aged 83)
Wentworth Falls, New South Wales, Australia
Political partyAustralian Labor Party
Spouse(s)1) Nora Fitzer
2) Freda Watson
3) Gillian Appleton
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
University of Sydney
OccupationSolicitor, unionist

James Robert McClelland[a] (3 June 1915 – 16 January 1999) was an Australian solicitor, jurist, Senator, Minister in the Third Whitlam Ministry, Royal Commissioner looking at British nuclear tests in Australia, and the first chief judge of the Land and Environment Court of NSW.


Born in Melbourne, McClelland was educated at St Patrick's College, Ballarat and Melbourne University (B.A.) and Sydney University (Law). He served in the Royal Australian Air Force between 1943 and 1946. After that he worked as a solicitor in Sydney for years.

The legal practice of McClelland dealt mainly with union workers compensation claims for the Federated Ironworkers' Association of Australia, where he was associated with Laurie Short. He played a large part (with Bob Santamaria) in helping Short take control of the Union from the openly pro-communist Ernie Thornton. By this time, nevertheless, he had turned against his former Catholic upbringing, and unlike many other Santamaria allies he never joined the DLP.

McClelland was elected to represent New South Wales for the ALP in the 1970 Senate election, his term to begin on 1 July 1971. In March 1971 he was appointed to a casual vacancy for the remainder of the term of the late Senator James Ormonde. He was again elected in the double dissolution election of May 1974. In the Third Whitlam Ministry he was Minister for Manufacturing Industry from 10 February to 6 June 1975. From 6 June to 11 November 1975 he was Minister for Labour and Immigration and Minister assisting the Prime Minister in matters relating to the Public Service. He was again elected at the December 1975 double dissolution election. He resigned from the Senate on 21 July 1978.

In 1980 McClelland was appointed the first chief judge of the Land and Environment Court of NSW, holding that office until his 70th birthday in June 1985.

In 1984, as Justice McClelland, he was President of the Royal Commission into British nuclear tests in Australia at Maralinga.

He was reviled by the right as is indicated in Roderick Meagher's portrait in Quadrant, and associated with Edmund Campion, Patrick White, Manning Clark and Donald Horne.


McClelland married three times:

  • in 1947 to Nora Fitzer with whom he adopted two children but divorced in 1968
  • in 1968 to Freda Watson who brought three step children. She died in 1976
  • in 1978 to Gillian Appleton.


  1. ^ Although he was nicknamed "Diamond Jim" by the Australian media, at McClelland's funeral, Gough Whitlam indicated that McClelland disliked this Americanism.



  • Portraits: Jim McClelland, Quadrant, June 2005 – 49:6 [Accessed 4 March 2006]
  • James McClelland, (1988), Stirring the Possum: A Political Autobiography, Penguin, Sydney ISBN 0-14-009764-3
  • James McClelland, (1989), An Angel Bit The Bride Penguin ISBN 0-14-012831-X
  • Gillian Appleton, (2000), Diamond Cuts: An Affectionate Memoir of Jim McClelland Macmillan ISBN 0-7329-1051-X

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Kep Enderby
Minister for Manufacturing Industry
Succeeded by
Lionel Bowen
Preceded by
Clyde Cameron
Minister for Labour and Immigration
Succeeded by
Tony Street
Legal offices
New title Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court (NSW)
Succeeded by
Jerrold Cripps