Jack Critchley

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Jack Critchley
John Critchley.jpg
Senator for South Australia
In office
1 July 1947 – 30 June 1959
Personal details
Born (1892-04-18)18 April 1892
Callington, South Australia
Died 27 April 1964(1964-04-27) (aged 72)
Political party Labor

John Owen Critchley (18 April 1892 – 27 April 1964) was an Australian politician.

Born in Callington, South Australia. Jack was the son of a miner, Patrick and his wife Julia (née Burns) and was the eldest of three boys, the other two being Mick and Harry. He was educated at state schools before becoming an apprentice wheelwright at Murray Bridge and then worked for Harrisons in Maitland, from where he enlisted. Jack served in the First AIF and fought and was wounded on the Western Front. When he arrived in France he had asked to see his brothers and was told that Mick had been killed and that Harry was at the front. He was blown up in no-man's land near Hill 60 and when he awoke he found himself in hospital in Salisbury, England. Invalided home he obtained a position in the railways at Peterborough. While at Gumbowie (near Peterborough) he had reported for work at the railways when he heard the morse code message coming over the line informing them that his brother Harry had been killed. Jack asked the Station Master, Mr Snigg, to hold the message until he had time to find the Parish priest Father Ed Ryan and together they took the news to his parents. It was at Peterborough that he met Alice Caroline Cave who was selling raffle tickets at the Catholic Bazaar. Jack was so taken by Alice that he bought the entire book of raffle tickets and donated the prize to the Convent. Jack and Alice married in 1919 and had three daughters, Mary (Molly), Pat and Joyce.

Jack had been closely involved with the Labor Party from the early days and had in fact been sacked by a firm in Murray Bridge for forming a union. After the war he became a member of the Peterborough Council, President of the local RSL, and Chairman of the Buffalos Lodge. In 1930, he was elected to the South Australian House of Assembly as the Labor member for Burra Burra, serving until 1933. During this time the Party had been split by the Premiers Plan and he was one of those expelled from the Party for the view that the Premiers Plan was the only honourable course to adopt rather than reneging on the debt as advocated by the Lang group. At about that time Jack served on the Royal Commission inquiring into the licensing of bookmakers.

In 1936 Jack was invited to rejoin the party and was sent to Frome to assist Mick O'Halloran. Jack also worked at the Motor Vehicles Dept where he ran into some strife when he insisted the rooms that the young female typists sat in had to be cleaned. The girls were frightened as the rooms were full of spiders and filthy. The Manager at that time took objection to what he saw as interference and insisted that Jack, who was on a contract, sit the public service exam. Jack duly sat and passed the exam and the examiner at that time Marcus (later Sir Marcus) Oliphant commented that Jack's was the most unorthodox paper he had ever seen but was correct. During the Second War he worked as an industrial officer in the Rationing Commission in Currie St Adelaide.

In 1946, he was elected to the Australian Senate as a Labor Senator for South Australia. Whilst in the Senate he served as Opposition Whip and was an outspoken champion of soldier's repatriation schemes. Jack was sent to a Commonwealth Conference in Canada and en route stopped in Hollywood where he and the other delegates met Cecil B DeMille and Gloria Swanson on the set of Billy Wilder's film Sunset Boulevard. During the split of the mid 1950s Jack, as a Catholic, was offered a senior position with the breakaway Democratic Labor Party which he declined. He held the seat until his retirement in 1958. Jack Critchley died in 1964 surrounded by his loving family who honour his memory to this day.[1]


  1. ^ Carr, Adam (2008). "Australian Election Archive". Psephos, Adam Carr's Election Archive. Archived from the original on 20 July 2007. Retrieved 2008-11-23.