John Spicer (Australian politician)

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The Honourable
Sir John Spicer
John Armstrong Spicer.jpg
Senator for Victoria
In office
29 September 1940 – 30 June 1944
Preceded by Jim Sheehan
In office
22 February 1950 – 13 August 1956
Succeeded by George Hannan
Personal details
Born (1899-03-05)5 March 1899
Prahran, Victoria
Died 3 January 1978(1978-01-03) (aged 78)
Armadale, Victoria
Nationality Australian
Political party UAP (1940–44)
Liberal (1944–56)
Spouse(s) Lavinia May Webster
Alma mater University of Melbourne
Occupation Barrister, solicitor

Sir John Armstrong Spicer (5 March 1899 – 3 January 1978) was an Australian lawyer, politician, cabinet minister and judge.

Spicer was born in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran, but was taken to England by his family in 1905 and educated at Chelston School, Torquay. His family returned to Australia in 1911 and he attended Hawksburn State School in the inner Melbourne suburb of South Yarra. In 1913, he started working as an office boy in a legal practice. He studied law at the University of Melbourne from 1916 to 1918, and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in March 1921, later establishing a successful legal practice. He married Lavinia May Webster in June 1924.[1]

Political career[edit]

Spicer won a seat in the Senate as a United Australia Party candidate in the 1940 election. In the Senate, he spoke frequently on tax issues and promoted "sound and honest finance", but he was defeated at the 1943 election. He strongly opposed Ben Chifley's bank nationalisation and acted for the English banks in court action on the issue. He took silk in 1948.[1]

Spicer returned to the Senate as a Liberal Party of Australia candidate in the 1949 election, and was immediately appointed Attorney-General in the Menzies government. His first priority was to draft a bill banning the Communist Party of Australia. The Bill was eventually passed by the Parliament and became the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950 but was later declared unconstitutional by the High Court of Australia. In 1952, he drafted an official secrets bill which included a provision permitting the death penalty for spying and wide powers of search and arrest without warrant, but this was rejected by Cabinet. He was also Minister for Transport for two weeks after George McLeay's death.[1]

In August 1956, Spicer resigned from parliament so that he could be appointed to the Commonwealth Industrial Court. He was made a Knight Bachelor in 1963.

Spicer presided over inquiries into aviation accidents and naval disasters:

Spicer died in the Melbourne suburb of Armadale, survived by his wife and son.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Browne, Geoff (2002). "Spicer, Sir John Armstrong (1899 - 1978)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  2. ^ "Spicer, John Armstrong". It's an Honour. Government of Australia. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
Political offices
Preceded by
H. V. Evatt
Succeeded by
Neil O'Sullivan
Preceded by
George McLeay
Minister for Shipping and Transport
Succeeded by
Shane Paltridge