Sir Littleton Groom
|Member of the Australian Parliament
for Darling Downs
14 September 1901 – 12 October 1929
|Preceded by||William Henry Groom|
|Succeeded by||Arthur Morgan|
19 December 1931 – 6 November 1936
|Preceded by||Arthur Morgan|
|Succeeded by||Arthur Fadden|
|6th Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives|
13 January 1926 – 11 October 1929
|Preceded by||William Watt|
|Succeeded by||Norman Makin|
22 April 1867|
|Died||6 November 1936
|Political party||Protectionist (1901–09)
|Alma mater||University of Melbourne|
Sir Littleton Ernest Groom, KCMG KC (22 April 1867 – 6 November 1936) was an Australian Federal Minister, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Australia's 17th longest serving federal Parliamentarian (33 years and one month). He was a member of every non-Australian Labor Party ministry from 1905 to 1926. He was a liberal protectionist, who believed in the extension of federal powers, but became increasingly opposed to the Australian Labor Party's socialist agenda.
Groom was born in Toowoomba, Queensland, third son of William Henry Groom and his wife Grace (née Littleton). Groom was educated at Toowoomba North State School, Toowoomba Grammar School, where he was dux of the school and captain of both the football and cricket teams, and Ormond College, University of Melbourne where he won the 1890 University Scholarship at the Final Honours Examination in Laws.
Groom won the first federal by-election in Australian history, as a Protectionist for the seat of Darling Downs, caused by the death of his father. Groom was a strong Australian nationalist, supporting an extension of the Commonwealth's powers, including its industrial relations powers.
As a result, he supported the Watson government in 1904. Groom was Minister of Home Affairs from July 1905 to October 1906 in the second Deakin Ministry and introduced legislation in 1906 to create a federal meteorological department and the creation of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIRO) in 1916 was in large part a product of his attempt to create an Australian Department of Agriculture in 1906. In October 1906, Groom became Attorney General until the defeat of the Deakin government in November 1908. Groom passed legislation to defend the Harvester Judgment and successfully introduced legislation providing Commonwealth invalid and old age pensions.
He had carried legislation establishing the High Commission of Australia in London. After the 1910 election, he became a strong opponent of Labor and attacked its establishment of a government-owned Commonwealth Bank and its attempt to gain the power to control monopolies. He was Trade and Customs in the Cook Ministry from June 1913 to September 1914.
Groom was Vice-President of the Executive Council in Hughes's Nationalist government from November 1917 to March 1918 and Works and Railways from March 1918 to December 1921. He encouraged railway development and was involved in accelerating the construction of Canberra.
In December 1921 he became Attorney-General again. He was Minister for Trade and Customs and Minister for Health in May and June 1924, following Austin Chapman's resignation on grounds of ill health. Groom led the 1924 Australian delegation to the Fifth Assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva and chaired a committee, which formulated a protocol to establish a system of international arbitration and later voted to support its protocol despite an instruction to abstain. Groom involved himself in attempts to deport "foreign" agitators, but due to his poor handling of these and other matters, he was obliged to resign in December 1925.
In return for his resignation, Groom was elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives and presided from January 1926 to 1929, when he helped oversee the move of federal Parliament from Melbourne to the newly constructed capital Canberra.
His refusal to use his tiebreaking vote as speaker on a bill that would remove the Commonwealth from most of its involvement in conciliation and arbitration led to the collapse of the Bruce government, triggering the 1929 election. This was motivated partly by his views on the obligations of an independent speaker, but he also disliked the bill and he still resented his forced resignation in 1925.
The Nationalists expelled him from the party, forcing him to run for reelection as an independent. In a bitter campaign, Groom was eliminated on the first count, making him the first serving Speaker to lose his own seat at an election.
Groom returned to his legal practice in Brisbane; he was re-elected in 1931 election as an Independent and he joined the United Australia Party in August 1933. From 1932 to 1936 he was chairman of the Bankruptcy Legislation Committee and in earlier years he also acted on various royal commissions and select committees. He died in Canberra of cerebro-vascular disease. Groom was survived by his wife and one of their two daughters.
A member of the General Synod of the Anglican Church, Groom was knighted in January 1924 for his services to politics. In 1984, his old seat of Darling Downs was renamed the Division of Groom in his honour. He is commemorated by a number of features in Toowoomba, including Groom Park.
After his death, Groom bequeathed many of the books from his personal library to the Canberra University College Library (which would become the Australian National University's Chifley Library) including the famed 'The Rise of the Dutch Republic' by J.L. Motley.
- List of people with surname Groom
- Members of the Parliament of Australia who have served for at least 30 years
- Serle, Percival. "Groom, Sir Littleton Ernest(1867–1936)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Project Gutenberg Australia. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
- Carment, David (1983). "Groom, Sir Littleton Ernest (1867–1936)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
- Carr, Adam (2008). "Australian Election Archive". Psephos, Adam Carr's Election Archive. Archived from the original on 6 October 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2008.
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