Norman Makin

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The Honourable
Norman Makin
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Hindmarsh
In office
13 December 1919 – 14 August 1946
Preceded by William Archibald
Succeeded by Albert Thompson
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Sturt
In office
29 May 1954 – 10 December 1955
Preceded by Keith Wilson
Succeeded by Keith Wilson
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Bonython
In office
10 December 1955 – 1 November 1963
Preceded by New seat
Succeeded by Martin Nicholls
7th Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
In office
20 November 1929 – 16 February 1932
Preceded by Sir Littleton Groom
Succeeded by George Mackay
Personal details
Born (1889-03-31)31 March 1889
Petersham, New South Wales
Died 20 July 1982(1982-07-20) (aged 93)
Adelaide, South Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Ruby Florence nee Jennings
Occupation Metal worker
Religion Methodist

Norman John Oswald Makin AO (31 March 1889 – 20 July 1982), Australian politician, was a Cabinet minister, Speaker of the House of Representatives, diplomat and 1st President of the United Nations Security Council.

Early life[edit]

Makin was born in Petersham,[1] a suburb of Sydney, the son of an itinerant worker. He received a primary education in Broken Hill, then moved with his family to Adelaide, where he became a metal-worker. He was active in the Australian Society of Engineers and the Australian Labor Party from an early age. By 1918 he was President of the South Australian branch of the Labor Party. In his private life Makin was a lay Methodist preacher.

First political career[edit]

In 1919 he was elected to the House of Representatives for the safe Labor seat of Hindmarsh in the working-class suburbs of Adelaide. Makin spent ten years in Opposition before the election of the Scullin Labor government in 1929. He hoped to be elected to Cabinet, but had to be content with the parliamentary position of Speaker, a post in which he performed capably, being noted for his even temperament and his courtesy to all members. In 1932, following the defeat of the Scullin government, he returned to the Opposition benches, and was Secretary of the Labor Caucus during the 1930s.

By 1941, when Labor returned to power under John Curtin, Makin had an undeniable claim to office, and became Minister for the Navy and Minister for Munitions – key posts in a wartime government. In 1945 he also became Minister for Aircraft Production. He established good relations with service chiefs and played an important role in Australia's successful transition to a wartime economy. When Curtin died in 1945, Makin contested the leadership along with Ben Chifley and caretaker Prime Minister Frank Forde, but Chifley succeeded.

As diplomat[edit]

In 1946 Chifley appointed Makin as the Australian Ambassador to the United States, a post he held until 1951. In the gathering Cold War atmosphere of the post-war years, this was a position of great importance to Australia, and Makin performed it so well that the incoming Liberal Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, kept him in the post after the change of government in 1949. In 1946 he served as the first President of the United Nations Security Council.

Return to politics and later life[edit]

After leaving his diplomatic post, Makin returned to Australia. Although he was by now in his mid-60s, he decided to return to politics. At the 1954 election he captured the marginal Liberal seat of Sturt for Labor on a 53 percent primary and two-party vote from a 5.4 percent swing. Sturt was significantly redistributed prior to the 1955 election. Most of the Labor-friendly territory in Sturt was shifted to the newly created Bonython. While this redistribution made Sturt notionally Liberal, Bonython was notionally a comfortably safe Labor seat. Makin opted to transfer to Bonython, which he won easily. While still a Member of Parliament in 1961 he authored a book with brief biographies of all leaders of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party until that time.[2] He retired at the 1963 election, but remained active in Labor affairs for many years. He died in Adelaide in 1982 at the age of 93. He was the second-last surviving member of Curtin's Cabinet; Forde outlived him by one year. He was also the last surviving MP to have served when Billy Hughes was Prime Minister. His grandson, Paul Makin, was an airline pilot. He campaigned against the Labor Party at the Australian federal election, 1990 in response to the policies of the Hawke government during the 1989 Australian pilots' dispute.[3]

Honoured in naming of electoral division[edit]

The electorate of Makin, established in 1984 in Adelaide's northeastern suburbs, is named after him.[4]

Makin at an older age

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Norman Makin (1961), Federal Labour Leaders, Union Printing, Sydney, New South Wales
  3. ^ "Off the Record: Election '90". Sydney Morning Herald. 21 March 1990. 
  4. ^ Makin AEC Profile

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
William Archibald
Member for Hindmarsh
Succeeded by
Albert Thompson
Preceded by
Littleton Groom
Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
Succeeded by
George Mackay
Preceded by
Keith Wilson
Member for Sturt
Succeeded by
Keith Wilson
New division Member for Bonython
Succeeded by
Martin Nicholls
Political offices
Preceded by
Billy Hughes
Ministers for the Navy
Succeeded by
Arthur Drakeford
Preceded by
Philip McBride
Ministers for Munitions
Succeeded by
John Dedman
Preceded by
Don Cameron
Ministers for Aircraft Production
Diplomatic posts
New title Head of the Australian Delegation to the United Nations
Succeeded by
Paul Hasluck
as Permanent Representative
Preceded by
Sir Frederick Eggleston
Australian Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Sir Percy Spender
New title President of the United Nations Security Council
Succeeded by
Cyro de Freitas Valle
Preceded by
Herschel Johnson
President of the United Nations Security Council
January 1947
Succeeded by
Fernand van Langenhove