Sir Percy Spender
KCVO KBE QC
Spender in 1940
|President of the|
International Court of Justice
6 February 1964 – 5 February 1967
|Preceded by||Bohdan Winiarski|
|Succeeded by||José Bustamante y Rivero|
|Judge of the International Court of Justice|
6 February 1958 – 5 February 1967
|Preceded by||John Read|
|Succeeded by||Charles Onyeama|
|Australian Ambassador to the United States|
31 May 1951 – 1 January 1958
|Preceded by||Norman Makin|
|Succeeded by||Howard Beale|
|Minister for External Affairs|
19 December 1949 – 26 April 1951
|Prime Minister||Robert Menzies|
|Preceded by||Bert Evatt|
|Succeeded by||Richard Casey|
|Treasurer of Australia|
14 March 1940 – 27 October 1940
|Prime Minister||Robert Menzies|
|Preceded by||Robert Menzies|
|Succeeded by||Arthur Fadden|
|Member of the House of Representatives|
23 October 1937 – 28 April 1951
|Preceded by||Archdale Parkhill|
|Succeeded by||Francis Bland|
5 October 1897|
Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia
3 May 1985 (aged 87)|
Darling Point, New South Wales, Australia
Liberal (from 1945)
Jean Henderson (m. 1925–1970)|
Averil Trenerry (m. 1975–1976)
Eileen Esdaile (m. 1983)
|Relations||Dale Spender (niece)|
|Alma mater||University of Sydney|
|Occupation||Politician, diplomat, jurist|
Sir Percy Claude Spender KCVO KBE QC (5 October 1897 – 3 May 1985), was an Australian politician, diplomat and judge. He served in the House of Representatives from 1937 to 1951, including as a cabinet minister under Robert Menzies and Arthur Fadden. He was later Ambassador to the United States (1951–1958) and a member of the International Court of Justice (1958–1967).
Spender was born in Sydney and educated at Fort Street High School and later the University of Sydney. He joined the Commonwealth Public Service in 1915. He was admitted to the New South Wales Bar in 1923 and was made a King's Counsel in 1935.
Spender entered politics at the 1937 election when he was elected to the House of Representatives as member for Warringah. He ran as an independent, defeating the sitting member, Sir Archdale Parkhill. Soon after his election, he joined the government party, the United Australia Party.
Spender held a number of ministries in Robert Menzies' wartime government. He was Minister without portfolio assisting the Treasurer from April–November 1939, Vice-President of the Executive Council from January–March 1940, then Treasurer until October 1940 and then Minister for the Army until the fall of Arthur Fadden's government in October 1941. He was also a member of the Economic Cabinet (1939–1940), War Cabinet (1939–1941) and the Advisory War Council (1940–1945).
After the Coalition lost power in 1941, Spender twice stood for UAP leader. He was eliminated on the first ballot in both the 1941 and 1943 votes, which were won by Billy Hughes and Robert Menzies respectively.
In February 1944, the UAP voted to withdraw its members from the Advisory War Council. Spender refused to resign from the council, and was expelled from the UAP as a result on 23 February 1944. The party reportedly voted 21 to 5 in favour of an expulsion motion moved by Robert Menzies – who had been largely responsible for the creation of the council as a nonpartisan body. John Curtin subsequently sent Spender a letter thanking him for staying on. Billy Hughes was expelled in similar circumstances two months later.
Spender sat as an independent after being expelled from the UAP. He was approached to join the Liberal Democratic Party, a small UAP breakaway, but declined. In May 1945, Spender became a financial member of the Mosman branch of the Liberal Party of Australia. However, he was not admitted to the parliamentary Liberal Party until 13 September 1945, when the Advisory War Council was abolished. Hughes was also re-admitted at that point.
Upon Menzies' return to power in 1949, Spender was made Minister for External Affairs (19 December 1949 – 26 April 1951) and Minister for External Territories. Spender's greatest influence on Australian politics occurred during this period. He led Australian delegations to the British Commonwealth Conference in Colombo, Ceylon and to the Fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly (of which he was the Vice-President).
At the conference in Colombo, Spender was instrumental in the development of the Colombo Plan (which had originally been known as the Spender Plan). He also played a large part in the signing of the ANZUS Pact and the Treaty of San Francisco (Japanese Peace Treaty; 1951).
Spender expressed more desire to secure alliances with 'great powers' than contribute to collective security, stating that international organisations like the UN may "contain those who are at work to disrupt the order we believe in". In this sense Spender was more akin to the realist tradition of Australian foreign politics linked to former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies.
On leaving politics, Spender was appointed Australia's Ambassador to the United States (1951–58). He was the first Australian appointed to the International Court of Justice in The Hague (1958–1964) and was the Court's President 1964–67. Spender died in May 1985, aged 87.
Marriages and family
Spender married Jean Maud Henderson on 6 April 1925 at St Mary Magdalene Church of England, Coraki, New South Wales. She became a crime-fiction writer and they had two sons. One son, John Spender, was also a politician and diplomat. Jean Spender died in 1970 and on 4 October 1975 at St Mark's Church of England, Darling Point, he married Averil Watkins Trenerry, née McLeod. The marriage was short-lived and they divorced soon after. He married Eileen Esdaile, née Congreve, in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1983. He was the last surviving member of the Menzies and Fadden Cabinets.
Percy Spender was knighted in 1952 as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1957, he was further created a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. He was conferred the Grande Ufficiale Order of Merit by the Republic of Italy in 1976. He also received ten honorary doctorates. However, a personal rift between himself and Menzies prevented him from receiving the honour which he most desired, appointment to the Privy Council.
- Lowe, D. 2012, Spender, Sir Percy Claude (1897–1989) Australian Dictionary of Biography Retrieved 9 July 2013
- "U.A.P. EXPELS MR. SPENDER". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 February 1944.
- "U.A.P. EXPELS MR. HUGHES". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 April 1944.
- "MR. SPENDER INVITED TO JOIN L.D.P." The Sydney Morning Herald. 31 August 1944.
- "MR. SPENDER AND THE LIBERAL PARTY". The Sydney Morning Herald. 18 May 1945.
- "Hughes and Spender Join Liberals". The Sydney Morning Herald. 14 September 1945.
- Penrose, Sandra (29 September – 1 October 2004). "Percy Spender and the origins of ANZUS: an Australian initiative" (PDF). University of Adelaide. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 September 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2008.
- Lowe, D. 2003, 'Percy Spender, Minister and Ambassador', in, Beaumont, J. Waters, C. Lowe, D. and Woddard, G. Ministers, Mandarins and Diplomats: Australian Foreign Policy Making, 1941–1969, Melbourne University Press, p. 70
- Gyngell, A. and Wesley, M. 2007, Making Australian Foreign Policy (Second Edition), Cambridge University press, Melbourne, p. 11
| Vice-President of the Executive Council
| Minister for the Army
| Minister for External Affairs
| Minister for External Territories|
|Parliament of Australia|
Sir Archdale Parkhill
| Member for Warringah
| Australian Ambassador to the United States
Sir Howard Beale