Monday, 26 August 2013

Federal Electorates in the Casey Cardinia Region

It’s election time, and as you would know, Australians vote for a candidate that represents an Electorate. Historically, for the first nearly five decades of Federal elections,  most of the Casey Cardinia region has been part of the Flinders Electorate. Flinders was named after the explorer Matthew Flinders (1774-1814). Flinders was a navigator and a hydrographer who, amongst other achievements, circumnavigated Tasmania with George Bass from October 7 1798 to January 12 1799 and proved that it was an island and not attached to the mainland. 

Matthews Flinders.
From the Australian Dictionary of Biography website

Flinders was one of the original 75 electorates constituted after Federation and, in the first election held in March 1901, the seat was won by Arthur Groom (1852-1922)  of the Free Trade Party. Groom was a Stock and Station Agent, with William Hamilton & Co., and they operated yards in and around Leongatha and Korumburra. Groom did not contest the 1903 election.

Arthur Groom, the first Federal member to represent the people of the Casey Cardinia region.
From the Australian Dictionary of Biography website

There are now 150 electorates, so the number of Federal politicians has now doubled - but considering the population of Australia was around 3.7 million in 1901 and it is now 23 million, a six fold increase, it is interesting that that the amount of politicians hasn’t also increased by the same amount. If it had then we would have around 450 politicians representing us. I love watching the election coverage on election night, but even  I would find that the novelty of having to go through the results of 450 electorates would eventually wear off.

Flinders was originally much bigger geographically than it is today - in 1903 it covered basically Dandenong to Trafalgar, all the way to Phillip Island, Wonthaggi and Yarram.  It also covered the Mornington Peninsula to Portsea. As the population grew, new electorates were added and the boundaries of the Flinders electorate shrunk -  McMillan was formed in 1948 and named after Angus McMillan (1810-1865) pioneer and explorer. La Trobe was established in 1949. La Trobe was named after Charles La Trobe (1801-1875) first Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria from 1851 to 1854. As this area began to move from rural to suburban, other electorates were established.  Holt, was established in 1968 which was named after the Prime Minister, Harold Holt, who disappeared whilst swimming off Portsea in 1967.  Casey also also established in 1968. Casey was named after Lord Casey (1890-1976), Governor General of Australia from 1965 until 1969.

Emerald, Macclesfield and Lysterfield had a short time in the Mernda Electorate, although by the 1909 rolls they were in Flinders.

Because Flinders has historically covered the entire Casey Cardinia Region we are going to have a look at three of the past sitting members. Flinders has produced one Prime Minster, Stanley Melbourne Bruce (1883-1967) who was Prime Minister from 1923 to 1929.  Bruce was listed in the electoral rolls as a merchant, as he was part of the firm Paterson, Laing and Bruce, started by his father in 1878. He represented Flinders from 1918 to 1929 for the National party (a different party from today's National Party) and from 1931 to 1933 as a United Australia Party candidate. These parties are both fore-runners of the Liberal Party. Bruce was then appointed High Commissioner to Britain until 1945 and in 1947 was created a Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne. He could then sit in the House of Lords.

Stanley Melbourne Bruce,  Prime Minister of Australia.
From the Australian Dictionary of Biography website

James Valentine (Jim) Fairbairn, succeeded Bruce as the member for Flinders and he was Minister for Civil Aviation in the Menzies Government of 1939; and when World War Two broke out he was appointed the Minister for Air. He was a keen flier and flew his own plane. Fairbairn was killed in 1940 when the RAAF plane in which he was flying crashed near Canberra Airport. The Canberra Airport is named Fairbairn in his honour. Fairbairn never actually lived in the Flinders electorate; he had a property at Derrinallum in the Western District.  Fairbairn was succeeded by Colonel Rupert Ryan (1884-1952), who did live in the electorate, in very grand style as he had inherited Edrington and 1,000 acres from his aunt, Winifred Chirnside. He did share this inheritance with his sister, Lady Casey, the wife of Lord Casey after whom the Federal Electorate (and the City of Casey) is named. Ryan represented the Flinders Electorate until he died suddenly in August 1952

 This is an advertisement for Colonel Ryan for the 1946 election. It is from the Pakenham Gazette of September, 13 1946. In the interests of electoral fairness, I have also supplied an advertisement for the Labour Party candidate for the same election. This was on the same page of the Pakenham Gazette as the advertisement above. I don't know what Mr Lee's given names were, most reports in the papers years ago rarely used names, only initials.  There were preliminary results in the Pakenham Gazette of October 4, 1946 - Ryan had 33,029 votes and Lee had 27, 430 votes with 915 informal.

For more information on all the Members of Parliament and the men that the Electorates were named after - go to the Australian Dictionary of Biography
Fore more information on current Electorates go to the Australian Electorate Commission website
The voter rolls from 1903 until 1980 are available on Ancestry database which you can access free, at any of our Libraries

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