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Anthony, Hubert Lawrence (Larry) (1897–1957)

by Lloyd Brodrick

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Hubert Lawrence Anthony, by Angus McNeill

Hubert Lawrence Anthony, by Angus McNeill

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an22482228

Hubert Lawrence (Larry) Anthony (1897-1957), politician and farmer, was born on 12 March 1897 at Warren, New South Wales, son of George Edward Anthony, a native-born labourer, and his Irish wife Honoria Elizabeth, née McNab. Educated at Warren Public School, in September 1911 Larry joined the Postmaster-General's Department as a telegraph messenger. He was employed as a postal assistant at Peak Hill when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 28 October 1914. Embarking for Egypt in December with No.2 Signal Troop, he served at Gallipoli from April 1915 until illness caused him to be evacuated to England in August; he returned to Australia in 1916 and was discharged from the A.I.F. on 4 October.

Having worked as a clerk and studied accountancy and economics in Sydney, in 1919 Anthony took up a soldier-settler block near Tweed Heads and was a shire councillor (1919-22). Anticipating that his first crop of bananas would be successful, on 21 June 1921 he married Mary Jessie Stirling (d.1941) in the Ann Street Presbyterian Church, Brisbane. The crop became infected with 'bunchy top' and was condemned. Larry and Mary walked off their farm penniless. He borrowed money and tried to grow sugar-cane on another farm, but this attempt also proved a financial disaster. Using savings accumulated from selling land on commission at Burleigh Heads and Surfers Paradise, Anthony returned to banana-growing and was to emerge as one of Australia's largest producers. In 1928 he founded the New South Wales Banana Growers' Federation; he also helped to initiate research which led to the elimination of the 'bunchy top' parasite.

As a Country Party candidate, he won the Federal seat of Richmond at the 1937 general elections and was to hold it until his death. In October 1940 he was appointed minister assisting the treasurer and the minister for commerce in the government of (Sir) Robert Menzies; in June 1941 Anthony became minister for transport. When Labor came to office under John Curtin in October, Anthony joined a group of Opposition members who fought the government with increasing effectiveness and he earned a reputation as a 'rough, rugged, tough fighter, always in debates . . . restless to get into the fight on all subjects at all times'; he was several times suspended from parliament. On 24 April 1946 in the Anglican Church of St John the Baptist, Canberra, he married a 25-year-old widow Lyndall Marion, née Ingram, late Thornton. Following the coalition parties' victory in December 1949, he was appointed postmaster-general. His progress from messenger-boy to minister gave him immense satisfaction.

Championing the supply of automatic telephone-exchange equipment to rural areas, Anthony endeavoured to improve postal and telegraph services through the use of new equipment. In 1951 he took the additional portfolio of civil aviation. The industry developed rapidly during his tenure: Qantas Empire Airways Ltd expanded its overseas services; the foundations of the two-airline policy—by which major domestic trunk routes were reserved for two principal airlines—were laid; and advanced technology came into operation. Anthony's main responsibility, however, was to supervise preliminary work for the advent of television in Australia. While the government was accused of procrastination, Anthony considered that he could learn from other countries' experiences. After a fact-finding mission to Britain and the United States of America in 1952, he introduced the 1953 television bill, the first step in establishing a dual system of public and private television stations. He was responsible for appointing the royal commission on television which reported next year.

Suffering several illnesses from the early 1950s, Anthony relinquished civil aviation in 1954. He was on sick leave in the last three months of that year, but rejected advice to leave the ministry. Disappointed that he had not been able to finalize the introduction of television, he was finally imposed upon to resign in January 1956. His acceptance next month of a directorship with Philips Electrical Industries Pty Ltd provoked criticism. Dark haired and solidly built, he was a blunt, instinctive politician who worked hard and was a popular local member. He loved reading, took a keen interest in the life of Napoleon and in Marxism, believed in the rights and potential of the individual, and was a staunch anti-communist. Anthony was a devoted husband and father. He died of cerebrovascular disease on 12 July 1957 at Murwillumbah and was cremated with Presbyterian forms. His wife and their daughter survived him, as did the daughter and two sons of his first marriage; his son Doug succeeded him as member for Richmond. The family holds a portrait of Larry Anthony by Leslie Moline.

Select Bibliography

  • Parliamentary Debates (Commonwealth), 18 Feb 1953, p 31, 27 Aug 1957, p 3
  • Richmond River Herald, 5 Oct 1937
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Oct 1940, 27 June 1941, 19 Dec 1949, 11 May 1951, 24 Nov 1952, 10 May, 29 Sept 1954, 13 July 1957
  • Sunday Sun (Sydney), 3 Dec 1944
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Lloyd Brodrick, 'Anthony, Hubert Lawrence (Larry) (1897–1957)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/anthony-hubert-lawrence-larry-9371/text16461, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 30 April 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

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