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Campbell, Frederick Alexander (Fred) (1911–1995)

by Darryl Bennet

This article was published online in 2019

Frederick Alexander Campbell (1911–1995), poultry farmer, political party organiser, and politician, was born on 17 January 1911 in Brisbane, fourth of five children of English-born Matthew Hale Campbell, farmer, and his New Zealand-born wife Annie Jessie, née Jullyan. The Campbells owned the Mahaca Poultry Farm and Hatchery at Albany Creek, north of the city. Fred attended Albany Creek State School. Riding his horse to Zillmere station and taking the train, he spent one year (1924) at Brisbane State High School. His first employment was with a fire and general insurance company.

On 14 May 1936 at St George’s Church of England, Windsor, Campbell married Ellen (‘Mac’) McConachie. By this time he and his younger brother, Matthew, were managing the family business. In January 1939 Fred enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces but it was Matt who later served full time in World War II, Fred reluctantly obtaining exemption in order to keep the farm in production. He followed in his father’s footsteps as an office-holder in the Queensland branch of the National Utility Poultry Breeders’ Association, as a member of the World’s Poultry Science Association, and as an industry representative on the South Queensland Egg Marketing Board.

Following some ten years in the Australian Country Party–Queensland, Campbell switched to the Liberal Party of Australia soon after its Queensland division formed in 1949. As a member (1953–67) of the State executive, including a period as president (1957–60), he played a leading part in negotiating the agreement with the Country Party not to stand candidates against each other and to campaign jointly for the 1957 Queensland general election. This pact, together with the split in the Australian Labor Party, ensured victory for the conservative coalition for the first time since 1929. He won the Legislative Assembly seat of Aspley in May 1960 and would retain it at the next six general elections. On entering parliament, he gave up the farm; Matt managed it until it closed in 1964.

In 1967 Campbell was promoted to the ministry and from 1976 to 1980 he was deputy leader of the parliamentary Liberal Party. He held the portfolios of industrial development (1967–72); development and industrial affairs (1972–74); industrial development, labour relations, and consumer affairs (1974–77); transport (1977); and labour relations (1977–80). Believing that a balanced and stable State economy depended on an expanded and decentralised manufacturing sector, he established regional industrial estates and promoted investment. Queensland’s traditional reliance on rural production, he argued, left its economy vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather and fluctuations in world commodity prices. A stream of newspaper articles in his name and regular public addresses spread his message widely. His introduction in 1979 of the Industry and Commerce Training Bill, which overhauled the apprenticeship system, gave him immense satisfaction. The legislation was the culmination of a long crusade to improve apprentices’ conditions and to train the skilled tradesmen required for his industrialising mission.

Moderate and fair minded, Campbell did all he could to foster social harmony. Business and labour leaders alike applauded his conciliatory and even-handed approach to industrial relations. Disgusted by Premier (Sir) Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s strike-breaking Essential Services Act 1979, he declared that strikes resulted from failures in communication and that attempts to outlaw them inevitably failed. Yet he remained firmly on the side of free enterprise. He rebuked Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s Labor government for its socialistic policies. When Comalco Ltd had been floated in 1970, he was one of the ministers who controversially bought shares that the company offered to politicians, public servants, and journalists. To him, the purchase was simply another investment, one that placed him under no obligation to the company and did not compromise his integrity.

The gentlemanly and convivial ‘Chooky’ Campbell had friends in all parties. On 29 November 1980 he retired from parliament. Public spirit, as much as political expediency, underpinned his commitment to numerous middle-class community organisations, especially the Rotary Club of Aspley, which awarded him a Paul Harris fellowship (1981) for his service. His wife supported him in these activities and also held committee positions in the Queensland Country Women’s Association and the Australian Red Cross Society. From early adulthood he had been a leader of the Young Men’s Christian Association. He played lawn bowls and he and his wife enjoyed travel. Survived by her, and by their son and two daughters, he died on 10 September 1995 at Sandgate and, following an Anglican service, was cremated. By then, market fundamentalism was dominating politics, sweeping aside the interventionist and progressive strand of liberalism that had shaped his career.

Research edited by Malcolm Allbrook

Select Bibliography

  • Allen, Ric. ‘Parliament’s Quiet Man Speaks His Mind.’ Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 16 November 1980, 16
  • Campbell, Barbara. Personal communication
  • Dempster, Quentin. ‘Campbell Slams Joh Conduct.’ Telegraph (Brisbane), 21 August 1980, 3
  • Harris, Brian. ‘Poultryman to Minister.’ Telegraph (Brisbane), 1 July 1967, 2
  • National Archives of Australia. B4747, Campbell, Frederick Alexander
  • Queensland Liberal. ‘A Lifetime of Service,’ November 1962, 2
  • Queensland. Parliament. Votes and Proceedings, 14 September 1995, 187–192
  • Queensland. Parliament. Votes and Proceedings, 25 September 1980, 821–822
  • Queensland Times (Ipswich). ‘State’s Future Lies in Secondary Industry: Minister’s Address,’ 19 March 1969, 2
  • State Library of Queensland. OM91-61, Fred A. Campbell Clippings 1957, 1967–1980
  • Van Os, John. ‘Further Honours for Campbell.’ Northern Times (Margate, Qld), 12 December 1980, 10

Additional Resources

Citation details

Darryl Bennet, 'Campbell, Frederick Alexander (Fred) (1911–1995)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/campbell-frederick-alexander-fred-23910/text32750, published online 2019, accessed online 23 October 2019.

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