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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hogben, Horace Cox (1888–1975)

by Susan Marsden

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Horace Cox Hogben (1888-1975), public accountant and politician, was born on 20 September 1888 at Magill, Adelaide, son of English-born parents Rev. George Hogben, a carpenter who had become a Baptist minister, and his wife Agnes, née Carmichael. Educated in public schools at Magill and Port Pirie, Horace began work as a junior with Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd at Port Pirie in 1905. Two years later he moved to Adelaide. While employed as a clerk and company secretary, he represented (1913) the State in hockey, and studied at the South Australian School of Mines and Industries and at the University of Adelaide (associate in commerce, 1915). At the Baptist Church, Parkside, on 4 May 1915 he married Clara Margaret Marion McPharlin. From 1922 he was an accountant and office manager with Cowell Bros & Co. Ltd before setting up his own business as a public accountant in 1930. He was president (1940) of the State division of the Australasian Institute of Secretaries.

Secretary (1930-40) of the Young Liberal League, Hogben was also treasurer (from 1931) of the Emergency Committee of South Australia which opposed the 'financial extremists' in J. H. Scullin's Federal Labor government. The success of the committee's candidates in the 1931 Federal elections encouraged the State's Liberal Federation and Country Party to amalgamate in the following year to form the Liberal and Country League, of which Hogben was vice-president. From April 1933 to February 1938 he was a member for Sturt in the House of Assembly. Concerned about housing problems during the Depression, in 1934 he and (Sir) Keith Wilson (the president of the Y.L.L.) formed a committee to examine the 'shortage of low-price houses and the concomitant of rising rents'. Hogben undertook the research, at the expense of much of his accountancy practice and income.

He subsequently proposed the formation of a housing authority, easier terms for financing prospective home-owners and remedial action to deal with substandard houses, recommendations which were embodied in the South Australian Housing Trust Act (1936), the Building Societies Amendment Act (1938), the Housing Improvement Act (1940) and the Homes Act (1941). The auditor-general J. W. Wainwright encouraged Hogben to advocate the establishment of a new housing authority which would construct low-cost rental homes. If rents were kept down and workers' wages were lower than those paid in the other States, manufacturing would be attracted to South Australia. The government adopted these policies, gradually increasing the role of secondary industry in the State's economic structure.

Acknowledged as the founder of the South Australian Housing Trust—set up in 1936 as Australia's first public housing authority—Hogben served as its deputy-chairman (1941-67) and saw it become a key agency in promoting the State's industrialization and urbanization under Premier (Sir) Thomas Playford. Hogben was also a director (from 1938) of the Co-operative Building Society of South Australia and a trustee of the Savings Bank of South Australia. Survived by his wife, son and daughter, he died on 18 December 1975 at his Unley home and was cremated. The trust reported that he had combined 'the two broad aims of any Statutory Authority . . . a real and deep concern for people, together with an accountant's appreciation of the need for good financial control'. A portrait by Jacqueline Hick is held by the trust.

Select Bibliography

  • D. Jaensch (ed), The Flinders History of South Australia (Adel, 1986)
  • S. Marsden, Business, Charity and Sentiment (Adel, 1986)
  • R. Linn, For the Benefit of the People (Adel, 1989)
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 2 Apr 1940, 22 Dec 1975.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Susan Marsden, 'Hogben, Horace Cox (1888–1975)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 26 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

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