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Huie, Alexander Gordon (1869–1964)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Alexander Gordon Huie (1869-1964), single taxer, was born on 16 October 1869 at Tayco, in the Riverina, New South Wales, son of Alexander Huie, Scottish farmer, sometime carrier and storekeeper, and his wife Mary Eliza, née Carige, born in British Grenada. The family were 'all temperance people'. In 1883 he moved to Lake Cargelligo where he worked as a carpenter. In 1889 he read Henry George's Progress and Poverty and was aroused by its message, but remoteness prevented his attending rallies when George visited Australia next year. Huie became correspondent for the Hillston Spectator and secretary of the local progress committee.

In 1894 he failed to win the seat of Lachlan, after 'travelling some 1600 miles (2575 km), mainly on one horse' preaching land-value taxation and free trade. He was to lose eleven more State, Federal and city council elections. In 1898 he moved to Sydney where he worked in the building trade, frequented parliament's public gallery, joined debating societies and continued writing for country newspapers. He became founding honorary secretary in September 1901 of the Sydney Single Tax League (Free Trade and Land Values League in 1913-29 and from 1943—Henry George League of New South Wales in 1929-43). In the 1904 and 1907 state elections he worked for (Sir) Joseph Carruthers' Liberal and Reform Association.

Huie founded the Standard, organ of the single taxers, in December 1905. In 1908 members subscribed to open an office and pay him a small salary. Thenceforth, 'single-minded in outlook and strongly dedicated, determined and capable', he devoted himself full time to expounding Georgeism—writing, debating, organizing deputations and addressing meetings. In 1910-36 he made several country tours, from 1926 in a donated model T Ford. He resigned as editor and secretary of the league in December 1953.

An indefatigable writer of letters to most newspapers in the State—the Sydney Morning Herald published about 220 in 1916-62—Huie also contributed articles and editorials, sometimes using pseudonyms. His style was 'that of the late Victorian era', wrote the Canberra Times, 'but his popularity with editors was the direct result of his clarity of writing'. He regarded land-value rating for local government in New South Wales as 'chief among his achievements'. He also crusaded for proportional representation, claiming credit for Carruthers' 1906 Local Government Act and the 1918 Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Act. But Huie's influence on these decisions is arguable.

At Ashfield on 1 October 1921 with Methodist forms, he had married a Maltese-born widow Annie Bertha Lark, née Bartlett (d.1948); they lived at Ashfield. Handsome, tall with trim beard and moustache, Huie was a relentless rather than a good speaker. He was a regular spruiker in the Sydney Domain; in later years gaunt, solemn and often barely audible, he attracted few listeners. Huie died on 7 November 1964 while visiting Lake Cargelligo and was buried there with Presbyterian forms. His estate was sworn for probate at £6139. In 1983 the league he served continues as the Association for Good Government.

Select Bibliography

  • Jill Roe (ed), Twentieth Century Sydney (Syd, 1980)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1897, 4, pp 633, 821
  • Standard, 15 Sept 1916, 15 Jan 1954, Nov, Dec 1964
  • Good Government, Mar 1966
  • Henry George League (Melbourne), Progress, Feb 1965
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 10 Mar 1922, 5 Dec 1964
  • Canberra Times, 9 Dec 1964
  • A. G. Huie, scrapbooks, and Single Tax League minute books (State Library of New South Wales)
  • private information.

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Huie, Alexander Gordon (1869–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/huie-alexander-gordon-6762/text11691, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 19 January 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

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