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Mack, Sir Ronald William (Ron) (1904–1968)

by Geoffrey Serle

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Sir Ronald William (Ron) Mack (1904-1968), accountant and politician, was born on 20 May 1904 at Warrnambool, Victoria, son of Victorian-born parents Frederick David Mack, wool and skin buyer, and his wife Elizabeth Edith, née Hatton. Ron's grandfather Joseph Mack had arrived at Warrnambool in 1851, practised as an accountant and served as shire secretary. Macks occupied the same sandstone house in the town for more than a century. Ron was educated at Warrnambool High School. He practised (from 1927) as an accountant, soon operated the local branch of Young & Outhwaite (which he eventually bought), and was a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. At the registry office, Collins Street, Melbourne, on 16 February 1935 he married Helen Isabel Janet Lindsay, née Nicol (d.1957), a 38-year-old divorcee. He joined the Militia and in 1939-40 was a city councillor.

On 29 May 1940 Mack enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Based in the Middle East from March 1941, he rose to sergeant and was twice mentioned in dispatches for his work with the 9th Division Special Group which trained reinforcements. He was transferred to the 2nd/24th Battalion in September 1942 and promoted acting company sergeant major. On 25 October, at the battle of El Alamein, he was severely wounded in the face. Repatriated in December, he spent most of the following year in hospital and eventually lost his right eye. He was discharged from the A.I.F. on 7 December 1943.

Returning to his home town, Mack became secretary of the Warrnambool Permanent Building and Investment Society and resumed the practice of accountancy, forming Mack, Lohrey & Purcell. He involved himself heartily in civic and sporting activities, and was secretary (later president) of the Warrnambool Club. As president of the local branch of the Liberal Party, he was endorsed in 1947 as its candidate for the seat of Warrnambool in the Legislative Assembly, but withdrew in favour of the Country Party nominee. Elected in May 1950, Mack lost the seat in December 1952. In June 1955, however, he was elected to the Legislative Council for Western Province. He was chairman of committees (1958-61) and chairman (1959-61) of parliament's population distribution committee. As minister for health (from 26 July 1961 to 14 September 1965) in (Sir) Henry Bolte's governments, he chiefly concerned himself with the mentally ill and the aged. He then succeeded Sir Gordon McArthur as president of the Legislative Council and in 1967 was consequently knighted, Warrnambool's first.

About 5 ft 7 ins (170 cm) tall, with a fair complexion and blue eyes, Mack was dapper and energetic. He spoke in a manner variously described as rich, manly, booming, and provocative of interjections. Yet, he was popular as a parliamentarian, considerate to his opponents, neither bitter nor acrimonious, but tolerant and full of common sense. His chief recreations were fishing and shooting.

On 20 September 1958 at St James's Old Cathedral, West Melbourne, Mack had married with Anglican rites Winifred Helen Crutchfield, née Campion, a 49-year-old widow and a teacher of commerce. Sir Ronald died of cancer on 12 February 1968 in his flat at Hawthorn; he was accorded a state funeral and was buried in Warrnambool cemetery. His wife survived him, as did the son of his first marriage.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. Sayers and P. L. Yule, By These We Flourish (Melb, 1969)
  • C. E. Sayers, Of Many Things (Olinda, Vic, 1972)
  • Parliamentary Debates (Victoria), 20 Feb 1968, p 3209
  • Age (Melbourne)
  • 13 Feb 1968
  • Warrnambool Standard, 13 Feb 1968.

Citation details

Geoffrey Serle, 'Mack, Sir Ronald William (Ron) (1904–1968)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mack-sir-ronald-william-ron-10973/text19505, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 13 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

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