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Minogue, Henry (1897–1947)

by John Arnold and Colin H. Jory

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

This is a shared entry with Michael Andrew Minogue

Michael Andrew Minogue (1862-1923), public servant, and Henry Minogue (1897-1947), barrister, were father and son. Michael Andrew was born on 20 November 1862 near Kyneton, Victoria, son of James Minogue, farmer, and his wife Catherine, née McGrath, both Irish born. After education at the local Catholic school and the Kyneton Collegiate School, Minogue joined the Victorian Public Service aged 14. Except for three years as an accountant with the Department of Mines and Water Supply, he spent his whole career with the Department of Treasury, working his way through its ranks to the position of under-treasurer in August 1908. He remained head of the department until his retirement in 1922, serving the State with distinction.

A prominent Catholic layman and 'indisputably an Irishman', Minogue had an unconventionally 'breezy' and independent style, yet he exerted great influence. Roy Bridges described him as a 'genius for finance' and referred to the 'Ministry's implicit reliance on his guidance'. He had advanced views on government spending, believing that in times of stress more money should be spent than in times of plenty. He drafted the Melbourne tramways bill, passed in 1918, which resulted in the state takeover of the metropolitan tramway system.

Minogue was a keen bushwalker who trekked through much of Victoria. His colleagues considered that the greatest monument to his work was his plan for financing the construction of roads in outback districts. In 1912 he was granted leave of absence from the Treasury for ill health. He travelled to Europe and while in London began negotiations for the conversion of a major Victorian loan due in the following year. When he retired early, suffering from angina, he was appointed to the newly formed State Tourism Committee but at its first meeting on 16 February 1923 he collapsed and died. He was survived by his wife Amelia, née Bouchier, whom he had married on 28 October 1891, five sons and two daughters. After a requiem Mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Hawthorn, attended by politicians of all parties, he was buried in Burwood cemetery.

Henry, his second son, was born on 4 January 1897 at Hawthorn, Melbourne. He was educated at Xavier College where he was dux in 1914. On leaving school he volunteered for war service but was rejected on medical grounds. Assisted by an Ormond College exhibition he studied at the University of Melbourne (LL.B., 1921), becoming in 1916 co-winner of the Mollison scholarship for French.

During his student days Minogue was active in both literary and political affairs. He contributed to and was an assistant editor of Melbourne University Magazine and was for a time literary editor of the Catholic Advocate. He was involved in the wave of Catholic social militancy when, from 1911, movements aimed at promoting distinctively Catholic social thought and action emerged. Minogue became active in the Catholic Workers' Association, the Catholic Democrat Club and the Leo Guild. In 1917 a number of young men associated with the Leo Guild and the Democrat Club launched Australia: a Review of the Month, a Catholic journal of social and literary comment. As founding editor Minogue attacked capitalist individualism and promoted the corporate ideal—'the right of every man in industry to a share in the profits'. An ardent anti-conscriptionist and staunch supporter of Archbishop Mannix, he resigned after being tried and fined for publication in May 1918 of an article 'Peace: the unwooed goddess', which was judged to be disloyal. The magazine ceased publication in 1920.

Admitted to the Bar in 1922, Minogue pursued a successful legal career. He married Thelma Constance Townsend Bucknill on 24 October 1939 at St Patrick's Cathedral. In World War II he was commissioned captain in the Army Service Corps, but did not see overseas service. He died of malignant hypertension at Yackandandah on 8 January 1947 and was buried in Burwood cemetery. His wife and two sons survived him.

Henry Minogue was a solidly built, dark-haired man with a booming voice and a jovial, kind and exuberant personality. He was a wit and raconteur, a linguist who spoke French, Italian and Spanish fluently and a member of the Vintage and Oakland Hunt clubs. After 1920 he took no further part in radical or political activities, nor was he prominent in any Catholic organization, although he remained a devout Catholic all his life. His professional integrity was praised by colleagues who remembered his common sense, fairness, sincerity and frankness.

Select Bibliography

  • R. H. Croll, I Recall (Melb, 1939)
  • R. Bridges, That Yesterday was Home (Syd, 1948)
  • U. M. L. Bygott, With Pen and Tongue (Melb, 1980)
  • Xavier College, Xaverian, 10, no 4, Dec 1947
  • C. E. Close, The Organisation of the Catholic Laity in Victoria 1911-1930 (M.A. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1972)
  • C. H. Jory, The Campion Era: the Development of Catholic Social Idealism in Australia 1929-1939 (M.A. thesis, Australian National University, 1974)
  • Punch (Melbourne), 29 Apr 1915
  • Argus (Melbourne), 17 Feb 1923, 10 Jan 1947
  • Advocate (Melbourne), 22 Feb 1923
  • Age (Melbourne), 10 Jan 1947
  • Minogue biography file (State Library of Victoria).

Citation details

John Arnold and Colin H. Jory, 'Minogue, Henry (1897–1947)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/minogue-henry-7797/text13279, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 20 January 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

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