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Moore, Arthur Claude (1898–1978)

by Roger Bell and Andrew Honey

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

Arthur Claude Moore (1898-1978), public servant and businessman, was born on 1 March 1898 at Strathbogie, Victoria, eighth child of Ballarat-born parents Reuben Edward Moore, farmer, and his wife Mary, née Davis. After Mary's death, Arthur and his sister Marguerite were brought up by 'Granny Andersen' at Moonee Ponds, Melbourne, where they attended state school. Arthur began work as a junior clerk in the Victorian Railways and studied accountancy at night (licentiate Commonwealth Institute of Accountants, 1924). In May 1917 he joined the New South Wales office of the Commonwealth Department of Trade and Customs as a clerk in the statistical branch. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 21 May 1918 and joined the 7th Australian Light Horse Regiment. The unit occupied the Gallipoli Peninsula from December 1918 to January 1919.

Discharged in Sydney on 19 August 1919, Moore returned to Trade and Customs, transferred to the landing branch in 1922 and moved to central staff, Melbourne, in 1924. At St Brigid's Catholic Church, North Fitzroy, on 14 February 1925 he married Stella Helena Hogan, a 24-year-old saleswoman; they were to have three children (only one of whom survived infancy). He was among the first public servants to move to Canberra; the family home at Ainslie was the second in that suburb and was surrounded by bush.

By July 1932 Moore was a third division clerk in the accounts branch, but his work while accompanying the delegation to the Imperial Economic Conference, Ottawa, ensured him a prominent part in ensuing trade negotiations. He went with Attorney-General (Sir) John Latham's mission to Japan in 1934, and became principal adviser to Sir Henry Gullett, minister in charge of trade treaties. Moore helped to write the trade requests—rejected by the United States of America in February 1935—that set off the trade diversion crisis. Promoted assistant comptroller-general (tariff) in March 1935, he advised trade delegations to London, led by Prime Minister Joe Lyons (1935) and (Sir) Earle Page (1938). The latter delegation signed a bilateral agreement with Britain in July 1938. Moore was appointed C.B.E. that year. Gullett observed: he 'has at least held his own with the ablest men of the various British public services with whom he had so much contact'.

As well as carrying out his customs duties, Moore was director (1941-46), division of import procurement, which also administered Lend-Lease. He oversaw the flow of essential industrial goods and war matériel. The War Cabinet approved his plan for a shipping supply council to put to better use ships, wharfs, transport and stores. He replaced Lewis Macgregor as director-general, Commonwealth of Australia War Supplies Procurement, in Washington in 1944. With the end of Lend-Lease, settlement negotiations with the U.S.A. reached a stalemate by early 1946: Moore and Richard Keane, minister for trade and customs, argued that Australia had incurred no debts from the wartime agreement. Keane's death in April allowed direct intervention by Prime Minister Ben Chifley, who rapidly reached a compromise settlement.

Moore claimed to have married Olga Badik (d.1978), a 28-year-old Canadian, on 15 April 1946 in New York. After resigning from the public service in July, he persuaded the Coca-Cola Export Corporation to sell its New South Wales bottling franchise which was bought next year by a Sydney firm; Moore was chairman and managing director of the renamed company, Coca-Cola Bottlers (Sydney) Pty Ltd, until December 1954. His other business interests included a carbon processing factory and fertiliser plant at Chullora, and a bauxite and dolomite mine at Mount Fairy. He was a consultant (1955-57) to Ezra Norton's Truth and Sportsman Ltd.

President (1958) and a life member of the Wine and Food Society of New South Wales, Moore was friendly with well-known Sydney artists, among them John Olsen and (Sir) William Dobell, and the dealer Rudy Komon. He belonged to the Cronulla Returned Servicemen's League Memorial Club and the Australian Jockey Club. In his seventies he drove from Nowra to Sydney on racedays; he owned racehorses and brood mares in partnership with Anthony Hordern. He had played Australian Rules football in his twenties, and was later a weekend golfer. Survived by the two sons by his second wife, Moore died on 4 October 1978 at St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst, and was cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • E. Page, Truant Surgeon, A. Mozley (ed) (Syd, 1963)
  • R. A. Esthus, From Enmity to Alliance (Melb, 1965)
  • S. J. Butlin and C. B. Schedvin, War Economy 1942-1945 (Canb, 1977)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 1 Jan 1938, 5 May 1939, 1 July 1945, 1, 2 July 1946, 6, 7 Oct 1978
  • G. Nelson, 'History of Coca-Cola in Australia' (Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd archives, Sydney)
  • A. C. Moore papers CP117/3 (National Archives of Australia)
  • family papers (privately held)
  • private information.

Citation details

Roger Bell and Andrew Honey, 'Moore, Arthur Claude (1898–1978)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/moore-arthur-claude-11153/text19867, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 19 April 2019.

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

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