Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Moore, Arthur Edward (1876–1963)

by B. J. Costar

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

Arthur Edward Moore (1876-1963), farmer and premier, was born on 9 February 1876 at Napier, New Zealand, son of Edward Moore, English banker, and his New Zealand-born wife Emma Bayley, née Newman. Eldest of three children, he attended Akaroa State School and, in 1887-92, Melbourne Church of England Grammar School when his father was general manager of the Union Bank of Australia Ltd, Melbourne. Failing to matriculate, he sought farming experience and worked in a vineyard while his family settled in London. His father visited Melbourne in 1897 and assisted him to purchase Waipawa, a 1000-acre (405 ha) wheat and dairy property at Brymaroo near Jondaryan on Queensland's Darling Downs. On 12 April 1899, in St James' Church, Toowoomba, Arthur married Mary Eva ('Nellie') Warner, daughter of a local Anglican clergyman.

Moore's farming was not initially prosperous, but his financial position gradually improved as hard work transformed the property. He also made a commercial success of two cheese factories. At first the demands of the farm left little time for other activities, but in 1905 he was elected to the Rosalie Shire Council and was its chairman in 1911-29. In 1913 he was elected to the executive of the Local Authorities' Association of Queensland and served several terms as vice-president and president in the 1920s.

Moore entered State parliament in 1915 when, as a Farmers' Union candidate, he defeated the incumbent Liberal in the assembly seat of Aubigny, which he was to hold until his retirement. His election coincided with the defeat of the Denham Liberal government and the commencement of fourteen years of Labor rule. Labor's dominance was facilitated by the chronic divisions within and among the conservative parties. Leaders changed with alarming regularity, explaining Moore's rise to the position of deputy Opposition leader in 1920. He welcomed the formation in 1925 of the Country and Progressive National Party, an amalgam of National and Country Party groups. Because of personal and factional rivalries, the C.P.N.P.'s birth was traumatic and its future unassured; which is perhaps why the able, consensual, but somewhat retiring Moore gained preferment as leader that year.

Some power-brokers within the C.P.N.P. saw Moore as a conciliatory, stop-gap leader to be replaced later by someone more dynamic. His retention of the leadership can be explained by the new party's good showing at the 1926 State election and by his handling of the divisive A. C. Elphinstone. Aided by economic stagnation, the disturbed industrial situation and by internal strife within the Labor Party, Moore campaigned skilfully and debated forcefully during the 1929 campaign and in May led his party to victory over William McCormack's Labor government—Moore's greatest political achievement.

He assumed the premiership with the enthusiasm and good will of primary industry and commercial groups throughout the State. Yet, because of the great Depression, his government lay in ruins only three years later. Many of the policies he adopted, in a vain attempt to ameliorate the economic collapse, both inflamed his traditional opponents and alienated his supporters. He managed to unite the labour movement against him by alterations to the conciliation and arbitration system, by his enthusiastic support for the deflationary Premiers' Plan and by his pursuit of E. G. Theodore over the Mungana scandal. On the other hand, increases in personal income tax to fund Queensland unemployment relief measures and his inability to re-establish the Legislative Council lost him support among business and commercial interests. Moore also had a cabinet which was inexperienced and, with one or two exceptions, inept. Despite a favourable electoral redistribution in 1931, his government was defeated in June 1932 by a revived Labor Party led by William Forgan Smith.

Moore again became Opposition leader, but at the 1935 election the Labor Party won such an overwhelming victory that the C.P.N.P. disintegrated. The Country Party, which emerged as a separate entity in March 1936, agreed to embrace the country C.P.N.P. parliamentarians provided Moore was replaced as leader. Rather than provoke division Moore stood aside and was replaced in 1937 by E. B. Maher. He remained on the Opposition front-bench until he retired from parliament on 28 March 1941.

Moore was active in a wide range of business and community organizations. He served on the boards of the Australian Mutual Provident Society (1938-51) and Queensland Trustees Ltd (1937-49). He maintained long associations with the Red Cross Society, the Queensland Country Women's Association (as returning officer) and the Queensland Bush Nursing Assocation. In 1958 he was appointed C.M.G. Moore was a devout Anglican benefactor, who prayed daily and who was actively involved in Church affairs from 1913 until his death. He was a tall, handsome man possessed of a gentle sense of humour which he often directed against himself. He was well liked by colleagues on both sides of politics and all attest to his scrupulous honesty.

After his period as premier he did not return to the farm but in 1935 purchased Brisbane's second-oldest residence, Bulimba House (built 1849). He lived there and at his Caloundra seaside cottage until his death. Moore became a wealthy man through inheritance and wise investments. He and his wife nevertheless continued to lead quiet, unpretentious lives. His hobbies were the simple ones of gardening, fishing and reading.

Arthur Moore died in St Martin's Hospital, Brisbane, on 7 January 1963. His wife and two of their three sons survived him. He was cremated after a State funeral at St John's Anglican Cathedral. He left an estate valued for probate at £154,778.

Select Bibliography

  • C. A. Bernays, Queensland—Our Seventh Political Decade, 1920-1930 (Syd, 1931)
  • A. J. Campbell, Memoirs of the Country Party in Queensland 1920-1974 (Brisb, 1975)
  • B. J. Costar, ‘Arthur Edward Moore: odd man in’, in D. J. Murphy and R. B. Joyce (eds), Queensland Political Portraits—1859-1952 (Brisb, 1978)
  • Parliamentary Debates (Queensland), 1963, p 26
  • Elector, 7, no 2, 15 Apr 1933
  • Australian Country Party Monthly Journal, 3, no 29, June 1936
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 8 Jan 1963
  • B. J. Costar, Labor, Politics and Unemployment: Queensland During the Great Depression (Ph.D. thesis, University of Queensland, 1981)
  • private information.

Citation details

B. J. Costar, 'Moore, Arthur Edward (1876–1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/moore-arthur-edward-7632/text13343, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 24 October 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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