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Morgan, Godfrey (1875–1957)

by J. C. H. Gill

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

Godfrey Morgan (1875-1957), journalist, grazier and politician, was born on 29 July 1875 at Landsborough, Victoria, second surviving son of English parents Godfrey Morgan, printer and later newspaper proprietor at Donald, and his wife Mary Elizabeth, née Williamson. Young Godfrey was educated at Coodie's and Hawthorn colleges, Melbourne. When his father died in 1891, he became a reporter and manager of the Donald Times and three years later its editor and proprietor. He organized and founded the Victorian Provincial Newspapers' Association and twice held office as its president. On 8 December 1896 Morgan married Annie Jane Pace at Donald.

Responding to a Queensland government call for settlers to take up prickly-pear-infested selections, he took up 7000 acres (2833 ha) on the Condamine River near the town of Condamine. The selection, called Arubial, was occupied by his family in 1908. Inexperienced in pastoral pursuits, Morgan battled to turn his selection from virgin scrub into prime grazing land, introducing irrigation to offset drought. He extended his land holdings, bred and judged Shorthorn cattle and Corriedale sheep and became an authority on the grazing industry and related matters. Keenly interested in bloodstock horses, he gained an insight into horse-racing and its administration; his horses won many races in Brisbane. In 1933-39 he was president of the Queensland Breeders', Owners' and Trainers' Association.

In 1909 Morgan was elected to the Murilla Shire Council at Miles and on 2 October he won Murilla as a ministerial supporter in the State elections. His political career was exemplified by faithful service to his rural electorate, by his indefatigable work on solving problems of prickly-pear-infestation, of lack of roads and water. His attendance on horseback at waterhole meetings and annual picnics led to the view that 'the Murilla electorate was to Godfrey Morgan the whole world'.

After fourteen years of parliamentary opposition, Morgan expected to be given the lands portfolio when A. E. Moore led the Country and Progressive National Party to power in 1929. However Moore wanted a tough man for a tough portfolio, so Morgan became secretary for railways (1929-32) and minister for transport (1932).

Although the Moore government lost power in June 1932, Morgan retained his seat and unmercifully badgered the Forgan Smith Labor government; he was one of the party's more able debaters. In 1935 he won the new electorate of Dalby, but broke away from the C.P.N.P. Following redoubled efforts by Labor he lost the 1938 election as a Country and United Australia Party candidate. Although he then retired from politics the Country Party drive he started in 1935 continued to gain impetus.

Resident in Brisbane now, Morgan visited Arubial periodically and maintained his interest in horse-racing. He died in St Martin's private hospital, Brisbane, on 29 August 1957, survived by his wife, two daughters and four sons, and was cremated with Church of England rites after a state funeral.

A contemporary regarded Morgan as a politician with strong convictions and uncompromising views, a genial companion with a keen appreciation of a joke.

Select Bibliography

  • C. A. Bernays, Queensland—Our Seventh Political Decade, 1920-1930 (Syd, 1931)
  • H. M. Ferguson, A History of Tara and District 1840-1960 (Brisb, 1961)
  • C. Lack (ed), Three Decades of Queensland Political History, 1929-1960 (Brisb, 1962)
  • G. Morgan, We are Borne on as a River (My First Seventy Years) (Brisb, 1971)
  • Queensland Country Life, 5 Sept 1957
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 30 Aug 1957
  • Morgan family papers (privately held).

Citation details

J. C. H. Gill, 'Morgan, Godfrey (1875–1957)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/morgan-godfrey-747/text13385, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 24 February 2019.

This article has been amended since its original publication. View Original

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

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