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Thompson, Charles Victor (1885–1968)

by John Atchison

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

Charles Victor Thompson (1885-1968), by G. A. Solomons, 1922

Charles Victor Thompson (1885-1968), by G. A. Solomons, 1922

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an24165434

Charles Victor Thompson (1885-1968), journalist and politician, was born on 10 September 1885 in Sydney, son of Charles Thompson, carpenter, and his wife Mary Annie, née Lewis, both native-born. Educated at Cleveland Street and other public schools, he became a journalist. After experience in 1903-10 at Narrabri, Murwillumbah and Albury, he joined the Tamworth Daily Observer in 1911 as senior reporter and, within months, was appointed editor. Over the next decade Thompson emerged as a skilled advocate of rural development. He transformed the Observer into the regional morning Northern Daily Leader, the principal newspaper of north-west New South Wales.

From 1919 Thompson was chief inspirer and organizer of the Northern New State Movement in New South Wales; he was secretary of the New State League and of its provisional executive committee. He launched the movement at Tamworth in 1920 and, in the tide of secessionist fervour, organized the first convention at Armidale in April 1921. General secretary of the All-Australia New State Movement and influential at its Albury convention, he also edited the New State Magazine. With (Sir) Earle Page, Thompson was significant in tying provincial newspaper support to the emerging Country Party.

In December 1922 he won the Federal seat of New England for the Country Party. He was chairman of the party's parliamentary propaganda committee and edited its Journal. A member (1926-27) of the joint select committee on Commonwealth electoral law and procedure, while president of the Australian Tobacco Growers Association he chaired the 1929-30 select committee on the tobacco growing industry. In 1934-37 he was party whip and parliamentary secretary; in 1937-40 he was minister without portfolio, variously assisting the treasurer and the ministers for repatriation, the interior, and commerce.

Compromise with the strong vested interests controlling political processes troubled Thompson; as secretary of the Federal Parliamentary New States Committee, he believed that there was 'no party flavour about this great national project'. In 1936 he had attacked the divisional organization of the Country Party and felt that the self-government movements should not have merged with it. He was unseated at the 1940 election by Joseph Palmer Abbott, former president of the Graziers' Association of New South Wales, who had Country Party endorsement.

Thompson returned to Tamworth to edit the Leader. A director and one of its largest shareholders, he moved in 1953 to Strathfield, Sydney, from where he wrote leading articles, not only on the New State movement for which his passion never abated, but also on the border rivers and Darling basin schemes. He retired from the Leader's board in 1965. During a fifty-seven-year association with the paper, he contributed over 15,000 articles.

On 24 June 1907 at Campbelltown Methodist parsonage, New South Wales, Thompson had married Emma Minnie Elizabeth Bell. Survived by their daughter, he died at Ashfield on 11 May 1968 and was cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Milliss, City on the Peel (Syd, 1980)
  • U. Ellis, The Country Party (Melb, 1958)
  • U. Ellis, A History of the Australian Country Party (Melb, 1963)
  • Armidale Historical Society, Journal and Proceedings, 28 (1985)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Dec 1922, 13 May 1968
  • Armidale Express, 15 Dec 1922
  • Northern Daily Leader, 13 May 1968.

Citation details

John Atchison, 'Thompson, Charles Victor (1885–1968)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/thompson-charles-victor-8782/text15397, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 25 November 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

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