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Williams, Harold Parkyn (1881–1933)

by Margot Kerley

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

Harold Parkyn Williams (1881-1933), journalist and broadcasting pioneer, was born on 24 June 1881 at Ipswich, Queensland, son of Rev. William Henry Williams, Wesleyan clergyman, and his wife Emma, née Carroll, both English born. After leaving school, he briefly joined a firm of warehousemen, then trained as a journalist on country newspapers in New South Wales. He was editor of the Bathurst National Advocate and later the Bathurst Times. On 25 February 1911 he married Ethel Elizabeth Waite with Methodist forms at Neutral Bay, Sydney. He loved singing and conducted choral societies.

In 1911 he became foundation editor and manager of the Land, the weekly newspaper of the Farmers and Settlers' Association of New South Wales, which he ran for a decade. The paper's 'vigorous cartoons and spirited political articles gave new direction to the association's activities' and reflected Williams's commitment to the formation of an effective country party. During the 1922 elections he was appointed foundation general secretary of the Australian Country Party and he was to play an important part in subsequent election campaigns. Williams travelled extensively. In North and South America and South Africa on behalf of the Associated Farmers' Federation of Australia, he had investigated the formation of a world wheat pool in 1919 and he explored markets for the Australian Meat Council in 1923.

In 1924 Williams joined the Sydney 'A class' radio station 2FC and became assistant manager of New South Wales Broadcasting Ltd. When the Australian Broadcasting Co. took over in 1928 he was appointed director of news, sporting and utility services, and gave radio commentary on the news. In August 1932 he was appointed general manager of the newly established Australian Broadcasting Commission, at a salary of £2000 per annum. In a statement made at this time he declared that 'Australians should realize that they had pioneered many aspects of broadcasting, especially in the provision of utility services and in the description of sporting and other events'. He was one of the first to initiate eyewitness descriptions of horse-races by radio and in 1930 proposed cable coverage of Test cricket matches in England. As manager he prepared and presented the A.B.C.'s case before the royal commission on performing rights (1932-33).

Active in Australian Country Party and Nationalist negotiations which arranged the formation of the Bruce-Page ministry, Williams found that his political affiliations led to charges that he was merely a United Australia Party appointee. On 15 September 1932 Jack Beasley gave notice in the House of Representatives that, if Labor won government, Williams should prepare to 'pack up his traps and get out rather than be pushed out'. Survived by his wife and daughter, Williams died of coronary vascular disease on 4 March 1933 at his Double Bay home, Sydney, and was cremated. He was remembered for his immense simplicity and lack of affectation, and for his ability, courtesy and sense of fairness.

Select Bibliography

  • U. Ellis, A History of the Australian Country Party (Melb, 1963)
  • D. Aitkin, The Country Party in New South Wales (Canb, 1972)
  • A. W. Thomas, Broadcast and Be Damned (Melb, 1980)
  • K. S. Inglis, This is the ABC (Melb, 1983)
  • Land (Sydney), 27 Jan 1911
  • Argus (Melbourne), 6, 12 Aug 1932
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 6, 7 Mar 1933.

Citation details

Margot Kerley, 'Williams, Harold Parkyn (1881–1933)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/williams-harold-parkyn-9112/text16069, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 25 May 2019.

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

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