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Adermann, Sir Charles Frederick (1896–1979)

by Margaret Bridson Cribb

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Sir Charles Frederick Adermann (1896-1979), farmer and politician, was born on 3 August 1896 at Vernor Siding, near Lowood, Queensland, eighth child of Carl Friederich Adermann, farmer, and his wife Emilie, née Litzow, both migrants from Germany. Having settled at Wooroolin, in 1909 the Adermanns founded the first congregation of the Churches of Christ in the Kingaroy district. Educated at Lowood and Wooroolin State schools to age 13, Charles later took correspondence courses in farm management. He tried to join the Australian Imperial Force in 1916 when he learned that his brother Robert had been killed in action, but was rejected on medical grounds.

Working on his parents' farm, Adermann emerged as a primary industry leader. Farmers in the South Burnett region had turned to peanut-growing, seeking an alternative cash crop to maize. Increased production led to a sharp reduction in price during the 1924 season. The farmers refused to sell and approached the State government under the terms of the Primary Products Pools Act (1922-23) to form a Peanut (later Peanut Marketing) Board. Chairman of the board in 1925-31 and 1934-52, Adermann presided over the gradual stabilization of the industry: through a compulsory collective marketing system, the board treated, stored and sold annual crops on behalf of growers. On 7 April 1926 at St Andrew's Anglican Church, Wooroolin, Adermann had married Mildred Turner. From 1931 they worked their own farm in the district. In 1938, as 'Uncle John', Adermann began his popular Sunday-School broadcasts on radio 4SB, hoping that 'a children's session of this type . . . would have a tendency to encourage others to read the word of God'. He was chairman of the local wartime patriotic fund and of Kingaroy Shire Council in 1939-46.

Convinced that farmers needed their own political representation, in 1943 Adermann had won the Federal seat of Maranoa for the Country Party. After a redistribution in 1949, his electorate was Fisher. His parliamentary appointments included deputy-speaker (1950 and 1955-56) and chairman of committees (1950-58), before he was chosen in 1958 to be minister for primary industry in the coalition government of (Sir) Robert Menzies. In this role Adermann became prominent in his party's successful push for further subsidies, grants and other assistance to rural producers. One beneficiary was the ailing Queensland ginger industry. Deputy-leader of the parliamentary Country Party for three years from 1964, he was appointed a privy counsellor in 1966 and K.B.E. in 1971. His ministerial term had ended in 1967 and he retired from parliament in 1972; his son Albert Evan succeeded him as member for Fisher. Charles's brother Ernest Philip had represented New Plymouth in the New Zealand parliament in 1943-66.

'Lean and with lanky dark hair', his face lined and tanned in middle age, Adermann was devoted to his family. He gave practical expression to two powerful forces: his staunch Christian faith, which ever buoyed him, and his love of the land and farming. He continued his 'Uncle John' programmes until late in life and had been president of the Queensland and federal conferences of the Churches of Christ. As a farmer, he was typical of the best of his era: honest, loyal, efficient and hard working. His achievements in politics had been solid, although he was not overly ambitious. A robust fighter in committee and party rooms, he recalled with pride the fifty Acts he had helped to place on the statute books on behalf of Australia's primary producers. Energetic, kind and compassionate, he was a dedicated community worker and became a life member of Kingaroy Rotary Club; he enjoyed watching Test cricket and was a competent lawn bowler. Sir Charles died on 9 May 1979 at Dalby; after a state funeral he was buried in Taabinga cemetery, Kingaroy; his wife, two sons and two daughters survived him. Paying tribute to him, Queensland Premier (Sir) Joh Bjelke-Petersen credited Adermann's encouragement as the stimulus for his own political career.

Select Bibliography

  • J. E. Murphy and E. W. Easton, Wilderness to Wealth (Brisb, 1950)
  • Historical Society of Queensland, Journal, 5, no 1, 1953, p 833
  • Bulletin, 30 Dec 1959
  • Queensland Country Life, 16 May 1968, 27 Sept 1979
  • Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 29 Aug 1943, 3 Oct 1971
  • Townsville Daily Bulletin, 10 May 1979
  • South Burnett Times, 16 May 1979
  • private information.

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Citation details

Margaret Bridson Cribb, 'Adermann, Sir Charles Frederick (1896–1979)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 1 August 2021.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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