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Horace Keyworth Nock (1879–1958)

by Ian Carnell

This article was published:

Horace Keyworth Nock (1879-1958), by Freeman & Co. , 1938

Horace Keyworth Nock (1879-1958), by Freeman & Co. , 1938

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an24152728

Horace Keyworth Nock (1879-1958), farmer, politician and company director, was born on 26 October 1879 at Salisbury, South Australia, son of Joseph Nock, storekeeper, and his second wife Eliza (Ellie) Jane, née Keyworth. After attending Tarlee State School and Prince Alfred College, Adelaide, he joined his father's store and wheatbuying business. Nock ran the business after his father's death in 1904, until 1914. He then bought a grazing property, Nelungaloo, near Parkes, New South Wales, and despite early adversity built up a prosperous mixed farm, establishing an English Leicester sheep stud in 1917. In 1924 he was elected to the executive of the Farmers and Settlers' Association of New South Wales, and was its president in 1928-32 and treasurer from 1938 until his death.

Nock was elected to the House of Representatives in 1931 as Country Party representative for Riverina. He was temporary chairman of committees (November 1935–September 1937), and secretary and whip of the Country Party in 1937. When A. G. Cameron led the party into the Menzies ministry in March 1940, Nock was appointed minister without portfolio in charge of external territories; he was, however, defeated at the September election. He stood unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1943.

Grey-haired and keen-eyed, with wild eyebrows and bristling moustache above an old-fashioned stovepipe collar, Nock was widely known to farmers (the 'Cockies' Patron Saint') and sought out on agricultural issues. A vigorous and persistent advocate for rural interests, always well-armed with figures, Nock was an effective watchdog over various tariffs. He was a lobbyist for the appointment of the Gepp commission on the wheat, flour and bread industries (1932); for the introduction of a home consumption price for wheat (1938); and for abolition of the 'wool draft' (a buyer's discount worth £500,000 a year to producers).

The F.S.A. was active on many issues, and Nock was closely involved in much that it did, particularly as a director of its official organ, the Land. A member of the Australian Wheatgrowers' Federation and a director of the Australian Pastoral Research Trust, he was also a member of the Australian Wool Board (1939-48) and the Australian Wool Council and represented Australia at the International Wool Secretariat (1948). He was chairman of directors of a chain of country newspapers and radio stations.

In 1946, with the backing of the F.S.A. and various rural groups, Nock's company, Nelungaloo Pty Ltd, mounted a notable challenge in the High Court of Australia to the Commonwealth's power of compulsory acquisition of wheat crops. Nock argued that, under the constitutional requirement that acquisition be on 'just terms', growers should be paid the export price (which was higher than the domestic) for the whole crop. It was believed that £30 million was at stake for growers. The case did not succeed, and after prolonged litigation leave to appeal to the Privy Council was refused. However, the case provided some of the impetus for Commonwealth and State wheat industry stabilization Acts of 1954, which involved a compensation formula agreed to by growers.

Nonconformist in religion, Nock showed great kindness to acquaintances with troubles. He won multiple trophies for sheep, crops and flowers. A remarkably active and vigorous man, he collapsed on his way to a meeting of the F.S.A. and died on 2 August 1958 in Sydney Hospital; he was cremated after a state funeral. On 19 February 1908 at Tarlee, South Australia, he had married Marcia Nessie Clarke (d.1956). Two sons and a daughter survived him. His estate was sworn for probate at £88,730.

Select Bibliography

  • W. A. Bayley, History of the Farmers and Settlers' Association of N.S.W. (Syd, 1957)
  • U. R. Ellis, A History of the Australian Country Party (Melb, 1963)
  • People (Sydney), 27 Jan 1954
  • Pastoral Review, 19 Aug 1958
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Aug 1958
  • Nock papers (National Library of Australia).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Ian Carnell, 'Nock, Horace Keyworth (1879–1958)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 20 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

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