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Harold Victor Stirling (1904–1968)

by Charles Fahey

This article was published:

Harold Victor Stirling (1904-1968), politician, dairy-farmer and shire president, was born on 7 April 1904 at Carisbrook, Victoria, second child of Henry Stirling, dairy-farmer, and his wife Phillis, née Walker, both Victorian born. Harold's parents took advantage of the closer-settlement legislation and moved from Canary Island to Mead Estate, near Cohuna. Educated at Mead State and Kerang High schools, Harold joined the State Electricity Commission of Victoria and became a foreman. Although he had suffered ill health as a child, he was an enthusiastic sportsman—a runner, a cyclist, and 'clever' footballer for the Macorna and Union clubs. He also played in the Kerang and Mead brass bands. In later life he was president of the Union Football Club and a keen lawn bowler.

In 1929 Stirling took over his father's farm. On 11 September that year at the Anglican Church, Cohuna, he married Philippa Catherine Grills; they were to have three sons and a daughter. Involving himself in community affairs, he was a founder and president of the Young Farmers' Advisory Council and a member of the Cohuna Irrigators' Advisory Board. For nine years he chaired the committee of the Mead State School. He joined the Victorian Wheat and Woolgrowers' Association and served as State president (1949-52) of the Australian Primary Producers' Union, of which he was made a life member. A Cohuna shire councillor in 1944-59, he was shire president in 1956-57 and the council's delegate to the Murray Valley Development League.

Stirling joined the United Country Party in 1936 and was secretary of its Leitchville branch for eighteen years. He represented irrigators on the U.C.P.'s local district council and sat (1956-57) on the central council. In 1952 he won the seat of Swan Hill in the Legislative Assembly, a seat he was to hold until his death. During his political career he used his knowledge of local government to advance the interests of the municipalities in his electorate and vigorously sought new educational facilities for the children of his constituents. One of his proudest achievements was the establishment of Cohuna High School. As a politician who came from a district dependent on irrigation, he took a close interest in public works. He was a member (1955-64) and thrice chairman (1957, 1960 and 1963) of the parliamentary Public Works Committee and a member (1967-68) of the Meat Industry Committee.

In 1964 the Victorian Country Party rewarded Stirling for his services by appointing him its representative at Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conferences to be held in London, New Delhi and Ottawa. He died of cancer on 23 July 1968 at Kerang and was buried in the local cemetery with Methodist forms. His wife and their sons survived him. Politicians paid tribute to him, stressing his good humour and his close friendship with George Gibbs, the Liberal member (1955-67) for Portland, who had died in May: the comradeship of the two men, despite their political differences, reflected a mutual acknowledgment of each other's worth.

Select Bibliography

  • Parliamentary Debates (Victoria), 10 Sept 1968, p 22
  • Age (Melbourne), 24 July 1968
  • Bendigo Advertiser, 24 July 1968
  • Cohuna Farmers' Weekly, 26 July 1968
  • Kerang New Times, 26 July 1968.

Citation details

Charles Fahey, 'Stirling, Harold Victor (1904–1968)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

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