William John McKell: Boilermaker, Premier, Governor-General
William McKell, the long-serving Labor premier of New South Wales (1941-47), was described by Neville Wran as 'perhaps the most significant political figure in the history of NSW'. He played a central role in creating the modern Labor Party, and his efforts to mould the party into a pragmatic, electorally successful political machine have had an enduring influence.
McKell's long and influential career in public life began after the momentous 1916 split in the ALP, when he became the youngest member of state parliament after the ensuing election. Before he turned thirty he was a government minister and, after winning the party leadership in 1939, he led Labor to victory in 1941. As wartime premier McKell balanced the needs of the war economy with a practical program of social reform. After six years as premier he made the controversial decision to accept Prime Minister Chifley's invitation to become governor-general, a post he filled until 1953.
In this first full-length biography of William McKell in nearly thirty years, Christopher Cunneen provides a vivid portrait of the development of this important and in some ways enigmatic Labor figure, and an insight into New South Wales politics during a key period in twentieth century history.
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appointment April article in ADB August Australian Labor Party Australian Worker became Bede Nairn Betty McKell collection Big Fella Bill Billy Boilermakers branch Cabinet Canberra Candelo candidates caucus CC interview Chifley Clune Commonwealth conference conscription conservative cricket Cunneen Curtin December Despite election electorate Evatt executive February federal governor-general Heffron Holman Hughes Ibid Industrial Jack Lang January John July June Kelly Labor Council Labor Daily Labor government Labor Party Lang's later leader Legislative Council March Martha McGirr McGowen McTiernan meeting Melbourne ment Menzies ministry ML MSS Nairn National November NSWPD October Opposition organisation parliament parliamentary party's political politician portfolio preselection prime minister Redfern reform Reg Downing reported seat secretary September Sir William McKell Smith's Weekly South Wales Spearritt and Hinton speech Storey Street Sunday Telegraph Sydney Sydney Cricket Ground Sydney Turf Club tion trade union Trades Hall vote