1953 Kahibah state by-election

A by-election was held for the New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat of Kahibah on 31 October 1953. It was triggered by the forced resignation of Labor MLA Joshua Arthur,[1] after a Royal Commission found his dealings with Reginald Doyle were improper.[2] and was won by independent candidate Tom Armstrong.[3]

Background edit

Joshua Arthur had been the Labor member for Kahibah and its predecessor seat of Hamilton since 1935. He had been a minister in the McGirr government, serving as Minister for Tourist Activities and Immigration from 1949 to 1950, before being promoted to Secretary for Mines and Minister for Immigration.

On 9 February 1953, William Wentworth, a NSW member of federal parliament, aired allegations concerning Arthur's associations with Reginald Doyle, a Newcastle-based conman who was wanted on fraud charges.[4] Arthur voluntarily stood down as a minister while declaring he would fight to clear his name, and the state government set up a Royal Commission into the allegations,[5] to be conducted by Judge George Amsberg of the District Court. Amsberg's report, handed down in August after several months of hearings, found that Arthur had acted improperly but not corruptly in his dealings with Doyle.[2]

In the immediate wake of the Royal Commission's findings, Arthur announced on 20 August that he would resign as member for Kahibah, but would contest the resulting by-election. The matter of his continued membership of the Labor was initially undecided, but when it became clear that the state executive would not support him, Arthur announced that he would resign from the party and not contest the by-election. This was insufficient for the executive, who rejected his resignation and formally expelled him from the party on 22 August.[6]

Candidates edit

Five candidates nominated for the by-election.

The Labor candidate for the by-election was Joshua Arthur Sr., the 71-year-old father of the outgoing member. His nomination and eventual victory in the preselection ballot was widely considered a surprise. There was reported concern within the Labor Party about his electability in the wake of the Doyle scandal, but a rumored move to overturn the result did not eventuate. The campaign was heavily tied to the former member; not only was his father the Labor candidate, but his wife served as campaign manager.

Tom Armstrong, a Newcastle councillor, former mayor, and prominent union official, contested the seat as an independent Labor candidate. Inglis Alexander, the Liberal candidate from the 1952 election, also contested the election as independent Labor after losing Liberal preselection.

The endorsed Liberal candidate was Harry Quinlan, while the endorsed Communist candidate was Douglas Olive.

Result edit

1953 Kahibah by-election
Saturday 31 October [3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Tom Armstrong 5,706 34.67 +34.67
Liberal Harry Quinlan 5,144 31.26 -4.07
Labor Joshua Arthur, Sr. 4,059 24.67 -40.00
Independent Inglis Alexander 1,101 6.69 +6.69
Communist Douglas Olive 446 2.71 +2.71
Total formal votes 16,456
Informal votes 428 2.53
Turnout 16,884 88.82
Two-candidate-preferred result
Independent Tom Armstrong 10,647 64.70 +64.70
Liberal Harry Quinlan 5,809 35.30 -0.03
Independent gain from Labor Swing N/A

The by-election was a disastrous defeat for Labor in one of their safest seats. Arthur suffered a 40% swing against, finishing third behind independent candidate Armstrong and Liberal candidate Quinlan, with Armstrong being elected on Arthur's preferences.

Aftermath edit

Armstrong had never been a member of the Labor Party, but generally supported the Labor government throughout his term. He was re-elected at the 1956 election, but died suddenly in March 1957. The seat reverted to Labor control upon his death, being won by endorsed candidate Jack Stewart.[7]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Mr Joshua George Arthur (1906-1974)". Former members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Royal Commission of Inquiry into matters relating to Joshua George Arthur and Reginald Aubrey Doyle". NSW State Records and Archives. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  3. ^ a b Green, Antony. "1953 Kahibah by-election". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  4. ^ "M.L.A. swears charge on Doyle's car". The Canberra Times. 9 February 1953. p. 1. Retrieved 2 December 2021 – via Trove.
  5. ^ "Commission into Minister's link with Doyle". Illawarra Daily Mercury. 12 February 1953. p. 2. Retrieved 2 December 2021 – via Trove.
  6. ^ "Labor Party refuses Arthur's resignation, insists on expulsion". The Canberra Times. 22 August 1953. p. 1. Retrieved 2 December 2021 – via Trove.
  7. ^ Green, Antony. "1957 Kahibah by-election". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 27 September 2020.