Dick Old

Richard Charles "Dick" Old (3 December 1922 – 29 June 2007) was an Australian politician who was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia from 1974 to 1986. He was state leader of the National Country Party (NCP) from 1975 to 1985, and served as a minister in the governments of Charles Court and Ray O'Connor.

Dick Old
Leader of the National Country Party
in Western Australia
In office
18 May 1975 – 30 January 1985
DeputyPeter Jones
Preceded byRay McPharlin
Succeeded byHendy Cowan
Member of the Legislative Assembly
of Western Australia
In office
30 March 1974 – 19 February 1983
Preceded byCrawford Nalder
Succeeded byNone (seat abolished)
In office
19 February 1983 – 8 February 1986
Preceded byNone (new seat)
Succeeded byMonty House
Personal details
Born(1922-12-03)3 December 1922
Katanning, Western Australia, Australia
Died29 June 2007(2007-06-29) (aged 84)
Katanning, Western Australia, Australia
Political partyNational Country[a] (to 1985)
Liberal (from 1985)

Early lifeEdit

Old was born in Katanning, Western Australia, to Vera Anne (née Cornish) and James William Old. His uncle, Cyril Cornish, was also a member of parliament. After leaving school, Old began working for Goldsbrough Mort & Co., an agricultural retailer. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1941, and during the war served on airbases in North-West Australia (including Corunna Downs Airfield) as a wireless operator. After being discharged in 1945, Old returned to Goldsbrough Mort as a manager, working for periods in Perth, Midland, Corrigin, and Moora. He managed a machinery company in Mingenew from 1953 to 1956, and then returned to Katanning to take over his father's fuel business. Old was elected to the Katanning Shire Council in 1961, and served as shire president from 1966 to 1973.[1]


Old entered parliament at the 1974 state election, replacing Sir Crawford Nalder (a former Country Party leader) in the seat of Katanning.[2] After the election, he was elected deputy chairman of committees in the Legislative Assembly. In May 1975, Ray McPharlin, the NCP leader, withdrew the party from its coalition with the Liberal Party over policy differences. McPharlin was subsequently replaced as leader by Old, and the coalition was resumed. Old became Minister for Agriculture in the new ministry, but was not appointed deputy premier (the traditional position for the leader of the minority party in the coalition) due to Charles Court's belief that he was too inexperienced.[1] Despite Old gaining experience as a minister, he still was not appointed Deputy Premier when the position fell vacant in 1980 and 1982 whilst the Coalition had remained in office.

In 1982, when Charles Court was replaced as premier by Ray O'Connor, Old was additionally made Minister for Fisheries and Wildlife. He remained in the ministry until the government's defeat at the 1983 election. Tensions had continued within the NCP after Old's election as leader, and in August 1978 three of its six MPs (Hendy Cowan, Ray McPharlin, and Matt Stephens) left to form their own party, the National Party. The two parties ran candidates against each other in 1980 and 1983, but agreed to merge in 1984, under the name of the National Party. The NCP was not formally wound up until January 1985. Its three remaining members in the Legislative Assembly, Old, Bert Crane, and Peter Jones, refused to join the new unified party, instead switching to the Liberal Party.[1] Old and Jones were defeated by National Party candidates at the 1986 state election, but Crane retained his seat.[2]

Later lifeEdit

In retirement, Old lived in Perth and Busselton. He continued to campaign for the Liberal Party candidates for several years,[3] but in 1991 resigned his membership to protest the treatment of Liz Constable. Constable had lost a Liberal preselection contest for the 1991 Floreat by-election amid allegations of branch stacking, but subsequently won the seat as an independent.[4] Old died in Busselton in June 2007, aged 84. He had married Patricia Isabel Hansen in 1945, with whom he had two children.[1]


  1. ^ The party was known as the National Alliance at the 1974 state election, a consequence of the merger of the former Country Party with the Democratic Labor Party.


  1. ^ a b c d Richard Charles Old – Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b Black, David; Prescott, Valerie (1997). Election statistics : Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, 1890-1996. Perth, [W.A.]: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project and Western Australian Electoral Commission. ISBN 0730984095.
  3. ^ HON RICHARD CHARLES OLD | Condolence Motion, Hansard (Parliament of Western Australia), 14 August 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  4. ^ The Lawrence Government: Perspective by David Black - Part 2, Carmen Lawrence Collection, Curtin University Library. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
Parliament of Western Australia
Preceded by
Crawford Nalder
Member for Katanning
New seat Member for Katanning-Roe
Succeeded by
Monty House
Political offices
Preceded by
Ray McPharlin
Minister for Agriculture
Succeeded by
David Evans
Preceded by
Gordon Masters
Minister for Fisheries and Wildlife
Succeeded by
David Evans