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Ian McCahon Sinclair AC (born 10 June 1929) is a former Australian politician who served as leader of the National Party from 1984 to 1989. He was a government minister under six different prime ministers, and later Speaker of the House of Representatives from March to November 1998.


Ian Sinclair

Ian Sinclair.jpg
Sinclair in 1964
Speaker of the House of Representatives
In office
4 March 1998 – 10 November 1998
Preceded byBob Halverson
Succeeded byNeil Andrew
Leader of the National Party
Elections: 1984, 1987
In office
17 January 1984 – 9 May 1989
DeputyRalph Hunt
Bruce Lloyd
Preceded byDoug Anthony
Succeeded byCharles Blunt
Deputy Leader of the National Party
In office
2 February 1971 – 17 January 1984
LeaderDoug Anthony
Preceded byDoug Anthony
Succeeded byRalph Hunt
Minister for Defence
In office
7 May 1982 – 11 March 1983
Prime MinisterMalcolm Fraser
Preceded byJim Killen
Succeeded byGordon Scholes
Minister for Communications
In office
3 November 1980 – 7 May 1982
Prime MinisterMalcolm Fraser
Preceded byTony Staley
Succeeded byNeil Brown
Minister for Primary Industry
In office
11 November 1975 – 27 September 1979
Prime MinisterMalcolm Fraser
Preceded byRex Patterson
Succeeded byPeter Nixon
In office
5 February 1971 – 5 December 1972
Prime MinisterJohn Gorton
William McMahon
Preceded byDoug Anthony
Succeeded byLance Barnard
Minister for Shipping and Transport
In office
28 February 1968 – 5 February 1971
Prime MinisterJohn Gorton
Preceded byGordon Freeth
Succeeded byPeter Nixon
Minister for Social Services
In office
22 February 1965 – 28 February 1968
Prime MinisterSir Robert Menzies
Harold Holt
John McEwen
John Gorton
Preceded byReginald Swartz
Succeeded byBill Wentworth
Member of the Australian Parliament for New England
In office
30 November 1963 – 31 August 1998
Preceded byDavid Drummond
Succeeded byStuart St. Clair
Personal details
Born (1929-06-10) 10 June 1929 (age 90)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Political partyNational
Spouse(s)
Margaret Tarrant
(m. 1956; died 1967)

Rosemary Fenton (m. 1970)
RelationsPeter King (son-in-law)
Children4
OccupationGrazier

Sinclair was born in Sydney and studied law at the University of Sydney. He later bought a farming property near Tamworth. Sinclair was elected to parliament in 1963, and added to the ministry in 1965 as part of the Menzies Government. Over the following six years, he held various portfolios under four other prime ministers. Sinclair was elected deputy leader of his party in 1971, under Doug Anthony. He was a senior member of the Fraser Government, spending periods as Minister for Primary Industry (1975–1979), Minister for Communications (1980–1982), and Minister for Defence (1982–1983). In 1984, Sinclair replaced Anthony as leader of the Nationals. He led the party to two federal elections, in 1984 and 1987, but was replaced by Charles Blunt in 1989. Sinclair was father of the parliament from 1990 until his retirement at the 1998 election. He spent his last months in parliament as Speaker of the House of Representatives, following the sudden resignation of Bob Halverson; he is the only member of his party to have held the position. He also served as co-chair of the 1998 constitutional convention, alongside Barry Jones.

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Sinclair was born in Sydney on 10 June 1929. He was the son of Gertrude Hazel (née Smith) and George McCahon Sinclair.[1] His father was a chartered accountant who also served as deputy mayor of Ku-ring-gai Council, chairman of Knox Grammar School, and an elder of the Presbyterian Church.[2]

Sinclair attended Knox Grammar before going on to the University of Sydney, where he graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1949 and Bachelor of Laws in 1952. He served in the No. 22 Squadron RAAF from 1950 to 1952, as part of the Citizen Air Force. Sinclair served his articles of clerkship with Norton Smith & Co., but did not pursue a legal career. He instead took up a grazing property near Bendemeer and set up the Sinclair Pastoral Company, of which he became managing director. He was a director of the Farmers and Graziers' Co-operative Limited from 1962 to 1965.[1]

Sinclair married Margaret Anne Tarrant in 1956, with whom he had one son and two daughters. She died of brain cancer in December 1967.[3][4] He remarried on 14 February 1970 to Rosemary Fenton, who had been Miss Australia in 1960; they had one son together.[1] His daughter Fiona married Liberal politician Peter King.[5]

Political careerEdit

In 1961 Sinclair became a Country Party member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, and at the 1963 election, he was elected to the House of Representatives for the Division of New England.

In 1965, Sinclair was appointed Minister for Social Services in the Menzies Government, replacing Hugh Roberton.[6] He stood for the deputy leadership of the Country Party after the 1966 federal election, but was defeated by Doug Anthony.[7] In 1968, he became Minister for Shipping and Transport. When Country Party leader John McEwen retired in 1971 Sinclair was elected Deputy Leader, becoming at the same time Minister for Primary Industry.

After spending the three years of the Whitlam Labor government in opposition, Sinclair again became Minister for Primary Industry in 1975, in the Fraser government. He held this position until 1979 and returned to the ministry as Minister for Special Trade Representations. After the 1980 elections he became Minister for Communications. In May 1982, he became Minister for Defence, a post he held until the defeat of the Fraser government at the 1983 election.

Party leaderEdit

In January 1984 Doug Anthony resigned the leadership of the National Country Party (as the Country Party had been renamed in 1975), and Sinclair succeeded him. Under his leadership the party was renamed the National Party of Australia (NPA). During the 1984 election he created a controversy by blaming the appearance of AIDS on what he claimed was the Hawke Labor government's policy of "condoning" homosexuality.[8] He also wanted to reduce the number of Asian people immigrating to Australia.[9] In August 1988, he said:

"What we are saying is that if there is any risk of an undue build-up of Asians as against others in the community, then you need to control it ... I certainly believe, that at the moment we need ... to reduce the number of Asians ... We don't want the divisions of South Africa, we don't want the divisions of London. We really don't want the colour divisions of the United States."

[10]

In May 1989, there were simultaneous, co-ordinated leadership coups in both parties, with Andrew Peacock displacing John Howard as Liberal leader and Charles Blunt replacing Sinclair. When Blunt lost his seat at the 1990 election, Sinclair made an attempt to regain the NPA leadership, but was defeated by Tim Fischer, and retired to the back bench. He was thus the first NPA leader since the formation of the Coalition to have never served as Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. By this time he was the Father of the House of Representatives. He was also the last serving Australian politician to be a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, entitling him to the prefix "The Right Honourable".

Post-leadershipEdit

Sinclair underwent a double heart bypass surgery in September 1991.[11] On 23 March 1993, ten days after the Coalition lost the 1993 federal election, Sinclair unsuccessfully challenged Tim Fischer for the party leadership.[12]

Aged nearly 70, Sinclair announced his intention to retire from parliament at the 1998 election. In February 1998 Howard appointed Sinclair as Chairman of the Constitutional Convention, which debated the possibility of Australia becoming a republic. When the Speaker of the House, Bob Halverson, suddenly resigned in March, Sinclair was elected to replace him. He served as Speaker for the last seven months of his term, during which he usually wore an academic-style gown. At the time of his retirement, he was the last parliamentary survivor of the Menzies, Holt, Gorton and McMahon governments.

In January 2001, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).[13] As of 2009, Sinclair was the President of AUSTCARE, an international, non-profit, independent aid organisation.[14]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "The Hon. Ian McCahon SINCLAIR, B.A.,LL.B (1929 - )". Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  2. ^ "George Sinclair 'had appeared reputable'". The Canberra Times. 23 July 1980.
  3. ^ "Faces of Tamworth: barrister, grazier, politician and philanthropist Ian Sinclair". Northern Daily Leader. 29 March 2018. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Minister's wife dies". The Canberra Times. 23 December 1967.
  5. ^ "What goes around comes around for King". The Sydney Morning Herald. 4 September 2004. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  6. ^ "New Minister is announced". The Canberra Times. 22 February 1965.
  7. ^ "Anthony is new Deputy Leader". The Canberra Times. 9 December 1966.
  8. ^ Sendziuk, Paul (2003). Learning to trust: Australian responses to AIDS. Sydney: UNSW Press. p. 58. ISBN 0-86840-718-6. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  9. ^ Bird Rose, Deborah (2005). Dislocating the Frontier: Essaying the Mystique of the Outback. Canberra: Australian National University E Press. p. 35. ISBN 1-920942-37-8. Retrieved 30 November 2007.
  10. ^ Markus, Andrew (2001). Race: John Howard and the Remaking of Australia. Allen & Unwin. p. 89. ISBN 1-86448-866-2.
  11. ^ "Ian Sinclair recovering after surgery". The Canberra Times. 4 September 1991.
  12. ^ Tom Connors (24 March 1993). "'Kind' challenge won by Fischer". The Canberra Times.
  13. ^ It's an Honour: AC
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 June 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
Political offices
Preceded by
Reginald Swartz
Minister for Social Services
1965–1968
Succeeded by
Bill Wentworth
Preceded by
Gordon Freeth
Minister for Shipping and Transport
1968–1971
Succeeded by
Peter Nixon
Preceded by
Doug Anthony
Minister for Primary Industry
1971–1972
Succeeded by
Ken Wriedt
Preceded by
Rex Patterson
Minister for Primary Industry
1975–1979
Succeeded by
Peter Nixon
Preceded by
Paul Keating
Minister for Northern Australia
1975
Succeeded by
Evan Adermann
Preceded by
Douglas Scott
Minister for Special Trade Representations
1979–1980
Position abolished
Preceded by
Tony Staley
Minister for Communications
1980–1982
Succeeded by
Neil Brown
Preceded by
Jim Killen
Minister for Defence
1982–1983
Succeeded by
Gordon Scholes
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
David Drummond
Member for New England
1963–1998
Succeeded by
Stuart St. Clair
Preceded by
Tom Uren
Father of the House of Representatives
1990–1998
Succeeded by
Philip Ruddock
Preceded by
Robert Halverson
Speaker of the House of Representatives
1998
Succeeded by
Neil Andrew
Party political offices
Preceded by
Doug Anthony
Leader of the National Country Party/
National Party of Australia

1984–1989
Succeeded by
Charles Blunt
Deputy Leader of the Country Party/
National Country Party/
National Party of Australia

1971–1984
Succeeded by
Ralph Hunt