Merv Toms

John Mervin "Merv" Toms (23 January 1909 – 8 October 1971) was an Australian politician who was a Labor Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia from 1956 to 1971. He was appointed Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in July 1971, but served only a few months before dying in office.


Merv Toms
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
of Western Australia
In office
15 July 1971 – 8 October 1971
Preceded byHugh Guthrie
Succeeded byDaniel Norton
Member of the Legislative Assembly
of Western Australia
In office
7 April 1956 – 1 March 1962
Preceded byEdward Oldfield
Succeeded byEdward Oldfield
ConstituencyMaylands
In office
1 March 1962 – 23 March 1968
Preceded byNone (new creation)
Succeeded byNone (abolished)
ConstituencyBayswater
In office
23 March 1968 – 8 October 1971
Preceded byNone (new creation)
Succeeded byMal Bryce
ConstituencyAscot
Personal details
Born(1909-01-23)23 January 1909
Boulder, Western Australia, Australia
Died8 October 1971(1971-10-08) (aged 62)
Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia
Political partyLabor

Early lifeEdit

Toms was born in Boulder, Western Australia, to Lucy (née Kent) and John Pryor Toms. He moved to Perth during his childhood, attending Midland High School. Toms left school at the age of 15, initially working as a labourer and later as a carpenter and joiner. He married Winifred Ann Jenkinson in 1933, with whom he had three children. Toms was elected to the Bayswater Road Board in April 1944, and would serve on the council until May 1971, including as chairman from 1951 to 1965. He was also prominent in the Building Workers' Industrial Union, a forerunner of the CFMEU.[1]

PoliticsEdit

Toms entered parliament at the 1956 state election, easily winning the seat of Maylands. At the 1962 election, he transferred to the new seat of Bayswater. When Bayswater was abolished at the 1968 election, he switched seats for a second time, winning the newly created seat of Ascot.[2] Toms was subsequently appointed deputy chairman of committees in the Legislative Assembly.[1]

Following Labor's victory at the 1971 election, Toms was elected to the speakership. His elevation meant that the government and opposition had equal numbers on the floor of the Legislative Assembly, so he made frequent use of his casting vote as speaker. During a sitting in October 1971, Toms collapsed and was rushed to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, where he died.[1] Because his death reduced Labor to a minority government, the premier, John Tonkin, advised the governor, Sir Douglas Kendrew, to prorogue parliament until the necessary by-election had been held (which Labor won).[3]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c John Mervin Toms – Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  2. ^ 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. ^ Phillips, Harry (1991). "The Modern Parliament, 1965–1989". In Black, David (ed.). The House on the Hill: A History of the Parliament of Western Australia 1832–1990. Perth, Western Australia: Parliament of Western Australia. p. 206. ISBN 0-7309-3983-9.
Parliament of Western Australia
Preceded by
Edward Oldfield
Member for Maylands
1956–1962
Succeeded by
Edward Oldfield
New creation Member for Bayswater
1962–1968
Abolished
New creation Member for Ascot
1968–1971
Succeeded by
Mal Bryce
Preceded by
Hugh Guthrie
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
1971
Succeeded by
Daniel Norton