Richard Crouch

Richard Armstrong Crouch (19 June 1868 – 7 April 1949) was an Australian politician. His two periods as a member of the House of Representatives (1901–1910, 1929–1931) were separated by the First World War, during which he became an anti-conscription activist and changed his political affiliation. Crouch was a Protectionist and Liberal during his first period as an MP, but later became involved in the labour movement and represented the Australian Labor Party (ALP) during his second term. He is one of the few MPs to move to the ALP after previously belonging to an anti-Labor party.

Richard Crouch
Richard Armstrong Crouch.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Corangamite
In office
12 October 1929 – 19 December 1931
Preceded byWilliam Gibson
Succeeded byWilliam Gibson
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Corio
In office
29 March 1901 – 13 April 1910
Preceded byNew seat
Succeeded byAlfred Ozanne
Personal details
Born(1868-06-19)19 June 1868
Ballarat East, Victoria, Australia
Died7 April 1949(1949-04-07) (aged 80)
Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia
NationalityAustralian
Political partyProtectionist (1901–09)
Liberal (1909–10)
Labor (1929–31)
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
ProfessionBarrister and Solicitor

Early lifeEdit

Crouch was born on 19 June 1868 at Ballarat East, Victoria, the son of George Crouch from Tottenham, London, who was a miner, storekeeper and later a wealthy boot-retailer, and his wife Selina Durham, née Marks, from Aberdeen, Scotland.

Pre-war politicsEdit

 
Crouch as a young MP

In 1901, Crouch was elected to the new Federal Parliament for the electorate of Corio, with a majority of 1,130 votes, as a member of the Protectionist Party (later the Commonwealth Liberal Party). He served for nine years, under the leadership of Alfred Deakin, and was at the time the youngest member of the lower house. He gained recognition as a wit and a radical, and was outspoken on the delicate matter of lavish allowances for the Governor General.

World War IEdit

Crouch enthusiastically supported new trends in Australian defence policies. He joined the militia in 1892, and by the outbreak of World War I had attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. In March 1915, he was given command of the 22nd Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, which landed at Gallipoli in September 1915. Crouch was transferred to command the Base Camp at Mudros in December 1915, but illness led to his return to Australia in March 1916.

Although a strong advocate for national defence, Crouch did not support the proposal to introduce compulsory overseas service. He became Victorian branch president of the Returned Soldiers' No-Conscription League, and campaigned against prime minister Billy Hughes during the conscription plebiscites in 1916 and 1917. Encouraged by James Scullin, Crouch joined the Labor Party and became an active leader of the Labor movement in Victoria.

Post-war politicsEdit

 
Crouch c. 1928

In 1924 Crouch represented Australia at the International Federation of Trade Unions Education Conference in Oxford. In 1929, he was re-elected to the federal parliament for the electorate of Corangamite, representing the Labor Party. Defeated two years later, he decided to forsake politics for philanthropy, travel, writing, and encouraging Australians to take a greater interest in their history. He was the donor of the first six busts at Prime Ministers Avenue at Ballarat, and bequeathed funds for maintaining the project.

Personal lifeEdit

Crouch remained unmarried during his lifetime and in his later years lived with his sister Gertrude at Point Lonsdale, Victoria in the house their father had built in 1882. He died aged 80 on 7 April 1949, leaving an estate valued at £43,490, and was buried at Point Lonsdale.

ReferencesEdit

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
New seat
Member for Corio
1901 – 1910
Succeeded by
Alfred Ozanne
Preceded by
William Gibson
Member for Corangamite
1929 – 1931
Succeeded by
William Gibson