Tuesday, January 6, 2009

John McEwen

Yesterday, I looked at William McMahon. Today, I shall research one of his enemies. Both of them are probably dead by now.   I know McMahon is. I'm hoping that in the after-life, they've let bygones by bygones. But....who knows?

John McEwen was born in Victoria on 29 March 1900.

Birthday Website time!

McEwen is a 6 and an Aries.

6 is about family. What is an Aries? I think my brother-in-law is an Aries.

They're supposed to be full of energy...enthusiastic. Turn that into a negative and you get someone who's impatient and a daredevil.

I'm trying to get a picture of the 6 Aries. I guess I see a family man who is a bit wild. He'd be the type who'd carry his kids on his shoulders. He'd entertain them by letting them believe he might let them fall. He'd do dangerous things to entertain his children.

Was McEwen like that? Maybe. Maybe not.

McEwen was born in a place called Chiltern. Was that a town? Suburb? I'll go check.

It's a town; one of those small ones. The population in 2006 was only 1063. It's not near Melbourne. It's actually very close to New South Wales.

McEwen's father was a pharmacist. Magikquilter, Lord Wiki says he was educated in state schools. Is that the same as government schools? I'm guessing that it is.

At the age of fifteen, he became a junior public service clerk. When he was eighteen, he enlisted in the army. Like David Hicks, he wanted to fight. Also, like David Hicks...he didn't get the chance. The first world war ended before he was done with training.  Bummer.

He pursued the dairy farmer route in Stanhope. That was about two hours away from his birthplace. Well, now that timing is with modern cars and modern speed limits. I don't know much about car history, but I'm guessing back then it might have taken McEwen longer than two hours to drive back to his birthplace. I'm also guessing he probably didn't have a car. I could be wrong though.

While not busy milking his cow, McEwen joined farming organizations. He also joined the Country Party. In 1934, he was elected to the House of Representatives. Between 1937 and 1941 he was Minister for the Interior, Minister for External Affairs, Minister for Air, and Minister for Civil Aviation. I guess this had something to do with the coalition thing. There were only 19 days in 1939 in which the Country Party had their guy as Prime Minister. For those other days between 1937 and 1941, the United Australian Party was in power. That's the party that later transformed into the Liberal Party. Oh wait. In Spring (Aussie version) of 1941, the Country Party's guy had the Prime Minister role for a short time.

I'm just trying to understand all of this. I think I got it. McEwen's party wasn't in power itself, but since there was a coalition, he was the Minister of all the above rather than the Shadow Minister.

I need to look up all these Ministries. Minister for the Interior is like domestic affairs. They worry about what's going on at home. I think? Maybe I'm making assumptions that are not true. I do know (or at least Lord Wiki says) that the role is now called Minister for Home Affairs.

Minister for the Exterior is now called Minister of Foreign Affairs. William McMahon had this job for awhile and so did Cheryl Kernot's boyfriend, Gareth Evans.

Minister for Air is now called Minister for Defense. I think.

The Minister for Civil Aviation is now given the long name of Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.

From 1941 until 1949, the Labor party had the power. Poor McEwen was in the opposition...lost in the lonely shadows. Then Menzies took back the power with a new name. The Liberal Party!  

McEwen became Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. This is the job that McMahon would later have. McEwen would have the job though for seven years. McMahon didn't take his place until 1956. Then McEwen was Minister of Trade from 1956 until 1971. Wow. 15 years. That's pretty long.

Lord Wiki says that McEwen started his own trade/economic philosophy called McEwenism. I wonder if he coined the term himself? Anyway, Lord Wiki gives an explanation. I'll try to summarize. I think it's the opposite of free trade. It's about government control and protection.

In 1958, the leader of the Country Party, Arthur Fadden, retired. McEwen became the leader.

When Harold Holt drowned, McEwen got his chance at being Prime Minister. It wasn't a very long chance though; only twenty-three days. The understanding was that he could sit on the throne until the Liberal Party could come up with a leader. McEwen insisted that this not be McMahon, so John Gorton got the job instead.

As I said in my previous post, McEwen didn't like McMahon for being a potential homosexual (maybe?). And also they had political disagreements regarding the economy. McMahon was into free trade.

I feel more love for McMahon than McEwen. So far, McEwen rubs me the wrong way. There's just something about him. He sounds almost childish. But I do side with him over the economic stuff. I'm not fully behind the whole free-trade thing. If the world was made up of more compassionate and ethical people, I'd be completely behind free-trade. But that's not our reality.

Oh yeah. There was the other bad blood between McMahon and McEwen....the journalist thing. McEwen believed McMahon was leaking information to reporters.

Despite their differences, McMahon and McEwen died at the same age. They were both eighty. They died in different years though; well because they were born in different years. You know how that works.....

Another thing McMahon and McEwen had in common was that they were both knighted in the 1970's.

Oh. And here's some personal stuff. He got married when he was 21. He and his wife had no children together. Was that by choice?

The wife's maiden name was McLeod! So, what does that mean? McLeod's Daughters is REAL! Jack will be so happy to know that.

His wife died in February 1967, ten months before McEwen had his short term of Prime Minister. He took the job as a widower. That's kind of sad. But don't feel too sorry for the guy. Sixteen months later he had a new wife. Wow. That guy doesn't take a long time to get back in the saddle. He married his personal secretary. I'm trying very hard not to read too much into this. Oh well. I failed. I can't help but think that maybe there was something going on before his wife died. Maybe not though.

I do believe that widows and widowers can find love again. But when it happens so fast, it does make me wonder. I think if a couple had strong feelings of love for each other, it would take time to replace the dead spouse with a new one. I could be wrong though. Jack was ready to replace his goldfish right when it died. But yeah...see. I really can't say that Jack truly loved his fish.

It's time to leave Lord Wiki.

This website says his nickname was Black Jack. Why? I don't know. They say he was aggressive and ruthless.

Oh! He has something elsa in common with McMahon. The poor guy was an orphan. I'm betting that wasn't so rare in those days though. After his parents died, at the age of seven, McEwen went to live with his grandma. Did they both die at the same time? Illness? Accident? I'm so morbidly curious. All this orphan stuff. It's so Harry Potter. And Roald Dahl.

At the age of fifteen, McEwen ran off to Melbourne. This is where he did the junior clerk thing.

After the war, in which he didn't get to fight, McEwen was given land by the government. It seems they gave away land to ex-soldiers.

McEwen and his wife did good with the whole dairy farming thing.

Around a year after he had been Prime Minister, McEwen secured some kind of international sugar agreement. Well, that's cool. Speaking of sugar....I'm going back to eating it. I went off of it because of health issues. I also hoped to lose weight. Well, the health issues went away for awhile so I thought I had the answers to my problems. But now the problems have returned. I also haven't lost weight. So I'm going to eat some candy! I'm still going to try to stay away from unethical candy though. And I'll try to eat in moderation.

I don't know why I feel like crap. Maybe I'm allergic to Texas. Maybe I NEED to move to Australia.

Here's some more personal stuff about McEwen. His father emigrated from Northern Ireland. John was only eighteen months when his mom died. I feel very sad for children who've lost their mothers. His father died when McEwen was seven. Okay. So, they hadn't died together.

This website says that McEwen had some half-siblings. His father had been previously married. Maybe those kids were back in Ireland.

Another way in which McMahon and McEwen differed is that while McMahon lived a life of prosperity, McEwen had financially humble beginnings.

Before getting his own farm, McEwen worked as a farmhand. That makes sense. It helps to learn about something before making a huge investment. And farming is not easy, especially when you have to deal with stuff like droughts and rabbit plagues. McEwen and his wife worked very hard to overcome all this, and they were successful.

McEwen had a close political relationship with Menzies. It seems Menzies liked him. And on several occasions, McEwen got the chance to act as Prime Minister when Menzies was absent.

The poor guy had some kind of skin issue. The website says he walked around Parliament with his feet bandaged and bleeding. Ouch! Speaking of feet. My toe still hurts. I can walk pretty well, but it hurts too much to wear regular shoes. But I should be at least grateful that I'm not bleeding and bandaged. My sister has an even worse toe injury. Her toenail has turned black. She wanted to show it to me and I gave a stern no, thank you! I get grossed out by toenail stuff. Uh, no offense to any of you who might be reading this. If you have disgusting toenails, I'll still love you. I still love my sister....right?

This McEwen guy really liked to work. They said he relaxed from politics by doing hard work on the farm. That does make sense though. Sometimes, physical work relaxes our mind.

The website describes what McEwen's demeanor. It seems he had a serious and stern person, but when you got to know him he was nice. Fun. He sounds like my grandfather.

He was a good speaker. The website says, A fluent, forceful and often passionate speaker, McEwen in full flight at the parliamentary dispatch box was a grand spectacle.

As I get to know McEwen more...well, he's beginning to grow on me. Maybe because he reminds me of my grandpa, and I loved my grandpa. I also feel bad that he was an orphan.

If I like him, does that mean I have to dislike McMahon?

Do I have to pick one side over another?


I like both of them.

Too bad they're dead. Otherwise, I'd invite them over for tea. We could talk things over. I'd say. If you guys can't work it out, how will the Palestinians and Israeli's ever manage to?

I guess I still could invite them over. But I'm not a Medium. I can neither hear nor see dead people. I'd have no idea what's going on. I'd probably feel left out and lonely. That's why I prefer to hang out with living people.

This website seems to say McEwen's mother died during childbirth. I might be reading it wrong though.

In Melbourne, McEwen worked under Gough Whitlam's father. That's pretty interesting.

Since their farm was successful, Mr. and Mrs. McEwen were able to sell it and buy an even bigger farm. This they named Chilgala. I wonder how they came up with that name.

In 1938, McEwen traveled in the Northern Territory.

I'm just going through and picking out the stuff that's interesting to me. I'm probably leaving out the stuff that's truly important. So, it's probably not a good idea to rely on me for your Australian biographical education.

McEwen was against women enlisting in the military. A guy named Charles Burnett convinced him otherwise.

In 1945, McEwen visited the United States....San Francisco. Well, he went there for work reasons. It wasn't a holiday.

I'm really not liking this post. I feel it's a failure. No, I'm not fishing for compliments. At least I don't think I am. I think I'm just sort of apologizing....you know, in case you agree with me.

Anyway, McEwen did some controversial trade agreements with Japan in the mid 1950's. Why was it controversial? I think some people were still mad at Japan regarding what happened in World War II.

Isn't it great how we all get along now....well, outside of the whaling stuff? It gives me hope when old enemies become friends.  Or at least do trading and exchange tourists. It gives me hope for countries that are at war now. Peace IS possible. The problem is that once one dispute goes away, another appears somewhere else.

Here's some interesting stuff. At least I think it's interesting. For those who read yesterday's entry....remember how McMahon had talked to the Governor-General days before Holt had died. Well, this website about McEwen gives some more insight. It says the Governor-General had initially not liked McEwen. He told McMahon though that he learned to eventually like McEwen. They had become friends. But he did say McEwen was a bit difficult to love. It seems McEwen was a bit on edge.

That's McMahon's version of the meeting. The Governor-General might have interpreted the conversation differently. He gave his notes to Holt and so did McMahon. Holt put them in his briefcase and then that weekend he went for a swim. My mind is trying to come up with a juicy conspiracy theory. I can't quite think of anything good though.

Five years before he died, McEwen sold his farm. He moved to a suburb in Melbourne. I wonder if he was happy there. Did he miss farming, or did he welcome the change?

The Country Party is now called The Nationals. I can't remember if I knew this already or not. Well, I guess it doesn't matter. If I had known it, obviously I forgot it. So, what's the difference?

There are nine Members of Parliament who are part of the Nationals. There are five senators.

What's more conservative....the Liberal Party or The Nationals?

Actually, I'm going to go and see what Lord Wiki has to say about this. It seems they still emphasize the rural population.

Oh! Lord Wiki says the National Party has merged with the Liberal party. Really? No, no wait. It's just in Queensland. Queensland Liberals have merged with Queensland Nationals. It hasn't gone countrywide yet.

The big trade agreement between Japan and Australia happened on July 6 1957. On July 3 of 2007, Japan and Australia had a 50th anniversary celebration. Would it be tacky of me to point out that they were three days early? What was wrong with July 6? Huh? Did someone have a wedding planned for that day? But the important thing is they had a cake. What's a celebration without a cake?

This website names the school McEwen attended. It was Wangaratta State School. I found a website for Wangarratta Primary School. I'm guessing this might be the same place. The school has been around since 1850. It's quite old.

I read this before on the other websites, but forgot to mention it. When they bought the new bigger and better farm, it seems McEwen and his wife stopped the dairy stuff. Instead they concentrated on sheep sheering and beef.

Anyway. I think I'm going to stop now. I'm sure I missed something important. It's just that sometimes it's hard to explain stuff when you don't fully understand it yourself. Speaking of that, if I make any mistakes...PLEASE speak up. I will not be offended. I mean if you're rude about it, I might be. But most people who are reading my blog are extremely nice. I am grateful when you guys help me understand stuff. Okay? Do we have that clear? Good.


  1. I love reading all this stuff you have learnt about Australia! It's awesome! Thanks so much for coming to my blog with your words of encouragement! I so pleased to hear that this stage of life is gone for you too though it sucks that any of us have been through it!

  2. Louisa,

    Thanks : )

    I enjoy reading your blog. I'm glad to know you're feeling somewhat better.

  3. I thought you did well.....it can be difficult sifting through the internet for information.....but it brings some events back into focus for me which is great

    Now Dina...what did you do to your toe? I meant to ask before. And as to feeling ratty....have they checked your thyroid? I was found to have it at around thirty..not sure of your age but there are prime periods for it apparently and pregnancy was one of them...took a long time to get the dose right ..about twenty years although my mother was checked at the same time and she had probably had it for at least twenty years they thought...causes depression and weight gain and monthly troubles etc etc..might be worth a check..it is not commonly done unless some doctor is smart enough to check it. They say that a lot of the so called mental asylums of the past were probably full of cases before the synthetic drug was formulated.

    interesting how so many of our young boys rushed into WW1 ...but by the time of Vietnam there had to be a draft...that was my whole generation...luckily it ended otherwise my classmates would have been up for it.

    I had another person who was upset about Kaylee on the blog today so we decided we may publish her last post....where she came clean....as so many did not see it and are just finding out...luckily I still have her old blog on my reader...pity that the heartfelt comments are not still there...did not think to save those

  4. Magikquilter,

    I blame my toe thing on David Hicks. I was researching him. The doorbell rang. I ran up to get it and hit my toe.

    I think you might be on to something with the thyroid issue. I just looked at the symptoms.


    The one that jumped out at me the most was the neck issue. When I was feeling really bad (usually at night) my neck would be super sensitive. I'd feel like someone was choking me. Even the slightest touch (like from a blanket) would bother me.

    Reading another website now...it sounds a lot like me. Well, my yearly check up thing is coming up. I'll definitely mention it.


    I don't know what to think about Kaylee. I saw her new blog today. I will probably try not to see it again.

  5. 1. Hmmm, the neck...could be a lymphatic inflammation. (Just to cheer you up.)

    2. Here is a good book on Black Jack, which I read a while ago:


    He mainly resented McMahon because he believed (correctly) that McMahon was averse to agricultural protection. (At that time the Country Party were known as the "Agrarian Socialists".)

    3. Who is Kaylee?

    4. There's a blog I have on my blogroll called "Die, Fluffy Wuffy, Die!" which you may like to add to your Aussie Blog List.

  6. I read a brief biography on Black Jack once when I was still active in the Nationals. There's not much written about him or Fadden, and both were very influential.

    I used to live at Porepunkah, which is an hour from Chiltern and 45 minutes from Wangaratta. Chiltern still has heritage buildings and historic facades in its main street.

    McEwen wasn't very popular outside the Country Party, but he was widely respected. McMahon was neither liked nor respected.

    The Nationals are a collective of state-based parties. In Victoria, they governed for many years with Labor support. In South Australia, the sole Nationals MP is in the Labor Cabinet. In Western Australia they hold the balance of power and very nearly sided with Labor after the last state election, but picked the Liberals.

    In New South Wales they are in permanent Coalition with the Liberals and in Queensland they merged with the Liberals.

    That makes for a fairly dysfunctional federal organisation, which is why they only have nine MPs now compared with 20 in McEwen's time.

    They are socially more conservative than the Liberals, but economically less rationalist. They were once dubbed "agrarian socialists".

    It's widely considered that following Doug Anthony, who succeeded McEwen, and Ian Sinclair they have been too subservient to the Liberals at a federal level.

    I could write a lot more about why the various state branches are different. Perhaps I will one day.

  7. Retarius,

    Lymphatic inflammation sounds fun. What did McMahon want to do with agriculture?

    Kaylee is a blogger who lied about having cancer...and it's worse than it sounds. She was very hurtful and manipulative towards people.

    I'll add the blog. Thanks!

  8. Michael,

    Thank you so much for that explanation!! I hope you do write about it more one day.

    Are there any other political coalitions like that? I remember reading something where the Green party and Democratic party had (or planned to have) a coalition like thing. I forget the when/where/who/why of it though.

  9. I've been away from the blogs for a few days so I didn't see your question. McMahon was in favour of removing protective tariffs. In those days Australia's agricultural sector was highly subsidised and protected by import duties. McEwen thus had a very strong reason to oppose McMahon's appointment as PM.