Monday, January 5, 2009

William McMahon

I added William McMahon, to my list, on the day I researched Harold Holt.

When Harold Holt died, McMahon was supposed to take his place. A certain other politician wasn't happy with this idea and made some threats about it. McMahon didn't get the job. But he did become Prime Minister later on down the road.

This isn't the only reason why I want to research McMahon.

His son has haunted my dreams for several years.

I'm thinking maybe studying his father will help me understand the reason for the dreams.

Fat chance of that happening.

 I feel destined to stay confused about EVERYTHING for my entire life.

But I guess it doesn't hurt to try. Right?

Well....at least it keeps me busy.

McMahon was born in Sydney on 23 February 1908.

Birthday Website time!

He's a 7 and a Pisces like Michael Kirby. I'm a 7 too. We have something in common.

Lord Wiki says McMahon had a lawyer as a daddy. And he has Irish ancestry. I guess we could figure that out by the last name.

He went to Sydney Grammar School. That sounds familiar. I'm guessing another one of my research victims went there. I can't remember who.

Or maybe not. Lord Wiki isn't naming anyone I recognize except Edmund Barton. And I haven't researched Barton yet.

I think all these school names are just starting to sound alike.

I like the letter from the headmaster on their website. I like the way it addresses the prospective students themselves. I've never known much about headmasters. I've never given them much thought. But this guy seems really cool. He's written a book about ancient medicine. He seems really smart. You know who he reminds me of? Dumbeldore. That's the one headmaster I DO think about.

Okay. I found a longer list of people who went to the school. Baz Luhrmann went there. That's probably why the name of the school sounds familiar to me. I don't remember seeing the school's website though. Maybe I didn't dive into the school stuff with that blog entry. Or maybe I did and I've already forgotten.

McMahon followed in the footsteps of his daddy. He went to the University of Sydney and studied law. Michael Kirby did that too. They have the same astrological sign and the same numerology sign. They went to the same university and studied the same thing. Interesting....

After the education stuff, McMahon worked at Australia's oldest law firm. Back in McMahon's day it was called Allen, Allen and Hemsley. In our modern day, it's called Allen Arthurs Robinson. Ah, what happened to Hemsley. Huh? That's what I'd like to know.

Lord Wiki does not tell me what happened to Hemsley. He does say that what happened is Allen, Allen and Hemsley merged with Melbourne's Arthur Robinson and Hedderwicks. He also says that Allen, Allen and Hemsley has been around since 1822. That's pretty old. It was probably over a hundred years old when McMahon started working there. And if McMahon was alive today, he'd be 101 years old. Wow.

The law firm is still going strong. It's very international--does a lot of stuff in Asia.

William McMahon joined the army in 1940. His hearing problems forced him to be stuck with staff work. I'm guessing that's like paper work. Maybe?

After the war, he went to Europe and got himself a degree in Economics. Was this to further his law career? Or did he not like the law stuff? Was he trying for a new career? Is that why he joined the army....to get away from the law firm?

In 1949, McMahon was elected to the House of Representatives via the Sydney seat of Lowe. He had that seat for 33 years. That seems like a long time to me. Is that typical?

Lord Wiki is nice enough to tell me that McMahon was one of the Liberal MP's known as the forty-niners, but he's not nice enough to tell me what that means. I guess I'll go look it up.

Oh! Okay. I get it. The forty-niners refers to the year. 1949. This website said it also had something to do with the idea that a lot of the Liberal candidates were ex-servicemen.

In 1951, Menzies gave McMahon the job of Minister for Air and Minister for the Navy. He had two jobs at once? Or did one job come after the other one ended?

I'm very confused here.

Anyway, his other roles included being Minister for Social Services (1954-1956), Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry (1956-1958) and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations (1958-1966). He was at the last one a pretty damn long time. Was it because he liked it, or was he just good at it? Maybe no one else wanted the job.

In his last years as Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, McMahon was also Vice-President of the Executive Council. This is new to me. I need to read about it. It seems from what I'm reading from Lord Wiki, this VP of the Executive Council is a bit like an understudy for the Governor-General.

Lord Wiki says this role doesn't require a lot of work so often it's given to a person who already has another ministry portfolio thing. I had been worried that perhaps McMahon had too much on his plate. But it seems I worried for nothing.

In 1966, Harold Holt became Prime Minister. McMahon took up Holt's old role; treasurer. I guess that economics degree came in handy. And again, he had two roles. He was also Deputy Prime Minister.

Lord Wiki says McMahon was unpopular with his colleagues. I can relate to that. I don't often feel popular.

McMahon was capable, but people saw him as being too overambitious.

Lord Wiki says the other issue was he had never been married. This led to rumors of him being homosexual.

This is fascinating to me. Could it be that he was not overambitious, and that the homosexual thing was the real problem? Or was homophobia more socially acceptable back then? Today, we're likely to make an excuse. Oh! I have no problem with him being gay. I have a lot of friends who are gay. It's just he's way too overambitious. Back in McMahon's day though, maybe people would be more willing to admit that they don't want you around because you're gay.

In 1965, he did finally get married. Did that put to rest the homosexual rumors? I doubt it.

Okay. I'm onto the Holt stuff now.

When Holt drowned, McMahon was supposed to become Prime Minister. John McEwen said no way to that. McEwen's Country party had some kind of coalition with the Liberal party. McEwen threatened to pull out if McMahon became leader. Lord Wiki says McEwen never publicly announced why he didn't like McMahon, but he told McMahon privately. If it was private, how does Lord Wiki know? Huh? Did McMahon spill the beans? McEwen himself? Was someone listening at the door?

Anyway, what McEwen supposedly said is he didn't trust McMahon. It seems they had some personal issues with each other (the whole gay and overambitious thing?); and also McMahon was into free trade while McEwen was more into protectionism.

While not being the next Prime Minister, McMahon played the role of Foreign Minister.

The Prime Minister was John Gorton.

In 1971, McEwen retired. His successor didn't hate McMahon as much he had. He called off the whole anti-McMahon thing. There was some kind of problem between Malcolm Fraser and Gorton. Gorton called a meeting. I guess they had a bit of a voting thing. Gorton and McMahon were tied. Gorton then voted against himself and let McMahon become leader. Gorton is now being added to my list. I can't help but be interested in a man who votes against himself.

Here I have what might be my favorite Lord Wiki statement of all time. McMahon found being Prime Minister an unenjoyable experience. I don't know why that sounds funny to me. Maybe it's because it sounds like he's talking about a picnic with too many mosquitoes. Well, that just wasn't as fun as I expected.

McMahon was leader during the Vietnam War. That had become unpopular so McMahon probably didn't feel a lot of love from the Australian public. It seemed there was also some competition between him and Whitlam. I think Whitlam must have been the Leader of the Opposition. And people liked him better than McMahon.

McMahon attacked Whitlam for recognizing China and then had to change his views when Nixon visited China. You know....if Americans do it than it must be okay. Yeah, I can see how having to backtrack like that would have been a bit humiliating for McMahon.

The economy didn't do so good. Another strike against McMahon. He also wasn't good at the TV thing. Whitlam was much better. It kind of reminds me of McCain vs. Obama.

I'm feeling sorry for McMahon. I can't relate to his all of his Liberal viewpoints, but I can relate to the feeling that no one likes me. I can relate to that feeling of knowing everyone supports my rival and not me.

In fourth grade, someone started a rumor that I had said something bad about one of the popular kids. I don't remember what they thought I said. I do remember that I had NOT said anything bad. I think what I said had been related to Annie. Anyway, I became the big enemy of the whole fourth grade that day. It was an awful feeling. I wonder if my innocence of the "crime" made me feel worse. Or would I have felt worse if I had truly been guilty?

When Whitlam became Prime Minister, McMahon was part of the Shadow Ministry for awhile. But that role ended for him in 1974.

Well, here's the good news. Someone must have liked McMahon...at least a little bit. He was knighted in 1977. He resigned from the whole parliament thing in 1982.

He died in 1988 of cancer. 1988 was a really horrible year for me. I mean not because McMahon died. I didn't know about that back then. I had my own little issues.

Okay, I'm done with Lord Wiki.

This website says that McMahon went to another school besides Sydney Grammar School. They say he went to Abbotsholme Grammar School. I can't find a school like that in Australia; just one in the UK. Does that mean he lived in the UK for awhile? Maybe his parents sent him to boarding school there?

McMahon had three siblings and became an orphan. His mother died when he was eight and his dad died when he was eighteen. I'm feeling a real soft spot in my heart for this guy.

The website says he was raised by his aunt and uncle from his mom's side. Does this mean they took him from his father? It's not like you need someone to raise you after you're eighteen.

There's further explanation here about why McEwen didn't like McMahon. It's well-written and comprehensive, but unfortunately I'm probably not intelligent enough to understand it. I'm going to try though.

It has something to do with butter.

I like butter.

It was found humorous by some that McMahon was chosen to be the Minister for Agricultural, Fisheries, and Forestry. He was a city boy who now had a rural job. This reminds me of how people laughed when Michael Keaton got the role of Batman, and Tom Cruise got the role of Lestat.

Anyway, this is where I get more confused.

I THINK McEwen was supposed to be McMahon's mentor in this whole rural job thing. Instead of kissing McEwen's ass, McMahon kissed the ass of other people. This made McEwen mad. They had a fight about the price of butter. McEwen had a background as a dairy farmer and did not like the fact that McMahon was treading into his territory.

Later, McEwen was mad about McMahon's relationship with a business journalist named Maxwell Newton. Relationship? Was this where some of the homosexual rumors came in? It seems that McMahon would be friends with journalists who would then write negative things about McEwen. Did McEwen believe there was something beyond a business/friendship relationship?

Some odd stuff happened in December 1967. On the 8th of that month, the Governor-General met with McMahon. I'm getting that he was trying to act as a mediator. I guess this was all about the McEwen issue and all that. They had a long meeting in which McMahon took notes. On December 15, he met with Holt and insisted that Holt should have the notes to the meeting. Two days later, Holt drowned. I wonder if he ever had a chance to read the notes. I doubt that it would have mattered all that much.

John Gorton had given the Liberal Party the beginning of a bad reputation. That along with the war had made the Liberal Party lose it's appeal in the general public. McMahon's situation really does remind me a lot of John McCain's. They both had to compete with people who came across awesome on television. They both had to deal with an unpopular war.

The website has some trivia stuff, including the fact that McMahon's Ministry was the first to have a Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. And it was during his leadership, that the Aboriginal Legal Service was established in Redfern. This does not seem to be the same legal centre that Virgina Bell was involved with.

This other website conflicts with the last one. This one says that McMahon's mom died when he was only four and his dad died when he was sixteen. I wonder which website has the ages right. Maybe neither.

This site though does offer some more insight into McMahon's childhood. They were wealthy. When his mom died, his father shuffled him off to his late wife's family. It seems he was too busy being a successful lawyer. He didn't have time to do the daddy thing. McMahon was the oldest sibling. What happened to the other kids? Did they go live with the aunt and uncle as well. Or did the other siblings come after the mother died? Maybe his father had children with someone else? Otherwise, McMahon's poor mom had three kids under the age of four. I'm getting exhausted just trying to imagine that.

The uncle who raised McMahon was Sir Samuel Walder--a prominent politician and businessman.

William McMahon wrote two books. One's called The Wit and Wisdom of William McMahon and the other was William McMahon: the politics of power. The first title seems a bit odd to me. Why does he refer to himself in third person? I think it would have been better to call it My Wit and Wisdom, or Wit and Wisdom from Yours Truly.

Now I'm on to my third non Lord Wiki website. This one comes closer to the first. It says McMahon's mom died when he was nine. The website is an Australian government website. I probably trust it over the last website which was a Geocites one. Maybe I'm being naive and foolish. Why should I trust a government website? Why do I care so much about when McMahon's mom died? Ah, the mysteries of life.

After World War II, McMahon did some traveling. He went to England, France, and North America. Interesting.

The website has some information about Aboriginal affairs that happened during McMahon's rein. I know from past research that it wasn't all positive.  Well, seeing that the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was set up during this time. It was a protest for some decision that was made in the McMahon Ministry.

The government went along with what the Gibb Committee said. What did the Gibb Committee say? Well, this other website makes them seem pretty racist. They say, The Committee recommended in effect that Aboriginal culture be declared dead and Aboriginal people be fenced in.

Okay, that's how the website interprets it, but this is what they quote from the actual report. That in appropriate areas land be obtained by excision, or by sub-lease from the pastoralists for Aboriginal communities for limited village, economic and recreational purposes to enable Aborigines to preserve traditional cultural ties and obligations and to provide the community with a measure of autonomy; such land naturally needs access to adequate water supplies but in addition it should be of such an area and such a quality that some supplementary activities may be encouraged upon it eg pig, poultry and fishing, gardening and artifact making, etc.

I see the fenced in part, but not the declared dead part. It kind of sounds like our Native American reservations here. It's probably not the most open-minded and fair policy, but at least they planned to give them water and stuff. Plus, the recommendations talk about preserving traditional culture. I think this is better than the Stolen Generation thing. One 's about assimilation and the other seems to be a matter of you-do-your-thing-just-keep-it-away-from-us.

Around this time, the Supreme Court rejected Yolngu rights to land. I think this is what sparked the Tent Embassy thing. The McMahons went to the Northern Territory. They opened a residential college near Darwin. I wonder if that's still around.

Oh no. I'm going to lose my mind. The National Museum of Canberra puts the mothers death at age 4. I trust that museum. I heard it's a good museum. I'm going to go to that museum.

Will you people make up your mind? Why do I keep getting conflicting facts? I'm not mentally stable. Okay? I need consistency! Is that too much to ask?

Anyway, forget that.

Here's something exciting. It was during McMahon's Ministry that the first Pizza Hut and McDonald's appeared in Australia. I wonder if McDonald's was welcomed in Australia back then. Did we all have such hatred for fast food in those days? Morgan Spurlock was only a baby at the time.

It's not just dangerous food that made it's debut during McMahon's Ministry. The Child Care Act 1972 appeared. This allowed the government to give grants to nonprofit childcare centers.

This website compares McMahon allowing McDonald's to breed all over Australia to the whole incident of the rabbits breeding all over McDonald's. What's worse? Too many rabbits or too many McDonald's? They're both probably bad. But rabbits are cuter than an evil scary clown.

In this UK gay website, McMahon's wife Sonia McMahon strongly speaks out against her husband being labeled a homosexual. She says, Bill was a sophisticated, cultured, and fashion-conscious man. I think if someone doesn't conform to an ocker-macho stereotype, they get branded as being homosexual. That's so silly.

I'm guilty of this. I know I shouldn't. But I fall for the stereotypes. I do think the stereotypes are sometimes based on reality. But there are always exceptions.

I wonder if Sonia McMahon is homophobic. I can't assume that just because she's so against the idea of her husband being gay. It IS an insult to her because it infers their marriage was a sham. It infers he used her for political reason. I don't think anyone wants to be used.

She seems to have loved her husband. She says, I can tell you that he was a loving man, a true romantic.

That's sweet. I hope they really did love each other.

The Freemasons website says that William McMahon was one of them. They deny being a secretive and sinister organization, but do admit to having a secret handshake and stuff. They seem fairly straightforward to me--unlike Scientology. Though there are elements of the ceremonial which are generally not discussed in detail they are by no means secret. Freemasons are sometimes reluctant to discuss these in order to retain an element of surprise for joining members in much the same way as the key points of a movie are not generally discussed in order to avoid spoiling the ending. I can buy that. I also like how they say this, Freemasonry has long since ceased to have any real secrets. The passwords, signs and the full text of the ceremonies of Freemasonry have been printed in copious books, some more accurate than others, and widely published on the internet. One quick search on any respectable search engine should satisfy the curiosity of the skeptical or suspicious.

Yeah....unlike Scientology which tries to shut down websites that might give away the BIG secrets.

This Time Magazine article from 1971 describes McMahon as being bald, hardworking, and shorter than his wife. It suggests that Sonia McMahon accidentally helped her husband win votes by having her miniskirt and legs in the wrong wind at the wrong time. Well, that's a bit offensive; both towards McMahon and feminists. Although, it could actually be somewhat true. I think our vote too often is swayed by things such as hairstyles and sex appeal.

Here's another article about the McMahon marriage.

The article says McMahon had a romance with a woman who was part of his staff, but felt her social level wasn't high enough. Was he simply just using this woman? Did he love her, but less than his political aspirations?

She wasn't the only one though. He had a lot of different dates through the years. This is all coming from McMahon's private secretary. According to her, there was no evidence of homosexual interest or behavior.

Mr. and Mrs. McMahon's first date was at the Coachman in Redfern. I think the place still exists. They hit it off right away, realizing they had the same sense of humor and the same love of ballet.

That's sweet.

I don't like ballet. I'm not very cultured.

Sonia McMahon says, Even though it wasn't love at first sight for me, by the time I was saying my vows I really was besotted. I can honestly say that there wasn't anything about him that I didn't like. Well, that's good. I guess it's better than being madly in love at the first site and then being repulsed by the time you're saying your vows.

They didn't discuss or plan to have children; and were shocked when Sonia became pregnant. I guess sex education wasn't taught enough in those days.

She didn't agree with young mothers who neglected their husband for their children. So, instead she left her child with a nanny in Sydney and went off to Canberra to be with her hubby. Is there not a way that a parent can give attention to both their spouse and child equally? Maybe I'm misreading this. The way it's written it sounds like she pretty much abandoned the child completely to a nanny. But it could just be that she did a lot of traveling with her husband and left the child behind. Maybe between travels she took care of the child. I was one of those moms who was VERY attached to my child. I had a hard time leaving for a few hours to a book club. I can't imagine leaving my baby to travel around the world. I was at one end of an extreme. McMahon seems to be on the exact opposite. Most people are probably in the middle somewhere.

There's a sad story. Sonia was engaged earlier to another man. They had the invitations done and everything. Then he dumped her. I feel bad, but I do think it's better that this happened rather than having a marriage that was lacking love.

She had a hard time trusting men though after that. Who can blame her?

McMahon gives her definition of being in love. It's wanting to be with that person all the time. It's being excited when you are together. It's about mutual trust.

Oh! I love that definition. I think it's one of the best definitions of love I've ever seen. I don't think it's realistic for anyone to want to be with anyone else for every single moment. But I think when you truly love someone, you prefer to be with that person over any other person. It's not that you don't need breaks from each other. But when you're with other people you can't wait to get home and be with the one you love.

Maybe I'm way too idealistic about love.

I don't know.

Sonia McMahon became interested in politics.

I think this is important in a relationship too; sharing interests. I think it's unhealthy when a couple has too many separate hobbies and interests that their partner knows little about. I think it's good that Sonia McMahon took interest in her husband's career. And it seems William McMahon welcomed this and listened to her viewpoints.

They shared.

I am totally falling for Sonia McMahon's fairytale here. She has me hooked. Is it all true? Was their relationship really that great, or is it one of those things where a spouse dies and suddenly the widow puts the dead guy on a pedestal? I hope not. I want to believe.

Mrs. McMahon admits her husband picked out her outfits. In some ways, I think that's very sexy. I mean it COULD be a bit controlling. But if it's done in a nice way? I think there can be something romantic about it.

I think in relationships there needs to be a balance between too much control and too much freedom.. With some couples, there is too much control. If I ever see you talking to another man, I'll kill the both of you. No, you may not take an art class. You need to be home with me every night. No, you can't take a walk on the beach. You might drown. I forbid you to wear that dress! You look like a slut.

But I think the opposite extreme can be hard to tolerate as well. What some might interpret to be complete freedom and trust, another might interpret as callousness and indifference. I don't think it hurts to feel/show a LITTLE jealousy and a little worry/concern about your loved one's safety. I think it's sweet to make suggestions about what your partner should wear, as long as it's not done in a way that's critical or rejecting. I think it's sweet to say, please be careful and call me when you get there. That's not having a lack of faith in your partner. It's about being aware of the dangers in the world, and it's also showing you want to protect that which is most important to you.

Okay. I'm glad to get THAT off my chest. Thank you, Sonia McMahon and William McMahon for giving me a springboard.

I really enjoyed doing this research. And I now know more about William McMahon than I ever imagined I wanted to know.