Monday, November 24, 2014

Red Ted Theodore (and other Labor luminaries)

In successive months we lost two mighty Labor politicians - former prime minister Gough Whitlam and former Queensland premier Wayne Goss. I am not really from their side of the political spectrum but I did vote for each of them at the elections that propelled them to high office. 

Gough Whitlam (11/07/1916 - 21/10/2014)
(Photo: National Library of Australia) 

Gough Whitlam's "It's Time" slogan in 1972 resonated with me, particularly on the policy of conscription. By 1975 and the infamous Khemlani loans affair Whitlam's government was on the nose with me and plenty of others who voted him out after Fraser forced a double dissolution by refusing to allow the passage of the financial legislation needed to run the country. The closest I ever got to Whitlam was to be on the same plane as him on a flight from Maryborough in Queensland to Brisbane in 1971 when he was leader of the opposition. A man of huge stature and enormous charisma, he had the flight attendants and fellow passengers stealing admiring glances at him for the duration of the short flight. Many of the things that we now take for granted were products of the Whitlam era and it is a real shame that his government couldn't manage the country's finances effectively and subsequently ran off the rails. Whitlam remained an elder statesman and almost a cult hero until his recent death. Now he is a legend.

Wayne Goss (26/02/1951 – 10/11/2014)

Wayne Goss grew up just a couple of streets from me and we went to the same school a year apart. I knew him as a youth from the basketball courts and footy fields, but not as a man. Having said that, I attended the opening night of the Brisbane International Film Festival one year when Goss was Premier of Queensland, some twenty-plus years after our school days. He was also on the board of BIFF and he was greeting patrons as they arrived at the cinema. He knew me instantly and greeted me by name - a politician's gift to be sure, but but the mark of an impressive human being. The Goss government's willingness to attack corruption and make government accountable were landmark steps in Queensland and Wayne Goss deserves all the accolades being paid to him. His life and achievements were celebrated last Friday at a memorial service that was held at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. Well played, Wayne!

Edward Theodore (29/12/1884 - 09/02/1950)

Another outstanding Labor politician from yesteryear is Edward Granville Theodore, who became known as Red Ted Theodore. He was initially a miner and a union organiser in North Queensland, but turned to politics in 1909 by winning the state seat of Woothaka. Theodore formed the Amalgamated Workers Association, the forerunner of today's Australian Workers Union. He became the state's treasurer under premier TJ Ryan and then succeeded Ryan as premier, a post he held between 1919 and 1925.

While in Queensland politics, Theodore bought this house in New Farm that still stands today.

(Photo: 2013

(Photo: BCC) 2010

Although partially hidden by vegetation, the roof and verandahs of this house give a clue to its designer, Robin Dods. Dods designed the house for barrister John Trude who had it built in 1907 and then sold it to Theodore in 1918, so it would have been Theodore's base whilst he was the state's premier.

Theodore moved to the federal sphere in 1927, contesting and winning a seat in New South Wales. He later became deputy prime minister and treasurer, living in the upmarket Kirribilli area. He sold this house in 1933.

Click here for a Google Map.



  1. Hi TFF, I think Ted Theodore was born in 1884, not 1894

    1. You are of course correct Michael - I have made the necessary correction to the typo.

      Thanks for being alert & letting me know.



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