Thomas Holloway portrait

Thomas Hollway, premier 1947-50, 1952
Title Premier Thomas Hollway
Artist Charles Bush
Date 1984
Medium Oil on canvas
1150 x 890 x 45 mm

Premier 20th November 1947 – 3rd December 1948

Premier 3rd December 1948 – 27th June 1950

Born on the 2nd October 1906 in Ballarat, Thomas Tuke Hollway studied Arts and Law at the University of Melbourne and worked as a solicitor in Ballarat. In 1932, at age 25, he won the seat of Ballarat in the Legislative Assembly for the United Australia Party (UAP). His rise within the UAP was swift. In 1940 he became party whip, deputy leader and in November, on the death of Stanley Argyle, party leader and opposition leader. While in parliament Hollway signed up to the RAAF in February 1942 and served in New Guinea before being transferred to the reserve in 1943.

Hollway’s negotiations with John Cain over a redistribution bill resulted in the resignation of County Party premier Albert Dunstan and the formation of the brief September 1943 Cain Labor ministry. He subsequently agreed to a UAP-Country Party coalition government with Dunstan with the expectation that reforms to electoral redistribution and education would be enacted. This coalition was not harmonious, and in September 1945 dissatisfied members voted with Labor in the Assembly to deny supply. Dunstan resigned as premier and Tom Hollway was once again in opposition.

At the 1947 election the Liberal Party (as the UAP had been known as since 1945) formed a coalition with the Country Party now lead by John McDonald. As Premier, Hollway struggled to control the disproportionate influence of the Country Party and while overseas at Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference, McDonald as Acting Premier inflamed tensions with his handling of a large industrial dispute. On his return Hollway negotiated a settlement with unionists and after a series of fiery cabinet meetings, the Country Party left the coalition in December 1948. The Liberals, renamed the Liberal and Country Party (L&CP) in defiance of the Country Party, were able to continue governing until the June 1950 election.

Hollway was leader of the opposition during the McDonald-Cain coalition government and campaigned for electoral reform before losing the party leadership to Les Norman. Hollway was expelled from the LC&P two years later for moving an unsuccessful vote of no-confidence against McDonald. On the 18th of July 1952, Labor and Hollway supporters blocked Legislative Council supply and McDonald resigned as premier. Hollway and his supporters, known as the Electoral Reform league (ERL) were able to form a Government lasting three days, before McDonald was re-commissioned as Premier by the Governor on the 31st of October and was granted dissolution of parliament.

As an ERL candidate Thomas Hollway as the candidate for the ERL successfully challenged for the seat of Glen Iris, deposing sitting member Les Norman in the 1952 election. His campaign for electoral reform was realised by the Cain Government’s 1953 Electoral Districts Act and with fitting irony, Hollway’s seat was abolished during the subsequent redistribution of seats. Failing to gain re-election in the seat of Ripponlea, Thomas Hollway retired to Point Lonsdale with his wife Sheila. He died at age 64 on the 30th July 1971.

This portrait, by Charles Bush (b. 1919 d.1989), was painted posthumously. Bush was called up for duty with the Militia in 1941 and by 1943 was employed as a war artist. He finished his service in 1946 as a lieutenant. He won many awards throughout his career and is represented in the National Gallery of Australia and the Australian War Memorial collections, most state galleries as well as private collections internationally.


© Charles Bush