Stanley Argyle portrait

Stanley Argyle, premier 1932-35
Title Premier Stanley Argyle
Artist Nell Govett
Date 1931-2
Medium Oil on canvas
1050 x 840 x 30 mm
Premier 19th May 1932 – 2nd April 1935

Sir Stanley Seymour Argyle was born on the 4 December 1867 at Kyneton, Victoria. He studied medicine and bacteriology at the University of Melbourne and Kings College, London, and on returning to Australia set up as a general practitioner. In 1898 was elected to the Kew local council, serving as mayor from 1903 to 1905.

Before embarking on a career as a state politician, Argyle distinguished himself in the emerging field of radiology at the Alfred Hospital and in military hospitals during the First World War. He was elected to the council of the Victorian Branch of the British Medical Association in 1918, and was its vice-president in 1923, 1924 and president in 1925.

In October 1920 Argyle was elected to the Legislative Assembly in the seat of Toorak. He was appointed Chief Secretary and Minister of Public Health intermittently during conservative governments of 1923 – 1924, 1924-1927 and 1928 -1929. He was knighted in 1930 and later that year was chosen to lead the United Australia Party (UAP) in opposition. Arguing for lessening expenditure, taxation reform and the creation of sustenance work for the employed, a UAP – Country Party coalition was elected to government in May 1932 with Argyle as premier, treasurer and Minister for Health.

As premier, Argyle adopted these and other measures in a concerted effort to combat the worsening economic crisis. The Transport Regulation Act and Closer Settlement Act were also notable reforms during of the Argyle government. Construction projects, such as the beautification of the Domain and construction of the Yarra Boulevard in connection with Centenary of Victoria and Melbourne Celebrations of 1934-1935, and the provision of additional Melbourne parklands were also significant outcomes of Argyle’s term as premier.

At the election in 1935, the Country party withdrew support from Argyle’s UAP; its leader Albert Dunstan forming government in a Labor Party coalition. Sir Stanley Argyle once again became leader of the opposition, a position which he held until his death on the 23 November 1940.

This portrait by artist Nell (Helena) Govett (b.1882 – d.1965) was a finalist in the 1932 Archibald Prize.


© Nell Govett