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Gardiner, Albert (Jupp) (1867–1952)

by Mark Lyons

This entry is from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Albert Gardiner (1867-1952), by T. Humphrey & Co., 1920s

Albert Gardiner (1867-1952), by T. Humphrey & Co., 1920s

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an24261479

Albert (Jupp) Gardiner (1867-1952), politician, was born on 30 July 1867 at Orange, New South Wales, seventh son of William Gardiner, wheelwright, and his wife Charlotte, née Davis, both native-born. Educated at the local public school, he was apprenticed at 15 as a carpenter. In 1890 he moved to Parkes to build the Hazlehurst gold battery, stayed to work as a feeder and in the 1891 election stood for Forbes as the newly formed Labor Electoral League's candidate. He was an Anglican and a total abstainer; the Protestant temperance movement had afforded him debating practice. He was also well known as a cricketer, footballer and amateur boxer. Despite his youth, he topped the poll. In 1894 he won the new single-member electorate of Ashburnham. Although he had refused to agree to the 1893 solidarity pledge, claiming later that it might compromise his temperance principles, he was endorsed by four of the five local leagues. In parliament he was not accepted by official Labor, and voted mainly with the Free Traders. He was defeated in 1895.

Out of parliament, he put some of his energies into rugby football and, known as 'Jupp' Gardiner, played in the forwards for New South Wales against New Zealand and Queensland in 1897 and against England in 1899. An organizer for the Australian Workers' Union in 1898 he was an unsuccessful Free Trade candidate for Ashburnham next year and Independent candidate for Orange in 1901; in the absence of official Labor candidates he received union support.

At Summer Hill, Sydney, on 26 January 1892 he married Ada Evelyn Jewell with Congregational forms; they were divorced in 1897. On 3 April 1902 Gardiner married Theresa Alice Clayton at Parramatta, taking a job in Fiji with the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Dissatisfied with conditions, he resigned and after visiting New Zealand returned to Orange to join the Labor Party, emboldened by the inclusion in its platform of local option. He won Orange in the 1904 election and not long afterwards, when a royal commission sought to investigate land scandals attributed to Paddy Crick and William Willis, he attracted State-wide publicity with charges implicating the premier Sir Joseph Carruthers in other land scandals and for having links with Willis. He revived these charges during the 1907 campaign which he lost. He then became a State political organizer for the A.W.U.

Gardiner was impressive for his size and weight of some eighteen stone (120 kg) and his forceful delivery, 'rapid in utterance, fiery in tone'. In 1910 he was one of the team of three successful Labor Senate candidates. A member of the parliamentary delegation to the coronation in 1911, he was made vice-president of the Executive Council in 1914. In 1915-16 as assistant minister for defence he took a close interest in the conditions of military camps. He opposed conscription and resigned from cabinet on the eve of the first conscription referendum in October 1916. In the much smaller Labor Opposition, he became Labor leader of the Senate (for three years he was the only Labor senator) and subsequently deputy leader of the party. In 1918 he achieved some fame by delivering an overnight speech lasting twelve hours forty minutes, the longest ever in Federal parliament; this forced the introduction of a time limit on parliamentary speeches.

Although he never discarded his free trade opinions, loyalty to the Federal Labor Party characterized Gardiner's remaining years of political activity. In 1923 he joined Matthew Charlton and the State parliamentary leader, James Dooley, in attacking the executive of the New South Wales branch of the party as corrupt and in bringing about Federal intervention when the State executive expelled Dooley and appointed J. J. G. McGirr as parliamentary leader. Late in 1925 he lost his Senate seat. In 1927, with the New South Wales party again split, Gardiner supported the A.W.U. faction against Jack Lang. His criticism of the Lang faction earned his expulsion from the party. Next year, after nomination by the anti-Lang leader T. D. Mutch, Gardiner was elected to a Senate vacancy created by the death of John Grant. As it was a casual vacancy, he filled the position for only five months. Without party endorsement, it was futile for him to stand again for the Senate. Instead, in the 1928 Federal election, he contested Dalley, against E. G. Theodore, as an Independent Labor candidate. In 1931, when the Federal Executive of the A.L.P. expelled the New South Wales branch, Gardiner joined the official branch set up in opposition to Lang's party. He worked loyally for the branch and contested the State seats of Waverley (1932) and Canterbury (1935) but polled badly both times. He then retired from active politics and resumed his trade as a builder. He died on 14 August 1952 at his home at Bondi Junction, and was cremated. He was survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

Select Bibliography

  • B. Nairn, Civilising Capitalism (Canb, 1973)
  • D. J. Murphy (ed), Labor in Politics (Brisb, 1975)
  • AWU, Official Report of Annual Convention, 1910
  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 23 July 1895, 10 Aug 1904
  • Western Champion (Parkes), 1 July 1898
  • Orange Leader, 9 Aug 1904, 20 Aug 1907
  • Punch (Melbourne), 22 Aug 1912
  • Argus (Melbourne), 18 Sept 1914
  • Smith's Weekly (Sydney), 13 Nov 1937
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Aug 1952.

Citation details

Mark Lyons, 'Gardiner, Albert (Jupp) (1867–1952)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/gardiner-albert-jupp-6275/text10815, accessed 27 September 2017.

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