Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

Blogging the Bookshelf header image 2

King O’Malley – “The Light on the Hill” – Ross McMullin

August 24th, 2011 · No Comments · Australian, Australian Labor Party, Australiana, History, Politics, Progressive Politics

As Labor’s members gathered in Melbourne for the opening of federal parliament, they found a bizarre sight awaiting them: a tall, garishly dressed man with thick reddish-brown hair and beard, sporting a dazzling tiepin of precious stones and ‘a gigantic felt hat’; with his Yankee twang, he ‘suggested a three-fold compromise between a wild west romantic hero from the cattle ranches, a spruiker from Barnum’s Circus, and a Western American statesman’. His name was King O’Malley. His origins are obscure, partly owing to his fundamental insecurity which led him to distort the truth and exaggerate his role in events. He apparently left American in 1888, and sold insurance in Victoria, Tasmania and probably WA, before arriving in Adelaide in 18793. He served a term in the SA Assembly, where he did not join Labor and crusaded for the abolition of barmaids and ‘stagger juice’ (alcohol). Defeated in 1899, he crossed to Tasmania. His showmanship went down well with Tasmania’s west coast miners. But those who dismissed him as an eccentric buffoon missed the complex radical underneath, who now wanted to implement his quirky reform agenda through the Labor Party.

Tags: ······

No Comments so far ↓

Like gas stations in rural Texas after 10 pm, comments are closed.