William McKell, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Date of Death


William McKell

former Governor-General of Australia

Date of Birth: 26-Sep-1891

Place of Birth: Pambula, New South Wales, Australia

Date of Death: 11-Jan-1985

Profession: politician

Nationality: Australia

Zodiac Sign: Libra

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About William McKell

  • Sir William John McKell (26 September 1891 – 11 January 1985), often known as Bill McKell, was an Australian politician who served as the 12th Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1947 to 1953.
  • He had previously been Premier of New South Wales from 1941 to 1947, as leader of the Labor Party. McKell was born in the small town of Pambula, New South Wales, but grew up in Sydney.
  • He left school at the age of thirteen, training as a boilermaker at Mort's Dock.
  • McKell soon became involved with the union movement, and after a brief period on the railways began working full-time as a union secretary.
  • He sided with the anti-conscriptionists during the Labor Party split of 1916, and at the 1917 state election defeated James McGowen, a former Labor premier who had been expelled from the party.
  • In 1920, aged 29, McKell was made Minister for Justice under John Storey.
  • He also served as a minister under John Dooley and Jack Lang. During the Labor Party's internal tensions in the 1930s, McKell came to be seen as a compromise candidate for the leadership of the party.
  • He replaced Jack Lang as leader of the opposition in 1939, and became premier following Labor's surprise victory at the 1941 state election.
  • As premier, McKell oversaw both the war effort and the initial stages of post-war reconstruction, carrying out an ambitious programme of public works as well as various social reforms.
  • He was re-elected with an increased majority at the 1944 election, making him the first Labor premier to win multiple elections in New South Wales. McKell had planned to retire from public life in 1946, but was instead convinced by Ben Chifley to become governor-general.
  • His appointment was initially controversial due to its openly political nature; Robert Menzies called it "shocking and humiliating".
  • However, when Menzies returned as prime minister in 1949 they formed an amicable working relationship.
  • Some of McKell's actions as governor-general were unpopular amongst his old Labor Party colleagues, notably his acceptance of a knighthood and his decision to grant Menzies a double dissolution in 1951.
  • In later life, he served as a trustee of the Sydney Cricket Ground and as a member of the Reid Commission, which drafted the Constitution of Malaysia.

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