James Scullin was born in the small town of Trawalla in Western Victoria, the son of John Scullin, a railway worker, and Ann (née Logan), both of Irish Catholic descent from Derry. He was educated at state primary schools and then worked as a grocer in Ballarat while studying at night school and privately in public libraries and honing his public speaking skills in local debating clubs.
He joined the Labor Party in 1903 and became an organiser for the Australian Workers’ Union. In 1913, he became editor of a Labor newspaper in Ballarat, the Evening Echo. He was a devout Roman Catholic, a non-drinker and a non-smoker all his life.
Scullin stood for the House of Representatives seat of Division of Ballarat in 1906 against Alfred Deakin, but lost. In 1910 he was elected to the House for the country seat of Corangamite, but he was defeated in 1913 and went back to editing the Evening Echo.
He established a reputation as one of Labor’s leading public speakers and experts on finance, and was a strong opponent of conscription. After World War I he came close to outright pacifism. In 1922 he won a by-election for the safe Labor seat of Yarra in inner Melbourne, and in 1928 he was elected Labor leader following the resignation of Matthew Charlton.
In 1929 the conservative government of Stanley Bruce fell when its industrial relations bill was defeated in the House of Representatives. In the subsequent elections Scullin campaigned as the defender of the industrial arbitration system and won a landslide victory, becoming Australia’s first Roman Catholic Prime Minister. As this election was only for the House of Representatives the conservatives retained control of the Senate. Two days after Scullin took office on 22 October 1929, the New York stock market crashed and Australia became caught up in the worldwide Great Depression.
Complete article : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Scullin
Within the framework of his commitment to Labor he held other fundamental beliefs. He remained a devout Roman Catholic, some of the Church’s teachings, for example Rerum novarum, influencing him on questions of social justice. An Australian nationalist, he preferred unification to the Federal system. He was a strong supporter of the White Australia policy and of high protection for manufacturing industries.
Scullin was of medium height and trim build. He had handsome, regular features, which afforded cartoonists little scope for caricature. Several times while party leader he suffered bouts of ill health, but recovered well until the development from 1935 of serious illnesses.
Complete article : http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110568b.htm
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