Stanley Argyle
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Stanley Argyle

Sir Stanley Argyle

Sir Stanley Argyle.jpg
32nd Premier of Victoria

19 May 1932 - 2 April 1935
DeputySir Robert Menzies
Edmond Hogan
Albert Dunstan
Personal details
Born4 December 1867
Kyneton, Victoria, Australia
Died23 November 1940(1940-11-23) (aged 72)
Toorak, Melbourne, Australia
Spouse(s)Violet Ellen Jessie Lewis

Sir Stanley Seymour Argyle KBE (4 December 1867 - 23 November 1940), Australian politician, was the 32nd Premier of Victoria.

Early life and education

He was born in Kyneton, Victoria, the son of a grazier, and was educated at Brighton Grammar School and Trinity College within the University of Melbourne, where he graduated in medicine. He also studied bacteriology at King's College London.


After further study in the United Kingdom, he went into general practice in Kew (a wealthy Melbourne suburb), and was later a pioneer of radiology in Australia. He was a member of the Kew City Council 1898-1905 and was mayor in 1903-05. During World War I he was consultant radiologist to the Australian Imperial Force in Egypt and in France, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. After the war he invested in dairy farming, milk processing and citrus growing.

Throughout his life, Argyle showed a keen interest in the quality of Melbourne's milk supply. Argyle founded the Willsmere Certificated Milk Co. in 1898, of which he was a director until 1920. As a member of the Legislative Assembly, he objected to the metropolitan milk bill, which was intended to improve the quality of Melbourne's milk. After the bill was held up in the Legislative Council in 1921, he was nominated to a committee to consider amendments, and visited New Zealand to report on milk-supply there.[1]

Political career

Argyle in 1927

Argyle was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the seat of Toorak in 1920, as an independent Nationalist. He was Chief Secretary and Minister for Health in the ministries of Harry Lawson, John Allan, Alexander Peacock and William McPherson between 1923 and 1928. When McPherson resigned as leader of the Nationalist Party, Argyle was chosen to succeed him, and in 1931 the party was renamed the United Australia Party (UAP). He led the opposition to Ned Hogan's minority Labor Party government, which was unable to cope with the effects of the Great Depression and was heavily defeated at the May 1932 elections.

Argyle formed a coalition government with the Country Party, led by Allan and later by Albert Dunstan. The government had a huge majority - 45 seats to Labor's 16. Ministers included the rising star of the UAP, Robert Menzies, who became Deputy Premier, Attorney-General and Minister for Railways. Argyle, a firm fiscal conservative, held to the orthodox view that in a time of depression government spending must be cut so that the budget remained in balance. This soon brought him into conflict with both the trade unions and the farmers, but at the time there seemed to be no alternative policy. Argyle was lucky in that the economy began to improve from 1932, and the unemployment rate fell from 27 percent in 1932 to 20 percent in 1934 and 14 percent in 1935. That led a reduction in unemployment relief payments and an increase in taxation revenue, easing the state's financial crisis.

Argyle fought the March 1935 election with an improving economy and a record of sound, if unimaginative, management. With the Labor Party opposition still divided and demoralised, he was rewarded with another very comfortable majority for his coalition government. But at that point he was unexpectedly betrayed by his Country Party allies. The Country Party leader, Albert Dunstan, was a close friend of the gambling boss John Wren, who was also very close to the Labor leader Tom Tunnecliffe (in the view of most historians, Tunnecliffe was, in fact, under Wren's control[]). Wren, aided by the Victorian Labor Party President, Arthur Calwell, persuaded Dunstan to break off the coalition with Argyle and form a minority Country Party government, which Labor would support in return for some policy concessions. Dunstan agreed to this deal, and in April 1935 he moved a successful no confidence vote in the government from which he had just resigned.

The UAP (and later its successor the Liberal Party) never forgave the Country Party for that treachery. Henry Bolte, later Victoria's longest-serving Premier, was 27 in 1935, and Dunstan's betrayal of Argyle lay behind his lifelong and intense dislike of the Country Party, whom he called "political prostitutes".[] Argyle remained in politics as Leader of the Opposition until his death in 1940.

Personal life

Stanley Argyle married Violet Jessie Lewis of "Spring Grove", Cotham Road, Kew at Holy Trinity Church, Kew on 24 January 1895. [2] They were to have two sons and two daughters;[3] the first of their children, Inez,[4] was born on 2 November 1895.[5]. The next, Betty,[6] was born on 26 March 1897.[7]. Their two sons, Tom,[8] and the youngest, Hector, were born on were born on 11 October 1899 and 2 October 1901 respectively.[9] The Argyles lived at Kew until 1919 when they purchased a property, 'Halstead', 29 Bruce St, Toorak[10] (where Stanley had erected on display armour from one of Napoleon's bodyguards, which he had found in Egypt).[11] In 1933 this home was demolished and a new one built to the design of architect Marcus Martin.[12] After the death of her husband, Lady Argyle moved to Perth where she died in 1963 at the age of 94. By this time all her children were also living in Perth.

Stanley Argyle was cousin to the British judge Michael Argyle.[13]


  1. ^ Shaw, A.G.L (1979). "Argyle, Sir Stanley Seymour (1867-1940)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 2008 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  2. ^ "Marriages", Table Talk, 11 January 1895, p. 14; "Marriages", Table Talk 25 January 1895, p. 13.
  3. ^ "Sir S. Argyle Dead" Sydney Morning Herald 25 November 1940 p. 11
  4. ^ "The Ladies Letter", Punch 12 December 1918 p. 36
  5. ^ 'Births' Melbourne Argus 5 November 1895 p. 1
  6. ^ "Ladies Letter" Table Talk 21 July 1921 p.31
  7. ^ 'Births' Melbourne Argus 13 April 1897 p. 1
  8. ^ "Births" Melbourne Argus 21 October 1899 p. 9; 'Argyle-Brinkley wedding' West Australian 23 February 1934 p. 6
  9. ^ "Births" Melbourne Argus 16 October 1901 p. 1;
  10. ^ "Social", Table Talk 9 January 1919 p. 30
  11. ^ "Help needed" Melbourne Age 25 March 1985 p. 12
  12. ^ "Former Premier's Home" Melbourne Age 28 March 1979, p. 37.
  13. ^ Michael Magazanik 'Argyle of the Bailey, a judge of perfect pedigree' Melbourne Age 3 June 1992 p. 3.


  • Geoff Browne, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1900-84, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1985
  • Don Garden, Victoria: A History, Thomas Nelson, Melbourne, 1984
  • Kate White, John Cain and Victorian Labour 1917-1957, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1982
  • Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel. A History of the Parliament of Victoria, 1856-1990, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992
Victorian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Norman Bayles
Member for Toorak
Succeeded by
Harold Thonemann
Political offices
Preceded by
Edmond Hogan
Premier of Victoria
Succeeded by
Albert Dunstan
Party political offices
Preceded by
William McPherson
Leader of the Nationalist Party in Victoria
Became the United Australia Party
New party Leader of the United Australia Party in Victoria
Succeeded by
Thomas Hollway

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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