John Ignatius Armstrong

John Ignatius Armstrong AC (1908-1977), politician and businessman, was born in Ultimo, baptised at St Bede’s Church Pyrmont, where he had his primary education. He worked and lived in The Butchers Arms (now the Dunkirk). A good boxer and better debater, he was a lifelong member of the Labor Party, which he represented in the Sydney Municipal Council (1934-1948) and the Senate (1938-1962). He was a Minister (1946-1949) and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (1951-1956).

Eased out of the Senate by his colleagues, he returned to local politics. He chaired Sydney County Council in 1963 and became Lord Mayor in 1965. Next year Premier Askin sacked the Council, and Armstrong focussed on his business interests and collection of Australian art. His final public appointment, by Whitlam, was as High Commissioner in London (1973-1975). He died in 1977, in Batemans Bay.

Armstrong was a superb local politician, gregarious and generous with his time, money and advice. At national level his career was both advanced and limited by his Catholicism, republicanism and fierce anti-communism.