Pyrmont and Ultimo in the federal Labor Party
For half a century after Federation, West Sydney – covering Pyrmont and Ultimo – was such a safe Labor seat that it was taken for granted. When he became Prime Minister, Billy Hughes ditched his opposition to CSR, and his wharfie clients, to wage war for Australia and the empire. Understandably, he moved to electorates more in sympathy with his evolving values.
William Lambert was elected to the West Sydney seat, but rarely troubled Hansard. When he lost pre-selection in 1928, he told tales of Labor Party corruption, leading to a Royal Commission. It was his last stand against a party in which the AWU had lost much of its influence.
Jack Beasley then represented West Sydney, but devoted the 1930s to factional warfare, allied to Jack Lang. Briefly Charlie Hackett, Beasley and Armstrong created a splinter Non-Communist Labor Party. Only when Curtin led a reunited Labor Party did Beasley at last exercise his talents as a Minister.
Beasley was followed by William O’Çonnor, a taciturn AWU organiser, who (in 1949) moved quietly to another safe seat. The last member for West Sydney before it was abolished in 1949 was Dan Minogue, a salesman and publican. If he made a mark, it has been erased.
John Ignatius Armstrong was Senator from 1938 to 1962, when he was out-manoeuvred by factional opponents. Curiously, he was the second Pyrmont lad, after Beasley, to end his public career in the unlikely role of High Commissioner to the Court of Saint James.