Bill Ashley (politician)

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The Honourable
Bill Ashley
William Patrick Ashley.jpg
Senator for New South Wales
In office
23 October 1937 – 27 June 1958
Preceded by Guy Arkins
Succeeded by James Ormonde
Personal details
Born (1881-09-20)20 September 1881
Hay, New South Wales
Died 27 June 1958(1958-06-27) (aged 76)
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Theresa Ellen Maloney
Occupation Tobacconist

William Patrick Ashley (20 September 1881 – 27 June 1958) was an Australian politician.

Ashley was born at Singorambah, near Hay, New South Wales and educated at Hay. He went to South Africa in May 1902, but saw no action in the Second Boer War and returned to Australia in August. He established himself as a tobacconist in Lithgow and married Theresa Ellen Maloney in July 1921. He served as an alderman and mayor on Lithgow Council.[1]

Political career[edit]

Ashley was pre-selected for the Australian Labor Party Senate ticket for the 1937 election, partly because his surname would appear high on the ballot paper under the alphabetical system then in effect. With the fall of the Fadden government, he became Postmaster-General and Minister for Information in the Curtin government. In March 1943, he lost the portfolio of information, but gained the position of Vice-President of the Executive Council. In February 1945, he became Minister for Supply and Shipping.[1]

In a minor reshuffle in April 1948, Ashley became Minister for Shipping and Fuel, responsible for the Department of Shipping and Fuel. In June 1949, his handling of a scheme to introduce long-service leave for coal miners contributed to a major ensuing strike. He had implied that the federal government would contribute financially to the scheme, but this proved not to be the case. In addition, the proposed scheme might have limited the right to strike. He also attempted to support British economic recovery by buying oil from British companies—when they ran short of supplies, he was forced to impose petrol rationing. Both the coal miners' strike and the fuel rationing contributed to Labor's defeat at the 1949 election. He stayed in the Senate for the rest of his life and supported H. V. Evatt against the Industrial Groups.[1]

Ashley died in Sydney Hospital on 27 June 1958, survived by his wife and daughter.[1] He had suffered a stroke earlier in the month, while being driven to an appointment for his arthritis treatment.[2][3] He was accorded a state funeral.[4] Ashley died intestate.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Lee, David (1993). "Ashley, William Patrick (1881–1958)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 2007-11-18. 
  2. ^ "Senator Ashley Seriously Ill". The Canberra Times. 19 June 1958. p. 2. 
  3. ^ "Condition Of Senator Ashley Still Serious". The Canberra Times. 20 June 1958. p. 2. 
  4. ^ "Many Colleagues For Funeral Of Senator Ashley". The Canberra Times. 30 June 1958. p. 2. 
  5. ^ "Senator left no will". The Canberra Times. 10 December 1958. p. 7. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Collins
Succeeded by
Don Cameron
Preceded by
Richard Keane
Vice-President of the Executive Council
Succeeded by
Jack Beasley
Preceded by
Jack Beasley
Minister for Supply and Shipping
Succeeded by
John Armstrong
as Minister for Supply and Development
Minister for Shipping and Fuel
Succeeded by
George McLeay
Party political offices
Preceded by
Richard Keane
Leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate
Succeeded by
Nick McKenna