George Beeby

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Sir George Stephenson Beeby KBE (23 May 1869 – 18 July 1942) was an Australian politician, judge and author.

Early life[edit]

Beeby was born in Alexandria, Sydney the second son of English-born Edward Augustus Beeby, a book-keeper, and his wife Isabel, née Thompson. Beeby was educated at Crown Street Public School and entered the education department of N.S.W. on 3 July 1884 where he became a pupil teacher at Macdonald Town (Erskineville) Public School. Subsequently he was an accountant, and in 1900 qualified as a solicitor. He had become interested in the land taxation proposals of Henry George in 1890 and was prominent in the beginnings of the New South Wales Labor party.[1][2]


Beeby worked as a journalist for a while and then began practising as a solicitor. The 1901 arbitration act brought him much business; it was stated in 1906 that his firm had been concerned in two hundred disputes. In January 1907 Beeby stood as a Labor candidate for Blayney at a by-election due to the resignation of W. P. (Paddy) Crick, but Beeby was defeated by 23 votes.[1]

Beeby, however, won the seat in the following September, and with William Holman was successful in considerably modifying the amending industrial disputes bill brought in by Charles Wade. When James McGowen formed the first New South Wales Labor ministry in October 1910, Beeby was his minister of public instruction and of labour and industry until 11 September 1911 when he became minister for public works until December 1912. He had, however, come to the conclusion that the time had arrived for the formation of a party which would include the moderates of all parties. He resigned from the cabinet in December 1912 and was re-elected for Blayney on his new policy on 23 January 1913. He failed to get support in the house, and resigned from parliament.[1][3]

Beeby had been called to the bar in 1911 and now worked up a successful practice as a barrister. When Holman formed his national ministry in November 1916 Beeby became minister for labour and industry with a seat in the New South Wales Legislative Council. In 1918 Beeby, who had in the meanwhile been elected to the assembly for Wagga Wagga, succeeded in passing an industrial arbitration amendment act though it was strongly opposed by the Labour party. Towards the end of 1918 he visited Britain and the United States and, shortly after his return in June 1919, resigned from the government as a protest against administrative acts in connexion with the sale of wheat and the allotting of coal contracts. In March 1920, with the introduction of proportional representation, he was elected as the member for Murray,[3] but in August he resigned to be appointed a judge of the New South Wales arbitration court. In 1928 he became a member of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration bench.[1] In the same year Beeby imposed an award favourable to the Federal Government's industrial policy which the Waterside Workers' Federation rejected. This resulted in strike action and later violence.[4]


Beeby was appointed chief judge in March 1939 and in the same year was created KBE.[1]

Late life and legacy[edit]

Beeby retired in 1941 and died on 18 July 1942. He married in 1892 and was survived by his wife, a son and three daughters. One daughter, Doris Isobel Beeby (1894–1948), was a communist party member and sought higher women's wages.[2] His son, Edward Augustus (1892–1984), was (among other things) a musician and playwright. Edward opened the Patch Theatre in Perth WA in 1939 [1].


Beeby was the author of Three Years of Industrial Arbitration in New South Wales (1906), a pamphlet; Concerning Ordinary People (1923), a volume of readable plays; In Quest of Pan (1924), a satire in verse on some of the Australian poets of the period; and A Loaded Legacy, a light novel which appeared in 1930.[1]


  • Dregs[5]
  • In Quest of Pan
  • One Touch O' Nature
  • Potter and Clay
  • Still Waters[6]
  • The Banner
  • The Creative Urge
  • The Point of View
  • Merely Margaret [7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Serle, Percival. "Beeby, Sir George Stephenson (1869–1942)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 3 September 2007. 
  2. ^ a b Bede Nairn (1979). "Beeby, Sir George Stephenson (1869–1942)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7. MUP. pp. 243–246. Retrieved 1 April 2007. 
  3. ^ a b "Sir George Stephenson Beeby (1869–1942)". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 3 September 2007. 
  4. ^ David Baker. "Barricades and batons: an historical perspective of the policing of major industrial disorder in Australia" (PDF). Retrieved 23 August 2007. 
  5. ^ "JUDGE BEEBY'S". Retrieved 2017-09-18. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "JUDGE BEEBY AS DRAMATIST". 22 September 1927. p. 6 – via Trove. 


Additional sources listed by the Dictionary of Australian Biography:

Additional sources listed by the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

  • H. V. Evatt, Australian Labour Leader (Sydney, 1942); U. Ellis, The Country Party (Melbourne, 1958); B. Nairn, Civilising Capitalism (Canberra, 1973); G. S. Harman, 'G. S. Beeby and the first Labor electoral battle in Armidale', Labour History Bulletin (Canberra), 1 (1962), no 3; A. Landa, 'The State industrial system', New South Wales Industrial Gazette, 109 (1953), no 3, supplement; 'George S. Beeby and the new party', Lone Hand, 1 April 1913; Town and Country Journal, 16 January 1907; Punch (Melbourne), 19 December 1912, 6 September 1917; Sydney Morning Herald, 24 January 1913, 20 July 1942; Table Talk (Melbourne), 26 January 1928; Smith's Weekly (Sydney), 10 August 1940; Kate Baker papers (National Library of Australia); G. S. Beeby letters (State Library of Victoria); H. E. Boote papers (National Library of Australia); Carruthers correspondence (State Library of New South Wales); J. C. Watson papers (National Library of Australia).
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
John Withington
Member for Blayney
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Walter Boston
Member for Wagga Wagga
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Brian Doe
Member for Murray
Served alongside: Ball, O'Brien
Succeeded by
Matthew Kilpatrick