World News – AU – Doug Anthony dies at the age of 90


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Mr. Anthony’s career began as a dairy farmer in his hometown of Murwillumbah in the Tweed Valley in northern New South Wales.

Politics was in his blood and a young Mr Anthony spent his childhood accompanying his father, Hubert Lawrence « Larry » Anthony – a minister under Menzies – on trips to Canberra, where they stayed at the Kurrajong Hotel.

These opportunities meant meeting political giants like Earl Page and the Labor War Prime Minister John Curtin.

« Curtin was very nice to me and every night after dinner we would come into the lounge and have a seat to sit in, he and I, and he would tell me bedtime stories. « 

His father died suddenly when Mr. Anthony was 27 years old, and then somewhat reluctantly agreed to quit his full time job on the farm and run for Richmond headquarters.

He won that by-election in 1957 and was quickly prepared for leadership. In the same year he married his wife Margot.

By 1964, Mr. Anthony had been appointed Secretary of the Interior and three years later, Minister for Primary Industries.

He was known as an approachable, relatively laid back politician who was often portrayed in the media as a bit of a country fool.

« I loved it, I was, » he told ABC’s Heather Ewart in her 2014 documentary Country Road.

But he was also a fierce political actor and known for never stepping into the background as a junior coalition partner.

Along with Ian Sinclair and Peter Nixon, he fought on numerous fronts. The three men built a reputation as a « troika ».

« We weren’t shy and if we had to fight we would fight . . . we tried to be sensible, but we wouldn’t take nonsense from anyone either, « said Doug Anthony in his eighties.

The three men first showed their political powers in 1961 when former Prime Minister Billie McMahon urged the value of the Australian dollar to increase.

Fearing the plan would affect rural exports, they stormed out of the cabinet three times and considered leaving the coalition.

« We just couldn’t accept McMahon’s approach. He tried to belittle the party . . . and there is no way he would, « said Mr. Anthony.

« We were ready to face him, and we were a pretty powerful group, the three of us together. « 

Doug Anthony tackled the big problems of farming wool and wheat in the early 1970s, lambasting Britain publicly as Australian farmers stayed high and dry by joining the Common Market.

As Minister of Commerce, he traveled to London for a fiery meeting with his British counterpart.

« Here we were, your best friend you ever had. We had sent our forces to Gallipoli, we had sent our forces to France. In the second war we came and gave all possible support, « raged Mr Anthony decades later.

« And yet, after delivering groceries at a bargain price for about 15 years, come and pick us up! »

To fill this void, he pursued trade deals in Asia and the Middle East and strengthened Australia’s ties with Japan.

And he helped Malcolm Fraser overthrow Gough Whitlam in the 1975 general election when a landslide victory became the largest majority in Australian history.

Doug Anthony’s son Larry continued the family tradition by serving two terms at the Richmond headquarters. But Mr. Anthony never liked to call it a « dynasty ».

« I never expected to be where I am today. I am very happy to be where I am. I think I’ve made a useful contribution and that’s the satisfaction I get from the job, « he once said of the Hustings.

« I don’t have big ambitions. I never had great ambitions. But I like responsibility, yes, I respond to responsibility. « 

Mr. Anthony preferred not to be in the spotlight in his later years and to spend time with his wife Margot on the family farm.

This service may contain material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service that is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced.

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time, 10 hours before GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Doug Anthony, National Party of Australia, Deputy Prime Minister, Australia

World News – AU – Doug Anthony dies aged 90
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