King O'Malley


King O'Malley (right) at the naming of Canberra, 1913, with vice-regal personnel

'King' O'Malley (c 18581953), politician, was born in North America. After a career as an insurance salesman, he came to Tasmania in 1889 and moved to the mining town of Zeehan. A keen federalist, O'Malley campaigned as an independent for the new House of Representatives, coming an easy second in the election. In 1901 he joined the Australian Labor Party, which eventually supported his proposal for a national bank.

Twice minister for home affairs, O'Malley supported Burley Griffin's plan for the national capital. His hostility to Australia's involvement in the First World War saw him distanced from party leaders and his pro-conscription electorate, and he lost office in 1916. O'Malley claimed to be the true founder of the Commonwealth Bank, and was the last survivor of the first commonwealth parliament.

Further reading: ADB 11.

Wendy Rimon