STOREY, John (1869-1921)

STOREY, John (1869-1921)
premier of New South Wales
son of a ship-builder, was born at Jervis Bay, New South Wales, in May 1869. At the age of six he was taken to Sydney where his father died soon afterwards. Storey was educated at the Adolphus-street public school, Balmain, and on leaving school was apprenticed to boiler-making with Messrs Perdriau and West. He worked afterwards at Mort's Dock until 1901, when he was elected a member of the legislative assembly for Balmain. He lost his seat in 1904, but was elected again in 1907. Between 1910 and 1912 he was chairman of the public works committee, but though he was establishing a good reputation as a parliamentarian, Storey was not included in the government formed by Holman (q.v.) in June 1913. He was, however, made deputy-chairman of committees. In April 1916 Holman was much criticized at a Labour conference and resigned. Storey was elected Labour leader, but the circumstances were difficult, and he was much relieved when a compromise over the question of the upper house was agreed to, and Holman resumed his leadership. When, however, Holman had to leave the Labour party over the conscription issue, Storey was elected in his place. Storey had two sons in the A.I.F. and a third was engaged on war work in the United States, but he was strongly against conscription and worked effectively opposing it. At the election held in March 1920 Labour secured exactly half the seats in the house, but a Nationalist supporter was elected speaker, and Storey formed a government, with a precarious majority of one. As premier Storey worked extremely hard trying personally to keep in touch with everything. There was no limit to his hours of work and the strain no doubt affected his constitution. He was so ill at the beginning of 1921 that he took a voyage to England in the hope that it might improve his health. When he returned in July 1921 it was obvious that he was a very sick man, and he died of Bright's disease on 5 October 1921. He left a widow, three sons and two daughters.
Storey was a good cricketer in his youth, and played in first-grade competitions. In his later years he was interested in horse-racing. He was a simple homely man, completely honest, a model citizen, witty and humorous, genial and lovable. He was not a great speaker though his speeches had individuality, but he was a good debater. Coming into power with only a nominal majority and disabled for part of the time by illness, it was difficult for him to bring in legislation of importance. His comparatively early death was lamented by friends and opponents alike—he had no foes. It was realized that here was a man who had done the state some service and might have done it much more had he had the opportunity. No man of his period was more widely and sincerely mourned.
The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, 6 and 8 October. 1921; H. V. Evatt, Australian Labour Leader.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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