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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Enticknap, Ambrose George (1894–1976)

by David Clune

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Ambrose George Enticknap (1894-1976), orchardist and politician, was born on 19 May 1894 at St Kilda, Melbourne, fifth child of Ambrose Enticknap, painter, and his wife Alice, née Nankivell, both Victorian born. At the age of 7, George became seriously ill with osteomyelitis and had a leg amputated above the knee; he used a crutch for the rest of his life and was nicknamed 'the Ibis'. Educated at Lilliput and Rutherglen state schools, he worked as a wheat-buyer and timber-cutter in Victoria (once winning a tree-felling competition). In 1918 he moved to the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area in New South Wales and obtained employment as a carpenter. On 18 October 1922 at Hawksburn, Melbourne, he married with Free Christian Church forms Beatrice Olive Mitchell. Next year he began to grow fruit in the M.I.A.

A founder (1925) of the Yanco fruitgrowers' association, Enticknap chaired (1927-37) its successor, the Leeton Fruitgrowers' Co-operative Society Ltd. With fellow growers, he formed the Leeton Co-operative Cannery Ltd in 1934 to purchase the Leeton works from the Stevens government. He chaired the company from 1935 to 1954 and was also involved with other fruit growers' associations. A widower, on 20 May 1937 at St Barnabas's Anglican Church, Sydney, he married a nurse Rose Anne Laverty.

Having been elected to Willimbong Shire Council in 1928, Enticknap was its president in 1938, but resigned that year to be general manager (1938-41) of the Yenda Producers' Co-operative Society Ltd. He unsuccessfully contested the Legislative Assembly seat of Murrumbidgee in 1935 and 1938 for Lang Labor. Ineligible to stand in 1941 for pre-selection as the official Labor candidate because of his affiliation with Lang's breakaway Australian Labor Party (Non-Communist), Enticknap won Murrumbidgee as an Independent. The 1942 annual conference readmitted him (with continuity) to the official party.

From 1941 to 1965 the State Labor governments were notable for prominent, able, long-serving rural members such as Enticknap. Chairman of caucus (1950-53), in November 1952 he was appointed minister for conservation in J. J. Cahill's cabinet, with responsibility for extending the M.I.A. and creating the Coleambally Irrigation Area. On 15 March 1956 he was given the transport portfolio, partly because it was hoped that, as a rural member, he would not be vulnerable to pressure from urban trade unions. He clashed with the transport unions on numerous occasions. In 1960 he returned to conservation and was also minister for agriculture from 1962 until his retirement in 1965. A strong minister who kept on top of his department, he was associated with the dominant, right-wing group in the government.

Although Enticknap was popular and convivial, he had a tougher side: on one occasion he was involved in a brawl with a colleague in the parliamentary dining-room. He was a keen fisherman, an accomplished mouth-organ player and made toys for charity with a craftsman's skill. In retirement he ran a shoe-repair service for needy pensioners. Survived by his wife, Enticknap died on 3 January 1976 at his Hurstville home. Both his marriages were childless.

Select Bibliography

  • Parliamentary Debates (New South Wales), 6 Nov 1951, p 4100, 26 Mar 1952, p 5764, 24 Feb 1976, p 3591
  • A.L.P. Journal, Aug 1961, p 27
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 16 June 1941, 15 June 1942, 27, 28 Mar 1952, 7 Dec 1957, 26 May 1960, 31 Dec 1966, 5 Jan 1976
  • Daily Mirror (Sydney), 25 Feb 1954
  • D. Clune, The N.S.W. Election of 1941 in Rural Areas (M.A. thesis, University of Sydney, 1982)
  • private information.

Citation details

David Clune, 'Enticknap, Ambrose George (1894–1976)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 25 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

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