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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Goudie, Sir George Louis (1866–1949)

by Geoff Browne

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Sir George Louis Goudie (1866-1949), farmer, grazier, storekeeper and politician, was born on 30 April 1866 at Homebush, near Avoca, Victoria, third child of George Goudy, Scottish-born schoolteacher and later railways official, and his wife Caroline, née Ashton, of Adelaide. He always spelt his name as Goudie.

After education at state schools, in 1888 Goudie took up farming at Birchip; he was one of the first users of superphosphate in the Mallee. From 1904 he combined farming with storekeeping as a partner in the firms of Goudie, Young & Sanders at Birchip, and Goudie Williams & Co. at Hopetoun. He later owned a grazing property at Egerton, and a wheat farm at Hopetoun before moving to Elsternwick, Melbourne, about 1920.

Before entering politics Goudie had acquired formidable experience of local government. He was a member of three shire councils, Birchip (1895-1910), Ballan (1914-16) and Karkarooc (1917-22), and was president of Birchip Shire in 1898-99 and 1907-08. In May 1919 he was elected unopposed as a Victorian Farmers' Union (Country Party from 1926) member of the Legislative Council for North-Western Province, the first V.F.U. candidate to be elected to the council. He held the seat until his death in 1949 and had the singular record of never having to contest an election.

He served as commissioner of public works and minister of mines in the Lawson-Allan ministry from September 1923 to March 1924 and held the same portfolios under Allan from November 1924 to May 1927. In (Sir) Stanley Argyle's ministry he held the portfolios of water supply from May 1932 to March 1935 and of labour from May 1932 to July 1934; he was also in charge of electrical undertakings from July 1934 to March 1935. Together with Allan he argued strongly against the decision to withdraw Country Party support from Argyle's ministry in March 1935. Nonetheless, he served in the resulting Dunstan Country Party ministry as commissioner for public works and minister of immigration from April 1935 to September 1943 and was government leader in the Legislative Council in 1942-43.

Goudie never pretended to brilliance, but was a 'good solid plodder' who became a highly competent administrator, noted for his practical contributions to debates on rural issues. He chaired the Employment Council for six years and, in 1942, was appointed chairman of the Air Raids Precautions Shelters Committee. He was knighted in 1939.

On 9 September 1890 at Birchip Goudie had married Alice Maud Watson with Presbyterian forms; they had five sons. A tall, large-framed man, he was 'hard but just', patient and very likeable. He was a keen gardener, enjoyed reading, and taught himself French. Survived by his wife and sons he died at Elsternwick on his eighty-third birthday, 30 April 1949, and was cremated after a state funeral.

Select Bibliography

  • L. G. Houston, Ministers of Water Supply in Victoria (Melb, 1965)
  • J. E. Senyard, Birchip—Essays on a Shire (Birchip, 1970)
  • Parliamentary Debates (Victoria), 1949, p 597
  • Age (Melbourne), 23 June 1938, 2 May 1949
  • private information.

Citation details

Geoff Browne, 'Goudie, Sir George Louis (1866–1949)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 20 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

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