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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Heading, Sir James Alfred (Jim) (1884–1969)

by G. W. Roberts

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

Sir James Alfred (Jim) Heading (1884-1969), farmer and politician, was born on 28 January 1884 at Payneham, South Australia, second child of William Heading, a farmer from England, and his wife Rhoda Sarah, née Cook. Jim was educated at Netherby. About 1909 he moved to Queensland where he farmed at Cobbs Hill, near Murgon. Elected to the Weinholt Shire Council, he played a major role in acquiring a butter factory for the region in 1913; two years later he became chairman of the newly created Murgon Shire Council.

On 18 September 1915 Heading enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He joined the 47th Battalion in Egypt and in June 1916 moved with it to the Western Front. His service was interrupted by long periods of convalescence in England as a result of wounds to the leg and the shoulder. In June 1917 he was promoted sergeant. On 12 October at Passchendaele Ridge, Belgium, after all the officers of three companies had become casualties, he took charge. Disregarding personal danger, he placed outposts and connected the flanks; for these actions he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. At Dernancourt, France, on 5 April 1918 his platoon commander was killed. Heading again took charge and established control of no man's land in the immediate vicinity; he won the Military Medal and was promoted warrant officer. Transferring to the 45th Battalion in May, he arrived home in August 1919 and was discharged on 14 October. On 2 October that year he had married Ruby Jeanie Thomas at the Methodist Church, Clarence Park, Adelaide.

On his farm, Highfields, Heading became a noted stud breeder of Illawarra Shorthorn cattle and Large White pigs. He was chairman of the Queensland Co-operative Bacon Association (1926-57) and of the South Burnett Co-operative Dairy Association (1930-57). President (1951-55) of the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland, he was a keen supporter of agricultural shows, and a foundation member (1920), president and patron of the Murgon Pastoral, Agricultural and Horticultural Society. He was also a foundation member and president of the local branch of the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia. Appointed major in the Volunteer Defence Corps in September 1942, he commanded the 20th Battalion in Queensland in 1942-46.

In May 1947 Heading won the Legislative Assembly seat of Wide Bay for the Country Party; from 1950 to 1960 he represented the newly created electorate of Marodian. He was minister for public works and local government (1957-60) in (Sir) Francis Nicklin's cabinet and his administration was characterized by an expansion of government building, notably new schools. Appointed C.M.G. in 1954, he retired from parliament in May 1960 and was knighted in 1961.

A kindly man, devoted to his family, Heading never lost the 'common touch'. He was fond of cricket and said that the game 'taught players to take defeat or victory in the right spirit'. Survived by his son and three daughters, Sir James died on 9 April 1969 at Murgon; he was accorded a state funeral and was cremated. A park in Murgon is named after him.

Select Bibliography

  • C. Lack (compiler), Three Decades of Queensland Political History, 1929-1960 (Brisb, 1962)
  • Parliamentary Debates (Queensland), 1969-70, p 23
  • Countryman (Brisbane), May 1969
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 5 May 1950, 10 Apr 1969
  • South Burnett Times, 26 Nov 1980
  • information from South Burnett Co-operative Assn, and Murgon Shire Council, RSL and Horticultural Society, and Royal National Assn
  • private information.

Citation details

G. W. Roberts, 'Heading, Sir James Alfred (Jim) (1884–1969)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 7 August 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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