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Ernest Wetherell

Ernest Wetherell
Minister for Education
In office
31 May 1960 – 13 May 1965
PremierRobert Heffron
Jack Renshaw
Preceded byRobert Heffron
Succeeded byCharles Cutler
Minister for Transport
In office
16 September 1953 – 15 March 1956
PremierJoseph Cahill
Preceded byClarrie Martin
Succeeded byGeorge Enticknap
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Cobar
In office
12 March 1949 – 31 March 1965
Preceded byMat Davidson
Succeeded byLew Johnstone
Personal details
Born(1893-03-26)26 March 1893
near Mount Egerton, Colony of Victoria
Died31 March 1969(1969-03-31) (aged 76)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Political partyLabor Party
SpouseFlorence Scott
ChildrenWilliam, Maureen and Thomas
OccupationMiner, unionist, journalist

Ernest "Ern" Wetherell (26 March 1893 – 31 March 1969) was an Australian politician and a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1949 until 1965. He was a member of the Labor Party and held numerous ministerial positions between 1953 and 1962.

Early life

Wetherell was born in the gold rush town of Mount Egerton, Victoria and was the son of a miner. His father and an elder brother died in mining accidents by the time he was 14. He was educated to elementary level at catholic schools and initially worked in a gold battery at Ballarat. He arrived in Broken Hill in 1911 and worked as a miner until the Australian General Strike of 1917. He later worked as a journalist and editor on left wing newspapers.[1]

State Parliament

After an unsuccessful attempt to win the seat of Sturt as an independent at the 1922 state election, Wetherell became active within the Labor Party and was elected to the parliament as the member for Cobar at the 1949 by-election caused by the death of the sitting Labor member Mat Davidson. He retained the seat at the next 5 elections and retired at the 1965 election.[1]


Wetherell was a member of the governments of Joseph Cahill, Robert Heffron and Jack Renshaw. He was appointed as Minister for Transport in 1953 and between 1956 and 1960 was the Minister for Conservation. Wetherell was responsible for the dismantling of the extensive Sydney Tramway network in favour of buses.[2]

From 1960 until his retirement he was the Minister for Education. During his tenure he continued Bob Heffron's work on the education reforms known as the Wyndham Scheme were in the final stages of planning which culminated in the Public Education Act of 1961, which included an expansion of secondary education from 5 to 6 years and the replacement of the Leaving Certificate by the Higher School Certificate.


  1. ^ a b "The Hon. Ernest Wetherell (1893–1969)". Former members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  2. ^ Saulwick, Jacob (24 November 2012). "Turning back the clock to clear the CBD". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 April 2018.


New South Wales Legislative Assembly Preceded byMat Davidson Member for Cobar 1949 – 1965 Succeeded byLew Johnstone Political offices Preceded byClarrie Martin Minister for Transport 1953 – 1956 Succeeded byGeorge Enticknap Preceded byGeorge Enticknap Minister for Conservation 1956 – 1960 Succeeded byGeorge Enticknap Preceded byRobert Heffron Minister for Education 1960 – 1965 Succeeded byCharles Cutler
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Ernest Wetherell
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