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Richard Ball (Australian politician)

Ball in 1930
Ball lays the foundation stone for the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Richard Thomas Ball (14 September 1857 – 30 October 1937) was a politician and engineer in New South Wales, Australia.

Early life

He was born in Sydney to farmer George Ball and Ann, née Hooper. After attending primary school at Eastern Creek, he worked for several engineering companies and as a blacksmith.[1] In 1880 he was charged with attempting to bribe Henry Parkes, the Colonial Secretary, asking for employment and offering a bonus of £50.[2] He pleaded guilty and was not convicted on entering his own recognisance of £80 to appear when called upon.[3]

He purchased Burn and Sons foundry at Goulburn in 1881. He established his own company in 1885, but was bankrupted in 1894. Ball served on Goulburn Council from 1887 to 1894, and was mayor from 1890 to 1891.[1][4] After being discharged from bankruptcy he moved to Albury to be involved in the building of the waterworks. In 1898, he moved to Sydney, to practice as a mechanical engineer.[1]

Political career

Ball was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly as the representative for Albury in 1895 as a Free Trade member.[5] He was defeated in 1898 by 39 votes (2.4%),[6] largely due to his opposition to elements of the federation proposal.[1]

In 1904, Ball returned to the Legislative Assembly as a member for Corowa, initially as a Liberal Reform member, switching to the Farmers and Settlers party in 1913 before joining William Holman's grand coalition[7] which coalesced into the Nationalist Party in 1917. He served until the introduction of proportional representation in 1920.[8] Albury was merged into Murray and Ball was elected as one of three members.[9] After single-member districts were re-introduced in 1927 he returned to his old seat of Corowa,[8] He was a supporter of the Riverina new state movement. He joined the United Australia Party in 1931 but the following year he defected to its coalition partner, the Country Party.[1] There were 2 Country Party candidates for the 1932 election for Corowa and Ball retained the seat by just 1 vote after 72% of Lang Labor preferences went to the other Country Party candidate.[8]

In November 1916 Ball was appointed Secretary for Public Works and Minister for Railways in the second Holman ministry. He was briefly Minister for Agriculture in the second Fuller ministry from April to June 1922 before resuming his old position as Secretary for Public Works, Minister for Railways and assuming additional responsibilities for State Industrial Enterprises and Housing, in which he served until the government's defeat in 1925. He was responsible for passing through Parliament the Act authorising the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and signing the contract for its erection.[10] In 1927 he was appointed Minister for Lands in the Bavin ministry.[5]

Personal life and death

On 6 May 1880 Ball married Esther Arnold, with whom he had four children.[5] Ester died on 27 August 1920 (aged 63).[11] On 26 January 1926 he married Lillie May Hume.[5]

Ball died at Marrickville on 30 October 1937(1937-10-30) (aged 80).[5][10]


  1. ^ a b c d e Rutledge, Martha (1979). "Ball, Richard Thomas (1857–1937)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  2. ^ "Attempt to bribe the Colonial Secretary". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 May 1880. p. 7. Retrieved 25 September 2021 – via Trove.
  3. ^ "Central Criminal Court: Richard Thomas Ball". The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser. 14 August 1880. p. 7. Retrieved 25 September 2021 – via Trove.
  4. ^ "Goulburn's roll of mayors". Goulburn Evening Penny Post. 24 March 1938. p. 17. Retrieved 25 September 2021 – via Trove.
  5. ^ a b c d e "The Hon. Richard Thomas Ball (1857–1937)". Former members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  6. ^ Green, Antony. "Elections for the District of Albury". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  7. ^ "Proceedings in the Assembly: censure motion defeated". The Sydney Morning Herald. 11 November 1916. p. 13. Retrieved 7 May 2020 – via Trove.
    "No state crisis". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 November 1916. p. 6. Retrieved 7 May 2020 – via Trove.
  8. ^ a b c Green, Antony. "Elections for the District of Corowa". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  9. ^ Green, Antony. "Elections for the District of Murray". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Mr R T Ball, MLA: death announced". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1 November 1937. p. 12. Retrieved 25 September 2021 – via Trove..
  11. ^ "Family Notices". The Daily Telegraph. 28 August 1920. p. 10. Retrieved 25 September 2021 – via Trove.


Parliament of New South Wales Political offices Preceded byJohn Cann Secretary for Public Works 1916 – 1920 Succeeded byJohn Estell New office Minister for Railways 1916 – 1920 Preceded byBill Dunn Minister for Agriculture 1922 Succeeded byFrank Chaffey Preceded bySir Thomas Henley Secretary for Public WorksMinister for Railways and State Industrial Enterprises 1922– 1925 Succeeded byMartin Flanneryas Secretary for Public WorksMinister for Railways Minister for Housing 1922 – 1925 VacantTitle next held byJames McGirr Preceded byTed Horsington Minister for Lands 1927 – 1930 Succeeded byJack Tully New South Wales Legislative Assembly Preceded byJohn Wilkinson Member for Albury 1895–1898 Succeeded byThomas Griffith New district Member for Corowa 1904–1920 District abolished Preceded byBrian Doe Member for Murray 1920–1927 With: George Beeby / Matthew KilpatrickWilliam O'Brien / Vern Goodin Succeeded byMat Davidson New district Member for Corowa 1927–1937 Succeeded byChristopher Lethbridge Civic offices Preceded byHenry Gannon Mayor of Goulburn 1890 – 1891 Succeeded byE Howard
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Richard Ball (Australian politician)
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