09/01/2008 - 22:00

Defender of states' rights

09/01/2008 - 22:00

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

It is fitting that the life and legacy of Sir Charles Court, the trade unionist’s son who became Western Australian Liberal premier, be celebrated when the state is in the midst of an unprecedented time of economic prosperity.

It is fitting that the life and legacy of Sir Charles Court, the trade unionist’s son who became Western Australian Liberal premier, be celebrated when the state is in the midst of an unprecedented time of economic prosperity.

Sir Charles, whose life was commemorated at a state memorial service last week, is credited as being one of the architects of the state’s thriving iron ore and gas industries.

A staunch defender of the rights of the states, Sir Charles championed the belief that WA should be able to generate substantial wealth in its own right, rather than rely on federal grants.

Premier Alan Carpenter described Sir Charles as one of the most significant public figures in the state’s history.

“No single person in public life has had as much influence in the development of WA in the last 50 or 60 years,” he said.

Chief executive of state’s peak business body, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA, John Langoulant, said Sir Charles was one of WA’s finest leaders who, through his passion for the state and drive for investment, was able to leave a lasting legacy.

Born in Sussex, England, in 1911, Charles Court came to Australia with his family while still a baby.

Completing his schooling at Perth Boys School (now Hale School), Sir Charles went on to study accountancy before starting his own accountancy firm, Hendry, Rae and Court, in 1938.

He left the practice in 1940 to serve in the army, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel during his five-year service in New Guinea and Bougainville Island.

In 1946, Sir Charles joined the Liberal Party, then called the Liberal Country League, seemingly at odds with his unionist upbringing.

His life in public office began in 1953 when he was elected as the Member for Nedlands, where he served under premier Sir David Brand when the Liberals took office in 1959.

As minister for industrial development and the north west, Sir Charles fostered the development of the state’s iron ore industry, as well as bauxite and mineral sands mining in the South West.

Carrying on his commitment to the state’s resources industry after being elected premier in 1974, he played a key role in the birth of the North West Shelf natural gas industry. 

Among his other key achievements was his role in the establishment of the State Agreement Act processes, key infrastructure projects including the Dampier to Bunbury gas pipeline, the development of the Ord River scheme, and the Kwinana industrial precinct.

Sir Charles retired from politics in 1982 at the age of 70.

Tributes from key business and political figures have expressed gratitude for his pivotal role in laying the foundations for the economic strength currently being experienced by the state.

He is survived by his wife, Judy, and his five sons, Victor, Barry, Ken, former premier Richard, and Geoffrey.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options