Portrait Of Victoria Premier John McDonald

Portrait Of Victoria Premier John McDonald

Parliament Of Victoria

John McDonald Portrait

Victor P Taffa

Sir John Gladstone Black (Jack) McDonald (1898-1977), the 37th Premier of Victoria, was born Scotland, emigrating to Australia with his family in 1912. In March 1916 McDonald enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and served on the Western Front.

An orchardist in Shepparton, McDonald’s involvement in agricultural and community organisations led to a comfortable victory in the 1936 by-election for Goulburn Valley in the Legislative Assembly.

A member of the Country Party, McDonald was party whip from 1938-1943 and in 1945 transferred to the seat of Shepparton.

McDonald was Minister without Portfolio in the Dunstan-Hollway coalition government from June to September 1943, and Minister of Water Supply and of Electrical Undertakings from September 1943 to October 1945.

During John Cain’s Labor government (1945-1947), he was leader of the County Party and opposition, and in October 1947 McDonald became Deputy Premier and Minister for Lands, Water Supply and Soldier Settlement in Thomas Hollway’s Liberal-Country Party coalition government (1947-1948).

In June 1950 McDonald negotiated with Labor and became Premier in a coalition government, however the conservative approach of the Country Party caused tensions in the coalition.

The refusal of cabinet to commute Jean Lee’s death sentence in 1951, the handling of industrial relations and McDonald’s resistance to the redistribution of seats left him in a precarious position.

McDonald survived a no-confidence motion in September 1952. In retaliation he established a royal commission to investigate bribery allegations against the motion’s leader Thomas Hollway. One month later, Labor and Hollway supporters blocked Legislative Council supply and McDonald resigned as Premier.

Hollway formed a Government lasting three days, and McDonald was re-commissioned Premier by the Governor on the 31st of October and was granted dissolution of Parliament.

Labor won its first majority government in the December 1952 election and McDonald continued on in Parliament for another term, retiring in 1955.

McDonald’s achievements as Premier included

  • Establishment of the Mental Hygiene Authority,
  • Establishment of the Gas and Fuel Corporation Authority,
  • Expansion of the Eildon Weir,
  • Extension of votes in the Legislative Council for all adults.

In 1957 John McDonald was knighted.

John McDonald died on 23 April 1977 at Mooroopna and received a state memorial service. He was survived by his wife Mary and three children.


History Of The Premiers Portraits

The Hon. Frederick Grimwade, President of the Legislative Council 1979-1985, initiated the idea of a portrait gallery for former Premiers of Victoria. He arranged for paintings to be commissioned from photographs of former non-living Premiers and life studies of living former Premiers.

Every Premier since 1933 (with the exception of Ian MacFarlan, who was Premier for 51 days) is represented in the portrait collection. Prior to this date there are portraits of only 4 former Premiers.

The portraits were originally displayed in the corridor leading to the Members Dining Room, appropriately named the ‘Premiers’ Corridor’.

Grimwade’s initiative was a success and eventually the collection of portraits grew so large that another space in the building had to be considered for their display.

In 2001, the year of the Centenary of Federation and Sesquicentenary of the Legislative Council, the portraits were moved to Queen’s Hall. In the Roman Revival style architecture of the lofty Hall, the group of portraits are positioned around a centrally placed marble statue of Queen Victoria.

There are currently 18 Premiers portraits in this collection. The 17 most recent are on display in Queen’s Hall, while the 1893 portrait of Premier James Paterson, the largest in the collection, hangs in Premiers’ Corridor.


Title                Premier John McDonald

Artist              John Perry

Date                1983

Medium          Oil on canvas

Dimensions     1230 x 970 x 65 mm


Premier 31st October 1952 – 17th December 1952

Premier 27th June 1950 – 28th October 1952

This portrait by John Perry was painted posthumously.