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McCauley, Percy John (1866–1949)

by Craig McCauley

Started in journalism on Australian Star (New Protectionist Evening Newspaper), 1889. First performance as Principal Tenor for St. Brigid’s Choir, Marrickville, 1889. House and Land agent in Newtown NSW, 1891. Journalist with The Daily Telegraph, 1893. Conducted the annual property rates valuation for Borough of Newtown, 1894. Honorary Secretary, Darlington National Protection Association, 1894. Journalist with Daily Post (aka. Labor Post), 1895. Campaigned for Protectionism in Yass, 1895. Relocated to Yass in 1896 and inaugurated a local Protectionist League. Obtained an auctioneer’s licence and formed “Barber & McCauley”, farmers’ agents, 1896. Defeated for Protectionist nomination in Yass in the 1898 NSW election. Published an open letter, “Have We No Claim?” which provided the genesis for the National Capital being located in Yass, 1899. Honorary Secretary of the newly-created Yass Federal City League, 1899. Featured speaker at a “Monster Public Meeting” for Federation, 1899. Candidate for the Boorowa by-election “in labour interests”, 1899.

Relocated to Clifton, Qld. in 1900 and set up the first farmers’ market. Awarded property valuation contract for the Division of Clifton, 1900. Inaugural Secretary of the Darling Downs Pastoral, Agricultural & Industrial Association, Clifton, 1901. Established the “Clifton Despatch” newspaper, 1901. Organised the first and second Clifton DDPA&I Ploughing Matches, 1901-1903. Candidate for the Cunningham by election “in labour interests”, 1903. Organised the first and second Clifton Shows, 1904-1905. President, Closer Settlement League (Clifton), 1906. Justice of the Peace (Court of Petty Sessions), 1906. Elected President of the Darling Downs Pastoral, Agricultural & Industrial Association, 1907. Inaugurated the Southern Queensland Country Press Association, 1907. Managed the election campaign for the Kidstonian candidate in Cunningham, 1908. Appointed licencing judge, Clifton, 1908. Inaugurated the Clifton Progress Association, 1908. Founding member of the Clifton Railway League, 1908. Established Clifton Progress Association and Chamber of Commerce, 1911. Contested the seat of Cunningham at the 1912 Qld. state election, losing to the incumbent. Declared Insolvent as a result of the failure of the “Clifton Despatch”, 1912. Consequently resigned as a Justice of the Peace, 1912. Was farewelled from Clifton with a gala dinner and a purse of sovereigns in recognition of his civic contributions, 1912. Awarded Lifetime Membership of the Darling Downs Pastoral, Agricultural & Industrial Association, 1912. Departed Clifton for Toowoomba and then on to Brisbane, 1912.

Working with his son, Harold, at the Daily Standard, Brisbane and then as Commercial Editor for the Brisbane Courier, 1913. Relocated from Brisbane to Yass and became proprietor of the Yass Courier, 1914. Arrested for non-payment of wages (facing four months gaol) and consequently declared Bankrupt, with the Yass Courier returning to its previous owners, 1915. Moved to St. Kilda and became President of the newly-formed “St. Vincent’s Choral Society”, 1916. Worked on publicity for the Commonwealth Bank, primarily promoting War Loans, 1916-1920. President of the merged “Catholic Choral Society”, 1917. Edited the KatCanKalAugOod Gazette, souvenir journal of the Trans-Australian Railway, 1917. Fell afoul of PM Billy Hughes over conscription, 1917. Performed to 80,000 people at Our Lady of Victories, Camberwell, 1918. Returned to Sydney and became a journalist with the Labour News. Worked on his brother’s campaign for Sydney City Council, 1921. Worked with his son, Harold, at the new Daily Mail before soon resigning and contributing articles to the Daily Telegraph, 1922. Joined the Labor Daily just as his son was leaving to join J.T. Lang as Private Secretary. Family home used as the Labor tally room for NSW State election, 1927. Worked the ALP Federal election campaign, 1928. Contributed “Another Lie Is Nailed” and “Holes in the Armour” columns to Labor Daily ahead of the 1931 Federal election. Pushed out of Labor Daily in a factional spat, 1932. Returned to join his son, Norman, at Labor Daily as “Day Editor” (Chief Censor), 1932. Included in several exposés of J.T. Lang's “Inner Group”, 1937. Joined the initial staff of J.T. Lang’s The Century, where he remained for over a decade, 1938. Again, included in an exposé of the McCauley family and its financial ties with the NSW Labour Party, 1938. Golden Wedding Anniversary celebrated with the highly-unusual honour of a Mass at home, 1941. Died in his sleep with his funeral conducted at the Church of Our Lady of Dolours, Chatswood. The Requiem Mass was attended by J.T. Lang and other dignitaries, 1949.

Original Publication

Citation details

Craig McCauley, 'McCauley, Percy John (1866–1949)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/mccauley-percy-john-22928/text32305, accessed 21 September 2021.

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