Altona Riding

In August 1928, with the Altona Riding was formed  and the first elections were held with seven local candidates stepping forward to represent the rate payers of this newly formed riding. The candidates were Mr R A Blomberg, Dr C C Cherry, Mr D Grieve, Mr V H Langdon, Mr J F O’Brien, Mr J O Pearce and Mr G T Twentyman. The three representatives elected in order, based on vote totals, were Dr Charles C Cherry, Mr David Grieve and Mr John F O’Brien.

Altona Riding Election Result 1928
Candidate Votes
Blomberg 186
Cherry 291
Grieve 278
Langdon 144
O’Brien 268
Pearce 151
Twentyman 161

 

The Shire Regulations required that each representative was elected for a term of three years, but one member, from each Riding, must stand for re-election each year. Again on the votes received, this time in reverse order, Mr O’Brien was first to stand for re-election, which happened in 1929, then Mr D Grieve in 1930 and then Dr Cherry in 1931. All were re-elected unopposed.

Dr. C. C. Cherry, a grazier and large property owner on the Kororoit Creek Road and had been a resident of the district practically the whole of his life and was fully alive to the requirements of the new riding. He had been promised solid support in the Newport and Spotswood areas, and had a large following in the Altona and Seaholme sections of the new riding. He was a keen supporter of the Town Planning Commission’s proposal for developing the outer suburbs,and was a strong advocate for bringing Kororoit Creek Road under under the supervision of the Main Roads Board to ensure its improvement being the main connection between Altona and Williamstown.

Mr. D. Grieve, was also an extensive property owner in the Williamstown and Newport sections of the riding. He had made a distinct success of his business affairs, and his knowledge of financial matters show that he was to be anacquisition at the council table. His many years residence within the shire and his intimate knowledge of the territory and was seen as a valued representative of the ratepayers.

Mr. J. F. O’Brien, a resident and property owner of Altona possessed qualifications which recommended him to the ratepayers. His profession as a public accountant and auditor has fitted him by training to have a full knowledge of financial matters, and his opinions were to be valued at the council level. As a business man of Altona, he was relied upon to advance the progress of the town.

This was a turning point for the Altona district ratepayers, who now had three seats at the council where they could directly debate the issues and needs of their area. These representatives, at Council, could now begin to directly influence decisions and drive for better facilities and conditions, and also ensure that more funding was being invested back into this area of the Shire. One should remind themselves that all of this was taking place at a time not long after the conclusion of WWI, but even though the war had ended peace and normality had not readily returned. Politics and the economies of the world were yet to stablise by any means. It was also at a time when residential development within the Altona Riding had gained momentum with new residents buying land and building. The population had grown from 50 persons in 15 dwellings to 1,722 in 403 dwellings, by 1933. It was also noted that by 1928 Altona could now boast as having 2 Bakers, 3 Butchers, 7 Grocers, a Newsapent, 2 Drapers, 2 Greengrocers, a Hairdresser & Tobacconist and several refreshment establishments, but no Hotel.

Even though Altona was now a Riding, the residents and the Altona Progress Association continued in their push to succeed from the Werribee Shire and govern in its own right. They still felt that they were contributing more the the Shire than what they were receiving in return. In 1936 (21 May) it was agreed by Werribee Council that the areas of Newport West and Spottswood West would be transferred to the City of Williamstown. Even though Altona now had three councilors, at the table, this was still three against twelve and whenever it was felt that too much was being spent in Altona the other Ridings vigorously protested. The Altona councilors and the Progress Association continued during the 1930’s, 1940’s and actively protested the inequality of spending in relation to the amount of income directed from Altona ratepayers to the council. In the early 1950’s they took there grievance and plans for severance to State Parliament via John Lemmon MLA but the status quo remained.

The fight for independence continued through the 1950’s, which another unsuccessful attempt being made in 1952, but Altona residents being who they are don’t give up easily and continued to put their case forward until 20th February 1957 their petition was granted and Altona was proclaimed as a new Shire. It was not the first time the Altona residents had come together for a common cause and it was certainly not going to be the last.

The following is a list of those who took on the challenge to represent the people and businesses of the Altona Riding from 1928 until 1957 when the Shire of Altona was proclaimed.

The Altona Riding 1928-1957
Councillor Elected Retired Shire President
Cr C C Cherry 23.8.28 22.8.40 32/33
Cr D Grieve 23.8.28 24.8.39 37/38
Cr J F O’Brien [i] 23.8.28 24.3.37
Cr J Murphy 24.3.37 10.4.41
Cr J K G Grant 24.8.39 15.11.51 42/43
Cr O C F Carling 22.8.40 9.8.44
Cr P C Green 23.4.41 23.8.45
Cr R S Marks 24.8.44 11.8.46
Cr F A Emery 23.8.45 5.4.51 47/48
Cr F Douglas 16.8.46 24.8.50
Cr J F Moore[ii] 24.8.50 27.7.53 52/53
Cr W E Carruthers 26.4.51 11.2.54 53[iii]
Cr E W Ward 8.12.51 10.12.53
Cr H C Kim 27.8.53 *
Cr M R Campbell 10.12.53 23.8.56
Cr G H Ransom 11.2.54 *
Cr R Logan 23.8.56 *

[i] Died in Office in 1937

[ii] Died in Office in 1953

[iii] Replaced Cr J F Moore as Shire President for remainder of term

References:

  • Age: 10 March 1927, page 5; 5 May 1927, page 7; 23 July 1927, page 15
  • Werribee Shire Banner: 19 May 1927, page 2; 20 October 1927, page 5; 24 May 1928, page 4; 16 August 1928, page 3; 30 August 1928, page 3
  • Argus: 19 July 1927, page 12
  • Herald: 29 April 1927, page 10
  • A History of Altona by Allan J. Clark Hon Secretary and Members of the Altona Historical Society, First published 1974, second edition 1978
  • Municipal Directory (1940 – 1957)

Research: Graeme Reilly (ALHS)