who was born at
Sebastopol near Ballarat, Victoria on 23 January 1864 to a Swedish seaman
was educated at the local state school and later Creswick Grammar where he
matriculated in 1880; (Sir) Alexander Peacock (Creswick Cemetery) who
was to be his premier many years later was a pupil-teacher. Before he entered state
politics, Hagelthorn worked variously as a wharf lumber, grocery assistant in
Stawell, general store owner in Portland and as a successful stock and
station agent in Horsham as “Hagelthorn & Bolton” (1904-19); by the age of
forty he was wealthy and well respected throughout the Wimmera and Mallee
districts. The Melbourne Punch made the most of his Mallee
background: “Hagelthorn has had all the typical Mallee experience - stiff
work, failure, success, monotony, heat, rain…his appearance is the Mallee
brand, and in his disposition is the Mallee perseverance. As a speaker he
is matter-of-fact, and has the Mallee man’s weakness in wit”. Representing
the Legislative Council seat of North-Western Province (1907-19) as a
Liberal, it did not take long for Hagelthorn to show his mettle and he
served in various successive portfolios from 1909 to 1917: Minister without
portfolio and Immigration (1909-13); Public Health (1913);
Public Works (1913-15); and Agriculture (1915-17). Described as
a man of “soundness, ability and penetrating common sense”, he was above all
a man of great persuasive influence; in 1915 while Minister of Agriculture, Hagelthorn persuaded the Prime Minister
William Hughes (Northern
Suburbs Cemetery) to
establish the Australian Wheat Harvesting Scheme to enable the marketing,
shipping and sale of the nation’s wheat supply during the war which
prospered under his control. Punch noted that Hagelthorn “was the
right man to take hold of the problem. No ordinary politician dared have
done this…the 'Minister of Wheat' is not a politician at all in the sense it
is understood here. He does not care whether he offends individuals by his
scheme…he just goes straight ahead and makes good”. The following
year, along with Peacock and a number of professors from the University of
Melbourne including Sir Thomas Lyle (1860-1944), he was instrumental in the
formation of the Commonwealth Advisory Council of Science and Industry later
to become the C.S.I.R.O. Married with five daughters, Hagelthorn resided at 192
George Street, East Melbourne and died on 21 July 1943 aged 79.
(Reproduced with kind permission of the
Victorian Parliament Library)
ADB Volume 9 1891-1939 (Gil-Las).
Melbourne Punch 8 April 1915, 18 November
1915, 9 December 1915, 6 & 27 January 1916, 3 February 1916 & 22 May 1919.
The Argus 22 July 1943.
The Age 22 July 1943.
The Horsham Times 23 July 1943.
Browne, G., “Biographical Register of the
Victorian Parliament 1900-84” (1985).
Poynter, J., “Russell Grimwade” (1967).
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