Frank Stewart

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Francis Eugene "Frank" Stewart (20 February 1923-16 April 1979), Australian politician and rugby league footballer, was a member of the Australian House of Representatives representing Lang between 1953 and 1977 and subsequently Grayndler between 1977 and 1979 for the Australian Labor Party. During his term in parliament, he was the Minister for Tourism and Recreation. Prior to his election to parliament, Stewart played first grade rugby league for Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs between 1948 and 1950.

His younger brother, Kevin Stewart Order of Australia, was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing Canterbury between 1976 and 1981, also for Labor. Kevin Stewart was a New South Wales government minister.

Early life and army career

Stewart was born in the Sydney suburb of Belmore and educated at St Joseph's School, Belmore and St Mary's Cathedral College, Sydney. He married Maureen Neagle Smith in August 1952.[1]

He served in the Second Australian Imperial Force in New Guinea with the 39th Transport Platoon in 1944 and 1945 and was eventually promoted to sergeant.

Political career

Stewart joined the Australian Labor Party in 1942 and was elected as the federal member for Lang in 1953 and belonged to the right-wing Catholic faction of the party. He was widely considered a grouper, although unlike many other "groupers" he never left the Labor Party.

When the Whitlam government was elected in 1972, he became Minister for Tourism and Recreation. Stewart was a strong opponent of abortion and the no-fault divorce reform passed in 1975. As Vice-President of the Executive Council, in 1975, he presided over the meeting that revoked Rex Connor's authority to raise overseas funds. The Sydney Morning Herald later published allegations that he was so concerned about Connor dealings with Tirath Khemlani that he leaked information to the opposition on the Loans Affair.

After the fall of the Whitlam government, which was precipitated by the Loans Affair, Stewart moved to the backbench. When Lang was abolished prior to the 1977 election, he transferred to Grayndler.

Kevin Stewart (1929–2006), Health Minister in the New South Wales government led by Neville Wran, was Frank's younger brother. Frank Stewart died in Long Jetty, New South Wales, of myocardial infarction while playing squash and was survived by his wife, five daughters and one son.[1]

Australian Institute of Sport

As Minister for Tourism and Recreation, in 1974 Stewart appointed a study group to report on the feasibility of establishing an Australian sports institute. Released in 1975, the report recommended the establishment of a sports institute, now known as the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).[2] One of the buildings at the AIS is named after Frank Stewart in recognition of the central role he played in the Institute's establishment.

Rugby league

Patrick Francis Stewart, the father of both Kevin and Frank Stewart, was the founding president of the Canterbury Bankstown Leagues Club. The Stewart family have been long term supporters of the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs and Frank played first-grade rugby league for the Bulldogs from 1948 to 1950. In recognition of this support, the grandstand at Belmore Sports Ground (the former home ground of the Club) is named the "Stewart Stand" after Patrick, Frank, and Kevin Stewart.

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Clune, David. "Stewart, Francis Eugene (1923–19)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A160374b.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  2. "History and successes". Excellence: the Australian Institute of Sport. Australian Sports Commission. 2002. http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/history. Retrieved 10 July 2011.