In the genes: McArthur born for political service

STEWART McArthur probably watched the hunting hounds run along Camperdown’s historic Finlay Avenue during an annual parade yesterday morning with a sense of nostalgia.

Stewart McArthur received an award for his service to politics and the community. Photo: DAMIAN WHITE

Stewart McArthur received an award for his service to politics and the community. Photo: DAMIAN WHITE

As the Howard government whip for 11 years, the former member for Corangamite is no doubt aware of the history around the position which involves ensuring the party’s elected representatives fall into line.

The term reflects the old fox hunting practice of “whipping in”, or ensuring the hounds don’t wander from a pack.

Mr McArthur lists the often demanding role as one of the highlights of his 23-year stint in Canberra. That “significant service” to Parliament, to policy debate in economics, industrial relations and agriculture, and to the community of Victoria, has today been rewarded with a Queen’s Birthday honour.

He is now Stewart McArthur AM — a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia. “I’m very honoured to receive recognition for both my parliamentary service and for local service,” he said.

Politics runs in the family’s blood. His father, Sir Gordon McArthur, served in the Victorian Legislative Council for 34 years and a great uncle and two cousins were also parliamentarians. 

“I discussed politics around the family table since the age of 10, back in the time of Henry Bolte and Sir Robert Menzies,” Mr McArthur said.

He knew Bolte personally and said John Howard was of a similar style. 

“I was a strong supporter of John Howard in both good times and in bad.”

Mr McArthur served the seat of Corangamite from 1984 until 2007 when both he and Howard “lost our seats by the will of the people”. 

His link with the Liberals began in 1962 when he became a party member, followed by roles as branch president and stints on electorate, conference, finance and campaign committees.

Mr McArthur has served on TAFE boards, advisory committees and agricultural college and university boards. 

He has also been involved with the Victorian Farmers Federation, the Graziers Association and the Young Farmers organisation. 

The Camperdown hospital benefited from his 17-year stint as a board member, including terms as president and treasurer.

The 77-year-old shows no signs of slowing down. He ran three half-marathons last year, including placing seventh in his age event at the World Masters Games in Turin, Italy in a time of two hours 32 minutes.

He acknowledged his wife Beverley, who he said had been a wonderful support, raising their three children, daughter, Sarah, and twin sons, Andrew and James, while he was busy with his parliamentary work.

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